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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 20 April

by Fran Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:25:52 AM EST

On this date in history:

1902 - Marie & Pierre Curie isolate radioactive element radium

More here and hereand here

This week the Special Section covers the French Elections – for the direct link click here

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by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:26:38 AM EST
EU states raise no objection to US missile plan at NATO forum - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - US plans to build a shield against intercontinental missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic received tacit approval from the 26 NATO member countries at a meeting on Thursday (19 April), despite opposition to the plan inside the EU and from Russia.

"There were no critical comments on the US system," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said after the first meeting of high-level NATO political representatives on the US plan, held at NATO headquarters just a few kilometres outside the EU capital, Brussels.

Out of the 26 NATO members, 22 countries are also EU member states, including Germany (which previously said the US should consult Russia more) as well as Greece and Italy (parts of which are reportedly to be excluded from the US shield coverage for technical reasons).

"There was an agreement that there is a threat to Europe from missiles...Iran was named," Mr Appathurai added, after a presentation by US general, Henry Obering, using Pentagon battle management software to detail European defence scenarios with and without the shield.
by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:32:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US Battles to Ease Russian Fears Over Missile Shield | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 19.04.2007
The United States struggled Thursday to ease Russian fears about plans to extend its vast missile shield into Europe, as Moscow brushed off for the time being an offer to cooperate on the project.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, a US delegation persuaded Washington's partners that the shield poses no threat to Russia, even though Moscow is concerned the system could be widened in the future.


"The allies were convinced and are convinced that there are no implications of the United States' system for the strategic balance," NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after the highest-level talks ever on the issue.


"Ten interceptors will not, cannot affect the strategic balance and 10 interceptors cannot pose a threat to Russia," he said, after meetings between the 26 NATO allies followed by a so-called NATO-Russia Council.


Washington announced in January plans to extend its missile shield into Europe to counter a potential missile attack from "rogue states" like Iran, and possibly North Korea.


It would involve 10 missile interceptors without warheads set up in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to track any attack. This would be linked to an advance warning system, probably in the Caucasus.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No warheads?

What do they do? Glare at the incoming?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:58:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the idea is more like deflecting a bullet by shooting another bullet at it.

And if you know anyone who thinks that will work: My uncle, the former Finance Minister of Zaire, recently died and left behind a bank account containing $ 8.5 million...

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:08:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:37:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but can't you appreciate the grim humour of observing all these pious fools scrabbling around like cockroaches for the least tit-bit fallen from the White House table.

It's laugh or cry time. They say they're for protection against Iran !! C'mon, Bill Hicks couldn't have said a funnier line. No doubtr against "Iranese intecontinental ballistic rocks". "But thems ain't just ordinary rocks. No sirree !! These have phrases from the Koran stuck to them, these missiles are essential to save our souls".

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:11:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Popular Fears Trump Science: Europe's Nuclear Waste Conundrum - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

A new study has found that large swaths of Germany could be suitable to store highly radioactive nuclear waste. But that doesn't mean the problem is any closer to being solved.

 Europe is still a long way from agreeing on what to do about nuclear waste. It was a headline that likely unnerved a number of anti-nuclear activists in Germany. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources on Wednesday released a report indicating that a large chunk of northern Germany, and a bit of the south as well, is geologically suitable for the indefinite storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

The study drew no conclusions about the appropriateness of specific locations; rather it focused on those places with layers of clay at least 100 meters (328 feet) thick and at a depth of 300 to 1,000 meters. The report follows two earlier investigations identifying regions of salt-stone and granite which might also lend themselves to storing highly radioactive waste. Germany, it seems -- even as it continues to follow a policy of backing away from nuclear power -- has no shortage of sites suitable to be transformed into radioactive cemeteries.

Nevertheless, the report is sure to add fuel to an ongoing smoldering debate in Germany and across Europe about what to do with highly radioactive nuclear waste. On the one hand, activists hold up waste storage as one of the primary dangers represented by atomic power. After all, used up fuel rods and other waste remain "hot" for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. How can one be sure today, many wonder, that facilities built today won't fall apart in 300,000 years?

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:34:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I think that the editor of Spiegel should demonstrate his personal committment by storing it in the basement of his house until such time as a reluctant public can be bamboozled, sorry persuaded, by his eloquence into accepting the inevitable.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:14:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, let's leave the existing nuclear waste in open-air pools and temporary storage.

I would like to know what Greenpeace Germany says should be done with the existing nuclear waste.

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

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, you miss my point. I have no problem with deep mineralogical storage, indeed, vitrification and sinking at the mid-ocean ridges seems acceptable to me too.

No, my issue was with an editor who is keen for this to be foisted on someone else, but confident that he himself will not be anywhere near enough to worry it might be in his back-yard. It's hypocritical.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:52:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same story, different paper:

taz 19.4.07 Endlager Gorleben soll leben

Endlager Gorleben soll leben
Mit einem neuen Gutachten will das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium die gestoppte Erkundung des Salzstockes in Gorleben wieder aufnehmen. Bundesumweltministerium reagiert mit harscher Kritik - doch eigene Pläne veröffentlicht Gabriel nicht
Final storage facility Gorleben should live
The federal economy ministry wants to restart the stopped exploration of the salt-stone deposits in Gorleben. Environment ministry react with strong criticism -- but [minister] Gabriel doesn't disclose own plans
Formal ist es nur ein wissenschaftliches Gutachten: Die Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) hat gestern eine neue Untersuchung zur Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle in Deutschland vorgestellt. Es geht um die Frage des geeignetsten Wirtsgesteins. Nach Untersuchungen zu Steinsalz und Kristallingestein legte die BGR gestern ihre Studie zu Tongesteinsformationen vor. Dabei kommen die Experten zu dem Schluss, dass Ton gegenüber Steinsalz für die Endlagerung von hochradioaktiven Abfällen insgesamt ungünstigere Eigenschaften aufweise. Zentraler Grund sei die geringere Wärmeleitfähigkeit von Ton: Weil der strahlende Atommüll große Mengen Wärme entwickele, könnte im Ton wesentlich weniger Müll auf gleicher Fläche eingelagert werden.Formally, it is only a scientific report: the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources presented a report yesterday on the final storage of radioactive waste in Germany. The experts came to the conclusion that clay is much less well suited for final storage of radioactive waste than salt-stone. The main reason is clay's lower head conductivity: because radioactive waste develops large amounts of heat, one can store significantly less radioactive waste on the same area in clay.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can remember when the Spiegel was sound and the taz dodgy.

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:54:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The World From Berlin: Is Germany Turning Into a Big Brother State? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has caused an outcry by suggesting that the principle of "innocent until proven guilty," the foundation of a liberal justice system, should not apply in the fight against terrorists. Media commentators say the hardline crimefighter is moving onto dangerous ground.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has acquired a reputation for toughness in the fight against terrorism. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has whipped up controversy by saying that terror suspects should not be presumed innocent until proven guilty, a statement that has outraged civil rights groups and opposition politicians and also sparked a row within Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition.

Schäuble, a senior member of Merkel's Christian Democrats, defended his plans for tighter security laws in Germany after the country narrowly escaped an attack last July when two self-made bombs deposited on trains by Islamic militants failed to detonate.

"Would it be right to say that I would prefer to allow ten attacks to take place rather than try to prevent one person who maybe doesn't want to commit an attack. In my opinion that would be wrong," Schäuble told Stern magazine in an interview published in its Thursday edition.

Gerhart Baum, a former interior minister and member of the opposition liberal Free Democrat Party, said the suggestion was "legally outrageous."

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:39:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do they focus on whether this insane suggestion makes sense ? Of course it doesn't, it's insane. They should just make a big noise about the fact that an apparently responsible member of the cabinet is a batshit-crazy frothing-at-the-mouth authoritarian.

Reminds me of when Blunkett was Home secretary. The papers started off taking his lunatic suggestions crazy and ended up with "oh, he's gone off his trolley again"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The focus on whether it's insane (which it is) because by debating it they shift the Overton window.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, of course, I'd not realised that. However, it's worth noting that the tactic failed in the UK. They tried to shift the window and the public revolted.

It was noted recently that the parliamentary Labour party are now not only more authoritarian than the public, they are more authoritarian than the Conservative party.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If only the LibDem leadership knew how to take advantage of that...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:59:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If only the LibDems had a leadership.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:02:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FR online - Hintergrund


Es wäre ein Leichtes, Schäuble nun ein Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit zu unterstellen oder einen aufgabenbedingten Verfolgungswahn. Einfach, aber falsch. Denn die Initiativen des Bundesinnenministers haben System - und erfolgen stets nach dem gleichen Prinzip. In den vergangenen 35 Jahren hat der Unionspolitiker dieses Prinzip perfektioniert; es garantiert ihm ein ungeheures mediales Echo.

Absichtsvoll missverständlich
Das Prinzip Schäuble: In Interviews wirft der 64-Jährige einige prägnante, gerne absichtsvoll missverständlich formulierte Bemerkungen wie Steine in einen ruhenden See. Seelenruhig wartet er danach ab, wie eine Woge der Empörung über ihn hereinbricht. Kaum ist die Welle verebbt, folgt das nächste Interview, der nächste Brocken - und Schäuble freut sich, dass da etwas in Bewegung geraten ist. Wichtige Voraussetzung für den am Ufer sitzenden Steinewerfer ist dabei, dass die Bemerkungen zwar entschlossen klingen, aber möglichst unspezifisch formuliert sind. So darf sich Schäuble anschließend wahlweise "erstaunt", "überrascht" oder "verärgert" zeigen über das (negative) Echo, das seine Aussagen auslösen. Selbstverständlich habe er es "ganz anders gemeint", nur "Selbstverständlichkeiten formuliert" oder werde "absichtlich falsch verstanden" - ganz nach Belieben.

Der überzeugte Transatlantiker orientiert sich dabei am Vorbild von US-Politikern, die der "Deniability" eine große Bedeutung zumessen. Der Möglichkeit, sich jederzeit von den eigenen Aussagen distanzieren zu können, ohne dabei das Gesicht zu verlieren. Die Kunst ist es, entschlossen zu klingen, in der Sache aber diffus zu bleiben.


Seine unbestreitbare Neigung zur Provokation stellt Schäuble weniger in den Dienst der eigenen Profilierung, als in den Dienst seiner Partei. Die Union leidet gegenwärtig nicht gerade an einem Übermaß an Profil, insbesondere am rechten Ende des konservativen Spektrums. Dort stößt sein kontinuierlicher Einsatz für die Sicherheit auf Kosten der Freiheit auf einige Gegenliebe und wenig Vorbehalte.

FR online - Background


It would be easy to to attribute to Schäuble an attention deficit disorder or a job-related persecution complex. Easy, but wrong. Because there is a system to the initiatives of the Federal Interior Minister - and they always operate according to the same principle. Over the past 35 years, this CDU politician has perfected this principle; it guarantees him an incredible media echo.

Intentionally misunderstandable
The Schäuble Principle: In interviews, the 64-year-old pol throws out a few attention-getting, and preferably intentionally misunderstandable, remarks like rocks in a glassy lake. He then sits back and waits for the wave of outrage to break over him. The next interview, the next stone, follows before the wave has even entirely receded - and Schäuble is satisfied because things have been stirred up. The important prerequisite for the rock-thrower on the shore is that his remarks must sound determined but be formulated as non-specifically as possible. This allows Schäuble to style himself "surprised", "astonished" or "irritated", at his discretion, by the (negative) echo his remarks provoke. Naturally he "meant it entirely differently", just "stated the obvious" or is being "purposely misunderstood" - whichever he prefers.

A confirmed believer in the "transatlantic" world view, Schäuble models himself on US politicians, who attribute great importance to "deniability": the possibility of distancing themselves from their statements at any time without losing face. The trick here is to sound determined while remaining vague in terms of content.


Schäuble's undeniable inclination to provoke serves less to gain attention for himself than for his party. The Union (CDU/CSU) currently does not exactly suffer from an excess of profile, particularly at the very right of the conservative spectrum. There, his continued advocacy of security at the expense of liberty engenders a a certain amount of approval and few objections.

Huh. Got a little longer than I wanted it to. Oh well.

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good. As Migeru pointed out, it's an overton window, but it seems they're wise to it.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:57:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Moscow foreign students told to stay in as racist attacks rise over Hitler's birthday | Russia | Guardian Unlimited
Russia's most prestigious medical institute has told its foreign students to stay indoors for three days because of fears they may be attacked by skinheads celebrating Adolf Hitler's birthday.

The IM Sechenov Medical Academy in Moscow yesterday advised its 2,000 non-Russian students to remain in their dormitories until tomorrow.

The institute's deputy dean said the extraordinary measures were necessary because of the risk of attack by ultra-nationalist thugs, who are traditionally more active around Hitler's birthday - which falls on April 20.

Article continues "We believe that the best form of medicine is prevention," Sergei Baronov, deputy dean in the faculty of foreign students, told the Guardian. "I don't think the problem in Russia is worse than anywhere else. But there are a small group of people who are bent on provocation."

Foreign students are also being taught self-defence and lectures have been cancelled as security has increased. Officially the shutdown is described as a fire drill.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I don't think the problem in Russia is worse than anywhere else.

Well, at the risk of getting a slap from certain persons, can I just say that made me smile.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's tough to tell one way or another. The article obviously is based on SOVA (Russian side has much more material) data, which is in no way either complete or 100% accurate. I don't think it would be possible to get the comparable data, due to the differences in police reporting and monitoring, for any other country.

54 is the number of hate homicides a year (not just against foreigners, as Guardian claims) tracked by SOVA, where as the total number of homicides a year is above 30,000. The total number of homicides is without any doubt off the charts and is worse than almost anywhere else.

On the hate crime side, what was new in 2006 is an open air market bombing by nationalist youth which claimed 13 victims.

On public national stereotypes, migrants from certain areas of Caucasus are connected to crime and from parts of Central Asia to drug trade.

by blackhawk on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]

...where as the total number of homicides a year is above 30,000. The total number of homicides is without any doubt off the charts and is worse than almost anywhere else.

...except the US.  These numbers are not directly comparable, but news reporting of the last gun massacre, mentioned "the annual number of gun deaths in the US is over 30,000..."  An unnamed war onto itself.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 07:16:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That reporter confused totals and gun deaths and used outdated data.

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 09:19:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU trade commissioner to Italian manufacturers: Don't try to take China head on, go for quality - International Herald Tribune

MILAN, Italy: European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, attending Milan's annual international furniture expo, urged Italian manufacturers Thursday not to compete with China "head on" but to use the allure of Italian craftsmanship to capture the higher end of the market in everything from furniture to shoes and machinery to wine.

Mandelson said protectionist measures like tariffs or quotas would not chase away competition from Asia and that manufacturers needed to be innovative in response to competitors from countries with lower labor and production costs.

"The word 'quality' is synonymous with Italy. That's why global market trends are working for, not against, Italy in the long term," Mandelson said.

Industries like furniture manufacturing must accept the realities and move away from mass production and toward high-end craftsmanship, he said.

"The 20th century European furniture industry, like the European textile and shoe industries, was built on mass production, but it will survive on quality and brand identity, which is why Italy's frequently smaller but professional producers have a future if they adapt and follow new market trends and flows," Mandelson said.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:44:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Politics | 'No UK referendum' on EU changes
The UK prime minister does not intend to hold a referendum on the rules that govern the way in which the EU operates, Downing Street has confirmed.

Tony Blair had promised a referendum on a new EU constitution, but the British government and the Netherlands are now pushing for a less ambitious treaty.

There was no tradition of holding votes on treaties, said the PM.

The Netherlands followed France in voting against a draft constitution in 2005, plunging the EU into crisis.

Mr Blair told the Financial Times his likely successor, Chancellor Gordon Brown, agreed with his view.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:51:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Blair told the Financial Times his likely successor, Chancellor Gordon Brown, agreed with his view.

How would he know ? Or does he just assume this is another thing where he can decide the future on behalf of Brown, for better or worse ?

Blair is irrelevant !! The only issue of the future that Blair can reliably decide is which dubious right-wing billionaire he and Cherie will holiday with next.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:25:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com: Transcript: Sergei Ivanov

In a lengthy interview with the Financial Times, the man who could be Russia's next president is unwaveringly polite in a stiffish way, tough in his defence of the past seven years' achievements and with a steeliness not unlike that of Mr Putin, a long-time friend. The similarities should not surprise. Both men are 54, from St Petersburg and both are former KGB spies.

by blackhawk on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian media is speculating that Mr Putin already has chosen Mr Ivanov as his successor. Last year I suspected this would happen. Generally speaking Mr Medvedev has chances in case of full integration of Russia with the western world, and if geopolitical situation is not the cause for concern. Obviously that's not the case. As long as some circles of Western establishment are infected by neoconservatism relaxation in relations of Russia with the West seem unlikely.
by FarEasterner on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:45:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Are your referring to today's article in "Nezavisimaya"?
by blackhawk on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by FarEasterner on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote recently about The Siemens Scandal. Now Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reports that former top CEO and present oversight board chairman von Pierer, under whose captainship most of the uncovered sleaze happened, resigned.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPECIAL FOCUS French Elections
by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:27:57 AM EST
Floating voters and Bayrou add suspense to race for president - Independent Online Edition > Europe

France has given added significance to the term float-ing voter, with an astonishing 17 million of them still weighing up the four main presidential candidates ahead of Sunday's election.

The "undecided" voters make up more than a third of the electorate, and according to party campaign-ers, they could continue agonising until they reach the polling booths.

In what has been billed as the most important vote in a generation, they are turning out in their thousands to the final rallies of the campaign, which winds up today.

An estimated 17,000 people flocked to a Paris sports hall last night to hear the centrist candidate François Bayrou talk about his "orange revolution" to overcome the old left/right split in the strongly polarised world of French politics.

His consistent poll ratings of around 19 per cent have injected suspense into the campaign which had appeared in recent months to be a two-horse race between Ségolène Royal and the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, the front-runner who gained the approval of the outgoing President Jacques Chirac, through clenched teeth last month. M. Sarkozy is still tipped to emerge as the winner in the run-off vote on 6 May.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French presidential candidates make final appeals - International Herald Tribune

TOULOUSE: The four leading candidates for the French presidency held their last major campaign rallies Thursday as the most hotly contested election in decades drew to a close.

In the southwest city of Toulouse, Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate, addressed about 17,000 supporters three days before the first round, vowing to usher in a 21st century-style socialism and exhorting voters to propel her into the runoff.

She called for a "massive mobilization" to avoid a repeat of the party's 2002 humiliation when the Socialists were eliminated in the first round by Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front.

Lashing out at her main rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, she declared to wild cheers: "We will not go down on our knees before George Bush," adding that "in Europe we will defend the emergence of a multipolar world."

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Significant by their absence:

*President Zapatero joined Royal for her rally in Toulouse yesterday and it is not even mentioned!  Is he invisible, or just too significant?  Did any other foreign politician join a candidate?

*The picture of 3/4 main candidates:  The article is placed in Toulouse, where Royal had her rally, but the picture is, of course, Sarko´s.

Meg Bortin contributed from Pau and Maia de la Baume from Marseille.

For small favors, they didn´t even cover LePen.

I´m gone to letters@iht.com  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:50:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
President Zapatero joined Royal for her rally in Toulouse yesterday and it is not even mentioned!  Is he invisible, or just too significant?

He's a cowarly appeaser and a leftist.

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

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting article (if you discount the side snipes about Royal's "incompetence" - the writer works for a rightwing think tank, after all):

Personal Democracy

Of course, like in the U.S., the candidates are desperately trying to use the internet to their advantage. And like in the U.S., even though they seem to think it's important, they also seem to be stumbling in the dark, spending lots of money to leverage the power of the new media without really understanding its nature. This is why the candidates' efforts are interesting, and maybe yield lessons for U.S. campaign watchers.



Overall, the site is impressive. Sarko clearly has pulled no stops. But once you're done watching the videos (and, given the sheer number, a surprising amount are actually worth watching), your hunger isn't quite sated.

There's nothing to do, here. Interaction on the site is token. Sarkozy.fr has no way to get its viewers to connect, with the campaign or with each other. A common charge against Sarko is his arrogance, and this is an example of it. "Watch me! Watch how good I am!" And it's fun for a while, because he is good, but there's not much else to do.


Sarkozy's website reflects his public persona -- good and bad -- surprisingly well. All of Sarko's bombast is there, and it's a good thing, because you need that in a campaign, but it's hard to identify with a slick website that doesn't seem to give a damn who you are or what you have to say.

Where most sites have a form for people to enter their email, there is a countdown to the election - clearly the only thing on his mind.



First of all, her website is the only campaign website with a splash page that asks for your email and post code before you can access the main site. The obligatory splash image is a picture taken by a supporter.

More importantly, it's hard not to notice that the website is abuzz with discussion. One of the top links on the sidebar is "Forums", which takes you to the webpage's 100 (!) bulletin boards, one board per issue. And they're active.

As you scroll further down, you have the e-activists (e-militants) section.


Another impressive thing is this section, which uses Google Maps to show all the grassroots events that are taking place all over the country. Again, I don't know many campaigns that show such an understanding of how to use the web's features and how to bring people in the campaign by encouraging them to work from the bottom up.

The Blog section is very interesting. Ségoléne has eschewed the idea of most U.S. candidates, which is to have people create their blog trough their campaign website. Instead, the Create your Blog (Créer son blog) link takes you to an page that explains how to quickly set up a blog with a free service. I think this is very smart: instead of asking people to come to her website and stay there when they already have a thousand subscriptions to social networks, she takes the fight to the streets and pushes her supporters to blog out in the open.


To sum up, while Sarko is impressive and glitzy, he clearly doesn't "get it," Ségo is leaps and bounds ahead of him.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:38:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:28:20 AM EST
Gonzales struggles in fight to save job | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
Alberto Gonzales, the US attorney general, is struggling to hang on to his job after a disastrous performance before the Senate judicial committee investigating the sacking of eight federal prosecutors. Yesterday's appearance had been viewed as a make-or-break moment for Mr Gonzales, a member of George Bush's inner circle since his days in Texas, who stands accused of politicising the judiciary.

By late afternoon, it looked as if Mr Gonzales, despite his insistence that he had done nothing wrong, and saw no need to resign, was being dragged towards the exit after two previously supportive Republican senators called for him to stand down.

Article continues "I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation," said Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, describing the justice department's handling of the sackings as "incompetent" and "atrocious".

Two other Republican senators came close to calling Mr Gonzales a liar in his justification of the sackings, and in his own role in the actions. He did not help his cause by his faltering testimony, exposing fresh inconsistencies in his description of the process leading to the sackings.

In one low point, Mr Gonzales claimed he could not remember attending a crucial meeting last November 10 days before the dismissals - one of more than 40 occasions yesterday where he uttered the words, "I can't recall".

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The NYT supplies the punchline:

Gonzales Endures Harsh Session With Senate Panel - New York Times


The White House said Thursday that Mr. Gonzales retained President Bush's "full confidence," adding that Mr. Bush "was pleased with his testimony."

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The widespread view is that whilst Gonzales was rubbish, the committee missed the target repeatedly. They never really challenging Gonzales show of incompetence to reveal the inherent contradictions in that position. Either he was incompetent and all of the decisions were made in the WH (a crime in itself for politicising the judiciary) or he was competent and it was all his fault.

Time after time you can see the bloggers pulling their hair out at the uselessness of their representatives when it matters. The senior guys in Washington aren't really very good are they ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's kind of tough for the panel if Ali G's ever second sentence is "me forget". The fact is, firing the prosecutors for not toeing the party line is reprehensible but does not seem in any way to be criminal. The only really stupid thing Gonzales could do would be to lie - that's what brought down Scooter.

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting essay on Alternet contrasting the condemnation of the slaughter at VT with the approval for the slaughter in Iraq.


News outlets in the U.S. combine the totally proper condemnation of killing at home with a notably different affect toward the methodical killing abroad that is funded by the U.S. Treasury....

Everyone who isn't deranged can agree that what happened on April 16, 2007, at the campus of Virginia Tech was an abomination. It came about because of an individual's madness. We must reject it without the slightest equivocation. And we do.

But the media baseline is to glorify the U.S. military -- yesterday, today and tomorrow -- bringing so much bloodshed to Iraq. The social dynamics in our own midst, fueling the war effort, are spared tough scrutiny. We're constantly encouraged to go along, avidly or passively.

Yet George Will has it wrong. The first task of government should not be "to establish a monopoly on violence." Government should work to prevent violence -- including its own.

That last paragraph is reminscent of Jerome's kos diary challenging Hunter about him stating the US should always respond to threats with disproportionate military violence.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:09:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Year-on-year growth of various items in China, as of Q1 2007 (i.e. growth compared to Q1 2006):

+15.5% Power generation
+18.3% Industrial production
+26.2% Rolled steel production
+32.1% Car production
+43.0% Aluminium production

via the FT. And it's not growth from small numbers. Chian is by far the largest steel producer, is now the third (or second) car manufacturer, the second electricity generator.

These are truly staggering numbers.

And the expectation that China will overtake the US in carbon emissions this year or the next (one year earlier than the previous estimate, made only a year ago).

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:17:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:28:45 AM EST
Australia's epic drought: The situation is grim - Independent Online Edition > Australasia

Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply to the continent's food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought - heralding what could be the first climate change-driven disaster to strike a developed nation.

The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake up to the severity of the position.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic, delivered dire tidings to the nation's farmers yesterday. Unless there is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice, cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will die, along with livestock.

A ban on irrigation, which would remain in place until May next year, spells possible ruin for thousands of farmers, already debt-laden and in despair after six straight years of drought.

Lovers of the Australian landscape often cite the poet Dorothea Mackellar who in 1904 penned the classic lines: "I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains." But the land that was Mackellar's muse is now cracked and parched, and its mighty rivers have shrivelled to sluggish brown streams. With paddocks reduced to dust bowls, graziers have been forced to sell off sheep and cows at rock-bottom prices or buy in feed at great expense. Some have already given up, abandoning pastoral properties that have been in their families for generations. The rural suicide rate has soared.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:36:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The centre is below sea level, flood it !!

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:33:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Sensitive Elephant: Helmut Kohl's Nobel Prize Ambitions Irritate Merkel - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Relations between Angela Merkel and Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor have reached a new low point. Merkel has refused to actively promote the European statesman's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

DDP Helmut Kohl has had a bit of a rough time lately. The former German chancellor has long been plagued by pain in his right knee. At the beginning of the year, the discomfort became so serious that doctors had to implant an artificial joint. Kohl canceled all official appointments for weeks. He wasn't even able to attend the glamorous gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European Union. Canceling that appointment was especially depressing for Kohl, who is the EU's only living honorary citizen.

That makes it all the more comforting that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso used the celebrations in Berlin as an opportunity to propose an honorary title for Kohl that would crown a politician's life work in a way that no other title could: the Nobel Peace Prize. Kohl is a great statesman and a European by conviction, Barroso said. "Kohl deserves the Nobel prize for peace," he added. In making the statement, the Portuguese friend expressed not only his own opinion, but also that of the former chancellor.

FROM THE MAGAZINE Find out how you can reprint this DER SPIEGEL article in your publication. And so Kohl's satisfaction increased with every statement in support of his nomination. The head of Bavaria's Christian Social Union party, Edmund Stoiber, and the governor of the state of Thuringia, Dieter Althaus, were quick to throw in their support. And when Manfred Stolpe, the dyed in the wool Social Democrat and former governor of Brandenburg, had the grandeur to step out of the party political trenches to offer his support, Kohl found the gesture especially touching.

by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't mind that noise. That's just the sound of me retching.

Carry on.

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kohl, who is the EU's only living honorary citizen

Okay, so the EU doesn't have citizens (except those of its member states) but it does have hnorary citizens?

Why don't we reverse the equation? I want European citizenship and Spain can give me honorary citizenship if they think I deserve it.

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

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:33:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Precisely what has he done to deserve the Nobel peace prize ? I think politicians should be exempted from consideration.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can already name four politicians from the top of my head who are Nobel Peace Laureates and who I would want to have a Nobel price.

Wilson, Carter, De Klerk, Madiba.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politicans should be exempt for what they did in office. What they achieve after (or before) may be considered, but what they did in office should be held against them. Kissinger devalued the very idea of the prize. He had blood on his hands; American, Vietnamese and Cambodian.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even while there is plenty of reasons to be bitter about politicians, there comes the rare occasion that should speak for a politician, and not against them, yes, even when they are in office.

Checking the Peace Price Laureates, I may want to add Kim Dae Jung also - although I don't know him well.

Vigorously agree on your position concerning Kissinger though.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:16:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree on the others, but Wilson?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, thanks to Woodrow Wilson, I can buy tax-free booze on cruise ships. Imagine what my comments would be like if I was sober all the time!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:41:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I remembered right: Wilson was nominated for his role in the formation of the League of Nations - probably if Wilson had not put his shoulders behind the initiative, it would've gone down. Even while the League wasn't an undivided success, and Wilson failed to get a mandate to have the USA join, it planted the seeds for the formation of the UN. It just took another catastrophic World War to (more successfully) rally the nations of the world to institutionalize international politics. And since I'm of the opinion the UN is generally a force for good, I do support Wilson specifically for his League of Nations work. Even while his other viewpoints be held contestable - I have no problem for what they bestowed him a Nobel Peace price.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:59:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wilson got the Nobel Prize in 1919. Here is the award speech:
As the name of President Wilson comes to the fore on this occasion as the recipient of the Peace Prize, I know that the award is accompanied by the thanks of the people of Norway, because in his celebrated Fourteen Points the President of the United States has succeeded in bringing a design for a fundamental law of humanity into present-day international politics. The basic concept of justice on which it is founded will never die, but will steadily grow in strength, keeping the name of President Wilson fresh in the minds of future generations.


[The 14 points are] Wilson's framework for peace discussions - eight points involve more or less specific territorial and political problems, and six deal with general principles of international relations: "open covenants", "freedom of navigation", removal of economic barriers, reduction of armaments, adjustment of colonial claims, and - most famous - "a general association of nations".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:17:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I regard many of Wilson's 14 Points as dangerously naive, and the seeds of the next world war along with the moves of European powers at Versailles that deviated from his principles. Not preventing the latter moves is also a significant failure (e.g. similar reason I think the awardees for I/P peace aren't deserving in retrospect). The same way, I think Wilson's failure to get the US into the League of Nations, in no small part due to his own tactical faults at home, was central to its failure, so he was a failed idealist here. Finally, on a darker note, while he idealistically promoted European peace and global governance, he pushed the Banana Wars, segregation, introduced the infamous Espionage and Sedition Acts when entering WWI.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But something nibbles at me. This was in the early twentieth century, the award presented at 1919 long before WWII. Most of what you write is hindsight. Also, what can now be considered dangerously naive was not necessarily perceived as such in a time where politics were hopelessly entrenched.

Besides, the more I read about history, progress (or what we consider to be progress) doesn't seem to follow ideal pathways. It's haphazard (random?) and any attempts to move forward often spectacularly back-fire. Better to have a failed idealist than no idealist at all, I'd say.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 07:15:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article does mention that

Kohl stopped thinking very highly of Merkel several years ago. When he mentions her, he usually refers to Merkel as "the priest's daughter" or "that lady, the formidable one." Merkel was the first member of the conservative Christian Democrats to disavow Kohl when he became embroiled in a campaign finance and slush funds scandal in 1999.

...but that's all. A few years ago, SPIEGEL would have written about Kohl with biting sarcasm and would have listed his scandals and shortcomings.

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:11:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IOL: Beer can be likened to champagne, court rules
Brussels - A small Belgian brewer won a victory at Europe's top court on Thursday with a ruling that it may be allowed to use terms such as "Brut" or "Reserve" for its champagne-style beer.

De Landtsheer Emmanuel launched a beer in 2001, brewed using the method to make sparkling wine, and proudly described it as the world's first "Brut" beer, upsetting champagne makers.

Veuve-Clicquot Ponsardin, part of LVMH, and the CIVC champagne association took action against De Landtsheer in Belgium for infringement of trade marks and breach of rules on consumer information and comparative advertising.

De Landtsheer dropped "champagne beer" and "Reims-France", the capital of the champagne-growing region, from its labels after a Belgian court ruling in 2002, but was allowed to use the terms "Brut", "Reserve" and "the world's first Brut beer".
by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:49:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good grief !!! We call that "bottle-conditioned" over here. Although very few beers are prepared as per chamapgne, but I would imagine that a lot of gueze could be called brut. In fact, all champagnes are sec  in comparison with most gueze/lambic beers.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:38:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Southern Californians Look to Brown Hills With a Fear of Fires - New York Times

LOS ANGELES, April 19 -- The hills and palm trees have turned sepia, the winds crackle and the skin of many Angelenos, with the texture and appearance of unpeeled onions, needs a slathering of cream.

The winter rainy season here has been the driest in well over a century. Much of Southern California and broad swaths of the West are also suffering -- and fearing next a season of virulent fires.

Since last July, it has rained a mere 2.4 inches in downtown Los Angeles, far below the 15-inch average for the same period, the driest it has been since 1877. The already arid Antelope Valley just north of the city has had about 10 percent of its normal rainfall -- less than an inch -- and Burbank is barely better off. The state's overall snow pack is about 40 percent of its normal level, the lowest since 1988.

Throughout the West, a dry winter has parched places like Phoenix and Reno, Nev., where roughly half the normal amount of rain has fallen. But the situation in Southern California is particularly egregious. Every morning brings another grim march toward the lawn sprinklers and twitchy glances toward the ever-flammable hills.

"Southern California has been really hard hit," said Elissa Lynn, a senior meteorologist at the California Department of Water Resources.

Thanks to heavy rains last year, particularly in the north, Ms. Lynn said, the state's reservoirs remain in good shape and a serious drought is not in the offing. But the dry weather, compounded by dry vegetation left by an unusually harsh freeze over the winter and a very windy spring have raised the specter of frequent powerful fires throughout Southern California.

"You have very dry, very dead fuel out there," said Jamie Meier, a meteorologist with the Los Angeles office of the National Weather Service. "It has the potential to be a difficult fire season."

Brush fires, less common in the winter months, have been numerous this year. There have been more than a dozen in Ventura County alone. Last week, three homes burned in Beverly Hills, where flames were whipped by unseasonably high winds.

Ventura County never ended the official fire season that began last spring and now is bracing for a tough summer.

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:11:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a desert !! It's drier than andalucia which is turning into the sahara. The entire water supply in the SW is failing (good diary on kos about a week ago).

Once all of the veg has burnt off in the enxt few years, it'll just be sand and lawns

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Southern California is on the latitude of Morocco, too.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:51:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Metro (London): Risking all just to buy a home (April 20, 2007)
First-time buyers are risking homelessness as they resort to desperate measures to get on the property ladder, a housing charity is warning.

The number of people whose homes have been repossessed or are struggling with mortgage arrears has doubled in the past two years, says Shelter.

Some are falling into debt after signing lifetime mortgages of six or seven times their salary.

The choice: pay a rent you can afford or a mortgage you can't.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 05:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't these people see what's coming? Can't they even read?!

'Upside Down' Home Sellers Owe More Than They Get - washingtonpost.com

Jeffrey Taylor and his wife bought their dream home in Purcellville for $538,000 last August. Now they have to sell it because they are getting divorced and neither one can afford the mortgage alone.

The most they could get for it was $430,000. After paying all the real estate commissions and taxes, they will still owe the bank $118,000.

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 Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:23:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a (young, liberal) relative in the US who with partner committed this insanity, buying a home beyond their means in one of the most bubbling local estate markets, now they work their ass off just to pay the mortgage.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:38:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:29:48 AM EST
Hello, Fran, and a good day to all!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 02:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good morning afew!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:44:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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