Reasons Why Milk is Cheaper than Water in Europe


Do you need any milk? Well, you might want to consider booking a flight to Europe. The continent is currently overflowing in milk, which has become significantly cheaper than water.

But why is this this happening? The milk situation in Europe is a case study in economics; the first lesson being supply and demand. While in the U.S. milk is so expensive, people take out business loans to get them, milk is practically free in Europe.

The oversupply of milk has been triggered by a number of factors. Firstly, China, which is the world’s largest importer of milk — due to limited production coupled with a huge population — has largely reduced its demand for milk.

Unfortunately, even after partly losing its biggest market, things are seemingly getting worse for Europe’s milk situation as demand has also decreased in North Africa, the Middle East and Russia. Russia’s case is a particularly critical blow, considering it previously imported more than 25% of the European Union’s butter exports, and close to 33% of cheese exports. This new move has been driven by the country’s new food imports embargo, which seeks to make Russia completely self-sufficient.

The result? Well, milk prices have fallen 5% across Europe’s retail outlets, including supermarkets. In France and the United Kingdom for instance, a liter of milk would cost you the equivalent of about $1 on supermarket shelves. A liter of mineral water on the other hand, costs about the same in France, and roughly $1.5 in the UK.

With supermarkets acquiring their milk at about 37 cents per liter from wholesalers, the biggest victims of this crisis are farmers. As a result, they have become exceedingly vocal about their disappointment with the current trend, which forces them to sell their milk products at a loss.

All through summer, Belgian and French farmers took their frustration to the streets, throwing milk and fruits as they sought quick resolution of the crisis from their respective governments. The United Kingdom also saw its fair share of the protests, with farmers clearing milk from store shelves and blocking entrances to stop shoppers from accessing supermarkets. One of the most outstanding protests occurred in Stanford, where more than 70 protesters stormed into a supermarket with two cows.

Due to the growing frustration, farmers further raised their protests a notch higher and made their way to the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on the 7th of September 2015. After demonstrating for a couple of hours, they engaged the riot police with a combination of fireworks, hay and eggs. Meanwhile, on the same day, the British Farmers Union met for an emergency summit, where they resolved to continue pressuring supermarkets to increase prices that will mitigate production costs.

Their sentiments are being echoed by the European Milk Board, which is also pushing for restoration of production quotas.

Fortunately for farmers, their efforts have paid off. As a measure of providing relief to their dwindling income, the European Union has pledged to provide more about $555 million. CNN Money further reported that France also made plans to support its farmers though for a 600 million Euro package.

As farmers wait for the said plans to roll out, consumers will continue enjoying milk and dairy products at significantly lower prices than they were previously used to.

Robin: Nextbit’s First cloud-Based Smartphone

The new smartphone Nextbit kickstarted, is still in the prototype stages, but it’s set to shake up the market when it’s launched in early 2016. It has everything you want in a smartphone: cool design, great storage, affordable price, and comparable hardware. It’s so promising that Nextbit reached its $500,000 goal in less than one day.

Does Nextbit’s Newest Smartphone Compare?

For only about $350 for early backers, Nextbit’s Robin is one of the most affordable smartphones available. However, if you order after January, when the early bird special is over, it goes up to $350, which is still reasonable. The boxy design is sleek and it comes in mint green and midnight blue. The power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor.

It charges quickly, has 32 gigabytes of local storage and 100 gigs of online storage. It has a 5 megapixel front camera, great for selfies, and a 13 megapixel rear camera, perfect for everything else. Since the creators are design and cloud-minded, the hardware isn’t as awesome as the newest Android phones, but it’s not gathering dust, either.

What Makes it Different?

How many times have you had that little message appear on your phone that things aren’t going to work properly until you free up some storage? Robin can change that.

The really innovative aspect of Robin is that it’s cloud-based. With your purchase, it comes with 100 gigabytes of space on the cloud on top of the 32 gigs of space on the phone. Even more interesting, it’s cloud-first.

Robin identifies apps you haven’t used lately and automatically moves them to the cloud, freeing up space on your phone’s hard drive. If you used to play Angry Birds, you know how awesome that is: you don’t want to delete it, even though you don’t play anymore. You’ll lose your levels. but every time you go to free up space, you wonder if this is the time to give it the boot.

On Robin, you can tell the app has been moved because it turns gray. If you want to use it again, you tap it and it loads up in just a few minutes. You can track the progress the whole time. Now. Imagine you don’t want an app to be moved to the cloud? Simply pin it and it will stay where it belongs. Otherwise, you don’t lose any of your information and you can access it quickly and easily.

Photos are backed up on the cloud, too. It saves a the high-quality original on the cloud and keeps a copy on your phone, so it doesn’t take up as much space. Just like when you’re not using apps they move, Robin will move your oldest photos to the cloud, too. If you want them back, you can get them. And you can always find them on the cloud.

What Does This Actually Mean?

100 gigs is a lot of space. To put it in perspective, that’s approximately:

  • 10-15 hours of video
  • 30,000-35,000 photos
  • 10,000-20,000 songs

How much you actually get depends on quality and resolution and size and all that. Even so, that’s a lot of storage. And in our digital age, that’s important.

Since you can sync your cloud account up with your computer and other devices, it makes it easy to track, share, and download files whenever you need them. And your apps will always be there, waiting.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone (and maybe even if you’re not), check out Robin. Designed with consumers in mind, this is one device that’s worth a second look.

Does Amazon Violate its Employees’ Civil Liberties? The ACLU Certainly Thinks So

Amazon employees have civil liberties just like the rest of us do. Now they may have help from an unlikely ally: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Last August, the New York Times published a scathing report on Amazon’s sadistic employment practices. The report titled Inside Amazon, Wrestling Big Idea in a Bruising Workplace described a company where employees are forced to work unreasonably long hours, handle an overbearing workload, and are discouraged from taking time off, even in the event of a personal crisis like a miscarriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union Defends the Rights of American Workers

Amazon has a reputation for mistreating its warehouse employees. The report highlighted that the culture of abuse extends beyond the warehouse and into its corporate headquarters, affecting every white collar worker at the company. One Amazon human resources employee called the policy “purposeful Darwinism.” Perhaps most demeaning of all, employees are subjected to a constant barrage of Orwellian corporate buzzwords like “customer obsession,” “thinking big,” and “turning up the dial.”

In August, ACLU’s Executive Director Anthony Romero referenced the New York Times report in an ad in the Seattle Times and several websites, including Google. Romero wrote “Amazon employees who believe they were unlawfully penalized because of their decision to have children, or because they were caring for a sick relative or recovering from an illness of their own” should contact the ACLU. According to Romero, multiple current and former Amazon employees have already responded to the ads seeking help.

The ACLU, founded in 1920, is a not-for-profit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.” It has nonpartisan libertarian leaning appeal across a broad spectrum of the population, boasting half a million members. For example, in the same year, the ACLU joined a lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples denied marriage equality in California and on behalf of Rush Limbaugh arguing that law enforcement infringed on his privacy by examining his medical records.

Traditionally, the ACLU only took on employment and workplace issues to the extent that they affected privacy, such as the right not to be drug-tested and the right to not be electronically-monitored by an employer. The ACLU usually struck a balance between an employee’s rights to reasonable workplace privacy and an employer’s rights to be free to conduct his or her business without undue interference. The ACLU website even states that companies have a “legitimate interest in monitoring to ensure efficiency and productivity.” Such opaque balancing acts are often necessary for non-for-profits like the ACLU to maintain ties to wealthy donors while preserving legitimacy in policy circles.

The New York Times report described a cut-throat, abusive workplace run by data-obsessed and sociopathic executives. But it also describes an employer that truly believes that this kind of culture is necessary to promote greater efficiency and productivity. Perhaps sensing that the pendulum has swung so far to the side of the employer, the ACLU is carving out a new policy plank: the right of employees to be treated like human beings instead or robots. Or perhaps the ACLU is simply grandstanding and won’t pursue this issue beyond the newspaper ad pages. Only time will reveal their real motivations.