Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Weekend Open Thread

by afew Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 10:37:30 AM EST

Too close for comfort


Display:
The weather, I mean.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 10:37:53 AM EST
Dunno abut where you are, but it's knocking 30 centigrade, which is far too hot for this pale faced english person.

Off to Berlin tomorrow for a couple of days. humidity of 60% there apparently. Goodie !!! {/sarcasm}

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 10:45:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's the temperature roughly here, but it's turned stormy and muggy.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 10:57:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very muggy, but no chance of a storm apparently

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 12:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SNCF has officially announced that the Brétigny derailment was caused by a fishplate on the points that came loose and fell off.

According to the president of the region:

Brétigny : Jean-Paul Huchon n'exclut pas un acte de malveillance - Libération Brétigny: Jean-Paul Huchon does not preclude a malicious act - Liberation
Jean-Paul Huchon, président PS de la région Ile-de-France et du Syndicat des transports d'Ile de France, n'a pas exclu que la catastrophe ait pu être provoquée par un acte de malveillance. «Cette pièce était tenue par quatre boulons et il paraît bizarre, curieux en tous cas, que les boulons aient tous sauté en même temps alors qu'un train est passé une demi-heure avant et n'a signalé aucune difficulté. Les hypothèses sur ce qui s'est passé sont de toutes natures: ou c'est une pièce mécanique qui était fatiguée, obsolète, ou bien alors ça peut être aussi un acte de malveillance. Personne ne peut à ce stade de l'enquête l'affirmer mais personne ne peut l'exclure non plus», a-t-il déclaré.Jean-Paul Huchon, President PS of the Ile-de-France and the Union of Ile de France transport, did not rule out that the disaster could have been caused by a malicious act. "This part was held by four bolts and it seems odd, curious in any case, that the bolts should have all "jumped" at the same time, while a train passed half an hour before and reported no difficulty. There are all kinds of hypotheses about what happened: either it is a mechanical part that was worn out, obsolete, or else it could also be an act of malice. Nobody can assert this at this stage of the investigation, but nobody can exclude it either ", he said.

A police union had stated that local youths had engaged in looting and in "stoning" emergency personnel, but this is being denied now by the Transport Minister, the Red Cross, and SAMU (medical emergency teams).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 10:56:44 AM EST
The method of failure at Potters Bar...exactly.

Caused on that occasion by a privatised inspection programme which didn't do what everybody thought it did.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 12:34:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oddly, there was talk of vandalism then as well

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 12:37:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, a metal connector fixed with four bolts with locking washers doesn't come loose that easily. One can understand why the investigators are suspicious.
by Bernard on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 01:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So were our inspectors. Until they discovered the ocean of difference between what Network rail thought they'd contracted and what the 4th or 5th tier of lowest bid contractors thought they were in for

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 03:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was inspected a matter of weeks ago, apparently.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 02:21:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back in France after a trip to the Bay Area last week.
Our flight landed on runway 28R at SFO.
On our left, one could clearly see runway 28L littered with debris from the Asiana B777 who crash landed last Saturday: the tail lying down shortly after the runway threshold, the Asiana livery clearly visible, and the wreckage of the plane itself, off to the left side, a mere 500 meters later; a testament to the violence of the shock.

There were maybe a hundred people - NTSB investigators, I suppose - inspecting the accident scene. Two teenage girls from China were found dead at the scene, a third died yesterday at SF General Hospital.

by Bernard on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 01:25:36 PM EST
Canada's 2nd Largest Fire on Record Spreading Smoke to Europe

A massive fire burning in northern Quebec is Canada's second largest fire since fire records began in 1959, according to the Canadian Forest Service. The fire was more than twice the size of Rhode Island on Tuesday--1,621,000 acres[655,995 hectares]. Called the Eastmain fire, the near-record blaze was ignited by lightning on May 25, and was burning along a 100-km front near the east shore of James Bay by the village of Eastmain. At times, the fire spread at 19 mph (30 kph). The fire cut power to Montreal's subway system and to 10% of the population of Quebec (500,000 customers) on July 4, when smoke from the fire ionized the air by key hydroelectric power lines, causing a cascade failure.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 03:25:04 PM EST
In less than 48 hours the parliament is likely to give the green light to a huge waste of public money: 13 billion euro for the F-35 fighter Americans who do not serve us any good. But if we act now we can stop in time these crazy games of war!

It 's absurd! With € 13 billion, we could create jobs for 150,000 unemployed young people! And these F-35 aircraft have so many problems that many other countries are and decided not to buy them. M5S, SEL and many MPs of the Democratic Party want to stop the deal, and with enough pressure on the right leaders we can make sure that the majority of MPs vote to stop this spending absurd!

The final vote of the Senate is in less than 48 hours now signing this urgent petition to parliament and politicians as key Renzi and Epifani and share it with everyone. If we reach 100,000 signatures Avaaz will bring our voices in the Senate through parliamentary key just before the vote:

https:/secure.avaaz.org/it/italy_no_f35_rbs2?bJxSQab&v=27052

Many Italian politicians have said they are against the waste of public money for these bombers, including Renzi, Bersani, D'Alema, mountains and even Berlusconi! And military experts tell us that these planes have huge technical problems and would not be of any benefit to our army. Defense is so distressed that is now trying to argue that the parliament can not decide how to spend this $ 13 billion of public money!

Under such public pressure, some governments, including those in Canada, Denmark and Turkey are backtracking on investment in F-35 and also in Italy, the Minister of Defense is starting to suffer, for the first time last week admitted that the government might consider a cut in the number of F-35 that Italy will buy. If we get more pressure at this time we put an end to this huge waste of public money once and for all.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 13th, 2013 at 05:47:10 PM EST
The F-35 was designed to do everything that any jet could ever be expected to do, everywhere in the world.  It's not surprising that it's turned into a massive failure.
by Zwackus on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:36:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Nuff' said.

by Bernard on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:47:39 AM EST
Friend used to live on the south side of that park.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 10:58:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grr. Firefox crashed and ate my translation with it. I will only post the original article for your attention.

EU greift Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz EEG an - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Das deutsche Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG) verstößt gegen europäisches Wettbewerbsrecht. Zu diesem Schluss ist nach Informationen des SPIEGEL EU-Wettbewerbskommissar Joaquín Almunia gekommen. Die Brüsseler Juristen konzentrieren sich dabei auf die sogenannte EEG-Umlage, die Stromkunden für die Erzeugung erneuerbarer Energie bezahlen.

OAS_RICH('Middle2'); Die Beamten rügen, dass energieintensive Betriebe von dieser Umlage weitgehend ausgenommen werden. Am kommenden Mittwoch will die EU-Kommission ein entsprechendes Beihilfeverfahren gegen Deutschland eröffnen. Dies soll nicht nur für die Zukunft alle Ausnahmen von der Zwangsabgabe verbieten.

Mit großer Wahrscheinlichkeit wird Brüssel auch rückwirkend eine Korrektur fordern: Energieintensive Betriebe müssten dann Millionen Euro an bereits in den Vorjahren eingesparten Abgaben an den Staat nachzahlen.

EU-Energiekommissar Günther Oettinger stellte auf einer Veranstaltung des Stromkonzerns E.on vergangene Woche in Brüssel sogar das gesamte EEG in Frage. Oettinger sagte, dass zahlreiche Regelungen mit dem EU-Binnenmarkt und dem Wettbewerbsrecht wohl nicht konform seien.

And additionally:

Wind Energy Encounters Problems and Resistance in Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE

More than 700 citizens' initiatives have been founded in Germany to campaign against what they describe as "forests of masts", "visual emissions" and the "widespread devastation of our highland summits."

The opponents carry coffins symbolizing the death of environmental protection. They organize petitions on an almost daily basis. Local residents by Lake Starnberg have even filed a legal complaint alleging that the wind turbines violate Germany's constitution.

The underlying divide is basic and irreconcilable. On one side stand environmentalists and animal rights activists passionate about protecting the tranquility of nature. On the other are progressively minded champions of renewable energy and climate activists determined to secure the long-term survival of the planet.

The question is: How many forests must be sacrificed, how many horizons dotted with wind turbines, to meet Germany's new energy targets? Where is the line between thoughtful activism and excessive zeal? At what point is taxpayer money simply being thrown away?

The wrangling over these issues has led many in Germany's Green Party to question what their party really stands for. Enoch zu Guttenberg, a founding member of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), noisily left the association last year because of its support for wind power. Since then, he has felt a "panicky need" to warn humanity about the "giant totems of the cult of unlimited energy."

by Bjinse on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 10:09:35 AM EST
Until this:

is dealt with anything else is a band-aid.  There are pockets where population has, by and large, peaked and is predicted to decline over the next 40 years, Europe being one such.  The rest of the planet is still pumping out the kids.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 11:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
There are pockets where population has, by and large, peaked and is predicted to decline over the next 40 years, Europe being one such.  The rest of the planet is still pumping out the kids.  

Not only Europe: many non-European countries have pretty much stopped "pumping out the kids". If you look at projected population growth and total fertility rates, you can see that even today, many populous countries are well below the replacement rate: China, Russia, Japan, but also Brazil, Iran, and even Venezuela and Mexico considering that in "poor" countries, the replacement rate is higher than 2.1 children per woman.

Today, the bulk of the population growth is in sub-Saharan Africa (but many African countries -except Nigeria and Congo - are starting from a rather low population) and especially the Indian sub-continent: India is expected to overtake China as the most populous country before 2030.

Even if the world population is expected to stop growing and even start decreasing before the end of this century, this doesn't mean there's not going to be a considerable strain on resources before that: especially in South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and even Afghanistan. This, combined with female infanticide and selective abortion, is not boding well for the future of the region.

by Bernard on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 12:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 

FAO food price index.  The recent downturn is due entirely to a fall in sugar and dairy prices.  These have no impact on food prices in most of the world:

  1.  They can't afford sugar

  2.  Most of the world can't digest milk

Breaking out the different components:

It can be seen cereal prices are hovering at the danger point of social and political unrest ... as determined by some researchers in a report I'm too tired to find.

Given there is nothing, on the horizon, to even suggest an increase in global food production and the failure of GMO to live up to its hype it is safe to conclude food production is what it is and it's not going to increase.  

The impact of Global Climate Change is unknown but, at the moment, it's safe to say near-term global availability of cereals, e.g., wheat, will decrease. Example, the short grass prairie of the US is seeing falling production from a combination of drought and the emptying of the Ogallala aquifer.    

Adding this all up, I submit projections of a 9 billion human population in 2040 are moonshine.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 07:05:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the population growth in developed pockets can be controlled - via economic pressures, skewed income distribution, and perhaps high, wrong-headed personal choice standards set by pulp, teen media. The undeveloped world is meeting clear overshots, sharpened by debt tributes and resourse restrictions. There will be pain for pumping out kids there. Or can that hockey stick resolevd with no tears?
by das monde on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 04:49:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, because the very minor reductions in birth rate in particular cases doesn't come anywhere close to solving the overall problem. We are much further past the carrying capacity of the planet than is admitted.

  • For example, there is actually no problem with burning coal, if the global population is low enough. The pollution just fades into the noise of volcanoes, ocean CO2 buffer, etc.

  • There is no problem with monoculture farming, if the global population is low enough. The reduction in wild land available to support species variation is absorbed into the noise of land lost to natural periodic floods or forest fires.

Unfortunately for us, you can't fool Mother Nature. Somebody, probably our children's generation, is in for it big time.
by asdf on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:10:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Humans have a propensity for thinking the sun shines out our butts and we are above Nature.  It doesn't and we aren't.  

I think we're looking at dramatic system failures in the Third World by 2025 at best and we could see them by the end of this decade.  When Complex Systems move to a new Fitness Landscape they move very, very, fast.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:33:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The effect of post 2008-economy will take another decade or two to show up in population numbers.
by das monde on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 03:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To what end?  People aren't rational so the situation can't be discussed rationally thus it isn't going to be solved rationally.  It's going to be solved Biologically:

Poor sanitation can foster transmission of all sorts of nasty bacterial bugs. But a new study has found that among common bacteria, antibiotic resistance is brewing in the New Delhi water supply--and spreading in at least 20 strains, including some that cause dysentery and cholera. "

A commonplace finding of Ecology is that when a species' population expands beyond the carrying capacity of its ecological niche the population numbers collapse.  Doesn't matter if the species is lynx in the Canadian arctic or human beings living in Chaco Canyon or Easter Island.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 10:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A friend of mine came back from a cruise, and reported that the stewards themselves spray sanitizer on your hands before you go into the dining room, and when you come back onto the ship after a land tour. Maybe cruise ships are the canary in the mine...
by asdf on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 10:24:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because cruise ships seem to have an issue with Norovirus.

It's hard enough to clean a hospital. But keeping a highly infectious and persistent virus under control on a floating hotel is pretty much impossible.

And if it's not there already, it only takes one person to bring it aboard.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 11:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't eat at salad bars anymore.  It's too dangerous.  

If we are in El Paso - armpit of the US - we only eat packaged foods.  The restaurants hire illegals so they don't have to pay for a health check and parasitic brain worms have been found in dish washers, bus boys, cooks, and waiters.

yuck

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 11:51:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...can that hockey stick resolved with no tears?

It can but I don't see the necessary actions being taken and plenty of wrong actions, e.g., religious hysteria restrictions on access to birth control and abortion.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 08:23:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should this discussion and action be public? Or would it be more "effective" to plan it stealthily, even with some anti-abortion, resource exploitation camouflage?
by das monde on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 03:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Logscale, please. It's actually slowing down.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 04:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes but the percentage increase is from a much larger base.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 10:25:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Logistic growth fits the bill. Unfortunately, overshoooting and collapse occurs because of delayed feedback.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 06:08:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup.  I started talking about Lokta-Volterra and then decided to back off.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 06:34:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Been there, done that.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 06:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In ascending order:

  1. typical Spiegel propaganda against regenerative energy and especially wind.

  2. Oettinger is a powerless nimcompop. One of his bavarian party associates said, instead of talking about matters outside his sphere of responsibility he should for once care about his own responsibilities. Patience with Oettinger in Germany seems to wear thin.

  3. The commission is right, the steadily increasing exceptions that are increasing the burden on consumers are subsidies.
by IM on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 at 11:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL alert

My favorite quotes (in order of the article0:

  1.  "Sometimes I get up in the morning and find a couple of totaled cars in the front yard," he says... Still, he finds the wind turbine behind his garden fence harder to cope with.

  2.  Some are angry at the way the landscape, celebrated by German Romantic poets such as Hölderlin and Mörike, is being butchered.

  3.  Even valuable tourist regions... are to be sacrificed.

  4.  There are 83 such three-armed bandits in Germany's largest wind farm,

  5.  As they drive their SUVs through these turbine forests, tolerantly minded city-dwellers sometimes comment on how ugly eastern Germany has become.

Ach, what's the sense of continuing. There are much better ones i left out because they're on another page or two. Also interesting is how they take certain facts out of technical context. One example is writing about the IWES test center in Bremerhaven testing an 83.5 meter blade (which it is) but then assuming the blades will be used for inland turbines (which it won't, as the test is specifically for offshore, where pigs don't stampede, causing the farmers to receive compensation (paraphrase).

Of course, complaints about primitive high speed turbines built in the early 90's close to residences should be used to discredit modern slow speed turbines with specially designed low noise tips.

6.  Just the masts of today's wind turbines can reach up to 160 meters high. When active, they kill so many insects that the sticky mass slows the rotors down. (the rotors don't slow down, they do lose aerodynamic efficiency to a minor enough degree that blades do get washed from time to time.)

Yes, Der Spiegel, leader in defending insect rights.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 06:50:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought the comment on the insects on the blades was the best one yet.

More interestingly, while factual and objective reporting seemed to have left the Spiegel building for a prolonged lunch in this article, I think the underlying observations (split in environmentalist groups, rise of local protests, the challenge of balancing the spread of building sites with complaints about noise, shadows or landscape change) remain worthy of continuous and decent discussion as long as wind on-shore activities expand. To my mind, such a discussion remains fundamental in relation to the public's consent on on-shore wind.

Trouble is that filtering the data out of the noise will cause more headaches, and I've plenty of them ahead already, so I'll pass today.

by Bjinse on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 08:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People living near wind farms must, of course, be remunerated for the visual and (whatever demonstrable) noise impact. Just as people living downwind of coal-burners must, of course, be compensated for the deterioration of air quality.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2013 at 08:41:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries