Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:08:45 AM EST
A Contentious Summit: Merkel's 400 Integration Promises - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted on Thursday, this year's integration summit, overshadowed by ultimatums and boycotts, didn't go quite the way she had expected. Despite its disappointing outcome, Merkel presented a mammoth concept for improving the integration of foreigners, a plan she hopes will finally bring progress to the issue.

Will German Chancellor Angela Merkel's integration summit turn into a "pile of shards"? At last year's integration summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel practically had to drag the smiling attendees away from their photo ops. "We have a lot of work to do," she said, as she and her enthusiastic guests rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

But this year's summit was a different matter, as signs of looming conflict began emerging right from the start. The city of Berlin's commissioner for integration and migration, Günther Piening, even went so far as to characterize the outcome of the summit the German government now faces as a "pile of shards."

After the accusations and the boycott of the summit by Turkish groups, Merkel's objective on Thursday was to direct attention to the results of the past year's efforts -- and away from her critics. But Merkel couldn't help but make a few comments about the Turkish groups in the end. Her comments were crystal clear.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Czech castration raises worries
A European anti-torture watchdog has expressed "serious reservations" about surgical castration being used to treat sex offenders in the Czech Republic.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture also expressed concerns about the use of chemical castration, and called for greater safeguards.

The Council of Europe committee questioned the freedom of consent for those undergoing the procedure.

The Czech government says castrations happened in accordance with the law.

In its report on the Czech Republic, the committee for the Prevention of Torture raised concerns about the use of castration, both chemical and surgical, in the treatment of sex offenders.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:16:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
John Lichfield: Europe gets its first taste of 'Tsarkozy' - Independent Online Edition > Commentators

n less than 60 days in office, President Nicolas Sarkozy has (according to President Sarkozy) "saved" Europe from drift and disarray. He has (according to President Sarkozy) re-captured the ideological agenda in Brussels from the free-market dogma of the "Anglo-Saxons". Domestically, "Sarkonomics" is taking shape as an unusual mixture of interfering economic policy and tax cuts for the wealthy: de Gaulle's nose and Margaret Thatcher's handbag.

M Sarkozy has, along the way, created turmoil in the main French opposition party and mayhem in the French media (which fears a "Berlusconisation" of news). All the levers of French government are in his hands, even those usually held by the Prime Minister. He even seems, in his spare time, to want to run the opposition. Hence the nick-name "Tsarkozy", coined by the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé.

More than two thirds of French people say the new President is doing a good job. Is he? Has President Sarkozy done much more than kick up a lot of dust and generate a great deal of smoke?

It is clear that a new era, at least a new style, in French politics has dawned. The President is no longer an avuncular old bloke in the back of a limousine. He is a man who jogs daily in the Bois de Boulogne. He is a man who invites visiting statesmen, and student leaders, to walk down the street to lunch in a trendy restaurant. Hooray for that. Hooray, too, to some parts of the Sarkozy programme of equality and "openness".

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:17:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Souring on Sarkozy Watch

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 04:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy calls for rework of French constitution - 13 Jul 2007 - NZ Herald: World / International News

FRANCE - President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a reform of France's constitution and announced he would set up a commission to study ways to modernise rather than revolutionise the French state.

Repeatedly evoking the spirit of former President Charles de Gaulle, Sarkozy said French presidents should be allowed to address the national parliament and suggested introducing an element of proportional representation in elections.

He also said famously opaque presidential spending should be scrutinised by the national state auditor.

"I want the president to govern and be held more to account," Sarkozy said in a speech in this northeastern town, where 61 years ago de Gaulle also delivered a keynote speech demanding that the presidency be handed more powers.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Only Democracies, Not Bullies, Are Worthy of Respect" | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.07.2007
DW-WORLD.DE spoke to Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves about the challenges facing his country and its stormy relationship with Russia.

Ilves grew up in the United States and attended Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. He became president of Estonia on Oct. 9, 2006.

In May 2007, Estonia came under a wave of crippling cyber attacks, which jammed government and business Web sites from computers all over the world. Computer security experts, however, say that, particularly in the early phase, some attackers were identified by their Internet addresses -- many of which were Russian.

It is believed the attacks were prompted by the Estonian government's decision to remove a Soviet Second World War memorial from a downtown memorial in the capital city on April 27. The decision caused an outrage among ethnic Russians in Tallinn and provoked angry condemnation from Russian officials.

DW-WORLD.DE: Who do you feel was behind the cyber attacks against the Estonian government?

Toomas Hendrik Ilves: It was not only the Estonian government. It was a number of Web sites including private banks, the emergency number system 112, and the press. I don't know who's behind it, but clearly it was organized.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:22:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's still a bully, who may turn on you at some point in the future.

Don't they see the double edge of what they say?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 04:59:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He means "only democracies which are not bullies", right? Which clearly disqualifies the US.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:04:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's impolitely anti-American to imply the US is not a democracy.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:02:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I said the US is a bully.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:07:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That too? What a bad anti-American you are.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:12:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prodi denies wrongdoing in EU embezzlement investigation | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
Italy's prime minister, Romano Prodi, said last night he had learnt he was under investigation in a fraud inquiry, but denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement issued by his office, Mr Prodi said he had not received any formal notification, which was reported by the website of the weekly news magazine Panorama. He added that he had "total confidence in the work of the magistrates" leading the inquiry who, he felt sure, would allow him to show he had nothing to do with "any eventual accusation".

Article continues Under Italian law, suspects are meant to receive a caution when their name is placed on a register of those formally under investigation. But, in high-profile cases involving celebrities or politicians, they usually find out through the media who learn of the move before it can be notified to the person concerned.

Calls to the investigating magistrate went unanswered last night. His superior said he was unaware Mr Prodi had been made a suspect and would have expected to be informed if he had.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, it's back to one of those ho-hum Panorama scoops that remind one so much of Guzzanti and Scaramella. It may be a coincidence but this is what it's all about:

Apparently there's a secret Masonic lodge in San Marino that's involved in embezzling EU funds. One of the persons involved has been linked to Prodi. All of this based on the confessions of a person actually charged with serious crimes in Calabria. So we have an interested person indicted for crimes who confesses that a person linked to Prodi is in on the deal. Ergo Prodi is written up in the register of people under investigation.

But every time the words "Panorama", house organ of the Berlusconi empire, and "San Marino", petty monkey-shit republic, appear side by side, one can't help thinking of the dozens of scams and attempts at framing that involve the two. From Guzzanti's Telekom Serbia bullshit, through Scaramella's work through the shadowy San Marino company Finbroker to frame Prodi and most of the left along with the deceased Litvinenko, to the framing of hapless Ukranians and second-rate Italians cons with false arms traffic charges.

Yes, San Marino does have one hell of a reputation. I'm reminded of the backwaters of the Finbroker case- as it does have some brilliant analogies. A certain Anghessa, wanted through Interpol for seedy nuclear et al. traffic, and definitively condemned, managed to frame a center-left big shot in San Marino by selling the Finbroker to him. Anghessa and his cohorts had previously used Finbroker for a lot of their shady traffics. The idea was to find a lefty sucker to take the fall and then set up Finbroker as a lefty company. But the lefty shill didn't have much time to even set foot in the company because judiciary authorities seized and padlocked the property and charged the lefty sucker with fraudulent bankruptcy.

The strange thing about the whole story is that Scaramella had free access to the premises while it was seized. He even took Limarev there to show off what a big shot he was.

Anghessa was last reported hanging out in Moscow during the Litvinenko affair. Scaramella apparently is still held in isolation in prison, an exceptional measure rarely taken. Senator Guzzanti continues to entertain us through the pages of Panorama with his psychotic ranting. The four Ukranians that Prodi allegedly hired to thump Guzzanti and Scaramella were found innocent on all charges. One hopes they'll sue the shit out of Scaramella and the Italian state. (Guzzanti is immune, poor fellow.)

If these shenanigans are to continue, perhaps San Marino should take serious action to save its tarnished reputation. And if Guzzanti is to continue in his obsessive compulsion to frame people he detests maybe it wouldn't be so far fetched to imagine that Litvinenko was a sacrificial thump.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 10:33:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As of 18:30 local time today Prodi has yet to be officially informed he is under investigation. The chief prosecutor of Catanzaro, Mariano Lombardo, informed the press today at 13:30 that if Prodi had been officially inserted in the register of persons under investigation, he was not aware of it. This is against procedure as the chief prosecutor should first be informed of an alleged action taken by a subordinate investigative judge in his district. The investigative judge, Luigi de Magistris, in charge of the case in which Prodi is allegedly involved is still irreperable as of yesterday.

The two judges are notoriously at odds with one another over the conduct of several cases.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 12:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkish scientists confront creationists' theory - Independent Online Edition > Europe

Tensions are rising in Turkey's schools and universities as academics and scientists confront the growing influence of Islamic creationists.

"Without science, modern civilisation is impossible," says Haluk Ertan, a geneticist at Istanbul University, "and yet Turkey has become the headquarters of creationism in the Middle East." Tarkan Yavas, the public face of the Science Research Foundation (BAV), a shadowy group that has led the charge against evolutionary theory in Turkey for 15 years, boasts: "Not just the Middle East, the world."

Headed by Adnan Oktar, a university dropout turned charismatic preacher, BAV made international headlines in February when it mass-mailed its lavishly illustrated, 6kgAtlas of Creation to scientists and schools throughout western Europe. Hundreds of pages juxtapose photographs of fossils and living species, arguing the similarities disprove claims that species adapt with time. Elsewhere, belief in evolution is blamed for communism, Nazism and - under a large photograph of the World Trade Centre in flames - the 9/11 attacks.

"Hitler and Mao were Darwinists," Mr Oktar told journalists last month on a luxury boat trip arranged to answer questions about the atlas. "Darwinism is the only philosophy which values conflict."

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shoah Class Action Suit: Children of Holocaust Survivors to Sue Germany - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

A class action suit is to be filed in Israel against the German government on behalf of the children of Holocaust survivors who are in urgent need of psychological treatment.

 Over 1 million Jews were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the Holocaust. Now children of Holocaust survivors are filing a class action suit against the German government. A class action suit is to be filed in Israel against the German government on behalf of the children of Holocaust survivors.

The lawsuit, which will be filed in Tel Aviv on Sunday, will demand that the German government pay for the psychological treatment of children of Holocaust survivors living in Israel (more...).

The suit is being filed by the Fisher Fund, an Israeli charity that helps Holocaust survivors, and will represent tens of thousands of Holocaust victims' children. The fund expects the number registered for the class action suit to soon reach 30,000 people, due to enormous media interest in Israel.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:33:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An obviously worthy and legitimate underlying cause. Add in the power of US lawyers and procedures, today's TV programming and current political context of accusing Europe of anti-semitism and you get an explosive mix, and a strange after taste.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:26:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we talking about people who were not even born when WWII ended?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:35:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from the sound of it. As I wrote above, I'm pretty sure that there's a decent case to be made that a number of them have had to live with a heavy burden passed on by their parents, and that pyschological help (among other things) was needed and helpful. So I am not unsympathetic to the underlying story.

But I cannot help wince when such help is called "urgent", 60 years after their parents came back from the camps, and when the whole thing sounds like a manufactured PR/legal circus

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:03:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to see children of people suffering from PTSD start suing governments all over the world.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:12:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know a few children of Holocaust survivors, and they themselves admit that they are not the most psychologically healthy people.  They question the effect of WWII on their parents - were their parents healthy psychologically prior to the War and  was it their parents' psychological quirkiness as they call it, the reason they survived?  Or was it the effect of the events they witnessed?

I think a case would have to be made about this for each and every individual family, so no class action suit could really be possible, I would think.

Also, I think what happened with the recent settlements of Jewish claimants against the Swiss banks was really disgusting - the attorney fees of the Jewish NYC lawyers were simply disgracefully high.  

by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:47:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Barbara was for a time involved in translating Holocaust Era Insurance Claims and I'm sure the legal fees for the whole thing were astronomical.

It is more cost-effective for everyone involved, however, to launch a class-action suit that sets up an agency in charge of reviewing the individual claims and awarding a settlement.

As for the effect of war on people, yes, my grandfather suffered from what we would today call PTSD from the Spanish Civil War and Franco's repression. Is my father entitled to sue the Spanish Government, and possibly also Germany and Italy, and Britain, and France and Russia?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose it depends on the circumstances.  If his family  was singled out because of his religious and ethnic roots, I would say yes.  
by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:01:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, my point is that the victims of wars should launch (and win) class action suits on the aggressors everywhere.

What makes religion and ethnicity the only legitimate reasons to claim victimisation? A war is a war is a war.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:04:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of the children of German Jews.  

Yes, you have a point, and perhaps this is the way to stop war.    Kind of like war reparations but for individuals. Because if no one can profit, I doubt there would be any wars.

By the wa, if any Iraqi wants to sue George Bush, by the way, I'll contribute to paying the legal fees.

by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:15:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The people who profit won't pay. And besides - after this long, they'll be dead. Is it legal or moral to sue their descendants?

The problem I have with this is that Germany in 2007 is not the same legal or ethical entity as Nazi Germany in 1937.

I have no problem with individuals being sued, and with corporations being sued. It's my fervent hope that if Bush and Cheney ever leave office, they'll be taken to the woodshed legally - as should Halliburton, Bechtel and the rest.

But I think the ice is much thinner when you try to pin the blame on countries. There is a difference between a regime and a country, and if you challenge countries and not regimes, the danger is that you create a precedent for grudge politics, with a potentially indefinite time-frame. Once you do that all kinds of nasty things become possible - legally and otherwise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tell that to the Kaczyinski twins in Poland!
by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:01:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, all a country needs to do is get a new constitution and they're off the hook?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:11:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could someone clear something up for me please?

Were the charges against the Nuremberg defendants included in the League of Nations' Charter or in the Geneva Conventions or were the charges of starting an aggressive war, for example, or crimes against humanity and genocide,  laws made up by the victors after the fact?

Since Germany was not invited to join the League of Nations, I've always had problems with the legal concept behind the issue - I don't mean the humanist values behind the charges, of course.

I am wondering how these same charges could be applied to certain warmongers living today.  If the UN Charter and the League of Nations' Charter differ in these points, perhaps not.

by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:26:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Wikipedia, the relevant treaties are
For war crimes
  • Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
  • Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928)
  • Geneva Conventions (1929 and 1949)
  • London Charter (1945) for the Nuremberg Trials
Crimes against peace and crimes against humanity were first defined by the London Charter. The League of Nations Charter dates from 1919, the UN Charter from 1945 and Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948. I don't think the Charters say anything about war crimes, that's what the other treaties are for.

The Nuremberg tribunal was ad hoc, just like the tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, and I believe the reason for the International Criminal Court was to create a standing court with universal jurisdiction to try all these crimes.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:40:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, all a country needs to do is get a new constitution and they're off the hook?

If it's mostly rubble and all of the old leaders are dead, yes.

If it's obviously just pretending and nothing much has changed, then no.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:47:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An arab cameraman of Al-Aqsa Hamas TV channel covering Israel army incursion in the Gaza strip was first hit by shell parts and was lying without moving on the ground with his camera near him. Then while he was lying motionless, israeli soldiers shot him in both legs. Both legs were later amputated in a Gaza hospital.

War is war indeed.


Un cameraman de la télévision Al-Aqsa du Hamas, Imad Ghanem, 23 ans, grièvement blessé jeudi 5 juillet par des tirs de l'armée israélienne. Selon l'AFP :

    Le cameraman, qui ne portait aucun signe distinctif de presse, a été d'abord touché par des éclats d'obus. Puis il a été atteint aux jambes par des balles tirées par des soldats israéliens alors qu'il gisait à terre, sans arme, la caméra à ses côtés.

    La télévision satellitaire qatarie Al-Jazira a transmis les images de l'incident, montrant les impacts de balles alors que des civils et des militants du Hamas tentaient de lui venir en aide mais étaient forcés de reculer sous les tirs. En fin de compte, le cameraman a pu être évacué. Il a été hospitalisé à Gaza où il a été amputé des deux jambes.

Des sources militaires israéliennes auraient estimé que

    tout "photographe en zone de combat prenait des risques".

    Une autre source militaire israélienne a estimé que les cameramen de la télévision Al-Aqsa "ne peuvent être considérés comme des journalistes, car ils font partie du bras armé du Hamas et leurs films servent à des fins de propagande ou de renseignement".

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 10:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The battle is over legal fees. Neuborne is seeking $4.76 million for almost eight years of work representing Holocaust survivors in the distribution of the Swiss-bank settlement for plundering Jewish assets in World War II. Some of the survivors are furious. They thought he had been working for free. They had heard him say so several times, or so it seemed. They were already angry at Neuborne for backing the judge and opposing them--"betraying" them, in their view--in a crucial decision that diverted more than $100 million of that payout to needy survivors in Russia. Now here he is, staking a claim to settlement funds they regard as "holy."

Elan Steinberg, former executive director of the World Jewish Congress, calls Neuborne's $4.76 million bill a "moral disgrace," pointing out that in a similar class-action suit against German industry, Neuborne already made $4.4 million. Menachem Rosensaft, a lawyer and the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, says, "There is a point at which even greed becomes unseemly." Robert Swift, a Philadelphia human-rights lawyer who also worked on the case--and clashed with Neuborne--says flatly, "Burt did a lot of things here that we would not want to teach our kids in law school." Others disagree: "In my opinion, he has done a superb job, in the finest tradition of what lawyers should do," says Michael Bazyler, a Whittier Law School professor who has written about the case. And the dispute has split the Jewish community. Next week, the Anti-Defamation League will give Neuborne its annual American Heritage Award, recognizing his work on behalf of the survivors and others. Gary Rosenblatt, the editor and publisher of The Jewish Week, wrote in a column, "Whatever number ultimately is determined to be fair pay for Neuborne, he should be compensated with a sense of gratitude, not bitterness, and the focus should return to pressuring those governments and banks and other institutions to pay what they have long owed."


by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So in 60 years the children of today's Palestinians will be able to sue the state of Israel, for the psychological conflicts they suffer?
by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:21:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you don't understand. Israel is by definition the victim.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:58:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would set a precedent, so I would think yes.
by lychee on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 03:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let´s not mention the effects of living through 59 years of violent hate proyection, on anyone German or Arab, by the state of Israel.

The suit is intended to benefit an estimated 15,000 children of survivors in Israel who are in need of psychological treatment as a result of being raised in dysfunctional homes.

*"children" here must have a new age definition than in the rest of the planet, so that anyone over 18/21 can be considered a helpless victim.

*"raised in dysfunctional homes."  I qualify.  Doesn´t everyone, really, by today´s standards versus their parents, in any country?

the money will only be used to pay for treatment and an accompanying cultural project

"cultural project" = prolong a politically-convenient conflict for an extra century, through media management.

The suit also includes a professional opinion by a top Israeli psychiatrist

with no financial, national, nor religious bias whatsoever, I am sure...

If the case does not succeed in Israel, Mazor says the Fisher Fund may file another suit in a German or international court. They are already collecting money to do so, he said. "But if the Tel Aviv court recognizes that the second generation are also victims, then that is already a significant step,"

These "children" can wait another decade for PTSD treatment because the publicity is worth it...  Of course!, we are doing it for the "children"...  We will collect money for lawsuits first so we can take care of the "children"...

"People in Israel feel we are doing something moral and important," he said. "They say we are doing holy work."

No comment.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Europe warns US over visa plans

American plans that could force Europeans to give two-days' notice before flying to the US would hinder last-minute business travel, the EU's security chief has warned.

Franco Frattini wants to ensure that US moves possibly to extend visa-free travel arrangements to all 27 EU member states do not create new hurdles to transatlantic business.

A scheme under consideration by US Congress proposes that the current US visa waiver programme be extended to former communist countries in central and eastern Europe, easing tensions with allies such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

But new security checks would be carried out on all Europeans before travel on a system based on the Australian model of electronic travel authorisations.

Under the proposals, European travellers would give passport and other details to the US authorities electronically, either personally or through travel agents.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:34:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they should go right ahead with this plan.

And then watch as tourism and business travels shrinks even further.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:49:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell me again why the EU clings to the visa waiver?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 10:03:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll tell you what: if you're a business traveller and need to go to the US frequently, just get a 6-month or 1-year visa or whatever. Then you don't ave to worry about it any longer. And, if you're a leisure traveller, well, plan your trip in advance.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 10:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But is the U.S. taking family emergencies/deaths into account? If your spouse goes on a business trip to the U.S. and is hurt, are you really going to want to wait 48 hours to find out if you can go be with them?
by lychee on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 03:22:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tough luck. If you're not from one of the few countries with a visa waiver you're screwed anyway, for longer than 48 hours.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:13:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berezovsky wanted in Brazil for alleged money laundering | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
The tussle between Britain and Russia over the London-based billionaire tycoon Boris Berezovsky took a new twist yesterday when the Brazilian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

Brazilian officials vowed to seek the extradition of Mr Berezovsky from the UK to face charges of money laundering. He is already wanted in Russia, accused of embezzlement.

The Brazilian move comes after the authorities there released the findings of a two-year investigation into a suspected money laundering racket involving the Brazilian football club Corinthians, which was effectively bought by a company linked to Mr Berezovsky in 2004. Brazilian prosecutors argue that Media Sports Investments (MSI), the subsidiary of an offshore company that formed a "partnership" with Corinthians in November 2004, is funded with the profits from organised crime in Russia.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:36:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French president Nicolas Sarkozy are considering whether to send EU troops to Chad to protect refugees from Darfur.

French newspaper La Croix reported that the two had discussed the idea during a meeting on Thursday (12 July).

"We talked about the possibility of rapidly deploying -- in cooperation with the president of Chad -- an interim EU force that would protect refugee camps in Chad, while awaiting the deployment of a UN police force," Mr Solana was reported as saying.

The conflict between the pro-government janjaweed militia and ethnic African rebels has been ongoing for over four years in Sudan's western region of Darfur, killing over 200,000 and driving an estimated two and half million from their homes.

The EU discusses the matter at its monthly foreign minister meetings but so far has done little except to raise the prospect of sanctions.
by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:37:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | UK | Airport security costs 'too high'
The aviation industry has said it can no longer afford the spiralling costs of security at Britain's airports.

Costs have risen by 150% since new security measures were brought in after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Security now accounts for a quarter of major airports' income. Airports cover all security costs themselves, but say this is simply not sustainable.

The industry now wants the government to contribute, but it insists the aviation industry must foot the bill.

Since the September 11 attacks, the government has introduced restrictions on hand baggage, a ban on liquids on board and, more recently, measures to move vehicles further away from terminal buildings.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:54:31 AM EST
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If this is done from tax money, it will take money away from essential services and it will keep the price of air travel low.

If the airports increase the amount of money they charge airlines to fly into them, the airlines will have to pass on the cost to travelers, and people may fly less.

Already the amount one pays on taxes and fees is larger than the advertised price of the ticket for some of the low-cost airlines.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 02:48:19 AM EST
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milking the poor, unsuspecting, British public.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:03:17 AM EST
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(quick explanation: Ferrovial, a Spanish group, now owns BAA, the group which owns the 3 main London airports and effectively has a (private) monopoly on travel out of London, and thus no real incentive to make travelling a more comfortable experience. Shopping space in airports has increased a lot faster than anything else over there.)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:05:07 AM EST
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Ferrovial has also said they are not willing to foot the bill for refurbishing and expanding Heathrow. The CEO of Ferrovial was quoted as saying, basically, that heathrow was in a sorry state when they bought it, and blamed the British (government?) for failing to maintain the infrastructure. He asked the question: do you want to have a first-class airport, or a crappy one? See? There's no reason for Ferrovial to sink money into British airports. If London wants an upgrade to Heathrow, they'll have to pay for it.

I love the smell of infrastructure privatisation in the morning.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:11:03 AM EST
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Quick google search...

Forbes: Ferrovial's BAA says proposed tariff cut could halt Heathrow development (06.28.07)

'If we don't get the correct settlement we could pull plans for Heathrow East,' BAA chief executive Stephen Nelson told journalists at a lunch in Madrid.


'The question is whether you want a good airport -- a world class airport -- or a cheap airport,' Ferrovial chairman Rafael Del Pino said.

'Heathrow is underpriced and the consequence has been that investment has been limited and customer service has not met the needs of passengers.'

Not that I'm inclined to take what the CEO of ferrovial says at face value, but "undervaluing of infrastructire resulting in underinvestment and sagging customer service" is consistent with what we know of British public service privatisation.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:17:56 AM EST
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I always rather liked the Teaco "Marinair" proposal.


But Ferrovia could go one better.

Build the airport as an offshore island, a tax-haven,a duty-free destination - routing the Eurostar through it.

And declare it the Corporate Republic Of Ferrovia

A bit like


Integrate it with offshore wind-power (which will happen anyway?) and tidal lagoons. Which provides an additional revenue stream for funding it.

Turn Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick totally into shopping malls (instead of 50% as now) and cover the runways with executive residences and office parks.

What are they waiting for?

Maybe it would need a weather upgrade.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:29:51 AM EST
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The UK privatised BAA 'as is' (i.e. with a pre-agreed allocation of responsibilities and tasks), and the company was bought at a - very - high price by Ferrovial on the basis of the expected income it thought it would make within such framework.

The Brits might be happy to stuff Ferrovial after having let the initial shareholders gorge on the mess that the airports are (by milking out, and then selling out at a high price reflecting the monopoly nature of the asset)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:23:19 AM EST
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no, it's the cost of having to watch Migeru!
by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:40:10 AM EST
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Irish Protestant Parades Held Without Violence of the Past - New York Times

DUBLIN, July 12 (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Protestants marched without trouble through Northern Ireland's streets on Thursday in an annual event that once ignited conflict with Catholics.

The marches, by the Orange Order, are held annually on July 12 -- an official holiday in Northern Ireland called The Twelfth -- in commemoration of a victory by the Protestant forces of King William of Orange over James II, the Catholic king he ousted from the English throne.

Catholics have long loathed the parades, which they saw as an effort to intimidate them, but the calm atmosphere on Thursday was attributed to an increasing political cooperation between the sides.

In the past decade, Catholics led by Sinn Fein, a party linked to the Irish Republican Army, had tried to block the Orangemen from parading through or near Catholic districts, often resulting in violence.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 02:29:04 AM EST
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This is such good news - so there's at least one problem that seems to have been solved intelligently and successfully.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:03:06 AM EST
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ABC News: Sardinia Yacht Tax Takes Aim at Rich and Famous

As yachting season kicks off across the Mediterranean, there are a few yachts that will probably not moor on the famous Costa Smeralda, also known as the Emerald Coast, of Sardinia, Italy.

They include yachts belonging to such American billionaires as Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corporation.

Last summer, both Ellison and Allen refused to berth their megayachts, Rising Son and Tatoosh, in Sardinia's Cala di Volpe bay. (Although some Russian billionaires, including oil magnate Roman Abramovich, had no such reservations.)

Neither man commented on their reasons for doing so, but it's widely believed that their decision may have something to do with the introduction of a new "luxury tax" by the regional government of Sardinia.

The Sardinian government last year slapped a tax on all yachts longer than 46 feet. This means an annual fee of $1,377 for yachts up to 52.5 feet to a hefty $20,656 for those measuring over 197 feet. And the tax is non-negotiable, with the government insisting that even yachts mooring for less than 24 hours must pay the full amount.

by Fran on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 03:25:12 AM EST
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And this is nothing compared with what happens in Malta.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:22:40 AM EST
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Well, yes.

When you're a multi-billionaire, $20k must really hurt.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:50:12 AM EST
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PARIS - French legislators approved a measure Friday lowering the cap on tax burdens to 50 percent of income, despite resistance from leftists and even within the ruling conservative coalition.

The tax limit is part of a sweeping economic package central to President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to open up the economy. The lower house of parliament began debating the bill this week in a special summer session Sarkozy called after his May election, and was to wrap up discussion Monday before sending it on to the Senate.

According to the measure approved Friday, a taxpayer cannot be taxed more than 50 percent of his or her income. Until January there were no across-the-board limits on taxation. Since January, the cap has been at 60 percent of income.

It's a sensitive subject in France. Rock legend Johnny Hallyday disappointed fans but lent a boost to friend Sarkozy when he moved to Switzerland last year to escape high taxes.

Leftists said the bill was a "gift to the rich."

Centrist lawmakers allied with the conservative UMP party tried -- and failed -- to soften the measure by not including employee payments to social services in the 50-percent limit.

I note how the casual use of the term "leftist" is spreading in the media.

But of course, I have read nowhere in the press but in Le Canard Enchainé a detailed mechanism of how this will work. Even with the 60% cap, that right has actually been underused, because it requires taxpayers to make a formal demand to the French tax authorities to limit their payment (or, in practice, get a refund from what they already paid). Such a demand triggers a formal "confrontational" tax procedure, which allows the tax authorities to investigate the claimant's income in a lot more detail - including things like asset valuations and use of various tax-avoidance mechanisms.

For some strange reason, reports Le Canard, only about 10% of the people that would have been expected to make a claim under the existing law have done so - presumably because they are not keen for the tax authorities to take too close a look at their assets and income... The rich, not wholly transparent about the taxes they pay? Whoddathunk?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:20:00 AM EST
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