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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 6 November

by Nomad Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:18:13 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1919 - Dutch engineer Hans Henricus Schotanus ā Steringa Idzerda broadcasts the first regular radio-transmission of speech and music for entertainment from his home in The Hague

More here and here

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by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:55:13 AM EST
EUobserver.com / Foreign Affairs / EU-Ukraine summit 'unlikely' this year
The EU and Ukraine will "most likely" not hold a summit this year, but diplomats blame it on technical instead of political reasons.

"We wanted to see the elections [in Ukraine] take place before we started preparations for the next summit, whch means this will most likely take place only next year ... sometime at the beginning of 2013," EU foreign service spokeswoman Maja Kocjancic told EUobserver on Monday (5 November).

A Ukrainian contact said late December had been mooted as a potential summit date, but people are now speaking of January or February instead.

"You should have a summit but you also need some deliverables," the contact added, referring to a diplomatic custom in which every top-level meeting is accompanied by some kind of deal.

The two sides have held a summit every year for the past 15 years.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 06:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine opposition protests election fraud - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Thousands of Ukrainians have massed in central Kiev to protest against alleged fraud in parliamentary elections won by the ruling party, and leaders of the opposition threatened not to recognise the new legislature.

At least 2,000 opposition supporters carrying Ukrainian flags gathered outside the headquarters of the central election commission on Monday amid a heavy presence of elite anti-riot police.

Political tensions have surged in Ukraine as the authorities have still failed to publish final results from the October 28 elections, more than a week after voting finished.

Commentators expect the ruling Regions party of president Viktor Yanukovych to take a wafer-thin majority, despite a strong challenge from the opposition led by jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko's Fatherland party said in a statement it was "ready to declare" the new parliament invalid unless the authorities "stopped the falsification of the electoral process."

'Spitting on the choice'

The threat has been backed by other main opposition parties, the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) movement and the UDAR party of boxer Vitali Klitschko.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is heading the Fatherland coalition in the absence of the jailed Tymoshenko, accused the Regions party of "stealing the votes of Ukrainians and changing the results in favour of its candidates." The firebrand leader of Svoboda, Oleg Tyagnybok, meanwhile said that the authorities were "spitting on the choice of Ukrainians."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 06:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Dutch coalition under PM Mark Rutte sworn in by queen

The Netherlands has sworn in a new coalition government led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Mr Rutte's liberal VVD party and the centre-left Labour party secured the coalition deal after coming out on top in 12 September elections.

The previous coalition collapsed after ministers failed to agree 16bn euros (£10bn) of cuts.

This new administration is seen as more pro-Europe and pro-austerity than the last one, our correspondent says.

Queen Beatrix swore in the new government at the royal palace in the The Hague, in a ceremony that was broadcast live on Dutch television and online for the first time.

The new coalition's motto is "building bridges", but the leaders have already warned voters that the new policies are going to be painful for everyone, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports from The Hague.

Both parties have tried to convince the public that in order to secure a stronger country in the future, they must make short-term sacrifices to get through the European financial crisis.

But this means an austerity package aimed at saving 16bn euros ($20.5bn) from the national budget by 2017.

The previous Rutte coalition actually set out to find 18 billion euros in cuts, and came to an agreement over 14 billion when Wilders pulled the plug. Small details, but it shows that Rutte found an even better negotiating party in Labour to serve Dutch austerity.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Dutch government is already shaky | Presseurop (English)

Only sworn in this November 5, the Dutch government already has problems. "A wounded VVD staggers towards the steps," headlines Dutch daily De Volkskrant, in reference to the steps of the Dutch royal palace of the Huis Ten Bosch. It's here where the traditional photograph of VVD (centre-eight) Prime Minister Mark Rutte with his newly-appointed cabinet, a coalition with the PvdA (Labour) of Diederik Samsom (who is not a cabinet member), is to be taken on Monday.

There are tensions between the coalition partners over such issues as contributions to national health care, a measure that part of the VVD considers too "socialist" and which "threatens the stability of the government before it is even sworn in," the paper says. It also notes that the bill, which aims to make contributions proportional to the revenue of the insured, is "in its current form, in any case, doomed to failure in the upper chamber" (the Senate) in which the government does not have a majority.

"The excitement over contributions is only a precursor of other misfortunes that will, undoubtedly, also affect the PvdA," De Volksrant forecasts in a leader article referring to "painful but inevitable measures". Mark Rutte and Diederik Samsom "acted according to the economic circumstances," which forced the Netherlands to slash 15 billion from its budget.

More details: it's a projected 16 billion in 2017, and 17.7 in the years after. The breakdown is quite debilitating and confounding, it has kept the Dutch in an angered tizzy for nearly a week now.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Single-seat debate heats up in EU | Europe | DW.DE | 05.11.2012

How can the EU justify having two parliamentary seats at the height of the euro crisis? A group of parliamentarians is pushing to get rid of sessions in Strasbourg and hold all debates in Brussels.

The home of the European Parliament is in Brussels, close to other key EU institutions, the European Commission and the European Council. However, for historic reasons, the entire parliament is obliged to hold 12 plenary sessions a year in the city of Strasbourg in eastern France.

That means that for one week every month all 750 members of the European Parliament (MEPs), plus thousands of staff, have to travel down to Strasbourg by plane, train or car. By road it's a distance of over 430 kilometers, a drive which takes around 4.5 hours - half a day's lost work.

That's quite apart from the financial and environmental costs associated with the Strasbourg circus. The total cost of running the parallel operation in Strasbourg is estimated at 170-200 million euros a year ($217-255 million), more than ten percent of the parliament's entire annual budget. Campaigners also point out that it also costs an estimated 19,000 tons of extra CO2 emissions.

This comes at a time when austerity cuts in many European countries are forcing ordinary people to make savings in their everyday lives. Many are asking why something wasn't done long ago to curb spending on Strasbourg. More than 1.2 million EU citizens have already signed a petition calling for a single seat in Brussels.

"The problem is that actually the European Parliament doesn't have a say on the matter," said Alexander Alvaro, a German liberal MEP, and co-chair of the Single Seat campaign. "If it [did], I think it would have been changed a long, long time ago as we see also in the figures in votes."

Momentum for change is building among MEPs, most of whom back the idea of holding all parliamentary business under one roof. Just a couple of weeks ago, in a vote in the European Parliament on October 23, 74 percent of MEPs voted to prepare a "roadmap for a single seat" - just 21 percent voted against the motion, most of them French.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The crisis goes on floating whatever boat is wished for. Let's see if DW.DE writes that, in view of the crisis, the EU can't afford to have the ECB in Frankfurt.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:57:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't say I've seen a cogent argument for a traveling Parliament though.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't find it now, but we once seemed to agree here (a long time ago) on an EP moving round the Union, a year at a time, so the parliament would be closer to the people.

I don't know if it's a cogent argument.

I do know that the persistent lobbying on the "travelling circus" theme, particularly from Eurosceptic Brits, makes me want to dig in in favour of Strasbourg. I fear this is not a rational response on my part.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:05:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a parliament should have the power to decide its own location. And apparently there is a broad majority for Brussels.

If it makes you any happier I don't think the Brits care about the actual placing of the parliament, so much as they want something to ridicule.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:59:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't make me any happier...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:09:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IPS - Serbia Sinks Into Depression | Inter Press Service

Renato Grbic is a simple Belgrade fisherman, who grew up on the shores of the Danube River in Belgrade, but he performs an additional job that he is not paid for.

In the last 14 years, 50-year-old Grbic has saved the lives of 25 people who were attempting to commit suicide by jumping into the river from Belgrade's Pancevo Bridge.

"When I ask them why (they wanted to end their lives), they either say they were `depressed' or they `could not take it any more'," he told IPS. "Times are really hard for people today."

Serbian Health Minister Slavica Djukic Dejanovic echoed Grbic's words when she said, "By 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of absence from work.

"The current number of psychotherapists and psychiatrists is not enough to deal with the issue and we are making an effort to improve the situation soon," she added in her opening address at a congress of mental health experts in Belgrade.

According to statistics from the ministry of health, this Eastern European nation of 7.2 million people has only 350 certified psychotherapists and 900 psychiatrists.

The Association of Psychotherapy Societies of Serbia puts the need for psychotherapists at between 6,000 and 8,000. Some 1,500 specialists are currently undergoing training and will be qualified to enter the system soon.

"Roughly a third of the population has experienced mental disorder due to the current economic crisis that has taken its toll in the form of unemployment and growing poverty," Nadja Maric Bojovic, head of the Belgrade Psychiatry Clinic, told reporters.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:07:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How apropos that bridges feature so prominently on the Euro notes.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:27:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is pretty hard in Serbia today for average people and it is unbearable for poor...At the same time it is great for rich...Just as it is in USA and EU.
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 10:07:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US election: Europeans endorse Obama for a second term | EurActiv

If Europeans could vote tomorrow (6 November) in the US election, they would back President Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney, numerous polls have shown.

In a survey released last week by British pollster YouGov, 90% of Europeans have said that they would vote for Obama if they could cast ballots. The reason behind it is that they don't know much about Romney, the 65-year-old former equity investor, and find his ideas leaning too far on the right.

Meanwhile, latest polls in the United States show that the race for the White House remains effectively tied with 47% voting for Obama and 46% backing Romney, according to a Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released Saturday.

"Europeans across the political spectrum see President Obama as broadly on the same wavelength," said British MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford, vice-chair of the European Parliament delegation on relations with the United States.

Criticised at home for being too European, Obama collects support on this side of the Atlantic for his policies of expanding healthcare insurance, concern for the less well-off, social liberalism on gender and sexual orientation, and climate change.

Romney, a Republican, does not particularly strike people as someone who has spent time contemplating civil liberties, human rights or the complexities of global politics, surveys show.

"Tea-Party-influenced Romney is seen as pulled to the extremes, his open criticism of European fiscal and social welfare policies jarring with modern European politics," said Ludford, adding that even the Republicans' nominal ally, the British Conservative party, is a staunch champion of the National Health Service.

This consensus has pushed some EU politicians and opinion makers to go as far as publicly endorsing Obama.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has broken any diplomatic protocol by openly expressing his hope that Obama wins.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:08:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / What's at stake for Europe as America votes?

On Tuesday (6 November) America goes to the polls, with President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney still in a statistical dead-heat.

Millions of Europeans will stay up until the early hours of Wednesday morning eagerly awaiting the result.

There is little doubt which candidate most Europeans prefer. Obama has enjoyed stratospheric personal ratings among Europeans ever since the 2008 presidential campaign and now - even after a sometimes troubled and underwhelming four year term - enjoys a near 70 approval rating.

But it is difficult to say that Europe has benefited much from his presidency.

Apart from the occasional lecture to EU leaders on the need to get their economic house in order, the US has largely stayed out of the eurozone debt crisis and the austerity versus stimulus debate - the major fault line in European politics.

Over the course of his three election campaign debates in 2012, Europe was mentioned just once in passing.

Meanwhile, Guantanamo bay remains open and US troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Doha trade round remains blocked and there has been almost no movement on cutting carbon emission. So why the fuss and what, if anything, will change after Tuesday?

For their part, EU diplomatic sources are happy with the quality of relations and think little will change regardless of who is elected.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:09:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's Dale Carnegie: "What I 'wanted to get out of it'?"

Let's see:
World as a whole "slightly better" or "a whole lot worse"?
"Very moderate financial reform in the US (i.e. for the world market)" or "business as usual"?
"40-80 million people with health insurance" or "survival of the richest".

Hmm, tricky choice.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe is culturally more liberal, more left than the US. So naturally we respond better to Democrats.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:27:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: ECB admits it messed up over Spanish collateral, but tries to play down the story(06.11.2012)
Vitor Constancio says the ECB had applied the wrong collateral policies in respect of a finance operation with Spanish banks; he says there was confusion which credit rating to apply to which type of collateral; he played down the significance of the story saying that no losses were occurred; Spain has blocked the "written-procedure" appointment of Yves Mersch to the ECB's executive board for now; the decision now goes to the European Council, which can shove Mersch into his chair through a qualified majority vote;  as Greece prepares for a vote on the austerity and reform programme, trade union are stepping up their protests with a 48 hour general strike;  the Greek government is expected to win the austerity vote - albeit with a small margin; in response to the Gallois report, the French government unveiled its own plan for growth and competitiveness; it contains many of the report's recommendations, though not the most important one of a reduction in non-wage labour costs; in its Article IV report on France, the IMF, too, warns about a loss in competitiveness; the German intelligence agency says a bailout of Cyprus would largely benefit Russian depositors; more details on Spanish unemployment figures show a fall in the number of contributors to social security; the troika imposes corporate governance reforms in Spain - by ending voting restrictions in companies; Angel Guria says Italy should be ready to tap the OMT; Iganzio Visco said several non-eurozone member states had questioned the effectiveness of the OMT at a G20 meeting; the Swedish central bank says it will use interest rates to contain household debt; James Saft says only a fall in the euro can help the eurozone now; Joseph Stiglitz advocates a German withdrawal from the eurozone; Nico Fried, meanwhile, argues that the German coalition is weak, and unable to turn the economic strength into an advantage, but it may still prevail at the next elections due to the extraordinary weakness of the opposition.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:10:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What does 'non-wage labour cost' mean?
Wikipedia has it as 'Retirement, Healthcare, Unemployment, Child allowance, Maternity, Disability and other contingencies'

Is this code for "No job, no savings? You're on your own".

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:38:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily. There is no pressing logic to use taxes on employment to fund these (unless you see them as insurance, but even then it is odd to have it at such a micro level, and retirement is pretty much a given, so insurance is not the right model).

Rather than trying to replicate insurance, look at the incentives: if you employ someone (thereby lowering unemployment), you pay tax for unemployment benefits. If you employ a machine, you don't.

So you may argue that, while we certainly should maintain those benefits, they should not be part of labour costs.

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 6th, 2012 at 05:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:55:17 AM EST
Spain extends rescue fund for regions | The Australian

SPAIN'S government has announced it will extend the life of a rescue fund through 2013 to help struggling regions finance crippling debts.

Recession-struck Spain's 17 regions have already flooded the rescue fund with cries for help as they try to pay off debts at the same time as slashing budgets to meet stringent deficit targets.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's right-leaning government created the regional liquidity fund in July this year with a budget of 18 billion euros ($A22.49 billion) to bail out regions.

A 2008 property market crash sent debt levels soaring in the regions, each of which is responsible for the costly provision of health, education and social services.

It is already clear that the regions' cash problems will not be resolved by the end of 2012, by when the government has predicted they will have a combined public debt of 160.1 billion euros ($A200.06 billion).

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:25:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Severe recession leaves Spain bewildered - FT.com

Roque Marchal has no trouble recalling the exact date that started his slide towards financial ruin: it was January 9 2006, the day he took out a bank mortgage to buy the building that housed his small carpentry business. The €390,000 loan was secured against the building itself, and against Mr Marchal's family home south of Madrid.

At the time, Spain was still enjoying the fruits of a prolonged housing boom and business was good. But the contracts dwindled and in November 2008 he had to close the company.

Determined not to lose the family home, Mr Marchal borrowed money from his daughters, who took out bank loans in their own name to help cover the monthly mortgage payments. By November 2009, however, he was in default. His family home was repossessed last year, and twice put up for auction without being sold. Out of work for the past four years, Mr Marchal still lives in his house, but fears he could be evicted at any moment. "The letter could arrive tomorrow," he says.

The story of housing boom and housing bust, debt and unemployment is repeated in towns and villages across Spain. It weighs heavily on the Spanish government as it ponders the political dangers and economic merits of a European Union bailout.

But for millions of Spaniards like Mr Marchal, the country's severe recession is above all else a fact of daily life, reflected in empty storefronts and crowded soup kitchens, in crushing personal debt, skipped mortgage payments and the looming threat of eviction.

The number of unemployed people rose by 128,000 in October, according to government figures released on Monday, and the monthly jobless rate has risen above 25 per cent for the first time in modern Spanish history.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:26:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece faces 48-hour strike over austerity cuts | Reuters

Greek workers begin a 48-hour strike on Tuesday to protest against a new round of austerity cuts that unions say will devastate the poor and drive a failing economy to collapse.

The walkout, called by Greece's two biggest labour organisations, is the third major strike in two months against a package of spending cuts and reforms that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government is trying to push through parliament to unlock aid.

Athens needs parliamentary approval for the package - which includes slashing pensions by as much as a quarter for some and scrapping holiday bonuses - to ensure its European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders release more than 31 billion euros (25 billion pounds) of aid, much of it aimed at shoring up banks.

The government has implored Greeks to endure the cuts in a bid to avoid national bankruptcy and insists they will be the last round of pain. But few are impressed in a nation where over a quarter are jobless while poverty and suicide levels soar.

"They should go to hell and beyond," said Anais Metaxopoulou, a 65-year-old pensioner, expressing the anger many Greeks feel towards their political class.

"They should ask me how I feel when I have to go to church to beg for food. I wouldn't hurt a fly but I would happily behead one of them."

The strike is timed to coincide with a crucial vote on Wednesday, when the government is expected to just about win backing for austerity cuts and labour reforms that the smallest party in Samaras's coalition has refused to back.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:28:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
insists they will be the last round of pain.

Yes, but how many last rounds are we going to have?

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:43:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the last one. The expectation is that all of the pain victims will either be dead or gone.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 10:31:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Get all of the names and addresses of the people making this promise

  2. Confiscate/freeze all of their assets.

  3. If things work out as promised, everybody celebrates the new prosperity.

  4. If things don't work out as promised, the public keeps the assets and the guillotines go into overdrive for all of the liars and their families.


Or keep doing your same bullshit and die a horrible death. I don't give a rat's ass either way.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 10:45:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hear, hear.

Accountability in politics. Novel concept.

I think the early 1990's was when I first heard a politician elaborate (post election, likely) on the difference between a "promise" and a "binding promise".

(Was it Edward de Bono who suggested each new bill/law/suggestion presented to parliament to be voted for should clearly state the criteria for failure?)

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:22:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Chirac used to say : "A promise is only binding on those who believe it".

(in private)

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

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:29:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nick 'Sadsy Bear' Clegg would be the expert on this, I think.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:46:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Foreign Affairs / US think tank: 'Let the eurozone fail'

Speak with most American officials about the EU and they will talk about the bloc as a partner and strong ally of the US.

Criticism of the 27-country bloc is reserved for the ongoing eurozone debt crisis and the spill-over effects of the currency union's austerity programmes and recession.

But this is not the case for the Heritage Foundation, a prominent think tank in the US capital.

To meet with the Heritage Foundation's policy experts is to be transported back to the days of the Bush administration.

Heritage is fiscally conservative, hawkish on the Middle East and on defence spending and eurosceptic. It also claims that man-made climate change is a myth. In the reception of its Washington offices the screens advertise events entitled "The US should withdraw from Unesco [a UN cultural body]" and "Why free markets are moral and big government is not."

The only props missing are life-size portraits of Ayn Rand, the Russian-American philisopher of laissez-faire capitalism.

The size of the 1973-founded Heritage is immediately striking.

Its €80 million annual budget pays for 280 staff, including 100 researchers on public policy. No European think tank can even come close to this level of financial muscle.

Its senior policy wonk Ted Bromund says that Heritage has over 700,000 members paying dues and receives just 2 percent of its funding from corporations. It is also among the most influential US think tanks, ranked 5th in 2009 by Foreign Policy magazine and recently co-hosting the foreign policy debate between the Republican party's presidential candidates.

But if most American politicians and think tanks are uninterested in Europe, Heritage breaks the mould, even if it speaks the same language as British eurosceptics such as MEPs Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farage.

A recently-drafted Heritage paper on "Five conservative principles that should guide US policy on Europe" sets out a clear new path.

It says the US "must end its support for political and economic integration in the EU, which has only encouraged the drive toward the creation of a fundamentally undemocratic federal Europe that is frequently anti-American in outlook."

For Bromund, the eurozone was "always a political rather than an economic project" and was inevitably going to face the problems thrown up by the sovereign debt crisis.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a fundamentally undemocratic federal Europe that is frequently anti-American in outlook."

Anti certain types of America, certainly.
Maybe he means "too independent"?

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hollande to play up Europe's economic might at Asia summit - Europe - FRANCE 24
French President François Hollande began a charm offensive on behalf of Europe Monday as he flew into Laos along with top European leaders for a global summit. Hollande is seeking to convince Asia that Europe remains an economic force.

Top European leaders jetting into Laos for a major summit are on a mission to reassure Asia that their crisis-hit region is "still an economic power", French President Francois Hollande said.

"There is a doubt in Asia about Europe's capacity to be a zone of stability and growth," he told reporters aboard his flight to the meeting of dozens of leaders from Asia and Europe in the Laos capital Vientiane.

 He said the main aim of his first trip to Asia since taking office in May was to "convince (participants) during the Europe-Asia dialogue that Europe is still an economic power".

Soon after arriving however, the French president risked the wrath of China by criticising the inflexibility of the Yuan currency.

"Some Asian countries, notably China, have currencies that are not convertible," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe summit. "We have to be competitive but that requires fair exchange rates."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German Intelligence Report Warns Cyprus Not Combating Money Laundering - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The Russians don't just love Cyprus for its great climate. The shell companies here are conveniently anonymous, the banks discreet and the taxes are low. Dirty money bestowed a lasting boom on Cyprus and the inhabitants of "Limmasolgrad" are still doing well.

The European aid will help the country stabilize its controversial core industry and keep it going for the next few years. In Brussels and in the EU capitals, the Cypriot financial sector doesn't enjoy an especially good reputation. Cyprus and its banks are widely seen as a tax haven and a money-laundering base.

Domino Theory Makes Refusal Impossible

But refusing aid is not an option. Angela Merkel has become a firm believer in the domino theory, which in this case would take on the following shape: allowing Cyprus to fall would put the entire euro zone at risk of collapsing. It would be a disastrous message to send to financial markets. Why should the Europeans save Spain or Italy if they can't even bail out a dwarf like Cyprus?

The German government is in an awkward position. It is forced by overriding considerations to make decisions that it can't really justify. There are considerable political risks. "A rescue package for Cyprus could be very incendiary," one member of her government admitted. Merkel is in danger of discrediting her entire euro policy by agreeing to bail out Cyprus.

The Europeans won't be able to plead ignorance, either. The BND has analyzed the situation in Cyprus and then debated it with experts from the "troika," made up of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank (ECB).

The BND officers didn't bring good news. Formally, the island nation sticks to all the rules on combating money laundering laid down by the EU and other international agreements, the agency said. The country had passed the necessary laws and set up the required organizations. But there were problems when it came to implementing those rules, it added. They weren't being applied properly. The Cypriots, the BND said, sign everything, pledge a lot, but keep few of those promises.

Money laundering is facilitated by generous provisions for rich Russians to gain Cypriot citizenship, according to the BND which found that some 80 oligarchs have gained access to the entire EU in this way.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:31:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK isn't combating money laundering either, and we're doing far more than Cyprus.

I guess that it's only bad if the money comes from Russia

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:31:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er... Cyprus financial sector wouldn't be a bit of an extension of the City, would it?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last time someone said "Domino Theory" we got Vietnam ...

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:49:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have to destroy the periphery in order to save it.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UK and Germany agree crackdown on tax loopholes for multinationals | Business | The Guardian

George Osborne, the chancellor, has joined forces with the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, to announce an international crackdown on tax avoidance by multinational companies.

The intervention comes came as the business secretary, Vince Cable, weighed into the Starbucks tax affair by berating corporate behemoths for "taking from the British economy and putting very little back". According to a Reuters report last month, Starbucks has not paid tax in the UK for three years.

Cable told the Guardian: "At times of hardship, when tens of thousands of British companies are paying their basic tax, to discover that leading multinationals are getting away with it is not acceptable."

Osborne said he and Schäuble, meeting at the G20 finance ministers' summit in Mexico, had called for "concerted international co-operation to strengthen international tax standards that at the minute may mean international companies can pay less tax than they would otherwise owe".

Neither was he eager to identity individual corporate culprits

government sources said the spread of e-commerce, and the ponderous nature of international corporate tax rules had left governments trailing as multinationals shift profits around the globe.

Osborne and Schäuble said they would back work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to identify possible gaps in tax laws.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:31:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How very credible Osborne and Schäuble are on this.

Watch out, they're going to back work by the OECD. Transnational capital, tremble!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:04:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will this cover the money Osborne has squirrelled away off shore?

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:50:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all perfeclty [sic] legal.

There are those at the bottom who pay PAYE. There are those in the middle who are able to defray some costs and taxes by using Limited Companies. In 1999, prior to IR35, virtually all contractors used this mechanism. At the top there are the Lord Ashcrofts, Ian Camerons, Lord Astors and George Osbornes who are able to get round paying very much tax by using offshore vehicles.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:54:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
World Bank: World Development Report 2013: Jobs (October 15, 2012)
High unemployment and unmet job expectations among youth are the most immediate concerns. But in many developing countries, where farming and self-employment are prevalent and safety nets are modest are best, unemployment rates can be low. In these countries, growth is seldom jobless. Most of their poor work long hours but simply cannot make ends meet. And the violation of basic rights is not uncommon. Therefore, the number of jobs is not all that matters: jobs with high development payoffs are needed.

Confronted with these challenges, policy makers ask difficult questions. Should countries build their development strategies around growth, or should they focus on jobs? Can entrepreneurship be fostered, especially among the many microenterprises in developing countries, or are entrepreneurs born? Are greater investments in education and training a prerequisite for employability, or can skills be built through jobs? In times of major crises and structural shifts, should jobs, not just workers, be protected? And is there a risk that policies supporting job creation in one country will come at the expense of jobs in other countries?

The World Development Report 2013: Jobs offers answers to these and other difficult questions by looking at jobs as drivers of development-not as derived labor demand-and by considering all types of jobs-not just formal wage employment. The Report provides a framework that cuts across sectors and shows that the best policy responses vary across countries, depending on their levels of development, endowments, demography, and institutions. Policy fundamentals matter in all cases, as they enable a vibrant private sector, the source of most jobs in the world. Labor policies can help as well, even if they are less critical than is often assumed. Development policies, from making smallholder farming viable to fostering functional cities to engaging in global markets, hold the key to success.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:29:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the best policy responses vary across countries, depending on their levels of development, endowments, demography, and institutions

[No Shit, Sherlock!]

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

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:55:22 AM EST
Obama Works Turnout as Romney Seeks Wave on Final Day - Bloomberg
President Barack Obama beseeched core supporters and wayward backers to go to the polls, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney reached for an upset victory powered by anti-incumbent fervor on the final full day of a race that polls suggest has tilted slightly in the president's favor.

The candidates are chasing each other through eight of the most competitive states, as national and state-level data showed Obama with a slim yet potentially decisive edge in the quest for the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.

"We have one job left," Romney told more than 1,000 voters chanting "one day more" at the airport in Sanford, Florida, as he began his final campaign sprint today. "We need every vote."

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:40:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Romney's Electoral College Challenge - Business Insider

Republican nominee Mitt Romney's hopes for a victory in the Electoral College are predicated on a rather unprecedented assumption: Almost all state polls have to be biased or systematically wrong in favor of President Barack Obama.

This has been the problem for Romney all along. Even when he surged into a national polling lead over Obama following the first presidential debate, the fundamental question was whether he would be able to take enough states from the president to win the Electoral College.

With just hours to go until the polls open, Romney's electoral task looks especially daunting.

Here's where the candidates stand in battleground states in the final day of campaigning, according to Real Clear Politics averages and a new New York Times' feature that outlines the 512 paths to victory for both candidates:

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:41:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com

That's a lot of polls, with one tie and every other poll showing Obama ahead. Since Ohio is generally considered crucial, you can see right there why all of the poll aggregators -- not just Nate Silver, but also Sam Wang, electoral-vote.com, Drew Linzer, Pollster, Talking Points are showing an Obama advantage. It's not the political leanings of the analysts; it's the polls. Again, the polls could be wrong, but they have to be systematically wrong by at least 2 percent to reverse this.

This shouldn't even be controversial, but of course it is. Partly that's because it's news some people don't want to hear. But I think there's also a math-is-hard problem: a political universe in which there are lots and lots of polls seems to play into some natural failings of our mathematical intuition.

First of all, from what I can see a lot of people have trouble with the distinction between probabilities and vote margins. They think that when I say, "state level polls overwhelmingly suggest an Obama victory", I'm also saying "state level polls suggest an overwhelming Obama victory", which isn't at all the same thing. We have a lot of polls, almost all of which say that Obama will win Ohio; but they don't by any means say that he'll win it in a landslide.

Second, people clearly have a problem with randomness -- with the fact that any poll, no matter how carefully conducted, has a margin of error. (And the true margins of error are surely larger than the statistical measure always reported, since sampling error isn't the only way a poll can go wrong). Specifically, what I think people don't get is the fact that when there are many polls of a state, some of them are bound to be outliers -- not, or not necessarily, because the pollsters have done a bad job, but because there's always noise in any sampling procedure.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:46:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't matter. They're neck and neck. Oh the suspense, stay tuned.

(French public radio this morning -- and for "French public radio", read any MSM).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like Romney may have found out how to win Ohio, fix the voting machines.

Orange Satan - OH SOS Husted Busted - Installed Uncertified & Untested Software on OH Voting Machines

At 9am Election Day, a federal judge will decide whether untested and uncertified secret software will remain on Ohio's vote tabulation and reporting systems in 39 counties. Bob Fitrakis, in his capacity as the Chair of the Ohio Green Party, filed suit at approximately 12:30pm on Monday, November 5 against Ohio Secretary of State John Husted and Elections Systems and Solutions for their clandestine installation of uncertified and untested software. Judge Frost, U.S. District Court Southern District Court of Ohio, agreed to the hearing to be held Tuesday, November 6.
The suit seeks immediate the injunctive relief of removing the untested, uncertified software from all county tabulators.

Should there be insufficient time or resources to remove said software from the tabulators, those tabulators will not be used and all ballots will be counted by hand if either the state or federal judge grants the injunction.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... now that would make election night interesting! Go Greens!

(Why are the Democrats not involved?)

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

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are you using machines, you morons?
Do you think technology makes it quicker, easier to use, fairer?

At least the mechanical machines just put a mark on a piece of paper, for those who cannot write.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Commentary: Total Capitalism and the Downfall of America - SPIEGEL ONLINE
The United States Army is developing a weapon that can reach -- and destroy -- any location on Earth within an hour. At the same time, power lines held up by wooden poles dangle over the streets of Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy ripped them apart there and in communities across the East Coast last week, and many places remain without electricity. That's America, where high-tech options are available only to the elite, and the rest live under conditions comparable to a those of a developing nation. No country has produced more Nobel Prize winners, yet in New York City hospitals had to be evacuated during the storm because their emergency generators didn't work properly.

Anyone who sees this as a contradiction has failed to grasp the fact that America is a country of total capitalism. Its functionaries have no need of public hospitals or of a reliable power supply to private homes. The elite have their own infrastructure. Total capitalism, however, has left American society in ruins and crippled the government. America's fate is not just an accident produced by the system. It is a consequence of that system.

Obama couldn't change this, and Romney wouldn't be able to either. Europe is mistaken if it views the election as a choice between the forces of good and evil. And it certainly doesn't amount to a potential change in political direction as some newspapers on the Continent would have us believe.

Romney, the exceedingly wealthy business man, and Obama, the cultivated civil rights lawyer, are two faces of a political system that no longer has much to do with democracy as we understand it. Democracy is about choice, but Americans don't really have much of a choice. Obama proved this. Nearly four years ago, it seemed like a new beginning for America when he took office. But this was a misunderstanding. Obama didn't close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, nor did he lift immunity for alleged war criminals from the Bush-era, or regulate the financial markets, and climate change was hardly discussed during the current election campaign. The military, the banks, industry -- the people are helpless in the face of their power, as is the president.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:47:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
high-tech options are available only to the elite, and the rest live under conditions comparable to a those of a developing nation.

Someone tell Spiegel about a hi-tech country with no minimum wage in some sectors, €400-a-month jobs, job creation almost entirely part-time, a trashed Eastern economy, and rising poverty stats.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:13:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Repeating myself, but "40-80 million people receiving health care".
Hardly "no difference".

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:59:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The link that I gave you on election topic is not working outside Australia. It's a pity because it was made just yesterday in Florida. OMG! You should see those voting machines. Haven't seen anything like that in museum.  It's prehistoric...and it is obvious they are using it intentionally. Anyway what I so of Florida in this program saddened  me.  USA is decaying and fast or is it that I just had so many illusions about "great USA" (I never visited). Now I understand that Florida is not exactly representing USA properly but I didn't expect so much poverty there. And what a (human) ZOO...sorry guys but I couldn't resist...
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 10:42:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Libya helps bankroll Syrian opposition movement - The Washington Post

The top financier of the Syrian opposition is no Arabian Peninsula oil kingdom or cloak-and-dagger Western spy outfit, but struggling, war-ravaged Libya, which is itself recovering from a devastating civil conflict.

According to a budget released by the Syrian National Council and posted to its Web site late Sunday, the Libyan government contributed $20.3 million of the $40.4 million that the opposition umbrella group has amassed since its creation in August 2011.

Qatar gave $15 million, and the United Arab Emirates contributed $5 million, according to the document.

Unlike Qatar and the UAE, which are absolute monarchies, Libya has embarked on a rocky path toward democracy and shares an ideological vision with Syrian revolutionaries.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:54:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria's Kurds: Civil Wars Within a Civil War | TIME.com

Syria's opposition needs to be more representative and inclusive, say U.S. officials mindful of the dangers of an increasingly sectarian civil war. But the scale of the challenge in creating an opposition that draws in ethnic and religious minorities sometimes more fearful of the rebellion than they are of the regime was highlighted in last week's clashes in Aleppo, between units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and a local Kurdish militia.

Protests against the rebels erupted last Friday in several Kurdish-majority cities across Syria, following rumors (later proved false) that Nujin Derik, a leader of the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG) militia in Aleppo, was executed by FSA rebels after delivering the bodies of FSA men killed in a firefight with her group. Clashes between the FSA and the YPG erupted on October 26 in Aleppo's Ashrafiyeh neighborhood, after some 200 anti-Assad rebels entered the predominantly Kurdish area in the course of their battle for control of the city. Kurdish leaders claimed the deployment violated an unwritten agreement by the rebels to stay out of Kurdish areas. When Ashrafiyeh residents staged a protest march towards rebel positions, they were met by a hail of bullets -- according to Salih Muslim, of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to which Derik's militia is allegedly answerable. By firing on the protesters, the rebels left Kurdish militia "no choice but to retaliate against the FSA," Muslim told TIME. "They killed some of them, captured others and threw the others out of the area." About 30 people died in the fighting.

Despite ongoing reprisal attacks and tit-for-tat kidnappings in the days that followed, leaders on both sides attempted to defuse tensions. Last weekend, the two sides agreed to cease hostilities and exchange all prisoners, including Derik. Still, many fear that the underlying tensions between the rebels and the Kurds could erupt in new fighting, reinforcing the sectarian divisions that impair the rebellion and setting back its efforts to gain control of Aleppo -- all of which helps the Assad regime stay in power.

Even if they oppose Assad, many Kurds, particularly those aligned with the PYD, see the rebels as Islamist thugs acting on behalf neighboring Turkey to control a post-Assad Syria. Many insurgents, meanwhile, resent the PYD and its armed supporters for staying out of the war against Assad, accusing it of being a cat's paw for the regime.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:58:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 10:44:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Libya has embarked on a rocky path toward democracy is totally dependent on the US and shares an ideological vision with Syrian revolutionaries better do as they are told if they ever want to see any of the money the west grabbed during the war.

Fixed it.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:48:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran nuclear fuel move may ease war fears - for now | Reuters

A slowdown in Iran's accumulation of its most sensitive nuclear material may have helped put off the threat of a new Middle East war for now, but Tehran's expanding uranium-enrichment capacity suggests any relief could be short-lived.

By dedicating a big part of its higher-enriched uranium to make civilian reactor fuel, Iran is removing it from a stockpile that could be used to make nuclear weapons if refined further and which would otherwise have grown faster.

This may explain why Israel - assumed to be the region's only nuclear-armed state - recently signaled that an attack was not imminent, after months of speculation that it might be.

But the trend that has emerged in U.N. nuclear watchdog reports on Iran this year could yet be reversible, proliferation experts say: the material can be converted back to uranium gas as long as it has not been introduced into a working reactor.

Doing so "would take a bit of time, but not more than a month or two, using technology the Iranians have already demonstrated that they have mastered," a Western envoy said.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:54:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Malawi suspends laws banning same-sex relationships - The Times of India
Malawi has suspended laws banning same-sex relationships in a move welcomed on Monday by rights groups who urged a full repeal during an upcoming parliamentary debate.

Rights group Amnesty International said the shelving of the laws, which carry a maximum jail term of 14 years for gay men, was a "historic step in the fight against discrimination".

"Amnesty International... hopes it serves as the first step towards ending discrimination and persecution based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in Malawi," said southern Africa director Noel Kututwa.

The country's Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara told a recent radio debate that the laws will not be "enforced until the time that parliament makes a decision."

"There is a moratorium on all such laws, meaning that police will not arrest or prosecute anyone based on these laws," Kasambara, who is also attorney general, said on local private radio station Zodiac.
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cautious reformers tipped for new China leadership | Reuters

China's ruling Communist Party will this month unveil its new top leadership team, expected to again be an all-male cast of politicians whose instincts are to move cautiously on reform.

Sources close to the leadership say 10 main candidates are vying for seven seats on the party's next Politburo Standing Committee, the peak decision-making body which will steer the world's second-largest economy for the next five years.

Only two candidates are considered certainties going into the party's 18th congress, which starts on Thursday: leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping and his designated deputy, Li Keqiang, who are set to be installed as president and premier next March.

Of the remaining eight contenders, only one has the reputation as a political reformer and only one is a woman.

Following are short biographies of the candidates, including their reform credentials and possible portfolio responsibilities.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:59:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:55:25 AM EST
An EU cap-and-trade scheme for water pollution? Greens say no | EurActiv

Environmentalists who have gone to court in a bid to kill a US water pollution trading system say it would be a mistake for Europeans to consider a similar cap-and-trade scheme to reduce fertiliser and other agricultural emissions.

EU conservationists fear that the European Commission may be tempted to recommend market-based approaches for water pollution in its forthcoming water blueprint, or in future amendments to water pollution laws.

In a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Washington, two conservation groups seek to overturn an emissions trading scheme designed to save the Chesapeake Bay, whose future as one of America's most vibrant marine ecosystems is in doubt because of high concentrations of agricultural pollution.

Lawyers argue in a lawsuit filed in October that the US Environmental Protection Agency illegally created a cap-and-trade system in 2010 under the Clean Water Act.

"Our argument is that the way the statute was written ... there is no room for a market-based approach, that cap-and-trade for the trading and marketing of pollutants can't exist under the laws of the United States," said Scott Edwards, co-director of Food and Water Watch, which along with Friends of the Earth are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Edwards said environmentalists have learned lessons from both sides of the Atlantic that cap-and-trade schemes - such as the EU Emissions Trading System for air pollution that applies to industry, energy and, since January, aviation - do not deliver the same punch as regulatory mandates.

EU's regulatory success

The EU's sulphur dioxide mandates have led to dramatic reductions in SO2 levels since the EU's air quality directive was enacted in 1999, while US efforts to reduce the same gas through a market-based system have been much less effective, Edwards said.

"Where the United States under a cap-and-trade programme for SO2 was achieving 29% reductions in Phase 1, the European Union, which was using command-and-control techniques to manage SO2, was achieving 80% reductions - two to three times our success rate," Edwards said in a telephone interview.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:59:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edwards said environmentalists have learned lessons from both sides of the Atlantic that cap-and-trade schemes ... do not deliver the same punch as regulatory mandates.

How totally unsurprising.

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

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - China files EU solar subsidy complaint with WTO

China has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against subsidies provided by some European governments to solar panel makers.

This is the latest in a long line of trade disputes pitting China against Europe and the US.

In September, the EU launched a probe into alleged "dumping" of solar panels by Chinese manufacturers.

Last month, the US said it would increase tariffs on solar cells imported from China.

The Commerce Department said the rise was specifically designed to offset the subsidies China pays its own solar manufacturers. Growing exports

In the latest move in the dispute, China's Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Shen Danyang, said EU subsidies constituted a "violation of WTO prohibitions on import replacement subsidies, seriously affect Chinese exports, and harm China's rightful interests as a WTO member.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate Progress | ThinkProgress

According to preliminary figures released last Friday by the nonprofit Solar Foundation, 13,872 new solar jobs were added from September 2011 to September 2012, bringing the total U.S. solar job count up to 119,016. This 13.2 percent increase surpasses the Bureau of Labor Statistic's estimated employment increase of 2.3 percent during the same period. It also surpasses growth in some sectors of the fossil fuel industry - jobs in the fossil fuel electric generation industry fell by 3,857 or 3.77 percent, according to the study.

The full report, set to be released Nov. 14, bases its results on data gathered from more than 1,000 solar companies. The report will contain more detailed information about the reasons behind the employment increase, but a release from the Solar Foundation mentioned the falling cost of equipment and federal solar policy as some of the key drivers of job growth.

In 2012, solar energy accounted for about 2.5 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Agency. That's a still a small amount, but jobs in the solar industry are higher than some other industries with a higher penetration. Wind energy, for example, accounts for about 16.5 percent of U.S. renewable energy consumption, but provided 75,000 American jobs in 2011, compared to the Solar Foundation's count of 105,145 solar jobs for the August 2010 to August 2011 period. The EIA predicts solar energy consumption will continue to increase over the next year - total U.S. on-grid photovoltaic capacity nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011 - and will grow 7-fold by 2035.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wave of Death Hit New York Enclave - WSJ.com
As superstorm Sandy barreled toward New York City, Jack Paterno, who got around in a wheelchair, stayed put in the low-lying neighborhood of Midland Beach. Nearby family members assumed the storm wasn't going to be so bad. But when it hit, a wall of water submerged Mr. Paterno's one-story bungalow in a matter of minutes.

"There was this 5- to 6-foot wave of water just coming down the street, nonstop,'' said Mr. Paterno's next-door neighbor, Al Rami, 28 years old. Family members tried to get to the 65-year-old Mr. Paterno, but the storm surge held them back, a niece said. On Wednesday, police found his body inside his house.

Millions of lives have been upended by the storm, which left 110 reported dead, tens of thousands in the metropolitan area homeless and many more grappling with power outages and gas shortages. But nowhere was Sandy more deadly than in and around Midland Beach, a working-class enclave of families of Irish, Italian and Russian descent.

Ten of the 40 known to have died in New York City lived along a roughly one-and-a-half mile stretch of the Staten Island coastline. The dead were mostly older people, many of whom lived alone in homes that were no match for the storm surge neighbors said overtook the streets. All are believed to have drowned.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Science behind Superstorm Sandy's Crippling Storm Surge: Scientific American

Throughout the New York metropolitan region and farther south in New Jersey, Sandy's hurricane-force winds brought down trees and power lines, causing an estimated $20 billion or more in damage. But the more than 74-mile-per-hour winds' most enduring impact may have been from the massive swell of water they pushed atop land, obliterating beaches, drowning boardwalks, filling subway tunnels, destroying electrical infrastructure and wrecking lives.

Although it may be hard to believe, the event could have been even more damaging. "This was not the worst case," says storm surge specialist Jamie Rhome of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "A worst case would have been a stronger storm with the exact same track" that also came ashore at the same time as high tide. "That would have produced even more flooding," he adds.

Yet, Superstorm Sandy's massive flooding is already unprecedented in recent decades. According to experts, however, it is only going to become more likely in coming decades, thanks to a combination of local geography, vulnerable coastal development and already-happening sea-level rise as a result of climate change. In the future, it will not take a frankenstorm like Sandy to inundate the region. Given that reality, the best defense may be to accept the inevitability of flooding and prepare infrastructure to withstand it, as is common in other regions more historically prone to storm surge flooding.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quark Soup by David Appell: Rethinking Sandy
The problem with blaming it on climate change is you have to then explain why earlier storms -- the New England Hurricane of 1938, the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, the Snow Hurricane of 1804 -- happened anyway. And science cannot yet do that. So needless to say, neither can activists. (And lots of them are shamelessly trying, all coming from their individual biases.)

So you have to use statistical trends. And I don't see that they're there -- not for global hurricane frequency, or global accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), or global power dissipation index. Restricting one's view to the North Atlantic does show a trend, especially in ACE and tropical storms and major hurricanes. But then you have to explain why it's happening in the North Atlantic but not elsewhere on the globe, and why it's not natural.

Plus, the North Atlantic ocean is bordered by the world's biggest media markets, and Sandy just plowed into the biggest media market of them all.

The by-now standard argument of "was this climate change" is getting banal -- it happens with every storm. Activists clearly see storms as material to be harvested for propaganda. You get a lot of statements like this one in Nicholas Kristof's column today:
"You can't say any one single event is reflective of climate change," William Solecki, the co-chairman of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, told me. "But it's illustrative of the conditions and events and scenarios that we expect with climate change."
So you can't say anything based on this storm, but you can -- which Kristof then goes on to say. And, of course, such caveats are quickly forgotten as people blame the storm on climate change anyway.
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:08:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Huh. Kristof says Eskimos have no word for the bird "robin". How do you translate Batman into Inupiat?)

To answer the question: "Will Climate Get Some Respect Now?"
Nah. Just move government and big business inland a bit.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Vihjalmur Stefansson, My Life With the Eskimo, 1913 (cited here)
Robin. Kre-ku-ak'tu-yok (Mackenzie Eskimo). Shab'wak (Alaskan Eskimo).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Gods. Four years ago. (Or 100, if you count non-virtual sources.)

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some interesting things in the comments

Here's a non-misleading way to have the discussion:
  1. Explain that hurricanes are heat engines that only function when the sea surface temperature is above 26.5C.
  2. Show the sea surface temperature chart for the period just before Sandy. You will note that there is a large patch of abnormally warm water in the North Atlantic, in the path of where Sandy was.
  3. You will also note that there are lot more patches of warm water than cool. This graphically shows the "loaded dice".

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:26:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with blaming it on climate change is you have to then explain why earlier storms [...] happened anyway.

I realise Appell is trying to be a conscientious scientist.
However this is the essence of "can't prove a specific case - let's do nothing" thinking and will be used as an argument for such.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:33:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for Appel. I'm increasingly of the opinion that doing nothing is the most stupid, but mitigating GHG exhaust hoping to prevent future weather catastrophes is only a trifle less stupid - and a handy political distraction to boot.

Hence the previous post on the storm surge. Sandy beat the record because of the tide, a few cms sealevel rise, ground denudation etc - not because it was a ferocious hurricane, which it wasn't. What the area needs is better protection and stricter building regulations...

by Nomad on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 08:19:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you wouldn't want people to get the right idea for the wrong reasons ;)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 08:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also true.

So when dividing we can apparently just remove similar digits ...

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 09:30:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...is when people get the wrong idea for the wrong reasons...

Mitigating the exhaust of greenhouse gasses is the right idea when one is concerned about lots of things - energy security, food security, destruction of habitats, desertification, and so on.

But when it's one's responsibility to save human lives or reduce damage costs caused by extreme weather events, it's predominantly a distraction. In such cases, adaptive strategy and long tail risk assessment are the first order terms to consider. Of course, such things cost a lot of thought and money and are generally/politically unpopular. (Unless you've learned the hard way - which the Dutch have, but even here the lessons seem to be fading.)

In the full equation, reducing carbon exhausts doesn't rank near the first order terms. But politicians run with it anyway - and thereby get handed a perfect getaway card for doing close to zilch to reduce the more pressing risks and hazards.

Even worse is when they'd actually believe the narrative that reducing the world's carbon output will significantly tamper the effects of extreme weather events - a wholly wrong idea for the wrong reasons.

by Nomad on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:36:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Appell is saying the mathematics of linear, dissipative systems does not adequately model non-linear, summative systems subject to sensitivity to initial conditions.


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

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:20:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - UK water resources 'left to weather's mercy'

A new report blames the government for leaving the UK's water resources at the mercy of the weather.

The document from 16 leading environmental organisations says it took the wettest ever summer to avert serious drought.

It warns that another series of dry winters would put Britain back on drought alert.

The government said its draft Water Bill would build resilience into the UK's water infrastructure.

The Blueprint for Water report measures the Government's performance against 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015.

It applauds ministers' commitment to tackle unsustainable abstraction from rivers and wetlands, extend the use of metering at a fair price and develop a catchment-based approach to managing the water environment.

But it says ministers are still failing to produce a long-term, sustainable approach which works with our natural water systems.

The groups want much more use of moors, marshes and plants to store and clean rain water, instead of allowing it to run straight into rivers and thus increase the risk of flooding. This would help tackle droughts as well as floods.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We won't let government take charge because government doesn't work and because...freedom.

Plus, there's not a lot they can do when half of the population live in an area where there is plainly insufficient rain to support the population and no will to do anything to change that density.

To change it they'd have to pump a colossal amount of water hundreds of miles and also up a couple of hundred feet at least twice. I genuinely don't believe it can be done.

The cheapest long term solution would be to move Government and all departments (2 -3 million people) 300 miles north. This would shift the gravity of employment away from london, making it more sustainable. But they'll never do it...cos british government is stupid

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:50:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Move government north? Please don't.
The whole point of living in the North is to be well away from London.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:47:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gene-Altered Tomato Among Heart Therapies Showing Benefit - Bloomberg

Tomatoes genetically engineered to unclog arteries and a strain of a bacteria in yogurt designed to lower cholesterol are among a new wave of alternative remedies showing promise in the fight against heart disease.

Scientists presented two studies today at the American Heart Association meeting in Los Angeles that suggest food may be altered in such a way that it offers benefits similar to traditional pharmaceuticals.

In one study, researchers fed mice pieces of tomatoes altered to produce a peptide that mimics effects of artery- clearing HDL cholesterol. In a second, people were given a twice-daily capsule of Micropharma Ltd.'s probiotic, made from yogurt bacteria. In both cases, the results showed significant heart-health benefits, and researchers said they may add to cholesterol-reducing drugs like statins in the fight against heart disease.

"As good as statins are, they haven't completely reduced the number of people still dying of heart attack and stroke and those numbers are still quite significant," said Alan Fogelman, the lead author on the tomato study and a cardiology researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles

In the tomato study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the mice displayed reduced plaque and higher HDL. The experimental drug is the first of its kind made in a plant that can be eaten, the researchers said. Separately, the probiotic trial, done in 127 people, found the yogurt bacteria helped cut total cholesterol by 9.1 percent.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:09:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People with serious cholesterol problems should just eat tomatoes, simple as that.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:18:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a vegetarian diet has been proven to reverse arterial plaque and lower cholesterol, and guess what?  pharmaceutical companies don't make a profit from it
by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't live longer, but time drags so that it feels as if you do

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 09:06:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Every day took an age to go by, which was odd, because days plural went past like a stampede. [...]
Endless days, going by fast. Didn't make sense."
-Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man

"9 am. Thirteen more hours and I can go back to bed."
-Victor Meldrew on his first day of forced retirement.

So it goes.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 09:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's not the case if you know some good recipes.
by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 10:57:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The Onion's "Genetically Modified Broccoli Shrieks Benefits at Shoppers" only available as audio these days, sadly.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 11:26:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israeli army opens West Bank barrier for animals | Environment | DW.DE | 02.11.2012

The West Bank barrier is blocking animal migration between Israel and the Palestinian territories. But now, the Israeli Defence Force is seeking ways to allow animals to get over - or even through - the wall.

Hundreds of kilometres of concrete, iron and barbed wire cut through the West Bank, across deserts, over mountains and through forests. Israelis call it a security fence while Palestinians call it a racial separation wall.

But, whatever your politics, it's plain to see that the barrier is an impassable structure which cuts a substantial visual scar across the landscape. Pass through any of the main checkpoints with their vast security system of cameras, scanners and iron gates, and it becomes clear just how difficult it is to move from one side to the other.

Spare a thought then for the wildlife in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:11:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
whatever your politics

DW.DE is a disgrace.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:20:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how the world can accept this wall is a puzzle to me.  if it were the Communists or the South Africans, the outrage would be non-stop
by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:35:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are yo aware of the walls around the North African Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla? No outrage there, either, because they are keeping immigrants away from Germany.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:43:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no, I was not aware of it.  That wall is pretty far from Germany. I suggest it's to keep them out of Spain.
by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that once you're in Spain there are no borders between you and Germany?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:02:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is why Sarkozy and Merkel wanted to roll back Schengen.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:09:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh please....

Germans are responsible for a lot of ills in the world, but this is ridiculous.

by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel: Germany and France Seek Reintroduction of Controls (04/20/2012)
Germany and France want to weaken Europe's border-free travel agreement, according to a Friday newspaper report. Berlin and Paris would like to be able to temporarily reintroduce border controls due to concerns about illegal immigration. The move is not, a Berlin official assures, to be seen as re-election campaign help for Sarkozy.

It was less that one year ago that Denmark decided to reintroduce controls on its borders with Germany and Sweden, a move, Copenhagen said, that was necessary to put a stop to illegal immigration and organized crime. The reactions from Berlin and other European capitals were immediate and unequivocal. The step taken by Copenhagen marked a "bad day for Europe," said German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. Europe's border-free travel regime, said the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, "cannot be infringed upon."

Now, just nine months later, it is Germany itself that is looking to weaken the Schengen Agreement, the treaty signed in 1985 to remove inner-European border controls. According to a report in the Friday edition of daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany and France are seeking to change the treaty to allow for the temporary reintroduction of border controls.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:22:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also: FrontEx.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:28:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm.  no mention of thatwall in Spain in that article.
by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:30:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like I said, the wall is disgusting but convenient. You wouldn't want a media outcry or anything...

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:19:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have some information: World's barriers: Ceuta and Melilla (BBC, 5 November 2009)
These two autonomous cities, situated on the other side of the straits of Gibraltar in the midst of African territory, represent the easiest access into Europe from Africa.

Erected in the 1990s, the 8.2km (5 miles) of wire fences in Ceuta and 12km in Melilla, have since been modernised.

The surge of illegal immigration into Spain recorded at the start of 2000 led Spanish and European authorities to reinforce security, constructing three parallel fences in each city.

Spain is a transit destination, especially now that it's in a 1930s-scale depression.

The wall continues to be upgraded. Since 2009 it keeps getting higher and thicker. I believe it's now 6 metres high, which doesn't prevent african migrants from successfully climbing it. Apparently they organize assaults in groups of hundrends of people, with the goal of having some of them make it to the other side.

El Pais: Over 1,000 migrants lined up along border ready to jump into Melilla (17 October 2012)

Three previous attempts by migrants to scale the fence en masse have already taken place in recent days, two of them in broad daylight, resulting in at least 120 people reaching Spanish soil. The government says it is expecting another attempt in the coming days.


Around 300 immigrants of sub-Saharan origin succeeded in jumping the barrier in the area around the Oro river at around 3pm on Tuesday. The government delegation in Melilla said around 100 of them managed to make it into the city, describing the incident as an "avalanche" and a "genuine invasion."

Most have been cheated by mafias and are in a desperate situation"
A further 50 or so tried to scale the fence at around 11pm on Tuesday night but were forced back by Moroccan police.

The cooperation of the Moroccan authorities is essential in keeping Europe's borders. Apparently another thing Morocco does under the media radar is set up detention camps in its Southern desert regions, to where migrants who are intercepted trying to cross to Europe in the North are deported.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:08:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ancient grain makes a comeback

One of humankind's oldest cultivated plants, emmer wheat, has reappeared in Finnish fields and is being used in pastas, buns and even beer.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 12:45:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there's an italian uses it for beer and I think a couple of guys in the US.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:53:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Twitter / ukgreenpathways: @GeorgeMonbiot @ukgreenpathways: ...
@GeorgeMonbiot @ukgreenpathways: http://pwc.to/VN6LAh  PwC: world on course for six degree rise by 2100 even if we double decarbonisation.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:55:29 AM EST

On Google, a Political Mystery That's All About Numbers - WSJ.com

Google Inc.'s quest to guess what we want before we want it has produced an unusual side effect: a disparity in the results the company presents about the presidential candidates.

A Wall Street Journal examination found that the search engine often customizes the results of people who have recently searched for "Obama"--but not those who have recently searched for "Romney."

Here's how it works: When a user searches for the name Obama, Google includes links about President Barack Obama in subsequent searches on terms such as "Iran," "Medicare" and "gay marriage." The altered results are labeled in gray type: "you recently searched for Obama."

Testers searching for "Romney," however, didn't see customized links containing Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney's name in their subsequent search results.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:12:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iranian Supreme Leader's granddaughter is big on Facebook, despite block

Iran takes Facebook very seriously. The site is blocked by the country's web filters and monitored by dissidence-hunting officials, who are so wary of the site that they have threatened the families of Iranian expats for criticizing Tehran's leadership on their Facebook pages. Still, the State Department estimates that 14 million Iranians bypass the filters to access their Facebook accounts. And one of them is Naeimeh Eshraghi, the devoted granddaughter of one Grand Ayatollah Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini.

The American Enterprise Institute's Ali Alfoneh spotted Eshraghi's page, which lists the maximum allowable 5,000 friends and many, many badges for support for her grandfather and the Islamic Republic he founded. She also appears to like Princess Diana of Wales, soccer, and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, whom the Iranian government has exiled.

Alfoneh points out that Khomeini himself circumvented the censors in pre-revolutionary Iran, slipping in his sermons on cassette tapes. Eshraghi discusses her Facebook page in an interview with an Iranian Web site, explaining, "It has been most pleasant to get to know the different layers of society." 

If it were up the Iranian government her grandfather founded, Eshraghi would of course not have the opportunity to get to know any layers of society through Facebook. It's a reminder of the impossibility - maybe even absurdity - of web censorship that such a public figure as Khomeini's granddaughter would so openly discuss her use of an officially banned Web site that's also remarkably popular. It's just assumed that you circumvent the filters.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Threatened by isolation, Switzerland lifting veil on secret bank accounts - Europe - World - The Independent

For decades, Switzerland was the place where money went to hide. Cash sent to its mountain aeries was protected by some of the strictest secrecy laws in the world.

But with the euro crisis forcing Switzerland's revenue-starved neighbors to search out new sources of money, the Alpine country's bank vaults are suddenly looking irresistible. In recent months, the nation's strict banking secrecy has been under assault from countries such as Germany and Britain as never before. Experts say that the last veils may soon be dropped altogether, bringing the hush-hush tradition to a final end.

Just last week, the council that serves as Switzerland's executive branch met to discuss new steps toward banking transparency after having been threatened with painful isolation if it did not agree to reforms. Later this month, the upper house of Germany's parliament is set to vote on a treaty with Switzerland that would require the banking stronghold to withhold taxes from the accounts of German residents. Similar deals have been signed recently with Austria and Britain, and the possibility is being discussed with others.

The United States has also been cracking down on international tax evasion since 2009, and has extracted punishing damages from Swiss banks that were found to have helped American citizens escape the IRS.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is BS.  I have it from a high up in Switzerland's largest banks that the Americans shopped to the IRS were owners of relatively small amounts in Swiss banks.  The really big fish were protected, as the Swiss always do.

this country runs on money.  recently, a Swiss man was found guilty of photographing his 9 year old stepdaughter's vagina.  he got a monetary penalty instead of jail.  

by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the Dutch/Irish/Luxembourgish/Cayman option, it's no longer necessary to actually "hide" the money.

Not paying taxes is legal.
To get to what the public consider to be "normal" will require laws to change. In several countries.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:00:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia's Mercury City tower cuts the Shard down to size | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

A towering beacon of pink mirrored glass has overtaken the Shard to become the tallest building in Europe. Moscow's Mercury City tower, which topped out on Thursday, now rises to 339m, making it 29m taller than London's own crystalline pyramid.

The building joins a motley cluster in the emerging Moscow International Business Centre, a $12bn complex initiated by former mayor Yuri Luzhkov as a playground for rival oligarchs to demonstrate their penile might.

This latest pink totem is the brainchild of retail billionaire Igor Kesaev, who said it "demonstrates that all of Russia is on a level with countries of the eurozone, continuing its planned development and moving forward".

Designed by the late American architect Frank Williams, working with Moscow's Mikhail Posokhin, the $1bn tower stands as a tapering mountain of trapezoidal blocks. If you screw your eyes up, its faceted steps recall early expressionist architecture and the crystalline forms of Hugh Ferris's New York setback diagrams - only here interpreted with a clumsy commercial bulk.

The building was originally to be clad in a shimmering sheath of silver glass, to act as a mirrored backdrop to the reddish Moscow City Hall. Since that scheme was axed, Mercury City has taken on a bronzed hue, a kind of architectural perma-tan, as if forever bathed in a sunset glow.

The architect says the project "has a strong reference to Russian constructivism, [which] gives the tower a strong vertical thrust similar to the one found in New York's Chrysler building".

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At first glance, it looks like a red-brick factory chimney. An interesting throwback.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why the snark?  I don't think the Shard is any better in terms of architecture.
by stevesim on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:55:34 AM EST

Cockatoo makes, uses tool to get food - UPI.com

A cockatoo from a species not known to use tools has been observed spontaneously making and using tools for reaching food, Austrian researchers say.

"Figaro," a Goffin's cockatoo raised in captivity near Vienna, uses his powerful beak to cut long splinters out of wooden beams or branches in its aviary to reach and rake in objects out of its reach, researchers report in the journal Current Biology.

"During our daily observation protocols, Figaro was playing with a small stone," study leader Alice Auersperg of the University of Vienna said.

"At some point he inserted the pebble through the cage mesh, and it fell just outside his reach. After some unsuccessful attempts to reach it with his claw, he fetched a small stick and started fishing for his toy.

"To investigate this further we later placed a nut where the pebble had been and started to film. To our astonishment he did not go on searching for a stick but started biting a large splinter out of the aviary beam. He cut it when it was just the appropriate size and shape to serve as a raking tool to obtain the nut."

How Figaro discovered how to make and use tools is unclear but shows there is much still to learn about the evolution of innovative behavior and intelligence, the researchers said.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 08:17:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Election payments by German companies, notice Deutsche Bank.

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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:43:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Election payments by German companies, notice Deutsche Bank.

Amazing infographik here

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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:46:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are they allowed to contribute ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:57:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, US subsidiaries.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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