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European Breakfast - Jan. 12

by Fran Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:18:21 AM EST

Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

William Faulkner


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Independent: Global warming: Today's news of the world - Climate change is killing off amphibians

Global warming has triggered the decline of hundreds of species of frogs and toads by helping a deadly skin infection to spread across the world.

Scientists believe they have found the first clear proof that global warming has caused outbreaks of an infectious disease that is wiping out entire populations of amphibians.

The dramatic decline of the 6,000 species of amphibians was first identified in 1990 and one theory for the loss was the spread of a devastating skin infection caused by a fungus.

A study by an international team of researchers has now linked the spread of a species of chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis with a rise in tropical temperatures associated with global warming. The scientists believe the average temperatures of many tropical highland regions, which are rich in endemic species of frogs and toads, have shifted to become perfect for the growth of the fungus.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:22:53 AM EST
Independent: 'Polluters' Summit: 'Industry will solve problem of global warming'

The US, China and four of the other largest-polluting countries yesterday opened a "counter-Kyoto" conference by declaring that voluntarily adopted technological advances could solve the problem of climate change. After the first day of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, the US Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman, said that even without financial incentives, coal, gas and energy companies were capable of reducing harmful emissions.

"The people who run these companies - they do have children, they do have grandchildren; they do live and breathe in the world," Mr Bodman said at the meeting in Sydney.

But his assertions were challenged by environmentalists, who see the gathering as merely a fig leaf and a gimmick. The main purpose, the green lobby claims, is to divert attention from the refusal of the US and Australia to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol.

"The conference will fail unless it puts into place regulations and strong financial incentives for the industry to spend billions and billions of dollars on clean energy today," the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:24:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Alternative Climate Alliance Meets in Sydney

This week, Australia is hosting the first climate-change conference for a new Asia-Pacific environmental alliance that includes the US, China and India. Critics are warning of an end-run around the Kyoto accords.

For years now, the US has been criticized by the environmental community for its refusal to sign the Kyoto Agreement, which calls for certain countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

US President George W. Bush only recently admitted a connection between greenhouse gases and global warming, and has said Washington needs to set goals to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

Along with the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea, both of the world's most populous countries -- China and India, with their burgeoning economies -- are taking part as well. Together, these six countries are responsible for nearly 50 percent of the world's greenhouse gas production.

Focus on storage technologies

One of the focal points of the group's first conference will be the development of climate-protection technologies. In September, the US developed a strategic plan as part of its four-year-old Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP).


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:26:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Private sector will defeat climate change, US tells anti-Kyoto summit

Environmentalists, however, dismissed the conference as a political stunt and warned that no technological quick fix could resolve the problem of climate change.

Speaking before the opening session in Sydney, Samuel Bodman, the US energy secretary, said it was better for industry to devise more efficient technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rather than impose binding targets that hamper economic development.

"I believe that the people who run the private sector, who run these companies, they do have children, they do have grandchildren, they do live and breathe in the world," Mr Bodman declared.

"Those of us in government believe it is the job of government to create an environment such that the private sector can really do its work. It's really going to be the private sector, the companies ... that are ultimately going to be the solvers of this problem."

The six participating states - who account for 45% of the world's population and nearly half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions - are expected to announce a series of measures aimed at developing cleaner technologies.

Among schemes under discussion will be "geosequestration", a process for capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground, and "clean coal", a technology for treating fossil fuel so that it releases fewer harmful gases.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Food and the environment: Welcome to the wheatgerm empire

What started as a vegetarian co-operative in Texas is now America's biggest natural food supermarket chain. And it has its sights set on Britain.

The trick is to try to keep your eyes down. As you enter a Whole Foods store, take a tip from Odysseus and his crew, who plugged their ears with wax as they sailed past the Sirens, and do your best to block off the sensual delights that suddenly surround you.

Everywhere you look, every breath you inhale, will result in sensory overload. The fruit and vegetable section of a Whole Foods store - always located at the entrance - is like no other. The perfect-looking produce is immaculately presented, gleaming under bright lights. Much, if not most of it, is organic. There are splendid yellow Bartlett pears from Chile, orange and green mangoes from elsewhere in South America and large, luscious limes from California. It's food as art; fruit and vegetables as pornography.

Of course, none of this splendour comes cheap. All too often, a quick trip to buy a loaf of bread can leave you $30 or $40 worse off after you fall temptation to just one or two of all those splendid things you had promised yourself you would ignore.

Indeed, since its inception 26 years ago, Whole Foods - which owns Fresh and Wild, a similar but smaller chain of upmarket natural grocers in Britain, where it is set to open its first store under its own name next year - has done very nicely indeed selling wholesome, healthy products to wholesome, wealthy people. Today, with around 180 stores, it is the biggest natural food supermarket in the US. Last year, sales topped $3.9bn.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:47:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whole Foods is also at the forefront of an emerging economic paradigm, increasingly refered to as "people-centered" economic development.  See Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business -- A Reason debate featuring Milton Friedman, Whole Foods' John Mackey, and Cypress Semiconductor's T.J. Rodgers.

I agree with Mackey, am sympathetic to Friedman's orthodoxy, and share Mackey's opinion of Rodger's attempt in the debate.  Nevertheless -- or in any case -- what Whole Foods' Mackey is onto reflects the next significant stage and development in (orthodox) capitalism: people-centered economic development, wherein traditional capitalism is reduced one step further, to people, past bottom-line numbers reflecting profit in cash/monetary terms alone.

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The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been to Whole Foods before in the States and it IS a nice store.

What's odd for me however is the "perfect fruits and vegetables" concept.  Ordinary fruit and vegetables from your home garden are never perfect... in fact I find row after row of unblemished perfect-sized produce kind of scary.

Pax

Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:17:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I liked shopping at Whole Foods as an experience, but was also amazed about the uniformitiy and shininess of the fruits.

This article made me aware that lately the fruits I buy are not the same size anymore, maybe because the supermarket here is offering more and more from local farmers. And to my delight, not to long ago, I found a live caterpiller in my cauliflower and this was not an organic one - I mean the cauliflower.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:24:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree -- it's freakish.  That said, after various disasters involving worms, molds, and mildew, I've never been so happy to see perfect, even if tasteless, tomatoes.  In fact, after that last thing with the (shudder) black fuzz, I was suddenly all "maybe Monsanto isn't totally evil..."

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Repeat after me: Black fuzz is an illusion, Monsanto is totally evil...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:37:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You always know the right thing to say!  I don't know what came over me.  I feel so much better.  You're right -- what was I thinking?!?  Monsanto isn't just evil, they're eeeeevil.  Thanks, afew.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:53:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we affectionately call it "whole paycheck"!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 05:34:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What we need most is to consume, as far as possible, local produce. Putting together a showcase of visually stunning fruit and veg, at the cost of shipping (probably flying for a good part) a lot of the items from all around the world is environmentally crazy.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should not forbid it, but we should simply price it properly. The cost of transport should be made more explicit.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:09:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What we need most is to consume, as far as possible, local produce.

Amen, amen, amen. I think I have lauded you before for stating this viewpoint, but I couldn't possibly agree more.

Here's a question, though: here in the Netherlands you can purchase Holland tomatoes and cucumbers. But they're crap; they've been grown in greenhouses in the Westland and contain far too much water and have received far too less sunlight. (This is a reason why they get transported to neighbouring countries.)

  1. Do you consider this local produce?
  2. If it is local produce, why should we accept inferior quality when a truck from Italy can bring us better quality vegetables? I personally don't want to eat Westland products, for the same reason why I don't visit McDonalds.

Trouble is that Westland products are always cheaper and there will always be a market for them.

Keypoint I want to address: where do you draw the line to de-stimulate shipping/flying of products?

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 07:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trouble is that Westland products are always cheaper and there will always be a market for them.

Keypoint I want to address: where do you draw the line to de-stimulate shipping/flying of products?

In your case, local produce is already cheaper, so there is no need to discourage shipping of higher quality produce.

The problem is when it is cheaper to ship equivalent produce across lond distances than to consume local produce.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 07:53:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I've already lost you, but I'll try...

In the Westland case, the products get released on British markets (pick up a cucumber at Tesco's or Sainsbury's and you'll have a good chance to find Holland's glory). Now, the UK is of course not that far from Westland, but I just use it as example. Geographically, the UK is in potential perfectly capable to create vegetables grown in greenhouses, that also taste like water like Westland cucumbers. So instead of importing cheap, watery cucumbers the country needs to create its own locally produced Westland equivalent?

The horror, the horror...

Other example, then. Kiwi is not a Dutch local product, but we can get them from Spain, for instance. Only, those from Spain are, again, inferior in quality. I want my kiwi from Kiwi Country. Is the Spanish kiwi cheaper because of more cheaper mass production or because of the shorter transport route?

Mind that I keep organic, small-scale farming out of this discussion right now, which is what DoDo tackled.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:04:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK also imports tasty tomatoes-on-the-vine from Spain and other countries. It's a consumer choice. If and when transportation costs soar, the UK might start producing more watery tomatoes.

You yourself say that Spanish kiwi are of inferior quality. I have no problem with them being cheaper on that account, especially since they also qualify as "more local" produce than NZ kiwi. You pay two premiums for grade-A kiwi from kiwi country, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, I don't see any problem with crappy local produce other than it's crappy. Maybe local producers should shift to crops that are actually tasty when grown locally, except that there is demand for grade B and grade C produce. I have pointed out on a different occasion that the demand for organic produce might be inelastic: it's the people who either can afford the premium or were already paying a premium for higher quality produce that switch.

Is your problem that when peak oil hits you won't be able to enjoy affordable tasty produce shipped in from the antipodes and the decreasing quality of your kiwi will result in decreasing quality of life?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, good.
Maybe local producers should shift to crops that are actually tasty when grown locally, except that there is demand for grade B and grade C produce.

Agree here, which is why I stated earlier that Westland will always have a market.

I have pointed out on a different occasion that the demand for organic produce might be inelastic: it's the people who either can afford the premium or were already paying a premium for higher quality produce that switch.

It might be, but we don't know yet... Since the mass produced Italian tomatoes still compete price wise by locally produced organic ones. Will the consumer who can afford buying higher quality produce switch to locally produced goods if quality is the same, but the price is slightly lower or comparable? Is that your dilemma rephrased?

Is your problem that when peak oil hits you won't be able to enjoy affordable tasty produce shipped in from the antipodes and the decreasing quality of your kiwi will result in decreasing quality of life?

If it would be my problem, I'd move over to live in New Zealand.

But taken less literally, yes, I would consider a decreasing quality of kiwi as gauge of a decreasing quality of life. (And I'm sure I'm not alone in this, otherwise the Dutch East India Company wouldn't have been a success either.) I would certainly regret that. Don't aspire for the marginal, is what I tend to say. If that makes me a snobby bourgeoisie, I'll accept that lot.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:09:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How can kiwi so central so your lifestyle?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:12:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
kiwi so central so your
kiwi be so central to your

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:15:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the first place, how do you pluck a Kiwi (click, I mean it!)?

But seriously...

Kiwi is a rich source of vitamin C. Its potassium content by weight is slightly less than that of a banana. It also contains vitamins A and E, calcium, iron and folic acid. The skin is a good source of flavonoid antioxidants.

Forget those bloody "an apple today keeps the doctor in Afghanistan". Kiwi! All the way, all the day!

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you meant kiwifruit.

Now, how bad are Spanish kiwis in terms of nutritional value?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:49:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh! That was deliberate. So tell me, how do you pluck a kiwi?

And hey, you know the saying: a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. I never tested the nutritional value of Spanish kiwis, but I don't care if my taste buds are better off with New Zealand ones.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:54:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just season your Spanish kiwifruit with MSG for flavour enhancement :-P

Now, why can't we get quality kiwifruit from China, where it originated?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:56:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't go wrong with a scientific name like actinida deliciosa. Makes my mouth water already!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:51:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, kiwi is native to China, so I suppose your willingnes to move to NZ is just evicence of their agribusiness marketing success.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:53:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...they make superior tasting kiwis in New Zealand? Or the Chinese just used kiwis for decoration and never explored the exquisite taste?

You know, Columbus was perhaps the first European to discover cacao but dismissed it because it seemed a vile brew to him. It was Cortez who brought it to Europe and started its success.

I need to lay off...

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chocolate became successful in Europe when some nuns decided to mix it with sugar.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 05:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that a decrease in Western quality of life is unavoidable in the medium term, by any measure (including, I suppose, the kiwi index).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:14:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...it'll just be harder to find and be more expensive. So, an overall decrease, perhaps. I've been saying for a time now that it wouldn't be surprising that a new elite life style lies ahead in the future, those who can still afford airplane transport and an excessive life-style.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:35:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheap air fares are positively criminal. We need to wean ourselves of them ASAP.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:37:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this problem is not unsolvable: Netherlands farmers could adopt different strains and different growing methods. Only that needs some research (I mean looking up, not laboratory work).

There is one organic farmer in the Alps (I forgot whether he is Swiss or Austrian) who experimented with a lot of plants, growing them in the colder-climate high altitudes. He managed to grow some Mediterranean fruits by using simple measures like surrounding the plant with a lopsided sandy mound, which concentrated both heat and light.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 07:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And to me that seems to open a whole new can of worms... Yes, it would work. In fact, I know it works, since I grow my own tomatoes and cucumbers organically in a small greenhouse every year (which are decively superior to anything the Westland throws at me).

So now the locally produced organic tomatoes will want to compete with mass produced tomatoes from Italy, which are in quality equal to each other. Italian mass productions wins because the production costs + transport costs of the Italian tomatoes are lower than those of the locally produced tomatoes. If I'm getting the drift here, the difference in production costs should be counterbalanced by transport costs. Say, by an international mileage fee?

Italian farmers will be hopping spitless...

This problem will correct itself if there's no alternative energy source, but nevertheless I'd do it the sooner the better than sit out the oil era...

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:15:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do the italians have mass-produced organic tomatoes?

The mileage fee should take into account the environmental impact of transportation, not "counterbalance the difference in production costs". You could also tax fuel use as "nonrenewable capital depletion".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:28:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My example was a small-scale organic farmer, but my point isn't necessarily restricted to small-scale organic farming. What I meant is that there are many ways to follow and many tricks to use when growing plants, and today's industrial farmers aren't just wasteful but also of limited agricultural knowledge and - in a way - lazy. That is, I think better tomatoes could be grown even without a sweeping change to organic farming.

Incidentally, I just recalled a ninterview with a Dutch proponent of advanced industrial farming (I read it two-four years ago in DER SPIEGEL) who said just about tomatoes that his farms already switched to producing better-tasting tomatoes. (I am not sure anymore, but possibly this was the guy who proposed those 'farm-factories' - hundred-meter-wide, ten-story high concrete buildings with all kinds of produce plus cattle at various levels.)

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another thing that is involved here is the commercial interest in providing off-season produce. The Netherlands (decades ago) became the main supplier to Northern Europe of greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers because the growing season in N.E. is short (where it exists), yet there's constant demand for these products.

My feeling is:

  • we can perfectly well avoid most off-season consumption;

  • we need to develop better-quality products as far as possible (there are excellent short-season varieties of tomato, for example, either new hybrids or heirloom varieties particularly of "Siberian" origin).

It would be good if the Netherlands put some PAC money into better-quality (organic if possible) production. It's understandable, though, that the further north you are, the less choice of produce you would have. Obviously some transport is necessary.

The ideal would be: consume locally as far as you can (and support programmes that increase and improve local production); next, buy regional/continental; avoid stuff that crosses the planet, particularly by plane.

We should be aiming at self-sufficiency in quality foodstuffs for all, including poorer nations, not at switching food around over long distances to make money for shippers and agri-business, at the expense of the environment.

(At least, that's my two kilos of tomatoes...)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we can perfectly well avoid most off-season consumption;

We can. Just not all of it. Please. Sometimes I need fresh tomatoes and aubergines in the depths of winter.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:52:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But they'll be expensive.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:55:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, and I said so further down: the further north you are, the less choice you have, and some transport is necessary.

Mind you, how good are your winter aubergines and tomatoes?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Canned, whole peeled tomatoes in their own juice are not bad at all.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just saw a lot of new comments posted...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:53:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought food self-sufficiency was the original goal of the PAC, which then became obsolete due to overproduction, and os now deprecated...

There are few ways for governments to influence an economic sector (say, food production) that are blunter or more counter-producing than subsidies. We should keep the PAC with maybe a different set of goals, but please, no subsidies.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 09:54:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Self-sufficiency: why is it deprecated because it was once a goal that got outgrown? Anyway, my point was that poorer nations need self-sufficiency more than they need to export food (while many of the population still don't get enough to eat).

Subsidies: depends what you mean. I don't mean a subsidy per kilo of tomatoes. I do mean PAC-funded programmes to invest in changes in the way we produce and market food.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:11:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean direct payments, buying below market price, export subsidies, etc...

Part of my point is that the way the PAC was designed and the inertia of the subsidies made the "mountains of butter" inevitable. I do think that food production is strategic and that countries should be self-sufficient. They can always trade back and forth for variety or quality.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:19:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I favour many of your points. More better-quality products (pref. organic) locally made, and more regionally produced luxury items. Aye, aye. My kiwi example above goes there as well. As long as I can have good quality kiwis, I'll be happy. Why can't Maroccan farmers harvest equally good kiwis and ship them to Rotterdam?

In respect to off-season products, I fear personally you'll be disappointed... I don't think it'll work and Colman is proving the point! I'm constantly amazed that when my girlfriend buys green beans in January and then mutters how expensive they are. I follow my wallet, as well, but being raised with a vegetable garden I'm in moral conflict with myself to purchase a courgette in winter. And my moral generally wins from my taste buds. But I really feel I'm the exception to the rule here. Simply put, people no longer follow the seasons food-wise as they historically did.

The self-sufficiency is a subject that is touched more often and often on my mind. It is hugely important, and vastly complex to me. What is self-sufficient in one country, are luxury products for others.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the basis of which crops can the Netherlands be efficiently self-sufficient? I'm talking quality and nutritional value.

Will there be comparative advantage in trading Spanish tomatoes-on-vine for Dutch apples?

Stuff like that.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:34:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I might add that I'm perfectly happy to pay big money for my occasional out of season tomatoes or courgettes. The problem isn't occasional luxuries - those we can manage and always have. It's the moving around of the bulk of food that isn't sustainable.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:39:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why my head is always twisting in this subject. Italian courgette and tomatoes are no luxury products in the Netherlands in summer but they are in winter. It's geography, seasonality, self-sustainability and more of these -ity's in one bag that makes me want to focus on rocks. Clean, simple rocks that behave mysteriously and complex in their own ways. And when I want to relax, I go water my tomatoes, have a kiwi and don't bother with their complexities. Vegetables are my relaxation, not my source of income.

Right. I think I've seen enough discussion for now. Thanks all.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 10:50:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've lived near three whole foods stores over the last 5 years, and they have all been terrific.  Great food, always fresh, well presented--but I haven't seen the conformity to the degree mentioned up above.  The employees are incredibly helpful, & happy.  It is expensive, no doubt, but that may have something to do with paying employees more, and having them happy.

I haven't seen the level of problem with imported foods in the California store.  but have found other whole foods to have a fair amount, but doesn't seem to be any higher than the grocery stores they compete with in their area.

by wchurchill on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 05:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
CBS: New Ocean Forming In Africa

(AP) Ethiopian, American and European researchers have observed a fissure in a desert in the remote northeast that could be the "birth of a new ocean basin," scientists said.

Researchers from Britain, France, Italy and the United States have been observing the 37-mile long fissure since it split open in September in the Afar desert and estimate it will take a million years to fully form into an ocean, said Dereje Ayalew, who leads the team of 18 scientists studying the phenomenon.

The fissure, now 13 feet wide, formed in just three weeks after a Sept. 14 earthquake in a barren region called Boina, some 621 miles north east of the capital, Addis Ababa, said Dereje on Friday.

"We believe we have seen the birth of a new ocean basin," said Dereje of Addis Ababa University. "This is unprecedented in scientific history because we usually see the split after it has happened. But here we are watching the phenomenon."

The findings have been presented at a weeklong American Geophysical Union meeting taking place in San Francisco that ends Friday.

"It's amazing," the BBC quoted one of the Afar researchers, Cindy Ebinger of the Royal Holloway University of London, as saying in San Francisco. "It's the first large event we've seen like this in a rift zone since the advent of some of the space-based techniques we're now using, and which give us a resolution and a detail to see what's really going on and how the earth processes work.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So where is that rift again...maybe I can get in early on some cheap beachfront property.
by gradinski chai on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:38:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For someone who's a geology geek, of course.

I hadn't heard yet about it, I'll be looking into this some more... Thanks Fran!

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 07:50:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Dockers strike over cargo handling plans

Some of Europe's leading ports suffered serious disruption on Wednesday as thousands of dock workers went on strike to protest at plans to liberalise port services.

The co-ordinated strike action, which particularly affected Germany's biggest ports, set the scene for a tense vote next week in the European parliament about whether to allow more competition in cargo handling and piloting services in European ports.

The legislation, which was first proposed by the European Commission in February 2001, has been the subject of a heated battle between trade unions representing dock workers, which have argued that liberalisation would trigger massive job cuts and operators looking to reduce cargo handling charges.

In November 2003, dock workers won a victory when the European parliament rejected plans to allow outside operators to handle cargo in European ports. But the Commission has since returned with an amended version of the legislation, arguing for a more transparent and competitive environment in a sector that has been largely sheltered from reform and has continued to benefit from high levels of aid for state-owned ports.

Dock workers are hoping for another legislative veto by members of the European parliament next week, but the vote is expected to be very tight. Two months ago, when the legislation was reviewed by its members (MEPs) at committee level, the outcome was a 24-23 voting split. MEPs had until Wednesday night to table final amendments for next week's vote in Strasbourg.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:29:35 AM EST
Guardian: More prudence, European commissioner tells Gordon Brown as UK breaches deficit

· Brussels tells Britain to cut spending or increase taxes
· Treasury claims budget is below ceiling in EU pact

The chancellor, Gordon Brown, came under renewed pressure yesterday to raise taxes or cut government spending in his spring budget after the European commission gave him a year to bring Britain's public borrowing under control.

Mr Brown, who is normally prone to lecturing his fellow EU finance ministers on their sorry performance, faces the embarrassment of seeing the tables turned when they meet on January 24 to endorse a reprimand by the commission yesterday that Britain's budget deficit is excessive.

But the Treasury signalled that the chancellor would defy Brussels and insist that the deficit was already under control and set to fall below the 3% ceiling, imposed by the EU's stability and growth pact, in the fiscal year starting in April.
"This year we expect to have a treaty deficit of 3%, falling to 2.7% next year, and down to 1.5% by 2010," said a Treasury spokesman. "The government's projections are therefore fully consistent with a prudent interpretation of the stability and growth pact."

"The UK continues to have the lowest average debts and deficits of any other major European economy ... We make no apologies for investing in vital public services," he added.

Even so, Mr Brown saw his stewardship of the economy lumped with that of France, Germany and Italy - serial sinners against the guidelines - when Joaquín Almunia, economic and monetary affairs commissioner, said Britain would breach the deficit limit for four successive years.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:13:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: EU parliament to launch CIA probe: lawmaker

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Political leaders of the European Parliament will give the green light on Thursday for an investigation into allegations that the CIA operated prisons in the European Union, one leader told Reuters.

Leaders of the Parliament's seven political groups and President Josep Borrell will meet on Thursday to finalize details of the investigation, said Brian Crowley, Irish MEP and leader of the Union for Europe of Nations (UEN) Group.

"We will set the terms of reference for a committee of inquiry and the practical parameters of the investigation," Crowley said in an interview.

He said the inquiry would start immediately after it was formally ratified by the parliament next week and it would be expected to report back within 12 weeks at the latest. The committee would have no legal powers.

"What we hope to do is gather enough evidence which will be the catalyst for real action on the issue on an international level," Crowley said.

The European Parliament inquiry is to work in tandem with an investigation by the Council of Europe, the 46-nation human rights watchdog, in to whether EU countries allowed themselves to be used for the illegal transport and detention of prisoners.

European lawmakers have accused leaders of the 25-country bloc of failing to press the United States hard enough on media reports that the CIA was running secret jails in Eastern Europe and covertly flying prisoners through EU airports.

The controversy eased in December after several EU countries declared themselves satisfied with assurances by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice while on a trip to Europe that U.S. treatment of detainees was within international law.

Crowley said the committee would consist of 46 members with German lawmaker and chairman of the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Elmar Brok, expected to lead it.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:31:42 AM EST
Deutsche Welle: The CIA Affair and EU: Who Has Responsiblity?

So far, there has been no concrete proof of secret CIA prisons in Europe. But now, a Swiss newspaper says it has evidence. What is the next step?

The latest clue of alleged secret CIA interrogation centers in Europe comes from Egyptian sources. And of course, EU Justice Minister Franco Frattini found out about it exactly the way the European public did: through the media.

And while there remains little concrete proof of the existence of these prisons, the problem is, is that the EU has little legal room to maneuver begin searching for such evidence -- to settle the issue once and for all.

"We have no clear provision in EU law to handle something like this," said Friso Abbing, Frattini's spokesman. "The compliance with human rights is left to the member states. And when they breach the human rights conventions, then it is the province of the Council of Europe to investigate."

The Strasbourg-based organization is not an organ of the EU but an independent body of states whose chief mission is to monitor compliance to the European conventions on human rights and prohibiting torture.

The organization has 46 members including Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Ukraine, Poland and Serbia-Montenegro, the states in which the alleged prisons were being operated.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:33:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dead frogs linked to global warming
Species are vanishing as deadly fungus flourishes in changing climate.
Lucy Odling-Smee

The mysterious disappearance of frog species throughout Central and South America has been linked to a fungal disease that is exacerbated by the changing climate.
~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~
Camille Parmesan, an ecologist at the University of Texas, Austin, and an author of the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, applauds the study. She says it is "the first to show a whole group of extreme-environment species disappearing because of climate change on a large scale".

Pounds hopes his team's findings will ram home the global-warming message. "We have to reduce concentrations of greenhouse gases very soon if we are to avoid massive losses of biodiversity."


The study argues that climate change has made conditions optimal for the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, contributing to the recent extinction of 70-some species of frogs in Central and South America. If so, the alarm bells are ringing now. Biologists among you, hell, all of you are familiar with interdependence. Eventually, the dominoes will fall.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:38:03 AM EST
Sorry the other one wasn't there when I started writing. Bad bad melvin.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:39:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem, it's always good to have multiple sources.
by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:48:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Warning on aviation safety in Europe

The Civil Aviation Authority expressed serious concerns last night about the operations and performance of the fledgling European Aviation Safety Agency and warned that aviation safety in Europe could eventually be jeopardised.

Sir Roy McNulty, CAA chairman, told the House of Commons transport committee that Easa, which has been operational since September 2003, was seriously understaffed and underfunded and its budget for 2006 would be exhausted within three to four months.

Separately Sir Roy disclosed he had held meetings a couple of years ago with Sir Rod Eddington, former British Airways chief executive, to address concerns about BA's standards of aircraft maintenance, which had been impaired by the speed of BA staff cuts. BA's previous maintenance standards were criticised last month in a report by the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch. Sir Roy said actions had been taken to rectify the problems.

Easa is supposed gradually to take over responsibility in key areas of aviation safety in Europe, including rule-making and aircraft certification, from the Joint Aviation Authorities of the member states.

Sir Roy said: "Additional bureaucratic steps introduced by Easa combined with its shortage of staff and lack of resources was causing serious problems and delays for aircraft manufacturers seeking to certify new aircraft and parts and systems."

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:39:26 AM EST
And why is the European agency running out of money? Presumably because the European countries did not provide it with a sufficient budget, under heavy lobbying from the national agencies?

I would not trust a word of what a national regulator says on its pan-European counterpart in suhc circumstances...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:17:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Sarkozy wins back his wife - and his chance of presidency

At 2.30pm on Tuesday a short, unusually energetic Frenchman strode into a select Paris restaurant near the National Assembly and sat down next to a well-groomed woman. Some 15 minutes later the couple left, arm in arm.

The brief public sighting, caught by a waiting television camera, was all the media needed yesterday to trumpet the sudden and unexpected reconciliation of Nicolas and Cecilia Sarkozy - the man most French voters want for president, and the woman whose backing is widely seen as crucial to his bid.

Balkany, told Le Parisien newspaper. "She returned from New York on January 2 and he met her off the plane in his ministerial car. She's back in their apartment at the interior ministry. Both of them have turned the page; we're delighted. They belong together."

The couple separated this spring after Mrs Sarkozy, 47, a dynamic divorcee who has long acted as her husband's senior adviser, diary-fixer and principal private secretary, admitted she could not face the idea of ever being first lady and needed "time out to be alone and to think".

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:53:07 AM EST
BBC: French icon wants to be Belgian

 

French rock icon Johnny Hallyday is bidding to become a Belgian citizen.

The 62-year-old singer lodged a naturalisation application in November last year, Belgian officials confirmed.

Pierre-Dominique Schmidt, the country's ambassador in Paris, told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure: "He adores France... but he has our spirit."

Hallyday, real name Jean-Philippe Smet, whose father was Belgian, only recently realised he did not have dual nationality.

According to the ambassador, Hallyday had presumed he had dual nationality.

But his father, Leon Smet, had not been married to his mother but another woman at the time of Hallyday's birth and so could not pass on his citizenship.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another sign of decline?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:18:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to comment on the Guaridan's title - I seriously doubt that this will have an impact in his chances of winning the presidency either way.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:19:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Berlusconi's Juve move leaves Europe on edge

Top clubs are following Italian TV battle to discover if individual rights deals represent the future

The latest move in a multimillion-pound game of chess between Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and the News Corp media mogul Rupert Murdoch has used one of the world's most glamorous football clubs as a pawn.

Berlusconi's Italian media group Mediaset last month paid €218m (£150m) for the rights to show live coverage of Juventus's home games for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. In recent years Mediaset has been going head to head with Murdoch's Sky Italia in the battle for football-mad Italian viewers and the soap opera has been given added spice by the fact that Berlusconi - who also owns Milan - and Murdoch were friends who were once believed to have a pact not to compete with one another.

The relationship between Serie A's biggest clubs and the broadcasters that pour money into the game has long been a complex one. Unlike this country Italian clubs negotiate their own deals with broadcasters. Consequently the biggest clubs can rake in large sums while smaller clubs have to settle for as little as €3m a season. Just as Premier League football had driven the growth of Sky over here, Murdoch sought to repeat the trick in Italy when he launched the pay TV satellite service Sky Italia 2½ years ago after buying its main rival there. For $467m (£265m) a year the deal covered all the biggest matches, helping to attract 3.4 million subscribers.

But according to the European Commission competition ruling under which News Corp was allowed to merge Stream and Telepiu to form Sky Italia, all of its rights contracts must be limited to two years and apply only to satellite. That left the door open for Berlusconi's Mediaset to launch its own innovative pay-per-view operation 12 months ago.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 12:59:31 AM EST
Financial Times: Policy split threatens Italian opposition's unity

Discontent broke out yesterday in the ranks of Italy's centre-left opposition, in a threat to the unity that experts view as a precondition of a leftist victory in April's national election.

Senior politicians in Communist Refoundation, a hardline communist party, denounced a draft election programme prepared by moderate strategists close to Romano Prodi, who will challenge Silvio Berlusconi for the premiership.

The communist offensive, if sustained, would be a disturbing development for Mr Prodi, because the communists' refusal to align themselves with other centre-left parties contributed to Mr Berlusconi's election victory in May 2001.

Anxious to avoid a second such split and defeat, Mr Prodi is trying to make his centre-left forces - known as the Union - into as broad a church as possible, incorporating more than 10 parties from the centre to the far left.

But Marco Ferrando, a former Trotskyite and current member of Communist Refoundation's national leadership, said the centre-left's draft programme contained too many concessions to liberalism and capitalism and his party should not support it.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aljazeera: Europe hatching Google alternative

Quaero is billed as Europe's answer to Google, but it has a lot to live up to.

The awkward word - which means "to search" in Latin - is unlikely to flash across the continent's computer screens anytime soon.

So far Quaero is just a scattering of top tech minds in labs across France and Germany, working on what they hope will be the world's most advanced multimedia search engine.

Quaero epitomises European ambitions - especially for French President Jacques Chirac - of creating alternatives to US technological prowess.

But facing off against super-rich, super-talented US companies may prove daunting for the cumbersome consortium of European companies and public agencies hatching Quaero.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:00:56 AM EST
Of course, one of the main values of the project is not success in itself, but the retention of jobs and knowledge and advanced research in the European sphere. We can argue if this is the best way to do it, but it is surely a necessary thing.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:01:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"to search" is quaerere, and quaero is "I search". Just because most verb forms are the same in English doesn't mean that they are in Latin. Did the writer of that piece use an online dictionnary, or something?

I suppose the implication is that the English word "query" is awkward, too?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 06:37:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is Quaero's homepage, as far as I can tell.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 06:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Moscow Times: Europeans Threaten to Revisit Gas Policy

Some European countries may consider going back to nuclear power or even coal as they review their energy policies after Gazprom's politically tinged price war with Ukraine threw a big question mark over Russia's reliability as an energy partner.

But when all is said and done, Europe appears likely to remain dependent on Russian gas for the foreseeable future as its economy grows.

"It is clear that Europe needs a clearer and more collective and cohesive policy on security and energy supply," European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told reporters in Brussels on Jan. 4, hours after Gazprom and Ukraine had signed a new gas trade agreement.

Piebalgs said he would present a new EU energy policy in the spring and put together final conclusions and proposals before the end of the year, according to an EU statement.

German Economics Minister Michael Glos said Berlin might review an earlier decision to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2020.

Italy's industry minister, Claudio Scajola, said Italy should go back to nuclear energy to safeguard the country from energy emergencies.

The ministers' calls to diversify energy suppliers and resources were echoed by France, Austria and Hungary -- all of which saw gas supplies disrupted during the Ukraine dispute.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:02:51 AM EST
BBC: Country profile: San Marino

Landlocked San Marino is the world's second smallest republic. Surrounded by Italy, it is an echo from an era when small city-states proliferated across Europe.

Mount Titano, part of the Appennine range, dominates San Marino's landscape. Three defensive fortresses perch on Titano's slopes, looking out to the Adriatic coast.

Tourism dominates the economy of the 61 square kilometre (23.6 square miles) country, which plays host to more than three million visitors every year.

Postage stamps and coins - keenly sought by collectors - are important sources of revenue. As one of Europe's tax havens, San Marino attracts a large inflow of cash from non-residents.

Tradition has it that San Marino was founded in the fourth century AD by a devout Christian stonemason called Marinus, who took refuge there and set up a small community. Its rugged isolation helped the enclave to develop and keep its independence.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:05:15 AM EST
I've been to San Marino... it's delightful.  And just like the article says, I was delighted to get some SM lire (this was before the Euro obviously).

Pax

Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:17:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aljazeera: Europe should accept its Muslims

Amidst the turbulence of war and violence marking today's world, culture has turned into the great mask behind which hides a racist agenda at home and an expansionist policy abroad.

In the name of culture, Bush's wars turn into a noble mission to bring democracy to the culturally hostile Middle East, while Blair's draconian crackdown on civil liberties becomes a necessary defence of "our British values" against cultural and religious aggression.

The same dichotomy has dominated Western political discourse since the Enlightenment era, fuelled by the climate of European military and economic expansion.

The dichotomy between `we' and `they', `we' the Europeans, or Westerners, who are imbued with the light of reason and spirit of progress, and `they' who still dwell in the darkness of superstition and cultural stagnation.

This colonialist rightwing discourse is on the ascendancy once more in Europe, such that the Chirac government could unashamedly recast the bleak decades of French colonisation of Africa and the Arab Maghreb as a `civilising mission' in the history syllabus taught in French schools.  

Instead of driving European governments to forge more open relations with their socially deprived and institutionally marginalised religious and ethnic minorities and to review their policies of illegitimate military expansionism, September 11 has turned into a pretext for clinging to a right wing aggressive agenda at home and an arrogant foreign interventionism.

by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:06:04 AM EST
This text is about as silly as Mark Steyn's text discussed yesterday.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:25:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clash of fundamentalisms?

The extremes meet?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 06:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...just please lock two of these people of extreme sides in one room and have them fight it out once and for all? Winner takes all, represenatitives of loser commit massive suicide.

Ugh.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 07:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Chirac government could unashamedly recast the bleak decades of French colonisation of Africa and the Arab Maghreb

The man who proposed the amendment mentioned above, did so in the final moments of discussion (and I have observed him do the same thing for the current copyright law discussions - he waits for the last moment and drops some hardcore amendment for which no one is prepared, that no one has thus had any time to study and position themselves on) ...

This man is none other than Christian Vanneste, a soon-to-be-condemned homophobe (said that homosexuals needed to be reeducated and that they were inferior to heterosexuals) and furiously conservative old man. ps: the homophobe declarations did not get him evinced from parliament ... Sarkozy, the UMP president, said that everyone is entitled to their opinions, or something along those lines ... but Vanneste is due in court soon, and I'm quite sure that the courts will happily disagree with Sarkozy.

Anyhow, so this Vanneste proposes a late amendment, by then everyone is tired, half the people have left already, and the majority votes without thinking twice about it, because secretly they all admire the glorious colonisation days (as these politicians, most of them over 45/50, were all brought up in an environment in which not a single history book explained that slavery was awful, that colonization was 99% bad, that Napoleon did not only win glorious defensive battles and do some positive civic things, but was also a monumental butcher and invader etc etc).

In comes the indignation of all the left-wing parties, of the DOM-TOM ... and eventually Chirac asks for this article to be re-written.

So Al-Jazeera's formulation is somewhat cheap ...

PS: this Vanneste is the "rapporteur" for the current DADVSI discussions (copyright stuff for digital works). He has come up with some pretty ugly amendements there too ... such as one, another last minute one, that says that you are responsible for what other people do on your computer and that if you do something illegal voluntarily or even accidentally (yes, it uses the word accidentally), then you're guilty. This would be the very first time that the notion of "guilty before proven innocent" is introduced in French law. I doubt the Conseil Constitutionnel would let something so cheap pass, but you never know these days ...

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 06:53:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ps: "last moment", "final moment" etc is not to be taken literally ... this means for example that an amendment is presented before the session opens, and for example being the rapporteur on the commission means you can influence the president of the assemblée to accept the amendment ... but this would be before the session starts, and not "seconds before voting on it" (as that would be even more nuts)
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 06:59:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a proof of what I say in the comment right above, about last moment amendments (see: La procédure législative, on the Assemblées website - I think there is an English flag)

Pour la bonne organisation des travaux, les amendements, exceptés ceux présentés par le Gouvernement ou la commission, doivent avoir été déposés dans certains délais et, au plus tard, avant l'ouverture de la discussion générale.

So this Vanneste guy, being the rapporteur for the DADVSI law, managed to slip in a lot of amendments at the last moment ... but according to this rule I can read above, I guess the guy can, if he wants, slip in amendments at any time ... yeah, actually this makes sense ... because sous-amendments are always proposed on the fly by the government and/or commission.

What a shitty political system ...

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 07:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel Online: IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM - Europe Mulls Next Steps with Tehran

Iran's drive to enrich uranium has alarmed most of the world, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned that Tehran has crossed the "red line." But it's not clear what Europe can do to stop the Iranians, if Tehran really wants a nuclear bomb.

With its decision earlier this week to break the seals at facilities where it has the capacity to create weapons-grade uranium, Tehran's mullah regime intensified its nuclear dispute with the United Nations and the international community. The latest twist in the spat has created a major test for European diplomats who, for the past year, have taken the lead on negotiating a peaceful settlement with Tehran. With each new snub from Iranian leaders -- and they seem to be coming daily now -- concerns that those diplomatic efforts have failed grow.

Among those joining the chorus of leaders condemning the Iranian government for flaunting agreements with the European Union and provoking the international community is German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The foreign minister said Iranian leaders knew they had crossed a diplomatic "red line," behavior which could not continue "without consequences."

Steinmeier said he'll meet in Berlin on Thursday with the foreign ministers of Britain and France, the other members of the so-called European Union troika that has negotiated with Iran -- to see "if there is any basis for further talks." British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday said the issue should clearly be referred to the UN Security Council.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:07:03 AM EST
Arab News: Editorial: Nuclear Row

The decision by Iran to resume research at one of its nuclear sites is cause for concern, not because Iran should or should not be allowed to develop its own nuclear industry -- both sides have valid arguments -- but it because it ratchets up the stakes in the nuclear stand-off. Another full-scale international crisis is the last thing the Middle East needs at the moment.

The US and the EU have both condemned the move to resume research on producing enriched uranium, which can be used for both for peaceful and military uses, and it is quite clear that they, along with the UN and the IAEA, are not going to sit back and do nothing about it. There will be consequences. The EU and the US will make sure of it, the EU in particular; it is driving the issue and on this, unlike Iraq, it is united. The French and Germans are just as determined as the British to get the Iranians to back down. Washington appears to be happy to let them take the lead. But it is not just the Europeans and Americans that Iran will have to contend with. It has also the UN and the IAEA against it, and they are not Washington's and Brussels' puppets on this issue. It would be a serious mistake to imagine that.

Four months ago, shortly after talks between the EU and Iran broke down and Iran resumed nuclear conversion at Isfahan, the IAEA demanded it cease all nuclear operations and threatened to refer it to the Security Council if it did not. That threat must now be a lot closer, although it is difficult to see what the UN could do in terms of punitive action. Sanctions do not seem particularly realistic; Russia, which has provided Iran with much of its nuclear technology and is trying to present itself as Iran's ally, would probably veto any such move. Nonetheless, the atmosphere is certain to become more poisonous as the accusations and counteraccusations fly, and all that is going to do is make the Iranians more bitter and more determined, and their detractors likewise. It is going to be a nasty business.

This is a struggle not about international law but about attitudes and intentions. There is no doubt that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran, like any other signatory, has the right to pursue nuclear research energy for peaceful purposes. But there is the rub. Iran's detractors are suspicious about its intentions.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Blair threatens UN action on Iran

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says Iran's decision to resume its nuclear activities is likely to result in a referral to the UN Security Council.

Speaking in parliament, Mr Blair said European ministers meeting in Berlin on Thursday would decide how to proceed.

A US state department spokesman also said it was now "more likely than ever" that the case would be sent to the UN.

But Iran's leader dismissed the threat. He said the research would go on despite the Western "fuss".

'Spoiling for a fight'
Tehran says it broke the United Nations seals on the Natanz nuclear research facility on Tuesday because it wants to produce electricity, not because it is pursuing nuclear weapons.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said Tehran is about to start small-scale nuclear enrichment.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, Mr Blair described the current situation as "very serious indeed".

"I don't think there is any point in us hiding our deep dismay at what Iran has decided to do," he said.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:09:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Timothy Garton Ash says:

"So what should Europeans and Americans do on the edge of this Persian precipice? First, Europeans should take the threat of an unpredictable, fragmented Islamic revolutionary regime obtaining nuclear weapons very seriously indeed. Second, we should share all the information, knowledge and intelligence that we have. We need to share all this information and reach a common analysis. But it is the case that Iranian society is potentially our greatest ally - indeed, probably the most pro-western society in the Middle East outside Israel."

All righty then, sounds like a wrap...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1684549,00.html

by asdf on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gawn... another example of why I can't read Ash anymore.

the threat of an unpredictable, fragmented Islamic revolutionary regime obtaining nuclear weapons very seriously indeed.

I remind everyone who read the Russian threads of the issue of threat perceptions - that both the Soviet Union and the West thought at the end of WWII that the other plots to overrun them. In this case, as crazy as the Iranian President is, it is assuming too much crazyness to think that he'd invite nuclear holocaust, which would be assured in a return strike had he ordered a first strike. But the is a quite obvious strategic motivation ignored by such Western-government-rhetoric-buying popular 'analysts' like Ash: if (if, still a big if) Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, then as deterrents - deterrents against an USA that encircled it and Israel that threatened it, based on the example of North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Israel itself.

(Due to the US and Israeli growling in the background, I thought the European initiative never had much chance anyway.)

Iranian society is potentially our greatest ally - indeed, probably the most pro-western society in the Middle East outside Israel

This is an unfortunate self-delusion, kind of like the expectations last autumn that December's Iraqi 'elections' will result in a secular strenghtening. But the ultra-conservative sweeps at the last Iranian elections can't be explained only with election fraud and exclusion of candidates. Even most of those reformists who stood in the election lost, and the sweep of the ultras surprised even the Iranian elite who expected a sweep of the 'pragmatist' conservatives. The reformists really have lost support (and this is a result of the Iraq war I expected before it started).

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 04:06:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This comment deserves a 5.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 04:23:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Due to the US and Israeli growling in the background, I thought the European initiative never had much chance anyway.)

Agree with you all the way, except for this personal injectionn... I personally thought there still was a reasonable chance to get to an agreement - before the elections. El Baradei and the IAEA had a genuinely positive outlook on the negotiations, which were bargained incredibly hard by the Iranians. But at least there was still progress, albeit interminably slow, and people remained in discussion. The USA kept itself at a considerable distance, diplomatically wise (which still means they had their hands all over the thing, but well). With the Iranian regime change, all bets are simply off and there is no discussion or bargaining any more. Iran states want it is going to achieve, no longer what it wants to achieve and let's just screw the IAEA.

In an aside, do you you know what motivated Iran to refuse the Russian offer to deliver upgraded material?

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 08:13:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Commondream: UN Bodies Survive US Funding Threats
UNITED NATIONS - The United States, a major funder of the United Nations and its myriad agencies, has a longstanding notoriety for exercising its financial clout to threaten U.N. bodies refusing to play ball with Washington.

Back in 1984, it withdrew from the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), citing disagreement over its management, and also opposing a proposed plan for the creation of a new international information order.

The withdrawal resulted in a substantive 25 percent U.S. cut in UNESCO's annual 180-million-dollar budget. But despite the sharp cut, UNESCO continued to survive -- minus the United States. In 2003, however, Washington returned to the fold, arguing it could live with the then new management.

Last month, the administration of President George W. Bush threatened to hold up the U.N. budget for 2006-2007 until and unless member states agreed to U.S.-inspired management reforms, including the appointment of a chief operating officer mandated to run the world body along the lines of a U.S. corporation.

Since the overwhelming majority was opposed to some of the proposed reforms, the U.N.'s administrative and budgetary committee eventually agreed on a U.S.-proposed compromise: Secretary-General Kofi Annan was authorised to spend only 950 million dollars over a six-month period pending significant action on reforms, thereby emasculating the U.N.'s traditional biennium budget.

"It is clear that in six months we can assess progress on management reform issues and then decide how to address resource questions for the remainder of 2006," U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff told delegates last month.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has withheld a total of about 127 million dollars -- a sum duly appropriated by the U.S. Congress -- from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

In 2002, Washington cut 34 million dollars; in 2003, 25 million dollars; and in 2004 and 2005, 34 million dollars each.

The cuts were prompted by a misconceived charge that UNFPA was supporting and promoting abortions in China -- a view strongly held by neo-conservatives and right wing Christian fundamentalists who are strong political supporters of Bush.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:10:24 AM EST
Reuters: Iraqi widows feel lost in land that cannot provide

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Three sewing machines in a dingy apartment were all Munna Abdul Adeem Ahmed could scrape together when she set up a tailoring co-op for poor widows. She soon realized it was not enough.

More than 1,000 women from the northern city of Mosul turned up looking for work on the first day. Ahmed finally stopped registering new names after the 1,200th widow signed up.

The women were mostly young, poor and desperate for work. Many lost their spouses during the wars, uprisings and civil conflict that have bedeviled Iraq over the past 25 years.

Now, a raging insurgency is adding to their numbers.
Behind the daily bloodshed and attacks that make headlines across the world, there is a growing population of widows.

Traditionally, Iraqi widows have been supported by their late husband's family or other relatives, but in a country brought to its knees by violence and war, there is now little to spare for the most vulnerable members of society.

"We don't have enough money to clothe our children," said Nawal Ayob, who lost her husband during the bombings in the first Gulf War in 1991 and has since joined Ahmed's co-op. "We have no salaries, no support. How can we survive?"

There are few reliable statistics on the number of widows, but the Ministry of Women's Affairs has recorded at least 206,000 in Iraq, outside of Kurdish provinces. There are just over half as many widowed men.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:18:48 AM EST
Dawn: IT experts in search of actor to play Buddha

NEW DELHI, Jan 9: Software engineers have been called in to help in the search for an actor to play the role of Lord Buddha in a major Indian movie, a newspaper report said on Monday.

The engineers in Silicon Valley have generated computer images of the Buddha which will be used in the global hunt for an actor to play the lead in the 120 million dollar film by acclaimed Indian director Shekhar Kapur, Business Standard newspaper said.

"The software engineers have come up with wonderful images based on history and other information available from various Buddhist societies," B.K. Modi, chairman of Buddha Films which is producing the feature, told the paper.

"We need a face that fits those images," Mr Modi said from Beverly Hills, California, where his company is based. "The character of the man who will play the Buddha is also important."

In Sept 2004 Shekhar Kapur met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at his home in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala for guidance on the film, which will focus on the Buddha attaining enlightenment and on his teachings.


by Fran on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:19:32 AM EST
Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

William Faulkner


What a sweet lead-in!  That was the name of the academic game where I attended university in the US (New College of Florida.)

Moreover, the setting was Paradise/Utopia in Sarasota, Florida.  We could do absolutley anything (ANYthing) we wanted to do, to ourselves or to each other, as long as it was kept on campus.  US law did not apply (!!!!!)

It was an experimental thing, wondering what might happen if a few hundred of the brightest kids from around the world are allowed to do whatever they see fit, and govern themselves (ourselves) accordingly.  Academically, in each and every case we had only to compete against our own personal limitations, never against each other.  There was no one to be better than or worse than.  We didn't have grades, we had only our success or failure on an individual basis.

Faulkner was a Harvard man, as I recall (and I'm not Googling to check; if I'm wrong, granted my mind might be dulling by now....), but he was a good ol' US southern boy in any case.

-----

-----

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 01:21:42 AM EST
Moreover, the setting was Paradise/Utopia in Sarasota, Florida.  We could do absolutley anything (ANYthing) we wanted to do, to ourselves or to each other, as long as it was kept on campus.  US law did not apply (!!!!!)

Do you mean in the game, or in real life?  If the latter, well... what happened?!?  You've piqued my curiosity!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Lavrov warns Rice over bias in U.S. over Ukraine gas crisis

MOSCOW, January 11 (RIA Novosti)-Russia's foreign minister has told his opposite number in the United States that some comments made in America during talks over Russian gas supplies to Ukraine were unacceptable, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

During a telephone conversation, Sergei Lavrov brought Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's attention to "openly politicized and biased comments" made in America while negotiations were ongoing between Russian energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine's national oil company, Naftogaz Ukrainy.

by blackhawk on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:48:13 AM EST
From the Action Ukraine Report (You need to subscribe to receive the emails)


ANALYSIS: By Anders Åslund
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #640, Article 5
Washington, D.C., Thursday, January 12, 2006

The originally secret Russian-Ukrainian gas agreement that was concluded on January 4 was published on January 6 by former Ukrainian PrimeMinister Yulia Tymoshenko. It appears very different from the originalpresentation of the agreement, and it seems totally rudimentary, with major aspects missing. Admittedly, secret appendices and additional agreements are possible, but the salient features of the now publicized agreement are:

  • This is not a five-year agreement but a half-year agreement. The key paragraph says that in 2006 Rosukrenergo will sell gas at the price of $95 per mcm during the first half of 2006. For the second half of 2006, the gas price is regulated

  • The agreement only specifies the sale of 34 bcm to Ukraine in 2006, while Ukraine will need at least 21 bcm more (a total gas need of 75 mcm of which 20 mcm is domestically produced). Naftohaz and Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov have stated that Ukraine will buy the rest from Turkmenistan for $50 per mcm during the first half and $60 per mcm during the second half. The transit fee of this gas through Russia might remain an open issue.

  • No other binding price specification for gas is given. The only statement is that Rosukrenergo will buy up to 17 bcm of Russian gas at the price $230 per mcm and export (to the West) 15 bcm. Thus, it appears as if the Russian gas is to be exported by Rosukrenergo to the West and that Ukraine will hardly import any Russian gas, only Central Asian gas.

  • The main feature of this trilateral agreement between Gazprom, Rosukrenergo and Naftohaz Ukrainy is that Gazprom's export arm Gazexport (headed by the decent Alexander Medvedev) is giving up lots of commercial interest to Rosukrenergo. Gazexport is to provide Rosukrenergo this year with: 41 bcm of Turkmen gas, up to 7 bcm of Uzbek gas and up to 8 bcm of Kazakh gas, that is a total of 56 bcm.

  • Turkmenistan produces enough gas to supply Ukraine with an additional 20 bcm or so. Rosukrenergo shall be the sole seller of Gazprom-owned gas to Ukraine, but it is not stated that Central Asian states cannot sell directly to Ukraine.

  • Oddly, the transit fee through Ukraine is fixed in dollar terms till the end of 2010, which is the only long-term commitment. The agreement does not specify that it shall be paid in cash, but Alexei Miller's statement makes that clear, which means the abolition of barter.

  • Importantly, Russia has not gained any control over the Ukrainian pipeline system, which was a major Russian objective.

The conclusions of this reading are rather curious. Very little has been resolved, only the price of 60 percent of Ukraine's gas import during the first half of 2006 and the transit fee through Ukraine.

The main substance of the agreement is that the relatively transparent and decent Gazprom has given up substantial commercial interests to the shady intermediary Rosukrenergo. Tymoshenko, who might know, claims that Rosukrenergo has been taken over entirely by Russian interests, which would make sense.

The main fight thus appears to have taken place between Gazprom's public management and Rosukrenergo's unknown owners. According to plausible rumors, Rosukrenergo is controlled by the Igor Sechin circle, which may thus have won over Dmitri Medvedev and Alexei Miller, while Putin is likely present on both sides.

Ukraine rather appears an onlooker, and it has been given gas for half a year at a better price than anybody but Belarus for minimal concessions - the fixed transit fee for five years. One little noticed aspect is that Ukraine appears to have utilized the low prices last year to fill its huge underground storage of up to 20 mcm.

Yulia Tymoshenko is claiming that this agreement is criminal because it replaces the agreement of summer 2004, which set the price of Ukrainian purchase of gas at $50 per mcm and tied it to the transit tariff. Formally, she has a good point, but it is difficult to believe that such an absurdly agreement would be honored, even if it is supposed to be subject to international arbitration in Stockholm.

The ouster of the Ukrainian government does not mean that the agreement was bad for Ukraine but that a group of party factions in Ukraine has found it a good excuse to oust the government, and thus weaken it, before the elections.

One of the most important outcomes of this vote might be that Tymoshenko managed to line up with Victor Yanukovich, Victor Medvedchuk and the Communists. A change of political alliances in Ukraine might be under way.

To sum up, the key results of the gas agreement appear to be:

  1. Rosukrenergo has taken control over more of Gazprom's and Central Asia's gas export. This can only benefit the owners of Rosukrenergo, and to the disadvantage of Gazprom's minority shareholders.

  2. Ukraine has got low gas prices, but only for half a year.

  3. Gazprom has achieved somewhat higher prices and stabilized its access to the European markets in the long run.

  4. Russia has lost the international beauty contest and shaken its credibility in Europe as a reliable energy supplier, tilting the energy debate toward nuclear energy and LNG rather than gas through pipelines.

NOTE: Dr. Anders Åslund is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for
International Economics (IIE) in Washington, D.C. Contact:
aaslund@iie.com; website: www.iie.com.

Aslund is one of the most notorious Western advisors that pushed for "shock therapy" in the early 90s, and thus his writings on Russia must be interpreted through that lense, but what he writes here makes sense to me.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just surprised by that comment of Condoleezza after things were settled and Russia, Ukraine and EU announced they were satisfied with the deal. Looks like something else is going on behind the curtain.

There are number of rumors. Say, one of them is that existing fields are being run down and Gazprom does not have any extra volumes of gas or may even have deficit till 2008-2010 when new fields will bought online.

He misses some minor details, but yes, that's close to the agreement which is going around.

Turkmenistan has 50 bcm to sell and export piplenine is 50 bcm/y, so 41+20 of turkmen gas above do not add up.

Looks like Ukraine was selling about 10-15 bcm a year to Europe, so real Ukraine's gas balance around 60-65 bcm/y or less - with higher prices they will not be as reckless with gas usage.

Transit fee for RosUkrEnrgo turkmen gas is 1.6$/mcm/km and for Naftogas turkmen gas is 37% which go to RosUkrEnrgo (this is the source of RosUkrEnrgo profit). After 2007 Gazprom bought out all turkmen gas, so there should be no Naftogas part.

by blackhawk on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 04:43:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few points:

  • Gazprom is NOT running out of gas. This is a myth they have carefully propagated as an instrument to get the Kremlin to agree to higher domestic prices;

  • the Turkmen pipeline has a capacity of at least 90 bcm/y (that's what it was in the last years of the Soviet Union). But that's essentially irrelevant as the gas going to Ukraine comes from Russia, and is controlled by people within Gazprom, and where it comes from before that is irrelevant. These people get some cheap gas from Turkmenistan, but in practise it is a separate scam, even if it is useful for PR purposes

  • Ukraine has NOT been selling any kind of volumes to Western Europe. I know this is being claimed by Russia, but it's not physically possible. All the pipelines have measurement stations at the border and Gazprom has access to these directly or indirectly.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 11:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine has NOT been selling any kind of volumes to Western Europe.

Blackhawk probably doesn't mean Western Europe, but Romania.

I wonder if he can translate us a source to the number, it sounds fantastic to me given the volumes Romania imports in total. Also, I wonder if he can find details of the claim in Russian - in particular, what pipelines this re-sale is supposed to go on across.

Some additions to the general issue can be read in this German article, which says that measuring gas volumes is a problematic task and that the Russian claim may be based on simple pressure measurements.

A further note on the sideline: in an interview with another German paper, a Gazprom manager explains the position on selling cheaper to Belarus with the circumstance that Gazprom owns the pipeline 100%.

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

by DoDo on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 02:12:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Süddeutsche Zeitung: German Intelligence Aided US in Iraq War

The German intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) assisted US troops during the Iraq war in the spring of 2003 and may even have helped to identify bombing targets.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the television news program "Panorama" of German public broadcaster ARD, at least two BND agents remained in Bagdad during the entire war and provided information to the US military. The cooperation was expressly approved by the then-intelligence coordinator in the Chancellory, Ernst Uhrlau, and former BND President August Hanning.

A high-level German intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the SZ on Wednesday that two BND agents had taken refuge in the French diplomatic mission after the German embassy was evacuated on 17 March 2003 - three days before commencement of hostilities. The BND agents continued working throughout the war.

[snip]

Informed sources in intelligence circles revealed on Wednesday that the decision to cooperate with the Americans was a "political decision" of the red-green coalition. In its public pronouncements the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder consistently stated that it was opposed to the Iraq war and would thus not participate in it. (in German)



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:08:57 AM EST
Schröder's hypocrisy never fails to amaze me...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 03:46:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No wonder if the neocons don't respect Europeans, who complain in public but cooperate in private. Whiners and cowards.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 04:30:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the SPIEGEL online article, the BND claims its mission was
- to get independent, trustworthy information on the war and its results
and
- to mark non-targets (like embassies [remember Belgrade?], hospitals and such) for the Americans

The latter, they claim, almost all intelligence services did.

We will see what they really did...

_______________________________________________

"Those who fight might lose, those who don't fight have already lost." - Berthold Brecht

by RavenTS on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 06:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ryanair pilot suffered breakdown in cockpit
Ryanair last year introduced a policy of standing down pilots following family bereavements after a captain suffered a breakdown in the cockpit days after burying one of his children, it emerged today. [ireland.com Breaking News]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 08:13:19 AM EST
El Pais: Is  God behind Judah's betrayal of Christ? (12-01-2006)
A campaign within the Vatican is betting on rehabilitating the figure of the apostle, who according to the Bible sold his master for 30 coins.
[Judah's] snitching, considered by Saint Luke the fruit of "satanic possession", might simply have been "his role in bringing God's plan to fruition".


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 08:22:19 AM EST
Imagine the fun that Jack Chick and his friends will have with this one.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 05:40:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The three Latin-american musketeers, starring Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Evo Morales; special guest star: George Bush.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 12th, 2006 at 08:25:00 AM EST


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