Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Breakfast - November 21

by Colman Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:37:37 AM EST

Looks like Fran isn't going to make it this morning, so gather round the fire in the old barrel there and we'll try and get a kettle going.


Display:
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:38:35 AM EST
BBC News: Anti-gay Latvian MP given key job
The Latvian parliament has elected a controversial anti-gay rights activist as head of its human rights committee.

Janis Smits, who is a member of Latvia's First Party, is a leading figure speaking out against the activities of gay rights groups.

He has campaigned against the introduction of legislation to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

European gay rights activists have condemned the appointment.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:20:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any Latvian lurkers who can explain this curiousity?
by gradinski chai on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:24:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Little wonder for a state where glorification of SS is a state policy, and sizeable percentage of population is denied citizenship rights on ethnic basis.
by blackhawk on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure he'll be hard at work pleasing the Council of Europe.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, ya gotta remember that Tony Blair appointed Ruth (Opus dei, avoids voting on gay issues) Kelly as his Equality minister.

So it's pretty standard behaviour from homphobes


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Russia denies poisoned spy claims
The Kremlin has dismissed as "sheer nonsense" claims it was involved in the poisoning by thallium of a former KGB colonel living in the UK.

Alexander Litvinenko, 41, has been moved to intensive care at UCH hospital after a deterioration in his condition.

The critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin fell ill on 1 November after a meeting at a London sushi bar.

His condition remains serious but stable. Met Police anti-terrorist officers are leading the investigation.

Friends of Mr Litvinenko have alleged he was poisoned because he was critical of the Russian government.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "We cannot comment on the very fact of what happened to Litvinenko.

"We don't consider it possible to comment on the statements accusing the Kremlin because it is nothing but sheer nonsense."

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mary Dejevsky, the Independent's Russian expert, believes it's too easy to blame the Kremlin. she thinks this would be the last thing they need.

She reckons this is more likely to be a plot to discredit Putin using guilt by association.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:44:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English: Berlusconi fraud trial set to open
The trial of Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, on charges of corporate fraud at his broadcasting organisation Mediaset, is set to begin.

Prosecutors say a US firm sold TV rights to two offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi, who allegedly re-sold them to Mediaset at an inflated price to avoid Italian taxes.

Berlusconi had kept a low profile since April's general election defeat to Romano Prodi, but the case involving the broadcast company, controlled by his family, has returned him to the public's attention.

If convicted of the most serious charge, tax fraud, he could face up to six years in jail.

He denies any wrongdoing and has accused his critics of bringing the charges against him for political gain.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:28:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: After Foreigners Take Four Top Book Awards, Is French Literature Burning?

French readers, critics and literary-prize jurors are now paying special heed to these so-called Francophone foreign writers. And one conclusion is that outside voices -- and there are many more than this year's prize-winners -- are offering something absent in homegrown French fiction.

"It is not a coincidence," said Mr. Semprun, a Spanish-born Francophone novelist who is also a member of the Goncourt jury. "These writers are more open to the world, more universal, less navel-gazing than some French writers."

Mr. Audouard said that all too often French novels deal with "my suffering, my pain, my couple, my room."

For this he blamed the continuing influence of the Nouveau Roman, or the New Novel, which, from the 1950s through experimental writers like Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute and Claude Simon, emphasized style over narrative.

"For many in France, style is still the most important factor," he added.

Josyanne Savigneau, a literary critic at Le Monde, said that "compared to the 1960s, the French reading public wants to be told stories, but many French writers prefer to produce texts." For this reason, she noted, relatively few contemporary French writers are published in translation. "When you're following a story, it matters less how it is translated," she added. "But translation is complicated when the text is minimalist and poetic."

Conversely, the strong narrative content of much American and British fiction may well account for its popularity in France. Novels by John Irving, Danielle Steel and Ian McEwan are among current best sellers here, while Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell, Jim Harrison, William Boyd and Paul Auster also have huge followings. In fact, along with the flood of new French-language novels, 207 novels were published in translation this fall.

Yet while American and British novelists fare well here, the number of living French writers who have had a major international impact of late is exactly one: Michel Houellebecq, whose books include, under their English titles, "The Elementary Particles," "Platform" and "The Possibility of an Island." For Ms. Savigneau, there is an explanation. "It's good to have someone who tells stories," she said.

Olivier Cohen, director of the French publishing house Éditions Olivier, also acknowledged that there was a message in this year's literary prizes. "Perhaps it reflects the fact that French culture is less focused on Paris and France and more on the French language," he said. "Some Francophone writers bring what Roland Barthes called `the exoticism of the little difference.' And it must have made a difference with the public and the prize juries."

But he added; "I think French literature is doing better and better. Fifteen years ago, it was in a bad state. But the past 10 years have brought great vitality." He mentioned Jean-Paul Dubois and Jean Echenoz among writers who reflect this new spirit.

Hmmm... my French friends here in Tokyo avid trade amongst each other recent novels by French writers that they pick up on their latest trip back home or receive from friends and family by mail... my impression from listening to them talk about these books was that contemporary French literature/fiction writing is quite active and dynamic: I even though, What a pity that more of these are not being translated into English!

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:32:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we crown foreign writers, it's not a sign that we're open to outside influence and talent, but that we don't have any of our own, and are in decline and irrelevant. I'm sure that if we didn't, if would be our sign of our conservatism, and isolation, and irrelevance.

When in doubt, criticize the French. You'll find plenty of French people to provide all the appropriate quotes.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:53:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole world likes to come to France, drop all their money here, and then go home to criticize it. Criticizing France is our number two industry. And there's no capital investment.
That's why we live so well.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:57:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't tell them. They already know it (there's no such thing as bad publicity?)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've read lots of books by French writers in translation lately. Marie Nimier, Amelie Nothomb, Houellbecq, a few others.

This article rings hollow when you realize that Auster's book are very much in the style of 1960's French "texts" though they do have a storyline.

Mary Higgins Clark and Danielle Steele? Really. That's what the French are clamoring for? And how many literary prizes have they won?

by Upstate NY on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:39:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian: Reid shifts 440 police officers to target illegal immigrants
More than 440 police officers are to be shifted to immigration duties as part of a drive against illegal migrants billed yesterday as an announcement of 800 "new immigration officers" by the Home Office.

The home secretary, John Reid, promised in July to double the number of immigration enforcement officers as part of a plan to rescue his department's immigration and nationality directorate, which was declared "not fit for purpose" after the foreign prisoners scandal.

The Home Office said yesterday the extra 800 staff would boost the number of immigration officers working on enforcement by 25% and would be mainly used in "intelligence-led units" in a drive against the employers of illegal migrants.

But Lib Dem and Conservative politicians complained that the headline figure of 800 new immigration officers was misleading as it included taking 400 police constables and 40 sergeants off the beat to be seconded to deal with the crisis in the immigration service.

But a Home Office spokeswoman said they would be acting as immigration officers after being formally seconded to the immigration service. The police would be vital in bringing their "sophisticated intelligence skills" into the drive against illegal migration. The Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) will also be involved in the drive to target the criminal gangs behind the trade in illegal migrants.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:35:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Targetting immigrants or employers?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:49:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Polish Labor Is Scarce as Workers Go West

This is the "second" Poland, a diaspora of 800,000 Poles estimated by officials here to have left the country since it joined the European Union in May 2004. The exodus is believed to be one of the largest migrations by Europeans since the 1950s, when a wave of Irish crossed the Atlantic to escape poverty.

But in Poland, this huge movement of people has created a labor shortage so severe that the government may not be able to spend the money that is due to begin arriving in January from the European Union for projects like improving roads and the water supply.

"We have a fantastic opportunity to improve our infrastructure because we are due to receive billions of euros starting in 2007," said Bartlomiej Sosna, a construction analyst at the consultant group PMR in Krakow. "But how?"

The Polish Transport Ministry has already allocated some of those funds in its dedication of $38 billion to a road construction program slated to run from 2007 to 2013. But, Mr. Sosna said, "We do not have enough workers to build the roads."

And that, he says, could cost the country more than just improved roads.

"If we don't take up the E.U. funds over a certain period of time, we will have to return them to Brussels," Mr. Sosna said, referring to the site of the union's headquarters. "Do you know what this means? There will be a delay in the modernization of our country."

Going by statistics, it seems odd that Poland is grappling with such a problem. The economy is doing well and is expected to grow by 5 percent this year, while the official unemployment rate is 15.2 percent, one of the highest in the European Union. But as hard as employers advertise, they cannot find enough workers in the construction, engineering and medical fields.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

But as hard as employers advertise, they cannot find enough workers in the construction, engineering and medical fields.

Pay more? You know, market forces in action?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Market forces reduce costs. Don't you know anything?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:03:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv.com: Poland's unemployment statistics artificially boosted

Despite the recent economic boom and growing demand for skilled labour, Poland's unemployment rate poses a main challenge for the country. Yet, the mobility of Polish citizens, living and working particularly in the UK, is not reflected in the country's unemployment statistics scaling down. The current unemployment rate at a level of 15,2% (September 2006), also takes into account Poles who already work abroad but still enjoy unemployed status back in the home country.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski pointed at the problem during the meeting with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on 7 November. While expressing gratitude for the opening-up of the UK job market for Poles following the 2004 enlargement, he expressed concern that those Poles artificially raise the country's unemployment rate.

He said: "These people are registered as unemployed in Poland, so they are living a fiction and raising unemployment figures in Poland while they are doing very nicely in the UK and their unemployment benefits should rightly be sent to London. This is something we would like to do without."

This 'statistical effect' is followed by financial benefits to which Poles working abroad are officially entitled, due to their unemployed status in Poland.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, so it's a statistical problem? Not a real problem like in the stagnant economies of the eurozone?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:22:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not just a statistical problem, according to

Le Monde: Growth and expatriations help employment in Poland

Pourtant, avec ses 2,3 millions demandeurs d'emploi, la Pologne fait toujours figure de plus mauvais élève de l'UE. L'amélioration laisse persister de graves problèmes. Celui, par exemple, du chômage des jeunes : près d'un tiers des 15-24 ans est encore à la recherche d'un emploi. Celui aussi d'une inadéquation entre offre et demande : la Pologne commence à manquer de main-d'oeuvre, notamment dans le bâtiment et les travaux publics. Enfin, celui des disparités régionales.

<...>

  Nevertheless, with its 2.3 million job seekers, Poland is still the slow student of the EU class. Despite improvement, some serious problems persist. For example, youth unemployment: nearly a third of 15-24 year olds is still looking for work. There is also insufficient supply for the demand: Poland is starting to lack workers, notably in construction and public works....

<...>

PROBLÈME NUMÉRO UN

Principal écueil du marché du travail polonais, le chômage de longue durée concerne environ 70 % des demandeurs d'emploi. Il touche une population souvent rurale et peu éduquée qui n'est ni prête ni en mesure de quitter son logement, ou bien le jardinet qui lui sert à cultiver de quoi nourrir sa famille, pour espérer chercher du travail ailleurs.

  THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM

Main stumbling block for the Polish labor market: long-term unemployment affects about 70% of job-seekers. The population it hits is often rural and not very educated, and is neither willing nor able to leave their homes or their small gardens which provide food for their families, in the hopes of finding jobs elsewhere.

"Le chômage demeure le problème social numéro un en Pologne, observe Stanislawa Golinowska, économiste spécialiste du marché du travail. Le pays souffre encore de la restructuration de son économie, notamment celle qui (...) a affecté les secteurs militaire, minier et de l'acier." Pour lutter contre le chômage, le gouvernement a créé un Fonds du travail. Une enveloppe annuelle de 6 milliards de zlotys permet de financer trois cents agences régionales et locales pour l'emploi.   "Unemployment remains the number one social problem in Poland," remarks Stanislawa Golinowska, an economist specializing in the labor market. The country still suffers from the restructuring of its economy, especially of the military, mining and steel sectors." The government has created a Work Fund to fight unemployment. An annual budget of 6 billion zlotys enables the financing of three-hundred regional and local employment agencies.
L'aide européenne est aussi substantielle. "Pour la période 2007-2013, notre programme opérationnel "Capital humain", cofinancé à 85 % par le Fonds social européen, devrait recevoir au moins 9,5 milliards d'euros", note Beata Plonka, du ministère du travail polonais.   European aid is also substantial. "For the 2007-2013 period, our operational program 'Human Capital', which is 85% co-financed by the European Social Fund, should receive at least 9.5 billion euros," notes Beata Plonka, from the Polish ministry of labor.

With so much money slushing around, it seems to me there must be some other reasons for the inability of Polish employers to lure back Polish workers from other countries.

The New York Times article mentions a dearth of workers with the right skills. This might explain why the German and Polish governments are putting together a plan to get unemployed German port workers employed in Poland.

Also, there seem to be some other "labor costs" -- i.e. other than wages and salaries -- that make hiring Polish workers "on the official labor market" too expensive to raise salaries enough to lure ex-pat Polish workers back from abroad. The statement that the work permit system for foreigners in Poland is a "fiasco" suggests that perhaps the requirements for employing Polish workers is a similar headache:

"Polish labor costs are too high," she said. "Employers here say it is now not worth their while to hire on the official labor market. Some resort to the black economy to employ Ukrainians, or Poles for that matter."

Finally, the article mentions one factor that the market may not be able to solve:

And there is one kind of job that is particularly hard to fill in Poland: domestic help for the emerging middle class. Many Polish women will go abroad to be maids rather than serve other Poles.

"Maybe it has something to do with the past, under Communism," [migration expert and sociologist at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw Krystyna] Iglicka said, "when there were no servants, we were all deemed equal, and the working class was supposed to be the leading class."



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Maybe it has something to do with the past, under Communism," [migration expert and sociologist at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw Krystyna] Iglicka said, "when there were no servants, we were all deemed equal, and the working class was supposed to be the leading class."

May be it has something to do with the fact that in some regions of Poland up to 25% of population considered themselves "schlekhta", or (often petty) nobility. Honor would definitely prevent anyone claiming to be descendant of noble predecessors (and thus a proper "Pan" or "Pani") from being seen as providing domestic services to other Poles.

by Sargon on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:48:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting.  Perhaps just as communism suppressed the religiosity of Eastern Europeans, perhaps it suppressed long-harbored pretensions to "nobility".  I wonder how widespread -- and signficant -- this is.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But in Poland, this huge movement of people has created a labor shortage so severe that the government may not be able to spend the money that is due to begin arriving in January from the European Union for projects like improving roads and the water supply.

?? I may be mistaken, but I thought public works projects above a certain size had to be open to bidders EU-wide.

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 Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:57:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the money is funneled through the member States and regional governments. A foreign contractor would presumably have the same problems as a local contractor finding workers. The solution, of course, is to pay workers more (as Jerome says). Isn't that the way it was supposed to work? Improve the lot of the Polish people by letting a bunch emigrate and using EU money to pay higher salaries (as there is less competition for jobs) to those that remain.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:01:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a couple of months those contractors can hire Bulgarian and Rumanian workers flooding for Poland! Cheap as dirt!
by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Poland going to open its borders?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:27:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought they would, saying in so many words "we're not going to behave as weaselly as the rest of the European class last time".
by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Barroso warns on EU energy dominance


Some of Europe's leading energy companies were on Monday warned that they faced hard-hitting action to reduce their dominance over electricity and gas markets.

José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, wants rules on the division of energy groups as part of efforts to ensure that the union's stifled power markets become more competitive. "We intend to propose new measures on ownership unbundling" in a drive to boost the EU's competitiveness and energy security, he told a Brussels conference.

Behind this is concern that when energy-generating companies also own transmission infrastructure, rivals struggle to enter the networks and users lack choice.

Neelie Kroes, EU competition commissioner, wants to force the full break-up of integrated companies, a move that could hit influential groups such as Eon and RWE of Germany. But her colleague Andris Piebalgs, the EU energy commissioner who will draft the legislation, is considering other options, including suggesting Scotland's model as a pan-European template.

(...)

Mr Piebalgs has asked his officials to look carefully at Scotland, whose model came into force in 2005 as an offshoot of Britain's aggressive energy liberalisation programme. There, the two dominant generation companies continue to own power stations and transmission infrastructure.

But crucially they lease transmission assets to National Grid, an independent group that also operates Britain's gas pipelines. This situation means neither Scottish Power nor Scottish and Southern Energy can control access to bar rivals.

Call this reverse paranoia, but I found it strange that there was not a single mention of EDF or GDF in that articles (and others on the same topic in the paper). If they are not criticised, it must mean they have liberalised beyond the dreams of the liberalisers (because otherwise they'd be criticized for their gallic intereference).

Or there is some kind of jockeying under way before the German presidency starts in January.

I find it funny though that Scottish Power's model, which is essentially the same as that of EDF, can be seen as a good example.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:49:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also compare this to yesterday's blustering FT article about Barroso's supposed Green makeover.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:26:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington Post: More Longtime Couples in France Prefer L'Amour Without Marriage
PARIS -- Sandrine Folet and Lucas Titouh have two children, a stylish Paris apartment and a 15-year-old partnership.

They have no intention of getting married.

"We don't feel the need to get married," said Folet, 36, who has known Titouh, 40, since she was a teenager. "I don't know many people in our age group who are married."

In France, the country that evokes more images of romance than perhaps any other, marriage has increasingly fallen out of favor. Growing numbers of couples are choosing to raise children, buy homes and build family lives without religious or civil approval of their partnerships. In the past generation, the French marriage rate has plunged more than 30 percent, even as population and birthrates have been rising.

"Marriage doesn't have the same importance as it used to," said France Prioux, who directs research on changing social trends for France's National Institute of Demographic Studies. "It will never become as frequent as it once was."

Marriage is in decline across much of northern Europe, from Scandinavia to France, a pattern some sociologists describe as a "soft revolution" in European society -- a generational shift away from Old World traditions and institutions toward a greater emphasis on personal independence.

But French couples are abandoning the formality of marriage faster than most of their European neighbors and far more rapidly than their American counterparts: French marriage rates are 45 percent below U.S. figures. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, the marriage rate in France was 4.3 per 1,000 people, compared with 5.1 in the United Kingdom and 7.8 in the United States. The only European countries with rates lower than France's were Belgium, at 4.1, and Slovenia, with 3.3.

The trend in France is driven by a convergence of social transitions in both the demographic and cultural landscapes, including this generation's nearly universal estrangement from religion, especially the Catholic Church; massive migration to urban areas, where young adults are more independent from their families; and a society that has become not only tolerant but supportive of personal choice in lifestyles.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
50% of children are now born out of wedlock, and that percentage is above 60% for the first child.

All the weddings we've been to in recent years took place in the presence of the children of the newlyweds.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:57:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inflammatory question: is marriage good for anything beyond holding together what love can't hold together?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:46:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and in France (wink to ChrisCook) we've moved beyond the traditional structures and towards Limited Partnerships.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:51:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes - visas and residencies :)

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Developments in the far-right rioting vs. police brutality saga (Previous coverage here and linked back from there).

An on-going internal police investigation released its first report:
the report on the first riot, the storming of the state TV building on the night of 18/19 September. The names of those responsible are blackened out, but besides and above material and training insufficiencies, it is clear the commanders were totally inept. A map of one stage:

TÖMEG=crowd (on-lookers, thousands), "Támogató mag"=supporting core (those cheering on, 100-200), "Nagyon aggr..."=very agressive attacking groups (rioters, 50-100). Red is policemen. You see the symbol of thise trapped in the building, and you see that a supporting force tried to get there circling the building -- but the water cannon's water ran out...

The report says

  • police leaders failed to make real action plans and acted ad-hoc, their plans seemed the reproduction of blueprints and contained false data;
  • the TV building was missing on the list of buildings to protect, despite protesters' prior threats;
  • information flow to lower-ranked was insufficient, most glaringly, an operation commander for the units around the TV building was chosen but none of the unit leaders learnt of that, and he himself didn't know who everyone should be under his command and gave up trying;
  • most damagingly, forces were sent uncoordinated, leading to disintegration of units one by one, and even to silly episodes like a unit holding back the rioters on the front stairs being water-gunned by a unit inside the building...

Evidence on the police beating-up of an opposition MP.
As I reported, on 23 October, police pursued rioters 'into' the dispersing crowd of a rally by right-populist main opposition party Fidesz, and in the course of this, a Fidesz leader, Márusz Révész was rubber-bulleted unconscious and/or beaten with batons.

This case developed into an ugly controversy. On one hand, after the initial barely self-aware hospital interview, Révész switched into politician mode, and sought to get the most out of his case -- including wearing his bandages when it was no longer necessary, leading to accusations of faking from the government side. Meanwhile, selective leaks of police tapes implied that police in fact tried to hold back the crowd and called Fidesz leaders to get their protesters out of the way, leading to paranoid government-side claims that Fidesz wanted trouble on their crowd so that police and government can be demonised.

However, now a foreigner sent an amateur video to the attorney of Révész, which confirms the version witnesses told to Révész (who himself suffers from amnesia): it reportedly shows Révész approaching the policemen and protesting while showing his Member of Parliament card (which ensures immunity by law), but the policemen surround him and then beat him up, stopping only when a photographer approached.

Was someone killed on 23 October?
On the last day of riots, rumours spread that a young girl died from the effects of tear gas. Internet news site Index tried to track down the origin, and found it: a man who claimed his daughter died in the events, and got a compensation of €1,200 from his Austro-Hungarian firm. The man wouldn't tell details to the press, and there is no trace of the dead girl in hospital or cementery records, so this is most likely an insurance fraud...


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:11:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cementery

I know I now afew, cemetery...

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

by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:45:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, this should be a diary.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:47:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Done.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:44:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure whether this was not posted here a few days ago. Still, uncommon news.

European Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs

Are streets without traffic signs conceivable? Seven cities and regions in Europe are giving it a try -- with good results.

[European] traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren -- by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs.

A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs. Ejby, in Denmark, is participating in the experiment, as are Ipswich in England and the Belgian town of Ostende.

The utopia has already become a reality in Makkinga, in the Dutch province of Western Frisia. A sign by the entrance to the small town (population 1,000) reads "Verkeersbordvrij" -- "free of traffic signs." Cars bumble unhurriedly over precision-trimmed granite cobblestones. Stop signs and direction signs are nowhere to be seen. There are neither parking meters nor stopping restrictions. There aren't even any lines painted on the streets.

by das monde on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:26:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren -- by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs."
It won't work in France-that's for sure.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:07:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monderman (whose ideas are behind this again) based his philosophy partly on the roundabouts in Paris and the comes first, goes first crossroads in the States.
by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whenever I go into a busy traffic circle in France, I close my eyes and yell "Banzai".

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:03:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...might be overdoing the signs...

by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 01:01:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: A death in Sofia revives memories of a shady past
SOFIA: In a Cold War-style drama in one of the last places in Europe to tackle its Communist-era legacy, the sudden death of the man in charge of a key Bulgarian secret police archive that was about to be declassified has created a political uproar.

The man, Bozhidar Doychev, 61, had served since 1991 as director of the National Intelligence Service archive, which is believed to contain information about the 1981 shooting of Pope John Paul II and the assassination of the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov, as well as records on current officials who may have worked for the secret police.

Doychev was found dead at his desk on Wednesday, shot in the head with his own pistol. But news of the death did not filter out until Thursday, when a London-based Internet news service broke the story. Only on Friday did Bulgarian officials confirm the report, calling his death a probable suicide.

Opposition legislators and commentators immediately contested the official explanation of Doychev's death and alleged that the failure to report it suggested a cover-up. They based their accusations on the fact that the Parliament is preparing to vote on declassifying all of the Communist-era state security files, including the archive of the foreign intelligence directorate overseen by Doychev.

Atanas Atanasov, the former director of the National Security Service and now an opposition legislator, said Monday that Doychev's death so close to the vote had raised "immediate deep suspicion" of foul play.

He said that he connected the death to the forthcoming opening of the files, adding, "Clearly someone is worried that it will become clear that some of them are missing."

Many people believe that Doychev's death was somehow related to destruction of files on behalf of people who want their participation in the former security services to remain hidden.

Bulgaria is the last country of the former Soviet bloc to have reached no consensus on how to deal with its Communist past, specifically the historical record contained in the archive.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One windmill (out of 8) was burnt in this wind farm in France / Aude :
http://www.lindependant.com/actui/article.php?num=1163892881
by balbuz on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:03:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I'm on it (I'll write a story, I mean)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:23:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:38:52 AM EST
New York Times: Rejecting the Draft

Follow-up on Charles Rangel's call yesterday to bring back the draft.

The Times seems to agree with DoDo that a more general form of "national service" (Dodo's term: "civil service") should be available, of which military service would be one option.

Because of the dire situation in Iraq, the Army is indeed having trouble meeting its yearly quota of 80,000 recruits. Yet military leaders nevertheless oppose a draft. They believe you don't get a highly skilled Army by forcing people to serve against their will, and they are right.

The draft would not demonstrate to young people that everyone must do his or her fair share. It is more likely to convince them that the demand for sacrifice is made mainly on those too poor to avoid it. The volunteer force in Iraq has been a truer cross section of America than the force created under the last draft, which ended in 1973, before the end of the Vietnam War. The wealthy and well-connected could get deferments then or assignments to safe alternatives, and many did. While there are plenty of underprivileged in the current force, at least they are there by their own choosing.

The problem with the draft does not lie in the fact that it requires young people to spend some time contributing to the nation's well-being before they embark on their life careers. We wish the president had called for such sacrifices after Sept. 11, 2001, when so many Americans were aching to contribute.

For those young people who do not feel moved by patriotism or propelled by economics to enlist in the military, there should be other options for national service -- like AmeriCorps. These programs need money and attention. Some of the potential candidates for president in 2008 have said the United States should require all young people to devote a year or two to service after high school or college, and that idea should be debated during the upcoming campaign.

But the urgency of the Army's current needs requires a different solution. There are many ways for the armed services to meet their recruitment goals outside of general conscription. After all, the Army's annual quota of 80,000 recruits is barely a drop in the ocean of some 60 million Americans between 18 and 35. Forcing the issue, with a draft, is no solution.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:49:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it's no solution when we can have the poor to fight our wars for us. We just need another good old economic downturn...a good recession...and those ranks will be filling up in no time.

<snark>...<heavy snark>

by gradinski chai on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:27:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The poor are saying "better poor than dead."

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:18:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For those who missed it, this week's Doonesbury addresses the classism implicit in the current US system:



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 Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the urgency of the Army's current needs requires a different solution. There are many ways for the armed services to meet their recruitment goals outside of general conscription. After all, the Army's annual quota of 80,000 recruits is barely a drop in the ocean of some 60 million Americans between 18 and 35. Forcing the issue, with a draft, is no solution.

When there isn't a war on, people are mor likely to enlist. When there is a war, you actually have a fair chance of getting killed.

As with energy policy, instead of focusing on the supply of fresh sldiers we should focus on reducing demand. True defence, forget about "force projection", and no elective wars.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:48:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AP via MSNBC: Six Muslim imams removed from U.S. airliner

Six Muslim imams were removed from a US Airways flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday and questioned by police for several hours before being released, a leader of the group said.

<...>

A passenger initially raised concerns about the group through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways. She said police were called after the captain and airport security workers asked the men to leave the plane and the men refused.

<...>

Three of them stood and said their normal evening prayers together on the plane, as 1.7 billion Muslims around the world do every day, [President of Executive Committee of North America Imams Federation, Sheikh Omar] Shahin said. He attributed any concerns by passengers or crew to ignorance about Islam.

"I never felt bad in my life like that," he said. "I never. Six imams. Six leaders in this country. Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible."

<...>

The six Muslim scholars were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation...

<...>

Hooper said the meeting drew about 150 imams from all over the country, and that those attending included U.S. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minneapolis, who just became the first Muslim elected to Congress. Shahin said they went as far as notifying police and the FBI about their meeting in advance.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:07:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if three guys stood up mid-flight in a plane to pray together, I also might be a little startled, maybe even a little unconfomfortable.  But "raising concerns" about them to the flight staff is somewhat ridiculous.  Would be like "raising concerns" to the flight staff about Hasidim with unusual head-coverings "lurching" in prayer on a flight.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember Hasidim prayer on a Transatlantic flight - a large group congregated together, they blocked both aisles for about 30 minutes, but stewardesses and passengers stomached it without visible complaints. The world is definitely growing less civil.
by Sargon on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:50:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Hassidim could probably still get away with it by crying "antisemite". Not so muslims.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:41:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess the Iraq death toll needs to be an order of magnitude bigger before the Muslims get to complain. Give it a few more years.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:43:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Hassidim could probably still get away with it by crying "antisemite".

Not in Canada.

Of course, he didn't speak French or English; maybe he was crying "antisemite" in Hebrew.

The Jewish group B'nai Brith Canada has offered to help give Air Canada crews sensitivity training.

Maybe the North America Imams Federation should do the same for US Airways.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:30:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.

WTF? If he'd been a Muslim praying the situation would have been ok?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I know.  Unbelievable.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, WTF are you WTFing about?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely that doesn't surprise you.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Imams taking a plane, that has to be a bit treasonous, these days. What were they thinking? After to do that after having met "are you a patriot?" Keith Ellison (who has a suspiciously normal name for a Muslim, I should point out), well, what did they expect?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:00:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They would have had the same problem on the train.

Or if they had driven and stopped at a rest stop along the road to pray.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:09:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: this... I usually don't bother much with Daily Kos anymore, but this diary by Gasonfires caught my eye for some reason, and I actually logged into my account over there so I could recommend it.

At some point, we as Americans are going to have learn to accept that there are risks associated with being alive and that we cannot escape them all, nor should we try.  We are fallible and mortal, and stuff is going to happen to us.  We kill 40,000 people a year on the roads, more or less, probably half of them the victims of drunk drivers.  What do we do?  We lower the blood-alcohol limit to guarantee full employment for DUI defense lawyers and rehab centers while we listen to the booze companies warn us to "drink responsibly" right after they promise us great sex and great wealth if we consume their product.  Hundreds of thousands die agonizing deaths caused by cigarette smoking.  Our response is to slap a warning on each pack of butts.  Those two causes alone drain billions from our economy every stinking year.  And we collectively wink at the problems because they present no "foreign enemy" to be demonized and feared for political gain.

We lost about 3,000 people and a couple of buildings on 9/11.  Very sad, indeed.  I hope it never happens again.  Every reasonable and constitutionally acceptable effort should be made to prevent it from ever happening again.  But if it does, it will not mean the end of America the way that all this airport security, warrantless searching and dehumanizing one another will mean the end of America.

(Don't bother reading most of the comments on the diary, though... dkos is still dkos, after all.)

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:01:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, it's not bilingual, but for comparison purposes...
   
   
   

   
Al Jazeera EnglishBBC News
Iran to hold Iraq summitIran to host Iraq security talks
The Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, is to attend a weekend summit in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iraqi and Syrian officials have denied reports that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, might also attend the meeting.

Talabani's visit follows one by the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in September, when he won a pledge of support for his new government from Iran.

The two leaders are expected to discuss the security situation Iraq, which remains in the grip of sectarian violence.

The weekend summit comes amid speculation that the US might try to involve Iran and Syria in efforts to end the conflict in Iraq.

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani has accepted an invitation from his Iranian counterpart to discuss ways of tackling the violence in Iraq.

Mr Talabani's office said he would meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Saturday. Some reports say Syria's President Bashar al-Assad may attend.

The US has given a guarded response to the prospect of the talks in Tehran.

The Iraqi government has also said Syria and Iraq are planning to restore full diplomatic ties, cut in 1982.


by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:11:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cool idea.  It would be interesting to do such "compare and contrast" double-articles more often.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seconded.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parallel universes...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Question: is the Arab al-jazeera article the same as the English article? I once read a claim that Haaretz was much more balanced in their Hebrew than in their English edition.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The short answer is no, but it's hard to say how different they are.  On TV the two networks have different correspondents, so I assume the Web versions of their stories are different, too.

When I went to the Al Jazeera Arabic version of the story, it was already leading with the latest breaking news, which is the restoration of diplomatic ties between Syria and Iraq.

BBC has that news already too.  (The press conference was maybe half an hour ago.)  And the Al Jazeera English website had the headline and a picture on the front page, but when I clicked thru to the story, I got a server error.  They lose this round.

It's been hard to compare BBC, CNN, AJE and AJ-Arabic directly so far, because most of the AJE coverage for the few days I've been watching has been pre-reported "evergreen" features showcasing their many correspondents in places where BBC and CNN don't have correspondents, like Mogadishu and Harare.  But there's been very little hard news coverage, so it's hard to compare how the networks are covering the same stories.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How different they are, or how they are different?

One thing you could do is post the AJ articles side by side, too.

That would make a great diary: 3 column text, AJ Arabic on the left and BBC on the right, with some commentary.

Maybe that would force any Arabic-speaking lurkers out of the woodwork.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:22:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have time to do the translation... but it is a good idea.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: 'No proof' of Iran nuclear arms

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has not found conclusive evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a US magazine has reported.

Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, writing in The New Yorker, cites a secret CIA report based on intelligence such as satellite images.

Correspondents say the alleged document appears to challenge Washington's views regarding Iranian nuclear intentions.

The article says the White House was dismissive about the CIA report.

The US and Europe say Iran is pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme - a charge Iran has strongly denied.

The CIA assessment, according to unnamed officials quoted in the article, casts doubt on how far Iran has actually progressed to making a nuclear weapon.

"The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency," Mr Hersh wrote.

[...]

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino criticised the article, calling it an "error-filled" piece in a "series of inaccuracy-riddled articles about the Bush administration".

"The White House is not going to dignify the work of an author who has viciously degraded our troops, and whose articles consistently rely on outright falsehoods to justify his own radical views," she was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

It says the agency based its conclusions on technical intelligence, such as satellite photography and measurements from sensors planted by US and Israeli agents.



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 Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article says the White House was dismissive about the CIA report.

You know what Rumsfeld said about Iraq: the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:40:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, what Rumsfeldt should have said was that he suppressed the evidence of absence so's they could do what they wanted.

They're just doing it again, they wanna bomb Tehran and they'll screw the evidence around till they can make their case.

Seems like the CIA ain't gonna get fooled again on this one and are fighting back.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:01:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NY Times: Israeli Map Says West Bank Posts Sit on Arab Land
JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 -- An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians.

Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and only takes land there legally or, for security reasons, temporarily.

If big sections of those settlements are indeed privately held Palestinian land, that is bound to create embarrassment for Israel and further complicate the already distant prospect of a negotiated peace. The data indicate that 40 percent of the land that Israel plans to keep in any future deal with the Palestinians is private.

The new claims regarding Palestinian property are said to come from the 2004 database of the Civil Administration, which controls the civilian aspects of Israel's presence in the West Bank. Peace Now, an Israeli group that advocates Palestinian self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, plans to publish the information on Tuesday.

This might make an interesting diary.  If I have time later, I'll try to find the Peace Now report.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It wouldn't make any difference if it was 100%. They've nicked it and they're not giving it back.

Their view is probably that the untermenschen must have freely donated it to them as they are so pure and fair and true that they could not possibly have stolen it by intimidation or force of arms.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Pressure grows on US rendition policy


Secrets of the CIA "rendition" programme, exposed through overseas investigations and damaging legal cases, have prompted an internal review of the policy and methods used by the US to seize and interrogate terror suspects abroad.

Human rights organisations are also adding to pressure on the US over its detainee policy, demanding that Washington account for scores of "disappeared" people whose whereabouts are unknown.

(...)

US officials privately acknowledge that they are trying to minimise political fallout from renditions, just as the US has been forced to confront the issue of torture, secret prisons and detention without trial.

(...)

In spite of denials by European governments of involvement in illegal abductions, Amnesty International has named seven governments that should be held to account for their part in renditions: Bosnia, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

The US Congress, to be under Democratic control from January, is getting restive. Senator Carl Levin, the next head of the armed services committee, promises action on renditions.

"I'm not comfortable with the system," he told reporters. "I think that there's been some significant abuses which have not made us more secure but have made us less secure and have also, perhaps, cost us some real allies, as well as not producing useful information. So I think the system needs a thorough review."

(...)

"Clearly they [the US] are chastened but they don't want to publicly admit they were wrong and won't do it again. They understand it is not good to be seen to be kidnapping," Mr Malinowski commented.

Read the whole thing.

Note that, like with our energy policies (where we're not trying to cut the problem, i.e. demand, but only tryign to build up supply), we are ignoring the problem (torture) and focusing on something else (the appearance of doing something bad)


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:21:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that, like with our energy policies (where we're not trying to cut the problem, i.e. demand, but only tryign to build up supply), we are ignoring the problem (torture) and focusing on something else (the appearance of doing something bad)

Well, I suppose in this case we should be happy the politicians care so much about our opinion that they're afraid of looking bad. Certainly morals alone won't move them to tackle rendition.

Rendition facilitates torture. If it can be made taboo - for whatever reason - that's an improvement.

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 Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:47:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Silicon shortage hits solar power hopes


The fragile economics of solar power could be thrown into jeopardy by a severe global shortage of the basic material used to convert the sun's rays into electricity.

Industry experts warn that a worldwide shortage of poly-crystalline silicon will not ease in 2008, as some expect, but could continue for at least another five years.

Solar projects will either have to be abandoned, or governments will have to pay billions of additional dollars in subsidies.

(...)

Average polysilicon prices, which have doubled in the past 20 months, are expected by some to rise by about 30 per cent over each of the next three years.

(...)

Polysilicon, used to make silicon chips and photovoltaic (solar) cells, is in short supply because of the voracious demand of the booming semi-conductor industry and the rapidly expanding solar sector.

The latter has grown rapidly through large-scale government-backed solar programmes in Germany and Japan, and solar equipment now consumes about half the polysilicon produced.

Global production of solar batteries grew by 47 per cent by volume during 2005, and the pace is believed to have quickened in 2006.

(...)

Jeff Osborne, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, said the uncertainty of silicon supply threatened the economics of solar power for the rest of the decade, and predicted that its growth as an alternative energy source would be stunted.

"Expectations that the polysilicon supply shortage will ease in 2008 are overly optimistic and we do not expect supply/demand equilibrium until after 2010," he said.

Anyone know anything about the industrial process need to produce polysilicon?


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A little more information here:

The main trouble in the polysilicon industry has been a lack of significant investment in recent years. Polysilicon makers were burned during the last chip industry downturn, when polysilicon prices slumped. This time around, they've been far more cautious about building expensive new plants. Investment has picked up, but it will still take time for the shortage to ease.

"It takes two and a half to three years to build a polysilicon facility," said Hodess, predicting that the shortfall will last until 2008.



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 Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been hearing the same: producers are building new raw silicon factories like mad, but can't catch up with growth in demand.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AP via Seattle Times: Mexican leftist Lopez Obrador to swear self in as head of parallel government (November 21, 2006)
Andrés Manuel López Obrador launched a parallel government Monday and swore himself in as Mexico's "legitimate" president, a ceremony the leftist hopes will keep alive his protests to undermine the man who defeated him at the polls.

The inauguration ceremony is the latest chapter in López Obrador's unsuccessful battle for the presidency. He claims fraud and dirty campaign tactics were responsible for President-elect Felipe Calderón's narrow victory in the July 2 vote, and his parallel government could spend the next six years calling for street protests that have already dented the economy and prompted travel warnings from the U.S. Embassy.

While the red, green and white presidential sash draped across López Obrador's shoulders Monday lacks legal recognition, he hopes to assume the moral leadership of millions of poor Mexicans.



Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On Youtube via Escolar.net:

I don't want to hear anything else about rotten apples or supporting the troops.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<covering mouth with my hand, tears running down>
I´ll never be strong enough for voluntary cruelty.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:20:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Via google news, after seeing it on EL Pais...

OhMyNews: Al Qaida: The Iraq Trap (2006-11-18)

New book suggests terrorist group tricked the U.S into war

This brought the interviewer to ask about the top Al Qaida operative Iban al Shakh al Libby, who, when captured revealed the intelligence that Colin Powell presented to the U.N. in the run up to the Iraq invasion. Nasiri said that al Libby was accomplished in the training techniques of remaining calm and telling the enemy what they want to hear under interrogation. Evidence emerged recently that the intelligence from al Libby that formed the basis for the Iraq war was part of a confession extracted under torture in a CIA prison in Egypt. When Nasiri was asked what al Libby would do if tortured, Nasiri said, "he would lie."

Nasiri went on to suggest that, before the Iraq war, Al Qaida had wanted to draw the U.S into invading a Middle East Muslim country, and said that Iraq was believed to be the weakest. Given the long running battle between the U.S. and the U.N. as to whether Saddam's reluctance to cooperate with weapons inspectors was strong enough evidence that he was concealing an active WMD program, and given that U.S. neocon plans for an Iraq invasion since 1998 were almost common knowledge. It is easy to see that the intelligence al Libby provided on Al Qaida links with Saddam were --knowingly-- exactly what the enemy wanted to hear, and according to Nasiri, exactly what Al Qaida wanted the U.S to believe.



Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 09:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC news: Lebanese Christian leader killed (21 November 2006)
Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a Maronite Christian leader, has been killed in the capital Beirut.

Mr Gemayel, a leading anti-Syrian politician, was reportedly shot in the street in a Christian suburb and rushed to hospital, where he died.

His death comes amid a political crisis in Lebanon, following the resignation of six pro-Syrian cabinet members.

Does anyone know what was said about Gemayel during the Lebanon crisis this summer, and in its immediate aftermath?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 09:55:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it may run deeper than his actions then. The Gemayel family always gave the leaders to the Lebanase Phalangist movement and later the Israeli invasion and occupation. His an assassination attempt on his similarly named grandfather started the civil war, his uncle was made PM during the Israeli invasion and later assassinated, his father was PM afterwards. He himself seems to have been a bland politician without weight.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 10:19:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not asking about his actions, but what was said about him. For some reason this murder doesn't entirely surprise me.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 10:27:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't remember anything, and I don't find much about him except telling the international press how much of Lebanon's industrial base was destroyed by Israel.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 10:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is seriously bad news... !! I've been following Lebanese politics fairly closely over the last few months, have a lot of material on recent developments plus background so I'll open a new diary on it, OK?  

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 11:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 11:10:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Done! New diary up:

Lebanon: the shooting of Gemayel

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:58:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Peace deal ends Nepal's civil war (21 November 2006)
The government of Nepal and Maoist guerrillas have signed a historic peace accord, declaring a formal end to a 10-year rebel insurgency.

Under the deal, the rebels will join a transitional government and their weapons will be under UN monitoring.

Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses in fighting that has left more than 13,000 people dead.



Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 11:34:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:39:23 AM EST
This could probably go in the "World" category, but I felt like something should be here....

BBC News: Ministers to sign fusion accord

An international consortium is set to sign a formal agreement to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor.

The multi-billion-euro project - known as Iter, or "the way" in Latin - will aim to produce energy from nuclear reactions like those that fuel the Sun.

The deal, to be finalised in Paris, follows years of talks between South Korea, Russia, China, the EU, the US, India and Japan.

The project will be based at Cadarache, France, and run for more than 30 years.

If all goes well, officials then intend to build a demonstration power plant before rolling the technology out to the world.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:40:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Detroit Free Press: TEEN GOES NUCLEAR: He creates fusion in his Oakland Township home

... on www.fusor.net, the Stoney Creek senior is ranked as the 18th amateur in the world to create nuclear fusion. So, how does he do it?

Pointing to the steel chamber where all the magic happens, Thiago said on Friday that this piece of the puzzle serves as a vacuum. The air is sucked out and into a filter.

Then, deuterium gas -- a form of hydrogen -- is injected into the vacuum. About 40,000 volts of electricity are charged into the chamber from a piece of equipment taken from an old mammogram machine. As the machine runs, the atoms in the chamber are attracted to the center and soon -- ta da -- nuclear fusion.

Thiago said when that happens, a small intense ball of energy forms.

He first achieved fusion in September and has been perfecting the machine he built in his parents' garage ever since.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I said when we discussed this last time (summer 2005 IIRC), too little too slowly.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:36:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Umm, apart from being enormously expensive, waht's the advantage of fusion. After all, it totally irradiates the containment vessel, leading to several hundred tons of highly radioactive material that has to be replaced every so often.

All for an unproven technology.

this is another of them there politician's vanity projects. I'm with Jerome, cut down on waste and diversify energy supply.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Technology Review: Efficiency Jump for White OLEDs

Microscale lenses and better materials move OLEDs closer to lighting our world.

n an advance that could hasten the day when energy-efficient glowing plastic sheets replace traditional lightbulbs, a method for printing microscopic lenses nearly doubles the amount of photons coming out of the materials, called organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

Stephen Forrest, an electrical engineer and vice president of research at the University of Michigan, says his technology increases the light output of the thin, flexible OLEDs by 70 percent. "They just create local curvature that allows light to pass through," he explains.

This means that OLEDs, which are currently used for superbright color displays in a number of applications, are getting closer to being competitive as white-light sources too. "It's a significant benefit, because the one big challenge in OLEDs is coming up with ways to get light out of them," says Vladimir Bulovic, head of MIT's Laboratory of Organic Optics and Electronics. "There's a lot of light in the OLED that never makes it out."

The benefits could be substantial. Sandia National Laboratory projects that if half of all lighting is solid-state by 2025--that is, made up of OLEDs and their technological cousin, LEDs made from inorganic semiconducting materials--it will cut worldwide power use by 120 gigawatts. That would save $100 billion a year and reduce the carbon dioxide emitted by electrical plants by 350 megatons a year. And OLEDs would offer more variety in lighting design, since they would take the form of flexible sheets.



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 Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Cheap debt drives "merger mania"


Companies and investors around the world announced deals worth more than $75bn in a 24-hour period, driven by the commodities boom, the globalisation of financial markets and the protracted availability of inexpensive debt to finance takeovers.

From mining to commercial property to exchanges, entire sectors are being reshaped as deal volumes hover around their previous peak during the internet bubble six years ago.

(...)

The flurry of deals has bolstered revenues at investment banks that rake in large fees from advising on mergers and arranging financing for leveraged buy-outs.

However, there are concerns that the current dealmaking cycle may be unsustainable. In the event of an economic downturn, companies that were taken over by private equity groups may have trouble servicing their higher debtloads. Higher default rates could lead to a wider slump in the credit markets, whose strength has underpinned the M&A frenzy.

I have seen some truly insane transactions. Some of these WILL crash. The question is how many, and when.


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of these WILL crash. The question is how many, and when.

I just listened to a radio program on "the return of leveraged buyouts", and two of the guests said the exact same thing.

How exactly do people get themselves suckered into these deals?  Are they just blinded by greed?  Or does greed simply make them just gullible enough to fall for the charlatanism of these private equity groups?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:41:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How exactly do people get themselves suckered into these deals?

An investment banker from the "Mergers and Acquisitions" department comes along and says "psst, hey, I can loan you the money to take that other dude over". It's a high-flying scam. To paraphrase Chris Cook, if we did it we'd end up in jail.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:49:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And will we have to foot the bill.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Naturally,  people get very very large bonuses for dumping this crap on everybody's heads.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:26:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:39:54 AM EST
I wish I could spell.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish I could do math.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 02:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish I could juggle kittens,

but not only do my skills conspire against me, but so do the kittens, it dosent help to hve balls that cling on when you try to throw them.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:39:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rather than give everyone a 4, can I just say

Great news roundup today!

For those who like a tipple, I'll pour youze all a glass of top notch homemade bulgarian rakia--to keep the chills away.

For those who'd rather something non-alcoholic, a cup of hot chocolate, or a nice cup o'tea (green or brown or any colour you prefer), or whatever you'd like.

Cheers all!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:54:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]