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

European Breakfast - June 6

by Fran Mon Jun 5th, 2006 at 11:58:18 PM EST

"Things we do not expect, happen more frequently than we wish."

Plautus


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EUROPEAN NEWS
by Fran on Mon Jun 5th, 2006 at 11:59:25 PM EST
Gulf News: Berlusconi trial hearings open

Milan: A judge opened hearings on Monday to decide if Silvio Berlusconi should face trial in a corruption case, and lawyers presented documents which his defence said would clear the former prime minister.

Milan prosecutors have accused Berlusconi of paying lawyer David Mills, the estranged husband of British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, a kickback of $600,000 for not revealing details of his media empire when he testified in two court cases.

Lawyers for Mills presented information yesterday which Berlusconi's lawyers said proved the money was not connected to the politician or his family holding firm Fininvest.

"This paperwork proves that we are talking about money that has nothing to do with Berlusconi and Fininvest," Niccolo Ghedini, one of Berlusconi's lawyers, said, adding that they had received a voluminous file. "We are completely at ease."

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nzherald: UK Chancellor hits out at Europe over protectionism

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has launched an outspoken attack on the rising tide of protectionism across Europe, accusing its governments of blocking cross-border takeovers for reasons of economic patriotism.

The Chancellor also urged EU partners to accept the need for steeper cuts in farm subsidies as the way to strike a new deal on world trade that would deliver £300 billion ($888 billion) of economic growth.

Both issues will be centre stage at meetings of EU finance ministers this week and of the G8 rich nations at the weekend.

Speaking to business leaders at a CBI dinner, Mr Brown said there had been a backlash against globalisation across Europe.

"In the last few months - as talk of national champions rather than global companies resurfaces - we have seen France block Italian takeovers, Italy block Dutch banking takeovers, Spain block German energy bids and Poland block Italian financial service bids," he said.

He said there was a "danger of a relapse into protectionism ... and economic patriotism" in Europe and Latin America.

"What we must do is win the argument that is raging throughout the world showing that embracing globalisation, not retreating into protectionism, is the best way to growth jobs and prosperity for all.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:18:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"What we must do is win the argument that is raging throughout the world showing that embracing globalisation, not retreating into protectionism, is the best way to growth jobs and prosperity for all.

It's that "for all" part that is the tough part. Well, at least it certainly makes corporate profits and CEO salaries grow.

by gradinski chai on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, no-compromise Gordon says this:

At the G8 St Petersburg summit [on Saturday] I will call for world finance ministers to lead the debate about who benefits from globalisation

So we shall have an answer to the question about benefits for all. Meanwhile, I'm holding my breath.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:01:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So a whole bunch of rich guys will all go, "Well, I'm better off"...case closed.

See, whatever the demonstrated reality, these guys still believe in trickle-down even when all of their policies are about sucking-up. They just can't/don't see that what's good for the economy (aka stock market) isn't necessarily good for the polulation as a whole.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is certainly entertaining:


However, interviewed on BBC Radio yesterday, the Chancellor side-stepped questions about his view of a takeover of Centrica, the UK gas company, by Gazprom of Russia.

"I think with Gazprom there are questions about politics as well as economics," he said. In February, the UK Government said any Gazprom bid would come under "robust scrutiny" after reports it was considering an offer.

Why does Gordon Brown hate free trade?


Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cos he's a hypocrite. Free trade is what we do to other people, when people do it to us it's another thing entirely.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:11:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note (quoted from the original article in The Independent, this charming Godwinism:

He became the latest politician to compare the current rise in economic patriotism with the nationalism of the 1920s and 1930s that led to the rise of Fascism and the Second World War.

No less. However, with Gazprom there are "political" considerations.

Wanker.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 02:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From atimes

"As contradictory as it may seem, fascist dictatorship was made possible because of the flawed notion of freedom which held sway during the era of laissez-faire capitalism in the early twentieth century. It was the liberals of that era that clamored for unfettered personal and economic freedom, no matter what the cost to society.

Such untrammeled freedom is not suitable to civilized humans. It is the freedom of the jungle. In other words, the strong have more of it than the weak. It is a notion of freedom which is inherently violent, because it is enjoyed at the expense of others. Such a notion of freedom legitimizes each and every increase in the wealth and power of those who are already powerful, regardless of the misery that will be suffered by others as a result.

The use of the state to limit such "freedom" was denounced by the laissez-faire liberals of the early twentieth century. The use of the state to protect such "freedom" was fascism. Just as monopoly is the ruin of the free market, fascism is the ultimate degradation of liberal capitalism.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/GL15Dj01.html


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:13:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah! Good one, Helen!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:16:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a sad state of affairs when the early laissez-faire liberals like Adam Smith of John Stuart Mills look like lefties compared to the current mainstream:
Such regulations may, no doubt, be considered as in some respect a violation of natural liberty. But those exertions of the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society, are, and ought to be, restrained by the laws of all governments; of the most free, as well as or the most despotical. — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:19:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dead on. They called themselves national socialists for a reason.

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 Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason the first time I read that I thought it was Hayek's witterings against socialism. Very strange.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:04:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some sort of Godwin's law? The probability of some ideologue blaming the opposing ideology for being the ultimate root of fascism approaches one?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:12:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

we have seen France block Italian takeovers, Italy block Dutch banking takeovers, Spain block German energy bids and Poland block Italian financial service bids

Let's see:

  • the purchase of HVB by Unicredito had the effect of merging their two big Polish affiliates and create the biggest Polish bank. After some negotiations, and small concessions by Unicredito, this is now actually taking place;

  • the takeover bid of Endesa by E.On is under way. No formal steps have been taken by Spain

  • the takeover of Antonoveneto by ABN-Amro has now been completed, and in the meantime BNL has been purchased by BNP-Paribas

  • there never was an "Italian takeover" in France, as ENEL never made an offer on Suez (which is half Belgian anyway, and it was only the Belgian assets - in the power industry - that interested ENEL anyway). And the EU cleared France for actign properly in pushing the marger of Suez and GDF.

So what is he talking about?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:45:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Icelandic prime minister resigns

Prime Minister Halldor Asgrimsson of Iceland has announced he is stepping down following his party's poor performance in local elections.

Mr Asgrimsson, 58, told reporters that Foreign Minister Geir Haarde would take over as prime minister.

He said he would retain his seat in parliament, but would not hold a position in the cabinet.

Support for Mr Asgrimsson's Progressive Party fell sharply in last month's municipal elections.

"I take personal responsibility that the party lost," the prime minister said.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:21:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do we have any Icelanders who can explain this? We need to have some Icelander ET members.
by gradinski chai on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Rising star of French left breaks another party taboo

Ségolène Royal, the rising star of France's opposition Socialists, yesterday caused renewed turmoil on the left when she broke one of the party's taboos by criticising the country's mandatory 35-hour working week.

Following hard on the heels of her explosive comments last week calling for a tougher stance on law and order, Ms Royal accused the 35-hour week of eroding the rights of the country's weakest workers.

The call is the latest step in Ms Royal's attempt to build a defining platform for her bid for the Socialists' nomination for next year's presidential election by offering a break with traditional party ideology.

Writing on her campaign website, Desires for the Future, Ms Royal said the 35-hour week had resulted in a "spectacular easing" of France's labour law, which meant executives could enjoy days off while those lower down worked less sociable but more flexible hours. "The proportion of workers on flexible hours has gone from 10 to 40 per cent," she said, more than their counterparts in the US.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to ask her if there's actual evidence to suggest this is the SOLE reason there are so many workers on flexible hours in France compared to the U.S. She is clearly suggesting the 40-hour week will solve all the problems?

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:16:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't answer about the sole reason, but it's true the largest gain for employers in the 35-hour deal was increased flexibility in working hours -- within the day, the week, the year.

Otherwise, Royal seems to be stating the obvious : the weakest among employees suffer more than the strongest. Women in personal-service jobs get a rawer deal from hours flexibility than do big-company administrative staff, for example. Royal isn't precise about what should be done to rectify this (not a return to the 40-hour week, afaik).

It's mostly strategic communication. As ThatBritGuy said yesterday, she's doing a Hillary. Going out to the right to widen her base, counting on the left to follow, albeit grudgingly. I don't like it one little bit, but -- in France at least -- it's likely to be efficient. Royal is looking more and more like the inescapable centre-left (... an angel hovers as I wonder if I should have written "left" ;)) candidate for next year.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The funny thing is that she criticises the 35-hour week from the left, and gets praise for it from the business press - just like her comments about Tony Blair (which essentially said that he had a much more keynesian /traditional left policy of spending on education and healthcare) were seen, wrongly, as support for neo-liberalism.

  • on the one hand it is smart to get that kind of support from the "mainstream" elite opinionmakers

  • on the other hand, is this a way to "capture" her for the third way blather in public perceptions, which could sour quickly if she sticks to her lefty economics.

Interesting...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:53:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Businesses feel out of step with EU legislation

Leading European Union companies feel excluded from decisions made in Brussels and are often frustrated about the way its laws are implemented by member states, according to a survey released by Clifford Chance, the law firm.

The research, which is based on interviews with more than 150 companies in eight EU countries, showed that many businesses consider EU laws are more effective than national legislation.

The European Commission announced plans late last year to repeal or amend more than 200 EU laws and almost 1,500 related legal instruments, as part of a three-year programme to simplify and improve legislation.

"We are seeing a clear trend of businesses feeling out of step with EU legislators as new regulations come out of Brussels," Stuart Popham, senior partner at Clifford Chance, writes in the introduction to the report.

"Smaller firms in particular cannot afford to keep tabs on new developments, and larger businesses appear to engage too little and too late."

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:34:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The last actors on the European stage who are "excluded from decisions made in Brussels" are big companies, which have considerable lobbying presence and influence. Which they would like to hang on to, while ripping the teeth out of regulation.

Meanwhile most of us, far below on the ground, are de jure and de facto "excluded from decisions made in Brussels".

Note that the authors of this touted report,

Clifford Chance, which is based in London, advises companies on trends in EU law and liaises with legislators and regulators on behalf of its clients.

have a vested interest.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:34:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Boo-hoo.

Yes, big business leaders never get to speak to politicians or lawmakers.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:54:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Man, I hate to repeat myself:
Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters. — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:21:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some things bear repeating ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:09:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it too long for a sig line?

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 Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: EU countries seek to annex lucrative tract of Atlantic seabed

· UK, Ireland, France and Spain in mining rights bid
· Environmentalists accuse coalition of 'land grab'

A vast tract of the Atlantic seabed more than 200 miles off shore is being claimed by a coalition of four European countries eager to expand their oil and gas prospecting rights.

The joint submission to the United Nations by France, Ireland, Spain and the UK is based on a novel legal approach that is transforming the international politics of underwater prospecting. Environmentalists have condemned the procedure as legitimising "land grabs".

The diamond-shaped zone straddles the outer edge of the continental shelf under the Celtic sea and the Bay of Biscay. It covers 31,000 square miles, an area the size of Ireland, at a point where the seabed plunges down to what is known as the Porcupine Abyssal Plain.

The waters there are up to 5,000 metres (16,500 feet) deep, almost double the depth at which commercial extraction of gas is viable at present. Deposits of frozen methane, which may provide another energy source, are expected to be found.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...would rather be the last of my concerns for environmentalists. Japan has been experimenting with tapping into the methane reservoir, and they are getting successful. Other nations have been sitting on the fence (I generalise, but not far from the truth), letting Japan take the struggling lead.

Lining up the methane clathrates reservoir as next in line after oil sounds foolish to me. This is just my gut-reaction, I haven't read the rest yet. But right now, it sounds as "Oh, we exhausted all the environmentally damaging hydrocarbons of gas. Let's move on to the other one." There's an animal that behaves like that and it's in afew's sig-line. And this is done by national governments?? I'm slim on time today, and a whole line of ET assignments is on the diary, but this sounds worthy of investigating.

by Nomad on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad, this is the geological meat of their claim:
The combined claim was submitted two weeks ago to the New York-based UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The four countries are seeking recognition of their collaborative prospecting rights before deciding how to subdivide the area.

The application is based on fresh geological and geophysical data obtained last year by a team of scientists from the four EU states working on the Spanish research vessel Hesperides. The ship traversed the ocean, tracking submerged slopes and plotted what is described as a new "continental shelf outer limit".

The submission, due to be debated at the next CLCS session in August, is the first combined claim to be heard by the UN group. By acting together, the EU countries hope to overcome any international resistance.

What they hope to show is that the outer reaches of the shelf extend beyond what had previously been established. By increasing the shelf's size they will be able to annex the new resources.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:48:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worth flagging for the outcome at the least.

But I continue to have the sensation something reeks. A shelf at 5000 meter below sea level? That can't be right. (Gut feeling again.) And they file their claim a year after their data came in? That's extremely fast. It sounds to me like a pre-determined plan with their geophysical data to beef up the claim. I'm not saying it is, I get that inkling.

by Nomad on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:30:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this a NASA-type confusion of units. I think that should be 5,000 feet (10 feet = 3 metres almost eactly). So the depth is 1500 metres.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:22:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good-old Grauniad hasn't metricated?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:30:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unlikely to be a double confusion of units...
The waters there are up to 5,000 metres (16,500 feet) deep, almost double the depth at which commercial extraction of gas is viable at present.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:31:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I bet that's exactly what happened.

Atlantic ocean, average depth 3,900 metres, 12,900 feet.
from Encarta http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/search.aspx?q=Atlantic+Ocean+depth

So, when they're talking about annexing part of the continental shelf where it begins to plunge to abyssal depths, it must be shallower. So, I'm pretty confident it's Helen 1 Grauniad -2

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're talking about the wedge-shaped deep purple region between Ireland and Spain

(stolen from here)
The purple colour is consistent with 5,000-m depths. The region is labelled "abyssal plane" in the submission (linked in a parallel comment).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the full article, they are definitely talking about the continental shelf, not the abyssal plain beyond. I guess that refers to the large white bit south of Ireland.

A continental shelf is the edge of a land mass that extends into the sea, forming the seabed adjacent to the coast before it slopes away into deep ocean. Shelves are formed when tides erode land and lay down sediment, and they are rich in natural resources. Under the Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf (1958), each country has the right to mine its coastline; others wanting to mine the seabed must get permission from the state whose coast borders that area of continental shelf. The convention set the shelf limit at 200 nautical miles from the coast. Countries with shelves that extend beyond this must agree on the limit with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. If the commission approves their bid, Ireland, France, Spain and the UK will win rights to mine the oil and gas in the disputed area, and prevent other countries from doing so.

Given that the methane deposits require rotting vegetation, which is gonna be hard to find at such depths, I think they're trying to extend their national boundaries to the very edges of the shelf.

Judging by your map, Irealnd and France have a good shout, whilst Spain and the UK are on dodgy ground.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 08:00:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget about the Grauniad article as they don't know what they're talking about, and read the submission.

The submission is about extending the outer limit of the continental shelf, by redefining it [as DoDo points out, by finding some sediments from old avalanches]. "It extends from the southern limit of the Partial Submission of Ireland to a point on the Spanish 200M continental shelf limit". If you look at the first chart in the submission, the continental shelf (orange, white in "my" map) is already entirely contained within the 200M limit of France and Ireland. The new "Continental Shelf Outer Limit" includes something called the "Union Basin".

The second chart in the submission shows some shallow and thin tendrils of sediments extending from the shelf into the abyssal plain, which are then used to define a new limit to the continental shelf using "Hedberg's formula" of 60 nm (nautical miles, not nanometres) from "the foot of the continental slope" which they define by using a "1% sediment thickness" they determine using seismic data.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 08:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I first had to read the submission myself before I understood what you meant. I was rapidly losing the overview in this wrangling of definitions.

But you've nailed it:

  • The definition of the continental shelf is based on the 200M extent from the coast and captures practically all of the geological continental shelf and the abyssal plains within the Bay of Biscay.

  • The land grab move bases itself on applying yet an other definition for the continental shelf (the geological one) and trying to tag sediment slumps and slope deltas as part of the continental slope, thereby adding 60 new nm to the territory, mostly ocean abyssal plain.

This is a joke. It's flimsy beyond belief, actually.

But they do want hydrocarbons. This is mostly about the potential of clathrates, a little about mining the ocean floor, and practically zilch about oil and gas reservoirs.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 10:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The way I read it, they were applying pre-existing formulas based on new research, NOT inventing new definitions.

The only really noteworthy thing in this news for me is that four countries managed to hand in a joint request, rather than battling it out over who gets what part of this legalese-shelf.

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

by DoDo on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 01:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...I never argue that re-inventing definitions was their tool. I was having difficulties with which definition meant what.

Yet their argument that within their legal definitions the areas highlighted by their research belongs to the shelf is laughable in itself. The fact that it was a multi-country effort may add weight to the impact factor, but it does nothing to the reasoning underneath as I understand it right now.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 02:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
their argument that within their legal definitions the areas highlighted by their research belongs to the shelf is laughable in itself.

Why? If a pre-existing internationally agreed (rather than "their") legal definition of shelf was used, then it is not laughable by default.

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

by DoDo on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 02:33:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...their argument isn't within the definition of shelf, but to apply the decisive marker to an area where it is highly doubtable it is applicable. Sediment extensions situated onto the abyssal plain do not constitute a continental slope. The pfd claims they do.

I read on a USGS website that coastal nations can decide their territorial claims of their continental shelf outside the 200 nautical miles based on 1) bathymtery and 2) geology, activating the Gardiner formula in the latter case. Nations can not extent their territory 60 nm beyond the continental slope (Hedberg formula). The range of the continental slope is then based on 1) the depth of the water column and 2) the amount of the sediment present on the floor.

The pdf stacks all of it on the Gardiner formula serving as the black-and-white line whether there's enough sediment present to make it part of the continental slope. If there's more than 1 percent sediment, it must be continental slope, so it belongs under definition so much and so forth (and hence it belongs to us). While wondering if that's a smart definition, applying it in this setting is bizarre. The points they use (FOS 1, 4 and 5, figure 2 in the pdf) are anomalies on the abyssal plain, either remnants of the original shelf during continental breakup or possibly alluvial fan deposits, I can't tell from one pretty picture. They are even disconnected from the slope. Since there's no single word on bathymetry in the submission, I suspect there's no legal ground for that  (which is logical because they work on, I repeat, on the abyssal plain).

Let me therefore say it again: this is a joke. They're applying this Gardiner formula on areas that do not form in any way, in any part the continental slope. In that sense, they do rewrite definitions and remake reality.

If that makes them to the letter of their pretty agreements right, so what. I don't go there, that's not where I'm trained in. But if these guys have to muscle it out with a geologist, they get laughed out of court.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 08:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But if these guys have to muscle it out with a geologist, they get laughed out of court.

I'm beginning to lose all respect for the Hesperides oceanographic boat. I suppose the State is no different than Big Pharma, Big Oil or Big Tobacco when it comes to forcing the scientists they sponsor to fix the facts around the policy.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 8th, 2006 at 05:11:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is missing from my rather snippy post of yesterday night is that I think that some of the nations have a legitimate claim to at least part of the proposed area, under the sets of formulas and agreements outlined above. But as it is, it looks like a brazen attempt to suck dry the definition of any moisture.
by Nomad on Thu Jun 8th, 2006 at 04:15:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is talking rubbish at least in the first two sentences you quote. Standardized child speak. I don't bother about what's in the Geneva Convention, that's political semantics I don't know much about, but if the quality of that information is as poor as the shelf description, oh dear.

As for the methane deposits: That's exactly right. Conditions on the coastal shelf do not favour formation of clathrates. The shelf edge is one of the main targeted areas for commercial extraction of methane clathrates.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 05:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...was formed by the counter-clockwise rotation plus strike slip movement of Iberia since the Cretaceous, opening up the Bay of Biscay. It's practically fresh ocean floor and hence never EVER part of the continental shelf (geology definition). If they're seriously proposing this, their argument is a geological joke.
by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 05:37:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Extending on my other point about legalese, I note that the definitions applied here are for 60 nautical miles beyond the border of the continental shelf.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 09:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's practically fresh ocean floor and hence never EVER part of the continental shelf (geology definition)

Fresh ocean floor? Like Helen said: good luck finding fossil hydrocarbons there.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 09:26:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is the actual document submitted to the UN Commission. (PDF executive summary is available, with "funky charts").

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently, former landslides on the bottom of the ocean count as continental shelf outer limit.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good luck to 'em if they think there's anything out there.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 08:06:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do they have a separate clause for turbidites then, too? Turbiditic avalanches can extend up to thousands of kilometres into the oceanic abyssal plains. They were discovered when phone cables put on the ocean's floor kept on snapping for reasons no one understood.

The description as given above is geological garbage. Under that definition half of the ocean's floor belongs to the shelf.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 05:03:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chill down, you wantered into the territory of legal, not geological definitions :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 05:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah... I got irked by the definition of the Continental Shelf by the Geneva contention as well. Political semantics, what a pain.
by Nomad on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 05:32:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: European technology suddenly in demand

Microsoft plans to announce in Brussels on Tuesday that it is investing in a London-based computer networking company and a Dublin developer of mobile phone software, fresh evidence of what some leading venture capitalists say is a new blossoming of bankable innovation in Europe.

The value of the two agreements is so minuscule as to be immaterial to the U.S. software giant's massive bottom line, but the deals stand out because they involve the exchange of intellectual property.

In recent weeks, there has been a veritable drumbeat of technology investments of various sizes. Ericsson, the Stockholm-based mobile network company, said Monday that it would buy Netwise, a Swedish developer of Internet phone software, for 300 million kronor, or $42.3 million. Last week, Motorola offered to buy TTP Communications, a British wireless company, for £103 million, or $194 million.

To Patrick Sheehan, a managing partner of 3i Investments in London, European technology investment is entering a "late spring" after a long, hard winter. Ideas that have been bubbling along quietly since the technology crash of 2000 are now starting to come to the surface and attract investors, he said.

"The environment in Europe is much better than it ever was," said Sheehan, who has been investing in start-up companies since 1985.

 
by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:55:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? No gloom and doom? No discussion about "statist" and "populist" backwards European economies? No talk of unsustainable welfare states and poor education? Nothing about low investments into R&D? Why this is an outrage!

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:19:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there's a "new blossoming". These things happen. Must be cyclical ;).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...would look strangely at this thread. We doing nothing but mock or lament at the clippings...
by Nomad on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:08:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we select clippings with a view to mocking or lamenting them in the first place.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll let Fran answer that :-)

But, if you look through the thread, the discussions are rarely meta, they are on the substance of the article : Brown's speech before the CBI, for example, or Royal's remarks on the 35-hour week, or the "report" claiming business doesn't have a say in EU regulation-making.

The above piece about tech investment invites mockery. Until yesterday the pundits were all telling us Europe doesn't have the right kind of business environment for tech innovation, over-regulation and not enough R&D, etc etc. Now we're told it's great. Everything suddenly changed? Or the message changed?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, Microsoft decided to buy a couple of startups so they have to come up with a theory of it.

It's like stock market analysts who are paid to come up qith ex-post-facto explanations of rndom market movements.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:53:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dunno... news is bad almost be definition. I think this kind of behavior is a cultural universal.

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 Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:19:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, we don't. We discuss Royal's statements on the 35-hour week, for example. We criticise Brown's anti-European speech. This is neither mocking nor lamenting. Though, of course, there are often things to mock or lament in a press review.

As for the hypothetical outsider, it all depends on who s/he is, and what her/is feelings about life, society, the world, are... ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Things are coming to a head in Spain...
La Vanguardia: The PP makes its discourse more extreme and compares PSOE to ETA (06/06/2006)
The PSOE warns that the peace process is not going to stop because of the PP's crisis

The PP's general secretary, Ángel Acebes, made the break between his party and Zapatero's government official official on account of the peace process in the Basque Country. "Zapatero's project is ETA's", said Acebes. The Socialists warned Rajoy that the peace process is not going to stop because of the internal crisis they claim is hitting the PP.

"Forty years of death cannot end with the good guys losing. We have to stop."

"We would become accomplices with the least relationship with the Government"

The headline I translate is the frontpage one, which does not match the one in the article.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:59:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forty years of death cannot end with the good guys losing.
This coming from a former member of a Government which decorated a notorious torturer as a "good guy".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El Pais: Batasuna, ready to discuss its return to legality in order to take a seat at the party table (06-06-2006)
"If it is necessary, we'll talk about that as well", says Otegi

"If a legality status is necessary to take part in the party table", Batasuna "will talk about that as well". So said today its leader, Arnaldo Otegi, who nevertheless has wanted to clarify that that "is not the central question" at this moment in his opinion. Otegi made these statements after the Basque socialists made public their intention to meet with that group, made illegal by the Tribunal Supremo, to convince them of the need to reject violence and return to legality.

The PSE's meeting with Batasuna to convince them to renounce violence is what has led the PP to accuse Zapatero of being on the same page as ETA.

The "party table" would be made up of Basque political parties and would discuss the political solution to the Basque problem. In parallel, the government would negotiate with ETA, presumably on disarmament and prisoners but not on political issues.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 10:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RIA Novosti: Yushchenko slams Crimea NATO decision as "political speculation"


KIEV, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - A decision by regional lawmakers to declare Ukraine's Crimea region on the Black Sea a "NATO-free zone" is nothing but political speculation, the country's president said Tuesday.

Crimean legislators earlier Tuesday declared the peninsula a NATO-free zone after a U.S. cargo ship, Advantage, called at the Black Sea port of Feodosia on May 27 ahead of a NATO exercise, Sea Breeze 2006, sparking mass protests in the largely Russian-speaking area.

"This decision is yet more political speculation," Viktor Yushchenko said at a meeting with media executives. "It does not introduce any dramatic changes in Ukraine-NATO relations."

Yushchenko said Ukraine had a plan of cooperation with NATO, like Russia and other former Soviet republics.

"Implementation of the plan falls directly within the competence of the central authorities, government, parliament and president," he said.

In February, the previous Ukrainian parliament banned foreign troops from entering the country to take part in military exercises on Ukrainian soil. But Ukrainian prosecutors said the Advantage had not violated Ukrainian legislation.

"The Advantage, which delivered hardware and arms for a military exercise, is not a warship," a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said. He also said that the troops on board the vessel had crossed into Ukraine unarmed and could not therefore be classified as a foreign military unit.

by blackhawk on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:37:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blackhawk, what is going on with the local authorities in Easter Ukraine? This come on the heels of their declaration of Russian as a "regional language".

Do these regions have the means to enforce these resolutions in any meaningful way, or are they just posturing?

How long before they declare themselves independent, like the Transdniester, or South Ossetia?

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:47:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eastern, not Easter.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:47:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's not a first region declared NATO-free territory (at least Kharkov had done so).

They have constituency that does not support many of the current policies of the central government, and central government is not keen to listening or any sort of compromise. Those decisions at the moment are mostly a nuisance, but at the same time the push and desire for federalisation seems to be growing. Also at this moment central government is mostly disfunctional: massive purges after Orange revolution, the current cabinet is going to be reshuffled shortly, no coalition yet in the parliament and no constitutional court.

In this case, the central government itself seems to violate the laws and the constitution by admitting foreign troops. The previous parliament explicitly denied the conduct of the current NATO maneuveres, but the government allowed them to unload anyway (see a CYA passage in the story how arms/equipment and troops were separated and how supposedly it makes them civilians).

Any declaration of independence is impossible legally under current constitution and will be met with force, and I don't think any region will risk it at the moment. It's mostly protests now: in Crimea people are trying to block movements of US troops, businesses denying service to them, etc.

by blackhawk on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 08:44:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You talk of a push to federalism and a dysfunctional central government. What level of self-government and what authority does a Ukrainian Oblast have, and how about the Crimean Autonomous Region and the cities of Kiev and Sebastopol?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 08:51:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

In general, for Oblast self-government is limited, and financing is coming mostly from Kiev. Whenever Oblast steps on state authority, state wins. The head of the Oblast is appointed by the President, and Rada (regional parliament) is elected. Kiev has an elected major presiding over elected Rada, Sebastpol has an appointed by the President major (if I'm not mistaken) and elected Rada.

Crimea is a parliamentary Republic with a Cabinet elected by the Supreme Rada (the parliament). Its laws can not contradict the laws of Ukraine.

by blackhawk on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 10:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do these regions have the means to enforce these resolutions in any meaningful way, or are they just posturing?
IMH(but educated)O, the biggest part of this is in reality pre-coalition posturing. The president's party, according to many sources, was ready to establish an "orange-blue" coalition, which would have incorporated Party of Regions (actual winner of the elections) into power in a meaningful way. It is said the plans were shelved at the US insistence. Therefore, the Party of Regions is trying to show to the president that marginalizing it would be painful: All of the regions which declared Russian the regional languages, plus Crimea, got Party of Regions as the dominant force in regional legislatures.

I guess that if PoR gets into the coalition, next year's NATO-Ukraine military games will happen quietly and nicely, as they did previously. Russian as a regional language might be the "fact on the ground" which would be hard to uproot de-facto, but equally impossible to make legal.

by Sargon on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 09:09:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! This old comment of yours makes more sense now.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 09:25:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD NEWS
by Fran on Mon Jun 5th, 2006 at 11:59:53 PM EST
Guardian: Disgraced leader beats ex-soldier in Peruvian presidential election

Alan García, whose 1985-90 presidency of Peru marked a period of political turbulence and left the country in economic ruin, has won back the office in a run-off against a nationalist ex-soldier endorsed by Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez.

Mr García had a lead of 55.5% against 44.5% for Ollanta Humala with 77.3% of the vote counted, the electoral agency said. That margin could shrink, however, as Mr Humala's support is strongest in rural areas, where vote reporting is slower.

Speaking before the agency made its announcement, Mr García said his victory showed Peruvians wanted no part of the "militaristic, retrograde model" that Mr Chávez was "trying to impose" in South America.

A Humala victory could have tilted Peru in favour of the "friends of Chávez", who have already extended his regional influence with the election of Evo Morales as Bolivia's president in December.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:09:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Pentagon's interrogation manual dodges Geneva ban

The Pentagon is drafting a new rulebook for military interrogators which omits the Geneva convention ban on "humiliating and degrading treatment", it was reported yesterday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the army field manual on interrogation has not been finalised, and state department lawyers are fighting to have the convention protections restored.

Pentagon officials said yesterday that a final version should be published in the next few weeks.

A spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Ballesteros, said: "The document you refer to remains in coordination and it would be premature to comment on it prior to its release. The department of defence remains committed to the humane treatment of all its detainees."

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:16:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is so sad. Simply depressing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:56:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They'll put it back, in this form:

"You will not humiliate or degrade prisoners - in front of witnesses"

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:57:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just wait for the UN human rights committee to get its hands on a copy of this...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Digby wrote:-
http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_digbysblog_archive.html#114953910455778259

" They think that "being tough" and "sending the right message" will make the enemy put its tail between its legs and run for the hills. .........

Romans and conservatives are very big on "sending messages." They like to make examples of people; it's one of their favorite authoritarian tactics. And executing children sends a hell of a message, no doubt about it. No gloves anywhere to be seen in that operation. The "humiliating and degrading" treatment at Abu Ghraib, the torture at Bagram and Gitmo and god knows where else, the kidnapping and renditions, and yes, the massacre of civilians including children, is not a matter of incompetence or misunderstanding or the fog of war. It's the plan.

The vaunted neo-conservative intellectuals have a simplistic, shoolyard view of the world based on what appears to be a very simplistic, schoolyard psychology that very much appealed to the boy-man that had been installed in the white house when bin Laden struck on 9/11. What serendipity! It is this puerile psychological misfire that united them with the feverish one handed typists of the 101st keyboarders --- all threats, no matter how small or insignificant at the time, must be met with crude brute force lest someone taunt you about your small cojones. The real threat is the appearance of weakness.

.......................Yet they also need to maintain a sort of religious fiction about themselves as being purveyors of democracy and freedom --- concepts that don't ordinarily lend themselves to barbaric message sending.

And that is how we found ourselves invading and occupying (and killing and torturing) to prove we are good and they are evil. And it's why with every failure, every misstep, every hypocrisy and war crime, this braindead macho policy makes America far more vulnerable today than we were on 9/11. This mistaken belief that bin Laden attacked us because he thought we were weak --- has made us weak. Virtually the entire American political establishment got punked by Osama bin Laden's trash talking and they still don't get it. With every impotent "message" of toughness we send, the more we play into his hands.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:35:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gulf News: US economy may be heading downhill

After years of talking about the Goldilocks economy not too hot and not too cold all of a sudden it appears the little rascal just got mugged by the three bears.

While the US economy began the year growing at a strong pace, activity seems to have hit the skids in the spring.

Factory orders fell in April. The five-year housing boom is cooling, with home sales falling and price gains slowing. In the biggest shocker of all, the government reported Friday that businesses created just 75,000 new jobs in May 100,000 fewer than expected.

If the onslaught of weaker economic data was not bad enough, there also are signs that long-dormant inflation may be starting to be a problem, and not just in the pain from $3 per gallon gasoline.

The relentless rise in crude oil to above $70 per barrel seems to be starting to trigger price problems outside of energy. The core rate of inflation, excluding food and energy, is now above the 2 per cent upper limit favoured by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WaPo: Fed Chief Raises Inflation Concern

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke expressed more concern about rising inflation than the cooling U.S. economy yesterday, sending his strongest signal yet that interest rates are probably headed higher.

Stocks plunged after Bernanke vowed to combat the recent "unwelcome" pickup in inflation, even as he told an international bankers' conference that an economic slowdown "seems now to be underway."



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 Jun 6th, 2006 at 02:59:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"When night falls, will any of us see the dawn"

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:37:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the average US consumer is in consumer debt up to his/her eyeballs with their major 'investment' being a house - they also haven't paid for - it will be interesting to see how they can avoid debt-peonage.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Jun 7th, 2006 at 10:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gulf News: People are supporting us, says Taliban commander

Chaman: The Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan and are determined to intensify their attacks against foreign and government forces, a Taliban commander said yesterday.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan in recent weeks to its worst since the 2001 overthrow of the hardline Taliban government but the district commander, Mullah Hayat Khan, said the violence was winning the militants more support.

"There is more anger against foreign forces and their brutality against the people," he said, referring to recent bombing by US forces that he said had killed many civilians.

"The people of Afghanistan have become fed up with Americans," said Khan, who said he was Taliban commander of the Spin Boldak area, in the southern province of Kandahar, opposite Chaman. "They break into houses, arrest people indiscriminately and torture them. These brutalities have increased anger among the people," he said.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:32:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet winning hearts and minds is so easy. Apparently you just delete the Geneva convention from your manuals whilst you train your soldiers in "ethics".

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:39:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
TVNZ: Man in court on sedition charges

The trial of an Auckland man charged with two counts of sedition is underway.

Tim Selwyn denies publishing pamphlets that the Crown alleges called on people to react with lawlessness and disorder.  He was involved in an incident in 2004 during which an axe was thrown through the Prime Minister's electorate office in Mount Albert.

The Crown told the Auckland District Court that Selwyn left pamphlets at the scene and in Ponsonby calling on others to react with similar civil disobedience.

The Crown says to find him guilty the jury must decide if the pamphlets did call on a similar response to his own and whether Selwyn knew that is what the material set out to do.

There's extensive coverage of the trial and the history of sedition in New Zealand on my blog.

by IdiotSavant on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS AND THAT
by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:00:21 AM EST
Hindustan Times: Ganges dolphins struggling for existence

When the Goddess Ganga, according to Hindu mythology, came down to Earth from the skies, the dolphin was amongst the creatures that heralded the descent of the holy river.

Today, the Ganga river dolphin, which was one of the world's first protected species, given special status under the reign of Emperor Ashoka, is crying for its existence.

The Ganga river dolphin is an extremely valuable species for monitoring the aquatic environment. It acts as an indicator of health for the ecosystem of the river system. Being at the top of the food chain, its presence in adequate numbers signifies a rich biodiversity within the river system.

But the IUCN's (World Conservation Union) red list of threatened animals has recently changed the status of this species from vulnerable to endangered.

Concerned over this alarming phenomenon, WWF India is organising a riverboat rally, as part of their "Save the River Dolphin" campaign, from May 7-8 on the Ganga river.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Prayer vigil targets Devil's Day

Dutch evangelical Christians are to hold a round-the-clock prayer vigil to ward off the forces of evil on Tuesday - the so-called Devil's Day.

They believe that the sixth day of the sixth month of 2006 has great significance for evil-doers and Satanists who revere the number 666.

In a bid to counteract the forces of evil, more than 2,000 Dutch Christians will hold "a violent day of worship".

They will be joined by Christians in 23 other countries, organisers say.

The reference to 666 is taken from the Biblical book of Revelation, which talks about the events leading to the end of the world.

Revelation 13:18 states: "If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:37:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dare we ask what a "violent" day of worship entails ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:40:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: Tai chi: Old energy for a new age

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day has recently come and gone, with thousands of participants in 34 countries giving free tai chi demonstrations and classes. Now in its seventh year, the event aims to send a "positive wave of energy" around the world and draw attention to the benefits of this ancient Chinese form of exercise which is steadily establishing itself in the West.

The early morning practice of tai chi, which can be seen in city parks throughout China, is now an increasingly common sight in Europe and America, too, where it is hailed as the new yoga. Its benefits have been validated by recent studies indicating that regular practice contributes to better balance, flexibility and mobility, can reduce cardiovascular stress, and can help with symptoms of arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Tai chi could well join a growing list of "alternative" therapies invoked by Western health authorities to counter the stress and strain of modern living.

Tai chi was originally developed as a discipline for Taoist monks and hermits who fled the restlessness of the cities to find quiet in remote and mountainous regions. Those places had their dangers, from poor climatic conditions to wild animals, bandits and other aggressors. How was the poor hermit to protect himself against all those threats? The answer, supposedly devised by a 12th-century monk of the Wu Tang monastery, Zhang Sanfeng, was a progressive series of exercises, based on Taoist observation of nature, which would become known later as tai chi chuan, meaning "supreme ultimate fist."

The name reveals it to be a combative art, but much practice and guidance with a master are required to be able to draw on tai chi in a situation of real conflict. Many will not get past first principles, but as the first stage is to make yourself mentally and physically fit and healthy, that is already well worth attaining.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you think about Tai Chi, Fran?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I think of Tai Chi first thing that comes into my mind, is a documentary about Vietnam I have seen a long time ago. I missed the beginning, and went right to the scene were they showed a Rikshadriver jumping and I mean jumping and laughing on his bike, speeding around in Saigon. They also showed him doing Tai Chi. I was wondering way they showed him for such a long time. Well, it turns out he was 95 years old, with black hair and really fit. He did Tai Chi everyday for over 50 years.

However, I am biased as I found my home in Yoga and I have no personal experience with Tai Chi. From observation and listening to people who do it, I would say it teaches  concentration and focuses the mind, it relaxes and probably also improves flexibility and stamina. However, in Yoga there is also the often underestimated aspect of weight training, which I consider important, especially for women, as it has been shown that it can be a helpful factor in osteoporosis prevention. Also, I have had clients who do Tai Chi and still do not breathe properly. With Yoga I have seen the right breathing to generalise more easily into everyday living. But, I would say doing Tai Chi is better than not doing anything.

My guess it has the same challenge like Yoga. To really make a difference you should be doing it every day. Once a week feels nice, but doesn't really change anything. I go with motto, which I also preach to my Yoga student: "a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing". So a daily small program can make a big difference over time, also with Tai Chi.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 08:55:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just had to translate this one, look closely at the "sexual preference" question, its result and its phrasing ... talk about politically correct bullshit. Why don't they just say "would be bothered by a gay-fucking-queerwad"?

Le Monde - French people do not want a politically engaged anchorman.

Eight out of 10 French people would be bothered by an anchorman displaying political convictions, and at least as many (77%) by an anchorman displaying religious convictions, according to an Ipsos/TV Hebdo poll published Tuesday by this weekly.

TV viewers would also be bothered if the anchorman made mistakes in French (73%) or if he displayed his sexual preferences (52%).

They however accept a non-white anchorman (97%), an anchorman speaking in his original accent (91%), who has a visible handicap (88%) and who is in a relationship with a political figure (80%) [a nod to anchorwoman Beatrice Schoenberg]. Finally, 80% are not bothered by an anchorman staying at his job for over 10 years nor by an anchorman in casual wear.

[..]

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:54:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FOOTBALL SUMMER
by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:00:49 AM EST
Financial Times: And whose foot will the slipper fit?

History suggests there are two routes to winning the Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer at each World Cup: play in a lot of games; or batter in a hatful in one match against poor opposition.

Prime exponent of the second method was Oleg Salenko, the Russian forward who, in 1994, hit five against a dispirited Cameroon in a meaningless group match to finish as the tournament's joint top-scorer with Hristo Stoichkov of Bulgaria.

That was a case of an ageing team with nothing left to play for capitulating - as Bulgaria themselves did against Spain four years later. The side most likely to cave in like this in 2006 is Iran. Given that their final group game is against Angola, it is difficult to see any opposition forward cashing in.

Group D is, nonetheless, probably the one with the greatest disparity between teams and it would be no great surprise to see Portugal and Mexico scoring freely in their opening matches.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:40:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seen in an article about France's "defensive prowess" - I like this title by L'Equipe, France's most read sports newspaper (and I believe also the most read newspaper in the country):

"Zidane participates in the collective effort"

And they put this title next to a picture of Zidane doing a nasty, illegal, tackle-from-behind:

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least that's in L'Equipe, not in a British tabloid. Otherwise we'd be in for another round of deconstruction.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 04:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<snarky-snarkies>, Migu?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:21:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we can't see on the image whether he first touched the ball or the opponent's legs, or whether he is doing a twist.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:31:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly, he could have played the ball and then the forward fell over his outstretched leg, which is not a foul (unless our man Sepp has changed the rules again).

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hehe that made me laugh, I imagined Zidane doing a breakdance on the field
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 09:16:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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