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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 9 April

by afew Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 04:15:54 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1682Robert Cavelier de La Salle discovers the mouth of the Mississippi River, claims it for France and names it Louisiana.

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 Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:41:36 AM EST
Report says EU remains world's biggest aid donor: theparliament.com
Sixteen member states managed to increase their overseas aid last year despite the recession, according to new data.

With €53bn of development aid in 2011, the EU and its member states remains the world biggest donor, providing more than half of global official aid.

These are the preliminary figures of an official development aid published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday.

According to the report, three member states are ranked among the five largest donors worldwide and four of them have already reached the target of spending 0.7 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) on aid.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brussels lobbying: out of the shadows into the spotlight [INTERVIEW: Matthieu Lietaert] | New Europe

My name is Matthieu Lietaert, and I am one of the directors. I hold a PhD in political science from the European University Institute (Florence), financed by the EU Commission and the member states. There, I did my doctorate thesis on lobbying in Brussels in the field of external trade and services.

I used to be a lobbyist in Brussels. After talking with some friends of mine, I realised that not many people understand what is going on in this industry.

In 2007, there was a big scandal in the United States with Jack Abramoff, a well-known lobbyist, who was bribing members of Congress. After that, in the United States, strict rules were put in place to prevent this from happening again and put lobbying in the spotlight.

In the EU, there are also some rules, but they are not strict and are on a voluntary basis. If we truly want a democratic Europe, we cannot joke about lobbying since it influences decisions and is part of the democratic process.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:49:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In 2007, there was a big scandal in the United States with Jack Abramoff, a well-known lobbyist, who was bribing members of Congress. After that, in the United States, strict rules were put in place to prevent this from happening again and put lobbying in the spotlight.

If only.

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 8th, 2012 at 11:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ikea vows to stop spying on French workers - The Local

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has admitted to ethical breaches after it was accused of illegally accessing secret police files in France as part of its efforts to screen potential employees.

The flat-pack furniture firm has also been accused of spying on irate customers.
Without referring to specific cases, the company pledged on Friday to clean up its act.

"Ikea totally condemns the practices brought to light which contravene its must fundamental principles, especially the right to privacy," news agency Reuters quoted Ikea as saying in a statement.

"These practices go against the ethics of Ikea which call for its activities to be conducted in an upright and honest manner."

Weekly French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné reported at the end of February that the company used French security companies to gain access to documents held in the STIC system.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel's party 'not attracting women' - The Local

Despite being led by Germany's first woman chancellor Angela Merkel, her Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has a problem attracting female voters, according to one of its regional leaders.

Issues that concern women must be given more attention, to try to get them to join the party and vote for it at elections, according to Thomas Strobl, the party's leader in the south-western state of Baden-Württtemberg.

Speaking this weekend, just over a year after the party suffered a historic defeat in his state in an election which handed power to a Green-led coalition, Strobl pointed to figures which showed the CDU obviously needed more than a woman chancellor to attract women voters.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 12:00:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dan Diaconescu goes from trash TV to shock politics | Presseurop (English)
Famous for his crassly commercial - and popular - television shows, the owner of the OTV private television channel last year founded his own political movement, the Peoples' Party. A few months ahead of important elections in June, he's the front-runner in the opinion polls. This worries Romanian daily România Libera.

... Between 12% and 14% of those polled say they will vote for his party. That's a higher percentage than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PDL). This means that Diaconescu's party will be unavoidable in negotiations for the transmission of power in 2012 [local elections are scheduled on June 10 and legislative elections in November].

Those close to Diaconescu could find themselves in key government positions. But who are the PPDD's leaders? They are essentially dodgy business executives, dishonest civil servants, the notoriously career-oriented or members of high society.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 12:07:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But who are the PPDD's leaders? They are essentially dodgy business executives, dishonest civil servants, the notoriously career-oriented or members of high society.

How does this contrast with the other parties, especially on actual policies, if any. Sounds like the Palin phenomenon in the USA, the biggest problem being that she is an embarrassment to those who want to use her but keep her under control -- which seemed to be impossible. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

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 8th, 2012 at 11:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tadic's resignation stirs Serbian public (SETimes.com)

Serbia President Boris Tadic's decision to step down ten months early in order to run for another term is expected to help the ruling Democratic Party in the general and local elections next month, as well as set up a showdown in the parliamentary elections with the Serbian Progressive Party.

Tadic announced on Wednesday (April 4th) that he will step down from office in preparation for a presidential campaign. The election is expected to be May 6th, the same day that municipal and parliamentary elections are scheduled.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 12:18:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy dangles empty chair threat over Europe | Reuters

(Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a Sunday newspaper he is serious about pushing for more trade protectionism in Europe and tighter external border controls, hinting he could take a stand as tough as Charles de Gaulle's 1965 "empty chair" policy.

The conservative leader told the weekly Journal du Dimanche in an interview that he meant business with an election campaign pledge last month to push for a "Buy European Act" and a threat to pull France out of Europe's open-border Schengen zone unless external controls are tightened.

...

"All the public markets on our continent have been open since 1994. In Japan the only open market is water. In China ... no public market is open," he said.

"All I am saying is, show reciprocity. Otherwise, French public contracts will only be awarded to companies that produce in Europe. When General de Gaulle instigated his empty chair policy in 1965 he obtained the Common Agricultural Policy and pushed Europe forward."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 12:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is he saying that he either wants reciprocity with specific trade partners, on a case by case basis, that he wants reciprocity from China and other major markets as a condition for not insisting on a "Made in the EU" policy, or is he being deliberately vague, as seems most probable?

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 8th, 2012 at 11:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he's saying explicitly that Japan and China are protectionist. But apart from that it's just noise, as usual from Sarko.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shorter Sarko: "My economic policy only works if everyone (I care about) runs a foreign surplus. Therefore, I will push for mercantilist measures."

Note to Sarko: Float the currency and the foreign balance will take care of itself. Float the currency and inflexibly guarantee low interest rates and full employment, and the problem of bondholders will take care of itself.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 12:20:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, the concept of "Free Trade" is axiomatic for the right who view it as a way of keeping workforces docile, poorly paid and under constant threat of their jobs going to lower wage economies and so tend to inflict it mercilessly.

So, to see a right winger suddenly turn against the idea is interesting. They can learn, which is in itself instructive.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The symbolic use of De Gaulle is an appeal to a certain electorate. In his usual style of saying one thing and its contrary from one day to the next, he'll be an economic liberal firebrand, an old-fashioned nationalist protectionist, an anti-Gaullian far-right Vichy apologist, a law 'n' order xenophobe, a devout papal-blessed Catholic, a firm defender of secularism...

There is only one unifying thrust in this cacophony, which is to create confusion and resignation in people's minds so as to further an agenda of reducing the scope of the state and its power of action, dismantling social redistribution, and bringing down wages.

The rest is a war of movement, noise, illusion, posturing and lies.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:45:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:43:38 AM EST
Don't Worry About Deficit That Will Heal Itself - Bloomberg

I'm not particularly worried about the budget deficit. In fact, of all the major problems the U.S. faces, I'm least worried about the deficit.

That's not because we don't have to get the problem under control; it's because I'm pretty sure we will. Why? The budget deficit is unique: If Congress is unable to agree on a remedy, the problem goes away on its own. Would that all of our challenges were so cooperative.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke calls the end of 2012 "a fiscal cliff." The Bush tax cuts are set to expire. The $1.2 trillion spending sequester, enforcing cuts in the defense and domestic budgets, is set to go off. Various stimulus measures -- including the payroll tax cut -- are scheduled to end. "Taken together," writes the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, "these policies would reduce ten-year deficits by over $6.8 trillion relative to realistic current policy projections -- enough to put the debt on a sharp downward path."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:26:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"these policies would reduce ten-year deficits by over $6.8 trillion relative to realistic current policy projections -- enough to put the debt on a sharp downward path."

If defense cuts are used solely for deficit reduction the entire economy will be put on a sharp downward path. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget will quickly find that revenues will be declining faster than the savings. Too bad they refuse to consider what Irving Fisher had to say about debt-deflation death spirals. Perhaps Obi Ben Bernanke and the next Sec. of Treasury can save us by crediting enough money to individual taxpayer's accounts to produce an expansion. But I don't think more QE for the TBTFs will cut it.  

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 8th, 2012 at 11:37:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whose World Bank? Joseph E Stiglitz | New Europe

NEW YORK - US President Barack Obama's nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the presidency of the World Bank has been well received - and rightly so, especially given some of the other names that were bandied about. In Kim, a public-health professor who is now President of Dartmouth University and previously led the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS department, the United States has put forward a good candidate. But the candidate's nationality, and the nominating country - whether small and poor or large and rich - should play no role in determining who gets the job.

The World Bank's 11 executive directors from emerging and developing countries have put forward two excellent candidates, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia. I have worked closely with both of them. Both are first-rate, have served as ministers with multiple portfolios, have performed admirably in top positions in multilateral organizations, and have the diplomatic skills and professional competence to do an outstanding job. They understand finance and economics, the bread and butter of the World Bank, and have a network of connections to leverage the Bank's effectiveness.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:51:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama's blunder at the bank | European Voice
The US president should have nominated a woman and a pro-growth candidate for the presidency of the World Bank.

The selection of a successor to Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank was supposed to initiate a new era of open meritocratic competition, breaking the traditional hold that the United States has had on the job. Indeed, Zoellick's own appointment was widely regarded as `illegitimate' from that perspective. But US President Barack Obama has let the world down even more distressingly with his nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the post.

To begin with, it should have been clear that a most remarkable candidate - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - was already at hand. She had impressive credentials: degrees in economics from Harvard and MIT, experience working on a wide variety of development issues as a managing director of the World Bank, and stints as finance minister and foreign minister of Nigeria. (She also possesses and has amply demonstrated that rarest of qualities: a willingness to fight corruption at the expense of her job.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:52:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So Obama is supposed to have nominated a Nigerian woman to the head of the World Bank - in an alternate universe, perhaps?

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 8th, 2012 at 11:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:44:08 AM EST
U.S. Withdrawal a Blessing and a Curse for Afghans - IPS ipsnews.net
KABUL, Apr 7, 2012 (IPS) - Though the United States' announcement to pull its troops from Afghanistan by 2014 was celebrated by most Afghans as the imminent end of a protracted and controversial foreign occupation, there are lingering questions about the outcome of such a withdrawal.

Specifically, experts and lay people alike are asking whether it will make the country safer for democracy or more vulnerable than ever to violence and extremism. Others are sceptical that the country will ever be free of U.S. presence in a geographically strategic country, close to Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia.

More than ten years since the arrival of foreign troops to `fight terrorism', Afghan people are openly questioning the U.S' 'real goal' when it entered the country.

"The goal of the (U.S) was not to fight terrorism, even though they killed (former Al-Qaeda chief) Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda is still here and spreading throughout the region (into Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc), which is useful for the U.S. because they will be asked for help and can use it as an excuse to remain in the region," Naseer Fayaz, a renowned journalist, told IPS.

Though U.S. President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of a portion of the stationed troops by the end of 2014, few are hopeful that this will lead to any lasting change on the ground.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan and US sign 'night raid' deal - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

The Afghan government has reached a crucial deal with the US to take control of controversial night raids from American forces.

During a meeting of his national security council on Sunday, President Hamid Karzai approved a memorandum of understanding on "Afghanisation of special operations on Afghan soil," the president's office said in a statement.

The document was signed on Sunday by General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan defence minister, and the US commander of NATO forces, General John Allen.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Leaders in Yemen, Same Old System - IPS ipsnews.net
WASHINGTON, Apr 6, 2012 (IPS) - A new report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) Friday contends that the dearth of meaningful reform in the protection of human rights and the rule of law in Yemen threatens political stability as the fledgling transitional government copes with a deteriorating economy and continued violence.

"While Yemen's new government has taken several promising steps, the repressive security apparatus of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains largely intact," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director, after observers met for two weeks in Sanaa.

"Civilian leaders reiterated that they cannot move forward on accountability and reform of the security services so long as Saleh continues to play a hand in directing various security forces there," Whitson added.

Since last December, when Saleh and his political supporters were granted legal immunity in exchange for a new government under President Abu Rabu Mansur Hadi, the progress made thus far is insufficient, according to the report.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Southern Kordofan: Unfinished Business - Crossroads Sudan - Al Jazeera English

Southern Kordofan is region that used to be the geographical centre of Sudan, but when the south won independence, it found itself on the southern border.

At its heart is the Nuba Mountains where some 50 black African tribes have lived for thousands of years.

There was heavy fighting in the region during the north-south civil war, but the comprehensive peace agreement that ended the conflict never resolved its status.

In a special show, Al Jazeera investigates a hidden war in the remote state of Southern Kordofan in Sudan where rebels are fighting to defend their people against what they say is "genocide".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:14:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria wants 'guarantees' for troop pullout - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syria's government appears to be pulling back from a United Nations peace plan, saying it wants "written guarantees" that opposition fighters will lay down arms before it implements a troop pullback agreed by President Bashar al-Assad, a demand refused by the main rebel group.

Hours after the government's demand on Sunday, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, the leader of the rebel Free Syria Army told the Associated Press news agency that his group did not recognise Assad's government and for that reason they would not give guarantees. 

Colonel Riad al-Asaad said that if the regime abided by UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan to end the violence, his group would cease fire. He said that the government should withdraw its forces to bases and remove checkpoints from the streets.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:15:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Colombia Farc rebel leader says group is not weakened

One of the leaders of Colombia's biggest rebel movement, the Farc, says it remains ready for battle.

The leader, known as Ivan Marquez, denied claims by the Colombian military that the guerrillas had been weakened.

In a video message, he defended the Farc's actions and rejected accusations that they were acts of terrorism.

Just hours after the message was uploaded, Farc rebels killed at least six soldiers at a military checkpoint in north-western Choco province.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Oklahoma murders: Police hold two in Tulsa

Police in Oklahoma have arrested two white men after three people, all black, were shot dead on Friday.

Two other black victims are in a critical condition in hospital following the shootings in Tulsa.

The suspects have been named by police as Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32.

They are expected to face three counts of first-degree murder and two of shooting with intent to kill.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:20:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dont they have the "Stand your ground" law in Okie then ?

I mean, if you wanted to go around shooting people, you'd go to a place where it was legal

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Persian knot - Joschka Fischer| New Europe

BERLIN - The negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, over Iran's nuclear program are entering a new, and probably decisive, stage. The negotiations have been going on for almost a decade, with long interruptions, and whether a breakthrough will come this time is anyone's guess. But the situation has never been as serious as it is today, and peace hangs in the balance.

After the recent visits by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Washington, DC, and by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Tehran, a foggy situation is nonetheless becoming clearer. It appears that US President Barack Obama has won time by drawing a line in the sand - the start of an explicit Iranian nuclear-weapons program - and by assuring Israel of America's readiness for military action should negotiations fail.

Moreover, in view of the danger of a military confrontation, the United States, together with Europe and other partners, has implemented tough new "smart" sanctions aimed at Iran's oil exports - its main source of income - while largely isolating the Islamic Republic from the international payment system. Iran urgently needs the oil revenue, and, without participation in the payments system, its international trade is grinding to a halt. Barter transactions and suitcases full of cash are not a viable alternative. So Iran's economy is being shaken to the core.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Special report: the documents that prove Britain initiated rendition | World news | The Guardian

Bouchar, then aged 30, had become a victim of the process known as extraordinary rendition. She and her husband, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan Islamist militant fighting Muammar Gaddafi, had been abducted in Bangkok and were being flown to one of Gaddafi's prisons in Libya, a country where she had never before set foot. However, Bouchar's case is different from the countless other renditions that the world has learned about over the past few years, and not just because she was one of the few female victims.

Documents discovered in Tripoli show that the operation was initiated by British intelligence officers, rather than the masked Americans or their superiors in the US. There is also some evidence that the operation may have been linked to a second British-initiated operation, which saw two men detained in Iraq and rendered to Afghanistan. Furthermore, the timing of the operation, and the questions that Bouchar's husband and a second rendition victim say were subsequently put to them under torture, raise disturbing new questions about the secret court system that considers immigration appeals in terrorist cases in the UK - a system that the government has pledged to extend to civil trials in which the government itself is the defendant.

This year, the Crown Prosecution Service announced police had launched an investigation into the "alleged rendition and alleged ill-treatment" of Bouchar and Belhaj, and a second operation in which a Libyan family of six were flown to one of Gaddafi's prisons.

It appears inevitable that Scotland Yard's detectives will want to question the man who was foreign secretary at the time - Jack Straw.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 12:12:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody will be the least bit surprised. Jack Straw is the most arrogant of men and will, as he did with the rendition aircraft landing at glasgow, simply deny he knew anything even when documantary evidence is waved under his nose.

It's the governmental "so what are you gonna do about it?" excuse. He knows he won't be charged cos no government will press charges on a predecessor for illegal policies in case it is subsequently done to them.

Nothing will happen.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mugabe battling for life in Singapore, cabinet meetings suspended - Zimbabwe News Daily at your fingertips -

The coalition government is rocked by the news that another cabinet meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been suspended again amid reports that President Mugabe is battling for his life in Singapore, sources in government revealed last night.

A senior Zanu-PF official whose identity cannot be revealed said the President is undergoing intensive treatment in Singapore and he also comfirmed that some members of his family have since joined him after boarding a chartered private jet on Saturday evening.

Mugabe reportedly went to Singapore to oversee university postgraduate studies arrangements for his daughter Bona, but this has not helped quell speculation that the president had health issues to contend with.

Questions have been raised as to whether it was necessary for Mugabe to personally oversee Bona's registration or aides could have done that on his behalf.

Singapore University registration starts in September.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 07:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:44:33 AM EST
Fertilizer use responsible for increase in nitrous oxide in atmosphere

University of California, Berkeley, chemists have found a smoking gun proving that increased fertilizer use over the past 50 years is responsible for a dramatic rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide, which is a major greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change.

Climate scientists have assumed that the cause of the increased nitrous oxide was nitrogen-based fertilizer, which stimulates microbes in the soil to convert nitrogen to nitrous oxide at a faster rate than normal.

The new study, reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, uses nitrogen isotope data to identify the unmistakable fingerprint of fertilizer use in archived air samples from Antarctica and Tasmania.

"Our study is the first to show empirically from the data at hand alone that the nitrogen isotope ratio in the atmosphere and how it has changed over time is a fingerprint of fertilizer use," said study leader Kristie Boering, a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and of earth and planetary science.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Clean' Coal Nonsense: New Industry Ad Claims 'Real Environmental Progress' | ThinkProgress

"The clock is ticking, America. It's time we focused on reality instead of rhetoric."

Finally, a national ad about the threat of climate change? Nope. It's another piece of spin from the coal industry.

Under threat from cheap natural gas, savvy activist groups working overtime to shut down plants, and the declining cost of renewable energy, the coal industry has rolled out a new ad trying desperately to paint itself as "clean."

"It's time to recognize that America's unsurpassed coal reserves can deliver centuries of affordable electricity...It's time we recognized that the nearly $100 billion spent on clean coal technologies have resulted in real environmental progress."

Centuries of coal burning? Scientists warn that we are already hitting tipping points that would make accelerating warming trends irreversible. If we burn coal for a couple more decades we'll be in desperate trouble. Centuries? The warming scenario is almost unimaginable.

Real environmental progress? Last time I checked, coal was the source of 99% of mercury pollution from the U.S. power sector. Coal-fired electricity is also the largest source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the U.S.

The only effective ways to address those problems are strong, smart regulatory standards. And the coal industry has fought those efforts tooth and nail.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:01:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shale Shocked: 'Remarkable Increase' In U.S. Earthquakes 'Almost Certainly Manmade,' USGS Scientists Report | ThinkProgress

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team has found that a sharp jump in earthquakes in America's heartland appears to be linked to oil and natural gas drilling operations.

As hydraulic fracturing has exploded onto the scene, it has increasingly been connected to earthquakes. Some quakes may be caused by the original fracking -- that is, by injecting a fluid mixture into the earth to release natural gas (or oil). More appear to be caused by reinjecting the resulting brine deep underground.

Last August, a USGS report examined a cluster of earthquakes in Oklahoma and reported:

Our analysis showed that shortly after hydraulic fracturing began small earthquakes started occurring, and more than 50 were identified, of which 43 were large enough to be located. Most of these earthquakes occurred within a 24 hour period after hydraulic fracturing operations had ceased.

In November, a British shale gas developer found it was "highly probable" its fracturing operations caused minor quakes.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:05:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bottled water industry's PR battle against tap water movement - The Ecologist
Worried by an eco backlash, the bottled water industry is waging a PR battle to turn the public back onto plastic bottled water

Bottled water is the totemic bête noire of the environmental world, a multibillion-dollar industry that takes what in the west is clean and readily available from the tap, packages it up in non-biodegradable plastic and sells it back to consumers at hugely inflated prices.

And yet sales continue to rise. In 2010, more than 2bn litres were consumed in the UK - 33 litres per person, a figure projected to rise to 40 litres by 2020. More than 40bn litres were sold last year in the US, in plastic bottles it took 17m barrels of oil to manufacture; the industry there is worth $22 billion a year and sales are increasing at a rate of 5.4 per cent annually.

The strong growth is down to an aggressive marketing campaign by companies fighting to purify a product that - clear mountain spring water notwithstanding - has been tainted by accusations that it is unnecessary, wasteful and environmentally costly.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:08:52 AM EST
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Studies show how pesticides make bees lose their way | Reuters

Bees are important pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruit and vegetable crops. A 2011 United Nations report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth 153 billion euros ($203 billion) a year to the human economy.

In the first of the Science studies... Compared to control colonies not exposed to imidacloprid, the researchers found the treated colonies gained less weight, suggesting less food was coming in.

The treated colonies were on average eight to 12 percent smaller than the control colonies at the end of the experiment, and also produced about 85 percent fewer queens - a finding that is key because queens produce the next generation of bees.

In the separate study, a team led by Mickael Henry of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon tagged free-ranging honeybees with tiny radio-frequency identification microchips glued to each bee's back. This allowed them to track the bees as they came and went from hives.

The researchers gave some of the bees a low dose of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam which they knew would not kill them and compared them to a control group of bees that was not exposed to the pesticide.

The treated bees were about two to three times more likely to die while away from their nests, and the researchers said this was probably because the pesticide interfered with the bees' homing systems, so they couldn't find their way home.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 12:26:16 PM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:44:53 AM EST
Scientists refine Earth's clock

New research has revealed that some events in Earth's history happened more recently than previously thought. Scientists from the British Geological Survey and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, publishing this week in the journal Science, have refined the data used to determine how much time has passed since a mineral or rock was formed.

They report uranium isotopic composition of minerals, used to date major geological events, which are more accurate than previously published. The major effect of this is to reduce previous age determinations by up to 700,000 years.

Minerals naturally capture uranium when they form, which in turn undergoes a chain of radioactive decays to other elements, ending with lead. This new research has shown that, by more accurately measuring the relative amount of the uranium isotopes 238U and 235U, we now have a better understanding of how much time has passed since a mineral or rock has formed.

A major effect of this work will be to decrease all previous uranium-lead (U-Pb) age determinations, by up to 700,000 years for samples that are about 4.5 billion years old - the age of the Earth.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:51:00 AM EST
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Titanic disaster 'unlikely to happen again'

World-leading ship science expert, Professor Ajit Shenoi, says that a seafaring tragedy on the scale of the Titanic disaster is unlikely to happen again.

Professor Shenoi, who is the Director of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, believes this is due to the many lessons that have been learned as a result of the tragedy 100 years ago.

"A detailed Board of Trade inquiry set up after the tragedy identified that the reasons behind the Titanic's sinking and the huge loss of life could be categorised under two headings," Professor Shenoi explains.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:04:27 AM EST
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Apparently has not read a newspaper since last December.
by asdf on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 04:59:39 PM EST
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u r "world-leading ship science expert"? wot do u no?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:27:38 AM EST
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Why the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Devours Its Battery - Businessweek
One of the highlights of interviewing Larry Page this week was geeking out with Google's (GOOG) chief executive officer over our matching Android-powered Galaxy Nexus smartphones--and getting to whine directly to the über-Android boss about one of its shortcomings, feeble battery life. Page started our chat by marveling at all the technology packed into the oversize handset. "Eight years ago you would have killed for having a computer that good," he said. "We have forgotten that we're walking around with that in our pocket and it's battery-powered. It's just amazing." He also acknowledged, after I complained, that the thing practically gulps down electric juice.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 11:43:44 AM EST
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Mc Clatchy: Commentary: NRA could help stop Mexico's gun violence (Andres Oppenheimer, April 6, 2012)
The NRA and other gun lobby groups consistently block efforts to restrict the massive sale of high-power assault weapons across the border, which end up in the cartels' hands, they say. In particular, Calderón cited the gun lobby-supported U.S. decision to lift a ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. Calderón said he spent much of the time during his meeting with Obama on Monday urging him to seek a restoration of the ban.

...

"During my government, we have seized over 140,000 weapons in four years. And I think that the vast majority have been assault weapons, AK-57s, etc. And many, the vast majority of these weapons, were sold in gun shops in the United States," Calderón said, adding that there are an estimated 8,000 gun shops along the U.S.-Mexico border.

...

"There have been about 100,000 desertions from the Mexican military into the drug cartels over the past seven years, and one would have to be extremely naive to think that when those deserters leave their base, they are doing it empty-handed, without raiding the armory," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told me.



There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 10:27:40 AM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 10:45:18 AM EST


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 08:00:48 PM EST
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Why did La Salle develop a voyage to find the Mississippi?


La Salle immediately began to issue land grants, set up a village and learn the languages of the native peoples, mostly Mohawk in this area. The Mohawk told him of a great river, called the Ohio, which flowed into the Mississippi River. Thinking the river flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, La Salle began to plan for expeditions to find a western passage to China.

Funny how native peoples knew about things far away.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 07:52:53 AM EST
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Ayn Rand may have been a hypocrite, but at least she didn't wet herself very often « Sarah, Proud and Tall

However, I was reminded of the fact that that I did once meet Mr Brooks at a party in Chicago.

It was in the very early 80s when he was still at university. Ayn Rand had bailed him up in a corner and had stolen his drink. She was in the last stages of terminal cancer at that point, but was still as horrid as ever. She kept calling him "Davey Davey Pissy Pants" until he actually did wet himself and had to leave.

It just goes to show that even evil old women with the literary talent of a milk bottle cap can have true insight into people's character every now and then*.

* The first time I told the anecdote to the Juicers, I was a little cruel, in that I omitted to mention that as he was scampering off, urine squirting down his leg and onto the floor of Hutchinson Hall with every step, Mr Brooks did manage to stammer back that Ms Rand was a bitch.

Of course, the hypocritical old harridan didn't hear him because she was elbow deep in the shrimp buffet by that point. However, it seemed only fair to note that little Davey did get the last word. Sort of.

As I said then, none of that means that Ayn Rand wasn't a dried up old snake with the morals of a bandicoot on crystal meth**.



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 08:13:19 AM EST
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How do you talk someone into wetting himself? Unless he is already badly in need of a pee and you keep on babbling forever, of course.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 11:37:19 AM EST
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