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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 26 March

by dvx Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 04:04:15 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1827 - death of Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer (b. 1770)

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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 EUROPE 



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 25th, 2012 at 11:23:47 AM EST
Merkel faces tough state votes - International | IOL Business | IOL.co.za

The German state of Saarland votes on Sunday in the first of a trio of regional elections that could cripple Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners, weakening her centre-right government ahead of next year's federal election.

Popular for her steady handling of the euro zone debt crisis, the conservative chancellor plans to seek a third term in 2013, but will almost surely be forced to find a new partner, with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) facing extinction from parliament at both the state and national level.

Her Christian Democrats (CDU) are running neck-and-neck with their main rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD), in Saarland and the most likely outcome is a "grand coalition" government of the two Volksparteien (People's Parties) - a result which could be a harbinger of the outcome in next year's federal election.

The snap vote in Saarland on the French border was triggered by parochial infighting in the FDP which brought down the fragile alliance of CDU, Greens and FDP that had ruled for the past two years.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CDU wins Saarland election | News | DW.DE | 25.03.2012

In the southwestern German state of Saarland, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has won and will remain the leading party in the coalition following snap elections.

The CDU brought in 35.2 percent of the vote, according to early election returns. They are expected to form a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), which polled just over 30 percent.

The Left party won 16.1 percent of the vote.

Entering the state parliament for the first time will be the Pirate Party, which polled 7.4 percent. The Green Party barely cleared the mandatory five percent hurdle required for parliamentary representation. The Free Democrats (FDP), however, only polled 1.2 percent and will not be represented, representing a drastic drop in support from 2009 when they polled 9.2 percent in state elections.

This further weakens the coalition of CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel, who created a coalition with the FDP at the national level. The FDP's popularity has been in a downward spiral of late, which could lead Merkel to seek a new coalition partner when she stands for reelection to a third term as chancellor in 2013.



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 25th, 2012 at 03:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was another early election which I hope to have federal influence, too: a mayoral election in my onetime semi-hometown Frankfurt.

Frankfurt's mayor Petra Roth (CDU) had enough after 17 years and announced her resignation for 1 July 2012. She proposed Hessen state's interior minister Boris Rhein, another law-and-order yuppie with fifties-style thick-framed glasses, as her successor. The local SPD, which 'won' a historic low of just over 20% of votes in the last city council elections, did the same thing its state mother party did when choosing Andrea Ypsilanti for the 2008 Hessen state elections: an unknown left-winger (one Peter Feldmann) was chosen by direct election of the party base.

Now Frankfurt is famous as the first mayor city in Germany trying an across-the-aisle CDU-Greens coalition in the city council. Unlike other attempts since, it proved stable, a fact also connected to local specialities like Petra Roth's style and notorious internal conflicts in the local SPD. But the question was, will Green voters swallow someone like Rhein? The answer is a no with a surprising, crushing clarity.

That unknown SPD left-winger first levelled the field with a down-to-earth social campaign and focus on a Green theme (noise at the new runway of Frankfurt airport which led to sponetaneous protests) and made it into the second round in second place. Then everyone expected a hard-fought race, but yesterday Feldmann won the second round by 57.4% to 42.6%, clearly scooping both Greens and Left Party voters. (The first-round Left Party candidate congratulated him personally.)

The local question now is: how long will the Greens maintain the coalition with the CDU. The federal question is: will the federal SPD (whose leadership participated in the campaign) think it over regarding the possibility of winning elections with a leftist platform...

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

by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 05:20:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He also seems to be the first Jewish mayor of  a German city since Ludwig Landmann  (also Frankfurt).
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 02:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO, Russia look headed for conflict | World | DW.DE | 24.03.2012

When NATO holds its summit this May in Chicago, there will not be the customary additional summit with Russia. Differences over NATO's missile shield plans have put dialogue and cooperation temporarily on hold.

Leaders in Moscow and Brussels carefully chose their words this week to downplay what is a clear impasse.

"The dialogue continues, and no doors are being closed," outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told reporters on Friday, March 23. Medvedev was referring to the announcement the previous day by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that the bloc would not be meeting with Russia when it convenes in Chicago in May.

The official reason given was difficulty in accommodating the schedule of future Russian President Vladimir Putin. But earlier Rasmussen had said a NATO-Russia summit would only take place if the two sides could reach agreement on NATO's planned missile defense system in Europe, which Moscow stiffly opposes.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Toulouse shooting: failure to find first target led assassin to Jewish school | World news | The Observer

The killing of three Jewish children and a teacher might never have happened, it emerged this weekend, if the Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah had murdered his original target last Monday. Before being killed in a shootout at his apartment, Merah told police he did not set out to slaughter his victims at a school in the southern French city but had "improvised" after missing a chance to kill a French soldier.

The school murders, following Merah's previous execution-style killing of three soldiers who served in Afghanistan, have traumatised France ahead of presidential elections.

During a 32-hour siege, he told police that after gunning down the three paratroopers he had already identified another member of the military in Toulouse as his next target. After turning up to kill the man on Monday morning, he discovered his target had left home earlier than expected. On the spur of the moment, Merah turned his high-powered scooter around and headed for a nearby Jewish school. He dismounted and put the scooter on its stand before shooting at point-blank range at three children under the age of ten waiting for a school bus.

It has also been revealed how Merah, who claimed to be linked to an al-Qaida fringe group, had fooled investigators after being summoned to explain visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan in November. The 23-year-old claimed he had gone on holiday to find a bride and showed them tourist snaps he had loaded on to a pen drive to verify his story.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:41:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Top Tories admit: we got it wrong on third runway at Heathrow | Environment | The Observer

Radical options to increase airport capacity in the south-east - including developing RAF Northolt on the edge of London - are being urgently considered by the government amid growing fears that its decision to rule out a third runway at Heathrow is choking off economic growth.

According to senior sources, both David Cameron and George Osborne have been convinced of the need to act - and re-examine long-term policy on Heathrow - after being lobbied by overseas leaders and business figures who warn that trade will move elsewhere in the EU unless the airport is expanded.

While the coalition agreement rules out a third runway at Heathrow, which would never be tolerated by the pro-green Liberal Democrats, many Tories now want the party to admit the decision was wrong and back the new runway in the manifesto for the next general election. In the meantime, however, ministers have ordered officials to examine a series of other options. One is the use of RAF Northolt in Ruislip, north-west London, for business flights, to ease pressure on Heathrow, just 13 miles away. Developing Northolt - and perhaps connecting it to Heathrow with a high speed rail link - would allow the government to avoid accusations of a U-turn as the third runway would then be some distance from the main airport.

Tim Yeo, the Tory chairman of the energy and climate change select committee, said that he had "completely changed" his mind on Heathrow expansion and now believed there was no option but to build a third runway to ensure the south of England remained a worldwide aviation hub.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:41:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would locals want to be a worldwide aviation hub? Are there complaints about noise?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they're gonna do something stupid like put more aviation into the South East, it would make more sense to put a second runway into Gatwick and enforce a change in the way the two inter-relate to even out the demand.

Frankly it owuld make more sense to make more use of regional airports like Birmingham and Bristol, uprating the rail connections into London.

It makes no sense to fly into Heathrow and walk for 20 minutes to the terminal as you can do now, a situation which would only be made worse with a 3rd runway cos the layout simply cannot be made to cope with higher throughput. It makes more sense to spread the load.

But when your govt is driven by market forces, idiocy prevails

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 07:22:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NGO: Germany still financing cluster bombs, despite pledge | Germany | DW.DE | 25.03.2012

Cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines are banned by international treaties. But German banks are still investing in the manufacturers of these products, despite a commitment to stop.

Branislav Kapetanovic did not own any Deutsche Bank shares. Nevertheless, he was in attendance when the largest German financial institution held its shareholders meeting last May.

For many years, the 46-year-old Serb worked as a trained mine clearance officer, defusing cluster bombs of the type BLU 97, until an accident left him without arms and legs. At the invitation of the Umbrella Association of Critical Shareholders, Kapetanovic came to the podium in Frankfurt Festhalle in his wheelchair. He told shareholders how his body was mutilated in an explosion of a weapon he himself wanted to render harmless.

"I'm glad I can speak to you here today, because the Deutsche Bank is a major financier of cluster munitions worldwide," he told a shocked audience.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:42:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Army on standby as petrol tanker drivers vote on strike action | UK news | The Guardian

Preparations are being made to call in the military to deliver petrol if tanker drivers stage a national strike, in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes that followed blockades by fuel protesters in 2000.

The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, called on the Unite union, which is balloting drivers at seven fuel distribution firms, to seek an agreement with distribution companies. But he said the government had "learned the lessons of the past" and was prepared to do what was necessary to prevent fuel shortages for motorists and the emergency services.

While the government is refusing to publicly confirm specific contingency plans, officials say ministers are prepared to use emergency powers to allow 300 army tanker drivers to distribute fuel if needed. The military drivers will begin extra training next week in preparation for a possible strike, the BBC reported separately.

Ballot results from about 2,000 tanker drivers, about 90% of all those who deliver fuel to UK petrol stations, will be announced by Unite on Monday. The vote was called last month amid union concerns about safety and training, among other issues. A strike could begin from 3 April.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:43:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the last time the fuel depots were blockaded. How are the army going to get into them ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 07:24:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Injured student protester faces trial for violent disorder | UK news | The Guardian

A philosophy student who claimed he suffered head injuries from a police baton during the anti-fees protest in London faces trial on Monday for violent disorder at the demonstration.

Supporters of Alfie Meadows, 21, who underwent emergency surgery for his injuries, have vowed to demonstrate outside Kingston crown court, in Surrey, against what they say is an attempt to silence legitimate protest by pursuing the victim of an assault rather than investigating any police who allegedly carried it out.

Meadows had brain surgery after the anti-fees demonstration in December 2010 when he said he was struck over the head with a police truncheon. He was one of 44 people, including six police officers, treated in hospital after rioting broke out at the demonstration over student fees.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:43:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How dare he damage police truncheons with his skull !! These are insturments of the State and interference to them will be punished

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 07:25:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tory treasurer's cash-for-access claims unacceptable, says David Cameron | Politics | The Guardian

David Cameron has described revelations that the Tory party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas offered access to the prime minister and chancellor for up to £250,000 as "completely unacceptable" and said it was not the way the Conservatives raised money, as he faced demands for an independent inquiry.

Cruddas resigned after footage emerged of him apparently making the offer to undercover reporters. Cameron moved quickly to try to minimise damage, instructing the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, and the Conservative party co-chairman Andrew Feldman to urgently progress talks on political funding, according to the influential ConservativeHome website.

Cameron said: "What happened was completely unacceptable. This is not the way that we raise money in the Conservative party, it shouldn't have happened. It's quite right that Peter Cruddas resigned. I'll make sure there is a proper party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again."

But the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said the announcement of an internal inquiry did not to far enough, calling for "a full independent investigation to reassure the British public". He said the investigation should cover "what happened, who knew what happened and what contributions were made".



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 25th, 2012 at 01:24:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But he admits he had dinner with them.

And frankly, it's how government has been run since I can remember. Free speech is expensive, always has been. The more money you have, the free-er the speech.

The Bernie Ecclestone Affair will be long remembered as Labour's exposure to the same tendencies.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 07:29:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice Beethoven piece you posted there dvx . Thanks!
by sgr2 on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 04:45:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: The ESM extension-fudge in full
There is some movement in the debate about the ESM extension, as Germany is now ready to discuss the issue;but Angela Merkel is still likely to resist any options that would lead to a permanent increase in the size of the ESM; there are three options on the table, with a majority view support a temporary co-existence of the EFSF and ESM; Germany prefers only a merger with existing EFSF commitments; according to a legal opinion, an extension of the ESM that raises Germany's total risk above €211bn would require a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag; Austria's Greens are threatening to blocks the ESM and the EFSF; Wolfgang Münchau says the planned extension of the ESM is yet another fudge, which financial markets and the G20 will eventually see through; Mario Monti expressed concern about a contagion of the Spanish crisis to Italy; Olli Rehn blames Spain's lacklustre deficit efforts for the rise in spreads; a Commission report shows that the Greek fiscal adjustment in the last two years is smaller than what Spain is asked to do in the next two years; Mariano Rajoy's PP fails to win Andalusia, which remains a strong-hold of the left; Angela Merkel's CDU wins the Saarland election, and is likely to govern in a grand coalition with the SPD; German finance ministry says the Target 2 debate is hogwash; Thomas Mirow warns eurozone member states not to include the EBRD in the horse-trading of eurozone jobs; Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, continues to gain in the polls, but he is still a long way from a lead in the second round.


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 26th, 2012 at 03:37:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence: The ESM extension-fudge in full (26.03.2012)
The Spanish fiscal adjustment target is more ambitious than what happened in Greece

This is an interesting article in El Pais this morning. The 5.5% fiscal adjustment Spain is required to undertake in the next two years, would amount to a bigger fiscal adjustment than of Greece in the last two years, which was less than 5%, citing the latest monitoring reports of the European Commission. The article says the only advantage Spain still enjoys that it remains in full control over how to achieve the adjustment, as it is not in an EFSF programme. The article says the scale adjustment was historically unprecedented.



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 26th, 2012 at 03:43:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article also says that the consequences of adjustment have been "devastating" with Greece "in depression", Portugal "on its way to a second rescue", and Ireland possibly having trouble repaying the ECB loans.

In the meantime, the Serious People are being Serious again:

Monti concerned about Spain

Reuters reports that Mario Monti expressed concern about Spain's public finances, warning that it would not take much to reignite the euro zone debt crisis. He said Spain had made progress on labour market reforms but did not pay the same attention to public finances." He said this caused concerned as Italian yields were already rising.  He said a fresh eruption of the euro zone crisis could cancel out the progress made in Italy and "take us back months."  The FT reports that Olli Rehn, who spoke at the same conference as Monti, said: "Because there was a perception that Spain was relaxing its fiscal targets for this year, there has been already been a market reaction of several dozen basis points on yields of Spanish bonds."



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 26th, 2012 at 03:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, the 3% deficit limits is bollocks.

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 26th, 2012 at 04:25:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I think that over the past two years the deficit reduction in Greece has certainly been over 6% of GDP... See here and here for example...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 08:37:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, when you're in the midst of a depression, with GDP contracting by leaps and bounds, it pays to include budget cuts as well into the math and not just the budget deficit. Greece has slashed its budget by 34%, which has hugely impacted GDP, so the Greek budget deficit still looks so large precisely because the economy is collapsing.
by Upstate NY on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 09:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Greek budget deficit still looks so large precisely because the economy is collapsingit is not yet zero

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 26th, 2012 at 09:31:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Affaire Merah: Joly pense que Squarcini et Péchenard devraient démissionner - Libération Merah Case: Joly think Squarcini and Péchenard should resign - Liberation
Eva Joly a estimé dimanche que le directeur central du renseignement intérieur (DCRI), Bernard Squarcini, et le patron de la police, Frédéric Péchenard, devraient démissionner en raison des "dysfonctionnements" dans le traitement de l'affaire Merah.Eva Joly said Sunday that the central director of Internal Intelligence (DCRI), Bernard Squarcini, and the police chief, Frederic Péchenard, should resign because of "failures" in the handling of the case Merah.
"Dans n'importe quel autre pays démocratique, M. Squarcini et M. Péchenard n'oseraient plus se montrer. Voir aujourd'hui qu'ils pavoisent et qu'ils expliquent que la France a besoin d'un nouveau texte" pour "permettre de surveiller l'internet sans limites" est anormal, a déclaré la candidate EELV à la présidentielle et ancienne magistrate sur BFM-TV."In any other democratic country, Mr. M. Squarcini and Péchenard would not dare to show themselves. To see them triumphing today and explaining that France needs a new law" to " monitor Internet without limits "is an aberration", said the EELV candidate for president and former judge on BFM-TV.
Relancée, elle a ajouté que "ces deux responsables devraient démissionner parce que leurs services ont dysfonctionné et ce dysfonctionnement n'est pas nouveau". "M. Squarcini est mis en examen pour avoir violé les règles et espionné les journalistes, dont les sources sont protégées", a-t-elle souligné.
«Mise en scène»
She added that "these two officials should resign because their services have dysfunctions and this dysfunction is not new." "Mr. Squarcini was indicted for violating the rules and spied on journalists, whose sources are protected," she said. "Staging"
"Il n'avait pas démissionné alors mais aujourd'hui, alors que nous avons un dysfonctionnement tellement évident et avec des conséquences tellement dramatiques pour notre communauté, comment est-ce possible qu'il reste en poste ?", s'est-elle interrogée."He had not resigned but then today when we have a malfunction so obvious and so with dramatic consequences for our community, how is it possible that he remains in office?", She has questioned.
Mme Joly a par ailleurs reproché au ministre de l'Intérieur "d'avoir fait une mise en scène, qui jette de la suspicion sur l'enquête. C'est inutile".Ms. Joly has also criticized the interior minister "of putting on a show, which casts doubt on the investigation. It is not useful".
"On a vu un Claude Guéant qui commentait en temps réel, qui se faisait le haut-parleur des dires du suspect et en fait donnait une forme de crédibilité à sa parole. Il était dans tous les rôles, il était à la fois ministre de l'Intérieur, celui qui dirige l'enquête, celui qui dirige le Raid, celui qui fait le journaliste", a-t-elle ajouté."We saw Claude Gueant commenting in real time, who was relaying the pronouncements of the suspect and in fact gave a form of credibility to his word. He was in all roles, he was at the same time Interior Minister, directing the investigation, leader of the SWAT team, and make-believe journalist, "she added.
"Je demande à ce qu'on rentre dans l'ordre et qu'on ne pense pas que c'est parce que Claude Guéant était là que les choses se sont résolues", a-t-elle insisté."I demand that everyone should be in their rightful role, and we should not imagine that it's because Claude Gueant was there that things were resolved," she insisted.
"Nicolas Sarkozy était dans son rôle de président. C'est Claude Guéant qui n'était pas" dans le sien. "Quand on connaît la proximité entre les deux hommes, on peut voir qu'il y a eu une mise en scène et je dénonce cette mise en scène", a poursuivi Eva Joly."Nicolas Sarkozy was in his role as president. It was Claude who was not" in his place. "When you know how close the two men are, one can see that there was a mise en scène and I denounce this mise en scène," continued Eva Joly.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:43:39 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 25th, 2012 at 11:24:07 AM EST
Rehn tells Spain: Stick to deficit targets - FT.com

The European Union's top economic official said the recent sharp rise in Spanish borrowing costs was the result of perceptions Madrid was seeking to wiggle out of tough deficit-shrinking targets and called on the Spanish government to push through more austerity measures.

Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, acknowledged trying to balance the need for budget discipline and growth-enhancing policies was proving difficult for Spain, which has suffered one of the sharpest economic downturns in the eurozone.

Despite signs Spain was headed to one of Europe's deeper recessions, Mr Rehn said Madrid would only regain market confidence by sticking to EU-mandated deficit targets, which require the Spanish government to cut its deficit to 3 per cent of economic output by next year. Last year's deficit was 8.5 per cent, meaning Madrid must make some of the deepest cuts of any eurozone country outside Greece.

Jitters over the Spanish economy sent borrowing rates on benchmark 10-year bonds above 5.5 per cent last week for the first time in more than two months, and they have been trading above Italian rates for the first time since last summer. On Friday, Spanish bonds rallied slightly, ending the week at just below 5.4 per cent.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Auditors on alert over Chinese results - FT.com

A new wave of scandals involving Chinese companies listed overseas could hit New York and Hong Kong in the coming weeks as the annual results season get under way with auditors on high alert for fraud.

Auditors are under great pressure this year to detect discrepancies in their clients' results, having faced embarrassment and legal action in 2011 following dozens of accounting scandals at Chinese companies listed in North America.

In the last fortnight, Deloitte has resigned as auditor of two Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies: Boshiwa International, a maker of children's wear, and Daqing Dairy Holdings, which produces milk formula.

Hundreds of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong are preparing to file their financial results for the year ended December 2011 in the coming days ahead of a deadline on March 31. For those listed in New York, annual reports on Form 20-F are due by April 30, two months earlier than 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 25th, 2012 at 12:08:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Madoff FBI Files Reveal How He Fooled His Own Employees - Bloomberg

After several drinks at a Greek restaurant on Manhattan's Third Avenue in the summer of 2006, two computer programmers at Bernard Madoff's investment firm asked their supervisor whether the boss's business was a scam.

Chief Financial Officer Frank DiPascali laughed off the question, telling George Perez and Jerome O'Hara that Madoff was honest. DiPascali would later tell the FBI he wondered why they took so long to ask.

His chronicle of the dinner, and the lengths to which Madoff went to convince employees that his massive fraud was a legitimate business, were revealed for the first time in FBI reports made public last week. Attached to court filings by ex- Madoff employees facing fraud charges, they contain interviews with DiPascali -- Madoff's chief aide -- who in 2009 pleaded guilty to his role in the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.

Once, when Perez and O'Hara confronted Madoff and asked why there was no sign of stock trades, Madoff exploded, DiPascali told the FBI.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:08:29 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 25th, 2012 at 11:24:25 AM EST
As Supreme Court justices review health-care law, stakes will be hard to ignore - The Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Monday joins the nation's vitriolic debate over the landmark health-care law and the limits of federal power. And though thousands of pages of legal arguments about the Constitution's history and the court's precedents have landed on justices' desks, the outcome may also hinge on less tangible factors.

Public opinion. The nation's volatile political climate. The court's self-consciousness about its own partisan divide. And the pivotal role it plays in deciding the nation's thorniest social issues.

Experts say all of those go into the mix as justices consider the extraordinary step of striking down -- for the first time since the New Deal -- a monumental domestic program proposed by the president and passed by Congress.

The three days of arguments that begin Monday are the inevitable result of a legal battle that began the moment the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law two years ago. And the court's conclusion will land in the summer heat of a presidential campaign in which each of President Obama's Republican challengers have made opposition to the law an unshakable pledge.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:13:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Santorum wins Louisiana primary - The Washington Post

METAIRIE, La. -- Rick Santorum won the Louisiana primary on Saturday, boosting his claim as the leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party even as his odds of beating Mitt Romney in the overall delegate race appear slim.

With nearly 95 percent of precincts reporting, Santorum led Romney 49 percent to 27 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was third with 16 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was taking 6 percent.

Santorum said in remarks from Wisconsin, which is one of the next states in the GOP nomination contest, that his victory shows his campaign should keep going.

"This race is long and far from over," Santorum 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 25th, 2012 at 12:14:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Health Care Reform on Trial: What's at Stake in the Upcoming Supreme Court Arguments: Scientific American

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is perhaps the most profound change to health care since Medicaid was instituted in 1965. "This case deserves the hype it's getting," says Gregory Magarian, a law professor at Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law.

The case is not just a political lightning rod--and whatever decisions emerge from the Court in the early summer will likely do little to diffuse the partisan tensions around the issue. What's really at stake in the case is individuals' access to health care.

Signed into law March 23, 2010, PPACA is expected to expand access to health care to an additional 32 million uninsured people in the U.S.--unless all or part of it is struck down by the Supreme Court.

"If this law's thrown out, I think we're resigned to the status quo, which is a lot of people without access to health care for a long time," says Larry Levitt, an expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy analysis organization. "I don't think there's any question about what lack of access to health care means: people get treated later, and some people die earlier as a result."



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 25th, 2012 at 01:21:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Annan mission 'last chance' for Syria - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that Kofi Annan represented the last chance for avoiding a civil war in
Syria and offered the UN-Arab League envoy Moscow's full support.

"This may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war," Russian agencies quoted Medvedev as telling Annan at a meeting on Sunday, adding that Russia would provide "full support at any level" for his mission.

At the meeting, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "underscored the need to end violence from all sides and establish a broad Syrian political dialogue. ... He called on the special envoy to work actively toward that aim with both the authorities and the opposition," a statement said.

Lavrov also said that to support Anna's mission, nations must refrain from interfering in Syria affairs or taking sides in the confrontation between the government and opponents.

The Russian warning came as US President Barack Obama pledged to send "non-lethal" aid to the Syrian rebels in the most overt show of US support for the rebels to date.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:14:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A new generation of Syrians adapt to life in exile | McClatchy

AMMAN, Jordan -- Rima Flihan, a 36-year-old screenwriter and mother of two, is finally adjusting to life outside Syria.

"We used to have a normal life," she said. "I never dreamed we'd be refugees."

A Syrian television channel is presently airing a series she wrote last year, and another was filmed last month, she said, making the fact she is no longer in the country even more surreal.

"We are learning what depression is," she said. "At first, when I would go to sleep, I would wake up and wonder where I was. For four months I refused to remember my (Jordanian) cellphone number."

Flihan left Syria in September, after the government issued a second arrest warrant for her because she had participated in anti-government protests. She already had been arrested and beaten once.

Flihan is just one of the tens of thousands who have fled Syria to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq since demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar Assad began a little more than a year ago. The peaceful demonstrations now have been supplanted by an armed insurgency; some groups put the number that have fled the country at more than 100,000. The United Nations has said that more than 200,000 Syrians have been displaced inside the country by the fighting.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'No charges' over Pakistan border strike - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

The US military does not intend to charge or discipline its officers who were involved in a deadly NATO airstrike on a Pakistani border post last November, a newspaper report from the US suggests.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the US concluded the attack at the Salala checkpost in northwest Pakistan, which killed 24 Pakistani troops, was carried out in self defence.

"We found nothing criminally negligent on the part of any individual in our investigations of the incident," one of three senior US military sources told the Times.

The sources said, on condition of anonymity, that mistakes and "battlefield confusion" had contributed to the regrettable loss of life, the newspaper reported.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:14:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghan massacre families 'paid compensation' - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

US authorities have given cash compensation to the families of Afghans killed in a shooting rampage allegedly carried out by a US soldier in Kandahar province, a family member and a tribal elder said.

The families received around $50,000 for each person killed and about $10,000 for each wounded in the shootings in two villages in Panjwai district earlier this month.

"We were invited by the foreign and Afghan officials in Panjwai yesterday and they said this money is an assistance from [US President] Obama," Haji Jan Agha, who said he lost his cousins, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.

The US embassy directed all questions to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which is fighting the war in Afghanistan.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:14:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it was an attack by a sole madman who won't be tried by independent courts... The fun part is that some of this blood money might end up being gifted to (or extorted by) the Taliban.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:02:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get to decide what people do with the blood money you pay to compensate for a wrongful death. That's the point of blood money.

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 26th, 2012 at 04:14:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed but my point is that this blood money is done in place of a legal process that would please the locals, and the possibility of it benefiting the Taliban only underlines the failure of the occupation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:41:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the legal process in the local tradition? It might well include blood money.

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 26th, 2012 at 04:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
May well be, but not at the occupier's own initiative.

Afghans furious as US massacre suspect flown to Kuwait -- RT

Afghan lawmakers are furious the US opted to fly its soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians to Kuwait. The legislators have urged Kabul not to sign a strategic partnership pact with Washington unless the suspect faces justice in Afghanistan.

..."It was the demand of the families of the martyrs of this incident, the people of Kandahar and the people of Afghanistan to try him publicly in Afghanistan," said Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, a Kandahar lawmaker who is part of a parliamentary commission investigating the shootings.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:51:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An extension of the NRA's "Stand your ground" law. If you think you're being threatened, shoot first, ask questions later.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 07:34:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama urges North Korea to cancel rocket launch | World news | The Guardian

Barack Obama has urged North Korea to cancel a rocket launch planned for next month, warning the regime that it had nothing to gain from "threats or provocations".

Speaking on the eve of an international summit on nuclear security in Seoul, the South Korean capital, Obama said the expected launch of a long-range rocket to coincide with the centenary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, in mid-April, would deepen the country's international isolation.

"Bad behaviour will not be rewarded," Obama said after meeting the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak. "There had been a pattern, I think, for decades, in which North Korea thought if they had acted provocatively, then somehow they would be bribed into ceasing and desisting acting provocatively."

The US and its allies say the missile launch would be a violation of a UN ban on nuclear and missile activity; it could also derail a deal, reached last month, in which the North would halt missile tests and its uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:15:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uncertainty in Mali after military coup - Africa - Al Jazeera English

The soldiers who toppled Mali's president earlier this week face growing isolation, even as the coup leader is trying to assure the public that he is in control.

A delegation of UN and African officials have told those behind the internationally condemned coup to hand back power.

A joint mission of the African Union (AU) and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS are in negotiations with the rebel soldiers, Paul Lolo, the chairman of the AU's Peace and Security Council, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

"[The mission] is in negotiations with the rebels and it is our hope that they will listen to reason and return Mali to constitutional order without delay," he said.

"This [coup] has been an insurgency, a seizure of power by force. There was a legitimate government in Mali. That government is still legitimate in our view because that is the government we know according to our instruments."



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 25th, 2012 at 12:15:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senegal votes in presidential runoff - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Dakar, Senegal - Polling stations have opened in Senegal, where more than five million voters are expected to cast ballots in a presidential runoff between incumbent Abdoulaye Wade and opposition leader Macky Sall.

Thousands flocked to the polls in Dakar, the capital, and Fatick, Sall's home city, on Sunday with local reports suggesting a high turnout. In the region of Ziguinchor in southern Senegal, people queued up before polling stations had opened.

Both sides expressed confidence before voting started across the West African nation on Sunday, a month after a first round vote whittled the field down to two candidates. 

Wade said that he was pleased that the elections were going well and urged people to accept the results even if he lost the election.



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 25th, 2012 at 12:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Guatemala's president urges debate on drug legalisation

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has said the war on drugs has failed, and it is time to end the "taboo" on discussing decriminalisation.

He was addressing a Central American summit in the Guatemalan city of Antigua.

Mr Perez Molina convoked the meeting to consider decriminalisation as a way of reducing drug-related violence.

But the presidents of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras all cancelled their attendance at short notice.

Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Mauricio Funes of El Salvador and Porfirio Lobo of Honduras decided not to attend.



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 25th, 2012 at 01:21:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there some basic rule for hostages that you shouldn't keep beating your captors in chess? Colangeli, who was released yesterday by the Naxalites says that Bosusco (still in captivity) passed the time playing chess with the local Maoist chief Sabyasachi Panda, who kept trying to break the rules as he was losing a lot.
Colangeli ha raccontato che nei lunghi giorni trascorsi nella foresta, Bosusco ha giocato a scacchi con il comandante Sabyasachi Panda, capo dei maoisti nella zona, "ma quest'ultimo cercava di imbrogliare con le regole perché perdeva spesso".
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:16:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought maoists played go, not chess...

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 26th, 2012 at 01:20:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maoism isn't what it used to be. They've probably gone neo-liberal as well.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 02:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 02:12:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[weeps]
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 02:45:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
C'mon TBG.

Remember the famous quote from Chairman Mao:

Political power grows out of a barrel of money.



Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 02:53:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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 25th, 2012 at 11:24:42 AM EST
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

(sorry - my bad! dvx)

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 25th, 2012 at 12:16:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
March Madness: 'This May Be An Unprecedented Event Since Modern U.S. Weather Records Began In The Late 19th Century' | ThinkProgress
March Heat Records Hit Incredible Ratio of 35 to 1 vs. Cold Records, Must-See Weather Channel Video Explains Link to Global Warming

Dr. Jeff Masters: A spring heat wave like no other in U.S. and Canadian history peaked in intensity yesterday, during its tenth day. Since record keeping began in the late 1800s, there have never been so many temperature records broken for spring warmth in a one-week period-and the margins by which some of the records were broken yesterday were truly astonishing. Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, commented to me yesterday, "it's almost like science fiction at this point."

Yesterday, meteorologist Masters published a detailed statistical analysis that concluded, "It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current `Summer in March' heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming."



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 25th, 2012 at 01:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog : Summer in March peaks in U.S. and Canada; record late snow in Oregon : Weather Underground
The low temperature at Marquette, Michigan was 52° yesterday, which was 3° warmer than the previous record high for the date! The low at Mt. Washington, NH yesterday (44°) also beat the previous record high for the date (43°.)

Holy hell.

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

by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US weather in the first half of March has been outside historic expectations.  Cities across the mid-section of the country have had low daily temperatures 20 to 25 degrees (F) higher than than the previous record high temperature for that date.

The Global Warming deniers are dealing with it in their indomitable fashion, i.e., ignoring it.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too much energy in the atmosphere:
This jet stream pattern was too extreme to be stable, and the big loop over the Western U.S. has broken off to form a giant eddy. The resulting area of low pressure is known as a "cut-off low", because it is cut off from the jet stream. The cut-off low is drifting slowly eastwards, and will bring an end to "Summer in March" over the Eastern half of the U.S. by Friday.


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 26th, 2012 at 03:41:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear Industry Says Back on Track After Fukushima 'Speed Bump' - Bloomberg

Within months of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the worst in 25 years, Germany, Belgium and Italy vowed to quit atomic energy. Twelve months on, the nuclear industry says it's almost back to business as usual.

"Fukushima put a speed bump on the road to the nuclear renaissance," Ganpat Mani, president of Converdyn, a company that processes mined uranium, said at a nuclear industry summit in Seoul last week. "It's not going to delay the programs around the world."

As Japan mourned this month for the 19,000 people killed or presumed dead from the earthquake and tsunami that also wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station, India last week overrode six months of local protests to approve the start of its Kudankulam plant. In February, the U.S. gave the green light to build the nation's first reactor in 30 years. China is "very likely" to resume approval of new nuclear projects this year, said Sun Qin, president of China National Nuclear Corp.

With 650 million people in China and India living without access to electricity, the nations are looking to the atom to provide power without raising emissions and fossil fuel costs. Nuclear is not the only alternative to fossil fuels, but the use of renewable energy for now is restricted by technology and costs, according to South Korea's Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik.



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 25th, 2012 at 01:18:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is calculated optimism (optimist talk with the intent to create a public notion helping it make true).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:08:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah it's true. The nuclear industry got nearly nothing done even before Fukushima.

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 26th, 2012 at 08:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's true that they practised calculated optimism back then already.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 08:44:57 AM 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 25th, 2012 at 11:24:58 AM EST
Evidence for Flowing Water on Mars Grows Stronger: Scientific American

THE WOODLANDS, Tex.--Today's Mars is a frigid desert, a place where water--the key to life as we know it--has gone into hiding. Whatever water may have once existed on Mars in rivers, lakes or even oceans is now frozen into ice caps, locked up in hydrated minerals or buried in debris-coated glaciers.

But last year compelling evidence emerged that when conditions are right, salty brines may persist to this day in liquid form at midlatitude regions on Mars. Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona and his colleagues found tracks in high-resolution imagery that looked like liquid flowing downhill. The tracks appeared annually during the warmer Martian months on equator-facing slopes, extended downhill and then faded as temperatures dropped once again. One tantalizing interpretation was that the streaks were caused by briny water melting and seeping downhill through the soil.

At the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference being held here this week, the researchers provided an update on their search for and analysis of the mysterious features, which they call recurring slope lineae, or RSL. Not only have they more than doubled the count of known RSL but they have been unable to devise a good explanation that does not involve the presence of liquid water.



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 25th, 2012 at 01:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Humans began walking upright to carry scarce resources, chimp study suggests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) -- Most of us walk and carry items in our hands every day. These are seemingly simple activities that the majority of us don't question. But an international team of researchers, including Brian Richmond at the George Washington University, have discovered that human bipedalism, or walking upright, may have originated millions of years ago as an adaptation to carrying scarce, high-quality resources. This latest research was published in this month's Current Biology.

The team of researchers from the U.S., England, Japan and Portugal investigated the behavior of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand what ecological settings would lead a large ape -- one that resembles the 6 million-year old ancestor we shared in common with living chimpanzees -- to walk on two legs.

"These chimpanzees provide a model of the ecological conditions under which our earliest ancestors might have begun walking on two legs," said Dr. Richmond, an author of the study and associate professor of anthropology at GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. "Something as simple as carrying -- an activity we engage in every day -- may have, under the right conditions, led to upright walking and set our ancestors on a path apart from other apes that ultimately led to the origin of our kind."



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 25th, 2012 at 01:19:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Paleo-anthropology runs around in cycles of 'bout 20 years and it's time for this to cycle back in.  Saying there is A reason for bipedalism is like saying there is A reason for ice cubes.  There's an ecological niche for bipedal species and humans happened to be descended from one of the hominid species that drifted (evolved) to fill it on the African savannah.  

Homo sap. sap. needs to stop thinking we're the bee's knees and cat's pajamas of the Entire Friggin' Universe.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is the thing about climate change slowly transforming the forest into savannah, so the apes had to move fast from one group of trees to the next, and it helps if you walk upright because you can see the predators over the tall grass. Or whatever.

It all adds up. Change the mode of locomotion, you free up your hands to carry things that you would have otherwise left behind. So you get to spend more time perfecting your tools. Feedback, rinse and repeat.

It's all good. The researchers probably didn't write the press release.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 03:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't the predators hidden in the tall grass then get you? Wasn't there a long gap between walking upright and the invention of lawnmowers?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 04:06:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The well known Lucy:

he discovery of this hominin was significant as the skeleton shows evidence of small skull capacity akin to that of apes and of bipedal upright walk akin to that of humans, providing further evidence supporting the view that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size in human evolution ...

And the lesser known Ardi:

A. ramidus feet are better suited for walking ...

Researchers infer from the form of Ardi's pelvis and limbs and the presence of her opposable big toe that she was a facultative biped: bipedal when moving on the ground, but quadrupedal when moving about in tree branches. Ardi had a more primitive walking ability than later hominids, and could not walk or run for long distances.

Goes to show bipedalism arose before the increase in brain size.  

Ardi is even more interesting due to:

The canine teeth of A. ramidus are smaller, and equal in size between males and females. This suggests reduced male-to-male conflict, pair-bonding, and increased parental investment. "Thus, fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes probably occurred in hominids long before they had enlarged brains and began to use stone tools"

Implying modern human-like in-group socialization and conflict resolution, and the relatively well developed pre-frontal cortex required for such, arose first ... even before 100% bipedalism and tool use.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting, the bit about canines...
Compared to the chimpanzee, and like humans, bonobos have relatively longer legs, shorter arms, and a narrower trunk. The skull sits upright on the spine, and they have smaller canine teeth. There is sexual dimorphism in the canines where the males' are longer than the canines of the female. ... The average body mass for an adult male bonobo is around 85 pounds, and for the female it is around 65 pounds.
But Bonobos also have "reduced male'to-male conflict", don't they?

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 27th, 2012 at 11:54:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German police use Web 2.0 to catch criminals | Germany | DW.DE | 25.03.2012

German police are increasingly using social media to fight crime by asking people to identify suspects on Facebook or urging witnesses to come forward. Data protection issues, however, remain a sticking point.

"Dear Facebook community, we have put out an urgent all-points bulletin on our page. Please help us by sharing it with others. Your police. "

That's how the Frankfurt police conduct manhunts on the social network Facebook. On display are phantom images and a description of the suspect. Users are asked for "relevant information," and witnesses are urged to come forward. Those who can provide tips are instructed to call the police department or fill out an online form.

Facebook manhunts are creating unprecedented opportunities for criminal investigators. The networking website allows many more people to be reached compared with traditional media like newspapers, radio or television.



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 25th, 2012 at 01:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Living Together Trumps Matrimony for Recession-Wary Americans - Bloomberg

The probability of a woman getting married by age 25 dropped to less than half as more Americans opt to cohabitate with their romantic partners rather than tie the knot, a U.S. government study shows.

The proportion of women living with men without marriage almost quadrupled to 11 percent as of 2010 from 3 percent in 1982, according to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For men, the proportion rose to 12 percent in 2010 from 9 percent in 2002, said Casey Copen, a demographer at the National Center for Health Statistics.

The shift toward premarital living arrangements contributed to the delay in first marriage for both women and men. The recession that started in 2007 also may have played a role as young couples avoided the commitment because of unemployment and uncertain financial security. In 2006-2010, women and men married for the first time at older ages than in previous years.

"In today's economic climate, many young adults are reluctant to pull the trigger," said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which monitors the health of marriage. "They may be unemployed or underemployed or not know what the future looks like. They're hedging their bets."



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 25th, 2012 at 01:20:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe some of them just follow after Europeans and see no sense in certifying a relationship?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Population 2010: 308.7 million. 50.8% women (U.S. census bureau). So 16.7 million women living with men without marriage and 18.8 million men living with women. Maybe some women are hedging their bets in more ways than one.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:53:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You miscalculated both somewhere, 308.7 million times 50.8% times 11% is 17.3 million; the same times 49.2% times 12% is 18.2 million, and both figures come with a 0.5% numerical imprecision that is equivalent to just under 0.8 million. And I think the 11% resp. 12% were percentages of adults only.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 05:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was getting confused with "bc". I corrected it and then copied the wrong figures....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:01:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Ballooning Brain: Defective Genes May Explain Uncontrolled Brain Growth in Autism: Scientific American
As a baby grows inside the womb, its brain does not simply expand like a dehydrated sponge dropped in water. Early brain development is an elaborate procession. Every minute some 250,000 neurons bloom, squirming past one another like so many schoolchildren rushing to their seats at the sound of the bell. Each neuron grows a long root at one end and a crown of branches at the other, linking itself to fellow cells near and far. By the end of the second trimester, neurons in the baby's brain have formed trillions of connections, many of which will not survive into adulthood--the least traveled paths will eventually wither.

Sometimes, the developing brain blunders, resulting in "neuro-developmental disorders," such as autism. But exactly why or how early cellular mistakes cause autism has eluded medical science. Now, Eric Courchesne of the University of California, San Diego, thinks he has linked atypical gene activity to excessive growth in the autistic brain. With the new data, he has started to trace a cascade of genetic and cellular changes that he thinks define autism. Although intrigued by Courchesne's work, other researchers caution that explosive neural growth is not necessarily a defining feature of all autistic brains.

Since 1998 Courchesne has been searching autistic brains for unusual structural features. His studies suggest that while in the womb, the autistic brain sprouts an excess of neurons and continues to balloon during the first five years of life, as all those extra neurons grow larger and form connections. Sometime after age four or five, Courchesne has also found, autistic brains actually start to lose neural connections, faster than typical brains.


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 25th, 2012 at 01:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparantly the secret service has been in the business of protecting Germany from terrorists by handing them weapons since the RAF's time.

V-Mann Peter Urbach soll tot sein - Genau das Stückchen Arbeiterklasse - Politik - sueddeutsche.de undercover agent Peter Urbach supposedly dead - exactly that piece of working class - Politics - sueddeutsche.de
Weniger bekannt ist die Unterstützung, die die erst im Entstehen begriffene Untergrundarmee durch den Berliner Innensenator Kurt Neubauer (SPD) erfuhr. Der sah in den rebellischen Studenten um Rudi Dutschke ein so großes Ärgernis, dass er sie nach klassischer Polizeikunst zu unterwandern suchte.Less well known is the support that the nascent underground army received from the Berlin Interior Senator Kurt Neubauer (SPD). He considered the rebellious students round Rudi Dutschke so offensive, that he sought to have them infiltrated according to classical police procedure.
Sein Trumpf war der aus der DDR geflohene Klempner Peter Urbach. Als Ehrenproletarier fand der ohne weiteres Aufnahme im Kreis der weit besser situierten Kommunarden und Aktivisten. Urbach beschaffte seinen neuen Freunden nicht nur Drogen, sondern sorgte auch dafür, dass sich die bis dahin noch nicht militante Bewegung bewaffnen konnte.His trump card was the from East Germany escaped plumber Peter Urbach . As a proletarian he readily joined the select group of wealthier Communards and activists. Urbach procured his new friends not only drugs but also made sure that the not yet militant movement was able to arm itself.


Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 04:27:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Nations Fail: Summary
Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or the lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions--with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.



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 26th, 2012 at 05:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ox Carts and No Coffee: Building a Monastery the Medieval Way - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

OAS_RICH('Middle3'); Despite the difficult conditions, the project has been swamped with applications. "I've had 85 stone masons apply already," says Geurten. "They all dream of having the chance to work with their hands." This also applies to the blacksmith. "They won't be hammering kitschy horseshoes for tourists. The forge must supply the site with tools," he adds.

Overall, the construction site will have 20 to 30 permanent staff in addition to volunteers. There has already been a lot of interest. "From Lufthansa pilots to a teacher, all kinds of people have applied." One candidate even sent his application written in medieval German on a real roll of parchment. Meanwhile, schools will likely be allowed to join in with the site's work for as long as a week. "We are developing a plan that will enable the children to prepare for their experience in the classroom first," says Geurten.

It will take about 40 years until the final stone is laid in the monastery church. By then it is highly unlikely that Geurten will still be alive. But he doesn't mind. "I just want a founding father's tomb in the crypt. Then they could come and light candles for me," he says.

very prescient plan...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 10:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NY Times: Why Won't They Listen? (Review of `The Righteous Mind,' by Jonathan Haidt, March 23, 2012)
You're smart. You're liberal. You're well informed. You think conservatives are narrow-minded. You can't understand why working-class Americans vote Republican. You figure they're being duped. You're wrong.

...

The problem isn't that people don't reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn't work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. Haidt shows, for example, how subjects relentlessly marshal arguments for the incest taboo, no matter how thoroughly an interrogator demolishes these arguments.

...

These moral systems aren't ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they're common in history and across the globe because they fit human nature. He compares them to cuisines. We acquire morality the same way we acquire food preferences: we start with what we're given. If it tastes good, we stick with it. If it doesn't, we reject it. People accept God, authority and karma because these ideas suit their moral taste buds. Haidt points to research showing that people punish cheaters, accept many hierarchies and don't support equal distribution of benefits when contributions are unequal.

...

Another aspect of human nature that conservatives understand better than liberals, according to Haidt, is parochial altruism, the inclination to care more about members of your group -- particularly those who have made sacrifices for it --than about outsiders. Saving Darfur, submitting to the United Nations and paying taxes to educate children in another state may be noble, but they aren't natural. What's natural is giving to your church, helping your P.T.A. and rallying together as Americans against a foreign threat.

...

The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves "very liberal," were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don't understand conservative values. And they can't recognize this failing, because they're so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.



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 26th, 2012 at 10:50:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if liberal ideas aren't compatible with human nature, where did they come from?

This is a piece of raving nonsense. I can agree with someone like Lakoff who says that it's useful to learn conservatives 'reason'.

But this seems to be saying that only conservative 'reason' is reasonable, and liberals should just accept this.

It's like arguing that slavery, genocide or cannibalism are reasonable because they've been popular pastimes.

The point of being progressive is to - well - progress. And that means not doing stupid, destructive stuff just because that's the way it's always been done in the past and some people like it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 11:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if liberal ideas aren't compatible with human nature, where did they come from?

That's not what this is saying, what it's saying is that "liberals" have a theory of mind deficit. Well, that's not what it's saying either, that's what I'm saying it's saying. Possibly because the Enlightened philosophers were, you know, on the autistic spectrum (I'm thinking, for instance, about the stories about Kant never leaving his home town, never marrying and his neighbours setting their clocks by the timing of his daily walks - the categorical imperative is definitely autistic in its rejection of externally determined morals, which includes rejecting socially determined morals).

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 26th, 2012 at 11:57:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In particular:
Haidt seems to delight in mischief. Drawing on ethnography, evolutionary theory and experimental psychology, he sets out to trash the modern faith in reason. In Haidt's retelling, all the fools, foils and villains of intellectual history are recast as heroes. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher who notoriously said reason was fit only to be "the slave of the passions," was largely correct. E. O. Wilson, the ecologist who was branded a fascist for stressing the biological origins of human behavior, has been vindicated by the study of moral emotions. Even Glaucon, the cynic in Plato's "Republic" who told Socrates that people would behave ethically only if they thought they were being watched, was "the guy who got it right."


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 26th, 2012 at 12:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also:
Haidt's account of reason is a bit too simple -- his whole book, after all, is a deployment of reason to advance learning -- and his advice sounds cynical. But set aside those objections for now, and go with him. If you follow Haidt through the tunnel of cynicism, you'll find that what he's really after is enlightenment. He wants to open your mind to the moral intuitions of other people.


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 26th, 2012 at 12:01:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of being progressive is to - well - progress. And that means not doing stupid, destructive stuff just because that's the way it's always been done in the past and some people like it.

What if a majority of the population have a cognitive makeup not conducive to progressive morality?

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 26th, 2012 at 11:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then we'd still be cannibals.

We aren't. (Or rather, we are - but only economically.)

Empirically it's obvious that there's a significant progressive influence in collective morality.

Now, it may be a historical sport, but the fact that it has happened at all proves that it's anthropologically significant.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the fact that a better scientific understanding of human psychology has led to Goebbelian abilities of mass manipulation?

The argument here is that you cannot start a successful political programme from the axiom that humans are rational when a rational understanding of human cognition shows humans definitely are not rational (at least in the narrow definition of Enlightened philosophy).

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 26th, 2012 at 12:31:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's an issue of collective morality, not collective rationality.

There's a difference between short-term stimulus-response psychology - see also, advertising, etc - and moral policy considered empirically.

One defines means, the other defines ends.

The point here is that even if the means are rational and empirical, the ends can still be the same old mish-mash of tribal emotionalism.

Rational collective morality would be about finding cultures that do something worthwhile - let's keep it simple and make that cultures that increase entropy, energy throughput, and information in some useful way - and increasing the likelihood of worthwhile things happening.

Goebbels had useful practical insights into mass manipulation, but his culture's morality was suicidal and counterproductive.

Rational individuals were already aware of this well before the war.

Unfortunately existing political models damp out that rational signal instead of amplifying it.

The problem isn't that the signal exists, it's the fact that there's no formal tradition of using it as a basis for policy.

Humans aren't not rational. In limited circumstances, rationality is possible. The challenge is to increase the scope of those circumstances, and make good empirical prediction a basis for policy.

It's not all that different to science, where models that expand the understanding of reality are always counter-intuitive.

The same likely applies to politics. Good policy is always counter-intuitive too.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:52:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's anthropologically significant just means it's another culture. There's no reason to expect it to be a superior one (in the adaptive sense).

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 26th, 2012 at 12:32:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, because it has become possible to imagine futures that wouldn't be imaginable without it.

It may not be possible to reach those futures, but the fact that they exist in the collective awareness has strong adaptive potential.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But this seems to be saying that only conservative 'reason' is reasonable, and liberals should just accept this.

That is also not what the text is saying

Haidt isn't just scolding liberals, however. He sees the left and right as yin and yang, each contributing insights to which the other should listen. In his view, for instance, liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests. Haidt believes in the power of reason, but the reasoning has to be interactive. It has to be other people's reason engaging yours. We're lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we're good at challenging each other's. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of "producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system."


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 26th, 2012 at 12:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests.

I don't see how this differs from other liberal positions, or why conservatives would be any more likely to accept it than any other liberal point of view.

Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of "producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system."

This is just hand-waving and story-telling.

If he had some empirical evidence that liberals and conservatives working together produce more 'good reasoning' than liberals on their own, he might have a point.

But flight from reality into story-telling and moral fable is the whole 'reasonable' basis of conservatism.

Empirically, if you put conservatives in charge of anything, they break it - precisely because reason, and predictive logic, is something conservatives don't do very well.

The one exception is political cynicism and manipulation for personal gain, where liberals are at a disadvantage because it's difficult for us to imagine that humans are capable of being as self-serving, immoral and empathically absent as the right is.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
liberals are at a disadvantage because it's difficult for us to imagine that humans are capable of being as self-serving, immoral and empathically absent as the right is

Isn't that exactly what Haith is saying?

in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves "very liberal," were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals

Empirically, if you put conservatives in charge of anything, they break it - precisely because reason, and predictive logic, is something conservatives don't do very well

Yes, but that is irrelevant to the question of how people get put in charge of things, except within an impersonal meritocratic bureaucracy. But you can't expect people to democratically vote to institute a meritocratic bureaucracy. Autocrats set up meritocratic bureaucracies, to serve empires.

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 26th, 2012 at 12:43:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
But you can't expect people to democratically vote to institute a meritocratic bureaucracy.

France?

Migeru:

Autocrats set up meritocratic bureaucracies, to serve empires.

Ah, so Napoleon did it. Fair enough.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 04:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well
The Polytechnique was established during the French Revolution in 1794 by Gaspard Monge, it became a military school under Napoleon in 1804. It is still under the control of French Ministry of Defence today. Initially, the school was located in the Latin Quarter of central Paris, and it moved to Palaiseau on the Saclay Plateau about 14 km (8.7 mi) southwest of Paris in 1976. It is a founding member of the ParisTech grouping of leading Paris-area engineering schools, established in 2007.
The École Normale was also founded in 1794. And then the ENA was founded by de Gaulle in 1945.

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 27th, 2012 at 05:09:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Autocrats is an exaggeration. Just say executive power does.

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 27th, 2012 at 05:12:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, both Haith and the reviewer appear to be liberals trying to salvage something from the shipwreck of the Enlightenment theory of Man the Rational
Haidt is part of this process. He thinks he's just articulating evolution. But in effect, he's also trying to fix it. Traits we evolved in a dispersed world, like tribalism and righteousness, have become dangerously maladaptive in an era of rapid globalization. A pure scientist would let us purge these traits from the gene pool by fighting and killing one another. But Haidt wants to spare us this fate. He seeks a world in which "fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means." To achieve this goal, he asks us to understand and overcome our instincts. He appeals to a power capable of circumspection, reflection and reform.

If we can harness that power -- wisdom -- our substantive project will be to reconcile our national and international differences. Is income inequality immoral? Should government favor religion? Can we tolerate cultures of female subjugation? And how far should we trust our instincts? Should people who find homosexuality repugnant overcome that reaction?

Haidt's faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic. But Haidt is right that we must learn what we have been, even if our nature is to transcend 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 26th, 2012 at 12:18:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've alwasy tended to the theory that liberals use their intellect to challenge their prejudices whilst conservatives use it to defend them.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Need to give the basis for a critique I'm hope to do later today when I have some time.

Reason:

... is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs.

Very often people confuse reason with Critical Thinking:

... is the process of thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false; sometimes true, or partly true.

a Metasystem of structured thought such as Scientific Skepticism:

... the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge."

or specific systems such as Boolean Logic:

... the [Logic] of truth values 0 and 1, or equivalently of subsets of a given set.

And now, to work I must go.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:12:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe when you have some time later you can condense this thread into a diary...

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 26th, 2012 at 01:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To get at the meat of Prof. Haidt's argument I'll have to read the book.  He, apparently, conflates morality with politics and I don't know how.  He could be saying morality is politics (in some sense) XOR he could maintain that politicians use morality as justification.  The distinction is crucial to the discussion.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 08:28:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a common idea, maybe stemming from enlightenment, that politics is applied morality as formulated in ideologies.

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 Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 06:21:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plato talks about a carefully inculcated morality in the ruling class in The Republic.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the point there is that political behaviour is motivated by moral reasoning. As in Lakoff's Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think.

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 27th, 2012 at 06:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the point, isn't it?

Reason in politics and moral philosophy can be a series of justifications warranting a non-cognitive conclusion IOR reason could be used to arrive at an "objectively" (in some sense) derived conclusion.  If it's the first, there's no "motivation by moral reasoning" since the moral reasoning is consequent to previously acquired conclusions since "motivation" has lexical connotative links to "casual" (defined broadly) which cannot be the case.  Thus, and looking at the definition of reason I gave above, to obtain understanding the lexical probability field should be collapsed by using the phrase: "motivated by moral justification."

Second, either Prof. Haidt or Mr. Saletan (the reviewer) continually says, overtly and covertly, if something CAN have the Property or Attribute of X it MUST have X, a gross fallacy even in Excluded Middle Logics.  (Not knowing which of the two commits the Logical Fallacy makes it impossible to know who to beat with a stick, intellectually speaking.  :-)   This error is most egregious when discussing the affects and effects of human neurological functioning - Limbic System - on higher cognitive functioning - Brodmann Area 10 & etc.  There is no doubt emotions CAN have an affect on "reason cold" and there is no doubt emotive tagging (per Logical Positivism) can be repressed -- call it.  

Along those lines, no one would (I hope) expect a Right Wing Authoritarian (per Altemeyer) to exhibit cognitive functioning of a Left Wing Libertarian nor a Schizophrenic to exhibit a high degree of cognitive congruence with/to Reality.  Indicating the insights and services of a clinical or abnormal psychologist is needed, not a moral philosopher.

Last, the 'deep insight' (sic) higher cognitive structures are dependent on the Logical and Emotional premises - call 'em - of an individual is a commonplace of Logic, as a discipline, as well as Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, Epistemology, Product Marketing, General Systems Theory, Advertising, the neurosciences, Complexity Theory, and various other fields; saying someone who brings out these discoveries is "impish" only means the writer hasn't paid attention to what has been going on over the last sixty years.  I know not if the obliviousness is Prof. Haidt's or Mr. Saletan's or, conceivably, both ... so I don't know who to pillory.  

I also don't know if the reviewer accurately conveyed the message(s) of The Righteous Mind.  It could very well be Prof. Haidt is innocent of the dreck and drool in the review.  Prof. Haidt may have made an important advance in the fields of Political Science (Politics, writ large) and Moral Philosophy with this book.  I'd have to read the thing to find out and the chances of that are slim.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 01:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy and the policy is arrived at by "moral intuition" or "gut feeling".

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 27th, 2012 at 02:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe.

Without looking at the Policy, and the way it was arrived at, and the person or people advocating it it's impossible to say if it stemmed from objective and scientific procedures, moral intuition, gut feeling, dysfunctional schizophrenia, moral turpitude, & etc.  And even then THAT doesn't say, much, about the Policy itself.  In theory it's possible for someone to advocate, e.g., National Public Health Services, for entirely selfish and egotistical "reasons" ... and it would still, IMHO, be the correct Public Policy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As a side bar, having lived in the US I think you'll "morally intuit" why I am leery to fearful of Public Policy being decided by "moral intuition."  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 03:08:41 PM 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 25th, 2012 at 11:25:19 AM EST
Hiromi Uehara - b. 1979.

More here and here.



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 25th, 2012 at 11:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Vice President Cheney has heart transplant - The Washington Post
Former vice president Dick Cheney, who has suffered five heart attacks since his late 30s, underwent a heart transplant Saturday after more than 20 months on a transplant list, according to his office.

(Those in a hurry can FF to 2:00.)



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 25th, 2012 at 12:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One afternoon a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the road-side eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and got out to investigate.

He asked one man, "Why are you eating grass?"

"We don't have any money for food," the poor man replied. "We have to eat grass."

"Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I'll feed you," the lawyer said.

"But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree."

"Bring them along," the lawyer replied.

Turning to the other poor man he stated, "You may come with us, also."
The second man, in a pitiful voice, then said, "But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!"

"Bring them all as well," the lawyer answered.

They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.

Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, "Sir, you are too kind."

"Thank you for taking all of us with you.

The lawyer replied, "Glad to do it. You'll really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high."




You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:53:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Park Romney: Why he turned against the Mormon church

"There's compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the Church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable," says Park.

Such accusations are rarely heard in the US, a nation founded on the principle of freedom of religion.



You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:29:17 AM EST
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