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European Breakfast - November 10th

by p------- Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:54:58 PM EST

"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered." ~ Voltaire


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Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:55:26 PM EST
BBC: Portugal public workers on strike

Portuguese public sector workers have begun a nationwide two-day strike in protest against government plans to cut back on public spending.
More than 80% of the workforce have joined the strike, unions say.

The strikers oppose the government's plans to reduce the 700,000-strong workforce by 75,000. The government says the public sector is overstaffed.

The strike has had wide-ranging effects with schools and hospitals closed and rubbish uncollected.

The industrial action coincided with an unrelated strike by subway workers, forcing commuters to make their own way to work.

The public sector strike is in response to a budget bill, approved on Thursday, which aims to reduce Portugal's budget deficit from 4.6% in 2006 to 3.7% in 2007, in line with EU limits.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:57:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: EU sets defiant Turkey a deadline on Cyprus

BRUSSELS/ANKARA (Reuters) - The European Commission set Turkey a mid-December deadline on Wednesday to open its ports to shipping from Cyprus or risk a new setback for its troubled bid to join the European Union.

But Ankara insisted it would not climb down on Cyprus, a move that could anger voters before next year's general election, and warned the EU it would hold it responsible for any breakdown in talks.

The EU executive issued a critical progress report on Turkey's candidacy, faulting freedom of expression, religion and minority rights, amid growing public scepticism in the 25-member bloc about further enlargement.

"Failure to implement its obligations in full will affect the overall progress in the negotiations," it said.

The Commission said it would make "relevant recommendations" before a December 14-15 summit of the 25 EU leaders if Turkey did not comply. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn declined to say if that might entail a partial or total suspension of the talks.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:58:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This will be interesting. For the anti-Turkish-accession German conservatives this is surely a hope of getting Turkey to shut itself out. On the other hand, the move may be needed to move things forward on Cyprus. I wonder how the Turkish government will react.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 01:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, this really is a moment of decision. It can go either way and each choice determines entirely different futures.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:51:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the Netherlands has made VVD (Liberals) party leader Rutte come out swinging that all EU negotiations with Turkey should now be abandoned from henceforth - in a populist move to get voters back and also to return him to the public stage which has been dominated so far by two party titans: Prime minister Balkenede and opposition leader Bos.

As could've been predicted Rutte's sputtering has
(practically) been ridiculed by the Commission. And not he, but Geert Wilders got invited the same evening. Rutte, in the meantime, made everyone uncomfortable by implying that the death of his father was a good opportunity to leave the parental nest. Ack.

One day soon I need to write that diary on the parties in the Netherlands... But it's making me feel all filthy again.

by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't like the use of the word "defiant". If sounds like "uppity".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:03:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
MosNews: Sweden Ordered to Pay Compensation to Russian Scientist Cleared of Espionage Charges

The Swedish Chancellor of Justice has ordered his government to pay 80,000 Krona ($11,000) to Andrei Zamyatnin, a Russian biologist who was jailed for two months on espionage charges earlier this year.

Zamyatnin's lawyer, Ula Salomonsson, had demanded a compensation of 500,000 Krona (over $70,000), while prosecutors insisted that since the Russian had been cleared of all charges after a two-month detention he was not entitled to any compensation, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Russian biologist Andrei Zamyatnin was released from Swedish custody in April 2006 after authorities concluded he was not a spy and posed no threat to national security.

Zamyatnin, a guest researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, was arrested on February 15. Swedish Prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand said Zamyatnin, prior to his arrest, had been collecting information about current and past researchers at the institute, which he then passed to the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, Interfax reported.

Also, Zamyatnin was accused of having forwarded to Russian officials materials dealing with biochemical engineering and gene modification, Lindstrand said, according to The Associated Press. But Swedish officials determined that the lost information did not jeopardize the nation's strategic or commercial interests. "I have concluded that this does not hold up," Lindstrand said. "If there is no threat to national security, one of the requirements [to charge him] falls. Then we have to let him go."




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:58:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure I can imagine the U.S. Supreme Court ordering the government to pay compensation to the innocent people it has wrongfully detained/tortured/extraordinarily rendered/etc. since 9/11 (even in the relatively few cases that the government has actually acknowledged were outright mistakes.)

Rien ne réussit comme le succès.
by marco on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:42:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK usually takes the view that you should be grateful you were freed. Compensation ? Ah, we'll wait till you're dead.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes - at least  sometimes. The Canadian government provides compensation for those wrongly convicted. I am not sure of the details, and it was not a trivial search on line to find the information.

David Milgaard for 20 years in jail - about 6.7 million euros
Thomas Sophonow  4 years in jail - about 1.7 million euros
Guy Paul Morin  about .8 million euros
Donald Marshall about 1 million euros


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 10:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That Chinese scientist at Los Alamos that had his life wrecked by bogus spying accusations got an apology by the judge, but nothing else.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:05:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EuroNews: Legendary East German spymaster dies

He was dubbed "The Man Without a Face." Markus Wolf - considered to be the Soviet Bloc's greatest spymaster during the Cold War - has died at his home in Berlin at the age of 83. Earning his nickname because Western security services had no photograph of him for years, Wolf rose through the ranks of East Germany's feared Stasi secret police. He headed its elite foreign intelligence division for three decades, running a network of 4,000 spies.

Wolf would later write an autobiography amid rumours his experiences may have influenced the novelist John le Carre.

Wolf masterminded audacious operations, planting agent Guenter Guillaume close to West German leader Willy Brandt in a move which brought about the Chancellor's downfall when the spy was exposed in 1974.

While he has been romanticized in the West by some, others have condemned Wolf over his role in the oppressive East German communist regime.

Just before the Berlin Wall fell, he was one of the speakers at a pro-democracy rally, denouncing police attacks on earlier protesters. But he later fled to Moscow, returning to a reunified Germany where he was charged with treason and received a six-year prison sentence which was later overturned. In a subsequent trial he was given a two-year suspended jail term.

Wolf's publisher said he died peacefully in his sleep, exactly 17 years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: EU warns of obesity crisis

BRUSSELS, Belgium: The European Commission on Thursday hailed several food and beverage multinationals -- often seen as culprits in obesity -- for pledging to help fight the flab in Europe.

EU Public Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou praised, among others, Unilever NV, PepsiCo, The Coca Cola Company, McDonald's Corp. and Kraft Foods Inc. for committing to voluntary steps to reverse Europe's widening girth and promote physical fitness at a time when the number of overweight children in the EU is rising by 400,000 a year.

At a press conference with top executives of these companies, he said it was crucial food and drink companies cooperate in the fight against flab because the EU cannot legislate against products that are not dangerous.

If Europe wants to curb overweight, "we have to form public-private partnerships. We are all part of the problem -- industry, parents, consumers, the authorities, doctors -- and will have to be part of the solution."




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Independent: MI5 head warns of up to 30 terror plots at work in Britain

There are up to 30 alleged "mass casualty" terror plots in operation in Britain, as well as hundreds of young British Muslims on a path to radicalisation, the head of MI5 has said.

In an unprecedented public announcement yesterday, the MI5 director general, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, revealed that the caseload of the Security Services had risen by 80 per cent since January, and that the counter-terrorism agency was fighting to keep the rapidly growing threat under control

Describing the scale of the home-grown terrorist problem, she said MI5 and the police were tackling 200 groups or networks totalling more than 1,600 identified individuals in the UK who were "actively engaged in plotting or facilitating terrorist acts".

Islamic militants linked to al -Qa'ida were recruiting teenagers to carry out attacks using chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology.



Rien ne réussit comme le succès.
by marco on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but how many of these groups are really dangerous, and how many of them think they can just whip up a batch of TATP in 2 minutes in the can aboard a commercial aircraft?

<sigh>

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:35:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No doubt this would have been higher if only they foiled the plots in Forest Gate, surrounded Heathrow with tanks, shot Jean charles de Menezes and the  attack on Man Utd.

And of course, I am reassured about their assessements when we discover their primary intelligence on the Middle East seem to come from undergraduate theses over a decade old.

The politics of fear lost on tuesday. It's over. Shut up already.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:39:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Independent: Anti-cartoon protester convicted of inciting racial hatred

The British Muslim from Palmers Green, north London, was arrested on 3 February as he demonstrated with 300 other people outside the Danish embassy in Sloane Street, central London, to protest about cartoons published by a newspaper in Denmark.

<...>

The prosecution emphasised that freedom of speech did not stretch to inciting the murder of religious opponents.

<...>

The jury found him guilty of stirring up racial hatred, but they could not agree on a second charge of inciting murder.

<...>

The Old Bailey heard that he addressed the protest on the issue of UK troops in Iraq, saying: "We want to see their blood running in the streets of Baghdad."

David Perry QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that Rahman had also called for more September 11-style terrorist attacks. "What he said was this, 'Oh Allah, we want to see another 9/11 in Iraq, another 9/11 in Denmark, another 9/11 in Spain, in France, all over Europe," Mr Perry said.

The prosecution said that Rahman was filmed calling for troops to be brought back to the UK in body bags. He was also photographed holding placards which said "Annihilate those who insult Islam".

Députés and Jack Straw, take note.

Rien ne réussit comme le succès.

by marco on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 12:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FAZ: EU seeks to include airline industry in emissions trading


10. November 2006
Umweltkommissar Stavros Dimas will die Fluggesellschaften von 2010 an in den EU-Emissionshandel einbeziehen. Er werde bis zum Ende des Jahres einen entsprechenden Gesetzentwurf vorlegen, kündigte Dimas am Donnerstag in Brüssel an.

Von diesem Vorschlag wären unabhängig von ihrem Herkunftsland alle Gesellschaften betroffen, die einen europäischen Flughafen anflögen. Sie müßten damit Rechte für den Ausstoß von Kohlendioxyd erwerben. Wenn die EU-Staaten und das Europaparlament den Entwurf unterstützten, könne die EU die Fluglinien in drei Jahren in das bestehende Handelssystem integrieren, sagte Dimas. Gravierende Folgen für andere Sektoren erwarte er davon nicht.


10 November 2006
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will seek to include the airlines in the EU emissions trading scheme from 2010 on. Dimas announced in Brussels on Thurdsay that he intends to submit a corresponding legislative proposal by the end of the year.

This proposal would apply to all airlines flying to European airports, regardless of their country of origin. The airlines would be required to acquire carbon dioxide emission rights. If the EU nations and the European Parliament support this proposal, the EU could integrate the airlines in the existing emissions trading system in three years, said Dimas. He did not expect any significant consequences for other industries.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good. But insufficient, doesn't substitute the elimination of fuel tax exemption.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 04:01:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, that is rather the elephant in the room, isn't it?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:01:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, do I remember correctly that some Germans (Greens? DB? Some NGO?) sued over the issue at an EU court (the one on competition?), but the tax exemption was declared legit?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rather than the greens, what about international railways and coach firms claiming uncompetitive business restrictions or something ?

Govts & courts never listen to scruffy oiks in cases versus corporate power, only to other business entities. It is important in every conflict to select the appropriate weapon and use it effectively by deploying at the appropriate time.

Suggested reading :
Sun Tzu - Art of War
Iain M Banks : Use of Weapons

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:48:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right - I'd forgotten about that. It was DB (German railway) and the court ruled that the national law providing for the tax exemption conformed to EU directives.

German link

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RIA Novosti: The end of a chapter in European history: the death of Mischa Wolf

Marcus Wolf died on November 9 at the age of 83. Wolf was not an enemy of German people; he was an enemy of Nazism and an opponent of German revenge. European history split Germany into two parts, and each of them had its own ideals and goals. He was also one of the most loyal friends of Russia, which saved his family and sacrificed the lives of millions of its people to save Europe.

After German reunification, Mischa Wolf was put on a wanted list together with other former members of the Stasi. He was hunted like a state criminal. Again, Russia shielded him and he became an emigrant. But the very thought of being wanted like this was intolerable to the ex-general, so he returned to Germany to defend his honor and dignity. This was also an extraordinary deed.

The legendary figure of the East German intelligence services was tried as a traitor and sentenced to six years in jail. Apparently, his speeches, in which he tried to prove that "high treason" could not be used in indictments of former GDR citizens who had served their state, played an important role. The German Constitutional Court declared the charges legally invalid, and hundreds of his comrades escaped prison.

Few years ago I picked up his Man Without A Face autobiography at the local bookstore. At the very least, an interesting perespective on Stalin's Moscow, GDR, Stasi  and perestroyka times.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Oops, somehow missed the same news item from poemless.
by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:55:44 PM EST
WaPo: R.I. Senator May Leave Republican Party

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Two days after losing a bid for a second term, Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he was unsure whether he would remain a Republican.

Chafee lost to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in a race seen as a referendum on President Bush and the GOP. On Thursday, he was asked whether he would stick with the Republican Party or become an independent or Democrat.

"I haven't made any decisions. I just haven't even thought about where my place is," Chafee said at a news conference. When pressed on whether his comments indicated he might leave the GOP, he replied: "That's fair."

Chafee, 53, is a lifelong Republican who has represented Rhode Island for seven years. His father held the same seat for 23 years before that.
He is the most liberal Republican in the Senate and was the sole Senate Republican to vote against the war in Iraq. But that was not enough to prevail against Whitehouse, who shared many of Chafee's views but was a Democrat in a heavily Democratic state.

Chafee said he has not decided what to do after leaving office, but he hoped to stay involved in public life. He said his loss may have helped the country by switching control of Congress.

"The people have spoken all across America. They want the Democrats and Republicans to work together," he said. "I think the president now is going to have to talk to the Democrats. I think that's going to be good for America."




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He said his loss may have helped the country by switching control of Congress.

Whoa.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:39:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NYT: Toilets Underused to Fight Disease, U.N. Study Finds

The toilet and the latrine, which helped revolutionize public health in New York, London and Paris more than a century ago, are among the most underused tools to combat poverty and disease in the developing world, says a United Nations report released yesterday.

"Issues dealing with human excrement tend not to figure prominently in the programs of political parties contesting elections or the agendas of governments," said Kevin Watkins, the main author of the report. "They're the unwanted guests at the table."

The human cost of that taboo, however, is more unspeakable than the topic itself, he said. Every year, more than two million children die of diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by dirty water and a lack of "access to sanitation."

That is the common euphemism for the reality that more than a third of the world's people -- 2.6 billion -- have no decent place to go to the bathroom, while more than a billion get water for drinking, washing and cooking from sources polluted by human and animal feces.

At any time, almost half the people in developing countries have one or more of the main illnesses associated with inadequate water and sanitation and fill half the hospital beds, the report said. They are plagued by diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, trachoma and parasitic worms.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Houston Chronicle: Israel gay pride parade canceled

JERUSALEM -- Gay leaders on Thursday canceled a parade in Jerusalem amid security concerns and pressure from fundamentalist religious leaders who called such a public display in the holy city offensive.

The Gay Pride parade scheduled for Friday drew opposition from Jews, Christians and Muslims, while hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews vented their disapproval by clashing with police and burning trash bins in the streets several nights over the past week.

Police had planned to post 9,000 officers to protect marchers, but authorities asked organizers to scale back the gathering amid reprisal threats after errant Israeli artillery shells killed 18 Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Wednesday.

Organizers agreed Thursday to turn the public parade into a rally, held inside a closed stadium.

The parade dispute has become a flashpoint in the battle for gay rights in Israel, drawing conflicting stances from secular society members and influential religious conservatives.

"Over time we achieved a lot more than was expected, and it puts us in a very good place in the cultured world," said Uzi Even, a nuclear scientist who was the first openly gay member of Israel's parliament. "Now, we are being dragged back into the dark world of religion."




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:02:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israeli hard-liners can't help creating new groups of untermenschen can they ?

Maybe the gays should take to wearing a pink triangle.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:13:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Independent: Why water is gravest challenge facing humanity

Water and sanitation are among the most powerful preventive medicines available to reduce infectious disease. The presence of a flush lavatory in a house, the UN report says, reduces the risk of infant death by more than 30 per cent. Sewers save more lives than antibiotics. Astonishingly, then - despite one of the Millennium Development Goals being to halve the number of people without water and sanitation - the amount of aid to this sector has, according to the Commission for Africa, fallen by 25 per cent over the past decade.

The problem is twofold. The first is that such basics are unfashionable among Western donor governments. The second is that many African and Asian governments do not prioritise the area; in Ethiopia the military budget is 10 times the water and sanitation budget; Pakistan spends 47 times more on guns than on sewers and clean water.

Why? Because water and sanitation are problems which disproportionately affect the poorest, women and children in particular, - a class which has no political leverage with urban Third World elites.

<...>

The UN report is full of examples of strategies that have worked, and those that have not. It cites success stories in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam and comparative good news in South Africa, where water was once a symbol of apartheid division, but a system of entitlement has been introduced. It should be extended across the world, the report says, with all governments legislating for water as a human right, with a basic minimum of 20 litres per person per day - less than half of what we in Britain each flush daily down the lavatory.

To do that, the report says, would increase aid spending by about $4bn a year. That is less than Europe spends on bottled mineral water.



Rien ne réussit comme le succès.
by marco on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Subsidies interrupt flow of 'virtual water'

A trade in so-called "virtual water" arose as dry countries began importing commodities such as wheat and other basic grains that require a lot of water. As Arjen Hoekstra, an academic expert in water management, points out, this is a classic application of the theory of comparative advantage. Economies do what they are relatively good at. Wetter and more temperate regions, where the soil holds much more water and agriculture can rely on cheaper rainfall rather than expensive irrigation, export water to hotter, drier countries.

The World Bank estimates that 1340bn cu m in "virtual water", a quarter of all the water used on the planet to grow food, was traded in 2000. This can mean overturning millennia-old patterns of production, even importing traditional staple foods.

(...)

But like any trade, the international commerce in virtual-water crops has distortions and inefficiencies. The most familiar reason - government subsidies to farmers - is sometimes given a national food security rationale. Egypt, for instance, still grows about half its own wheat.

In truth the provision and pricing of water for irrigation sometimes owes more to the clout of rich farmers than it does to comparative advantage.

Tony Allan, an academic at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London who developed the concept of virtual water, points at the rich Jordanian farmers who export water-intensive vegetables into damp Europe.

Some of the more blatant inefficiencies are clear to see, such as the alfalfa and wheat farms incongruously planted in the Saudi desert. The farms represent a woeful waste - using revenues from the extraction of oil to subsidise the extraction of water from a non-renewable aquifer deep underground. In the process, Saudi Arabia has become a big net exporter of wheat, though it uses about 3000 cu m of water - three times the global average - to produce a tonne of wheat, with production costs between four and six times the world price.

(...)

Just like other farm support, these payments have ambiguous effects. They lower world prices for food, benefiting consumers in food importing countries such as in Africa. But they also undercut small farmers in those countries who are trying to compete but do not receive the same subsidised water. It may be sensible for richer countries to import as much virtual water as they can, since they can more easily switch workers and investment from water-intensive to non-water intensive farming, or from farming to manufacturing and services.

(...)

It is, however, a logic that the market in virtual water will follow, at least until the price of water around the world is brought into line with its real cost.

Interesting article. Might be worth a diary if someone has anything smart to comment. (I don't right now)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like once we get onto this kind of discussion we have to start talking about all virtual flows. For example, this

rich Jordanian farmers who export water-intensive vegetables into damp Europe

fails to consider that this also represents a virtual export of sunlight to Europe - which might make it a better economic proposition than producing grains for the home market.

Still, this is quite an interesting way to think of water.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:04:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Reuters:  Skating star Kwan gets new diplomacy job

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hoping to boost America's image abroad, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed U.S. figure skating star Michelle Kwan on Thursday as a public diplomacy envoy for the Bush administration.

Once an aspiring skater herself, Rice said Kwan showed humility and grace under pressure during her athletic career and was the perfect choice as a goodwill ambassador.

"It is a time of great consequence in the world and I know you are going to play an important and valuable role for our nation," said Rice, with Kwan, 26, at her side.

(...)The State Department hopes using sports and other public figures as envoys will stem a tide of suspicion over U.S. foreign policy goals, particularly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Kwan's main job will be to meet young people worldwide to tell them more about America and foster an understanding of "our democratic principles," said Rice.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 12:19:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blimey. I just googled "goodwill ambassador US" and there are loads of them.

Wasn't there a high-profile one appointed by Bush who disappeared without trace after one abortive visit to the ME ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:32:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Karen Hughes? She had a disastrous tour in ME.
Slate article

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's the one !!! It was too close Ms Can't count, won't count Harris in Florida for me to be confident in my memory.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:59:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A.P. via CNN: Indian eunuchs help collect taxes

One cash-strapped Indian city has launched a unique collection service to dislodge payment from tax deadbeats: Door-to-door eunuchs.

Eunuchs, or men who lack external genitalia, are regarded as powerless in India and traditionally make a living on tips for dancing at weddings or blessing newborns.

But they are also known for extreme stubbornness and Patna, the capital of Bihar state in eastern India, hired scores of them Wednesday to compel shop owners to pay their tax arrears.

"We are confident that their reputation and persuasive skills will come in handy for the municipal authorities to collect taxes from defaulters," said Bharat Sharma, a revenue officer.

Only 2,000 of nearly half a million people have been paying property tax and water supply charges to Patna's municipal authorities, and tax collection is less than one-third of a projected tax base of $15 million, said Atul Prasad, the municipal administrator.

When I went to my friend's wedding in Mumbai, some colorfully dressed dancing eunuchs crashed the party outside his house before the ceremony, and it took like an hour to bribe and persuade them to go away.  I don't know if it's true, but I was told that their secret weapon (feared by all) is to flash you if you don't pay them enough.

<googling>

Hmmm... looks like it may be true

Rien ne réussit comme le succès.

by marco on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 12:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A large-scale group protest occurred in Zhili Township, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province on October 29, 2006. More than 5,000 local residents rallied at the Township Government Office in reaction to the government's mishandling of two recent fires. The protest turned violent--windows were shattered, desks were overturned, and the head of the Public Security Bureau was hit by an ashtray. The violent protest lasted through the night until 4 am.

On the day of the protest, the Zhejiang provincial governor happened to be visiting Zhili Township. At the end of the visit when he was about to depart, protestors stopped his vehicle. A man stepped out of the car and fiercely pushed away the protestors. Subsequently, the enraged crowd smashed the governor's car.

Fan Ziliang, an advocate for democracy in Zhejiang Province, confirmed the news. Fan said, "More than 100,000 people attended the protest. The huge number of protestors and the shortage of police kept the Public Security Bureau from taking suppressive actions. The incident erupted suddenly, and there was no time for the authorities to assemble additional police forces."

A reporter of The Epoch Times called the local police station. The policeman who answered the phone admitted the occurrence of the incident but could not provide any details because he didn't have a chance to go to the scene yet. "A lot of armed policemen have been deployed to the township government," he said.

[Epoch Times]

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:30:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ScienceDaily: Researchers Link Ocean Organisms With Increased Cloud Cover And Potential Climate Change

Atmospheric scientists have reported a new and potentially important mechanism by which chemical emissions from ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds that reflect sunlight away from our planet.

Discovery of the new link between clouds and the biosphere grew out of efforts to explain increased cloud cover observed over an area of the Southern Ocean where a large bloom of phytoplankton was occurring. Based on satellite data, the researchers hypothesized that airborne particles produced by oxidation of the chemical isoprene -- which is emitted by the phytoplankton -- may have contributed to a doubling of cloud droplet concentrations seen over a large area of ocean off the eastern coast of South America.

Using complex numerical models, they estimated that the resulting increase in cloudiness reduced the absorption of sunlight by an amount comparable to what has been measured in highly polluted areas of the globe. If confirmed by field studies, this connection between clouds and biological activity could add a critical new component to global climate models. Many environmental scientists believe that increased cloud cover may be partially countering the effects of global warming by reducing the amount of energy the planet absorbs from the sun.

[...]

Researchers had previously theorized that dimethyl sulfide (DMS) -- which is also emitted by phytoplankton -- affects the formation of clouds by increasing the number of sulfate particles, which can absorb moisture and form cloud droplets. When oxidized, isoprene may enhance the effect of DMS by increasing the number and size of the particles while helping them to chemically attract more moisture. The impact of isoprene on atmospheric particulate matter was previously thought to be important only for terrestrial plants, Nenes said.

The researchers stumbled upon the phytoplankton-cloud connection quite accidentally. "While looking at the satellite pictures, I noticed that cloud properties over large phytoplankton blooms were significantly different from those that occurred away from the blooms," recalled Meskhidze, now an assistant professor in NC State's College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

The Southern Ocean normally has relatively few particles around which cloud droplets can form. The isoprene mechanism could therefore have a significant effect on the development of clouds there -- and may account for most of variation in the area's cloud cover.

"If a lot of particles form because of isoprene oxidation, you suddenly have a lot more droplets in clouds, which tends to make them brighter," Nenes explained. "In addition to becoming brighter, the clouds can also have less frequent precipitation, so you might have a build-up of clouds. Overall, this makes the atmosphere cloudier and reflects more sunlight back into space."

In their paper, the researchers estimated that the isoprene emissions reduced energy absorption in the area by about 15 watts per square meter. "This is a huge signal," said Nenes. "You would normally expect to see a change of a couple of watts."




The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:31:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paul Krugman (NYT): The Great Revulsion

[...]

Now, I don't expect or want a permanent Democratic lock on power. But I do hope and believe that this election marks the beginning of the end for the conservative movement that has taken over the Republican Party.

In saying that, I'm not calling for or predicting the end of conservatism. There always have been and always will be conservatives on the American political scene. And that's as it should be: a diversity of views is part of what makes democracy vital.

But we may be seeing the downfall of movement conservatism -- the potent alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. This alliance may once have had something to do with ideas, but it has become mainly a corrupt political machine, and America will be a better place if that machine breaks down.

Why do I want to see movement conservatism crushed? Partly because the movement is fundamentally undemocratic; its leaders don't accept the legitimacy of opposition. Democrats will only become acceptable, declared Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, once they "are comfortable in their minority status." He added, "Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate."

And the determination of the movement to hold on to power at any cost has poisoned our political culture. Just think about the campaign that just ended, with its coded racism, deceptive robo-calls, personal smears, homeless men bused in to hand out deceptive fliers, and more. Not to mention the constant implication that anyone who questions the Bush administration or its policies is very nearly a traitor.

When movement conservatism took it over, the Republican Party ceased to be the party of Dwight Eisenhower and became the party of Karl Rove. The good news is that Karl Rove and the political tendency he represents may both have just self-destructed.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:43:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I'm unhappy at the idea of conservatism being associated with these people. It's kinda like people assuming Hitler was really somehow left-wing cos he led a party called National Socialist.

They weren't conservative. They used the ideas of conservativism merely as a cloaking device for their entirely authoritarian corporate takeover.

I don't like conservatism at all. European and especially not American, but even I know this gang weren't conservative.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:03:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bolton is (likely) out. CNN:

With leaders from both parties promising a new bipartisan Washington, Bush began efforts to get two of his most controversial decisions approved before the Democrats take over.

Along with Bolton's nomination, Bush said he would like to move forward on legislation to retroactively authorize the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.

Bush said he would like to see action on both issues before year's end. The Democratic-controlled Congress begins its term in January.

But Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who was defeated in this week's election, said he would block Bolton's nomination.

Chafee, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that he did not believe Bolton's nomination would move forward without his support.

"The American people have spoken out against the president's agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy," the Rhode Island moderate told The Associated Press.

"And at this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against."

The committee, dominated 10-8 by Republicans, requires a majority vote to send the nomination to the Senate floor. A tie would be the same as a no vote.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 04:59:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Awesome: the last honorable Republican.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:03:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Soon to be ex-Republican.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The timeline is interesting. As Steve Clemmons noted
http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001762.php

The President's and new Speaker's comments before the press started at 1:04 pm today and concluded at 1:08 pm.

At 1:22 pm, the White House sent John Bolton's controversial nomination to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations back up to the Senate.

As eztempo commens on Kos
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/11/9/18416/1106

One has to wonder what "spirit of cooperation" an un-bowed Bush means when he meets with Pelosi, talks to the press, then 15 minutes later pushes his most divisive foreign policy nominee back up for confirmation?

I think Occam's hatchet summs it up in his diary "NO"
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/11/9/123233/253

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

'Energy independence' on Bush agenda

The Bush administration will soon launch a big "energy independence" initiative, likely to include re-newed emphasis on biofuels, as part of an attempt to regain the political initiative following the mid-term elections.

(...)

Political analysts say a bold energy initiative could help Mr Bush regain some political momentum, while buttressing Republican support in the farming states of the west and the Midwest, where Democrats made inroads.

Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, said in an interview with the Financial Times that the White House would be able to work with the new Congress on energy, as well as a number of other big domestic issues, including education, immigration and reform of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

"I actually think from talking to Democrats they have the same concerns we do," Mr Hubbard said. "They are concerned about energy, and recognise that we need to accelerate our efforts to cure our addiction to foreign oil."

He said Mr Bush wanted to ensure there were the right "incentives to invest" in alternative fuels.

(...)

Asked whether the White House accepted that the Democrats had a mandate to implement their agenda, including a rise in the minimum wage and new budget rules, Mr Hubbard said "obviously, the Democrats won". But while the president would support efforts to contain spending, he would continue to "resist anything that raises taxes".

The only item in that "plan" is to push ethanol and biofuels - more subsidies to production.

But it allows Bush to grab the mantle of 'energy inependence'.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:54:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you will frontpage this... Goes to show how long the road still is with all the heads turned towards a different direction.
by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:55:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:56:03 PM EST
Parisians Fall Short Of Breaking World Kissing Record

Paris, France (AHN) - Thousands of Parisians gathered for a smooch on Thursday to try to break the world kissing record, but they weren't able to do so. On a day devoted to worldwide record breaking, just 1,188 kissers showed up in Paris in an attempt to break the Budapest's 2005 world record for 11,570 people kissing in one spot at one moment, according to the Guinness World Records officials.

The event took place at La Defense, a modernist business park on the west edge of Paris.

Other weird and wacky events were staged in countries spanning from America to Asia including, South Africa's largest ever aqua aerobic class, the largest tea party in Japan and American Jackie Bibby trying to hold nine live rattlesnakes in his mouth at the same time.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Klimt crowns record art auction

A sale of Impressionist and 20th century art in New York has made more than $491m (£255m), breaking the record for an art auction.

A 1912 portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt fetched almost $88m (£45m).

The painting was one of five Klimt works looted by the Nazis and returned to their owners earlier this year.

A Picasso, due to be sold by Andrew Lloyd Webber, was withdrawn at the last minute after disputes over ownership.

Christopher Burge, chief auctioneer at Christie's, underlined the scale of the sale's success.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "It was the most extraordinary auction I've been involved in."




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:04:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotsman: Russia fails to see the funny side of Borat as ban looms

SACHA Baron Cohen's controversial new comedy film may be banned in Russia after a government agency said it would refuse to grant permission for screening.

The Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography said Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan could offend some viewers and contained material that "might seem disparaging in relation to certain ethnic groups and religions", according to Vadim Ivanov, theatrical sales director at the distributor, 20th Century Fox.

Mr Ivanov said he hoped the agency would relent and that the film, a big hit in Britain and the United States, will premiere in Russia as scheduled on 30 November.

The agency informed the distributor in a letter that it would not grant the permission required to show the film, but later said the decision was not official, Mr Ivanov noted. "This story is not over," he added.

Mr Ivanov said he was unaware of Russian authorities having ever banned a non-pornographic film.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:05:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fail to see the funny side of Borat, but a ban?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:34:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a ban for theater runs, DVDs should be available.

Unfortunately, Russia decided to copy European laws limiting freedom of speech in cases of real or perceived extremism and racial hatred. Personally, I think that US gets the issue right with rather a high standard in such cases. Russia is choosing very restrictive European interpretation and there is little experience with interpretation which leads to cases when say an editor was fined for publication of Danish cartoons (later overturned in higher court).

Specifically, my understanding is reasoning here is that Khazakhstan is a neighbor and Khazakhs are living in Russia and film can be seen as disparaging to Khazakhs, so it is seen appropriate to have DVD-only distribution.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...what would happen if Borat was from Georgia?
by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I would guess it would be the same. Why should it be different?

BTW, it's not official ban, just licensing agency opined that given current laws unlikely the application for theater run will be approved, and distributor chose not to  apply (possibly going to courts in case of denial) and go for DVD distribution.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because I'm curious about the opinion of someone with more inside info on the internal working within Russia what is left of the story of the ethnic Georgians people within Russia. When the story broke 1 month ago about them being removed from Russia, it was all press flurry. But the Human Rights Council recently criticised the development, and I've heard naught.

Any comments?

by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:54:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Estimates are there are about 1 million Georgians in Russia, and in 1 month 800 were deported, so results are meager. At the same time, clearly something is wrong when when on top level they talk about crackdown on certain types of crimes, on low level police starts checking all people having Georgian last names. Last I heard police had been asked to stop this practice.

Actually, immigration and ethnic organized crime is the problem (that's how campaign was framed), but I don't see how it can be solved by short-term campaigns.

On immigration, Russia is #2 destination in the world behind the US. Current estimates is that there are about 10 million illegal immigrants in Russia and immigration system is out of whack. For one thing, there are no educational or property requirements for citizenship, for another, decision process is delegated to the police station level and extremely prone to corruption. So realistically, for the organized crime group it's easy to legalize it's member, but for a refugee from, say, Central Asia the process can take years and there were reports when people become illegal again on passport renewals.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:44:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
CNN: Mariners report new island in South Pacific

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A new volcanic island has risen from the South Pacific near Tonga, according to reports from two vessels that passed the area.

The crew of the Maiken, a yacht that left the northern Tongan islands group of Vava'u in August, reported on their Web log on August 12 that they saw streaks of light, porous pumice stone floating in the water -- then "sailed into a vast, many-miles-wide belt of densely packed pumice."

They posted photos of huge "pumice rafts" that they encountered after passing Tonga's Late island while sailing toward Fiji.

"We were so fascinated and busy taking pictures that we plowed a couple of hundred meters into this surreal floating stone field before we realized that we had to turn back," wrote a crewman identified only as Haken.

The next day they spotted an active volcanic island, Haken wrote.

He said they could see the volcanic island clearly. "One mile in diameter and with four peaks and a central crater smoking with steam and once in a while an outburst high in the sky with lava and ashes. I think we're the first ones out here," he reported.

There was no official confirmation of a new island, either from Tonga's Ministry of Lands or the Tonga Defense Service.

Separately, fishing boat captain Siaosi Fenukitau reported seeing the volcanic island, the Matangitonga news Web site reported.




Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:05:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm claiming this piece of property for a new country...now accepting applications for new citizens...
by gradinski chai on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 02:22:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just a pumice raft. First wind and high seas and your island will be n o more.

Nice thought tho'

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This will be taken as evidence against rising sea levels. Just wait.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:36:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good evening poemless, you should be in bed! Bruno-ken, have a good dinner!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 01:09:35 AM EST
And you, DoDo, have a good day!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 01:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! Unfortunately, it looks to be not so good, I seem to have developed a maxillary sinusitis... (which also woke me up early, thus had time to log on)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:44:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Millions 'hit by toilet phobia'

A campaign is being launched to raise awareness of the crippling impact of toilet phobia.

The National Phobics Society estimates at least four million Britons are affected - but the true number could be many more.

In some cases people refuse to leave their homes, and risk their health.

The society has classified the disorder as an anxiety condition in its own right, and is launching a self help book and DVD.

Toilet phobia can simply be manifest as a mild distaste for public loos.

But some people develop such an intense obsession that they are left housebound, and may refuse to undergo potentially life-saving medical examinations.



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 Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:44:26 AM EST


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