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31 January 2013

by dvx Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:46:37 AM EST

Your take on today's news media


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  • EUROPE - the public affairs of the European continent and the EU.
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EUROPE


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:47:44 AM EST
BBC News - Europe police 'smash people-smuggling ring'

Police have arrested 103 people suspected of being part of a "major people-smuggling criminal network", says EU police agency Europol.

The suspects are accused of smuggling people from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria into the EU.

They were transported in "inhuman" conditions, Europol said.

The arrests, part of a Europe-wide operation, took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Europol said it was one of the largest ever co-ordinated actions against people-traffickers.

The agency said 1,200 police were involved in Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic, Turkey and Kosovo.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:22:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Russia scraps US anti-drug accord after 10 years

The Russian government has abandoned an agreement with the US on fighting crime and the drugs trade, in an apparent sign of worsening relations.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the decade-long agreement no longer addressed "realities" and had "exhausted its potential".

The agreement saw the US funding anti-crime projects in Russia.

Meanwhile, two US pro-democracy groups have helped staff who were reportedly threatened with arrest to flee Russia.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute closed their Moscow offices last year after laws were passed cracking down on organisations which receive foreign funding.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:23:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cumbria rejects underground nuclear storage dump | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Government plans to undertake preliminary work on an underground storage dump for nuclear waste were rejected by Cumbria county council on Wednesday, adding a major roadblock to plans for a long term solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

The county and its western district councils Allerdale and Copeland which make up the "nuclear coast" opposite the Isle of Man were the only local authorities in the UK still involved in feasibility studies for the £12bn disposal facility.

Cumbria's cabinet voted 7-3 against research continuing, after evidence from independent geologists that the fractured strata of the county was impossible to entrust with such dangerous material and a hazard lasting millennia. An impassioned campaign by environmentalists also raised fears for the western Lake District, winning backing from the Lake District national park authority and hundreds of influential landscape groups in the UK and overseas.

Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, said the government would continue to search for an underground storage site. "We remain firmly committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of radioactive waste. We also remain committed to the principles of voluntarism and a community-led approach.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:23:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is revenge for the way Cumbria has been unwittingly treated as a nuclear waste dump and irradiation testing ground since the 50s

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:22:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany marks the roots of Hitler's Nazi dictatorship | News | DW.DE | 30.01.2013

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was named Reichskanzler. Germany's present-day chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said it's crucial to mark Germany's dark history - as Hitler's rise was aided by the majority's silence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened an exhibition at the center documenting the Nazi era in Berlin called "Berlin 1933 - the path into dictatorship." Almost simultaneously, representatives in the German Bundestag held a ceremony in memorial of the victims of Adolf Hitler's rule.

Merkel said that Germany's descent into fascism should serve as a reminder that human rights and basic decency do not happen by themselves, but rather require courageous and vigilant people to protect them.

Hitler was able to take power "because parts of the elite and society played along, but above all because the greatest majority of Germans tolerated him," Merkel said. "Because a broad majority simply looked away and kept quiet."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:23:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the name of the version of Godwin's Law where, when someone mentions the rise of Hitler, you try not to mention austerity?

Do we need a "Godwin number" for how far these laws are from the original?


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:35:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We've lost the war on drugs: Exclusive Mirror poll reveals 75% say Government has lost battle - Mirror Online

The tragic deaths of five young people from a rogue batch of ecstasy put the war on drugs firmly back in the spotlight.

But an exclusive poll for the Daily Mirror today reveals 75% of people believe the Government has lost that battle.

And our survey also found 1.4 million Brits will use drugs this week.

Worryingly, some of those quizzed admitted they were as young as 11 when they started taking illegal substances.

After the shock findings, former police chief Tom Lloyd urged ministers to decriminalise drugs and take power away from the gang bosses who make millions from the sickening trade while destroying the lives of addicts and their helpless families.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:30:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Decriminalizing won't take the drug supply chain away from criminal, only legalising will do that

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:23:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My preferred solution would be to start handing them out for free instead.

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 Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:12:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France to deport radical Muslim clerics - The Local

Several radical foreign preachers will be expelled in the coming days," Valls told a Brussels conference called to tackle extremism in Europe, without identifying any of the individuals concerned.

"I don't confuse this radical Islam with the Islam of France but there is a religious environment, there are Salafist groupings, who are involved in a political process, whose aim is to monopolize cultural associations and schools," he added.

"We will expel all these imams, all these foreign preachers who denigrate women, who hold views that run counter to our values and who say there is a need to combat France.

"We have to be extremely firm and that I will be," he said.

France is on red alert against a terror attack after its military intervention in Mali. Security has been increased at airports and train stations around the country.

This is not the first time France has tried to crack down on radical clerics. In March last year former President Nicolas Sarkozy banned four Muslim preachers from entering France to attend an Islamic conference, saying their "calls for hatred and violence" were a threat to public order.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:31:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
@MigeruBlogger
Migeru Shimbun is out! http://paper.li/MigeruBlogger/1351816577 ... ▸ Top stories today via @Matthew_C_Klein @locodelpelorojo @GCGodfrey


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 04:55:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Austerityland blog: This Charming Man - The dapper, cosmopolitan face of post-democracy (EU Observer, 16 January 2013)
Autocracy will return to Europe not dispatched by colonels atop tanks this time, but by cosmopolitan civil servants, economists and public intellectuals who as likely as not give money to Amnesty International and Medecins Sans Frontieres. Its partisans will be witty and dapper and subscribe to the RSS feed of The Sartorialist. And the passage to post-democracy will be unhurried but throughout, it will be tweetily endorsed and blogged about and the videos explaining why it is necessary will be uploaded to Vimeo, the `artisanal' online video service, not just YouTube.

...

... I know far too many people in Brussels - true believers in the European project - that are horrified by what Brussels (and Frankfurt and Berlin) is doing.

...

It's this lack of trust in regular people, this unacknowledged attitude that there is a group of experts who know better than everyone else, this belief that there need to be checks on democracy, that frightens. Girlfriend in a Coma`s emphasis on the bright, young, hyper-educated Italian diaspora speaks volumes about the filmmakers' lack of confidence in all other sorts of Italian voters.

The Erasmus-generation fans of this film will be hip. They're crisply dressed. They like independent cinema and museums and all the right music. They're friends of mine, and they're a great laugh and multi-lingual and smart.

And they're autocrats.



I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I wanted this sort of democracy I would have stayed in the US.

Oh wait...

by redstar on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 07:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just remembered Haider. At the time someone said "we've seen this guy before, but this time he doesn't have the toothbrush moustache."

Wait, not quite the right quote.

Nicolas Fraser: not "brown trousers and a toothbrush moustache" but "well-spoken and fashionably-dressed" and "skilled in the arts of euphemism.


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:42:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: El Pais has found documentary evidence showing that Mariano Rajoy took money (31.01.2013)
The Spanish newspaper prints of lists of senior political figures who have received annual payments from the party treasurer between 1990 and 2008; entries also record cash donations, mostly from large construction companies, and from people recently indicted in a corruption scandal; outgoing payments have gone a senior leaders of the PP, including Rajoy and Rodrigo Rato; El Pais documents also show that a substantially lower amounts had been declared than what had been received; Rajoy is listed as having received €25,200 a year since 1997; when confronted with the evidence, Rajoy said he will not comment until the results of the audits are known; Wolfgang Schauble ignores the Liikanen recommendations, and presses ahead with his own plan, stopping well short of a separation of all investment banking from the bank deposit business; proposal is part of a bilateral push by France and Germany that is not coordinated with the rest of the EU; commentators in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Reuters Breakingviews make the point that the separation is unworkable, because most the risk to banks stems from normal investment banking activities, such as market making; Silvio Berlusconi refuses a deal with Mario Monti, saying Monti was a flash in the pan of Italian politics; Monti says he could envisage an agreement with Berlusconi's party, but not with Berlusconi; prosecutors in the Monte dei Paschi di Siena case say only former management are implicated; Franco Debenedetti writes that the core of the MPS problem lies in the Italian banking foundations, through which politicians maintain their grip on the banking sector; Francois Hollande faces his first major strikes, as civil servants unions are calling for industrial action in protest over real wage freeze; Jean-Francis Pécresse criticises the unions over a lack of solidarity with the rest of the population, which have also experienced similar freezes; Greece faces another big strikes today in protest at the government's austerity policies; Greece is to pass a law allowing the government to seize money from people arrested for corruption, fraud and money laundering; Spain has come out top in Bloomberg's misery index; the official estimates by the Spanish statistics office show that GDP has contracted by even more than recent Bank of Spain estimates suggested; Spain's reaches its 2012 revenue targets, thanks to tax increases; Catalonia plans to apply for financial aid under Spain's regional liquidity fund; the regional government owes huge sums to private hospitals and pharmacies; the European Commission's confidence indicators shows a big rise in January, sending the euro above $1.35; Wolfgang Munchau says the recent conflict between Wolfgang Schauble and Mario Draghi is at its heart a conflict between legal and economic arguments, which are at the core of the debate on the eurozone; Charles Goodhart, meanwhile, gets really worried about the recently announced shifts in monetary policy, and warns that central banks should not prioritise real targets over inflation.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jean-Francis Pécresse criticises the unions over a lack of solidarity with the rest of the population, which have also experienced similar freezes

So is this

  • a genuine "we're all in this together"
  • a false "look, we're all in this together" (yeah, you know who started every sentence with "look"
  • a genuine "shut up, there is no alternative"
?


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 08:01:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every non-unionised person who has a good wage, has a union to thank for it.

Austerity was not caused by the poor, the working classes or even the middle classes. It was caused by the elite. So the elite can STFU about anybody else protecting themselves, cos so far austerity hasn't inconvenienced them one bit.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:29:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jean-Francis Pécresse is the brother-in-law of UMPist and former Sarko minister Valérie Pécresse, and he editorialises in a distinctly liberal economy and business paper.

So how about it's just a well-rehearsed talking point?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:24:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good old neutral point of view wikipedia:
"[...] she has launched many reforms which have caused a great wave of strikes.[citation needed]"


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 06:04:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:48:04 AM EST
BBC News - Zimbabwe says public account stood at $217 last week

Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said that the country only had $217 (£138) left in its public account last week after paying civil servants.

However, he said that the following day some $30m of revenue had been paid in.

Mr Biti told the BBC he made the revelation in order to emphasise that the government was unable to finance elections, not that it was insolvent.

Polls are due this year, with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF fighting Mr Biti's Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr Biti has previously complained that diamond mining companies have not been paying revenues to the government.

The power-sharing government set up in 2009 ended years of hyperinflation by using the US dollar, but the economy remains fragile.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:25:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rescue deal for Cyprus reported to inch closer | Business | DW.DE | 30.01.2013

A deal by international lenders to provide a shot in the arm for struggling eurozone country Cyprus has become more likely, according to a major German paper. It reported that German resistance to the rescue has waned.

The German government was in the process of dropping its reservations on a European rescue package for Cyprus, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Wednesday.

It claimed that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble continued to have reservations about a bailout deal for the struggling eurozone country, but added that the pressure being exerted by euro area partners, the EU Commission and the European Central Bank had become so high that Germany would eventually be willing to play along.

Cyprus officially requested a shot in the arm in mid-2012, with initial estimates saying Nicosia would need at least 17.5 billion euros ($22.3 billion), the bulk of which would go towards rescuing the country's ailing banks.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where's the change in Deutsche Bank's culture? | Business | DW.DE | 30.01.2013

Deutsche Bank's new executives are set to present their first annual budget. A promised 'profound cultural change' at Germany's biggest bank is not in sight, however.

Deutsche Bank CEOs Jürgen Fitschen and Anshu Jain promised to mend their ways: "We will do what we can to clear up the past," they told the bank's employees at the start of the year. They promised that there would be a cultural change at Germany's largest bank, but it would take time. For now, though, change could find itself mired in quarterly earnings which were showing a loss - and which were a legacy of the time before they took over from Josef Ackermann in May.

Complaint about police raid

So far the bank's CEOs have not put on a good show: there was certainly no sign of any cultural change in mid-December, when they had been in office for half a year. Instead, federal police surrounded the bank's Twin Towers headquarters in Frankfurt as law officers, some of them armed, swarmed through the building in connection with investigations of employees and customers charged with suspected tax evasion, money laundering and attempted obstruction of justice in the trading of carbon emission certificates. Frankfurt prosecutor Günter Wittig said the defendants were accused of hiding and destroying evidence supporting the charges. The police raided Deutsche Bank headquarters

Jürgen Fitschen complained to the state premier of Hesse about the raid - and was handed a lukewarm apology that was later taken back. What remained was the impression that the bank saw itself as being above the law. That didn't look like cultural change.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:28:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fed Maintains $85 Billion Pace of Purchases as Growth Pauses - Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve will keep purchasing securities at the rate of $85 billion a month as the economy paused because of temporary forces including bad weather.

"Growth in economic activity paused in recent months in large part because of weather-related disruptions and other transitory factors," the Federal Open Market Committee said today at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Washington.

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has unleashed the power of the central bank to buy unlimited amounts of Treasury and mortgage- backed securities in a bid to end a four-year long period of unemployment above 7.5 percent and bolster an economy that shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

"Although strains in global financial markets have eased somewhat, the committee continues to see downside risks to the economic outlook," the FOMC said.

The purchases will remain divided between $40 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion a month of Treasury securities. The central bank also will continue reinvesting any Treasury securities that mature and will reinvest its portfolio of maturing housing debt into agency mortgage-backed securities.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:29:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apple's $1 Billion Verdict Against Samsung Left Intact - Bloomberg

Apple Inc. (AAPL)'s $1.05 billion damages award against Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) from its patent- infringement trial in San Jose, California, was left intact after a judge denied Apple's bid to increase the award.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose yesterday declined to increase the award after she found Samsung's infringement wasn't willful. The ruling was one of many post-trial decisions Koh issued yesterday denying both companies' bids for a new trial and leaving largely untouched the jury's finding in August that Samsung infringed six mobile-device patents. Enlarge image Apple's $1 Billion Patent Verdict Against Samsung Left Intact

Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

A man uses a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S III smartphone to record a video outside the Apple Inc. store on George Street in Sydney, Australia.

A man uses a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S III smartphone to record a video outside the Apple Inc. store on George Street in Sydney, Australia. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

"The court will not speculate as to how, precisely, the jury calculated its damages award," Koh wrote in her ruling. It is "reasonable to assume" that the award is "intended to compensate Apple for losses stemming from all of the violations the jury found."

Jurors decided Aug. 24 at the end of a trial that Samsung should pay the $1.05 billion for infringing the six Apple patents. Apple, which lost its bid to block U.S. sales on 26 of the Galaxy maker's devices, failed to establish that consumer demand for Samsung products was driven by technology it stole, Koh ruled earlier.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:29:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Libor Lies Revealed in Rigging of $300 Trillion Benchmark - Bloomberg

Every morning, from his desk by the bathroom at the far end of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's trading floor overlooking London's Liverpool Street station, Paul White punched a series of numbers into his computer.

Danziger typically would have swiveled in his chair, tapped White on the shoulder and relayed the request to him, people who worked on the trading floor say. Instead, as White was away that day, Danziger input the rate himself. There were no rules at RBS and other banks prohibiting derivatives traders, who stood to benefit from where Libor was set, from submitting the rate -- a flaw exploited by some traders to boost their bonuses.

The next morning, RBS said it would have to pay 0.97 percent to borrow in yen for three months, up from 0.94 percent the previous day. The Edinburgh-based bank was the only one of 16 surveyed to raise its submission that day, inflating that day's rate by one-fifth of a basis point, or 0.002 percent. On a $50 billion portfolio of interest-rate swaps, RBS could have gained as much as $250,000.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 03:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But, when all is said and done, the guilty don't go to jail, the fraudulently obtained bonuses aren't sequestered and none of the bastards suffer any consequence.

that's whats so wrong

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:48:24 AM EST
Crisis talks urged in Egypt amid more unrest - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Two more protesters have been killed after they were hit with birdshot during clashes with police near Cairo's Tahrir Square.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the press, confirmed the deaths on Wednesday.

Violence has spiraled after first erupting in Cairo on eve of last Friday's second anniversary of the uprising that toppled authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak.

Follow spotlight coverage of the struggling young democracy

It since spread around the country, with the worst violence in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, which has virtually declared itself in revolt against President Mohamed Morsi's government.

In response, Morsi declared a 30-day state of emergency and night curfew in Port Said and two other Canal cities, Suez and Ismailiyah, and their surrounding provinces.

But every night since it went into effect, tens of thousands of residents in the cities have defied the curfew with nighttime rallies and marches, chanting against Morsi and the Musllim Brotherhood, which forms the backbone of his rule.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaza officials allow voter registration - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Palestinian officials will begin registering voters in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip next month to pave the way for elections aimed at healing a nearly six-year split between Palestinian factions.

Hamas had barred the Palestinian Central Election Commission (CEC) from Gaza, accusing the body of bias in favour of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority which rules the West Bank.

Following Egyptian-brokered talks, the two factions agreed that registering Gaza voters ahead of national parliamentary and presidential polls would be the first step towards forming a national unity government.

"We are confident this process will begin soon and will be accomplished, and through it we would have achieved the first stage in the process of ending division," CEC chairman Hanna Naser told reporters in Gaza on Wednesday.

Registration will begin on February 9th, the CEC said, when Palestinian factions are due to meet in Cairo to begin integrating Gaza-based parties Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Palestinians' diplomatic body, which is now close to Fatah.

Palestinian law requires elections to be held within three months of voter registration.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:39:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French troops enter Kidal in northern Mali - Africa - Al Jazeera English

French troops have taken control of the airport in the northern Malian town of Kidal, the last rebel stronghold in the north, according to the French army and a local official.

Thierry Burkhard, the French armed forces spokesman, confirmed on Wednesday that French troops were in Kidal and had taken control of the airport.

"The operation is ongoing," he said, declining to give further details.

In-depth coverage of intensifying confrontation in north

Separately, Haminy Belco Maiga, president of the regional assembly of Kidal, speaking to Reuters news agency, said: "They arrived late last night and they deployed in four planes and some helicopters."

He said there were no immediate reports of resistance.

Kidal would be the last of northern Mali's major towns to be retaken by French forces after they reached Gao and Timbuktu earlier this week in a campaign to drive al-Qaeda-linked fighters from Mali's north.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:39:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gabrielle Giffords speaks at Senate hearing on gun violence - The Washington Post

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot and seriously wounded two years ago, urged the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to act boldly and courageously to curb an epidemic of gun violence in America.

Appearing before the committee as it opened its first hearing on gun-related violence in more than a year, Giffords spoke clearly but haltingly after she was led to the witness table by her husband.

"Violence is a big problem," she told the committee. "Too many children are dying. Too many children."

"We must do something," she said, looking up at the senators. "It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."

Her appearance contributed emotional resonance to what had already promised to be a dramatic exchange between lawmakers and advocates for and against stricter gun-control laws.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:42:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if they ban the sale of assault weapons etc, there's already an army's worth out there in the hands of the least stable section of the population

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:35:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's no reason to permit the continuing increase of ownership of these weapons.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:25:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel hits Syria arms convoy to Lebanon: sources | Reuters

Reuters) - Israeli jets bombed a convoy on Syria's border with Lebanon on Wednesday, sources told Reuters, apparently targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah in what some called a warning to Damascus not to arm Israel's Lebanese enemy.

"The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon," said one Western diplomat, adding that the consignment may well have included anti-aircraft missiles.

The overnight attack, which several sources placed on the Syrian side of the border, followed warnings from Israel that it was ready to act to prevent the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad leading to Syria's chemical weapons and modern rockets reaching either his Hezbollah allies or his Islamist enemies.

A source among the Syrian rebels said an air strike around dawn (0430 GMT) blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border. Its load probably included high-tech anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, but not chemical weapons.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Backed Plan To Launch Chemical Weapon Attack On Syria:
Leaked emails have allegedly proved that the White House gave the green light to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that could be blamed on Assad's regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country.

The same story was apparently pulled from the Daily Mail.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 07:52:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tracing The Movement To Nullify Federal Gun Laws

Republican lawmakers nationwide have introduced bills addressing firearms, the Second Amendment, and federal power. [...]

The language in the bills differs from state to state (and some states have seen several different bills proposed), as do some of the particulars. But the message and general thrust of the bills are the same: the lawmakers are telling the federal government to back off on guns.
[...]
"[...] there is an ability and a right, an inherent right, of states to protect [their] citizens when the federal government becomes overreaching."
[...]
[one idea is] to withhold investigative resources and information from the federal government, which he believes would make new firearms measures unenforceable.

"This is a very simple tactic," Marshall told TPM. "Mahatma Gandhi, he brought down the British Empire in the Far East by doing this very thing.
[...]
"Martin Luther King Jr. said, `Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
[...]

So Gandhi and King, both of whom were shot, are invoked as patron saints of the right to bear arms. Also State's Rights.
Anyone else confused?

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:23:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Without private gun ownership, as enshrined in the US Constitution, it is impossible for people to protect their community from an over-weening and tyrannical Federal government.

</snark>

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

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:44:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...is it safe to move back? :-)
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely.  Enough weapons have been sold in the US over the last two months to outfit the Chinese and Indian armies.  So there's lots and lots of goofballs ready to jump into the fray if your rights are infringed.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:21:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arm the homeless!


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 06:05:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LIVING OFF THE PLANET
Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:48:45 AM EST
BP pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2010 gulf oil spill - latimes.com

A federal judge in New Orleans accepted an agreement for BP to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record fine in connection with the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which ranks as one of the nation's worst environmental disasters.

The agreement, announced in November, allowed a unit of the London-based oil giant to plead guilty Tuesday to 11 counts of seaman's manslaughter in connection with the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the gulf. The company also entered a guilty plea to one felony count of obstruction of Congress and two environmental misdemeanors.

The company was fined $4 billion in connection with the spill and was given five years' probation.

Tuesday's court action ends the company's current criminal issues, but is just one step in the ongoing proceedings related to the disaster. Four current or former BP employees have been indicted on criminal charges. BP has separately agreed to a $7.8-billion settlement with lawyers representing Gulf Coast residents and businesses and could be assessed more than $17 billion under the Clean Water Act.

"Today's guilty plea and sentencing represent a significant step forward in the Justice Department's ongoing efforts to seek justice on behalf of those affected by one of the worst environmental disasters in American history," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. "I'm pleased to note that more than half of this landmark resolution -- which totals $4 billion in penalties and fines and represents the single largest criminal resolution ever -- will help to provide direct support to Gulf Coast residents as communities throughout the region continue to recover and rebuild."

At the hearing, BP again apologized for the deaths and for the spill.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:31:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Shell Nigeria case: Court acquits firm on most charges

A Dutch court has rejected four out of five allegations against Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell over oil pollution in Nigeria's Niger Delta region.

But it found a subsidiary of the firm, Shell Nigeria, responsible for one case of pollution, ordering it to pay compensation to a Nigerian farmer.

Shell said it was "happy" with the verdict in the landmark case.

The case was brought by four Nigerian farmers and Friends of the Earth, which says it is "flabbergasted".

The campaign group says it intends to appeal. However, it has welcomed the Dutch court's ruling that Shell's subsidiary was liable on one count.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, as corporate personhood exists, does that mean that BP is going to jail ? Or does it mean another tax deductible fine ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 05:37:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China burns half of coal consumption worldwide, figures show | Environment | guardian.co.uk

China now burns nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined.

The country's appetite for the carbon-intensive fuel rose by 9% in 2011, to 3.8bn tonnes, meaning it now accounts for 47% of worldwide coal consumption.

The growth, revealed by US government figures on Tuesday, was driven by China's booming economy, which has grown at an average rate of around 10% over the past decade. China overtook the US as the world's biggest carbon emitter in 2007, and became the world's biggest consumer of energy in 2010.

Research out last November suggested that 1,000 new coal-fired power plants are planned worldwide, with 363 in China and 455 in India. If all the plants were built, it would put the world on "a really dangerous trajectory" for climate change, experts at the World Resources Institute said.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is ... actually not surprising. What would be odd is it it were anyone else, except possibly india.
Who else has the same
  • population
  • area
  • resources
  • level of development?


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 06:14:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uncertain future for US towns built on coal - Features - Al Jazeera English

Welch, West Virginia - Calling for the United States to lead the "path towards sustainable energy", President Obama came out strong on climate change during his second inaugural address on January 21. The administration will likely redouble its efforts to limit emissions from coal-burning power plants, regulations that could force many to close.

One week earlier in West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vowed to protect a different kind of climate in his inaugural speech - the state's job climate.

"I will continue to protect and increase the production of coal," Tomblin declared, explaining later in the speech that he intended to "[fight] the federal government to get off our backs and out of our way".

While Tomblin and the powerful coal lobby battle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, the other front line is the Appalachian coalfields themselves.

Two imposing murals preside over Welch, a town in McDowell County, West Virginia. One depicts the town in the early 20th century, a coal-rich boomtown once called the New York City of West Virginia. Ford Model Ts line the streets.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shale gas has really struck a heavy blow against US coal. Corporate coal giants like Peabody have lost two thirds of their market value in the last few years. The switch to gas means that US CO2 emissions are the lowest in 20 years. If the US had joined Kyoto, it would have reached its targets by now.

I imagine US coal companies will have to start working the export markets. I'm sure the Chinese would be interested...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 04:16:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hell, I'm sure the Germans would. As long as the EU carbon quota system stays broken.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 03:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, would long-distance trade with coal make sense from an energy standpoint?

In the pre-electric world California had really high coal prices because it was imported from as far away places as Australia. This in addition to lots of sun and relative high wealth made California the target of a number of soalr power ideas.

Back then coal was transported with coal-powered ships, componding the storage problem. But on the other hand, the coal that was dug up back then was more readily availble which I guess meant better EROEI.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 03:54:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you'll find that the EU has become a major coal importer over the past year or so, since the carbon market collapsed and it became cheaper than gas.

Yes, Australia exports huge amounts of coal, South Africa is probably next. Whether the US can compete? Dunno. Sea transport is still really cheap.

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

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 04:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cats Are Ruthless Killers. Should They Be Killed? | Culturing Science, Scientific American Blog Network

Every few months, the fact that domestic cats are ruthless killers hits the news. This past summer it was the Kitty Cam, memorably explained by webcomic The Oatmeal, which saw nearly one-third of cats kill 2 animals each week on average. In 2011 a study found that domestic cats were responsible for nearly half of predation on baby gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), a shy bird common in the mid-Atlantic and named for its cat-like call. And this morning, Nature Communications published a large analysis estimating how many animals are killed by cats annually in the US: 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals each year (1).

Let me repeat: every year BILLIONS of birds and mammals are killed by free-ranging domestic house cats, Felis catus. And millions of reptiles and amphibians on top of that.

This is not a cue for you to pat Fluffy on the head and congratulate her for being such a "natural little killer." These data are no joke. Domestic cats are on the IUCN's list of the top 100 World's Worst Invasive Alien Species for their ability to decimate prey populations. Those razor-sharp claws strike the hardest on islands, where animal populations are relatively confined. A 2011 review found that, on islands, cats are the primary cause for at least 14% of bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions and the principal threat to almost 8% of critically endangered animals (2).



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:51:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You could always make pussy wear a tinkle bell. No element of surprise

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:25:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leave my killer cat alone.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 03:39:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More cats could have stopped the rodent invasion in the 60's.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 06:13:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Natural Gas Vehicles Could Ease Energy Crisis: Scientific American

Geopolitical issues are driving up the cost of oil and eroding U.S. energy security and could trigger another recession, according to energy experts.

But fuels derived from natural gas could help avoid a future oil crisis if they're poised to effectively compete in the oil-dominated transportation sector, members of the U.S. Energy Security Council said yesterday at a meeting of energy industry leaders.

"The U.S. is really facing an energy security paradox. We've expanded domestic oil supply, we've reduced demand through fuel efficiency, and yet gas prices in 2012 were at record high and OPEC revenues were at record highs," said Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and an adviser to the Energy Security Council.

"So drilling more and using less aren't going to solve our problem, which is price," she said. "So in order to solve the price problem, you have to focus on fuel competition."

Korin and co-author Gal Luft argue in their new book "Petropoly" that OPEC is increasing U.S. insecurity by driving up oil prices to balance their national budgets, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:51:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spring may come earlier to North American forests, increasing uptake of carbon dioxide

Jan. 29, 2013 -- Trees in the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. could send out new spring leaves up to 17 days ear­lier in the com­ing cen­tury than they did before global tem­per­a­tures started to rise, accord­ing to a new study by Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity researchers. These climate-driven changes could lead to changes in the com­po­si­tion of north­east­ern forests and give a boost to their abil­ity to take up car­bon dioxide.

Trees play an impor­tant role in tak­ing up car­bon diox­ide from the atmos­phere, so researchers led by David Med­vigy, assis­tant pro­fes­sor in Princeton's depart­ment of geo­sciences, wanted to eval­u­ate pre­dic­tions of spring bud­burst -- when decid­u­ous trees push out new growth after months of win­ter dor­mancy -- from mod­els that pre­dict how car­bon emis­sions will impact global temperatures.

The date of bud­burst affects how much car­bon diox­ide is taken up each year, yet most cli­mate mod­els have used overly sim­plis­tic schemes for rep­re­sent­ing spring bud­burst, mod­el­ing for exam­ple a sin­gle species of tree to rep­re­sent all the trees in a geo­graphic region.

In 2012, the Prince­ton team pub­lished a new model that relied on warm­ing tem­per­a­tures and the wan­ing num­ber of cold days to pre­dict spring bud­burst. The model, which was pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Geo­phys­i­cal Research, proved accu­rate when com­pared to data on actual bud­burst in the north­east­ern United States.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:57:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:49:15 AM EST
Glendale man targeted 350 women in 'sextortion' scheme, feds say - latimes.com

A Glendale man was behind bars Wednesday and facing more than two dozen charges in a "sextortion" case, in which he allegedly targeted 350 women and coerced them into showing him their naked pictures.

Karen "Gary" Kazaryan, 27, was arrested without incident Tuesday by FBI agents. He is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, the U.S. attorney's office said.

He faces 105 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts.

The indictment alleges that Kazaryan hacked into the victims' Facebook, Skype and email accounts and changed the passwords, locking victims out of their own online accounts. He then allegedly searched emails or other files for naked or semi-naked pictures of the women, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends.

Kazaryan then posed online as those women and sent instant messages to their friends, coaxing them into removing their clothing so that he could view and take pictures of them, according to the indictment.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:49:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brain Circuitry behind Cigarette Cravings Revealed: Scientific American

Drug cravings can be brought on by many factors, such as the sight of drugs, drug availability and lack of self-control. Now, researchers have uncovered some of the neural mechanisms involved in cigarette craving. Two brain areas, the orbitofrontal cortex and the prefrontal cortex, interact to turn cravings on or off depending on whether drugs are available, the study reports today (Jan. 28) in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers scanned the brains of 10 moderate-to-heavy smokers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity by changes in blood flow. Researchers measured activity while the participants watched video clips of people smoking as well as neutral videos. Before viewing, some subjects were told cigarettes would be available immediately after the experiment, while others were told they would have to wait 4 hours before lighting up.

When participants watched the smoking videos, their brains showed increased activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, a brain area that assigns value to a behavior. When the cigarettes were available immediately as opposed to hours later, smokers reported greater cravings and their brains showed more activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The researchers hypothesize that this area modulates value. In other words, it can turns up or down the "value level" of cigarettes (or other rewards) in the first area, the medial orbitofrontal cortex. The results show that addiction involves a brain circuit important for self-control and decision-making.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is less here than it appears.

The orbitofrontal cortex and prefrontal cortex are the areas associated with all high level cognitive functioning, one of which is Decision Making.  The orbitofrontal cortex is known to place an emotional value on and between cognitive process endpoints (think nouns) to enable the individual to make decisions.  What the report is saying, then, is the decision to light-up occurs in the same neurological areas as any other decision.  Which is useful to know, I'll grant, but not all that earth shattering.


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

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:23:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Scientific Materialism "Almost Certainly False"? | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network

When it comes to science, ours is a paradoxical era. On the one hand, prominent physicists proclaim that they are solving the riddle of reality and hence finally displacing religious myths of creation. That is the chest-thumping message of books such as The Grand Design by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss. A corollary of this triumphal view is that science will inevitably solve all other mysteries as well.

On the other hand, science's limits have never been more glaringly apparent. In their desperation for a "theory of everything"--which unifies quantum mechanics and relativity and explains the origin and structure of our cosmos--physicists have embraced pseudo-scientific speculation such as multi-universe theories and the anthropic principle (which says that the universe must be as we observe it to be because otherwise we wouldn't be here to observe it). Fields such as neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics and complexity have fallen far short of their hype.

Some scholars, notably philosopher Thomas Nagel, are so unimpressed with science that they are challenging its fundamental assumptions. In his new book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, Nagel contends that current scientific theories and methods can't account for the emergence of life in general and one bipedal, big-brained species in particular. To solve these problems, Nagel asserts, science needs "a major conceptual revolution," as radical as those precipitated by heliocentrism, evolution and relativity.

Many pundits calling for such a revolution are peddling some sort of religious agenda, whether Christian or New Age. Nagel is an atheist, who cannot accept God as a final answer, and yet he echoes some theological critiques of science. "Physic-chemical reductionism," he writes, cannot tell us how matter became animate on Earth more than three billion years ago; nor can it account for the emergence in our ancestors of consciousness, reason and morality.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:51:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"philosopher Thomas Nagel" ... "Nagel contends that current scientific theories and methods can't account for the emergence of life in general and one bipedal, big-brained species in particular"

Good to see that he would only write about subjects squarely within his field of competence.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:49:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fields such as neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics and complexity have fallen far short of their hype.

Unlike religion, politics or economics then. How about journalism, is that about to save the world yet?

Incidentally, what is the field of "complexity"?


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 08:22:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nagel contends that current scientific theories and methods can't account for the emergence of life in general and one bipedal, big-brained species in particular.

He's wrong.  

Nagel has done some Good Stuff.  His insistence on using the tools of a priori axiomatic deductive logic to analyze non-linear dynamic phenomena isn't one of them.

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

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:36:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was with you up to "His".  :)

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 06:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Family quits Bingham after anti-Muslim attacks

The first incident was when the big, wooden cross, wrapped in ham, fell into the house after a knock at the door

In picking this quote I'm not making light of this, no "thin line between comedy and tragedy", yada yada.
It just seems so ... utterly bizarre.

"It is a nice, generally middle-class village and I'm sure most of the people there are great, it's just these choice few."

Can I nominate a Muslim for sainthood?


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 08:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A genuine shame, although the fact that it's worthy of "national" interest is, strangely, a good sign.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:23:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ON THIS DATE


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:49:42 AM EST
b. 1961 - Lloyd Cole, British singer (Lloyd Cole and the Commotions)



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:50:02 AM EST
Lowest German beer sales since country's unification | Business | DW.DE | 30.01.2013

Fresh statistical data has shown that sales of German beer have reached their lowest level since the country united back in 1990. Non-alcoholic beer has not been included in the equation.

Throughout 2012, German breweries sold a total of 96.5 million hectoliters (2.55 billion US gallons) of beer to customers at home and abroad, the National Statistics Office (Destatis) reported on Wednesday.

It said sales declined by 1.8 percent year-on-year, marking a drop of 1.8 million hectoliters. Not included in the statistics was non-alcoholic beer and malt beer.

Destatis said German breweries thus sold less in 2012 than in all previous years since German unification in 1990.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 02:24:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and if you make a good product, people will drink it. But, maybe the German's idea of a good malt product is as outdated is it's so-called "purity" laws.
by redstar on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 07:39:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heee, you deliberately trying to wind me up ?

There is nothing outdated about the concept of purity laws. If people want their beer and food unadulterated by noxious chemicals they should be free to so choose.

Germany is experiencing both a culture change of people doing other thing apart from going to bars, plus the increasing cost of the product at a time when wallets are constrained.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Young Germans these days are turning away from their ancestral stereotypes. Just like young French people drink less wine, they drink other stuff instead.

But tradition dies hard. In my experience, Germans drink their fancy cocktails in pint glasses.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:40:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Noxious chemicals, by all means, that should be out.

But corn or rice are not noxious chemicals, and they too are disallowed by German "purity" laws.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:47:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eliminating regulation always leads to lower quality product. (If you want to claim that using corn or rice doesn't lead to lower quality beer, then I'll leave you to Helen's tender mercies.)

You can claim that eliminating regulation doesn't force producers to lower quality; in reality, all the mass-market products will go downmarket as far as possible. This has been demonstrated time and time again. There will still be good-quality "boutique" products; they will be for the elite.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bingo, you said it.

As it always was.

And anyhow, there are good products, made with adjuncts, and there are bad products. As with everything.

Brewing with corn (maize) is pretty common in England. Upmarket and downmarket. Ditto craft brewers in the US and Canada. Oh, and don't forget your oats, also Verboten outre-rhin.

And if it's a good malt product you're drinking, chances are the brewer speaks English, and not German.

German purity laws are as silly as German money fetishism.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 10:22:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Germans don't make cheap beer for their proletariat?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:13:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Germans make cheap, good beer for their proletariat.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:15:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
other things. Why else the flagging sales?
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I never suggested beer drinking should be compulsory... :)

Apparently, you think the decline in beer drinking could be stopped by varying the recipes. Perhaps you think that the decline in wine drinking in France could be stopped by introducing flavoured wines?

These declines are sociological. People are less bound by tradition these days, and they expend less physical force in working.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:43:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from the same hide-bound thinking which gave the world the German "purity" laws.

Not for nothing that sales of french wine has suffered globally as a consequence, to the benefit of australians, americans and others.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:46:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, that's good revisionist thinking.

The market share of French wines has declined because they are too pure. I hadn't heard that one before.

There used to be a quality problem tied to winemakers sugaring their wine to make it stronger, to compete with high-alcohol wines from hotter climates. Perhaps they shouldn't have put an end to that, and we'd all be drinking 20% wine-based beverages and getting drunk quicker.

Nah actually the quality of French wines suffered in comparison with emerging wine producers because they were doing it wrong, not because of regulation. Quality has improved, but the lousy stuff was always drunk locally anyway, never exported.  The quality stuff was exported, for the ruling class all over the world. Now a wider spectrum of people drink wine, and most of them want simple pleasant wines.

The French market share has declined, in a vastly expanded global market. That has strictly nothing to do with regulation.  (Not that I am particularly defending the French wine regulation approach, but it's strictly irrelevant to the question of market share.)

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the argument.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,336011,00.html

It's not new. And today, even in France, you can find good, simple and cheap French wine which is not a blend of varietals.

French wine laws have always been about regulating quality for the elite who could afford quality. Which made the average stuff less marketable when confronted with cheaper and more reliable competition.

A bit like German beer.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Basically they're saying the same thing as me : declining overall market share because of an expanding bottom end to the wine market. French low-end wine makers are struggling to compete on price with emerging countries, and because they are typically small outfits, there is a problem of brand recognition.
 
A report to the French Senate this month proposes radical solutions, like mixing the produce of different regions and vintages in single-grape-variety wines and adding oak chips to vats as a flavoring agent. The aim: encourage strong brands with consistent tastes that can take on the Jacob's Creeks of this world.

well fine I suppose. I'm not aware of any regulations that forbid this.

I can't actually discern an argument for deregulation in the article (or perhaps it's implicit : after all, it's in Time magazine...)

They save the zinger for the end :

Once they've sorted out the wine, maybe they'll get started on the cheese.

Yes that's right : France has a cheese problem.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French cheese needs to be less elitist and complicated, and to have simple, consistent brands.

Like Kraft slices and Velveeta.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:28:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that alcohol consumption overall is down lately ? (which I doubt...alcohol is a famously negative-beta good and we are in an economic crisis...)

Or is it just that German beer consumption is down, globally. Because, perhaps, it isn't as good as other beer.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:50:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sociologically, the decline of beer in favour of stronger drink is probably accelerated by economic crisis, and by generational change. (I wonder what the numbers look like in the UK : is beer drinking increasing?)

If you're in a hurry, as young people generally are these days, strong drink works well. You have to be fairly patient to get really drunk on beer.

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

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 04:02:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think their various volks beers are bland. The german brewing industry needs a dirty great kick up the arse.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:56:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...why did the big breweries move to using what had hitherto been just adjuncts?
Not because it was cheaper, primarily. But because it was a necessity in times of scarcity (great depression, war).
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:34:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know nothing about the German beer market in general, it would be a good subject for a blog given your recent experience Helen. Reasoned subjective impressions.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:55:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point about corn or rice is that they're empty sugars. They add alcohol without adding flavour, so the resulting brew is thin and tasteless.

When budweiser first tarted adding rice to beer, they initiated the refrigeration revolution to cover up for the tastelessness of the beer. You just can't taste cold beer as easily as cool, a few degrees makes all the difference.

You're right that corn and rice are added to shitty keg beers and especially lagers in the UK, but not to real ale. There's nothing to gain and an entire brewery's reputation to lose. In a cut-throat market of small margins, you'd be out of business in a week.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:53:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...but tell me if my early homebrew day recollection is correct that to make a proper cream ale, you need corn (maize) flakes.
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cream ales are a USian version of lager beers which were popular across europe, but not in UK. Still popular in Belgium as I understand. We didn't have maize in europe till you lot invented it, so it's not part of our tradition.

The British use oats for body or powdered wheat head retention) in such cases

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:02:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, oats and wheat are, strictly speaking, Verboten too.

And the larger point is about imagination. Which isn't to be found everywhere, apparently.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:13:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wheat is verboten? Better tell all the makers of weissbier/weizenbier.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:52:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wheat beer.

Ie not real beer.

And with it's own creativity-stiffling rules.

Do you even drink German beer? When was the last time?

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:54:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the purity law applies to beer brewed with bottom fermenting yeast. Wheat beer is, therefore, by law, brewed like an ale with top-fermenting yeast.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
how yeast ferments now?

Next thing we know, they'll be regulating unemployment in Spain.

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they're saying that beers which are brewed with bottom fermenting yeasts can only use certain ingredients. It was introduced to outlaw the brewing of rye beer when there was a shortage of rye which was needed for bread.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:43:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and '40's North American brewers started using rice corn because acreage for barley switched over to (rationed) wheat?
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:48:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, budweiser did it in about 1918. We can't know exactly what drove the decision but I imagine cost saving was a factor.

After prohibition, the only brewers left standing were the mega keggeries so they could more or less bugger the beer up any old how and nobody would know any different

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 03:10:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
still stray from the German purity laws.

With good reason. The world has changed since the 16th century, at least outside Germany. Though the poor Romans are still worried, I suppose, about what those Hun austerians will think of next.

Plus ça change, et tout ça...

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 03:16:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a war going on about then...
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 03:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you even drink German beer? When was the last time?

I think my stock ran out some time in September. We went to Bavaria a couple of times by car last year, so I drank a reasonable amount (really) at various biergartens etc, and brought back a crate from the supermarket each time. So I only know the popular Bavarian styles. My current favourite being the Dunkelweisse.

I think we're on different wavelengths. You seem to be saying that German beer is shite; I say it's a matter of taste. I agree with Helen that it is pretty bland, but not everyone is looking for excitement in their pint.

Also, I am a cost-conscious buyer. I don't have a source for German beer at a reasonable price  in France, so I don't buy it here. But if there's a decent beer of any origin I can buy in France for a euro a litre (the supermarket price in Bavaria, 50cl bottles, including the deposit on the bottle), I would like to know about it.

None of the pubs I drink in have German beer on tap. Would I drink it if they did? Occasionally. They sell all the beers at the same price (except Kro which they rightly discount), so I would probably prefer my usual Irish or Belgian. (Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any English beer on tap in Lyon.)

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

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 03:59:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brewers in the UK and US and elsewhere are playing with ingredients.

German brewers haven't been constrained by the Rheinheitsegebot law for a couple of decades (european free market law). If they choose to keep brewing the same old same old it's presumably because
a) they think there's a selling point to keeping to it.
b) they aren't really trained outside of a narrow group of beer styles
c) the probably fear consumer conservatism

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Up there? I quite like it. And it's a maize beer too.
by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A maize beer ? I don't know what perversities the US home brew scene goes to to emulate fuller's mastery, but maize does not pollute their beer.

Fullers official recipe

"It's the same grist for each of those beers," said Keeling (Brewing Director). "Very simple. 95% British pale ale malt with 5% crystal malt


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 01:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to their old brewing director http://rarebeerclub.beveragebistro.com/rbcbeer_12.html

Notes from John Keeling, Head Brewer, Fuller's Griffin Brewery, Chiswick       

The story of Extra Special Extra Special Bitter (ESESB) - Project code name: Thriller Beer

We were developing ideas for a new beer to celebrate Fullers 160th anniversary (this year). We wanted to do an enhanced version of ESB, possibly in both bottle and cask. The bottle would have to be bottle-conditioned, as we feel that is best for flavour, and it seemed that a special version of our most famous beer for Michael Jackson and the Rare Beer Club would fit the bill!  We decided to go ahead and produce it a bit ahead of our original plan, and have the bottled version shipped to the states for the club in December. We also decided to release this brew as a cask beer here in England, in September 2005, as the official beer to celebrate our 160th.

Whilst this beer was to be special, it still was to be ESB.  We therefore kept the original ESB recipe: 91.5% pale ale malt (optic barley variety), 3.5% crystal malt and 5% flake maize, but we decided to push this to the limits and produce a stronger than normal version.  We managed to push the gravity from 1054 to 1060, and the alcohol to 6.1%. This should rise to maybe as high as 6.3%, because it is bottle-conditioned.

We also changed the hops to 100% Goldings, and doubled the late copper hopping rate.  This resulted in a bitterness of 42.55 (the normal ESB target is 34).  After fermentation we then dry hopped the ESB in the maturation tank with Goldings.  We left the beer in tank for 3 months, and bottled the beer with a count of 0.5 million yeast cells.

From the above analysis you can see why the beer will taste hoppier and more bitter than normal. However the beer has a reasonably high gravity of 13.9 to balance this. As with all bottle conditioned beers, it will change and mature during its life. Our "1845" beer normally lasts two years, and many people say that our 1997 Vintage Ale is still at its best.  Who knows how long this beer will take to reach its peak - will you have the patience to do the research?

 

by redstar on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he says different things in different places. I wouldn't be surprised if it was just for the special brew, but it does sound as if it's a regular ingredient.

I'm disappointed cos I don't think there's a need for it. However, I've always had  memory that, 30 years ago before ABV creep set in, ESB was a 5.4% (or even weaker) beer. So maybe the maize was just a cheap way to push it out to its present 5.8.

Personally I only drink it occasionally, once or twice a year, cos i prefer real ale to bottled beer and Fullers pubs now use cask marque, a cellar management "quality" assessment, which, perversely, encourages a system which leads to well kept and very indifferent beer. So I tend to avoid cask marque pubs

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 02:39:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
...and if you make a good product, people will drink it.

Coca-cola. Must be the best drink in the world. Just look at the numbers.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 09:53:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That a good product will be appreciated is not the same as saying the most sold product is the best.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 10:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the same, but it's effectively an elitist argument.

I'm for more regulation of food and drink, not less, as long as most of the food and drink comes from factories optimised for profit.

The alternative is that good food is reserved for the elite, and the others can eat shit, almost literally.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:10:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Middle class maybe, but not elitist.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Middle class is elitist, increasingly.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in Finland.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:44:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given slaughterhouse conditions, it's literally.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently google censorship introduced before Christmas in the US has now been rolled out around the world.

Google SafeSearch Changes Hit the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and More [CONFIRMED]

As far as I understand they are only removing sex/nudity, not violence, dismembered bodies, etc. (Not going to test from work.)

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 06:13:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If a kid sees a naked breast they will be scarred for life. A dismembered body? Not a problem.

Americans. <sigh>

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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