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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 4 December

by Nomad Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 05:00:40 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1892 - birth of Francisco Franco, Spanish general and the authoritarian head of state of Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975

More here and here

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by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 02:54:54 AM EST
BBC News - Italy vote: Pier Luigi Bersani wins centre-left poll

Pier Luigi Bersani has won the race to be the centre-left candidate for Italian PM in next year's general election, according to partial results.

The veteran Democratic Party leader was in a run-off with Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, 37, to retain his post.

With the party leading opinion polls, Mr Bersani has a good chance of becoming head of government after polls scheduled for early 2013, analysts say.

Those polls will choose successors to the current technocrat administration.

Prime Minister Mario Monti's successor will face the challenge of addressing Italy's deep-rooted economic problems.

Mr Bersani won the first round on 25 November, with 45% of the vote to Mr Renzi's 35.5%. Partial results on Sunday saw him polling more than 60%.

Mr Renzi tweeted that "it was right to try" and later congratulated his rival at a rally in Florence.

"They won and we did not," he said.

In his victory speech, Mr Bersani said job creation would be a priority as he put together a programme of policies for the electorate.

He would ensure there was room for younger members of the party to express themselves as they prepared for the challenges ahead, he added.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Former PM wins Slovenia presidential vote - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Borut Pahor, Slovenia's centre-left former prime minister, has been elected president in a runoff vote, beating incumbent President Danilo Turk, preliminary official results suggest.

Pahor won 67 per cent of the vote against Turk, who received a 33 per cent, according to the State Electoral Commission, after nearly all votes were counted. Final results are expected later in the week.

"This victory is only the beginning of a new hope, a new time," Pahor said after exit polls indicated he won.

Slovenians voted on Sunday amid growing discontent with cost-cutting measures designed to avoid an international bailout.

In the first round of voting on November 11, Pahor, who has supported some of the government's budget measures, won almost 40 per cent of the poll ahead of anti-austerity Turk, who garnered 36 per cent of the votes.

Voter turnout in the first round was a record-low at 48 per cent and on Sunday, only 31 of the eligible voters cast their ballots, according to the latest estimate at 15:00 GMT.

Pahor, 49, is backed by the centre-left opposition Social Democrats. He appeared to have won voters over by admitting that some of his decisions during his time as prime minister had been wrong. He was ousted after a no-confidence vote in 2011.

Pahor's predicted win comes just days after anti-austerity protests in the capital erupted in clashes that left 15 people injured, triggering fears that the economic crisis could push the nation of two million into instability.

Once seen as a star new member of the European Union, Slovenia is suffering one of the deepest recessions in the eurozone, while problems with its banks have raised alarm that it may need a bailout.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Slovenian president faces growing social unrest | EurActiv

The austerity measures introduced by the current government have brought many people to the streets to defend their social rights, and the belief that Slovenia should remain firmly grounded on the premises of a modern welfare state, writes Marko Bucik.

Marko Bucik is a foreign affairs writer for the Večer newspaper in Slovenia and graduate student at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. He previously worked for the Slovenian Government, the European Commission and headed the office of the Slovenian MEP Ivo Vajgl (ALDE).

"Borut Pahor, former prime minister of Slovenia (2008-2011), former member of the European Parliament (2004-2008), former president of the Slovenian Parliament (2000-2004) and a longtime president of the Slovenian Social Democrats (1997-2012), won the presidential elections in Slovenia with 67.4% of the vote in the second round.

He defeated the incumbent President Danilo Türk, who captured 32.6%. Only 42% of Slovenian voters cast their votes. Pahor thus becomes the first Slovenian politician to hold all three most important political offices in the country.

Pahor's victory in the first round 11 November came as a surprise to many, his final decisive win less so. He has been comfortably in the lead over the last weeks and has managed to keep himself there. The next days will bring many detailed analyses of the merits of Pahor's campaign and reasons for Türk's significant defeat. However, there are three general points worth making.

First, after the collapse of his coalition government late in 2011, after a strong defeat in the early parliamentary elections when the Social Democrats under his leadership gathered a mere 10.5% (2008: 30.5%) and after being ousted as party president, Pahor managed to re-invent himself.

At the point when many observers already wrote him off, Pahor launched his presidential bid with ambition and determination, leading a campaign that over the course of several months saw him working in a textile factory, paving roads and collecting waste.

Facing an uphill struggle due to his arguably poor performance as prime minister, Pahor turned his fortunes upside-down. Despite all odds, he managed to emerge as a clear victor through a grassroots campaign that has clearly left a mark.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:47:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slovenia is suffering one of the deepest recessions in the eurozone, while problems with its banks have raised alarm that it may need a bailout.

NO! Its banks's creditors need a bailout. It would be so refreshing to, for once, see that in a media report.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 12:44:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migrants in Greece held in shocking conditions - U.N. | Reuters

Migrants in Greece face shocking conditions in detention centres and deepening hostility on the streets as the country goes through its worst economic crisis since World War Two, a top U.N. official said on Monday.

Many of the 130,000 mostly African and Asian migrants trying to enter Europe via Greece each year go short of food, heating and hot water, including children, said the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau.

Conditions were poor in most of the 11 detention centres he visited. In one, the Venna centre in Rodopi near the Turkish border, beds were concrete slabs, the toilets were filthy and there was no light, he said.

"These are places where I wouldn't want to spend more than an hour. These are shocking places," said Crepeau.

Police launched a sweep operation in August called "Xenios Zeus" after the ancient Greek god of guests and travellers. They have so far arrested thousands of undocumented immigrants.

Crepeau said it meant systematically detaining everyone they detected entering Greek territory in an irregular manner.

"It's difficult to see children - three years old, five years old - behind bars," he said.

Presenting the findings of a nine-day mission to Greece, Crepeau said there was a rise in racially-motivated violence and the authorities were not doing much to curb it.

Much of the violence went unreported because victims were afraid of deportation if they contacted the police, who were sometimes involved in the attacks, he said.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:49:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece launches sovereign bond buyback - GREECE - FRANCE 24

Greece's PDMA national debt agency said on Monday it had begun a voluntary buyback of the country's bonds at heavily discounted prices, a condition for receiving its latest instalment of EU-IMF bailout funds.

The PDMA said in a statement that eligible holders had been invited to submit by Friday Greek sovereign bonds to receive payment of between 32.2 and 40.1 percent of the face value.

Those who participate will receive in exchange six-month bills issued by the EU's EFSF rescue fund with up to to 10 billion euros ($13 billion) available for the operation.

Up to 20 series of Greek sovereign bonds with a face value of 62.3 billion euros held by private creditors are eligible for the buyback.

In March, Greece's private creditors had already agreed to write off about 107 billion euros' worth of Greek sovereign bonds and many institutional investors such as banks and insurance companies have completely written off the value of Greek debt in their balance sheets.

The value of Greek bonds has plunged in value as the debt crisis has risen in intensity and since the massive debt writedown by private bondholders at the beginning of the year.

By using newly-borrowed money to buy back its sovereign bonds at a heavy discount, Greece reduces the total burden of debt in what amounts to a refinancing scheme.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek aid is patchwork, ex-foreign minister says | Europe | DW.DE | 30.11.2012

Fresh financial aid is nothing but a brief respite for Greece, says former Greek Foreign Minister Dimitrios Droutsas. In an interview with DW, the member of European Parliament urged debt relief for Greece.

DW: Just a few days ago, international lenders agreed on providing Greece with almost 44 billion euros ($57.2 billion). Germany's Bundestag has also backed the new aid. How relieved are you?

Dimitris Droutsas: I am very relieved. Greece urgently needs this credit tranche to avert bankruptcy and continue to pay wages, pensions and so on. It's given the country a brief respite, but I would like to stress that once more, these decisions are merely patchwork and not a really convincing final solution that Greece and the euro need.

What would a convincing final answer look like?

 I know this does not go down well, in particular in view of the German domestic political discussion, but the truth is that Greek debt is particularly high. To give this foreign debt stability, there is no way around debt relief. I know there is a very controversial debate in Germany on the matter, but we must look the truth in the eye. Again, I believe debt relief for Greece in the near future is the only possible option.

Over the past months, the Greeks have initiated several reforms; they have shown they want to move forward. Some German experts, however, say that is still not enough. Hans-Werner Sinn, head of the Munich-based Ifo Institute, said the lenders have been increasingly making it easier for Greece to meet the requirements by lowering them. What is your opinion on such criticism?

I am one of those people who have always openly criticized the grievances in my country. I am aware of the fact there is much in Greece we must tackle. I always say Greece needs significant structural reform so the austerity measures, these bitter austerity measures, can take effect. The key words are "structural reform" and that takes time. The credit tranche gives Greece some more time. I hope very much - and that is an appeal and a warning to my compatriots - that the time we've won will really be used to implement the necessary structural reforms.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Merkel hints at future 'haircut' on Greek debt
German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted Sunday that governments will likely have to take a loss on the Greek debt they own, breaking what was considered a taboo in German politics.

Choosing the influential mass-selling tabloid Bild am Sonntag to make the admission, Merkel said in two years time a "haircut" should be considered for Greece.

"If Greece one day again manages with its revenue without getting new debt, then we must look at and assess the situation," she said. "That is not the case before 2014-15 if everything goes according to plan."

The statement represents a significant shift for Berlin which has until now avoided entering the politically risky territory of saying that taxpayers will be affected by Greece's debt problems.

Germany itself will hold federal elections in autumn next year but Merkel denied that the two year timeframe for giving Athens further debt relief had anything to do with the German ballot box.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:53:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Add orders of magnitude to taste.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 04:03:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
let's see :
day * 103
euro * 109

We're talking orders of magnitude.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 04:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh consistency! At one time Greece was forbidden to buy back bonds at market price. Now they are compelled to do so. Must depend on the current ownership of the bonds in question. Not German, I presume.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 12:49:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Draft deal agreed for 2013 EU budget: theparliament.com
European taxpayers may have to contribute more to the EU budget next year as part of an informal deal struck by the commission and member states.

A draft agreement will see the 2013 EU budget rise from €129bn to €132.7bn, a rise of 2.79 per cent.

The proposed deal, however, could still be derailed by parliament, which is pressing for a 6.82 per cent spending increase on 2012, which would see the budget enlarged to nearly €137.9bn.

Under the Lisbon treaty, parliament must give its approval to the deal and its budgets committee is expected to veto the fresh proposal at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

Negotiating teams from the commission, parliament and member states met last Friday in a bid to reach a common position on the budget.

During the same 'conciliation' talks, it was also provisionally agreed that the EU budget will benefit from €6bn additional 'emergency' spending by the end of this year to meet a funding shortfall.

This represents a 2.79 per cent increase on this year's budget and is based on estimates that are contested by Britain and other governments.

UK prime minister David Cameron and others have repeatedly called for EU spending to reflect the economic crisis and national austerity measures.

Even so, a senior parliament source told this website on Monday, "MEPs are likely to press on with demands for a substantial increase in the overall budget for 2013.
by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukrainian government resigns - FT.com

Ukraine's president today accepted the resignation of his prime minister, setting the stage for a new government to renew negotiations on a multi-billion-dollar loan programme with the International Monetary Fund amid signs that the economy is sliding into recession.

Appointed premier in 2010 soon after Viktor Yanukovich was elected president, Mykola Azarov is to continue heading government until parliament approves a new premier and cabinet in coming days.

"It's still not clear who will be the next prime minister," said Kost Bondarenko, a political analyst who has advised Mr Yanukovich's administration. "But there are candidates on the table that could more swiftly re-engage with the IMF.

Among candidates, Mr Bondarenko pointed to outgoing deputy premiers Valery Khoroshkovsky and Sergiy Tigipko, deputy presidential administration chief Iryna Akimova and central bank head Sergiy Arbuzov.

"Formation of a new government is likely to be a matter of days," said Dragon Capital, a Kiev-based investment bank, adding that the central bank governor Sergiy Arbuzov was widely tipped as a likely new PM.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:14:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
@MigeruBlogger
Migeru Shimbun is out! http://paper.li/MigeruBlogger/1351816577 ... ▸ Top stories today via @MigeruBlogger @PresseuropIT @AthensNewsEU


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 3rd, 2012 at 06:14:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: Crisis over - Spanish bank edition (04.12.2012)
Eurogroup agrees astonishingly low figure of under €40bn for Spanish bank recapitalisation; decision forms part of an overall strategy of denial about the need to substantial capitalisation; markets react extremely positively, with peripheral yield spreads coming down everywhere;  Moody's downgrades also failed to make a dent to the EFSF's own ratings; Greece announced the details of the bond buy-back programme, which will come in the form of a Dutch auction; analysts are predicting a take-up rate of 60 to 70%, but there are some incentives for bondholders to hold out; the Greek debt management agency will hold 20 separate auctions; the Greek government seems ready to climb down on proposals to tax incomes at over €26000 at 45%; Reuters Breakingviews takes issue with the governance structures of Greek banks after the recapitalisation; Yanis Varoufakis fears that Greece will turned into a Kosovo, a Euroised protectorate run by a kleptocracy; the debate on banking union has made no progress, with Berlin digging in on its position to limit banking union to the largest banks only; there is a lot of soul searching in the UK, following the remarks by Christian Noyer, about the role of the City of London vis-à-vis the eurozone; the latest manufacturing PMI suggests that activity is still falling, but at a reduced pace; Matteo Renzi has pledge to support for Bersani; Berlusconi say he is ready to lead the centre-right against Bersani in 2013 Italian general elections; De Paolini says that the Italian government is overestimating the proceeds of the financial transaction tax; according to Eurostat, one quarter of Europe's population at risk of social exclusion; Spain's treasury failed to raise half of the modest €2.5bn in revenue expected from a tax amnesty; Spanish government expects to miss its 2012 deficit target of 6.3% of GDP by 0.5%; 70% of European commercial property loans defaulted this year; Joerg Assmussen said  Portugal must issue more longer term bonds to qualify for OMT; in Germany, meanwhile, the debate about how to measure competitiveness goes on.



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 4th, 2012 at 03:41:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Banking union not going well

Another week of diplomatic activity around the banking union. Reuters reports that formidable differences remain over the concrete construction of a banking union, pointing out three remaining big obstacles:

Germany is sticking to its position that only the biggest banks should come under the legal framework of the SSM, while the European Commission, the ECB and most member states are pushing for a comprehensive framework;

Britain wants to ensure that the new regime does not encroach on the single market, and threaten London's position as a financial centre;

And then there is open question of how to secure proper representation of the non-eurozone members. The Swedes are particularly concerned.

The article says France is pushing agreement as soon as possible, while Germany is more cautious on the timetable. The article quotes Wolfgang Schauble as saying that he was not sure whether the legalities would be agreed by the end of the year. He also said he was doubtful that banks would be able to tap the euro zone rescue fund for help anytime soon.

(As we have said before, it is important to understand banking union not as a quick fix for the crisis, a task it cannot fulfil, but as the single most important institutional reform triggered by the eurozone crisis, which, if done well, could provide cohesion to the eurozone in the future. A supervisory mechanism, without full control, and without resolution powers, is not going to provide those benefits.)



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 4th, 2012 at 04:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel: French Finance Minister to Head Euro Group? (12/04/2012)
When German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his French counterpart Pierrre Moscovici gave their first joint press conference two weeks ago, they were asked who would take over leadership of the Euro Group once Jean-Claude Juncker stepped down. As early as last summer, Juncker had said he wanted to hand over the reins, but had been persuaded to continue for lack of consensus on a successor. But despite such indications that the end was nigh for Juncker's term at the top, both Schäuble and Moscovici played down the issue.

...

As of Monday evening, however, the two can no longer dodge the question. At the end of yet another late-evening Euro-Group meeting in Brussels -- during which finance ministers from the 17 euro-zone member states agreed to provide €40 billion in aid to ailing Spanish banks -- Juncker told his colleagues that he intended to step down at the end of the year. "I have asked them to name another minister," Juncker said.

...

Originally, Paris and Berlin had envisioned a system whereby Schäuble and Moscovici would share the position. The idea was for the German finance minister to take the first stint before making way for Moscovici. Now, though, it might be the other way around. France would take over Juncker's position first and pledge to hand it over to Berlin in 2015, no matter who is then finance minister.



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 4th, 2012 at 10:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 02:54:56 AM EST
Four Spanish banks to need 1.5 billion euro in EU funds - minister | Reuters

Four Spanish lenders will need no more than 1.5 billion euros (1.21 billion pounds) of European funds to be recapitalised in the second phase of the euro zone plan to clean up Spain's banking sector, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Monday.

The European Commission last week approved the first phase of the plan - a cash injection of 37 billion euros into nationalised lenders Bankia (BKIA.MC), Catalunyabanc, NCG Banco and Banco de Valencia (BVA.MC) as well as the disbursement of 2.5 billion euros to set up a so-called "bad bank".

"It will be a much lower amount of money, really much lower, around 1.5 billion euros at the utmost," de Guindos told journalists before the monthly meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels.

The four lenders are former savings banks Liberbank, Caja 3, CEISS and Banco Mare Nostrum. An independent audit of Spain's financial system showed in September they needed around 6.2 billion euros to weather a serious downturn of the economy.

They can reduce these needs by raising money privately, transferring assets into the "bad bank" or applying an haircut to junior bondholders' holdings.

Their recapitalisation plans are due to be approved by the Bank of Spain by December 20.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 03:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Global economy 'set for sharp downturn' - Europe - Al Jazeera English
Global growth is set for a sharp slowdown next year and the eurozone debt crisis "remains the greatest threat to the world economy at present," the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.

In its latest Economic Outlook, drafted on Tuesday before the eurozone and IMF unblocked almost $57bn (44 billion euros) in emergency loans for Greece, the OECD also cautioned that "the risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out" after a global slump in 2009.

The organisation slashed its outlook for the 34-member OECD area, which includes most of the world's industrialised economies, in 2013 to 1.4 per cent from a previously expected level of 2.2 per cent.

On a global level, the Paris-based OECD cut the 2012 growth forecast to 2.9 per cent from 3.4 per cent, and its estimate for 2013 to 3.4 per cent from 4.2 per cent.

Another threat to business activity worldwide is a potentially catastrophic budget standoff in the US, where automatic tax increases and spending cuts are to take effect in January unless polarised Democrat and Republican politicians can come to a compromise.

The world's economic fortunes thus hang next year in large part on the ability of political leaders in Europe and the US to deal with a crippling combination of unsustainable debt and cramped business activity.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:05:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From November 30:

Hope for Europe rises as game of pretence ends - FT.com

Contrary to the sentiment of most of my European friends, I'm becoming a euro-optimist. It's not just that the current euro area policy "solutions" aren't getting more ridiculously destructive; they are; it's that I see more recognition of this on the part of the policy tribes at the national government level. That means that there is light at the end of the European growth tunnel. The French policy elite, in particular, seems to realise that they have to start taking a different path to get growth going again.

If you were inclined to euro-pessimism, the latest version of the Greek "plan" would push you further in that direction. The bumbled buyback of private sector-held bonds, the most notable feature of the latest deal, took even hardened eurosceptics by surprise. Even in the cynical world of emerging market debt traders, no one had ever heard of the sovereign restructuring and exchange offer that was re-haircutted in less than a year.

You might be able to come up with populist arguments for an anti-vulture-fund jihad against those who bought the restructured Greek bonds at their lows in April and May. But the speculators are not the ones who will be hurt by the latest Greek deal. While all the details, and ultimate size, of the Greek bond buyback are not clear, it is certain that the Greek banking system will, proportionately, be the biggest loser of the bond buyback. The Greek banks will be selling their bonds for 33 cents on the euro, which will result in a loss of perhaps €4bn of capital.

Take that loss, multiply it through the magic of a fractional reserve banking system in a fairly small economy such as Greece's, and you get an idea of what will happen to the provision of credit to the country's private sector. Any shortfalls in the bond buyback programme will probably be paid for by more advances from the European Central Bank via the decapitalised Greek banking system. In order to make sure that German taxpayers aren't told about the real losses in value their institutions are incurring, Greece is now set to go through another year of depression. So extreme right and extreme left parties' support is shooting through the roof. Keeping the headlines small until the September 2013 German elections will be a very challenging task for the eurocracy and its Greek friends.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Young and Educated in France Find Employment Elusive - NYTimes.com
Justine Forriez wakes up early to go onto the computer to look for a job. She calls university friends and contacts; she goes to the unemployment office every week, though mostly for the companionship, and has taken a course in job hunting. She has met with 10 different recruiters since May and sent out 200 résumés.

 Ms. Forriez is not poor or disadvantaged, and she holds a master's degree in health administration. But after a two-year apprenticeship, she is living on state aid and working at off-the-books jobs like baby-sitting and tending bar. She cares for a dog for $6.50 a day. She paints watercolors in her spare time to keep herself from going crazy.

"I don't feel at ease when I'm home," she said. "You find yourself with no work, no project." With the extra $45 for dog sitting, she said, "I can go to the grocery store."

Ms. Forriez, 23, is part of a growing problem in France and other low-growth countries of Europe -- the young and educated unemployed, who go from one internship to another, one short-term contract to another, but who cannot find a permanent job that gets them on the path to the taxpaying, property-owning French ideal that seemed the norm for decades.

This is a "floating generation," made worse by the euro crisis, and its plight is widely seen as a failure of the system: an elitist educational tradition that does not integrate graduates into the work force, a rigid labor market that is hard to enter, and a tax system that makes it expensive for companies to hire full-time employees and both difficult and expensive to lay them off.

The result, analysts and officials agree, is a new and growing sector of educated unemployed, whose lives are delayed and whose inability to find good jobs damages tax receipts, pension programs and the property market. There are no separate figures kept for them, but when added to the large number of unemployed young people who have little education or training, there is a growing sense that France and other countries in Western Europe risk losing a generation, further damaging prospects for sustainable economic growth.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Young and Educated in France Find Employment Elusive

The Old and Corrupt are having a ball everywhere. Take a hint, Young and Educated.

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

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 07:40:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMF drops opposition to capital controls - FT.com

The International Monetary Fund has cemented a substantial ideological shift by accepting the use of direct controls to calm volatile cross-border capital flows, as employed by emerging market countries in recent years.

Although the fund continued to warn that such controls should be "targeted, transparent, and generally temporary", the policy, announced in a staff paper released on Monday, is a sharp change from the fund's enthusiasm for liberalising capital accounts during the 1990s.

Economies including Brazil - which has fiercely criticised super-loose US monetary policy for fuelling speculative inflows to its asset markets - Thailand and South Korea have experimented with taxes, regulations and other restrictions on capital. The Brazilian representative at the IMF said on Monday that the fund was still too cautious and regarded capital controls as a last resort rather than a standard part of the policy toolkit.

The fund paper said that while the free movement of capital was generally beneficial, it could destabilise economies whose financial systems were insufficiently developed.

"Liberalisation needs to be well planned, timed, and sequenced in order to ensure that its benefits outweigh the costs," the study said. "There is . . . no presumption that full liberalisation is an appropriate goal for all countries at all times."

The IMF continued to argue that direct capital controls were not a substitute for macroeconomic responses to rapid inflows, including tightening fiscal policy, cutting interest rates and letting the exchange rate rise.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:14:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UBS 'close to $450m settlement on Libor-rigging claims' | Business | guardian.co.uk

UBS is expected to pay more than $450m (£280m) over claims some of its employees attempted to fix Libor rates, according to reports.

The New York Times said the bank was close to a settlement with US and British authorities. A company spokesman declined to comment on media reports and did not give any further details. He reiterated: "We are fully co-operating with authorities in the US and Britain in connection with Libor investigations."

A payment of approximately £280m would fall within the range of provisions. At the end of its third quarter UBS had set aside £600m for litigation, regulatory and similar matters. UBS was the first bank globally to report suspected rate rigging, and has said it has received conditional immunity from some authorities for co-operating in their investigations.

Barclays was fined a record £290m in June over the scandal.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:23:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 02:55:00 AM EST
.:Middle East Online::Arab League chief: Assad regime could fall anytime:.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is in danger of collapse "anytime" as the opposition gains ground on the military and political fronts, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said on Monday.

"That could happen anytime," the secretary general said in an exclusive interview.

"Now they are fighting in Damascus," and after 20 months of violence, "I think there will be something soon," he said.

"Facts on the ground indicate very clearly now that the Syrian opposition is gaining, politically and militarily. Every day they are gaining something," Arabi said.

He said a new coalition of Syrian opposition groups now based in Cairo was "moving ahead."

The Arab League, which is also based in the Egyptian capital, last month recognised Syria's National Coalition as the "legitimate" representative of the Syrian opposition.

"We are in touch with them and they come here all the time," Arabi said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the conflict which broke out in March 2011 has cost more than 41,000 lives.

There have also been fears of a spillover of the violence into neighbouring countries.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:20:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian government spokesman flees country, diplomat says | Reuters

A Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, who was the most public face of Bashar al-Assad's government as it battled a 20-month-old uprising, has defected and fled the country, a diplomat in the region said on Monday.

Jihad al-Makdissi, who is in his 40s, previously worked at the Syrian embassy in London and returned to Damascus a year ago to serve as spokesman for the ministry, defending the government's crackdown on the revolt against Assad's rule.

He had little influence in a system largely run by the security apparatus and the military. But Assad's opponents will see the loss of such a high profile figure, if confirmed, as further evidence of a system crumbling from within.

Rebel forces have made advances in recent weeks, seizing several military bases including some outside the capital Damascus.

"He defected. All I can say is that he is out of Syria," the diplomatic source, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

Lebanon's al-Manar Television, citing government sources, said Makdissi was sacked for making statements that did not reflect the government's position.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IPS - Free Syria Faces Tough Times | Inter Press Service

As the death toll in Syria tops 40,000 and some 400,000 have taken refuge beyond the country's borders, a dearth of funding for civilian projects in areas under Free Syrian control risks undermining efforts to keep inhabitants united and the limited lines of communication flowing.

A number of young Syrian activist groups travel between Istanbul and cities under Free Syrian Army (FSA) control to set up local administration councils, racing to provide essential services to the population before another winter arrives amid scant electricity, dwindling access to basic necessities and continued shelling of civilian areas. The groups coordinate with medical workers in the border area and FSA members, and maintain regular contact with embassies, individual donors and local populations.

Abdullah Labwani, 27-year-old nephew of well-known dissident and physician Kamal Labwani works with the Istanbul-based NGO Civil Administration Councils (CAC). In "another life", as he called the period leading up to the revolution, he worked as an architect and taught at the University of Damascus.

From Istanbul he maintains contact with those inside Syria while trying to convince Western diplomatic representatives to send funds for medical, communications and food needs as managed by the councils.

This IPS correspondent travelled with Labwani to Sarmeen in the northwestern Syrian province Idlib in early November. With just over 20,000 inhabitants before the uprising, several thousand had fled the town amid continuing conflict in the area.

In March of this year, some 318 houses, 87 shops and numerous warehouses, pharmacies and mosques were destroyed in attacks by Syrian government forces on the town.

Human Rights Watch found that regime troops had killed at least 95 civilians, many by summary execution, in the assault on the eastern and southern parts of the province. Three brothers from Sarmeen's Hajj Hussein family, for example, were taken out of their home, had their hands tied behind their backs and were killed and burned in front of their mother as a "lesson" to the town's inhabitants.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:22:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel says will stick with settlement plan despite condemnation | Reuters

Israel rejected concerted criticism from the United States and Europe on Monday over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to expand settlement building after the United Nations' de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Washington urged Israel to reconsider its plan to erect 3,000 more homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying the move hindered peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their capitals to give similar messages.

An official in Netanyahu's office said Israel would not bend. "Israel will continue to stand by its vital interests, even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision that was made," the official said.

Angered by the U.N. General Assembly's upgrading on Thursday of the Palestinians' status in the world body from "observer entity" to "non-member state", Israel said the next day it would build the new dwellings for settlers.

Such projects, on land Israel captured in a 1967 war, are considered illegal by most world powers and have routinely drawn condemnation from them. Approximately 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the two areas.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:24:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Foreign Affairs / Hamas appeals for talks with EU diplomats

The Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has appealed to the EU to take his political and militant group, Hamas, off its terrorist register.

Speaking to a delegation of visiting MEPs and MPs from Poland, Portugal and the UK in Gaza on Sunday (2 December), he said: "It is time to remove the Palestinian resistance from the terrorist list. Hamas is a national liberation movement which operates only inside the borders of Palestine."

"We would like you to send a message from under the rubble which you have seen here, that we are not terrorists," he added.

His spokesman, Taher Nouno, told EUobserver: "We want a direct dialogue with European leaders so that they can hear from us, not just to hear about us."

"This dialogue is very important. Maybe we can change our minds on some issues and maybe European countries can change their minds on some issues," he noted.

The EU designated Hamas as a terrorist entity in 2003 during a suicide bombing campaign in Israel.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:24:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egyptian judges protest President Morsi's 'dictatorial' decrees | News | Africa | Mail & Guardian

The open-ended strike by the Supreme Constitutional Court and plans by the opposition to march on the presidential palace on Tuesday take the country's latest political crisis to a level not seen in the nearly two years of turmoil since Hosni Mubarak's ousting in a popular uprising.

Judges from the country's highest appeals court and its sister lower court were already on an indefinite strike, joining colleagues from other tribunals who suspended work last week to protest what they saw as Morsi's assault on the judiciary.The last time Egypt had an all-out strike by the judiciary was in 1919, when judges joined an uprising against British colonial rule.

The standoff began when Morsi issued decrees on November 22, giving him near-absolute powers that granted himself and the Islamist-dominated assembly drafting the new constitution immunity from the courts.

The constitutional panel then raced in a marathon session last week to vote on the charter's 236 clauses without the participation of liberal and Christian members. The fast-track hearing preempted a decision from the Supreme Constitutional Court that was widely expected to dissolve the constituent assembly.

The judges on Sunday postponed their ruling on that case just before they went on strike.

Without a functioning justice system, Egypt will be plunged even deeper into turmoil. It has already seen a dramatic surge in crime after the uprising  with state authority being challenged in many aspects of life and the courts burdened by a massive backlog of cases.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:26:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egyptian Court Postpones Ruling on Constitutional Assembly - NYTimes.com
Egypt's constitutional court on Sunday put off its much-awaited ruling on the legitimacy of the Islamist-led legislative assembly that drafted a new charter last week, accusing a crowd of Islamists outside the courthouse of intimidating its judges.

 What actually took place at the courthouse, however, is a matter of dispute.

Calling Sunday "a dark black day in the history of the Egyptian judiciary," the Supreme Constitutional Court charged in a statement that a mob of Islamists had blocked the judges from entering the courthouse, in an "abhorrent scene of shame and disgrace."

Approaching the court, the judges saw crowds "closing the entrances of the roads to the gates, climbing the fences, chanting slogans denouncing judges and inciting the people against them," the statement said, adding that "the threat of harm" prevented the judges from entering. The judges said they were suspending the court's sessions until they could resume their work without "psychological and physical pressures."

While the judges blamed the Islamists, the Islamists accused the judges of manufacturing a melodramatic excuse for failing to show up. And the contradictory narratives captured a clash between the judges -- appointed by Hosni Mubarak, the former president -- and Egypt's new Islamist leaders that has thrown the political transition into a new crisis 22 months after Mr. Mubarak's ouster.

Egyptian courts had previously dissolved both the elected Parliament and an earlier Constitutional Assembly, and the breakup of the current one would have completely undone the transition. President Mohamed Morsi cited the pending ruling on Nov. 22 when he put his own edicts above judicial review until ratification of the constitution, saying that he intended to protect the assembly until it finished its work.

That same apprehension about the ruling drove the assembly to rush to approve a constitution just before dawn on Friday, over the objections of secular parties and the Coptic Christian Church, before the court could act.

The judges' statement on Sunday was a counterattack, and the scene outside the courthouse was much quieter than their statement described. A line of hundreds of riot police officers backed by a fire truck and several armored personnel carriers were on hand to secure the judges' entry to the courthouse, and several people were seen coming and going without any difficulty.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Marc Lynch | FOREIGN POLICY

in many ways Bahrain's practices are getting worse, not better. Stiff prison sentences for activists such as Nabeel Rajab, arresting people for criticism on Twitter, targeting activists and critics, revoking the citizenship of activists, and banning all public protests do not suggest a regime on the mend.   The violence which erupted a few weeks ago only highlights Bahrain's ongoing social and political deterioration.  Even the U.S. State Department, which has rightfully been criticized for failing to pressure Bahrain on human rights and political reform, recently spoke out with unusually lengthy and detailed criticism of its escalating crackdown, and last week warned that Bahraini society could break apart. Neither pressure from domestic activists and international human rights organizations nor occasional international media scrutiny has had much effect.  

Bahrain's regime has focused far more over the last year and a half on a public relations pushback than on addressing its real political deterioriation and human rights disaster.  It has spent heavily on PR firms to rehabilitate its image, and anyone who writes or tweets about Bahrain has become quite accustomed to the inevitable responses which follow. Holding the controversial Formula One race in April was a key part of the attempt to demonstrate to the international community that Bahrain had returned to normal -- a portrayal somewhat undermined by the burning tires, furious activists, and critical media coverage which followed. (My all time favorite video response remains this "Epic Fail" from Katy Perry.)  This Index on Censorship story suggests that whatever her personal intentions, Kardashian's visit falls into the same category of attempts to rehabilitate Bahrain's image without any meaningful policy changes.   That protests and tear gas disrupted the international media coverage of her visit as well is therefore in some ways a promising sign that the reality of Bahrain's ongoing repression and failure to deal honestly with its recent past has not yet been washed away.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Raises Monitoring of Iranian Reactor - WSJ.com

The U.S. has significantly stepped up spying operations on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor over the past two months, American officials said, driven by heightened concerns about the security of weapons-grade plutonium after Tehran unexpectedly discharged fuel rods from the facility in October.

The increased U.S. surveillance of Bushehr, on Iran's southwestern coast, has been conducted in part with the Pentagon's fleet of drones operating over the Persian Gulf. The effort resulted in the interception of visual images and audio communications coming from the reactor complex, these officials said.

Tehran suggested an American drone was spying on Bushehr on Nov. 1 when it sent Iranian fighter jets to pursue the unmanned craft, firing at it but missing. The drone in question was conducting surveillance that day, but not on Bushehr, U.S. officials said.

U.S. officials stepped up surveillance after becoming alarmed over activities at Bushehr, especially the removal of fuel rods from the plant in October, just two months after it became fully operational, officials said. Nuclear experts said they are more concerned about safety at the reactor, for now, than about the prospect that Tehran will use the facility to develop atomic weapons.

Tehran formally protested the Pentagon's spying activities in a Nov. 19 letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a copy seen by The Wall Street Journal. The complaint charged that the U.S. has repeatedly violated Iranian airspace with its drone flights. But U.S. officials maintain that surveillance is conducted off the country's shoreline, in line with international law.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brazil Reaches Across Border - WSJ.com

Two Brazilian police bolted from a helicopter in Peru's Amazon jungle on a recent day with a squad of Peruvian commandos. Cracks of gunfire shook the forest before the group captured and destroyed a secret cocaine lab.

The Brazilians had the legal status of unarmed observers during the Aug. 19 raid led by Peru's elite antidrug police.

But both Brazilians carried assault rifles and faced hostile fire. The lab was in Peru, but the raiders flew from a Brazilian airport in a chopper running on Brazilian fuel to hit a target provided by a Brazilian-paid informant.

From its Amazon border with Peru to its bustling cities, Brazil is getting drawn deeper into a drug war as surging cocaine use turns it into the world's biggest market after the U.S. It is a surprise since Brazilian politicians once criticized aggressive antidrug strategies espoused by the U.S. as causing more harm than good.

Now, Brazil is adopting a controversial U.S. tactic: reaching across borders to stop cocaine at the source.

"Brazil is crossing a threshold that it hasn't even come close to in the past," said Douglas Farah, a national security consultant who advises the U.S. Department of Defense on Latin America and drug issues.

Conventional wisdom is that Latin America is shifting away from the U.S.-backed war on drugs. In April, longtime U.S. drug allies such as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos used the annual Summit of the Americas to call the U.S.'s 40-year Latin American drug war a failure and demand a debate on alternatives such as decriminalization.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:33:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 02:55:02 AM EST
Curiosity Mars rover sees no organics in Mars sample.

For a while, the planet (Earth) was abuzz with speculation about something found on Mars that was "for the history books." As we now know (and I warned you, folks), this was nothing more than speculation: A reporter ran away with a quote by a Curiosity scientist who simply meant that the overall mission would make its mark on planetary science  history.

At the time, when rumors were flying, some people were thinking "organic molecules." These are complex molecules based on carbon, which are the basic building blocks of life as we know it. We also know there's frozen water all over Mars--another necessary ingredient for life--so they idea of finding organic compounds is exciting.

At a press conference today, scientists talked about the latest results from Curiosity, and they put the kibosh--temporarily, at least--on organics.

"We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater," said Curiosity scientist Paul Mahaffy. He is the Principal Investigator (top banana) on the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument, a device that can perform detailed analysis of the chemistry and composition of surface samples scooped up by the rover.


by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:39:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate change compensation emerges as major issue at Doha talks | Global development | guardian.co.uk

Kilafasru Kilafasru, from the island of Kosrae in Micronesia, helped build his island's first defensive sea wall in 1971. Fifteen years later he worked on a new, larger one because the water kept rising. And in 2004, a third wall had to be erected.

But the sea level continues to rise, and now it comes right up to the houses, which are flooded every year. So Kilafasru has just spent $500 on a new cement wall to protect his family.

Whether rich countries should compensate vulnerable communities like those on Kosrae, in the central Pacific, for the "loss and damage" caused by events linked to climate change has emerged as a major new issue for developing countries in the UN talks that have just entered their second week in Doha.

The concept is new for both science and policy, say observers. In the past, the debate was about how poorer countries could adapt their economies to climate change and reduce, or mitigate, their emissions with assistance from rich countries.

But in a little-noticed paragraph in the agreement that came out of the Cancún, Mexico, talks in 2010, the need "to reduce loss and damage associated with climate change" was recognised by all countries. In legal terms, that potentially opens the door to compensation - or, as the negotiators in Doha say, "rehabilitation".

Now, as ministers from 194 countries fly in to take over the political negotiations, "loss and damage" has become a "red line" for more than 100 developing countries, led by the Alliance of Small Island States, the Least Developed Countries block and the African Group of Nations.

But the US and Europe are resisting strongly the idea that they should compensate for losses, fearing that it would lead to potentially endless financial claims.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:40:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate Change: Scientists Forecast Dramatic Temperature Increase - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Together with Corinne Le Quéré of the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change and colleagues from the Global Carbon Project, Peters calculated just how far apart international goals and reality are when it comes to climate change. Their conclusions, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, were the following:

Between 1990 and 2011, global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by 54 percent, and this is expected to jump to 58 percent based on projections for 2012. Humans will have released some 35.6 gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in this year alone, with an average increase of 3.1 percent per year. That number was slightly lower in 2012, measuring 2.6 percent, though that was mainly due to the economic crisis, the paper says.

These emissions are in line with the most extreme scenario, dubbed "RCP 8.5," from the world climate report that will be presented in 2014. This means that realistically, it would take more than a decade for CO2 emissions to sink. But that would be too late to reach the two-degree target.

The biggest polluters are China, which produces 28 percent of global emissions, the United States with 16 percent, the European Union with 11 percent, and India with 7 percent, according to the study. Emissions levels went down in the last year in both Europe and the US, (1.8 and 2.8 percent respectively), but those improvements were cancelled out by an almost 10 percent increase in China -- an amount about equal to total emissions in Germany.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Democracy Now!: Carbon Tsunami: World Bank Study Warns of Lethal Global Temperature Rise Even If Emissions Pledges Are Met (DECEMBER 4, 2012)
A shocking new report commissioned by the World Bank is warning temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, causing devastating food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought -- even if countries meet their current pledges to reduce emissions. If these promises are not met, the increase could happen even sooner. Meanwhile, scientists say it is still not too late to minimize the devastating impact of climate change. A separate report by the Climate Action Tracker says global warming could be kept below 2 degrees. "This is an imminent risk that will affect every living person on the planet if we push the ecosystems of the world into a major extinction crisis," says Bill Hare, a leading physicist and environmental scientist who helped produce both of these latest reports. Hare is CEO and managing director of Climate Analytics and the lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 reports, "Mitigation of Climate Change" and "The Synthesis Report." Hare calls for a carbon tax -- putting a small price on emissions -- to reduce the benefit of burning fossil fuels and enable funding of new technologies to reduce the disastrous release of greenhouse gases. [includes rush transcript]


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 4th, 2012 at 05:19:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fossil-Fuel Subsidies of Rich Nations Five Times Climate Aid - Bloomberg

Rich countries spend five times more on fossil-fuel subsidies than on aid to help developing nations cut their emissions and protect against the effects of climate change, the Oil Change International campaign group said.

In 2011, 22 industrialized nations paid $58.7 billion in subsidies to the oil, coal and gas industries and to consumers of the fuels, compared with climate-aid flows of $11.2 billion, according to calculations by the Washington-based group.

The data underline the steps developed nations may be able to take to cut their emissions as ministers from 190 nations meet in Doha to discuss measures to curb global warming. Eliminating the subsidies would reduce incentives to pollute and help rich nations meet their pledge to provide $100 billion a year in climate aid by 2020, said Stephen Kretzmann, the founder of Oil Change International.

"Measures that encourage inefficient use of energy, such as fossil fuel subsidies, must be eliminated," Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in a statement released by her office in Paris today. "Carbon emissions must be dramatically reduced, and the energy sector must play a key role in this.

The subsidies enable consumers to fuel cars and heat their homes more cheaply. The International Energy Agency estimates they totaled $523 billion last year, mainly from support paid out in developing countries. Production subsidies make it cheaper for oil and gas companies to extract the fuels. Leaders of the Group of 20 nations agreed at a meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies in the ``medium term.''
U.S. Reaction

U.S. and European Union envoys in Doha agreed that fossil fuel subsidies should be phased out. The U.S. is pushing the issue meetings of the Group of 20 nations.

Also see afew's diary "News From Our Favourite Lobbies".

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:44:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Debate begins over fate of renewable energy subsidies | EurActiv

EU energy ministers are poised to seek "non-binding" guidance from the European Commission on reform of green fuel subsidies as part of a debate on new post-2020 policy goals, according to a draft document.

The cost of renewable energy is divisive, as politicians in Germany, for instance, blame it for high prices that can undermine EU competitiveness compared with the United States, which has benefited from cheap and abundant shale gas.

Other nations, such as Denmark, which tax fossil fuel energy at high rates, have preferred to emphasise energy efficiency to reduce consumption and cut carbon emissions.

A document to be debated today (3 December) by energy ministers from the 27 member states calls on the Commission to present "non-binding guidance on the further improvement of national support schemes".

"Well-targeted and cost-efficient and effective post-2020 support may be needed, which does not cause inefficiencies in cross-border trade of electricity," the draft document, seen by Reuters, also stated.

"There is also a need for the rationalisation and the phasing out of environmentally or economically harmful subsidies, including fossil fuels," it said.

The European Union's three main green energy goals to cut carbon emissions by 20%, increase the share of renewables in the energy mix by 20% and increase energy savings by 20% expire in 2020.

Debate on 2030 targets is underway, with commissioners throwing their weight behind new targets for renewables and carbon cutting in principle, without saying how ambitious they should be.

So far, there has been little mention in public from the policy-makers of an energy savings goal for 2030 after a protracted battle to try to implement the 2020 efficiency target.

Renewable energy campaigners say they are relieved the post-2020 debate has begun and decisions are needed soon to help provide investor certainty.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:45:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Global Gas Push Stalls - WSJ.com
Exporting the U.S. shale energy revolution overseas turns out to be far tougher than anyone expected--giving the U.S. a significant competitive advantage.

Shale oil and natural gas have rejuvenated the North American energy industry and boosted the economy by supplying companies and consumers with cheap fuel. There are huge shale deposits outside of North America that global energy companies and governments are eager to tap.

But oil companies are running into obstacles as they try to replicate the U.S. experience on other continents. The result is that significant overseas shale energy production could be a decade away.

Among the reasons for the glacial pace abroad are government ownership of mineral rights, environmental concerns and a lack of infrastructure to drill and transport gas and oil. In addition, much less is known about the geology in most foreign countries than in the U.S., where drilling activity has been going on for more than a century.

The upshot: the U.S. and Canada could remain the main countries to reap the economic advantages of shale development for some time. In both countries, a glut of natural gas and ethane is luring petrochemical companies and fertilizer manufacturers to build new plants--a huge change after years of shifting production abroad. Meanwhile, states like Texas and North Dakota that actually have the shale deposits are getting additional boosts to their local economies from drilling activity.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:46:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fracking Secrets by Thousands Keep U.S. Clueless on Wells - Bloomberg
A subsidiary of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) pumped a mixture of chemicals identified only as "EXP- F0173-11" into a half-dozen oil wells in rural Karnes County, Texas, in July.

Few people outside Nabors, the largest onshore drilling contractor by revenue, know exactly what's in that blend. This much is clear: One ingredient, an unidentified solvent, can cause damage to the kidney and liver, according to safety information about the product that Michigan state regulators have on file.

A year-old Texas law that requires drillers to disclose chemicals they pump underground during hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," was powerless to compel transparency for EXP- F0173-11. The solvent and several other ingredients in the product are considered a trade secret by Superior Well Services, the Nabors subsidiary. That means they're exempt from disclosure.

Drilling companies in Texas, the biggest oil-and-natural gas producing state, claimed similar exemptions about 19,000 times this year through August, according to their chemical- disclosure reports. Data from the documents were compiled by Pivot Upstream Group, a Houston-based firm that studies the energy industry, and analyzed by Bloomberg News. Nationwide, companies withheld one out of every five chemicals they used in fracking, a separate examination of a broader database shows.

Trade-secret exemptions block information on more than five ingredients for every well in Texas, undermining the statute's purpose of informing people about chemicals that are hauled through their communities and injected thousands of feet beneath their homes and farms, said Lon Burnam, a Democratic state representative and a co-author of the law.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Osborne to back fracking and 30 new gas power stations » Spectator Blogs
Coalition tensions over energy won't relax with George Osborne's gas strategy, which he will launch alongside the Autumn Statement tomorrow. The Financial Times reports that the Chancellor's strategy will approve as many as 30 gas-fired power stations and - in a move that will delight those in his own party - a regulatory regime for shale gas exploitation.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 05:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will George Osborne hail the shale gas in his own backyard? - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

...the unfortunate quandary facing the Chancellor George Osborne and the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. Both have been enthusiastic backers of the Government's "dash for shale gas", which is likely to be confirmed tomorrow when Mr Osborne announces new tax breaks for exploration and an end to the moratorium on potential on-shore gas production.

But a study of maps from the Department of Energy and Climate Change reveals that their constituencies of Tatton and Shropshire North sit right above some of the potentially most lucrative gas fields in England.

If the predictions prove to be right, it means the sound of drilling may soon be competing with birdsong. George Osborne's constituency of Tatton in Cheshire, for example, despite being a safe Tory seat, has form for kicking out errant MPs - famously ejecting Neil Hamilton in favour of the TV journalist Martin Bell in 1997. They also have form for environmental campaigning. A vociferous protest continues against plans to build an adventure playground in Tatton Park. What hope then for Mr Osborne's dream of gas wells scattered around the country, unlocking what he has describes as "the newly discovered shale gas reserves beneath our land"?

Once again, all together: what destroys the lovely countryside is windmills.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 05:11:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Record US Intense Hurricane Drought Continues

The graph above provides an update to data on the remarkable ongoing US "intense hurricane drought." When the Atlantic hurricane season starts next June 1, it will have been 2,777 days since the last time an intense (that is a Category 3, 4 or 5) hurricane made landfall along the US coast (Wilma in 2005). Such a prolonged period without an intense hurricane landfall has not been observed since 1900.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Euronews: Fukushima fallout weighs heavy on Japan's election (04 december 12)
Such is the shadow cast by the nuclear disaster of nearly two years ago that both Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Liberal Democratic rival Shinzo Abe opened up their campaigns in the Fukushima prefecture.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda spoke of the need to rebuild Fukushima and Japan:

"By starting right here, we are reaffirming our belief that reconstruction of Japan is not possible without the reconstruction of Fukushima, we hope to start Japan's rebirth."

...

Liberal Democratic leader Shinzo Abe also carried a message of rebirth:

"We will seek the recovery of Fukushima, a disaster zone, as soon as possible. We will create a Japan in which those born in this country will feel joy, and regain a nation in which our children will be proud to be born in Japan. I ask you to lend us your hand."



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 4th, 2012 at 08:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.K. Offshore Wind Better Boost for Economy Than Gas, WWF Says - Bloomberg

The U.K. economy would be 20 billion pounds ($32 billion) larger by 2030 if the nation uses offshore wind to meet power demand instead of relying on gas, including unexploited fuel in shale formations, WWF and Greenpeace said.

The U.K. will also miss goals for cutting carbon emissions should it rely on gas over wind, according to a report from Cambridge Econometrics commissioned by the environmental groups.

The government is debating energy legislation designed to replace aging fossil-fuel plants, with Chancellor George Osborne seeking more incentives for gas that he says is cheap and less harmful than coal. He may set out plans in his autumn statement tomorrow to build as many as 30 gas-fired power stations with 26 gigawatts of capacity. The government's climate adviser said the plans make legally binding emission-cutting goals unachievable.

"With the Energy Bill now before Parliament, it's high time for the government, and especially the Chancellor, to open their eyes to the benefits that wind and other renewables will deliver for both the economy and the environment, and seize this opportunity before it goes elsewhere," WWF-U.K. Chief Executive Officer David Nussbaum said in a statement on the report.

The report, "The Economics of Gas and Offshore Wind" looks well worth a look.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 10:06:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same problem as the one from Ernest&Young (reading each other perhaps): the goal of energy production should be to relieve labor, not to maximise labor in energy production. Otherwise it is pedaling or coal mining that will win.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 02:34:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah but that's in a fantasy world where the benefits of economic production are shared justly whether people have a job or not. In the absence of any prospects of that whatsoever, just about any investment decision should be pushed in the direction, all else being equal, of more jobs. Because jobs generate jobs, and spread the wealth around.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 05:34:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you are for opening coal mines if it gives more jobs then wind?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 05:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, coal mines are unfair. The pollution does not fit the "all else being equal". But pedaling then? Or rather not investing in labor saving devices to conserve jobs.

The problem with this whole line is that it tries to work around the government policy of job destruction. I don't think you can, the government can always destroy if that is what it wants. It needs to be faced right on, or you will at best end up in a zero-sum game between different groups that will be unemployed.

Not so much that I mind Greenpeace and WWF trotting out this argument, perhaps some are swayed. But that does not make it a good argument in relation to a fact based world view.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 06:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well...
If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.
(Krugman blog, April 14, 2009)

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 07:02:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. The problem is the government policy of job destruction. My proposed solution is to reverse it, by spreading the meme that job-intensive solutions are good, because they create jobs. This has the potential to change government policy. Your proposed solution seems to be to accommodate policies of job destruction, in the hope that the wealth created will get spread around. But we know it won't.

The bicycle idea is a rather insulting argument, because we both know that the laws of physics make it unworkable. The point of the gas/wind comparison is where the added value is going : to the producers of the gas, or to the makers of the windmills. Your argument would only be valid, in this context, if the two options on the table were, on the one hand, a job-free technology-intensive option, and on the other hand, a low-tech labour-intensive one. I suppose you would prefer the former.

In food production, for example : for a given cost and food value, would you prefer a high-tech or a high-jobs option? I know which one I would prefer.

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

by eurogreen on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 07:03:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The high-tech one, right?

I mean, it's not like we don't have a backlog of useful work that could be done if the political will existed. "Creating jobs" isn't the point. If we want to create jobs, we just have to dig into that backlog of nice things we are told we cannot have.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 09:31:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean food production (at whatever level from farming through transformation) isn't useful work? ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 09:40:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it is, but that doesn't mean I want to spend more man-hours on it than I have to. A man-hour spent on farming is a man-hour I can't spend on other nice things.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 09:52:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that your view is not necessarily everyone's.

Something that has frequently cropped up on ET is that "some people" seem to think working in farming/food production is drudgery and the aim of "progress" should be to eliminate it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 10:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
would prefer their food to grow in vats and be delivered in sterile media, without unhygienic human or animal intervention.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 11:14:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is what goes into the process and what comes out of it. Whether it takes place in a chemistry lab, a greenhouse or an open field doesn't matter to me, except insofar as they abuse scarce resources or output problematic amounts of pollution.

Growing food in vats does have a certain cool factor going for it, but I doubt that it would be feasible on a sustainable energy budget.

Also, a lot of the food that comes out of factories is crap. But it's not totally obvious that that's a problem with factories rather than a problem with low expectations among the consumers disincentivizing a diversification up the quality scale.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 11:51:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I very much resent the culture that" ascribes the marketing of fat and sugar and salt-laced "tasty moreish" crap to consumers' low expectations. :)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 12:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Far be it from me to deny the power of advertising.

But it is perfectly possible to put great wine in plastic bags and wrap the plastic bag in cardboard, without damaging the wine. And yet to get three quarters of a liter of good wine you have to lug around three hundred gram of glass bottle. And not so very long ago, you had to risk the wine going bad from the cork because "only crappy low-class wines used screwed bottle caps."

This is not because corked bottles are cheaper than plastic-bag-in-cardboard. On the contrary, they are more expensive. It is because the industry has trained the consumer that "cheap packaging = cheap wine = bad wine."

Likewise, it is perfectly possible to make awesome, nutritious, oven-ready frozen food. But either the industry does not want to do that, or it has so successfully trained the consumer to expect that frozen food is always crap that the advertising effort to deprogram people of that idea isn't worth the effort.

Whether the conservatism is on part of the customers, the manufacturers or the advertising men depends, I think, on which particular product you were talking about. I don't pay enough attention to the processed food industry to be able to tell where the resistance to good processed food is. But I'm not prepared to totally exonerate consumer conservatism, any more than I am prepared to exonerate Unilever.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 01:06:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
consumer conservatism is just about the only reason we're not all eating an exclusive diet of factory-produced low-cost high-profit crap food.

Sure, in theory there would be a huge market for up-market low-cost high-profit semi-crap food. You seem mystified as to why this market barely exists. I find that as funny as hell.

In the real world, as opposed to your high-tech fairyland, conservative consumers know that the only way to get decent food, other than in self-respecting restaurants, is to choose your ingredients carefully and cook it yourself.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 03:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are certainly elements of drudgery in farm work. Until very recently drudgery was the vast preponderance of farm work. Still is in most parts of the world.

YMMV on what constitutes drudgery, of course.

But yes, reducing and eliminating drudgery is one of the key points of progress. I very much resent the culture that glorifies the excessive use of (somebody else's) drudgery in the production process, and uses the amount of (somebody else's) drudgery expended on production as a class and status marker. There is something fundamentally repulsive about the message "I am so rich that I can afford to waste other people's time by having them do things by hand that any half-assed machine shop could automate."

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 11:55:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
the culture that glorifies the excessive use of (somebody else's) drudgery

is a red herring. No one in this discussion is talking about that.

JakeS:

waste other people's time by having them do things by hand

That, on the other hand, is revealatory of exactly the thinking I was talking about.

Might it not occur to you (and some others) that there are people who thoroughly enjoy making things by hand? That even what you consider drudgery might not necessarily be repulsive to them?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 12:09:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
During my second marriage we lived in a 250 year old wooden Rectory. I had a rather primitive workshop in one of the outbuildings, but it was very relaxing to potter about fixing stuff. This was at the height of my somewhat stressful media career

I am most grateful for having the opportunity to live next to a small city farm in Leicester - as an early teen - and the chance to help out with horses and chickens etc. I also spent a couple of summers on the farm of a family friend in Beaconsfield (next to the famous miniature village).

In Finland, you are considered a city idiot if you can't chop wood, light a sauna stove, or build a privy. This is what we all do on summer weekends at the cottage - whether it's ours or someone else's. Or then fixing boats, or gardening, or building something. The Finnish man's dream is to build his own house for a family.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 12:42:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Finland, you are considered a city idiot if you can't chop wood, light a sauna stove, or build a privy.

There are parts of Finland where you will freeze to death if the power goes down for a week during the coldest part of winter and you don't have a pile of firewood chopped. It makes a great deal of sense for people who cannot or will not chop firewood and light a fire to stick to the cities.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 01:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The city idiots are a small minority. Most people I know eagerly await the summer so they can have at least 2 weeks, and most weekends, using a privy and living like Robinson Crusoe. I'm not an angler myself, but many of my friends enjoy it.

We also have the very popular Talkoot - you invite your friends round to do some work on your house or its grounds and they get some soup and beer. It even has urban versions.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 01:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are plenty of activities that are more fun to do by hand than to automate. But most of the things that you can make a living off doing by hand are not like that. If they were, it is unlikely that people would be paid enough for them to make a living off them.

When you pay someone to do something, you are, at the most basic level, saying "I don't want to do this, so you do it for me instead, or a tribute collector will beat you over the head and take your stuff." You don't do that if the stuff you want done is super happy awesome fun stuff.

(Without wishing to compare the underlying activities involved, this is also the reason that prostitution should be regarded with the utmost skepticism, even by people who have nothing in particular against casual sex between strangers. The act of payment is inherently coercive, and both changes and reveals the nature of the relationship.)

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 12:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then I suppose we'll have to offer people work out of "that backlog of nice things we are told we cannot have".

Good food apparently not included, because it doesn't pay?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 02:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course good food is included.

But the original premise was (for the sake of the argument) the ceteris paribus choice between the labor-intensive solution and the capital-intensive solution.

Using labor (drudgery or otherwise) to make nice things that we otherwise could not have (such as nice food) is clearly not a waste of time. My contention is merely that using labor to make nice things that we otherwise could have (such as woven cloth) is usually not praiseworthy.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 03:20:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a some-time weaver: har-rumpf.

Handwoven cloth contains irregularities not usually present in industrially-produced cloth--a quality often considered desirable by contemporary artists and designers. The rich colors and designs of traditional cultural textiles are appreciated by collectors and continue to provide sources of inspiration to handweavers and artists, as well as to designers in the textile industry. Noted textile designers such as Jack Lenor Larsen formed unique collaborations with traditional handweavers around the world to produce unique and distinctive fabrics for interiors, using traditional design elements and woven by traditional means. Such collaborations not only produce exciting new textiles; they also help the cultures involved to maintain art forms that are struggling to survive in the current global economy.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 04:03:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are plenty of activities that are more fun to do by hand than to automate. But most of the things that you can make a living off doing by hand are not like that. If they were, it is unlikely that people would be paid enough for them to make a living off them.

If I believed that, I would despair of humanity. I don't wish to put words in your mouth, but your utopia is starting to look pretty dystopic to me.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 03:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 02:55:04 AM EST

Are we there? Nyet! Russians stuck in traffic jam for two days | World news | The Guardian

Thousands of lorries and cars have been stuck, some for more than two days, in a traffic jam dozens of miles long caused by heavy snow north-west of Moscow, Russian media have reported.

Police in the Tver region said field kitchens were operating on the road, but many drivers complained supplies never reached them and they were running out of fuel to keep their engines running and heating on in subzero temperatures.

"Drivers help one another and that's it, the problems are on the side of the authorities. There are no fuel tankers, no water, nothing, we are just stuck here," a truck driver told Rossiya 24 TV. Another man told the state broadcaster he had advanced less than a mile in 24 hours. Reports put the length of the jam at between 25 and 120 miles at different times. Police on Sunday evening said it was no more than 35 miles.

The M10 highway links Moscow with St Petersburg, 430 miles away, and continues to the border with Finland.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the end of the world really nigh? Authorities reassure Russians over Mayan Armageddon prophecy amid reports of 'unusual behaviour' - Europe - World - The Independent

As the 21st of December nears, Russian authorities are attempting to quell fears that the world will come to end amid panic over what some experts claim are the predictions of the Mayan Calendar.

According to the New York Times, there have been scattered reports of unusual behaviour from across Russia, reportedly prompted by predictions of Armageddon.

The reports include "collective mass psychosis" in a women's prison on the Chinese border, panic buying of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles, and the building, out of ice, of a Mayan-style archway in Chelyabinsk in the south.

According to some experts, ancient Mayans predicted that the 21st of December would signal the end of a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar.

Some parts of Russia, which is often said to have a penchant for mystical thinking, appear to have been spooked by the prediction.

As a consequence the Russian government's minister for emergency situations has sought to calm panic over the prophecy, saying he had access to "methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth," and that he could say with confidence that the world was not going to end in December.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:55:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two days, and they are only now running out of fuel to keep their engines running ?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 05:06:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Teens Dying From Sunbed Tanning Curb $5 Billion Industry - Bloomberg

Teenage girls trading the risk of deadly melanoma for a year-round tan have helped spur a global backlash against the sunbed industry.

Health officials from Brasilia to Sydney are banning tanning salons amid evidence that they cause malignant lesions. Use of tanning beds causes all three types of skin cancer, especially for people younger than 25 years, a study published in October from the University of California, San Francisco said.

Doctors say the research, published in the British Medical Journal, should prompt tougher warnings on ultraviolet radiation-emitting tanning machines. The salons support $5 billion in U.S. annual economic activity, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In May, Vermont followed California, banning teens under 18 from indoor tanning. In Europe, laws prohibiting teens from tanning beds have been enacted in 22 countries, 18 of them since 2009. Age limits in Australia may have forced the closing of a third of sunbed operators there.

"We're seeing an uptick in melanoma cases and deaths among young women," said J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer with the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society. "Are we going to look back in 15-20 years from now and wish we'd been more forceful about moving this process forward?"

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:55:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkish TV channel fined for airing 'insulting' episode of The Simpsons | World news | guardian.co.uk

Turkey's broadcasting regulator has fined a television channel for insulting religious values after it aired an episode of The Simpsons that shows God taking orders from the devil.

Radio and television watchdog RTUK said it was hitting private broadcaster CNBC-e with a 52,951-lira (£18,600) fine over the episode of the hit US animated TV series, whose scenes include the devil asking God to make him a coffee.

"The board has decided to fine the channel over these matters," an RTUK spokeswoman said, adding that full details would probably be announced next week.

CNBC-e said it would comment once the fine was officially announced.

Turkey is a secular republic but most of its 75 million citizens are Muslim. Religious conservatives and secular opponents vie for public influence. Critics of the government say it is trying to impose Islamic values by stealth.

Elected a decade ago with the strongest majority seen in years, prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan and his Islamist-rooted AK party have overseen a period of unprecedented prosperity in Turkey. But concerns are growing about authoritarianism.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:58:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To the Precinct Station: How theory met practice ...and drove it absolutely crazy | Thomas Frank | The Baffler

Occupy did lots of things right: It had a great slogan and a perfect enemy and it captured the public imagination. It built a democratic movement culture. It reached out to organized labor, a crucial step in the right direction. It talked a lot about solidarity, the basic virtue of the Left. But in practice, academic requirements often seemed to come first. OWS was taken as a proving ground for theory. Its ranks weren't just filled with professionals and professionals-to-be; far too often the campaign itself appeared to be an arena for professional credentialing.

Actually, that's an optimistic way of putting it. The pessimistic way is to open Michael Kazin's recent book, American Dreamers, and take sober note of the fact that, with the partial exception of the anti-apartheid campaign of the eighties, no movement of the Left has caught on with the broad American public since the Civil Rights / Vietnam War era. Oh, there have been plenty of leftists during this period, of course--especially in academia. Studying "resistance" is a well-worn career path, if not the very definition of certain sub-disciplines. But for all its intellectual attainments, the Left keeps losing. It simply cannot make common cause with ordinary American people anymore.

Maybe this has happened because the Left has come to be dominated by a single profession whose mode of operating is deliberately abstruse, ultrahierarchical, argumentative, and judgmental--handing down As and Fs is its daily chore--and is thus the exact opposite of majoritarian.



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 06:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
India's Aakash-2: iPad Guts In A Miraculous US$21 Android Tablet:

... in an article last week, New York Times correspondent Pamposh Raina reports that the Aakash not only appears to be back on track, but is now targeted to be even less expensive and with better hardware than before.

How cheap? For Indian college students, the price of the Aakash-2 has fallen 40% to about $21 (1,132 rupees). A commercial version called the "UbiSlate" will cost between 3,499 and 4,299 rupees, or between $65 and $80.

And what will students get for $21? A 7-inch Android tablet/phone which, despite the latest upgrades, is honestly about 12-18 months behind what you'll see on the shelves of Best Buy. That's a relatively long time in the mobile game. But hey, at this price, who can complain?



Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 11:59:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel: A Punitive Village for Dutch Ne'er-Do-Wells (12/04/2012)
First there was an effort to clean up the red-light district in Amsterdam. Then came new laws regulating who could frequent "coffee shops" in the city and elsewhere in Holland for a joint. Now, the Dutch capital is introducing a plan to punish bad behavior by sending chronic neighborhood bullies and vandals out of the city center for a punitive stay in uncomfortable housing containers.

The proposal, which calls for identifying those who engage in repeated acts of harassment and other extreme forms of intimidation, is to go into effect early next year, according to Dutch media reports last week. Currently, the city is searching for a permanent location on the outskirts for multiple units to house the worst offenders. They are to have "minimal services."

...

Some €1 million has been set aside for the plan, which seeks to target only the worst of the worst among repeat, small-time offenders. Once relocated to the housing units, they would be supervised by social workers or even police, should it become necessary. The plan calls for them to stay in the units for at least six months, according to Boer. The project will also include a new hotline that residents can call should they feel threatened or intimidated by their neighbors.



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 4th, 2012 at 05:21:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me guess: this is an administrative punishment (ie without recourse to courts for those punished) which will target those that live in city owned rentals (good luck getting rid anyone who is anti-social and drives a Mercedes)?

Abusive Neighbors to Be Sent into Container Exile in Amsterdam - SPIEGEL ONLINE

"We have learned from the past and so we're well aware that while a neighborhood can usually deal with one problem family, if there are any more living together in close proximity the situation has a tendency to escalate."

And when you put a lot of problem families together, that is good because...?

Abusive Neighbors to Be Sent into Container Exile in Amsterdam - SPIEGEL ONLINE

But Boer rejected the comparison. "This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said. "It has to work."

And when it does not work, the punished has themselves to blame for not straightening up and stop being snti-social.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 04:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gotta love Europe's tolerant, progressive societies.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 05:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 02:55:08 AM EST
Pope joins Twitter, gains 60,000 followers - VATICAN CITY - FRANCE 24
Pope Benedict XVI has joined Twitter under the username @Pontifex and will tweet in eight languages beginning December 12, the Vatican said on Monday. Within two hours of the announcement being made, the pontiff had garnered some 60,000 followers.

Benedict XVI, the pope known for his hefty volumes of theology, is now trying brevity - spreading the faith through his own Twitter account.

The pontiff will tweet in eight languages starting Dec. 12 using his personal handle (at)Pontifex, responding live to questions about faith during his weekly general audience, the Vatican said Monday.

Questions can be submitted to (hash)askpontifex, and the pope will likely respond to three to five of those sent from around the world, the Vatican's communications adviser Greg Burke told a news conference.

The pope sent his first tweet last year from a Vatican account to launch the Holy See's news information portal, part of efforts to increase the church presence in social media and spread the faith. A personal Twitter account for the 85-year-old Benedict has been the subject of speculation ever since; Monday's news conference was packed in an indication of the interest it has generated.

Within two hours of the announcement of the pope's handle, he had already garnered nearly 60,000 followers.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 3rd, 2012 at 04:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Pope: how to gain 245 thousand twitter followers with nary a tweet.

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 3rd, 2012 at 05:08:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Breaking: Jesus on Twitter!

12 followers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 05:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Up to 518,306 by now.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 05:50:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And one is a troll.

And another will unfollow him before the cock crows.

by IM on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 06:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was that Jesus character from that old book the Pope likes to read from who said something about praying in public...

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Dec 4th, 2012 at 08:28:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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