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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 3 November

by Fran Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:04:14 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

– Birth of Jesús Blasco, a Spanish author and artist of comic books, whose career covered most of the conventional history of comic strips. (d. 1995)

More here and here

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by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:34:52 PM EST
Financial Times - rachmanblog: China has converted me to the importance of the EU
By Geoff Dyer, the FT's China bureau chief

China can do strange things to your politics. I know foreigners who purr about the efficiency of authoritarian bureaucracy and others who search Confucian texts for new political ideas. In my case, China has converted me to the importance of the European Union.

Sitting in Beijing, it is all too easy to feel that Europe is becoming irrelevant, as the US and a rising China stitch up the global agenda. The Chinese have become quite adept at playing one European government against another. When Beijing cancelled a summit with the EU last year to punish Nicolas Sarkozy for meeting the Dalai Lama, the response from other EU capitals was an awkward silence. The European Council on Foreign Relations claims Beijing treats the EU with "diplomatic contempt".

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:51:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Voice (Thomas Klau): Guides for Westerwelle
It is not easy being a European foreign minister these days. A 27-member EU makes for a great deal of complexity; new global powers are flexing their muscles; and the novel and stronger institutional foreign-policy set-up in Brussels that will emerge from the Lisbon treaty will require ministers to show what the French call doigté and the Germans Fingerspitzengefühl - an ability to react flexibly. And with globalisation internationalising all ministers' portfolios, foreign ministers risk being sidelined even within their own government on crucial international issues, such as climate change or global governance.

So Guido Westerwelle, Germany's new foreign minister and leader of the Free Democrats (FDP), should not expect an easy ride. He also faces two additional challenges to establish his authority. A young politician from a smallish party that has long been out of government, he lacks ministerial experience and an international profile. And, as the doyenne of German feminism Alice Schwarzer has pointed out, the prospect of a gay foreign minister serving next to a woman chancellor, whilst welcome across much of Europe as a sign of social progress, is likely to trigger a frosty reaction in other parts of the world.

Westerwelle may come to symbolise the liberalisation of European society. It is an open question, though, how his political liberalism will affect Germany's foreign policy.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:54:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv: Obama 'doesn't care' about Eastern Europe, analyst says
US President Barack Obama sees Eastern Europe as a "Bush administration project" and is not conscious of the need to counter growing Russian influence there, Edward Lucas, who has been The Economist's correspondent for Eastern Europe for over 20 years, told EurActiv Slovakia in an interview.

Edward Lucas, author of the book 'The New Cold War', says that the new Russian concept of "security architecture" in Europe implies the establishment of a condominium in Europe between Russia and the big European countries, excluding the United States and overriding the interests of small EU countries.


Edward Lucas...
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, how sweet, a neolib with Ostalgie

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Losing elections is a bitch.  So, does Russia intend to rent or occupy their European condo? Or, since Russia is a part of Europe, is Russia itself Russia's European condo?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 09:17:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it will be a European time-share condo and Russia will rent it out to the Chinese, Iranians, etc.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 09:20:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edward Lucas
Lucas isn't an idiot. He's just a bit of a fruitcake (and folks, we say that knowing that if this newspaper calls you a "fruitcake," you are no mere slice of raisin bread). Being fairly bright and totally mad, Lucas realizes he might seem to be overdoing the Russian Threat a bit. Again and again, he shrieks that he is not being hysterical and historically obtuse and just plain wrong! Absolutely not! [...]

If most people find the thought of a suitcase nuke in lower Manhattan more frightening than a growing Gazprom portfolio of downstream German energy assets, well, they obviously haven't spent enough time hanging out in the Polish foreign ministry cafeteria listening to Western-educated bureaucrats griping about Russia's imperial intentions, the way Lucas has.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 03:30:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv: Consensus growing for low-profile EU 'chairman'
Confirming that EU leaders appear to read the job description of the first-ever permanent Council president as more of a 'chairman' than a 'leader', agencies reported today (2 November) that the mild-mannered Belgian prime minister, Herman Van Rompuy, is the "most consensual" figure for the top job.

"There is a consensus on his name [Van Rompuy], which is rare among 27 [EU heads of state and government]. Nobody else has unanimity," said an EU diplomat, quoted by AFP.

"Nobody opposes him and many are asking him to accept," said another.

Van Rompuy, who became Belgium's prime minister last year and who turned 62 yesterday, found himself the object of very clear requests to take the post of first permanent Council president at the EU summit on 29-30 October, the sources reportedly added. AFP hinted that Van Rompuy has the strong support of France and Germany.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:03:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Miliband hails links with Russia
Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said the UK and Russia would not "paper over our differences" but these would not block co-operation between them.

He met his Russian counterpart on the first visit to the country in five years by a UK foreign secretary.

Mr Miliband said greater cultural and business links between both countries reflected increased "common ground".


by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:07:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sanity prevails!

And Von Rompuy is surely better than Balkenende. (Please?)

I would be interested in knowing who vetoed Balkenende and why.

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 Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Van Rompuy certainly looks better than Balkenende.

Dutch paper Volkskrant cites an anonymous source who states that Balkenende is not preferred by some East European states, because of his strict line on the EU budget.

I imagine that Balkenende still has some enemies among influential federalists in the European Parliament.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 05:54:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Karadzic 'will appear at trial'
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic says he will appear at his trial in The Hague on genocide and war crimes charges.

He boycotted the trial's start last week saying he needed more time to prepare his defence.

In a letter to the presiding judge, Mr Karadzic says he will attend a procedural hearing at the court on Tuesday to discuss his defence.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:16:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can someone explain to me how not turning up was ever an option? if you or I had been arrested for something, when the trial date had come up and theyd come to my cell if we'd said "No thanks gents, dont fancy attending" then  we would have found a couple of burly gents grabbing either side of us and moving us to the dock without our feet touching the ground.

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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 05:06:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NRC: European squatters show solidarity after Dutch ban
In Berlin, German squatters sympathising with the Dutch squatters movement threw orange and blue paint bombs and rocks at the Dutch embassy at the weekend. Solidarity protests also took place in Spain, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Austria.

The action was organised in protest against a ban due to come into force on 1 January. Squatting in the Netherlands has been tolerated since the climax of the squatters' movement in the 1970s. Then a Squatting Act was introduced allowing squatters' occupy buildings that had stood empty for at least 12 months. At the moment squatters can only be prosecuted for breaking in, which effectively means as long as they are not caught in the act they can legally squat a building. The authorities will leave them in peace unless the owner of the property could prove he had immediate plans for the premises.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL: Europe Must Stop 'Fetishizing' American Relationship
In a week when European affairs are prominent, a study by an influential Brussels think tank suggests the EU is going about things the wrong way. The Europeans must stop being so submissive, they must present a united front on foreign policy and they must work toward a "post-American" state of affairs, the study says.

It's Europe Week in Washington. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been asked to speak to a joint session of the United States Congress on Tuesday as part of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Only about a hundred world leaders have ever addressed a joint session of Congress. The last German chancellor to be bestowed the honor was Konrad Adenauer, who spoke before the US legislature in 1957 during the Cold War.

Shortly after on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama will also greet top European Union leaders at the EU-US summit. A special strategy meeting is planned on energy issues.


Also see European Tribune: Power Void in Europe
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you sure that was in Speigel ? It almost makes sense.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:44:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU takes UK to court over internet privacy - News, Gadgets & Tech - The Independent

Ministers face an embarrassing showdown in court after the European Commission accused Britain of failing to protect its citizens from secret surveillance on the internet.

The move adds to claims that Britain is creeping towards a Big Brother state and could end with the Government being forced to defend its policy on internet privacy in front of judges at the European Court of Justice.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:23:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putting our eggs in the Nordic basket -   Dagens Nyheter/Presseurop

Timed to coincide with the main session of the Nordic Council, Swedish historian Gunnar Wetterberg's proposal to unite the five states of northern Europe under one symbolic monarch, was launched by Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter on October 27. Although it has failed to achieve unanimous support, it has caused a stir in the national press.

There is no doubt that a Nordic Union would have brilliant prospects -- but it has to happen first. The five Nordic countries -- Denmark, Finland, Iceland Norway, and Sweden -- have a total population of more than 25 million. In 2006, their combined GDP was more than 1,200 billion dollars (or 800 billion euros), making the Nordic region the tenth ranked economy in the world, just behind Canada and Spain but well ahead of Brazil and Russia.

If a Nordic Union is going  to happen, it has to happen now. The economic crisis has highlighted the need for reinforced political co-operation and monitoring, and the importance of participation in high-level decision making bodies, where our individual countries could not hope to achieve a level of influence that could be exerted by the region. All of the Nordic economies could benefit from greater integration with neighbouring countries. As it stands, they are often overly dependent on one or two market sectors. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Finland found itself in difficulty. Today, it is Sweden and its car industry, which is under pressure. If every country continues to cope on its own, similar problems will inevitably arise in the future. Finland continues to rely heavily on Nokia and the forestry industry, while Norway has an equally fragile industrial base. A Nordic Union would provide the stability of larger more diverse economy and offer the region's young people a wider range of career development possibilities.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:26:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nokia Siemens Plans Workforce Cuts | Bloomberg | 3 Nov 2009

Nokia Siemens may eliminate 7 percent to 9 percent of its 64,000 positions, the Espoo, Finland-based company said in a statement. The company aims to save 500 million euros ($732 million) in operating expenses annually by the end of 2011.

Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Suri, named to lead Nokia Siemens in September, will combine five units into three as he struggles to stem eroding market share. Nokia wrote down the value of the business last quarter as the venture's revenue for base stations and other gear fell 20 percent because of declining demand amid price competition from Ericsson AB and Huawei Technologies Co. Nokia Siemens had a third-quarter operating loss of 53 million euros.

"To generate higher profits they need to cut even more costs and they need for sales to improve," said Mats Nystroem, a Stockholm-based analyst at SEB Enskilda....

The [Nokia Siemens] joint venture started in 2007 and completed a 15 percent reduction of its initial workforce at the end of last year. Nokia Siemens's market share fell to 20 percent in the second quarter from 26 percent a year earlier. Ericsson led with 32 percent. Nokia Siemens posted losses of more than 1.6 billion euros in the previous two years.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 10:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Europe - France begins 'identity' debates

France has launched a nationwide debate on national identity, that will see members of the public discussing issues such as whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the burqa.

Public meetings, which began on Monday in around 450 government offices around the country, are expected to be held regularly until the end of January.

The centre-right government of Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, has been pushing for the country to reclaim national symbols and values, which many fear are being compromised by immigration and globalisation.

But the socialist opposition has accused the government of pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment to garner support from the right, and says it risks alienating France's large immigrant communities.

Critics also fear the debate will provide a forum for inflammatory rhetoric against foreigners.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:28:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Has anyone asked muslim women ? Both those who wear the burqa and those who choose not to. After all, it would be so mindful of the west's respect for women's self-actualisation if they actually asked those involved. Just sayin'

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:46:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of that debate is not muslim women, whether they wear the veil or not, it is French racist voters.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 09:47:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi ally launches challenge in leadership manifesto - Times Online

A close ally of Silvio Berlusconi will this week launch his political manifesto, a move seen as a direct challenge to the embattled Italian Prime Minister.

Gianfranco Fini, a former neofascist and now deputy leader of the ruling party, has decided to appeal directly to voters in the same month that Mr Berlusconi faces new trials for corruption. Mr Fini is the leading contender to succeed the Prime Minister -- although Mr Berlusconi has said that he will not resign even if convicted. Mr Fini, who is Speaker of the Lower House, has shed his extreme-Right past and adopted a statesmanlike stance, and on Wednesday will publish The Future of Freedom, subtitled Unasked-for Advice to Those Born in 1989.

He observes in the book that Italians now in their twenties were spared communism, fascism and the Cold War. But unimagined technological advances and frontier-free travel in Europe had "not necessarily" made them happier.

Instead, "the death of ideology" has led to narcissism and egoism, with the young disillusioned by politics, which appears to be "a vulgar exchange of insults". Mr Fini calls for a return to "inspiring vision, moral imperatives and family values", and tolerance on issues from bio-ethics to immigration.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Fini filled a void on the Left while Veltroni and Franceschini tripped over each other to look center-right. Now that Bersani's in charge maybe the Left can find its voice again rather than be co-opted by Fini.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 05:09:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mit der Kraft des Wassers | Sueddeutsche | 2.11.09
Mit neuen Öko-Tickets für Geschäftskunden will die Bahn ab sofort ein kohlendioxidfreies Verreisen ermöglichen. Gegen einen Aufpreis können Firmenkunden künftig Tickets kaufen, bei denen der für die Bahnfahrt benötigte Strom aus erneuerbaren Energien kommt.
For an additional fee, you can get a train ticket in Germany that guarantees that the appropriate part of the train's energy will come from renewable energy. No comment on whether this will be an optional discount when the price of oil goes up again.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:34:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: How David Cameron kept European policies quiet
In fact, for all his open-shirted, husky-hugging attempts to update the Conservatives' image, Mr Cameron has always claimed to be a traditional eurosceptic - just one who makes less of a public fuss about Europe than the previous generation of Tories.

So his 2005 leadership campaign contained a small but significant pledge: to pull Conservative MEPs out of the federalist European People's Party grouping in the European Parliament.

The issue was obscure enough to ensure it was little-noticed by most voters and commentators, yet significant enough for Tory eurosceptics that they were prepared to support Mr Cameron.

When he delivered on the promise in March this year, many sceptics were elated, privately hailing the move as confirmation that their modernising leader was at heart "one of us".


[Torygraph Alert]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 03:14:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Politics | Cameron to set out treaty plans

Conservative leader David Cameron has said he is "disappointed" by the Czech constitutional court's decision to push ahead with ratifying the Lisbon Treaty.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus is the only EU leader yet to sign the treaty.

Mr Cameron told LBC radio: "I of course hope he doesn't sign the treaty but I suspect time is running out."

The Tory leader said he would decide "later this week" what to do about his party's pledge for a referendum on the treaty should they win power.



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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 05:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:37:49 PM EST
NY Times: Ford Posts an Unexpected Profit of $997 Million
The Ford Motor Company on Monday posted a surprise third-quarter profit of $997 million and said it had had its first profitable quarter in North America in more than four years.

The carmaker also said that, at least temporarily, it had stopped rapidly burning through its much-needed cash reserves. It reported positive cash flow of $2.8 billion during the quarter, ending September with $23.8 billion.

Through the first nine months of 2009, Ford, the only Detroit automaker to avoid bankruptcy this year, has had a profit of more than $1.8 billion. Still, it has lost about $1.3 billion when one-time items, like a major debt restructuring, are excluded.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:43:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Government deficit should show up as an "unexpected profit" in the private sector.

So this is not unexpected :P

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 Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:47:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: RBS to consider further asset sales
Royal Bank of Scotland on Monday said it was considering further asset sales "not initially contemplated", as part of the talks with the government aimed at breaking free from a state-backed asset insurance scheme.

But the bankworkers union Unite condemned what it said were plans to cut up to 3,700 jobs across the bank's branches.

"For RBS to announce the cut of 3,700 frontline bank staff from their high street branches across the UK is absolute madness," said Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:48:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Faisal Islam on Economics - Government bailout 3.0: Lloyds and RBS

Just over a year ago we thought that the £37bn injection of equity by the government into Lloyds and RBS was the landmark, never-to-be-repeated event. Bailout 1.0 literally saved the banking system from collapse, and was copied around the world.

Then, in January, came Bailout 2.0, which we were told would be a bailout not of the banks, but of the economy. That bailout was to enable the banks to continue lending to prospective homeowners and to businesses.

And now we have Bailout 3.0.* Incredibly, the extent of actual taxpayer funding into these two banking giants will be larger than the first bailout, which rescued them from collapse. £40bn more.
This will be spent on banking shares that have fallen in price since the last tranche was bought. RBS, two years ago the sixth biggest bank in the world on some measures, will now be 84 per cent owned by the state.



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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 08:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nrc.nl - International - Features - Dutch banks no longer count
Dutch banks worked for years to penetrate markets abroad. Now that ABN Amro has been split in three and ING is withdrawing to Europe, little remains of their efforts.

or a long time the Dutch banks were among the world's best, but now they are withdrawing to Europe and primarily their home market, involuntarily or otherwise.

In 2005 ING had a balance sheet total of 1,159 billion euros, just 100 billion less than French BNP Paribas. And ABN Amro was almost as large as Deutsche Bank. The two could measure up to the top banks in Europe. Last year Deutsche Bank and BNP grew to over 2,000 billion euros, but ABN Amro fell to 666 billion. Once ING has split itself up, the financial group will be only a shadow of its former self. ING and ABN Amro have fallen to the level of the 1990s, the period in which both major banks were created from mergers. It is a development that will affect the strategy for the coming years and which will also have consequences within the national borders. The competition will most likely become even tougher and the slimmed down institutions can become prey to takeovers once the recession is over.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, this isn't really "news", but since I missed the open thread.

Americans have always believed that their country is unique in providing the opportunity to get ahead. ... But rising unemployment and financial turmoil are puncturing that self-image. The reality of this "land of opportunity" is considerably more complex than the myths would suggest.  Five Myths About Our Land of Opportunity, by Isabel V. Sawhill and Ron Haskins, Brookings:


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
5. We can fund new programs to boost opportunity by cutting waste and abuse in the federal budget.

Yeah, between what we spend on TARP, related bailout expenses, Iraq and Afganistan we could not only build a new green infrastructure but also "fund new programs to boost opportunity" for the poor in the USA. And we would get a positive return on our investment vs. the millstone around our, our childern and our grandchildren's necks that the debt incurred to pay for the give-aways to the financial sector will provide.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 09:44:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have we dodged the Iceberg?  Steve Keen  DebtWatch

1. USA    [Not likely, to summarize.]

2. Australia

The Australian result of only one negative quarter of growth, followed by a return to positive growth is the best in the OECD. This was driven by:

   1. The dramatic positive impact on household budgets from the cut in interest rates by 4%, which reduced debt service from 15.4% to 10.3% of disposable income;
   2. A stimulus package that was equivalent to 2.5% of GDP, the largest such package in the OECD;
   3. Australia's unusual position as a commodity producer--so that we benefited from China's huge stimulus package and recent stockpiling of commodities; and
   4. The enticement to households to take on additional mortgage debt that goes by the name of the First Home Buyers Boost.

The first two factors alone resulted in a 9% increase in houshold disposable income over the year from June 2008 to 2009--an unheard of development in boom times, let alone during an economic crisis. As Gerard Minack put it in his Downunder Daily on October 9th, "If that's recession, bring it on!"

As a result of this policy-driven paradox--rising disposable income in a recession--Australia will not record a fall in real output on an annual basis in 2009, a result that is in stark contrast to outcomes in the rest of the OECD.

So fast and massive government action--by both its Treasury and Central Bank wings--averted a recession in the face of an unprecedented financial crisis. This is a welcome outcome--and one that contradicts one of the latest fads that dominated economics prior to the GFC, "rational expectations macroeconomics", which argued that the government couldn't affect real output. As I noted in an earlier post, though neoclassically-trained economists drove the policy response, they did so as "Born Again Keynesians", and if their rescue does work, then it contradicts neoclassical economics just as much as the GFC's very existence did in the first place.

Also as noted in that post, the only school of economic thought that could be vindicated by this outcome is the Post Keynesian "Chartalist" group, which argues that any macroeconomic downturn can be averted by sufficiently strong government action. The question for the future is what the economy is likely to do after the special factors that turned it into a comparative boom for Australian households and exporters are unwound.


Gloating seems in order here.

The situation can be saved whe the government is not captured by the financial sector, even though

neoclassically-trained economists drove the policy response, they did so as "Born Again Keynesians".
All that is required is for the economists to pull their heads out of their NCE asses long enough to check updated Keynesian analysis and act appropriately.  Of course it helps that the benefits of interest rate reductions can be delivered to consumers rather than being reserved for the benefit of bankers. (Well, there is that commodity export to China thing...)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 11:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stimulate or Investigate?  Or both?  
George Washington in Zero Hedge
Keynesians argue that we must increase fiscal stimulus to prevent a full-scale depression.
....
On the other hand, those worried about the giant debt overhang point to the research of Minsky, Irving Fisher, Steve Keen and Austrian school economists to argue that massive debt, endless bailouts, government intervention in the markets, and the failure to write down worthless assets and "purge malinvestments" from the system are the main problems.
....
Who is right?

Initially, many Keynesian academics argue that it doesn't matter where the stimulus money is spent, just as long as it is spent on something. However, this is untrue. For example, it should be obvious that spending in some areas will have more and quicker turnover (increasing money velocity) as compared to others. And, in fact, economists have documented that some types of stimulus spending have more bang for the buck than others.


A related discussion appeared in the Monday OT.

Moreover, as former chief IMF economist and MIT professor Simon Johnson points out:

   Perhaps the best analysis regarding the impact of fiscal policy on recessions was done by the IMF. In their retrospective study of financial crises across countries, they found that nations with "aggressive fiscal stimulus" policies tended to get out of recessions 2 quarters earlier than those without aggressive policies. This is a striking conclusion - should we (or anyone) really increase our deficit further and build up more debt (domestic and foreign) in order to avoid 2 extra quarters of contraction?

Indeed, many experts say that continuing to cover-up the fraud which led to the financial crisis will extend the crisis for many years. In other words, failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible for bringing about the crisis may extend the crisis longer than any failure to spend more on stimulus.

(And investigations and prosecutions for fraud - unlike stimulus spending - would not increase America's debt or tax burden.)

A real debate about whether we should spend more on stimulus - and if so, what types of stimulus - cannot even begin unless and until the aforementioned data is considered.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 12:06:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any fiscal solution which does not 'recapitalise the poor' as Phillip Blond puts it, will fail in the medium and long term. In order to achieve that, a shift in taxation from earned income to unearned income and gains is necessary: ie taxation of privilege not people.

Unfortunately that is politically impossible, since privileged turkeys who own the establishment will not vote for Christmas. However, I optimistically believe that the same effect may well be achievable through other - consensual - means through the disintermediating effects of the internet on the financial sector.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 05:07:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stiglitz Says U.S. Is Paying for Failure to Nationalize Banks - Bloomberg.com

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the world's biggest economy is suffering because of the U.S. government's failure to nationalize banks during the financial crisis.

"If we had done the right thing, we would be able to have more influence over the banks," Stiglitz told reporters at an economic conference in Shanghai Oct 31. "They would be lending and the economy would be stronger."
...

"We have this very strange situation today in America where we have given banks hundreds of billions of dollars and the president has to beg the banks to lend and they refuse," Stiglitz said. "What we did was the wrong thing. It has weakened the economy and has increased our deficit, making it more difficult for the future."

by Bernard on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 06:08:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berkshire Buys Burlington in Buffett's Biggest Deal (Update1) - Bloomberg.com
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. in the company's biggest takeover under Warren Buffett.

Buffett's firm will buy the 77.4 percent of the railroad it doesn't already own for $100 a share in cash and stock, valuing the transaction at about $44 billion, including $10 billion in outstanding debt, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said in a statement today distributed by Business Wire. That compares with the railroad's closing price yesterday of $76.07.

"It's an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States," Buffett said in the statement.

...Trains stand to become more competitive against trucks with fuel prices high, he has said.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:01:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:38:20 PM EST
SPIEGEL: How Israel Destroyed Syria's Al Kibar Nuclear Reactor
In September 2007, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a mysterious complex in the Syrian desert. The incident could have led to war, but it was hushed up by all sides. Was it a nuclear plant and who gave the orders for the strike?

The mighty Euphrates river is the subject of the prophecies in the Bible's Book of Revelation, where it is written that the river will be the scene of the battle of Armageddon: "The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East."

Today, time seems to stand still along the river. The turquoise waters of the Euphrates flow slowly through the northern Syrian provincial city Deir el-Zor, whose name translates as "monastery in the forest." Farmers till the fields, and vendors sell camel's hair blankets, cardamom and coriander in the city's bazaars. Occasionally archaeologists visit the region to excavate the remains of ancient cities in the surrounding area, a place where many peoples have left their mark -- the Parthians and the Sassanids, the Romans and the Jews, the Ottomans and the French, who were assigned the mandate for Syria by the League of Nations and who only withdrew their troops in 1946. Deir el-Zor is the last outpost before the vast, empty desert, a lifeless place of jagged mountains and inaccessible valleys that begins not far from the town center.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It still doesn't answer the question that puzzles me, namely where are the pictures of the destroyed building? They say
There, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden showed him images that the Israelis had obtained from the Syrian computer in London (much to the outrage of officials in Tel Aviv, incidentally, as it provided insights into Mossad sources).
Providing aerial pictures taken just after the raid (the Israelis must have wanted to know whether the raid succeeded) would have revealed much less sensitive informatio about their methods, and there would have been no doubt that the pictures were really from the site. These would presumably be quite informative to trained experts. The only pictures I've ever seen are from over a month later, after the Syrians had cleaned up the site.

While I've no idea what was actually going on, in the absence of such pictures, the rest seems consistent with the possibility that the Israelis had good reason to believe the Syrians were building a reactor - but that they were wrong.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:18:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Angus Reid Global Monitor: Dutch Expect Mission in Afghanistan to Continue
Most people in the Netherlands think their country's soldiers will continue to serve for some time in the international force fighting in Afghanistan, according to a poll by Maurice de Hond. 27 per cent of respondents say the Dutch mission in Urguzan will be extended, whereas 31 per cent say the mission will continue, but with fewer soldiers.

A fifth of respondents think Dutch soldiers could be relocated to another area in Afghanistan, and 14 per cent say all Dutch soldiers will return home after 2010.

Afghanistan has been the main battleground in the war on terrorism. The conflict began in October 2001, after the Taliban regime refused to hand over Osama bin Laden without evidence of his participation in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NY Times: Karzai Gets New Term as Afghan Runoff Is Scrapped
Afghan officials canceled a runoff presidential vote set for Saturday and declared President Hamid Karzai the winner on Monday, a day after his remaining challenger, , Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew.

The announcement capped a fraught election widely depicted as deeply flawed by corruption and voting irregularities.

Azizullah Ludin, the chairman of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, said the Constitution did not require a runoff and the second-round vote, set for Saturday, had been canceled after Mr. Abdullah's announcement that he was dropping out.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Leaders congratulate Karzai on win after opposition pulls out
Western leaders are offering support and congratulations to Hamid Karzai who was declared president of Afghanistan. Whether he will receive the support of the people after a fraud-marred campaign remains unknown.

Gordon Brown, Ban Ki-moon and Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle were among those offering their public support for Hamid Karzai's victory on Monday.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) had earlier cancelled the upcoming presidential run-off and declared the incumbent candidate the winner.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NY Times: Blasts in Pakistani Cities as Army Push Continues
Suicide bombers attacked two major Pakistani cities on Monday -- one of the them the garrison city of Rawalpindi -- as the army claimed control of one more Taliban stronghold in the northwestern tribal region of South Waziristan, officials said.

The Rawalpindi suicide bomber struck a few hundred yards from the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and outside a branch office of the National Bank of Pakistan, where soldiers and civilians had gathered to collect their monthly salaries and pension payments. At least 35 people were killed and at least 45 injured, security and rescue officials said.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, an army spokesman, that four soldiers were among the dead in Rawalpindi and nine among the wounded.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton backs Israel on settlements stance - Middle East, World - The Independent
Agreement would allow settlers to finish 3,000 houses plus public buildings

Palestinian leaders angrily accused Hillary Clinton of undercutting Middle East peace prospects yesterday after she endorsed Israel's plans to continue expanding West Bank settlements.

The US Secretary of State for the first time voiced support for Israel's argument that since a freeze on settlement construction had not been a precondition for previous peace talks, it should not be one during the negotiations the US is now trying to convene.

Instead of a freeze, Mrs Clinton urged the Palestinians to accept what she termed an "unprecedented" Israeli offer of "restraint" in settlement construction and to go to the negotiating table as soon as possible without preconditions. "What the Prime Minister [Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu] has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy of settlements is unprecedented," she said in a clear departure from the Obama administration's former position that there needed to be a total freeze. Mrs Clinton was speaking during a joint appearance with Mr Netanyahu. He said that his government would conduct a policy of "restraint" while at the same time enabling "normal life" for the settlers.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've heard clinton may have subsequently "revised" this view. dKos thinks this is kabuki rather than incoherence, I wish I could be that generous.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:50:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diplomatic Memo - Europe Still Likes Obama, but Doubts Creep In - NYTimes.com
MARRAKESH, Morocco -- The election of Barack Obama as president seemed to most Europeans to be unadulterated good news, marking an end to the perceived unilateralism and indifference to allied views of former President George W. Bush.

But nine months into Mr. Obama's presidency, trans-Atlantic relations are again clouded by doubts. Europe and the United States remain at least partly out of sync on Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran and climate change.

Many Europeans argue that Mr. Obama has not broken clearly enough with Bush administration policies that they dislike, while some Americans argue that the Europeans are too passive, watching Mr. Obama struggle with difficult issues, like Afghanistan and the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, without providing much substantive help.

Many of these concerns will be central to the United States-European Union meeting in Washington beginning Tuesday that Mr. Obama will lead, and they were the subject of debate at a World Policy Conference run by the French Institute of International Relations in Marrakesh over the weekend.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:37:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
anytime anyone wants W/Cheney back I'm sure they're tanned, rested, and ready to go.  That thought should at least give some pause to the just criticisms of Obama, who I don't like.  We need a REAL Progressive in charge, a Bernie Sanders.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Huffington Post
Having been exposed for their copyright theft and facing a possible lawsuit from Monty Python, the Christie campaign moved into damage control mode at high speed on Sunday night to try and limit the political fallout from their illicit action.

[...]

Alerted to the theft of their copyright, members of Monty Python are most unhappy. Michael Palin, who appears in the clip pirated for the advert, is especially displeased that his likeness is being used by the Republican candidate without permission.

"I'm surprised that a former U.S. Attorney isn't aware of his copyright infringement when he uses our material without permission. He's clearly made a terrible mistake. It was the endorsement of Sarah Palin he was after -- not that of Michael Palin."

Monty Python's Terry Jones says that the troupe is strongly considering suing the Republican for his copyright infringement:

"It is totally outrageous that a former US Attorney knows so little about the law that he thinks he can rip off people. On the other hand -- another of Bush's legal appointees was Alberto Gonzales and he didn't seem to know much about the law either...," Jones said.l

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 05:17:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>Military refines a 'constant stare against our enemy'  
By Julian E. Barnes   LA Times

The rapidly increasing surveillance power of unmanned aircraft gives U.S. officials an option besides troops.


Bombs are offloaded from a Reaper. Drone data will provide "the option to arrest the individual, talk ... [or] take them out with a Hellfire missile," a military official says. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Reporting from Washington - The Pentagon plans to dramatically increase the surveillance capabilities of its most advanced unmanned aircraft next year, adding so many video feeds that a drone which now stares down at a single house or vehicle could keep constant watch on nearly everything that moves within an area of 1.5 square miles.

The year after that, the capability will double to 3 square miles.

Military officials predict that the impact on counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan will be impressive.

"Predators and other unmanned aircraft have just revolutionized our ability to provide a constant stare against our enemy," said a senior military official. "The next sensors, mark my words, are going to be equally revolutionary."

Unmanned MQ-9 Reaper aircraft now produce a single video feed as they fly continuously over surveillance routes, and the area they can cover largely depends on altitude. The new technology initially will increase the number of video feeds to 12 and eventually to 65.


Next up, Terminator robotic soldiers that can be controlled by glorified "Play Stations" from the other side of the globe. Then autonomous military robots. Then The Butlerian Jihad.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 12:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"A constant stare against our enemy" | Information Week | 29 Oct 2009

The National Security Agency, whose job it is to protect national security systems, will soon break ground on a data center in Utah that's budgeted to cost $1.5 billion.

The NSA is building the facility to provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats, cybersecurity support to defense and civilian agency networks, and technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, according to a transcript of remarks by Glenn Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, who is responsible for oversight of cyber intelligence activities in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence....

According to a budget document for the project, the 30-megawatt data center will be cooled by chilled water and capable of Tier 3, or near carrier-grade, reliability. The design calls for the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard within available resources.

The U.S. Army Corps of engineers will host a conference in Salt Lake City to provide further detail the data center building and acquisition plans. The project will require between 5,000 and 10,000 workers during construction, and the data center will eventually employ between 100 and 200 [permanent] workers.  

Possibly related news:
Commander-in-Chief of the Innerboobz
recovery.gov interactive reports
White House: 650,000 jobs saved, created by stimulus

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 10:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stim Check: 11 Sep 2009 | France 24 | Stimulus package created up to 1.1 million jobs

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 11:01:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And as we know "Enemies are everywhere!"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 01:42:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 12:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Goldman left foreign investors holding the subprime bag   By Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers

NEW YORK -- Inside the thick Goldman Sachs investment circular were the details of a secret, $2 billion deal channeled through a Caribbean tax haven. The Sept. 26, 2006, document offered sophisticated U.S. and European investors an opportunity to buy into a pool of supposedly high-grade bonds backed by residential, commercial and student loans. The transaction was registered through a shell company in the Cayman Islands.

Few of the potential investors knew it, but the ratings of many of the mortgage securities hid their true risks and, in some cases, Goldman's descriptions exaggerated their quality.

The Cayman offering -- one of perhaps dozens made through the British territory -- occurred as Goldman began to ditch the subprime mortgage business before the U.S. housing market collapsed under an avalanche of homeowner defaults.

In all, Goldman sold more than $57 billion in risky mortgage-backed securities during a 14-month period in 2006 and 2007, including nearly $39 billion issued from mortgages it purchased. Meanwhile, the firm peddled billions of dollars in complex deals, many of them tied to subprime mortgages, in the Caymans and other offshore locations.

Many of those securities later soured, but the sales allowed Goldman to become the only major U.S. investment bank to escape the brunt of the subprime meltdown.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 12:42:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Republican adviser faces health care's costly bite | Washington Post | 2.11.09
If history had taken a different course, Doug Holtz-Eakin would be inside the McCain White House driving the Republican president's domestic agenda, including health-care reform. But now, one year after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost the presidential election, the man who was by McCain's side as the campaign's top health-care guru remains unemployed -- and his COBRA health coverage is running out.

Irony of ironies, it gets worse. Holtz-Eakin, who is about to start shopping for insurance on the individual market, is 51. And he has one of those pesky "preexisting conditions" that insurance companies often cite in denying coverage.

[...]

Holtz-Eakin said he's been paying about $1,000 a month to extend the private health insurance he received on McCain's campaign through the government's COBRA program, but that will expire in a few months. This is the first time in his life he has not had employer-provided health coverage. "I worry about where I go next in the way many Americans do," he said.

But he still supports McCain's plan and is against Obama's...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 01:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:39:02 PM EST
Wall Street Journal (Oct. 30): Sahara Solar-Power Consortium's Plans Advance
An international consortium devoted to creating an ambitious solar-power project in the Sahara Desert took the first formal steps of its plan Friday by forming a closely held company and appointing a chief executive.

The creation of the company, dubbed DII GmbH, by an industrial consortium called Desertec Industrial Initiative, is a first step in its plans to cover 16,900 square kilometers of desert with solar thermal power stations - which use the sun to generate heat which is then used to generate electricity. The aim is to provide as much as 15% of Europe's electricity by 2050, as well supplying the growing energy needs in North Africa and the Middle East.

The company also appointed Paul van Son, an executive with around 30 years of experience in management of the European energy industry, as its CEO. He has been managing director of Deutsche Essent GmbH, a German unit of Dutch Essent NV, which has recently been bought by RWE AG, and Dutch Econcern NV. Both companies are developers of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Van Son is also chairman of the European Federation of Energy Traders and chairman of the Energy4All Foundation, which is active in Africa.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
covering "cover 16,900 square kilometers of desert with solar thermal power stations" is the best idea since sliced bread.

Wait.

It's the best idea ever.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 10:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL (Interview with Gore): 'I am Optimistic'
SPIEGEL: Mr. Vice President, you write in your new book, "Our Choice," (to be published in German translation on Nov. 23 as "Wir Haben Die Wahl") that we have at our fingertips all of the tools that we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient would be collective will. What makes it so hard for governments to implement change even though most people know what needs to be done?

Gore: As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions. Neuroscientists point out that we are inherently better able to respond quickly to the kinds of threats that our evolutionary ancestors survived -- like other humans with weapons, snakes and spiders or fire. Also, there is a real-time lag between the causes of the climate crisis and its full manifestation. That makes it seem less urgent to many people.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:04:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Religious group pushes to protect San Gabriel Mountains

An activist religious group has joined the effort to designate the San Gabriel Mountains as a national recreational area eligible for additional federal resources including law enforcement personnel, interpretive signs and hiking trails.

The group, Progressive Christians Uniting, is touting the proposal to congregants of dozens of San Gabriel Valley churches near the 650,000-acre range that constitutes about 70% of Los Angeles County's open space.

"We are helping to bring the moral compassion of people of faith to bear on an urgent public issue," said Rev. Peter Laarman, executive director of the Los Angeles-based group. "This is an ambitious effort. It involves public health, an important natural resource and millions of people who live near it. We want to be on board."

The designation would be made by the National Park Service, which is conducting an ongoing "special resource study" of the San Gabriels and the San Gabriel Watershed. The study includes three draft alternatives for new collaborative approaches to managing the range currently run by the U.S. Forest Service for purposes other than recreation.
....
"Religion and stewardship connect gracefully," said Sierra Club spokesman John Monsen.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 12:17:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sea level rise threatens Atlantic coast, but building goes on  BY CURTIS MORGAN  Miami Herald

As early as the 1980s, scientists warned that rising seas could submerge vast portions of Florida's coast. How have local and state governments responded? Build, baby, build.

A new study of development trends along the Atlantic Coast shows Florida has opened more vulnerable areas to construction than any other state. Three-quarters of its low-lying Atlantic coastline has already been, or will be, developed.

Despite mounting evidence of sea level rise, other states plan to follow Florida's lead -- though to lesser degrees -- eventually pushing homes, condos and other buildings onto nearly two-thirds of coastal land less than a meter above the Atlantic. By 2100, many scientists predict a rise near or beyond a meter.

The study divides the coast into rural or wild areas likely to be abandoned, and urbanized areas likely to be forced to employ ``increasingly ambitious'' and expensive engineering to preserve real estate from encroaching ocean. Think dikes, levees, pumps, stilts, more dredging to rebuild eroded beaches and mountains of fill to raise roads and structures.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 12:55:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What continues to surprise me is that sea level rise is so often depicted as if it something novel: "mounting evidence of sea level rise". WTF?

Today's free newspaper even wrote something as "when sea level will begin to rise"... Sigh.

Is is really so hard to understand that we've continuously had sea level rise for at least 2000 years and what what matters is an acceleration?

by Nomad on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 04:03:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally, I am grateful for any news that alerts anyone who will pay attention to the fact that sea levels have been rising since the end on the last ice age and that the rate seems to be accelerating.  Especially that last part.  Perhaps it also should be pointed out that our current economic policies will make it less and less likely that those who build near low lying coasts will be bailed out when the inevitable occurs. That might at least warn the buyers.  The developers are beyond hope, as long as they can get their properties sold well before disaster strikes.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 10:39:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Controversial study suggests vast magma pool under Washington state

WASHINGTON -- A vast pool of molten rock in the continental crust that underlies southwestern Washington state could supply magma to three active volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains -- Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams -- according to a new study that's causing a stir among scientists.

The study, published Sunday in the magazine Nature Geoscience, concluded that the magma pool among the three mountains could be the "most widespread magma-bearing area of continental crust discovered so far."

Other scientists dismiss the existence of an underground vat of magma covering potentially hundreds of square miles as "farfetched" and "highly unlikely." Rather than magma heated to 1,300 to 1,400 degrees, some think it could be water.

They also discount speculation that a so-called "super volcano" such as the one under the Yellowstone National Park area might be beneath the region. They say there's no credible evidence to suggest a need to overhaul the volcanic hazard assessments for the three mountains.


Want to be controversial?  Just publish bad news.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 01:03:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:39:36 PM EST
BBC News: Landmark for French literary gong
Marie NDiaye has become the first black woman to win France's leading literary prize, the Goncourt.

The 42-year-old was honoured for her novel Trois Femmes Puissantes (Three Powerful Women), a saga set in both Africa and Europe.

Frenchwoman NDiaye, whose father is Senegalese and mother French, said: "This prize is an unexpected reward for 25 years of persistence."


by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Berlin wall had to fall, but today's world is no fairer | Mikhail Gorbachev | Comment is free | The Guardian
Twenty years after that shameful symbol of division was torn down, ultra-liberal capitalism needs its own perestroika

Twenty years have passed since the fall of the Berlin wall, one of the shameful symbols of the cold war and the dangerous division of the world into opposing blocks and spheres of influence. Today we can revisit the events of those times and take stock of them in a less emotional and more rational way.

The first optimistic observation to be made is that the announced "end of history" has not come about, though many claimed it had. But neither has the world that many politicians of my generation trusted and sincerely believed in: one in which, with the end of the cold war, humankind could finally forget the absurdity of the arms race, dangerous regional conflicts, and sterile ideological disputes, and enter a golden century of collective security, the rational use of material resources, the end of poverty and inequality, and restored harmony with nature.

Another important consequence of the end of the cold war is the realisation of one of the central postulates of New Thinking: the interdependence of extremely important elements that go to the very heart of the existence and development of humankind. This involves not only processes and events occurring on different continents but also the organic linkage between changes in the economic, technological, social, demographic and cultural conditions that determine the daily existence of billions of people on our planet. In effect, humankind has started to transform itself into a single civilisation.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 02:40:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Oregonian: Plans for relocating 3 historic locomotives get Portland council's OK

The Portland City Council today approved agreements that will allow the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation to move ahead with plans for a new facility housing three historic steam locomotives.

The agreements include approval of a loan of as much as $1 million to help the foundation buy land near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The Oregonian: Portland's locomotives will get new $3.5 million home

Doyle McCormack, president of the nonprofit foundation, a consortium of railroad history groups, said the Union Pacific's need for space in the Southeast Portland rail yard necessitated the move. But he said it will finally allow people to get close to the engines.

"This is history," said McCormack, 66. "These are the machines that made America."

...

The foundation has been negotiating with the railroad for about four years on land near OMSI and was close to closing on the property when TriMet decided it needed the land for the planned eastside streetcar line. The transit agency and the foundation worked out a straight trade.

The foundation next year will get a larger piece of property to the southeast, under the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard viaduct, for its new roundhouse. Timing is critical, McCormack said. The foundation will have about a year after that deal is done late next year to move the locomotives.

It will be worth the effort, he said. "When you fire one of these things up, it's the closest that man has come to creating life," he said. "Each one has a personality. They're warm. They have a heartbeat.

"That's the magic that the people of Portland should have the right to experience."

Yay!

by Magnifico on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:19:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NYT: Hiking History: England's Ancient Ridgeway Trail

The Ridgeway is the oldest continuously used road in Europe, dating back to the Stone Age. Situated in southern England, built by our Neolithic ancestors, it's at least 5,000 years old, and may even have existed when England was still connected to continental Europe, and the Thames was a tributary of the Rhine.

Once it probably ran all the way from Dorset in the southwest to Lincolnshire in the northeast, following the line of an escarpment -- a chalk ridge rising from the land -- that diagonally bisects southern England. Long ago it wasn't just a road, following the high ground, away from the woods and swamps lower down, but a defensive barrier, a bulwark against marauders from the north, whomever they may have been. At some point in the Bronze Age (perhaps around 2,500 B.C.), a series of forts were built -- ringed dikes protecting villages -- so the whole thing became a kind of prototype of Hadrian's Wall in the north of England...

The Ridgeway of today is 87 miles long. But about half of that is a series of footpaths that connect the original old track following the ridge up on the chalk escarpment to the Thames River in the east...

by Magnifico on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 04:41:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Politics | MP warned over electronic readout

A Conservative MP has been told to stop reading aloud from a Blackberry-type gadget - during a House of Commons debate on anti-social behaviour.

Alistair Burt, who represents North East Bedfordshire, read out the text of a letter he had received on the device about Criminal Records Bureau checks.

But he was asked to desist by Deputy Speaker Sir Michael Lord, who said the practice was "to be discouraged".

The MP did so, but argued it was simply a "letter to me in a different form".



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 07:21:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pharaonic neurosurgery: the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus (1500 BCE)

It is a textbook of surgery, containing systematic and highly detailed descriptions, diagnoses, treatments and prognoses of 48 neurosurgical and orthopaedic cases. The papyrus, which is named after Edwin Smith, is now housed in the New York Academy of Sciences.

27 of the cases documented in the Edwin Smith papyrus are head injuries, and 6 are spinal injuries. Each of them is investigated rationally and deductively, with only one of the 48 cases being treated with magic. Although ancient civilizations are generally regarded as primitive, the Smith papyrus demonstrates that the ancient Egyptians had highly advanced knowledge of medicine. Many of the surgical procedures and concepts described in the document are still in use today, and it seems that the ancient Egyptians had knowledge of neuroanatomy that was as detailed and advanced as that of modern medicine. The papyrus even contains a prescription for a wrinkle remover containing urea, an ingredient of modern anti-wrinkle creams.

An illustrated history of trepanation | Neurophilosophy | Jan 2008

The first specimen of a trepanned skull was found in 1685 by Bernard de Montfauchon at a site in Cocherel, France, but its importance was not recognized. In 1816, a second specimen was found by Alexander Francois Barbie du Bovage at Nogentles-les-Vierges. This time, it was recognized that the skull had belonged to an individual on whom a craniotomy had been performed, apparently years before his death. However, the second specimen was considered to be exceptional, and little thought was given to why the skull had been perforated. In 1839, Samuel George Morton depicted a trepanned skull in his book Crania Americana, but mistakenly assumed the hole had occurred as the result of a battle wound. Although the second specimen to be found was recognized as a craniotomy, the real significance of the skulls had escaped scientists and physicians.

Karlik et al., "MRI and Multinuclear MR SPectroscopy of 3,200-year-old Egyptian Mummy Brain," AJR 2007 (pdf)


"Paleohistology revealed primarily homogeneous tissue on rehydration. All the samples showed residual tissue shrinkage, which resulted in tissues that had hole like artifacts. Despite this limitation there were structural anomalies observed in the solochrome cyanin R- and H and E-stained sections. The exact identification of these hypostained lacunar structures and the thin linear eosinophilic threads is unknown. Furthermore, the silver stain revealed a plethora of staining, with some semicircular structures observed that were similar to those stained with eosin. Again, the exact nature of the structures identified is unknown at this time, but calcification is a possible interpretation."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 08:48:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, scientists do much good. But a country run by these arrogant gods of certainty would truly be hell on earth | Mail Online

The row between the Government and its scientific advisers blazes on like an out-of-control forest fire.

It began with that difficult customer Professor David Nutt, who was chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He told the Home Office that alcohol and tobacco were more dangerous than the banned substance cannabis, and horse-riding was more of a risk to your health than ecstasy.

But he was not content simply to give advice, of course. What he appeared to want to do was to dictate to the Government, and when it refused to acknowledge his infallibility, Professor Nutt started to break ranks and to denounce the country's law on drugs.



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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 07:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, scientists do much good. But a country run by these arrogant gods of certainty would truly be hell on earth | Mail Online
The trouble with a 'scientific' argument, of course, is that it is not made in the real world, but in a laboratory by an unimaginative academic relying solely on empirical facts.

Yes, scientists do much good. But a country run by these arrogant gods of certainty would truly be hell on earth | Mail Online

Going back in time, some people think that Hitler invented the revolting experiments performed by Dr Mengele on human beings and animals.
Irrationality

But the Nazis did not invent these things. The only difference between Hitler and previous governments was that he believed, with babyish credulity, in science as the only truth. He allowed scientists freedoms which a civilised government would have checked.

I am not suggesting that any British scientists are currently conducting experiments comparable to those which were allowed in Nazi Germany or in Soviet Russia.

But I see the same habit of mind at work in Professor Nutt and his colleagues as made those mad scientists of the 20th century think they were above the moral law which governs the rest of us mortals.



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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 07:54:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stop. Stop it now.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 07:56:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
had to, before I ended up throwing a laptop across a room anyway.

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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:01:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
violence is always the resort of people who have no real arguments against what's been said which they don't like...

:)

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He Blinded Me With Science | Daily Mail Watch
Originally, the online version of this article had a picture of Hitler next to these paragraphs. This has been removed in the last hour or so.


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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:53:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The trouble with a 'scientific' argument, of course, is that it is not made in the real world, but in a laboratory by an unimaginative academic relying solely on empirical facts.

Where do I begin?  Is this a W quote?  It has the ring of absolute stupidity.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Suicide Toll Fuels Worry That Army [?] Is Strained | WSJ | 3 Nov 2009

The Army's top generals worry that surging tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan could increase the strain felt by many military personnel after years of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The October suicide figures mean that at least 134 active-duty soldiers have taken their own lives so far this year, putting the Army on pace to break last year's record of 140 active-duty suicides. The number of Army suicides has risen 37% since 2006, and last year, the suicide rate surpassed that of the U.S. population for the first time.

The health of ground combat forces is emerging as an element of the Obama administration's review of its Afghanistan strategy. Conditions there have deteriorated in recent months amid lingering political instability and a worsening Taliban-led insurgency....

In response, the Army has launched a broad push to better understand military suicide and develop new ways of preventing it. [?!] In August, the Army and the National Institute of Mental Health said they would conduct a five-year, $50 million effort to better identify the factors that cause some soldiers to take their own lives.

...redrum redrum redrum redrum...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 11:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:40:17 PM EST
NY Times (Reuters): Johan Cruyff Appointed Catalonia Coach
Former Netherlands international Johan Cruyff has been named coach of Catalonia, the autonomous Spanish community's football federation (FCF) said on Monday.

The 62-year-old, who moved to the Catalan capital from Ajax Amsterdam to play for Barcelona in 1973 and led them to a European Cup triumph as coach in 1992, has not taken charge of a team since he quit Barca in 1996.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 12:47:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Kosovo unveils Clinton's statue
Former US President Bill Clinton has attended the unveiling of a statue of himself in Kosovo's capital Pristina.

The 3.5m (11 ft) bronze statue was inaugurated at Bill Clinton Boulevard - to loud cheers of thousands of ethnic Albanians.

Many of them regard Mr Clinton as a hero for launching Nato's air bombing campaign to drive Yugoslavia's troops out of the Serbian province in 1999.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 at 01:20:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Humana Trolls College Campuses For Whores | UK Progressive

Humana, Inc., the fine and good corporate citizen that spends millions of its customer's premium dollars to fight health care reform and a public option rather than using them to pay claims, now wants to use even more premium bucks to pay students willing to sneak on-line at places such as Facebook and Twitter to tout the horrors of any change to America's superb health care delivery and financing system.

In other words, Humana is trolling college campuses looking for whores willing to accept money to be on-line promoters of an anti-reform policy that's against the student's own, best interests - or will be, once they leave school and are on their own. Given the state of the economy, no doubt Humana will be overwhelmed with applications.



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 Nov 3rd, 2009 at 09:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CNBC.com: Barbie's Sugar Daddy? (Funny Business with Jane Wells)
There is one man in Palm Beach who hasn't lost his fortune in a Ponzi scheme: Ken.

For those of you who thought Barbie's boyfriend couldn't be any more emasculated, Mattel is releasing the "Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken".



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 Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 10:44:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see if I got this right... Barbie started out in the 50's with her high-school sweetheart Ken, a good boy from Ohio. But in 2004 years ago she tired of him and dumped him for "an Aussie surfer called Blaine". Then Ken got a job as a mortgage broker for a covert subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, made the big bucks, got out in 2007, put his 401(k) into Treasury securities and has been living in Palm Beach ever since. And now that the Great Recession has hit, Barbie is unemployed and needs a sugar daddy.

Mattel: 60 years of wholesome role models for America.

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 Tue Nov 3rd, 2009 at 10:49:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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