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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 28 January

by Fran Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:10:30 PM EST

On this date in history:

1873 - Colette, a French writer, best known, at least in the English-speaking world, for her novel Gigi, was born (d. 1954)

More here and here


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by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:11:16 PM EST
Britain will not take Guantanamo prisoners despite plea by Barack Obama - Telegraph
Britain will not take any more detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp despite a plea from President Barack Obama for help from Europe.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said that Britain had "done our bit" following the nine British nationals and six British residents already received or expected.

"Britain has given that help already," he said. "We have done our bit. We have played an important role in showing that this can be done in a safe and secure way."

European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, gave a warm welcome to the new US President's decision to close the camp within a year. But most were lukewarm about the idea of taking in non-Europeans that the US does not intend to put on trial and who cannot be sent home for fear they might be mistreated.

The issue has become an early test of Europe's relationship with President Obama.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:13:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU: We Need Time Before Hosting Released Guantanamo Inmates | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.01.2009

"Due to the legal situation in different (EU) countries, we can't give a quick answer ... It is not a question which can be solved in weeks or months," said Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the bloc's rotating presidency.

 

While the new administration of US President Barack Obama has not yet officially asked European governments to host any of the 60 Guantanamo inmates eligible for release, a list of possible candidates has already begun circulating in European capitals.

 

But the lack of a quick response from the EU is likely to be ill-received in Washington.

 

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Europeans want to get off on a good foot with Obama

Analysts had warned ahead of Monday's talks that the EU's reaction on Guantanamo represented the first real test of Europe's will to start relations with the Obama administration on a positive note.

 

As Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said, "we need to shake hands with the US: it's a new, fresh start."

 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:14:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm glad to hear this. i hope we hear it from everybody else.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's an idea: Some of these people have been "disappeared" using European airports, airspace and other infrastructure. We clearly owe those people help, however much we might like to watch the Americans marinate in the fallout from their own (widely supported) policies. We had a job to do under international law: Prevent "disappearances" on our territory. We failed.

So what if we say to the Americans that we'll take the ones that they can prove were brought through European jurisdiction during their kidnapping? That way, we'd help some of the victims, we'd reach out to the Americans... and they'd have to wave around enough of their dirty laundry to enable outsiders to more or less reconstruct their black ops runs for the last seven or eight years.

As a pure bonus, we get first-grade evidence for domestic criminal prosecutions.

They'll never go for it, of course. But we could make the offer just as a show of goodwill.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 02:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Change in tone on Gaza by EU aid chief - EUobserver

The European Union's humanitarian aid commissioner in a visit to Gaza on Monday (26 January) attacked the occupied territory's leaders as "a terrorist movement" and denounced the Israeli invasion as "abominable".

"Hamas has an enormous responsibility for what happened here in Gaza," said commissioner Louis Michel while visiting a UN aid compound that had been bombed by Israel.

Strong words for both sides from Mr Michel

He denounced Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel as a "provocation" and said the Islamist party was "acting in the way of a terrorist movement."

Mr Michel also had sharp words for Tel Aviv.

"What I saw was abominable. It was unjustified," he said, calling on Israel to open border crossings not only to food and medicine, but also to construction materials.

Despite the even-handedness, the comments are a marked change for the commissioner, who during the height of the conflict issued some of the strongest denunciations of the Jewish state's actions of any European senior official or leader, telling Belgian daily La Libre Belgique on 13 January that Israel was in breach of international law.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Despite the even-handedness

What even-handedness ? Hamas rockets were a provocation ??? They didn't fire any for SIX months until the Israeli blockade became unbearable. They have been under Israeli armed seige for 18 months and Hamas were the ones being provocative ????

Puh-lease

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chinese premier embarks on fence-mending tour of Europe - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will arrive in Europe on Tuesday (27 January) for a visit that Chinese foreign ministry officials have described as a 'Journey of Confidence.'

His first stop will be the World Economic Forum annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of a number of scheduled meetings with European leaders in a bid to mend fences following the postponing of last month's EU-China summit.

Chinese citizens celebrated the start of the Year of the Ox on Monday

China called off the summit in protest against French President Nicholas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.

France held the rotating EU presidency at the time and Paris has been conspicuously excluded from Mr Wen's itinerary of meetings that will seek, amongst other things, to boost trade ties between the two regions.

Both sides are heavily reliant on each other and keen to solidify good ties in the current economic downturn. The EU is China's largest trading partner, whereas China is the EU's second largest external trade partner, after the United States.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:15:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia chooses new Orthodox head

The Russian Orthodox Church has begun the final stage of electing a new leader to succeed Patriarch Alexiy II, who died last month.

More than 700 clerics and lay people have assembled in Moscow to choose from among the three candidates.

They are: Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk and Metropolitan Filaret from Minsk.

Kirill has been the acting head of the Church and is considered the favourite.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:15:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hackers steal details of 4.5 million job-seekers - Crime, UK - The Independent

The personal details of millions of people have been stolen from one of the UK's largest recruitment websites in potentially the largest data theft ever in Britain.

Hackers accessed the confidential information provided by 4.5 million people registered with Monster.co.uk and now hold their user names, passwords, telephone numbers and email addresses. The company said other information including client birth dates, gender and ethnicity had also been taken, along with "basic demographic data".

Monster revealed in a statement on Friday that its database had been illegally accessed but the scale of the breach did not emerge until last night.

Fears were growing that hackers may have gained access to user bank accounts, since many people use the same password and email address to access multiple websites.

Friday's statement was signed by the company's senior vice president, Patrick Manzo, and said the information taken did not include resumes.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:16:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Monster had a rubbish site anyway and I never signed up.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:50:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that we hear about these stories only in the UK, or is there a specific problem in the country? I don't know about other countries, but you never hear about such stories in France. Is it that they are better hidden, or that they do happen less?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:51:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inasmuch as the system was compromised through psyops rather than outright rigging the software, I'd expect it would be more common with English-language websites.

It may just be because I don't go to that many French or German websites, but virtually all the spam I get - including phishing attempts and poorly masked trojans - are in English.

So if the problem is that one of their root users has been hoodwinked (and if their security software is even remotely up to snuff, that almost has to be it), I'd think that the fact that their sysop speaks English is a vulnerability.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 02:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Calls Europe, Gets Largely Cooperative Response | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.01.2009
The new US president capped off his first week in office by phoning the leaders of France, Germany and Russia. Obama's internationalist style is drawing positive reviews, but disagreements still loom. 

One week into his presidency, Barack Obama seems to be making good on his campaign pledge to adopt a more multilateral approach to global problems than his predecessor.

On Monday, Jan. 26, Obama gave his first formal television interview to the Arab-language channel Al-Arabiya, in which he sought to reassure Muslims in the Middle East that "Americans are not your enemy."

He also put in telephone calls to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia President Dmitry Medvedev.

Obama and Sarkozy conversed for 30 minutes. Afterwards, in a statement, the French president said they have agreed to work together in "resolute fashion" on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the global economic crisis and Obama's plan to shut down the controversial army detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama's talks with Merkel and Medvedev reportedly focused on many of the same issues.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO chief admits failure in drawing EU closer - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said he regrets not having been able to bring the military alliance and the EU closer together.

"I'm sad that at the end of my mandate as secretary general I have not been able to bring this relationship more forward than on a pragmatic basis. I hope that after the end of July my successor, NATO and the EU will have a fresh look and see how we can bring the parties together," Mr Scheffer said on Monday (26 January).

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left) could succeed Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (right) as NATO secretary general

In his first public appearance since the Obama administration took office in Washington last week, Mr Scheffer gave a speech and answered questions at Security and Defence Agenda, a Brussels-based think-tank.

He mentioned Kosovo, where NATO and the EU work "side by side", but also highlighted "political reasons" for the difficult transatlantic relationship, as most European countries are part of both organisations.

The double membership means there are limited resources for sending troops to different EU and NATO missions.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:19:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That NATO gets more control over EU resources not already allocated to it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:52:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Portugal revives once-booming salt industry - International Herald Tribune

OLHÃO, Portugal: In the early 1990s, João Navalho, a microbiologist fresh out of graduate school, came to the salt marshes in the Algarve region with a handful of young partners to grow and harvest microalgae. Their dream was to market the algae's beta-carotene as natural orange dye for the fast-growing organic food market.

The business foundered; the 15 heactares, or 37 acres, of marshes, known as salinas, became a garbage dump for residents in this pocket of southern Portugal who did not know what else to do with their outmoded kitchen appliances. After years of frustrated effort, the partners suddenly changed course.

"We looked around and said, 'We're stupid!"' Navalho recalled. "We have a lot of land here. What we should do with the salinas is produce salt!"

They asked the elderly locals for someone who might remember how to harvest salt the old way: by hand, as it was done here before industrialization made it cheap and plentiful, and small salt works fell into desuetude.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:22:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
desuetude (désuet). Excellent!

The legal and economic doctrines came to my attention when AR inquired about the political consequences of Treasury office election. Long story short:

wiki

pdf, Hardvard Law Review, judicial abrogation of unenforced ("dead-letter") statutes, separation of powers

Bankman, USC: "The law changes, economic conditions change, taxpayers have less incentive to take aggressive positions, and the common law doctrines fall into relative desuetude."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 06:23:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Icelandic coalition collapses amid protests across Europe - International Herald Tribune

BERLIN: Iceland's coalition collapsed Monday, the latest fallout from a global financial crisis that has sparked angry demonstrations across Europe.

Prime Minister Geir Haarde said he was unwilling to meet the demands of his coalition partners, the Social Democratic Alliance Party, which insisted on getting the post of prime minister to keep the coalition intact, The Associated Press reported from Reykjavik, the capital.

Last week, Haarde called elections for May, bringing forward a vote originally scheduled for 2011 after weeks of protests by Icelanders upset about soaring unemployment and rising prices. But Haarde said he would not lead his Independence Party into the new elections because he needed treatment for cancer.

Iceland has been in crisis since the collapse of its banks because of massive debt, with its currency, the krona, plummeting. The country's commerce minister, Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, quit Sunday, citing the pressures of the economic collapse, The AP reported.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
World Agenda: is this the most hated man in Iceland? - Times Online

To the clamour of spoons on saucepans, the Icelandic Government has fallen apart.

The thousands of protesters - led by poets and dissident economists - have claimed their first blood, the first political casualty of the global credit crisis, and they were naturally bubbling with revolutionary zeal today.

The next target they say is the most polarising figure in Icelandic society, the bugbear of the Left and the liberals: David Oddsson, chairman of the central bank.

The ambition to lever him out of office is understandable. Oddsson had received enough signals that something was going wrong in Iceland, that the financial sector, the bloated banks, were getting out of control.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:25:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there's a guy on air (radio) describing the demonstration just now: he says the demonstrators throwed cheese at the police!
by Xavier in Paris on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:32:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Seeks Buyers for Unwanted Security "Nude Scanners" | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.01.2009
A proposed plan to introduce full-body security scanners at airports around Europe plunged the EU into a debate about privacy and decency. Now it has another problem arising from the hardware. 

"For Sale: Six security scanners in original packing, never used. Perfect for airport checks and entrances at highly sensitive locations. Sold separately or as one job lot. Open to offers of around 120,000 euros ($158,000) each."

At first glance, this (fabricated) advert may suggest that the European Union is feeling the pinch in the current financial climate and is looking to put some much needed extra revenue back into its coffers. But on closer inspection, the ad reveals not that the EU is hard-up for cash and has to sell off its equipment but that it is ready to offload some controversial hardware due to its embarrassing nature.

Taking a closer look at the small print, one can see why: "Caution - these scanners can provide unwanted and intrusive naked images."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:24:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberal leader pledges to end job-fixing in the EP -EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - In an unusual move, the leader of the third biggest grouping in the European Parliament, the liberals, or Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe - UK Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson - has this month set out his stall for the post of presidency of the chamber.

He wants to do away with the cosy tradition of power-sharing between the Socialists and the conservatives in the house, with the aim of boosting the parliament's profile and role.

Give the conservatives and Socialists a 'collective raspberry', says the EU parliament's liberal leader

The parliament's president is elected for a two-and-a-half-year term - or two elections to the post per parliamentary term. Since the 1980s, however, the conservative European People's Party (EPP) and the Party of European Socialists (PES) have regularly had a gentleman's agreement that they would share the two terms between them.

So despite the democracy of elections to the chamber, the decision of who gets to be president is made behind closed doors. Already, just over five months away from the June parliamentary elections, the EPP-ED and PES have reportedly agreed that the president for the first term will be the EPP's Jerzy Buzek, a Polish MEP and in the second term will be Martin Schulz, a German deputy and current leader of the socialist.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German court handed new complaint on EU treaty - EUobserver

Germany's constitutional court has been handed a second complaint over the EU's Lisbon Treaty with the potential to delay the country's final ratification of the document for several months.

The new legal action, running to over 200 pages, is concerned with economic as well as political issues, which the complainants say are not addressed by the Lisbon Treaty.

The Lisbon Treaty was signed by EU leaders in late 2007

They argue that a prognosis on European integration given by the country's constitutional court in a 1993 judgement on the Maastricht Treaty - which paved the way to the euro - has turned out to be false.

Instead, EU integration has been characterised by "continuous breaches of the stability pact, a presumptuous over-stepping of power by the European Commission, unaccountable leadership and dissolution of the separation of powers," say the authors in a statement on Monday(26 January), according to German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

They say that the constitutional court cannot approve the Lisbon treaty because it "strengthens the current practice of dismembering the division of powers and mixing of competences."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:25:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The new legal action, running to over 200 pages, is concerned with economic as well as political issues, which the complainants say are not addressed by the Lisbon Treaty.

For example? Well, it says in the article...uhm...well, it doesn't say...it just repeats the innuendo.

By the end of the article, one feels like it is a fait accompli rather than something the courts could rebuff with a parenthetical statement during the hearing on the 11th.

Not that I like bashing the press, but I get the taste of an interesting topic on EuroTrib, yet too often go to the website to find that I am no better off than after reading the excerpt on ET.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 03:01:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It even feels to me like the journalist (Honor Mahony, one would suppose from the name, is a native English-speaker) has just copied in communication from the parties bringing the action. There's a clumsy feel to the English, and the use of prognosis (generally a medical term concerning the course of a disease, and thus heavily loaded in this context) instead of forecast, and of the verb proof (what the court is supposed to do instead of just examining their case; I don't know if it's legal jargon, but I can't find a trace of this use in any dictionary) stand out to me.

Anyway, it's EUObserver quietly passing on a rather Euroskeptic view, as often.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 04:13:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Restricts Saakashvili - Moon of Alabama

Earlier this month I suspected another try by Georgia's lunatic leader Saakashvili to regain South Ossetia and Abchasia. There were several reports of unexplained Georgian troop movements near the borders of those territories.

It seems that the EU military mission, which observes the ceasefire in Georgia, also sensed something, applied pressure and moved to restrict Saakashvili's capacity to incite new border skirmish adventures:

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's ominous, it sounds a bit like a last desperate throw of the dice by the saakashvili govt. I had heard it was coming under pressure from the population as they began to realise the extent of the loss and who was responsible.

There could be unrest in Tblisi soon.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe discreetly solving a problem before it becomes a major crisis. Of course, nobody will have heard about it, and nobody will credit Europe for it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:53:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Similar rebukes have happened in the past, which didn't prevent August 2008. The endgame for Saak is close, who knows what he's going to do now.
by Sargon on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 01:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back then he had the pretty explicit support of the Americans. The Bushistas told Georgia in almost so many words that they would back them up. Notwithstanding the fact that they later dropped those promises like a hot brick (and the fact that any moron could see that they'd have to do so, on account of geography if nothing else).

If Obama takes a belligerent line with the Russians and actively tries to stir up trouble in Central Asia, I don't think any amount of EU arm-twisting can convince Saak not to play along.

OTOH, if the Americans stay out (or, even better, pursue sane policies for the region), I'd guess that Saak will be quietly stepped down. Or not so quietly, depending on the mood in Georgia at the time...

He may be mad as a hatter, but he's already been mauled by the Bear once - without American support, I really don't think that he wants a re-match.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 02:54:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd not heard anything about htis.

Guardian - Greece paralysed as farmers ratchet up protests

Thousands of Greek farmers demanding compensation for low commodity prices have threatened to step up a nine-day protest which has paralysed the country, cutting road links with its neighbours and leaving tonnes of fruit and meat rotting in lorries. Using tractors and trailers, the farmers have blockaded around 70 main roads, cutting Athens off from the second city of Thessaloniki in the north and closing border crossings with Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey.

[....]

Two months after the country's cities were hit by the worst rioting in decades, the latest protests have exposed the frustrations of Greece's underdeveloped agriculture regions. Despite EU subsidies, successive governments have failed to modernise a farming industry that remains dependent on state handouts, said Dimitris Keridis, a political scientist. "It's an industry that depends on government handouts and is incompatible with the demands of modern societies. They produce produce that nobody buys."

Industry, business, the tourist and manufacturing sectors have been affected by blockades that stretch from the Evros region in the north to Crete in the south. Holidaymakers have been stranded, hospitals and chemists have run short of medicine and exports have been stopped at frontier crossings. After cutting the country in half, the farmers blocked central Greece's link with the southern Peloponnese region barricading the Corinth Canal with black-flagged tractors on Monday and refusing passage to travellers including sick and elderly people.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that "cracking down" on protests that you predicted once the police were fired on by the protesters?  Did a crack down ever occur?  Do the protesters have a real upper hand?  Should I be stocking up on cheese to throw at the police here in the US?  Instead of wasting good cheese like they do in Iceland, I'm thinking of packaging my own feces in cheesecloth and selling the little gems at US riots.  Could be a real $maker!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 12:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No crackdown yet ? however everything went quiet in the new year, so I guess the pressure was vented. however, there were a couple of events last week that didn't look good, but I was completely unaware about this protest.

things are going to be interesting in greece very soon.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 01:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
some months ago I stated that I was waiting to see your take on Obama in terms of any real change, any real improvement.

What's your current view?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Jan 29th, 2009 at 09:07:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ECONOMY & FINANCE
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:11:47 PM EST
Germany Cabinet Approves Rescue Package to Lift Economy | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 27.01.2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government agreed to implement a second economic stimulus package on Tuesday, Jan. 27. The program calls 50 billion euros ($66 billion) worth of investments, aid to businesses and tax breaks.  

The stimulus program, agreed to by Merkel's Christian conservatives and Social Democratic Party earlier this month, calls for tax cuts and investment in roads and railways as well as schools. The package is intended to lift Germany out of its most severe postwar recession.

 

The program now goes to parliament where it is expected to pass with little resistance. An earlier set of measures that the government valued at 31 billion euros and approved in November was widely criticized as insufficient to revive Europe's biggest economy.

 

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Fewer emission could mean less in taxes in the future

The plan calls for altering Germany's automobile tax in favor of more environmentally friendly cars while having little effect on larger cars, which tend to emit more greenhouse gasses. As of July 1, emissions will play a larger part in determining how much tax car owners pay for their vehicles

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
World Economic Forum: Davos During the Downturn - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The financial crisis has spread and deepened since the last World Economic Forum. Now's the time to find a way forward during these times of economic downturn.

This will be my eighth World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, and I fully expect it to be a special few days. Last year's meeting took place against the backdrop of the first waves of global meltdown, with markets crashing around the world in the days before the great and the good met in the snowy Swiss village.

 The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is taking place in Davos, Switzerland this week. Questions about how far the ripples of the crisis would reach and how many sectors would be affected dominated the meeting. There was much talk of global "policing" mingled with debates on whether the rates of growth in emerging markets could create a decoupled model and how deep the various forms of economic bailout would need to be.

Such discussions now seem like a far-off dream. The waves of bad news have only grown over the past year, with the breadth, depth, and severity of the shocks to the global economy increasing every month. The responses by governments, corporations, and other global agencies have reached ever-greater levels of urgency, scale, and, in some cases, desperation. Solutions that would have seemed left-field a year ago are now commonplace, and we all have a clearer sense of how the combination of massive interdependence and pervasive local difficulties can combine to create a perfect storm.


by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The poor dears. Meeting around a cheery log fire in the snowy Alpine village, discussing with philanthropy the higher interests of mankind, little did they imagine that wave upon wave of bad news would shake their confidence in the very foundations of etc etc

How could they have known?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:45:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Europe's welfare system a model for the 21st century? - International Herald Tribune

DAVOS, Switzerland: Along with skiing and partying into the night, Europe-bashing has long been a favorite sport, whenever the world's business and political elite gather here for their once-a-year winter schmoozefest.

But this year many of the critics have fallen conspicuously silent. As top executives, government leaders and a wide range of experts gathered Tuesday for the weeklong World Economic Forum to talk about the challenges facing the battered global economy, the question many were asking was this: Could Europe's much-reviled social welfare system actually end up being the model for the 21st century world?

In the United States, the global stock market rout has wiped out trillions of dollars in retirement savings and rising unemployment is leaving more people without health insurance. In response, officials of the new administration of President Barack Obama have been busy studying the Swedish bank bailout of the 1990s and the Swiss and Dutch health care systems and have been quietly contemplating whether Europe's high fuel taxes and carbon trading system are the right way to limit the burning of fossil fuels that contributes to global warming.

In China, where the demise of the American consumer has exposed the perils of excessive savings at home, the government has not only recently proffered a big Keynesian-style stimulus program but has also just announced a three-year plan to provide universal health care. Though modest by comparison, China's health care plan goes in the direction of what has long been considered a fundamental right in Europe.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:21:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe-bashing has long been a favorite sport

The IHT should know.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 01:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1)
"... the question many were asking was this: Could Europe's much-reviled social welfare system actually end up being the model for the 21st century world?..."

Why do I doubt that many were asking this question, or anyone of significance?

  1. Can anyone give a short explanation of the Swiss and Dutch health systems, especially vs the French (the most highly regarded of systems, by most accounts.)

  2. Would vis-à-vis have been appropriate in the sentence above instead of vs?


Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 03:37:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Proposed Nabucco Gas Pipeline Gets European Bank Backing | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.01.2009
The heads of the EU's European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said Tuesday, Jan. 27, that they are prepared to provide financial backing for the Nabucco gas pipeline. 

Spurred on by Europe's worst-ever gas crisis earlier this month, which left millions of homes across the continent without heat in the depths of winter, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany invited top-ranking officials from both the EU and the countries involved in Nabucco to inject fresh momentum into the slow-moving project.

Nabucco, an ambitious but still-unbuilt gas pipeline aimed at reducing Europe's energy reliance on Russia, is a 3,300-kilometer (2,050-mile) pipeline between Turkey and Austria. Costing an estimated 7.9 billion euros, the aim is to transport up to 31 billion cubic meters of gas each year from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

Nabucco currently has six shareholders -- OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, Transgaz of Romania, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria, Botas of Turkey and RWE of Germany.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:30:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | EU pipeline scheme gains momentum

Central and southern European leaders have voiced strong backing for a major pipeline project that could reduce EU reliance on Russia for gas.

But the talks in the Hungarian capital Budapest did not result in a pledge of direct financing for the 3,300km (2,050-mile) Nabucco gas pipeline.

Nabucco would bring Central Asian gas to western Europe via Turkey and the Balkans, bypassing Russia.

It is expected to account for no more than 5% of EU gas needs.

The Budapest meeting followed serious disruption to European gas supplies during Russia's recent dispute with Ukraine.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:32:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's so damn frustrating to see so much political capital invested in this. What a waste.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:54:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia 'halts missile deployment'

My hope is that this would be the first in a series of reciprocal moves that would bring Russia and the US and Europe back into innovative partnership on not just energy issues.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 09:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I asked this question in your diary. now this could all be a bio-fuel type mistake, but I have to wonder seeing as the pipeline is supposed to go awfully close to real supplies.

<blockuqote>I was wondering if all of this was a bluff. There's a huge amount of political effort going into building a pipeline and I refuse to believe they'd be building it to nowhere unless the somewhere was politically not to be spoken aloud.

Instead of turning left, how about turning right ? Mosul ? I R A N ? </blockuqote>

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 09:31:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Treasury easily sells record $40 billion in two-year notes

The bond market had a welcoming gift for new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner today: The government had no trouble selling a record sum of two-year notes.  Strong bidding at the auction of $40 billion of notes could help allay worries that the Treasury's massive borrowing plans for this year will run into waning investor demand.

The auction also is a sign that many investors remain too fearful to put their money into anything without an iron-clad guarantee of principal.

"It tells you everybody's still looking for safety," said John Canavan, a fixed-income analyst at Stone & McCarthy Research in Skillman, N.J.

Investors put in $107 billion in bids for the two-year notes, compared with bids totaling $81 billion when the Treasury offered $38 billion in two-year securities for sale last month.  The annualized yield on the new two-year T-notes was 0.925%, just slightly above the yield at the December auction.

Still, shorter-term securities typically are easier for the government to sell than longer-term issues. Yields have rebounded on 10-year and 30-year Treasuries in recent weeks from last month's record lows, suggesting that investors were beginning to pull back.

Regarding the Chicago School allegations regarding stimulus spending cited in today's open thread, perhaps the easiest way to get money from the wealthy spent on socially useful investments in this climate is for the government to borrow the money from them via treasuries and then for the government to spend that money on investments said wealthy business people are afraid to do themselves.  They have made such a mess of things they prefer 2% with a government guarantee to any alternatives.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 06:19:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Treasury awards TARP balance | ABCNews | 27 Jan 2009

As Obama ended his day with Republican lawmakers, the Treasury Department said today that it had distributed another $386 million to 23 banks in 16 states Friday. They were the first awards from the $700 billion federal bailout fund since Obama took office a week ago.

Today, the president met separately with GOP members of the House and Senate as debate began on the massive $825 billion combination of tax cuts, bailouts and public works spending.
"He wants to hear their ideas. If there are good ideas, and I think he assumes there will be, that we will look at those ideas," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 08:00:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dutch ING bank is announcing €3.9 billion ($5 billion) losses and cutting 7000 jobs. But it started from a "catastrophic" success of its postal banking.

FT.com: Knock-on effect of success in online banking hits ING

ING embarked on a gradual expansion of direct banking a decade ago, seeking to capitalise on its experience in retail savings operations, which was built up through running Postbank at home, the post office savings bank.

In the US, where it launched ING Direct in 2000, the bank chose to become a "thrift" or savings association that was required to put at least 55 per cent of its assets into mortgages.

Since ING could attract online savers with eyecatching interest rates much quicker than it could write its own mortgages, the bank started buying mortgage-backed securities.

"Originating mortgages takes time," said Koos Timmermans, chief risk officer. "So the first thing we did was invest in Fannie Maes and Freddie Macs. We built a portfolio, but after reaching a level of $9bn-$10bn we said it's prudent to also look at other originators."

That led to the €27.7bn Alt A portfolio, a group of securities that lie between subprime and prime and which in recent months had dragged ING's share price ever lower.

by das monde on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 03:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

WIND ENERGY GROWS BY RECORD 8,300 MW IN 2008 [in the US]

Smart policies, stimulus bill needed to maintain momentum in 2009

The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity (enough to serve over 2 million homes), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today, even as it warned of an uncertain outlook for 2009 due to the continuing financial crisis.

The massive growth in 2008 swelled the nation's total wind power generating capacity by 50% and channeled an investment of some $17 billion into the economy, positioning wind power as one of the leading sources of new power generation in the country today along with natural gas, AWEA added.  At year's end, however, financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle and layoffs began to hit the wind turbine manufacturing sector.    



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:14:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Global Economy - Deep gloom marks Davos opening
Deep gloom hung in the mountain air around Davos in the opening session of the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, with economists, officials of international organisations and finance ministers predicting a troubled period with a high risk of protectionism.

There was little confidence that the programmes of fiscal stimulus in many advanced countries would be very effective in mitigating the degree of decline in global output in 2009 and no hope that a coordinated strategy would be agreed among rich and poor countries.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Global Economy - Capital flows to developing world at risk of collapse
Capital flows to emerging markets are in danger of collapsing this year as the financial crisis in advanced economies risks choking off the supply of credit to the developing world, an association of large banks warned on Tuesday.

The Institute for International Finance forecasts net private sector capital flows to emerging markets will be no more than $165bn (€125bn, £116bn) this year, less than half the $466bn inflow in 2008 and only one fifth of the amount sent in the peak year of 2007.

The figures underscore the impact the banking crisis and risk-averse investors are having on emerging market economies, one of the central issues at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, which starts on Wednesday.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Global Economy - Global crisis `could cost 50m jobs'
Global unemployment and poverty are set for a "dramatic increase" in the coming year as the world economic crisis deepens, according to a new report.

Projections by the International Labour Organization, a UN agency, on global employment trends predict that on a worst-case scenario, recorded unemployment could rise by more than 50m from baseline 2007 levels to 230m or 7.1 per cent of the world's labour force by the end of 2009.

In the same scenario the number of people in "working poverty", earning less than $2 a day, could rise to 1.4bn or 45 per cent of all workers, from 1.2bn in 2007.

This would leave as many people below the poverty line as there were in 1997, wiping out all the gains over the past decade and marking "a return to a situation in which more than half of the global labour force would be unemployed or counted as working poor."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:17:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
scream at people that say we should not dump capitalism or finance despite the recent crisis, because we should not forget the past 25 years of prosperity and poverty destruction?

The successes of the recent past WERE ALL FAKE!

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:57:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:12:09 PM EST
Barack Obama promises to lead world on climate change - Telegraph

A week after taking office, the new Democratic president drew another sharp contrast with his predecessor George W Bush, who only thought that man had a limited effect on climate change.

In the course of a ten-minute announcement at the White House, Mr Obama became the first American president to put cleaner energy at the heart of his domestic agenda and to envision environmentalism as a creator of jobs on a large scale and as a boon to the nation's defence.

"We will make it clear to the world that America is ready to lead. To protect our climate and our collective security, we must call together a truly global coalition," said Mr Obama, before signing three executive orders and memorandums on environmental issues.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He should try catching up first.
by det on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 02:54:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Obama reaches out to Muslim world

US President Barack Obama has used his first formal TV interview since taking office to reach out to the Muslim world - saying Americans are not its enemy.

Speaking to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network, Mr Obama reiterated that the US would extend the hand of friendship to Iran if it "unclenched its fist".

It comes as his Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, travels to the region, heralding a new burst of diplomacy.

He will meet Egypt's leader to discuss the Gaza ceasefire and peace efforts.

Egypt has been mediating between Israel and the Palestinians, and between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

Mr Obama told Al-Arabiya that the US sometimes made mistakes and stressed that his administration would adopt a more open diplomatic approach.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting comment on Mitchell by Hurria on Booman:
Booman Tribune ~ BBC refuses to broadcast Gaza charity appeal UPDATE
By the way, Maronites are not Arabs, and they will be the first ones to tell you that - usually rather adamantly. Most are somewhat to extremely hostile toward Arabs, some of them refuse to speak Arabic, they rarely give their children Arabic names, and the really silly ones insist that they are Phoenicians.

The Maronites, particularly the fascist Phalangists, were allies of Israel and acted as Israeli agents during the various invasions and occupations, and committed a variety of atrocities on behalf of and under the direction of Israel, most notably the Sabra and Shatila massacres. You see, Israeli leaders decided very early on that it would be to their advantage to have Lebanon be a Christian-dominated country, and the Maronites were only too happy to volunteer. The Lebanese Orthodox and "regular" Catholics, who DO generally consider themselves Arabs, were less enthusiastic, and generally sided against the Palangists in the civil war.

I don't criticize Maronites for insisting they are not Arabs - lots of peoples living in Arab countries are not Arabs, and ethnic and religious diversity only enriches and strengthens society. I have many relatives-by-marriage who are Maronite, some of whom I love dearly and respect and great deal, some of whom I enjoy a lot, and some of whom I can do without. However, to pretend that a Maronite Lebanese-American is an Arab, and that choosing a Maronite as a Middle East envoy somehow balances out the overwhelming American bias against Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular, and in favour of Israel is either ill-informed or downright deceptive.

Uri Avneri, whom I do respect a lot, is mistaken in suggesting that George Mitchell is an Arab-American, or even remotely self-identifies that way. It will be a pleasant surprise if he does not go along with the traditional American blindly pro-Israel position.


by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:16:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I pointed out in shergald's thread. the Gaza appeal has had considerably more publicity from not being broadcast by the BBC than if it had been. And BBCNews have shown the website and telephone number screen capture from the ad suspiciously prominently whenever they have discussed it as a news issue.

I'm not saying it's a crafty way of actually having their cake and eating it, but.... if it was deliberate , it's genius.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:14:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
transcript

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 09:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Closing jail in Bagram is a puzzle for Obama - International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON: For months, a national debate has raged over the fate of the 245 detainees at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

But what may be an equally difficult problem now confronts the Obama administration in the 600 prisoners packed into a cavernous, makeshift prison on the American air base at Bagram in Afghanistan.

Military personnel who know Bagram and Guantánamo describe the Afghan site as tougher and more spartan. The prisoners have fewer privileges and virtually no access to lawyers. Many are still held communally in big cages. The Bush administration never allowed journalists or human rights advocates inside.

Problems have developed, as well, with efforts to rehabilitate former jihadists who had been imprisoned at Guantánamo. Nine graduates of a Saudi program have been arrested for rejoining terrorist groups, Saudi officials said Monday.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... and an unknown number of detainees lost in the CIA's shadow system of camps around the world, eg Diego Garcia gets mentioned too often for coincidence.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely Diego Garcia is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The Brits wouldn't allow unsavory activities on their land. It wouldn't be sporting.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 03:31:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
your reaction only goes to show how good our pr is.

Our behaviour over the years leaves a lot to be desired, and the governments secrecy over its multiple hypocrisies is something that even Bush never dreamt of emulating.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:35:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite bragging...you had such a head start...but you have to admit that we jumped in with a full result in Iran for you and have been working very hard ever since to emulate your grand hypocracies.

I don't know about "...never dreamt of emulating." Reagan's puppeteers were certainly willing to sell cocaine to their own countrymen to get money for guns...while, no mater how many millions were addicted in the English/Chinese Silk trade, they were always foreigners.

;-)

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:33:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nato losing battle against the Taliban, says IISS - Telegraph
Nato is losing its battle in Afghanistan because of tensions within the alliance, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) .

The think tank said that the Taliban were stepping up the use of suicide bombings and expanding their operations into areas that were previously quiet.

At the same time, Nato members are struggling to agree among themselves what constituted "success" in Afghanistan while the global economic crisis meant that military budgets throughout the alliance were coming under pressure.

The warning, in the IISS's annual Military Balance survey of armed forces around the world, comes as new US President Barack Obama is expected to appeal to America's European allies to send more troops in an attempt to force a strategic breakthrough.

The report said that the Taliban insurgency had continued "unabated" throughout the past 12 months - even moving into previously quiet provinces - adding to pressures on the alliance.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO probably started losing the day after they enterd Kabul. They noticeably started losing after bush went to Iraq. It's shocking that people like IISS, who ought to flipping know this stuff before anyone else, are just getting around to noticing.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:18:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghan Guards Confound U.S. Forces - WSJ.com

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A contingent of Army Rangers was moving toward a target in late October when it came under fire from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Fearful the team would be wiped out, U.S. officers called in air strikes. When the dust settled, 22 Afghans lay dead and six American soldiers were wounded.

Just who these dead Afghans were is still unclear. Afghan and some U.S. officials say they were hired by an Afghan road-construction firm to protect nearby workers. The security company confirms their employment. But other U.S. military officials say the Afghans were militants who targeted American troops.

Armed private security companies are proliferating in Afghanistan -- hired in many cases to protect Afghan companies doing work for the U.S. And for the American forces who regularly encounter these armed men, it is perilously hard to discern their identities and their loyalties. Some of these guards may be linked to the militant leaders or drug traffickers who regularly battle U.S. troops.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:27:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The incompetence of Coleman's lawyers is really amazing. Yesterday he brought in some witnesses who claimed that their absentee ballots had been improperly rejected. From TPM.
One of the voters was Douglas Thompson, who admitted under oath that his girlfriend filled out his absentee ballot application for him, signing his name with her own hand and purporting to be himself. His ballot was rejected because the signature on his ballot envelope (his own) did not match the signature on the application (his girlfriend's). The Coleman team's argument appears to be that he is still a legal voter in Minnesota, as the signature on the ballot was his own, even if admitted dishonesty was involved in getting the ballot.

Keep in mind: Thompson's story came up during the direct examination by Coleman lawyer James Langdon. So the Coleman camp fully knew this information and decided to make him into a witness.

Another one of the voters, an older man named Wesley Briest, initially responded that he voted at the polls -- not by absentee. Then Coleman attorney James Langdon showed him his absentee ballot envelope, reminding him that he did not go to the polls, too. Upon cross-examination by Franken lawyer Kevin Hamilton, Briest admitted that his wife, who served as the witness on his ballot, did not fully complete the witness section of the absentee ballot.

The way this trial is going, Coleman has a good chance at being able to take Franken's old job as a comedian...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 02:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the parties in the upcoming Israeli elections is called The Holocaust survivors & Grown-up Green Leaf Party. Their platform includes
Holocaust Survivors - Immediately raise legislation and press for a financially secure, dignified existence for Holocaust Survivors in Israel NOW

[...]

Grown-Up Green Leaf - Legalize and facilitate medical marijuana and industrial hemp; improve public awareness about drug use in Israel

SInce they are a combination of two parties, one of which got into the old parliament, they may just win seats in the upcoming election.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 04:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Michael Geist - Why the U.S. Lost Its WTO IP Complaint Against China. Badly.
The World Trade Organization yesterday released its much-anticipated decision involving a U.S. complaint against China over its protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.  The U.S. quickly proclaimed victory, with newspaper headlines trumpeting the WTO panel's requirement that China reform elements of its intellectual property laws.  For its part, China was conciliatory and offered to work with the international community to resolve the concerns raised by the decision.  Reuters notes that the Chinese reaction is far less combative than it has been other issues.

Why the muted response?  I suspect that it is because anyone who bothers to work through the 147 page decision will find that the headlines get it wrong.  The U.S. did not win this case, but rather lost badly. China is required to amend elements of its copyright law, but on the big issues of this case - border measures and IP enforcement - almost all of the contested laws were upheld as valid.
by Bernard on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 10:11:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WTO's China Piracy Ruling: All Bark And No Bite - Forbes.com
Washington claimed a tactical victory in its intellectual property case against China, but it is losing the war.

In its efforts to get China to curb piracy, the United States claims that it now has the World Trade Organization on its side. But the proclamation of victory is empty or premature, or both.

by Bernard on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 10:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:12:32 PM EST
The great divide: Green dilemma over plans for Severn barrage - Green Living, Environment - The Independent
Britain's biggest engineering project since the Channel tunnel threatens to divide the environmental movement

Britain's environmental movement was yesterday presented with its starkest choice yet: whether or not to support the world's largest-ever renewable energy project which will result in unprecedented ecological damage to one of our most important natural habitats.

The giant £20bn Severn barrage, which would stretch 10 miles from Lavernock Point near Cardiff to Brean Down near Weston-super-Mare, would harness the tides to generate up to 5 per cent of the UK's electricity needs - the equivalent of eight typical coal-fired power stations. This is crucially important in the fight against climate change.

But environmentalists fear that by blocking the Severn estuary completely, the barrage would destroy vast areas of mudflats and mashes, which are vital feeding grounds for tens of thousands of wading birds, and prevent migratory fish such as salmon and eels from ascending rivers to spawn. Other environmentalists think such a large project would divert resources away from other key renewable technologies such as wind power.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just politician's large project wet-dream syndrome. This isn't so much about UK energy strategy as massaging certian MP's egos.

I suspect this is being proposed in order to fail. then they'll say "we tried the green thing and you wouldn't even agree that, so there's no point trying to please you. Nuclear it is"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:21:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taming Traffic Chaos: Germany Exports Punctuality to Colombia - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The Colombian city if Cali is known for its astonishingly chaotic city streets. Now, a German company is helping establish some degree of order. A new city bus system is set to introduce Teutonic punctuality to Latin America.

The fight between good and evil is represented by the colors green and red, at least that is the way Miguel Castro sees it. Castro is a bus driver in the Colombian metropolis of Cali, and the two colored lights on his dashboard tell him whether he is behind schedule or not. For Castro the panel of lights is a small revolution. Prior to their arrival, there were only the timetables to rely on -- treated by drivers more as a broad recommendation than as hard and fast rules.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:19:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A colossal mistake? Art world baffled by 'Goya' masterpiece - Times Online

For nearly 200 years it has been regarded as one of Francisco de Goya's towering glories. But today it is revealed that The Colossus was not painted by the Spanish master at all.

After a seven-month investigation, experts at Madrid's Prado Museum came to the reluctant conclusion that the masterpiece was probably the work of Asension Julia, one of Goya's assistants.

Authorities said the painting, which has hung in The Prado for 78 years, was "Goyaesque but not by Goya".

Manuela Mena Marques, head of 18th Century art at The Prado, said: "Seen with adequate light, the poor technique used in its light and colour becomes manifest, as does marked difference between The Colossus and other masterpieces attributed to Goya,"

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:26:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's lucky someone noticed this so quickly.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 09:04:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Q & A: Former McCain Blogger Michael Goldfarb : CJR
I am not convinced that Sarah Palin hurt the campaign. People think that this decision was made in some kind of vacuum. I'm not convinced that a McCain/Romney ticket would have outperformed a McCain/Palin. Well, maybe if we'd done Lieberman we would have been down fifteen points after the convention instead of up four. I'm not convinced that Palin, even with all her weaknesses, wasn't the most plausible ticket you could have put forward this year.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:16:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Politics | Nuclear plant 'quake ban' lifted

An outright ban on locating new nuclear power stations in areas of the UK which are susceptible to earthquakes has been lifted by the government.

The move was the only major change to the siting criteria, which also include restrictions on proximity to towns and certain military facilities.

Ministers said the UK's earthquake risk was "modest" and power stations could be built to withstand any activity.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 05:23:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please help me with my Davos question | open Democracy News Analysis
Hobbes
Posts:
Joined: 2004-08-22
Good question, Tony.

Good question, Tony.

Though I do admit to a certain fondness for the bluntness of the European Tribune:

"Why are we still listening to the people whose ideas and policies drove us into the current crisis?"
Submitted on Tue, 2009-01-27 23:37



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 08:27:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Transition Culture Question for the Business Leaders at DAVOS » Transition Culture

Dear All,
Yes, yes, apologies about the crap grammar and dreadful typos... it was Friday, it was very late, and it was revised as I was dashing out to get home. It is "i before e except after c", I do know that, I can only blame haste and tiredness. However, the good news is that our collaboratively cobbled together question has been selected!!

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/01/07/davos.deardavos/#cnnSTCText

They have corrected my poor spelling and will hopefully turn "it is" to "is it".... so, we may yet get our question asked. There are some other great ones there too, my favourite is the European Tribune's question "Why are we still listening to the people whose ideas and policies drove us into the current crisis?"

So yes, many apologies for the poor grammar. And lets see how it gets responded to....



Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 08:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
M of A - Billmon: Obama at the Plate

In Aichi, central Japan, a Buddhist monk has reportedly been playing the president's speeches during his temple service. And dozens of students in an English-language class in Tokyo have been memorizing his 2004 Democratic Convention speech to improve their understanding and pronunciation.

"Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely," the students at Kaplan Japan school recited together Friday.

"The Speeches of Barack Obama" has sold 420,000 copies since its release on Nov. 20 -- an "unprecedented huge hit" for an English-language text, according to publisher Asahi Press.

Any book that sells more than 100,000 copies in Japan, which has a population of 128 million, is considered a success, and foreign-language publication sales rarely exceed 20,000, the publisher said.

...

Although the simplicity of campaign speeches makes them an obvious choice as a language-learning tool, other American presidents have rarely been so feted.

"We don't publish every single president's speeches," Asahi Press official Yuzo Yamamoto said. "Would you buy the text of former President George W. Bush's speeches?"

how to cause drain bamage...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 09:29:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent - johann Hari - Why should I respect these oppressive religions?

Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism - giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds - are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we "respect" religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten - to put him on the side of the religious censors.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind - and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth.
[....]
Anything which can be deemed "religious" is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN - and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah "will not happen" and "Islam will not be crucified in this council" - and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.
[....]
To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women's, those children's, this blogger's - or their oppressors'?

As the secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: "The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom."

Those of us who passionately support the UN should be the most outraged by this.

Underpinning these "reforms" is a notion seeping even into democratic societies - that atheism and doubt are akin to racism. Today, whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents immediately claim they are the victims of "prejudice" - and their outrage is increasingly being backed by laws.
[....]
a free society cannot be structured to soothe the hardcore faithful. It is based on a deal. You have an absolute right to voice your beliefs - but the price is that I too have a right to respond as I wish. Neither of us can set aside the rules and demand to be protected from offence.

Yet this idea - at the heart of the Universal Declaration - is being lost. To the right, it thwacks into apologists for religious censorship; to the left, it dissolves in multiculturalism. The hijacking of the UN Special Rapporteur by religious fanatics should jolt us into rescuing the simple, battered idea disintegrating in the middle: the equal, indivisible human right to speak freely.




keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Danish public broadcasting reports that a large weapons cache has been uncovered in the hands of "Danish-Bosnian" criminals. Preliminary reports speak of AK47s, submachine guns and other Really Nasty Things among the confiscated contraband.

This follows a heist earlier this year where a military base was robbed of a carload of "around 200 military-grade firearms" - which can mean anything from carbines to light machine guns.

No word so far on whether the two are related.

A little caution is advised, of course, in taking the police reports as gospel regarding the nationality of the criminals; Danish police has in the past displayed a certain - ah - flexibility when it comes to grabbing brown people and chucking some charges at them in the hope that something sticks.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 01:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:12:53 PM EST
This is a joke. Maybe the point will be lost in (my bad) translation but this is how (some) Serbs see the world humorously...
-------------------------------
Socialism : You have 2 cows , government force you to give one to your neighbor.

Communism: You have 2 cows government confiscates both of them and gives you a little bit of milk.

Fascism: You have 2 cows and government confiscates both of them and sells some milk to you.

Nazism: You have 2 cows and government confiscates both of them and fusillade you.

Bureaucracy: You have 2 cows and government confiscates both of them, kills one cow, milk second cow and throw milk away.

Traditional capitalism: You have 2 cows. You sell one and you buy bull. Your stock cattle is growing. Your income is growing. You retire and live on a high pension.

American corporation: You have 2 cows. You force them to produce as much milk as 4 cows should. Later you employ an expert to find out why both cows died.

French corporation: You have 2 cows. You go in to the strike (walk out) because you want 3 cows.

Japanese corporation: You have 2 cows. You redesign them to a size 10 times smaller then ordinary cows but make them give 20 times more milk then ordinary cows. Then you  astutely make a cartoon calling it "Cowmon" and that way you advertise them around the world.

German corporation: You have 2 cows. You reconstruct them to be able to live 100 years, eat once in a month and to milk them selves.

British corporation: You have 2 cows. They are both mad.

Italian corporation: You have 2 cows. But you don't know where they are. So you go for  dinner break.

Russian corporation: You have 2 cows. You count them and you see that you have 5 cows. You count them again and you see you have 5 cows. Then you count them again and you see you have 42 cows. Then you count them again and you see you have 2 cows.
Then you stop counting and you open second bottle of Vodka.

Chinese corporation: You have 2 cows. You employ 300 people to milk them. You claim that you have 100% employment and high productivity. Then you arrest journalist who disclosed actual numbers.

Indian corporation: You have 2 cows. You worship them until they die.

Serbian corporation: You have 2 cows. Government sell your cows on tender and make you redundant.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 11:33:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi vbo, This is an old joke, early-internet, perhaps pre-internet.

It is interesting to see your translation though. The subtle differences are a fun reminder of the insanity of languages.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 03:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah...looks like an old joke just modernized...someone added Serbian corporation because that's what's happening at the moment in Serbia...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 07:22:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh, forget my translation...it's a joke of it's own, hahaha.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 07:23:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't even go there. Not a thing for you to be humble about....especially considering that I am from Los Angeles and can't speak Spanish, and live in France and can't speak French.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:16:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Today's situation: You have 2 cows. But you can't get credit to milk them.
by das monde on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 03:29:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice.
Traditional capitalism, being the only positive outcome in the joke, doesn't account of course for the size and sustainability of the pasture.
by Torres on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:24:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You missed this one;-
Tesco British farmer - You have two cows that require £X to produce milk. British supermarkets, as the only outlet, make you sign a contract that gives you £X/2 for the milk. You go bankrupt and Tesco import milk from china while trumpeting their support for british farmers quality standards.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:31:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Across the world, standard measures of economic performance are suddenly producing terrible results. Maybe it is time to change them. Most experts agree that the commonly used indicator, gross domestic product, is an imperfect yardstick of economic activity

FT

Sigh, I should front page this...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:08:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, i needed a good laugh this morning.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:32:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should.

In the context of (y)our Davos question, we may also ask what use these indicators now are in directing the response. Because everyone is still panicking (!!) around GDP decline.

Whereas worrying about the employment rate would make more sense, for one.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 05:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can anyone post it or at least diary it? I'm on my phone for the next couple hours and cannot copy n paste stuff or links.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 06:08:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. Will be up in an hour or so.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 06:15:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Done

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 07:16:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A striking paragraph :

FT.com / Comment / Analysis - A measure remodelled

Mr Cotis suggests that one of the most practical services statisticians can perform is to examine the components of GDP in more detail, to gain a clearer picture of what is happening. Insee has been studying the budgets of French families between 2001 and 2006, distinguishing between their fixed costs - such as housing, taxes and utility bills - and discretionary spending. "Basically, the `free cash flow' of the lowest quintile was 45 per cent of income in 2001 - but five years later it was down to 25 per cent, mostly because of an increase in housing costs," Mr Cotis says.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 06:06:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. The GDP is already a terribly aggregated measure. More aggregation is, consequently, dangerous.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 28th, 2009 at 08:24:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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