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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 25 April

by Fran Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:11:27 AM EST

On this date in history:

1974 - Marcello Caetano overthrown in Portugal (Carnation revolution)

More here and here


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by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:12:09 AM EST
German Minister Urges Reversal of Dual Citizenship Policy | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2007
A public debate about the introduction of dual German citizenship has resurfaced after a senior Social Democratic Party (SPD) member demanded new incentives for foreigners to integrate into German society.

Ralf Stegner, interior minister in the regional state of Schleswig-Holstein, has urged conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel to rethink her position on dual citizenship, saying law-abiding foreigners should be given the chance to become German citizens while maintaining their original nationality.

"Those foreigners who are well-integrated, speak the German language and have an income of their own should be offered German citizenship," Stegner told the weekly Bild am Sonntag. "And that without the precondition of having to relinquish their original nationality first."

Latest available statistics show that in 2005 only about 110,000 foreigners applied to become German nationals -- a drop by almost 60 percent compared with the year 2000 when figures peaked in postwar Germany. At that time the previous SPD-led government made it easier for Germany's four million foreigners to become citizens of this country.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hooray for him! The dual citizenship law was made a big cultural war issue by the CDU, and they successfully blocked it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:59:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs to vote on historic anti-piracy law - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Parliament is for the first time ever set to vote for EU-wide criminal penalties - including imprisonment - for crimes breaching intellectual property rights, but critics say the proposal is badly drafted and would affect millions of young Europeans including MEPs' own teenagers.

MEPs gathering in Strasbourg for their monthly plenary session are on Wednesday (25 April) expected to vote in favour of a first-reading report by Italian socialist MEP Nicola Zingaretti proposing criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights across the 27-member bloc.

The report comes after the European Commission in April 2006 put forward a proposal for an EU-wide law in the area and is the first piece of EU draft legislation seeking to harmonise national criminal law in the union.

According to the commission, the range and value of pirated goods - from cars to cosmetics to DVDs - is on the rise in the EU and increasingly linked to organised crime.
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:16:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German-Born Ex-Guantanamo Inmate Publishes Memoir | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2007
Former Guantanamo inmate and German-born Turkish citizen Murat Kurnaz has published a harrowing account of the time he spent in the notorious US prison.

Beatings, amputations and torture were parts of the excruciating daily routine with which Murat Kurnaz claims to have lived for almost 5 years. The 24-year old German-born Turk was a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay and the subject of a legal battle with the German government of the time, who, according to Kurnaz, failed to secure his release when they had the chance.

 

Bildunterschrift: Kurnaz claims he was even mistreated by German soldiers in Afghanistan

His memoir, entitled "Five Years of My Life," which hit German bookstands on Tuesday, paints a disturbing picture of Kurnaz' ordeal.

 

"I understood a long time ago what this prison was about," Kurnaz said. "They could do with us whatever they wanted."

 

Kurnaz was arrested in Pakistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Kurnaz insists he didn't travel to Pakistan to fight alongside al Qaeda, but rather to work for an Islamic "Salvation Army" to help the homeless, among others. Kurnaz claims he was "sold" to US soldiers by unscrupulous bounty hunters. He was then taken to Afghanistan, where he faced torturous interrogations.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:17:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beatings, amputations and torture were parts of the excruciating daily routine with which Murat Kurnaz claims to have lived for almost 5 years.

I have no wish to denigrate what this poor man endured, but I think a sub-editor has become a little confused. Daily amputations ? For five years ? How much of him is left ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wirtschaftswunder 2.0: German Economic Boom Creates Job Machine - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Experts in the government and academia are astonished over the strength of Germany's economic recovery. Unemployment is declining more rapidly and the government coffers are filling more quickly than during any other economic recovery in postwar German history. What's causing the powerful economic upswing?

 Construction of a new shopping center in Hanover: A boom unlike any seen in Germany in years The town of Friedrichsdorf in the Taunus Mountains north of Frankfurt is experiencing a boom of China-like proportions -- at least on a 50,000-square-foot industrial site on Max Planck Strasse. Here, pharmaceutical company Axicorp is producing low-cost drugs and registering impressive growth rates.

Holger Gehlhar, Axicorp's founder and owner, expects sales to jump from last year's figure of €50 million ($68 million) to €80 million this year, and he also plans to boost the workforce by 50 percent -- translating into 70 new jobs. "This year was the best in the five years since we have been in business," says Gehlhar.

Friedrichsdorf isn't the only place where the local economy is booming. In the southern Bavarian town of Kempten, Dachser, a logistics firm, plans to hire 1,000 new employees, including 400 in Germany alone. According to Bernhard Simon, the company's CEO, Dachser increased its staff by the same levels last year. By the end of this year, the family owned company will employ 8,600 in its domestic operations, and increase of more than 10 percent over 2005. "Our business is doing so well because our customers' businesses are doing well," says Simon.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:19:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
obviously.

After 15 years of squeezing labor costs, German companies have nothing left to cut?

Or there is the small thing that Germany is specialised in capital goods, and China and big chunks of Asia are in the midst of a huge industrial investment boom?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a not insignificant factor is the end of the "business strike": there was a government change, they can't expect any more grand policy changes, so investments went ahead. Another factor is the EU expansion.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:03:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're also perhaps finally seeing the German economy emerge from "paying for reunification." There are still social costs to be worked out (c.f. migration patterns, destitution of some elderly in the East and unemployment levels in the East) but maybe things are mostly trending up again?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:43:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germans Bank on "Treaty" to Replace Doomed EU Constitution | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2007
By calling it a "treaty," the current German EU presidency has begun reviving the stalled approval process for a new constitution for the union. But not everyone is happy about the strategy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials are currently in talks with representatives from the bloc's other 26 members to try and hammer out an agreement before the German presidency ends at the end of June.

By leaving the word "constitution" out of the discussion, Merkel hopes to get her colleagues to agree on a document that lacks the grave connotations and still manages to give the EU an improved voting system based largely on population size, a president and a foreign minister -- even though they might not be called that.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Merkel has been discussing the idea with euroskeptics such as Klaus
"I consider it likely that symbolic elements like the words 'constitution' or 'constitutional' or the title 'foreign minister' will not be in the new treaty," Czech negotiator Jan Zahradil told Reuters news service after Merkel met Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a euroskeptic, last week.

"Maybe the position will be there without the title of minister," he added.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:23:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not nice to say I told you so, but I told you so, here too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:06:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all symbolic. Don't call the treaty a constitution in order not to raise the bar too much, and don't call the HRCFSP a "minister" in order not to make the EU sound like a State.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:56:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Embryo-cell vote spotlights MEPs' ethics - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / STRASBOURG - MEPs are divided over EU rules on new types of treatment for diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's, with conservative deputies calling for a blanket European ban on medicines developed through stem cell research, a practice that is illegal in some countries.

After a series of delays, the European Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday (25 April) on the new EU regulation on so called "advanced therapies" - gene therapy, adult stem cell therapy and tissue engineering.

All three of them are based on the principle of replacing the abnormal body parts (genes, cells or tissues) affected by various diseases with healthy ones.

The stem cell therapy is the most controversial as it can involve cells being extracted from human embryos - a practise illegal in some countries, such as Poland and Italy.

Still, experts argue that it is crucial for the treatment of blindness, spinal cord injury, as well as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

At the moment, rules on the authorisation of the new therapies vary across the EU's 27 member states and most stakeholders claim that such differences hamper research and prevent access for patients from some countries to modern medical treatment which could save their lives.
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting issue. I love the idea of "ethically unaccepotable" products. How about the ethics of promoting suffering and death from curable disorders ?

Why do we need these superstitious goat-worshippers (or whatever jumped up hederow sprite they worship) to tell humanity how to deal with its issues ?

If they wanna follow the Bible, I want to see them follow ALL of it. No smorgasboard religions thank you, don't pick or choose they bits that fit your world projudices, go follow all of it. And when they realise how bloody contradictory, messed up, hate-filled, genocide encouraging, misanthropic it all is, maybe they'll just shut the f*ck up.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:46:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And when they realise how bloody contradictory, messed up, hate-filled, genocide encouraging, misanthropic it all is, maybe they'll just shut the f*ck up.

Yes, but rather too many of them seem to like those parts the best of all.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU commissioner backs Royal in French election - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Although Brussels is formally keeping quiet on who it would like to see win the French elections, certain individual commissioners have been less discreet.

Margot Wallstrom, the EU communications commissioner, has made an all-out plug for socialist candidate Segolene Royal in her blog.

In an entry posted on Monday, the day after presidential elections that saw Ms Royal go through to the second round run-off on 6 May against Nicolas Sarkozy, the commissioner wrote that she "cheered" the achievements of her fellow socialist politician.

Continuing her blog in French, Ms Wallstrom says that "maybe more than anything else, I was so happy to see that a woman will take part in the second round of the presidential elections."

Noting that there are women ministers in several governments, particularly in Finland, she emphasizes that this is the first time a woman has made it through to the second round in France.

"It's historic and I wanted, as a woman involved in politics, to pay homage to Segolene Royal and wish her 'good luck' for what comes."
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd normally denounce this on principle, but after so many EPP help across the border also utilising commissioners and Barroso himself, some balance is needed...

Continuing her blog in French

Hehehe, what happened? And what did her blog's moderator say?...

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

by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Offshore abortion women's group is given licence again-Life & Style-Women-TimesOnline

An "abortion ship" is planning to sail to countries where the practice is illegal and take women out to sea for terminations after the Dutch Government lifted restrictions banning it from international waters.

Rebecca Gomperts, the director of Women on Waves, told The Times: "We have just received the licence and there are some restrictive conditions but, yes, we are going to prepare a new campaign, that is for sure.

"We are in touch with women's organisations in several different countries. There are still three countries where abortion is illegal in Europe but there are also invitations from Argentina and some other South American countries."

Under the terms of its licence, the group is able to sail under the Dutch flag in international waters and hand out "abortion pills" for women up to seven weeks pregnant, causing them to have a miscarriage.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:30:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Moderate to be next Turkish president but tensions remain - Independent Online Edition > Europe

Turkey's governing party nominated a moderate as the man almost certain to become the country's next president yesterday, as it prepared to take over one of the most symbolic posts of the secular state.

Abdullah Gul, the Foreign minister, is regarded as a less confrontational figure than the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has angered traditional secularists with his Islamist policies and had been expected to stand for the job.

Mr Gul promised yesterday that, if elected, he would follow the country's basic secular principles. "The president must be bound by the basic principles of the constitution," the Foreign minister said.

But his candidature failed to defuse tension with Turkey's secular elite, including the country's powerful generals, which is alarmed at the prospect of the presidency falling to an Islamic-rooted party for the first time.

The main opposition party said that it would not take part in parliamentary voting for the next president and would appeal to the Constitutional Court if fewer than two-thirds of MPs vote.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no Blairism. An 'ism' needs a coherent set of ideas | Comment | Guardian Unlimited Politics
This last decade has seen a new style, a new PR technique, but not a new ideology. Thatcherism remains the guiding light

We are to be overwhelmed. A tidal wave of epitaphs, eulogies and obsequies of Tony Blair is upon us. His era will crave definition. The flesh must be made word, and the word is Blairism. Already it is creeping into the columns of this paper. It hangs on the lips of friend and foe alike.

Let us get one thing straight. Blairism does not exist and never has. It is all froth and miasma. It consists of throwing a packet of words such as change, community, renewal, partnership, social and reform into the air and watching them twinkle to the ground like blossom until the body politic is carpeted with sweet-smelling bloom. An -ism implies a coherent set of ideas, an ideology capable of driving a programme in a particular direction. In plumbing the shallows of Blair's ideas, even his guru, Raymond Plant, was reduced to taking refuge in Daniel Bell's End of Ideology. Like most British prime ministers - whatever they proclaim - Blair in office has taken things as he found them, tootling along until the dying fall of his departure.

Article continues That is not to say that Britain under Blair and Gordon Brown has lacked a guiding light, but that light has been Thatcherism. This reality has been obscured by the congenital bipolarity of British politics and the bifocalism of the Westminster media, in which protocol requires that everything is expressed in terms of government and opposition. Hence Blairism cannot be Thatcherism because Blair is Labour and Margaret Thatcher Tory. For a decade British politics has, quite simply, been wrongly described.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was about Sarkozy imitating Blair - their philosophy is "whatever works". The optimistic view is that they are pragmatists; the more realistic one is that they are opportunists with no core beliefs who are just following the mood of the day, with no driving line.

Only poodlehood constrains that to some extent.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:56:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that would be too generous. Bliar showed time and again that he is capable to dismiss the mood of the day -- that is the mood of the day of the public, never the mood of the day of the elites he always tried to appease.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, Blair is not Thatcher, because Thatcher actually knew where to stop. Blair is more Major-ite, the constant need of the insecure apprentice to do more insane things to prove he has "courage".

Major's "courage" led him to privatise the railways, something Maggie actually told him not to do. A disaster that unfolds on a daily basis.

Blair's "courage" led him to privatise everything else following Brown-ite neocon priciples of abdicating responsibility for large swathes of policy that, in traditional european terms, were entirely the province of governmental control.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:37:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no Blairism. An 'ism' needs a coherent set of ideas

Has this guy not heard of personality cults? Or patronage networks?

In any case, maybe he's right and Blairism won't survive Blair. We'll just get something worse.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:23:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it a good sign or a bad one that it's possible to say 'Cameronism' without thinking 'WTF?'
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is? Not for me, I wasn't able to write it in my comment.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A worrying Freudian slip, I think.

I meant to write 'impossible.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:02:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Greens condemn EU's carbon cost
The European Parliament's monthly move from Brussels to Strasbourg generates more than 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, Green Party MEPs say.

The Green Party commissioned the study, which says the carbon cost is equal to 4,000 households in London.

The monthly trek is often referred to as the "travelling circus".

The report is published on the same day the parliament is expected to set up a temporary committee to propose new measures tackling climate change.

STRASBOURG PARLIAMENT Used by MEPs once a month Not in use for 307 days per year One chamber, 21 large and 13 small conference rooms with simultaneous translation facility 2,650 offices Cost of second chamber, 203m euros per year CO2 burden estimated at 20,268 tonnes per year "and probably much more"

Nearly 800 MEPs travel by air, road and rail to Strasbourg - along with hundreds of EU officials, journalists, lobbyists and 15 lorry-loads of official documents.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:36:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The upgrade of the rail connection should be fast-tracked, and then rail transport be made mandatory.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:14:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe this presentation of the "costs" (CO2 rather than economic) will finally at least hint to some (who usually declaim it all as an Anglo whinge) that there is something here which needs looking at?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
STRASBOURG PARLIAMENT Used by MEPs once a month Not in use for 307 days per year One chamber, 21 large and 13 small conference rooms with simultaneous translation facility 2,650 offices Cost of second chamber, 203m euros per year CO2 burden estimated at 20,268 tonnes per year "and probably much more"
Let's look at the actual calendar of the European Parliament:
12 four-day part-sessions in Strasbourg and six additional two-day part-sessions in Brussels
Okay, so it is true it is used once a month (for a 4-day week each time, for plenary sessions), but the Brussels parliament is used only once every other month (for 2-day "part-sessions").
* two weeks a month for meetings of parliamentary committees and interparliamentary delegations,
* one week a month for political group meetings
These happen almost exclusively in Brussels, that's true.
and four weeks a year where MEPs concentrate exclusively on constituency work.
and these generally don't happen (I would like to see a Spanish MEP meeting their "constituents". That would be a first).

See also the 2007 calendar (PDF).

So: of 365 days in the year, we have:

  • 5 weeks of vacation in July/August and two weeks over New Year: 51 days
  • 3-day weekends for the remaining 45 weeks minus 4 working fridays: 131 days
  • 4 constituency weeks (which are mysteriously assigned working Fridays): 20 days
  • 12 4-day plenary sessions in Strasbourg: 48 days
  • 12 parliamentary group weeks: 48 days
  • The rest for parliamentary committees and part-sessions in Brussels: 67 days

In other words: of the 365 days of the year:
  • 182 days "off"
  • 67 days of parliamentary work in Brussels
  • 48 days of parliamentary work in Strasbourg
  • 48 days of party work (mostly in Brussels)
  • 20 days of constituency work (neither Brussels nor Strasbourg)


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:20:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The waste is the parliament built in Brussels which should never have been built. The Parliament is in Strasbourg, full stop.

Oh, in other news. The net carbon emissions of green MEPs is equivalent to that of a whole London neighborhood. Scandal! Screaming headlines! Grossly sensasionalistic news.

Meh.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Voters turn their backs on Labour and Tories | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics
Both Britain's big political parties are under heavy pressure ahead of next week's elections across England, Wales and Scotland, a Guardian/ICM poll published today shows.

One in three voters have turned their backs on Labour and the Conservatives and now back the Lib Dems or a smaller party such as the Greens or the SNP. Support for Labour is down one point on last month, at 30%. The Conservatives have dropped four points to 37%.



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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:17:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If only!... If only this would be the news after the elections.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:16:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Unfortunately though, once you add turnout problems (big party supporters are more likely to turn out) to the First Past the Post system, this is not enough to make much difference.

To truly establish a "third force" in UK politics you need to be polling around 50% of the vote. And when I say "establish" I mean get enough seats to be in a position to win further elections in the near future.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a start, I'd be content with news headlines focusing not on the changes in the Tory/NuLab balance but on falling support for both, even if third and fourth and fifth forces don't gain much influence in terms of elected reps.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I notice there are no figures for rises n support of 3rd parties. People stopping voting out of apathy/disenchantment does not support the article.

I've not seen any move to the lib dems down here, even if the SNP have attracted voters with their impossibilism up in Scotland (c'mon Merry, we need diaries on this)

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:40:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope, the article continues with:

The Liberal Democrats, campaigning hard to defend half their council seats on May 3, rise three points to 21%. Other smaller parties climb to 12%, including 2% each for the Greens and Ukip.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:14:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Harsh Words From German Commissioner on Data Protection | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2007
The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection has accused the German government of "culpable neglect" in protecting data privacy. He said the government should halt plans for greater access to phone and Internet records.

Fundamental civil liberties in Germany are increasingly under attack from state authorities and private businesses seeking to snoop into peoples' lives, said German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar during an annual data protection presentation in Berlin on Tuesday.

 

Schaar accused security officials of violating the law in their attempts to fight terror, adding that the Federal Criminal Police Office had passed on information to Germany's domestic intelligence agency -- the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BKA) -- that was unnecessary for its fight against terrorism.



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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:20:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found the Spain employment and GDP figures for housing... in Le Figaro

Apparently it occupies 14% of the workforce, and represents 18% of GDP.

Spanish private debt apparently is 90% of GDP...

Let's hope the bursting bubble doesn't hit too hard.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 08:13:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:12:44 AM EST
Scandal Season in Washington: Fredo and Wolfie Facing Unemployment - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

The seats are getting hotter for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Both still enjoy the support of the US president, but dismissals may be just around the corner.

Why the long face Wolfie? It was hardly an evening for merrymaking, and US President George W. Bush decided he wouldn't even try. Traditionally, the US president pokes fun at himself at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, but with the Virginia Tech massacre still on everyone's minds, the timing at Sunday's dinner simply wasn't right.

There were other reasons for Bush to be somber as well. His press secretary Tony Snow has been diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. Over in Iraq, last week's deadly suicide bombs made a mockery of Bush's push for more security in Baghdad.

And then there were the two guests sitting at the very back of the hall.

Alberto Gonzales, still the US Attorney General, and Paul Wolfowitz, still the World Bank President, smiled bravely through the show -- but it certainly wasn't out of smugness for their futures. All of Washington is puzzling over whether and when Bush will drop one or both of them. Indeed, not even Bush confidantes deny that a presidential coup de grace for Gonzales and Wolfowitz is long overdue. Both have lost the one quality that is absolutely indispensable for their offices: moral authority.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't think of one single member of the Bush administration that has ever had inherent "moral authority".

They have only had perceived "moral authority" due to the willingness of our so called "free press" to create that appearance.

One attorney I know says a Gonzales resignation is inevitable. However, Bush and his neo-conservative handlers will remain loathe to remove the prime architect of an ongoing ideological purge within the Dept of Justice.

No entities of our governments departments, agencies, etc to my knowledge have avoided six years of continuous ideological purging, which I expect to continue to the last days of this regime's rule.  

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 01:34:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see Gonzales going. He proved the underlying Bush principle of the unitary executive with his performance. WE decide, you don't. We'll tell you what we want you to know and will tell you nothing else. We are king and you are dominion.

He did his job.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:49:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really have no problem with Gonzales staying on. Politically he is hurt so badly that he can do very little (more) harm, and no conceivable replacement is going to restore DoJ's integrity until regime change day.

All he will do (and this is what the deciderator fails to grasp) is function as a great big scarlet letter indelibly affixed to the administration's breast, continually reminding all who see just how bad - immoral - these people really are.

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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:35:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wolfowitz deputy under fire over climate

One of Paul Wolfowitz's two handpicked deputies, Juan José Daboub, tried to water down references to climate change in one of the World Bank's main environmental strategy papers, the bank's chief scientist has told the Financial Times.

Recongisable intentions and methods... The deputy responded - believe it or not, they try to hold on.
 

by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:03:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Abortion legalised in Mexico City
Mexico City's legislative assembly has voted to legalise abortion in the city, the capital of the world's second-largest Roman Catholic country.

Lawmakers voted 46 to 19 in favour of the bill that will permit abortions of pregnancies in the first 12 weeks.

Mexico City previously allowed abortion only in cases of rape, if the woman's life was at risk or if there were signs of severe defects in the foetus.

Opponents of the abortion law have said they will challenge it in the courts.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China feels rising cost of interests in Africa

A deadly attack by rebels on a Chinese-run oil field in Ethiopia that left more than 70 dead is the latest example of the human and political cost of China's growing energy interests in Africa.

Tuesday's attack by rebel gunmen on the facility left 65 Ethiopians dead as well as nine workers from China, making it the deadliest in a recent spate of killings and kidnappings aimed at Chinese firms in Africa.


by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:14:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colonialism attracts local rebellion, whoever you are that seeks to be the Colonial master, Chinese or Western.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:54:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If colonists cannot refrain from grabbing, enforcing, exploiting whatever they can, what can you morally demand from locals? They start to use whatever means in their power as well.
by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just in case it's not clear, I agree with you completely!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:30:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan's `Atonement' to Former Sex Slaves Stirs Anger - New York Times

TOKYO, April 24 -- Facing calls to compensate the aging victims of its wartime sexual slavery, Japan set up the Asian Women's Fund in 1995. It was a significant concession from Japan, which has always asserted that postwar treaties absolved it of all individual claims from World War II.

But the fund only fueled anger in the very countries with which Japan had sought reconciliation.

By the time it closed as scheduled last month, only a fraction of the former sex slaves had accepted its money. Two Asian governments even offered money to discourage more women from taking Japan's.

Critics inside and outside Japan complained about the Japanese government's decision to set up the fund as a private one, making clear that the "atonement" payments came from citizens. They saw this as another tortured attempt by Tokyo to avoid taking full responsibility for one of the ugliest aspects of the war.

"It was not directly from the Japanese government; that is why I did not accept it," said Ellen van der Ploeg, 84, a Dutchwoman who was taken from a prisoner of war camp in Indonesia and forced to work in a Japanese military brothel for three months in 1944. "If you have made mistakes in life, you must have the courage to say, `I'm sorry, please forgive me.' But the Japanese government to this day has never taken full responsibility."

"If this were a pure government fund, I could have accepted it," Ms. van der Ploeg said in a telephone interview from Houten, the Netherlands. "Why should I accept money from private Japanese people? They were also victims during the war."

The Japanese government has held up the fund as one way it has tried to redress a past wrong, even as, in Washington, the House of Representatives is considering a resolution that would call on Japan's government to unequivocally acknowledge its role in the wartime sexual slavery, and apologize for it.

Of those former sex slaves -- known euphemistically here as comfort women -- who accepted money from the fund, most did so secretly to avoid criticism. Supporters of the women in the four places where women were compensated individually -- South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and the Netherlands -- became deeply divided over whether to accept the money.

Even those who favored accepting the money said the fund reflected the absence of moral clarity in Japan, an opinion that was reinforced in March, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the Japanese military's role in coercing women into sexual slavery.



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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:10:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry - New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 24 -- Seven years ago, a Missouri doctor discovered a troubling pattern at a microwave popcorn plant in the town of Jasper. After an additive was modified to produce a more buttery taste, nine workers came down with a rare, life-threatening disease that was ravaging their lungs.

Puzzled Missouri health authorities turned to two federal agencies in Washington. Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which investigates the causes of workplace health problems, moved quickly to examine patients, inspect factories and run tests. Within months, they concluded that the workers became ill after exposure to diacetyl, a food-flavoring agent.

But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with overseeing workplace safety, reacted with far less urgency. It did not step up plant inspections or mandate safety standards for businesses, even as more workers became ill.

On Tuesday, the top official at the agency told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing that it would prepare a safety bulletin and plan to inspect a few dozen of the thousands of food plants that use the additive.

That response reflects OSHA's practices under the Bush administration, which vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers. Across Washington, political appointees -- often former officials of the industries they now oversee -- have eased regulations or weakened enforcement of rules on issues like driving hours for truckers, logging in forests and corporate mergers.

Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.

The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.

"The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency," said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. "If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they've forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window."

[...]

Instead of regulations, Mr. Foulke and top officials at other agencies favor a "voluntary compliance strategy," reaching agreements with industry associations and companies to police themselves.

Administration officials say such programs are less costly, allowing companies to hire more workers and keep consumer prices down. The number of voluntary agreements has grown in recent years, but they cover a fraction of the seven million work sites that OSHA oversees, or less than 1 percent of the work force. Sixty-one food plants out of the tens of thousands across the country participate; industry representatives say other businesses are taking steps to protect workers on their own.

Critics say the voluntary programs tend to have little focus on specific hazards and no enforcement power. Because only companies with strong safety records are eligible, they argue, the programs do not force less-conscientious businesses to improve their workplaces. A 2004 study by the Government Accountability Office found some promising results from such programs, but recommended against expanding them until their effectiveness could be assessed.

"OSHA has been focusing on the best companies in their voluntary protection program while doing nothing in the area of standard setting," said Peg Seminario, the director of occupational safety and health at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "They've simply gotten out of the standard-setting business in favor of industry partnerships that have no teeth."



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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very well.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(just if there was any doubt...)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A cynic might say that this is Bush's way of saving Social Security.

Thank goodness no one around here would stoop to such snark.

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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Panel Hears About Falsehoods in 2 Wartime Incidents - New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 24 -- House Democrats burrowed into the histories of Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch and Cpl. Pat Tillman in a hearing on Tuesday, holding up the episodes as egregious examples of officials' twisting the truth for public relations in wartime.

They received help in making their case from witnesses who have mostly shied from the spotlight, Ms. Lynch and Corporal Tillman's mother, Mary, and brother, Kevin, who enlisted in the Army along with him after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary," said Ms. Lynch, speaking softly but firmly into the microphone as more than 12 photographers clicked away in front of her.

Accounts from officials of Ms. Lynch's bravery held the nation in thrall in the early stages of the Iraq invasion in 2003 after her maintenance convoy went astray near Nasiriya and she was taken prisoner. After her rescue, which was made into a television movie, she disputed those who said she fought off Iraqi soldiers until she was captured. She never fired a shot, she restated on Tuesday.

The "story of the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting" was untrue, she said.

Kevin Tillman was scathing in his assessment of how his brother's death in Afghanistan in 2004, which was later determined to be a result of American fire, was initially portrayed by the military as an act of heroism in the face of enemy fire.



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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:27:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:13:16 AM EST
Planning for Climate Change: Singapore Wants Dutch Dikes - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Singapore has decided not to wait for sea levels to rise, preferring to plan ahead. Elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew said the city-state has contacted experts from the Netherlands for help with dike construction as it prepares for the effects of climate change.

Singapore is worried about rising sea levels. Nobody knows for sure how much sea levels will rise as a result of global warming. But rather than waiting to find out for sure, Singapore has already begun planning. According to a news report in the English-language paper Straits Times, the tiny island nation just off of Malaysia has contacted Dutch experts for help in building protective dikes.

The 663 square kilometer city-state has begun researching such technology, "because by the time the waters have risen (and) we want to start learning, that is too late," former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said according to the paper. "So we have already got in touch with the Dutch, who know how to build dikes."

Lee, who is now part of the cabinet of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said that the Singaporean government has already contacted the Netherlands-based research and consulting firm Delft Hydraulics, though the company on Tuesday was unable to immediately confirm that such an inquiry had been made. The company already enjoys close cooperation with Singapore in other areas including a research center recently established together with the National University of Singapore, according to a company spokeswoman.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:16:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indians make cool £300m in carbon farce

[In] a deal that has angered envi-ronmentalists, the Indian company SRF, which produces refrigeration gases at a sprawling chemical plant in Rajasthan, stands to make a profit of more than £300m from the bizarre arrangement that is supposed to combat climate change.

[The] Indian company has spent just £1.4m in equipment to reduce its emissions, but it will reap a profit of more than 200 times that amount from British investors and others.

It is now using the money it has made to expand production of another greenhouse gas, which is a thousand times more damaging than CO2. Other manufacturers in India and China producing similar products are expected to earn an estimated £3.3 billion over the next six years by cutting emissions at a cost of just £67m.

[The] plant produces a chemical called HCFC-22, which is used for refrigerators and air-condi-tioning systems. A byproduct of its manufacture is a gas called HFC-23 (trifluoromethane) - one of the world's worst greenhouse emissions as it traps large amounts of the sun's heat.

It is relatively cheap to install equipment to destroy the gas and most western producers have voluntarily done so. It is now illegal to let the gas escape into the atmosphere in Britain. This is not so in India.

by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 01:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That loophole in EU regulations has been closed, as far as I know.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:57:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which loophole? Lack of byproduct catching equipment in production facilities of exporters to the EU?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:23:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Kryptonite' discovered in mine
Kryptonite is no longer just the stuff of fiction feared by caped superheroes.

A new mineral matching its unique chemistry - as described in the film Superman Returns - has been identified in a mine in Serbia.

According to movie and comic-book storylines, kryptonite is supposed to sap Superman's powers whenever he is exposed to its large green crystals.

The real mineral is white and harmless, says Dr Chris Stanley, a mineralogist at London's Natural History Museum.

"I'm afraid it's not green and it doesn't glow either - although it will react to ultraviolet light by fluorescing a pinkish-orange," he told BBC News.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The real mineral is white and harmless, says Dr Chris Stanley

All very well saying that when you're not Superman.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:07:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect a cover-up.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:53:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this bullshit? The discovered mineral lacks fluorine, but it's still touted as the "real [ahem] thing"?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A Bumfodderless Future? Scientist Dreams of Toilet Paper-Free Era - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

A German physicist at Procter & Gamble is working on a bizarre project -- the gradual elimination of toilet paper as we know it. But first he would like to make the trip to the toilet a little more comfortable.

Siedfried Hustedt in the Procter & Gamble laboratory in Schwalbach, Germany Siegfried Hustedt is often overcome with dread when he is forced to use other people's toilets. The toilet paper he encounters in those bathrooms is almost inevitably colored or white, fluted or spotted. But for all the paper's pleasing appearance, appearance is all it is -- when used, the chintzy material often gets lumpy and decomposes into an unsavory pile of cellulose as "the embossment structure collapses under pressure." Even more dramatic is the excoriated red sore caused by overly rough foliage. Hustedt, 40, can't help but ask himself why so "many people choose to suffer to the last roll."

It would be safe to call Hustedt a toilet paper connoisseur. The experimental physicist works for Procter & Gamble's research center in Schwalbach, Germany, near Frankfurt, where together with his fellow researchers, he is developing the toilet paper of the future. His latest creation is a toilet paper that is soft, removes a good deal and promises sparing use -- factors that have captivated the competition while also satisfying the wishes of consumers.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the chintzy material often gets lumpy and decomposes into an unsavory pile of cellulose ... Even more dramatic is the excoriated red sore caused by overly rough foliage.

Visitors to Germany, BYOP.*

* Bring Your Own Paper

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:13:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gulfnews: Theatre's mock trial puts Blair in dock for Iraq war

London: A London theatre has put British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the dock for waging war in Iraq, staging a mock tribunal where prosecution and defence lawyers question key witnesses.

As scrutiny over Blair's legacy intensifies ahead of his expected resignation in a few weeks, Called to Account examines events leading to Britain's participation in the 2003 US-led invasion that has damaged the leader's popularity.

Based on a courtroom-style debate between lawyers to provide material for the drama, the play raises the question, asked many times before, of whether Blair and his officials deliberately manipulated intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion.

It also focuses on what pressure, if any, they put on the attorney general when he gave legal advice on the war, at what stage Blair agreed to back the use of force in Iraq and whether the aim was regime change and not weapons of mass destruction.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ScienceDaily: Astronomers Find First Habitable Earth-like Planet

Science Daily -- Astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, an exoplanet with a radius only 50% larger than the Earth and capable of having liquid water. Using the ESO 3.6-m telescope, a team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists discovered a super-Earth about 5 times the mass of the Earth that orbits a red dwarf, already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet. The astronomers have also strong evidence for the presence of a third planet with a mass about 8 Earth masses.

This exoplanet - as astronomers call planets around a star other than the Sun -- is the smallest ever found up to now [1] and it completes a full orbit in 13 days. It is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun. However, given that its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581 [2], is smaller and colder than the Sun -- and thus less luminous -- the planet nevertheless lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid!

"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory (Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result. "Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky -- like our Earth -- or covered with oceans," he adds.

"Liquid water is critical to life as we know it," avows Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University (France). "Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X."

The host star, Gliese 581, is among the 100 closest stars to us, located only 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra ("the Scales"). It has a mass of only one third the mass of the Sun. Such red dwarfs are intrinsically at least 50 times fainter than the Sun and are the most common stars in our Galaxy: among the 100 closest stars to the Sun, 80 belong to this class.

"Red dwarfs are ideal targets for the search for low-mass planets where water could be liquid. Because such dwarfs emit less light, the habitable zone is much closer to them than it is around the Sun," emphasizes Xavier Bonfils, a co-worker from Lisbon University. Planets lying in this zone are then more easily detected with the radial-velocity method [3], the most successful in detecting exoplanets.

Two years ago, the same team of astronomers already found a planet around Gliese 581 (see ESO 30/05). With a mass of 15 Earth-masses, i.e. similar to that of Neptune, it orbits its host star in 5.4 days. At the time, the astronomers had already seen hints of another planet. They therefore obtained a new set of measurements and found the new super-Earth, but also clear indications for another one, an 8 Earth-mass planet completing an orbit in 84 days. The planetary system surrounding Gliese 581 contains thus no fewer than 3 planets of 15 Earth masses or less, and as such is a quite remarkable system.



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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the smallest ever found up to now

Smaller ones have been found around a pulsar, but that one is often forgotten by the optical exo-planet hunters.

Regaring habitability, two further issues beyond temperature:

  • Since this planet orbits beyond a Neptune-sized planet (which could get that close only by spiralling inward from much further out), it must have been exposed to sizeable perturbations, which makes it likely that its orbit is not very circular. Changing radiation input on a 13-day orbit, I wonder what atmospheric features this could drive.

  • A small red dwarf is not only less luminous overall, but its spectra differs, too. At 3250K-> peak luminosity around 900nm, at the wavelengths preferred by our plants it falls off to about a third.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:12:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words - very warm, very windy, and very flat.

Not quite a home from home yet. Although finding something so earth-like so close given the limits of technology does suggest there will be more Earth-like objects/planets (ELOs? ELPs?) in the immediate area.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:59:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words - very warm, very windy, and very flat.

No, no, no :-) 0-40°C --- not necessarily very warm, I don't get the flat reference, and what I meant isn't necessarily being very windy: there could be brutal wind direction/precipitation changes, maybe even global phase shifts in every orbit, or alternatively (depending on rotation period, axis tilt) there could be stark regional differences, which in turn can drive planet-wide circulation systems. The more interesting if there is water and there is coupling between the atmosphere and oceans, like on Earth but possibly on a grander scale.

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

by DoDo on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Five times the mass? That's not going to be easy to run around on, even if with a wider diameter. (1.7g?)

0-40°C is an estimate, but I'd guess with water vapour and energy input shading into infra red wavelengths there would be more chance of the latter.

there could be brutal wind direction/precipitation changes, maybe even global phase shifts in every orbit, or alternatively (depending on rotation period, axis tilt) there could be stark regional differences, which in turn can drive planet-wide circulation systems.

Yep - windy. :)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:41:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Astronomers are busy decoding a message received yesterday from the newly discovered planet in the Gliese 581 solar system...

Dear Earth:  As much as we'd like to have you over for drinks & dinner, please excuse the delay in extending an invitation to our newly-aware-of-us neighbors.

Honestly, our reluctance to invite you over for a chat has absolutely nothing to do with the chaos you've wrought of your own neck of the universe, either environmentally or militarily.  Really.  We're just a little, um, busy at the moment.  And the house is just a mess.  We've been having work done on the plumbing, and now they're having to take up the floors.    And it seems that there could be some, um, contagious mold growing behind the radiator, so perhaps it's in your own best interest if you just don't come visit right now.

To be perfectly honest, we were kind of hoping you wouldn't notice we were here for a few more millenia.  But it has nothing to do with you, really.

Signed,
The Gilesians

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 08:08:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OPINION: Robert J. Samuelson - The Upside of Recession? - washingtonpost.com

Hardly anyone likes what happens in a recession. Unemployment rises, production falls, profits weaken, stocks retreat. But the obvious drawbacks blind us to collateral benefits. Downturns check inflation -- it's harder to increase wages and prices -- and low inflation has proved crucial to long-term prosperity. Downturns also punish and deter wasteful speculation. When people begin to believe that an economic boom won't ever end, they start to take foolish risks. Partly, that explains the high-tech and stock bubbles of the late 1990s and, possibly, the recent housing bubble.

Some sort of a recession might also reduce the gargantuan U.S. trade deficit, $836 billion in 2006 (just counting goods). Almost everyone believes that the U.S. and world economies would be healthier if Americans consumed less, imported less, saved more and exported more. The corollary is that Europe, Japan, China and the rest of Asia would rely more on domestic spending -- their own citizens buying more -- and less on exports.

Ideally, this massive switch would occur silently and smoothly. Realistically, the transition might not be so placid. A slowdown in Americans' appetite for imports would involve weaker overall consumer spending, about 70 percent of the U.S. economy. Such a slowdown might also be needed to persuade other countries to stimulate their domestic spending.




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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:07:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The flogging will continue until morale improves."
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:01:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great response. I wrote a  comment, but gave up.

It's actually darkly amusing to see how this Economist find recessions one of the few things that must be real and fundamental. Oil running out? There'll be substitutes. Not enough clean drinking water falling out of the sky? The market will provide...

Recession? All bow ye before the god of the invisible hand and take your punishment without whining...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:34:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, he does have rather an exalted attitude.

I found it interesting that this appeared in the MSM. Now that the media can't cheerlead for the housing bubble (and the trade deficit) without looking totally clueless, they (or at least some of them) are trying to make the consequences palatable.

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 Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:47:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:13:38 AM EST
Thats it for today - long workday ahead for me. Have a nice day all.
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:39:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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