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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 10 December

by afew Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 03:59:24 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1907 – The worst night of the Brown Dog riots in London, when 1,000 medical students clash with 400 police officers over the existence of a memorial for animals who have been vivisected.

More here and here

 The European Salon is a daily selection of news items to which you are invited to contribute. Post links to news stories that interest you, or just your comments. Come in and join us!


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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:58:32 PM EST
Italian parties begin campaigning, cajole Monti | Reuters

(Reuters) - Italy's political parties began maneuvering on Sunday ahead of elections expected in February as supporters of technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti sought to cajole him to stay in politics.

Monti has repeatedly said he would not campaign for power, but that he would be willing to serve again as an apolitical premier should the vote result be unclear.

But the premier's unexpected resignation in the face of People of Freedom (PDL) leader Silvio Berlusconi's attacks against his stewardship of the economy are fuelling speculation that Monti is ready to join the race.

Italian "progressives" from the centre-left's Democratic Party (PD) to the Union of the Centre (UDC) "identify with the reasonable and responsible policies Monti has made," UDC leader Pier Ferdinando Casini said on Sunday.

"A large part of civil society does not want to return to the populism and demagoguery of the past. We must give them the political offering they seek."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:07:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com: Politics have burst the Monti bubble (Wolfgang Munchau, 9 December 2012)
I have always respected Mr Monti as a European commissioner and a wise observer of European affairs, but I am more sceptical about his performance as Italy's head of government. The sometimes uncritical adulation he enjoyed was based on the notion that you could solve Italy's problems by putting politics aside, imposing a few reforms and a lot of austerity. The consensus in Italy was that only a technocratic government could deliver these policies.

...

There are now two things that need fixing in Italy, both of which are intensely political and beyond the scope of technocrats.

The first is to reverse austerity immediately - essentially to undo Mr Monti's work. The tax rises and spending cuts are having a counterproductive effect. By reducing both debt and growth, the debt-to-GDP ratio has increased in the short term and I doubt that it will fall by much in the long run. The deterioration in Italy's debt sustainability will become much clearer next year, as we get more statistical evidence of the calamitous effect of austerity.

...

The second priority is to stand up to Angela Merkel. This was something Mr Monti was unwilling - and incapable - of delivering. He tried a bit of grandstanding at the European summit in June, but he never managed to confront the German chancellor on the one issue that mattered: that without some form of debt mutualisation - a eurozone bond - it was hard to see that a country with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent and virtually no growth could remain a member of the eurozone, and keep on rolling over its debts for ever. Only an elected leader is in a position to force a choice. A technocratic prime minister cannot be expected to produce a credible counter-threat if the answer is no.



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 10th, 2012 at 07:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German Finance minister doesn't rule out Eurogroup candidacy: paper | Reuters

(Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble declined to rule himself out as a candidate to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as chairman of euro zone finance ministers, in an interview published on Sunday.

Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister, said he would step down as Eurogroup chief at the end of this year or early next, leaving policymakers just four weeks to find a successor to fill a potential power vacuum. He has headed the group since 2005.

Asked by Bild am Sonntag newspaper whether he or his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici would take over the job, Schaeuble replied, "in any case the new person has to drive European integration forward".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:11:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German finance minister signals ready to compromise on banking union | Reuters

(Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has signalled a readiness to compromise on the European Union's planned banking union and said leaders are working intensively to agree on a legal framework by Christmas, German media reported.

His comments will revive hopes that European leaders can finish planning a single supervisory mechanism for euro zone banks under the European Central Bank (ECB) by the end of the year as originally planned.

EU finance ministers had been at odds over how the mechanism should be structured and how much power the ECB should have, particularly if it conflicts with its monetary policy aims.

"We are working intensely to get the legal framework for a banking supervisor settled before Christmas," Schaeuble told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, in an interview published on Sunday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:39:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rajoy, he has won:
Schaeuble tosses his towel.
O, thank you, Silvio.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 04:03:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Romania votes in parliamentary elections - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Polls in Romania's parliamentary elections have opened with the centre-left ruling coalition on course for a substantial victory, an outcome promising a bitter cohabitation with president Traian Basescu.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta's Social-Liberal Union (USL), in power since May, is set to win between 48 to 61 per cent of the ballot, opinion polls show.

This could give the USL a two-thirds majority in the 470-member parliament, allowing it to pass through constitutional changes.

The Right Romania Alliance (ARD), which gathers parties close to Basescu's camp, trails far behind the USL, with polls showing support of between 16 and 23 per cent.

It will be Romania's first national vote since a failed attempt by the ruling Social-Liberal Union (USL) this summer to unseat centre-right Basescu - a move that drew sharp rebukes from the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Polls opened at 05:00 GMT and to close at 19:00 GMT on Sunday.

Exit polls will be released immediately after the end of the vote. The first official results are not expected until Monday

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurozone crisis as it happened: Bundesbank slashes German growth forecasts | Business | guardian.co.uk

We start with some breaking news: The Bundesbank has cut its growth forecasts for the German economy, warning that the financial crisis will have a much greater impact on Europe's largest economy.

Next year looks particularly weak, with Germany at some risk of falling into recession in the months ahead.

The Bundesbank expects growth of 0.7% this year, down from 1%.

In 2013 it expects growth of just 0.4% (not a typo), down from 1.6% previously. It also predicts stronger growth in 2014, with GDP expanding by 1.9%.

The Bundesbank said it was clear that the core of the eurozone was feeling the full impact of the downturn in the periphery, saying:

Given the difficult economic situation in some euro-area countries and widespread uncertainty, economic growth will be lower than previously assumed.

The Bundesbank does not see a protracted slowdown but instead anticipates a return to growth path soon.

It also admitted that the current slowdown could turn into a full-blown recession, saying:

There are even indications that economic activity may fall in the final quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013,

The gloomier forecasts come just a day after the European Central Bank slashed its economic forecasts.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:50:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Astonishingly, austerity in the eurozone has economic consequences. Who knew ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 03:48:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dutch National Bank announced today that all the joyous expectations of the Dutch government are hopelessly optimistic: the Bank predicts that the Netherlands, as an exporting nation, will see an economic recession, not growth, in 2013.

This completely undermines the government plans, presented in November, to slash some 17 billion euros of government spending the coming years and thereby stay within the 3% budget deficit. An economic downturn will create a gaping hole in those plans which relied on economic growth and thus on a certain measure of income.

Reality is, finally, marching into the gardens of the main proponents of austerity. Since the Dutch government has always been a hardliner on fiscal discipline, all the scenarios are lining up for a total embarrassment.

by Nomad on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 06:25:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedens export industries are laying off people and things have started to look dire. Not having a strict 3% target is a good thing, but killing markets still has consequences. For example for the elections in 2014. Two of four government parties are currently polling below the limit to enter parliament and a recession gives limited abilities to give them something nice to hand to their voters.

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 Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 03:42:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK on triple-dip recession alert after industrial slowdown | Business | The Guardian

The City has put the UK on triple-dip recession alert after news that falling factory and North Sea production have sent the output of industry plunging to its lowest level in 20 years.

With the financial markets fearful that the final three months of 2012 will see the economy contract for the fourth quarter in the last five, David Cameron said manufacturers were short of skills and needed to learn lessons from Germany in order to develop a modern industrial workforce.

The prime minister was speaking as the coalition's hopes of economic recovery received a setback from far weaker than expected official data from industry - the sector of the economy targeted for growth by the government.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Demography: Germany's baby blues | Presseurop (English)

Forty and fifty year old women without children are a group closely followed by demographers.

Twenty per cent of West German women born between 1960 and 1964, are childless while 22 per cent have only one child. The probability of being without children increases significantly the more a woman is educated. "A quarter of women with a higher education degree have no children, while for women with no more than a secondary school education the percentage is only 15 per cent," sums up Christian Schmidt a researcher at the DIW Institute of Economic Research in Berlin.

This phenomenon is causing concern among the powerbrokers of Berlin given the current context of rigor and reduced public spending. It is the most affluent women who are not having children while the number of children living in poor households, those that depend on benefits, for its part, continues to increase. The German press takes regular pot shots at DINKs (double income, no kids) households accusing them of being hedonistic and self-centred. The truth is often quite different.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:53:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the choice is career or babies, it's not so surprising that those with the best career prospects go for that choice in significant numbers.

There is still a real stigma to working while having kids (for women only, naturally...) in Germany

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 08:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: After Monti (10.12.2012)
Mario Monti has announced that he will step down after the vote on the budget, due before Christmas; Monti took the decision after the Silvio Berlusconi's PdL had withdrawn support from his government; overnight market reaction has been muted; Gianfranco Fini says Monti's resignation was a nice counterattack against Berlusconi; Pier Fernando Casini says Italy does not want to return to the bad old days of Berlusconi; Klaus Regling says Italy must not endanger the reform process; Berlusconi reiterates his will to fight the next elections, and tries to woo Matteo Renzi into his camp; the Italian parliament is likely to vote in favour of the budget, which would pave the way for election in early February; Guido Gentile expects an increase in bond spreads as a result of this uncertainty; Eugenio Scalfari says Berlusconi is a lot more dangerous than Beppe Grillo; Ferrucio de Bortoli urges Monti to run in the upcoming elections; Wolfgang Munchau said Monti was wrong on austerity, the reversal of which is now the most important task of his successor; Tobias Piller says the resignation means that many reforms will never see the light of day; Greece is said to have received €27bn in offers for buyback, might go for more; Jens Weidmann says banking supervision inside the ECB would require constitutional change; also says he is not happy about the Greek programme, as it is partly funded by debt monetisation through the central bank; Holger Stelzner says the real winners of the Greek bond buy-back are the hedge funds - a problem that will come to haunt the SPD; a PIMCO report says Cyprus banking sector needs €9.1bn-€9.5bn in new capital; the Irish government insists that there will be no changes in the austerity budget, which is likely to pass next week; El Pais writes that a Spanish rescue application is 'urgent', and that Spain should not seek prior approval from Germany; the Bank of Spain expresses doubt whether Spain can meet its deficit targets; Jordi Sevilla, meanwhile, calls for someone to relieve Spain from 'austericide'.


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 10th, 2012 at 04:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: At the Kreisky Forum: Why have Europe's social democrats surrendered to the toxic logic of current policies? (7 December, 2012)
Europe's Left, at the time of the Rise of the Global Minotaur (i.e. from the late 1970s till 2008), increasingly forgot that

  • the more financialised capitalism becomes

  • the more labour is being treated like any other commodity

  • the more our societies rely on house price bubbles as a source of rents and debt

the more unstable, crisis-prone and, ultimately, uncivilised capitalism becomes.

Capitalism experienced its heyday under people like Kreisky: Politicians who understood the above; leaders who were intensely sceptical of capitalism; who understood the importance of keeping financialisation, labour exploitation and real estate bubbles on a tight leash.

So, the question remains: How come Europe's Left abandoned these cherished principles of a Bruno Kreisky, a Willy Brandt, and Olof Palme? Why has the Left fallen for the toxic economics and politics of our era? (E.g. the SPD today which is faithfully voting with Mrs Merkel come what may.)

My tentative answer is that Europe's Left fell for the Global Minotaur's old trick. They saw the rivers of privately minted money that the financial sector was printing (while labour was squeezed and real estate prices soared) and thought they could harness some of it in order to pursue social democratic policies! Rather than (as the social democrats of the previous, Kreisky era had to do) target the profits of industry, as a source of funding social programs, social democrats thought they could tap the rivers of cash produced in the context of financialisation. Let finance free to do as it pleased and then tap into some of its proceeds to fund the welfare state. That was their game and, at the time, it seemed to them a better idea, more fathomable, than having to be constantly in conflict with industrialists, seeking to tax them in order to redistribute. In contrast, bankers were quite easy going. As long as the `leftist' politicians let them do as they pleased, they were happy to give them some crumbs off their gargantuan dinner table.



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 10th, 2012 at 04:31:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 06:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservative MP says most parents do not want gay children | Society | guardian.co.uk
The London mayor, Boris Johnson, and the education secretary, Michael Gove, were among a number of high-profile Conservatives to sign a letter in the Sunday Telegraph by Freedom to Marry, a newly formed group of senior Conservatives in favour of churches having the option to offer gay marriage.

Johnson urged the prime minister to press ahead with the bill so the party could start to heal its rifts.

He told Sky's Murnaghan programme on Sunday: "The Labour party will vote for it, the Liberals will vote for it, huge numbers of Tories will vote for it, whack it through, let's knock this thing on the head," he said. "Let's get it done and let's talk about the real Conservative things we want to do like encouraging aspiration, entrepreneurship, cutting taxes, cutting crime, creating a fairer society."

Interesting : once they've got rid of the gay-marriage thing, they can start creating a fairer society.

Also interesting : Doris's imagery

whack it through, let's knock this thing on the head

ties in with David Davies, author of the revealing non-sequitur about parents not wanting gay children (I suppose he thinks that repressing marriage will stop the little darlings coming out?), who prides himself on having done a bit of queer-bashing :

Davies responded to criticism on Monday by tweeting: "Once fought gay boxer. Respect & like. Trained with after bout so not bigoted. Activists calm down - listen to other views." He included a link to a YouTube clip of his amateur bout against Charles "Pink Pounder" Jones.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 08:53:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the "I've got a gay friend, so I can't be bigoted when I deny them equality" defense.

The social conservatives tearing themselves inside out trying to find a way to justify their prejudice that doesn't sound quite so prejudiced

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 09:49:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:58:56 PM EST
IMF's Lagarde Says U.S. Fiscal Agreement Should Be Comprehensive - Bloomberg

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said a political agreement on the U.S. budget should be comprehensive because a minimal deal would fail to provide certainty for investors.

Markets would sink without measures to avoid more than $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases due to come into force next year, Lagarde said, according to a transcript of a taped interview for today's "CNN's State of the Union" program. Still, an agreement that would only extend tax cuts for the middle class without addressing spending or entitlements would be insufficient to reassure the rest of the world, she said.

"I don't think that is enough because there is still that degree of uncertainty that fuels doubt, that prevents investors, entrepreneurs, households from making decisions, because they don't know what tomorrow will be," Lagarde said when asked about such an option. "It would be much better to actually have a more comprehensive approach and to deal with all the issues."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we're all glad the IMF picked someone who understands the issue.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 04:29:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China's Factory Output Tops Forecasts as Rebound Picks Up - Bloomberg

China's industrial output and retail sales exceeded forecasts last month while inflation rebounded from a 33-month low in signs the economic recovery is accelerating.

Factory production climbed 10.1 percent in November from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said today in Beijing, compared with the 9.8 percent median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Retail sales growth accelerated to 14.9 percent, while the consumer price index rose 2 percent from a year earlier.

Today's reports may reassure China's new leadership under Communist Party chief Xi Jinping that growth in the world's second-largest economy, which has slowed for seven quarters, will exceed the government's target this year. The data may also reduce the odds of additional fiscal or monetary easing to support expansion.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:41:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Goldman's 2013 Forecast - Business Insider

Goldman Sachs continues to dribble out its 2013 forecasts and top trades.

And as the firm peels back more and more, it's clear that the forecast is for major change to the economy.

This can be seen across multiple calls, from multiple analysts.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:46:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:59:27 PM EST
Venezuela's Chavez suffers cancer again, names potential heir | Reuters

(Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returns to Cuba on Sunday for more surgery after a recurrence of cancer led him to name a successor for the first time in case the disease ends his 14-year dominance of the OPEC nation.

Throngs of shocked supporters gathered in squares across the South American country to pray for and show solidarity with the 58-year-old socialist leader, who was re-elected for a new six-year term in October.

In his first public acknowledgement that his illness could force him to step down, Chavez said his vice president and foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, would take over if he is incapacitated, and urged supporters to vote for him if an election is held.

"With God's will, like on the previous occasions, we will come out victorious," Chavez said late on Saturday from the presidential palace alongside ashen-faced ministers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:06:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arab states agree on aid for Palestinians - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Arab League foreign ministers have agreed during a meeting to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority to make up for punitive measures imposed by the Israeli government after a successful bid for recognition at the United Nations.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly last month to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state, an historic though largely symbolic move.

Israel responded by withholding some $100m per month in taxes and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The Israeli government said the money will instead go to pay Palestinian debts owed to Israeli companies.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
General strike called after Bangladesh unrest - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

Bangladeshi opposition parties have called a general strike after at least two people were killed in clashes during nationwide road blockades demanding a caretaker government to ensure elections due in 2014 are fair.

Police and witnesses said at least two people were killed and more than 200 injured in Sunday's violence in the capital, Dhaka, and a number of other districts.

Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary-general of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), called for the daylong stoppage on Tuesday in protest against what he said were government atrocities committed against political activists during the protests.

The BNP, which leads an 18-party alliance and is led by Khaleda Zia, former prime minister, had enforced the eight-hour road blockades, which ended at 2pm (08:00 GMT).

The opposition has threatened to boycott the 2014 polls unless a caretaker administration is installed beforehand.

The ruling coalition, led by the Awami League, says the caretaker system, made up of unelected persons, cannot be reinstated as it violates democratic values.

It offered opposition parties the chance to join an election-time "all-party" government to hold a credible poll under a stronger election authority.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:08:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Egypt crisis: Opposition shuns Morsi move

Opposition leaders in Egypt have rejected President Mohammed Morsi's attempted compromise, which saw him scrap some of his powers but stick to a planned constitutional referendum.

Halting the referendum has been a key demand of the opposition, and the leaders called for protests on Tuesday.

The president's critics accuse him of acting like a dictator, but he says he is safeguarding the revolution.

Several people have died since Mr Morsi gave himself new powers last month.

In a statement after talks on Sunday, the opposition National Salvation Front said it did not recognise the draft constitution "because it does not represent the Egyptian people".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deadly clashes continue in Lebanon's Tripoli - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Clashes linked to the 21-month conflict in Syria have killed four people and wounded 40 others in neighbouring Lebanon, a security official said.

The latest fighting between Sunni Muslims and Alawite co-religionists of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the northern city of Tripoli on Sunday came as Lebanese authorities received the first three bodies from a group of 14 Lebanese and Palestinian nationals killed in Syria.

Clashes with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades left two members of each community dead, the security official said.

Tensions in northern Lebanon have run high since at least 14 Sunni Muslim Lebanese and Palestinian fighters from the area were killed by Syrian security forces a week ago in a Syrian border town.

Fighters from northern Lebanon had long been suspected of entering neighbouring Syria, but the killing of the men reignited Tripoli's long simmering tensions.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:14:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he's either for gay marriage or against judicial consistency. In his own words,
In a landmark 2003 decision, the Court ruled that states may not outlaw sodomy among consenting adults of the same sex. The minority dissent in the 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas was authored by Justice Scalia, who argued that the Court's reasoning effectively, if not explicitly, knocked down the legal basis for outlawing gay marriage.

"Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned," Scalia wrote.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 08:23:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 01:59:55 PM EST
Only Obama Can Revive the Tattered FDA | Mother Jones

President Obama is enjoying a pleasant end to 2012--a successful election and a winning hand in his fiscal cliff fight with the Republicans. But his Food and Drug Administration is having a rough slog.

In On Earth Magazine--and reprinted in Mother Jones--Barry Estabrook has a searing article establishing the FDA as woefully underfunded and reluctant to stand up to Big Food to protect the public from food poisoning.

And remember the voluntary new rules FDA proposed in April to curtail antibiotic use on factory farms--you know, the practice that drives the rising tide of antibiotic-resistant illnesses? The FDA insisted that voluntary rules would end massive overuse of antibiotics. "The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg declared in a press release. But in October, the agency had to cough up a trove of internal documents on the matter after a successful lawsuit by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The documents showed that top agency officials found serious "limitations" in the voluntary approach and expressed concern it might be "unlawful" for certain antibiotics.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

They also suggested that the agency's light hand in regulating antibiotics on farms, which it has been applying for decades, isn't having much of an effect on drug companies or feedlot operators.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's another nasty court ruling just in (from the same legal philosophy that gave the world Citizens United) saying that the FDA cannot ban advertising of off-label use of pharmaceuticals.

Orac has the story.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 05:59:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what happens when people die from the consequences of this?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 07:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the price of freedom

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 03:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At some point, eventually, after the FDA has been completely gutted and the market is flooded with snake-oil peddlers, one must assume that people will get sufficiently fed up with traveling snake-oil salesmen to demand regulation.

Sort of like how, when the banks fuck up hard enough, frequently enough, people start demanding banking regulation.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 05:19:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pendulum swings...

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 10th, 2012 at 05:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That moniker gives far too deterministic a sheen to the process. It when the public turns - in particular, whether it turns against the decriminalization nuts before or after a catastrophe becomes evident that will take decades to remedy - depends to a very great extent on the level of organized opposition. It is no law of nature that the deregulators have to be allowed to proceed all the way to catastrophe before effective opposition can be marshaled

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 05:54:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mother Jones:
reluctant to stand up to Big Food to protect the public

That's putting it nicely. Hand in glove would be more like it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 01:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they're making a presumption that the FDA exists to protect the people from the food industry. I don't think they properly understand how power dynamics work in modern American politics.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 03:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Powering Up with Centralized Biodigesters for Dairy Farms | Renewable Energy News Article

About 1,900 dairy farms dot the landscape in California, with millions of cows producing both milk and manure. The California Energy Commission wants to help milk that manure for all the power it can provide! In fact biodigesters, which produce gas from manure, offer a number of potential benefits: They generate energy, decrease greenhouse gases, reduce odors, improve water and air quality, and provide additional financial security for dairy farmers.

It is technically feasible to produce about 150 megawatts of generation (enough to power about 70,000 homes) from manure through the use of biodigesters, according to a study from the California Biomass Collaborative. The California Air Resources Board further estimates that the potential for methane capture from dairies amounts to about 3.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:21:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Feeding Paris - why the city needs to adopt the 'fairer' diet - The Ecologist
With a greater population of 12 million, and scores of hungry visitors, feeding the city is a colossal affair. There are here, about 11 boulangeries to the square kilometer, 82 farmer's markets and more than 10,000 restaurants across the city. Food is omnipresent in Paris as in any of the world's great cities. But with the exception of supermarkets that work with their own centralised purchasing establishments, most of the food that enters the city comes through a single gateway -- the marché de Rungis -- the world's largest food market.

At the crack of dawn the market comes alive, and one gets a sense of the invisible hand that feeds the city. Of it's sheer scale and sophistication. Of its seeming infallibility. For whatever the Gods have in store for the country's farmers at any given time - droughts, flooding, epidemics - there's a feeling here that this place would emerge untouched.

There are nearly 1,200 wholesalers operating at the market, and through countless specialty pavilions spread over 232 hectares, they help funnel about 1.5 million tons of food to Paris every year. Rent is paid by these entrepreneurs - not by the square meter - but by the number of service doors at their disposal. A reminder that the nature of this business is not to stockpile merchandise, but round it up and re-dispatch it as swiftly as possible. At 2pm, after the morning rush, in a vast airy building among large crates of sweet smelling produce, a few men remain to tidy up. In solitude they prepare for the next day.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
477 dead, homeless swell after Philippines typhoon

A quarter million people were homeless and 477 confirmed dead after the Philippines' worst typhoon this year, officials said Thursday, as the government appealed for international help.

Typhoon Bopha ploughed across Mindanao island on Tuesday, flattening whole towns in its path as hurricane-force winds brought torrential rain that triggered floods and landslides.

Erinea Cantilla and her family walked barefoot for two days in a vain search for food and shelter through a muddy wasteland near the mountainous town of New Bataan after the deluge destroyed their house and banana and cocoa farm.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Killer typhoon turns back towards Philippines

A typhoon that has killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands homeless in the southern Philippines has turned back towards the country and will hit it again, forecasters said Saturday.

Typhoon Bopha will slam into the northern tip of the main island of Luzon early Sunday, packing gusts of up to 160 kilometres (around 100 miles) an hour, the state weather service said.

It was likely to bring heavy rainfall to the area, civil defence office director Benito Ramos told a news conference. "People there need to take precautions," he added.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:25:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Glencore gets Chinese go-ahead for 6.1bn Viterra buy

The Swiss commodities giant Glencore said Friday that Chinese authorities have approved its purchase of the Canadian agri-business group Viterra and that it had thus cleared the last regulatory hurdle to the $6.1-billion deal.

"This was the final outstanding regulatory approval of Glencore's acquisition of Viterra," the Swiss company said in a statement, adding that it now expected the deal to take effect on December 17.

(...) The Swiss company was already present in the agricultural commodities market, but the Viterra takeover will move it into a whole new league in a sector dominated by US giants Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:28:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Environmental hangover from Indonesia's palm oil thirst

The roar of chainsaws has replaced birdsong, the once-lush, green jungle scorched to a barren grey. The equivalent of six football pitches of forest is lost every minute in Indonesia.

The disappearance of the trees has pushed thousands of animals -- from the birds they harbour and sustain to orangutans, gibbons and black panthers -- out of their natural homes and habitats.

They have been replaced by plantations that are too nutrient-poor to support such wildlife, instead dedicated solely to producing fruit that is pulped to make oil used globally in products ranging from food to fuel.

A palm oil tree can yield useable fruit in three years and continue doing so for the next 25 years. But such wealth creation has meant environmental destruction.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:30:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Housing Sales Data Used to Estimate Value of Urban Natural Resources

Trees, water and lawn clearly matter to urban dwellers. For city planners balancing green space with other demands, the question has been just how much green space matters to residents. Working with lead author Heather Sander of the University of Iowa, economist Robert Haight of the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station estimated how much home buyers are willing to pay for more scenic vistas, better access to outdoor recreation, and greater neighborhood tree cover.

Their study, "Estimating the economic value of cultural ecosystem services in an urbanizing area using hedonic pricing," was recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management and is available on-line here.

"We have sophisticated ways of measuring many aspects of the services trees provide, such as how much they save homeowners in heating and cooling costs, but people also value natural resources in less tangible ways that are much harder to quantify," said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Debilitating drought devastates Brazil - Features - Al Jazeera English
Serrita, Brazil - Djalma Sedrim worked his entire life to build up his cattle ranch and livelihood, only to see the worst drought in a half century dry it all up in a matter of months.

The 75-year-old rancher had about 1,000 cattle and a plot of land where he and his wife grew corn.

But then the weather changed everything.  

Significant rainfall hasn't been seen here for 19 months, and Sedrim's pasture went dry and morphed into a barren dustbowl. His animals had nowhere to graze, and now the dusty pasture has been transformed into a surreal scene, with dozens of rotting carcasses of cattle that starved to death. Vultures circle overhead, and a thick stench of decomposing flesh hangs in the air.

(...) "These animals used to be really productive," Sedrim said nostalgically, looking at his dead animals.

Sedrim has lost about 600 of his herd to starvation in the past 18 months. Twenty-five died last week alone. The majority of those still alive have been sent to a neighbouring farm.

(...) The northeast of Brazil is going through the worst drought in nearly 50 years, and no town has been hit harder than Serrita in the interior of Pernambuco state, 550 kilometres inland from the state capital of Recife.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:00:15 PM EST
Jeb Bush, with cash and clout, pushes contentious school reforms | Reuters

(Reuters) - Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush soared to rock star status in the education world on the strength of a chart.

A simple graph, it tracked fourth-grade reading scores. In 1998, when Bush was elected governor, Florida kids scored far below the national average. By the end of his second term, in 2007, they were far ahead, with especially impressive gains for low-income and minority students.

Those results earned Bush bipartisan acclaim. As he convenes a star-studded policy summit this week in Washington, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential education reformers in the U.S. Elements of his agenda have been adopted in 36 states, from Maine to Mississippi, North Carolina to New Mexico.

Many of his admirers cite Bush's success in Florida as reason enough to get behind him.

But a close examination raises questions about the depth and durability of the gains in Florida. After the dramatic jump of the Bush years, Florida test scores edged up in 2009 and then dropped, with low-income students falling further behind. State data shows huge numbers of high school graduates still needing remedial help in math and reading.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Watches, mistresses on show as China highlights graft

Lurid reports of Chinese officials sporting luxury watches or promoting their twin mistresses are being hailed by state media as proof of a corruption crackdown -- but real reforms remain a distant prospect.

Less than a month after Xi Jinping ascended to China's most powerful post as head of the Communist Party and proclaimed the scourge of graft an existential threat to the ruling organisation and the country, official outlets are striving to show action is being taken.

Several senior Chinese officials have been placed under investigation, including the vice party head of Sichuan province and a former deputy mayor of the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen.

A web page run by the Communist party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, hailed their fall as "the start of an anti-corruption storm".

But the breadth and depth of the campaign are still unclear, even as corruption threatens the ruling party's claim to legitimacy -- a recent Pew Research Center survey found 50 percent of Chinese considered official graft a very big problem.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Police clash with thousands of rioters in south China

Police in a south China city bordering Vietnam clashed with thousands of rioters who were protesting excessive brutality meted out to a suspected smuggler, the government and a rights group said.

The incident occurred Friday in Dongxing city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with rioters destroying numerous police and border patrol vehicles and clashing with security forces, local police said in microblog postings.

"Five policemen were lightly injured and nine anti-smuggling vehicles were damaged... no one (else) at the scene was injured or killed," the Fangchenggang prefecture public security bureau, which oversees Dongxing, said on its microblog site late Friday.

"During the incident the police did not adopt overly violent behaviour."

According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, up to 10,000 people joined in the rioting and over 20 police and customs vehicles were smashed or burned.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:33:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish Scientists Design a Revolutionary Data Storage Device

University of Granada researchers have developed a revolutionary data storage device in collaboration with the CEA-LETI lab at Grenoble (France), an institution of the Campus of International Excellence CEI BioTic. The researchers have designed one of the most advanced data storage devices in the world. The invention is protected with ten international patents including Japan, USA, Corea and the European Union.

Important companies such as Samsung and Hynix (Corea) and Micron (USA) have shown interest in this innovative data storage device.

The researchers at the University of Granada Nanoelectronics Lab Noel Rodriguez and Francisco Gamiz have designed an Advanced Random Access Memory (A-RAM). The researchers developed the theoretical model of this new technology in 2009.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:35:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:00:43 PM EST
BBC News - South Africa's Nelson Mandela 'looks well' in hospital

South African President Jacob Zuma has visited Nelson Mandela in hospital and says he "looks well after a restful night", Mr Zuma's spokesperson said.

The president has been reassured that Mr Mandela is in the hands of a competent medical team at the hospital in Pretoria, Mac Maharaj told the BBC.

The 94-year-old was admitted to hospital on Saturday to undergo tests.

South Africans have been waiting for word on Mr Mandela's condition amid messages of hope for a speedy recovery.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 02:09:20 PM EST
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