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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 18 February

by DoDo Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 03:54:43 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1932 - birth of Miloš Forman, Czech and later American film director

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 EUROPE 



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

by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:02 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Germany and Italy 'confident' about Greek bail-out

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Greek premier Lucas Papademos held a joint phone call on Friday (17 February) in which they said they were "confident" a long-postponed deal to help Greece avoid bankruptcy will be sealed off at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Monday, Monti's office said in a statement.

The "detailed" and "constructive" phone call took place after Merkel cancelled her planned visit to Rome Friday following the resignation of the German president.

EU officials in Brussels also said that the "pieces are falling into place" ahead of the Monday meeting, with Germany and its triple A rated allies - Finland, Netherlands and Luxembourg - backing off from the idea of a partial deal to keep pressure on Athens after the elections.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Culture minister quits over Olympia museum burglary - GREECE - FRANCE 24

AFP - Greek Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos resigned Friday after masked armed robbers stole more than 60 ancient objects of "incalculable" value, including a gold ring, from a museum in Olympia.

Sixty-eight objects were whisked from a museum dedicated to the ancient Olympic Games after two masked men immobilised the museum's sole female guard as she arrived for her early morning shift, officials said.

...A ministry unionist said museums nationwide were over 1,500 guards short of a full complement after over two years of layoffs imposed by the government in the entire public sector to address the country's worst debt crisis in decades.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's all going to plan. Cutting down on deadweight civil servants creates new business opportunities.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 04:47:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It worked in Iraq, didn't it?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, they're confident they've got a deal, but we know we'll be here again in  few months. Why can't they instead find a solution to the problem and be confident they've actually ended the crisis?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check my sig line.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:56:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron and Sarkozy agree military deal - Europe - World - The Independent
Britain and France agreed today to accelerate plans to create a joint control and command centre for future military operations.

Prime Minister David Cameron and French president Nicolas Sarkozy want to put in place the rapidly deployable headquarters following joint working in Libya.

At a UK-France summit in Paris today, the two leaders also agreed to push ahead with the next phase of plans to build a new generation of pilotless "fighter drone" aircraft.

They say an EU army headquarters is superfluous because of NATO, but this isn't?...

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

by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just a way for faded 19th century Imperial powers to (expensively) pretend their relevance continues.

imo the increased use and availability of drones is gonna produce blowback well within a decade.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:48:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy brands Socialist rival a 'liar' at campaign rally - FRENCH POLITICS - FRANCE 24

Francois Hollande "lies from morning to night," Sarkozy told cheering supporters at the Alpine town of Annecy, the day after officially declaring his candidacy for the election in 10 weeks.

"When you tell the English press that you are pro-market (economically liberal) and when you come to explain to the French that finance is the enemy, you are lying, you are lying from morning to night!," he said.

The president was referring to an interview in The Guardian published Monday in which the Socialist favourite said he wanted to reassure the City of London that it need not worry about his plans to regulate the financial world.

Hollande said in his first campaign rally late last month that the "enemy" was "the world of finance."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Sun on Sunday to launch soon, says Rupert Murdoch - Press - Media - The Independent
Rupert Murdoch declared his "unwavering support" for the Sun's journalists today and announced he is lifting the suspensions of all arrested staff.

The media mogul also confirmed he will begin publishing the top-selling tabloid seven days a week by launching a new paper called the Sun on Sunday "very soon".

The Sun has been rocked by the arrests of 10 current and former senior reporters and executives since November over alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

Mr Murdoch, who is visiting the headquarters of his British newspapers in Wapping, east London, sought to reassure Sun staff in a memo (click here to read it).



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Dodo's sig line is good enough comment on Murdoch

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:50:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German President Resigns: Search for Wulff's Successor Begins - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The possibilities being discussed include Norbert Lammert, 63, the president of the federal parliament, the Bundestag. But he's angered fellow CDU members with his efforts to reach out to opposition parties. "Lammert will get more votes from the opposition than he'll get from us," a Bundestag coalition member said.

Klaus Töpfer, 73, the former environment minister, was already being discussed for the job in 2010. He's accepted by the opposition Social Democrats and Greens, but disliked by the junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats. They consider Töpfer to be a rosy-eyed environmental activist.

Cabinet members Wolfgang Schäuble, the finance minister and Defense Minister Thomas de Maziere are also being talked about, but are not likely to move into the presidential palace. Both are too valuable to Merkel in their current jobs.

...Finally there's the former head of the east German secret police documents office, Joachim Gauck. He was the SPD-Green candidate in 2010 and enjoys FDP and also widespread public support. But recently Gauck has advocated positions that run counter to the SPD and he will surely not accept an SPD-Green candidacy. However if Merkel asks him to accept the job, he would not refuse. That's at least the impression of people who have spoken to him in recent days.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Businesses reject jobs scheme that's all work and no pay - Home News - UK - The Independent

A scheme under which jobseekers can lose benefits if they do not complete up to 30 hours a week of unpaid "work experience" is in disarray after companies and charities abandoned it in the wake of public anger.

The clothing retailer Matalan suspended its involvement in the Government project pending an internal inquiry after claims that the scheme was exploitative. Tesco delivered an ultimatum to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) demanding that ministers guarantee no one would lose their benefits, while both Oxfam and Shelter added their names to the list of organisations which have left it altogether.

The discount shop 99p Stores said it had also signed up to the scheme but was withdrawing because of the negative publicity, having not yet taken on a single worker through it. Waterstones, Sainsbury's and TK Maxx have also expressed their opposition.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:13:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good. You'd like to think that there would be a way to find socially useful tasks for the unemployed, a hopefully large percentage of which should enable the learning or consolidation of skills to maintain or develop future employability.

But that would probably require management overhead and development money that this government consider beyond their remit.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: Greek default does NOT equal Greek exit
The Greek state, let me remind you, is quite close to a primary surplus. With judicious top-down reductions wages and pensions, plus the issue of tax-bonds, the Greek public sector could finance itself for the foreseeable future. All that is needed is that the ECB continues to provide liquidity to the Greek banks. Some say that it cannot do this because it won't be able to accept Greek government bonds as collateral (since the Greek state will have defaulted). True but irrelevant: Greek banks have already posted whatever government bonds they owned with the ECB for collateral. That creek has dried. Nowadays they are posting domestic mortgages and other such paper titles (which are, by the way, no worse in quality to those posted by Italian and Spanish banks). All that it would take to allow Greece to stay in the eurozone, in a better state than it is today (and less austerity for that matter), is the continuation of the present ECB policy toward Greek banks. As for those who argue that the ECB will take an aggressive stance, think again: the ECB will not knowingly take steps which will destroy the eurozone.

Naturally, while a defaulted Greece can easily (and optimally, under the present constraints) remain in the eurozone, a long term resolution of its insolvency will have to be plotted by Europe. But is that not the case anyway? Is it not time that Europe deals with the various insolvencies in its midst, rather than continue to push their under the carpet (like a spolit 5-year old)?

To conclude, Europe's optimal strategy is to let Greece default, to allow the Greek government to find ways to live within its tax take for the next year or so and, at the same time, work out the Overall Solution to the euro crisis that was promised last year and never delivered. A Greek default will provide the clarity and the time-space to do this properly. The other two alternatives (more bailouts or a Greek exit) constitute cruel, unnecessary and unusual punishment. For the whole of Europe.



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 Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:00:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My comment to YV:
When you state:
All that is needed is that the ECB continues to provide liquidity to the Greek banks. Some say that it cannot do this because it won't be able to accept Greek government bonds as collateral (since the Greek state will have defaulted). True but irrelevant: Greek banks have already posted whatever government bonds they owned with the ECB for collateral.
Have you considered the effect of margin calls? From the ECB's `General Documentation' (see http://www.ecb.int/paym/coll/html/index.en.html ), under `risk management measures':
The Eurosystem requires the haircut-adjusted market value of the underlying assets used in its liquidity- providing reverse transactions to be maintained over time. This implies that if the value, measured on a regular basis, of the underlying assets falls below a certain level, the NCB will require the counterparty to supply additional assets or cash (i.e. it will make a margin call).
A Greek bond default may still break the back of Greek banks through the requirement to post massive amounts of additional collateral.


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 Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:23:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't the big problem that the ECB isn't interested in providing liquidity on any scale (even a small scale) when faced with a market that is panicking?

(As such YV is just dreaming, sadly, even before your point comes up...)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:35:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
YV argues that the ECB's own existence is at stake, because without a Eurozone there isn't an ECB.

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 Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:41:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I normally believe that such personal incentives make a difference, so I suppose I must at least partly concede the point.

However, most of the ECB staff have home central banks to go to when the Euro and the ECB die.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:54:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:58:12 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Defence / EU firms join gold rush on drones

BRUSSELS - EU firms have joined the gold rush on military and civilian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But ethical and legal questions dog the technology.

The global UAV market is worth $6 billion (€4.6bn) a year and will hit $12 billion by 2018, according to US forecaster Teal Group.

It is not a real market. Currently, military-industrial complexes in China, Israel, the EU, Russia and the US make drones for their armed forces and sell them to close allies only. Almost half the spending is government research.

But with big money at stake, some analysts predict rapid proliferation.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:58:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all because drones are cheaper and more efficient than 1950s-era spy planes.

Not.

The fleet of 33 spycraft was supposed to be replaced in the next few years with RQ-4 Global Hawks, the high-tech drones that have been part of the Air Force since 2001. But this week the Pentagon proposed delaying the U-2's retirement as part of Defense Department cutbacks.

At an estimated cost of $176 million each, the Global Hawk drone had "priced itself out of the niche, in terms of taking pictures in the air," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at a Thursday news conference. "That's a disappointment for us, but that's the fate of things that become too expensive in a resource-constrained environment."

The Pentagon has determined that operating the U-2 would be cheaper for the foreseeable future; it won't disclose how much operating the U-2s will cost for security reasons. The government has relied on the U-2 since 1955, when the aircraft was first built and designed under tight security by Lockheed Corp. at its famed Skunk Works facilities in Burbank headed by legendary chief engineer Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/28/business/la-fi-0128-u2-spy-plane-20120128

by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 08:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and if they are shot down, you aren't as a politician going to be faced with desperate tear stained photoshoots with relatives of the dead or captured at the time of your next election.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that is true. And if they were being used against someone with effective anti-aircraft missiles, that would be a problem.

But when the people you're spying on are civilians or are armed only with light weapons, 1955 airplane technology works just fine. In fact, they probably could get away with 1935 airplane technology...

by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but where UAVs can shine is in low-and-slow tactical surveillance and security/law enforcement applications.

Think border security. And demonstrations.


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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Capturing the European Central Bank - Opinion - Joseph Stiglitz - Al Jazeera English

New York, NY - Nothing illustrates better the political crosscurrents, special interests and shortsighted economics now at play in Europe than the debate over the restructuring of Greece's sovereign debt. Germany insists on a deep restructuring - at least a 50 per cent "haircut" for bondholders - whereas the European Central Bank (ECB) insists that any debt restructuring must be voluntary.

...The ECB's stance is peculiar...

There are three explanations for the ECB's position, none of which speaks well for the institution and its regulatory and supervisory conduct. The first explanation is that the banks have not, in fact, bought insurance, and some have taken speculative positions. The second is that the ECB knows that the financial system lacks transparency - and knows that investors know that they cannot gauge the impact of an involuntary default, which could cause credit markets to freeze, reprising the aftermath of Lehman Brothers' collapse in September 2008. Finally, the ECB may be trying to protect the few banks that have written the insurance.

None of these explanations is an adequate excuse for the ECB's opposition to deep involuntary restructuring of Greece's debt. The ECB should have insisted on more transparency - indeed, that should have been one of the main lessons of 2008. Regulators should not have allowed the banks to speculate as they did; if anything, they should have required them to buy insurance - and then insisted on restructuring in a way that ensured that the insurance paid off.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 03:04:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:58:38 PM EST
Syrian forces pound Homs after UN condemnation - SYRIA - FRANCE 24

AFP - Syrian forces unleashed their heaviest pounding of Homs in two weeks on Friday, activists said after the UN General Assembly backed an Arab initiative calling on President Bashar al-Assad to stand down.

Rockets crashed into Khaldiyeh and Bayyada, centres of resistance in the central protest hub, at the rate of four a minute, according to an opposition activist inside the beleaguered city.

...The latest bombardment comes after the UN General Assembly on Thursday demanded an immediate halt to Syria's brutal crackdown on dissent, which human rights groups say has cost more than 6,000 lives in the past 11 months.

...The resolution calls on Damascus "to stop all violence or reprisals immediately, in accordance with the League of Arab States initiative."

It was referring to a peace plan put forward by the pan-Arab bloc calling on Assad to hand power over to his deputy and for the formation of a unity government ahead of elections.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO urges regional solution to Syria crisis - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

NATO has said it will not intervene in Syria despite reports of escalating violence in parts of the country and the adoption of a UN resolution condemning human-rights violations by the government.

In the capital, Damascus, gunfire and loud explosions were heard on Friday while the bombardment of Homs by security forces entered a 13th day. Activist groups said tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets after the main weekly Muslim prayers, from Deraa in the south to Aleppo and Idlib in the north and Deir el-Zour in the east to areas around the capital, Damascus.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, an umbrella organisation of opposition groups, said security forces opened fire on some protests, which came in response to a call by internet-based activists for a rally for a "new phase of popular resistance".

They turned out after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly backed an Arab League initiative calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, and shortly before a visit by a Chinese diplomatic envoy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:59:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suicide bomb kills dozens in Shiite area of north-west Pakistan - PAKISTAN - FRANCE 24
A suicide bomber on a motorbike targeted a market in a Shiite area of Parachinar in north-west Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 26 people. Parachinar has been the site of sectarian violence between the majority Sunni and Shiite populations.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:58:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bahrain: Audacity of hope - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

In mid February 2011, pro-democracy activists in the Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets of the capital Manama in an attempt to win the kind of dramatic results achieved by their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia. At first the demands of this predominantly Shia-led group were for constitutional reform and a reduction of the powers of King Hamad and the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty. But opinion soon hardened into calls for the end of the monarchy when seven demonstrators were killed during a police action at Manama's Pearl Roundabout.

After a month of continued protests, Bahrain's government invited some 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to enter the country in support of local security forces before imposing martial law and instituting a fierce crackdown. Hundreds of activists were arrested; many were beaten and tortured in detention. Medical staff at the island's main Salmaniyya Hospital, where many injured protestors were treated and where demonstrators gathered after Peal Roundabout was cleared, were also targeted for arrests - and many of them subsequently received long prison sentences for their alleged complicity in plots to overthrow the government. 

In November last year, the government was forced to acknowledge that its security forces had used unnecessary force against mostly unarmed civilians. A commission of inquiry, established by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, but led by respected international human rights lawyer Cherif Bassiouini, reported in November and documented widespread abuses by the security services - routine torture, arbitrary arrests, detainees held incommunicado for weeks, unfair trials and people dismissed from their jobs without cause. Since then a further commission has been set up to institute some of the inquiry's recommendations - though critics say that so far little has been achieved.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan to Provide No Support to U.S. in Attack on Iran - Zardari | World | RIA Novosti

Pakistan will not provide any support to U.S. forces if the United States attacks Iran, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in Islamabad at a press conference with the presidents of Afghanistan and Iran following a trilateral summit on Friday.

Pakistan and Iran "need each other and no foreign pressure should hinder their ties," Zardari said.

According to the Afghan news agency Pazhvak, referring to the proposed Iran-Pakistan gas project, Zardari made it clear that Islamabad will not tolerate Washington's stance and the United States is "not to tell Pakistan who it can and cannot trade with."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 03:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:59:07 PM EST
Leaked Heartland Institute documents pull back curtain on climate scepticism | Leo Hickman | Environment | guardian.co.uk

The Heartland Institute, an influential rightwing thinktank based in Chicago, which has long pushed misinformation about climate change, is currently having its own Wizard of Oz moment following the leaking of internal documents which reveal the true extent of its funding and efforts to cast doubt on climate science.

The Register - a website well known for promoting climate scepticism - is describing the leak as "at least as good as the 'Climategate' e-mails". This refers, of course, to the dumping online in 2009 of thousands of private emails exchanged between climate scientists over the previous decade.

...The document entitled "2012 Climate Strategy" (pdf) is also already getting lots of attention. It shows that Heartland will "increase climate project fundraising" by "pursuing additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation" who "returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000". It adds: "Other contributions will be pursued for this [climate] work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies." ...

Perhaps more unsettling is the document's revelation that Heartland is actively developing a "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms":

...His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science...

Dissuading teachers from teaching science – where have we heard that before? Creationists, of course.

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

by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:59:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Franco-British summit yields nuclear power deal - ENERGY - FRANCE 24
AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron put recent disputes behind them Friday to unveil a nuclear power deal and renew their own sometimes shaky political alliance.

...Cameron said the British engineering firm Rolls-Royce will secure a £400 million (481 million euro, $632 million) share in the work to build Britain's first French-pioneered EPR reactor at Hinkley Point in southern England.

Other British firms will sign deals worth a total of £115 million with France's state-owned energy giant EDF as part of the Hinkley project.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 01:59:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear industry seen emerging from Fukushima shock | EurActiv

The comeback of nuclear energy and fossil fuels as well as hard times for solar energy and technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) were the highlights of a conference organised by the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) which took place yesterday in Brussels (16 February) [more about the event].

Philip Lowe, European Commission Director General for Energy, said the Fukushima nuclear disaster had in fact led to "significant decisions" only in one country, Germany.

Read, on; Mr. Director General for Energy doesn't even pretend to be impartial, and even lies (for example when claiming that Germany turned a net importer, although it remained a net exporter). Meanwhile, back in the real world, in Germany, the federal grid agency just sent a warning to 900 electricity traders in which it accused the traders of Enron-style specualtive tricks which, by holding back capacity, brought the system on the verge of blackouts in early February.

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

by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:00:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just so there will be no question in the dismal future, the electrical engineering community has pointed out quite clearly that this is a bad idea.

In a massive geomagnetic storm that could trigger a long-term power outage across large portions of the globe, the world's 400-some nuclear plants would be particularly vulnerable to catastrophic failure, for two reasons.


http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/the-smarter-grid/a-perfect-storm-of-planetary-proportions/0/hundreds -of-fukushimas

This is one of the most certain-to-happen of the various catastrophes that will occur within the next few decades. I'm not sure how to prioritize it compared to climate change, bird flu, massive socio-economic dislocation, etc., but this one is particularly frustrating because the technical experts say that the scenario WILL HAPPEN, and that there is a KNOWN WAY TO PREVENT IT, but there is no social support for doing anything about it.

by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:09:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We really should have a diary on this subject, to examine the portential effects, and whatever mitigations are available. Otherwise it's really chaos isn't it.

Imagine if the grid went down for weeks during the cold snap, as a starting point. Even onshore wind wouldn't help much if half the transformers are knocked out.

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

by Crazy Horse on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I echo Crazy Horse: diary!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:33:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If i've richtig understood the potential of the sun's terrorist attack on the magnetosphere, we're basically talking global martial law, in a field of total chaotic breakdown.

forget about internet and street lights, such an event means water pumps don't pump. 200 core melts are the least of the immediate problems.

i keep coming back to a discussion that gets no props, that this civilization is not prepared to accept the results of its lack of understanding of life and the sustainable connections.

Just so one understands, the backlog on various sized transformers is currently 9 months +/-. That means when grids are destroyed, not much could be replaced before hundreds of millions of people die, because hundreds of millions of poisoned food animals would already be dead because factory farms wouldn't be able to keep them alive. Not to mention the Tankstelle would be closed.

and i probably wouldn't be able to communicate with you even on Open Thread.

Afterwards, in their last moments. most people would have come to the realization that we did something wrong, but couldn't quite get a handle on what.

An unfinished script of mine begins with a lone Mohawk paddling his canoe down the Hudson river, between flooded people-less skyscrapers.

So yeah, i think we should have a diary.

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

by Crazy Horse on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps i meant to say everything is completely normal until it happens, and then there will not be a normal for a very long time.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:26:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar energy increasingly competitive | Environment | DW.DE | 15.02.2012
For many years solar energy was only profitable because of state subsidies. But photovoltaic cell prices recently dropped significantly, making solar energy as cheap as standard electricity.

...Such rapid development on the solar energy market has even surprised analysts. Thanks to the price drop for photovoltaic cells, private solar parks in Germany now offer cheaper power for the consumer than traditional energy providers. Even when taking into account the initial investment, one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity costs 0.24 euros ($0.31). Electricity from a traditional provider costs about four percent more...

...Solar energy's newfound competitiveness is best shown by a case study from the Atacama desert in Chile where operators have set up a major solar farm without any government assistance. The plant is meant to provide power for a copper mine. According to the magazine "Photon," each kWh of solar electricity produced on site costs less than 0.10 euros.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:00:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, your "conventional" supplies are expensive. Here, we have essentially free coal AND gas. And gas is going down in price, not up.

For the second time in 2012, Gulf Power Company customers will see a decrease in their electricity bills...largely because of lower natural gas prices. Natural gas is used to produce about 50 percent of the electricity Gulf Power sells.

With this second price decrease in 2012, the electricity bill for a residential customer buying 1,000 kilowatt-hours decreases to $122.46

http://www.thedestinlog.com/articles/gulf-20843-power-decrease.html

$0.122 per kWh is something like €0.093 for RESIDENTIAL users...

An era of cheap natural gas may also pose a challenge to state efforts to boost wind, solar and nuclear power, since natural gas is relatively clean burning for a fossil fuel. As a recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology put it, "Gas-fired power sets a competitive benchmark against which other technologies must compete in a lower carbon environment."

http://www.texasinsider.org/?p=58655
by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:25:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, California or Texas have much more sunshine than Germany, putting the photovoltaic electricity price per kWh closer to that of the Atacama desert plant.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:37:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cleaning Up the Cosmos: Swiss Develop Satellite to Dispose of Space Junk - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
...On Wednesday, researchers at the Swiss Space Center, based at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), presented their plans for "CleanSpace One." They envisage a launch of their clean-up mission within the next three to five years, with the aim of taking out a recently-discarded satellite. If it proves successful, further space cleanup jobs could follow.

...The proposed cosmic disposal service will be only slightly larger than the flying objects it targets for destruction. While traveling at 28,000 kilometers per hour (17,400 mph), it will approach and catch its target using a technique reminiscent of the one that sea anemones use to catch their prey. "It sticks out its feelers and pulls its prey to its chest at the right moment," Gass explains. Once that is done, the dance becomes deadly: The conjoined satellites race toward Earth together and burn up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:00:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, they crash into each other and quadruple the debris...
by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:26:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed the main problem are the tens to hundreds of thousands of centimetre to metre-sized pieces, not intact satellites or rocket stages.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:38:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that a net of some sort could catch all of this stuff
by paving on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 03:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that the pieces move at a multiple of the speed of bullets, and that not in the same direction.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 06:12:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In orbits don't everything travel at the same speed?  I guess there could be different angle orbits though.
by njh on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 01:13:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Only geostationary satellites prefer the equatorial plane, but most of the space debris is in lower orbits, including all the junk left behind when final rocket stages separate, and all the space station and manned space travel junk.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:01:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And on top of what DoDo said, you have different eccentricities as well, so the stuff you encounter at a certain altitude will have a spectrum of speeds (as well as wildly differing directions).

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the lowest orbit the relative speed range due to eccentricity alone is given by the difference of escape velocity and circular orbital speed, or in percentage terms from the viewpoint of a satellite on circular orbit, sqrt(2)-1 = 41.4%. The relative speed range due to inclination is greater, especially if we consider retrograde satellites. Combining the two effects, theoretically you can reach collision speeds of 20 km/s... (bullet speed is in the 1 km/s range.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:57:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:01:06 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Creative Industries / EU court rules social networks cannot police downloads

BRUSSELS - The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has struck the latest blow in the debate over internet policing, ruling on Thursday (16 February) that online social network sites cannot be forced to construct measures to prevent users from downloading songs illegally.

The court, which is the highest judicial authority in the EU, stated that installing general filters would infringe on the freedom to conduct business and on data privacy.

In a press statement accompanying its judgement, the court stated that forcing sites to police their network for illegal downloads "would not be respecting the prohibition to impose on that provider a general obligation to monitor nor the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the protection of copyright, on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Faith groups warned they 'must abide by laws' - Home News - UK - The Independent
Christians who think they should be exempt from equality legislation are like Muslims trying to impose sharia law on Britain, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said.

Trevor Phillips said faith groups that provide a public service must abide by the law.

Speaking at a debate in London on diverse societies last Wednesday, Mr Phillips singled out Christian adoption agencies that fought legal battles against rules requiring them to treat gay and straight people equally.

"You can't say because we decide we're different then we need a different set of laws," he said.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:01:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These agencies need to call up the U.S. Air Force Academy to get pointers on how to evangelize effectively.

Although the AFA methods may now be backfiring on them, as the Academy is in the news again today because the evangelical Christians who run the place got caught lying to the college accreditation board about the qualifications of their instructors...

An Air Force Inspector General's investigation has found that two top Air Force Academy officials were negligent in statements they made about the academic credentials of military faculty at the Academy...were both found to be negligent in making absolute statements to the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools... The commission is a higher education accrediting body.

The complaint that triggered the investigation alleges that about 60 percent of academy cadets who took introductory calculus classes between 1996 and 2006 were taught by instructors who did not have master's degrees in mathematics, statistics or mathematics education.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2012/02/air-force-academy-officials-negligent-on-faculty-remarks-0 21712/

The whistle-blower in this case is a (qualified) professor who was kicked out of the Academy for not cooperating with the Christian curriculum and who then went crying to the local troublemakers who are trying to bring the AFA into compliance with legal requirements.

It has come to our attention that, contrary to the sworn testimony of Brig. General Born, she directed, in writing, at least one subordinate, Col. Thomas A. Drohan, Permanent Professor and Head of the Department of Military Strategic Studies, to conduct a counterinsurgency campaign against MRFF [Military Religious Freedom Foundation] and presumably, MRFF clients at the USAFA. We understand that at the direction of Brig. General Born, Col. Drohan's mid-term performance appraisal specified that he was to conduct a "COIN" against MRFF and its clients. In this context "COIN" is shorthand reference to counterinsurgency.

http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2012/02/02/academy-accused-of-targeting-religious-group

Locally, it is turning into an "officers versus enlisted" argument and an "Army versus Air Force" argument. We've got lots of people in all four camps, plus even a few people (you can count them on the fingers of one hand) who were never in the military.

by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:42:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Google cookies 'bypassed Safari privacy protection'

Google has been accused of bypassing the privacy settings of users of the Safari web-browser.

The Wall Street Journal said Google and other companies had worked around privacy settings designed to restrict cookies.

Cookies are small text files stored by browsers which can record information about online activity, and help some online services work.

However Google says the story "mischaracterises" what happened.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 03:18:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, the other two big search engines, Bing and Yahoo, have at least until recently given much less useful results.

Although I've noticed in the past few weeks though that Google seems to have changed its algorithms to allow more invisibly-promoted results. It seems just a bit strange to get a half dozen front-page hits on one commercial site when you are looking for something that should be coming up with academic papers...maybe I will try Bing again for a few days...

by asdf on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:45:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Google search results have changed significantly over the past year.  I find it less useful and have been migrating elsewhere more frequently.
by paving on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 03:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:01:42 PM EST
American reporter Anthony Shadid dies in Syria - Middle East - World - The Independent
New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, has died in eastern Syria after slipping into the country to report on the uprising against its president.

Mr Shadid, 43, shot in the West Bank in 2002 and kidnapped for six days in Libya last year, apparently died of an asthma attack, the Times said. Times photographer Tyler Hicks was with him and carried his body to Turkey, the newspaper said.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:01:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another actor with the great Will Sampson, one of the first great Native roles.



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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 04:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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