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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 28 June

by Fran Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:07:25 PM EST

On this date in history:

1712 - Birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Swiss philosopher, literary figure, and composer of the Enlightenment whose political philosophy influenced the French Revolution, the development of liberal and socialist theory. (d. 1778)

More here and here


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by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:08:01 PM EST
Firestorm in Swedish media over 'EU blogger registry' - EUobserver

Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.

Politicians of all political stripes and most major media outlets have since furiously attacked the idea as another example of Big Brother snooping into people's daily lives, while the MEP at the heart of the controversy has been compared to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The papers later specified that the proposal had originated in a month-old report on media pluralism from the parliament - a document that has little legal weight - and intended to clarify the legal situation of bloggers, but by then the debate in the press had already reached a fevered pitch.

"Exchange the EU for China, and you would have a real media outcry," wrote Sören Karlsson, publisher of the daily Helsingborgs Dagblad and himself an eager blogger, who damned the 'blogger registry' as a threat to freedom of speech.

"We would have found it insane."

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See also the diary by Starvid:

European Tribune - EU to ban blogs

On September 22 this fall, the European Parliament will vote on the legal position of the European Tribune and all other blogs. The resolution which will include measures to make legal action against blogs easier, regulate the content of blogs, and require licensing and registering to operate a blog is sponsored by Estonian Socialist MEP Marianne Mikko.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So does something happen on Sept 22nd or not ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 06:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A vote in Parliament. I am not sure whether the text can be amended in the process.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:32:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aviation industry attacks mandatory 'polluter pays' principle - EUobserver

The aviation industry has reacted angrily to a fresh deal between the European Parliament and EU governments to make airlines a part of a pollution-reducing scheme from 2012, saying that policymakers have "completely disregarded the future" of the sector.

On Thursday (26 June), negotiators from the parliament and the council agreed that in three-and-a-half years, airline companies would take part in the EU's emissions trading system (ETS), seen as the cornerstone of efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

The airline industry reacted with dismay to the deal

All aircraft taking off or landing in the 27-nation bloc, including those operated by non-European companies, will be obliged to buy 15 percent of their permits to produce carbon dioxide in ETS auctions.

In addition, carriers will have to keep emitted greenhouse gases under certain limits. In 2012, the cap will be set at 97 percent of average emissions levels during the baseline years of 2004-2006. This will be reduced to 95 percent from 2013 to 2020.

The airline industry reacted with dismay to the deal, warning that the new rules are likely to cripple the industry's competitiveness and result in higher bills for customers.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:14:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pollutee pays is much better, clearly.

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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:26:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe Must Abandon 'Tunnel-Vision' on Emmisions Trading

Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament to put aside their single-minded focus on emissions trading and deliver real progress in reducing aviation emissions with a Single European Sky.

"I urge the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission to support our successful strategy with concrete measures and to stop plans to punish airlines and travellers with an ETS that will only invite international legal battles," said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA.

"When it comes to aviation, Europe's governments have lost the plot," said Bisignani.

  "Tunnel-vision on emissions trading is no solution at all. Airlines are working hard to reduce their 2% share of global carbon emissions. Europe is fixated on punitive measures. Unilaterally bringing aviation into the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) seeks to limit mobility and adds EUR 4.2 billion to the cost of travel. But reducing emissions is more effective than charging for them," said Bisignani.

IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:44:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament to put aside their single-minded focus on emissions trading and deliver real progress in reducing aviation emissions with a Single European Sky.

What does the Single European Sky have to do with emissions reduction?

The Single European Sky is a European Commission initiative by which the design, management and regulation of airspace will be harmonised throughout the European Union. This is expected to benefit all airspace users by ensuring the safe and efficient utilisation of airspace and the air traffic management system within and beyond the EU. Airspace management is planned to move away from the previous domination by national boundaries to the use of 'functional airspace blocks' the boundaries of which will be designed to maximise the efficiency of the airspace. Within the airspace, air traffic management, while continuing to have safety as its primary objective, will also be driven by the requirements of the airspace user and the need to provide for increasing air traffic. The aim is to use air traffic management that is more closely based on desired flight patterns leading to greater safety, efficiency and capacity.
Nothing about emissions in the Eurocontrol page on the SES.

A press release by the IATA contains the following claim

i outlined a vision for a carbon-free industry, "Air transport must become an industry that does not pollute--zero emissions, but we can only achieve that if politicians replace empty promises on the environment with real results. Too often the actions of governments are inconsistent and irresponsible. A SES could save up to 12 million tonnes of CO2, but instead of action, we have a European circus--fifteen years of talks, talks, and nothing but talks. It's time for some real results."
Global annual emissions by the airline industry are maybe 100 times that, of which maybe 1/3 are from Europe.

Euractiv explains:

This fragmentation has negative repercussions in terms of the efficiency of Europe's air travel because airlines have to cut across numerous air-traffic control systems in order to get to their destination. It also causes safety concerns by creating additional traffic jams in the air and adds to air pollution by forcing planes to fly extra kilometres and assume holding patterns when airborne before being able to land in Europe's busy airports.
This page claims 16 million ton CO2 savings, that being "10%" of total CO2 emissions from aviation. The same figure is given by the IHT: EU seeks to overhaul air traffic control (June 22, 2008)
Faced with congested skies, airport delays and growing carbon emissions from aircraft, the European Union will this week seek to overhaul its aviation management system in a move that could save €2 billion to €3 billion in fuel costs and cut carbon dioxide output by up to 16 million tons a year.
The link with Emissions Trading is mentioned here
Equally importantly, the environmental costs of airspace fragmentation have been highlighted with the move to extend emissions trading to aviation. For every year that the Single Sky remained unrealised following the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, airlines would have to acquire permits for an estimated 12 million tonnes of CO2, arising from route inefficiencies. "Europe's politicians must realise that the Single Sky is inseparable from their ambitious climate change targets", said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus.


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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 05:08:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
What does the Single European Sky have to do with emissions reduction?

Well, we have this from the Commission, 25 June 2008:

Rapid - Press Releases - EUROPA

The European Commission adopted today the second package of legislation for a Single European Sky (SES II). These proposals aim to further improve safety, cut costs and reduce delays.

That will in turn mean lower fuel consumption, so that airlines could save up to 16 million tons of CO2 emissions and cut their annual cost by between two and three billion euros.

This full reform of the European air traffic management system will be key to managing the doubling of traffic expected by 2020. Not only airline passengers, but also freight forwarders and military and private aviation will benefit. The package will create additional jobs in aviation. Meanwhile, European manufacturing industry will gain from being at the forefront of innovation in air traffic management technology (i.e. satellite based systems - Galileo, datalink, etc.), thus giving it a competitive edge on global markets.
...

That Single European Sky thing is very complex: it's not only about regular airlines but also leisure, sport, military and not at least private aviation(wich do not pay their part of the costs).
It's a huge effort: technical (radars, data-links, GPS and Galileo (even maybe Glonass)-compatibel.....), new contol centers to be build, software, operator-training....
and:

38 states are currently committed to the SES initiative:
  • The 27 Member States of the EU;
  • The 9 countries that form part of the European Common Aviation Area signed in 2005: Norway, Iceland and the states of the former Yugoslavia.
  • Switzerland and Morocco, which have signed a bilateral agreement with the EU.              

For more detailed info: Single European Sky Second Package (SES II) - Q&A

In very short: Europe is working on it since years, invested more than a billion € (aviation industry pays only about 30% of that) and in the field there are already implementations (via Eurocontrol):
For instance from 17 June:Press releases

Cassis project carries out first flight trials at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm
EUROCONTROL recently initiated a first series of flight trials at Arlanda Airport in order to validate the airborne controlled time of arrival (CTA) functionality.....

But of course, the whole thing is based upon the assumption that aviation will double by 2020....<cough>...

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 05:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the whole thing is based upon the assumption that aviation will double by 2020....<cough>...

For a plane lover, you're surprisingly sceptical of the aviation industry.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sceptical? Reading ET I thought to be more realistic.

For instance from a discussion I had elswhere:

Boeing is searching for new (cheaper) fuels: now they are testing bio-fuel based on Jatropha. A B-747 will fly on it by the end of this year wit a plane from Air-New Zeeland. Lots of people on aviation forums are enthousiastic and believe there are viable solutions.
So I made this calculation:(based on a high-end yield of 680liter/hectare of Jatropha

According the Airbus-A380 specifications, you need 300.000 liters to fill it up.
It means: 300.000/680 = 441 hectare of land for 1 (one) fill-up. Assuming this bird needs 100 fill-ups a year this means we need 44.100 hectare of Jatropha!

Belgium has about 700.000 hectare of arable land: this means: 700.000/44.100 = 16 (rounded): We can fly 16 A-380's if we cultivate Jatropha on 100% of our land.


I didn't have any replies sofar....  

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 08:34:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 08:36:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can fly 16 A-380's if we cultivate Jatropha on 100% of our land.

Well, that's good, according to Wikipedia only 16 A380s have been produced so far...

Anyway... Looking at the A380's specs we have 310,000 litres of fuel to transport 853 people 15,200 km at mach 0.85...

So roughly that's 40 person-km per litre of fuel at 1000 Km/h, and one hectare of Jatropha is good for 2720 person-km per year.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 09:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
The airline industry reacted with dismay to the deal, warning that the new rules are likely to cripple the industry's competitiveness and result in higher bills for customers.

How's that? When I priced plane and train tickets to Sweden a few months ago the train came out around 2 times more expensive, and at 16 hours, 8 times slower. The increased fees will increase the price by how much? I would expect it would have to at least triple in order to make that particular train journey 'competitive' against the much slower train. What exactly do they believe air travel competes against?
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 04:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there's always a europe-wide air-fuel tax if they don't like carbon offsets. amounts to the same thing.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 06:52:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italian plans to fingerprint Roma criticised as 'ethnic cataloguing' - EUobserver

Italy has found itself under heavy criticism for a proposed crack-down on clandestine migration by fingerprinting Roma individuals, including children, with the European Commission admitting such a move would violate EU anti-discrimination rules and respect for fundamental rights.

According to Italian media reports, interior minister Roberto Maroni has announced plans to conduct a census under which all the Roma will be fingerprinted.

The last census showed that there are around 80,000 Roma children in Italy

"It is a proper census to guarantee that those who have the right to stay can live in decent conditions and to let us send home those who don't have the right to stay in Italy," Mr Maroni said.

The minister - a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, which entered the Silvio Berlusconi's government following elections in April - has rejected accusations of "ethnic cataloguing."

The European Commission, tasked to oversee whether EU legislation is properly applied in member states, was at first reluctant to react to "statements by a politician".

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:15:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I worked for a while with a child who had entered the UK as a refugee from Eastern Europe before the expansion.

We thought the family might be Roma (because of where they'd come from, their refugee status and because the child didn't speak the dominant language of his country of origin).

He was a troubled child, and we wondered if we could support him better by learning more. We went through all the documentation and reports we had several times.  It wasn't an oversight.  There was nothing about his origins, which we knew absolutely were more complicated than we'd been told.

We suspected that the family had suffered such persecution that they were determined to leave whatever label they'd been born with behind.

Things like this really make you see why.  

by Sassafras on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:28:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany Pays Biggest Share of Europe's Budget | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.06.2008
Germany paid more than any other country for its membership in the European Union, 114 billion euros ($179 billion). Greece got the most money from the bloc, according to a report released on Friday, June 27.

Boosting economic growth and jobs is the single most expensive part of the EU budget, surpassing cash handouts to farmers, according to figures presented by the European Commission.

Germany made the largest net contribution to the bloc's budget, paying in 7.4 billion euros more than it received back from the EU. Germany has long been the EU's biggest net contributor, paying in just over 70 billion euros over the last decade.

But in 2007, Britain overtook the Netherlands and France to become the EU's second-highest net contributor, paying out 4.2 billion euros more than it received -- despite having a 5.2-billion-euro rebate.

France dropped to third place, paying in 3 billion euros compared with the Dutch sum of 2.9 billion.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we have figures per capita and per €GDP, please?

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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:25:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See this .pdf for the figures per unit of GNI -- bottom table for 2007, the number is 'Operating budgetary balance (% GNI)'

Per capita the Dutch would have a net payment of about €175, the Germans €90, the French €47, the British €69. I think that this means that Britain will get a bigger rebate next year, though.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 07:45:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
now with pdf link
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 07:46:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that 114 billion euros is the sum of total expenditure. Not Germany's contribution.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 05:40:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Austrian leader calls for referendum if EU treaty changed - EUobserver

Austria's chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, has said that if any changes are made to the Lisbon Treaty following its rejection by Irish voters earlier this month, then it should be put to a referendum in his country.

"We think any future changes to the treaty that affect Austrian interests must be decided in Austria by a referendum," Mr Gusenbauer said in an open letter published in tabloid daily Kronen Zeitung.

The mood among the population is too negative, says Mr Gusenbauer (l)

"A lot of people are under the impression that the EU is not concerned with their real problems but that it is interested above all in looking after itself."

The letter was also signed by the president of the Social Democrats, Werner Faymann.

The social democrats are part of the ruling coalition, along with the centre-right Austrian People's Party, in Austria.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:16:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Italy cabinet offers PM immunity

The Italian cabinet of PM Silvio Berlusconi has passed a proposal to grant immunity to the highest ranking state officials while in office.

Under the measure, still to be approved by both houses of parliament, a serving prime minister cannot be prosecuted.

Critics of Mr Berlusconi have said the move is the latest attempt to shape the law to his own ends.

But he insists it will enable him to get on with his job unimpeded by what he says is a politicised judiciary.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:17:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really ahve to say it.... this is disgusting... this is really the rubicon crossing in Italy... it is a charade... and italians voted for him... and they knew and know now without any doubt the Berlusco bribe the senators...

What is the difference with any other dictature, please?

A pleasure

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

by kcurie on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 06:38:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Russians and EU to seek new pact

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and top EU officials have announced the start of talks on a new strategic partnership agreement.

The start of negotiations has been long delayed, amid strained ties under Mr Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin.

But, at a meeting with EU officials in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk, Mr Medvedev said he was looking for a "new impulse" to relations with the EU.

The talks will formally begin on 4 July in Brussels, he said.

They will primarily focus on trade - Russia is the EU's third biggest trading partner and half of all Russian exports go to the EU.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:17:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Medvedev makes nice to the EU - International Herald Tribune

KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia: The food was nouvelle cuisine, the wine was French and coffee was served on a terrace with spectacular countryside views. At his first summit meeting with the European Union, the new Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, dispensed with the aggressive rhetoric of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, and tried a new tactic on the Europeans: being nice to them.

Six hours' flying time from Brussels, in the heart of the Russian oil-producing region, the EU and Russia on Friday opened long-awaited negotiations on a partnership agreement, saying that a "new page" had been turned in their fractious dealings.

From the moment the top EU officials met with their Russian counterparts for a dinner Thursday night preceding the formal negotiations, the Europeans noted the contrast between the 42-year-old former lawyer, Medvedev, and his more hard-nosed predecessor.

According to one EU official present at the restaurant, which overlooks the confluence of two Siberian rivers, Medvedev seemed almost shy at the start of the meal of borscht en gelée followed by pheasant, allowing others to open subjects for debate rather than laying down the law. When discussing the allocation of visas to Europeans working in Russia, the president said that Moscow had been in the wrong.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:21:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Téléprésident: Sarkozy tightens his grip over French state TV | World news | The Guardian

Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to increase government control over state TV yesterday sparked an outcry from his political opponents who accused him of tightening a Berlusconi-style grip on the airwaves and dragging France back into its dark age of postwar censorship and propaganda.

The French president's proposed "cultural revolution" for France's five state TV channels prompted an uproar when he announced that in future, he and his cabinet would appoint the head of French state TV, instead of an independent body.

Sarkozy, known as the Téléprésident, prides himself on his numerous TV appearances, carefully studies his own ratings and has privately confided that he would have liked to have been a TV executive. So it was no surprise that he took direct control of the project to overhaul French state TV. He argued that a government appointment of the head of France Televisions was more "democratic". This has reopened the festering row over the president's influence over the media and closeness to his press and TV baron friends who are willing to lean on, censor or even sack journalists who displease him.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:18:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering that the current president of France Television got his job because he had shown  swooning documentaries over the precedent president's wife, that sounds hardly like a change.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 06:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Investigation Launched Into Kosovo Organ Trafficking | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.06.2008
Europe's human rights watchdog will investigate allegations that Kosovo rebels were involved in trafficking human organs at the end of the Kosovo War in 1999.

The Council of Europe appointed Swiss senator Dick Marty to travel to Kosovo and prepare a report on allegations of illegal organ trafficking.

The charges that Kosovo Albanian rebels had profited from selling human organs of captured Serbians was first brought forward in the book "The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals" by Carla del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

Del Ponte's book alleges that as many as 400 victims, most of them Serbs, were subjected to forced organ extraction. Human Rights Watch said it has collaborated del Ponte's allegations.

The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly decided on Wednesday, June 25, that the claims merit a full investigatation.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:19:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
VOA News - Russia's Putin Wants Venezuela's Chavez to Visit
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he is looking forward to meeting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Moscow, to discuss prospects for trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Mr. Putin made the comments to Venezuela's Vice President Ramon Carrizales during talks in Moscow Thursday. The Russian leader said it is unfortunate that the volume of trade and economic cooperation between the countries is so small.

Russian news agencies quote Carrizales as saying Mr. Chavez's visit may take place at the end of July, but they gave no specific date.

Cooperation between Russia and Venezuela has been focused on the energy and mining sectors.  Venezuela also is a major buyer of Russian weapons.
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:25:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia's Gazprom proposes natural gas stations for Europe- Oil & Gas-Energy-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times
MOSCOW: The chief executive of Russian energy giant Gazprom proposed on Friday setting up a European network of service stations for cars fuelled by natural gas, as an alternative to petrol.

"We are proposing to our European partners the creation of a network of natural gas stations in Europe with the participation of Gazprom," Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller told a shareholders' meeting in Moscow.

"Considering the price of petrol, gas is a real alternative. The price of a car running on petrol is 1.7 times more than the price of running on natural gas in Germany for example," Miller said.

"There is no realistic alternative to the use of hydrocarbons at the moment and there won't be for decades to come. The attempt to replace car fuel with biofuel has led to a global food crisis," he said.

Gazprom, a state-controlled monopoly, controls a quarter of the world's gas reserves, supplies around a quarter of Europe's gas and is planning to increase its role in the gas retail business in Europe.
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's go electric, WTF?

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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US Embassy in London's unpaid road tolls -- Newsday.com
LONDON - The U.S. Embassy in London has failed to pay more than $3.9 million in traffic congestion charges, according to figures published Thursday by Britain's foreign ministry.

British lawmakers condemned U.S. diplomats, after they topped a list of embassies refusing to pay the charge.

The list of fees owed by embassies showed that the United States refused to pay the levy 23,188 times between February 2003 and last month.

Japan has racked up the second largest amount of outstanding fees, owing more than $2.6 million.
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny how the press pushes the issue now that Boris is Mayor, and didn't to the same extent when Ken raised it a couple of years ago.

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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought boris was gonna scrap the congestion charge ?

Or is this yet another case of boris dropping a populist policy as soon as it was no longer needed to got him elected ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 06:57:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He only opposed the Western Extension (to Kensington and Chelsea).

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Madrid moves to block vote in Basque region - International Herald Tribune

The Basque regional Parliament narrowly approved plans Friday for a nonbinding referendum seen as a veiled push for separation from Spain, setting up a clash with the central government.

The Spanish government vowed to block a referendum, saying it would be unconstitutional. "The plan will be appealed and suspended," said Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

The government will file a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court, the highest court in Spain. The court's agreement to consider the motion would automatically suspend plans for the referendum, which the Basque authorities want to hold Oct. 25.

The referendum would put two questions to a vote. The first asks Basques if they favor a negotiated solution to the separatist conflict if the armed militant group ETA is willing to end violence.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:27:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there any Basques in the Euro 2008 team?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:32:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Xabi Alonso.

Iker (Casillas) sounds like a Basque name to me, but he was born in Madrid.

(Fernando) Navarro would be, well, an originally Navarran name.

(Álvaro) Arbeloa also sounds like a Basque name, though he was born in Salamanca.

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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:44:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just heard anecdotal evidence that people in the Basque Country and Catalonia who would like to follow (and celebrate) the Spanish Football Team's performance in the European Cup have to do it in the privacy of their own home as opposed to a bar, let alone a giant TV screen as has been set up in many towns in the rest of Spain.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 05:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Murdoch Alert] Tesco and Asda fire first shots in food price war: Cheaper groceries despite soaring costs (June 27, 2008)
Tesco and Asda are to cut the cost of thousands of everyday groceries in a move that threatens to start an all-out supermarket price war.

...

Supermarkets are having to reduce prices despite soaring costs because cash-strapped families are cutting back on their weekly shopping to afford higher electricity and gas charges, motoring expenses and mortgages.

The credit crunch has triggered a radical change in the way that Middle England shops for food, with recent figures showing an unprecedented sales boom at budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl.



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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 05:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see either tesco or Asda beating lidl or aldi in a head to head price war. And i can't see asda or Tesco cutting prices when they don't have to. So I think this isn't about aldi or lidl but a veneer on a market-share tussle between the big two.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:00:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, but if Tesco and Asda get into a serious price war, one of them might end up gobbling up the other. If I am not mistaken, Tesco has the deeper pockets and the larger earnings.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asda is a trojan horse for Wal-Mart. It really depends on how much wal-Mart want to spend.

Frankly the winner in this will be Waitrose and Sainsbury's.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy stirs revolt against Mandelson - Europe, World - The Independent

The explosive clash of personalities, and policies, between the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the European Union's trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, is threatening to detonate another European crisis.

France, which takes over the EU presidency for six months on Tuesday, announced yesterday that it has convened an unscheduled meeting of the 27 governments to - in effect - call into question Mr Mandelson's negotiating position in the stalled world trade talks.

Although M. Sarkozy will not be present at the meeting in Paris, it will inevitably be overshadowed by his outburst at the Brussels summit last week when he accused Mr Mandelson of provoking the Irish "no" vote in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on EU reform because his proposals for freeing world trade were so unpopular.

President Sarkozy said that "only" Mr Mandelson thought that it was sensible to offer a 21 per cut in European food production when "a child dies of starvation every 30 seconds" in the Third World.

by Fran on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 02:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this is good, Mandelson is part of the neocon (neofuedalist) consensus. If he goes it's just Barosso.

Definitely with sarko on this, even if his reasons are bunk.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:06:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just Barroso? You forget McCreevy.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:30:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One less is good enough if it's mandelson.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:40:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Party politics of holding children's parties in Sweden - Times Online

It was supposed to be a party with balloons and a birthday cake but the eight-year-old Swedish boy had not reckoned on his country's obsession with equality and inclusiveness. Two of his classmates were left off the invitation list - and that, deemed his school - was forbidden and a violation of their rights in the strictest "nanny state" in Europe.

The case has been sent to the Swedish parliament and has sparked a national debate about individual liberty. Does a child have the right to invite anyone he wants to a party, even if he risks hurting the feelings of those who were left out?

These issues are taken seriously in a society that has a very active Children's Ombudsman and which encourages children to voice their complaints about school and society. Sweden is the best place in the world to grow up, according to the Save the Children Fund's 2008 index. So much so, apparently, that adults and school managers have been put on the defensive.

The Swedish pressure group Children's Rights in Society publicised recently 1,895 complaints by children about the way their parents used the household computer to access pornographic websites or sex chatlines. The Government is now looking into the problem.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 02:45:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:08:30 PM EST
Undersea Trafficking: Colombia's Cocaine Cartels Learn a New Trick - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

The Columbian drug cartels have acquired a new weapon in their arsenal. They are now using small, submarine-like semi-submersibles assembled deep in the jungle to outmaneuver drug agents and traffic cocaine to North America.

 A makeshift fiberglass submarine in Colombia used to smuggle cocaine: The cargo hold can store 10 tons of drugs.

It was only a small wave, far out at sea, but something about it was different from an ordinary one -- different enough to catch the attention of the crew of a US Navy patrol plane. Soon they recognized a small black submarine, the craft that was producing the wave.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drug Traffic Beneath the Waves


BAHIA MALAGA, Colombia -- In the annals of the drug trade, traffickers have swallowed cocaine pellets, dissolved the powder into ceramics and flown the drug as far as Africa on flimsy planes -- anything to elude detection and get a lucrative product to market. Now, the cartels seem to be increasingly going beneath the waves, relying on submarines built in clandestine jungle shipyards to move tons of cocaine.

Last year, 13 of the vessels were seized on dry land or stopped at sea by Colombian or U.S. patrol boats -- more than in the previous 14 years combined, according to the Pacific fleet of the Colombian navy, which is responsible for interdiction efforts across 130,000 square miles.

by generic on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 08:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China Through 88 Lenses: Lives Under Chinese Communism, Caught on Film - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Liu Heung Shing, a photographer with a long career in the West, has collected hard-to-find work of 88 photographers in China in a new photo book, which aims to show the sweep of ordinary life in China since 1949.

Two photos show communists on the beach: Marshal Ye Jianying, a military man in a pair of shorts, holding court over tea on a wicker table, as well as Chairman Mao himself, years earlier, sitting by the water with his family. Both photos show guarded men in unguarded moments. But there are also official communist stage extravaganzas and bloody victims of official crackdowns. China's first millionaire can also be seen lying on his Mercedes. And naked laborers are depicted hauling a boat up a rocky river bank, with ropes, in 2005.

 "That a land so big could be so oppressed, that so many people have suffered, makes me immensely angry," says Liu Heung Shing, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist whose new book, "China, Portrait of a Country" is out this summer in a multiglingual edition (German, English and French). "Naturally, Mao is behind it, but the people also followed his orders without asking questions," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:21:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Floods pretty bad in the midwest as I was there this week, some muskrat dug a den in a levee and flooded thousand more acres and many houses this morning.  Came back to california and there is smoke everywhere, all the way up from LA the ground was nearly invisible from the plane.  San Francisco airport was only using one runway due to the smoke.  Here in Napa Valley we are keeping our windows closed to try to keep the smoke out.  More lightning strikes possible tonight and we are dry as a tinderbox.  I live in a valley, a narrow valley, so we are very itchy about fires, one road runs through the valley and its narrow and windy, so we hope to dodge the bullet.

Hello to everyone, hope all are well.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 11:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's been hazy on the peninsula all week. The sun can be viewed directly through all the smoke at sunrise and sunset.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 01:38:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:09:00 PM EST
Huge Hail: Storm Damages Up to 30,000 New Volkswagens - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

A storm last Sunday with hail the size of pingpong balls left close to 30,000 brand-new cars damaged. The dents and dings might cost hundreds of millions of euros, but Volkswagen is thankfully insured.

 Hail damage might cost Volkswagen's insurers hundreds of millions of euros. While millions in northern Germany watched Spain defeat Italy Sunday in the Euro 2008 quarterfinals, a brief but violent storm outside was pelting 30,000 Volkswagen automobiles with hail the size of pingpong balls.

The vehicles were parked in the open in the northwestern German town of Emden, one of Europe's three main vehicle-transportation ports. Each year about 1 million vehicles either enter or leave the city's port, according to the Volkswagen Web site. The company employs around 7,900 people there at a plant producing the company's Passat models.

Company spokesman Christoph Adomat told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that a significant proportion of the 30,000 vehicles parked outside had suffered chipped paint or dings, although no windshields were broken. A VW spokesman told the Dow Jones Newswires that around 100 extra workers were being sent to Emden for a quality check on all the vehicles.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Treasury chief on 'wombat leave'

Australia's top treasury official is taking five weeks leave to look after endangered wombats.

Ken Henry, treasury secretary and animal conservationist, has warned that hairy-nosed wombats are "on death row".

But opposition politicians - and even wombat lovers - question if now is the time to be thinking about wombats.

Inflation is at a 16-year high, interest rates are up and fuel prices are rising. Mr Henry will also miss a central bank meeting.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:16:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
Mr Henry will also miss a central bank meeting.

And you can tell he's upset about that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 05:23:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europeans abandoning landlines in favour of mobiles - EUobserver

Almost a quarter of Europeans have ditched their landline phones in favour of mobile ones, while the number of those using their computers to make calls has also increased, according to a survey released by the European Commission on Friday (27 June).

Some 24 percent of EU households have cancelled their landlines and are only using a mobile phone, according to the poll.

Some 24 percent of EU households only have a mobile phone and no landline

The number is higher in the EU states that joined the bloc in 2004 (39%) than in the 15 "old" ones (20%), except for Finland (61%) and Portugal (48%).

The Czech Republic tops the list of households using only a mobile phone at 64 percent, while those only having a landline are most numerous in Bulgaria, Germany and France.

One fifth of the respondents to the survey also still use paid public phones (22%) - with the figures being the highest in Austria and Spain.

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:20:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be households that don't make international calls... or do they use skype for that?

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 Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:23:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anecdotally I seem to have met quite a lot of people (some who I wouldn't ahve expected) who have moved to using Skype for international calls.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:36:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have, completely.  I still use my office landline or mobile for work-related international calls (I make a lot of them) but I make all my personal international calls with Skype, and have for a few years.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 04:05:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and households that can make mobile calls without leaning out of upstairs windows and when the wind is blowing in the right direction.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 05:18:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have house in the middle of nowhere, will travel...

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
its also the reason you get pictures from the bottom of my garden, the signal is only really clear behind the hedge.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 08:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
risking ridicule on a site full of technophilic early adopters, but what's skype ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a computer program that lets you make telephone calls over the Internet.  You can call other Skype users (computer-to-computer) for free, and pay very low per-minute rates to make calls to real-world phones.  I also have a US phone number that people can call to reach me at my computer, or I can have calls forwarded to my cellphone or another real-world phone number (again for a small fee).

Handy.

Skype.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also useful if you don't want to be surveilled:
Internet telephone encryption stumps police - VoIP - Connectivity - Technology

German police are unable to decipher the encryption used in the internet telephone software Skype to monitor calls by suspected criminals and terrorists, Germany's top police officer said on Thursday.

...

"The encryption with Skype telephone software ... creates grave difficulties for us," Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany's Federal Police Office (BKA) told reporters at an annual gathering of security and law enforcement officials.

"We can't decipher it. That's why we're talking about source telecommunication surveillance -- that is, getting to the source before encryption or after it's been decrypted."


For the last bit, if you do the encryption/decryption correctly (on the sending/receiving computer) they would need spyware to get the unecrypted audio. (Which you should be able to protect yourself from. Use open source platforms!) Add to this the fact that you can destroy the keys after each call, and I don't see how they can do much about it.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks. And yes, seriously. If you're not techno minded and don't have the cash or inclination to spend on gadgets, you get left behind very easily.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:43:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is true, but the next generation seems to keep up pretty well with mobile and Internet evolution.

I have to track quite a lot of different technology areas to keep up with my customers, and it drives me barmy sometimes.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:55:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There used to be some nasty trapdoors in earlier versions of Skype, I don't know if the latest version has fixed these. It was one reason for my not adopting it. In any case I have a cheap international call rate for nominated numbers.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never adopted it because it needed windows...

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:59:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Skype 2.6 is for Mac OS 10.3 and over

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 08:03:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been using it on my Mac for the last year, no problems other than I've been too lazy to configure the computer for my headset, so I just use the built-in speakers and mic, which work fine.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 08:09:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lazy = CBBTRTI

<can't be bothered to read the instructions>

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 09:44:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Instructions ?? If it's written like a normal manual, it's written for somebody who already knows the answer but just needs a jogging reminder of something obscure.

normal people dream in vain for an instruction manual for a computer.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 02:41:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The writers who do technical manuals for eg Nokia are very well paid and they do a good job imo. The 'help' in Mac OS is also very good - simple language, step by step instructions with additional layers of detail that you can dig into if you need. I don't think I've ever consulted an Apple printed manual - the answer is there when you need it.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 06:42:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy wants Mediterranean diet listed as 'endangered' by Unesco - Times Online

The Italian Parliament has appealed to Unesco to save the Mediterranean diet by recognising it as part of the world's heritage.

A Bill drawn up by Paolo De Castro, the former agriculture minister, was passed unanimously by the Italian Senate, with Left and Right sinking their differences to defend "part of the Italian way of life". The initiative is also backed by Spain, Greece and Morocco.

All four countries are asking Unesco -- the UN's educational and cultural arm -- to protect the Mediterranean diet, which they say is threatened by the spread of fast food and convenience foods. "Science has long recognised the unusual health properties of the Mediterranean diet, which is part of the common cultural identity of Mediterranean countries." Mr De Castro said.

The Unesco heritage list is best known for its historic and cultural sites, but has been extended to include "intangible heritage", such as endangered languages or traditions. Once adopted by all four nations, the proposal to include the Mediterranean diet will be handed to Unesco by the end of the summer. It is expected to decide next year whether to accept the idea.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:23:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fairy-tale town of Marburg up in arms over decree on solar panels - Europe, World - The Independent

The university town of Marburg is where the Brothers Grimm collected many of their fairy tales, and the cobbled streets and medieval buildings look like they could have come straight out of one of their illustrated children's books.

Now, following the approval of a new law, the quaint red-tiled roofs may soon have to be adorned with solar panels and the usually genteel residents are up in arms.

From October this year it will be mandatory for solar panels to be installed on new buildings, as well as those being expanded, altered or renovated. Any property owner who fails to comply will face a fine of at least €1,000 (£790).

The city's governing coalition of Greens and Social Democrats hailed the measure as a landmark, which placed Marburg at the cutting edge of Germany's rigorous campaign to cut carbon emissions by up to 40 per cent by 2020. The German branch of Greenpeace praised the city of 80,000 as a "pioneer for renewable energy". But not everyone is impressed.

Herman Uchtmann, a conservative Christian Democrat town councillor has accused the city's coalition of trying to run an "environmental dictatorship".

by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:24:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's preserve the past, to ensure that we have no future.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 07:10:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservatism in a nutshell.

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 04:59:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The leader of the story seems to target the "destruction" of the (in my perspective glorious) inner city. But how does the regulation described a few paragraphs further down immediately affect the inner city???

Fran:

From October this year it will be mandatory for solar panels to be installed on new buildings, as well as those being expanded, altered or renovated. Any property owner who fails to comply will face a fine of at least €1,000 (£790).

And then I still don't see the problem: just exclude those buildings with historical value from the solar roof scheme. Doesn't Germany have a similar regulation as in the Netherlands where historical sites and buildings are protected?

by Nomad on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 11:49:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar water heater law enacted by Lingle
By Lynda Arakawa, Honolulu Advertiser

Hawai'i has become the first state in the country to require the installation of solar water heaters in new single-family homes.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday signed into law a bill requiring home builders to include solar water heaters in new single-family dwellings beginning in 2010.

"We've always talked about Hawai'i being a role model, and here's a case where we actually are," said Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club, Hawai'i Chapter.

The measure, Act 204, has been lauded by some environmentalists and others who said it is a critical move in reducing Hawai'i's use of fossil fuels and that it would significantly cut electricity costs for new homes.

Some in the solar industry, however, have said such a mandate eliminates homeowners' right to choose how to power their homes, and developers have warned it would drive up home building costs. Opponents have also criticized the legislation because it restricts the state tax credit for solar water heaters to homes for which a building permit was issued before 2010.

The new law prohibits the issuance of building permits for single-family homes that do not include a solar water heater system beginning Jan. 1, 2010.

by Magnifico on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 08:29:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aliens or asteroid: What was blast of 1,000 Hiroshimas? - Times Online

It set off a massive explosion that flattened millions of trees in the Siberian wilderness and lit up the sky as far away as Britain.

A century later the Tunguska event still provokes intense debate over a blast 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.

This week advocates of rival theories have been holding conferences in Moscow to try to answer the question of what took place in the forests along the Tunguska River on June 30, 1908.

Most argue that the explosion was a comet or asteroid smashing into Earth. A lack of physical evidence - not least a credible impact crater - has led others to contend that the cause was a sudden eruption of gas from deep within the surface of Earth. Some even argue that an alien spacecraft blew up, or that a black hole made a freak appearance.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 02:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The lack of an impact crater is explained by the Comet theory by assuming the comet vaporized on entry into the atmosphere...

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 Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 04:58:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some good stories in Wikipedia:

Tunguska event - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"We had a hut by the river with my brother Chekaren. We were sleeping. Suddenly we both woke up at the same time. Somebody shoved us. We heard whistling and felt strong wind. Chekaren said, 'Can you hear all those birds flying overhead?' We were both in the hut, couldn't see what was going on outside. Suddenly, I got shoved again, this time so hard I fell into the fire. I got scared. Chekaren got scared too. We started crying out for father, mother, brother, but no one answered. There was noise beyond the hut, we could hear trees falling down. Chekaren and I got out of our sleeping bags and wanted to run out, but then the thunder struck. This was the first thunder. The Earth began to move and rock, wind hit our hut and knocked it over. My body was pushed down by sticks, but my head was in the clear. Then I saw a wonder: trees were falling, the branches were on fire, it became mighty bright, how can I say this, as if there was a second sun, my eyes were hurting, I even closed them. It was like what the Russians call lightning. And immediately there was a loud thunderclap. This was the second thunder. The morning was sunny, there were no clouds, our Sun was shining brightly as usual, and suddenly there came a second one! "Chekaren and I had some difficulty getting out from under the remains of our hut. Then we saw that above, but in a different place, there was another flash, and loud thunder came. This was the third thunder strike. Wind came again, knocked us off our feet, struck against the fallen trees. "We looked at the fallen trees, watched the tree tops get snapped off, watched the fires. Suddenly Chekaren yelled 'Look up' and pointed with his hand. I looked there and saw another flash, and it made another thunder. But the noise was less than before. This was the fourth strike, like normal thunder. "Now I remember well there was also one more thunder strike, but it was small, and somewhere far away, where the Sun goes to sleep."
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 08:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:09:33 PM EST
The weekend is coming and the way it looks it will be great weatherwise. Hope you all have a nice weekend. :-)
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another colourful patchwork of stories, Fran. From jungle-built submarines to solar-panelled historic roofs, with a cast of characters from meddling pleaders to a crooner turned tyrant. All on Rousseau's birthday.

Europe is surreal ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 05:36:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Queen can't afford to redecorate, Palace complains - Times Online

The man who controls the royal purse-strings has complained that the Queen cannot afford to redecorate or even maintain royal buildings such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle because of the cumulative effect of a government funding freeze.

The cost of keeping the Queen and the Royal Family rose £2 million last year to £40 million, driven largely by a packed itinerary of foreign trips. That equates to 66 pence per taxpayer for the year.

In publishing the Royal Household's annual financial report today, the Queen's accountant, Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, warned of a £32m black hole in funding, which has caused a backlog in maintenance and repair work. The Palace is also having to compete against the Olympics for more funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The Goverment has rejected repeated requests from Buckingham Palace to bolster the property grant, which is frozen at £15 million for the next three years. That has left officials unable to order asbestos removal, rewiring and re-roofing work, which they say is badly needed.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Jun 27th, 2008 at 04:23:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No sympathy. they could try not wasting money on fripperies like flying helicopters everywhere, anything Prince andrew does etc etc. and what od they need all those houses and estates for ? Sell 'em.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 07:14:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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