Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 02:13:11 PM EST
Ouagadougou Is Annoyed, Too: 'We Were Shocked' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück has outraged more than just his European neighbors in the past week -- he also angered Africans by comparing Burkina Faso to tax havens like Switzerland and Luxembourg. Now, Burkina Faso's ambassador to Germany, Xavier Niodogo, says he'd like to invite Steinbrück for a visit to Ouagadougou.

SPIEGEL: German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück cited Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in the same breath as Luxembourg and Switzerland. You have criticized the statement. Is there a diplomatic crisis between Germany and Burkina Faso?

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Burkina Faso's ambassador to Germany, 55-year-old Xavier Niodogo, in Berlin. Xavier Niodogo: We were very surprised and also shocked that our country was compared to alleged tax havens. Burkina Faso has nothing to do with that. We have very clear tax rules and our banking system is strictly monitored. In this regard, we are considered a model internationally.

SPIEGEL: What have you done?

Niodogo: My government has sent an official protest note to the German Foreign Ministry, in which we demanded an explanation for the comparison.

by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 02:23:33 PM EST
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Questioning Inefficiency: Why Is Russia's Productivity So Low? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Russian Companies are still among the least productive in the industrial world, but the downturn could provide a catalyst for big improvement.

On the face of it, Russia's economic performance over recent years has been impressive. But today, amid plummeting gross domestic product and sharp falls in industrial production, there's a new awareness that Russia's economy is also beset by deep-seated problems. Despite almost two decades of market reforms, the country's labor productivity, a key indicator of overall economic efficiency, remains one of the lowest among industrialized nations. Several studies have been published recently underscoring the scale of the problem.

 This steel factory in Novokuznetsk, Russia has been forced to reduce hours and salaries. According to one of the studies, by Strategy Partners, a Moscow management consultancy, Russia's average labor productivity is just 17 percent of the US level. The amount varies by sector, from a low of 6 percent in machine building to a high of 22 percent in the natural resource industries. But the room for improvement is colossal everywhere. "If, in Russia, a mere 10 percent of workers had the same level of productivity as in the US, Russia's GDP would increase by one and a half times," notes Alexander Idrisov, managing partner of Strategy Partners.

by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 02:25:14 PM EST
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Or more likely, that many more Russians would be out of work.

All this talk of efficiency and productivity, in a time of massive over-production and unemployment, is just sickening.  One of the biggest problems we face is an over-efficiency that directly sucks all wealth into the hands of the wealthiest owners without scattering any crumbs to the masses, and an over-productivity that is destroying the Earth to produce goods we can't convince anyone to buy.

by Zwackus on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 06:45:09 PM EST
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it makes me want to see two movies side by side with the respective workers. is it the cold slowing the russians down?

is it a hangover from commie days?

'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 Tue May 12th, 2009 at 05:03:18 AM EST
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Barack Obama unveils $2 trillion healthcare cuts - Telegraph
President Barack Obama on Monday outlined plans to cut health care costs by $2 trillion (£1.3 trillion) in the United States over the next decade, in a bid to slash spending while making treatment more affordable.

Mr Obama was joined at the White House by 15 representatives of the medical industry who have promised to do their part in reducing America's crippling health bills.

Signatories to the deal include groups whose lobbying was instrumental in killing Hillary Clinton's health care reform plan in 1993 when she was first lady.

by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 02:32:32 PM EST
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I guess I'm the only one who isn't worried, encouraged or impressed by any of it.  Okay, so they save $2tn over a decade vs the projections.  Projections which are horrifying.  So it's basically the players saying, "Okay, we'll use a little KY while we rape you."

It isn't enforceable anyway without the public option, so far as I can tell.

And I don't understand why the insurance companies only have to give up the same percentage as the doctors and hospitals.  The doctors and hospitals routinely get fucked by the insurers.  That's why the AMA switched sides!

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 06:16:59 PM EST
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