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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 15 April

by afew Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:08:25 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1755 - Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language is published in London.

More here and here

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


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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:39:05 PM EST
The wrong battle at the wrong time | European Voice
EU law-making is on the line as the European Investment Bank comes out fighting against US financial regulation.

You might think that, after the financial crisis of 2007-08, all major public institutions, and in particular those dealing with finance and monetary issues, would be focused on preventing such systemic crises happening again.

Supporting the infant steps being made to regulate financial markets as well as shrinking their involvement in shadow-banking practices in the name of financial and social stability: these, you would think, would be prudent goals for significant public financial institutions.

This, though, is not the case with one of the major European financial institutions: the European Investment Bank (EIB).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:24:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The primary goal of all major institutions is to serve the wealthy and enslave/exterminate the rest of us. In this light, everything is going according to plan, everything is as it should be except "we" are not dying fast enough. Any institution not serving the wealthy is quickly bought out, corrupted and that's that.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:41:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just another day at a neo-liberal EU institution.

To be fair, when you create a bank and staff it with people from the banking world, you get people with banking attitudes. In this case the EU neo-liberal capture is derived from the country-level EU capture which means there are few public servants who are involved with banking. So you get an institution staffed by those from the private sector.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 04:44:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Passenger name records set to dominate Strasbourg agenda: theparliament.com
The EU-US passenger name record (PNR) agreement is set to top next week's Strasbourg plenary agenda.

Parliament's political groups vote on Thursday on new rules to govern the transfer of EU air passengers' personal data to the US authorities, with the majority of groups saying further discussions are needed.

MEPs are expected to urge the European commission to increase monitoring of internet censorship by autocratic regimes on Tuesday and call for a better enforcement of children's rights and more cooperation with the international criminal court.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US is winning the PNR game by salami tactics (slice by slice) - because the EU has no leverage.

It's unwilling to consider targeted sanctions (obvious ones would be to declare US airlines a security risk and put onerous reporting requirements on them, or to target US citizens entering Europe who fly First and Business class for extra security checks.)

Without leverage, the US will continue to make demands and negotiations will go nowhere.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 04:52:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU urged to 'put solidarity ahead of the euro': theparliament.com
Newly elected president of the European parliament's GUE/NGL group Gabi Zimmer has called for the EU to put social protection and solidarity ahead of the euro.

Zimmer, an MEP since 2004, replaces former GUE/NGL group chair Lothar Bisky, who retired last week for health reasons, with the new president praising Bisky's role in the European left and in German post-reunification politics.

Zimmer told reporters in the European parliament on Friday that although there is "no alternative to the EU", the way the 27 member state bloc is conducting its affairs is "wrong".

"We mustn't just see the EU in economic terms. We need social consideration and solidarity. We must look to the citizens," said the German deputy.

Zimmer said that the GUE/NGL group would be pushing for "social systems that deliver more rights and solidarity", adding that "the policy of the EU should be to put the people first and then the euro".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... We must look to the citizens, ...

These clowns should read ET and understand the system. Pure fantasy for this guy, or too much booze.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:44:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you'd bothered to go to the article, you'd have learned Gabu Zimmer is not a guy.

But, you know, drive-by comments are worth drive-by kudos.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevertheless, Twank's comment does look to the reality that the EU is more concerned to protect the financial system than its citizenry.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:41:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because who is Gabi Zimmer? The EU? She is actually saying that "the EU is more concerned to protect the financial system than its citizenry".

Screw this endless "they're all the same, rotten and sold-out" crap. Why would we even bother trying to do anything with the amount of cynical whining that goes on around here?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh ? An MEP makes a point which echoes a viewpoint here that the institutions of the EU tend towards protecting the financial system whilst ignoring structural faults which impact the citizenry  excessively. Yet, if we agree, we're tarring all MEPs with the same brush due to excessive cynicsim.

That's over-raecting

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 06:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gabi Zimmer is not just "an MEP", she was just appointed (as the article says) head of the GUE/NGL group in the EP. That one of the political leaders in Parliament should make an opening statement of general principle that coincides roughly with principles we would defend, is something I find too rare to be other than encouraging and useful.

Twank calls her a clown, speaks of fantasy and booze. That's not "agreeing", it's reviling someone for, apparently, not "getting it". So someone in the political world who isn't coming out with TINA newspeak is a fool, deluded, or inebriated (while of course, those who do the TINA newspeak are bought-and-sold hacks). What is that other than an out-of-hand rejection of all politics and political personnel?

So when you say "if we agree", sorry, you are projecting agreement on a comment that doesn't show it, and in doing so, turning the sense of this exchange upside-down.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 09:45:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bank Overhaul Mess Is Noose Around EU's Neck, EBF Says - Bloomberg

Global financial regulators have failed to create clear standards for banks, meaning lenders are hoarding cash instead of providing loans needed to drive growth, European Banking Federation President Christian Clausen said.

"This is the biggest change in the banking system ever seen; all items in the balance sheet are in play," Clausen said in an interview in Stockholm yesterday. "The incentive for banks, even though they have built up their capital, to actually go out and support good initiatives is very limited."

Since the 2008 global financial crisis routed markets, sent unemployment soaring and some governments toppling, policy makers have looked for ways to guard against a repeat of the turmoil by requiring banks to build up bigger buffers. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision wants lenders to target core capital of at least 7 percent of their risk-weighted assets, compared with as little as 2 percent before the crisis. The European Banking Authority has set a temporary 9 percent target for some lenders.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:52:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB Seen Favoring Bond Buying Over Bank Loans - Bloomberg

The European Central Bank will restart its controversial government bond purchases rather than offer banks another round of unlimited three-year loans as the sovereign debt crisis worsens, a survey of economists shows.

Of 22 economists polled this week, 17 predicted the ECB will be forced to resume the Securities Markets Program (ECBCSMP), while only one forecast it will offer another batch of three-year cash. Nine said the central bank may consider shorter maturity loans of one or two years.

"Market stresses will eventually force the ECB to restart the bond program, but it's not imminent," said Ken Wattret, chief euro-area economist at BNP Paribas in London, who participated in the survey conducted April 11-12. "Trying to get consensus on the council for it will be difficult."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:54:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems the economists surveyed assume that pragmatism (things that work) will trump politics (German opposition to bond buying.)

That may be true, but I'm not that hopeful.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 04:55:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain's King Juan Carlos under fire over elephant hunting trip | The Guardian
While ordinary Spaniards cope with harsh austerity, recession and soaring unemployment, the country's royal family has been enjoying expensive hunting trips, one of which resulted in King Juan Carlos ending up in hospital.

The 74-year-old monarch's fall in a park in Botswana provided an excuse for Spanish newspapers, who normally treat their royal family with kid gloves, to plaster their pages with photos of the king standing proudly in front of a dead elephant.

He just happens to be Honorary President of the WWF in Spain....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 02:41:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:39:44 PM EST
BBC News - Standard & Poor's reaffirms UK's AAA credit rating

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has reaffirmed its AAA credit rating for the UK, saying it believes the economy is "wealthy, open and diversified".

S&P also confirmed a stable outlook, as it expects the government to implement the bulk of its austerity measures.

The other two major ratings agencies, Fitch and Moody's, have placed the UK's top rating on "negative outlook", warning that it could be downgraded.

They have cited concerns about growth prospects and public-debt levels.

A credit rating in theory determines a country's borrowing costs.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:36:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A purely political decision based on our obesicence to Capital than our actual financial position

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:43:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China Doubling Yuan Band Signals Drive for Convertibility - Bloomberg

China's decision to widen the yuan's trading band against the dollar for the first time since 2007 signals a drive toward a convertible currency that also saw overseas investors get bigger investment quotas this month.

The increase to 1 percent from 0.5 percent takes effect tomorrow, the People's Bank of China said on its website yesterday. This month, regulators raised quotas for foreigners buying onshore stocks and bonds to $80 billion from $30 billion and increased the amount of yuan held offshore that can be invested locally.

Chinese officials pledged in a five-year plan running through 2015 to keep loosening controls on currency flows as Premier Wen Jiabao targets higher domestic consumption and an enlarged global role for the yuan that would curb the dollar's dominance. Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. said yesterday that moves including the increased investment quotas indicate that the government is stepping up the pace of its efforts.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:47:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China gives currency more freedom with new reform | Reuters

(Reuters) - China took a milestone step in turning the yuan into a global currency on Saturday by doubling the size of its trading band against the dollar, pushing through a crucial reform that further liberalizes its nascent financial markets.

The People's Bank of China said it would allow the yuan to rise or fall 1 percent from a mid-point every day, effective Monday, compared with its previous 0.5 percent limit.

The timing of the move underlines Beijing's belief that the yuan is near its equilibrium level, and that China's economy, although cooling, is sturdy enough to handle important, long-promised, structural reforms, analysts said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Young Scholars Initiative and Student Presence at INET Berlin Conference   INET

Mark Thoma has picked up on a significant aspect of this year's INET annual conference: the inclusion of hundreds of students and young scholars through a parallel event organized by INET's Young Scholars Initiative, or YSI. The YSI Commons, as it's called, is enabling students from around the world to gather in Berlin, share ideas, watch live video feeds of the conference, and meet with important members of the INET community, including Joseph Stiglitz, Andrew Sheng, and George Soros.

The program is a spontaneous outgrowth of INET's decision to invite 25 students to apply to come to the conference. When we first announced the call for applications we expected 100 to 150 people to respond. Instead, we received replies from 563 applicants. Sensing a budding movement, we decided to create a space that would enable more students and young scholars to participate in the conference. Almost immediately the requests to attend started pouring in from around the world. Eventually we had to shut down registration because of the overwhelming demand.

Although we were somewhat caught off guard this time by the level of enthusiasm, it won't happen again. At future events we plan to invite even more students and young scholars and incorporate them even more fully into the program. The significance of this is well explained by Thoma:

"When Joe Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, James Heckman and many more names like that stand up and endorse the push to think about economics in a new way, it could give a student with a new idea, and the understandable hesitation that comes with it, the confidence to carry it through," Thoma writes. "If it works out, there's a good chance some very well-known and respected economists will help to push the idea forward, or at the very least be open-minded, and that provides important motivation to those who might discover something new."

To read the blog post click here


I watched Robert Johnson's remarks from the first day. He is speaking to a room full of senior economists and so does not have to spell out the implications of issues he raises, such as the lack of real freedom for economists to propose alternative theories, given the existing power relationships. It is good if INET's efforts to bring back history of economics and history of economic thought to graduate education are successful . It will be even better if INET can help create the kind of support network that can enable PhD candidates to pursue lines of investigation that might actually lead somewhere other than the three step shuffle that Yanis Varifoukas has described in A Most peculiar failulre. (PDF) BTW, Varifoukas was in the audience. INIT's efforts are beginning to succeed in subverting the hold of the existing paradigm.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 01:03:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This kind of initiative is vitally important.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:11:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Say what you will about George Soros, but he has done and is doing an excellent thing here. They are extablishing INET programs at Oxford and Cambridge, in Copenhagen and Hong Kong and in Moscow and other locations. Given that economics departments will not hire faculty to teach history of economics and history of economic thought, they are also sponsoring films that cover the basics.

Given the obvious failure of the current NCE paradigm, by creating a support structure, which includes many senior economists who sit on review boards of journals, they could succeed in taking away a significant portion of the next generation of economists. But the real trick is to ensure that these scholars are not left in a desert to starve. We know how concerned the established order is about that sort of thing.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 10:16:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:40:04 PM EST
China warns against any attempt to create difficulties for Annan's mediation - Xinhua | English.news.cn

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese UN Ambassador Li Baodong on Saturday warned against any attempt to create difficulties or make trouble for the mediation efforts of Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria.

The statement came as Li addressed the Security Council after the 15-member Council adopted a resolution to send an advance team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to Syria.

The advance team is tasked to "liaise with the parties and to begin to report on the implementation of a full cessation of armed violence in all its from by all parties".

"We need to guard against any attempt to create difficulties or trouble for Mr. Annan's mediation," said Li. "Any words or deeds that stand in the way of Mr. Annan's mediation efforts are unacceptable, and must be opposed."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:39:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN unanimously approves Syria observer force - SYRIA - FRANCE 24

AFP - The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously voted its first ever resolution on the Syria crisis, allowing an advance party of ceasefire monitors to go to the country on the brink of civil war.

UN Resolution 2042 approved the first 30 unarmed military monitors, who are expected to to leave within days.

The resolution also calls upon the Syrian government to "implement visibly" all commitments under special envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan -- including the withdrawal of all troops and heavy guns from Syrian cities.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:41:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guinea-Bissau coup leaders call for 'unity government' - GUINEA-BISSAU - FRANCE 24

AFP - Leaders of Guinea-Bissau's military coup have set out terms for a "unity government", amid growing international condemnation of their seizure of the capital halfway through a presidential election.

The coup leaders announced Friday that the prime minister, interim president and army chief-of-staff general had all been deposed hours after the coup attempt was launched late Thursday.

They also imposed an overnight curfew, called on members of the toppled government to surrender to the army command and confirmed that private radio stations had been shut down.

The UN Security Council condemned the military action and urged "the immediate restoration of civilian authority", US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after council talks on Friday.

The United States, Canada and Nigeria were among others joining the chorus of condemnation of the military coup.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:42:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
N.Korea Wastes Millions on Rockets while People Starve - Obama | World | RIA Novosti

U.S. President Barack Obama lashed at the North Korean leadership on Saturday for spending millions of dollars on rockets "that don't work," while the country's population is "starving."

"They make all these investments, tens of millions of dollars, in rockets that don't work at a time when their people are starving, literally," the U.S. president said in an interview with the Spanish-language Telemundo TV channel.

The Unha-3 rocket - which the North said would put a satellite into orbit - was launched from Cholsan, a coastal town in the country's northwest in the early hours of Friday morning.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:44:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Republicans are soooo envious of the N. Korea situation. At least their government clearly understands that their real enemy is their own citizens; in the US we still fart around with this illusion of democracy created by the MSM.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I dunno, I always think the Republican ideal is Corporate Feualism, aka fascism. A small plutocratic elite who operate above an otherwise tyrranical legal oppression of the population

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does that differ from N Korea, except for the military angle?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 07:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran, World Powers Resume Nuclear Talks | World | RIA Novosti

Six world powers and Iran launched a new round of talks on Saturday in a bid to end the deadlock over the country's disputed nuclear program, al Jazeera television reported.

Diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany hope the talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul would cool tensions over the program, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes.

Western powers suspect Iran of seeking to create a nuclear bomb and have tightened sanctions.

Negotiations between Iran and the six countries, known collectively as the Group of Six, ended in a stalemate in January last year.

Iran has said it will propose "new initiatives" in Istanbul.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Iran nuclear talks 'very constructive' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

The latest round of talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran's nuclear programme have been described as "completely different" from previous meetings, with no pre-conditions set by the Iranian delegation.

A diplomat, who spoke on Saturday about the first meeting between Tehran, Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in more than 24 months, said Saeed Jalili, the Iran delegation leader, steered clear of the preconditions he had set at the last meeting in early 2011.

"He [Jalili] seems to have come with an objective to get into a process which is a serious process, which is about what we want to talk about," said the envoy, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I would say it has been a useful morning's work."

He added: "Not only are the atmospherics and the atmosphere completely different from what they were previously but more importantly he [Jalili] is not coming with the same preconditions and what we would consider obstacles that we saw previously."

Another diplomat, who also requested anonymity, described the atmosphere as "positive".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt disqualifies top Islamists, Mubarak VP from vote | Reuters

(Reuters) - The body overseeing Egypt's presidential election disqualified 10 candidates from the race on Saturday, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater, former spy chief Omar Suleiman and ultra orthodox Salafi sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.

Farouk Sultan, head of the presidential election commission, told Reuters the disqualified candidates had 48 hours to appeal against its decision. He declined to give details on the reasons for their disqualification.

The disqualification of some of the leading candidates would redraw the electoral map with just weeks to go before the May vote that decides who will replace Hosni Mubarak as head of the Arab world's most populous country.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:50:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia Summit News...
La Silla Vacia: In Cartagena, there is a joke making the rounds that Obama is the best mayor the city has had in its history since on the eve of his arrival, streets were paved, parks cleaned parks and the city shielded from thieves. Security is so extreme that there is a policeman in every hotel where the guests are staying, including boutique hotels, with no more than six rooms.

MEXICO CITY - A video in which children ask Mexico's 2012 presidential hopefuls whether they really want to change the country or are just seeking the office for its own sake has already topped 2.7 million views on YouTube.

Mérida, 14th April 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - With debates, exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations, this week Venezuela marked a decade since the coup and counter-coup of April 2002 which removed President Hugo Chavez from power in just under 48 hours.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 08:01:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Internet connection on the fritz prevented me from posting more extensively...

(Reuters) - Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla has admitted for the first time that the country's brutal 1976-1983 dictatorship "disappeared" leftist opponents, a euphemism for kidnapped and murdered, and said babies were taken from their parents. (...) Local media said that Videla admitted in interviews for a new book that the dictatorship killed 7,000 or 8,000 people.

CNN-Mexico: Seeing children act out these grown-up situations has elicited a number of responses. Some viewers have criticized it as political manipulation, others as a wake-up call. But the list of Mexico's woes weighs heavily: security, pollution and poverty, among others. The video has garnered nearly 2 million views in less than four days.

Colombia Reports: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos criticized the U.S. and Organization of American States' embargo against Cuba Saturday during his opening speech at the sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 08:56:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan: Spring is Here!

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 08:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the coordinated attack seem to be major.   Al Jazeera


The Taliban said the main targets were the German and British embassies, and the headquarters of Afghanistan's NATO-led force.

Several Afghan members of parliament joined security forces repelling attackers from a roof near the parliament.
....
Attackers also fired rockets at the parliament building in the west of Kabul, and at the Russian embassy, a spokesman
for the parliament said.

Most MPs had left the building before it came under attack, said a politician. However, one of several who fought back from a roof, Naeem Hameedzai, told Reuters: "I'm the representative of my people and I have to defend them."

Afghan media said Taliban fighters had stormed the Star Hotel complex near the presidential palace and the Iranian embassy.

Windows of the hotel were blown out and smoke billowed from the building.



"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 10:59:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:40:38 PM EST
Tom Philpott | Mother Jones

A casual reader taking in my account and the New York Times' account of yesterday's big FDA antibiotics announcement might have thought we were reacting to different events. Here's the Times lead:

Farmers and ranchers will for the first time need a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in farm animals, in hopes that more judicious use of the drugs will reduce the tens of thousands of human deaths that result each year from the drugs' overuse.

In the Times' reading, the FDA placed significant restrictions on antibiotics use. My take was more critical: "The plan contains a bull-size loophole--and is purely voluntary, to boot."

What gives? In short, the Times delivered a skim-level, FDA-friendly account of the new plan. Let's start with the loophole. Here's the Times:

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, the process will also be secret. Companies will have three months to submit voluntary plans and three years to implement them. During this entire time, the public will be kept in the dark. It could be three to four years before anyone knows how well the program is working.

Finally, the program contains a stealth gift to the drug industry: It allows companies to "avoid risk assessments for new drug approvals," Mellon wrote.

This is one of those stories that we'll be reading some permutation of for many years to come. I doubt that even an epidemic directly traceable to the meat and dairy industry's abuse of antibiotics would have any effect on US regs. Raise the price of gas and Americans start looking for a country to invade. Raise the price of beef and they start looking for a new Congressman.
by Andhakari on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 02:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Andhakari:
It allows companies to "avoid risk assessments for new drug approvals,"

This is of course standard FDA practice. Twenty years ago it did the same for the US biotech industry, by classifying GM crops as "substantially equivalent" to non GM crops.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tierramérica
LIMA, Apr 9 (Tierramérica).- Peru has more than 6,000 abandoned oil wells that continue to pollute their surroundings, with 270 considered to pose a serious hazard. But the government has yet to carry out an inventory in order to identify and subsequently clean up and seal them, despite a law passed in 2007 for this purpose.

These improperly abandoned oil wells represent more than 6,000 environmental liabilities in the hydrocarbons sector, said Jorge Villar, an engineer from Peru's energy and mines regulator, OSINERGMIN.

OSINERGMIN reached this estimate in December 2010 after visiting most of the abandoned well sites over a two-year period. The wells are mainly located in the northwestern region of Piura and the northern Amazon region of Loreto.

These wells were left behind as environmental liabilities from oil and gas extraction activities carried out between 1863 and 1993, when there were no regulations requiring concession holders to properly clean up and plug wells that were no longer in use.

Of the thousands of improperly abandoned wells, there are 269 that pose a significant danger and should be dealt with as soon as possible, Villar told Tierramérica. Most of these are located on Peru's northern coast, and around 50 - which have still not been visited - are in the Amazon rainforest.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:56:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hungry Millions in Sahel Face 'Global Indifference'
GENEVA, Switzerland, April 12, 2012 (ENS) - United Nations officials are urging the international community to extend immediate help to millions of hungry and thirsty people in the Sahel region of West Africa, warning that a humanitarian disaster is near.

"We are appealing, all of us, for an end to global indifference that we have found so far," said Anthony Lake, executive director of the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF. Lake was speaking Tuesday at a news conference in Geneva with officials from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Health Organization.

"I know that there is a certain fatigue," said Lake. "I have read comments in blogs and elsewhere that 'here we go again; once more a famine; once more African children are dying; once more there is an appeal for help.'"

"Let's not look at them as objects of pity and charity, let's look at them as people we need to support in their brave struggle for survival," pleaded Lake.

"To those who are fatigued, we would say that people and children, of course, are not simply statistics. All these are families fighting courageously in circumstances that few of us can imagine," he said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't but think of anything else than this:

Somalia: the Real Causes of Famine

The experience of Somalia shows that famine in the late 20th century is not a consequence of a shortage of food. On the contrary, famines are spurred on as a result of a global oversupply of grain staples. Since the 1980s, grain markets have been deregulated under the supervision of the World Bank and US grain surpluses are used systematically as in the case of Somalia to destroy the peasantry and destabilize national food agriculture. The latter becomes, under these circumstances, far more vulnerable to the vagaries of drought and environmental degradation.

Throughout the continent, the pattern of "sectoral adjustment" in agriculture under the custody of the Bretton Woods institutions has been unequivocally towards the destruction of food security. Dependency vis-à-vis the world market has been reinforced, "food aid" to sub-Saharan Africa increased by more than seven times since 1974 and commercial grain imports more than doubled. Grain imports for sub-Saharan Africa expanded from 3.72 million tons in 1974 to 8.47 million tons in 1993. Food aid increased from 910,000 tons in 1974 to 6.64 million tons in l993.

Or am I getting too cynical in thinking that USAid has a stake in 'promoting' the scale of starvation in the Sahel?

by Nomad on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 06:22:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Penguins aplenty in Antarctica, satellite map shows

Antarctica boasts almost twice as many emperor penguins as previously thought, researchers have discovered using satellite mapping technology to count the iceberg-huddling birds from above.

An international team of scientists led by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found 595,000 birds, far beyond previous estimates of 270,000 to 350,000, according to the study on Thursday in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fungus threat escalates for food, wildlife: scientists

Species of fungus, driven by trade, travel and climate change, pose a mounting threat to food supplies and biodiversity, scientists said on Wednesday.

Widely unknown to the general public, seven fungal epidemics are under way, striking bees, bats, frogs, soft corals and sea turtles as well as rice and wheat, they said.

Human health and livelihoods are at stake, for fungus costs $60 billion a year in losses to corn, wheat and rice alone, according to their assessment, published by the science journal Nature.

"In both animals and plants, an unprecedented number of fungal and fungal-like species have recently caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species, and are jeopardising food security," it warned.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:12:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil Drilling Threatens Spain's Renewable Energy Paradise - IPS ipsnews.net
MÁLAGA, Spain, Apr 5, 2012 (IPS) - Environmentalists and local authorities are opposed to prospecting for oil in the waters off the Canary Islands, one of Europe's leading tourist destinations and an area with great potential in the field of renewable energy.

Planned oil exploration 60 km off the coasts of the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote "threatens the environment and the (tourism-based) economy" of the archipelago, the Canary Islands commissioner for self-government and institutional reform, Fernando Ríos, told IPS.

On Mar. 16, the government of centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy decided to grant permission for oil prospecting in the Canary Islands, in an effort to reduce Spain's dependence on foreign oil, based on the argument that oil drilling will bring enormous benefits to the islands and to the country as a whole.

"If the forecasts are confirmed, Spain could produce 140,000 barrels a day of oil, equivalent to 10 percent of the country's total consumption," said Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism José Manuel Soria in an interview broadcast on the state radio station Mar. 28.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As an antidote to factory farming (Agrar Industrie), here's a novel German farm which allows meat eaters to pick their pig.

At our weekend Ökomarkt, i learned that there is serious resistance to factory farming in Germany. Here, and elsewhere in the EU, it's not as bad as in amurka, but it's quickly getting worse.

I'm not in a position to say how alternative methods could play out on a mass scale, but if one wishes to eat pig, why not pick one who's conditions resemble that of a real farm animal. The pig may end up dead just the same, but at least s/he had a pig's life.

it's not the same as placing a pinch of corn meal in a deer's mouth you hunted, as thanks, but...

Here's a German website on the movement, there's an englisch button upper right.    Meine Landwirtschaft (My Agriculture)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:42:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:41:00 PM EST
Cult American cartoonist Robert Crumb on show at Paris' Modern Art Museum - France - RFI

Paris' Museum of Modern Art, in the centre of the capital, is offering visitors the chance to see the first-ever retrospective in France of American comic artist Robert Crumb.

 

Crumb's LSD-inspired heroes, rampant sex and undisguised attacks on political correctness, have made him an icon of US counter-culture although the 68-year-old has spent the last 21 years in the village of Suave in southern France.

The exhibition, Crumb, de l'Underground à la Genèse  (Crumb from Underground to Genesis) which runs until 19 August, brings together more than 700 original drawings dating from 1960 to the present day. Many of the works on display were loaned by a handful of private collectors in Europe and the US and include his hippy-era characters like Fritz the Cat and his cartoon take on the Bible.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:38:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Global Health and Wellness News: Women Do Not Exercise Enough
A national study shows that women are less likely than men to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, resulting in greater odds of developing metabolic syndrome -- a risky and increasingly prevalent condition related to obesity. Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors -- including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and extra weight around the middle part of the body -- which occur together and increase the risk for coronary disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. The researchers initially were interested in the correlation between physical activity, depression and metabolic syndrome, and ended up finding a gender difference.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:18:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indian Communists Lose Marx, and Hope - IPS ipsnews.net
NEW DELHI, Apr 14, 2012 (IPS) - While India's largest left outfit, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), was licking its electoral wounds, a newly-elected regime in West Bengal was busy chopping chapters on Marxism and the Bolshevik Revolution out of high school syllabi, in celebration of breaking CPI-M's 34-year stronghold over the state.

The axing of Marx and Engels on Apr. 6 was a highly symbolic gesture in a state that had hitherto been the last standing citadel of mainstream communism in India and signaled the rise of the ragtag Trinamool Congress, now in alliance with the ruling Congress party of India, whose leader, Mamata Banerjee, is desperately trying to uproot a decades-old communist legacy in the eastern state.

The CPI-M's decline has been swift. Its unpopular decision to forcibly appropriate 1000 acres of farmland on behalf of the motor industry in 2006 led to the communists' defeat at the polls in May 2011, where they secured just 61 of 294 seats, down from 235 seats in 2006.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:38:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope to have time to diary this later.

Partly it's the usual story of a long period of one party winning elections leading to arrogance and corruption.

But I think it's an interesting thing to think through. Western Media (The Economist in particular) have always demonised West Bengal's government because they have "communist" in the name.

This seems an appropriate moment to try and think through the tangle of the CPI-M's record in office in Kolkata.

(Disclaimer: My Dad's side of the family is from West Bengal, but it's a few years since I've been there in person.)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 05:06:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Internet Radio Powers on After Arab Spring - IPS ipsnews.net
CAIRO, Apr 14, 2012 (IPS) - When an Egyptian court fined former president Hosni Mubarak and two aides a total of 90 million dollars for cutting mobile and Internet services during protests that led to his ouster, it indicated the value placed on communication services in this Arab country.

The 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak in February 2011 was largely organised by groups creatively using social networking websites like Facebook and Internet radio. The fines were handed down three months later.

"In Egypt, if you want to start an ordinary radio station, the government demands a lot of licenses and money," Youssef Mohamed, campaign and activities coordinator at the Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA), told IPS. "Mubarak's National Democratic Party controlled everything, but the Internet offered more freedom."

EDA, a youth NGO aimed at fostering a culture of political participation, had, by 2009, established its online community-run radio station, Elma7rosa, to disseminate views gathered through community reporting, on subjects like freedom of speech, democracy, tolerance and human rights.

"In terms of Internet radio before the revolution there was Elma7rosa, and also Radio Horytna and Radio Bokra," said Mohamed. "The relative freedom on the Internet allowed online radio stations to emerge as the voice of a new generation fighting for its place in society."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:41:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:25:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Danke Sven. Good example of a next-gen P2P institution.

With media savvy as well.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 05:53:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:41:23 PM EST
BBC News - Four-year-old Heidi Hankins joins Mensa with 159 IQ

A four-year-old girl from Hampshire has been accepted into Mensa with an IQ just one point below Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Heidi Hankins from Winchester has a 159 IQ. She taught herself to read and was able to count to 40 at two years old.

British Mensa chief executive John Stevenage said Heidi's parents "correctly identified that she shows great potential".

According to Mensa, the average adult IQ score is 100.

In 2009, Oscar Wrigley, aged two and a half at the time, from Reading in Berkshire became the youngest ever child to join Mensa with an IQ of 160.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:35:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Petrino mistress Dorrell placed on paid leave

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas says Jessica Dorrell, the 25-year-old football department employee whose affair with former football coach Bobby Petrino led to his firing, has been placed on paid leave by the university.

Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player, was a Razorback Foundation fundraiser before her hiring as the football team's student-athlete development coordinator by Petrino on March 28. Her salary is $55,735.

Congratulations to Ms. Dorrell. Her story raises the bar for prostitutes everywhere in the US ... none of this "walk the street for money" crap (sing it, Sting).

Since she's probably sending out her resume to future employers I wonder what she lists under "special skills".

There! I'm not just a loud-mouth wisecracking idiot. I contribute.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 05:44:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't bother reporting on the California ongoing budget crises, or the 23,000 grad students who won't get their loans, or the changes in the central valley high speed rail.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 05:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, this is about college athletics, a $80 million a year enterprise at the University of Arkansas. Would $80 million help some of those students?
by Upstate NY on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 09:59:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Twank was not reporting about the possibility of a large Southern university completely giving up its athletic program, which of course would be unthinkable without a major change in paradigms.

You're welcome to change the subject, but my comment had nothing to do with a discussion of NCAA professional athletics.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 10:54:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just saying that money corrupts. The guy in question makes several million as coach at an academic institution.
by Upstate NY on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 11:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Francois Hollande's secret weapon: cracking jokes

"In France we like our presidents tough. Francois Hollande thinks that now, because of the economic crisis, the French might want a different sort of leader. He thinks people want to pull together around a president who is kind." But on that point, she says, he may be quite wrong.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 04:52:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a bad article, quoting two knowledgeable journalists.

The conclusion, though, is somewhat beside the point. Hollande isn't really running on the milk of human kindness. And (unless the pollsters are all completely wrong) there is no doubt at this point that he will win. (Or that Sarkozy will lose...)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 05:06:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find politicians with an open sense of humour to be far more reliable - or rather, that politicians without an evident sense of humour to be avoided. However the recent scandal in Finland in which an aide to a prominent Finnish Ugly party MP publicly proposed that all immigrants should wear an armband to identify them at all times - and included Swedish-speakers and homosexuals in the groups to be marked - shows that a sense of humour, which the aide claimed for her remarks, to be open to interpretation.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 07:05:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 07:23:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, right on !!!

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 07:31:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG, so much to love about Amsterdam!!!! Those ladies are great!

Nothing wrong with paying for sex with a person who enjoys making money that way. For some people, that's pretty much the only way they'd be getting any, ever. But human trafficking, and forcing people into doing things they don't want to do or enjoy, well that's just plain wrong, sick and disgusting. My belief is/was that the red light district and private escort services had strict regulations and as a result human trafficking was not a problem.

by sgr2 on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 09:09:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
remains a serious problem for East-European and African women ending up in the sex industry in the Netherlands.

With prostitution legalised and regulated, the difference is that police actually focus on the men behind human trafficking, instead of just attacking the symptoms, that is, busting women who are forced into (previously illegal) prostitution.

by Nomad on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 09:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that it remains a serious problem is truly unfortunate, especially for the East-European and African women you say it affects most. Prostitution should not be a profession for anyone who doesn't want to be doing it, and I feel bad for anyone who is forced to be where they don't want to be, and doing things they don't want to do.

While it's good to know that the police are trying to attack the problem at its source, by busting the kingpins and not just hassling the women, clearly much more needs to be done. Although disappointing news to learn, thanks for the info.

by sgr2 on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 11:02:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

An old video, but worthy of a rewind.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 07:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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