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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 26 June

by Fran Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:43:01 PM EST

On this date in history:

1869 - Birth of Martin Andersen Nex°, a Danish writer. He was the first significant Danish author to depict the working class, and the first great Danish communist writer.(d. 1954)

More here and here

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by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:43:53 PM EST
EU countries obstructing investigations into CIA renditions, report says - EUobserver

The "most important" of the CIA's secret detention prisons, or 'black sites', in the years immediately following the 11 September attacks was situated in Szymany, some 160km north of Warsaw, according to officers with the US intelligence service.

In a weekend article in the New York Times newspaper, unnamed CIA officers tell of one of the presumed dozens of sites, hitherto vehemently denied by the Polish government as having been located within the country.

"Poland is the 51st state", a US source said

One officer quoted in the article says James L. Parvitt, a former director of the agency's clandestine service, as saying: "Poland is the 51st state."

"Poland was picked because there were no local cultural and religious ties to Al Qaeda, making infiltration or attack by sympathisers unlikely," the paper quotes another anonymous agent as saying.

But above all, claims the paper's account of CIA officer recollections, the country was picked because "Polish officials were eager to co-operate."

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remind me again why Poland is in the Union?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 05:10:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cos back in the day, the US thought it was a good idea to pull ex-soviet countries away from russia by offering them the "bounty" of EU membership.

Oh. Sorry. You thought their memberships were a european initiative ? Hmmm, where do we start ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:40:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I remember correctly, these countries were also told that they needed NATO membership as a prerequisite for EU membership.

Also, I don't think the countries bordering Russia need a lot of inducement to want to join NATO.

The way EU membership and NATO membership are linked in elites' minds can be seen in the EU-accession page of the Georgian government: http://www.eu-nato.gov.ge/

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Majority of French pessimistic about their country's EU presidency - EUobserver

Although France has been preparing its EU presidency for months and has made no secret of its ambitious plans for its chairmanship of the bloc, no more than one French person in three believes Paris will be able to boost Europe after Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty.

Asked if they trust their president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to re-launch Europe after the shock of the Irish No on 12 June, 57 percent of the French responded negatively and 31 percent positively, according to a poll published in financial daily Les Echos on Tuesday (24 June).

Almost half of the French people do not believe their president will be diplomatic towards his EU counterparts.

Some 39 percent trust him to develop "an ambitious project for Europe," but 53 percent remain sceptical.

Additionally, almost half of those asked - 49 percent - said they did not believe Mr Sarkozy would be diplomatic towards his European partners, while 44 percent trusted him on this point.

The French leader's blunt statements and overly familiar language to his counterparts are said to irritate some of them, particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Despite some setbacks, Sarkozy is riding high - International Herald Tribune

PARIS: President Nicolas Sarkozy has had his share of bad luck as he prepares to take over the European Union's presidency on July 1.

First, record fuel prices have prompted huge protests around Europe. Then Irish voters dealt a deadly blow to a document he claimed as his own, a compromise treaty to replace the failed EU constitution.

And one of his prized European initiatives - a Mediterranean Union bringing southern Europe together with northern Africa, and Israel with Lebanon, Syria and Turkey - was whittled away by a suspicious Germany and an EU bureaucracy ever-expert at obfuscation.

Yet Sarkozy also holds some strong cards. His three-day visit to Israel this week was the latest sign that France has regained diplomatic stature not only in Washington and European capitals, but also in Africa and the Middle East.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:11:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Sarkozy's Ambition in the Middle East

Randa Takieddine     Al-Hayat     - 25/06/08//

The visit by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to Jerusalem and Bethlehem proves that France has not changed its policy vis-à-vis the Middle East conflict. It proves that the fundamental principles that differentiate it from the US policy remain intact, with an insistence that Jerusalem should be the capital of two states, that a Palestinian state should be established, the Israeli settlement activity halted, and the obstacles before the Palestinian people removed.

However, what has changed with Sarkozy involves form, and not content. There is also the huge ambition to secure a role in terms of a Middle East settlement. The form involved a message of affection to the Jewish people and Israel, and the use of Biblical passages in his address to the Knesset.

In other words, spin works.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:31:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the French are not confident in Sarkozy.  That's the headline.
by paving on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bulging Panties and Oversized Tax Evasion: Secret Lives of the Super Rich - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Prosecutors and tax investigators are once again going after millionaires who have hidden their assets in foundations with Lichtenstein's LGT Treuhand in what has become the biggest tax-evasion scandal in German history. After years of hide-and-seek, many are relieved to have been discovered.

Liechtenstein's LGT Bank: "Simply knowing that they are rich gives them the greatest pleasure."

The investigators were more discreet this time -- no cameras, no flurry of flashbulbs, no live broadcasts from the scene of the crime. In fact, authorities were anxious to avoid repeating the sort of spectacle that had unfolded when officials searched the home of Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel in Cologne back in February.

There were no streets being sealed off in the early morning hours last week, nor were there any flashing lights or even officers in uniform. Instead, about a dozen men and women arrived in inconspicuous cars, rang doorbells during normal business hours and disappeared into several Munich villas and commercial buildings without even attracting the neighbors' attention.

For their latest wave of house searches, prosecutors and tax investigators from the western German city of Bochum have set their sights on a handful of Munich millionaires. Authorities believed that the would-be suspects, like Zumwinkel, could be guilty of tax evasion in Germany, illegally parking their money with foundations operated by the LGT Treuhand bank in Liechtenstein.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:49:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trans-Atlantic Interference?: US Neocons Accused of Role in Irish 'No' Vote - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Did neo-cons from the United States fund the campaign in Ireland to reject the Lisbon Treaty? Accusations to that effect are widespread -- particularly given the business contacts of a leading group in the "no" camp.

 Demonstrators want Ireland's voice to be heard. The words were clear: "Europe has powerful enemies on the other side of the Atlantic, gifted with considerable financial means." The speaker was France's Europe Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet, addressing a pro-European rally in Lyon at the weekend.

He was putting the blame for the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty on some surprising shoulders: neoconservatives in the United States. "The role of the American neocons was very important in the victory of the 'no,'" he said.

A voice of paranoia from old Europe? Perhaps. But the allegations are not exactly new. Those campaigning for a "yes" vote in the Irish referendum on June 12 had made similar suggestions in the run up to the vote.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:50:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that Jouyet has publicly aired the aaccusations, they can report them, and provide the claims and counter-claims on the issue, but there is not a single verification of facts of their own in the article - just reports of assertions by various parties.


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The debate is the news. Contributing facts and analysis is taking part in the debate.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The news is the debate. Reading the news is taking part in the debate.

When the news moves on, the debate is over.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you make that a diary?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:33:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anything to deny that maybe the people are wising up...
by paving on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs move to make EU enlargement harder - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - MEPs in the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Tuesday (24 June) approved an enlargement report stressing that the EU's own capacity to absorb new states should be taken into account when considering membership applications in the future.

But the report, which is still to be voted upon in plenary, underlines that the bloc will respect the commitments it has already taken - notably to the western Balkan countries.

Europe Day celebrations in Kiev - Ukraine is hoping to be a full EU member one day

The EU's enlargement strategy should "strike a balance between the Union's geo-strategic interests, the impact of political developments outside its borders, and the Union's integration capacity, including its ability to cope with future internal and external challenges and to realise its political integration project," reads the report prepared by German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok.

The so-called "integration capacity" is described as consisting of four elements - accession states should contribute to the EU's ability to fulfil its political objectives, rather than "impair" it and the bloc's institutional framework should remain "efficient and effective."

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
accession states should contribute to the EU's ability to fulfil its political objectives, rather than "impair"


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm... a report by the EP does not have much of a legal status. The Copenhagen Criteria (which already include absorption capacity) do.

So how's

'MEPs affirm standing law in report on enlargement'

for a headline?

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:56:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and journalists don't do that, do they?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:06:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU states criticised for toothless anti-discrimination laws - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU capitals should step up efforts to combat racist crime, which continues its upward trend, the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency has said. It has also suggested that the main reason behind this growth is toothless anti-discrimination laws.

"It is obvious that the member states are applying the legislation quite unevenly. We must redouble our efforts to make sure that equality becomes a right in practice for everybody in the EU," Anastasia Crickley from the Vienna-based agency said on Tuesday (24 June), after publishing its 2007 report on racism and xenophobia in the EU.

Brussels criticised 14 governments for failing to fully implement the Racial Equality Directive in 2007

The report points to huge differences between member states when its comes to laws designed to crack down on racism. The gaps are linked to the level of sanctions as well as to the number of times they are actually applied.

Twelve EU states did not apply any sanctions over the course of the 2006-2007 period, the report says. These countries include the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A double cartel holds EU hostage on energy - International Herald Tribune

BERLIN: For weeks now, people across Europe have been trying to cope with the soaring price of oil. What is less talked about but just as painful is the increase in the price of gas.

Governments, while they say it is time to diversify energy sources to reduce dependence on oil, don't speak about the direct link between oil and gas. Here in Europe and in most parts of Asia their prices are inextricably tied together. Consumers and industry have no chance of breaking away from high fossil fuel prices.

The European Union's silence over the coupling of oil and gas prices is strange. One of the EU's strong points has been its consistent support for competition. But when it comes to energy, it is a different matter. Due to pressure from Europe's powerful gas companies, the EU has had a tough time trying to open up the sector to genuine competition, even if such a move would bolster the bloc's competitiveness.

The lack of any debate about the link between oil and gas has much to do with Europe's helplessness. As the North Sea fields become depleted, the EU is becoming increasingly dependent on imported oil and gas. According to estimates by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, by 2030 over 84 percent of the bloc's total gas supplies will be imported, compared with 54 percent today.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:52:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Europe.Is.DoomedTM Alert]

And now freely available with your favourite classic evergreens!!

A double cartel holds EU hostage on energy - International Herald Tribune

In reality, Russia, rich from high energy prices, began to turn its energy power into a political weapon against Ukraine's pro-Western government. In response, the EU said it was time to reduce its dependence on Russia, which supplies more than a third of Europe's gas needs.


Once Nabucco is completed in six years, Europe's dependence on Russian gas would be reduced, but not by much.

by Nomad on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 08:37:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The rest of the article is even worse. And oddly, it is made even worse by the fact that it actually contains a few correct facts - which are then used, totally absurdly, to justify the ideologically-driven analysis peppered throughout the rest.

It would take a sentence by sentence deconstruction to make it right. sigh... I'll see if I have the courage.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:37:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also - we'll be so much safer if we rely on the Saudis.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:21:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Systematic failures' to blame in U.K. data loss scandal - International Herald Tribune

Systematic failures and "woefully inadequate" processes for handling data at Britain's tax authority led to the loss of personal details of nearly half the population, two scathing reports said on Wednesday.

Institutional problems were the reason two computer discs containing the names, addresses, bank details and national insurance numbers of 25 million people, went missing last year an Independent Police Complaints Commission probe found.

No junior members of staff could be held responsible for what was Britain's biggest data security lapse as Chancellor Alistair Darling originally suggested, the IPCC added.

The head of the tax collection office later resigned and despite a massive police hunt, the discs were not found.

"An event like this was certain to happen - the only question being when," said the report by the IPCC Commissioner, Gary Garland, adding that staff had to deal with a "muddle through" culture.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown's Whitehall shake-up blamed for the loss of 25m personal records - Times Online

The personal details of 25 million children and their parents were lost because senior civil servants did not tell staff how to protect sensitive data.

The loss of the names and addresses of every child in Britain and the financial details of ten million parents last autumn was the direct result of a Whitehall shake-up overseen by Gordon Brown, said the official report published yesterday.

Alistair Darling pointedly failed to defend his predecessor as he was forced into a humiliating apology on the day that four separate reports detailing failures to protect data across Whitehall were published.

The account by Kieran Poynter, a management consultant, of the loss of two discs containing complete child benefit records concludes that senior managers did not tell demoralised staff about rules on handling sensitive data, or take responsibility for keeping personal records safe.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:07:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown: one year on, 20 points behind, says exclusive ICM poll | Politics | The Guardian

Gordon Brown faces a damning verdict from voters ahead of his first anniversary in power, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll. It suggests that his prime ministership has been a disappointment: 74% of those questioned say that he has been a change for the worse compared with Tony Blair, and only 24% think Labour has a chance of winning the next election while he remains leader.

The poll also gives the Conservatives a record 20-point lead over Labour, six points up on last month. Labour support has fallen two points to 25%, the lowest recorded in the ICM polls, which began in 1984.

Conservative support, at 45%, is at a 20-year high. That would give David Cameron a landslide victory as big as Labour's win in 1997, with some 400 seats. Labour might be reduced to well under 200 MPs, with many ministers losing their seats. The Tories would retain Crewe and Nantwich, won in a byelection last month, while Labour would lose previously safe seats such as Wakefield.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:54:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Human Rights Watch condemns Russia for violence in Ingushetia - International Herald Tribune

MOSCOW: Though violence in Chechnya has decreased markedly in recent years, fighting between Muslim insurgents and Russian troops threatens to engulf a neighboring region, a human rights group said in a report released on Wednesday.

The group, Human Rights Watch, asserted that a recent spike in insurgent attacks in the region, Ingushetia, has provoked a spate of kidnappings, torture and arbitrary killings of innocent civilians by law enforcement reminiscent of earlier rights abuses in Chechnya.

Government officials from the region have disputed the report's findings.

Ingushetia, a tiny Muslim republic on Chechnya's western border, has long been considered a relatively peaceful enclave in the North Caucasus, a mountainous region in Russia's south. Recently, however, it has become a haven for rebels fleeing a brutal counter-insurgency in Chechnya.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:55:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Bureaucracy: Should the EU Sell Bent Cucumbers? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

For years, EU critics only had to mention the "bent cucumber rule" whenever they wanted to mock perceived European over-regulation. Now, the EU's agriculture minister has suggested scrapping a number of rules to ease the rising price of food.

 Regulation first-class unbent European cucumbers. According to European Commission Regulation No. 1277/88, if a cucumber bends more than 10 millimeters per 10 centimeters (0.4 inches per 4 inches) in length, it cannot be categorized as "class one" and may therefore only be sold as a second-rate cucumber. But who wants to buy one of those? Most second-rate cucumbers -- at least according to conventional wisdom -- never make it to market.

But in this era of skyrocketing fuel prices, Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU's Danish agricultural minister, thinks it prudent to bend a few regulations. She thinks the EU should make it easier for the fruits and vegetables to reach the market by using a new classification system -- but "with some sort of label for use in cooking."

Sellers and consumers, she says -- rather than EU regulators -- should decide on the standards they want for the food they buy. If consumers want to pay less for supposedly inferior produce, so be it.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:56:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian Bear Roars: Why Is Moscow Risking a New Cold War? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Strategic bombers off the American coast, battleships in the Mediterranean -- the Russian military is displaying its might once again with Moscow pumping billions into new weapons. But where does the Kremlin see its enemies today, and why is it risking another nuclear arms race with Washington?

At eleven o'clock at night, when the moon is reflected in the slow-moving waters of the Volga River, when the steppes are exhaling the heat of the day, and when the last bars are closing in Yekaterinburg and Pokrovsk -- old provincial cities on the river's left bank that are now called Marx and Engels --, Gennady Stekachov is on his way into world politics. And everyone can hear it.

Russian military planes fly over Red Square and passing a Kremlin tower during a rehearsal for the May 9 victory parade in Moscow. The shutters shake in the crooked old wooden houses German settlers built 250 years ago, and the windowpanes rattle in the prefabricated high-rise apartment buildings from Soviet days.

The cause of the commotion is Stekachov guiding his 150-ton, long-range bomber down a runway outside the city and, together with his crew of seven other men, taking off into the night sky.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How does one say "rysskräck" in German?  ...

Uhm.  I just googled that word and ET came up, but it's some freak parallel universe ET!!!



It seems that time stopped on that ET on June 3rd.   I got to it from Google.  Which means anyone else could.  You can log in and leave comments and everthing.  Only ... it's not the real ET.  makeitstopit'sscaringme.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:14:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi in new judge outburst

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has labelled Italy's judiciary a "cancerous growth", hours after a bill was passed freezing one of his own trials.

Mr Berlusconi is facing a corruption case in a Milan court, but the new law would postpone the hearing for a year.

The government is also set to introduce another bill that will give top public figures immunity from prosecution.

Mr Berlusconi has faced corruption charges in the courts for many years but has always protested his innocence.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Capone has faced murder charges in the courts for many years but has always protested his innocence.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps someone should look into his tax affairs.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 05:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gotcha! Great idea!
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 10:04:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU leaders sent to Siberia for talks that symbolise shifting power - Times Online

European Union leaders travel to the source of Russia's renewed power today in search of a new relationship with the Kremlin under President Medvedev.

The first EU-Russia summit since Mr Medvedev succeeded Vladimir Putin opens in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk, the Siberian heartland of the country's oil riches. The political symbolism of the venue, chosen by Mr Putin, is not lost on either side as they strive to rebuild relations after years of friction over energy, trade and democracy.

The Khanty-Mansiysk region produced 57 per cent of Russia's oil last year. Record prices mean that the region of 1.5 million people -- 1 per cent of Russia's population -- contributes a fifth of the national budget.

"I think that the Government wants to show a part of Russia that is different from Moscow or St Petersburg," Alexander Filipenko, the regional governor, said. "But the second motivation, perhaps, is that this is the starting point of the energy that comes to Europe and keeps the lights on and heats the homes."

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:05:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RIA Novosti - Russia - EU-Russia summit to address security, economic challenges

MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - The EU-Russia summit that opens Thursday will focus on steps to draft a European security treaty and ways of meeting global economic challenges, a Russian presidential aide said on Wednesday.

The two-day summit in Khanty-Mansiisk, Western Siberia, is the first with the European Union since Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's landslide election victory. It is widely expected to lay the groundwork for talks on a long overdue comprehensive security cooperation pact.

Sergei Prikhodko said there would be discussions on drafting "a new legally binding agreement, a European security agreement that would fix specific principles for relations and mutual security commitments both on the part of states and organizations for the mid- and longer term."

The leaders will also try to develop solutions to the global food crisis, soaring energy prices and climate change, he said.

"As for the crisis on the global food market, discussions at the summit could help create a powerful joint signal to the global market to prevent panic and further price hikes," Prikhodko said.

by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Europe in the Gulag Alert]

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloomberg.com: Brown Will Open Power Grid to Meet U.K. Renewable Energy Goal
Prime Minister Gordon Brown will announce plans today to open the electricity grid to small energy suppliers as part of a program to reduce Britain's dependence on fossil fuels.

The Department for Enterprise, Business and Regulatory Reform said it will sweep away regulatory barriers that prevent individuals and small companies from selling electricity to the national network. Brown will discuss the measures in a 9 a.m. speech in London.


The measures are aimed at meeting the government's commitment to the European Union for the nation to produce 15 percent of its energy from solar and wind power and other renewable sources by 2020, compared with less than 4 percent now.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mail Online via Google: Desperate families begin stealing from allotments as they struggle with rising food bills
They are struggling to cope with rising mortgage costs and mounting food bills.

And now, it would seem, some families are turning to crime to feed themselves.

Allotment owners across the country say they have seen a marked increase in the number of thefts from their plots.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 08:42:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy bills could triple to meet climate goal

The EU can meet its ambitious goal for cutting greenhouse gases - but consumers would have to foot the bill, says a new study. Simon Taylor reports

The study, `A Multitude of Energy Policy Targets: do they match with industry's goals?', analyses whether the EU will be able to meet the targets it set itself in March 2007 for cutting greenhouse gases and boosting the share of the EU's energy mix derived from renewable sources.

Luca Cesari, global managing director of Accenture's utilities industry group, who has overseen the study, says that the EU could meet all its targets but to do so would mean households paying around three and half times their current fuel bill. The study, which used UK households for its calculations, finds that bills would increase from around €600 a year to €1,750. Cesari says that such an increase would be "unacceptable", so the study describes an alternative scenario where the EU comes very close to meeting its targets by 2020 and households would see their fuel costs double to around €1,200 a year. This scenario is based on a technology boom where the EU manages to bring on-stream new low- carbon and energy-efficient technologies to help reach the 2020 targets.

The European Commission has estimated the cost of reaching the targets at €3 per week extra per person, or €60 billion in total by 2020.

The initial conclusions of the Accenture study were presented to electricity company executives at the annual EurElectric electricity industry conference in Barcelona on 16-17 June. Many company chief executives were sceptical about whether consumers would be prepared to pay more to meet the climate change targets. Padraig McManus, chief executive of Ireland's Electricity Supply Board (ESB), said: "Customers will not [pay more] for the sake of the planet. People saying they'll pay more for green energy and getting them to do it are two different things."

Accenture's Cesari said a survey of 6,000 consumers carried out six months ago showed that consumers were prepared to pay more to tackle climate change. "The story is about how much," he said. But he admitted that sentiment could have changed as a result of the recent rises in energy prices. "We might get a different result if we did the survey now," Cesari said.

The report also flagged up that the EU's aim of boosting the share of renewables in energy sources might clash with the aim of improving security of supply. That is because renewable energy sources such as wind, hydroelectric and solar power provide power more intermittently than plants fuelled by coal, gas or nuclear energy.

Greater use of renewables will require additional investment in transmission networks because the energy is produced a long way from where demand is highest, eg, solar in Spain and Portugal and wind power from off the German and Danish coasts. "It's not free to substitute coal, gas and nuclear with wind," Cesari said, referring to the extra grid investment needed.

In a discussion on the EU's multiple targets in Barcelona, many executives said that the priority should be reducing carbon dioxide emissions (CO2).

Lars Josefsson, president and chief executive of the Swedish energy company Vattenfall, said: "Let's shoot for the emissions target and let everything else follow from that." McManus said that the EU should concentrate on hitting the CO2 reduction target.

Wulf Bernotat, chief executive of German energy giant E.On, said that the targets were too focused on the renewables target. He expressed concern at growing public opposition to electricity generation from both coal and gas, saying that if you moved away from both fuel sources at the same time "the lights go out".

by MaBozza (greig.aitken AT gmail.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 11:06:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:44:23 PM EST
Opinion: New Police Cars Not Enough for Middle East Peace | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 25.06.2008
Mideast talks in Berlin might not have produced dramatic results, says DW's Peter Philipp, but if the international community insists that Israelis and Palestinians compromise, progress could be made.

Tuesday's meeting in Berlin barely deserved to be called a Middle East conference. Generally, the term refers to gatherings geared either to kick-starting or furthering peace efforts, and Berlin was no such gathering.

Nonetheless, one positive development was that representatives from over forty countries said they were ready to offer the Palestinians financial support in reinforcing their police and legal institutions. After all, the international community sees functioning security and justice systems as prerequisites for any Palestinian state which is to peacefully co-exist with an Israel based on equally functioning security and justice systems.

However, this was by no means the only reason the German government called the conference in Berlin. In Annapolis late last year, Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged to reach a two-state agreement this year. This might be a deadline which no one has any faith in, but Berlin nonetheless decided that practical support was called for, not least in order to allay any Palestinian suspicions sparked by gushing statements made by German politicians and the chancellor in particular on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Israeli state.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dangers of Energy Crops: Oxfam Warns Poor Nations against Biofuels - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Biofuels have pushed up world food prices and won't ease global warming, a new Oxfam report warns. Developing nations, the organization argues, should "move with extreme caution" before switching from staple food crops.

 Biodiesel made from castor beans at a refinery in Brazil. Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, still sees great potential in biofuels, but Oxfam isn't so sure. The backlash against biofuels gained momentum on Tuesday when Oxfam International, the anti-poverty group, claimed in a new report that 30 percent of the recent rise in global food prices could be traced to the shift in world agriculture toward energy crops (more...).

The report criticized biofuel policies in Europe (more...) and the United States, and warned developing nations to "move with extreme caution" before raising lucrative biofuel crops at the expense of staple foods.

"Rich countries' demands for more biofuels in their transport fuels are causing spiralling production and food inflation," said Oxfam biofuel policy adviser Rob Bailey, the report's author, at a news conference. "Grain reserves are now at an all-time low."

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel shuts Gaza crossings as truce doubts grow | World news | guardian.co.uk

Israel closed its border crossings into Gaza today as doubts grew about a week-old ceasefire agreed with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Israeli military officials said the closure was a response to the firing of four rockets from Gaza into southern Israel yesterday. The rockets, which lightly injured two people, were fired by the militant group Islamic Jihad, which said it was responding to the killing of one of its commanders in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day.

"Any reopening [of the crossings] will be in accordance with security considerations," said Peter Lerner, an Israeli military liaison official.

The closure today prevented any delivery of fuel to Gaza's one power station. The industrial diesel for the plant is paid for by the European Union.

Under the ceasefire, Israel and the Palestinian militant groups were supposed to halt violence in the Gaza Strip and Israel was to ease its tough economic blockade of the territory. But in addition to yesterday's rockets, Palestinian reports suggested two farmers - one on Monday and another today - had been shot and injured by Israeli troops while working on land in Gaza close to the Israeli border fence. The Israeli military said it had no knowledge of the incidents.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:53:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The War On Tourism - Moon of Alabama

As someone who has traveled quite a but in the U.S., on business trips and on vacation tours, I am dismayed with all the new regulations that make such trips psychological and physical very uncomfortable.


  • The U.S. will pick up at least 15 personal data entities about someone coming from Europe through the flight operator. It will keep that data for at least 15 years and may distribute it to who knows who.
  • The traveler will have to fill out some some stupid from on a U.S. government website at least three days prior to boarding the plane.
  • On arrival the guest's laptop may be seized without cause and without knowing when, if ever, it will be given back. Data on a mobile phone or memory sticks may get copied.
  • Also on arrival fingerprints will be taken and checked against some mysterious database. Soon the same procedure will apply when the traveler leaves the country.
  • The newest idea in Congress is to charge some $25 entrance fee to the U.S. Guess what for ... to promote foreign tourism to the U.S.
by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:54:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Give it a couple of years for the EU to copy these ideas.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 02:36:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses your laptop, your fingerprints, your cell phone numbers.

Welcome to Amerika.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 07:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Report sees big jump in energy, fossil fuel use - Examiner.com

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Despite persistently high oil prices, global energy demand will grow by 50 percent over the next two decades with continued heavy reliance on environmentally troublesome fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, the government predicted Wednesday.

The report forecast the steepest increases in China and other emerging economies where energy demand is expected to be 85 percent greater in 2030 than it is today.

"What jumps out is the very strong growth in the emerging economies," said Guy Caruso, head of the federal Energy Information Administration, which conducted the long-term energy outlook.

The projections said that without mandatory actions to address global warming, the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide flowing into the atmosphere each year from energy use will be 51 percent greater in 2030 than it was three years ago.

"Fossil fuels ... are expected to continue supplying much of the energy used worldwide," the report predicts, in spite of the growth of renewable energy sources, especial wind and biofuels.

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nelson Mandela attacks Zimbabwe's 'tragic failure of leadership' - Times Online

Nelson Mandela accused President Mugabe of a "tragic failure of leadership" last night, as southern Africa turned its back on the Zimbabwean leader.

Mr Mandela spoke of his concern and sadness at the chaos engulfing Zimbabwe, amid clear indications that the patience of Mr Mugabe's remaining allies was at breaking point.

Wielding the moral authority of the world's best-known statesman, Mr Mandela broke his silence at a fundraising event to mark his 90th birthday celebrations in London.

Hours before he spoke, Zimbabwe's neighbours presented a united front for the first time and urged Mr Mugabe to call off Friday's presidential vote.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:03:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Got this one from a friend who posted it on their Facebook board.

Foreign Affairs The Future of American Power

Summary:  Despite some eerie parallels between the position of the United States today and that of the British Empire a century ago, there are key differences. Britain's decline was driven by bad economics. The United States, in contrast, has the strength and dynamism to continue shaping the world -- but only if it can overcome its political dysfunction and reorient U.S. policy for a world defined by the rise of other powers.

Mandatory Europe is Doomed Conclusion

But Europe has one crucial disadvantage. Or, to put it more accurately, the United States has one crucial advantage over Europe and most of the developed world. The United States is demographically vibrant. Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that the U.S. population will increase by 65 million by 2030, whereas Europe's population will remain "virtually stagnant." Europe, Eberstadt notes, "will by that time have more than twice as many seniors older than 65 than children under 15, with drastic implications for future aging. (Fewer children now means fewer workers later.) In the United States, by contrast, children will continue to outnumber the elderly. The United Nations Population Division estimates that the ratio of working-age people to senior citizens in western Europe will drop from 3.8:1 today to just 2.4:1 in 2030. In the U.S., the figure will fall from 5.4:1 to 3.1:1."

The only real way to avert this demographic decline is for Europe to take in more immigrants. Native Europeans actually stopped replacing themselves as early as 2007, and so even maintaining the current population will require modest immigration. Growth will require much more. But European societies do not seem able to take in and assimilate people from strange and unfamiliar cultures, especially from rural and backward regions in the world of Islam. The question of who is at fault here -- the immigrant or the society -- is irrelevant. The reality is that Europe is moving toward taking in fewer immigrants at a time when its economic future rides on its ability to take in many more. The United States, on the other hand, is creating the first universal nation, made up of all colors, races, and creeds, living and working together in considerable harmony. Consider the current presidential election, in which the contestants have included a black man, a woman, a Mormon, a Hispanic, and an Italian American.

I have a real feeling that our man Fareed has concluded that "Europe" has stopped replacing itself bcause the 2007 reflect the acession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU, dragging down the mean. Of course according to Zakaria's read of this we can conclude that those cheese eating surrender monkeys in France will soon be but a shadow of their former number.  After all its not like the French population is growing.....

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:24:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Could we rather please conclude that the proper challenge for Europe is how to build a society that adapts to stagnant or slightly declining populations? If we are to begin to get a crack on worldwide overpopulation issues, I don't see how the richer nations can argue that there is a need for more children. Indefinite growth in a finite world is not possible. Concluding that each generation needs to be larger than the previous one to maintain the current economic system is indicative of a problem with that system, not of a need for higher birthrates.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:35:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course you're right about finite resources, and the need to limit growth.

But the thing that shocks me is how Zakaria flippantly ignores that he paints the problem as own of a lack of vitality due to poor economic ideas, yet many of the countries I assume he would attack for their economics are the same ones that are experiencing population growth.

Consider also that GDP does not account for leisure time.  So that all other things being equal, a nation in which the workweek is 45 hours will have a GDP a full third more than one in which the workweek is 35 hours.

(Neo)Liberal economics is not the answer. There are limits to growth, not the least of which are allowing workers a life outside the workplace and the devastation that unending growth has on the environment.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:50:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some more reflections in:Socratic Economics XI: Demographics
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 11:08:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two fun graphs from this INED note (pdf):

A New Kind of Empire seems to work out fine for Europe...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 07:23:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the US will surpass the EU15 around 2045? [Europe.Is.Doomed™ Alert]

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 07:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:45:02 PM EST
Forest fire on outskirts of Athens causes power cuts, sends smoke over city; arson suspected - International Herald Tribune

ATHENS, Greece: A large forest fire on the outskirts of Athens knocked out power in the Greek capital Wednesday and sent a large cloud of smoke over the city.

The fire burning on Mount Hymettus was headed north, away from Athens, and was not threatening homes, Fire Service officials said. The mayor of the town where the fire broke out said he suspects arson.

The blaze damaged a major power line, causing blackouts for more than an hour in central Athens and several other parts of the city.

The Fire Service said eight planes and three helicopters had been sent to help fight the blaze, which broke out near Glyka Nera, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of Athens.

"The fire started in broad daylight. I think it was arson," Glyka Nera mayor Giorgos Siokos said. "Land-grabbers have targeted this area many times in the past. This time they have burned the mountain."

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:53:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isaid this last year but it still applies, a reserved natural area that is attacked by arson must be placed off limits to development for 25 years while it regenerates.

It would stop them in their tracks completely.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:02:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Canton of Glarus to officially exonerate Anna Göldi who was executed for witchcraft in 1782. - swissinfo
The central canton of Glarus will officially exonerate Anna Göldi on Wednesday, more than two centuries after she was beheaded for poisoning a child.

Regarded as the last witch to be executed in Europe, Göldi's case in the village of Mollis in 1782 was a tragic illustration of religious fanaticism, superstition and the abuse of power.

The case received renewed attention after local journalist Walter Hauser published a book last year presenting new evidence about the undue influence Göldi's master had over the village authorities.

Hauser told swissinfo what drew him to the story. "Firstly I come from canton Glarus, it's my home, and I am also a lawyer and that's why I wanted to research this case. You could say that I was predestined to write about this subject."

by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:20:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm Sure anna will be grateful...oh too late. Maybe we should alos hang her accusers......oh too late.

why do we do this ? apologise for stuff done by our ancestors whilst we commit crimes today and tomorrow against entire other peoples.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
swissinfo: Canton of Glarus to officially exonerate Anna Göldi who was executed for witchcraft in 1782
But the Glarus authorities noted that the exoneration should not give the impression that today's generation assumes responsibility for the history of the ancient villagers.
So why bother?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Göldi's case in the village of Mollis in 1782 was a tragic illustration of religious fanaticism, superstition and the abuse of power.


"... You could say that I was predestined to write about this subject."

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 06:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dig shows Paris is 3,000 years older than first thought - Europe, World - The Independent

Paris has long been known to be a very old city but its history as a settlement has just been extended by more than 3,000 years.

An archaeological dig, whose findings were revealed yesterday, moves back Paris's first known human occupation to about 7600BC, in the Mesolithic period between the two stone ages.

An area about the size of a football field on the south-western edge of the city, close to the banks of the river Seine, has yielded thousands of flint arrowheads and fragments of animal bone. The site, between the Paris ring road and the city's helicopter port, is believed by archaeologists to have been used, nearly 10,000 years ago, as a kind of sorting and finishing station for flint pebbles washed up on the banks of the river. Once the dig is complete, the site will be occupied by a plant for sorting and recycling the refuse generated by the two million Parisians of the 21st century.

"You could say that we've come full circle," said Bénédicte Souffi, one of the two archaeologists in charge of the site. "Our ancestors were sorting rubbish from usable objects here in 7600BC. We are going to be doing much the same thing on a more elaborate scale. Maybe, there is a lesson there."

by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 12:58:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monks' sacred songs sell, drawing attention to their source in Vienna - International Herald Tribune

HEILIGENKREUZ, Austria: As noon draws near, the monks glide into the church, their white cowls billowing behind them. They line up in silence, facing each other in long choir stalls. Wood carvings of saints peer down on them from the austere Romanesque nave.

Bells peal and the chant begins -- low at first, then swelling as all the monks join in. Their soft voices wash over the ancient stones, replacing the empty clatter of the day with something like the sound of eternity.

Except, that is, for the clicks of a camera held by a photographer lurking behind a stone pillar.

It has been like this since last spring, when word got out that the Cistercian monks of the Stift Heiligenkreuz, deep in the Vienna woods, had been signed by Universal Music to record an album of Gregorian chants.

by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:13:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 03:45:28 PM EST
Queen strips Robert Mugabe of knighthood in 'revulsion' at violence - Times Online

Robert Mugabe has been stripped of his honorary knighthood, as the pressure grows on him to postpone Friday's run-off election.

The Queen has approved the annulment of the honour on the advice of the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, in protest at Mr Mugabe's misrule.

"This action has been taken as a mark of revulsion at the abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided," the Foreign Office said.

The move came as it emerged Nelson Mandela is planning to speak out about the situation in Zimbabwe tonight.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:06:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And we had once thought he was a hope!
As the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti, "it is necessary to want to be, while still alive, dead thing" for preferring to go down in history as a miserable man instead as a great one.
by PerCLupi on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 08:47:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cindy McCain praises Diana as 'inspiration' - Times Online

The woman who wants to be the next Republican First Lady pledged today to expand her humanitarian work if she makes it into the White House, taking inspiration from the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Speaking ahead of a political fundraiser in London tonight, Cindy McCain said that she felt "very honoured" to serve on the boad of the Halo Trust, the Anglo-American anti-landmine charity endorsed by Diana and which organised her controversial walk through an Angolan minefield in 1997, the year of her death.

Speaking to The Times, Mrs McCain said of Diana: "She was (a) great inspiration to me and to the British people as well. She was a remarkable person and had a loving heart."

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 04:07:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Her husband, of course, voted against a ban on cluster bombs.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 03:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Private Eye has a comment on the agreement, that apparently Cluster bombs aren't classed as cluster bombs unless they have more than ten bomblets inside them. This just happens to exclude the most common cluster bomb used by the US and UK.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 04:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]

BBC: A cat survived 18 hours clinging to high voltage power lines in a Wiltshire village.

When rescuers finally brought him down, the cat ran home with a note from the RSPCA attached to his collar.

It read: "Your cat's had an adventure. Can you please contact us to let us know he got home safely?"

by Sassafras on Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 05:19:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like I have today's Salon more or less to myself. Well, wherever you are, hope you have a nice day.:-)
by Fran on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 01:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Today while changing tube lines during rush hour at Holborn, it felt like I was doing Kinhin.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 08:16:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Three days ago, there was a large storm. Yesterday was very hot. Today's hot and the storm threat. I have to mow my green, but I am very weak and I am very tired. I prefer the camp as "landscape".
by PerCLupi on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 at 08:53:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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