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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 29 March

by Fran Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:53:12 PM EST

On this date in history:

1902 - Marcel Aymé, a French novelist, children's writer , humour writer and also a movie and theater playwright, was born.

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:54:08 PM EST
EurActiv.com - Commissioner advertises Russian oil firm | EU - European Information on Energy Supply
In an attempt to convince a Russian oil firm executive that the EU is not trying to limit his country's capital investment in the Union, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in fact ended up advertising that firm at a public event held in Brussels yesterday (26 March).

Speaking at the European Business Summit, Piebalgs surprisingly complimented his fellow panelist, Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov, saying that the many Lukoil filling stations in Brussels sell the cheapest petrol.

"If I go now with my car, I will go to the Lukoil petrol station, because it's the best price in Brussels. So it's not true that we are hampering Russian investment," Piebalgs said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:05:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Union leader calls for better flexicurity terms | Policies | Business | Labour | European Voice
John Monks, of ETUC, says governments need to look at the implications of people changing jobs.

The head of the European trade union movement said today (27 March) that employers and governments must offer better terms to make flexible working patterns more attractive.

John Monks, general secretary of the European trade union confederation, ETUC, speaking in a debate on job security at the European Business Summit in Brussels, said: "If people are to be encouraged into more flexible work the terms on offer have to be more generous." 

He said that governments needed to look at the income implications of changing jobs, saying that new jobs in supermarkets did not pay as well as old jobs in shipyards and factories. "Greater equality is at heart of making flexicurity a success," he said. 

Monks said that flexicurity had worked in Denmark because the government had addressed the income effect with compensation from the public purse.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Berlusconi creates rightist bloc
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has created a powerful new centre-right party called People of Freedom.

The three-day founding congress of the bloc formally fuses Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia with the "post-Fascist" National Alliance of Gianfranco Fini.

The coalition unites two of the three main Italian groups on the right.

Mr Fini used to be politically close to the ideology of Italy's wartime Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

So Italy moves to being a two-party state.  Still, at least they have some proportional representation in their system.

by IdiotSavant on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 09:32:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has created a powerful new centre-right party called People of Freedom.

George Orwell, 1984 ... just call yourself ANYTHING, even if it's the antithesis of what you are about, and there are enough stupid people who believe.  LOL

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 07:22:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: MI5 and MI6 admit fears over 15 new torture cases
Human rights campaigners pressed for an independent judicial inquiry yesterday after the British security services revealed there might be up to 15 more cases in which they could be complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects.

MI5 and MI6 carried out a review of files after the launch of an unprecedented police investigation into claims by the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed that British intelligence services knew he was being tortured.

The review has uncovered 15 cases in which the intelligence services carried out interrogations of suspects in US custody. Most of the cases relate to a period between 2002 and 2004 at American facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

by IdiotSavant on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 09:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:54:19 PM EST
EurActiv.com - Crisis 'not helping' Eurosceptics gain consensus | EU - European Information on EU Elections 09
The global economic crisis, which has severely hit Central and Eastern Europe, does not appear to have strengthened the positions of various extremist and Eurosceptic political groups there, shows a round-up by EurActiv's network in the region.

With just ten weeks to go until the EU elections, and despite numerous problems caused by the economic recession and its associated capital outflow, the political landscape in Central and Eastern European countries depicts a stagnant if not downward trend in support for the region's extreme-right, extreme-left, nationalist and anti-European forces.

After five years of EU membership, support for Eurosceptics in Poland - the biggest EU country in Central and Eastern Europe - has noticeably fallen. In Romania, the region's second-largest country, recent elections kept the extremists out of the national parliament  (EurActiv 15/12/08).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:57:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv.com - Face-off between Italians, Poles over Parliament presidency | EU - European Information on EU Elections 09
Banking on remaining the largest group in the EU assembly after the June elections, the centre-right EPP-ED group is already delving into its pool of delegates to select the appropriate candidate to nominate for the Parliament presidency: will it be Poland's Jerzy Buzek or Italy's Mario Mauro?

Jerzy Buzek, a former Polish prime minister (1997-2001), has been unofficially lined up for almost a year as the EPP-ED's candidate for the next president of the European Parliament (EurActiv 25/04/08). But EPP-ED Group President Joseph Daul recently announced a second candidate.

"We have two candidates: Mario Mauro, who has been designated by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Jerzy Buzek, who was nominated by Polish PM Donald Tusk," said Daul.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi in bid to torpedo Parliament presidency deal | Policies | EU governance | Parliament | European Voice
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, has blown apart a deal between the two biggest parties in the European Parliament over sharing the presidency of the assembly for the next five years.

His intervention has put in doubt the assumption that the presidency would go next to an MEP from one of the countries that joined the European Union in 2004.

The centre-right European People's Party-European Democrats (EPP-ED) and the Party of European Socialists (PES) had privately agreed that over the Parliament's next five-year mandate the presidency would be shared. Jerzy Buzek, a former prime minister of Poland and an EPP-ED MEP, would be president for two-and-a-half years, followed by Martin Schulz, a German Socialist MEP who is currently leader of the Socialist group in the Parliament.

But Berlusconi has thrown the deal into confusion, announcing in a letter sent to national delegations of the EPP-ED group that Mario Mauro, an MEP since 1999, is his candidate for the presidency of the Parliament.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi's gambit would best be blocked by the rest of Europe, both left and right. Does the European conservative block wish to continue to harbour an openly fascist and racist party with strong and notorious anti-democratic intentions?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 06:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's too late for the EU to censor Berlusconi. He has gone to far greater lengths than the Austrian government ever did when they had their membership rights suspended.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 07:01:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Politics | Tory donor gives £100,000 to UKIP

A multi-millionaire Conservative party donor has given £100,000 to UKIP, after becoming disillusioned with David Cameron's policies on Europe.

Spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler said he was giving the money to UKIP in protest at the Tories' reluctance to talk about the EU.

Mr Wheeler, an outspoken Euro-sceptic, gave £5m to the Conservatives in 2001.

He said he would vote UKIP in European elections in June, but intended to remain a member of the Tory party.

"The European Union is doing so much damage to our economy and our way of life that I can no longer vote Conservative at the European elections," Mr Wheeler told the News of the World newspaper.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 08:24:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:54:50 PM EST
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Afghan leader welcomes US review

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a US review of strategy in the region - announced by President Obama on Friday - was "better than we were expecting".

Mr Karzai praised the review's focus on countering militant activity in Pakistan, and the US offer to Iran of a role in seeking a political solution.

Mr Obama described the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan as "perilous".

US officials later spoke of alleged links between Pakistan's military intelligence, the ISI, and militants.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Associated Press: Clinton: diplomacy key to new Afghan strategy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan relies heavily on civilian efforts, and she is calling for all U.S. diplomats to contribute.

In a cable to U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, Clinton says the success of President Barack Obama's plan depends on the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, whose ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan are in line for boosts.

"Whether this strategy succeeds or not depends in large part on all of us," she said in the cable to employees of the two agencies late Friday after Obama announced the results of his administration's review of policy for the region.

The plan does have a significant military component and calls for sending thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan. But Clinton noted that the most recommendations fall under the purview of the State Department and the aid agency.

"The major shift in this strategy is to emphasize our diplomatic and civilian efforts to achieve our objectives," she wrote in the cable, obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
POLITICS-US: : Some Strategists Cast Doubt on Afghan War Rationale
WASHINGTON, Mar 28 (IPS) - The argument for deeper U.S. military commitment to the Afghan War invoked by President Barack Obama in his first major policy statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan Friday - that al Qaeda must be denied a safe haven in Afghanistan - has been not been subjected to public debate in Washington.

A few influential strategists here have been arguing, however, that this official rationale misstates the al Qaeda problem and ignores the serious risk that an escalating U.S. war poses to Pakistan.

Those strategists doubt that al Qaeda would seek to move into Afghanistan as long as they are ensconced in Pakistan and argue that escalating U.S. drone airstrikes or Special Operations raids on Taliban targets in Pakistan will actually strengthen radical jihadi groups in the country and weaken the Pakistani government's ability to resist them.

The first military strategist to go on record with such a dissenting view on Afghanistan and Pakistan was Col. T. X. Hammes, a retired Marine officer and author of the 2004 book "The Sling and the Stone", which argued that the U.S. military faces a new type of warfare which it would continue to lose if it did not radically reorient its thinking. He became more widely known as one of the first military officers to call in September 2006 for Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation over failures in Iraq.

Col. Hammes dissected the rationale for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan in an article last September on the website of the "Small Wars Journal", which specialises in counterinsurgency issues. He questioned the argument that Afghanistan had to be stabilised in order to deny al Qaeda a terrorist base there, because, "Unfortunately, al Qaeda has moved its forces and its bases into Pakistan."

Hammes suggested that the Afghan War might actually undermine the tenuous stability of a Pakistani regime, thus making the al Qaeda threat far more serious. He complained that "neither candidate has even commented on how our actions [in Afghanistan] may be feeding Pakistan's instability."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The article on small Wars Journal is here.

It doesn't say anything surprising, but was pretty stark for sept 2008

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 07:23:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AFP: Pakistan troops kill 26 militants in border zone

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) -- Pakistani security forces killed 26 militants on Saturday during an operation in a restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan, a paramilitary unit said.

Security officials said helicopter gunships went into action in Mohmand, one of seven lawless tribal districts in northwest Pakistan where Taliban militants are active and paramilitary troops have been operating for months.

"Twenty-six militants were killed during a successful action by security forces in Sapri area of Mohmand," the Frontier Corps said.

"Frontier Corps troops have also secured the area around Sapri," it added in a statement, giving no further details.

Sapri surrounds Yaka Ghund, the main town of Mohmand.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
POLITICS-US: Neo-Con Ideologues Launch New Foreign Policy Group
WASHINGTON, Mar 25 (IPS) - A newly-formed and still obscure neo-conservative foreign policy organisation is giving some observers flashbacks to the 1990s, when its predecessor staked out the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy that came to fruition under the George W. Bush administration.

The blandly-named Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) - the brainchild of Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, neo-conservative foreign policy guru Robert Kagan, and former Bush administration official Dan Senor - has thus far kept a low profile; its only activity to this point has been to sponsor a conference pushing for a U.S. "surge" in Afghanistan.

But some see FPI as a likely successor to Kristol's and Kagan's previous organisation, the now-defunct Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which they launched in 1997 and which became best known for leading the public campaign to oust former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein both before and after the Sep. 11 attacks.

PNAC's charter members included many figures who later held top positions under Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, and his top deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

FPI was founded earlier this year, but few details are available about the group, which has so far attracted no media attention. The organisation's website lists Kagan, Kristol, and Senor, who came to prominence as a spokesman for the occupation authorities in Iraq, as the three members of its board of directors.

Two of FPI's three staffers, policy director Jamie Fly and Christian Whiton, have come directly from foreign policy posts in the Bush administration, while the third, Rachel Hoff, last worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Contacted by IPS at the group's office, Fly referred all questions to Senor, who did not return the call.

The organisation's mission statement argues that the "United States remains the world's indispensable nation," and warns that "strategic overreach is not the problem and retrenchment is not the solution" to Washington's current financial and strategic woes. It calls for "continued engagement - diplomatic, economic, and military - in the world and rejection of policies that would lead us down the path to isolationism."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US: Freezing Out Hamas No Longer Viable, Say Policy Heavyweights
WASHINGTON, Mar 27 (IPS) - A new report from a New York-based think tank and delivered to U.S. President Barack Obama by a signatory who is also a current adviser recommends that Washington forcefully reinsert itself into the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, calling for "a more pragmatic approach to Hamas."

Even by its title, the report from the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP) alludes to the urgency of U.S. involvement: "A Last Chance for a Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement."

"[T]he next six to 12 months may well represent the last chance for a fair, viable and lasting solution," said the paper. "[I]t is essential that the incoming administration make Arab-Israeli peace a high national security priority from the beginning."

Taking on the frank realism of several of the group's signatories, the statement lays out specific policy recommendations, debunks arguments against robust engagement, and offers calculations of the benefits of action - including allowing for the engagement of the Islamic rejectionist group Hamas by international actors in the peace process.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:03:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
30,000 could be left homeless in North Dakota floods
Thousands of people have been evacuated from rising waters in North Dakota, US authorities said Friday, voicing fears some 30,000 could be left homeless by the state's worst floods in over a century.

As rising waters from the Red River began to breach levees and miles of sandbag dikes, volunteers battled freezing temperatures in a desperate bid to shore up flood barriers around Fargo, North Dakota.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said a levee holding back the swollen river had leaked, and earlier Friday authorities began evacuating around 150 homes from an area southeast of the city's water plant, the second mandatory evacuation zone established in a matter of hours.

An estimated 3,500 people have been evacuated so far. But many fear the worst is yet to come, with river levels expected to rise to a 112-year record of 43 feet (13.1 meters) by 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Saturday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
100 missing, 77 killed by burst Indonesian dam
Rescue workers in Indonesia searched Saturday for 100 people still missing after a dam burst sending a torrent of water crashing into a Jakarta suburb, as the official death toll rose to 77.

Hundreds of buildings collapsed when a wall of water broke through the man-made earthen dam early Friday as residents slept in their beds.

"The impact of the Situ Gintung dam has killed 77 people and injured 179 people. A hundred people are still missing," Health Ministry's Crisis Centre head Rustam Pakaya said through a text message.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NYT: Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials:
A high-level Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation against six former Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, on whether they violated international law by providing a legalistic framework to justify the use of torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.

The case was sent to the prosecutor's office for review by Baltasar Garzón, the crusading investigative judge who ordered the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The official said that it was "highly probable" that the case would go forward and that it could lead to arrest warrants.

More in Spanish at Publico and El Pais.  Would someone care to translate?

by IdiotSavant on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 08:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Obama plans climate change summit
US President Barack Obama has invited figures from the world's 16 major economies to Washington for a meeting on climate change at the end of April.

The event will be the first meeting of what the White House styles "the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate".

It will focus on increasing the supply of clean energy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the White House said.

Rather than being an alternative to the Kyoto process (the Bush actic), this is a supplement to it, in an effort to get a deal at Copenhagen.  Hopefully it'll work and produce a strong outcome.

by IdiotSavant on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 09:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Protesters injured in Madagascar
Thirty-four people have been injured - some from gun shots - at an anti-government rally in Madagascar.

About 15,000 protesters demanding the return of President Marc Ravalomanana, who was ousted last month, clashed with police in the capital, Antananarivo.

Tear gas was used against demonstrators who turned out in record numbers to protest for a sixth consecutive day against new leader Andry Rajoelina

Good to see people resisting a coup, even if it is for a prick.

by IdiotSavant on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 09:37:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Massive Chinese computer espionage network uncovered

A mystery electronic spy network apparently based in China has infiltrated hundreds of computers around the world and stolen files and documents, Canadian researchers have revealed.

After 10 months of study, the researchers concluded that GhostNet had invaded 1,295 computers in 103 countries, but it appeared to be most focused on countries in south Asia and south-east Asia, as well as the Dalai Lama's offices in India, Brussels, London and New York. The network continues to infiltrate dozens of new computers each week.

A Chinese government spokesmen has denied any official involvement.

GhostNet can invade a computer over the internet and penetrate and steal secret files. It can also turn on the cameras and microphones of an infected computer, effectively creating a bug that can monitor what is going inside the room where the computer is. Anyone could be watched and listened to.
by Sassafras on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 05:17:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China eh ? Like the US/UK at least isn't doing something identical.

These things are useful for collecting data, less good for context where data + context = information. In the kingdom of information, context is king. More data doesn't always help, paticularly when you're already swamped.

Now ceebs is the expert on this sort of whizz-bangery, but afaik in terms of accessing individual computers, it really depends how good your protection is. The bigger the company the better the protection these days; most of the time the redundant sockets, which are the backdoor portals most of these spyworks exist to exploit, are closed down. The days are gone where you could drive around and hack a corporate using their wireless network, people just done do that anymore (unless they're too stupid to close up even more obvious security flaws).

That said, governments are notoriously sloppy. But again you have the context problem. Data alone doesn't tell you anything.

So whilst I don't doubt this is going on, I have two reservations;-
i) I doubt its effectiveness in getting information
ii) the very people you most want to hack are the least likely to be hackable.

So I move to the question of why this story is being flown at all. It's obviously a propaganda move against china's reputation in europe, so what's the purpose ? Reserve currency doesn't quite cut it cos they don't need public opinion on that. G20 ? US concerned about deals china is making in europe in advance of Wednesday seems more likely, but it's too late if that was the case. So I don't know. What deals are europe and china going to attempt in the next 3 months that require a certain public support ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 06:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's being flown so the blame for the house of commons virus atteck can be shifted onto those evil chinese, rather than being any blame for the authorities.


it really depends how good your protection is. The bigger the company the better the protection these days;

lets put 2 and 2 together (And maybe make 5)

Leaked memo says Conficker pwns Parliament * The Register

Updated The House of Commons IT systems has reportedly been infected by the infamous Conficker superworm, which has previously infected millions of Windows PCs and affected the operation of hospitals, military and large corporate systems.

Political blog Dizzy Thinks first reported that a memo (below) sent out to parliamentary IT network users on Tuesday night warned that Conficker had disrupted the operation of parliamentary systems


News of the reported infection of parliamentary systems comes at a time when Conficker is back under the spotlight, as security watchers count down to the start of a new update mechanism, due to come online for systems infected by the latest variant of the malware from 1 April. Whether this event will coincide with the activation of the botnet for malign purposes, such as sending spam, remains unclear. Even in the simple act of spreading the worm has caused huge disruption.

The UK's Ministry of Defence reported that that the worm had spread across some of its offices, as well as desktops aboard various Royal Navy warships. Hospitals in Sheffield reported infection of over 800 computers back in February. Other corporate victims of the malware include judicial systems in the city of Houston and the Bundeswehr (German Army).

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 07:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:55:02 PM EST
Over 12,000 march, rally for jobs, justice, climate ahead of G20 summit_English_Xinhua

LONDON, Mar. 28 (Xinhua) -- Over 12,000 people from across Britain and Europe marched through central London on Saturday ahead of the G20 summit, demanding decent jobs and public services for all, an end to global poverty and inequality, as well as a green economy.

    The march organized under the banner of "Put People First" started at 11:00 in the morning, drawing members from over 150 unions, development, faith and environment groups in a unified call for a coordinated fiscal stimulus to create and preserve jobs, international action to ensure that an out-of-control finance sector never threatens the stability of the global economy again and a commitment from world leaders that they will move to a low carbon economy.

    In an unprecedented alliance of supporters of Put People First which range from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to the Salvation Army, Friends of the Earth to Oxfam and Shelter to War on Want, the demonstrators held out slogans such as "Workers for the world united," "Knowledge is power," "Drop the debt," "Clean up global finance," "Smash Capitalism" and "Climate emergency," expressing their anger at the policies that have seen poverty exist alongside huge top banker bonuses.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | Biden appeals to G20 protesters

US Vice-President Joe Biden has called for G20 protesters to give governments a chance to tackle the economic crisis.

At a G20 warm-up meeting in Chile, Mr Biden said heads of state would agree proposals to remedy the crisis at next week's meeting in London.

He was joined by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, host of Thursday's summit, who echoed Mr Biden's comments.

As they spoke, tens of thousands of protesters marched through the UK capital and in German cities.

At a news conference in Vina del Mar, Mr Biden said: "I would hope the protesters give us a chance, listen to what we have to say and hopefully we can make it clear to them that we're going to walk away from this G20 meeting with some concrete proposals."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:11:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, that's nice. We should listen to them and give them a chance. It's not like they've demonstrated their cool grasp of the affair up to now, the policies that failed were theirs and the people who objected were frozen out. Now it's all gone wrong we should hope that those who didn't listne and failed before will suddenly get a clue.

Meanwhile those who said the emporer wore no clothes will be discoustd again.

we gave them the chance. And look where we ended up. But Biden shouldn't worry. There's no chance some DFH will trouble his 18 course dinner with a little dose of truth. They didn't listen then and they're not listening now.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 07:29:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The G20 summit is the meeting of the "Masters of the Universe" (in their eyes), the world is visibly going to hell, they look on the people on the outside as another species, and the best we-the-cattle can expect is more of the same, with things getting worse.

Convince me I'm wrong.  Please!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 08:36:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

if the big-wigs at the G20 actually removed their masks to expose that they WERE aliens from another planet, would real people react any differently? Cattle are, in the end, still cattle.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 09:03:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For G.M. and Chrysler, Aid Tied to Restrictions - NYTimes.com
DETROIT -- The Obama administration will probably extend more short-term aid to General Motors and Chrysler on Monday, but will impose a strict deadline for bondholders and union workers to make concessions that would help the ailing automakers become viable businesses and avert bankruptcy.

President Obama's auto task force is expected to say that despite its recommendation of more federal assistance for G.M. and Chrysler, bankruptcy could still be a possibility for either company, according to people close to the discussions.

The task force was in its final stages Friday of determining how to keep the two Detroit companies afloat. Meanwhile, the automakers were negotiating retiree health care costs with the United Automobile Workers union, and their debt burden with bondholders and lenders.

But both immediate and longer-term help will be tied to completing the restructurings that G.M. and Chrysler began after receiving $17.4 billion in federal loans.

The administration is expected to set a short deadline -- weeks rather than months -- to compel the automakers, their lenders and the U.A.W. to reach agreement.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:10:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hypo Real Estate Has EU5.46 Billion Loss; State Stake (Update2) - Bloomberg.com

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, the bailed out German commercial real-estate lender, said it posted a wider-than-expected loss of 5.46 billion euros ($7.3 billion) last year and that the government will take an 8.7 percent stake as a first step toward nationalization.

Hypo Real Estate had a pretax loss of 5.38 billion euros compared with a pretax profit of 862 million euros in 2007, it said in a statement today. Four analysts in a Bloomberg survey had expected a net loss of 4.5 billion euros.

Germany's bank rescue fund, Soffin, will acquire 20 million shares valued at 60 million euros, the company said in a separate statement. The new stock must be issued at a "minimum prescribed" price of 3 euros a share.

Hypo Real Estate, which lost 93 percent of its market value over the last 12 months, has already been bailed out by the government and financial institutions with credit lines and debt guarantees totalling 102 billion euros. The lender, which almost went bankrupt after its Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc unit failed to get short-term funding in September, said today it expects to remain in a "loss situation" for at least two years.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:25:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Tells Bankers to Show `Restraint' as He Seeks Their Help - Bloomberg.com

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama told chief executive officers from some of the largest U.S. banks to "show some restraint," even as he courted their support for his plans to stabilize the financial markets.

At a White House meeting yesterday, some of the CEOs expressed concern to Obama about government efforts to right the economy, while pledging to help him achieve that goal. Worries included repayment aspects of the federal bank-rescue program and details of initiatives aimed at preventing future banking meltdowns, according to attendees.

The president met at the White House with more than a dozen CEOS from banks including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co., John Mack of Morgan Stanley, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup Inc. and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as he sought backing for his plans and to move beyond furor over bank bailouts and bonuses. Obama said he challenged the executives to prove they understand the public's anger and exercise "restraint."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:31:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
- President Barack Obama told chief executive officers from some of the largest U.S. banks to "show some restraint,"

WTF is he talking about?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 09:18:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We know you're going to steal something,just dont be so obvious about it because everyone is watching at the moment?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 09:22:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 09:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alan Abelson on The Road to Hell  Barron's March 29, 2009

First Alan provides a useful context for and characterization of the recent upward movement in the stock market:

Contributing to the sharp gains in equities have been a tide of short-covering (shorts after a steep decline, like longs after a sharp swing higher, have a tendency to press their luck and overload their positions). And, after two miserable opening months, portfolio managers of funds large and small were feeling the heat of their investors' displeasure. Fearful of withdrawals, desperate for performance and with quarter's end drawing ever nearer, these stalwarts piled into stocks, and typically into severely beaten-down shares which promised the biggest bang for their buck.

On this score, the jolly commentator of First Global notes that the big winners have been "the banks, the brokers, the autos, the insurers, the home-builders...all sectors given up for dead and brought to temporary life on hopeful chatter...Quality has suffered. Junk has rallied." And that dichotomy is true, he says, not only in our fair land but also in the irrational exuberance exhibited in bourses around the world. Alas, this almost universal investor feeding frenzy, he warns, "is looking extremely treacherous. There's every chance you'll be let down badly in this little fling."

Next he provides context and qualifications for some of the unexpectedly positive economic indicators we have been seeing.

IT'S A COMFORT IN THIS wildly spinning world to find some things remain the same. We had feared that with the change in administrations, we'd have to revise our long-standing mistrust of government statistics. But, though it is still early days, the initial evidence gives us reason for hope. The numbers flowing out of Washington seem as dubious as ever, and so are the inferences being extracted from them by more than a smattering of investment strategists, money managers and, it pains us to say, even journalists.

The misleading figures cut across a wide swath of the economy, encompassing housing, manufacturing, employment -- you name it. The leading agent of deception, unintentional or otherwise, has been that old sly villain, seasonal adjustment. As it turns out, the seasons don't need adjustment as much as the adjustors need seasoning.

As Merrill Lynch's David Rosenberg ... points out in a recent commentary, the official keepers of the books have been unusually aggressive in constructing seasonal adjustments for February's economic data.

To illustrate, the seasonal adjustment for new-home sales was the strongest since 1982; for durable-goods orders, the strongest since they were first released in 1992; the retail-sales figures for February were flat (or, as David says, flattering) after such adjustment, but unadjusted fell 3%, the biggest drop on record. He also notes dryly that the 40,000 raw non-seasonally adjusted housing-start total for February "all of a sudden becomes a headline-adjusted annual rate figure of 583,000."

Which makes David think that come the inevitably sharp downward revisions of such distorted data, first-quarter real GDP is likely to suffer a 7.2% drop. Which, together with the 6.3% skid in the fourth quarter of 2008, would be the worst back-to-back contraction in the economy in 50 years.

Suspicions confirmed?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 09:25:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Washington Monthly
I recently heard an interesting anecdote about the 1993 budget fight. While it is probably the most progressive piece of sizable legislation to pass into law in two decades, it was a grueling fight--passing both branches of Congress by a single vote--and it still could have been better. At the signing ceremony, President Clinton found then Representative Bernie Sanders, and told Sanders that he, Sanders, should have made a much bigger public display of how he, Clinton, wasn't giving enough to liberals in the new budget. Such a public display would have provided Clinton more room to maneuver on the left.

The moral of the story is that if no one is criticizing a Democratic administration from the left, then there is no rationale or political space for that Democratic administration to operate on the left. Such criticism is thus even useful to, and desired by, a Democratic administration. If the left stays quiet, it will not be relevant.

Krugman is fulfilling that role, opening what many have called the Overton window, moving the conversation away from the failed conservative ideas of the past.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:02:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ellen Brown has an interesting take on what the Fed are up to.

She is essentially saying that the creation of credit directly by Treasuries and/or Central Banks for direct deployment in the economy (as opposed to routing through banks) is a Good Idea.


The Federal Reserve has the capacity to create money on its books and lend it to whomever it will. This credit may be extended to the public to replace the loans that banks have been unwilling or unable to make; but there is also a danger that we may just see more money being funneled to those same Wall Street banks that got us into this crisis in the first place. The Fed remains a privately-owned "bankers' bank," and it has not asked Congress's permission before engaging in its new policy of massive "quantitative easing."

Those fears may be well founded, but it is also possible that this is a watershed moment of another sort. We may look back upon it as the moment when the Federal Reserve finally adjusted its focus and started to act more like a government central bank, one that advanced "the full faith and credit of the United States" for the benefit of the United States and its citizenry, rather than just for the bankers who have held the government and its central bank hostage for so long. President Obama suggested a move in that direction when he said on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 19:

"[W]e're taking a lot of steps to . . . open up separate credit lines outside of banks for small businesses so that they can get credit -- because there are a lot of small businesses out here who are just barely hanging on. Their credit lines are starting to be cut. We're trying to set up a securitized market for student loans and auto loans outside of the banking system. So there are other ways of getting credit flowing again." [Emphasis added.]

The Fed now appears to be taking on the role of lender of last resort not just for its member banks but for consumers and businesses generally. Provisos and cautions aside, its new "quantitative easing" policy at least has the potential to be harnessed to serve the government and the people it represents; and that is a promising development.

I have been saying as much here for some time - I'm not a great deal more confident in Treasuries than I am in Central Banks though, but could see as a possibility decentralised Treasury Branches - as was the case in Alberta.

ATB Financial - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ATB was created by the first Social Credit ministry under William Aberhart in 1938, after earlier attempts to place Alberta's banks under the provincial government's control were thwarted by the federal government. The first Alberta Treasury Branch was opened in Rocky Mountain House on September 29 of that year. ATB is the most significant surviving remnant of social credit economic policies in Alberta.

Service-providers-formerly-known-as-Banks would manage the process, and a fee would be charged by the government which covered defaults and bank costs. ie it's interest-free , but not cost-free credit - after all it doesn't cost anything to create, does it?

It's not Rocket Science.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 08:22:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:55:29 PM EST
RIGHTS-BENIN: Support for Women Facing Violence
COTONOU, Mar 28 (IPS) - Judges and gynaecologists in Benin have undergone training on the interpretation of forensic evidence in cases of violence against women, as well as in investigative procedures when dealing with rape cases.

The training took place in Cotonou, the country's economic capital, at an international conference held Mar. 16 to 19 as part of the Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative, a U.S. government-funded programme to strengthen awareness of gender-based violence and prosecution of perpetrators in four African countries.

In Benin, this initiative is being carried out by Care International and its Empower project, working to enhance the ability of local and national bodies to address the needs of women affected by violence.

Gender-based violence widespread

A survey conducted in Benin in early 2008 by Care International looked at six categories of gender-based violence, including verbal and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, harmful traditional practices and economic violence.

The survey found that the experience of violence was most common amongst poorly-educated rural women aged 21 and older. Girl children from poor families between the ages of 10 and 14 were also badly affected- again particularly if they were denied access to school.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:07:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is The G20 Summit Worth Holding? « The Baseline Scenario

I believe you are deeply mistaken when you say the most Americans are not much different than we are over here in northern Europe. We are VERY different than you. We don't care what Brittany Spears is up to. We DO care what our government is doing however. We DON"T care who is going to win on American Idol, but we DO care deeply about who is going to win our next political election. We aren't obsessed with what kind of car we drive, but we do drive a hard bargain with the teachers who are educating our kids to make sure they get a fantastic education, and not with text books that don't tell the truth. We care about repaying our debts.....you don't seem to be overly concerned with that issue. We typically live within our means, and we SAVE money for our kids futures....rather than allowing our government to borrow our kids future financial health off a cliff. We try hard NOT to start wars with anyone, because we really frown on killing people who did nothing to us. You all in America may want to give that last one a try. When we have fellow citizens who aren't feeling well, we take care of them....no matter how much money they have. We save, then buy things. We try not to teach our children to worship "stuff". Junk. Our entertainers seem to have actual morals, and they don't try to convince our kids to use guns, take drugs, join street gangs and be abusive to women. We try very hard NOT to pollute everything in sight, and burn thru natural resources at warp speed. We use mass transit often, because to us, the destination is more important than trying to impress each other with what kind of car we drive. We encourage honesty in our citizens as well as our kids. Something like Bernie Madoff just doesn't happen here. In your society, it's rampant. I find my wife beautiful just the way she is, not surgically altered. And the list can go on and on and on. But, in short, we are not a bunch of clowns with too many aircraft carriers and credit cards, and very few morals or ethics. I guess the big difference between our two cultures is that we view ourselves as people who will take responsibility for our actions. I short, we actually care, whereas you.......?

great blog, by the way.

'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 Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 06:47:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | UK | Smith 'sorry' for expenses claim

he Home Secretary is to pay back parliamentary allowances claimed for pay-per-view television services, reportedly including two adult films.

Jacqui Smith said she "mistakenly" claimed for the TV package while billing for an internet connection.

The Sunday Express claims the £67 Virgin Media bill included two 18-rated features viewed last April.

Ms Smith was not home when the films were viewed, sources told the BBC. She lives with her husband, Richard Timney

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 06:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, noes, they watched two films rated for over 18! What is the world coming to!

By the way, were they rated 18

'18' - Suitable only for adults

No-one younger than 18 may see an `18' film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an `18' rated video.

or R18?
'R18' - To be shown only in specially licensed cinemas, or supplied only in licensed sex shops, and to adults of not less than 18 years.

The `R18' category is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex between adults. Films may only be shown to adults in specially licensed cinemas, and videos may be supplied to adults only in licensed sex shops. `R18' videos may not be supplied by mail order.

And even if they were  R18, why do we have to care?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 06:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well in the day of bundled media packages it's a new stickto beat female politicians with. what would otherwise be a minir disagreement between a couple (Depending on the couple) becomes in the mind ofthe more religious right, paying for perversion from tax money etc etc.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 29th, 2009 at 07:36:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 04:55:42 PM EST
Yurpeens, don't forget to put the clocks on one hour...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2009 at 05:43:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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