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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 24 June

by Fran Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:23:56 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1930 – Birth of Claude Chabrol, a French film director and one of the core members of the French New Wave group of filmmakers who first came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

More here and here

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 EUROPE 

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:12:38 PM EST
Guardian: Romanians leave Belfast after racist attacks

Twenty-five Romanians who were the victims of racist intimidation in Belfast left Northern Ireland today, with 75 others due to leave later this week.

The Stormont social development minister, Margaret Ritchie, confirmed earlier today that 100 of a group of 114 who had been targeted in racist attacks wanted to return to Romania.

Ritchie said only 14 of the Romanians subjected to the attacks - a family of seven and seven single men - had opted to remain in Belfast.

Meanwhile, the Belfast church in which the Romanians took shelter after the attacks has been vandalised.

Seven windows in the Belfast City church were smashed and the front door damaged in the attack, which happened overnight.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:18:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I've been reading it's Combat18 and a BNP splinter group thats doing this.

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 Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: BNP ordered to accept ethnic minority members or face prosecution

In a letter from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, was told that he had less than a month to provide written undertakings that the party would abide by race relations legislation.

John Wadham, legal director of the Commission, said that the watchdog was concerned that the BNP's constitution and membership criteria could be in breach of the law.

Party membership was said by the Commission to be restricted to those with white skin and a small number of other ethnic groups.

In a statement, the watchdog added: "This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act which the party is legally obliged to comply with. The Commission therefore thinks that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally."

There were further concerns over the requirement on new staff to be party members, and fears that elected BNP representatives would be unwilling to provide help and support to non-white constituents.

If the BNP does not provide written undertakings by July 20 that it will make the changes required by the Commission voluntarily, then the watchdog said that it would apply for a legal injunction which would compel them to comply.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:22:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that should be an interesting day in court.

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 Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:37:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A BNP spokesman was challenged about the party's racism in an interview before the election (on Radio 4, I think).

He tried to claim that the BNP would positively love to have ethnic minority members, but they were forced to be monoracial in order to have the protection of "European legislation".  That is, acting against the BNP (by telling policemen, clergy etc that membership is incompatible with their chosen career) is, according to the BNP, racial discrimination.

I would love to see that one in court.

by Sassafras on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 02:13:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what "European Legislation" would that be then?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 09:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know. "European" <nudge, nudge, twitch> "Legislation" <significant wink, twitch, gibber>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 09:26:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
aka the ragtag remnants of various Protestant militant factions who aren't allowed to beat up Catholics anymore and so have found another target for their hatreds.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 06:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Romanians were catholics?

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 06:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that certainly helps.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 08:15:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Date set for Ukrainian election

Ukraine's parliament has set a date for the country's presidential election, ending a dispute over its timing.

It will be held on 17 January, after a motion proposing that date was approved by 399 out of a total of 450 lawmakers.

The vote had been scheduled for October 2009, but President Viktor Yushchenko challenged that date and received the backing of the Constitutional Court.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his former ally and political rival, says she also intends to run for president.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as long as you have 3 big factions with not one able to govenr on its own, it doesn't really matter who is president or prime minister, the contry will be absolutely ungovernable. And frankly, it's not even obvious it's a problem there...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:00:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Israeli premier seeks tougher stance on Iran during first European visit

Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Italy on his first official trip to Europe, where he is expected to push Rome, and later Paris, to toughen sanctions against Iran.

Netanyahu first met for talks with his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But at their joint press conference, he focused on Iran, praising the courage of Iranian protesters and calling Tehran the "greatest threat to peace" in the region.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: Air France crash: 'black box signals located'

French naval vessels detected a weak signal from the flight data recorders, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

They said that a mini submarine has been dispatched on Monday to try and find the black boxes on the bottom of the ocean floor.

The "black boxes" may contain vital information that could help explain what happened when the Airbus A330 aircraft crashed into the sea en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:31:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Xinhuanet: Signals not from crashed jet's black boxes: French official

Earlier, the French publication Le Monde reported that beacon signals emitted by the black boxes frequently from the day of the crash on June 1 were picked up by French ships and the mini submarine Nautile has been launched to investigate the signal.

    The aide to France's top transport official, Jean-Louis Borloo, told The Associated Press that the "black boxes have not been detected."

    She spoke on the condition of anonymity.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:16:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that trying to damp down anticipation ? After all, those things are gonna be a couple of miles down in (apparently) difficult terrain. They might not be findable/recoverable.

So, announcing they'd found them would be embarrassing until they'd assessed the situation.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:04:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Arabiya: Germany's Muslims on the rise but feel alienated

Germany has more Muslims than it originally thought, with nearly half of them holding German citizenship and thus able to vote in elections, according to a government survey released Tuesday, which found Muslims were religious but tended to be less socially integrated.

Muslims make up five percent of Germany's 80 million population, two percent more than most common estimates, according to the first survey of German Muslims.

Muslims in Germany are the largest minority in the country and Europe's second largest after France. Despite immigrating to Germany since the 1960s, German Muslims continue to suffer from a catalogue of deprivations like unemployment, lack of education and political representation.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:46:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but this focus on "political representation" for a group of immigrants that's barely been 30-40 years in the country is, quite frankly, stupid. The first generation of kids is now barely reaching the age where they could be in positions of power, and it's rather unlikely that the first generation kids are those with the best education, chances and social background.

In fact, one could say that it's nothign short of amazing that you now have so many candidates at the local level.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "Muslims" in Germany are mainly Turks. The "Muslims" in France are mainly North African (and now, increasingly, sub-Saharan Africans) and are largely secular. The "Muslims" in the UK are largely from East Asia...

They have very little in common, beyond that useless and largely inappropriate "we're at war with Eastasia" label.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:03:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't everyone feel alienated in Germany? ;-)
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:13:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do!! Everyone is so... nice... in Germany.

It's downright scary.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:14:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incoming EU presidency says Croatia's accession talks on ice | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 22.06.2009
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says the European Union is putting Croatia's EU entry talks on ice after the country failed to resolve a border spat with neighboring Slovenia. 

Setting out the main priorities for Sweden's upcoming six-month EU presidency, Bildt told a news conference in Brussels on Monday that the Croatia-Slovenia issue was a bilateral matter, and that no fresh attempts would be made to settle the border dispute.

"I think now is the time for a period of reflection in both countries. This is a bilateral dispute," he said, adding it was primarily up to Slovenia and Croatia to resolve the row, which dates back to the 1991 break-up of Yugoslavia.

Last week an EU mediation bid to resolve a land-and-sea border dispute between Croatia and EU member Slovenia collapsed.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Sweden to stay out of EU candidates' bilateral spats

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - With just over a week to go before Sweden takes over the helm of the EU's six-month rotating presidency, the country's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, has made it clear he does not intend to waste time attempting to unblock the many bilateral disputes that currently pepper the EU's diplomatic landscape.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (r) and Minister for European Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom (l) present their presidency programme

"I would like to emphasise that responsibility for solving bilateral issues lies primarily with the countries concerned. You can't expect the world to solve your bilateral issues. You'll have to solve them yourselves," said Mr Bildt on Monday (22 June) speaking to reporters in Brussels while presenting plans for Sweden's presidency.

In the Balkans, Croatian accession talks are currently blocked by Slovenia due to a border dispute, with Sweden's foreign minister saying it is now time for "a period of reflection in both countries."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:25:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
STA: MEP Aurelio Juri Leaving SocDems
Aurelio Juri, who replaced Prime Minister Borut Pahor as MEP last autumn, is leaving the coalition Social Democratic Party (SD). The reason for his decision is Slovenia's blockade of Croatia's EU accession talks, Juri told STA on Wednesday.


A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 11:00:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Europe must change after economic crisis, says Sarkozy

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - In a historic speech before a joint session of the French parliament on Monday (22 June), President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the global economic crisis meant that "nothing will be the same any more" and pleaded for change in both France and Europe as a whole.

"The crisis is not over. We don't know when it will end," Mr Sarkozy told the 920 parliamentarians and senators gathered together as the French Congress at the Palace of Versailles, once the home of Louis XIV.

The French president spoke before senators and parliamentarians for the first time since the 19th century

"Thinking of the crisis as brackets that will soon be closed ... would be a fatal mistake. Nothing will be the same ever again. A crisis of this magnitude always calls for profound questioning. We cannot witness such a catastrophe without questioning the ideas, the values, the decisions that led to such a result," the president went on.

The French leader, who was the first president to speak before parliament since Charles-Louis Napoleon Bonaparte in 1848, talked about the country's need to modernise its labour market, schools, universities and pension system.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:28:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy's Louis XIV moment - Europe, World - The Independent
Parliament summoned to Versailles to hear President

Nicholas Sarkozy yesterday trod where no French president for 161 years has dared, or chosen, to tread when he spoke to parliament.

After a constitutional change, completed a few hours before, M. Sarkozy addressed both houses of parliament gathered in the Palace of Versailles to explain his vision of the future of France and of the world.

Presidential Question Time it was not. The parliamentarians were forbidden to intervene while the President was speaking. They were forbidden to ask questions. The President's 50-minute speech was followed by a debate but M. Sarkozy departed before it began.

As a result, Green and Communist parliamentarians boycotted the speech. Socialists listened in silence but boycotted the debate. President Sarkozy's centre-right supporters gave him a rhythmic standing ovation.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Nicholas Sarkozy yesterday trod where no French president for 161 years has dared, or chosen, to tread when he spoke to parliament."

Is it too much to ask to stop lionizing things like that? Previous presidents were banned by the Constitution to do so, and chose to uphold it.

Sarkozy bought a Constitutional change through threats (to UMP members who, in great numbers, hated the amendments and would have rejected it with secret ballots) and promises (to people like Baillet, who pretty much sold his party's votes), so that he could do so.

It's not being brave, it's being immensely vain, and quite ready to weaken the country's stability so that one can read in some newspaper that "Nicholas Sarkozy yesterday trod where no French president for 161 years has dared, or chosen, to tread when he spoke to parliament."

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 02:58:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why was the original amendment introduced? What is gained by not allowing the (Executive) Head of State to address the Legislature?

I know the UK has elaborate rituals around the Queen's yearly address to underscore Parliament's independence from the Sovereign as a result of the English Revolution, but still...

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 05:00:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
was right in the Constitution from the start. de Gaulle is said not to have been happy about it, but he never tried to change the constitution just for this.

afew is right that this is just about Sarkozy being able to do a "State of the Union" lookalike.

And the most ironic thing is that Monday's speech is widely seen in France (inclduing by all the rightwing people) as extremely mediocre and empty...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 05:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
this is just about Sarkozy being able to do a "State of the Union" lookalike
That much is obvious.

But I am not asking only about the Constitution of the 5th republic - the rule was introduced in the 3rd Republic.

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 05:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
were parliamentary regimes, with executive power in the prime minister and the President mostly a figurehead, so the rule was not that important.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 08:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"everything is different now, all the old ways are no longer valid..." hmm... where have i heard this before?
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:15:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope Sarko didn't claim that "L'État c'est Moi!"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:38:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU lobbyist register boosted by 'market forces'

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - One year after its launch, the European Commission says pure "market forces" are ensuring its lobbyist register is a success but critics say the refusal to make it mandatory is a fatal weakness as law firms and think-tanks drag their feet in signing up.

With 1,600 entries on the register, representing thousands of individual lobbyists, and a signing up rate of about 30 to 40 a week, the commission says its "voluntary approach (..) has been confirmed by these numbers."

The commission has no plans to make the register mandatory

Corporate inhouse lobbyists and trade representatives account for around 900 of the entries with the system asking for the area of interest, number of employees and amount of money spent of representing its interests to the EU. NGOs make up most of the rest.

Jens Nymand Christensen, the commission official in charge of the issue, said commission staff is now being actively encouraged to ask lobbyists or companies looking for some face time if they are in the register.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:28:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Only 24% of Brussels lobbies registered, but Commission claims success

On the first anniversary of the European Commission's lobby transparency register, less than one in four Brussels-based lobby groups and firms have signed up. At a press briefing yesterday, however, the Commission hailed the register as "a success" and argued that "the numbers do not point to an instant need to make registration compulsory."

For the ALTER-EU coalition, in contrast, such a large majority ignoring the register proves the failure of the Commission's voluntary approach.

ALTER-EU yesterday published an updated assessment of the register which shows that:

  • the total number of registrations is now 1604, of which only 625 have offices in Brussels;
  • less than 24% of Brussels-based lobby organisations and firms have registered so far (based on the European Parliament's estimate of 2,600 lobby groups with offices in Brussels in 2000);
  • the European Public Affairs Directory lists 165 consultancies in Brussels. Just 25 of these are on the Commission's register, putting the compliance rate for this crucial category at a meagre 15%;
  • Of the 330 companies listed in the European Public Affairs Directory, only 86 feature in the Commission's register, which means that just 26% of companies with Brussels-based lobby offices have registered.

On 4 June, ALTER-EU published a detailed report highlighting the flawed information contained in the register and putting forward concrete proposals for solving the shortcomings.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What incentive is there to register?
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:17:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"market forces"

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:57:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Amsterdam: More Trips by Bike than by Car
By Jack Oortwijn, Bike Europe

The Netherlands - The bicycle is the means of transport used most often in Amsterdam. Between 2005 and 2007 people in the city used their bikes on average 0.87 times a day, compared to 0.84 for their cars. This is the first time that bicycle use exceeds car use.

In 2006 the inhabitants of Amsterdam engaged in some 2 million trips a day, an 8% reduction compared to 1990. This is due to the number of trips per person per day falling from 3.6 to 3.1%. The number of transfers has fallen in the old city within the ring road in particular.

The number of trips by car, compared to 1990, has fallen in all districts (-14%), whereas the number of trips by bicycle has only risen within the ring road (+36%)...

Amsterdam is doing this right.

by Magnifico on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 05:55:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can give most of the credit to the quality (traffic separated) bike lanes and the (apparent) right to lock your bike to anything you want.  
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:00:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but if you did a calculation like this with the inhabitants of Paris (the inner city), you'd probably get a similar result (or at least, you'd see a heavy domination of metro and bus trips over car trips). The problem is that most of the cars driven in and around Paris come from the suburbs, where people do not benefit from the density of public transport in the inner center. THe same remains true in Amsterdam.

That said, Amsterdam has certainly been a lot more consistent in promoting bike use than other places, including Paris.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:05:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While not the total bicycle ridership in Paris, here's some numbers on the Vélib bicycle-sharing program.

With some 20,000 bicycles available free for short trips in the city, and another 3,000 being stationed in the suburbs, the Paris program is one of the most ambitious of its kind.

The chunky bicycles have become part of the city landscape, with nearly 1,000 bicycle stations servicing most neighbourhoods and an average of 78,000 trips taken each day. Nearly a quarter of a million people have subscribed to the program, meaning they can unlock a bike using their public transit pass, rather using a credit card for a deposit.

However, the article in Canada's Globe and Mail focuses on the theft and vandalism that hurts the program, Paris's pedal power sets free uncivilized behaviour. Sigh.

by Magnifico on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:38:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm gonna go with culture! The first thing you aspire for when you're a toddler in the Netherlands is learning how to cycle. Seriously.

I'm not too sure if this is true:

most of the cars driven in and around Paris come from the suburbs, where people do not benefit from the density of public transport in the inner center. THe same remains true in Amsterdam.

Define suburbs for Amsterdam... Anything outside the ring road?

by Nomad on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:32:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:13:07 PM EST
Guardian: China and US head for trade war

Europe and the United States have announced co-ordinated action against China for breaking World Trade Organisation rules, raising fears of a damaging trade war in the depths of the global recession.

The US trade representative issued a statement this afternoon criticising restrictions China has placed on exports of raw materials, to the disadvantage of American firms. Together with Europe, the US will start formal "dispute resolution consultations" at the WTO, claiming China has breached the rules of the international marketplace.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering that China exports consumer goods to the USA and imports mostly US Treasury notes, etc......I am not exactly ready to cry DOOMM!  Perhaps WalMart thinks otherwise.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:32:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
considering that a lot of Chine imports and exports are done by Western multinational companies looking for the cheapest regulatory framework to do the dirty work...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this could be a trade war that has the unintended consequence of re-internalizing factors that multi-nationals had worked so hard to "externalize."  But they should be able to find some place else to trash.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:29:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm certain China is shaking in their boots.  I'm watching a rerun of Star Trek TNG; the Federation is fighting the Borg.  China makes a good Borg.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is probably good for both countries.  Less imported environmental degradation for China and less exported petroleum/landfill-fill for the USA.  How long can we drag this thing out for???
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: UK: FSA chief Lord Turner warns he won't be distracted from 'radical' reform of banks

Regulators will not be distracted from the 'radical' reforms on pay and capital requirements required at the banks despite early signs of economic recovery, Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has pledged.

Giving evidence before the Treasury Select Committee on Tuesday, he said: "There is a danger, because we are now seeing positive signs, that there could be some drawing back from the degree of radicalisation required. [We must] ensure we're not sitting here again in 10 to 15 years' time. We are going to make sure we are being radical enough."

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, right. Unless the government reverses policy and stops propping up and encouraging casino capitalism, even in the banks it directly owns we're not just gonna be sitting here looking at the same mess again in 15 years, we're gonna be back here in 15 months.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:14:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Negative equity hits one in six UK prime mortgages

Nearly one in six "prime" mortgages in the UK have fallen into negative equity, according to ratings agency Fitch. Households in Sunderland and Northampton are suffering most from the property crisis, it reveals.

Northern Rock has the most once-prime loans now in negative equity, said Fitch, with 32% of the mortgages in its controversial "Granite" book higher in value than the homes they are secured against.

The lender had specialised in offering 125% "Together mortgages" which combined a 100% home loan with a personal loan and were aimed at first-time buyers struggling to get on to the property ladder.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No shit. In a market with substantial numbers of 95%, 100% and even 110% mortgages is entirely reliant on significant house price inflation to maintain prime mortgages. The absence of such inflation, or even deflation, is gonna hit the market hard.

Course, the got could change the conditions to reverse housing shortages, but that's called bucking the market (or hurting the profitability of donor companies).

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Times: TDF chief held hostage in latest French bossnapping case

Protesting workers held the executive chairman of TDF, the French television broadcast operator, hostage today in the latest case of bossnapping in France.

About 600 employees invaded the group's headquarters outside Paris to demand the withdrawal of a redundancy plan.

Patrick Babin, the executive chairman, was detained in his office, before being released as the striking staff joined a protest march.

"We're asking him to scrap his restructuring plan," said Bruno Rabardel, a representative of the Confédération générale du Travail union.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"bossnapping" is the best new word of the years as far as I'm concerned.  naturally it has never been printed in the American press outside of maybe a "europe is doomed" article somewhere.
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:19:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Previously a boss-nap was what happened in the afternoon after a good lunch.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:20:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUObserver: EU and Australia push for resumption of Doha talks

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Trade representatives from the European Union and Australia say they will push for further progress on the Doha round of multilateral trade talks at a meeting in Paris this week.

"I'm going to Paris with the very strong conviction that we now need to move forward speedily and we need to set a timetable [for the talks]," said European trade commissioner Catherine Ashton following a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (23 June) with Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean.

Trade ministers from around the World will meet on the sidelines of an annual ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris later this week (24-25 June) to assess the political willingness to officially resume the Doha talks that stalled in July 2008.

Several non-OECD members have also been invited to the meeting including India, Brazil, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa, whose agreement will prove vital to securing a multilateral deal.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:18:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24: Bank bailouts in EU could reach 16 pct of GDP: study

European nations need to find a "credible exit strategy" for their public finances as the aid shelled out to shore up banks could reach 16.5 percent of GDP, an EU report warned Tuesday.

In its annual report on public finances, the European Commission estimated the direct fiscal costs of the current crisis in the EU anywhere in a broad band from 2.75 percent to 16.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:17:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only 16%?!  Pikers!  Surly more to come.  In the USA it is more like 100%, depending on how you count it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fury over RBS chief's £15m incentive to rebuild bank | Business | guardian.co.uk
* Unite 'appalled' by size of pay package

* Shareholders say price target could encourage risk-taking

* City institutions believe RBS should reconsider deal

A pay deal for Stephen Hester, the Royal Bank of Scotland's chief ­executive, which could reach £15m provoked anger from unions, shareholders and politicians last night as the state-­controlled bank reignited the public furore over ­boardroom pay.

RBS was accused of missing an opportunity to set an example and put a lid on bankers' pay following the £20bn taxpayer bailout of the Edinburgh-based bank in which the government has a 70% stake.

City institutional investors believe the bank should reconsider Hester's pay package which comprises cash, shares, options, credit notes and debt and will pay out its maximum amount in three years if the taxpayer makes an ­estimated £8bn profit on its shareholding in the bank.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:24:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shareholders are right to talk about this: it's their responsibility.

Government should not care, but do a very simple thing: have a high enough marginal tax rate to make any kind of huge package mostly useless.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most "shareholders" are other city institutions with very similar arrangements. It's been one of the most instructive spectacles in the last few years of watching all of the City institutions voting each other huge Executive rewards whilst the individual shareholders fume in impotence.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:23:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The CEO class in action, making a mockery of "shareholder sovereignty".

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 08:34:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Boeing delays maiden Dreamliner flight

Boeing has been forced to postpone the first flight of its troubled 787 Dreamliner, its flagship new aircraft development programme, after discovering a weakness in the structure of the jet.

The US aircraft maker, which was already running nearly two years behind schedule, had been due to make the maiden flight by June 30.

(...)

The problems at Boeing are a stark reminder of the daunting complexity of developing new generation large commercial aircraft and follow more than two years of delays suffered previously by Airbus in bringing its A380 superjumbo into commercial service.

Boeing is greatly increasing the use of lighter materials in the 787, including the first all-composite airframe, and has tried to streamline manufacturing and assembly processes and to outsource much more of the engineering and manufacturing to suppliers around the globe.

For the first time the wings of a Boeing aircraft are being made in Japan, which is accounting for 35 per cent of the airframe in total, with other key outside suppliers in Italy and the US. Boeing said it was engaged with both Mitsubishi and Fuji Heavy Industries in engineering the necessary reinforcement parts.

The unexpected stresses in the structure had been found in 36 places, 18 on each side of the aircraft, at the join of the wing to the body, each in areas of one to two square inches.

The A380 delays were a sign that Airbus's multinational structure and management, laden with heavy state interference, did not work. This time, of course, it is just because of the complexity of designing aircraft.

Europe. Is. So. Doomed.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:02:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't seen much upfront bitching in the (English) press about Airbus now Boeing is faced with a similar uphill struggle... The jabs are now more sneaky and subdued... I guess it's a gain of sorts.
by Nomad on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:37:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan Export Slump Deepens, Casting Doubt on Recovery

June 24 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's export slump deepened in May, casting doubt on the nation's growth prospects as the economy struggles to emerge from its worst postwar recession.

Shipments abroad dropped 40.9 percent from a year earlier, more than April's 39.1 percent decline, the Finance Ministry said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of economists surveyed was for a 39.3 percent decrease. From a month earlier, exports fell 0.3 percent, the first deterioration since February.

Declines in shipments to Asia accelerated for the first time since January, damping hopes that demand from the region will spur a recovery in the world's second-largest economy. A worldwide stock market rally stalled this month on concern that the global recession will deepen.

"Final demand just isn't picking up and it's still hard to expect a very strong economic recovery," said Azusa Kato, an economist at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. Kato said the economy will "barely expand" in 2010 once the effect of Japan's own economic stimulus measures fades.


H/T to Leo Kolivakis, Naked Capitalism

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 11:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Decades of Social Crisis?

The FT reports that the OECD warns on pension crisis:

   Strains in pensions systems, in both private and public provision, threaten to turn the financial crisis of the past two years into a social crisis lasting for decades, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned on Tuesday.
    In its annual analysis of the health of pensions systems globally, the Paris-based organisation found private pension plans lost 23 per cent of their value last year, while higher unemployment "leaves little room for more generous public pensions.
    Angel Gurría, the OECD secretary-general said: "Reforming pension systems now to make them both affordable and strong enough to provide protection against market swings will save governments a lot of financial and political pain in the future".

There is an interesting graph that I could not get to embed.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 12:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]

There's no rule that says that public pensions have to be financed only on wage-based contributions only. Thye could be financed by taxes, which can be progressive.

All of these crises (like that of public finances) exist only because of the highly consistent decision by all writers to not even consider higher taxes.

As to private pensions, why is it a problem? Why should governments care? People were allowed to be free and make their  own pension arrangements without government interference, why should they be bailed out or helped in any way? They made their decisions and have to be responsibile for them, no?

Or is this just about giving more tax breaks and subsidies to the pensions funds management industry?

Whiners.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 02:32:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strongly agree on higher marginal rates and elimination of all deductions for incomes over, say, $1,000,000/yr.  No big surprise that this is never mentioned in the popular press, considering who owns that press.  On that account alone I take some satisfaction from the collapse of their business model.  Couldn't happen to a more deserving, dis-serving pack of social parasitic sons of bitches.

For public pension funds and public funded medical care a Tobin Tax on financial transactions dedicated to these purposes could simultaneously help put them on a sounder footing and provide a much needed check on purely speculative financial transactions.  The extent to which finance has been allowed to become a parasitic public casino that primarily serves only the financiers is another under reported scandal.

But as to private pensions and corporate pensions, the proper remedy is to make all wealth derived from corporations and "wealth management" firms, including gifts, trusts, etc. subject to "claw back" provisions before the beneficiaries, excluding corporate management, take a hit to their retirement funds.  At a minimum, these employees should be entitled to the cash value of their contributions and the contributions made on their behalf.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 12:55:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He is speaking way too much sense:
FT - Reform of regulation has to start by altering incentives

At the heart of the financial industry are highly leveraged businesses. Their central activity is creating and trading assets of uncertain value, while their liabilities are, as we have been reminded, guaranteed by the state. This is a licence to gamble with taxpayers' money. The mystery is that crises erupt so rarely.

Such a crisis is not only the result of a rational response to incentives. Folly and ignorance play a part. Nor do I believe that bubbles and crises can be eliminated from capitalism. Yet it is hard to believe that the risks being run by huge institutions had nothing to do with incentives. The unpleasant truth is that, today, the incentive to behave in this risky way is, if anything, even bigger than it was before the crisis.

Regulatory reform cannot end with incentives. But it has to start from incentives. A business that is too big to fail cannot be run in the interests of shareholders, since it is no longer part of the market. Either it must be possible to close it down or it has to be run in a different way. It is as simple - and brutal - as that.

Can't argue with that!

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 03:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US bit the bullet with Standard Oil. Time re-invent anti-trust for Finance.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:30:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:13:37 PM EST
Al Arabiya: Iran says courts will teach protesters a lesson

Iranian authorities said they would teach an exemplary lesson to "rioters" held in the worst unrest since the birth of the Islamic Republic and pressed accusations that violence was being incited by Western powers.

"Those arrested in recent events will be dealt with in a way that will teach them a lesson," the official IRNA news agency quoted senior judiciary official Ebrahim Raisi as saying on state television late on Monday.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:48:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Times: Iranian authorities scramble to negate Neda Soltan 'martyrdom'

The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of a student shot dead in Tehran to take down mourning posters as they struggle to stop her becoming the rallying point for protests against the presidential election.

Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, 26, was killed as she watched a pro-democracy protest, and mobile phone footage of her last moments have become a worldwide symbol of Iran's turmoil.

The authorities had already banned a public funeral or wake and have prevented gatherings in her name while the state-controlled media has not mentioned Miss Soltan's death.

Today it was reported that they had also told her family to take down the black mourning banners outside their home in the Tehran suburbs to prevent it becoming a place of pilgrimage. They were also told they could not hold a memorial service at a mosque.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:04:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This will further discredit their religious crednetials.  The period of mourning and proper recognition of martyrs is VERY important in Iran.
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like they care. this was never about their rituals, it isonly about power.

They won, so they get to write the history. I'm sure it will record their actions as consistent with islam.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 07:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Mousavi 'under 24-hour guard'

The Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi is under 24-hour guard by secret police and no longer able to speak freely to supporters, according to the film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Mr Makhmalbaf, 52, an informal spokesman abroad for the protest in Iran, said that Mr Mousavi was not under arrest but "he has security agents, secret police with him all the time. He has to be careful what he says."

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:50:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Difficult Diplomacy: The West Struggles to Find Correct Tone with Iran - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The West has recently turned up the volume on its critique of Iran. But diplomats are also wary of closing the door on dialogue, particularly given the long list of regional problems. How far is too far?

For a time, diplomatic reserve was the name of the game. Now though, Western governments have seemed to shed their wariness of openly criticizing Iran's leadership as it continues to face ongoing demonstrations stemming from opposition concerns of massive election fraud in the presidential vote held earlier this month.

How far is too far? Western politicians are feeling domestic pressure to be more aggressive in their critique of Iran. Here, a woman at a demonstration in Los Angeles holds up Iranian currency depicting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with his eyes cut out. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have both gone on the offensive as has US President Barack Obama. All have demanded that Tehran refrain from violence and oppression as it seeks to put an end to the mass protests in the Iranian capital.

On Sunday, the German government also joined in the chorus of criticism. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the violence "unacceptable" and Chancellor Angela Merkel presented a five-item catalogue of demands that includes a vote recount in the June 12 elections which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed victor.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:33:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All "the West" has to do is avoid legitimizing the current regime.  
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:24:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran election annulment ruled out

Iran's legislative body, the Guardian Council, has said there were no major polling irregularities in the 12 June election and ruled out an annulment.

Opposition supporters called for the vote to be set aside and the elections re-run amid claims of vote tampering.

Iran has also condemned UN chief Ban Ki-moon for "meddling" in its affairs.

It comes after Mr Ban urged the authorities to respect fundamental civil rights "especially the freedom of assembly and expression".

Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhoda'i said there was "no major fraud or breach in the election".

Meanwhile, opposition candidate Mehdi Karoubi urged Iranians to mourn for dead protesters on Thursday.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:34:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see the Guardian Council has decided to throw itself under the bus with Khamenei and Ahmadenijad.  Nice call!
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:25:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is going to get ugly.

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:52:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Russia plans Middle East summit

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, has said that Moscow aims to hold a peace conference before the end of 2009 to help resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

After holding talks in Cairo with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, Medvedev said a two-state solution, the issue of settlements and a future capital would be on the agenda at the meeting.

Medvedev said: "We paid special attention to Middle East issues. We highly appreciate efforts by the Egyptian president to create an atmosphere of trust and co-operation in the region.

"[The] Moscow Middle East conference, which we plan to hold before the end of the year, will also contribute to achieving this goal."

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good luck to them.  I hope they do a better job than we have.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 09:28:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're part of "The Quartet" already...

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:52:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AllAfrica.com: Kenya: Mau Mau D-Day As Veterans File Case Against UK

Nairobi -- An old man with a walking stick trudges while being guided by an aide. 'Mzee, have you been blind since childhood?,' I curiously ask. "No," says M'njau Ndei. "My eyes were gouged out for being a Mau Mau supporter.'

When in March, 1959, 11 inmates died in the Hola camp, the investigating magistrate, W. H. Goudie, blamed officially-sanctioned brutality for the deaths.

So what now? Today, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association will file a suit in London against the British Government for human rights abuses and torture. It is expected that the British Government will present a range of legal arguments to stall the case, deny responsibility or refute the allegations. The case could drag on for years.

The wazee are in London to make their plight known to the British public. And what will they be asking for? An apology at the very least and some form of reparation to enable them to live their sunset years with some degree of dignity, comfort and security.
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:54:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tribal leader killed in Pakistan

Earlier this month, Zainuddin criticised Mehsud after an attack on a mosque which killed 33 people.

He told Associated Press: "Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism".

"Islam stands for peace, not for terrorism," he had said.



We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:32:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'They're Not Getting any Warmer': Merkel Faces Difficult Talks in Washington - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is traveling to Washington this week to discuss the financial crisis and climate change with US President Barack Obama -- two issues where Germany and the US are deeply divided. In the new world order, Europe is looking increasingly irrelevant for the US.

When US President Barack Obama recently met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dresden, he did something completely unexpected in the middle of their conversation: He deviated from the program.

When high-ranking politicians meet, the program is one of the most important elements. It includes the agenda and the things a politician is expected to say. Chancellors and presidents like to stick to a program, because it gives them security.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Chancellors and presidents like to stick to a program, because it gives them security.

In Dresden, Obama remained true to the program at first. But then he unexpectedly asked "Angela" why, exactly, she didn't want Turkey to be accepted into the European Union.

Merkel was taken aback. She had to think on her feet and quickly come up with an answer for an issue on which she had no pre-prepared comments.

Yes, becuase she would not be able to talk about Tuky membership without pre-prepared remarks, as the topic has never come up before... She's so dumb and ... European.


The prosperity and well-being of ordinary people are more threatened than they have been in a long time, and yet Germany and its most important partner seem unable to agree on a common course.

Yes, Germany's most important partner is the USA. Right.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:20:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:14:04 PM EST
Guardian: China suspends reforestation project over food shortage fears

Food shortage fears have prompted the Chinese government to suspend the reforestation of marginal arable land, a senior government official said today .

The sacrifice of a key environmental restoration project for crop production highlights the growing problem of feeding the world's biggest population as cities expand into farmland and urban residents consume more meat and vegetables.

Lu Xinshe, deputy head of the ministry of land and resources, said the country was struggling to hold the 120 million hectare "red line" considered the minimum land areas needed for food self-sufficiency

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afaik the re-forestation policy was failing because it was being carried out in a way practically guaranteed to fail. Funny how failure happens when you plan for it.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 08:07:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Amazon bill controversy in Brazil

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is due this week to make one of the most keenly awaited decisions about land ownership in the Amazon rainforest.

The president has to decide by 25 June whether to veto parts of a bill that is due to transfer an area of public land - estimated to be around 670,000 square kilometres (259,000 square miles) - into private hands.

The government originally introduced what is called "Provisional Measure 458" as a way of bringing security to small farm owners in the Amazon region.

But critics say the proposal amounts to an amnesty for land-grabbers, and that the original measure has been altered by Congress in a way that will only serve to encourage deforestation.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:02:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Oil boom threatens the last orang-utans

It's burning season on Indonesia's Sumatra island, where vast tracts of vegetation are being torched and clear-felled to meet the soaring global demand for palm oil. The pace is especially frenzied in the peat swamp forests of the Tripa region, one of the final refuges of the critically endangered orang-utan - and a company owned by one of Britain's most venerable trading groups is among those leading the destructive charge.

In Indonesia, one of the largest palm oil companies is Astra Agro Lestari, a subsidiary of Astra International, a Jakarta-based conglomerate which is itself part of Jardine Matheson, a 177-year-old group that made a fortune from the Chinese opium trade and is still controlled by a Scottish family, the Keswicks, descendants of the original founders.
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:11:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil or Trees?: Germany Takes Lead in Saving Ecuador's Rainforest - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Oil companies are salivating over the supply of black gold beneath Ecuador's rainforest. The South American country is pledging to keep the oil in the ground -- if the international community provides compensation. Now Germany has taken a leading role in raising the necessary cash.

There are many attributes which make the Yasuni National Park special: It is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet, it is home to indigenous tribes which hunt and gather in its remote interior, and there's a unique breed of small bat. But the national park also has a geographic curse: It sits atop Ecuador's largest known oil reserve, thought to contain hundreds of millions of barrels.

And this potential fortune threatens its very future. In response, Ecuador has come up with an unusual plan to safeguard the UNESCO biosphere Reserve. The cash-strapped South American country has pledged to leave the oil in the ground forever -- something unheard of among oil nations -- if the international community compensates for some of the lost income.

The scheme, which was first mooted by Ecuadorian President Raphael Correa more than a year ago, got off to a slow start. By the end of the year the country extended its self-imposed deadline, in a last ditch bid to rally international support. Meanwhile, international oil giants were queuing to exploit the supply of black gold.

But now, all of a sudden, the ball seems to be rolling. Following a two-day visit by the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconí to Berlin, Germany had positioned itself at "the forefront of the initative," the Ministry for Economic Cooperation said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mars mission pictures - Telegraph
Detail of one of Mars' moon, Phobos

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow those are amazing pictures.  Here's the article itself that provides some context.
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Ananova - Man digs 50ft hole to fish - in his kitchen

Man digs 50ft hole to fish - in his kitchen

A Chinese farmer dug a 50ft hole inside his house to go fishing.

 Li Huiyan, of Chongqing, hired 30 villagers for six months to dig the hole in his kitchen, reports IC Media.

He wanted to reach an underground river which he suspected was full of fish.

The river had been over ground but had disappeared 30 years ago when the local authorities bombed part of a mountain to pave a road.

Li explained: "The river used to have so many fish, and by simply putting a net there, hundreds of fish would be caught."

 After digging his pit down to the river, Li installed a fishing net across it and regularly hauls out fish, so far earning his family nearly £2,000.

"I sell the fish at a wholesale price of 24 yuan (£2.15p) per kilo, but 36 yuan (£3.20p) per kilo for retail," he said.

great round-up, Fran And Sassafrass!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remind me of this when my basement floods again. I should point out that part of my apartment is built over a former swimming pool. I suppose I should block the drain, really ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:13:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:14:25 PM EST
BBC: Nokia Siemens Network has confirmed it supplied Iran with the technology needed to monitor, control, and read local telephone calls.

Nokia Siemens Network has confirmed it supplied Iran with the technology needed to monitor, control, and read local telephone calls.

It told the BBC that it sold a product called the Monitoring Centre to Iran Telecom in the second half of 2008.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure there's a mistake.

"Nokia Siemens Network has confirmed it supplies Iran all governments with the technology needed to monitor, control, and read local telephone calls."

that's better

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 08:10:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did they say who'd supplied the phones and gear that allowed the people on the street to get the information out? I missed the lionisation of those companies.

<gah>

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 09:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Hockney turns to mobile artwork

In a career that has spanned five decades, artist David Hockney is still at the cutting edge of art.

The 72-year-old has embraced new technology by using his iPhone to create new works of art.

Speaking about his iPhone work, Hockney said: "One morning recently, I made a drawing on my iPhone while I was still in bed, of flowers through the window, and the sunrise, which I could then [email] to 12 people, without it ever having been photographed or printed, and that's very new."
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:55:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is there an iphone app you can draw with on the touchscreen? anyone know?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:11:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for instance

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. Brushes is fun. If only I could draw ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 09:16:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
presumably amongst the apps somewhere there's iTalent, try using it with that. ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 09:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: War Book reveals how Britain planned to cope with nuclear attack

New details of how Britain would have been governed in the event of a nuclear war from the 1960s into the 1990s have been disclosed with the publication of the secret War Book.

The document, over 16 chapters, gives precise plans and instructions for what would have been done by officialdom during the build-up to an international confrontation and after the bombs started falling.

There are indications that aspects of the arrangements have been adapted for use during other, domestic, emergencies since the cold war, including the fuel protests in 2000.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes indeed, the government planned to decamp to an old mine in Wiltshire - a mine which was all of 30 yards below ground level, topped by limestone and chalk, and wouldn't have lasted more than a second after a ground burst detonation.

Not that the Soviets had any idea where it was. It's not as if the locals thought it was strange and interesting, and hiding it under one of the biggest military bases in the country, and a prime first strike target, was a work of Whitehall genius.

Civil servants were expected to travel to the location by train, having been given standard tickets - which meant they'd very likely have been waiting at Paddington while the bombs were going off.

You can go for a virtual drive around the bunker here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:00:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
such train services these days!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of that hair raising BBC movie, "The Bomb", directed as if it were news footage...!

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:59:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was either The War Game, which was banned in the 60s, or Threads, which was the 1984 version, and even more graphic.

Threads is still some of the most terrifying TV I've ever seen.

I think both are on YouTube.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 05:43:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was also Kelvedon Hatch in Essex.

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 04:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I can't think of a more fitting punishment for those arrogant sods than to be incarcerated in a small hole with only each other for company.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 08:13:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
East German By Design: The ABCs of Communist Consumer Culture - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Many in the West still think of communist East Germany as a consumer wasteland, devoid of attractive products. Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, SPIEGEL ONLINE takes stock of GDR department store shelves and, through archival material, uncovers a lost world.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in einestages.de, SPIEGEL ONLINE's award-winning history portal.

The discrete directive to journalists was clear: "Don't do anything that might awaken people's needs." The edict from the German Democratic Republic's Socialist Unity Party was meant to help protect the people of the communist state from anything that could spark Western-style consumer desires.

 Shopping sprees may be the norm in capitalist societies, since they boost demand in a supply-side economy. The economy of East Germany, however, became one of scarcity starting in the 1970s -- the GDR's citizens became increasingly sophisticated and began wanting more than the system could possibly supply. Necessities such as bicycles and washing machines were no longer enough -- leading the ruling party, the SED, to try and curb consumption.

Still, it's not as if East German store shelves were empty of products. The selection might not have been Macy's or Marks and Spencers -- and the products may have lacked the glossy packaging of their Western cousins -- but they existed nonetheless. Indeed, East Germany had its own brands -- they just happened to have a socialist spin. And until the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, East Germans lived a consumer world of their own.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some guy at Spiegel watched "Good Bye, Lenin" this weekend, I see.
by paving on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:29:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Demasiado viejos a los 35 años · ELPAÍS.comToo old at 35 - ElPais.com
La discriminación por orientación sexual, género, color o discapacidad cuenta con un alto grado de concienciación social. Los expertos alertan, sin embargo, de la existencia de otro tipo de discriminación igualmente execrable, pero más invisible que los anteriores: la que atañe a la edad. En este campo, dicen, todavía no hay suficiente sensibilización. Una generación de trabajadores en sus 30 y 40 años llegó más bien tarde al mercado laboral, pero hoy se encuentran un techo temprano. Representan las contradicciones de un país con alta esperanza de vida, más necesidad de fuerza laboral que financie las pensiones del futuro y una escasa perspectiva laboral, apuntalada formalmente por convocatorias que les excluyen.There is a large degree of social awarenees about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, skin colour or disability. Experts are warning, however, about the existence of another kind of equally despicable discrimination: on age. In this field, they say, there is still not enough sensitivity. A generation of workers between 30 and 40 arrived into the job market relatively late, but today they meet an early ceiling. They represent the contradictions of a country with a high life expectancy, a greater need of a labour force to fund future pensions and a lack of work expectations, formally buttressed by work demands which exclude them.

The last line refers to the fact that all kinds of work offers both in the public and private sectors have age limits. The article mentions:
  • frequent job ads advising "older than 40 need not apply"
  • to join the National Police one has to be under 30
  • a 36-year old volunteer firefighter was barred from joining the corps by a 35-year age limit set by the Catalan regional government
  • a human rights lawyer has challenged in court 15 separate public employment contests covering a total of 30,000 public jobs, on the grounds of age discrimination.

I'm nearly 34 - realising that by 35 I may already be "too old".

But I am a bit shocked that the article claims there is little social awareness of this problem. I have known this since my early teenage years because of anecdotal evidence from family friends.

For more on age discrimination see the recent discussion of the diary Ok, I am pissed at Europeans by Jeffersonian Democrat on May 16th, 2009.

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 05:28:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article mentions the recent (January 2007) Eurobarometer 263 on Discrimination in the European Union [PDF - see also the summary (PDF)].

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 05:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:14:59 PM EST
Telegraph: Want to get something done - talk to people in their right ear

Research shows that people prefer to be addressed in their right ear as they will find it easier to process the information and are therefore more likely to perform a task.

Known as the "right ear advantage", scientists believe it is because information received through the right ear is processed by the left hand side of the brain which is more logical and better at deciphering verbal information than the right side of the brain.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 01:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Torygraph Alert]

And what if you're a lefty?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 05:39:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you know why no one listens to us.

Well, duh.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 05:50:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yle: Office workers in Helsinki have more space than in many other European cities

According to the study, office space per employee was an average 23.4 square metres in Helsinki, which is more than in any other large Euroepan country. By global comparison, only Washington DC had more office space per employee.

Moscow has the most crowded offices, where workers have only 7.8 square metres on average.




You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 02:42:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Academic women fight back against 'sexist' Silvio Berlusconi - Times Online

Wives of the world leaders due to attend next month's G8 summit in Italy should boycott the meeting because of Silvio Berlusconi's "sexist" and "offensive" attitude to women, a group of Italian female academics has said.

A number of wives, including Sarah Brown and Michelle Obama, are to join their husbands at the summit, although the wife of the Italian Prime Minister will not be hosting as she is seeking a divorce.

Veronica Lario announced the end of her marriage at the end of April after Mr Berlusconi attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring model.Since then, a series of allegations about his personal life has emerged.

Prosecutors in Bari, southern Italy, are investigating "inducement to prostitution" by a local businessman after an escort girl claimed women were paid to attend Mr Berlusconi's parties in Sardinia and Rome.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Silvio Berlusconi keeps smiling as sex scandal gets deeper by the day | World news | The Guardian
Prime minister attempts to carry on as normal despite further revelations

If Silvio Berlusconi fears four years of being a lame duck prime minister as a result of the sex scandal engulfing him, he was not showing it at the weekend as he went on a walkabout in Milan, kissing babies, discussing which AC Milan players he might sell and sketching out his political agenda to a crowd of admirers.

"He was talking about what plans he has for 2010; he clearly intends to ignore everything, waiting for it to blow over," said Raffaele De Mucci, a professor of political science at Luiss University in Rome.

It is unlikely that it will blow over by the time the world's leaders arrive in Italy next month for the G8 conference. Magistrates in the southern city of Bari are pushing on with an investigation into a possible prostitution racket and are getting ready to question 30 women, some of whom are suspected to have been paid by a local businessman to attend five parties held by Berlusconi, La Repubblica reported yesterday.

One of the guests already questioned - model Barbara Montereale - has alleged that a paid escort, Patrizia D'Addario, slept with the prime minister on 4 November. Yesterday, Montereale released photographs she alleges she took as souvenirs in Berlusconi's bathroom and described the large number of eastern European women she says she met during a visit to his villa in Sardinia.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 03:38:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Mr Lonely, for fans of the bizarre.

Director:"cue grams, ready camera 1...and 3, 2 , 1"

....

Director: ready camera 1. Slow zoom and....wait for it (1.03). Zoom"

"OK. Strike the set. On to 22b."

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 05:20:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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