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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 22 February

by afew Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:12:53 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


European sheep on this date in history:

1997 – In Roslin, Scotland, scientists announce that an adult sheep named Dolly has been successfully cloned.

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:48:09 PM EST
Ministers debate new EU powers over national budgets | EurActiv

The EU's 27 finance ministers will be debating new transfers of power to the European Commission when they meet on Tuesday (21 February), as they examine proposals to tighten control over member states' budgets in the wake of the eurozone's debt crisis.

Finance ministers will for the first time debate the so-called 'Two-Pack' of draft EU rules that would give Brussels sweeping new powers to scrutinise national budgets.

Under proposal tabled in November, the European Commission would be able to "administer" countries that have sought international financial assistance to keep them from bankruptcy.

If the two bills were in force today, such an "enhanced surveillance" programme would apply to Greece, Ireland, and Portugal - the three countries currently receiving an EU/IMF bailout. In fact they already do, say EU sources, and the new laws will only codify existing practice.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:16:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US lobbying waters down EU data protection reform | EurActiv

The reform of EU data protection rules is of particular interest to countries like the United States, whose companies may have to abide by stricter provisions to do business in Europe. But intense lobbying from the United States has in part watered down the draft legislation.

The overhaul of data protection rules proposed by Viviane Reding, the European Commission vice president in charge of fundamental rights, was substantially modified before it was published, following a heated debate within the EU executive. 

Some of the planned provisions raised many objections by the most business-minded commissioners, including Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Karel de Gucht (Trade).

Many lobbies tried to soften the rules concerning the newly introduced 'right to be forgotten,' enabling users to delete personal information that they no longer want to share with banks, online booking websites or social media. 

They also put their finger on the obligation to provide notification of data breaches and to obtain explicit consent to use personal data, as well as provisions related to the transfer of personal information to third countries.

As a consequence of this pressure, the text proposed by the Commission was significantly amended, before it even reached the European Parliament and the EU Council for consideration.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:18:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Foreign Affairs / EU sanctions not as tough as they sound

BRUSSELS - The EU is to add some 25 names to its Syria sanctions list and up to 135 to its Belarus register later this month. But being under an EU ban is not as categorical as it sounds.

When ministers on 27 February announce the measures, they will say the mixed bag of regime officials, companies and tycoons can no longer get EU visas or do business in the Union and that any financial assets in EU countries have been frozen.

The visa ban is rigidly enforced, unless you are travelling to an international meeting, as with Belarus interior minister, Anatoly Kulyashou, who went to an Interpol event in France in January, or unless you need specialist healthcare.

Enforcement is more fuzzy on the corporate and asset-freeze side, however.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:20:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Spain protest over riot police beatings in Valencia

Thousands of people have demonstrated in the Spanish city of Valencia after police were accused of using violence at a protest the night before.

A student demonstration against budget cuts ended in clashes, several injuries and the arrest of 25 protesters.

The students complain that reduced spending has left classrooms unheated.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz has indicated that "some excesses" were carried out by police and PM Mariano Rajoy has appealed for calm.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:22:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz has indicated that "some excesses" were carried out by police

And the Police union has called the minister "cowardly" for saying this and "discharging responsibility on the police".

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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ElPais.com in English: Thousands take to Valencia streets in protest against police violence and education cuts
"Our weapons are our books," said the students in Valencia. Parents, teachers and other adults joined them in what was the biggest gathering since last Wednesday's demonstration, called to protest the regional cuts in education, which have left many classrooms without heating.

...

Regional officials, including the government's delegate in Valencia, Paula Sánchez de León, appeared to have backed down from the hardline stance taken against the students over the past few days. The Interior Ministry ordered the police to use restraint after receiving an avalanche of complaints from parents who said that there was an excessive use of force by the police, after they saw their children on television beaten, thrown around and pinned down. The students began protesting the cutbacks last Wednesday in a demonstration in front of the school, which ended with the arrest of 10 students.

...

Nevertheless, representatives of the police union SUP called the interior minister's statements "political and personal cowardliness" for blaming law enforcement for the violence. SUP said that it was Sánchez de León and police chief Antonio Moreno who gave the orders to move in on the demonstrators, and said that they had both "committed a serious error" in judgment. The images captured on video of police roughing up students flashed across television screens around the world.



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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:49:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Countries rally against EU carbon tax on airlines

Delegates from 26 countries opposed to a new EU carbon tax on airlines are meeting in Moscow to consider possible retaliation, amid fears of a trade war.

China, India, Russia and the US are among the countries opposed to the EU fee, which took effect on 1 January.

Critics say the EU has no right to impose taxes on flights to or from destinations outside Europe.

But in December the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU tax on CO2 pollution from aircraft was legal.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:23:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany should be happy to let Greece go | The Great Debate UK

When the Greek crisis began, there was much talk of contagion as the greatest short-term risk. In my view, this worry is almost irrelevant because bondholders are in any case facing a haircut of over 70%, so the question of default or bailout is now merely a technical detail.

From a longer term perspective, there is also little reason for the Germans to panic over a Greek default, even if it ultimately leads to the disintegration of the euro zone. The line peddled by a number of commentators and politicians that Germany has "done very well out of the euro zone" begs the question of how well it would have done without the euro zone, a question to which I do not know the answer - but nor does anyone else.

The implicit or explicit claim is that, with floating exchange rates, German trade would have suffered as the DM appreciated against the currencies of its neighbours. This is nonsense, a case of how, in the world of popular economics - what one colleague famously called D-I-Y economics - exchange rates occupy a position of exaggerated importance (If those who study the subject were given the same importance, I'd have had a peerage by now).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:12:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia `Faces Orange Revolution Threat' After Polls | Russia | RIA Novosti

The leaders of recent "For Fair Elections" protests in Russia are foreign-backed revolutionaries seeking to emulate the so-called color uprisings that rocked former Soviet republics in the 2000s, the organizer of an upcoming Anti-Orange rally said on Tuesday.

"They don't need honest elections any longer and will not recognize the results of the March 4 presidential polls in any case," rally organizer and TV anchor Sergei Kurginyan told a news conference. "They are threatening to bring thousands of people out on to the streets and paralyze Moscow."

Kurginyan has gained prominence of late as a conservative figurehead and was one of the main speakers at a January 4 mass rally in Moscow by supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"But this is just the beginning," he went on. "They already say if you don't want an Orange Revolution, then you'll get a bloody one."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Paving the way for a quiet Greek exit
On the day when the deal was struck, Greece is revising its deficit forecast for this year down from 5.4% to 6.7% this year; Anders Borg says that the goal of the agreement has been not to solve the Greek problem, but to isolate the eurozone from it; Gregorz Kolodko, former Polish deputy finance minister, says the eurozone is heading into a slowly unfolding catastrophe; Antonis Samaras says Greece will miss all the targets without growth (and there won't be growth for a long time); the head of the Greek commerce federation says the country will be stuck in recession for a long time;the details of the 30-year swap bond came out yesterday; the Greek parliament is now about to introduce a CAC with a two-thirds threshold; some analysts are still concerned about an execution risk of the agreement; CDS are likely to be triggered; Le Monde says that confidence between northern and southern Europe has broken down; Holger Steltzner says a third Greek loan programme is now likely, or else Greece will have to exit the eurozone; a poll among readers of Le Figaro shows a large majority believe that Greece will not stick to its promises; a Greek consumer organisation has called for a boycott of German and Dutch products; Mariano Rajoy plans to go to Brussels to renegotiate the country's 2012 deficit target; Portugal's January deficit was down; the French parliament approved the ESM, with the Socialists abstaining; George Magnus, meanwhile, said that a victory by Francois Hollande would lead to a fracture in the European consensus on austerity.
See yesterday.

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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:09:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Linke denkt über Klarsfeld als Gauck-Gegnerin nach | SZ
In der Linkspartei wird erwogen, bei der Wahl des Bundespräsidenten die deutsch-französische Journalistin Beate Klarsfeld gegen Joachim Gauck antreten zu lassen. Eine solche Kandidatur habe "viel für sich", hieß es am Mittwoch aus der Bundestagsfraktion.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:09:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:48:33 PM EST
CPRBlog: The Economist Recycles Old Right-Wing Ideas to Gut Public Protections

The Economist's February 18 edition offers a cover package of five articles on "Over-regulated America" (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Our British friends want you to know there's a problem here in the States that needs fixing:

A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. It's a wonder the jobless rate isn't even higher than it is.

You can almost feel The Economist's pain: the jobless rate should be a lot higher than it is, if the premise about the costs of regulations is correct. Surely if the regulatory burden were actually 12 percent of GDP - that's what the SBA numbers say, if you draw them out - things would be far worse than they are. Ideologically unable to consider the obvious alternative - that regulations don't add $10,585 in costs per employee, The Economist, just, well, "wonders" aloud.

Here's what The Economist would have found if they'd dug just a little bit:  Fully 70 percent of the SBA estimate was actually based on a regression analysis using opinion polling data on perceived regulatory climate across countries (in a strange twist, a separate article in the same issue actually questions the study, briefly). Whole reports have been written on why that number is bogus.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:56:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but haters gotta hate. It's what they do

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:01:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Margins Widen at U.S. Companies as Wage Growth Lags Behind Prices: Economy - Bloomberg

Companies are improving margins and generating profits as wage growth for the American worker lags behind the prices of goods and services.

The year-over-year change in the so-called core consumer price index, which excludes volatile food and fuel, has outpaced hourly earnings for the last four months. In January, average hourly earnings climbed 1.5 percent from a year earlier, while core inflation was up 2.3 percent.

"A lot of the outperformance of profits has been due to the fact that margins are expanding," said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. "Firms have been able to keep prices intact even though labor costs have been declining."

While benefiting the bottom line for businesses, the decline in inflation-adjusted wages bodes ill for the sustainability of economic growth as consumers may eventually be forced to cut back, Feroli said. Businesses have also been slow to redeploy their profits into new hiring.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:25:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the difference between individual capitalist mythology (screw the workers) and society capitalist reality (workers spend money to keep the economy going) grows ever wider

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:03:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nordic Currencies Stung in Crisis - Bloomberg

Sweden and Norway are losing their appeal as havens from Europe's debt crisis at a time when the krona and krone are more overvalued than at almost any point in the past 40 years.

Sweden's central bank cut interest rates for a second- straight meeting on Feb. 16 after exports, accounting for about half of the nation's output, fell 6 percent in December. Norway's foreign trade slid 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter. The Swedish krona is about 25 percent too expensive, and the Norwegian krone more than 40 percent based on an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development measure of the relative costs of goods and services.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:27:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Norwegian crown hasn't changed value significantly against the dollar in the more than 7 years I've been living in Norway.
Above is an article from proclaiming that Greece and the weaker economies of Europe leaving the Euro and using their own floating currencies would have no effect on competitiveness or on Germany's exports, and here we have another projection of crisis in an apparently thriving economy based on the anticipated lack of competitiveness because of an overvaluation that seems to be reasonably content where it is.
The message in both articles seems to boil down to workers making too damn much money in both Norway and Greece... or perhaps that workers make too damn much money everywhere.
by Andhakari on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:01:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Insight: ECB preparing to close liquidity floodgates | Reuters

(Reuters) - The European Central Bank wants its second offer of cheap ultra-long funds next week to be its last, putting the onus back on governments to secure the euro zone's longer-term future.

Powerful members of the central bank's 23-man governing council are privately hoping demand at the February 29 auction will fall well short of the 1 trillion euros some expect, backing their view that it should be the last.

Central bank sources say they are worried that banks will become too reliant on ECB funds, removing the incentive to restart lending between themselves.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Central bank sources say they are worried that banks will become too reliant on ECB funds, removing the incentive to restart lending between themselves.

But it would not do to apply some transparency and mark all assets to market, oh no! Failure to deal with the reason they won't borrow from each other is too much to ask. When the truth is too painful the CBs just babble nonsense and most don't notice.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:34:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem seems to be that ECB is not the banking regulator, just the monetary authority.

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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:16:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but what is the Fed's excuse?

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 22nd, 2012 at 08:58:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Progress in the US on the housing problem:  (H/T Jesse)

So recovery is on the way? Prepare for increased babble from the Fed, etc.

I have first hand experience of the California housing bubble which burst in 89-90. Fortunately I had not bought a house in '88 or 89. So glad I sold in Nov. '05. We might be at the bottom now - or not.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:46:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And note that there has been about a third of the USA that was not significantly affected by declining real estate prices, so the impact where prices did decline was proportionately greater.

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 22nd, 2012 at 12:32:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Keen to be heard  Business Review Weekly  (Australia)

Steve Keen, associate professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney, is becoming something of a superstar. He has been acknowledged as one of a handful of economists to have predicted the global financial crisis and now is a regular speaker at high-profile conventions around the world.

He is a consultant for the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific and in April he is speaking alongside George Soros and Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman at the Institute for New Economic Thinking where he has been asked to give a speech on "taming financial market instability".

The same organisation has given Keen almost $250,000 to develop software capable of predicting an economic crisis before it happens.

Last November he was interviewed on the BBC's Hardtalk program, which attracts a worldwide audience of almost 300 million, in which he "went public" about his idea for a "debt jubilee", where private debts are written off "en masse" to avoid "two decades" of economic stagnation.



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 22nd, 2012 at 09:16:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:48:52 PM EST
NIGER : Strained Welcome for 15,000 Malian Refugees - IPS ipsnews.net
CHINAGODER, Niger , Feb 21, 2012 (IPS) - The little village of Chinagoder, on the Niger-Mali border, has become a refugee camp, flooded with Malian families fleeing fighting between their regular army and Tuareg rebels known as the MNLA - the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.

In the past month, more than 15,000 Malians have arrived across the border, entering a region of western Niger that is already stressed by drought and poor harvests. The districts of Ayourou, Koutoubou, Yassan Banibangou, Mangaïzé and Chinagoder - all in the western Tillabéri region of the country - have become the arrival point for refugees.

"Usually home to fewer than 1,700 residents, our village now holds more than 6,500 people, mostly Malian families from Ménaka and Aderaboukane who have arrived with no resources," Zakari Djibo, younger brother of Chinagoder's chief, told IPS.

"The influx of refugees began on Jan. 26 and grew, day by day, to the point where it overwhelmed our ability to house and care for them," Djibo said. "Despite this, we are continuing to welcome these families in distress and give them hospitality."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:17:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Palestinian detainee ends hunger strike - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

A Palestinian detained by Israel, Khader Adnan, has agreed to end his 66-day hunger strike as part of a deal under which he will be released without charge, sources tell Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Adnan's hometown of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, quoted officials as saying on Tuesday that "Adnan has informed his lawyers that he has suspended his hunger strike and agreed to the offer to serve his sentence until April 17".

A spokesperson for the Israeli Supreme Court earlier told Al Jazeera that based on the deal reached between Adnan's lawyers and the Israeli justice ministry, he would end his fast in return for the court's decision to "erase" his file and release him on April 17, ending his "administrative detention".

Israel's supreme court had been expected to hear an urgent appeal by Adnan's lawyer later on Tuesday, but the hearing was cancelled after news of the deal became public.

"This man had no charges until now, no interrogation came up with any conclusions, no evidence against him. This is the truth, this is the reality," Jawad Bulus, one of Adnan's lawyers, told Al Jazeera.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mugabe scoffs at calls to retire - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president and Africa's oldest leader, has celebrated his 88th birthday, denying reports he has cancer.

Mugabe declared himself "fit as a fiddle" on Tuesday, scoffing at calls to retire and pushing for new elections this year.

"The day will come when I will become sick," Mugabe said in an interview on state-owned Radio Zimbabwe, dismissing fears about his health.

Making light of numerous media reports of his sickness, Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, said: "I have died many times - that's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once."

Presidential officials said he would celebrate his birthday at a family dinner at his home in the capital Harare, with a  celebration rally taking place in eastern Zimbabwe on Saturday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:20:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
War with Iran: Focusing on the end-game - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Washington, DC - Talk of war is in the air. In the US, one can hardly pick up a newspaper or magazine, or tune in to a public affairs show without encountering speculation about hostilities with Iran. The conservative right is fairly clambering for conflict, and even parties not normally associated with them - the Washington Post comes to mind - are just a step or two behind in demanding clear "red lines" to trigger the first salvo.

Those to the left of centre are notable for their hand-wringing passivity. They whine about the daunting risks and pallid potential gains of a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, but lack the moral conviction to make any compelling counter-argument.

Most prominent in the latter ranks is the Obama administration itself. It clearly has no taste for war with Iran, and just as clearly fears what the Israelis might do, but cannot say so, for fear of crippling itself politically. And so it assumes a seemingly safe middle ground, posturing, in coded language, that "all options are on the table", while hoping against hope that increasingly stringent sanctions and the thinly veiled threat of a conventional military strike will induce Iran to change course before Israel acts.

One reads the stories of firm messages supposedly being passed in private to the Israeli government, warning them against precipitate action - most recently, we are told, by General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What precise messages General Dempsey or others may have delivered we do not know, but it is implausible that anyone in the Netanyahu government, caught up in geo-political hysteria, would heed them. Why should they? What possible credibility can Obama have in making an argument in private that he fears to make in public?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Juan Cole: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have launched a vicious attack on US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, an American war hero, saying his recent statements "served Iran."

Surreal!

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:31:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
same old same old. All the warhawks who clamoured for war in Iraq and now exactly the same arguments for war with Iran.

And that article is right, Obama has gone into his reflex mode of distancing himself from an issue he should grasp and make his own. He needs to publicly tell the American public and Israel it ain't gonna happen and, most importantly, why. Because if he doesn't, the war will happen.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:10:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Polls claiming 63% of Americans "support Israel."  Whether that is true or not doesn't matter, people think it is true, and so will act on it.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:47:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez faces new operation

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that he will have to undergo another operation after doctors found a lesion during medical tests in Cuba.

The 57-year-old underwent two operations in Havana last year to remove a cancerous tumour from his pelvis.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:24:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia:
Colombia Reports: Colombia's former executive director of the U.S.-funded counter-narcotics initiative "Plan Colombia" was called for questioning Monday to respond to allegations she had ties with the AUC, responsible for most drug trafficking from Colombia before its 2006 demobilization.  Sandra Suarez, appointed by former President Alvaro Uribe in 2002 to work with the U.S. to combat drug trafficking, faces accusations she had ties to "Jorge 40," one of the paramilitary AUC's main leaders.

Colombia Reports: Former paramilitaries are being re-enlisted in a private army which will be used to violently resist the restitution of land to displaced farmers in the north-Colombia Cesar department, according to NGO Nuevo Arco Iris.

Colombia Reports: Suspected FARC guerrillas have burned a bus and killed the driver, cutting off transport between Colombia's western departments of Risaralda and Choco, reported Colombian media Monday.

Colombia Reports: Heavy combat between FARC guerrilla and the Colombian army continued on Tuesday, leaving 750 people displaced by the violence. According to Interior Minister German Vargas, the situation in the Cauca department is "complicated."

Narcosphere: U.S. troops deployed to the US/Mexican border last week may well be there, in part, to deal with the blowback from ATF's botched Fast and Furious gambit. Veteran border reporter Diana Washington Valdez of The El Paso Times reported late last week that "active-duty soldiers" from Fort Bliss, just north of El Paso, Texas, have been deployed to support the US Border Patrol in the Arizona and New Mexico border region.

Haitian Immigration to Brazil:
PORTO VELHO, Brazil, Feb 21, 2012 (IPS): Pierre is one of the hundreds of Haitians who have come to Brazil in search of a new life and an income that makes it possible for them to help their families back home, who are still suffering from the effects of the earthquake, said Marilia Pimentel, who works as a volunteer in a group that supports immigrants. Porto Velho has become a magnet for immigrants because of the jobs offered by the nearby construction of two huge hydroelectric dams on the Madeira river, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon river, as well as the construction of bridges and the expansion of roads in the area.  The Santo Antonio hydroelectric plant, which will have a capacity to generate 3,150 megawatts, is located seven km outside of the city. It just hired 100 Haitians to work in carpentry, construction, electricity and hydraulics. But there are nearly 700 Haitians in Porto Velho, and more are arriving every day, said Geraldo Cotinguiba, an anthropologist who, like his wife Pimentel, is helping the new immigrants overcome language and cultural barriers, to facilitate their social insertion and help them find jobs.

LIMA, Peru - Authorities in the southeastern Peruvian town of Iñapari said Monday they will ask President Ollanta Humala to resolve the immigration status of 274 Haitians stranded in the area since last month. Jose Luis Aguirre, governor of the Madre de Dios region where Iñapari is located, told Efe on Monday that local residents are in no condition to keep hosting the Haitians, who are still there because they can't move on to neighboring Brazil.

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- A Guatemalan judge overseeing the genocide case of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt stepped down Tuesday, accepting a defense request.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- Hundreds of relatives of inmates who burned or suffocated to death when a fire raged through a Honduran prison forced their way into a morgue Monday to demand the remains of loved ones.
Related comment/story HERE and HERE.

Chile, SANTIAGO - Taxi drivers battled police Monday in the streets of Coyhaique, capital of the southern Chilean region of Aysen, amid ongoing protests over the area's high cost of living and lack of jobs.

And, last but not least, VIVA MARACATU!!

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:46:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blimey, Colombia looks as if things are spiraling out of control

Another great roundup, thanks

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:13:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The war on drugs has been such a boon to chaos in Columbia (and elsewhere). It's too bad the governments of the Western Hemisphere are so afraid of the experiment of legalization. But even birth-control has become controversial in America -- it's hard to imagine anyone showing any leadership regarding anything so dicey as getting high.
by Andhakari on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:35:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
MSNBC
Speaking in Shelby Township, MI, the former Massachusetts governor took a question about the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission empaneled by President Obama to address the nation's deficit and debt issues. In his response, he said that addressing taxes and spending issues are essential.

"If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you'll slow down the economy," he said in part of his response. "So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies."

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They had him bailed up, but now they've bailed him. We'll see if he bails...

The district court judge judged that he will not flee, since they've seized all the assets he has confessed to owning :

Dotcom relieved to be going home - National - NZ Herald News

Prosecutor Anne Toohey, acting on behalf of the United States Government, had argued that because Dotcom was "a wealthy man'' he must have significant resources available to him and would be able to fund an escape from New Zealand.

However, Judge Nevin Dawson said there had been no new significant asset seizures since Dotcom's mansion was raided and he was arrested.

"The disposition that he is wealthy and must have more assets is not evidence.

The conditions of bail are particularly stringent :

He was granted bail on the condition that he does not use the internet and does not use a helicopter - Dotcom regularly flew in his personal helicopter in the skies north of Auckland.

He is to reside at his Coatesville property and is not to travel more than 80km from the property, unless it's an emergency.

Sportingly, they have not forbidden him from using his secret tunnel. Nor confiscated his three passports, apparently.

We'll see if he turns up for his extradition hearing on 20 August. Reminder : the FBI want him for half a billion dollars' worth of copyright fraud.

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

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:15:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:49:17 PM EST
Peat fires could accelerate climate change

In 1997, a forest fire in Indonesia ignited an area of peatlands that smouldered for months. By the time it was over, the fire had released greenhouse gases equal to 20 to 40 percent of the total worldwide emissions that year from fossil fuels.

But that could be a drop in the bucket compared to future emissions from peat fires. Indonesian peatlands are dwarfed by Canada's. The total area of all peatland in Canada is estimated to be about twice the size of Saskatchewan.

At this week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Douglas Woolford of Wilfrid Laurier University will present findings that show how the fire season is becoming longer, and Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta will highlight the increased risk of peat fires.

During a forest fire, especially in years of drought, peat can also ignite. When that happens, it produces a smoldering, smoky burn that is difficult to extinguish. Peat can grow several meters deep beneath the ground. In fact, some peat fires burn right through winter, beneath the snow, then pick up again in the spring.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The inside story on climate scientists under siege | Environment | guardian.co.uk

It is almost possible to dismiss Michael Mann's account of a vast conspiracy by the fossil fuel industry to harrass scientists and befuddle the public. His story of that campaign, and his own journey from naive computer geek to battle-hardened climate ninja, seems overwrought, maybe even paranoid.

But now comes the unauthorised release of documents showing how a libertarian thinktank, the Heartland Institute, which has in the past been supported by Exxon, spent millions on lavish conferences attacking scientists and concocting projects to counter science teaching for kindergarteners.

Mann's story of what he calls the climate wars, the fight by powerful entrenched interests to undermine and twist the science meant to guide government policy, starts to seem pretty much on the money. He's telling it in a book out on 6 March, The hockey stick and the climate wars: Dispatches from the front lines.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Peter Gleick Confesses to Obtaining Heartland Documents Under False Pretenses - Megan McArdle - Business - The Atlantic
You receive an anonymous memo in the mail purporting to be the secret climate strategy of the Heartland Institute.  It is not printed on Heartland Institute letterhead, has no information identifying the supposed author or audience, contains weird locutions more typical of Heartland's opponents than of climate skeptics, and appears to have been written in a somewhat slapdash fashion.  Do you:
A.  Throw it in the trash
B.  Reach out to like-minded friends to see how you might go about confirming its provenance
C.  Tell no one, but risk a wire-fraud conviction, the destruction of your career, and a serious PR blow to your movement by impersonating a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents.
As a journalist, I am in fact the semi-frequent recipient of documents promising amazing scoops, and depending on the circumstances, my answer is always "A" or "B", never "C".

Read it all.

I'm officially furious at people like Gleick. Politically engaged climate scientists are a problem, not the solution.

by Nomad on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:59:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politically engaged climate scientists are a problem, not the solution.
Diary?

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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:01:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the end of this Friday.
by Nomad on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:11:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's nothing compared to the problem of politically engaged economists.
by Andhakari on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 05:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing salt in crisps without affecting the taste

Food scientists have found a way of measuring how we register the saltiness of crisps which could lead to new ways of producing healthier crisps - without losing any of the taste. The research by scientists at The University of Nottingham could lead to significant salt reduction in all snack foods.

The research, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function, follows an investigation into how salt is released from crisps into the mouth.

Dr Ian Fisk, a lecturer in the Division of Food Sciences, said: "The 'salt burst' from crisps is only released into the mouth 20 seconds after chewing begins.

This means that in many cases the crisp may have already been swallowed before the majority of the salty taste is detected. Our aim is to develop a series of technologies that accelerate the delivery of salt to the tongue by moving the burst from 20 seconds to within the time that you normally chew and swallow. This would mean that less salt would be needed to get the same amount of taste.

That's potato chips, for those who...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:00:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek crisis kills ITGI pipeline project | EurActiv

Azerbaijan has eliminated one of the main competitors bidding for the gas of the Shah Deniz II offshore field, apparently over concerns that one of project's partners, Greek gas company DEPA, would not be able to carry on with the project.

The consortium developing Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II gas field has narrowed the number of groups competing to build infrastructure to carry gas to Europe by selecting the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project for the Italian pipeline option, to the detriment of the rival Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) project, Reuters announced.

ITGI was being developed by Italy's Edison and DEPA. Azerbaijan is doubtful that under the current crisis Greece would be able to carry on with the project, sources told EurActiv. The Greek government's privatisation plan to be launched later this year includes DEPA.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:17:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / News In Brief / France wants Monsanto GM corn approval suspended
France asked the European Commission on Monday to suspend Monsanto GM corn authorisation. The French government says the GM plant, MON810, is an environmental hazard. The French banned the crop in 2008 despite losing court rulings against the company. MON810 is the only GM plant approved by the EU.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:49:37 PM EST
Global Gender Imbalance Poses Critical Problems for Women - IPS ipsnews.net
WASHINGTON, Feb 21, 2012 (IPS) - In 2005, there were 163 million more men in Asia, more than the entire female population of the United States. Asia is now facing serious consequences from sex selection, a situation the West might have inadvertently helped create.

In the 1970s, noticing the population boom in Asia, U.S. foreign policy initiatives concentrated on population control in developing countries over fears of hoards in Asia overwhelming U.S. borders, says Mara Hvistendahl, author of "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men."

The U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank and other organisations began pouring money into the perceived problem.

A lot of effort also went into legalising abortion - not as a women's rights issue, but as a method of population control, Hvistendahl said. Researchers noted that parents, particularly in Asia, kept having children until they had a boy. To them, the obvious method to bring down birth rates was to allow parents to have a male child on the first try.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's difficult to ban sex-selective abortion without banning abortion altogether. I think these bans are essentially ineffective, they may send a signal but I think the important margin is to look at all the various ways in which parents discriminate against girls and try to rectify that.
by Andhakari on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 05:07:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Crackdown on Journalists Hits 15-Year High - IPS ipsnews.net
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21, 2012 (IPS) - The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide reached a 15-year high in 2011, driven by repressive states seeking to choke the flow of information.

Repressive governments, militants and criminal groups across the globe are leveraging both new and traditional tactics to control information, according to "Attacks on the Press", a yearly survey released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Their aim is to obscure wrongdoing, silence dissent and reduce citizens' power, the report also said.

CPJ had identified 179 writers, editors and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, 2012, up 34 from 2010, according to CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

With 42 journalists in jail, Iran had the most imprisoned journalists for the second consecutive year. Next was Eritrea with 28, followed by China (27), Burma (12) and Vietnam (9).

"In Iran the situation has worsened with continuous media repression this month (February) following ten new arrests of journalists in January documented by CPJ," Simon told IPS.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:14:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scientists Urge Reform for a Broken Global System - IPS ipsnews.net
VANCOUVER, Feb 21, 2012 (IPS) - Unless governments work actively to build a brighter future for humanity, climate change, poverty and loss of biodiversity will worsen and continue to exacerbate existing global problems, top scientists warned ministers at the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) governing council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday.

Replacing GDP as a measure of wealth, ending damaging subsidies, and transforming systems of governance are some possible steps they can take, the scientists said.

"The current system is broken," declared Bob Watson, the UK's chief scientific advisor on environmental issues.

"It is driving humanity to a future that is three to five degrees C warmer than our species has ever known and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self."

Watson and 19 other past winners of the Blue Planet Prize, often called the Nobel Prize for the environment, presented their 23-page synthesis report, "Environment and Development Challenges", at the UNEP meeting.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(looks up)

Politically engaged climate scientists are not the problem; they are a fundamental part of the solution.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:24:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the past six, seven years, politically engaged climate scientists have achieved....?
by Nomad on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:17:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, not enough achieved, and the waters muddied...

but this is a huge fight against entrenched idiocy, making it very hard to find the right balanced footing. AND, the fight is against media-friendly false science, which looks just as good on paper and in sound bites.

How does one try to keep high scientific standards during a time when ethics throughout civilization remain so challenged? When one has to fight against outright lies?

And when tens of thousands of scientists are each trying to find their own footing, surely some will cross the line... but what the hell, we all are living in a time where patently and/or criminally insane beliefs are part of the accepted debate.

One piece missing is a charismatic yet respected visionary who's not fat from too much trough feeding. OTOH, I'm not missing an AGW Politburo.

perhaps we should just let Gaia do the talking, she seems to be getting more vicious. Only a couple of her elbow swipes might be strong enough to cut through the human crap in this debate.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Full 26-page paper available as a 795Kb pdf here
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 10:49:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China factory explosion leaves many dead - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

An explosion at a steel plant in northeastern China has killed at least 10 people and injured another 17, a company official has said, in the latest industrial accident to hit the world's second largest economy.

The blast happened late on Monday in a steel casting workshop owned by state-run Angang Heavy Machinery in the city of Anshan in Liaoning province, a spokesman for parent company Ansteel Group said.

"The rescue work just finished. The bodies of the three missing workers have been found and now the local work safety bureau is working on the cause of the accident," Song Jiachen told AFP news agency.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:19:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mayor's massacre denial irks Beijing | The Japan Times Online

NAGOYA -- Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura riled China on Monday by telling a visiting official he doubts the 1937 Nanjing Massacre ever happened.

The 63-year-old Nagoya mayor, whose father was in Nanjing when the war ended in 1945, told Liu Zhiwei, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's Nanjing City Standing Committee, that he believes only "conventional acts of combat" took place there, not the mass murder and rape attributed in history books to the Imperial Japanese Army.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:32:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He probably really does believe that, the level of denial in Japan about the atrocities their armies committed is quite astonishing

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:50:01 PM EST
BBC News - How do you become fluent in 11 languages?

Twenty-year-old Alex Rawlings has won a national competition to find the UK's most multi-lingual student.

The Oxford University undergraduate can currently speak 11 languages - English, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Afrikaans, French, Hebrew, Catalan and Italian.

Entrants in the competition run by the publishers Collins had to be aged between 16 and 22 and conversant in multiple languages.

Alex drew on all his skills to tell BBC News about his passion for learning languages and how he came to speak so many.

(video)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:26:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that just pisses me off. Kidding. But with my struggles with German in mind, I can't help but envy him his early life living with several languages at once, especially with one of those being Greek.

'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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 02:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
His mother spoke to him in Greek when he was a child. That doesn't count..... (and he speaks Italian like a Spaniard).
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:17:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha, I am always amazed by the snobbery of polyglots. My friend told me there is a hierarchy amongst them and that you can only call yourself fluent if a native speaker would not know they were speaking to somebody who was using their second language.

to most people, the ability to get by is more than sufficient in languages other than your first. As somebody who has made repeated stabs at learning french and who only seems to get worse with each attempt, I think the ability to speak two languages is amazing, 11 is beyond understanding.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:24:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A friend of mine once asked a Swede who spoke Calabrian if locals realized he was a foreigner. He said that they didn't, but thought he was from a different village.....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:36:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I meant by living with 2 languages as a child -- he had a parent speaking Greek to him.  I didn't.  I'm not accusing my parents of child neglect or such, but...

'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 Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:23:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any child has a fundamental human right to at least two native languages and two nationalities.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:39:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So for NDN kids that means four languages, two for the cultural almost gone tongues, and two for the civilized tongues.

You should hear Mohawk and Lakota guys arguing against each other, in a mall.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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