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22 January 2013

by Nomad Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 06:21:55 PM EST

Your take on today's news media


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by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:13:02 AM EST
France and Germany: An odd couple | EurActiv

Fifty years after the signing of the Elysée Treaty, the most active bilateral relationship in Europe does not live up to its reputation. France and Germany read the crisis differently and have opposing views on the future of Europe. EurActiv France reports.

While the Franco-German relationship has evolved much with the times, its foundations are as strong as ever. But both countries are yet to come up with a mutual solution to the debt crisis.

"The Germans have a different economic culture, which weighs more than the political game between the left and the right," said Claire Demesmay, a researcher at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). As a result, it has been Social Democrat chancellors - Helmut Schmidt (1974-1982) and Gerhard Schröder (1999-2004) - that  put austerity policies in place.

Differences on major issues

At the moment, Germany opts for "a policy of supporting a favourable environment for investment in industry while controlling labour costs at the expense of real wages", says Jean-Marc Trouille, a specialist in integration at the University of Bradford in Britain. France, however, pursues a "policy of demand to stimulate growth through consumption and services while giving a priority to income."

These differences in doctrine have naturally influenced Paris and Berlin in their analyses of the economic problems of the eurozone. Where in Germany there is a debt crisis, in France a financial crisis. One advocates slimming down public expenditure, while the other defends investment in growth.

Key divergences exist in almost all major economic issues (for a full table see EurActiv.fr). These include: direct and retroactive recapitalisation of Spanish and Irish banks; debt buybacks from the ECB; eurobonds; banking supervision; bank bankruptcy resolution; European deposit guarantees; the 2014-2020 budget; the eurozone budget; allocation for the financial transaction tax; procurement reciprocity.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:12:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jacques Delors and Joschka Fischer Discuss 50 Years of the Elysee Treaty - SPIEGEL ONLINE
In an interview, two politicians whose familiarity with the relationship between the two countries stems from years of observation, discuss the treaty's significance: Jacques Delors, 87, who as head of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995, presided over the critical preliminary work to establish the economic and monetary union; and Joschka Fischer, 64, who advocated a "United States of Europe" while serving as Germany's foreign minister between 1998 and 2005.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Delors, did the signing of the Elysée Treaty feel like an historic event to you at the time?

Delors: The public embrace between Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer represented an unusual, even unparalleled, outbreak of emotion in the interaction between two countries. My father was 90 percent disabled when he returned from World War I. The reconciliation with Germany corresponded to his deeply felt desire that it should never happen again. For me, the emotional dimension of the Elysée Treaty is part of that. But this process began much earlier. I think one of the first significant moments was the appeal by then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman on May 9, 1950. It led to the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community and laid the foundation for the eventual development of the European Union.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Fischer, what did German-French reconciliation mean to you?

Fischer: The emotions are still very fresh in my mind. De Gaulle's visit to Germany, his speech in (the southwestern city of) Ludwigsburg, the service he attended in Reims with Adenauer, the brotherly kiss at the Elysée Palace, all of this triggered a rousing sense of enthusiasm. I was a schoolboy in short pants at the time, and yet I still perceived it as an immensely hopeful encounter. When I later traveled to France for the first time, I was entering a different world, and it was a revelation -- not just politically, but also gastronomically. It was an experience that made a strong impression on my generation.

SPIEGEL: So for German youth, France became a place of longing, a place onto which they could project their unfulfilled dreams?

Fischer: Eating lamb chops with green beans in a French bistro, it changed the way you felt about life. Today everyday life has become very similar in many European countries, but in those days it was still an encounter between completely different cultures.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:15:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also see Jerome's diary: 50 years of French-German friendship.
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:17:13 PM EST
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Van Rompuy criticises British media for 'magnifying' EU problems: theparliament.com
European council president Herman Van Rompuy has criticised the British media for "magnifying" problems such as the eurozone crisis in the EU.

The former Belgian prime minister said, "I sometimes feel that the presentation of Europe in parts of the British media gives a very false picture of what the EU is about, what it does, and how it works.

"The 'problems' are magnified and the solutions, which we normally find, unreported.

"Britain feels that it is unique ¬ but so is each and every one of the member states. None has come into this project in order to lose their character or their identity."

In an interview in the Guardian newspaper, he added, "The EU is there to enable us to work together whilst preserving identities ¬ hence its motto "Unity with diversity".

"Of course, Britain remains outside the euro, and does not therefore participate in the increasingly close cooperation among those who need to manage a common currency.
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:19:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - New date for David Cameron speech on UK and the EU

David Cameron is to deliver his long-awaited speech about the UK and European Union on Wednesday morning, Downing Street has announced.

It had been scheduled for last Friday in the Netherlands, but was postponed because of the Algerian hostage crisis.

It will now be delivered in central London, rather than abroad, because "it best fitted with his schedule".

No 10 said the PM wanted to set out his views on Europe and may call other EU leaders before delivering the speech.

Mr Cameron has said he wants the UK to remain in the 27-member union playing a "committed and active" role but argued that the basis of its relationship must change.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I confess to being less than agog with anticipation

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:08:49 AM EST
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Analysis: Cameron leading Britain into minefield on EU | Reuters

Prime Minister David Cameron is leading Britain into a minefield in seeking to renegotiate its terms of membership of the European Union. His gamble could easily end in a bust.

Cameron postponed a landmark speech on Europe, due to have been delivered in Amsterdam last Friday, because of a hostage crisis in Algeria, but he had already disclosed the thrust of his plan to try to change London's relationship with the EU.

Extracts from the undelivered speech released by his office show he planned to say Britain would "drift towards the exit" unless the EU reformed itself. That sounded reminiscent of a 1930s British newspaper headline: "Fog in the Channel, the continent cut off".

The excerpts did not mention a referendum, which Cameron has indicated he would hold later in the decade after negotiating a "new settlement" with Europe.

His strategy is bound to open a prolonged period of uncertainty in which events could put his preferred option -- a looser version of full British membership -- out of reach. 

First, all Britain's 26 partners must be willing to negotiate on Cameron's agenda, which despite some expressions of goodwill is by no means a given. Euro zone states may prefer to press ahead with closer integration without reopening the EU treaties, or refuse to unravel past agreements.

Second, they would have to be confident in the prime minister's ability to win a national vote and make an agreement stick over the long term to justify significant concessions. But many EU officials are not convinced Cameron's Conservatives will win a 2015 general election. There is no incentive to give him more than polite sympathy until then.

Third, EU partners would have to be able to win the consent of their own voters or parliaments for any special deal with Britain that could involve watering down European social and employment rights and giving London a lock on EU financial services legislation.

Many are worried that an a-la-carte Europe would lead other countries to demand opt-outs.

Finally, the whole process must proceed free from the kind of unpredictable clashes, political accidents or media scares that have dogged London's ties with the EU for decades.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't the easiest solution be that England just leaves the UK, and then Cameron can negotiate their relationship to the EU to his heart's content. Or better yet, 10 Downing Street forms its own microstate.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 02:23:51 AM EST
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It's worse than that, the government (of either party) is really just the political wing of The City and generalised Financial interests of the South East.

They might win constituencies elsewhere, but they don't show them any favour.

The best thing would be for the EU to launch an attack on transnational abuse of taxation and impose a gambling tax on all casino financial transactions. If the city causes the UK to leave, then they should impose a punitive transaction tariff.

Fuck Free Trade, it's time we realised who' it for and who it's against

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:15:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Suspect charged in Kurdish activists murder case - FRANCE-TURKEY - FRANCE 24

An associate of three female Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris has been charged with their murder, a French prosecutor announced following an indictment hearing on Monday.

The 30-year-old man was one of two ethnic Kurds detained last week by a specialist anti-terrorist unit in connection with the January 9 slayings.

He has been charged with carrying out the murders as part of a terrorist group and conspiracy to commit murder as part of a terrorist group.

"We believe he is is likely to have been the killer or one of the killers," Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference.

The other man detained last week was earlier freed without charge.

The suspect accused of the murder was an occasional driver for one of the victims, according to police sources.

The three women, one of them 55-year-old Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), were found dead on the morning of January 10 at a Kurdish centre in the French capital.

They had all been repeatedly shot in the head.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Austrian trains in head-on crash

Dozens of people have been injured in a head-on collision between two commuter trains in the Austrian capital Vienna.

Two people, including one of the train drivers and a passenger, remain in critical condition.

Thirty-nine others were injured, three of them seriously, but no deaths were reported by Monday afternoon.

The accident occurred in Monday's morning rush hour, when the two trains found themselves heading towards each other on the same track.

The line, in the Penzing district of western Vienna, had been put under manual control following a technical defect, a spokeswoman for Austrian railways said.

"A train got permission to travel when it should not have," she said.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU eyes 'aid exit' for Africa's champions | EurActiv

Africa still needs massive international development assistance but it also has its success stories, with countries such as Ghana heading towards a possible `aid exit', European Commission officials have told EurActiv.

Commission documents seen by EurActiv reveal differences on the impact of development aid in sub-Saharan African countries.

It looks, however, that "success stories" begin to emerge.

Among the key indicators measuring progress in development are the percentages of children attending primary school, child mortality, the number of births attended by skilled health staff, the number of people vaccinated against measles and the number of people living under poverty line.

But despite the poverty-fighting benchmarks set by the UN Millennium Development Goals, reliable statistics are not always available in all countries to allow comparison.

Erica Gerretsen, in charge of Western Africa at the Commission's directorate for development and cooperation (Devco), told EurActiv that while the situation remains difficult overall on the African continent, the  perspective of an 'aid exit' was getting closer in some countries. 

Some data reveal obvious successes. In Ghana the percentage of children attending primary school is close to 100%. In 2009, more than a million children in the West African country of 24 million didn't attend school. In Burkina Faso, the number of girls attending school rose from 61% to 75% between 2007 and 2010 and the proportion of children completing primary school rose from 36% to 52%. 

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An action-packed thriller is about to unfold in Davos, Switzerland | Aditya Chakraborrtty | Comment is free | The Guardian

More than 2,500 business executives and bankers will converge on the highest town in Europe for the annual World Economic Forum. For the next five days, Davos will, it's safe to say, boast more millionaires per square foot than anywhere else on the planet. A guest list leaked on to the web this weekend included 680 company chief executives, and a plethora of bankers: seven from Citigroup alone, six each from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank. David Cameron is on the list, along with 36 other sitting prime ministers. Naturally, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are both popping in (the WEF organisers subsequently sent me an updated list, which I am hoping the Guardian will publish online).

To record the event, reporters will be allowed partial access; while phalanxes of ski-jacketed TV presenters are on hand to conduct interviews and provide pensive cutaways.

The summit's notional purpose is to allow heads of businesses and of state to mull over the future for the world economy. The theme of this year's conference is "Resilient dynamism" which, true to Davos form, is a title that would make equal sense, or nonsense, the other way round (other classics of the genre include 2011's "Shared norms for the new reality").

All that thought-leadership might make executives feel as expansive as a costly cigar, but the sessions on "de-risking Africa" aren't what justify the £45,000 price tag for basic membership and entrance (figures from a New York Times article that WEF guided me to). As participants acknowledge, the real business lies in private sessions with industry peers and amenable politicians, and access to those starts at around £98,500.

And this is what makes Davos so fascinating: it is the most perfect case study of how the practitioners of free-market, globalised capitalism give the public one explanation for what they are doing and why, while privately pursuing the complete opposite. On the one hand there is an event attended by Sharon Stone, Bono and a slew of tame academics (14 Nobel laureates this week alone), the message being "we're open to anyone". On the other hand, there are those secret meetings, off limits to anyone not in the £100k club. It is both a reputation-laundry service, and the most shadowy backroom-dealing house. From its inception, the whole point of Davos has been to promulgate the gospel of free-market fundamentalism. In his brilliant book, The Agony of Mammon, Lewis Lapham describes how business-school academic Klaus Schwab convened the original summit in 1971 for top European managers interested in the secrets of American entrepreneurship and "freeing commercial enterprise from the bondage of government regulation". A grand, globalist ideology has since been wrapped around that trunk of class interest, but without it the entire enterprise would never have got off the ground.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So when time travel is developed Klaus Schwab circa 1969 can be a suitable target to modify a timeline gone horribly wrong.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 09:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: Tokyo's monetary easing is a major headache for the eurozone (22.01.2013)
The Bank of Japan doubles inflation target to 2%, and announces open-ended purchases of government bonds from 2014; in a statement the BoJ said it will buy around $140bn each month of mostly government debt from January next year; euro/yen is now close to Y120; Jens Weidmann warns of a currency war, as ECB is now left stranded with the relatively tightest monetary policies of all major central banks in the world; Weidmann also warns that central bank independence is under threat; ECB lending to Greek banks increased to almost €20bn, after the ECB lifted the ban on Greek debt collateral; the Bank of Greece will return profits on ELA to the Greek state; Antonis Samaras tells the Greek privatisation agency to "whip up some action" to meet 2013 targets; the IMF is forecasting a €9.5bn funding gap in 2015/2016 for Greece; Poul Thomsen is quoted as saying that the IMF only accepted the Greek programme because it had received assurances that the eurozone would plug any funding gaps; in its latest progress report the IMF says the EU must either commit to more lending by the end of the year, or accept a 25% haircut on the official loans; the IMF says the risk of Grexit remains formidable, and calculates that it would be very costly to the European creditors; Spain's PP has ordered an extensive audit of the party's finances; the party is now beginning to intimidate the Spanish media over its reporting of the embezzlement scandal, with threats of legal action; more Spanish politicians have come forward to confirm cases that party funds have been misappropriated; the autonomous region of Valencia is so cash-strapped that it has to save on road lighting, yet it bails out  football clubs; emboldened by low yields, Spain is now sounding out the possibility of a 10-year bond; Spaniards are no longer only saving on new car purchases, but latest figures show they are also saving on car repairs; the eurozone is considering a maturity extension of its loans to Portugal and Ireland; Vittorio Grilli contradicts other Italian officials, and says that Italy will not need more austerity in 2013; the latest polls show that the Italian centre-right is ahead in the Senate race polls in the key regions of Lombardy, Campania, and Sicily; the IMF has started a series of stress tests of Italian banks; Mario Monti responds to Wolfgang Munchau, saying that without his reforms, Italy would not have made it through the crisis, and the ECB could not have launched the OMT; after caving in over Jerome Dijsselbloem, Pierre Moscivici now claims the top job at the European banking supervisor for France; Arnaud Leparmentier, meanwhile, criticises German duplicity, calling for European-wide solutions, yet exempting German banks from a banking union.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 05:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:13:08 AM EST
EUobserver.com / Headline News / EU officials want governments to share bank bailout pain

National governments should pay their own contribution to recapitalize ailing banks alongside funding from the eurozone's bail-out fund, according to a paper by EU officials.

Eurozone finance ministers are expected to discuss the plans when they convene on Monday (21 January) for their first Eurogroup meeting of 2013.

For their part, officials in the EU Council in an informal "Issues Note" leaked on Friday by the Wall Street Journal, propose that banks should be eligible for direct support only if national governments are unable to put up the cash themselves or if their failure is of systemic importance to either the member state or the eurozone as a whole.

Banks would also be eligible if they would otherwise breach rules on capital requirements requiring them to hold core capital worth at least 4.5 percent of the total value of financial instruments on their balance sheets.

But the officials also said that national governments should make a contribution to bank bailouts, with the paper noting: "It is suggested to have a contribution from the member state where the rescued institution is headquartered, so as to take into account the existence of legacy assets."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"It is suggested to have a contribution from the member state where the rescued institution is headquartered, so as to take into account the existence of legacy assets."

How about the member state winding down the bank, writing off the shareholders, making the bondholders shareholders and taking care, as best it may, of domestic creditors such as pension funds and retirement accounts and letting other countries do the same for their nationals?

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 10:02:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMF and Europe Disagreement Could Delay Cyprus Bailout Package - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Cyprus is in urgent need of money from the euro rescue fund, but the troika responsible for the bailouts is split over how it should be structured. The IMF is worried that the country's debt load is not sustainable.

When euro-zone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Monday, a welcome guest will be missing. Christine Lagarde, 57, the French managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is currently unwilling to discuss giving aid money to ailing euro-zone member Cyprus. For some time now, the Americans in particular have been eyeing the IMF's involvement in Europe with suspicion, causing the Frenchwoman to hit the brakes time and again. "I have no mandate for that" is a statement that the euro-zone finance ministers have heard only too often from Lagarde.

As such, it remains to be seen whether the IMF will ultimately participate in a loan program for Cyprus. A number of countries, Germany first and foremost, have said that IMF participation is crucial. The statutes of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone's €700 billion ($931 billion) permanent backstop fund, stipulate that the IMF must rubber stamp a country's debt sustainability before any cash can flow.

But this time around, the IMF is hesitating. A member of the troika which is currently negotiating the bailout deal with the Cypriot government, the IMF has an entirely different notion as to how the program should look.

In particular, there are differing points of view over whether the Mediterranean island nation will ever be able to repay its debts. According to current forecasts, the Cypriot debt load will grow to 140 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) by the year 2014.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dijsselbloem elected new Eurogroup chief | Business | DW.DE | 21.01.2013

Eurozone finance ministers have elected Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem as the Eurogroup's new chairman. He's succeeded Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg heading the group for eight years and throughout the debt crisis.

In a carefully staged handover of leadership powers, eurozone finance ministers on Monday night elected Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands the new chair of the Eurogroup. Being the only candidate, the 46-year-old Social Democrat finance minister formally announced his candidacy last Thursday in an address to his national parliament.

Clearing a last hurdle, Dijsselbloem managed to convince France of his manifesto for the job, with Paris demanding an open debate about how to get the 17-member single-currency area out of a spiral of austerity and recession.

The Dutchman follows Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister and a political heavyweight who'd been at the helm of the Eurogroup for eight years, most of which he'd spent trying to fight the eurozone's debt crisis.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:40:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeroen Dijsselbloem: determined Dutchman hoping to lead eurozone out of crisis | Business | guardian.co.uk

Jeroen Dijsselbloem had been finance minister of the Netherlands barely six weeks when his name was first floated as a possible head for the top eurozone decision-making body.

For a first-time minister previously best known as a specialist on agriculture and education, becoming the favourite to succeed the long-serving Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers is the latest stage in a dizzying rise.

But Dijsselbloem, 46, known in the 2000s as a radical leftist, has impressed in Brussels with a manner at once conciliatory and determined, and with his austere personal style.

He is widely expected to be confirmed in the job on Monday when finance ministers of the 17 countries sharing the euro gather to choose their new helmsman, after receiving the backing of several governments and that of Juncker himself.

Watching Dijsselbloem in action at one of his first Eurogroup meetings in December, an EU diplomat recalled being impressed at the steely determination with which he inserted himself into the debate alongside some of Europe's big names.

At one point during tense negotiations over banking union proposals, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, went into a meeting room with other heavyweights, including European commissioner Michel Barnier and the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi.

The diplomat described Dijsselbloem thinking for a moment, before walking to the door, knocking politely and firmly, and entering. He remained inside until they all emerged together with a deal.

"The guy's got guts and grace, I'll say that," the diplomat said. "You could almost see him thinking through the options and then resolving himself to action."

But his Dutch pedigree must have helped once he was in that negotiating room: he comes from one of the eurozone's few remaining triple-A-rated countries, and the Dutch are firmly in the German camp as sticklers for fiscal discipline.

His flawless English - he spent childhood summers at his parents' holiday home in England and is described by friends as an Anglophile - is another asset.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Grexit dead? The IMF seems to think not. | Brussels blog

When eurozone leaders finally reached agreement on an overhauled €173bn bailout of Greece last month, Antonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister, declared the prospect of his country leaving the euro to be over: "Solidarity in our union is alive; Grexit is dead."

But late on Friday, someone decided to resurrect it: the International Monetary Fund. In its first report on the Greek bailout since last month's deal, the IMF was unexpectedly explicit on the risks that Greece still faces, including the potential for full-scale default and euro exit.

In fact, the 260-page report includes a three-page box explicitly dedicated to examining the fallout if Greece were to be forced out of the euro, which we've posted here. The box, titled "Greece as a Source of Contagion", concludes that while the eurozone has improved its defences, it still remains hugely vulnerable to shocks that would come following Grexit.

For the IMF, the main reason to continue to fear Grexit is the likelihood of political instability. In a section of the report evaluating the risks facing the programme, it presents a pretty bleak picture of the chances Athens has to execute the bailout's strictures, even though it says the Samaras government has shown newfound ownership of the programme:

Greece is attempting to achieve an unprecedented amount of fiscal and current account adjustment under a fixed exchange rate, with a massive debt overhang, and weak confidence....

A key risk for the program is diminishing support for reforms, particularly as Greece endures another year of deep recession. The latest opinion polls show dwindling support for the coalition parties and growing support for Syriza and other anti-program parties. This could go beyond implementation delays, and lead to a political crisis, triggering debt default and/or euro exit.

The three-page box presents not only a worrying picture of Greece, but also raises some profound questions about the efficacy of the instrument most analysts point to as having led to the current calm: the European Central Bank's limitless bond-buying programme, known as Outright Monetary Transactions.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:42:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:44:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fed's 2007 Transcripts Show Shift to Alarm - WSJ.com
Federal Reserve officials in 2007 appeared to underestimate the sickly condition of U.S. financial markets before shifting to a state of growing alarm, according to 1,566 pages of newly released transcripts from the central bank's meetings that year.

The transcripts, made public by the central bank after a traditional five-year lag, provide the most complete view yet of decision-making inside the nation's central bank at the dawn of a historic crisis, and provide fresh insight into the thinking of several key players still on the economic scene.

During most of the year, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke embraced only reluctantly the interventionist stance that has defined his stewardship of the central bank. In December 2007, he said he was "quite conflicted" about whether to cut interest rates sharply. At other times, he talked about wanting to avoid bailing out financial markets, institutions or people.

Janet Yellen, the Fed's No. 2 who is now a leading contender to succeed Mr. Bernanke when his term expires in January 2014, emerges as one of the Fed's more prescient voices. Early in the crisis, she became alarmed about the impact of housing-market stresses on the economy, and became a leading advocate for aggressive action.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:47:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, i only he could have stayed his hand. We'd have lost GS and so many more of the parasites

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:18:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:13:13 AM EST
BBC News - Mali conflict: French troops 'seize' Diabaly, Douentza

French and Malian troops have seized the key Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza from militant Islamists, the French defence minister has said.

A BBC reporter in Diabaly says the town bears the scars of conflict, with burnt-out vehicles and chunks of shrapnel strewn on the ground.

Islamist fighters fled Diabaly and Douentza last week after a French bombing campaign started on 11 January.

Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi has condemned France's actions.

"We never accept military intervention in Mali, because this will exacerbate conflict in the region," he said at an Arab economic summit in Saudi Arabia.

France has sent some 2,000 troops to help Malian forces fight the militants, saying it entered the conflict because the insurgents, in control of the north, were advancing south, threatening to turn Mali into a "terrorist state".

It has called on the West African regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), to speed up the planned deployment of a force of more than 3,000.

But during a visit to Berlin, Ecowas chairman and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to send troops.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 04:53:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
West overlooked risk of Libya weapons reaching Mali, says expert | World news | guardian.co.uk

Urgent efforts to secure anti-aircraft missiles from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi blinded western governments to the danger of other weapons going missing and fuelling conflicts in Mali and elsewhere, an expert says.

Reliable information about the source of arms being used by Islamist rebels in Mali is hard to come by, but much of it appears to come from Libya. In one striking case, Belgian-manufactured landmines originally supplied to Gaddafi's army appear to have been used by the jihadi militants who attacked BP's In Amenas gas facility in Algeria last week.

The US, working with Britain and France, focused on securing shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, known as Manpads (man-operated portable air defense systems). Britain's Ministry of Defence said last year it had located 5,000 of an estimated 20,000 in Libya.

Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch, said his organisation had warned of the risks if Libya's conventional weapons were looted.

"From March 2011 these governments were solely focused on the Manpads," he told the Guardian. "We tried to get them to pay greater attention to other weapons but were unable to put them on their agenda. The Manpads were a very serious matter and you can imagine what a nightmare it would have been for the US or UK if one of their civilian planes was shot down by a Manpad that had gone missing in Libya when they supported the opposition."

Dyncorp, a US contractor, used former US special forces and CIA agents equipped with armoured vehicles and satellite communications to locate the missiles. "But when we tried to raise the need to take broader measures, their eyes glazed over and they said they were contracted to deal only with the Manpads," Bouckaert recalled.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:02:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Algeria Premier Says 37 Foreigners Died in Attack - WSJ.com

Algeria's Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said Monday that 37 foreigners and one Algerian security guard died during the attack on a remote natural-gas complex conducted by Islamist militants from at least five countries, including Canada.

Also Monday, the U.S. State Department said three Americans were among the dead and that seven other U.S. citizens survived the attack. Japan confirmed the deaths of seven Japanese nationals.

Mr. Sellal, in his first public comments on the four-day deadly standoff that ended Saturday, said seven of the foreign victims remained unidentified after the lethal raid that illustrated the risks posed by violent al Qaeda-linked extremists roaming across the vast Sahara.

"It's a sad thing that innocent victims were killed in the terrorist attack," Mr. Sellal said in a televised news conference.

The premier said 32 heavily armed militants drove into Algeria from Northern Mali on Wednesday with the aim of capturing foreign hostages at the In Amenas site, located near the Libyan border.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:05:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Algeria hostage crisis: claims of Canadian leader raises fears | World news | The Guardian

News that the attack at In Amenas was apparently led by a Canadian appeared to confirm reports that the region, especially the northern areas of Mali that are now controlled by violent Islamists, has become a magnet for radicals from all over the world.

The Maghreb Emergent website had already quoted one Algerian worker at the gas installation as saying that the kidnappers included Libyans, Egyptian and Syrian radicals.

"Several of the group that are holding us speak Arabic with foreign accents," the anonymous Algerian said. "I have heard Egyptian and Tunisian accents and even one person who spoke in a Syrian accent."

Volunteers are also travelling to the region from Europe, according to experts. Some 20 radical Islamists have disappeared from Spain in recent months and are thought by the country's security services to have joined fighters in Mali, according to La Razón newspaper.

Fernando Reinares, a terrorism expert at Madrid's Elcano Royal Institute, said that the violent Islamist groups in the region had been recruiting in Europe and offering armed training for at least five years - but that numbers travelling there had increased dramatically since they grabbed control of part of Mali.

"Some have compared the situation to Afghanistan or Somalia, but I think the proper analogy is with the tribal zones of northern Pakistan," he said. "We have a territory where different groups have come together and evicted the state's authority. Once that is done, it becomes a focus for like-minded people."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:07:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian troops battle rebels around Damascus as air raid kills at least 7 outside the capital - The Washington Post

Syrian government troops battled rebels in several areas outside Damascus on Sunday while regime warplanes bombed opposition-held areas around the capital, including an airstrike on one village that killed at least seven people, activists said.

Rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad have seized swaths of territory in northern Syria but have become bogged down in their push for Damascus, where government troops are still firmly in control. While the opposition fighters have established footholds in suburbs east and south of the capital, Assad's forces have kept them from advancing into the heart of the city and regularly hit them with artillery and airstrikes.

Much of the fighting Sunday was focused in areas east and south of the city, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, while government jets were bombing rebel areas.

An airstrike on the village of al-Barika, southeast of the capital, killed at least seven people, including five members of the same family, the Observatory said. Other activists provided the names of the dead, including the mother and father of the Shehadeh family and three of their children.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:08:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moscow begins evacuation of Russians from Syria | World news | The Guardian

The Russian government has said it is sending two planes to Lebanon to evacuate Russians from Syria, the first such effort since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The emergency situations ministry said two of its planes would fly to Beirut on Tuesday to bring home more than 100 Russians.

The announcement appears to reflect Moscow's increasing doubts about Assad's ability to cling to power and growing concerns about the safety of its citizens. Russia's foreign ministry has said it has contingency plans in place to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria.

Russia has been the main ally of Assad since the start of the conflict, using its veto power at the United Nations security council to shield the Syrian president from sanctions.

On Monday the secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, said the mission of the international envoy tasked with resolving Syria's crisis had yielded not even a "flicker of hope".

Addressing the opening session of a two-day Arab economic summit in Saudi Arabia, Elaraby proposed that the gathered heads of state call for an immediate meeting of the UN security council to adopt a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Syria and a monitoring force to ensure compliance.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israeli elections set to amplify religious voice in Knesset | World news | guardian.co.uk

Religious and ultra-orthodox Jews and inhabitants of West Bank settlements are expected to have disproportionately high representation in the new Israeli parliament, to be elected on Tuesday.

More than a third of members of the 19th Knesset are expected to be entering parliament for the first time, a much higher turnover of political representatives than in previous elections.

"There will be an over-representation of the religious and ultra-orthodox - around one in three members of the Knesset, according to the latest polls," said Ofer Kenig, of the Israel Democracy Institute. About one in five members of the last Knesset were religious or ultra-orthodox, he said.

"This is a very significant change. The explanation is not necessarily the demographic growth of this sector but the success of religious parties in attracting support from secular and traditional voters."

He said there would be "a very high representation of Jewish settlers", up to 20 of the 120 members of the Knesset. Less than 5% of Israel's population lives in West Bank settlements.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brian Whitaker's blog, January 2013

Two British MPs have raised concerns in parliament about taxpayer subsidies for charities that support settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Charities registered in Britain are entitled to various tax benefits regardless of where they operate, provided their activities are entirely charitable.

But can fund-raising for settlers truly be considered charitable when most of the world - Britain included - regards the settlements as illegal? Assisting this activity through tax subsidies also conflicts with the British government's declared policy on settlements as well as its international obligations.

UN Security Council Resolution 465, for instance, calls upon all states "not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories".

In 2005, the European Council also called for "the abolition of financial and tax incentives and direct and indirect subsidies, and the withdrawal of exemptions benefiting the settlements and their inhabitants".

In Norway last year, following calls for the government to comply fully with Resolution 465, the finance ministry withdrew tax benefits from a charity called Karmel-instituttet in order to "ensure that the system of tax deductions does not benefit organisations that actively support or contribute to acts that are in contravention of international law". 

The Norwegian ministry said the decision was based on information from Karmel-instituttet about its funding of settlements and its stated intention to continue providing such support. Funds collected by Karmel-instituttet are said to have provided 23 caravan homes and three "study centres" for the settler outpost of Alonei Shilo in the occupied territories. 

So far, though, the British government has been less than forthcoming on this issue.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One is beginning to see similar sentiments being expressed in the USA, where sympathy for Israel has gradually drained away in the face of the right wing demagoguery of Netenyahu and Lieberman.

To see Israel lurch even further to the right ill not do it any favours. If Obama meant something by the appointment of Hagel, then this could become interesting

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All is not well in northern Iraq's oilfields - Features - Al Jazeera English

In northern Iraq, ethnic Kurdish security forces called peshmerga patrol the poorly defined border of the country's Kurdish region, with clear orders to keep Iraqi army troops out.

"Everyone here is on alert," Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reported from near the internal border on January 17. With both sides fully armed, he said, "any mistake could lead to a violent conflict".

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claims the right to freely move soldiers anywhere in the country, but the country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says this is unconstitutional.

As in so many other conflicts around the world, the presence of oil is raising the stakes and the tensions. Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region is so oil-rich that in some places, the stuff literally oozes out of the ground.

The KRG is using this oil to flex its political muscle and its growing independence from Baghdad: Earlier this month, a truck laden with crude oil from Iraq's Kurdish region delivered its wares to the Turkish port of Mersin, on the Mediterranean Sea - marking the first time that the KRG has exported oil directly to world markets.

Going around Baghdad

"Big Oil loves Iraqi Kurdistan - compared to Baghdad," energy expert and journalist Pepe Escobar told Al Jazeera. The region's oil bounty and a friendly investment climate have induced major oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron to circumvent Baghdad, inking deals instead with the KRG, which is based in Erbil, about 300km north of Baghdad.


All is not well in Iraq. More turmoil is close at hand - an analysis I read over the weekend is that groups of Sunni's are stirring in Iraq, and Maliki is rattling sabres with the Kurdish as a distraction. It's a shell game, but risky.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When it comes to oil politics, nobody wants to share the pie. Ever

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:24:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama sets out goals in inauguration speech: 'we are made for this moment' | World news | guardian.co.uk

Barack Obama used his second-term inaugural address to issue a powerful call to action, as he embraced an unashamedly liberal agenda and urged Americans to reclaim from conservatives the spirit of the founding fathers.

Speaking in front of Congress after renewing his presidential oath of office before a crowd of about half a million, the 45th US president pledged that he would battle against poverty and prejudice, deliver equality for gay people, tackle climate change and give young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

Conscious that so many second terms end in failure and disappointment, he held out the prospect of bucking history. "America's possibilities are limitless ... My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it so long as we seize it together," Obama said.

His speech was steeped in the language of the US constitution and in rhetorical references to Martin Luther King, underlining the symbolism of the inauguration taking place on the national holiday that celebrates the civil rights leader.

As a result it was more inspirational than the largely disappointing address in 2009. Then, faced with unrealistic hopes for his presidency and with the country caught up in he worst economic crisis since the 1930s, he had to dampen expectations.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Promises to Act on Climate Change - Washington Wire - WSJ

President Barack Obama vowed to "respond to the threat of climate change," using his second inaugural address to press an environmental agenda that Republicans blocked in his first term.

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," Mr. Obama said. "Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms."

Environmentalists cheered the remarks, hoping that Mr. Obama would push harder to control greenhouse-gas emissions than he did in his first term. Republicans, many of whom are skeptical about global warming, were silent on a day when the GOP caucus was doing its best to tamp down long-held feelings of frustration with the Obama administration.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly pledged to make climate a second-term priority, but his options are limited. Legislation to curb emissions of greenhouse gases died in the Democratic-controlled Senate in 2010, and House Republicans aren't likely to take it up again. Likewise, the House GOP is opposed to a tax on carbon.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:22:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,"

It is to his credit that he at least made this statement on this occasion. But it will take one Hell of a victory in the 2014 elections even to begin to make good on his promises. We will see soon enough if he, or anyone, begins laying the groundwork for such an effort. A good start would include giving some publicity to the rate of decline of production from such 'plays' as the Bakken. Given the rate of decline the wells would have to recoup 68% of the cost of drilling in the first year to break even. From figures they give for that to happen oil would have to sell at $182/bbl. Investors are in fact donors.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 10:42:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stop, rather than subsidize, construction in high-risk zones. - Obama and the Environment: What He Can Do: High-Risk Insurance Subsidies - MensJournal.com
The president and Congress should cut federal subsidies that keep the price of insurance in some high-risk zones (flood plains, coastal areas threatened by rising seas, and regions prone to wildfires) artificially - and disastrously - low. "If we had never created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the private market would be charging much higher premiums and it would be much more of a deterrent for people living in these places," says Eileen Fretz, director of flood management at the non-profit, American Rivers. While we're not likely to completely end government-backed insurance, last June Congress passed legislation that cut NFIP funding for businesses, second homes, and repeat beneficiaries (that is, homes that flooded multiple times). This is a good start, but we need to do more: stop giving taxpayer protection, and indirectly encouraging development, to communities behind levees. We also need to actively protect our most valuable flood protection infrastructure - wetlands, barrier islands, and dune beaches. Similar opportunities lie in the nation's wildfire "red zones," where the government is spending $3 billion a year on wildfire protection. "We ain't seen nothing yet," says Ray Rasker, an economist and director of Headwaters Economics. Only 16 percent of private wildland now has homes, he says. "Put climate change on top of new development, and you have a crisis." He suggests cutting support for construction of at-risk homes, doing away with breaks like the federal mortgage tax deduction.
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:40:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Homes built in flood prone or high fire risk areas should not qualify for FHA or VA loan guarantee programs, for starters.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 10:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid the Obama is long on rhetoric but I'm more interested in what he achieves. More of the same as the last 4 years is not acceptable, the US is too deep in the shit

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turout so far is much higher than last year. The Minister of Education expresses his concern that the turnout is particularly high in areas in which the non-far right (he uses the term "left") is strong, and that they are working to increase turnout among Likud and Israel Our Home voters.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 06:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Update (17:23  Israel time): The Likud is starting to panic. Highest turnout in a long time, but low turnout in Likud strongholds (exceptionally low turnout in Arab districts as well, but that doesn't seem to bother any one).


No idea what turnout among the Haredis are and whether the Williamsburg Satmar Rebbe Teitelbaum's visit right now is having any effect. Sample

"[T]here is no stricter prohibition in the Torah than [than the one forbidding] participating in the elections. The ideas of Zionism include all the heresy and apostasy. Refuting the decree of the Diaspora, Providence and the coming of the Messiah...The government is apostasy and heresy, and a revolt against God's divinity," he added, "and those who help enter the government are part of it, accessories. This must not be done under any circumstances."...
Or
Tens of thousands of copies of a children's book depicting Zionists as Nazi collaborators have been published and distributed in haredi areas of Israel by Satmar hasidim in the hope that this propaganda will influence the parents of those children and cause them not to vote in today's national elections, Behadrei Haredim reports.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 10:34:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:13:23 AM EST
EU hails global deal on cutting mercury emissions | EurActiv

The European Commission has hailed a UN agreement that will establish the first global treaty to cut mercury pollution. Specific household items will be blacklisted and new controls on power plants and small-scale mines will be introduced, the United Nations said on Saturday (19 January).

The agreement, reached among more than 140 countries, is legally binding and aims to phase out many products that use the toxic liquid metal such as batteries, thermometers and some fluorescent lamps. This will happen through the banning of global import and exports by 2020.

The treaty will require countries with coal-fired power plants such as India and China to install filters on new plants. They also have to commit to reducing emissions from existing operations to prevent mercury from coal reaching the atmosphere.

"We have reached a robust, balanced and dynamic environmental agreement," said Janez Potočnik, the EU Commissioner for the Environment.

"Whilst the EU has an overarching strategy for controlling mercury at all stages of the mercury life-cycle, such controls are unfortunately lacking in many parts of the world. This new Treaty will bring benefits to all populations around the world, including the citizens of the EU given the long distances that mercury can travel in the air," Potočnik said.

The environment commissioner added that pregnant women, infants and children are at particular risk from exposure to mercury in the food chain and the new treaty will significantly decrease their exposure to the toxic substance

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Central Europeans restive over German renewables | EurActiv

Three Central European policymakers - a civil servant, an academic and a business leader - lined up to question the EU's renewables policy at a Brussels think tank last week, expressing concern over the instability of the German power grid.

Record lows were reported in trading on 2014 energy deliveries as analysts predicted that 18% of German electricity demand could soon be met by solar panels unconnected to the country's grid system, leading to over supply.

Germany desperately needs to upgrade its dilapidated grid system, which currently funnels renewable energy from north to south through third countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Małgorzata Mika-Bryska, deputy energy director at Poland's economics ministry, complained that German energy re-routing was causing "serious problems with our security of supply".

More action from the Commission to spur German grid building was needed than "just one sentence in a [internal energy market] communication," she said. "We need a rapid solution now because last year when we had a very heavy winter in our region, we were very close to blackouts."

The scale of the German energy supply problem has led one member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner, to call for the partial nationalisation of Germany's electricity grid.  

Aigner's Christian Social Union - the Bavarian sister group of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union - supported her call.

Historic mistake

The sale of German power grids to companies such as E.On, RWE and Vattenfall is widely seen as a historic mistake, which now hinders moves to create a modern national grid, according to reports in Der Spiegel magazine.

Federal government plans will require the four grid operators to build 1,550 km of high-voltage lines - including several direct-current transmission lines - and connect dozens of wind farms to the terrestrial power grid by underwater cables.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:25:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Wind Power Accounted for 6% of Generation Capacity in 2012 - Bloomberg

U.S. wind power accounted for 6 percent of the nation's total electricity generation capacity after developers rushed to finish projects before expiration of a subsidy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

The threat that the U.S. Production Tax Credit would lapse on Dec. 31 prompted developers to complete as many projects as they could last month, the London-based research group said. A record 13.2 gigawatts of turbines were installed last year including 5.5 gigawatts in December, the most ever for a single month. Total wind capacity is about 60 gigawatts.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mark Lynas » Germany's `Energiewende' - the story so far

My conclusion so far is that unfortunately Germany's `renewables revolution' is at best making no difference to the country's carbon emissions, and at worst pushing them marginally upwards. Thus, tens (or even hundreds, depending on who you believe) of billions of euros are being spent on expensive solar PV and wind installations for no climatic benefit whatsoever.

Although I have been unable to find clear figures for the changing CO2 intensity of German electricity (if anyone has them, please post in the comments below), nuclear's fall of 1.7% almost exactly equals the rise in renewables of 1.6% between 2011 and 2012. This means that the dramatic and admirable increase in renewable generation in Germany is simply a story of low-carbon baseload from nuclear being replaced by low-carbon intermittent supply from wind and solar (which, incidentally, also raises system costs by making the grid harder to manage due to intermittency).

Thus Germany is squandering its opportunity to meet its climate targets more quickly, easily and reliably because of an irrational public aversion to nuclear power. I have tried to engage Energiewende true believers in a debate about this, but have so far been unable to get any acknowledgement that coal is worse on every score than nuclear - not just in terms of CO2 emissions (obviously) but because coal kills hundreds of Germans every year from straightforward air pollution.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:40:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This fellow is a liar.
The data he quotes don't support his conclusion :
My conclusion so far is that unfortunately Germany's `renewables revolution' is at best making no difference to the country's carbon emissions, and at worst pushing them marginally upwards.

What he actually means is that renewables are replacing nuclear. i.e. renewables are indeed reducing carbon emissions, all else being equal -- which is the only reasonable measure. He seems to be "blaming" renewables for the decline in nuclear production -- an astonishingly anthropomorphic argument!

I also find it remarkable that he doesn't mention that the collapse of the EU's carbon market, a striking event of 2012, contributed strongly to the shift from gas to coal, and thus to carbon intensity.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 12:05:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mars may have supported life: Martian underground could contain clues to life's origins
Minerals found in the subsurface of Mars, a zone of more than three miles below ground, make for the strongest evidence yet that the red planet may have supported life, according to research "Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere," published in Nature Geoscience on January 20, 2013.

Up to half of all life on Earth consists of simple microorganisms hidden in rocks beneath the surface and for some time, scientists have suggested that the same may be true for Mars. Now this theory has been supported by new research, which suggests that the ingredients for life have been present in the Martian subsurface for much of the planet's history.

When meteorites strike the surface of Mars, they act like natural probes, bringing up rocks from far beneath the surface. Recent research has shown that many of the rocks brought up from the Martian subsurface contain clays and minerals whose chemical make-up has been altered by water, an essential element to support life. Some deep craters on Mars also acted as basins where groundwater likely emerged to produce lakes.

McLaughlin Crater, described in this study, is one such basin that contains clay and carbonate minerals formed in an ancient lake on Mars. The fluids that formed these minerals could carry clues to as to whether the subsurface contained life.

"We don't know how life on Earth formed but it is conceivable that it originated underground, protected from harsh surface conditions that existed on early Earth. Due to plate tectonics, however, the early geological record of Earth is poorly preserved so we may never know what processes led to life's origin and early evolution," said Dr Joseph Michalski, lead author and planetary geologist at the Natural History Museum in London. "Exploring these rocks on Mars, where the ancient geologic record is better preserved than on Earth, would be like finding a stack of pages that have been ripped out of Earth's geological history book. Whether the Martian geologic record contains life or not, analysis of these types of rocks would certainly teach us a tremendous amount about early chemical processes in the solar system."

Abstract here.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:40:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Gamma-ray burst 'hit Earth in 8th Century'

A gamma ray burst, the most powerful explosion known in the Universe, may have hit the Earth in the 8th Century.

In 2012 researchers found evidence that our planet had been struck by a blast of radiation during the Middle Ages, but there was debate over what kind of cosmic event could have caused this.

Now a study suggests it was the result of two black holes or neutron stars merging in our galaxy.

This collision would have hurled out vast amounts of energy.

The research is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Last year, a team of researchers found that some ancient cedar trees in Japan had an unusual level of a radioactive type of carbon known as carbon-14.

In Antarctica, too, there was a spike in levels of a form of beryllium - beryllium-10 - in the ice.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:49:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK scientists bid to mimic plant energy creation | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Scientists are attempting to mimic the way plants harness energy from the sun in order to make a more efficient renewable fuel.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are embarking on an £800,000 project to replicate photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into sugars to help them grow.

The process will be used to create hydrogen, which can be used as a zero-emission fuel for cars, or converted into green electricity.

It is hoped the method, which involves placing tiny solar panels on microbes to harness sunlight and drive the production of hydrogen, will be a more efficient way of converting the sun's energy than currently exists.

Lead researcher Prof Julea Butt, from UEA, said: "Reserves of fossil fuels are dwindling and fuel prices are rising, so it's really vital that we look to renewable energy supplies.

"Many renewable energy supplies such as sunlight, wind and the waves remain largely untapped resources.

"This is mainly due to the challenges that exist in converting these energy forms into fuels from which energy can be released on demand - for example when we want to switch on a light, boil water, play computer games or drive a car."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 03:36:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:13:29 AM EST
BBC News - 'Quadruple helix' DNA seen in human cells

Cambridge University scientists say they have seen four-stranded DNA at work in human cells for the first time.

The famous "molecule of life", which carries our genetic code, is more familiar to us as a double helix.

But researchers tell the journal Nature Chemistry that the "quadruple helix" is also present in our cells, and in ways that might possibly relate to cancer.

They suggest that control of the structures could provide novel ways to fight the disease.

"The existence of these structures may be loaded when the cell has a certain genotype or a certain dysfunctional state," said Prof Shankar Balasubramanian from Cambridge's department of chemistry.

"We need to prove that; but if that is the case, targeting them with synthetic molecules could be an interesting way of selectively targeting those cells that have this dysfunction," he told BBC News.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:50:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini's millions | World news | The Guardian

Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James's Square and Pall Mall.

But these office blocks in one of London's most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.

Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

Since then the international value of Mussolini's nest-egg has mounted until it now exceeds £500m. In 2006, at the height of the recent property bubble, the Vatican spent £15m of those funds to buy 30 St James's Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street and in the city of Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.

The surprising aspect for some will be the lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions. The St James's Square office block was bought by a company called British Grolux Investments Ltd, which also holds the other UK properties. Published registers at Companies House do not disclose the company's true ownership, nor make any mention of the Vatican.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey wages 'cultural war' in pursuit of its archaeological treasures | World news | The Guardian

Turkey has been accused of cultural chauvinism and attempting to blackmail some of the world's most important museums in the wake of its demands for the return of thousands of archaeological treasures.

According to cultural chiefs in Berlin, Paris and New York, Turkey has threatened to bar foreign archaeologists from excavation sites in the country by not renewing their digging permits if governments refuse to return artefacts that Ankara says were unlawfully removed from Turkish soil. It has also threatened to halt the lending of its treasures to foreign museums, they say.

The government in Ankara, emboldened by the country's growing diplomatic and economic clout, has repeatedly said that the retrieval of the artefacts is part of a policy it intends to pursue for years, if necessary, calling it a "cultural war". However, it denies withholding permits as a form of leverage.

But the German Archaeological Institute, founded in 1829 and responsible for some of Turkey's most important excavation sites, says it has already felt the wrath of the Turkish authorities, after they threatened to withdraw excavation permits unless a huge 3,300-year-old Hittite sphinx was returned. When the sphinx arrived back in Turkey to much fanfare last year, permits for reconditioning and restoration work were renewed but those for digging remained outstanding.

Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, which among other collections oversees the city's Pergamon Museum, has accused Turkey of "playing a nasty game of politics" and of "threatening the future" of scientific work and other collaborations.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:58:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kim Dotcom: Mega relaunch | The Economist

THERE are less conspicuous ways to launch a business. A staged helicopter raid and a synchronised dance routine that would put Korean rapper Psy to shame were the sideline attractions as German-born entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, a 39-year old whose bluster is as big as his waistline, returned to public life with his new site, Mega. Much like Megaupload, Mr Dotcom's previous troublesome offering, Mega works as a file storage and sharing service.

The site claims more than 1m users have registered since its launch in New Zealand yesterday, which is not an implausible number since Mr Dotcom is something of an internet celebrity. The website's servers seem unable to cope with the large initial interest. Those who sign up to the website will have access to 50 gigabytes of free storage space to store and share files with other users--ten times the free storage space provided by Google Drive, and 25 times the amount offered by Dropbox, the two major competitors in the field.

Mr Dotcom claimed yesterday that "nothing will stop Mega," before sounding a bellicose war cry from his (rather large) lungs. That remains to be seen.

His previous website, Megaupload, was seized and shut down by America's Department of Justice a year ago amidst claims of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. While Google Drive serves mainly as a collaboration tool for workers in businesses (allowing several users to simultaneously work on the same document in real time), and Dropbox is often used by media professionals to transfer proofs of a magazine page or billboard design, Megaupload was used by many to share illegally-downloaded music and movies, a complaint by the Motion Picture Association of America alleged.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:59:36 PM EST
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Amour wins hearts at London Critics' Circle film awards | Film | guardian.co.uk

Michael Haneke's Oscar contender Amour was the big winner at the London Critics' Circle film awards last night, taking three of the top prizes, including film of the year.

The Palme D'Or winner, which is nominated for five Academy awards, also won screenplay of the year for Haneke's French-language script about an elderly couple dealing with the aftermath of a debilitating stroke. Emmanuelle Riva was named actress of the year for her lead portrayal.

Another big winner at the Mayfair Hotel in London was Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, which has had a relatively disappointing awards season so far. The period drama took best actor for Joaquin Phoenix and best supporting actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman, both of whom are also nominated for Oscars. Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her Golden Globe-winning turn as Fantine in Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, which is up for eight Academy awards. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter, who also appears in the musical, was honoured with the Dilys Powell award for excellence in film.

Elsewhere, Ang Lee took the prize for director of the year for his film Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel's Booker prize-winning novel. The fantasy adventure, which is nominated for 11 Oscars, also won a technical award for its use of 3D special effects. Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone won the prize for best foreign-language film.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 06:02:02 PM EST
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Neelie Kroes blog - Internet and filtering applications: a tale of choice and revenues - European Commission

The original version of this article was published in French by the newspaper Liberation.

**

Last week, controversy erupted when FREE blocked advertising on internet services routed through its "FreeBox". Internet content providers who rely on advertising to provide free content to consumers were furious.

On net neutrality, consumers need effective choice on the type of internet subscription they sign up to. That means real clarity, in non-technical language. About effective speeds in normal conditions, and about any restrictions imposed on traffic - and a realistic option to switch to a "full" service, without such restrictions, offered by their own provider or another. Ensuring consumer choice can mean constraints on others - in this case, an obligation for all internet service providers to offer an accessible "full" option to their customers.

Goodbye Net neutrality in Europe...

But such choice should also drive innovation and investment by internet providers, with benefits for all. I am preparing a Commission initiative to secure this effective consumer choice in Europe.

Ah yes: "innovation and investment by internet providers", let's not forget... Supposedly coming "with benefits for all", the good old trickle-down effect, courtesy of your ISP.

by Bernard on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 10:28:15 AM EST
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by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:20:08 AM EST


Europe on this date in history:

1506 - foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, when the first contingent of Swiss soldiers, sent to protect the Pope, entered Rome

More here and here

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 03:26:03 AM EST
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Sam Cooke was born. for another side of him check this out. and don't forget to see the white dresses surround him at the end.



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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 08:46:04 AM EST
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Sadly he was gone before his music registered on me.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 09:00:15 AM EST
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by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 02:20:33 AM EST
BBC News - Prince Harry in Afghanistan: I fired at enemy

Prince Harry shot at Taliban insurgents during his time as an Army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, he says.

The prince, whose five-month deployment to the country has just ended, spoke about his role as an Apache co-pilot gunner, and whether he had killed.

"Yeah, so lots of people have. The squadron's been out here. Everyone's fired a certain amount," he said.

"If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:22:39 PM EST
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I think it was very ill advised to say anything like that. It cannot but be used in pro-taliban propaganda

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:33:40 AM EST
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What sort of pro-taliban propaganda?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 11:56:17 AM EST
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This sort

Add a few actual quotation and they'll be partying in Waziristan tonight

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 12:23:09 PM EST
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So the jackal did kill a couple of lions then? Even while drunk?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 12:44:12 PM EST
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Denmark rules that both men and women's haircuts must cost the SAME PRICE | Mail Online

Denmark, which like its Nordic neighbours prides itself on promoting equal treatment for men and women, has taken gender equality all the way to the beauty salon.

A ruling last month by Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment effectively stated that price differences between men's and women's haircuts were illegal.

It ordered a salon advertising women's haircuts for 528 crowns - £59 - and men's haircuts for 428 crowns - £48 - plus an extra fee for long hair, to pay 2,500 crowns - £281- to a woman who had filed a complaint.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 06:17:20 PM EST
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..the sharp suited ones

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 09:45:04 AM EST
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good stuff

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 12:18:43 PM EST
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Lance Armstrong helps OWN towards breakeven | Advanced Television
The Oprah Winfrey interview with cyclist Lance Armstrong generated 3.1 million US viewers to the full telecast, a record for OWN, the Winfrey-fronted channel (and totalled 4.3m with a later repeat), plus millions more around the world. OWN charged $100,000 per 30-second advert during the commercial breaks, a huge premium on the channel's normal rate-card of $12,000 per spot.
by Bernard on Tue Jan 22nd, 2013 at 10:03:42 AM EST
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... doping her ratings...

I'm SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED

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

by eurogreen on Wed Jan 23rd, 2013 at 03:19:18 AM EST
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