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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 12 December

by Fran Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:10:54 PM EST

On this date in history:

1821 - Birth of Gustave Flaubert, a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style, best exemplified by his endless search for "le mot juste" ("the right word"). (d. 1880)

More here and here


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*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:11:26 PM EST
Financial Crisis Looms Over EU Leaders' Split on CO2 Reductions | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008
EU leaders began a first round of complex talks on how to obtain massive greenhouse-gas emission cuts by 2020. While some pressed for emergency action, the financial crisis stopped others from committing.

"This is the moment of truth for the climate," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said as he arrived in Brussels.

... "What we need, today, is leadership. ... We look for that leadership from the European Union," United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told delegates at a parallel UN conference on climate change in the Polish city of Poznan.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:19:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Opinion: Why Merkel's Climate About-Face Is Bad for Business - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

By Christian Schwägerl

The economy or the environment? That is the choice as Angela Merkel sees it -- and she has chosen the former. But the dichotomy is no longer valid, and Merkel's choice is a grave mistake. These days, one can have both the economy and the environment.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German Environment Minister: America is on a Better Path | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.12.2008
The European Union must pay special attention so as not to gamble away its leading position on climate protection, Geman Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told DW-WORLD.DE

If only his own chancellor would listen...


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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:19:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gabriel is wrong of course. At least if the goal is to protect the climate.
The EU should refuse to do ANYTHING further to protect the climate, unless most other countries to which our industries can potentially be outsourced agree on an international climate protection treaty. Currently exceptions e.g. on steel mills and concrete producers are helping the climate, not damaging it.

Gabriel repeatedly praised the US before, again in the linked interview. This proves his dumbness, and that the EU has gone too far wrt climate protection. Even he recognises changes in policies more than the policies itself. If this is reflected in international treaties, the EU will always have to make much stronger comittments than other blocks. This is not just unfair, but at some point the EU won't be able to fulfill stricter treaties, while others would have still room to go.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 04:32:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you could simply impose import duties on "carbon-rich" goods like steel and cement from countries that do nothing to tax carbon at home.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:49:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This would be a good idea, but one can have doubts if this is sufficient.

E.g. if we export steel to the US and China exports steel to the US, EU import duties won't do anything. Only if the economies, that take part in the treaty are much bigger than those outside the treaty, such import duties will force producers to comply with the rules.
And especially for some energy rich industrial products emerging markets are today even more important customers than the developed world. So only protecting the industries from competition in our own markets won't do the job. It maybe an option if everything else fails.

After all, I don't see any reason, why Europe should sacrifice political good will (e.g. abolishing WTO rules) and economic well being (e.g. due to devaluation of our experience and the capital bound in the factories) to pressure countries that will suffer much more through droughts and storms into climate protection. It is in their own interest and the strongest tool to convince is to say we won't act responsible, if you are not as well.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 11:57:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel and Tusk Meet, Agree on EU Climate Deal | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 09.12.2008
At a meeting in Warsaw, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Tusk said they made progress on a common position toward EU environmental goals. Both want more flexibility.

Gosh...


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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Agrees to Expand Use of Renewable Energy | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 09.12.2008
European Union delegates have laid the groundwork for new law that would boost the use of renewable energy sources to 20 percent of total consumption by the year 2020.

The deal agreed Tuesday, Dec. 9, in Brussels is part of a larger EU climate plan that also aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and reduce energy consumption by 20 percent over the next decade.

 

EU leaders will fine tune the total package on Thursday and Friday at a bloc-wide summit.

Yawn...


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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wave of Violence: Riots Throw Greece into Deep Democratic Crisis - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
A blonde-haired woman in her mid-thirties stands amidst the thick fog of tear gas and wafts of smoke rising from a few burning trash bags. She's wearing a pant suit and carries folders under her arms. She's talking to a young Black Bloc protester wearing a Quicksilver sweatshirt of the same color, Adidas tennis shoes and a Nike backpack. He's got stones in his hands.

The two seem enthusiastic as they chat to each other, smiling and cracking jokes. Perhaps they're related. At the same time, the mates of a rioter standing next to him are busy ripping apart the sidewalk. The woman says goodbye, kissing both of his cheeks, before gracefully tottering away. Then one of the rioters turns around, picks up a large rock and throws it down into the street where the police are standing.

It's the daily dose of anarchy in Athens, that entered into its fifth day on Wednesday.

The Greek riots are a textbook example of how deep a country can sink if it lacks democracy's most important element, the support and acceptance of its people. The scales of democracy have tipped here, and one inevitably gets the impression these days that there are few left who still trust the government to find the right path. Their experiences with its scandals, cronyism and corruption are too deeply seated. And it is in their unanimous rejection of the elite that both business people and the Black Bloc anarchists have found common ground.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A neat touch pointing to the consumerism inherent in youth expression that contradicts their expressed political philosophy. And yet it seemed unnecessarily dismissive, because the last paragraph really underlines the fact that the faultline in the political process lies elsewhere.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 04:59:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
????? Do you misread that woman with shopping bag as a rioter?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:19:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I took her to mean the kid's wearing of brand-name crap (the fact that it is just as likely to be fake fashion doesn't necessarily invalidate her point).

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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:30:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]

In Greece, Protests Echo European Students' Ire

Thousands of students were joined by striking workers in a fifth day of protests in Greece, an uprising that mirrors growing discontent among youths in many European countries over outdated education systems, lack of jobs and a general apprehension about the future.

From Rome to Berlin to Madrid, young people graduate from university much later than their peers in Northern Europe, the U.S. or U.K. When they do, they struggle to find long-term jobs with social-security benefits.

In Germany, many young people -- including large numbers of university graduates -- have struggled in recent years to find employment that pays a full wage. Instead, they have found themselves working as interns for no or low pay for long periods. German media have dubbed such economically insecure young people "Generation Intern."

In Spain, a generation of young people is entering the workplace with few benefits or protections, often moving between temporary contracts so that employers can avoid the country's onerous employment laws. The media have dubbed them "mileuristas" -- loosely, those who scrape by on a thousand euros a month. In Greece, this same group has been dubbed "Generation 600" -- referring to the country's national minimum wage of €600 (about $776) a month.

LOL In the UK and US you don't "struggle to find long-term jobs with social-security benefits" because these benefits don't even exist...

I find it fascinating that the consequences of Anglo Disease (inequality and precarity) are blamed on European rigidity...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:57:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown dismisses German attack on economy rescue plan - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

In a surprise attack, German finance minister Peer Steinbruck derided the headline 2.5 per cent cut in VAT announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling in the Pre-Budget Report while warning that a generation of taxpayers would be saddled with the debt.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, he described the Government's switch to a "crass Keynesianiam" to try to spend its way out of the economic crisis after years of preaching fiscal rectitude as "breathtaking".

But Mr Brown, who will head to Brussels later today for a major European Union summit, told London's LBC Radio: "Actually the German government is investing more. They have just announced a fiscal expansion so that they can invest in public works and helping their banks and doing these sorts of things.

"I do not really want to get involved in what is clearly internal German politics here, because they have a coalition in Germany with different political parties.

"The important thing is that almost every country around the world is doing what we have been doing."

Quite measured from Brown, in my eyes. (Most of the German media is focusing only on the headline.)


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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:20:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whither the 'Good Europeans'?: EU Ire with Germany Spills into the Open - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Berlin has shown an increased willingness in recent weeks to go it alone when it comes to questions facing Berlin and its partners in the European Union. Now, though, the dissent threatens to turn into outright hostility.

...Following the appearance on Wednesday of a Newsweek interview with German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück -- in which he picks apart Britain's recent sales tax (VAT) reduction -- Downing Street has hit back. Germany, a source close to the prime minister's office told the BBC, "was in a minority position and out of step with most other countries on how to deal with the looming recession."

...France has likewise played a major role in poisoning the relationship with Germany. "It used to be that whatever happened in the European Union, Germany and France discussed it first before going public with a proposal," Barysch said. "Now, they open up the newspaper in Berlin to learn that Sarkozy has sprung a new idea on them. They are constantly being put on the spot having to respond to proposals from Sarkozy. And they really don't like that."




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:21:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In yesterday's IHT:


A scientist by training, with a mastery of detail, Merkel is instinctively at odds with her energetic and mercurial French counterpart. "The Germans," said another diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, "hate the feeling that they wake up in the morning and have no idea what Sarkozy will do that day. They really hate it."

Who can blame them, seriosuly?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 03:03:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The Germans,.. hate the feeling that they wake up in the morning and have no idea what Sarkozy will do that day. They really hate it."

They are not the only ones...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 03:44:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
really... the man/rodent has 'loose cannon' written all over him. it's a miracle he hasn't caused more serious damage already.

still time for that.

here's hoping carla is busy exhausting him at night, (though i think her singing is probably pretty barbiturate!)

he and berlu are really making me question democracy, i mean it's the best system out of a bad menu of choices, i know, but without extensive education in critical thinking, it just leads to the rule of the ignorant by the cunning.

'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 Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:40:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet the german statement as reported in the UK focuses on the line that economies that were prudent with their economies do not want to subsidize for the consequences UK's regularotory weakness.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, by "headline" I actually meant the sub-headline:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown dismissed criticism of his economic rescue plan for the UK today as a matter of "internal German politics".

Depending on paper and journalist, this is either presented as a strong dismissal indicating worsening relations - or as an astute if pointed observation from abroad.

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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland under pressure to hold second EU poll - Europe, World - The Independent

Draft summit conclusions prepared before the summit begins this afternoon set out the likely way round last June's "no" vote - a re-run of the poll on the basis of new guarantees to convince voters that the Treaty does not undermine policies on abortion, neutrality and tax.

The draft conclusions make clear that EU leaders want the Treaty, which must be ratified by all 27 EU countries, to come into force by January 1 2010.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Report: EU Leaders to Set New Defence Agenda | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008

The leaders, in draft conclusions drawn up to be published Friday at the end of their two-day summit in Brussels, will express their willingness to give "new impetus to European security and defence policy."

The EU, they say, should be capable of deploying a total of 60,000 troops in 60 days for a major operation, while "simultaneously planning and conducting" 19 other missions, ranging from maritime surveillance to police training.

The text sets no target date, saying only that this should happen "in the years to come."




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:21:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good grief, what is it with these frustrated militarists ? didn't they get enough fun recreatng toy soldeir battles in their playpen ?

the european economies are falling through the floor, unemployment is rocketing, the climate is on the verge of collapse whilst we face critical resource shortages and all these fools can think about is who to invade.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:04:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think that the folks who want to do the invading are the same people who are out of jobs, living on the streets, etc?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 06:38:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Follow the money. "Defence and security" also means major infrastructure spending on new, hypersecure digital communications systems, civil defence and so on.

Plus, a 60k force requires not only weapons (or "weapon systems" as the kids say) but also transport capacity. And in the final analysis that means big orders for the Airbus A400M currently under development.

And if that's not enough, something that went across my desk this week indicated that in a few years, the only person wearing more electronic bling than your average 20-something will be your average 20-something infantryman.

These are $erious People doing $erious Business.

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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:10:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, of course.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 10:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Advertisement: Why pay retail?  | Bloomberg | 11 Dec 2008

Boeing Co., the second-biggest U.S. defense contractor, plans to offer cheaper weapons systems based on existing technology to counter potential Pentagon budget constraints under the Obama administration. ...

After rising more than 70 percent in the last eight years, U.S. defense outlays may slow because of spending on government stimulus programs and troop cutbacks in Iraq. President-elect Barack Obama wants to revive the economy with what may be the biggest public-works investment since the Interstate Highway System under President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. ...

Congress would be "willing to look at" low-cost alternatives "if it makes sense," Representative John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who heads the House Appropriations Committee panel on defense, told reporters in Washington yesterday. ...

U.S. weapons exports, an area of growth for Boeing, rose about 45 percent to $33.7 billion in the fiscal year ended in September, the highest total since 1993, as the Defense Department increased sales in the Middle East to improve security in the region.

Future weapons sales to U.S. allies may be tempered because "a lot of these countries have their economic boom driven by globalization, and they have seen some of that unwind," Albaugh said.




Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 08:38:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Luxembourg monarch muzzled over euthanasia - Europe, World - The Independent

Grand Duke Henri, ceremonial ruler of Luxembourg's 470,000 inhabitants, provoked an unprecedented crisis in the sedate territory two weeks ago when he refused to sign the law, apparently for reasons of conscience.

Henri is a devout Catholic. The hereditary monarch's powers are largely nominal but, under the Grand Duchy's constitution, no new legislation can come into force without royal assent. Until a fortnight ago, no member of the dynasty had ever challenged the parliamentary process.

A constitutional amendment approved by parliament yesterday limits the monarch to announcing decisions of parliament, in effect, muzzling the Grand Duke but the move has provoked a debate about the monarchy's future.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:22:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
President Traian Basescu designates Theodor Stolojan as future prime minister of Romania - Politics - HotNews.ro
Romanian President Traian Basescu announced on Wednesday he designated Theodor Stolojan, a leader of the Democratic-Liberal Party (PD-L), as future prime minister of the country. Stolojan is due to form a new government which then must be approved by the Parliament.

...Theodor Stolojan said for his part he would work for the next ten days with representatives with his party PD-L, with Social Democrats (PSD) and the Hungarian Democrats (UDMR). He presented the latter two as the two parties who showed interest in forming a coalition government with PD-L.

... But talks on a coalition majority were made difficult earlier this week by a PSD announcement tha the party would be ready for a government along with the PD-L, but excluding the UDMR.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:22:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The criminal files of the PSD/PC + PDL alliance - Politics - HotNews.ro
Social Democrats (PSD) and Democrat Liberals (PDL) gather a dozen high-level corruption files and tens of others all around the country. According to sources, four files are close to being sent to Court, probably next week. Among them, the file against Miron Mitrea, who would thus be prevented from participating in the future Government. HotNews.ro counted the main files and their status.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
14 'Islamic extremists' held in Belgium - Europe, World - The Independent

Police detained 14 suspected al-Qa'ida-linked extremists today in raids in Brussels and eastern Belgium, including one militant who allegedly was plotting a suicide attack.

The terror sweep came only hours before a European Union summit brought together the heads of 27 countries in Brussels, though the site of the purported attack was unclear. Nearly 250 police officers raided 16 locations in the capital and one in the eastern city of Liege overnight, confiscating computers, data storage equipment and a pistol.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:22:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy Postpones School Reform

The Italian rightwing government has partially backtracked this evening on its intent to radically overhaul the Italian educational system. After negotiations between the government and union representatives, the government agreed to accept guidelines and criticism by the competent parliamentary commissions as well as postpone the "Gelmini Reform" for one year for secondary schools and lyceums.  

The "reform" of  the primary school will be introduced as an option to the present system rather than as a top down overhaul with an eye on massive budget cuts.  The full 40 hour week with two principal teachers will remain a choice for parents. The contested decree 133, converted into law last month, had been ambiguous on this point when not outright illogical. While the law did not exclude full time it set a maximum limit of 24 hours per week for a single teacher. It was unclear how the remaining 16 hours would be filled. Minister Gelmini lightly remarked that the missing time could be handled by "English" and "Religion" teaching, the former most often far below par, the latter unwelcome by 35% of the population. Before the 1990 reform that introduced two teachers per class for full time, children were traditionally parked in the afternoon under the watchful eyes of janitors.

The real problem with the school of obligation is secondary school. It runs an extra year in comparison with other European systems while students fair poorly in all fields in comparison. Unfortunately Mariastella Gelmini at the behest of the Minister of Economy first attacked the primary school thus creating a very negative impression. The Italian elementary school is considered excellent by international standards. What little needs to be done in terms of waste and mismanagement concerns infrastructure and administration- certainly not the primary educational system per se. Conversely, secondary education is presently in shambles and does need a well thought out reform. To do so takes time as well as an ample and constructive debate by all concerned parties. This cannot be imposed by off-the-cuff decrees and confidence votes in parliament.

Perhaps the government has an eye on tomorrow's massive strike and are simply putting out a good card to feign altruism. If there are riots, it will be good excuse to take back their word. Given Berlusconi's precedents, it's not to be excluded.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:36:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks de G, for your usual high-pith-factor help in deciphering the murky code of italian politics.

'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 Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The general strike has been dampened by very bad weather throughout Italy. It is an emergency. Rome will be hit by a wave of mud this evening.I have never seen the Tiber so high. I suppose Berlusconi corrupted God to ruin the strike. God just got a little outta hand.

Otherwise it's Jesuit vengeance for Italy's evil ways.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 10:42:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Brussels urged to act over SNCF

The once-cosy world of European state-owned railways was given a jolt on Thursday as Italy revealed it had teamed up with Germany's Deutsche Bahn to press the European Commission to act against what they saw as unfair competition and fully liberalise national passenger markets.

Mauro Moretti, chief executive of Italy's state-owned Ferrovie dello Stato, made it clear that the Italian-German initiative was aimed primarily at France's SNCF, which he accused of unfair competition and obstruction. "This is our first action [against SNCF]," he told the Financial Times. "If there is not a positive answer we can consider other steps."

Their action follows raids by the French competition authorities last month against SNCF.

It said it would co-operate fully with the inquiries about the openness of the rail freight market, saying it was "playing the game fairly".

SNCF also rejected D Bahn's and Ferrovie's accusations, pointing out that since its rail freight market started deregulating in 2005, private competitors had taken 8 per cent of the market - a point it said took 10 years to be reached in Germany.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:23:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
:( entirely justified.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 05:00:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPECIAL FOCUS Global financial economic crisis

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:12:02 PM EST
President Medvedev: Russia may join OPEC - Regional Europe - HotNews.ro
"We must protect our interests, our income sources, be it about oil or natural gas", said Medvedev. "The measures may include reducing the oil production, participating in the existing oil producers organizations or the participation in a new organization. Our colleagues in the oil cartel asked us to coordinate our actions with theirs", the head of state said.

Russia and OPEC may take steps together, in order to push up the oil price. In 2007, OPEC supplied 43% of the global oil production, while Russia owned a 12.6% market segment.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:16:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is potentially a significant development.

For a more complete account:

Asia Times Online: Win-win opening for Russia and OPEC

snip:

Traditionally, fiercely independent Russia greatly values its freedom of action as a non-OPEC producer and has not wanted to be strong-armed into production cuts. As long as the price of oil remained elevated, these key producers (Russia and OPEC) could afford to go their own separate ways on production. Now that the situation is fundamentally changing, with oil's price collapsing, and with no lift in sight, OPEC and Russia are beginning to understand, albeit very reluctantly, how much they really need each other. That was the message of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's message to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev during the latter's visit at the end of November to OPEC member Venezuela - Russia and OPEC need to form a tandem on production and price, or else they're all headed for a catastrophe.

Russian leaders have apparently now figured out that Chavez is right - the pain just keeps increasing as the price of oil keeps falling. The mounting problems for Russia's currency, the drain on reserves, the capital flight and market instability are all tied directly or indirectly to the ongoing oil price crisis. The Russian budget requires an average of at least $75 for a barrel of oil this year and next year. Those prices certainly aren't in the cards unless producers quickly agree to work in tandem.


.
by Loefing on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 06:05:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Bailout Beat: German Auto Industry Seeks Government Help - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A day after the United States Congress passed a $14 billion (€10.7 billion) bailout of the American auto industry, carmakers in Germany are hoping to receive similar support, both from European governments and possibly from the US fund.

In an interview given to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, the president of the German Association of the Automobile Industry (VDA), Mattias Wissmann, pointed to competitive concerns in pleading for state aid for German auto manufacturers. Responding to the US bailout plan, Wissmann said "what's important for us is that all of those who produce in America -- not just American firms -- are treated the same way."




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Investing in America: Volkswagen Rolls the Dice on Tennessee - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Despite the crisis facing the industry, the German automaker hopes to boost its US sales with the help of a $1 billion (€762 million) investment in a Chattanooga factory that will produce midsize cars.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:17:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Volkswagen Law Takes Effect, Says German Ministry | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008

The amended legislation preserves the German state of Lower Saxony's blocking minority holding of 20 percent in Volkswagen, the biggest European carmaker, compared with a 25 percent stake needed in other German companies.

The law also stipulates that the installation or relocation of a VW auto factory in Germany must be approved by employee representatives on the VW supervisory board, the ministry added in a statement.

German lawmakers gave their final approval to the law in late November, and it replaces a text that was almost 50 years old and was rejected by the European Court of Justice last year.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:17:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That ought to improve traffic.

(bangs head on desk)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 04:47:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Southern Strategy for Industry Restructure | WaPo | 12 Dec 2008

An eleventh-hour effort to salvage a proposed $14 billion rescue plan for the auto industry collapsed late last night as Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on the timing of deep wage cuts for union workers, killing the legislative plan and threatening America's carmakers with bankruptcy. ...

Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), the lead GOP negotiator, said the sides were on the brink of a deal on the amendment he had offered. Representatives from the United Auto Workers -- who were present for most of the negotiations -- would not agree to a specific date, Corker said.

"We offered any day -- any day -- in 2009," Corker said. ...

Corker -- a freshman senator who a few years ago was mayor of Chattanooga -- was a strong opponent of the House plan to save the automakers. He and other Republicans had revolted against the earlier plan because they thought it did not go far enough in forcing contracts on the UAW. GM officials have told Congress, for instance, that under the most recent contract, labor costs would be about $62* per hour in 2010 -- $30 per hour in wages and slightly more than that in benefits to current workers and retirees. That's about $14 per hour more than at Toyota's U.S. plants.

Senate cloture front to automotive bill, ROLL CALL
is extension of AMT credits. Note twelve no-votes, thirteen including Obama. Apparently, Mr Kerry was at Poznan.

House ROLL CALL.
HR 7321 reportedly differs with draft Senate bill.

____
*That number is a composite, promoted by GM, of selected union wages, averaged, plus employer pension obligations and benefits expenses for both current and retired union employees. That number is down from $70/hr due to UAW challenge to its accuracy in recent months. Granted, the "Smart Car/Smart Grid" implications of Volkswagon's investment in TN aren't readily available. But I'm thinking that I had better investigate the issue of foreign automaker "alliances" in the US.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 11:55:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gee, $30 an hour. 60 Grand. A third gone to fed/state taxes, so 40 grand. A couple grand a month for a house, plus property taxes and paint, so now they have 15 grand for food, car, insurance, school expenses, that huge two week vacation, a little vig for the local church...man, they must be livin' large.

No wonder those fuckin' millionaire Senators are after their middle-class lifestyle.

What are they thinking? Who's gonna buy their stupid products if they are paid like slaves.

I wish I was still living over there so that I can leave.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 12:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tough Times in Sweden: Auto Woes Threaten to Wreck Volvo and Saab - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Iconic Swedish brands Volvo and Saab are both US-owned, but they may not benefit from any US auto bailout. As the global car industry slumps, officials in Sweden are scrambling to save their biggest brands -- without running afoul of EU law.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought I heard that Ford will sell Volvo.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 11:33:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There doesn't seem to be a buyer as yet.

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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 05:55:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Swedish car firms get bail-out

Sweden's troubled carmakers, Volvo and Saab, have been given a 28bn kronor (£2.3bn, $3.5bn) government bail-out to help them cope with falling demand.

This comes after the US House of Representatives approved a $14bn (£9.4bn) rescue for US car firms.

Volvo and Saab had been asking for Swedish state support because of the financial woes of their US owners.

The plan consists of a maximum of 20bn kronor in credit guarantees, and up to 5bn kronor in rescue loans.

As well as the credit guarantees and rescue loans, the government said it would also earmark 3bn kronor in research and development funds for the car industry.

Volvo is owned by Ford, while Saab is owned by General Motors, which had warned that without US government help it could soon run out of money.

The Swedish government, which had previously said it would await a US decision on a rescue package before announcing measures, reiterated it would not take over the struggling companies.

"We should not own companies," said Finance Minister Anders Borg.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 03:11:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tories pledge to help defeat Labour welfare rebellion - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
The Conservatives pledged yesterday to help the Government defeat a Labour backbench rebellion to ensure that a shake-up of the benefits system becomes law. Some Labour MPs criticised plans by the Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell under which almost all claimants would face cuts in their benefits if they did not prepare for or seek work. He said taxpayers' money would no longer be "frittered away" on claimants who "play the system", adding that there were 500,000 job vacancies compared to 200,000 people a month finding work.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:17:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's widely believed this will be seriously amended during the committee stage anyway, whatever the tories threaten.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:13:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sprachgebrauch: Das Wort des Jahres ist ... - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Kultur Linguistic usage: The word of the year is ... - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - Culture
... "Finanzkrise". Kein anderes Wort habe die öffentliche Diskussion in diesem Jahr mehr bestimmt als dieses, befand die Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache... ... "Financial crisis". No other word had defined public discussion more in this year than this, the Association for the German Language decided...

The choice of the Word of the Year receives much attention in Germany. (The choice of the misnomer of the year, too -- that'll come in March.)

In Österreich dagegen wählte eine siebenköpfige Fachjury unter der Leitung des Grazer Professors Rudolf Muhr den ungewöhnlichen Begriff "Lebensmensch" zum Wort des Jahres. Damit hatte der österreichische Politiker Stefan Petzner tränenreich um den 2008 verstorbenen Jörg Haider getrauert, mit dem Petzner ein besonders inniges Verhältnis pflegte. Die österreichischen Sprach-Juroren würdigten mit ihrer Wahl die Bedeutungs-Ambivalenz und den hohen emotionellen Wert des Wortes "Lebensmensch".In Austria however, a jury of seven specialists under the direction of professor Rudolf Muhr from Graz selected the term Lebensmensch [neologism, lit. "living-man", by meaning c. 'playboy-man'] as the word of the year. Using this word did the Austrian politician Stefan Petzner mourned in tears for Jörg Haider, with whom Petzner nurtured a particularly intimate relationship. The austrian language jurors recognized the ambivalent meaning and the high emotional value of the word Lebensmensch with their choice.

(For those who missed the Klatsch: Austria's long-time far-right leader Haider was gay, and semi-outed by Petzner after his death in a drunken high-speed car crash.)


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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:18:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankfurt Airport Sees Passengers Dwindle in Uncertain Times | Business | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008

Fraport said the number of passengers travelling through Frankfurt Airport in November had dropped 7 percent to 3.9 million from the same month last year.

Aircraft movements shrank by 3.4 percent to 38,733 takeoffs and landings, while only the number of intercontinental passenger flights increased by 0.5 percent.     

The operator said passenger levels at Frankfurt -- Europe's second busiest hub after Paris's Charles de Gaulle -- from January to November had also dropped, albeit by only 1 percent to 49.7 million people.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fourth delay for 'green' Boeing Dreamliner - Business News, Business - The Independent

In the fourth delay to the project, US-based Boeing announced that the first flight of the 787 had been put back to spring 2009 and the first delivery delayed until the first three months of 2010.

... Today, Boeing said the new schedule reflected a strike by employees and further production problems.




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sterling hits new lows as recession fear bites - Business News, Business - The Independent
Expectations that the Bank of England would soon cut interest rates to zero, or close to it, drove investors to other currencies, particularly the euro. The pound fell to below €1.14 for the first time, with €1 buying 87.7p - the highest since the single currency was launched in 1999.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to "Time" it appears that Alternative Currencies Grow in Popularity

Alternative currency comes in many forms. In addition to time banking, there are Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), systems of mutual credit that vary by location. This model was developed by Michael Linton in Canada, though it seems mostly to have taken off in the British Isles; an estimated 40,000 people in the U.K. use these for at least some transactions. (See TIME's Top 10 Everything of 2008)

Similarly, the Community Exchange System (CES) is an online money and banking system and trading marketplace that tracks credits and debits. While LETS's function as clubs that set their own guidelines, CES is administered through an online program that connects local groups to create a global network. The CES website points to more than 100 exchanges in fifteen countries. According to Squires, the Internet has made alternative forms of exchange more viable, as databases can keep account of credits.

In the rarified world of monetary theory, think-tanks are abuzz with ideas about future forms of money. One visionary, Jean-Francois Noubel, the co-founder of AOL-France, foresees "millions of free currencies circulating on the Net and through our cell phones" as money follows the distribution path that media has over the last decade.

Bernard Lietaer, a Belgian economist and author who helped develop the Euro, has proposed the "Terra," a transnational currency backed by established commodities that would co-exist with conventional notes, the monetary equivalent of Esperanto.

In recent years, the impetus for alternative currencies in established economies has stemmed in part from localization movements. Periodically ditching the dollar (or the pound, or the yen) in favor of homegrown currency doesn't merely fortify the local economy, it also builds community: people have a stake in their neighbor's well-being because that neighbor represents both market and supply chain.

Some argue that such transactions are more secure than others because knowing the person you're dealing with (and his family and friends) serves as a kind of social collateral.



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 04:08:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Following is an account of recent revival of local currencies in the US, describing some practical instances of local currency use.

Local currency shows up in Milwaukee

snip:

During a recession, the lease for a restaurant in Great Barrington, Mass., expired. The local bank wouldn't lend restaurateur Frank Tortrello money to move across the street. So Frank decided to print his own. He called them Deli Dollars. Each sold for $9 and could be redeemed for $10 worth of food after six months. Not only did the idea provide Frank with enough money to make his move, but it spread throughout the community. A local farm issued notes with the slogan "In Farms We Trust," featuring the head of a cabbage instead of the head of a president.

snip:

After the creation of federal banking during the Civil War and a federal reserve system in the early 1900s, the variety of money in this country contracted. But in the 1930s, when communities found themselves with products, needs, skills and labor but little money, local currencies made a comeback.
by Loefing on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:53:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see now:

On the front:  Arnie's smiling face

On the back:  The Golden Gate Bridge (of course).

Currency Motto:  "In Twank We Trust"  (Inspiring, isn't it!)

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 07:07:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's a slice of truffle I'll take it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:13:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"microporous tubing" is moving forward; will keep you apprised.  

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:56:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Top Broker Accused of $50 Billion Fraud
Sons Turned In Madoff After He Allegedly Told Them His Investment Advisory Business for the Wealthy Was 'Giant Ponzi Scheme'

Bernard L. Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market and a force in Wall Street trading for nearly 50 years, was arrested by federal agents Thursday, a day after his sons turned him in for running what they said their father called "a giant Ponzi scheme."

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a civil complaint, said it was an ongoing $50 billion swindle, and asked a judge to seize the firm and its assets. "Our complaint alleges a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions," said Andrew M. Calamari, associate director of enforcement in the SEC's New York office.

In a separate criminal complaint, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Theodore Cacioppi said Mr. Madoff's investment advisory business had "deceived investors by operating a securities business in which he traded and lost investor money, and then paid certain investors purported returns on investment with the principal received from other, different investors, which resulted in losses of approximately billions of dollars."



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 03:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calamari vs Madoff vs Ponzi.

Another day in paradise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:01:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A stunning fraud. Oh my word.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 05:07:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wheeeeeeeee Late Night Extra:

BBC NEWS | Business | US car bail-out fails in Senate

A $14bn (£9.4bn) bail-out deal for the US car industry has failed to get Senate support, raising fears of job cuts and a possible industry collapse.

Bipartisan talks on the rescue plan collapsed over Republican demands that the United Auto Workers (UAW) union agree to swift wage cuts.

The White House said the plan was American carmakers' "best chance to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy".

Bush - of all people - is now saying that it's possible some of the TARP money could be diverted to Detroit.

Maybe. Perhaps.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:08:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Markets tumble as auto bail out collapses

Equity markets across Asia tumbled on Friday as the proposed bailout for US automakers collapsed in the US Senate, wiping out the tentative signs of improved sentiment in the region and sending the dollar to a fresh 13-year low against the yen.

The Hang Seng dropped 5.5 per cent to 14,758.39, while the index of mainland Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong lost 6.8 per cent to 7,911.76. The Nikkei ended the day down 5.6 per cent at 8,235.87, while the broader Topix lost 4.2 per cent to 813.37.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this calls for a new tag:

[dvx's Fail-Out!TM Technology]

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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:27:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Detroit reeling as $14bn auto rescue fails

The high profile effort to agree legislation to lend $14bn to the US auto industry collapsed on Thursday night, leading the Bush administration to hold open the possibility that it would seek funds from its financial rescue plan instead.

Efforts to agree a deal in the US Senate ended in failure when Harry Reid, the leader of the Democratic majority, said negotiations with Senate Republicans were at an end and warned that millions of jobs were at stake as a result.

"It's over with," Mr Reid said. "I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It's not going to be a pleasant sight. Millions of Americans, not only the auto workers, but people who sell cars, car dealerships [and] people who work on cars are going to be directly impacted and affected."

Both Democrats and Republicans said the sticking point was a demand to push Detroit to bring down labour costs to a par with foreign manufacturers in the US. Democrats said the move made unrealistic demands on the United Auto Workers union, while Republicans argued that no effort to restructure the industry would work without such a step.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:28:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or Class War as it's more usually known.

What is it going to take to clear these shuffling economic corpse sniffers out of politics?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
me thinks 2 1/2 million out of work in one fell swoop would be a fitting grande finale to the reign of the bushmen!

especially if they all take a bus to washington to 'have a beer' with you-know-who...

jeez, this wait for jan 20 is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out like a guitar string ready to....snap.

'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 Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:48:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But GM and Chrysler won't just vaporize off the face of the planet. There is a certain demand for new cars, and since a big chunk of the supply is from the Detroit companies they will still have a business six months from now. It will just be a much smaller business.

Plus, car dealerships are completely independent from the car companies, so whether a given dealer can hang on or not depends on local conditions, not the total size of the manufacturer. So the dealerships won't vaporize, either.

I suspect that the executives at GM and Chrysler have already set up their golden parachute contracts so that they are protected (e.g., end-of-year bonus delivered in cash the week before bankruptcy is declared). Then it is simply a matter of reorganizing, which consists of closing perhaps half of the plants and "laying off" those workers.

After that, you just operate under "don't need to make a profit" bankruptcy rules for three or four years, taking down any possibility of profit by the other manufacturers--just as has happened in the air transport industry that also has excess capacity.

by asdf on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 09:22:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, i agree totally, there is no reason on god's green earth why these companies could not start turning healthy profits within a few short years, but you'd have to give the CEO position to Devilstower, lol!

meanwhile back at the SUV ranch...

'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 Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 10:17:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Dollar slides to 13-year low against the yen

The dollar slid to its lowest in 13 years against the yen on Friday as the US Senate failed to agree on a bailout for the three US automakers.

The dollar fell to as low as Y88.40 against the Japanese currency before stabilising at around Y89.38 in recent trading.

"It seems like they've all but given up," said Yuji Saito, head of the FX group at Societe Generale in Tokyo. "The concern out there is what will happen now and the few choices that are left, which could include Chapter 11, so that leaves no reason for investors to buy dollars."

There was a possibility that the yen could reach Y85 in New York trading time, he said.

The dollar had fallen against the yen and the euro overnight as the talks continued without conclusion and data showed that the US trade deficit had deteriorated. Fears about growing unemployment and the future of the automakers grew as other data showed that the number of new workers filing claims for unemployment benefits jumped to a 26-year high.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, the euro is up to $1.3269.

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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:28:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russians Who Invested in Kremlin-Touted 'People's IPOs' See Their Savings Vanish - washingtonpost.com

MOSCOW -- Anatoly Sisoyev always considered himself a patriot. As a child, he lost his father to an accident in the Soviet space program. As an adult, he served 30 years in the military, retiring at the rank of major. His son followed him into the army and was killed in Chechnya at the age of 18.

Through it all, he said, his faith in the Russian government never waned.

So when he heard radio ads two years ago encouraging citizens to invest in the initial public offerings of state-owned companies, Sisoyev lined up to buy shares, first in the oil-and-gas giant Rosneft and a year later in the nation's second-largest bank, VTB.

[...]

Now, as Russia confronts its worst economic crisis in a decade, the value of Sisoyev's shares has plummeted, wiping out most of his life savings. At 65, he is working as a part-time security guard because food prices are climbing faster than his meager pension. In a recent interview, he buried his face in his hands and fought back tears as he explained how he is trying to treat his sick wife by reading old medical textbooks because he can't afford a good doctor.

[...]

Swayed by years of steady growth -- and by an aggressive, state-funded marketing campaign -- hundreds of thousands of Russians ventured into the country's young stock markets to buy shares in the "people's IPOs." Now these first-time investors, many of them elderly pensioners like Sisoyev, are among those suffering the most as Russia's economic problems enter into a more painful phase.

Limited largely to the financial sector and the wealthy elite at first, the crisis is beginning to be felt by the broader population. Inflation, wage arrears and unemployment are on the rise, and in a recent survey, one-fifth of Russians said they or a family member worked for a company that had announced layoffs.



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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:39:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this looks like payback time - we feared the Russians, now we pity them, putting them in the rightful place once again. Still a sign of a dysfunctional relationship.

I'm sure there are sob stories about our own citizen, but somehow they're not seen as a similar indictment of the ruling class here.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:12:22 PM EST
Congo's Civil War: From Warlord to Statesman? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has gained control over large parts of eastern Congo. Many Congolese fear him, and a UN report says he receives support from the Rwandan government. But regions under his command show signs of order, and now he wants a political role.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:15:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mugabe says cholera threat is over | World News | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008
South African officials have declared the border with Zimbabwe a disaster area because of the surge of Zimbabweans fleeing a cholera epidemic. The World Health Organisation says nearly 800 people have died from the disease since August and more than 16,000 are believed to be infected. Meanwhile France says that Zimbabwe has refused to issue visas to six French envoys who were to travel to the country to inspect the extent of the cholera outbreak. In a nationally broadcast speech, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said that the cholera outbreak is under control.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suicide bomb in Kirkuk in Iraq kills more than 50 | World News | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008
Police say a suicide bomber has killed more than 50 people and wounded almost 100 in an attack in the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk. The bomber detonated explosives inside a Kurdish restaurant which was packed with government officials, women and children during lunch hour.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:15:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Troop surge to break Afghan 'stalemate' - Asia, World - The Independent

British forces in southern Afghanistan are locked in a "stalemate" with Taliban insurgents and they need tens of thousands of reinforcements to win, the American commander of Nato forces in the country said yesterday.

The extra troops would be used in a radical overhaul of Western strategy in the country next year - a period described as a "defining moment" in the ongoing war. The Independent revealed two months ago that General Sir David Richards, the new head of the British Army, believed a surge of up to 30,000 extra troops was needed to fight the Taliban.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh god, they so don't get it. another example of truth only being possible when no longer in office below.

Guardian - Patrick Wintour - Ex-minister slates UK policy on Afghanistan

The former Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Afghanistan yesterday accused the country of being corrupt "from top to bottom", and said the international community had wrongly treated President Hamid Karzai with kid gloves.

The criticism came from Kim Howells, who was in charge of the Afghanistan brief for three-and-a-half years until he stepped down as a foreign affairs minister in the October government reshuffle. The remarks reflect his considered judgment on what has been described as the most difficult foreign policy challenge facing the UK government and its armed forces.

Breaking his silence on the issue, he told MPs: "Institutionally, Afghanistan is corrupt from top to bottom. There are few signs that the chaotic hegemony of warlords, gangsters, presidential placemen, incompetent and under-resourced provincial governors and self-serving government ministers has been challenged in any effective way by President Karzai.

"On the contrary, those individuals appear to be thriving, not least because Hamid Karzai has convinced himself that he cannot afford to sack or challenge the strongmen who, through corruption, brutality, power of arms or tribal status are capable of controlling their territories and fiefdoms."

Howells told the Guardian that Karzai had repeatedly put pressure on the Foreign Office not to back the dismissal of corrupt and brutal provincial governors.

He told MPs that British public support for the war in Afghanistan was fragile. The government, he said, "will be asked, quite properly, why the lives of our service personnel should be risked ... We will be asked why we are fighting to preserve what looks remarkably like a regime that is being undermined by corrupt cliques that have access to the highest levels."

He said the government had to change its "daft" rhetoric on the war. "Forget the nonsense about being prepared to fight on the mountains and plains of Afghanistan for 30 years. People will not accept the notion that British families should send their sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters to risk their lives fighting religious fanatics, tribal nationalists, corrupt warlords and heroin traffickers in one of the most godforsaken terrains on the face of the earth. The notion is daft, however much we may try to rationalise it by arguing that it is better to fight al-Qaeda over there than over here."



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:19:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Light at the end of the tunnel, blah blah blah.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 07:18:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good find, Helen.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:20:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan detains head of charity linked to Mumbai attacks | World News | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008
Among the five arrested is Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of the Jamat-ud-Dawa charity and a former leader of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. US authorities say the charity is a front for the militant group.  India's interior minister has meanwhile announced a major overhaul of the country's security and intelligence agencies in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:16:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
News Analysis - India Presses Pakistan on Terrorism but Finds Its Own Options Limited - NYTimes.com

NEW DELHI -- Even as Indian officials on Thursday lambasted Pakistan as the "epicenter" of terrorism and dismissed its crackdown on extremist groups as inadequate in the wake of last month's attacks in Mumbai, they all but ruled out the prospect of a military confrontation.

Rather, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told members of Parliament that it would take time for India to turn off the tap of support for militant groups operating across the border, and that war was "no solution."

"We shall have to patiently confront it," he said. "We have no intention to be provoked."

His words signaled India's delicate and somewhat circumscribed options. If it were to carry out even limited military strikes against Pakistan, it would be likely to lose the support of its allies, namely the United States, which fears that Pakistan would then divert troops from its western border with Afghanistan to its eastern one with India.

Second, India confronts a weak civilian government in Pakistan, which, as Indian officials have long acknowledged privately, has little muscle to counter the powerful military and spy agency.



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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
India, Russia regain elan of friendship

snip:

The joint declaration signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Medvedev after extensive talks in New Delhi reflects that the two sides have taken serious pains to understand each other's vital concerns and have endeavored to go more than half the distance to accommodate them. They also made a conscious effort to expand their common ground in the international system. After a considerable lapse of time, Russian-Indian relationship seems to be on the move.

snip:

The Russian-Indian joint declaration suggests that New Delhi is swiftly adapting to the reality that it must diversify the sinews of cooperation and revitalize its diverse partnerships with countries on the basis of shared concerns and commonality of interests rather than pursue a foreign policy whose prime objective has been to harmonize Indian regional policies with the US's. This is most tellingly evident on the Joint Declaration's paragraph devoted to Afghanistan.

Very interesting article.
.

by Loefing on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 07:07:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
President of the World | DemocracyNow! | 11 Dec 2008

MATHIAS MÜLLER VON BLUMENCRON: It was a very moving moment for everybody here in Germany. If Barack Obama would have been elected here, he would have gotten 75 percent of the vote and even, as I looked it up, 88 percent of the vote of the executives here in Germany. So--

AMY GOODMAN: 88 percent--so, more than of the general population--of the executives. You mean the corporate executives?

MATHIAS MÜLLER VON BLUMENCRON: Corporate executives. They would have elected him by 88 percent.

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

MATHIAS MÜLLER VON BLUMENCRON: So, by a big margin. There is big hope. There is big excitement about change, about his motto of change. We called him, on this cover, "the world's president," because we followed this election basically as it would have been a German election, very intensely. We did five, six cover stories on that election campaign alone in this year, so our people were very familiar with the issues, and there was a very big attention for this, first for the pre-election and afterwards for the real election. Everybody was hoping that he would win.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 08:45:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rule Eases a Mandate Under a Law on Wildlife - NYTimes.com

The Interior Department on Thursday announced a rule that has largely freed federal agencies from their obligation to consult independent wildlife biologists before they build dams or highways or permit construction of transmission towers, housing developments or other projects that might harm federally protected wildlife.

On the Dot Earth blog, Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet's limits. Join the discussion.

The rule, quickly challenged by environmental groups, lets the Army Corps of Engineers or the Federal Highway Administration in many cases rely on their own personnel in deciding what impact a project would have on a fish, bird, plant, animal or insect protected under the Endangered Species Act.

In announcing the rule, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said his main intention was to ensure that the 1972 law was not used as a "back door" means of regulating the emission of the gases that accelerate climate change. Without this rule, Mr. Kempthorne said, his decision last summer to list the polar bear as threatened because of the loss of sea ice caused by the warming of the climate could be used to block projects far from the bear's Arctic habitat.

"The Endangered Species Act was never intended to be a back door opportunity for climate change policy," he said.

Legal experts said the change seemed intended to ensure that the protection of species like the polar bear would not impede development of coal-fired power plants or other federal actions that increased emissions of heat-trapping gases. The Endangered Species Act, a complicated law with numerous procedural requirements, has long infuriated business interests and property rights advocates. But the law's broad sweep, and its impact on a range of issues like hydroelectric power and logging, has largely been supported by federal courts.

Bastards.

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 Dec 12th, 2008 at 04:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloomberg.com: Exclusive | Boeing's `7-Late-7' Dreamliner Takes as Long as Pioneering 707

Boeing Co.'s latest delay means the 787 Dreamliner will take almost as long to develop as the planemaker's original model that ushered the U.S. into the Jet Age more than a half-century ago.

The schedule Boeing announced yesterday would start 787 shipments to airlines in 2010, almost six years after the first order. That's about two years more than the average for other Boeing planes and rivals the six years and two months spent on the 707 in the 1950s. That aircraft, which started out as the Dash 80, was the forerunner of the more than 16,000 commercial jets the company has built since.

Punsters have had their way with the 787 Dreamliner amid the four delays since October 2007: It's the "7-Late-7" and the "Lateliner" in reports by Rob Stallard, an analyst in New York with Macquarie Research Equities. Newspapers including London's Daily Telegraph quipped about the Dreamliner turning into a nightmare. Chicago-based Boeing has lost 60 percent of its market value since the first delay.

Airbus Takes Lead in Race With Boeing Over Orders - WSJ.com

PARIS -- European commercial-aircraft builder Airbus on Monday said it delivered 46 aircraft and booked firm orders for 84 more in November -- making it the clear winner in terms of order intake, compared with U.S. rival Boeing Co., so far this year as airlines retrench because of diminishing traffic.

In the first 11 months of 2008, Airbus delivered 437 planes. Its order tally came to 878, but because of 122 cancellations -- including 65 aircraft ordered by U.S. carrier Skybus Airlines Inc. -- the net order intake was 756 planes.

Boeing booked 640 net orders over the year through Dec. 2, according to its Web site. The Chicago-based company recorded six cancellations during the period.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:45:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:12:53 PM EST
Next census aims to map migrant populations - Home News, UK - The Independent

The 2011 census will aim to map migrant populations in England and Wales, proposals published today reveal.

The planned census, to take place on 27 March 2011, will ask migrants their date of arrival into the UK and their intended length of stay.

A new question on citizenship also requires respondents to disclose which passports they hold.

National statistician Karen Dunnell said: "It was identified as the easiest way to get people to answer a question about their national citizenship, which is a very difficult concept."

She added that it was vital migration estimates were improved, and admitted: "You cannot guard against getting a shock when you get to the census."




*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to get people to answer a question about their national citizenship, which is a very difficult concept.

So it's a matter of course to ask people what their race or ethnic origin is, (and that's not a difficult concept), but what passport they hold is very difficult. Strange.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Street Art Sell Out: 'Guerilla' Advertising Masquerades as Graffiti - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Companies are increasingly turning to graffiti and street art to give themselves a more youthful image. Taggers complain that this commercialization could destroy the street art subculture.

LOL...


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

by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taggers should get their tag-kits out and overtag the commercial tags. What else?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:38:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ghost Rider: Train Courses through Germany without Driver - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Germany's national railway has admitted that one of its regional trains traveled 40 kilometers through eastern Germany on Monday -- without a driver. An investigation has been launched.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:15:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but did it stop at the proper stations ?? :-))

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:21:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Bahn confirmed a report in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that a regional train travelled for 40 kilometers (25 miles) through the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, crossing a number of roads, before finally coming to a halt. There were no passengers on board, but neither was there a driver or any other train personnel.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if that doesn't prove our conservative friends are right about train drivers being overpaid, I don't know what does.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 02:40:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Global warming: how not to mobilise the masses

In this mindset saving the planet demands that people give up their foreign holidays, abandon their cars, turn down the heating and clean their teeth in the dark. Through this prism, pain is a virtue and the halting global warming metamorphoses into a much broader attack on consumerism, materialism and, at the extreme, anything that smacks of the market.

Whatever one makes of the intent, such zealotry is doomed to failure. Self-flagellation does not sell. If keeping the planet cool is seen to be the project of affluent middle-class do-gooders the masses will mobilise all right - against it.

The case must be framed as an opportunity rather than a burden. Technological innovation - in automobile design, energy efficiency, renewable energy and the rest - is more than a useful adjunct to an austere low carbon lifestyle. It is a vital pillar of any plan to reduce the build-up of CO2. Bluntly stated, unless we find a way to capture emissions from coal-fired power stations, the game will be lost.

The response of politicians must be to accentuate the opportunities: in business, jobs and technological advance in rich economies; in fostering security in poorer regions; and in binding the rising powers into an equitable international system.

Mr Obama makes the case that less gas guzzling will enhance America's security by reducing dependence on unreliable or hostile foreign regimes. A glance towards Moscow should carry the same message for Europeans.

Instead of talking about the cost of doing something, leaders would do better to emphasise the price of doing nothing. Of course, the shift to a low carbon economy will not be painless. But nor is global warming. The way to mobilise the masses is to recast the argument. Opportunity sells a lot better than do hair shirts.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 05:02:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

does this get a tax write-off for being 'office space'?

happy b(l)ogging...

'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 Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 06:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:13:25 PM EST
TV Suicide Shines Spotlight on Thorny Euthanasia Question | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 11.12.2008
After the airing on SKY TV of the film, "The Right To Die?" by Canada's Oscar-winning director John Zaritsky, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on the media to avoid "sensationalism."


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:13:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coldplay deny living the life on 'copied' hit - News, Music - The Independent
"If there are similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental and just as surprising to us as to him. Joe Satriani is a great musician but did not write or have any influence on the song 'Viva La Vida'. We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances and wish him well with all future endeavours," said the band.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Outrage Over Ivanchuk: The Great Chess Doping Scandal - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk refused to submit a urine sample for a drug test at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden and is now considered guilty of doping. The world of chess is outraged that he could face a two-year ban.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:14:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jon Stewart: Illinois governors 'more likely to end up in jail' than murderers

"Sadly,'' Stewart concludes, "graft is nothing new to Illinois.'' - noting that three of the last seven governors have landed in jail.

Comparing the percentage of that record with the numbers of people who are estimated to get away with murder each year, he concludes: "You are more likely to end up in jail if you become governor of Illinois than if you are a murderer.''




Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin names Caucasus mountain peak in honor of Russian spies

MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin named on Thursday a mountain peak in the Caucasus in honor of Russian spies.

The former president's office has said that the one-time KGB agent signed a resolution to name the Sugan Ridge mountain peak the Peak of Russian Counterintelligence Agents.

It said the proposal was made by the republic of North Ossetia's parliament on December 5.

The previously nameless 3269-meter high mountain is located in the westernmost area of North Ossetia, close to the border with Georgia.

Putin served for 16 years with the KGB and later as chief of its successor, the FSB.




Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
by poemless on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 03:29:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The word 'spies' is usually reserved for intelligence officers. The peak is clearly named after 'counterintelligence officers'. Doe anyone need to say more?

Stupidity is the new black...

by Sargon on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 09:13:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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