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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 18 June

by Fran Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:26:56 AM EST

On this date in history:

1178 - Five Canterbury monks see what was possibly the Giordano Bruno crater being formed. It is believed that the current oscillations of the moon's distance (on the order of metres) are a result of this collision.

More here and here


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by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:28:05 AM EST
Blair says referendum not needed on EU constitution - Independent Online Edition > UK Politics

Tony Blair has ruled out a referendum on a new treaty to reform the European Union as ministers prepare for intense negotiations ahead of next week's EU summit.

Mr Blair had pledged to hold a referendum on the planned EU constitution in 2004 before the document was rejected by voters in France and Holland.

Yesterday No 10 insisted that the agreement expected to be sealed next week would lead only to an "amending treaty" that did not need to be approved at the polls.

But the Conservatives insisted that major reform of the EU should be approved by a referendum.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will chair the summit, is pressing for a deal which preserves much of the changes in the constitutional treaty, which floundered two years ago.

But Mr Blair's spokesman insisted: "This treaty should be an amending treaty. Previous amending treaties have not required a referendum and we do not believe that this treaty should have the characteristics of a constitution."

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / In depth - EU citizens want referendum on treaty

Plans by Europe's leaders to push a reworked European Union constitution on to the statute book without further referendums are strongly opposed by European citizens, according to an exclusive FT/Harris opinion poll.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, will seek an outline agreement this week on a replacement for the EU constitution, shot down by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005.

But this time Ms Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, wants member states to ratify a new "simplified" treaty through national parliaments to avoid further public rejections.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU referendum possible, Hoon says | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics
Gordon Brown has not ruled out a British referendum on the new EU treaty being negotiated this week by leaders in Brussels, according to the Europe minister, Geoff Hoon.

On Friday, Downing Street tried to suggest a referendum was out of the question since Britain would never agree to any transfer of powers that justified such a move.

Mr Hoon is close to the incoming prime minister and his position may reflect a view in his circle that he should not be seen to be ruling out a referendum in advance. Speaking on the BBC, Mr Hoon said: "Clearly a judgment has got to be made in terms of what is in the final package. It is important not to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations, but equally we are trying to negotiate an amending treaty - a treaty that is consistent with the treaties that have, in the past, changed the way the European Union works."

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 01:00:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tony Blair has ruled out a referendum on a new treaty to reform the European Union as ministers prepare for intense negotiations ahead of next week's EU summit.

But of course he would.

Seriously, everyone is seeing through you Tony. You can drop the farce already, wasn't it for the fact that you single-handedly beat The Office for being more cringing hilarious. Please come up to the stage to collect your BAFTA.

Fran:

"This treaty should be an amending treaty. Previous amending treaties have not required a referendum and we do not believe that this treaty should have the characteristics of a constitution."

ROFL!!!!!!!!!!

by Nomad on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 03:28:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am inclined to think that Blair needs an amending punch right above where that silly grin emanates...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:06:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He would say that, wouldn't he?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:44:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Description of Selected News

BERLIN (AFP) -- Spain is prepared to compromise to find an institutional treaty for the European Union but expects Poland to do the same, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said after talks here on Friday.

"Spain is ready to have a more flexible position so that we can make progress," Zapatero said after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of next week's crucial EU summit in Brussels.

Zapatero warned that isolation was not an option for Poland, which is bitterly opposed to proposed changes to the voting mechanism for the 27-country bloc.

"The message that I wish to send to our Polish friends is that we need to look ahead. I am sure that no country wants to stay on the sidelines and that no country will stay on the sidelines," Zapatero said.

He was the first of a host of EU leaders to hold discussions with Merkel over a three-day period as Germany -- which currently holds the EU presidency -- seeks to remove obstacles to its goal of putting the bloc on the road towards a new treaty to replace the rejected draft constitution.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Zombie crops' funded by British taxpayers to 'get round' GM ban - Independent Online Edition > Lifestyle

"Zombie" GM crops - so called because farmers will have to pay biotech companies to bring seeds back from the dead - are being developed with British taxpayers' money.

The highly controversial development - part of a £3.4m EU research project - is bound to increase concerns about the modified crops and the devastating effect they could have on Third World farmers.

Environmentalists charge that it appears to be an attempt to get round a worldwide ban on a GM technology so abhorred that even Monsanto has said it will not use it.

The ban is on the so-called "terminator technology", which was designed to modify crops so that they produce only sterile seeds. This would force the 1.4 billion poor farmers who traditionally save seeds from one year's harvest to sow for the following one instead to buy new ones from biotech firms, swelling their profits but increasing poverty and hunger.

Since the ban was agreed under a UN treaty seven years ago, companies and pro-GM countries - including the United States and Britain - have pressed to have it overturned, so far without success. But the new technology promises to offer companies an even more profitable way of achieving dominance.

Zombie crops would also be engineered to produce sterile seed that could be brought back to life with the right treatment - almost certainly with a chemical sold by the company that markets the seed. Farmers would therefore have to pay out, not for new seeds, but to make the ones they saved viable.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:38:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair knew US had no post-war plan for Iraq | Politics | The Observer
Tony Blair agreed to commit British troops to battle in Iraq in the full knowledge that Washington had failed to make adequate preparations for the postwar reconstruction of the country.

In a devastating account of the chaotic preparations for the war, which comes as Blair enters his final full week in Downing Street, key No 10 aides and friends of Blair have revealed the Prime Minister repeatedly and unsuccessfully raised his concerns with the White House.

Article continues He also agreed to commit troops to the conflict even though President George Bush had personally said Britain could help 'some other way'.

The disclosures, in a two-part Channel 4 documentary about Blair's decade in Downing Street, will raise questions about Blair's public assurances at the time of the war in 2003 that he was satisfied with the post-war planning. In one of the most significant interviews in the programme, Peter Mandelson says that the Prime Minister knew the preparations were inadequate but said he was powerless to do more.

'Obviously more attention should have been paid to what happened after, to the planning and what we would do once Saddam had been toppled,' Mandelson tells The Observer's chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, who presents the documentary.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:39:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Unions grow uneasy with pace of reform

President Nicolas Sarkozy may have won a majority in yesterday's legislative elections, but he is far from winning his battle to reform France.

In particular, he will have to tread carefully with France's unions. Union membership may be low by European standards at 8 per cent, but the French passion for street protest gives organised labour far wider public support in the face of potentially unpopular reforms. This week the right of centre government will present a draft law to the powerful unions on minimum service in public transport in the event of strikes, the first in a series of economic and social reforms Mr Sarkozy is determined to push through this summer.

In the first weeks of his mandate Mr Sarkozy won a cautious welcome from union leaders with reassurances that they would be involved in shaping reform. But now signs of unease are beginning to emerge.

University unions called yesterday for a slowdown in plans to link next year's budget to reform of the country's stagnating third level education system. And 10 days ago three of the biggest general unions buried traditional differences to reproach the government for having barely consulted them on a draft law for tax-free overtime.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:45:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Union membership may be low by European standards at 8 per cent, but the French passion for street protest gives organised labour far wider public support in the face of potentially unpopular reforms.

No mention of pesky facts like the obligation by law for companies to recognize unions in companies in various ways, their formal role in the co-management (jointly with employers' representatives) of social security institutions, not to mention the constitutionally recognised right to go on strike.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:22:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Poland 'won't move' on EU treaty
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there were still serious problems with Poland over voting rights before crucial talks on a new EU treaty.

Germany, the current holder of the EU presidency, wants states to agree to a road map for a new constitution at next week's summit in Brussels.

Mr Kaczynski has threatened to veto any deal reducing Poland's voting rights.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said he backed Poland's position after meeting Mrs Merkel on Sunday.

Only the Czech Republic supports Poland on the issue.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:58:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German Leftists Launch United Political Party | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 16.06.2007
Members of a newly-formed German political party resulting from the merger of two left-wing groupings called for reviving the social state on Saturday, during their first conference.

The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which is the successor organization to the East German Communist party, and a group of disgruntled former Social Democrats and trade unionists, known as Electoral Alternative for Work and Justice (WASG), agreed on Saturday to name the new organization The Left.

They elected as co-chairmen Oskar Lafontaine, a former Social Democratic party leader and federal finance minister, and Lothar Bisky from the PDS.

"We are the only party which challenges the (capitalist) system," Lafontaine told delegates. "We want to reintroduce the social state."

Although the party's name is nominally new, traditions and rituals within Germany's Left party will stay the same. The Internationale -- the hymn of the worldwide workers' movement -- as well as the term comrade, with which Left party members still proudly address one another, betray the party's strong roots in the socialist ideology of the previous century.



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 Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 03:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU to restart aid to Palestinians  ||  BBC News

The EU's foreign policy chief has said it will resume direct economic aid to the Palestinian Authority in support of President Mahmoud Abbas's new cabinet.

Mr Abbas appointed an emergency cabinet excluding Islamists Hamas, who won the 2006 parliamentary election, after it seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Javier Solana said a part of the money would go directly to the government, but also that some would go to Gaza.

Not a lot of details on this yet.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Gazprom Faces Asset Sale Under EU's Energy Plan (WSJ)

TALLINN, Estonia -- The European Union's antitrust chief on Friday said Russian natural-gas monopoly OAO Gazprom would have to sell its distribution assets in Eastern Europe if a plan to overhaul the energy industry is approved.

Under the plan, which was unveiled in January, the EU would force energy companies to separate production and distribution units as a means of increasing competition.

"This also applies to Gazprom -- they cannot fulfill both roles," the EU's competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said. "Gazprom cannot own the distribution network of countries to which it supplies natural gas. They have to separate their activities."

(...)

Gazprom, which is majority owned by the Russian state, produces all its energy in Russia but owns several distribution companies in Eastern Europe, including 37% of Estonia's Eesti Gaas, 34% of Latvijas Gaze in Latvia and 37.1% of Lithuania's Lietuvos Dujos.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:57:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPECIAL FOCUS FRENCH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:30:18 AM EST
Sarkozy heads for big victory in parliament | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
French voters last night delivered a setback to Nicolas Sarkozy's hopes of a complete domination of the political scene. The rightwing president won a smaller than expected majority in the French national assembly, but still has a clear mandate for his sweeping economic reforms.

A surprise surge by the Socialists stemmed the conservative "tidal wave" predicted to totally dominate parliament and dealt Mr Sarkozy a severe blow by knocking out one of his most important senior ministers, Alain Juppé.

Article continues The emergence of a strong leftwing parliamentary opposition marked the first political hiccup for the reformist president who swept to power last month and has been basking in record popularity.

In the biggest embarrassment, Mr Juppé, who had been considered the third most important man in Mr Sarkozy's cabinet, was beaten by Socialists in his former fiefdom of Bordeaux. The former prime minister had been invited into the cabinet following a break from politics after his conviction in a party financing scandal. Mr Sarkozy had appointed him to head an environmental super-ministry. Last night Mr Juppé said he would resign.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:32:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is the Guardian putting a pro-Sarkozy headline? This is not a "big" victory in any sense. Sure, it's a victory. But a big one?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 01:44:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because Guardian = Labour = New Labour = Blair = Right Wing.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:36:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Monde website

FT paper version of the European edition (the vote is at the bottom of the first column in the UK edition)

And this in the WSJ:


Sarkozy's Bittersweet Win French Voters Hand UMP Muted Victory As Discord Emerges

PARIS -- A victory by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's party in parliamentary elections yesterday was overshadowed by signs of discord within his cabinet and the resignation of the government's second in command.

Mr. Sarkozy will have a supportive assembly for the next five years to back his goals to revive the French economy and reposition France as a central player in European affairs.

But the president's center-right UMP party won far less than the landslide majority pollsters had predicted, marking his first political setback since being elected last month. And, Alain Juppé a former prime minister and a senior minister in Mr. Sarkozy's cabinet, said he will step down as environment minister after he was defeated in the legislative vote.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to have to calculate the power index of the various proposals for vote weighing in the Council, just to shut up the Poles and their "Penrose square root rule".

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:44:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Blue tidal wave' held back as Royal splits from Hollande - Independent Online Edition > Europe

France was reeling last night from a double political shock. The defeated presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal announced that she had ended her 27-year relationship with the Socialist party leader, François Hollande.

The announcement came just after the French people rebuffed President Nicolas Sarkozy, denying him the landslide victory that he had confidently expected in the French parliamentary elections.

Mme Royal, 53, chose the end of the long French electoral season to confirm dramatically the persistent rumours of a rift in her long, unmarried relationship with M. Hollande. She said that she had "asked him to leave the home" and that she would be a candidate to replace him as the Socialist Party first secretary next year. The couple have four children, aged 15 to 24.

In a book to appear on Wednesday, Mme Royal will, in effect, confirm rumours that M. Hollande has been in a relationship with another woman. "I have asked François Hollande to leave the family home and to continue alone the romantic life, which will now be plastered all over the books and newspapers. I have wished him every happiness," Mme Royal says in the book, Corridors of a defeat, by Christine Courcol and Thierry Masure.

The announcement came just as M. Hollande and the Socialist Party were celebrating a relative triumph in the second round of the parliamentary elections.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:34:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note to Jerome: see how the Independent says Sarkozy was denied the landslide he sought while the Guardian says he won decisively. Which paper is more "left-leaning"?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:37:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

...and to continue alone the romantic life, which will now be plastered all over the books and newspapers.

She did not say "which will be", she said "as is already". Don't their journalists speak French?

The exact quote


"J'ai demandé à François Hollande de quitter le domicile, de vivre son histoire sentimentale de son côté, désormais étalée dans les livres et les journaux, et je lui ai souhaité d'être heureux.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She said that she had "asked him to leave the home" and that she would be a candidate to replace him as the Socialist Party first secretary next year.

Will she run against him, or just to replace him?

This is just what the PS needs, to give the press the chance to focus on the personal feuds instead of personality and policy when it comes to the PS leadership.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To the credit of all french politician (including UMP and right-wing politicians), even when bombarded by "journalists" with questions about the split, they all say it's private matter and not politics.

There will be a few headlines and books in the coming days, at that will be the end of it.

Something to be proud of in France, I hope it will last.

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:07:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but I expect that the media and pundit class will be violently "tested" on that front by the expected crises in the Nico-Cecilia couple...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:26:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This morning's Xavier Gorce cartoon, on target as always.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"as I'd like this to remain part of my private sphere"
"I'll speak only very briefly about my couple"

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:56:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
has said he would step down and not run again, so she won't run against him in any case.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / In depth - Sarkozy secures mandate for reform

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday night won a solid parliamentary majority to push through his reform agenda, in spite of a surprise rebound by France's opposition Socialists who had stoked last-minute fears of the government's tax-raising plans.

The ruling centre-right UMP and its allies had a re­duced majority, with 346 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, according to Interior Ministry figures. Even so, this is the first time a sitting government has been returned to office since 1978.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Socialist party and its allies performed far better in the second round than polls had forecast and increased their parliamentary representation to 231 seats.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:43:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French election cements control by Sarkozy - International Herald Tribune

PARIS: The conservative party of President Nicolas Sarkozy won a solid victory in parliamentary elections Sunday but failed to secure the rout of the left that polls had predicted.

In a sign that the left is alive and well in France, three polling institutes estimated that Sarkozy's governing Union for a Popular Movement and allies would win 318 to 323 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament. The polling groups projected that the Socialists would win 206 to 212 seats.

That outcome reflected a net gain of seats for the left and a net loss for the right. Sarkozy's party had 359 seats in the outgoing National Assembly, while the Socialists had 149.

In the most high-stakes contest, Alain Juppé - Sarkozy's head of a new high-profile mega-ministry for the environment, transportation and energy, and also the mayor of Bordeaux - lost to a Socialist. He announced that he would step down as minister, effectively the No. 2 position in the government, a humiliating setback for the Sarkozy government.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:52:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 01:42:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words:
  • UMP: -35
  • NC + MoDem (ex UDF): -3
  • PS: + 56
  • PCF: -3
  • Verts: +4
  • Who are the 14 "Divers" in the outgoing Assembly?
In addition, as was pointed out in yesterday's thread, the key here is the 3/5 threshold for constitutional amendment, which is at 347 seats. You need UMP, NC and MoDem to exceed that threshold.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need 3/5 of "Congrès", i.e. Parliament + Senate

The Senate is structurally rightwing, not sure if it's more than 60% rightwing, especially as I expect it has a lot of UDF Senators which haven't yet chosen between the MoDem and the "New Center"

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:52:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain you need 3/5 of each house, or 2/3 of the lower house. I assumed it must be similar in France.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The National Assembly and the Senate meet in a special Congress at Versailles. That's already a whole programme.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:45:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the breakdown as I see it for the moment:

  • National Assembly..577
  • Senate.................331
  • Total in Congress..908
  • 3/5 majority..........545

  • UMP deputies..324
  • UMP senators..155
  • UMP total........479
  • Shortfall.......545-479 = 66

Where could the UMP get allies?

  • Nouveau Centre deputies...........22
  • Right-wing senators from RDSE...8
  • Total....................................30
  • New shortfall..........66-30 = 36

There would remain a non-aligned ragbag of 7 senators, and, most of all, Centre-UDF senators, 32. Sarkozy would need to get 36 out of 39 on his side. Possible but not obvious. Even the 8 I counted from RDSE are mostly centrists who might not go his way.

In other words, I think Sarko's power to make amendments to the constitution has been fairly seriously weakened by yesterday's election.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 08:38:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, this seems to contradict the assertion that the Senate is "structurally right-leaning". The UMP has only 47% of the seats in the Senate.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 08:49:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UMP having an absolute majority in parliament is a new phenomenon ;  it used to be that the right wing was 2/3 - 1/3 RPR and UDF. There has always been a UDF-UMP majority in the senate, and it evolves very slowly.

Since it's a proportional indirect election though, the left wing always have a fair share of the senate, unlike in the parliament.

Also, the recent tendency is that after an election the RPR-UMP wouldn't give support to UDF members not rallied to the president's party ; thus in the Assemblée Nationale the deputies had a strong incentive to go to the UMP, whereas senators (with their 9 years mandate, some were elected in 1998... )didn't have this incentive and remained in the center right party.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 09:07:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much of Sarko's program depended on reforming the Constitution?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 08:50:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarko said so many things I don't know what his "programme" really was. I was thinking here more that there was, here, at least one significant breach in his (almost) across-the-board political powers. If he should wish to change the constitution for whatever reason, he'll probably need to be consensual about it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 09:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, one of his high-profile "promises" was to institute something akin to the State of the Union address, in which the President would address the Parlement and give an account of the year. Since the presence of the President in the Assembly would require an amendment to the Constitution, its a issue where Hollande was already taunting Sarkozy yesterday. He asked when they would make this change, clearly hoping to get this point accross.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 11:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The president can communicate to the assemblies following article 18:


Article 18
Le Président de la République communique avec les deux assemblées du Parlement par des messages qu'il fait lire et qui ne donnent lieu à aucun débat.
Hors session, le Parlement est réuni spécialement à cet effet.

I don't see a need to change the constitution to do what Nicolas Sarkozy promised here.

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 01:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Sarkozy wanted to address a joint session of the Congrès in person, and receive a standing ovation, and stuff. That, he can't do.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:01:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is exactly right -- he wants to appear "presidential" in that way. In any event, it was this promise that Hollande chose to raise on tv Sunda night as one that needed a modification of the constitution, clealry hoping the inexperienced Yada wold take the bait and promise a constitutional amendment that the left can now probably block.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RDSE is left wing (PRG), not right IIRC.

To count the right in senate you have to add UMP (155) and UC-UDF (33) giving 188 of the senate so 56.8% on the right.

I don't know how much of UC-UDF senators can be considered friends of MoDem but I suspect very few.

On the total congress, result for the right is very slightly above 3/5 but my guess is that it's useless because it would require too much discipline and not everyone loves Sarkozy on the right (and senators mostly don't care).

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 09:49:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Take a look at the Wikipédia link I gave with RDSE. It's a mixed bag. There's even a Villieriste.

I counted the Radicaux valoisiens as right of centre and likely (but not certain) to side with Sarkozy. It's not that I hate the Valoisiens, but I've never seen them side with the left.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 09:53:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By this account even most of the PS left can be counted on the right :).

But the main point is that UC-UDF is on the right, that's what gives the french senate its right-wing untouchable majority.

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 11:31:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, where would you place the Radicaux Valoisiens? (Serious answer, please ;))
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
couldn't resist.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:09:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of them hold positions in both right, and left governments, it's hard to tell. May be they just went together because a party with N members could get some advantage from the senate.

But the main omission from your account is still UC-UDF :).

by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 01:51:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not missing - I called it Centre-UDF. 32 members, in fact (see the Sénat page I linked to).

Just to not give in on the Radicaux Valoisiens in-a-phone-booth (:)), when was there a Radical Valoisien in a left government?

Anyway, the real point is that Sarko would have to get out his oars and row if he wanted a 3/5 majority of Congress for anything but a consensual amendment to the constitution.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Emmanuel at Ceteris Paribus has some counting:

http://ceteris-paribus.blogspot.com/2007/06/des-rvisions-qui-se-perdent.html


[...]
Comme le relève en passant Christophe Jakubyszyn, le seuil important est bien celui des trois cinquièmes des parlementaires réunis en Congrès, soit au plus 545 suffrages sur les 908 députés et sénateurs. La droite détient-elle aujourd'hui cette majorité? Il me semble que non.

L'UMP compte aujourd'hui 155 sénateurs et 313 députés élus sous son étiquette, soit 468 parlementaires. Pour reconstituer la majorité présidentielle, il semblerait logique d'y adjoindre les 9 députés divers droite, les 22 membres du Nouveau centre, et la très libérale députée du MPF. Nous voilà à 500. On peut à la limite y rajouter une partie des 32 membres du groupe UDF au Sénat. Mais cela ne permet pas d'arriver aux fameux trois cinquièmes, même en allant chercher les aiguilles droitières dans la petite meule de foin que constitue le groupe RDSE.
[...]

Same conclusion as ours, too fragile so Nicolas Sarkozy has likely lost that option from the left relative strengh in this last election.

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 06:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Final tally for women:

107 women (vs 76 previously)
61 from the left (out of 228 - 27%)
49 PS (out of 190 - 26%)
46 on the right(45 UMP)(out of 349 - 13%)

Better, but not great, and it shows that the ability to evade the parity law (which imposes 40% of candidates at least for each sex but can be circumvented by fines) is still high.


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:30:46 AM EST
A bloody epitaph to Blair's war - Independent Online Edition > Legal
he death of a hotel receptionist in British custody was first reported by the IoS. In the week that the Law Lords ruled that the Human Rights Act applies to Iraqis in British custody, Andrew Johnston reveals the shocking witness statements that shed new light on a dark chapter in an illegal war Published: 17 June 2007

Graphic and shocking new information - including a photograph showing his battered and bruised face - about the death of Baha Mousa, the Basra hotel receptionist killed in British military custody in September 2003, has emerged as scores of Iraqis prepare to sue the Ministry of Defence for alleged mistreatment in detention.

The dead man's father, Daoud Mousa al-Maliki, is bringing a case on his son's behalf in the next four weeks, following Wednesday's ruling by the Law Lords that the Human Rights Act applies to civilians arrested and detained by British forces in Iraq. Nine other cases are proceeding at the same time, and solicitors say another 30 are in the pipeline.

Not only do witness statements in the cases shed fresh light on Baha Mousa's death, but, taken together, they also suggest a pattern of abuse by British forces in southern Iraq during the period following the defeat of Saddam Hussein's forces. With Tony Blair's imminent departure from Downing Street, the Government will hope that it is no longer so closely associated with the unpopularity of the war and the questionable means used to prosecute it, especially if most British troops leave in the next few months. But the decision in the House of Lords raises the prospect that their conduct in Iraq will be aired in the courts for years to come.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | The end of the American dream?

The US economy has been generating strong economic growth over the past few years as it has come out of recession.

After growing at more than 3% a year in 2004 and 2005, the pace picked up to a blistering 5.6% annual rate in the first quarter of this year - although the pace has since then slipped back to 2.9%.

So far, though, little of that growth has translated into the hands of the average worker, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Click here for a graph of wages vs. productivity

For real household incomes, the median point - the level at which half of households earn more and half less - has actually fallen over the past five years.

The unprecedented split between growth and living standards is the defining economic agenda
Jared Bernstein, Economic Policy Institute

That marks a notable contrast with the 1990s, when the economic boom boosted both jobs and incomes.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:41:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Naomi Klein: Laboratory for a Fortressed World

Gaza in the hands of Hamas, with masked militants sitting in the president's chair; the West Bank on the edge; Israeli army camps hastily assembled in the Golan Heights; a spy satellite over Iran and Syria; war with Hezbollah a hair trigger away; a scandal-plagued political class facing a total loss of public faith.

At a glance, things aren't going well for Israel. But here's a puzzle: Why, in the midst of such chaos and carnage, is the Israeli economy booming like it's 1999, with a roaring stock market and growth rates nearing China's?

Thomas Friedman recently offered his theory in the New York Times. Israel "nurtures and rewards individual imagination," and so its people are constantly spawning ingenious high-tech start-ups--no matter what messes their politicians are making. After perusing class projects by students in engineering and computer science at Ben Gurion University, Friedman made one of his famous fake-sense pronouncements: Israel "had discovered oil." This oil, apparently, is located in the minds of Israel's "young innovators and venture capitalists," who are too busy making megadeals with Google to be held back by politics.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:41:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Democrats Press Plan to Reverse Energy Taxes - New York Times
WASHINGTON, June 16 -- Senate Democrats are seeking a major reversal of energy tax policies that would take billions of dollars in tax breaks and other benefits from the oil industry to underwrite renewable fuels.

The tax increases would reverse incentives passed as recently as three years ago to increase domestic exploration and production of oil and gas. The change reflects a shift from the Republican focus on expanding oil production to the Democratic concern about reducing global warming.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will take up a bill that would raise about $14 billion from oil companies over 10 years and would give about the same amount of money on new incentives for solar power, wind power, cellulosic ethanol and numerous other renewable energy sources. The bill is one of the signature issues this year for Democrats, along with immigration and the war in Iraq, and one in which they hope to clearly distinguish themselves from the Republicans.

But Senate Democrats are expected to go beyond the $14 billion in tax changes in the draft bill. Democratic officials said the committee is all but certain to adopt a proposal by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico that would raise $10 billion from companies that drill for oil and gas in federal waters but do not currently pay royalties to the government.

[...]

It is unclear how much President Bush or Republicans in Congress will fight the proposed tax shift. The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, has already endorsed the $14 billion package.

But the plan could easily founder because of opposition to any one of many hotly disputed provisions in the broader energy bill. Just last week, a threatened filibuster by Republicans forced Democrats to postpone a floor vote on requiring electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable fuels. The White House, meanwhile, has threatened to veto the bill if lawmakers do not drop a provision intended to prosecute what Democrats call "unconscionably excessive" gasoline prices.



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 Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 03:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's the energy, stupid!

this is great news, especially as it brings the incestuous relationship between the repugs and the 'old paradigm' energy policies, that give gigantic tax breaks to all the usual suspects, right into the foreground for millions of slowly awakening american voters to grok.

if energy isn't the top issue by next year i'll eat my hat...

healthcare, immigration, all less important than brackimg the energy nut.

first action, wind down the mindbogglingly wasteful and genocidal occupation of iraq, and substitute genuine aid for 'shlock and bore' destruction.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:49:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kidnapped Colombia senator 'alive'  ||  Al Jazeera English

A jailed rebel leader in Colombia, freed at the request of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has said that the kidnapped French-Colombian politician, Ingrid Betancourt, is alive and well.

Rodrigo Granda, the self-styled foreign minister of Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), told AFP that Betancourt was still in rebel hands but alive.

"Ingrid is not dead," he said on Saturday. "She is well in body and mind, but it is impossible to send further proof that she is alive because of military operations in the area."

Betancourt, a senator, was running for Colombia's presidency when Farc kidnapped her and a campaign aide on February 23, 2002.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:35:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
World most expensive cities
Moscow remains the world's most expensive city for expatriates with London close behind after rising three places due to the weakness of the dollar, an annual cost of living survey published today said.
...
Currency movements were the main factor driving multiple changes of position in the worldwide survey by leading human resources consultancy Mercer, which ranks 143 cities against each other with New York as the benchmark.
...
Seoul was the third-placed city, followed by Tokyo and Hong Kong, all down one from 2006. Copenhagen was up two in sixth place, Geneva unchanged in seventh, Osaka down two in eighth and Zurich and Oslo unchanged in ninth and 10 places respectively.

The survey measures the comparative costs of more than 200 items including rent, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

For example, the most expensive fast-food hamburger in a leading city is to be found in Copenhagen while the cheapest is in Beijing. Moscow serves the most expensive cup of coffee, with the cheapest being found in Buenos Aires.
...
New York, in 15th place, was the most expensive city in North America, followed by Los Angeles, down 13 in 42nd place. Miami fell 12 places to 51st, while San Francisco was down 20 in 54th place.
...


Maybe it's time to move to North America...
by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:01:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Moscow remains the world's most expensive city for expatriates

This is one of those surveys to help companies decide what to pay their overseas offices, and it is based on an idiosyncratic lifestyle. Nothing to do with the life of ordinary people.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the important word in the first sentence is "expatriates". It's a pretty narrow category of population, with, let's say, consumption patterns and "requirements" which may not be replicable for the whole population.

The price index does not include the price of spaghettis at the nearby grocery store, but includes that of the home-delivered gourmet lunch for 12 with waiter (I'm making this up, but it's probably close to reality) as well as the cost of private schools and the like.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:13:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever you call it, I call it extraordinary greed that engulfed developed world. Maybe Moscow is not part of developed world but I hate transit via Moscow - it's too expensive when bottle of water cost 70-120 rubles (2.5-5 doll), any snack has the same price and hotel room with common toilet and bath  goes for 3200 rubles (100 euros).

Just amazing greediness.

by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:21:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would be curious to know how they're defining "expatriates," as well.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 05:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times: The wars that oil the Pentagon's engine

Sixteen US gallons - more than 60 liters - of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis - either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes.

Multiply this figure by 162,000 American soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard US warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at about 13.25 million liters of oil: the daily petroleum tab for US combat operations in the Middle East war zone.

Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 4.9 billion liters: the estimated annual oil expenditure for US combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million - and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption.

The article goes on to suggest that the Pentagon might consume as much as 53,000,000 litres per day (340,000 barrels).

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The race for presidentship of US is heating up, rivals start to court ethnic communities and exchange blows.
India and the Indian American community has got caught in the crossfire between two top Democratic presidential hopefuls. Illinois Senator Barack Obama's campaign derided New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's ties to India and the Indian American community and labelled her the "Democrat from Punjab."

Obama's campaign staff circulated a three-page document criticising Mrs. Clinton, a tactic not unusual in American politics. She is leading Obama in most opinion polls.

The document's title - "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)'s Personal Financial and Political Ties to India" - is a reference to a joke the former first lady used at a fundraiser hosted by Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, at his Potomac, Maryland, home last year. Standing amid a sea of turbans, Mrs. Clinton joked, "I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily." Nearly $50,000 was raised at the event for Mrs. Clinton's re-election.
...
The Obama campaign notes that Mrs. Clinton, who is the founding co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, has been criticised by anti-offshoring groups for her vocal support of Indian business and unwillingness to protect American jobs.

"Bill Clinton has invested tens of thousands of dollars in an Indian bill payment company, while Hillary Clinton has taken tens of thousands from companies that outsource jobs to India. Workers who have been laid off in upstate New York might not think that her recent joke that she could be elected to the Senate seat in Punjab is that funny," the paper says.

by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 11:03:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Koirala tries to save Nepal monarchy.
Five days after the amendment in the interim constitution that authorises Nepal's Interim Parliament to abolish monarchy with a two-thirds majority if the King is found to be conspiring against the Constituent Assembly (CA) election, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has once again tried to save the monarchy in Nepal.

While talking to foreign journalists at his official residence in Baluwatar on Sunday, Koirala said that monarchy could be retained if King Gyanendra and Crown Prince Paras abdicate the throne before the upcoming CA polls scheduled in November.

However, Nepali Congress president Koirala said, "If King Gyanendra and his son do not give up the throne before the election the upcoming CA polls will mark an end of Nepal's monarchy," Kantipur Television, a private television channel, reported.

Koirala also added that it was up to the King whether to continue with monarchy in the country or not.

by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 11:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times: US gives Russia short shrift.
Moscow's smart diplomatic judo flip may have put the US in an unforgiving mood. It may harden further the US policy of "selective engagement" of Russia. The chill in US-Russia relations is set to deepen, as a number of critical factors begin to play out - Kosovo, the two secessionist regions in Georgia - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - and the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniestr. These are in addition to the entire US strategic posture eastward into Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia, apart from the intensifying struggle for control of hydrocarbon reserves and their transportation routes.
...
The Russian proposal was intended to improve Russia's image in Europe. It may even have targeted Euro-Atlantic solidarity. Equally, it was a gambit by the Kremlin grandmasters aimed at kick-starting a Russia-US political dialogue on a wide range of issues of international security.

Russia may have extracted propaganda mileage, but Washington is in no mood to allow Moscow to impose itself as an interlocutor on equal footing.
...
Washington believes Russia is too weak to compete with the US, let alone the Western alliance, in a new arms race. Also, Russia has hardly any bargaining chips. It doesn't even have an "Iran card" today. The Russian role in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Darfur or North Korea is minimal. Russia remains transfixed on "Westernism", at least under Putin, and in any case, there are inherent contradictions in the Russia-China relationship. Washington is also pursuing a differentiated policy toward China, which creates different priorities for Chinese policies, and, in turn, puts breaks on a Sino-Russian axis developing.
...
Besides, there is clarity in US thinking - and bipartisan consensus about the raison d'etre of the policy of "selective engagement" toward Russia. For Washington, the bottom line is that the US needs a strategic ABM system in Europe that can target Russia's Topol-M, Stilet and Satan missiles. And Washington is determined to have its way. Second, Washington doesn't want any Russian role in the development of the European ABM system.

Finally, Washington is adamant that ultimately and permanently, all the controls and information pertaining to its ABM systems will solely vest in US hands.
...
Washington has chosen to notify Moscow via the media that it intends to go ahead with the deployment of the elements of its ABM system in Poland and the Czech Republic, no matter what Putin proposes. Alongside this, the US is preparing a hard line on other issues affecting Eurasian security.
...
In short, if Moscow's intention was to secure a mutually reinforcing partnership in the United States' European ABM system, that is a non-starter. If, on the other hand, Moscow intended to outplay Washington in the propaganda stakes, its success has been worthless. Now, in the face of US insistence on deploying ABM systems in Europe, if Russia proceeds to reassign its missile targets to Europe, that would only make Europe "hostage" once again in the arms race between the US and Russia.

A phase of recrimination lies ahead...


That's true. Putin seemes to be Manilov from famous Gogol story "Dead Souls" if he still thinks he can strike a fair deal with Washington. In US there are no takers.
by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 11:34:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:31:04 AM EST
[Focus] How to cut your own CO2 emissions without changing your life - EUobserver.com
EUOBSERVER / CLIMATE TECHNOLOGY - While new measures and commitments on fighting global warming are taken at the political level and while scientists and innovators are researching new technology to lower greenhouse gas emissions, Europeans as individuals also have an important role to play.

By changing our habits a little and becoming more conscious of how much energy we use, each and every individual can successfully limit their own carbon footprint and - as an extra bonus - save a little money on energy bills.

"It does not have to be a life altering change," says Karim Harris from Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe - a group that works to prevent climate change and promote sustainable energy and environment policy in Europe - "it's just a question of changing bad habits."

She added that it is clear that individuals also have a role to play, particularly in Europe where people have for decades been living well while emitting carbon dioxide without a thought.
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:33:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Soya king changes face of pampas | World | The Observer
The ambition of Manuel Santos Uribelarrea is written in big black letters on the side of machines reaping the plains of South America: MSU. It is harvest time and the state-of-the-art behemoths bearing his initials have a mission to revolutionise agriculture, change the world's eating habits and make their owner very, very wealthy.

At 28, Santos is on his way to achieving those goals, making him a lord of the pampas, master of all he surveys, and one of Argentina's most eligible bachelors. His company owns more than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of farmland in Argentina and Uruguay, is expanding into Brazil and has plans for Ukraine.

Article continues The empire, however, is controversial - it is built on soya. Fast-expanding soya plantations are blamed for the destruction of forests across South America, posing an even graver threat than logging. The outcry has led to the tabling of a 'forestry emergency' bill in Argentina's lower house of congress. It would usher in a one-year moratorium on deforestation and oblige all 23 provinces to control and protect the region's biggest and most diverse eco-system outside Brazil.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wonder of nature under threat from illegal logging | World | The Observer
One of the world's greatest wildlife spectacles is under threat because environmental projects to protect the monarch butterfly are failing, a leading expert has warned.

The flight of clouds consisting of millions of the orange and black butterflies migrating thousands of miles across North America to the mountains of Mexico is considered one of the great natural wonders of the world.

Scientists have warned for years that the butterflies are under threat because genetically modified crops are destroying the weeds and flowers they feed on and lay eggs in, and illegal logging is decimating their winter habitat high in the Mexican mountains.

Article continues Professor Lincoln Brower, who has been studying the species for more than half a century, claims a Mexican government scheme to protect the forests where the butterflies spend the winter is failing. He will visit Britain later this month to draw attention to the problems he has observed. 'The illegal logging has not only accelerated; it has become a lot more intense, with dozens, up to hundreds, of people involved in big logging operations,' he told The Observer.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:41:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Greece bans pin-up billboards to stop distracted drivers crashing
Greece is mounting a nationwide effort to remove "eye candy" billboards from roadsides, amid growing evidence that images of women wearing not very much contribute to Europe's worst road accident figures.

With 15,000 hoardings in the capital alone, drivers are distracted by "unacceptable levels of eye candy", say campaigners who have convinced the courts to rule that all roadside adverts be dismantled.

Billboards invariably depict svelte females in outre poses. "Many of them not only hide traffic lights and road signs, they are put up illegally," said an Athens traffic police official.
"We believe they are the cause of 10% of all accidents in the city."

Driving in Greece is not for the faint-hearted. More than 2,000 people die on the roads annually; another 4,000 are seriously injured in 22,000 car accidents a year - one every 24 minutes.


by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:49:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The enigma of Italy's ancient Etruscans is finally unravelled | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
They gave us the word "person" and invented a symbol of iron rule later adopted by the fascists. Some even argue it was they who really moulded Roman civilisation.

Yet the Etruscans, whose descendants today live in central Italy, have long been among the great enigmas of antiquity. Their language, which has never properly been deciphered, was unlike any other in classical Italy. Their origins have been hotly debated by scholars for centuries.

Article continues Genetic research made public at the weekend appears to put the matter beyond doubt, however. It shows the Etruscans came from the area which is now Turkey - and that the nearest genetic relatives of many of today's Tuscans and Umbrians are to be found, not in Italy, but around Izmir.

The European Human Genetic Conference in Nice was told on Saturday the results of a study carried out in three parts of Tuscany: the Casentino valley, and two towns, Volterra and Murlo, where important finds have been made of Etruscan remains. In each area, researchers took DNA samples from men with surnames unique to the district and whose families had lived there for at least three generations.

by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:54:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The word person?

what is this?

Anyone cares (has the ability to) to explain me?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:12:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
person
c.1225, from O.Fr. persone "human being" (12c., Fr. personne), from L. persona "human being," originally "character in a drama, mask," possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu "mask." This may be related to Gk. Persephone. The use of -person to replace -man in compounds and avoid alleged sexist connotations is first recorded 1971 (in chairperson). Personify first recorded 1727. Personable "pleasing in one's person" is first attested c.1430. In person "by bodily presence" is from 1568. Person-to-person first recorded 1919, originally of telephone calls.
The reference to Persephone cannot possibly be correct, which makes me doubt the etymology, but what do I know. Another etymology I have heard for "persona = mask" is per-sonare, that is, "to sound through". May be a folk etymology.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hippyshopper: Don't feel eco-guilty about flying, say Britain's pilots
Airline pilots have challenged the "myth" that air transport is the major cause of carbon dioxide emissions.

Research published by the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) said people who attacked air travel used "half truths and untruths" and made passengers feel guilty about taking a flight. But Balpa claim that the aviation industry has done more than any other transport group to cut CO2.

Their research has found that emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides from planes have already been cut by 50% over the last 15 years. Road transport's CO2 emissions in the UK, however, have increased by 11 million tonnes. It also highlights that world air travel accounts for only 2% to 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions according to the International Panel on Climate Change.

...

It said: "While it is true that trains are less polluting than aircraft per passenger per kilometre, that is not true of long journeys over 800 kilometres and it is not true of the new generation of high speed trains in use on mainland Europe and soon to come to Britain."



Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:56:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It also highlights that world air travel accounts for only 2% to 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions according to the International Panel on Climate Change.

Only?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only, plus what BALPA is defending is rapid growth as per industry forecasts that are used to back up investment projects: growth which would double that 2% to 3% share of CO2 emissions by 2030.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 07:17:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BALPA is defending its members' job prospects. The question is whether their facts are correct, and whether their press releases cherrypick the report they commissioned.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 07:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 06:38:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:31:30 AM EST
After the great weekend in Paris it is back to business and work. I hope you all have a good week ahead of you.
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 12:55:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good morning Fran!  I didn't get home until 2am :(  I had a great time though and really enjoyed meeting so many of us.  Like you, it's back to work for me!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 04:03:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You had a long day - and it seems a short night. But glad to know you arrived home well.
by Fran on Mon Jun 18th, 2007 at 07:47:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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