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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 11 May

by Fran Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:34:47 AM EST

On this date in history:

1867 - Luxembourg gains its independence.

More here and here


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EUROPE
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:35:32 AM EST
Germany Home to Some of Europe's Dirtiest Power Stations | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.05.2007
Germany contributed heavily to the World Wildlife Fund's "Dirty Thirty" list of most-polluting power stations in the European Union, landing six of its coal-fired plants in the top ten.

According to the latest survey by environmental group WWF, the only country with dirtier power plants than Germany was Greece.

Germany had six coal-burning plants among the top-ten most polluting sites in the European Union, the WWF survey showed. And it was tied with Britain for having the largest number of dirty electricity plants overall. Each country contributed ten plants to the total.

Overall, the WWF said, the Dirty Thirty in seven countries pumped out nearly 400 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2006. That's 10 per cent of all EU CO2 emissions.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
six of its coal-fired plants in the top ten

And 4 of them are within 50 miles of where I am.

Ya<hack><hack><hack>hoooo!

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 May 11th, 2007 at 03:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
E.On, RWE and Vattenfall dominate the list. EDF has two plants low in the list, one in the UK and one in Poland.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:12:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy cheered as protest brews - CNN.com

PARIS, France (Reuters) -- Cheering crowds met French president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy at his first official engagement on Thursday, hours after police in Paris faced rioters chanting "Sarkozy fascist."

Sarkozy does not take over from President Jacques Chirac until May 16 but there have been clear signs the right-winger's promise of change in areas ranging from labor law to education policy will face significant opposition.

"Mr. Sarkozy has been elected. But I don't think that you can consider that there is a general agreement over his program or that he has the legitimacy to do just anything," Bernard Thibault, secretary general of the main CGT union, told Le Monde.

After winning the election runoff against Socialist Segolene Royal on Sunday, Sarkozy left for a two-day retreat near Malta aboard the luxury yacht of a billionaire friend, provoking ridicule and anger among opposition parties. (Watch Sarkozy's vacation make waves in French newspapers )

He returned to Paris overnight looking suntanned and relaxed, and appeared alongside Chirac on Thursday at a ceremony in central Paris to commemorate the victims of slavery. Sarkozy waved to the crowds but said nothing.

On Wednesday night, hundreds of police had faced off against rioters chanting "Sarkozy fascist, the people will have your hide!" just around the corner from where Thursday's ceremony took place.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:46:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear energy fuels hot debate among MEPs - EUobserver.com
Nuclear energy fuels hot debate among MEPs -  EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - MEPs have called on EU leaders to review the union's atomic treaty, Euratom, with many claiming the European Parliament must be given power to oversee the sensitive area, and others hoping to halt what they see as a nuclear renaissance in the bloc.

The moves are being debated as European legislators are set to vote today (10 May) on a report assessing the 50-year-old Euratom treaty, which paved the way to European nuclear cooperation.

The draft report, prepared by Lithuanian MEP Eugenijus Maldeikis from the rightist UEN group, calls for "adjustments" to the treaty to "restore the institutional imbalance in favour of parliament, which should be accorded a co-decision power in the nuclear field."

"We face the problem of democratic deficit," Mr Maldeikus said during the parliamentary debate yesterday, but he defended the 1957 legal document. Green MEPs, on the other hand, want to scrap the whole treaty.

According to Austrian green MEP Johannes Voggenhuber, the Euratom treaty is "a futuristic poem, which half of the EU states are not interested in." "The consensus from 1957 is not there anymore", he said.
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:49:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy's proposal for Mediterranean bloc makes waves - International Herald Tribune

PARIS: A proposal by Nicolas Sarkozy to gather the European, Middle Eastern, and North African countries of the strategic Mediterranean rim into an economic community along the lines of the early European Union has begun making waves even before the president-elect takes office.

The initiative, outlined by Sarkozy in a campaign speech in February, went largely unnoticed until he repeated it in his electoral victory address Sunday evening. Plans are still being drawn up, Sarkozy's aides said Thursday, but even at this early stage the proposal has cascading implications for the region.

Such a union, even if primarily economic, would necessarily involve the member countries in discussions of controversial issues like Turkish membership in the European Union and illegal immigration via North Africa. It would bring Israel and its Arab neighbors into a new assembly that Sarkozy apparently hopes could tackle the intractable problem of Middle East peace.

Initial reactions have ranged from enthusiasm in Spain to cautious approval in Israel to outrage in Turkey, which sees the proposal as a ploy to keep it out of the European Union.

"This cannot be an alternative to Turkish membership in the EU," Egeman Bagis, the chief foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, said in a telephone interview.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post-Malta, is every headline relating to Sarkozy for the forseeable future going to involve some kind of tired nautical metaphor?  "Sarkozy making waves," "Sarkozy makes a splash," "Sarkozy in deep water," "Sarkozy rocks the boat," "Sarkozy veturing into uncharted waters," "Sarkozy must sink or swim," "Smooth Sailing (or not) for Sarkozy"....
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:53:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't wait for the inevitable resignations greeted with "rats leave sinking sarkozy"

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:34:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But doesn't he know that a lot of them there N Arican countries are run by muslims (the horror, the horror). It places his opposition to Turkey's membership of the EU in a different light.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:36:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh, Sarkozy just rediscovered the [Euro]Mediterranean [partnership], and so did the IHT.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:41:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no he didn't.

But where most past initiatives were ineffective - and where Sarkozy's proposal is different - is that they involved all of the EU. His plan involves only the countries with an immediate coastline and interest in closer cooperation.

This is breaking out EU states into another overlapping organisation not including UK or Germany. I think the Anglo-American West™ might be in for some shocks from their friend Sarko the Great.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:58:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point.

So now it seems Merkel, Sarkozy and Prodi agree on "Enhanced Cooperations"?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkish Parliament Approves Electoral Reforms | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.05.2007
Turkey's ruling party rushed a package of major constitutional reforms through parliament on Thursday as it sought to end weeks of political stalemate over the election of a new president.

The amendments were initiated by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party after it failed twice to get its presidential candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, elected in parliamentary votes as the current law requires.

Rushed through parliament in four days, they envisage a two-round popular vote to elect the president and call for a once-renewable five-year presidential mandate instead of the current single, seven-year term.

The bill, which has to be approved by outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to come into force, also calls for parliamentary elections to be held every four years instead of the current five.

President Sezer has 15 days to decide if he wants to return the bill to parliament for reconsideration. If it is voted without any change for a second time, Sezer has to either sign it in to law or put it on a referendum.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two jailed for trying to leak details of Blair's talks with Bush - Independent Online Edition > Legal

Tony Blair's ill-fated war with Iraq claimed two more victims yesterday when a civil servant and an MP's researcher were convicted of disclosing details of a secret conversation between the Prime Minister and President George Bush.

Last night, MPs, lawyers and civil rights groups described the prosecution as a "farce" and accused the Government of misusing the Official Secrets Act to cover up political embarrassment over the war.

David Keogh, 50, a Cabinet Office communications officer, was today jailed for six months. He passed on an "extremely sensitive memo" to Leo O'Connor, 44, a political researcher who worked for an anti-war Labour MP, Anthony Clarke. O'Connor was today sentenced to three months in jail after an Old Bailey jury found them guilty yesterday of breaching Britain's secrecy laws.

At the centre of the trial was a four-page Downing Street document which recorded discussions about Iraq between Mr Blair and Mr Bush, held in the Oval Office in April 2004 in the run-up to the handover of power to the Iraqi government.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:02:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As per British law, when will these documents be made public ?
by balbuz on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 02:05:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally 30 years for mundane discussions. Something like this will be buried for 50. It's all part of ensuring we maitain an informed electorate able to come to effective decisions about the worth of their masters.{/snark}

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:39:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some secrets, particularly those related to spys or the royal family get buried for 100 years. I am sure  the scandals of Edward VII's reign will be published any year now. However they probably want to keep it an official secret indefinitely that the founders of MI5 and MI6 were quite mad.

Of course the historians revealed the truth decades ago, but that is no reason to release the documents ahead of due time.

by Gary J on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:50:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Serbia chairs Europe rights body

Serbia is to take over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe despite concerns that the country is abandoning attempts at political reform.

The council is Europe's leading body monitoring human rights and justice.

Serbia takes over the council's chairmanship as part of the normal rotation among its member nations.

On Wednesday, a hardline nationalist was elected to the powerful position of speaker of the Serbian parliament.

Serbia will chair the Committee of Ministers and issue a programme of priorities for its six month chairmanship.

But serious concerns have been raised about Serbia's suitability to take on the role.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:04:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German Minimum Wage Debate Exposes Deep Left-Right Divide | Business | Deutsche Welle | 11.05.2007
Unlike the US and many other EU countries, Germany has no statutory minimum wage, and debate has reignited over introducing one. One side says it's about social justice; the other calls it a job killer.

To some, it might seem that the jobs held by those uniformed individuals keeping watch at a company entrance are to be envied. They don't seem to involve much stress and leave a good amount of time for magazine reading. But the envy would likely stop when the pay stub arrived.

Security firm jobs might often be low key, but they usually also involve very low pay. In eastern Germany, security personnel can receive hourly wages as low as 3.70 euros ($5.02).

That kind of pay is what Michael Sommer, the head of Germany's DGB trade union federation, referred to when he addressed trade unionists on May 1 and talked about millions of German workers  in the restaurant and hotel industry among others eking out a living on "starvation wages." He demanded that Germany introduce a statutory minimum wage of 7.50 euros ($10) per hour.

[...]

Traditionally, wages in Germany are set according to industry-wide collective bargaining agreements and detailed rules determine what kind of work receives what kind of pay. Because of the strength of trade unions in Germany, wage settlements were generally pretty favorable to workers.

[...]

"That has acted as a kind of virtual minimum wage," said Joachim Ragnatz, an economist at the Halle Institute for Economic Research.

But more and more holes have developed in that system. Welfare benefits have been cut back. Unions have lost clout and some sectors, especially in the service industry, have opted out of collective bargaining agreements.

This is probably the best thumbnail description of this issue that you could ever hope to find.

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 May 11th, 2007 at 03:34:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Breaking news : the Canard Enchaîné is being pequisitioned, as the ClearStream scandal inquiry advances.

It correlates with the IGS (police's polices) arresting the cop responsible with breaking the story of RG's inquiry on Segolène's advisor Bruno Rebelle :
Sarkozy is going back at those that hurt him during the campaign.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For now building still locked:

http://fr.news.yahoo.com/11052007/290/le-canard-enchaine-refuse-une-perquisition-liee-a-clearstream. html

For more about this incredible clearstream stuff, Denis Robert blog:

http://ladominationdumonde.blogspot.com/

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:41:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminiscing about the future...
Mr Sarkozy then had some uncomfortable moments as the association's president, Gavin O'Reilly, raised what he said were deeply held concerns about press freedom in France.

"Your country and your administration have been severely criticised internationally for an alleged unwillingness to forego control and influence over the media," Mr O'Reilly said.

He asked why the French state was accused of creating an atmosphere of self-censorship and fear in the press, why the government and industrial groups linked to it had been taking control of the media, especially TV channels and why local media were coming under similar control.

Migeru's News Distortion™ Technology


Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:49:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/societe/253150.FR.php


Le juge Thomas Cassuto a quitté les locaux du journal satirique français sans effectuer la perquisition qu'il souhaitait mener * Arrivé vendredi matin devant le Canard, il cherchait à savoir qui a informé l'hebomadaire sur l'affaire Clearstream.

[...]

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I expect in any case that they would not find anything over there. Le Canard enchainé has long been a target (remember the "plombiers" in the 70s) and hide their docs pretty well.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it easier to do it the American way ? Just have big media groups in bed with advertisers who both overwhelmingly support the ruling party and employ journalists who can be relied upon to deliver good news on demand.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Le Canard Enchainé know a little something about independence: they are employee owned, take NO advertising whatsoever, and rely only on subscriptions and sales.

And, strangely enough, they are the most profitable paper in France - probably in the world  in terms of relative profitability, and they are sitting on absolutely humongous financial reserves, as they never distribute any profits.

The secret: exceptional investigative journalism - as well as excellent cartoonists.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:32:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:37:47 AM EST
Some leeway for Wolfowitz, who gets a good word from Rice - International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON: Bowing to pressure from the Bush administration, the World Bank board agreed Wednesday to give Paul Wolfowitz, the bank's president, slightly more time to defend himself against charges of misconduct before the board decides his future.

In a development that might help Wolfowitz's fight to remain as bank president, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has lobbied European foreign ministers in the last two weeks, expressing support for him.

"She has spoken with several European foreign ministers about her positive impressions of Paul and the job he's doing at the World Bank," Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said in an interview on Wednesday when asked whether Rice had become involved in supporting Wolfowitz.

Despite Rice's efforts and the board's decision to give Wolfowitz more time, bank officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential, said they saw no indication that the board was any less determined to oust him from the presidency.

Wolfowitz was given until Friday evening -- two additional days -- to make his case in writing to the board, and it was expected that he would appear before the board as early as Monday. The board is to vote on whether he deserves a reprimand, a vote of no confidence or outright removal.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:45:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europeans Press Wolfowitz to Quit as Bank Chief - New York Times

WASHINGTON, May 10 -- European leaders have told the Bush administration that Paul D. Wolfowitz must resign as president of the World Bank in order to avoid a vote next week by the bank's board declaring that he no longer has its confidence to function as the bank's leader, European officials said Thursday.

The officials said the board was drafting a resolution reflecting its view that the relationship between Mr. Wolfowitz and the governing body of the bank had "broken beyond repair." They noted that, if he remained in office, some European countries were planning to reduce contributions to the World Bank that would aid poor countries and instead would channel the money to European agencies and other groups for distribution.

"The administration has been told that its battle to save Wolfowitz cannot be won," said a European official, who like others who discussed the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is confidential. "His relationship with the board is not only damaged. It is broken."

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:57:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A reasonable assessment would view lack of either a resignation or replacement before Tuesday as ignoring the WB's needs. The Bank has given clear notice of its intent, and Georgie will lose his capacity to choose. This is sufficient reason for a commonsensical man to act, but this administration is not noted for commonsense, and is distracted by multiple concurrent events, some of them more threatening than Wolfowitz's judgment.

Though this is the last Friday before the axe falls, and the predisposition of PR-driven politics for the Friday Dump makes today a candidate for a gala occasion, it seems more likely the WB will get a chance to show its resolve/backbone.

by afox (afox at rockgardener dott com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:03:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush will go down in history as the guy who single-handedly destroyed (irreparably weakened) every single instrument of US "soft" power projection put in place after WWII: the UNSC, the IMF and World Bank, NATO...

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:07:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, he will regard these as positive achievements. Soft power is for girls and the US ain't nobody's girlfriend.

As per Jerome, I find the fact that both Obama and Clinton share with Bush a mindset about the means and objectives of the aggressive assertion of military power to be saddening and worrying. It means that they will also inherit the establishment of the Unitary Executive as a given, rather than as something abhorrent to the US constitution and which requires legal dismantling and constitutional prevention.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 08:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Top Stories
  • Tony Blair announced his resignation as Prime Minister effective June 27. The Labour Party is expected to elect Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as his successor. "He will always be defined by the war he started, not the conflict he ended."

  • Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the House Judiciary Committee. He tried to explain Sen. Pete Domenici's role in David Iglesias's firing, blame others or the less-than "rigorous" process, and explain that basically the U.S. attorneys were fired by a "bunch of people who didn't know that's what they were doing".

USA
  • The House rejected, by a 171-255 vote, "a proposal by the House's most liberal Democrats to withdraw rapidly from Iraq." "This is proof the U.S. Congress is catching up to where the American people are," said Rep. James McGovern (D-MA). Later, the House approved, by a 221-205 vote, funding the Iraq occupation through September 30, but with withholding most of the funds until "Bush reports on the war's progress in July".

  • The dry drunk George W. Bush was "sobered" by the visit that 11 Congressional Republicans made to the White House. They were there trying to save the Republican Party from ruin. Meanwhile, White House aides, Dan Meyer and Karl Rove, "lashed out" at Illinois Republican Reps. Ray LaHood and Mark Kirk for speaking to the press about the meeting. "The White House is not happy." That'll learn 'em.

  • Not to be outdone, DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) "boiled over in frustration" at the DNC "recently for touting its role in defeating former Sen. Conrad Burns". Um Chuck, the DSCC and DNC are supposed to be on the same team. What's more important? Winning elections, or winning credit?

  • Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) suggested there was 'no sense of cooperation from the president on the issue of drawing down the U.S. military presence in Iraq.'

  • Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz testified that he watched his squad leader, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, "kill five Iraqis who were trying to surrender and then told his men to lie about the killings" in Haditha, Iraq.

  • Dick Cheney rejected former CIA director George Tenet's claim that the Bush administration "did not engage in serious debate before invading Iraq." "That's just not true... but the fact of the matter is this decision was weighed as heavily and given as careful consideration as any I've ever been involved in, and I've worked for four presidents." Oh, yeah one last item, Cheney told this to Fox News.

  • Paul Wolfowitz "told Pentagon investigators he enlisted the help of a World Bank employee with whom he had a 'close personal relationship' in 'activity supporting the war' in Iraq when he was deputy secretary of defense." Can you say Shaha Alia Riza? (Thanks teacherken.)

  • Someone at Minnesota's U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose's office has been smearing three of her former top managers and a human resources officer because they resigned in protest over her dictatorial management style.

  • Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, "said the committee would approve 'only prudent investments' in... 'high-risk, immature programs'" like the European missile defense system. Congress should eliminate, not just cut, funding for the missile shield pipedream.

  • Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), added language to a larger bill to constrain "any Army effort to seize property for the Piñon Canyon training-area expansion in southeastern Colorado." The Army wants "418,000 acres spanning six counties in order to triple the size of the Fort Carson".

  • "The Department of Veterans Affairs has habitually exaggerated the record of its medical system, inflating its achievements in ways that make it appear more successful than it is." Another good investigative study from McClatchy Newspapers.

  • Clean-up and recovery efforts are underway in tornado-devastated Greensburg, Kansas. A dog, trapped for 6 days under rubble, was rescued alive, but ran away as soon as freed.

  • A massive forest fire along the U.S.-Canadian border has closed Minnesota's Gunflint Trail.

Africa
  • Four U.S. oil workers were kidnapped in Nigeria's Niger Delta. "Armed men in speed boats seized the workers from a barge near an oil export terminal belonging to Chevron... Militants have now cut Nigerian oil production by almost a third."

  • The price of oil rose because of supply disruptions from the figthing in Nigeria and a shutdown of Nkossa field in the Republic of the Congo due to fire.

  • The North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo has 600,000 displaced people according to the United Nations. "The army and Rwandan mediators began negotiations" in January to bring "dissident Congolese army general" Laurent Nkunda, a Tutsis, into existing army brigades. The mixed brigades are now "hunting down Nkunda's enemies in... a Hutu-dominated Rwandan rebel movement based in eastern Congo" and are accused of killing, raping, and forcing civilians from their homes" by human rights observers.

Middle East
  • Kamal Labwani, a reformer and dissident, was sentenced by a Syrian court to 12 years in jail "for undermining national security after he visited" the United States to meet with officials in Washington in 2005.

  • The U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq has issued a "strict new order telling all employees to wear flak vests and helmets while in unprotected buildings or whenever they are outside."

South Asia
  • "At least 21 civilians, including six children, have been killed in US air strikes in Afghanistan, leading to angry protests among locals." Up to 38 people may be dead and 20 wounded. The attacks came after American specials forces were attacked by 200 Taliban fighters.

  • Tasneem Khalil, a journalist for the Dhaka-based Daily Star newspaper, was jailed by Bangladesh's military-backed care-taker government. (See Mash's diary for more details.)

  • Pakistan completed the first section of a border fence aimed at "restricting" the Taliban from entering Afghanistan. Yeah, that will surely work.

  • "Islamic militants" affiliated with al Qaeda are "sponsoring poaching" in India's Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, to fund international terrorism. While the poachers mainly kill for rhino horn and elephant tusks, they go after anything they're asked to get.

Europe
  • The "undisclosed location" of French president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy turned out to be a "three-day luxury cruise in the Mediterranean" aboard a $3.5 million yacht owned by his billionaire friend, Vincent Bolloré, one of France's richest men. Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

  • Turkey's parliament passed a major constitutional amendment to allow the people, instead of the parliament, to elect their president. "The amendment was backed by 370 votes in the 550-seat assembly but must be signed by the current president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, to become law."

  • "The 30 worst polluting power plants in Europe produce 10 percent of the EU's CO2 emissions -- and 10 of them are in Germany." Germany was singled out for its "decision to continue building coal-fired power plants".

  • The Bank of England raised interest rates to their highest in six years. The rate moved from 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent, "the fourth quarter-point rise since August" and came after inflation in the UK reached 3.1 percent in March.

  • "The open-border policy under Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero is driving a Spanish economic and social revival... More than 11 percent of the country's 44 million residents are now foreign-born, one of the highest proportions in Europe. With hundreds of thousands more arriving each year, Spain could soon match the US rate of 12.9 percent."

Americas
  • "Members of an indigenous tribe from the Peruvian Amazon sued the oil giant Occidental Petroleum yesterday in California's superior court, alleging that the company knowingly put the health of the Achuar people at risk and damaged their habitat."

Asia-Pacific
  • After months of denials, China admitted their country was responsible for the melamine contaminated foodstuff. "The two companies illegally added melamine to the wheat gluten and rice protein in a bid to meet the contractual demand for the amount of protein in the products," China's quality-control agency said yesterday.

  • North and South Korean military officials approved plans for a "one-off run" of two passenger trains, one from each side, to travel 16 miles across the "heavily fortified border" on May 17th. This will be first train crossing in over 50 years.

  • South Korea began construction on a 20-megawatt solar power facility in Sinan "as part of its plan to diversify its energy sources and produce cleaner energy."

  • "More than 60 children and 14 adults were taken" to hospitals in Adelaide, Australia after sliding down a popular playground slide that was maliciously coated with poisonous sticky black herbicide.

  • In Sydney, Australia, plans were unveiled for a new 30,000 person suburb on existing farmland around Camden. The housing density target is 15 dwellings per hectare.

  • Wellington, New Zealand's 26-year-old 61-bus fleet will be replaced beginning in August.

  • Vehicles in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea are being powered by coconut oil instead of diesel.

Space
  • Astronomers have discovered an ancient star in our galaxy, nearly as old as the Universe. "It is currently a bloated red giant star, and nearing the end of its life." HE 1523 is such a dull name, how about renaming it the Methuselah Star?

By the numbers The link to this on the big orange.
by Magnifico on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:46:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotsman.com News - Entertainment - Movies - Film-maker Moore investigated over health trip to Cuba

FILM-MAKER Michael Moore is under investigation by the US Treasury Department for taking 9/11 rescue workers suffering from ill-health to Cuba for treatment.

The trip is featured in Moore's new documentary Sicko about the American private medical industry

and promises to take the health care industry to task in the way Moore confronted America's passion for guns in Bowling for Columbine and skewered Bush over his handling of the response to September 11 in Fahrenheit 9/11.

The US Treasury Department notified Moore that it was conducting a civil investigation for possible violations of the US trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba.

"This office has no record that a specific license was issued authorising you to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba," Dale Thompson, the Office of Foreign Assets Control chief of general investigations and field operations, wrote in a letter to Moore.

In February, Moore took about 10 sick workers from the Ground Zero rescue effort in Manhattan for treatment in Cuba according to a colleague.

Cuba, despite its economic difficulties and authoritarian government, operates an excellent free health care system for the entire population.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The European Tribune
New Delhi: Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav has conceded defeat in the UP Assembly elections as BSP has taken a huge lead and is all set to form the next government in the state.
The Congress party has hinted at offering outside support to Mayawati.

After two hours of counting, the BSP was leading in 154 of the 353 seats from which trends were available.

The Samajwadi Party was a distant second, ahead in 88 seats, followed by the BJP (63), Congress (23) and others (25).

The counting of votes got under way amid high security across Uttar Pradesh after seven phases of polling spread over a month.

Exit polls have placed Mayatwati's BSP as having a clear lead. For Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, this has been the toughest election ever, trying hard to retain his Muslim- Yadav votebank and ward off anti-incumbency.

According to the CNN-IBN-Indian Express-CSDS exit poll, the Western UP which sees a five-cornered fight is likely to be dominated by the BSP while Ruhelkhand is likely to see a neck-to-neck fight between the SP and the BSP.

BSP leads BJP and SP in triangular contest in the Doab region while Avadh is likely to be a straight fight between BSP and the SP.

BSP's elephant is likely to be way ahead of the others in the Bundelkhand region. SP versus BSP are likely to have a direct contest in the East.

n north-eastern UP, Samajwadi Party's cycle is likely to be way ahead of the BJP and the BSP. Based on these figures the UP assembly is likely to look like this: The BSP is likely to emerge as the single largest party with a tally of 152 to 168 seats; the SP is in second position with a likely tally of 99 to 111 seats; the BJP and its allies are likely to get 80 to 90 seats; Congress likely to finish with 25 to 33 seats and others are likely to get between 21 and 27 seats.

This is the most important political event in India this year - elections in her biggest state Uttar Pradesh which has population over 175 mln.
The results are good for ruling left-centre coalition UPA despite lacklustre performance by Sonia Gandhi's son Rahul Gandhi and Congress in these election - main result is archrival Mulayam is dethroned.

Maverick politician Mayawati already said her first decision in power will be to thrown Mulayam in jail on corruption charges. In this scenario the centre has some trump cards as Mayawati herself is under investigation of mammoth Taj Corridor scame case.

As information is flowing long term BSP and Congress alliance is becoming very likely.

by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:20:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, the link is should be like:
IBNLive: Mayawati leads BSP to power in UP Assembly.


by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:24:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:31:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rediff.com: Dalit queen, now brahmin messiah
Bhaujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is the most intriguing character in the battle unfolding in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
In the past, slogans like 'Brahmins, traders and the warrior caste should be kicked' used to be the mantra of electoral success when Kanshi Ram, her mentor and the founder of BSP, took his movement to the economically poor and socially condemned Dalits, who were in search of a leader and a political party.
Thirty years on, BSP politics has gifted Mayawati a unique political situation.
In UP, Mayawati, as everyone knows and as the successive elections results have proved, has undisputed hold over the Dalit votes.
In the last election in UP, she secured 98 seats out of 403 seats with 23 per cent of the vote share.
In UP, Dalits constitute around 21 per cent of the electorate and it stands to her credit that she is able to transfer her share of votes to any candidate or party she chooses and that too at her price.
As a result, paradoxically, she is able to give nominations to non-Dalit candidates.
Mayawati is so confident about the loyalty of her 'vote bank' that in public meetings she has accepted that she takes money from Thakur-Brahmin candidates to run her party.
In the last elections in UP in 2002, she gave a big chunk of the BSP tickets to Thakurs. But Thakurs who got elected on BSP tickets were uncomfortable with 'Dalit politcs' and they deserted her and her party.
This time, too, under the influence of her advisor and party leader Satish Mishra, Mayawati has created history. (Mishra helps her in legal matters related to the 'Taj Corridor Case' in which Mayawati is implicated).
For the first time, she has given tickets to 89 Brahmins. This may seem audacious. It is indeed unprecedented in the caste-ridden society where social prejudices and identities are at the very core of political action-reactions.
An interesting scenario is opening in the coming UP election. Mayawati needs the undivided votes of Brahmins to make a significant impact in UP while her arch rival, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is counting on Muslims voting en masse in his favour to add to his loyal constituency of Yadavs.
Mayawati has 'transferable votes' -- unlike even Sonia Gandhi. The Congress president enjoys a good image and the admiration of the people but as was proven in the last few elections, her charisma simply doesn't translate into votes at the end of the day. Least of all, Sonia Gandhi is unable to help political allies of her Congress party win elections.
Behanji, as she is known amongst her cadres, Mayawati is a one-woman-army leading the BSP. She has this time found a new slogan: 'Brahmin will blow the bugle and the elephant [BSP's symbol] will make progress'.
...
She has indeed bargained hard and profitably.
She openly asked upper caste candidates, 'I have votes, what can you offer me?'
She doesn't care for niceties and sophistication. She is openly contemptuous of middle class sensitivities over issues like corruption.
She thinks quickly, changes tack quickly, and is mindful only that the Dalits are still backing her.
Her big drawback is that she has formed the government twice in the past with the help of Bhartiya Janata Party. Her credibility on issues like secularism, corruption, democratic norms and the constitutional rights of backward classes is not inspiring.
Mayawati is a doer and if she decides to act on law and order or other issues, she can get things done. However, Yadavs and Kurmis dub her 'dictatorial' in her behavior while other backward castes like Kushwaha, Mauryas, Bhar, Nai and Dhobis who are little above Dalits in the social structure have been dissatisfied with her because she is not strongly fighting for quotas and reservations for them.
If she indeed succeeds in forming the government in Lucknow in mid-May with a combination of Dalit and Brahmin votes, the biggest loser will be the BJP.
And, it stands to reason when she says that Mulayam can only win the forthcoming election with clandestine, tactical help from the BJP.

Is Mayawati Indian answer to Ms Segolene Royal? Maverick Indian politician known for her intemperance, arrogance and unpredictability is of course cannot be compared directly given their respective resumes. Mayawati was embroiled in many corruption scandals, it's doubtful she has any ideas about socialism or Karl Marx and Rosa Luxembourg. But she has hostile press, her campaign is rather modest without any gimmicks and celebrities, just meetings with people and talking and talking. No Indian politician can survive reading prepared speeches - no one seems to carry any notes. This is the reason why Indian politicians are immune to attacks in media, media is at large not relevant here and biased pollsters as well. Nobody predicted Sonia Gandhi's victory in 2004 and this time with Mayawati was no exception.
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent catch. Thank you

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still no reaction. Probably this is wrong site to discuss anything beyond your borders.
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:36:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But she has hostile press, her campaign is rather modest without any gimmicks and celebrities, just meetings with people and talking and talking. No Indian politician can survive reading prepared speeches - no one seems to carry any notes. This is the reason why Indian politicians are immune to attacks in media, media is at large not relevant here and biased pollsters as well.

You have pointed this out before. What I want to know is, what fraction of the nearly 200M people of Uttar Pradesh has she met, or have seen her at a rally, and how do the rest decide who to vote for?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:39:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not count. Indian politicians make lots of meetings then from time to time embark on yatras to highlight misdeeds of incumbent government. Anyone want to listen is coming and rallies and road shows are very well attended. Curiously good show does not necessarily turn into votes - prince charming Rahul Gandhi shows were very good but failed to impress voters.
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I am questioning is anyone's ability to have direct contact sith more than a tiny fraction of the voters of Uttar Pradesh. So, then, do people propagate their impressions by word of mouth? Why don't people trust what they hear on the radio or seeon TV or read on the papers? How many people get their political information from the radio, TV, or press? Do people vote as they are told by community leaders? Are there patron/client relations at play, especially in rural areas? How does caste influence things? For instance, there are the following bits in the text you quote:
In UP, Mayawati, as everyone knows and as the successive elections results have proved, has undisputed hold over the Dalit votes.

...

Mayawati is so confident about the loyalty of her 'vote bank' that in public meetings she has accepted that she takes money from Thakur-Brahmin candidates to run her party. In the last elections in UP in 2002, she gave a big chunk of the BSP tickets to Thakurs. But Thakurs who got elected on BSP tickets were uncomfortable with 'Dalit politcs' and they deserted her and her party.

...

For the first time, she has given tickets to 89 Brahmins. This may seem audacious. It is indeed unprecedented in the caste-ridden society where social prejudices and identities are at the very core of political action-reactions.

...

She doesn't care for niceties and sophistication. She is openly contemptuous of middle class sensitivities over issues like corruption.

Patron/client, caste and religious relations seem to play a huge role which repels the western "liberal democracy" sensitivity. Now, I think to some extent there is a mythology of "clean politics" in "liberal democracies" which hides the fact that patronage is alive and kicking in the business world and among the elite and, as long as that is kept hidden from the middle class, the "fair play" mythology can be used to defuse the threat of the middle and low classes organising. Look at the lack of "shock" over Sarkozy's cozy relations with the largest capitalists in France. However, clientelism will be used by the mass media under the control of the elite to discredit candidates from the left.

I hope that makes sense.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:40:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the main difference between Western democracy and Indian is panchayat system where people chose few persons to rule small area and who elect next level functionaries. This is how party machines work too. Politicians of course come from different background, family connections and money play role but not always. India witnessed low-cast revolution in 1980-1990's and many new leaders with humble background come to fold. Why? Because they are election genies who can quickly communicate with diversed and divided electorate. People of course make they mind differently, sometimes somewhere goondas (local bandits) try to influence people preferences. In 2000's Election Commission of India has made tremendous work to ensure fair and transparent elections preventing any rigging. So mostly people decide themselves, often voting tactically to dislodge unpopular government.
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:58:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the next level uf administration up from the Panchayat?

By the way, I have suggested earlier (without knowing much in detail about either) that Switzerland and India should be studied as models of organisation to suggest ways in which the EU can better organise itself in the future. I would therefore greatly appreciate it if you could write a diary about the sociopolitical organisation of India (as far as it's possible to generalise local organisation across states), and how one gets from the Panchayat to the Federal level

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:09:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have many names you won't find in Wikipedia. By the way I have strong desire to rewrite a lot of Wiki's Indian history articles if I have time. But given my schedule I don't know when.
Generally it's just next groupings - cluster of villages, subdistricts, districts (talukas) and so on.
And of course I forget to say you - how people find information  about political parties and their programs - by word mouth, from political activists (party workers), sympathisers and of course press though biased information anyway sifted through lively discussions. It was always amazing to see how Indians are socially active comparing to Russia where civil society is simply in defunct state. When I was working as a social science researcher I started with gathering information through questionnairs and interaction with people. I met maybe thousands people and found how they feel lonely and eagerly telling about their worries to anybody who would listen to them. Long time nobody wanted to listen. And they resigned to their plight. Here everything is different and I believe Indian experience with democracy is exemplary and given rise of Asian giants in futute would be more attention to what is going on here.
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:32:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What would we say? I'm not sure who here follows Indian internal politics closely enough to comment - but we're glad to hear about it and learn.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what to say, not knowing much about Indian politics, but I am glad that you posted these here.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/05/canadians_must_.html

http://shrillblog.blogspot.com/2007_05_01_archive.html#3472566098434604895

Canadians Must be Dropping Dead by the Dozens


Find the dead Canadians, A Register-Guard Editorial Published: Thursday, May 10,
2007
: Here's a suggestion for a way to troubleshoot the U.S. Senate's
gutting of legislation that would have allowed consumers to purchase
prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized nations: Begin with a
dragnet for dead Canadians.


The bodies ought to be easy enough to find. With more than 33 million
residents exposed to prescription drugs that U.S. senators believe are too
dangerous to sell to Americans, Canadians must be dropping dead by the dozens
while waiting in line for hockey tickets. That's reason enough for Americans to
continue paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world.


Thank goodness, 49 safety-conscious members of the Senate on Monday had the
courage to keep the plague of dead Canadians from spreading south into the
American heartland.


OK, as far as anyone knows, no Canadians actually have died from taking
Canadian prescription drugs, many of which are made in the United States and
approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And the FDA acknowledges that it
can't find a single American who's been harmed by taking drugs purchased from
licensed Canadian pharmacies.


But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. Still, it seemed as if the
bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia
Snowe, R-Maine, took great pains to address safety concerns. ...


That wasn't enough for Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran, who added a
"poison pill" amendment...

The Cochran amendment wasn't really about ensuring the safety of imported
drugs. It was about protecting the profits of the powerful pharmaceutical
industry, one of the biggest contributors to political campaigns. Once again,
those contributions have paid off handsomely.

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:50:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice to know that American politicians still know who pays the bills. Makes you hopeful for healthcare amendments in 2009....not.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:35:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:38:06 AM EST
BBC NEWS | Magazine | A commute to inner peace
It's hard to find a way out of the trudge of the daily commute, but some are finding meditation can help. And, don't worry, the lotus position is not a must.

Crowded, noisy, smelly, boring. Those in the rat race put up with this on their daily commute to and from work.

We are spending longer - and crossing greater distances - than a decade ago. The UK tops the European league table for having the longest average commuting time at 45 minutes.

Former Speaker Lord Weatherill, who died this week, meditated daily
No wonder commuting is seen by many as the most stressful part of their day, an activity hardly leavened by Dan Brown's latest or a sudoku puzzle. But for some, having a regular slot away from the pressures of home and work allows them time out to meditate.

Amisha Bhavsar, 30, does precisely that. She works at the Inner Space meditation centre, run by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, in London's Covent Garden. As well as using the Tube to get to and from work, she uses public transport to travel around the city in the course of her working day.

"It's one thing offering people the opportunity to take a break from the working day when they come to us. But I've found that the quality of my experience at work is largely being set by my state of mind during the journey from home to my desk," she says.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Magazine | How do you 'go' in space?
A tour of a space facility in the US apparently prompted Prince Philip to ask how astronauts deal with "natural functions" in space. So how exactly do they go to the toilet (or should that be the loo)?

It's all to do with air flow. On earth, in the West at least, your standard toilet is a water-flush affair, that takes waste and washes it down a pipe.

THE ANSWER Space toilets use air flow as water flushes have drawbacks in zero gravity Adult nappies are used on space walks and during take-off and landing
The lack of gravity on the shuttle and the space station mean a water-flush system is not an option. You don't need a particularly vivid imagination to see the potential problems.

Instead, on the shuttle, urine and faeces are carried away by rapid flow of air.

The unisex toilet resembles a conventional loo, but with straps over the feet and bars over the thighs to make sure that the astronauts don't drift off mid-go. The seat is designed so the astronaut's bottom can be perfectly flush to make a good seal.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt and Germany Fight over Nefertiti: Beauty of the Nile Trapped on the Spree - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

The diplomatic row between Germany and Egypt over the 2,400-year-old bust of the beautiful Queen Nefertiti is heating up. Berlin's refusal to allow her to travel is "unacceptable" says Cairo.

She may be 3,400-year-old foreigner, but she is still one of Berlin's best-known beauties. Her delicate features adorn posters all over town; there's an entire calendar devoted to her entrancing image; and thousands flock to the city's museum island each day just to catch a glimpse of her. Now, Egypt wants her back.

Queen Nefertiti's bust has been the jewel of the Berlin museum system since it was first put on display in 1923 -- and the German capital is unwilling to part with the temptress. Last month, when Egyptian authorities asked to borrow the sculpture for three months, German authorities turned them down, saying the sculpture was too fragile to travel. The response was immediate -- and outraged.

"We will make the lives of these museums miserable," Zahi Hawass, the flamboyant director of the Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, threatened in April. "It will be a scientific war."

Hawass stepped up his campaign last week, asking five other museums in Germany, Great Britain, France and the US to loan iconic Egyptian artifacts -- including the British Museum's Rosetta Stone and the Zodiac in the Louvre -- for the opening of Egypt's National Museum in 2011.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This issue really has me divided against myself.

On the one hand, I do understand countries' desire to get their looted ancient artifacts back.  But on the other hand, Zahi Hawass is such a megalomaniac and petty tyrant -- who runs Egypt's antiquities council like his own personal fiefdom and never saw a television camera he didn't like (unless it was pointed away from him) -- that I have trouble wishing him success in this.  His strongarm tactics are well-known in the field of Egyptology, and honestly this extortionate behavior is not just unseemly but unprofessional.

I also don't believe for a second that he would give those "borrowed" antiquities back.  Which then brings us back to the issue of "borrowing" something that's rightfully yours....

Gah.  It would be so much easier if I either thought Hawass was wrong... or if I knew less about him.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every time I've seen a documentary in recent years on Egyptian archeological digs, Hawass hogs the limelight. It's obvious the team has to agree to film him advantageously (including shots of him riding off with the loot in the back of a pick-up) if they want to get permission to dig.

Of course that doesn't change the basic principle that Egyptian antiquities should be Egyptian, but he's a real horror show.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who would even question returning jews property that was looted during the war?

But of course we have plenty of questions about returning looted property to our former colonies.

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:46:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is that egyptology is a western science. The egyptians were massively disinterested in examining and understanding their heritage until recently. So to a certain extent I can sympathise with western museums that feel it was their work that made these finds significant and that therefore they have some professional and intellectual ownership of the artifacts.

In my own field of bellydance, we often find that the worst purveyors of fakelore are the egyptians themselves. Never, never, never ask an egyptian about the origins of any form of their dance or traditions. As Morocco, a US dancer who is the foremost authority on ME dance history, once said; "the egyptians seem to be be culturally disinclined to inquire into their own history."

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I see, it's the old "we sophisticated Westerners appreciate your cultural artifacts more than you lowly savages do" argument.  Very enlightened.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, slurs aside, it is hard to deny that the West made all the running on examining egyptian history, culture and artefacts. Until Nasser, the antiquities department were only interested in egyptology as a nationalistic project rather than as an intellectual inquiry.

Which is not to say that the Egyptians should not now have a say in examining and explaining their own history but, whilst they allow that egotistical slug to be a gatekeeper on the egyptian study of egypt, it is likely that the west's dominance of the subject will continue.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:34:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is an issue here of cultural continuity. After the Pharaohs came the Hellenistic civilisation, then the Romans, then Byzantium and then Islam, with the Caliphate at Damascus, then at Baghdad, then the Mamluks, and the Ottomans... The pyramids must have been rather alien to Islamic Egypt, and so they were to the West, but during the Enlightenment the West "invented" anthropology, ethnography, and archaeology and in the 19th century the intelligentsia was absolutely fascinated (see orientalism) with this kind of stuff.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:47:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The pyramids must have been rather alien to Islamic Egypt

Which islam do you mean ? The current increasingly fundamentalist egypt only has its roots in the Nasser revolution of 48, where the muslim brotherhood were invited into his government (they declined).

You only have to go on the streets of the poorer districts to see the truth that culturally the egyptians do not have austere traditions, they are largely a party people who love music and dancing (and drinking booze and smoking dope). So, if there is a disinclination towards intellectual examination of history, I don't think it comes from islam.

I have often suspected that the egyptians know that their history is pretty complicated with much that conflicts with islam and several points of disconnection with ancient egypt. Like most peoples they want to be proud of their country and so effect a cultural disinterest as there is a difference between knowing something and having to assimilate that and thinking something is possible but let's not look too closely.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean the Islam of the 7th century, already.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:11:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And given that Islam developed as a direct reaction against polytheism, and that a key episode in the life of the Prophet Muhammad was the return to Mecca and destruction of the idols around the Ka'aba, yes, it is a reasonable assumption that the polytheism of earlier Egyptian civilizations would not have sat easily with the newly Muslim Egyptians.

Perhaps it is a testament to the Egyptians' appreciation for their cultural heritage that the pharaonic mounments were not destroyed or defaced.  Well, not except by those who destroyed or damaged them in the act of stealing them, like for example the Champollion at tomb of Seti I.  I'm sure he was just showing his respect when he removed those walls.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there were Muslim rulers who attempted to destroy pharaonic monuments. Saladin's son, Sultan Othman, tried to take apart the smallest of the Gizeh pyramids in AD 1196/7, but gave up after eight months that produced this:



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

by DoDo on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:28:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Taliban had modern artillery to destroy the buddhas of Bamyan, and the destruction was not total.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:32:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also the Sphynx:
The one-meter-wide nose on the face is missing. A legend that the nose was broken off by a cannon ball fired by Napoléon's soldiers still survives, as do diverse variants indicting British troops, Mamluks, and others. However, sketches of the Sphinx by Frederick Lewis Norden made in 1737 and published in 1755 illustrate the Sphinx without a nose. The Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi, writing in the fifteenth century, attributes the vandalism to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi fanatic from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. In 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose. Al-Maqrizi describes the Sphinx as the "Nile talisman" on which the locals believed the cycle of inundation depended.


Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:36:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some context for that here.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mohammed was pretty tolerant of "the people of the book", allowing them to continue unmolested. He destroyed the idols at Mecca because they were part of a funtional religious polytheism that threatened the imposition of his vision of a singular God (it didn't help that they also were symbols of political opposition).

Generally, as I understand the wars of conquests, the muslims were far far too busy fighting each other's schisms to worry too much about artefacts and buildings that were obviously abandoned. By and large, so long as (non-Abrahammatic) peoples converted, everything was pretty much left alone. I'm pretty sure that Taliban are the only muslims to have destroyed a non-functional religious site.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:41:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally, as I understand the wars of conquests, the muslims were far far too busy fighting each other's schisms to worry too much about artefacts and buildings that were obviously abandoned. By and large, so long as (non-Abrahammatic) peoples converted, everything was pretty much left alone. I'm pretty sure that Taliban are the only muslims to have destroyed a non-functional religious site.

So how does that contradict the claim that they were "alien", and that there was no cultural continuity, or interest in systematically exploring them?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:45:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After the Pharaohs came the Hellenistic civilisation

Here are my Western blinders at work: "nos ancêtres les grècques". I omitted the Persians.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:47:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Hellenistic culture swamped Egypt as result of the invading Persians...
by Nomad on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I'd believe Guy Arnold's "Africa: A Modern History", it wasn't until Nasser that Egypt embraced full independence from colonial powers - which to my mind and my simplistic world view is a compulsory element to get growth of cultural pride started, coupled to the nationalism fledging under Nasser.

You can't grow the same level of intellectual inquiry in 50 years. It doesn't surprise me at all there is a certain aggression to the Egyptian's methods; there's a lot of catching up to do. Certainly when the historic intellectual inquiry of Europe was inevitably coupled to ruthless plunder.

We're back to colonialism/imperialism again. Sigh.

by Nomad on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:37:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So then we'd have to look at what the Egyptians under the Mameluks thought of the 2000-plus-year-old archaeological heritage (because culturally there was probably no trace left of the Pharaohs' civilisation).

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, there are still traces of the Pharaonic civilization in certain Egyptian customs and practices, including female circumcision. (Not that we want to encourage that particular tradition....)

And the Mamluks were mainly Turkish and Circassian.  So until the Free Officers, Egypt hadn't really been ruled by Egyptians since the Persian conquest in 353, unless you count the Fatimids, who were also technically outsiders....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, that should have been 343, and it's 343 BC, btw.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:09:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I certainly wouldn't disagree, indeed I would accept a certain aggression in official policy towards reclaiming intelectual copyright of their history on those very grounds. However, this is more about the ego of an individual than about egyptian ownership. He is as zealous about impeding other egyptian scholars as he is europeans

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:46:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where do you get this stuff?  Some people might deserve "a say" in their cultural heritage, but only if their motives are pure?

Perhaps "the West's head start" can be partly explained by the fact that Egypt was to varying degrees a colony, occupied by British troops, until 1952-53?  It's hard to be an archaeologist with someone standing on your head.

And for the record, Cairo University has been granting graduate degrees in Egyptology since well before Nasser, so it seems that somebody was interested in Egypt's cultural heritage before then.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 11:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where do you get this stuff?  Some people might deserve "a say" in their cultural heritage, but only if their motives are pure?

Oh, come on. I didn't mean that and you know it. My view is that the guy is doing this for egotistical purposes only and he represents as much a problem for other egyptian egyptologists as he does non-egyptians.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:01:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would concur with you on that point, but some of the other things you've said in this thread indicate that someone has perhaps fed you some culturally loaded half-truths and misinformation.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:16:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I'm glad that you accept that one of your misconceptions about my positions can be altered, but by and large I suspect that once you began to colour all of my statements based on this travesty;-

Oh, I see, it's the old "we sophisticated Westerners appreciate your cultural artifacts more than you lowly savages do" argument.

I was never going to be given the benefit of the doubt.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:56:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I might suggest that you go back and read your own comment again.  You have in this thread made a number of sweeping statements about an entire people, statements which, in the context of a discussion about colonial exploitation, are rather shocking, and I have yet to see any evidence that you understand what is so offensive about them.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:42:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if your opinion of me is as a racist imperialist running dog lackey, then I guess there's not a lot of point taking it further.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:50:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, Helen.  Never mind that whole "perhaps you might acknowledge that you have made some offensive statements" thing, what I really meant was clearly that you're a racist imperialist running dog lackey.  You read my mind.  And It's All My Fault.  I'm a big meanie.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egyptology contains an unhealthy dose of orientalism, too.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:21:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know as I'm not a historian and so somewhat removed from the internicine rivalries that litter and disfigure academic discourse..

That said, one of the biggest of Said's criticisms of Orientalism is that it takes an area as large as the Middle East and imposes a cultural homogeneity upon it, usually comprising extreme examples of exotica that are re-formed into a supposed norm. Unfortunately Said did much the same in reverse; imagining a "western" view that remains consistent across 3 centuries and two continents comprising many countries with differing interests and agenda.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that simplifies Said's view of Western Orientalism. Meanwhile, it leaves out an agenda Said named explicitely: imperialism. Orientalism was often the science to "know" the people to be ruled, and often the very act of defining the subjugated culture meant power over them -- by channeling the thinking of both coloniser and colonised.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:36:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anybody knows was she brought to Berlin legally? Otherwise German museum's case is very weak. Notwithstanding Zani Hawass bright personality looted artefacts should be returned to countries where they were stolen.
by FarEasterner on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:40:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the Egyptian official version:

The bust of Nefertiti was unearthed in 1912 by the German excavator Ludwig Borchardt, and is considered to be the most famous work of art from Ancient Egypt. Hawass says that Borchardt, anxious to preserve the bust for Germany, took advantage of the practice at the time of splitting the spoils of any new discovery between the Egyptian Antiquities Authority and the foreign mission concerned. In those days the law required discoveries to be brought to what was then the Antiquities Service, where a special committee supervised the distribution. Borchardt, who discovered the head at Tel Al-Amarna, did not declare the bust and hid it under less important objects. The Egyptian authorities failed to recognise its beauty and importance. According to Borchardt himself, he did not clean the bust but left it covered in mud when he took it to the Egyptian Museum for the usual division of spoils. The service, on that occasion, took the limestone statues of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and gave the head of Queen Nefertiti to the expedition because it was made of gypsum -- or so they thought.

There were those who said that Borchardt had disguised the head, covering it with a layer of gypsum to ensure that the committee would not see its beauty or realise that it was actually made of beautifully painted limestone. Whatever happened, the antiquities authorities did not learn about the bust until it was put on show in Berlin's Egyptian Museum in 1923, and had certainly never expressly agreed that this piece should be included in the German share of the Tel Al-Amarna finds.

Ever since the earliest days of cultural property legislation, the principle has been that the country of origin must expressly permit the export of every single national cultural treasure. With respect to the bust of Nefertiti, the Egyptian authorities did not give that permission.

To be taken with a grain of salt, as one takes the official version of everything in Egypt....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 10:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gulfnews: Weather makes life miserable from coast to coast in the US

New York: Nature's fury made life miserable from one end of the United States to the other, with people forced out of their homes by wildfires near both coasts and the Canadian border, and by major flooding in the Midwest.

And although the calendar still said spring, the first named storm of the year was whipping up surf on beaches along the southeastern coast.

However, it was not quite a day for the record books.

"It's a major flood," National Weather Service meteorologist Suzanne Fortin said on Wednesday of the flooding in Missouri.

"It won't be a record breaker, but it will be in the top three."

In southern Georgia, however, a three-week-old fire had become that state's biggest in five decades after charring 433 square kilometers of forest and swamp.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:38:25 AM EST
Sorry for that the Special Focus ended up at the end - I realised to late that "Blairs resignation" was worth a special section. But the end or the tail of history is maybe were he belongs anyway.

Nice day to all.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:14:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great work, Fran, and a nice day to you too.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 02:16:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thing Blair's resignation belongs in "Katsch".

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 02:42:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPECIAL FOCUS Blair Out
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:40:38 AM EST
Blair's Resignation: The End of the Tony Show - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

He made serious mistakes, and is one of the most controversial politicians of his generation -- but also one of the most successful. On Thursday British prime minister, Tony Blair, announced that he is to retire on June 27, just over 10 years after his 1997 landslide victory. His legacy to Great Britain will be immense.

AP

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie leave the Trimdon Labour club after announcing he will step down. The long wait is finally over: On Thursday British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his resignation as leader of the Labour Party, which will take effect on June 27. In doing so, he has launched a process that will also see him leave 10 Downing Street seven weeks from now. The most successful Labour Party leader ever, who won three elections in a row, first announced his decision to his cabinet on Thursday morning. He then flew to his constituency in County Durham in northern England, the heartland of the old workers' movement that gave rise to the Labour Party, a party Blair's New Labour has little or nothing in common with.

His Sedgefield constituency bears little resemblance to the area where he originally launched his political career in 1983 as a young London-based lawyer. Fifteen years of uninterrupted growth have left their mark -- with renovated schools, repaired streets and a new hospital -- on a region that had fallen victim to poverty and misery in the 1980s after the coal mines were closed.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:41:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair to step down as UK leader after June EU summit - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Tony Blair has announced he will step down as the UK prime minister on 27 June - just four days after he attends his last EU summit, following a ten year-term in office during which he has changed Britain's image in Europe.

Speaking to Labour party activists in his Sedgefield constituency on Thursday (10 May), Mr Blair said that a decade as the British leader had been "long enough" for both him and his country, BBC reported.

He stressed that while people might think he had been wrong on some occasions, he had always done what he thought "was right for our country. And I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future, and, you know, I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future," he added.

"The British are special - the world knows it, in our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth," Mr Blair concluded in his emotional speech.

The outgoing prime minister is expected on Friday (10 May) to support the current finance minister Gordon Brown as his successor at the Downing Street although the Scottish politician will have to formally win support by his party over two other candidates.
by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:42:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Legacy: Tony Blair, Prime Minister, 1997-2007 - Independent Online Edition > UK Politics

Tony Blair has apologised for his mistakes and admitted that his legacy in the eyes of many people will be dominated by Iraq when he stands down as Prime Minister on 27 June.

In an emotional and highly personal speech, Mr Blair insisted that he had done what he believed was "right for my country" and stopped short of saying sorry for the Iraq war.

But he struck his most conciliatory tone over Iraq, admitting the fierce "blowback" of global terrorism and conceding he would leave office with many Britons believing the Iraq invasion was wrong.

Loyal Blairites launched a campaign to pin the blame for the mistakes made after the conflict on the Bush administration, which rejected Britain's advice by abolishing the Iraqi army after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street communications director, and Baroness Morgan of Huyton, the former director of government relations, both criticised Donald Rumsfeld, the former US defence secretary, for the post-war decisions.

by Fran on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 12:43:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Blair insisted that he had done what he believed was "right for my country"

Only if you think your country was the USA. Where was our strategic interest in ousting Saddam ? We know this was a policy priority of Tony's even befroe bush got in. Only he believed that sucking up to the US to the extent of encouraging and abetting a needelss and foul distraction from the rightful search for justice against the perpetrators of 9-11 was in his coutry's interest. Nobody outside Westminster felt it was a good idea, it says a lot about the Parliamentary bubble that most MPs still insist that there was no credible evidence to suggest anything other than the various official lies and deceits were the truth when pretty much everybody who could read a newspaper knew otherwise. Even the right-wing tabloids derided powell's address to the UN, that's how much we knew.

Blair lied. In doing so he was not pursuing the country's agenda, or even the governments. He was following his own egotistical belief in his own saintliness. I am Tony, voted in as God's own vessel. I can do no wrong.

May his retirement coincide with a plague of boils on his backside.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:48:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Tony Blair: success or failure?

To start with a theme, the departing Prime Minister is Bliar, the mendacious, spin-obsessed, manipulating fraudster who lied to take us to war, undermined our independent civil service, took cash from the rich and rewarded them with peerages and favourable decisions, and suborned our politics.

This Blair is also, at best a naive, messianic prating fool when it comes to foreign entanglement, a US poodle, or at worst a war criminal who has done huge damage to international law and world peace.

At home he has been the ignorer of Parliament, the trampler on our ancient liberties, the CCTV and ASBO king, the grinning, malign Mary Poppins of the supernanny state.

Personally he is Phoney Tony, a vacuous actor with the Dome as his exemplifying monument, a freebooter, a lover of foreign trips to celebrity hideouts owned by other members of the Cool Britannia Delusionary Roadshow.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:11:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Murdoch giveth, Murdoch taketh away.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless this is rhetoric for entertainment's sake, it looks like the NewsCorpse job offer is off the table.

Not that there's much to disagree with there.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:18:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's just for entertainment value.
It falls to me to make the first moves in this on-page wrestling bout to contest whether the Blair premiership has been a glorious success or ignominious failure. So let me emerge from the unfashionable left-of-centre corner clutching an updated copy of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, in which Cyrano anticipates all the insulting epithets that may be or have been hurled at him on account of his unusually large hooter.


Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 06:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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