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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 28 May

by afew Sun May 27th, 2012 at 04:03:18 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europe on this date in history:

585 BC - A solar eclipse occurs, as predicted by Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, during the "Battle of the Eclipse". This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 09:55:10 AM EST
Greek pro-bailout conservatives regain lead - polls | Reuters

(Reuters) - Greece's conservatives have regained an opinion poll lead that would allow the formation of a pro-bailout government committed to keeping the country in the euro zone, a batch of new surveys showed on Saturday.

Greece was forced to call repeat elections for June 17 after a May 6 vote left parliament divided evenly between groups of parties that support and oppose the austerity conditions attached to a 130 billion euro bailout agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in March.

Polls up to Saturday had showed pro- and anti-bailout parties running neck-and-neck ahead of the vote which could determine the country's future in the single currency.

Five polls published in the weekend press showed the conservative New Democracy party, which supports the bailout, with a lead of between 0.5 and 5.7 points over the anti-bailout leftist SYRIZA party - though analysts said the race was still too close to call.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 11:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lloyd's of London preparing for euro collapse - Telegraph

Richard Ward said the London market had put in place a contingency plan to switch euro underwriting to multi-currency settlement if Greece abandoned the euro.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he also revealed that Lloyd's could have to take writedowns on its £58.9bn investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.

Europe accounts for 18pc of Lloyd's £23.5bn of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.

Lloyd's move comes as a major Franco-German provider of credit insurance for eurozone trade, Euler Hermes, said it was considering reducing cover for trade with Greece because of the risk the country might leave the eurozone.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 11:59:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek Socialist leader slams IMF chief's tax comments - ECONOMY - FRANCE 24

AFP - Greece's Socialist party leader accused IMF chief Christine Lagarde of trying to "humiliate" the crisis-hit country by saying Greeks dodge taxes as he campaigned Sunday for crucial June elections.

"Nobody can humiliate the Greek people during the crisis, and I say this today addressing specifically Ms. Lagarde... who with her stance insulted the Greek people," Evangelos Venizelos told an election rally.

Lagarde told Britain's Guardian newspaper in an interview published Friday that Greeks must "help themselves collectively" by all paying their taxes, saying she was more concerned about sub-Saharan Africans in poverty than Greeks hit by the economic crisis.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France criticises IMF chief's view on Greeks - FRANCE 24

AFP - The French government spoke out on Sunday against comments by International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde suggesting that Greeks were dodging taxes.

"I find (Lagarde's comments) rather simplistic and stereotypical," government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told French television after the IMF managing director's comments last week outraged Greece.

Lagarde told Britain's Guardian newspaper in an interview published Friday that Greeks must "help themselves" by all paying their taxes, saying she was more concerned about Africans in poverty than Greeks hit by the economic crisis.

Her comments were also criticised by French radical-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon who said Lagarde should resign.

"What gives her the right to speak in this manner to the Greeks?" he said in an interview with France 3 television, describing her comments as "undignified".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:03:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All that talk about bank runs and return to military dictatorship has the Greek population selling out their childrens' futures and scurrying to their masters' knees. How pathetic; how human.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 09:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Richard Branson: coalition has failed to invest in businesses | Politics | The Observer

Richard Branson, whose support for Tory economic plans was enthusiastically trumpeted by George Osborne in the runup to the last general election, has dramatically turned on the coalition for failing to promote growth.

Britain's most famous business tycoon said ministers' rhetoric on reinvigorating the economy had not been matched by action. He demanded that the government show more support for small and medium businesses which were "the engines of any healthy economy".

In an outspoken intervention, the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group called for a renewed focus from ministers on bringing unemployment down and promoting the country's entrepreneurial spirit.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Georgia opposition holds rally in Tbilisi - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Tens of thousands of Georgians have rallied in the capital as the ex-Soviet state's richest man launched his bid to oust President Mikheil Saakashvili's governing party at elections later this year.

Supporters of billionaire tycoon-cum-opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream opposition alliance packed into Tbilisi's Freedom Square on Sunday for the lavishly-staged rally intended as a show of strength ahead of October's polls.

It was the biggest rally since 2009 by an opposition revitalised by the super-rich businessman's intervention, although opinion polls suggest his alliance trails behind the governing party.

Georgia's most famous footballer Kakha Kaladze, who recently retired from playing in Italy's Serie A, told the crowd that Saakashvili must quit.

"Misha [Saakashvili], your time is up. Go!" Kaladze said.

Before the rally, columns of Ivanishvili supporters marched through the city.

"We need real democracy, real freedom, not Saakashvili's fairy tales," said one participant, unemployed Juliet Tsulaia

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:09:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Khodorkovsky Lawyers Deny Report That Tycoon Asked for Olympic Visa Ban | News | The Moscow Times

Lawyers for imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky denied a report circulating Sunday in the British media that their client sent a letter to the British prime minister urging a visa ban on 308 Russian officials at the London Summer Olympics.

In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, lawyer Yury Schmidt said: "I am absolutely convinced that Khodorkovsky could not compile such a list. It's some kind of intentional error or an overt provocation," Interfax reported.

The Sunday Telegraph said that Khodorkovsky had passed the newspaper a letter via his lawyers that said President Vladimir Putin had the power to push Russia toward democracy but had no impetus without pressure.

"It is the role of other world leaders to spell out the price Russia tragically pays for being semi-detached from the family of modern democratic nations," the paper quoted him as saying.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:26:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeremy Hunt will quit, says David Mellor - Telegraph

David Mellor, who ran Mr Hunt's department under the last Tory government in the 1990s, said Mr Hunt had only survived to protect Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Mellor said that he thought there would be a "number of scalps" from the fallout of the Leveson inquiry into press standards.

He told Sky News' Murnaghan: "Jeremy Hunt will probably have to go. But I think the real scalp is the Prime Minister - he won't have to resign but his credibility is blown away.

"He has been exposed as a shallow, callow sort of guy who doesn't have too many aims and ambitions and cant even get basic judgement calls right."

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 03:38:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Mr Monti speaks of the war on tax evasion, but put the title of his newly acquired villa on Lake Maggiore into Goldman Sachs' name, which because it is a banking society will pay no tax on the 6 million euro property.

plus ca change...

'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 Mon May 28th, 2012 at 08:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presseurop: Berlin to save Europe like it saved GDR 28 May 2012 (Der Spiegel)
Merkel wants to launch Europe-wide programs to promote start-ups and small and mid-sized business, like the programs offered by the KfW development bank in Germany.... Merkel also wants EU countries with high unemployment to use Germany as a model in reforming their labour markets.... This would mean relaxing protections against wrongful dismissal and introducing more limited employment circumstances, called "mini-jobs" in Germany, with lower tax and contribution burdens [...] These countries would also be expected to develop a dual education system.... [In the countries of the South, where many companies enjoy state protection], privatisation funds like those that existed in East Germany will be created. [...] The advisors also recommend the establishment of so-called special economic zones, like the ones that once ushered in China's economic ascent. Finally, the Germans want Europe's southern countries to invest more in renewable energy, reduce tax barriers and promote worker mobility.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 10:04:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian editorial: Eurozone crisis: Ms Lagarde's morality tale (27 May 2007)
Not only should Christine Lagarde know better, she does know better. When the head of the IMF agreed in this paper on Saturday that the crisis across southern Europe was "payback time", she contravened both common sense and her own arguments. Imprudent borrowers require foolhardy lenders, and in Greece and elsewhere that role has often been played by northern European banks. In summer 2010, just as the eurozone crisis kicked off, the country whose banks were most exposed to Greece was France. Similarly, French banks were only just behind German institutions in their loans to Spain. By easing these huge flows of hundreds of billions across borders, the single currency played a material role in causing the continent's crisis.

Ms Lagarde knows all this. Indeed, as France's finance minister at the tail end of the boom, she must be held partly responsible. On moving to the Fund last year, one of her early interventions was to state that European banks were in dire need of more capital. At the time, she came in for barracking from the finance industry - but she was absolutely right. It was notable that when the IMF reiterated the call last month, bankers did not argue.

Which is what makes this weekend's outburst so surprising - and important. The morality tale Ms Lagarde sets out is not a new one: feckless southern Europeans ran riot for the euro's first decade and now have to be bailed out from their mess. Indeed, it has justified austerity programmes in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and allowed the rest of Europe to avoid sorting out their vulnerable banks. But it is neither accurate nor useful. Until the financial crisis, Spain's government had a tighter grip on public finances than France: it was Spain's private sector that went berserk. And when it comes to total debt as a proportion of annual GDP, France is not far behind either Spain or Italy. That possible black-sheep status will be confirmed if the eurozone crisis intensifies any further.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 10:06:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters Brekingviews: Hugo Dixon: Greece needs to go to the brink (28 May 2012)
It is conceivable that Tsipras will blink first, if he wins the election and finds he can't shift the Germans. But this is unlikely. The typical weasel words of a politician won't be enough to get him out of a tight spot; he would have to perform a complete somersault. It is doubtful the Marxists in his party would let him get away with this and, if they did, he would certainly lose all credibility in the country.

That said, a victory for Tsipras may paradoxically be Greece's best chance of staying in the euro because it would bring things to a head rapidly. The country is being kept alive by a dual life-support system: the euro zone and IMF are channelling cash to the government, while the European Central Bank is authorising cash transfers to the banks. If the first tap is turned off, the government will not be able to pay salaries and pensions from July. If the second tap is turned off, the banks could run out of cash within days.

Cutting off Greece's life support could be the trigger for reintroducing the drachma as the people found the cash machines ran dry. But it could also finally force the people to decide whether they were prepared to back reform - provided the euro zone simultaneously rolled out a proper plan to help the country. A key element of that would have to be to take over the Greek banks and guarantee their deposits, putting the country into a form of financial protectorate.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 10:55:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 11:07:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
London Review of Books: Save us from the saviours: Slavoj Žižek on Europe and the Greeks (28 May 2012)
Here is the paradox that sustains the `free vote' in democratic societies: one is free to choose on condition that one makes the right choice. This is why, when the wrong choice is made (as it was when Ireland rejected the EU constitution), the choice is treated as a mistake, and the establishment immediately demands that the `democratic' process be repeated in order that the mistake may be corrected. When George Papandreou, then Greek prime minister, proposed a referendum on the eurozone bailout deal at the end of last year, the referendum itself was rejected as a false choice.

There are two main stories about the Greek crisis in the media: the German-European story (the Greeks are irresponsible, lazy, free-spending, tax-dodging etc, and have to be brought under control and taught financial discipline) and the Greek story (our national sovereignty is threatened by the neoliberal technocracy imposed by Brussels). When it became impossible to ignore the plight of the Greek people, a third story emerged: the Greeks are now presented as humanitarian victims in need of help, as if a war or natural catastrophe had hit the country. While all three stories are false, the third is arguably the most disgusting. The Greeks are not passive victims: they are at war with the European economic establishment, and what they need is solidarity in their struggle, because it is our struggle too.

Greece is not an exception. It is one of the main testing grounds for a new socio-economic model of potentially unlimited application: a depoliticised technocracy in which bankers and other experts are allowed to demolish democracy. By saving Greece from its so-called saviours, we also save Europe itself.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 11:11:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar power generation world record set in Germany | Guardian
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity - through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said.

Germany's government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation's midday electricity needs.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 03:54:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
La Repubblica interviews one of the informers.
How are they taken out?

"By hand. The Vatican intelligence service has integrated security systems in the basement of the Apostolic Palace, directed by a 35-year-old ex-hacker, that are more advanced than anything the CIA has, sophisticated systems, but they're no use. Because the Cardinals are used to writing their messages by hand and dictating them. They are then delivered by hand. And the leaked documents are their way of fighting this war. The primary objective was to attack the Pope, to weaken him and convince him to give up control of the political and economic affairs of the Church. Something had to be done."

And how do they know what the CIA has?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 04:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 09:55:32 AM EST
U.S. defense cuts hit home at Ohio tank plant | Reuters

Planned deep reductions in defense spending could jeopardize the fragile economic recovery in Ohio, where the aerospace and defense sector generates $9.6 billion in annual revenues and employs more than 28,000 workers.

Lima is one of hundreds of U.S. communities whose workforce depends on the billions of dollars flowing every year from the Pentagon to defense contractors to make tanks, fighter jets, warships and related equipment. But the money flow is slowing.

With U.S. deficits soaring, the Iraq war over and the one in Afghanistan winding down, the Pentagon has agreed to cut spending by $487 billion over the next decade. There would be $500 billion more in defense cuts in the next decade if Congress fails to make tough deficit reduction decisions by year's end and allows automatic spending cuts to go into effect in January.

At the Lima plant, hundreds of jobs already have been cut, 200 more are slated for elimination within six months and more may come next year. Thousands of jobs at hundreds of smaller firms providing tank components are in peril, too.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 11:48:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lessons from the Rock for Europe's banks | Reuters

A run on Britain's Northern Rock in September 2007 was one of the most sudden and shocking events of the financial crisis.

It was the first run on a British bank for more than 100 years and critics said it made the country look like a banana republic. Yet it is providing lessons on how to limit the damage in future.

"The key thing to learn is that runs can happen out of nowhere and once they start they are incredibly difficult to stop. And to stop them you have to do far more than you expect, and to do it far more quickly than you expect," said Alistair Darling, Britain's finance minister at the time.

"With what's going on at the moment, it's clear that many Greeks have taken their money out. If you're not careful, a trickle can become a flow and it can then become an absolute torrent," Darling told Reuters in an interview.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 11:52:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grim News for Caribbean Economies - IPS ipsnews.net
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, May 25, 2012 (IPS) - For yet another occasion, it was not the good news Caribbean leaders wanted to hear.

Already stung by mixed economic growth ranging from a downturn in countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to marginal growth in Barbados, St. Lucia and the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean was told that its premier financial development bank has had its credit rating downgraded by the U.S.-based Moody's Investment Services.

The president of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith, trying to put on a brave face in light of the downgrade from AAA to AA1, said it was not unexpected.

He told the annual CDB board of governors meeting that ended here on Thursday that the new ratings were being accepted "in today's heightened environment of uncertainty" and that "our risk management practices need to be strengthened".

"To that end we are undertaking an in depth examination of our risk management framework and we will implement appropriate recommendations as we build resilience to the more dangerous world which we now occupy," Smith said.

But Grenada's Finance Minister Nazim Burke, who described the new rating as "unfortunate and untimely", said it also brought new problems for the Caribbean at a time when many borrowing member countries (BMCs) were "fighting to nurture a very fragile economic recovery".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:19:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Facebook Investor Spending Month's Salary Exposes Hype - Bloomberg
"It's disheartening to know that things get over-hyped," Cefalu, a 34-year-old data-systems manager who spent about $4,000 on the stock, said in an interview. "That's about a 12th of my annual income -- so a month's salary. I'm trying to do an on-my-own retirement kind of thing."

Facebook, a site used by 901 million people, allocated more than 25 percent of shares to retail investors, said two people familiar with the offering who asked not to be identified because the process was confidential. That means the value of stock bought by that group for $38 in the IPO has dropped by at least $630 million in total, based on the closing price of $32 yesterday and assuming investors held the stock.

While asset managers and hedge funds got to buy the stock in private trading years before the IPO and investment banks made money in the offering, smaller investors had to wait until last week's IPO for a piece of the action. The outcome: After Facebook and its underwriters misjudged demand in pricing the IPO and glitches on the Nasdaq hampered trading on the first day, the world's largest social-network website lost 18 percent in three days. The shares are still about 13 percent under their $38 IPO price after paring some losses.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Spain may recapitalise Bankia with govt debt-source (May 27, 2012)
Bankia could use the sovereign paper as collateral to get cash from the European Central Bank, forcing the ECB to get involved with restructuring Spain's banking sector, laid low by lending to property developers in a boom that ended in 2008.


The Bankia rescue will affect Spain's public debt to gross domestic product ratio and the deficit at a time when the country has implemented growth-stifling austerity measures aimed at bringing state debt down to Europe-agreed levels.


"The biggest problem here is that the ECB could object. That's a legal issue, but technically it is posible," said Jose Carlos Diez, economist at Intermoney Valores.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 03:49:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Battle over Euro-bonds is turning into a nasty brawl between the North and the South of Europe | Ernst's Blog

As the Euro-bonds profit from the financial firepower of the whole Euro-zone, their diminished risk-profile enables much lower interest rates. If the borrowed money would not only be used to pay interest on sovereign bonds and bank loans for the individual country that needs the bond loan, but instead to stimulate the economy of this country, it would give such a country a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Of course Hollande is right with his remark (see the bold text in the FT article) that it is odd that one country needs to borrow money for 6% and the other country for 0% within the Euro-zone. Not even to mention the amount of interest that Greece needs to pay on a bond loan. Acting together as a team would make the whole Euro-zone stronger, while acting as a bunch of frogs in a wheel-barrow weakens the Euro-zone: also The Netherlands and Germany eventually.

What Rutte and Merkel fear is that the peripheral countries would say `thank you' for the money that the Euro-bonds would supply and would lean backwards, minding their own business. This is naive.

Countries with unemployment rates of 12-25% and youth unemployment rates of 25-50% have no reason to lean backwards. The people in these countries would simply not accept this from their governments anymore. The argument that this money would not instigate growth is absolutely not true per sé; when this money is invested wisely, it could definitely spur growth in these countries.

The big difference between the infrastructure bonds that Germany is in favor of and the Euro-bonds is that the infra-bonds are too narrow in purpose; a good infrastructure does not instigate jobs per sé and besides that, an infrastructure can also be a money pit that sucks up billions without offering added value.

Who needs another airport, when planes have no need to land somewhere. Who needs roads or waterways when there is no work and no development possibilities in a certain area.

The Euro-bonds offer possibilities to governments to spend the money on where it is needed most. Here is where the EU could have a role: looking to it that the Euro-bond money is not squandered to fill one financial pothole by creating another one. When the Euro-bond is used wisely, in order to stimulate innovation and business activity and thus enable economic growth at areas-in-need, it could be a very good instrument in my opinion.

will the ECB grow up and start wearing long trousers, instead of lederhosen?

will greece's little tail wag the mighty dog of wall st.?

will greek default bring down the dam, crashing the euro and flooding the global value valley with 4 quadrillion of toxic derivatives?

will draghi and lagarde get a room? hell, a suite, so bernanke and geithner can come crash there too?

throw in barroso and merkel too while you're at it...

'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 Mon May 28th, 2012 at 05:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 09:55:48 AM EST
Eight Afghan civilians said killed in NATO airstrike | Reuters

(Reuters) - Eight members of an Afghan family, including six children and two women, were killed in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, local authorities said on Sunday, although the NATO-led coalition said there was no evidence of any civilian casualties.

The strike took place in the Gerda Serai district of Paktia late on Saturday, the provincial governor's spokesman, Rohullah Samon, said as foreign and Afghan security forces try to quell Taliban and Haqqani network insurgents active in the area.

"The strike by ISAF killed four teenage boys, two teenage girls, and two women, and wounded two others," Samon said.

A senior official for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the coalition was looking into the alleged incident, but "so far had seen no evidence of civilian casualties".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 11:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FARC `to release' FRANCE 24 journalist Romeo Langlois - COLOMBIA-FRANCE - FRANCE 24

A statement from the 15th front FARC rebel brigade said Saturday that they are willing to release FRANCE 24 journalist Romeo Langlois this coming Wednesday if their security conditions are met.

The rebels said that they now await to hear the proposed security plan.

Langlois was accompanying a military patrol on a mission to destroy drug laboratories in Caqueta when the convoy came under attack from leftist FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas on April 28. He was taken prisoner during a gun battle that ensued.

Langlois was injured in the initial attack but is understood to be in relatively good health.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia and Venezuela - Joining Forces - IPS ipsnews.net
BOGOTÁ/CARACAS, May 25, 2012 (IPS) - When 12 Colombian soldiers were killed by FARC insurgents a stone's throw away from the northern border with Venezuela, the consequences included military cooperation that reinforces the political, diplomatic and trade-related links that have developed over the past two years between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Santos said that after the attack on Monday he spoke to Chávez, who immediately "ordered the deployment of two brigades to the border zone, with instructions to try to locate" the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) column that attacked a Colombian army unit.

"If they manage to find them, they will capture them. If they resist, they will open fire. They will shoot them down," Santos said.

He said Chávez told him over the phone, "Our position is the same as it has been since you and I restored dialogue (in August 2010, when Santos took office as president) and we began our cooperation: we will not tolerate incursions by any illegal armed force, whatever its nature, into Venezuelan territory."

The left-wing Venezuelan president said on television that his government would not allow "irregular groups, whatever side they are on, to use Venezuela as a camping site, a training ground, or a base to attack forces of other countries, in this case Colombia.

"We cannot allow ourselves to be mixed up in a conflict that is not our own," Chávez said.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:18:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria blames Houla deaths on 'terrorists' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

The Syrian government has denied responsibility for an attack that killed at least 85 people, including 34 children, saying that it was carried out by "terrorists".

Jihad Makdissi, the spokesman for the Syrian foreign ministry, also lashed out at foreign leaders for accusing the government of having committed atrocities "without any evidence".

He told a press conference that "hundreds of armed men" had attacked Houla, a cluster of villages in Homs province, on Friday and clashed with government forces.

"They used heavy weapons and anti-tank rockets," he said on Sunday. "That's why we lost some of our men from the security forces."

Makdissi said Syrian forces were trying to defend themselves but insisted that "no Syrian artillery or heavy weaponry" had been used in Houla.

"Syria will continue defending its citizens," he said

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:08:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jihad Makdissi, the spokesman for the Syrian foreign ministry, also lashed out at foreign leaders for accusing the government of having committed atrocities "without any evidence".

If you say that again we will have you and your children boiled in oil.

"Syria will continue defending  slaughtering its citizens, so fuck off," he said.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 09:25:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mali government rejects north's independence - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Mali's embattled transitional government has rejected the declaration by an alliance of northern rebels of an independent Islamic Tuareg state.

"The government of Mali categorically rejects the idea of the creation of an Azawad state, even more so of an Islamic state," a government official told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

"Even though this state creation is just on paper and not de facto, we are coming forward to stress that Mali is secular and will remain secular," he said. 

The two groups that seized control of Mali's north had announced that they agreed to merge and create an independent state in the northern half of the west African nation.

The merger, announced on Saturday, would see the Tuareg separatist-led National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), and Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) fighters join forces to nominally control an area the size of France.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran to Build 2nd Nuke Plant at Bushehr | World | RIA Novosti

Iran intends to build the second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant with a capacity of 1,000 MW, according to a statement by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization head Fereydoun Abbasi, Mehr news agency reported on Sunday.

The construction of the second Bushehr nuclear power plant will begin in 2013, Mehr reported, without giving any further details.

Media reports say Iran has invited inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to visit the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which was built with the assistance of Russia, in 2013.

"We have already received an invitation [from Iran] and next year our mission will be in Bushehr," Miroslav Lipar, head of the agency's Operational Safety Section, said on Friday

The plant's General Designer Valery Limarenko said in mid-May Bushehr will start commercial energy production by the end of 2012.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Construction of the first Bushehr plant began in 1975 and was completed only last year after a major failure of its cooling system at initial start-up. It was constructed by several different firms using technologies from different eras and different countries, and is my own best candidate for the next catastrophic failure in the nuke universe.
Fukushima taught us, among other things, that siting nuke plants together produces new and substantial risks. Siting a new plant next to an accident-waiting-to happen seems like a bad idea to me, but then WHO has just decided that radionuclide pollution isn't bad for humans, so why worry.
I hope they're every it as clever about building the new plant on schedule as the were in getting the first up and running (more or less - so to speak).
by Andhakari on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 02:48:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NY Daily News
Rudy Giuliani's "personal ego" is already getting in the way as he campaigns for Mitt Romney.

New York City's former mayor said Sunday that Romney's record might not hold up against his own -- but it's still better than President Obama's list of accomplishments.

Rudy Giuliani, a former presidential contender and a late-commer to the Romney camp, said the Massachusetts governor's economic record only looked paltry when compared to his own.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 07:51:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Noun ... verb ... 911.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 09:26:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 09:56:13 AM EST
The 'War On Coal' Is A Myth | ThinkProgress

Big polluters and their Congressional allies have created a new straw man to knock down with the invention of the so-called "War on Coal." It is a multi-million dollar disinformation campaign funded by Big Coal polluters to protect their profits and distract Americans from the deadly effects of air pollution on public health.

However, with the number of coal jobs in key coal states actually on the rise since 2009, it's more like peacetime prosperity than war in coal country. The War on Coal is nothing more than a new shiny object, designed by big polluters to distract Americans from the real war - the polluters' attacks on their health - and the truth.

Coal companies and dirty utilities claim that long overdue requirements to reduce mercury, arsenic, smog, acid rain, and carbon pollution from power plants will kill jobs. In West Virginia, however, coal mining employment was higher in 2011 than at any time over the last 17 years. Federal jobs statistics also show modest coal mining job growth in coal states like Virginia and Pennsylvania.

In West Virginia, a recent report from the non-partisan West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy showed coal mining jobs are actually rising, with 1,500 new coal jobs added since 2009. In Pennsylvania, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows a 2.3% increase in coal related jobs. And in Virginia, EIA data shows a 6.7% increase in coal mining employment from 2009 to 2010.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 10:22:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Between 2002 and 2011, US coal exports to China rose from  8,105 tons to over 5.4 million tons, over a 600 fold increase. If Big Coal is really interested in energy independence, surely they'd stop exporting so much.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 04:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that this is all about coal mining, not power generation. Today's Al-Jazeera has an article on this. After discussing natural gas and Obama's greenhouse emissions policies, they add
But a third factor - a persistent grassroots citizens' rebellion that has blocked the construction of 166 (and counting) proposed coal-fired power plants - has been at least as important. At the very time when President Obama's "cap-and-trade" climate legislation was going down in flames in Washington, local activists across the United States were helping to impose "a de facto moratorium on new coal", in the words of Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, one of the first analysts to note the trend.

Another surprise: most of these coal plants were defeated in the politically red states of the South and Midwest. Victories were coming "in places like Oklahoma and South Dakota, not the usual liberal bastions where you'd expect environmental victories", recalls Mary Anne Hitt, the director of the Beyond Coal campaign, which provided national coordination for the local efforts. The victories in Oklahoma were particularly sweet, coming in the home state of Capitol Hill's leading climate denier, Senator James Inhofe.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 05:00:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People who've lived in coal mining towns/villages know that they are an environmental and human health disaster. Politics can't compete with the horror of coal dust in the long term.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 07:27:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still remember the silicosis widows -- widows at 55 -- in coal-mining places I've lived in or otherwise known.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 07:38:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hazel Dickens version

And John Sayles' film Matewan summed it all up, and the battle still rages.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 08:06:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tom Philpott | Mother Jones

According to President Obama and his fellow heads of state in the G-8 (US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Russia), the solution lies in the private sector. At last weekend's G-8 summit at Camp David, the group launched "The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition," described as a "commitment by G-8 nations, African countries and private sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth."

The "private-sector partners" in the alliance have pledged $3 billion in new investments in African ag over the next decade. And what are the companies that President Obama and his G-8 peers have tapped to lift Africa out of hunger? Their number (list here) turns out to include global agribiz giants Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Yara; and junk-food behemoths Unilever, Kraft, Hershey's, and Mars.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 10:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The New Alliance for Food Security, Nutrition, and Birth Control"

Without that you're just wasting time.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 09:30:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Global Health and Wellness News: The Delight of Curry

Turmeric is a rhizomatousherbaceousperennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.   It is native to tropicalSouth Asia and needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C (68 °F and 86 °F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.   Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and propagated from some of those rhizomes in the following season.

When not used fresh, the rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.

The newest findings were made by researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU and published today in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

"This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression," said Adrian Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the Linus Pauling Institute. "It's interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies."

 "Curcumin, as part of turmeric, is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels," Gombart said. "However, it's possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract."

In this study, Chunxiao Guo, a graduate student, and Gombart looked at the potential of both curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids to increase expression of the CAMP gene. They found no particular value with the omega-3 fatty acids for this purpose, but curcumin did have a clear effect. It caused levels of CAMP to almost triple.

The CAMP peptide is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its type in humans, researchers said. It appears to have the ability to kill a broad range of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis and protect against the development of sepsis.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 10:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Report: Two Solar Technologies That Will Thrive; Two On the Demise | Renewable Energy News Article

In a new report titled "Searching for Game Changers in Photovoltaics Materials Innovations," Lux Research details the emerging technologies that will thrive and those that will eventually sputter out. Along the way, the report gives us a couple new acronyms to squirrel away as we consider the ROI on our R&D.

The basis for much of the research is the volume of development funding we're seeing right now, and the forecast that the industry will return to double digit margins by 2014. Conceivably, once those margins return, many of the innovations in the background today will be ready to step into the market. The formula to get there is based on solid economics -- the technologies that succeed will offer both a low cost per watt and the ability to scale using existing PV infrastructure.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 10:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The inside story on the GM wheat trial debate - The Ecologist
If the organisers of this weekend's Take the Flour Back protest against the genetically modified wheat trial at Rothamsted in Hertfordshire were hoping for a bit of publicity ahead of the event, they won't have been disappointed.

The protesters threat to 'decontaminate' the trial, if they got the chance, followed by an organic farmer's solo effort to cut off the heads of some of the GM wheat plants last weekend, has triggered a wave of media hysteria.
'People will starve to death because of anti-GM zealotry,' screamed a headline in the Daily Telegraph, while a piece in The Times called on the Government to stand up to 'anarchy and vandalism' and those whose only mandate is 'hatred of science.'

Professor Maurice Moloney - the director of Rothamsted Research, who are running the trial - told The Observer he feared we could be entering a new dark age, while the NFU's president, Peter Kendall, used a speech to MPs at the House of Commons to liken GM activists to Nazis: 'This is criminal, and must be dealt with as such. It's worse than that. It is the wilful imposition of ignorance, directly comparable to Nazi book-burning in the 1930s.'
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 10:43:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monsanto: champion of enlightenment.
by Andhakari on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 03:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Analysis: UK bets on biomass in move away from coal | Reuters

(Reuters) - Britain is placing Europe's biggest bet on biomass as an alternative to polluting oil and coal and expensive gas, but reliance on imports could challenge the plan's low-carbon credentials and Britain's energy security.

Burning wood, sunflower husks or animal feces offers steady so-called "baseload" power, giving biomass an advantage over intermittent renewable rivals solar and wind.

It also offers an alternative to Europe's gas-fired power plants, where profits have been eroded by rising natural gas prices.

One way biomass is finding a way into the UK's energy mix is through the conversion of coal-burning power plants, which saves up to 75 percent of the cost of building a new station.

"Biomass is perfect for baseload generation capacity because it's always available, it's not like wind power or solar," said Hannes Lechner, head of bioenergy at consultancy Poyry.

Britain's biomass plans are Europe's biggest, with 3 gigawatts in planning representing 20 percent of Europe's growth through 2035, according to IHR Emerging Energy Research.

It is part of the UK's aim to get 15 percent of its energy from green sources by 2020.

Does anybody know what Britain's energy policy actually is?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 11:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 09:56:31 AM EST
No New Neurons for Smell? - ScienceNOW

Do our brains continue to produce neurons throughout our lifetimes? That's been one of the most hotly debated questions in the annals of science. Since the 1950s, studies have hinted at the possibility, but not until the late 1990s did research prove that the birth of new neurons, called neurogenesis, goes on in the brains of adult primates and humans. Now a surprising new study in humans shows that in the olfactory bulb-the interface between the nose and the brain and an area long--known to be a hot spot of neurogenesis--new neurons may be born but not survive. The finding may rule out neurogenesis in this area, or it might show only that some people don't stimulate their brains enough through the sense of smell, some researchers say.

Previous studies have found evidence of neurogenesis in the olfactory bulb of adult humans. But those studies measured only proteins produced by immature neurons, leaving open the question of whether these youngsters ever grew up to connect with other cells to form functional networks, says neuroscientist Jonas Frisén of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. If new olfactory neurons really reached adulthood throughout a person's life, researchers should find neurons of a variety of ages in this region.

That's not what Frisén and his team saw.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:28:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New type of male contraceptive? Key gene essential for sperm development discovered
ScienceDaily (May 24, 2012) -- A new type of male contraceptive could be created thanks to the discovery of a key gene essential for sperm development.

The finding could lead to alternatives to the conventional male contraceptives that rely on disrupting the production of hormones, such as testosterone. These treatments can cause side-effects such as irritability, mood swings and acne.

Research, led by the University of Edinburgh, has shown how a gene -- Katnal1 -- is critical to enable sperm to mature in the testes.

If scientists can regulate the Katnal1 gene in the testes, they could prevent sperm from maturing completely, making them ineffective without changing hormone levels.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Half of Detroit's Streetlights May Go Out as City Shrinks - Bloomberg

Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.

As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can't afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing's plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.

Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Detroit's plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. Vacant property and parks account for 37 square miles (96 square kilometers), according to city planners.

"You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population," said Chris Brown, Detroit's chief operating officer. "We're not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for all types of cities, not just Detroit. The amount of lumen we squander is colossal.

The Dutch counties are beginning to feel the sting of austerity, and one in particular has now decided to reduce its number of streetlights, by half I believe. Interestingly, the council included an option for citizens to "purchase" a streetlight if they insist on keeping it before their doors.

The Dutch government austerity package has now been officially released. I haven't read it, but I'm willing to bet there's nothing about reducing public lighting.

by Nomad on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 05:30:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not about reducing light pollution or "squandering". It's about making life miserable for those living in the smoking craters of the real state bubble.
"You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population," said Chris Brown, Detroit's chief operating officer. "We're not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas."

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 05:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other towns, that might be the case.  This is Detroit.  Detroit cratered a long time ago.  Now they've given up on hoping it will ever get better, and are trying to make the crater more livable.
by Zwackus on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 06:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will they subsidize people's move from their underwater mortgage in the blighted parts of the crater? Or will they just cut off the municipal services and let them move on their own?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 07:52:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they're turning out the lights, they're unlikely to keep other services going - although I expect that depends more on the utilities than the council.

I'd guess most people have already either died or gone elsewhere.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 08:29:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given, the policy is a harsh one. I do not wish to be offhand or callous to anyone struggling in this mess.

The subject touches a very real and I might say a very modern problem: a major city that's shrinking. I've heard of villages and some major towns and a number of historic examples - but a city of millions at this scale? Can't think of one this quick.

How does one streamline this kind of patchwork decay undermining the fabric of a city this large?

by Nomad on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 06:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a more graphic illustration of the shrinking city, there are pictures from two French photographers, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre in their book "Ruins of Detroit".
by Bernard on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 06:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seems like a problem sensors would solve.

have lights go on when action happens, leave them off otherwise, so citydwellers can see the stars again, and save a bunch of energy as well...

'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 Mon May 28th, 2012 at 05:58:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's get those cattle moving.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 09:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Micheal Haneke awarded Palme d'Or for `Amour' - CANNES FILM FESTIVAL - FRANCE 24

REUTERS - Austrian director Michael Haneke won the Cannes film festival's top honour, the Palme d'Or, on Sunday with "Love" (Amour), his acclaimed tale of an elderly couple facing the inescapable, yet no less tragic march of death.

Haneke joins an elite group of two-time winners at the world's biggest film festival after his "The White Ribbon" won in 2009.

The simple yet moving tale set almost entirely inside a Paris apartment left audiences in tears in Cannes, and it will prove a popular winner for a director considered one of the greatest working in Europe today.

Love also won plaudits for its two main actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, who are both in their 80s.

"A very, very big thanks to my actors who have made this film. It's their film. They are the essence of this film," Haneke told a packed audience at the closing ceremony after being applauded and cheered.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 03:46:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog
The mental walls seem insurmountable, but sooner or later, they collapse. You won't believe it but there are still those who vote for the Lega or the UDC and who believe that Andreotti was absolved and not let off because of the Statute of Limitations.

The taxi arrives. I get in and say "Torino Porta Nuova". The taxi driver wants to talk. There are two types of taxi driver: those that greet you briefly and those that don't stop talking for the whole journey. This guy was one of the latter. He talked and talked and at a certain moment he started talking about the TAV in Val di Susa
"Ah yes, you're right on many points (without however naming any of them), but these anarchist insurrectionists where do you place them? They do well to keep them in prison!"
"They're normal people who are defending their territory .... It's the TAV that's useless. It costs 22 billion for a line where the volume of goods traffic has been decreasing for the last 15 years. And anyway, there's already a line there ...."
"Look, I don't know this, but progress can't be stopped, and then there's this story of asbestos. But how much asbestos have we got in Turin. And I've reached the age of 65."
"The money for the TAV is coming even from your taxes. It's an enormous amount. Doesn't it annoy you that it's of no use?"
"In Italy they throw money everywhere. At least this will be there in the future. Think of your grandchildren that'll be able to have goods from all over France!"
"I don't want to be impolite but the volume of traffic has been going down on the current Turin-Lyons route for at least the last 15 years."
"And what about the road traffic then? (things are hotting up ...) Do you or do you not want to get the HGV onto the trains for goodness sake and eliminate pollution?"
"Even the volume of road traffic is falling sharply."
"You are reasoning like a politician who wants the votes from the extreme fringe, the ones who have always caused harm to this nation."
"I'll tell you again the sum of 22 billion in public money that will be shared out between the lobbies and the 'ndrangheta - even if you are OK with that, the people of the Susa Valley aren't OK and neither am I."
"Ah - it's easy to talk about the people of the Susa Valley ... There are people of the Susa Valley and people of the Susa Valley. Those who live in the lower levels of the valley really want the TAV. Scalfari said so on TV. Now you'll tell me that even Scalfari doesn't understand anything. You are a bigot."
"Basically, you're not listening to me. If you like, I'll send you all the figures to convince you. Give me your address or your email."
"Hey, the figures. All manipulated. Are you one who still believes in the figures after everything that has happened with the economy in the last few years? You are naïve. In fact, I'll ask you a question "Do you like fish?"
"What `s that got to do with it? Yes, anyway I'm really happy to eat fish!"
"There you are. If in the future, you're in Turin and you go into a restaurant and you order fish, how are they going to get it to come from Portugal without the TAV?"
"From Portugal?"
"Yes, from Portugal. If we were all like you, we'd have anything but progress. We'd still be in the Stone Age!"
I pay the fare and run off.
(*) This dialogue really took place.


'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 Mon May 28th, 2012 at 04:42:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lib Dem Voice: The Weekend Debate: What's wrong with making membership of the second chamber a lottery? (26th May 2012)
The debate about what a reformed House of Lords should look like has been defeating legislators for well over a century -- and here's a novel proposal from Sandy Walkington, who stood for the Lib Dems in St Albans at the last election:
Greece is not exactly in fashion at the moment. But we could learn a thing or two from ancient Athens. They chose their office holders by lot from amongst the citizens, who then had to serve for a fixed term as part of their civic duty. We have our own history of a legal system where jurors are chosen by random selection - something started by our Saxon forbears. More recently citizens' juries have become an accepted option in taking major public decisions.


It would take politics out of politics. It would guarantee a representative House in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and geography. There would be that sublime element of random which makes the House of Lords at its best so refreshing and un-spun - but it would no longer be the Eton-educated random of whether your ancestor had been Charles II's mistress or you had left the House of Commons through popular demand. ...

At one bound we could end patronage, still leave the House of Commons as clearly the senior because elected Chamber, and yet provide for a genuinely and refreshingly representative membership of a new second Chamber to to hold the Commons to account as well as reviewing and initiating legislation.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 11:16:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's attractive in some ways - but at the same time I'm not sure that what Britain needs is a second chamber that is even more easily ignored by the government...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 01:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 09:56:51 AM EST
Swedes sing praises of Eurovision winner Loreen - The Local

Sweden lavished praise Sunday on Eurovision song contest winner Loreen, revelling in her dominance with dance number "Euphoria".

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt led the accolades with a tweet saying "Yes, Loreen certainly lived up to high expectations."

Author and actor Jonas Gardell was moved enough to tweet, "Loreen, I am no longer homosexual!!!"

Loreen, 28, real name Lorine Zineb Noka Talhaoui, the daughter of Berber immigrants from Morocco, is the fifth Swedish winner of the contest since Abba took the title 38 years ago.

Sweden's media said Loreen left the competition trailing in her wake. "Loreen created euphoria in Europe and swept away the competition," said the online edition of the daily Expressen. Svenska Dagbladet said she "massacred the rest of the competitors."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 27th, 2012 at 12:12:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That'll teach them to let foreign brown people in them.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 06:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]

nice groove...

'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 Mon May 28th, 2012 at 05:48:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How true, how true.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon May 28th, 2012 at 09:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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