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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 12 March

by dvx Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 01:34:53 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Non-Europeans on this date in history:

1930 - Mahatma Gandhi leads a 200-mile march, known as the Salt March, to the sea in defiance of British opposition, to protest the British monopoly on salt.

More here and here

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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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:02:29 PM EST
Center-left wins landslide victory in Slovakia's elections | News | DW.DE | 11.03.2012

The center-left Smer-Social Democracy party has decisively won the parliamentary election in Slovakia. The party's landslide victory would allow it to govern alone.

Slovakia's center-left Smer-Social Democracy party on Sunday won a parliamentary majority in elections, with party leader Robert Fico pledging to support the European Union and a strong eurozone.

With more than 95 percent of polling stations reporting, Smer looked set to secure around 45 percent of the vote and 84 seats in the 150-member parliament, according to Slovakia's Statistics Office.

"The program will be pro-European... we want the eurozone preserved and the euro as a strong European currency," said Fico.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With more than 95 percent of polling stations reporting, Smer looked set to secure around 45 percent of the vote and 84 seats in the 150-member parliament, according to Slovakia's Statistics Office.

DoDo?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 05:25:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 10:04:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, missed that.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 10:07:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Economist already has the neolib spin on this victory:

Slovakia's election: Slovakia turns left | The Economist

Mr Fico's number two, Robert Kaliňák, told me that Smer knows tough times and unpopular decisions lie ahead. He said the government would be "candid". To squeeze the budget deficit below 3% of GDP by 2013, as the EU's new fiscal compact demands, the government will have to find savings worth €1.85 billion. Mr Kaliňák said the 19% flat-tax rate, the flagship policy of the reformist centre-right government of the early 2000s, would have to go.

Mr Fico, who served as prime minister between 2006 and 2010, used to have a reputation as a spendthrift and abuser of power. Some are concerned that in his second stint in office he may try to emulate the failed populist measures of his southern neighbour, Viktor Orbán in Hungary. That seems unlikely. Slovakia's new prime minister will, one hopes, act with the great responsibility that comes with great power.

I don't know where they heard that Fico has a reputation as "spendthrift"... And "responsibility" again means austerity. At least The Economist now doesn't oppose a tax raise on the rich, even if not saying so explicitly (it is the elimination of the flat tax).

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

by DoDo on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 10:17:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thousands of 999 police axed as spending cuts hit frontline numbers | UK news | The Observer

The number of police dealing with 999 emergencies has fallen by more than 5,000 since the last general election, according to new figures that seriously undermine David Cameron's pledge to be defending "frontline" forces from spending cuts.

The figures, compiled from responses to freedom of information requests from all 43 forces in England and Wales, are a severe embarrassment to the government, which has insisted that its 20% funding cuts will not compromise public safety or the fight against crime.

Labour described the job losses among so-called "first responders" - those following up on 999 calls - as "shocking" and said they raised new questions about whether the public could trust the government.

Only last month Cameron told the Commons that the percentage of frontline officers was actually increasing. Ministers have claimed more officers are being switched to the "sharp end" as back office jobs go and police bureaucracy is reduced. But the new data, supplied by the forces themselves and verified independently by the House of Commons library, shows a fall of 5,261 in the number of officers defined as "first responders" between March 2010 and December last year.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:05:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual, politicians and senior managers don't understand how jobs get done in the real world. As far as they're concerned, all of policing involves either bobbies on the beat or sitting in high performance cars on motorways doing glamorous "interceptor" work. The idea that police work necessarily involves a large amount of paper work for legal and court purposes which needs filing is beyond their comprehension.

So they get rid of the non-police desk workers who answer emergency calls and all of these task and discover to their horror that, instead of these functions disappearing, police have to be diverted from their tasks to do these jobs instead. Why, who could have predicted ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:12:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neo-Nazis cloak themselves in eco-rhetoric | Environment | DW.DE | 08.03.2012

They're into organic farming, oppose GMOs and worry about endangered species. Experts say neo-Nazis are increasingly cashing in on themes of the environmental movement to attract new supporters.

"Environmental protection should be inherent to cultural progress." That's a statement that could easily be attributed to any environmentalist group. Instead it comes from the National Democratic Party (NPD), a far-right but still legal German party, and it's another sign of how right-wing groups are increasingly latching on to environmental topics.

The connection between right-wing extremism and environmentalism is not new, but experts believe the growing trend represents a real threat, because it helps push extremist views into the mainstream.

Two recent publications have responded, seeking to educate the public by explaining what's behind such efforts, and debunking certain lines of reasoning within them.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:05:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German court rules hotels can ban right-wing extremists | News | DW.DE | 10.03.2012

German hotels have the right to turn away far-right extremists for their political views, according to a court ruling. The case struggled to reconcile the principles of freedom and equality.

Germany's highest appellate court for criminal and civil cases ruled on Friday that hotels can refuse service to right-wing extremists.

The Federal Court of Justice said that although hotels have the right to refuse service to guests based on their political orientation, they cannot retroactively cancel bookings for this reason. The case arose when the spa hotel Esplanade in the eastern German state of Brandenburg refused to honor a booking made by the former head of the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD), Udo Voigt, in 2009.

The hotel had argued that Voigt's polarizing political views were not reconcilable with its goal of offering an "excellent wellness experience" to all of its guests. Voigt had booked a four-day stay with his wife before the reservation was canceled by the hotel. He subsequently sued Esplanade for 7,500 euros ($9,915) on the grounds of discrimination.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:06:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservatives have long since jumped on the enviromentalist boat, most notably in waste disposal. Extremists are just following suit. In the 90's in Italy the post fascist party began its own ecological movement in Campania, although one must concide that over time the post-fascist party moved to slightly more moderate positions.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:13:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservatives have long since jumped on the enviromentalist boat, most notably in waste disposal.

So did Tony Soprano.....

by Euroliberal on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:43:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose Tony was inspired by waste disposal in Campania. The manipulation of waste there helped bring down the last Prodi government- and firmly place waste transport in the hands of the Camorra.

For what it's worth, Berlusconi's single largest foreign contributor to his electoral campaign in 2000 was a Houston-based (formerly Florida) waste management company. And Berlusconi, if ever it need repeating, is the closest thing to rightwing tyranny Europe has managed to spawn in recent times. It's no wonder he attends fascio-nazi gatherings where he is hailed orgiastically as the usual duce, fuhrer or whatever the fuck goes in those circles. Orban is his fitting heir.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 07:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nick Clegg and Vince Cable split on tycoon tax | Politics | The Guardian

Nick Clegg has appeared to row back from a proposal for a tycoon tax built round a minimum tax rate. Clegg had said he was attracted by Barack Obama's idea of a tycoon tax in which the rich are required to pay a proportion of their income in tax. President Obama has made the Buffett rule - mandating that millionaires pay at least 30% of their incomes in taxes - the centrepiece of his campaign for "fairness", including in his State of the Union address last month.

But in a speech to the Liberal Democrat spring conference on Sunday, Clegg made no reference to a minimum tax for the rich, saying more broadly: "We will call time on the tycoon tax dodgers and make sure everyone pays a fair level of tax."

Lord Oakeshott, the wealthy Liberal Democrat peer and close ally of the business secretary, Vince Cable, had described Clegg's proposal as "a superficially attractive measure that falls apart under scrutiny and does nothing to do with the super rich non-doms and non-residents".



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:06:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One should note that Clegg, who was a conservative member at university, comes from a wealthy landed background and is worth a couple of million as well as owning nice houses

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:15:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And is married to the daughter of a former PP Senator from Spain.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:55:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ken Livingstone derides tax avoidance claims as smear campaign | Politics | The Guardian

Ken Livingstone, the Labour party candidate for mayor of London, has defended himself against accusations of tax avoidance, claiming he is the victim of a smear campaign.

He said money paid into the accounts of the limited company owned by him and his wife, Emma Beal, was used to pay people he employed and he made no financial gain by the arrangement.

Livingstone has been accused of hypocrisy for attacking tax avoidance by others while allegedly avoiding tax himself. He recently said: "These rich bastards just don't get it ... no one should be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in parliament, unless they pay their full share of tax.

"Cameron's problem is too many of his team have become super rich by exploiting every tax fiddle ... [We should] sweep away tax scams and everybody should pay tax at the same rate on earnings and other income."



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:06:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
everybody should pay tax at the same rate on earnings and other income.

Is he advocating a flat tax there, or whut?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 02:31:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he appears to be denouncing the sort of loophole he has been accused of exploiting: (funneling income through a screen company to pay a lower rate on it)
he writes an opinion piece, his company is paid for it, on the rationale that he has to pay a researcher to write it for him

he would seem to be advocating that he should be paying the income tax rate on any profits from the company, which sounds fair to me

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

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 03:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Call for boycott of Eurovision in Azerbaijan - Europe - Al Jazeera English

There are calls for a boycott of this year's Eurovision song contest in Azerbaijan due to the country's poor human rights record and dissident clampdown.

The Eurovision song contest with be held in the capital, Baku, in May after Azerbaijan won the competition in 2011.

The authorities in Azerbaijan are making the occasion of hosting the contest as a centrepiece of its efforts to make Baku an international cultural capital.

A TV audience of about 125 million viewers from 42 countries is expected.

Already the competition has caused controversy as last month Human Rights Watch, the New York-based organisation, criticised the forcible evictions of people from their homes, sometimes without warning or in the middle of the night, to make way for "city beautification" before Eurovision.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy threatens 'to close' France's borders - Europe - Al Jazeera English
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, threatened in a key election rally to pull France out of Europe's 25-nation visa free zone unless the EU does more to keep out clandestine immigrants.

Sarkozy, who this week said France had too many foreigners, made the threat at a mass meeting which he hopes will turn the tide against front-running Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party's presidential candidate, with just 42 days to go before election day.

The so-called Schengen passport-free zone must urgently be overhauled to fight the flow of illegal immigration, the right-wing leader said, returning to a constant theme in his bid for five more years at the Elysee palace.

To chants of "Nicolas, president!" from the tens of thousands in the flag-waving audience, Sarkozy said unchecked immigration would put extra strain on social safety nets for Europe's poorest.


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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarko is going to save France.

At the end of a decade of Sarko in power, it needs saving.

You can't make this shit up.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 02:33:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel and Sarko are well on their way to destroying Europe in order to save it.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:40:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Greece is preparing for elections
Evangelos Venizelos emerged as the only candidate to lead the Greek Socialists, after the other candidates failed to garner support; New Democracy commands a wide lead in the polls, but not sufficient for a majority; the support for smaller fringe parties is rising, including a party headed by a former Samaras deputy, who runs on anti-EU and anti-IMF platform; Wolfgang Schauble once again criticised the timing of the Greek elections; the eurogroup meets today to take the final decision on the bailout;on Friday, ISDA voted to trigger the Greek CDS - with a net payout likely to be about €3bn; the WSJ said the net payout is too small to represent a systemic danger; the FT reports that some investors are angry that the decision was triggered only because of the CACs, rather than the debt swap itself; Belgium extends austerity programme, as the economy contracts; measures include tax on tobacco, postponement of military procurement, and reduced foreign aid; Spain is likely to come under more pressure over its deficit, but the European Commission is unlikely to take action, for as long as Spain is committed to the (wholly unrealistic) 3% target in 2013; Nicolas Sarkozy threatens to withdraw from Schengen unless other member states tighten border controls; Donald Tusk has become the next prime minister to snub Francois Hollande by refusing to see him; Wolfgang Munchau welcomes the arrival of partisan politics in intra-eurozone relations, arguing that this reflects the eurozone's increasingly political nature; Wolfgang Schauble and other finance ministers lobby the Commission for a fast legislative proposal of a financial transactions tax; the BIS applauded the ECB's non-standard measures; Slovakia's Robert Fico, meanwhile, won a landslide election victory, as the country turns its back on a eurosceptic and corrupt government.


There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 05:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hollande snubbed by Tusk

On his visit to Poland Francois Hollande was snubbed by Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister this weekend, Le Monde reports. Despite the best efforts of his team Nicolas Sarkozy's Socialist challenger did not get an appointment with the Polish centre-right politician. Hollande has so far been unable to meet any head of government of any of the big EU or eurozone countries. This seems to confirm that there is indeed an agreement among conservative leaders to snub the candidate because of his electoral promise not to accept the fiscal pact and to seek to renegotiate it once elected. In an interview with Der Spiegel Hollande reaffirmed his stance. It was necessary ,,to complement the consolidation policy by growth", he explained. Who ,,besides a few people in Germany could seriously believe that we can reduce our deficits without growth," he asked. Hollande added that he was in favour of ,,introducing Eurobonds against the speculation". However he reiterated his opposition to letting the ECJ interfere with national budgetary policy. Hollande continues to lead over Sarkozy in all polls by a comfortable margin.

Wolfgang Munchau on the arrival on partisan party politics across borders

In his FT column Wolfgang Munchau welcomes Angela Merkel's overt support for Nicolas Sarkozy in his election campaign. He says it reflects the fact that more sovereignty is shifted to the level of the eurozone. He says that Francois Holllande and the German SPD view the fiscal compact not as a Franco-German project, but as a project of the centre-right, and it is perfectly natural for the two to align their positions. Pan-European parties have failed in the past, so this alignment of political parties is highly desirable. Munchau speculates on what will happen to the pact if Hollande were to win the elections. He predicts that, in this case, he will try to re-negotiate some essential elements, and that he, too, will not support Merkel in 2013.

Unfortunately, it's been the EPP and not a more positive political force that has spearheaded true pan-european political action.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 05:22:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right on.

Since the European Council is the only significant seat of decision-making (at least in a crisis), it's a refreshing change to see actual political alignment at work instead of the ususal struggles for national advantage. And the only hope for change in economic policy on a European level is to shift the balance of power in the EC. (Fico's win in Slovakia can't hurt.)

Game on.

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

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:02:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I met some of Radicova's foreign service specialists last year and was surprised to see how keenly they missed George Bush, and how much they disliked Obama.

Is it true that changing tax policy in Slovakia is a matter of changing the constitution? Why would tax policy be immortalized in a constitution?

by Upstate NY on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 01:47:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would budgetary discipline be enshrined in a constitution?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 01:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Errr, good point.
by Upstate NY on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 02:18:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thou shalt have no fiscal policy.

Didn't you guys get the memo?

These are 1990's constitutions. They reflect the serious consensus of the day.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 02:23:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, except it isn't there.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 13th, 2012 at 03:05:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it true that changing tax policy in Slovakia is a matter of changing the constitution?

I never heard of that, nor did I find any evidence, but found counter-evidence: back in 2003, the flat tax reform was approved by 78 deputies (out of 150), while the constitutional majority is 90; and the situation doesn't appear to have changed since given that PM-to-be Fico is talking of tax policy changes as a matter of fact. However, the situation you describe applies in Hungary since Fidesz imposed its new constitution at the start of this year.

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

by DoDo on Tue Mar 13th, 2012 at 03:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The article above must be incorrect.
by Upstate NY on Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 10:06:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which article do you mean? There are three articles quoted in this diary that mention Slovakia, only one of which (the Economist article I quoted) mentions taxes and the constitution, but in different, unrelated paragraphs.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 12:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find myself at a loss since I just read an article about Fico's victory ad the impending battle in Slovakia over taxes (which mentioned the constitutional issue, and I thought I had linked to it from this thread, but apparently I have not.
by Upstate NY on Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 12:33:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you can find that article, I would be grateful.

At any rate, in the meantime I found the official 11 December 2003 parliamentary record, which lists the final vote on the flat tax reform as before-last item ("Zákon z 28. októbra 2003 o Justičnej akadémii a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov..."), which confirms the 78 yes votes, while 39 voted against, 6 abstained, and 14 were absent.

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

by DoDo on Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 01:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tried and failed unfortunately.
by Upstate NY on Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 02:12:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Checking the news, I found one specific constitutional issue mentioned: the rlimination of the immunity of MPs for economic crimes, which became an issue after the Gorila scandal. Regardin the tax plans, I only found the moaning of neoliberal economists and think-tanks and business lobbies, which again confirms that it depends on Smer's simple majority only.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 01:23:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seen on twitter...

Reuters Breakingviews blog: Hollande's sins more those of omission By Hugo Dixon

There is a risk that, caught in his campaign anti-capitalist rhetoric, Hollande might have no other choice than actually trying to implement some of these proposals to the letter. The more he insists that he wants "substantial" changes to the euro treaty, for example, the more difficult it will be for him to climb down once he is president.

...

Other euro zone countries, such as Italy and Spain, are being forced by the crisis to reform. But France is not. Ten-year bond yields, at 2.9 percent, are admittedly 1.1 percentage points more than Germany's, but that's still a lot less than Italy's and Spain's levels of 4.8 percent and 5 percent respectively. To be fair, Sarkozy is now talking about supply-side measures such as cutting social security payroll taxes. But he wasted the opportunity to reform during the last five years and is unlikely to be given another chance. Hollande, meanwhile, isn't even talking about such matters - and is keeping characteristically mum about how he will cut public spending.

This suggests two main scenarios for a Hollande presidency. One is that financial markets calm down, there is no reform and France wastes another five years. The other is that a new phase of the euro crisis erupts, forcing Hollande to embrace reform at last. But given his failure to prepare the French people for change, and their predilection for taking to the streets to protest at reductions in their privileges, this could be a rocky ride.

Clearly the neoliberal view...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
His options are do nothing or implement "reform"?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 07:01:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French people protesting against a reduction in their privileges?

How very 1789.

(Astonishing ignorance displayed in his choice of words. In his defense, he is English.)

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

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 07:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:02:47 PM EST
Greek debt swap triggers massive payouts - FT.com

Billions of dollars are to be paid out in insurance-like instruments as Greece on Friday pressed ahead with the largest ever sovereign debt restructuring.

In a test case for markets, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, the derivatives trade body, announced there would be a pay-out, or credit event, for holders of credit default swaps.

It means there will be a net pay-out of about $3bn on CDS contracts, according to the data warehouse Depository Trust & Clearing Corp, in a boost for the relatively new market in sovereign debt protection that could also benefit eurozone debt markets amid worries that a failure to trigger could have undermined an important hedging instrument for holding government bonds.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB calls for tougher rules on budgets - FT.com

The European Central Bank has sharpened its hardline stance on eurozone fiscal policy by urging the still-tougher policing of member states' public finances, including by "naming and shaming" the worst offenders.

The eurozone debt crisis has led to a revamp of the bloc's fiscal rules, culminating in a German-inspired treaty enshrining tougher discipline, which was agreed in January.

But in a report on proposed European Union regulations to monitor budgets better and strengthen the surveillance of countries in difficulties, the ECB makes clear it sees significant scope for further improvement.

The German-led focus on eurozone fiscal discipline has worried many economists elsewhere in the eurozone and beyond. But Mario Draghi, the ECB president, has argued that stronger rules are essential for the eurozone's future.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:15:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Canada Says It Expects Free-Trade Agreement With Europe by End of the Year - Bloomberg

Canada said it expects to have a free trade deal with Europe completed by the end of this year.

"The major issues are now dealt with," Gordon Campbell, Canada's High Commissioner to the U.K. and former premier of British Columbia, said in an interview today on CTV's "Question Period" television show.

"We've got some very intense negotiations going on, but I think by the end of the year we will have a deal ready for consideration," Campbell said.

The debt crisis in Europe, where the continent's leaders have been working to stave off a Greek default, shouldn't be a hurdle to a free trade deal, Campbell said. Europe's economy is still massive and the Canada-Europe Free Trade Association Agreement would lead to 80,000 new jobs in Canada, and add C$12 billion ($12.1 billion) to the economy, or C$1,000 on average, to the paycheck of every Canadian, he said.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:15:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, if there's a free trade agreement iwth Canada, and canada has a free trade agreeement via the US with Mexico, the Phillipines and the Marianas, does that mean that all manufacturing is going to offshore like it did under NAFTA ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China Inflation May Provide Room for Stimulus: Economy - Bloomberg

China's inflation eased to the slowest pace in 20 months while new loans, industrial output and retail sales were below analysts' forecasts, boosting the case for easing monetary policy in the world's second-biggest economy.

Consumer prices gained 3.2 percent in February from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Local-currency loans were 710.7 billion yuan ($113 billion) in February. Factory production rose 11.4 percent in January and February combined and retail sales advanced 14.7 percent. Data in the first two months of the year are distorted by a weeklong holiday.

Asian stocks rallied on a debt deal in Greece and speculation that China's moderating inflation and growth will lead the ruling Communist Party to loosen policy. Citigroup Inc. says a cut in banks' reserve requirements may come as soon as this month, while the government also has more room to boost wages and ease price controls on energy and water.

"Today's data, with surprisingly low retail sales and output continuing to weaken, point to economic growth further cooling to 8 percent or lower this quarter," said Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup in Hong Kong. Data this month may show further worsening if the government fails to cut banks' reserve requirements for the third time since November, he said.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:15:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2009 - Financier Bernard Madoff pleads guilty in New York to scamming $18 billion, the largest in Wall Street history.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:03:03 PM EST
Afghans killed in rampage by US soldier - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

Sixteen Afghan civilians including three women and nine children have been shot dead in their homes by a rogue US soldier in a pre-dawn rampage.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the slaughter on Sunday as "unforgivable" and furiously demanded an explanation from Washington.

"When Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action," Karzai said in statement.

Senior US officials were scrambling to determine what caused the soldier to go on a shooting spree after leaving his base in southern Afghanistan, apparently heavily-armed and carrying night-vision equipment.

Officials confirmed that the soldier was being detained in Kandahar and that the military was treating at least five wounded.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American Is Held After Shooting of Civilians in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com

PANJWAI, Afghanistan -- Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Aghanistan early Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. At the first, the man gathered 11 bodies, including those of four girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.

Coming after a period of deepening public outrage, spurred by the Koran burning by American personnel last month and an earlier video showing American Marines urinating on dead militants, the apparently unprovoked killings added to feeling of siege here among Western personnel. And officials described a growing sense of concern over a cascading series of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission and has left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Append a "Who could have predicted?" tag on this one.
by Andhakari on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 03:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deaths as blast targets Nigerian church - Africa - Al Jazeera English

At least four people have been killed after a car laden with explosives detonated outside a Catholic church in central Nigeria.

The bomber was apparently stopped before his car entered the church compound in the city of Jos, a rescue official said.

"There are rumours of reprisals from Christian youths, but we hope the security agents are on top of the situation as they have cordoned off the area"

- Al Hassan Aliyu,
Jos co-ordinator for NEMA

It was unclear whether the church service was going on at the time of the attack.

A Reuters news agency reporter at the scene of the bombing was unable to gain access, as the police had cordoned off the area around Finber's Catholic Church in the Rayfield suburb.

"We haven't got actual figures of injured yet, but at least three people have been confirmed dead by our men attending the scene of the blast," the Jos co-ordinator for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Al Hassan Aliyu said.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:31:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Annan 'optimistic' after Syria meeting - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria has said he was optimistic after a second round of talks with President Bashar al-Assad but acknowledged it would be difficult to reach a deal to halt the bloodshed.

"It's going to be tough. It's going to be difficult but we have to have hope," he told reporters in Damascus on Sunday. "I am optimistic for several reasons," he said, citing a general desire for peace in Syria.

Annan told reporters he had left "concrete proposals" with Assad, and called for an immediate halt to the killings in Syria, where the United Nations says Assad's forces have killed 7,500 people in a year-long crackdown on protests. Authorities say 2,000 soldiers have been killed by insurgents.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:03:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- Months after the United States sided with rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad, senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged Friday that not only could Assad survive the uprising, but also that they couldn't say with confidence that the opposition represents a majority of the Syrian people.

While the officials said they believed that the odds were against Assad remaining in power, they don't expect anything approaching a quick resolution to a conflict that began last year as peaceful protests and have since morphed into a near-civil war.

"Our sense is right now he's very much in charge," of their military operations, one U.S. official said. Another noted, "He (Assad) might survive this." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The intelligence assessments run counter to a message voiced with confidence for months by senior administration officials including President Barack Obama, who told a White House news conference on Tuesday that "ultimately, this dictator will fall."

Perhaps more fundamentally, the analysis calls into question an American foreign policy that has been based on the idea that Assad's regime is overwhelmed and doomed.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WikiLeaks: Stratfor emails say Chavez betrayed FARC to appease generals | McClatchy

MIAMI -- The extradition to Venezuela of alleged drug trafficker Walid Makled occurred in the context of an intense diplomatic chess game where President Hugo Chávez sacrificed Colombian guerrillas to capture the dangerous pawn, who kept his government in check, according to emails from a private security firm obtained by WikiLeaks.

The reports, from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, highlight the pressure applied by National Armed Forces' high-ranking officers to push Chávez into negotiations with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' government.

Makled, accused by the United States of being "a king among the drug lords," was extradited to Caracas in May although the Venezuelan entrepreneur also faced an extradition request from Washington.

The entrepreneur, who months before had been detained in Colombia, said in various interviews that he was willing to collaborate with U.S. authorities to avoid being extradited to his own country.

Among the various revelations offered from his prison cell, Makled acknowledged that important Chávez officials were on his payroll, including high-ranking Armed Forces officials, according to some of the more than five million emails revealed by WikiLeaks.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:04:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt clears 'virginity test' military doctor - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

A military court in Egypt has acquitted a doctor who had been accused of forcing female protesters to undergo virginity tests.

Ahmed Adel was cleared because the judge found contradictions in witness statements, Egypt's state-run Mena news agency reported on Sunday.

The case was brought by one of the women, Samira Ibrahim, who said the "tests" took place after they had been detained during protests last year.

As many as 18 came forward saying they were violated last year during the revolution.

The verdict cannot be appealed. The court denied that such tests were carried out.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:05:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So a military court finds a military man innocent of acts of indecency carried out as part of a military sanctioned programme to intimidate women that they now deny ever existed.

What was achieved last year exactly ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:23:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently it proved the ignorance of Foe News viewers. The didn't know that the Egyptian revolution succeeded. Which it did so people can go home now and everyone who still complains is probably a high ranking Al Qaeda member.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 08:49:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NAACP to challenge state voting laws before U.N. panel in Geneva | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- Taking a page from its past, the NAACP will go before a United Nations panel in Switzerland next week to argue that new voting laws approved by some U.S. states violate civil and human rights by suppressing the votes of minorities and others.

A delegation from the venerable civil rights organization will present its case in Geneva on Wednesday before the United Nations Human Rights Council, a body that normally addresses troubles in places such as Libya, Syria and the Ivory Coast.

The Geneva appearance is part of an NAACP strategy rooted in the 1940s and 1950s, when the group looked to the United Nations and the international community for support in its domestic battle for civil rights for blacks and against lynching.

"It was in 1947 that W.E.B. Dubois delivered his speech and appealed to the world at the U.N.," NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said Thursday. "Now, like then, the principal concern is voting rights. The past year more states in this country have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than any point since Jim Crow."



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ken Griffin, Billionaire Romney Backer, Says Super Rich Have 'An Insufficient Influence' On Politics

A billionaire backer of Mitt Romney said that the wealthy have "an insufficient influence" on politics and policy.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel was asked if he thought rich people had too great of an influence on politics.

"I think they actually have an insufficient influence," he responded. "Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet."

He also told the Tribune that he believes he should be able to donate an unlimited amount of money to SuperPACs.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The bottom line is that all modern democracies are aristocratic. The masses have no real power to check the or limit the prevarications of the elite. Griffen simply wants more than everything the elite already have or control.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 06:15:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He never mentions democracy at all in his interview. I suppose he is no different from most people in believing that what is good for him personally and what is good for the country as a whole are one and the same thing.

But when you have so much more than anyone else, increasing that has a disproportionate and contrary effect on everyone else. I guess the US, like everyone else, has to decide who the state exists to serve; the majority or the rich minority. It's becoming Either/Or these days

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 04:31:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My position has been that modern "representative" governments are so construed to always favour the oligarchy. Calling a modern republic a "democracy" is just PR. Electoral systems will always favour the elites and their interests, their freedoms, at the expense of the commoners.

In the States there are two major elite parties, one which openly favours the elite and another that takes a wink at the masses for a modicum of social peace- and I do not say social justice.

I see no reason why democracy must be qualified as such through electoral systems. Electoral systems tend to favour oligarghic republics. Smudgy fingers every four years is a joke, all the more so when exported with bombs.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:05:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My use of the term "modern democracies" is conventional in my first comment. It's obvious that one who wishes to contribute unlimited resources to campaigns would use the the same term, as electoral systems are the fig leaves of so-called democracies. There are other locutions: the neutral "constitutional republic," or more to the point, "oligarghic republic."

Griffen is openly advocating oligarchy, or rather, more oligarchy than is presently accepted. He clearly advocates what the electoral system is all about: which elite can outspend the other elite to put their boy in office.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
"Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet."

Greater weasel words were seldom spoken.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 02:40:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:03:20 PM EST
Fracking likely caused series of Ohio quakes, officials say | McClatchy

WASHINGTON - The injection of wastewater from natural gas drilling into a disposal well probably caused a dozen earthquakes in Ohio, state officials said Friday, prompting new regulations to deal with the issue.

The findings about the probable cause of the earthquakes, which occurred in the Youngstown area between March and late December 2011, are certain to intensify an increasingly bitter debate about the safety of hydraulic fracturing within states that sit atop natural gas deposits.

Hydraulic fracturing injects sand and water laced with chemicals into the earth at high pressure to break apart shale rock formations and free natural gas trapped inside. The process, also known as fracking, creates wastewater that must be disposed of, often by injecting it into a disposal well, as companies did in Northeast Ohio.

"After investigating all available geological formation and well activity data, ODNR regulators and geologists found a number of co-occurring circumstances strongly indicating the Youngstown area earthquakes were induced," state officials stated. "Specifically, evidence gathered by state officials suggests fluid from the Northstar 1 disposal well intersected an unmapped fault in a near-failure state of stress causing movement along that fault."



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:30:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan marks twin disaster anniversary - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Japan is marking the first anniversary of a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in the northeastern part of the country, which triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

More than 19,000 people died or went missing in the March 11 twin natural disasters, which also destroyed more than 370,000 houses.

At 05:46 GMT, the precise moment when the earthquake struck one year ago, a moment of silence was observed across the country.

Speaking at a ceremony in Tokyo, Yoshihiko Noda, Japan prime minister, pledged "to speed up ... the reconstruction of the affected areas " and to strengthen nationwide natural disaster measures. He also thanked the volunteers, both foreign and Japanese, who helped with the reconstruction work.

"Predecessors who led Japan's prosperity said that crisis is sometimes necessary in order to grow. We need to support the people who were affected by the earthquake and reconstruct Japan from this historic disaster. And that is my mission," he said.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:18:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How Safe Are U.S. Nuclear Reactors? Lessons from Fukushima: Scientific American

The meltdown started when water to cool the reactors fell to dangerously low levels four hours after the fourth-largest recorded earthquake rattled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Five out of six of its reactors lost electricity when a 14-meter tall tsunami swept in 40 minutes later. Backup diesel generators lost their fuel tanks and died. Cooling water pumps failed. Nuclear fuel rods began melting and volatile hydrogen gas built up. Subsequent explosions and fire spewed 15,000 terabecquerels of radioactive cesium 137 alone, enough so that officials created an "exclusion zone" of 20 kilometers around the plant that persists today. (A becquerel is a unit of the rate of radioactive decay--or radiation emitted by a substance.) As a result, the emergency at Fukushima Daiichi that began on March 11, 2011, is only the second nuclear accident to merit the most severe international crisis rating, joining the reactor that exploded at the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear facility in Ukraine April 1986.

But the disaster was no surprise given the type of reactors at Fukushima. In fact, nuclear power experts, computer models and other analyses have consistently shown for decades that a problem in the older boiling-water reactors employed at Fukushima Daiichi would become disastrous because of a flawed safety system that houses the nuclear fuel, known as the Mark I containment. It is "the worst one of all the containments we have"--and in a complete blackout, "you're going to lose containment," noted U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Deputy Regional Administrator Charles Casto on March 16, 2011, who was in Japan to assist, according to transcripts of internal meetings released by the NRC. "There's no doubt about it."

The U.S. has 23 reactors with the same kind of safety systems--and the same risky placement of pools for spent nuclear fuel, namely, alongside the main reactor in the top of the reactor building. Would U.S. reactors perform any better than Japan's in a crisis? And what lessons does Fukushima hold for reactor safety worldwide?



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:19:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sellafield: 'Everything was contaminated: milk, chickens, the golf course' | Environment | The Observer

I t says something for how Britain's nuclear establishment worked from the start that when Windscale No1 Pile caught fire in October 1957, it was hushed up so well that even with 11 tons of uranium ablaze for three days, the reactor close to collapse and radioactive material spreading across the Lake District, the people who worked there were expected to keep quiet and carry on making plutonium for the bomb.

This was Britain's worst-ever nuclear accident, but no one was evacuated, no iodine pills were distributed, work went on and most people were not even told about the fire. But, thanks to Sellafield Stories, a book of interviews with nearly 100 people who worked there, lived nearby or whose lives have been linked to the vast West Cumbrian nuclear complex, we know more now about how people really reacted.

Union leader and ex-Commando Cyril McManus says he thought the fire might mean the workers got a day off; Wally Eldred, the scientist who went on to be head of laboratories at BNFL, says he was told to "carry on as normal"; and chemist Marjorie Higham says she paid no attention. "Things did go wrong so you just didn't take any notice. The less you know about it the less you can tell anyone else."



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:19:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mid-Atlantic suburbs in U.S. can expect an early spring thanks to the heat of the big city

ScienceDaily (Mar. 9, 2012) -- If you've been thinking our world is more green than frozen these days, you're right. A recent study has found that spring is indeed arriving earlier -- and autumn later -- in the suburbs of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The reason? The urban landscape traps heat in the summer and holds it throughout the winter, triggering leaves to turn green earlier in the spring and to stay green later into autumn. The result is a new, extended growing season.

Scientists used high-resolution satellite data collected over the past 25 years to look at the number days that trees have green leaves in the forests of the Mid-Atlantic. The study found that urban heat islands affected the growing season in areas within 20 miles of the city. As a result, gardeners may have more time to grow their vegetables and plant new varieties.

"This study provides important insight not only into the length of the growing season, but also into changes in water balance and carbon storage that will be accompanying climate change," said Dr. Don Boesch, president of the University of Marlyand Center for Environmental Science.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:03:36 PM EST
Greek theater rediscovers solidarity in crisis | Culture | DW.DE | 06.03.2012

The economic crisis continues to hit Greece hard, especially in the cultural sector. But theater producers in Athens are returning to "old" values in order to create new, experimental theater.

The cuts have hit hard in Greece, where there is little money left for the cultural sector. Instead of resigning themselves to doom and gloom, more and more artists are joining creative forces. Artistic collectives are booming first and foremost in the field of theater.

Greece has been in crisis since as long as he can remember, mused Nicos Flessas, a 70-year-old dramatic advisor and actor at the Blitz Theater Collective in Athens. Give up? Emigrate like so many others before him? No, not right now. That is also the attitude shared by the founding members of Blitz: Christos Passalis, Aggeliki Papoulia and Giorgos Valais. The three have been working together since 2004 with a permanent workforce of theater professionals such as Flessas.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nonhuman Personhood Rights (and Wrongs) | The Primate Diaries, Scientific American Blog Network

Americans take their rights seriously. But there is a lot of misunderstanding about what actually constitutes a `right.' Religious believers are correct that they have a right to freely express their beliefs. This right is protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution that prohibits Congress from making any "law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." However, as a result, devout believers feel it is a violation of their rights when intelligent design creationism is forbidden in the classroom or when prayer during school sporting events is banned. After all, shouldn't the First Amendment prohibit the government from interfering with this basic right?

The answer is no and represents an important distinction when understanding what a right actually is. Because public schools are government-run institutions, allowing prayer during school activities or promoting religious doctrines in the classroom is a direct violation of the First Amendment. These activities infringe on the rights of those who do not share the same religious beliefs (or any at all). The key point is that rights are obligations that require governments to act in certain ways and refrain from acting in others. The First Amendment obligates the government to protect the rights of all citizens from an establishment of religion. You may have the right to freely exercise your beliefs, but that doesn't give you the right to impose your views on others in public school.

It was just this understanding of rights as obligations that governments must obey that formed the basis for a declaration of rights for cetaceans (whales and dolphins) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Vancouver, Canada last month. Such a declaration is a minefield ripe for misunderstanding, as the BBC quickly demonstrated with their headline, "Dolphins deserve same rights as humans, say scientists." However, according to Thomas I. White, Conrad N. Hilton Chair of Business Ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, the idea of granting personhood rights to nonhumans would not make them equal to humans. They would not vote, sit on a jury, or attend public school. However, by legally making whales and dolphins "nonhuman persons," with individual rights under law, it would obligate governments to protect cetaceans from slaughter or abuse.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:20:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Couples Troubles Often Cause Female Sexual Dysfunction: Scientific American

Formerly known as frigidity, female sexual dysfunction (FSD) has always been a controversial diagnosis, and now studies are pointing to relationship dissatisfaction and male performance as risk factors. Just whose problem is this, anyway? New research suggests that broad tactics such as treating a woman's anxiety and improving communication with her partner may be more useful than focusing on the physical mechanics of sex.

Female sexual dysfunction is a broad diagnosis that indicates trouble in one or more of four areas: desire, pain, arousal and orgasm. Controversy about FSD has centered on two key points: whether those who are pushing it as a physiological disorder have something to gain from medicalizing it and whether it reflects society's attempt to pathologize women's naturally variable sexuality. According to sexologist Andrea Burri, author of a study from the U.K. on FSD that appeared in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, "Describing a sexual dysfunction as a physiologically caused abnormality leaves out factors related to the patient's sexual partners and socialization factors. Personally, I believe that we are using the term way too arbitrarily." Although she accepts that some women do have a physiological impairment that can contribute to sexual problems, she thinks that using loose diagnostic criteria lumps far too many women into the category of dysfunction.

Burri's study, which assessed about 1,500 women in the U.K. for FSD, found that 5.8 percent of them reported recent problems with sex, and another 15.5 percent reported lifelong dysfunction. Hyposexual (low) desire was the most common problem overall, and the most common predictor of FSD was relationship dissatisfaction. This finding supports the criticism that the concept of FSD is misleading because it implies that there is something wrong with the woman who "has" it, when in fact it is often the relationship that has issues. The study also found anxiety, experience of abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder to be common predictors of lifelong FSD.

A study last June also pointed to relationship dissatis­faction as a risk factor for FSD, as well as male premature ejaculation--so in this case, his dysfunction becomes hers, further obscuring the diagnosis.



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How I love science.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 06:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meteorites reveal another way to make life's components

ScienceDaily (Mar. 9, 2012) -- Creating some of life's building blocks in space may be a bit like making a sandwich -- you can make them cold or hot, according to new NASA research. This evidence that there is more than one way to make crucial components of life increases the likelihood that life emerged elsewhere in the Universe, according to the research team, and gives support to the theory that a "kit" of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by impacts from meteorites and comets assisted the origin of life.

In the study, scientists with the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., analyzed samples from fourteen carbon-rich meteorites with minerals that indicated they had experienced high temperatures -- in some cases, over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They found amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, used by life to speed up chemical reactions and build structures like hair, skin, and nails.

Previously, the Goddard team and other researchers have found amino acids in carbon-rich meteorites with mineralogy that revealed the amino acids were created by a relatively low-temperature process involving water, aldehyde and ketone compounds, ammonia, and cyanide called "Strecker-cyanohydrin synthesis."



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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crown Office refuse to identify judge convicted of benefit fraud - The Daily Record

A JUDGE has been convicted of benefit fraud - but his or her name is being kept secret.

The Crown Office are even refusing to say if the fraudster is a High Court judge, sheriff or justice of the peace.

Legal campaigner and blogger Peter Cherbi discovered he or she was one of six judges convicted of crimes since 2005.

Five were found guilty of road traffic offences but one admitted fiddling benefits while he or she passed judgment on other criminals.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 05:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Doonesbury strip on Texas abortion law dropped by some US newspapers | World news | The Guardian

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau has defended his cartoon strip about abortion, which several US newspapers are refusing to run, saying he felt compelled to respond to the way Republicans across America are undermining women's healthcare rights.

The strip, published on Monday and scheduled to run all week, has been rejected by several papers, while others said they were switching it from the comic section to the editorial page.

In an email exchange with the Guardian, Trudeau expressed dismay over the papers' decision but was unrepentant, describing as "appalling" and "insane" Republican state moves on women's healthcare.

About 1,400 newspapers, including the Guardian, take the Doonesbury cartoon. The Guardian newspaper is running the cartoon as normal on Monday.

The strip deals specifically with a law introduced in Texas and other states requiring a woman who wants to have an abortion to have an ultrasound scan, or sonogram, which will show an image of the foetus and other details, in an attempt to make her reconsider.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 05:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US newspapers, under the implicit threath of economic consequences - and individual nuts threathening terror - drops a cartoon critisising nutty christian opinions.

No similarity to Danish papers and cartoons critisising nutty muslem opinions.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 11:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


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 Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 02:04:08 PM EST
BBC Sport - Bradley Wiggins wins Paris-Nice after final time trial

Bradley Wiggins became only the second Briton to win the Paris-Nice race after triumphing in Sunday's final stage.

Wiggins went into the final stage, a 9.6km time trial in Col d'Eze, with a six-second lead over his nearest challenger, Dutchman Lieuwe Westra.

And Team Sky rider Wiggins crossed the line in 19 minutes and 12 seconds, a mere two seconds faster then Westra.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 09:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beware of unintended consequences

Dailykos - Electoral digest

So it looks like the agreement between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown to enforce penalties for any outside spending on the race is going to have some teeth to it. An obscure group called CAPE PAC ran a handful of web ads touting Brown, so now Brown has to donate half the value of the ads (presently unknown) to a charity of Warren's choosing. (Warren selected the Autism Consortium.) Given that Brown quickly and proudly announced his commitment to honor his pledge, the cynic in me has to wonder if this wasn't some kind of setup: An organization no one cares about spends what is probably the bare minimum possible, allowing Brown to publicly pat himself on the back both for keeping his word and donating to a worthy charity. This is politics. I could believe it.

all very well and good, but if I was of even a slightly cynical bent, I could well imagine Brown getting a SuperPAC to make a big buy of (not very good) advertising for Warren and then make a really big deal about it.

Keeping to the deal would really hurt Warren's finances and also gets Brown the opportunity to paint himself as the good guy.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 12th, 2012 at 09:48:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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