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by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 03:12:32 PM EST
BBC News - Tomislav Nikolic beats Boris Tadic in Serbia run-off

Nationalist Tomislav Nikolic has been elected president of Serbia, beating liberal incumbent Boris Tadic.

Mr Tadic conceded victory after early predictions showed him trailing with 47.4% of the vote, with Mr Nikolic predicted to win 49.4%.

The contest had been seen as a vote on EU membership and the newly-elected president promised that "Serbia will not stray from its European path".

Mr Tadic appealed to keep "Serbia's strategic orientation towards the EU".

"It would be a tragic mistake if Serbia changes its orientation. It is a matter of peace and economic development," he said.

Speaking of Tomislav Nikolic, he added: "I congratulate him on the victory, it was a fair and well-earned victory and I wish him luck."

As he confirmed his commitment to Europe, Mr Nikolic claimed "This is a turning point for Serbia... these elections were not about who will take Serbia to the EU, but who will solve the economic problems created by the Democratic Party (of Boris Tadic)".

Serbia is plagued by unemployment of 24% and foreign debt of 24bn euros (£19.5bn; $31.5bn).

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:27:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lockerbie bomber Megrahi dies in Libya, brother says - LIBYA - TERRORISM - FRANCE 24

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing over Scotland in which 270 people were killed, died on Sunday, his brother told AFP.

"He died an hour ago," Abdelhakim al-Megrahi said, putting the time of death at shortly after 1.00 pm (1100 GMT).

Doctors had yet to determine the cause of death, he added.

Megrahi, 60, suffered from prostate cancer and was hospitalised for a few days in April before being sent back home to be with his family.

On April 16, Abdelhakim had said his brother's days "were numbered."

A Scottish court in 2001 convicted the Libyan of the 1988 attack on Pan Am flight 103 over the town of Lockerbie, but he was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after doctors said he had only three months to live.

Megrahi had been greeted as a hero on his return to Moamer Kadhafi's Libya, after having served eight years of a minimum 27-year sentence for his role in the bombing.

The fact that he had survived much longer than the doctors had estimated had provoked indignation in Britain and the United States.

On the second anniversary of the release of the former Libyan intelligence agent on August 20, 2009, the Scottish government insisted its decision to free him had been vindicated.

But British Prime Minister David Cameron criticised the release as a "terrible mistake," and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would like to see him "back in jail behind bars."

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:28:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Five killed in northern Italy earthquake - Europe - World - The Independent

A magnitude-6.0 earthquake shook several small towns in northeast Italy Sunday, killing four people, knocking down a clock tower and other centuries-old buildings and causing millions in losses to the region known for making Parmesan cheese. 

A magnitude-6.0 earthquake shook several small towns in northeast Italy Sunday, killing four people, knocking down a clock tower and other centuries-old buildings and causing millions in losses to the region known for making Parmesan cheese. 

The quake struck at 4:04 a.m., with its epicenter about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 5 kilometers (3.2 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said. Civil protection agency official Adriano Gumina described it as the worst quake to hit the region since the 1300s. 

The four people killed were factory workers on the overnight shift when their buildings, in three separate locations, collapsed, agency chief Franco Gabrielli said, In addition, he said, two women died -- apparently of heart attacks that may have been sparked by fear. Sky TG24 TV reported one of them was about 100 years old. 

Gabrielli said dozens of people were injured. 

Two of the dead were workers at a ceramics factory in the town of Sant'Agostino di Ferrara. Their cavernous building turned into a pile of rubble, leaving twisted metal supports jutting out at odd angles and the roof mangled. 

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In European Crisis, Iceland Emerges as an Island of Recovery - WSJ.com

Three and a half years after Iceland collapsed in a heap, Dadi Palsson's fish-processing plant has the air of a surprising economic recovery.

Mr. Palsson arrived at 4 a.m. on a recent workday. Twelve tons of cod were coming in. Soon, his workers would bone, slice and pack the fish for loading onto towering container ships headed abroad.

In 2008, Iceland was the first casualty of the financial crisis that has since primed the euro zone for another economic disaster: Greece is edging toward a cataclysmic exit from the euro, Spain is racked by a teetering banking system, and German politicians are squabbling over how to hold it all together.

But Iceland is growing. Unemployment has eased. Emigration has slowed.

Iceland has a significant advantage over stressed euro-zone countries--a currency that could be devalued. That has turned its trade deficit into a surplus and smoothed its recovery.

So brisk is the fish business that Mr. Palsson's factory draws Polish workers to this island off an island, a heart-shaped dollop of volcanic rock five miles from Iceland's south coast.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:34:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently Iceland also has a real democracy.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When there's only 300 thousand of you it's rather easier.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 10:11:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it?

Concerned with the state of the Icelandic economy, Hördur Torfason staged a one man protest in October 2008. Torfason stood "out on Austurvöllur with an open microphone and invited people to speak".[8] The following Saturday a more organised demonstration occurred, and participants established the Raddir fólksins. The group decided to stage a rally every Saturday until the government stepped down. Torfason led the protest from a stage near the front.[9][10]

On 20 January 2009, the protests intensified into riots. Between 1,000 and 2,000 people clashed with riot police, who used pepper spray and batons, around the building of the parliament (Althing), with at least 20 people being arrested and 20 more needing medical attention for exposure to pepper spray.[3][11] Demonstrators banged pots and honked horns to disrupt the year's first meeting of Prime Minister Geir Haarde and the Althing. Some broke windows of the parliament house, threw skyr and snowballs at the building, and threw smoke bombs into its backyard.[2][3][12] The use of pots and pans saw the local press refer to the event as the "Kitchenware Revolution".[13]

On 21 January 2009, the protests continued in Reykjavík, where the Prime Minister's car was pelted with snowballs, eggs, and cans by demonstrators demanding his resignation.[14][15][16] Government buildings were surrounded by a crowd of at least 3,000 people, pelting them with paint and eggs, and the crowd then moved towards the Althing where one demonstrator climbed the walls and put up a sign that read "Treason due to recklessness is still treason."[14][16] No arrests were reported.

On 22 January 2009, police used tear gas to disperse people on Austurvöllur (the square in front of the Althing), the first such use since the 1949 anti-NATO protest.[17][18] Around 2,000 protesters had surrounded the building since the day before and they hurled fireworks, shoes, toilet paper, rocks, and paving stones at the building and its police guard. Reykjavik police chief Stefán Eiríksson said that they tried to disperse a "hard core" of a "few hundred" with pepper spray before using the tear gas.[4] Eiríksson also commented that the protests were expected to continue, and that this represented a new situation for Iceland.[4]



And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 10:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try to do the same with 30 million people.

If you can organize 300 thousand people in Spain you can organize a small provincial capital or a district of Madrid or Barcelona. Those have no political power or influence to speak of.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 10:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand your point, street protests are a lot more effective when something like two thirds of your population live in the capital.  But.....

My point is that in order for the Icelandic "Revolution" to succeed they had to make the country ungovernable until they got what they wanted. Even where geographic concentrates the power of protest, you still have to push things to the brink before you get the type of real, rapid change that happened in Iceland.

Do that in a country with a country that has greater social cleavages, and the question becomes whether looking into the abyss you become it.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in order for the Icelandic "Revolution" to succeed they had to make the country ungovernable until they got what they wanted.

Have you seen the pictures of police brutality against the Chicago protests at the NATO summit?

Another example. When the ECB came to Barcelona 8000 police were deployed to control the crowds. It was a veritable lockdown. The border to France was closed. According to Wikipedia, the Icelandic military has under 300 active personnel. The Icelandic police employs 800. At the anniversary 15M demonstrations last weekend, about 1500 police were deployed around Puerta del sol to control upwards of 30 thousand protesters.

The point I'm trying to make is that a large state can mobilize overwhelming force against a localised protest. And it's harder for a generalised insurrection to flare up when you have thousands of localities in the country

Plus, I'm sure the Icelanders are a more civilised people than the Americans or Spaniards are. Or did large numbers of Icelanders get their heads bashed in?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you seen the pictures of police brutality against the Chicago protests at the NATO summit?

Yes, I have friends who attended. As the participant in several meaningful protests that got off without any sort of police violence, I can tell you that there is a strong possibility that what you are seeing is the response to people who attended intending to provoke precisely that sort of police action. At least with American police (and I'd argue that this can be generalized), you only get police riots when they feel that they aren't in control of the situation.  Police riots are a reflection of weakness, not strength.  I could go into my personal experiences here, but that would be a diary of its own.

The point that I'm making isn't about provoking police violence, it's about making it clear that you won't exit the street until you get what you want.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:29:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point that I'm making isn't about provoking police violence, it's about making it clear that you won't exit the street until you get what you want.

Under that line of reasoning the Spanish 15M protesters yielded the street too soon when they withdrew last year rather than be evicted forcefully. And nos the law has been tightened in the direction of criminalizing passive resistance.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:33:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, even the Greek mobilizations in Syntagma were unable to make the country "ungovernable" by your definition.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Greek mobilizations in Syntagma have made it unthinkable that an elected government would follow through with the austerity measures that provoked the protests.

Note that New Dawn and Pasok had the seats to create a coalition government but didn't. The result?  A new election in which it seems highly likely that the anti- austerity parties will take enough seats to form a government.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 02:11:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That remains to be seen. New Democracy and PASOK might yet win a sufficient majority in the second elections. What happened at the last round was that Democratic Left were caught between their wish to be "responsible" and aid the formation of a government and their anti-austerity position. They decided to cover their ass by saying that they would not join a government with a comfortable 168 seats out of 300 unless SYRIZA also joined, because they knew full well they would lose all credibility with their base if they did and if SYRIZA stayed outside government it would provide an outlet for their supporters.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 22nd, 2012 at 03:52:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends
Lawmakers in Liechtenstein, one of Europe's smallest states, voted on Wednesday in favour of allowing a referendum on removing the ruling prince's right to veto legislation approved by parliament, a move that could create a constitutional crisis.

Liechtenstein is the only monarchy in Europe to still have any real executive power and the ruling crown prince said this month that the monarchy would withdraw from political life if the veto were introduced. However, a "Yes" vote in the proposed referendum would be far from assured in this conservative nation of 36,000 people, a top offshore financial centre.

by gk (gk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:32:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Hollande and Monti to propose eurobonds this week
Francois Hollande and Mario Monti are proposing a variety of schemes to help economic growth, including eurobonds; both put have pressure on Angela Merkel at the G8 summit in Camp David, but Merkel did not relent; Monti also proposed a eurozone-wide deposit insurance scheme;the German press took almost no notice of the G8 meeting;official hope to make progress at this week's summit on allowing the ESM to directly fund banks, but officials say eurobonds remain difficult;Der Spiegel reports that eurozone finance ministers have threatened Greece with expulsion from the eurozone; Wolfgang Schäuble proposed the idea that Greece should hold a referendum on euro membership and the austerity programme in parallel with the elections; Jean-Marc Ayrault wants the ECB to lend to governments directly; Syriza has once again taken a lead in the opinion polls; Alexis Tsipras is visit France and Germany, where he is meeting with leaders of the far left; the finance ministers of Ireland and Portugal have criticised Greece for triggering the latest crisis; Hollande is opposed to Schäuble as euro group chairman on the grounds that there is a conflict of interest; Jean-Luc Mélénchon mounts a direct electoral challenge to Marine Le Pen, which if successful could increase his influence over Hollande; Spain revises deficit target up from 8.5% to 8.9%; Thilo Sarrazin launches his anti-euro book to great fanfare in the German media; Jacek Rostowski says the eurozone needs a much bigger firewall in the form of an unlimited commitment by the ECB to purchase bonds; Wolfgang Munchau, meanwhile, says the most dangerous element of the eurozone crisis right now is a bank run, which is on verge of getting out of control.


guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
the German press took almost no notice of the G8 meeting

La la la la la la I can't hear you

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:13:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 03:12:36 PM EST
Eurozone crisis: high-stakes gamble as David Cameron warns Greek voters | Business | The Guardian

A second Greek vote next month backing parties opposed to the European Union's bailout package would be a decisive vote to leave the euro for which contingency plans have to be made now, David Cameron warned on Sunday in a dramatic raising of the stakes.

Speaking in Chicago after two days of talks with world leaders on the euro crisis, he said: "We now have to send a very clear message to people in Greece: there is a choice - you can either vote to stay in the euro, with all the commitments you've made, or if you vote another way you're effectively voting to leave." His remarks are in effect an attempt to make next month's vote a referendum on continued membership of the euro.

Cameron indicated that he wanted to make the threat of ejection from the euro credible by showing the Greeks that preparations are being made for their departure, a change of tactics after weeks of mixed messages from the European commission on whether such plans are being laid.

It is a piece of high-stakes diplomacy since his threat may either anger Greek voters, driving them into the arms of the radical parties, or act as a sobering warning that the end game is truly imminent and renegotiation of the EU-imposed austerity package is not an option.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So let me check I've got this right. Cameron, whose country is not in the euro, is lecturing a country which is, telling that they should continue to needlessly suffer in order that David's bankster friends may continue to plunder and profit excessively.

As the old greek proverb might say : Beware of Brits bearing advice

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:00:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dave is operating from Ronnie's playbook: repeated assertions of nonsense elevate that nonsense to the status of conventional wisdom.

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 Mon May 21st, 2012 at 10:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Obama presses EU leaders on growth

A weekend summit of G8 leaders hosted by US President Barack Obama stressed the need for the eurozone to focus on keeping Greece inside the euro - although plans are reportedly being drafted to deal with its potential exit.

"Our imperative is to promote growth and jobs.The global economic recovery shows signs of promise, but significant headwinds persist," leaders from the US, Japan, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Russia, as well as the heads of the EU commission and the European Council, said in their final statement on Saturday (19 May).

The informal meeting at Obama's retreat in Maryland was an opportunity for the US president to show support for those EU leaders - such as France's new president Francois Hollande and Italian premier Mario Monti - pushing for less austerity-focused eurozone policies.

After the G8 summit, Obama warned about the effects of the eurozone crisis on the world economy.

"As all the leaders here today agreed, growth and jobs must be our top priority. A stable, growing European economy is in everybody's best interests, including America's," he said.

The final G8 statement was a typical diplomatic mix embracing both 'fiscal consolidation' and 'generating growth.' It reflected the strength of discussions on the importance of promoting growth - pushed by Washington and Paris - and the importance of maintaining the austerity line - pushed by Germany.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stop buying from China, make it yourselves, and sell it to each other.

There you have it. I'm an economic genius. Pay me!

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's so obvious that I think this applies.



keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 08:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Funds' €60bn to buy European bank debt - FT.com

Hedge funds and private equity firms have amassed almost €60bn to buy loans from stricken European banks in coming years as many of the continent's lenders seek to shrink their way to health, according to a PwC survey.

PwC, which is advising many banks on asset sales, estimates European banks have almost €2.5tn of "non-core" assets they could sell.

The consultancy expects loan portfolios with a face value of €50bn to sell in 2012 and €500bn over five years. Investors surveyed by PwC predict European bank asset sales will peak next year as banks begin to plan repayments of loans from the European Central Bank.

The ECB has injected more than €1tn of cheap three-year loans into the continent's banking system, hoping to stave off a looming credit crunch that could hit companies and households.

"The run-off or sale of these loan assets will continue for many years and will make up a major proportion of future M&A activity," said Richard Thompson, chairman of PwC's European Portfolio Advisory Group.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:37:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The run-off or sale of these loan assets will continue for many years and will make up a major proportion of future M&A activity,"

A curious way to describe the collapse of a house of cards.

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 Mon May 21st, 2012 at 10:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fears of Bank Runs Increase in Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The final wake-up call came from Moody's. On Thursday evening, the US rating agency downgraded 16 Spanish banks in one fell swoop, some of them by three notches. On Monday, the agency had already downgraded 26 Italian banks -- including major institutions such as UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo. The outlook for all the institutions involved is negative, Moody's said.

OAS_RICH('Middle2'); These are drastic steps, but they are hardly excessive. The European sovereign debt crisis long ago also became a banking crisis. The fate of the affected countries can not be separated from that of their financial institutions: If a state goes bankrupt, its banks too will struggle to survive. On the other hand, the examples of Ireland and Spain show that a shaky banking system can quickly overwhelm national budgets.

Moody's justified its downgrades of Spanish banks with the argument that the ability of the government to support individual banks has worsened. On Friday, the Spanish central bank was also forced to admit that the proportion of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks has risen to an 18-year high. According to the central bank, the share of bad loans rose in March to 8.36 percent, compared to 8.15 percent in the previous month.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad:
The fate of the affected countries can not be separated from that of their financial institutions

it's a wonder... that used to be a feature, not a bug.

maybe it's high time we drive a fatter wedge twixt the twain.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 09:20:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Casualty! The eurozone sickness spreads - Europe - World - The Independent

Suddenly, there are a lot of Sick Men of Europe. Greece is in intensive care; Spain's waiting for a bed to become available; the drips that Portugal and Ireland are on don't seem to be doing much good; and while the condition of Italy seems to have stabilised a little, France is developing a bit of a cough; and the Netherlands are feeling a bit peaky. It's all a bit like a pan-European edition of Casualty.

And, just to make the episode more interesting, while almost everyone agrees on the underlying causes of the disease, the doctors can't agree on the treatment. This is partly because of the varying states of the patients, but also because the doctors themselves have their own agendas and interests. Some swear by this drug, others by another, and all are afraid of getting too involved with the critical cases in case they get infected. Time, then, for as calm a case conference as we can manage.

What are the sick suffering from?

A surfeit of debt, which, because of the credit crunch, and fears of default in the markets, is costing far more than it once did to service - plus overborrowing in the years of easy credit, a too-rapid expansion of public sectors, and, in the case of Ireland and Spain especially, an implosion of property prices. Greece now owes 160 per cent of its GDP, Ireland 110 per cent, Portugal 107 per cent and France 89 per cent. And, as economies contract, inefficient tax collection means these countries have even less cash.

What are the symptoms?

Of the euro's 17 members, seven are in recession: Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia. Germany, meanwhile, had 0.5 per cent growth in 2012's first quarter, mainly due to a big rise in exports. Under pressure from Germany, governments have laid off workers, cut pay, reduced spending on social programmes, and imposed higher taxes and fees to boost revenue.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
while almost everyone agrees on the underlying causes of the disease

Oh, dear, they mean public debt is the cause most everyone agrees on.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 07:03:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, everyone knows that public anything i bad, so public debt is a sin beyond compare.

Private debt is good, private debt works (just ask JP Morgan)

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:08:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 03:12:47 PM EST
Bomb detonates near UN observers in Syria - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

A roadside bomb has exploded in a suburb of Damascus as senior UN officials toured the area, the latest incident in which the unarmed observer mission has nearly been caught up in Syria's bloodshed.

The UN said there were no casualties in Sunday's blast, which occurred in Douma about 150 metres away from visiting UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and Major General Robert Mood, the head of the UN observers in Syria.

"It wasn't near the convoy. The convoy was not targeted, we were not attacked," Sawssan Ghoshe, a spokeswoman for the mission, said."It was a very small incident, very low sound, very little smoke." Error processing SSI file

She said the observer continued their trip in Douma without any problems.

Elsewhere in the country, at least dozens of people were reported killed, including 34 in an assault on Souran village in the central Hama province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The UK-based activist group said troops stormed the village after shelling it and urged UN truce observers to deploy immediately in the area.

A UN observer team with more than 250 members now on the ground has failed to quell the bloodshed in Syria, although it says it has had a "calming effect" in certain areas. On several occasions, the team has come close to being caught in an attack, although there is no conclusive proof that it has been targeted.

Earlier this month, a bomb targeting an army truck exploded seconds after a convoy carrying Mood went past in the country's south. Last week, a roadside bomb damaged the mission's cars in a northern town just minutes after witnesses said soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad gunned down mourners at a funeral procession.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:45:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bomb detonates near UN observers in Syria

This would be hilarious if people weren't being injured/killed.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:29:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Obama warns Nato of 'hard days ahead' in Afghanistan

US President Barack Obama has warned of "hard days ahead" at a Nato summit in Chicago dominated by the issue of withdrawal from Afghanistan.

France's new President Francois Hollande has again said he will pull French troops out by the end of 2012, nearly two years ahead of schedule.

Nato is preparing to hand over security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his country was fully aware of its responsibilities.

Some Nato members have pledged aid to help Afghan forces tackle the Taliban insurgency on their own.

The BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says the summit is seeking to reconcile two different messages.

It is telling the public in Nato countries that the fighting in Afghanistan is coming to an end for their troops, while reassuring the Afghans that the alliance will not abandon them after 2014, our correspondent says.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:46:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghans 'not ready' as US starts pull-out - Asia - World - The Independent

British soldiers in Afghanistan face a surge in attacks by Taliban fighters seeking to exploit an imminent withdrawal of US marines in the region where they are based. Experienced US soldiers are to be replaced by a fledgling Afghan army corps despite the American belief that there isn't a single Afghan military unit in the replacement force which is able to act independently.

The withdrawal plan is revealed in a new report by the US Department of Defense published before this weekend's Nato summit in Chicago. It describes the plans as "the biggest challenge for the remainder of 2012".

Estimates using Nato data suggest it will take more than four years before Afghan National Security Forces will be able to fight unaided.

Despite this, the coming months will see a 60 per cent reduction of US marines in Regional Command Southwest, which includes Helmand Province. By October, there will be fewer than 7,000 remaining from a force of more than 18,000.

UK military experts warn that British forces staying in Helmand could face an onslaught from Taliban forces looking to exploit the situation. One former British service chief, who would not be named, warned: "Next summer could be a very risky one for our people in Helmand. Look at it from the Taliban point of view: they'll be looking at the numbers being drawn down, thinking, 'Let's do something that will rock a country by doing a lot of killing'... it might well be in our area."

And Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Helmand, said: "We can probably expect to see our troops engaged in heavier fighting than they have been in the past couple of years. No matter how many Afghan soldiers there are there, I don't believe that they will be able to replace the effectiveness of the US forces that are leaving."

He added: "They are not close to being able to take over from Western forces unaided, and I don't believe that they would be able to contain the insurgency unaided by 2014, which is the date we are due to leave."

The warning comes as world leaders gathered in Chicago for the biggest ever summit on Afghanistan, with some 60 countries and organisations attending. Pressure to reduce the billions spent on Afghanistan has seen plans for a long-term Afghan force of more than 350,000 downsized to one of around 230,000.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:50:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taliban destroy poppy fields in surprise clampdown on Afghan opium growers | World news | The Guardian

Taliban fighters have destroyed fields of opium poppies in eastern Afghanistan this spring, the first time since 2001 the hardline Islamist group is known to have clamped down on the cultivation of a drug that provides a big part of its funding.

While the insurgents appear to have dug up a relatively small area of poppies in a remote area near the border with Pakistan, the move was so unusual it won a chorus of praise from the Afghan government and international organisations, whom the Taliban consider their enemy, as well as senior clerics.

"They just did what the constitution ordered," said Wasifullah Wasifi, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Kunar, where the eradication took place.

"The provincial governor really appreciates what the insurgents did. From the perspective of Islam it is forbidden and a crime to grow drugs," Wasifi said, adding that nearly a hectare had been destroyed by the Taliban in the province's Manawara district, in addition to a far larger amount eradicated by the government.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:56:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
M of A - Amnesty International Is Cheerleading For War
Amnesty's new slogan: "NATO: Keep the progress going!"


Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 06:05:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the summit is seeking to reconcile two different messages

the problem is that both of these messages are lies and most of the pr is about ensuring that this does not become blatantly obvious to the supine press corps

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:11:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, I thought this comment was about the G8 summit about growth and austerity.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
might as well be

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:46:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UN nuclear chief heads to Iran for key talks - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

The United Nations nuclear supervisor was travelling to Tehran on Sunday to seek a deal to inspect suspected weapons sites, a potential breakthrough that Iran may hope could persuade the West to start lifting sanctions and deflect threats of war.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), scheduled Monday's talks with Iran at such short notice that diplomats said agreement on new inspections may be near.

Even so, few see Tehran convincing Western governments to swiftly ease back on punitive measures when its negotiators meet international officials in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Tehran, says Amano's visit is "crucial".

"Many people say that a man of this stature wouldn't visit [Iran] at this crucial time unless they were very close to singing a framework deal," said Khan.

Our correspondent said this trip represents the potential end of a stalemate, as the last IAEA chief to visit Iran was Mohamed ElBaradei in 2009.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:48:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 03:13:02 PM EST
BBC News - Arctic melt releasing ancient methane

Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.

The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability.

There are many sources of the gas around the world, some natural and some man-made, such as landfill waste disposal sites and farm animals.

Tracking methane to these various sources is not easy.

But the researchers on the new Arctic project, led by Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), were able to identify long-stored gas by the ratio of different isotopes of carbon in the methane molecules.

Using aerial and ground-based surveys, the team identified about 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska and Greenland in lakes along the margins of ice cover.

Local sampling showed that some of these are releasing the ancient methane, perhaps from natural gas or coal deposits underneath the lakes, whereas others are emitting much younger gas, presumably formed through decay of plant material in the lakes.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:51:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arctic melt releasing ancient methane

That's the really good methane. Not the crap we buy today.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:32:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rotflol

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 08:29:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They don't fart methane like they used to.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 10:10:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Draining of world's aquifers feeds rising sea levels | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Humanity's unquenchable thirst for fresh water is driving up sea levels even faster than melting glaciers, according to new research. The massive impact of the global population's growing need for water on rising sea levels is revealed in a comprehensive assessment of all the ways in which people use water.

Trillions of tonnes of water have been pumped up from deep underground reservoirs in every part of the world and then channelled into fields and pipes to keep communities fed and watered. The water then flows into the oceans, but far more quickly than the ancient aquifers are replenished by rains. The global tide would be rising even more quickly but for the fact that manmade reservoirs have, until now, held back the flow by storing huge amounts of water on land.

"The water being taken from deep wells is geologically old - there is no replenishment and so it is a one way transfer into the ocean," said sea level expert Prof Robert Nicholls, at the University of Southampton. "In the long run, I would still be more concerned about the impact of climate change, but this work shows that even if we stabilise the climate, we might still get sea level rise due to how we use water." He said the sea level would rise 10 metres or more if all the world's groundwater was pumped out, though he said removing every drop was unlikely because some aquifers contain salt water. The sea level is predicted to rise by 30-100cm by 2100, putting many coasts at risk, by increasing the number of storm surges that swamp cities.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:52:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jakarta Poaches on Farmland Waters - IPS ipsnews.net
The 18,000 litres of clean water that Jakarta consumes per second are expected to hit 26,000 litres by 2015. The solution? A 54-km stretch of toll road cut through prime paddy land to access the water resources of this salubrious hill district.

Jakarta's administrators expect the capital city to be a show window for its efforts in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including those for water supply and sanitation.

The government, by stated policy, is looking to private-public partnerships (PPP) to come up with solutions. For their part, water companies like PT PAM Jaya - which predict a 44 percent increase in Jakarta's water demand by 2015 - want relaxed rules on water projects.

But, a conflict over water resources is emerging between local people in Sukabumi (translates as Happy Land in Sundanese) on one side and water companies with contracts to supply water to Jakarta on the other.

Trucks fetching sparkling mountain water may help quench the thirst of Jakarta's 10 million people but little thought has been given to rice cultivation on 2,700 sq km of land that must be sacrificed for the project, or the future of the 2.7 million residents of Sukabumi district.

Located at a cloud-kissing altitude of 600 metres, that gives it a cool 25 degrees Celsius average temperature, Sukabumi was favoured by the colonial Dutch to locate important institutions. Today Sukabumi boasts ecotourism activities like whitewater rafting and wildlife watching.
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:53:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pollution teams with thunderclouds to warm atmosphere

Pollution strengthens thunderstorm clouds, causing their anvil-shaped tops to spread out high in the atmosphere and capture heat -- especially at night, said lead author and climate researcher Jiwen Fan of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"Global climate models don't see this effect because thunderstorm clouds simulated in those models do not include enough detail," said Fan. "The large amount of heat trapped by the pollution-enhanced clouds could potentially impact regional circulation and modify weather systems."

Clouds are one of the most poorly understood components of Earth's climate system. Called deep convective clouds, thunderstorm clouds reflect a lot of the sun's energy back into space, trap heat that rises from the surface, and return evaporated water back to the surface as rain, making them an important part of the climate cycle.

To more realistically model clouds on a small scale, such as in this study, researchers use the physics of temperature, water, gases and aerosols -- tiny particles in the air such as pollution, salt or dust on which cloud droplets form.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:53:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar eclipse: moongazers in Asia and US await fiery donut in the sky | Science | guardian.co.uk

The sun and moon will align over the earth in a rare astronomical event late on Sunday - an annular eclipse that will dim the skies over parts of Asia and North America, briefly turning the sun into a blazing ring of fire.

"It will look like a donut with a very big hole in it," Nasa space scientist Jeffrey Newmark said.

Eclipses of some type occur almost every year, but stargazers have not seen an annular - shaped like a ring - eclipse on US soil since 1994, and the next one is not to occur until 2023. That is because the phenomenon requires a particular set of orbital dynamics, Newmark said.

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon's orbit is at its furthest point from the Earth and closer to the much larger sun. That juxtaposition allows the moon to block more than 90% of the sun's rays when the two orbs slide into alignment in space, Newmark explains.

"It's like moving your fist in front of your eyes," he said. "You can block out the view of a whole mountain. It's the same kind of effect."

The eclipse will first become visible over southern Asia and then move across the Pacific to the north-west. Traveling on diagonal path toward the south-east, the eclipse will cross over parts of Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, before disappearing in Texas with the sunset.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:54:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Monsanto's college strangehold - Agriculture - Salon.com
A new report has shocking findings about the connection between corporate funding and agricultural research

"When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer's markets, the first one told me that `no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,'" said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. "My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer's markets were stocked with `black market vegetables' that `are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.' It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket."

Unfortunately, she's not alone. Conducting research requires funding, and today's research follows the golden rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.

A report just released by Food and Water Watch examines the role of corporate funding of agricultural research at land grant universities, of which there are more than 100. "You hear again and again Congress and regulators clamoring for science-based rules, policies, regulations," says Food and Water Watch researcher Tim
Schwab, explaining why he began investigating corporate influence in agricultural research. "So if the rules and regulations and policies are based on science that is industry-biased, then the fallout goes beyond academic articles. It really trickles down to farmer livelihoods and consumer choice."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While you're at it just make up the data, making Monsanto look good. The grant money will flood in and who'll check your results?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tink that's how it already happens. Otherwise nobody could have bought the daft idea of non-proliferating roundup immunity

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 08:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 03:13:10 PM EST
BBC News - SpaceX Falcon rocket aborts launch in last second

The launch of the American SpaceX company's re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed by at least three days.

The company was forced to abort the flight just as its Falcon rocket was about to leave the pad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Early data indicated unusual pressure readings in one of the nine engine combustion chambers under the vehicle.

The company says it hopes to try again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We had a nominal countdown, right until about T-minus point-five-seconds," explained SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

"The engine controller noted high chamber pressure in engine five; software did what it was supposed to do - aborted engine five, and then we went through the remaining engine shut-down," she told reporters.

"We need to lift off with all nine [engines], which is why we aborted. You can lose up to two engines and still make your mission, just not at lift-off."

The next earliest launch opportunity is 03:44 EDT (07:44 GMT; 08:44 BST) on Tuesday.

SpaceX is attempting to become the first private company to send a cargo craft to the ISS; and its Dragon ship, which sits atop the Falcon rocket, has been loaded with half a tonne of food and spares for the purpose.

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:54:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad:

"We need to lift off with all nine [engines], which is why we aborted. You can lose up to two engines and still make your mission, just not at lift-off."

makes you wonder how they come up with that factoid.

boffin consults tables...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 09:15:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Physics. Acceleration needs to be maximised to use fuel efficiently. That makes the engines heavier. So there is a trade-off. Which tells you that you never launch if you cannot get maximal thrust.
by oliver on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:16:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... never launch if you cannot get maximal thrust.

So said a past girlfriend.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 07:40:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Checkpoint Charlie divides Berlin - Europe - World - The Independent

It was the place where American and Soviet tanks faced each other, muzzle-to-muzzle, at one of the Cold War's tensest moments. It features in countless spy films and was a gateway through which thousands of East Germans poured westwards on the night of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But nearly 23 years after Communism's collapse and German reunification, Checkpoint Charlie has degenerated into a tacky, Disneyland-version of its former self which attracts four million visitors a year.

A replica of the Allied wooden guard hut bearing the sign "You Are Now Leaving the American Sector", which was immortalised in the film of John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, has been reinstalled. But today its is manned by dubious "student" tourist touts dressed in mock French, British and American army uniforms.

"No, I don't speak English really - I'm from the Czech Republic," the young man clad in what looked like a British Army major's uniform said. "Want a picture?" he asked. "It's €€2."

Not far from the spot at the Berlin Wall where an 18-year-old East German was shot and left to bleed to death by Communist border guards as he tried to escape in the 1960s stands one of Checkpoint Charlie's newest acquisitions - a McDonald's. It vies with a plethora of fast-food stalls proffering "Checkpoint curry sausage" and "Allied hot dogs".

Turkish and Romanian street vendors do an inexhaustible trade in Communist East German and Red Army headgear. But their best-selling product is home-manufactured chunks of "Berlin Wall".

by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:55:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was an extraordinary moment hammering and picking down that wall, visiting a disoriented and antiquated East Germany, a trip back in time. Then later summer time the concert The Wall.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 01:25:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On ABC Radio National's `The World Today', interviewed by Eleanor Hall (21 May, 2012)
ELEANOR HALL: Well you're living in the Greek capital, you have a respectable professional job, how is it affecting you?

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Well I'm no longer living in the Greek capital. In the last month I bailed out myself, I'm now in the United States.

ELEANOR HALL: You've actually left Athens? You're a professor of economics...

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: I've taken leave, long term leave from my university. My salary has been cut by 50 per cent, but it's not just that, it's the fact that everything I worked for in the last 12 years at Athens University has crumbled and vanished.

All the programs that we put up, PhD programs and so on, due to lack of funding are in a state of let's say suspended animation.

ELEANOR HALL: So you've abandoned your country?

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: I have left hopefully temporarily, but you know as we say in Greece, sometimes the temporary is the most permanent of permanences. Greece is almost finished. Greece is in a state that - it's very hard to imagine how we can actually escape that mire in the next few years with any modicum of respectability and hope.

But my great worry is that if we bring down with us the rest of Europe, then the chances of Greece ever climbing out of its hole diminishes substantially.

ELEANOR HALL: Would it be more painful though than the current situation?

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Yes it would. When things get bad, people forget that they can get worse. Things can get worse in Greece at the moment, things can get far, far worse. People are still not starving on the streets.

That's perfectly possible. Remember the 1930s.



guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 11:47:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 03:13:15 PM EST
for a shortened and delayed Salon - time constrained the gnomes this weekend.
by Nomad on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 06:59:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're grateful for everything you do

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 21st, 2012 at 03:16:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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