Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:54:48 AM EST
France24: GM to close Belgian Opel plant amid massive job cuts in Europe

AFP- German car company Opel will close its plant in Antwerp, Belgium this year, GM Europe announced on Thursday.

"We must make this announcement now so that we can secure a viable future for the entire Opel and Vauxhall operations," GM Europe President Nick Reilly said in a statement.

The Opel site, which will close "in the course of 2010," employs 2,600 workers, the statement said.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 12:28:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Germany chided for limit on Poles

The EU's highest court has told Germany to ease a restriction on Polish workers, calling it "discriminatory".

The EU's Court of Justice objects to a rule which says that only German firms or foreign firms with a branch in Germany can hire Polish workers.

The case against Germany was brought by Poland and the European Commission.

The court however upheld Germany's right to maintain limits on the number of hired workers from ex-communist states. The limits run until May 2011.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 12:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having already absorbed an entire "former communist state" would seem to be an acceptable reason to allow them to control immigration a little bit tighter for a temporary period.
by paving on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 11:37:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Rwanda genocide suspect arrested in France

French police say they have arrested a Rwandan doctor who is wanted in his homeland on charges of genocide and war crimes.

Sosthene Munyemana was detained by police on Wednesday in Bordeaux, in the southwest of France, under an extradition warrant issued by Rwanda.

The 45-year-old, who had been working in a hospital emergency ward in the region for eight years, had been on an Interpol list of wanted men since 2002.

Munyemana denies taking part in the 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people died in the space of around three months.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 12:47:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Smooth sailing for vetted EU Commission nominees

The European Parliament is poised to accept the new European Commission, following the resolution of a dispute involving the Bulgarian nominee.

Rumiana Jeleva withdrew her candidacy for the post of EU commissioner for humanitarian aid after fellow politicians accused her of  incompetence and dubious business practices. Bulgaria has named World Bank official Kristalina Georgieva to replace her.

The parliament cannot veto an individual commissioner-designate, but can threaten to block the team as a whole if it has doubts about one or more nominees.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 01:10:23 PM EST
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Independent: New justice bill may halt Berlusconi trials

Italy's parliament gave its first nod yesterday to a draft law drastically cutting the duration of trials, a measure critics say is tailor-made to stop pending court cases against Silvio Berlusconi.

The Senate, where the Prime Minister has an ample majority, approved the so-called "short trial" draft bill - one of the most radical reforms of Italy's snail-paced justice system since the end of the Second World War - by 163 to 130 votes. It will now go before the lower house, where it is all but certain to get the green light.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 01:13:04 PM EST
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The article in no way conveys the gravity of the situation created by this bill. It is a classical case of "straight reporting," which ultimately misrepresents events in a misguided attempt to be "neutral."

The law is being passed to cancel berlusconi's pending trials, totally. Otherwise, it would not be retroactive. Mills will consequently beat the rap. Ironically, another case of "subsequent corruption," for by passing this law berlusconi gives Mills yet another gift for his false testimony. (I'm aware that after the first two stages of judgement, which are the proper core trial, we're still supposed to use the term "alleged" according to Italian law. The final stage is a meta-judgement on the conduct of the trial. One recalls that 110 mafia bosses were liberated by a final stage ruling because a stamp had not been properly cancelled on one of the prosecution's documents.)

In the meantime, over 100,000 criminal cases will also be killed, much to the pleasure of the innumerable victims. "Critics" consider the bill to be the death knoll for justice in Italy.

The Independent straight-facedly asserts that it is "one of the most radical reforms of Italy's snail-paced justice system." This is a deplorable use of the term "reform" for it is nothing more than a radical amnesty for all crime that was not previously condoned by Prodi's plenary indulgence law. Real reform would consist in eliminating all of berlusconi's and the Left's previous legislation expressly designed to draw out trials until statutory limits kill a trial. Real reform would consist in giving the judiciary branch manpower and resources to modernize rather than promulgate decrees and laws that drastically cut manpower and resources. Since berlusconi has taken power two years ago, the Procura of Palermo has had its investigators cut by a quarter. There are entire procuras, especially in Calabria, where there is simply no investigative power or judiciary power left on the ground to handle crime of any sort.  A few weeks ago an antiquated cop car used to protect a judge broke down while escorting the judge and the agents had to get out and push the car.

If that is not enough, the government has decreed that judges can be transferred without reason to other procuras to cover vacancies, a thinly veiled ploy to get rid of any judge making a highly sensitive investigation: transfer him.

As the so-called "Senate" voted this execrable law, berlusconi saw fit once again to attack the Milan Procura, asserting that the judges there are "a firing squad," arms pointed against him.

There is only one grave judiciary problem in Italy. It is berlusconi.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUObserver: Piracy killing non-anglo music, says record industry

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The record industry has for the first time played the nationalism card in its efforts to battle online piracy.

Hoping to up the pressure on governments to introduce harsh French-style anti-piracy laws - which include imposing fines, cutting off internet access and even jailing - offenders, the record industry has warned that illegal downloading and streaming is killing off non-anglophone music in countries such as Spain, France and Brazil, which until now had vibrant music scenes.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 01:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anecdotal - I've been gone from the Netherlands for some 2 years, and in the Netherlands I've the impression it's the exact opposite - with young and upcoming groups merrily embracing the new tools available. I can't recall I've ever seen so many talents appearing the past year. This goes for groups predominantly performing in Dutch and for those preferring English.

But I don't have hard numbers.

In the meantime, this is no. 3 in the charts :)

Good morning!

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:48:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right.  Encouraging music by allowing it to be performed, enjoyed and celebrated by the public is how you nurture local musicians.  People always love the music that comes from their home territory.

Shutting down bars, ticketing people for being outside and enjoying music, etc, are a bigger problem for music worldwide.

by paving on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 11:39:37 PM EST
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EU Observer: EU commission 'embassies' granted new powers

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The EU has converted 54 out of the European Commission's 136 foreign delegations into embassy-type missions authorised to speak for the entire union.

The move follows the coming into force last year of the Lisbon Treaty, which has the creation of a new EU diplomatic corps as one of its main provisions.

    * Print
    * Comment article

All 136 commission delegations were renamed "EU delegations" on 1 January. But only the 54 placements were at the same time quietly given fresh powers in line with their new names.

The super-delegations have taken on the role previously carried out by the national embassies of the member state holding the six-month EU presidency at any given time.

As such, they now co-ordinate the work of the member states' bilateral missions to the countries in question. The heads of the 54 delegations are also empowered to speak on behalf of the EU as a whole. But their statements have to be pre-approved by the 27 EU countries during meetings in Brussels.

by Sassafras on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 02:22:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland to Deploy U.S. Missiles Near Russia - NYTimes.com

BERLIN -- Three months after the United States announced a reformulated missile-defense plan for Poland, the Polish defense minister has announced that American surface-to-air missiles will be deployed near Russian soil.

The minister, Bogdan Klich, said Wednesday that an undisclosed number of missiles would be deployed in the vicinity of Morag, in northern Poland, just 35 miles from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. He said the missiles could arrive as soon as late March or early April.

He said the decision to base the missiles near Morag, and not Warsaw, had no political or strategic significance. "The only reason was the good infrastructure," Mr. Klich said.

by Fran on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:21:18 PM EST
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EUobserver / MEPs call for delay on US bank data deal

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek is planning to send a letter to the Council of Ministers, the EU institution representing member states, calling for a suspension of a recent agreement that was to enable the continued transfer of EU citizens' banking data to US investigators.

The US screens certain data held by Swift as part of its fight against terrorism

The decision to call for a delay to the interim deal, scheduled to enter into force on 1 February, was made by leaders of the parliament's different political groups during a meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday (21 January).

MEPs were infuriated when the Council agreed the interim deal with the US on 30 November last year, just a day before the EU's new rulebook, the Lisbon Treaty, came into force, which handed the euro-deputies a greater say over data protection issues.

The controversial deal was negotiated to help the US out of a legal hole, following the relocation of the US database of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) to the Netherlands on 1 January.

by Fran on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:23:44 PM EST
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Europe vs the US: seven reflections

It's been a year since Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the United States on 20 January. But despite his inspiring speeches, he is no Franklin Roosevelt, and even if he were, he needs 60 out of 100 votes in the US Senate to pass anything. Since the end of world war two, a power has emerged with the real potential to carry the world forward


by steven hill

When I first began travelling to Europe for research in the late nineties, I was trying to understand differences between the political systems and democratic institutions of the United States and Europe. I interviewed politicians, leaders, journalists, bureaucrats, political party leaders, union officials and business leaders. I had conversations with shop vendors, business owners, CEOs, taxi drivers, young people, people on buses, in elevators, restaurants, and cafés, in their homes and in the street, sometimes whether they wanted to talk or not. It was not only the political systems in Europe that were quite different. Europe's institutions had been slowly taking shape during the cold war years. It was a fertile incubation period thanks to the Pax Americana which allowed each nation to take slow steps down its own development path. Europe's brand of `social capitalism' proposes a bold new path for human development, its leadership manifesting in the following ways:

by Fran on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU ministers postpone US request for body scanners | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.01.2010
EU justice ministers have put off a request by the US to install full-body scanners at airports across Europe. Studies must first confirm that the devices are safe and don't invade privacy, the ministers say. 

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the European Commission was currently conducting such studies.

"Once we have these studies on the table we will make a decision," he told Janet Napolitano, US Homeland Security Secretary, at a press conference following Thursday's talks in Toledo, Spain.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said  Berlin could reach a decision about installing full-body scanners at German airports by the middle of this year.

by Fran on Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 05:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog

Usefulness - The current international line between Turin and Modane is used at 30% of its actual capacity and the motorway is used at less than 50% capacity.
Traffic forecast - Up until now the traffic forecasts made by the project workers have turned out to be erroneous. They are based on the concept of infinite growth that says that for every extra point of GDP, there'll be a growth in traffic of 1.4 points. According to the estimates, the current line should be saturated already by this year. This has not happened. Growth still does not exist and goods transport decreases constantly and consequently the need for transport.
According to LTF {Lyon Turin Ferroviaire} the future line would find stability on its balance sheet with 40 million tons of transported goods a year. The current line can transport at least 20 million. Today 4.8 million are carried. Even by transferring all the goods currently transported on the motorways to the railways that would get to the utilization of the current railway of about 50% of its capacity.

Costs - Mauro Moretti , the CEO of Trenitalia has declared that the estimated cost of the line is 120 million per kilometre, that's 3 or 4 times more in relation to the average costs in France (see the article in "Il Sole 24 ore" on 13 January 2010). Furthermore, the estimated costs generally increase 2 to 3 times by the end of the work. Italy has also signed up to an economic agreement by which 65% of the international part would be charged to our country.

'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 Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 08:07:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the current line should be saturated already by this year. This has not happened. Growth still does not exist

We are in a recession, which hit the kind of transports in which rail has the highest share the hardest... The growth estimates fit growth in the time before on other transalpine routes. And it's not just GDP growth (the assumed infinite continuation of which is rightly challenged): note that traffic grew/shall grow further on the long term because of increased cross-border flows in the EU's common market (which is still relatively young and growing together).

The current line can transport at least 20 million. Today 4.8 million are carried.

Beyond the recession, that has something to do with a lack of policy to force traffic on the rails, e.g. the special transit or highway fees imposed on truckers in Switzerland. Another factor is that the current mountain line is slow. Yet another factor is that the line also carries passenger traffic, for which its slowness is even more critical.

Mauro Moretti , the CEO of Trenitalia has declared that the estimated cost of the line is 120 million per kilometre, that's 3 or 4 times more in relation to the average costs in France

I have no clue what average costs Moretti or the journo are refering to. There aren't any other new rail lines with large tunnels in France to make an average of. If he refers to high-speed lines, France's average is even lower (more like a sixth), but that wouldn't be a fair comparison.

In addition, it's not clear whether €120 million per kilometre is for the entire line, or just the 52 km main tunnel. If the latter, we can take a fair comparison: the Gotthard Base Tunnel, 57 km for CHF 9.645 billion = €6.55 billion, that's €115 million per kilometre. If the entire line, even considering that a good portion of the Turin-base tunnel section is in tunnels, €120 million per kilometre is too high (those tunnels are shorter and geologically less challenging).

:: :: :: :: ::

As a general comment on this anti-TAV movement, which goes on there for almost a decade now. From the distance and across the language barrier, I'm not sure what is at its origin. It appears to have emerged locally and as a genuine civic movement, not a truckers' self-defense movement like in Greece or some astroturfing. (Then again, the truckers angle should still be discused: Italy has many trucking companies which form a strong lobby; in the battle Austria lost for limiting truck traffic volumes across the Brenner pass, the EU Commission defended their interests.)

But a line hiding mostly in tunnels, and with a potential to reduce noisy truck traffic on the parallel highway, shouldn't be seen negatively in itself -- indeed I haven't heard anything similar for the Unterinntalbahn doubling near Innsbruck in Austria (which is similar to the protested Turin to base tunnel section). But, for locals, there is also: construction taffic, as well as geotechnical mistakes during construction leading to subsistence or loss of water table. TAV has a history of such mistakes, so maybe the original issues were something like this? Or, was the fear of noise from the non-tunnel sections first?

At any rate, they way I see it, this is now a grown and politicised 'issue', in which people (including Beppe Grillo) argue from within frames that were developed and hardened for years. E.g. every news about the line is interpreted in the context of another senseless megalomaniac construction project, and there is no serious look beyond Italy or a serious consideration of how to shift cargo from road to rail.

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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 08:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, Dodo, you're amazing. that certainly adds perspective. would you mind if i quoted you?

'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 Jan 23rd, 2010 at 09:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but again, I said all this based on scant information, without knowing the positions of No TAV in-depth :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 04:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever It Is, I'm Against It
Mircea Geoana, who lost the Romanian presidential election in December, getting 49.66% of the vote, blames witchcraft, specifically a "negative energy attack" during a debate that caused him to perform badly. And in fact, President Traian Basescu did go to that debate with a parapsychologist slash clairvoyant slash mind-control expert.

between him and alistair campbell, hmmm. i dunno.

'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 Jan 23rd, 2010 at 09:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oops heres the pic

'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 Jan 23rd, 2010 at 09:28:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
funny it's not coming through, twice, surely some negative energy.


'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 Jan 23rd, 2010 at 09:29:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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