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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 2 February

by afew Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 04:02:41 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1922 - James Joyce publishes Ulysses

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:02:09 PM EST
BBC News - Russia activists erect anti-Putin banner facing Kremlin

Russian opposition activists have erected a giant banner opposite the Kremlin saying "Putin go away".

The banner could be seen for some hours on the roof of a building on the opposite bank of the Moscow River, before it was taken down.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is tipped to win the presidential election on 4 March. He had two terms as president, in 2000-2008.

Fraud allegations marred December's parliamentary poll won by his party.

An activist group called Solidarity says it put up the banner.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:30:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Fiscal treaty stirs political disputes in EU countries
BRUSSELS - The Czech Republic's decision to not sign up to a new fiscal discipline treaty given the nod by EU leaders on Monday (30 January) has caused parties in the ruling coalition to lock horns - but the intergovernmental pact is proving controversial elsewhere too.

...the new treaty has met with calls for referendums in Ireland and Denmark.

...In France, the frontrunner for the April presidential elections, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, is also making waves with his pledge to re-negotiate the treaty if he wins.

Hollande wants an increased role for the European Central Bank, the creation of eurobonds and a European financial transaction tax.

His position has prompted a debate in French political circles about whether the treaty can be re-opened after the current French President Nicolas Sarkozy signs it in March, as expected.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:34:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / News In Brief / EU socialists support renegotiation of fiscal treaty
"We support Francois Hollande in his intention to renegotiate this treaty," Hannes Swoboda, head of the Socialist group in the European Parliament said Wednesday. The French Socialist candidate has pledged to re-open the treaty agreed on Monday by EU leaders if he is elected in the upcoming presidential elections.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:34:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
His position has prompted a debate in French political circles about whether the treaty can be re-opened after the current French President Nicolas Sarkozy signs it in March,

Don't treaties have to be ratified by parliament in France?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 02:29:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / EU blocks German take-over of US stock exchange

BRUSSELS - The European Commission has blocked a merger between Deutsche Boerse and the New York Stock Exchange, the two largest players in trading of derivatives - a financial product said to have helped cause the 2008 financial crisis.

"The merger would have led to the worsening of conditions for companies trying to access financial instruments and would have harmed the European economy as a whole ... In the end, we had no alternative but to prohibit the merger," EU anti-trust commissioner Joaquin Almunia told press in Brussels on Wednesday (1 February).

The decision came as a surprise after EU single market commissioner Michel Barnier earlier voiced "reservations" on blocking the deal. But Almunia said it was taken by the full college of 27 commissioners without a vote.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US Congress ups the ante on EU aircraft emissions law | EurActiv

The US Congress will formally express its opposition to an EU law aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from jetliners, a thorny diplomatic issue that has threatened to escalate transatlantic trade tensions.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a provision in sweeping aviation legislation that would question Europe's mandate to force airlines to pay for their carbon emissions, while flying in Europe.

Their move follows the partial activation of the EU's Emissions Trading System carbon registry on 30 January, which led airlines to begin buying carbon permits, so making themselves eligible for the 85% of carbon allowances that the EU will hand out for free.

The bill, which unites Congress behind the Obama administration's position, is expected to pass in the coming weeks.

Compromise language expressing opposition to the law is less strident than a Congressional bill passed in October that sought to exempt US carriers entirely from the EU measure that took effect on 1 January.

Airlines complain that the EU law amounts to a new tax, against a backdrop of historically high fuel costs and softening domestic demand, especially in the US.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:38:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hey if US carriers don't want to fly to europe, I'm sure european carriers will take up the slack

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:39:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France backpedals on Armenian genocide | EurActiv

French lawmakers appealed to their country's highest court yesterday (31 January) to overturn a law that makes it illegal to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago was genocide.

The move raises the possibility that the law, which sparked an angry reaction in Turkey, will be dismissed as unconstitutional.

The legislation, which received final parliamentary approval on 23 January, prompted Ankara to cancel all economic, political and military meetings with Paris.

More than 130 French lawmakers from both houses of parliament and across the political divide, who had originally voted against the bill, appealed to the Constitutional Council.

The court has one month to make its decision.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:38:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEP condemns latest 'gay' arrests in northern Cyprus: theparliament.com
A fresh outbreak of arrests in northern Cyprus for "unnatural intercourse" have been condemned by UK deputy Marina Yannakoudakis.

The latest arrests took place on 29 January in the Central Prison in Nicosia, the capital.

Two male inmates, one a Nigerian citizen, were charged with sexual intercourse "against the order of nature".

It is the third time in the past eight months that arrests have been made based on Section 171 of the country's penal code.

The Greek-run part of the island is due to assume the rotating EU presidency in the second half of this year. The north and south have been divided since a bitter civil war in 1974 and only the south has, so far, been allowed to join the EU.

Yannakoudakis, a Conservative MEP, has been lobbying Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu to repeal the ban on homosexuality in the northern part of Cyprus - the last part of Europe where it is illegal to be gay.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:42:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: The eurozone's credit crunch
The latest ECB bank lending survey showed a dramatic tightening of credit in Q4; effect of LTRO is likely to come through in following months; more tightening is expected for Q1; banks also reported that changes in regulatory requirements contributed to the tightening of credit; Fitch says Italy should focus on growth, not austerity, as rating agencies are becoming more critical of the eurozone's obsession with fiscal belt-tightening; ECB may hold out on a Greek debt swap until private investors reached PSI+ deal; pressure is growing on Lucas Papademos to get an agreement among his three squabbling coalition partners; the Greek labour minister warns that further wage cuts would have dramatic consequences on the social security fund; Angela Merkel may not have a coalition majority for the second Greek programme as more and more German MPs are favouring a Greek exit; China takes over from France as Germany's largest trading partner; Francois Hollande reinforces his lead of Nicolas Sarkozy, but the French president reassures his nervous party that he will be the winner; Jens Weidmann criticises the fiscal compact for being too loose; also says it is too weak to act as a precursor to a fiscal union; German wages are expected to rise at a moderately faster pace this year, but wage restraint is likely to continue; Wolfgang Münchau says the German proposal to deprive Greece of its sovereignty has a point, but any sovereignty transfer in the EU has to be symmetrical; Charles Goodhart, meanwhile, says central banks should not attempt to forecast an uncertain future, and focus on plausible scenarios instead.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 04:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason Greece is being scapegoated is quite simple: there was a quid pro quo two years ago where Greece pledged reforms in return for German support. This is a two-way street, obviously, but neither of the two countries foresaw the disastrous effects of the program.

Now, Germany's pledge of support is weakening as Greece's economy is in tatters. Greece, in refraining from restructuring immediately as it should have done two years ago when its debt to GDP was 115%, expects Germany to hold up its end of the bargain since such a default two years ago would have lead to immediate contagion in the eurozone and problems for German banks, but Germany's only response is to scapegoat the supposed lack of reforms in Greece.

And yet, there are reports out there that Greece has actually reached a primary balance in its budget, which is no surprise since the country has slashed that budget by 19% in two years, and now the troika is asking for a further cut equivalent to 2% of GDP, or 6% of the budget. 25% in 3 years.

by Upstate NY on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 10:25:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting piece from Stratfor - I highly recommend some of the bits that I didn't quote:

Germany's Role in Europe and the European Debt Crisis | STRATFOR

Germany has decided to make an example of the Greeks. The German public largely has bought into Berlin's narrative of Greek duplicity and German innocence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has needed to frame the discussion this way, and she has succeeded. The degree to which the German public is aware of the complexities or the consequences of a generalized austerity for Germany is less clear. Merkel must now satisfy a German public that questions bailouts and sees Greece as simply irresponsible. Capitulation from Greece is necessary for her as a matter of domestic politics.

The German move into questions of sovereignty has raised the stakes in the debt crisis dramatically. Even if the Germans simply back off this demand, the Greek public has been reminded that Greek democracy is effectively at stake. While Greece may have borrowed irresponsibly, if the price of that behavior is yielding sovereignty to an unelected commissioner, that price not only would challenge Greek principles, it would bring Europe to a new crisis.

That crisis would be political, as the ongoing crisis always has been. In the new crisis, sovereign debt issues turn into threats to national independence and sovereignty. If you owe too much money and your creditors distrust you, you lose the right to national self-determination on the most important matters. Given that Germany was the historical nightmare for most of Europe, and it is Germany that is pushing this doctrine, the outcome could well be explosive. It could also be the opposite of what Germany needs.

Germany must have a free-trade zone in Europe. Germany also needs robust demand in Europe. Germany also wants prudence in borrowing practices. And Germany must not see a return to the anti-German feeling of previous epochs. Those are several needs, and some of them are mutually exclusive. In one way, the issue is Greece. But more and more, it is the Germans that are the question mark. How far are they willing to go, and do they fully understand their national interests? Increasingly, this crisis is ceasing to be a Greek or Italian crisis. It is a crisis of the role Germany will play in Europe in the future. The Germans hold many cards, and that's their problem: With so many options, they must make hard decisions -- and that does not come easily for postwar Germany.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 02:41:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't buy the narrative there. In fact, it flies in the face of what I am saying.

Reforms of sectors are not going to save the Greek economy. It stuns me that the troika take so much interest in utility deregulation,or  the opening of the pharmacy and/or taxi sectors. I mean, who really cares?

Stratfor seems to have bought into this idea that Greece is hopelessly preventing reform, but the fact is, reform is a smokescreen. The gov't has simply slashed expenditures--for public pensions, salaries, health care, and education. Slashed education by an incredible amount. So whatever "reforms" are still to be done, the fact is, public expenditures are way way down.

Nothing is going to improve Greece but an economic bounceback. Reforming sectors is not going to make a difference. They need companies to go back into production, but instead, the opposite is happening. There are companies all over Greece shuttering their factories. That is the real problem.

by Upstate NY on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:29:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you're objecting to The Germans don't trust the Greeks to keep any bargain, which is not unreasonable given that the Greeks haven't been willing to enforce past agreements That's fair, I would rather say the Greeks haven't been able to enforce past agreements. But they have tried, and the advertised results haven't obtained because they were, well, impossible.

The troika talk about deregulation like the European Council earlier this week talked about "deepening the single market" as a way out of the crisis: they are true believers of an economic religion and they're not actually thinking about what policy would work or how, they're just going through ritualistic incantations and actions and wondering why they're not rewarded with growth and jobs.

"Reform" is not a smokescreen but a shibboleth.

They have destroyed the Greek economy in order to save it. One can only hope that history will set the record straight, because these people won't be able to see it by themselves.

As to the Greek elites, they're complicit, bot because they share the ideology that "reform" and "austerity" should work but because they agreed to being "rescued" from insolvency two years ago out of a misplaced sense of what "being a good European" means.

Nobody wants to be the ones to go down in history as blowing up the Euro despite the fact that the Euro institutional structures are actually toxic not just in an of themselves but toxic to European democracy.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All I object to is the idea that these are agreements.

I mean, the Greeks agreed to grow their economy by 3%! But they haven't kept their agreement.

It's just improper usage.

by Upstate NY on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 05:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wolfgang Münchau: Achtung! Deutsche Diplomatie! (Spiegel Online)
Das Oxymoron ist eine Sprachfigur, die einen inneren Widerspruch beinhaltet. So wie zum Beispiel "German Diplomacy". Mit dem Spruch bekommen sie in Brüssel oder London jeden Saal zum Lachen. Vor allem aber wird das (Vor-)urteil von den undiplomatischen Deutschen immer wieder durch Anekdoten aus der realen Welt unterfüttert. Etwa den Vorschlag aus Berlin, die griechische Haushaltspolitik einem europäischen Aufseher zu unterwerfen.
Attention! German Diplomacy!
The Oxymoron is a figure of speech containing an internal contradiction. Like for example "German Diplomacy". With that utterance they bring any room in London or Brussel to laughter. Above all, the prejudice of the undiplomatic German is underlined again and again by real-world anecdotes. Such as the proposal from Berlin, to subject Greek budget policies to a European overseer.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 04:31:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:02:46 PM EST
Spain Said to Plan to Buy CoCo Bonds From Banks as Part of Industry Revamp - Bloomberg

Spain will offer to inject funds into lenders that agree to merge as part of the government's plan to overhaul the industry and shepherd weaker banks into tie-ups, said a person familiar with the process.

The state will buy contingent convertible bonds, or CoCos, which convert to equity when banks' capital ratio slips below a certain level, yielding 8 percent, said the person, who declined to be named because the plan hasn't been made public. Spain, which pays about 5 percent to borrow for 10 years, will issue debt to buy the securities, even though the plan will have no impact on the budget deficit, the person said.

Lenders that agree to merge will also have longer to apply new provisioning rules that the government will announce on Feb. 3 as part of the overhaul, the person said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Manufacturing in U.S. Probably Expanded at a Faster Pace - Bloomberg

Manufacturing probably grew at a faster pace in January, a sign the industry will lead the U.S. expansion early this year, economists said before today's report.

The Institute for Supply Management's factory index rose to 54.5, the highest since June, from 53.1 in December, according to the median estimate of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Readings greater than 50 signal growth. Construction spending increased 0.5 percent in December after a 1.2 percent gain, other data may show.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:54:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Manufacturing Output in U.K. Unexpectedly Returns to Growth After Declines - Bloomberg

A U.K. manufacturing index jumped to an eight-month high in January and unexpectedly returned to growth after a quarter of contraction as production rebounded.

The factory gauge, based on a survey by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, rose to 52.1 from a revised 49.7 in December, Markit said in a report on its website today. The median forecast of 28 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a reading of 50, the level that divides expansion from contraction.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:55:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when such things happen, I have a tendency to assume that the government has changed the way it measures

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 03:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China's Manufacturing Industry Holds Up Against Global Slowdown: Economy - Bloomberg

Chinese manufacturing indexes rose in January as the world's second-biggest economy withstood weaker exports driven by Europe's debt crisis and a government-induced property slowdown.

The official purchasing managers' index increased to 50.5 from 50.3 in December, exceeding the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey for a reading below the 50 level that divides expansion from contraction. The data may have been distorted by a weeklong holiday. A separate gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose to 48.8. India's manufacturing grew at the fastest pace in eight months.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We shouldn't ignore all of the very expensive hype around the anticipated Facebook IPO. So, I bring you, courtesy of Jesse, the funnies:


Note: This card can be played by Insiders only. Collect the funds from the players around the table.

and



As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 05:31:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian: IMF official admits austerity is harming Greece
A leading architect of the austerity programme in Greece - one of the harshest ever seen in Europe - has admitted that its emphasis on fiscal consolidation has failed to work, and said economic recovery will only come if the crisis-hit country changes tack and focuses on structural reforms.

Poul Thomsen, a senior International Monetary Fund official who oversees the organisation's mission in Greece, also insists that, contrary to popular belief, Athens has achieved a lot since the eruption of the debt crisis in December 2009.

...

In an extraordinary departure from the script the IMF has followed to date, the Danish official, who is also in charge of the IMF programme in place in Portugal, acknowledged there was a "limit" to what society could endure.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 04:39:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:03:06 PM EST
Scores killed in Egypt football violence - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

At least 73 people have been killed in clashes after a football game in the Egyptian city of Port Said, medics say.

Hundreds of others were injured in Wednesday's violence, including security personnel. At least two players suffered light injuries.

Fans of the winning al-Masry team flooded the field seconds after the match with al-Ahly, Egypt's top team, was over.

A security official said the fans chased the players and cornered their supporters on the field and around the stadium,
throwing stones and bottles at them.

Thousands of supporters covered the field, as seen in a video posted online.

"This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history," Hesham Sheiha, deputy health minister, said.

He said most of the injuries were caused by concussion and deep cuts.

Al-Ahly football players were trapped in the changing room along with supporters. Riot police were sent in to drive the rival crowds of fans back.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt Islamists stop protest against military - Africa - Al Jazeera English
Hundreds of Egyptian protesters, demanding the end of military rule, have been prevented from reaching parliament by backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, which holds the majority in the assembly.

There were 71 people wounded in the clashes on Tuesday between the protesters and Muslim Brotherhood supporters, according to the deputy health ministry.

"We are standing here as a human shield, because if the protesters go any further, they will clash with the police. They want to enter parliament, what do you expect me to do?" Muslim Brotherhood member Hamdy Adbdelsamad told the AFP news agency.

Behind him, anti-military protesters chanted against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that took power when Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising last year.

Activists had called for a march from Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the Egyptian uprising, to parliament to press the newly-elected MPs to implement the goals of the revolution.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:27:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to a fascinating article I read in the MIT Tech review on the use of social media in the Arab revolts, I came across a rather interesting tidbit involving soccer hooligans.  Apparently, various soccer Ultra groups were among the early core of the protest movement.  They were excellent street support for organizing and managing protest groups when confronted by the police, because they were effectively battle-hardened veterans of both street fighting and police violence.
by Zwackus on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 05:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan denies 'intimate' Taliban links - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English
Pakistan has rejected as "frivolous" a leaked NATO report which claims that the country's security services are helping the Taliban, and suggesting that the group believes it is poised to regain power.

The leaking of the report comes as Hina Rabbani Khar, the Pakistan foreign minister, visits Kabul for talks aimed at improving strained relations between the neighbours.

Speaking after talks on Wednesday with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, Khar said: "We can disregard this [report] as a potentially strategic leak ... this is old wine in an even older bottle."

The report, titled State of the Taliban: Detainee Perspectives, is derived from thousands of interrogations and alleges that Pakistan knows the locations of senior Taliban leaders.

It claims that Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency is "intimately involved" in the Taliban's campaign against Afghan forces and its international allies, and that the Taliban assumed their victory would be inevitable once US and multinational forces left the country in 2014.

Khar, whose one-day diplomatic visit was dubbed a "new co-operation phase" by Afghan officials, said: "We have no hidden agenda in Afghanistan.

"These claims have been made many, many times. Pakistan stands behind any initiative that the Afghan government takes for peace".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:27:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rights groups condemn violence in Senegal - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Human-rights groups in Senegal, including the local branch of  the UK-based Amnesty International, have condemned police violence during an opposition rally in which one person was killed.

Officers used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest in the capital, Dakar, on Tuesday night, attended by an estimated 10,000 people in what until now had been one of Africa's most stable countries

Amnesty International and the Senegalese Human Rights League and African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights said in a statement on Wednesday they "vigorously [condemned] deliberate violence perpetrated by police against peaceful, unarmed protesters".

The joint statement, drawing on witness accounts, said live bullets had been fired into the crowd. They also accused police of having "fired tear gas at medical vehicles."

Scores were injured and one man killed when a police lorry drove into the crowd. Police have denied it was their vehicle which killed a 32-year-old man.

The two rights groups called for an independent inquiry into the night's unrest.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:40:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China Looks Both Ways on Iranian Oil - IPS ipsnews.net
LONDON, Feb 1, 2012 (IPS) - China's response to calls from the West to join an oil embargo penalising Iran for its nuclear programme so far has been to choose the middle course typical of its non-interfering foreign policy of the last 30 years - denouncing sanctions on one hand yet working to protect its national interests on many fronts.

But the decision by India, another major buyer of Iran's oil, to continue importing from Tehran despite the Western sanctions, will shine uncomfortable light on the powerful nationalist sentiments among the Chinese public and the internal debate raging in China about the future course of its foreign policy.

As Tehran's largest trading partner and biggest oil customer, China's position is crucial if the West's plan to use oil embargo to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment is to succeed.

When the EU announced a ban last week on the 600,000 barrels a day it imports from Iran beginning Jul. 1, the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. said it "will easily replace European customers." China, which imports about 20 percent of the Iranian oil and is 50 percent dependent on Middle Eastern oil, has been seen as a natural replacement for the loss of EU purchases.

But Beijing is walking a fine line.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:44:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just when you thought the Republican Primary couldn't get any strange, comes this.
As you'll recall, only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are on the Virginia ballot -- denying Gingrich a chance at the state's southern conservative Republicans, voters which he has done well with in the past. What's worse, for Gingrich supporters intent on seeing the fight to the end, Romney can grab a whole bunch of delegates in the commonwealth with very little effort on March 6.

The solution is obvious, though politically tough. The Ortners told me Gingrich needs to get together with Rick Santorum and make a concerted effort to help Paul win. Nevertheless, I hadn't heard it before, so I looked into it Wednesday. Turns out the Ortners aren't the only ones talking about this.

I reached out to a few political observers in Virginia, and they said that the rumor of a Santorum-Gingrich anti-Romney pact is certainly flying around. The idea has been floated on some Paul-supporting websites. Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), a Romney supporter, addressed the rumor on a public radio show Tuesday.

I wonder what Adelson thinks of this....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 06:53:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How is this different from the Colbert Super PAC (under Jon Stewart control) asking people to vote for Cain with an image of Colbert?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 08:54:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The former was parody. The latter is real. Otherwise no difference. (Isn't parody supposed to come after the thing you're parodying?)
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 08:56:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Life imitates art. Parody is dead.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 10:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this how political parties die?

What will replace the Republican party?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 09:09:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:03:34 PM EST
Study may answer longstanding questions about Little Ice Age

A new international study may answer contentious questions about the onset and persistence of Earth's Little Ice Age, a period of widespread cooling that lasted for hundreds of years until the late 19th century.

The study, led by the University of Colorado Boulder with co-authors at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other organizations, suggests that an unusual, 50-year-long episode of four massive tropical volcanic eruptions triggered the Little Ice Age between 1275 and 1300 A.D.

The persistence of cold summers following the eruptions is best explained by a subsequent expansion of sea ice and a related weakening of Atlantic currents, according to computer simulations conducted for the study.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that's not snow: Pesticides coat California's Central Valley | Grist

"See that, see that?! ... Oooh, something is going on. They are spraying tonight." A large cylindrical truck whooshed past us.

I am driving along a state road with Becky, a local activist, who is narrating from behind the wheel. "I once stuck around to see them spray and I had to turn the car around and get out of there, the smell was so overpowering."

We pull over and I hop out to get a close-up look at the orange groves. I am in California's Central Valley, America's fruit basket, where agriculture is king.

Becky Quintana is waiting patiently in the car for me as I crouch down to inspect an orange tree. The leathery green leaves were splashed with white pesticide residue, like a Jackson Pollack canvas would be. It is early December, close to the holidays, one would be forgiven for mistaking the white splotches that covered the trees for Christmas flocking. But it turns out it's like this year round -- the chemical flecks a reminder of the high economic stakes involved in delivering an end product that is shiny, bright, and perfectly spherical.

`There's a lot riding on it." Becky explains. "The fruit pickers bring them to the warehouses where the oranges are washed and waxed to look the way you see them in the supermarket. But most of the time," she nods towards the fields, "they don't come off the tree looking like that."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:08:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bill Gates Warns Climate Change Threatens Food Security, Finds It 'Ironic' People Oppose His 'Solution': Genetic Modification | ThinkProgress

Bill Gates is one very confused billionaire philanthropist.

He understands global warming is a big problem -- indeed, his 2012 Foundation Letter even frets about the  grave threat it poses to food security.  But he just doesn't want to do very much now to stop it from happening (see Pro-geoengineering Bill Gates disses efficiency, "cute" solar, deployment -- still doesn't know how he got rich).

He love technofixes like geoengineering and, as we'll see, genetically modified food.   Rather than investing in cost-effective emissions reduction strategies today or in renewable energy technologies that are rapidly moving down the cost curve, he explains that the reason invests so much in nuclear R&D is "The good news about nuclear is that there has hardly been any innovation."  Seriously!

His Letter includes the ominous chart at the top, and he warns of the dire consequences of climate change:

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as if unleashing windows on the world weren't enough, Bill's Next Big Ideas...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 07:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unleashing Windows was a relatively minor sin. The major sin was destroying almost all of the competition so as to force a crap OS onto the world.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 11:38:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
"The good news about nuclear is that there has hardly been any innovation."

Insert Windows joke here.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 02:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Academics accused of 'exaggeration' in new battle over factory farm antibiotic use - The Ecologist
Debate over role of farm animals in spreading of superbugs intensifies as scientific study downplaying fears is accused of serious flaws

'We infer that the local animal population is unlikely to be the major source of resistance diversity for humans. This suggests that current policy emphasis on restricting antimicrobial use in domestic animals may be overly simplistic.'

It was a bold conclusion that potentially threw a spanner in the works of the medical experts and campaigners pushing for new restrictions on the high-levels of farm antibiotic use in Europe.

Researchers, led by the University of Glasgow, looked at data on antimicrobial resistance in salmonella cases in farm animals and humans in Scotland and concluded that significant differences between the two made it 'unlikely' that local farm animals were the major source of resistance in humans.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a relief. So long as the antibiotic resistent salmonella I die of came from some distant factory farm, I'll be right, I guess.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 04:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Direct from the tobacco and global warming playbook.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 04:47:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not see any disclaimers from any who might have a history of performing research paid for by industry. So I guess that is not an issue --- right?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 11:43:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs show little appetite for new `low-fat' labels | EurActiv

A proposal to give food manufacturers more flexibility to promote their products as low in fat, sugar or salt has been a dealt blow when a parliamentary committee voted to block changes to nutritional labels. The full European Parliament is expected to consider the issue tomorrow (2 February). 

MEPs yesterday (31 January) backed a resolution opposing new labels recommended by the European Commission. The resolution will be considered by the full Parliament after gaining support from a cross-section of political groups in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

The Commission has proposed amending a five-year-old regulation to add new nutritional categories that would allow food companies to claim reformulated foods have a minimum of 15% less fat, sugar or salt than earlier products, and a no-added salt label. An existing "reduced" label must have at least 30% less of an ingredient.

German centre-right MEP Renate Sommer, the parliamentary rapporteur on food labelling, accused the EU executive of trying to water down existing regulations, saying the lower threshold "would mislead consumers and producers would only have used it to boost sales".

"If we continue to rubber-stamp almost any producer claim, there will be ever-more claims and consumers will no longer be able to distinguish between foodstuffs", Sommer (European Peoples' Party) said in a statement after the vote.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So we have salt advertises as "Low Fat!" and lard advertised as "Low Sodium!"

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 11:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention glutamate and hydrogenated palm oil.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 01:11:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
consumers will no longer be able to distinguish between foodstuffs
That's a good basis for regulation: if you can't identify it by looking at it, smelling it, or tasting it, you probably shouldn't be eating it.
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 01:31:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Orszag: Fracking Could Finally Cap Myth of Peak Oil - Bloomberg
The U.S. oil market could be on the verge of its own fracking revolution, similar to what the natural-gas market is already experiencing. As a result, domestic production is now projected to rise significantly over the coming decades, reducing the relative share of imports in U.S. oil consumption.

...John Deutch, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has written that, given the impact on energy markets and therefore geopolitical dynamics, "it is perhaps a permissible exaggeration to claim a natural-gas revolution."

...As the energy analyst Seth Kleinman, a colleague of mine at Citigroup Inc., argues, the price effects of the shift to tight oil "may be more immediate and subtle than the supply-and-demand balances hint at."

The year ahead, he says, "could really see the death of the peak-oil hypothesis, something that has been underpinning a lot of the structural bullishness on oil."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:50:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The U.S. has not produced as much as 6.7 million barrels per day since 1994."

US field production of crude oil was 2.00b barrels of crude oil in 2010, 2.43b in 1994, the local peak was 3.27b in 1985 and the primary peak was 3.52b in 1970. So the expectation is that exploitation of tight oil can lead us to another local peak that is 25% lower than the previous local peak from the Drill Baby Drill days of Reagan.

And still less than half of present day total US field crude oil production and crude oil imports. I presume the "50% liquids" is including ethanol energy translation (its unclear how much of that is energy production) and natural gas liquids.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 04:43:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finland's wind power capacity to be increased by 50 per cent this year

Last year Finland introduced the so-called feed-in tariff, which guarantees the producer of wind power a certain price regardless of the market situation.
      Until 2015 the tariff has been raised from EUR 83.5 to just over EUR 103 per megawatt-hour. The raised tariff is meant to speed up the building of wind power stations.
      Mikkonen of the Finnish Wind Power Association considers the tariff a better solution than the previously-used fixed electricity production support, which was only granted in connection with the investment decision.
      "The feed-in tariff encourages producers to take on large projects, the development of which can often take between three and five years. Now government support is guaranteed. Previously this was not the case."


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 02:16:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So there's now a fairly new Monsanto product (since the patent on Aspartame is running out) called "Neotame" -- magnitudes stronger than Aspartame.  There are a rash of claims on the internet that it can be included in organic foods without labeling being required, see this site.

While the product is apparently more dangerous than aspartame, the suggestion that the additive can appear in organic foods is said to be a hoax, as reported here.

The first link also has a warning for European consumers:

In the EU, Neotame has been approved by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). As is so common in the EU, the product is hidden behind an E-number. So, labels don't have to say that products contain Neotame. They only need to list "E 961". Naturally, with hundreds of E-numbers, how many people can be aware of which ones are truly dangerous?

Draw your own conclusions. I'm one of those persons who process aspartame as formaldehyde and end up with a severe headache if I accidentally ingest any, so I'm glad to know it won't be hidden in organic foods.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 05:32:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that organic certification in the US and in the EU are different... I imagine that the same thing about synthetic additives applies in EU certification, but the article you referenced only covers the US.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 05:39:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monbiot: We cannot wish Britain's nuclear waste away (the Guardian)
There are currently three serious options on the table. The first is to bury it. We get nothing from this except a bloody great hole in the ground and a bill to match. The second is currently the government's favoured option: mixed oxide processing (Mox). This has already proved to be an expensive fiasco. It produces (when it works at all) fuel that hardly anyone wants, at great cost, and more waste plutonium than we possess already. Its contribution to the electricity supply is feeble, raising the energy extracted from nuclear fuel from 0.6% to 0.8%. Even the government admits that "the value of the fuel to reactor operators is significantly less than the cost of its manufacture".

The third option is fast reactors, ideally integral fast reactors. This is the one I favour, and unless you can provide me with a powerful reason why it should not receive serious consideration, it is the option I will continue to promote.

...

So which of these options do you support? None of the above is not an answer. Something has to be done with the waste, and unless you have invented a novel solution, one of these three options will need to be deployed. But it is a choice that opponents of nuclear power are refusing to make - and that is not good enough.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 09:06:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:04:01 PM EST
Radio Static for Ghana's Community Stations - IPS ipsnews.net
ACCRA , Feb 1, 2012 (IPS) - There is a tension resonating through Ghana's airwaves, an electric current fueled by rivaling interests between community radio advocates and Ghana's National Communications Authority.

Recently, community radio supporters rallied through the streets of Accra in what they called a "Voice Walk", which Ghana's National Communications Authority (NCA) described as irresponsible and unexpected.

"Everything we do, we consult them. I don't know what has happened," says Henry Kanor, deputy engineer for the NCA.

This past November, members of the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN) and the Coalition for Transparency of the Airwaves (COTA) demanded that government answer to the limited frequency allocation being given to community radio stations. Across the country, there are 11 community radio stations on air with 14 more waiting to receive their frequency.

"It's just a deliberate refusal to give people a voice," says Wilna Quarmyne, Deputy Executive Director of the GCRN and community radio pioneer in her native Philippines. She believes the NCA is subtly putting up barriers for community radio stations in Ghana and the implications of this are detrimental to the freedom of the press here in this West African nation.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UGANDA: Using Community Radio to Heal After Kony's War - IPS ipsnews.net
GULU, Uganda, Feb 1, 2012 (IPS) - Radio Mega FM's transmission tower rises from the centre of Gulu town, transmitting talk shows and the latest Ugandan radio hits to listeners across the district. But it also serves as something of an informal memorial to community radio-driven peace efforts during the Lord's Resistance Army's destruction of northern Uganda.

The LRA opened its war against the Ugandan government in 1987. In the mid-1990s, the commander of the LRA, Joseph Kony, turned on his own people, the Acholi. His fighters slaughtered thousands of villagers, kidnapped and impressed thousands more children into his army and caused nearly two million people to flee to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.

Acholi leaders and NGO officials, responsible for communicating to a chaotic population where literacy was low and poverty high, needed a way to begin reorganising communities and to talk to the rebels about peace and reconciliation. Community radio stations in Gulu - the heart of Acholiland - became the linchpin of those efforts.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:46:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BALKANS-SOCIETY: First Abused, Then Imprisoned - IPS ipsnews.net
BELGRADE, Jan 31, 2012 (IPS) - The women languishing in Serbia's Pozarevac Penal Correctional Institution are victims twice over: survivors of decades of domestic violence, they have been imprisoned for killing their partners and often spend up to 15 years in jail.

In a rare example of successful cooperation between non-governmental organisations and the Serbian government, a major effort is currently underway to shed light on this unusual phenomenon and for the first time in Serbian history the issue of abused and incarcerated women is nudging its way into public consciousness.

"There was a general (plan) for improving conditions for women in prison but when we realised that one in 10 of the imprisoned were sentenced for killing their partners after years of family violence, we (decided on) broader action that includes support, education and inclusion programmes once they return to society," Vesna Nikolic Ristanovic, director at the victimology society of Serbia (SVD), told IPS.

"The women live with the combined traumatic experiences of (domestic) violence and their crime, carry the stigma once they return to society and face the possibility of either becoming victims or perpetrators again," she added.

Statistics from the SVD track the annual rise of reported family violence, which was 30 percent in 2010 and rose another 30 percent in 2011.

A recent survey conducted by the SVD found that over half the women in Serbia experienced some form of family violence last year, while intimate partner violence resulted in the deaths of 44 women during that same time period.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah...that's tragic. And family violence must be on rise in this time of economic crises that is so deep.
But then again I see a lot of family violence here in Australia , on TV news every single night... very sad...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 08:09:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thousands of Scientists Vow to Boycott Elsevier to Protest Journal Prices - ScienceInsider

A movement to boycott scientific publishing giant Elsevier because of the high price of its journals is rapidly gathering steam. Nine days after it started, more than 2600 scientists--including several Field Medalists--have signed a petition at thecostofknowledge.com in which they pledge not to publish papers in Elsevier's journals, nor referee other researchers' studies, or do other types of editorial work for the company.

The petition, which has created a buzz on researchers' blogs and Twitter, isn't just an attack on Elsevier, its organizers say, but also an attempt to show the scientific community that it can help change the publishing business themselves to increase access to their studies.

The Cost of Knowledge was initiated by Field Medalist and blogger Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who says he has been boycotting Elsevier himself for many years. While he was writing a lengthy blog post on Elsevier's practices on 21 January, he initially thought he'd simply make that policy public. "Only while I was writing did it occur to me that it would be good to have a place where everybody who wanted to could make a similar declaration, so I mentioned that," he says. Tyler Neylon, a blogger and Ph.D. student in math at New York University took Gowers's cue and created the Web site 2 days later.

Many scientists and librarians consider Amsterdam-based Elsevier, which publishes over 2500 journals in all fields of science, one of the villains in the scientific publishing industry; its journals can cost up to $20,000 a year, while the company's profit margin in 2010 was 36%, according to an annual report.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 04:02:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington Post: Romney, citing safety net, says he's `not concerned about the very poor'
"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there," Romney told CNN. "If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling."

Host Soledad O'Brien pointed out that the very poor are probably struggling too.

"The challenge right now -- we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor," Romney responded, after repeating that he would fix any holes in the safety net. "And there's no question it's not good being poor, and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor . . . My focus is on middle-income Americans. . . we have a very ample safety net, and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor."



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2012 at 04:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2012 at 03:04:25 PM EST


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