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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 7 July

by afew Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:06:20 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

The cosmos on this date in history:

1959 - Venus occults the star Regulus. This rare event is used to determine the diameter of Venus and the structure of the Venusian atmosphere.

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:43:05 AM EST
Lobby fury as MEPs trash CO2 emissions cut | EurActiv

A lobbying row has broken out as the European Parliament decisively rejected yesterday (5 July) increasing the EU's 2020 CO2 emissions reduction target from 20% to 30%, on 1990 levels.

The Parliament voted down a draft resolution after it was watered down by an amendment.

According to Bas Eickhout, a Dutch Green MEP and rapporteur for the Parliament's position on EU emissions reduction targets, the vote was distorted by undemocratic lobbyists.

"The German liberals did not follow the group line because of the heavy lobbying from industry," he told EurActiv.

"BusinessEurope was aggressively lobbying against any change and within that, Eurofer for the steel industry was also acting very intensely."

Because the pressure involved "small groups of industrial interests" who did not represent more climate-friendly businesses, it was "absolutely not an act of democracy," he said.

The vote, which was postponed last month, saw a majority of 347-258 against the proposal, with 63 abstentions.

But it only came after Conservative and centre-right MEPs passed a series of wrecking amendments, which forced the Green Party and Social Democrats to vote against it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:00:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliament paves way for GMO crop bans | EurActiv

The European Parliament yesterday (5 July) backed plans to let member states choose whether to ban the cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops on their territory, giving a detailed list of grounds on which such bans could be imposed.

The House voted on Tuesday (5 July) to amend European Commission proposals for an EU regulation that would allow member states to restrict or ban the cultivation on their territory of GM crops, which have been given safety approval at EU level.

The Commission's initial proposal suggested that member states could restrict or ban their cultivation on all but health or environmental grounds, which were to be assessed solely by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

But the proposals have sparked a wave of criticism, with businesses fearing they could lead to fragmentation of the internal market, bringing legal uncertainty for farmers. Some of the EU executive's proposals have also been deemed incompatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The Parliament's report seeks to provide member states with "a solid legal basis" for banning GM crop cultivation, and to give them better legal protection in the event of challenges from trading partners opposed to bans.

The report - adopted with 548 votes in favour, 84 against and 31 abstentions - lists a number of reasons to allow member states to impose bans. These include:

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUROPE: Business Blocks Climate Targets - IPS ipsnews.net
One year ago, European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard launched the proposal to unconditionally move to 30 percent cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2020. This step would make it substantially easier to achieve the 80-95 percent CO2 cuts that Europe wants to attain by 2050.

Furthermore, projections made by the European Commission have shown that the European Union is on a trajectory of meeting the 20 percent cuts by 2020 without any extra effort by industry.

The Parliamentary Comittee for Environment (ENVI), led by green Member of Parliament (MEP) Bas Eickhout, investigated the proposal and came up with an ambitious draft resolution. According to the resolution, the EU should pledge to cut its emissions by 30 percent by 2020. Limited offsets must be allowed, but 25 percent of the emission reduction should be achieved domestically.

Moreover, the draft pointed out that this strategy could create up to six million new jobs in green sectors and provide a needed boost to the European economy. The draft resolution was approved in the Comittee on May 24, but still had to make its way through the plenary voting in the Parliament.

The report did not survive the plenary. After an orchestrated action by a group of Conservative and centre-right MEPs, the proposal was watered down to such an extent that Bas Eickhout himself called for the rejection of the report. 'With a mere surplus of three votes, the conservatives voted in favour of amendments that took the core out of my proposal," Eickhout told IPS.

One of these amendments stated that all emission reductions should only be achieved by saving energy, another amendment said that the proposed emission reductions should not be binding. "If the proposal would have been approved including the conservative arguments, we would have been warped back in time," said Eickhout. "In 2008, we had already agreed on a binding target of 20 percent by 2020. With the new amendments, the 2008 resolution would not make sense any more."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 11:01:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mobile phone firms to be forced to reduce overseas roaming charges | Money | guardian.co.uk

Mobile telecommunications firms will be forced to reduce the amount they charge for overseas data roaming to a maximum 80p (90 cents) per megabyte from July 2012, under EU proposals announced today. Customers will also be able to switch to other providers for their overseas roaming, leading to greater competition and potentially even lower charges, according to EU telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Kroes announced that the cap on the cost to consumers of overseas calls and texts, introduced last week, will be lowered in each of the following three years. From July 2012 prices will drop for calls made from phones across Europe to 28p (32 cents) a minute; 25p (28 cents) from July 2013; and 21p (24 cents) from July 2014.

But consumer groups have warned that the costs to networks of introducing the first ever cap on data roaming could be passed on to customers through price rises elsewhere. They also argue that the cap should be introduced immediately rather than in a year's time, and that 90 cents per MB is still too high - though the EU has announced further plans for this to be reduced to 45p (50 cents) per megabyte from July 2014.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:58:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Murdoch defends papers as Cameron pledges hacking probe | Reuters

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch promised full cooperation on Wednesday to resolve a scandal shaking his media empire after British Prime Minister David Cameron promised an inquiry into what he called "disgusting" phone hacking by a newspaper.

Responding in parliament to allegations that the News of the World eavesdropped on voicemail for victims of notorious crimes, including child murders and suicide bombings, Cameron said he was "revolted" and would order inquiries, probably into both the specific case and more widely into Britain's cut-throat media.

The opposition, keen to highlight Cameron's own ties to Murdoch and to two former editors at the eye of the storm, noted that any inquiry would not start, let alone finish, for months if not years. Critics accused the Conservative government of trying to bury the embarrassment of the long-running saga.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:44:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does this full co-operation mean more than it did in previous instances where full and honest internal investigations revealed nothing, where computer backups went missing or suffered arson attack ?

Is Rebekah Brooks gonna testify ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 09:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of Britain waits with the utmost cynicism.

It's not going to happen, is it? Unless by some fluke a competing paper happens to offer millions for whistleblowers to come forward.

That's not likely either, because it would turn Fleet St into a blood bath - as opposed to the gin and coke bath it is now.

Still - let's see, shall we?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 10:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU slams ratings agencies after Portugal downgraded | Reuters

(Reuters) - European politicians accused credit rating agencies on Wednesday of anti-European bias after Moody's downgrade of Portugal's debt to "junk" cast new doubt on EU efforts to rescue distressed euro zone states without debt restructuring.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the decision to cut Lisbon's rating by four notches so soon after it became the third country to receive an EU/IMF bailout was fuelling speculation in financial markets.

The cost of insuring all weaker euro zone states' debt against default rose after Moody's move, announced on Tuesday.

The euro and European shares fell, ending a seven-day stocks rally, and Portugal had to pay more to sell 3-month T-bills on Wednesday.

"It seems strange that there is not a single rating agency coming from Europe. It shows there may be some bias in the markets when it comes to the evaluation of the specific issues of Europe," Barroso told reporters in the European Parliament.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland May Be Next to Face Junk After Portugal - Bloomberg

Ireland's credit rating may be cut to junk by Moody's Investors Service after Portugal yesterday lost its investment grade rating, according to analysts.

Moody, which slashed Portugal to Ba2 from Baa1, in April lowered Ireland's credit rating to the lowest investment grade Baa3 and left country's outlook on negative.

The ratings company cut Portugal's rating in part because the nation may not be able to return to debt markets in the second half of 2013. Ireland has been locked out of markets since September, and the yield on 10-year Irish bonds climbed to 12.44 percent today, a euro-area record for the country that agreed to a rescue package with the European Union and International Monetary Fund last November.

"If not re-entering the public funding markets has significance for a sovereign's rating, then clearly if our view proves correct, then Ireland will suffer an imminent downgrade," Cathal O'Leary, head of fixed income sales at Dublin-based NCB Stockbrokers, said in a note today.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not seeing quite enough of these European politicians expressing the required respect of their American overlords...

But seriously, why are the international rating agencies all in the U.S. of A.? One would think that Europe at least would have a say in how debt is evaluated, not to mention China...

by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 06:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the modern financial industry grew out of the US and (to a lesser extent) UK financial and academic communities.

It's like asking why (before AMD came along) the microprocessor business was monopolised by American firms like Intel and Motorola. Why, because the industry developed in the US.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 06:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's interesting. Maybe the rating system could be given to state agencies. Europe and China could rate the U.S. currency, China and the U.S. the Euro, etc. Spread the blame around a bit, eh?
by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the point of rating agencies is to get rid of all responsibility. They are only giving advice, they can't be blamed for anything, T´the financial sector isn't selling crap, it is selling AAA rated securities and the ECB is not making policy when it uses ratings to decide what collateral to accept.
by generic on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 08:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, in theory the rating institutions are making purely financial evaluations. But what if they decide that country X is not acting the way that the rating institution's head honcho wants it to act, and downgrades its paper based on that political reason instead. Maybe in the long run that rating agency becomes devalued, but in the meantime, country X is in big trouble...
by asdf on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 01:35:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. That's considered a feature, not a bug. Which part of "evading responsibility for their decisions" wasn't clear?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 05:26:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it an "industry" or a necessary regulatory function?

If the former, there is evident risk of malpractice in that the agencies pronounce judgement on their own clients. If the latter, why is this function not consigned to an international body?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 01:19:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Holes in the great train network | Presseurop (English)

Each day, a train 750 metres long leaves Barcelona station in Spain for Lyons in France. It moves at 40 kilometres per hour, which is slow, but speed isn't the primary virtue of rail freight. It will arrive at its destination in fifteen hours, a journey time only dreamed of a year ago. The line is aging and, in particular, there is a problem with the rail gauge which required moving the freight onto new cars at the French border. Madrid operates full steam ahead

The Spaniards worked at record speed to fix the rails and, in December, a first convoy of container cars crossed the Pyrenees. Scheduled at three per week at first, there are now seven per week, thus contributing to lower air pollution and reduced road traffic. Today Spain is considering doubling the convoy timetable, convinced that supply will create demand.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dual gauge rail infrastructure was common in Colorado between about 1880 to 1960. Standard gauge on the flat parts, three foot narrow gauge in the mountains, and dual gauge along the front range where the two intersected. Much of the original narrow gauge was gradually converted to standard, and the remainder was retired as road transportation replaced rail starting in the 1920s...

by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 06:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Electric Politics | The Little Ship That Shouldn't Have
Keeping in mind Sunday's capsizing and sinking of a tourist boat in the Sea of Cortez off Mexico, it's worth asking -- to be fair -- what sort of complaint the Greeks might have had. In fact, "The Audacity of Hope" is a Greek inter-island water taxi, a craft never designed nor intended for an open water voyage across the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the seating (apart from fixed benches for sight-seeing facing the railings) was outside, plastic chairs under an awning in the stern. No showers. Squat toilets. Just a couple bunks below. The American captain claims the vessel was seaworthy but if any kind of weather had come up I don't think anybody could say for sure whether the vessel would have survived. Not to mention, if it had ever reached Gaza, whether the vessel could have survived being boarded by Israeli commandos.

'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 Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:36:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: The crisis is back again in full force
A bad day for the eurozone's periphery, as bond markets react to Moody's latest downgrade of Portugal; Portugal's PM complains about a "punch into the stomach", as credit default swaps reached an all-time record of 914 points; EU government and the European Commission have threatened the rating agencies with reprisals; Michel Barnier was mooting the idea of a rating ban for countries subject to a European programme; the Paris meeting to improve the conditions of the French rollover plan descended into chaos; Wolfgang Schäuble relaunches his controversial bond swap plan given the no-compromise position of the ratings agencies; the Institute for International Finance proposes a bond buyback programme; George Papandreou sets up a cross-party committee to calm down political tensions; Christine Lagarde, in her first appearance as the IMF's MD, hints at lower interest rates for Ireland; she also calls on the Greeks to follow Portugal's example of a cross-party consensus in favour of reform; Schäuble seeks to increase privatisation revenues; Guido Bohsem attacks Schäuble for his failure to repair the German budget; Jean-Claude Trichet is today expected to announce his last interest rate increase; Wolfgang Proissl says ECB is engaged in a poker match to regain its credibility, but with uncertain outcome; the case against DSK continues after all; the affair is overshadowing Martine Aubry's presidential bid; Manuel Valls says the Socialist party's election manifesto was unrealistic; the Greek government, meanwhile, has invited Germany's president Christian Wulff to address the Greek parliament.
(Google link)

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 06:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am appalled at this article from the Bruegel think tank: EIP 1.0 - time to address macroeconomic imbalances forcefully! by Guntram B. Wolff on 7th July 2011
This column argues that the euro zone has no time to waste for structural reforms given the risk of default of Greece. The new excessive imbalance procedure (EIP) could play a crucial role in fostering such structural reforms. If needed, the Commission should start the EIP procedure as early as September should countries such as Spain not deliver on their reform commitments. The European Parliament and the public should monitor that the Regulation is applied forcefully and timely.
No concept at all of the crucial role surplus countries play in the generation and maintenance of Eurozone internal trade imbalances.
Policymakers have shown their resolve to significantly step up the governance of the euro area.  The so-called "six-pack" consisting of 6 pieces of legislation is in the final stage of becoming effective EU law: the trilogue discussions between the European Parliament, Council and Commission close to final. The remaining differences between the Council the positions of the European Parliament as voted on June 23 should as soon as possible be resolved so that the package can be implemented early. The six-pack has a completely new "Regulation for the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances" (EIP), which has the potential to revolutionize European governance.
Then he goes on about how the EU Commission should immediately intervene in Spain to impose "reform". The article ends with an afterthought in which reform of suplus countries' deflationary policies is also called "less urgent":
Finally, policy action to boost growth and domestic demand is also needed in current account surplus countries but the degree of urgency is smaller. The European Parliament and the public at large should hold the Commission and Council to account on these policy options. Let's make the EIP already a success in version 1.0 and not waste precious time.
I should note this is the second time in two months I take exception to an article by the same deputy director of a reputable economic think tank...

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 06:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article ends with an afterthought in which reform of suplus countries' deflationary policies is also called "less urgent":


by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 06:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 07:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruegel - The Brussels-based think tank | Guntram B. Wolff
Guntram Wolff's work focuses on global macroeconomics, finance, the euro area economy and governance and Germany. He has joined Bruegel from the European Commission's DG for Economic and Financial Affairs, where he worked on the macroeconomics of the euro area and the reform of euro area governance. Prior to joining the Commission he was an economist at the Deutsche Bundesbank focusing on German and EU public finances, sovereign bond markets and macroeconomics of EMU.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 08:01:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 09:39:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have now been invited by Wolfgang Munchau to publish a response on Eurointelligence.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2011 at 07:31:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 16th, 2011 at 02:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:43:29 AM EST
Lagarde to give China bigger IMF job | Reuters

(Reuters) - China is close to clinching a top-level post at the International Monetary Fund, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday after the IMF's new chief pledged to give more power to emerging economies.

IMF sources said Min Zhu, a Chinese national who was a special advisor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was expected to fill a new deputy managing director post to be created by Lagarde.

"Min Zhu is expected to be named to deputy managing director," an IMF board member told Reuters. The appointment would first need the approval of the IMF board.

Christine Lagarde on Wednesday vowed during her first news conference as IMF managing director to give developing nations a greater role in the fund and said she was considering creating a new high-level job that would be filled by a candidate from an emerging market country.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China May Pause After Third Rate Move as Wen Bets Inflation `Controllable' - Bloomberg

China may limit interest-rate increases for the rest of this year as Premier Wen Jiabao bets that a slowing economy will help tame inflation after five moves since mid-October.

A quarter-point boost to one-year lending and deposit rates from today may be the last for 2011, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co., HSBC Holdings Plc and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Nomura Holdings Inc. predicts one more move, this quarter.

The ruling Communist Party may delay further increases because of signs of weakness in manufacturing and export demand and to avoid attracting more speculative capital to the fastest- growing major economy. The central bank moved before a report that may show consumer prices rose more than 6 percent last month, the biggest gain since July 2008 and a likely peak for this year, according to JPMorgan.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Orszag: Why We Care About Price of Water in China - Bloomberg

An American trucker barreling down Interstate 95 bemoaning the high price of diesel fuel might never imagine that one of the things driving up his bill is the way water in China is being mispriced. But the truth is, water shortages are indirectly causing increased use of diesel generators for electricity in China, and that, in turn, is helping raise diesel prices in the U.S.

Smarter pricing could help China -- and the rest of the world -- avoid further problems allocating water resources, and mitigate some of the side effects.

Coal plants generate most of China's electricity. Hydropower is the second-biggest source. Water is clearly essential for hydropower, but a lot of it is needed for coal power, too -- to mine the raw material, to process it and then to cool the power plants that burn it. In 2010, coal-fired electricity in China used more than 30 trillion gallons (114 trillion liters) of water, or about 20 percent of the country's total consumption. And over the coming decade, roughly 40 percent of the nation's increase in water demand will be associated with coal power, China's Ministry of Water Resources says.

This development is exacerbating an already severe shortage in China. The country accounts for about 15 percent of the world's consumption of fresh water. Yet its supplies are limited, and pollution is a significant hazard.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:07:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
America and Europe sinking together | Presseurop (English)

In Washington they are arguing about a debt ceiling; in Brussels they are staring into a debt abyss. But the basic problem is the same. Both the US and the European Union have public finances that are out of control and political systems that are too dysfunctional to fix the problem. America and Europe are in the same sinking boat.

The debt debates underway in the US and the EU are so inward-looking and overwrought that surprisingly few people are making the connection. Yet the links that make this a generalised crisis of the west should be obvious.

On both sides of the Atlantic, it is now clear that much of the economic growth of the pre-crisis years was driven by an unsustainable and dangerous boom in credit. In the US it was homeowners who were at the centre of the crisis; in Europe, it was entire countries like Greece and Italy that took advantage of low interest rates to borrow unsustainably.

The financial crash of 2008 and its aftermath dealt a blow to state finances, as public debts soared. In both Europe and the US this one-off shock is compounded by demographic pressures that are increasing budgetary pressures, as the baby-boomers begin to retire.

Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, the economic crisis is polarising politics, so making it much harder to find rational solutions to the debt problem.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:57:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I"m no economics expert, but I would say this article is BS. The problem in the U.S. is an unwillingness to raise taxes--or, more precisely, to stop reducing them. A relatively small increase in our tax rates could easily support our (pathetic) public expenses, and a reduction in our massive defense budget would also provide relief. Our problem here is entirely the result of our own very short term thinking.

Europe's problem is completely different. The only similarity is that in both cases, the peons are going to get squashed first. Whether that will lead to the patricians being squashed later is left as an exercise for the political history student.

by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 06:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would think that the US has a second problem at least as large - the maintenance costs of an armed forces that is larger than the rest of the world combined.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:46:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That will change, as corporations employ larger mercenary groups to provide "security" at home and abroad.  It'll be a gold mine.  Hey, somebody has to protect us from those terrorists...
by altoid (tom.casadecampanas AT gmail dotcom) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:50:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone's a Helot Now | The Agonist

It remains to be seen whether the French bank proposal will be part of the rescue package for Greece. We know that the Greek parliament has approved further austerity measures for the country, and we know that the German banks are anxious to join in on the French bank plan, which can't be good news for the Greek population. Greeks are already suffering unemployment near 17%, almost a doubling from a year ago. The medical system is slowly shutting down as doctors will only accept patients who can pay with cash. The agriculture industry is having trouble planting crops because government subsidies are now cut back sharply or canceled altogether, and this despite the fact that there is a noticeable exodus out of the cities and to the countryside as people look for a plot of land to feed themselves. The elderly, who cannot move to the countryside, are scrounging garbage cans in Athens and other cities to fend off starvation, since their pensions are no longer being paid.

The IMF and its sister institutions must be pleased that it is able to extract so much more collateral damage, though how this will help Greece pay back the new amount of debt that is being piled on is anybody's guess. Actually, it's no guess at all - the Greeks can't pay it back. That's the point of being a debt slave.

That's the whole point of the global financial system. It didn't used to be this way, and it certainly wasn't intended to turn out this way when the IMF was formed 66 years ago. Way back then, the IMF was intended to be a supranational lender of last resort for countries which got into balance of payments trouble. In those long ago days, commercial banks were considered utilities, because credit was considered a social utility every bit as important as electricity or water. Banks had caps placed on the interest rates they could charge, and the business provided a steady but unexciting return on capital for its shareholders. The only thing bankers had to do was understand and monitor the risks they were bringing on to their balance sheet (there was no off-balance-sheet hocus pocus going on either). All that changed somewhere in the 1970s or 1980s, when banks decided their ROEs should be 15% at a minimum (very nice that was for executive bonuses), which means they weren't utilities anymore. The regulators acquiesced or encouraged them every step of the way, until one day they discovered the banks owned them.

'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 Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 07:39:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is, the conniving is done in the open. There's nothing deceitful about it. No one cares. So when the writer says there is massive conniving with the banks, it leaves out the part that the conniving is done in the open, that the Goldman deal was announced in the trades, that Eurostat knew about it and wrote about how such swaps should be counted as debt, that a great many other countries including Germany had engaged in the same swaps, that we are talking about 1 billion of Greece's huge debt. It's a stretch to say that this is the deception that sunk Greece. After all, because of this conniving deal, Greece was admitted with a 4% deficit in 2002, and a few years later, the cap went up when Germany and France blew through it. Beyond that, Greece was running a surplus by 2005, so it would have been admitted anyway.

When European leaders say Greece should have never admitted, they are saying two things which contradict the austerity measures:

  1. Greece should have never been admitted in 2005 despite running a surplus, and thereby there is a bias against them since they met the criteria.

  2. Greece should leave the eurozone forthwith.
by Upstate NY on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 03:20:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com: ECB raises interest rates to 1.5% (Google link)
Part of the reason why the ECB's strategy has diverged from that of the Bank of England and US Fed is because the euro's monetary guardian wants to boost its credibility at a time when the eurozone debt crisis has forced it to make a number of compromises to avoid the collapse of banking systems in the periphery countries.
Words fail.


ECB Faces New Credibility Test - WSJ.com
The European Central Bank, still trying to restore its reputation after a series of policy reversals last year, will face a new test of its credibility in the coming weeks if it is forced to decide whether to cut Greek banks off from its funding facility.

At issue is whether Greek bond rollover proposals under consideration by the private sector and governments are deemed a default by rating agencies. If that occurs, ECB officials have warned Greek debt will be rejected as backing for the ECB loans that are crucial to that country's banks.

If the ECB were to change course again to save the banking system, it would do even deeper damage to its reputation and freedom from political pressure than last year's reversals on its collateral rules and stance on buying government bonds, analysts say.

The ECB is being trolled, but can't see it.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 10:05:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it would do even deeper damage to its reputation and freedom from political pressure

Because there's been none of that from the ratings agencies, has there?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 10:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Central bank independence is now clearly a concept invented for the sole purpose of destroying the state, and is closely related to the idea that political action by the state is illegitimate, while political pressure exerted through the market is legitimate.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 10:38:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the state. Democracy. Someone still has to swing the batons after all.
by generic on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 02:01:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 06:14:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're an economist, democracy was rendered obsolete by Arrow's impossibility theorem.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 07:47:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:43:48 AM EST
WTO backs EU complaint against China's mineral quotas | EurActiv

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled yesterday (5 July) that China's export restrictions on a series of key industrial minerals are not justified on environmental grounds and should be lifted.

The case was initiated by the EU and the US, in June 2009, amid concerns over access for their high-tech industries to key raw materials, such as bauxite and magnesium, used to produce steel, aluminium and chemical products.

The reports by the WTO expert panel show that China has not respected commitments made upon its accession to the organisation in 2001, when it undertook to eliminate all export duties - except for a number of products listed separately - and promised not to apply export quotas.

The trade body is therefore requesting China to make sure that its measures conform with its international obligations.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:15:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On a slightly related note, the IEEE Power and Energy section has realized that the widespread use of specialized high strength magnets poses a risk if materials shortages occur, and they are thinking now of alternative motor and generator designs. "One alternative is induction motors, now used by Tesla and some heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers. Other machine technologies, such as the switched reluctance motor, hold out the promise of replacing some of the current machine technologies in future hybrid and electric power trains due to the absence of permanent magnets in their design and their lower cost, fault-tolerant capabilities, and extended-speed, constant-power operation." [IEEE Power & Energy Magazine, July/August 2011]
by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 06:54:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Crimes against humanity' claims in Syria - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Syria has drawn strong condemnation for its deadly crackdown on protesters in the central city of Hama, with human rights campaigners hinting at the possibility of the country's leaders being tried for crimes against humanity.

Tuesday's attack in Hama killed 22 people and left more than 80 wounded as troops pushed through improvised road blocks made by residents, according to human rights groups.

As international condemnation piled on Syria, Amnesty International said a deadly siege in May in Talkalakh, which lasted less than a week, may have amounted to crimes against humanity as a result of deaths of protesters in custody, torture and arbitrary detention.

"The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in [Talkalakh] paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

"Most of the crimes described in this report would fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But the UN Security Council must first refer the situation in Syria to the court's prosecutor."

The London-based rights group's report, which was released on Wednesday, said the attacks "appear to be part of a widespread, as well as systematic, attack against the civilian population".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:37:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghan civilians killed by British drone - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

A British Royal Air Force (RAF) drone has killed four Afghan civilians and injured two more during an attack on a Taliban commander, the British ministry of defence has confirmed.

The UK defence department verified a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, which revealed that four civilians died when a Reaper drone being controlled from a US Air force base in Nevada attacked a truck carrying a known commander.

"On 25 March, a UK Reaper was tasked to engage and destroy two pick up trucks," the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

"Sadly, four Afghan civilians were also killed and a further two Afghan civilians were injured," added the ministry "with deep regret".

Two fighters were also killed in the attack.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plane crashes into Afghanistan mountain - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

Afghan officials say a cargo plane has crashed into a mountain in eastern Afghanistan.

Sayed Aleem Agha, the top official in Sayagred district of Parwan province, north of the capital, Kabul, said on Wednesday that the plane hit a mountain peak on Tuesday morning.

Agha said he fears that crew members were killed, but that rescue workers had not yet arrived at the remote crash site.

...British Major Tim James, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, said the plane, which crashed about 3,800 metres (12,500 feet) up the mountain, was not a coalition aircraft.

He also said there was no fighting reported in the area.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:41:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BRAZIL: The 'Happiest' Emerging Nation - IPS ipsnews.net
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jul 6, 2011 (IPS) - The reputation of Brazilians as cheerful, happy-go-lucky people is starting to be reflected in the cold reality of statistics. A study has put numbers to that state of well-being by quantifying the significant reduction in social inequality in the last few years, an area in which South America's giant has outdone other emerging nations.

The study, "Os emergentes dos Emergentes", presented by the Getulio Vargas Foundation's Centre for Social Policies with support from the Inter-American Development Bank, compares Brazil's economic and social performance with that of Russia, India, China and South Africa, the other members of the so-called BRICS group of nations.

These emerging countries are home to over half of the world's poor. But according to investment bank Goldman Sachs, by 2050 the combined size of the BRICS economies will exceed that of the Group of 7 richest countries.

Based on data from the Gallup World Poll 2009 on "the degree of life satisfaction," the coordinator of the study, Marcelo Neri, compared the "happiness index" of the BRICS countries, and found that on a scale of 0 to 10, Brazil has a rate of 8.7, South Africa and Russia 5.2, and China and India 4.5.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Libyan rebels push towards Tripoli on two fronts | Reuters

(Reuters) - Rebel fighters seized a village south of the Libyan capital and another group advanced toward Tripoli from the east on Wednesday in the biggest push in weeks toward Muammar Gaddafi's main stronghold.

Rebels firing their rifles into the air in celebration poured into the village of Al-Qawalish, just over 100 km (60miles) southwest of Tripoli, after a six-hour battle with pro-Gaddafi forces who had been holding the town.

Rushing through an abandoned checkpoint where government troops had left tents and half-eaten bread in their rush to get away, the rebels ripped down green pro-Gaddafi flags, said a Reuters reporter in the village.

Farther north, on Libya's Mediterranean coast, rebels pushed westwards from the city of Misrata, taking them to within about 13 km of the center of the neighboring town of Zlitan, where large numbers of pro-Gaddafi forces are based.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:46:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Opposition-led strike in Bangladesh turns violent | Reuters

(Reuters) - At least 50 people were injured in Bangladesh in clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday, the first day of a two-day strike called by opposition parties to protest against the abolition of a system of holding national elections under a non-partisan caretaker administration.

Police detained nearly a dozen activists from former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami party during the strike which partially disrupted transport and business across the country.

The injured included Jainal Abedin Faruk, a senior BNP leader, who police officer Kazi Wazed Ali said attacked security forces trying to prevent a street march in the capital, Dhaka.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 03:47:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MIDEAST: Germany to Deliver Weapons to Saudi Arabia - IPS ipsnews.net
BERLIN, Jul 6, 2011 (IPS) - The decision by the German government to deliver 200 state-of-the-art armoured tanks to Saudi Arabia, despite the Wahhabi monarchy's human rights record and its recent violent intervention in Bahrain to repress the popular rebellion against the local ruling family there, illustrates the rhetorical nature of Western support to the so called Arab democratic spring.

The German ruling coalition, formed by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP), unofficially confirmed Jul. 6 that it has approved the export of 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia, for an estimated value of 1.8 billion Euros.

Anonymous official sources, quoted by numerous German news outlets, said that the delivery of the Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia was supported by the U.S. and the Israeli governments. The Saudi regime "is a pillar of stability in the Middle East... [and] is also a strong ally in the war against terrorism," these government sources said.

At the same time, the German government rejected appeals by opposition leaders, and numerous political analysts, to call off the deal on human rights grounds.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:11:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti --  The creation of a truth commission would help promote reconciliation for Haitian victims who suffered during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, a U.N. human rights official said Tuesday. The U.N.'s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, said at a press conference that the panel wouldn't replace ongoing efforts to prosecute Duvalier, a former despot known as "Baby Doc," but would work alongside them.

MercoPress: Chile's President Sebastián Piñera, beset by mass student protests over education standards and costs which are threatening his legislative agenda, proposed a 4 billion US dollars fund for higher education.

Guatemala: Last month two mayoral candidates for the municipality of San José Pinula were murdered. (...) A few days later mayoral candidate Luis Marroquin of the Renewed Democratic Freedom party (LIDER) was shot and injured. He survived because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Today, Guatemalan authorities arrested Luis Marroquin. He is accused of having orchestrated his two competitors' murders and then faking the attack against him.

Americas Quarterly: Peruvian President-Elect Ollanta Humala will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and likely President Barack Obama--depending on Obama's schedule--in Washington DC on Wednesday.  The trip marks the first top-level contact between the United States and the president-elect, who will take power on July 28. The meetings will touch on Peru's recent economic growth, the free-trade agreement with the U.S.--which Humala has publicly opposed--as well as joint efforts to combat drug trafficking.

Colombia Reports: Authorities in the north of Colombia have arrested an alleged member of the neo-paramilitary group "Los Urabeños" for Tuesday's assassination of an indigenous leader, local media reported Wednesday.

Colombia Reports: The minister of education announced Wednesday that the government will nearly double the budget for higher education.

Honduran Military Patrols Rural Regions To Fight Drug Traffickers; Employs Brazilian Planes: The Honduran military announced earlier this week that it would now be patrolling rural regions in an effort to bump up security in the country with the highest homicide rate in the Western Hemisphere.

An Interview with Adrienne Pine: Foundations and Social Change.
Daily Headlines: July 6, 2011 from The Latin Americanist.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 05:41:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:44:13 AM EST
Farm animal disease to increase with climate change

Researchers looked at changes in the behaviour of bluetongue - a viral disease of cattle and sheep - from the 1960s to the present day, as well as what could happen to the transmission of the virus 40 years into the future. They found, for the first time, that an outbreak of a disease could be explained by changes to the climate.

In Europe, more than 80,000 outbreaks of bluetongue were reported to the World Animal Health Organisation between 1998 and 2010, and millions of animals died as a result of the disease.

Bluetongue was previously restricted to Africa and Asia, but its emergence in Europe is thought to be linked to increased temperatures, which allows the insects that carry the virus to spread to new regions and transmit the virus more effectively.

Researchers produced a mathematical model that explains how the risk of an outbreak of bluetongue virus in Europe changes under different climate conditions.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:29:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rising Temperatures Melting Away Global Food Security - IPS ipsnews.net
Analysis by Lester R. Brown*

WASHINGTON, Jul 6, 2011 (IPS) - Heat waves clearly can destroy crop harvests. The world saw high heat decimate Russian wheat in 2010. Crop ecologists have found that each one-degree Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum can reduce grain harvests by 10 percent. But the indirect effects of higher temperatures on our food supply are no less serious.

Rising temperatures are already melting the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Recent studies indicate that a combination of melting ice sheets and glaciers, plus the thermal expansion of the ocean as it warms could raise sea level by up to six feet during this century.

Yet even a three-foot rise in sea level would sharply reduce the rice harvest in Asia, a region home to over half the world's people that grows 90 percent of the world's rice. It would inundate half the riceland in Bangladesh and submerge part of the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam. Viet Nam, second only to Thailand as a rice exporter, could lose its exportable rice surplus.

This would leave the 20 or so countries that import rice from Viet Nam looking elsewhere. Numerous other rice-growing river deltas in Asia would be submerged in varying degrees.

While the ice sheets are melting, so too are mountain glaciers. The snow and ice masses in the world's mountain ranges and the water they store are taken for granted simply because they have been there since before agriculture began. Now we risk losing the "reservoirs in the sky" on which so many farmers and cities depend.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 04:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bachmann: Energy is `the most easy problem for America to solve' | Grist

During a campaign event at Iowa's world-famous (?) Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor & Museum this past weekend, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said that energy is "the most easy problem for America to solve." How, you ask?

We have 25 percent of the world's coal here. Trillions of cubic square feet of natural gas here. We just built one of the world's largest lines of natural gas here. We have got more oil in three Western states in shale oil than all of Saudi Arabia. Did you hear that on your local nightly news? Are you kidding? We've got it. I say let's go get it.

Now, it's true that Bachmann is always saying crazy sh*t. But this is not Tea Party fringe talk. This is the heart and soul of GOP energy policy. It is their one and only answer to the problem of energy: dig up more fossil fuels. Easy!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:33:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grist List

Fox News is patting itself on the back for "inspiring" a recent study showing that China's sulfur output has been masking the effects of global warming. They point to an interview that lead researcher Robert Kaufmann did with the BBC, where he said he looked into the issue because an old man told him Fox News said the planet was cooling. Hooray, Fox News got mentioned on a real news site! Break out the Confederate flag party hats! Too bad the rest of that article is about Kaufmann making that old man, and his Fox News overlords, look pretty silly indeed.

See, the study found that this brief drop in temperatures, long the darling of Fox News and other deniers, was actually the result of short-term coal pollution effects temporarily covering up long-term carbon emissions. Skeptics have been excitedly pointing out this period of slowed warming for a while, citing it as evidence that everyone's exaggerating. Turns out, nope: In fact, the extent of the carbon problem is just being masked by the sulfur problem. Here's how Kaufmann sums it up in that selfsame BBC article:

People can choose not to believe in [man-made] climate change -- but the correct term here is 'belief' - believing is an act of faith, whereas science is a testing of hypotheses and seeing whether they hold up against real world data.

Even before this paper there wasn't much scientific evidence for denying climate change, and now I don't see any credible scientific contradiction -- if people don't believe it, it'll be because they choose not to believe it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:35:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain's richest man to build giant Arctic iron ore mine - News - The Ecologist
Lakshmi Mittal's 'mega-mine' is believed to be the largest mineral extraction project in the region but threatens unique wildlife

Britain's richest man is planning a giant new opencast mine 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle in a bid to extract a potential $23bn (£14bn) worth of iron ore.

The "mega-mine" - which includes a 150km railway line and two new ports - is believed to be the largest mineral extraction project in the Arctic and highlights the huge commercial potential of the far north as global warming makes industrial development in the region easier.

The billionaire steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who is behind the project, wants to exploit a commodity whose value has doubled due to soaring demand from China and India.

But the wildlife group WWF, describes the planned mine as a "game changer" and a test case that could affect all future industrialisation of the far north. 'It is certainly ... of a scale that would be massive anywhere in the world,' said Martin von Mirbach, a director of the Arctic programme at WWF in Canada. WWF is demanding the company proceeds with extreme caution.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:40:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Although, as Mittl is acutally indian, he might more accurately be described as the richest man currently enjoying the "relaxed" taxation which the united Kingdom affords to the mega-rich

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 10:42:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan's government plans to conduct stress tests at all of the country's nuclear power plants on the initiative of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Kan on Tuesday night instructed industry minister Banri Kaieda to conduct the tests. Kaieda announced the plan on Wednesday morning.

The tests are to be carried out in response to concerns expressed by residents around nuclear plants that are still not operating after regular inspections.

The tests are to be modeled on simulations introduced by the European Union for its nuclear power plants following the Fukushima nuclear accident.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:42:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SOUTH AFRICA: Scientists Find Green Method to Purify Toxic Water - IPS ipsnews.net
CAPE TOWN , Jul 6, 2011 (IPS) - South African scientists have developed an environmentally friendly method to clean highly toxic water and convert it into drinkable water. Once available commercially, the method could drastically reduce the negative impact industry has on water pollution worldwide.

Called eutectic freeze crystallisation, the technique freezes acidic water - or brine - to produce potable or drinking water as well as useful salts, such as sodium and calcium sulphate.

Alison Lewis, professor for chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, who has led the research since 2007, claims 99.9 percent of the polluted water can be reused after applying the new technique. Unlike other water cleaning methods, it practically doesn't produce any toxic waste.

"It's an environmentally friendly and cost-effective technology that can be used pretty much in all industrial sectors that pollute water and thus produce brine," explains Lewis. This includes sectors like mining, the oil and gas industry, chemical industry, paper processing or sewerage.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brilliant idea, let's hope it can be made commercially viable soon.

It would certainly change the game regarding water supply in the SE of the UK where the London basin, a clay bed 100 m underground, is filling up with water that is heavily polluted by London's industrial past.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 10:45:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
INDIA: Unfazed by Nuclear Suppliers' New Rules - IPS ipsnews.net
NEW DELHI, Jul 6, 2011 (IPS) - Confident in the large market it offers to the world's nuclear suppliers, India has decided to shrug off new restrictions by a 46-nation cartel on the transfer of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technologies that potentially have military applications.

India, which has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) on the grounds that it is discriminatory, pulled off a diplomatic coup in 2008 by securing a special waiver from the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Except for the five officially recognised atomic weapons states, all countries are required to place their nuclear sites under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Following a plenary in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the NSG announced on Jun. 24 that it would "strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies," diluting the clean waiver granted to India and exempting it from full-scope international safeguards.

Nuclear energy experts in India told IPS that the NSG's move may be prompted by commercial concerns and an attempt to squeeze India into buying nuclear equipment in a market rapidly narrowing down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

"Even before Fukushima, India and China were the only countries with major plans to expand nuclear power generation. And now, with China switching to renewable energy, India is the only major buyer left," says Praful Bidwai, a member of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation.

"In spite of the many failures of the French supplier Areva, which have resulted in the recent sacking of its CEO, Anne Lauvergeon, India is going ahead with a deal to buy six of its European Pressurised Reactors for the world's biggest ever nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra," Bidwai said. "But for the India deal Areva may have to shut shop."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 11:06:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:44:34 AM EST
DLR scientists support expedition with a highly accurate 3D model of mountain

Considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world and, at 8000 metres high, the most difficult to climb, K2 lies on the border between Pakistan and China. For scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), it is the perfect place for testing the latest processes for converting satellite data into 3D models. For mountaineers Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits, DLR's 3D model provides an ideal opportunity to plan and analyse their ascent of K2 at the end of June.

K2, in the Karakoram mountain range, is difficult terrain for both mountaineers and the researchers at the DLR Earth Observation Center (EOC). For high-altitude mountaineers, K2 is one of the most challenging mountains; for Stefan Dech, Director of the German Remote Sensing Data Center (Deutsches Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum; DFD) at DLR, the 8000-metre mountain is the most challenging relief on Earth.

"The flanks of K2 are very steep, and the high contrast between ice, snow and dark rock complicates the process of using optical data from space to create a highly-accurate 3D model."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:39:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Homo Sapiens, Meet Your New Astounding Family | Human Evolution | DISCOVER Magazine

We walk this earth--we, this unparalleled experiment in evolution--reflexively assuming we are the crown of creation. Certainly we are rare and strange: As biological anthropologist Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University says, "The chances that a creature like us will ever happen again are so small that I can't even measure them."

But that ascent-of-man picture is looking as dated as the flat earth. A series of scientific and technological breakthroughs have altered much of our fundamental understanding of human evolution. In the new view, the path to Homo sapiens was amazingly dilatory and indirect. Along the way, our planet witnessed many variations on the human form, multiple migrations out of Africa, interspecies trysts, and extinctions that ultimately wiped out all hominid species except one (pdf). "Human evolution used to seem simple and linear," says paleoanthropologist William Jungers of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "Now, you look at almost any time slice and you see diversity. We may be special and we may be lucky, but we're far from the only human experiment."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:48:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.N. Women's Agency Being "Strangled at Birth" - IPS ipsnews.net
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - When the United Nations inaugurated a landmark special agency for women last January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set an initial target of 500 million dollars as the proposed annual budget for the new gender-empowered body.

But nearly six months later, the voluntary funding for U.N. Women (UNW) from the 192 member states has remained painfully slow.

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed disappointment over the funding shortfall.

Nearly six months after its operationalisation, the actual contributions and pledges received are modest and only around 80 million dollars, he said.

"This is not commensurate with the aspiration and ambition assigned to U.N. Women," he complained.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 10:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Göbekli Tepe - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine

Guides call out instructions and explanations. Paying no attention, the visitors straggle up the hill. When they reach the top, their mouths flop open with amazement, making a line of perfect cartoon O's.

Before them are dozens of massive stone pillars arranged into a set of rings, one mashed up against the next. Known as Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh), the site is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals--a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture--the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.

At the time of Göbekli Tepe's construction much of the human race lived in small nomadic bands that survived by foraging for plants and hunting wild animals. Construction of the site would have required more people coming together in one place than had likely occurred before. Amazingly, the temple's builders were able to cut, shape, and transport 16-ton stones hundreds of feet despite having no wheels or beasts of burden. The pilgrims who came to Göbekli Tepe lived in a world without writing, metal, or pottery; to those approaching the temple from below, its pillars must have loomed overhead like rigid giants, the animals on the stones shivering in the firelight--emissaries from a spiritual world that the human mind may have only begun to envision.

the 'electric politics' podcast series with george kenney had an interview with an expert on this site a few weeks ago, which was fascinating. i had no idea this place existed.

'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 Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read an article in National Geographic on the site a couple of weeks ago.  When I was sitting in a dentist waiting room.  (Doesn't that figure.)

For some reason the NatGeo writer was all a-twitter over the fact our ancestors were rather good at carving limestone.  I don't know why, exactly.  We've got evidence from all over the world of objects like:

which is flint worked so fine it is translucent.  There's no reason to do that, from a utilitarian POV, but the things sure are purty.

The cave paintings of Lascaux et. al. give additional evidence that modern humans plain & fancy "do" Art.

And, it turns out, hunter-gatherers only spent about 20 hours a week hunting and gathering with the rest of the time making tools, using the tools to make things like beads, and doing the social interaction thing.  Hunter-gatherers had their problems but being overburdened by "making a living" wasn't one of them.

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

by ATinNM on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 09:09:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
on the news yesterday there was a blip about job satisfaction. While my Finnish still isn't very good, what I thought I heard was that there was a survey conducted amongst workers here in Finland, and the job which rated highest and offered the most job satisfaction was working with cows. I can dig that, cows are generally very sweet and they don't hassle anybody. If anything, I bet working around them would reduce stress rather than increase it. But what was most interesting was the film clip that accompanied the piece where they showed some pictures of cows. My, I never knew cows had such long tongues. I was absolutely mesmerized watching them twist those things around. It was amazing.  
by sgr2 on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 08:44:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nd the job which rated highest and offered the most job satisfaction was working with cows.


that reminds me of studs terkel's book 'working' in which he interviews workers in all walks of life, and the happiest was a stone carver.

sure makes a bit of a joke of our education system, huh!
unless happiness is just another externality...

'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 Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 05:15:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that the world 11,600 years ago was a very different place, sea levels were 100 metres lower for a start, it's difficult to know what technology was available.

As with the beginnings of our own civilisation, I imagine that their major cities and centres of population were by the sea, a situation that would have caused one or two problems when the ice caps collapsed catastrophically, as they are supposed to have done 7000 years ago. Probably leading to, not just a collapse of civilisation, but a complete loss of knowledge.

I know Graham Hancock is a fruit-loop with his sub-von Daniken drivel, but he actually has done some valuable work establishing that there are substantial cities deep underwater where the shoreline would have been back then. It is reasonable to surmise that, if there were cities, then this sort of carving would have been technically feasible.

One story Hancock reports, give it as much credence as you like, is that people in the south west foothills of the himalayas have a flood legend which talks of a city flooding and chasing the people up the valley of the Sarasvarti river (roughly where the Indus is).

The Black sea is supposed to have flooded in a week, a speed which you cannot out-walk. You'd need a boat, preferably one big enough to put all your animals in (but not ducks)

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 7th, 2011 at 11:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:44:57 AM EST
NASA - On the Edge
On the Edge

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 Jul 6th, 2011 at 05:42:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After this last shuttle flight, NASA should be renamed back to NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) and spend its energy working on aerodynamics problems. Those fast trains Dodo is always going on about have huge aerodynamic issues, and the microdrones suggested by the dragonfly in the picture will also require advances in aerodynamics.

Space travel is dead as of a couple of weeks from now. Americans won't be interested in watching astronauts using Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station, and funding will dry up. The only remaining question is how we're going to get it down without hitting anything...

by asdf on Wed Jul 6th, 2011 at 07:26:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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