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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 22 November

by Fran Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 03:51:10 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1901 – Birth of Joaquin Rodrigo, a composer of classical music and a virtuoso pianist. Despite being nearly blind from an early age, he achieved great success. Rodrigo's music counts among some of the most popular of the 20th century, particularly his Concierto de Aranjuez, considered one of the pinnacles of the Spanish music and guitar concerto repertoire. (d. 1999)

More here and video

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:18:09 AM EST
SLOVAKIA: Velvet Touch Brings Communists Back - IPS ipsnews.net
BRATISLAVA, Nov 19 (IPS) - As Slovaks mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism this week, former dissidents have lashed out at top political figures, including the prime minister, who they say are trying to paint the totalitarian regime of old in a positive light.

Some refused to join Prime Minister Robert Fico and other leading government officials for an official event this week marking the beginning of the Velvet Revolution which brought down the communist regime in then Czechoslovakia in 1989. They stayed away after it was revealed that former communist functionaries had been invited to speak.

The furore has sparked debate on how some former communist party chiefs, secret police officers and agents have prospered during the post-communist era while former political prisoners have seen no form of compensation for their persecution at the hands of the state.

Miroslav Kusy, former dissident and one of the most prominent Slovak figures of the revolution, told IPS: "I will not attend an event marking the fall of communism where ex-communists are going to talk to me about the fall of communism. It's as if fascists organised a celebration of an uprising against the Nazis.

"Bringing up the good points of communism is done all the time. It's like praising the good points of fascism - there was full employment and Hitler of course loved dogs. But the regime as a whole was sick and that applies to communism as well. To highlight its good side goes against normal, healthy, thinking."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:42:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same is true in romania and Bulgaria. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Member states rebuff extension of shoe tariffs | Policies | Trade | Multilateral trade | European Voice
Officials from a majority of EU states oppose Commission proposal to extend anti-dumping tariffs on leather shoes from China and Vietnam.

Trade diplomats from the European Union's member states today rejected a proposal by the European Commission to extend existing import duties on certain types of leather shoes produced in China and Vietnam.

The rebuff was delivered by trade diplomats on the EU's anti-dumping committee, a consultative body. No formal vote took place, but a headcount suggested that 15 member states were against the extension and 12 in favour.

The result is in no way legally binding on the Commission, but it is a political signal to the Commission to adjust its proposal before seeking the approval of member states' ministers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:58:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dutch prime minister lame duck | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Jan Peter Balkenende has returned to The Hague from last night's summit in Brussels to pick up where he left off. He says he never wanted the job of first president of Europe - and he didn't get it, losing out to his neighbour, Belgian Prime Minster Herman van Rompuy. But how damaged is he by the EU selection process?

Mr Balkenende returned from the summit with his head held high. Happy for Europe that a good team was chosen quickly, and happy for The Netherlands that he gets to finish his four-year term as prime minister. But insiders wonder if Mr Balkenende shouldn't be returning with his tail between his legs. It was no secret that he wanted to become Europe's first president, no matter how often he denied it, and his thwarted ambitions could damage his credibility.

Colourless mouse
Mr Balkenende won't be received with open arms in The Hague - and certainly not by Geert Wilders, leader of the opposition Freedom Party. "They've found an even more colourless mouse than Balkenende  to fill the job," sneered Mr Wilders, "It's a shame. I'd have been very happy to see him leave for Brussels, because that would have meant early elections as far as I'm concerned."

Mr Balkenende was having a tough time of it long before the Lisbon Treaty was ratified and the question arose of who would fill the new EU post. He leads an uneasy coalition government joining his own centre-right Christian Democrats with perennial rivals, the centre-left Labour Party. The financial crisis has only worsened a general feeling of disillusionment among the Dutch voting public.

Mr Balkenende has not helped matters by making a number of political missteps.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I now await an article which argues that the two new offices created by the Lisbon Treaty are a bad thing because for every national leader that benefited, (two), there were ten who were damaged by not getting an office.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:31:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Viewpoint: EU won't rule by Charter

The EU's Lisbon Treaty comes into force on 1 December - and with it the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The UK, Czech Republic and Poland have negotiated opt-outs from the Charter.

But here Damian Chalmers, Professor of EU Law at the London School of Economics (LSE), argues that the Charter repackages EU law that is already applied by the 27-nation bloc.


The Charter is possibly the most wide-ranging human rights treaty in the world today. There are civil rights, political rights, social rights, ecological entitlements, rights for the arts, consumer rights. The list is really extensive.

Whilst the Charter might set out many desirable things, the concern has always been that every one of these grounds gives the EU new reasons to intervene, be it to protect the environment, workers, or the right to asylum.

That scares those worried about national sovereignty and raises fears that the rights might be developed in a clumsy way.

Yet what the Charter actually does is far more limited. It does not give us the general right to challenge our police force, lawmakers or employers whenever they appear to breach these rights: the important catch is that it only binds EU institutions and member states when they are implementing EU law.

The European Commission, Parliament and Council can be reviewed for compliance with the Charter, but the UK government can only be reviewed when it applies EU law or transposes them. This is quite a limited array of circumstances.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:14:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Romanians reflect on life during communist era | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.11.2009

She said that, back then, people generally had more respect for their country, nationality and history. And there were other positive things.

"Everyone had a job, and everyone had a house," she told me. "The problem was that we weren't allowed access to information. We weren't allowed to read writers who didn't have Ceausescu's approval. We weren't allowed to travel abroad, or have friends from abroad. On some days, we weren't allowed to drive."

And then there were the food rations, she said: no more than half a loaf of bread, not too much meat, or sugar, and so on.

While we spoke, Anca's husband, Vio, chopped potatoes and cooked them in a frying pan. Twenty years ago, if he'd been cooking at 7:00 pm, he would've been cooking by candlelight. That's because the communist government cut off electricity from 6:00 - 8:00 pm each night across the country to preserve energy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:22:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone had a job, and everyone had a house

unless you were Roma. and sometimes the authorities would just bulldoze your viallge and turn you off your fields and make you go live in a City high rise where you had no friends, no food, no work you had skills for.

Gah !! Revisionist claptrap !!

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Barnier set to win EU financial role

Michel Barnier, former French foreign minister, is set to be put in charge of the European Union's single market, in a contentious move that followed a night of political horse-trading over top jobs in Brussels.

EU diplomats said France had secured for Mr Barnier the post of EU internal market commissioner as part of a deal that saw Lady Ashton, a British baroness, take on the role of Europe's foreign policy chief.

Downing Street fiercely denied any deal, amid claims by the opposition Conservatives in Britain that Mr Barnier could use his position to pursue a French agenda, stifling the single market and imposing regulations on the City of London.

"Our French partners have a different view on market issues that touch on Britain's vital economic interests," said William Hague, shadow foreign affairs spokesman, who believed Britain should have fought for the single market job.

José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, is said by Brussels diplomats to be ready to give Mr Barnier the dossier, but it is not yet clear whether he will also have control over European bank regulation.

Mr Barroso is still pondering whether to hive off financial services into a separate Commission de-partment. But French diplomats insist Mr Barnier will have control over all asp-ects of the single market.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:27:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vaira Vike-Freiberga comments:

Focus on the big issues, not the bananas | Vaira Vike-Freiberga - Times Online

Yesterday was a good morning for Europe. Now, for the first time, it has a common voice on the international stage. It must use it well and use it sparingly. That means worrying less about detail and concentrating on the big issues -- a little less time worrying about the curvature of bananas and a little more devotion to energy security and the environment.

It also means addressing valid concerns that the European Union's governing structures should be more democratic. Choosing Herman Van Rompuy as first President of the European Union and Baroness Ashton of Upholland as High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy long before the sea bass and wild mushrooms were discreetly placed on the dinner table on Thursday evening in Brussels hardly assuages those concerns.

Making the selection somewhat more transparent would no doubt have enhanced the EU's democratic credentials. There is no reason why all candidates could not declare themselves publicly beforehand. The citizens of the EU's 27 states would surely have felt more confident if they had heard candidates set out their vision on television.

It isn't difficult to communicate with the public, especially with the new technologies available to us. I was surprised by the volume of response that my candidacy received on the internet; it showed that it is wrong to say Europeans don't care who is appointed.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:48:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlin wants no part in potential 9/11 execution | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 21.11.2009
A legal team is going to New York to prevent the use of evidence provided by Germany in seeking a death penalty. Berlin wants to ensure that promises made by the US are kept if the suspects are found guilty. 

A team of observers from the German government is going to New York to oversee the trial of five suspects accused of orchestrating the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

The federal trial of the suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants was announced on November 13 by the US Justice Department. The government also asserted that it intends to seek the death penalty if the accused are found guilty.

Germany, which does not have a death penalty, provided evidence for the trial on the condition that it could not be used to support a death sentence. Several members of the al Qaeda cell that planned and executed the attacks of September 11 were previously based in the northern German city of Hamburg.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:48:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
vassals do not get to advise the king regarding his whims.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Albania's opposition takes to the street in row over unopened ballot boxes | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.11.2009
Demonstrators in Tirana are camping in a city square to demand a probe into election fraud and a recount. This will never happen, says the country's conservative prime minister. 

Supporters of Albania's opposition party have set up camp to demand a recount in the country's general election.

Socialist party members and supporters spent the night in tents outside the office of conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha, after marching through the capital Tirana.

They demanded that a number of ballot boxes that were declared invalid in the June election should be opened. Demonstrators want a probe into allegations of vote rigging and a recount of the poll.

The protests follow an agreement by EU foreign ministers that Albania should be considered for membership of the union. The Balkan country has been told by European ambassadors that it must be more serious about fighting corruption.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin backs Medvedev's call for Russia modernization | Russia | Deutsche Welle | 21.11.2009
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has backed a call by President Dmitry Medvedev to modernize Russia's economy during a speech in St. Petersburg. In opening remarks, Medvedev also went after political corruption. 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has publically backed President Dmitry Medvedev's call for radical economic modernization, amid rumors of a clash between the two leaders.

During his state-of-the-nation address on November 12, Medvedev urged Russia to end its dependence on oil and gas exports and modernize the economy, which some analysts interpreted as a challenge to Putin.

"I am sure that this call reflects the mood of all of Russian society," Putin said in a keynote speech to the annual congress of the ruling United Russia party in St. Petersburg.

"The crisis, with all its severity, has shown how costly it is for a country to reject innovation, have low work productivity, waste resources and have a slow bureaucracy," Putin said.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gordon Brown 'went for second best to spite Tories' - Times Online

Gordon Brown rejected advice from Lord Mandelson to seek one of the big economic posts in the European Commission for Britain once it was clear that Tony Blair could not succeed in becoming Europe's first president, The Times has learnt. Instead he settled for the post of EU High Representative for Baroness Ashton of Upholland.

The Business Secretary and other ministers believed that one of the EU's three big financial jobs -- running the internal market and financial services, competition or trade -- would have served Britain's interests better than putting such an inexperienced figure into the foreign affairs role.

Instead Mr Brown allowed himself to be persuaded -- bounced according to some EU sources -- into accepting the foreign affairs job by a combination of Europe's Socialist leaders and José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission.

There were also claims that, in exchange, Mr Brown did a deal with President Sarkozy to give the internal market portfolio to the French, sparking criticism from the Conservatives.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
apparently there are rumours of a re-shuffle coming soon with Mandelson going to be Foreign Secretary, no doubt to prevent Davd Milliband allying himself with Ashton, whom Mandelson despises, over europe.

And Jack Straw might move to defence.

Hmm, in advance of the election the plates are moving deep underground. Milliband is getting his legs kicked away from underneath him.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:33:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mandelson despises everyone but himself, I bet.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:38:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calls from Angela Merkel told Tony Blair he would not get EU's top job | Politics | The Guardian
Calls from Angela Merkel told Tony Blair he would not get EU's top job

Tony Blair warned Gordon Brown a week ago that his campaign to become the first president of the European Council was doomed after a decisive intervention by the German chancellor Angela Merkel, according to senior Whitehall sources.

To the dismay of key ministers, who wanted Brown to push for Britain to take an economic portfolio in the European commission once Blair's hopes were dashed, Brown insisted on maintaining his candidacy until moments before Thursday's European summit.

The prime minister hailed the summit as a victory after Britain secured one of the two jobs created under the Lisbon treaty - the high representative for foreign policy taken by Britain's current European commissioner, Lady Ashton.

The summit concluded quickly on Thursday, but only after weeks of horse trading across the EU and a bitter row in London. Blair told Brown that his chances were over after a second - and decisive - phone call with Merkel late last week. Merkel told Blair she bore him no ill will but that the job would have to go to a leader from the dominant centre right.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:54:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Andrew Grice: Blair beaten, but a coup for Brown nonetheless - Andrew Grice, Commentators - The Independent

Tony Blair knew the game was up a week ago. He admitted it in telephone calls to Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. It was clear that the job described as "President of Europe" was going to be nothing of the sort. After eight years of navel-gazing, the European Union had finally decided to appoint ... well, someone to chair meetings of its 27 leaders. Big deal.

Mr Blair would have loved to become a powerful figurehead for Europe on the world stage. But he had too many enemies, not least among EU leaders who did not want to be eclipsed by a star.

His inevitable defeat created yet another headache for Gordon Brown. He had campaigned publicly for his predecessor to land the President's job created by the Treaty of Lisbon. With Thursday night's EU summit looming, Mr Brown could see the headlines coming: "Brown defeated as Blair snubbed." He was desperate to avoid them.

The Prime Minister and his advisers pondered how to pull something out of the fire. He alighted on a diversionary tactic: the second new post to be filled at the Brussels summit - the "EU foreign minister". If that could be won by a "Brit" he might even get some good headlines.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 01:14:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Martin Rowson on EU leadership | From the Guardian | The Guardian
'Europe has shown it wants to be a supersize Switzerland'

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:58:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was genuinely disappointed by that cartoon. rowson is not normally euroskeptic, but theirs is the framing he's using there.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:34:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thousands of farmers march against falling prices in Madrid | France 24

Thousands of Spanish farmers marched through central Madrid to the Agriculture Ministry on Saturday to demand government action on the falling prices and rising costs that are threatening to ruin their livelihoods.

REUTERS - Thousands of Spanish farmers thronged central Madrid on Saturday to demand government action to halt a slide in prices which they say is forcing them out of business.

Three leading Spanish farmers' unions said 100,000 members joined the march led by tractors and bands of bagpipers, which forced police to divert traffic as they made their way through the capital's historical centre to the Agriculture Ministry.

Depressed prices have prompted protests by farmers across Europe this year, and a demonstration last month brought traffic to a standstill in Paris for two hours.

The rally in Madrid followed a strike on Friday in which unions say hundreds of thousands of farmers downed tools across the country to block roads, line streets with tractors or sell produce at cost.

by Fran on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 01:01:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe this is as a result of massive over-production throughout europe as a result of agro-industrial methods.

go organic guys.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:38:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq report: Secret papers reveal blunders and concealment - Telegraph
The "appalling" errors that contributed to Britain's failure in Iraq are disclosed in the most detailed and damning set of leaks to emerge on the conflict.

On the eve of the Chilcot inquiry into Britain's involvement in the 2003 invasion and its aftermath, The Sunday Telegraph has obtained hundreds of pages of secret Government reports on "lessons learnt" which shed new light on "significant shortcomings" at all levels.

They include full transcripts of extraordinarily frank classified interviews in which British Army commanders vent their frustration and anger with ministers and Whitehall officials.

by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't read this yet, but on the morning talk show they referred to it as rivetting stuff. Shall check it later

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:39:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lord Mandelson tells Gordon Brown: make me foreign secretary - Times Online

Gordon Brown is facing demands to make Lord Mandelson foreign secretary in a row that risks tearing apart his government.

The business secretary is secretly pressing Brown to hold a cabinet reshuffle so he can achieve his life-long ambition of running the Foreign Office. Mandelson made the request after he was snubbed for the post of European Union foreign minister at last week's Brussels summit.

Mandelson's reshuffle call puts the prime minister in a perilous position as he struggles to retain the support of the most powerful figures in the cabinet.

If he bows to Mandelson's wishes, he risks alienating David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and his ally Ed Balls, the schools secretary, who is still eager for promotion. If he refuses Mandelson's demand, he risks losing his loyalty with potentially devastating consequences for the election.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:09:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The government has a use-by date of May 2010. If Mandelson can't get the ego booster he craves for the next 6 months he'll do his best to sabotage it? And to think he was Labour's #3 choice for the job of EU High Representative...

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 03:25:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this isn't an ego boost for Mandy. This is to prevent Milliband, as foreign secretary, being an ally with Ashton, who he hates. It also effectively demotes Milliband which diminishes his standing as a potential PM.

This is all about post-General-Election positioning.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:42:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently Mandelson was lobbying for Miliband to get the Brussels job so he could be Foreign Secretary, and then when Miliband made it clear he wouldn't take the job, Mandelson lobbied for himself. See the excerpt in the comments to my latest diary.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Baroness Ashton: EU couldn't make it up - Times Online
The plotting and bungles that led to an obscure British bureaucrat heading the EU's foreign service were even greater than first thought. She now commands staff in 130 countries.

After a byzantine Brussels stitch-up, the appointment to one of the grandest jobs in the European Union was settled by text message. Early on Thursday evening Baroness Ashton, an obscure Labour quangocrat, received a text message from her mentor, Jose Manuel Barroso, the chairman of the European commission.

It told her she was to be the EU's first high representative for foreign affairs. The decision was such a shock that Ashton had been preparing to board the Eurostar to go home to London and had no acceptance speech prepared.

"Cathy [Ashton] was genuinely surprised," said one Brussels insider. So was the rest of the world, which had barely heard of her.

The moment encapsulated just how badly Gordon Brown had bungled his attempt to win EU posts for his favoured candidates. The prime minister had lobbied in vain for Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, and Geoff Hoon, the former chief whip, to be given the job. Ashton was effectively his third or even fourth choice.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:16:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See my diary.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 03:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Romanians vote in presidential poll pivotal for political, economic crises | France 24
Romanians are voting Sunday in the first round of a closely-fought presidential election amid hopes that the vote would break a political impasse that has hampered the country's access to much-needed international aid.

AFP - Romanians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president for a five-year term, amid a serious recession and an ongoing political crisis prompted by the fall of the government in mid-October.
The polls were due to open at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) until 9:00 pm.
Twelve candidates, all men, are running in this first presidential election since Romania entered the European Union in 2007.
But Sunday's vote was likely to lead to a run-off election on December 6 with the incumbent centre-right president, Traian Basescu, and his Social Democrat rival Mircea Geoana neck-in-neck in opinion polls.
Each expected to win between 30 and 32 percent of votes in the first round, both were clear front-runners ahead of the Liberal Crin Antonescu, opinion polls showed ahead of the election.

by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:19:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:18:46 AM EST
Finance gurus damn reform with faint praise | Industry Summits | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank executives are cautious about slamming the lawmakers trying to rein in Wall Street excess, leaving the impassioned arguments to their armies of lobbyists in Washington.

Bankers, analysts and other financial experts at the Reuters Global Finance Summit in New York this week, chose their words carefully when talking about policymakers and members of Congress, acknowledging the need for some reform as long as it does not torpedo the industry.

"The industry rightfully deserves a good portion of the regulation that we're about to see, and there will be some extremes and there will be some unintended consequences," said Denis Salamone, chief operating officer of Hudson City Bancorp (HCBK.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the largest U.S. savings and loan.

Like many in the industry, Salamone argued that over-regulating banks will just hurt consumers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:32:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Salamone argued that over-regulating banks will just hurt consumers.

when I can roar at crap like this?  Hilarious!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 08:40:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was hoping someone would see it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 03:52:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Germany warns US on market bubbles

Germany's new finance minister has echoed Chinese warnings about the growing threat of fresh global asset price bubbles, fuelled by low US interest rates and a weak dollar.

Wolfgang Schäuble's comments highlight official concern in Europe that the risk of further financial market turbulence has been exacerbated by the exceptional steps taken by central banks and governments to combat the crisis.

Last weekend, Liu Mingkang, China's banking regulator, criticised the US Federal Reserve for fuelling the "dollar carry-trade", in which investors borrow dollars at ultra-low interest rates and invest in higher-yielding assets abroad.

Speaking at a banking conference in Frankfurt on Friday, Mr Schäuble said it would be "naive" to assume the next asset price bubble would take the same guise as the last.

He said: "More likely today is a scenario in which excess liquidity globally creates a new [sort of] asset market bubble."

He added: "That low interest rate currencies such as the US dollar are increasingly being used as a basis for currency carry trades should give pause for thought. If there was a sudden reversal in this business, markets would be threatened with enormous turbulence, including in foreign exchange markets."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What if a Recovery Is All in Your Head?  ROBERT J. SHILLER     NYT

Beyond fiscal stimulus and government bailouts, the economic recovery that appears under way may be based on little more than self-fulfilling prophecy. Consider this possibility: after all these months, people start to think it's time for the recession to end. The very thought begins to renew confidence, and some people start spending again -- in turn, generating visible signs of recovery. This may seem absurd, and is rarely mentioned as an explanation for mass behavior late in a recession, but economic theorists have long been fascinated by such a possibility.

The notion isn't as farfetched as it may appear. As we all know, recessions generally last no more than a couple of years. The current recession began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, so it is almost two years old. According to the standard schedule, we're due for recovery. Given this knowledge, the mere passage of time may spur our confidence, though no formal statistical analysis can prove it.

Certainly, people did not always believe that there is a regular "business cycle" that starts and stops in a definite pattern. The idea began to spread in the popular consciousness in the 1920s and reached full bloom in the '30s -- with one major complication, the Great Depression, which received its name in midcourse, from a 1934 book with that title by Lionel Robbins.

In fact, in 1937, "Think and Grow Rich," a book by Napoleon Hill, urged readers to adopt a positive mental attitude and to channel the power of the subconscious mind so that real wealth would follow. It became a runaway best seller. Faddish interest had already emerged not only in Freud's theory of the unconscious mind, but also in the theories of the psychologist Émile Coué, who urged people to recite that "every day in every way I'm getting better and better." He said this "autosuggestion" would bolster the unconscious self.

In important ways, we are still using that 1930s pattern of thinking. We are instinctively fearful of reckless talk about depressions, and we try to support one another's confidence. We like the idea that modern scientific economics seems to show that all recessions end in due course.

My mother's copy of Think and Grow Rich remains a treasured part of my library--as an example of US popular psychology.  Sadly, it seems not to have worked for either of us. It was written by the then CEO of Ralston-Purina, a well known manufacturer of dog food. That odd fact perhaps adds a layer of meaning to former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis's comment about the Republican Party's brand image: "If our party's brand were dog food, they would be taking it off the shelves. No one is buying our dog food."  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 01:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Schiller is peddling his behavioural economics as the panacea.

The behaviour at the end of a recession can also be explained by inventories running out. People have some stuff left over lying when the recession starts and "savings" take the form of consuming this stock. When the stock runs out, you have to go out and consume.

Nobody's looking back at Minsky's (and Veblen's 80 years ago) credit theory of the business cycle.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 03:21:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any economic analysis that ignores Minsky and Veblen is just dog food for the guard dogs.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 11:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Think and Grow Rich works for the already rich. they have ready access to cheap finance, good contacts and have a sense of entitlement that makes them pschologically equipped to deal with issues that would cause others problems.

A good example is Richard Branson. Everybody assumes he started off with nothing, forgetting that he came from the upper middle class with access to considerable resources at low cost (eg the Manor House recording studio for given to him by his aunt).

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
His father being a high court judge was more important than the money. Richard took quite a few people to court in the early days of Virgin in Portobello Road. BTW The Manor was his property, but he only had a small share of the company that built, ran and owned the studio.

His basic MO until he sold the record division was to fund start-ups according to an agreed business plan that paid him max 12% ROI. (i.e. a very good return), all other profits went to the highly motivated owner/workers. However he was brutal if things didn't go according to plan. But to me this was a very smart plan.

But for all the smart business, Virgin would have disappeared without Tubular Bells.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 07:24:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the American people finally starting to stand up to Wall Street?  By George Washington, Zero Hedge

Shareholder Revolt

Some of Goldman Sach's biggest shareholders are demanding that executive compensation be reduced. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

   Their complaints in private conversations with the company and at analyst meetings show how anger over its big-money culture is spilling into the ranks of investors who typically shy away from debates over Wall Street pay.


There were the protests outside of the Bankers Association meeting in Chicago. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

If you don't think that more - bigger - protests are coming, you haven't been paying attention.

Debtor's Revolt

Debtors are revolting against exorbitant interest rates and fees and other aggressive tactics by the too big to fail banks. See this, this, and this.

Congresswoman Kaptur advises her constituents facing foreclosure to demand that the original mortgage papers be produced. She says that - if the bank can't produce the mortgage papers - then the homeowner can stay in the house.

Portfolio manager and investment advisor Marshall Auerback argues that a debtor's revolt would be a good thing.

And even popular personal finance advisor Suze Orman is highlighting the debtors revolt phenomenon on her national tv show.

Congress Is Starting to Get the Message

The American people are shouting so loud at their congress members and Senators, that even some of the most pro-Wall Street congressman are starting to get it.

For example, the Congressional Black Caucus has been hearing so much about how congress is failing to address the crisis of unemployment from their constituents, that the CBC delayed Barney Frank's proposed financial reform.

The House Financial Services Committee received so many phone calls from constituents that it approved the Ron Paul/Alan Grayson bill to audit the Fed and defeated the trojan horse alternate bill written by Mel Watt. Indeed, I have heard from congressional sources that the only calls to support the Watt alternate bill were from the Fed itself.  And see this.

The Committee also approved Congressman Grayson's bill to rein in foreign currency swaps.

Both Geithner and Summers are coming under increasing pressure to resign due to their being in bed with Wall Street.

Even Bernanke's re-appointment is no longer certain.

There is even more substantiation on Washington's post. This confirms what I have been sensing over the last week.  The tide may be turning. The situation is just too blatant and people are letting their feelings be known.  The last time this state of public concern was exceeded was after the "Saturday Night Massacre" in Watergate under Nixon.  I suspect we might start having some riveting hearings on Capitol Hill. We are not yet at the stage where John Dean stuck a knife in Nixon during his testimony, but I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar.  AFT!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sadly not happening here yet.

The problem of a financial recovery is that it so often involves putting people out of work. Good for the company, but the worst thing for the economy.

You can't have a jobless recovery when recovery relies of domestic consumption. you have to revitalise the middle classes and that means reversing 40 years of bad faith from government.

It's why UK isn't recovering, we don't have domestic spend cos wages are depresed and all the govt is doing is throwing money at the top and expecting "trickle-down"

Hello !! Earth to Gordon Brown !! Trickle down doesn't happen, it's a self-serving myth to justify wealth capture. They scrape out the fat and give it to themselves in bonuses. But nobody is saying we have to raise employment and wages. It's all cuts, cuts, cuts and until that changes the UK will short its recovery.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:55:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only difference here MAY be that people could be awakening in sufficient numbers to change things--as long as we actually count ballots.  Politicians seem to be under the impression that we do--when the turn-out is big enough.  

I just hope Obama can figure it out in time. NOT because I am so enamoured of him, but because fixing the mess would be easier with Dems in control of all three elective bodies. Continuing to forebear much beyond January, 2010 will likely doom the Dems in the fall and I see little chance of improvement with a divided House and fewer Democratic Senators.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 11:27:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Carbon Commentary · Spain's variable wind and stable electricity networks

One of the frequent criticisms of wind energy is that national distribution systems (`the grid') cannot cope with large number of turbines because of the variability and unpredictability of their output. Grids need to match supply and demand precisely, the critics say, and because wind varies so much it causes huge problems. Recent data from two meteorologically unusual days in Spain - the world leader in the management of renewable energy supplies - shows this assertion is almost certainly false.

  • During part of 8 November, Spain saw over 50% of its electricity come from turbines as an Atlantic depression swept over the country's wind parks. (They are so big that no one seems to call them `farms'.) Unlike similar times in November 2008, when Spanish turbines were disconnected because the grid had an excess of electricity, the system accepted and used all the wind power that was offered to it.
  • A very different event in January of this year saw unexpectedly high winds shut down most of the country's turbines with little warning. The grid coped with this untoward incident as well. These two events show that a well run transmission system can cope with extreme and unexpected events even with a large fraction of power provided by wind.

Over the course of this year Spain will generate about 14% of its total electricity from wind and this number is likely to rise to the high twenties by 2020. Spain is showing the rest of the world that these figures are not incompatible with grid stability. Although wind is `variable', `intermittent' and `unpredictable', a well functioning grid system can still use wind to help stabilise electricity costs, reduce carbon emissions and improve energy security.(continues)

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 04:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the country's wind parks. (They are so big that no one seems to call them `farms'.)

It's just that in Spanish parque eólico sounds natural and granja eólica sounds strained. Farm is strictly an agriculture station. We don't talk about server farms either in the computing context, I don't think.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 04:32:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Britain, Visions of Japan's Decade of Economic Stagnation - NYTimes.com

LONDON -- Britain may finally be emerging from recession, but many analysts warn that it is a false dawn. In fact, they argue, the economy here is so ravaged by growing debts and ruined banks that it could well be following in the steps of Japan's lost decade of the 1990s.

The parallels are eerie: Like Japan, Britain enjoyed more than a decade of booming growth, fed by aggressive bank lending and real estate investments. Haunted by the comparison, policy makers have been extra aggressive in using fiscal and monetary levers in hope of preventing the stagnation and banking stasis that plagued Japan for so many years.

Some economic indicators over the last week have been positive: an uptick in retail sales, fewer jobs lost and an export revival. Yet analysts say they may well turn out to be teasers that cloak deeper, more structural flaws in the economy.

In addition to rising debt, the tax base is collapsing and the crippled banking industry has yet to show it can generate profit by lending to companies.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 05:14:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
when you can turn on the television and see my smiling face as I guillotine thousands of fawning Republicans and over-wealthy folks.  Till then, play on.

P.S.  Hey Mig.  Any question about my readiness for public executions?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 08:51:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trolling and proud of it, how nice.

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 08:58:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trolling??  Not at all.  Wishful thinking, perhaps.  I tend to have rosy, optimistic thoughts in the face of decades of disaster post - Jimmy Carter. It keeps me smiling inside.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 09:24:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:20:27 AM EST
NATO takes command of Afghan army, police training | International | Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) - NATO took command of the training of the Afghan army and police on Saturday to consolidate efforts on building an effective security force, a vital precondition for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

The existing U.S. training mission, CSTC-A, until now responsible for most of the training, is to merge with the new "NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan" (NTM-A), under a single NATO command, commanders said on Saturday at a ceremony in Kabul.

Deputy Commander of the new NATO mission Major General Michael Ward said he believed the move would encourage more NATO training personnel to be sent to Afghanistan, helping to speed the expansion of local forces.

"I'm very optimistic. We've identified what our needs are and we're bringing those back to NATO to get nations to contribute and we've already seen in this run-up, a significant number of people coming in with exactly the right skills," Ward told Reuters.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:35:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Upper-Bracket Tax May Be Needed for Afghan War Cost, Levin Says - Bloomberg.com

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Higher-income Americans should be taxed to pay for more troops sent to Afghanistan and NATO should provide half of the new soldiers, said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

An "additional income tax to the upper brackets, folks earning more than $200,000 or $250,000" a year, could fund more troops, Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said in an interview for Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital With Al Hunt," airing this weekend.

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag has estimated that each additional soldier in Afghanistan could cost $1 million, for a total that could reach $40 billion if 40,000 more troops are added.

That cost, Levin said, should be paid by wealthier taxpayers. "They have done incredibly well, and I think that it's important that we pay for it if we possibly can" instead of increasing the federal debt load, the senator said.

Other countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should bear responsibility for delivering half the additional troops needed to secure the conflict zone and train Afghan forces, Levin said. He didn't predict how many troops President Barack Obama would add.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:35:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were Levin to insist on a large enough tax he would recruit a large number of Republicans to opposition to the Afgan war.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 12:01:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Afghans Resist Taliban, U.S. Spurs Rise of Militias | NY Times

ACHIN, Afghanistan -- American and Afghan officials have begun helping a number of anti-Taliban militias that have independently taken up arms against insurgents in several parts of Afghanistan, prompting hopes of a large-scale tribal rebellion against the Taliban.

The emergence of the militias, which took some leaders in Kabul by surprise, has so encouraged the American and Afghan officials that they are planning to spur the growth of similar armed groups across the Taliban heartland in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

The American and Afghan officials say they are hoping the plan, called the Community Defense Initiative, will bring together thousands of gunmen to protect their neighborhoods from Taliban insurgents. Already there are hundreds of Afghans who are acting on their own against the Taliban, officials say.

The endeavor represents one of the most ambitious -- and one of the riskiest -- plans for regaining the initiative against the Taliban, who are fighting more vigorously than at any time since 2001.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:45:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They must be paying these fighters well...
But in the past they did pay Taliban and look who they are fighting today.
There is no chance in Afghanistan for USA and NATO.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 09:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and it's 1-2-3 what are we fighting for ?
don't ask me, I don't give a damn
Next stop is Vi-et-nam

Still the most appropriate song about war

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 06:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran rejects threats, urges more talks | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

Tehran rejects threats as part of a continuing campaign of psychological warfare against it and calls for more talks on the nuclear issue, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.

In a televised speech Friday night, Ahmadinejad said the West had launched a massive propaganda campaign against the country's civil nuclear program, according to Press TV.

"Today, the only tool in the hands of [our] enemies is to wage a psychological war and raise the hue and cry; but they know well that threats will have no impact on the Iranian nation," he said.

He said Iran welcomed "talks and interaction."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:16:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hamas: All Gaza militant groups agree to halt rocket attacks - Haaretz - Israel News
Hamas has agreed with other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza not to fire rockets into Israel for the time being to avoid a possible Israeli military reaction, the Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted a senior official as saying on Saturday.

"We have agreed with the factions that nobody carries out any action involving rockets for now," Fathi Hammad, Hamas' interior minister, was quoted as saying.
But if Israel sent troops to the Hamas-controlled territory, then the militants would have "an open space to respond," Hammad added during a meeting with Gaza journalists, according to Xinhua.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the israelis don't need a reaction. there have been ceasefires before and the israelis were the ones to breka them, the israelis will break this one.

the Israeli right don't want peace, peace frightens them. they need an external enemy to prevent them recognising that their society is bitterly divided and would degenerate into civil war in the absence of that external threat.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 06:06:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zimbabwe, China ink 8 billion dollar investment deal: report
Harare (AFP) Nov 19, 2009
Zimbabwe's government and a Chinese investment company have signed an eight billion dollars investment deal, the biggest since the unity government was set up, state media reported on Thursday.

The signing of five agreements with China Sonangol, a private joint venture with Angola's state oil firm, will target gold and platinum refining, oil and gas exploration, fuel purchase and distribution, and housing, the Herald newspaper said.

"The signing... bears testimony to the relevance and efficacy of the Look East policy" adopted by the government four years ago, said Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary in President Robert Mugabe's office.

"It is hoped that the co-operation will continue to grow from strength to strength and through such efforts it is only a matter of time before Zimbabwe becomes the jewel of Africa."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:40:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An Accused Plotter With Feet in East and West | NY Times

PHILADELPHIA -- The trip from a strict Pakistani boarding school to a bohemian bar in Philadelphia has defined David Headley's life, according to those who know the middle-age man at the center of a global terrorism investigation.

Raised by his father in Pakistan as a devout Muslim, Mr. Headley arrived back here at 17 to live with his American mother, a former socialite who ran a bar called the Khyber Pass.

Today, Mr. Headley is an Islamic fundamentalist who once liked to get high. He has a traditional Pakistani wife, who lives with their children in Chicago, but also an American girlfriend, a makeup artist in New York, according to a relative and friends. Depending on the setting, he alternates between the name he adopted in the United States, David Headley, and the Urdu one he was given at birth, Daood Gilani. Even his eyes -- one brown, the other green -- hint that he has roots in two places.

Mr. Headley, an American citizen, is accused of being the lead operative in a loose-knit group of militants plotting revenge against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The indictment against him portrays a man who moved easily between different worlds. The profile that has emerged of him since his arrest, however, suggests that Mr. Headley felt pulled between two cultures and ultimately gravitated toward an extremist Islamic one.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 04:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senate Votes to Open Health Care Debate  NYT

WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted on Saturday to begin full debate on major health care legislation, propelling President Obama's top domestic initiative over a crucial, preliminary hurdle in a formidable display of muscle-flexing by the Democratic majority.

"Tonight we have the opportunity, the historic opportunity to reform health care once and for all," said Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and a chief architect of the legislation. "History is knocking on the door. Let's open it. Let's begin the debate."

The 60-to-39 vote, along party lines, clears the way for weeks of rowdy floor proceedings that will begin after Thanksgiving and last through much of December.

The Senate bill seeks to extend health benefits to roughly 31 million Americans who are now uninsured, at a cost of $848 billion over 10 years.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 12:08:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is There Such a Thing as Agro-Imperialism?    NYT

Dr. Robert Zeigler, an eminent American botanist, flew to Saudi Arabia in March for a series of high-level discussions about the future of the kingdom's food supply. Saudi leaders were frightened: heavily dependent on imports, they had seen the price of rice and wheat, their dietary staples, fluctuate violently on the world market over the previous three years, at one point doubling in just a few months. The Saudis, rich in oil money but poor in arable land, were groping for a strategy to ensure that they could continue to meet the appetites of a growing population, and they wanted Zeigler's expertise.

There are basically two ways to increase the supply of food: find new fields to plant or invent ways to multiply what existing ones yield. Zeigler runs the International Rice Research Institute, which is devoted to the latter course, employing science to expand the size of harvests. During the so-called Green Revolution of the 1960s, the institute's laboratory developed "miracle rice," a high-yielding strain that has been credited with saving millions of people from famine. Zeigler went to Saudi Arabia hoping that the wealthy kingdom might offer money for the basic research that leads to such technological breakthroughs. Instead, to his surprise, he discovered that the Saudis wanted to attack the problem from the opposite direction. They were looking for land.

In a series of meetings, Saudi government officials, bankers and agribusiness executives told an institute delegation led by Zeigler that they intended to spend billions of dollars to establish plantations to produce rice and other staple crops in African nations like Mali, Senegal, Sudan and Ethiopia. "They laid out this incredible plan," Zeigler recalled. He was flabbergasted, not only by the scale of the projects but also by the audacity of their setting. Africa, the world's most famished continent, can't currently feed itself, let alone foreign markets.

The American scientist was catching a glimpse of an emerging test of the world's food resources, one that has begun to take shape over the last year, largely outside the bounds of international scrutiny. A variety of factors -- some transitory, like the spike in food prices, and others intractable, like global population growth and water scarcity -- have created a market for farmland, as rich but resource-deprived nations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere seek to outsource their food production to places where fields are cheap and abundant. Because much of the world's arable land is already in use -- almost 90 percent, according to one estimate, if you take out forests and fragile ecosystems -- the search has led to the countries least touched by development, in Africa. According to a recent study by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the earth's last large reserves of underused land is the billion-acre Guinea Savannah zone, a crescent-shaped swath that runs east across Africa all the way to Ethiopia, and southward to Congo and Angola.


Investors who are taking part in the land rush say they are confronting a primal fear, a situation in which food is unavailable at any price. Over the 30 years between the mid-1970s and the middle of this decade, grain supplies soared and prices fell by about half, a steady trend that led many experts to believe that there was no limit to humanity's capacity to feed itself. But in 2006, the situation reversed, in concert with a wider commodities boom. Food prices increased slightly that year, rose by a quarter in 2007 and skyrocketed in 2008. Surplus-producing countries like Argentina and Vietnam, worried about feeding their own populations, placed restrictions on exports. American consumers, if they noticed the food crisis at all, saw it in modestly inflated supermarket bills, especially for meat and dairy products. But to many countries -- not just in the Middle East but also import-dependent nations like South Korea and Japan -- the specter of hyperinflation and hoarding presented an existential threat.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 01:16:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... a primal fear, a situation in which food is unavailable at any price.

Kill off the 98% of the world population which is currently powerless, rapidly becoming unemployed, by ANY means necessary (bombs, starvation, gas, etc.) leaving only the super-wealthy and a few necessary technicians/engineers/MDs etc. to cater to these survivors.  Think about it.  Literally Heaven on earth.

What do you say, Republicans/Tories?  With me on this one?

Oh yeah.  I volunteer to be one of the first to croak.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 09:11:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 09:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America - Americas, World - The Independent
From the Caribbean to Brazil, political opposition to US plans for 'full-spectrum operations' is escalating rapidly

The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development - and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it - is further exacerbating America's already fractured relationship with much of the continent.

The new US push is part of an effort to counter the loss of influence it has suffered recently at the hands of a new generation of Latin American leaders no longer willing to accept Washington's political and economic tutelage. President Rafael Correa, for instance, has refused to prolong the US armed presence in Ecuador, and US forces have to quit their base at the port of Manta by the end of next month.

So Washington turned to Colombia, which has not gone down well in the region. The country has received military aid worth $4.6bn (£2.8bn) from the US since 2000, despite its poor human rights record. Colombian forces regularly kill the country's indigenous people and other civilians, and last year raided the territory of its southern neighbour, Ecuador, causing at least 17 deaths.

by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:06:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America

Wonderfully transparent, no?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 09:13:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:21:21 AM EST
PERU: Fighting Hunger with Native Crops - IPS ipsnews.net
PAUCARÁ, Peru, Nov 21 (IPS) - As if he were showing off a treasure, Dionicio Sarmiento holds up his seed potatoes with a smile. "Look how nice they are, all ready to plant. It'll be a good harvest," says the peasant farmer from Huancavelica, Peru's poorest province, where most of the population depends on subsistence farming.

Good seeds can make the difference between going hungry or putting food on the table for your family.

Sarmiento lives in the village of Tinquerccasa, more than 3,500 metres above sea level, where the houses are made of adobe, farmers use simple tools, and food production barely covers the families' needs. Piped water is available here only one hour a day, and there is no sewer system.

Tinquerccasa is in the district of Paucará, where more than 90 percent of the population is poor. In Huancavelica as a whole, where indigenous people make up the majority of the population, nearly 86 percent of people live in poverty, and approximately 45 percent of children in native communities are malnourished.

Despite these grim statistics, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has found fertile ground in the village for fighting hunger and promoting food security through a project aimed at strengthening community organisations, reviving consumption of traditional foods, and connecting farm production with markets, to boost the incomes of local farmers.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:36:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CLIMATE CHANGE: The Danish Example - IPS ipsnews.net
COPENHAGEN, Nov 20 (IPS/IFEJ) - Whether a new internationally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gases and forestall climate change will be signed next month remains to be seen. What is clear though, is that if there is a place in the world that deserves to be the stage where this treaty ought to be signed, it is the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

Thanks to an extraordinary effort by both government and civil society to improve efficiency in the generation and consumption of energy, and massive investments in renewable energy sources, Denmark is today the only country in the world that has been able to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gases emissions (GHGE).

According to official statistics, the Danish economy has grown, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), since 1980 by 78 percent, at prices of the year 2000. During the same period, the country's energy consumption remained practically the same.

This means that the Danish economy's energy intensity - the ratio of energy consumption to GDP - has fallen by 40 percent. Danish GHGE, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), has also decreased substantially, by some 20 percent. According to the International Energy Agency, the Danish CO2 intensity of GDP is the third lowest among European Union (EU) members, only after Sweden and France.

Both Sweden and especially France, rely heavily on allegedly CO2-free nuclear energy generation.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:41:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deadly explosion kills 42 in NE China colliery _English_Xinhua

HARBIN, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- A gas explosion in a coal mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has killed 42 miners and left 66 missing, said Zhang Jinguang, a spokesman with the rescue headquarters.

    He said the gas outburst in Xinxing Coal Mine, owned by the Heilongjiang Longmei Mining Holding Group, in Hegang City, happened 400 meters underground. Rescuers were still searching for the missing.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:19:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India stands firm on emissions
New Delhi (UPI) Nov 19, 2009
Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday said his country would never agree to legally binding emissions and downplayed expectations for the climate-change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month.

"Internationally we reject legally binding emissions. We will never agree to that, and we are prepared to be alone in our stand, but domestically we have to be proactive in reducing carbon emissions," Ramesh said in New Delhi while releasing a U.N. population report.

In resisting pressure to set limits on carbon output, India has long contended that doing so would slow its economic growth and that the responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases lies with longtime polluters.

Rather than committing to legally binding cuts internationally, Ramesh said, India needs to be "proactive, aggressive and ruthless" domestically to tackle climate change.

India currently emits about 3 billion tons of greenhouse gases each year, making it the world's fourth-largest polluter.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 12:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Voracious Invader May Be Nearing Lake Michigan   NYT

CHICAGO -- Asian carp, the big, hungry fish that the authorities here have for years been desperately trying to keep away from the Great Lakes, appear to have moved closer than ever to Lake Michigan. The carp, a non-native species that some fear could destroy the ecosystem of Lake Michigan by consuming what the lake's native fish eat, have long been making their way up the Mississippi River, and since at least 2002 have been the focus of an enormous effort to prevent them from reaching the lake here.

But on Friday, officials from the Army Corps of Engineers reported that genetic material from the carp had been found for the first time in a nearby river beyond an elaborate barrier system, which has cost millions of dollars and was meant to block their passage. That, officials said, means that the fish could be within several miles of Lake Michigan -- and with only one lock, regularly opened for boats, between them and the Great Lakes. No one seems certain how the carp could have found their way through the complicated barrier, which is not unlike a really powerful underwater electric fence.

And in truth, federal and state officials said, no actual carp have been spotted. But most authorities said the genetic material was a likely sign that at least a few are present.

"This is absolutely an emergency," said Joel Brammeier, acting president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, who said that recreational boating on the lakes could also be severely damaged if the carp arrived. (Elsewhere, Mr. Brammeier said, the silvery fish, which can grow to 100 pounds, sometimes leap, hitting boaters.)

"If Asian carp get into Lake Michigan, there is no stopping them," he said, "and the volumes of water and geography make containment impossible in terms of the other Great Lakes. Control is impossible."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 12:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:22:00 AM EST
Climate scientists accused of 'manipulating global warming data' - Telegraph

The material was taken from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit - a world-renowned climate change research centre - before it was published on websites run by climate change sceptics.

It has been claimed that the emails show that scientists manipulated data to bolster their argument that global warming is genuine and is being caused by human actions.

One email seized upon by sceptics as supposed evidence of this, refers to a "trick" being employed to massage temperature statistics to "hide the decline".

The university yesterday confirmed that research data had been stolen and published online and said it had reported the security breach to police.

See Nomad's Climate Wars: Hacker's Paradise.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GENDER-AFRICA: Some Progress Amidst Continuing Challenges - IPS ipsnews.net
BANJUL, Nov 21 (IPS) - The Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 set out an agenda to address gender equality in priority areas, including poverty, education, and health care. It also committed governments to address violence against women, equitable access to economic resources and decision-making power.

"Overall, there has been progress made, but we are not yet there," said U.N. Under-Secretary General Dr Abdoulie Janneh at the opening of a regional review of progress implementing the Beijing plan.

Six hundred people from 43 African countries took part, including gender experts, civil society organisations, and government officials were present in the Gambian capital, Banjul for the review.

There was good news with respect to women's representation in government. Participants were encouraged by the growing number of women in powerful political positions in Africa.

Liberia has the continent's first female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and women serve in senior positions in several other countries as speakers of parliament, prime ministers and vice-presidents, including the host for the conference, the Gambia, whose vice president, Aja Isatou-Njie-Saidy, attended every session.

A variety of affirmative action measures including quotas have helped six countries elect parliaments comprising at least 30 percent women; Rwanda's legislature has the highest proportion of women in the world, with 56 percent of members of parliament being women.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:40:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope to 'seek closer ties'

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope agreed to seek closer relations between Anglicans and Catholics at a meeting in Rome, the Vatican has said.

It follows tensions over the Vatican's offer to welcome disenchanted Anglicans into the Catholic fold.

Pope Benedict's proposal would allow Anglicans to convert while preserving many of their traditions and practices.

A Vatican statement said the "cordial" talks reiterated "the shared will" to move toward closer relations.

It said the discussions, which lasted around half an hour, "also focused on recent events between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:44:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Anglicans can counter by offering the same terms to any Catholic priests who want to marry.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:56:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Especially gay priests! A certain symmetry there.)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:58:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U. of Nebraska Defeats Tighter Limits on Stem Cell Research NYT

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents cast a tie vote on human embryonic stem cell research on Friday, defeating a rare effort to limit such research at a university system beyond what state and federal laws allow. The 4-to-4 vote, which took place in Lincoln, in essence leaves the university's policy in line with President Obama's expansion of the research that federal money may cover. It was a major disappointment for groups that have led a sustained campaign against the research and saw the Nebraska fight as a possible new front in the national debate over the matter.

University administrators, meanwhile, described the decision as a victory that would allow them to continue attracting top scientists and applying for federal research grants in the field. They said those activities would be impossible if the university was limited to working with only the smaller number of stem cell lines allowed under President George W. Bush.

"I'm very happy for the citizens of Nebraska, who hopefully will now benefit from human embryonic stem cell research in Nebraska," Dr. Harold M. Maurer, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said after the crowded, tense meeting ended.

Supporters said embryonic stem cells, which can transform into nearly any type of tissue, hold unique potential for treating macular degeneration, diabetes, stroke and other ailments. Opponents of the research, which requires the destruction of embryos to create the lines, argued that the study of adult stem cells and a newly developed process to reprogram adult stem cells so that they seem to mimic the nature of embryonic stem cells offer more -- and more ethical -- promise.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 12:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults  NYT

At the Peace in Medicine Healing Center in Sebastopol, the wares on display include dried marijuana -- featuring brands like Kryptonite, Voodoo Daddy and Train Wreck -- and medicinal cookies arrayed below a sign saying, "Keep Out of Reach of Your Mother." The warning tells a story of its own: some of the center's clients are too young to buy themselves a beer.

Several Bay Area doctors who recommend medical marijuana for their patients said in recent interviews that their client base had expanded to include teenagers with psychiatric conditions including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"It's not everybody's medicine, but for some, it can make a profound difference," said Valerie Corral, a founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a patients' collective in Santa Cruz that has two dozen minors as registered clients.

Because California does not require doctors to report cases involving medical marijuana, no reliable data exist for how many minors have been authorized to receive it. But Dr. Jean Talleyrand, who founded MediCann, a network in Oakland of 20 clinics who authorize patients to use the drug, said his staff members had treated as many as 50 patients ages 14 to 18 who had A.D.H.D. Bay Area doctors have been at the forefront of the fierce debate about medical marijuana, winning tolerance for people with grave illnesses like terminal cancer and AIDS. Yet as these doctors use their discretion more liberally, such support -- even here -- may be harder to muster, especially when it comes to using marijuana to treat adolescents with A.D.H.D.

Well, it IS a hypnotic. It well could counter A.D.H.D.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 12:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:22:33 AM EST
BBC News - Mussolini's 'brain and blood for sale on internet'

The granddaughter of Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has said that blood and parts of his brain have been stolen to sell on the internet.

Alessandra Mussolini, a former showgirl turned MP, said she immediately informed the police when she found out.

The listing, on auction site Ebay, reportedly showed images of a wooden container and ampoules of blood.

Ebay, which does not allow the sale of human matter on its site, said that the listing was removed within hours.

The initial price requested for the material was 15,000 euros ($22,000; £13,000).

"This is very serious, these are the kinds of things we have to guard against," said Ms Mussolini, who was attending a seminar on internet crime when the listing was discovered.

Very serious. Very, very serious.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...does that mean they made the brains run on time?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 04:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No! It means they made them run off in time.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 11:55:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Benito Mussolini sex diaries reveal he 'had 14 lovers at a time' - Times Online

The fascist dictator Benito Mussolini boasted of keeping 14 lovers at one time, according to an eye-popping account of his sex life which has emerged from the diaries of his long-term mistress.

The journals of Claretta Petacci, a Vatican doctor's daughter who met Mussolini in 1932 at the age of 20 and became his lover four years later, were published last week. Held in the Italian state archives, they cover the period from 1932 to 1938 and were released under Italy's 70-year rule.

Petacci was so jealous of the other women in Mussolini's life that she made him call her at least a dozen times a day, and every half hour after he got home in the evening, because she -- correctly -- suspected him of betraying her. She wrote down the times of the calls and their content.

"The diaries are an intimate chronicle, minute by minute, of the daily life of the founder of fascism," said Mauro Suttora, who edited the diaries for his book Secret Mussolini.

  [Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:12:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlesquoni looks more convincing as a stand in every day

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 06:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mescaline left Jean-Paul Sartre in the grip of lobster madness - Times Online

As one of the great European thinkers of the 20th century, Jean-Paul Sartre popularised existentialism, became a working-class hero -- and was chased down the Champs Elysées by a pack of imaginary lobsters.

A previously unpublished account of the late French philosopher's improbable drug-induced crustacean visions has surfaced in New York, where a new book of conversations between Sartre and an old family friend will be published later this month.

John Gerassi, a New York professor of political science whose parents were close friends of Sartre, talked at length to the philosopher in the 1970s about his experiments with mescaline, a powerful hallucinogenic drug derived from a Mexican cactus.

Although it has long been known that Sartre experienced visions of lobsters -- which he sometimes referred to as crabs -- Gerassi's account offers startling new details of the philosopher's descent into near-madness as he battled to make sense of what he had come to regard as the intellectual absurdity of his life.

by Fran on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 02:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lobster madness beats reefer madness every time

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 22nd, 2009 at 06:25:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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