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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 20 March

by Nomad Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:11:22 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1828 - birth of Henrik Ibsen a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director and poet, often referred to as "the father of prose drama" (d. 1906)

More here and here

 The European Salon is a daily selection of news items to which you are invited to contribute. Post links to news stories that interest you, or just your comments. Come in and join us!

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by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 04:56:47 PM EST
Gunman at school shooting linked to spate of murders - FRANCE - FRANCE 24
A gunman opened fire Monday morning outside a Jewish school in Toulouse in south-western France, killing four people.

City Prosecutor Michel Valet said a 30-year-old man, his two sons, aged three and six, and another child aged ten who was the daughter of the school principal, were killed. A 17-year-old was also seriously injured.

Valet told reporters the gunman "shot at everything he could see, children and adults, and some children were chased into the school" before he fled the scene on a black scooter.

Relatives named the adult killed as Jonathan Sandler, a Franco-Israeli from Jerusalem who "left last September for a two-year mission to teach Jewish subjects in Toulouse", according to AFP.

Visiting the Ozar Hatorah school, French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the shooting as a "national tragedy" and vowed to find the killer.

"Barbarity, savagery, cruelty cannot win. Hate cannot win,'' Sarkozy said. "We will find him.''

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Toulouse Jewish shootings and French army attacks linked

French police are linking the shootings of four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse to the killings of three soldiers of North African descent in two separate incidents last week.

The same gun and the same stolen scooter were used in all three attacks, sources close to the investigation say.

A teacher and three children were shot dead at the Ozar Hatorah school, and a teenage boy was seriously injured.

One of the biggest manhunts in France in recent times is now under way.

Investigations are pursuing two principal lines of inquiry: an Islamist motive or the far right.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hollande's presidential ambitions threaten Franco-German bond | Europe | DW.DE | 16.03.2012

Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, is ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls. But if he wins the elections, he's on a collision course with the German chancellor.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her public backing to incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his bid for re-election. At a joint news conference in February, Merkel expressed her solidarity for her French counterpart:

"I support Mr. Sarkozy in every way, because we belong to allied parties, no matter what he does," she announced.

Merkel noted that she was supporting Sarkozy not in her role as chancellor, but as leader of Germany's Christian Democrats. However, her explicit endorsement goes far beyond the usual nod of encouragement to a fellow conservative, and it carries a huge political risk: Sarkozy's approval rating is poor. Some polls put him several percentage points behind his main rival, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

"[Merkel] did this in the name of Europe, which is all very well, but of course it's a bit risky, because we know that the opposition candidate is in the lead in the polls at the moment and could become the next French president on May 7," said Jacques-Pierre Gougeon, an expert in Franco-German relations and director of research at the foreign policy think tank, IRIS.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:34:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French and German Socialists test water for common agenda | EurActiv

The French and German socialists are hoping to create a common front against the centre-right's current management of Europe and in particular of the euro crisis. To do so, they will have to overcome dramatically different national political traditions.  EurActiv France contributed to this article.

Last week on 16-17 March, socialist European leaders - including President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, the leader of the Party of European Socialists Sergei Stanishev and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel - gathered in Paris to support Socialist candidate François Hollande ahead of the presidential elections, with a first round on 22 April and a run-off on 6 May.

Polls give a slight advantage to Hollande, who is likely to be propelled to the run-off together with centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"As President of the European Parliament, I don't have the institutional right, but I have a friend I like a lot [...] and wish him all the luck, his name is François Hollande," Schulz said.

'Change starts with you, François'

For his part, PES leader Sergei Stanishev didn't have to resort to diplomacy.

"Change starts with you, François. It is happening now in France and in Europe. Your election is important for the citizens of France and for all of Europe," Stanishev stated.

He further said that since a number of other European nations are to hold elections, the Socialists and Social Democrats are getting ready to re-paint Europe red - "the color of growth, employment, and hope."

Hollande thanked his European colleagues and attacked in his speech the conservative governments of Europe, whom he said were responsible for having brought Europe to an "institutional crisis, if not an existential one".

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:34:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Emigration - a beautiful mirage | Presseurop (English)

Along with a lost generation of young people in low-paid and insecure jobs, the crisis is now pushing couples with families to seek work elsewhere in Europe. Unfortunately, arriving in foreign countries ill-prepared, not speaking the language and low on funds, they often end up in the streets.

"Silly emigration" [Emigração parva] is how Eduardo Dias, the representative of the Council of Portuguese Communities in Luxembourg, describes this new wave of Portuguese flowing into the Grand Duchy: couples between 35 and 50 years of age, arriving with children who are still minors, with no prospect of a guaranteed job, without speaking any of the local languages (French, German or Luxembourgish) and their only luggage the (mistaken) notion that finding a job will be easy.

This new and growing wave of Portuguese emigrants, adding to Portugal's young graduates also trying their luck abroad, is overflowing elsewhere into Europe too: into England, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and, particularly sharply, into Switzerland. It was in Switzerland where the alarm was first sounded after Portuguese were found sleeping in the street in freezing winter temperatures. The general view is that the situation is not going to get better.

There is no shortage of statistics, and they all point in the same direction: more and more Portuguese are leaving the country. Late in 2011, the Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities, José Cesário, acknowledged that this year alone between 100,000 and 120,000 Portuguese had departed. On EURES, the European Union's job mobility portal, Portuguese applications more than doubled between 2008 and 2011. And in just two years, from 2008 to 2010, Portuguese consulates abroad have seen 324,000 migrants come in to register.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Portuguese death rate rise linked to pain of austerity programme | Business | The Guardian

Maria Isabel Martins got up at 5am to catch a bus from the eastern Portuguese country town of Portalegre to see a consultant in Lisbon about her diabetes. It is a 130-mile journey that takes three hours. It used to be free, but not any more.

"This is shameful. Now each visit costs me €44 (£36) and I have to come back in a few weeks," the 53-year-old said, wheezing as she left the consultant's surgery at the Santa Maria hospital.

There is a chart on the wall beside a machine that accepts credit cards. It shows the charges for seeing a doctor in one of western Europe's poorest countries, where opposition politicians blame budget cuts for a thousand extra deaths in February, 20% more than usual.

"They hiked the fees in January," said the receptionist, pointing to the new charges for everything from jabs and ear washes to having stitches removed. "Now a visit to the emergency room costs €20 instead of €9. A consultant costs €7.50. People are angry."

The health service is just one victim of sweeping cuts and increased charges for public services across Portugal. After the €130bn second bailout for Greece was signed off last week, bond markets switched their attention to southern Europe's other failing economy.

A general strike on Thursday will show just how angry the Portuguese are about the terms of a €78bn EU and IMF bailout last May that has so far brought only pain and recession. Official forecasts are for the economy to contract 3.3% this year and unemployment to rise to 14.5%.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / Right to fair trial risks being undermined in Hungary
Hungary's reform of its judiciary system has been thoroughly criticised by the Council of Europe, with aspects of its damning assessment likely to fuel an ongoing quarrel between the European Commission and Budapest on the same issue.

A report for the continent's human rights watchdog suggests that Hungary's judiciary reforms - part of a series of laws propping up a controversial new constitution that came into force at the beginning of the year - "contradict European standards for the organisation of the judiciary" and could also undermine "the right to a fair trial."

Its 31 pages point to a gradually waning of the independence of the judiciary through the concentration of power into too few hands, the lack of democratic oversight, and rise of self-interest as people within the corrupting system seek to protect their own jobs.

Most of the problems stem from the "overwhelmingly strong" president of the National Judicial Office. The person, once elected by a two-thirds majority in parliament, holds office for nine years.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Weapons Exports: EU Nations Sell the Most Arms to Saudi Arabia - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Some three years ago, Europeans lauded new weapons export rules meant to control the trade of military technology and equipment as "milestones." The "Security-related export controls II" rules state that export approval should be avoided in the event that weapons "might be used for undesirable purposes such as internal repression or international aggression or contribute to regional instability."

OAS_RICH('Middle2'); But it appears that some European Union members are disregarding these rules when it comes to Saudi Arabia. A European Commission summary obtained by SPIEGEL shows that combined exports from member states amount to the EU being the world's largest exporter of weapons to the Middle Eastern country. In 2010, member states delivered at least €3.3 billion ($4.34 billion) worth of military equipment and licenses to Riyadh.

Sweden, for example, helped the Saudis build a missile factory and sold them some €330 million in defense technology in 2011. Meanwhile, Finland recently received an export permit to deliver 36 grenade launchers, and Germany is preparing 270 Leopard 2 tanks for delivery. Great Britain is providing fighter jets.

There seems to be little EU interest in the fact that the Saudis have used their tanks to help their neighbor Bahrain crack down on the Arab Spring movement and also happen to be enmeshed in what security experts in the region call a "cold war" with Iran.

But the weapons deals are still controversial in Stockholm, Helsinki and Berlin. Rolf Lindahl, arms trade secretary of the Swedish Peace and Abitration society described the deal completed between the Saudis and the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) to build a missile factory in the Saudi dessert as "horrible." "With (the factory), we are legitimizing one of the most brutal regimes in the world," he added.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it's interesting how our pols criticize the russians for their support of Assad but ignore our support of the Saudis who are just as bad.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:41:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Time for the truth about Catholic sex abuse in the Netherlands | Radio Netherlands Worldwide
The revelation that a number of minors who were abused in Dutch Roman Catholic institutions were also forcibly castrated has shocked the Netherlands. It casts grave doubt upon the recent findings of a commission set up to look into abuse in the church. RNW's Robert Chesal, who first brought the sex abuse scandal to light, argues that only parliament can be trusted to investigate further.

We now know that former Dutch cabinet minister Wim Deetman did not meet the expectations he raised when he chaired the commission of inquiry into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. He did not get to the bottom of the abuse scandal or reveal all of the horrors that took place behind church doors in the Netherlands.

Whistle blowers punished
We know this thanks to investigative journalist Joep Dohmen of the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Dohmen wrote about a boarding school student who had been sexually abused by a Dutch monk. When the former student reported the abuse to the police in 1956, he was brought to a Roman Catholic psychiatric ward, declared a homosexual and then castrated. The same surgery was probably performed on at least ten other schoolmates of his who tried to blow the whistle on abuse.

The main abuser in this case was `Gregorius,' the brother superior of the Roman Catholic Harreveld boarding school in the east of the Netherlands.

We cannot yet say for sure why the Deetman Commission left all this information out of its voluminous report on sexual abuse in the church that was published just three months ago. The commission received a clear complaint detailing the castrations in 2010, which it now says it did not investigate "for lack of sufficient leads".

This explanation looks shaky at best, seeing as Joep Dohmen was able, in just a few months' time, to find irrefutable evidence of one such illegal castration and strong indications of ten more.

Another Dutch newspaper added to this story on Monday that several boys were castrated in several catholic wards, without the consent of their parents.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:41:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These are the very people who believe they can discuss the legitimacy of gay marriage. And worse, Serious People in the media and government give them the time of day

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:44:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Geithner says European fiscal adjustment policies are futile
US treasury secretary warns of self-fulfilling crisis, and says the Europeans should stop the practice of forcing countries to make up for short-falls in deficit reduction as economy deteriorates; Greece loses billions of VAT due to its decrepit tax collection system; Evangelos Venizelos quits as finance minister to take charge of Pasok - successor to be announced today;a disgruntled pensioner hijacks a Greek tax office; Vitor Gaspar says Portugal will not need any bailout, and is determined to pull through; the Greek CDS auction ended without nasty surprises, settling on a pay-out of $2.5bn, 78.5% of the total outstanding CDS; the Greek crisis makes it harder for German municipalities to get access to funding; impoverished west German cities are asking for an end to the intra-German transfer mechanism; the "fourth Reich" becomes an election issue in Greece; Paul Ronzinger calls the debate in Greece irresponsible; Nicolas Sarkozy's approval ratings have reached a two-year record; the ECB last week purchases no bonds under its securities markets programme; Colm McCarthy, meanwhile, argues that Olli Rehn is mistaken when he said "pacta sunt servanda", as the promissory notes are not subject to any pact.

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 Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 04:32:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: Ringfencing Europe (18 March)
The three policy steps proposed here could be described as a process of Decentralised Europeanisation, to be juxtaposed against the kind of hasty, Authoritarian Federation that is currently seen, falsely in my eyes, as the only alternative to the Authoritarian Disintegration that is the order of the day. In essence, what we are proposing is that three areas of economic activity are Europeanised: banking supervision, sovereign debt management and planned investment flows. However, the proposed Europeanisation retains a large degree of decentralisation, one that is consistent with maximum sovereignty for member-states combined with the minimal rationality required for the effective governance of the common currency area.

In an important sense, our proposal for Decentralised Europeanisation is, indeed, quiet modest. While broad in scope and ambition, it suggests no new institutions and aims at redesigning the eurozone with minimal use of new rules, fiscal compacts, pan-European czars, etc. Moreover, it does not require a prior agreement to move in the federal direction. It can, therefore, unite those who want to end the Crisis independently of whether their vision for the future includes a Federal Europe as a dream, as an irrelevance or as a nightmare. For this reason, it stands the best chance of being adopted (once the current fixation with non-solutions abates).

There is another reason too for favouring our proposal: Federation is too important to be subsumed into a short-term struggle to `save' wayward member-states, to contain spreads, and to deal with troubled bankers. A United States of Europe, if we ever choose to bring it about, deserves more than institutions devised on the run and under pressure from Moody's and Fitch. It will only be worth having:

  • when Europeans can begin to countenance an electoral system which asks of Germans and Greeks alike to vote among Greek and German candidates
  • when it is possible to discuss the dissolution of national armies and their merging into a single European Defence Force
  • when your views and mine are assessed on their pure merits, rather than on who you are, what accent you present them in, whether you are Dutch or Portuguese - when, in other words, the lost virtue of Ancient Athenian isigoria is revived Europe-wide
  • Symbolically, we shall know that we are ready for a decisive Federal Move when we can agree on what actual image to print on our euro notes, in place of abstract bridges and gates that exist nowhere in Europe, symbolising the lack of common symbols
Till then I believe that the minimalist, modest, yet far reaching, proposal herein deserves careful consideration.

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 Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 05:25:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 04:57:51 PM EST
EU spearheads tax crackdown on Greece | EurActiv

Hundreds of EU tax experts are set to stream into Greece to help tackle tax evasion by wealthy citizens and companies after the European Commission's Task Force for Greece reported unpaid tax bills as a priority issue.

Up to €60 billion in unpaid taxes by companies and individuals have been identified in Greece, but only €8 billion of these are believed to be collectible, according to the second Task Force report, published on Friday (16 March).

Only €956 million was collected in 2011, and the report said that as a result one of the main challenges in the debt-stricken state is: "to improve overall tax collection and enhance the fight against tax evasion".

The report said that twelve member states had sent tax experts on mission to Greece as part of these ongoing efforts, and Germany has created a roster of 160 experts - some of whom have been brought out of retirement - who have volunteered to participate in the exercise.

Danish and French experts had been dispatched to assist with debt collection from high wealth individuals, and Spanish experts are advising on large tax-paying entities, the report claimed.

Greece set to conclude deals on tax evasion with other member states

The Greek government is about to establish a series of international co-operation agreements with other member states to prevent Greek citizens who have plied money into foreign property from escaping their national dues.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:56:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece is heading for hell, thanks to the EU's botched handling of the crisis | Costas Lapavitsas | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Is the eurozone crisis ending with a whimper? This view is currently gaining ground for several reasons. First, the European Central Bank has buoyed banks by supplying €1tn-worth of liquidity since last December. Second, Greek debt has been restructured, a new bailout has been agreed, and a chaotic default averted. More broadly, new rules of fiscal discipline have been agreed to keep feckless peripheral countries in check.

The response from financial markets has been positive. Interest-rate spreads on Italian and Spanish bonds have declined precipitously; stock markets have been rising, including in New York; even some Greek bonds have been upgraded by the much maligned ratings agencies.

Unfortunately, the reality is a bit more complicated. Take the restructuring of Greek debt. When the crisis burst out in 2010, Greece had €300bn of debt, held overwhelmingly by private creditors and governed by Greek law. It would have been a painful but fairly straightforward exercise to default, putting the country back on its feet. Instead, the EU advanced expensive bailout loans, imposed ferocious austerity, and created the worst depression in Greek history. The result was that by early 2012 Greek debt had risen to €370bn. Of that, however, only about €200bn remained in private hands. In less than two years, the EU had saddled Greece with a massive official debt, much of which had been used to retire old debt, allowing large private creditors to exit without losses.

Restructuring in March extricated the remaining large private creditors with as little damage as possible. Lenders surrendered existing bonds of poor quality receiving new bonds with a lower value, plus a significant amount of cash. Since large foreign banks had already written off great volumes of Greek bonds, they were not hit particularly hard. Greek banks faced major losses, but the Greek state has generously agreed to borrow €50bn to recapitalise them. The real damage was inflicted on pension funds and small bondholders, particularly in Greece where the losses have been devastating.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:57:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when those guys have finished cleaning up Greece, can they come to the UK please ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek CDS drama holds lessons for investors - FT.com

It's over. The long-running drama over Greek credit default swaps finally came to uneventful end on Monday with a $2.5bn pay-out for those who had bought protection against default by Athens. Yet, while market disorder was avoided, there remain concerns that CDS are flawed.

Market participants insist lessons need to be learned from the Greek debt restructuring deal and bond exchange, or these insurance-like instruments, untested in a sovereign restructuring before Greece and which are used as a protection against losses on bonds, could lose their appeal.

An auction held by 14 banks set a market-wide payout of $2.5bn, or 78.5 per cent of the $3.2bn of net outstanding CDS as of March 9, when a so-called "credit event" was declared by the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, the industry body that rules on pay-outs.

The payout was considered fair value by many strategists and investors. But these same strategists and investors said that this was more down to luck than design as the Greek debt exchange, under which private sector holdings of Greek debt were written down by about €100bn, failed to consider the potential negative fallout for CDS.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Payouts on Greek CDS Will Be 78.5¢ on Dollar - WSJ.com

A panel of dealers determined in an auction Monday that holders of Greek credit-default swaps would be paid 78.5 cents on the dollar after Greece's giant debt restructuring, a smooth result in line with expectations for a large payout to swapholders.

Credit-default swaps, or CDS, are insurance-like contracts designed to pay off if creditors suffer losses. The auction's outcome means that sellers of the $3.2 billion in outstanding swaps will pay $2.5 billion in compensation to buyers.

In the early days of the Greek debt crisis, European policy makers fretted that triggering payouts on Greek CDS contracts could have destabilizing consequences for the broader financial system. The European Central Bank, especially, pressed hard to avoid doing do.

But by early this year the fears had abated, and a CDS payout was seen as an almost harmless byproduct of a necessary Greek debt default. Indeed, Monday's auction had few ripples. Credit-default-swap prices on debt from Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy were all barely changed, according to data provider Markit, which also helped run Monday's auction. "Despite the high-profile attention on the Greece CDS auction, many market participants felt that it was uneventful and sanitary," said Otis Casey, a credit analyst at Markit in New York. "Uneventful and sanitary is probably the best compliment a credit-event auction can get."

The swaps were triggered earlier this month when Greece pushed through the largest sovereign-debt restructuring in history, forcibly exchanging €177.3 billion of its bonds for a package of new securities.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:58:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / Hollande 'not alone' in bid to re-open fiscal treaty

French Socialist candidate Francois Hollande has claimed he is "not alone" in his bid to re-negotiate the treaty on fiscal discipline.

Meanwhile, Ireland is likely to wait for the outcome of the French elections before holding a referendum on it.

"I will re-negotiate the treaty on budgetary discipline not only for France, but for the whole of Europe," he said during a campaign speech in Paris on Saturday (17 March), adding that the pact focuses on austerity only and does little to spur economic growth.

He said that if he elected he will have a mandate from the French people and support from European Socialists and "allies who are not all Socialists" for re-opening the text.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:59:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kenny tight-lipped on EU poll - The Irish Times - Mon, Mar 19, 2012

The Taoiseach has refused to be drawn on his preferred date for a referendum on the fiscal stability pact.

Speaking in New York, Mr Kenny said the decision on a date would be made "as a Government" and announced in due course.

Asked about Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton's indication that the referendum would take place in late May or early June or in the latter part of June or early in July, Mr Kenny said the Government did not want the issue to drag on.

However, he said legislation had to be introduced and a Referendum Commission set up before it could be held. A timescale was needed in which people could be given full, thorough and comprehensive information on what was involved.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:59:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / EU still consulting on what 'shadow banking' means

The EU is considering new rules on so-called shadow banking - unregulated investment funds and mortgage institutions - but it still has to define exactly what type of financial activities it covers.

"Shadow banking is a parallel banking system for which we do have to create effective regulation and supervision, otherwise the financial markets may well transfer part of their activities and products to this unregulated market and increase the risk of new crises," financial markets commissioner Michel Barnier said Monday (19 March).

Five years after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, which triggered the global financial crisis, the EU commission is still working on regulation aimed at curtailing risks in the financial markets.

Shadow banking - a term encompassing simple services such as mortgages, loans given without deposit, and complex investment schemes run by hedge funds - represents some 25-30 percent of the world's banking sector and its share is increasing in Europe, Barnier said.

"We have to define the term firstly. We want to act, but first we need to understand it and to see if our list is complete," the commissioner said.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 05:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, what you should do is isolate it. Simply state that regulated activities are legitimate and will be protected. Any company dealing in illegitimate unregulated funds, however far down the trail they do it (due diligence etc etc) will not be protected.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com

That's European manufacturing from the League of Nations, starting 1929 -- with annual data placed at the midpoint of each year -- and Eurostat for the EU15, starting January 2007.

The comparison is in aid of several projects, most immediately a Princeton talk next month. My point is that Europe isn't actually doing all that much better than it did in the Great Depression. And why should it be doing better? It has effectively replicated both the troubles of the gold standard and the misguided focus on austerity.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be because the same sorts of people, landed self-entitled exploiters, are in charge and governments are stupid enough to listen to them

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:50:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Industry represented a rather larger share of the economy than the 10-20% it reaches today. And agriculture was hit as well, while today it represents 2% of activity in the West.

Services did not drop in the same way.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 05:03:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... The Worse-than Club (Krugman blog, January 28, 2012)
France and Germany are doing much better than in the early 1930s -- but then France and Germany had terrible, deflationist policies in the early 1930s. (It was the Brüning deflation, not the Weimar inflation, that brought you-know-who to power).

With two of Europe's big four economies [Britain and Italy] doing worse than they did in the Great Depression, at least in terms of GDP -- and that's three of five if you count Spain -- do you think the austerity advocates might consider that maybe, possibly, they're on the wrong track?

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 Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 05:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A day later: The Austerity Debacle (NYT Op-Ed)
Even so, surpassing the track record of the 1930s shouldn't be a tough challenge. Haven't we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years? Yes, we have -- but in Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead.

Britain, in particular, was supposed to be a showcase for "expansionary austerity," the notion that instead of increasing government spending to fight recessions, you should slash spending instead -- and that this would lead to faster economic growth. "Those who argue that dealing with our deficit and promoting growth are somehow alternatives are wrong," declared David Cameron, Britain's prime minister. "You cannot put off the first in order to promote the second."

How could the economy thrive when unemployment was already high, and government policies were directly reducing employment even further? Confidence! "I firmly believe," declared Jean-Claude Trichet -- at the time the president of the European Central Bank, and a strong advocate of the doctrine of expansionary austerity -- "that in the current circumstances confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery, because confidence is the key factor today."

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 Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 05:14:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Few signs U.S. has settled on World Bank nominee | Reuters

With just five days to go for nations to put forward nominees to lead the World Bank, there are few signs the United States has finalized its choice to lead the global development lender.

The United States has held the presidency of the Bank since its founding after World War Two, while a European has always led its sister institution - the International Monetary Fund.

But Washington has yet to publicly identify a candidate and some observers think the delay could signal that the White House is having a hard time convincing possible candidates to take the job. The White House and Treasury Department have declined to comment.

Sources with knowledge of the administration's thinking say the hope was to convince a woman to enter the race to replace Robert Zoellick, who has said he will step down when his term expires at the end of June.

Naming a woman could go some way to address calls from emerging-market nations for a change in the status quo. A woman has never led the bank.

Two sources said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was a leading contender. However, it is not clear she wants the job. Rice's name often surfaces as a possible candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 04:58:00 PM EST
BBC News - Russia joins Red Cross call for daily truce in Syria

Russia has joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in calling for a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Syria.

In a statement, the foreign ministry called on the government "and all armed groups who oppose it" to agree to ceasefires "without delay".

Russia has twice vetoed Western-backed draft resolutions on Syria at the UN Security Council.

Its call came hours after clashes erupted in part of the Syrian capital.

The head of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, had travelled to Moscow to discuss a ceasefire arrangement with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The organisation says a daily pause in fighting is needed to evacuate the wounded from the worst affected areas and allow in food and medicine.

Mr Kellenberger said Russia's support for its appeal was "very important" and that he noted it with "satisfaction and gratitude".

"The most important issue for us is to ensure humanitarian ceasefires as soon as possible," Russian media quoted him as saying.

He said the prospect of more Syrian cities being subjected to the intense military bombardment seen in Homs earlier this year was "absolutely unacceptable".

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:11:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria: leaked documents reveal Bashar al-Assad's role in crushing protests | World news | The Guardian

Leaks of what appear to be official Syrian documents reveal how its president, Bashar al-Assad, personally signs off plans drawn up by his government's crisis management centre, prioritising a security crackdown to prevent protests against his regime spreading to Damascus.

Hundreds of pages of confidential papers shown to al-Jazeera TV by a defector describe daily meetings of the heads of all Syria's security and intelligence agencies, who review events and issue orders that are then approved by the president.

The Interfax news agency also reported that a Russian military anti-terror unit had arrived in the Syrian port of Tartous aboard a tanker from the country's Black Sea fleet. The tanker had earlier passed through pirate-infested waters.

The troops arrived as the Russian government backed a call by the Red Cross for daily two-hour ceasefires to allow for aid to reach the areas worst hit by violence.

Amid reports of fighting on Monday in the Mezzeh area of Damascus - the heaviest in the capital since the uprising began a year ago - al-Jazeera said the documents were smuggled out of Syria by Abdel-Majid Barakat, head of information for the state crisis management unit, who is now hiding in Turkey with opposition activists.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad: The good wife | World | DW.DE | 17.03.2012

Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad has been compared to Princess Diana for her youth, beauty and compassion. Now private e-mails leaked to the Guardian newspaper portray a woman who resembles Marie Antoinette.

Since the Syrian uprising led to a brutal crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's regime a year ago, his wife Asma has largely remained out of the spotlight, except for two public appearances supporting her husband. In January she was almost inconspicuous with a beret on her head, while clutching two of her young children and feigning a smile for the cameras as her husband gave a speech at a rally.

In late February, the first lady looking more confident and elegant in black, was seen smiling and greeting supporters alongside the President as they cast ballots in a referendum on constitutional reform, which was regarded as a farce by opposition forces and condemned by the West. At the same time, the city of Homs, which has been at the epicenter of the pro-democracy movement, was bombarded with mortars and rockets. At least 8,000 Syrians have been killed in the year-long bloodbath, according to UN estimates.

Earlier in February, the First Lady provoked outrage in Britain by sending an unsolicited e-mail to the Times newspaper, saying "The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First lady supports him in that role."

She appears to communicate often by e-mail. On Thursday, Britain's Guardian newspaper published the first couple's private e-mail documents leaked by the opposition group Supreme Council of the Revolution. The e-mails portray a woman who ordered tens of thousands of dollars worth of chandeliers and candlesticks among other luxury items within the past eight month period, when her country was under siege and ordinary Syrians were facing food shortages.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Protest jokes darken Arab rulers' humour - FT.com

The Arabs' pursuit of freedom has unleashed some of the worst state violence that the Middle East has seen in recent times. Fortunately, though, Arabs are not losing their sense of humour.

From the slogans of Tahrir Square - "Please go, my hand is hurting" - to "Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator", an online show in which finger puppets impersonate Bashar al-Assad, protesters, even those under enormous stress, have taken solace in the absurdity of autocratic rulers' battles for survival.

My personal favourite is one Lebanese stand-up comedian's hilarious take on the chaotic discovery of people power in the region. In the video titled "Demonstrations Delivery", the comedian poses as the provider of a full protesters service ("wonderful protesters, men, women, youth, whatever is required") from the comfort of his office and the end of a telephone line.

"You want 300 protesters in front of the electricity company? No problem, I will find the perfect sample . . . and if you pay more, I can offer 10 who can shout slogans in French and will throw in another five English speakers for free," he tells a caller.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Libya, France, ICC seek extradition of ex-spy chief - LIBYA - FRANCE 24

Mauritania arrested Muammar Gaddafi's ex-spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, after he arrived on an overnight flight, officials said on Saturday, triggering a three-way tussle for his extradition.

Senussi, who for decades before the late dictator's fall inspired fear and hatred in ordinary Libyans, is sought by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity during last year's conflict.

But Libya's new rulers insisted he would have a fair trial there, while France - confirming it played a role in his arrest - stressed his alleged role in the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger in which 54 French nationals died.

"Today we confirm the news of the arrest of Abdullah al-Senussi," Libyan government spokesman Nasser al-Manee told a news conference in Tripoli.

"He was arrested this morning in Nouakchott airport and there was a young man with him. We think it is his son," he said, confirming a Mauritanian state news agency report that Senussi had been arrested with a false Malian passport arriving from Casablanca, Morocco.

France, which led Western backing for the popular uprising that toppled Gaddafi, said it had cooperated with Mauritanian authorities over the arrest and that it would be sending an arrest warrant to Mauritania.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:14:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US soldier accused of Afghan massacre to meet lawyers - Americas - World - The Independent

Robert Bales, the staff sergeant accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians as they slept two Sundays ago, is set to meet his lawyers for the first time tonight, even as friends and relatives in US struggled to square what they thought they knew about him with the horror of the accusations levelled against him.

"It is too early to determine what factors may have played into this incident and the defence team looks forward to reviewing the evidence, examining all of Sergeant Bales' medical and personnel records, and interviewing witnesses," the defence lawyers said before meeting with their client, who is in solitary confinement at a military maximum security unit at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

The defence team, led by John Henry Browne, has pushed back against US military claims that Sergeant Bales, 38, had been drinking before the killings and that he had been under pressure from marital and financial difficulties at home. They have been depicting him as exhausted by four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and potentially suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Among those who have followed bulletins about Sergeant Bales in disbelief is Michelle Caddell, 48, who knew him when he was growing up in Ohio.  "I wanted to see, maybe, a different face," she told the New York Times, "because that's not our Bobby. Something horrible, horrible had to happen to him."

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:14:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Robert Fisk: Madness is not the reason for this massacre - Robert Fisk - Commentators - The Independent

I'm getting a bit tired of the "deranged" soldier story. It was predictable, of course. The 38-year-old staff sergeant who massacred 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, near Kandahar this week had no sooner returned to base than the defence experts and the think-tank boys and girls announced that he was "deranged". Not an evil, wicked, mindless terrorist - which he would be, of course, if he had been an Afghan, especially a Taliban - but merely a guy who went crazy.

This was the same nonsense used to describe the murderous US soldiers who ran amok in the Iraqi town of Haditha. It was the same word used about Israeli soldier Baruch Goldstein who massacred 25 Palestinians in Hebron - something I pointed out in this paper only hours before the staff sergeant became suddenly "deranged" in Kandahar province.

"Apparently deranged", "probably deranged", journalists announced, a soldier who "might have suffered some kind of breakdown" (The Guardian), a "rogue US soldier" (Financial Times) whose "rampage" (The New York Times) was "doubtless [sic] perpetrated in an act of madness" (Le Figaro). Really? Are we supposed to believe this stuff? Surely, if he was entirely deranged, our staff sergeant would have killed 16 of his fellow Americans. He would have slaughtered his mates and then set fire to their bodies. But, no, he didn't kill Americans. He chose to kill Afghans. There was a choice involved. So why did he kill Afghans? We learned yesterday that the soldier had recently seen one of his mates with his legs blown off. But so what?

The Afghan narrative has been curiously lobotomised - censored, even - by those who have been trying to explain this appalling massacre in Kandahar. They remembered the Koran burnings - when American troops in Bagram chucked Korans on a bonfire - and the deaths of six Nato soldiers, two of them Americans, which followed. But blow me down if they didn't forget - and this applies to every single report on the latest killings - a remarkable and highly significant statement from the US army's top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, exactly 22 days ago. Indeed, it was so unusual a statement that I clipped the report of Allen's words from my morning paper and placed it inside my briefcase for future reference.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:15:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FIrst posted by Helen.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 06:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghans suspect US cover-up over soldier's killing spree | World news | The Guardian

When the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, called for an investigation to determine whether a US soldier who massacred nine Afghan children and seven other civilians had acted alone, he was voicing a question on the lips of most Afghans.

The 38-year-old staff sergeant Robert Bales has been depicted as a mentally strained, "rogue" killer by US and Nato military officials, who have shown Afghan officials surveillance video of his solitary return to base among other evidence that he acted alone.

In German, Spiegel reports second-hand evidence: they interviewed a relative of one of the victims, who was told by the surviving wife that multiple soldiers stormed their home and his husband was held down by some while another shot him.

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

by DoDo on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 06:39:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does this mean that Bales will get a suspended sentence? If not, what reason is there for him to take part in the cover-up rather than naming the other soldiers?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 07:08:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bales's lawyers claim that he has no recollection of the incident, so for what did he turn himself in?

US soldier accused of Afghan massacre 'does not remember attack' - Telegraph

"He has an early memory of that evening and he has a later memory ... but he doesn't have memory of the evening in between," John Henry Browne told CBS News after meeting Bales for the first time at Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 08:43:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uganda Attempts to Counter Image Presented by 'Kony 2012' - NYTimes.com

He has posted a long video to YouTube and sent Twitter messages to celebrities, but so far Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi of Uganda has yet to match the explosive virality of the original campaign against the wanted warlord Joseph Kony.

Perhaps that was not the point.

Mr. Mbabazi, who once directed forces against Mr. Kony as the head of the country's defense ministry, called the original viral video "slick" and, as if in deliberate contrast, his own presentation, posted over the weekend, lacked the flash and narrative spark of the work by Invisible Children. But he did have a similarly simple message: Uganda is safe.

Seated and staring at the camera in one long take, Mr. Mbabazi spoke slowly and deliberately as he attempted to present a vision of Uganda as a "modern developing country which enjoys peace, stability and security."

"Only a couple of months ago, Lonely Planet described Uganda as the best country in the world to visit in 2012," Mr. Mbabazi said in the 8-minute-long video.

The Lonely Planet did list Uganda first among an eclectic mix of places to visit this year, ahead of Myanmar and Ukraine.

Still, Uganda still isn't without its problems. Human rights abuses aren't uncommon, and the country breathes a collective sigh whenever President Museveni thinks of another ruse to stay in power for a few more years. But now, as ever, explorers in search of the source of the Nile won't leave disappointed.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Protests as Maldives parliament opens - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

The new president of the Maldives has opened parliament amid protests by the opposition, nearly six weeks after he took office in what his predecessor has called a coup.

Police fired tear gas earlier on Monday as several hundred demonstrators blocked roads and shouted slogans calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. Waheed was prevented from opening parliament on March 1 amid protests by opposition legislators.

Hassan was vice president when he replaced Mohamed Nasheed last month after his predecessor resigned following weeks of public protests and a loss of support from the military and police.

Nasheed later claimed that he was forced to resign at gunpoint in what he called a coup. He demanded that Waheed resign immediately and call fresh elections. Waheed says the power transfer was constitutional.

Television footage on Monday showed security staff in the parliament building forcibly removing four opposition legislators as they were trying to stop Waheed from making his opening speech.

After a few hours' delay, Waheed made his speech in which he called for national unity. However, street protests continued.

In Monday's speech, Waheed said the Maldives' constitution did not allow a presidential election before July 2013 and an early election would require constitutional amendment.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:19:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drug-resistant white plague lurks among rich and poor | Reuters

On New Year's Eve 2004, after months of losing weight and suffering fevers, night sweats and shortness of breath, student Anna Watterson was taken into hospital coughing up blood.

It was strange to be diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB)- an ancient disease associated with poverty - especially since Watterson was a well-off trainee lawyer living in the affluent British capital of London. Yet it was also a relief, she says, finally to know what had been making her ill for so long.

But when Watterson's infection refused to yield to the three-pronged antibiotic attack doctors prescribed to fight it, her relief turned to dread.

After six weeks of taking pills that had no effect, Watterson was told she had multi-drug resistant TB, or MDR-TB, and faced months in an isolation ward on a regimen of injected drugs that left her nauseous, bruised and unable to go out in the sun.

"My friends were really shocked," Watterson said. "Most of them had only heard of TB from reading Victorian novels."

Tuberculosis is often seen in the wealthy West as a disease of bygone eras - evoking impoverished 18th or 19th century women and children dying slowly of a disease then commonly known as "consumption" or the "white plague".

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:21:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People have been warning this was going to happen since 1975.  Been happening in India and Africa for five years (IIRC.)  Now that "trainee lawyers in London" are coming down with MDR-TB it's "A Plague."


And let's eliminate the Public Health Services as a waste of money.

Assholes.  Fuck 'em all with a rusty razor blade.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:24:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Khmer Rouge trial rocked by second resignation - News - Mail & Guardian Online
Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court was rocked on Monday by the second resignation of an international judge in recent months amid a row over whether to pursue more former regime members.

Swiss co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet said that his authority to investigate possible third and fourth cases at the tribunal had been constantly blocked by his Cambodian counterpart.

"Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet considers that the present circumstances no longer allow him to properly and freely perform his duties," a statement released by the court said.

In October, German judge Siegfried Blunk quit the court, blaming government interference in two potential new cases, in which five mid-level Khmer Rouge members face a string of allegations including mass killings and forced labour during the regime's 1975-1979 reign of terror.

The UN named Kasper-Ansermet, the reserve judge, as Blunk's replacement but Cambodia refused to recognise the appointment, prompting an unprecedented row and forcing the Swiss to work without the support of his Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng.

"The situation is completely blocked," Kasper-Ansermet said after announcing his resignation.

In the statement, he added that "You Bunleng's active opposition to investigations into cases 003 and 004 has led to a dysfunctional situation".
by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia Reports: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the FARC lied during release negotiations for ten security force hostages, in a press release Sunday.
Related item HERE.

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuban authorities detained a prominent dissident and dozens of her colleagues early Sunday, then rounded up more activists while they staged a weekly protest march through Havana just days before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.
More Cuban Odds and Ends.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelan prosecutors have appointed a group of experts to assist in an investigation into the killing of a Chilean diplomat's 19-year-old daughter by police. (...) Karen Berendique died after being shot by police on Friday night at an unmarked checkpoint in the western city of Maracaibo, the authorities said. Her father, Chilean honorary consul Fernando Berendique, called for better police training on Monday. He told the Venezuelan radio station Union Radio that at 9 p.m. on Friday, his son left home together with his daughter to drive her to a party several blocks from their home.

MercoPress: A Brazilian court barred 17 executives from Chevron and Transocean from leaving Brazil, pending criminal charges related to a high-profile oil spill last November. A second oil spill detected last week further complicated the situation.

BBC: A Brazilian federal judge has blocked a move to try a retired army colonel for abuses allegedly committed during the country's military dictatorship.  Prosecutors wanted Sebastiao de Moura to face criminal charges over the kidnap of five leftist guerrillas in the 1970s.

Tim's El Salvador Blog: In the past week, there has been a 53% decrease in the level of homicides in El Salvador from the weekly average in the first 9 weeks of 2012.   The online periodical El Faro published a report on Wednesday suggesting that this decrease was the result of a deal struck between the Salvadoran government and gang leaders.

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- El Salvador's government is giving $50-per-month pensions to thousands of elderly former leftist rebels who fought in the country's 1980-1992 civil war. The office of President Mauricio Funes says more than 2,600 former rebels over age 70 will get the pension.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 09:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neil Livingstone, who claims to be a security expert, is running in the Republican primary for Governor of Montana. He has published a book, with the reasonable-sounding title Protect Yourself in an Uncertain World: A Comprehensive Handbook for Your Personal and Business Security, available (for now) from Amazon for a few dollars. But you don't have to order it; somebody has scanned and posted some of it, and another blog includes highlights:
Never give a hooker your real name.  Alternatively, use only your first name. On the one hand, some experts say that you should never take a hooker back to your hotel room or apartment, as this invites trouble. On the other hand, your hotel is the safest place for a tryst.

Select a high quality brothel.  Patronizing a high quality, and therefore generally more expensive, brothel or escort service is always preferable to picking up a bar girl or streetwalker. Most brother operators are required to scrutinize the health of their employees and offer a generally safe environment for patrons. Some tony London brothels, for example, offer a high degree of cleanliness and security.

Double Pleasure can be Double Trouble. Never take those two for one deals.  When you get the women back to your room, one may rifle through your pockets while the other takes you around the world.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 07:27:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 04:58:08 PM EST
EU Fisheries Council sails into troubled waters | EurActiv

The EU Fisheries Council meeting on Monday will direct Europe's fishing fleets to confine their trawling off the coast of developing countries exclusively to "surplus resources" of fish, according to draft council conclusions seen by EurActiv.

This would give priority access to local fishermen, who depend on the seas for their communities' dietary needs.

"Due account should be taken of the coastal states' priorities in favour of its own fishing sector, while the Union should seek an appropriate share of the surplus resources," the document says.

But the conclusions stop short of measures that would reduce Europe's fleet capacity, a politically contested safeguard against further depletion of the world's rapidly dwindling fish stocks.

"This is the root of the problem," Saskia Richartz, a Greenpeace spokeswoman told EurActiv. "There are just too many boats, and not enough fish - and that encourages illegal fishing and overfishing, including by large EU trawlers in the developing world."

Greenpeace claims that in just 10 hours on 14 March, their ship the Arctic Sunrise took action to stop seven "EU mega-trawlers" - which can each catch up to 250 tonnes of fish a day - from hoovering up marine life off the West African coast.

The change on Monday would establish guidelines for making such practices illegal.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France and Spain back down on fish discards after internet campaign - Europe - World - The Independent

France and Spain today backed down over a plan to carry on throwing dead fish overboard after an internet campaign organised by a television chef.

Prior to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's social networking campaign, the two countries had been hoping to persuade fellow fisheries ministers to sign a declaration opposing a ban on discards, when trawlers exceeding their allowable catch throw back fish into the sea dead.

More than 130,000 Twitter and Facebook messages were sent to ministers urging them to oppose the draft declaration and France and Spain did not insist on a vote. Britain's fisheries minister Richard Benyon went into the meeting saying he would oppose France and Spain. The EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki now looks likely to phase out discards over four years, by reforming the Common Fisheries Policy in a way that ultimately kills fewer fish.

Last night Fearnley-Whittingstall told supporters: "I'm coming back on the Eurostar and it's been a satisfying day. Discard disaster has been averted as the French, Spanish, Portguese and Belgian revolution just didn't happen. Maria Damanaki led from the front and seems to be building consensus among the ministers. Everyone agreed that the amazing Twitter and Facebook activity over the weekend made a real difference."

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:38:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, I'm amazed. I really thought the French and Spanish would walk it. Of course, a treaty is one thing, compliance another

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 03:59:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Update for world temperature data

Researchers have updated HadCRUT - one of the main global temperate records, which dates back to 1850.

One of the main changes is the inclusion of more data from the Arctic region, which has experienced one of the greatest levels of warming.

The amendments do not change the long-term trend, but the data now lists 2010, rather than 1998, as the warmest year on record.

The update is reported in the published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

HadCRUT is compiled by the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit (Cru) at the University of East Anglia, and is one of three global records used extensively by climatologists.

The other two are produced by US-based researchers at Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

Cru's director, Phil Jones, explained why it was necessary to revise the UK record.

"HadCRUT is underpinned by observations and we've previously been clear it may not be fully capturing changes in the Arctic because we have had so little data from the area," he said.

"For the latest version, we have included observations from more than 400 (observation) stations across the Arctic, Russia and Canada."

Prof Jones added: "This has led to better representation of what's going on in the large geographical region."

Despite the revisions, the overall warming signal has not changed. The scientists say it has remained at about 0.75C (1.4F) since 1900.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:39:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The amendments do not change the long-term trend, but the data now lists 2010, rather than 1998, as the warmest year on record.

Which of course doesn't square with the satellite records.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 11:19:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that HadCRUT isn't the biggest outlier anymore, focus on UAH?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 05:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar industry faces subsidy cuts in Europe - The Washington Post

Shiny black solar panels are as common a sight as baroque church spires in this industrial hub, thanks to government subsidies that have helped make Germany a world leader in solar technology.

Now, sudden subsidy cuts here and elsewhere in Europe have thrown the industry into crisis just short of its ultimate goal: a price to generate solar energy that is no higher than fossil-fuel counterparts.

Across Europe, governments are slashing public spending to cut their deficits, and green-energy subsidies are a target, too, even as solar power accelerates in the United States, helped by sympathetic federal policies and an increase in subsidies that came as part of the federal stimulus program.

German policymakers indicated last week that they planned to cut once-generous subsidies as much as 29 percent by the end of the month, on top of a 15 percent cut in January, although some details were still being negotiated after protests from the solar industry. Britain and Italy have made similar moves, and in January, Spain abandoned its subsidies altogether, prompting outrage from the solar industry.

Just months ago, a solar firm planting a field of solar panels atop one of Hanover's many sprawling warehouses would have been sure to turn a profit. Now, one solar developer who plans to do that says he'll be lucky to break even now that the subsidies are drying up.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:40:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Winds of change blow through China as spending on renewable energy soars | World news | The Guardian

The remote, wind-blasted desert of northwestern Gansu could be the most unloved, environmentally abused corner of China. It is home to the country's first oilfield and several of the coalmines and steel factories that have contributed to China's notoriety as the planet's biggest polluter and carbon dioxide emitter.

But in the past few years, the landscape has started to undergo a transformation as Gansu has moved to the frontline of government efforts to reinvent China's economy with a massive investment in renewable energy.

The change is evident soon after driving across the plains from Jiuquan, an ancient garrison town on the Silk Road that is now a base for more than 50 energy companies.

Wind turbines, which were almost unknown five years ago, stretch into the distance, competing only with far mountains and new pylons for space on the horizon. Jiuquan alone now has the capacity to generate 6GW of wind energy - roughly equivalent to that of the whole UK. The plan is to more than triple that by 2015, when this area could become the biggest windfarm in the world.

This is the other side of China's development. Although it is the world's biggest CO2 emitter and notorious for building the equivalent of a 400MW coal-fired power station every three days, it is also erecting 36 wind turbines a day and building a robust new electricity grid to send this power thousands of miles across the country from the deserts of the west to the cities of the east.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:40:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yay !!

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 04:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. solar to get Obama aid in battle with China | Reuters

President Barack Obama's administration is expected to throw its weight behind U.S. solar panel producers on Tuesday in their battle against lower-priced imports from China that they say threaten the future of the industry in the United States.

A coalition of seven U.S. manufacturers has asked for duties topping 100 percent on Chinese-made solar cells and panels, which they say are subsidized by the Chinese government and "dumped" in the United States at unfairly low prices.

The case, which was filed last year, has created more friction in the U.S.-China trade relationship, already strained by clashes over Beijing's currency policies and U.S. duties on a number of other Chinese goods.

China's biggest solar manufacturers, which include Suntech Power Holdings Co, Trina Solar, and JA Solar Holdings, generate more than 20 percent of their annual sales in the United States, making it the second-largest market for them after Europe.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Global sea level likely to rise as much as 70 feet for future generations
Even if humankind manages to limit global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends, future generations will have to deal with sea levels 12 to 22 meters (40 to 70 feet) higher than at present, according to research published in the journal Geology.

The researchers, led by Kenneth G. Miller, professor of earth and planetary sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, reached their conclusion by studying rock and soil cores in Virginia, Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific and New Zealand. They looked at the late Pliocene epoch, 2.7 million to 3.2 million years ago, the last time the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was at its current level, and atmospheric temperatures were 2 degrees C higher than they are now.

"The difference in water volume released is the equivalent of melting the entire Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets, as well as some of the marine margin of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet," said H. Richard Lane, program director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the work. "Such a rise of the modern oceans would swamp the world's coasts and affect as much as 70 percent of the world's population."

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:48:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet imminent ? I know it's shrinking but the Greenland ice sheet collapse is much more likely and yet I'm sure I saw that recent studies have suggested that probably won't happen this century.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 04:03:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"You don't need to sell your beach real estate yet, because melting of these large ice sheets will take from centuries to a few thousand years," Miller said. "The current trajectory for the 21st century global rise of sea level is 2 to 3 feet (0.8 to1 meter) due to warming of the oceans, partial melting of mountain glaciers, and partial melting of Greenland and Antarctica."

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 Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 04:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Energy giants Statoil and Exxon target East African gas

The balmy waters of the Indian Ocean, close to East Africa, are a long way from the cold and notoriously stormy North Sea, but Tanzania could soon be profitable territory for Statoil of Norway.

Statoil and its American partner Exxon Mobil have made the biggest offshore discovery yet of gas reserves off the coast of Tanzania.

The Zafarani field, which both companies hope will be bigger than first estimates suggest, is close to the region off the coast of Mozambique, where even bigger deposits of gas are being developed by Anadarko and ENI.

"This is the biggest discovery made outside Norway by Statoil ever," a delighted Statoil vice president, Tim Dodson, tells the BBC.

But beyond the impact on Statoil itself, Mr Dodson recognises how the discovery could transform the fortunes of an East African country that has in the past focused more on safari tourism than oil and gas.

"This is [also] the biggest discovery that has been made offshore Tanzania and in that respect it's extremely important for [both] Statoil and Tanzania," he says.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japanese Nuclear Crisis Planning Still Trails Global Standards - WSJ.com

As a critical decision looms about whether to restart Japan's nuclear power plants, a sobering obstacle is becoming clearer: emergency plans for millions of people living near reactors nationwide are far below international standards.

As a result, many communities would be ill-prepared for any future Fukushima-style accident, even if they are well within a Fukushima-size evacuation radius.

In the next few weeks, Japan's prime minister is expected to formally ask government officials in Fukui prefecture here to accept a local utility's restart request, setting up a soul-searching national debate. And by early April, new disaster guidelines are expected to take effect to address the lack of emergency planning. Those new guidelines could, in fact, make it tougher for Japan to restart its reactors--in part by giving more municipalities a voice in whether they are willing to accept nuclear power in their midst.

After last year's nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi--precipitated by the one-two punch of March 2011's earthquake and tsunami--Japan began shutting down its reactors one-by-one, cutting off about 30% of nationwide electrical generating capacity. The only two reactors still running will go offline by late next month. Utilities were asked to test the reactors' resiliency against natural disaster, and panels of government-appointed experts began reassessing nuclear safety standards.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 06:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 04:58:12 PM EST
Telecom firms in scramble for cashless mobile wallets | EurActiv

The United Kingdom's three largest mobile operators filed an application with the European Commission for approval of a new cashless mobile wallet venture last week, joining a Dutch proposal under consideration by the EU executive against a background of growing international competition.

The EU executive's decision on the proposed UK joint venture - code-named Project Oscar and owned by Everything Everywhere, Telefónica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK - will be watched carefully by rival companies considering similar ventures.

Consortia in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary are eager to develop platforms for rolling out mobile wallets.

The Commission is simultaneously still considering an older proposal by a Dutch consortium, called Travik, for its `Sixpack' mobile wallet proposal, which has sustained delays over regulatory issues.

The development of mobile and online payment systems are being closely watched by the Commission, which wants to integrate the European market and launched a public consultation on the issue in January.

Dutch proposal still in the pipeline

Travik - which includes KPN and Vodafone Netherlands, as well as banks ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank - was unveiled in late 2010, and hoped to launch this year, but since then determined that it needed regulatory approval from the European Commission.

The companies are seeking to develop technical and commercial specifications for mobile wallet platforms at a sensitive time, since the Commission is simultaneously mulling a consultation on digital payments, and competition from overseas is heating up.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:01:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Albert Einstein's complete archives to be posted online | Science | The Guardian

Albert Einstein's complete archives - from personal correspondence with half a dozen lovers to notebooks scribbled with his groundbreaking research - are going online for the first time.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the German Jewish physicist's papers, is pulling never-before seen items from its climate-controlled safe, photographing them in high resolution and posting them online - offering the public a nuanced and fuller portrait of the man behind the scientific genius.

Only 900 manuscript images, and an incomplete catalogue listing just half of the archive's contents, had been available online since 2003. Now, with a grant from the Polonsky Foundation UK, which previously helped digitise Isaac Newton's papers, all 80,000 items from the Einstein collection have been catalogued and enhanced with cross referencing technology.

The updated web portal, unveiled on Monday, features the full inventory of the Einstein archives, publicising for the first time the entirety of what's inside the collection and giving scholars a chance to request access to items they previously never knew existed.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurovision: light entertainment in a dark place - Europe - World - The Independent

It is seen by Britons as a celebration of kitsch - a harmless event which millions watch despite our chance of victory being close to nil. But for many citizens of this year's host country, Azerbaijan, the Eurovision Song Contest has brought misery as the government has forcibly evicted thousands from their homes in the run-up to the competition.

The BBC will today unveil the song that 75-year-old Englebert Humperdinck, pictured right, will sing at the event in May, at what could be the most controversial Eurovision since it was held in Franco's fascist Spain.

When Azerbaijan won the right to host Eurovision, the government of President Ilham Aliyev saw a chance to showcase the gas-rich country's burgeoning economy. Activists, meanwhile, were optimistic that such a high-profile event would pressure the authoritarian regime to address its abysmal human-rights record.

Now, rights groups say the situation has in fact got worse. A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last month detailed how an ongoing "beautification" scheme for the capital Baku has led to thousands of people being forcibly evicted from their homes, often in contravention of court orders.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:01:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Norway's population past the 5 million mark | News

On this day, Monday March 19th, Norway's population officially passed the 5 million mark, according to Statistics Norway (SSB). The first million was reached in 1822. 

In 1665, Norway's population was 440 000. It had grown to one million by 1822, two million by 1890, three million by 1942 and four million by 1975.

There were born 61 500 children in Norway in 2010, which is somewhat fewer than in 2009. The number of births describes the average number of babies born per woman during her reproductive period. In the mid-1980s, the number ranged between 1.66 and 1.75, but it has increased over the past seven years. For the years 2001-2005 the average was 1.80. Norwegian women's fertility rate is among the highest in Europe, SSB reports.

Immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents accounted for 11.4 per cent of Norway's population per 1 January 2010. The 552 000 immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents come from more than 200 different countries.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How The Mike Daisey Fiasco Is Affecting Apple - Forbes

When I saw actor Mike Daisey perform his monologue, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," at the Public Theater on February 11, I had already read the New York Times's dramatic, carefully written January 25 exposé on the harsh conditions at the Chinese factories that assemble Apple iPhones and iPads and products for hundreds of other electronics makers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sony. I knew about the suicide nets surrounding the gigantic Foxconn plant in southern China, the explosions at factories that had killed four and injured more than 100, the horribly long hours, and the underage workers.

What seemed odd about Daisey's account: his claim that he had scooped the Times and other western reporters, simply by traveling to Foxconn's main plant in Shenzhen, and standing outside the gates for a few days, interviewing workers with the help of a translator named Cathy. Daisey, who started performing his monologue in 2010, had gathered some striking specifics, like his encounters with numerous 12-, 13- and 14-year-old employees, his conversations with workers exposed to the neurotoxin N-Hexane and his exchange with one worker whose hand, Daisey said, had been mangled in a machine, and who had never seen a working iPad. If it was so easy to get this information, I wondered, why hadn't the Western media done broader reporting on these abuses before 2012.

As Apple-watchers know, a shortened version of Daisey's theater piece was broadcast on the public radio show, "This American Life" on Jan. 6, and became the show's most downloaded show. Then Rob Schmitz, the Shanghai bureau chief for another public radio show, "Marketplace," tried to verify what Schmitz thought were suspect parts of Daisey's piece. It turned out Daisey had lied to "This American Life's" fact-checkers, claiming that he had no way to reach the translator. Schmitz tracked her down easily (he simply put "Cathy and translator and Shenzhen" into Google and hers was the first number that popped up). The translator told Schmitz that Daisey had not met any underage workers, or employees exposed to Hexane, and he didn't interview a man with a mangled hand.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:01:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iron Lady lost in Russian translation | World news | The Guardian

Speaking to a crowd of supporters, Margaret Thatcher, as played by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, explains what she would do as prime minister: "Crush the working class, crush the scum, the yobs."

At least that is a scene from a pirated version of the film in Russia, which has been inadvertently reviewed by one of the country's top film critics without realising that some rather pointed changes to the script had been made.

The pirated Russian translation of the film, voiced over in a monotone by one man, depicts Thatcher as a bloodthirsty, Hitler-admiring leader, whose fondest desire is to destroy the working class. While some of her critics might say this is an accurate representation of her plans, even her fiercest enemy would concede the Russian version takes it too far.

The translation, no matter how over the top, has fooled at least one film critic on the Russian newspaper Kommersant, who quoted parts of the pirated version in a generally positive review.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:01:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it is easiest to fool people with something that is true and for that it has to be plausible. Frankly even I could believe thatcher said those things and I was there, so why shouldn't a russian.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 04:07:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adventures In Behavioral Neurology--or--what Neurology Can Tell Us About Human Nature | Conversation | Edge
Let me tell you about the problem confronting us. The brain is a 1.5 kilogram mass of jelly, the consistency of tofu, you can hold it in the palm of your hand, yet it can contemplate the vastness of space and time, the meaning of infinity and the meaning of existence. It can ask questions about who am I, where do I come from, questions about love and beauty, aesthetics, and art, and all these questions arising from this lump of jelly. It is truly the greatest of mysteries. The question is how does it come about?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 10:22:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Responses | 2012 Annual Question | Edge

One could always respond that God created the universe and made it simple enough so that we can comprehend it. This would match the words about a miracle and an undeserved gift. But shall we give up so easily? Let us consider several other questions of a similar type. Why is our universe so large? Why parallel lines do not intersect? Why different parts of the universe look so similar? For a long time such questions looked too metaphysical to be considered seriously. Now we know that inflationary cosmology provides a possible answer to all of these questions. Let us see whether it might help us again.

To understand the issue, consider some examples of an incomprehensible universe where mathematics would be inefficient. Here is the first one: Suppose the universe is in a state with the Planck density r ~ 1094 g/cm3. Quantum fluctuations of space-time in this regime are so large that all rulers are rapidly bending and shrinking in an unpredictable way. This happens faster than one could measure distance. All clocks are destroyed faster than one could measure time. All records about the previous events become erased, so one cannot remember anything and predict the future. The universe is incomprehensible for anybody living there, and the laws of mathematics cannot be efficiently used.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 10:42:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Responses | 2012 Annual Question | Edge

The first time I saw a fitness landscape cartoon (in Garrett Hardin's Man And Nature, 1969), I knew it was giving me advice on how not to get stuck over-adapted--hence overspecialized--on some local peak of fitness, when whole mountain ranges of opportunity could be glimpsed in the distance, but getting to them involved venturing "downhill" into regions of lower fitness. I learned to distrust optimality.

Fitness landscapes (sometimes called "adaptive landscapes") keep turning up when people try to figure out how evolution or innovation works in a complex world. An important critique by Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert of early optimism about artificial intelligence warned that seemingly intelligent agents would dumbly "hill climb" to local peaks of illusory optimality and get stuck there. Complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman used fitness landscapes to visualize his ideas about the "adjacent possible" in 1993 and 2000, and that led in turn to Steven Johnson's celebration of how the "adjacent possible" works for innovation in Where Good Ideas Come From.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 10:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 04:58:22 PM EST
Video: 'Batman' helps police tackle crime in Brazil - Telegraph

The man behind the black rubber suit is in fact a 50-year-old retired police officer, Andre Luiz Pinheiro, who is taking the fight against crime to schools in the area.

Making presentations to dozens of excited children, the comic book hero is lecturing children on the perils of drug trafficking - the cause of much of the city's crime - in an area which has one of the highest crime rates in Sao Paulo state.

Taking more of a back-seat to crime prevention than his all-action comic book counterpart, Pinheiro believes his "battle" is no less significant in the fight against the bad guys.

"I will not actually battle crime. But I do think I am fighting crime in a preventive way, by helping these children to avoid becoming criminals. This is my job, this is my battle," Pinheiro said.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NASA | Evolution of the Moon - YouTube
From year to year, the moon never seems to change. Craters and other formations appear to be permanent now, but the moon didn't always look like this. Thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have a better look at some of the moon's history.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 07:10:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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