United States

McDonald’s Promise Sustainable Beef

Posted on Updated on

McDonald’s, the biggest purchaser of beef in the US has promised that it will begin buying beef from a verified and sustainable source by 2016.

There is a but… They don’t know what verified sustainable beef actually is!

There is no definition of beef, for anybody that is, so this claim by McDonald’s is ambitious in more ways than one I guess. On the plus side McDonald’s are working with suppliers such as Wal-Mart to come with a definition they can work within, but this sounds a bit like asking a fox to guard the chickens. It’ll be a definition that suits McDonald’s but which may not actually resemble anything you or I might understand as beef. So on the negative side the players are setting the rules!

Image

When I go to my local butcher and ask for a cut of beef I fairly well know what I’m looking at is beef. This might not be so clear with a McDonald’s definition I venture. Beef could end-up being something that’s mechanically reclaimed beef which is roughly equivalent in terms of protein content.

Image

Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president has explained that they are not ready to give a figure for how much beef will be from a verifiable sustainable source in 2016, its an “aspirational goal” he says, you better believe it if they don’t actually know what beef is I reckon. But it has been speculated that the process to get from zero to 100% beef from verifiable sustainable sources could take 10-years.

But think about this for a moment; the route the beef takes – cattle farm – suppliers – slaughter houses – patty makers… burger on a bun.  All parts of the supply chain act independently with each taking a profit and still we have the £1.99 Happy Meal!

How do they do it for the money?

Nonetheless verifiable sustainable beef or not a McDonald’s burger will still be 550 calories, and half the recommended level of fat for a day.

Advertisements

Gender Gaps

Posted on Updated on

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, Internat...
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christine Lagarde, Director of the IMF, said recently, “In the long race ahead, it makes no sense to simply eliminate half the contestants before the starting gun is sounded. Letting women participate more fully in economic life can yield enormous economic benefits.”

Its probably fair to say that in the developed west that women get a better deal in terms of equality in the workplace than probably anywhere else on the planet. That’s no to say there is absolute equality, there isn’t, but they do experience a much closer to the male experience than almost anywhere else. Of course Asia is probably the most desperate place to be a woman right now but the Middle East offers some hope.

The Middle East is a key region of interest because although increasing numbers of women are receiving a good standard of education, the region still lags behind on the core issue of economic equality. On a global scale, the latest figures from the World Economic Forum‘s Global Gender Gap Report show that although the gender gap in education is 93% closed, the gap in economic equality has closed by only 60%. A problem!

There is plainly a disconnect from the classroom to the workplace. Education will continue to be vitally important generally but it has to be questioned where the focus for women’s education is. What educational support do women need to prepare them for the world of business and work?

Perhaps the Middle East is swayed by overt sexual discrimination? This might be too simple an explanation but nonetheless probably forms part of the explanation. Women entrepreneurs seeking loan capital may have their ideas and suggestions dismissed on the basis of them being a woman rather than straight forward commercial measure of the likely hood of success of the business being proposed. Women’s enterprise then is choked-off at source! The net result is retarded economic growth with only 50% (at best that is) of economically active people partaking in forwarding the economy.

Youth is the key to forward growth and engagement economically. The youth of today shape the future of tomorrow. This despite the political and military challenges facing the region at the present time, youth hold the key.

I am quite sure that each country will need a unique approach, cultural challenges presented by national identities possibly being the most difficult of challenges to overcome, but not insurmountable over time. My assumption is that the majority of countries of the Middle East will face many common challenges, possibly more so than any other region and this then may prove to be the deciding factory in regional success and therefore the model for the rest of the world to follow. Well we can hope I guess.

The exception to the Middle East rule is Israel with an economy broadly speaking similar to developed European and US economies. Although I’m not suggesting that Israel is not without economic issues to overcome, but they are much closer (and in some respects further on) than the close by European economies in respect to equality of opportunity.

Women in the workplace, women in business… it simply makes no sense to eliminate half the contestants before the starting gun is sounded. Letting women participate more fully in economic life will yield enormous economic benefits.

How should a person be judged?

Posted on Updated on

English: receiving from Judge his certificate ...
English: receiving from Judge his certificate of American citizenship. Deutsch: erhält von Richter Phillip Forman seine Bescheinigung über die amerikanische Staatsbürgerschaft. Português: recebendo do juiz seu certificado de cidadão americano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How should a person be judged? By what s/he is or what s/he could be?

If the person is you; you are judging yourself then it is the person you are that is the measure to use. If you wake one morning, look in the mirror and decide that actually you have been lazy, you could have done better, that you have in some way messed-up some lately but you know deep down that you could have done better then judge what you have done, what you are and not what you could have been, could have done. By this point your potential is wasted and you know its wasted.

By asking yourself what you have become, what you have done you will eventually look at your talents and the resources you have to hand and you should know if in some way you’ve fallen short that you have wasted the talents and resources granted to you. By wasting them like a muscle that’s not exercised they will wither and rot over time so that your potential will diminish.

If on the other hand the person is not you that you judge then in this case you must judge on the basis of their potential, what they could be, what they could achieve. You have no way of knowing, no certainty, no way of understanding the things and circumstances that prevent them from reaching their potential. So when you meet someone who is a real mess, don’t look upon them with scorn initially, you should see the person they could be and judge on that basis.

All you have to remember is that the greater the persons potential the further they have to fall. People may be tempted by things that will addict them and these addictions may be greater than anything we could possibly know ourselves or be able to resist but you do not know the extent of the persons will, the extent to which they can exercise control over their lives and you cannot possibly be in a position to judge this. The lesson is that we all have demons; our own we know, for others we can only guess.

The products and deeds we make and do are of our own and not others. Judge yourself on this basis. The products and deeds of others alert us to their achievements so far but we know there is more, much more is possible, its just not known or certain.

US Debt Crisis Oct. 2013

Posted on Updated on

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...
English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House Español: Barack Obama firmando la Ley de Protección al Paciente y Cuidado de Salud Asequible en la Casa Blanca (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After a shade more than 2 weeks (16 days to be precise) the US debt crisis appears to be coming to a close, well for now at least. America came within a whisper of default on its national debt because the Republicans and the Democrats couldnt see eye-to-eye on a solution.

On Wednesday 15 Oct. 2013 the Democratic leader Harry Reid said that Senate leaders had found an agreement, with non-essential government services to be reopened; but only until a new deadline of January 15, 2014. America’s borrowing authority will be increased until February 07, 2014. Reid said: “The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs.”

Yet to outside observers, the past three weeks have been totally baffling; a perplexing cocktail of Tea Party, Ted Cruz, Obamacare and debt.

So how and why did the Washington Administration came so close to pushing the world back into financial chaos.

  1. From the beginning, what was the Default? The US government nearly defaulted on its debt because the two main parties (yes there are only two choices and neither of them are particularly attractive from my European perspective), the Republicans and the Democrats struggled to reach a deal to increase the country’s debt limit (of course this simply means they are allowing themselves to borrow even more, as if the debt isn’t already at eye-watering levels!).
  2. What does that mean? The debt limit set is the total allowable $ value of government borrowing. The limit, set by Congress is usually issued in the form of treasury bonds and securities. If the debt limit isn’t increased, then America can’t honor its debts to foreign countries. We all get to pay for America’s spending!
  3. And why is that so bad? The US $ is the world’s reserve currency (travel almost anywhere and you can get by with US $). If the US can’t pay its debts, the stock markets would react swiftly and badly, plunging the US and the rest of the world back into recession (as if we ever really got out of recession in the first place).
  4. So why didn’t they just raise it without all the argument? This deal was so difficult to reach because the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, was facing massive pressure from within his own party not to compromise with the Democrats. Amounting to, it would seem a ‘screw the economy’ attitude to get what they wanted or to those of us with a little more maturity, plain childishness!
  5. Right then, got that bit; but what did it all have to do with Obamacare? The Affordable Care Act, was passed into law in 2010 (that’s by both Democrats and Republicans), but is despised by the Republican Party, who see it as a violation of free market principles and an expansion of the state, a bit too socialist for them. It’s also President Obama’s signature achievement, making it a high value target for his opponents.
  6. And the Government Shut-down? The shutdown came about because Congress couldn’t (wouldn’t) agree on a debt budget for the country. The Republicans tried to tie the dismantling of Obamacare to the passing of a national debt budget deal. When the Democrats refused to cave-in on the healthcare law, the government closed. The Republicans then tried the same hostage taking tactic over the debt ceiling. Same result.
  7. Go on then explain why they threatened the debt ceiling? Breaching the debt ceiling would be a catastrophe; the US came to the brink of default because a small group of Tea Party-backed politicians (the lunatic-right) who just didn’t care if the government defaulted on its debts. They despise the Democratic government and they despise Obama even more. Had the US have defaulted, it would have happened on Obama’s watch, which would have been a victory of sorts for the Republicans after their failure to dismantle Obamacare. But screw the world!
  8. Right so we know why, now who? Led by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, this extreme right-wing (wrong-wing) of the Republican Party amounts to only 18% of the elected GOP, however it is hugely powerful thanks to the support of the Tea Party, who have threatened to challenge any Republican who voted in favor of a compromise with the Democrats.
  9. Okay, this takes money, where from? The Tea Party was able to threaten established GOP politicians because they have a lot of financial backing from wealthy businessmen such as the Koch Brothers. So any Republican politician that compromised would face a well-funded opposition campaign the next time voters went to the polls. Its all really about self interest.
  10. Got that, what do they stand for though? Even the Koch brothers didn’t want the US to default on its debt, that’s just bad for business. Meaning something else was driving the Tea Party; IDEOLOGY. The Tea Party came to prominence in 2008 after the global financial meltdown and the subsequent bailouts. They wanted less government regulation, less national debt and more fiscal responsibility! Not particularly bad when you say it like that but hang on just a second…
  11. Just tell me about the reality please? …2008 also saw the election of Barack Obama, the country’s first Black President (some people call him The Kenyan and some believe him to be Muslim, not that either is a bad thing as such but in some peoples eyes either one or both statements if true would be seen as a PR disaster). The Tea Party didn’t like this as they saw it representing a shift away from their view of “traditional America” (traditional America = Christian Right-Wing; the KKK is probably a good example of a Christian Right-Wing organisation in America). As such, they set about challenging everything Obama did, even if that meant bringing the US and the world to the brink of financial disaster. Great idea.

 

So, the Americans have pulled-back but honestly is anybody fooled? This situation is set for a repeat January/February next year. In short; situation normal, round two set for after Christmas!

 

Ye-Haaa welcome to the wild west!

Truth is…..

Posted on Updated on

English: The Wilde Trial as recorded in The Il...
English: The Wilde Trial as recorded in The Illustrated Police News, May 4 1895. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
― Mark Twain

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
― Mark Twain

“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”
― Mark Twain

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
― Oscar WildeThe Importance of Being Earnest

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
― Gloria Steinem

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous HuxleyComplete Essays 2, 1926-29

“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.”
― Stephanie KleinStraight Up and Dirty: A Memoir

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
― Flannery O’Connor

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
― George Orwell

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”
― Pablo Picasso

“There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
― Benjamin Disraeli

“So you’re always honest,” I said.
“Aren’t you?”
“No,” I told him. “I’m not.”
“Well, that’s good to know, I guess.”
“I’m not saying I’m a liar,” I told him. He raised his eyebrows. “That’s not how I meant it, anyways.”
“How’d you mean it, then?”
“I just…I don’t always say what I feel.”
“Why not?”
“Because the truth sometimes hurts,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. “So do lies, though.”
― Sarah DessenJust Listen

“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
― François de La Rochefoucauld

“Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.”
― Robert Orben

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
― Oscar WildeThe Nightingale and the Rose

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
― Virginia Woolf

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
― Ernest Hemingway

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
― Malcolm X

“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.”
― Maya Angelou

“Love truth, but pardon error.”
― Voltaire

“Whether you live to be 50 or 100 makes no difference, if you made no difference in the world.”
― Jarod KintzGreat Listener Series Mute Women

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
― George Washington

“Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”
― Lemony SnicketThe Blank Book

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
― Lao TzuTao Te Ching

White Widow

Posted on Updated on

AMISOM Al Shabab and Somali public
AMISOM Al Shabab and Somali public (Photo credit: macalin)

Today (Tuesday 24 Sept. 2013) the print and on-line media is in a real spin with speculation that Samantha Lewthwait branded the ‘White Widow’ in the British press is involved and possibly killed in the al Shabab attack by islamic extremists on the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

She’s 29 years old, has 4 children and is the widow of Germaine Lindsay one of the 7/7 bombers who killed himself and others in the London June 2005 atrocity. She disappeared not long after driving speculation that she is involved in islamic terrorist activities. Survivors from the Nairobi attack have said that there’s a veiled white woman involved in the killings and of course the press media have made a great leap in their speculation.  That isn’t to say they aren’t right though.

What we do know is that al Shabab is definitely behind the action, they’ve claimed responsibility and they have form. British media has jumped on the claims from al Shabab that Lewthwait is part of the armed group attacking the shopping complex. As far as the islamists are concerned she’s the star turn. Indeed the British sources are suggesting that Lewthwaite is actually behind the attack and is running it.

All this said if she is indeed a member or affiliate of an organisation such as al Shabab the British (and probably the Americans too) have a problem. The Americans backed by the Brits and now the French seem to have a single solution to conflict where there’s an islamic element involved; military action. We (I mean the royal we here) have lost sight of what is happening in our own countries. There are whole areas where islam is the overarching cultural influence. Sections of society are not British but are islamic, and this is a concern. These people are becoming radicalized and using the relative wealth naturally derived from living in a developed liberal western society to get themselves into terror training camps which are on the whole in those places on the globe which are inaccessible (in failed states).

This isn’t new, its just more pressing than it used to be (has anyone read Londinistan?). We are generating our very own terrorists and exporting them to kill and maim those who are the easier targets. A bit more inward concentration, a bit more public action in our own country really wouldn’t go a miss. The British (and I’d guess the American and French public would welcome the action) public would seem a whole lot happier if action was taken at source instead of seeing those responsible allowed to drift almost at will around the world exporting their very own brand of lunatic terror.

I was talking with a colleague earlier today and he was very anxious to explain that those undertaking the attack in Kenya are not real Muslims. Well my understanding of islam is that he is probably right.

There is lesser & greater jihad. Greater jihad is about persuasion, education and evangelism. It also says that islam should not be forced on non-believers. All commendable and those who stick to these rules are perfectly okay with me, I have no difficulty with islam or Muslims. Lesser jihad is concerned with war and is essentially a last resort when an islamic nation is under attack by an unjustified aggressor. Now this too I don’t actually have a problem with except to say that no islamic nation is under attack by an unjustified aggressor. Certainly not by Kenya who through contributing to the African Union force in Somalia are trying to bring peace.

So I say to western governments; get your house in order and deal with the home grown extremists (I don’t just mean islamic either, it could be far-right groups as well). Stop exporting terror.

12 Years, 1 Day

Posted on Updated on

English: A wide-angle shot of Manchester Town ...
English: A wide-angle shot of Manchester Town Hall, UK. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its a melancholy day today. 12 years and 1 day ago the world experienced an event like no other which has led to a number of armed conflicts around the world.

On a personal level the effects of that day are very difficult to verbalize. I wasn’t in New York or Washington on the day, I was at work in Manchester, UK watching the events unfold on-line. I felt then as I still do now around this time of year a sense of hopelessness, unable to stop the carnage, unable to change an idea.

Its impossible to turn-back time, to re-visit the reasons behind the actions taken on that fateful day in September 2001 or to rationalize the effects of governments since.

We move through our lives trying to make a living, get along and feeling we don’t have the power or the authority to change things on a larger scale. Of course this is an illusion we kid ourselves with daily. We must all try to reach-out to others, in all the walks of our life, professional, social and family life in an effort to (re)connect with others. We are all members of the same global community with the collective purpose of looking after the weak and helpless whilst supporting the strong and successful.

The ideas that led to the events of 12 years ago are a perversion, the people who perpetrated the events were G-dless, deluded suicidal terrorists. I do not weep for their deaths.

I hope that we can stand with our neighbor who may be very different from ourselves on common ground. I hope that we can find it within ourselves to reach out, to be charitable if not in money at least with our time. These are my hopes.

What I know is that I will try, I will make an effort and that others will too.

Will it be enough? I don’t think so but it is a start. the horror cannot last, it cannot outlast humanity. Have hope!