Some of the UK’s leading business heavyweights including Sir Richard Branson and Sir Martin Sorrell as well as the current and next presidents of the Confederation of British Industry and the chairmen of BT, Deloitte, Lloyds and Centrica argue that exiting the EU could cost the British economy up to £92bn (almost $140 billion) a year, The Independent newspaper reports. A number of UK’s most successful and eminent business figures have signed a letter to The Independent where they slam Eurosceptics for ignoring the national interest in their call for the UK to leave the European Union. It is the first coordinated response from the business community to the anti-EU rhetoric.The businessmen call for PM David Cameron to “strengthen and deepen” the European single market to drag an extra £110 billion ($167 billion) to the British economy. Opinion polls in the country reveal that exiting the EU is the most likely scenario. Anti-EU sentiment has been growing since 2007, when almost half the UK population didn’t trust the European bloc. A similar survey undertaken last year revealed that 69 percent of those who took part were euro-sceptic.A draft bill on an in-out referendum has been proposed by the ruling Conservative party, saying it must be held before the end of 2017. According to The Independent, two cabinet ministers have already declared that they would vote to leave the EU if the referendum were held today. The newspaper also says that some senior Tories are quite certain a new EU membership deal for Britain that eurosceptics would support is hardly an option for Cameron.The businessmen in their letter refer to the economics, saying that exiting the EU would bring nothing but losses to the UK economy. “The economic case to stay in the EU is overwhelming,” the business leaders state in the letter to the The Independent. “To Britain, membership is estimated to be worth between £31 billion ($47 billion) and £92 billion ($139 billion) per year in income gains, or between £1,200 to £3,500 for every household.”“What we should now be doing is fighting hard to deliver a more competitive Europe, to combat the criticism of those that champion our departure. We should push to strengthen and deepen the Single Market to include digital, energy, transport and telecoms, which could boost Britain’s GDP by £110 billion ($167 billion) ,” they add. …
China recently became the largest foreign market for Hollywood. According to a report by Motion Picture Association of America, box office takings for American films have grown by 36 per cent last year. A number of film buffs meanwhile say that the US regards the Asian country as its biggest competitor.“China, without a doubt. They look at Russia as a market that’s growing its business. They look at China as becoming Number 1 film market in the world within the next 10 years,” US film industry expert Sperling Reiсh told RT at Cannes, where an International Film Market is in full swing on the French Riviera.There’s no escaping censorship in China: the government censors all movies before they are allowed to be released. It’s a system of protection making sure that anti-communist and anti-Chinese films, as well as those deemed overly vulgar and violent, are banned from screening.Part of the ambiguity is that the ‘rules of the game’ are not clearly stated, and officials censor films by their own judgment. Each time US filmmakers release their multi-million-dollar productions in China, they end up running up against one and the same obstacle: strict censorship. Western films have to meet a set of unstated expectations and requirements to be among the 34 Hollywood films officially allowed in China each year.Django Unchained: ‘Nothing to replace China’s state censorship with yet’ Last month Quentin Tarantino’s slavery-revenge/action adventure Django Unchained was pulled from theaters in China, allegedly for ‘technical reasons’, with Hollywood insiders saying cuts were ordered by the local authorities.The latest installment of James Bond saga, Skyfall, also had several ‘sensitive scenes’ cut out.Some say censorship is the ‘least of the worries’ that foreign filmmakers shooting on location in China may be facing.“The biggest problem has been getting the film in and the box office out. Usually during the release there will be censorship as there are only two distributors in the country, China Film Group being the main state-owned one. But the biggest problem is that there are no rules. I heard one studio executive recently saying that the issue with China is that there’s always an issue in China. It’s never very straight,” Reiсh said.“One thing that the Chinese government and film industry is miscalculating is that US studios are run by giant corporations that have shareholders to please. Rules have to be made clear, ” Reich added.The all-time box office record in China was set by Avatar, which grossed nearly $225 million in 2010. The highest-grossing Hollywood release in 2012 was the 3D version of another James Cameron hit, Titanic, which raked in $150 million, making China the world record-holder for sales of tickets of the film.However, the version of Titanic shown to Chinese cinema-goers censored nudity in the movie – a shot was changed to show the nude Rose (Kate Winslet) from only her neck up. China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television altered the film’s nude scenes over fears that audiences would try to reach out and ‘touch’ Winslet in the 3D version.That same scene – where Winslet’s character poses nude as Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) draws her – was censored in China during the debut release of ‘Titanic’ in 1998, the Hollywood Reporter said. However, many in China managed to watch the original version on pirated copies; the nude scenes quickly became the talk of the town.An international publisher for China’s G-W Pictures, Oliver Dong, says that there’s “nothing to replace this [censorship] system yet with. If we change it suddenly, we will be daunted.” According to Dong, there’s a “huge gap between China and the US, in every single aspect.” “There’s some 20-30-year time gap between the two, with each country’s economy being highly related to psychology. Economy-wise you can be rich, but spiritually – not so well-off.” “I don’t think that the only competitor for the US is China; every country can be a competitor. It’s just that they don’t think another country can be better than they are. Several decades ago the US regarded Russia as its competitor, their enemy…” Dong told RT.China challenged to cooperate ‘not just with America’ A film expert from China’s Huanxia Film Distribution company says collaboration is much better than competition, at least when doing business together. “It’s important for China to cooperate not just with America, but with all other countries. All audiences, no matter where they come from, have something in common,” Ma Fang told RT. In 2012, the box office of films released by Huanxia Film Distribution reached 5.4 billion yuan (over $860 million), increasing by 500 per cent of that of 2008. The company says it has also boosted its investment in co-production films. Since 2012, 10 films have been approved for co-production with France, Australia, Canada and Japan, while 21 are set to be co-produced with by China and the US.When asked about censorship, Fang suggested changing the subject however, saying he would “rather not talk about censorship.” “We are a state-owned company, Fang explained, I hope the system gets better.” In the first quarter of 2013, Chinese films fetched a combined $570 million for a 69 per cent market share, leaving less than a third for the market for Hollywood, according to Variety.The low-budget Chinese comedy Lost in Thailand, as well as films like Finding Mr Right and So Young, generated over $488 million at the box office, according to Hollywood Reporter. The domestic market accounted for nearly three-thirds of ticket earnings last year.China also boasts the largest number of 3D movie screens in the world, at nearly 7,500. By 2020, the country is expected to overtake the US as the world’s biggest box office marketplace, with 25,000 screens set to go up over the next five years, according to Ernst and Young.China’s film industry ‘not affected by global economic crisis’ The CEO of Montecristo International, Cindy Nelson-Mullen, told RT that while many fellow US filmmakers have been hitting their heads trying to take bite out of the Chinese market share, her company has been lucky doing business with a number of Chinese companies without a hitch.“We’re small independent distributors, and our relationship with China has been on the production side. Our partners are a Hong Kong-based production company called Visual Magic. They are exceptional partners with tremendous amount of talent. They also look at it as an opportunity to get involved in the US market, as it’s not a market that they’ve been able to crack,” she explained.Speaking of which, the biggest problem of the US film business is that it’s a conglomerate, according to Nelson-Mullen.“The US film business is owned by five companies. An independent filmmaker has a very difficult task and a tougher road to face. Everybody is struggling, it’s a difficult time.” But her partner from the Hong Kong-based Film Magic, Kirsty Fung, reassures that China “hasn’t been affected by the economic crisis so far.” “The money is there,” the ambitious Chinese producer who studied in the US told RT. It’s the matter of finding and matching the right investors, finding the right theme and then creating a good product. It’s the same game, with an only exception that China is just more restrictive than others,” she explained.Fung says the real challenge for the US filmmakers is to create films that relate to audiences China. “I can’t say that the Americans and the Chinese are so different. Business is business,” she added.“If you look at China as a state, it’s been through a lot. It’s a country that’s not easy to match, with its own culture and its own diversity. There are over 1.3 billion people there, many of them are uneducated. To manage them is really difficult. The cultural transition within the society could take some 20-30 years,” Fung predicted.US film companies battle Chinese censorship with own restrictions According to the producers from US movie company The Asylum, the Chinese film market has already begun to change.“When we started dealing with Chinese film companies seven years ago, we came against censorship and the practice that those we were working with just didn’t pay the bill. Later we’ve instituted our own restrictions. We had no problems since we’ve started asking to see a copy of the censorship failure letter explaining that this doesn’t pass the censorship because it doesn’t have any artistic value,” Paul Bales told RT. Bales and his partner David Rimawi believe that although the economic crisis in America has stepped back, other countries are not immune to the echoing consequences of the global slowdown.“From our perspective, the worst is over for the US. Economy has recovered to an extent; business has stabilized. But now recession that we were in a couple of years ago is reaching the rest of the world, and Europe,” Bales said.In 2012 box office revenues reached $10.6 billion in North America; attendance rose 6 per cent for the first time in many years. Meanwhile, box-office revenues in Italy went down by 8 per cent and 6.5 per cent in Spain, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.Film buffs from The Asylum note that while everyone is talking about business opportunities of doing business with BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – with their lucrative emerging markets, they are in fact “more difficult to work with than any others.” “I wonder whether when the US started off in the 1700s everyone said, ‘Oh gosh, the Americans… they are the worst!’” Bales said.Valeria Paikova, RT, Cannes …
Sweden’s once flourishing pharmaceutical testing industry has been decimated in recent years, suffering an 85-percent drop according to new figures that industry experts describe as “deeply troubling”. …
Retailers back safety initiatives in Bangladesh… 15/05/2013 20:04 CET
Bangladesh Mourns 14/05/2013 18:54 CET
“When I saw the light I shouted ‘save me brother!’“… 13/05/2013 23:26 CET
More bodies found in collapsed Bangladesh building 12/05/2013 19:03 CET
Bangladesh miracle survivor speaks 11/05/2013 00:56 CET
Hundreds of textile factories in Bangladesh have reopened after protests over pay and working conditions in the wake of last month’s deadly building collapse.
The plants had been closed by the authorities on safety grounds in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka.
At the Setara Group factory it is hoped that production will be back in full swing over the weekend. Workers said they want factories to continue running in order to keep their jobs.
“I’ve been working in this factory for a long time and we’ve never faced any problems,” said Fatema Begum, one of the employees. “There were problems at other factories in the area after the Rana Plaza collapsed so we closed. We want to let the industry run smoothly so we can survive. We want our factories to remain open.”
International workers organisations have welcomed an agreement signed by 31 Western clothes brands to improve safety at factories in Bangladesh.
The collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza complex on April 24 is known to have killed 1,127 people.
Earlier this week the government approved an amendment to labour laws, paving the way for parliament to allow textile workers to form trade unions without prior approval from factory owners.
It also formed a wage board to consider pay increases for garment workers.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
The proposed bill, B20-170, would mandate insurance coverage for negligent and intentional acts in which a gun is used in cases other than self-defense. Even those who already own gun licenses would be required to purchase the liability insurance within 30 days of the effective date of the bill.The bill states that its purpose is to compensate victims of gun violence through the money raised from the licensing mandate, but critics have scrutinized the measure for possibly inflicting heavy costs upon gun owners.It is not yet clear how much a $250,000 liability insurance policy would cost, but if it is significant, it could serve as a barrier against purchasing firearms. Democratic Councilmember Mary Cheh, who introduced the bill, told WTTF-TV that she is willing to negotiate with critics about the cost.“I don’t mean it to be a centrifuge as a ban,” she said. “I want it to really be insurance.”She also added that guns “are instrumentalities that, if mishandled or allow others access or mishandling, can cause great harm,” thereby emphasizing the need for insurance to compensate victims.But there is also a gap in the proposed bill: if crimes are committed using an illegal weapon, victims would not receive any sort of compensation, since those who buy guns illegally would not have mandated insurance.The council committee heard testimonies on the need for such insurance on Thursday, but D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration does not currently support the bill. In a written testimony to the DC Council, the deputy insurance commissioner wrote that the mayor “is not convinced that there is currently a persuasive argument to support the need for insurance for firearms in the home.”Three gun owners and two insurance-industry representatives testified against the bill during the10 a.m.hearing, while the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence testified in favor of the proposal, the Associated Press reports.A number of other states are considering similar measures to the bill proposed by Cheh, but no such law has yet been passed in the US.Meanwhile, the state of Maryland has this week entered the ranks of states with the most restrictive gun laws. Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday signed a bill that will ban 45 assault rifles and restrict ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. The legislation also requires Americans who buy handguns to be fingerprinted. …
Protests in Shanghai against pollution 11/05/2013 17:34 CET
China: Halt to plant expansion doesn’t stop protests 29/10/2012 13:13 CET
Chinese anti-chemical protests dispersed 27/10/2012 11:23 CET
Chinese manufacturing picks up 21/03/2013 15:22 CET
‘Airpocalypse’ smog in China 01/03/2013 12:00 CET
More than two thousand people have held a rally protesting against a planned chemical plant in southern China.
It is the second demonstration this month against the project.
Amateur footage on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter showed a strong police presence.
“They have chosen a project that will create lots of pollution,” said one protester. “It will destroy our environment and our homeland and only benefit the owners.”
The plant is due for Kunming city and is expected to produce a chemical used in the making of fabrics and plastic bottles.
It has been approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission but since then opposition to the project has grown.
Analysts say China’s increasingly affluent urban population has begun to object to “growth at all costs” giving environmental issues more of a priority.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
The websites targeted by the campaign include the biggest torrent pages and file-hosting search engines, like ExtraTorrent, Torrentz, TorrentReactor.The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is also threatening to ask courts to block US-based music streaming group Grooveshark.While most of the torrent sites currently set to be blocked for copyright infringement are small operations, Grooveshark is an exception as a larger company that has been battling the majors in particular for some time now, Musicweek noted.“It looks like we could be facing an onslaught of web blackouts here in the UK,” the leader of the UK Pirate Party Loz Kaye told RT. “What we’ve seen from 2012 is that it hasn’t helped with music sales at all, that actually album sales failed 10 per cent.”Loz Kaye is also sure the record companies will eventually face their plight if they don’t change their policies.“Essentially, this is about the record labels trying to remain gatekeepers and actually push other companies out. But this approach will not work! It’s going to alienate a generation of music lovers, and it’s going to perhaps radicalize internet users.”However, the BPI told RT in an online statement that their only intention is to protect the artists’ and legal services’ rights. They also confirmed that the music licensing group PPL has begun polling its members on licensing content for particular websites.“We’re not really doing any interviews about this. I can say, though, that it’s correct PPL has asked its members to confirm to us if they’ve licensed their recorded music to particular websites. This is part of our ongoing work to ensure that legal music services can flourish and that artists and labels are rewarded for their work,” a representative of the British trade body said in an email to RT. Now, it seems the BPI is starting the biggest anti-piracy initiative yet.“Over the past years, UK music labels have innovated to build one of the most vibrant digital music sectors in the world. However, the growth of digital music in the UK is held back by a raft of illegal businesses commercially exploiting music without a license from the copyright holders,” the group indicated in their official statement. In the latest successful court initiative, the BPI blocked three torrent sites (KickAssTorrents, H33T and Fenopy) three months ago. It happened after almost a year ago, an unknown official from the music industry told the TorrentFreak website that PPL had started polling its members on the matter of privacy. …