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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 27 November

by Nomad Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 12:59:04 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1871 - birth of Giovanni Giorgi, an Italian electrical engineer who invented the Giorgi system of measurement, also known as MKSΩ, the precursor to the International System (SI).

More here and here

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by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 02:58:55 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Headline News / Catalan voters back secession parties in Spain

Separatist parties were the winners in Sunday's (25 November) regional election in Catalonia, which saw the highest voter turnout ever in Spanish regional elections.

The new parliament still favours a referendum on independence, something Madrid has said it will oppose.

The governing centre-right alliance party Convergència i Unio (CiU) won 50 seats out of 135 in the Catalan parliament, followed by the left-wing separatist party Esquerra Republicana with 21 seats.

In total, the seats in the new parliament that favour the "right to decide" on independence from Spain is nearly two-thirds with 87 while 48 are against - only a slight change from before the election (86 to 49).

Catalan President Artur Mas will continue to lead the northeastern region in Spain, but his victory was a bitter one, as his party lost 12 seats compared to the election in 2010 when CiU came into power. Mas called for snap elections to give legitimacy to his plan for a Catalan referendum on independence from Spain. He had hoped his party would be elected as the clear leader for such a process.

Although parties in favour of the "right to decide" on independence have been legitimised, the governing CiU failed to get the absolute majority (68) they had hoped for.

Instead, Mas has paid for the severe cuts in public spending - especially in health and education - his government has made in the last two years. The party's recent move to the separatist camp might also have failed to convince voters whether CiU really wants independence or if it is a populist move.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:45:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Press review: Regional elections in Catalonia | Europe | DW.DE | 26.11.2012

Separatist parties in Spain's Catalan region have done well in the elections, but the regional president's party who wanted to push for a referendum on independence has lost ground. DW looks at views from around Europe.

"The first referendum on independence by Catalan President and reelection candidate, Artur Mas, has ended as a serious personal failure," concluded the Madrid-based newspaper El Pais. "The sovereignist's political bloc clearly sustains its position in Catalonia, but does not progress. The message from the polls is that there are many reasons why Catalans should use their energies on tasks less uncertain than breaking ties with the rest of Spain; also there is every reason in the rest of Spain to review and negotiate what may have been an unfair treatment of Catalonia."

"The Catalans' vote focused more on the crisis and its effects than the prospect of independence on the horizon. All parties should take note of it in the future," wrote Spanish daily La Vanguardia, based in Catalonia's capital Barcelona. "In the analysis of yesterday's election results one cannot ignore corruption allegations by El Mundo against Artur Mas (...).One issue that undoubtedly influenced the candidate and forced him to defend himself by filing a complaint."

According to German newspaper Die Welt, Madrid - and Brussels as well - should breathe a sigh of relief "because the secession of Catalonia would have caused Spain to loose its most important industrial region and would have put Spain on the same level as Greece and Portugal in terms of per capita income. (...) But the majority of Catalonians were not willing to get involved in an adventure with uncertain outcome after two years of severe economic crisis and austerity measures. An independent Catalonia as a new state would not automatically be part of the EU and the eurozone and would have to apply for membership."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:45:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooooooops, some bad proofreading there.
by Upstate NY on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 08:59:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France's divided opposition confirms Copé as leader - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

Jean-François Copé was confirmed the official winner of the French opposition party's disputed leadership election on Monday. Defeated rival Francois Fillon immediately dismissed the declaration as "illegal".

After an adjusted ballot count the UMP's internal Electoral Appeals Commission announced that Copé, 48, had won the battle to become president of the UMP by 952 votes over his fierce rival Francois Fillon, 58. Around 173,000 votes were cast in total.

The official confirmation of Copé as winner came eight days after the election, which descended into farce when both men claimed victory and traded bitter allegations of voter fraud.

Copé had been declared the winner last Monday with a razor-thin victory of 98 votes, but former prime minister Fillon contested the vote and said he would have won by 26 votes had overseas territories not been omitted by mistake.

Speaking shortly after the commission confirmed him as the victor, Copé called for party unity and for the result to be respected.

"The committee has confirmed my election. It has even recorded a bigger margin in my favour. The result is there. Everybody must now respect it," Cope said of the new score, which discounted contested areas and added votes from overseas.

Deep rift

The dispute over the ballot set off a week of infighting and revealed a deep rift between Fillon's centre-right faction and Cope's more hard-right bloc.

Fillon, who has questioned the impartiality of the appeals commission, ignored Copé's call for "forgiveness", labelling the commission's confirmation on Monday as an illegal "power grab".

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French right on verge of collapse as talks fail | World news | The Guardian

France's opposition was plunged into an unprecedented crisis on Monday as the two men fighting to lead the party continued to dispute the results of a botched election.

The Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), the centre-right party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, was left teetering on the brink of collapse as a second investigation confirmed Jean-François Copé as president.

His rival, former prime minister François Fillon, immediately rejected the result saying the new count was "illegal" and the UMP appeals committee that produced it was biased in favour of his rival.

Copé, 48, was initially declared winner by a margin of just 98 votes after the ballot of party members eight days ago. Shortly afterwards Fillon, 58, claimed votes from three overseas districts had been "forgotten" and would have given him victory. In the mud-slinging that followed, both sides accused the other of cheating and election fraud.

For the past week, the two sides have ripped the UMP apart as party heavyweights called for calm and attempted to referee the dispute. One French newspaper described it as "live suicide".

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:49:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"France's divided opposition" did not "confirm Copé as leader".

The Electoral Appeals Commission of the UMP announced a new count in which he "emerged" as winner. No one was surprised because said commission is stuffed with Copé yes-men.

FRANCE 24 is such rubbish.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 01:50:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
like they will re-run the election :
Apparently Sarko tried to talk Fillon out of litigation, but is recommending to Copé to call a new vote. This illustrates the strength of Fillon's case.

So, we're probably good for another couple of months of this bullshit.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as an interim measure [of blackmail].

Magnificent malapropism in a twitter message from the MP announcing it :

Lionel TARDY@DeputeTardy
#UMP ... @FrancoisFillon "ce groupe sera dissolu des que les nouvelles élections auront été organisées"

"This group will be dissolute when new elections are organised"

He presumably means "dissolved".

The group to be provisionally called
"the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Judaea"

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:18:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The real name they have chosen for the parliamentary group is even better :

"Rassemblement UMP" = R.U.M.P


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:25:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"This group will be dissolute when new elections are organised"

He presumably means "dissolved".

Could be either, considering.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently Sarko supports the idea of a new election - but "later on", without a cancellation of this election, because "Jean-François couldn't possibly brook that". In other words, he'd rather see everything calm down with Copé as leader.

The media, however, have run with the unqualified "call a new election" story.

This is not over, that's for sure, because Fillon "can't possibly brook" allowing Copé to establish the fait accompli. And Copé won't run a new election, that he would probably lose (since Fillon does seem to have a serious case re massive fixing; and because Fillon is garnering sympathy by not appearing as a sore loser).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:19:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now Copé has come up with the idea of a "referendum" on whether or not to have another vote.

We're out of Africa, and into South American territory. Putschist general calls a plebiscite : "Are you OK with me as president-for-life or would you prefer to be herded into futbal stadiums?"

Amusingly, his offer of a referendum is conditional on the Fillonistas not forming a RUMP parliamentary group.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 11:54:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you cannot simply vote, you first have to vote on whether to vote, and then have a rule stating you are then allowed to continue to voting ...


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 12:22:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Early results indicate run-off vote for Italy's leftists - ITALY - FRANCE 24

Italian centre-left Democratic Party chief Pier Luigi Bersani is set for a run-off vote next week against young pretender Matteo Renzi, after millions of supporters chose their nominee for next year's general election.

With 40 percent of the votes counted from Sunday's balloting, Bersani was in front with 44.3 percent support, followed by Florence mayor Renzi with 36.3 percent, the organising committee said.

More than four million supporters took part in the vote which will now head for a second round run-off on Sunday.

A general election is expected in April 2013 with the winner of the centre-left nomination one of the favourites to replace Mario Monti as Italy's next prime minister.

All the most recent polls show the Democratic Party coming first in the general election.

Observers were surprised by the large turnout for the primaries and many polling stations were overwhelmed, with large queues forming outside.

More and more Italians are feeling the pain of a recession that began in the second half of last year and is forecast to continue into next year.

The main drama is between 61-year-old Bersani, a cigar-chomping former communist with a liberal economic orientation, and rising star Renzi, who at just 37 is a new face in politics, inspired by US President Barack Obama.

The primary is being held at a time of deep economic crisis and political uncertainty in Italy, with a series of corruption scandals within the main parties sparking voter apathy and disgust with traditional leaders.

Both men have said they will follow the broad course of reforms set by unelected technocrat prime minister Monti, but will seek to curb some of the more unpopular austerity measures he has advocated and do more to boost growth.

"We have to show the rest of the world that we don't just have Monti," Bersani, a former economic development minister, said last week.

"People want to take part, they want to have a politics that is in touch with the streets, with the squares, that returns hope to the country," he said.

Monti, a former European commissioner, took over from Silvio Berlusconi a year ago as Italy struggled with the eurozone crisis. While his cuts have angered many, he is seen as having saved Italy from a Greek-style collapse.

Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli said the economy would start to recover halfway through next year but warned that Italy was not yet in the clear.

"Even if the emergency phase was over, which it isn't, the markets wouldn't stop being on edge without the certainty that whoever is to govern in the future will continue on the path of rigour," he told La Stampa.

There were long queues outside the more than 9,000 polling stations set up across Italy and in 19 other countries with large Italian communities.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:48:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poison 'found' in exhumed body of former Turkish president Turgut Ozal | World news | guardian.co.uk

Evidence of poisoning has been found during an autopsy on the exhumed body of Turgut Ozal, the Turkish president who led the country out of military rule in the 1980s, according to a national newspaper.

There have long been rumours that Ozal, who died of heart failure in 1993, aged 65, was murdered by militants of the "deep state" - a shadowy nationalist strain within the Turkish establishment of the day. Ozal had angered some with his efforts to end a Kurdish insurgency and had survived an assassination bid in 1988.

His body, dug up last month on the orders of prosecutors investigating suspicions of foul play, contained the banned insecticide DDT and the related compound DDE at 10 times the normal level, said newspaper Today's Zaman, citing sources from the state Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK).

"Ozal was most likely poisoned with four separate substances," sources told the paper, naming the toxic metal cadmium and radioactive elements americium and polonium as substances also found in Ozal's remains.

Forensic institute officials declined to comment.

Suleyman Demirel, who succeeded Ozal as president, dismissed the claims. "I don't agree with any of the allegations that Turgut Ozal was murdered," he said, according to state-run news agency Anatolian.

Ozal, whose economic reforms helped shape modern Turkey by easing the state's grip on business, was in poor health before his death and underwent a triple heart bypass in the US in 1987.

His moves to end a Kurdish insurgency and create a Turkic union with central Asian states have been cited as motives for would-be enemies in "deep state", where security establishment figures and criminal elements colluded.

It was leaders of Turkey's armed forces who appointed him as a minister after a period of military rule following a 1980 coup.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was under the impression that polonium decayed too quickly to be directly measurable within a couple of years, let alone 20

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but what about the kryptonite, eh? What about that?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:23:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends upon the color. If it was the traditional green ... but it could have been the gold or the blue or the black or the ... and then there's the red that just makes you bad-ass.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:36:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, Red Kryptonite.
Was there ever another such wonderful plot device?

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:19:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Typically you can find traces for much longer - what you can't prove is the source, because it exists in nature (seafood and tobacco...)
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:42:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU budget delay keeps pressure on UK over banking union | EurActiv

Leaders seeking compromise on a new version of the EU's long-term budget (2014-2020), formulated by Council President Herman Van Rompuy, will now seek to square the circle over the budget in February 2013.

Diplomatic manoeuvres from Berlin

Several sources told EurActiv that it suited Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone a budget deal until next year, as she has positioned herself towards UK Prime minister, David Cameron.

The sources explained that offering Cameron her support on further budget cuts after the December summit might help to sweeten the UK's agreement to banking union.

If Merkel would have helped Cameron achieve an acceptable outcome in advance, there is a danger Germany would receive nothing in return for its assistance.

The idea tallies with the fact that EU leaders were 'very close' to agreement for the budget 2014-2020 on the basis of the latest proposal by Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Cyprus Presidency sources told EurActiv.

It also explained a series of sophisticated diplomatic manoevres emanating from Berlin during the summit, which left Germany's partners baffled by Merkel's positioning.

Merkel has feet in both camps

Germany occupied a pivotal role between two groups of net-contributing countries. On one side, those that favour an increase of the EU budget and more money for the CAP and cohesion funds--France and Italy. And on the other side, the UK --the standard bearer for net-contributors wanting cuts, which also included Sweden and the Netherlands.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU commission urged to probe alleged 'misuse' of regional funds: theparliament.com
The European commission is being asked to investigate complaints made by Latvian municipalities about the alleged misuse of EU development funds.

Some 16 local authorities in Latvia have joined forces in accusing the country's government of failing to follow correct procedures in the allocation of the European regional development fund (ERDF).

It is alleged the ruling government has allocated ERDF monies "politically" by favouring certain municipalities at the expense of others.

This would be in direct contravention of EU rules which state there should be "no discrimination" in the way funding is distributed by member states.

The complainants' are led by mayor of Ventspils municipality in Latvia Jan Vitolins, who has lodged formal complaints with both the commission and the Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis.

Dombrovskis has refuted the allegations, insisting there has been no favouritism.

Latvia is believed to have received about €177m in ERDF funding for the period 2007-2013, including €25m for 2012.

The bulk of ERDF money in Latvia is used to finance major infrastructure projects, such as roads.

The complainants want the commission's regional policy directorate to investigate the issue "as soon as possible" so that they "do not miss out" on the €25m ERDF funding for the current year.
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:53:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
CaféBabel: UE vs USA, the dark side of the sun(belt)

A proposal to solve the imbalances between boom and bust countries in the UE I already made in ET:

UE versus USA : la face cachée du soleil EU versus USA: the dark side of the sun
Par exemple, prendre la forme d'un montant minimum permettant aux chômeurs de l'Union de recevoir une allocation et une couverture sociale de base comme l'a proposé succinctement le ministre français des Finances, Pierre Moscovici.For example, under the form of a minimum amount allowance for unemployed in the UE that would allow them to receive a basic benefit and health insurance as proposed succinctly French Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici


A free fox in a free henhouse!
by Xavier in Paris on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 02:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence e-mail newsbriefing:

Boersenzeitung has a report on a study by the IMK economics institute - which is close to the German trade unions - which is forecasting a 2.5% increase in labour costs for both 2012 and 2013 - less then the 3% of 2011. The projected for this year are still above the inflation rate, but not much. The director of the institute, Gustav Horn, said the small increase would not lead to a rebalancing, and constituted a stumbling block in crisis resolution.

Some Germans get it. They're just not part of the political-financial bloc.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukip: the party that's coming in from the cold | Politics | The Guardian

Yesterday, the Tory MP and party vice-chairman Michael Fabricant published a report titled The Pact, in which he advocates an electoral deal between the Conservatives and Ukip, on the basis of a referendum on Britain's EU membership, and a place in a future Tory cabinet for the Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Fabricant - who on Sunday night was reported to be having "social drinks" with David Cameron - reckons that the ongoing battle between the two parties cost his side as many as 40 seats (and, therefore, an outright majority) at the last general election. The Tory leadership duly poured cold water on his suggestion, but the underlying thinking was hardly revelatory: Ukip's rise is jangling Tory nerves, and with good reason. On Monday, Farage talked about the possible game-changing effects of someone "grownup and sensible like Michael Gove" becoming leader of the Tories: the aim, one suspected, probably had more to do with mischief than constructive politics.

Ukip already has 12 members of the European parliament, including Roger Helmer, who was elected as a Conservative, but jumped ship in March this year. There are three other ex-Tory Ukipers in the House of Lords: Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the 21st Baron Willoughby De Broke, and Baron Stevens of Ludgate. While we're here, it is also worth noting the sole Ukip representative in the Northern Ireland Assembly, David McNarry, a former member of the Ulster Unionist party - and the party's presence in local government. Ukip now has 158 people serving on local councils, though the vast majority are concentrated at town and parish levels, a number regularly swelled by more revolting Tories.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:02:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopefully it will be 70's and 80's again but backwards.

"You voted SDP. That's how she got in."
-Margaret, One Foot in the Grave, "Valley of Fear".

Sadly they could be a much more natural Tory partner than the libdems.

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:03:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the thing I don't understand is why this pressure is coming from within the Tory party as they have nothing to gain. It would reduce the Tories down to the single issue obsessional level which UKIP currently occupies, while UKIP would gain immeasurably.

The tory party has always played the europe question much as the repugs used to do abortion: to keep the religionist right onside banning it was always on the horizon, but for actual electoral purposes just not yet.

The tories have a similar problem with europe; the EU is very popular with the business community, to even consider  suggesting withdrawal would lose them an awful lot of funding.

Personally I hope they do, it would be hilarious


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 09:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you say "business community," do you include "the city"?


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they're banksters, collective noun wunch

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 12:06:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 02:58:58 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Euro-ministers and IMF in third attempt to agree on Greece

Eurozone finance ministers and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde are having a third attempt on Monday (26 November) to agree on how to keep Greece afloat and unblock its long-awaited bailout tranche.

At the core of the debate is how to decrease Greece's debt from 190 percent of GDP to 120 percent over the next eight to ten years and how to bridge a multi-billion-euro funding gap that has emerged due to worsening recession and political delays.

The IMF insists eurozone governments should accept losses on their Greek loans - so-called Official Sector Involvement (OSI). Germany and a few other countries have argued against saying that as long as the current bailout programme is ongoing, it would be against national and EU law to give loans and at the same time accept losses.

But since the programme ends in 2014, there would be no legal impediment for OSI the following year. According to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, ministers discussed this option last week during a secret meeting in Paris one day ahead of a second Eurogroup which ended in disagreement.

Der Spiegel on Monday also reported that both the IMF and the European Central Bank - Greece's other creditor - are still insisting governments give up half of their Greek claims.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:28:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany Remains Adamant in Refusal to Forgive Greek Debt - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The International Monetary Fund believes that the only way to reduce Greek debt to a sustainable level is by way of a debt haircut involving the country's government creditors. But with an election approaching, Germany has refused to consider the proposal. Reality is on the IMF's side.

An elegant appearance is important to Christine Lagarde. The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wears her short hair carefully coiffed, and diamonds glitter on her manicured fingers. When she talks about global financial issues, she hardly ever raises her voice. Her colleagues at the Washington-based financial authority call her "Ms. Perfect."

But last Tuesday Lagarde, who was once French finance minister, was having trouble keeping her composure. She had hurried back to Europe from Asia to attend the latest in a series of Euro Group crisis meetings on Greece. And even though she had a fever and felt weak from the flu, she began to raise her voice as she spoke. For Greece to recover, she insisted, creditor countries would have to forgive the government in Athens a large share of its debt. "Nothing else will work," Lagarde said.

But the group, most notably Germany's impassive Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), refused to budge. The meeting ended unsuccessfully at around 5 a.m. and was adjourned until this Monday.

It is something of a paradox. Originally, Germany was the primary backer of IMF involvement in efforts to save the euro, primarily because of the group's experience, as Merkel repeatedly emphasized. Schäuble, for his part, said at the time: "There is no institution worldwide that has a comparable level of expertise."

Now, however, it is Berlin that has shown the greatest resistance to Lagarde's approach to the crisis. The reason is simple: If the Greek government were in fact forgiven a portion of its debt, Germany would have to write off billions in aid loans. It would mark the first time that Greece's crisis actually cost German taxpayers money, a novelty that Merkel and Schäuble would like to avoid on the eve of an election year.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:30:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Canadian named new UK Bank governor - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Mark Carney, current head of the Bank of Canada, has been named as the new governor of the Bank of England.

George Osborne, British finance minister, announced the 47-year-old Carney as the new head of the Bank of England to parliament on Monday.

"I can tell parliament and the public that the next governor of the Bank of England is Mark Carney," the chancellor of the Exchequer told legislators.

'Simply the best'

Osborne described the chair of the global Financial Stability Board as "quite simply the best, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to be the next governor of the Bank of England".

Carney will take over from Mervyn King, who has lead the BoE since 2003 and will step down on June 30.

He comes from outside Europe, but in his role at the FSB, Carney has been involved in dealing with some of the fallout from the global financial crisis and fighting the eurozone debt crisis.

Britain is not a member of the eurozone, but is deeply concerned that the thrust of European Union policies to reform finance threaten the city of London.

Osborne described Carney as "the outstanding central banker of his generation with unparallelled expertise in financial regulation" who has helped steer Canada through the global financial crisis.

Carney, who intends to take on British citizenship, will serve as BoE governor for a five-year term until the end of June 2018.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:32:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Better a reluctant Bank governor than a British one?

Is Mr Carney worth all the trouble? Having met him a few times and chaired a session with him earlier this year at the Davos World Economic Forum, I can say he has a crisp and engaging manner and, like most policy-makers at his level, buckets of self-confidence. Unlike many, he is also willing to display a sense of humour.

If there is any country whose policy makers might be expected to teach us a thing or two, it's Canada. In the 21st century, it has a better economic track record than the UK in almost any respect you care to mention.

I went into the depressing detail in a blog several years ago, when I called it the "goody-two-shoes" economy.

Canada did have a debt crisis in the 1990s but it learned its lesson. It didn't have a housing market boom, or bust, in the first decade of the century. Or a massive increase in personal or government debt. There have been no big bank failures - or bailouts.

And there's been no double-dip recession. Canada's one and only "dip" was one of the shortest, and shallowest, in the G7.

Mark Carney can't take all the credit for that. When it comes to the regulation of Canada's banks, he can't really take any credit at all. But he he does get credit for being the first leading central bank governor to cut interest rates sharply, when the domestic and global economy started to turn south. And for pre-committing the Bank of Canada to holding interest rates very low for a minimum period of time.

My bold. This is yet another appointment that seems based much more on image than substance...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To clarify my critique - Carney does support better regulation of banks - so that's a good thing, but rather than copy the Canadian system that he inherited (and appeared to work well) he's advocating progressive increases in capital requirements.

On the plus side, Jamie Dimon doesn't like the proposal - on the down side I don't think it really solves the problems highlighted by the financial crisis.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:08:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With fiscal cliff deadline nearing, parties still at odds | Reuters

Republicans in the U.S. Congress on Monday called on President Barack Obama to detail long-term spending cuts to help solve the country's fiscal crisis, while holding firm against the income tax rate increases for the wealthy that Democrats seek.

The White House has been equally firm in its position, threatening to veto any bill that does not include the tax rate increases opposed by Republicans.

While Congress returned from its Thanksgiving holiday break amid increasing talk about long-term tax reform plans and a need to compromise, the two parties showed no signs yet of having found a way around the short-term tax obstacle necessary to head off the "fiscal cliff" on December 31, which would bring steep mandated tax-rate increases and spending cuts in the new year.

"We remain at an impasse," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said during a floor speech.

Obama spoke with House Speaker John Boehner about the budget negotiations during the weekend, as well as with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a White House official said. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the president would speak with them again "at the appropriate time."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:42:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
White House warns of $200bn consumption fall - FT.com

In speech after speech on the campaign trail until his convincing re-election in early November, Barack Obama promised that he would not allow taxes to rise for middle-class families in his second term.

With barely a month left before across-the-board tax rises and huge spending cuts kick in, the White House is making clear that Mr Obama will be using the same middle-class playbook to press Republicans in negotiations on the fiscal cliff.

Congress and the White House have until the end of the year to strike a new budget agreement. If they fail the US economy will be hit by a $600bn combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts in 2013 - a scenario known as the fiscal cliff that is likely to trigger a new recession.

In a report released on Monday, just as talks with Congress were to resume after the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House warned that the failure to avert higher taxes on middle-class families in the talks would sharply cut economic output next year.

The report, issued by the White House's National Economic Council and Council of Economic Advisers, says lifting taxes on the middle class could reduce consumer spending by $200bn and reduce 2013 gross domestic product by 1.4 per cent.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We all know how this one will play out ... the public will get screwed, the wealthy will get away with murder, the Pentagram will get whatever it wants.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com
Italy is often grouped with Greece, Spain, etc. in discussions of the euro crisis. Yet its story is quite different. There were no massive capital inflows; debt is high, but deficits aren't. The most striking thing about Italy is a remarkably dismal productivity performance since the mid to late 1990s. Here's a comparison of Italian with French productivity, as measured by output per worjer, from the Total Economy Database:

I've been reading many attempts to explain what happened; while there's a lot of interesting stuff about everything from regulation to firm size to export mix, I really don't see anything that feels like a slam dunk.

And no, it's not just a too-big welfare state -- France's welfare state is even bigger.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:55:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
room to debate in Metatone's diary.
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revealed: the real identities behind Britain's secret property deals | UK news | The Guardian

The real identities behind British property deals previously cloaked in secrecy are revealed in the latest part of a major investigation into offshore firms, which prompted the government on Monday to promise that it would investigate any abuses revealed involving sham nominee directors.

Previously secret owners are identified in a sample of almost 60 UK homes and offices, ranging from multimillion-pound commercial premises in the heart of London to a small hotel in Southend, Essex.

They typify the 100,000 such purchasers who have set up offshore companies, largely registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), since 1999. The owners of BVI entities use them to hide their dealings in UK property and to take advantage of tax loopholes.

New disclosures about property ownership follow a pledge by Vince Cable, the business secretary, that his department would look at evidence of sham directors putting their names to thousands of anonymous offshore companies.

"We are not complacent or naive. We recognise there are individuals who will seek to abuse or evade," he said. "We will investigate fully any specific allegations and ensure appropriate action is taken ... If we identify a need for further action as a result of that review, we will not be afraid to take it."

Cable was responding to a worldwide investigation into offshore abuses by the Guardian, the BBC's Panorama programme and the US-based non-profit group, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they're not complacent ....much. But maybe Vince could explain why so many HMRC tax fraud investigators were made redundant in the first year of the coalition, specifically in the areas involving large companies and wealthy individuals.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • Yes, you are.
  • Recognise, possibly, care, not so much.
  • No, you won't. (How "specific" does it need to be?"
  • Yes, you will.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 02:59:00 PM EST
.:Middle East Online::Syria rebels advance to Damascus outskirts :.

Syrian troops bombarded the outskirts of Damascus, where monitors said almost 50 people died in a battle for a military airport, as the country's 20-month conflict homes in on the capital.

Russia and France, meanwhile, prepared for talks on Tuesday in Paris at which Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and France's President Francois Hollande are expected to address differences over the Syria conflict.

"There is a major disagreement," Russia's envoy to Paris, Alexander Orlov said. "The West says (a solution) must start with the departure of (President) Bashar al-Assad, and we say this is where it must end."

Turkey and close Syria ally Iran, whose positions on the crisis are also diametrically opposed, held closed-door talks on Saturday.

No details were published after a two-hour meeting in Istanbul between Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country Tehran accuses of arming the rebels.

World powers have made no progress on finding a political solution to the conflict, with Russia and China blocking UN Security Council efforts to ratchet up the pressure on Damascus.

In the face of the revolt, Assad's regime has been reducing its territorial ambitions to focus on Damascus, central Syria and Alawite bastions, as it digs in for a long war, according to analysts.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:19:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suspected cluster bomb attack by regime condemned by rights groups | World news | The Guardian

The death of 10 children in an apparent cluster-bomb attack near Damascus has been widely condemned by human rights groups, which claim that the outlawed weapons have been increasingly used by the Syrian regime against civilians over the past two months.

Images of the dead and wounded children were uploaded to the internet by residents of the town of Deir al-Asafir, hours after a vacant block of land where children had gathered was hit.

The uploaded videos also showed scores of spent cluster bomblets, with the shells they were discharged from. Small indentations in the ground, where some of the bomblets had landed, were also visible, along with a large shell embedded deep in the soil.

"May God punish you, Bashar," one of the residents is heard saying of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, as a video pans across a room of dead children, many of them wrapped in white shrouds. Residents contacted in the town claimed that up to 40 people, some of them children, had been wounded.

Opposition groups have insisted since late in the summer that the Syrian regime has been using the banned weapon - a claim that has been denied by officials in Damascus.

There was no independent confirmation of the attack. However, numerous images of spent shell casings have now been published from opposition-held parts of the country. None had so far had the visceral effect of the gruesome footage from Deir al-Asafir, which is believed to mark the first time in the Syrian conflict that cluster bombs have killed a large number of victims.

"It is the first confirmed video that we have seen of what has been an increasingly clear use of these munitions," said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch. "The vast majority of the casualties have been caused by ordinary dumb bombs. These are very different. They are Soviet-made weapons and they are dropped from jets, which is a clear indication of who's responsible, because the opposition doesn't have warplanes."

Bouckaert said the weapons visible in the video were clearly identifiable as an AO1-SCH weapon, made by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

"This should be seen in the context of the continued escalation by the regime and the move towards heavier weapons as they try to reclaim streets that they are slowly losing control of," Bouckaert said. "It's becoming more and more difficult for them to move around."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plane loads of cash: Flight records reveal Russia flew 30 tonnes of bank notes to Syrian regime - Europe - World - The Independent

According to newly released flight logs, Russia has been helping out embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad by literally sending him planeloads of cash.

The logs, obtained by the investigative journalism body ProPublica, show that an Ilyushin 76 cargo plane belonging to the Syrian Air Force made eight round trips between Moscow's Vnukovo Airport and Damascus over three months this summer, each time carrying a stated cargo of 30 tonnes of banknotes.

This would suggest that a total of 240 tonnes of currency, equivalent to roughly 240m notes, made its way from Russia to Syria over the summer. Goznak, the Russian state body that prints banknotes, has confirmed that in recent months it has provided currency to the Syrian regime. In an interview with the state-controlled Rossiiskaya Gazeta last week, the head of Goznak confirmed for the first time that Russia is indeed producing currency for Damascus. "The order has already been fulfilled," said Arkady Trachuk, Goznak's Director, though he did not specify how many notes were sent to Syria. Around 20 countries order their currency from Russia, including Lebanon, Guatemala and Belarus.

Syria's currency was previously produced in Austria by a subsidiary of the country's Central Bank, but after EU sanctions were put in place last autumn, the government had to look elsewhere for its currency. During a visit to Moscow in August, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil referred to the currency deal with Russia as a "triumph" for the embattled country over Western sanctions.

"There is a practical need for Syrian pounds to stay in circulation so that the government can keep paying the soldiers and the bureaucracy," says David Butter, a Middle East expert at Chatham House. "If the government is simply printing money in Russia and flying it to Damascus, then the potential for hyperinflation is very strong."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds more like a booby trap in case the rebels win...destroy the currency

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, it is just hyperventing because the WestTM failed to stop Syria's ability to print its own currency.

If the rebels win they can print their own currency and back it up with its own taxes.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 01:55:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt's Morsi meets judges over new powers - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is meeting senior judges to try to ease a crisis over his new powers, which has seen protests reminiscent of the revolution last year that brought him to power.

Activists on Monday were camped in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a fourth day, blocking traffic with makeshift barricades to protest against what they said was a power-grab by Morsi. Nearby, riot police and protesters clashed intermittently.

One Muslim Brotherhood member was killed and 60 people were injured late on Sunday in an attack on the main office of the movement in the Nile Delta town of Damanhour, the website of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said.

More than 500 people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters worried Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood is trying to consolidate power.

The country's highest judicial authority hinted at compromise to avert a further escalation, though Morsi's opponents want nothing less than the complete cancellation of a decree they see as a danger to democracy.

The Supreme Judicial Council said Morsi's decree should apply only to "sovereign matters", suggesting it did not reject the declaration outright, and called on judges and prosecutors, some of whom began a strike on Sunday, to return to work.

Temporary measures

Morsi's office repeated assurances that the measures would be temporary, and said he wanted dialogue with political groups to find "common ground" over what should go in Egypt's constitution, one of the issues at the heart of the crisis.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:21:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Egypt Islamists call off protest

Egypt's main Islamist party has called off a demonstration in Cairo, amid a crisis over the extent of President Mohammed Mursi's powers.

The Muslim Brotherhood said it would not hold the protest on Tuesday, as originally planned, "to avoid clashes".

Opponents of President Mursi and of the brotherhood have said they would hold their own protest against a decree giving the president sweeping powers.

Mr Mursi has been meeting senior judges in an effort to defuse the crisis.

Ahead of Monday's meeting he expressed confidence that a solution would be found.

"President Mursi is very optimistic that Egyptians will overcome this challenge as they have overcome other challenges," spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters ahead of meeting,

Later Mr Ali said the president had reassured the judges that the decree would be confined to key matters of "sovereignty".

There is no word so far from the judges. The president's opponents have called on the new powers to be rescinded outright.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:22:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Old Mursi tried to slide this one by while everyone was focussed on Gaza ... too bad fella. Showed his true intentions ... as if there were any doubts. How's old Hos doing these days? Sunning himself on the Riviera?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:52:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has nobody noticed what also happened while everyone (except the Egyptians?) were focusing on Gaza?
The International Monetary Fund and Egypt have reached a preliminary agreement on a $4.8 billion loan aimed at reviving an economy that was torpedoed in the wake of the North African country's revolution.

[...]

Andreas Bauer, the IMF's division chief in the Middle East and central Asia department, said in Tuesday's statement that Egypt's economic overhaul program seeks to promote economic recovery, address its fiscal and balance-of- payments deficits, and lay the foundation for rapid job creation and socially balanced growth. Egypt plans to reform its energy subsidy regime and overhaul the tax system, he added

I'm sure the reform of the energy subsidy regime is really popular over there....(the article is dated Nov 20)
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 09:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IPS - The Secular Fret in New Tunisia | Inter Press Service

A year has passed since the provisional government assumed power in Tunisia. Following in the wake of the revolutionary changes brought on by the Arab Spring, the moderate Islamic Ennahda party won the majority and formed a coalition with the two secular parties Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol in October last year.

With the promise to hold new elections a year later, the country waited as Oct. 23 approached.

The day came and went, without the ruling government stepping down. Small protests erupted in the streets of the capital and later elsewhere but there were no large-scale rallies.

"I experienced the greatest deception of my life, "a young psychologist and actress from Tunis who gave her name only as Meriem told IPS. Even if the ruling government did not immediately step down, she said, people were hoping for some sign that change was in the works.

"I don't care who is in power, but I want to see action, see something happening," she said. "But after such a let-down, I was crying like a fool."

The ruling coalition has claimed that more time is needed to prepare elections, and has instead pegged Jun. 23, 2013 as the next election date.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:23:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probe alleges Nigeria lost billions in oil revenue | News | Africa | Mail & Guardian
A probe alleging Nigeria has lost out on billions of dollars through questionable practices in the oil-and-gas industry has stirred controversy.

 The report from a government-appointed task force has not been officially made public, but leaked copies have generated strong responses from officials, the state oil firm and private companies, which dispute many of its findings.

Anti-corruption activists seeking changes to an industry that operates with little transparency and which has long been seen as awash with graft have however sought to pressure the government into addressing the problems alleged.

The 139-page report, a copy of which has been obtained by Agence France-Presse, is a rare look at the inner-workings of an industry that provides Nigeria with more than two-thirds of government revenue and nearly all of its export earnings.

It alleges that Nigeria's government has been shortchanged billions of dollars due to issues including unpaid royalties, exchange rate disparities, theft and pricing discrepancies.

It questions Nigeria's bidding process that grants licences to oil producers as well as the practice of using private traders to act as middlemen in certain aspects of the industry, which it says creates obvious avenues for graft.

Some examples of the amounts the report says Nigeria may have lost or is owed include:

    $29-billion due to what appeared to be lower-than-usual prices for gas sales to NLNG, whose shareholders include Shell, Total, ENI and state oil firm NNPC
    More than $6-billion per year due to crude theft. It says there is evidence members of the security forces profit from it.
    $4.6-billion due to price discrepancies in domestic crude sales
    $3.03-billion in unpaid royalties
    $947-million from gas produced from a Shell offshore field
    $560-million in unpaid signature bonuses

Most of the findings were based on a review of the industry between 2005 and 2011, though some data goes back to 2002.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:32:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DutchNews.nl - 'Shell fails to meet €1bn Nigeria oil clean-up fund commitments'

Shell and the Nigerian government are failing to meet joint commitments to clean up oil spillages in the Nigerian delta, BNR radio reports on Monday.

The broadcaster says Shell and the government pledged to put a billion dollars into a special clean-up fund but so far not one cent has been contributed.

A United Nations report last year was highly critical of the role of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant in the region, leading to the setting up of the fund.

But nothing has so far happened, UN environmental disaster expert Henrik Slotte told the broadcaster. 'My understanding is the fund does not exist. The oil industry and government are still discussing how to share the responsibility,´ he said.

Talks

Shell's number two in Nigeria, Tony Attah, told BNR Shell is continuing to clean up pollution in some areas and says talks are still under way with the Nigerian government to establish the fund. The Nigerian authorities are Shell´s biggest partner in the joint venture in the region.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:42:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Looks to Set Size of Afghan Presence After 2014 - WSJ.com
Top Obama administration officials want to keep around 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when formal combat ends in 2014, cementing a limited, long-term American military presence in the country if Kabul agrees, said senior U.S. officials.

A post-2014 troop level of that size would represent the midpoint of preliminary recommendations by Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. Gen. Allen has proposed maintaining a force between 6,000 and 15,000 U.S. troops to conduct training and counterterrorism efforts when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission formally concludes at the end of 2014, officials said. In contrast, the U.S. maintains no residual force in Iraq, a situation that has been blamed for instability in that country.

Still, those early recommendations reflect the Obama administration's preference for a relatively small long-term presence. Some administration officials believe a small long-term presence will put less stress on the armed forces and be more palatable to both the American and Afghan publics. Some outside defense analysts have said it would require a much larger U.S. presence--perhaps as many as 30,000 troops--to continue to train the Afghan security forces and keep Afghanistan stable.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:57:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they're just there to service the drone attacks on Pakistan

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:30:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China's princelings come of age in new leadership | Reuters

In China they are known as "princelings" -- the privileged children of the revolutionary founders of the People's Republic of China. And in the generational leadership change that just took place in Beijing, it could not have been clearer that having the right family bloodlines is among the most important attributes an ambitious cadre could possess.

Of the seven men who now comprise the Communist Party's new politburo standing committee, the apex of political power in China, four are members of "the red aristocracy", led by the new general secretary of the party, Xi Jinping.

The thriving of the princelings should not be a surprise, analysts and party insiders say. Rarely in its six decades in power has the party been under more stress. Public anger over widespread corruption, widening income inequality and vast environmental degradation have chipped away at its legitimacy.

The party's over-arching goal is to maintain its grip on the nation, and moving so many princelings into top positions is akin to taking out a political insurance policy.

"Fundamentally, princelings advocate maintaining one-party dictatorship," said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator. "This is (their) bottom line."

The rise of the princelings comes despite the fall of one of their own ambitious brethren, Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, himself a one-time contender for the standing committee and a son of one of Mao Zedong's closest comrades. Earlier this year, Bo's wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman in one of modern China's biggest political scandals.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:57:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the UK, most politicians come from 2 universities and a restricted group of private schools and generation by generation all knew each other since childhood. In the US a third generation of Bush progeny is seeking high office.

Democracy is a sham as plutocracy takes over

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:33:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush v Kerry: two candidates who went to the same university and belonged to the same secret society.
Only 15 people are selected each year.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:14:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RNW: TENS of thousands of Moroccans marched in support of the Palestinians in the country's two main cities on Sunday, after Israel's devastating eight-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 08:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Israel Didn't Win:
But the price of war is higher for Israel than it was during Cast Lead, and its room for manoeuvre more limited, because the Jewish state's only real ally, the American government, has to maintain good relations with Egypt and other democratically elected Islamist governments. During the eight days of Pillar of Defence, Israel put on an impressive and deadly fireworks show, as it always does, lighting up the skies of Gaza and putting out menacing tweets straight from The Sopranos. But the killing of entire families and the destruction of government buildings and police stations, far from encouraging Palestinians to submit, will only fortify their resistance, something Israel might have learned by consulting the pages of recent Jewish history. The Palestinians understand that they are no longer facing Israel on their own: Israel, not Hamas, is the region's pariah. The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behind Jabotinsky's `iron wall', deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won't shield it from the future.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 08:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand Morsi just declared himself Pharaoh after proving his reliability in the Gaza conflict by ignoring his voters and doing nothing. Change they can believe in.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:30:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia Reports: Colombia has sent a letter to the United Nations and will send another to the Organization of American States (OAS) to protest a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) granting almost 30,000 square miles of disputed maritime territory to Nicaragua, said Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin Sunday.

Colombia Reports: Colombia's government and largest rebel group FARC on Sunday announced a public forum on the first of five points on the two warring parties' agenda: agricultural reform. The forum will be held in the Colombian capital Bogota in December.

Cuba/Sandy aftermath:
LAHT, BEIJING - China dispatched a cargo aircraft with 90 tons of humanitarian aid to Cuba to help people who lost their homes when Hurricane Sandy devastated the region in late October.

LAHT, SAN JUAN - The crime wave continued to rise in Puerto Rico with a long Thanksgiving weekend that left nearly a score of people dead on the Caribbean island, where the homicide rate is more than 20 for every 100,000 inhabitants. The weekend death toll and the recent murder of retired boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho brings to the fore once more the drama of violence in the streets of Puerto Rico.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 08:42:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One Ha'aretz analysis (in Hebrew) points out that Lieberman has now become the moderate. Among the winners of top places in the primaries:
#1 in the Likud primaries is Gidon Sa'ar, the current education minister and the person behind the school trips that take Israeli children to the settlement in occupied Hebron, and the effort to open a university in the settlement of Ariel. He also has a lot to do with the attempt to shut down the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.

#5 Danny Danon: One of the most extreme right-wing Knesset members, who incited against asylum seekers in the rally that turned into a riot in Tel Aviv. Danon was the man who brought Glenn Beck to Israel.

#6 (Reuven Rivlin) and #12 (Tzipi Hotovely) support annexing the West Bank. To their credit, they also toy with the idea of giving full citizen rights to the Palestinian population. Hotovely once organized a Knesset hearing on "the problem" of Jewish-Arab interracial relationships.

[...]

#13 Miri Regev, former IDF spokesperson, who called Arab MKs "traitors" and referred to asylum seekers from Africa as a "cancer."

#14 Moshe Feiglin, who wants the state to encourage Palestinians - he once referred to them as parasites - to leave the country. Feiglin's claim to fame was the civil disobedience campaign he launched against the Oslo Accord. One of his latest op-eds was titled, "I am a proud homophobe."

#18 Ofir "Joe McCarthy was right about everything" Akunis: The sponsor of the anti-NGO bill.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:56:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel-U.S. effort to soften wording of Palestinian UN bid has failed, official says

Article is behind paywall, but Hebrew version says that they tried to change the wording to exclude the possibility of the Palestinians using the ICC. It looks like the UN bid will almost certainly pass, so the US and Israel made a much too late attempt to at least salvage something.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:45:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 02:59:03 PM EST
IPS - The Planet's Thermostat Moves to Doha | Inter Press Service

The upcoming United Nations climate talks may have a renewed sense of urgency with a new World Bank report warning that the planet is on a dangerous path to four degrees Celsius of global warming by 2100.

"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4ºC Warmer World Must be Avoided", released on Nov. 19, was prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics.

But the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 18) that begins Nov. 26 in Doha, Qatar has become extremely complex.

There is agreement amongst the 194 nations that are parties to the Convention on the need to set a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, to keep the increase in global temperatures below two degrees, to avoid catastrophic climate change.

That target is easy enough to understand, but exactly how this can be achieved has been the subject of intense and complex negotiations for many years, said Jennifer Morgan, director of the Climate and Energy Program of the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based NGO.

Last year at COP 17 in Durban it took extra days of negotiations for countries to finally agree to launch a new round of negotiations to create a legally binding international agreement.

That agreement will require carbon emission reductions for all nations by 2015 to meet the two-degree target. It is intended to be ratified and enter into force by 2020.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:58:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Failed CO2 Targets: Going Through the Motions at UN Climate Conference - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Can a member of parliament be expected to be chauffeured around Berlin in a small car? Or should he even stoop to the level of taking a cab? Now that, the Bundestag recently decided, would be asking too much. But because the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the elegant limousines normally used to chauffeur German lawmakers exceeds standards set three years ago, the Bundestag came up with a convenient solution. They simply raised the previously established limit of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer to 140.

And what about the fact that the European Commission in Brussels has been fighting for months to set the limit at 95 grams? Forget it! And the climate? Oh, that again.

Only a few years ago, lawmakers would have hardly dared raise the limits for allowable greenhouse gas emissions coming from their official cars. They would have been too worried about upsetting climate activists and triggering outraged editorials in the papers.

But things have changed, so much so that the Bundestag's decision hardly attracted any notice in the press, and neither did the government's decision to eliminate a rule requiring official trips to be climate-neutral. As mundane as these decisions seem, they symbolize a significant failure, namely that no issue of global urgency has tanked quite as quickly as the warming of the earth's climate.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN energy targets `would jack up global emissions 20%' | EurActiv

An ambitious but little known set of UN sustainable energy goals for 2020 aims to double global improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity, and provide universal access to modern energy services. But achieving this last target would cause a carbon emissions explosion, according to a senior UN economist.

More than one in five of the planet's 7 billion inhabitants lack access to electricity and another 1 billion lack stable supplies, a gross inequity that the UN Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) initiative aims to end by mobilising governments, business, and civil society.

But EurActiv understands that, while in an ideal world, only locally-sourced renewable energy would be included within the initiative, in practice less sustainable sources will be relied on wherever necessary.

According to Ulrich Hoffmann, a senior economist with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), speaking in a personal capacity from the secretariat's offices in Geneva, this could have "catastrophic" consequences.  

"We are far from an ideal situation and in reality if you were to hook these 1.3 billion people onto any form of energy supply - assuming current average consumption and production patterns - whatever is available in terms of energy mix, it would automatically jack up carbon emissions by no less than 20% globally," he said.  

Hoffmann argues that the `rebound effect' of increased energy supply without a corresponding decoupling from carbon sources in absolute terms, can only feed a cycle of increased production, consumption, and thus carbon emissions.

Instead he proposed a massive decline in the developed world's carbon intensity, and redistribution of `development space' - the amount of carbon emissions possible without exceeding 2 degrees Celsius of warming - to help the developing world.

If 1.3 billion were simply connected to electricity supplies, "the effect would be catastrophic," in advancing global warming with a potential to make life on large parts of the planet uninhabitable, he said.

But Hoffmann's perspective faces opposition from governments, private sector companies, NGOs and participants in the UN SE4ALL initiative.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lip service paid.
Pass the caviar niblets.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:18:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:58:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Life abounds in Antarctic lake sealed under ice : Nature News & Comment

It is permanently covered by a massive cap of ice up to 27 metres thick, is six times saltier than normal sea water, and at −13 °C is one of the coldest aquatic environments on Earth -- yet Lake Vida in Antarctica teems with life.

Scientists drilling into the lake have found abundant and diverse bacteria. "Lake Vida is not a nice place to make a living in," says Peter Doran, an Earth scientist from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a member of the team that has been exploring the lake -- the largest of a number of small bodies of water in the McMurdo Dry Valleys Antarctic desert. "It is quite remarkable that something wants to live in that cold, dark and salty environment at all."

Doran and his colleagues have drilled into Lake Vida twice: once in 2005 and again in 2010. The remarkable array of microbial life that they found is described today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

Water samples from both trips yielded around one-tenth of the abundance of cells usually found in freshwater lakes in moderate climate zones. Some of the cells measured up to 1 micrometre in diameter -- about normal for microbes -- but the samples contained many more particles that were around 0.2 micrometres in diameter.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:03:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Farmers Protest against Milk Low Price | EU Reporter
Outrage and frustration of the EU farmers over low price of  products expresses in flows of  dumped milk at the threshold of the European
Parliament.

A few cows, a few thousand tractors blockade the place Luxembourg in the heart of the EU headquarters is an eloquent demonstration of demands of the agricultural workers, forcing the ministers to unite in an urgent reunion.

"There is fire on the milk market. The situation of European dairy farmers is dramatic. For too long, the milk prices no longer covering production costs and thousands of producers had to close down. Farmers from all over Europe will come to Brussels on 26 and 27 November 2012, in order to attract, with protest actions spectacular attention to the untenable situation that they face. "Policymakers must take responsibility and decide effective legislative measures for the market ",explains on its website the European Milk Board (EMB), the organizer of the event at the European Parliament.

Farmers from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France and Belgium want to once again shout European authorities dismay. Clearly the price at which farmers sell their milk is lower than its cost of production. In Belgium, the average price of a liter of milk was 0.3024 euro in the first nine months of 2011, against 0.2617 euro for the same period in 2012, while production costs increased from May to June cents, explains Erwin Schöpges, vice president of MIG, the Belgian branch of the EMB.
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:06:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

(source)

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amazing. Feel a bit sorry for the police (and any civilians who had to pass). Hope that stuff is milk proof.
Tractors look a bit less cute en masse.

(As a foreigner I find "zuivel" one of the coolest and weirdest words in the Dutch language.)

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:41:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't feel sorry for the police, they won't for you.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:06:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I fear you are right. Usually passes quickly.

(Different topic: I think number one on my list of changes for the police would be "the law should apply to the police".)

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:38:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had an acquaintance some years ago who was a capitaine of the CRS (the French riot police) and he told me they were genuinely scared of farmers, because they were the best armed of all demonstrators they had to face, and the least reluctant to use them...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world's food crisis? | Environment | The Observer

The scrubby desert outside Port Augusta, three hours from Adelaide, is not the kind of countryside you see in Australian tourist brochures. The backdrop to an area of coal-fired power stations, lead smelting and mining, the coastal landscape is spiked with saltbush that can live on a trickle of brackish seawater seeping up through the arid soil. Poisonous king brown snakes, redback spiders, the odd kangaroo and emu are seen occasionally, flies constantly. When the local landowners who graze a few sheep here get a chance to sell some of this crummy real estate they jump at it, even for bottom dollar, because the only real natural resource in these parts is sunshine.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that a group of young brains from Europe, Asia and north America, led by a 33-year-old German former Goldman Sachs banker but inspired by a London theatre lighting engineer of 62, have bought a sizeable lump of this unpromising outback territory and built on it an experimental greenhouse which holds the seemingly realistic promise of solving the world's food problems.

Indeed, the work that Sundrop Farms, as they call themselves, are doing in South Australia, and just starting up in Qatar, is beyond the experimental stage. They appear to have pulled off the ultimate something-from-nothing agricultural feat - using the sun to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses as required, and thence cheaply grow high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables year-round in commercial quantities.

So far, the company has grown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers by the tonne, but the same, proven technology is now almost ready to be extended to magic out, as if from thin air, unlimited quantities of many more crops - and even protein foods such as fish and chicken - but still using no fresh water and close to zero fossil fuels.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neat!
(So what do you do with the leftover salt?)


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"sold on to other agricultural producers" according to the website.


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:21:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Herbal supplement dangers: FDA does not regulate supplements and they can be deadly. - Slate Magazine

This past October, the office of the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services issued two reports underscoring the need for improved oversight of the marketing of dietary supplements and improved surveillance of their effects. The reports add to a mounting body of evidence documenting a serious public-health problem.

Use of dietary and herbal supplements has grown dramatically in recent years in the United States. In 2007, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, $14.8 billion was spent on nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products, such as fish oil, glucosamine, and Echinacea--equivalent to approximately one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs. Of that total, $4.4 billion was spent on herbal supplements. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey for 2003 to 2006 indicate that one-half of American adults use dietary supplements and 20 percent use a supplement with at least one botanical ingredient.

Many people think that because herbs are natural, and because they are being marketed and sold legally, they must be safe and effective. Furthermore, surveys of the public indicate that most people believe these products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, both assumptions are mistaken. 

In 1994, Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, with heavy backing from the dietary supplements industry. By defining herbal supplements and botanicals as dietary supplements, DSHEA exempted them from the more rigorous standards used by the FDA in regulating food, drugs, and medical devices--essentially leaving it up to the industry to regulate itself. This single piece of legislation opened the floodgates to a rapid expansion in the sale of dietary supplements.

Between 1994 and 2008, the number of dietary supplement products on the market increased from 4,000 to 75,000. In the first 10 months of 2008, the FDA received nearly 600 reports of serious adverse events (including hospitalization, disability, and death) from these products and 350 reports of moderate or mild adverse events. However, the FDA believes that these reports are drastically underreported and estimates that the annual number of all adverse events is 50,000.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:08:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over here, if you're headed for surgery, you are asked to stop taking all such unprescribed drugs a couple of weeks in advance...
by asdf on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 06:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wohoo! No "chemicals"! It's much "better" to each "natural" things I can "understand"!

If only SMBC were right about "herbal".

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Zealand must probe Hobbit 'abuse': PETA | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The animal rights group PETA called on New Zealand's government Monday to probe what it said was the death of horses, chickens and other animal extras on the set of "The Hobbit" movies.

After producers of Peter Jackson's highly anticipated Tolkien trilogy rejected earlier accusations of animal mistreatment, US-based PETA said it was time for the government to "investigate these allegations for possible violations of New Zealand animal protection laws and take appropriate action."

PETA said that if its information was "accurate, the production company and others are surely criminally responsible for these injuries and deaths."

The group says that animal wranglers on the film reported the deaths of at least 27 animals, including three horses, six goats, six sheep and 12 chickens.

Incidents allegedly included a pony named Rainbow which broke its neck and back after being stabled with two "highly-strung" horses, and chickens killed by dogs.

Up to 100,000 people were expected to line the streets of Wellington on Wednesday for the world premiere of the Middle Earth epic "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".

Last week, producers said that the American Humane Association monitored all use of animals during the shoot and "no animals died or were harmed on set during filming".

"The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films," the statement said.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:09:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chickens being killed by dogs seems pretty natural to me...
by asdf on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 06:52:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, if you're an animal, being in movies seems like a good deal compared to the alternatives.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:27:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Radio"? So how can you tell if there are naked women in cages as part of the protest?


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am completely against Hobbit abuse.

Where do I sign?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:09:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, everyone is against abuse, but who can tell us what the safe limits are?

One or two Hobbits a day? Five?


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:23:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:49:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
heh :)
I'd say I thought that guy looked familiar, but I'd be lying.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:55:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, where's he gone?

Blackmagical Saûronic guiles?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 11:36:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's back again. Wasn't displaying for some reason.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 11:49:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing the same image in both places.
Something in your firewall/browser cache/proxy server/aaaargh call the correct helpdesk?

(Yes, I briefly did first line tech support. The "cup holder" joke is not a comedy, it's a documentary.)


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 11:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Been using Photobucket for years and no image has been stopped before. No cache, no proxy.

Probably aaaargh.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 12:46:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 02:59:06 PM EST
Array | Inter Press Service

When the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which advocates an end to what it says has been a failed `war on drugs', held its latest working meeting in Warsaw last month, the choice of venue was apt.

Eastern Europe, with the notable exception of the Czech Republic where possession of some drugs was decriminalised in 2010, has some of Europe's strictest drugs legislation. It also has some of the world's worst drugs-related problems.

And the two are inexorably linked, according to the Global Commission.

"We wanted to highlight the problems Eastern Europe faces with repressive drugs policy and its links to very serious problems in the region," Ruth Dreifuss, former Swiss president and a member of the Commission, told IPS.

Under communism, Eastern bloc countries' legislation on drugs was typically repressive. But since the communist regimes fell, policy has been slow to change in the region and, in some countries, remains as repressive as it was just over 20 years ago.

Stiff jail sentences are not uncommon for possession of even small amounts of cannabis, and prosecutions are often fervently pursued with the full force of local legal systems.

In Russia, widely seen as having the most repressive drug laws in Europe, possession of any amount of drugs - even the residue in a used syringe - is likely to result in a lengthy jail sentence, sometimes up to eight years.

Drug users' access to harm reduction programmes, including opiate substitution therapy (OST) - a treatment for drug users in which methadone or buprenorphine are provided to heroin users and which is standard practice in much of the rest of the world - and needle exchanges, is often officially, or unofficially, absent or restricted.

The result of these laws has been, campaigners for more liberal drugs laws say, not just the development of deadly epidemics, but a failure to reduce the numbers of drug users.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:10:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Be Linked to Autism - Bloomberg

Exposure to air pollution from cars and trucks during pregnancy and a baby's first year may be associated with an increased risk of autism, a study found.

The study, published today in the Archives of General Psychiatry, compared 279 autistic children with 245 children who didn't have the social and communications disorder. Researchers said the children who lived in homes with the highest estimated levels of air pollution from traffic were three times more likely to be autistic than those with the lowest predicted exposure.

The cause of autism is unknown, though genetic factors are probably important, according to the National Institutes of Health. Among other environmental causes that have been suspected are diet, digestive tract changes, mercury poisoning and vaccine sensitivity.

"The public health implications of these findings are large because air pollution exposure is common and may have lasting neurological effects," the authors, led by Heather Volk, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, wrote in their study.

The increased risk from air pollution generated by car and truck traffic may be due to exhaust particles, though today's study didn't measure the particulate matter at any of the homes of the children analyzed. Instead, researchers modeled what they expected the air pollution was, based on the mother's address. Additionally, the research didn't explore sources of indoor pollution, such as second-hand smoke.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:12:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that headline backwards?

(Would expect second-hand smoke levels to correlate with high pollution, living in the inner city etc.)


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:30:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to the future in Brussels | Technology | DW.DE | 23.11.2012

There's a revolution underway in the Brussels Philharmonic, in the shape of tablet technology. The orchestra has become the first in the world to embrace tablet technology - and ditch paper scores.

The digital revolution may just have reached its final frontier, classical music. The genre that is more associated with candle light and predates the industrial revolution has decided to embrace cutting edge technology in the form of the tablet computer.

To rapturous applause, the Brussels Philharmonic recently celebrated swapping their paper music scores for tablets at a sold-out concert at the Flagey in the heart of Brussels. Musicians played Wagner and Ravel, all the while swiping their touch screens instead of turning pages to follow the music.

Until recently, the orchestra was probably more famous for its 2012 Oscar winning performance, playing the soundtrack of the film The Artist, but a collaboration with Samsung might just add to their fame. The Brussels Philharmonic teamed up with technology giant Samsung and the software company "neoScores" for the project. And it's not just about one single concert - in the coming years the aim is to replace each music score with a digital version.

"It was only a few months ago that Samsung asked the Brussels Philharmonic to collaborate in order to perform some works using the digital format tablet," artistic director of the Brussels Philharmonic, Michel Tabachnik, told DW. "Whilst we're playing, we just have to touch the screen in order to turn the page; we can also write on the page - a down bow, a forte, or any musical notation - and that's of course something completely new."

Tabachnik is convinced this is the future, but admits there is still work to be done. "The project has to be developed and needs to be developed. We need at least a good year in order to achieve something a bit more ... playable. Now we are at the very beginning."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:14:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you scribble down bowing and fingering hints, repeats and skips, transcription error corrections, etc.?
by asdf on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 06:54:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
text boxes? symbals? (sic!)

clickable aliases?

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 09:00:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You play pieces by Wagner and Ravel without repeat markungs.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 12:05:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily a bad idea...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:06:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A comment by melo has disappeared here, I don't understand why...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd guess accidental toggling - easily done. Unhidden now. Will confirmation alert add to new ET when I get back to it later.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:15:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was visible to TUs (ie toggled not deleted) until I appended a comment asking if melo had requested hiding. Then both comments totally disappeared.

Yeah, confirm would be good.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:28:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could see your comment after his. Weird.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:33:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One more weirdery...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, and i thought it was the pun police!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:56:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With a stylus? Tapping and typing? It turns out that these electronic doodads can allow you edit documents.

This is what I use: forScore

Not a new thing.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 05:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touch screens ? How does that change the dynamic of letting go of your instrument ? How about a foot switch ?

How about conductor less concerts with all cues being provided pre-set from the computers ?

How about orchestral instrumentalists stepping up to become musicians ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:41:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to let go of your instrument to turn physical pages anyway.

The article also has a copy of a Beethoven manuscript with the inane caption

Will Beethoven's scores soon be available in online music stores?
If the author had just tried the Internet....well, it took me a few seconds to find the autograph of the 9th symphony. I also fail to see the relevance to the article - no orchestra is ever going to play from Beethoven's manuscripts....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:52:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to People Who Know, page size is a bigger problem. Real scores are A4 or bigger, and they have to be that size to make the dots big enough to read.

It's not even slightly unusual to tape pages to each other to avoid page turns and/or see a whole piece or section at a time.

So giving everyone a 24" monitor might work. But a 10" tablet is going to make life harder rather than easier.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Page size is a problem - you end up in landscape, with two page turns per page, effectively. Automatic scrolling might help, once you got used to it. I suppose.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:38:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a 15" turned on its side would do, with scrolling commanded by a midi clock, wouldn't it?

you're right about the tablets, too hard to see unless they were right in yer face, may as well use video-glasses.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Problem is tempo and beats are at the discretion of the conductor, so they're different on every run through. Only film score cues and pop orchestral fill-ins have a set duration. Every other kind of orchestral music is less rigid and can't be locked to a clock.

You might be able to finagle a system which tracks baton movements and conductor page turns to guess where you are, but it probably wouldn't be perfectly reliable.

Foot switches or gesture tracking would be a better idea. But you're getting into extra complexity for a system that doesn't actually offer any spectacular benefits over paper.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:58:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The master of timing, and possible inventor of the Click Track.


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but it's modern and ... books and newspapers are dead ... and stuff.

Can only find a previous version. I think this is now out in paperback.
Been a while since I've read this. I think the summary was "the right tool for the right job".

Similar to what Douglas Adams said about why there are still sharks (also an ancient design): they are the best at being sharks.

Last weekend I watched a video on a portable vinyl record cutting machine. 78's obviously (?)


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 10:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even before the internet, in the early 90's, there were small interactive kiosks where you could browse available music, decide what key you wanted it in, have it printed over at the counter and go pay an pick it up. (No credit card option that I could see.)

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely of more concern is musicians forgetting to mute the sound while they play Angry Birds during bits they are not involved in.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 04:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From my limited experience I'd say Angry Birds have nothing on Angry Directors.


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:33:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"we can also write on the page - a down bow, a forte, or any musical notation - and that's of course something completely new."

That must be from the Onion.
That's new???
Should I produce a scan of any of my orchestral scores, taken at random?

I clearly would not like to be reading from tablet (maybe one day, who knows?). Retro-lit would not sit well with me anyway. But yes, clearly, size is a huge problem.

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:06:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the conductor also use a computer? My experience with scores on a Mac is that it sometimes takes longer for the computer to "turn" the page than it takes the musicians to play the notes on the next page....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 08:12:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors?

They installed a tiny infrared light at the tip of an (unnamed) conductor's baton. They also placed similar lights on the bows of the violinists in the orchestra. The scientists then surrounded the orchestra with infrared cameras.

When the conductor waved the baton, and the violinists moved their bows, the moving lights created patterns in space, which the cameras captured. Computers analyzed the infrared patterns as signals: Using mathematical techniques originally designed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger, Aloimonos and his colleagues analyzed whether the movements of the conductor were linked to those of the violinists.

The scientists hypothesized that if the movement of the conductor could predict the movements of the violinists, then the conductor was clearly leading the players. But if the conductor's movements could not predict the movement of the violinists, then it was really the players who were in charge.



You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Nov 28th, 2012 at 12:52:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - The race to save Italy's Renaissance treasures

When the first earthquakes for half a millennium hit the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna in May, they cut a swathe through some of the country's most beautiful Renaissance architecture. Six months on, the fight to retrieve and restore those treasures before winter sets in has become a race against time.

Architect Andrea Sardo gasps and stops in mid-sentence, at a loss for words. "Excuse me," he says. "I'm meant to be used to this sort of thing, but I'm always..."

He is standing on a pile of rubble, looking into the skeleton of the Church of San Francesco in Mirandola, one of the towns worst hit by May's twin earthquakes.

San Francesco - once the personal basilica of the local ruling Pico family - is arguably the most historic of all the churches in Mirandola. But little remains.

A makeshift scaffold prevented the facade from collapsing. Beyond that, there are a handful of columns and a couple of Pico family tombs embedded in one of the few walls left standing.

A similar scene awaits at the cathedral, or Duomo. "I'm really shocked when I see this kind of thing," Mr Sardo says.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chinese House In The Middle Of The Road - Business Insider

When the government decided to build a highway to Wenling, a town in China's Zhejiang province, it offered everyone in the neighborhood compensation to relocate. 

But farmer Luo Baogen and his wife refused to move, saying the compensation wasn't enough for them to rebuild their home elsewhere. 

Faced with Luo's refusal to leave, the government decided to go ahead and build the road around it anyway.

Reuters reports that this phenomenon - when one building remains, after those around it have been demolished - is called a 'nail house'.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:18:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
an act of intimidation. I imagine the developer will set heavy lorries to drive round and around the house till it collapses

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 03:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Study: Everyone, Everything Linked To Paranoia

According to a study published Tuesday in The New England Journal Of Medicine, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have succeeded in conclusively linking everyone and everything everywhere to paranoia.

The comprehensive 11-month study--which was designed to establish that it's all tied to paranoia, all of it, and absolutely everyone is in on it--was able to connect extreme cases of paranoid behavior with the government, the media, doctors, Palestine, the meat industry, stoplights, and everything in existence, all working together, conspiring against us.

"Our research shows statistically significant correlations between episodes of paranoia and fast food chains, Time magazine, the growing military-industrial-media complex that holds all Americans hostage, honeybees, my mother, and China," said an unshaven, disheveled Dr. Adam Crane, lead author of the paper. "During routine tests, we saw that not only was frantic suspicion and extreme distress a symptom of everything being part of one big conspiracy, but it was also a direct response to the fact that everyone in the world, here and in other countries, is watching us right now at this very moment."

"Furthermore, our data confirmed this phenomenon goes all the way to the top," Crane added. "Straight to Obama, Bernanke, the pope, NASA, Jeff Leialoha of Ann Arbor, MI. Everyone."

:)

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are those who do not want all the evidence about paranoia to come out, who have tampered with the timeline to conceal the truth about our manipulation by unknown parties from the past, or the future.

IT may also be that they have subtly distorted the metallurgy of tin, so as to render our most cherished means of protection ineffectual.

Stay alert !

by greatferm (greatferm-at-email.com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 10:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally, I use lead. It's less comfortable, but it keeps the waves out. Most of them. I think.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 02:16:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or maybe that's just what they want you to think.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 06:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 02:59:09 PM EST
Global first: Brit visits all 201 states without flying - CSMonitor.com

A British adventurer has become the first person to travel to all 201 sovereign states in the world without flying, ending his four-year odyssey early Monday when he arrived in South Sudan, the world's newest nation.

Graham Hughes has used buses, boats, taxis, trains, and his own two feet - but never an airplane - to travel 160,000 miles in exactly 1,426 days, spending an average of less than $100 a week.

"I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring," Mr. Hughes tells the Monitor Monday by telephone from Juba, South Sudan's capital. "I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger."

Hughes, 33, set out from his home in Liverpool in northern England on New Year's Day 2009.

Since then, he has visited all 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara, and the four home nations of the United Kingdom.

Props!

by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 03:22:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
$100 a week is pretty amazingly low...
by asdf on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 06:56:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Must have gotten LOTS of free room and board and a goodly number of free rides to do that.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Nov 27th, 2012 at 02:59:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to be found it seems. Feel free to add.
by Nomad on Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 05:20:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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