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19 February 2013

by Nomad Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:32:01 PM EST

Your take on today's news media

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by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:36:25 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Institutional Affairs / MEPs attack 'carpet seller' budget deal

The European Parliament's biggest political faction, the centre-right EPP, Monday denounced the proposed €960 billion EU budget in the clearest sign yet that MEPs may reject the recent deal struck by leaders.

At a specially-convened meeting of MEPs on Monday (18 February), Joseph Daul, a French deputy who has led the EPP group since 2007, accused EU leaders of behaving like "carpet salesmen."

Speaking of a "dialogue of the deaf", Daul said member states had ignored the EU assembly throughout negotiations on the budget for 2014-2020.

Sixteen of the EU's 27 heads of government, including Germany's Angela Merkel, the bloc's most powerful politician, as well as European Council President Herman van Rompuy, sit in Daul's EPP family. With a delegation boasting 270 MEPs, the EPP is comfortably the largest group in the Parliament.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:27:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
("centre-right" of course, mmmble grrmble)

Parliament as a whole should go for a confrontation on this, and we should support them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 01:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that Hollande was very well received by Parliament the other week. It would be a victory for him if they vetoed the budget (since he didn't have the guts to do it himself)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
since he didn't have the guts to do it himself

After having said he could do so if "growth" wasn't taken into account.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Iberia workers strike over job cuts

Workers at the Spanish airline Iberia have begun a five-day strike in protest at planned cuts to jobs and salaries.

Iberia has cancelled more than 400 flights out of 1,000 scheduled for this week, with cabin crew and baggage handlers staging the walk-out.

A lack of services at Spanish airports are expected to affect more than 1,000 flights from various airlines.

Iberia has announced plans to cut 3,807 jobs after it reported mounting losses last year.

In the first nine month of 2012 it lost 262m euros (£226m; $349m).

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iberia workers and riot police clash at start of five-day strike | Business | The Guardian

Riot police clashed with striking workers (video) from Spain's Iberia airline on Monday as they began a five-day stoppage in protest at plans to sack a fifth of the workforce in a country struggling with 26% unemployment.

As hundreds of flights were cancelled in the biggest strike yet to hit Iberia, Willie Walsh, chairman of the airline's parent company since its merger with British Airways, stuck to his plan for 3,800 job cuts.

Workers carrying banners saying "They have sold us to pirates" added to the chaos by blocking access roads and check-in counters at the voluminous, Richard Rogers-designed terminal used by Iberia and BA at Madrid's Barajas airport.

Unions blamed the impasse directly on Walsh, who chairs the IAG holding company and faced similar conflict with unions at BA four years ago. They threatened to hold a total of 15 strike days in February and March. Spanish newspapers quoted union officials as saying that Iberia's Spanish management were puppets whose strings were pulled by Irishman Walsh.

The strike was set to impact on the 120 airlines that subcontract airport handling services in Spain to Iberia. More than 200 flights by Iberia and its subsidiaries Vueling and Air Nostrum were cancelled on Monday.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:35:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Runoff called in Cyprus presidential vote - Europe - Al Jazeera English

The presidential election in Cyprus will go into a runoff after no candidate won an outright majority.

Nicos Anastasiades, a right-winger who presented himself as the most capable to negotiate a bailout with Cyprus' European partners, won the first round on Sunday, but with less than the 50 percent plus one vote needed for an outright victory.

With 99.5 percent of the vote counted, Anastasiades had 45.44 percent of the vote. He will face left-wing Stavros Malas in the February 24 runoff.

Malas won 26.93 percent of the vote and has advocated being more assertive in bailout negotiations so his country can win better conditions in return for rescue loans.

The election was seen as one of the most crucial since independence, with Cypriots voting for a new president to rescue the recession-hit European Union member state from bankruptcy.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:36:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Armenia President Serge Sarkisian 'wins new term'

Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has won a second five-year term in office, according to an exit poll.

The Gallup poll, carried by Armenian television, predicted that the president would win 58% of the vote.

His closest rival, Raffi Hovanessian, took 32%, the poll said.

Observers have criticised the election for failing to present voters with any real choice, after several of Mr Sarkisian's most well-known opponents withdrew from the contest.

One of the candidates was shot last month in a suspected assassination attempt.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Belarusian Border Guard Jailed For Teddy-Bear Air Drop
A Belarusian border guard has received two years in prison for failing to report last year's illegal border crossing by a Swedish plane that dropped stuffed bears with pro-democracy messages.

The Belarusian Supreme Court said on February 18 that the officer will serve his prison term in a maximum-security correctional facility.

Last summer, a Swedish advertising agency said it was inspired by Belarusian pro-democracy activists, who carried teddy bears with protest slogans, and hired a plane to drop similar stuffed animals over Belarus.

The plane entered Belarusian air space from neighboring Lithuania and dropped hundreds of teddy bears before safely returning to Sweden.
by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:38:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: Mediobanca says Italy won't have a stable government (19.02.2013)
An influential report on the Italian election says the most likely outcome is a period of prolonged instability; main scenario is for an uneasy Bersani/Monti alliance, which is unlikely to be sustainable; an election upset - in the form of stalemate or a last-minute Berlusconi victory - is seen as the best outcome because it would bring on a sudden sense of crisis, and drive the country quickly into an OMT programme and rekindle the flaring political dynamics of the eurozone rescue; Mario Monti said yesterday that he does not want anything to do with a leftwing coalition; Silvio Berlusconi has again attacked Angela Merkel, saying her east German background has made her too inflexible; says the fiscal pact is tantamount to a rule to prescribe single shoes size for men and women in the eurozone; Massimiliano Gallo says the media have underestimated - and consciously blackballed - Beppe Grillo, but no avail, as he is rising steadily in the polls; says the combined right - Grillo and Berlusconi - now have more support than the combined centre and left; with a polling blackout, bookmakers still give Bersani the highest odds of winning; Consob has alerted the Siena prosecutor of criminal market manipulation by Monte dei Paschi; the Spanish government will test the markets this week with a 10-year bond issue; Mariano Rajoy is about to announce a package of tax cuts and aid to small and medium sized companies; on its return to Athens, the troika is greeted with a 24 hour general strike; Les Echos has the details of the latest French consolidation measures; the head of Ireland's largest union wants the government to follow up on the promissory note deal with a relaxation of tax increases and spending cuts; the Wall Street Journal reports that the chances are good that Ireland can now negotiate a rescheduling of its EU loans; Irish trade unions mobilise against their government's decision to cut wage costs for front line public sector employees; core eurozone banks are repaying their LTRO loans but not peripheral banks as monetary friction widens again; the recovery in Germany's house prices has become more broadly based; Hugo Dixon says Bundesbank is not mad; Bill Mitchell says the most recent econometric evidence from the eurozone suggests that increases in wage costs go in line with increases in employment, and vice versa; Hans Werner Sinn says the rise in the euro is the consequences of a misguided monetary policy; Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi, meanwhile, warns that currency wars are for real because investors are flooding into the region least likely to engage in financial repression - the eurozone in other words.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:36:31 PM EST
German Minister: Recovery Hinges On Euro Zone Stability - WSJ.com

German Economy Minister Philipp Rösler warned that the return to strong growth in Europe's largest economy later this year depends on stabilization of the euro zone, even as the undecided outcome of Sunday's vote in Cyprus suggests the current calm is still tenuous.

Despite a marked deterioration of the euro-zone economy in the final months of last year, Mr. Rösler, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, expressed guarded optimism that European policy makers are getting the upper hand in the euro zone's three-year-old sovereign-debt crisis.

He said Germany's economy, which shrank 0.6% in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter, was hit by uncertainty about the currency bloc's economy, causing companies to hold back investment. That investment could resume flowing later this year, he said, if the crisis continues to abate.

"It is not the end of the crisis, but the beginning of the end of the crisis," Mr. Rösler said. "We are expecting strong growth during the course of the year and growth of 1.6% in 2014. The precondition for that is that the euro zone continues to stabilize."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:17:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. If the policy doesn't work, it will be because of "instability", term applied to democracy in subordinate countries.

Otherwise, the policy is working. Well, it will tomorrow.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 02:02:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"We are expecting strong growth during the course of the year and growth of 1.6% in 2014."

This is also clear indication that one quarter of at least 0.1% growth in 2013 will be regarded as proof that the policy is working perfectly. And maybe not even that.

Honestly, how can "strong growth" still mean anything now it's applied to something that will be much lower than 1.6% ?..

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 02:26:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Latvia to apply for eurozone membership within weeks | Business | The Guardian

Latvia, the EU's third poorest country, is to apply to join the euro within weeks, triggering an east European dash for entry that could push the eurozone to 20 countries from 17 in a few years.

The country's prime minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, said his government would formally apply to join the single currency at the start of next month with the aim of becoming the 18th member by the end of the year. Officials in Riga are consulting with the European commission and European Central Bank.

"It's just a technical issue now," Dombrovskis said. "By July the whole procedure should be finished."

Estonia joined the euro in 2011 at the very height of the currency and sovereign debt crisis - and has prospered ever since. Latvia, recovering from one of Europe's worst financial implosions in 2008-9 that saw the economy contract by a colossal 25%, hopes to emulate their neighbours. The third Baltic state, Lithuania, is expected to apply to join next year.

The Lithuanian prime minister, Algirdas Butkevicius, said: "An action plan has been prepared and a government resolution drafted." The plan is to be finalised this week with a view to joining the euro in 2015 after applying next year.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland's Euro Bid Requires Revamp Not Deadline: Rostowski - Bloomberg

Poland won't set a deadline to join the euro because the European Union's biggest eastern economy first needs revamping to avoid "unpleasant consequences" from adopting the currency, Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski said.

Euro-entry preparations, revived amid a lull in the currency region's debt crisis, will be the focus of talks today between central bank Governor Marek Belka and Prime Minister Donald Tusk's economic advisory council that begin at 4 p.m. in Warsaw, said three government officials, who asked not to be named as the information isn't yet public.

The government doesn't want to "give a time frame, but to point out that the debate we're having about joining the euro is first and foremost a debate about what we need to do as a country," Rostowski said in a Feb. 15 interview in London. "The point is to get away from the idea that this is some kind of a race, whereby we set a date and we have to be ready by that date."

Poland is providing evidence that reports of the possible demise of the euro are exaggerated. Former International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Kenneth Rogoff, hedge-fund manager John Paulson, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President Gary Cohn and Nouriel Roubini, dubbed Dr. Doom for predicting hard times before the global financial crisis began in 2008, all expressed views that the currency would break up.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:33:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reader's Digest Is Bankrupt as Iconic Magazine Falters - Bloomberg

RDA Holding Co., publisher of the 91-year-old Reader's Digest magazine, filed for bankruptcy to cut $465 million in debt and focus on North American operations as consumers shift from print to electronic media.

The company is the latest in a line of iconic businesses to have recently sought court protection from creditors, after Hostess Brands Inc., maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and Eastman Kodak Co., inventor of Kodachrome and the Instamatic camera.

Reader's Digest, founded by DeWitt and Lila Wallace, went public in 1990. An investor group led by private-equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC bought it in 2007 for $1.6 billion and the assumption of about $800 million in debt. The company also filed for bankruptcy in August 2009, citing a drop in advertising spending and the debt load incurred in its acquisition.

The company listed assets and debt of more than $1 billion each in Chapter 11 documents filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York. Under a restructuring agreement supported by Wells Fargo & Co., $465 million of remaining senior notes will all convert to equity. The company expects to have about $100 million in debt when it exits Chapter 11, about an 80 percent reduction.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:40:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too long, could we have a digest version?

Probably not hip anymore. Aging demographic not being renewed.
Today "not growing fast enough" means "dying" to decision makers.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 08:49:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh the eternal icons of our youth. Kodak. Pan Am. Readers' Digest. Who's next?

We'll always have coca-cola. At least, until a decent class-action suit gets up some steam.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 08:58:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US business hits out at `Obamacare' costs - FT.com

US retailers and restaurants chains that employ millions of low-wage workers are considering cutting working hours or paying fines rather than enrolling employees in health insurance plans under Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law.

Employers are concerned that the law increases the cost of insuring employees on existing plans, partly by broadening the range of benefits. It also requires companies to insure some employees not previously covered.

David Dillon, chief executive of the Kroger supermarket chain, told the Financial Times that some companies might opt to pay a government-mandated penalty for not providing insurance because it was cheaper than the cost of coverage.

Nigel Travis, head of Dunkin' Brands, said his doughnut chain was lobbying to change the definition of "full-time" employees eligible for coverage from those working at least 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:45:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we still on "another $.13 per pizza"? Is that the kind of horrendous cost these companies cannot survive?

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 08:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
G20 crisis control stuck in crisis of its own | Business | DW.DE | 18.02.2013

G20 finance ministers have concluded a two-day meeting in Moscow - without deciding on anything. It looks as if the group's emergency service plan will be left to put out the financial fires without water or hoses.

At their meeting in Moscow on the weekend, finance ministers of the world's 20 leading industrialized nations set out to put out several fires at once, or at least improve protection mechanisms with regard to the global financial order. Among other things, they wanted to reach an agreement on how to keep shadow banking systems at bay and avoid a currency war.

In their closing statement, the finance ministers sharply condemned the attempts by some nations to devalue their currencies. That condemnation was perhaps clearer in words than could have been expected, but concrete measures were not agreed on, a fact that did not go down well with many financial players. Baader Bank's Stefan Scharfetter told DW at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange  that he was not pleased with the results.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:47:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
without deciding on anything

It's comforting to see that traditions are respected.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 02:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal - NYTimes.com

Here's the 40-year history of the real dollar:

What you see right away is that the dollar fluctuates a lot, so impressions of big decline depend a lot on your starting point. Think of it this way: maybe the question isn't why the dollar fell so much during the Bush years, but rather why it was so strong during the late Clinton years. (The tech boom/bubble is an obvious answer).

It's also interesting to ask who the dollar declined against. And the main answer is Canada and Europe, which together account for more than a third of the overall dollar index. Here's the exchange rate against the euro and the exchange rate against the loonie; both are nominal, not real rates, but since Canadian and European inflation rates are low and close to ours, that's not a problem:

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:50:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:36:38 PM EST
Plan for govt of technocrats has failed, Tunisian PM says - TUNISIA - FRANCE 24

Tunisia's Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said on Monday that the country's main political parties had failed to form a cabinet of independent technocrats after the country was thrown into turmoil by the assassination of an opposition politician early this month.

"The initiative of a cabinet of technocrats did not receive full political consensus and failed ... but work is continuing with all parties in order to form a government which has the agreement of most of the political parties," Jebali told a news conference.

Jebali said he would meet with President Moncef Marzouki on Tuesday to discuss the country's next steps.

Media reports also said the leader of President Moncef Marzouki's Congress for the Republic party had resigned.

Tunisia was plunged into a political crisis after the assassination on Feb. 6 of a leftist opposition politician sparked anti-government riots around the country.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tunisia Islamist Leader Says New Govt. Coming
The head of Tunisia's largest political party says the country's crisis will be solved by a new government of technocrats and politicians.

The veteran leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, Rachid Ghannouchi, said the main parties agree on a limited Cabinet that would work toward holding new elections as quickly as possible.

Earlier, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said his plan for a strictly non-partisan government did not have sufficient support and he would discuss the next steps with President Moncef Marzouki. He said a solution should emerge "in the coming days."

Ennahda, his party, had rejected his initiative, but said it still wants Mr. Jebali to remain as the head of state.
by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian government ready to talk with armed groups - minister | Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria is prepared to talk to armed opposition groups, the minister for national reconciliation said on Monday, the first time the government has offered to hold direct negotiations with rebel forces it long dismissed as terrorists.

It was not clear if the comments by Ali Haidar, who is not in President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle of decision-makers, reflect a substantive change in policy.

Assad said in January that there would be no dialogue with people he called traitors or "puppets made by the West".

The political chasm between the government and rebels and a lack of opposition influence over rebel fighters has allowed fighting to rage on for 23 months in Syria. The United Nations says almost 70,000 people have been killed.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria Comment

Peter Harling via ft:

"There is a dual process of consolidation," he said. "The opposition is consolidating in the north and east, and the regime is consolidating in central Syria and the coast and mountains."

Even the loss of new swaths of territory and oilfields is unlikely to be a fatal blow to the regime however, argues Mr Harling. "This regime is bleeding from so many cuts," he said, "it presumably will adjust, as always."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN: Both sides committing war crimes in Syria - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syrians in "leadership positions" who may be responsible for war crimes have been identified, along with units accused of perpetrating them, UN investigators say.

Both government forces and armed rebels are committing war crimes, including killings and torture, spreading terror among civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict, they said on Monday.

The investigators' latest report, covering the six months to mid-January, was based on 445 interviews conducted abroad with victims and witnesses, as they have not been allowed into Syria.

The independent team, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, called on the UN Security Council to "act urgently to ensure accountability" for grave violations, possibly by referring the violators to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

"The international community, and the UN Security Council, must take the decision to refer this to justice," Carla del Ponte, a former UN prosecutor and a member of the commission, said.

"We suggest the International Criminal Court."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:01:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"375,000 Syrians have come to Jordan since March 2011, which is 6-7% of our population. In American numbers, at that rate, this is 17-18 million people."  The spillover effects of the Syria conflict were very much on the mind of Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh during a wide-ranging conversation over coffee in Washington last week.  His government's focus for Syria was very much on finding a political transition which, he said, "everybody realizes at this stage is the only game in town."  His other primary preoccupation was to advance a narrative of successful reform following Parliamentary elections against my more cynical perspective.

On the problem of Syrian refugees, Judeh and I had little about which to disagree. Jordan has good reason to be concerned about the impact of Syrian refugees on the Kingdom. The flow from Syria has been more intense than the wave of Iraqi refugees during the last decade:  faster, more concentrated, and with no end in sight.  The early accommodations for a much smaller refugee flow have struggled to keep pace, and Jordanians are feeling the strain from hosting this massive influx (things have only gotten worse since this sharply reported FP account by Nicholas Seeley a few months ago).  

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:03:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
S African activist forms party to take on ANC - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Mamphela Ramphele, an anti-apartheid activist and co-founder of South Africa's Black Conscious Movement, has announced the formation of a new political party to take on the 101-year-old African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela.

The 65-year-old medical doctor and social anthropologist told a news conference on Monday that her party will serve millions of South Africans who want a new beginning.

"Join me in building the South Africa of our dreams," she said.

She accused the governing party of corruption, of undermining democracy, and of abusing power.

"The dream has faded for the many living in poverty and destitution in our increasingly unequal society," Ramphele, a former World Bank managing director, said.

Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, said Ramphele also talked about the high unemployment among the young people in South Africa.

"About 50 percent of 18 to 24 year olds in this country are unemployed," Page said. "She wanted that to be addressed through economic restructuring, and she wants education to be improved."    

Ramphele said her party, called Agang in the Sesotho language meaning "Build", will be funded by South Africans at home and abroad.

This will be the the second attempt of former ANC-members to create a new opposition party. The first one didn't fare well and collapsed under the weight of male chauvinistic bickering and swollen egos.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:07:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ecuador Re-Elects Correa on Vow to Spend Amid Record Deficit - Bloomberg

Rafael Correa was re-elected as Ecuador's president yesterday after pledging to boost spending on the poor while the country runs up its biggest-ever budget deficit.

Preliminary voting tallies showed Correa with 57 percent of the vote in his bid for another four-year term, the National Electoral Council said yesterday. With 71 percent of the ballots counted, Correa's nearest rival, Guillermo Lasso, had polled 23 percent, the agency said. Final results will be released in days, the agency said.

Correa, Ecuador's first president to be re-elected since 1968, begins a new term with few options to finance his campaign pledges as stagnant oil prices and slumping growth limit funds to boost outlays on social welfare. The self-described socialist revolutionary, who dubbed foreign bondholders "true monsters" when he defaulted on $3.2 billion of debt in 2008, may now return to overseas credit markets to take advantage of a record rally in high-yield debt to help fund spending needed to sustain an economic expansion.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:10:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hugo Chávez Returns to Venezuela - WSJ.com
Venezuela President Hugo Chávez made a surprise return home early Monday after more than two months in Cuba for treatment of cancer, a move that is unlikely to quell speculation that his delicate health could force him from office after 14 years in charge of the oil-rich South American nation.

The 58-year-old president, who until Friday had not been seen nor heard from while in medical care, announced his arrival with a series of messages on Twitter. "We have arrived once again to the Venezuelan fatherland. Thank you my God! Thank you my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment," he wrote in his first posts on the social media site since Nov. 1.

Mr. Chávez went on to thank retired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl, the current president of the Communist island, and offered his gratitude to "Venezuela for so much love." Mr. Chávez was transported to Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in Caracas, where he will resume his regimen, according to a Twitter message from Venezuela Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, who is also the president's son-in-law.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The subject is from Ha'aretz. The New York Times is pretending to be above such comments.
His foreign minister had to resign after being accused of fraud. He was sharply criticized for his government's handling of Prisoner X, who committed suicide in prison. And now this, which made front-page news in Israel over the weekend: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands accused of dipping into state coffers for an ice cream budget of $2,700 a year.

Pistachio, it was revealed by the proprietors of a gourmet ice cream parlor a couple of blocks from the premier's official residence, is his favorite (presumably not made with an Iranian variety of the nut). Mrs. Netanyahu, they said, appears to prefer French vanilla.

In a country facing severe cuts in government spending after an election that focused largely on the struggling middle class, and with the Netanyahus' supposed taste for the high life already under scrutiny, news of the prime minister's weakness for artisanal pistachio ice cream raised a national outcry.

As this article shows, the assumption by the reporter that the pistacchios are not from Iran may be rather naive.....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:04:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"French" vanilla? Isn't vanilla the single export of Madagascar?

I thought Iranian pistachios were suppose to be among the best, if not the best.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:05:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And who do you think was the colonial power in Madagascar, hm?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:13:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Originally from Mexico, vanilla was cultivated in French territories in the Indian Ocean following the discovery of a hand-pollination method in 1841 (see Wiki), hence the name. Nowadays, most of the vanilla produced is grown in Madagascar, Réunion island (formerly Isle Bourbon) and the Comoros islands, all either former French colonies or present day overseas French territories.

Because of its sheer size (and because Coca Cola has encouraged large scale plantations for its vanilla Coke), Madagascar dwarfs the other much smaller island countries.

by Bernard on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:05:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, so vanilla really is French!

Just like chocolate is ... Spanish.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Vanilla is "French" only in English language (and maybe other?), just like French fries, French windows and, er, Belgian waffles: for the French (and Walloon Belgians) it's plain vanilla (pun intended), "door-windows" (portes-fenêtres) and gaufres.
by Bernard on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:51:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the distinction between "French vanilla" and "plain vanilla" definitely exists with respect to ice cream, in France, even if it's not labelled as such.

(And proper waffles are Lyonnais.)

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

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:55:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Add "French kiss", which in French is "rolling a shovel".

But not "French nails". I'm not sure where these were invented, but even in French this style of manucure is called "une French".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 11:25:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, well, though it's only in English, it was my line during the freedom fries nonsense that I was more than happy to let go of the French fries (which I don't think ever were French anyway) as long as I could keep the French kiss.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 12:32:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French vanilla has the same relation to vanilla as "beef"  these days has to beef.
The term French vanilla is often used to designate preparations with a strong vanilla aroma, contain vanilla grains and may also contain eggs (especially egg yolks). The appellation originates from the French style of making vanilla ice cream with a custard base, using vanilla pods, cream, and egg yolks.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oscar-nominated "Lincoln," which depicts the political fight to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, played a role in Mississippi officially ratifying the amendment this month -- a century and a half later.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 06:07:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha'aretz reports that Livni, head of The Movement, is ready to sign a coalition agreement with Netanyahu. She will get the Justice Ministry, her party another cabinet seat (maybe environmental protection), and she will be "involved" in the "peace process".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:01:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:36:44 PM EST
France reinstates licence for firm in horsemeat scandal - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

France on Monday partially renewed the licence of the meat-processing firm Spanghero that was suspended when it was accused of passing off Romanian horsemeat as beef.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll told AFP that the firm would again be allowed to produce minced meat, sausages and ready-to-eat meals, but would no longer be allowed to stock frozen meats.

Spaghero's licence to process meat was suspended last Thursday as the French authorities accused the company of buying some 750 tonnes of horsemeat over an estimated six-month period from Romanian abattoirs through Dutch and Cypriot intermediaries.

Spanghero is accused of deliberately re-labelling the product "Beef, origin EU" and making profits of hundreds of thousands of euros as they benefited from the cheaper price of horsemeat.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:42:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
British Author Susanna Forrest on the Horsemeat Scandal in Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The trail of hoofprints leading to the Findus lasagna begins in 2007 in Romania. In an effort to cut the number of horse-related traffic accidents and appease the EU, Romania banned the use of donkey- and horse-drawn carts on main roads. The result: a sudden surplus of horses that were transformed from economic asset to resource drain. Some were abandoned and some were cashed in at auction by their owners, heading south for butchery so that they could have the distinction of becoming salami that was "Made in Italy".

Horses are physically ill adapted for long-distance transportation, having a high center of gravity (leading to falls) and being more prone to dehydration than their bovine fellow travelers. The campaign for meat horses to travel "on the hook and not on the hoof" is now over a century old, but although the European Parliament voted in late 2012 to introduce new welfare restrictions, the European Commission seems reluctant to change current laws. Romanian horses were among the most traveled in the most heinous conditions, but had a reprieve in 2010 when the EU stepped in to restrict their export because equine infectious anemia, or "Horse AIDS," was endemic in the country. They were killed at home instead.

The meat was purchased at €2 ($2.68) a kilo by a Cyprus-based firm called Draap Trading Ltd and sold to French food processors Spanghero and Comigel, who wittingly or unwittingly transformed it into frozen dinners labeled as containing beef. Draap, as several commentators have pointed out, is simply the Dutch word for horse, spelled in reverse. Neither Comigel nor Spanghero were deterred by the fact that Draap's director, Jan Fasen, was tried on charges of fraud in 2012 for passing off horse flesh from South America as beef from Germany and Holland.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French charities ready to hand out horsemeat - The Local

Those keeping track of the on-going, Europe-wide horsemeat scandal, might have wondered at some point or another, what is to become of all those recalled frozen dinners.

They may soon have an answer, as some of France's leading charities have made it clear they would be prepared to comandeer the tonnes of recalled microwave meals containing horsemeat, so they can be distributed among their poverty-stricken beneficiaries.

So far, six French supermarkets have recalled, or are planning to recall, thousands of ready-made dishes found to contain horsemeat, despite being labelled as beef.

Not wishing to see tonnes of food go to waste, three food aid charities - Restos du Coeur (`restaurants with heart') Secours populaire (People rescue) and Banque Alimentaire (the food bank) - are interested in getting hold of the meals and re-distributing them among the poor, as long as they posed no health risk.

The three charities met last week to try to work out a plan of action.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:44:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DutchNews.nl - After horse in lasagne, now it's bacteria in Swedish burgers

Dutch food safety inspectors on Monday carried out emergency checks on a meat processing firm in Enschede, following reports it had supplied meat contaminated with the potentially lethal EHEC bacteria to a Swedish wholesaler.

Some 6 tonnes of hamburger and kebab have been removed from Swedish supermarket shelves after two children became ill eating meat which was not properly cooked, Nos television said.

Later research showed some of the meat contained the EHEC bacteria, a variant of E.coli. According to the Swedish media, it was sourced in the Netherlands.


On Monday afternoon, inspectors visited the Beimer Meat company in Enschede where meat is portioned for consumer use, the NRC said.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:45:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
would no longer be allowed to stock frozen meats.

This too is a suspension, not a permanent ban.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 02:19:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice to see they haven't been left out :

Nestlé finds horsemeat in pasta meals | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Nestlé withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn.

Nestlé was suspending deliveries of all products made using beef from a German subcontractor to one of its suppliers, the company said.

Germany! That's what was missing from this dossier. What's the word : Pferdfleisch?

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

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, Germany was getting pretty sniffy about it all, like they were victims of everyone else's swindling cheating duplicity. I saw the German minister for (something to do with consumers or health) on TV last night complaining about it.

In Germany, y'see, food is only prepared according to traditional recipes by comely young damsels in dirndls. There is no (developing) agro-food industry using no-minimum-wage Romanian labour and undercutting the cheating feckless foreigners' food industries, oh no.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 06:26:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Germany, y'see, food is only prepared according to traditional recipes by comely young damsels in dirndls. There is no (developing) agro-food industry using no-minimum-wage Romanian labour and undercutting the cheating feckless foreigners' food industries, oh no.
If you believe that, I have a cucumber to sell you...

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 08:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to have fallen for German propaganda. Romania has a minimum wage. It's Germany that doesn't.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 08:59:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
traditional recipes by comely young damsels in dirndls.

Nigella gets around, doesn't she?

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the daughter of Lord Climate-Denial and Lady Joe Lyons?

Is she still a damsel?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:35:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nigella comes in the round.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 12:18:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not simply an evil company, then.
Also just as incompetent as the rest.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:24:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
having worked for them a bit (water division).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:50:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Electricity bills set Bulgaria on fire | EurActiv
Tens of thousands of Bulgarians protested in more than 20 cities on Sunday (17 February) against high electricity bills and called for Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his centre-right government to resign.

Protestors shut down roads and intersections, hurled eggs and bottles at public buildings and burned their electricity bills, some shouting 'mafia'.

Electricity bills for January sparked mass outrage, news reports said. Many Bulgarians say that they are unable to pay their bills, which average more than €100. Bulgaria has the lowest average salary in the EU, €387 a month. The average pension stands at €150, and the base pension is €76.

The protestors accused three foreign-owned energy companies of raking in windfall profits and didn't buy the explanation that January had been an exceptionally cold month.

Bulgaria's power distribution market is divided into three regions, controlled by Czech firms ČEZ and Energo-Pro and Austria's EVN

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Groups urge EU to scrap 'wasteful' ETS : theparliament.com
A growing group of civil society organisations are calling on the EU to abolish its emissions trading scheme (ETS).

They say the ETS faces "many structural loopholes" that proposed reform proposals put forward by EU policy makers will not be able to address.

The attack comes ahead of a vote on Tuesday by parliament's environment committee on the commission's so-called "back-loading" proposal.

The EU ETS created the biggest carbon market in the world and now serves as a model for other countries. China is setting up a system with EU support and is planning to link it to the EU ETS.

Other countries and regions such as Brazil, Korea, Australia, California in the US and Quebec in Canada have similar plans.

Joanna Cabello, from Carbon Trade Watch, said, "Although advertised as a way to fix the failing ETS, it is nothing but a drop in the ocean. The EU's flagship policy to address climate change has diverted attention from the need to transform the system's dependency on fossil fuels and growing consumption, resulting in increased emissions.
by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:53:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Market for Emissions Allowances Falters as Costs Drop - WSJ.com

Europe's flagship effort to limit greenhouse-gas emissions faces an existential threat as the price of emissions has fallen dramatically, eroding an incentive for industries to pollute less and forcing policy makers to weigh environmental priorities against economic concerns.

With the cost of emitting carbon dioxide often around €5 ($6.70) a ton--a third of what it was 18 months ago--utilities in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland are reconsidering plans to phase out coal-fired plants.

On Tuesday, the environment committee of the European Parliament is set to vote on a proposal that would allow the European Union to delay the release of 900 million emissions allowances to the market by about five years in an effort to keep the price of permits from falling further, and eventually push it up.

The faltering of the market--known as the EU Emissions Trading System, or ETS, which like cap and trade programs creates a cost to pollute and rewards low emissions--is calling into question its effectiveness as a model of addressing global warming and encouraging the development of alternative energy.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:26:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Water on the moon: It's been there all along
races of water have been detected within the crystalline structure of mineral samples from the lunar highland upper crust obtained during the Apollo missions, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.

The lunar highlands are thought to represent the original crust, crystallized from a magma ocean on a mostly molten early moon. The new findings indicate that the early moon was wet and that water there was not substantially lost during the moon's formation.

The results seem to contradict the predominant lunar formation theory -- that the moon was formed from debris generated during a giant impact between Earth and another planetary body, approximately the size of Mars, according to U-M's Youxue Zhang and his colleagues.

"Because these are some of the oldest rocks from the moon, the water is inferred to have been in the moon when it formed," Zhang said. "That is somewhat difficult to explain with the current popular moon-formation model, in which the moon formed by collecting the hot ejecta as the result of a super-giant impact of a martian-size body with the proto-Earth.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:13:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia Scientists Test Meteor Pieces After Chelyabinsk Blast - Bloomberg

More than 50 meteor fragments are being examined after a rock from space exploded over Chelyabinsk last week and sent shock waves across Russia's Urals region that shattered glass, injuring more than 1,200 people.

Scientists found 53 fragments ranging in size from 1 millimeter to 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) near Chebarkul Lake, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the city of Chelyabinsk, Alexei Ishchenko, a member of the expedition from the Urals Federal University, said by phone.

The meteor blast over the Chelyabinsk region, which has a population of 3.6 million people, was the largest recorded since the Tunguska event flattened more than 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of Siberian forest in 1908. The object entered the atmosphere at 9:20 a.m. local time on Feb. 15, hours before an unrelated asteroid half the length of a football field hurtled past the Earth.

"The fragments were found deep in the snow and ice around the lake," Ishchenko said. "They're now being tested."

Chelyabinsk police are investigating sales of meteor pieces via websites, the Interior Ministry's local division said in an e-mailed statement. Supposed meteorites have been put up for sale at prices ranging from 10,000 rubles ($330) to 500,000 rubles, according to the statement. The police are seeking the people behind the offers.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia asks: How do you stop space objects hitting Earth? | Reuters

What can man do to prevent Earth being hit by meteorites and asteroids?

Russia has found, to its cost, that it has no answers. But U.S. and European experts may be able to help with a few ideas that at first glance seem straight out of science fiction, including smashing spacecraft into asteroids, using the sun's rays to vaporize them, or blasting them with nuclear bombs.

That should come as some relief to the many worried Russians who want something done immediately, even though scientists say the explosion of a meteor over central Russia on Friday was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"We must create a system to detect objects that threaten Earth and neutralize them," Dmitry Rogozin, a first deputy prime minister in charge of the defense industry, wrote on Twitter.

For all their nuclear missiles, he said that neither the United States nor Russia could shoot down such meteors. Even President Vladimir Putin held up his hands, saying no country was able to protect against such events.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:16:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to release first results

The scientist leading one of the most expensive experiments ever put into space says the project is ready to come forward with its first results.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) was put on the International Space Station to survey the skies for high-energy particles, or cosmic rays.

Nobel Laureate Sam Ting said the scholarly paper to be published in a few weeks would concern dark matter.

This is the unseen material whose gravity holds galaxies together.

Researchers do not know what form this mysterious cosmic component takes, but one theory points to it being some very weakly interacting massive particle (or Wimp for short).

Although telescopes cannot detect the Wimp, there are high hopes that AMS can confirm its existence and describe some of its properties from indirect measures.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dark matter search from the space station continues to tease : Nature News Blog

Nobel prize winner Samuel Ting  (pictured) likes to keep people guessing. Nowhere was this more true than at his press conference this morning at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston. The AAAS had suggested that Ting would be ready to present the first dark matter results from his brainchild, the $1.5 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), basically a giant magnet and antimatter detector fixed to the outside of the International Space Station. Ting was prefaced by a line-up of physicist colleagues who described themselves as "very excited". But Ting ended up only disappointing them and around 100 reporters who had gathered for the press conference. Ting said he wasn't ready to make an announcement yet. "In 2-3 weeks, we should be ready," he said.

Ting did say that he is on the verge of releasing a paper showing how the ratio of positrons (the antimatter counterpart of electrons) to electrons passing through the space station's near-Earth orbit varies with energy. That ratio is a key parameter in the search for dark matter, which is thought to make up 85% of the matter in the Universe. Some theories predict that dark matter particles will annihilate in space, producing an excess of positrons that particle detectors can capture. At least two space missions, the Payload for Antimatter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics (PAMELA) and the Fermi space telescope, have already seen hints of such an antimatter excess,  but they have not captured a killer signature. Ting hopes that his more sensitive spectrometer can nail the signal, which would show up as an abrupt bump in the excess at a particular energy. Alternative astrophysical sources, like pulsars, could also produce an excess, but couldn't as easily produce a sharp bump.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:21:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear power: ministers offer reactor deal until 2050 | Environment | The Guardian

The government is launching a last-ditch attempt to sign up energy companies to build new nuclear power stations by proposing to sign contracts guaranteeing subsidies for up to 40 years.

The coalition agreement reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in 2010 promised that nuclear power stations would be built only if the industry got no public subsidy, but costly overruns for new reactors overseas and the exit of several major utilities from the UK programme, most recently Centrica, have driven ministers and officials to backtrack on that pledge and accept they will have to provide financial support.

The Guardian has learned that ministers, intent on keeping the guaranteed wholesale cost of each unit of energy below the politically crucial figure of £100 per megawatt hour, are proposing to extend contracts from the 20 years originally envisaged to at least 30 and possibly as long as 40 years.

"To build the full 16GW (gigawatt) at the same price would cost £250bn over 40-year contracts, and over 30-year contracts £150bn," said Tom Burke, a founding director of the environmental campaign group E3G.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French people electricity bills expected to increase "up to 30%" by 2017, and it's all the renewable energies fault:

Electricity bills set to rocket by 30 per cent - The Connexion

ELECTRICITY bills are set to rocket 30% from now until 2016 - with a large part of the increase being due to investment in developing renewable energy supplies.

The energy watchdog Commission de Régulation de l'Energie (CRE) has released projections showing that households will bear the brunt of the rise with a 30% increase in the tarif bleu for householders and small businesses, 23.7% for businesses on tarif jaune and 16% for tarif vert businesses.

Efforts to make renewable energy supply 23% of France's needs make up about one-third of the increase with the remainder for the building of new power supply networks and increasing power production. However, a boost could come from wind-power with the sector becoming less reliant on aid and able to contribute to the economy.
by Bernard on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:18:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To give him his due, Proglio is actually quoted as saying

Electricity bills set to rocket by 30 per cent - The Connexion

EDF chief executive Henri Proglio has said that he is going into negotiations with the government to renegotiate electricity prices and wanted a "reasonable rise in the years to come".

He pointed to the high costs of maintaining the national grid and financing renewable power and pointed to higher-than-expected costs for the country's backbone of nuclear power plants

i.e. he recognises that a large proportion of the added costs will be for upgrading our already-perfect nuclear plants to post-Fukushima audit standards.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 09:55:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't want to quote the article in (almost) full, but sources in English languages are scarce and I didn't feel like translating today...

The key point is: once again, renewables are framed as the main contributors to rising energy bills and you can be sure this framing will be used to push more "traditional" French energy sources that do not "rely on subsidies", no siree...

by Bernard on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:10:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:36:49 PM EST
BBC News - EU 'may take action' against Google over privacy policy

EU watchdogs plan to take action against Google by this summer over the web giant's current privacy policy, French privacy regulator CNIL has said.

Since March, Google has been combining data from across its sites to potentially better target adverts - which regulators see as "high risk" to people's privacy.

Last October, the firm was given four months to revise its policy.

Google said its actions did comply with EU law.

The new policy was implemented after the company combined 60 separate privacy policies into one agreement.

CNIL said the internet giant had not yet made the changes demanded by the regulators.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:22:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Regulators Weigh New Google Crackdown - WSJ.com
Privacy regulators from France and other European Union countries have proposed a coordinated crackdown before summer on Google Inc.'s privacy practices, escalating European efforts to reshape how global companies treat user data.

France's privacy watchdog said Monday it and an unspecified number of other European regulators want to coordinate a "repressive action" against Google, after the company had failed to give "precise and effective" answers to a warning that all 27 EU national regulators issued in October. The full group of privacy regulators, known as the Article 29 group, is scheduled to vote on the proposal at the end of February.

Led by France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, the group said in October that Google's treatment of user data doesn't comply with European law. They recommended that Google implement a list of changes--such as easier opt-outs for targeted advertising--to get back in line.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:23:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Catholic Church Searches for Renewal and a New Pope - SPIEGEL ONLINE

A shift is taking place in the otherwise immovable Catholic Church. A global struggle has begun over the prerogative of interpretation, opportunities, legacy and positions -- a silent battle for Rome.

The ultimate effects of the pope's resignation are thus far impossible to predict. But it is clear that previous certainties will now be up for debate -- certainties that were once just as firm as the understanding that the position of pope was for life.

In the modern age, a pope has never resigned from the office, one that some believe is the most important on earth. There hasn't been an ex-pontiff since the last years of the Schism, after Gregory XII and the Avignon pope agreed to resign to reunite the church. That was the last time that an ex-pope spent the rest of his days strolling around the Vatican gardens as nothing but a simple brother. Never before has the decision of a single pope presented such a challenge to the Catholic Church as this one. Zero hour has begun at the Vatican. The pope's resignation was certainly "great" within Dante's meaning. But it was not made through cowardice. On the contrary, it was probably the most courageous step in a long-drifting papacy marred by scandals and misunderstandings.

With his revolt against tradition and the church machinery, Benedict XVI may have brought more change to the church than he did in the seven years and 10 months of his papal reign.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:25:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To misquote Shakespeare

Nothing in his papacy
Became him like the leaving it.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:23:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is a Pope who will be capable of healing the deep and lasting divisions caused...

... by his nomination.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:37:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IPS - Switzerland Checks Mercenaries, Partially | Inter Press Service

The Swiss government has presented a draft law regulating the private military industry but critics argue the law is toothless.

On Mar. 24 2010, a newly founded holding company was registered in Basel's commercial register. Its name was Aegis Group Holdings AG. A few months later, on Aug. 2, it was noted that the holding had taken control over the London-based Aegis Defence Services Ltd.

AEGIS describes itself as "a leading private security and risk management company." As such, it has been providing its services worldwide, including in war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The company's relocation caught the government as well as the public by surprise. More private military companies (PMCs) were expected to move to Switzerland, trying to profit from the country's political stability, low business taxes and its peaceful and neutral image.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:27:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Michelin Guide 2013 stingy with restaurant stars - GASTRONOMY - FRANCE 24

Chef Arnaud Donckele reached the holy grail of gastronomy after Michelin awarded his restaurant, La Vague d'Or, a third star, with the release of its 2013 top tables guide on Monday.

The restaurant, housed in Saint Tropez's Résidence de la Pinède on the French Riviera, is the only new top ranking in the France guide, bringing the number of members in the exclusive three-star club to 27.

Donckele's cuisine has been described as Mediterranean-inspired, with an emphasis on locally-produced vegetables and citrus fruits.

And at 35-years-old, he is the youngest of the 27 chefs currently holding a three-star rating.

"He's young, but he has an extraordinary past," Michelin Guide's International Director Michael Ellis told AFP.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:28:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course two of those stars are awarded to "Saint Tropez".

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:06:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:36:56 PM EST

Europeans on this date in history:

1804 - birth of Baron Carl von Rokitansky, a Bohemian physician and pathologist, who spurred the development of scientifically-oriented medicine.  

More here and here

by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:44:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:37:02 PM EST
A look at case facing Oscar Pistorius, charged with murder in girlfriend's shooting death - The Washington Post

South Africa's prosecutors will begin explaining Tuesday why they accuse Olympian Oscar Pistorius of committing murder in the Valentine's Day shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius hasn't entered a plea in the case, though his family has said they strongly deny the 26-year-old double-amputee runner committed murder. They have not, however, denied outright that Pistorius shot Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law school graduate who is featured in a South African reality television show.

Here are some facts about the case that has shaken a nation that idolized the runner:

by Nomad on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:25:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 06:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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