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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 31 October

by Fran Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 05:03:03 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1920 – Dick Francis, a British horse racing crime writer and retired jockey, was born.

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:24:20 PM EST
BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Mandelson: Blair does want EU job

Tony Blair does want to be the first president of the European Council, his ally Lord Mandelson has told the BBC.

Mr Blair has made no public comment about the job, which will be created if the Lisbon Treat comes into force.

But Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson said Mr Blair had told him he wanted the job but not so much "he couldn't live without it".

Gordon Brown is lobbying for Mr Blair but a lack of support from EU socialist leaders could scupper his chances.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:41:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We must give in to the EU - or give it up - Telegraph

I know it is bad of me, but I had hoped Tony Blair would become President of Europe. The prospect of his goading and provoking a possible Tory government for a few years seemed irresistible: not least because it might have been the final straw needed to convince the Tories about just what a lost cause Europe is.

The Lisbon Treaty is a great betrayal of the British people.

... and so on.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PETER OBORNE: Did Blair betray Britain for years in his bid to become EU president? | Mail Online

For all the great leaders in British history, to hold the job of Prime Minister has been their one and only ambition. Pitt the Younger, Disraeli, Gladstone, Churchill - each one of these great men laboured ceaselessly to attain what for them was the most wonderful job in the world.

Nor, when first booted out of office, did they quit British politics. Instead they were determined to regain power.

Pitt, Disraeli and Churchill all became Premier again, while Gladstone famously enjoyed no fewer than four periods as Prime Minister, the final one concluding when he was 84 years old.

It is perhaps a measure of how the United Kingdom has changed that today a new type of career politician is beginning to emerge: one who no longer sees 10 Downing Street as an end in itself, but rather as a stepping stone for higher things.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 07:25:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
John Rentoul - Did Blair betray Britain for years in his bid to become EU president?
This is a curious accusation, when the main objection to Blair as President of the European Council is that, faced with precisely this choice, he decided that Britain's interest lay in the alliance with America rather than the conciliatory instincts of many other leading members of the European Union.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 07:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tony Blair's bid to become European Union president appears doomed - Telegraph
Tony Blair's prospects of winning the EU presidency are fading amid serious objections in Europe, with former ally Nicolas Sarkozy appearing to withdraw his support.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mandelson is such a tattletale.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 04:41:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bwahahahaha

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 05:25:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Steve Bell on a similar theme.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 08:34:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain does not support former UK PM Blair's bid to be EU president | France 24

Spain opposes the possibility of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair becoming the first President of the European Union. A senior insider spoke of opinion leaning toward a representative who is not from one of Europe's powerhouses.

AFP - Former British premier Tony Blair's chances of becoming the first-ever EU president wilted Friday, as Europe's leaders sought a lesser light to lead a new-look European Union, officials said.

At an EU summit, Spain added its no vote to those of the Benelux countries and Hungary, and a senior insider spoke of a shifting tide of leaders leaning toward a representative who is not among Europe's powerhouses.

The job, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said, should go to "a convinced European, with a European vocation to strengthen the Union and all that is common about it".

Among the other possibles are Luxembourg's premier Jean-Claude Juncker, Latvian's woman former head of state Vaira Vike-Freiberga, or ex-Irish leader John Bruton.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has ruled himself out, although this usually means little in Brussels.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:42:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU summit sees fresh discussion on top appointments

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - France, Germany, Spain and Austria stuck daggers into the Blair EU presidency bid in and around a summit in Brussels on Thursday (29 October), with Belgian, Dutch, Irish and Latvian names also on diplomats' lips.

Senior sources from the entourage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the new EU president and the related post of EU foreign minister would have to strike "a balance" between the ambitions of Europe's centre-right and centre-left political families.

Mr Zappatero (c) arrives at the summit - the Spanish premier's remarks were seen as a blow against Mr Blair

Paris also called for a "rare bird" of an EU president who can both quietly build agreements in Brussels and act as the "face and voice" of Europe vis-a-vis foreign powers.

The comments on political balance, when seen in the context of the centre-left's clear preference for the EU foreign minister post, would rule out Tony Blair, a former British socialist prime minister, from gaining acceptance. The avian remark stands in contrast to his glitzy, celebrity profile.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:45:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU presidency: Blair out, Balkenende in? | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

As Tony Blair's chances of becoming the first president of Europe are dwindling, plan B (for Balkenende) appears to be swinging into action. The Dutch prime minister's name continues to be mentioned in the corridors of power in Brussels, and his Christian Democrat party confirmed to Dutch NOS TV that they are seriously preparing for a possible departure of their leader.

Jan Peter Balkenende himself cheerfully continues to deny that he is a candidate for the EU's top job and is rejecting speculations as "nonsense". Yet he never explicitly denied that he might leave for Brussels. The Dutch Christian Democrats told NOS that they do not want early elections in case of Mr Balkenende's departure. Instead, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen should become his successor at the head of the cabinet.

Leaving the Dutch in disarray
The Christian Democrats' coalition partners, Labour and the orthodox Christian Union, would prefer for Mr Balkenende to stay. It is not clear how they feel about an early election. Polls suggest that Labour would be decimated, and there would be landslide gains for Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party and leftwing liberal D66. Anonymous sources close to the cabinet told de Volkskrant daily that a snap election would paralyse the government for at least half a year, amidst a financial crisis. Mr Balkenende appears unreceptive to this argument against his leaving, the sources said, adding, "Once Brussels is asking him, he's gone."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:53:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nrc.nl - International - Features - Own diplomats should give the European Union a face
Government leaders argue in Brussels about a diplomatic service for the EU. "If this fails, the influence of the union will be done for."

When the European Union gets involved with the problems in the Middle East, Spaniard Javier Solana travels to the region. He is the EU's foreign coordinator. But there is also a commissioner for foreign affairs who often travels to the Middle East. The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, also goes there sometimes. And then there are the president, prime minister and ministers of the country holding the EU's rotating six-monthly presidency who also almost always try to bring the Israelis and Palestinians closer. At the beginning of this year during the Czech Republic's EU presidency, Czech president Vaclav Klaus and Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek were travelling to the region on the same day. Each with a different task ahead of him, though both travelled on the same plane.

It is a constant annoyance for politicians who feel European cooperation is important: the fact that the great economic power of the EU has not been converted into political authority and influence in the world. This should change as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. When it comes into effect, a new 'High Representative for Foreign Affairs', a sort of foreign minister, will take office. This representative will have more powers than Solana and a diplomatic service of five to eight thousand people.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This representative will have more powers than Solana and a diplomatic service of five to eight thousand people.

Well, this looks like a quite significant EU "jobs" program.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 08:05:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Brussels Blog | A sensational socialist shortlist for EU foreign policy supremo

Still, for what it's worth, here is the shortlist of six candidates that the socialists are proposing for the EU foreign policy job, currently held by Javier Solana of Spain:

a) Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's outgoing foreign minister, who suffered a crushing defeat in last month's German elections at the hands of Chancellor Angela Merkel;

b) David Miliband, the UK's foreign secretary, who says he isn't available for the job, not least because his government wants Tony Blair to be the EU's first president;

c) Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Spain's foreign minister since 2004, and a former EU special representative for the Middle East peace process;

d) Elisabeth Guigou, a member of the French parliament who served as France's EU affairs minister from 1990 to 1993;

e) Alfred Gusenbauer, who was chancellor of Austria for less than two years in 2007-2008 before his term ended, in the words of the German news magazine Der Spiegel, "in fiasco amid infighting, tactical errors and his own over-estimation of himself";

f) Adrian Severin, a former Romanian foreign minister who, as previously noted in this blog, is the winner of a mysterious "Man of the 20th Century Award".

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:19:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did we fight Blair off to get Blairite Milliband in?


Left banks on Miliband for foreign policy job

David Miliband may be "young and brilliant" - according to a Le Monde editorial this week - but there is another reason why many in Brussels are talking about the British foreign secretary as a future EU foreign policy chief: there is not much competition.

Socialist leaders in Europe - a severely depleted group after recent electoral reverses - have set their sights on securing the new foreign policy post, but seem to be struggling to draw up a solid shortlist.

Out the six potential runners, Mr Miliband is seen as the most credible. The pro-European, 44, with strong environmental credentials, has impressed European Union colleagues during his two years in the job.

And Balkenende? Double gah.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 07:35:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
spanish reprots and gossip....

everybody is denying that Moratinos has any chance.. except inc ase Millband gets into the front... then Moratinos will be pushed witha  clear argument.. ei we Spaniards have the euro  and Britain is a pain in the ass in the UE.

So who knows?

A pleasure

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

by kcurie on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 02:32:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Court action against former President Chirac to proceed | France 24
A Paris judge has ordered that legal proceedings against former French President Jacques Chirac should proceed further for misappropriation of public funds when he was the city's mayor.  

A French court on Friday decided to pursue charges of misappropriation of public funds against former President Jacques Chirac for his time when he was mayor of Paris in the 1980s and 1990s.

The court said it will continue investigating whether Chirac may have been aware that some 21 people were paid by the city for fictional jobs, while actually working for Chirac's political party, the RPR (Rally for the Republic).

Chirac's office responded immediately, saying that he was "calm and ready to show" that there were no such fictitious jobs.

The Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, had previously said there was no case against Chirac, and could yet appeal the decision. If so, a court would make a further ruling within a year about whether to continue the investigation.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:44:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Varied reaction to Chirac trial - Justice : news, world | euronews

Jacques Chirac was, in several polls, thought the worst president in the history of the Fifth Republic
when he left office just 30 months ago.

Now some polls say he is the country's most popular politician. Supporters like the UMP's Ewige Antier say hands off!

"I think it's both terrible and pathetic that we should drag in this manner a president of our country in front of the courts for events that took place such a long time ago. I am sad for my country."

The Socialist's François Hollande however wants more light shed on the affair.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:15:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Summit Dallying: Copenhagen Heads for a Crash - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Angela Merkel is blocking aid commitments for climate protection and risking the failure of a global deal in Copenhagen. The chancellor is squandering an opportunity to demonstrate European leadership and show Barack Obama what it really means to be a "citizen of the world."

She was once celebrated as the "Climate Chancellor" and seen as an important campaigner for the environment on the international political stage. Now it appears that it is Angela Merkel, of all people, who is dealing a death blow to international climate deals -- by navigating a shortsighted course within the European Union.

On the first day of the EU summit meeting, with bloc leaders gathered in Brussels, Merkel adopted a stance which enraged environmentalists. The EU, Merkel was quoted as saying, should not be overly hasty in offering financial aid to developing countries for climate-related projects and should wait on China and the US. Concrete pledges should not be made, she said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Right Wing Coup NEW EUROPE - The European News Source
Pro European Tories are mounting a counter attack after what they see as "a right wing coup" that handed control of a planned transnational party and think tank to a group of Euro-skeptics, led by Daniel Hannan MEP and dashed Conservative Central Office hopes of having "a safe pair of hands" in charge. It is rumoured that party grandees like Malcolm Rifkind or Michael Howard, who led the party out of the electoral wilderness and paved the way for David Cameron, were to be given leadership of the two new bodies. Tories claim that a meeting to discuss the new party, called the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, and a think tank called New Direction: Foundation for European Reform, was "hijacked" by Hannan, backed by Conservative Shadow Minister of State for Europe, Mark Francois, when a snap vote was called and Hannan was made Chairman of the new party and Czech Euro-skeptic, Jan Zahradil MEP became the President despite having been beaten by the pro-European Miroslav Ouzky MEP for the leadership of the Czech delegation.

The board of the new party is to be composed of one representative of each of the parties in the European Conservative and Reformists Group, leaving the Tories, who hold 25 of the 54 parliamentary seats as well represented in decision making as the solitary member of the Latvian For Fatherland and Freedom Party. The Secretary General of the party is considered likely to be a current staff member from theECR Group, which, some are suggesting, may not be legal as European law seeks to separate spending by groups from that of political parties or foundations.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:56:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Traian Basescu: There are compromise formulas to enforce the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the year - Top News - HotNews.ro
The Lisbon Treaty will be enforced by the end of this year. The announcement was made by the Romanian president Traian Basescu, who took part in the European Union chiefs of state and of government meeting in Brussels. "There are compromise formulas which will give the Czech Republic satisfaction so that, by the end of this year, the Lisbon Treaty will be enforced", the leader from Cotroceni underlined. The president refused to comment on whom Romania was backing for the EU's presidency, stating only that "Romania has got a strategy "and" a proposal for everything.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:05:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin sees problems emerging with Ukraine paying for Russian gas | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

MOSCOW, October 30 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine is again having difficulty paying for Russian natural gas supplies and the EU is not going to lend Kiev money to solve the problems, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Moscow briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of the year during a dispute with Kiev over unpaid debt.

"It seems we are again seeing problems emerge with [Ukraine] paying for energy supplies," Putin said at a meeting with the leadership of the ruling United Russia party.

Putin added that Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told him by telephone on Friday that President Viktor Yushchenko was blocking payments for Russian gas supplies.

The Russian prime minister said that IMF data showed Ukraine had gold reserves of $27-$28 billion, with a maximum of $12 billion required to cover the payment. He also noted that the European Union had refused to extend any loans to Ukraine to cover its gas purchases.

"The EU has not given Ukraine any money," Putin said. "Ukraine has not received a single cent, not one hryvnia."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:09:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Postal strikes union calls two more 24-hour walkouts | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Postal workers are to stage two all-out strikes over the coming week and a half, the Communications Workers Union announced today.

All CWU members working for Royal Mail will be called out for 24 hours next Friday, 6 November, and the following Monday, 9 November, a spokesman said.

The decision to escalate the dispute comes despite fresh talks between Royal Mail managers and union officials amid an ongoing second wave of strikes, which has already delayed 35m items of mail. Management and union negotiators met last night at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in London, said the organisation's general secretary, Brendan Barber.

Three days of talks earlier in the week failed to halt the latest round of stoppages. The TUC meeting was primarily aimed at laying the groundwork for further discussions next week that Barber will chair.

"Further work is needed on all sides to finalise the terms of a possible settlement and I have put a number of proposals to Royal Mail and the CWU to consider on possible approaches to some of the big issues that remain in dispute. They have agreed to look at these proposals over the weekend and consult appropriately with colleagues with a view to returning to the TUC for further negotiations early next week," he said.

Given the level of public and media interest in the dispute it was "not helpful" to go into details about the talks or any concessions sought by either side, Barber said.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:19:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe leaders incensed by David Cameron's letter | Politics | The Guardian
Sarkozy, Merkel and Zapatero criticise Tories for attempt to delay treaty

Leaders of three of the most powerful states in Europe have strongly criticised David Cameron at the EU summit over a Conservative attempt to scupper the Lisbon treaty.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero are understood to have privately criticised the Tory leader after he sent a handwritten letter to the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, who has been refusing to sign the treaty. The letter was seen as an attempt to influence the Czech Republic, which is the only country not to have ratified the treaty.

Senior British sources familiar with thinking at the highest levels of the EU say the French, German and Spanish leaders all raised questions about Cameron's letter.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 04:38:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tiny ERP | Bloomberg | 30 Oct 2009

[ERP]'s been the province of SAP and Oracle, whose products can carry list prices of thousands of dollars per user. Tiny, Openbravo SL and other open-source software providers write programs that are often given away and can be modified by users, not just their authors. The providers make money by charging for maintenance and services.

Open-source applications and related services will drive $19 billion of revenue away from traditional, proprietary suppliers in 2012, rising from $7 billion now, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

"It ain't hippie idealism anymore," said Brent Williams, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York....

Tiny's Open ERP software manages purchasing, human resources and other administrative tasks. Requests for the software have increased by about 20 percent every two months since January, Pinckaers said.

Telecom Convergence | Bloomberg | 29 Oct 2009

Iliad may be the sole contender for France's fourth mobile-phone license, after Numericable SAS and Omer Telecom's Virgin Mobile France dropped out last week and Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding SAE did the same on Oct. 12. Paris-based Iliad filed an application yesterday, a day before the deadline.

"The new entrant will have to be competitive, and if it's Free, it would be positive because in Internet access it is very, very aggressive and is priced very, very low," said Edouard Barreiro, a representative for consumer group UFC-Que Choisir in Paris. "Thanks to them, we have practically the best Internet offer in Europe." Iliad may be the sole contender for France's fourth mobile-phone license, after Numericable SAS and Omer Telecom's Virgin Mobile France dropped out last week and Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding SAE did the same on Oct. 12. Paris-based Iliad filed an application yesterday, a day before the deadline.

"The new entrant will have to be competitive, and if it's Free, it would be positive because in Internet access it is very, very aggressive and is priced very, very low," said Edouard Barreiro, a representative for consumer group UFC-Que Choisir in Paris. "Thanks to them, we have practically the best Internet offer in Europe." ...

French high-speed Internet-access costs $28.50 a month, compared with $36.98 in the U.K. and $87.32 in Canada, as of September 2008, OECD numbers show. Iliad offers Internet, television, and phone packages for 29.99 euros a month.

In mobile-phone services, France remains among Europe's most expensive markets. French consumers pay about $604 annually for high-end mobile service, compared with $282 in the U.K. and $465 in Italy, according to the OECD.

If it does win the fourth license, Iliad will start offering mobile-phone services within about two years. French high-speed [?] Internet-access costs $28.50 a month, compared with $36.98 in the U.K. and $87.32 in Canada, as of September 2008, OECD numbers show. Iliad offers Internet, television, and phone packages for 29.99 euros a month.

NB. conspicuous absence of US "high-speed" price/SLA, denominated either in USD or EUR or PPP. Last I heard, data speed >250kbs is "high speed" US federal standard. Indeed last month I paid Comcast $81, taxes inclusive, for bundled internet access (~2.4Mps down, $46) and "limited basic TV" channel programming over fiber. I paid T-mobile $51, taxes inclusive, for 1000 minute voice-only base SLA (subject to peak-hour premiums). Total is $132/mo, excluding third-party VoIP service, $30/mo. All together, these telecom services amount to $1,944 per annum.

In mobile-phone services, France remains among Europe's most expensive markets. French consumers pay about $604 annually for high-end [? web access inclusive?] mobile service, compared with $282 in the U.K. and $465 in Italy, according to the OECD.

If it does win the fourth license, Iliad will start offering mobile-phone services within about two years.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 10:50:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Solveig's been on AOL for >15 years, but got phone and internet through BT. A glitch a few weeks ago brought to our attention AOL's latest package for free phone anywhere (well, wherever we need it) and broadband internet .

AOL was £29.99 /month and BT between £100/150 per quarter depending on use.

The new AOL payment is about £31.50 and from that they take care of the BT line charge.

And that's it. It's only a combination of inertia and lack of knowledge that keeps BT afloat......

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 11:13:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Over all, I'd want to conclude that our respective competition commissions have failed to discharge their duties in the best interest of telecom ratepayers during the period under consideration. A period, incidentally, of intense M&A activity and JV losses.

For the sake of argument -- 1993 -2009. currency converter, historical interbank rates... which are ideal, "current" rates. All figures taxes inclusive.

I briefly subscribed to AOL v1.0, v2.0, "dial-up" ISP ISP (DSL), 1992-1993. (I switched to RCN cable as Yahoo! and GOOG directory service came online.) The monthly fee was USD 20.00, iirc, in addition to local landline voice NYNEX, $30.00. 1993 AOL subscription value, GBP 12.17. 15 years later, NYNEX is Verizon and min. SLA rate, unlimited domestic, is USD 69.00 per month. Surprising no one, I hope, I do not subscribe to either AOL or Verizon V/D. (Verizon has advertised "high-speed" DSL at USD 14.95/mo, a 50% discount prior to 2007 rates at $49/mo.)

Today Solveig is paying GBP 31.50 (USD 45.12) plus BT minimum DSL line use of GBP 33.33 (USD 47.27) per month. That is GBP 69.85 (USD 92.39) per month.

I subscribed to Telewest V/D/TV bundle 2002-2003. The monthly rate was GBP 72.00 (USD 118.34). More important, toll-free domestic calls, international calls GBP 0.07 (USD 0.11)...

At least you two won't need to choose between yer GOOG and health insurance premium payment.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 04:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I've confused you, Cat. Solveig is paying £31.00 per month all in to AOL for broadband internet and free calls. About £1.50 per month increase.

BT now gets nothing from us directly, but gets the line rental charge indirectly through AOL.

So we've cut our annual bill by at least £450.00

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 05:37:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
otay. "BT between £100/150 per quarter" quote is a comp then -- what you had paid BT before switching to AOL VoIP/ISP (voice/data)?

My goodness. Why would BT rent out residential lines for £1. I mean, why bother at all?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 07:18:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 09:08:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh dear, I'm not doing a good job of explaining this.

Our monthly payment to AOL has gone up by £1.20 or so to £31.20. Our BT payment has disappeared.

From the monthly payment we now make to them, they pass on £11.25 to BT.

So the outcome is that a total annual bill of (say) £800 - divided £360 to AOL and £440 to BT - is now reduced to a total annual bill of £375, of which AOL gets to keep £240 and BT £135.

So we save £425 of which £305 comes from BT and £120 from AOL....

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 10:33:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, I understood your reply. At first I assumed AOL UK operations (as in USA) were strictly that of ISP rider. Review of recent M&A events disabused me of that notion. Ratepayers such as yourselves evidently have realized savings at the expense of former national utilities. irony. ooo la la.

I'll not quibble whether your payment to BT is disappeared. The key outcomes of er managed deregulation of BT are (1) Carephone Warehouse/AOL UK local loop exchange (lease) purchases, thank you Ofcom; and (2) wholesale discount pass-through, eliminating substantial BT value-add and much of AOL purported value-add to judge by operating expenses shared by ratepayers and AOL.

Of the BT portion, I'm curious what short- and long-term liabilities on AOL books are attributable to equipment leases and so-called IP.

For comparison, see results of ISP rider Vonage (Charter, Cox cable cos.) vs. Verizon (Sprint, AT&T) in re: patent infringement, i.e. unauthorized tech to complete calls between VoIP and incumbent LLU subscribers --royalty-free. Most unsporting wouldn't you say?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 1st, 2009 at 01:17:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can effectively get high speed Internet (over ADSL2+) starting from EUR 14.90 from Neuf-SFR (modem rental is an extra EUR 3). Triple play packages including unlimited telephone calls to a bunch of countries and TV over IP start at EUR 29.90 (Free's own triple play bundle is EUR 29.99).

Free is indeed the nerds' favorite ISP offering plenty of technical goodies at no extra cost, including IPv6 connectivity (one of the very few European ISP to do so).

Its founder, Xavier Niel, one of the few self-made billionaires in France, is widely admired (except by the French traditional business elite, like Sarko's BFF Martin Bouygues), even in the United States.

Not everything is rosy in the Free world though: Free also has a history of playing fast and loose with the consumer rights. The very same consumer group UFC-Que Choisir you quoted praising Free for having brought competition and low prices among French ISP's is also suing them for charging EUR 0.34/minute for their hotline, in violation of the law.

Que Choisir has also been skewering several French businesses, including Free, for brazenly ignoring stringent consumer protection laws that normally allows any individual full access rights to their private information.

Free has also been sued for GPL software license violation: free software activists have taken the ISP to task for refusing to publish the source code of its Freebox modem based on Linux and other software components covered by the GNU GPL license.

Bottom line: Free is a business, not a non-profit. Caveat emptor.

by Bernard on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 04:09:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: even in the United States

Yeah. well, EU competiton is lively, at least. You understand, no telecom has ever offered free text messaging here; unlocked phone market existed for about a second; early-termination and device-replacement fees were SOP until recently; and pay-go billing (12 - 24mo. contracts) wouldn't be available now if EU operators like Virgin and T-mobile hadn't slid in with the post-dotcom crash. Take a look at crackberry/"smartphone" SLAs sometime, keeping in mind that subscribers typically also maintain voice and ISP landlines. The profit potentials for incumbents and mkt entrants are surreal.

Despite the FISA collapse, m'K?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 09:54:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the situation varies largely from one EU country to another, especially for services like Internet access.

The ISP competition in France is the exception rather than the rule; the rule generally being cozy oligopolies where gentleman's agreements ensure that no one will upset the balance too much and the consumer will be milked: grocery stores, retail banking, insurance, mobile phones...

A few years ago, the three cellphone operators in France (Orange, SFR & Bouygues) have been sentenced to a record EUR 500M fine for illegal "market sharing" agreements. This is the market where Xavier Niel wants to play the 4th man; no wonder the French business leaders hate his guts...

by Bernard on Sun Nov 1st, 2009 at 09:15:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wow (RIAA to help enforcing the GPL | Apr 2008) and whammy whoa (boycottenovell.com | 2007). BWAH....

AHAHAHAHA (Overview of 2008 | april.org )

... After the dark years of Microsoft's monopoly, the Free Software has continued to rise, forcing the lead player in the proprietary world to get back to work after the release of Internet Explorer 7 at the end of 2007 and the sources of disappointment it brought in terms of features and support of standards. More generally, there has been an increase in the support of standards such as HTML 5, CSS 3 and SVG in all modern browsers, whether they are Free (Firefox and derivatives), proprietary (Opera) or hybrid (Safari and to a lesser extent Google Chrome)...

HAHahahaaa (US copyleft agitators)

"Open Core" Is the New Shareware

There has been some debate recently about so-called "Open Core" business models. Throughout the history of Free Software, companies have loved to come up with "innovative" proprietary-like ways to use the FLOSS licensing structures. Proprietary relicensing, a practice that I believe has proved itself to have serious drawbacks, was probably the first of these, and now Open Core is the next step in this direction. I believe the users embracing these codebases may be ignoring a past they're condemned to repeat. Read more...

I'm guessing that Iliad suit is still not decided. Bastids!!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 07:43:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:24:56 PM EST
U.S.: Secret Bailouts for Giant Failing Banks of the Future? - IPS ipsnews.net
By Adrianne Appel

BOSTON, Oct 30 (IPS) - Big banks will not be forced to downsize and the public will be the last to know when they fail, a controversial bill unveiled by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Congressman Barney Frank proposes.

The long-awaited "too big to fail" legislation was roundly criticised during a congressional hearing Thursday as a nod to the biggest financial firms in the U.S.

"This is TARP on steroids," said Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat, referring to the U.S. Treasury programme that gave trillions to financial companies.

The legislation was called for by Congress and President Barack Obama in the wake of the trillions recently spent by the U.S. government to rescue behemoth financial institutions like AIG and Bank of America, out of fear that their failure would bring down the whole financial system.

"Taxpayers simply must not be put in the position of paying for losses incurred by private institutions," Obama said in a letter to Frank this week praising the legislation. "When major financial firms fail, government must have the ability to dissolve them in an orderly way, with losses absorbed by equity holders and creditors."

Leading up to the bill, many economists on the left and the right said the only way to protect the finance system and consumers is to break up the gargantuan finance companies that now exist. Former Federal Reserve chairmen Paul Volker and Alan Greenspan, and former labour secretary Robert Reich all favour this approach.

As a result of the mergers and acquisitions during the past 18 months, Bank of America, CitiGroup and J.P. Morgan Chase now control about one-third of U.S. finance and bank business, analysts say.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S., EU urged to find common ground on too big to fail | Special Coverage | Reuters

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Europe are moving at different speeds down possibly divergent paths toward dealing with troubled multinational financial giants, despite promises of transatlantic coordination.

The prospect has some prominent experts in the field of financial regulation worried, with a key U.S. congressional committee scheduled to vote as soon as next week on a new Obama administration plan for dealing with "too big to fail" firms.

"Negotiations to create a unified cross-country resolution process should begin immediately," said a report released this week by the Squam Lake Working Group of 15 academics.

The group urged rapid adoption of at least one measure that could be shared and equally effective in any country.

"Every major bank holding company should be required to regularly file a 'living will' detailing how the bank should be legally resolved in the event of distress.

"Other systemically important institutions ... should also file these plans," said the report, whose authors include Yale University economist Robert Shiller, author of the 2000 book Irrational Exuberance, and Martin Baily, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rep. Frank changes position, says he now supports pre-funded bailout trust   The Hill

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has shifted his position on a key part of the debate over financial reform.

Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Friday that he is in favor of financial firms paying into a pre-funded trust that would cover the costs when the government takes over failing firms. This puts Frank on the side of Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). In testimony to Frank's committee on Thursday, she opposed the notion of raising money from fees after a firm fails. Instead, she said companies should be assessed beforehand.

The Obama administration is strongly urging lawmakers to support new so-called "resolution authority" powers so future administrations don't need to seek bailout money from Congress. The Obama administration and Frank earlier this week both said said they support an after-the-fact assessment to help pay the costs associated with a failed firm. That assessment would fall on firms that have at least $10 billion in assets. It is unclear whether the Obama administration still holds that position.

Steve Adamske, Frank's spokesman, confirmed Friday that Frank has changed his view in favor of a pre-funded pool of money. The switch would represent a major change in how "resolution authority" works.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 11:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vestas wins big Mexican order - Politiken.dk

The Danish wind turbine giant Vestas has won an order to provide 51 wind turbines for the Oaxaca project in Santo Domingo de Ingenio in Mexico, according to a company announcement.

The order, for 51 units of its V80-2.0 MW wind turbines to be completed by the end of December 2010, includes a 10-year service contract and has been placed by Dragados Proyectos Industriales de Mexico S.A.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Redundant at 13: recession costs paperboy his job | UK news | guardian.co.uk

As bailed-out bankers celebrate the return of bonuses, life is not looking so rosy for 13-year-old Kane Middleton and his hamster. He has become one of the youngest workers to lose his job during the recession.

The teenager from Clophill, Bedford, has been made officially redundant from his paper round with no prospect of a payoff, leaving him short of money to spend on his pet hamster, Splodge.

Kane received his notice from Letterbox Direct in the post last week. It read: "It is with considerable regret that we write to inform you that your contract of employment with Letterbox Direct will be terminated for reasons of redundancy with effect from 19 October.

"You will not be required to work your notice period and therefore this date will be your last date of employment within the company.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:20:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why South American economies are rebounding first:

But the recovery has two faces.

Brazil and other commodities-­exporting nations in South America are blazing the way forward thanks to increased trade with China, as Mexico and Central America languish from a sustained drop in demand in the US.

"Every time that the US or Europe or any other of the big world locomotives were in trouble, Latin America fell," says Alfredo Coutino, Latin America director at Moody's Economy.com. "This is the first time in many, many decades in which Latin America is better prepared, in terms of economic strengths, to deal with the external recession."



"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 08:17:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A stroll back in history, Courtesy of Jesse's Café Américain

End Bank Law and Robber Barons Ride Again
Published: Sunday, March 5, 1995  NYT
To the Editor:

Re "For Rogue Traders, Yet Another Victim" (Business Day, Feb. 28) and your same-day article on Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin's proposal to eliminate the legal barriers that have separated the nation's commercial banks, securities firms and insurance companies for decades: The American Bankers Association, Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato, Representative Jim Leach and Treasury Secretary Rubin are gravely misguided in their quest to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act.

Their contention that insurance companies, commercial banks and securities firms should be freed from legislative obstructions is predicated on fallacious, historically inaccurate statements. If the Baring Brothers failure does not give them pause, a history lesson is our only hope before the Administration and bank lobby iron out their differences and set the economy back 90 years.

The argument that American financial intermediaries will become "more efficient and more internationally competitive" is false. The American financial system is the most stable, most profitable and most dynamic in the world.

The notion that Glass-Steagall prevents American financial intermediaries from fulfilling their utmost potential in a global marketplace reflects inadequate understanding of the events that precipitated the act and the similarities between today's financial marketplace and the market nearly a century ago.

Although Glass-Steagall was enacted during the Great Depression, it was put in place because the Aldrich-Vreeland Act of 1908, the blue-sky laws following 1910 and the Federal Reserve System of 1913 failed to keep the concentration of financial power in check. The investment climate that ultimately led to Glass-Steagall was one filled with emerging markets, interlocking control of productive resources and widespread bank ownership of securities.

Ever since railroad securities began driving secondary capital markets in the late 1860's, "emerging markets" have existed for investors looking for high-yield opportunities, and banks have been primary agents in industrial development. In the 19th century, emerging markets were scattered throughout the United States, and capital flowed into them from New York, Boston, Philadelphia and London. In the same way, capital flows from the United States, Japan and England to Latin America and the Pacific rim -- today we just have more terms to define the market mechanisms.

The economy and financial markets were even more interconnected in the 19th century than now. Commercial and investment banks could accept deposits, issue currency, underwrite securities and own industrial enterprises. With Glass-Steagall lifted, we will chart a course returning us to that environment.

J. P. Morgan and Andrew Mellon made their billions through inter locking directorates and outright ownership of hundreds of nationally prominent enterprises. Glass-Steagall is one crucial piece of a litany of legislation designed to place checks and balances on the concentration of financial resources. To repeal it would be tantamount to bringing back the days of the robber barons.

The unbridled activities of those gifted financiers crumbled under the dynamic forces of the capital marketplace. If you take away the checks, the market forces will eventually knock the system off balance.

MARK D. SAMBER
Stamford, Conn.
Feb. 28, 1995

The writer is a management consultant specializing in business history.


As usual, those with a knowledge and understanding of the relevant history are easily marginalized. Samber got his warning published in "The Paper of Record" but, without the massive donations available to Wall Street, he was easily ignored.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 09:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PBS Frontline: The Long Demise of Glass-Steagall

   In December 1996, with the support of Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Board issues a precedent-shattering decision permitting bank holding companies to own investment bank affiliates with up to 25 percent of their business in securities underwriting (up from 10 percent).

    This expansion of the loophole created by the Fed's 1987 reinterpretation of Section 20 of Glass-Steagall effectively renders Glass-Steagall obsolete. Virtually any bank holding company wanting to engage in securities business would be able to stay under the 25 percent limit on revenue. However, the law remains on the books, and along with the Bank Holding Company Act, does impose other restrictions on banks, such as prohibiting them from owning insurance-underwriting companies.

    In August 1997, the Fed eliminates many restrictions imposed on "Section 20 subsidiaries" by the 1987 and 1989 orders. The Board states that the risks of underwriting had proven to be "manageable," and says banks would have the right to acquire securities firms outright...

    As the push for new legislation heats up, lobbyists quip that raising the issue of financial modernization really signals the start of a fresh round of political fund-raising. Indeed, in the 1997-98 election cycle, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries (known as the FIRE sector), spends more than $200 million on lobbying and makes more than $150 million in political donations. Campaign contributions are targeted to members of Congressional banking committees and other committees with direct jurisdiction over financial services legislation.


The link takes you step by step through the debacle to 2003 in a text based timeline.

   

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 11:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We delegated the power to regulate and, apparently, the power to interpret the Glass-Steagall act itself to the Federal Reserve Board, which is recognized by Federal Statute, but owned by its member banks. Who could have imagined that the Fed would chose to act in the immediate interest of the most powerful of its constituent banks rather than in the long term interest of the United States of America? By Greenspan's account, he could not even recognize that this is what he was doing. Who can find any of this credible?  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 11:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Asia-Pacific - Fugitive banker arrives in Thailand
A fugitive former adviser to a Thai bank whose failure helped spark the 1997 Asian financial crisis has arrived in Bangkok to face prosecution, following his extradition from Canada, police say.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 07:31:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:25:28 PM EST
POLITICS: U.S. in Pakistan's Mind: Nothing But Aversion - IPS ipsnews.net
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Oct 30 (IPS) - To the west of Peshawar on the Jamrud Road that leads to the historic Khyber Pass sits the Karkhano Market, a series of shopping plazas whose usual offering of contraband is now supplemented by standard issue U.S. military equipment, including combat fatigues, night vision goggles, body armour and army knives.

Beyond the market is a checkpoint, which separates the city from the semi-autonomous tribal region of Khyber. In the past, if one lingered near the barrier long enough, one was usually approached by someone from the far side selling hashish, alcohol, guns, or even rocket-propelled grenade launchers. These days such salesman could also be selling U.S. semi-automatics, sniper rifles and hand guns. Those who buy do it less for their quality--the AK-47 still remains the weapon of choice here--than as mementos of a dying Empire.

The realisation may be dawning slowly on some U.S. allies, but here everyone is convinced that Western forces have lost the war. However, at a time when in Afghanistan the efficacy of force as a counterinsurgency tool is being increasingly questioned, there is a newfound affinity for it in Pakistan.

A survey conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in July 2009, which excluded the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP)--the regions directly affected by war--found 69 percent of respondents supporting the military operation in Swat.

A different survey undertaken by the U.S. polling firm Gallup around the same time, which covered all of Pakistan, found only 41 percent supporting the operation. The Gallup poll also found a higher number--43 percent--favouring political resolution through dialogue.

The two polls also offer a useful perspective on how Pakistanis perceive the terrorist threat. If the country is unanimous on the need to confront militancy, it is equally undivided in its aversion for the U.S.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:34:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hillary Clinton wraps up tough mission in Pakistan | World news | guardian.co.uk

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, wrapped up one of the toughest missions of her diplomatic career tonight after three days of bruising encounters with Pakistanis enraged by US drone attacks in the tribal areas.

The visit was never going to be easy for Clinton, who flew into Islamabad with the goal of blunting anti-Americanism in a country that seethes with hostility towards Washington.

In meetings with journalists, students and other leaders she came armed with a determined smile and a willingness to engage that disarmed even strident opponents. But on the drones, she had no answer.

Time and again Pakistanis pressed her about the covert missile strikes by Predator or Reaper aircraft that have killed up to 1,000 people since 2006, according to one estimate.

"I can't answer that question," she told students in Lahore, according to one guest present. "It's a military to military matter."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US safety authorities impose record £53m fine on BP for Texas City failings | Business | guardian.co.uk

The US government raised grave questions over BP's safety culture today by imposing a record fine of $87.4m (£53m) on the British company for failing to fix hazards at its Texas City oil refinery in the wake of a disastrous explosion that killed 15 people four years ago.

The fine is four times higher than any previous penalty levied by America's workplace safety regulator, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and it raises the possibility that a criminal prosecution of BP over the tragedy could be reopened.

In a sharply worded critique, the Obama administration's labour secretary, Hilda Solis, said that BP had reneged on commitments to fix flaws at America's third-biggest refinery, leaving the plant, south of Houston, in a condition that "could lead to another catastrophe".

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ohh yes!  Can we speak precedent?

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 07:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see there is a diary of this up.  I'll take a look at it later.

Reports of a Deal in Honduras are Premature.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 07:25:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Harkin warns Lieberman: Healthcare filibuster could put chairmanship at risk  The Hill

One of the leading Senate Democrats on healthcare reform legislation fired a warning shot in Sen. Joe Lieberman's direction yesterday, previewing the possible consequences of joining a GOP filibuster. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, told reporters that Lieberman (I-Conn.) ought to consider the benefits of his membership in the Democratic caucus before he decides how to vote on healthcare reform.

"[Lieberman] still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party although he is a registered independent. He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the [Homeland Security] committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic caucus. So, I'm sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote," Harkin said in a conference call.

Lieberman has faced questions about his loyalty to the Democratic caucus ever since he endorsed and campaigned for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president in 2008. After the election, some liberals pressed for him to be expelled from the caucus and stripped of his commitee chairmanship.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 11:53:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The amazing thing is that he still hasn't been kicked out of his chairmanship: he's been nothing else tha a GOP Senator, period. The incumbent protection racket works really well in the US Senate.

When is he up for re-election? 2012?
Will the Connecticut Yankees let themselves be fooled again?

by Bernard on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 07:04:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GOP identity crisis finds new home: Upstate New York   McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- The future of the Republican Party will be tested Tuesday in upstate New York. A special election for an open seat in the U.S House of Representatives has turned into a high-profile proxy war over how the party should come back from the stinging losses of both the House and Senate in 2006 and the White House in 2008.

Will the GOP try to win back power by picking centrist candidates to fit moderate districts when necessary, the "big tent" approach that the Democrats used when they won back control of both houses of Congress in 2006? Or will it pick only ideologically pure conservative candidates, regardless of where they run, convinced that their principles will sell anywhere?

....

Republican county chairmen there picked state legislator Dede Scozzafava out of nine candidates as their nominee, mindful that McHugh was a moderate who often voted against the party line, and that the district had swung to Obama in 2008. One losing candidate for the Republican nomination, Doug Hoffman, refused to quit. He sought and won the backing of the state Conservative Party, setting up a three-way contest with Scozzafava and Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate. With his challenge from the right, Hoffman's become a cause celebre for conservatives nationwide who say their party strayed from its core principles during the Bush years. That's only increased since polls began to suggest that Hoffman might win.

....

One conservative voice for that approach is the man who led the last Republican takeover of Congress, in 1994. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich noted that Scozzafava is backed by the National Rifle Association, opposes the Obama health care plan and pledged to vote against tax increases. He warns that searching for a perfect conservative candidate could split the Republican vote in a three-way contest and help the Democrats, which he said was happening in the governor's race in New Jersey and could happen in the New York congressional race. "If you seek to be a perfect minority, you'll remain a minority," Gingrich wrote on National Review Online. "That's not how Reagan built his revolution or how we won back the House in 1994."

More foam, please!

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 12:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:26:05 PM EST
The Underwater Obama: Maldives President Leads the Charge against Climate Change - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean could disappear by the end of the century. Global warming threatens to raise sea levels, submerging the low-lying archipelago. Newly-elected President Mohamed Nasheed has therefore set himself the task of holding back the tide of climate change.

The Maldivian president is 1.58 meters (5'2") tall. Perhaps he was once a little taller, but his back was ruined in prison.

He has forgiven the people who hurt him. He now has a very different problem on his hands. At its geographic peak, his country is not much higher above sea level than his actual height, and on average it is about a hand-width lower. Apart, that is, from the huge plastic-flecked mound of construction rubble behind the power plant in Male, the nation's capital, although that doesn't really count. What does count is the fact that the Indian Ocean could rise by half a meter by the end of the century. At the same time, a coral atoll is growing at a rate of up to a centimeter a year -- provided the corals are left in peace, and waste isn't simply tipped into the sea. Nothing is particularly simple anymore, and yet politics demands simple messages.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:48:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yemen's water crisis a Mideast warning
Sanaa may be the first capital city in the world to run out of water. If that happens, it will be a signpost to the conflicts over shrinking resources that scientists and sociologists see coming in the decades ahead.

The ancient city, which dates back to the Sabean dynasty of the 6th century B.C., is expected to run out of drinking water as early as 2025 at current consumption levels, according to the Sanaa Water Basin Management Project funded by the World Bank.

The people of Yemen, which lies on the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula, have lived on scarce water resources for centuries. But the current water crisis has been heightened by a rapidly expanding population, accelerating urbanization and the ravages of climate change.

Sanaa's population, currently pegged at 2 million, had quadrupled since the 1980s and is growing by about 8 percent a year, overwhelming the available water supply. The national growth rate last year was 3.46 percent, one of the highest in the world.

A decade ago Sanaa got water from 180 wells. These days that's down to 80 as the aquifers dry up.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel: no chance of Kyoto-style agreement at Copenhagen - Times Online

Angela Merkel today tried to give the world a wake up call to the glacial progress being made towards a climate deal in Copenhagen by writing off the chances of achieving a succesor to the Kyoto treaty this year.

Alarmed by the impasse gripping pre-Copenhagen talks, the German Chancellor warned fellow EU leaders that only a broad political framework was now possible from the negotiations due in the Danish capital in December. She said that the chances of a comprehensive treaty had disappeared.

"It is realistic to say that in Copenhagen we will not be able to conclude a treaty but it is important to lay down a political framework which will be the basis of the treaty," she said at the end of the two-day EU summit in Brussels.

"Copenhagen was supposed to be a post-Kyoto regime. Now we are talking about a political framework and negotiations will drag out longer until we get a treaty."

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU puts €100bn-a-year price on tackling climate change | Environment | guardian.co.uk

European leaders agreed for the first time today that the price tag for tackling global warming would amount to €100bn (£89bn) a year by 2020, up to half of which would need to come from taxpayers' money in the developed world.

But mired in wrangling over how to split the European share of the bill among 27 countries and how much Europe collectively should spend, they failed to agree on urgent short-term funding for combating climate change in the developing world.

Five weeks ahead of the Copenhagen conference on a new international treaty on global warming, an EU summit spent two days immersed in number-crunching rows over the costs and who should bear them.

Difficult decisions were shelved because of an east-west dispute pitting the poorer member states against the wealthy western countries, and because leading EU states such as Germany, France and Italy were reluctant to make specific commitments on funding for the developing world before hammering out an agreement with the US, Japan and other rich states.

"Europe is leading the way, making these bold proposals," said Gordon Brown. "The major decision to come out of this is we're leading the way on the climate change negotiations."

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish winemaker Torres warms to environmentalism | Business | guardian.co.uk
Climate change could devastate vineyards so Miguel Torres is preparing his family company for the worst

Southern Britain may not be the only place in the world where risk-loving vintners can take a chance on global warming. Climate change is already changing habits at vineyards in southern Europe, forcing some producers, such as Spain's Torres, to buy land in the Pyrenees - "just in case", says the company's chairman, Miguel Torres.

Production of pinot noir and chardonnay at 1,200 metres above sea level has already started, showing no less quality than the wine produced on the gentle hills of the Penedès region, just south of Barcelona. Fears are growing, however, that lowland areas could be reduced to dust in a couple of generations. "Temperatures have already risen by one degree," Torres says. "If they increase by five, southern Europe will be full of arid steppes." This one-degree rise has already brought forward the harvest by 12 or 13 days, he says. "Vineyards are very sensitive."

Torres has donated €10m (£9m) of his own money to environmental issues, and is aiming to reduce the output of CO2 in the winery by 30% by 2020. He has a hybrid car and has bought them for his staff, invested in a wind park and is experimenting with the capture and use of CO2 from wine fermentation.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 04:31:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:26:43 PM EST
PORTUGAL: Bible Is "A Catalogue of Cruelties," Says Saramago - IPS ipsnews.net
LISBON, Oct 21 (IPS) - After a nearly two-decade truce, Portuguese Nobel literature laureate José Saramago has returned to the charge against the Catholic Church. This time his target is the Bible itself, which he describes as "a manual of bad morals," and a "catalogue of cruelties and of the worst of human nature."

"About the holy book, I tend to say: read the Bible and you'll lose your faith," said the first, and so far only, Portuguese-language writer to receive the Nobel Literature Prize, which he won in 1998.

In a meeting with the press Wednesday, Saramago repeated the ideas he expressed at an event Sunday in the northern Portuguese town of Penafiel, held to launch his latest book, "Cain", which retells the story of Adam and Eve's first-born son in a light-hearted, irreverent tone.

According to Saramago, there is nothing "divine" in the Bible. And although "Cain" has offended the Church, it won't offend Catholics, he said, because "they don't read the Bible."

It took "a thousand years and dozens of generations" to write the Bible, which depicts a "cruel, spiteful, vengeful, jealous and unbearable God," said the writer, who recommended people not to trust "the God depicted in the Bible."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RIGHTS-US: Gay Bar Raids Draw Community Outrage - IPS ipsnews.net
ATLANTA, Georgia, Oct 30 (IPS) - Two recent police raids of gay bars in Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Worth, Texas have sparked mass protests in the two cities and led activists to question whether equality for persons of all sexual orientations in the U.S. has come as far as some would like to believe.

At around 11: 30 pm on Sep. 10, more than two dozen Atlanta Police officers - some in uniform and some undercover in plain clothes - raided the Atlanta Eagle, a gay leather bar.

The police contingent included several officers from the 'Red Dog', an aggressive unit which typically deals with drug crimes.

All 62 patrons were told to get on the ground. At least one patron, who is deaf and did not understand what was happening, was physically pushed on the ground. Some were handcuffed. When some patrons asked if they could move because there was broken glass on the ground, they say they were told to "shut the f*ck up".

"I'm absolutely appalled, disgusted," Eagle co-owner Robby Kelley told IPS. "To have not only all the employees arrested and taken to jail for 19 hours without bail being set, to have 62 people laid face down into spilled drinks and broken glass, searched... their drivers licenses [checked], kicked, stepped on, cussed at, called fag, things in that area, it's something that should have never happened."

No drugs were found in the establishment after all 62 patrons were searched by police, and the raid seems to stem from a tip to the mayor's office which stated, among other things, that little empty drug bags were found on the ground in the neighbourhood.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:37:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Winds of Change from the East: How Poland and Hungary Led the Way in 1989 - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Everyone remembers the iconic images from the dramatic breaching of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. But the groundwork was laid elsewhere. The fate of Germany and the rest of Europe was decided in Warsaw, Budapest and Moscow.

By that evening of Nov. 10, 1989, Anatoly Sergeyevich Chernyayev had been meticulously keeping a diary for 20 years. Every day, after coming home to his apartment on Deneshny Pereulok from the party headquarters on the Old Square or from the Kremlin, he had sat down at his desk to write in his diary.

After gazing out the window at the Foreign Ministry building, a Socialist Classicist monstrosity built shortly before Stalin's death in the neighborhood where Moscow's coin makers traditionally had their shops, he would write a detailed account of his daily experiences. He focused, in particular, on the thoughts that he could not express at work, where he was surrounded by fellow party comrades: his futile hopes, frustrations and disappointments.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:47:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
E-readers may not solve publisher woes yet | Technology | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Publishers hoping to halt a slide in sales with new electronic reading devices will struggle to get consumers to embrace them until the technology improves, experts say.

The gadgets -- such as Amazon.com Inc's Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc's new $259 Nook -- have created an enormous buzz in the publishing world and marketers hope they will become popular Christmas gifts.

In some respects the new devices still compare unfavorably to the tactile experience of the printed page and lack multiple functions of more advanced technology such as smartphones, industry experts say.

Joe Wikert of O'Reilly Media Inc, a publishing company and media consultant firm, said e-readers are mostly "one-trick ponies," an extra device with only one function, in contrast to multifaceted products such as Apple Inc's iPhone.

So far, e-readers mostly provide "static reproductions of the print version," minus the advantages of hard-copy books that readers have grown accustomed to over the years, such as easily being able to pass a book on to a friend, Wikert said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:52:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Evora, where life bumps to a different rhythm than in Lisbon
The economic development of the Alentejo region of the country poses the same problem faced by many Mediterranean countries. How can innovation and tradition survive side-by-side?

In a nutshell, Alentejo is a magnificent countryside with a space and climate more typical of Nevada than of Europe. I have recently returned from Evora, capital of the region and Unesco world heritage site, which has a population of 40, 000. Here, like in the smallest villages of the region, `life passes by at another pace, a completely different pace to Lisbon,' as my cousin Renata Marques says. She is the young chief of staff of the Governo Civil, the organisation which represents the central government in each region of the country. It was not only the different pace of life that attracted my cousin to the region, but also the prospect of a better quality of life.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:52:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Granted, we only stayed there for about 24 hours, far too short to get any feel for the place in meaningful depth.

That being said, my wife and I both very much enjoyed Évora when we were there this summer. The article seems to get at some of the reasons for it - there is a coherent effort to invest in the city itself, providing an infrastructure to support youthful innovation. It's harder to pin down some of the other reasons we liked it - sometimes you just wind up in a place and it feels right, feels welcoming, and that was Évora.

We'd have stayed longer, but we had an appointment with the beach, and my wife would have killed me had we missed it.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 09:02:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revised Senate shield law could apply to freelancers, bloggers   The Hill

The latest version of a Senate bill that would shield reporters from revealing their sources extends legal protections to freelance authors and bloggers, the bill's sponsors hinted Friday. That landmark change -- and a series of additional tweaks -- has earned Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Arlen Specter's (D-Pa.) proposed Free Flow of Information Act the president's endorsement, consequently ending a month-long stalemate between the White House and Senate Democrats over the bill's size and scope.

"We've come a long way in these negotiations and have now reached a compromise that strikes the right balance between national security concerns and the public's right to know," Schumer said in a statement on Friday. "This new version preserves a strong protection for reporters interested in protecting their sources, while also making sure that the government can still do the job of protecting its citizens."

....

But the compromise announced on Friday suggests both sides have tempered their demands. Although it is unclear which parts of the original bill have changed, the act's sponsors have stressed the thrust of their legislation remains intact.

The most significant edit, however, is the inclusion of freelancers and bloggers under the proposed shield law's umbrella. Previously, the Free Flow of Information Act only covered salaried employees and independent contractors, but Schumer and Specter on Friday hinted that exclusion would no longer be so -- a revision that is likely to spur as much debate on the Hill as it is satisfaction in the blogosphere.

 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 11:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the Sumatran jungle, lessons on the river to school LA Times

Children in the Indonesian jungle navigate a mighty river with plenty to entice and scare modern-day Huck Finns: giant barges, invisible logs and deep currents. And crocodiles and poisonous snakes.

Brothers Fandi, 12, and Alfan, 9, navigate the Kampar River on the hour-long, two-mile journey to school. Fandi rows most of the way, but Alfan also takes turns propelling the 15-foot sampan. There are few roads in the remote Kampar peninsula of Sumatra, and most children get to school by boat.

They're equatorial Huckleberry Finns, two wild-hearted boys guiding an old wooden fishing boat along a wide and mighty river. Fandi and Alfan, brothers with one name each, live in a remote village in the heart of the Sumatran jungle, at once a protected and dangerous place to be a child.

....

This is no Mississippi. These waters are full of crocodiles and poisonous snakes. Worse is the dreaded bono, a rogue wall of water that rumbles up from the nearby ocean, overturning boats and claiming victims.

The currents are fickle and the boys often must wait an hour after school to catch the right conditions to head home. But their plodding pace allows the sights and sounds of the jungle to reveal themselves, and the thrum of life they know is packed into the dense foliage onshore.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 12:35:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Recalling the Yellow Cars while riding the Gold Line extension


Armando Ybarra, who rode the Yellow Cars to work and school on the Eastside as a teen, gets a sneak preview of the Gold Line extension through the neighborhood.

When Armando Ybarra was a teenager in the early 1950s, he used to take an old hulking streetcar to school and work on the Eastside. The fare was about 10 cents, and when the trolleys were too crowded, he would simply grab ahold of something and ride on the outside of the car.

"People were very friendly, very sociable, and you'd feel comfortable," Ybarra, now 70, said, remembering how the streetcar operator would ring a bell and call out the name of each stop. The Yellow Cars disappeared in the early 1960s. But on Friday, Ybarra was invited for a preview of rail's future on the Eastside.

The old days flashed back as Ybarra took a ride on the new Gold Line extension, which runs from Union Station to East L.A. and will open to the public Nov. 15.

There's no hanging out from the trolley doors, and the bulky cars have given way to a sleek machine that will cost riders $1.25 a trip.


When the Gold Line opened there was a north-south light rail connection from Pasadena, in the foothills below Mt. Wilson, with connections via Union Station to Long Beach, on the ocean, via the Blue Line. The Gold Line extension runs south east and will connect the populous East LA area to the system. At Union Station interconnections can be made to AmTrack and local inter-urbans as well as the Red Line to the San Fernando Valley and other mass transit. The Green Line intersects the Blue Line in South Central LA and extends from the wrong side of LAX east along the median of I-105. Were the city council ever to tire of shaking down taxi companies, [ :-) ], connection might be made  directly to LAX.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 01:17:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 03:27:21 PM EST
Sarah Palin to face legal battle over grandson | World news | guardian.co.uk

Relations between the former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston, the teenager who almost became her son-in-law, have deteriorated to the point that a court battle is now inevitable, he has told the Guardian.

The dispute is over Tripp, his infant son by Palin's eldest daughter, Bristol: he claims Palin is preventing him from seeing the child.

"I'm up to the point where I can't see my kid again. I'm done. I'm sure we'll end up in court. We're definitely going to court," Johnston, 19, said in an interview in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 04:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the "financial psychologists"?

Exit Strategies for Parents | NYT | Oct 2009

Adulthood Delayed. Why have fewer than one half of women and one third of men become financially independent by age 30? (more...)

Adulthood Redefined. The temptation or need to cut children loose conflicts with giving them the support to prepare for adulthood. (more...)

The Parent as Enabler. If your offspring spend more than they make, let them go bankrupt. (more...)

No Rainy-Day Skills. During the boom years, those parents who are among the most affluent and educated in the society protected their children from knowledge of the money world as zealously as Victorian parents protected their children from knowledge of sex. This was part and parcel high-investment child-rearing. (more...)

Invest in Independent Offspring. If you decide to provide financial assistance, you must clarify up front whether such financial assistance is conditional or unconditional. By categorizing financial support in this manner, it not only requires you to identify any unarticulated conditions but it also gives your young adult the ability to determine whether or not to accept the assistance. (more...)

Possibly related news:

Anger Against the Rich May Be Unhealthy | NYT | 17 Oct 2009

op.cit

This Week in Counter-insurgency

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Oct 31st, 2009 at 08:06:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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