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19 August 2013

by afew Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 04:38:43 PM EST

Your take on today's news media


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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:12:16 AM EST
Merkel warns of far-right extremism in Europe - The Local
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for vigilance against far-right extremism in Europe on Saturday, ahead of a visit to a former Nazi concentration camp.

Merkel will travel to Dachau near the southern city of Munich on Tuesday, becoming the first German chancellor to visit the former camp.

(...) "We must never allow such ideas to have a place in our democratic Europe," Merkel said.

(...) The Nazis opened Dachau as a concentration camp for political prisoners in March 1933, just weeks after Adolf Hitler took power.

One word: Brüning.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:30:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bárcenas affair augurs internal PP war | In English | EL PAÍS

The repercussions of the Bárcenas affair, being played out in the High Court against a backdrop of burgeoning voter disaffection, is creating a schism in a political party accustomed to closing ranks when controversy looms.

In testimony given this week, current Popular Party (PP) secretary general, María Dolores de Cospedal, and two of her predecessors in the post have failed to provide official data to disprove the claims of former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who is in preventive custody accused of tax fraud and money laundering.

(...) De Cospedal's appearance has opened the breach further still and it remains to be seen who Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will choose to cast into the chasm. The PP number two told Judge Pablo Ruz that she had not taken part in the 2010 decision to keep Bárcenas in the party fold. Her responses to the judge indicated that Rajoy and his trusted lieutenant, Javier Arenas, were the instigators of the special protection afforded to the tainted treasurer.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:43:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Gibraltar dispute: Spanish fishermen in reef protest

Spanish fishermen have sailed into disputed waters off Gibraltar to protest about a reef put there by the British territory's government.

The fishermen say the reef restricts their right to fish, but Gibraltar says they should not be fishing there.

Gibraltar police said the protest, which lasted an hour and passed off without incident, ended at 10:20 BST.

The row over the artificial reef has led to tensions between the UK, Gibraltar and Spain in recent weeks.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Russia doesn't pose any threat to Sweden' - The Local
This spring, the parliamentary defence committee's review of Sweden's future national security concerns tried to present a unified view of military developments in the world. After several decades of being determined to perceive Russia as less of a threat, a view that enabled Sweden to cut down considerably on its defence budget, there has now been a radical U-turn.

Russia is today perceived as an increasing threat to Sweden's national security. Spokespersons for the Swedish "military industrial complex" have put their backs into communicating two messages. The first, that Russia is in the middle of an extensive militarization. The second, that the Russian regime is showcasing an increasingly autocratic bent. I would argue, however, that both these ideas are incorrect and that there have been events this past summer that strongly support my argument.

On August 6th, the respected Russian defence analyst Alexander Golts argued in an article that "Nobody seems to have taken note of the latest sensation." Said sensation refers to a meeting on July 29th between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's top military brass during which Putin confessed that the government's ambitious military modernization plan, mean to come in at about 20 billion rubles ($650 billion), had failed. And the prime reason for that failure was domestic producers' inability to deliver components at an acceptable quality.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:56:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So basically the Swedish military industrial complex is trying to drum up some orders by orchestrating a series of scare stories. That's okay, that's what they do.

But if Putin is becoming increasingly autocratic, then, let's be honest, he's not alone in this. The US and UK are becoming increasingly careless in their exercise of authoritarian threat, but at home and abroad.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Smoking Bans: The Czechs resist | Presseurop.eu: European news, cartoons and press reviews
With startling speed and success, Europe has vigorously lobbied to ban smoking from public areas. The Czech Republic comes across as the last obdurate defender of the freedom to inhale nicotine - and, true to its specific concept of liberalism, is trying to muster all its might to torpedo every EU effort.

(...) The June hearing to review Reilly's proposal on the tobacco directive ran into stiff resistance from the Czech delegation. It was the only one to proclaim a "no concession" policy, and delegates demanded only one thing: that the directive be struck down. Thanks only to the fact that the vote took place under the Lisbon Treaty, the sole Czech "nay" lacked the power of veto to quash the whole project.

Does an explanation lie in the furious lobbying of the tobacco companies in their own defence, as Helen Ross claims? If so, what exact form does such lobbying take? The British researchers themselves lack the answers to similar concrete questions. Ross, however, did spend several weeks in Prague last year, meeting with about a dozen politicians, officials and representatives of the tobacco companies. The result of her work is worthy of attention: "The official representatives of the Czech Republic speak exactly the way that proves convenient to the tobacco producers: they roll out their standard arguments and refuse any change," Ross concludes. "Their influence is readily apparent."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:05:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As befits a country which thought that Frank Zappa had something useful to say about economic affairs

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:48:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:12:39 AM EST
Rich World's Biggest Jobs Growth Nears End in Singapore - Bloomberg
Tony Cousens spent more than S$100,000 ($79,000) to find waiters and housekeepers for the Ramada and Days Hotels in Singapore. Months after the two establishments opened, he is still about 100 people short.

Cousens's plight underscores the new reality for an economy that probably delivered the biggest employment surge among 33 advanced economies in the decade to 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Singapore's annual jobs growth may halve in the coming years from a 2007 peak as the island widens a clampdown on foreign workers, Bank of America Corp. estimates.

"This tightening of the foreign-labor market won't go away," said Cousens, general manager of the two hotels in the city that charge as much as S$320 a night. Jobs take longer to fill, "especially if you're very demanding on the culture and the behavior of the individuals and specifying Singaporeans," he said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China to Ease Foreign Investment Rules for New Free Trade Zones - Bloomberg

China plans to suspend some laws on foreign investment in proposed new free trade zones including Shanghai as part of Premier Li Keqiang's drive to open up the economy to sustain growth.

The changes will provide "innovative" ways of opening up the economy, remove unnecessary administration and help transform the state's role in the economy, according to a State Council statement after an Aug. 16 meeting led by Li.

China is boosting efforts to attract foreign companies after investment from abroad fell last year for the first time since the global financial crisis. Free trade zones that will be allowed to cut bureaucracy and test financial liberalization may offer incentives that help the government maintain economic growth of at least 7 percent a year as the export- and investment-led model of expansion runs out of steam.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Overseas spree on luxury London property chokes local business | Reuters

(Reuters) - Custom at David Zambra's upmarket central London shop, once a supplier of stationery to Queen Victoria's family, has fallen 10 percent each year since 2009.

The British economy is weak and internet shopping on the rise but he blames super-rich foreign buyers who have snapped up homes in his Belgravia neighborhood, one of the world's most affluent, leaving them empty for much of the year.

The wealthy including from the Middle East and Eastern Europe have poured money into luxury properties in places such as Mayfair and Knightsbridge, seen as safe investments during the financial crisis and footholds in a dynamic city.

Many are rarely visited by their owners, leaving parts of important economic areas deserted, squeezing local businesses already suffering in tough trading conditions.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:25:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who Could Have Predicted?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:49:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Analysis: Summers-led Fed might raise rates faster than Yellen | Reuters

(Reuters) - Barring another financial crisis or slide back into recession, the next head of the Federal Reserve is likely to oversee a gradual normalization of monetary policy.

But that pace, including the first interest rate hike, might be somewhat quicker under former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers than under current Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, the two top contenders for the job, if their own comments are any guide.

Moreover, a Summers-led Fed would appear less likely to extend or expand the use of the extraordinary measures that the central bank has undertaken during the tenure of current chairman Ben Bernanke, whose term expires in January.

The distinction between Summers and Yellen is perhaps best illustrated by remarks they delivered at separate events in April.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:26:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why are we going through all this BS ?

Wall street will get their man and all of the advisers and the evidence who come before Obama to help him make the choice will be carefully screened to ensure that they get the result they want. So, we go through a charade while Obama allegedly makes up his mind.

Then a few years after he's left the WH, he'll admit that maybe summers wasn't such a good choice after all, but absolutely nobody was saying any different. Just like nobody predicted 2008, apart from all those who did

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which shows Brad de Long was full of shit when he wrote A Slight Preference for Larry Summers to Be Federal Reserve Chair (July 29, 2013)
Janet Yellen has a proven record of being able to build consensus inside the Fed. Larry Summers is the least likely to bind himself to an institutional consensus past its sell-by date. Only five potential candidates pass this threefold test: Larry Summers, Janet Yellen, Christy Romer, Alan Blinder and Laura Tyson. They are all, in my view, superior by far to others whose names have been mentioned. Superior, for example, to a Tim Geithner who gives no sign of feeling in his bones the pain of the unemployed, or a Donald Kohn whose estimates of both growth and inflation have been erroneously high since 2007. A choice of any of the five would be a good outcome. A choice of anybody else would be a bad outcome.

Among those five, Janet Yellen has an edge in long-term Fed experience and has a proven record of being able to build consensus inside the institution. Larry Summers has an edge as the most creative thinker likely to successfully think outside the box should outside-the-box thinking be called for, and least likely to bind himself to an institutional consensus past its sell-by date. If times are placid, the stakes are small. If times are turbulent, outside-the-box thinking has its place.

Therefore I have a slight preference for Summers.



Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 08:19:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Larry Summers can 'feel in his bones' the suffering of the unemployed? What evidence is there for that? I accept that he does feel - mostly disdain for anyone  but himself.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 12:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IPS - The Role of the State in Developing Countries under Attack from New FTAs | Inter Press Service

GENEVA, Aug 17 2013 (IPS) - Two new trade agreements involving the two economic giants, the United States and the European Union, are leading a charge against the role of the state in the economy of developing countries.

Attention should be paid to this initiative as it has serious repercussions on the future development plans and prospects of developing countries.

The two latest attempts towards this are through the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). A new feature of both, as compared to other FTAs, will be discipline on the operations of state enterprises and a reduction of the state's role in development.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:36:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A new feature of both, as compared to other FTAs, will be discipline on the operations of state enterprises and a reduction of the state's role in development.

That is not a problem but a feature - from the neo-con point of view. The only positive development they support is in the net worth of their patrons and themselves.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 12:35:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:13:04 AM EST
Turkey plays big in Kurdistan's energy game | Reuters

(Reuters) - Turkey has quietly built up a large presence in Kurdistan's oil and gas industry, teaming up with U.S. major Exxon Mobil, as Ankara bets on Iraq's semi-autonomous republic to help wean it off costly Russian and Iranian energy imports.

A state-backed Turkish firm was also set up in the second quarter of 2013 to explore for oil and gas in Kurdistan, according to three sources familiar with the company.

The strategy will anger Baghdad, which claims sole authority to manage Iraqi oil, and runs counter to calls from Washington for Ankara to avoid backing projects that will help the Kurds gain further autonomy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:29:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt braces for fresh anti-coup protests - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Protesters are preparing to return to the streets of Egypt following calls for fresh demonstrations against the interim, military-backed government.

The new protests were called by the Anti-Coup Alliance, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, following violence on Friday and the end of a tense standoff with protesters at a Cairo mosque.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:31:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt's fate in balance amid warnings of war - Features - Al Jazeera English

International analysts, pundits and diplomats warn that if left unchecked, the violence in Egypt could escalate into civil war.

However, Egyptian commentators disagree. They say that the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opponent to the military-backed government, could never become an effective armed group, and is losing support. Besides, the Brotherhood has never threatened war to achieve its aim of the return of its president.

However, the country faces the very real danger of becoming a failed state, according to political analyst Amr Adly, if the political crisis continues to drag on.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:35:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Polarised media fuels conflict in Egypt - Features - Al Jazeera English

Cairo, Egypt - In the weeks preceding the breakup of the Rabaa Adaweya sit-in, the square became host to a strange assortment of social ails, according to reports in Egypt's increasingly polarised media. State news anchors reported an outbreak of scabies due to the camp's lack of hygiene, the "sexual jihad," a supposed fatwa that permits un-married, usually nonconsensual sex, to support waging jihad, and a suspicious "foreign drone" hovering over the protest.

The scabies outbreak never happened. The "Sexual Jihad" in question turned out to be a rumor spurred by errant question on a Muslim Brotherhood Facebook page. And the drone turned out to be an airborne consumer camera used to take overhead pictures of the rally.

These accusations and others are indicative of a strong binary that has been unfolding on social media, private outlets, and the nation's state owned radio stations, television channels, and newspapers since nationwide protests erupted on June 30.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:40:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign Policy: CIA Admits It Was Behind Iran's Coup (August 18, 2013)
The agency finally owns up to its role in the 1953 operation.
Oh, really?

CIA World Factbook: Iran

Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza PAHLAVI was forced into exile.


Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 09:28:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wiki may need updating. From the FP National Security link above:
...it has taken almost six decades for the U.S. intelligence community to acknowledge openly that it was behind the controversial overthrow. Published here today -- and on the website of the National Security Archive, which obtained the document through the Freedom of Information Act -- is a brief excerpt from The Battle for Iran, an internal report prepared in the mid-1970s by an in-house CIA historian.

The document was first released in 1981, but with most of it excised, including all of Section III, entitled "Covert Action" -- the part that describes the coup itself. Most of that section remains under wraps, but this new version does formally make public, for the first time that we know of, the fact of the agency's participation: "[T]he military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy," the history reads. The risk of leaving Iran "open to Soviet aggression," it adds, "compelled the United States ... in planning and executing TPAJAX."


The Russians made us do it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 12:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not Wiki, the CIA World Factbook.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 06:40:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:13:35 AM EST
Your iPhone uses more electricity than your fridge | Grist

The global digital economy, also known as the ICT system (information-communications-technologies), sucks up as much electricity today as it took to illuminate the entire planet in 1985. The average iPhone requires more power per year than the average refrigerator. It's like you're walking around all day with a fridge's worth of electricity in your pocket (but no hummus!).

This info comes from a report [PDF] by Mark Mills, CEO of the Digital Power Group, sponsored by the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. So part of the report's point is that coal keeps the iPhones on. But instead of inspiring gratitude for coal and all the blessings it bestows on us, knowing the source of all that juice just makes the digital economy's ginormous energy footprint of even greater concern.

As Bryan Walsh points out in Time, the ICT system's power hunger only stands to keep growing as our devices become ever more powerful and ubiquitous.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What a load of crap. Power consumption of ARM processors is measured in tens of mW; I'd like to see anyone running a fridge on that.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 05:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, one would guess that it is far from the only consumption associated with a smartphone.
The infrastructure they require, for instance, would be included to the calculation I would guess.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 05:37:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I'll bet they included the chilled food supply chain in the fridge running costs.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 05:51:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The headline is bollocks, talking about the iPhone for effect. The estimate is the total power cost of running the Information Technology infrastructure.

Then again: World o' data centers burns less juice than expected (The Register, 1st August 2011)

In early 2007, Jonathan Koomey - a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor at Stanford University - created a model of the world's server installed base and electricity usage for these servers. Based on data from a report to the US Congress from the Environmental Protection Agency and IT market watcher IDC, this original Koomey report showed that power consumption of installed servers in both the United States and across the world was growing faster than the installed base of machines.

...

That second report projected that power consumption in the world's data centers would double between 2005 and 2010, repeating a doubling of consumption from 2000 to 2005. But whereas the Great Recession was awful for most of us, it has apparently been great for data center efficiency, according to the latest report from Koomey, which was just commissioned by the New York Times.

...

In early 2007, based on then-current historical data for the US, Koomey projected that 135.1 billion kilowatt-hours would go up in coal smoke powering IT gear in 2010 without any changes to behavior, but based on advances in server virtualization and power efficiency inside servers and other gear and in data center design, Koomey guessed that it would actually only rise to 107.9 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010 in the United States.




Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 06:00:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apple bingo.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 06:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The report claims (I can't copy from the pdf) that one hour a week's streaming video on a tablet uses twice the electricity of a new fridge. The footnote says a new refigerator, according to EPA Energy Star, uses 350 Kwh/year (not including embodied energy, which is helpfully defined as + 5-10% over the lifetime of the appliance), against 700 Kwh/year for a tablet doing one hour streaming HD a week (network operations + network embodied energy + tablet embodied energy, but not including data centers and end-use tablet charging).

The whole point of the report is to say: you need all this juice, and coal is going to supply it. Anti-coal people will have you scratching on parchment with a quill pen by the light of a guttering candle.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:50:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point of the report is to say: you need all this juice, and coal is going to supply it. Anti-coal people will have you scratching on parchment with a quill pen by the light of a guttering candle.

I've just listened to a similar argument from my sister suggesting electric cars don't save power cos all the recharging comes from power stations which burn stuff, so why not just use the petrol directly.

I just shake my head and walk away, there's no convincing some people

Just out of interest, how re-cyclable are the batteries used in cars or phones ?


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 08:00:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the epitome of nonsense: How much power do we spend to make Bitcoins? (June 8, 2013)
Since the beginning of Bitcoin, the mining process has been getting harder and this means that we need more and more energy each day to produce cryptocurrency. It's no wonder as we have already seen the kind of computer that miners need to create Bitcoins (if you didn't catch these monster-like computers, here they are).

However, the website that gathers all the available data about Bitcoin mining, the page Blockchain.info, published an estimated electricity consumption that is shocking: 2,045.17 megawatts per hour!

Just make the math. This is a total of $306,774.97 per day.  Still, this isn't the total cost, because the estimate doesn't include the energy and resources needed to make the computers run, this is only the cost of the mining process.

Bitcoin myths
Bitcoin mining is a waste of energy and harmful for ecology

No more so than the wastefulness of mining gold out of the ground, melting it down and shaping it into bars, and then putting it back underground again. Not to mention the building of big fancy buildings, the waste of energy printing and minting all the various fiat currencies, the transportation thereof in armored cars by no less than two security guards for each who could probably be doing something more productive, etc.

As far as mediums of exchange go, Bitcoin is actually quite economical of resources, compared to others.



Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 05:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
2,045.17 megawatts per hour!


Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 06:54:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barfing at the Burger King Whopper Bar | VICE United States

The thing before me seemed to be digesting itself. The acids in the sauces were melting the burger, bun, and cheeses together into a slurry, evolving before my eyes into a food group yet undiscovered by scientists. I figured if I took a quick little bite and chewed it up real quickly I could force it down my craw into my gullet and maybe make some progress. No such luck. As soon as the horrible experiment entered my mouth my tongue instinctively forced it back out in an effort to keep its host alive.

Most of the time when you hear the word "inedible" it is being used in the figurative sense. As in, "This pate de foi gras is so dry, it's practically inedible!" But here I'm using it in the literal, scientific sense. The Whopper I created was no longer a food product, although I suppose its component parts are sort of considered to be food in and of themselves. I once heard about a man in the Guinness Book of World Records who consumed an entire small airplane by slowly dismantling it and eating very tiny pieces over the course of months. I think that might be the only way to actually eat the thing that malevolently sat in front of me.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:17:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did Berkeley Defund a High-Profile Pesticide Researcher? | Mother Jones

Thus began Dashka Slater's feature in the Jan./Feb. 2012 Mother Jones on Tyrone Hayes, the University of California/Berkeley biologist who has done groundbreaking research suggesting that atrazine, a widely used herbicide, can literally change frogs' gender, even at at tiny exposure levels--a finding atrazine's maker, Swiss agrichemical giant Syngenta, vigorously denies. This week, Darnell and other frogs under Hayes' care have suffered another indignity, according to Hayes: he reportedly told The Chronicle of Higher Education (paywall-protected) that the university has cut off funding for his Berkeley lab. "We're dead in the water," Hayes told the Chronicle. He is now without funds "needed to pay for basic functional operations, such as the care of test animals," the magazine reports. The university denies it has taken any action to defund Hayes--a spokesperson "suggested the possibility that he simply ran out of money," the Chronicle reports.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Slater's MoJo piece provides essential background into Hayes' saga: the long, twisted tale about how atrazine's maker, the Swiss agrichemical giant Syngenta, has engaged in an effort to discredit Hayes and his work. Since the publication of Slater's blockbuster, an Illinois court has released documents shedding more light on Syngenta's campaign against Hayes and other atrazine critics, which the pesticide maker undertook in an attempt to fight off a lawsuit by several Midwestern towns seeking redress for atrazine residues in their drinking water. (Syngenta settled that suit in 2012 by agreeing to pay out a total of $105 million to more than 1,000 communities, without admitting to culpability.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:18:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate change seen behind ancient civilizations' fall

A cold, dry spell that lasted hundreds of years may have driven the collapse of Eastern Mediterranean civilizations in the 13th century BC, researchers in France said Wednesday.

In the Late Bronze Age, powerful kingdoms spanned lands that are now Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories, but they collapsed suddenly around 1200 BC.

Archeologists have long debated the reasons behind their fall, often citing economic factors.

But in the past few years, more research has come to light indicating that natural factors, including a wintry drought, may have dried up agriculture, caused famine and forced people into war.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, the local economy would not have been helped by the explosion of Santorini around this time which completely devastated the Minoan proto-Greek civilization c/o a large tsunami across the whole region.

That said, there is considerable reference to a 50 year drought which brought about the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. This may well have had a long precursor and tail period either side.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 08:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 10:31:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate benefit for cutting soot, methane smaller than previous estimates

Cutting the amount of short-lived, climate-warming emissions such as soot and methane in our skies won't limit global warming as much as previous studies have suggested, a new analysis shows. The study also found a comprehensive climate policy would produce more climate benefits by 2050 than if soot and methane were reduced alone.

"Cutting back only on soot and methane emissions will help the climate, but not as much as previously thought," said the study's lead author, climate researcher Steve Smith of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "If we want to stabilize the climate system, we need to focus on greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Concentrating on soot and methane alone is not likely to offer much of a shortcut."

The new study will be published the week of Aug. 12 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online. Smith works at the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md., a joint venture between PNNL and the University of Maryland.

At least two studies have been published since 2010 that suggest reducing soot and methane would cut human-caused global temperature increases by half of a degree Celsius, or about 1 degree Fahrenheit, by 2050. International leaders took note and formed the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in 2012.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:21:49 AM EST
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German energy giants pull plug on coal, nuclear - The Local
German power company RWE is shutting six domestic plants and rival E.ON is threatening to relocate to Turkey as the sector tots up the cost of the government's energy policy turnaround.

...the turnaround is depriving utilities, including market leaders RWE and E.ON, of massive profits from their atomic plants and turning their gas and coal-fired stations into loss-makers as they are sidelined by rival renewable sources of energy.

Last week, the two biggest players in the German sector unveiled steep drops in profits, and "many of our plants are operating at a loss," complained RWE's finance chief Bernhard Günther.

Indeed, RWE announced that it would shut down a number of plants --representing combined capacity of 4,300 megawatts -- in both Germany and the Netherlands. And more could follow, Günther warned.

The networks agency that oversees such closures has received 15 such applications since the end of 2012, according to a spokeswoman.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:32:37 AM EST
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IPS - Africa's Largest Hydroelectric Project May Hit the Rocks | Inter Press Service

JOHANNESBURG/LUBUMBASHI, Aug 17 2013 (IPS) - There are big aspirations for Africa's largest hydroelectric project, the Inga III that is set to be built in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But analysts are sceptical that such an ambitious project will ever be realised.

In May, Congolese Minister of Energy Bruno Kapandji made the announcement that the project was moving forward, adding that that Inga III would generate 4,800 megawatts (MW). The project will be constructed on the site of two existing dams on the lower Congo River in western DRC. It will be built on one of the largest waterfalls in the world, the Inga Falls, where the Congo River drops almost a hundred metres and flows at an enormous speed of 43 cubic metres per second. South Africa is both a partner in and the major client of the project.

Independent economist Ian Cruickshanks praised the vision behind Inga III, but expressed concerns about whether it would ever go ahead.

"The potential of this project is enormous and exciting and could make a huge difference to sub-Saharan Africa," he told IPS.

"It could provide cheaper and cleaner electricity than is currently produced in coal-fired power stations. The river is there - you need to put in the turbines and to build the power lines."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:34:19 AM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:14:00 AM EST
Study suggests apes can learn to swim and dive like humans

Researchers say they have obtained the first video-based observation of swimming and diving by apes, a behavior previously thought distinct to humans.

Zoos have for many years used water moats to confine chimpanzees, gorillas or orangutans, who often drowned if they ventured into deep water, leading some researchers to conclude swimming was an exclusively human activity among primates.

Renato Bender of Wits University in South Africa and Nicole Bender of the University of Bern have studied a chimpanzee and an orangutan in the United States that were raised and cared for by humans and have learned to swim and to dive.

"We were extremely surprised when the chimp Cooper dived repeatedly into a swimming pool in Missouri and seemed to feel very comfortable," Bender said. "It was very surprising behavior for an animal that is thought to be very afraid of water."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:19:29 AM EST
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Thai villagers mistake Google worker for government snoop

Thai villagers on Wednesday apologised for mistaking a Google worker for a government snoop as he carried out mapping for the Internet giant's "Street View" programme in a remote area.

The man was stopped by villagers at Sa Iap, in northern Thailand, on Tuesday as he drove through in a marked Google car with a camera attached to a turret.

Google worker, government snoop, there's a difference?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:21:17 AM EST
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Our selfish society: all for one and one for all is so old-fashioned now | Catherine Bennett | Comment is free | The Observer

After some distressing experiences around bill sharing in restaurants, a friend identified a syndrome he called "I only had the prawn cocktail", which is probably self-explanatory. Current advice on this subject (Debrett's: niggling "will be embarrassing and look cheap") confirms that shared bill evasion remains a problem, maybe a growing one, as might be expected in hard times. It is still a surprise, however, to find "I only had the prawn cocktail" elevated into a political philosophy, one that actively cultivates resentment in individuals obliged to subsidise services from which they do not personally benefit.

Why, for example, should non-rail users help fund a railway system? I barely use network railways. Thus, as transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, agrees, in the context of crippling, above-inflation fare increases, I can hardly be expected to pay top dollar as a taxpayer for a transport system whose cost and quality concerns me roughly as much, on a daily basis, as donkey provision in Cleethorpes.

(...) This concern for non-commuters has not, of course, put an end to divisiveness. The Tory MP Dominic Raab, who promises to be to the credo "I only had the prawn cocktail" what the US philosopher John Rawls was to the common good, says that southern passengers are being ripped off to bail out northerners. "Labour's warped franchise agreements with train operators left my constituents paying a massive subsidy for other lines," he told the Times, under the headline "South 'cheated' in fares hike".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:53:22 AM EST
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Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized "17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants ... native grasses and sunflowers," after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including "grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises," Smith's statement said. She said the police didn't produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn't be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested -- for outstanding traffic violations.

Guilty of breathing while being DFHs.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 11:04:01 AM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 08:14:21 AM EST
Rosalia Mera, world's richest self-made woman, dies aged 69 | World news | The Guardian

The world's richest self-made woman, a Spanish former seamstress who co-founded the fashion retailer Zara, has died at the age of 69.

Rosalia Mera was the richest woman in Spain with an estimated worth of $6.1bn (£3.9bn), although her fortune represented a fraction of the wealth accumulated by her former husband and Zara co-founder, Armancio Ortega.

Mera suffered a stroke while on holiday on the island of Menorca. She died on Thursday night in a hospital in the town where she was born, La Coruna in northern Spain.

Having left school at 11 years old, Mera worked as a seamstress as a teenager before setting up a company with Ortega that would evolve into one of the biggest clothes retailers in the world.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 09:22:56 AM EST
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"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 03:16:05 PM EST
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