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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 14 December

by autofran Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:01:26 AM EST

On this date in history:

1656 - Artificial pearls 1st manufactured by M Jacquin in Paris made of gypsum pellets covered with fish scales

More here and here


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by autofran (autofran@mac.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:01:35 AM EST
Ministers prepare plan to nationalise Northern Rock | Business | The Guardian

The government was last night preparing a contingency plan for a possible new year nationalisation of Northern Rock as it held last-ditch talks with the potential buyers of the stricken bank.

Ministers have reluctantly concluded that temporary state ownership may prove the only way to prevent a final collapse of the Newcastle-based lender.

In a bid to keep the private sector option alive, they agreed last night to give the bid from former Abbey National boss Luqman Arnold equal status to preferred bidder Virgin, amid fears that Richard Branson has been struggling to finalise a deal.

But while the prime minister and the chancellor remain committed to a private-sector solution to the crisis that has contributed to Labour's political problems over the autumn, they believe that a short period of nationalisation may prove the only option. With Northern Rock still losing retail depositors and relying on a line of credit from the Bank of England to keep it operating, ministers accept that the current life-support operation cannot continue indefinitely.

The government believes that the prospects for a quick sale that would safeguard the £25bn of taxpayer support for Northern Rock is being hampered by the turmoil in the world's financial markets, which led to the run on the bank in September.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:24:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's funny how all the wise commentators who were convinced that NR was a viable business back in September that would soon get out of its "short-term" problems, are now saying that nationalsation was inevitable and should have happened as soon as it was obvious the problems were deep-seated.

Ah, the beneifits of the traditional media never having to account for yesterday.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:25:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Branson hasn't been 'struggling to finalise a deal.' Branson and the other eager suitor have been struggling to find someone stupid enough to lend him the £11bn the BoE wants paid back immediately.

If it were that easy to borrow £11bn - except from the BoE - NR would never have gone down in the first place.

So this will be another example of Colman's law - bail out->nationalise->privatise at a giveaway price->trebles all round!

Darling will probably lose his job over this. Eventually.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:44:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...Chavez and Morales are on the phone laughing their butts off, joking about the Bank of the South making a bid post-nationalization.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:52:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Swiss rift as ex-minister threatens revenge

Christoph Blocher, Switzerland's leading rightwing politician, on Thursday warned he would exact revenge for his ejection from the new government, as his Swiss People's party, the SVP, called time on the consensual system that has dominated national politics for decades.

The billionaire industrialist turned politician said the SVP would go into opposition, overturning Switzerland's traditional system of coalition governments and taking the country into uncharted political territory.

The SVP, which took 29 per cent of the vote in October's general election, making it the biggest political party, could paralyse the new government, which Mr Blocher ridiculed as a "centre-left administration" in a bitter parting speech .

The party, which is well financed and formidably organised, said it would exploit the full potential of Switzerland's referendum-based, direct democracy to challenge any legislation it found unacceptable.

That could complicate attempts to deepen relations with the European Union or to dilute the harsh anti-immigrant law and order measures pushed through by Mr Blocher in his four years as justice minister.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:25:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
right wingers behaving in a vindictive manner after being called on their behaviour ? Who'd'a thunk it ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:26:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT:
ridiculed as a "centre-left administration"

Being centre-left is a term of ridicule?

well financed

By whom?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | EU leaders sign landmark treaty
EU leaders have signed a treaty in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, that is expected to greatly alter the way the 27-nation body operates.

The treaty creates an EU president and a more powerful foreign policy chief.

The document, signed at a ceremony at the city's historic Jeronimos Monastery, also scraps veto powers in many policy areas.

It is a replacement for the EU constitution, which was abandoned following French and Dutch opposition.

EU leaders insist that the two texts are in no way equivalent.

But the Lisbon treaty incorporates some of the draft constitution's key reforms, and several governments face domestic pressure over the document.

In a speech before the signing, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on European leaders to use the treaty to make freedom, prosperity and solidarity an everyday reality for all European citizens.

"From this old continent, a new Europe is born," he said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the treaty would create a more modern, efficient and democratic union.

"The world needs a stronger Europe," he said.

The leaders signed the treaty, translated into the EU's 23 official languages, using specially engraved silver fountain pens as a choir sang Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Mr Brown signed the treaty hours after fellow EU leaders. Foreign Secretary David Miliband attended the signing ceremony.

The UK's opposition Conservatives accused Mr Brown of "not having the guts" to sign the treaty, which is politically controversial in Britain, in public.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:33:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Brown's late signing of EU treaty attacked

Gordon Brown arrived in Lisbon more than three hours after his fellow leaders to sign the European reform treaty on Thursday amid growing claims the UK premier is becoming detached from the rest of the European Union.

Liberal reformers in Europe saw Mr Brown's solitary signing of the treaty as a symptom of his retreat to the margins in the EU and even Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, implored in English: "We need Gordon."

Some British diplomats are close to despair at what they see as the prime minister's disregard for the 27-member club and warn that the UK-inspired liberalisation drive in Europe could stall unless the prime minister returns to the fray.

By the time Mr Brown arrived in Lisbon more than half the other European leaders had already left and his decision to miss a lavish official signing ceremony of the revamped EU constitution drew official and media criticism from across the bloc.

José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, is among those who want a strong British voice in Brussels, partly to balance French calls for more protectionism. Debates on energy liberalisation, climate change, temporary workers' rights and farm reform loom next year.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If both Barroso and Sarkozy want Gordon's involvement, I can't but help to root that the G man will stay as, or become more, indifferent to the EU, especially with subjects as energy liberalisation, workers' rights and farm reform...
by Nomad on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:01:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Some British diplomats are close to despair at what they see as the prime minister's disregard for the 27-member club and warn that the UK-inspired liberalisation drive in Europe could stall unless the prime minister returns to the fray.

Maybe Gordon is really against liberalisation? lol

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:57:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown seems to be shrivelling in the glare of Premiership. His natural instinct has always been to slink away at the first sign of trouble and allow others to catch the crap. As PM we can still see him trying to do it, but the point of a leader is visibility and when he tries to hide now he's getting caught out which makes him look increasingly shifty and uncomfortable.

I wonder if Gordon may tire of this soon. Call an election and then bail.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:36:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The biggest problem with Brown is that he obviously lacks any vision whatsoever. He got the big job he yearned for and he doesn't know what to do with it.

It would be unforgivable to call an election that will yield a Tory majority. We need a hung parliament.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:46:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is a hung parliament becoming more likely?  I think Brighton has a not-so-outside chance of voting the UK's first Green MP, that'd be one from Labour.  Gary J knows a lot about this, and I'd expect the Lib Dems to be working out their possibilities....just wondering.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:17:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Straight green that may be true, but  in the early 90's Ceredigion had a combined Plaid/Green MP

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 09:20:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can anyone point me to a list of current marginals?  'Twould be interesting to see which other areas are due for a change

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:04:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here gives it in nice diagramatic form, but no figures.

the official report is here with figures, but is in PDF format

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as the Tories have over 40% of voter intent you can forget about a hung parliament.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
off-topic: it was surprise to me to find you had been discussing 2 days ago me and my ethnicity with lana.

Barring her usual insults she mentioned izvestia article calling it shocking. actually nothing shocking in it except subheadline - "Ethnic Russians have been living under local nationalism". But in article itself there are no facts confirming ethnic discrimination even President of this republic is ethnic Russian. Then journalist used highly questionable sources like Mr Yurkov who is known as scandal-prone figure and delighted to have any publicity saying anything to anybody what is needed. By the way there was lively discussion in forum under this article where overwhelming majority dubbed this article which lana seemed to believe and other articles in Izvestia (and many other Moscow-based media) as biased and unjustified.

But what lana has to explain is the reasons behind the rise of ugly racism and nationalism in Moscow and St Petersburg - just last month yet one more young man from Yakutsk was murdered in Moscow by Russian fascists (the text in Russian):
http://diaspora.sakhaopenworld.org/announ18.shtml
The murder caused widespread outrage and even demonstrations were held.

Obviously lana has no case and her posts do not deserve even troll marks.

by FarEasterner on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the UK. We don't really do vision.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:52:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Say what you want about Blair but at least he gave the impression of having one.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Giving the impression of having one is as good as it gets.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:06:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The treaty is clever idea after failed referendums but can we expect stronger or more united EU since its member states have different priorities? I think it's unlikely before regime change in Washington and even after.
by FarEasterner on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:16:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO until the generation that had its formative years in the 1980's attains power EU member states won't shed their cold-war reflexes (including suspicion of Russia and love of all things US). Give it 15 more years, at least.

Unfortunately I don't think we have the luxury of waiting 15 years - things look set to unravel before that.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:37:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I certainly am cured from love of anything US, but the gentle Mr Putin gives some reasons not to treat everything from Russia at face value...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forging unity on Kosovo independence bid top priority at one-day EU leaders summit - International Herald Tribune

European Union leaders, keen to avoid the mistakes of the past, will try at a summit Friday to forge unity on how to handle Kosovo's bid for independence from Serbia without inciting new violence in the Balkans.

Memories of deep divisions over the Balkan wars in the 1990s -- which led to the union's inability to prevent the fighting -- still haunts EU capitals.

But the union remains divided over whether to recognize Kosovo's independence, putting at risk an administrative takeover of Kosovo from the United Nations, a mission that needs the backing of all 27 EU states.

On the eve of the summit, Swedish Premier Fredrik Reinfeldt said it would be best to wait until after the presidential elections in Serbia before recognizing Kosovo's independence. The Serbian election is scheduled for Jan. 20, with a possible runoff on Feb. 3.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:39:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lose - lose situation if ever there was. The lack of honesty by the two groups of peoples involved over the reasons why the the other side absolutely does not trust their intention means that, whatever happens, there will be violence and refugees.

Equally, such is their level of denial that they would rather blmae outside bodies such as NATO, EU, US & Russia than look to their own intransigence and behaviour.

So not only will they not help themsleves, but they will distrust anybody who tries to ease the necessary transitions.

What a mess !!

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should they trust outside actors who have been equally as nefarious in their plans to "help" these two peoples?

I can point to at least 10 acts of calumny and deceit from NATO, the US and the EU that have wreaked havoc in the region. The lesson learned is obvious: international diplomacy is a game of lies, not a game of rules.

Operation Horseshoe, the ponzi pyramid scheme in Albania, Operation Storm, Dayton's quid pro quo, the Rambouillet negotiations, the 2004 Mitrovica riots, the arrest of Ramush Haradinaj, William Walker's presence as OSCE envoy, etc.

All these events orchestrated by the US, the EU and NATO have sent precisely the wrong signal to both Serbs and Albanians.

Have a look at this article: These are precisely the type of events that produce a complete lack of dialogue in the region:

http://www.innercitypress.com/ictykosovo121007.html

by Upstate NY on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Sarkozy presses `social partners' to reform

French union leaders and company bosses may have their differences, but when they meet on Friday for the final stages of a four-month negotiation on labour market reform both sides will know that failure is not an option.

After this Friday they have just one more official session before the December 31 deadline set by President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has threatened to legislate if France's so-called social partners cannot agree on how to modernise the conditions under which companies hire and fire employees.

For Mr Sarkozy this is the first crucial step to reducing the country's severe unemployment problem.

The two sides will have to show they are close to an agreement by next Wednesday, when the president hosts his landmark social conference to set out the agenda for more sweeping reforms in 2008 on issues ranging from the 35-hour week to the financing of unions. A negotiator from Medef, the powerful employers' lobby, was cautiously optimistic a deal would be done. He said: "We must be able to say that we are capable of shaping even bigger changes for our country. We want fewer laws and more collective agreements."

These negotiations are the first test of a law introduced in January that limits the state's ability to intervene in the workplace by making negotiations between constitutionally recognised employers and workers' unions mandatory before the government moves to legislation.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:41:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / In depth - France escapes surge in food prices

France has largely escaped the surge in European processed food prices that has heightened inflation fears at the European Central Bank - while German and Spanish consumers have borne far more of the brunt, according to a study published by the bank on Thursday.

The impact of the global food price "shock" varies significantly across the 13-country eurozone, the ECB study concludes - adding to uncertainty about the economic outlook.

The ECB looked at prices of processed food, including bread, cereal and dairy products, as a guide to the impact of higher global food prices.

Surging eurozone inflation, which hit 3 per cent in November, led the ECB to hint last week that it might yet increase its main interest rate from the current 4 per cent - despite the global credit squeeze.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:43:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the article mentions rising oil prices as the reason for overall inflation.  but is that one is behind rising processed food prices in particular?  is there any relation to the shift towards biofuel crops?

but if so, then why should we expect prices to "fall back down" to "the historical average":

The ECB expected food price inflation to increase in the short term before falling back towards the historical average.

the article does not offer any explanation for why France has escaped this processed food inflation, except the hint that (French?) retailers are using profit margins to avoid passing on price increases to customers:

France's relatively mild experience with processed food inflation is puzzling, given rising public concern about increasing living costs. <...>

The ECB suggested prices were likely to rise less in countries where retailers were prepared to use profit margins as a buffer, especially if fears about the economic outlook made them reluctant to pass on price increases.

and does the following paragraph mean that "German economic optimism" entails ever more processed food inflation?

In Germany, by contrast [to France], fierce price competition, especially among discount supermarkets, has probably reduced the scope for rises to be absorbed through lower profit margins - and German economic optimism remains upbeat.

i.e. optimism => demand + smaller profit margins => continuing inflation ?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right, this article raises more questions than answers.

As regards Germany, the retail grocery market is a snake pit dominated by large discounters operating on narrow profit margins. They don't have nearly as much scope to absorb price increases as, say, UK chains. But as for optimism, well, where I live I'm registering more discontent with rising food (and beer!!) prices than any "optimism".

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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ECB suggested prices were likely to rise less in countries where retailers were prepared to use profit margins as a buffer, especially if fears about the economic outlook made them reluctant to pass on price increases.

I don't know about "fears about the economic outlook", but there's a rather particular situation at the moment in France WRT big retail distribution. On the one hand, Sarko is pushing for the big chains to reduce or moderate prices, and we hear (propaganda?) reports of cheating since the euro came in, etc. On the other the same retailers are hoping for liberalisation, especially of the rules re new store opening and Sunday trading. I'd expect a quid pro quo: they will take a hit to their margins if they get what they want on the liberalisation side.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is there any relation to the shift towards biofuel crops?

rising food prices is a world wide phenomenon right now and I saw an interview with Joseph Stiglitz where he said "if you turn food into fuel, then with rising fuel prices, the price of food will increase".

Why France ? Well, I'm sure a france-based commentator will know better than me but it may be a cultural thing. The french simply may not base their diet around imported processed food in the way that others do. Plus I was told that whilst the rest of europe uses canadian and American wheat for bread, the french tend to use local wheat as it gives it the preferrred texture.

It would be interesting to find out if other countries with strong local fresh food cultures such as Spain Italy or Greece are suffering. I know that Italy has a problem with durum wheat prices, but that is cos they import most of it now.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wheat in Italy was also hit with a big drought because of low snow in the Alps last year.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most wheat used in France is of local provenance, but that doesn't bring the price down - prices are pretty much global on grain markets, and are very high at the moment. Otherwise it's true that France is more an exporter than an importer of processed foods, and this may have some bearing on retail prices. Which are going up, all the same (even if less than elsewhere).

As to the price of grain, biofuels are part of the problem, but another is Global Warming and the unstable weather conditions it may bring. This year, only the US wheat harvest was a good one. Australian wheat production was hit by drought; overwarm conditions crippled the wheat harvest in Canada and Ukraine; the EU had a mediocre year with heat and rain at the wrong times. EU durum wheat had the same problems, while North Africa also had a bad harvest. Durum wheat makes two staples, pasta and couscous (bulgur etc), the prices of which have risen considerably.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:53:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wheat production in the US is concentrated in Hard Red Winter #2 -- used for breads.  Durum wheat production is relatively small and barely grown outside North and South Dakota.

Hard Red plantings increased here for the 2007/2008 growing season.  If I'm reading the data correctly that acreage came at the expense of Soy (Soya) bean production.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:02:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, i don't pretend to know, but could the fact that the french value their farms and fresh produce more than the germans have anything to do with it?

'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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France is blessed with a larger area of agriculturally productive soils.  The Northern European plain, most of northern Germany, is comprised, primarily, of sandy soils good for stock raising but lousy for cereals.

The upshot is: the German agricultural sector is small and politically powerless.  As they cannot hope to feed themselves they spend their time on other matters.

France has a vibrant agricultural sector so matters 'ag' are of more interest, politically and economically.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:08:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Col Gaddafi faces torture lawsuit
A Palestinian-born doctor jailed in Libya for allegedly infecting children with HIV has filed a suit for torture against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Ashraf Alhajouj, imprisoned with five Bulgarians for more than eight years, filed the suit through a French group.

The move coincides with a visit to France by Mr Gaddafi, which enabled the group to invoke an international anti-torture convention against him.

It is unclear how far the action can go as Mr Gaddafi has diplomatic immunity.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is odd, but I don't know why:

-Gaddafi arrived in France Monday for 5 days and met Sarkozy.
-King JCI visited Sarkozy on Weds.?, or Thursday.
-Gaddafi is on his way to Madrid to meet with the king and Zapatero.

All this between Lisbon and Bali...


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:51:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com
The European Parliament has severely watered down Brussels' plan to reform Europe's wine sector and make it more able to withstand the challenges of global competition.

In a vote on Wednesday (12 December), MEPs revised the proposal by the European Commission by dropping the elements which had sparked the strongest opposition by member states.

They rejected the commission's suggestion to ban adding sugar to wine, a practice traditionally used in some countries in northern and central Europe with less sunshine over the year.

At the same time, they called for subsidies to southern countries for using pure grape juice to be maintained and not scrapped as suggested by the commission.

The parliamentarians also rejected the idea of a full liberalization of planting rights for quality wine makers on areas previously not used as vineyards by 2014, seen as a way to allow competitive wine producers to expand their production.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stupid stupid stupid.

Practically everything they vetoed was the way the industry needed to go.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the power of lobbyists.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com
MEPs criticise Brussels' plan to collect data on air passengers

European lawmakers have said they are "concerned" about a European Commission proposal that EU member states collect 19 pieces of air passenger data, a move that mirrors the controversial US database on European air travellers.

On Wednesday (12 December), the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the fight against terrorism, stating it is "unacceptable" to introduce an EU-wide air passengers name recording scheme (PNR) without a thorough scrutiny of the existing PNR agreement between the EU and Washington, especially of its benefits for security and its impact on privacy and civil liberties.

Some 359 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution drafted by French liberal Jean-Marie Cavada, while 293 parliamentarians were against and 38 abstained.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:24:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com
EU global image improving, US fading

The perception that the EU is a global player is increasing worldwide, while the image of the US as the world's biggest power is fading, a new survey has shown.

Citizens in major states across the globe see the EU as the fifth superpower in the world after the US, China, Russia and Japan - but by 2020, Europe is expected to move up by one place, according to a poll released on Wednesday (12 December) by the German foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Respondents to the survey from within the EU are the most optimistic about the bloc's future as a global actor, with percentages ranging from 80 percent in Germany, to 70 percent (UK), and 38 percent (France).

Citizens from Russia (13 percent), Brazil (10 percent) and India (9 percent) rank Russia, the US and India top of the list, respectively.

The US will be "the great loser of the future", according to the poll.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at 33%:

Almost an equal number of respondents - 57 percent - think China will be the world's most important player in 2020, 37 percent say it will be Russia and 33 - the EU and Japan.

Which is totally bizarre (I see Japan's influence as far lower than the EU's, and the EU's as far higher than Russia's.)

China got 57% to the U.S.'s 61%.

And while the following is encouraging, as far as China and Russia go --

In addition, Chinese and Russians think their countries should develop closer ties with the EU (98 and 91 percent, respectively), while 78 percent of Americans, 68 percent of Indians and 48 percent of Japanese share the same view.

-- I'm puzzled and disappointed that relatively so few Japanese are interested in closer ties with the EU.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am disappointed by the apparent difficulty that my fellow human beings seem to have in counting to one.

Based on those figures, it seems that when you ask someone who will be THE MOST important player in 2020, you get, on average, 2.5 answers.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:30:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which I find a most appropriate answer in these schizophrenic times. ;-)

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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another example of our elites being out of step with public sentiment. We in europe are beginning to see our ability for united action as making us a significant contributor to global events, yet our leaders still crawl on their bellies to the White House for approval of their every action

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:57:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com
EU to fund pan-European radio station

Radio fans will from next year onwards be able to tune in to a new pan-European station, to be set up by a multinational group of broadcasters and funded by the European Commission.

The 'European Radio Project' (ERP) - a consortium of 16 radio stations from 13 member states - will from April 2008 onwards bring programmes "from a European point of view," according to plans seen by EUobserver.

The project, to be officially signed off this Friday (14 December), will see the ERP group jointly producing daily half-an-hour EU "hard news" shows, weekly magazines and coverage of big European cultural events.

The programmes will be broadcast on the usual frequencies of the participating radio stations, as well as through a new ERP internet site, which will be in the air from June onwards.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:28:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
languages:

Original content for the radio shows will initially be produced in five "core" languages - English, French, German, Spanish and Polish - and will be translated into Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Portuguese and Romanian.

More core languages and translated versions will be added in the coming years so that by 2012, all official 23 EU languages should be covered.

management:

Deutsche Welle will ensure the editorial coordination of the project, while Radio France will be responsible for financial affairs and Radio Netherlands will run the web portal of the euro-station.


Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know many will disagree, but I have always felt it might be a good idea to introduce classes in esperanto for children across the EU. It would mean that when they met they would have at least one language in common and cold play and communicate. surely the basis of closer ties.

It's all very well to assume english as the default language in the EU, but experience tells me it's mighty rare east of vienna where german predominates. And that's not forgetting that most people are effectively monolingual.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:02:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Polish is quite a canny move. Although it's questionable how effective it will be at reaching the Hail Mary audience in Poland.

As an aside - I was in a local bank yesterday, and they had an ad on the wall for credit cards.

In Polish.

This is rural Wiltshire, and the only reason I can think of for having an ad in Polish is because someone has looked at the stats and realised that there's enough of a critical mass of Polish people here to make the ad worthwhile.

Which means immigration will have been huge - historically significant, and bigger than the influx of ex-pats after WWII.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is rural Wiltshire, and the only reason I can think of for having an ad in Polish is because someone has looked at the stats and realised that there's enough of a critical mass of Polish people here to make the ad worthwhile.

And perhaps a ploy to keep rich Poles from remigrating back to Poland:

Indeed, Britain may soon face a novel immigration problem. As Poland's economy has improved this year, immigration has slowed, which economists say could cause labor shortages in British industries.


Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com
Unions may take action over cheap labour, EU court says

Europe's highest court has ruled that trade unions have a right to collective action to prevent their employers from hiring cheaper labour from other member states.

But the keenly awaited ruling, delivered Tuesday (11 December), says that the industrial action can only be taken as a measure to protect existing work conditions and not as a tool to prevent a company from moving to another member state, even if that country has weaker labour rights.

The European Court of Justice said such collective action "can be accepted only if it pursues a legitimate aim such as the protection of workers."

But it left it up to the British Court of Appeal to decide whether the action taken by the ITF can be justified as legitimate.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:32:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's already been spinned in every direction. Can anyone say what it actually means?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:11:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would require reading the judgement...

What I gather from the media reports is that the ECJ is moving the decision space from rule derivation to a weighing of different factors. Courts love doing that because it gives them room to develop a doctrine on unfamiliar ground (and this is unfamiliar ground).

So unions have the right to take the actions they wanted, but this has to be "proportionate" and cannot compromise the basic right of "freedom of establishment" for businesses.

This is a case that was deferred from London (why the case is in London I don't know) and the London court would have to weigh those factors. I think the union should win it, because there is no real freedom of establishment issue I can see in just giving a ship a different flag and I don't think the union's actions were inproportionate. But then, I'm biased.

There's a related judgement coming up in a week. We should know more when that comes out.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: In a Funk, Italy Sings an Aria of Disappointment

... these days, for all the outside adoration and all of its innate strengths, Italy seems not to love itself. The word here is "malessere," or "malaise"; it implies a collective funk -- economic, political and social -- summed up in a recent poll: Italians, despite their claim to have mastered the art of living, say they are the least happy people in Western Europe.

"It's a country that has lost a little of its will for the future," said Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome and a possible future center-left prime minister. "There is more fear than hope." <...>

The latest numbers show a nation older and poorer -- to the point that Italy's top bishop has proposed a major expansion of food packages for the poor.

Worse, worry is growing that Italy's strengths are degrading into weaknesses. Small and medium-size businesses, long the nation's family-run backbone, are struggling in a globalized economy, particularly with low-wage competition from China. <...>

There is a link between the nation's errant political system and its worsening mood. Luisa Corrado, an Italian economist, led the research behind the study at the University of Cambridge that found Italians to be the least happy of 15 Western European nations. The researchers linked differences in reported happiness across countries with several socio-demographic and political factors, including trust in the world around them, not least in government.

In Denmark, the happiest nation, 64 percent trusted their Parliament. For Italians, the number was 36 percent. "Unfortunately we found this issue of social trust was a bit missing" in Italy, Ms. Corrado said. <...>

These [Italy's "privileged and unaccountable" political class, and the camorra, i.e. organized crime, especially in the south] are Italy's age-old problems, but Alexander Stille, a Columbia University professor and an expert on Italy, argues that this moment is different. While the economy expanded, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Italians would tolerate bad behavior from their leaders.

But growth has been slow for years, and the quality of life is declining. Statistics now show that 11 percent of Italian families live under the poverty line, and that 15 percent have trouble spreading their salary over the month.

I was going to post this yesterday, then refrained, as the article seemed like the type that gets shot up to pieces on this forum for facile/sloppy presentation of facts, analysis, etc. (For example, one sentence: 70 percent of Italians between 20 and 30 still live at home, condemning the young to an extended and underproductive adolescence.  Is Italy actually exceptional in this respect?  I know there are many, many Japanese -- although I am not sure what percentage -- in their 20's, and even 30's, who still live at home.  Of course, Japan is going through it's own national crisis about the future, also involving a very low birthrate and an aging population.  also, regarding poverty rate, well, we have discussed here the issues regarding measuring poverty.  [nevertheless, startling to me, Italy ranks at the bottom among rich countries on the UN's Human Poverty Index, whatever worth that has.]) And yet, this article was written as an introduction to what it claims to be a general problem about Italy, designed, so to speak, for U.S. readers (like me) with very little knowledge of Italy beyond food, designer goods, romantic scenery, fine art, etc.  It is currently the number 2 most emailed article on the New York Times website, and it does quote several Italians asserting that something is not right in their country of late.  (Some can always be found to be negative about their own country, even if things are not that bad, but from just this article, we cannot know if they speak for the majority, or just a disgruntled minority.)

I would be very curious to get a reality check from people here as to whether there is any real fire behind the smoke here.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My response would be anecdotal and in a rush as I am under heavy deadlines at the moment. There have been surveys recently in Italy that point to a general disaffection. It appears that the only revolutionary left in Italy is the head of Italian fed reserve, Mario Draghi who insists that workers be paid more. Bank of Italy stats indicate a 30% fall in buying power in the past decade. But a 30% wage hike is beyond any government's wildest hopes.

President Napolitano was in the States yesterday and was received by Bush. It would appear that the article came out together with that event. As far as "national mood" analyses go, Cambridge or what not, I usually don't bother reading them.

There are far more interesting events going on in Italy at the moment, especially on politics. Berlusconi is under investigation for attempted corruption of centerleft Senators. The journalist, Giuseppe D'Avanzo, who made the scoop was subject to a search warrant on his private premises.

Berlusconi made the mistake to attempt to bribe an Italian Australian Senator, not realizing that Australians have a different concept of governance.

Berlusconi's brutal attack against the judges warranted an official reprimand by the magistrates' governing body.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have recnetly been reading the author Tim Parks experiences in Italy, Italian Neighbours. Across several chapters he details the cloying protectionism and petty corruptions that paralyse italian transactions.

He finds it amusing in the small scale, but I couldn't help but wonder how all of these little impediments add up to a society that is completely gummed up.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:22:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My impression is that Italy is gravely hampered not only by big-time corruption with its trickle down effects but the utter lack of responsability. I say responsability in its narrow meaning of being held to account for one's actions. The political class is largely immune from any sort of judiciary action thanks to their own laws. The consequences one must face for corruption in Italy are ridiculous. There would never be a Bernard Tapie in jail or Visco case in Italy.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PL
President Tusk: "mend fences with Russia"
Russia lifts ban on PL meat imports...
www.ruvr.ru /
Polish President to meet PM Tusk and Foreign Minister Sikorski
According to the Polish presidential press service, the Polish President Lech Kaczynski is due to meet the country's Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski later today. The parties to the meeting are expected to try to agree the position of Warsaw on deploying a US antimissile defence base and consider the country's foreign policy, including relations with Russia. President Kaczynski is willing to have a US ABM base deployed in Poland; But Tusk reiterated on the 27th of last month that his government would discuss the planned deployment with Russia.

Now that's a step in the right direction !

by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:58:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by autofran (autofran@mac.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:01:46 AM EST
US proposal threatens climate change deal | Environment | The Guardian

The US was accused last night of trying to derail a global agreement on climate change by proposing that it becomes a voluntary agreement where countries set their own targets and timetables for reduction of greenhouse gases, rather than a legally binding one.

With just one day left of the 14-day talks between representatives from more than 180 countries in Bali, it looks increasingly likely that no agreement will be reached by ministers.

The proposed text, tabled late last night and leaked at about midnight local time, would effectively allow any country to opt out of the next round of the Kyoto agreement. Observers said last night it could take climate change negotiations back more than a decade.

"These are wrecking tactics," said Keith Allott, head of climate change at the nature charity WWF-UK. "The stakes are now very high and they are proposing to destroy the protocol completely. The Bush administration is trying to kill real progress."

"This is an extraordinary attempt by the Bush administration to kill off the fight against climate change," said John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK. "If they get this text through, then it will give a free pass to any nation that wants to keep polluting."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:27:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chief of Hague tribunal, stepping down, calls for it to continue - International Herald Tribune

Stepping down as chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte appealed Thursday for the UN war crimes tribunal to be kept open until its chief fugitives are arrested and put on trial.

Those most wanted, who are accused of genocide, are the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief, General Ratko Mladic.

"I hope and I believe that the Security Council will make the right decision and not close this tribunal before those two are brought to justice," Del Ponte said at her final news conference at the tribunal.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Raise taxes on richest Americans, Democrats say - International Herald Tribune

Democratic presidential rivals called for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on some corporations, as they appealed in a major debate Thursday for popular support three weeks before the first critical contest to determine who will run in the election next year.

The six presidential hopefuls, sharing a debate stage for the final time before Iowa's leadoff Jan. 3 caucuses, also stressed that any thought of balancing the federal budget would have to wait.

"We're not going to be able to dig ourselves out" of Bush-era deficits in the next year or two, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois said.

Asked about eliminating deficits, several of the Democrats responded by mentioning higher taxes on the wealthy and on big corporations.

"I want to keep the middle class tax cuts" that Congress passed during President George W. Bush's tenure, said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. But she said she favored raising taxes for the wealthiest income-earners and corporations.

"The truth of the matter is the tax policy has been established by the big corporations and the wealthiest Americans," said former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. "What we ought to be doing instead is getting rid of those tax breaks."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:46:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
about eliminating subsidies to the rich!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's call it "welfare reform" ;-)

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:37:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy bill stalls in U.S. Senate - International Herald Tribune

Republicans were able to stall a broad energy bill in the Senate on Thursday morning, prompting Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, to excise controversial parts of the measure in hopes of moving the legislation forward quickly.

The unsuccessful move to advance the bill failed by one vote. Supporters managed to get 59 "yes" votes, but 60 were needed to invoke cloture, or move to consideration of the bill itself. Forty senators voted "no."

Among other things, the bill would require automakers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, up from the current 25 miles per gallon. Supporters of the legislation hail it as the first meaningful improvement in fuel-efficiency standards in three decades.

The bill was approved by the House a week ago, 235 to 181, well short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto threatened by President George W. Bush. A key sticking point for the president and his Republican allies is some $21 billion in new taxes, mostly on the oil industry. Opponents of the new taxes argue that they will increase energy prices.

Before Thursday morning's cloture vote, Reid argued unsuccessfully that the bill as it stood would "start putting America on the path to a clear, safer and more affordable energy future," and "begin to break our country's addiction to oil, which forces us to do business with unstable governments and regions of the world."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm beginning to wonder if Harry Reid is as much of the problem as anything. There are a lot of stories coming out about his tactics being clueless and coutner-productive.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:09:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / In depth - Global shares hit by bank plan doubt

Global equities suffered heavy falls as investor doubts grew on Thursday over whether sweeping measures by central banks to tackle the credit crunch would be sufficient to defuse the crisis.

Wall Street stemmed its losses late in the day, but Asian and European shares were hit hard as analysts warned that the planned intervention looked modest compared with the scale of the problem - not least because there are signs that losses at big financial institutions are mounting.

"What the programme will not do is cure the cancer that got us here in the first place, the [US] housing bust and the collapse in credit conditions," said William O'Donnell, strategist at UBS. The stock market losses came in spite of surprisingly strong US retail sales figures.

Central bankers tried to counter investor concerns by stressing their willingness to intervene more radically if necessary.

Paul Tucker, Bank of England head of markets, said: "We must try to avoid a vicious circle in which tighter liquidity conditions, lower asset values, impaired capital resources, reduced credit supply and slower aggregate demand feed back on each other."

But the cost of borrowing funds in the European and US money markets remained close to seven-year highs. In the sterling interbank market, the cost of borrowing three-month money fell to 6.51 per cent from 6.63 per cent, while in the dollar market three-month rates dropped to 4.99 per cent from 5.06 per cent. In the euro market, three-month funding costs barely moved, trading at 4.95 per cent.

Meanwhile it emerged that Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has raised his estimate of the probability that the US will slip into recession from about one in three to closer to one in two, though not actually 50 per cent as reported by some media.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OpEd: Krugman

After the Money's Gone - New York Times

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced plans to lend $40 billion to banks. By my count, it's the fourth high-profile attempt to rescue the financial system since things started falling apart about five months ago. Maybe this one will do the trick, but I wouldn't count on it.

In past financial crises -- the stock market crash of 1987, the aftermath of Russia's default in 1998 -- the Fed has been able to wave its magic wand and make market turmoil disappear. But this time the magic isn't working.

Why not? Because the problem with the markets isn't just a lack of liquidity -- there's also a fundamental problem of solvency.

[...]

[...]What's going on in the markets isn't an irrational panic. It's a wholly rational panic, because there's a lot of bad debt out there, and you don't know how much of that bad debt is held by the guy who wants to borrow your money.

How will it all end? Markets won't start functioning normally until investors are reasonably sure that they know where the bodies -- I mean, the bad debts -- are buried. And that probably won't happen until house prices have finished falling and financial institutions have come clean about all their losses. All of this will probably take years.

Meanwhile, anyone who expects the Fed or anyone else to come up with a plan that makes this financial crisis just go away will be sorely disappointed.



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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:57:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Krugman
What's going on in the markets isn't an irrational panic. It's a wholly rational panic

...with many banks technically insolvent.

Well, this is certainly going to be interesting to watch.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]

"We must try to avoid a vicious circle in which tighter liquidity conditions, lower asset values, impaired capital resources, reduced credit supply and slower aggregate demand feed back on each other."

We can't. (Well, we can try, but we cannot avoid...)

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:30:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Jersey to become first state in four decades to abolish death penalty | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
For the first time in more than 40 years a US state is to abolish the death penalty.

A 44-36 vote in the New Jersey legislature to abolish executions in the state yesterday followed approval for the measure in the state senate on Monday.

The bill now goes to the desk of New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine, a Democrat who has spoken in favour of abolishing the death penalty. The measure will be replaced with a sentence of life without parole.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
YESSS
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:40:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Markets - Global overview: Enthusiasm for intervention wanes

Global equities were hit by a fresh wave of selling on Thursday, although Wall Street stemmed the tide in late trade, as investors turned sceptical about concerted central bank action to ease money market pressures.

Analysts said there had been serious disappointment that the co-ordinated assault on the credit squeeze had resulted in only a modest fall in interbank lending rates.

The latest batch of US economic data added to the uncertainty as they appeared - on the surface at least - to strengthen the case for official US interest rates to be left on hold.

In the money markets, the one-month dollar Libor rate was fixed at 5.03 per cent, down only marginally from Wednesday's 5.10 per cent. "Not much of a reaction to an announced $60bn of funding," said Jonathan Loynes at Capital Economics.

One-month euro Libor eased just 1 basis point, although that was the first decline in 11 sessions.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:59:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - US looks to London for regulatory model

It was probably music to the ears of the City of London luminaries gathered in the ancient Guildhall this week: a top US Treasury official explaining that his country's system of financial regulation might be broken.

After all, London has delighted in watching as stock market listings have, at times, shunned the US in favour of foreign markets, with the City a beneficiary.

Yet David Nason, the Treasury's assistant secretary for financial institutions, had a serious message. The US is contemplating the biggest overhaul of its system of financial regulation since the passage of the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which allowed banks to consolidate commercial and investment banking under one roof.

The US has watched as foreign markets have developed not only mature capital markets but also flexible yet sophisticated regulatory regimes that risk making the US system - with its hodge-podge of overlapping watchdogs and prescriptive rules - look hopelessly outdated.

"Our working assumption is that in this new globalised marketplace we are engaged in a race to the top to achieve the optimal regulatory structure for our financial services industry," said Mr Nason.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
flexible yet sophisticated regulatory regimes

that's a none-too-subtle euphemism for non-existent. and boy has it helped us avoid all the problems. The case for more not less regulation is being demonstrated with each and every revelation of failures in the financial system.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:25:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
his country's system of financial regulation might be broken.

ya think?

'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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:15:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Hopes dim for closure of Guantánamo

The prospects of closing Guantánamo Bay before the end of the Bush administration are dimming as the Pentagon struggles to find a solution on shutting the controversial prison, according to former and current ­officials.

Robert Gates, the defence secretary, told Congress in September that his push to close Guantánamo had run into "obstacles" from administration lawyers. But he assured senators the Pentagon was drafting a proposal that he hoped the administration would approve and then send to Capitol Hill.

But three months on, the lawyers have made little headway. In addition to facing complex legal issues involved in closing the prison and transferring detainees to the US, they are running into opposition from other parts of the administration, including Dick Cheney, the vice-president.

Asked by the Financial Times whether the Pentagon was making progress, Mr Gates replied that the process was moving, but "slowly".

One former senior official said the push to close Guantánamo had lost the intensity needed to have a realistic chance of closing the prison during the Bush administration. One problem was that officials across government agencies who want to reform the legal processing of detainees captured in the "war on terror" could not even agree on whether closing Guantánamo was the solution.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:03:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have no serious intention of closing it, where will Cheney get his torture porn from if it does ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:26:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Asia-Pacific / China - Chinese website to expose air polluters

One of China's leading environmental activists has launched a "name and shame" website that maps the locations of more than 4,000 air polluters in the country, including 40 multinational companies.

The move highlights the push by activists to put pressure on corporate polluters in China, which is expected to become the world's largest carbon emitter this year.

The Chinese-language China Air Pollution Map, published on Thursday, follows last year's Water Pollution Map, a website that listed about 9,000 companies across the country, including multinationals such as Carlsberg, the Danish brewer.

Ma Jun, founder of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, has named 40 foreign companies on the Air Pollution Map, including Michelin, the French tyre-maker, and BASF, the German chemical company. Subsidiaries of large Chinese enterprises such as Sinopec and PetroChina oil companies are also on the list.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
though, thanks to Chinese media coverage and reporting by the New York Times/IHT, Ma Jun will hopefully not have to suffer the same fate was Wu Lihong.

but Ma Jun clearly has already built up far more guanxi than Wu Lihong had.

the China Air Pollution Map is viewable by administrative regions as well as by drainage basin.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news - US looks on as Malaysia wobbles
Protests for greater democratization have spurred a strategic Muslim ally of the United States to clamp down and prioritize security concerns over civil liberties. Opposition parties have promised more protests, while the government states it will not tolerate any more public demonstrations that it deems a threat to national security. All of this takes place with critical democratic elections on the horizon.

Although this scenario could apply to Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led "war on terror", it applies equally to Malaysia, a country that in recent years has been on the periphery of US foreign policy and now suddenly is at risk of becoming another regional political hot spot. Malaysia is important both strategically and economically as the world's 34th largest economy and currently the US's 10th-largest trade partner.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:07:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News - Ties on Iran's nuclear program loosen
It's a tough pill for Washington and its European allies to swallow, yet the fact that the new US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warrants a considerable revision of Western strategy toward Iran's nuclear program is inescapable and, already, new cracks in the previously rigid US stance on Iran can be discerned.

Case in point, Matthew Bunn, a leading nuclear expert at Harvard University, has maintained that the US's option of "zero centrifuges" is no longer viable, in light of Iran's rapid advances in mastering the nuclear fuel cycle, and the US should now probe a range of other options.

According to Bunn, a viable option is an international consortium producing nuclear fuel for Iran, while allowing a limited number (ie one to four) cascades of centrifuges to operate in Iran. Each cascade contains 164 centrifuges. This would be well below the 3,000 centrifuges that Iran has reportedly assembled already, considered a "magic number" because of the potential for diversion to bomb production.

Considering this a "face-saving" option for Iran, which prides itself for making the scientific breakthrough with centrifuge technology, Bunn argues that Iran's limited centrifuges would give Iran a fallback option in case the international guarantees on the delivery of nuclear fuel did not pan out. Per Bunn's proposal, Iran has a medium to high probability of accepting this "package". It would be linked to various incentives, such as a security guarantee. Iran's alternative of rejecting such a package would be continued sanctions and even threats of military action.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:09:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China remembers dead of Nanjing
China has been holding ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing massacre.

Survivors attended the reopening of a memorial hall, built to remember an act that has come to symbolise imperial Japanese aggression in China.

Japanese soldiers carried out the killings in a six-week period after Nanjing was captured in December 1937.

Beijing says 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed, but some Japanese historians dispute this figure.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This event is also known as The Rape of Nanjing. The word "rape" does not appear in the text of this report - but there is a link to an older BBC story which reads very differently from this one.

Make your own conclusions regarding what's so important these days that Japanese atrocities needed to be diminished.

by Sargon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:30:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Red Cross demands Mid-East action
The International Committee of the Red Cross has called for immediate political action to contain the "deep crisis" in the West Bank and Gaza.

The statement was an unusual departure from its normally non-political stance.

The ICRC said the measures imposed by Israel had denied the Palestinian population the right to live a normal and dignified life.

But the Israeli government insisted it was co-operating with the Red Cross to ensure the flow of humanitarian aid.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:13:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Red Cross Warns of Record Number of Natural Disasters
Global warming has led to a record number of natural disasters in 2007, according to a report by the International Red Cross presented on Thursday.

The organisation said that in comparison to last year there has been an increase of 20 percent in the number of natural disasters, most of them weather-related.

As of 10 October 2007, the organisation had already recorded 410 disasters, 56 percent of which were weather-related, which is consistent with the trend of rising numbers of climate change-related disasters, says the annual World Disasters Report.

The report also shows that natural disasters hit 270 million people every year, while in the previous decade the figure was 240 million. The number of deaths caused by disasters has doubled to 1,2 million people.
by das monde on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:01:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Ministers meet for Afghan talks
Ministers from eight Nato countries with troops in southern Afghanistan are due to meet near Edinburgh in Scotland to discuss the future of the country.

The meeting is being hosted by UK Defence Secretary Des Browne. His American counterpart, Robert Gates, is also taking part.

The meeting comes days after Nato and Afghan forces retook an important town in southern Afghanistan.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if any Afghan is invited on that meeting...

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:38:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News - It's a fragile 'quiet' in Iraq
In recent months, US casualties and Iraqi deaths have dropped markedly. Americans and Iraqis welcome the news but are perplexed by it as well. This is especially so in the US Congress, where confusion and indecision have deepened, and opposition to the war is even more tepid and incoherent than a year ago.

The administration and the military have cautiously claimed progress; sympathetic figures in Congress and the media have incautiously trumpeted it. They advance a readily understood explanation with an intuitive plausibility that a war-weary public is willing to accept. But momentous shifts rarely have simple causes.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From tanks to trade: A new road for ex-foes - International Herald Tribune

On a frontier where Vietnamese and Chinese soldiers exchanged bullets in a short but bloody war three decades ago, construction workers from the two countries will soon join forces to build a highway that promises to bring new wealth to their once heavily guarded border regions.

Plans for a four-lane highway from Hanoi to Kunming cleared the last hurdle Friday, when the board of the Asian Development Bank gave the green light to a loan that will underwrite the Vietnamese side of the project.

By 2012, when the highway is completed, cars, buses and trucks will be able to speed people and goods between northern Vietnam and southern China, opening the prospect of a significant new economic development zone in Asia.

A journey that now takes three days by truck will be reduced to just nine hours. Goods made in China's Yunnan Province will gain quick access to the Vietnamese seaport of Haiphong, and Vietnamese exporters will be given the opportunity to reach untapped markets in China.

"Both countries are reaping the fruits of peace and cooperation," said Ayumi Konishi, the Asian Development Bank's country director in Vietnam. "In one generation, they have moved from tanks and troops to trade and tourism."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - ANC set to make Mbeki pay despite boom

South Africa's ruling African National Congress appears poised to punish President Thabo Mbeki next week at its leadership elections. And yet the country's economy continues to shine after eight years of growth under Mr Mbeki's stewardship.

Even as the US and UK cut interest rates, South Africa is trying to tame a boom that is evident as much in rising consumer prices and unchecked credit growth as in a surging stock market. The South African Reserve Bank last week raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year to 11 per cent, marking a cumulative 400 basis point rise in the past 18 months.

Yet while South Africa's macroeconomic future looks just about as steady as its recent past, that has not stopped many South Africans from criticising their economist-president's economic record ahead of the ANC's leadership contest.

Many voters dissatisfied with the pace of trickle-down prosperity support Jacob Zuma, the populist politician who will probably wrest the ANC presidency from Mr Mbeki at the party conference that opens on Sunday.

Annual GDP growth of around 5 per cent, poorer South Africans contend, is a number that does not translate into fixed roofs and greater family prosperity.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Mbeki policies on economy `disastrous'

The South African government's free market economic policies have been "disastrous" for the country under President Thabo Mbeki's rule, the head of South Africa's most powerful union movement and a close ally of presidential contender Jacob Zuma, said on Wednesday.

Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu, accused Mr Mbeki's government of having lost sight of the concerns of the poor and unemployed during his eight years in power.

"If the world belonged to me, everything stops now," he told the Financial Times, adding that new policies should be the result of a broad, national debate.

Business people will seize on his comments, as Mr Vavi has been a force behind Mr Zuma's increasingly confident campaign to replace Mr Mbeki as the ANC leader at the party's five-yearly elections starting this weekend.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There will be no meaningful difference between a Zuma economic policy and Mbeki's economic policies.  The only thing Zuma cares about is Zuma.  

I am no fan of Mbeki, but a Zuma presidency would be disastrous.  The man is a corrupt thug with a tribal mentality and dreadfully regressive attitudes toward women.  He was only acquitted of rape because the South African justice system has no problem with putting the victim on trial.

I tremble at the idea of a Zuma presidency.  Seriously.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what I mean -- An unstoppable Zunami:

Zuma's entire campaign has been fought on the strength of personality and of the various personae he employs; his is not a battle for ideology and policy, as much as his allies might make it out to be so.

"In the United States we had lots of discussions. I met lots of companies and politicians for that matter," said Zuma.

"And they understood that the ANC is not an individual. Some asked me: `Well what is your policy if you were to win elections?' I said: `Sorry, I've got no economic policy, all policies are ANC policies.'

"There is no individual who has ever had his own policy, they are all ANC policy. You may ask him what strategy lies behind the ANC policy.["]

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:39:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why the hell not?

Privation and Despair Colored an Algiers Bomber's Life - New York Times

ALGIERS -- Larbi Charef grew up in a tough neighborhood in Algiers alongside other suicide bombers, with none of the advantages of the university students he killed on Tuesday. A former convict, he was 30 years old when he detonated the explosives packed in his car on an Algiers street.

[...]

Mr. Charef was born in poverty in the eastern part of the capital, had made two pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, spent time in prison and unemployed and eventually made his way to an insurgent camp in the eastern mountains of Algeria, according to a portrait pieced together from interviews with his family and security officials.

"The poverty is the soil, the prison the fertilizer," said a Western diplomat, a student of terrorism in North Africa. He called Mr. Charef, who went by the alias Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul Nasser Al-Aassemi, "in many ways, the classic profile" of a terrorist.



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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:00:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
House Passes Restrictions on Interrogation Methods - New York Times
WASHINGTON -- Defying a veto threat from President Bush, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to prohibit waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency against high-level prisoners from Al Qaeda.

The 222-to-199 vote, largely along party lines, sends the legislation to the Senate, where passage is less certain. The measure, part of the intelligence authorization bill, would restrict all American interrogators to techniques included in the Army Field Manual, which prohibits the use of physical force.

In a statement this week, the White House said the president would veto the bill, as a ban on harsh interrogations "would prevent the president from taking the lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack in wartime."



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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
about the "Party of Torture"?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:32:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They would just counter with ads featuring Jack Bauer...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:49:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Argentine Leader Faults U.S. on Inquiry - New York Times
BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina's new president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, lashed out at the United States on Thursday for meddling in Latin American affairs after American prosecutors in Miami alleged that a suitcase stuffed with $800,000 was intended to be a secret contribution to her campaign.

"There is some garbage in international politics that holds back development and seriousness in international relationships," Mrs. Kirchner said from the presidential palace here.

On Wednesday, just two days after Mrs. Kirchner was sworn in as Argentina's first elected female president, American officials arrested three Venezuelans and one Uruguayan on charges of acting and conspiring to act as agents of a foreign government within the United States, without prior notification to the attorney general.

According to the American criminal complaint, the four individuals, and a fifth who is still being sought, were acting on behalf of high-ranking officials in the government of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, which an assistant United States attorney says was seeking to deliver the money to Mrs. Kirchner's campaign in August, two months before the Oct. 28 election.



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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:05:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Falters in Terror Case Against 7 in Miami - New York Times

MIAMI -- One of seven indigent men charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago as part of an Islamic jihad was acquitted on Thursday, and a mistrial was declared in the prosecution of the six others after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked.

The outcome was a significant defeat for the Bush administration, which had described the case as a major crackdown on homegrown terrorists.

Officials had acknowledged that the defendants, known as the Liberty City Seven for the depressed section of Miami where they frequently gathered in a rundown warehouse, had never acquired weapons or equipment and had posed no immediate threat. But, the officials said, the case underscored a need for pre-emptive terrorism prosecutions.

In acquitting Lyglenson Lemorin, 32, a Haitian immigrant who was cast by the prosecution as a junior foot soldier in the group, the jurors were compelled by evidence that suggested he had tried "to distance himself" from the others, Jeffrey Agron, the jury foreman, said outside the courthouse.

[...]

The defendants -- five Americans and two Haitians -- worked in a small construction business owned by Mr. Batiste and were members of the Moorish Science Temple, a sect that blends Islam, Christianity and Judaism and does not recognize the authority of the United States government. They were charged with planning to join forces with Al Qaeda to blow up the Chicago skyscraper and several federal buildings in an effort at a government overthrow.



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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:08:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't post a link from my phone, but yesterday's Democratic debate was very interesting -- not for any real substance but rather from the perspective if strategy.  For the first time, I'm not counting out John Edwards.  He may just pull out a win in Iowa.  Hillary is in deep, deep trouble and seems poised to destroy herself in a collapse that would make Howard Dean's crash look positively mild.  There are little moments in campaigns when you can see the big hit coming, not unlike watching a linebacker find a hole straight to the quarterback in American football.  Obama made a complete fool of her, and she seems to have come across looking incredibly arrogant, judging by people's reactions.

So Edwards or Obama in Iowa.  That's my call three weeks out.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:59:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is good news, especially about the HRC crash and burn. If you find a youtube for some of the more indicative bits, let us know.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:21:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question becomes:  Which one survives, Edwards or Obama?  What's clear to me is that the Clintons have completed alienated supporters of the two, and so if Edwards survives, he'll take Obama's supporters, and vice versa.  That matters a lot in the Iowa Caucus.

The Clintons launched what I can only describe as one of the sleaziest attacks (Willie Horton sleazy; Reagan in Philadelphia, Mississippi, sleazy) I've ever seen or heard of on Obama over his drug use in high school and college when Bill Shaheen questioned whether Obama had ever sold drugs -- that question, of course, being meant to conjure images of violent young black men dealing crack on the streets of an urban neighborhood.  It really did reaffirm what a lot of Dems suspected about her.

It was so sleazy that Joe Trippi, Edwards's chief strategist, actually confronted Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, on Hardball on it after the debate.  Penn repeatedly used the word "cocaine," which is textbook, Lee-Atwater dirty politics.  (As in, "We apologize for one of our supporters accusing Barack Obama of dealing COCAINE.  We believe his use of COCAINE has no relevance in this campaign.")  Trippi kept giving quite a look to Penn, and you could tell he was ready to tear Penn's head off right there on camera.  

So basically, Hillary and her supporters have succeeded in uniting the Edwards and Obama supporters (and increasingly supporters of the second tier candidates), which wasn't difficult, since they were never really far from each other in the first place.  That would, with proper timing, leave one of the two with a majority of support among primary and caucus voters.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 09:07:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT: Eco fashion? A world consumed by guilt.
Let us set aside the clichés about green fashion, ye cynical Kermits, and presume that everyone is now on board with saving the world by doing our holiday shopping at Barneys, where even the window displays promote eco-friendly clothing.

Let us also presume that organic cotton jeans are good for the earth, and soy-based underwear will someday save the polar bears. Let us carry all our purchases of environmentally sensitive clothing made from bamboo, corn, coconuts, hemp and/or pineapples in our reusable designer grocery bags.

If only buying into green fashion was so easy.

No matter how sincere fashion designers may be in their efforts to embrace the green movement this season, consumers may find themselves perplexed by how to gauge the environmental impact of the many products that claim to be eco-friendly.

After factoring in the fabrics used in clothes and how they were produced, the real benefits of soy versus organic cotton versus recycled polyester may be slight, or confusing, or quite possibly misleading.


A decent investigation into the difficulties of eco-clothing, a bit frustrating at times.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 07:27:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by autofran (autofran@mac.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:01:59 AM EST
Ike Turner, R&B legend and ex-husband of Tina Turner, dies at 76 - International Herald Tribune

Ike Turner, the rhythm and blues musician, songwriter, bandleader, producer, talent scout and former husband of Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in San Marcos, California, a San Diego suburb. He was 76.

His death was announced by Jeanette Bazzell Turner, who married Turner in 1995. She gave no cause of death, but said he had had emphysema.

Turner was best known for discovering Anna Mae Bullock, a teenage singer from Nutbush, Tennessee, whom he renamed Tina Turner. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue had a string of hits in the 1960s before the Turners broke up in 1975. Tina Turner described the relationship as abusive in her autobiography, "I, Tina," which was adapted for the 1993 film "What's Love Got to Do With It?" and made Turner's name synonymous with domestic abuse.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britons drink more than we thought, says minister | Society | The Guardian

Britons are typically drinking a third more than earlier surveys suggested, it was revealed yesterday, as the government took the unusual step of revising the way it calculates alcohol consumption to reflect stronger wine and the trend towards drinking from bigger glasses.

The Office for National Statistics has updated its drinking assessment method for the first time since 1978 due to the higher alcohol content and bigger measures of some products.

But the drinks industry reacted angrily, saying the government was sending out a confusing message about sensible alcohol consumption, and insisting that, overall, people were drinking less than they used to.

The assessment changes boosts average British alcohol consumption estimates from 10.8 units to 14.3 units a person a week when applied to the last General Household Survey data in 2005. But women's estimated intake increases by 45% to 9.4 units a week as they drink more wine than men, the ONS said in a new report.

It said: "Applying the new methodology to 2005 data shows that there has been some undercounting of the number of units in certain types of drinks - predominantly wine but also, to a lesser degree, beer, lager and cider."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:55:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm doing my best

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 08:28:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can't even measure alcohol consumption properly, something that isn't that hard, and tightly controlled, and we are supposed to believe GDP figures or inflation ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 01:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Immediate Action Needed To Save Corals From Climate Change
The journal Science has published a paper that is the most comprehensive review to date of the effects rising ocean temperatures are having on the world's coral reefs. The Carbon Crisis: Coral Reefs under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, co-authored by seventeen marine scientists from seven different countries, reveals that most coral reefs will not survive the drastic increases in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 unless governments act immediately to combat current trends.

The paper, the cover story for this week's issue of Science, paints a bleak picture of a future without all but the most resilient coral species if atmospheric CO2 levels continue on their current trajectory. Marine biodiversity, tourism and fishing industries and the food security of millions are at risk, the paper warns. Coral reef fisheries in Asia currently provide protein for one billion people and the total net economic value of services provided by corals is estimated to be $30 billion.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:39:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kommersant: Market Players Rush to Register Brands with Medved Words

Russian Patent Service has received applications for registration of trademarks playing up the name of Dmitry Medvedev, potential successor to President Vladimir Putin, Vedomosti reported.

Kaufman Production that consults Vinexim has applied for registering Volodya i Medvedi brand. Volodya is the clear reference to Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Medvedi refers to First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The root of Medvedev word is Medved that is the Russian for bear. Bear is also the symbol of country's ruling United Russia Party. Moreover, Masha i Medvedi is the name of chocolate sweets.

Vinexim registered the Putinka vodka brand in three years after Vladimir Putin became Russia's president.

Acting on behind of unidentified client, Inso-Energo has applied for registering Tsar-Medved, Medvedka and Medvedevka brands for alcohol drinks, beverages and confectionery.



"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:15:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chicago Tribune: Kidd's Ship Found Off Dominican Island

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A U.S. underwater archaeology team announced Thursday it has likely discovered the shattered remnants of a ship once captained by the notorious buccaneer William Kidd off a tiny Dominican Republic island.

The barnacled cannons and anchors found stacked beneath just 10 feet of crystalline coastal waters off Catalina Island are believed to be the wreckage of the Quedagh Merchant, a ship abandoned by the Scottish privateer in 1699, Indiana University researchers say.

"When I first looked down and saw it, I couldn't believe everybody missed it for 300 years," said Charles Beeker, a scuba-diving archaeologist who teaches at Indiana University. "I've been on thousands of wrecks and this is one of the first where it's been untouched by looters."

Beeker said the wreckage has been aggressively sought by treasure hunters, including a group with a permit from the Dominican government to scour Catalina for remnants of the ship, which historians believe was scavenged of treasure and burned shortly after Kidd abandoned it.



"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:17:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by autofran (autofran@mac.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:02:11 AM EST
<skrr> automelanchthon gets out of nightly recharge quicker than me <skweek> not surprising he's a more recent model <skrrunch>
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good morning to all my fellow machines!

Automelanchthon

 

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

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 01:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great news roundup this morning, Melanchthon - thank you!!

"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 Dec 14th, 2007 at 02:59:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for the great round-up, Melanchthon!

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 03:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well done.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 04:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
autochton, lol!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:02:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is his user number low enough to be considered to be Autocthon?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:18:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is 22 low enough?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 10:37:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Autochthon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Autochthon, the original inhabitants (indigenous peoples) of a place

well 22 is fairly original. ;-)

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 11:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, but there is a catch.

rimshot


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 02:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After some <skrr> fancy account-naming footwork vladimir and vdr have become one : vladimir.

Those who recommended his latest diary: US policy in the Balkans: recipes for violence might like to go back and recommend again, since the recs were inevitably lost in the account renaming process.

<skweek roll proud trundle crash>

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:01:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
long live afew!
by vladimir on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 06:14:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a baptismal ceremony involved? I mean we're dealing with rites of passage here. Who officiated?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:08:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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