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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 10 April

by Nomad Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:43:10 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europe on this date in history:

1912 - The Titanic leaves port in Southampton for her first and only voyage.

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!

The Salon has different rooms or sections for your enjoyment. If you would like to join the discussion, then to add a link or comment to a topic or section, please click on "Reply to this" in one of the following sections:

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by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:36:20 PM EST
French presidential campaigns officially kick off - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

The campaign for the first round of France's presidential election on April 22 officially kicked off Monday with candidates allowed to put up posters and given free air time on television.

Unofficial campaigning has already been underway for weeks, with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy facing a tough challenge from Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande.

As of Monday, the 10 registered candidates were allowed to put up campaign posters in areas designated by local authorities, although they were not expected to go up until Tuesday, after the Easter holiday.

The posters must be of the same size and not use a white background, which is reserved for official announcements, or any combination of the blue, white and red colours of the French flag.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Far-left ready to back Hollande in run-off - FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012 - FRANCE 24

France's surging hardline leftists finally said out loud on Friday what Socialist Francois Hollande has quietly hoped to hear: that they would encourage their followers to back him in an expected May 6 presidential run-off against Nicolas Sarkozy.

Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who says Hollande's Socialists have gone soft, is expected to be eliminated in the first round of voting in two weeks, but his growing popularity has become one of the main stories of the election campaign.

Until now, he had stopped short of saying whether he would urge his supporters to pull behind Hollande to beat centre-right President Sarkozy in a run-off.

"We will call for a victory over Sarkozy and we will vote for the left-wing candidate who's in front," Melenchon's spokeswoman Clementine Autain said in an interview on RMC radio.

In return, she suggested the Left Front was hoping to secure seats in a future Socialist cabinet.

"We want to ensure the left's success. We would like to see the political conditions emerge for us to take part in government."

Hollande and Sarkozy top the field of 10 candidates for the first round on April 22. Opinion polls suggest Hollande is on course to beat the conservative leader and become France's first left-wing president in 17 years.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:27:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French election throws Afghan exit into disarray - Europe - World - The Independent

The critical timetable for the withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan will come under major strain if Nicolas Sarkozy loses the presidency in the French elections, with his socialist opponent warning that his country's forces will be pulled out within seven months if he gets into power.

François Hollande's defence spokesman, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is a possible choice for defence minister, told British officials in no uncertain terms during a visit last week that French troops would end their combat mission a full two years before the UK and US are scheduled to do so in 2014.

The latest polls suggest Mr Sarkozy and Mr Hollande are tied in the first round of voting, due to be held on 22 April. But Mr Hollande is the frontrunner for the all-important run-off on 6 May, which would leave France with its first Socialist president in almost two decades.

Nato commanders and the Afghan government could then be faced with hastily drawing up plans to replace the 3,600-strong French contingent based in an area which has seen a steady rise in the scale of insurgent attacks.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Tymoshenko rejects Ukraine murder link as 'absurd'

ailed Ukrainian former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has reacted angrily to an accusation of involvement in the 1996 murder of an MP, Yevhen Shcherban.

Mr Shcherban, a powerful businessman, was shot dead with his wife at Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine.

The deputy prosecutor general said on Friday there were witnesses that she and former PM Pavlo Lazarenko had paid for the murders.

In a statement, Ms Tymoshenko said the claim was "absurd".

Mr Lazarenko said he had "nothing to do with that crime". 'True tragedy'

Last week, Mr Shcherban's son, Ruslan, who survived the gun attack gave a press conference in which he said he had handed the prosecutor general's office documents that implicated the two former prime ministers in the murders.

At the time of the attack, Ms Tymoshenko was head of United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU).

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:30:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putting Pressure on Ukraine: Germany Takes Hard Line in Tymoshenko Case - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Silence surrounds the estate at Turovskaya Street 13 in Kiev. The ochre-colored villa with an attached office building is in the old Podol neighborhood, not far from the banks of the Dnieper River. There is no sign or plaque, but there are surveillance cameras on every corner, allowing security personnel to monitor everything that happens on the street.

OAS_RICH('Middle2'); The address, Ulitsa Turovskaya 13, is that of the Batkivshchyna, or "Fatherland" Party, the party that proclaimed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine more than seven years ago.

As quiet as it seems outside the party headquarters on Turovskaya Street, there is turmoil behind the building walls, especially on this particular day. There has been news from Italy that Arsen Avakov was arrested in Frosinone, a town not far from Rome. Avakov was once the governor of the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine and head of the regional branch of the Fatherland Party. Now Ukraine has issued a warrant for his arrest through Interpol, for alleged "abuse of office."

A special committee is meeting at the party headquarters. Sergei Vlasenko, a member of parliament and Batkivshchyna's most important attorney, has until the evening to find a legal representative to prevent Avakov from being extradited.

The arrest warrant is the Ukrainian president's most recent effort to silence Batkivshchyna. Several former cabinet ministers from the party are already in custody, while others have fled abroad. Nevertheless, President Viktor Yanukovych isn't letting up. Eliminating the opposition, the people who, with their 2004 Orange Revolution, prevented him from assuming the presidency at the time, has become an obsession for him.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:32:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Macedonia to block Roma from EU | Europe | DW.DE | 08.04.2012

Macedonia plans to punish Roma who seek to apply for asylum in the EU. Behind this curb on freedom of travel are warnings from Brussels threatening Skopje's EU aspirations.

Since December 2009, citizens of Serbia and Macedonia no longer need a visa to travel to the European Union. Many Roma from those countries see this as a chance for a better life in the West. The flow of Roma immigrants to the EU has been steadily on the rise and while many of them apply for asylum once in the EU, none has actually been recognized as a political refugee.

To stem this exodus of their Roma population, the government in Macedonia has now agreed no a package of measures. "It is intended to lower the number of those applying for asylum," Spiro Ristovski, Macedonian minister for labor and social policies said.

EU pressure on Skopje

One of the measures planned is to block those from leaving the to country who already once tried to leave without proper documents. So called asylum abuse is to be crimialized. Whoever returns after having their asylum application turned down, will be registered on a central list which will be available to border control authorities. Those people too can then be blocked from leaving the country again.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:32:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Imminent UN reform will force European re-think | EurActiv

Reform of the United Nations is "around the corner" and will force Europe to accept less influence on the Security Council there - senior diplomats within the institution have told EurActiv.

The development comes as the EU's External Action Service (EEAS) responded to criticism that its observer status within the institution has downgraded its voice there.

"The Security Council as it is constituted today (see background) does not reflect contemporary reality, and therefore it lacks full credibility," the Indian ambassador to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri, told EurActiv.

"I have personally no doubt that reform is around the corner," he added.

Europe can bag 30% of the Security Council

Although many diplomats at the UN are unconvinced that reform is possible soon, another senior UN diplomat said that the present system of European representation there "is not tenable" and any reform will compel the continent to re-think its approach radically.

"There are too many European seats - with Britain and France being permanent members of the Security Council and Europe having the possibility of taking 30% of the total seats," the diplomat said.

The comments come as EurActiv was told by an EU diplomat, that EEAS's new status as observer relegated it to speaking after the other nations and thus decreased its ability to be heard.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:46:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bucharest still angry about Schengen refusal | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The new Dutch ambassador to Romania has been waiting for months to present his credentials to President Traian Basescu but so far, the Romanian leader has not found time to receive the Dutch diplomat.

Because he has been unable to present his credentials, Matthijs van Bonzel is not officially allowed to call himself ambassador. The situation is so unusual that the Dutch Labour party has asked Deputy Foreign Minister Ben Knapen for an explanation. The chair of the Romanian-Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Bucharest has also raised the issue with Dutch politicians.

Diplomats speculate that the cold shoulder from Bucharest is due to the Dutch refusal to allow Romania to join the Schengen Area, a treaty zone comprising the territories of 26 European countries that have abolished internal border controls. The Hague claims that Bucharest isn't ready to join the area but the Romanian government claims that they have fulfilled all the criteria laid down in the treaty. Bucharest says the Dutch minority cabinet has been hijacked by its parliamentary backer, the right-wing Freedom Party.

At the end of last year, the row led to a slowdown at the Romanian border and Dutch trucks transporting flowers spent hours waiting and being rigorously checked by border guards. Since then, President Basescu has regularly criticised the Dutch cabinet. The refusal to allow the new ambassador to present his credentials is further proof that the relationship between the Netherlands and Romania has been seriously damaged by the Schengen affair.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain's Cameron faces tough road ahead after recent missteps - The Washington Post

Only a few weeks ago, David Cameron was riding high. The British prime minister's fete at the White House and bonding with President Obama at a college basketball game only served to feed his popularity at home, where talk was brewing of strong reelection chances and perhaps even a spot in the history books as one of Britain's most politically deft leaders.

But a series of major missteps over the past two weeks has whipped up a sudden tempest for Cameron, with at least one key poll showing a dive in public support that has earned his Conservative-led coalition its lowest approval ratings since coming to power in the spring of 2010.

The coalition itself -- a novel union between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats -- does not appear to be in immediate danger. But observers warn that the public backlash to a slew of blunders -- including a cash-for-access scandal and a government-sparked fuel scare -- has grown so acute that Cameron and his party could be reaching an unpleasant tipping point.

The government, they say, must begin to claw out of its hole quickly or risk the kind of irreversible slide with the public that saw the last Conservative government here, led by Prime Minister John Major, fall to the opposition in 1997.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:54:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It wuld help if there was an opposition with any credibility

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 02:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AGI.it - Bossi Junior steps down, Rosy Mauro urged to follow suit
Umberto Bossi's son Renzo has also taken a step back. The Lega has now invoked the Italian saying "there are never two without three", and Roberto Calderoli has called on Rosy Mauro to make up the numbers by stepping down as Deputy Chairman of the Senate. It's been a tough Easter for the Lega, which is going through what Roberto Calderoli called a 'tsunami,' which began with a leaked interview with Alessandro Marmello, Renzo Bossi's driver and bodyguard. Marmello has apparently told Oggi magazine that he had withdrawn cash from "Lega funds" to pay Bossi Junior's personal expenses. Just over an hour later came Renzo's decision. "In this fraught period, I have decided of my own volition to take a step back and resign as regional councillor," he announced. "I am not under investigation" he was at pains to point out, "it was a difficult decision, made to safeguard the movement and to respond to all the questions that will come out over the next few days." The Lega leader was pleased with Renzo Bossi's decision. "He was right to stand down," said Bossi. But the former secretary also indirectly denied that this hand had been forced by the storm over the movement. "I had been fed up with working for the Region for two or three months," was all he said. The "Senatur" gave a laconic reply on the subject of Rosy Mauro's possible departure: "We'll see" was all he said.
by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:26:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: After the holiday break, Europe wakes up to a return of the crisis (10.04.2012)
Spanish spreads  are back up at over 4%, Italian spreads at 3.8%, as markets once again lose confidence in the eurozone's crisis management; latest developments were triggered by a disappointing Spanish bond auction on Friday, which came in just above the lower end of the target range, at sharply increased interest rates; Mariano Rajoy promises more austerity, with cuts in health and education; Charles Dallara says the eurozone needs to strengthen its firewall, rather than rely on austerity alone; Reuters Breakingviews says Spain is heading for a difficult period; Citigroup says Spanish banks could face a further €200bn in housing losses in an adverse scenario; an FT editorial demands a demand-led growth agenda for the eurozone; the head of the Egan-Jones rating agency says Germany should prepare itself for massive transfers; Portuguese bank borrowing from ECB hits new record; Greece has extended the deadline for the debt swap yet again; the poll rating of the main Greek parties reached a new low ahead of the official campaign start; the Greek parliament voted to increase the funding of the larger parties; Francois Hollande says he will order a finance audit if elected; Nicolas Sarkozy continues to catch up in the polls - with Hollande's second-round lead now down to 6%; Germany's Pirates have over taken the Greens in a national poll for the first time; Adam Posen says Germany's unemployment is likely to fall below the Nairu in 2014; Tito Boeri and Pietro Garibaldi says the Italian labour reforms disappoint; Wolfgang Munchau, meanwhile, says the challenge of the Wolfson prize underlines the economics profession's political and legal illiteracy.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:15:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: After the holiday break, Europe wakes up to a return of the crisis
Hollande announces finance audit if elected

Francois Hollande said on Thursday he would order an audit of public finances if elected in May, Reuters reports.  The move appeared designed both to steal some of Sarkozy's show and to prepare the ground for austerity measures that could be blamed on his predecessor's handling of France's debt and deficit. It also came after a cover story in the Economist weekly entitled "France in Denial" made waves in political circles by accusing both leading candidates of lacking serious ideas for tackling the country's economic and fiscal problems.  

Sarkozy catches up in second round poll, Le Pen popular among the young

An opinion poll published today by Le Figaro suggests that Sarkozy is keeping its lead in the first round with 28.5% and increases his chances in the second round, whith Francois Hollande receiving 53% (-1pp) of the votes against Nicolas Sarkozy with 47% (+1pp).  Marine le Pen, meanwhile, is becoming frontrunner among young voters, aged 18-24, with 26% support in the latest polls (up from 13% in Q4 2011) Le Monde reports.  

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:30:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: Europe's April, and how to thwart it (8 April, 2012)
Then came another sign of cruelty's triumphant advance: on the day that the finalists for the mischievous Wolfson Prize were announced (competing for a large wad of euros on how best to dismantle the... euro), Europe's media were replete with news of a young Dutch boy's entry. His idea? To force Greeks to convert their euros into drachmas and to expropriate from each a fixed sum with which to repay the monies owed by the Greek state to the bankers, the IMF, the ECB etc.

Of course, young boys are notorious for their unlimited cruelty The tragedy here is that the boy's father, instead of breathing some reason and humanity into his son's heart and mind, proudly translated his gibberish and submitted it to Wolfson. And, as if that were not enough, Europe's media bathed his misanthropic nonsense in praise and plaudits.

Such cruelty is the last stage of intellectual and institutional failure at a grand scale. In today's Europe it is a mere symptom of a stunning incapacity to grasp the nature of the Crisis and derivative of our botched attempts to deal with it. To stem its advances, nothing short of a gestalt shift will do; one that seeks the true causes of our shared predicament in place of the current blame game in which the Germans loathe the Greeks, the Greeks despise the Germans and, before long, every European nation turns on its own kind in a manner that ushers in a postmodern version of the 1930s.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence: After the holiday break, Europe wakes up to a return of the crisis (10 April, 2012)
Wolfgang Münchau on the madness of the Wolfson prize

In his FT column, Wolfgang Münchau has a go at the Wolfson prize, which asks this year how to coordinate a eurozone break-up in best possible manner. Munchau says the economic illiteracy of eurozone policymakers is matched only by the political and legal illiteracy of the economics community. A breakup of the eurozone may still be possible, he argues, but there are no friendly and cooperative ways to attain such a catastrophic outcome. Given the necessity to announce an exit relatively quickly, the options are seriously limited. If a country decided to break the treaty, and not leave the EU, a unilateral exit would drown the EU in innumerable law suits. The other options are a treaty renegotiation or an EU exit, but either option would take too long to negotiate and ratify for this to be practical, since a pre-announced changeover would produce capital flight that would be hard to stop - even with emergency legislation. By assuming all these problems away, the economics community has done itself no favours, and cemented their irrelevance in this debate.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:35:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Business Insider: RENT-A-COP: You Can Now Hire A Greek Policeman For Just 30 Euros An Hour
The report says that the service will only be offered in "exceptional cases", such as the transportation of dangerous materials. There's something of a pricing structure, with the top level of 1,500 euros ($1,961) p/h reserved for helicopters, AFP reports.


The ministry says that police services will not be used for anything outside their official remit (just in case you were thinking of forming your own private army) -- but does the fact that police services that were formerly offered for free are now only available to the (very) wealthy seem like it could possibly be a step in the wrong direction to anyone else?

Actually, the Greek ministry just put a price on a private army. If you can pay €30/h plus peanuts you can poach police officers off the Greek police.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:40:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The European social model has already gone and these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:56:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the service offering will of course be extended to other fields, such as strike and demonstration control and the like.

We've been here before, though of course, it's been a long time. Wage suppression needs police action if it is to work.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB: Exchange of Views on the Economic and Social Crisis in Greece Introductory statement by Jörg Asmussen, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, at the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament (Brussels, 27 March 2012)
Let me conclude with a message of hope. Yes, the medicine is bitter, but the patient can and will recover if he follows the prescription. Looking at successful past experiences of fiscal adjustment in other European countries shows that this is not a lost battle. However, an absolute prerequisite for the adjustment to succeed is strong political ownership. The Greek people are not reforming their economy and their state to please the troika; they are not carrying out sacrifices to please country X or Y in the euro area. They are going through this adjustment process for their own good. Maximum political ownership should therefore be expected and is key.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They've done that here for years: billed the banks for armed escorts.

It's just paying for (a little bit of) the external costs of their business, if it's done right. If.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:38:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Proto Thema [GR]: Greek Police for rent!
A for-rent sign, so to speak, has been hung on the Greek police, since in a desperate attempt to find money, the government has decided to rent out police forces officially through new legislation.


According to the Ministers' decision, any citizen has the right to hire a police officer. It is a decision made by Mr. Chrisochoidis' predecessor, Mr.Papoutsis, and according to information the current Minister is extremely displeased with the decision.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:43:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't this institutionalising the bribery of police officers? You don't get police service unless you pay for it. Now, officially.

And they're getting paid for discharging their normal duties: "police services will not be used for anything outside their official remit". If it's part of the official remit, why do you have to pay for it? In Spain it's a crime for an official to receive money for doing their job.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 07:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point: The new private state (May 3rd, 2011)
The most important consequence of running the state like a private firm is that the state should not be in the business of providing free or implicit guarantees of any kind, as these are large "contingent liabilities" threatening to bankrupt the state. The threat of bankruptcy is real, as the state must fund itself by borrowing from private lenders, unable as it is to create money to fund necessary expenses deriving from the exercisising of implicit guarantees. One alternative to bankruptcy is default, but this is considered unthinkable as defaulting on obligations to fellow EU member states is "uneuropean". In addition, countries with a large primary trade deficit may find it impossible even to default.

So, what kinds of implicit guarantees are Eurozone governments providing that they shouldn't be in the business of providing? I can think of half a dozen off the top of my head:

  • deposit insurance for banks
  • granting limited liability to businesses
  • disaster relief
  • access to health care
  • access to education
  • access to legal redress
  • public safery

All of these are implicit guarantees that every citizen in Europe expects to enjoy relatively free of charge. These are large contingent liabilities of the state. Any and all of them could not be undertaken by a private entity that didn't charge hefty fees up front and wasn't adequately capitalised in case a particularly large claim presented itself. Would you pay a savings deposit insurance premium to an inadequately capitalised insurance company? (not that "sophisticated investors" didn't do exactly that when they bought CDS "protection" over the past 10 years) Would you incur risks with a full-liability entity having less capital than your potential loss? Would you trust you can be rescued from a disaster by an entity without the capital and operating income to actually fund a rescue operation? How about health insurance from an entity without the resources to pay for the treatment? How about your right to file a complaint to an entity without the necessary money to operate a grievance handling system? How about contracting physical security or firefighting services from an entity without the operating income to actually deploy security or firefighters?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 07:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Murdoch has been buying off paying the Metropolitan police for years here

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The state of Massachusetts (formally, "Commonwealth of Massachusetts") requires road contractors to hire off-duty policemen to provide safety at every work site. It is ridiculous. Even a small job with a couple of workers and a truck requires a policeman to direct traffic. A cop can double his income by signing up for this work.

It's a huge scam, because in most cases the policeman just sleeps in his car, or if it's a nice day hangs out with the workers. The state has been trying to allow the use of civilian contractors, but of course that doesn't save any money--and gets the police union upset--and drivers are not as intimidated as they are with a real cop standing there...

by asdf on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 10:05:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is business as usual in the USA. There are rented cops all over my city. I could find one by going to the corner store about 100 meters away from where I'm typing this.

Of course, the USA is also home to Blackwater, Xe, and Mercenaries-R'-Us.

by Upstate NY on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 10:40:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Analysis - Troubled euro zone states most at risk from high oil | Reuters

Thomson Reuters' Datastream shows a very close negative correlation between oil prices in euros and the annual growth rate in periphery euro zone countries - those currently struggling with unwieldy public debt and scant, if any, growth - over the past 20 years.

In simple terms, growth rates tend to decline several months after oil prices rise.

For Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, the correlation coefficients range from -0.7 to -0.8 with a delay of four to eight quarters.

This is close to the absolute negative correlation value of minus 1, at which point statistically growth would always decline when oil prices rise.

For Italy and France, the link is weaker, marginally more than the euro zone as a whole, with a coefficient of -0.5. For Germany, there is barely any correlation at all.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 07:23:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
on European Tribune: What makes them PIIGS? by Luis de Sousa on April 10th, 2010
In orange, all lined up to the left, are found the PIIGS, the most Oil reliant states in the Union. Coincidence? Certainly not. The riddle is now understanding if they are PIIGS due to their Oil reliance or are Oil reliant because they are PIIGS.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 08:38:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ECB, by virtue of being the only definitionally solvent entity in the Eurozone, is the only sovereign entity in the eurozone. States can be merely autonomous as long as they run a primary surplus.

The ECB interprets any feedback about the effects of its policy decisions as political interference and a violation of its statutory independence.

There is no way to exit the Eurozone without exiting the EU (aside from the fact that Euro exit would be a massive financial destabilizing event).

This is a recipe for disaster.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 09:12:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:36:24 PM EST
Portugal's domestic banks tap ECB for record amounts of funding | Business | guardian.co.uk

The reliance of eurozone banks on the European Central Bank was demonstrated on Monday when Portugal revealed that its domestic banks were tapping the central bank for record amounts of funding.

The Bank of Portugal said the use by domestic banks for the various facilities available from the ECB rose to €56.3bn in March - up from €47.5bn in February and greater than the previous record level of €49.1bn in August 2010.

Bailed out by the EU and International Monetary Fund in April 2011 for €78bn, Portugal has €12bn earmarked for bolstering its banks' capital positions if necessary in the months ahead.

The plight of Portugal's banks was revealed following the cash injection by the ECB in February when the central bank lent €529bn to 800 banks across the eurozone through its long-term refinancing operation (LTRO).

Portuguese banks were among those frozen out from the wholesale funding markets - where banks borrow from each other or professional investors - during the height of the eurozone crisis and as a result are among a number in the eurozone that utilise ECB funding.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As quiet as a Eurocrat in Athens | Presseurop (English)

We had already been warned by Kostas Pappas, a spokesman for the permanent representation of Greece in Brussels, "Beware of clichés that poison the atmosphere",  so it was no surprise to hear the same view expressed at the the European Commission delegation in Athens, which is located just behind the parliament building. On the other side of the street, the Evzones, soldiers in the traditional partisans uniform of white tights and pom-pommed hobnailed boots, were changing the guard, watched by handful of tourists.

One of them, a Greek American, was incensed by the display of the blue and gold-starred flag of the EU. "They have no place in the country of Socrates," he says. "They are immoral servants of banks."

Panos Carvounis is no longer bothered by this type of accusation. The genteel 50-year-old head of the European Commission Representation in Greece is well used to criticism. "I live at home. I go to the cinema without any fuss, while Greek politicians who have had bad press are afraid to leave their homes. I am often questioned, but never vilified", he says.

In contrast, other members of the contingent of Eurocrats, who have been posted in Athens since the beginning of the crisis in the spring of 2010, have made silence their first line of defence.

Some 15 experts are deployed in the Greek capital as part of the Commission's tasks force to help the country take advantage of EU funds [Greece has only managed to tap less than a third of the funds made available to it as part of the EU's 2007-2013 budget]. A further 30 work for the EU delegation, and also serve as a secretariat for the troika, the tripartite agency (Commission, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank) with a brief to implement the agreement that was finally accepted by Greek leaders in mid-March.

This latter group are charged with supervising the second €130 billion European bailout that will finance Athens until the end of 2014: a sum that has been made available in addition to the first €110 billion lent by the 27-member EU in 2010, and the €107 billion of debt that the country's private creditors accepted to write off within the framework of a bond swap which will be completed by 18 April.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:12:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They don't need to be in Greece to manage most of the bailout funds, as they are primarily for banks in other countries

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what is the real purpose of them being there?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to vet and tamp down any burgeoning political movement that makes any move to a. renege on the vows of fealty to the troika, b. use demagoguery fuelled by public disaffection to create a political counterforce to austerity aka wage suppression.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU, US serious about starting trade deal negotiations | EurActiv

The European Union and the United States are giving serious thought to starting talks on a free trade agreement covering all business sectors, including agriculture, a traditional source of friction between the two sides, a top US trade official said.

"A comprehensive agreement is obviously an important option to consider. It's one that we're taking a very close look at," Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro told Reuters.

The United States and the 27 countries of the European Union already have the largest economic relationship in the world. Two-way trade was about €490 billion in 2011 and investment by US and European companies in each other's economies totals about €2 trillion.

But facing the prospect of years of slow growth as other countries like China, Brazil and India gallop ahead, US and EU leaders in November established a high-level working group led by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht to explore ways the transatlantic partners could tie their economies even closer to create jobs.

Kirk and De Gucht were tasked to produce an initial report by June and final recommendations by the end of the year.

A coalition of business groups on both sides of the Atlantic are eager to get started faster than that.

They have called on President Barack Obama and his European counterparts, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, "to commit to an accelerated launch of comprehensive transatlantic trade, investment and regulatory negotiations this year."

The business groups, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope, are pushing for that statement when Obama hosts the Group of 8 leading economies meeting on May 19-20 at his Camp David presidential retreat.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:13:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - China inflation growth dims hopes of interest rate cut

China's inflation rate grew more-than-forecast in March as higher fuel and food costs pushed up consumer prices.

Consumer prices grew by 3.6% in March from a year earlier, up from 3.2% in February. Analysts had forecast an increase of 3.3%.

Premier Wen Jiabao has cited inflation is one of China's main economic worries and has set a target of 4% for 2012.

Analysts said the data may prompt the central bank to hold back on monetary policy easing for now.

"I think the stronger-than-expected inflation could slow down the pace of monetary policy relaxing, although the basic direction of policy easing is intact," said Wang Jin of Guotai Securities in Shanghai.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Stocks Decline as Jobs Report Misses Estimates - Bloomberg

The U.S. jobless rate fell to 8.2 percent, the lowest since January 2009, from 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said. Faster employment growth that leads to bigger wage gains is needed to propel consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Americans worked fewer hours and earned less on average, helping explain why the Fed says interest rates may need to stay low at least through late 2014.

"What it calls into question and what the debate will be about is, once again, what is the pace of the recovery?" Mark Freeman, who oversees about $13 billion as chief investment officer at Westwood Holdings Group Inc. in Dallas, said last week. Fed Minutes

Minutes from the March 13 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee showed that the central bank will refrain from increasing monetary accommodation unless economic expansion falters or prices rise at a rate slower than its 2 percent target. Concern about Europe's debt crisis intensified as Spain sold 2.59 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of bonds at an auction, less than the maximum target of 3.5 billion euros.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Federal Reserve: Fostering Financial Stability (Ben S. Bernanke, April 9, 2012)
Tonight I will discuss some ways in which the Federal Reserve, since the crisis, has reoriented itself from being (in its financial regulatory capacity) primarily a supervisor of a specific set of financial institutions toward being an agency with a broader focus on systemic stability as well. I will highlight some of the ways we and other agencies are working to increase the resiliency of systemically important financial firms and identify and mitigate systemic risks, including those associated with the so-called shadow banking system. I will also discuss the broad outlines of our evolving approach to monitoring financial stability. Our efforts are a work in progress, and we are learning as we go. But I hope to convey a sense of the strong commitment of the Federal Reserve to fostering a more stable and resilient financial system.


Broader economic developments can also create risks to financial stability. To assess such risks, we regularly monitor a number of metrics, including, for example, the leverage of the nonfinancial sector. In addition, we use data from the flow of funds accounts to assess how much nonfinancial credit is ultimately being funded with short-term debt.4 This assessment is important because an overleveraged nonfinancial sector could serve to amplify shocks, to the detriment of the functioning of the financial sector and broader economy. Our judgment of how the financial sector is affecting economic activity reflects both information on lenders--most notably, underwriting standards, risk appetite, and balance sheet capacity--and analytical indicators of macroeconomic vulnerability to financial risks. Meanwhile, efforts are under way, both at the Federal Reserve and elsewhere, to evaluate and develop new macroprudential tools and to develop early warning indicators that could help identify and limit future buildups of systemic risk.

In the decades prior to the financial crisis, financial stability policy tended to be overshadowed by monetary policy, which had come to be viewed as the principal function of central banks. In the aftermath of the crisis, however, financial stability policy has taken on greater prominence and is now generally considered to stand on an equal footing with monetary policy as a critical responsibility of central banks. We have spent decades building and refining the infrastructure for conducting monetary policy. And although we have done much in a short time to improve our understanding of systemic risk and to incorporate a macroprudential perspective into supervision, our framework for conducting financial stability policy is not yet at the same level. Continuing to develop an effective set of macroprudential policy indicators and tools, while pursuing essential reforms to the financial system, is critical to preserving financial stability and supporting the U.S. economy.

Now he only needs to read Minsky...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While the Americans organize a Financial Markets Conference
I commend the organizers of this conference for the event's apt subtitle: "The Devil's in the Details."
the Europeans are basking in self-satisfaction
"Mission completed? Consequences of regulatory change on the financial industry" Frankfurt, Germany, 28 March 2012

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB: On the cusp: The world economy at a turning point. Strengthening stability at a time of challenge and change. Speech by José Manuel González-Páramo, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, OMFIF Conference: Frankfurt am Main, 15 March 2012
A central area where the absence of shock-absorbing institutions has been felt is via intra-euro area current account imbalances. These imbalances existed for many years prior to the crisis, but were largely ignored as theory told us that they could always be financed through cross-border financial flows. However, it is now clear that current account imbalances - while not being the only proximate causes of the crisis - are not benign and imply vulnerabilities which can be transmitted to the euro area as a whole.


Such negative effects may potentially be better mitigated in political federations given their stronger shock-absorbing institutions. For example, if a particular state in the U.S. were to experience a build-up in private sector liabilities that threatened its local banks, the responsibility for recapitalisation and deposit insurance would fall on the federal government - through institutions like the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This means that a U.S. state cannot be brought into financial difficulties by a mismatch between the size of its banking sector and that of its local economy, whereas a euro area country can - as we saw in Ireland.


It is clear that the way ahead for the euro area cannot involve trying to construct the institutions of a political federation overnight. This implies that the euro area needs a different approach to ensure the smooth functioning of monetary union that can compensate for some of these "missing institutions". This approach has two main pillars.

The first pillar is to strengthen fundamentally the governance procedures which prevent imbalances from arising. With fewer shock-absorbing institutions to mitigate crises when they arise, the euro area has learned that it must become more effective at preventing imbalances. This process has involved tightening the rules for fiscal policies and creating a much needed framework to monitor broader macroeconomic imbalances and competitiveness.


I am aware that some criticise this process as asymmetric. While it is clear that the vulnerabilities created by large current account deficits are greater than those of surpluses - and therefore require more urgent remedies - the structural drivers of current account imbalances in surplus countries are also partly being addressed, even if not to the same extent as those in deficit countries. In parallel to the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure, for example, the Commission intends to undertake further analysis on the drivers and possible policy implications of large sustained current account surpluses, including trade and financial linkages between surplus and deficit countries. It will also examine ways for further rebalancing current account imbalances, particularly at the level of the euro area, and within the global context. A key theme of the crisis response has also been a renewed focus on structural reforms as embedded in the Euro Plus Pact and Europe 2020 Strategy, which apply to all participating Member States equally.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:45:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:36:28 PM EST
BBC News - Turkey protests as Syrians open fire at border

Turkey has protested after Syrian forces opened fire across the border, in the first such attack since Turkey began housing refugees from the unrest.

Ankara summoned Syria's envoy after two incidents in which violence spilled over into Turkey, leaving at least two people dead and many injured.

Separately, a Lebanese cameraman was shot dead on the Syria-Lebanon border.

The violence comes amid fading hopes that a UN-brokered Syria ceasefire will start on Tuesday as planned.

Monday has proved to be one of the bloodiest days of the uprising despite the truce deal, which should be marked by troop withdrawals from towns and cities if it is being implemented.

Activists reported more than 100 deaths - among them at least 30 civilians who died during Syrian army bombardment in the central province of Hama.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:58:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria ceasefire plan in disarray as violence spills into Turkey | World news | The Guardian

International efforts to resolve the bloody crisis in Syria are mired in disarray and uncertainty in the face of violence spilling over into Turkey and the near certain failure to meet Tuesday's UN-imposed deadline for government troop withdrawals and a ceasefire.

Amid reports of new attacks and more than 100 dead, it was clear that the six-point plan of the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, for breaking the deadlock had stalled because of the insistent demand by the president, Bashar al-Assad, for written guarantees that "armed groups" would first lay down their weapons - and their swift refusal to do so.

Turkey's deputy foreign minister, Naci Koru, said bluntly that the 6am morning deadline was now "void". Ankara also voiced concerns after Syrian forces fired across the border into a refugee camp near the town of Kilis in south-western Gaziantep province.

It was the first such incident since Turkey began sheltering thousands of fleeing Syrians last summer and the latest to fuel international alarm about the escalating crisis.

Mohammad Abdelqader, a refugee in the camp, told Reuters he had witnessed the shootings on Monday and that two Syrians had been killed and two more had been injured. Turkey is understood to have immediately protested.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria Comment

The Assad government on Sunday April 8 set new conditions for the April 10 cease-fire. It won't withdraw troops from civilian areas unless all rebel groups provide written guarantees they will lay down their weapons, a further blow to efforts to arrange a cease-fire and implement a peace plan backed by the United Nations.

A reporter asked me these questions the other day:

(1) Do you really think Assad is in the "mopping-up stage" or do you think he is being overconfident?

Landis: I believe that Syria is in the midst of a broad based revolution and Assad will not be able to destroy it. The revolutionary forces have suffered a grave defeat in facing the full force of the Assad army, but I also suspect that they will regroup and devise new tactics. Much of the international community has dedicated itself to their success, the Gulf states have promised to finance and arm them. The US and Europe have place crushing sanctions on Syria and are promising non-lethal aid with the promise that they are considering new methods of aid. This makes any efforts by the Assad regime to put Syria back together again impossible. Syria is likely to become a North Korea of sorts - cut off from the world, with lots of hungry people and repression.

(2) What do you think Assad envisions as the "end game"? In other words, when will he stop military operations? Once all dissent is quelled, nearly every last protester shot?

Landis: Assad, I suspect, understands what is going on in Syria even if he paints the opposition as an externally driven conspiracy. I doubt he and his commanders are stupid; although, they are probably lying to themselves about the extent of Salafist influence and the army's ability to quell descent. I imagine he understands that he is facing a real revolt that will require the Syrian security forces to carry out counter-insurgency operations for a long time. Isn't the common wisdom of "coin" that it takes 10 years or so to defeat an insurgency? Someone in Syria must be reading the handbooks and wisdom published by the US during its efforts to quell insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 03:59:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ex-spy chief slams Muslim Brotherhood's 'monopoly' - EGYPTIAN ELECTIONS - FRANCE 24

Egypt's former spymaster Omar Suleiman lashed out at the Muslim Brotherhood and insisted his candidacy for the presidency would restore stability, as the two sides sparred Monday ahead of next month's polls.  

The Brotherhood, which dominates parliament and is heavily tipped for the presidency, has "lost a lot of its popularity," according to Suleiman, who was military intelligence chief under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

"There has been a change on the Egyptian street. The practises of the Brotherhood and their monopolistic ways and unacceptable pronouncements have contributed to the change in public opinion," he said in an interview.

Suleiman, a sworn enemy of Islamists before last year's revolution which brought down Mubarak, vowed not to drop out of the May 23-24 election despite alleged threats from Islamists.

"Ever since the announcement that I was running, I have received on my mobile and through friends threats and messages that 'We will take our revenge' from elements of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups," he said.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:00:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
allAfrica.com: Mali: Toure Steps Down Paving Way for Return to Democracy

Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure, formally stepped down on Sunday under the terms of a transition deal with the West African bloc Ecowas. The agreement stated the junta's leaders would allow a return to democracy once Touré formally quit.

Touré said he had not been put under pressure to resign. In his first public appearance since going into hiding following the coup, he said "more than anything I do it out of the love I have for my country."

From Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, President Blaise Compaoré, who played a key role in mediating the settlement, hailed the transition deal as a first step in restoring order to the troubled country.

Under the deal, speaker of parliament Dioncounda Traoré is to become interim president with the task of organising elections, if possible within 40 days.

But he also has to deal with the consequences of the uprising in the northern half of the country. Mali's northern half is now under the control of Islamist and Tuareg rebels.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:00:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Northern Malians appeal for humanitarian corridor - SPECIAL REPORT - MALI - FRANCE 24

Malians have heaved a sigh of relief following a weekend of rapid political developments that saw the lifting of sanctions imposed after the March 22 military coup and the resignation of the country's ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, paving the way for the implementation of last week's transitional exit plan.

But the reprieve has been marred by reports of the worsening security and humanitarian situation in northern Mali, a region as large as France, effectively isolated for over a week since Tuareg rebels, in an uneasy alliance with Islamist groups, seized control of the key northern cities of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

As international attention focused on the implementation of Friday's power handover agreement, northern Malians in the capital of Bamako gathered to appeal to the international community to find a solution to the crisis in northern Mali.

"Today, we have a humanitarian disaster because our country has been occupied by terrorists and Islamic extremists who have killed hundreds of our brethren in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu," said Maliki Alhusseini Maiga, president of COREN (Le Collectif des Resortissants du Nord Mali), an association of people from the north, at a press conference in Bamako on Sunday. "They have raped our sisters, they have burned government buildings, they have destroyed our cities and they are terrorizing the population. If it continues like this, we will face a very, very dangerous situation in this area."

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:01:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Malawi's Banda fires police chief - News - Mail & Guardian Online
Malawi's new President Joyce Banda has fired the nation's police chief and hired a new one, her office said Monday, two days after she took office following her predecessor's death.

Banda has "appointed commissioner Lot Dzonzi as the new inspector general of police with effect from April 8", replacing former top cop Peter Mukhito, said a statement from the office of the president and Cabinet.

The statement did not say why Mukhito, appointed by late president Bingu wa Mutharika two years ago, was axed.

Mukhito, who rose from being a guard commander of Mutharika's security, has been accused of mishandling anti-government riots last year in which 19 people were killed, as well as the mysterious death of a university political activist who published a news sheet highly critical of the government.

The Malawi police service has about 8 000 officers.

Prominent rights activists welcomed Banda's decision, also calling for the top cop to be arrested.
by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
North Korea nuclear weapons: Country 'preparing to carry out new underground test' | Mail Online

North Korea is digging a new underground tunnel as they apparently prepare to carry out a third nuclear test, according to South Korean intelligence officials.

Satellite images show that the final work is being carried out for a test at a site in Punggye-r, in the north-east of the country, where tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009.

The report was released as North Korea prepares to launch a long-range rocket that Washington and others say is a cover for testing missile technology that could be used to fire on the U.S.

They announced plans last month to launch an 'observation satellite' during mid-April celebrations as they mark 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:03:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
S Korea warns North over rocket launch plan - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

South Korea has threatened to deliver a "firm response" to "provocation" if the North goes ahead with its planned rocket launch.

North Korea's long-range rocket, scheduled to put what it says is a satellite into orbit next week, has been installed on its launch platform, according to the country's space officials.

Speaking on Monday, Kim Min-seok, South Korea's defence ministry spokesman, said: "We want to clarify that the launch is a provocation that threatens the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia.

"The South Korean military is fully prepared to protect the South Korean people and respond firmly against any acts of provocation that threaten the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula."

Scientific achievement

North Korea maintains that the launch is meant to demonstrate its scientific achievement.

Engineers, insisting the project was for scientific purposes, said the satellite will orbit the earth and send back data for weather forecasts and crop surveys.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran rules out conditions to talks: Salehi | Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would not agree to world powers imposing pre-conditions ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks later this week, Iranian media reported on Monday.

"Setting conditions before the meeting means drawing conclusions, which is completely meaningless and none of the parties will accept conditions set before the talks," the Iranian parliamentary news agency quoted him as saying.

U.S. officials say that getting Iran to suspend high-level uranium enrichment and close a nuclear facility built deep under a mountain near the holy city of Qom are priorities for the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, which are set to resume in Istanbul on Saturday.

"These issues have been raised by the media and we cannot base our judgment on those concerns reflected by media coverage," Salehi added.

He said the Iranian negotiating team would ignore those reports and defend its position in the talks.

"We have our opinions and the P5+1 have theirs but we have to find common areas."

The United States and its allies hope to be able to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program which they suspect is being used to covertly develop a nuclear weapons capability.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Willing Banks Find Profits in Legal Trade With Iran - WSJ.com
As Western sanctions on Iran have grown tighter, some small banks have found a lucrative niche financing what remains of the legal trade with the Islamic Republic.

Russia's First Czech-Russian Bank LLC and China's Bank of Kunlun Co. Ltd, they are typically small, obscure financial institutions often based in countries historically friendly to Iran.

The firms and other intermediaries still brokering these trades are charging more than 6% per transaction for legitimate trade deals with Iran, on top of traditional banking fees, according to traders and bankers knowledgeable with the process.

That is as much as triple the fees typically charged by Arab Gulf banks two years ago, before the United States and European Union significantly stiffened sanctions, according to Iranian businessmen.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:08:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:36:32 PM EST
BBC News - Total gas leak: Specialist equipment to plug Elgin well

Specialist equipment has arrived in Scotland to help stop the gas leak at the Elgin platform in the North Sea.

A team from operators Total flew out to inspect the leak last week.

The equipment, which will be used as part of the company's "dynamic kill" plan to plug the well with mud, was flown into Prestwick airport from Houston, Texas.

The Scottish government is also starting its assessment of the environmental impact of the leak.

Marine research vessel, Alba na Mara, spent the weekend collecting samples in the area around the rig, 150 miles east of Aberdeen.

Marine scientists expect to have the results from the tests on fish samples on Tuesday. Well intervention

The findings from analysis of the sea water are expected later in the week.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
North Sea spills on the rise - Environment - The Independent

Sixty-nine oil and chemical spills in the North Sea have been reported in three months. Eighteen companies were named in a table published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The most recent incident was a gas leak at Total's Elgin platform on 25 March.

Professor Andrew Watterson, the head of the occupational and environmental health research group at the University of Stirling, accused companies of playing down "the potentially catastrophic consequences" of gas and oil leaks. "These are very worrying figures that cannot be slicked over by government agencies and industry," he said. He blamed "corporate failures" for polluting the sea, and pointed out that the number of reported chemical leaks had more than doubled since 2005.

Oil & Gas UK, which represents offshore companies, said the leaks were "relatively small" and many of the chemicals "benign". BP and Shell were among the firms listed, with BP reporting the highest number of incidents at 23. Other companies included EnQuest, British Gas and Nexen.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health
A survey on the loss in the Northern Hemisphere of large predators, particularly wolves, concludes that current populations of moose, deer, and other large herbivores far exceed their historic levels and are contributing to disrupted ecosystems.

The research, published recently by scientists from Oregon State University, examined 42 studies done over the past 50 years.

It found that the loss of major predators in forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to greatly increase, crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change.

"These issues do not just affect the United States and a few national parks," said William Ripple, an OSU professor of forestry and lead author of the study. "The data from Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, Northern Europe and Asia are all showing similar results. There's consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health."

Densities of large mammalian herbivores were six times greater in areas without wolves, compared to those in which wolves were present, the researchers concluded. They also found that combinations of predators, such as wolves and bears, can create an important synergy for moderating the size of large herbivore populations.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Resistance spread 'compromising' fight against malaria

Scientists have found new evidence that resistance to the front-line treatments for malaria is increasing.

They have confirmed that resistant strains of the malaria parasite on the border between Thailand and Burma, 500 miles (800km) away from previous sites.

Researchers say that the rise of resistance means the effort to eliminate malaria is "seriously compromised".

The details have been published in The Lancet medical journal.

For many years now the most effective drugs against malaria have been derived from the Chinese plant, Artemisia annua. It is also known as sweet wormwood.

In 2009 researchers found that the most deadly species of malaria parasites, spread by mosquitoes, were becoming more resistant to these drugs in parts of western Cambodia.

This new data confirms that these Plasmodium falciparum parasites that are infecting patients more than 500 miles away on the border between Thailand and Burma are growing steadily more resistant.

The researchers from the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit measured the time it took the artemisinin drugs to clear parasites from the bloodstreams of more than 3,000 patients. Over the nine years between 2001 and 2010, they found that drugs became less effective and the number of patients showing resistance rose to 20%.

Prof Francois Nosten, who is part of the research team that has carried out the latest work, says the development is very serious.

"It would certainly compromise the idea of eliminating malaria that's for sure and will probably translate into a resurgence of malaria in many places," he said.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:28:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
just in time for climate change to spread the range of the anopheles mosquito into europe

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:54:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
High in Chilean Desert, a Huge Astronomy Project - NYTimes.com
Trucks stall on the road to this plateau 16,597 feet up in the Atacama Desert, where scientists are installing one of the world's largest ground-based astronomical projects. Heads ache. Noses bleed. Dizziness overcomes the researchers toiling in the shadow of the Licancabur volcano.

"Then there's what we call `jelly legs,' " said Diego García-Appadoo, a Spanish astronomer studying galaxy formation. "You feel shattered, as if you ran a marathon."

Still, the same conditions that make the Atacama, Earth's driest desert, so inhospitable make it beguiling for astronomy. In northern Chile, it is far from big cities, with little light pollution. Its arid climate prevents radio signals from being absorbed by water droplets. The altitude, as high as the Himalaya base camps for climbers preparing to scale Mount Everest, places astronomers closer to the heavens.

Opened last October, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, known as ALMA, will have spread 66 radio antennas near the spine of the Andes by the time it is completed next year. Drawing more than $1 billion in funding mainly from the United States, European countries and Japan, ALMA will help the oxygen-deprived scientists flocking to this region to study the origins of the universe.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some chocolate leaves a bitter aftertaste | Business | DW.DE | 08.04.2012

Germans love chocolate. But the labor and living conditions of cocoa planters are bad, and child labor is common. The German initiative "Forum Sustainable Cocoa" wants to change that.

Statistics say every German eats eleven kilos of chocolate per year, making Germany one of the most important markets for cocoa. Five to six million farmers in Latin America, South East Asia, and especially Africa produce 90 percent of world production of cocoa.

As much as 70 percent of the cocoa traded across the world is produced in western Africa, with Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo being the major exporters.

But according to a 2009 survey conducted commissioned by the US Tulane University, in Ivory Coast and Ghana alone, more than 250,000 children work on cocoa plantations under conditions that violate both domestic laws and international rules set by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Guaranteeting supply of high-quality cocoa

According to German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner, Germany bears a special responsibility because it is the world's second biggest cocoa processor. About ten percent of the world's cocoa crop goes to Germany, the lion's share imported from West Africa, in particular Ivory Coast.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy's high-speed train line under the Alps gathers pace | World news | The Guardian

It is a project of extravagant dimensions and it has been blocked for almost 20 years by a protest of epic tenacity and occasional violence.

But this week, Italian plans for a 35-mile rail link under the Alps, four miles longer than the Channel tunnel and linking Turin to Lyons, will move into a new and possibly decisive phase.

Officials are due to expropriate a stretch of sloping grassland near the Alpine village of Chiomonte, outside Turin, where work will begin on Italy's side of the border. The first planned excavation is of an access tunnel to allow geologists to test conditions.

When the site was fenced off last summer, almost 400 people were injured in the resulting clashes between demonstrators and police. Twenty-six people accused of taking part in the violence have since been jailed.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:32:42 PM EST
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The article doesn't really expain what the problem is much beyond it's an awful lot of money to spend arriving 3/4 of an hour earlier between Turn and Lyon. Anyone know ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:58:33 AM EST
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by asdf on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 10:10:30 AM EST
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It's always been a bit of a mystery to me, indistinguishable from nimbyism, and has caused strained relations between the Greens on either side of the Alps.

For the record, the Rhone-Alpes Greens (French side) have always given qualified sceptical support to the line : As a prestige passenger service (which is how it's traditionally been sold) it's a bust, passenger numbers could never justify the fabulous cost; as an integrated multi-modal freight line, it could be a boon, but that is not how it's currently being developed.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 10:38:59 AM EST
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Doesn't the anti's argument revolve around the fact that the existing line isn't heavily used and so the freight argument doesn't fly.

That said, it seems they've been protesting against this for so long that the reasons have mutated and changed along the way to suit the times. So you end up with a 2 decade long smorgasbord trail of reasons to oppose it, which results in the confusing mess we face now.

That said, there's something of Stuttgart 21 about the reason to build. I mean, they actually say it's part of a plan to link N Italy with eastern europe, which cuases much head scratching here

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:25:28 AM EST
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well Switzerland has succeeded in putting a bigly proportion of transalpine freight on trains. It cost a huge amount, but the business case is sound, and the environmental impact profound. Until you have attempted this, talking about the small volume of freight on the existing rail link is meaningless. And it's precisely because of the lack of such a plan that the French Greens' support for the tunnel is nuanced and conditional. There is a huge amount of freight going through the Mont Blanc and Modena road tunnels, and around the Mediterannean coast, that could be poked through the rail tunnel.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:44:26 AM EST
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There's huge opposition to high speed rail among the Italian rabble-rousing left. Check Beppe Grillo of whom melo has posted a good number of excerpts.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:24:29 AM EST
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There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:26:43 AM EST
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Do they have a good reason or is it like the Irish 'left' opposing property taxes on "principle"? Electoral opportunism.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:27:13 AM EST
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It's not electorally motivated. It's longstanding. I remember going to a Beppe Grillo stand-up show in Florence in 1993 or thereabouts and he was already going on about the ecological an economic reasons why it's madness. You can basically assume that the "Italian Green Left" will oppose it as a big money boondoggle.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:30:54 AM EST
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"We're against it because The Man is for it"

I could understand this insofar as any big public-works project in Italy (not only in the south) is under suspicion of being an excuse for corruption and mafia business operations. But that's not what they are talking about.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:37:33 AM EST
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"We're against it because The Man is for it"

Pretty much. It's "a version of NIMBYism".

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:40:36 AM EST
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Oppositionism has a long and dishonourable history

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 11:45:55 AM EST
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by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:36:38 PM EST
Memorial cruise retraces Titanic voyage - TITANIC ANNIVERSARY - FRANCE 24

Descendants of some of the 1,500 people killed when the Titanic sank a century ago were among the passengers on a cruise ship that set off from Britain on Sunday to retrace the route of the liner's ill-fated voyage.

Some donned period costume, including furs and feathered hats for women and suits and bowler hats for men, to board the MS Balmoral at Southampton on the southern English coast.

Passengers lined the decks and waved as the ship set sail almost 100 years after the Titanic set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

The Titanic was considered unsinkable but foundered in frigid Atlantic waters off Newfoundland on April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg.

Around 700 people were rescued but there were too few lifeboats to save the rest.

The world's most famous maritime disaster has fascinated people ever since, explaining why passengers from 28 countries were prepared to pay up to 8,000 pounds ($13,000) each to be a passenger on the memorial cruise organised by a British travel firm.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:36:02 PM EST
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...a...umm...MEMORIAL cruise?  Hope they aren't planning a reenactment.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:48:26 AM EST
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All aboard the Costa Titanic. This time Captain Smith will be the first to leave

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:55:43 AM EST
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There's an interesting similarity between Twitter and Morse Code. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, and with Morse Code, you can send around 100 characters per minute (at 20 WPM, which is a moderately fast rate). I suppose it shows that quick, short messages with lots of abbreviations can provide satisfactory communication in a lot of cases.

The radio traffic related to the Titanic disaster was recorded, and the BBC has taken those records and converted them into verbal form. It's entertaining, if a bit disconcerting...


by asdf on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 10:16:36 AM EST
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New wave of well-off Pakistani women drawn to conservative Islam | World news | The Guardian

All the women working in the information technology division of the Bank of Punjab's headquarters in the western Pakistani city of Lahore wear headscarves tightly wound around their cheeks and chin, framing their faces as they tap at their keyboards. A year or so ago not one covered their heads with the hijab.

"I was the first," says 28-year-old Shumaila, as she waited with some impatience in the city's iStore for her new £800 Apple MacBook to be loaded with the software she had ordered.

"I started reading the Qur'an properly and praying five times a day. No one made me wear the hijab. That would be impossible," she laughs brightly. "I showed the way to the other girls at work."

They are not alone. Though there are no statistics and most evidence is anecdotal, a new wave of interest in more conservative strands of Islam among wealthier and better educated women in Pakistan appears clear.

It is part of a broader cultural and religious shift seen in the country over decades but which observers say has accelerated in the past 10 years.

"The other girls who were working with us left." Shumaila said. "They found the new environment a bit unfriendly."

One indication of the trend is the growing proportion of women within the conservative religious political organisation Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Syed Munawar Hassan, the leader of JI in Pakistan, said that women made up an increasing proportion of the organisation's 6 million members and 30,000 organisers. "Our women's wing is doing very well," he said. "They are some of our best organisers."

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:37:35 PM EST
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Must be quite a traffic jam when their male guardians show up every day to drive them home.
by asdf on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 10:46:39 AM EST
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Swedes lead European race to the city - The Local
Since 2005, Sweden has had the quickest rate of urban growth in Europe by quite some distance.

Malmö, Stockholm and Umeå are all among the continent's fastest growing cities, with all three evolving at a rate of more than one percent every year since 1994.

With the population gravitating more and more to urban centres, some 139 of Sweden's 290 municipalities witnessed a population decrease last year, with the vast Norrland region especially hard hit by changing population patterns.

But Sweden still has a long way to go if it is ever to become as urbanized as Belgium, the Netherlands or Great Britain where more than two thirds of the inhabitants live in densely populated areas, Sydsvenskan reports.

Although Sweden is now home to twelve cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, it also has the highest number of residents living in so-called intermediate regions, which are neither predominantly urban nor predominantly rural.
by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:37:39 PM EST
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DutchNews.nl - Cannabis cafe pass system: official proof of residency needed

eople in the south of the Netherlands who wish to continue buying soft drugs in their local cannabis café have to request official council papers to prove they officially live in the Netherlands, the Telegraaf reported on Sunday.

Local councils are gearing themselves to cope with thousands of requests for proof of residency ahead of the May 1 deadline for the introduction of special passes in Maastricht, Eindhoven and the rest of the south.

In Eindhoven, for example, the city's 15 cannabis cafes or coffee shops expect to cater to 40,000 clients. Breda expects some 8,000 requests for print outs from the city council official residents' register.

The government is forcing towns and cities in the south to become closed-members clubs in an effort to reduce drugs tourism. Coffee shops will be limited to some 2,000 members, who must officially live in the Netherlands.

The rest of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, will follow next year.

Disaster in the making.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 04:38:04 PM EST
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What is the problem here ? I thought that drugs toursm was becoming a problem in the Netherlands.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:06:09 AM EST
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being that soon no one except a severely limited amount of Dutch nationals will be allowed to buy softdrugs, that the demand will be far larger than the supply through the coffeeshops and there will be a predictable increase of illegal drugdealing on the streets - which is already manifesting in Maastricht, which had the pilot of the minister's plans.

This solution to a rather modest problem of drug tourism - which was better solved by relocating coffeeshops out of the city centers - will end up with a situation worse than before.

by Nomad on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:30:07 AM EST
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Get the prostitutes back on the streets where they belong?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 09:32:02 AM EST
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This is going to be fascinating to watch.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 08:46:03 AM EST
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by Nomad on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 02:36:42 PM EST
It is just a bit slow getting started and it is an advertisment, but....

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:11:57 AM EST
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