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*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:22:20 PM EST
Final breakthrough of the longest railway tunnel in the world

World record on the Gotthard: The longest railway tunnel in the world has become a reality. On 15 October 2010 in the east tunnel, 30 km from the north portal and 27 km from the south portal, the final breakthrough of the Gotthard took place. At about 14:30, the tunnel boring machine, drilling from Faido, broke through the last metre of rock on the route to Sedrun.

The tunnel breakthrough was highly accurate. At 8 cm horizontally and 1 cm vertically, the deviation was very small...

Here is the video (the breakthrough is at around 1:50 in):

I may put together something over the weekend; but the First breakthrough on longest tunnel diary from 2006 already describes the tunnel.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:22:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heck of an achievement. I imagine it will revolutionize trans-alpine travel.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 04:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Socialists call for 'cordon sanitaire' around Europe's far right

The leadership of the Party of European Socialists, the pan-European political party that brings together all European social democratic outfits, on Friday (15 October) adopted new five-point code of conduct on how to act around extreme right parties, which have seen a sharp rise in support in many countries in the wake of the economic crisis.

"Regarding this threat ... all European parties should sign up to our plan to refuse to work with the extreme-right," the party's president and former Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

...Socialists themselves have in parts of Europe been known to embrace the far right in order to cobble together a parliamentary majority.

In 2006, the Slovak centre-left, Smer, entered into a coalition with the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS) and as a result was suspended from membership of the PES and only readmitted in 2008.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:22:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Liberals wary as new Dutch government takes office
"What worries me is that this government is depending on the support of a radical right party, to put it mildly. I hope this is not going to push it in a direction I would not like it to go," Belgian Liberal MEP and ELDR President Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck told EUobserver by phone on Thursday (14 October).

"His MEPs are not very exciting. They are extremely narrow-minded and are still stuck in a phase of knee-jerk reactions. If it seems to impinge on sovereignty, it's bad. They are for Nato but against [defence] co-operation with the EU - it's very simplistic."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:23:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German politician, environmental champion Hermann Scheer dies | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 15.10.2010
One of Germany's most outspoken environmental politicians has died at the age of 66. Hermann Scheer, a Social Democratic member of the German parliament, won the alternative Nobel prize for his work on renewable energy.

Damn. Just a reminder, he wrote Andrea Ypsilanti's election programme when she ran in Hessen against Roland Koch.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Democracy Now! aired an excellent interview with him today.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 09:25:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what happened with Ypsilanti ? she was the great hope of liberal/left/green politics a couple of years back, haven't heard of her since.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 04:49:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Her bid to become PM of Hessen state was ended by an internal rebellion in late 2008, as told in The Traitor (you commented in it!). After the 2009 federal elections when the SPD re-shuffled its leadership, she raised her voice to push for a more left-wing line.

Since then, early this year, she created a think-tank with a name that's difficult to render in English, hope this form makes sense: Institute for Solidary Modernity (ISM). It is to foster red-red-green cooperation and alternative ideas to neoliberalism. Right-wing media keeps attacking it [link in German].

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 07:23:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey tests legal bypass of visa problem | EurActiv
A leading Turkish lobbyist called yesterday (14 October) for the EU to lift visa requirements for his country's nationals by using as a basis a court decision. But the European Commission made clear that the long-standing problem was not likely to be resolved by legal means.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:23:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / French centre-right MPs want to cut EU funds to Turkey
French daily Le Monde reports that around 50 deputies from president Nicolas Sarkozy's own Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party are opposed to including so-called pre-accession funds in the national finance bill for 2011. The UMP has 317 of the 577-seat lower house.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:23:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Portugal asks opposition to back tough budget
José Socrates, Portugal's prime minister, has appealed to opposition parties to reassure financial markets over the country's sovereign debt difficulties by expressing support for a tough austerity budget.

Speaking shortly before details of the 2011 budget proposals were due to be presented to parliament on Friday night, he warned that rejecting the bill would plunge the country into a damaging political crisis.

Mr Sócrates has said his minority Socialist government will resign if it is defeated in the budget vote. But the centre-right Social Democrats (PSD), the main opposition party, have refused to give any assurances that they will allow the bill to pass.

"This uncertainly is extremely harmful to the country," Mr Sócrates told parliament. "It is time for the PSD to end the taboo on how they will vote."

But PSD leaders said they would not make any commitment until they had studied the proposals in detail, accusing the government of trying to press them into approving inadequate measures.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yle: Olli Rehn: EU growth partly based on illusion

Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, says that the Greek debt crisis revealed that part of the rapid growth and improved employment in the European Union was based on unsustainable indebtedness that built up during the first ten years of Monetary Union.
      Rehn was speaking at the annual meeting of the National Defence Course Association in Helsinki.
      "The boom, which was based on low interest rates and rapid indebtedness in the periphery of the euro zone, created an erroneous image of the power of the euro zone", Rehn said.

Rehn also stated (not reported in English) that he regarded the worst of the economic crisis in Europe to be over and expressed his concern over inequality between the world's economic zones and also of the imbalance between the Chinese currency and the Euro.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 09:58:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: French battle of wills

So a battle of wills is taking place, between a goverment that insists France cannot afford its current pension plan and many workers who believe the French way of life is being compromised because of mistakes by bankers.

This struggle looks set to intensify in the days ahead.

My personal view is that only the 'paralysis of France' (or any other country taking the same government route) will lead to the necessary steps to improve the equality and equilibrium of society.

The patient is now so sick that major surgery is needed immediately.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 10:17:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:24:37 PM EST
Parliament to back plan for 'Mr. or Ms. Euro' | EurActiv

Members of the European Parliament are set to endorse a raft of measures which they hope would enable the European Union to recover more quickly and strongly from the negative impacts of the global financial crisis, while ensuring greater financial and economic stability in the future.

The proposals to be debated by the Parliament next week (20 October) include the idea of appointing a 'Mr. or Ms. Euro', who would be in charge of coordinating the bloc's economic policies. This person would take over the responsibilities that are currently shared by three people.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great idea. Only one person to lobby, so it reduces lobbying costs and since there is only one Mr. Euro, and since "who could imagine that Mr. Euro would conspire with lobbyists?" there can be no conspiracies. So there.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:40:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Commission mulls auditing sector shake-up | EurActiv

"The status quo is not going to be an option for the European Commission," the bloc's financial services chief Michel Barnier told a news conference.

"We are happy in 2011 to produce legislation in this respect," Barnier said as he launched a two-month consultation on his ideas to change the sector.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine to renegotiate `unfair' gas deal with Russia | EurActiv
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told journalists yesterday (13 October) that he will seek to renegotiate the country's "unfair" gas agreement with Russia when he meets his counterpart Vladimir Putin on 27 October.

...Ukraine and Russia signed a 10-year agreement on gas supplies in January 2009 after a price dispute between the two neighbours left the European Union without fuel for two weeks amid freezing temperatures.

"Russia doesn't want to revise [the gas agreement]. Why? Because it's profitable for them. Why do we want to revise it? Because we believe this is an ill-profitable agreement for us," Azarov said.

"How much time should an agreement live for, if one party sees it as profitable, and the other as highly unprofitable? Something needs to be done with this agreement. Quite obviously, it is not viable."

The Ukrainian prime minister also spoke against the planned South Stream gas pipeline project, led by Gazprom, which is designed to bypass his country.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:25:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gazprom warns EU it could turn to China | EurActiv

Gazprom's export chief, Alexander Medvedev, said that Europe's gas-sector initiatives would build "a sort of Great Wall of China" that would cut off his company, which supplies a quarter of the EU's gas needs, from gas transmission infrastructure.

EU legislation requires pipelines to be open to all companies, which threatens Gazprom's position in countries such as Poland, where it is a dominant supplier via its Yamal pipeline.

"Having no opportunity to get reasonable income while the gas pipeline is operating or take part in its operation, the suppliers will not wish to make such significant investments. They will start searching for more attractive markets," said Medvedev.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:25:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Gazprom will never use gas as a weapon.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:10:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - Oil industry strikes spark fears of fuel shortage
While strikes affecting French transport systems have lost momentum since Tuesday, the ongoing protests in the country's oil refineries are raising the possibility of an acute fuel shortage.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An excellent opportunity to test the plans for dealing with reduced oil supplies due to "peak oil".  Oh, wait --

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:12:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Round-table talks begin over controversial Stuttgart rail project | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 15.10.2010

Long-awaited negotiations between opponents and supporters of the Stuttgart 21 rail renovation project began Friday morning, with some in the strong and vocal opposition saying they were optimistic.

Speaking to reporters before the meeting, Baden-Wuerttemberg State Premier Stefan Mappus said he wanted to make the debate over the project "more transparent."

"We want to show people why we see Stuttgart 21 as an important project for Baden-Wuerttemberg, why it's a project that will last for generations," he said. "We also want to back everything up with facts and move beyond emotions, so that everyone can understand it based on concrete arguments."

Two hours into the discussions, project opponents broke them off to confer with each other before resuming them later in the afternoon. Sources close to the talks said both sides disagreed on the conditions for how to proceed.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Railway Gazette: Madrid - Valencia high speed line opening dates confirmed

SPAIN: High speed services are due to start running from Madrid to Cuenca and Albacete on December 15, and to Requena-Utiel and Valencia on December 18, Development Minister José Blanco has announced.

...Investment of €5·12bn by the ministry in building the new route over the period from 2004 to 2010 had generated turnover of €10·37bn and had created 105 720 direct or indirect jobs. A further 136 226 jobs and €9·06bn are expected to be generated by the new line in 2011-16.

High speed services are expected to carry 3·6 million passengers in their first year of operation, with four in 10 journeys between Madrid and Valencia made by rail. As well as 800 000 new journeys, 55% of passengers currently travelling by air are expected to transfer to rail, compared to 25% of those travelling by private car and 5% of coach passengers.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:26:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Commodities - Cotton hits record high after poor crops
Cotton prices soared to a nominal record high on Friday amid heavy buying in China, the world's largest importer, and disappointing crops in major producing nations including Pakistan.

The rise in the price of cotton will reverberate through the textile industry, forcing clothing companies to either pass the increase on to the consumer or face lower margins. While the impact is likely to be muted on high-priced clothes, it could be more noticeable in cheaper items such as t-shirts and underwear.

Clothing companies including UK-based Next and jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co have already announced price hikes due to rising cotton costs.

In New York, ICE December cotton futures surged to a record high of 119.80 cents per pound, surpassing the previous record set in 1995. Later, cotton traded up 3.13 cents to 118 cents per



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:25:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Backing for EU insolvency pact
Germany's leading economic research institutes have thrown their weight behind Berlin's drive to persuade eurozone partners to agree on an insolvency mechanism for member states that are in effect bankrupt.

In a report to the government published on Thursday, the institutes said that merely reinforcing the rules of the eurozone's stability and growth pact - as proposed by the European Commission - would not be enough to prevent speculation against debt-laden member states from destabilising the currency union.

EU finance ministers are attempting to draft regulations to prevent any repetition of the recent crisis in the eurozone, triggered by Greece's debt problems.

The arguments from the heart of Germany's academic-economic establishment are likely to be used by Berlin in its efforts to persuade the rest of the European Union to set up a "crisis resolution mechanism" - an insolvency procedure in all but name - even if it means amending the EU's Lisbon treaty.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:27:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - Fed chief downbeat on US economy
Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, has delivered a bleak prognosis for the US economy, suggesting that he supports a new monetary stimulus to battle high unemployment and head off the risk of a downward spiral in prices.

The increasing likelihood of hundreds of billions of dollars of further asset purchases by the Fed - a strategy known as quantitative easing - will heighten tensions in international currency markets by weakening the dollar further. That may prompt other central banks to follow suit with currency intervention or QE of their own.

Mr Bernanke on Friday also marched the Fed another step closer to adopting a formal inflation target - a politically contentious goal he has pursued since becoming chairman - saying that most of the body's officials think that price rises should be "2 per cent or a bit below".



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Posts Second-Largest Annual Budget Deficit on Record - Bloomberg
The U.S. government posted its second straight annual budget deficit in excess of $1 trillion as lingering unemployment constrained tax revenue. The shortfall totaled $1.294 trillion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, second only to the $1.416 trillion deficit in 2009, the Treasury Department said today in Washington.

A jobless rate projected to exceed 9 percent through 2011 points to the difficulty of narrowing the budget gap even as the global economic recovery boosts company profits and produces more corporate tax receipts. Growth in government spending may slow because of declining costs associated with the financial crisis that spawned such rescue plans as the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"We still have a long way to go to repair the damage to the economy and address the long-term deficits caused by the crisis," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in a statement.

The Treasury Department finances the shortfall between taxes and spending with borrowing in financial markets. The national debt totals more than $13 trillion, exceeding the size of the economy, unadjusted for inflation. The government's fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:49:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Op-Ed Columnist - The Mortgage Morass - Paul Krugman - NYTimes.com
Thus, in 2000, Lawrence Summers, then the Treasury secretary, declared that the keys to avoiding financial crisis were "well-capitalized and supervised banks, effective corporate governance and bankruptcy codes, and credible means of contract enforcement." By implication, these were things the Asians lacked but we had.

We didn't.

The accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom dispelled the myth of effective corporate governance. These days, the idea that our banks were well capitalized and supervised sounds like a sick joke. And now the mortgage mess is making nonsense of claims that we have effective contract enforcement -- in fact, the question is whether our economy is governed by any kind of rule of law.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mortgage Mess May Costs Big Banks Billions - NYTimes.com
"I don't see how it can be cleared up in a short period of time," said Richard X. Bove, an analyst with Rochdale Securities. "The moratorium won't last that long but the problem will last at least four or five years, maybe a decade." In the short term, he said, "it could easily cost $1.5 billion per quarter."

Meanwhile, the foreclosure machinery in many states has ground to a halt... As a result, foreclosed homes will remain on the bank's books while racking up thousands of dollars a month in extra costs.
...
Inside the investment houses, several traders said nerves were frazzled further by worries that banks could face much bigger mortgage related losses, not from foreclosures, but because of questions about how the money was lent in the first place. If it turns out that mortgages were bundled together and sold improperly, more holders could sue the banks and force them to buy back tens of billions in mortgage-backed securities.

An alarming report on Bank of America, compiled by Branch Hill Capital, a San Francisco hedge fund, circulated widely on Wall Street on Thursday. Branch Hill suggested that the bank, the nation's largest, could be facing more than $70 billion in losses from mortgage securities that it may have to repurchase from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as private investors.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:47:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strong words:
True to form, the Obama administration's response has been to oppose any action that might upset the banks, like a temporary moratorium on foreclosures while some of the issues are resolved. Instead, it is asking the banks, very nicely, to behave better and clean up their act. I mean, that's worked so well in the past, right?

The response from the right is, however, even worse. Republicans in Congress are lying low, but conservative commentators like those at The Wall Street Journal's editorial page have come out dismissing the lack of proper documents as a triviality. In effect, they're saying that if a bank says it owns your house, we should just take its word. To me, this evokes the days when noblemen felt free to take whatever they wanted, knowing that peasants had no standing in the courts. But then, I suspect that some people regard those as the good old days.

What should be happening? The excesses of the bubble years have created a legal morass, in which property rights are ill defined because nobody has proper documentation. And where no clear property rights exist, it's the government's job to create them.



By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:50:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How the Banks Hid Bad Mortgages - NYTimes.com
The conventional wisdom has it that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission -- the bipartisan group of wise men and women charged with uncovering what caused our recent economic meltdown and telling us what should be done to prevent a recurrence -- is woefully out-of-touch and out-of-date. A Times article last month suggested that "an exodus of senior employees" from the commission and "internal disagreements" among those remaining could hamper efforts to produce a meaningful and useful report, which is due to be published in December.

But the conventional wisdom is often wrong, and this time will be no exception. I predict that not only will the commission's report -- and accompanying documents -- reveal numerous causes of the crisis that others have overlooked, but also that it will have a significant impact on the regulations that still must be written by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury as part of the implementation on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In fact, the inquiry commission may have already played an essential role in beginning to bring fraudsters to justice.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:53:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How the Banks Hid Bad Mortgages - NYTimes.com
Of the 911,039 mortgages Clayton examined for its Wall Street clients -- a sample of about 10 percent of the total mortgages that the banks intended to package into securities -- only 54 percent were found to meet the underwriting guidelines. Standards deteriorated over time, with only 47 percent of the mortgages Clayton examined meeting the guidelines by the second quarter of 2007.

So, did Wall Street throw all those mortgages back into the pond as being too risky for securities they were going to sell to clients? Of course not -- many were packaged right into their product...

In fact, the banks probably weren't disappointed at all by the shaky status of many of these loans: in part because they could use the information that some of the mortgages were rotten to get a discount from the mortgage originators on the price paid for the entire portfolio... But the amazing revelation of the Sacramento hearing was that the investment banks did not pass this very valuable information on to their customers.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mortgage Damage Spreads - WSJ.com
In essence, fast-paced modern finance is colliding with the much slower machinery of the U.S. legal system. While finance aims for efficiency and maximized profits, the courts demand due process. And that's becoming a growing issue as lenders come under attack for taking short cuts to oust homeowners who haven't mailed in a mortgage check for months.
...
The financial system and legal system have been on a collision course for some time in residential real estate. Both the lower standards for loans and the lax controls involving foreclosures were based on the premise that home prices would never fall, making it unlikely that many loans would go bad at once. Once that premise fell apart, the flaws in the system became obvious, and the long-term challenge now facing lenders is to rebuild the mortgage system on more solid footing.

Banks argue that these problems will be repaired swiftly, and they'll soon be running the foreclosure machinery at full speed again. But analysts say the problems could expand into a legal crisis if banks can't prove that they are following standard property-law procedures.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 05:32:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regulations were undermined by appointing anti-regulators to head the agencies; laws were repealed and the only remaining check, the personal probity of those involved, was hosed away by a torrent of profits obtained by competitors whose probity was for rent. Gresham's Law prevailed and all that was left were fraudsters and rent-a-fools.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 04:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Comment / Editorial - Wall Street's bad behaviour redux
The growing scandal over the improper, and perhaps fraudulent, foreclosures on homes by US banks is becoming both a financial and a political hot potato. Wall Street is being forced to admit to yet more unsavoury practices linked to mortgage bonds and President Barack Obama has been dragged into the affair.
...
The banks and their defenders mutter that this is all a bureaucratic technicality and much ado about nothing...

They are wrong, and the fact that they regard court proceedings to repossess homes so lightly is a worrying reflection on Wall Street's ethical standards, or lack of them. At worst, the banks may have been lying to courts over a vital safeguard in property law - the sanctity of documents.

This scandal is a mirror image of the lax and often improper lending practices that grew up in the years before the 2008 financial crisis as Wall Street raced to extend mortgages in order to have fodder for asset-backed securities. They never took seriously the importance of lending soundly and thoughtfully to homeowners.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:08:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why didn't the feckless, poor and foreign house buyers force the banks to manage their paperwork properly?

If it hadn't been for their frankly slipshod attitude to contract law we wouldn't be in this mess.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:20:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
apologies to those august, venerable institutions are in order...

the proles forget their place.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 08:47:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your Money - Avoid the Foreclosure Market Until the Dust Settles - NYTimes.com
Todd Phelps and Paul Whitehead didn't think they were last month when they were the winning bidders in a foreclosure auction on the steps of the main Riverside, Calif., county courthouse. They thought they had won the lottery.

For years, they had been living in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica and waiting out the housing bubble in hopes of buying a weekend getaway in the Palm Springs area. And on Sept. 10, they thought they had finally done it, getting a house for $137,000.

Several days later, however, they realized that what they had really bought was a second mortgage from Wachovia on a house that still had an enormous, unpaid primary loan. In other words, they did not own the home free and clear, and the auction company wouldn't give back their $137,000 check.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 05:46:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Foreclosure Fiasco and Wall Street's Shrug | The New York Observer
"The first thing that needs to happen, I think, is to get these people out of their homes," a man wearing a bespoke blue-striped shirt, a Hermés tie patterned with elephants and Ferragamo loafers said recently.
...
In order to understand Wall Street's shrug during this foreclosure crisis, which as many as 40 attorneys general are expected to announce an investigation into this week, the key is to appreciate just how deeply connected the gesture is to Wall Street's view of who's to blame for the financial crisis.

The feeling, the idea at the bottom of all the others, is that even if Wall Street aggravated the crisis by bundling and betting on mortgage-backed securities that turned out not to live up to high ratings, it was not a matter of, as Citi chairman Richard D. Parsons told The Observer this summer, "bad people trying to do bad things." The loans wouldn't have been there in the first place if American home buyers, driven by what The Weekly Standard calls immediate gratification without personal responsibility, hadn't overstepped their bounds.

Hat tip Paul Krugman

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 06:33:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it was not a matter of..... bad people trying to do bad things." The loans wouldn't have been there in the first place if American home buyers, driven by what The Weekly Standard calls immediate gratification without personal responsibility, hadn't overstepped their bounds.

the narrative of blaming the poor is well established and is being put out as much as possible. just like the banking crisis two years back, it may not have been a case of bad people doing bad things, but it was definitely a case of incredibly greedy morally challenged people finding themselves encouraged to do things that should have been illegal

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 06:42:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Michael Hudson: Why the U.S. Has Launched a New Financial World War -- and How the Rest of the World Will Fight Back - AlterNet
What is to stop U.S. banks and their customers from creating $1 trillion, $10 trillion or even $50 trillion on their computer keyboards to buy up all the bonds and stocks in the world, along with all the land and other assets for sale in the hope of making capital gains and pocketing the arbitrage spreads by debt leveraging at less than 1 per cent interest cost? This is the game that is being played today.

Finance is the new form of warfare - without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means? All that is required is for central banks to accept dollar credit of depreciating international value in payment for local assets. Victory promises to go to whatever economy's banking system can create the most credit, using an army of computer keyboards to appropriate the world's resources. The key is to persuade foreign central banks to accept this electronic credit.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the same link:

For thousands of years tribute was extracted by conquering land and looting silver and gold, as in the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, or Incan Peru and Aztec Mexico three centuries later. But who needs a military war when the same objective can be won financially? Today's preferred mode of warfare is financial. Victory in today's monetary warfare promises to go to whatever economy's banking system can create the most credit. Computer keyboards are today's army appropriating the world's resources.

The key to victory is to persuade foreign central banks to accept this electronic credit, bringing pressure to bear via the International Monetary Fund, meeting this last  weekend. The aim is nothing as blatant as extracting overt tribute by military occupation. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means? All that is required is for central banks to accept dollar credit of depreciating international value in payment for local assets.

But the world has seen the Plaza Accord derail Japan's economy by obliging its currency to appreciate while lowering interest rates by flooding its economy with enough credit to inflate a real estate bubble. The alternative to a new currency war "getting completely out of control," the bank lobbyist suggested, is "to try and reach some broad understandings about where currencies should move." However, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was more realistic. "I'm not sure the mood is to have a new Plaza or Louvre accord," he said at a press briefing. "We are in a different time today." On the eve of the Washington IMF meetings he added: "The idea that there is an absolute need in a globalised world to work together may lose some steam." (Alan Beattie Chris Giles and Michiyo Nakamoto, "Currency war fears dominate IMF talks," Financial Times, October 9, 2010, and Alex Frangos, "Easy Money Churns Emerging Markets," Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2010.)

Quite the contrary, he added: "We can understand that some element of capital controls [need to] be put in place."

The great question in global finance today is thus how long other nations will continue to succumb as the cumulative costs rise into the financial stratosphere? The world is being forced to choose between financial anarchy and subordination to a new U.S. economic nationalism. This is what is prompting nations to create an alternative financial system altogether. (Emphasis added.)




As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 07:40:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"This is what is prompting nations to create an alternative financial system altogether."

I'll believe that when i see it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 08:36:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Belgium next?
For four months Belgium has been without a government, its public debt is approaching 100% of GDP and the spread of Belgian 10-year bonds over the German benchmark is today three times as high as at the beginning of this year. Is Belgium the next country with a sovereign debt crisis?

So far the country has managed to stay off the radar screens of most international investors, who focus on Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. But that may change if the political crisis - which has been going on for more than two years - is not resolved soon. At the June general elections, the separatist NVA emerged as the strongest party in Flanders, while in French-speaking Wallonia, the Socialists came out first. In the ensuing coalition negotiations, the N-VA has chosen to get a federal reform agreed first before building a government, in a complex bargaining process between the seven parties that currently participate in the negotiation talks. The result is a political stalemate that risks paralysing the political system for months.  



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:13:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only the Weak Survive - Project Syndicate
A world where over-spending countries need to reduce domestic demand and boost net exports, while over-saving countries are unwilling to reduce their reliance on export-led growth, is a world where currency tensions must inevitably come to a boil. Aside from the eurozone, the US, Japan, and the United Kingdom all need a weaker currency. Even Switzerland is intervening to weaken the franc.
...
The trouble, of course, is that not all currencies can be weak at the same time: if one is weaker, another must, by definition, be stronger. Likewise, not all economies can improve net exports at the same time: the global total is, by definition, equal to zero. So the competitive devaluation war in which we find ourselves is a zero-sum game: one country's gain is some other country's loss
...
If China, emerging markets, and other surplus countries prevent nominal currency appreciation via intervention - and prevent real appreciation via sterilization of such intervention - the only way deficit countries can achieve real depreciation is via deflation. That will lead to double-dip recession, even larger fiscal deficits, and runaway debt.

If nominal and real depreciation (appreciation) of the deficit (surplus) countries fails to occur, the deficit countries' falling domestic demand and the surplus countries' failure to reduce savings and increase consumption will lead to a global shortfall in aggregate demand in the face of a capacity glut. This will fuel more global deflation and private and public debt defaults in debtor countries, which will ultimately undermine creditor countries' growth and wealth.

Hat tip naked capitalism

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 05:19:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Time for Criminal Charges To Be Filed . . .  By Barry Ritholtz  H/T to Edward Harrison's Links on naked capitalism. (More where that came from.)

The absurdity of illegal activity, criminal conduct, rampant fraud has reached a point where the nation much declare "No More." We must begin the process of identifying criminal actors -- and prosecuting them.

The latest twist on the criminality/foreclosure fraud: The hiring of untrained, incompetent burger flippers to act as lawyers or paralegals in the processing of foreclosures....(Barry cites the Florida examples)....This is a degree of recklessness previously unseen in American jurisprudence.

My advice: If you have been in any way personally harmed by the illegal actions of any bank, law firm, process server, or loan servicing agency, you MUST file criminal charges. If your home was broken into by a firm to change the locks illegally, that is breaking and entering, and conspiracy. If the wrong bank filed a foreclosure action, if the wrong house was foreclosed upon, its time to go criminal prosecution route.

....

Corporations that get free speech rights also have liability for their own criminal actions. Its way past time we start forcing those responsibilities to have some meaning.

This is not about keeping deadbeats in their homes, as a few idiots and liars have asserted. The corporate sympathizers who are too busy fellating the bank to recognize what is going should be ignored. This is about fundamental property rights and the Rule of Law in the United States -- nothing less.

It would seem that this should be done in some state where the judges are not so corporate friendly, such as South Carolina. There are attorneys in such states that are defending clients against bogus foreclosures. The best defense might be a good offense. I am surprised it is not already happening. Nothing benefits a civil case like a prior criminal conviction.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 09:55:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I understand, justice in america is a commodity like any other. so the more money you got, the more the legal system will serve you and foreclosed people, almost by definition, don't have much money so the legal system is deaf to their entreaties.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 05:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if 99% of the justice was for sale, which I at my most cynical would call a gross exaggeration, that would leave a lot of justice not for sale.

It is slow sometimes. In this case, slow might be good. For example, it is a rare rare case that gets heard by the Supremes without working its way up through other courts.

At this point, I would think that the worst problem is the amount of stupid going around, listening to the fools who want to allow the foreclosure bubble to expand until only the bones of their children are left for the last greedy bankers to leach one last time.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 05:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we had Too Big To Fail (TBTF). Now, we have Too BIg To Abide By The Law (TBTABTL)...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 05:23:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:26:24 PM EST
EU to reject Mugabe's ambassadors | EurActiv
A consensus is emerging among the EU institutions to reject Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ambassadors-designate to the European Union, after the country's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, called on the bloc not to recognise Mugabe's unilateral appointment.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:26:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - Congolese govt troops are raping and killing civilians, UN says
Civilians in eastern Congo who were the targets of mass rapes by rebel militias in recent months are now being raped and killed by Congolese government troops, the UN said on Thursday, calling the continuing violence "unimaginable".


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:26:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Election campaigning kicks off in Côte d'Ivoire | RFI
Presidential campaigning officially kicks off on Friday in Côte d'Ivoire. Fourteen candidates are in the running, but all eyes are on the three front runners: incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, former President Henri Konan Bedié and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. The campaigning will last two weeks and officially end 24 hours before the vote, slated for 31 October.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:26:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - UN troops move to north-south border as secession vote looms
The semi-autonomous Government of South Sudan has pledged to hold a long-awaited referendum on independence in January despite Khartoum's objections, prompting international alarm over the prospect of another civil war.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Johann Hari: Obama's robot wars endanger us all - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent

Imagine if, an hour from now, a robot-plane swooped over your house and blasted it to pieces. The plane has no pilot. It is controlled with a joystick from 7,000 miles away, sent by the Pakistani military to kill you. It blows up all the houses in your street, and so barbecues your family and your neighbours until there is nothing left to bury but a few charred slops. Why? They refuse to comment. They don't even admit the robot-planes belong to them. But they tell the Pakistani newspapers back home it is because one of you was planning to attack Pakistan. How do they know? Somebody told them. Who? You don't know, and there are no appeals against the robot.

Now imagine it doesn't end there: these attacks are happening every week somewhere in your country. They blow up funerals and family dinners and children. The number of robot-planes in the sky is increasing every week. You discover they are named "Predators", or "Reapers" - after the Grim Reaper. No matter how much you plead, no matter how much you make it clear you are a peaceful civilian getting on with your life, it won't stop. What do you do? If there was a group arguing that Pakistan was an evil nation that deserved to be violently attacked, would you now start to listen?

This sounds like a sketch for the next James Cameron movie - but it is in fact an accurate description of life in much of Pakistan today, with the sides flipped. The Predators and Reapers are being sent by Barack Obama's CIA, with the support of other Western governments, and they killed more than 700 civilians in 2009 alone - 14 times the number killed in the 7/7 attacks in London. The floods were seen as an opportunity to increase the attacks, and last month saw the largest number of robot-plane bombings ever: 22. Over the next decade, spending on drones is set to increase by 700 per cent.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton warns UK defence cuts may undermine Nato - Home News, UK - The Independent

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night voiced fears that the Coalition Government's determination to slash defence spending may threaten the capabilities of Nato.

Backed by her Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Mrs Clinton went on to suggest that the cutbacks could mean Britain fails in its commitment by falling short of contributing its fair share.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
don't worry, Cameron has already announced that our bloated military overspend is safe from any form of reining in.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 05:15:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - Ahmadinejad speaks to pro-Hezbollah rally on Israeli border
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on a two-day trip to Lebanon, arrived to a hero's welcome on Thursday in Bint Jbeil, a Hezbollah stronghold close to the border with Israel.

...The main square in the village, destroyed by Israeli strikes in the Jewish state's 2006 war with Hezbollah, was festooned with banners hailing Iran's assistance in rebuilding roads, bridges, hospitals and schools.

Pictures of overturned Israeli tanks and weeping Israeli soldiers were also posted at the entrance to Bint Jbeil.

Also see Lebanon Redux and Lebanon Redux 2 for what happened back then.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dreaming of Snow Leopards: Nazarbayev Dictates a Bright Future for Kazakhstan - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Kazakhstan has oil, coal and uranium -- and a capital full of stunning architecture. President Nursultan Nazarbayev hopes his country can become the region's leading economy, but his heavy-handed cult of personality is not universally welcomed. Others worry about China's growing influence.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia Reports: A land restitution plan to return land to over 130,000 families is announced by Colombian Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo, reports Caracol Radio. The government plans to implement a series of measures to start the process before the legislation is approved by Congress.  "From now until April 2011, interventions will be made to restore land to over 130,000 families who have been dispossessed by violence or should be formally granted ownership of their land" said Restrepo.

Colombia Reports: Indigenous leader Rodolfo Aricate Amaya was killed by two gunmen outside his home in the Cauca department, south-western Colombia. Amaya, a leader in the Paez community, had been receiving threats for many months before he was gunned down.

Cuba, HAVANA - Several former political prisoners and the family of a dissident who died behind bars earlier this year are being given the opportunity to leave Cuba, members of the internal opposition said Thursday. The Catholic Archdiocese of Havana conveyed the government's offer to Reina Luisa Tamayo, mother of the late Orlando Zapata, a spokesperson for the Ladies in White group of political prisoners' relatives told Efe.

LAHT, LONDON - Survival International warned the United Nations of "massive oil operations" in the northern Peruvian Amazon that could "decimate" uncontacted tribal people. "By permitting companies to operate in this region, Peru's government is flagrantly violating international law," the London-based group said in a letter to the U.N. special rapporteur on indigenous peoples,
According to this right wing ideologue, developments like the above are helping Peru become one of Latin America's most promising countries.

VALPARAISO, Chile - The Chilean Congress has approved a new tax, or "royalty" fee, on the largest mining firms to help cover reconstruction costs after a massive earthquake earlier this year.  The legislation pushes the highest royalty rate to 9 percent initially. Starting in 2017, royalties will range from 5 percent for companies with an operating margin equal to or less than 35 percent up to 14 percent when a firm's operating margin climbs to as high as 85 percent.

LA Times Blog: As metal prices rise and companies continue to seek Latin America's rich deposits of minerals and coal, the industry grows faster than some countries can regulate it, says a Forbes report. There are regular conflicts with workers over pay and safety conditions, as well as numerous reports of illegal mining operations -- with hardly any safety oversight or regulations -- in so-called wildcat mines.

NACLA, Cuba's Crossroads: On September 13, the Cuban government made a stunning announcement: Within the next six months, state payrolls will shed half a million workers. Additionally, the government will allow a great expansion of self-employment - known in Cuba as cuentapropismo - which it hopes will offset the planned layoffs. The new measures mark a sea change in Cuba. They signal the end of full employment as a right of citizenship and the arrival of a new relationship of the state and private sectors. In a way, they will turn the clock back to the mixed and undoubtedly more vibrant economy of the 1960s, when small, privately-owned shops and kiosks still dotted Cuban streets, until the 1968 "revolutionary offensive" nationalized all small businesses. And while these measures clearly come at a time of great economic hardship for Cuba, there is no indication they are meant to be temporary. A small and growing private sector within the Cuban economy is here to stay.

BELMOPAN, Belize -- The Belize government is trying to get to the bottom of a human trafficking racket in the country. The latest is the arrival of 33 Chinese who deplaned at the Phillip Goldston International Airport on chartered flights from Port au Prince, Haiti, on September 18, 19 and October 3.  Reports state that they presented Japanese passports that were not authentic and the Belizean visas on these passports were also not genuine.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 08:59:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Adam Curtis Blog
Back in 1960 the travel writer James Morris went to Afghanistan. He watched American and Soviet diplomats jockeying for influence, both convinced they could persuade the Afghans to support them in the Cold War.

But, wrote Morris, the world the diplomats entered was a strange one:

While the Afghan climate is  clear, brisk and extreme, the political atmosphere is blurred, inconstant and soggy.

Afghanistan is like the fairy wood in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and many a confident diplomat, striding briskly into its groves has come out with a donkey's head.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 10:02:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:28:19 PM EST
Debate on CO2 target exposes rift among EU businesses | EurActiv

Meeting in Luxembourg, the 27 EU environment ministers requested the European Commission to present further analyses of the consequences for individual member states of moving beyond the EU's existing 20% CO2 reduction goal for 2020.

The Commission's 2050 roadmap for a low-carbon economy, scheduled for publication next year, "should also inform this analysis of policy options up to 2020," they said.

The debate surrounding upgrading the European Union's target has divided EU member states, as some say that 20% simply represents business as usual as emissions have already fallen by 17% in the downturn. Meanwhile, others say higher goals are a liability in terms of competitiveness unless other major economies adopt similar targets.

Maybe more surprising is that the same contrast is now evident among businesses as well.

Ahead of the meeting, BusinessEurope, which represents EU employers, sent a letter to the Belgian EU Presidency arguing that increasing the EU's emissions reduction target would be "premature and even counterproductive".

But at the same time, 29 major companies issued a joint declaration urging the EU to up its target on emissions cuts to 30% from 1990 levels by 2020, sparking comments that BusinessEurope should not speak for the whole business community when it comes to environmental matters.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:28:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Member states strike deal on 'green' toll for lorries

In its current form, the EU's 1999 "Eurovignette" directive enables national governments to charge heavy lorries on roughly half of Europe's 30,000 km of motorways.

Tolls are either time- or distance-based, and are designed to offset infrastructure costs.

If the European Parliament gives its approval to Friday's deal, governments will then be able to charge the additional "green" tariff targeting pollution, if they wish.

Agreement on the compromise text proposed by the Belgian EU presidency is a significant diplomatic coup for the country's caretaker government.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:28:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]

France sees wide support to regulate food markets | EurActiv

France, which takes over the presidency of the Group of 20 most important economies in November, has made fighting speculation on commodities markets one of its priorities.

Its proposals have already been backed by Germany, and on Thursday Brazil and Italy threw their weight behind Paris.

In a joint statement, Brazil and France called for the setting up of global and regional stocks, greater regulation of derivatives on agricultural markets, and the creation of financial mechanisms - including price guarantees - to protect farmers from excessive price fluctuations.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:30:12 PM EST
France24 - Retired French woman on trial for ripping veil off a Muslim woman
A retired French woman is on trial and faces a two-month suspended sentence as well as a €750 fine for ripping the full face veil off of an Emirati tourist before biting, slapping, and scratching the Muslim woman in a rare case of "burqa rage".

What a stellar defense of women's rights...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:30:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe's Capital of Anti-Semitism: Budapest Experiences A New Wave of Hate - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Budapest survived fascism and communism and blossomed after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But the Hungarian capital is experiencing a rebirth of anti-Semitism. The far-right Jobbik is now the country's third largest party and Jews are being openly intimidated.

...The New York Times recently dubbed Budapest "Hollywood on the Danube." More international films are produced there than in any other European city...

But there is also news from the real Budapest, and the real Hungary of recent months.

Neo-fascist thugs attacked Roma families, killing six people in a series of murders. The right-wing populists of the Fidesz Party won a two-thirds majority in the parliament, while the anti-Semitic Jobbik party captured 16.7 percent of the vote, making it the third-largest party in Hungary, next to the Socialists. Unknown vandals defiled the Holocaust Memorial with bloody pigs' feet. A new law granted the government direct or indirect control over about 80 percent of the media. The television channel Echo TV showed an image of Nobel laureate and Auschwitz survivor Imre Kertész together with a voiceover about rats. Civil servants can now be fired without cause. Krisztina Morvai, a member of the European Parliament for Jobbik, suggested that "liberal-Bolshevik Zionists" should start thinking about "where to flee and where to hide."

...Now, in the wake of the Fidesz victory in communal elections on Oct. 3, the capital is getting a right-wing mayor for the first time, the 62-year engineer István Tarlós.

What's going on in Budapest?

No they aren't exaggerating, though the rhetorical focus on Budapest (where Jobbik again 'underperformed' and stayed behind the Greens) is off.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:34:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lev Raphael, Author and Son of Holocaust Survivors: 'I Find Myself Defending Germany' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Lev Raphael, a New York-born author and the son of Holocaust survivors, had nothing but instinctive hatred for Germany until he paid a visit several years ago. He has penned a memoir about his change of heart, "My Germany," and this autumn he returns to once-frightening German cities for a book tour.

... Raphael: I grew up with this image of Germany as the ultimate source of evil in the world, so the thought of even crossing the German border was anathema to me. We never bought German products, even something as simple as a Deutsche Grammophon record album. My parents were music lovers, but they would not buy Deutsche Grammophon. The irony is that we lived in a German-Jewish neighborhood -- Washington Heights in New York, which at the time was called Frankfurt on the Hudson. So I heard German around me. But somehow I was able to dissociate that from my parents' own experiences.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How did Germany surprise you when you finally crossed the border?

Raphael: What surprised me first was my own reaction -- I felt more like an American than the son of Holocaust survivors. But I also can't imagine anything more wonderful than being an author on tour in Germany. Audiences treat you differently than they treat you in America; you're taken seriously. I also found people very forthcoming about their own struggles with Germany's past, and how it affected them personally. It's a more intellectual culture than the American culture in general, so people discuss things at greater depth.

And my sexual orientation was a non-issue. Compared to puritanical America, that's very nice. E. M. Forster, who was also gay, said Anglo-Saxons have never accepted the realities of human nature.

I think there's still a clichéd belief in the United States that says, "The Germans haven't really faced up to World War II." And I say, "Have you been to Berlin?" Have you seen how many museums and memorials there are? If you want an example of a country that hasn't really faced its past, how about Japan? How about even France, which seems to have had much more difficulty facing its complicity with the Nazis? So I find myself in the strange position of defending Germany against people who say, "Oh, they haven't changed." It's a very different culture now. The militarism that really didn't die in 1918 is long gone.

And, apparently, how about Fidesz-Hungary?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neolithic Immigration: How Middle Eastern Milk Drinkers Conquered Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

New research has revealed that agriculture came to Europe amid a wave of immigration from the Middle East during the Neolithic period. The newcomers won out over the locals because of their sophisticated culture, mastery of agriculture -- and their miracle food, milk.

Wedged in between dump trucks and excavators, archeologist Birgit Srock is drawing the outline of a 7,200-year-old posthole. A concrete mixing plant is visible on the horizon. She is here because, during the construction of a high-speed rail line between the German cities of Nuremberg and Berlin, workers happened upon a large Neolithic settlement in the Upper Franconia region of northern Bavaria.

The remains of more than 40 houses were unearthed, as well as skeletons, a spinning wheel, bulbous clay vessels, cows' teeth and broken sieves for cheese production -- a typical settlement of the so-called Linear Pottery culture (named after the patterns on their pottery).

This ancient culture provided us with the blessing of bread baking. At around 5300 BC, everyone in Central Europe was suddenly farming and raising livestock. The members of the Linear Pottery culture kept cows in wooden pens, used rubbing stones and harvested grain. Within less than 300 years, the sedentary lifestyle had spread to the Paris basin.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:35:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2,700-year-old royal loyalty oath discovered in Turkey - News, Archaeology - The Independent

Archaeologists excavating a 2,700 year old temple at the ancient city of Tayinat, in southeastern Turkey, have discovered evidence that its inhabitants prominently displayed a tablet which bore a pledge of loyalty to the heir of an Assyrian king.

The city of Tayinat was built on the Amuq plain, on the Orontes River near the modern day Syrian border. The Assyrian Empire conquered it in 738 BC, with a governor being appointed to oversee it. The city's temple is about 12 meters by six meters in size, and pre-dates the conquest. The excavations at Tayinat are led by Professor Tim Harrison of the University of Toronto.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:35:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New species of fish discovered in ocean's deepest depths - Nature, Environment - The Independent

A new species has been discovered in a part of the ocean previously thought to be entirely free of fish, scientists said yesterday.

The new type of snailfish was found living at a depth of 7,000m in the Peru-Chile trench of the South East Pacific Ocean.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:36:38 PM EST
France24 - Chilean miners heading home after medical tests

REUTERS - Chile's rescued miners head home on Friday to a hero's welcome after their miracle survival for two months deep underground, and now yearn to put the psychological trauma of their ordeal behind them.

The first three of the 33 miners were cleared to head home from a hospital late on Thursday, returning to neighbors' cheers and confetti a day after their rescue from the depths of a collapsed mine.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:36:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - Wenger hints at future with Paris Saint Germain
Frenchman and team coach of Arsenal Arsene Wenger has said that he would consider working with Paris Saint Germain in the future. Wenger, however, ruled out a managerial role at the under performing Parisian club.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:37:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: Sound of silence vies to be Christmas number one

Facebook users are attempting to make four-and-a-half minutes' silence the prestigious Christmas number one in the charts.
Nearly 30,000 people have signed up to the campaign which aims to get experimental composer John Cage's silent piece 4'33'' in the festive top spot.



You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 10:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like this. I like this a lot. I have no idea why.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 10:46:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On this matter, John Cage, of course, remains silent.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 12:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well I wouldnt expect any response for at least a few minutes.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 01:28:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do they mean four-and-a-half minutes exactly, or 4 minutes and 33 seconds? Wouldn't the latter be a copyright violation?
by gk (gk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 10:56:09 AM EST
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oh no, the idea is to buy a performance of the John Cage piece in the week leading up to Christmas, it's a follow on to last years plan to stop Simon Cowells X-Factor winners getting the hugely commercial and publicity generating position. Last year this resulted in Rage against the Machines "Killing in the name" getting that position.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 11:16:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By extension the real problems are 1) Is it illegal to download silence, and 2) Do DJ's play the whole track 3) Are DJs allowed to talk over the track?

Everything else is just noise...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 01:15:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and is a shorter period of silence a derivative work, or could it be considered a sample?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 16th, 2010 at 02:26:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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