Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 2 August

by Fran Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:04:43 PM EST

On this date in history:

1905 - Birth of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, a German composer. Some have lauded him as the greatest German symphonist of the 20th century(d. 1963)

More here and video

Welcome to the European Salon!

This Salon is open for discussions, exchange, and gossip and just plain socializing all day long. So please enter!

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by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:05:31 PM EST
Lufthansa, Union Reach Agreement That Ends Strike | Business | Deutsche Welle | 01.08.2008
German airline Lufthansa and services union Verdi reached agreement Friday to end a pay dispute that has caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights since it began five days ago.

Lufthansa human resources chief Stefan Lauer on Friday, Aug. 1, confirmed that a deal had been reached. He and Verdi negotiations head Erhard Ott are expected to make a public statement by midday.


Lufthansa said in addition to a one-time payment, it would increase ground personnel's pay by 5.1 percent retroactively to July 1. The deal, which lasts 21 months, also calls for an additional 2.3 percent pay hike in July 2009.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurdles Still High for Gays in Eastern Europe | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 01.08.2008
Gays and lesbians in western Europe enjoy legal rights and levels of tolerance that would have been almost unthinkable 15 years ago. But in eastern Europe, hostility and discrimination against homosexuals still run deep.

Gay pride festivals dot the summer calendar all across Europe -- from Berlin to Eskilstuna, Sweden, from London to Zaragoza, Spain. These days, the events raise few eyebrows and families often bring their children along to admire men in stiletto heels and boas, or in almost nothing at all.


This weekend, 17,000 people are expected in Stockholm for EuroPride 2008, 10 days of film screenings, exhibitions and seminars and parties. About 100,000 are expected to take part in a parade on Sunday, Aug. 3.


But just a few hours' plane ride to the east of the Swedish capital, the situation is very different.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I shall be at Brighton Pride tomorrow, so will be offline all day.

Hopefully there won't be the kerfuffle at London Pride where transgendered people were prevented from using appropriate toilets. This policy led to a sexual assault on an mtf who was forced to use the male facilities. (I cannot say more as the resulting "negotiations" have reached the stage where publicity would not be helpful).

But judging by what I've seen, eastern europe is still transfixed by a macho culture in thrall to homo-erotic imagaery that cannot bear to accept the logical conclusions of such idolisation. So they blame "teh gay" for their own shortcomings, if they beat up gay guys they rid themselves of their own transgressive leanings.

Yea, right.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 04:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia: A continent unto itself - International Herald Tribune

TARUSA, Russia: The sign by the road was both apt and absurd, a telling product of Russia's crazy capitalism. At the Zarnitsa tourist camp, not only were steam baths on offer, but more. "Prodayetsya vsye," it said: Everything is for sale.

Told about the sign, several Russians reacted the same way. "You can hang it out over our whole country," said one successful Moscow businessman.

Rolling in revenue from high oil and gas prices, and driven by the national penchant for exaggeration, an ever-growing number of Russians are in eager pursuit of consumer plenty. Land, homes, furniture, vacations, cars, food, fashion, sports, anything held to signify success and choice is avidly devoured.

Each summer for the past several years, we have come here, to our dacha. On Saturday nights now, out in our once-dozy village or here in the nearby ancient town of Tarusa, fireworks soar skyward, bonfires are lit, music plays and alcohol and food are consumed in quantity. The privileged and the middle classes are on a tear, reveling with a gusto increasingly foreign to Europeans and Americans pinched by credit and housing crises.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:11:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Everything is for sale."  "You can hang it out over our whole country,"

And there it is, the crux of the current philosophy of the "civilized" world.  People evolved out of the superstition of religion and embraced materialism: "He who dies with the most toys ... WINS!" (Wins what?)  The human species went from a "sacrifice self now for reward later" philosophy (religion; believing in Santa Claus; etc.) to "express self now for reward now" (materialism).

And so my question, not to be answered here, just presented:  Is this where it ends?  Going back to religion, the old way of doing things, will not solve your current problems, won't lead you out of the woods you find yourselves lost in.  Will you create an "Eden on Earth", using your technology to protect yourselves from the asteroids that dethrowned the dinosaurs, or will you go extinct taking a slew of other species with you?  

Don't cry for the Earth.  DNA/RNA based systems have wonderful recuperative powers. So humans, what's it going to be?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 07:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EDF decision sets back UK nuclear power plans | Business | guardian.co.uk

Gordon Brown's plans to initiate the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations suffered a setback today after the dramatic collapse of a £12bn takeover deal for British Energy.

The French power giant EDF abandoned its plans to buy British Energy, the nuclear power group, after negotiations broke down unexpectedly at the last minute over the price.

The decision will hold up the construction of new nuclear power stations, which the prime minister believes are essential if Britain wants to reduce its dependence on foreign energy supplies and contribute more to the battle against climate change.

The Liberal Democrats claimed that the move left the government's energy policy "in total disarray".

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:12:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Companies / Energy Utilities Mining - Row erupts over failed EDF bid

A fierce row broke out between two of the biggest energy companies in France and Britain on Friday after Electricité de France's planned £12bn (€15bn) bid for British Energy was rejected at the last minute because shareholders said it was too low.

British Energy rejected EDF's cash offer of 765p a share late on Thursday night, saying that Inv-esco and M&G - which together hold 22 per cent of the company - were not happy with the price.

The news came just hours before EDF had planned to unveil the deal, and represents a setback to the French group's international ambitions and the UK government's plans for a new wave of reactor construction. The government owns 35 per cent of British Energy and had been prepared to support EDF's bid.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 04:47:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

One EDF board member said on Friday his group thought the UK government's support for the deal would help persuade the rebellious fund managers. "The French are used to a much more interventionist state. When the state says yes or no, the others follow," the board member said.

So now it's a failed "EDF bid", rather than a failed energy policy? Good luck with those blackouts.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 06:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they'll build nuclear come hell or high water, even if they have to pay the Iranians to do it.

And even senior memberso f the labour party are realising that building coal fired stations without carbon capture is mad. But this carbon capture.....why do they talk about it as if the technology exists ? It doesn't, it's more credible than fusion and probably less expensive but can we have one demonstration model before we base our entire energy plans around it ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 04:51:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The really depressing thing is I know some people who have put together a serious pilot proposal for Carbon Capture here in Yorkshire, they've got decent backing from various oil/gas companies (who would provide the offshore fields to put the stuff into) and even investment promises from other countries around the world.

Who won't invest in this pilot?

UK Government.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 02:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | UK in 'delusion' over emissions

The UK has been living under a delusion over its claim to be cutting greenhouse gases, according to two reports that will shake the climate change debate.

They show that instead of falling since the 1990s, UK greenhouse emissions have been growing in line with the economy.

This is dependent on emissions from aviation, shipping and imported goods being counted.

At the moment they are excluded under the internationally-agreed system for carbon accounts.

Both reports are from the respected Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) based at the University of York.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
delusion ?? I doubt it, given the deliberate misleading of the public that is SOP from HM governments of all stripes I'd suggest they've always known and thought the fact they got away with it for so long as terribly amusing.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 04:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh? Deja vu? I'm sure I've seen this twice before.

Here we go:


Guardian - Government figures hide scale of CO2 emissions

sorry, forgot to post this in Salon.

Britain's climate change emissions may be 12% higher than officially stated, according to a National Audit Office investigation which has strongly criticised the government for using two different carbon accounting systems.


UK's official CO2 figures an illusion - study | Environment | The Guardian

Britain is responsible for hundreds of millions more tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions than official figures admit, according to a new report that undermines UK claims to lead the world on action against global warming.

And I can recycle my reply:


It looks even worse when you consider all the industry that has been outsourced. The UK imports a hell of a lot of carbon.

But: I don't think the UK is lying. Emissions from international aviation and shipping are excluded from the scope of the Kyoto protocol. So it is playing by the rules. But the rules are wrong. That's one major issue that has to be addressed on the road to Copenhagen.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 05:57:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv.com - France braces itself for busy green agenda | EU - European Information on Climate Change
The French EU Presidency has outlined how it intends to make progress on the massive package of pending EU climate and energy legislation as pressure mounts on the Union to show leadership on global climate policy ahead of a key UN meeting in Copenhagen next year.

Europe "has its back to the wall" with respect to reducing CO2 emissions and proving that it can lead the fight against climate change without compromising its international competitiveness, French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told MEPs in Brussels on 15 July.

Addressing concerns that the EU's climate agenda is too costly and will put key industries, particularly in some newer member states, at risk from foreign competition, Borloo said the process would not be "not as painful as we imagine".

A number of new member states, led by Hungary, have called for a rethink of the national distribution of EU CO2 reduction targets, arguing that their economies will be compromised under the Commission's current plans (EurActiv 2/06/08).

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:14:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv.com - Interview: 'No illusions' on EU Treaty ratification | EU - European Information on EU Priorities & Opinion
EU leaders plan to return to Brussels in October to debate the Union's future after Ireland's 'no' vote. But Dominique Moïsi of the French Institute of International Relations warns the EU's French Presidency is off-course with its attempts to pressure Dublin into a revote and to "blackmail" the Czech and Polish presidents into ratification by threatening the bloc's further enlargement. 

The Irish 'no' to the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum last June represents a "warning signal for Europe", said Moïsi, who founded the IFRI and is also the chief editor of the quarterly "Politique Etrangère".

He insists that Ireland's rejection of the text is not an isolated case, calling it "the third negative referendum", after the 'non' and 'nee' votes in France and the Netherlands on the European Constitution in 2005. All this marks a "profound divorce between Europe's citizens and the European Union", warns Moïsi.

As to the practical hurdles of ratification, the analyst underlines in particular that the eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus "won't change his mind", being "determined in his euroscepticism". Poland also, will prove difficult, he adds.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The World from Berlin: 'The Worst Possible Thing for the SPD' - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Germany's Social Democrats have again stumbled into a crisis. A party arbitration committee on Thursday voted to throw SPD veteran Wolfgang Clement out of the party. But German commentators say he's a scapegoat for larger SPD woes.

 Wolfgang Clement has angered many in his party. Now, he may be out. Germany's Social Democrats had been hoping for peace and quiet this summer, maybe some time to lick their wounds. The party spent the first half of 2008 stumbling from crisis to crisis, and poll numbers plunged. Internal bickering landed the SPD in the headlines week after week. A tranquil summer vacation would have been the right antidote.

On Thursday, though, the quiet came to a screeching halt. A party arbitration commission in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia announced its verdict in the case of Wolfgang Clement, a former economy minister and prominent representative of the party's conservative wing. The commission said he has shown a lack of loyalty to his party and decided to throw him out.

The decision hit Berlin's political world like a bomb. An earlier commission dealing with his case had recommended a reprimand. No one in party headquarters expected him to be booted. Indeed, despite a hurried agreement to avoid comment until a higher committee could decide whether to overturn the decision, shock and frustration seeped out. None other than Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, not known to be one of Clement's strongest supporters, criticized the decision on Thursday.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:17:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dumb move by Steinmeier. This could have been a moment of unity in the SPD.

The SPIEGEL is really over the top in its reporting, though.

Same goes for its reporting on the 'grand coalition' government: every week brings a new crisis, or new movement towards greater crisis, based largely on anonymous sources. It's a stupifying miracle that the coalition hasn't yet fallen... if you'd go by the week to week reporting of the SPIEGEL.

That said, they did have a few credible scoops, so it's not reporting you can completely dismiss either.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 06:13:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hundreds of African migrants arrive amid Italy 'emergency' - EUobserver

Some 800 immigrants arrived in Southern Italy on Thursday (31 July), just a few days after the country declared a national state of emergency over what it describes as the "exceptional and persistent influx" of irregular immigrants.

A boat with some 400 hundred people on board was guided by Italian Coast Guard officers into the port of Lampedusa - a small island south of the Italian mainland, the Associated Press reports.

One of the boats that arrived in Italy was carrying some 400 people.

Subsequently, a series of smaller boats bearing some 400 additional people were intercepted by the Coast Guard, bringing the total number of detainees to 876, according to Italian news agency Adnkronos.

The migrants include women and children, with most reported to be of African origin.

Their arrival has raised concerns that the additional migrants will overcrowd the Lampedusa holding centre, as it has practically reached its capacity of 1,500 people.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interview with Loris De Filippi of Msf in Lampedusa published in la Repubblica today.

According to Loris there is no "emergency" as the Minister of the Interior declared. The numbers are within the norm of past years with a slump in 2007.
The only emergency is the lack of adequate policies to affront the situation, according to them- a jibe at the Bossi-Fini law, I presume.

The interviewee also notes that Italy is shirking its obligations to grant political asylum for the past six years.

On another note the Italian Council of Ministers has made an unprecedented offer to send their bills concerning security and immigration to the EU for informal review before presenting the bills in parliament. This perhaps after a series of censures by the EU parliament and the Council of Europe the other day. It also appears to be a PR gag to condition domestic criticism by using this initiative as an eventual argument (Gee, the guys in Brussels saw it and they didn't say nothing!)

The President of Romania Traian Basescu pointedly stated his disapproval of the recent Italian legislation during a press conference yesterday held at Palazzo Chigi with Berlusconi present. Basescu candidly admitted that Romania has also been unable to resolve the Rom minority issues at home.

Berlusconi has characterized the EU's attitude towards his government's policies as "absolute disinformation" based on a political response to a "non-reality."

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 06:36:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David Miliband 'duped' as US official reveals terror prison on Diego Garcia - Telegraph
A senior American official has admitted for the first time that a US base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia hosted a secret prison.

The admission follows repeated White House assurances that the British dependent territory was not used to hold terror suspects.

Clive Stafford-Smith, a leading human rights lawyer, said David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, had allowed himself to be "duped on a colossal scale" by America, which earlier this year conceded it had misled London on access to the island for rendition flights - aircraft involved in extra-judicial extradition of terrorist suspects.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain was powerless to accept American reassurances at anything other than face value. The priority placed on preserving access to US intelligence constrained the government's ability to question US statements.

"Our intelligence and counter-terrorism relationship with the US is vital to the national security of the United Kingdom," the spokesman said.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:20:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there's always an excuse. I don't remember the US being particularly accomodating when the IRA were committing terrorist offenses all over the UK. They seemed to be pretty relaxed, almost encouraging, about it actually.

Exctly what do we get out of it ? We get to join in their stupid wars, but the help we got over the falklands was grudging to say the least. We can find out everything they know about the Soviet union, except they don't trust us since Philby, Burgess, MacLean, Prime, Blunt etc etc.

But it's vital, vital I tell you.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 05:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain was powerless to accept American reassurances at anything other than face value. The priority placed on preserving access to US intelligence constrained the government's ability to question US statements.

"Our intelligence and counter-terrorism relationship with the US is vital to the national security of the United Kingdom,"

A perfect summary of over half a century of UK spook relations with the "cousins".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 12:54:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

From the Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 07:06:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That second graph looks rather like lending fell off a cliff.  

A really big cliff.

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 Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 02:04:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A really big cliff.

It did.

Credit creation is supported by a minimal amount of Capital.

Used to be that was purely Bank Capital.

Then investors came along (as banks outsourced their implicit guarantee of borrowers' credit) through "securitisation", credit derivatives, credit insurance and cocktail mixes of these techniques eg CDO's.

So a greater base of Capital (Banks plus Investors) was supporting a greater pyramid of credit.

Remove the investor Capital and we are necessarily back to Bank capital alone, which itself is increasingly eroded by losses.

This reversion to a lower level of credit creation, is slowly - well, actually not that slowly - destroying the system, unless either:

(a) the pool of Capital can be replenished and the bubble reflated; or

(b) we remove the (impossible) repayment obligation through a debt/equity swap.

No system based on interest bearing Debt as Money is viable in the long term. It is mathematically impossible in a world of finite resources.

We need an "asset-based" approach where debt is replaced by new forms of equity.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 05:18:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Georgia accused of lethal attack

The separatist government in the breakaway province of South Ossetia has accused Georgia of killing six people and injuring seven in an attack.

It quoted hospital sources as saying five civilians and a peacekeeper from the Russian province of North Ossetia were killed.

Georgia said its forces had come under attack and had returned fire.

Skirmishes have erupted frequently along the border, with the two sides accusing each other of starting them.

Letting Georgia get into NATO would be an awesome plan.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 09:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:05:51 PM EST
Chavez adds Spanish bank to nationalisation drive | BUSINESS | NEWS | tvnz.co.nz
<Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has added a large Spanish-owned bank to the list of companies to be run by the government in the oil-exporting nation, furthering his plans of building a socialist state.<p> Chavez said he will nationalise Grupo Santander's Banco de Venezuela, his latest purchase in a two-year oil-funded shopping spree that has already gobbled up oil projects and a telecoms firm, along with steel and cement plants.

Chavez threatened to kick Spanish banks out last year in a diplomatic fight sparked by a row with Spain's king, but said he had decided to buy Banco de Venezuela after Santander asked for permission to sell it to a local group.

"I said no, I'll buy it from you - what's it worth? We'll pay it," Chavez said during a live television broadcast. "We are going to nationalize Banco de Venezuela," he said.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border (washingtonpost.com)

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gas Deal Spat: Israel Concerned over Germany-Iran Deal - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Berlin's decision to allow a German firm to export high-tech equipment to Iran has come in for fierce criticism in Israel. Germany says the plants do not violate UN sanctions but Israel is unhappy.

 The vast South Pars gas field in southwestern Iran. German firm Steiner Gastec Prematechnik has been granted an export license to deliver plants to Iran. A diplomatic spat is brewing between Germany and Israel over an export license granted to a German company to provide Iran with high-tech gas plants. Israel has strongly criticized the decision by Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) to allow Steiner Prematechnik Gastec to go ahead with the deal, worth €100 million.

On Thursday the Israel Foreign Ministry voiced its anger at the German government decision, which was announced by BAFA on Tuesday in Berlin. The German firm is to deliver equipment for building three plants in southern Iran that will convert natural gas into liquid which can then be more easily transported.

The ministry said in a statement that the decision "contravenes the spirit of sanctions handed down by members of the (UN) Security Council on Iran." It said that it was "worrying" that Germany, as one of six nations leading efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program would adopt a position "that harms the international effort to considerably toughen sanctions against Iran." The ministry added that it would be seeking clarification about the deal from senior German government officials.

However Germany's Economics Ministry has already rejected the criticism. A ministry spokesperson told the AFP news agency on Thursday that BAFA has spent 12 months examining the deal and had found no indication that the goods to be exported could in any way be used for military purposes. He said there was, therefore, "no legal possibility to prevent the export."

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:10:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The German 'Gas Deal' with Iran - Moon of Alabama

The Jerusalem Post is miffed about a German 'gas deal' with Iran.

A parliamentary state secretary in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet appears to have acted illegally in influencing the country's Export Control office (BAFA) to approve a €100 million-plus deal for liquefied natural gas with Iran.
Critics charge Germany with not stepping up the pressure to restrict trade to Iran, and affirm its historical responsibility to secure Israel's existence. Iran's genocidal policy toward Israel is testing, for many Israelis, Germany's commitment to the Jewish state.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moon of alabama

There are no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry.

Neither the UN sanctions nor EU sanction against Iran are targeting exports or imports with the Iranian oil and gas industry. There is no international or national law relevant in Germany that forbids such exports. There is no legal base to deny any company the right to export equipment to Iran. That is 'free trade' in the best sense.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 05:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | US anthrax 'suspect' found dead

A top US scientist suspected of anthrax attacks in 2001 has apparently killed himself just as he was about to be charged, a newspaper reported.

The Los Angeles Times said Bruce Ivins, 62, had taken an overdose of painkillers. It said he had recently been told of the impending prosecution.

There has been no official comment but unnamed sources said prosecutors were to indict and seek the death penalty.

Five people died when anthrax was posted to the media and politicians.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Man suspected in anthrax attacks said to commit suicide - International Herald Tribune

With investigators close to filing charges in connection with the string of anthrax deaths in 2001, a senior biodefense researcher took his own life earlier this week, a lawyer for the scientist said on Friday.

Bruce Ivins, 62, who worked at the biodefense laboratories in Fort Detrick, Maryland, for the past 33 years, had been told of the investigation into the incidents, which traumatized the nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, said the lawyer, Paul Kemp.

"For six years, Dr. Ivins fully cooperated with that investigation, assisting the government in every way that was asked of him," Kemp said. He insisted that Ivins had not played a role in the anthrax deaths of at least five people.

"The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen in this investigation," Kemp said. "In Dr. Ivins' case, it led to his untimely death."

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Got to get this cover-up in place before the Obama administration shows up and people want a real investigation.  Like asking the question, "What was the state of Cheney's/Rumsfeld's knowledge in the hours prior to 9/11?  Do you know that there are people speculating that this pair (and others) knew of the impending attack, allowed it to occur, and thus the neocon/neofascist wetdream was born.  And think of the rewards.  The oil companies are back in Iraq, to name just one.

"Mission Accomplished!"

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 07:35:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Free Speech: China Lifts Internet Restrictions on Olympic Journalists - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

An uproar over Internet blockages for international reporters in the Olympic media center in Beijing has led, for now, to less censorship. But Chinese President Hu Jintao personally asked reporters on Friday to "abide by Chinese laws."

 Back online, but not quite free. After a groundswell of criticism for trying to censor foreign journalists ahead of the Olympics, organizers in China have agreed to lift restrictions on Internet access for media during the Games.

"The problem is solved," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Gunilla Lindberg, adding that IOC officials had reached an agreement with BOCOG, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, to open Internet access for journalists. "Now the Internet can be used used freely, as in all previous Olympic Games."

But the Internet was supposed to be open to foreign journalists from the start. And in spite of Lindberg's enthusiasm, freedom to roam the Web was not absolute. Reporters in the Olympic press headquarters in Beijing nevertheless said certain sites were visible again Friday morning. They could read, among other sites, Radio Free Asia, the official American news service, the BBC, Wikipedia and the sites of groups that have been sharply critical of Beijing, like Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan spiralling back to days of Taliban, say charities - Asia, World - The Independent
Terror attacks spreading into areas that were previously thought safe.

Violence in Afghanistan has reached record highs, with unprecedented numbers of civilian casualties and terror attacks spreading into areas once thought safe, a coalition of charities warns. In a damning indictment of the international community's effort to stabilise Afghanistan, more than 100 aid agencies claimed security is worse now than at any time in the past seven years.

"There has been a surge in the number of civilian casualties caused by all sides, a spread of insecurity to previously stable areas, and increasing attacks on aid agencies and their staff," the statement from their umbrella organisation Acbar said.

The group represents 64 international aid groups with projects inside the warring country, including Oxfam, Mercy Corps and Save the Children, as well as 36 Afghan charities.

There are almost 53,000 Nato-led troops across Afghanistan, trying to boost security while, "paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance". But the Acbar report states: "So far this year, the number of insurgent attacks, bombings and other violent incidents is up by approximately 50 per cent on the same period last year. The number of insurgent attacks for each of the months of May (463), June (569) and July is greater than the number of such attacks in any other month since the end of major hostilities following the international intervention in 2001."

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:20:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

US twist to Thaksin court case - Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news and business from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam

Thailand's Supreme Court decided this week to proceed with a criminal conflict-of-interest case against former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra over his role in approving a 4 billion baht (US$119 million) government-to-government loan made to Myanmar's military-run government to purchase satellite services sold by his family-owned communications business.

The trial, set to start on September 16, will examine Thaksin's formerly family-owned telecommunications company, Shin Corp, and its then 53% majority-owned subsidiary, Shin Satellite, and his alleged role in approving the loan by the state-controlled Export-Import Bank of Thailand to help improve Myanmar's primitive telecommunications infrastructure.

The Asset Examination Committee, which investigated the charge, claims the loan was extended at an unusually low interest rate and that the grace period for the loan was inexplicably extended from two to five years. Thaksin supervised the Ex-Im Bank at the time the loan was made and strenuously defended the decision to make the loan when criticized at the time in the local press.

The criminal case represents one of several now hanging over the former premier, his family and political and business allies. Thaksin's wife, Pojaman, was sentenced on Thursday to three years in prison on tax evasion charges related to a 1997 Shin Corp share transaction she made with her brother. Three other criminal corruption and abuse-of-power related cases against Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, are now in court.
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

By DAVID IVANOVICH Houston Chronicle Copyright 2008
Aug. 1, 2008, 3:18PM

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of senators today unveiled a compromise energy plan that would open new areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Atlantic to oil and gas drilling, while raising taxes on the major oil companies.

Hoping to break a stalemate that has kept the nation's energy policy in idle even as gasoline prices soared, the self-styled Gang of 10 would allow producers to explore within 50 miles of Florida's Gulf coast.

The oil companies also would be able to hunt for crude 50 miles off the beaches of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia -- if those states agree.


Asked why Florida wasn't given the option to accept drillnig or not, as were the Atlantic coast states, Chambliss said, ``There's oil being explored for in that part of the world right now. And it's only a logical extension of what's happening in the Gulf right now. Plus, that area has been identified as an area where resources are available right now.''

The $84 billion New Energy Reform Act would fund an effort -- which its backers liken to the Apollo moon landing program -- to transform the nation's cars and trucks, with a goal of having 85 percent of new vehicles on the road run on non-petroleum-based fuels within 20 years.

To pay for their proposal, lawmakers would raise the major oil companies' taxes by excluding them from tax credits that apply to other manufacturers.

Can't let the Cubans suck oil out of fields shared with the USA!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 08:43:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer (From Yahoo)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday he would be willing to support limited additional offshore oil drilling if that's what it takes to enact a comprehensive policy to foster fuel-efficient autos and develop alternate energy sources.

Shifting from his previous opposition to expanded offshore drilling, the Illinois senator told a Florida newspaper he could get behind a compromise with Republicans and oil companies to prevent gridlock over energy.


"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.

"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage -- I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."


"The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the Post interview. "And so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done."

Later, Obama issued a written statement warmly welcoming a proposal sent to Senate leaders Friday by 10 senators -- five from each party. Their proposal seeks to break the impasse over offshore oil development and is expected to be examined more closely in September after Congress returns from its summer recess.

The so-called Gang of 10 plan would lift drilling bans in the eastern Gulf of Mexico within 50 miles of Florida's beaches and in the South Atlantic off Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, but only if a state agrees to the oil and gas development along its coast. The states would share in revenues from oil and gas development.

Drilling bans along the Pacific coast and the Northeast would remain in place under this compromise.

The plan also includes energy initiatives Obama has endorsed. "It would repeal tax breaks for oil companies so that we can invest billions in fuel-efficient cars, help our automakers re-tool, and make a genuine commitment to renewable sources of energy like wind power, solar power, and the next generation of clean, affordable biofuels," Obama noted.

At least he is finally talking about something specific.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 08:54:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a bullshit compromise from my perspective, but it will be some years and maybe never that there's an actual increase in offshore drilling. Meanwhile, there's a four year extension of the wind and solar tax credits, which will produce immediate results.

Such support is probably all that is needed to build up a proper infrastructure for windpower in the US.  From manufacturing and assembly facilities, through the entire supply chain, and down to the construction and technical service industries.

Such a program could well reach 15,000 MWs installed in 2012, without impacting windpower growth globally.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 05:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.  It would be a net plus if the bill passed, IMHO. There will be plenty of time to deal with the drilling issue.  Florida lawsuits will insure that.  The thing I really liked was that I think I might have seen Obama's feet actually touch the ground for once.  In addition to being highly annoying, his zero specifics campaign makes it easier for McCain to paint him as an unrealistic idealist without the necessary experience OR PRACTICALITY  to lead.

His campaign at least needs to effectively respond to all of the recent attack ads.  And he needs to select a V.P. running mate that can do business with a knife, a la LBJ.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 01:03:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the Post interview. "And so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done."

So that's all it takes - really beating the drums.

One wonders if it really isn't the threat of the bass solo that follows?

"The rapists in the military have really been beating the drums lately. We don't want gridlock. I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done. And it's only a logical extension of the drilling that's happening in the Gulf right now. Plus, that area has been identified as an area where resources are available right now. The women volunteered for military service.''

"The heroin pushers have really been beating the drums lately... "

"The nuclear testing firms have really been beating the drums lately. After the horrible write-downs in GE's financial services sector, losing the bomber refueling orders for their aircraft engines, and their entertainment division NBC's miserable summer and fall season due to the potential actor's strikes, we have decided to give them all the carbon sequestration permits, missile defense umbrella R&D funds as well as Utah and Hawaii as nuclear testing grounds...oh, and a loan so that they can buy GM, gut the value and leave the taxpayers with the dregs."

"Israel has really been beating the drums lately... "

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 07:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Don't forget the Wall Street financial firms that have been beating the drums for "covered bonds" and federal guarantees for big investors.  Some of Obama's earliest campaign seed money came from law firms associated with Wall Street.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 01:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to fight labor abuse and exploitation of the poor in China.

Chinese Struggle Over Resources Under a Quasi-Maoist Capitalism

Across China there is rising rural and urban protest--or, if you will, burgeoning class struggle. As the economy moves from Maoist socialism to a strange type of quasi-Maoist capitalism, farmers are fighting off land grabs, which, as in the case of Da Ba, are often linked to industry's voracious appetite for space and resources. Typically, the land grabs involve local government officials working with large, mostly state-owned but partly private businesses.


Two years ago the protest-spooked central government abolished the agricultural land tax and gave farmers greater legal protections. And it has just passed a new and, at least on paper, progressive labor law. Among other things, the law requires employers to give workers formal contracts that last for a set period; it also requires severance pay and mandates that workers can be fired only with cause. After two short-term contracts, employers must offer open-ended, tenure-style employment. Companies that don't comply face stiff penalties. (Business-friendly critics say the law introduces "European-style inflexibility.") The central government has also announced its desire to have the official state union federation--the All-China Federation of Trade Unions--organize 80 percent of private companies by the end of this year.

These directives face resistance from local governments, which operate with a lot of legal and illegal autonomy. But even as the central government's reach is limited, it's significant that it has demonstrated a willingness to move in response to pressure from below. In the face of unrest, Wen Jiabao--China's down-to-earth prime minister and second-most-powerful politician, who famously spoke at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and survived with his health and career intact--has called for progressive reforms and issued stark, if cryptic, warnings like, "The speed of the fleet is not determined by the fastest vessel; rather, it is determined by the slowest one."

That last sentence echoes (anticipates, actually) a familiar theme.

Cynicism is intellectual treason.

by marco on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 01:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama shifts, says he may back offshore drilling - Yahoo! News

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday he would be willing to support limited additional offshore oil drilling if that's what it takes to enact a comprehensive policy to foster fuel-efficient autos and develop alternate energy sources.

Shifting from his previous opposition to expanded offshore drilling, the Illinois senator told a Florida newspaper he could get behind a compromise with Republicans and oil companies to prevent gridlock over energy.

Republican rival John McCain, who earlier dropped his opposition to offshore drilling, has been criticizing Obama on the stump and in broadcast ads for clinging to his opposition as gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon. Polls indicate these attacks have helped McCain gain ground on Obama.

"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.

by Fran on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 02:05:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:06:15 PM EST
Bangladesh 'is growing' due to freak environmental conditions - Times Online

Bangladesh is often held up as the 'ground zero' of climate change, with environmental experts predicting that rising sea levels could engulf much of the country of 150 million people within the next 50 years.

But a recent survey by a Bangladeshi research institute shows that the country's landmass has actually increased by more than 1,000 square km (386 square miles) since 1973, due to rivers dumping sediment as they meet the sea.

Bangladesh could also gain another 1,000 square km by 2050, according to scientists from the state-run Centre for Environment and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.

CEGIS, which is funded by the Dutch government, reached its conclusion after studying satellite images of the country dating back to 1973.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How to turn water into rocket fuel - scientists unlock power of the sun - Science, News - The Independent

Scientists have devised a cheap and simple method of turning water into rocket fuel using solar power in a development that could generate a new source of green energy for the home and workplace.

The researchers used electricity from solar panels to split water into oxygen and hydrogen - the constituents of rocket fuel - with a technology that scientists believe could solve many of the problems that have hampered the development of solar energy.

With the help of a simple and yet highly efficient "chemistry set" made out of commonly available materials, the scientists have found a way of storing solar energy as a chemical fuel that can be used to power pollution-free electricity generators known as hydrogen fuel cells.

Until now the concept has stagnated because it has been too costly and difficult to use solar-generated electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in a domestic setting, but the new method relies on the discovery of a catalyst that speeds up the conversion of water into high-energy fuel.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:13:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, progress only on the catalysis part. Why the tie to solar energy ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because solar energy has had issues with energy storage, ie no energy at night. The catalyser raises the efficiency of electrolysis to the point where useful quantities of hydrogen are produced that makes the use of expensive solar arrays viable for this process.

{I assume}

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 05:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume you're right. It's about energy storage. Same goes to some extent for wind power.

The hydrogen would be used to power fuel cells.

Alternatives would be battery storage or compressed air, or pumped water storage.

There was a recent post on TOD on compressed air storage, if you are interested.

The Oil Drum: Canada | Compressed Air Energy Storage - How viable is it?

One of the most critical aspects of the implementation of renewable electricity is the ability to store electricity.  If a good solution existed right now, our situation would be a good deal easier.  On the face of it, compressed air seems a likely candidate: relatively easy to make, store and use - so what is the problem?  Why isn't it used routinely?
More Thermodynamics than You Ever Wanted to Know?

We usually speak of storing and using energy without being very precise about what we mean.  That ends forever if you take a few chemistry or engineering courses.  Thermodynamics rules everything.

(Conclusion: compressed air isn't very good)

Likewise, with conversion to hydrogen the efficiency of the process is crucial.

Generation of hydrogen is one of the bottlenecks, another is storage.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 06:32:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy storage in the form of hydrogen is a problem of cost effectiveness times efficiency.  Daniel Nocera of MIT seems to have solved the problem for the electrode that generates hydrogen. He has devised a self regenerating electrode.  They use platinum for the oxygen side.  The problem there is price.

I can only presume that the reference to testing against platinum is for purposes of showing relative efficiency.   Platinum is almost the default catalyst for most reactions, where price is no object. Has long been so. Interesting article with links to other interesting work.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 08:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Africa's Literary Treasure Trove: The Rush to Save Timbuktu's Crumbling Manuscripts - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Fabled Timbuktu, once the site of the world's southernmost Islamic university, harbors thousands upon thousands of long-forgotten manuscripts. A dozen academic instutions from around the world are now working frantically to save and evaluate the crumbling documents.

 The Grand Mosque at Djenne, Mali. The area's rich cultural heritage is only being slowly discovered. Bundles of paper covered with ancient Arabic letters lie on tables and dusty leather stools. In the sweltering heat, a man wearing blue Muslim robes flips through a worn folio, while others are busy repairing yellowed pages.

An astonishing project is underway in Timbuktu, Mali, one of the world's poorest countries. On the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, experts are opening an enchanted Aladdin's Cave, filled with hundreds of thousands of ancient documents.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:16:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doctors hail farmer's double arm transplant - Times Online

Since losing his arms in a horrific threshing accident life has been a misery for a 54-year-old German farmer. Unable to tie his laces, feed himself or touch his wife, he was close to suicide.

Then he saw a television film about an Austrian policeman who was given new hands after unpacking a parcel bomb - the farmer promptly volunteered for what may be the world's first double whole arm transplant. Now he has the arms of a teenager and is waiting to feel his fingers again.

Doctors at Munich's Clinic on the Right Side of the Isar said today that the farmer - his name is being withheld - was doing well after the operation last weekend.

"It was a terrific team operation," said Dr Christoph Hoehnke, one of the lead surgeons.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:17:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China inaugurates 220mph fastest rail service in world in time for Olympics - Times Online

They came with cameras and binoculars and gathered on the mud banks of the railway lines. Less than one hundred metres away, nestled under the vast roof of Beijing South Station, they could already see the train.

"Oh my God, it's so beautiful," whispered Ren Dongsheng, one of dozens of train enthusiasts and locals waiting to witness the inaugural journey of the fastest rail service on the planet.

Mr Ren, 64, said: "I have always loved trains, so for China to have the fastest trains in the world and for them to leave from the biggest train station in Asia ... it's incredible." Indeed, for a nation that loves superlatives, today was a red letter day.

Trains on the new rail link between Beijing and the Olympic co-host city of Tianjin will travel at 350 kilometres per hour (220mph), easily beating France's TGV trains, which travel at 320 km/h, and making Japan's bullet trains look like plodding steam engines. Maglev trains do not count, the authorities say, because they do not run on rails.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aral sea rescue plan claimed a success according to the Kazakh government | Environment | guardian.co.uk

One of the 20th century's great ecological disasters has been partly reversed, according to a report that claims the waters are rising once more in part of the Aral sea.

The team behind an Aral sea restoration plan claims that the water level in the northern part of the sea in central Asia has risen by 30% in three years because a dyke has been built and leaking irrigation channels mended. As a result the amount of water flowing down the Syr Daria River into the sea has increased.

Now, the salty drying waters which had dwindled and contained only a single species of fish, host 15 different species of fish and more birds, reptiles and plants, says a report by the Kazakhstan government.

Fishing has also been rejuvenated, and a second phase of the scheme is underway to restore pasture and improve grazing.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:21:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: The power of female blogging

"With so many people paying attention to what we are saying there is a tendency for some to write things they think will be commercially acceptable, " warned Lindsay Ferrier of Suburban Turmoil.

Advice on how to deal with such a conflict came from Maria of Immoral Matriarch who urged bloggers to "keep it real".

"As long as you are honest. If you love the product or TV show, I want to hear 'you.' I don't write with the intention of making money, but if anyone wants to give it to me I will take it. But you are not going to censor me.

"If I want to curse or say something politically incorrect, I am going to say it," she added.

I still believe that Withdrawal of Purchase collated by online communities will change the W*st*rn business model - soon.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 07:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Technology | The power of female blogging
"In this medium women are creating their own terms in their own voice," she said.

Because when cash is tight and your income depends on pretending to be an independent voice supported by stupid dinosaur giant brands, freedom of thought is guaranteed.

Or something.

If this hadn't been about stupid dinosaur giant brands it could have been interesting.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 08:47:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:06:34 PM EST
Berlusconi, man who has everything, asks for more | World news | The Guardian
* Row over Italian PM's plan to double size of villa
* Council says cash fee will be used for town's benefit

With its imposing tree-lined drive, extensive outbuildings, surrounding park and 10,000-volume library, the neo-classical Villa San Martino appears to have everything the most demanding of tycoons requires of a home. And that is without the mausoleum - complete with giant, pink marble sarcophagus - that its owner, Silvio Berlusconi, has created in the grounds.

But some people, it seems, are never satisfied. Italy's billionaire prime minister wants to double the size of the property. And his plans are running into controversy in Arcore and beyond.

An opposition senator has tabled a question in parliament for Berlusconi's environment minister on the go-ahead for a project that would enlarge the government leader's mansion by more than half the size of a Serie A football pitch. Opponents claim that the scheme was modified, extended, and then rushed through a council controlled by his followers.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:07:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it were only that...
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 06:39:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish banknotes carry heaviest cocaine traces - EUobserver

Spanish euro banknotes bear the highest concentration of traces of cocaine of all banknotes in Europe - whether euros, Swiss francs or pounds - according to a new study.

Chemists at the University of Valencia carried out an investigation of randomly selected bills in circulation in the Iberian country, which had traces of cocaine with an average concentration of 155 microgrammes per note.

Spain is the main entry point for cocaine trafficked into Europe

"Traces of the drug are found not only on notes that have been in direct contact with it, but on nearly all the notes in circulation," said Miguel de la Guardia, a co-author of the study and a professor in the Analytical Chemistry Department of the university, according to Spanish daily 20 Minutos.

Germany, by comparison, had traces of cocaine five times lower than those in Spain. Irish euros came in lower still, bearing an average concentration of just 0.576 microgrammes of the drug.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:19:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Singing monks become international smash hit - Telegraph
A group of chanting Cistercian monks have become this year's most unlikely chart sensation.

The monks, from the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Austria, have spent two months in the UK top 20, alongside the likes of Amy Winehouse.

In their homeland, their album of Gregorian chants reached number one in the pop, classical and download charts simultaneously, dislodged only when Coldplay released their long-awaited new album.

They topped the Billboard classical chart in the US, and have also found success across Europe and as far away as New Zealand.

Next week, the group - who count Pope Benedict XVI among their fans - will visit the UK where they will be presented with a gold disc by their British-based record label, Universal Classics. They have sold more than 400,000 copies and are on track to reach platinum status.

by Fran on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 03:23:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: Friday Night French: (Leçon 1) Salut la francophonie!

Part I. La francophonie means the "French-speaking world." The Francophone world is comprised of more than forty countries on five continents.  In these places French is either:

   1) A maternal language used in the home;
   2) A daily means of public communication;
   3) The official language used in government and business;
   4) The principal language of education

Worldwide there are more than 150 million francophones. Two of every three francophones in the world today live outside of France, and that proportion is likely to continue to increase.

by Fran on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 03:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
French (français, French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃sɛ]) is today spoken around the world by 72 to 130 million people as a native language, and by about 190 to 600 million people as a second or third language, with significant speakers in 54 countries. Most native speakers of the language live in France, where the language originated. The rest live in Canada, Belgium and Switzerland.

Francophonie - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
La Francophonie is an international organisation of French-speaking countries and governments and, in French, the community of French-speaking peoples. Formally known as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) or the International Organization of La Francophonie, the organisation comprises fifty-five member states and governments and thirteen observers. The prerequisite for admission is not the degree of French usage in the member countries, but a prevalent presence of French culture and French language in the member country's identity, usually stemming from France's interaction with other nations in its history. Few of the member states are majority French-speaking aside from France and its overseas possessions, and sub-national members. French functions in several other member states as a common language while having little current presence in the other members, being that the links are mainly historical and cultural.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 at 05:14:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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