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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 9 February

by afew Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:07:27 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1737 - birth of Thomas Paine, English radical liberal philosopher, American and French revolutionary (d. 1809)

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:39:44 AM EST
Father of Europe contemplates his broken family | EurActiv

Jacques Delors, former European Commission president, and José Manuel Barroso, the current chief of the EU executive, both regretted the national "resistance" and "lack of spirit of cooperation" amongst the leaders of the 27 EU countries in dealing with the bloc's debt crises.

The long-serving Commission president (1985-1994) visited Barroso to mark the 20th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, signed on 7 February 1992, which led to the creation of the euro currency.

But Delors' visit also coincided with last-hour talks in Athens to secure a second bailout package for Greece, with the risk of a default now openly cited as a possibility by high-ranking EU officials.

Neelie Kroes, Digital Agenda commissioner, said in a newspaper interview on Monday (6 February) that the eurozone could survive without Greece, suggesting talks between Athens and the "Troika" of lenders - the Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - were reaching breaking point.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:51:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Electricity bourses raided in EU antitrust probe | EurActiv

European Commission and national officials raided the offices of two electricity exchanges on Tuesday (7 February) following concerns their planned tie-up may thwart competition in the power exchange market.

"The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated European antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices," the Commission said in a statement.

It did not however indicate which bourses were targeted saying only that the companies probed were "active in managing power exchanges in several [EU] member states."

Confirmation of the Commission's "unannounced inspections" came later from the parties concerned.

"Yes, our office was searched today," said a spokesman for Paris-based electricity exchange EPEX Spot. "We expect the raids were carried out in relation to our cooperation with Nordpool Spot."

EPEX Spot and Norway's Nordpool Spot, which offer short-term electricity trading platforms for French, German, Austrian, Swiss and Scandinavian power, in September announced plans to create a joint exchange which would cover more than half of Europe's spot electricity trades.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Russian election: Grigory Yavlinsky vote ban upheld

The Russian Supreme Court has backed a decision that disqualifies liberal candidate Grigory Yavlinsky from running for the presidency on 4 March.

The Central Election Commission said it had found irregularities in a quarter of the signatures collected by Mr Yavlinsky to take part in the campaign.

Mr Yavlinsky, 59, had insisted that all the signatures were authentic.

He was the only liberal challenger to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is expected to win the election.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:53:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Social Affairs / One in four young people in EU at risk of poverty, study says

BRUSSELS - Almost a quarter of the EU's population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to statistics released Wednesday (8 February), with 13 member states recording a rise in the number of their citizens considered vulnerable.

The figures for 2010 show that 115 million Europeans, or 23.4 percent of the EU population, live in households with less than the poverty-threshold disposable income, in households where there is severe material deprivation (such as a lack of heating) or where the adults worked less than 20 percent of their total work potential.

Bulgaria has the highest percentage of population (42%) falling into one or more of these categories, followed by Romania (41%), Latvia (38%), Lithuania (33%) and Hungary (30%).

While 13 of the 25 member states that provided information recorded a rise in the numbers affected when compared with 2009, Spain (23.4% to 25.5%) and Lithuania (29.5% to 33.4%) saw the greatest leap from one year to the next.

The lowest rates of poverty and social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (14%), Sweden and the Netherlands (both 17%).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:54:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Homeless people 'excluded' from European rights: theparliament.com
ALDE deputy Niccolo Rinaldi has said that homeless people in the EU arebeing "excluded" from their rights to European citizenship and freedomof movement.

Speaking at an ALDE press briefing on EU citizenship, Rinaldi said homelessness and freedom of movement was an "important commitment" to champion the rights of homeless people.

"Citizenship is a very clear concept and is the basis of the entire EU," he said, adding that homeless people are "denied active participation in society, basic services and freedom of circulation".

"The number of homeless is increasing with serious speed and EU democracy has difficulty connecting with this. The homeless do not vote or have constituencies.

"Children sleeping on the street with their families is a growing phenomenon and we are trying to focus the EU institutions on these difficult and vulnerable sectors," said the Italian MEP.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:59:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Let's talk about EU / Independent Scotland would not join euro, minister says
An independent Scotland would be one of the wealthiest parts of Europe, but it would stay out of the euro, deputy first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon tells EUobserver during a visit to Brussels this week.

(video)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hahahahahahaha. not poverty stricken fersure, but Norway they will not be

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least they have good scotch at a reasonable price. A bottle of something decent runs near 500 kroner for 70 centiliters here. That's no way to run a civilized country.
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel helps boost conservatives' popularity - The Local

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are flying high in a new opinion poll, which shows them garnering their best result since her beleaguered centre-right coalition took power in 2009.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian CSU allies had the support of 38 percent of voters, the weekly Forsa survey for Stern magazine and broadcaster RTL found.

The result, up two points from last week, is the highest for the conservatives since forming a coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) in 2009.

But unlike their senior coalition partner, popularity for the FDP continues to wallow at a measly three percent - which is below the five percent threshold to win seats in parliament.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German Exports Slump Faster Than Forecast as Crisis Damps Growth: Economy - Bloomberg

German exports fell four times more than economists forecast in December as the sovereign debt crisis damped growth across the euro region.

Exports slumped 4.3 percent from November, when they rose 2.6 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists predicted a decline of 1 percent, according to the median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. French business confidence held near its lowest level in more than two years in January on recession concerns, the Bank of France said in another report.

While the German economy, Europe's largest, probably shrank 0.25 percent in the final three months of 2011, data this year suggest it may avoid recession, which is commonly defined as two consecutive quarterly contractions. Business sentiment jumped to a five-month high in January and factory orders gained 1.7 percent in December, driven by demand from outside the 17-nation euro area.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:19:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coming home to roost. See also, "As you sow, so also shall you reap."

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 10:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Insight: The dark side of Germany's jobs miracle | Reuters

(Reuters) - Anja has been scrubbing floors and washing dishes for two euros an hour over the past six years. She is bewildered when she sees newspapers hailing Germany's "job miracle."

"My company exploited me," says the 50-year-old, sitting in the kitchen of her small flat in the eastern German town of Stralsund. "If I could find something else, I'd be long gone."

Stralsund is an attractive seaside town but Anja, who preferred not to use her full name for fear of being fired, cannot afford the quaint cafes.

Wage restraint and labor market reforms have pushed the jobless rate down to a 20-year low, and the German model is often cited as an example for European nations seeking to cut unemployment and become more competitive.

But critics say the reforms that helped create jobs also broadened and entrenched the low-paid and temporary work sector, boosting wage inequality.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
funny how that happens

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Few Swedes ready to work until they're 75: poll - The Local

An overwhelming majority of Swedes disagree with Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's suggestion that workers should be ready to stay on the job until they are 75, a new poll shows.

In a survey carried out by the Novus polling firm for Sweden's TV4, 73 percent answered no when asked if they thought Sweden's retirement age should be raised to 75.

Twenty percent of those polled supported the idea, while 7 percent were uncertain.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you know, some sort of work for older people would probably be a good idea but it would have to really be tailored to each individual's capacity and willingness to work, and the labour market is not designed to do that now, so I doubt it will be in the future.

getting out and about, mixing with others, having contact with young children in some way would probably prolong people's lives.

one just cannot depend on the free market to take people's frailties into account, because it exploits them, it doesn't work around them.

by stevesim on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:33:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that you need an income. If there is a system that provides an income to people as they taper off their working hours, then they can do that. Few retired people just sit around watching TV, they do stuff like volunteer or teach or work part time.

If there is no income replacement system, then people have to work at regular full time jobs until they keel over. The idea that "we don't do manual labor any more so we can do it until age 75" or "people live longer now so they can work longer" are disconnected from reality. Increasing life expectancy by reducing the neonatal death rate, which is what is happening, has little to do with people working longer.

by asdf on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 06:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First the women's movement was co-opted by the corporations to inflate the labor supply, and now medical technology will be used as an excuse to do it again, accompanied by the insidious notion that you are useless unless you're working for a corporation somewhere (or have substantial wealth). Keep people focused on surviving, punish them for being 'non-productive', and keep the rewards for their work short-term, with little long-term security or purpose.
Regardless of the pandering 'family values' clap-trap, we are increasingly defined as economic units, not citizens or families or human beings.
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but work is not just an economic necessity.  it brings rewards such as interaction with others, feelings of accomplishments, necessity to learn new things, even just movement from one place to another....
by stevesim on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 07:33:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you remove the need to do work in order to eat, then people will do less unfulfilling or mind-numbing things with their time.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 10:53:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree.  It will depend on the person.  Some people like to be intellectually challenged, others, physically challenged.  Some people crave contact with others, or with children.  I have a friend who is obsessed with esthetician stuff and she does this for free on her friends, just so she can have the pleasure of performing these activities.

We as a society have tended to equate any type of effort with economic survival, so we tend to overlook the other aspects of activity which can bring benefits.

by stevesim on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:54:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your friend does not do the work in order to eat, then?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
she does it to earn money when she can, and when she wants to, to have fun, so for both reasons.  Although since her partner has a good job, it's mostly to get out of the house, feel she has some independence, etc.  

She reads up on new techniques, attends courses, and is really, really into anything that is associated with it.  

by stevesim on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:04:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, how does this example contradict my If you remove the need to do work in order to eat, then people will do less unfulfilling or mind-numbing things with their time ?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:06:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oops, sorry.  I misread.  I thought you meant people are only challenged to do things when they are paid to do them.
by stevesim on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only because our society is set up so that for most people work is the only practical way of getting those things.

I mean, seriously, if you were going to choose your interactions with others, how you achieved your feeling of accomplishment or choose where and how to move you wouldn't do any of them in the way most jobs demand.

I've avoided having a real job for decades now for exactly that reason. And because I can, just about.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Few people anywhere would want to work until they're 75 would they? Many older people I've met are rather complacent about their jobs, are no longer giving it 100%, and would really rather be elsewhere. Whatever joy they found in their work a decade before, has come and gone.

I must admit, I'm really confused on this issue. The government wants its citizens to stay on the job longer, yet older workers continue to get the boot. When jobs do appear, older candidates aren't even considered. What part of this makes sense? Why not hire an energetic young workforce (who desperately need jobs to prepare for their own future) straight out of school with the requisite skills, train them the way you need them to do the job at hand (preferably using your best workers to do the training). The amount saved by hiring young people could be used to provide retirement benefits to the older folks who really don't want to be working at all. Wouldn't this be a fairer, more equitable solution, rather than having us old folk work until we drop?

From a personal standpoint I'm quite enjoying my retirement. I view it as yet another dimension of my life. It provides time for hobbies, reflections, and learning new things. Things I never had time for in the hustle bustle of working since age 15. Maybe these hobby ideas will spawn into a money making idea someday, and maybe they won't. Money isn't everything and once you've got your fill of possessions you get over that too. I'm happy just living on my savings and Social Security and would rather find creative ways to adjust my needs and wants downward if necessary. But then again, that's just me and my opinion FWIW.

by sgr2 on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 08:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Pledges Strong Support for Earth Summit - IPS ipsnews.net
BRUSSELS, Feb 8, 2012 (IPS) - European leaders have mapped out a bold agenda ahead of the Rio summit, vowing to transform development aid, help provide renewable electricity to the world's neediest people, and bulk up the United Nations environment body.

The European Union's `Agenda for Change' proposal calls for pumping foreign aid into sustainable growth and energy access, while European Union officials have also floated the idea of transforming the U.N. Environmental Programme into an agency with expanded influence and greater power to promote research and development.

Janez Potočnik, the EU environment commissioner, on Tuesday reaffirmed the 27-nation block's pledge to provide the equivalent of 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) for aid to the world's poorest countries, while urging that there be a focus on sustainable growth.

"The potential for investment and gains are massive compared to official development assistance," he said in a speech. "But at the same time the poorest countries need help, to make this promise good.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Public consultations - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion - European Commission
Green Paper: Restructuring and anticipation of change: what lessons from recent experience?

Target group(s)

Employers' organisations, trade unions, national, regional and local authorities, academics, NGOs, other stakeholders as well as individual citizens with an interest in restructuring and anticipation of change.

Period of consultation

from : 17/01/2012 To : 30/03/2012

Objective of the consultation

This Green Paper aims to identify successful practices and policies in the field of restructuring and adaptation to change in order to promote employment, growth and competitiveness as part of the Europe 2020 strategy and in particular the industrial policy flagship initiative of October 2010 , the "Agenda for new skills and jobs" adopted in November 2010 . The Green Paper is also intended to contribute to improving synergy between all relevant actors in addressing challenges related to restructuring and adaptation to change and takes into account the important work carried out in recent years by the European Commission, the social partners, Member States, regions and many other stakeholders.

The Commission will build upon the outcome of this consultation to consider new ways to better disseminate and effectively implement good practices, including at EU level, for dealing with both immediate concerns related to the economic crisis and long-term competitiveness objectives as identified in the industrial policy flagship initiative. The Commission will feed the results of this Green Paper consultation into the revived flexicurity agenda, also with a view to steering a renewed debate at EU level on a possible approach to and framework for restructuring.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:05:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BusinessInsider: Angela Merkel's Desperate And Risky Gamble
Merkel and her government have struggled fiercely to create a fiscally united Europe of balanced budgets and "structural reforms"--a euphemism for lowering the cost of labor, including wages and benefits. It's her prescription for pulling the Eurozone out of the debt crisis. At the moment, her eyes are on the nightmare in Greece where even politicians are preparing for the "afterwards." Read.... Now Even Greek Politicians Are Taking Cover.

Sarkozy has been her most powerful ally during the debt crisis. Without him, she couldn't have pushed through her policies, which have been a resounding success, in Germany: in a recent poll, 64% of Germans have a favorable opinion of her, and 90% were satisfied with her crisis management.

...

With her intervention in the French election, Merkel has created the impression that preventing Hollande from becoming president has morphed into a government policy, and it doesn't necessarily enhance Germany's image abroad. Already, its reluctance to pay ever more to bail out the Eurozone has made it a global punching bag. Yet the amounts it has committed through a myriad of bailout programs are staggering.



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 8th, 2012 at 06:54:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet the amounts it has committed through a myriad of bailout programs are staggering.

It's a bitch when you have to pay to clean up the mess your policies have created.

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 8th, 2012 at 10:54:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence: High noon, postponed
Greek parties fail to agree on a key aspect of the package - the request for pension reform; troika gives the Greeks 15 days to plug what is now a €300m gap; a eurogroup meeting of finance ministers takes place tonight to discuss the situation; the tussle also threatens to hold up the debt swap talks; insiders says there is still a little bit of wiggle room, but the debt swap still face a number of considerable risks; the Wall Street Journal reports that the ECB would sell its Greek bonds to the EFSF, which would resell them to Greece, a transaction that would yield a gain of €11bn for Greece;  other commentators are doubtful that such an agreement has already been reached; Ireland said it would consider an ECB participation in the Greek restructuring as a precedent; Francesco Papadia of the ECB talks about "mission accomplished"; German trade surplus narrows in December, while the pattern of exports shifts towards Brics and central and eastern Europe; Le Monde worries about France's decline as Germany's economic partner; The French court of auditors warns of a debt spiral in France; court also warns about risks building up at the Banque de France; ECB is likely to extend the collateral framework and lower quality requirements for Eurosystem central banks today; Wolfgang Proissl defends Mario Draghi's ,,morphine shot strategy"; Wolfgang Munchau, meanwhile, says there are four ticking time bombs under the eurozone, of which only one - the liquidity crunch - has been defused.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only thing the ECB lacks to be the European sovereign is for it to decide to issue its own bonds.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:51:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: Greece should default within the eurozone: On CNBC
Here I tell CNBC that Sisyphus' optimal strategy is to stop pushing the rock up the hill. And that the assumption that if Greece defaults it must exit the eurozone is a motivated lie


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 05:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CiF: A solution to the eurozone crisis: it's the real economy, stupid (Frank-Walter Steinmeier)
It has taken two years of futile efforts for governments to finally start talking about growth and employment as European aims again. This change in attitude is prompted by shock. The credit-rating downgrades for France, eight other eurozone countries and the European Financial Stability Facility bailout fund at the start of the year all show that the capital markets are predicting a downward spiral. It was particularly insightful to see how Standard & Poor's justified the downgrades: "We believe that a reform process based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone risks becoming self-defeating, as domestic demand falls in line with consumers' rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues."

We need to set a new course now and implement a far more consistent and precise strategy. First and most importantly: the current situation requires us to create the right conditions to ensure private capital flows into the real economies of crisis countries. For this to happen, there needs to be a guarantee that these crisis countries and their banks can pay their debts - from a robust European Stability Mechanism, which can provide itself with liquidity from the European Central Bank, and a common debt-reduction pact as suggested by the German Council of Economic Experts. Growth needs private investment, and these investments need security!

Secondly, we need to remove any obstacles to investing in Europe and give hope for an upturn in the economy in order to bring back hesitant private investors who have lost confidence. Our most important task is therefore to create a comprehensive European investment programme, which will increase the competitiveness of crisis countries, expand Europe's industrial infrastructure - particularly its energy networks - and promote research and development. In order to ensure that the momentum of change is not lost in excessive red tape, the European Investment Bank must play a central role. A crucial aspect of the project is that it will not be financed by new debts, but by a European financial transaction tax, which could bring in up to €50bn if Europe - or at least the eurozone - is united on the issue. For European solidarity has two meanings and it is time to show we are committed to both.

Prominent Social Democrats arguing that the solution to recession is private-sector investment... </facepalm>

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 10:44:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
could you?
by redstar on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:14:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, the article isn't half bad... for a right-winger.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:15:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that we agree that the SPD is right wing, and that in a more normal world these would be reasonable conservative prescriptions for what ails Europe at present, we would still need to point out that yet another representative and influential German still has no fucking clue about macro-economics and the actual problem which is at hand.

You know, the evil versus stupid dilemma is increasingly irrelavent.

by redstar on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:20:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As the political spectrum continues to shift rightwards under our feet, the European united left and green left parties have the Social Democratic ideological space wide open for them to colonise.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:27:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here in France our Socialist has Merkel shitting her pants and campaigning actively for his opponent, the most unpopular President in the 5th Republic and who stands essentially no realistic chance of staying on, and he's not even the most vociferous opponent of Merkozian austerity, that would be Mélenchon to his left. I suspect Germany will begin to look extremely isolated and fololish by the end of this Spring.

And, in Germany they of course also have a reasonable alternative, Die Linke, unfortunately the Germans have a particular theological aversion to the left, suspect that is why Marx was writing about their ideological foibles over 150 years ago...

by redstar on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect Germany will begin to look extremely isolated and fololish by the end of this Spring.

I don't know, I may be wrong but they appear to be able to count on the support of the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland...

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 11:56:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See here.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure they can count on those they could count on in the '30's too...exception probably being Italy.
by redstar on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:03:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stalin isn't around either ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 02:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 02:49:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It might, just might have something to do with 45 years of Communist occupation and oppression, whom all leading Die Linke politicians aren't distancing themselves from as much as they should...

The Swedish Left party had the same problem until recently, with lots of old semi-fossilized DDR-, Cuba-, Soviet-, and North Korea-lovers in leading positions.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 06:18:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many of the western parties took a very long time to even admit the excesses of Stalinism much less credibly distancing themselves from it, I recall watching Knud Jespersen on television back in the mid-80's, it was painful to watch. Those are hard things to live down and get past, but some of the western parties, notably in the Netherlands, in Italy and in France, have done so, making the transition to Eurocommunism more or less keeing the ideology intact.

However, in the eastern countries, and this really holds for Die Linke, you have to remember that there is a core constituency, in the eastern lander, who genuinely have some level of positive connection to the more recent past. Communism was not Stalinism, not in the 1970's, not in the 1980's, and it is a mistake to say that the system, albeit with some need for more reforms, was the same as it was in the 1950's or the 1930's any moreso than it is a mistake to say that the liberal democracies are the same as they were in the 1950's and 1930's, back in the days of routinely censored press, overt collusion between the monied classes and the government and security apparatuses (violent strike-breaking, massacres of peaceful protestors and example of which we commemorated here in Paris the day before yesterday). The fact is, that communist past is not looked upon with the same amount of shame by core eastern constituents of Die Linke as might be desired by segments of the Western population who nonetheless have no real alternative to Die Linke if they wish to have their interests defended in the public sphere. But I think having Oskar Lafontaine take such a positive initial role went a long ways to bridging that gap, and recall Gregor Gysi being warmly welcomed, while campaigning, in the western parts of the country.

All of this hand-wringing about sympathies for Castro seem to me to be a red herring, and of course we know which press are publicly accentuating that aspect of the party, which is as unfortunate as it is predictable.

As usual, it will take generational change, perhaps many. The ideals of the first French republic were drowned out by counter-revolutionary forces and reaction to its initial excesses for the better part of a half-century, and did not really take hold for another one. The same will be true of the Soviet experiment.

by redstar on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 06:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Prominent Social Democrats arguing that the solution to recession is private-sector investment... </facepalm>

well when government expenditure is a. reduced by austerity, b.largely dedicated to stupid megalomanic monuments to folly (including subsidising archaic energy forms), millennium wheels et al, then where else is the investment money going to come from?

he's being disingenuous, as he may be a Prominent Social Democrat, but he's a Captured Prominent Social Democrat, thus In Name Only.

IOW, i broke your game, (oops, the one i was supposed to be rooting for and helping to build), now we have to do it for profit without pesky public services offering free competition, tut tut, isn't that a shame, now we'll have to do it the other way, TINA, and my buddies will be considerably enriched by selling you the very air you breathe.

and if i, a socialist, tell you it's true you can believe me because of my impeccable cred as such.

hollande, blair, milliband, zapatero, prodi, clinton, obama, see any pattern yet?

excellent market-soothing reforms! flexicurity! third way! new labour!

and when the public's ire strays above simmer with one set of betrayers, reach for the trusty alternative lawn-order party till the repulsion builds to breaking point, and the pas de deux flounders, and all the money's siphoned off somewhere safe, just move in the Goldman Sux technocrats! ...who, untroubled by demagogic need to please any voters, (we're w-a-y beyond that now), will patiently, tactfully, calmly, benignly explain to us ignorant lambs why the shearer is going to visit twice as often, and shave us harder, but not to worry, because the sacrifice will be equally shared, and we must be humbly contrite and respectful of the market's omniscient wisdom and how lucky we are to live in such a great system, Hint, look at africa or china before you start whinging too loud, suck it up and go watch a football game.

best idea yet, call it democracy! it doesn't get better than that! privatise=fail, so nationalise=fail, so round and round and round we go.

it's all built to fail, happy people don't consume as much, they don't care about politics like they don't care how their car engine works, they just want it to work FFS, and and then their grim, grimily polluted landscapes slathered with pharaonic grandiosity to boot, easter island all over again. little men and women with big words and noble rhapsodies spun gossamer BS, fast food statesmanship.

i am amazed (and grateful) when anyone under 30 is remotely interested in politics. it's so crushingly depressing and unennobling, spirit-sucking. at least try to have some kind of free life before the weight of teh stupid social yoke is fully felt. the smarter ones do care early...

how can it become exciting again for the young to show they're better than just exchanging likes on FB? maybe only when we see their parents and family enthused by intelligent government by our peers?

well, i guess events have a way of taking their historical course, no one ever promised us a rose garden, or an enlightened species to share life's travails with...

there must be some way out of here. or through...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUObserver: Dutch far right opens anti-Polish hotline
"Did you lose your job to a Pole, a Bulgarian, a Romanian, or any other Central or Eastern European? We would like to hear about it," it says on the website Hotline Central and Eastern Europeans.

...

The party, headed by Geert Wilders, hopes to provide an outlet for complaints that otherwise remain unattended, it says. It will then present the results to the country's social affairs minister.

"It can go from 'They're sleeping on my doorstep' to 'They're still barbecuing at night'," Ino van den Besselaar, Dutch MP and PVV social affairs spokesman, specified to public broadcaster NOS.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:40:06 AM EST
Swaziland's Cooperatives No Threat to Banks - IPS ipsnews.net
MBABANE , Feb 8, 2012 (IPS) - Nomsa Tsabedze is one of the many people at the Bunye Betfu, Buhle Betfu Credit and Savings Cooperatives waiting to apply for a loan to pay for her children's school fees.

"Unlike banks, there is no collateral required before you get a loan from a cooperative," said Tsabedze, adding: "If you're a member of a cooperative, you're guaranteed a loan depending on how much you've saved."

For the past five years, ever since she started working as a clerk in the public service, Tsabedze has been saving and obtaining loans from the cooperative.

But while Tsabedze and thousands like her have chosen to put their money in cooperatives as opposed to banks, many in this Southern African nation feel that this poses no risk to the banking industry.

This is despite concerns by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that the country's increasingly popular 230 savings and cooperatives pose a threat to commercial banks.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So 'market discipline' comes to Swaziland. Who said that the proper tense to use with the word 'imperialism' is past?

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 8th, 2012 at 11:05:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because there is little risk of this public being able to afford the services of the banks.

It's interesting how the principles of liberalism (competition is good!) so dear to the IMF are context-sensitive...

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

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:33:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
concerns by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [which] said that the country's increasingly popular 230 savings and cooperatives pose a threat to commercial banks


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jobless Decline Masks Drop in U.S. Labor Force - Bloomberg

The unemployment rate's unexpected drop to a three-year low has overshadowed a less-positive labor- market development: fewer Americans are looking for work.

Last week's Labor Department announcement that the jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent in January sent stocks and bond yields higher. The same report showed the share of working-age people in the labor force had declined to the lowest level in 29 years.

The so-called participation rate was cited by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday to support his assessment that the rate of unemployment obscures vulnerabilities in the job market. Bernanke, speaking to the Senate Budget Committee, confirmed the Fed's stance that interest rates will stay low at least through late 2014, and repeated his view that the job market is a "long way" from returning to normal.

"Weakness in the labor force is frustrating to the Fed, which needs to see broadened participation from labor in this recovery," said Eric Green, chief market economist at TD Securities Inc. in New York. "What the Fed wants is the real stuff. They want unemployment falling with the labor force rising."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arabs Seek Safety in Dollars After Euphoria Fades - Bloomberg

As he watched Egypt's revolt turn into a financial crisis that devoured 50 percent of the nation's foreign-currency holdings last year, Ahmed El-Rifai started charging some clients in U.S. dollars.

The 32-year-old owner of Egyweb, a Web-development company in Cairo, says he may also buy real estate with his Egyptian pound savings, concerned that the loss of reserves will lead to a devaluation. That has already sent the pound down 3.8 percent since the start of last year. Iraq's central bank says its dollars are fueling Syria's black market. In Tripoli, Libya, dozens are queuing every morning at banks to buy the U.S. currency.

A year after popular protests from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya toppled rulers, transitions marked by violence have failed to lift economic hardship. Almost two thirds of Egyptians see the economy as the country's biggest challenge, according to a survey by the New York-based International Peace Institute in September. Promised Western aid has yet to arrive, savings in foreign currencies have grown and government borrowing costs have surged.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Argentina Tightens Limits on Use of Cash Transactions in Financial Markets - Bloomberg

Argentina limited the use of cash in the country's financial markets as President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner ramps up oversight of currency transactions.

The government will restrict daily cash transactions to 1,000 pesos ($231) per person, down from 10,000 pesos, according to a statement today in the Official Gazette. The measure affects activity in the stock and bond markets, investment funds and in the futures markets. Operations above the limit will have to be done through Argentine bank accounts that are authorized by the central bank.

"They are forcing a higher level of formality in the economy, as cash transactions allow more irregularities," said Felipe Hernandez, an analyst at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. "This is in line with other measures to prevent money laundering, for which the government has been under a great deal of pressure."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:22:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Attorney General Koster announces 136-count criminal indictments related to robo-signing in mortgage industry --Boone County grand jury indicts Georgia corporation and its president for practices highlighted in 60 Minutes report --

Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster today announced that a Boone County grand jury has handed down 136-count indictments against DOCX, LLC and its founder and former president, Lorraine Brown, for forgery and making a false declaration related to mortgage documents processed by DOCX.

"The grand jury indictment alleges that mass-produced fraudulent signatures on notarized real estate documents constitutes forgery," Koster said. "Today's indictment reflects our firm conviction that when you sign your name to a legal document, it matters," Koster said.

The forgery and false declaration counts each allege that the person whose name appears on 68 notarized deeds of release on behalf of the lender is not the person who actually signed the paperwork. The documents were then submitted to the Boone County Recorder of Deeds as though they were genuine.

Koster's office requested the indictment, and the Attorney General's Office will prosecute the case.

The indictments are the result of months of investigation by the Attorney General's Office into the robo-signing scandal that injected thousands of questionable mortgage documents into the market. When the practice began to come to light, several major lenders temporarily suspended foreclosures in 2010. DOCX's role in the robo-signing process came to national attention when 60 Minutes reported that Linda Green, an employee of DOCX, purportedly signed thousands of mortgage-related documents on behalf of several different banks and in multiple handwritings. The 68 documents on which the indictments are based were purportedly signed by Linda Green, but were allegedly signed by someone else.

Forgery is a Class C felony and False Declaration is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted on the most serious count, Brown could face up to seven years in prison for each count. DOCX could be fined up to $10,000 for each forgery conviction and $2,000 for each false declaration conviction.

The charges against DOCX and Lorraine Brown are merely accusations and, as in all criminal cases, the defendant is innocent until or unless proved guilty in a court of law.


The press release links to Gretchen Morgenson's article in the NYT. See below.

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 8th, 2012 at 04:19:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I heard that Michigan was offering 2,000$ per person whose houses had been illegally repossessed
by stevesim on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:35:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whole zip codes in Detroit have average home values under $12,000. How is that for devastation?

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 8th, 2012 at 04:54:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wow.
by stevesim on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 05:01:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
$12,000 to a guy with a tin cup is a lot of bread.

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 Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 10:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously? That seems quite impossible. My first real estate purchase was a small, three bedroom house in San Jose. I paid $32,500 for it and thought it was a bloody fortune. That was in 1973.
by sgr2 on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:14:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Detroit real estate ads
$10,000 18645 Sussex St, Detroit MI
3 br  /  1 full, 1 partial ba   /  1,167 sqft  /  $9/sqft
Single-Family Home

$8,000 3288 W Grand St, Detroit MI
4 br  /  2 ba  /  2,000 sqft  /  $5/sqft
Multi-Family Home

$5,000 12085 Minock St, Detroit MI
2 br  /  1 ba  /  701 sqft  /  $14/sqft
Single-Family Home

$4,000 5324 Larchmont St, Detroit MI
3 br  /  1 ba  /  1,000 sqft  /  $4/sqft
Single-Family Home

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for posting the link so I could see for myself. Amazing. Truly amazing. And incredibly sad for the community and folks who previously purchased these properties.  
by sgr2 on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:21:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Detroit was fucked by the late 60's riots, and then got an incredibly damaging and useless mayor. The city never recovered.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 06:20:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
check out the pics on google maps.

they look nice and cute and maintained.

so sad.

by stevesim on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:24:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Company Faces Forgery Charges in Mo. Foreclosures
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON  NYT

One of the largest companies that provided home foreclosure services to lenders across the nation, DocX, has been indicted on forgery charges by a Missouri grand jury -- one of the few criminal actions to follow reports of widespread improprieties against homeowners.

A grand jury in Boone County, Mo., handed up an indictment Friday accusing DocX of 136 counts of forgery in the preparation of documents used to evict financially strained borrowers from their homes. Lorraine O. Brown, the company's founder and former president, was indicted on the same charges.

Employees of DocX, a unit of Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, Fla., executed and notarized millions of mortgage documents for big banks and loan servicers over the years. Lender Processing closed the company in April 2010, after evidence emerged of apparent forgeries in these documents, a practice now called robo-signing.

....

Mr. Koster said his office's investigation was continuing. This suggests he may hope to persuade Ms. Brown to cooperate in his investigation of the parent company. If convicted, Ms. Brown could face up to seven years in prison for each forgery count. DocX could be fined up to $10,000 for each forgery conviction.

....

According to the indictment, Ms. Brown acted "knowingly in concert with DocX and its employees" to mislead and defraud the Boone County recorder of deeds. The documents central to the indictments were deeds of release, which eliminate a previous claim on an asset. Such releases are typically issued when a mortgage has been paid off.


DocX is a colorful company. In addition to its founder, Lorraine Brown, the infamous 'Linda Green' signed 68 of the documents just from Missouri. I recall from previous accounts that 'Linda Green' has been found having signed multiple documents in multiple states on the same day, some with the same notary.

I will leave it to Chris Cook, our resident expert on the difference between 'systemic' and 'systematic' fraud to suggest which, if either of these words would be most appropriately combined with the word 'fraud' in this case. But I am SO glad to see a state AG bringing criminal charges in this matter. Lorraine Brown, potentially facing over a millennium in jail time, if convicted on all charges and sentenced for them to run consecutively, should hope that Koster offers her witness protection services if she has had any direct dealings with Wall Street firms, especially if she can document such possible dealings.

It may be such suits as these that derail the bruited multi-state AG settlement led by Tom Miller of Iowa. Leaks have suggested that the proposal is to fine the banks involved $25 billion in return for relief from liability in mortgages that total close to $13 trillion in face value. Even if only a third of the mortgages in that $13 trillion are involved in some kind of robo-signing and even if the average loss involved only 30% of the face value that is still $1.3 trillion.

But what the hell! What is another $1.3 trillion to Bernanke and Geithner. Just create the money already and give it to those affected. THAT would actually help the economy, unlike the ongoing QE, which only seems to help the banks.

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 8th, 2012 at 04:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is assuming that the GOP or the USSC don't find some way to sabotage this. I simply can't imagine they're gonna sit back and let their corporate overlords be disturbed in any way, especially if this looks to connect to Wall St.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:23:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the defendant is innocent until or unless proved guilty in a court of law
Just like the disclaimer in an episode of 'Cops'. It doesn't have the same ring to it though when not accompanied of a closeup of a 250 pound officer of the law grinding a perps face into the asphalt.
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:39:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 'perp walk' is the more genteel version of what you describe, but that is a disadvantage of having the complaint brought by a state AG against non-state residents. A 'perp walk' in this case would be a milestone.

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 Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 10:39:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The China Money Report - Coverage of the Chinese Equitie

For decades , Asia has performed the role of diligent worker bee. Without a history of Adam Smith and free trade they saw how easy it was to game the free trade system. To this day, Koreans do not buy Japanese goods and Japanese do not buy Korean goods. Neither one will buy U.S. goods. The stuff they do want , like Hollywood movies, they just take. The U.S. took the brunt of the free trade economic carnage as over 50,000 factories have closed down in only the last ten years. No one can labor arbitrage and transfer price their taxes away like corporate America. We are still #1  in that game.

As the Fed printed money, giant speculative asset pricing bubbles occurred. The U.S. got lazy on their housing bubble and focused on the military industrial complex. Once mighty titans GE and GM became housing lenders with "old world" businesses attached to provide cash-flow for the financing sides of the business. Everyone drank the kool-aid.

Now drink this kool-aid, even printing money is no longer an option for the U.S. government. China will print to keep the RMB peg...and combined with the $3.2 trillion in FX reserves they could buy most of the S&P 500 companies. Japan is also printing money like there is no tomorrow. Facing economic carnage in their own country, they are bound to start acquiring Western firms to compete with China. The U.S. now faces defaulting on their debt quickly or becoming a sharecropper to Asia.

h/t max keiser

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 07:46:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:40:28 AM EST
"Raining Bombs" Causing Hundreds to Flee Northern Nigeria - IPS ipsnews.net
KANO, Nigeria, Feb 8, 2012 (IPS) - "I can no longer stay here in Kano as it rains bombs. The gun battles rattle us... Kano is no longer safe," said pregnant Funke Nweke of her decision to flee Nigeria's northern state with her five-year-old daughter.

Nweke grimaced as she held her daughter, Nnenna, while they waited at Kano's most popular motor park to board a bus headed to Nigeria's south. She and her daughter are fleeing the state, as they fear being attacked by the Islamist extremists Boko Haram.

Kano witnessed the worst series of suicide bombings, bombs blasts and gun battles on Jan. 20. According to the president of the Civil Rights Congress, a human rights organisation based in the northern city of Kaduna, 256 people were killed in the fighting. However, the local police authority puts this figure at 184 dead.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:08:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Besieged' Homs endures tank assault - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

The Syrian military is reportedly moving deeper into residential areas in the city of Homs, a day after the Russian foreign minister said President Bashar al-Assad was "fully committed" to ending the bloodshed.

Activists said the army was firing rockets and mortar rounds to subdue opposition districts on Wednesday, as tanks entered the Inshaat neighbourhood and moved closer to Bab Amr.

An activist in Bab Amr told Al Jazeera that the neighbourhood had been under fire for several days.

The army is "shelling us, using rockets, using mortars, using Russian tanks", he said. "Tanks are trying to break into the neighbourhood of Bab Amr."

Activist Hadi al-Abdallah said that at least 43 people were killed overnight in the central city, and other activists reported even higher death tolls.

"Some areas are completely [besieged]. There is no internet, no landlines or mobile lines," Al-Abdallah said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:12:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt PM defends action against NGOs - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Kamal el-Ganzouri, Egypt's military-backed prime minister, has said Egypt will not bow to Western pressure to end its crackdown on foreign-funded non-governmental organisations in the country.

Egypt "won't back down or take a different route because of some aid or other", he announced from the cabinet's headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday.

The military-backed government's campaign against pro-democracy and rights groups began late last year with security force raids on the offices of the organisations.

Ganzouri said Western countries "turned against us" after the crackdown against the NGOs began, and added that his government will not be swayed by US threats to cut off aid to the country.

The US has threatened to withhold the annual $1.3bn aid to Egypt over the dispute.

Judges referred 19 Americans and 24 others to trial on Sunday on accusations they illegally used foreign funds to foment unrest in the country.

The judges say the evidence collected in the case against the Americans includes maps, cash and videos taken of churches and military facilities.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:15:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a list of which NGOs they've cracked down on? I know that one of them is the International Republican Institute (headed by McCain, so it's "Republican", not "republican"). This is a group that welcomed, for example, the unsuccessful coup against Chavez, so they are hardly a "pro-democracy" group. Are the other groups similar, or are they also cracking down on genuine pro-democracy groups?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:23:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read an article on antiwar.com on how the CIA was using a lot of these NGO's to steer the Egyptians in the direction they wanted it to go.  
by stevesim on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:36:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't believe the IRI needs the CIA to steer them anywhere (unless you mean warning them not to go on about "islamofascists").
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It wouldn't surprise me if they hadn't found a way of sticking their oar in, but I doubt they're the determining factor. The Egyptians would have to be mad to trust the US after they supported the previous regime so extensively

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:28:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NGO Prosecution Puts U.S.-Egyptian Ties at Risk - IPS ipsnews.net
Dec. 29 when the authorities raided 17 NGO offices.

The list includes those used by the Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), Freedom House, and the International Center for Journalists, as well as Germany's Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung.

Several Egyptian NGOs, including the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession and the Budgetary and Human Rights Rights Observatory, were also raided.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:37:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The German Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (CDU-affiliated - natch!) is among those hit.

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 Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 05:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ganzouri said...that his government will not be swayed by US threats to cut off aid to the country.

Well, the USA is allegedly trying to reduce spending and here is a counterproductive $3 billion/year item. While we are at it we should not forget that $3 billion a year to Israel was part of the same deal, but no one will think of that until after November, if then. I dream.

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 8th, 2012 at 11:11:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:41:00 AM EST
EU approves organic label for wine | European Voice
Decision will allow EU producers to compete on even-footing with New World winemakers.

Wine producers in the EU will be able to label their products as "organic wine" following a decision adopted today (8 February) by the European Commission's committee on organic farming.

Previously only grapes could be defined as organic, forcing wine producers to label their wines as "wine made from organic grapes." This put them at a disadvantage, they said, because competitors in the United States, Chile, Australia and South Africa could label their wine as organic.

"These rules will boost the development of the market for organic wines," said Uwe Hofman, a member of the IFOAM organic farmers group. "The new rules are a good compromise, even if the level of sulphites reduction will be a challenge for organic wine producers in some EU countries from Central Europe."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IFOAM! I thought that should be the acronym for some right wing US organization, like the Chamber of Commerce.

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 8th, 2012 at 11:13:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
coming soon : Organic pizza wine

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:29:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's exceedingly hard to define what an organic wine might be. It's not only the ingredients, but the methods. Sulphur content has always been the deal-breaker, because the amount you need varies enormously, depending on climate conditions and grape varieties. At the same time, sulphur covers a multitude of sins, and should be minimized. The aim is to fix the threshold low enough that the wine-maker is obliged to be scrupulous, but not so low that the wine goes bad as soon as you ship it.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:36:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Consumers Willing to Buy Sustainable US Cotton

As the interest in environmentally responsible business practices grows globally, researchers are interested in how that interest translates into consumer sales. Researchers from the University of Missouri have found that United States consumers are more willing to buy clothing made from sustainably grown U.S. cotton than apparel produced using conventional practices in an unknown location.

Jung Ha-Brookshire, an assistant professor in the textile and apparel management department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU, says transparency is the key.

"It is important for the apparel industry to remain transparent about its products, especially if they are produced in a sustainable manner," Ha-Brookshire said.

"We have shown that consumers want to know where their clothes come from and would rather buy sustainably produced clothes. Many apparel companies use sustainable practices; however, they don't promote them very well."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:35:03 PM EST
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Brazil to lead world in biotech crops: association

Brazil is on course to dislodge the United States as the world's top producer of biotech crops in the coming years, a leading promoter of farm biotechnology said Tuesday.

The US currently holds the lead with 69 million hectares (170 million acres) under biocrop cultivation in 2011, ahead of Brazil with 30.3 million, Argentina with 23.7 million and India with 10.6 million, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) said.

But USAAA, a government-funded international body promoting the use of farm biotechnology, particularly in developing countries, said Brazil was last year the engine of global biocrop growth, with 4.9 more million hectares, up 20 percent from 2010.

Speaking in a teleconference from the Philippines, ISAAA President Clive James said that while the United States was currently well ahead, "Brazil is closing the gap very quickly" and bringing in new biocrops like sugar cane.

Brazil has eight million hectares of sugar, the largest hectareage in the world, and is expected to increase it by 50 percent in the next five years for both ethanol and sugar production, he noted.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:36:48 PM EST
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Yangtze river pollution sparks panic in China

A cargo ship spilled acid into China's longest river last week, contaminating tap supplies and sparking a run on bottled water in eastern China, the government and state media said.

It is the nation's second water pollution scare in a month, after factories in the southern region of Guangxi contaminated water supplies for millions with toxic cadmium and other waste in January.

The ship, reportedly South Korean, was docked in Zhenjiang city on the Yangtze river last Thursday when it leaked phenol -- an acid used in detergents -- into the water because of a faulty valve, local authorities reported.

Residents started complaining their tap water had a strange smell on Friday, and soon rumours that a capsized ship was polluting the river sparked a run on bottled water in at least two cities in Jiangsu province, the Shanghai Daily said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:37:10 PM EST
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Sugar low: Do sweeteners need to be regulated? | Grist

A recent op-ed published in the journal Nature, by several scientists who are experts in their field, has the pundits all aflutter. But the subject is somewhat surprising: Sweeteners. (Nutrition professor Marion Nestle has posted the full PDF of the article here.)

Drs. Robert Lustig (a minor YouTube celebrity since his 2009 lecture on fructose), Laura Schmidt, and Claire Brindis argue that added sweeteners of all kinds -- including sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and all their oddly-named ilk (that means you, maltodextrin!) -- have as many negative health effects as alcohol and should be regulated.

Responses have come from all over the food politics spectrum -- from Raj Patel in The Atlantic, who took to dreaming of a world where large corporations aren't in charge of feeding us, to Jennifer LaRue Huget on the Washington Post's Checkup blog, who just wants everyone to  get off her lawn leave such issues to personal responsibility.

Others have expressed scorn toward the group of scientists for addressing policy at all. This opinion can be summed up by a tweet from reporter Dan Mitchell that read, "Scientists need to set a much higher bar for proposing policy measures."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:41:24 PM EST
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"Scientists need to set a much higher bar for proposing policy measures."

But -- why should we so discriminate against scientists?

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 8th, 2012 at 11:17:20 PM EST
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Because it's actually possible to set a bar.

With pseudosciences such as economics, there's no point in setting a bar since it's not enforceable.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 03:55:59 AM EST
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I was thinking of Shockley on human genetics and behavior. But certainly when proposing policies with science based aspects...

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 Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 10:25:32 AM EST
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Newest insult: calling someone a minor you-tube celebrity.
Excess sugar actually ferments in the digestive tract, producing a bit of alcohol. That's part of the reason you see so many recovering alcoholics popping hard candies and washing them down with Coke at AA meetings.  
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 05:03:06 AM EST
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Just came across these interesting diaries at dkos:

Daily Kos: "Winter Deep Freeze Will Cause Breakdown of German Electric Grid"

Well, at least that is what pro-nuke advocates predicted when Germany shut down its eight oldest nuclear power plants last year and decided to drive towards a renewable energy future. The recent deep freeze in Europe has, however, proven that to be thoroughly untrue. Recently, it is, in fact, nuclear-dominated France that is having problems covering its electricity needs because of the severe cold snap.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:09:36 AM EST
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This second one is a bid older, hope there hasn't been a link to it.

Daily Kos: Into the Future with Renewables: Q&A LiveBlog with German Green Party Energy Expert

This Q&A was organized to give members of DK an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about what Germany's energy policy really is about live and from a reliable source. There is a lot of misleading information being tossed around about Germany's energy policy, and criticism of that country for its alleged shortsightedness, even stupidity, in embarking on this challenging path into the future. I hope there will be a lively discussion that will spark ideas of how the United States may adopt some of Germany's policies to develop green energy sources and create thousands of jobs that can't be exported overseas. One size doesn't fit all, of course, but Germany is blazing a new trail in this area, and hopes to be an example to many of how we can put the brakes on climate change and leave the earth a better place for future generations.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 12:11:11 AM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:41:21 AM EST
BBC News - Apple seeks change to 'essential' patent licence rules

Apple has asked for more clarity over how patents deemed crucial to industry standards should be handled.

The firm wrote a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in November, which has now been reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The iPhone maker called for "more consistent and transparent" application of rules designed to ensure that such intellectual properties were licensed.

Both Samsung and Motorola Mobility have sued Apple over "essential" patents.

The document has since been published in full on the Foss Patents blog.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:53:02 PM EST
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BBC News - Lake Vostok drilling team claims breakthrough

Russian scientists are reporting success in their quest to drill into Lake Vostok, a huge body of liquid water buried under the Antarctic ice.

It is the first time such a breakthrough has been made into one of the more than 300 sub-glacial lakes known to exist on the White Continent.

Researchers believe Vostok can give them some fresh insights into the frozen history of Antarctica.

They also hope to find microbial lifeforms that are new to science.

"This fills my soul with joy," said Valery Lukin, from Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St Petersburg, which has been overseeing the project,

"This will give us the possibility to biologically evaluate the evolution of living organisms... because those organisms spent a long time without contact with the atmosphere, without sunlight," he was quoted as saying in a translation of national media reports by BBC Monitoring.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 01:56:00 PM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:41:40 AM EST
BBC Sport - Capello quits as England manager

Fabio Capello has resigned as England manager, the Football Association has confirmed.

Capello resigned after a meeting with FA chairman David Bernstein and general secretary Alex Horne at Wembley.

An FA statement read: "The Football Association can confirm that Fabio Capello has today resigned as England manager."

On Monday, the Italian publicly challenged the FA's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:44:36 PM EST
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Harry Redknapp favourite for England job following not-guilty verdict | UK news | The Guardian
William Hill changed its odds on Redknapp becoming England's next manager from 2/1 to 1/2, while Paddy Power's odds moved from 15/8 to 10/11.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 02:47:14 PM EST
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much tho' I want england to win everything, let's be honest, it's never gonna happen. We breed stupid footballers here, good at running and some have a certain animal cunning in their play, but they're never going to challenge the great national teams.

So I'd hate to see another good manager leave an excellent team, especially one he's painstakingly built over 3 years just at the point where they're making a serious challenge in the top 4.

Disclaimer : I am not now, nor have ever been, a Spurs supporter

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:35:29 AM EST
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A clever decision, the inevitable humiliation of our performance at the euros would have damaged his reputation as a manager. This way he goes out looking principled and resolute.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 01:32:05 AM EST
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Poll: God's approval rating at 52 percent - Times Union
9 percent disapprove, 40 percent unsure

More than half of U.S. voters approve of God's job performance, according to a new poll, making God more popular than all members of Congress.

The poll -- which was conducted by the Democratic research firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) -- surveyed 928 people and found that 52 percent of Americans approved of God's overall dealings, while only 9 percent disapproved.

...

The poll also gauged God's handling of specific "issues." When asked to rate God on the creation of the universe, 71 percent of voters approved and only 5 percent disapproved. Respondents were also generally appreciative of God's governance of the "animal kingdom," with 56 percent approving and 11 percent disapproving.

Younger respondents were more critical of God's handling of natural disasters, with those ages 18-29 expressing a 26 percent disapproval rating, compared to 12 percent disapproval among those 65 and older.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 04:22:17 PM EST
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