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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 18 December

by Nomad Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:55:43 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europe on this date in history:

1912 - Presentation of the Piltdown Man, skeletal remains found in Piltdown, England, presented as a previously unknown human but shown to be a complete hoax more than 40 years later.

More here and here

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by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:39:48 PM EST
France's UMP rivals agree on new leadership vote - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

The UMP, France's divided and badly bruised right-wing opposition party, inched towards healing the rift within its ranks Sunday when two rival leaders appeared to agree on a new leadership vote next September.

More than seven months after former President Nicolas Sarkozy's election defeat, his party has been on the verge of collapse over a bitter leadership dispute between Jean-Francois Copé and former French Prime Minister François Fillon.

Copé, who won last month's hotly contested leadership election, appeared Sunday to have accepted the new vote after a telephone conversation with Fillon.

The dispute over the date of a new vote was the latest twist in an ugly battle between the tough-talking Copé, 48, and Fillon, 58, a traditional conservative who managed to remain popular as prime minister even as his boss's popularity sank in the polls.

While Fillon had set a March 2013 deadline for a new vote, his conservative rival had refused a re-election before March 2014.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 03:17:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slovenia - back to reality, forth to austerity | Europe | DW.DE | 17.12.2012

Things looked very promising for Slovenia when it joined the EU together with nine other countries as part of the eastern enlargement in 2004. There was no surprise when the industrial nation - known for its robust economy and praised by the EU as a "model country" - joined the eurozone monetary union in 2007.

As it turns out, this was all an illusion. Slovenia was indeed the most developed republic of the former Yugoslavia, and after entering the EU it did experience further economic expansion. However, the basis for this expansion was the cheap money that the burgeoning eurozone member was able to gather on international markets, according to Hermine Vidovic of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies.

"The Slovenians lived heavily on credit in the years after EU accession, amassing enormous debts abroad in a bid to finance a construction boom that eventually had to be cut off rather abruptly."

And, as a result of the cheap loans they had access to, several Slovenian companies pursued huge expansion plans that otherwise would have been unthinkable: "There were very risky moves made, and many of the companies failed to profit the way they had hoped. Now they are deep in debt."

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 03:18:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syriza says attack on MP was 'brutal assassination attempt' | World news | The Guardian

Greek politicians have denounced an attack on a prominent leftist MP amid mounting fears of growing extremist violence in the country.

With the main opposition group, Syriza, going so far as to describe the assault on its deputy Dimitris Stratoulis as a "brutal assassination attempt", Athens' tripartite governing coalition moved swiftly to condemn the incident. "Any kind of attack and threat is unacceptable in our democracy," the government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou, said. "Violence has no place in our culture."

Stratoulis was set upon by three men in their 30s as he attended a football match with his son at the Olympic stadium in Athens on Sunday night. Recognising him during the half-time break, the assailants are reported to have said "now we are going to kill you" before claiming they were members of the far-right group Golden Dawn and kicking and punching the politician in the head.

Golden Dawn vehemently denied it was behind the assault and launched legal action against Stratoulis for referring to the organisation as a "gang of criminals". The ultra-nationalists, who have become Greece's fastest-growing party on the back of anti-austerity sentiment, have decried "the left-wing politicians who foment violence".

"[They] should stop using the name of Golden Dawn," the party said in a statement.

With social tensions spiralling amid record levels of unemployment and poverty, the incident has highlighted concern over the growing friction between left and right as the debt-stricken nation navigates its worst crisis in modern times.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 03:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look at the top google hit for Dimitris Stratoulis:
Dimitris Stratoulis is the worst type of motherf**ker you can find. he also suggested that while they will "guarantee" private savings, their (potential) government will use savings for "growth", nationalizing banks. Their ignorant leader recently suggested that the way to lower unemployment is for the public sector to hire 150000 new workers. Ignorant f**kers.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 05:52:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barroso steps forward as Romanian election arbiter | EurActiv

José Manuel Barroso's congratulatory message following the recent parliamentary election in Romania carries two important messages: it tells President Traian Băsescu that he should re-appoint Victor Ponta as prime minister, and warns Ponta he should work with Băsescu instead of reviving efforts to impeach him.

The message from the European Commission congratulates Ponta, leader of the leftist Social Liberal Union (USL), for his victory. The USL is a coalition consisting of Ponta's Social Democratic Party (affiliated with the Party of European Socialists) and Crin Antonescu's National Liberal Party (affiliated with the European ALDE group). Ponta's party is the senior partner in the coalition.

In the 9 December election, the USL won a huge majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, with 273 seats out of 412 in the lower chamber.

Far behind were Băsescu's allies, the Right Romania Alliance (ARD), affiliated with Barroso's centre-right European People's Party. They came in second with 56 seats in the lower chamber, losing about half of what they won in 2008.

The Romanian constitution gives the president the power to choose a prime minister and it is far from certain that Băsescu will select his political foe Ponta. Last summer, when the two were engaged in a bitter political row, Băsescu said he would not re-name Ponta as premier.

But the future of Băsescu as head of state also appears uncertain. Though his term ends in November 2014, it is widely expected that the USL coalition will try to repeat its effort to impeach the president.

A bid to do so in July failed when not enough voters turned out in a referendum.

>> Read: Romania's President cleared to return to office

In his message, Barroso says he looks forward to working with both.

"The Romanian people have made a clear choice in a democratic way. President Barroso looks forward to working with Prime Minister Victor Ponta and President Băsescu, during the coming challenging years, to promote the necessary reforms in Romania's and Europe's interest," the message reads.

The carefully-worded message tells both leaders to exercise restraint. As Ponta emerged as the clear winner of the election, it appears that the Commission wants Băsescu to respect the election results and appoint him as prime minister. But Brussels also told USL that it looks forward to work with Băsescu over the "coming years".

Romania's relations with the EU have been under strain since this summer's political crisis.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 03:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Police crackdown on anti-Putin protesters - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Russian riot police have detained about 40 protesters and several opposition leaders to stop them from taking part in a banned rally against President Vladimir Putin in front of the former KGB security police's headquarters in Moscow.

Police moved in lines to channel participants in the rally toward a nearby metro station and cleared the Lubyanka Square where the rally had taken place on Saturday.

Leftist Sergei Udaltsov and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny were detained in the square, where witnesses said about 3,000 people gathered, and protest leaders Ilya Yashin and Ksenia Sobchak were detained on their way.

All four were released without charge hours later, indicating they had been detained to prevent them stirring up the crowd at the protest.

Some of the other detainees appeared to include journalists. One man shouted "I can show you my press card!" as he was dragged toward a police van.

The rally was intended to celebrate the first anniversary of demonstrations that grew into the biggest protests against Putin since he rose to power 13 years ago, but police were out in force to keep order and helicopters buzzed overhead.

Despite the risk of arrest, protesters stood clapping. Some chanted "Free political prisoners" and "Shame".

Moscow city authorities refused to authorise the protest and police in helmets and flak jackets told people to leave as they gathered for the rally despite the freezing cold.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 03:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin having the authority to ban any demonstration, he could have had the square cleared by teargas or water cannon (how well does water cannon work at -20° I wonder?) and jailed the leaders for as long as he liked.

Sign of strength or of weakness?

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

by eurogreen on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 09:55:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Justice & Home Affairs / Police set to gain access to EU asylum data

Euro-deputies in the justice and homes affairs committee voted on Monday (17 December) to support draft legislation that would allow law enforcement authorities access to a finger print database on asylum seekers.

The biometric ID system, known as Eurodac, was created to prevent people from making multiple asylum requests in member states.

The European Commission over the summer proposed to amend Eurodac to allow police, as well as the EU-policy body Europol, to search and query the database.

But giving police access has generated controversy among human rights organisations, the Brussels-based European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and some MEPs.

"This is an important step in the wrong direction," German green MEP Ska Keller, one of three MEPs who opposed opening up the database, told this website.

Among the concerns are privacy rights and the risk of stigmatising asylum seekers as criminals.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 03:30:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David Cameron: withdrawal from EU is imaginable | Politics | The Guardian

David Cameron has broken new ground on Europe by suggesting British withdrawal from the EU is "imaginable", aligning himself with the fiercely Eurosceptic Boris Johnson.

The prime minister stressed that he supported membership of a reformed EU, though he said Britain was "in charge of our own destiny".

Cameron highlighted the pressure from Ukip when he indicated to MPs that he could imagine life outside the EU. Asked in the Commons by the Labour MP Gavin Shuker whether he could ever imagine Britain leaving the EU, the prime minister said: "That is not a position I support, so I do not spend my time thinking about it."

But he added: "Clearly all futures for Britain are imaginable. We are in charge of own destiny, we can make our own choices. I believe the choice we should make is to stay in the European Union, to be members of the single market, to maximise our impact in Europe, but where we are unhappy with parts of the relationship we shouldn't be frightened of standing up and saying so."

The remarks by the prime minister echoed comments over the weekend by Johnson, who has strongly criticised Cameron and George Osborne for supporting moves towards greater political and economic integration in the eurozone. The London mayor told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 on Sunday that it would not be the "end of the world" if Britain left the EU, though that was not his preferred option.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:31:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they're playing with fire. If they think they can control this once they've lit the touch paper, they're fools. You don't deal with your lunatic fringe (even if they're in the Cabinet) by triangulating on them, you do it by pointing out that they're lunatics.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 03:32:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru Shimbun is out! http://paper.li/MigeruBlogger/1351816577 ... ▸ Top stories today via @inurrieta @hope_no1 @LineasRojas
Today's edition is particularly meaty.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 05:47:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: Monti won't be a candidate, but will support a centrist alliance (18.12.2012)
Corriere della Sera reports that Monti will publish his own manifesto, but will not be a candidate at the forthcoming elections; instead he will support the centrist party of the Ferrari chairman, and the UDC; President Giorgio Napolitano expresses concern about Italy's future, criticising in particular the failure by the political system to reform the electoral law; Berlusconi renews his attack on Germany, blaming German current account surplus and an obsession with austerity for the crisis; Berlusconi now wants to team up with the Northern League ahead of the elections; the European Commission has approved the financial aid for Monte dei Paschi di Siena; the troika warns of a large implementation risk of Greek reforms, quoting political and legal obstacles; troika also warns that spending cuts next year will hurt growth more than expected; Greece received first loan tranche, with next tranches dependant on further policy action; 41% of young Greeks consider emigration; an increasing number of healthy Greek companies are fleeing the country to benefit from better lending conditions; the German press is outraged by reports that the co-chairman of Deutsche Bank called the prime minister of Hesse, complaining about a police raid; the bank is investigated for massive tax evasion and criminal conspiracy in relation to CO2 trading scheme; Rudolf Augstein says the bank behaves a like a drug cartel, and needs to be dismantled; French pension funds need extra funding despite recent reforms; due to a wealth tax the marginal total tax paid some wealthy Frenchmen exceeded 100% of income this year; protestors are calling on Portugal's president not to approve the 2013 budget; Austria has been gripped by yet another local funding scandal, this time in Carinthia; Yves Mersch says ECB won't cut interest rates; Takatoshi Ito calls on Japan's new prime minister to get tough on the central bank, and force it set an inflation targets, and buy Japanese construction bonds; Santiago Niño Becerra says Spain would need to grow at 2% to create net employment, which is not going to happen; Spain's employers association is forecasting 4.4% drop in employment with 800000 jobs lost; the number of Spaniards who are owed back pay has risen; judicial foreclosure have doubled in Spain this year; as a result of the crisis, Spain's humanitarian aid has shrunk 95% over the last four years; the president of the Spanish banking association says bank executives should be personally liable for losses; Nouriel Roubini says eurozone crisis not over, will come back in 2013; Jens Nordvig has discovered spread better as a metric to forecast eurozone survival probabilities; Mark Schieritz, meanwhile, said German MPs fretted in 1931 about the inflationary threats, when prices were already falling by 8% that year.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:12:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The incredible deflation of Deutsche Bank

We always thought that the revenge against the bank would come with a delay, but with massive force. In Germany, it seems to be happening right now, as heavily armed policemen stormed the headquarters of Deutsche Bank to investigate suspected crimes in connection with a CO2 emissions trading scheme and a tax fraud. One of the people under investigation is one of the two co-chairmen of the bank, Jurgen Fitschen. As it became known yesterday, Fitschen then made the fateful mistake of calling the prime minister of the state of Hesse to complain about the heavy-handed police tactics. Spiegel Online has this extraordinary story, which has the potential to do huge damage to Germany's - and the eurozone's - largest bank.

Augstein calls Deutsche Bank an organised crime syndicate and calls for the bank's dismantling

One of Germany's most influential commentators on the left, Jakob Augstein, writes that the directors of Deutsche Bank were behaving like the bosses in a drug cartel, and that they now stand accused to be at the centre of organised crime in Germany. He said the failure to clamp down on the bank's was probably Angela Merkel's biggest political mistake as it would now give the SPD an opening to demand that this bank be split up into small, and less harmful units.

(In Germany, the anti-bank sentiment has become explosive. Augstein may well be right that Peer Steinbruck's only chance of winning the election would be a broad-based anti-bank campaign - something that put would put Merkel in an uncomfortable position. But one should consider the wider economic consequences of a clamp down on the banking sector - that may well become Germany's official policy in the next legislature.)

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And may Ackerman end up sleeping under a bridge once he stops sleeping in a cell.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 07:37:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that legal in Germany?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 07:51:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Far too much of the components of IG Farben were left untroubled. Something more radical might be called for...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 08:03:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Split it up in so many new firms that no single firm is larger than half the size (by balance sheet and turnover separately) of the smallest currently existing institution.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 19th, 2012 at 08:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Augstein may well be right that Peer Steinbruck's only chance of winning the election would be a broad-based anti-bank campaign - something that put would put Merkel in an uncomfortable position.

What credibility would Peer Steinbrück have to attack Merkel for her cozy relationship with Deutsche Bank, when he himself was tainted by the failure of WestLB?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 08:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 19th, 2012 at 08:29:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
XXXXXX renews his attack on Germany, blaming German current account surplus and an obsession with austerity for the crisis

Why, oh why, must he be the first (and probably the last) prominent European politician to speak these self-evident truths?

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

by eurogreen on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 09:59:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the others all think they'll get something out of Germany by kowtowing.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 10:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has Depardieu really paid 85% taxes this year?

Impossible, argue some articles in the French press. But Les Echos shows that it was possible due to an exceptional wealth tax on households with more than 1.3bn in assets and the fact that this surcharge has no upper limit relative to income. Certain households thus face a tax bill which is higher than 100% of their income. In 2013, the article argues, this should not happen again, as a cap of maximal 75% of income will kick in.

I remember hearing that Ingmar Bergman, when he finally left Sweden for the US, argued that wealth taxes were taking up all ther income, and quipped that, regarding taxes "I draw the line at 100%".

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:43:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Repubblica summary of new statistics
Il matrimonio religioso resta la scelta più diffusa (60,2%) ma nelle regioni del Nord quello civile nel 2011 ha fatto il sorpasso e prevale con il 51,7% rispetto al 48,3% di quello celebrato in chiesa. Nelle regioni meridionali prevale il modello tradizionale, con il 76,3% dei matrimoni celebrati con rito religioso, che al centro restano ancora in leggero vantaggio con il 50,1%.
North Italy: 51.7% of weddings are civil ones, only 48.3% religious. Religious weddings are still slightly ahead in the centre, and way ahead in the South.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 07:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:40:10 PM EST
EU, Singapore ink free trade deal | EurActiv
The European Union and Singapore agreed terms of a free trade deal on Sunday (16 December), a move that should further open the Asian country's markets for financial services and make it easier for European automakers to export there.

"We have finalised the negotiations, and I'm very pleased with the result," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said from Singapore.

After the completion of negotiations by the European Commission, member states and the European Parliament need to sign off for the agreement to come into force.

Though EU countries have in the past sometimes rejected such deals for political reasons, this is unlikely to happen with Singapore, as EU leaders in October called for a swift conclusion of negotiations.

"I don't expect that many problems," De Gucht said, adding he hoped for finalisation by the end of 2013.

Gateway to Southeast Asia

The EU hopes the agreement will give it better access to Singapore, one of Asia's richest countries per head of population, where currently the United States enjoys preferential access.

Singapore has a population of only 5 million, but it is also a gateway to the 600 million people in the fast-growing economies of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Santander absorbs Banesto and Banif and shuts branches

Banco Santander is to absorb two Spanish banks, Banesto and Banif, closing 700 branches in the process.

It owns 90% of Banesto and will buy out the minority shareholders with Santander shares at a 25% premium. It already owns all of Banif.

The three banks have 4,664 branches in Spain between them. All the remaining branches will be branded as Santander.

Santander predicted that the merger would save it 520m euros ($684m; £422m) a year in three years' time.

It said that the merger was part of the restructuring of the Spanish financial system.

Santander did not say how many jobs would go, but said job cuts would be implemented gradually through transfers around the group, natural turnover and voluntary redundancy.

It added that the proportion of Spanish bank branches owned by the group would increase by 2015 despite the closures, because other banks were also cutting back their networks.

Santander said the total number of bank branches in Spain was expected to fall to 30,000 by the end of 2015, down from 46,000 in 2008.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel warns on cost of welfare - FT.com

Europe will have to "work very hard" to maintain the most generous welfare system in the world and remain globally competitive, said Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in an interview with the Financial Times.

The key to Europe's ability to survive the challenge of globalisation is to spend more on research and education and overhaul its tax and labour markets to restore competitiveness, she said.

An unrepentant Ms Merkel, regarded by many Europeans as the author of excess austerity to curb the debt crisis in the eurozone, spelt out her determination at last week's EU summit in Brussels to see her partners commit themselves to binding contracts for more structural reform.

No final agreement was reached, but details of such contracts between eurozone countries and the European Commission are supposed to be finalised in the next six months.

The chancellor went to Brussels seeking agreement on yardsticks to boost competitiveness as a big step to closer economic co-ordination.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:20:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Euro Zone Bank Oversight Deal Is Bad for Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Angela Merkel received recognition from the highest possible level -- herself. The most recent resolutions made by the European Union in its ongoing effort to save the common currency, she said last Thursday, "can't be spoken of highly enough." Her administration had been able to "push through Germany's core demands," she said.

Self praise, of course, is often inaccurate. But in this case, the gap between fiction and reality is particularly wide. The agreement reached by European leaders and their finance ministers during last week's summits in Brussels could ultimately destroy Merkel's reputation as a level-headed and firm savior of the common currency.

Her strategy in the crisis has long been praised for being one focused on a series of systematic small steps. The results of last week's negotiations, however, can best be described as large steps backwards.

Merkel has tirelessly called for EU leaders to push forward with the political integration of Europe. But at the most recent EU summit, she personally ensured that plans to that effect, created by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, didn't even make it onto the agenda. At the same time, German Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schäuble voted in favor of a new banking supervisory agency under the authority of the European Central Bank.

It is a plan that Germany's own central bankers view with concern. Lawyers at the Bundesbank object that the responsibilities of the new super-agency remain nebulous. The project has no "lasting, sustainable legal foundation," they say.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:52:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The project has no "lasting, sustainable legal foundation," they say.

'cause you say so, or because you had it fixed?
well, you would, wouldn't you?

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 07:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel: stupid or evil?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 05:52:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"stupid" and "evil": terms worth discussing?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 02:42:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does she not know the economic consequences of Frau Merkel, or does she not care?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:15:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You will love what she says about it, I guess.
by Katrin on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel is living the stern governess metaphor. I despair.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:38:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkelian psychology is beyond reasonable ken. I can't work out how far she really believes the policies she backs will bring virtuous results, or how far she's in Christian hypocritical denial about the harm she's doing. She probably has some bullshit justification that she's administering tough love. It will be hard for the debt-sinners to pull through, but they'll feel much better once they do. And they've only got themselves to blame anyway.

I'm pretty sure she's in denial about the extent of the damage: I can't imagine she thinks Greece is really in danger of going neo-nazi, so there must be a cut-off point beyond which she doesn't look further. She surely likes to be comfortable with herself. Since she is ruthlessly focused on domestic political success and on the narrow interests of Germany (which do not conflict), she must be in need of blinkers, whether she is aware, in denial, or totally ignorant of their existence.

But whatever, since she perfectly represents the views and interests of the West German political and financial establishment, which in turn supplies her with the theological justification for her reflex frames of thought.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 10:24:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A version of Clarke's law : A sufficiently entrenched stupidity is indistinguishable from evil

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 03:37:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And how is that useful?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:00:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A `fiscal cliff' deal is near: Here are the details
All at once, a "fiscal cliff" deal seems to be coming together. Speaker John Boehner's latest offer doesn't go quite far enough for the White House to agree, but it goes far enough that many think they can see the agreement taking shape. 

Boehner offered to let tax rates rise for income over $1 million. The White House wanted to let tax rates rise for income over $250,000. The compromise will likely be somewhere in between. More revenue will come from limiting deductions, likely using some variant of the White House's oft-proposed, oft-rejected idea for limiting itemized deductions to 28 percent. The total revenue raised by the two policies will likely be a bit north of $1 trillion. Congress will get instructions to use this new baseline to embark on tax reform next year. Importantly, if tax reform never happens, the revenue will already be locked in.

On the spending side, the Democrats' headline concession will be accepting chained-CPI, which is to say, accepting a cut to Social Security benefits. Beyond that, the negotiators will agree to targets for spending cuts. Expect the final number here, too, to be in the neighborhood of $1 trillion, but also expect it to lack many specifics. Whether the cuts come from Medicare or Medicaid, whether they include raising the Medicare age, and many of the other contentious issues in the talks will be left up to Congress.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:24:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com

So Boehner and McConnell have conceded the principle of higher tax rates on the wealthy. But we're nowhere close to a deal, for two reasons.

First, you can only have a bargain, even potentially, if each side is willing to offer something better than the other side's "threat point" -- what it could get without a deal. For Obama, the threat point is letting all the Bush tax cuts expire, then proposing a middle-class tax cut that Republicans almost surely would not be able to block. The trouble with this proposal, from Obama's point of view, is that it still doesn't raise as much revenue as he wants, and that it also doesn't provide stimulus via payroll taxes and extended unemployment benefits. But that's what he can get at minimum.

So what are Republicans proposing? A "deal" that offers even less revenue, no stimulus, and comes at the price of big social insurance cuts. Why should Obama be interested?

OK, there might be something here if Rs were willing to take the debt ceiling off the table. But they aren't; they're only willing to extend things for a year. And here again, this is worse than Obama's threat point: if there's going to be a debt ceiling confrontation, he wants it early in his term, when he knows public opinion is on his side and there isn't another election looming.

Oh, and my second point: Republicans are still demanding big spending cuts, but aren't willing to specify any cuts in particular. Obama is supposed to do all the work. This from a party that ran against him for cutting Medicare in both 2010 and 2012, and will surely do the same in 2014 if given a chance. There's just no way Obama can support Medicare cuts now unless the Republicans explicitly commit themselves to specific cuts in advance.

The Boehner-McConnell position, then, is still a joke, just marginally less funny than the previous joke.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:25:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:40:31 PM EST
White House says Obama will move swiftly on gun control after Newtown | World news | guardian.co.uk

The White House promised a comprehensive series of measures, including gun control legislation, on Monday to prevent a recurrence of mass shootings such as the "horrific" attack in Connecticut that left 20 children and six teachers dead.

The pledge came as the first cracks began to appear in the seemingly impregnable opposition to gun controls. Less than 24 hours after Barack Obama signalled that gun control would be a second term priority during a powerful speech on Sunday evening at a vigil for the victims in Newtown, at least two Democratic senators strongly identified with gun rights shifted position in favour of reform.

The killings in Connecticut appear to be bringing about a change in mood that was not evident after shooting sprees over the last decade. They include Virginia Tech in 2007, the attack on congresswoman Gabby Giffords last year and the Aurora cinema shootings in July this year.

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, at the daily briefing went further than Obama the night before in elaborating what kind of measures might be taken.

At the emotional vigil in Newtown, Obama appeared to abandon his reluctance to take on the gun lobby and delivered an impassioned speech in which he said change had to come.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:29:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Majority of Americans Favor Gun Control Laws, Poll Shows - Bloomberg

A majority of Americans support stricter gun control laws, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, according to a poll released today following the murder of 26 people, including 20 children, in Newton, Connecticut.

The ABC News/Washington Post survey showed 54 percent of respondents backing new limits on gun rights, with 43 percent opposed. When asked about banning ammunition clips that contain more than 10 bullets, 59 percent supported the idea, while 38 percent opposed it. In addition, 52 percent backed a ban on semiautomatic handguns, with 44 percent in opposition.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
7 Shocking Gun Laws Across The US - Business Insider
Friday's deadly rampage at a Connecticut elementary school marked the 13th mass shooting in the United States this year.

Among the 11 deadliest shootings in U.S. history, more than half took place in the last five years.

During the same period, states have often relaxed their gun laws, making it easier for individuals to obtain guns, extending the places where concealed guns are permitted, or giving gun owners more robust protections.

We take a closer look at some of the more striking measures:

  1. Five states allow students to carry concealed guns on college campuses
  2. Some states now allow you to bring guns into daycare centers, churches, and even "gun-free zones"
  3. You don't have to be 18-years-old or sober to lawfully use a gun in some states
  4. Eight states have (symbolically) asserted their freedom to be exempt from federal gun regulation
  5. Some states want to make it a crime for doctors and employers to ask about your gun
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is the problem, any federal law will fail in the USSC on states rights, particularly given article II.

And many states are full of gun nuts.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 03:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder whether this sort of hysteria is a characteristic of declining imperial center, and we are merely seeing on TV today what would have previously not been widely disseminated, or it is a peculiarity in the American way of coping (or not) with stagnation and imperial overreach.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 07:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Three Speeches: a side-by-side comparison of speeches from B.Clinton, G.W.Bush and B.Obama: "Clips are from addresses immediately following the Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook shootings."

by Bernard on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 10:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian army tanks close in on Damascus Palestinian camp | World news | The Guardian

Syrian tanks have closed in on the entrances to the largest Palestinian camp in Damascus after battles between pro- and anti-Assad groups for the first time directly drew the country's refugees into the 21-month-old crisis.

Skirmishes between Palestinian groups allied with the rebel Free Syria Army and other factions loyal to the Assad regime continued on Monday, a day after an air strike on a mosque in Yarmouk camp was thought to have killed around 20 people.

Large numbers of residents of the camp, where most of Syria's 500,000 Palestinian population live, were making plans to leave, fearing the Syrian army, now on the camp's outskirts, would soon enter in pursuit of rebel groups, which include Palestinian militants who have turned on the regime long considered to be their protector.

Lebanese officials at the Masnaa border crossing reported that several hundred Syrian Palestinians had arrived seeking refuge.

The Free Syria Army said on Sunday it had launched an operation inside Yarmouk against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, a pro-regime group led by the veteran militant Ahmed Jibril, who is believed to have since fled with his supporters. Jibril's headquarters were later bombed. Rebel groups claimed to be in control of the camp, and by nightfall Syrian soldiers were reported to be in pursuit of them.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Syria VP Farouq al-Sharaa says neither side can win war

Syrian Vice-President Farouq al-Sharaa has said neither the government's forces nor the rebels can win the 21-month-old conflict.

Mr Sharaa told Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar that the situation was worsening and a "historic settlement" was needed.

He said neither the opposition nor the security forces could bring about a decisive end to the ongoing violence.

Meanwhile an Italian citizen and two others were kidnapped near the town of Latakia, Italy's foreign ministry said.

All three are said to work at a steel plant and have different nationalities. The ministry has decided not to provide further information about the three in order to protect them.

In a separate development, there are reports that a senior Lebanese politician has been blacklisted by the US for allegedly assisting the Syrian government to launch attacks in Lebanon.

AFP news agency quoted a US Treasury Department statement as saying former information and tourism minister Michel Samaha had been labelled a "specially designated global terrorist". 'Syrian solution'

Mr Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim, has rarely been seen since the uprising began.

He is not believed to part of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle, which is dominated by members of his family and his minority Alawite sect.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian Vice-President Farouq al-Sharaa has said neither the government's forces nor the rebels can win the 21-month-old conflict.


Henry Kissinger - Wikiquote

the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win

In this case I have to go with the greater war criminal.

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 Dec 18th, 2012 at 05:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this also true if the regular army has no place to go back to?
by generic on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 06:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Regular army" doesn't really have any meaning in this case.

The full quote is:

Henry Kissinger - Wikiquote

We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition; our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win. [emphasis in orignal]

A "regular army" is an organ of a state, and the attribute of a state is that it asserts public order through (and thus derives some portion of its legitimacy from) its monopoly of force.

The Assad "state" organization no longer either maintains public order or holds a monopoly of force. Therefore we can't really call it a "state" and its army is just another armed faction.

So even if the "army" remains the strongest single faction, the fact that they cannot defeat the other factions means that the Assad-based state has essentially been defeated on the political level.

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 Dec 18th, 2012 at 07:00:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems to be a distinction without a difference. In Kissinger's case the status quo could not be sustained indefinitely. I don't think this is necessarily the case in Syria.
by generic on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 10:42:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Morsi-appointed public prosecutor resigns - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Egypt's new public prosecutor, appointed by President Mohamed Morsi last month, has resigned from his post, judicial sources and the main state newspaper al-Ahram reports.

The resignation of Public Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah on Monday follows a furore among members of the judiciary who said Morsi's decision in November to sack the former public prosecutor and appoint Ibrahim was an assault on the independence of the judiciary.

A judicial sources also told the AFP news agency that Abdallah had "submitted his resignation under pressure from protesters", referring to magistrates who have been clamouring for his immediate departure.

Al-Ahram said Abdallah's resignation would be presented to the Supreme Judicial Council on Sunday.

In his resignation letter, which was published by state news agency MENA, Abdallah said he wished to "return to his work in the judicial system."

Hundreds of public prosecutors staged a sit-in outside Abdullah's office in Cairo Monday, demanding he resign. They said that the president's appointment of Abdallah was improper, and that the Supreme Judicial Council should have been the one to nominate him, in order to ensure a separation of powers.

Morsi issued a declaration in November, giving himself greater powers and effectively neutralising a judicial system that had emerged as a key opponent by declaring that the courts are barred from challenging his decisions.

The decree, which dismissed Egypt's former public prosecutor, Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud, prompted nationwide protests.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:39:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Four South Africans held over suspected rightwing terror plots | World news | guardian.co.uk

Four white extremists have been arrested in South Africa over suspected acts of terrorism, police say.

The raids were made on Sunday, the opening day of the African National Congress conference in Bloemfontein, Free State province. Police have denied reports of a rightwing plot to bomb the event.

Brigadier Billy Jones, a police spokesman, said four people had been detained: one in Bloemfontein, one elsewhere in Free State, one in Gauteng, the province containing Johannesburg, and one in Limpopo province.

"The suspects are aged between 40 and 50," he said. "Their premises were searched and evidence supporting the investigation was seized.

"At this stage we are not linking any of the arrests with the conference at all. The acts of these suspects were countrywide."

The four would be charged and brought before a court imminently while police investigate further, Jones added. "We are expecting to make more arrests, but we cannot reveal further details at the moment."

The Federal Freedom party (FFP), a fringe group which claims it is pushing for self-determination for the country's Afrikaner minority, said at least two of the people arrested were believed to be members of the party.

Francois Cloete, its national secretary, told Reuters: "We were not involved and do not associate ourselves with their actions."

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 08:00:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't understand the language. Anything other than "We like being stupid"?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 08:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"We are not expelling the Holy Spirit. Here there is no computer, or any device that receives the internet or films"

Last line reads "Committee for purity of communications" and contact details (no URL).

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 08:52:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note also the "see no evil" campaign logo. :D

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 09:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:40:52 PM EST
IPS - Environmental Uncertainties Halt Deep Sea Mining | Inter Press Service

The world's first deep sea mineral (DSM) mining venture in the Bismarck Sea off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific has come to a halt after two years of development.

While the mining company is embroiled in a disagreement over project funding, unprecedented opposition by politicians, academics and local communities has focussed on the unknown environmental and social impacts of this untried mineral extraction process.

Deep sea mining, considered the new resource frontier, has been the subject of debate since the 1960s. But financial and technological constraints have hindered the viability of ventures.

Now, the gradual depletion of land-based mineral resources, a rise in demand for metals by growing economies in Asia and rapid technological advances have generated new interest in deep sea mining.

Attention has been focussed on hydrothermal vents in the ocean's floor at depths of more than 1,000 metres, in volcanic regions where geothermal activity in the earth's crust has created sulphide deposits containing silver, gold, copper, manganese, cobalt and zinc.

Many Pacific island states, which have small land areas, have expressed interest in exploiting their ocean resources for economic development.  Fiji, for instance, has a total land area of just 18,376 square kilometres and 114,460 square kilometres of territorial waters.

DSM exploration is currently underway or proposed in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands, which all possess Seafloor Massive Sulphides (SMS).

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Malaria progress threatened by funding, says WHO

Recent gains in the fight against malaria could be reversed because funding has stalled, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Its latest World Malaria Report says 1.1 million lives were saved in the past decade but that the expansion in funding from 2004-09 halted in 2010-12.

Less than half of the $5.1bn (£3.1bn) needed was spent last year.

The WHO's latest figures - for 2010 - show some 219 million people were infected, with 660,000 people dying. 'Precarious situation'

The WHO said in a statement that the plateau in funds meant "that millions of people living in highly endemic areas continue to lack access to effective malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment".

Its report said the supply of "life-saving commodities" - such as long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor spraying programmes - had slowed.

The report said 50 countries were on track to meet targets for cutting malaria cases but that these countries only represented 3% of malaria cases.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Draft EU rules to open door to plain cigarette packets | Reuters

The European Union's executive Commission is to propose larger health warnings on cigarette packets and a total ban on flavorings such as menthol, a draft revision of EU tobacco rules seen by Reuters showed on Monday.

The proposals stop short of forcing all cigarettes to be sold in plain packets carrying graphic health warnings, as required in Australia from the start of this month. But individual EU governments will be free to insist on such packaging if they choose to do so.

The proposed rules, which are aimed at preventing young people from taking up smoking, are likely to anger tobacco firms who fear tougher packaging rules will reduce already dwindling European sales and set a worrying precedent for growth markets in Asia and Africa.

Cigarette sales in the 27-nation EU bloc have fallen sharply in recent years but - at about 33 percent - Europe still has a higher proportion of smokers than any other region of the globe, according to data from the World Health Organization.

The Commission said tobacco was the number one cause of premature death in Europe claiming 700,000 lives every year.

The EU's draft rules have been in development for more than two years and have become the focus of intense lobbying by the tobacco industry.

They played a part in the October resignation of former EU Health Commissioner John Dalli, after one of his associates was accused of seeking bribes from "snus" producer Swedish Match in return for lifting a sales ban on the snuff-like product outside Sweden.

"The proposal foresees that combined warnings (picture plus text) of 75 percent should be displayed on both sides of the packages of tobacco products," the draft legislation - from the European Commission - said.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:39:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Insurance Companies Will Make Money On Climate Change Either Way

Hurricane Sandy is the most recent cited U.S. example of the kinds of increasing liabilities posed by attributing weather events to a changing climate.

Managing a portfolio of $25 trillion in assets, the insurance industry has become a market force, investing $23 billion in securities and financing, plus $5 billion in funds with environmental screens, seeing risks to investments in polluting industries and opportunities in being part of the clean-tech revolution.
Three global initiatives - the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative of 1995, ClimateWise of 2007 and the Kyoto Statement of 2009 - compelled 129 insurance firms from 29 countries to to start calculating (and charging for) climate risks and also influencing public policy. The ultimate goal of these industry activities is reducing their own exposure to risk - or at least risk outside normal variation.  If there is no risk, no one buys insurance.

These insurers, together with reinsurance companies (the insurers of insurance companies) have been using analytical tools to quantify and diversify their exposure to climate change risk, price and communicate risk and get adaptation and loss-prevention efforts up and running.

According to a paper by Evan Mills of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, 1,148 climate change adaptation and mitigation activities have emerged from 378 entities in 51 countries, representing $2 trillion (44 percent) of industry revenue. For example, insurers have brought at least 130 products and services to market encouraging the spread of more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings by paying claims that encourage rebuilding to a higher level of energy efficiency after a loss. At least 65 other insurance industry products address the risks and opportunities of the renewable energy industry.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:47:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Roger Pielke Jr.'s Blog: Science, Politics and the "Hurricane Deductible"
The idea that coastal property owners should bear some of the risks of the exposure to hurricanes is not particularly controversial. However, implementing policies to align risks with economic incentives can be challenging, and "Hurricane" Sandy provides a vivid case study in the importance of institutions where science meets politics.

Some 18 states implement what is called a "hurricane deductible" as part of insurance policies. While a normal deductible (i.e., the amount the homeowner must pay in the event of a loss, before the insurance kicks in) for property damage might be set at $2,000, the "hurricane deductible" says that if the event causing the loss is a "hurricane" then the deductible is instead set at a much higher level, such as $25,000.

The "hurricane deductible" became important following Sandy because just about one hour before the storm made landfall, the National Hurricane Center re-categorized the storm from a "hurricane" to a "post-tropical cyclone." Because insurance is regulated at the state level, different states have different "triggers" for the application of the "hurricane deductible." Some of these triggers are tied to wind speed, some to the issuance of hurricane warnings by the NHC, some to the storm's categorization, and so on. New York, for example, does not have a single trigger for the state but allows each company to set up a trigger (the mish-mash of approaches can be seen here in PDF).

For a storm like Sandy the invocation of the "hurricane deductible" is a decision with tens of billions of dollars in consequences, as losses were spread over hundreds of thousands of homes. Either individual homeowners would bear these costs (if the deductibles were invoked) or insurance companies would (if they were not). Given the massive stakes, not surprisingly in the immediate aftermath of the storm politicians were quick to act.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:49:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Given the massive stakes, not surprisingly in the immediate aftermath of the storm politicians were quick to act."

Politicians are funny that way...

by asdf on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 10:48:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Relative Masses of 7-Billion-Year-Old Protons and Electrons Confirmed to Match Those of Today's Particles | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

The mass of the proton in relation to its much lighter counterpart, the electron, is known to great precision: the proton has 1836.152672 times the mass of the electron. But has it always been so?

Quite possibly, according to new research which taps the cosmos as a vast fundamental-physics laboratory. A study of a distant galaxy strongly suggests that the proton-to-electron mass ratio, denoted by the Greek letter mu (µ), has remained essentially constant for at least half the age of the universe. The findings appeared online December 13 in Science.

Julija Bagdonaite of VU University Amsterdam and her colleagues used the 100-meter Radio Telescope Effelsberg [above left] to measure the absorption of radiation by methanol, a form of alcohol, in the ancient universe. Methanol (CH3OH) imprints multiple absorption lines on a spectrum of light, owing to the molecule's various rotational states, and the interplay among those states depends on the relative masses of the constituent electrons and protons.

The researchers detected methanol absorption lines in a so-called gravitational lens system called PKS1830-211--a chance alignment of a faraway galaxy backlit by an even more distant source of radiation. The foreground galaxy lies at redshift 0.89, meaning that its light has traversed the cosmos for roughly half of the 13.7 billion years that have elapsed since the big bang. (Redshift is an empirical measure used to gauge vast cosmic distances.) The galaxy's gravity bends radio waves from the background object--a flaring supermassive black hole called a blazar--and imprints its own spectral signature in the process, due to the presence of methanol and other molecules in the galaxy. "The absorptions of the radio waves have occurred seven billion years ago," Bagdonaite said in a prepared statement. "And the radio waves traveling to Earth carry the fingerprint of the methanol molecules in the distant past."

She and her colleagues determined that the methanol in the PKS1830-211 system behaves just as predicted--the electrons and protons in the ancient molecules had relative masses indistinguishable from those measured in laboratories on Earth today. The value of mu seven billion years ago, they concluded, could not have differed from the present-day value by more than 0.00001 percent.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:54:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:41:13 PM EST
TRAVEL - Şirince village readies for `Doomsday' events
Believers in the Mayan calendar's doomsday prediction of Dec. 21 are flooding Şirince, a small village in İzmir. Some New Age spiritualists are convinced that the Anatolian town is the only safe haven from the impending apocalypse foretold by certain interpretations of Mayan hieroglyphs, Agence France Press (AFP) has reported.

When asked about the Dec. 21 doomsday, Turkish Cultural and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said, "According to our beliefs and scientific data, there is nothing like a doomsday on Dec. 21 but people who want to see such a beautiful region for this reason are all welcome."

Günay said they were not opposed to legends for the sake of tourism and supported such stories as they contributed to their promotion. "It makes the name of Şirince heard not only in Turkey but around the world. Those who cannot find a place may find a good chance to have a nice breakfast there on Dec. 22."
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:14:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mayan apocalypse mania grips Russia | World news | guardian.co.uk

The apocalypse is surely near when Ramzan Kadyrov emerges as the voice of reason.

The ruthless leader of Chechnya is among dozens of Russians officials, priests, doctors and psychiatrists aiming to calm an anxious populace frantically preparing for the end of the world later this week.

"People are buying candles saying the end of the world is coming," Kadyrov said in comments published on his official website last week. "Does no one realise that once the end of the world comes, candles won't help them?"

For more than a month, Russians around the country have been buying up candles and matches, salt and torches in an effort to outsmart the apocalypse some believe will come when the Mayan calendar runs out on Friday.

In the coalmining town of Novokuznetsk, shelves nearly emptied of salt stocks last month as the city's residents prepared to ride through the end of the world. "60 tonnes were bought in one week," Yelena Zuyeva, a city official, said last week in comments carried on the local administration's website. "Today all trade companies are working and are ready for any level for consumer activity."

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:14:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germans still divided, more than two decades after reunification: Survey | EurActiv

The majority of eastern Germans regard their western compatriots as "arrogant" and mostly interested in money, according to a new survey that highlights distinct east-west identities.

More than 22 years after the reunification of Germany following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a major study by the Allensbach Institute showed that easterners held strongly negative views of westerners but high opinions of themselves.

The study found that 71% of easterners believe westerners are "arrogant", 57% see westerners as interested primarily in money, and 45% believe westerners are "shallow".

"East Germans have practically only negative views of west Germans," wrote Welt am Sonntag newspaper, which published excerpts of the Allensbach study on Sunday. "By contrast, the self-perception of east Germans is overwhelmingly positive."

The survey showed there are still strong perceptions of separate identities between east Germans and west Germans more than two decades after the end of the Cold War that led to German unification on 3 October 1990.

The survey commissioned by east German universities found that 69% of easterners call themselves "modest", 63 % see themselves as "reserved", 58 % call themselves "inventive".

The report found that 51% of westerners believe their east German brethren are "discontent", 42% "distrustful" while only 12% labelled easterners "arrogant".

Many easterners have endured hardship and upheaval. Millions lost their jobs, their homes as well as the fabric of their society and their way of life. Nearly 2 million easterners moved west in search of jobs.

Many are still struggling to come to terms with life in reunited Germany and are nostalgic about life in East Germany, to the irritation of many western Germans who have helped pay nearly €2 trillion to rebuild the east.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:15:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgive my pathetic American lack of understanding of history, but is there any correlation between German regions before WW2 and then during and after the partitioning? In other words, were there pre-existing regional differences that were exaggerated or multiplied by the partitioning, or is the current difference entirely due to that?

It seems a bit surprising that the partitioning, which was for what, about 40 years or so depending on how you count, would have such a big impact as to still be a factor 20 years later...unless they had different cultures or economies beforehand...

by asdf on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 10:55:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The partition was mostly the result of the state of warfare, ie the relative position of the armies.

If anything, the predominant force in recent German history up to that point had been East-based, ie Prussia. But Prussia was dismantled in the postwar settlement. All parts of Prussia east of the Oder-Neisse Line went to Russia and Poland.

In my view, however, the dynamic that explains the cultural split was the promotion (by "the West" ie mostly US) of West Germany as a posterchild economy opposite the Reds.  Parity of the Ostmark with the DM on reunification destroyed the East's competitiveness, and the East has been unable to catch up with the "posterchild" since. As a result, many West Germans have a rather conceited notion of their own economic virtues, while Easterners may feel correspondingly depressed about theirs.

I have East German friends who preferred to move to France rather than live in a reunited Germany dominated by the Westerners.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out this comment by "a German citizen" to my latest article on Eurointelligence:
You are living in fantasy land. The situation in Euroland is one of dramatically different competitiveness and solvency. Pushing a few billions of virtual paper euros somewhere is not going to change this. Spain, Greece and Italy are not going to become more competitve overnight just because a percentage on a paper chart has changed.

Your numbers are plain wrong. Per July 2012, the percentage of german exports to the eurozone has decreased to 36%, the Latin countries are probably zero by now. Germany couldn't care less about the insolvent latin countries.

If you want to have a blueprint for the future of the latin countries, go to eastern germany. The competitive companies were taken over, the non-competitive parts are kept alive by government transfers. But they make nice holiday resorts. Welcome to the new mezzogiorno. And the debt slaves keep on begging for more debt.

It's brimming with contempt for East Germany, which is no better than the Italian Mezzogiorno, apperently.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 04:51:32 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 Dec 18th, 2012 at 05:09:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Wessies are extremely arrogant and materialistic, IMHO
by stevesim on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 05:24:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why they created InterNations.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 05:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by stevesim on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 05:36:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In South Korea's Exam Village young voters yearn for change | Reuters

Living on $2 bowls of rice in rows of tiny rooms, thousands of young South Koreans are voting early ahead of Wednesday's presidential election as they cram for exams that they hope will lead to a government job for life.

There are 30,000 residents of a drab neighbourhood of the South Korean capital known as Exam Village, where people preparing for tests for low-level civil service jobs have gravitated for years.

There is a growing sense of frustration among the young in a country where there are simply not enough jobs to go round, especially for graduates of less prestigious universities whose options are largely limited to the public sector.

That frustration might translate into votes for the leftist candidate, Moon Jae-in, who has promised more welfare, better education and taxes for the super-wealthy.

Moon is competing against Park Geun-hye from the ruling conservatives, who has pledged a continuation of current policies.

Opinion polls show the race is too close to call, with Park, the 60-year-old daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee, relying on older voters who tend to turn out in force, while Moon's chances might depend on more fickle younger voters.

They often can't be bothered to vote but that might be different this time.

In Exam Village, or Goshichon in Korean, there were so many young people who wanted to cast early ballots last week that extra polling booths had to be brought in.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:42:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dec. 21 doomsday rumours keeping scientists busy
"By 2009, the kids were basically terrified," Hudson says. They were watching doomsday theorists on YouTube and reading them on web forums. After two tearful 9-year-old girls asked him whether everyone they loved was going to die a terrible death, Hudson decided to act.


"The lack of scientific education and the lack of scientific knowledge -- scientific illiteracy -- that is a public health concern," says Hudson. Children and those with anxiety issues or mental illness are particularly vulnerable, he adds.


Science education is "lacking," says Lepo. "The public tends to respect scientists but not really understand science very well."


"A part of this hoax is based on a fundamental distrust of science and the government," he says. "I think that's the most disturbing, because it extends to other areas."

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 05:28:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:41:39 PM EST
Continuous flu didn't aid in building this Salon.
by Nomad on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 04:55:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Get better soon!
by Katrin on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 05:31:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Famous rodeo performer.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 10:32:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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