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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 23 March

by Fran Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:09:57 AM EST

On this date in history:

1919 - In Milan, Italy, Benito Mussolini founds his Fascist political movement.

More here and here


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by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:10:35 AM EST
Court Acquits Satirical French Mag Over Mohammed Cartoons | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 22.03.2007
A Paris court on Thursday acquitted the editor of a satirical French weekly, sued by two Muslim groups for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Applause broke out in the courtroom at the announcement of the verdict, which ruled that the three cartoons published by the weekly Charlie Hebdo in February 2006 were not insulting to the Muslim community.

 

The Paris Grand Mosque and the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) took Charlie Hebdo editor Philippe Val to court for reprinting cartoons that first appeared in a Danish newspaper, sparking angry protests by Muslims worldwide in which 139 people were killed.

 

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:17:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Union Subsidies: Luxury Bike Shacks and Other Follies - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Each year, the European Union dishes out massive amounts of money. Often, funding goes to ill-conceived or unnecessary projects. But there may be a way out of the waste.

Holtland, a town in Germany's north-western Ostfriesland region, is four meters (13 feet) above sea level. It boasts a church, an elementary school, two grocery stories, 2,200 inhabitants -- and a generous benefactor in Brussels.

Uwe Themann, the 49-year-old head of the town council, is proud to show off his hometown, and for good reason. Thanks to generous payments from the EU's coffers, Holtland has been thoroughly prettified. Everything in this small town, from the village square to the town hall, the kindergarten and the building where the fire department stores its equipment, has been tweaked and smoothed over to look like something straight out of some picture book of what a little German village ought to look like.

A network of narrow, red-and-gray cobbled streets and bike paths weave in and out of this bucolic composition of red brick and steep rooflines. At first asphalt was good enough for Holtland, but when local politicians discovered that Brussels would assume half the cost of improvements, money was suddenly no object. The streets and bike paths, it should be mentioned, are largely empty.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:19:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the European Union dishes out massive amounts of money

Reminder: the EU's budget stands at approx. 1% of GDP. No more.

The "prettification" money may seem wasted, and perhaps it sometimes is. But it is an attempt to spread a thin layer of the wealth of the European core out to forgotten and slowly declining peripheral areas. And there's always tourism to be considered.

I wonder if Spiegel would say private individuals "dish out massive amounts of money" to buy country dwellings and do them up, with the same insinuation that it's all a waste? No? Public authorities always fling taxpayers' hard-earned money around like it grew on trees, don't they?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:06:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is so openly and brazenly anti (anti-EU?), it makes it really hard for me to read the whole. Where there is smoke there is fire, I'm sure - but this Spiegel article if virtually dripping with poison against the EU subsidies. What is so "wrong" with "prettifying"(!) your town?

Is there anyone having a counter position or alternatively share the Spiegel's sentiments? Is jandsm around?

by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It must be that the Germans are tired of subsidizing the parasitic Dutch!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 03:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Goodness me. I thought I was reading one of the English newspapers.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:32:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, since the death of its founder Augstein, SPIEGEL drifted off to an almost unquestioning supporter of the Economist-FT-WSJ economic narrative.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a difference in style between the German and English-language versions? The journalistic culture must be different, especially if the English version hires British or American writers.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:24:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is some difference in tone and approach, but when they want, the German version can be much more vitriolic. (I actually loved them for that until they did it to the powers-that-be, not the other way around.) But the new top dogs seem to originate in the economic department, in which the change was first apparent: earlier they always had interviews with or articles on unconventional economists or economic views (initially there was even some laudation for the altermondialists), which then almost disappeared. Now you find hair-raising op-eds in SPIEGEL like Weniger Europa hat mehr Zukunft (= Less Europe has more future) by economist Thomas Straubhaar (<-hehe, fitting name).

In this particular case, the article is a direct translation of an article in the print version of the magazine.

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

by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:05:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Report: Merkel to Aim for EU Constitution in 2009 | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 22.03.2007
Germany has included the goal of having a constitution for the European Union by 2009 in a draft declaration to mark the 50th anniversary of the bloc.

The EU constitution has been in limbo since its rejection by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Now, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she hopes to present a road map for its revival in time for elections to the EU parliament in 2009.

 

The German government has prepared a so-called Berlin Declaration, which has been sent to the other 26 EU member states for approval and hopes to have signed at a giant birthday party for the bloc in the German capital Sunday.

 

The weekend celebrations will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the EU.

 

Support expected

 

Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Wednesday that Berlin was confident the draft Berlin Declaration would win the support of the entire union.

German newspaper Handelsblatt said it had obtained a copy of the text, in which Germany states the goal of ending the constitutional crisis in two years' time. But the draft does not mention the word "constitution," so as to not provoke supporters of a more watered-down treaty.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So it's a constitution that's not actually called a constitution.

Mmmm. Good plan.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It never was a constitution, so better to call it "Treaty of Berlin" or whatever.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gulfnews: EU and US seal open skies deal

Brussels: European Union transport ministers unanimously backed a landmark agreement with the United States yesterday that will throw open transatlantic air travel to more competition and drive down fares.

But the 27 ministers, at Britain's request, decided on a five-month delay in implementing the deal so it will take effect on March 30, 2008 instead of October this year.

German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, who chaired the talks, hailed a "breakthrough" that would give a boost to transatlantic relations and benefit consumers and airlines.

The "open skies" agreement will allow EU airlines to fly from any city in the 27-nation bloc to any city in the United States and vice versa, replacing highly restrictive bilateral arrangements dating back to World War II.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:29:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just what is needed for climate protection...

When I was in Austria on Wednesday, the news in the radio included a lot of climate change related news, including a rise in the fuel tax, and new targets of 25% reduction in transport. I had a faint suspicion that they aren't really serious about it...

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

by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 03:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent Online Edition > Europe

Efforts by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to put Europe at the forefront of cuts to greenhouse gases are being threatened by her own government's plan to build 26 coal-fired power stations.

A €30bn (£20bn) scheme for the construction of 26 new coal-fired power stations by 2020 has been approved by Ms Merkel's grand coalition, as the country moves to abandon nuclear power.

Some of the power stations, which aim to use cheap Polish and South African coal and highly polluting German lignite coal, have already been built and others are at an advanced planning stage. Thirteen of the new stations alone have been earmarked for Germany's most populous state of North Rhine Westphalia.

The project has infuriated environmentalists, who are already angered by Ms Merkel's lobbying to ensure tough new curbs on CO2 emissions are not imposed on European car makers.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are these the same environmentalist who are against nuclear technology...? What's the Green Party's position on nuclear then?

It gets so confusing these days.

by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:51:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it is the same environmentalists. It is not confusing if you know that these same environmentalists and the Green Party endorse an even greater expansion of alternative energies, while in the Grand Coalition, SPD sides with coal and CDU/CSU with nuclear.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 03:55:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be frank, after so many years of tracking the energy debate, it all sounds blindsighted to me with every party jocking on their own pet toy. Where's the party that actually takes the cherished IPCC framework and say it needs to be a portfolio of solutions, including investing in Carbon Capture and Storage, nuclear, conservation and the whole range of alternative energies? I'm not hearing them in the media, at any rate.

My sympathies lie close to the Green Party, but if they are truly wholly blocking nuclear off the table and cheering at the phase-out for a country like Germany then they, too, are misguided.

by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think those who think nuclear must be, can be part of the solution are misguided by listening to industry propaganda. Nuclear chokes off alternatives, and doesn't have the capacity needed.

The Greens do actually propose a large portfolio of solutions (check the links in my other reply), just nuclear is not part of them.

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

by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:40:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
I think those who think nuclear must be, can be part of the solution are misguided by listening to industry propaganda.

I guess our conversation has to stop at this point before I start throwing stuff at you which I will regret.

Thanks a lot....

by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:00:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My view is shared by Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, and a lead author of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:14:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even while your opinion is shared doesn't take away the fact that your statement is particularly offensive.

I'll leave it at that.

by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:16:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Was it the (re)use of the word "misguided" or the naming of the agent of misguidance that you (and Migeru and others) found particularly offensive? Look, I don't want to offend you, and would like to apologise, but I don't understand how what I said is not less but more offending than a suggestion of environmentalist's hypocrisy (and misguidedness) on coal vs nuclear.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the assumption that anyone who disagrees with you on the issue must be either peddling or swallowing propaganda. You sound like a mirror image of richardk on this.

I said once that ET can only have a common position on Nuclear that (say) you and (say) Starvid can agree to, which means ET cannot have a common position on Nuclear.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, thinking about it, I fail to understand the nuclear debate at all: it's clear that there is a very basic difference at the level of fundamental assumptions, but I don't know what it is. Does anyone smarter than me (or paying closer attention) know?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:11:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the basic positions are: "nuclear energy can never be made safe" vs. "nuclear energy is plentiful". Each side has rebuttals and counter-rebuttals and counter-counter-rebuttals.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:32:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it as simple as a disagreement about the costs/benefit of nuclear power or is it something more fundamental?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:39:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the frames, I think.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The two you identify above?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:49:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There may be underlying frames. Like, for instance, attitudes to "progress" and to social organisation.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's rather what I'm afraid of.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:59:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it means we can't have a sensible debate on the topic at all.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 09:08:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought you were hinting at that when you asked what were the fundamental assumptions.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 09:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We might be able to have very sensible debates (indeed there has been) on parts of the spectrum that forms the "nuclear question" as long as all participants agree to leave confrontational attitudes at the door.

As soon as it comes to just pro/con the whole question it tends to quickly go downhill. And with generalising insults (your side is stupid!).

Other factors then the ones Migeru stated are the low risk of anything happening versus the heavy consequences if they do. Risk (very low) * Consequence (very high) = though equation. Almost 0 * infinty... And there is a tendency to emphasise one of the numbers, which then tips the equation. I think we (humans) are not really very good at probabilities.

And there is the societal aspects of having a nuclear industry. Centralised vs. decentralised energy production, waste issues, dirty bombs, isotopes for science and medicine, funding for physics department, potential for getting nuclear weapons, and I guess the list goes on.

Depending on frame anyone of these can probably be important enough to decide the question. Which means there are a number of pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear stances. Thinking about it, it might be interesting to have a poll on how many reactors the world should have, and see if it really is such a divide between the camps.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 11:05:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about writing an diary about this???
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 11:11:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always De Anander's The Nuclear Skeptic, Part 1: Sketching the Playing Field (May 22nd, 2006).

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's what this forum is great for...

yesterday i saw a report on euronews showing EU money going to provide solar panels to substitute for generators in africa as part of a carbon credit program.

these poor people can now have a chance to contribute to their local economies with a sewing machine, and the kids could study in the evenings, without the stench and noise of a generator yammering out the back.

why is it so difficult to scale that up ad infinitum?

what is it if not propaganda, as dodo bravely (and aptly) infers, that tires to convince us that these people would better be served by some nuke plant and a cumbersome, ugly, wasteful grid putting their whole area at eco-risk for thousands of years?

personally i believe it's a definition of sanity...

scaling up a bit, they also reported on a millions-invested solar research plant in spain working on using uv for water purification, with some fantastically important products for the poor.

nuclear is the biggest boondoggle of all human history, and notwithstanding all the suffering it's caused, we persist in thinking of it as some kind of saviour.

coal/nuclear are evil, renewables are good.

the longer i look at it, the more obvious it seems.

it is interesting to see the arguments marshalled and hashed out here.

i think we should bear in mind it will not will be scientists who decide, but people like me, who are science-sceptical, and while admittedly ignorant of the 'finer points', do not have the faith in their 'state' as the french do.

the money put into nuclear should be redirected into renewables, which will help drive prices down and research up.

subitissimo, per piacere...

special props to de anander and her amazing diaries on this issue.


'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 Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 01:22:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say cost/benefit analysis puts you outside the anti-nuclear camp in terms of basic assumptions.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:51:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it also put you outside the pro-nuclear camp?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:54:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 09:22:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK. So I withdraw it and replace it with

"I think those who think nuclear must be, can be part of the solution are misguided by exposure to industry propaganda or some miscalculation of their own."

or just

"I think those who think nuclear must be, can be part of the solution are misguided."

Is that acceptable?

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

by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:22:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that I would agree with it - on nuclear I'm mostly in the undecided camp, leaning slightly to pro, but attempt to take in both positions as honest as is possible.

But disagreements are par for the course. Thanks for understanding DoDo. Much appreciated.

Now let us toast on a peaceful weekend.

by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 09:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that your comment appeared more explicitly aimed personally at someone here rather than at third parties - and in this case, political parties, so it was taken more personally. But I can see how you might have taken Nomad's comment personally if you identified with the environmentalists being discussed!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:18:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that you say it, I can see how it could be read as personal attack. So a sorry is in place to Nomad, I should have made clear that I was thinking of the IPCC policy mix he referred to.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Link to source?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:26:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview on tagesschau.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:33:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...but if they are truly wholly blocking nuclear off the table and cheering at the phase-out for a country like Germany then they, too, are misguided.

Don't act innocent and hurt Nomad...you threw the first stone.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 02:12:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

From this report.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 02:50:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For what it's worth, here is the page of BUND (the largest German environmentalist NGO) on the planned new coal power plants. (BTW, the quoted article spins the situation: it is the present energy giants that plan them, the government only approved them.) The Green Party doesn't have an info page of its own, but links to BUND's page, documents its own protests, and has alternative plans, see here. (Links in German.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:35:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Taming fossil fuels - International Herald Tribune

Each day seems to bring news of another prominent convert to the cause of requiring mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Each day also seems to bring news of technological advances that would make it possible to achieve those reductions without serious economic damage. Put all these glad tidings together, and Congress has all the reasons it needs to move quickly to regulate global-warming emissions.

Dozens of major institutional investors organized by Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmentalists, will gather in Washington on Monday to offer support for mandatory controls on carbon emissions.

But unless coal can be tamed, the game is essentially lost. As a report released Wednesday by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology observed, coal produces more than 30 percent of America's carbon dioxide emissions. It is also a huge problem in China, where the equivalent of one large coal-fired power plant is being built each week, using antiquated methods.

The lead authors of the MIT report, writing in The Wall Street Journal, argue that the most effective way to reduce emissions is to attach a significant price to carbon emissions, either as a carbon tax or through a cap-and-trade program of the sort now embodied in various legislative proposals in Congress. Forcing people to pay to pollute would do more than any other known incentive to bring new technologies to commercial scale. That is the task before Congress.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:53:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Arab News:How the Mythology of 1960s Was Exploited to Sell Tony Blair

Last week, despite a parliamentary rebellion by ninety-five of his own MPs, Prime Minister Tony Blair committed Britain to the updating of its US-controlled Trident nuclear weapons system. Preoccupied with his legacy, Blair can at least feel confident that he is leaving office without having compromised his credentials as a warrior politician.

It is curious to recall how Blair once missed no opportunity to signal that he was a child of the 1960s who had been in a rock band and dreamed the 60's dream of a better world. Once in power, he lost no time in inviting pop stars to Downing Street. Britain's new leader was eager to demonstrate that - unlike the stuffy Conservative prime ministers of the 1980s and 1990s, Margaret Thatcher and John Major - he was a cool, 60s kind of guy.

Blair's association of himself with 60s culture, with the days when London was alleged to be swinging and British pop music ruled the world, contributed much to his electoral appeal. The architect of "New Labour" was sold as a politician who had grasped that, while the right might have won the economic argument, it was the left that had won the cultural argument, with all that this implied by way of the triumph of 1960s libertarianism. The subliminal message was that not only was Britain now under efficient new technocratic management but that it had found a leader who was reviving the good times, rekindling the spirit of an era when the British capital, if not Britain at large, brimmed with youthful energy and optimism

It's worth asking what lay behind the hype, the image of "cool Britannia" and of "Blairism" that was projected round the world in the late 1990s. It was, to be sure, in large measure a marketing ploy, a piece of politico-cultural propaganda, which, with Time magazine as its pre-eminent source, owed much if not everything to American influence. In many ways, it was a calculated attempt to recreate the fabled moment in the mid-1960s when Time ran a cover story celebrating "swinging London" as the city that led the world in music, fashion and fun. The original Time story itself involved no little hype - though it could at least be said to have been a response to an authentic phenomenon. For British popular culture of the 1960s, unlike that of the 1990s, spawned a dazzling cornucopia of world-class talent, especially in the realm of music.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:39:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What lay behind the hype, as we all now know, was a moralising authoritarian control-freak.

The rest of the article is interesting but has a particular slant...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 02:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A moralising authoritarian control-freak Tory.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where is Helen when we need her?
by afox (afox at rockgardener dott com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 06:39:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent Online Edition > Mandelson reveals plan to retire from Brussels, then puts the knife into Brown

He once said he was a fighter not a quitter, but Peter Mandelson announced yesterday that he was stepping down at the end of his term as Britain's trade commissioner in Europe.

One of the architects of New Labour, Mr Mandelson, 53, surprised ministers by announcing he will be quitting when his five-year term ends in 2009 and delivering a thinly veiled attack on Gordon Brown, his long-term political foe.

Many Labour MPs were speculating he had decided to jump before he was pushed by Mr Brown, the Prime Minister-in-waiting.

Mr Mandelson announced he was stepping down when questioned about whether he would get the sack once the Chancellor came into power. In a sideswipe at Mr Brown, Mr Mandelson said: "I don't know whether this is going to come as a disappointment to him, but he can't actually fire me.

"So like it or not, I'm afraid he will have to accept me as commissioner until November 2009. But I will not be seeking a nomination for a further term after that."

Mr Brown was still warm with the afterglow of his Budget "coup'' with a 2p tax cut but Mr Mandelson carefully threw a bucket of cold water over the Chancellor's approach to Europe.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whom do you cheer for in this match?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 03:58:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tim Groser: Realism basic item in our EU toolbox - 23 Mar 2007 - Agriculture News - New Zealand Herald

Throughout the world, celebrations of the EU's 50th Anniversary are in train. Those of us who have been in the front line of fighting for reform of the EU's agriculture policies and access for New Zealand exports might be excused for having mixed feelings.

Decades ago there was an annual dinner of economists and agriculture leaders in Wellington at which we would flippantly toast the absent guest of honour, Charles de Gaulle, for keeping Britain out of the EC and giving New Zealand breathing space to develop alternative markets.

Politically, there can be no such ambiguity about the EU. Its political legacy is hugely positive.

The EU, formed to prevent yet another suicidal war between the great tribes of Europe, two of which had developed into world wars, has brought peace, stability and democracy to the continent.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the socialist ideology underpinning it, more European countries have joined. Each can expect over time to get closer to the political and economic living standards of so-called "old Europe" - France, Italy, Germany and others. This will be a great blessing to them and a blessing to all of us.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:46:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Romania suspends Nastase trial - CNN.com

BUCHAREST, Romania (Reuters) -- Romania's Supreme Court suspended a corruption trial against former prime minister Adrian Nastase on Thursday after defense lawyers said the case was unconstitutional.

"The court acknowledged the claim of unconstitutionality raised by the defendant's lawyers and decided to send the case to the constitutional court for assessment," a spokesman for the Supreme Court said.

The trial is one of the first prosecuting top-level graft in Romania, which joined the European Union this year, and is regarded as a litmus test of the two-year-old centrist government's ability to combat rampant abuse.

The trial was scheduled to start in January but court sessions have been delayed by the defense's requests. No timeframe was set for a ruling by the constitutional court.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:48:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Centrist government? So they only count the far-right as right-wing?

Litmus test for dealing with graft? Well, Năstase's highway construction deals and other matters indeed strongly suggest a corrupt politician, but to get the opposition figure whom the current President defeated as rival in the election, and who has strong enemies in his own party anyway, is not that big a feat.

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

by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Prodi backs European constitution

The Italian prime minister has told the BBC that reviving the European constitution is fundamental to Europe's future survival.

Romano Prodi, who was also president of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004, said that Britain had to decide whether to stay in or not.

Mr Prodi, speaking ahead of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market, said he was for the constitution.

"We have to have it before the European parliament elections of 2009 because we are 27 countries and we need the rules," he said.

"Like it or not, if we have a united Europe we survive. If not, we are dead. I am absolutely convinced that process is irreversible.

"We need time. We needed 45 years to have the euro; I don't know how long before we have the constitution but we need it," he added.

The European constitution was voted down by the people of France and the Netherlands two years ago, but has been endorsed by 18 countries.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the French countryside, the postman usually had an important role, often helping some of the population... Now, they are being sanctioned for doing such a thing.

Une enquête interne a été ouverte par La Poste à la suite de l'initiative d'un facteur creusois, qui avait rendu des services à des personnes isolées au cours de sa tournée en leur portant pain, cigarettes ou journaux.

An internal enquiry has been started by La Poste after the initiative of a Creuse postman, who helped some isolated people during his distribution round by bringing them bread, cigarettes or newspapers

The quest for productivity and efficiency as only measurements of "good" is killing our society by suppressing the leeway which allows social relationship. It's time to think again of the priorities of our societies.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:35:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gah. This is EXACTLY what is wrong with neoliberalism. Money before people.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:40:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in a nutshell...

'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 Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 02:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:11:55 AM EST
Independent Online Edition >  Bomb goes off within yards of UN chief in Baghdad

A rocket or mortar bomb exploded 50 yards from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, as he was telling reporters in Baghdad that he was thinking of boosting the UN presence in Iraq because of improved security.

A startled looking Mr Ban ducked as if for cover behind the artificial flowers decorating the podium as the roar of the explosion reverberated through the hall where he was giving a press conference, standing beside Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

It was Mr Ban's first visit to Iraq and like all other visits by senior international dignitaries to the Iraqi capital it was a "surprise", in a bid to get in and out of the country before insurgents could react.

In Mr Ban's case their response was immediate and highly accurate: the blast was close enough to the conference hall to bring down pieces of debris from the ceiling while outside it slightly wounded two security guards.

Iraqi officials were reassuring. "This was not a security breach," said the Interior Minister, Jawad Bolani. "Things like this happen in Baghdad once or twice a week." In reality, they happen every few hours outside the Green Zone, which few government ministers ever leave. The zone itself comes under regular mortar fire and is sometimes hit by Katyusha rockets, a favourite spot for launching them being the Dohra area in southern Baghdad.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, small point:  The bomb (reported elsewhere to be a Katyusha rocket) exploded 50 meters (or 80 meters or 100 meters, depending on who you ask) from the building, not from the Secretary General himself.  

A startled looking Mr Ban ducked as if for cover behind the artificial flowers decorating the podium

He didn't duck behind the flowers, he just ducked.

That said, I saw the video... and it was a pretty darn loud blast.  I thought it was more telling that Maliki didn't duck.  Ban acted exactly the way you would expect someone to act if something explodes nearby.  Not-ducking is an acquired response.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:55:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chávez paid for Bolivia gas nationalisation | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
· Venezuela hired US firm to fight energy companies
· Move shows president's influence across region

Venezuela paid the legal bills for Bolivia's controversial gas nationalisation, it emerged yesterday, in a further sign of President Hugo Chávez's reach across the region.

Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, hired a team of US lawyers to help its Bolivian counterpart to confront, and apparently beat, powerful energy companies.

The assistance shows just how much Venezuela has helped its ally, President Evo Morales, to push a radical leftwing agenda in Bolivia that echoes what Mr Chávez is doing at home.

Manuel Morales Olivera, head of Bolivia's state energy company, YPFB, told reporters on the eve of congressional hearings into the nationalisation that Bolivia had not paid for the New York-based law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. "YPFB did not pay absolutely anything, not one cent," he said.

Asked who had paid them, he replied: "It would have to be PDVSA."

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the scandal for Guardian, supposedly a left-wing paper, is that someone else paid Bolivia's legal bills, not that the legal defense of national interests could cost too much for a country on its own?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:11:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Supposedly.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Haaretz: Someone to talk to

Suddenly, after a good few years in which it seemed to all or most of the world that the ball was in the Palestinian court, because there was "no partner" - suddenly, the situation has changed. Without our noticing, the Palestinians lobbed the ball into Israel's court.

Suddenly, it is Israel that must provide the answers; it now bears the burden of proof.

One can feel the sense of relief in Ramallah and Bethlehem, even over the telephone. Not that anyone is overly optimistic - far from it. No one there believes the establishment of the unity government will pave the way to an agreement, a Palestinian state and the end of the occupation. It is difficult even to find someone in the territories who believes it will pave the way to opening the nearest village in the foreseeable future.

    Advertisement

For the first time in a long time, however, the feeling in the territories is that Israel is losing points in the international arena and the Palestinians have gained the upper hand, with a national consensus, the support of the Arab world and growing understanding in Europe and perhaps in the United States as well.

More pleased than before

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti can attest to this change. Barghouti, a physician (and a distant relative of the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, although he does not like to be reminded of the connection), competed against Mahmoud Abbas for chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority (PA) following Yasser Arafat's death, receiving about 20 percent of the votes. In the parliamentary elections, his party failed to pass the 3-percent minimum voting threshold. Since the Arafat era Barghouti has advocated a unity government as the most effective way for his nation to obtain its goals, however, so he is pleased now. He is even more pleased that he has been appointed minister of information, largely thanks to his good connections abroad, particularly in Europe - connections he formed while raising funds for the impressive medical aid organization he established in the territories.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:33:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Poison darts found at Hong Kong racetrack

Police in Hong Kong are investigating what appears to be an attempt to shoot horses with poisoned darts at one of the world's most famous racetracks.

Staff at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's Happy Valley track uncovered the bizarre plot after discovering 12 metal tubes, each a foot long, filled with darts and buried in the turf near the starting gates. The tubes were wired together and linked to a wireless receiver.

It is believed they could have been shot into specific horses and their jockeys to affect the outcome of a race.

"It's bizarre, quite bizarre," said a horse trainer with several years' experience at the Hong Kong track. "It's like the plot of a Dick Francis novel."

"The strange part is that when we raced [on Wednesday] night, we saw these bomb disposal guys leaving the track and then saw nothing more of them and just started the races as usual," the trainer told the Guardian.


by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Had to have been an inside job. From the little I know about Happy Valley (I'm obsessed with Hong Kong, and yet have never been there, so I've never actually tried to get inside this place) the only way someone could have pulled off something this elaborate was with help from someone who knew maintenance schedules, etc. I don't see how someone just casing the place while attending races could do it.
by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:06:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Bolton admits Lebanon truce block
A former top American diplomat says the US deliberately resisted calls for a immediate ceasefire during the conflict in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Former ambassador to the UN John Bolton told the BBC that before any ceasefire Washington wanted Israel to eliminate Hezbollah's military capability.

Mr Bolton said an early ceasefire would have been "dangerous and misguided".

The former envoy, who stepped down in December 2006, was interviewed for a BBC radio documentary, The Summer War in Lebanon, to be broadcast in April.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:58:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So this clown managed to convince himself over the past few months that Hezbollah's military capabilities were eliminated?...

With such blind idiots at the helm, the US imperial project is finished. Why are our leaders even blinder, too blind to see this?

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

by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:14:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it appears that even Darth Bolton isn't that stupid.

He said the US decided to join efforts to end the conflict only when it was clear Israel's campaign wasn't working.
Mr Bolton said the US was deeply disappointed at Israel's failure to remove the threat from Hezbollah and the subsequent lack of any attempt to disarm its forces.

But the part that gets me is this:

Mr Bolton, a controversial and blunt-speaking figure, said he was "damned proud of what we did" to prevent an early ceasefire.

Asshole.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is working to prevent a ceasefire some sort of crime against humanity?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:18:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where humans killed, injured and forced to flee during the prevention?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:52:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking of "crimes against peace" or something like that.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US struggles to avert Turkish intervention in northern Iraq | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
· Ankara claims Kurdish rebels preparing attacks
· Operations could wreck American peace strategy

A Kurd is arrested at an Istanbul rally on Wednesday. Turkey's leaders are under pressure to crack down on Kurdish militants. Photograph: Murad Sezer/AP
 

The US is scrambling to head off a "disastrous" Turkish military intervention in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq that threatens to derail the Baghdad security surge and open up a third front in the battle to save Iraq from disintegration.

Senior Bush administration officials have assured Turkey in recent days that US forces will increase efforts to root out Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) guerrillas enjoying safe haven in the Qandil mountains, on the Iraq-Iran-Turkey border.

But Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, MPs, military chiefs and diplomats say up to 3,800 PKK fighters are preparing for attacks in south-east Turkey -- and Turkey is ready to hit back if the Americans fail to act. "We will do what we have to do, we will do what is necessary. Nothing is ruled out," Mr Gul said. "I have said to the Americans many times: suppose there is a terrorist organisation in Mexico attacking America. What would you do?... We are hopeful. We have high expectations. But we cannot just wait forever."

Turkish sources said "hot pursuit" special forces operations in Khaftanin and Qanimasi, northern Iraq, were already under way. Murat Karayilan, a PKK leader, said this week that a "mad war" was in prospect unless Ankara backed off.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:02:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
· Operations could wreck American peace strategy

I'm not sure I read this correctly. It is so odd seeing the words 'American' and 'peace strategy' in the same sentence. Perhaps the editor of this story fell over with laughter and hit the 'approved/send' key by mistake.

Nice touch being able to blame the Turks for the front end of the war (not allowing American troops to flow in from Turkey) and now the back end of the 'peace'.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 06:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, really...

The US is scrambling to head off a "disastrous" Turkish military intervention in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq that threatens to derail the Baghdad security surge and open up a third front in the battle to save Iraq from disintegration.

Apparently the US "security surge" is intended to be part of "the battle to save Iraq from disintegration". The US has been trying to disintegrate Iraq for abut 15 years now (remember the no-fly zones are at the root of the Kurdish autonomy from the central Iraqi government which has gotten to the point of prompting Turkey to make these noises.

Turkey already made it clear in 2003 what they thought of US policy in Iraq, so they're not likely to listen. I wonder what NATO has to say about this...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 06:22:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Democrats Vow to Bring the Oil Back Home (Harpers.org)

The war in Iraq was never "all about oil," but the planners of the war obviously factored that Iraq sits atop huge amounts of petroleum into their equations; after all, one of their deeply held ambitions was to open up Iraq's nationalized energy sector to foreign investment after the fighting stopped. American energy companies held similar ambitions. "Iraq," said Chevron's then-CEO Kenneth Derr all the way back in 1998, "possesses huge reserves of oil and gas--reserves I'd love Chevron to have access to." Now the Democrats are about to help the Bush Administration and international oil companies achieve that access.

The House will vote as early as today on the Democratic leadership's $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill. The bill funds the war in Iraq but calls for withdrawal of U.S. troops by September 2008. Democrats are arguing that while they don't have the votes to actually cut off war funding, by passing the bill they will effectively shut it down 18 months from now.

That's a dubious proposition given that President Bush has promised to veto the bill if it passes. Meanwhile, about halfway through the 80-page supplemental bill is a section that demands that the Iraqi government enact "a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis" by this fall. That sounds perfectly fine, but the law in question turns out to be one that the Bush Administration and American energy firms have been pushing for years and that, as Antonia Juhasz of Oil Change International explained last week in a New York Times op-ed, would allow international companies to take control of much of Iraq's oil "for a generation or more," with no requirements to reinvest earnings in the country. Juhasz noted elsewhere that the Bush Administration dismissed nearly all of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group Report--save for the recommendation that called for the United States to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies."

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
News media and politics: an uneasy union

This is very prevalent in France, and I thought it was a bit unique, but it obviously isn't.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tom Rosenstiel, a former Washington correspondent for Newsweek magazine and The Times, said that in many cases, disclosure was not enough.

"You have the right to marry anyone you want, but you don't have the right to cover any beat you want," said Rosenstiel, now director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Though they agreed that they needed to address the doubts of a skeptical public, the media-political couples said they got little, if any, professional benefit from their marriages. All said they were careful not to share trade secrets.

Yeah, right.  If you believe that, you will believe that my white hairs are died.  


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:47:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They act as if sharing trade secrets and material benefits would be the only problem with such marriages -- and not bias.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:49:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fifteen British Navy personnel have been captured at gunpoint by Iranian forces, the Ministry of Defence says.

The men were seized when they boarded a boat in the north Arabian Gulf, off the coast of Iraq, which they suspected was smuggling cars.

(BBC)

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:19:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:12:19 AM EST
Collapsing Colonies: Are GM Crops Killing Bees? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

A mysterious decimation of bee populations has German beekeepers worried, while a similar phenomenon in the United States is gradually assuming catastrophic proportions. The consequences for agriculture and the economy could be enormous.

Is the mysterous decimation of bee populations in the US and Germany a result of GM crops? Walter Haefeker is a man who is used to painting grim scenarios. He sits on the board of directors of the German Beekeepers Association (DBIB) and is vice president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association. And because griping is part of a lobbyist's trade, it is practically his professional duty to warn that "the very existence of beekeeping is at stake."

The problem, says Haefeker, has a number of causes, one being the varroa mite, introduced from Asia, and another is the widespread practice in agriculture of spraying wildflowers with herbicides and practicing monoculture. Another possible cause, according to Haefeker, is the controversial and growing use of genetic engineering in agriculture.

As far back as 2005, Haefeker ended an article he contributed to the journal Der Kritischer Agrarbericht (Critical Agricultural Report) with an Albert Einstein quote: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:14:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What a lame apocalypse. Death by lack of pollination? Where are the AI robot hordes nuking my apartment? I want my money back.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:21:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the banality of evil MillMan.

Only nature's apocalypses are heavy metal. Man made ones are always easy listening.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:44:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is due to GMO then it's still a bit of a sci-fi apocalypse. Indeed I'm more "excited" by metal forms of doom than biological.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 11:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pill stops cow burps and helps save the planet | Science | Guardian Unlimited
Cut down on flying, sell the car and recycle your bottles. But if you really want to tackle global warming, you should stop your cow from burping.

According to scientific estimates, the methane gas produced by cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. And now, German scientists have invented a pill to cut bovine burping.

The fist-sized plant-based pill, known as a bolus, combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, is meant to reduce the methane produced by cows.

"Our aim is to increase the wellbeing of the cow, to reduce the greenhouse gases produced and to increase agricultural production all at once," said Winfried Drochner, professor of animal nutrition, who has led the ground-breaking project at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart. "It is an effective way of fighting global warming."

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:20:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Burping - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An average cow is thought to emit between 542 litres (if located in a barn) and 600 litres (if in a field) of methane per day through burping and flatulence, making commercially farmed cattle a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. 95% of this gas is emitted through belching[4]. This has led scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Perth, Australia, to develop an anti-methanogen vaccine to minimize methane in cattle burps[5].
by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
High-Tech Lederhosen: Is That an MP3 Player in Your Pants ...? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Digital technology isn't just reserved for living room gadgets and computers. Your traditional folk costume can also be wired up -- like the new lederhosen with built-in MP3 player premiered at this year's CeBIT trade fair.

Nothing like an MP3 player built directly into your Lederhosen. There's nothing quite like sitting in a Munich beer garden on a sunny summer day sipping on a fresh liter of helles. The locals in their lederhosen at the next table complete the image of traditional rusticality. At least until their lederhosen start ringing.

That's right. One of the parting shots at the mega-tech convention CeBit in Hanover -- which ended on Wednesday -- was the presentation of traditional Bavarian leather pants with a built-in MP3 player, complete with cell phone reception. Instead of the traditional deer-antler buttons down the side, the digital lederhosen comes equipped with five buttons to control the mobile music maker. Digital traditionalists can also outfit themselves with a classic Bavarian jacket with MP3 control in the arm.

by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Partnership for Civil Justice Reaches Settlement for Protest Arrests
http://pepcj.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=1262.0&dlv_id=5161
Each of the four arrestees will received $50,000 from the District of Columbia. The total monetary award will be substantially larger as the District has agreed to additionally make payment for attorneys fees and costs for the approximately four years of litigation.

The settlement obligates the District of Columbia to provide, and document, training to all officers employed within the Special Operations Division, the specialized unit within the MPD which is assigned to protest activity. The training and documentation required to be provided to SOD officers will include warnings that no officer may arrest any protestor for parading or demonstrating without a permit, detailed descriptions of new restrictions on the use of police lines, new rules that prohibit the SOD from requiring protestors to have a permit and from sending protest organizers to other agencies for secondary permits (a tactic the SOD has routinely used to prevent or frustrate protest), as well as the rights of protestors to engage in free speech without unlawful police interference.

In order to ensure accountability and responsibility, each SOD officer must sign a written statement attesting that he or she has received written notice of the provisions of the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act which sets forth restrictions and obligations upon the police in the context of free speech activities. The documentation will be required to be maintained at the SOD.  The First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act was enacted by the D.C. Council in response to this and other cases detailing widespread violations of the constitutional rights of protestors in Washington, D.C.

This is good news about slow progress.  It has taken over four years and countless taxpayer dollars, but it has been won as a well-rounded case:  The victims are compensated, the lawyers are paid AND the police must take positive action.  Let´s hope the change spreads quickly to reach the higher standards of the past.


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:25:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Knut the polar bear was born at the Berlin Zoo on December 5th, 2006. It was rejected by its mother at birth, and as such, is being raised in captivity on a diet of chicken purèe.

Animal-rights activist Frank Albrecht wants it to be put down as he feels a polar bear being raised in captivity is "inhumane", despite the current threat of extinction (see polar bear threat). "Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal-protection laws," declared Albrecht.

The Berlin Zoo continues to care for the polar cub hoping to increase polar bear population.

Let's see... Raising a polar bear rejected by his mother in captivity is inhumane and killing it would be better, especially considering its natural habitat is thought to be disappearing as we speak.

<head explodes>

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:41:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i saw it on cnn, and have come to the realisation that this is an environmentalist-smearing ploy...

point to the lone econut who would let it starve for some purist 'principle' and leave the 'great brainwashed'TM to infer that all ecologists are heartless fucks.

clever, huh?

weasels.

'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 Sat Mar 24th, 2007 at 02:37:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:12:40 AM EST
Snowing again! But a nice day anyway.
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:48:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good morning! We had thunderstorms here today-- when I looked at the radar online, there were storm cells stretched from CA into Arizona moving north, almost as if monsoon season had started early. We usually don't get that much monsoonal rain in metro San Diego, though.

Did see several neat lightning bolts. :)

by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Lychee - good thing we got the weather to talk about, or we might get bored here on ET. :-D
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:04:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's turning into a long week, isn't it?
by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:06:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello Fran and lychee! I was on this good blog last night, called European Tribune, you should try it!

(Just a lame attempt to avoid talking about the weather, brr!)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:12:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Kate Fox's "Watching the English" talking about the weather is part of sharing ingrained English niceties and to actually figure out how your talking partner is feeling... You're not losing touch now afew?
by Nomad on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heheheh.  Interesting.  In Egypt, they take that to another level -- asking "how's the weather?" is an idiomatic way of asking "how's your girlfriend/boyfriend?"  The other person has to tell from context whether they're really being asked about the weather, or about the significant other.  
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 04:12:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would create massive, occasionally fatal confusion if attempted in the UK.

And it rains here a lot too.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:46:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The actual weather here is usually fairly predictable:
   winter = cool and dry
   summer = hot and dry
   now = high winds and sandstorms (it's khamaseen season)

We get as much rain in a year as you guys probably get in about 5 minutes on some days.  If it weren't for the sandstorms, the weather'd be positively boring.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:34:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You talk about the weahter or about the real estate market with people you have nothing to say to.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 06:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People who notice the weather tend to talk about it.  It's inherently interesting, always different from one day to the next.  And, yes, when it doesn't change....when each day is identical to the previous one, that's news too!

If you live in a rain forest or a desert, I don't think these rules apply....maybe the subjects then become the humidity or the wind?

Here it's overcast and grey today, a bit damp, spring spring spring....is almost almost sprung.  The seagulls are shagging (talking about the animals wandering around and about is part and parcel of talking about the weather, no?), so it'll be baby seagull season soon enough.  A blackbird may have moved in somewhere near...how I love the sound in the morning, so fresh compared to the sqwarking seagulls--no offense to the seagulls mind, but they don't sing much, they spend their time chatting, shouting, screaming....but not much singing.  Here's a blackbird singing.

(8 seconds)

Here's another one in the midst of the dawn chorus.

(15 seconds)

An egyptian friend of mine was telling me yesterday that because the Nile sits in the middle of north-south migratory routes, a spot for the birds to rest, there are always fifteen or sixteen different species around (there were when he was young.)  The dawn chorus he woke up to was made up of those sixteen different conversations, all going on at once.  His theory is that arabic music, which has more sounds than western music, grew out of hearing such things.

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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 08:52:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Losing touch? With the tradition or with my aversion for it?

Nah, I was toothbrushing my brain cells and wondering how to stop Fran being bored with ET. Brain cells don't work too well with toothpaste on them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 07:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just for curiosity sake, did you toothbrush every brain cell? :-D
by Fran on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 10:55:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, please let's talk about the weather! The other news I get to face here are threats of another grocery store strike and the anniversary of the Heaven's Gate suicides. Oh, and that San Diegans continue to move to other cities like Temecula (about 100 km north of here) and commute in because it's too expensive to live in SD now.
by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 02:18:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With apologies to those in countries where war, pestilence, famine, and death are having a picnic. These three things may not be as immediately threatening, but they're still depressing.
by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 02:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For all those storms... wouldn't you like a storm-proof aerodynamic umbrella? Here is the winner of 2007 Red Dot Design Award, of 3 former students of TU Delft:

by das monde on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 01:32:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget windproof. Just the fact that it covers and protects a backpack in the rain will make it a big seller for students.

Although that would also wipe out a very convenient excuse for handing in late papers.... No more leaky backpacks....

by lychee on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 02:02:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good morning everybody!

"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 Mar 23rd, 2007 at 02:58:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want a backpack with a built in umbrella, for easier biking in the rain...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 05:44:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't remember the last time news from France--or anywhere outside the U.S. and the Middle East-- made the headlines in the local and state newspapers. But lo and behold, we got this tidbit today:

France opens secret UFO files covering 50 years

France became the first country to open its files on UFOs Thursday when the national space agency unveiled a website documenting more than 1,600 sightings spanning five decades.

The online archives, which will be updated as new cases are reported, catalogues in minute detail cases ranging from the easily dismissed to a handful that continue to perplex even hard-nosed scientists.

European politics? Nary a peep. Sightings of alien spacecraft? Oh yeah, baby!

Progressive Historians and The Next Agenda

by aphra behn (aphra (underscore) behn (at) bigfoot (dot) com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 at 12:05:18 PM EST


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