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23-24 February 2013

by DoDo Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:33:21 PM EST

Your take on today's news media


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*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:02:20 PM EST
Italian election: Surge in popularity for eurosceptic protest party headed by stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo raises fears in EU - Europe - World - The Independent

The political establishment in both Italy and the EU was quaking today after claims that a eurosceptic protest party headed by a stand-up comedian, would finish with the second largest share of the vote when Italians go to the polls this weekend.

Secret research conducted by the centre-left Democratic Party suggests the Five Star protest movement of comic Beppe Grillo, which wants a referendum on Euro membership, has continued to surge in popularity since official polls were halted in the run up to the general election.

Corriere della Sera said that these gains mean the demagogue comedian and his party of political ingénues would win a larger share of the vote than Silvio Berlusconi's conservative PDL party and will have well over 100 MPs.

The mainstream, pro-Europe Democratic Party would still be favourite to form a government. But crucially,  pundits say the surge in Mr Grillo's support appears to be coinciding with a fall in support for the centrist coalition of outgoing premier Mario Monti.

Just two days ago, I caught the end of a report on German private TV Sat.1 which talked about "Berlusconi and Grillo" as equal ills of and dangers to Italy. This new international media campaign against Grillo means he managed to scare the establishment like Syriza did (tough my impression is that Syriza was both more reasonable in its approach and more potent to shake things up). (Sat.1 is part of a media empire originally owned by right-wing German billionaires, currently majority-owned by a joint venture of a US and a British private equity, and probably the most explicitly biased on the German TV media landscape today.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi flexes media muscle in final tax offensive - ITALY - FRANCE 24
After a 13-month spell under the technocratic government of Prime Minister Mario Monti, Italians return to the polls on Sunday with the centre-left coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani tipped to defeat Berlusconi's People of Liberty (PDL) party and his Northern League allies.

A whirlwind tour of television sets has helped the "Cavaliere" reduce the gap in opinion polls from 17 percent a month ago to just four percent when the last surveys were published on February 8. The three-time former prime minister is now hoping a last flurry of televised appearances will help tip the scale in his favour.

In a country where elections are fought and won on television sets, Silvio Berlusconi is an unrivalled competitor - not least because he owns most of the channels.

..In this case, the political debate has been restricted to a single three-letter word: IMU, the reviled property tax introduced by Monti's government (with, incidentally, the support of Berlusconi's own party).



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:02:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi really had no choice to force early elections but I think his attempts to seize the initiative have been largely played off by the other seasoned players in the electoral competition as well as Grillo's grass-roots PostModTech surge. Cesare Borgia in his prime was the dominus of Italian politics but was too full of himself not to know when his time was finished. In his twilight he was outwitted by paternal smiles and simple patience. Gone were the days when he could hack his own lieutenants to pieces and expose the remains on the town square to gain consensus among the plebs. In general Berlusconi has made an ass of himself, and his nihilist diaspora has done no better. What may have cost him several points was when he asked a young sales representative how many times she came when she made love and if she could just turn around again so he could admire her ass. The stock market has already voted against him.

The PD (partito democratico) under Pierluigi Bersani finally found its left-of-center identity after the disastrous veltronismo phase and the previous neutered coalition patched together by Prodi in 2006. It is likely to be the winning coalition. Veltroni's right-of-center Camelot goodiness in 2008 provoked mass abstention on the left while Bersani's strong insistence on Leftist principals along with his alliance with Nichi Vendola may motivate voters to get back to the polls. Grillo too may reduce abstention both on the right and left. His five-star movement may actually be the big surprise, placing at least third if not second.

Monti recalls those aged and respectable savants who finally decide to let it all hang out for once in their lifetimes. He has made significant contributions to the trash atmosphere that distinguished this electoral campaign. The effect is touching and amusing but far too distant from people's daily problems. He'll be lucky to get 11 %.

Fortunately for once, the Church is out on this election because of the major looming scandal that will likely decimate the Vatican Curia in the coming weeks. A hasty new pope is urgently needed so as to shake-up the Curia on the pretence that a new leader brings in his own team. Without this face-saving trick, Ratzinger would have had to use heavy artillery against his very own.

This evening Grillo filled Piazza San Giovanni in Rome, the venerable May Day venue of yesteryear. Organizers claim 800,000 souls present but even if it were a third of that it was impressive. He launched into his familiar tirade that reminds one of what one hears while waiting in line at the post office. Berlusconi took a rain check on his closing speech in Naples this evening with some diplomatic excuse. Bersani closed his campaign in a Roman theatre by reminding everyone that the Democratic Party is a political party. Come to think of it, the Democratic Party is the only bonafide political party participating in these elections.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 06:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the news over here, the Vatican thing is really blowing up. The Pope resigns on the day he reads about the gay Cardinals and their blackmailing prostitute friends, and locks the report in a Pope-only safe. But that probably won't last long, because the Cardinals will want to know who is ok to select as the new Pope and will want to see the report.

Meanwhile the Vatican bank is running on a cash-only basis due to inability to meet money laundering rules that will cut their mafia funding, and today one of the high-ranking Cardinals is suddenly shipped off to Colombia...

All while the drumbeat of lawsuits over child molestation continues, the nuns are nearing revolt, and the tradition-bound congregants are asking why the millennium-old tradition of Popes not quitting is suddenly ok to break...

Anybody can see why he bailed out.

by asdf on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 09:19:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've put it in a nutshell. Cardinal Balistrero was promoted out of the way, an ancient strategy. As one lay person put it, the lack of transparency in Vatican banking could just as well hide Bin Laden's and Totò Riina's hard earned savings.

The IOR isn't new to this behaviour. It played a key role in the Calvi affair under Marcinkus. Vatican banking, often under the cover of Religious Works, has always been involved in the most sordid- and sometimes the most amazing- bank dealings. One recalls the alleged financing of the Glorious Revolution against English Catholics in 1688 or the pact of secret alliance with Mussolini to neutralize criminal investigations over it's sordid financing of the Libyan invasion in 1911.

The problem with the secret report is that it was written by the Opus Dei hierarchy which bodes no well either.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 01:25:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 "It is likely to be the winning coalition."

In the senate too?

by IM on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:49:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the problem.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 11:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Come to think of it, the Democratic Party is the only bonafide political party participating in these elections.

This could be one of those times when they win just by showing up - the only 'real' party running. Perhaps 5* will have a big enough block to be a loyal opposition that can keep them from selling all to financial interests, as 'real' parties are so prone to doing.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 08:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On single issues, Cinque Stelle could ally themselves with the left. According to campaign hype, they do not want to belong to any block. But once in parliament or Senate, political realism takes over. Either Cinque Stelle will play the Panella Radical role so popular in the Seventies. Effectively, the Radicals in the Seventies managed to get fundamental laws through parliament- such as divorce, abortion and on military service- without allying themselves with anyone. However parliament is no longer what it was then.

Once a person has been nominated Deputy or Senator, she is free to change group. Cinque Stelle could easily be dessimated by the phenomena of transformismo which Berlusconi is particular adept at exploiting, as Di Pietro well knows. Considering how Cinque Stelle's candidates were chosen, some could likely be sleepers from the start.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 03:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I should put up a thread diary. The real action will start tomorrow after 15:00 when booths close.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 03:13:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good idea, I'll frontpage it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 03:55:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 25th, 2013 at 02:22:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
beppe's site is down today :(

hack or overload?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:38:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
back up again...

Beppe Grillo's Blog

It's almost impossible to find a bank, an insurance company, or a door to door network that's not pushing out products that are harmful for those with savings. As some people say: even the healthiest is sick. But there's one that manages to do a bit worse than the others, and that is Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS).
It's not just the oldest bank in Italy, founded in 1472, it's also the one that has issued some of the worst products ... backed up by more than five hundred years of history.
It's true that when you invest money, you can make a loss. Nobody denies that, and I certainly don't. But you have to try really hard to lose more than 100%.
And yet MPS's management company's managed fund called "Spazio Euro Nuovi Mercati" managed to destroy the 104.3% of its capital over the space of three years. Basically it lost all the money entrusted to it and more money as well. In fact, when you take away the tax credit on the loss, the people saving made a loss of 91%, that is anyway a massive disaster. For the records, this is called "Professional management of savings".
But we have to mention something that is even more perfidious, an initiative dating back to Vincenzo Bustis when he was the CEO of MPS. He's a man who seemed to be much appreciated by Massimo D'Alema, who is already remembered for the esteem he placed in the infamous "captains courageous". It's a product marketed with the slogan "innovation in social security" (Publicity attached) and sold with various enticing names like: For You or 4You, My WaY etc. (What a lot of English names! If an Italian product has an English name, smell a rat!)
In reality it's an explosive combination of a bond, a managed fund and a mortgage. What was the consequence? Anyone who allowed themselves to be tricked (and how can someone who is not an expert avoid that?), landed up not only with no money after two years but also heavily in debt.
Let's consider someone who signed up to the "For You" product and paid in their savings for two years, let's say for example amounting to a total of 10,000 euro. Well, not only did they lose everything. But they would have ended up with a negative balance of 22,900 euro, as the total value of their shares and the debt with the bank. So basically they owed the bank loads of money. As a percentage they've made a loss of almost 330%, much worse than with the country of Argentina, or the companies like Parmalat, Cirio, Alitalia etc. Something like that for a savings product is the maximum, also because the product called "For You" and the matching one called "My Way" were presented as "low risk" and with the aim of "maintaining value".

lying scum

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 07:21:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly overload: @TheStalwart
Yowza. Version of that Google Trends chart, just focused on recent days and searches from Italy. google.com/trends/explore ...


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 10:06:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
and more potent to shake things up

what do you base that impression on, out of interest? possibly because the msm has blacked them out, like it tried to (and succeeded until recently) with beppe?


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:45:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SYRIZA has two advantages IMHO over Grillo:
  • a political pan-european family and some idea of a political programme
  • Some sort of general programmatic political coherence

However despite SYRIZA throwing its weight somewhat towards the Ingroia list, the fact of the matter is that Grillo, like SYRIZA, is de facto the political tool that a desperate society has decided to use to fight the imposed austerity disaster.
I have ties with the political current (a current of continuous self-inflicting disasters admittedly) that lead to Ingroia's list, but I would be hard pressed not to realise that the horse the anti-austerity camp is riding on right now is Grillo. So I wish him the best.
BTW: Is it my idea or is he trying to claim some of the PCI's legacy and symbols? Did he mention Berlinguer approvingly recently?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 02:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I attach a belated reply to melo here: my thinking is along the same lines as talos's above comment and de Gondi's comment about "his familiar tirade that reminds one of what one hears while waiting in line at the post office". To add my own formulation, Grillo seems to be talking as the voice of the "little men" viewing the mighty and powerful from below, which is more of an attitude than a theory of what's wrong and a complete action plan to address it once they win elections and become the mighty and powerful themselves. Thus, while Grillo sees things clearer than the two big parties and Monti (and thus I cheer for him), he seems to aim for influence from opposition only (what de Gondi called the Panella Radical role) and his movement and followers will be in danger of being played; while Syriza even had a shot at getting the government.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 05:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
"his familiar tirade that reminds one of what one hears while waiting in line at the post office". To add my own formulation, Grillo seems to be talking as the voice of the "little men" viewing the mighty and powerful from below, which is more of an attitude than a theory of what's wrong and a complete action plan to address it once they win elections

yes about the post office, but what usually accompanied that grumble was a fatalistic resignation that nothing could change.

beppe repeats their woes, but with the difference that he exudes confidence that things can must change, everyone's future is at stake..

as for the second part of what you wrote, there is an ever-present danger of corruption causing 5* members to to act out, that will indeed be the acid test, after watching the fate of the euro-greens)

getting elected is just the first half of the battle, proof comes with pudding.
 

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 25th, 2013 at 06:23:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is that the movement's image is so ill-defined that it can be presented in the FT as a kind of Margaret Thatccher - Ronald Reagan for Italy:
"What Grillo and his movement are doing is starting a revolution similar to what Thatcher and Reagan did, to slim down the state," explains Ms Napoleoni, noting that both the former UK prime minister and US president came to power in the midst of economic crises


The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 05:47:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, sure, but that might be saying more about the FT than about Grillo.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Feb 25th, 2013 at 02:21:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The BBC report last night was very sympathetic to Grillo. They chose shots of Berlu which showed him as just a nasty sleazebag, Mario Monti was portrayed as the establishment status quo guy whilst Grillo was shown as the focus of popular righteous discontent

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 01:36:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 We were looking for a door, a way out. We were prisoners of darkness. We thought we would not make it. We were told that the windows and doors were walled up. That there was no way out. Then we heard a flow of words and thoughts that came from who knows where. From outside. From within. From the Net, from the city and village squares. They were words of peace, but at the same time warrior words. We used them as torches in the dark, as keys to turn the lock to go elsewhere, to our very selves. And now we're out, we went out into the light and we are not yet fully used to it. Rubbing our eyes and, although we know that this is the only way we can go, we have some concerns, it's normal. What is happening now in Italy has never happened before in the history of modern democracies. A democratic revolution, non-violent, which uproots the powers, that upturns pyramids. The citizen who becomes the state and enters Parliament in just three years. We realized that we were the closed door, that warlike words had long been within us, but they would not come out, we thought we were alone and instead we're a multitude. And now we are surprised that so many people completely unknown to us shared our own thoughts, our hopes, our fears. We finally recognized each other and we shared warrior words. Words that had been abandoned for some time, which had lost their meaning, that have now become powerful weapons we used to change everything, to overturn an artificial reality where finance was economics, the lie was true, war was peace, dictatorship was democracy. Warlike words sounding new and old at the same time, like community, honesty, participation, solidarity, sustainability spread like rolling thunder, arriving everywhere destroying the old politics. We have become aware of reality. We know we can rely on our own strength, that the country is in ruins and that what lies ahead will be a very difficult period, there will be tensions, problems, conflicts, but the path is traced. We found this way and it leads us into the future, a future perhaps poorer, but with real, tangible solidarity and happiness. There's a new Italy that lies ahead. It will be great to be part of.

nice...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 03:42:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 25th, 2013 at 02:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / Germany does not want 'diktat' on Europe

Berlin - In his first-ever speech on the European Union, German President Joachim Gauck on Friday (22 February) told crisis-hit countries that there is no threat of them being ruled by a "German diktat."

Eleven months in office, the avowed pro-European and former East German dissident said there is a growing frustration among EU citizens, fuelled by daily reports about the euro-crisis, bailouts and summit diplomacy.

"In some member states people are afraid of becoming the paymasters of the crisis. In other countries there is a growing fear of constant austerity measures and social decline. To many EU citizens, giving and taking, borrowing and lending, responsibility and contribution seem no longer rightly and fairly divided within the community of Europeans," he noted.

What made this buffoon think that his words will reassure anyone (rather than enhance the "frustrations" both at home and abroad)? Or that Eurosceptic Britons will listen to him? Can't he just shut up?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:03:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing him on TV, it seemed to me he was half-inclined to do that. What lack of conviction.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 05:48:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
there is no threat of them being ruled by a "German diktat."

no threat at all, as it's already happening.

it's like a movie where the german people are being used to shoot the rest of us, ingenuously believing they will be saved because of it, when the same fate awaits them once their usefulness expires.

anything to protect the banksters...


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:49:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the speech in its entirety. Translating it into English didn't make it weaker, because that is impossible anyway. The speech is remarkable for the absence of any coherent thought.
by Katrin on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:58:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Justice & Home Affairs / Euro-deputies weaken data protection law
BRUSSELS - A handful of euro-deputies in the industry committee (Itre) have introduced industry-backed amendments that weaken a draft EU regulation on protecting people's private data on the Internet.

The amendments reworded a number of definitions that would exempt the content industry from having to obtain the consent of people they want to profile for marketing purposes.

"The effect of the adopted text would be to effectively rip up decades of privacy legislation in Europe, undermining trust and confidence - to the detriment of both citizens and business," said the Brussels-based NGO, European Digital Rights (EDRi), in a statement following the vote earlier this week.

Swedish Pirate party MEP, Amelia Andersdotter, told this website on Thursday (21 February) that the committee has effectively exempted the data of "all people who are acting in a professional capacity" from the regulation on privacy of personal data.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:03:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:04:12 PM EST
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Eurozone recession to continue in 2013

BRUSSELS - The eurozone economy will shrink by a further 0.3 percent in 2013, the European Commission said Friday (22 February), revising down a more optimistic previous estimate that had predicted 0.1 percent growth for this year.

The data also indicates that average government debt rose by 5 percent in 2012 to 93.1 percent as a proportion of GDP. The average debt level is expected to peak at 95.2 percent in 2014, well above the 60 percent threshold set out in the bloc's Stability and Growth Pact.

News on government budgetary positions was more positive. The average deficit in the eurozone had fallen by 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent, with the commission expecting a further 0.75 percent improvement to bring the eurozone average under the 3 percent threshold.

Announcing the figures, Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn admitted that "the hard data is still very disappointing" adding that the progress made by national governments to cut budget deficits was "not yet feeding into the real economy."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain, Portugal and France likely to be spared further austerity despite poor EC forecasts - Business News - Business - The Independent

Under the terms of the eurozone's new Fiscal Compact member states are required to limit their annual borrowing to 3 per cent of GDP. But in its Winter forecast the Commission said that Spain's deficit this year will come in at 6.7 per cent while Portugal's borrowing is expected to be 4.9 per cent. The deficit of France, the currency bloc's second largest member, is projected by the Commission to be 3.7 per cent of GDP.

Despite this the Commission Vice-President Olli Rehn signalled today that the organisation would refrain from using its powers under the Compact to levy fines on excessive borrowers and would instead give them more time to meet their fiscal commitments. "In the case of Spain, it seems that the structural fiscal effort has been undertaken and that there has been also an unexpected shortfall of growth" he said. Ministers from France and Portugal also said today that they would ask Brussels to push back the target by a year, as they blamed pinned the blame for their respective borrowing overshoots on the weak eurozone economy. The Commission now expects the 17 nation bloc to contract by 0.3 per cent over the course of 2013. Last autumn it expected 0.1 per cent growth.

"Unexpected", they say...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:04:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German budget surplus bigger than expected | Business News | DW.DE | 22.02.2013

Thanks to low unemployment and higher tax revenues, Germany as a whole collected more than it spent last year. However, the slight national surplus was narrowed by a shrinking economy in 2012's fourth quarter.

Overall, German government institutions were able to generate a small combined budget surplus of 0.2 percent in 2012, the German Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) said on Friday.

Destatis data showed that federal, regional state and communal authorities collectively ended up with a 4.2 billion euros ($5.5 billion) surplus - a significant improvement in the national budget figure, which in 2011 recorded a shortfall of 0.8 percent.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:04:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Announcing the figures, Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn admitted that "the hard data is still very disappointing" adding that the progress made by national governments to cut budget deficits was "not yet feeding into the real economy."

Oh, but it is.
That's the main reason why the zone is in recession.


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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 04:40:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Er - that's not the real economy he's talking about.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 05:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / ECB turns €1bn profit despite rising HQ costs
BRUSSELS - The European Central Bank (ECB) recorded a profit of almost €1 billion in 2012, according to the Frankfurt-based institution's annual accounts, released on Thursday (21 February).

Its year-on-year profits soared by 37 percent to €998 million, with the bulk of the money coming from interest totalling €555 million on Greek government bonds.

Most of the ECB's income comes from interest on its foreign currency holdings and bond holdings, as well as on euro banknotes in circulation. It raked in just under €2.3 billion in interest in 2012.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:05:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU takes France, Luxembourg to court over low VAT on e-books | EurActiv

Since January 2012, France and Luxembourg have applied reduced value added tax (VAT) rates to the sale of e-books of 7% and 3% respectively.

Under EU rules, governments can apply reduced VAT rates to a limited list of goods and services which includes books, but currently not e-books.

"Failure to comply with this legislation by France and Luxembourg results in serious distortions of competition to the detriment of traders from other EU member states," the Commission said in a statement on Thursday.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:05:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So count e-books in with books, dorks.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 05:53:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:05:28 PM EST
German military hardware exports to Gulf states more than doubled in 2012 | News | DW.DE | 22.02.2013

The value of weapons exports to countries in the Gulf region rose to 1,42 billion euros ($1.88 billion) last year, according to a report published in Friday's edition of the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

In 2011, Germany exported just 570 million euros worth of military hardware to the six nations that belong to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

...According to Friday's report, in which the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) cited the German Economy Ministry, by far the biggest increase in German security hardware exports was to Saudi Arabia, which accounted for 1.24 billion euros in 2012.

... The paper said the information was released following a formal query from the parliamentary group of the opposition Left party.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:05:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US to leave troops in Afghanistan after 2014, says German official | World news | The Guardian

The conflicting accounts came as Nato defence ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss the endgame of the 11-year-old war. Barack Obama has said the last foreign combat troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The German defence minister, Thomas de Maizière, told reporters Panetta had told him at the meeting that the US would leave 8,000-10,000 troops in the country at the end of 2014. But Panetta, speaking to reporters later, called De Maizière's comments inaccurate.

Panetta, who is about to step down, told reporters the Nato partners talked about ranges of options for post-2014. He said the figures reflected contributions other nations would make.

"There's no question in the current budget environment, with deep cuts in European defence spending and the kind of political gridlock that we see in the United States now with regards to our own budget, is putting at risk our ability to effectively act together," he said. "As I prepare to step down as secretary of defence, I do fear that the alliance will soon be, if it is not already, stretched too thin."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:08:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have the US ever completely left a country they've occupied ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 01:54:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Viet Nam?

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 Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 09:49:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, the only occasion where they had no choice

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 02:58:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am sure there presence from CIA and such still in Iraq, but I believe the regular troops has left.

U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The agreement expired at midnight on the 31st of December, 2011, even though the United States completed its final withdrawal of troops from Iraq on the 16th of December 2011. The symbolic ceremony in Baghdad officially "cased" (retired) the flag of US forces in Iraq, according to army tradition.[5]

Whatever happened with those huge bases that the US was going to use to dominate the Middle East?

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 Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 04:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Status of Forces Agreement stated that U.S. troops would leave the country on December 31, 2011.[69] On the morning of December 18, the final contingent of U.S. troops to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait,[8] though the U.S. still maintains two bases and approximately 4,000 troops in the country.[70]

So loophole, I guess.

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 Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 04:29:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt 'spent £1.7m on teargas' amid economic crisis | World news | The Guardian

Egypt spent the equivalent of £1.7m on 140,000 US-sourced teargas canisters last month, despite the Egyptian government nearing bankruptcy - and amid a wave of police brutality that 21 human rights groups this week labelled a return to Mubarak-era state repression.

Egypt's interior ministry made the emergency order at the end of January, according to records retrieved by Egyptian broadsheet al-Masry al-Youm. It came at the start of a week of civil unrest sparked by protests against President Mohamed Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and police malpractice.

Opposition activists have questioned the government's willingness to buy the teargas at a time when Egypt's foreign reserves have more than halved since 2011, the government has run out of money to pay for fuel subsidies, and officials have yet to agree the details of a much-needed and much-delayed IMF loan worth $4.8bn.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:09:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal presages some rough sailing ahead for US military interests in the island Kingdom of Bahrain. Entitled A Palace Rift in Persian Gulf Bedevils Key U.S. Navy Base, it highlights growing public evidence of discord between two branches of the Al Khalifa royal family. See my entire diary here.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 10:06:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LIVING OFF THE PLANET
Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:09:48 PM EST
`Alien' wildlife in Europe wreak €12 billion damage a year: study | EurActiv

More than 10,000 'alien' species have gained a foothold in Europe, from Asian tiger mosquitoes to North American ragweed, and at least 1,500 are known to be harmful, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said.

"In many areas, ecosystems are weakened by pollution, climate change and fragmentation. Alien species invasions are a growing pressure on the natural world which are extremely difficult to reverse," said Jacqueline McGlade, head of the EEA.

Introduced species that suddenly thrive in a new home in Europe, including parakeets from Africa or water hyacinth from the Amazon, were estimated to cost Europe at least €12 billion a year, according to the 118-page study.

"Our number is an underestimate," said Piero Genovesi, a lead author at the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, adding that it omitted the impacts of many species such as tropical `killer algae' in the Mediterranean.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:10:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN report finds 'new proof' of link between endocrine disruptors and common diseases | EurActiv

A new United Nations report has provided more evidence linking endocrine disrupting chemicals to the development of different cancers, obesity and diabetes.

The report State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) says that there is a growing probability that maternal, fetal and childhood exposure to chemical substances plays a larger role in causing endocrine-related diseases and disorders.

...Endocrine disrupting chemicals mainly enter the environment through industrial and urban discharges, agricultural run-off and the burning and release of waste. Human exposure can occur via the ingestion of food, dust and water, inhalation of gases and particles in the air, and skin contact with plastics and rubbers.

Known examples of endocrine disrupting chemicals include phthalates (a plastic-softener), brominated flame retardants (often used in household textile or furniture) and metals like lead and mercury.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1.5C rise in temperature enough to start permafrost melt, scientists warn | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Any widespread thaw in Siberia's permanently frozen ground could have severe consequences for climate change. Permafrost covers about 24% of the land surface of the northern hemisphere, and widespread melting could eventually trigger the release of hundreds of gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and methane, which would have a massive warming effect.

However, any such melting would be likely to take many decades, so the initial release of greenhouse gas would probably be on a much smaller scale.

The researchers, led by experts from Oxford University, studied stalactites and stalagmites in Siberian caves that have formed over hundreds of thousands of years. The stalactites and stalagmites formed during periods of gradual melting, when meltwater dripped into the caves, but stopped growing when temperatures fell again and the permafrost refroze. Scientists can measure the growth and halting of stalactite and stalagmites by cutting through the structures at various points corresponding to given time periods in the Earth's history.

They found the stalactites in one far northern cave on the boundary of continuous permafrost grew during a period 400,000 years ago when temperatures were 1.5C higher than in pre-industrial times. That indicates that permafrost was melting at that time, and therefore that it could thaw again if temperatures rise to similar levels.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saudi Arabia invites companies to bid for colossal renewables contracts - 22 Feb 2013 - News from BusinessGreen

Green businesses have welcomed the official launch of Saudi Arabia's massive renewable energy procurement programme, which could see 54GW of new capacity added to the grid by 2032.

The government-backed K.A. CARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) yesterday unveiled a white paper detailing the tender processes for new solar PV and solar thermal power plants, wind farms, geothermal facilities and waste-to-energy plants.

The first three rounds of contracts are now expected to be awarded before 2015, with a view to creating more than 7GW of new capacity, the majority of which will come from solar power.

A smaller introductory round will be launched in the first half of this year solely focusing on concentrated solar power. It will be followed by two larger tendering rounds over the period to 2015 for a range of technologies.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:10:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:10:50 PM EST
British poet anointed to guard French language - FRANCE-UK - FRANCE 24

France's Académie Française, the country's pre-eminent learned body in charge of upholding the French language, has welcomed a Briton as one of its members for the first time ever. Michael Edwards, a poet, literary critic and academic, was voted into the French Academy on Thursday following an internal vote.

Founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the 40-seat body is considered the highest authority on all matters related to the French language. Members, who are known as "the immortals", are chosen for life. They have included literary greats such as Voltaire and Victor Hugo.

Edwards, 74, had been considered for the Académie Française on two previous occasions, but did not win enough votes. He replaces the late French novelist Jean Dutourd, who died on January 17, 2011.

An Officer of the British Empire, Edwards was born in London. He is married to a Frenchwoman and has dual British-French citizenship, but has been mainly published in French in recent years.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:11:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Roma rap against Czech 'practical schools' | Europe | DW.DE | 20.02.2013

Human rights groups accuse Czech authorities of placing a disproportionately high number of Roma, or gypsy, children into schools for the learning disabled. A group of young Roma rappers is working to change that.

Nebud Dilino is the name of a song by a young Romani foursome called United Gipsy Crew, and it's currently making waves on YouTube and Facebook. It's a catchy tune - the video is cool and professional - but within it there's a very a serious message.

"Dilino" is the Roma word for "fool" or "idiot." In the video, children demanding that their parents don't send them to "special school," where they'll receive an inferior education that will then cut their chances of going to college and pursuing a career.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:11:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scientology is still a red flag in Germany | Germany | DW.DE | 22.02.2013

Critics in Germany accuse the Scientology sect of denying fundamental human rights. The organization insists that it's a religion. While it is not banned, Germany's domestic intelligence monitors the group.

Ursula Caberta has given up. The former Commissioner of the Scientology Task Force for the city of Hamburg is Germany's best known Scientology critic and is a highly regarded expert far beyond Hamburg. The fact that she has recently resigned from her post shows just how difficult the fight against the sect and its structures is.

...The Hamburg Senate also didn't support her as much as it could have. For financial reasons it closed the work group on Scientology in 2010 and handed the individual counseling over to the domestic intelligence agency. Caberta could have continued with her work, but no longer had any staff. She has now thrown in the towel because the political support is no longer there. "When there are not enough funding, it gets difficult to do the job," the 62-year-old told DW.

...The Hamburg domestic intelligence office receives more than 500 requests for help each year from people who want information or want to leave the group. "Even if it's clearly going downhill with Scientology, they still cause a lot of anxiety and insecurity. They aim to reach a broad spectrum of society and they do a lot of subversive work," notes Napieralla. Ursula Caberta is convinced that the efforts against Scientology have to be kept up. "This is an organization that has survived many crises in the past," she warns. "If you don't keep up the work, they will quickly recover."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Still a red, red flag in France.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:05:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Book Traces the Rise to Power of Adolf Hitler - SPIEGEL ONLINE
...Hitler claimed that by the end of the war he had decided to become a politician. In truth, at the end of 1918 he wanted to remain a soldier for as long as possible. Another year and a half passed before Hitler had to leave the old military; it is the least-studied period in the life of the later dictator.

For decades, historians have tried to determine how a gaunt wannabe painter could turn into a murderous tyrant, and where the young Hitler received his most decisive influences. Was it in the Austrian city of Linz, where he grew up as the son of a violent customs official? In Vienna, where, as an unsuccessful artist, he spent most of the time between 1908 and 1913 living in a boarding house for men? Or during World War I, when he witnessed bodies being ripped to shreds on the Western Front?

Salzburg historian Othmar Plöckinger focuses on an entirely different period. "The decisive period that shaped Hitler's life," the academic concludes, "was his time in a military environment in Munich, from 1918 to 1920." That was where, according to Plöckinger, Hitler cemented his anti-Semitic worldview. It was where he became an anti-Bolshevik and where he had experiences "that he was later applied to his career as a propagandist and leader of the Nazi Party."

Plöckinger has compiled many good arguments to support his view of Hitler. As a member of an investigative commission in his regiment, the lance corporal learned how to fight political rivals. He attended anti-Bolshevik courses in which right-wing lecturers, who were hoping for an end to democracy in Germany, taught him the art of propaganda. And while working for the military, he also had opportunities to make a name for himself as a speaker to large audiences. In short Hitler, who had left school at the age of 16, acquired what amounted to a crash course, in "key competencies to lead a movement," as historian Plöckinger has discovered.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:11:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Worth a moment of your time...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 07:10:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Horrible sound. I had to stop the video after a few minutes, although the content seems to be interesting.
by Katrin on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 07:23:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How very obedient of you ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 09:39:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
all I get is  black screen

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 09:22:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have not obeyed. Your access to disruptive information has been restricted.

"Informationen macht frei"

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 09:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worth seeing once.

Wish the maker had learned about the Slippery Slope Fallacy before making the film.  As it is, I can't take the thing seriously.

At 1:24, at first run-through I thought the guy had interjected a glider for the Game of Life.  Went back to check and  ... nope.

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

by ATinNM on Sun Feb 24th, 2013 at 05:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ON THIS DATE


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:11:50 PM EST
23 February 303 – start of the Diocletianic Persecution with Roman emperor Diocletian's order to raze Nicomedia's newly built Christian church


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:12:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
24 February 1463 – birth of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Italian humanist later persecuted by the Church (poisoned in 1494)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:12:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:12:32 PM EST
Princess Cristina of Spain may be named in corruption case | World news | The Guardian

As a financial scandal engulfs the royal family and politicians begin to call for his abdication, Spain's King Juan Carlos faces one of the worst weeks in his 37-year reign, with prosecutors set to ask a judge to formally name his daughter Princess Cristina as a suspect in a multimillion-euro fraud and money-laundering case.

The request, which would be a preliminary step to a possible indictment, is poised to be made next week and will be based on the testimony of Diego Torres, a former business school lecturer who became the partner of Cristina's husband, Iñaki Urdangarin.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've got a love child, admits senator Pete Domenici who tried to get Bill Clinton impeached - Americas - World - The Independent
Before this week, no screenwriter would have dared cast the former senator Pete Domenici, the very embodiment of family-values rectitude, in a steamy soap opera on Capitol Hill in which he sires a love-child with the 24-year-old daughter a Senate colleague. Even in scandal-weary Washington it wouldn't have been believable.

Mr Domenici, a Republican who was the longest-serving senator in New Mexico's history when he retired four years ago, was among those who tried to get President Bill Clinton impeached in 1999 for his liaisons with Monica Lewinsky (though in a speech to the Senate he said it wasn't the sex bit that bothered him but the fact that Mr Clinton had lied about it).

Not believable? Ah come on. Hypocrisy is the core moral of conservatives, especially American moral crusader ones, and particularly those involved in the Lewinsky scandal impeachment attempt. Remember Henry Hyde? Remember Newt Gingrich? Remember Dan Burton<? Remember Mark Sanford?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 03:12:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Hypocrisy is the core moral of conservatives, especially American moral crusader ones, and particularly those involved in the Lewinsky scandal impeachment attempt."

I would argue that the U.S. of A. has only its fair share of hypocritical moral crusaders.

by asdf on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 at 09:25:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Utterly believable.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 06:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2013 at 07:28:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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