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

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 24 November

by Fran Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:31:43 PM EST

On this date in history:

1859 Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.

The first printing of 1,250 copies sells out in a single day.

More on his work and his bio


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 Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:34:53 PM EST
IHT: Magic in the classroom

OULU, Finland: In this town of 120, 000 people, one not only feels the bitter cold but also the white heat of the technological revolution. As well as the principal research and development offices of Nokia and 800 other high-tech companies, there are probably more Ph.D.s per square meter in this compact old paper-milling town than anywhere else on earth.

This astonishing intellectual creation can be laid at the feet of the Finnish educational system, considered by all who survey it, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as possessing the best school system in the world. Finland is also reckoned to be in the top three of the world's most competitive countries.

Why? "Teachers are respected," says Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. "High talent is attracted into teaching. It is considered to be one of the most important professions."

How did Finland get to such a happy state of being? Tapani Ruokanen, editor of Finland's leading news weekly, Suomen Kuvalehti, argues that it goes back to the 18th century, when Lutheran bishops wouldn't allow anyone to marry unless they could read the Bible. Then in the 19th century there was a series of strong revivalist movements, which led to the creation of a flurry of newspapers and magazines.


by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Teachers are respected," says Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. "High talent is attracted into teaching. It is considered to be one of the most important professions."

So it should be. Salary, career prospects, and training (initial and career-long) should reflect that respect. Finland has developed a virtuous circle over the generations (unfortunately this is not something that can be decreed overnight, which is why politicians don't bother with it). In France, teaching is considered a mediocre profession and too many teachers go into the profession only for job security.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what are class sizes like in Finland ? In the UK figures of 25 + are standard and 30+ becoming increasingly common. With increasingly culturally unco-operative attendees teaching is degenerating into crowd control.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:31:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends very much on the school and the town. I went to a large school in Helsinki and we had something like 32 students per class, but we were divided into smaller groups for certain subjects such as math or languages. Class sizes larger than 30 are not uncommon, though.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 10:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Blair plans new social contract - Agreements between individuals and state on heath, schools and police

A new contract between the state and the citizen setting out what individuals must do in return for quality services from hospitals, schools and the police is one of the key proposals emerging from a Downing Street initiated policy review.

Examples include an expectation that a local health authority will only offer a hip replacement if the patient undertakes to keep their weight down. Parents might also be asked to sign individually tailored contracts with a school setting out what the parents must do at home to advance their child's publicly-funded education.

The police might also promise to achieve a specific response time in a local area, so long as an agreement is struck on the local law and disorder priorities. The aim is to build on the government's rights and responsibilities agenda, and papers released yesterday by the Cabinet Office speak of seeking "a new more explicit contract between the state and the citizen on agreed public outcomes".

Mr Blair set up the six cabinet-level policy reviews a month ago, and has made a major presentation to cabinet setting out the challenges facing the country over the next decade.

by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:46:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This raving control-freak is going to do a lot of harm before he finally steps down.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:21:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry. It's just like everything else Blair says on such topics. It's all talk to get him a cheap headline, like the supernannies thing of a couple of days ago.

It will only happen if Gordon opens the coffers of the Treasury and I see no sign of that.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does all this work?
What about situations where things are genuinely out of an individual's control?  They lose all their rights as a citizen because they've broken a 'contract'?

What the hell is going on with that man?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 02:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For example - if you're a Prime Minister you make a contract to serve your country with honour.

So if a policeman finds that you've been selling honours for cash, you go to jail. Or perhaps move to Paraguay.

And if you do anything as silly as that and lose all your pretensions to being hip, you won't get a free hip replacement on the NHS.

Looks good to me.

(And now if you'll excuse me I'm going to check just what exactly was in my tea this morning.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 07:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we're going to have to take a look at the terms of your contract.

Don't worry, just routine.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 08:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Moscow dossier embarrasses US and Britain ahead of Riga summit

· File shows that UK backed Russia's Baltic occupation
· Kremlin seeks to open rift among Nato members

In a move likely to inflame tensions ahead of next week's Nato summit in Latvia, Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, yesterday declassified documents claiming that Britain and the US had approved of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states a year before Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

Received wisdom has it that the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, was deeply ambivalent about Moscow taking control of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1940. But the editor of the 400-page dossier, Major General Lev Sotskov, told the Guardian it demonstrated that the UK and US "perfectly understood" that the region was needed as a buffer zone for the inevitable moment when Nazi Germany would break its non-aggression pact with Moscow and attack the Soviet Union.

Gen Sotskov said the documents proved that American and British leaders were often divided over their position on Soviet troop movements and their "public declarations clashed with internal assessments". But Soviet intelligence showed that Churchill decided it was a pragmatic move not to confront Moscow's occupation of neighbouring territory, which ended with the Nazi invasion of the Baltics in 1941. "Churchill realised this was the only way," he said. "He saw it as a not very pleasant but necessary step to prevent Germany from further intrigues and advance."

The fact that Germany's strike at the Soviet Union ran out of steam later in the war was partly because it had to cross the Baltics, thus justifying Churchill's reasoning, Gen Sotskov said.

by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:52:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, the UK and France also hung Spain out to dry. Where's the surprise?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:05:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Nato goals reduced as Afghan woes grow

Nato's difficulties in Afghanistan have forced the alliance to scale down its ambitions for a showpiece summit next week and raised questions about its ability to get to grips with the insurgency in the country.

The summit in Riga, Latvia, was intended to focus on the 26-nation alliance's "transformation" into a 21st century political and military organisation, with more deployable forces and global reach.

A classified document obtained by the Financial Times, and due to be endorsed by leaders, maps out new ambitions for the next 15 years, including development of the ability to carry out more than one big operation at once.

But the meeting will now be overshadowed by Afghanistan, where more than 30,000 troops are under Nato command. It is Nato's biggest mission and the first in which it has been involved in ground conflict.

Tony Blair, British prime minister, said this week that "the future in the early 21st century of the world" was at stake in the conflict in Afghanistan. But in spite of appeals to Nato solidarity and months of US-UK efforts to persuade more countries to send troops to the country's turbulent south, Nato officials say the Riga summit is highly unlikely to provide a big new commitment.

by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:01:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Ségolène win fires up 'grandfather' Chirac

President Jacques Chirac has convinced himself that he is the only politician on the French right who can defeat the Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal, in next year's presidential election.

Although he has not yet decided whether to run for a third term,M. Chirac, who is 74 next week, believes that only a "grandfather figure" can take on and deflate the pretensions of the "mother figure", Mme Royal.

A senior source on the French centre-right, close to M. Chirac, has told The Independent that Mme Royal's crushing victory in the Socialist "primary" last week has rejuvenated his appetite for political combat.

M. Chirac will therefore intensify his efforts in the next few weeks to trip up his Interior Minister and former protégé, Nicolas Sarkozy, the man who has long appeared certain to succeed him as leader of the French centre-right and candidate for the governing party in next spring's elections.

by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:06:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
President Jacques Chirac has convinced himself that he is the only politician on the French right who can defeat the Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal, in next year's presidential election.

Oohh, whoever it was that suggested that Chirac might yet try to eat his own children was spot on.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:07:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's sad to see them print this so uncritically, as absolutely no one, including Chirac himself, believes for a second that he will stand again.

Various polls have shown that 1 or 2% only of the French would vote for him if he were candidate.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:28:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm glad you replied to this, cos I read the headline twice before I realised what they were trying to say and thought it unlikely.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:33:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nzherald: Italy's Berlusconi to be investigated for vote rigging

ROME - Prosecutors in Rome have launched an investigation into claims that Silvio Berlusconi tried to electronically rig Italy's April general election.

The claims are contained in an investigative report released today in video form with a weekly political review, Il Diario.

Last April's election marked the first time that electronic voting machines were used in Italy, not to do the initial counting but to collate results arrived at by manual counting at the different polling stations.

The vote was extraordinarily close, and it was not till late in the morning of the day after the election that the centre-left announced that it had secured enough seats in both houses to form a government.

Silvio Berlusconi refused to recognize the centre-left's victory, and for weeks afterwards claimed that the election had been stolen by the opposition's skulduggery in the polling stations.

The film claims that there probably was skulduggery, but that it was all on Mr Berlusconi's side: after all, as the editor of Il Diario, Enrico Deaglio, points out, Mr Berlusconi and his allies were in power and in control of the Interior Ministry, which polices elections.

by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:10:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An investigation was already opened by PM Salvatore Vitello after Berlusconi's innumerable rants about voter fraud by the opposition. Vitello will now handle the claim made by Diario in the DVD "Uccidete la Democrazia!" (Kill Democracy!)

The film is based on the book "Il Broglio" (The Fraud) which I reviewed here and here last June. I had also mentioned the possibility of voter fraud in a comment of April 6th.

The DVD hit the stands this morning after a publicity campaign that culminated in a preview projection for the House of Deputies. The actual opposition is up in arms. Former Minister of the Interior, Beppe Pisanu, has announced he sill sue the authors of the film- which is exactly what Diario wants.

Most announcements of suits finish on the front page without a follow-up- a classic PR ploy. However, in this case it is now a matter of notizia criminis and must be investigated by law.

This case exemplifies the power of the electronic media. The book went unnoticed. The film is causing an uproar.

I have yet to see the film but from reviews it further develops themes in the book. Basically, there was an utter and uniform collapse of blank votes on a national level. This appears to be statistically improbable as blank votes vary locally. In the general elections of 2001 there were over 1,600,000 blank votes that varied locally from 2% to 8%. In the 2006 elections blank votes fell to nearly 400,000 with uniform distribution.

The authors of the film interviewed Clinton Curtis who is involved in a controversy concerning the Florida elections that saw Bush take the state. According to reports Curtis wrote a program that would effectively count blank votes as Berlusconi votes without anyone catching on. Curtis is considered a controversial character though.

Unfortunately for now there is negative but suggestive evidence. We will see how the case develops. Stay tuned.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 02:14:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The PM in "PM Salvatore Vitello" stands for "Procura di Milano", right?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:01:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it stands for pubblico ministero = public prosecutor.

But de Gondi might consider to spell it out at other times due to the consusion with the common English acronym for Prime Minister.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:29:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, DoDo. Will do so in future.

I think the more important news out of Italy is the annual budget law that passed the Senate yesterday without the crucial votes of the Life Senators. It was very important for the Prodi coalition and the financial health of ailing Italy- and substantiates Berlusconi's private dinner conversation reported here the other day that the Prodi coalition will hold.

Another news item is the death of Litvinenko in London last night. eternalcityblues has a good diary on the Litvinenko poisoning.  

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:04:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes and as his death-bed testament is all over the headlines and will make huge waves including/especially at EU/Russia level I'll update - useful to have an ongoing thread already up with all the previous background.

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 08:54:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is an interesting and long piece in the Evening Standard today hidden behind the "the Kremlin did it" headline.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the Link to eternalcityblues diary.
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 10:31:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Monde: Ségolène Royal converts her region to micro-credit

Between her "participatory democracy" initiative and now this idea to provide microcredit loans to people for urgent personal needs (serious accidents, residential problems, buying indispensable materials for work projects, etc.) in her region, I am starting to really like Ségolène Royal.

(English below original.)

S'il est fréquent de voir les régions financer l'économie sociale, et notamment la création de micro-entreprises par des chômeurs, il s'agit, en revanche, de la première grande initiative publique en matière de distribution de "micro-crédits" finançant des besoins personnels d'urgence (liés à un accident de la vie, à un problème de logement, à l'achat d'un matériel indispensable à un projet professionnel...).

<...>

Alors qu'il envisageait de se doter de sa propre banque pour distribuer ces crédits, le conseil régional a finalement décidé de s'appuyer sur les réseaux bancaires existants et déjà actifs dans l'économie sociale (Crédit mutuel, Crédit agricole, Caisses d'épargne,...).

<...>

Dans une note de travail datée d'octobre, le conseil régional de Poitou-Charentes s'inquiète de la paupérisation "des travailleurs et d'une partie de la population de Poitou-Charentes". Des données pour 2004 "issues d'une étude en cours de l'Insee" font état de chiffres jugés préoccupants dans cette région plutôt rurale de 1,6 million d'habitants.

Quelque 200 000 personnes, soit 12,5 % de la population régionale, y vivraient sous le seuil de bas revenus (désormais fixé à 788 euros par mois), parmi lesquelles un grand nombre d'individus "qui, pourtant, exercent une activité professionnelle".

Selon cette note, 22 % des moins de 20 ans en Poitou-Charentes vivraient dans des familles à bas revenus. La région recense, par ailleurs, 30 000 bénéficiaires du RMI-RMA et, pour la seule année 2004, 4 000 cas de surendettement traités par la Banque de France.

Appréciée par les associations du secteur social, l'initiative de l'exécutif régional l'est beaucoup moins des banquiers. Ceux-ci se montrent très agacés par le discours de la présidente de la région, qui n'hésite pas à dénoncer publiquement leur incurie en matière de lutte contre l'exclusion financière et à les mettre en demeure d'agir.


One often sees regions financing the social economy, in particular the creation of microenterprises by unemployed people, but in contrast this is the first major public initiative involving the distribution of "microcredits" financing urgent personal needs (related to accidents, residential problems, purchasing indispensable materials for a professional project, etc.)

<...>

Although it was planning to set up its own bank to distribute the credits, in the end the regional council decided to rely on existing banking networks already active in social economy (Crédit mutuel, Crédit agricole, Caisses d'épargne, etc.)

<...>

In a memo dating from October, the regional council of Poitou-Charentes fretted about the impoverishment of "the workers and of a part of the population of
Poitou-Charentes".  Data for 2004 "from a study at the INSEE [perhaps the one referred to in this article?] provide figures which are considered worrying in this rather rural region of 1.6 million inhabitants.

Some 200,000 people, or about 12.5% of the regional population, are thought to live under the low income threshold (fixed from now at 788 euros per month), of which a large number of individuals "nevertheless are engaged in a professional activity.")

According to this memo, 22% of those under 20 years of age in Poitou-Charentes are living in low-income families.  In addition, the region counts 30,000 people as receiving unemployment subsidies [RMI-RMA], as well as 4000 cases of over-indebtedness just in the year 2004.

The regional executive's initiative, while appreciated by organizations in the social sector, is much less so by the bankers.  These latter appear very annoyed by pronouncements of the regional president who does not hesitate publicly to denounce their carelessness regarding the fight against financial marginalization and to put them on notice accordingly.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:30:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The regional executive's initiative, while appreciated by organizations in the social sector, is much less so by the bankers.  These latter appear very annoyed by pronouncements of the regional president who does not hesitate publicly to denounce their carelessness regarding the fight against financial marginalization and to put them on notice accordingly.

Excellent, can I vote for Segolene ? With one leap she has convinced me that she wants to take France in a new and exciting direction.

By siding with microcredit against the financial establishment she's making powerful enemies, but France is a great place for such a bold import into the west.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was sceptical before, but this looks like a powerful statement of intent.

Can we import her here for the next UK election? Perhaps she can take over what's left of NooLaboor.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 07:27:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we import her here for the next UK election? Perhaps she can take over what's left of NooLaboor.

Grief, she seems to have some socialist credentials. she'd never fit into labour. 'Sides which, the tory press'd have her for breakfast, presenting her as the biggest threat to civil society since Scargill.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:37:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Monde's headline this afternoon will be that Le Pen gets 17% of voting intentions in a new poll.

In November 2001 (i.e. at the same date relative to the previosu presidential election in April 2002 where he got 16.9% of the vote), he was polling at 9%.

I've said it repeatedly, I expect Le Pen will get 20% of the vote at the next election.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:42:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Countdown to President Le Pen?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not think that is very likely.

How did other candidates poll?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 10:16:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:37:21 PM EST
Le Monde diplomatique: As the Democrats take Congress - US: Republican deficits

The Bush years have accentuated a trend already apparent under Clinton, in which deregulation of trade, relocations, immigration and increasingly feeble unions were pushing down the pay of the most poorly qualified workers. At present the US system is so heavily weighted in favour of the most fortunate that some remedies no longer have any effect. In an attempt to embarrass corporate boards that had been overgenerous towards their executives, the federal authorities demanded in 1993 that companies listed on the stock market publish the pay and bonuses of chief executive officers. In 1984 Congress had cancelled certain tax allowances for CEOs whose salary and "social protection" (for example, the golden parachute exit pay-off) exceeded $1m.

The measures seem to have had little effect. The average pay of the bosses of leading firms reached $10.5m in 2005, which is 369 times the average pay of their employees (comparable relationship numbers were 131 in 1993 and 36 in 1976). The obligation to publish pay figures prompted the least well paid bosses to demand as much as their more fortunate colleagues, while the $1m threshold became a symbolic lower limit for the salaries of CEOs. However, they sometimes have trouble keeping their side of the bargain. At the end of 2005 the CEO of Pfizer had accumulated $83m in retirement plans -- yet under his leadership the value of the company's shares had dropped by 37% (10).

Half of all Americans share a mere 2.5% of the nation's wealth; the richest 10% own 70% of it (11). Among the latter are many members of Congress, often chosen to represent their party because of their ability to fund a campaign. So the display of democratic fervour every two years does little, if anything, to correct market forces. The media make little difference and for similar reasons.

Whatever the voters' decision, the social make-up of the next Congress, like that of the last one, will be remarkably unrepresentative of the US as a whole. Out of 100 senators, 40 have assets exceeding $1m, and 123 of the 435 representatives earn that amount in just a single year. Members of Congress usually leave Capitol Hill richer than they arrived. A study has shown that no one, not even Wall Street brokers, plays the stock market as successfully as do US senators (12). This also applies to Bush's political opponents. Major corporations such as Boeing, Wal-Mart and General Electric can adjust the balance of their political patronage in favour of the Democrats with complete peace of mind.


by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:40:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

A study has shown that no one, not even Wall Street brokers, plays the stock market as successfully as do US senators

Now THAT's a pretty damning indictment.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you're missing the point, just as money brings power, power brings money. Nobody goes into government to end up merely as wealthy as they entered it.

As somebody once said "Anybody who seeks power should be automatically disqualified from attaining it"

K street is already all over Hoyer and the Dems are sucking up Big Pharma Bucks as fast as they can pump it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Basear News: Americans Provide 'Scrap' Soviet Arms to Iraqi Army

In closed-door meetings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the General Commander of the Iraqi Armed Forces, complained about American foot-dragging over adequately arming and improving the capabilities of the Iraqi Army. This is the case because the Americans are providing antiquated weapons produced in Eastern Europe, the quality of which is far inferior to the American weapons, and even recent Russian ones. The Americans purchase these Russian weapons from East European countries trying to get rid of them as part of a program to modernize their armaments and harmonize their armies with the other nations in the European Union.

The American companies who won contracts to supply the Iraqi Amy found these old weapons at rock-bottom prices. They are considered little more than scrap metal by experts. This allows them to pocket what's left over from the massive appropriations designated for the creation of the "modern" Iraqi Army.

Consequently, neither the new ranks of the Iraqi Army nor those of the police have received anything but old weapons, which are the object of ridicule by average Iraqis. This is in contrast to the Iraqi resistance, militias, and other armed groups confronting the Army, which carry more advanced weapons that in many cases surpass those of even America's coalition partners in Iraq. Observers of Iraqi affairs believe that the American companies and Iraqi politicians, in addition to corrupting the bidding process itself, have found additional opportunities for obtaining ill-gotten wealth in equipping the Iraqi Army.

In addition to that, these observers believe that for a number of reasons both local and regional, the Americans don't want to create a strong Iraqi Army - it has been decided that it will not exceed 50,000 soldiers. The local reasons include the fear of the Americans that the Iraqi Army could come under the domination of a single Iraqi sect, which would give that group the coercive power to impose its will on the rest of the nation. As for regional considerations, the Americans don't want a repeat the experience of the pre-war status quo, wherein the strength of the Iraqi Army far outstripped its defensive needs, thereby constituting a threat to Iraq's neighbors.


by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:41:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Baghdad bombs kill 160 in war's worst sectarian attack

In the deadliest outbreak of sectarian violence since the American-led invasion of Iraq, at least 160 people were killed and 257 injured in Baghdad yesterday.

In a day of strife extreme even by the bloody standards of the country, Sunni insurgents carried out a concerted attack with suicide bombings and mortar rounds on Sadr City, a large Shia slum on the outskirts of the capital which is also the stronghold of the radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr. Scores of people were killed by the blasts as panicked residents fled screaming from the streets.

The response was immediate and lethal, with Shia fighters launching a dozen mortar rounds and rockets into the Sunni district of Adhamiya, targeting in particular the Abu Hanifa mosque, the holiest Sunni shrine in Baghdad.

Further outbreaks of fighting erupted between the two communities in the north west of the city, where Sunni gunmen attacked the Shia-controlled health ministry. American helicopter gunships and Iraqi army units were called in during the three-hour firefight, which left an unspecified number dead and wounded.

With internecine killings increasing across the country, yesterday's deaths were a severe blow not only to any hopes of an accommodation between the two communities, but also to the exit strategy being desperately sought from a state in anarchy by the US and Britain.

by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:48:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: US hawk hits out at 'war on terror'


Fred Iklé, a Nixon-era arms control veteran and mentor to the current generation of nuclear "hawks", has an apocalyptic vision of the future.

However, as a contrarian who confounds his neo-conservative admirers, he is also highly critical of the Bush administration's handling of threats to the US, and calls the "global war on terror" a serious mistake.

(...)

At 82, and still a Washington insider sitting on the Pentagon's defence policy board, Mr Iklé's fears focus less on radical Islamists or a nuclear-armed North Korea and more on the danger of a would-be tyrant seizing power by annihilating his government from within, possibly through the use of weapons of mass destruction that would be blamed on others.

He does not see the US as vulnerable to such a coup because of the "powerful influence of its body politic and the hallowed position of the constitution" - but there are likely candidates in the semi-dictatorial regimes of central Asia, the Middle East, or even Russia.

(...)

Despite his hawkish reputation, Mr Iklé is tough on the White House, calling GWOT - the "global waron terror" - a distraction and a rallying cry that unites enemies of the US, not divides them.

As for Tony Blair, UK prime minister, his speeches warning of a generational GWOT are "defeatist and anodyne".

(...)

"Pulling out of Iraq will lead to feelings of guilt, with some justification. In some ways we have made things worse than under Saddam Hussein," he concludes.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ther are none so blind as those who would not see...until it's too damn late...

he may be right about using false flag terrorism foe a coup d'etat, though, and he may have the problem very close to home at this rate.

that hallowed constitution's getting a little blurry with all the golden showers it's recieving.

'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 24th, 2006 at 12:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:38:09 PM EST
Spiegel Online: GERMANY'S FIRST NAZI COMEDY - Meet Hitler, the Bed-Wetting Drug Addict

German cinema breaks new ground in January with its first comedy about Hitler. Jewish director Dani Levy is following in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin, maker of "The Great Dictator," with a decidedly unsympathetic portrayal of Hitler as a bed-wetting drug addict who is making the world suffer for his beatings as a child.

Hitler likes to play with his toy battleship in the bath, wets his bed, can't get an erection and is addicted to drugs he keeps in his giant globe, according to Germany's first comedy about the Führer, made by Jewish director Dani Levy.

"Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler," which received public funding, opens in January and fits a recent trend in Germany to break new ground in dealing with its Nazi history. It follows the 2004 movie "The Downfall," one of the first German films to show Hitler up close and personal.

A German-made farce about Hitler would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But the passage of time and the gradual dying out of the Nazi-era generation have given the country a more detached view of its past.

Swiss director Levy says he wants to follow in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin's 1940 classic "The Great Dictator," and to take a tongue-in-cheek look at the theory that Hitler was taking revenge on the world for being beaten by his father.


by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. Making fun of potentates is good, but I don't like when the Nazis are turned into cartoon villains, because that underplays how dangerous they are/were. IMO Chaplin, even if his film has naive elements, found the right balance, and defaced the dictator (and that in his lifetime). From this recension, I'm not sure Levy managed that.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 02:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that The Great Dictator was made in 1940 also puts the lie to all those who claimed, even after the war, that they "could not have known" what was going on in Germany.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 02:56:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
believing strongly in the power of laughter to heal, i think ' benigni's la vita e bella' did a lot for italians in coming to terms with their past.

i found he struck a perfect balance.

if this is done with half the art and tenderness, maybe it will be redemptive for the germans also.

'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 24th, 2006 at 12:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seattle PI:  Idaho Zamboni drivers fired after trip to fast-food drive-thru

BOISE, Idaho -- The roads weren't even icy.

Two employees have been fired from the city's ice skating rink after making a midnight fast-food run - in a pair of Zambonis.

The ice-groomer jockeys, both temporary city employees whose names and ages weren't released by Boise Parks and Recreation, had to negotiate at least one intersection with a traffic light on their late-night creep from Idaho Ice World.

An anonymous caller who alerted a telephone hot line set up by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was gassing up his car at a nearby service station at about 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 10 when he saw the Zambonis roll through a Burger King drive-through, order food, and then return to the skating rink. The rubber-tired vehicles, whose top speed is about 5 mph, drove about 1 1/2 miles in all, said Parks Department Director Jim Hall.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is a Zamboni?
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:16:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
more from the article:

The Zamboni was invented in the late 1940s by Frank Zamboni, whose company in Paramount, Calif., still makes them.

Even though several companies now produce ice resurfacers, the Zamboni name has become a universal identifier for squat vehicles that turn ice into a smooth sheet using a long blade and warm water.

Last year, Morristown, N.J., Zamboni operator John Peragallo was charged with drunken driving after another employee at the Mennen Sports Arena called police to report the machine was speeding and nearly crashed into the boards. Peragallo, 63, lost his Zamboni privileges.

Strange things can happen on a Zamboni, Hall allowed.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:39:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But we should really have read the whole article, shouldn't we?

And when you think we've had a night's sleep and no turkee.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:52:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I still had to look up what a ice resurfacer is, though this one I could guess - but had not idea what a squat vehicle is, so looked it up. Wow, lots of new words in one short article. :-)
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's an ice-groomer jockey?

What's an ice-groomer jockey in a Zamboni?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:33:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seattle PI:  Shelter marking 40 years of service

It was a little less than eight months ago that the Crisostomo family couldn't make their rent.

Just like that, they were homeless, even though Dennis Crisostomo had a job.

(...)She and Dennis were trying to care for their daughter, Marissa, 8, and son Godfred, 10, while searching for a place to stay until they got back on their feet.

"We had a really hard time," Cristina remembered. "We kept hitting walls. I kept calling different places to see if they could take us in. If it had only been the two of us, we could have slept in the car."

(...)According to Amy Besunder, development director for the center, the family's story is a common one. "There are a lot of families -- they have one bad month, and all the sudden they're in a situation where they can't cover their rent."

(...)The shelter has served Seattle for about 40 years and has seen the face of homelessness change. No longer is it a predominately male problem -- there is an increasing number of families out on the streets now.

According to annual one-night surveys conducted by the Seattle Coalition for the Homeless, the number of single women with children went from 25 percent of the homeless population in 1998 to 28 percent of the population in 2002.

The number of unsheltered homeless people has risen even more significantly. In 1998, the Seattle Coalition for the Homeless estimated there were 784. In 2002, there were 2,040.

There are just 75 thin, green mattresses stacked against one wall at the Adult Service Center on a recent evening. Soon they would be on the floor, and people with nowhere else to go would be stretched out on them, trying to get some sleep. These people are the lucky ones -- the ones who found someplace to spend the night.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel Online: COLOMBIA'S ENERGY DRINK - Putting the Coca Back in Cola

Coca products were taboo for a long time in Colombia. Now Colombians can purchase coca wine, coca tea and coca cookies. The newest product is called Coca-Sek, an energy drink that is fast developing an international reputation -- much to the irritation of the Coca Cola company.

An ad featuring the slogan "Coca Tea -- the Holy Leaf of the Sun Children" hangs above a colorful, cloth-draped sales booth in the Santa Barbara shopping mall in Bogotá. As recently as 10 years ago, any mother would have yanked her child hastily to the side if they had passed such a stall. But things have changed: Coca tea, coca wine, coca cookies and a variety of similar products have become an integral part of every street festival and flea market in the Colombian capital.

Such products are also beginning to become standard on store shelves. David Curtidor and his wife Fabiola Acchicvé started selling coca tea to students at Javariana University seven years ago. Their product was such a hit that marketing and packaging it more professionally seemed the logical next step. Now, Curtidor can point to the boxes of teabags stacked in the corridors of the Nasa Esh building -- the headquarters of the company Curtidor and his wife founded on behalf of the Nasa, one of more than 60 indigenous tribes in Colombia.

But Curtidor's spacious store room features more than just teabags and crates full of Mate de Coca: Other boxes contain coca wine and the small company's latest product, Coca-Sek -- a yellowish cocaine-based soft drink. The invigorating drink hit the market at the end of last year and has made headlines far beyond Colombia's borders.

The soft drink has a fresh, slightly sour taste, like lemonade. Curtidor says he and his wife spent six years developing the flavor. The drink is natural, he says, just like tea -- and, unlike cocaine, it's completely harmless.

by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Rent-a-pilgrim: he walks, you pay $2,500

He calls himself "the payer-off of promises", but Portuguese computer expert Carlos Gil could just as easily go by the name of "rent-a-pilgrim".

Mr Gil has revived a 700-year-old tradition by hiring himself out to go on pilgrimages for those too infirm, too busy or just too lazy to go themselves.

His twice-yearly pilgrimages to the shrine at Fatima, in central Portugal, are now financed by those who wish to fulfil pledges secretly given in their prayers.

He charges $2,500 (£1,300) for the week's 100-mile walk from his home in Cascais, near Lisbon, to the shrine to the Virgin Mary at Fatima. He also walks back, which takes another week.

by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:22:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh my. Apparently Luther didn't choose the worst abomination to be outraged about...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 02:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, it's a free market. I'm not sure who gets the better deal there, which is exactly how a good transaction should be.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:34:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would anyone like to buy a bridge to Santiago de Compostela?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 07:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen, if you read this, maybe this would be a new job for Spain?! - do Pilgrim walks to Santiago de Compostela :-)
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 10:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
lol, that's a great gig!

right livelihood fo sho...

i can see the lazy penitent cutting deals with god....

what about if he goes to santiago de compostela twice, on hands and knees? can i keep the mistress?

bribing the cops, on special, only 50 extra miles, book now!

hair shirt extra!!

'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 24th, 2006 at 12:37:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Why is it so expensive to buy a house? (24 November 2006)
People in the UK seem to be obsessed with property - buying it, doing it up and selling it.

...

The population of the UK is predicted to rise from 60 million in 2005, to 62 million in 2011, and nearly 65 million by 2021.

More importantly, the number of households, which is the key determinant of how many homes will be needed, is also going to rise sharply as well.

...

Tony Key, Professor of real estate economics at the Cass Business school in London, said this under supply of housing has led to a huge distortion in the UK property market.

"Somewhere around the mid 1980s we stopped building council houses and we didn't fill in the gap.

"There's been a group of people who might logically be renters who have been forced into being owner occupiers," said Professor Key.

...

Worth a full read, and maybe a diary follow-up.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:18:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everybody knows we need social housing. The idea of building homes that are affordable on low incomes misses the point entirely.

But the politicians made such a big deal of selling off the post war social housing that they cannot retract the legislation without the Sun and the Daily Mail killing them.

So we are stuck, as in so many things, in the worst of all possible worlds in the gap between what we need to do and what the tabloids insist must not be done.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:51:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The other evening in The London Paper (free, Murdoch-owned), a reader comment complained that he had been looking for a 4-bedroom detached house in a new development and could not find one in two years (no wonder). There were also comments about council homes being empty and why didn't the councils sell them off.

It's funny the Professor says "somewhere around the mid-1980's we screwed up". I wonder who was in power then?

[Regarding the new "London Lite" and "the london paper" free evening newspapers: is someone trying to drive the Evening Standard out of business? How come both of the papers started being distributed at the same time?]

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:57:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, wikipedia explains...
It was announced in August 2006 that the free paper will now lead on as London Lite, in a move that has been widely seen as a 'spoiler' to protect against the launch of News International's thelondonpaper on the 4th of September.


Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 06:01:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For you Canucks and Merkins here: today is your day to go cold turkey on shopping. Tomorrah for the rest of us. Just let go, let it go...

Adbusters: The Ultimate Refund

On November 24th and 25th - the busiest days in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season - thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the 14th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

From joining zombie marches through malls to organizing credit card cut-ups and shopoholic clinics, Buy Nothing Day activists aim to challenge themselves, their families and their friends to switch off from shopping and tune back into life for one day. Featured in recent years by the likes of CNN, Wired, the BBC, and the CBC, the global event is celebrated as a relaxed family holiday, as a non-commercial street party, or even as a politically charged public protest. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.

Reasons for participating in Buy Nothing Day are as varied as the people who choose to participate. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 05:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:38:47 PM EST
Good morning, Fran!  I won't be much help today -- I'm still suffering from turkey-induced partial-paralysis.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 11:54:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, the diner turned out well? :-))
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was great!  I'd been a bit nervous, too, since I haven't cooked one in 3 or 4 years.  Of course, I just did the turkey and stuffing and everyone else pitched in with all the other stuff.  Does Europe have pumpkin pies?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that I know of, maybe some old home recipes - but must have been out of fashion.
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:15:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
pumpkin pies

No, but we can make them. I do. Hmm, it's the right time of year...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:39:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a recipe?
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:17:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll do some digging up. I've used several recipes. It's great stuff, pumpkin pie. Cold-weather kind of thing, though.

Ice-groomer Zamboni jockey kind of food. ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 08:51:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh forgot, the more common use for pumkins here are soups and stews.
by Fran on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 03:18:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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