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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 14 February

by Fran Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:20:00 PM EST

On this date in history:

1946 - The Bank of England is nationalized

More here and here


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EUROPE
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:21:10 PM EST
Scotsman: Sarkozy says his French manifesto costs 30 billion euros

PARIS (Reuters) - Rightist presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has estimated that his electoral programme will cost 30 billion euros (20 billion pounds) over five years, but said it would be partly offset by stimulating economic growth.

Sarkozy, who is France's interior minister, told Les Echos newspaper that a series of promised tax cuts would cost 15 billion euros, while 9 billion euros would go on encouraging research and innovation.

He also said he intended to ask EU allies to introduce a new tax on speculative hedge funds which made acquisitions purely to turn a quick profit rather than create genuine value.

"I want to make France a country that rewards wealth creation but knows how to hit predators," he said, according to the text of the interview which was released ahead of publication on Wednesday.

He insisted that his economic manifesto would not weigh on France's debt mountain, and said his plan to stimulate the labour market would create wealth.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Royal stirs reaction with 100-point vision

Ségolène Royal received as many brickbats as backslaps on Monday. Business groups, economists and political opponents complained about the likely cost of the French socialist candidate's 100-point manifesto, while commentators cheered the renewed momentum it gave her presidential bid.

Eric Besson, Socialist economic spokesman, said her plans to increase the minimum wage, boost pensions, raise spending on education, health and justice, while upping state hand-outs for research, first-time house buyers and the young would cost up to €35bn.

Mr Besson said the manifesto, including expected savings and extra income, would keep the overall tax burden stable and cut France's debts.

Libération, the leftwing newspaper, said: "Ségolène Royal has found her voice," echoing the view of most commentators that her two-hour speech on Sunday had relaunched her campaign.

But analysts said she looked set to continue the Keynesian tax-and-spend habits of the French left.

Philippe d'Arvisenet, head of economic research at BNP Paribas, said: "It is classic electioneering. Just like with François Mitterrand's common programme in 1981, there is a section of promises for each social category. But nobody has the faintest idea what it will all cost."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"But analysts said she looked set to continue the Keynesian tax-and-spend habits of the French left."

Yes, while Sarkozy will no doubt restore fiscal order to France at a €5bn discount to Royal's program by emulating his hero.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:33:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Keynesian tax-and-spend habits?  Since when were we Keynesians ever on about taxing?  I see why serious economists don't bother engaging the press: The stupidity is so widespread at this point that it has become almost a lost cause.  None of these idiots even know the differences between tax-and-spend policy and Keynesianism.

I really should've gone to grad school in journalism.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:46:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but grad school in journalism does seem to have an upper limit on intelligence that would bar you.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:46:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As always, you're too kind and great, Helen, even if you are backing Edwards. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 10:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, apart from the fact that as I don't have a vote my backing anybody is irrelevant, I would admit that Edwards lukewarm response to Donahoe's attack on amanda Marcotte disappointed me.

I was prepared to accept it might not have been a fight he wanted at this time, but as soon as it was obvious Donahoe wanted blood, Edwards shoulda shivved him.

He didn't, Marcotte resigned and the Right Wing Noise machine had its scalp. So I am persuaded to take the advice of demvet78 on Kos who said this;-

But, that being the case, I think that it honestly doesn't matter how much baggage a candidate has or doesn't have. The lesson of the last two elections has been, in part, that even if we nominate candidates that we think are saints- that are baggageless, devoted fathers and husbands and war vets and so on- the rethugs will just make shit up about them. They turned Gore into a serial liar and Kerry into a war criminal who shot an unarmed Vietnamese kid in the back. Whoever we nominate, they will either find something or make something up.

The key, then, isn't to nominate someone who's perfect because s/he's perfect, but to nominate someone who a) you agree with on the issues, and b) who will fight back.

Edwards failed that test. I await a candidate to show they will fight back, I ain't seen one yet tho' I have hopes for Richardson

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 16th, 2007 at 07:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of what left?

The last leftwing government in France (Jospin, 97-02) brought spending down from 54% to 52% of GDP.

The current UK government has brought spending up from 42% to 46% (and even from 38% to 46% over the last 6 years).

Liars.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 04:07:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Sarkozy aims to push for European tax on hedge funds

Nicolas Sarkozy will push for a European tax on "speculative movements" by financial groups, such as hedge funds, if he wins this year's French presidential elections.

The centre-right candidate to replace Jacques Chirac said in comments published by today's Les Echos, the Financial Times's sister newspaper, that he aimed to "raise moral standards and improve security in financial capitalism".

Mr Sarkozy spent much of the interview outlining plans to cut taxes, reduce state spending and make France work longer. He also bashed the tax-and-spend proposals from Ségolène Royal, his socialist rival, as "a return to the Jospin years", referring to the last socialist prime minister.

But his plan to tax financial flows is likely to dismay US and UK financial groups, as well as parts of the French business community, which largely prefers him to Ms Royal.

"We did not create the euro to have capitalism without ethics or morals. I am extremely worried about speculative movements," he said. "Who can tolerate a hedge fund buying a company with debts, firing 25 per cent of staff and then reimbursing them by selling it in pieces? Not me.

"I want to make France the country that rewards wealth creation, but which also knows how to hit predators." His comments echo the traditional Gaullist suspicion of capitalism and financial investors, for which Mr Chirac has become well known.

(...)

Mr Sarkozy is one of the few French politicians to call himself an economic liberal, making him popular with US and UK officials. Yet his record as finance minister was notably dirigiste.


Slamming Ms Royal's 100-point manifesto, unveiled on Sunday, he said: "The values Ms Royal puts forward are mollycoddling, egalitarianism and a levelling out [of society] . . . Where is the evolution of French socialism in the image of other European socialisms?"

Socialism is neoliberalism or it's last century. Thank you Blair for lying about what you do and making that criminal lie an accepted truth nowadays.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 04:12:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
while upping state hand-outs for research, first-time house buyers and the young would cost up to €35bn.

hand-outs? hand-outs? why not: "while increasing state investment in research, ..."
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:17:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's only investment in research if you hide it in the military budget. I don't know why I still have to explain this stuff. It's easy.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I saw that article yesterday. Apart from the brief mention of Libé's headline (tagged with a "leftwing" stamp), they only quote bank analysts and company representatives. Full objectivity, right? Bank analysts do not need to be tagged as "rightwing" or "neoliberal", right?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:40:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Debat 2007, a company friendly (but pretty reasonable so far in their programme cost evaluation task) think tank, evaluates (at the link) Sarkozy's proposals at EUR 67 billion and counting

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:38:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Merkel, Blair Push for Action to Prevent Climate Change

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after a meeting with British Prime Minster Tony Blair that she hopes to set concrete goals on climate protection at the G8 summit of the world's richest nations in June.

A preparatory meeting ahead of the summit in the German Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm would be held in May, the chancellor said after talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Berlin.

Merkel said the meeting would discuss technical issues related to carbon pricing and climate stabilization that could be turned into concrete political decisions at the June 6-8 summit.

Germany currently holds the presidency of the G8, which also includes Britain, the United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, France and Russia.

Merkel said she would lobby for an agreement that would aim to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius  in the coming decades.

"This is an important goal laid down by scientists and we should try to abide by it," the chancellor said, adding that the G8 states would also discuss issues such as technology transfer with the emerging economic powers of China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't this somewhat contradicted by her championing german gas-guzzling car makers ?

And Tony isn't exactly a poster child for green attitudes.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What exactly prevents politicians from advocating policies and adopting positions that are mutially contradictory?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:59:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, of course. Silly me. Consistency is only for serfs, not masters

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:06:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: EU bows to U.S. pressure on punishing Iran

WASHINGTON: European negotiators, yielding to pressure from the United States, have agreed to widen a ban on financial transactions with Iran and on the export of materials and technology that Iran could use to develop nuclear weapons.

European officials said a resolution embodying the wider ban had been negotiated over the past week and should go far toward satisfying the Bush administration.

Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said Tuesday that the EU was growing increasingly frustrated by Iranian intransigence. She acknowledged that the EU's approach had so far failed to yield results. "We have not been successful so far as getting the Iranians to stop enrichment," she said. "But we will continue to pursue a two-track approach of working toward a negotiated solution while pursuing the UN track of sanctions."

Gallach said the EU was preparing to extend the scope of its sanctions beyond the December UN resolution, for example, by expanding the list of names of Iranian individuals and institutions who will face EU restrictions like the freezing of financial assets. But she said the EU was still unprepared to go as far as the sanctions being pushed by United States.

"Our aim is double suspension: We suspend the UN resolutions and Iran suspends its nuclear enrichment," she said, adding that no breakthrough was imminent.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:33:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: EU to vote on CIA flights report

A report which criticises 14 European governments for complicity in CIA operations is expected to face a close vote in the European Parliament.

The report says countries including the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain, turned a blind eye to CIA flights used to transport terror suspects.

Last year, the European Parliament set up a temporary committee of MEPs to investigate the allegations.

The claims were first published in the Washington Post in November 2005.

Delegations of MEPs travelled to countries including Romania, Poland, the UK, the United States and Germany to investigate claims of European involvement in so-called extraordinary renditions.

The report defines extraordinary renditions as instances where "an individual suspected of involvement in terrorism is illegally abducted, arrested and/or transferred into the custody of US officials and/or transported to another country for interrogation which, in the majority of cases involves incommunicado detention and torture".

The report says the CIA operated "at least" 1,245 flights in European airspace or stopped over at European airports. Some, but not all it says, were used for extraordinary renditions.

The committee heard evidence from government ministers, including the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, officials such as the EU foreign policy envoy, Javier Solana, and the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator Gijs de Vries.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:37:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Criticises"! Oh my! Imagine what they'd say if they had the chance to give BushCo a piece of their mind: "The EU may at times disapprove of some forms of kidnapping and torture, so let's try, if it's not too much trouble, to keep human rights abuses as secret as possilble."
by Matt in NYC on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:00:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm laughing to stop the crying.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:04:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is rather unfair to the EP committee, which has donw a great job given its limitations (no subpoena power: that's for the national parliaments).

I will try to find the roll-call list of votes and post it later.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:10:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Limited power, plus strong pressure by the implicated governments on their various national MEPs not to cause them problems...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:43:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"implicated governments"

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 04:11:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So this is the best we can expect from the world's richest, most developed, most (allegedly) "democratic" continent?
by Matt in NYC on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the best the EP can do, given the power available to them.

Hands up everyone here who'd like to elect leaders that didn't pander to the US?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:49:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Question: can a European politician who made "not pandering to the US" a prominent (and meaningfully developed) plank in their platform be elected?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:07:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Evil Schröder?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He didn't stick to his promise, did he, other than opposing the Iraq invasion at the UN. His government collaborated in renditions.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:18:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently not. Zapatero and Prodi are about as brave as the current generation of European leaders are ever likely to get.
by Matt in NYC on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 08:10:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you read the report?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:58:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right: For a powerless, toothless committee report, it's not bad. What's outrageous is that even this too polite, too cautious report is being watered down by the European Parliament, which seems determined to do NOTHING about U.S. human rights abuses.

I particularly enjoyed this section:

9. se félicite de l'annonce par la nouvelle majorité issue des élections au Sénat des États-Unis qu'elle se saisira de la question du programme de restitutions extraordinaires développé par la CIA; souligne que cela confirme d'autant plus la pertinence de ses propres travaux;

In other words: Don't hate us; even some Americans are critical of the U.S!

It's all too little, too late -- and six months from now what difference is it going to make for everyone who is being rendited, tortured and driven insane as the Parliament works hard to be conciliatory with and respectful of all its members, no matter how criminal they may be.

by Matt in NYC on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:29:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The amendments document should make interesting reading.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:41:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian  story, and they don't seem to be as bad as I expected. It's actually kind of amusing that Britain, ever out of touch with the current century, thought that it was worth fighting to get rid of that nasty comment. They don't seem to realize that their reputation is already so besmirched that nothing short of dragging Blair to the Tower and beheading him on live TV is going to redeem them.

It's too bad that the European Parliament doesn't have any teeth, but maybe Congress, which used to have teeth, will use this report as a kind of "exhibit" in their upcoming investigations. So I take back about 25% of my cynicism. All things considered, this is probably the best news out of Europe we can hope for.

by Matt in NYC on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 10:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We've discussed this before:


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:29:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Parliament: CIA renditions: MEPs vote final report today (14-02-2007)
After a year of hearings and the testimony of 172 persons including 3 victims, Parliament's Temporary Committee on alleged CIA activities in Europe has submitted a report to be voted on today. The charges are as follows: was the CIA engaged in "extraordinary rendition" (moving alleged terror suspects clandestinely around the world), detention or torture in Europe? If so, was international law breached and were EU states and citizens involved either as victims or collaborators?

There are 270 amendments to be voted upon today. When voted on in the Committee the report had 28 in favour, 17 against with 3 abstentions. This makes the outcome of today's vote in the full Plenary not entirely predictable.

Links to  a summary of the report, list of amendments, and others, are at the bottom of the page.

The Committee's page includes links to the resolution adopted last year, the draft final reports, and the amendments.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:03:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
metavision reports

Watched a news clip of current, right-wing-PP president, Mariano Rajoy sitting at a panel in some  forum, (logo-filled wall behind them) SPONSORED BY Telefonica, BANIF and another large commercial name!!!!!

Rajoy was Minister of Interior before he became VP in Aznar´s PP government (1996-2004).  As Migeru posted yesterday, that government sent Spanish police to Guantanamo to interrogate prisoners, without getting a single court order.

Reporter:  "...Did you know that ex-president Aznar (PP) sent 20+ Spanish police to Guantanamo to interrogate prisoners in July 2002?"

LYING, M. R.:  "No, no. I don´t know anything of that..."

Reporter:  "...Is your party going to apologise, now that ex-president Aznar (PP) has admitted there were no WMDs in Iraq?

M.R., EVASIVE, WOMEN-HATING, USED THE SLANG TERM FOR VAGINA TWICE IN HIS REPLY!!!!!:

"Look,... ah,... we are into other things, ah... government...  We are not... in... in Felipe V, nor in the hordes (sueves), or things that happened in other times, __.  This is a serious ...ah, country, __, OK?"

metavision (before going out to ingest mood-altering substances to alleviate the RAGE AND SHAME) was quoted as saying:

"THIS SOCIOPATHIC MUTANT´S MEDICATION IS NO LONGER ENOUGH!!!  I want this sewer-being tied to a pole in a main square to be spat upon by the public for one week straight!!!  Then to be sent to Gitmo in exchange for all the illegally detained there!"

"Me cago en su cerebro de polla, en su puto padre, en cada una de sus celulas, en sus allegados, su partido, su vendida iglesia,... y todo lo demas!"


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 09:35:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Italian Red Brigades members accused of plotting attack on Berlusconi home

Police claimed to have averted a major terrorist incident after the arrest of 15 men and women in northern Italy, who they said were members of the Red Brigades.

None of those arrested - all aged between their twenties and forties - replied to questions yesterday. The alleged leader of the plot, Alfredo Davanzo, 50, who was jailed for 10 years in the 1980s for Red Brigades actions, declared himself a political prisoner - standard Brigades procedure.

Police said the group was in the advanced stage of planning attacks on a variety of targets: the home of Silvio Berlusconi, the office of his television company Mediaset and of Sky Italia, the office of a maverick right-wing daily paper, Libero, closely linked to the secret services, and the head office of ENI, Italy's main producer and distributor of petrol.

Also targeted, police said, was Pietro Ichino, professor of labour law at a university in Milan. He has been accused by the ultra-leftists of helping the government liberalise employment laws, making it simpler to sack employees and to hire other workers on a more casual basis. Professor Ichino is the latest in a long line of experts in the field to be targeted. In an article in Corriere della Sera yesterday, he named seven predecessors in the same line of work who had been killed or gravely wounded by terrorists. The most recent was Marco Biagi, a government labour law adviser murdered in 2002.

Police claimed the new Red Brigades cell was uncovered by chance after a woman in Milan reported a bicycle in her cellar equipped with a hidden microcamera and miniature radio transmitter. Long and patient bugging work led officers to addresses in Milan, Turin and Padua, where the arrests were made on Monday.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:44:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but left-wing Italian terrorism has a long and dishonourable traditon of actually being a false flag operation for right wing secret service operatives.

They may now recruit a few angry left-credentialed idiots to provide a bit of cover (we've moved on from the Accidental Death of an Anarchist), but I'd still say this was a right wing smear job.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:53:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Berlin proposes Africa micro-credit fund

Germany is to press other Group of Eight industrial nations to create a micro-credit fund for African entrepreneurs as part of efforts to promote investment in the continent, according to Germany's development minister.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said the fund, which could be managed by the World Bank, would be a "positive signal" to the poorest people in African countries, who "often miss out on the effects of investment".

G8 leaders meeting in June in Heiligendamm, northern Germany, would be expected to pledge new finance to create the fund, the minister told the Financial Times.

Many western donors run programmes, often for women, in support of small-scale credits for shop keepers, crafts people and others in Africa but a G8 scheme would put extra political weight behind the approach, championed by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel peace prize winner who pioneered micro-finance in Bangladesh.

A G8 diplomat said the micro-credit proposal had been "positively received" by the group's Africa specialists. The fund would be in addition to pledges made in 2005 at the UK's G8 summit in Gleneagles to double aid to Africa by 2010, the minister added.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India Times: Europe's economy grows at fastest rate in 6 years

DUBLIN: Europe's economic growth accelerated more than expected in Q4 and an increase in German investor confidence suggested the momentum will be maintained in 2007.

The gross domestic product of the euro area grew 0.9% in Q4 from Q3, when it expanded 0.5%, the European Union's statistics office said on Tuesday. An index of investor expectations in Germany rose for a third month to 2.9 in February from minus 3.6 in January, the ZEW Centre said in a separate report.

Europe's economy grew the fastest in six years in 2006, with Germany one of the drivers of the expansion after 11 years of below-average expansion. With companies adding workers and the US economy showing signs of rebounding, that may limit a slowdown following a German sales-tax rise and further increases in interest rates by the European Central Bank.

The economy "rounded off the strongest year since 2000 with a remarkable performance", said Silvia Pepino, an economist at JPMorgan Chase in London. "Evidence of firm underlying momentum reinforces our confidence that the euro area entered 2007 on a firm footing and that the expansion will continue."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:58:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyclical
Unsustainable (without reform)

And focus commentary on those countries that have below average growth. There are some every single year!

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:46:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotman: EU legislators disobey own smoking ban

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - European legislators have voted to set up sealed smokers' rooms in their Strasbourg and Brussels buildings after a voluntary ban on lighting up failed, officials said on Tuesday.

"A complete ban started on January 1. In practice this was not working too well, people were not obeying it," said a press officer for the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

The vote comes two weeks after the EU's Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said he would seek a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places across the bloc's 27 member countries.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:01:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Way to go, losers. Stupid wankers.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:48:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Borders...borders...European borders ...are they important? Or not?
http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=236092007

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Croatia's equivalent of Turkish Armenia. The deniable genocide.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:55:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure if you understand well. It's 15,000 Italians in 1943 and 1945 killed by Croats. This was swiped under the carpet after WWII having in mind that Italia lost that war but Croatians who by the way choused to be on same side with Hitler and had murdered even lot more Serbs, Jews and Gypsies in Jasenovac and elsewhere managed to take not any responsibilities because it conveniently stayed under the name of Yugoslavia after WWII. Yugoslavia was one to get some practically Italian territories in Dalmacija - not Croatia. Now when there is no Yugoslavia any more Italians want to talk about getting it back...one way or another. This is not the only Croatian border that is in dispute nowadays. Slovenians would like to get some of their land back...and are exchanging nervousness.
Practically all borders on the Balkan are disputable. EU and USA opened Pandora's Box by dismantling Yugoslavia. Trouble is yet to come...with new instability...
So Armenia it may be but Croats are in a role of Turks...
There is a lot more "history" that should be put under scrutiny. WWII and recent events.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 09:40:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DutchNews: New Dutch Cabinet Ready


Weeks of speculation over who will be in the new cabinet ended on Tuesday evening with the surprise announcement of all 16 ministers and 11 junior ministers in the new centre-left Christian Democrat (CDA), PvdA (Labour) and ChristenUnie (CU) coalition.

The biggest surprises were, according to ANP, the appointment of genetics expert Ronald Plasterk (PvdA) as education minister and CDA ideologist Ab Klink as health minister.

Ministers:
Deputy prime minister and finance: Wouter Bos (PvdA),43, left Shell to become an MP in 1998, junior finance minister in last Kok cabinet. Party leader since 2002. Studied at Vrije University Amsterdam, like Balkenende and Rouvoet

Deputy prime minister and youth & family: André Rouvoet (CU), 45, much praised as a debater. MP since 1994 and party leader since 2002.

Foreign affairs: Maxime Verhagen (CDA), 50, Balkenende's main support through several cabinet crises. MP since 1994, specialising in foreign affairs

Development aid: Bert Koenders (PvdA), 48, MP since 1997 focusing on foreign affairs. Charged with explaining party's complicated position on Iraq in 2003.

Justice: Ernst Hirsch Ballin (CDA), 56. Roman Catholic. Resigned as justice minister in 1994 over IRT drugs-smuggling affair. Returned to cabinet after Donner resigned last year

Home affairs: Guusje ter Horst (PvdA), 54, former Amsterdam council executive and mayor of Nijmegen until January this year. Caught drunk-driving in 2006.

Education, culture & science: Ronald Plasterk (PvdA), 50, molecular geneticist, staunch athiest (sic!) and opponent of intelligent design.

Defence: Eimert van Middelkoop (CU), 58, MP between 1989 and 2002 and in the Senate since 2003. Opposed to Turkish membership of EU

Environment: Jacqueline Cramer (PvdA), 55, Shell supervisory board member. Academic and independent advisor. Keen on using technology to solve problems.

Integration & urban renewal: Ella Vogelaar (PvdA), 57, deputy chairman of FNV trade union federation until 2000. Chair of Unilever's supervisory board since 2003. Chair of government integration task force from 2000 to 2002.

Transport & water management:Camiel Eurlings (CDA), 33, currently MEP and in charge of European Parliament's committee on Turkey's efforts to join the EU.

Economic affairs: Maria van der Hoeven (CDA), 57, education minister in the last two cabinets. Gave schools more independence.

Agriculture, nature & food safety: Gerda Verburg (CDA), 49, Former senior Christian trade union official and MP with focus on social affairs. Farmer's daughter.

Social affairs & employment: Piet Hein Donner (CDA), 58, Justice minister in first two Balkenende cabinets, survived several no-confidence votes but resigned over damning Schiphol fire report.

Health, welfare & sport: Ab Klink (CDA), 48, director of CDA think-tank. Senator since 2003.

by Nomad on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot the link. I like DutchNews. Well cut out for the European Tribune to transport the most salient bits. Also, you can send them op-eds - which could be interesting for ET.

First reaction to the news: Ugh. More groans than cheers. Van der Hoeven (CDA) back (she who proposed to consider intelligent design as worthy considerable alternative). Maxime Verhagen minister (bound to happen but still Aaaaaaaaagh). Plasterk may be a lefty yet is anti-EU and has previously made a complete ass out of himself in his column in a daily newspaper by confusing the European Court of Justice in Strassbourg with the EU. Camiel Eurlings, plucked away from Brussels, can be a complete twit. And what the hell is ChristenUnie doing on Defense??? I don't understand that at all.

by Nomad on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:23:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CBS:(Dutch) Economic growth 2.9 percent in 2006


According to Statistics Netherlands' first estimate, the Dutch economy grew by 2.9 percent in 2006. This is nearly twice the growth in 2005. Just as in 2005 exports contributed most to the increase. It was consumption by households and fixed capital formation, however, which boosted the growth rate.

The number of jobs was 100 thousand higher than in 2005. This 1.4 percent increase follows three years of decreasing employment.
Fourth quarter growth 2.7 percent

The economy grew by 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. The last quarter of 2006 had one working day fewer than the last quarter of 2005. Exports and fixed capital formation picked up particularly in the fourth quarter, household consumption rose slightly more slowly than in preceding quarters.

On the basis of new information economic growth in the first three quarters of 2006 has been adjusted upwards by 0.1 percent on average.

<snip>

Exports growing faster

The volume of exports of goods and services was 7.5 percent higher in 2006 than in 2005. The increase in re-exports was again higher than that of exports of Dutch products, although it was the exports of Dutch products that boosted the increase in exports.

Imports grew slightly more strongly than exports. The increase in imports is not only caused by re-exports but to an important extent also by the increase in investment and consumption of consumer durables.  
Substantial rise in household consumption

After correction for price changes and changes in the health insurance system, households spent 2.4 percent more last year than in 2005. The increase is considerably larger than in the years 2001 to 2005. It was pushed up mainly by spending on durable goods which rose by more than 6 percent in 2006.

The volume of government consumption was 1.3 percent higher last year than in 2005. Real expenditure on care rose, that on public administration did not.

by Nomad on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing beats the overheated spanish economy at 3.8 % ( with black market put it at 4+%)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:10:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

EU attacks `illegal' Swiss tax rules

Swiss tax breaks that have enticed multinationals to move their headquarters out of neighbouring European Union countries are illegal state aid and must be scrapped, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

The move is a reflection of the frustration felt in a number of European capitals about the growing number of companies that have shifted their headquarters or distribution centres to Switzerland.

Kraft Foods, for example, announced last month that it would move its European headquarters to Zurich from Vienna and London this year.

Brussels believes the favourable tax rules that lure companies to Switzerland would be prohibited under EU law, especially a measure that allows Swiss cantons to exempt profits generated abroad from regional and local company taxes.

Switzerland is not a member of the union, but it applies the bulk of EU internal market rules. In return, the EU gives Swiss companies privileged access to its vast market of 500m consumers.

So headquarters moving to London or Dublin are markets in action, but the movement from London is caused by "illegal State aid".  Hahahahaha.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:59:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, "it's okay if it's done to the anglo-american economic model" may be more unwieldy than IOKIYAR, but that's about the size of it.

Although to be honest, seeing as the AAM tends to encourage the off-shoring of capital to dubious quasi-banking regimes run from home, I'm not quite sure why they're complaining. A brass plaque in Zurich wouldn't make a difference if it weren't for their totally skewed tax regimes intended to help corporate profitability.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:43:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 'nice headline' dept.


Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said yesterday that the standard of living in Russia would overtake that of France soon.

Russia will catch up with France on per capita GDP basis by 2031-32 and with Germany in 2037-38, Kudrin says. He promised that within 13 years, Russia's per capita GDP will be what Germany's was in 2003.

Analysts are a bit more sceptical saying it will take longer. Russia would have to maintain the current high levels of economic growth of over 6% a year to achieve this goal. This assumes all the reforms on the table now are successfully implemented. Russia's economy grew by 6.6% in 2006 against France and Germany's growth of 2.3% and 2.2% respecitively.

The size of Russia's economy is already on a part with those of German and France, but as it has over double the population, the average incomes (let alone the standard of living) is about half.

One commentator joked, some what cynically, that the goals would be achieved faster thanks to the falling population - cutting the population by half in the next 13 years would give the same result as doubling the standard of living.

(via an email from http://www.businessneweurope.eu )

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 08:49:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of those 30-year projections assuming that China will sustain its 10% GDP growth throughout.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 08:59:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Minority report


There are 785 MEPs in the European parliament. Of which only nine are non-white. Why is no one up in arms about it? Patrick Barkham reports from Brussels

It is not Livia Jaroka's youth or talent that mark her out in the beige corridors of the European parliament, but her skin. Jaroka, a centre-right MEP for Hungary, was nominated for a parliamentary award for her conscientious work last year. The response? A Bulgarian objected, arguing that she did not deserve it. "In my country, there are tens of thousands of Gypsy girls way more beautiful," Dimitar Stoyanov wrote in an email to MEPs. "In fact, if you're in the right place at the right time you even can buy one (around 12-13 years old) to be your loving wife. The best of them are very expensive - up to €5,000 a piece, wow!"

Article continues

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jaroka is Roma, one of two representatives in the European parliament who are from what is now the largest homogeneous ethnic minority in the European Union. The "Gypsy girl" email met with widespread condemnation within the parliament building, but Stoyanov, then an observer in the parliament, since Bulgaria had not yet joined the EU, duly took his seat as a fully fledged MEP last month, part of the new far-right coalition that includes fascists and Holocaust deniers in Europe's premier democratic institution.
A walk through the European parliament in Brussels challenges some of the prejudices peddled by the British press. We are told the European project is stalled, sclerotic and bureaucratic, but there is a buzz here. The chamber - all blond wood and black office chairs - is packed; the lifts echo with earnest chat in all 23 "official" languages. New countries, political groups and, increasingly, laws that affect us all are being formed here. Once dismissed as a talking shop, parliament has a hand in most European legislation. Its power is not doubted by the young European elites who compete for jobs or the legion of lobbyists, who would not waste their time working its cafes and committee rooms if parliament did not matter.

Variosu interesting tidbits, even if the article itself is a bit confused.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 09:29:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:21:42 PM EST
NYT: Army Giving More Waivers in Recruiting

The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

During that time, the Army has employed a variety of tactics to expand its diminishing pool of recruits. It has offered larger enlistment cash bonuses, allowed more high school dropouts and applicants with low scores on its aptitude test to join, and loosened weight and age restrictions.

It has also increased the number of so-called "moral waivers" to recruits with criminal pasts, even as the total number of recruits dropped slightly. The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army's moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

The number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:31:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's find a bunch of sociopaths and psychopaths and give them guns.  Gosh.  What a swell idea.  Then let's send them to a war zone where they are supposed to be a police force.  

Wow.  It takes real brains to think of that one.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 01:44:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is all about redemption and forgiveness. Us lefties should love that - giving the downtrodden another chance. ;-)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:49:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we will soon rename US Army: The Dirty Dozen

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:02:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel Online: AN IRON SILK ROAD - The New Transcaucasian Railway

Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan have signed an agreement to build a rail corridor that they hope will eventually link Europe with Asia. However, one country in the region -- Armenia -- is being left out.

A railway through Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan will form part of a new "Iron Silk Road" -- following the route of the ancient trading link between east and west.

Turkey, Georgia and Armenia have sealed an agreement to build a railway which would improve cargo transportation among the countries and eventually revive the historic Silk Road trade route -- linking Europe and Asia.

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to the Georgian capital Tbilisi last Wednesday, Feb. 7, to sign the three-way agreement with his counterparts, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. The three agreed that construction on the railroad would start this year and should be finished by 2009. It will consist of a new 100-kilometer railway line connecting the eastern Turkish city of Kars with Georgia, while another 300 kilometers of existing track will be renovated.

The governments hope this railway will connect eventually to the proposed Trans-Asian Rail Network, which is being supported by the United Nations. Transport ministers from Turkey, China, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan met last year to discuss the project, which could one day see passengers taking a train from London to China.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:46:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the project, which could one day see passengers taking a train from London to China.

Can't you already do that on the trans-siberian ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: North Korea to shut down nuclear reactor in arms for energy deal

· After three years, US makes major concessions
· Agreement is example to Iran, says Rice

North Korea yesterday promised to shut down its nuclear reactor and re-admit international inspectors, as first steps towards eventual disarmament, in return for millions of dollars worth of oil.

The arms-for-energy deal clinched in Beijing represents a breakthrough after more than three fruitless years of talks involving six nations. The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday it should serve as an example to Iran, which is currently under UN sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

Article continues
Yesterday's deal, which the White House welcomed as "a very important first step" towards North Korea's nuclear disarmament, was only achieved after significant US concessions.

American negotiators agreed to bilateral talks that Washington had previously rejected and promised to "resolve" restrictions on North Korean-related accounts in Macau within the next month.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:49:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Desperately needed success for American diplomacy not much different from effort of Bill Clinton administration in 1995. After receiving frozen money, debt relief and possibly energy North Koreans may unlock the reactor, citing continuous American hostility. And there we will be again.
by FarEasterner on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Newsweek: China Above the Law

Western economists and legal scholars have long argued that a robust legal system and impartial courts are prerequisites for a mature market economy. <...>

Many developing countries with weak judicial systems have been hobbled by corruption, waste and inefficiency. But China seems to be thriving despite its own rudimentary court system, which remains firmly under Communist Party control. <...>

Large foreign and domestic firms, for example, have learned to resolve or avoid contract disputes by exploiting the country's hypercompetitive business environment. If a supplier fails to deliver on time, they simply threaten to give their business to someone else. And China does have rules, which are largely pro-business, though they are enforced differently than in the West. For example, the government recently imposed a new regulation requiring local officials to grant business licenses faster, leaving bureaucrats less time to demand bribes. "People from legal societies always underestimate the power to affect change through administrative, rather than legal structures," said Arthur Kroeber, managing director of the economic research firm Dragonomics in Beijing.

Of course, there's no guarantee that China's economy can continue to grow at its current pace with such jury-rigged solutions, and many experts expect it to falter unless an independent legal system emerges. <...>

But other pundits argue that China may well keep on defying expectations by continuing to grow without major legal reform. They point out that the government has proven deft at maintaining social order and encouraging other trends that could keep the economy humming.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: China launches anti-graft unit

China is to set up a new anti-graft agency to ferret out corruption amid a string of cases involving high-level officials and wealthy business people.

Gan Yisheng, secretary-general of the Communist party's central commission for discipline inspection, announced the new agency on Tuesday, a day after state media reported the detention of He Minxu, former vice-governor of Anhui province, on charges of receiving at least $1.03m (€793,000, £528,000) in bribes and selling official positions. <...>

Mr Gan said the government was "actively preparing to establish a special national-level agency to guard against corruption", adding "it will draw lessons from some effective international practices for corruption prevention".

His unit and the Ministry of Supervision work together to detain, question and probe officials suspected of graft and some are sentenced harshly. The new agency's exact role is unclear, but Qu Wanxiang, vice-minister of supervision, said it would operate directly under the State Council, the country's cabinet, and may start work this year.

Mr Gan said Mr Chen's case "demonstrates fully the fact that [everyone], no matter how high a position he or she holds", must be held accountable under party rules and Chinese law. Last year, 97,260 party members were disciplined for pocketing bribes, gambling with public money, abusing land rights and for other charges, according to the party commission.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:59:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? There's more to good business conditions than lower costs? Amazing!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:51:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Legal reform is not critical at the moment.  The CPC is protecting businesses well enough to keep its cute little show going.  The more complex legal crap matters down the road.  It matters on issues like intellectual property rights, where serious innovation, as opposed to -- oh, I don't know -- grabbing a copyright on one-click buying, because of the incentive to innovate, but it's not going to make  much difference when the name of the game is taking advantage of underutilized industrial capacity.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:56:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A.P. via Kiplinger: House Panel Approves $1.3B in Tax Breaks

It's not like a business group to oppose the largest possible tax breaks for its members. But when it comes to sweetening a minimum wage bill with small business tax relief, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is backing a House proposal that is a fraction of the size of a tax package passed by the Senate.

The House legislation, approved Monday by the House Ways and Means Committee on a bipartisan voice vote, would extend business tax credits and increase the amount of capital spending that a business can write off. It also would give restaurants a break on how to calculate deductions for Social Security taxes paid on tips.

According to congressional estimates, the House tax cuts would cost the Treasury $1.3 billion in lost revenue over 10 years. The tax cuts in the Senate bill, approved two weeks ago, would cost $8.3 billion over 10 years.

At issue for the chamber is how the new Democratic-run Congress will make up for that lost revenue. The Senate bill would eliminate tax loopholes, place restrictions on deferred compensation for corporate executives and eliminate deductions for payments in lawsuits - provisions opposed by big business. House tax writers paid for their bill, in part, by eliminating a loophole that encouraged the wealthy to shift income to their dependent children to avoid higher capital gains and dividend taxes.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 01:58:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BusinessWeek: A Radical Plan to Manage Globalization

An enormous, relentless, and shameless propaganda machine brainwashes the country into believing that free trade and uncontrolled globalization are theoretically sound, remain the only rational or even unavoidable options, and are good for the U.S. This is wrong. Free trade and globalization are not good even for Big Business; they are good only for its top executives and investors. <...>

What can be done to improve the situation? <...>

Compensated Free Trade

Free trade has to be saved; the U.S. cannot and should not completely back out of it. But the rules of trade must be modified: It is sufficient merely to remove some bad side effects of trade, such as excessive deficits. For that purpose, I propose a policy of "compensated free trade." Here's how that policy would work:

  • Congress sets annual limits (upper bounds) on the overall U.S. trade deficit in consumer goods and undesirable capital goods (oil and gas excluded).

  • The President of the U.S. allocates the allowed deficit for each of our trading counterparts--countries or groups of countries.

  • A country may exceed the limit if its government pays the U.S. Treasury a stipulated percentage (up to the full amount) of the excess deficit, also approved for each country by the President of the U.S. These payments may be capped.

  • To raise the money for excess deficit payments, our trading counterparts may either use export taxes and export certificate auctions or pay from their currency reserves.

The proposed policy promises to become a powerful and versatile economic tool. Among many other accomplishments, it would control globalization, save American jobs, prevent trade wars, stop predatory trading, and impose financial discipline on our Micawberish country.

Chinese Century

Moreover, it also will be a geopolitical tool, a weapon of diplomatic persuasion. <...> above all and best of all, it will be perhaps the least confrontational means of geopolitical containment of potential rivals and adversaries, such as China.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:18:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BusinessWeek: Trade Truths for Turbulent Times

One reason trade economists set aside questions about the unemployment rate is that it is largely determined by monetary policy and by how well the labor market functions. The 2005 unemployment rate of 5.1 percent corresponds to roughly 7.6 million unemployed people. Even if one were to develop a plan to block trade and somehow employ a substantial fraction of these individuals, the resulting plunge in the unemployment rate would cause the Federal Reserve to fret about looming inflation and boost interest rates until the labor market appeared less overheated.

The Trouble with Quotas

We do need a Federal Reserve to oversee monetary affairs, just as the government needs to provide a range of public goods. This is quite different from a centralized decision that steel production should exceed a set number of tons each year, or that the bilateral trade balance with China should be zero. With a centrally-planned allocation of bilateral trade balances, as Masch proposes, inflation would be the least of our worries. Right now, neither the President nor the Congress nor the Federal Reserve sets trade balances, whether bilateral or multilateral ones. These balances are the net outcome of all the buying and selling, borrowing and lending that occur across the vast range of goods, services, and financial markets.

The scheme to fix bilateral balances could only be achieved through a new system of comprehensive trade quotas. Even then, the very technology that poses the new challenges makes the imposition of limits extraordinarily difficult. How do you tax or subsidize the telephone call from New York to London in which an investment banker advises a CFO on financial strategy? Yet compensation for that service enters into each country's trade balance.

Under such a plan, the United States would not only lose in the classical trade sense (this is the equivalent of encouraging our trading partners to apply heavy tariffs against us), but the country would experience macroeconomic agony as our existing economic relationships unraveled. The job losses from skyrocketing interest rates, withdrawn foreign investment, and suspicions about U.S. economic policy would easily save the Fed from any concerns about labor market over-heating. Be careful what you wish for.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Why America will need some elements of a welfare state

Unfortunately, I can only read the preview, but I was startled by the title.

Is globalisation a leading cause of rising inequality in high-income countries? The outcome of the debate on this question may determine whether the US will remain open to trade. If policymakers do not craft an imaginative response, protection against imports may be the outcome, regardless of its (non-existent) merits.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, laid out the issues in a thought-provoking speech last week.* He embedded his analysis in three principles: "That economic opportunity should be as widely distributed and as equal as possible; that economic outcomes need not be equal but should be linked to the contributions each person makes to the economy; and that people should receive some insurance against the most adverse economic outcomes, especially those arising from events largely outside the person's control."

I think I'm OD'ing on chocolate.  Need to go detox.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:01:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Today's piece of improbable propaganda is that Motaqa Al-Sadr, who is important almost precisely because his father was one of the few Shia religious leaders who didn't flee to Iran, has fled to Iran ahead of the US security crackdown.

His people are denying it, strangely enough.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:56:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's remember that the flare-up in Najaf in the Spring of 2004 was caused by US harassing of Sadr.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 04:07:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Juan Cole: On the Mystery of Muqtada al-Sadr's Disappearance (February 14, 2007)
US government sources are saying that nationalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled to neighboring Iran three weeks ago. Sadrist aides denied the report.

...

Sadr aides denied to the LA Times that Muqtada is in Iran, saying he is in hiding in Iraq.

The press record I assembled, below, does not support Muqtada's disappearance to Iran. It is possible but not likely that Muqtada would go to Iran. He and his family have endlessly made fun of the al-Hakim clerical leaders for fleeing to Iran to escape persecution by Saddam Hussein, when the al-Sadrs insisted on staying in Iraq. Muqtada's father was killed in 1999 by Saddam's agents because he stayed and gave defiant sermons. So it would be a lot of crow to eat for Muqtada to go to Iran to escape the Americans. Plus, there is nothing in the Iranian press about him showing up in Qom, and an Iranian diplomat denied the story. Without more and better evidence, this account strikes me as suspect, and I would guess that if Muqtada disappeared, it is inside Iraq.



"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:19:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El Pais: La 'guerra tibia' de Putin (14/02/2007)El Pais: Putin's  'lukewarm war' (14/02/2007)
Los analistas políticos rusos atribuyen los recientes gestos agresivos del presidente al miedo de Moscú a quedar aislado por la globalizaciónRussian political analysts attribute the President's recent aggressive gestures to Moscow's fear of being isolated by Globalisation
Con su discurso en Múnich el pasado sábado, en el que arremetió contra la política exterior de EE UU, Vladímir Putin ha querido llamar la atención sobre temas internacionales y militares que le preocupan, y lo ha hecho de una forma tan agresiva que muchos temen que Rusia vuelva a convertirse en el enemigo de Occidente. No reveló novedades durante la Conferencia sobre Política de Seguridad, pero de golpe puso sobre la mesa con vehemencia todas las recriminaciones que ha ido acumulando desde que llegó al poder en 2000.With his speech at Munich las Saturday, in which he charged against the USA's foreign policy, Vladímir Putin has meant to call attention on international and military issues that worry him, and he has done so in such an aggressive fashion that many are afraid Russia may become again an enemy of the West. He did not reveal any novelties during the Conference on Security Policy, but in one vehement blow he put on the table all the grievances he has been accumulating since he got to power in 2000.
El Pais, naturally for a "Western" paper, hasn't realised that it's "the West" that has been working for a few years at making an ememy out of Russia. We've discussed the coming "new cold war" extensively here, and how the hostility comes from neocons and old cold warriors from "the West".

The piece goes on to quote Grigori Yavlinski, Sergei Rogov, and Sergei Karaganov.

This is where I wish we had the Spanish ET up and running, and some Russian or Russophile users on it.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 04:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:22:41 PM EST
Newsweek: Kyoto Can Be Made to Work

In all three areas [heat, electricity and transport] there are examples from developing countries that show what is possible. China has well over 50 percent of the world's installed solar thermal water heating; India leads the developing world in wind power; in Brazil ethanol car fuel has displaced $120 billion worth of oil. <...>

... when it comes to the trade-off between environment and development, finance may not be the problem it traditionally has been. <...>

If all industrialized countries took on emissions-reduction commitments of 60 to 80 percent, according to the U.N., and if they purchased half of their reductions in the developing world, and if the carbon price were at least $10 per ton, then the global financial flows would be of the order of $100 billion per year.

This sort of money could help bridge the gap between high- and low-carbon development. It could help fund the extra cost from carbon capture and storage technology that reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations by 85 percent. It could make the difference for governments choosing between "cheaper" fossil-fuel power plants and more expensive hydroelectric projects. It could help make solar power a reality.

Of course, carbon finance alone will not be sufficient.

Regarding the HFC-23 loophole, see Kyoto Protocol 'loophole' has cost $6 billion:

Senior officials at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) say there will be no "perverse incentives" to build new refrigerant plants simply to get credits linked to HFC 23s.

Halldor Thorgeirsson, the director of sustainable development mechanisms at the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] claims: "The idea of easy money is out of proportion." And he says the loophole is now closed and that new HFC 23 facilities will no longer be eligible for CDM credits.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: How the thirst for strawberries is draining Spain's precious water

The morning is cold and damp and the mist has barely risen from the Doñana marshes. But, at Vicente Gonzalez's strawberry farm in a pine forest bordering Europe's most important protected wetlands, they've been picking strawberries since daybreak. In the coming days Mr Gonzalez will take on another 25 pickers, from Romania, Poland or Morocco, who will work until June, after which the fruit turns to mush and the price plummets.

"I rent this land from the local council and they grant me permission to use three wells to irrigate my strawberries," Mr Gonzalez, 37, says as he watches workers bring piles of plywood boxes each laden with 2kg of fruit and pass them up to José who stows them in the company lorry.

"Those are going to England," says Mr Gonzalez´s wife, Francisca, pointing to wide black plastic trays where the boxes are laid. When the day's crop is loaded, the lorry will head for the producer's co-operative at Lucena del Puerto and the trays of strawberries will be driven to Britain. Within two days of being picked, they'll be in a supermarket near you.

Vicente and Francisca Gonzalez say all their permits are in order. But Mr Gonzalez's farm - like half those in the Huelva region, which supplies almost all Britain's winter strawberries - is illegal. It occupies public forest that has never been classified for agriculture. And the water that the council allows Mr Gonzalez to draw is not theirs to give, but the responsibility of the regional water authority.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:40:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wanted to give you a 4. Sorry
by amanda2006 on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:17:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can change the rating, you know...
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:32:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strawberries, and new housing, and golf courses.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 04:02:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there any figures for the state of Spain's southern aquifers ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:04:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you take this as a starting point for a search?

There are also several statistical indicators on water here.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:13:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wall Street Journal: China Tilts Green

Buffeted by a year of deadly typhoons in the south and unusual droughts in the west, China's leaders are voicing rising concern over how vulnerable the world's most populous nation is to global warming.

Whether or not the unusual weather is directly related to global warming, the blunt acknowledgment of China's vulnerability to its dangers, and the beginnings of an effort to address it, represent a subtle but important shift for Beijing. China's leaders have until now mostly blamed the West for a problem they said the country couldn't afford to tackle.

<...>

Ningxia has cooperated with scientists from Britain and Canada on clean-energy programs and climate-change modeling. An official at the province's meteorological department said local officials are very concerned because the region depends heavily on agriculture for its economy. <...>

Instead of trying to cap greenhouse-gas emissions, China's leaders last year decided to try to reduce energy intensity, the amount of coal and other fuels the country burns relative to economic output. Chinese scientists say this will be a keystone of the new climate-change policy.

The government has required that key state-owned enterprises and provincial governors sign contracts pledging to reduce the amount of energy consumed relative to economic output by 20% over five years. The target was apparently missed for the first year it was set, but Chinese scientists say there's still a chance the goal will be reached as the policy is more fully implemented.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:47:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when they build less than 100 GW of coal fired power plants per year...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:07:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't find a link but French news radio France Info is saying the TGV broke its record for classic train speed on the new TGV Est line, breaking 550 km/h.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
40 km/hour faster then the previous record.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 08:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:23:04 PM EST
Happy Valentine's Day, Fran.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:34:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, Bruno-ken! you are my first Valentine today. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But surely not the last!  (^_-)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Feb 13th, 2007 at 11:47:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, this is a relatively new tradition were I live and it is mainly flower shops who jumped on this train.

However, I do remember that when I went to school in the US, it was very competitive as to who received more Valentine cards.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:03:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan, as usual, puts a unique twist on this imported American holiday:

Women give the men gifts of chocolate as well as other gifts.

The department store next door was a madhouse with women buying boxes of chocolate at the Godiva sale for their male office workers.

I am sick from all the chocolate I ate already.

Men's turn comes up on White Day next month.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:40:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aha!

From the link [emphasis added]:

On March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine's Day, men who were lucky enough to receive gifts of chocolate have the chance to return the favor by giving the women who gave them gifts of chocolate a more expensive box of chocolate or sweets (for some reason or other, these return gifts seem to be priced slightly higher than those the women purchase).

I knew there was a catch!  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 01:53:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a growth industry: enterprising Japanese women will put their accumulated capital into chocolate in February and realize a considerable profit within four weeks.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:04:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is it for today and as Bruno-ken reminded me: Happy Valentine's day to you all!
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 12:06:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Courtesy of xkcd.com, as ever.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:37:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To all the wonderful ladies who make ET a special place:



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Valentine's Sunrise

by amanda2006 on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:37:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Christ, 8.45  in Britain already, and even later for many of you.  Insomnia's a real bitch.  Have been up watching reruns of Boston Legal all night, and I'm still not tired.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:41:41 AM EST
Exactly, what does a FEMALE dog, who ATTACKS TO DEFEND her young, have to do with your sleep?

Nothing personal.  Your comment happens to be in front of me when the violent sexism, at the highest public levels, is overwhelming, so it is time to bring it up.

General attacks that are not female-based, make us all culturally and socially "richer", so let´s question our popular language.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 10:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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