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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 3 February

by Fran Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:03:28 PM EST

On this date in history:

1909 - Simone Weil, a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist, was born. (d. 1943)

More here and here


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by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:04:08 PM EST
New Iceland Government Vows to Fight Fiscal Crisis | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2009
Iceland named a new center-left government on Sunday headed by Johanna Sigurdardottir. She's promised to rebuild the nation's economy, which collapsed in the wake of the global financial crisis. 

Sigurdardottir will serve as Iceland's prime minister until the next round of elections, set for April 25. She replaces Geir Haarde, who stepped down last week after protests over his handling of an economic crisis which has left the island nation near bankruptcy.

 

The 66-year-old Sigurdardottir, who is also the world's first openly gay head of government, has her work cut out for her.

 

"This government's primary objective will be responsible fiscal control," she said at a news conference. "First and foremost, we will focus on urgent matters regarding the businesses and homes of this country."

 

The coalition of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Party said it would stick to the recovery program agreed with the International Monetary Fund, which came to Iceland's rescue with a $10 billion bailout package.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:08:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No EU referendum in Iceland under new government - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The new Icelandic government is to examine the question of joining the EU and the euro. But the junior partner in the new coalition, the Left Green Movement, says no EU referendum is likely any time soon.

The caretaker government - a coalition between the centre-left Social Democratic Alliance and the hard-left Left Green Movement, backed by the centrist Progressive Party - took office on Sunday (1 February) after the previous administration stepped down.

Concern over Iceland's fisheries is a major block to EU adhesion

The changeover comes amid street protests caused by the economic crisis last month, with the European Commission saying Iceland could join the EU by 2011 if it wants to take shelter in the bloc.

The new government has said it will establish a parliamentary committee to examine the question of joining the European Union and whether the euro should be adopted to replace the battered krona.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:23:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Travel chaos as western Europe is snowed up | France 24
Heavy snow brought UK air, rail and road transport systems to a halt on Monday morning, forcing Heathrow airport to close both its runways. Numerous flights were also cancelled at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris due to severe weather conditions.

AFP - A blanket of snow covered large parts of western Europe Monday after some of the heaviest falls in nearly two decades, causing major flight delays, disrupting public transport and misery on the roads.
  
London was covered in up to 10 centimetres (four inches) of snow, the highest recorded in 18 years, paralyzing airports, trains, buses and roads and forcing many commuters to stay at home.
  
Flurries of snow also brought chaos to parts of Paris and Spain, while three people died in Italy amid adverse weather conditions.
  
Both runways at London's Heathrow airport were closed and airport operator BAA has warned of "significant delays" at the world's biggest international airport plus other London airports like Gatwick and Stansted.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:11:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cancellations and warnings as snow blows in - Home News, UK - The Independent

The worst snowfall to hit the country in 18 years brought travel chaos on the roads, railways and airports.

All bus services in London were cancelled, as were dozens of trains, and some airport runways, including both at Heathrow, were closed.

An army of snow ploughs and gritters were working to clear roads as much of the UK was blanketed in snow. But a 32-mile queue built on the M25, between junction 19 at Watford and junction 8 at Reigate.

Helen Chivers, a forecaster with the Met Office, said the last time the UK saw such widespread snowfall was in February 1991.

"And we're going to get more," she said.

"There are a lot of showers still coming in from the North Sea."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Skiers welcome heavy snow in the Alps -Times Online

The Alps have been deluged with snow two years after experts predicted the demise of skiing in Europe.

Many resorts have had more than half a metre of snow recently in less than 24 hours and more is forecast in the next few days. The conditions have been described as the best for 20 years by the Ski Club of Great Britain.

Two seasons ago there was so little snow in some resorts that patches of grass were visible on the pistes and a report said that global warming could end skiing in 462 of Europe's 666 resorts. It was too warm even to make fake snow and Italy alone was forced to cancel 104 skiing races.

France, western Switzerland and northern Italy experienced the heaviest snow last week, which was followed by lift closures, disruption on the roads and avalanche alerts.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:28:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
someone, you must have a great winter this year with all the snow, great snowboarding I assume. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:29:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now couldn't that have come a bit earlier? When I was in Meribel in early January, there was a serious lack of snow. You needed to be careful of rocks and really, really use your edges.
by MarekNYC on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:40:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't you supposed to go to Val Thorens when that happens ? I never saw that resort without snow...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:08:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign workers dispute escalates - Home News, UK - The Independent

Wildcat strikes over foreign labour spread today as the bitter dispute escalated despite calls from the Government for the industrial action to stop.

Contract workers at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire and Staythorpe power station near Newark in Nottinghamshire were among those taking unofficial action for the first time.

One union official called on every trade unionist in the construction industry to join the series of walkouts in protest at the hiring of Italian and Portuguese workers at a power station in Lincolnshire.

Meanwhile, the start of crucial talks aimed at resolving the row was set to be delayed because of the extreme weather, which caused chaos to Britain's transport network.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson maintained that UK firms and workers were not being discriminated against and called for the unofficial strikes to stop.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wildcat oil strikes: Europeans are finally waking up to the demise of democracy - Telegraph
Angry people across the EU are discovering the fine print in all the treaties signed by their leaders, says Janet Daley.

The peoples of Europe have finally discovered what they signed up to. I do mean "peoples" (plural) because however much political elites may deceive themselves, the populations of the member states of the EU are culturally, historically and economically separate and distinct. And a significant proportion of them are getting very, very angry.

What the strikers at the Lindsey oil refinery (and their brother supporters in Nottinghamshire and Kent) have discovered is the real meaning of the fine print in those treaties, and the significance of those European court judgments whose interpretation they left to EU obsessives: it is now illegal - illegal - for the government of an EU country to put the needs and concerns of its own population first. It would, for example, be against European law to do what Frank Field has sensibly suggested and reintroduce a system of "work permits" for EU nationals who wished to apply for jobs here.

Meanwhile, demonstrators in Paris and the recalcitrant electorate in Germany are waking up to the consequences of what two generations of European ideologues have thrust upon them: the burden not just of their own economic problems but also the obligation to accept the consequences of their neighbours' debts and failures. Each country is true to its own history in the way it expresses its rage: in France, they take to the streets and throw things at the police, in Germany they threaten the stability of the coalition government, and here, we revive the tradition of wildcat strikes.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:16:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, the "peoples" of Europe. That boils down to strikers in British refineries. And the French and Germans, whom Daley decides are doing what fits her thesis, waking up to the consequences of what two generations of European ideologues have thrust upon them. Which in fact has nothing to do with strikes and demonstrations in Paris or a recalcitrant electorate (?) in Germany.

The ECJ judgements are indeed problematical. But in no way, ever, was the freedom of movement of individual citizens, their freedom to set up and live in another EU country, their freedom to work there, in the "fine print". These were clearly enounced principles, and they have long been in operation. Such that a very considerable number of Daley's compatriots have taken advantage of them and have settled abroad, many of them working in their new countries.

Daley's in favour of what?

Free trade in goods, as opposed to unlimited open borders for transient labour, is absolutely essential to the recovery of the global economy (and for that matter, to the relief of poverty in the developing world).

Right. Free trade. And I'd bet - if she were pushed - free movement for the wealthy (maybe that's a form of trade? ;)). The poor, stay where you are, here comes trade to relieve you.

This appalling exercise in rabble-rousing works: a look at the huge comments thread is enough to prove it. Of the uses of the crisis to divert attention from the Anglo Disease and forward a Europhobic agenda.

 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
very nice deconstruct, afewainacircle.   Though she is correct in describing the recalcitrant German electorate...

... as in, recent studies have shown higher levels of bone calcification in the aging German electorate, as opposed to the decalcification during periods of famine and game shows.

shorter:  i don't know what she's talkng about either.  Though it's pretty clear the wealthy have less concern with calcium intake.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:35:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry - the official EU response will destroy this talking point before it's had time to do its work.

Won't it?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:00:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you only have to read a couple of columns by her to realise that she's a neocon lunatic so totally detached from reality that she can only have Ruth Lea for company.

nothing she has to say has any rleelvance. I don't think even telegraph readers take her seriously.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:22:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See the comments beneath the article.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 01:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And since when have the neo-libs&cons given two shits about protecting local jobs?

Ms. Daley, kindly sit upon it and rotate.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 12:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Squabbling over Obama: Berlin Split over How to Deal with New US Administration - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

US President Barack Obama is driving a wedge between the parties in Germany's grand coalition government. Angela Merkel is keeping her distance while Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is making overtures to the new president -- and ruffling feathers in the process.

 Obama and Merkel were all smiles when they met in Berlin last July. But now the German government is split over how to deal with the new US administration. Barack Obama grew up knowing that there were two Germanys. Then the Berlin Wall fell, and he became accustomed to the idea that there was only one Germany. Now that he is president he has discovered, during his first few days in office, that Germany is divided once again.

But this time the country is not divided into East and West Germany, but between Merkel's Germany and Steinmeier's Germany. And when it comes to their relationship with the new America, these two Germanys could not be more different.

Chancellor Angela Merkel takes a reserved view of Obama, waiting to see what his administration's policies will look like. There is not even a trace of enthusiasm for the man on whom the world's hopes are now pinned. Merkel is not prepared to quickly accommodate the Americans on the first concrete issue for trans-Atlantic relations, namely the acceptance of detainees from Guantanamo.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone who isn't off the wall insane should tell the US, "You bought it.  You broke it.  You fix it."

Any member of the SDP willing to take on this problem should have their office stormed and be beaten with bound copies of EU Human Rights legislation.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 12:52:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should detainees from Guantánamo be forced to stay in the US?

Suppose they were released in the US. Suppose they decided to apply for asylum in Germany (say) on the grounds that they don't feel safe in the US given the past treatment received from the US government.

People arguing that the detainees should be denied asylum in other countries should be beaten with bound copies of the UN declaration on Human Rights.

Both you and Helen are arguing as if it were obvious that these people should stay in the US. I think it's obvious they should generally be granted asylum in other countries of their choice.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 01:13:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's a puzzle to flummox beautiful minds with, huh, how to give back something to these people who have been systematically dehumanised for years?

so far i see no creative solutions arriving.

i imagine the fairest thing to do would be to compensate them generously and set them free with new id's.

some may be real criminals, but when the system has become so inhumanly cruel and disproportionally unjust, i think retrenchment and apology still are what's in order.

wouldn't be the first time real criminals were given new id's through official sources, would it?

my sense is few caught in the random net were real jihadi's. material things will never give them their missing, abused years back, but it might help with some of the emotional scarring.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 02:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU mission loses German vessel to pirates - EUobserver

The EU's anti-piracy Atalanta mission on Friday (30 January) said a German ship had been seized by pirates after having ventured into perilous waters without waiting for the military escort vessels.

The German liquified-gas tanker Longchamp was captured by pirates last Thursday and had claimed it was part of a larger convoy - a statement rejected by the EU mission, which said the ship did not wait for the military vessels.

Pirate attacks have decreased since the beginning of the EU mission

A spokesman for EU's first military anti-pirate operation criticised the crew of the Longchamp for not properly registering with the mission, Der Spiegel reports. He also voiced doubts about the alertness of the boat's 12-man team, who made the emergency call only when the pirates were already aboard.

The pirates called the German shipping company over the weekend and reassured it that the Indonesian captain and its crew from the Philippines were safe, AFP reports. The company did not say whether the pirates had demanded a ransom.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:21:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anti-Lisbon treaty party to get EU funds -EUobserver

The new eurosceptic party Libertas is set to be signed off as a pan-European party later today (2 February) entitling it to EU funds, with the group's Polish political campaign starting over the weekend.

Libertas' application to become a European party will be formally recognised in Strasbourg on Monday, according to a report in the Irish Examiner.

Ganley - the political wind may be turning in Ireland, as polls show a swing behind the Lisbon treaty

The move will entitle the party to EU money. European parties may receive funding so long as they intend to run in the European Parliament elections, adhere to the bloc's democratic principles and field members from at least a quarter of the 27 member states.

Libertas currently has two members from France, and one each from Cyprus, Britain, Greece, Finland, Bulgaria and Estonia.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish Examiner | Irish News | News from Ireland | Libertas set to emerge as political party as candidates unveiled
Members of the Libertas political party, according to their membership application to the parliament are:

* Lord Alton of Liverpool, a former teacher and son of an Irish speaking mother from the west of Ireland who is very active in anti- abortion circles and was author of a chain letter distributed by independent MEP Kathy Sinnott.

* Viscount Philippe le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon, MEP and leader of the Catholic conservative party, Mouvement pour la France noted for his anti-Islamist views and his wish to restore the franc.

* Paul Marie Couteaux, MEP who would like to see France distancing itself from the union.

* Georgios Georgiou, 72, Greek MEP, a member of the People's Orthodox Rally, that has moved recently from being anti-semitic to advocating gay rights.

* Timo Soini, of the True Finns Party that has five seats in the Finnish Parliament and been accused of xenophobia, which he denies as a devoted Catholic.

More in the original.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:22:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't make this up...

People's Orthodox Rally, that has moved recently from being anti-semitic to advocating gay rights.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:32:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know.  

What about Pim Fortuyn?

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

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 08:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fortuyn was a curious kind of populist right-liberal. By no means a religious conservative. He referred to god as a 'she'. The analogy would be Andrew Sullivan, but sully is a more traditional believer.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 05:50:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek farmers clash with riot police - International Herald Tribune

ATHENS: Two protesters were injured Monday when the Greek riot police clashed with hundreds of farmers from the southern island of Crete who sailed to the Greek port of Piraeus and tried to drive tractors and farm vehicles to Athens to press demands for government financial aid.

The clashes highlighted growing social unrest in Greece. The center-right government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis is struggling to restore its credibility after student riots in December. The violence in Greece on Monday follows protests in other parts of Europe - most recently in France and Britain - as the global economic crisis bites into jobs and incomes.

In the clashes Monday, Cretan farmers driving about 300 tractors, trucks and other farming vehicles tried to ram a police van that was blocking the port gates in Piraeus to prevent the farmers from driving to Athens.

Live television broadcasts showed at least two people injured in the scuffle, including a female lawmaker who was knocked down by one of the tractors. Two protesters were arrested for pelting the police with rocks, potatoes and tomatoes.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're getting some new ones in the ECJ, anyway...

EU Law Blog: Judicial Appointment Season

Apologies for the light blogging lately. We'll do some catching up in the days to come.

As we pointed out a while back, the term of office of thirteen judges and four advocates general on the Court of Justice expires on October 6th 2009.


Judges are nominated by the (now largely centre-right) Member State governments and chosen 'by common accord'. The European Parliament nor the Commission play a role.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is nothing compared to what goes on in Malta!

timesofmalta.com - Update 2 : Malta's nominations for European Court judge refused - government reaction

Malta's list of preferred candidates for the appointment of a judge in the European Court has been refused for the second time because it does not include a woman, the Labour Party said.

The party said in a statement that the absence of a woman went against the standard criteria of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It said that several groups within the Council of Europe were insisting that Malta should adhere to the democratic principle of gender balance . The country's argument that it did not have women to nominate because of its size could not be considered valid, they argued.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:40:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German troops to be sent to France for first time in 65 years
Kate Connolly in Berlin, The Guardian

France and Germany are expected to give details this weekend of an agreement to station hundreds of German troops on French soil for the first time since the second world war, in a region the countries have squabbled over for centuries.

The historic move for troops in either Alsace or Lorraine is part of a 20-year joint military project to encourage reconciliation between the two countries.

Despite its symbolic significance for a country occupied by Nazi forces, the decision has so far prompted little more than curious and insouciant reaction from the French public. "The prospect of seeing German troops settle in France again ... makes my grandfather splutter," said a Libération reader in a posting on the French newspaper's website. "What an extraordinary symbol of Franco-German reconciliation".

by Magnifico on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 08:04:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECONOMY & FINANCE
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:04:40 PM EST
The State's Silent Takeover: Germany's Big Banking Bailout - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The German government wants to buy up large segments of the domestic banking sector. In addition to the partial nationalization of many ailing financial institutions, Berlin's plans include a complete takeover -- by expropriation, if necessary.

Josef Ackermann, the CEO of Deutsche Bank, likes to come across as generous. A few days ago in Berlin, he said that he is by no means too proud to take advantage of the government bailout program for banks, and that all he wants is to see it benefit those banks that truly need it. "We are a long way from that," he said.

But the competition is skeptical, especially when the industry leader is having trouble hiding the fact that it lost about €4 billion ($5.2 billion) in 2008. In addition, both competitors and politicians have noted with interest Ackermann's behind-the-scenes involvement in the development of a "bad bank," that is, a sort of government dumping ground for unmarketable, high-risk securities.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German Government Considers Bank Takeover | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2009
The German government is considering a controversial plan to nationalize Hypo Real Estate. It would mark the first government takeover of a private bank since World War II. 

The German government has become increasingly concerned about Hypo Real Estate, a German property lender brought low by the financial crisis. The government, which has already provided more than 40 billion euros ($51 billion) in government loan guarantees, is desperate to keep the Munich-based company from going bankrupt.

The government is under increasing pressure to act fast to save the bank. Hypo Real Estate shares dropped 13 percent at the end of last week after Chief Executive Axel Wieandt said that the bank was finding more problematic loans on its books that might require additional state aid.

Some high-ranking government officials say they believe the only answer is to nationalize Hypo Real Estate and create a so-called "bad bank" to take over the troubled lender's toxic assets.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:19:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Davos 2009: Beware the Tide of Groupthink - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

BusinessWeek's editor-in-chief questions the conclusions of this year's World Economic Forum. "Be skeptical of tidy explanations for complex past events," he warns.

Davos can deliver insights it doesn't necessarily intend.

The key messages that seemed to flow from four days of speeches, panels, "bilaterals" (i.e., chatting with someone), cocktail parties, and press briefings were these:

What did Davos really tell us about the global financial crisis? 1. Everyone stupidly failed to see the financial calamity coming except roughly four economists who now must be heeded in everything they say and all they predict.

2. The private sector has ruined the global economy and can no longer be trusted.

3. Government is ascendant, with regulation closest to godliness.

4. These conclusions are correct and will stand the test of time.

What I took away instead was this: Beware conventional wisdom and groupthink. Be skeptical of tidy explanations for complex past events. Be even more skeptical of confident predictions of future human behavior. Don't fight the last war.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:09:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't fight the last war.

Yes, continue the last defeat instead.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:30:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | France unveils stimulus package

France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon has unveiled a series of measures worth 26bn euros ($33.1bn; £23.5bn) designed to "revitalise" the French economy.

He called for an "urgent national mobilisation" across 1,000 work sites to combat the economic crisis.

The package includes 11bn euros to help businesses and 4bn euros to improve infrastructure and public services.

Earlier on Monday, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said France would enter recession "at some point".

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Additional 45,000 job losses reported for December | France 24
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde announced Monday that 45,000 people lost their jobs in France in December 2008. She also said that France "will certainly be in recession at some point or another."

AFP - French unemployment climbed by 45,000 last month, the finance minister said Monday, four days after the country saw Europe's biggest street protests triggered by the economic crisis.

Speaking in a television interview, Christine Lagarde said official figures would be released later in the day but confirmed the surge in joblessness and said France "will certainly be in recession at some point or another."

France is expected to suffer negative growth in the last quarter of 2008 and all experts forecast that to continue this year. The International Monetary Fund expects the French economy to shrink 1.9 percent in 2009.

Monday's official figures were expected to confirm that France now has around 2,100,000 people of of work and seeking permanent full-time employment, after their number increased by 8.5 percent last year.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:13:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France "will certainly be in recession at some point or another."

The oracle speaks.

(This person is the freaking Finance and Economy Minister).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:15:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They have feelings too, ya know. :)

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:19:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<skkkrrr telepathy skrcchh>i just wrote "retards" in another comment, but deleted it as somewhat strident lol<ssskkkrr telepathy scritch>
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:26:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, where do I go for a list of NO NO words/comments ... you know, like George Karlin's 7 words you keep out of the press or whatever?

Retard?  Strident?  Really?

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

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:36:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I wrote "zero-information fucking British retards". It did me good to type, but I chose not to post it.

Oops, now I have.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that is nasty.  I get pissed seeing/reading something and the invective just seems to pour out of me.  I have to learn to keep it to myself or channel it down productive avenues.  

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 09:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
when? now? next week? in a year? in 100 years? sooner or later?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ms Lagarde only had a very high-flying career with the law firm Baker & Mackenzie before she went into politics, what would she know?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:32:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please, don't ask difficult questions to the ... intellectually challenged.  How's that afew?  Less strident enough for European sensibilities?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the context, it's funnier than retards. Isn't it?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:42:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only time can tell if we'll stand the test of time.

</vanhalen>

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firms' secret tax avoidance schemes cost UK billions | Business | The Guardian

British taxpayers are being left to plug a multibillion-pound hole in the public finances as hundreds of the country's biggest companies increasingly employ complex and secretive tax arrangements to limit the amount they hand over to the exchequer.

An extensive Guardian investigation has examined the accounts of the UK's biggest companies - many of them household names - and discovered a series of sophisticated tax strategies which, critics say, amount to an almost unstoppable tide of perfectly legal corporate tax avoidance.

The veil of confidentiality that covers these tax avoidance schemes is so difficult to penetrate that nobody knows exactly how much tax goes missing each year. But HM Revenue & Customs estimated that the size of the tax gap could be anything between £3.7bn and £13bn. The Commons public accounts committee put it at a possible £8.5bn and the TUC said £12bn.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:21:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Department For Work and Pensions: Progress in tackling benefit fraud
Benefit fraud is a crime and undermines public confidence in the benefits system.

Tackling benefit fraud is inherently difficult. It is in the nature of all welfare systems that some people seek to defraud them and that some will succeed.

Good progress has been made in reducing the estimated value of benefit fraud, which represents a substantial achievement by the Department and its staff.

Estimates by the Department for Work and Pensions suggest overpayments due to fraud have fallen from 2 billion (to the nearest 0.5 billion) in 2000-01 to 800 million (to the nearest 0.1 billion) in 2006-07.

So that's a massive £1.2bn saved from scroungers, single mothers, immigrants and other ne'er do wells.

Well done everyone.

Can a similar sweep of corporate tax avoidance be far behind?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:10:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear Mr ThatBritGuy:

You ask: Can a similar sweep of corporate tax avoidance be far behind?

Thank you for your question.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 01:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fallen from 2 billion (to the nearest 0.5 billion) in 2000-01 to 800 million (to the nearest 0.1 billion) in 2006-07

That could be from 1.75 bn to .85bn for a measly .9bn saved rather than the advertised 1.2bn

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 03:30:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A footnote says that some of the savings are 'descriptional' - i.e. created by moving the goal posts.

So unfortunately the actual saving is not very much at all really, especially in context.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 04:48:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The veil of confidentiality that covers these tax avoidance schemes is so difficult to penetrate that nobody knows exactly how much tax goes missing each year...
No doubt that parting that veil would have consequences every bit a dire as those predicted were the bonuses paid to U.S. bank executives to be constrained or limited by such "socialist" measures as requiring share holder approval.  The end, no doubt....Oh, that is what both of our countries are approaching anyway.  Never mind.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 11:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial treason.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 10:59:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France and Germany call summits on financial crisis - EUobserver

As the effects of the financial are being increasingly felt in Europe, the leaders of the EU's two biggest nations - German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy - are both to organise extraordinary meetings aiming to deal with the crisis, according to press reports.

Ms Merkel will call a meeting of the European members - Britain, France, German, Italy, and the European Union (represented by the EU presidency country and the European Central Bank) - of the Group of 20 industrialised nations in Berlin later this month to discuss common action, before the G20 meeting takes place on 2 April in London, the Associated Press writes.

France and Germany are traditionally seen as the EU's "engine"

More financial transparency and stricter supervision are among the elements Ms Merkel would like to see.

Earlier, during a gathering of the world's business and political leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, she called for the setting up of an international economic body with powers that would allow it to prevent rather than react to crises.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:23:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB drawing up 'bad bank' guidelines - EUobserver

The European Central Bank is drawing up guidelines regarding 'bad banks' - financial vehicles that would ring-fence risky assets held by European banks.

The concept, currently being considered by a number of EU governments, would allow banks to offload their risky assets into a separate company.

The ECB has taken on a greater role during the current financial crisis.

It is hoped this would enable banks to start operating normally again and in particular restart lending.

The central bank is also working on guidelines for governments such as the UK who have opted for an alternative asset insurance scheme.

This latest ECB initiative for a more co-ordinated EU response to the financial crisis is designed to prevent bank support schemes in one member state from creating negative effects in other member states.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | YES WE CAN!! have a global depression if we really continue to work at it...
In the UK, prime minister Gordon Brown is reaping the protectionist storm he sowed with his infamous protectionist and xenophobic call for "British jobs for British workers".  What was he thinking?  Follow the logic: `British jobs for British workers','Scottish jobs for Scottish workers' (along with `It's Scotland's oil'), `Welsh jobs for Welsh workers' and `English jobs for English workers'.  Why not London jobs for London Workers, or London jobs for native-born London workers, or even London jobs for white Christian native-born London workers?
...
Under British law, conforming to EU Treaty obligations, there are no jobs earmarked for British workers in Britain.  With the exception of some transitional arrangements for workers from new member states and a few jobs where nationality still matters for national security or similar reasons, any EU worker can compete freely with any other EU worker in any EU country.   So Italian and Portuguese workers can be brought in to complete a contract in the UK if this makes commercial sense to the contractor, just as British workers can compete, individually or as part of team of workers, under the excellent Posted Workers Directive, for jobs and projects in the rest of the EU.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:59:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT:
What was he thinking? 

Probably - 'Look at those latest poll figures - oh crap.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 04:50:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
YES WE CAN!! have a global depression if we really continue to work at it...
Too true.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 04:57:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We seem to talk quite freely about a Global Recession.  What about a Global World War?  Why is that not in the mix?  Has our sanity actually grown beyond such a possibility?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 09:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always liked the Uppsala jobs for Uppsala workers! Or, Starvid jobs for Starvid workers!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 11:02:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | YES WE CAN!! have a global depression if we really continue to work at it...
The odious US House of Representatives has tagged a Buy American clause onto the Obama administration's $819 bn (or more) fiscal stimulus bill.  If this were to become law, US federal spending would, wherever possible, be restricted to goods and services produced by US companies.  The main promotor of this act of global economic vandalism was the US steel industry, but other import-competing industries have lobbied also.  It is quite likely that the Buy American net will be cast even more widely when the Senate gets its turn at the fiscal stimulus act.

There is little doubt that if the Buy American provisions of the Economic Stimulus Package were to become law, this would amount to an economic declaration of war on the rest of the world. 



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:01:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While I welcome opinions with which I agree ("the odious House of Representatives"), I must object to over zealous misrepresentations of fact.

Did I mention the Buy American Act of 1933? Yes, I think I did. This act is public law.

Did I mention the delightful reference law.cornell? or the Federal Register? Yes, I think I did. Were we to contemplate the prospect of regulatory alterations tantamount to "an economic declaration of war on the rest of the world" triggered by provision(s) authorized by that law, we would first examine ...

Applicability of Buy American Act With Respect to European Community

For applicability of Buy American Act to procurements covered by agreement with the European Community on government procurement, see Ex. Ord. No. 12849, May 25, 1993, 58 F.R. 30931*, set out as a note under section 2511 of Title 19, Customs Duties.

... wouldn't we? If we were British.

oh dear, another WAIVER

§ 2511. General authority to modify discriminatory purchasing requirements

(a) Presidential waiver of discriminatory purchasing requirements
Subject to subsection (f) of this section, the President may waive, in whole or in part, with respect to eligible products of any foreign country or instrumentality designated under subsection (b) of this section, and suppliers of such products, the application of any law, regulation, procedure, or practice regarding Government procurement that would, if applied to such products and suppliers, result in treatment less favorable than that accorded--
(1) to United States products and suppliers of such products; or
(2) to eligible products of another foreign country or instrumentality which is a party to the Agreement and suppliers of such products.
(b) Designation of eligible countries and instrumentalities
The President may designate a foreign country or instrumentality for purposes of subsection (a) of this section only if he determines that such country or instrumentality--

etc etc

-----
* The simple search FR volumes ends at 59.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 08:00:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / China - Downturn slashes 20m jobs in China
More than 20m rural migrant workers in China have lost their jobs and returned to their home villages or towns as a result of the global economic crisis, government figures revealed on Monday.

By the start of the Chinese new year festival on January 25, 15.3 per cent of China's 130m migrant workers had lost their jobs and left coastal manufacturing centres to return home, said officials quoting a survey from the agriculture ministry.

The figure of 20m unemployed migrants does not include those who have stayed in cities to look for work after being made redundant and is substantially higher than the figure of 12m that Wen Jiabao, premier, gave to the Financial Times in an interview on Sunday. Speaking on a visit to the UK on Monday, Mr Wen said there had been signs at the end of last year the Chinese economy might be starting to recover.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shoes of Fury!! | Bloomberg | 2 Feb 2009

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech in Cambridge, England, was interrupted briefly by a protester who blew a whistle, denounced the leader as a "dictator" and threw a shoe at him.

The shoe didn't hit Wen, and the protestor was quickly removed from the audience of about 200 students and university lecturers. Wen was speaking after a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, where two days of demonstrations greeted the premier at his every stop.

Wen shrugged off the interruption and continued with his speech, saying, "this despicable behavior cannot stand in the way of friendship between China and the U.K." He is due to fly back to China this evening.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 07:33:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How long before everyone has to remove all shoes at meetings with politicians present


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 07:44:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Columnists / Gideon Rachman - When globalisation goes into reverse
The symptoms of deglobalisation are all around us. Last week, it was reported that global air cargo traffic in December 2008 was down 22.6 per cent compared with December 2007. Abhisit Vejjajiva, prime minister of Thailand, told the forum that tourist receipts in his country had fallen by about 20 per cent year-on-year, in line with the general decline in international travel (and stripping out the effects of the temporary closure of Bangkok airport). In the US and Europe, governments are scrambling to bail out not just banks but also car companies. But, as the European Union has long acknowledged, "state aid" to national industrial champions is a form of protectionism.

Then there is "financial mercantilism", the talk of this year's Davos. This is the growing pressure on banks and financial institutions to retreat from international business and concentrate on domestic markets. Trevor Manuel, South Africa's finance minister, captured the fears of many when he warned that his country and other emerging markets were in danger of being crowded out of international capital markets and of "decoupling, derailment and abandonment".



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:08:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Global Economy - Flaws emerge in global web of treaties
Economic nationalism afoot in today's troubled times is more diverse and more subtle - and, accordingly, can slip more easily through holes in the web of international treaties. Gary Horlick, a trade lawyer in Washington, says: "We are about to see all the flaws in the WTO that people have known about for years but didn't have the guts to fix when the going was good."

More insidious is the small but accelerating growth in "anti-dumping" measures - targeted tariff rises against imports seen as being priced unfairly low. [...] Countries such as China and India, which have had anti-dumping rules used against them, have become big users themselves. "Retaliation is at the heart of anti-dumping proliferation," says Professor Vandenbussche.

Other ways of favouring domestic industries, such as the "Buy American" provisions in the US economic stimulus bill, are also only partially restrained by existing rules. [...] For example, trade lawyers say that in the current US House of Representatives's version of the stimulus bill, provisions to restrict federal iron-and-steel purchases to US companies are quite probably legal.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 06:16:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloomberg.com: Citigroup Leads Tumble in Hybrid Bonds on Nationalization Bets
Bond investors' bets on bank nationalizations are hindering already reduced lending by the world's biggest financial institutions.

The market for securities with characteristics of both debt and equity that Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and other financial companies used to bolster their capital is in freefall on concern governments will stop banks that took public cash from paying interest.
...
U.S. financial losses may reach $3.6 trillion, suggesting the banking system is "effectively insolvent," New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini, who in January 2007 predicted the economy was headed for a "hard landing," told a conference in Dubai on Jan. 20. President Barack Obama will have to use as much as $1 trillion of public funds to bolster the capitalization of the industry, he estimates.

Government capital injections are failing to restore investor confidence in subordinated bank securities, which support the capital on banks' balance sheets so they can lend.
...
Moody's Investors Service is reviewing its hybrid rating methodology and is talking with regulators and market participants about how to incorporate nationalization concern into its assessments, said Barbara Havlicek, senior vice president and chairwoman of the rating company's new-instruments committee.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 06:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Asia-Pacific - IMF almost halves Asia's growth prospects
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday forecast Asia would grow by just 2.7 per cent this year, a sharp cut from the 4.9 per cent that it had predicted for Asian growth as recently as November.

However, the region will rebound to twice that rate of growth next year if the rest of the world economy also posts a clear improvement, according to the head of the International Monetary Fund.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's managing director, also warned that the continent's economy could slow even further than the latest forecast.

For China, the IMF maintained its forecast for 2009 economic growth of 6.7 per cent. Mr Strauss-Kahn suggested, however, that an additional stimulus package could help Beijing reach its own 8 per cent target.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 07:03:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reinhart and Rogoff: What Other Financial Crises Tell Us - WSJ.com
Until now, the U.S. economy has been driving straight down the tracks of past severe financial crises, at least according to a variety of standard macroeconomic indicators we evaluated in a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) last December.
...
Over past crises, the duration of the period of rising unemployment averaged nearly five years, with a mean increase in the unemployment rate of seven percentage points, which would bring the U.S. to double digits.
...
Central government debt tends to rise over 85% in real terms during the first three years after a banking crisis. This would mean another $8 trillion or $9 trillion in the case of the U.S.

Interestingly, the main reason why debt explodes is not the much ballyhooed cost of bailing out the financial system, painful as that may be. Instead, the real culprit is the inevitable collapse of tax revenues that comes as countries sink into deep and prolonged recession.
...
The legacy of high government debt is yet another reason why the current crisis could mean stunted U.S. growth for at least five to seven more years.<
...
Instead, authorities should be prepared to allow financial institutions to be restructured through accelerated bankruptcy, if necessary placing them under temporary receivership, and only then recapitalizing and reprivatizing them.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 08:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:05:07 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Americas | Venezuela marks decade of Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has declared a national holiday to mark his 10 years in power.

The capital, Caracas, was quieter than usual, as workers and children stayed away from offices and schools.

It comes as Mr Chavez campaigns ahead of a referendum on amending the constitution to allow elected officials to seek as many terms as they wish.

Several left-wing Latin American presidents are also expected to attend a celebratory event.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Benjamin Dangl: Hugo Chávez cares about the education and health of poor Venezuelans | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Hugo Chávez's 10 years in office have led to better healthcare and education for the majority of Venezuelans

A few years ago, when I first visited Venezuela, I met countless enthusiastic supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. One of them was Peggy Ortiz, a blonde, self proclaimed Chavista (Chávez supporter) who at the time was working as a radio producer in Caracas.

On a walk through the city's Plaza Bolivar she introduced me to her friends who were all, in her words, revolucionarios. One of them was a Che Guevara impersonator. He had the same smile, beret and goatee as El Comandante, and proudly rode a black moped around, giving high fives to street vendors selling Hugo Chávez T-shirts, key chains and alarm clocks.

"People believe in Chávez. I believe in him," Ortiz explained as we walked past the stalls. "He's a clean president, he doesn't hide anything. Most people who are against Chávez don't understand this political process."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Africa | Gaddafi elected as next AU leader

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been elected as chairman of the 53-nation African Union.

Col Gaddafi was elected by delegates at the AU summit in Ethiopia.

A BBC correspondent at the summit says Col Gaddafi was seen to be the obvious choice, but some delegates are uneasy about his nomination.

AU spokeswoman Habiba Mejri-Sheikh said Col Gaddafi was elected "by the heads of state in a closed-door session, for a one-year period".

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama grants CIA permission to retain right to carry out renditions - Times Online

The banner headlines greeting President Obama's decision to close the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay and secret CIA prisons may have concealed how he has retained one of the most controversial weapons in the War on Terror.

Under executive orders signed on January 22, the CIA appears to have preserved its authority to carry out renditions - by which hundreds of terrorist suspects have been abducted and transferred to prisons in countries with questionable human rights records such as Egypt, Morocco or Jordan.

The measure, disclosed by the Los Angeles Times yesterday, gives some indication of how Mr Obama's promise of change may be slower to be realised than once hoped, with the new Administration coming under concerted attack across a range of issues.

These include efforts to get bipartisan backing for a near-$900 billion (£620 billion) economic stimulus programme and the choice for Health Secretary of Tom Daschle, whose failure to pay back taxes has jarred with pledges to restore ethical government.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:14:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama to allow anti-terror rendition to continue - Telegraph
The highly controversial anti-terror practice of rendition will continue under Barack Obama, it has emerged.

Despite ordering the closure of Guantanamo and an end to harsh interrogation techniques, the new president has failed to call an end to secret abductions and questioning.

In his first few days in office, Mr Obama was lauded for rejecting policies of the George W Bush era, but it has emerged the CIA still has the authority to carry out renditions in which suspects are picked up and often sent to a third country for questioning.

The practice caused outrage at the EU, after it was revealed the CIA had used secret prisons in Romania and Poland and airports such as Prestwick in Scotland to conduct up to 1,200 rendition flights. The European Parliament called renditions "an illegal instrument used by the United States".

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure this is going to be seen as quite the clean break Obama would like it to be portrayed.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:36:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, except that the whole thing is a complete crock of shit.  This moron from the LAT apparently didn't know the difference between the regular renditions program, which has been around for decades, and the extraordinary renditions program established under Bush.

We can debate the obvious legal problems -- there's a reason it's covert -- of this particular program, but the whole blogosphere, as well as the press, is only now figuring out that it got punked by some intelligence operative looking to stir up trouble with the help of a useful idiot reporter.

I think the LAT needs to go back to writing about what a pig Jessica Simpson has turned into.

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

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 07:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...adding...I don't know why folks haven't gotten this yet, but, as others have pointed out, I think it's pretty clear by now that people on the right and not a few at CIA are throwing a temper tantrum and looking to blur the lines between Bush and Obama to serve their own interests.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 07:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, okay but:

Renditions Buffoonery--By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

The earlier renditions program regularly involved snatching and removing targets for purposes of bringing them to justice by delivering them to a criminal justice system. It did not involve the operation of long-term detention facilities and it did not involve torture.

...isn't really true. The US is notorious for its torture programs in Latin America and elsewhere and any pretence that torture doesn't happen has always been a lie.

The only thing that Bush changed was the PR position - public policy rather than not so plausible deniability - and the industrial scale of the operation.

Obama is changing the position back to how it was - official denial, unofficial tacit consent.

That's not quite the principled stand his supporters might have wanted, but it's hardly unexpected.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 04:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't get me wrong: That might well be.  My understanding, however, is that the executive order Obama signed banning torture included banning renditions to countries where suspects might be tortured, which was generally how it was done under the renditions program.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 06:19:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the executive order Obama signed banning torture included banning renditions to countries where suspects might be tortured, which was generally how it was done under the renditions program.

Except when it wasn't of ocurse. The US has been engaged in torturing, or commissioning torture, since at least the Korean war (as has the UK). As TBG said, the only real difference between Bush and what preceeded it was that GWB made it a public policy.

But now that it (and europe's eager collusion) has been made public, simply returning to the status quo ante isn't enough. That might work domestically, but it won't fly elsewhere. And unfortunately for him, it's the elsewhere that matters on this one. He's got to do more.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 09:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, let's be clear that rendition means extra-judicial kidnapping and imprisonment. Just because there's a promise of a trial of some sort at some point - are there are explicit limits on detention after rendition? - doesn't mean that the process is legal in international terms.

If it were, it would legal to kidnap GWB and drag him in chains to the Hague.

If Obama doesn't support the legality of that example, he's working to a very clear double standard by supporting the rendition of suspects with other nationalities.

Technically the new law still allows anyone from the UK to be picked up and shipped to a prison in any country with strong US influence.

That's hardly reassuring from a legal point of view.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 02:53:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RIGHTS: Call to Try Bush
BERLIN, Feb 2 (IPS) - Now that former U.S. president George W. Bush is an ordinary citizen again, many legal and human rights activists in Europe are demanding that he and high-ranking members of his government be brought before justice for crimes against humanity committed in the so-called war on terror.

"Judicial clarification of the crimes against international law the former U.S. government committed is one of the most delicate issues that the new U.S. president Barack Obama will have to deal with," Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the European Centre for Human and Constitutional Rights told IPS.

U.S. justice will have to "deal with the turpitudes committed by the Bush government," says Kaleck, who has already tried unsuccessfully to sue the former U.S. authorities in European courts. "And, furthermore, the U.S. government will have to pay compensation to the innocent people who were victims of these crimes."

Kaleck and other legal experts consider Bush and his highest-ranking officials responsible for crimes against humanity, such as torture.

Many agree that the evidence against the U.S. government is overwhelming. U.S. officials have admitted some crimes such as waterboarding, where a victim is tied up and water is poured into the air passages. Also, human rights activists have gathered testimonies by innocent victims of torture, especially some prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:17:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Na-ah, the Bushes are too big to jail.
by das monde on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 08:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel Conducts Retaliatory Airstrikes on Gaza Tunnels, Police Post | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.02.2009
Israeli jets launched airstrikes against an empty Hamas police station in central Gaza and some seven smuggling tunnels near the Egypt-Gaza border town of Rafah, witnesses said Monday. 

Palestinian residents of Rafah, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip, said that Israeli F-16 warplanes dropped at least four large bombs Sunday night in their efforts to destroy the tunnels, used for smuggling goods and arms into Gaza from Egypt. No injuries were reported in the attacks.

 

Rafah resident Ahmed al-Sha'er said Palestinians working in and around the Rafah tunnels had evacuated the area earlier Sunday after receiving warning messages via their cell phones from the Israeli military.

 

Another Gaza resident, Hani Salem, said his cell phone rang and when answered played a recorded message in Arabic advising residents in Rafah to leave the area.

 

Al-Sha'er said dozens of families also fled the area after receiving the pre-attack warnings.

 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Salam Pax is back!
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any word about Riverbend?
by lychee on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I am checking in on her site from time to time, but the last post is from October 07.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:57:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've considered sending email to her gmail address, but I think I'm afraid that I'd never hear back, which would only add to the worry.
by lychee on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just tried emailing her. That the message wasn't immediately bounced back is a good sign, meaning her account's still open.

If I hear nothing, that's the same as what I would hear if I didn't try emailing her. At least this way there's a chance of a reply. I hope.

by lychee on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:29:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would be nice if you get an answer, please let us know if you get one.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:31:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Will do. I included in the message that people at both DailyKos and European Tribune still ask about her. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's tried emailing her.
by lychee on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Trond Ove on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 07:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Bolivia, Untapped Bounty Meets Nationalism - NYTimes.com
In the rush to build the next generation of hybrid or electric cars, a sobering fact confronts both automakers and governments seeking to lower their reliance on foreign oil: almost half of the world's lithium, the mineral needed to power the vehicles, is found here in Bolivia -- a country that may not be willing to surrender it so easily.

 Japanese and European companies are busily trying to strike deals to tap the resource, but a nationalist sentiment about the lithium is building quickly in the government of President Evo Morales, an ardent critic of the United States who has already nationalized Bolivia's oil and natural gas industries.

For now, the government talks of closely controlling the lithium and keeping foreigners at bay. Adding to the pressure, indigenous groups here in the remote salt desert where the mineral lies are pushing for a share in the eventual bounty.

"We know that Bolivia can become the Saudi Arabia of lithium," said Francisco Quisbert, 64, the leader of Frutcas, a group of salt gatherers and quinoa farmers on the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat. "We are poor, but we are not stupid peasants. The lithium may be Bolivia's, but it is also our property."

The new Constitution that Mr. Morales managed to get handily passed by voters last month bolstered such claims. One provision could give Indians control over the natural resources in their territory, strengthening their ability to win concessions from the authorities and private companies, or even block mining projects.  ...



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 10:33:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:05:32 PM EST
Europe's 'Medicinal Cannibalism': The Healing Power of Death - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Were Europeans once cannibals? Research shows that up until the end of the 18th century, medicine routinely included stomach-churning ingredients like human flesh and blood.

According to the recipe, the meat was to be cut into small pieces or slices, sprinkled with "myrrh and at least a little bit of aloe" and then soaked in spirits of wine for a few days.

A blindfolded man kneels and prays moments before he is beheaded circa 1550. Finally, it was to be hung up "in a very dry and shady place." In the end, the recipe notes, it would be "similar to smoke-cured meat" and would be without "any stench."

Johann Schröder, a German pharmacologist, wrote these words in the 17th century. But the meat to which he was referring was not cured ham or beef tenderloin. The instructions specifically called for the "cadaver of a reddish man ... of around 24 years old," who had been "dead of a violent death but not an illness" and then laid out "exposed to the moon rays for one day and one night" with, he noted, "a clear sky."

In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, recipes for remedies like this, which provided instructions on how to process human bodies, were almost as common as the use of herbs, roots and bark. Medical historian Richard Sugg of Britain's Durham University, who is currently writing a book on the subject says that cadaver parts and blood were standard fare, available in every pharmacy. He even describes supply bottlenecks from the glory days of "medicinal cannibalism." Sugg is convinced that avid cannibalism was not only found within the New World, but also in Europe.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:10:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is it I think that Mr Sugg is trying to attract attention to himself?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:21:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 17th century the major  base for medicine was human fat. During the seige of Ostende, there are numerous written records of the two sides allowing medical practitoners access to the no-mans land between the two sides to harvest the fat from the bodies of the dead during the over year long seige for the production of medicine.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 03:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Human fat was particularly an ointment base, but hardly the major base for medicine. I've done some reading on medicine in the 17th century, but haven't come across a huge tendency towards use of human bits. Googling around, it's mostly Sugg himself who's emphasizing this.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:50:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Got that out of a history of Siege warfare that I have somewhere in one of my boxes.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I've seen a reference to it re the Siege of Ostend. I just think Sugg is overdoing it, possibly for reasons connected with making his name.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 02:32:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Go green: have fewer kids, says environmentalist | News | guardian.co.uk
Jonathon Porritt is treading on dangerous ground in calling for smaller families for the sake of the environment

The environmentalist Jonathon Porritt must be horrified at the behaviour of Nadya Suleman, who has just had octuplets to go with the six children she had already. Porritt, who chairs the government's Sustainable Development Commission, has told the Times that couples who have more than two children are being "irresponsible" by creating an unbearable burden on the environment. He argues that political leaders and green campaigners can no longer duck the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population.

"I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate," Porritt said. "I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible. It is the ghost at the table. We have all these big issues that everybody is looking at and then you don't really hear anyone say the 'p' word."

Porritt is fully aware that he is treading on dangerous ground. Environmental groups have shied away from linking population growth and its possible impact on the environment because it is such an explosive issue.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The crazies strike again.

Mr. Porrit should read up on demograpics in general, on the great population rollover in particular, and then especially on how female education plays in to this. He might be surprised.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 11:07:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: Yet another gig for Steve Martin, with a banjo in his arms

It wasn't easy to silence the set of "Saturday Night Live," which at Friday evening's rehearsal was a cacophony of banging hammers, buzzing saws and chattering crew members, but Steve Martin did it with a banjo.

On the main stage of NBC's Studio 8H in Manhattan, wielding a Gibson Florentine from the 1920s and accompanied by a quintet of bluegrass musicians, Martin was plucking, strumming and, yes, singing his way through an original song called "Late for School," about a young delinquent racing to beat the tardy bell. The hoedown brought the room to a halt, and when it was over even the surliest stagehands couldn't help but stand and applaud.

In his mercurial career, Martin, 63, has gone from manic, rabbit-eared stand-up comedian to introspective memoirist. He has made movies for Carl Reiner ("The Jerk") and David Mamet ("The Spanish Prisoner") alike. Through his many incarnations, a banjo has never been far from his reach, whether the instrument was an integral part of his act or a tool to help him unwind in private.

Cool:

Among country and bluegrass musicians, Martin is regarded as a master of a difficult five-fingered playing style known as clawhammer or frailing, in which the instrument's strings are pushed down by fingernails, rather than pulled up with picks.

by lychee on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 04:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:05:54 PM EST
Comment Central - Times Online - WBLG: Monty Python does it again

I found a fascinating little link on Chris Anderson's Long Tail site.

The Monty Python team have become fed up with the terrible quality clips pirated from their stuff and put on You Tube. So now they have put the clips up themselves, allowing free access to their content.

They have this to say:

We're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return.

What is that they want? For viewers to buy their DVDs.

Now, it is odd to use one sentence saying you are going to give something away and then announce that you want something in return. Odd, but not a ridiculous idea.

Robert Cialdini's famous towels study (in which he changed the wording on the hotel sign asking you to reuse your towel to help the environment) tested reaction to this sort of offer.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And they got a 23,000% increase in their DVD sales? Not bad in recession times!
by das monde on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 09:12:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chic and sober sets tone for Sarkozy and 'Carlita' anniversary - Times Online

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni mark their first wedding anniversary today with the honeymoon still in full flow but the aura fading around France's new First Lady.

A year on from a palace marriage that was so private that no picture emerged, the previously free-spirited supermodel-singer has confounded sceptics and bestowed calm on a President whose behaviour had been verging on the erratic.

"Carlita" and "mon mari", as the pair refer to each other, continue to gush like lovebirds about the improbable romance that began when they met at a dinner party in November 2007. "I am in love with mon mari," Ms Bruni, 41, regularly tells interviewers. Nevertheless, the couple's celebrations today are expected to be low-key, given the financial gloom.

With her dressed-down look -- dubbed "chic et sobre" -- Ms Bruni is credited with conferring glamour on Mr Sarkozy, while softening his harsher side and winning him over to some of her left-wing causes. She has served as his envoy, meeting the Dalai Lama in his place last August, and has just embarked on her first official cause, promoting Aids relief.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 02:19:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some vapid Murdoch hack:
bestowed calm on a President whose behaviour had been verging on the erratic.

What would Europe have done without Bruni to tame this angry giant of a man?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 05:20:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, hyper-active rodent is more like it..

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 12:06:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The driver of a fuel-efficient Toyota Prius repeatedly rammed a pickup during a road-rage attack in Colorado Springs and then shoved the truck's 61-year-old driver when the men pulled over, police said... The Prius sustained more damage than the pickup...

http://www.gazette.com/articles/police_47254___article.html/pickup_prius.html
by asdf on Mon Feb 2nd, 2009 at 11:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google Earth Goes Deep With Ocean Simulations - NYTimes.com
Two and a half years ago, the software engineers behind Google Earth, the searchable online replica of the planet, were poised to fill an enormous data gap, adding the two-thirds of the globe that is covered by water in reality and was blue, and blank, online.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 10:17:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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