Panel Urges Global Shift On Sources of Energy
Energy experts convened by the world’s scientific academies Monday urged nations to shift swiftly away from coal and other fuels that are the main source of climate-warming greenhouse gases and to provide new energy options for the two billion people who still mostly cook in the dark on wood or dung fires.
In a report commissioned by the governments of China and Brazil, the 15 experts called for, at a minimum, a doubling of both public and private energy research budgets and a firm — and rising — price on emissions of greenhouse gases to encourage a shift in investments toward cleaner or more efficient technologies.
The report, “Lighting the Way — Toward a Sustainable Energy Future,” was posted online at www.interacademycouncil.net by the InterAcademy Council, a group representing the world’s 150 scientific and engineering academies.
Bruce M. Alberts, a former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a co-chairman of the InterAcademy Council, said the independent academies would now press the case for their proposals with their respective governments.
Kyrgyzstan’s Leader Dissolves Parliament
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev disbanded Parliament and called Sunday for snap parliamentary elections after Kyrgyz election officials announced that voters had overwhelmingly adopted a controversial new constitution and election law in a weekend referendum.
But observers said they witnessed widespread ballot-stuffing and warned that this Central Asian state — home to a U.S. air base that provides critical support to the war effort in Afghanistan — was sliding into authoritarianism.
Bakiev announced the referendum and unveiled the actual document just a month ago. It was, he said, an effort to break once and for all the political impasse that has stymied the country ever since its previous leader, Askar Akayev, was driven from power in March 2005 by violent protests against falsified parliamentary elections.
Organized Crime Takes Lead in Italy’s Economy
Organized crime represents the biggest segment of the Italian economy, accounting for more than $127 billion in receipts, according to a report issued on Monday.
The new figure reflects a trend that has been under way for a few years, the annual report says. The figure last year was $106 billion, making it not quite the biggest segment of the economy. It also said that the line between legitimate business and criminal activity was becoming harder to discern, making it more difficult to weed out criminal elements.
The annual report is titled “SOS Businesses” and was released by the Confesercenti, an association of small businesses. The report, which analyzes the extent of criminality throughout Italian businesses, asserts that through various activities — extortion, usury, contraband, robberies, gambling and Internet piracy — organized crime syndicates account for 7 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product.
“From the weaving factories, to tourism to business and personal services, from farming to public contracts to real estate and finance the criminal presence is consolidated in every economic activity,” the 86-page report said.