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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 17 November

by Fran Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:45:08 AM EST

On this date in history:

In 1869, the Suez Canal in Egypt was opened to navigation, linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

There is more info here and here and a map


Welcome to the new European Salon!

This will replace the former Breakfast Thread. Over time it looked like people show up in cycles, some for Breakfast, though less and less, many for Lunch and some stayed in to the Evening. Thus, a Salon that is open for discussions, exchange, and gossip and just plain socializing all day long, seems to be more appropriate.

The Salon has different rooms or sections for your enjoyment. If you would like to join the discussion, then to add a link or comment to a topic or section, please click on "Reply to this" in one of the following sections:

EUROPE - is the place for anything to do with Europe.

WORLD - here you can add the links to topics concerning the rest of the World.

THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER - is the place for everything from environment to health to curiosa.

KLATSCH - if you like gossip, this is the place. But you can also use this place as an Open Thread until the one in the Evening opens.

SPECIAL FOCUS - will be up only for special events and topics, like elections or other stuff.

I hope you will find this place inspiring – of course meaning the inspiration gained here to show up in interesting diaries. :-)

There is just one favor I would like to ask you – please do NOT click on “Post a Comment”, as this will put the link or your comment out of context at the bottom of the page.

Actually, there is another favor I would like to ask you – please, enjoy yourself and have fun at this place!

This link goes directly to the Klatsch section

Display:
EUROPE
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:46:08 AM EST
Independent: Blair snubbed by Europe's Middle East initiative

A rift between Britain and France deepened last night as three European countries launched a surprise Middle East initiative to halt the violence and hold out prospects of an eventual long term settlement.

The plan, agreed by France, Italy and Spain, was announced by the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, yesterday at a summit with French President Jacques Chirac. Mr Zapatero said stability and security in the Middle East meant stability and security for the world.

The initiative clearly caught Downing Street by surprise. Asked if the Prime Minister was aware of it, his spokesman replied laconically: "We will wait and see."

At the core of the plan - to be put to next month's EU summit - is an immediate ceasefire with an international mission to monitor it in Gaza; a boost for efforts already under way to form a new "national unity" Palestinian government that can earn international recognition; prisoner exchanges to release the three soldiers whose abduction sparked war in Lebanon and fighting in Gaza this summer; and talks between Israel and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:55:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dawn: Israel heaps scorn on European initiative

MADRID, Nov 16: Spain will sponsor a new Middle East peace initiative along with France and Italy, the prime minister said on Thursday, stressing that the international community cannot remain idle as violence rages between Israel and the Palestinians.Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced the initiative at a summit with President Jacques Chirac of France. ''Peace between Israel and the Palestinians means to a large extent peace on the international scene,'' Zapatero told a news conference.

''We cannot remain impassive in the face of the horror that continues to unfold before our eyes,'' Mr Zapatero said.

A senior Israeli official rejected outright the European initiative.

"The common Spanish-French-Italian initiative does not exist. The announcement by (Spanish Prime Minister) Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is hasty," said a foreign ministry official.

"Mr Zapatero's statements are different from those of French President Jacques Chirac," the official noted, saying Israel was `appalled by such naivety' from the Spanish premier.

"We will certainly see if he (Zapatero) manages to convince the Palestinians to stop rocket fire on Israel," he said.

Referring to a prisoner swap, the official said the Egyptians had been working on such an initiative since June, when an Israeli soldier was snatched by Palestinian militants, and asked why Mr Zapatero did not come forward sooner.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Russia bans thousands of foreign traders

Hundreds of thousands of people in Russia will lose their jobs after President Vladimir Putin approved plans to ban foreigners from trading at street stalls and markets. Immigrants from former Soviet republics such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan dominate markets in Russia, mainly selling fruit and vegetables.

The new measures, which were condemned as discriminatory and ill-conceived by human rights and migrants' activists, will come into effect next year said the prime minister, Mikhail Fradkov, in a televised meeting with Mr Putin.

The president last month demanded that the government act to ensure that the interests of "native Russians" engaged in small trade were better protected.

The move came on the heels of a political crisis with Georgia that flared when Tbilisi arrested and deported four alleged Russian spies. After that a number of Georgian businesses in Russia were closed in a nationalist backlash that one western diplomat described as "openly racist".

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Result of Kondopoga incident? They seem to realize that if police is not doing its job, the mob will.

What Guardian fails to mention, that "domination" of the markets is usually criminal in nature. Small local producers are unable to trade there and are forced to sell goods to the clans controlling the markets.

Good that government starts thinking about immigration problems, but it may be late. Somehow I doubt that they have the resources or working enforcement to deport or jail all 10 million illegals in the country.

Actually, all the laws are on the books, problem is with implementation, low level corruption and de-facto no migration/immigration controls with CIS countries.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:20:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, to ban everyone is not the best way of dealing with organised crime. It will only ensure that foreign clans will be replaced by local ones.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Local organized crime groups are not a problem on a street level: they move fast higher in the food chain (i.e. "business") w/o ready resupply of personnel, and if they slow, are cracked by the police with the help from the neighbors or informers.
by blackhawk on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you gain from deporting or jailing the illegals? If you make them legal you give them a chance to escape the grip of the mob by getting 'legit' work.

How about the 3M Russians living illegally in Moscow? Or is that an urban legend?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:24:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For crime, serious cleaning up of police and courts is needed first.

I don't think anyone is talking about blanket deportations, that's impossible. Even if you deport someone, open border policies with CIS guarantee that the deported people will be back in no time. The plan seems to be regional and profession quotas on where workers are needed and pushing illegals into those jobs.

nelegal.net is about another, region-specific issue. Moscow still has local registration, and if you are from another region (well, and country), and stay long time, you are supposed to register with police station near the place where you stay. BTW, courts recognized this practice unconstitutional, but Moscow keeps updating the regulations.

Prices and efforts to get one differ depending on where you stay, but many people are not willing to pay 10-20$ per month and prefer to master the art of staying away from police. I may be rusty on this, but if you are caught, the usual penalty is 0.30$ fine for Russian citizens and 6$ for CIS citizens. Many just pay bribes or talk their way out of this.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:32:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean "cleanup by police and courts" or "cleanup of police and courts"?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:41:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"cleanup of police and courts", naturally. Say, the way open/flea markets are controlled in Moscow is impossible without contacts in police, courts and local government.

Which reminds me the case in Moscow when Georgian principal converted public school into school with Georgian cultural component, then introduced gym "for Georgians only, as it was paid for by Georgian sponsors", and finally changed the language of instruction of some classes to Georgian. Inspite of street protests by non-Georgian parents and several articles in the media, she kept her job and approval of the school district, just the majority of non-Georgian children had to move to another school.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:03:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Here are in short recent decisions on immigration (with still no visa controls with CIS minus Georgia):

In December 2005 changes were introduced to immigration law where till January 2008 ex-USSR citizens living in Russia can get citizenship if they arrived to Russia before 2002 and have police registration or temporary residency permits.

Today it was announced that 6 million will get jobs permits and 2007 will have a quota of 308 thousand job permits for immigrants.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:18:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Sweden challenges EU plan to simplify divorce

· Bid to thwart couples from shopping for liberal rules
· Citizens could face laws of non European courts

A European Union plan to streamline divorce proceedings is coming under fire from Sweden, which is warning that the change could pave the way for socially conservative countries to block divorces.

In a highly critical report on a European commission initiative, the Swedish justice ministry has made the claim that divorce laws from a non-EU country such as Iran could be applied in European courts.

The Swedish intervention has come in response to a commission green paper which is designed to end the practice of "divorce shopping", in which a separating spouse exploits liberal laws in another EU country.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:13:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another example of imposing restrictions based on worst-case scenarios, rather than working towards commonality first.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:21:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Divorce shopping exists. We know someone who allegedly chose the country they would get married in partly because of the laws that would apply in the event of a divorce.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure it exists. But is a 100% restriction justified by a less than 1% problem ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting tidbit from further down that article:
Of the 2.2m marriages in the EU each year, around 350,000 are classified as international.

16% of marriages in Europe are considered international. I have not been able to find further info on what this means. Maybe two people getting married where one or both do not have citizenship in the country where they get married?

In general, yes, I think it is necessary to have rules covering the small number of people who will try to screw over the soon to be former partner in a divorce situation. Those are exactly the cases where protections are really necessary. For the cases where both people are reasonable enough to try to solve the issue together without inflicting undue pain on each other we could perhaps leave them to it. But, hey, we are talking about divorce here, a situation that really starts with two people no longer getting along, and where perhaps a desire for vengeance will manifest itself in one or the other partner.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:20:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd imagine quite a lot of that would include people going to sunnier climes to get married cos it seems more "romantic".

However, I think that introducing a problem for 100% of marriages to save a few people from problems is disproportionate.

We're not talking about poor people here, we're talking about people for whom spending a million to save them 10 million in a divorce settlement is a credible course of action. So a few over-rich people decide to line the purses of a few parasitical lawyers to exact some form of perverse revenge on each other may be amusing, but I really do not think it constitutues the sort of problem that would require screwing up everybody elses marriage settlement.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:12:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can someone explain to me how marriage law works across borders anyway? If you get married in country A, do you have to go through special paperwork to have it recognised in country B?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:16:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We got married in the US, and had to officially register our marriage in Germany. To do this we needed to submit a certified and apostilled translation of our marriage license.

All of which was easier than getting married in Germany, because I would have been required to submit certified documentation proving that I was not otherwise married at that time (a horrendous undertaking given the different national approaches to vital statistics).

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:52:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know a portuguese-belarussian couple that got married in Germany. (Because they live there.) It took them over 6 months just to get the paperwork done... No wonder people choose to marry in more "convenient" countries...
by Trond Ove on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 08:23:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Swedish intervention has come in response to a commission green paper which is designed to end the practice of "divorce shopping", in which a separating spouse exploits liberal laws in another EU country.

I'm just horrified that people feel they have to do this. What sort of country makes it difficult to divorce?

Really, if someone wants out of a marriage, better that it ends cleanly rather than forcing people to live with legal baggage and be unable to formalise their next relationship.

by IdiotSavant on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:56:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The more conservative countries, of course: Ireland has a three year waiting rule and only legalised divorce ten years ago or so. We'll have to wait for the older generation to die before that gets freed up any.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:01:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Malta doesn't even have divorce. Which is going to make any Eu directive on divorce a pain in the neck to pass through the Council.

Whose brilliant idea was it to allow in a microstate client of the UK?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid Dept.:

Guardian: Cracked it!

Three million Britons have been issued with the new hi-tech passport, designed to frustrate terrorists and fraudsters. So why did Steve Boggan and a friendly computer expert find it so easy to break the security codes?

Six months ago, with the help of a rather scary computer expert, I deconstructed the life of an airline passenger simply by using information garnered from a boarding-pass stub he had thrown into a dustbin on the Heathrow Express. By using his British Airways frequent-flyer number and buying a ticket in his name on the airline's website, we were able to access his personal data, passport number, date of birth and nationality. Based on this information, using publicly available databases, we found out where he lived, his profession, all his academic qualifications and even how much his house was worth.

It would have been only a short hop to stealing his identity, committing fraud in his name and generally ruining his life.

Great news then, we thought, that the UK had just begun to issue new, ultra-secure passports, incorporating tiny microchips to store the holder's details and a digital description of their physical features (known in the jargon as biometrics). These, the argument went, would make identity theft much more difficult and pave the way for the government's proposed ID cards in 2008 or 2009.

Today, some three million such passports have been issued, and they don't look so secure. I am sitting with my scary computer man and we have just sucked out all the supposedly secure data and biometric information from three new passports and displayed it all on a laptop computer.

The UK Identity and Passport Service website says the new documents are protected by "an advanced digital encryption technique". So how come we have the information? What could criminals or terrorists do with it? And what could it mean for the passports and the ID cards that are meant to follow?

First it is necessary to explain why the new passports were introduced, and how they work.After the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, in which fake passports were used, the US decided it wanted foreign citizens who presented themselves at its borders to have more secure "machine-readable" identity documents. It told 27 countries that participated in a visa waiver programme that citizens with passports issued after the 26th of last month must have micro-chipped biometric passports or would have to apply for a US visa. Among those 27 countries are the major EU members, and other friendly nations ranging from Andorra and Iceland to Singapore, Japan and Brunei. The UK, of course, is also included.

Standards for the new passports were set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 2003 and adopted by the waiver countries and the US. The ICAO recommended that passports should contain facial biometrics, though countries could introduce fingerprints at a later date. All these would be stored on a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) microchip, which can be accessed from a short distance using radio waves. Similar chips are commonly found in retail, where they are used for stock control.

Fatally, however, the ICAO suggested that the key needed to access the data on the chips should be comprised of, in the following order, the passport number, the holder's date of birth and the passport expiry date, all of which are contained on the printed page of the passport on a "machine readable zone." When an immigration official swipes the passport through a reader, this feeds in the key, which allows a microchip reader to communicate with the RFID chip. The data this contains, including the holder's picture, is then displayed on the official's screen. The assumption at this stage is that this document is as authentic as it is super-secure. And, as we shall see later, this could be highly significant.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:23:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does anybody pay lip-service to ideas that this is about improving individual security ? It isn't and it never was. It's about bureaucratic convenience, nothing more.

they genuinely don't care that criminals are stealing our identities by the thousand. That's our problem. they're protected so as far as they can see, there's no problem.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Süddeutsche Zeitung: Raids and arrests: top managers involved in Siemens affair

Die Finanzaffäre bei Siemens reicht nach Erkenntnissen der Staatsanwaltschaft bis in das Spitzenmanagement des Konzerns. Die Fahnder prüfen nun, ob Siemens durch Korruption an Aufträge für die Olympischen Spiele 2004 in Athen und andere Projekte gekommen ist oder kommen wollte.

Ermittlungsbehörden aus Deutschland, der Schweiz und Italien haben seit dem vergangenen Jahr nach und nach ein geheimes, international weit verzweigtes Finanzsystem enthüllt. Nach den bisherigen Ergebnissen der Fahnder diente es dazu, von 2002 an bis heute mindestens 20 Millionen Euro in schwarze Kassen in der Schweiz und Liechtenstein zu leiten.

Diese Mittel sollten, so der Verdacht, vor allem dazu eingesetzt werden, im Ausland Schmiergeld für Großaufträge zu zahlen. Die Münchner Staatsanwaltschaft ermittelt gegen zwölf Personen, darunter zehn aktive oder frühere Mitarbeiter von Siemens. [...]

[...]

Die Staatsanwaltschaft prüft in diesem Zusammenhang, wie die SZ weiter erfuhr, zahlreiche Vorhaben von Siemens. Das betrifft unter anderem ein Projekt bei den Olympischen Sommerspielen 2004 in Athen sowie Telekommunikationsvorhaben in Ägypten, Saudi-Arabien, Kuwait, Indonesien und Vietnam. In Kuwait war nach den Erkenntnissen der Ermittler das dortige Ministerium für Kommunikation der Ansprechpartner. Aufgefallen sind den Fahndern auch ein Vorhaben in der Karibik sowie zahlreiche weitere Projekte.


According to the state prosecutor's office, the financial affair at Siemens extends into the group's top management. Authorities are now investigating whether Siemens obtained or attempted to obtain orders for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and other projects through corruption.

Since last year, investigators from Germany, Switzerland and Italy have gradually uncovered a secret and internationally far-reaching finance system. According to the investigators' findings to date, this was used to channel at least € 20 million into secret accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The suspicion is that these funds were intended to be used abroad as bribes to obtain large contracts. The Munich state prosecutor's office is pursuing investigations of twelve persons, including ten current or former Siemens employees. [...]

[...]

As the SZ also learned, the prosecutor's office is also scrutinizing numerous Siemens projects. Among others, these include a project for the 2004 summer Olympic Games in Athens as well as telecommunications projects in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Indonesia and Vietnam. In Kuwait, according to investigative findings, that nation's Ministry for Communications was the negotiating party. Investigators' attention has also been drawn to a project in the Caribbean and numerous others.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:59:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seen on El Pais via Escolar.net...

EUobserver: Parliament examines 'joke or very serious' fraud (15.11.200)

European Parliament president Josep Borrell has called for an investigation into an email sent to the assembly's 732 MEPs indicating a potential misuse of public funds.

In a series of electronic messages, a person from within the parliament instructs a third person on how to get paintings he purchased at an exhibition at the seat of the European People's Party next to the parliament, paid for by the party.

In the emails, an MEP's assistant from the centre-right EPP/ED group tells the private person to look for "a friend or middleman to send the invoices in his or her name and then give you the money. To have something paid by the EPP it is necessary to send the invoice to the EPP, Rue de Commerce 10/1000 Brussels."

According to El Pais today, there was an attempt to abort the sending of the e-mail 5 to 7 minutes after it was submitted. The Spanish MEP involved is the Secretary General of the EPP.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:02:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPECIAL FOCUS - French Election
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:47:16 AM EST
Financial Times: Royal wins French Socialist primary vote

Ségolène Royal on Thursday night celebrated winning the French Socialist party's presidential primary with a big majority of votes, boosting her bid to become the country's first woman president next May.

Her victory, hailed last night by one of her supporters in Paris as the "birth of a new Socialist party", helps her to dismiss criticisms that her candidacy was based more on style than substance and she lacked the experience to win the hearts of her party.

"I am conscious of having received this boost; to have been chosen in this way is something extraordinary," said Ms Royal, speaking from her home at Melle, the small village in her rural constituency of Poitou-Charente in western France.

"France is going to write a new page of its history. The country has a desire for change. I want to incarnate that change, to give it credibility and legitimacy, and I believe that this legitimacy has been offered to me tonight," she said.

Ms Royal had called for a big turnout in the party to give her the undisputed backing she needs to build as broad a church as possible on the left around her candidacy.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:53:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: France's Royal wins Socialist vote, eyes 2007

PARIS (Reuters) - Segolene Royal's quest to become France's first woman head of state took a giant leap forward on Friday when she was crowned as the Socialists' presidential candidate for next year's election.

Party officials said Royal won 60.62 percent of the vote in a Socialist primary ballot -- a result which is likely to silence many leftist critics who had portrayed her as a lightweight populist and inexperienced campaigner.

"The fact that I have been chosen in this way is something extraordinary," said Royal, smiling radiantly and visibly moved.

The video game industry's own clash of the titans reboots this week with the midnight launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 and Sunday's debut of Nintendo's Wii.
Full coverage

"I want to embody change and give it credibility and legitimacy. And I think today, I have received this legitimacy," she told reporters in her western France stronghold, where she is president of the Poitou-Charentes region.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:01:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Royal to lead French left on new path

France has taken a major step towards electing its first woman president.

At the same time Segolene Royal, in winning the Socialist nomination, has dealt a significant blow to the party's traditional left wing.

The campaign has drawn comparisons to US politics. The three televised debates may have been dull, but the off-screen mud-slinging would have been worthy of the American presidential election itself.

Internet users have devoured websites, such as one called the "dustbin of the primaries", to read the latest blogs rubbishing opposing candidates.

Segolene Royal drew whoops of laughter at her final rally in Paris this week by attacking the "male chauvinism" of her competitors.

Laurent Fabius had reacted to her presidential bid by asking: "Who's going to look after the children?"

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Boos on French right as left votes

France's ruling centre-right UMP party erupted in acrimony on Thursday as supporters of its leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, jeered one of his cabinet colleagues, exposing fierce presidential rivalry.

The vocal display of rancour on the right contrasted sharply with the opposition Socialists, who were calmly voting in a primary to choose between Ségolène Royal, Laurent Fabius and Dominique Strauss-Kahn for their presidential candidate.

Supporters of Mr Sarkozy, interior minister, booed and whistled a speech by Michèle Alliot-Marie, defence minister, at a UMP conference to agree a manifesto for parliamentary elections next year.

While Mr Sarkozy has a suffocating grip on the party, there are dissenters who remain loyal to President Jacques Chirac and share the head of state's dislike of the interior minister.

The boos for Ms Alliot-Marie came amid rumours that Mr Chirac may stand for a record third term in a bid to stop Mr Sarkozy replacing him in the Elysée palace.

Bernadette Chirac, France's first lady, fuelled the rumours by telling the Nouvelle Observateur that her husband would exercise his right as a former president to join the Conseil constitutionnel, the country's highest court, "in five years".

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:11:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Fran for all the headlines.
There's s story on the front page for the discussion:
http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2006/11/16/174529/92

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Clear victory for Royal in race to be president

Ségolène Royal's battle to become the first woman president of France begins in earnest today, after the Socialist party last night overwhelmingly endorsed her as their candidate in next April's election.

The "madonna of the opinion polls", whose personal battle against a domineering military colonel father and the perceived sexism of her party's old guard has fascinated France even more than her policies, secured a decisive victory after a rancorous US-style primary.

....
Her endorsement marks a change in how the Socialists will position themselves to wrest power from the right - nearly 12 years under Jacques Chirac has left a legacy of unemployment, stagnation, debt and unrest on its run-down estates.

With Mr Chirac now the most unpopular president in the fifth republic's history, the left is hoping to win for the first time since Mr Mitterrand. Ms Royal appears to represent a third way for the French left, outspokenly declaring her admiration for Tony Blair, seen by many as a traitor to the socialist cause.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:47:55 AM EST
BBC: Senate agrees India nuclear deal

The US Senate has overwhelmingly voted to pass a controversial deal to share civilian nuclear technology with India.

The deal was proposed over a year ago as a way to boost ties with a strategic ally. In exchange, India must allow the US to inspect its civilian reactors.

President George W Bush hailed the move as bringing India into the "nuclear non-proliferation mainstream".

However, the bill still has to clear a number of hurdles before it becomes law and is implemented.

One condition would require India to fully and actively participate in efforts to contain Iran's nuclear programme before the US will offer Delhi help.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that China has just agreed a deal with Pakistan over nuclear technology, is this wise ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:30:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: U.S. airstrikes climb sharply in Afghanistan

The Air Force has conducted more than 2,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan over the past six months, a sharp increase in bombing that reflects the growing demand for American air cover since NATO has assumed a larger ground combat role, Air Force officials said.

The intensifying air campaign has focused on southern Afghanistan, where NATO units, primarily from Britain, Canada and the Netherlands, as well as American Special Forces have been engaging in the heaviest and most frequent ground combat with Taliban rebels since the invasion five years ago.

The NATO forces are mostly operating without heavy armor or artillery support, and as Taliban resistance has continued, more air support has been used to compensate for the lightness of the units, Air Force officials said. Most of the strikes have come during "close air support" missions, where the bombers patrol the area and respond to calls from ground units in combat rather than performing planned strikes.

On a recent 11-hour mission that included a reporter for The New York Times, a B-1 bomber orbited at 20,000 feet, responding to radio calls from American and Canadian troops who asked the plane to use its radar to watch for insurgent forces and to be prepared to drop bombs.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:22:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: Counting the vote, badly

The U.S. midterm elections last week provided a lot of disturbing news about the reliability of electronic voting - starting, naturally, with Florida. In a Congressional race there between Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Christine Jennings, a Democrat, the machines in Sarasota County reported that more than 18,000 people, or one in eight, did not choose either candidate. That "undervote" of nearly 13 percent is hard to believe, given that only about 2.5 percent of absentee voters did not vote in that race. If there was a glitch, it may have made all the difference. Jennings trails Buchanan by about 400 votes.

The serious questions about the Buchanan-Jennings race only add to the high level of mistrust that many people already feel about electronic voting. More than half of the states, including California, New York, Ohio and Illinois, require that electronic voting machines produce voter-verified paper records, which help ensure that votes are properly recorded. But Congress has resisted all appeals to pass a law that would ensure that electronic voting is honest and accurate across the United States.

Fortunately, that may be about to change. With the Democrats now in control of both houses, there is an excellent chance of passing tough electronic voting legislation. Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, had more than 200 co-sponsors for a strong bill before the midterm elections, and support is likely to grow in the new Congress. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who will be chairwoman of the Rules and Administration Committee, which oversees elections, plans to develop a similar bill.

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:24:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With the Democrats now in control of both houses, there is an excellent chance of passing tough electronic voting legislation.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. they are joking aren't they ? The dems won't fix it cos they have no interest in fixing it. The entire voting system is a fraud and always has been and they like it like that. So why fiddle now ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WaPo: Misery Spirals in Burma As Junta Targets Minorities

CAMP EITUTA, Burma -- In a burgeoning encampment here on Burma's eastern frontier, Hay Nay Tha, a 30-year-old mother of three, awakens in the darkness most nights to the sound of her children's screams.

"They keep having nightmares about our journey here," she said.

That journey, Hay recalled, began when she was four months pregnant and government soldiers torched her village and forced local farmers off their land. It ended four weeks later, after her husband died of malaria en route to this camp. She and her children arrived here this summer dehydrated and exhausted. Hay soon went into early labor with a stillborn son.

"To be honest," the copper-skinned woman said, shyly gazing down at her hands, "I am having nightmares, too."

Nightmares of all kinds are rife in this camp, where new clusters of villagers arrive almost daily, a consequence of Burma's largest military offensive against its own people in more than a decade, according to aid groups and Western diplomats. The offensive has targeted minorities such as Hay, a member of the restive Karen ethnic group, which has long maintained a measure of autonomy.

According to estimates by relief groups, Burmese forces have burned down more than 200 civilian villages here in Karen state, destroyed crops and placed land mines along key jungle passages to prevent refugees from returning to their home villages. Dozens of people have died, and at least 20,000 civilians have been displaced over the past eight to 10 months.

"What is now going on in Burma are crimes against humanity," said Sunai Phasuk, head Burma consultant for New York-based Human Rights Watch. "The military government has significantly stepped up their systemic policy of violence against the ethnic Karen with this offensive. We're talking about a mounting disaster."

Burma's military leaders have historically been secretive about their actions. But observers say they are attempting to build a broad security cordon around their new capital near the inland city of Pyinmana, located only a few miles from the border of Karen state. The result has been an extraordinary use of force to clear out existing villages in the area.

[...]

A fiercely independent group of approximately 3 million people, the Karen speak a separate language from most Burmese, use their own ancient writing system and have traditionally opposed the military junta. Two decades of sporadic government campaigns have already driven hundreds of thousands of Karen and other refugees into neighboring Thailand, where at least 150,000 now live in official camps and an estimated 1.5 million dwell illegally.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:28:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bipartisanship Dept.:

WaPo: Bush Choice for Family-Planning Post Criticized

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women."

Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday.

Keroack, an obstetrician-gynecologist, will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are "designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons."

The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, was the latest provocative personnel move by the White House since Democrats won control of Congress in this month's midterm elections. President Bush last week pushed the Senate to confirm John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and this week renominated six candidates for appellate court judgeships who have previously been blocked by lawmakers. Democrats said the moves belie Bush's post-election promises of bipartisanship.

The Keroack appointment angered many family-planning advocates, who noted that A Woman's Concern supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
McJoan comments on kos

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/11/16/1728/2676

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:35:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington Post: Soldier Gets 90 Years in Rape, Killing of Iraqi Girl

An Army specialist who admitted that he and a group of other U.S. soldiers raped a 14-year-old girl and killed her and her family in an Iraqi village was sentenced to 90 years in prison yesterday, by far the longest sentence for a U.S. soldier in connection with the death of an Iraqi civilian since the war began in 2003.

Spec. James P. Barker, 23, could be eligible for parole in 20 years, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that spares him the possibility of a death sentence. Barker has indicated he will testify against other soldiers in the case, some of whom face the death penalty.

Barker yesterday became one of 16 U.S. troops sentenced to prison time for the deaths of Iraqi civilians during the war, and he received a sentence of more than three times the length of the next-longest sentence in any case that has concluded. Two soldiers are serving 25-year sentences in unrelated homicide cases.

This guy needs some serious therapy while he is in prison.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:05:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the point of therapy ? Unless he's planning on beng a fit and active 130 year old.

How about an administration that sends a stupid and inadequate person to somewhere he doesn't understand to suppress a people whose language he can't understand and surround him with a culture of complete lawless unaccountability.

When justice is applied so arbitrarily, it is meaningless. What about the idea of Abu Ghraib ? Guantanamo, Fallujah ? What about all of the casual killings the Americans have done ? Not because they are necessarily wicked individuals, but because their military culture trains them to react in murderous fury at bystanders.

I feel sorry for him. Genuinely. And furious at those who put him there. At a culture, and here I excuse neither UK nor much of Europe, that thinks that freedom can be imposed by force and that resistance to imperialist occupation is terrorism that can only be countered by imposing even more terror.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:41:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Six found dead after Tonga riots
Six bodies have been found amidst debris left by rioting in Nuku'alofa, capital of the Pacific nation of Tonga.

Hundreds of youths destroyed buildings and looted shops on Thursday, in protests sparked by government delays in implementing democratic reforms.

The government has now said new elections will be held in 2008 to elect a more democratic parliament.

Was it worth six lives?

Meanwhile, Tonga has apparently asked New Zealand to send troops to restore law and order.  I am deeply uncomfortable about this. Stopping people from killing one another is one thing, but this smacks of helping to prop up a corrupt feudal regime, and raises the prospect of kiwi troops gunning down Tongans to keep a kleptocrat in power. That is not what we are meant to be about down here...

by IdiotSavant on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:48:24 AM EST
Spiegel Online: A HOT CUP OF MONEY - Starbucks, Ethiopia, and the Coffee Branding Wars

Fine coffee beans may be Ethiopia's most precious natural resource. But Starbucks is standing in the way of the country's efforts to trademark its gourmet product. The row is escalating.

Think you know what's in your coffee cup? It used to be simple: ground coffee beans and water. Now though, your average robusto has given way to a grande double non-fat latte with a shot of vanilla syrup. The 20 cent cup of mud has turned into a $4 coffee experience.

Still, even as coffee has gone upscale, the barista whipping forth your drink still works with coffee beans. How they find their way from plantations to your mug is a quintessential tale of globalization, complete with giant wealthy corporations, poor local farmers and conflicts over who is entitled to what.

The most recent dispute in this economic food chain involves Starbucks and the Ethiopian government. The giant coffee franchise opposes Ethiopia's efforts to trademark the names of its most famous coffee regions Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harar. Starbucks, after all, is already using those names to sell coffee for top dollar across the globe. A clear case of a developing country defending itself against rapacious Western business interests, right? Oxfam, UK-based development agency, thinks so. It is championing Ethiopia's move and has embarked on a massive media campaign accusing Starbucks of keeping the small farmer under its thumb.

"Harar and Sidamo have sold in coffee shops for up to $24 and $26 per pound," Seth Petchers, coffee lead for Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Farmers who grow these specialty coffees get as little as $.60 to $1.10 per pound.... We want to work to find a win-win solution." Oxfam estimates that over time Ethiopia's coffee industry would benefit from an additional $88 million annually were the trade marking plan to go through.


by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Economist Friedman dies aged 94

Nobel prize-winning US economist Milton Friedman has died at the age of 94.

Mr Friedman died in San Francisco, a spokesman for his family said. The cause of death is not yet known.

Mr Friedman, who coined the phrase "there's no such thing as a free lunch", was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1976.

Known as the high priest of monetarism, his ideas gained popularity in the 1980s when they influenced the policies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

'Intellectual'

The leaders were won over by Mr Friedman's idea that the supply of money was the key factor in determining economic growth and the rate of inflation.

Lady Thatcher paid tribute to Mr Friedman, calling him "an intellectual freedom fighter".

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seattle PI:  Stuck between the Hoh and a washed-out road

While on a camping trip to Washington, Hite and a Tampa friend, Kenny Stadelman, became trapped Nov. 6 when last week's floods washed out part of the only road into the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park.

The park service rescued the men, along with two stranded park workers, after two days. But a 75-foot-long, 25-foot-deep section of Hoh Road is gone, and Hite's rental car, along with the workers' private vehicles, remain stuck inside the park.

Federal highway officials are surveying damage at the park, but park officials Wednesday said that no timeline has been established for road repair.

Back in Tampa, Hite's wife, Pat, worries that the couple will "have to pay rent on that car until it can be brought out, probably in the spring."

That would cost Hite an extra $20 to $27 per day for every day the car is trapped.




Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel Online: TWO VIEWS OF AL-JAZEERA INTERNATIONAL - A CNN for the Developing World

On its first day of broadcasting, Al-Jazeera International provided a fast-paced, first-rate lens to the Middle East and Africa. It also proved that it was indeed different from the BBC and CNN -- by ignoring some of the world's most-important news events.

Call it the Un-CNN. Imagine the BBC devoting 24 hours to special coverage of Africa and the Middle East. Picture that and it will give you a sense of the first day of broadcasting for al-Jazeera International (AJI), the English-language cousin of the channel the Bush administration loves to hate.

AJI has the look and feel of the BBC and rival Sky News. The visual identity -- graphics, backdrops, audio stingers, precise English and overall pacing -- are all straight from the BBC. There's an obvious reason for the similarity: Three-quarters of the on-air staff, and most of the management, come from British and American networks.

Al-Jazeera's critics have been waiting with sharpened knives for evidence of anti-American or anti-Israeli bias on the new channel, but none of that was evident in the first day of broadcasting. One thing was apparent, though: A self-conscious, sometimes excruciating, emphasis on being the non-Western voice. Like the old 7-Up campaign that positioned the lemon-lime soda as the alternative to Coca-Cola, al-Jazeera International is perhaps trying too hard to show it does not have the Western-centricism of CNN, the BBC and their counterparts.


by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:20:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
first impressions gleaned from a couple of hours watching al jazeera:

the news coverage the first hour seemed quite generic, with even more flames and explosions than the other main channels, who are also running a lot of smoke'n'fire footage, natch.

maybe it's made for hd tv or summat, but rge images were sirta stretched sideways, and a bit grainy on my 12-year old tv, which shows other channels ok, however.

the other hour i tuned into later was much better, a show called people power, with good interviewing and left leaning thrust.

a welcome relief, as the first hour was very clonelike of the other majors, a tad less overproduced, maybe, but dull and i get way too  much explosion footage anyway on the others already.

no ultra-obvious axe-grinding, but the logo is a bit repellent, suggesting the koran and metallic tubing in a retro sort of stilted animation...

hope there's good bbc-level (at least) discussions, panels, documentaries and 'hard talk' style interviews coming.

grade for first day C+.

any other reviews from et?

'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 Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:51:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: In Certain Circles, Two Is a Crowd

(Cited this in afew's What culture am I from? diary, too, but fascinating enough to put here as well, I thought.)

Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist and the father of proxemics, even put numbers to the unspoken rules. He defined the invisible zones around us and attributed a range of distance to each one: intimate distance (6 to 18 inches); personal distance (18 inches to 4 feet); social distance (4 to 12 feet); and public distance (about 12 feet or more).

[Echoes of kcurie's "separation of three spaces"?]

<...>

According to scientists, personal space involves not only the invisible bubble around the body, but all the senses. People may feel their space is being violated when they experience an unwelcome sound, scent or stare: the woman on the bus squawking into her cellphone, the co-worker in the adjacent cubicle dabbing on cologne, or the man in the sandwich shop leering at you over his panini.

<...>

Preferences differ from culture to culture. Scholars have found that Americans, conquerors of the wild frontier, generally prefer more personal space than people in Mediterranean and Latin American cultures, and more than men in Arab countries.

<...> "There's an idea that you have the right to this space," she said, noting that it was born of a culture that prizes independence, privacy and capitalism.

Dr. Archer tells of a Brazilian man he interviewed who, when speaking to the American waiters with whom he worked, used to casually touch them for emphasis. The man's overtures of friendship toward his co-workers were always rejected and he wanted to know why. So when business was slow he observed how the Americans interacted. And eventually he arrived at this conclusion: Americans hate to be touched.

<...>

Researchers who observed the avatars (digital representations of the humans that control them) of participants in Second Life, a virtual reality universe, found that some of the avatars' physical behavior was in keeping with studies about how humans protect their personal space.

In other words, the digital beings adhered to some unspoken behavioral rules of humans even though they were but pixels on a screen.

The bits about conquering the wild frontiers and privacy and independence and capitalism and so on seems a bit cliché, but maybe there are kernels of truth in these clichés after all?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:02:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Echoes of kcurie's "separation of three spaces"?

I think those three spaces are: familial, work, leisure. E.g., homes, workplaces, and cafés/clubs, as orthogonal places of social interaction (e.g. your partners change and your position is different between the three places). Having the third is usually considered a US-European difference, though there are bars, and I am told that for many Americans, going shopping to the mall on the weekend is a way of life, then again I'm not sure that counts as socialisation. In this context, I am curious how you would classify Japan: does it have Third Places, or do people go out only to consume or only in the framework of work or family relations?

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:12:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having the third is usually considered a US-European difference, though there are bars, and I am told that for many Americans, going shopping to the mall on the weekend is a way of life, then again I'm not sure that counts as socialisation.

I think other Americans will have to chime in here, but I think this is a false dichotomy.  Speaking from my own experience in the U.S., there is plenty of socialization outside the workplace and the family home.  For example, where my family lived -- Minneapolis, Minnesota -- and where I lived -- Austin, Texas -- people go to bars, cafes, plays sports, go on trips together, have home parties... the list goes on and on.  I am sure Minneapolis and Austin are not out of step with the majority of U.S. cities in this.  Not sure how Europeans are different from Americans in this regard.

In this context, I am curious how you would classify Japan: does it have Third Places, or do people go out only to consume or only in the framework of work or family relations?

Japan definitely has Third Places.  The Heisei Recession that followed the Bubble Burst at the end of the 80s disillusioned many people about the end-all/be-all hype about devotion to work and company.  My impression is that people are becoming more self-focused, friend-focused, and family-focused (though the last is rather complicated, as the importance and structure of families is going through some serious changes.)

There are very big differences between older generations -- from 40s and up -- and younger generations.  And between the sexes as well.  Younger generations are definitely creating a Third Space for themselves, whereas older generations (of men, specifically) did not have much social life outside of work: i.e. when they socialized, it was with colleagues, clients, business associates, etc.  A stereotype, yes, but I believe on the whole fairly accurate.

On the other hand, "senior citizens" -- retired people -- are creating a social space for themselves in a huge way. In fact, retired people in Japan are amazingly active and energetic, especially women; they take classes, take up hobbies, go traveling, learn new skills, and are overall in fantastic health.  In short: they have a social space, outside the family and (because they are retired) outside of work.  Just the other day when I went for my daily swimming at my sports club, I was startled by a scuba-diving class that was happening in the pool for the first time.  All the students were women over 60.

If tuasfait is around, he may have a different (and no doubt more accurate) take on this, but I get the feeling that men with so-called "permanent" jobs in their 30s through 50s have the least "3rd Space".  In fact, I would say they have very little Famiy Space as well.  But even that is slowly changing, I think.  It is not unusual to see young couples with babies and small children spending time in the park or strolling in the city or eating in restaurants on weekends.

Well, a chaotic answer, sorry.  In a word, though: Yes.  Japan definitely has 3rd Spaces, across its demographics.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think other Americans will have to chime in here, but I think this is a false dichotomy.

I got this from a diary by an American (the Chris Kulczycki diary Migeru linked), combining it with the suburbanite stereotype.

Thanks for the observations on Japan. I wonder if you can tell something about how younger and retired people relate to each other in these new Third Places: e.g. in a distance-keeping formal way, in a relaxed 'friendly' way, in forming hierarchies?

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:17:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I got this from a diary by an American (the Chris Kulczycki diary Migeru linked), combining it with the suburbanite stereotype.

Sorry, I skimmed that diary too quickly (after seeing Miguel's comment below.)  I thought "Third Places" was a more abstract notion meaning a "space" of socializing outside of family and workplace in general, not actual physical places.

Hmmm, I think he may have a point.  But I have not lived in Europe enough to be able to really compare.  I know my younger brother, who was born and raised in the U.S., really loved Paris when he lived there a couple of years recently for the way he was able to just hang out with his buddies, with little concern or pressure to "be somewhere" at a certain point after a meal, or a meeting, or an event... he developed quite a taste for flâner in cafes, bars, parks, and restaurants.  In contrast, he finds the pace of Tokyo incredibly pressé: everything is time-boxed; everything is time-based, time-delimited (perhaps because time and space are so often metered here, and expensively): dinners, parties, coffees, outdoor hikes, rounds of tennis, rounds of karaoke; everyone is so buys and there is SO MUCH TO DO!  Well, this is coming from a semi-expat in Tokyo, so I should be careful not to generalize to others; but so many people living in this city are from originally from elsewhere, I am sure my experience is fairly common.

So back to U.S. third places vs. European third places...

I don't know.  In the country, in the ex-urbs, surely there are fewer third places.  But isn't it the same in Europe?  Even in U.S. suburbs, there is the proverbial diner -- and yes, the mall -- where kids and young people will hang out, not primarily to eat or shop, but to chill with their potes.  People -- especially youth -- like to get out of the house, not socialize in eachother's homes all the time, in any society, I think.  Definitely need other Americans' input on this.

I wonder if you can tell something about how younger and retired people relate to each other in these new Third Places: e.g. in a distance-keeping formal way, in a relaxed 'friendly' way, in forming hierarchies?

I was thinking of diarying up an experience I had last year when I had a knee operation and had to stay in the hospital for a week afterwards, sharing a room with 5 other (Japanese) men.  It was like a perfect one-set play: five guys, from 23 to 88 years old, all recovering from some sort of painful leg operation, in one room, with NOTHING to do.  It taught -- or rather, reminded -- me the value of shooting the shit.  (And that's what I wanted to diary about: the value, even the necessity, of shit-shooting in a healthy society.)

Connection with older people/younger people relations: I remember being really touched by how everyone looked out for each other, despite the wide-ranging ages, especially for the poor 88 year old guy who though in a lot of pain, did his best to be good company, but would occasionally let out things like, "Ah, am I going to die today?  Or will I make it out of this place?" (I was glad to find out, visiting them after I had left, that he did in fact check out of the hospital and was doing alright.)

Well, a hospital convalescence ward probably wouldn't qualify as a "third place" in Chris's sense.

In general, young people and older people do not congregate in the same third places.  However, often they do mix in hobby groups and clubs.  For example, I sing in a gospel choir (yes, a Japanese gospel choir, and we're pretty damn good... although sometimes due to difficulties with pronunciation, when we sing "Hallelujah, Lord, we praise the splendor of your earth!" it comes out "Hallelujah, Lord, we praise the splendor of your ass!"), and in that choir, we have high school kids up to so-called "senior citizens", and yes, we hang out together after rehearsal, go for dinner and drinks together, even have "home parties" sometimes ("parties" in Japan are usually in restaurants, clubs, or other venues that cost money just to occupy), attend each other's weddings.  While some older people may insist on the traditional "respect your elders" rule, in general I think most of them couldn't care less about it and in fact would prefer to forget the age thing and just be accepted as "one of the gang".  Always depends on the person, but people are quite warm and friendly with one another, certainly very polite and considerate... sure cliques do form, but if there is one thing Japanese people are very good at, it's interacting with exquisite manners and graciousness with one another, even when they may not know each other very well or even dislike each other (this is a phenomenon in every society, but it has a special emphasis in Japanese culture, with a particular word : tatemae/建前)... and it's not because it's a gospel choir, as the vast majority of us are not Christian but rather sing because we just like the music.

Sorry, I'm waiting for an interminable data export process to finish, sipping on a bottle of Cointreau, so I have plenty of time to kill by "shooting the shit"...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For one take on how "family life" got somewhat convoluted in Japan, have a look at this BBC article about "retired husband syndrome".

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ouch.

In a lighter form, this exists in Europe as well. The grand old many of German comedy, Vicco von Bülow aka Loriot, made fun of this situation in the film Pappa ante Portas.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:21:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That must be one damn good movie.  8/10 with 562 votes on IMDB is huge!

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
intimate distance (6 to 18 inches); personal distance (18 inches to 4 feet); social distance (4 to 12 feet); and public distance (about 12 feet or more).

Hmmm, re Bob's and Izzy's discussion about California, I wonder where this is valid. For local application, I'd shrunk these distances to a third for general purpose.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:17:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Echoes of kcurie's "separation of three spaces"?]

Give kcurie what is kcurie's and Chris Kulczycki what is his ;-)

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 04:08:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trés kewl indeed that diary.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 04:26:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris made an important mistake. Semi-public spcaes are not eh only places where we build commhjunities. teh pure publci place (the street) is also a place to build communitites.. witha very important extra.. it is the palce where one can use the most precious and improtant freedom of us all in this errs...

teh freedom to be invisible.. the freedom that nobody bothers us if we do not want...

So.. Chris did not say taht,... eh eh clear?? Chris did not...so please it is ME ME the one in charge here :) :) je jejejejjeejee..

Actually.. for space division manuel Delgado:

Ehtnography of public space

A picture of the guy

Tapies foundation meeting

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 08:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The street is a neglected space in the US, replaced by the mall.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 08:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.. absolutely..

the reason of the right-wing stand on economic issues in America is the reinforce narrative (from all quartets) that depricates and neglects the street trying to force it into a semi-public space (to feel secure)

I particualrly think that it is not so much the lack of semi-public (third places) as the change of the myth surrounding the street when you travel across the pond.

I am fully with you in this.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 08:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also: Cars Cause Libertarianism by Chris Kulczycki
 on January 5th, 2006.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 11:26:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ScienceDaily: Hubble Finds Evidence For Dark Energy In The Young Universe

Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that dark energy is not a new constituent of space, but rather has been present for most of the universe's history. Dark energy is a mysterious repulsive force that causes the universe to expand at an increasing rate.

Investigators used Hubble to find that dark energy was already boosting the expansion rate of the universe as long as nine billion years ago. This picture of dark energy is consistent with Albert Einstein's prediction of nearly a century ago that a repulsive form of gravity emanates from empty space.

Data from Hubble provides supporting evidence that help astrophysicists to understand the nature of dark energy. This will allow scientists to begin ruling out some competing explanations that predict that the strength of dark energy changes over time.

Researchers also have found that the class of ancient exploding stars, or supernovae, used to measure the expansion of space today look remarkably similar to those that exploded nine billion years ago and are just now being seen by Hubble. This important finding gives additional credibility to the use of these supernovae for tracking the cosmic expansion over most of the universe's lifetime.

"Although dark energy accounts for more than 70 percent of the energy of the universe, we know very little about it, so each clue is precious," said Adam Riess, of the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Riess led one of the first studies to reveal the presence of dark energy in 1998 and is the leader of the current Hubble study. "Our latest clue is that the stuff we call dark energy was relatively weak, but starting to make its presence felt nine billion years ago."

To study the behavior of dark energy of long ago, Hubble had to peer far across the universe and back into time to detect supernovae. Supernovae can be used to trace the universe's expansion. This is analogous to seeing fireflies on a summer night. Fireflies glow with about the same brightness, so you can judge how they are distributed in the backyard by their comparative faintness or brightness, depending on their distance from you. Only Hubble can measure these ancient supernovae because they are too distant, and therefore too faint, to be studied by the largest ground-based telescopes.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:35:30 AM EST
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Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that dark energy is not a new constituent of space, but rather has been present for most of the universe's history.

"Discovered", grrr. Rather, confirmed. What's special about "dark energy" is its increase with the expansion of space-time, not its appearance.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 04:58:21 AM EST
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Ferenc Puskás dead

In the fifties, there was a national football team that beat everyone, establishing a record for an unbroken series of wins still valid today, was the first non-British side to breat England at home (6:3 in Wembley), only lost the 1954 finals against West Germany, because of an out-of-form captain, but also because a goal of the latter was erroneously ruled off-side, pushed goals per match averages to levels not seen before or after, its captain shot more international goals than Pelé. (Also see this diary.)

This team was Hungary's "Golden Team", and its captain was Ferenc Puskás.

During the 1956 Revolution, he was in Bilbao, Spain on an away match with his club team, and with other Golden Team members, didn't return home. He came to Real Madrid, where he formed a phantastic duo with Alfredo di Stéfano. Older, he was coach of Panathinaikos Athen, which he led to the European Cup of Champions final in 1971 (there losaing to Cruyff's Ajax).

Both in Madrid and in Athens he was under dictatures, I never read of what he thought about that.

After 1989, he returned to Hungary. He was active in local football, but then became sick, after six years of hospital treatment, he died aged 79.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 04:55:43 AM EST
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dictatures

Dictatorships. I just can't unlearn this Germanism.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:07:33 AM EST
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My respect.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:37:03 AM EST
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KLATSCH
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:49:00 AM EST
Hi Fran. At the airport to grab a flight, so I can drop by earlier than usual.
The Salon looks nice when it's just opening!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:15:43 AM EST
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Yes, it looks so pristine(?), before people mess it up. But I love it when it it is messed up - it then looks so lively. :-)

Have a good trip!

by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:25:57 AM EST
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Here I come messing it up! Morning, Fran!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:35:47 AM EST
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Hi afew! Great thing with a internet salon is that one can start all over again the next day, without having to clean up the mess from the day before.:-)
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:40:09 AM EST
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Good day, Fran.  I gave afew a hand messing up your beautiful breakfast...  (^_-)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:11:44 AM EST
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the Daily Mail:  Lohan comes a cropper on her night from hell

It was the night from hell for Lindsay Lohan at the World Music Awards.

She was visibly upset when the audience booed her every time she took to the stage, she fell down the stairs and was forced to abandon her role as main host of the ceremony.

The 20-year-old actress pulled out halfway through after tumbling down a flight of stairs backstage.

(...)Her role was from then on taken up by the individual awards presenters. Luckily, she was not seriously hurt - she was well enough to go partying afterwards, the only sign of injury a blue sticking plaster on a finger.

(...)But the true spectacle backstage was the freakshow surrounding Michael Jackson. He spent the evening locked in his dressing room with four minders. When it was his turn to go on stage, a blacked-out SUV reversed into the dressing room and ferried him the 100 metres to the stage.

Jacko had been expected to recreate Thriller in his first UK stage appearance for nine years, but R&B star Chris Brown performed it instead. Then a teenage choir appeared, miming to We Are The World. Jacko strolled out halfway through to sing just one line, but his voice cracked and faltered on the high notes. And that was it: exit to boos.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:25:13 AM EST
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Hi Izzy, this Lohan has been in the headlines for a few days now - who is she?
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:27:17 AM EST
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Paris Hilton without the pedigree.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:27:14 AM EST
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Paris Hilton has pedigree?

(sorry, just a rhetorical question...I'm plain sick of the media worship of her and others like her...why? Because she is rich...)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:51:56 AM EST
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Rich she may be, but she wouldn't get nearly the media attention if she looked like Barbara Bush.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:16:02 AM EST
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Come back in forty years and I'm sure it's not going to be all that easy to tell the difference.

Wasn't there a make-over show a year or so ago in the US that proved that the only difference between GirlNextDoor and MicroStarlet was $50-$100,000 a year of personal styling?

Looking at Hilton and Lohan, that would certainly seem to be true. Hilton particularly is certainly not a sexy person - she just looks like she's playing one on TV.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:27:29 AM EST
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What do you think pedigree means?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:52:03 AM EST
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ahem.... what does pedigree mean - I thought that has to do with dogs?
by Fran on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:56:26 AM EST
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Here in the sense of coming from a famous "bloodline" or family... much like a purebred dog or a racehorse.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:19:28 AM EST
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Being an aristo with 'breeding' used to mean you were smarter, or at least more successfully thuggish, than most of your generation.

Apparently now all you need is a hotel chain.

(I suppose that's encouraging for all of us, no?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:29:54 AM EST
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if you can work your way into the capitalist elite...

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:46:36 PM EST
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She's an actress.  She started as a child actress and became very famous working for Disney.  The first time I remember seeing her was in The Parent Trap remake.  She's worked solidly and seems to be transitioning nicely into adult roles.  The difference between her and Paris Hilton, is that LL actually seems to have a lot of talent.

What she has in common with Paris is that they both seem to be living dysfunctional lives in front of the cameras.  Indeed, they both "party" and have taken some of their petty grudges with each other to the press.  They've both had public meltdowns, car wrecks, etc., all documented on film.

What's sad is that they both have achieved some of this notriety by having what, to all appearances, are bad childhoods, also in front of the cameras.  Contrary to what's being said here, Paris is not famous simply for being rich.  She's been in gossip pages since she was... 14?  or perhaps she was 16 and her sister 14, when they were regularly spotted at nightclubs being outrageous and seemed to have no parental supervision.  

They lived in the penthouse of one of the hotels and were driven around the city by chauffeurs.  If the parents weren't rich, the photos would have spawned an outraged public and investigations by child protective services.  Of course, if they weren't rich, the photos never would've been taken.  

Lohan doesn't come from lofty circumstances.  She has a bunch of younger siblings, her mother is a "classic" stage mother and her father is in prison -- neither parent seems to mind making statements to the press.  There's probably a good essay in there somewhere about why the public continues to be fascinated by watching personal tragedy unfold and the differences between watching it happen to the rich and famous as compared to the down and out.

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

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:40:59 PM EST
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