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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 4 March

by Fran Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:26:07 PM EST

On this date in history:

1878 - Birth of Peter D. Ouspensky, a Russian philosopher who invoked euclidean and noneuclidean geometry in his discussions of psychology and higher dimensions of existence. (d. 1947)

More here and here


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by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:26:48 PM EST
Austria, Hungary Allowed to Keep Ban on Genetically Modified Crops | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.03.2009
Germany, along with at least 20 other EU member states, has voted down a European Commission attempt to have Austria and Hungary lift bans on growing genetically modified (GM) maize. 

EU environment ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday, March 2, voted against forcing Vienna and Budapest to allow US biotech giant Monsanto's MON810 GM maize grain to be grown in their countries.

Only four EU nations -- Britain, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden -- supported the commission's effort to have the Austrian and Hungarian bans lifted.

The outcome of the vote reaffirmed Austria's and Hungary's assertion that it is their sovereign right to prohibit GM crops, Austria's Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich told a news conference after the vote.

"We have completely prevailed," he said. "This is for me as if Austria won the European football championship."

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:29:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thankfully the environment event was more likely than the football event...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misŤres
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Europe will not force members to farm GM maize | France 24
Austria and Hungary will not be forced to allow cultivation of genetically modified maize after a vote by EU member states. The European Commission had earlier called for lifting a ban on growing GM maize as requested by US biotech giant Monsanto.

AFP - EU nations refused Monday to force Austria and Hungary to allow the cultivation of Monsanto genetically modified maize, defying a call from the European Commission, the Czech EU presidency said.
  
Only five of the 27 European Union nations -- Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Estonia -- supported the EU executive's bid to force the two member states to lift their ban.
  
In Vienna Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich hailed the vote as an "historic victory."
  
"For me it's as if Austria had won the European football championship."
  
EU environment ministers, meeting in Brussels, voted on a call from the commission to lift provisional bans on growing US biotech giant Monsanto's MON810 GM maize -- super resistant against insects -- that Austria and Hungary have imposed.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:42:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France also has a moratorium on MON 810. The meme that Bad Brussels was going  to force France to lift the moratorium (ie, do what the French Agri-Ministry  in fact wants) was floating around, but will no doubt take a hit from this decision. Good news.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:59:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gordon Brown most polluting EU leader - EUobserver

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the EU leader who travelled the most in 2008, but it is UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown whose trips produced the most greenhouse gas.

Last year Mr Brown generated more than 8,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) on international and domestic flights, travelling almost 158,000 kilometres, Terra Eco, a French environmental monthly, reported on Monday (2 March).

Mr Sarkozy (l) travelled almost as much as Ms Merkel (m) and Mr Brown (r) put together in 2008, but was responsible for fewer greenhouse gas emissions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was second, with some 7,400 tonnes for 174,440 kilometres over the course of 75 trips, most of which (44) were within Germany.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who traveled 324,595 kilometres, or the equivalent of flying eight times around the Earth, produced 7,100 tonnes of CO2.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came fourth, with 6,700 tonnes of CO2 for 175,495 kilometres.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But has anyone compared the flying distances these leaders must travel when they all get together to party?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 04:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gordon Brown would have a 1h50m train ride to Brussels if he cared to go to EU summits by Eurostar...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:12:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But he'd probably want to avoid embarrassing quesitons like "how come it's quicker to go to Paris or brussels by train than Manchester, which is half the distance ?"

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:51:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only quicker, it's cheaper! 60 quid return trip to Brussels...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 03:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, okay, but how does the Élysée Palace compare with 10 Downing Street?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 07:06:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | Spanish jobless total rises again

The number of unemployed people in Spain jumped by 154,058 in February, as the deepening recession forced companies to lay off more workers.

The total number of people out of work in Spain now stands at almost 3.5 million, official figures show.

It means the number of unemployed has risen by more than 10% in the past two months alone, and 50% in a year.

Although the rise is smaller than that in January, analysts expect many more Spaniards will soon be out of work.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:31:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Defiant Karadzic refuses to plead

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has again refused to enter a plea at The Hague, where he is facing charges of war crimes.

Prosecutors at the United Nations tribunal had re-drafted the charges and Mr Karadzic now faces two counts of genocide instead of one.

He also faces nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

His refusal to enter a plea prompted the court judges to lodge an automatic plea of not guilty on his behalf.

Appearing in court, Mr Karadzic said he was "not going to enter a plea at all."

"This tribunal does not have the right to try me," he said.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Offered Deal to Russia in Secret Letter - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia's president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday. Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti, via Associated Press

Moscow has not responded to the letter that was hand-delivered to President Dmitri A. Medvedev, above, three weeks ago. Readers' Comments

Share your thoughts.

The letter to President Dmitri A. Medvedev was hand-delivered in Moscow by top administration officials three weeks ago. It said the United States would not need to proceed with the interceptor system, which has been vehemently opposed by Russia since it was proposed by the Bush administration, if Iran halted any efforts to build nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.

The officials who described the contents of the message requested anonymity because it has not been made public. While they said it did not offer a direct quid pro quo, the letter was intended to give Moscow an incentive to join the United States in a common front against Iran. Russia's military, diplomatic and commercial ties to Tehran give it some influence there, but it has often resisted Washington's hard line against Iran.

"It's almost saying to them, put up or shut up," said a senior administration official. "It's not that the Russians get to say, `We'll try and therefore you have to suspend.' It says the threat has to go away."

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:34:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
M of A - Obama Continues Bush's Russia Policy

So Obama offered Russia a deal. Except that thist is no deal anyone would take:

President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia's president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday.

Let's recap:

The Bush administration unilaterally declared to install a missile "defense" system in Czechia and Poland, allegedly against Iranian missiles which Iran does not have and is unlikely have within the next decade if ever.Even the U.S. NATO partners were surprised by this.

The Russian's assume, correctly in my view, that these missiles are intended to enable a U.S. nuclear first strike capacity. All missiles defense systems have an inherent attack capability. It would only need a few minutes from launch the of such missiles to reach Moscow and other Russian decision centers.

They could either decapitate Russia or could be used as a defense against a Russian response strike should the U.S. launch a major nuclear first strike. The Mutual Assured Destruction policy that for long assured the non-use of nuclear weapons would be weakened or even ended by those installations.

The Russian's tried to negotiate and offered a bilateral common missile defense against the alleged Iran threat. The U.S. declined.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:34:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
All missiles defense systems have an inherent attack capability.

Where does this come from? AFAIK this is not accurate.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:29:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia: Obama letter not concrete - Europe, World - The Independent

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has received a letter from US President Barack Obama, Medvedev's spokeswoman said today after being asked about a report in the New York Times.

"We have received this letter. It was in fact a reply to a letter from Medvedev sent to Obama after his appointment. The letter contained an assessment of the situation, but there were no concrete proposals about any mutually binding decisions," Natalya Timakova told reporters during a visit by Medvedev to Spain.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:36:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian President Won't "Haggle" Over US Missile Defense Plans | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 03.03.2009
Russian President Medvedev has said he's willing to discuss the proposed US missile shield with Washington. But he added that any deal linking those talks with negotiations regarding Iran would not be productive. 

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev's comments came in response to a New York Times report that US President Barack Obama had written a secret letter to his Russian counterpart offering to halt the planned missile shield, which would be located mainly in Poland and the Czech Republic, in return for Moscow's help in stopping Iran from developing long-range nuclear weapons.

 

The Russian president welcomed the "positive signals" coming from the Obama administration with which he said he hoped to reach "agreements." "Haggling," however, was "not productive," added Medvedev on Tuesday, March 3.

 

The Russian president also said Obama's letter had not presented the issue in such a way.

 

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:40:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
where the term "haggling" came from, because negotiation is always in order.

I wonder if Medvedev was speaking in English, or if not, what Russian word he used and where the "haggling" translation originated. It's deliberately provocative on somebody's part.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 04:46:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well. It seems that "negotiations" are already pubically in progress. From RIA Novosti, after being approached by the US over Iran, Moscow makes a counteroffer.

Now I'm wondering how the Clinton-Lavrov will go this coming Friday.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:32:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it's an  interesting translation, but I think that the russaisn are entitled to say that. This is not a negotiation at parity , the US has threatened Russia with this probable installation and then claims to want nicey nicey negotiations.

Also, it's an attempt to make russia a guarantor of Iran's behaviour, which I doubt is a responsibility they care for.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:57:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
from Russia tend to show that they are fine with their bilateral relations with Iran. If the missiles are interceptors, then there's no obvious threat to Russia. The radar is likely the bigger threat. That and the fact that the nations where all this stuff is supposed to go might be tied more firmly to NATO (not that Poland [supposedly] and the Czech Republic [definitely] could want to be out of Russia's influence any more than they already do) probably sticks in Moscow's craw though. Still, like the Iraq Bush's War, I really don't see any real gain from their installation. Either for Europe or the US. A lot of other analysts in the US feel the same way.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 08:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gordon Brown rejects advice to admit mistakes in speech to Congress - Times Online

Gordon Brown is to reject pleas from colleagues to admit to mistakes in his handling of the economy when he addresses both Houses of Congress tomorrow.

In a stance that appeared to put him at odds with Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, who has called for ministers to show more humility, Mr Brown maintains his insistence that the recession was created by the banking crisis and not, as with previous recessions, by high inflation and high interest rates.

Some ministers are known to be privately urging Mr Brown to go beyond his expression of regret over the 10p tax rate fiasco and use his speech tomorrow to apologise for other possible errors, notably in regulation.

In an interview today Mr Darling said: "The key thing that went wrong was that a culture was allowed to develop over the last 15 years or so where the relationship between what people did and what they got went way out of alignment, especially at the top end.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Murdoch Alert]

:-)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 07:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ahem

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 10:33:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Trial Could Test Medvedev's Mettle | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 03.03.2009
A new trial has started against former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The case, which opens a year and a day after President Dimitry Medvedev was elected, is being seen by some as a test of his commitment to reform.  

Khodorkovsky faces fresh charges of embezzlement and money laundering that would leave him facing another long jail sentence, if he is found guilty.

"This case of immense importance because of what it will say to all of us about where Russia is going," Robert Amsterdam, a defence lawyer for Khodorkovsky, told Reuters news agency before the hearing.

Khodorkovsky's supporters have long alleged that he was arrested at the behest of the then President Vladimir Putin and his backers. The oil tycoon had openly funded opposition parties such as the liberal Yabloko faction in the run-up to 2003 parliamentary elections to the Kremlin's displeasure.  

The former Yukos boss, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence, has said that corrupt officials also wanted to carve up his business empire, which produced more oil than OPEC member Qatar.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Spain, Russia to sign energy cooperation agreement (March 2, 2009)
Spain and Russia are set to sign a broad agreement for energy cooperation, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Monday.

"Tomorrow our states will sign a broad agreement on energy cooperation ... in developing, exploiting, transporting and selling energy resources, both renewables and traditional," Zapatero said.

Zapatero was speaking to journalists alongside Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the first day of the leader's state visit to Spain.



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 05:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:27:15 PM EST
Libertas hires US election campaigner - EUobserver
Anti-treaty group Libertas has hired US election campaigner Joe Trippi to head its June European election campaign, the Irish Times reports. Mr Trippi organised Democrat Howard Dean's 2004 campaign. Libertas leader Declan Ganley announced the move at the launch of his party's German platform Monday.
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:45:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just now looking for somewhere to share this little tidbit as well. I got it from The Brussels Times blog.

Now that I've been exposed to Declan Ganley (thanks to ET - now, where do I go for treatment?) It's difficult for me even to picture Trippi, a longtime democratic advisor, in the same room with Libertassians.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 04:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's just a hired gun. He doesn't write the message, he merely gets it over.

Of course, if Ganley screams we'll all be grateful.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nytt nejparti ställer upp i EU-valet - DN.seNew no-party in the EU election
Nytt nejparti ställer upp i EU-valetNew no-party entering the EU election
Det irländska nejpartiet Libertas ställer upp i svenska EU-valet. Men partiet anklagas för att ha försökt köpa vinnaren i förra parlamentsvalet, Junilistan. The irish no party Libertas enters the swedish EU election. But the party is accused of trying to buy the winners of last times parliament election, Junilistan.
- De försökte köpa oss för 10 miljoner, om vi kallade oss för Junilistan-Libertas. Men vi avvisade det, säger Sören Wibe, som toppar Junilistans valsedel vid EU-valet i juni.
 
-They tried to buy us for 10 millions, if we called ourselves Junilistan-Libertas. But we refuted it, says Sören Wibe, who is the number one candidate from Junilistan.
Libertas är ett parti skapat av den irländske affärsmannen Declan Ganley, som ledde nejsidan till seger i Irlands folkomröstning om Lissabonfördraget i fjol. Han vill nu starta partier i samtliga 27 EU-länder som ska ställa upp i parlamentsvalet.
 
Libertas is a party created by irish businessman Declan Ganley, who led the no side to victory in Irelands referendum on the Lisbon treaty last year. He now wants to start parties in all 27 EU countries to run in the parliament election.
Enligt Sören Wibe var Declan Ganley på besök i Sverige i januari för att förhandla med Junilistan.
 
According to Sören Wibe, Declan Ganley visited Sweden in Januari to negotiate with Junilistan.
Valmyndigheten har godkänt Libertas Sverige sedan de fått ihop de 1 500 namn som krävs. En av Junilistans grundare, Jesper Katz, står som officiell partibildare. Katz vill inte kommentera anklagelserna, men Libertas talesman Anita Kelly förnekar att man erbjudit pengar.
 
The election authority has approved Libertas Sverige since they have gathered the 1500 names required. One of Junilistans founders, Jesper Katz, is named official party founder. Katz does not wnat to comment on the accusations, but Libertas spokes person Anita Kelly denies offering money.
Junilistan fick i EU-valet 2004 stöd av finansmän, men Sören Wibe säger att de inte tar emot pengar av någon "utländsk miljardär".
 
Junilistan was in the EU election of 2004 supported by businessmen, but Sören Wibe says that they will not accept money from some "foreign billionaire".
- Vi vet heller inte vad Libertas står för utom att de är emot Lissabonfördraget. Det verkar som om de vill ha ett starkt EU, med president och armé, säger Wibe.- We do not know what Libertas stands for except that they are opposed to the Lisbon treaty. It appears that they want a strong EU, with president and army, says Wibe.

So now they do run in Sweden. Remains to be seen wheter they get any ballots out.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 06:00:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Community, Politics & Progress.
They tried to buy us for 10 millions, if we called ourselves Junilistan-Libertas. But we refuted it, says Sören Wibe, who is the number one candidate from Junilistan.
Delightful.

Who is bankrolling Libertas, again? Ganley personally?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 06:04:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That question could be and should be asked in a country with strict laws regarding donations. In Sweden no political donations are tax deductable and there are no demands on parties to present their donations.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 06:23:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Libertas is a party created by irish businessman Declan Ganley, who led the no side

The myth took hold.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 7th, 2009 at 07:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Missed this comment.

I have not seen Libertas mentioned in swedish press earlier (at all, despite reading a lot on the irish referendum) so I suspect that line is lifted from the Libertas press release about running in the election.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 14th, 2009 at 11:30:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ECONOMY & FINANCE
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:27:41 PM EST
Economy Tops List of British-US Meeting in Washington | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 03.03.2009
Britain's Prime Minister arrived in Washington for key talks with the US President Tuesday. The plummeting economy and the conflict in Afghanistan top the agenda. Gordon Brown will also address US Congress. 

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is meeting US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, March 3 to discuss a "global new deal" to rebuild the world economy.

In an article for the British newspaper The Sunday Times ahead of his visit, Brown said the two leaders would discuss a deal "whose impact can stretch from the villages of Africa to reforming the financial institutions of London and New York." Brown's choice of words is reminiscent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies, which were aimed at lifting the US out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

"Now is the time for leaders of every country in the world to work together to agree the action that will see us through the current crisis and ensure we come out stronger," Brown said.

The talks are being seen as preparation for the London Summit on April 2, when leaders of the world's major economies and global economic financial institutions will be gathering in the British capital to address the worldwide financial crisis.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland vows to press ahead with plans to join euro - Telegraph
Poland has vowed to shrug off the economic crisis and press ahead with its plans to join the eurozone in a move to separate itself from other failing economies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Warsaw has announced it will not allow the recession to change the country's timetable to join the euro by 2012, including entry to the single currency's ERM-2 exchange-rate mechanism in June.

Polish ministers hope that the euro will offer Poland's economy a safe haven from the economic crisis that has left the economies of other Eastern European Union member states in tatters.

"The key element of Poland's strategy to get out of this crisis is by first joining ERM-2 and then the eurozone," said Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski.

Poland had come under pressure to reaffirm its commitment to the European single currency after the Polish zloty plunged in value against the euro.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:39:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rescue plan for defaulting euro-zone states drawn up - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Union is able to help any member of the euro area that defaults on debt repayments, economy commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Tuesday (3 March), adding that a rescue plan has already been drawn up, but that it would not be "clever" to reveal such solutions in public.

Economy commissioner Joaquin Almunia said: "There is a solution" for struggling euro-area countries

"If a crisis emerges in one euro area country, there is a solution before visiting the IMF," he said during an address to the European Policy Centre, a Brussels based think-tank.

"You can be sure that there is a solution. And you can be sure that it is not clever to tell you in public what the solution is. But the solution exists ... we are equipped intellectually, politically, and economically to face this crisis scenario."

Later in the day a commission spokesperson referred to the balance of payments facility that has been used to support both Latvia and Hungary.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Mr Obama said that he and the Prime Minister had a shared set of values and a 'shared world view'."

That's whatcha call a leading indicator of co-ordinated trans-Atlantic pooblic policy.

Fed Eliminates Compensation Limits | Bloomberg | 3 March 2009

The rules won't apply to the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility out of "desire to encourage market participants to stimulate credit formation and utilize the facility," the New York Fed said in a document on its Web site today. The government separately said it will expand the TALF to support vehicle-fleet leases and loans for business, construction and farm equipment.

The change suggests the government doesn't intend to apply compensation limits beyond firms that receive direct investments from the Treasury's $700 billion bailout fund. Officials have yet to announce whether such requirements will be imposed on firms participating in a separate effort to remove as much as $1 trillion of distressed assets from banks' balance sheets. ...

Under the October bailout law, recipients of rescue funds are subject to compensation limits when the Treasury has a "meaningful equity or debt position in the financial institution as a result of the transaction." The law prohibits golden- parachute payments to a departing executive and allows a company to recover any bonus paid to an executive based on statements that are later shown to be "materially inaccurate."

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, said compensation requirements should be applied where government funds are "involved."

"I think where federal money is involved, that we should put some limits on it," Shelby told reporters today in Washington when asked about the TALF change. "If it's ordinary private enterprise, that's none of my business." ...

Some companies that may securitize loans for the TALF, such as GMAC LLC, may already be subject to executive-compensation requirements because they are receiving separate funding from the financial-stability plan.

The Fed and Treasury didn't mention the change on executive compensation in a news release today. It was included on page 15 of the "Frequently Asked Questions."



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 06:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is TALF? | Reuters | 3 March 2009

The Bank of England could this week start buying assets with newly created money to boost the money supply and the economy, Chancellor Alistair Darling said in an interview on Tuesday.

Darling told the Daily Telegraph newspaper he also expected more banks to take advantage of the government's Asset Protection Scheme, which insures against losses arising from toxic assets. ...

Boosting the money supply is regarded by policymakers as the next logical step when interest rates cannot fall any lower or when rate cuts become less effective. ...

Darling said it was "crucial that countries act collectively" to stem the economic fallout from the credit crunch, echoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown's call for more measures to support economies and lending around the globe. ...

The Treasury is currently working with Lloyds Banking Group to ascertain what proportion of its risky assets can be brought under the government's insurance scheme and at what price. Royal Bank of Scotland said last week it would place assets worth 325 billion pounds into the scheme.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 10:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fed Eliminates Compensation Limits for TALF Program
By Scott Lanman, Bloomberg News

The Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury eliminated executive-compensation limits for companies that bundle loans accepted under a new $1 trillion program, indicating the rules may have hampered efforts to start the plan.

The rules won't apply to the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility out of "desire to encourage market participants to stimulate credit formation and utilize the facility," the New York Fed said in a document on its Web site today.

The Treasury and Fed also today reiterated that they will seek legislation to give the Fed "additional tools" to manage its balance sheet. The effort stems from concern that taking on longer-term assets will make it more difficult for the central bank to raise interest rates once the economy recovers.

Possible legislation may allow the Fed to issue its own debt or let the Treasury issue bills for Fed use that are exempt from the federal debt ceiling, JPMorgan Chase & Co. economist Michael Feroli said.

Hat tip gjohnsit.

by Magnifico on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 12:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
givne that the ECB is specifically forbidden fro mbuying government bonds, expect this to be spinned as the US "dynamically and creatively" looks for solutions to the crisis, while Europe is sticking rigidly to outdated rules and not doing what it takes to solve it (pace Krugman, as quoted various times by Migeru).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 05:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WTF, the ECB cannot do "quantitative easing", by statute?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 05:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Democrats reach deal on mortgage relief bill  AP

WASHINGTON - House Democrats, under pressure from a group of moderates in their ranks and the banking lobby, agreed Tuesday to narrow legislation that gives bankruptcy judges the power to force lenders to rewrite mortgages for debt-strapped homeowners. The compromise legislation was expected to come to a vote in the House as early as Thursday.

Under the terms of the agreement, judges would have to consider whether a homeowner had been offered a reasonable deal by the bank to rework his or her home loan before deciding whether to take judicial action to lower the interest rate or principal.

-Skip-

Mortgage lenders who mounted a costly and successful effort last year to kill the measure, which they call the "cramdown," have been lobbying intensely to restrict the bill. They argued that mortgage adjustments made in bankruptcy would raise mortgage interest rates for all consumers and create a wave of bankruptcy claims.

Their opposition helped derail the legislation last week, even after leading Democrats had agreed to restrict it to people who had tried other means of reworking their mortgages and those who couldn't afford their home loans.

The industry has "been giving it everything they've got," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., an architect of the legislation. "They still have remarkable influence."  Still, Miller and some other backers of the idea said they support the new plan.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 01:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - AIG still facing huge credit losses

The difficulties the authorities face in dealing with AIG spilled into the open on Tuesday as Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, expressed anger with the company in an appearance before the Senate budget committee.

"If there is a single episode in this entire 18 months that has made me more angry, I can't think of one other than AIG," he said[, stamping his feet impotently]. "There was no oversight of the financial products division. This was a hedge fund basically that was attached to a large and stable insurance company."

The crisis at AIG stemmed from its activities in the market for credit default swaps - derivatives that function as debt insurance. AIG was particularly active in providing guarantees for securities known as collateralised debt obligations, bonds backed by debts such as subprime mortgages.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:33:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From The Ripley's Panopticon | Denniger | 3 March 2009

But what Bernanke didn't say is that he did have the ability to regulate the swap writing and buying as it applied to the creation of systemic risk because he has primary regulatory authority over the banks on the other side of the trades.

That is, while he could not have prohibited AIG from writing the swaps, he absolutely could have prevented the banks from either buying or holding them.

That was within his power and authority - yet he did not exercise that authority.

The man's got a point.

Mr Obama ought summarily fire Mr Bernanke, and let the mob rule on his replacement in the court of public opinion. Bwah!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 11:13:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:28:01 PM EST
The End of Arrogance: Obama Brings Toughness and Modesty to Foreign Policy - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Plagued by recession, the world's sole remaining superpower is reinstating realpolitik and seeking to improve relations with other countries, especially rivals China and Russia. But Washington still plans to take a tough approach toward the Taliban and al-Qaida, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: The president realizes that the world does not consist of good and evil, but of countries with varying interests and values. If there is one thing that the key players in Democratic and Republican foreign policy have in common, it is the rings under the eyes of the respective secretaries of state. Madeleine Albright wore them like badges of honor, and so did Condoleezza Rice. With the transfer of the State Department's official Air Force Boeing 757, the rings are now Hillary Clinton's.

After only a month in office, Clinton already looks exhausted. She has just returned from Japan and China, and now she is on her way to the Geneva to meet with the Russian foreign minister. But her current trip takes her to the Middle East first, where, as she says flatly, "I'm looking for results."

Before her departure from Washington, Clinton is scheduled to give a talk on human rights. The US government's annual report on human rights, all 100 pages of its, is sitting on her desk. It contains a plethora of demands, wishes and potential appeals to the Chinese and Russians, and to the Pakistanis, Somalis, Syrians and a whole list of the world's human rights rogues.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:30:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown takes gift to Obama and hopes for finance pact - World Politics, World - The Independent
Pen holder made of same wood as President's desk symbolises 'historic ties'

Gordon Brown will attempt to win the backing of the world's most powerful man today for his blueprint to rescue the global economy from the worst recession for half a century.

Mr Brown arrived in Washington early today for talks with Barack Obama, determined to renew the "special relationship" between Britain and the US. He brought with him a gift of a pen holder, carved from the timbers of HMS Gannet, built in Chatham shipyards 130 years ago. Timber from its sister vessel, HMS Resolute, was used in the Oval Office desk. Downing Street said the gift was designed to symbolise "historic ties" between the two nations.

Before he left for the US, Mr Brown said of Mr Obama: "You cannot but be impressed by his demeanour, his determination, not just his fluency but his sympathy for the causes he represents. The impression he has given of America to the world is transformative, because he is a black man who has won the presidency, who is living in the White House that was built by slaves."

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:32:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama cancels press conference with Gordon Brown "because of snow" :: Toby Harnden

Strange goings on surrounding the programme for the first day of Gordon Brown's visit to Washington.

No sooner had the Prime Minister's plane touched down at Andrews Air Force on Monday evening when word was passed to travelling Westminster correspondents that the press conference they'd been told to expect had been called off "because of snow".

Hours earlier, at around 4pm EST on Monday, a British official had told me that there would be a "press conference" after the PM and President Barack Obama had met in the Oval Office and before they had their working lunch in the Old Family Dining Room. Exact timings, however, were vague.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama reaffirms belief in the special relationship with Britain - Telegraph
Barack Obama last night reaffirmed his belief in the special relationship between Britain and America, highlighting his own mother's British heritage and pledging that the bond would "only get stronger" during his presidency.

Sitting informally alongside Gordon Brown in the Oval Office, the US President described Britain as one of America's "closest and strongest allies" and said the link between the countries "will not break."

Mr Obama said that he and the Prime Minister had a shared set of values and a "shared world view".

"I would like to think that our relationship is good and I am sure he won't dispute that," Mr Obama added.

Asked how they got on as individuals, the President said they both had young families and could talk to each other about their "spectacular wives and wonderful children".

Despite suggestions that the decision not to hold a formal press conference following their private talks yesterday was a snub to Mr Brown, Mr Obama spoke warmly of his British counterpart and said their personal relationship was "terrific".

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:52:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Raúl Castro clears out Fidel's cabinet and installs his own - Telegraph
Cuban President Raúl Castro has replaced several members of his cabinet, putting his own stamp on government in Havana one year after assuming power from his older brother Fidel.

In a sign that he is emerging from the shadow of former president and revolutionary icon, Castro, 77, fired Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque and cabinet chief Carlos Lage, two long-time lieutenants under the elder Castro.

In making his first major cabinet shuffle since assuming power one year ago, the Cuban leader cited the need for greater efficiency and a consolidation of the country's unwieldy democracy, saying that the shake-up would lead to "a more compact and functional structure."

The move most notably replaces Perez Roque, Havana's chief diplomat since May 1999 with a by a vice minister, Bruno Rodriguez.

Lage, meanwhile, retains his post as one of Cuba's vice presidents of the Council of State, but has been replaced by General Jose Amado Ricardo Guerra as cabinet chief.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"the country's unwieldy democracy"?

It's a good thing the democracy is not as "unwiedly" in Cuba's fellow "democracy", North Korea.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 06:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cash is not enough to rebuild Gaza, warn Palestinians - Telegraph
Billions of dollars in aid to rebuild Gaza will be wasted unless there is a peace deal which stops it being attacked by Israel, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said.

The president told international donors that money was "insufficient" without a political solution.

He said: "We are all conscious that the reconstruction and development efforts will remain insufficient, powerless and threatened in the absence of a political settlement."

He spoke as representatives of donor countries gathered in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to pledge their assistance in reconstruction following the recent Israeli operations.

Among the 45 foreign ministers attending was Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, who told the group that the American aid being pledged - almost $1 billion - was part of US policy to push aggressively for a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Clinton voices support for Israel

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has said that Washington is committed to Israel's security and demanded an end to Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

The former first lady made the remarks as she met Israeli leaders on Tuesday as part of her first visit to the Middle East since joining the US administration.

"It is important that the United States always underscores our unshakeable, durable and fundamental support for the state of Israel," she said after holding talks with Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, on Tuesday.

However, she also set Washington on course for a possible disagreement with Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister-designate, who has spoken of Palestinian self-government but avoided conceding a two-state solution.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:50:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Hunt for Lahore cricket attackers

Pakistani police are hunting gunmen who attacked a convoy carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team in the city of Lahore.

The masked men opened fire, killing six policemen escorting the Sri Lankans and a driver. Seven players and an assistant coach were wounded.

The team later flew back to Sri Lanka. There is no word on the identities or motives of the gunmen, who escaped.

However officials said the incident bore similarities to deadly attacks in Mumbai in India last November.

by Sassafras on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 06:57:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
William Dalrymple in The Independent: Pakistan: A country staring disaster in the face

In just over a year, Asif Ali Zardari's inept government has effectively lost control of much of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to the Taliban's Pakistani counterparts, a loose confederation of nationalists, Islamists and angry Pashtun tribesmen under the nominal command of Baitullah Mehsud. Yesterday's ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which killed six policemen and injured seven players and officials, combined with the defeat of the Pakistani army in Swat and the subsequent capitulation to the Taliban there, and the recent kidnapping of John Solecki, head of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Quetta, during an attack that killed his driver, underscores the seriousness of the situation.



You're clearly a dangerous pinko commie pragmatist.
by Vagulus on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 08:23:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: China plans 59 reservoirs to collect meltwater from its shrinking glaciers

China is planning to build 59 reservoirs to collect water from its shrinking glaciers as the cost of climate change hits home in the world's most populous country.

The far western province of Xinjiang, home to many of the planet's highest peaks and widest ice fields, will carry out the 10-year engineering project, which aims to catch and store glacier run-off that might otherwise trickle away into the desert.

Behind the measure is a desire to adjust seasonal water levels and address longer-term concerns that downstream city residents will run out of drinking supplies once the glaciers in the Tian, Kunlun and Altai mountains disappear.

by Sassafras on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 07:06:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that the manufacture of concrete is one of the most carbon polluting industries going, does anyone else see the irony of building dams to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

This can only be a temporary measure. China is seriously seriously screwed long term unless they can stop the climatic erosion of the tibetan glaciers.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:51:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:28:23 PM EST
Libation Labor Dispute: Bavarians Worried about Beer Supply - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

For Bavarians, the fasting period of Lent is a favorite time to drink beer. This year, though, suds lovers may be out of luck, with brewery employees threatening to go on strike. It's just one of many such labor disputes brewing in Germany.

Fasting during Lent is, of course, relative. The Catholic faithful may forego meat for the 40 days before Easter, but there are plenty of other ways to keep one's calorie count up.

Beer, for example. Indeed, many in Bavaria actually look forward to Lent. White sausage and pork roast are -- for the faithful, at least -- taboo, but the season is made tolerable by a beverage known as "Starkbier," a slightly stronger and much more nourishing beer brewed for just a few weeks each spring.

This year, though, may be an exception. Bavarian beer brewers this week have staged warning strikes in a number of the southern state's leading breweries, including Augustiner, Spaten, Franziskaner and Löwenbräu. And if the breweries don't make concessions to union demands, brewery workers are threatening to walk out indefinitely. Should that happen, Bavarian beer supplies could dry up.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:31:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pay them, pay them. Whatever it takes.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:52:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pay them in beer!

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thou Shalt Not Text until Easter, Italians told -Times Online

You may already be giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent, but the Roman Catholic Church in Italy has come up with an even more challenging act of abstinence and self denial: stop all that texting.

The appeal to Italians not only to stop sending SMS messages but also to forswear Facebook, computer games and iPhones on Fridays during Lent - and on other days if possible - partly stems from Pope Benedict XVI's recent warning to the young not to substitute "virtual friendship" for human relationships.

The "stop texting for Lent" campaign began in Modena, Bari and Pesaro but has now spread to other parts of Italy. Italians send the highest number of texts in Europe after Britain, with the average mobile phone user sending at least 50 SMSs a month.

Monsignor Benito Cocchi, the Archbishop of Modena, said renouncing SMS messages was a way of helping to tackle the roots of a Third World conflict as well as an act of self-denial.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They do have a point
by paving on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 04:01:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
History Buried in the Rubble: Cologne Archive Building Collapses - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The building housing Cologne's municipal archive collapsed on Tuesday, bringing parts of some surrounding structures down with it. At least two people are missing. Some of the documents housed in the archive date back to the year 922.

First they heard loud creaking noises. Then, workers in the Cologne city archive building were ordered to get out as quickly as they could. Shortly afterwards, the entire structure collapsed, bringing down parts of neighboring buildings along with it.

The disaster on early Tuesday afternoon took place right in the heart of the city. Eyewitnesses reported huge clouds of dust as the rubble from the building completely covered the street. "The entire intersection was covered in a dark fog," Paraskevi Oustampasiadi, a local shopkeeper, told the German news agency DPA. "It looked like Sept. 11."

Some 200 fire fighters rushed to the scene. It was unclear whether anyone had lost their lives in the collapse. A police spokesman told SPIEGEL ONLINE that a married couple, who was said to have been in a neighboring building which partially collapsed, is missing. Police dogs are currently searching the rubble.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:47:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's amazing more people weren't killed.
by Maryb2004 on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 06:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Until the accident, this was the largest and oldest municipal archive north of the Alps. In addition to a dating from the middle ages, it also housed the papers of Jacques Offenbach and Heinrich Böll.

Employees had been complaining of cracking for months for months. In January, the building was inspected by structural engineers; the verdict: Nothing to see here, move along...

In 2004, a church steeple just 200 m down the street leaned over 77 cm.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 03:34:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
In January, the building was inspected by structural engineers; the verdict: Nothing to see here, move along...
Is this going to be Germany's "I-35 bridge"?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 03:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. Good question.

The fact is that the building was approaching the end of its design life, and had not been maintained for years. Also, German municipalities and particularly big cities have been strapped for years due to declines in the business tax revenues, which is their only significant source of income. So yeah, engineering errors plus neglect.

On the other hand, construction new public infrastructure was the proximate cause, so I don't think the decay connotation will resonate as it did with the I-35 bridge.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Seismic Risk Management in Bucharest by pereulok on January 26, 2009
The red spot is not shown at the main façade, but in the right lateral, Strada Elie Radu, maybe to hide the shame. From my point of view, it's not a shame to be in a pretty building that happened to be built in 1910 and have some problems to be resolved, but to have been audited 10-15 years ago, with no consolidation works having been performed yet. It is difficult to trust an institution managing the local anti-seismic rehabilitation programme that has been, so far, incapable to rehabilitate its own headquarters.


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 05:04:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Photos (WDR)

In the afternoon the Municipal Archives building in Cologne collapsed. Fortunately ominous cracking in the building motivated most of the people in the building to flee it in time (three are still missed, however).

The building has apparently been sucked into the tunnel for a new subway which is currently being built –
now one is pouring concrete into the hole to prevent the rubble from sinking further.

Now at least the many Turkish inhabitants of Cologne can feel more at home ;-)

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 04:34:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Space rock makes close approach

An asteroid which may be as big as a ten-storey building has passed close by the Earth, astronomers say.

The object, known as 2009 DD45, thought to be 21-47m (68-152ft) across, raced by our planet at 1344 GMT on Monday.

The gap was just 72,000 km (44,750 miles); a fifth of the distance between our planet and the Moon.

It is in the same size range as a rock which exploded over Siberia in 1908 with the force of 1,000 atomic bombs.

by Sassafras on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 07:00:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Pink dolphin appears in US lake - Telegraph

Pinky the rare albino dolphin has been spotted in Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana, USA Photo: CATERS NEWS

Charter boat captain Erik Rue, 42, photographed the animal, which is actually an albino, when he began studying it after the mammal first surfaced in Lake Calcasieu, an inland saltwater estuary, north of the Gulf of Mexico in southwestern USA.

Capt Rue originally saw the dolphin, which also has reddish eyes, swimming with a pod of four other dolphins, with one appearing to be its mother which never left its side.

He said: "I just happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a little lighter.

"It was absolutely stunningly pink.

"I had never seen anything like it. It's the same color throughout the whole body and it looks like it just came out of a paint booth.

"The dolphin appears to be healthy and normal other than its coloration, which is quite beautiful and stunningly pink.

Pink dolphin appears in US lake - Telegraph
Pinky the rare albino dolphin has been spotted in Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana, USA Photo: CATERS NEWS

Charter boat captain Erik Rue, 42, photographed the animal, which is actually an albino, when he began studying it after the mammal first surfaced in Lake Calcasieu, an inland saltwater estuary, north of the Gulf of Mexico in southwestern USA.

Capt Rue originally saw the dolphin, which also has reddish eyes, swimming with a pod of four other dolphins, with one appearing to be its mother which never left its side.

He said: "I just happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a little lighter.

"It was absolutely stunningly pink.

"I had never seen anything like it. It's the same color throughout the whole body and it looks like it just came out of a paint booth.

"The dolphin appears to be healthy and normal other than its coloration, which is quite beautiful and stunningly pink.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 08:53:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Oops.]

Evidence Appears To Show How And Where Brain's Frontal Lobe Works

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2009) -- A Brown University study of stroke victims has produced evidence that the frontal lobe of the human brain controls decision-making along a continuum from abstract to concrete, from front to back.

Abstract actions can be controlled at an abstract level, such as deciding to make a sandwich, or at more concrete and specific levels, such as choosing a sequence of movements that make the sandwich.

The scientific data supports preexisting theories that abstract decisions about action take place in the front of the frontal lobe, the back portion controls the capacity for concrete decisions, and the progression from front to back forms a gradient from abstract to concrete.

The Brown researchers are among the first to show that specific areas of the frontal cortex are needed for different levels of abstract decision.

The finding, to be detailed March 1 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, represents a huge leap in comprehending how the brain supports higher level cognition and intelligent behavior. It could lead to advances in everything from the treatment of strokes to understanding how humans develop thought. Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley also participated in the study.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:46:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which part does recursive meta?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 07:55:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:28:41 PM EST
Melting pot of melodrama enthralls French nightly - International Herald Tribune

MARSEILLE, France: After years of struggling and study and success in several other cultural disciplines, the French have finally mastered the art of the television soap opera.

On a lavish set, with an intricate town square built around a café bar in Marseille, French public television churns out the most popular program on the screen -- a nightly soap, "Plus Belle la Vie," that is watched by nearly a fifth of the French population. Some 13 million people tune in at least once a week to follow the convoluted fates of various families in the multicultural confusion of Marseille, France's second largest city.

There is the Marci family, which owns the Bar du Mistral; the Nassri family from Algeria; the Torres family from Spain; the Lesermans, whose matriarch survived the Holocaust and is a Communist; the wealthy Frémonts with their shady business dealings and lesbian daughter; the Chaumette family, transplanted from Paris; the Estèves, with their son, who divorced, has a daughter and loves a man; and the Castellis, who, as the show's Web site says, are "living to forget the past."

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:37:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nicolas Sarkozy aide mocks Gordon Brown - Telegraph

Apart from the potential offence they could cause Mr Brown, the remarks are likely to embarrass Mr Sarkozy, who has sought to mend fences with the Prime Minister after recently trumpeting that his bid to kick start the UK economy by lowering VAT was "a mistake".

The French president is said to be piqued at Mr Brown becoming the first European leader to meet the new US President, Barack Obama, despite Mr Sarkozy's best efforts to get there first.

He tried unsuccessfully to meet Mr Obama before he was sworn in after the G20 summit in Washington last November - even stationing a French military plane on 24-hour standby nearby to whisk him to Chicago should the then US president-elect change his mind.

He had also hoped Mr Obama would agree to a meeting before attending the G20 summit in London on April 2, reportedly to no avail.

While Mr Brown is in Washington to bolster Britain's relations with the US, Mr Sarkozy has had to make do with meeting Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, at an international aid donor conference for Gaza in Egypt.

by Fran on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:

The French president is said to be piqued at Mr Brown becoming the first European leader to meet the new US President, Barack Obama, despite Mr Sarkozy's best efforts to get there first.

He tried unsuccessfully to meet Mr Obama before he was sworn in after the G20 summit in Washington last November - even stationing a French military plane on 24-hour standby nearby to whisk him to Chicago should the then US president-elect change his mind.

Sounds like somebody is awfully needy here.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Reasons for despair: this is a victory? by Colman on February 23rd, 2009.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 04:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who else can see a wrong decision coming somewhere that screws up something serious, just to snub Brown because he got there first.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 06:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are these the kind of people we want in charge of steering us away from Depression?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 06:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Until Jerome appealed to ETians not to ignore the Salon, that's exactly what I did. Sorry, Fran. My loss.

I did one news roundup diary once and toyed with the notion of making it a regular thing. I didn't. I quickly realized that it was more work than I'd bargained for - enormously time consuming. And here you are, doing a far better job of it than I ever could have. I hope you have help producing this.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 04:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She does it on her own. Fran's a marvel and we're blessed to have her.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 06:04:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to the daily drops emailed me from three different news organizations, I take a glance at 15 other online newspapers. I go through all these just about everyday. My quickest scan of all these took me about 90 minutes. That's with no dawdling, nothing to follow up on. If I had to use some editorial judgement and dig deeper than just the top stories in order to come up with a daily diary entry, I could effectively give up on having a real life.

Somebody take this woman out for a drink or a movie or something! Get out while you can!

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 06:42:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I do have a live outside of ET. But if you should be in my neighborhood some of these days, I wouldn't mind having a drink with you. :-D
by Fran on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 08:31:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there's one thing that turns my stomach, reliably, it's fMRI  + neocon game theory = peer-reviewed publication. C'mon. This is a funny incidental critique of the brain/pudenda "disconnect" baffling lab prisoners.

Bad brain science: Boobs caused subprime crisis

The article which inspired this train of commentary is `Sex and financial risk linked in brain,' by Seth Borenstein, who probably needs some sort of award for this piece. I'll let you decide:

A new brain-scan study may help explain what's going on in the minds of financial titans when they take risky monetary gambles -- sex. When young men were shown erotic pictures, they were more likely to make a larger financial gamble than if they were shown a picture of something scary, such a snake, or something neutral, such as a stapler, university researchers reported. The arousing pictures lit up the same part of the brain that lights up when financial risks are taken.

"You have a need in an evolutionary sense for both money and women. They trigger the same brain area," said Camelia Kuhnen, a Northwestern University finance professor who conducted the study with a Stanford University psychologist.

I am not alone.

(I'm deleting some of the paragraph returns in these quotes. Like with many internet news sources, the authors or editors seem to think that a paragraph should ideally be two sentences. It just makes everything hard to read onscreen in our blog, I think. If your attention span is two sentences, reading Neuroanthropology is gonna be frustrating.)

BWAHAHAHAHA...

The abstract from NeuroReport of the original article is far more interesting, in my opinion, than the shonky (that's Australian for `crap-tastic') science reporting. The abstract:

In functional magnetic resonance imaging research, nucleus accumbens (NAcc) activation spontaneously increases before financial risk taking. As anticipation of diverse rewards can increase NAcc activation, even incidental reward cues may influence financial risk taking. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we predicted and found that anticipation of viewing rewarding stimuli (erotic pictures for 15 heterosexual men) increased financial risk taking, and that this effect was partially mediated by increases in NAcc activation. These results are consistent with the notion that incidental reward cues influence financial risk taking by altering anticipatory affect, and so identify a neuropsychological mechanism that may underlie effective emotional appeals in financial, marketing, and political domains.

Wait! Where's the stuff on evolution, and the `financial titans' thinking about naked women when they drove the financial system off road into tarpits? That's right, the study does NOT show that men are thinking about sex when they take financial risks. I don't know who came up with this interpretation, but it's clear that Kuhnen, the finance professor on the study, thinks that we `have a need in an evolutionary sense' for both money and sex (of course, they only studied 15 university-aged men). So is this how we got from the experiment to an `evolutionary need' to a full-blown evolutionary explanation for this?

In fact, this article undermines a key point in neoclassical economic theories of the actor; if an actor were purely `rational,' he (or she) would not be affected on decisions to gamble by irrelevant stimulation like soft porn pictures. That is, the risks and potential rewards of the game of chance are the same with or without the erotic pictures, so the behavioral differences in the experiment are `non-rational' in the microeconomic sense....

I AM NOT ALONE!!

So why discuss this shoddy piece of science writing? Well, when I'm not hatin' on twin studies, I'm hatin' on evolutionary psychology.

etc etc <wipes tears>

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 11:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MarketTrustee:
shoddy piece of science writing

These days, I'm surprised when journalists can even spell "causation" and "correlation". We certainly can't expect them to tell the difference.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 03:45:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the answer is to paper the walls of trading and board rooms across the planet with pictures of staplers.

Solved.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 07:58:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Democrats are twisting the knife with a handy Rush Limbaugh Apology Generator

Hilarious !!

h/t dKos - David Plouffe

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 05:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tomorrow I should be in Kolkata. Goodbye, Thailand! My sister asked whether Thailand looking so fabulous. I said yes, of course.
by FarEasterner on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 08:42:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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