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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 14 June

by Colman Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 03:30:46 AM EST

Extra late, bring your own news.


Display:
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:00:33 AM EST
Greek farmers rent patches of land to citydwellers in scheme to combat crisis | World news | guardian.co.uk

In his day job, Dimitris Koutsolioutsos crunches numbers for his uncle's firm, which deals in jewellery and duty-free. In the early mornings and late evenings, he helps people become farmers. Not literally, but it does seem to be catching on.

The idea behind www.gineagrotis.gr (the name means 'Become a farmer') is straightforward: citydwellers rent a patch of land from a farmer, tell him what they would like grown on it, and get their own fresh vegetables delivered to them weekly. And unlike some services elsewhere, it costs them on average 70% less than at the supermarket or greengrocers.

"It's about disrupting the market, creating a direct connection between the consumer and the producer," says Koutsolioutsos. "You have a real farmer, a real man, and a real, physical piece of land that you can - indeed you must, we insist on it - go and visit. It's an alternative way of organising food production and distribution."

The benefits to the farmer are considerable: he knows in advance what he has to plant, how much of it, and when to harvest. The crops can be grown at a discount, because the farmer knows he will sell all he grows, with no waste. And he gets a regular, guaranteed, stable income.

It works like this: customers go online, and state the size of plot they want (generally between 70m2 and 100m2, depending on the size of the household). At least a month in advance, they select the produce they want, choosing from a list of 10 summer and 10 winter vegetables.

The produce is then delivered weekly, on one of two pre-agreed days, and within 24 hours of being picked. If the customers are away or on holiday, they can check a box asking for their delivery to be donated to an Athens soup kitchen (from September, they'll be able to opt to pay 10% more than their regular subscription, on the understanding that the farmer will grow 10% more and it will be donated to an organisation helping the hungry or homeless).

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:06:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Germany says no to banking union- existing tools are apparently adequate
German officials in Berlin are briefing that Angela Merkel will not support a banking union, or a fiscal union at the June 28/29 summit; Germany is committed to a political union as a long-term goal (meaning after the elections); German officials says they don't understand the fuss, since existing crisis resolution tools are perfectly adequate; the Dutch finance ministry agrees: no banking union, no fiscal union; Francois Hollande dropped the idea of a fiscal union, now throwing his weight behind the notion of a debt redemption funds; this idea is premised on the assumption that a stagnant Italy can repay half its debt in 20 years; but Hollande reiterated his supported for a banking union anchored at the ECB and a banking licence for the ESM; the volatile Mariano Rajoy now wants a full eurozone federation with tax raising powers; Moody's downgrade Spain to a notch above junk; Spanish government refuses to consider the closure of banks as part of the restructuring process; Finland insists that Spanish banks should be supervised by the troika as a pre-condition for the loan; Greek deposit  withdrawals have accelerated in the run-up to the elections; Syriza is preparing an emergency plan if the negotiations with international lenders fail; Alexis Tsipras says he will do everything to keep Greece in the eurozone; Germany is on course to ratify the ESM and fiscal pact before the end of the month; Germany is close to a balanced budget thanks to the low bond yields; Wolfgang Münchau, meanwhile, argues that an Italian exit from the eurozone becomes increasingly probable.


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:47:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yesterday in the afternoon, something at RIPE went awry.

This causes europe-wide email outages because most mailservers reject mails if the IP of the sending mailserver can not be resolved.

All this during a growing debate on whether those IP people should be allowed to handle their own business or whether the mighty ITU should take over. They even have their own leaks website 8-}

7 years to go !

by pi (etrib@opsec.eu) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:58:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Mandatory work scheme does not improve job chances, research finds

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you

Thousands of jobseekers have been referred to a mandatory work scheme that has done nothing for their employment chances, has made some of them more likely to claim benefits over the long term, and has led to a proportion subsequently signing on for sickness support, government research has found.

The assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions of its own mandatory work activity (MWA) programme was filed at the House of Commons library late on Tuesday evening, three hours after the employment minister, Chris Grayling, announced he would be pumping in £5m of extra funding to expand the scheme so it could take up to 70,000 referrals a year.

The government also announced that it would toughen the sanctions regime, making it even harder to temporarily sign off benefits to avoid being forced into unpaid work for up to four weeks .




keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 06:12:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberal conspiracy - Jon Stone - The govt's work programmes are pure exploitation: here's the evidence

aka known as Never trust a Tory, whichever of the three parties he's in

There's mounting evidence the Government's work and employment strategy is deliberately geared towards the exploitation of workers and the unemployed.

Here are eight reasons to be suspicious:
[....]
After discovering their programme is making things worse, the DWP extended it
 How did the Government react to this advice? On the same day as their own damning report was published, ministers decided to expand the mandatory work programme.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 06:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Le PS en majorité absolue à lui seul, selon l'Ifop - LibérationThe PS absolute majority on its own, according to Ifop - Liberation
Un sondage prévoit entre 297 et 332 sièges pour les candidats PS dans le prochain parlement, alors que la majorité absolue est à 289.A survey predicts between 297 and 332 seats for the PS candidates in the next parliament, while the absolute majority is 289.
Le PS et ses alliés, sans Europe Ecologie-Les Verts ni le Front de gauche, disposeraient de la majorité absolue à l'Assemblée nationale avec un nombre de sièges compris entre 297 et 332, selon une projection de l'institut Ifop publiée jeudi.The PS and its allies, without Europe-Ecology Greens or the Left Front, would have the absolute majority in the National Assembly with a number of seats between 297 and 332, according to a projection of the institute Ifop published Thursday.
«Le Parti socialiste et apparentés, le Parti radical de gauche et le Mouvement républicain et citoyen n'auraient pas à compter nécessairement sur l'appui des autres forces de gauche que sont le Front de gauche et Europe Ecologie-Les Verts pour faire passer certains textes de lois», avance Jérôme Fourquet, politologue à l'Ifop, alors que la majorité absolue est de 289 sièges."The Socialist Party and close allies, the Radical Left Party and the Republican and citizen Movement would not have to rely necessarily on the support of other forces of the left -- the Left Front and Europe Ecology-Greens -- to pass certain laws", suggested Jerome Fourquet, a political scientist at Ifop, while the absolute majority is 289 seats.
De son côté, grâce à l'accord conclu avec le PS, Europe Ecologie-Les Verts obtiendrait entre treize et vingt sièges et serait en mesure de constituer un groupe parlementaire.For its part, through the agreement with the PS, Europe Ecology-Greens would get between thirteen and twenty seats and would be able to form a parliamentary group.
En revanche, le Front de gauche n'est pas sûr d'être dans ce cas de figure avec une fourchette comprise entre huit et dix sièges alors qu'actuellement il faut quinze sièges pour constituer un groupe.However, the Left Front is not sure to be in this case with a range between eight and ten seats whereas now it takes fifteen seats to form a group.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:11:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to the Leveson enquiry (live on the Guardian) into the press/politics cloisterfock.

A reader gives this handy colour chart for his facial colour :



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

by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sadly the pic didn't come through. Do you have a link ?

A handy guide on Cameron

When he scratches his nose he's telling the truth
When he buttons his coat he's telling the truth
When he opens his mouth he's lying

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 10:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
twitpic.com/9w2w1z

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 10:41:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT Alphaville

Lucky little Cyprus.

It has just been downgraded two notches by Moody's to Ba3, has problems with its banks, and will have even bigger ones if a Grexit occurs, but it also has suitors. And that's suitors in the plural.

Finance ministers in the PIGS countries must be green with envy.

On the one hand, there's the good old eurozone and on the other is a state fund, namely that of Russia. It would be the second time Moscow has stepped in. It extended a €2.5bn loan last year as Cyprus has effectively been shut out from capital markets. A deal is expected before the weekend.

The WSJ quotes a Cypriot government official:

"The next days are crucial. We are currently considering whether we are going to resort to the Rescue Fund or to a state fund," the official, who didn't want to be named, said. "There may even be a combination," the person added.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 10:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because the Cypriot bankins system is an offshore appendage of the global hedge fund industry.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 11:28:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:00:48 AM EST
Greek farmers rent patches of land to citydwellers in scheme to combat crisis | World news | guardian.co.uk

In his day job, Dimitris Koutsolioutsos crunches numbers for his uncle's firm, which deals in jewellery and duty-free. In the early mornings and late evenings, he helps people become farmers. Not literally, but it does seem to be catching on.

The idea behind www.gineagrotis.gr (the name means 'Become a farmer') is straightforward: citydwellers rent a patch of land from a farmer, tell him what they would like grown on it, and get their own fresh vegetables delivered to them weekly. And unlike some services elsewhere, it costs them on average 70% less than at the supermarket or greengrocers.

"It's about disrupting the market, creating a direct connection between the consumer and the producer," says Koutsolioutsos. "You have a real farmer, a real man, and a real, physical piece of land that you can - indeed you must, we insist on it - go and visit. It's an alternative way of organising food production and distribution."

The benefits to the farmer are considerable: he knows in advance what he has to plant, how much of it, and when to harvest. The crops can be grown at a discount, because the farmer knows he will sell all he grows, with no waste. And he gets a regular, guaranteed, stable income.

It works like this: customers go online, and state the size of plot they want (generally between 70m2 and 100m2, depending on the size of the household). At least a month in advance, they select the produce they want, choosing from a list of 10 summer and 10 winter vegetables.

The produce is then delivered weekly, on one of two pre-agreed days, and within 24 hours of being picked. If the customers are away or on holiday, they can check a box asking for their delivery to be donated to an Athens soup kitchen (from September, they'll be able to opt to pay 10% more than their regular subscription, on the understanding that the farmer will grow 10% more and it will be donated to an organisation helping the hungry or homeless).

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:07:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Berlin Is Balking on a Bailout | Hans-Werner Sinn - New York Times Op-Ed
Should Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain go bankrupt and repay nothing, while the euro survives, Germany would lose $899 billion. Should the euro fail, Germany would lose over $1.35 trillion, more than 40 percent of its G.D.P. Has the United States ever incurred a similar risk for helping other countries?

Some critics have argued that Germany, having benefited from the Marshall Plan, now owes it to Europe to undertake a similar rescue. Those critics should look at the numbers.

Greece has received or been promised $575 billion through assistance efforts, including Target credit, E.C.B. bond purchases and a haircut after a debt moratorium. Compare this with the Marshall Plan, for which Germany is very grateful. It received 0.5 percent of its G.D.P. for four years, or 2 percent in total. Applied to the Greek G.D.P., this would be about $5 billion today.

In other words, Greece has received a staggering 115 Marshall plans, 29 from Germany alone, and yet the situation has not improved. Why, Mr. Obama, is that not enough?



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:59:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See yesterday's salon.
But, forgetting that for a moment, it appears that Sinn views "Has the United States ever incurred a similar risk for helping other countries?" as a rhetorical question to which the answer is "No".  In fact, I suspect the vast majority of US citizens are perfectly aware that the answer is "Yes".
That was Karl Whelan, but also on the same day there was a guest post by Marshall Auerback: GERMANY'S CONSTITUTIONAL CONUNDRUM on Yanis Varoufakis' blog making the same point almost as a throwaway.
Let's leave aside Sinn's broader rhetorical points ("Has the United States ever incurred a similar risk for helping other countries?"  Umm, yes, it did - there was that little matter of World War II).
It appears the English-speaking commentariat is underwhelmed by Hans Werner Unsinn.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 05:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for pointing me to yesterday's Salon (i had missed that).

having said that, i am totally underwhelmed by Whelan's and Auerback's reference to WW2 as an example of comparable U.S. benevolence.

as Jake put it:

Of course, anybody who believes that the US entry into the latest world war was in any great measure about "helping others" has rocks and gravel in his head.

At the most generous, it comes in about fourth or fifth down the list of motives.

but the rest of Auerback's post seems to have some helpful information, though a bit difficult for me to understand: the legal complexity of the relationship between German constitutional law and the Maastricht Treaty with respect to Target 2 (whatever the f that is).

what is most striking is the last sentence:

So Germany's court could well become the  instrument of the euro's destruction by frustrating  the ECB's capacity to operate as lender of last resort.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 05:58:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Auerbeck is wrong in his last sentence. All that's needed to appease the constituional court is a referendum.  
by Katrin on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 07:08:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Utterly idiotic. The court ruled on commitments entered on by the government and how far the parliament, because of it's budget right, has to be involved. Important questions, because of there is the question if the parliament can by entering unlimited commitments bind future parliaments. also the relationship between parliament and it's budget right and a government that has discretion if and when and how much to pay out - undermining the budget right of the parliament.

In all this, the court is of course applying german constitutional law, not the European treaties

The actions of the ECB are exactly that actions, of the ECB. The Bundesbank has given zero credit to other central banks; it has given with TARGET II a credit to the ECB. And that is for obvious reasons not illegal under the german constitution.

Everything mentioned here, target, lender of last resort to the banks, buying government bonds ond the secondary market, is legal under the MAsstricht treaty.Interpreation of the european treaties is the jurisdiction of the European Court anyway. The Maastricht treaty as a whole has been challenged and declared constitutional in the Constitutional Court back then.    

by IM on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:20:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everything mentioned here, target, lender of last resort to the banks, buying government bonds ond the secondary market, is legal under the MAsstricht treaty.Interpreation of the european treaties is the jurisdiction of the European Court anyway. The Maastricht treaty as a whole has been challenged and declared constitutional in the Constitutional Court back then.    
Then why are people like Sinn or Weidmann not challenged when they claim that this or that policy is illegal?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are not challenged only in your perspective. Sinn especially is hardly a respected figure nowadays in political or even economic circles there in Germany. His target argumentation has been quite ridiculed.

And neither are lawyers and certainly not experts on constitutional or european law.

by IM on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:27:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is he really that marginalized? German economic blogs mostly took his arguments apart but he still commands the pages of the conservative press whenever he feels he has something to say.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 12:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Jens Weidmann definitely is not marginalised and is allowed to go on in public about the illegality of the secondary market purchases.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 12:36:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Marginalised isn't the same as challenged, but Sinn has become controversial. Of course that means he has a large fan club too, no only enemies.
by Katrin on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 01:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say that Sinn is a lot more challenged then five or ten years ago. Marginalized would be too strong, since he has sill as you have pointed out easy access to the media.

But you can't just use him as an unanimous voice of the german establishment.

As far as Weidmann being allowed to say things - ho exactly do you disallow a Bundesbank president to say things?

by IM on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 01:27:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there are ways. Sarrazin had to go because what he said was (almost) uncontroversially racist. He had become a liability.  Weidmann's position isn't embarassing for wide parts of the political spectrum. It is no longer uncontroversial either.
by Katrin on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 01:52:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and this Auerbeck fellow isn't really  legal expert either.
by IM on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:28:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the article by Auerback is not particularly good in general.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:45:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again with Target 2. Somehow pretending that all the money that the German savings that are now claims against the Bundesbank would still be a thing without the target system.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 06:16:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. Sinn's obsession with Target2 is complete nonsense and just serves to deflect from the fact that the claims aren't the root of the problem, but the German trade surplus is.
by Katrin on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 07:12:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But when Sinn claims that the Target2 is funding the trade deficits, that's a half-truth, because prior to 2008 there were trade deficits but no persistent and growing Target2 balances. What changed then is that there was a flight to safety or a withdrawal of core investment speculative capital flows into the periphery. It's those flows that Target2 is replacing, but the trade deficits existed throughout the past decade and did not show up in Target2 as long as the core engaged in vendor finance.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:16:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
prior to 2008 there were trade deficits but no persistent and growing Target2 balances.

Right. Prior to 2008 there were trade deficits and the corresponding claims against foreign banks. Nowadays these claims are against a central bank so what is this guy complaining about? Here is more on that Unsinn. And mind, that's Die Zeit's economics blog. It's not true that Sinn's batty theory isn't challenged.

by Katrin on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 08:52:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's some heavy duty bare faced lying by Sinn there, claiming that the haircuts amount to money provided by Germany...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 07:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Letters

I largely agree with Simon Jenkins's analysis of the euro's weaknesses (Like the black rat, the euro is deadly ..., 8 June). However, his claim that single currency zones are always doomed could easily be applied closer to home. The City of London stands in for Frankfurt, while the proto-Hellenic history of, say, the South Wales valleys or Wolverhampton is of a century of austerity as the British single currency was run in such a way as to enrich financiers while disciplining the inhabitants of the periphery, condemned to bear the pain while being excluded from the benefits of credit capitalism.

Dr Aidan Byrne
University of Wolverhampton



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 05:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great spot.

This is the untold story of the neoliberal years in Britain.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 07:17:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helsingin Sanomat | Nokia eliminating up to 10,000 jobs in cost-cutting move:

Finnish mobile telephone manufacturer Nokia plans to reduce its workforce in Finland by 3,700 employees by the end of next year. The move is part of a cost-cutting plan which includes the elimination of up to 10,000 jobs worldwide.

Nokia was 2.6% of the Finnish economy in 2008 and has had a negative affect on GDP since.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 12:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:01:02 AM EST
Syria accused of organised attacks - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syria is committing crimes against humanity as part of state policy to exact revenge against communities suspected of supporting rebels, Amnesty International has said in a report.

The London-based rights group called for an international response on Wednesday after claiming it had fresh evidence that victims, including children, had been dragged from their homes and shot dead by soldiers, who in some cases then set the remains on fire.

"This disturbing new evidence of an organised pattern of grave abuses highlights the pressing need for decisive international action," said Amnesty's Donatella Rovera on release of the 70-page report entitled "Deadly Reprisals".

The group interviewed people in 23 towns and villages across Syria and concluded that government forces and militias were guilty of "grave human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes".

Reporting on the revolt which broke out in March last year, Amnesty described how soldiers and shabiha militias burned down homes and properties and fired indiscriminately into residential areas, killing and injuring civilian bystanders.

The report also accused the regime of routinely torturing those who were arrested, including the sick and elderly.

In the report, Amnesty called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the case to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and to impose an arms embargo on Syria.

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:07:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sudan newspapers face crackdown from authorities - Mail & Guardian Online
Sudan's constitution guarantees press freedoms, but journalists complain they face heavy pressure from authorities, especially after the secession of South Sudan last year.

The editor of newspaper al-Tayar, Osman Mirghani, said a security agency official had told him on Monday evening that the newspaper would be suspended from publication until further notice.

"He did not tell us why the newspaper was stopped from publishing or how long it would be stopped," he said.

Tayar is close to the country's Islamist movement, and crossed authorities in February by reporting Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi's accusations that security services had bugged his office. Tayar was also briefly suspended then.

There was no immediate comment from the security agency on Tuesday.
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:14:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deadly clashes in run-up to Libya elections - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Tribal clashes in western and southern Libya have left at least 15 people dead over the past 48 hours as old grievances between Libyan tribes and cities resurface in the absence of strong leadership in post-revolution Libya.

Dozens of Libyans held a protest on Wednesday in the eastern city of Benghazi, expressing dismay at the security situation and demanding to dissolve the militia groups and integrate them into the army, according to the Libyan news agency, LANA.

They raised banners reading, "Yes to security and safety, no to weapons and chaos", LANA said.

The violence led the country's transitional ruler, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, to appeal to Libyans in a televised speech to lay down their arms and unite before the country's election next month, when Libyans choose a 200-member assembly to form a government and oversee writing of a new constitution.

The country is awash with weapons seized by citizens turned fighters during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's regime from military barracks and compounds.

Former rebels and militias frequently engage in armed clashes with rival tribes and armed groups.

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:15:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
al-Jazeerah - Explainer - Crucial day in Egypt's high court

Two legal cases to be heard on Thursday before Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court are threatening to turn the country's entire post-revolution political process on its head just two days before the election of a new president. Both trace back to a fundamental debate, one that began when the first licks of flame began to devour the headquarters of Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party on January 28: should the former regime ever again be allowed to participate in politics?

On one hand, there is the candidacy of Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, who was voted into the June 16-17 runoff as the second-place finisher, much to the dismay of the revolutionaries who thought their 18-day revolt had ushered his ilk into the history books. Egypt's Islamist-dominated parliament, alarmed at Shafiq and others' candidacies, passed a law specifically aimed at banning men with his controversial resume from politics, and that law is now under review.

And then there is parliament itself, and the confusing system that governed its election. Egypt's military rulers, under pressure from those who feared a return of wealthy ex-regime power brokers, hastily changed the election law to let parties compete for the independent seats the old guard were thought to be targeting. The court will now have to decide whether that decision unfairly discriminated against political independents. Theoretically, the court could force Egypt to rerun both its parliamentary and presidential elections, raising the spectre of a return to the past 16 months of violent protest and disorder. No matter which route the court takes, many will be angry.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 07:19:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:01:18 AM EST
BBC News - Australia to create world's largest marine reserve

Australia says it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 summit.

The reserves will cover 3.1 million sq km of ocean, including the Coral Sea.

Restrictions will be placed on fishing and oil and gas exploration in the protected zone covering more than a third of Australia's waters.

Environment Minister Tony Burke, who made the announcement, will attend the earth summit in Brazil next week with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"It's time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans," Mr Burke said. "And Australia today is leading that next step."

Australia has timed its announcement to coincide with the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit - a global gathering of leaders from more than 130 nations to discuss protecting key parts of the environment, including the ocean, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy.

The plans, which have been years in the making, will proceed after a final consultation process.

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Cougars make a comeback after a century of decline

The American mountain lion or cougar is now re-populating parts of the US, scientists say.

Their numbers had plummeted in the last 100 years because of hunting and a lack of prey.

Writing in the Journal of Wildlife Management, researchers say the cougar is now spreading far outside their traditional western habitats.

But they say the return of the big cats raises important questions about how humans can live with these predators.

Such has been the decline of the cougar in some parts of the United State that the US Fish and Wildlife service declared the eastern cougar extinct just last year.

For decades mountain lions were seen as a threat to livestock and humans and many States paid a bounty to hunters for killing them.

Their habitats were restricted to the areas around the Black Hills of Dakota. But in the 1960s and 70s the animals were reclassified as managed game species, so hunting was limited and numbers started to grow.

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:05:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:01:36 AM EST
BBC News - Green man 'too fast for slow elderly'

Pedestrian crossings do not allow older people enough time to cross the road, a report warns.

The study found that for those over the age of 65, 76% of men and 85% of women have a walking speed slower than that needed to use a pedestrian crossing.

This speed is set by the Department for Transport at 1.2 metres (4 ft) per second - an international standard.

The work, published in the journal Age and Ageing, calls for current pedestrian times to be reviewed.

Local transport minister Norman Baker said: "In my experience, the vast majority of people, young or old, get across the road as quickly as they can.

"The department recommends that where a crossing may be used by a large number of older people or those with mobility issues, for example outside residential care homes, this should be taken into account in the timings set by local authorities."

by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:17:33 AM EST
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The 115-year itch: zoo shellshocked as tortoises' epic affair ends in a quickie divorce - Nature - Environment - The Independent

Not even the strictest marriage guidance counsellor could have accused them of lacking commitment to their relationship: Bibi and Poldi had been living in harmony together under the same roof and in different cities for a staggering 115 years.

But crestfallen keepers at Klagenfurt Zoo in southern Austria were forced to admit yesterday that after more than a century, Bibi and Poldi - the names of the country's oldest living captive giant tortoise pair - had had a furious row, split up and were flatly refusing to share a cage.

"We get the feeling they can't stand the sight of each other anymore," is how Zoo director Helga Happ explained the motive behind Austria's deepening giant tortoise trauma. "For no reason anyone can discover, they have fallen out."

Zoo staff were stung into the bitter realisation that the pair's relationship had "turned turtle" when a keeper approached their cage last month and was given a wholly unexpected display of unfettered female giant tortoise fury.

Bibi attacked Poldi and bit off a chunk of his shell. She carried out several further attacks, obliging keepers to move Poldi to a separate cage for his safety.

The two giant tortoises were each born in 1897. "They are both 115 years old," Mrs Happ said. "They have been together since they were young and grew up together, eventually becoming a pair," she added. The two animals have been at Klagenfurt Zoo for 36 years. Before that they were kept at Basel Zoo in Switzerland.


by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:21:19 AM EST
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It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 05:55:30 AM EST
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Guardian - Premier League lands £3bn TV rights bonanza from Sky and BT

The landscape of British broadcasting has shifted dramatically after BT bought a large slice of televised football rights, boosting the Premier League's next TV deal to a record £3bn over three years, a 71% increase.

This equates to at least £14m more per year for each football club, with the bottom team in the league from 2013-14 onwards likely to receive more than the £60.6m Manchester City earned this year for ending the season as champions. Each individual televised match will now cost the broadcasters £6.6m, up from £4.7m under the previous deal.

BSkyB, which has built its business over 20 years on the back of live top flight football, retained most of the rights, securing 116 matches per season from 2013-14 in exchange for £2.3bn over three years.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 06:02:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even under the old contracts there were a number of pubs which stopped showing live football because the price of the annual licence (£30 k) had become too large.

equally, as the price rises, there will be a gradual erosion of the household audience due to people really beginning to feel the strain financially.

With luck, this really will be a bridge too far and BSkyB will find itself losing money hand over fist. Well, I can dream, can't I ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 06:07:26 AM EST
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From a sporting point of view, it's bad news :

Premier League lands £3bn TV rights bonanza from Sky and BT | Media | The Guardian

The huge increase in income is good news for club owners, players, their agents and luxury car dealerships and, on the evidence of previous deals, is likely to lead to another sharp rise in transfer fees.

i.e. British players will continue to be absurdly overpaid at home (remember, England is the third ranked team in Europe on market valuation!), will get even less experience in foreign clubs, and therefore will continue to be crap in international competitions for the foreseeable future.

Good news for foreigners wanting to work in England of course.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 06:18:56 AM EST
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by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:01:53 AM EST
Guess dvx got lost in German revelling yesterday night.
by Nomad on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:03:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He has completely lost his sex appeal.

Julian Assange's application to reopen extradition case turned down | Media | guardian.co.uk

The supreme court has reaffirmed its rejection of Julian Assange's appeal against his extradition to Sweden, turning down an unusual, last-minute request to reopen the case.

In a short statement, issued only two days after Dinah Rose QC submitted a written plea for the case to be reheard, the court declared that her application "is without merit and it is dismissed".

The terse phrasing suggests a degree of judicial disapproval of the extended process and leaves Assange's lawyers with the choice of appealing the decision to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg or agreeing to the extradition requests.

Assange is wanted in connection with accusations of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. He disputes the allegations. He is being sought under a European arrest warrant (EAW).

The supreme court case revolved around the question of whether a prosecutor, in this case in Sweden, constituted a "judicial authority" as the EAW specifies. The supreme court found by a majority of five to two against Assange, saying that the warrant was valid.

In its statement refusing to reopen the case, the supreme court said it had agreed unanimously that extradition proceedings should not begin for another two weeks.

Is he now doomed to the horrors of a Swedish torture chamber? Stay tuned, gentle readers.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 11:13:59 AM EST
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