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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 13 April

by Fran Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:36:38 PM EST

On this date in history:

1780 - Birth of Alexander Mitchell, an Irish engineer who from 1802 was blind. He is known as the inventor of the screw-pile lighthouse. (d. 1868)

More here and here

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by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:50:51 AM EST
Telegraph: EU directive could open up faith schools to non-believers
Plans drawn up by the European Union to combat discrimination would allow non-believers to send their children to faith schools and could pave the way for gay marriage in church.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Proposals contained in the EU's draft discrimination directive could lead to churches being sued if they refuse to give communion, baptism or membership to non-Christians trying to get their children into a church school, experts said.

The Church of England said last night that it would raise concerns with the Government over the draft directive.

It fears that if the proposals are approved in their current form, religious bodies would lose an exemption they enjoy under current UK law to discriminate on grounds of conscience.

[Eurosceptic Alert]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, it's nice to see how even religionists are willing to learn and borrow from each other in terms of their willingness to discriminate. This is exactly what I'm reading from US sites about how the religious reich are resisting gay marraige. With lies and distortions and all sorts of bs.

However the stuff about religious schools is interesting cos there is a real problem in some areas where schools are becoming faith based and opting out of the open system, which is leaving educaitonal authorities short of decent schools for everyone else. The obvious and predicatable result of the Blair/Kelly religionist takeover.

Personally I'd resist any government help for religious schools. I won't ban such things, just I don't wanna pay for 'em. The reason they're encourgaed is they supposedly get better results, however the reason for that is that they're selective, not on faith basis but on income and aspiration: Which is illegal but tolerated.

However, ther are so many problems with education policy in the UK it's difficult to know where to start, but this is one thing I'd ban right off. No government support for religious discrimination.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurriyet: Turkish energy minister expresses hope to sign Nabucco deal by June
Guler said Turkey has sent a letter to EU countries which are part of the Nabucco gas pipeline project and now expects their answers.  

"If they sent the answers by the end of April, we will sign deals by June," Turkey's energy minister said.

"We expect the European Union to send us the text that EU countries agreed on," Hilmi Guler told reporters.

"We sent them (EU countries) the intergovernmental agreement and host government agreement. They sent their responses. However, we have discussed again and again things that we already agreed on. I sent a letter to avoid that. What I said was (just sign and send us, from one point of view, something that you agreed on)," Guler said.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:03:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: ETA threatens incoming Basque government
The armed Basque separatist group ETA has warned that the incoming government of the north-eastern Spanish region lacks "democratic legitimacy" and would therefore become the organisation's "priority target".

The leader of the Basque Socialist Party, Patxi Lopez, is set to become the head of the regional Basque government under a deal reached with the conservative Popular Party following local elections in March.

Lopez, who will replace Juan Jose Ibarretxe of the moderately nationalist PNV party, will be the first Basque premier to unequivocally back the region's unity with Spain since it was granted wide autonomy in 1979.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:05:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There wasn't a diary on the Basque regional elections when they happened. Here's the composition of the incoming parliament:
30 (+8) EAJ/PNV Basque nationalist, christian democrat
25 (+7) PSE-EE/PSOE Spanish Federalist, social democrat
13 (-2) PP Spanish centralist, christian democrat
4 (+3) Aralar Basque independentist, left
1 (-6) EA Basque nationalist, social democrat
1 (-2) EB-B Basque nationalist, left
1 (new) UPyD Anti-nationalist, social democrat
Majority: 38

The ideological classification is all mine. EA broke off from PNV in the 1980's as a left-of-centre and more radically nationalist alternative. It has often run in a join list with the PNV, though not this time. In 2005 they ran together and got 29 seats, of which 7 went to EA. This time around they ran separately and they got 30 and 1. UPyD is an ostensibly anti-nationalist party founded by Rosa Díez, a former prominent PSE member and PSOE MEP. Aralar is an independentist party created a few years ago which denounces violence. EB is part of the nationwide IU (United left).

Because PP and UPyD would have always voted against outgoing Basque president Ibarretxe, the only way for the PNV to have formed a government would have been for the PSE to abstain in the investiture vote. But, given that the PSE's Patxi Lopez had campaigned with the explicit intention of unseating Ibarretxe, the fact that PSE+PP+UPyD had 39 seats, against 36 for the nationalist parties, meant Patxi Lopez would win the government.

There is a conspicuous absence of ETA supporters. Last time around they voted en masse for an unassming far-left party called EHAK (Communist Party of the Basque Lands) resulting in 9 seats. This time around this didn't happen. The ETA vote stayed home or voted for Aralar - which was a slap in the face to ETA since Aralar explicitly disavows "armed struggle".

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 Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:32:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It should be remembered that half of ETA's murders have taken place in the Basque country and that PP and PSE politicians have been a primary target since the mid-1990s.

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 Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:33:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Real IRA threaten to take campaign to Britain
A dissident nationalist group in Northern Ireland will carry out armed attacks in mainland Britain as part of its campaign for a united Ireland, its representative said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.

The Real IRA, a splinter paramilitary group of the IRA, also claimed responsibility for the 2006 murder of Denis Donaldson, a former Sinn Fein chief administrator and spy for the British, and made threats against Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuiness.

Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA and McGuiness was a senior IRA commander in the 1970s.

Slow news weekend = good time for small time terrorists to make threats?
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:08:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Slow news weekend = good time for small time terrorists to make threats?

Yup that's my take. I can't see them adding up to much, my only reservation is that their very amateurism makes them more dangerous for the general public. Whilst not 100% on this, the original IRA were usually reasonably keen to avoid killing civilians for pr purposes.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:28:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Worldchanging: Unpacking "The Twitter Revolution" In Moldova (by Ethan Zuckerman)
On Sunday, April 5th, the governing Communist party won over 50% of the vote in Parliamentary elections. This was decidedly a surprise, as Communists had lost the last round of municipal elections, and as an organized anti-Communist movement had been warning that elections might be rigged. More than 10,000 young activists took to the streets of Chisinau on Tuesday, occupying Chisinau's central square, the Piata Marii Adunari Nationale. The protests turned violent in the evening: government buildings burned and dozens of protesters were injured.

Now, two days later, another battle is raging, a far less serious one. Inquiring internet users want to know: Was this a twitter-driven revolution? My friend and colleague Evgeny Morozov appears to have started the Twitter meme, with a thoughtful post in his new blog on ForeignPolicy.com, net.effect. The post, titled "Moldova's Twitter Revolution", observes that the tag #pman (short for Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, the square where protests unfolded) had been one of the most active on Twitter on Tuesday. Evgeny's post is more careful than the headline - he notes that Moldovan friends tell him there's little mobile phone coverage in the square, and notes that many social networking tools were likely used to organize protests, not just Twitter. (Global Voices has excellent coverage of both the protests and the social tools used.)

But it's the Twitter headline that stuck. Yesterday's story on the protests in the New York Times was titled "Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter". The meme has legs, and stories with titles like "Twitter 1, communism 0" are appearing in English-language newsapers: "A victorious moment. Technology over tyranny. A youth united tapping Twitter in the name of democracy."

(links at the source)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:26:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Twitter has been consuming a large amount of media attention of late (it serves their narcissism) and that is why this narrative is getting so much play.  In reality there's nothing to it other than the observation that young people are good at using technology in ways other than have been proscribed in the manual.

Media people see a tool such as Twitter as being useful primarily for self-promotion.  To see it used to actually achieve something is thus revolutionary to them.  Don't let the brand names obscure the real conversation.  Twitter and all the rest are just this year's version of next year's trend piece.  Technology moves to fast and there is nothing particularly exciting about Twitter that will give it any staying power.  Their tools can be written over a weekend (and probably were!)

by paving on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:06:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tories demand apology over Labour smear emails as Brown adviser quits | Politics | guardian.co.uk
Gordon Brown today was facing a deepening political crisis as details emerged of emails proposing a smear campaign against senior Conservatives including the Tory party leader, David Cameron, and his wife, Samantha.

Damian McBride, one of the prime minister's closest advisers, quit over his email exchange with the Labour blogger Derek Draper in which the two discussed setting up a website to publish scurrilous allegations about opponents. The idea was still being actively discussed until a fortnight ago, the Observer has learned.

As the government scrambled to limit the political damage, the cabinet office minister, Tom Watson, who was said to have been copied in on the emails, denied any involvement in the attempts at character assassination

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:17:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's good knockabout politics, but it's a thin line between looking righteous and appearing petty.

The tories shold drop this tomorrow.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:30:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Services Authority to investigate bankers' failures | Business | guardian.co.uk
The conduct of executives at Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS in the run-up to the banks' rescue by the government is to be scrutinised by a Financial Services Authority investigation.

The City watchdog is recruiting accountancy firms to assist with the formal inquiry, which will examine the events leading up to the banks' rescue last autumn. The investigation is expected to launch within weeks and will examine the role of executives and board directors, as well as reviewing the banks' internal controls.
A banking source said the FSA does not expect the investigation to uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing. "The question is whether these banks ran things properly, whether last year's events were due to bad business judgment or a failure of internal controls."

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Victory of the 'Shropshire thunderbolt' | UK news | The Observer
The triumphant rise of the W&S resembles a reprise of the plot of The Titfield Thunderbolt, the Ealing comedy from 1953, about a group of villagers starting their own steam railway line when the state-backed megalith pulls out citing unprofitability.

In the case of the W&S, the Shropshire to London route used to be run by Virgin but, despite the line's £35m annual public subsidy (up to last year, at least), it pulled out in 2004 citing insufficient demand. So last April, after a few diligent years of planning, careful regulatory negotiations and venture capital-raising, the Wrexham and Shropshire Railway began running, entirely unsubsidised, a route from Wrexham, through Shropshire, to London's Marylebone station.
The fares are astonishing: £40 return from London to Shrewsbury - half that if booked even a day in advance. An open standard London-Wrexham direct return is £53, when Virgin charges £201 for the equivalent, with connections.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:05:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WikiLeaks domain deleted

In war, there are 3 levels: the direct destruction of assets (including personnel), destruction of the logistics that supply the assets (including information and command structures), and the weakening of civilian support.

In the coming 'war' between the People and the Power, a transparent internet is our greatest weapon (maybe our only weapon) and should be defended at all costs. It should be pointed out that we don't own or control much of the physical infrastructure, we just swim in it.

Any threat to we-the-peoples' full, unhindered access to communication and sharing needs to be resisted most strongly.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:54:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you make this a diary? I'll front-page it.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:05:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can diary it as is, but I don't have the time to expand it till later. Do you think it will be enough to work as a seed for commentary? It is a very important subject imo.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:13:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just quote three paragraphs from the story and add the comment you already wrote.

Seed for debate is all right - if it catches on there will be plenty of opportunity to expand.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:26:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German Easter marches target wars in Iraq, Afghanistan | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 13.04.2009
Thousands of peace activists are rallying in Germany to demand a nuclear-free world and an end to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq on the final day of traditional Easter marches. 

Peace activists are holding numerous demonstrations on Monday on the final day of the traditonal Easter Marches with events planned in Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and Magdeburg. 

Event organizers report that attendance figures are up on last year with the focus of protests concentrationg on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition the demonstrations are calling for a nuclear-free world.

On Sunday, thousands of people rallied in Germany to protest at plans to set up a military training ground northwest of Berlin.

by Fran on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Genetically Modified Corn: German Lawmakers Mull a Frankenfood Ban - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Does Germany's agriculture minister want to ban genetically modified corn in Germany because it may be risky, or is the idea meant to give her party a quick boost in the polls? The controversy exposes a rift in Germany's conservatives.

 A Greenpeace banner draped over the facade of the Bavarian state parliament protests genetically modified corn. German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner will announce in the coming weeks whether her office will impose a ban on the commercial use of a type of genetically modified corn produced and marketed by the American biotech giant Monsanto.

But the idea has sparked a war of words between normally allied German conservatives. Aigner is a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union. Since Bavaria is an agricultural region, a CDU official has condemned the CSU's push for the ban as populism -- or, more precisely, as "irresponsible, cheap propaganda."

Monsanto, the world's largest producer of seeds, manufactures the only GM plant still approved for use in commercial farming in Germany, a corn used for animal feed. The primary benefit of the plant, called MON 810, is that it produces a toxin to fight off one of its worst enemies , the voracious larvae of the corn borer moth. The seed was introduced in the EU in 1998.

by Fran on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:51:23 AM EST
Financial Times: Europe's parliament is in the ascendant (by Tony Barber)
Like war, economic upheaval forces the pace of change in international relations. It redistributes power, making some countries more influential, and others less so. It rains blow after blow on established mechanisms of international co-operation and ultimately redesigns them.

All these processes are at work in the European Union. Among the EU's 27 member states, particularly among the 16 that share the euro, the financial crisis is bringing to the fore the central importance of Germany.

If the eurozone emerges from the crisis relatively unharmed, it will be thanks to Germany's economic strength and its readiness to take emergency action, if necessary, to protect the euro area against the threat of disintegration.

But the crisis is also accelerating longer-term changes in the balance of power among the EU's three main institutions - the European Commission, the European Council (which represents national governments) and the European parliament.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:52:41 AM EST
Guardian: Demand for oil drops as outlook for G7 remains grim

The world's major economies are headed for a deep downturn and the situation has worsened in Britain, Japan and the United States, the OECD warned today.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a Paris-based thinktank, painted a bleak picture for the G7 economies, as well as the four so-called Bric countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, predicting a "strong slowdown".

The global crisis is sharply reducing demand for oil, and oil consumption is reaching levels last seen in the early 80s, a separate report from the International Energy Agency showed. The agency slashed its economic forecasts for the fourth time since October and now expects the world economy to contract by 1.4% this year, a sharp reversal from its previous forecast of modest growth.
by Sassafras on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 10:50:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Sunday Times: Guess what, Darling? Your Vat cut seems to have worked

ALISTAIR DARLING's temporary cut in Vat, widely criticised as being an expensive failure, has worked, according to a report to be published this week by a leading economics consultancy.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) compared the trend for retail sales before the 2.5-point Vat cut, which took effect on December 1, with what happened subsequently. It also looked at the pattern of sales growth in the last recession.

Its conclusion is that there was an immediate boost to sales growth after the cut's introduction and it has been maintained. The CEBR's assessment is that in the first three months of the lower rate, retailers' turnover was £2.1 billion higher than it would otherwise have been.

[Murdoch Alert]

by Sassafras on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:07:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect this is a false dawn. Job losses and employment insecurities have seemingly reduced and so those who are in work and have money feel able to spend. Especially given the 50 - 70% reductions in shops, which render the 2.5% drop Darling offered as insignificant.

It's later on when these reduced high st profits filter through when that hit takes place we'll see what's what.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: China seeing 'gradual recovery'

China's economy is showing some signs of recovery from the global financial crisis, the country's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said.

The economy is showing "positive changes" but still faces "very big difficulties", he said on the sidelines of Thailand's cancelled Asean summit.

Earlier this month, figures showed that China's manufacturing sector grew in March for the first time in six months.

Mr Wen has announced a target of 8% growth for China's economy in 2009, but many analysts believe the figure will be closer to 5%.

In fact, his comments on positive signs of recovery do not chime with the views of some analysts, who believe China will continue to struggle during the global economic slowdown.

by Sassafras on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:17:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China Slows Purchases of U.S. and Other Bonds - NYTimes.com
Reversing its role as the world's fastest-growing buyer of U.S. Treasuries and other foreign bonds, the Chinese government actually sold bonds heavily in January and February before resuming purchases in March, according to data released this weekend by China's central bank.

China's foreign reserves grew in the first quarter of this year at the slowest pace in nearly eight years. For the quarter, the reserves edged up $7.7 billion, compared to a record increase of $153.9 billion in the same quarter last year.
Chinese reserves fell a record $32.6 billion in January and another $1.4 billion in February before rising $41.7 billion in March, according to figures that were released by the People's Bank for the first time over the weekend. Resumed growth in China's reserves during March suggests that confidence in the country may be reviving, and capital flight could be slowing.

China has essentially lent vast sums to the United States -- roughly two-thirds of the central bank's $1.95 trillion in foreign reserves are believed to be in American securities. But the Chinese government now finances a dwindling percentage of new American mortgages and government borrowing.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:05:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / China - Beijing to tighten controls on credit
China's central bank on Sunday warned it planned to "strictly control" credit to some sectors of the economy after the country recorded a record surge in bank loans and money supply in March.

The central bank's statement, made after a routine quarterly monetary policy meeting, followed the release on Saturday of the money supply data. The data appeared to confirm that Beijing's stimulus measures are revitalising the domestic economy but raised credit risk and inflation concerns.

Banks extended Rmb1,890bn ($278bn, €203bn, £193bn) in loans last month, according to the money supply data released by the People's Bank of China, breaking the earlier monthly record set in January. This means bank lending is approaching the government's full-year target of Rmb5,000bn already after the first quarter - the total for the three months to March 31 was Rmb4,580bn.

As a result, the broad M2 measure of money supply grew to a record 25.5 per cent last month.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:17:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Secret bancaire: la tension monte entre la Suisse et l'OCDE - LibérationBanking secrecy: tension rises between Switzerland and the OECD - Libération
Faisant fi de leur traditionnelle discrétion, les autorités helvétiques ont laissé libre cours à leur mécontentement, dix jours après avoir été inscrits par l'OCDE sur la liste "grise" des Etats ayant pris l'engagement d'échanger des renseignements fiscaux sans toutefois avoir "substantiellement" mis en oeuvre des réformes.Defying their traditional discretion, the Swiss authorities have given vent to their discontent, ten days after being listed by the OECD on the "grey" list of states having committed to exchanging tax information without having "substantially" implemented reforms.
Berne pourrait ainsi accentuer sa pression contre l'organisation pour forcer cette dernière à une meilleure communication avec la Suisse, indiquent des sources proches des autorités fédérales, citées dans l'édition dominicale de la Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ).Berne could increase its pressure against the organization to force it into better communication with Switzerland, indicate sources close to federal authorities, quoted in the Sunday edition of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ).
Après avoir bloqué mercredi une somme de 136.000 euros destinée à l'organisation, la Suisse pourrait freiner le processus de coopération avec la Chine, l'Inde et d'autres pays émergents, écrit la NZZ.After blocking a sum of 136,000 euros for the organization on Wednesday, Switzerland could slow the process of cooperation with China, India and other emerging markets, writes the NZZ.
Les autorités fédérales pourraient également tarder à régler leur cotisation annuelle à l'OCDE -- environ 10 millions de francs suisses (6,5 millions d'euros) -- ou empêcher en 2011 la réélection du secrétaire général Angel Gurria.The federal authorities could also delay paying their annual contribution to the OECD - around 10 million Swiss francs (6.5 million euros) - or prevent the re-election in 2011of the Secretary-General Angel Gurria.
Le Département fédéral des Finances (DFF) n'était pas joignable dans l'immédiat pour commenter ces informations.The Federal Department of Finance (FDF) could not be reached at short notice to comment on this information.
Jusqu'à présent réticente à exprimer son agacement, la classe politique suisse a essentiellement dirigé ses critiques contre l'OCDE.So far reluctant to express its annoyance, the Swiss political class has largely directed its criticism against the OECD.
Le ministre suisse de l'Intérieur, Pascal Couchepin, a estimé que l'organisation ne devrait pas "jouer au (guide gastronomique) Gault Millau" en établissant un classement des Etats, en référence à la liste "grise" publiée le 2 avril, et sur laquelle la Suisse a été inscrite malgré l'assouplissement de son secret bancaire.The Interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, said the organization should not "play (gastronomic guide) Gault Millau" in establishing a ranking of states, in reference to the "grey" list published April 2, in which Switzerland was included despite the relaxation of its banking secrecy.
Selon le ministre, cité par le journal dominical Sonntag, l'ONU a été "humiliée" lors du sommet du G20, qui l'a contournée et a transformé l'OCDE en "agence de notation".According to the minister, quoted by the Sunday newspaper Sonntag, the UN was "humiliated" at the summit of the G20, which bypassed it and turned the OECD into a "rating agency".
La Suisse, membre de l'OCDE, estime avoir été trahie par l'organisation avec l'établissement de cette liste et ne pas avoir été suffisamment informée au préalable.Switzerland, an OECD member, considers itself betrayed by the organization with the establishment of this list and not having been adequately informed beforehand.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 01:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Global Economy - Germany warns on `crisis after crisis'
The world could face high inflation and a "crisis after the crisis" when the global economy recovers, Peer Steinbrück, German finance minister, has warned.

The comments, in a weekend interview, are the latest sign of concern from Germany at the extra-loose monetary policies conducted by central banks around the world and the ever-larger fiscal stimuli being unveiled by governments.

"I am concerned that the countermeasures we are seeing around the world, financed by enormous amounts of debts, could be paving the road to the next crisis," Mr Steinbrück told Bild, a tabloid daily.

"So much money is being pumped into the market that capital markets could easily become overwhelmed, resulting in a global period of inflation in the recovery."

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:14:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Global Economy - Global Insight: Dangers of US optimism
It should come as no surprise that in the warm spring days leading up to the Easter weekend, Americans started to bet on renewal, beginning with the country's giddy enthusiasm for the new First Puppy. Mortgage applications have surged since December. Analysts say lenders are set to grant $3,000bn (€2,300bn, £2,040bn) in new mortgages, about the same level as at the height of the housing boom, although much of that may be refinancing to take advantage of historically low rates. The stock market is rallying, with the S&P 500 up more than 25 per cent since early March.
But the American yearning for a quick return to the good times has its dangers. Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of Pimco, which manages assets of nearly $750bn and works with the US government on some of its financial rescue programmes, told me he is most concerned about the "innocent investors" - the people on Main Street who probably over-leveraged themselves to buy homes in the boom and may feel inspired by CNBC's touting of the recent upswing to pile into the stock market.

CFOs and mutual fund managers may hope for just such a return of the retail investor. But if ordinary Americans, whose pension savings were devastated last fall, are burned by a dead-cat bounce this spring, US faith in shareholder capitalism could be damaged for a long time.

More importantly, the passionate desire for a swift recovery risks obscuring the necessary national - and international - debate about what shape that recovery ought to take. Compared with today's rising unemployment and shrinking GDP, the robust economic activity of recent years looks very appealing. But we now know that much of that growth was illusory, based on unsustainable over-consumption by American households and over-leverage by American financial institutions.

America needs more than a recovery. It needs what Jeff Immelt, General Electric's CEO, describes as a national "reset". A resurgence of national confidence can help the country get there - but it will take a lot of cold, hard critical thinking, too.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:22:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
States Slashing Social Programs for Vulnerable - NYTimes.com
Battered by the recession and the deepest and most widespread budget deficits in several decades, a large majority of states are slicing into their social safety nets -- often crippling preventive efforts that officials say would save money over time.

President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package is helping to alleviate some of the pain, providing large amounts of money to pay for education and unemployment insurance, bolster food stamp programs and expand tax credits for low earners. But the money will offset only 40 percent of the losses in state revenues, and programs for vulnerable groups have been cut in at least 34 states, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a private research group in Washington.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:27:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HUD's Dollar Homes falls short of mission - Los Angeles Times
The federal program sets out to help poor families buy homes. Instead, housing contractors and investors are reaping the benefits, records show.
Congress launched the program in 1998 to clear the Department of Housing and Urban Development's books of foreclosures and provide affordable housing. Local governments would buy the homes for $1, fix them up and resell them at a discount to poor families, who would get a chance to put down roots in the community. At least that's how it was supposed to work.

A Times investigation has found that the Dollar Homes program has helped housing contractors and investors, but there is no evidence that it has provided any lasting benefit to people like the Ptaceks. The findings offer a cautionary tale as the Obama administration works to craft similar efforts to help communities ravaged by the housing slump.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given who was administering this program from shortly after it got going until January '09, this is about the only outcome that could be expected.  That, and the RW blaming those who were intended to benefit, but in fact did not, for causing the financial meltdown.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 08:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to tax-dodge city, USA | Business | guardian.co.uk
It lacks the palm-fringed sandy beaches of the Cayman Islands. Or the craggy ­Alpine peaks of Liechtenstein. But should the second smallest US state, Delaware, go on a blacklist of globally notorious tax havens?

A wedge-shaped chunk of land 96 miles long sitting halfway between Washington and New York, the state of Delaware is home to 870,000 people, 0.3% of the US population. But more than half of the nation's publicly traded companies are incorporated here, including 60% of the Fortune 500 firms. One anonymous office block serves as the registered address of more than 200,000 corporations.

Delaware's status as a corporate honeypot has attracted the unwelcome attention of Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, who last week declared that if his country was to be picked upon as an alleged tax haven, then Delaware should get the same treatment.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair is fair.  I wonder how those 200,000 corporations would like a dose of regulatory reform in Delaware?  Now that they are all conveniently assembled.....

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 08:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloomberg: China Plans $10 Billion Asean Investment Funding
China plans to create a $10 billion investment cooperation fund and offer $15 billion in credit to its Southeast Asian neighbors, extending its influence as the region attempts to weather the global financial crisis.

The investment fund will promote infrastructure development linking China with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, while the loans will be offered over three to five years, according to a statement on the Foreign Ministry Web site today citing an interview with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

The measures from the world's third-largest economy, and one of the few forecast to maintain growth this year, may help speed recovery from the global financial crisis and cement China's leadership in the region. The nation has already signed currency swap agreements with Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia this year to help ease foreign-exchange shortages and aid bilateral trade and investment.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | Useless finance, harmful finance and useful finance
Financial markets are inefficient in any of the ways specified by James Tobin in a great 1984 paper - information arbitrage efficiency, fundamental valuation efficiency, functional efficiency or Arrow-Debreu full insurance efficiency.[1] Financial markets even often are technically inefficient. A market is technically or trading efficient if it is liquid and competitive, that is, it is possible to buy or sell large quantities with very low transaction costs, at little or no notice and without a significant impact on the market price.  We have seen many examples, from the ABS markets and the commercial paper markets to the interbank markets of massive and persistent failures of technical or trading efficiency.

He did not believe that financial markets consistently possessed `fundamental valuation efficiency': financial asset prices do not necessarily reflect the rational expectations of the future payments to which the asset gives title.  Key financial markets, including the stock market, the long-term debt market and the foreign exchange market are characterised both by excess volatility and persistent misalignments, that is, prices deviating persistently from fundamental valuations.

Tobin also contested the notion that the financial markets delivered `value for money' in the social sense. "the services of the system do not come cheap. An immense amount of activity takes place, and considerable resources are devoted to it." (Tobin [1984, p. 284]). Tobin referred to this aspect of efficiency as `functional efficiency'. Finally, the system of financial markets can be efficient in the technical, information arbitrage, fundamental valuation and functional senses without possessing what Tobin called Arrow-Debreu full insurance efficiency, that is, without supporting Pareto-efficient economy-wide outcomes.  The reason is that real world financial markets interact with labour and goods markets that are inefficient in every sense of the word.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Buitler has three readong recommendations...
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | Useless finance, harmful finance and useful finance
I recommend a reading of two books about the true microfoundations of financial intermediation, Hernando de Soto's, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, New York: Basic Books (2000) Prosperity Unbound: Building Property Markets with Trust, by Elena Panaritis (Palgrave MacMillan 2007).  If you have only time for one, read the shorter work by Elena Panaritis.


Tobin, James [1984], "On the Efficiency of the Financial System", Fred Hirsch Memorial Lecture, New York, Lloyds Bank Review, No. 153, July, pp. 1-15, reprinted in Tobin [1987], Policies for Prosperity; Essays in a Keynesian Mode, Edited by Peter M. Jackson, Wheatsheaf Books, Brighton, Sussex. pp. 282-296.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More Buitler...

FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | Oops! Two cheers for the IASB

The FASB thus received a double kick in the baubles from the IASB, one as regards procedure ("...respecting due process.") and one as regards substance ("..comprehensive.. rather  than ...piecemeal").  Following this indictment by its peers, it ought to be clear even to the most blinkered captive accountant, that the FASB is damaged goods - a standard setter captured by those who are supposed to be constrained by the standards it sets - the SEC of the accounting standards world.  Perhaps a comprehensive overhaul of its leadership and institutional structure will suffice to restore both the reality and the perception of backbone and integrity.  I doubt it.  Best to scrap the organisation and create a new body, structured to be less amenable to capture by the vested interests its standard-setting activities are intended to keep in check.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet more... (h/t metatone)

FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | The unfortunate uselessness of most 'state of the art' academic monetary economics

... the typical graduate macroeconomics and monetary economics training received at Anglo-American universities during the past 30 years or so, may have set back by decades serious investigations of aggregate economic behaviour and economic policy-relevant understanding.  It was a privately and socially costly waste of time and other resources.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:36:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:53:10 AM EST
Independent: State of emergency announced in Thai capital
Thailand has imposed a state of emergency in its capital, Bangkok, and surrounding areas.

The action by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva comes a day after anti-government protesters swarmed into a hotel hosting an Asian summit, forcing its cancellation.

The protesters, who are seeking Abhisit's resignation, also blocked a major Bangkok motorway for several days last week, disrupting traffic.

The decree bans gatherings of more than five people and forbids reporting that is considered threatening to public order.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Los Angeles Times: Protest mobs churn chaos in Bangkok
Protesters swept through the streets of Thailand's capital today, challenging the military for control and attacking the prime minister's motorcade with rocks and bottles shortly after a state of emergency was declared in the troubled Southeast Asia nation.

Tanks and columns of army troops were brought in to defend the capital, but increasingly violent protests continued. Hundreds of sympathetic taxi drivers and hijacked public buses formed ad hoc roadblocks at bustling intersections, and the Bangkok train station was shut down, crippling transportation on the eve of Thai New Year.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:24:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Thaksin: Overthrow Thai government
Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has called for the overthrow of the government after authorities imposed a state of emergency in Bangkok amid widespread protests.

His call came after armed soldiers were deployed across the Thai capital on Sunday, a day after "Red Shirt" movement anti-government protests forced the cancellation of a summit of Asian leaders in the beach resort of Pattaya.

He said: "The troops who have already come out can come and join the Red Shirts to help us to get democracy for the people.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Related Eurotrib posts:

Fabulous Thailand by FarEasterner on 11 March 2009
Thailand's Berlusconi by Migeru on 5 October 2007
All that I know of Morality and obligations I owe to football by darragh on 2 August 2007
Alleged military coup in progress in Thailand by Gjermund E Jansen on 22 September 2006

threads: Saturday Open Thread on 11 April 2009, European Salon on 25 November 2008.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 04:02:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, I guess I can retire now :-)

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 Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 04:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha-ha, fabulously rich revolutionary he will be. Thai Che, Lenin or Mao? Unlikely. He is desperate to cut a deal with royalist-military junta behind the backs of protesters, and if power haves defreeze his 2 bln dollars assets, scale back charges of conflict of interets in land deals of his former wife, then mirage of revolution will disappear.
by FarEasterner on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what do you think is going to happen? The last two governments have been toppled by red/yellow shirt revolts, in less than one year. How likely is "a deal"?

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AFP: Sri Lanka declares 48-hour ceasefire
Sri Lanka's president on Sunday ordered government troops to halt their offensive against cornered Tamil rebels over the two-day Sinhala and Tamil New Year that starts on Monday.

Mahinda Rajapakse's office said in a statement that the move would allow thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in the fighting to celebrate the New Year.

"With this objective in view, His Excellency has directed the armed forces of the state to restrict their operations during the New Year to those of a defensive nature," the statement said.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:23:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington Post: Obama Reiterates Call for Cooperation
President Obama, speaking days after returning from his first overseas trip since taking office, said the most critical problems confronting the nation and the world can be solved only through international cooperation.

"These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone," Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations."

Major obstacles such as climate change, the global financial crisis, terrorism and nuclear proliferation demand coordinated action to overcome, Obama said.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: At U.N. Talks on Climate, Plans by U.S. Raise Qualms (Wed. Apr. 8th)
At the start of the United Nations climate talks here 12 days ago, the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, received a round of rowdy applause. It was the first appearance of the new negotiating team at any global meeting.

But by Wednesday, as the meetings drew to a close, some delegates -- and even some United Nations officials -- were grumbling that the United States was not moving fast enough to take action on global warming.

On Wednesday, Mr. Stern's team offered the first broad hints of a new international climate policy for the United States, noting that more details would be submitted in a proposal to the United Nations later this month. But even in its broadest brush strokes, the American proposal differs significantly from other plans to curb carbon dioxide emissions enacted by the United Nations and the European Union.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:34:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus ça change we can believe in.

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 Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:37:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Is the US selling out to the Taliban? (by Nushin Arbabzadah)
Ask any Afghan on the ground or abroad what they think of President Obama and the answer you'd get is that he's sending us mixed signals. Obama is an excellent communicator back home in the US and abroad at international meetings but when it comes to Afghanistan his clarity of thought disappears in the fog of war.

The people of Afghanistan want a clear stance from Obama: is he or is he not serious about fighting terrorism? At present, the general feeling is that he is not - at least not as serious as he appeared to be during his campaign for presidency. In the polite words of Afghan daily, Hasht-e Sobh, "The main concern felt in progressive and civil society circles is that the international community, the US in particular, might negotiate with terrorists and bargain the people's fundamental rights in the process."

In other words, the US might offer the Taliban a role in the government in return for abandoning the pursuit of democracy and human rights in the country. A frightening thought for all those Afghans who have risked their lives to fight for women's rights, freedom of speech and civil society.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The people of Afghanistan want a clear stance from Obama:

My advice: Get in line.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 08:14:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Britain has bloody hands in Zimbabwe
Donald Trelford exposed Robert Mugabe's murderous methods 25 years ago, but couldn't persuade Whitehall to intervene

The baby was already dead, but the crowd weren't to know that. They gasped in horror as the soldier held it aloft and declared: "This is what will happen to your babies if you hide dissidents." Then he dropped the tiny corpse in the dust. That was Brigadier Phiri, known as Black Jesus, notorious head of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe Army, whose mission was to "cleanse" Matabeleland of dissidents.

There were no dangerous dissidents left, as his soldiers well knew, since the civil war had ended some years before. The myth provided them with an excuse to beat and torture villagers for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of the so-called insurgents. But, in reality, it was to intimidate and subdue the Ndebele tribe for supporting Joshua Nkomo, who had been Robert Mugabe's opponent at the general election before independence in 1980, four years previously. In 1987, after up to 400,000 of his people had been murdered in the pogrom that became known as the Gukurahundi ("the wind that blows away the chaff after harvest"), Nkomo gave in and merged his party with Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

It was 25 years ago this month that I stumbled on the first direct evidence that Mugabe was a monster who would destroy his own people to preserve his hold on power. It seems extraordinary that it took nearly a quarter of a century for the world to catch on.

Liberal interventionism is still popular in Britain? Although this article has a good conclusion.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:46:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think, as can be seen by reading the story, that there's a lot of complicated back-reference to the jockeying that took place after the long conflict (and debate, in British political circles) over Rhodesia, and the foreign & business policy choice to go along with Mugabe when white Rhodesia was over. Some people could see then that Zimbabwe was being handed over to a bad guy, but when did that stop any former colonial power from making a deal?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 05:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
VOA News: Somali Piracy - Causes and Consequences
The ongoing Somali piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean raises a number of legal and military issues about how to deal with the problem. Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, spoke to VOA about the causes and consequences of Somali piracy.

"Fundamentally, the piracy problem off the Somali coast arises out of the fundamental problem of statelessness on shore. There's not been an effective Somali government since 1991. So, without effective governing on shore you're going to have opportunities for criminals to engage in their enterprises with impunity," he says.

However, Pham says that's just one part of the problem. "The ransoms being paid by the shipping companies are also part of the problem. On one hand, from a purely economic point of view, it makes a great deal of sense if you have a cargo ship that is worth at least $20 to $30 million, it stands to reason that paying them a million dollars to get it back is an economically rational decision. Unfortunately, what might be in the selfish, self-interest of a single shipping company contributes to a general climate where the price of ransoms are bid up and there's incentive for more people to get involved in this lawlessness," he says.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Anarchy on Land Means Piracy at Sea (by Robert D Kaplan)
PIRACY is the maritime ripple effect of anarchy on land. Somalia is a failed state and has the longest coastline in mainland Africa, so piracy flourishes nearby. The 20th-century French historian Fernand Braudel called piracy a "secondary form of war," that, like insurgencies on land, tends to increase in the lulls between conflicts among great states or empires. With the Soviet Union and its client states in Africa no longer in existence, and American influence in the third world at an ebb, irregular warfare both on land and at sea has erupted, and will probably be with us until the rise of new empires or their equivalents.

Somali pirates are usually unemployed young men who have grown up in an atmosphere of anarchic violence, and have been dispatched by a local warlord to bring back loot for his coffers. It is organized crime carried out by roving gangs. The million-square-miles of the Indian Ocean where pirates roam might as well be an alley in Mogadishu. These pirates are fearless because they have grown up in a culture where nobody expects to live long. Pirate cells often consist of 10 men with several ratty, roach-infested skiffs. They bring along drinking water, gasoline for their single-engine outboards, grappling hooks, ladders, knives, assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and the mild narcotic qat to chew. They live on raw fish.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:50:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Somalia was a libertarian paradise...
a libertarian think tank reported that living standards in Somalia increased - in absolute terms, relative to the pre-Somali Civil War era, and relative to other nations in Africa
(see wikipedia)

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 Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:54:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nearly everyone in the press is getting this story wrong, I think, but it's hard to get some kind of good overview of what is going on, and so far what the governments are doing isn't too drastic.

I appreciate Robert D Kaplan's colourful description of the pirates and I admire his ability to work some advocacy for yet another army procurement programme into his column. The man is a genius.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 04:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 04:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Somalia was a libertarian paradise...
Perhaps the Cato Institute would consider relocating.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 08:18:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence"

my bold.

'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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
India: The world's most remarkable election

From the mountain heights of Kashmir to the palm-fringed beaches of Kerala, from Nagaland in the remote north-east to the Maharashtra heartland, India will this week throw itself headlong into the world's largest and most extraordinary election.

Here, in the planet's biggest, if imperfect, democracy, candidates from 1,055 parties will be seeking the support of more than 714 million registered voters - a number that has jumped by 40 million since the last election in 2004. Across India's 35 states and "union territories" there will be 800,000 polling stations ready to receive voters, while six million police will be on duty to try to maintain order. Such is the sheer scale of this enterprise that the voting is to be staggered over a month with five separate polling days. The result will be announced in mid-May.
by Sassafras on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:00:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some U.S. troops tempted by reconstruction cash - Los Angeles Times
The Justice Department has secured more than three dozen bribery-related convictions in the awarding of reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least 25 theft investigations are underway.
The prosecutions reveal the extent to which troops have been tempted by the Pentagon's "money as a weapon system" policy, which has left battlefields awash in cash.

"This was more cash than Donald Trump had ever seen in his life," said Robert J. Stein Jr., a Coalition Provisional Authority official in the Iraqi city of Hillah, who was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in a bribery, theft and money laundering case.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:37:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Taliban murder leading Afghan female rights activist - Asia, World - The Independent
Taliban gunmen murdered one of Afghanistan's leading female rights activists yesterday, as she stood outside her home. In the latest blow against women's rights, two men on a motorbike shot Sitara Achakzai in the southern city of Kandahar.

Officials said the attack happened in broad daylight. The Taliban have claimed responsibility. Friends said Mrs Achakzai was returning from a provincial council meeting; her assassins were lying in wait nearby.
Earlier this year Mrs Achakzai was instrumental in organizing a nationwide sit-in of more than 11,000 women, in seven provinces. The women `prayed for peace' to mark International Women's Day.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This should remind people why the Taliban will not be part of any governments installed by Obama.  Before 9/11 they were on the world's shitlist bigtime, especially after blowing up some huge Buddha sculptures in the mountains and oppressing women through denial of education, etc.  
by paving on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:10:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd sure like to believe that, but I really think that when push comes to shove, an awful lot will be sacrificed to gain the illusion of peace.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New bird flu cases suggest the danger of pandemic is rising - Science, News - The Independent
First the good news: bird flu is becoming less deadly. Now the bad: scientists fear that this is the very thing that could make the virus more able to cause a pandemic that would kill hundreds of millions of people.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:21:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Warning that Pakistan is in danger of collapse within months | smh.com.au
PAKISTAN could collapse within months, one of the more influential counter-insurgency voices in Washington says.

The warning comes as the US scrambles to redeploy its military forces and diplomats in an attempt to stem rising violence and anarchy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now," said David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kilcullen is worth listening to, if he's ringing alarm bells then we should be afraid.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India is going to freak-out if Pakistan implodes.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:37:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Africa - Algeria blamed for Polisario rally
Morocco's government has accused Algeria of allowing hundreds of Polisario Front supporters to cross over the border into the country, in violation of an 18-year ceasefire deal.

Algeria helped sneak about 1,400 Polisario Front loyalists to a military buffer zone in the disputed Western Sahara region, where they fired shots in the air, Morocco's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"This action, which was initiated and carried out from Algerian territory, confirms the direct responsibility of this country in its preparation and implementation," the ministry said.

Rabat accused Algeria and the Polisario, which is seeking independence from Morocco for Western Sahara, of trying to disrupt moves towards a peaceful solution to the conflict.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:28:29 PM EST
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SPIEGEL Interview with Iranian President Ahmadinejad: 'We Are Neither Obstinate nor Gullible' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke with SPIEGEL about what he expects from US President Barack Obama, why America's new Afghanistan strategy is wrong and why Iran should have a spot on the UN Security Council.

SPIEGEL: Mr. President, so far you have traveled to the United States four times to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations. What is your impression of America and the Americans?

Ahmadinejad: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, I am pleased to be able to welcome you to Tehran once again, after our extensive conversation almost three years ago. Now on the USA: Of course, one cannot get to know a country like the United States in short visits, but my speech and the discussions at Columbia University were very special to me. I am quite aware that a distinction must be drawn between the American government and the American people. We do not hold Americans accountable for the faulty decisions of the Bush administration. They want to live in peace, like we all do.

by Fran on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:47:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the way the Spiegel interviewer speaks for the West™ a little jarring. That is a remarkable interview for what it reveals not so much about Ahmadinejad but about Der Spiegel.

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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 06:53:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:53:55 AM EST
visual attitudes: European Union searchs for new «organic» logo
The demand for organically grown and produced food increases continuously. After a lot of scandals in the context of food production during the last decade more and more people want to know about the circumstances under which any ingredients of their meals are grown and processed before everything gets together on a dish. The European Union tries to provide a clue to consumers by a kind of seal of quality: a «organic» logo. The license to mark a product with this logo is only granted if organic methods of production are proven.

Now the EU announced a competition within which a new «organic» logo is supposed to be found. Design or art students from the European Union, at least 18 years old, are called to submit their creations till 25 June 2009. The winner's logo could be used on organic products in all 27 Member States. It's creator will be rewarded with € 6.000. More infos can be found here.

(links at the source)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 07:11:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wonderful, except that the new organic label will have relaxed requirements and specifications.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 05:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
silly to forbid entries from under 18's.

could be a whole bunch of talent there, especially for something like a logo.

'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 Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:37:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Long-Held Tenet on Women's Fertility in Question - washingtonpost.com
Scientists have produced strong new evidence challenging one of the most fundamental assumptions in biology: that female mammals, including women, are born with all the eggs they will ever have.

In a provocative set of experiments involving mice, Chinese researchers have shown for the first time that an adult mammal can harbor primitive cells in her ovaries that can become new eggs and produce healthy offspring, they reported today.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 02:53:49 PM EST
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TheHill.com: First lady's organic garden concerns chemical firms
Michelle Obama planted an organic garden to promote fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but some chemical companies are worried it may plant a seed of doubt in consumers' minds about conventionally grown crops.

"Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical," the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) wrote the first lady last month a few days after she and fifth-graders from a local elementary school planted the White House Kitchen Garden.

The garden is designed to produce fresh fruits and vegetables for the first family and White House staff and guests. The garden itself doesn't give the group heartburn. The letter also congratulates the first lady "on recognizing the importance of agriculture to America!"

(via TPM)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
coming soon, Monsanto leans on her to use GM seeds and Roundup...

the fact that she's doing it organically must be making some heads explode... what a PR coup they see slipping through their fingers, heh.

hang tough Michelle!

'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 Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:59:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mid America CropLife Association

Because Mid America produces fresh foodstuffs? And wtf is a CropLife? It's hard to imagine anything more transparent as a cover for a petro-chemicals and industrial agriculture lobbying/pressure group.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 05:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Environment News Service: Climate Change Complicates Ozone Recovery
Increasing greenhouse gases would delay or even postpone the recovery of ozone levels in the lower stratosphere over some parts of the planet, according to new research by scientists from NASA and Johns Hopkins University.

Earth's ozone layer is predicted to recover from the destruction caused by the use of refrigerants and other ozone-depleting chemicals in the 20th century. But the studies find that the ozone layer of the future will be different from the ozone layer of the past because greenhouse gases are changing the dynamics of the atmosphere.

While the buildup of greenhouse gases warms the atmosphere from Earth's surface up six miles high, it cools the upper stratosphere - the atmospheric layer between 18 and 31 miles up.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 03:35:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 06:54:32 AM EST
Independent: Old is adland's new new as retro rules

One sip from a giant cup of sweet iced tea in a modern-day McDonald's and suddenly ... a needle hits a scratchy record and our tea-swigging hero is transported back through the decades, to a sunshiny Seventies street where children play with a skipping rope and men in tight orange T-shirts play relaxed games of cards. When he gets home, his wife is transformed, too: every bit the housewife of old, she is waiting with a loving caress and a pitcher of tea. Ah, 30 years ago. Life was so much simpler then. I'm lovin' it.

"This is the advertising style you want to adopt in a crisis," says Bernardo Revilla, an editor at the post-production house Cosmo Street in New York. "It normally happens in times of economic trouble, when people reach for unifying values and marketers adopt an attitude of pulling together, of 'This is America' and at the end of the day we are going to emerge strong.
by Sassafras on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:25:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't they make you want to throw up?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 05:42:18 PM EST
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30 years ago? They mean the second oil crisis?

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 Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 05:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks to Melanchton and Sassafras for plugging the gaps. See you all tomorrow.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 12th, 2009 at 04:05:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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