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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 8-9 December

by DoDo Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 03:36:08 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on these dates in history:

1912 - following an escalation of military support declarations by the Great Powers during the First Balkan War, the German Imperial War Council meets to discuss a proposal to launch war, but rejects it due to lack of preparedness of the navy

More here and here

1582 - two months behind the Papal plan, the last day according to the Julian calendar in France (followed by 20 December according to the Gregorian calendar)

More here

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:32:13 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Headline News / Eurozone needs a 'shock absorption' fund

BRUSSELS - A eurozone-wide 'shock absorption' fund should be created to assist countries in economic difficulty, according to a paper that will take centre stage at next week's EU summit.

The paper "Towards a genuine economic and monetary union", put together by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, maps out a road-map for the eurozone featuring a comprehensive rulebook on banking union and its own 'fiscal capacity'.

But it kicks the prospect of further revisions of the EU treaties to create a mutualised debt regime through either Eurobonds or euro bills into the long-grass.

Under the proposals, the EU would prioritise completion of the three prongs of a banking union in 2013. This would include harmonised deposit guarantee schemes to protect savers, and resolution frameworks to wind-up failed banks, sitting alongside the supervision mechanism policed by the European Central Bank (ECB).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought the "shock absorber" was known generally as a "printing press."
by asdf on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:21:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy's new crisis must not derail reforms: OECD | EurActiv
Italy should reassure markets that its economic reforms will not be reversed after Silvio Berlusconi's PDL party withdrew support for the government, OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan said on Friday (7 December).

"The Italian economy is certainly weak, the timeframe for emerging from recession is getting longer," Padoan told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"Given there is this fragility, the main parties should give clear signals that the agenda of the Monti government will continue."

Berlusconi's party withdrew its support for Prime Minister Mario Monti yesterday (6 December), raising the risk of a snap election, but President Giorgio Napolitano said he would work to avoid a crisis and there was no need for alarm.

Centre-left leader PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani admitted that Monti's government is on the verge of a breakup after Berlusconi's actions, which he called completely irresponsible, Italian daily L'Unità reports.

Perhaps, maybe, perchance... could it be that the timeframe for emerging from recession is getting longer because of the agenda of the Monti government?...

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a quandary when things are put in this framework. Padoan's statement comes straight from double-bind.  What does he mean by "Italy" and how could that entity reassure markets about the future? Should Monti beat some sort of drum and say, Gee, markets, everything's A OK!

Why in the hell would Monti change his programs because an irresponsible jerk pulls out of a coalition when it no longer serves his purposes? The coalition has the numbers but the incognito is politics. The bottom line, though, is if elections will be held in March or May, which is not all that earthshaking a problem.

Berlusconi hungers for elections and has decided to engage in pre-tactic by distancing himself from the coalition. He wants to pull the good old Save-the-Nation shit. Berlusconi is at his best when there's strife and chaos. The Greeks had it down pat: dia-ballein, throw things asunder. He lives for it with all his wimpy honcho suckers grovelling at his feet, Alfano the first. It keeps his 80 year old hydraulic system oiled.

Concerning DoDo's remark, it is a political matter that will have little to do with the recession. Monti's time finishes with the legislature very soon and then it will be back to party politics all over again. It will surely make the recession much longer.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 05:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it's semi-official this evening. Government closes shop in mid-January. Elections March 10th.

No laws that go contrary to Berlusconi's interests will be passed. Sovereign spread over 600...

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 05:48:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rajoy wins!

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 06:26:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
could it be that the timeframe for emerging from recession is getting longer because of the agenda of the Monti government?...

monti brings down the spread, by giving italy the appearance of a 'normal' government, the detached technocratic government, above the noisy brawl of electoral politics, thus de facto wiser, beyond the fray.

his policies will starve italy into a depression, slowly, undramatically, as his level of intrigue goes deeper than national politics, his allegiance is to the banking system per se, a man of little or no vision other than accounting skills, it would appear.

the right is crooked and so is the trad centre left, bersani has won the primary ensuring politics as usual.

markets understand that italy's political divides and factionising will consume much of its energy in pointless friction and dick-waving, leaving the chaos (and desire for real change) bubbling under monti's regimen unaddressed.

i find it so hard to believe italians will vote in berlusconi again, but they've done it twice, so...

here's beppe's take on bersani's crew:

Beppe Grillo's Blog

Bersani no longer needs the PDL. He can win on his own and bring about the definitive collapse of the country with his big team.
Offensive formation: 3-4-3. Formation on the field. Penati in goal, he's so good at warding off the accusations of corruption, aiding and abetting as well as illicit financing, not even matched by the legendary Yascin. Luisi as fullback on the right, tireless, he distributed public money to all the team during the recreation session. Ottaviano Del Turco, a stopper of another era, when legs were cut off. He's strengthened by the accusation of criminal conspiracy. Crisafulli the static fullback sent for trial for collaboration in the abuse of office. With this defence you can afford to have a diamond-shaped attacking midfield with a quartet made up of La Ganga moulded by 20 months in prison, agreed in a plea bargain for illicit financing to the parties, Delbono with very well developed foot play, having done a plea bargain for aggravated fraud and embezzlement, Tedesco a coordinator with so much experience, under investigation for criminal conspiracy, corruption, aiding and abetting, collusive tendering and forgery and then there's Bassolino "better than Pelè" on trial for aggravated fraud, with a long kick, he passes one ball after another all in the right direction. The attacking trio are a dream. Zoia Veronesi, of the female quota, Bersani's secretary and trainer on the field, the centre forward that breaks through, the one who is under investigation for fraud. She hid the ball from the defenders. On the wing, with the freedom to converge towards the centre towards the UDC, Pronzato, a former adviser to Bersani, arrested for corruption and Cimitile arrested for forgery.


if monti goes, italy will go through all kinds of merry hell as the spread rockets to new heights, and reality hits home that the caste's recipe for progress and growth are utter nonsense, and will only make things worse. monti is like a bandage over a dirty wound.

i wish italy had used the breathing space monti's august reputation afforded to re-invent itself, but in effect there's little evidence any significant new political force is emerging strongly enough to face the issues head on and be candid with voters.

which leaves italy with a comedian to take on that duty...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 07:10:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes the comedian seems the only hope, with what seems to me from afar, the insanity of "the left beyond the center-left" factionalism in a time of societal collapse and even worse: is it true that Vendola wants to cooperate with Bersani? At least the IU managed to pull itself together in Spain towards some form of political relevancy. Yet in Italy, why such inaction in the face of an unprecedented crisis? And what happens if Beppe surprises everyone and actually wins? The polling numbers I've seen seem to suggest that the left with Beppe could add up to a contender.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 07:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think italians are hoping having 'their man' (be it draghi, or monti) means that with a quiet phone call to the right person italy's chestnuts will be pulled out of the fire, in order to avoid a spanish situation, or worse, a greek one.

i watched the c-left primaries and was rooting for renzi after vendola was knocked out, because he at least wanted to cut away at the government waste and bureaucracy. vendola i thought was the best candidate, but he's got some baggage, and he's an out gay, which makes him beyond the pale for all the centre-right who may have been attracted to his policies, but can't get past the ear-ring!

they are all desperately trying to rearrange the electoral law so keep 5*ers out of the power loop.

wouldn't want to risk breaking up that cozy little backscratching get-together would they?

the fissure is happening between the magistracy and the rest of the state, with hard questions ever more asked as to what really happened in the 70's with the 'years of lead' and the extent the mob were right at the decision table with the state in order to terminate falcone and borsellino.

people have accepted for decades that these events were never going to be explained, but more and more italians feel disgusted and. now screwed fiscally and kicked out of work has done a lot to sharpen italians' desire for a cleaner government, instead of the grotesqueries we have had...

were it not for the global crisis, italy would have bumbled on, just as she would ir she could devalue her currency, but it's a new world now, and the tools used so long to stop good government, endless arguing, factionising, betraying, backstabbing have kept governments voted in and out like musical chairs.

the thought of berlusconi coming back on daily tv screens boggles the mind, i really thought his day was done... i think he's too passe to really pull off the kind of coalition-of-the-rabid he was able to before, too much deja vu involved.

here's hoping they don't pull off the electoral rolls scam to keep beppe from the table. his party is anything but the rabble, or raggle-taggle in any way. they are finding really good candidates, and beppe's admonitions to stay off the talk shows, which has drawn criticism, may be a good move, still not sure.

renzi and vendola would have made a better hope as transition to the kind of italy beppe wants, one i feel fully in line with.

the fact that beppe's outrage meter is permanently in the red attracts more voters that it repels, but as the situation continues to spiral south, more and more voters will recognise the policies he offers are the only ones that can pull italy into the semblance of a working country again, (if it really ever has been!).

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 06:19:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton visits Belfast amid rising sectarian tensions - NORTHERN IRELAND - FRANCE 24

Clinton flew into a military airport outside Belfast for talks with senior leaders in the British province, wrapping up one of her last trips to Europe as America's top diplomat.

Two bombs were found in other parts of Northern Ireland overnight in a sign of of the sectarian tensions despite the peace process, although there was no apparent link to Clinton's visit.

Police said around 1,000 people rioted in Belfast after the controversial Union flag vote on Monday, and 15 officers, two security workers and a press photographer were injured in the demonstrations.

Trouble broke out minutes after Belfast city councillors voted to remove the Union Flag from City Hall, meaning it will be taken down for the first time since the building opened in 1906.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:32:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU ministers to send mixed messages to Albania, Serbia | EurActiv
EU ministers will not grant Albania the EU candidate status at next week's meeting, diplomatic sources told EurActiv. However, they will likely give the green light to opening accession negotiations with Serbia, if a number of conditions are respected, such as improving relations with  Kosovo.

At least one country, the Netherlands, has strongly objected against giving the candidate status to Albania, EurActiv has learned as European Affairs ministers are expected to discuss enlargement-related issues at their meeting on Monday (10 December) in Brussels.

The Commission recommended in October that the European Council put Albania in the club of candidate countries that now consists of Turkey (1999), Macedonia (2005), Montenegro (2008) Iceland (2010) and Serbia (March 2012). Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been promised EU accession perspective, but have not yet reached the stage of candidate country. Croatia is due to become a member next year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian human rights report points to EU 'deterioration' | EurActiv
The human rights situation in the EU has deteriorated with the economic crisis, a Russian envoy said yesterday (6 December), citing xenophobia, racism, violent nationalism, police abuse and neo-Nazism among others. "We believe that nobody should have the monopoly to assess the human rights situation in other countries," the envoy insisted.

Konstantin Dolgov, ambassador-at-large with the title of "Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law", met journalists two weeks ahead of Vladimir Putin's visit to Brussels for the second EU-Russia summit this year [more].

Dolgov explained that the 66-page report, which is available in Russian and English, and soon in French, was the first of its kind, coming on the hills of another one, on the human rights situation in the United States.

Russia's government is obviously doing you-are-nasty-too propaganda, but EU members provide more than enough evidence for the propaganda to contain nothing but the truth.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US starts a new 'cold war' over Magnitsky affair: Furious Russia vows to list Americans blocked from entering country, after US votes to name and shame corrupt officials - Americas - World - The Independent

One of Russia's top foreign policy officials responded furiously and promised that Russia would indeed answer with its own list of Americans to be banned from entry to Russia.

"The reciprocal list will be fairly significant, if we name those behind Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, and the CIA secret jails, Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia's Federation Council.

"The list will include those who have violated human rights [in the Middle East], and that would be according to global opinion, and not just the opinion of this Mr Browder, who some experts feel is simply using the Magnitsky List as a diversion."

However, according to a poll by the Levada Centre, an independent Russian polling agency, 39 percent of Russians who had heard about the Magnitsky Act approved of it, rising to 45% among Muscovites.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:33:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what percentage of the US population would support a list that bannied their corrupt politicians from travelling where they want to?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 07:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, probably 47% of them would support putting the other guys into a cage somewhere, while allowing their own guys to do whatever they want. Our partisan politics is no longer limited to inside the country.
by asdf on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:25:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Organising to survive in Greece: Tonia Katerini of Syriza describes the social solidarity movement rising as Greeks struggle for survival...
The solidarity networks are working in six spheres: food supply and health services... education, cultural activity, legal advice and social economy.

We are people of the left and radical left, and connected with Syriza - though it's not only people from Syriza who are involved. Syriza also decided that 20 per cent of its MPs' salaries would be given to solidarity actions. We have decided that this will be used to help people to start small collective businesses, or to buy essentials for social kitchens, but we don't use it for direct payments to people or for paying rent.

Solidarity for All is a growing movement - last year there were maybe only 100 initiatives and now it has grown to 2,000. There is a lot of activity, spreading fast. So far it has been people taking action by themselves but we are trying to coordinate it. We are trying to make a database of all the small groups doing solidarity actions so they can meet each other and exchange experiences. The aim is to make a movement out of this, and try to find solutions to the problems encountered by solidarity networks.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 07:44:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow. Thanks for that most interesting article!
by sgr2 on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 08:10:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has prepared a 6-minute video celebrating the EU Peace Prize - without any reference to Italy.....Van Rompuy has apologized, but hasn't removed the video.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 08:40:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:33:34 PM EST
Commission moves to close tax fraud, evasion loopholes | EurActiv

Algirdas Šemeta, the taxation and anti-fraud commissioner, told reporters in Brussels yesterday (6 December) this was a "scandalous loss of public income particularly in tough economic times".

He said the action plan set out 30 new measures to close loopholes and increase information exchange, and called on EU countries to implement the current EU code of conduct on business taxation as soon as possible.

Faced with different national fiscal regimes, politicians had urged the Commission to adopt an EU-wide approach.

"In a single market, within a globalised economy, national mismatches and loopholes become the play-things of those that seek to escape taxation", Šemeta said.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But there are entire economies within the eurozone whose very economic philosophy is about being low tax / corporate tax evasion friendly.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 08:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany slashes growth forecasts | Business | guardian.co.uk
The Bundesbank lowered its growth forecast for this year to 0.7% from the 1% it predicted in June. It cut its 2013 prediction even more sharply, to 0.4% from 1.6%, but is expecting growth to bounce back to 1.9% in 2014.

The news shocked markets on Friday morning. "Investors have become accustomed to continuing woes in the eurozone periphery but Germany, Europe's largest economy, is considered the backbone of the shared currency zone and was previously viewed as the beacon of stability," said Lee McDarby of Investec.

The eurozone remains mired in recession and the Bundesbank's revisions came a day after the European Central Bank said it expected that to continue next year, cutting its 2013 forecast for the 17-nation bloc from 0.5% growth to a 0.3% decline.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:33:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German bank rescue bill balloons | Business News | DW.DE | 07.12.2012

Support for German banks, which were bailed out during the financial crisis, would cost the country's taxpayer another 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in 2012, Germany's mass circulation daily "Bild" reported Friday.

The newspaper cited sources within a parliamentary committee supervising the SoFFin bank rescue fund, which was set up in 2008 to help ailing German banks with credits and loan guarantees.

... However, SoFFin dismissed the report about taking another loss from WestLB as wrong. Noting that the fund's 2012 losses had reached just 900 million euros by the end of September, SoFFin Chief Executive Christopher Pleister said employees were doing their level best to limit the shortfall.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:34:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times Deutschland finally makes it into the black | Media Monkey | Media | guardian.co.uk
Financial newspaper FT Deutschland never made a profit in 12 years but its 309 employees made sure its last edition was in the black. On a final black front page (hat tip, Die Welt's Holger Zchäpitz), under a title piece changed to "Fi n al Times Deutschland", is the headline Endlich Schwartz - which roughly translates as "finally black".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How Angela Merkel saw off the Financial Times Deutschland | Thomas Fricke | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
...At the start of Greece's winter of discontent in 2009-10 we did wonder if it wasn't stupid to exclude the possibility of a bailout per se when you are faced with a self-perpetuating cycle of fear of the kind that triggers a bank run - otherwise the contagion could spread to other countries. We somehow sensed that it is not very helpful to force a country in economic crisis to pay high borrowing costs - not if we want that country to reduce its debt burden instead of increasing it. And from time to time we tried to point out that a country may end up with the very opposite of a shrinking debt burden if it has too much austerity imposed upon it, and if it makes savage cuts and raises taxes. Because then its economy collapses and the ratio of debt (relative to economic output) immediately rises.

We also did our best to help prevent further escalation of the crisis, and in the summer of 2011 we warned against rushing in to put the squeeze on private creditors. Because that in its turn was only likely to trigger another round of panic reactions. Instead we pointed out that at the end of the day the central bank was going to have to underwrite the system anyway in a crisis of this sort. It was meant well.

But somehow it did no good. The fact is, Merkel herself always started out by doing the exact opposite...

What follows is a six-point list of Merkel's bad decisions followed by backtrackings only when the damage was done.

The trouble is, by the time the penny finally drops the damage is already done. And in the three to 12 months it has always taken for the chancellor to do what we advised in the first place, the crisis has escalated further. Until at some point it engulfed the real economy here as well. Which brings us to the injustice of history.

It's worth to remember that FTD was different from the usual business paper in at least part (by far not all) of its editorialising, and its departure is actually a shift of public discourse on the economy further to the right and further towards blind economic chauvinism. Then again, provocative taz columnist Deniz Yücel said it best when focusing his commentary on the fact that the journalists doing propaganda for unfettered capitalism don't want it to apply in their own field.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:34:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oettinger declines invitation to South Stream opening | EurActiv
The construction of the offshore section of the South Stream pipeline is due to officially start today (7 December) with a ceremony near the Russian Black Sea town of Anapa in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has reportedly declined the invitation to attend.

Observers note that Gazprom may have put the cart before the horse, as a final investment decision is not even in sight.

According to media, Putin will launch the construction of the offshore section and Bulgaria, where the pipe is expected to emerge on the other side of the Black Sea, has sent its public works minister to attend the ceremony.

...Radio Free Europe cited experts as saying that a final route has yet to be submitted to Brussels and likely won't be approved for at least another year.

Jonathan Stern, head of the Natural Gas Research Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, is quoted as saying that Gazprom hasn't yet ordered pipes or organised the lay barge for the pipeline and "cannot start laying the offshore section until 2014 [at the] earliest."

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A $628m brew-haa: Frances taxes beer leaving wine untouched - Europe - World - The Independent
Stephane Bogaert, the head of French microbrewery Brasserie Saint-Germain, is crying foul.

The French government this week passed a law that adds 480 million euros ($628 million) in new taxes on beer, while leaving wine unscathed.

"The government doesn't want to touch wine and Champagne producers because they are much too powerful," Bogaert said in an interview at his small brewery in Aix-Noulette in northern France, which employs eight people and has 1.5 million euros of revenue.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:35:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US jobless rate hits four-year low - USA - FRANCE 24

Nonfarm employment increased by 146,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, defying expectations of a sharp pull back related to superstorm Sandy.

However, job gains for both September and October were revised to show 49,000 fewer jobs created in those months than earlier reported.

The jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent last month, the lowest since December 2008. But the drop was because people gave up the search for work, which does not bode well for the economy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:35:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:35:52 PM EST
French soldiers `ordered' to kill Ivorian, court hears - FRANCE-IVORY COAST - FRANCE 24

Four former French soldiers accused of murdering a man during a peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast in 2005 are due to hear a court's verdict on Friday.

The men, who admit involvement in killing Firmin Mahe, say they were acting under orders.

Prosecutors on Thursday called for prison terms of between two and five years for the former soldiers, saying that even if they were following orders, "It is a soldier's duty to disobey illegal commands."

The French military insists Mahe was a murderer and a rapist who was terrorising civilians in the UN-occupied safe zone.

Mahe's death in May 2005 led to the sacking of General Henri Poncet, commander of the French mission in Ivory Coast. He was given an official reprimand for a suspected cover-up in the case, but is not on trial.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ghana's voters optimistic in neck-and-neck elections - GHANA - FRANCE 24

Ghana voted Friday in high-stakes presidential and legislative elections that will be a test of the West African nation's reputation as a "beacon of democracy".

Turnout was high on Friday morning in a close face-off between incumbent President John Dramani Mahama and the New Patriotic Party's Nana Akufo-Addo, who lost the 2008 election by less than one percentage point.

Much is at stake for a country whose economy has been booming in recent years - by 14 per cent in 2011 and an expected eight per cent in 2012 and 2013.

One of the world's newest oil producers, Ghana is also a top African exporter of gold and cocoa. And while voters are keen to see this prosperity trickle down, high in their minds is pride in the country's democratic credentials and hope that the vote will be free, fair and transparent.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:36:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hamas chief arrives in Gaza for first-ever visit - Middle East - World - The Independent

The exiled Hamas chief broke into tears today as he arrived in the Gaza Strip for his first-ever visit, a landmark trip reflecting his militant group's growing international acceptance and its defiance of Israel.

Khaled Mashaal, who left the West Bank as a child and now leads the Islamic militant movement from Qatar, crossed the Egyptian border, kissed the ground, and was greeted by a crowd of Hamas officials and representatives of Hamas' rival Fatah party.

Mashaal, 56, was also welcomed by a group of Palestinian children of Gaza militants killed by Israel in recent years, wearing military-style uniforms. Thousands of Hamas supporters lined the streets as Mashaal and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh drove by, waving and flashing victory signs.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt scholar: 'Constitution a success' | World | DW.DE | 07.12.2012

Angry demonstrators are protesting Egypt's draft constitution. But scholar Björn Bentlage thinks the constitution is in fact democratic, and criticizes the opposition for failing to bring more specific concerns.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:36:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - William Hague confirms 'evidence' of Syrian chemical weapons

William Hague has said he has seen "some evidence" that Bashar al-Assad's regime is preparing to use chemical weapons against Syrian rebels.

The foreign secretary would not give specific details of the intelligence, also seen by the US, but said it was enough to renew warnings to Assad that his regime would face action if they were deployed.

American satellites and other tools have reportedly detected increased activity at several chemical weapons depots in Syria. At least one military base is also said to have been ordered to begin combining components of Sarin nerve gas to make it ready to use.

Of course, the last time a dictator used chemical weapons against his own people, the US and UK had an unseemly race to re-supply him (which UK won - go Brits).

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 08:35:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
áEnvironment, Energy, Agriculture, Foodá

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:36:51 PM EST
Firms tap technology to improve water delivery | EurActiv
Bulgaria loses as much as half its urban water supply through leaks, and across the European Union, some as much as 40% of piped water never makes it to consumers. But emerging technology could help reduce waste and turn water systems into energy sources.

The push for innovation and public-private partnerships comes amid growing pressure to conserve freshwater resources and improve irrigation efficiency as outlined in the European Commission's Water Blueprint last month. The document also calls for `innovation partnerships' to achieve efficiency.

One example of such a partnership is Hidromod, a small Portuguese software firm that has jointed the global engineering company Bentley Systems to develop Aquasafe. The software and technology platform provides real-time information for water and wastewater plants to help detect leaks and improve planning during periods of high demand.

But then, today the maintainance of an efficient infrastructure is not a technology issue but a question of finance.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:37:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Grids alliance aims to counter renewables 'NIMBY syndrome' | EurActiv
EU energy ministers have teamed up with electricity grid operators and environmental groups to counter the NIMBY syndrome on new renewable energy infrastructure builds.

An unusually broad alliance of Transmissions System Operators (TSO's), EU leaders, and NGOs set the ball rolling at a launch on 5 December, with backing from 11 EU energy ministers in states such as Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Last month, the European Commission agreed a new streamlined process for approving new electricity pylons and transmission lines, infrastructure that is desperately needed to integrate wind and solar-powered renewable energies into Europe's grid networks.

"NIMBY syndrome has forced TSOs to this table and we need to have the courage to stare it in the eyes," said Ariel Brunner, the head of EU policy for Birdlife, referring to `Not in my back yard' opposition to grid construction.

I can't shake off the suspicion that grid operators merely use renewables as a fig leaf for a push to ease regulations.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:37:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tiny structure gives big boost to solar power
ScienceDaily (Dec. 6, 2012) -- Princeton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.

The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using a nanostructured "sandwich" of metal and plastic that collects and traps light. Chou said the technology also should increase the efficiency of conventional inorganic solar collectors, such as standard silicon solar panels, although he cautioned that his team has not yet completed research with inorganic devices.

Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering, said the research team used nanotechnology to overcome two primary challenges that cause solar cells to lose energy: light reflecting from the cell, and the inability to fully capture light that enters the cell.

...The researchers said the PlaCSH solar cells can be manufactured cost-effectively in wallpaper-size sheets. Chou's lab used "nanoimprint," a low-cost nanofabrication technique Chou invented 16 years ago, which embosses nanostructures over a large area, like printing a newspaper.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedish Nuclear Reactor Ordered Offline Due to Safety Concerns | 4-Traders

STOCKHOLM--The Oskarshamn 2 nuclear reactor in southern Sweden will be taken offline Thursday after the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority ordered an immediate shut-down due to safety concerns.

...The authority's concerns relate mainly to diesel generators which are part of the plant's backup power system.

"One of the diesel generators was not serviced as planned in 2011. That now has to be done," Leif Karlsson, head of section at the authority said. "The other generator needs to go through at least a 48-hour durability test."

IWR reports that in addition, the plant was required to install four diesel generators in 2004 but still has only the above-mentioned two.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan lifts tsunami warning after offshore quake - JAPAN - FRANCE 24

A strong quake centred off northeastern Japan shook buildings as far away as Tokyo on Friday and triggered a one-metre tsunami in an area devastated by last year's Fukushima disaster, but there were no reports of deaths or serious damage.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and thousands of coastal residents were ordered to evacuate to higher ground, but the tsunami warning was lifted two hours after the tremor struck.

The March 2011 earthquake and following tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant was destroyed, leaking radiation into the sea and air.

Workers at the plant were ordered to move to safety after Friday's quake. Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, reported no irregularities at its nuclear plants.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:38:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FAO report links high food prices to biofuel demand | EurActiv
Biofuels account for the largest source of new demand for agricultural production and have helped drive price volatility in grain crops like wheat and maize, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization says in a new report.

Biodiesel accounted for 80% of the EU's vegetable oil production while 37% of the grain crop in the United States went towards ethanol production, the FAO's `State of Food and Agriculture 2012' report shows.

The report, released Thursday (6 December), calls for ramping up agricultural investment in developing nations to provide jobs and reduce poverty. It points out that average farm production has declined since the 1960s and that threats to land and water could further erase gains.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:38:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Self-taught African Teen Wows M.I.T. | MyScienceAcademy

15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe is an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker, DJ Focus.

Kelvin became the youngest person in history to be invited to the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at MIT. THNKR had exclusive access to Kelvin and his life-changing journey - experiencing the US for the first time, exploring incredible opportunities, contending with homesickness, and mapping out his future.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 07:43:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
áSociety, Culture, History, Informationá

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:38:49 PM EST
Amsterdam's 'scum villages' show the illiberal new face of northern Europe | Owen Hatherley | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

When did apparently liberal, social democratic Europe start to resemble so closely illiberal, rightwing England? At first glance, the proposal on the part of Amsterdam's Labour council to dump antisocial tenants in "scum villages" made out of shipping containers is the sort of thing that Policy Exchange might think up to get the Mail cheering and liberals worrying - you could imagine Michael Howard thinking it a potentially useful idea during his tenure as Tory leader.

It also suggests an even more extreme version of Britain's vicious housing politics, the cleared estates, the evictions of rioters and their families. Yet it is being seriously proposed and very possibly implemented by a social democratic local authority. We could think also of the Swedish free schools that became Michael Gove's unlikely example for the future of education, or Grant Shapps' enthusiasm for the elective get-up-and-go of Dutch self-build housing as a possible solution to our housing crisis. Somehow, the parts of northern Europe that the centre-left used to hold up as exemplars of more egalitarian, tolerant and productive societies are providing even more extreme blueprints for disciplining, excluding and generally putting the squeeze upon the undeserving poor.

...Northern Europe might still sometimes practise a form of social democracy, but its social democratic parties are nearly as eviscerated, morally bankrupt and tired as New Labour. Many social democratic parties in Europe have a distinctly Blair-like approach to triangulation - both to the left (with strong challengers like Die Linke in Germany and the Socialist party in the Netherlands) and the far right.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Disability / 'No money for EU projects discriminating disabled people'

BRUSSELS - As the EU nears a deal on its seven-year trillion-euro budget, disability campaigners are fighting to ensure that EU regional funding is only spent on projects that also benefit disabled people.

"It should be outlawed in the EU that any euro cent is used to produce inaccessible situations for persons with disabilities," Yannis Vardakastanis, president of the European Disability Forum (EFD), told this website.

The biggest gripes are that money from structural funds - aid to EU regions - is spent either on schemes that are inaccessible to disabled people or used to build institutions to house them.

...member states argue that they are building "better institutions" for disabled people. "But the problem is that this reinforces the focus on institutions."

Disabled people argue that the emphasis should be on making the environment and society more inclusive rather than excluding them from the community.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:39:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Grave robbers caught stealing gold teeth - The Local

French police on Thursday detained three grave-diggers in the latest in a series of arrests after dozens of bodies were dug up and gold teeth and jewellery stolen from them.

Police detained the men as they worked at a cemetery in Pantin in the north Paris suburbs, where last month four other men, including another three grave-diggers, were arrested.

The first two arrests came on the night of November 25, when police found 10 gold teeth on one of the suspects who were both wearing miners' headlamps and boots covered with fresh earth.

A police source said the thieves located fresh graves during the day and then returned at night to rob them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 03:06:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All this valuable stuff sitting in boxes in the ground and we give people shit for doing the hard work of reclaiming it. As long as they put the dirt back, neatly, what's the big deal?

ALL grovel before the GREATNESS of EMPEROR TRUMP! 😝
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 09:27:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's interesting, because most gold teeth (at least, the way they do crowns over here) don't have much gold in them. Hardly worth the effort of digging somebody up just for that. I bet it's the jewelry...
by asdf on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
HuffPo: Violence Against Women Act: Eric Cantor, Joe Biden In Talks Amid Stalled Tribal Provision (12/06/2012)
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the author of the Senate VAWA bill, went to the Senate floor on Thursday and plainly announced that House Republican leaders are blocking his bill "because of their objections to [the] ... tribal provision."

Leahy explained the provision, probably the least understood of the three additions in the Senate bill: It gives tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands. Currently, federal and state law enforcement have jurisdiction over domestic violence on tribal lands, but in many cases, they are hours away and lack the resources to respond to those cases. Tribal courts, meanwhile, are on site and familiar with tribal laws, but lack the jurisdiction to address domestic violence on tribal lands when it is carried out by a non-Native American individual.

That means non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on tribal lands are essentially "immune from the law, and they know it," Leahy said.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 07:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:40:26 PM EST
'Sex for student fees' man unmasked to be IT consultant 'with top-level MoD security clearance' - Crime - UK - The Independent
The man revealed by The Independent to be running a website offering to pay the tuition fees of female students in return for sex can today be named as a highly paid computer consultant who claims to have top-level Ministry of Defence security clearance and access to top secret material.

Mark Lancaster, 39, who presented himself as an "assessor" for the SponsorAScholar.co.uk website, has worked as a contractor on a massive overhaul of the IT network used by UK armed forces, military sources confirmed last night. He is also thought to have worked on computer systems used by British forces during the invasion of Iraq.

The Independent this week tracked down the married father-of-two to his £460,000 home on the edge of the South Downs national park in Hampshire after he was filmed asking an undercover reporter to undergo a "practical assessment" with him to prove the "level of intimacy" she could provide for the website's claimed clients.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:40:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course me prejudiced toward Katzenjammer, but this is Tom Waits meets The Roches euro style.

Fairytale of New York

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 05:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This appears to be in the second stage of viral. Caption:

Joseph and Mary making their way toward Bethlehem...

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 06:49:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pictures of guests from the Finnish Independence day celebrations at the Presidential Palace last Thursday included gay couples happily dancing in the elegant ballroom - without gender comment from the media. I'm sure there are some rabid homophobes spitting on their keyboards in some obscure online forum for the perpetually blinkered, but in mainstream Finland it's no longer news.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 06:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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