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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 5 January

by afew Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 04:02:26 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1895 - French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:46:11 AM EST
BBC News - Germany's President Wulff rejects resignation calls

Germany's President Christian Wulff says he will not resign over his conduct in a home loan scandal.

He has come under increasing pressure after it emerged he had threatened a newspaper with legal action if it published details about the controversial loan.

In a recorded TV interview, Mr Wulff said the threat was a "serious mistake" for which he was sorry.

When asked whether he had considered stepping down, he replied: "No."



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:23:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German president faces widening scandal | EurActiv

Wulff is also a Christian Democrat with close ties to Merkel.

The Free Democrats (FDP), the junior partners in Merkel's coalition, say it is up to the president to set the record straight. "I am confident he will succeed," FDP Secretary-General Patrick Döring said on Tuesday as quoted by Deutsche Welle.

Wulff's election in June 2010 was already a humiliation for Merkel. The post of president is largely ceremonial in Germany and the head of state is elected by parliament. However, it took three rounds of voting to elect Wulff, and in the first round 44 members of Merkel's party voted against him in a major blow to her leadership.

Wulff's predecessor, Horst Köhler, unexpectedly resigned on 31 May 2010 following a 'misplaced comment' he made about German military action abroad.

This is not the first time that Wulff tried to suppress a media report in his presidential capacity, German media reported. In June 2011, Wulff is said to have tried to make the Welt am Sonntag newspaper drop a story about his half-sister.

The Financial Times Deutschland said Wulff is not up to the job of German president and called for him to resign.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 03:01:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wulff is taking advantage of the current political situation, where Merkel and her ruling coalition can't afford to lose a second president, especially after the embarrassment of the 3 votes it took to get him in. But behind the scenes the damage is already done, and even in the coalition the situation is not quiet.

Wulff did apologize again, on tonight's nation-wide primetime broadcast (which i did not see), but then claimed he was just trying to protect his family, as anyone would do. Against the infernal media. Classic victimhood attempt. He even said he was just trying to buy some time for further discussion with his calls to the media chiefs.

BILD has already publicly called bullshit. Spiegel documented the victimhood story, and their commentator thinks he'll probably survive, giving us more banality in a banal situation from a banal president.

i suppose it depends on the opposition. I'd say what i think is going on, but i'm just not expert enough in bundespolitik to make a call.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:10:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although i will say that a real leader, or a Mohawk leader, would have already taken the ceremonial deer horns from his head. either because he knew it was right, or because he knew the women would take them from his head, as they had the right of impeachment. (the women could call the warriors on the third attempt, if the first two requests they made had failed.)

I can't believe such blatant disrespect for the office is allowed to continue, showing once again, that real power is wielded by small minds.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:31:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wulff won't resign as long as he can put up with the fact that nobody takes him seriously any longer. Here is some fun: the speech he should have given and everybody knew in advance he wouldn't give.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL2T30O2NQs&feature=player_embedded

An interesting question is why the press (Springer's Bild at that) is blurting out the affair just now.

by Katrin on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:43:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah (though it will take me a few listens to get it all.)

And a very interesting question, why now? Who's to gain, what?

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:12:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A new coalition, perhaps? If a SPD candidate becomes president, Merkel could remain chancellor in a grand coalition.
by Katrin on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have thought that the SPD would have realised by now that grand coalitions are an electoral and political cul-de-sac.

Then again, this is the SPD we're talking about.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:02:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly, it's the SPD we are talking about. A grand coalition is an opportunity to pursue the politics they like best AND to blame their coalition partner for it. What more do they want?
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:20:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just before the calls to Bild were leaked, in best defeatist tradition, SPD boss Sigmar Gabriel declared that it wouldn't be good if Wulff resigned now (arguing that two early resignations of Presidents would be a bad thing)...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:45:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I may interrupt your social democrats hating for a moment - has anybody shouted socialfascist yet? - the motivation of Gabriel is quite simple:

  1. Wulff cuold well fall anyway, so playing above all gaisn cheap staetmans like points

  2. the federal assembly would now elect another CDU(CSU/FDP candidate

  3. a lingering on of the crisis can only damage the coalition and further the chances od SPD and greens to win in Schleswig-Holstein in may.

Cynical, yes. But probably right and hardly defeatist.
by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:41:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe so, but before the telephone call scandal, it didn't seem to me as if Wulff was about to fall, and Gabriel's intervention only seemed to take the wind out of the loan scandal.

To Gabriel's credit, now I am reading that he is attacking again, and in fact attacking Merkel (saying that after Wulff's second unsatisfactory television address, this is a Causa Merkel rather than a Causa Wulff).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about Peer Crass Keynesianism Steinbrück for President of Austeristan?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:59:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No chance. He wants a political role, which as president he would not have. We would be rid of him for good.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Here's how to embed a Youtube vid on ET: type this:

((youtube dL2T30O2NQs))

The code that identifies each video is the sequence after "v=". Ignore any "&...." whatever that may follow.

More on video embedding macros in the User Guide.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:38:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you. That sounds as complicated as I suspected. Sigh. I'll try next time.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not so sure. I think trying to strongarm the newspapers is going to turn out to be a bigger deal than the shady loans.

You know you're in trouble when the Bildzeitung acts classier than you do.

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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:15:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's always the coverup that damns the criminal.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:54:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A taz summary of Bild comments on Wulff over the past 12 years suggests that they got sour on him for his comment on Islam and for dropping Sarrazin.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't believe in that spin. The president isn't important. If he is attacked, the government is meant.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why would Bild attack a center-right government?

That be would be quite unusual.

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bild attacks THIS centre-right government.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:08:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You think they hope Merkel or the coalition could fall over this? I think that's far-fetched.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This government won't win a election again. If the CDU wants a chancellor who can (perhaps) win another term, it must be a new one, not Merkel.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:06:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe true maybe not, but how does that fit into Bild's actions according to you?

(Besides, always the pessimist, I'm not so sure about that. Merkel's poll numbers rose in recent months, ZDF saw her on top last month. As for parties, while the FDP is stable below the 5% limit, I'd never discount the 'help' of CDU voters – while some voters see the Pirates melting away. 2013 is too far away to assume that there won't be a conservative comeback, IMHO.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:21:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The gains of the CDU don't compensate the FDP's losses. We will see if Merkel's modernisation of the CDU has the result she aimed at: catching some young voters. The common CDU voter is old and will not take part in too many elections anymore...
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:42:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting question is why the press (Springer's Bild at that) is blurting out the affair just now.

How did it happen? How did the scandal originally break out? Is it possible that it was really a minor issue stupendously mismanaged by Wulff himself?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wulff clearly mismanaged the affair, but Bild does not publish embarassing stories about the president by chance or without the knowledge of the chief editors. They did it on purpose.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC Bild leaked the story to FAZ three weeks after it occured, and then "confirmed" the media reports with additional details. And now they are stirring the pot: they requested Wulff's permission to publish the transscript, Wulf refused (saying that his saying sorry three days after the threatening calls should be enough), which Bild 'reported' with the comment that they are sorry that Wullf doesn't keep to the transparency he promised himself (so no mistake there, they are clearly shooting him down).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:42:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC Bild leaked the story to FAZ three weeks after it occured

You mean the story about the phone threats? But when and how did the loan story become a scandal?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:15:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The original loan story was published by Bild (that's what he tried to prevent with the phone calls), on 13 December, but further details were dug up by other media, as well as his for-free holidays and second questionable loan (used to repay the first loan).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:28:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From Spiegel also on December 13: German President Denies Misleading State Parliament
The mass-circulation Bild newspaper alleged that Wulff had not given the whole truth in a response to a parliamentary question put to him in 2010, when he was still governor of the northern state of Lower Saxony, about whether he had business ties with the businessman Egon Geerkens.

The report said Wulff's office had declared at the time that there were no business links with Geerkens. The question had been submitted by two regional members of parliament with the opposition Green Party.

According to Bild, however, Wulff and his wife Bettina had received a loan of €500,000 ($660,000) from Geerkens' wife Edith in order to buy a home.

Why did this story surface now, rather than back in 2010?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:32:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why did this story surface now, rather than back in 2010?

Yes. Why oh why?

by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:35:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading your link to Bild, it is apparent that someone must have leaked a copy of the private contract between Frau Geerkens and Wulff. But that someone has to be in the close entourage of either of the two couples.
Der Bundespräsident steht nach BILD vorliegenden Dokumenten im Verdacht, am 18. Februar 2010 den Landtag in Hannover getäuscht zu haben
Has Bild later published the documents, like newspapers sometimes do in these cases?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:42:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. They had sued to get permission to see the land register for that house. The loan is entered there.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:44:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This seems to me a case of Caesar's wife must not only be honest but appear honest, grossly mismanaged.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:32:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To what extent is it illegal in Germany for a public official to accept gifts?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:48:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Niedersachsen bans everything that could have a relation to the office someone holds. Wulff says his relationship to Geerkens is entirely private, that's why the loan is okay. But why did Geerkens accompany him on several official travels then? It stinks. Probably it's more than just bad style, some experts (von Arnim is a renowned one) say it's corruption in the sense of criminal law.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, shortly after Wulff failed to disclose his loan to the NS parliament, he sought a loan from a private banking outfit in Stuttgart, and it appears that he was recommended to the bank as a client by Geerkens.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:28:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The BW-Bank is a public sector bank partly owned by the state of Baden-Würtemberg. Of course back then a Baden-Württemberg was governed by a CDU/FDP coalition, leading to further problems.

Or do you talk about yet another bank I missed?

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:05:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I mean BW.

What is a Land doing operating a private banking business, by the way? Is that in the public interest?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:08:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a good question. BW is part of LBBW and that is the Landesbank of Baden-Würtemberg and Landesbanken do or rather did all kind of banking. Including giving out loans to wealthy clients like Geerkens. Who is or was a customer of the BW-Bank. Geerkens is a small or if you want medium business dealing in jewelry, junk* and real estate

Now the justification of any Landesbank is of course the servicing of regional business. Sprakassen do retail and small business and anything to big for them and in the state is the business of the Landesbank.

* I am not making this up!

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:16:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By private banking I don't mean privately owned, I mean catering only to high-net-worth individuals.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. That is the surprising part. Geerkens is a high net worth individual. So doing private banking and a loan typical for private banking is normal regarding him.

But Wulff of course isn't high net worth. So he would not get this kind of loan ( a revolving money market loan).

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:21:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So Wulff and Geerkens have an ongoing gift-exchange relationship. Wulff includes Geerkens among is entourage on state trips (with Geerkens paying his way, and isn't Geerkens basically retired, so what are these, glorified vacations?) and Geerkens corresponds with plane tickets, personal loans, and personal recommendations as a client to exclusive businesses.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:51:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the explanation is that Geerkens was on friend of Wulffs late father and has known Wulff since Wulff was sixteen and had already supported Wulff then he was young, unknown and poor..

To learn more ET should send me on a longer fact finding mission to Osnabrück.

And since Geerkens is retired and living in Switzerland since 2003 he shouldn't be part of these delegations, no longer being a part of the regional business scene.

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But since Geerkens is retired he wouldn't be deriving any business benefits from taking part in those trips.

This rather looks like a sort of father-figure relationship. It would be weird enough if Wulff took his retired parents with him on state trips.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:05:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not THAT retired, I guess. But he is taxed in Switzerland.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I interpreted he had retired because he had shut down his business, but apparently he moved to Switzerland because he developed cancer.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 04:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the explanation is that Geerkens was on friend of Wulffs late father and has known Wulff since Wulff was sixteen and had already supported Wulff then he was young, unknown and poor..

Which, if Wikipedia is reliable, was the time when his mother developed multiple sclerosis and he had to take care of his siblings, given that the parents had been separated since he was two.

Gah, I'm getting to find our more details of Wulff's personal life than I should care to know...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:25:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain is going through a trial circus of two prominent regional politicians for accepting gifts. It turns out that it is illegal under spanish law to accept or solicit gifts for not doing one's job, for doing one's job, as a reward for having (not) done one's job, and in consideration of the office they hold. In this particular case, as it cannot be proved that the gifts were associated to any business deals or government procurement, the indictment is for accepting gifts given to them in consideration of their political office.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In February 2010 info about the relationship of Wulff and Geerkens was leaked. Geerkens had paid for Wulffs travel and so on. Wulff was asked in Parliament (of Niedersachsen) if he had a business relation with Mr Wulff. Answer: no.

Bild made public that Wulff had business relations with Mrs Geerkens. Wulff defended himself that he had not lied to parliament, which very strictly speaking may even be true. It's not the response to rescue his credibility, though.

by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:31:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Correction, 1st para:

...Wulff was asked in Parliament (of Niedersachsen) if he had a business relation with Mr Geerkens. Answer: no.

by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:33:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
taz reports that Bild is leaking excerpts of the transscript left and right, but so far no other media seems to have jumped on the opportunity to be instrumentalised over this.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:05:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which might explain why the ARD Blitz survey (tonight) finds him not trustworthy, but should still stay in office, as they also believe "the media" is hounding him.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's worse than just a banal president: a corrupt and lying president. It's even worse than that: a corrupt and lying president, who finds he is unfairly treated, because the press blurted out the affair, which in his view they shouldn't have done.

The opposition (in Niedersachsen) could have demanded an enquiry, but didn't, because they are as corrupt. (Sigmar Gabriel comes from Nds. too, btw.). In Berlin they could try to impeach Wulff. They won't.

It's the berlusconisation of our political sphere.

by Katrin on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:36:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, at least they got rid of Gutenberg.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You already know there was no stake in his heart, and he's on his way back.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:13:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not the same.

Guttenberg had completely lost touch with reality. He kept saying that he had just forgotten some quotes, although he had not forgotten to germanise the spelling of Swiss quotes, and it was too many quotes anyway. The heap of evidence grew every day, but Guttenberg was clinging to his story. Weird. Pathological, probably. I hasten to add that it is NOT the same as hearing voices coming out of the cupboard, BUT... Hell, the German defence minister with a psychiatric problem... That's why he had to go, Migeru.

Wulff hopes for our short memories, and he knows probably that the opposition doesn't want too much poking in the dirt either. He is probably sane, and he has only to shake some hands and to sign some things anyway. And speeches, which will be a problem.

by Katrin on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the Financial Times Germany headline graf:


Sentimental, provincial and unapologetic - that's how the President has presented himself to his people. In his audacity, he recalls Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. But at least Wulff confirmed before millions of viewers: The Chancellor has chosen the wrong guy.

Other FTD headlines:
BILD Contradicts Wulff
The First President Who Pardons Himself

wow, Merkel can't win here. Keep him, she looks bad. Can him, she looks bad. Why can't the opposition win? (Because they're nearly as bad???)

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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:11:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But wasn't Merkel's intent to get rid of Wulff?

Why should she have a problem now? SHe can allow the Bundestag to appoint whoever they want to the post since there are no more political opponents she needs to retire.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Minor correction: the President is elected by the Bundesversammlung (Federal Assembly), a temporary body consisting of Bundestag members as well as delegations of the regional parliaments. After the recent spate of CDU election losses, I'm not sure that they have a big enough majority.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Four votes. (That is more then SPD, greens , left and some minor parties combined)
by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:35:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Four votes out of 1240. She'd better find a candidate that gets votes from the opposition too.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:02:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She can hope on red/green and left being divided and on some votes from the sixteen "others".
by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:06:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She can't even be sure of all votes of CDU and CSU, let alone FDP!
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
isn't there an upcoming election in Shleswig Holstein? Would that change the balance, assuming the shift from CDU/FDP?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes. SH has 22 delegates, 8 CDU, 3 FDP. After the elections probably 0 FDP and possibly less CDU.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:31:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The election in Schleswig-Holstein is tomorrow in four months. So if Wulff doesn't last that long, the election changes nothing.
by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. But the majority of 4 votes is nothing she can rely on anyway. A Bundesversammlung is unpredictable. If Wulff lasts about 3 more months even the majority by 4 votes will be gone.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering that regional parliaments don't have to send regional MPs, and include some prominent people on their lists who thus have a weaker party allegiance, that majority is indeed slim and shaky.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:51:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, I can't think of many Merkel would pick as candidate at the moment. Gauck would be one only if she can find a formulation that can prevent SPD/Greens Itoldyousos. There is Schäuble, who wanted the job in the past, which would then bring up the question of whom she would bring in as finance minister.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:59:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be ideal, she could be her own finance minister and vie for the presidence of the EcoFin...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:54:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my nightmares, she would bring back Roland Koch (who did want the finance minister post in the past). Also, what about Jürgen Stark or Axel Weber...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does Merkel have to pick a candidate?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:58:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She is the leader of the coalition, the coalition commands a majority in the federal assembly and the CDU largest party in the assembly. Now she could instead of pick a candidate just concur to a candidate proposed from FDP or CSU. Both both parties are in a to sorry state to waste energy on that.

Now legally speaking any member of the federal assembly could propose a candidate.

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
legally speaking any member of the federal assembly could propose a candidate

Precisely my point. She could wash her hands of the whole thing with some lofty bullshit along the lines of "the executive branch cannot interfere in the constitutional prerogatives of the legislative branch" and "the office of President must be nonpartisan".

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:36:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't work. In the german political system the chancellor is supposed to lead the parliamentary faction. If she wouldn't lead, the faction, the party, her coalition partners would be deeply unhappy. And the press and the opposition parties would attack her as weak.

She can either

a) choose a CDU candidate

b) concur to a FDP or CSU candidate

c) compromise with SPD and Greens on a common candidate

option c) would be the best in my opinion. a la "Joschka Fischer was today elected as the first green President of the federal republic as a common candidate of CDU/CSU(FDP/SPD/Greens"

by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Come to think of it, Merkel should propose herself for the job...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 05:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. We already have a title for  the combined office of chancellor and president.

Merkel's problem is that presidents of her choice tend to be embarassing figures. The opposition has a problem, because their candidate was Gauck, the ultra-neoliberal, which is embarassing for them. On the other hand they can't name a different candidate: the Seeheimer Kreis wouldn't like that. The opposition does not want this reckoning just now.

by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:14:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gauck, an ultra-neoliberal? I missed his opinions on economic policies, do you have a link? I thought he is problematic for conservative views like doctrinaire 'anti-communism', conservativeness on religion, Atlanticism, and support for Sarrazin.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:50:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
anticapitalist protest are unspeakably silly, if we believe Gauck. If successful they lead directly to an economy without bananas and functioning washing-machines.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:49:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, thanks. IMHO that doesn't make him a neoliberal, just your run-of-the-mill conservative, there was such talk in the sixties already. But it certainly makes him a funny Christian pastor...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. We already have a title for  the combined office of chancellor and president.

No, no, she would step down as Chancellor, tolet someone else preside over a German recession and a blowup of the Eurozone while she makes nice speeches about Swabian housewife morality.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Corrected link to Seeheimer Kreis.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you. What did I get wrong?
by Katrin on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh, the original seems to work now...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:52:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The opposition doesn't have a majority in the federal assembly. That makes the election of a new president unappetizing. Back then Wulff was elected the opposition position was even weaker.
by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW a taz commentary suggests that the post of Federal President is archaic in its father figure role, now became superfluous, and should be abolished. I'm wary of the idea: IMHO the result would just be the further American Presidentisation of the chancellor post, e.g. the mixing of the representative-of-all and the partisan head of executive roles.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually think that in an over reaction to the presidency of the Weimar Republic the office was weakened to much.
by IM on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:19:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which role would you like it to take which it doesn't have as of now?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:46:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And here's Spiegel: A Performance Worthy of a Puppet Theater: Wulff's Pseudo-Transparency
In a television appearance on Wednesday, German President Christian Wulff sought to end a growing scandal involving his personal loans and treatment of the media. He showed a bit of regret, but also tried to portray himself as a victim of the nasty press. It was brazen, but also smart. It is very possible he will survive the affair.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I wouldn't want to be a president in a country where a person can no longer borrow money from friends," the president said on Wednesday night, refering to the controversy about his private loan. It almost made one want to respond: Who wants to be the citizen of a country in which the president makes such statements on television?

...

The political calculations by Merkel and her allies are absolutely mediocre, for which they have the perfect president. Wulff is determined to sit out the affair. That should be apparent to anyone.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece faces uncontrolled default: PM - FRANCE 24

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Wednesday said the country faced "uncontrolled default" in March unless unions and employers can quickly agree on labour cost cuts to boost competitiveness.

At a round of meetings with social partners, Papademos said the labour issue would affect an EU-IMF evaluation of Greece's economy later this month



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the only solution to all problems is ...

...  unions and employers can quickly agree on labour cost cuts to boost competitiveness.

Slowly turn all workforces into Chinese workforces.

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

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:39:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the fault of nationalistic unions. The companies have internationalized the job market, so they can move jobs between countries. And money can flow globally.

But the labor unions are stuck in the 1950s. Where is the UAW effort to organize Japan? Where is the IG Metall effort to organize China?

by asdf on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:09:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup, there's blame to go around for everyone but when do we hear about implementable solutions other than, "Starve, then die."? Gets kinda old.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:21:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course an alternative solution is to prevent current accounts imbalances through an active currency policy and then boost domestic demand. If China wants to underpay its workers, then the resulting unemployment can damn well stay in China.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 01:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We tend to forget just how much labor organizing depends on national legal frameworks.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unions sprang from an overdue need for them, first regional, then national.

now there's a growing need for a world union, but how can it spark?

the chinese government will surely give agitators from abroad a warm welcome...

as long as china bans/muzzles/castrates them, their workers will always undercut the rest of the world, especially as the union power is waning in the first world.

with the possible exceptions of germany, for their integration into corporate management boards, and france, because they still have the power to scare the government...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:49:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well all you need is enough of the worlds population boycotting Chinese goods

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:54:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
euro is down 2% against dollar (and thus against yuan) today, which does more for European workers than any kind of boycott...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:15:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Keep it up, great job!

Looking forward to my new Benz, or no, maybe Beemer, to carry around my new Leica!

As if.

by asdf on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 11:13:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unless jobs and profits are tied to cheap imports of raw materials from outside europe.

how are we off for those?

don't need to import sunshine...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany to 'escape recession' in 2012 - The Local
After a possible short and shallow contraction of the economy at the beginning of this year, Germany will grow by 0.6 percent in 2012 and then by 2.2 percent in 2013, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) institute said in New Year forecasts.

But the institute's head of economic research, Ferdinand Fichtner warned, "This will only happen if politicians come up with a convincing solution to the eurozone crisis in the next few months."

Continued chaos in the 17-nation eurozone could lead to a "negative spiral of rising unemployment and falling demand" in Germany, Fichtner said.


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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:32:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany and France end tussle over key ECB job - The Local
The ECB said executive board member Peter Praet of Belgium would be taking over as the head of its economics department, succeeding Jürgen Stark of Germany, who stepped down at the end of 2011.

Praet, who turns 63 later this month and has been a member of the ECB's executive board since June 2011, "will be responsible for economics, human resources, budget and organization" under a redistribution of responsibilities following the changeover of two board seats, the ECB said in a statement.

The decision came as a surprise since two incoming board members, Jörg Asmussen of Germany and Benoit Coeure of France, had been seen as the top rival candidates to take over the key economics portfolio.

Asmussen, however, will be responsible for international and European relations, meaning he will be the ECB's representative at international meetings and attend meetings of the so-called Eurogroup and ECOFIN.


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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Asmussen is a Social Democrat, so Merkel presumably doesn't mind it that much.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hungary could face bailout freeze, legal action | EurActiv

An EU official warned yesterday (3 January) that talks with Hungary over emergency funding could be frozen and the country faces possible legal action if its controversial new constitution breaches European treaties.

The new constitution entered into force on 1 January, accompanied by legislation which critics say undermine the independence of the central bank, the judiciary and the media - and entrench the position of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party which is affiliated with the European People's Party.

Tens of thousands of people protested in Budapest on Monday (2 January) alleging that the new laws are authoritarian.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Orbán exchanged a series of letters at the end of December in which Barroso warned the prime minister not to jeopardise the independence of the Bank of Hungary, and re-iterated concerns about media independence.

Constitution under scrutiny

Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said: "We received translations of the new constitution this morning [3 January], and our legal experts are examining them to assess whether our concerns have been addressed."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 02:59:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said: "We received translations of the new constitution this morning [3 January], and our legal experts are examining them to assess whether our concerns have been addressed."
---------------
Hahaha...they received it on 3 January...and are examining them NOW after they are already in force...What a bunch of useless idiots (or are we all?)...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:03:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The last modifications (also the ones the Commissions seems most interested about, regarding the central bank) were adopted on 30 December, so a translation in five days is not slow.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 07:26:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They should know what's going on even before it happens and react accordingly if they are to be taken seriously, if you ask me.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:30:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh? How should they know something in advance not even government MPs knew? You would have a point if you said that they shouldn't have based their action on the adopted legal texts only.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 02:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:46:37 AM EST
Thousands protest in China over investment scams: report

Authorities have vowed to toughen a crackdown on illegal investment schemes after thousands of protesters took to the streets in central China at the weekend, state media reported Tuesday.

Demonstrators in Anyang, a city in Henan province, swarmed a train station on Sunday claiming they had been defrauded and threatening to take their gripes to Beijing, various reports said, in the latest protest to hit the country.

Photos posted online purportedly of the protest showed thousands of people and dozens of police, some wearing riot gear, on a street.

Police detained 21 protesters, the China Business News said. They also stopped demonstrators from boarding trains bound for the capital, according to a post on a weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:55:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh great...they are finally fully enjoying capitalism...scams...defrauded...pyramid schemes...
Welcome to the club!


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 12:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Families with children hit by tax and benefit changes

Families with children will be hardest hit by tax and benefit changes aimed at cutting the deficit, a charity argues.

The Family and Parenting Institute (FPI) says the average income of households with children will drop by 4.2% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the equivalent of £1,250 a year.

Average household income however will fall 0.9%, or £215 a year, say the FPI.

The government says it is already taking "practical steps" to help such as cutting fuel duty and income tax.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:22:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Swiss bank says currency dealing claims 'partly incorrect'

The Swiss central bank has said recent claims about the currency dealings of its chairman, Philipp Hildebrand, and his wife are "partly incorrect".

The bank said the family broke no rules and published a report into the claims.

Kashya Hildebrand bought $504,000 (£323,024) in August, three weeks before the bank intervened to reduce the value of the Swiss franc. She later sold the dollars to buy a property.

Mr Hildebrand is due to give a press conference on Thursday. Investigation

The investigation ordered by Swiss National Bank (SNB) was carried out by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:23:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil soars close to 8-month highs on Iran tensions - FRANCE 24

Oil prices spiked close to eight-month highs on Wednesday as traders fretted over heightened tensions between key crude producer Iran and the United States over transit through the Gulf.

The market also found solid support in a stream of positive economic data which boosted the outlook for the global economy and energy demand.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in February, spiked to $103.74, a leval last touched on May 11. The contract fell back to $102.61, down 35 cents from Tuesday's closing level.

Brent North Sea crude for February jumped to $113.97 per barrel -- which was its highest level since November 14. It later stood at $112.82, 69 cents higher than Tuesday.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slavishly backing the electorally convenient paranoia of Likud has consequences

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:22:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:46:53 AM EST
Fears Nigerian emergency decree will lead to military abuses

A state of emergency declared in Nigeria in areas hit by attacks blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram has sparked concerns that the military will use the measure as legal cover to carry out further abuses.

A military task force in Borno state, Boko Haram's stronghold, has been accused a number of times in recent months of killing civilians and burning homes after bomb attacks, alleging residents collaborated with the militants.

Soldiers and police have also faced accusations in the past of gunning down civilians and carrying out summary executions in central Plateau state, which has been hit by years of clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:55:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IRAN: Obama Seeks to Distance U.S. from Israeli Attack - IPS ipsnews.net
Analysis by Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Jan 3, 2012 (IPS) - President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are engaged in intense maneuvering over Netanyahu's aim of entangling the United States in an Israeli war against Iran.

Netanyahu is exploiting the extraordinary influence his right-wing Likud Party exercises over the Republican Party and the U.S. Congress on matters related to Israel in order to maximise the likelihood that the United States would participate in an attack on Iran.

Obama, meanwhile, appears to be hoping that he can avoid being caught up in a regional war started by Israel if he distances the United States from any Israeli attack.

New evidence surfaced in 2011 that Netanyahu has been serious about dealing a military blow to the Iranian nuclear programme. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who left his job in September 2010, revealed in his first public appearance after Mossad Jun. 2 that he, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) chief Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin had been able to "block any dangerous adventure" by Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

The Hebrew language daily Maariv reported that those three, along with President Shimon Peres and IDF Senior Commander Gadi Eisenkrot, had vetoed a 2010 proposal by Netanyahu to attack Iran.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 12:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US vows to stay in Gulf despite Iran warning - Americas - Al Jazeera English

The Pentagon has responded to an Iranian warning to keep US aircraft carriers out of the Gulf by declaring that US warships will continue regularly scheduled deployments to the strategic waterway.

George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, said on Tuesday that the navy operates in the Gulf in accordance with international law and to maintain "a constant state of high vigilance" to ensure the flow of sea commerce.

Earlier in the day, Iran's army chief warned an American aircraft carrier not to return to the Gulf. Iran has also said it could block one of the world's key oil tanker sea lanes in response to economic pressures.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, dismissed Iran's warnings as signs of Tehran's weakness and of the international isolation it has faced for pursuing a nuclear programme.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:27:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama is running headlong into the a situation where unconditional support for Israel is actually bad for America.

We now have the whole of DC swinging behind supporting a foreign policy objective that is immediately harmful to the United States.

I can see why repugs might want it, soaring gas prices this summer  will hurt Obama electorally but this is just dumb policy.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:27:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU reaches agreement to ban imports of Iranian oil - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

European Union governments have reached a preliminary agreement to ban imports of Iranian crude to the EU but have yet to decide when such an embargo would be put in place, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.

The agreement, news of which sent crude oil prices higher, followed talks in the last days of December between EU envoys, diplomats said. Objections to the idea, notably from Greece, were dropped during the talks, they said.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:25:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
stupid stupid stupid. Iran doesn't care, it will sell to China. We are cutting our noses to spite our face

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:28:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israeli Defense official heads to South Korea in jet deal talks - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Defense Ministry Director General Udi Shani will fly to South Korea tomorrow to conduct more talks about the purchase of trainer jets for the Israel Air Force. South Korea and Italy are both vying to land the contract, worth an estimated $1 billion.

Relations between Seoul and Jerusalem have been tense for several months, with Korea accusing Israel of favoring Italy in the negotiations.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:25:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Israeli Rosa Parks' receives death threats after refusing to move to back of ultra-Orthodox bus - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Tanya Rosenbilt, the Israeli woman who refused to move to the back of the bus when told to do so by an ultra-Orthodox male passenger last month, said Wednesday that she had received several death threats.

Rosenbilt, hailed as the "Israeli Rosa Parks," filed a complaint to the Yarkon District police after she had received threats through the phone, email, and Facebook.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:26:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it wasn't an ultra-othodox bus.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:30:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Singapore leaders to take large pay cuts - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, and senior officials from his government will take a huge pay cut after opposition complaints over their high salaries.

However, Lee will still remain the world's best-paid leader.

The prime minister's office said on Wednesday that he will accept the recommendations of a government-appointed committee to reduce his salary by 36 per cent, as well as those of his ministers and the city-state's president.

Lee earns more than $2.3m a year but will have that reduced to $1.7m under the recommendations of a review committee he appointed last year, the panel said on its website.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:27:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taliban confirms deal to open Qatar office - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

The Taliban has confirmed it has come to an "initial agreement" to open a political office overseas as part of peace talks with the US, according to a statement.

In a statement that was emailed to news organisations and published on their purported website, Voice of Jihad, on Tuesday, the Taliban said it had held "preliminary talks with relevant sides including Qatar" to open an office outside Afghanistan.

"We're now prepared, while having a strong presence inside [Afghanistan] to have a political office outside [the country] for negotiations," the statement said, reiterating the stance that all foreign troops must leave to end the war.

A senior member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, the government's official body charged with seeking a negotiated end to the country's war, said he welcomed the Taliban move.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria claims US aims to 'rekindle violence' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Damascus has accused Washington of interfering in the work of the Arab League after a US official travelled to Cairo for talks with the bloc about the protest crackdown in Syria.

"The United States is one of the parties which is seeking to rekindle violence by its mobilisation and incitement [to violence]," Jihad Makdisi, foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesaday.

"The US... statements are a gross interference in the work of the Arab League, and an unjustified attempt to internationalise" the issue of Syria, he said.

The US State Department said on Tuesday that Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, was to travel to Cairo for consultations with the Arab League about Syria.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:47:18 AM EST
Is your all-you-can-eat shrimp killing the mangroves? | Grist

For his new book Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the Sea, Kennedy Warne traveled the world -- from Bangladesh to Brazil to the Gulf Coast -- documenting the complex relationship between the growing shrimp farming industry and the world's mangroves. (Up to 70 percent of the these aquatic forests have disappeared in the last 40 years.) The former editor of New Zealand Geographic spoke to Grist recently about what he found.

Q. Can you start by describing the relationship between mangroves and shrimp?

A. Mangrove forests are nurseries for a vast array of marine species, including many species of shrimp. However, this nurturing relationship between a protective habitat and vulnerable sea creatures has been sundered in the past half century as mangroves around the world have been destroyed to create ponds for aquaculture. And guess what's being grown in those ponds? Shrimp.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 12:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shale Gas Turns the Tables on Petroleum Powers - IPS ipsnews.net
CARACAS, Jan 3, 2012 (IPS) - Countries that have always depended on imported oil and gas, like Chile, Paraguay, Poland or Ukraine, and especially heavy consumers such as the United States and China, could become self-sufficient in natural gas in the near future and even start exporting it.

Shale gas - natural gas extracted from shale rock - may well be several times more abundant than the proven reserves of conventional natural gas on the planet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Moreover there are large volumes of natural gas in sandstones, and other non-conventional sources.

But the real news from EIA studies is that shale gas is abundant in territories previously regarded as poor in fossil fuels or dependent on imports: China, the United States and Argentina head the list, but large reserves are also found in South Africa, Australia, Poland, France, Chile, Sweden, Paraguay, Pakistan and India.

...

The extraction of shale gas requires large quantities of water mixed with sand and chemical additives. The carbon footprint - the amount of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases emitted by the process - is much greater than for conventional gas production.

Fracking involves injecting this fluid under pressure into drill holes deep in the earth's crust, to create fractures in the rock that increase the rate of recovery of shale gas. This process runs the risk of damaging the subsoil, soils, surface and underground water tables, the landscape and communication routes if the arrangements for extracting and transporting the material are defective or mishandled.

More methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is released during shale gas extraction and use than with conventional methods, and this adds to global warming. But so far, environmental concerns have not abated the global thirst for energy resources like those trapped in shale formations.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 12:04:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This story is a bit confusing, because natural gas--what you're trying to get out of the ground by fracking--is methane (mostly). So the greenhouse gas factor is from the eventual burning of the methane, not the methane itself, other than what might leak out of the extraction process.
by asdf on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 07:18:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of 12 ± 3 years and a GWP of 72 over 20 years, 25 over 100 years and 7.6 over 500 years. The decrease in GWP at longer times is because methane is degraded to water and CO2 through chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
Methane is a greenhouse gas in its own right as well, but it's a gift that keeps on giving in that its degraded products of co2 and water vapor also function as greenhouse gases.
by Andhakari on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:04:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the real news from EIA studies is that shale gas is abundant in territories previously regarded as poor in fossil fuels or dependent on imports:

Ooooh, shit.

Interestingly enough, water pollution is only mentioned once, 12 grafs in, water consumption only in the 13th. And both are dealt with rather cavalierly.

IPS is usually better than this.

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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 03:03:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What passes for civilization has proven time and again that nothing will stop folk from burning carbon unless there's a cheaper easier alternative. The fact that fracking will destroy local environments and water supplies is a god-send because near-term and local environmental costs are the only ones people seem to understand and will effectively respond to.
Let's hope that wind, solar, and water energy can displace carbon soon or we may as well kiss it all goodbye.  
by Andhakari on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:12:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I was surprised by the article. Of course, posting here does not signify endorsement.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 6th, 2012 at 01:47:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Government launches appeal against solar tariff ruling

The government has launched an appeal against a High Court ruling that blocked its plans to cut subsidies for solar panels on homes.

The case involves attempts to halve the payments made to households with solar panels, which the government says are at an unsustainably high level.

Labour said the appeal would only add to the uncertainty facing the industry.

Thousands of jobs could be lost as a result of the reduced subsidies, businesses and campaigners fear.



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 Jan 4th, 2012 at 01:22:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian: Ousted Spanish government plotted to derail EU fishing reforms
As Europe's biggest fishing industry, Spain could hold the key to the success or failure of the reforms, which would prevent fishermen discarding edible fish at sea.

But according to a secret government document seen by the Guardian, Spain's previous administration was plotting a last-ditch attempt to bring down the reforms, and allow Spanish fishermen to continue throwing away edible fish as they have been doing so for decades

The document is dated November 2, just weeks before the general election of November 20, showing that lobbying for a continuation of discards was a key policy for the outgoing socialist government even in its dying days.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:25:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:47:37 AM EST
'Lost world' discovered around Antarctic vents

Communities of species previously unknown to science have been discovered on the seafloor near Antarctica, clustered in the hot, dark environment surrounding hydrothermal vents. The discoveries, made by teams led by the University of Oxford, University of Southampton and British Antarctic Survey, include new species of yeti crab, starfish, barnacles, sea anemones, and potentially an octopus.

For the first time, researchers have used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to explore the East Scotia Ridge deep beneath the Southern Ocean, where hydrothermal vents, (including 'black smokers' reaching temperatures of up to 382 degrees Celsius) create a unique environment that lacks sunlight, but is rich in certain chemicals. The team reports its findings in this week's issue of the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology.

"Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide," said Professor Alex Rogers of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, who led the research.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New research on parasitic phorid fly - a new threat to honey bees

A paper to be published on January 3, 2012 in the authoritative magazine PLoS ONE, co-authored by NHM entomologist Dr. Brian Brown, reveals a new threat to honey bees and perhaps, a partial explanation for the bees' well-publicized Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a syndrome characterized by worker bees abandoning their hive. The threat is the tiny but dangerous phorid fly, which may pose an emerging threat to North American beekeeping.

The honey bee Apis mellifera has experienced recent unexplained die-offs around the world. Although catastrophic losses of honey bee colonies have occurred in the past, the magnitude and speed of recent hive losses appear unprecedented. So far, the main causal suspects have been parasitic mites, fungal parasites, viral diseases and interactions amongst them.

In this paper, the authors provide the first documentation that the phorid fly Apocephalus borealis, previously known to only parasitize bumble bees, also infects and eventually kills honey bees - by leading them to abandon their hives at night.

Brown is a world authority on phorid flies, and blogs about the weird creatures at http://flyobsession.net. He has received reports of nighttime bee activity in Los Angeles. "It seems to be concentrated near the coast," he said, "which is where our collecting has also encountered the flies."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:52:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PAKISTAN: Girls Defuse This Taliban Bomb - IPS ipsnews.net
PESHAWAR, Jan 4, 2012 (IPS) - Suicide bombing is down, bomb attacks are fewer, but the Taliban are keeping up attacks on girls' schools. In retaliation, a growing number of girls are going for school education - without school buildings.

The Higher Secondary School at Kumbar (in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of northern Pakistan) is one such school that has yet to be repaired after it was damaged heavily in a bomb explosion in May 2009.

"While temporarily residing in a camp in Mardan due to the military operation, we heard bad news that our school has been destroyed by the Taliban," says Kulsoom Bibi, a ninth class student at the Government Girls High School at the local Timergara Dir district. "Despite the passage of two years it has not been repaired."

The good news is that the girls pursue their studies without the school building.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 12:02:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:48:05 AM EST
Police detain man over China cat hotpot murder

Police in southern China say they have detained a man suspected of murdering a billionaire tycoon over a financial dispute by poisoning the cat meat hotpot they shared.

Long Liyuan, who made his fortune running a forestry company in wealthy Guangdong province, died last month after sharing a dinner of cat meat hotpot -- a local delicacy -- with two associates at a restaurant.

On Monday, authorities in Yangjiang city, where the incident occurred, said police had detained one of the associates, local forestry official Huang Guang, on suspicion of poisoning the meal in a row over money.

"Huang, who was helping Long take a lease on a forest, had himself used funds provided by Long. This led to an economic dispute and gave Huang the idea to kill Long with poison," a statement on the official Yangjiang public security bureau microblog said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 11:56:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My cat says that karma's a bitch.
by Andhakari on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 04:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being depressed, entrancement is always good. (even the maudlin intro on this is spot on. especially watching the old technology work.)



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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 4th, 2012 at 06:40:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The guy at the start is wrong, Tribal Style belly dance is also a totally american art form. As I wrote here;-

If American Oriental had been a mongrel of styles that came together to create something with recognisable influences, ATS, like jazz in the field of music, became a uniquely American `voice' where the whole was so much more than the sum of its influences. The fact that it was driven by a written statement also meant that if you bought into ATS you had to do it that way. The concepts of ATS became self-perpetuating.

Fat Chance Belly dance, the originals


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 06:53:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems true, but the difference is in the scale. Jazz has been a huge influence the world over for a century.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ATS is only 30 years old but it and its more flexible variants have only really reached beyond California in the last 10 years but Tribal is now globally huuuge

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:30:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm following a two-week history of jazz on the radio these days and "a century" requires a very broad definition of "jazz" going into its pre-history. You have to go to the 1940s and maybe 30s to find something that is "definitely jazz" and not some other genre.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 08:58:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what was the big bang that started jazz, according to them?

n'orleans street funeral parades?

maybe delta blues is older still, gospel sure is.

is satchmo the first artist officially labelled a jazzman?

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:42:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like I said, it all seems to boil down to whether you classify "Dixie", "Ragtime" or early Blues as Jazz, or as precursors of it. To me, "big band" from the 1930s doesn't sound "jazzy" yet but I'm no expert, though this radio program has really piqued my interest.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:51:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think what I'm doing is classifying "dance" music (e.g., swing) as "not jazz".

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 09:58:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which is not what the historians or musicians do. when you first hear jazz from the cool 50's and 60's, it might be hard to classify swing as jazz. but precursors of swing have long been considered jazz with no argument.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:11:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
regardless of what the radio says, Jazz as a word referring to music was already happening in the teens, so yeah, a century. The actual music it referred to had been in development since before the turn of the century.


Buddy Bolden Band (perhaps after 1900)

it's roots even trace back to cakewalk music of the early 1800s.  At the time of the popularity of ragtime and dixieland, Buddy Bolden, considered one of the earliest examples of jazz, was playing in N'awlins from 1895 on for a decade.

There's all manner of scholarly debate about this and that, but there is no question that actual jazz goes back to the turn of the last century. The first printed jazz music was 1915 or so.

PS. Blues notes go back to West Africa's pentatonic scale, and there are all manner of influences coming from the slave cultures, including Creole and Vudun influence. There were already weekly drum dances in Congo Square N'awlins up to the 1840's.

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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:07:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PPS. something i always thought was painfully funny, was that when slave-rooted music first began to evolve in amurka, cakewalk music, was actually the slaves parodying the music and dance styles of their masters.

Hah.

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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 5th, 2012 at 10:13:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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