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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 8 March

by Nomad Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:16:48 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europe on this date in history:

1978 - The first radio episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, is transmitted on BBC Radio 4.

More here and here

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by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 03:03:59 PM EST
BBC News - Norway attacks: Breivik charged with terror attacks

Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to attacks which left 77 people dead and 242 injured in Norway, has been charged with terror acts.

Defence lawyers went to his prison near the capital, Oslo, to present their client with the charges.

Prosecutors have indicated they consider Breivik mentally ill and will seek to have him committed to psychiatric care rather than jailed.

Breivik is expected to go on trial on 16 April.

He has been charged under a paragraph in Norway's anti-terror law that refers to violent acts intended to disrupt key government functions or spread fears in the population.

"The defendant has committed highly serious crimes of a dimension we have no previous experience with in our society in modern times," prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters in Oslo.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:00:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nicolas Sarkozy: there are too many foreigners in France | World news | The Guardian

Nicolas Sarkozy has declared there are too many foreigners in France, deliberately using the rhetoric of the extreme right to regain ground in his difficult re-election battle.

The French president made a three-hour appearance on a TV politics debate show on Monday night, vowing to cut immigration by half and limit state benefits for legal migrants. "Our system of integration is working increasingly badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school," he said.

Sarkozy, who continues to lag behind the Socialist frontrunner, François Hollande, is more than ever positioning his campaign to the hard right, to court voters from Marine Le Pen's extreme-right Front National. But the tactic appeared to have backfired this week as he was attacked by religious leaders and some within his own party for stoking anti-Muslim sentiment by forcing the marginal topic of halal meat into the centre of his election campaign.

In what some newspaper columnists called "sick-making" and "grotesque" electioneering, Sarkozy pushed fears of a supposed secret Islamisation of French people's dinner plates. He reopened a row, begun last month by Le Pen, over whether meat ritually slaughtered according to Muslim religious standards was being sold on the wider market to unsuspecting non-Muslim consumers.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meat slaughter dispute hits Sarkozy - FT.com

French president Nicolas Sarkozy's re-election campaign has become embroiled in a dispute over the ritual Muslim and Jewish slaughter of meat after he sought to outflank Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, on the issue.

As part of a marked tilt to the right in a bid to woo voters away from Ms Le Pen and bolster his weak opinion poll showing, Mr Sarkozy and two of his most senior ministers have angered Muslim and Jewish leaders by raising questions in recent days over the production of halal and kosher meat.

François Fillon, the prime minister, has agreed to see the chief rabbi of France on Wednesday in an effort to cool the temperature. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Mr Sarkozy's top campaign spokeswoman, said on Tuesday that the reaction had been "disproportionate".

The issue first erupted when Ms Le Pen alleged last month that "100 per cent" of meat slaughtered in the Ile de France region around Paris was produced according to halal rules. At first, Mr Sarkozy dismissed the claim, but it subsequently became clear that a number of slaughterhouses did produce only under halal or kosher rules, preferring to stick to one process chiefly for reasons of cost.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:06:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He had declared that outdated religious customs concerning ritual slaughter had no place in modern society, and should be revised.

This (unexpectedly!) caused an uproar, causing Jews to close ranks with Muslims.

After seeing the Chief Rabbi, he declared that his remarks were not aimed at Jews...

This aspect has been sadly under-reported.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:58:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / EU gives Hungary one-month deadline to fix laws

The EU commission on Wednesday (7 March) gave Hungary a one-month deadline to change its controversial laws or face court cases in Luxembourg, just as Budapest is struggling to secure a loan from international lenders.

Reassurances by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that his government is not trying to expand political control over judges, data protection authorities and the central bank were deemed insufficient for the commission to drop its case, a commission spokeswoman said.

As part of the legal action, the commission on Wednesday sent two so-called reasoned opinions with a one-month deadline concerning laws on the judiciary and data protection authority. Budapest will be sent to the European Court of Justice for breaching EU law if it does not alter some of their provisions, such as moving judges from one court to another against their will or allowing the state president to keep some of them in office past retirement age, which is seen as political meddling.

As for concerns about the independence of the central bank - a key condition for Budapest to receive a €20bn loan from the EU and the International Monetary Fund - economics commissioner Olli Rehn will send a letter requesting further information before pursuing legal action, the spokeswoman said.

"The conditions are not yet met. We need clarification and settlement before any talks can start," Pia Ahrenkilde said in reference to the EU-IMF talks with Budapest suspended in December due to the central bank law.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin floats idea of tycoon, former rival for cabinet seat - RUSSIA - FRANCE 24

Vladimir Putin on Wednesday suggested a seat in the cabinet for his reform-minded rival Mikhail Prokhorov but vehemently rejected opposition claims of fraud in his crushing poll win.

His comments came as anti-Putin forces prepared to regroup at a mass rally in the heart of Moscow on Saturday that the city said would be allowed to draw up to 50,000 people -- the largest such protest in a month.

The Russian strongman had until now said little about his return to a third term in the Kremlin and gave few indications on Wednesday about whether he was ready to offer concessions to the first protest movement of his 12-year rule.

He said the billionaire Prokhorov -- owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets and an independent at the polls who came in a surprise third with eight percent of the vote -- would be welcome in his new cabinet.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:01:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were the elections skewed? Either that or 99.8 per cent of Chechens really did vote for Putin - Europe - World - The Independent

Vladimir Putin's spokesperson yesterday defended police action against protestors decrying the Russian politician's presidential election victory, as final results showed that in some parts of Chechnya, Mr Putin had polled an improbable 99.89 percent of the vote.

Dmitry Peskov, the Prime Minister's spokesman, said that the police had shown "a high level of professionalism, legitimacy and effectiveness" in their handling of the event at Pushkin Square on Monday night. After the majority of the 20,000 crowd had dispersed, several hundred people remained on the square and were dragged away by riot police and detained. The police response and Mr Peskov's remarks appear to be meant as a clear signal to the opposition that they will only be allowed to protest in "authorised" places and times.

All of the 250 arrested, including leaders Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin, were released within a few hours, and leaders of the informal opposition coalition to Mr Putin are now trying to formulate a strategy to ensure the protest voice does not fade as Russia's longest-standing post-Soviet leader prepares to begin a new six-year presidential term in May.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:01:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which will do nothing to stop the rumours that Prokhorov was a Putin man all along, sent in to split the opposition vote. Or to put it another way, that Prokhorov is to Putin as Paul is to Romney.

We live in interesting times.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Teens choosing death in Russia - The Washington Post

Russia is hard on its children, and Yelizaveta Petsylya and Anastasia Korolyova finally decided, at the age of 14, to do what thousands of other Russian teenagers have done. There was one way to assert control over their lives, and that was to end them.

Russia has the third-highest teenage suicide rate in the world, just behind its neighbors Belarus and Kazakhstan and more than three times that of the United States. On an average day, about five Russians under age 20 take their own lives.

Psychiatrists and health experts here know why it happens. Alcohol abuse, domestic violence and rigid parenting all play a role. Too many parents expect unquestioning obedience. Social conformity is strictly enforced, especially outside the big cities. Isolation is a huge problem in such a large country. There's rarely anywhere to turn for help -- but even if there were, families would be unlikely to admit their failings to outsiders.

Suicide is an attempt to seek relief from all that, by taking charge. The two teens, called Liza and Nastya by their families and friends, left letters behind: They wanted to wear white dresses and be buried in white coffins, and in death their wishes were honored.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:02:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy's Mason-Dixon Line: Euro Crisis Fuels South Tyrolean Separatist Dreams - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The governor loves to hunt -- geese, rabbits, fox, whatever happens to cross his path. Luis Durnwalder, the top hunter in South Tyrol, grants hunting licenses as if he were the lord of the manor, and when farmers in Vinschgau complain that the deer are ruining their fields, he issues a direct order to his hunters: Shoot seven deer, right away!

OAS_RICH('Middle2'); The Italian government could have guessed that it would only make enemies in Bolzano when it filed a complaint against the state hunting law in South Tyrol before the Italian Constitutional Court. Rome doesn't like the fact South Tyrol doesn't adhere to the hunting season mandated for all Italian provinces.

None of Rome's business, says Durnwalder. He points out that Sicily and South Tyrol are so different in terms of flora and fauna that it isn't possible "to apply the same law from the Brenner Pass to Sicily."

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti disagrees. He wants to prove that Europe can rely on Italy. To that end, his cabinet of technocrats has assembled a package of reforms that also makes additional demands on the five Italian regions with semi-autonomous status -- even down to legal details regulating the damage done by wildlife.

Money is at the core of the dispute. South Tyrol is expected to contribute €120 million ($161 million) to cleaning up the Italian national budget. To do so, it will have to raise real estate, value-added and income taxes, as well as fees paid by farmers -- measures that violate Rome's promise that 90 percent of the taxes collected in South Tyrol will stay in South Tyrol. On an almost daily basis, Durnwalder cites paragraphs from the reform package against which he intends to make his own case before the Constitutional Court.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forcing idiotic detailed regulations from the capital onto people in the provinces is an excellent way to promote separatism and disgust with politcians in general...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 11:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Momentum rising for Greek bond swap ahead of deadline
Large banks and pension funds came out in support of the Greek bond swap, making it more likely that the deal will pass; some hedge funds, and several Greek pension funds are still holding out; the Greek government says it will default on the holdouts, but some investors dispute whether this is true; some hedge funds are betting that they get enough support for a legal procedure; Nouriel Roubini says bond holders should accept what is ultimtately a very sweet deal for them; Reuters Breakingviews says defaulting on the holdouts is no big deal; Pasok employees were protesting over unpaid wages; Bild criticises new Greek military purchases; Francois Hollande says he will make specific proposal to amend the fiscal compact; Angela Merkel rules out an increase in the ESM's ceiling, but is open to letting the EFSF and ESM run concurrently; Spanish home sales drop 30% last year; Jurgen Stark expresses misgivings about the size and quality of the ECB's balance sheet; German industrial orders fall sharply due to a lack of demand from within the eurozone; Bavaria's CSU wants monthly updates on the risks to the German taxpayers; Wolfgang Proissl says Jens Weidmann should stop criticising decisions he himself has supported in the ECB's governing council; Wolfgang Munchau argues that Hans-Werner Sinn's analysis on the Target 2 imbalances is correct, but he disagrees with the conclusions; Olaf Sievert, meanwhile, writes an open letter criticising Hans-Werner Sinn for suggesting policies to restrain the payment flows.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:10:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jürgen Stark calls the ECB's balance sheet ,,appalling"

Talking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jürgen Stark said the ECB's balance sheet was of very doubtful quality. ,,The balance sheet of the eurosystem is not only gigantic in its dimension but also its quality is appalling", the ECB's former chief economist said. But Stark also criticized the balance sheet's structure pointing out that more and more short term debt had been replaced by long term debt which would make more difficult to exit the currently very loose monetary policy stance. Stark's criticism is likely to further fuel the debate in today's Governing Council meeting, after Jens Weidmann criticized the ECB's current strategy as too risky in a leaked letter to Mario Draghi last week. The ECB's balance sheet recently surpassed the volume of €3tr. Specialists point out that while the Fed's balance sheet had grown even more dramatically, the quality of the debt on the Fed's balance sheet is of a better quality than in the case of the ECB after its decision in February that some central banks can accept credit claims that are significantly below investment grade.


Wolfgang Proissl calls on Weidmann to stop sniping at the ECB's crisis policy

In a comment for Financial Times Deutschland Wolfgang Proissl points out that Mario Draghi told the EU heads and state of government last week that there would not be a third round of 3y LTRO thus signalling an exit from the ECB's ultra-generous provision of liquidity. Proissl asks Jens Weidmann to use today's Governing Council meeting to announce his own exit from publically criticizing ECB decisions he previously voted in favour of, as he did with his leaked letter in which he criticised the risks resulting from the 3y LTRO and the loosening of the collateral framework. In order to do so, Weidmann must break the still strong position of the Bundesbank's old guard and transform the German central bank into a strong and constructive part of the eurosystem. Succeeding in this endeavour would be a historic accomplishment for Weidmann, Proissl says.

See yesterday
the Bundesbank appears to be weakened by division and isolation, Financial Times Deutschland and Handelsblatt report. FTD writes that the leaked letter had provoked internal tensions in the central bank. Pragmatists had argued that it should focus on a strategy to get out of the ultra-generous liquidity measures. The hard liners on the other hand had insisted that the letter should contains proposals about additional collateral from the euro crisis countries to the ECB in order to cover the risks emerging from the ever increasing Target balances in the central banks of surplus countries such as the Bundesbank. The Bundesbank's claim that the leak was not done with Weidmann's knowledge or approval is not reassuring to the ECB and other euro central banks. The reason is that it implies that Weidmann is not in control of his institution and that there are powerful forces inside the Bundesbank working against him.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:24:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also Brad DeLong's The ECB's Battle against Central Banking (2011-10-31)
It is difficult to think of a more self-defeating way to implement a bond-purchase program. By making it clear from the outset that it did not trust its own policy, the ECB practically guaranteed its failure. If it so evidently lacked confidence in the very bonds that it was buying, why should investors feel any differently?


Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the ECB's monochromatic price-stability mission and utter disregard for financial stability - much less for the welfare of the workers and businesses that make up the economy - is its radical departure from the central-banking tradition. Modern central banking got its start in the collapse of the British canal boom of the early 1820's. During the financial crisis and recession of 1825-1826, a central bank - the Bank of England - intervened in the interest of financial stability as the irrational exuberance of the boom turned into the remorseful pessimism of the bust.


Our current political and economic institutions rest upon the wager that a decentralized market provides a better social-planning, coordination, and capital-allocation mechanism than any other that we have yet been able to devise. But, since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, part of that system has been a central financial authority that preserves trust that contracts will be fulfilled and promises kept. Time and again, the lender-of-last-resort role has been an indispensable part of that function.

That is what the ECB is now throwing away.

Note the date: it was a farewell shot at Trichet.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 03:04:04 PM EST
BBC News - More investors sign up for Greek debt swap

More private sector lenders have signed up to a Greek debt swap deal that may determine whether or not the country can remain in the euro.

The banking group leading negotiations said that 39.3% of bondholders have agreed to swap their Greek government bonds for new debt.

But 75% in total is needed for the deal to pass.

The deal is a condition for Greece's new bailout and a failure to clinch it would probably lead to a debt default.

Investors have until 2000 GMT on Thursday to agree to the debt swap.

Stocks plunged on Tuesday on fears that many investors would not sign up.

On Wednesday, the Institute of International Finance said that just under 40% of private holders of the outstanding Greek debt had agreed to it.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany's Bild set to take a haircut on Greek bonds | Business | The Guardian
Germany's biggest selling newspaper, Bild, has said "nein" to the Greek debt swap - three months after buying €10,000 (£8,350) of Greek government bonds.

"The Greek debt writedown is coming to private (small) investors. Also to Bild," the tabloid said. "But we say 'NO'."

Bild argues that the proposed deal "on its own will not help Greece back on its feet". "A debt writedown without Greece's exit from the eurozone does not address the question how the Greek economy can ever pick up again and create new jobs," it said.

The newspaper, which has 12 million readers in Germany, bought €10,000 of Greek debt at a heavily discounted price of €4,815 in the secondary bond market in December. The bonds mature on 20 March, and Bild was expecting to pocket the full nominal value of €10,000.

But under an agreement between Athens and its main creditors, bondholders are being asked to take a writedown, or "haircut," of at least 70%. The restructuring is set to reduce Greece's debt burden by more than €100bn and is crucial to prevent a messy default, which would send shockwaves through financial markets.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:12:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
€10,000 (£8,350) is not too high a price to pay to be able to write a feature about your first hand experience with the Greek debt problem.
"A debt writedown without Greece's exit from the eurozone does not address the question how the Greek economy can ever pick up again and create new jobs," it said.

Nor, should it be noted does a debt writedown WITH Greece's exit from the eurozone address the question either. But a writedown or write-off is a practical necessity, given they cant squeeze money out of rocks. What would address the question of a Greek recovery would be a focus on solidarity rather than punishment and some sensible investment, but that does not seem to be included in what ever Bild has in mind.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 09:55:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Churchill once said of the USA, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." I think that economically that aphorism should apply to Europe right now.

Gradually, reluctant step by reluctant step they coming around to face the harsh truth about how to fix the problem. But they don't want to yet.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 02:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
coming around to face the harsh truth about how to fix the problem.

TINA, innit...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:26:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The newspaper, which has 12 million readers in Germany, bought €10,000 of Greek debt at a heavily discounted price of €4,815 in the secondary bond market in December. The bonds mature on 20 March, and Bild was expecting to pocket the full nominal value of €10,000.
That's a handsome annualised profit of 17600%

Surely they were not expecting to get 10000 but maybe 5500.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:01:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that kind of speculative gain implies that they were accepting a high level of risk.

They're playing a risky game and expecting someone else to socialize any losses.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:55:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They're not playing a risky game, they're scoring cheap populist points.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they're scoring cheap populist points by pretending to play a risky game.

The least they could do is play it by the rules.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:08:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if Greece was allowed to buy back debt in the secondary bond market they could cut their debts in half?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:20:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe Greece is explicitly not allowed to use "bailout funds" to buy back debt because of "moral hazard"...

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:21:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh, 1760%...

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 05:10:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You'd think a news outlet would understand - you know - news. About Greece. And its ability to repay debts.

This is like giving an unemployed person who's picking food out of bins a payday loan, and then being shocked - shocked! - when they can't pay it back.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 07:08:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What would make you think that?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 07:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Defence / EU figures show crisis-busting arms sales to Greece

Official figures show that EU countries sold Greece over €1 billion of arms at the same time as negotiating its first bail-out back in 2010.

France was by far the biggest seller, with a €794 million aircraft deal, according to recently-released European Council data on arms licences granted by member states. It also sold €58 million of missiles and €19 million of electronics used for aircraft countermeasures and target acquisition.

Pro-austerity advocates the Netherlands and Germany together sold almost €90 million of mostly electronics and ground vehicles. Italy sold €52 million of rifles and aircraft parts, while Spain sold €33 million of military-grade chemicals.

Greece is currently trying to shave every possible centime off its budget, but it still remains one of the biggest arms spenders in the region due to a perceived threat from Turkey.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:12:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which only goes to show that "those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad"

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 02:54:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post-fiesta hangover in Valencia | Presseurop (English)

In 2007, a year before the crisis, the champagne flowed freely in Valencia, as the city blessed by the clement waters of the Mediterranean on Spain's east coast celebrated the 32nd America's Cup. Today the 1.8 billion euro marina which provided the base for the renowned international regatta is deserted, as are the hangars which have not been re-used since they housed the individual racing teams five years ago.

For many years cited as a model of economic management under the conservative People's Party (PP), in power in the region since 1995, today Valencia is being taken to task: for its debt, which, at close to 20% of the region's GDP, is the highest in Spain, and a budget deficit of 4.6 % in 2011. Worse still, the city will also have to answer questions about "the inappropriate use of public funds", which according to economist Vicent Soler  has been a feature of the last ten years.

The America's Cup is just one example of extravagance associated with a "big events" policy that the region's government now intends to "downsize", as regional Vice-President, José Ciscar, explains to Le Monde. "This superficial economic model made us poorer"

The City of Arts and Sciences, an ambitious cultural complex designed by architect Santiago Calatrava and built beside the former riverbed of the river Turia, which cost taxpayers €1.3 billion, has now been reduced to offering its services as a wedding venue. The city's 5.4-kilometre long and 14-metre wide Formula One Street Circuit with its 25 bends not only required an initial investment of 90 million euro, but also generates a 20 million euro annual bill for the European Grand Prix which Valencia has pledged to hold until 2014. In Benidorm, the regional government is hoping to recover €65 million from the sale of the €400 million euro Terra Mitica theme park, which was inaugurated in 2000. Half of the park's staff are threatened with redundancy.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:13:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The pain in Spain will test the euro - FT.com

One definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Germany's determination to impose a fiscal hair shirt on its eurozone partners did not work in the "stability and growth pact". Is it going to work in the "treaty on stability, co-ordination and governance" agreed last week? I doubt it. The treaty reflects the view that the crisis was due to fiscal indiscipline and that the solution is more discipline. This is far from the whole truth. Rigorous application of such a misleading idea is dangerous.

Such concerns may now seem remote. The longer-term refinancing operations of the European Central Bank have relieved pressure both on banks and financial markets, including the markets for sovereign debt. In the two tranches of this completed operation, banks have borrowed more than €1tn for three years at just 1 per cent. Italian and Spanish 10-year government bond yields have fallen below 5 per cent, from peaks of 7.3 per cent for Italy and 6.7 per cent for Spain late last year. As important have been declines in credit default swaps on banks: the spread on Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo has fallen from 623 basis points in November 2011 to 321 points this Monday.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Martin Wolf)

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:03:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally, Spain - NYTimes.com

I've always viewed Spain, not Greece, as the quintessential euro crisis country. With Rajoy's government balking -- rightly -- at further austerity, the focus is now where it arguably should have been all along.

And with Spain now front and center, the essential wrongness of the whole European policy focus becomes totally apparent. Spain did not get into this crisis by being fiscally irresponsible; here's a little comparison:

And while we say now that the surplus before the crisis was swollen by the bubble, Martin Wolf points out that in real time the IMF judged that surplus structural.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:17:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who would have imagined. The People's Party liked spending public money on toys for posh boys.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 09:58:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same everywhere, politicians egos like to be seen strutting on the worldstage at sporting tournaments, and the best way to do that is to hold them yourself. Same as with the financial black hole that is the Olympics in London.

Plenty of expensive white elephant real estate being built at colossal cost, no oversight on money and ticket allocation giving plenty of opportunities for jobs for the boys and corporate kickbacks. Prime time positions for vips when the cameras roll and empty rotting stadia and massive bills to pay when the caravan moves on.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 02:59:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fed Weighs 'Sterilized' Bond Buying if It Acts - WSJ.com

Federal Reserve officials are considering a new type of bond-buying program designed to subdue worries about future inflation if they decide to take new steps to boost the economy in the months ahead.

Under the new approach, the Fed would print new money to buy long-term mortgage or Treasury bonds but effectively tie up that money by borrowing it back for short periods at low rates. The aim of such an approach would be to relieve anxieties that money printing could fuel inflation later, a fear widely expressed by critics of the Fed's previous efforts to aid the recovery.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:21:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brazil's economy overtakes UK to become world's sixth largest | Business | The Guardian

Brazil has claimed the UK's spot as the world's sixth largest economy after official figures showed its economy rose 2.7% last year against the UK's 0.8%. France remains in fifth place behind Germany, Japan, China and the US.

The per capita income of Brazilians remains less than a third of that enjoyed in the UK at $11,000 (£7,000) per head, but the situation is improving all the time while western economies largely stagnate.

The economic thinktank, the CEBR, predicted last year that Brazil would climb above the UK in 2012 and would itself be leapfrogged by India and Russia by 2020.

Tim Ohlenburg, of the CEBR, said the high value of Brazil's currency was a big factor in the country's burgeoning wealth.

"It is a bigger economy when measured at current market exchange rates," he said.

Brazil's dash for growth can be traced back to the mid 1990s when a string of privatisations ended the state's dominance of commercial life. China became a big customer, with a particular liking for soya beans and iron ore. The US also began to invest heavily in the country.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:21:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They've got an awful lot of potential in Brazil - and not just in coffee - Spend & Save - Money - The Independent

The least heralded of the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - is still a bit of an investment backwater, accounting for around 2.5 per cent of the world's share trades, and with a stockmarket dominated by a handful of commodity and resources companies.

Add in a history of high inflation and a continental debt crisis in the recent past and you may think Brazil - and Latin America as a whole - should be low on your list of investment possibles as this year's individual savings account deadline approaches. But you could be turning your back on a major opportunity to add a bit of much needed growth to your investments.

"Brazil is among the most economically vibrant countries in the western hemisphere. Its population of almost 200 million represents a growing and upwardly mobile consumer market," says Mark Mobius, the executive chairman of Templeton Investments, and for 30 years the doyen of emerging markets.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Socialist France increases lead over Capitalist UK in world economic rankings"

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The New Priesthood: An Interview with Yanis Varoufakis Part I  naked capitalism

Philip Pilkington: Without getting into too much technical detail what is it that you refer to in your book Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World the `inherent error' in all economic theories and models?

Yanis Varoufakis: The essence of the economists' inherent error is that they erred into thinking it is possible to tell a credible story about how values and prices are formed in complex (multi-sector) economies that grow through time. For decades economists struggled to produce such a narrative. But all their best laid plans for piecing it together crashed on the shoals of indeterminacy. Put simply, their mathematical models could not be solved. At that point economists did one of two things: Either they accepted that it could not be done, or they introduced hidden (and sometimes not to hidden) assumptions that `closed' their model at the expense of credulity (e.g. an assumption that the economy comprises a lone Robinson Crusoe-like figure, or a single commodity, or that all exchanges occurred in a timeless universe and at a flash of a fleeting moment). The former scholars were forgotten by history, as their papers never saw the light of day. The latter built up careers, sometimes radiant ones. Alas, their economics were riddled with only thinly disguised `tricks' the purpose of which was to disguise economics' `inherent error'.

PP: One consequence of this is that you believe a meaningful theory of value cannot be established, right? In this estimation both the old Marxist/Ricardian labour theory of value is as meaningless as the supposedly sophisticated marginal theory of value. Can you give a gloss on why this is the case and what consequences it has for political economy?

YV: Allow me to be tactful about what our book refers to as the economists' inherent error (including Ricardo's and Marx's): If a theory of value cannot be `closed' properly (or embedded in a mathematically appropriate manner) within a theory of growth, then we have to cut corners to do it.

Neoclassical economists cut corners either by telling stories about how an economy creates relative prices in the absence of time, or by narrating the real-time growth of some single-sector or single-individual economy. Ricardo and Marx, in contrast, allow for different sectors to grow concurrently but introduce a single sector economy through the backdoor by implicitly assuming that the degree of capital utilisation in the same across all sectors (so as to ensure that profit rates are also equal across sectors). In the end, the same inherent error rears its ugly head and pushes economists into interminable debates of little or no value. The consequence of this, for political economics, is that we get absorbed in a self-referential, introverted mindset that allows us to lose sight of a really-existing capitalist reality which refuses stubbornly to fit into well-behaved models

Two points:

One. Nitzan and Bichler in Capital as Power forcefully make the same argument about the failed ability of Classical, Marxist and Neo-Classical Economics to explain price and value. (Full text PDF at the link. See pp. 5-7 What is Wrong with Capital theory?)

Two. Recently Krugman was discussing how economists tell stories about economics to relate theory to actuality. There is another term that might be more apropos - antidotes. All of their explanations for the link between theory and reality is antidotal. If we reject such evidence in medicine, why should we accept it in economics?  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 10:41:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you meant anecdotal. And, no, we should accept the thesis that the plural of anecdote is data.

Strangely enough, there's a great discussion on Slashdot (you know or you don't) about truthiness that bears strongly on this discussion of irrational economics..

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:44:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I tried spelling it with a 'c' but came up with a spell check error, which didn't happen when I used the wrong word. :-)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 11:11:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The New Priesthood: An Interview with Yanis Varoufakis Part II
Which brings me to your final question: What can be salvaged from the theoretical wreck that is economics? My answer is: The process of discovering the limits of analytical reason. By studying critically all models, we end up none the wiser about quantitative outcomes but much, much smarter about the complexities of really existing capitalism. Our exploration of economics may take us, in the end, right back to the point we started: Not having a clue about when the next crisis will hit, what sectors will dominate, whether the stock exchange will pick up soon or not. But, while we shall not have a determinate model of prices and quantities, we shall be much more appreciative of capitalism's motivated irrationality, its penchant for surprising even the powers that be, its capacity to create incredible wealth and untold suffering by means of precisely the same process. ...


... The IS-LM model symbolises the bastardisation of Keynes. Whereas Keynes' greatest insight was about the special nature of labour and money markets, which makes these markets recalcitrant and unable to auto-correct via drops in price (when there is an excess supply of labour or savings; i.e. a Crisis), Samuelsonian `Keynesianism' tried to squeeze the great man's insights into a neat piece of geometry. But of course, if it could be so squeezed, then the `problem' with these two markets could also be dealt with by means of some technical solution (since the geometry implied that restoring equilibrium and full employment was only a matter of adjusting certain parameters). But Keynes' significant point was that things were not that simple. That `animal spirits' are fickle and indeterminate, and no amount of `tweaking' of interest rates and government expenditure could reliably restore full employment.

The small band of Keynesians who refused to bastardise Keynes, authors like Leijonhuvfud and Minsky, continued to say sensible things at the time when IS-LM Samuelsonianism was bandied about as... Keynesianism. In this sense, economists of the Samuelson ilk set up a straw man version of Keynesianism which, unsurprisingly, was blown over by the first gust of the 1970s stagflationary winds. Alas, at that point the Samuelsonian `Keynesians', instead of admitting that Leijonhuvfud and Minsky had got it right, chose to defect to neoclassical modeling instead. They became the equivalent of Reagan-Democrats: Neoliberal-Samuelsonians.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leijonhuvfud (or properly spellt: Leijonhufvud) is a Swedish noble family (with branches in other countries). But who is the economics author Leijonhufvud?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 06:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He needs a wikipedia page, doesn't he?

Here's his profile on VoxEU.

Affiliation: UCLA

Dr. Leijonhufvud was born in Stockholm, Sweden and obtained his bachelor degree at the University of Lund. After coming to the United States in 1960, he earned an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He came to the University of California at Los Angeles in 1964 and was named Full Professor in 1971 and served repeatedly as Chairman of the Economics Department. In 1991, he started the Center for Computable Economics at UCLA and remained its Director until 1997. In 1995 he was appointed Professor of Monetary Theory and Policy at the University of Trento, Italy. At Trento, he has organized a program in Adaptive Economic Dynamics which offers annual Summer Schools for Ph.D. students and postdocs.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 06:24:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps Krugman could attend one of those summer sessions.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 11:15:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: Keynesian Legacies neither Europe nor Keynes deserved: A critique of New and ISLM Keynesians in the context of Europe's Crisis
That Keynes was horribly distorted by people who claimed to speak in his name is not new. Axel Leijonhufvud published the definitive treatise on the matter in 1968, under the telling title On Keynesian Economics and the Economics of Keynes: A Study in Monetary Theory (New York: Oxford University Press). In its pages Professor Leijonhufvud painstakingly accounted for the many ways in which what passed for Keynesian economics in the era of the Global Plan (also known as Bretton Woods) was but a caricature of Keynes' own thinking; a theoretical schema that confirmed Keynes' perspective more in the breach than in the observance.

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 Wed Mar 28th, 2012 at 09:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What can be salvaged from the theoretical wreck that is economics? My answer is: The process of discovering the limits of analytical reason.

One of those limits seems to be in the value and applicability of mathematical models and the danger of reductionism. With Samuelson Keynes came to be reduced to IS-LM. Even Hansen later repudiated the over-valuation of that model. Krugman, Samuelson's loyal student, still doesn't get it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 11:31:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From today's Eurointelligence Daily Briefing:
More on Germany's Target 2 debate

Wolfgang Münchau

Writing in Spiegel Online, Wolfgang Munchau says the Target 2 analysis is correct, but not so the conclusions, especially not the attempts to meddle with the system itself and constrain the financial flows. Munchau makes three observations that stand in contrasts to Hans-Werner Sinn's conclusions. The first, and most obvious one, is that Germany's Target 2 claims would make it too costly for Germany to leave the euro. Germany has thus not only a political and wider economic interest, but also a short-term financial interest in keep the euro alive. Second, the causes for payment system imbalances are current account imbalances. That's what needs fixing, not the payment system. And finally, Sinn's comparison with the US suggests that the eurozone requires common bank backstop systems, and a common unemployment insurance to avoid such massive distortions.

Olaf Sievert

Olaf Sievert, hat tip Herdentrieb, makes the point in an open letter to Hans-Werner Sinn that the Target system itself does not grant credits. It is only a payment systems that reflects the flows of funds across borders. He warns against any measure to restrict the payment system as this would be equivalent to the introduction of a trade barrier.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:16:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurozone crisis: live blog | The World | International affairs blog from the FT - FT.com

10.30 From Brussels, the FT's Peter Spiegel sends word that, after much wrangling in the arcane world of sovereign bond insurance last week, credit default swaps on Greek debt look set to kick in at any moment.

With Greek authorities all but certain to trigger so-called "collective action clauses" in Greek bonds - a newly-adopted legal measure that allows them to impose their €206bn debt restructuring on all holders of bonds issued under Greek law if 66 per cent of voters agree to the deal - the next shoe to drop will be the triggering of anti-default insurance policies known as credit default swaps.

The industry association that decides whether CDSs must be paid out, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, has been circumspect about whether the deal will trigger the swaps. Indeed, last week it decided a "credit event" had not yet occurred - but held out the possibility that it could declare one later.

However, almost unnoticed, the ISDA last night published a "preliminary list of Greek obligations" that would be covered in the event of a credit event - a clear sign they were gearing up to declare CDSs must be paid.

I have no idea what this means, other than that it seems a positive development to me : spreads the load, and attenuates the moral hazard associated to debt insurance that never gets paid out. Thoughts?

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

by eurogreen on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 06:23:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 03:04:07 PM EST
BBC News - Syria crisis: Valerie Amos visits Baba Amr, Homs

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has made a brief visit to the devastated Baba Amr district of Homs in Syria.

She spent an hour there, accompanied by Syrian Red Crescent officials.

Relief teams have been waiting since Friday to move into the district, but ICRC officials said most residents had now left for areas already getting aid.

Government forces retook Baba Amr after weeks of shelling. Activists say troops have committed massacres since then. Damascus blames rebels for many deaths.

International media organisations are heavily restricted in Syria, making it impossible to verify the claims of either side.

The rebel Free Syrian Army left the city last week in the hope, it said, of protecting civilians from further violence.

Meanwhile there have been loud explosions and heavy shelling in Idlib, opposition sources said, amid fears the northern city could become the next major flashpoint as international attention is focused on Homs.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. officials warn against Syrian intervention - The Washington Post

President Obama has authorized initial U.S. planning for possible intervention in Syria, but the lack of unity within the Syrian opposition and the international community currently argue against such a mission, top U.S. defense officials said Wednesday.

"There are no simple answers," Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told a contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Syria. "The result is a great deal of anger and frustration that we all share."

Testifying with Panetta, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers a "commanders' estimate" has been discussed with Obama and the National Security Council, including assessments of "potential missions, the enemy order of battle," how much time it would take and "the troops we have available."

Panetta said that "we have not done the detailed planning because we are waiting for the direction of the president to do that."

Obama said Tuesday that military intervention at this point would be "a mistake" and warned against "the notion that the way to solve every one of these problems is to deploy our military."

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:26:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Robert Fisk: Is Homs an echo of what happened in Srebrenica? - Robert Fisk - Commentators - The Independent

No entry to the International Red Cross. Not yet. Maybe in a few days, when the area has been secured. Men and boys separated from the women and children. Streams of refugees. Women, children, the old, few males. Stories of men being loaded on to trucks and taken away. Destination unknown. Devastation. No journalists, no freedom of movement for the UN. The place was called Srebrenica.

Parallels are seductive, dangerous, frightening, often inaccurate. Nasser was the "Mussolini of the Nile" to Eden in 1956, Saddam the "Hitler of the Tigris" to Bush and Blair in 2003. Standing up to tyrants - unless they happen to be "our" tyrants - has been quite the thing. It's only when we don't stand up to them that we get a bit queasy and start asking awkward questions. Why did we "stand idly by"? Hafez el-Assad's massacre of his Sunni Islamist opponents at Hama in 1982 comes to mind. Saddam's massacre of his Shia and Kurdish opponents in 1991. Srebrenica, of course. And now Homs. In Libya, as Gaddafi advanced on Benghazi, it was "chocks away!" During Homs, our chaps lingered at dispersal and the "scramble" never sounded.

Yes, the phantoms of Srebrenica move across our planet faster than we realise, high-speed ghosts whose shadows darken the prisons of Libya and then the towns of Syria. Or maybe those ghosts of Hama - Hama of the nouriya water-wheels, still creaking away as the Syrian Defence Brigades battled their way through the city's underground tunnels 30 years ago, fighting Islamist suicide girls with grenades strapped to their bodies - had visited Srebrenica before its fall in 1995. Mass killings, executions are a kind of revolving wheel. Now you see them. Now you don't. And afterwards, we all ask "why?" How did we let it happen?

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately history is full of moments and events like this and very often it is not in "our" hands. USA (and EU) = NATO is not obligated to be "world policemen" and very often (especially lately) the effect of "helping people" inflict just more and prolonged time of atrocities in specific country.
I am not fooling myself that this all talk about "helping people" is only about helping people. It is always about interest (or they will not pick some people to help and some not to help). Yes western world allowed massacres when they used to deal with "our dictators". The thing is that after bad experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya etc. Obama is more reluctant to try to solve problems with military...and I think it's good. Poor people stuck in situations like this one will be killed...that's a sad fact but there are other things involved in a calculation...many other things...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 07:51:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria Comment

The exchange rate of the Syrian Pound has reportedly plunged to the 103 range against the dollar at mid-day Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 in Damascus. This is a loss of over 100% since the beginning of the uprising. Over the last month, the pound has begun to weaken significantly which has received little attention. The 100 mark is an important psychological barrier.

Syrian businessmen are taking large losses. Most rely on account receivables when they sell their goods. This means that traders who have sold goods over the last half year in Syrian pounds are taking heavy losses when they are paid back.

One businessman I spoke to this morning reports that he sold three-hundred thousand dollars of car parts several months ago in Syrian pounds. He is to be paid at the end of this month. Due to the decline of the pound over this time period from 57 to 100 pounds per dollar, he will lose close to $150,000 dollars. This is a crushing blow to business.

No one is trading the Syrian pound today because its price is decreasing every hour. No one has any idea where this might end.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:27:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh I remember times like this in Serbia with hyperinflation of 1993. Practically everything had to stop...money was worthless...whoever continued to work had to either ask to be paid in German Mark ( small businesses) but large (mostly state) business went to the mode of compensation ( being payed in goods instead of money).

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 07:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

This is a loss of over 100%

What's a loss of "over 100%" for a currency? Does that mean you need to pay people to take the worthless paper?

An increase in the exchange rate of 100% (in terms of number of pounds per dollars) means a loss of 50% in its value.

Math is hard work.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It means if it goes from being worth 2 to being worth 1 they call it "a loss of 100%" because "it was worth 100% more before".

Don't expect people to understand the direction of time.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 05:04:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Math is hard work.

No, humans are too stupid for arithmetic, "math" is something else. Just like humans are too stupid for democracy and too stupid for journalism.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 05:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece has no money and lots of guns. Maybe we should tell the Greeks they can default on all their debts and get lots of cheap ECB loans if they head over and kick the Syrian army in the head? Comparative absolute advantages and all that...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:01:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thinking a bit harder, I suppose this could actually be construed as a case of comparative advantage after all.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:35:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ashton agrees to resume nuclear talks with Iran | EurActiv

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator yesterday (6 March), accepting an offer to meet to discuss Tehran's nuclear program.

Ashton will represent six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - in dealings with Iran, and her offer of talks came after weeks of consultations with them.

It follows the expansion of sanctions by Europe and the United States to exert economic pressure and force Tehran to hold back on its nuclear program, which they fear aims to produce atomic weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes only.

In a letter last month, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, proposed that negotiations with global powers should resume after more than a year's standstill, and said Tehran would have "new initiatives" to bring to the table.

"Today I have replied to Dr Jalili's letter of February 14," Ashton said in a statement. "I have offered to resume talks with Iran on the nuclear issue," she said.

Ashton's letter proposed an initial round of talks to focus on building confidence by developing concrete steps for the future.

"Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, while respecting Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy," she said in her reply to Jalili.

​President Barack Obama said an announcement of six-power talks with Iran offered a diplomatic chance to defuse a crisis over its nuclear program and quiet the "drums of war."

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hamas Says It Would Stay Out of Any Iran-Israel War - WSJ.com

Hamas won't join a regional war on the side of Iran should Israel launch a preemptive strike against nuclear targets there, one of its top officials said, a stance that limits the scope of Tehran's expected counterstrike.

"What can Hamas do? I don't think we would be able to do anything. This is between two countries," said Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas official in the Gaza Strip. "Does Iran need us? Iran is a big country...they can get revenge however they like."

The statement by Mr. Yousef--a former adviser to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is close to Hamas's political leadership--underscores a shift in one of the fundamental relationships in the Mideast.

Hamas, which the U.S. and international allies have characterized as a terrorist organization, has received support from the Shiite leadership of Iran and its ally, Syria. In the wake of the Arab Spring, Hamas is moving away from that axis and reaffirming older ties with Sunnis in the region, including Gulf Arab states and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:30:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eastern Libya Demands Measure of Autonomy - NYTimes.com
In a symbolic gesture of defiance, militia and tribal chiefs from eastern Libya gathered here on Tuesday to demand a return to the loose federation that prevailed before Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi took power four decades ago.

Challenging the country's transitional leaders in the nation's capital, Tripoli, the 3,000 people assembled in an old soap factory near the regional capital, Benghazi, also announced unilateral plans to begin establishing their own autonomous government.

The eastern region is crucial to Libya's future because it contains much of the country's oil, and the demands cast new doubts on the feasibility and credibility of the transitional leaders' plans for elections in June to choose a national constituent assembly that would form a new government and draft a constitution.

Participants in the conference said their eastern state, known as Barqa, would have its own legislature, budget, police and courts, with Benghazi as its capital. But they said the federal government would continue to control foreign policy, the national army and the oil.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Libya's leader strikes out at autonomy bid - News - Mail & Guardian Online
Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Wednesday said he would defend national unity "with force" if necessary, after tribal leaders and a political faction declared autonomy for an eastern region.

"We are not prepared to divide Libya," Abdel Jalil said as he called on leaders in the eastern Cyrenaica region to engage in dialogue and warned them against remnants of the regime of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi in their ranks.

"They should know that there are infiltrators and remnants of Gaddafi's regime trying to exploit them now and we are ready to deter them, even with force," he said in televised remarks during a conference in Misrata held to unveil a draft national charter.

"The national charter contains provisions that protect this nation and it is like a Constitution for Libya's future," Abdel Jalil said of the draft document, which was later posted online.

The charter lays the foundations for a parliamentary democracy with a decentralised system of administration, promising local accountability to citizens through mechanisms decided by the executive branch.

A faction of tribal and political leaders in the oil-rich east of the country is trying to carve out a semi-autonomous territory and has called for a federal system of governance.
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:32:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arab Spring and Iran Tensions Leave Palestinians Sidelined - NYTimes.com
In the 14 months since revolution has spread across the Middle East and tension has soared over Iran's nuclear program, the Palestinian leadership has found itself orphaned. Politically divided, its peace talks with Israel collapsed and its foreign support waning, the Palestinian Authority is sidelined, confused and worried that its people may return to violence.

"The biggest challenge we face -- apart from occupation -- is marginalization," Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, said in an interview. "This is a direct consequence of the Arab Spring where people are preoccupied with their own domestic affairs. The United States is in an election year and has economic problems, Europe has its worries. We're in a corner." For decades, as autocrats ruled their neighbors, the Palestinians were at the center of Middle Eastern politics, their struggle with Israeli occupation embodying the Arab longing for post-colonial freedom and dignity. The Obama administration came into office asserting that a state in the West Bank and Gaza was the key to regional progress.

But when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington this week, the conversation was dominated by Iran, not peace talks or occupation.

In the region, the Arab Spring may have increased popular attention to the Palestinian cause, freeing Egyptians and others to express anti-Israel sentiments. But that has actually made things harder on the Palestine Liberation Organization, which negotiated with Israel. Popular affection has shifted to the Islamists of Hamas. They too have difficulties, however, abandoning their political headquarters in Syria, facing reduced help from Iran and contending with their increased divisions.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:34:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saudi diplomat found dead in Bangladesh - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

A Saudi diplomat has been shot dead in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, authorities say.

Police found the body of Khalak al-Ali on Tuesday at an interesection near his apartment building in the Gulshan district and rushed him to a hospital where he died three hours later, Lutful Kabir, a local police deputy commissioner, told the AFP news agency.

"He was hit by a bullet in the left chest," Kabir said.

Yusuf Jamil, a spokesman for United Hospital, said the diplomat had been admitted to the intensive care unit after he was brought in by police but could not be resuscitated.

Kabir said police were investigating the murder of the 45-year-old, who headed the embassy's citizens' affairs department.

Abdullah al-Bussairy, the Saudi ambassador to Bangladesh, told the local UNB news agency: "One of our diplomatic staff was killed near his house in Gulshan this morning. This is sad."

The killers might have shot the Saudi official somewhere else and dumped his body on the road in Gulshan, Khandker Lutful Kabir, deputy commissioner of Gulshan division, told the Daily Star newspaper.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:36:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Election, a New Risk for Aung San Suu Kyi - NYTimes.com
Wah Thi Ka is a dust-choked village without electricity or running water, where no one has a laptop, where no one uses Facebook or e-mail, and where sick residents sometimes die on their way to the nearest hospital because it is too far down a deeply rutted dirt road.

It is also ground zero for a new and risky chapter in the life of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar's democracy movement who is transforming herself from dissident to stump politician campaigning for a seat in Parliament.

A global champion of democracy who spent the better part of two decades under house arrest, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is establishing residency here for elections on April 1. Villagers in this once obscure backwater sound as if they have won the lottery.

"I cannot describe how happy I was when I heard the news," said U Kyaw Win Sein, a rice farmer in Wah Thi Ka who is helping organize her campaign. "Some people said if we can only have the chance to see Mother Suu in person we will be satisfied -- we can die in peace."

It is difficult to overstate Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's personal popularity in Myanmar. During recent campaign trips across the country for her party, the National League for Democracy , she received a rock-star greeting. A gathering of her supporters in Mandalay during the first weekend in March resembled a political Woodstock, with tens of thousands of people clogging the streets for hours to greet her motorcade and cramming themselves into a field where she spoke.

Yet by inserting herself into the cut and thrust of Burmese politics, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is placing some of her hard-fought prestige on the line.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:37:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Introduced by Senator Nina Turner (D). Sec. 4731.45.
As used in this section, "physician" means an individual authorized under this chapter to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery.

(A) No person other than a physician shall issue to a patient a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

(B) Prior to issuing a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction, a physician shall do all of the following:

(1) Obtain from the patient a notarized affidavit in which at least one of the patient's sexual partners certifies that the patient has experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction in the ninety days preceding the date on the affidavit;

(2) Refer the patient to a sexual therapist approved by the state medical board for an assessment of the possible causes of the patient's symptoms of erectile dysfunction and obtain a written report in which the therapist concludes that the patient's symptoms are not solely attributable to one or more psychological conditions;

(3) Conduct a cardiac stress test and obtain a result, described in writing, indicating that the patient's cardiac health is compatible with sexual activity;

(4) Notify the patient in writing of the potential risks and complications associated with taking drugs intended to treat erectile dysfunction and obtain the patient's signature on a form acknowledging the patient's receipt of the notification;

(5) Declare in writing, under penalty of perjury, that the drug the physician is prescribing is necessary to treat the patient's symptoms of erectile dysfunction and attach to the declaration a statement that clearly describes the physician's medical rationale for issuing the prescription;

(6) Place all documents described in divisions (B)(1) to (5) of this section in the patient's medical record and retain the documents as part of that record for not less than seven years.

(C) To ensure the continued health of a patient to whom a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction has been issued, a physician shall do both of the following as part of the physician's course of treatment for the patient, including treatment rendered by issuing to that patient a prescription authorizing one or more refills for the drug originally prescribed or a prescription for another drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction:

(1) Require the patient to undergo a cardiac stress test every ninety days while the patient is taking the drug to ensure that the patient's cardiac health continues to be compatible with sexual activity;

(2) Require the patient to attend three sessions of outpatient counseling within a period of not less than six months after the drug is initially prescribed for purposes of ensuring the patient's understanding of the dangerous side effects of drugs intended to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

The physician shall ensure that the sessions include information on nonpharmaceutical treatments for erectile dysfunction, including sexual counseling and resources for patients to pursue celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.

For those who are having difficulty figuring it out, I think this is both real and satire.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:49:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sex panels?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 01:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only the times are getting harder and harder.
by Katrin on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 02:48:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(B) Prior to issuing a prescription for a drug intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction, a physician shall do all of the following:

(1) Obtain from the patient a notarized affidavit in which at least one of the patient's sexual partners certifies that the patient has experienced symptoms of erectile dysfunction in the ninety days preceding the date on the affidavit;

WTF do you need to be a physician for, then?

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:35:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's probably the reaction they are trying to provoke. I assume it's modeled on similar clauses in anti-women laws passed in other states.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Mar 9th, 2012 at 05:00:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 03:04:11 PM EST
EU investigates de-icing road salt used in Polish food | EurActiv

Regulators investigating the use of de-icing road salt in foodstuffs by three Polish companies - and possibly many more - have notified the Commission's central Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and are checking for dangers to health, EurActiv can reveal.

The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate of Poland notified RASFF that Polish prosecutors commenced legal action in February against three companies that sold industrial salt as salt intended for human consumption.

The Commission has asked for regular updates from the Polish authorities, who say they have impounded all of the contaminated products and are analysing samples.

The Polish inspectorate confirmed that 555 samples have currently been taken for testing from a range of foods including bread and other bakery products, sauerkraut, pickled onions, a variety of spices, beetroot, horseradish pickles and pickled cucumbers.

No dangerous dioxins or other harmful chemicals have been identified in the salt so far, the Polish Chief Sanitary Inspectorate told EurActiv.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:58:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Behind all the hoopla about whether all meat processed in Paris these days was halal, the government has (much more discreetly) taken the decision that the meat industry did not need to be inspected for quality anymore and could self-inspect itself.

As usual, such a story is only carried by Le Canard Enchainé.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 04:54:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some nations could see EU water aid run dry | EurActiv

Impoverished people in India, Brazil and other emerging countries could be left in the lurch under EU plans to redirect development assistance to the world's neediest nations, aid and rights activists say.

While charity and human rights groups welcome Europe's continued commitment to developing countries, they fear draft EU proposals could harm efforts to finance water, sanitation and other projects in Latin America, Asia and possibly some sub-Saharan African countries.

Catarina de Albuquerque is the UN's first special rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and she says the EU's `Agenda for Change' - which calls for revamping foreign aid - "can be detrimental for the progress of rights" if it leaves some poor communities vulnerable.

"I'm not saying the intentions are bad, I'm saying the outcomes are bad," the Portuguese lawyer told EurActiv, saying the EU proposals could harm needy communities of Latin America, a region that has made steady development progress but still has pockets of poverty.

Faced with water scarcity, devastating droughts and growing food needs, many emerging economies are struggling to provide secure water supplies. Some one billion people lack potable water, and more than two billion people live in areas faced with scarcity, UN and EU officials say.

Rights and charity campaigners wary of the EU's aid proposals say these people need help wherever they live.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:58:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Higgs boson hints multiply in US Tevatron facility data

Scientists from the US Tevatron accelerator say they have spotted possible hints of the Higgs boson at a mass similar to that seen at the LHC.

The findings add weight to the idea that the Higgs - purported to give all other particles their mass - exists near a mass of 125 gigaelectronvolts.

However, the new data are not themselves sufficiently statistically assured to rate the find a "discovery".

The results were presented at the Moriond physics conference in Italy.

The Tevatron, based at the US national laboratory Fermilab, was for two decades the world's premier particle accelerator, but was shut down in 2011 after negotiations to extend funding failed.

However, like all particle-smashers, the Tevatron created a tremendous amount of data that remained to be analysed.

The latest data hint at the existence of a particle between 115 and 135 gigaelectronvolts (GeV; this is between about 120 and 140 times as heavy as the protons found in every atom) with a certainty of about 2.2 sigma.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biggest Solar Storm in Five Years to Hit Earth - WSJ.com

The largest solar flare in five years is racing toward Earth, threatening to unleash a torrent of charged particles that could disrupt power grids, GPS and airplane flights.

The sun erupted Tuesday evening, and the effects should start smacking Earth around 7 a.m. EST Thursday, according to forecasters at the federal government's Space Weather Prediction Center. They say the flare is growing as it speeds outward from the sun.

"It's hitting us right in the nose," said Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He called it the sun's version of "Super Tuesday."

The solar storm is likely to last through Friday morning, but the region that erupted can still send more blasts our way, Mr. Kunches said. He said another set of active sunspots is ready to aim at Earth right after this.

But for now, scientists are waiting to see what happens Thursday when the charged particles hit Earth at four million mph.

NASA solar physicist Alex Young added, "It could give us a bit of a jolt." But he said this is far from a super solar storm.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 04:58:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]

:Product: Geophysical Alert Message wwv.txt
:Issued: 2012 Mar 08 0005 UTC
# Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center
#          Geophysical Alert Message
Solar-terrestrial indices for 07 March follow.
Solar flux 136 and estimated planetary A-index 44.
The estimated planetary K-index at 0000 UTC on 08 March was 3.

Space weather for the past 24 hours has been strong.
Geomagnetic storms reaching the G2 level occurred.
Solar radiation storms reaching the S3 level occurred.
Radio blackouts reaching the R3 level occurred.

Space weather for the next 24 hours is predicted to be strong.
Geomagnetic storms reaching the G3 level are likely.
Solar radiation storms reaching the S3 level are expected.
Radio blackouts reaching the R2 level are likely.

by asdf on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 09:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be out watching the Aurora Borealis two hours from now.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding, report shows | Environment | The Guardian

As many as 12 of Britain's 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change, according to an unpublished government analysis obtained by the Guardian.

Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.

The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities. Two of the sites for the new stations - Sizewell in Suffolk and Hartlepool in County Durham, where there are also operating reactors - are said to have a current high risk of flooding. Closed and running reactors at Dungeness, Kent, are also classed as currently at high risk.

Another of the sites at risk is Hinkley Point in Somerset, where the first of the new nuclear stations is planned and where there are reactors in operation and being decommissioned.

According to Defra, Hinkley Point already has a low risk of flooding, and by the 2080s will face a high risk of both flooding and erosion.

Other new reactor sites that face some risk now and high risk by the 2080s are Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Bradwell, Essex.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:00:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow. This is so stupid. Just build the damn things on a three metre high concrete foundation, or hire some Dutch engineers to build some levees.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:05:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ts ts. You don't want extra costs for this nice harmless industry, do you? We can trust that floods will only occur elsewhere.
by Katrin on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:33:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seismic risk: from shaken to awakened - FT.com

Japan hit by a disaster that kills nearly 20,000 people, triggers a nuclear crisis and shakes global supply chains. That was last year's story. But here is a scary thought: the next one could be much, much worse.

Since the magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country's north-east coast on March 11, scientists and researchers have been revisiting longstanding assumptions about seismic risk on the unstable archipelago. Their simulations suggest a wave triggered by a tremor of similar power but further south could devastate coastlines that are far more heavily populated and economically important. By some estimates, 10 times as many people might die.

If that does not sound bad enough, scientists also fear that the Greater Tokyo megalopolis - home to 35m people and accounting for more than one- third of Japanese gross domestic product - could be vulnerable to much stronger earthquakes than had previously been assumed.

Such scenarios are helping to drive a broader re-examination of Japanese emergency planning, a process that will have far-reaching implications for government and business in the world's third-largest economy. The work will also become an important reference for disaster preparation worldwide.

Masaharu Nakagawa, Japan's minister of state for disaster management, says the lessons of the March 11 disaster will fundamentally reshape both how Japan prepares for natural calamity and how it deals with it when it comes. "Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, there is a real sense of urgency," Mr Nakagawa says.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:00:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and never mind that Japan's largest nuclear facility is built on the meeting point of 3 faults.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:07:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gorilla genome analysis reveals new human links | Science | guardian.co.uk

Humans and gorillas last shared a common ancestor 10 million years ago, according to an analysis of the first full sequence the gorilla genome. The gorilla is the last of the living great apes - humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans - to have its complete genetic code catalogued.

Scientists, led by researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, also found that 15% of the gorilla's genetic code is closer between humans and gorillas than it is between humans and chimpanzees, our closest animal relative. The genomes of all three species are, in any case, highly similar: humans and chimpanzees share more than 98% of their genes, while humans and gorillas share more than 96%.

The genetic sequence was taken from a female western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) named Kamilah and published in Nature.

An initial analysis also showed similarities in genes involved in sensory perception and hearing, and brain development showed accelerated evolution in all three species. Genes associated with proteins that harden up skin were also particularly active in gorillas - which goes some way to explaining the large, tough knuckle pads on gorillas' hands.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 03:04:18 PM EST
'Too fat' model wins case against agency who dropped her | Fashion | The Guardian

A Dutch fashion model turned furniture-maker has won her case against an international modelling agency after it rejected her for having hips that were "too large".

Ananda Marchildon, 25, is now entitled to the remainder of the prize money she won four years ago in the television show Holland's Next Top Model, which the agency, Elite, withheld after arguing she had not lost enough weight.

The Amsterdam district court said on Wednesday that Marchildon should receive €65,000 (£54,000) equivalent to the rest of the three-year contract she was awarded, of which she only received €10,000 before her dismissal.

Much of the case hung on whether or not Marchildon had been asked to reduce her hip size to below what it had been when she won.

An email exchange between the two parties provided key evidence. On 23 March 2010, the agency wrote to the model: "Today ... we measured your hips at 98 centimeters [sic]. This is a reminder! The goal is that you have a hip circumference of no more than 90 cm at the end of June."

Marchildon, who said she went on a strict diet and took copious amounts of exercise, responded that she was prepared to regain her former shape but would go no further. "If at the end of the road it appears that unfortunately not enough assignments have come in, that doesn't change the obligations of the contract," she wrote.

But according to the court ruling although the 180cm tall (5'11") model had put on weight since gaining the contract, she had had a hip measurement of 92cm (36.2 inches) at the time of winning and the agency went too far by demanding she reduce it to 90cm.

"Elite had no right to demand Marchildon reach a hip size of 90cm," the court ruled.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:01:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vatican becomes latest Anonymous hacking victim | Technology | guardian.co.uk

The Italian branch of the hacking collective Anonymous took down the Vatican's website on Wednesday in retaliation for the "corruption" of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican website was still inaccessible on Wednesday evening, although a spokesman said he could not confirm the crash was caused by the hackers group.

The action comes the day after the FBI issued charges against an individual alleged to be a member of Anonymous, and four people alleged to be principal members of its sister hacking collective LulzSec.

In a statement on its Italian-language website, the collective accused the Catholic Church of being responsible for a long list of misdeeds throughout history, including the selling of indulgences in the 16th century and burning heretics during the Inquisition.

"Anonymous decided today to besiege your site in response to the doctrine, to the liturgies, to the absurd and anachronistic concepts that your for-profit organisation spreads around the world.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:02:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Twitter Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu version launch

Twitter has rolled out versions of its site in right-to-left languages for the first time.

The micro-blog service is now available in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu.

It said 13,000 volunteers helped translate its menu options and support pages into the languages.

Experts said the move should help more "ordinary people" make use of the service, both to hold politicians to account and to tweet about their everyday life.

Twitter's blog said the translation volunteers included a Saudi blogger, an IT professional in Iran, the co-founders of the grassroots #LetsTweetInArabic campaign and a BBC journalist.

"Some of these volunteers live in regions where Twitter is officially blocked," it said.

"Their efforts speak volumes about the lengths people will go to make Twitter accessible and understandable for their communities."

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Apple unveils new iPad with high-definition screen

Apple has unveiled a new iPad with a high-definition screen.

It said the resolution of the display was 2048 by 1536 pixels. The tablet is also powered by a new A5X chip with improved graphics performance.

Chief executive Tim Cook claimed to have "redefined once again the category Apple created".

Apple dominates the market but should face a fresh challenge when tablets running the full Windows 8 system are expected to go on sale later this year.

The new iPad - which is simply called by that name - also features a 5-megapixel camera sensor. It will be able to run on 4G LTE networks where the service is available and can act as a wi-fi hotspot for other devices if carriers allow the function.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:12:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I'll be able to get my hands on a cheap second-hand Ipad 2 now.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:06:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Young generation prefer 'old style' media: study - The Local
The study from Gothenburg university, shows that in the 9-14 year age group, 75 percent of kids surveyed preferred to give their time to TV, radio, recorded music and reading normal books - instead of the internet.

While social networking sites such as Facebook continue to soar in popularity worldwide, the study shows a trend of younger people to keep a distance from the net.

In the 15-24 age group, the percentage of people who did not list the internet as a media preference stood at 60.

By the age of 30, however, non-fiction and educational book reading was diminishing, as was the usage of TV and radio.

The younger generation meanwhile are mostly attracted to the net for music, videos and social networking, the study showed.

The study also showed that the 9-24 year age group was not big users of tablet computers and e-books, whereas the use of smartphones in this group has multiplied in just a couple of years.
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ElPais.com in English: Justice Minister condemns "systemic violence" forcing women to abort
The Popular Party politician, who was responding to a question from Socialist deputy Ángeles Álvarez about the government's plans to make changes to current abortion legislation, said that "on many occasions" women were subjected to "systemic gender violence for the mere fact of being pregnant." The law allows women the choice to abort in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

"The legislator must not be indifferent to the situation of many women who see their right to be mothers violated because of the pressure placed on them by certain structures around them," he said. "No woman should be forced to renounce motherhood because of family, work or social conflict," he continued.

The comments by the former Madrid mayor confirmed the fears of leftist deputies that the government plans to go much further in its changes to abortion legislation than simply reversing the rule that permits girls between the ages of 16 and 18 to abort without informing their parents. A new draft law is set to be presented in the fall.

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 Thu Mar 8th, 2012 at 03:28:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 03:04:22 PM EST
BBC News - Armenia pulls out of Azerbaijan-hosted Eurovision show

The organisers of Eurovision song contest say Armenia has pulled out of the 2012 show in Baku amid new tension with its old rival Azerbaijan.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it was "truly disappointed" by Armenian Public Television's decision.

Azerbaijani and Armenian forces fought a war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s which left at least 25,000 people dead.

A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but no permanent peace deal has been reached.

There has also been internal tension in Azerbaijan, where security forces used force to break up an opposition rally in the northern district of Quba on Friday.

by Nomad on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 at 05:16:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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