Bosses show little backing for Byrne

first_img“If we are the ‘main business representative body’ [as Byrne described them] then we are surprised that the Commissioner keeps reporting that there is ‘broad support’ for the plan,” said Chauvin.“That is because, from the very outset, UNICE has expressed high scepticism and has asked, from the very beginning, for clarification. “Maybe it’s time to get that clarification. The reform Byrne is proposing is far-reaching and could have an impact not only on consumers but the whole internal market. But we have not had a satisfactory response and we are not in a position to support it.”Chauvin admitted that industry was encouraged by Byrne’s initial promise to replace some of a patchwork of EU consumer protection laws covering many sectors with a single framework directive that would force companies to trade fairly with their customers.But he said this plan appears to have been scaled back and that the new directive might be an extra layer of red tape that will make life more complicated for companies – particularly small firms. “Now they [Byrne and his officials] are saying the broad framework could co-exist…it is changing, and moving like an amoeba – but the contours are not shaped,” added Chauvin. The linchpin of Byrne’s plan – to be in place when he leaves the Commission in 2004 – is a framework directive that would force businesses from plumbers to e-commerce bookstores to abide by common levels of ‘fairness’ in their dealings with customers. In an interview with European Voice last week, Byrne said a green paper outlining his proposals had received “a very good response” from business groups. However Jérôme Chauvin, head of company affairs at Brussels-based EU employers’ federation UNICE, suggested the Irish Commissioner’s statement was overly positive. The business group said it also has concerns over the way the Byrne blueprint will fit in with other pressing areas of EU policy.These include Commission President Romano Prodi’s proposals on European governance, the Convention on the future of Europe and a separate initiative on sales promotions, launched by Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein.At the same time, UNICE said it was unclear how Byrne’s plans would affect industry’s efforts to police itself.last_img read more

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A five-point plan for Greece

first_imgClearer thinking on the part of European leaders is needed if they are to avoid going deeper into a crisis with unpredictable consequences.  It is vital to separate in one’s mind the urgent steps needed to contain the crisis in Greece today from far-reaching proposals such as the European Monetary Fund and others like it that would make the eurozone work better in the future. The latter are ten-year projects, and might prove as irrelevant as they are divisive if – as is possible – the eurozone were to break apart. Here is a five-point plan for dealing with today’s – rather than tomorrow’s – crisis: Uri Dadush is the director of the international economics programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and was previously director of international trade and of economic policy at the World Bank. First, recognise that the Greek debacle is not just a fiscal crisis but also – with its unit labour costs rising by 35% against Germany’s and 60% against the US’s within ten years – a competitiveness crisis. The single currency makes it very difficult to grow out of the fiscal/competitiveness trap. It also makes other vulnerable countries – such as Spain – more susceptible to contagion, even though, fiscally, they are in better-than-average shape, because markets recognise that their fiscal situation will only deteriorate if they do not fix their competitiveness problem. Second, containing the crisis in Greece requires that measures agreed upon in principle are taken in sequence and in a balanced fashion. Fiscal consolidation in Greece must move ahead convincingly, for international help to have a chance of working – politically and economically. Fiscal measures are clearly not enough; reforms must also address competitiveness directly, with measures to develop skills, promote innovation and make labour markets more flexible. Some of these reforms would take a long time to work, but starting to take them is nevertheless crucial to reassure markets that the conditions for sustained growth are being re-established. Third, an apolitical analysis is needed of whether Greece can actually repay its debt without unacceptable social disruption or abandoning the euro. If, as I fear, the only realistic solution in Greece is a restructuring of debts, then policymakers need to face up to the need as soon as possible. Achieving an orderly debt write-down or rescheduling will require measures to alleviate the shock on the still fragile European banking system. Fourth, a co-ordinated macroeconomic policy approach must ensure that aggregate demand growth in Europe is supportive of the painful adjustment that will be needed in vulnerable countries over many years. The main elements of this plan are understood, though politically fraught, and include: measures to stimulate domestic demand in surplus countries, the persistence of low interest rates and an expansionary monetary policy, and a weaker euro. The latter will require careful co-ordination with G20 partners to avoid competitive devaluations, but it should be evident to the US, China and others that a series of sovereign crises in the heart of Europe is now the main risk to a global recovery. Fifth, it has become painfully clear in recent weeks that not only do European institutions lack the instruments, expertise and track record to tackle these policy challenges, but – more ominously – there is an acute shortage of political space. Providing Greece with financial support requires a political mandate, but imposing tough conditions on Greece over an extended period risks creating a rift between EU nations that would be remembered for generations. The International Monetary Fund is far from a perfect answer to these challenges, but it is the best option available. The sooner European leaders recognise these tough realities, the greater the likelihood that the eurozone as we know it will survive and perhaps emerge stronger from the ordeal. last_img read more

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Finance ministers fail to reach deal on tax avoidance

first_imgAlgirdas Šemeta, the European commissioner for taxation and anti-fraud, has said that he is disappointed that European Union finance ministers failed to agree tougher rules on tax evasion today.Maria Fekter, the finance minister of Austria, the last country to oppose a revision of the EU’s savings tax directive, said during today’s meeting of finance ministers that while she “accepted” the text of the draft legislation, it was too early to approve it.Luxembourg, which ended an eight-year resistance to the proposals in April, also did not approve the revision of the rules during today’s meeting. The failure sets up the possibility of a row at the summit of member state leaders next week (15 May) where most countries will put pressure on Austria and Luxembourg to give in.Šemeta said that today’s talks had been a “big opportunity” to take “decisive action” on tax evasion and that expectations had been high that a breakthrough would be made today.“I cannot honestly say expectations were met,” he said.Finance ministers did however agree to give the Commission a mandate to negotiate stricter bank transparency agreements with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino.Šemeta said the Commission wanted to negotiate “ambitious agreements” with the countries. The aim is to ensure that these countries apply transparency measures equivalent to the EU’s savings tax directive. Negotiations will be based on the proposed revised legislation.“It’s undoubtedly a step forward,” Šemeta said. “Let’s hope what leaders agree next week at the summit is more like a giant leap.”last_img read more

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Luke the Knife Live: East Coast Debut

first_imgJust like the city that never sleeps, Lotus vibes are electrifying.  If you were at their show in Times Square on January 26th, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say this combination is fire.  The ambiance perpetuated by the crowd was brought to the after-party, where Luke Miller of Lotus made his East Coast debut of Luke the Knife live.Still high off Lotus’ live set, fans were greeted by the thrill and buzz of midtown as they shuffled over to Lucille’s at B.B. Kings for some late night funk and disco-themed beats.  LtK fuses elements of funk, disco, and indie dance together, creating an eclectic and energetic style.  Electronic music can trace its roots back to disco, funk and experimental rock, so it’s interesting that he choose to revisit these genres.Coming from an electronic jam band, which blends live elements with electronic music, it’s no surprise that Miller decided to explore a hybrid of live elements with an emphasis on music production.  Since Lotus is constantly adapting and has thus been migrating toward electronic music, this type of project makes perfect sense for Luke.  “When we first started doing more electronic stuff or more post-rock stuff there was a push back from certain portions of our fanbase,” said Miller. “And I will admit we had some missteps while delving into new areas. But at the end of that process now when we drop an electronic-oriented song with sampled vocals like Bush Pilot, or a post-rock song like Behind Midwest Storefronts, and the crowd explodes.”  This makes me wonder what kind of influence LtK will have on Luke’s composition for Lotus, and vice versa.  I’m sure he has already learned a great deal from this undertaking.As LtK organically takes shape, more than just music has been mixed, such as live elements.  Ever since the first performance in Denver on December 14th, each gig has been different.  At his second show, Miller added live guitar and keys with Chuck Morris (of Lotus) on drums.  Saxophonists Clark Smith (Dynohunter) and Nick Gerlach (Cosby Sweater) sat in at different shows as well. Other performances included saxophonist Pete Wall and percussionist Athony Fugate.  On the flip side, his focus remains solid, which according to Miller is to have a “show where the crowd can’t help but dance because the music is drawing them in with the groove.”  At the same time, guest musicians and live instruments such as guitar, keys, drums/percussion, and saxophone have been consistently augmented, which lays down a solid framework for the live setting.Miller left his guitar and keys behind this time around, mixing a two and half hour set accompanied by Chuck Morris on drums.  After setting the track order in advance for the first few shows, he now improvises the set list by feeding off the crowd’s energy.  “You can kind of sense when a crowd wants to take the energy higher, or if they need a little break and I need to slow it down a little bit,” said Miller “I like to have multiple peaks during a show, but you don’t want to have the climactic moment come too early in the show.”As opposed to his shows in Colorado where he leaned heavier on the funk, his set list in New York was laced with indie and house tracks.  He also tossed in a remix of The Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” and some Deadmau5 material.  Most of the tracks he used that night can be found on Luke the Knife’s Soundcloud.The lotus epitomizes purity and spontaneous creation, which is evident in LtK’s development.  “I think paradoxically that spontaneous creation takes a lot of pre-planning and practice,” said Miller, right before he shared a personal story that reflects the dynamics between practice and spontaneity.“About 8 years ago I was at a Lotus show and there was a psychic there just in some van. We were struggling to get by as professional musicians, not getting paid and sinking all the money back into the band to buy equipment and repair our van and stuff. I told the psychic I was worried I’d have to stop doing this and she said it would all work out. And lo and behold it did. I don’t usually buy into that stuff, but she said it with such certainty I kind of just believed her.”I walked away with the realization that any level of uncertainty requires spontaneity in order to push forward, and I think good electronic music achieves just that.  It brings you for a fast ride, so a sturdy backbone, such as a well-planned rhythm, is a must since it’s all there is to rely on.  Luke the Knife Live draws a parallel to Lotus’ live performances in which spontaneously improvised elements are key for setting the vibe.  For this exact reason, I would definitely recommend catching a Luke the Knife live set whenever possible.Check out Luke the Knife’s facebook page for updates, and Luke the Knife’s Soundcloud for new music.Photography by Dave Moshkowichlast_img read more

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Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore Summer vacations are more than a quaint tradition. Make sure you have a real one. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.“Taking breaks is biologically restorative,” concludes this op-ed in the New York Times by Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University and the author of a new book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.”If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations — true vacations without work — and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.”(READ the story in the New York Times)Photo by Dominique Cappronnier, via CC license AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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DEATH NOTICES: July 28, 2020

first_img Patrick Brannon, 51, of Port Arthur, TX died Monday, July 27, 2020. Services are pending at Hannah Funeral Home, Inc.James Armond England, 78, of Port Neches, Texas passed away July 26, 2020. Services are under the direction of Melancon’s Funeral Home in Nederland.Patrick James Duhon, 67, of Nederland, Texas passed away July 25, 2020. Services are under the direction of Melancon’s Funeral Home in Nederland.William H. Hargrave, 86, of Groves, Texas, died Monday, July 27, 2020. Services pending with Levingston Funeral Home – Groves, TX. John Anthony LaSalle, 79, of Beaumont, died Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont.Patricia Bennett, 76, of Port Arthur, TX died Saturday, July 25, 2020. Services are pending at Hannah Funeral Home, Inc.Deloris Malbreau, 70, of Port Arthur, TX died Sunday, July 26, 2020. Services are pending at Hannah Funeral Home, Inc. Jeremy Scott Welch, 40, of Groves passed away on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 in Port Arthur, Clayton Thompson Funeral Home in Groves.Sadie DeJohn, 94, of Port Arthur passed away on Monday, July 27, 2020 at Focused Care Nursing Home in Orange, Clayton Thompson Funeral Home in Groves.Richard Haynes, 69, of Port Arthur, TX died Monday, July 27, 2020. Services are pending at Hannah Funeral Home, Inc.center_img Shirley Johnson, 85, of Port Arthur died Friday, July 24, 2020.  Funeral arrangements are pending at Gabriel Funeral Home.Adeline Sampson, 68, of Port Arthur died Sunday, July 26, 2020.  Funeral arrangements are pending at Gabriel Funeral Home.Georick Rivers, 41, of San Angelo, Texas died Thursday, July 23, 2020.  Funeral arrangements are pending at Gabriel Funeral Home.Jordan Andrew Tabor, 23, of Port Neches, Texas, died July 26, 2020. Services pending with Levingston Funeral Home – Port Neches.last_img read more

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Initial Reactions: Ritchey Design WCS Cockpit + Fork

first_imgWord of warning: When acquiring a retired club team racing bicycle, expect that it is going to require a lot of work.A lot.Of course, if you look past how used up they likely are, you can still get a great deal. That is precisely why I jumped on the chance to buy a La Grange Velo Club 2010 Cannondale CAAD9, the last of the USA-made frames. Looking at the condition of most of the parts, and the dire condition of the carbon steerer tube (which had been cut about 2cm too short) prompted an immediate call to my friends at Ritchey Design to start this project off right.Couple emails to sort the details and within a week, a wonderful little package arrived containing the following: My overall goal with Ritchey was three-fold: replace the parts that were needed (check), make the bike a bit more comfortable to ride and make it sexy.There’s no doubt that the Ritchey parts are, in my opinion, among the sexiest on the market, so check that goal off. Aiding in that is the fact that most of their carbon parts are available in both a weave and unidirectional (UD) look, which worked for me given the UD look of the wheels, cranks and shifters that were still usable on the bike.As far as comfort goes, let’s be honest; aluminum races bikes can be rough, but at least for now, this one will need to be my go-to road bike for all kinds of riding. Of course, I wasn’t expecting this bike to ride like a full carbon bike, but a little help taking the edge off is always appreciated, which I why I opted for a high quality carbon fork, seatpost and stem. They’ll be helped out by carbon cranks and hybrid carbon/alloy wheels I already had, to hopefully round out for a nice semi-comfortable all day ride. Prior to starting this project, I had been riding a similarly spec’d SuperSix Hi-Mod loaner, so I have that to compare ride quality to in my long term check-in.I’ve got everything all up and running for a couple weeks now, installation was a complete breeze, and so far I’m pleased with the performance of everything. However, I’m going to wait for the new bike glow to wear off before I get into more specifics, and plan to check back in with you all in a few months with a more extensive review. WCS EvoCurve Alloy handlebars – these are the newest offering from Ritchey in the bar market, blending the Evolution top section which offers a 4 degree sweep and the the Curve drops which offer a compact, decreasing radius bend.WCS Carbon Matrix 4-Zxis stem – this is Ritchey’s answer to the carbon stem, using a carbon/alloy construction which offers the best the both materials have to offer.SuperLogic Carbon One-bolt seatpost – the lightest carbon post in their line, offering their patent pending one-bolt clamp design that makes for one of the easiest saddle adjustments you’ve ever experienced.WCS UD Carbon fork – an extremely lightweight (almost half that of the carbon fork it replaced), hi-mod full carbon fork, offered with a 45mm crown to match seamlessly with most integrated headset frames.Check out my initial reaction on the goods, plus more pictures, after the jump…First, let’s dispense with what is usually the first question everyone asks about parts; the weights…Bars: claimed 250g, actual 278g. Stem: claimed 120g, actual 111g. Post: claimed 148g, actual 163g. Fork: claimed 299g, actual 323g.So as you can see, the weights are slightly off, but in both directions. Maybe it’s my scale, maybe it’s theirs. Regardless, there’s a margin of error to be expected and what I see falls within what I would consider reasonable. These things are still silly light considering what is expected of their performance.last_img read more

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NAHBS 2014: Ti Cycles’ Full Suspension Fat Bike, 26″ Gravel Grinder & More!

first_imgFirst off, I’d like to thank Dave Levy of Ti Cycles for bringing the kind of off-the-wall builds that simultaneously evoke a WTF reaction along with a Wow, that’s pretty cool. This is what we want to see more of at NAHBS.For starters, there’s a titanium full suspension fat bike called Gunther. As if full suspension and fat bike put together isn’t enough, he did it with pivotless flex stays to get 2.5″ of rear wheel travel. The 29er Lefty fork works thanks to 17mm offset adapters that splits the difference between the standard 100mm front axle width and a 135mm fat bike hub.Detail pics of all that awesomeness below, plus a 26″ gravel grinder with a truss fork and a sweet pit bike… The Cannondale Lefty fork works thanks to offset spoke holes on the rim and his custom offset steerer adapter.The design keeps the Lefty built in stock trim so all warranties should be kept intact.This isn’t a one-off suspension design for him. Dave offers this platform in normal mountain bike frame styles, too, as well as VPP titanium front ends mated to Santa Cruz carbon rear triangles.His titanium gravel grinder with 26″ mountain bike wheels steers using a truss fork built with ti seatstays to form the structure. It doesn’t provide suspension per se, rather it allows Dave to use the feel of titanium and have enough tire clearance withou going to a too-tall carbon fork.Ride height stays low, but handlebar height adjustment has a full range. The design also lets him hide the wires and cables in the stem for a cleaner look.Dave calls the Neutrino a mini Velo with a rigid Lefty-like fork. We think it’d be the perfect thing for whipping around Laguna Seca’s infield, whether for Sea Otter or a proper motorsports event. Or just whipping around town.He’s expanded his range of titanium stems, handlebars and seatposts now, as well as his growing list of frame building parts. Which includes custom titanium forks.TiCycles.comlast_img read more

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Prairie Village resident renewing efforts to get new disabled access signs installed in Merriam

first_imgFinn Bullers at Prairie Village City Hall.Prairie Village resident Finn Bullers is leading a second-effort push to get new disabled-access signage posted throughout the city of Merriam after the city council there was forced to put its planned signage replacement on hold for fear of daily fines.Register to continuelast_img

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Lutz Plumbing grows business in Shawnee with new office space

first_imgThe Lutz Plumbing staff. Not pictured are Bill Mutch, Scott Edmisten, Edwin Lopez and Ashley Threlkeld.Lutz Plumbing has outgrown its old spot in Shawnee. Now the nearly 100-year-old company has settled in its new and expanded office space at 21961 W. 83 St. in Shawnee.A few weeks ago, Lutz Plumbing celebrated its growth and new office space with a ribbon-cutting through the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce.Amber Lutz Sewell, president and co-owner, said the expanded business means more hours and appointment time slots to devote to customers, making it even more convenient to book with the company.“It’s been fun to be able to provide that extra level of service to our existing customers and new customers,” Lutz Sewell said.Lutz Plumbing’s roots began as a construction company in Missouri in the 1920s. By the time Lutz Sewell’s grandfather got involved, they had moved to Shawnee and evolved the business to focus more on plumbing.“It’s been nice to associate our family, personally, and the business with the city,” she said. “It’s been really exciting because we’re able to serve more customers than ever before because of the growth, and serve them better.”Lutz Sewell attributes most of the company’s growth to its referral system and effective marketing, especially through word of mouth. Her focus has mostly been on utilizing her marketing background to grow the company, instead of solely focusing on plumbing. In fact, she is a graduate of the ScaleUp program hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Small Business Administration.“It had always been a company run by plumbers, which was great because that’s the most important thing,” Lutz Sewell said, “but no one has really ever ran it from a business perspective.”Lutz Sewell said the new offices are double the square footage of the company’s old location in the 23700 block of West 83rd Terrace. Now, the company can stock more products in-house, streamline customer needs and work in a larger space.Space is also “quite a bit bigger” because of the growing business, Lutz Sewell added. Occasionally, Lutz Plumbing staff opens up its new warehouse space for customers to check out what they do. For example, a few of the Lutz plumbers cut a water heater in half so people could see how sediment builds up over time.The company has 12 plumbers on staff, up from three in 2008.Lutz Plumbing serves the entire Kansas City metro area, anywhere between Lawrence, Grain Valley, Liberty and Bucyrus.last_img read more

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