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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 26 October

by Fran Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 01:59:34 AM EST

On this date in history:

1954 - Trieste return to Italy.

More here and here


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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:00:08 AM EST
BBC:  Disputes set for EU-Russian summit

Disagreements over trade, energy, human rights and international affairs look set to dominate the EU-Russia summit near the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

It is the last one that Vladimir Putin is due to attend as Russian president before he steps down next year.

EU officials are hoping to ease the increasingly strained relations between the bloc and Russia.

But ahead of the summit, rights groups have urged the EU to challenge the Kremlin over its human rights record.

The setting for Vladimir Putin's last summit with EU leaders could not be more uplifting - a huge, baroque convent, under an almost cloudless sky.

There is modest hope that the political mood will be slightly less chilly at the end of the day.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:23:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]

EU officials are hoping to ease the increasingly strained relations between the bloc and Russia.

Maybe it would be a good idea to stop blaming Russia for our lack of a coherent energy policy...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:57:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, more to the point, for the consequences of our lack of energy policy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:58:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com: World citizens favour stronger EU global role
Citizens worldwide prefer "soft power" in international affairs rather than military might, and the EU appears to be the political actor whose role is most respected, a new survey suggests.

In the poll, released by new think tank the European Council on Foreign Relations, more than one third of the respondents (35 percent) said they see an increased EU power as a central element needed to develop a better world.

In comparison, 26 percent of respondents would like to see US influence grow, while 23% would like Russia to be more important and 24% say the same thing about China.

On top of that, 37% estimate the world would be better off if US influence in the world declined, and 29% and 32% believe this is true about Russia and China respectively.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neo-tank think rounding?

35 + 26 + 23 + 24 = 108%

37 + 29 + 32 = 98%

Was it a month ago that another ECFR ´release´ promoted fear via pseudo-progressiveness?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 01:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's possible that the answers are non-exclusive, I guess. For instance you could theoretically want to have a greater international role for both the EU and China.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:51:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com: France muddies waters with 'Mediterranean Union' idea
French president Nicolas Sarkozy has reiterated his plan to set up a Mediterranean Union, a loose grouping of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, in 2008 - a move that is likely to raise eyebrows in some parts of Europe.

"I invite all the heads of state and government of countries bordering the Mediterranean to meet in France in June 2008 to lay the foundations of a political, economic and cultural union founded on the principles of strict equality", Mr Sarkozy said during his visit to Morocco on Tuesday (23 October).

He added that "in the Mediterranean will be decided whether or not civilisations and religions will wage the most terrible of wars...whether or not the North and the South will clash".

The idea of a Mediterranean Union is not a completely new one - it was floated by Mr Sarkozy leader during the French presidential campaign in spring of this year.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:26:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC:  Lithuanian mayor bans gay rally

An annual gay rights conference in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, was attacked with smoke bombs, after a rally in the city was banned.

Over 200 gays, lesbians and transsexuals attended the meeting.

Delegates inside a local bar found it difficult to breathe after the smoke bombs were thrown, but had to stay inside because of safety concerns.

The event was to be part of a week of events organised by ILGA Europe, a gay rights group based in Brussels.



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy Promises Green Revolution for France | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 25.10.2007
President Sarkozy has unveiled a raft of tax measures and investment pledges, saying they will revolutionize France's environmental policy and put the country at the forefront of the fight against global warming.

Speaking at the end of a two-day, high-profile national environment conference at the Elysee Palace  attended by former US Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore and European Commission Head Jose Manuel Barroso, Sarkozy called for an "ecological new deal" to push France toward the vanguard of the battle against global warming.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Illustrious green circle -- Sarkozy and Barosso with Kenya's Wangar Maathai and Al Gore

"France hasn't fallen behind, but it wants now to be in the lead," Sarkozy said at the end of the special environmental policy meeting seeking ways to slash greenhouse gas emissions and help change attitudes to the environment in society.

"The time for action has come. We have waited too long; we cannot wait any longer," he said. "France wants to be ahead, and it wants to be exemplary."

by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will that mean anything positive for SNCF and anything negative for road construction?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:37:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It will mean nothing. It's mostly a media stunt. Borloo announced that France would stop building motorways, but I bet he'll be overruled.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, who dominates in French road consruction? Bouygues?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Other large Public Works companies are Eiffage and Vinci ; they tend to have lower profile, but are not necessarily smaller.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:02:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I ask because of Sarko connections -- how much of the road construction sector he'd be likely to defend for 'personal' reasons.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for posting it, Fran, but I didn't miss it ! :-)

See Gore Greens Sarkozy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sudanese Lawyer Wins EU Human Rights Prize | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 25.10.2007
The Sudanese human rights lawyer Salih Mahmoud Osman, the man who represented victims of Sudan's civil war and human rights abuses, was awarded the European Parliament's annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

An opposition member of the Sudanese parliament who also works for the Sudan Organization Against Torture, Osman has provided free legal representation for victims of the civil war and human rights abuses in Sudan's Darfur region for over 20 years.

Experts estimate that around 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by the violence in Darfur since mostly non-Arab rebels began a war against the Sudanese government in early 2003, accusing it of neglect. The Sudanese government puts the death toll at 9,000 and says the West exaggerates the conflict.

"The European Parliament wants to recognize the very important work of this very courageous man, who has made his voice heard to make sure the rule of law is being supported in Sudan," the president of the parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, said in announcing the prize, adding that the choice had been unanimous.

by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:01:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia Rejects New US Offer on Missile Defense at NATO Summit | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 25.10.2007
Russian officials said they were no closer to agreeing with the US over planned missile bases in Eastern Europe at an informal meeting of NATO which however managed to drum up fresh troops for Afghanistan.

The row between the United States and Russia over the proposed stationing of bases for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe was once more addressed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Netherlands but there was little progress in easing tensions.

Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told reporters that proposals by the United States aimed at resolving the row had not allayed Moscow's concerns.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Serdyukov said that Russia had differences with NATO

"All that has been proposed to us does not satisfy us, our position remains the same," the ITAR-TASS and Interfax news agency quoted Serdyukov as saying. He added however that Washington was "beginning to better understand our concerns."

by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:02:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paris suggests EU tax on imports from non-Kyoto states - EUobserver.com
France has thrown its support behind a European Commission idea to tax environment polluters and also urged Brussels to consider EU levies for imports from non-Kyoto countries, such as the US and Australia.

"We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes... to tax pollution more, including fossil fuels, and to tax labour less," French president Nicolas Sarkozy told an environment forum representing government, industry and the green lobby on Thursday (25 October), according to AFP agency.

His speech came at the final session of the expert platform which had debated climate change issues for the past four months.

Mr Sarkozy argued that Europe should "examine the option of taxing products imported from countries that do not respect the Kyoto Protocol."
by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe should "examine the option of taxing products imported from countries that do not respect the Kyoto Protocol."

Like the United States?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:27:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, that's what came to my mind too. But would they have the balls to do this?
by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:28:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France has floated this idea before (under Chirac), but the Germans, English and the EU Commission were not interested in it at all. I don't expect it to be different this time around.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:13:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another chapter of far-right street theatrics this morning: an attempted blockade of the Erzsébet Bridge, a main crossing of the Danube in Budapest's center.

You can't make sense of this without some recent history. Item #1: the Taxi Blockade exactly 17 years ago, on 26 October 1990. A day after declaring on public radio that there won't be fuel price increases, the then new first elected right-wing government raised them. So that Monday morning, taxi drivers organised a blockade of every main street crossing and bridge in Budapest (below just on Erzsébet bridge), later the rest of the country, and bus and some truck drivers joined them -- this was resolved after four days by negotiations. (I went to highschool by bike along the normally bike-hostile main roads.) But on the Right, it had a lasting bad memory, with conspiracy theories that it was a politically arranged coup attempt...

Item #2: on the morning of 4 July 2002, the looniest right of the local far-right held its first idiots' revolution: 'officially' as an illegal protest against election fraud (another right-wing conspiracy theory), a hundred or two activists blocked Erzsébet bridge with stopped cars, themselves, and the police forces whose deployment they triggered. According to some reports they hoped that, like in 1956, there will be a snowball effect into a revolution against the government... but only chaotic police action followed.

The event today was announced by a far-right web forum yesterday, intentionally as illegal protest because 'the Taxi Blockade 17 years ago wasn't announced to police either'. Their hope was that police deployed against them will ensure the blockade of traffic in itself. Someone was brazen enough to forge an email in the name of the police, and send it to newspaper editors with the announcement that police won't intervene.

Then this morning a few hundred protesters gathered on the Pest side of Erzsébet bridge. After 8h, they managed to stop traffic at least in one direction for one hour, but as the photo on top shows, police quickly managed to constrain its actions to one lane. But meanwhile, three protesters climbed a neighbouring bridge, taking them down blocked traffic there, too. They had some placards, which were unreadable from below...

There were lots of arrests. But I read no reports of violent acts or tear gas. Tho' the large number of journalists still could capture some 'nice' photos:

Then groups of dozens (and equally large groups of journalists accompanying them) radiated out to block traffic at other points in the city. Currently the largest group is blocking a tram in the middle of a main crossing.

A fun fact is that the major of the core of Pest, who is an ambitious young yuppie in the next generation of main right-populist opposition party Fidesz, spoke out against the protest yesterday -- which was not the first time he had to deviate from the don't-criticise-extremists-on-our-side policy of Fidesz.

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

by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:30:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for posting it (and particularly for posting it on a relatively mundane news day!).

How are the residents/commuters responding? Is this good or bad PR for Fidesz?

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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are reports that pedestrians and car drivers have spit on protesters waving the Árpád-stripes flags.

Whether this is good or bad PR for Fidesz? I don't know, but I don't think it will touch them. For those who don't hate them outright and are negative about the protests, they can just say it wasn't them, and point to inner-city district major Antal Rogán's declaration. Those who symphatetize with the far-right won't be much affected, and will resort to whichever conspiracy theory is most fitting.

But I forgot to mention that inner-city major Rogán's situation is special inasmuch as his majority in the district council includes JOBBIK, the far-right youth party that is also connected to today's protest (its spokesman had a leading role).

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

by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:06:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Index.hu now put up some more photos - here is the tram blocking, below it a picture a few minutes earlier, about the 'revolutionary masses' running away from police:

Here the three idiots who climbed a second bridge in a sandwitch of two policemen:

Currently, there is no action, but two dozen re-grouped at the place where the protest started. Could be another day-long hare-and-hounds game.

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

by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:19:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Go after your normal business even during riots.

Construction workers however turned spectators:

I learnt that that guy on a previous photo, the one detained with the policeman's hand in his nose, is the said spokesman of far-right youth party JOBBIK.

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

by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 06:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy: Two news items that may be of interest:

A ruling by the Court of Assise that Mario Lozano cannot go on trial for the assassination of Nicola Calipari.

After watching the government go under seven times in the Senate yesterday, Prodi issued an ultimatum to his coalition. Much of the pandemonium yesterday was caused by Minister of Infrastructures Antonio Di Pietro who is apparently retailiating for the government's renewed support of Minister of Justice Clemente Mastella.

A controversial amendment to the financial decree allots funds to the project for a bridge over the straits of Messina. It is ironic that a person such as Di Pietro who mouths off about justice and values would support a project that was tailor made by Berlusconi for his mafia allies both in Italy and the States.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:51:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, de gondi.

does this mean di pietro has sold out to mafia, or are there some socially redeeming features to this bridge, other than massive switch of tax money to cronies of berlusconi and local constructions industry dons?

is the mastella affair the principle fissure in prodi's coalition?

most peope i know in italy ignore politics, finding it all too much to bear studying, but i struggle gamely on...

your posts have been invaluable in this regard...

'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 Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:54:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Di Pietro declared that according to the law that set up the bridge the state would have to pay penalties if the project were not to go through. Ergo, he asserts that he is saving money for the state by going ahead. Many point out that his reasoning is not as limpid as he would like.

Prodi had an eye-to-eye confrontation with Di Pietro yesterday afternoon and berated him by pointing out that he can't be friends of Cuffaro and Travaglio at the same time. Cuffaro is of course president of Sicily for whom prosecutors have asked for an eight year sentence for aiding and abetting the mafia in a trial concluded these past weeks. Marco Travaglio is the muck-raking journalist who is a strenuous opponent of Berlusconi, corruption and just about everything else.

Sicily represents a very large pool of votes and we will see just what kind of electoral windfall Di Pietro will receive in the Mafia-occupied territories (Calabria and Sicily) in probable anticipated elections. This would of course entail Di Pietro moving over to the rightwing coalition- a prospect that Mastella also entertains. An irony to see the two continue their gutter fight in the other coalition.

The next few days if not hours will be critical for the Prodi government. To paraphrase Prodi, we'll see if members of his coalition have the fate of Italy at heart or their petty personal dealings.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:17:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't find it now (of course), but I recall reading that the proposed bridge would be both an engineering and ecological nightmare.

Apparently the channel is so deep that the towers would have to be extremely far apart. IIRC the weight of the structure itself would be such that traffic would have to drive on the left on the bridge, so that the heavy traffic would be concentrated in the lefthand lane along the centerline.

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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:38:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes it would make a nice bridge blog- "A Bridge over Troubled Waters." But then that would entail explaining how the mafias recycle billions of euros.

Another nightmare is infrastructure. Why build a bridge where the highways are non-existant- a bridge from where to where? A cathedral in the desert.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not viewed as threat - Aftenposten.no
Norway's Minister of Defense Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen says she does not view increased Russian military activity in the north as a threat to Norwegian interests.

As NATO's defense ministers met with their Russian counterpart for talks on Thursday, Russian bombers again flew along the Norwegian coast.

Two Russian Tupolev 95s went as far as the airspace off the NATO meeting point, Noordwijk in the Netherlands, before turning back.

Strøm-Erichsen had no idea or comment about the significance of the latest Russian demonstration, but did call the talks with Russia's defense minister "constructive".

"I see it (the flights) as an expression of the improved Russian economy and an upgrading of their defense. But we are following developments, since they have flown more along the Norwegian coast in the past year than they have in the past ten to twelve put together," she told news agency NTB.

Strøm-Erichsen has contacted Russian authorities about the flights, and said that while they had no duty to inform of their exercises, "it would be good if we knew about them".

At the NATO-Russia council the US missile shield and the agreement about Conventional Forces in Europe were hot topics, and the greatest concern is a Russian withdrawal from the CFE treaty.

Russia remains unmoved by US offers to moderate the missile defense program in Eastern Europe until there is a realistic nuclear threat in Iran, and Norway is also skeptical about the missile plan.

"I held a talk where I said that a missile shield is not necessarily the answer to the challenges we face, and that we fear a new arms race," Strøm-Erichsen said, though she voted this summer to consider a possible NATO connection to the missile shield.

Meanwhile Russia clearly views this defense plan as a link in a new arms race.

"That is why it is important that the USA carries out this present dialog," she said.

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lamberto Dini, ex council president, declared that his group are no longer part of the Prodi coalition. According to him he no longer feels bound to coalition discipline because the party he belonged to "no longer exists." The party, "la Margherita", fused with the PDS to become the Democratic party which recently elected Walter Veltroni secretary. Dini has invented a splinter group called the liberal democrats.

Dini's announcement will put the the government in minority in the Senate.

It's payola time. Obviously personal interests have it over those of the nation.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:00:26 AM EST
U.S. undoubtedly in recession: Jim Rogers | Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States has entered a recession, according to highly-regarded investor Jim Rogers, who told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper on Wednesday he was switching out of the dollar and into yen, the yuan and the Swiss franc.

The veteran investor, who predicted the 1999 commodities rally, also said he was still bullish about surging Chinese stock markets despite worries over a bubble.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:08:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that a recession is defined as two at least consecutive quarters, the statement might be considered more on the order of a prediction, if not an outright guess, than as an analysis.

The veteran investor, who predicted the 1999 commodities rally

As they say in financial circles, "Past performance is no guarantee of future results."

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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Syria 'air strike site removed'

Newly-released satellite images of the presumed site of an Israeli air raid on Syria last month show that a large building has been completely removed.

The independent US research group, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), obtained and analysed the photographs.

The industrial-style building may have been a nuclear reactor under construction, says the ISIS.

Syria says it never had any plans to build a nuclear reactor.

The images suggest that, for whatever reason, the Syrian authorities have gone to great length to remove any trace of the facility.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I must be really stupid today, because I just don't get this: The fact that the Syrians cleared a bombed structure is evidence that they were trying to build a nuclear reactor because... why exactly?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because if it wasn't a nuclear reactor they'd leave the rubble there, of course.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:19:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Syria-North Korea story continues to spiral out of control, based as far as I can see on hyperbole and speculation. Its tiny spark has been repeatedly fanned by The Washington Post into what the paper yesterday called "the boldest act of nuclear preemption" since Israel's attack on the Iraq reactor at Osirik in 1981. <...>

If the United States, Israel or any nation seriously believed there was prohibited or suspicious nuclear activity, they could have called for a special inspection. They still could. Any nuclear material--even after a bombing--would leave traces that IAEA inspectors could detect. This is precisely why we have international agencies--to provide independent, rapid verification of suspect activities. The Washington Post's encouragement for states to shoot first invites a more unstable, less secure world for all.

Joseph Cirincione in Syria had nuclear facilities? Prove it. (2007/9/21)

Not anymore.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 06:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Translation of the incident:

      First a blimb on a old soviet style radar screen. ( weather balloon, migrating birds: it is exactly on that location) The new recruit panics and sends out an alert.
      Central command thinks about a Mossad style hijack operation with helicopters ( as in the Bekaa vally ) and warns the entire region.
      Some Syrian guys at a AA gun had too much arak. They fear that they will be punished and empty the gun, to show that they did a good job.

Results:

      100 square meter pulverised dessert. Well done.
      Syrian ammo stock minus 10 shells, before the gun jammed.
      1 recruit away from the radar screen, to a 50° Celsius border post with Iraq.
      1 decoration for the AA team for the quick response. More arak please.
      more questions in Tel Aviv : are you sure there is not another secret agency doing missions behind enemy lines?

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:04:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In case anyone wants to look into this... http://isis-online.org/

Sourcewatch doesn't have a whole lot on them...
ISIS - SourceWatch

ISIS (Institute For Science And International Security) is "a non-profit, non-partisan institution dedicated to informing the public about science and policy issues affecting international security. Its efforts focus on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, bringing about greater transparency of nuclear activities worldwide, and achieving deep reductions in nuclear arsenals. ISIS's projects integrate technical, scientific, and policy research in order to build a sound foundation for a wide variety of efforts to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons to U.S. and international security."
Apart from not disclosing their sources of funding, they don't seem too toxic.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey's patience running out after rebel attack | International | Reuters

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Abdullah Gul warned Kurdish rebels on Thursday that Turkey's patience was running out after Turkish forces said they had repelled a guerrilla attack near the Iraqi border.

Ankara has massed up to 100,000 troops along the mountainous border before a possible cross-border operation to crush about 3,000 rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who launch attacks into Turkey from northern Iraq.

Iraqi, Turkish and U.S. diplomats have stepped up efforts to avert a large-scale Turkish incursion but Gul said NATO-member Turkey would not tolerate any more PKK attacks from Iraq.

"We are totally determined to take all necessary steps to end this threat ... Iraq should not be a source of threat for its neighbors," Gul told an economic conference in Ankara.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:12:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
POLITICS: U.S. Military Ignored Evidence of Iraqi-Made EFPs
WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (IPS) - When the U.S. military command accused the Iranian Quds Force last January of providing the armour-piercing EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that were killing U.S. troops, it knew that Iraqi machine shops had been producing their own EFPs for years, a review of the historical record of evidence on EFPs in Iraq shows.

The record also shows that the U.S. command had considerable evidence that the Mahdi army had gotten the technology and the training on how to use it from Hezbollah rather than Iran.

The command, operating under close White House supervision, chose to deny these facts in making the dramatic accusation that became the main rationale for the present aggressive U.S. stance toward Iran. Although the George W. Bush administration initially limited the accusation to the Quds Force, it has recently begun to assert that top officials of the Iranian regime are responsible for arms that are killing U.S. troops.

British and U.S. officials observed from the beginning that the EFPs being used in Iraq closely resembled the ones used by Hezbollah against Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon, both in their design and the techniques for using them.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:35:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LATimes:   Sponsors of Armenian genocide resolution back off

WASHINGTON -- Yielding to fierce diplomatic and political pressure, congressional sponsors of an Armenian genocide resolution abruptly put off a vote on the measure Thursday and defused a mounting confrontation with Turkey that was threatening to hamper the U.S. war effort in Iraq.

The decision was a swift reversal for the long-debated resolution, disappointing supporters who only two weeks ago were optimistic that the House would approve it. "We're not going to bring it up until we're confident we have the votes to pass it," said Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., who introduced the measure. "It's going to take some time."

The action extricated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., from the clash between a powerful constituency in California and an important U.S. military ally.

As the measure approached a vote, the Turkish government warned it could lead to a rupture in relations and disrupt U.S. military operations in Iraq. Most of the supplies headed to U.S. forces in Iraq are flown through Turkey. The issue also came up as the U.S. was imploring Turkey not to send forces into northern Iraq to curb Kurdish rebel attacks.


They lost their momentum this time due to circumstances out of their control. But the Armenian lobby won't give up. Turkey should get in front of this while they can...perhaps pin the blame on the Kurds who are now living on the ex-Armenian land...and of course, a handful of bad apples in the otherwise spotless Ottoman regime.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:08:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Darfur Rebels Attack Oil Field, Warn Chinese to Leave Sudan - washingtonpost.com

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Oct. 25 -- Darfur rebels launched a brazen attack on Sudan's oil fields days before peace talks are scheduled to begin with the government, kidnapping two foreign workers and giving Chinese and other oil companies a week to leave the country, a commander said Thursday.

The rebel Justice and Equality Movement said it attacked the Chinese-run Defra oil field Tuesday in the neighboring Kordofan region, the group's latest attempt to broaden the battle beyond the Darfur region of western Sudan.

"The latest attack is a message to the Chinese companies in particular," said Mohamed Bahr Hamdeen, the head of the rebel group in Kordofan. "The Chinese companies are the biggest investors in the Sudanese oil industry."

Liu Jianchao, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, confirmed that rebels had surrounded a Chinese oil field in Sudan and said he hoped both sides in the fighting "will realize a comprehensive cease-fire and settle the Darfur issue through dialogue."

Sudanese media said the kidnapped workers were a Canadian and an Iraqi national, but Hamdeen described them as an Iraqi and an Egyptian working for Schlumberger, a U.S.-based oil services company



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:33:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Further to yesterday's discussion:

Strike on Iran Would Roil Oil Markets, Experts Say - washingtonpost.com

A U.S. military strike against Iran would have dire consequences in petroleum markets, say a variety of oil industry experts, many of whom think the prospect of pandemonium in those markets makes U.S. military action unlikely despite escalating economic sanctions imposed by the Bush administration.

The small amount of excess oil production capacity worldwide would provide an insufficient cushion if armed conflict disrupted supplies, oil experts say, and petroleum prices would skyrocket. Moreover, a wounded or angry Iran could easily retaliate against oil facilities from southern Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz

Oil prices closed at a record $90.46 a barrel in New York yesterday as the Bush administration tightened U.S. financial sanctions on Iran over its alleged support for terrorism and issued new warnings about Tehran's nuclear program. Tension between Turkey and Kurds in northern Iraq, and fresh doubts about OPEC output levels also helped drive the price of oil up $3.36 a barrel, or 3.8 percent.

Although the Bush administration is not openly threatening a military strike against Iran, the president recently spoke of needing to avoid "World War III," and Vice President Cheney said that the United States would "not stand by" while Iran continued its nuclear program. "We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," he said.

Oil traders said that even if the chances of military conflict with Iran were small, the huge run-up in oil prices that would result encourages some speculators and investment funds to bid up the price of oil, adding a premium of $3 to $15 a barrel.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:36:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My alternative tagline for this was

No shit Sherlock dept.:

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

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:37:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
$3 to 15 per barrel is the premium for the risk of an attack. Its value is the expected increase in the price of oil should an attack occur, multiplied by the probability of it happening.

And they say it's a "small" risk. Let's say they mean a 10% chance. That means that oil prices would increase by $30-150$/bl in the case of an attack.

Oil prices at least doubling in the case of war is the minimum, in my view.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mexicans Miss Money From Relatives Up North - New York Times

EL RODEO, Mexico -- For years, millions of Mexican migrants working in the United States have sent money back home to villages like this one, money that allows families to pay medical bills and school fees, build houses and buy clothes or, if they save enough, maybe start a tiny business.

But after years of strong increases, the amount of migrant money flowing to Mexico has stagnated. From 2000 to 2006, remittances grew to nearly $24 billion a year from $6.6 billion, rising more than 20 percent some years. In 2007, the increase so far has been less than 2 percent.

Migrants and migration experts say a flagging American economy and an enforcement campaign against illegal workers in the United States have persuaded some migrants not to try to cross the border illegally to look for work. Others have decided to return to Mexico. And many of those who are staying in the United States are sending less money home.

In the rest of the world, remittances are rising, up as much as 10 percent a year, according to Donald F. Terry of the Inter-American Development Bank. Last year, migrant workers worldwide sent more than $300 billion to developing countries -- almost twice the amount of foreign direct investment.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They "miss" the money because the increase has only been 2%. Talk about sloppy journalism.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's a perfect metaphor for what should be called addiction to growth, or the everlasting growth myth, or the tumours are dandy because growth is by any definition 'good' line of 'thought' presently espoused as progress, as in we made a huge profit selling clusterbomblets to irresponsible leaders to blow up their next generation with, it's all good.

this mindless sucking on a fantasy-lolly redirects the brain's activity into narrow, selfish, rigid mindsets.

that make you need to suck on the lolly some more...

mm, lolly....mmmmm, more, more....

must. have. lolly.....never. enough. lolly......

'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 Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:10:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Esquire: The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know

(Posted in Open Thread last night, but I think it's important enough to post again here.)

Two former high-ranking policy experts from the Bush Administration say the U.S. has been gearing up for a war with Iran for years, despite claiming otherwise. It'll be Iraq all over again.

Months before September 11, [former Afghanistan expert at the U.S. mission to the United Nations Hillary] Mann had been negotiating with the Iranian diplomat at the UN. After the attacks, the meetings continued, sometimes alone and sometimes with their Russian counterpart sitting in. Soon they traded the conference room for the Delegates' Lounge, an airy two-story bar with ashtrays for all the foreigners who were used to smoking indoors. One day, up on the second floor where the windows overlooked the East River, the diplomat told her that Iran was ready to cooperate unconditionally, a phrase that had seismic diplomatic implications. Unconditional talks are what the U.S. had been demanding as a precondition to any official diplomatic contact between the U.S. and Iran. And it would be the first chance since the Islamic revolution for any kind of rapprochement. "It was revolutionary," Mann says. "It could have changed the world."

<...>

Then came the moment that would lead to an extraordinary battle with the Bush administration. It was an average morning in April, about four weeks into the war. Mann picked up her daily folder and sat down at her desk, glancing at a fax cover page. The fax was from the Swiss ambassador to Iran, which wasn't unusual -- since the U.S. had no formal relationship with Iran, the Swiss ambassador represented American interests there and often faxed over updates on what he was doing. This time he'd met with Sa-deq Kharrazi, a well-connected Iranian who was the nephew of the foreign minister and son-in-law to the supreme leader. Amazingly, Kharrazi had presented the ambassador with a detailed proposal for peace in the Middle East, approved at the highest levels in Tehran.

A two-page summary was attached. Scanning it, Mann was startled by one dramatic concession after another -- "decisive action" against all terrorists in Iran, an end of support for Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, a promise to cease its nuclear program, and also an agreement to recognize Israel.

This was huge. Mann sat down and drafted a quick memo to her boss, Richard Haass. It was important to send a swift and positive response.

Then she heard that the White House had already made up its mind -- it was going to ignore the offer. Its only response was to lodge a formal complaint with the Swiss government about their ambassador's meddling.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that I will continue to wear my hat that says "Canada" on the front for a few more years. Not a great decade to say one is a USAian.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 08:27:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More on one of my favorite subjects of the moment, Burma.

First off, AGI reports that the riot police are back on the streets in Rangoon.

(AGI) - Rangoon, Oct 26 - Armed policemen once again on the streets of Rangoon: one months after the protests of Buddhist monks against the military junta, the Burmese police is patrolling several religious sites in Rangoon, with the objective of preventing new protests. A Reuters journalist was kept from taking pictures but he witnessed the concentration of armed policemen in the zone that gives access to the pagoda of Sule and Shwedagon. No roadblocks so far, but in some areas the police has grouped many rolls of barbed wire, to be used to close off the streets. The increased security measures come the day after the meeting between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the minister of labour, general Aung Kyi, instructed to start a dialogue with the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the UN.

From the Washington Post comes a lengthy article describing the protests from the perspective of a Burmese monk who recently escaped to Thailand.

MAE SOT, Thailand, Oct. 25 -- The young Buddhist monk arrived here by boat last week from Burma, exhausted and disheveled, with no passport, the stubble of his hair dyed blond for a disguise, and wearing a traditional Burmese longyi wrap instead of his saffron-colored robe. He had to elude capture by running barefoot, racing two miles down a highway, and jumping into bushes when cars passed.

Burmese troops had been hunting Ashin Kovida for three weeks, since he helped lead pro-democracy protests in Burma's largest city, Rangoon. Ashin Kovida, 24, came to the safety of this mountain town on Thailand's western border, joining about 20 other refugees, many bringing with them new details of the ongoing crackdown in Burma, stories of dramatic escapes and fresh insights into the weeks of peaceful protests that prompted the military junta's violent response.

snip

Pan Cha, who was seasoned in protest during Burma's student uprising in 1988, said in an interview here that when last month's protests began, he held a regular nightly meeting with a Rangoon government official to outline the next day's plans and guarantee security. Pan Cha said the official did not try to stop the demonstrations but told him only that the marches must remain peaceful.

Pan Cha's version of events also seemed to conform with widespread reports at the time that a battle-hardened Burmese army unit was moved into Rangoon to put down the protests. Pan Cha said that on the second day of the protests, he saw soldiers clapping as the procession passed their post. He said he learned that night that Senior Gen. Than Shwe, head of the junta, had issued an order to shoot the protesters but that the local official said he would not follow the order. On Sept. 26, Pan Cha said, he received word that a different army unit, from the 66th Division, which for years had battled ethnic minority rebels from Karen state, had been brought to Rangoon. That day, the violence began.

snip

The violence began Sept. 26. Army troops from the regiment newly arrived from outside Rangoon, as well as police, surrounded the monks who had gathered at Shwedagon Pagoda to start their march. All four corners of the pagoda grounds were blocked.

A group of monks sat down in an attempt to begin negotiations to defuse the situation. "They started to pray, but the police just started beating them," Pan Cha said. Instantly, 50 to 100 police officers jumped from hiding places wielding wooden batons. A loudspeaker started blaring, telling people to go away. But there was nowhere to run; soldiers and police blocked all the exits.

Ashin Kovida felt the blow to his belly before he saw the stick coming. He was one of the seated monks and had raised his praying hands to his forehead as he chanted the Buddhist mantra for peace. As he doubled over from the blow, he saw novice monks trying to scramble up a high wall behind them. "People were trying to escape by climbing that wall, but the police were pulling them down and kicking them, even a girl."

The Independent  reports that Burma's two major supporters, China and India, are not willing to take more than token action against the regime.

China has rebuffed international demands to take tougher action against the Burmese regime, saying the recent demands for democracy and their violent repression by the authorities were issues that had to be resolved by Burma's "own people".

The rejection of the UN's request came as the imprisoned democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met a representative of the regime for the first time in several years.

While the Chinese authorities told UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari they were prepared to support the international community, they made clear they were only prepared to put limited pressure on its neighbour, an increasingly important source of oil and gas.

"The Myanmar [Burma] issue, after all, has to be appropriately resolved by its own people and government through their own efforts of dialogue and consultation," state councillor Tang Jiaxuan told Mr Gambari. "The international community should provide constructive help for that end and should not only stick to imposing sanctions and pressure."

snip

India has also made clear it is not prepared to act. "We have shared our views and we have commonality of the approach, and let the process which began in Myanmar for the political reforms and national reconciliation, let it be taken to its logical conclusion," the Indian Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said yesterday.

by Zwackus on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:44:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pan Cha said that on the second day of the protests, he saw soldiers clapping as the procession passed their post. He said he learned that night that Senior Gen. Than Shwe, head of the junta, had issued an order to shoot the protesters but that the local official said he would not follow the order. On Sept. 26, Pan Cha said, he received word that a different army unit, from the 66th Division, which for years had battled ethnic minority rebels from Karen state, had been brought to Rangoon. That day, the violence began.

Reminds me of 1956, when the Red Army had similar 'problems' with its locally deployed units.

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

by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From a friend who knows Burma well and spends a lot of time there, monasteries in remote areas have been emptied, and movement leaders in jail. Protests happened only in the two main cities. He also complained about the very short media attention span, and how Aung San Suu Kyi would be upon access to power a neoliberal reformist, which he doesn't like. (Ethnologist tend to have conservative views upon regime changes that mean that traditional ways of life get turned upside down).

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:58:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that the current government rules the country like a traditional monarchy (take as much as possible, screw everyone outside the small group of cronies, suppress all dissent by force), pretty much any modern political philosophy, even neo-liberal, would be an improvement over their current SOP.
by Zwackus on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They could be worse off under the kind of regime North Korea has...

Also, some people would indeed be worse off under neoliberalism. More precisely, the kind of people ethnologists tend to study...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't the hill tribes the ones being attacked by the the military on a regular basis?

Got me on North Korea, though.

by Zwackus on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:35:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's been working on the Moken, sea nomads, who are still going on in Burma,  whereas they are tourist attraction, drunk and with a broken society in Thailand...

And neoliberal reform aren't a guarantee that minorities would get better treatment. See the situation in Georgia or Turkey ; democracy doesn't mean the end of oppression for some.

Also, the other worst case scenarios are Iraq and Afghanistan (heroin trade as a direct connection to the later case)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:45:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel Online: Panic Specialists Bring Order to the Haij
Fatal crushes often occur during the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, sometimes killing hundreds of people. Now German researchers using traffic-modelling software have re-organized the ritual to make it safer for pilgrims.

The death toll in 1990 was over 1,400. It was 270 in 1994, 118 in 1998 and 251 in 2004. Hundreds of people crushed, trampled and choked to death. Anders Johansson knew Mecca the way every prospective panic researcher gets to know the city: in terms of casualty numbers.

It is Jan. 12, 2006 and Johansson is experiencing the reality behind the statistics at first hand. He has travelled to Mecca on the invitation of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. Johansson is here to study the flow of pilgrims -- the subject of his dissertation at Dresden University of Technology.

As the sun reaches its zenith, Johansson watches a sea of colored dots on a monitor. The dots are pilgrims dressed in white robes, on their way to the three pillars in a valley outside Mina, several kilometers from Mecca. The pillars symbolize the devil, who will now be ceremonially stoned. It is here that Abraham is said to have once chased the devil away by throwing stones. These days, the area is under video surveillance.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:24:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he could some work with the politicians stampeded by the threat of terrorism.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:33:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Bodies Are Found On Burned Hilltop

The fire came blowing in from the hills near here, carried by 80- to 90-mile-per-hour winds. It was 3 a.m. on Monday. Woodchip piles and cars burst into flame, and then the avocado groves and finally the houses.

Among them was the home of Chris Bain and Victoria Fox who lived on a hilltop at the end of a long winding road. The San Diego County authorities found them early Thursday, searching the property at the request of relatives. The house, in this unincorporated area near Poway, was destroyed; burned-out husks of several cars were at the entrance.

They were the second and third people identified by the authorities as having died in the wildfires that have raced across Southern California since Sunday, but have somewhat amazingly claimed relatively few lives. Late Thursday, Border Patrol agents were reported to have found the bodies of four unidentified immigrants believed to have been killed after crossing the Mexican border.

Neighbors here said Mr. Bain and Ms. Fox were found near their garage and speculated that they might have been trying to get out. The house was among a half dozen or so that burned along the same ridge.

John Snow, 68, has lived nearby for 40 years. He said he had been through many fires, but never one this bad. When he saw the hillside glowing through the smoke, he and his wife went to their truck.

"We were driving through fire for two miles," Mr. Snow said.

He said he had seen the hillside where Mr. Bain and Mrs. Fox lived, but had assumed that everyone had left.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikinews: New Zealand repeals sedition law
At a time when many countries are tightening anti-terrorism legislation and discussing on whether to "crack-down" on freedom of speech, New Zealand has repealed its sedition law. The Crimes (Repeal of Seditious Offences) Amendment Bill was passed by the New Zealand Parliament by an overwhelming majority of 114 to 7.

I did it!

But gloating aside, this has been an entirely uncontroversial move here in NZ.  We just don't really see the need for cracking down on "terrorism" by limiting free speech, unlike the UK or Australia.

by IdiotSavant on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 06:51:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Congratulations, IdiotSavant!!!  This is the most hopeful news for progressives today.

That is a tremendous accomplishment, which looking at your links, looks like it took you over a year.  It has such important implications on the neocon/neolib strategy of ruling by fear, that it sounds almost unbelievable in 'the west'.

Moreover, the lack of strong opposition throughout the process says a lot about New Zealand!

It would be very informative to read a diary about how it was organized, what networks were involved....

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over two years, since the law was dragged out and used against Tim Selwyn.

As for organisation, there wasn't much.  All I did was research and lobby a few MPs.  Given the historical facts about how this law had been used as a tool of political censorship, the case pretty much made itself.

by IdiotSavant on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:01:13 AM EST
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Neanderthals 'were flame-haired'

Some Neanderthals were probably redheads, a DNA study has shown.

Writing in Science journal, a team of researchers extracted DNA from remains of two Neanderthals and retrieved part of an important gene called MC1R.

In modern people, a change - or mutation - in this gene causes red hair, but, until now, no one knew what hair colour our extinct relatives had.

By analysing a version of the gene in Neanderthals, scientists found that they also have sported fiery locks.

"We found a variant of MC1R in Neanderthals which is not present in modern humans, but which causes an effect on the hair similar to that seen in modern redheads," said lead author Carles Lalueza-Fox, assistant professor in genetics at the University of Barcelona.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:15:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neanderthals 'were flame-haired'

Some Neanderthals were probably redheads, a DNA study has shown.

Reminds me of the joke about the mathematician who was taking a stroll with a couple of friends when they saw a sheep in a field.

"Look, sheep in this region are black" says the first friend.

"All you can say is there are some black sheep in this region" says the second friend.

"No, all you can say is that there is one sheep with a black side in this region". says the mathematician.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ain't the first friend supposed to be a biologist or an engineer and the second a physicist ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't want to get into a pie fight: I was going to call the second a physicist and the third a journalist.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:59:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i always loved that story! ta for e-minding me of it, mig-

'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 Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:02:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that the gene that makes orangutans orange?

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 09:58:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ultimate equalizer?

Playing Video Games Reduces Sex Differences In Spatial Skills

ScienceDaily (Oct. 26, 2007) -- University of Toronto researchers have discovered that differences between men and women on some tasks that require spatial skills are largely eliminated after both groups play a video game for only a few hours.

The research, to be published in the October issue of Psychological Science, suggests that a new approach involving action video games can be used to improve spatial skills that are essential for everyday activities such as reading a map, driving a car, assembling a barbeque or learning advanced math.

"Our first experiment discovered a previously unknown sex difference in spatial attention," said Jing Feng, a psychology doctoral student and lead author of the study. "On average, women are not quite as good at rapidly switching attention among different objects and this may be one reason why women do not do as well on spatial tasks. But more important than finding that difference, our second experiment showed that both men and women can improve their spatial skills by playing a video game and that the women catch up to the men," Feng added. "Moreover, the improved performance of both sexes was maintained when we assessed them again after five months."

Professor Ian Spence, director of the engineering psychology laboratory in the Department of Psychology, speculates that the action video game experience "may cause the expression of previously inactive genes which control the development of neural connections that are necessary for spatial attention. Clearly, something dramatic is happening in the brain when we see marked improvements in spatial skills after only 10 hours of game playing and these improvements are maintained for many months."

"One important application of this research could be in helping to attract more women to the mathematical sciences and engineering. Since spatial skills play an important role in these professions, bringing the spatial skills of young women up to the level of their male counterparts could help to change the gender balance in these fields that are so important to our economic health," Spence added.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There goes another long-held prejudice. (For the record, I know some women with rather good spatial skills and men without, so this bugged me for a while.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:44:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, actually paying people in the sciences and engineering commensurate to the investment of time and energy they have put into developing their skills, having somewhat secure jobs for them, and not treating the whole of the scientific, technical, and engineering professions as an obnoxious drain on resources better spent in marketing or on executive salaries, might also have an effect on drawing people into fields "that are so important to our economic health."

Balancing gender ratios is a good and worthy thing, but if nobody wants to enter fields "that are so important to our economic health" to begin with, then the gender ratio is the last thing to be worrying about.

by Zwackus on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:24:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That "sex difference", like most of them (that don't involve genitals), looks like a "gender difference". It's always impressive how our society is "naturalised" in popular opinion.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:53:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
everyday activities such as reading a map, driving a car, assembling a barbeque or learning advanced math.

Halo - now with added Riemannian Geometry.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:45:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if they could find a way to visually represent complex geometric situations within the pseudo-3D world of the typical first person shooter, and then build both problem sets and solutions into the performance characteristics of the common enemies and weaponry, then I suppose it might be possible . . .

A tad surreal, perhaps.

by Zwackus on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:45:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The edge of oblivion: conservationists name 25 primates about to disappear | Environment | The Guardian

Sri Lanka's Horton Plains slender loris has been seen just four times since 1937. Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey was not found in an exhaustive six-year study ending in 1999 and there have been no definite sightings since. Vietnam's golden-headed langur and the Hainan gibbon in China both number in the dozens.

These are the primate species on the edge of oblivion and, according to a report commissioned by three leading conservation charities, scores of others of our closest relatives are poised to suffer the same fate. It names the top 25 species most in need of help but concludes that 114 primate species are also close to extinction.

The 25 species most at risk include two of our closest great ape cousins, the Cross River gorilla of Cameroon and Nigeria and the orang-utan from Sumatra. Miss Waldron's colobus also makes it on to the list, although more by hope than expectation. Conservationists declared it officially extinct in 2000, but a photograph taken since then of a similar-looking creature has been tentatively identified by scientists.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:39:13 AM EST
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Couldn't access the original Independent article.

"Legitimate Visitors" to U.S. Get the Disney Treatment | Center for Media and Democracy

Travelers flying into the United States via airports in Washington DC and Houston are being shown "a sappy seven-minute film made by the folks at Walt Disney showcasing all that is wonderful, scenic and nice about the land of the free." Eventually, the film will be shown "in the international arrivals halls of all major U.S. airports as well as in visa-processing offices around the world. Major airlines will also be encouraged to show it on aircraft shortly before landing in the U.S." The movie was made by Disney's Frederico Tio, himself a Cuban immigrant, and donated to the U.S. government. U.S. public diplomacy czar Karen Hughes praised the film for "creating a warm first impression, and first impressions are important." A joint U.S. government / Disney press release says the film is part of "a joint vision" by the State and Homeland Security Departments "to enhance border security while streamlining security processes and facilitating travel for legitimate visitors."
by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:00:21 AM EST
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Spiegel Online: German Playboy, 77, Sues for Sex
Aging German playboy Rolf Eden has rarely taken no for an answer. And he's not about to start. He has filed charges against a 19-year-old for refusing to sleep with him. The complaint? Ageism.

It's no secret that Germany has a problem with ageism. Workers here who lose their jobs after the age of 50 are virtually assured of spending the rest of their lives on the dole. A recent plan to up the retirement age to 67 was lampooned because most Germans of that age are no longer employed anyway.

But aging German playboy Rolf Eden seems to have developed a somewhat warped view of what age discrimination actually is. According to Bild Zeitung on Thursday, the 77-year-old Eden has filed suit against a 19-year-old Berlin woman for the following reason: Despite a night on the town with Eden, which ended back at his place, she refused to have sex with him, saying the he was too old for her.

1) What a pig.
2) Germany has no adequate laws against frivolous lawsuits. This does not sound very grave, but it leads to severe inequities.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:10:46 AM EST
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KLATSCH
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:01:32 AM EST
Fran is taking a well-deserved day or two off. Help with news items welcome!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:02:38 AM EST
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I'd help but I've just done the photoblog and need to get off to a conference! Have a good day!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:06:49 AM EST
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It may not be news, but last nite's war on Iran discussion was pretty intense.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:04:01 AM EST
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Morning afew, and thanks for stepping into the breach for Fran!

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:29:41 AM EST
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yep - thanks afew!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:50:52 AM EST
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Yes thanks afew! I slept almost 10 hours, don't rembemer when I did that the last time. Few more nights like this and I should be on top of everything again. :-)
by Fran on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:59:13 AM EST
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