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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 14 April

by Fran Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:21:18 PM EST

On this date in history:

1870 - Birth of Victor Borisov-Musatov, a Russian painter, prominent for his unique Post-Impressionistic style that mixed symbolism, pure decorative style and realism. (d. 1905).

More here and here

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by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:50:59 AM EST
BBC News: Fire in Polish hostel 'kills 21'
At least 21 people have been killed in a fire at a hostel for homeless people in north-western Poland, officials say.

Another 20 were injured in the blaze in the town of Kamien Pomorski, 60km (37 miles) east of the border with Germany, which began in the middle of the night.

Many of the injuries were sustained as residents jumped from upper floors of the three-storey building.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:55:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Moldova court orders poll recount
The Constitutional Court in Moldova has ordered a recount of the country's parliamentary election results, after days of anti-government protests.

The initial count after last Sunday's election was won by Moldova's ruling Communists, with almost 50% of votes.

But opposition groups have dismissed calls for a recount, saying it is an attempt to mask election fraud.

Several thousand people are protesting in the capital Chisinau against alleged police violence earlier in the week.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUbusiness: Russian minister demands EU 'respect' in eastern Europe
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday insisted the European Union show "respect" and transparency in dealings with ex-Soviet states and criticised the bloc's policies on Ukraine.

"We're not asking for or demanding anything from our Western partners, including the EU, except an understandable, transparent policy on the CIS area, a policy based on principles of complementarity and respect for the legal interests of the countries of this area," Lavrov said, referring to ex-Soviet countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Lavrov was speaking at a foreign policy conference broadcast on television and went on to criticise a new agreement between Brussels and Ukraine on helping modernise the Ukrainian gas transit network at the centre of a dispute with Moscow in January.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:59:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yo bro, stop the dissin' on the Soviet, or we cut y'all, y'hear.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:56:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I suspect he was more miffed about the dissin' on the Russia, yo.  Also, I can't see Lavrov cutting anyone.  He's from the civilized class of Russian politicians. ;)

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah..they finally learned from the west how to blackmail sufficiently.
Just a short time ago Serbia was told that they will not get any loans from MMF and other western institutions if they do not recognize Kosovo.
All through history western policy was blackmailing and if that doesn't work then show of force..."we'll bomb you to the stone age"...
C'mon.Russians are show of culture and diplomacy comparing to west.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 12:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: British police hold 114 in power protest

More than 100 people have been arrested in Nottingham over a suspected plan to target a power station.

Police said 114 men and women were arrested in Sneinton Dale on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

Officers said they believed those arrested were planning to protest at nearby Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

A spokesman said "specialist equipment" had been found by officers who feared a threat to the safety of the site.

He said police thought there was a "serious threat" to the coal-fired power station, which is eight miles south-west of Nottingham.

by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:10:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Police arrest 114 people in pre-emptive strike against environmental protesters

Police have carried out what is thought to be the biggest pre-emptive raid on environmental campaigners in UK history, arresting 114 people believed to be planning direct action at a coal-fired power station.

The arrests - for conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass - come amid growing concern among campaigners about increased police surveillance and groups being infiltrated by informers.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: "In the light of the policing of the G20 protests, people up and down the country will want to be confident that there was evidence of a real conspiracy to commit criminal damage by those arrested and that this was not just an attempt by the police to disrupt perfectly legitimate protest per se."
by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:34:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and I had these quaint ideas that you had to have committed a crime before you got arrested for it. Seems as tho' the home Office have a Minority Report

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:59:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aggravated trespass? jesus
by paving on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:44:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FreeB.E.A.G.L.E.S.: Legal Advice for Activists (v4)

If you enter a building - say a laboratory premises - without the consent of the occupier, then you will probably be trespassing. Until the offence of "aggravated trespass" was created in 1994, trespass in the UK was a civil matter only. But even then the police could arrest you for breach of the peace for refusing to leave private premises, or on suspicion of burglary, as trespass is one of its essential components. 21.1 Aggravated Trespass

Section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJA) defines the offence as follows:
A person commits aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land with the intention of disrupting, or intimidating those taking part in, lawful activity taking place on that or adjacent land.

Notes on Aggravated Trespass

 Aggravated trespass can now take place inside as well as outside buildings.

The offence was introduced in 1994 to deal with the problem caused to bloodsports enthusiasts by hunt saboteurs. However it has been widely used against other animal rights activists and road protestors as well.

Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill has amended Section 68 of the CJA, so that now aggravated trespass can occur inside as well as outside buildings.

This amendment was introduced after intensive lobbying of the government by the police and the pharmaceutical industry to give them new powers to deal with office occupations by animal rights activists and others. Previously the police only had the power to remove such protestors from the building or to arrest them for breach of the peace. They now have a specific power of arrest to deal with the trespass itself.

My Bold.I seem to remember it was also brought in to deal with the Rave parties and New age Travellers.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 09:59:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Poles trapped between nations

Tempted by the promise of job opportunities back home, many Poles who migrated to Britain have packed up their lives and belongings and returned. The Polish authorities were very explicit in their efforts to persuade their compatriots to come home; we were all asked to return and help rebuild our economy, to use the skills we developed in UK. Offers were duly taken up.

But to their surprise, Polish job centres did not welcome the returning emigres warmly. In fact, there are no jobs for the returning flock.
by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:20:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cologne's historical archive faces a long road back | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 13.04.2009

For the past several weeks, more than 60 firemen and volunteers have been spending most of their days at the site where the archive once stood. With scoops, cranes and even their bare hands, they search through the rubble not for bodies, but for paper.


That is because the documented history of the entire region now lays buried under 60 tons of rock and other debris.


"Today we just found a document from the 11th century," said Cologne fireman Thomas Buergermann. "This is what we are doing, looking and searching for archival material, 12 hours a day every day, with the exception of Sunday."


Since the collapse of the archive building on March 3, workers have been present at the site. They plan to stay until the last document has been uncovered.


"We'll do this job until the last historical items have been found, said Johannes Feirer, Cologne's deputy fire chief. "I think that we have already recovered more than half of the historical materials," he said.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:58:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Alexander Lebedev disqualified from Sochi mayoral race

The billionaire Russian owner of London's Evening Standard was disqualified today from standing as a candidate for mayor of Sochi, in an apparent setback for President Dmitry Medvedev and his attempt to portray Russia as a modern democracy.

A court in the Black Sea resort of Sochi declared Alexander Lebedev's candidacy invalid. A judge ruled that the local election committee had acted "illegally" when it allowed the billionaire to register as a candidate last month for the mayoral elections on 26 April.

Lebedev described the decision as "insane". He blamed the ruling on the pro-Kremlin regional administration and said that officials had grown increasingly terrified that their candidate, Anatoly Pakhomov, who is backed by Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, may lose.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le gaffe di Berlusconi non fanno notizia in Italia | The Guardian | 12.4.09
Sorpresi? Indignati? Difficile dirlo. La maggior parte degli italiani semplicemente non sa che durante una visita ai terremotati Berlusconi ha paragonato l'esperienza delle famiglie costrette a dormire in tenda nel clima gelido dell'Abruzzo ad una gita in campeggio.

I telegiornali passarono diplomaticamente sotto silenzio l'ultima gaffe e i quotidiani, perlopiù, seguirono il loro esempio. Il buon uomo, dopotutto, voleva solo tirare su il morale a tanta povera gente. L'unico titolo di rilievo fu quello del Manifesto: "Berlusconi gaffeur anche in Italia. Il "giorno in campeggio" fa scandalo. Ma solo all'estero". Tutto qua. Tutto normale, anche lo spettacolo del primo ministro che si agita davanti alle telecamere e le autorità riunite con un enorme casco da pompiere in testa mentre saluta un'anziana signora rimasta senza casa. Siamo assuefatti.

English original here.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember, half the journalists in Italy work for him and the other half know they might do so one day.
by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 06:19:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously, I hadn't caught this. Even my companion asked me the other day if he had made another gaffe. I replied that he had only offered three of his ill-gotten villas for refugees, persisted in wearing his sporty, fascistchic black polo, and his compulsive use of macaronic commercial English to banner the overnight construction of "new towns". "Benvenuto al New Town di Aquila."

Mussolini did build a number of towns, just as Berlusconi in his construction days, but 18 months seems too short for such a Herculean endeavor. Whatever, it would entail an enormous economic return for him and his family.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 01:26:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I constantly see the name Berlusconi mentioned in the same sentence/paragraph with the name Mussolini.  Are we talking serious similarities or is this just plain fun?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 10:39:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
de Gondi:
Seriously, I hadn't caught this.
It's been all over the foreign press (for instance, in Spain). Quite some media blackout you have in Italy.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 10:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes we do.

similarly to the repugs in america, b. claims the press is out to get him, when the opposite is true.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 11:59:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:51:29 AM EST
Eurozine: Social Europe, A Long March? (translated from Esprit, January 2009, by Marc Clément)
When you start to list the building blocks that are missing in the construction of Europe, the lack of a common social approach is certainly one that springs most readily to mind - at least, in France. The recent publication by Jean-Claude Barbier of La Longue marche vers l'Europe sociale [The long march towards a social Europe][1] does have the merit of clarifying and amplifying the actual terms that I used in my first sentence. What do we actually mean when we speak of a "social Europe" and why is it that, when we speak of its place in the construction of Europe, we have to use different terminology for each of the EU countries?

It is not my purpose here to provide a complete survey of Barbier's invaluable study; my intention is rather to show how the line of inquiry that he pursues is essential for anyone who not content with mere slogans and who wishes to find ways for the European Union to extend its social dimension. It seems to me that we should make a distinction between two levels within what may be called "social Europe". There is a weak version and a strong version and each depends on the degree of interdependence and social cohesion that one might imagine to exist between European countries.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:08:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Social Europe: Where Now for European Political Parties? (by Henning Meyer)
Political parties perform important roles in European societies. Parties are institutions in which citizens with similar political views organise, develop political programmes and actively participate in the political process. They are vital for democracy because parties offer the most clear-cut political choices that are put to the electorate. Parties are also recruitment organisations, through which parliamentarians and members of government are sourced. Even though the latter functions are important, the general effectiveness of parties is closely linked to the first characteristic: their societal embeddedness - the main channel between a party and citizens. And in this respect, political parties have been declining dramatically.

The demise of political parties is not a new phenomenon. Since at least the 1980s, parties in all established European democracies have suffered massive membership losses to the point where they only retain a very limited capacity to engage citizens. The societal anchor of political parties is seriously threatened. Vernon Bogdanor wrote in 2006 that `the story of the rise and fall of the mass political party is one of the great unwritten books of our time'. So why do I pick this rather old problem up again in 2009? Not because I want to write the obituary of the mass political party but because we can now see where the development of political parties might lead us. This potential new future became apparent during the US Presidential campaign.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Social Europe: European Parliamentary Elections 2009 - Time for a new Direction (by Martin Schulz)
Europe has been a fascinating idea of peace, stability and social justice. After decades of unstable balance of power systems, disastrous conflicts and two World Wars, a new era in Europe's history began when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established. The idea `to create peace through integration' became a reality. Following decades of war, battlefields and deep wounds, the peace project `Europe' arose. Overcoming the fear of war and opening borders between Europe's nation states was the dream of millions of people, which came true. Through the voluntary transfer of sovereignty from nation states to a supranational institution, an integration process started which over the years has evolved further and further. From the 1950 Schuman Plan - the beginning of the integration process - to the 1958 Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation stone of the single market, and eventually to the single currency, the `monetary non-aggression community' reached a degree of integration, which, if one pauses for a moment, is amazing.

The number of member states has expanded from the six founding states - France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - to currently 27 member states. Core principles like peace, freedom, democracy, prosperity and social development were extended to Spain, Portugal and Greece after the fall of their dictatorships; later, after the end of the Cold War, these principles were also adopted by the former Warsaw Pact states. The eastern enlargement of the EU eventually ended the artificial division of Europe through the `Iron Curtain'. A war between the EU member states is unthinkable today.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:13:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
theParliament: Guarded response to EU parliament election survey
The survey predicts that the EPP will remain the biggest group after the 4-7 June poll and the Socialist group will fall slightly.

It says the Greens/EFA group will fall from 43 members to 35 while the ALDE group will also lose seats.

The UK Independence Party, it forecasts, will perform badly as will Libertas, the anti-Lisbon treaty group.

Reaction to the study was swift, with EPP leader Joseph Daul saying,"You have to be careful with such surveys but we expect and hope that the EPP will remain the biggest and most influential group."

News from last week, but... today is Mr. Daul's birthday. HBTJD.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:52:01 AM EST
Social Europe: Animal Spirits (by George Akerlof and Robert Schiller)
To understand how economies work and how we can manage them and prosper, we must pay attention to the thought patterns that animate people's ideas and feelings, their animal spirits. We will never really understand important economic events unless we confront the fact that their causes are largely mental in nature.

It is unfortunate that most economists and business writers apparently do not seem to appreciate this and thus often fall back on the most tortured and artificial interpretations of economic events. They assume that variations in individual feelings, impressions, and passions do not matter in the aggregate and that economic events are driven by inscrutable technical factors or erratic government action. In fact, as we shall discover in this book, the origins of these events are quite familiar and are found in our own everyday thinking.

We started work on this book in the spring of 2003. In the intervening years the world economy has moved in directions that can be understood only in terms of animal spirits. It has taken a rollercoaster ride. First there was the ascent. And then, about a year ago, the fall began. But oddly, unlike a trip at a normal amusement park, it was not until the economy began to fall that the passengers realised that they had embarked on a wild ride. And, abetted by this obliviousness, the management of this amusement park paid no heed to setting limits on how high the passengers should go. Nor did it provide for safety equipment to limit the speed, or the extent, of the subsequent fall.

I was talking to a young institutional economist lately and he said he wanted to go back to Schumpeter's basic analysis of the economy. In his understanding, this would postulate archaic (or atavistic, I don't remember, both could fit) drives as the foundation of the economy. One can of course be more sympathetic towards basic emotions. One can also ask, why would complicated emotions not play a role?

Akerlof and Shiller are talking about animal spirits in a sense I'd recognise from Santayana (Scepticism and Animal Faith), though spirit designates the ideal for him. Akerlof and Shiller derive it from Keynes. I guess that it's an archaic term used more often before the second world war. As for spirit guides, my sister has divined that mine is an owl.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This line of reasoning goes back to Adam Smith. The basis for the idea that the economy is essentially stable lies in a thought experiment which asks: What do free, perfect markets imply? The answer: If people rationally pursue their own economic interests in such markets, they will exhaust all mutually beneficial opportunities to produce goods and exchange with one another.....

We do believe, like most of our colleagues, that Adam Smith was basically right regarding why so many people are employed. We are also willing to believe, with some qualifications, that he was essentially correct about the economic advantages of capitalism. But we think that his theory fails to describe why there is so much variation in the economy. It does not explain why the economy takes rollercoaster rides. And the takeaway message from Adam Smith - that there is little, or no, need for government intervention - is also unwarranted.

This makes me wonder just how much they have read of or know about Adam Smith.  They seem to attribute the whole of economics well into the Neo-Classical to him.  Smith famously noted that never do two tradesmen of the same trade meet but that the conversation turns to constraint of trade.  He was a clear advocate of the government's role in keeping the market honest.  They do themselves a disservice by setting up such a caricature of Smith to attack.  I guess he is better known than are the true creators of the views they wish to attack.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 11:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, one is a recipient of the Bank of Sweden Prize in Fashionable Economics.  Perhaps that explains it.  One of such eminence cannot be expected to research his sources himself.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 11:42:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: VAT exemption proposed for European research
Cross-border research projects in Europe could be set for billions of euros in tax breaks under proposals that will be considered by European Union ministers in coming weeks.

As part of a broader plan to step up EU investment in research, Brussels is proposing to create a group of schemes called "European research infrastructure" (ERI) projects.

These would need to involve at least two member states, have legitimate research objectives, and be "non-economic" in nature.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloomberg: Losing $63 Billion to Gray Market Is Sleuth Obsession
Private investigator Michael Kessler traveled to Honduras to track down some bleach.

The bleach's manufacturer sent him to investigate how its merchandise, sold to a Central American distributor, kept showing up in U.S. stores at a higher price, cutting the maker out of the increased profit. Kessler arrived at the purchaser's address only to find a gas station selling tires and chickens running across a dirt road. No buyer. No bleach.

"That bleach did what we call a U-boat," said Kessler, president of Kessler International in New York, who declined to identify the brand. "It was shipped from the U.S. to Honduras and went right back to the U.S. again."

Sleuthing is one way consumer-goods makers such as Procter & Gamble Co. are fighting back against a growing market for trafficking genuine goods outside of official distribution channels. The practice, known as product diversion, siphons as much as $63 billion of U.S. industry sales, according to Deloitte LLP, the New York-based consulting firm.

Also a story from last week. But interesting. If there were an incentive to make supply chains more efficient, little of this would happen.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 09:08:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lane Kenworthy is doing a guest series at Crooked Timber about strategies to reduce income inequality in the United States.

by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:04:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Times:Oil falls below $50 amid slump in US stocks

Oil prices fell sharply on Monday to below $50 a barrel following forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that demand for crude would decline this year by 2.4 million units a day.

The IEA's latest forecast is one million barrels a day lower than last month's estimate after it cut the economic assumptions it uses to underpin its forecasts for the fourth time since October. It now expects the global economy to contract 1.4 per cent this year instead of expanding modestly.

[Murdoch Alert]

by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:27:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
naked capitalism - Is TARP Investigator on Collision Course With Treasury on Bank Assets?
This could get interesting. The Financial Times tells us that Neil Barofsky, the special investigator general for the TARP, is looking whether banks cooked their books by overvaluing assets to qualify for TARP funding, Remember, bank had to fall into this funny construct of being sick enough to need help, but not so sick as to be terminal.

And since we are widely reading reports of banks carrying lots of mortgage paper at higher than 80 cents on the dollar (we've even seen reports of over 90 cents on the dollar being common) it would appear that Barofsky's suspicions are well founded.

So play this out: we have the public private partnerships designed to hoover up assets at well above market levels. These programs are voluntary, so the banks most decidedly will not sell assets unless they get a price that is above the current carrying value on their books. And recent research suggests that, contrary to the Treasury's claims otherwise, the current market values are likely to reflect accurately what this dreck is worth. So taxpayers are being asked to overpay substantially for junk in an opaque and unnecessarily costly subsidy...

But now Barofsky is likely to find the banks overvalued their assets to make themselves look less sick. That's tantamount to saying they defrauded the government, and that the PPIP is overpaying for assets by an even larger margin than previously thought.

The FT article is extensively quoted in the post.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:41:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Recession 'has only just begun' - Northants ET
Businesses have warned the recession has only just started in Northamptonshire and will get worse before it gets better. A study by Northamptonshire Chamber has revealed that the recession has hit the area "in a big way" and that the local economy faces severe threats.

The survey of more than 100 firms revealed that half of manufacturing companies had seen sales fall and more than a third had made staff redundant.

Shops, restaurants and transport firms have also seen trade halved, with a quarter making job cuts.

Chief executive Paul Griffiths said: "These results make grim reading, marking early 2009 as the true beginning of the recession in Northamptonshire.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The World's Shortest Blacklist: Why the Fight against Tax Havens Is a Sham - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

There were many fine words about the fight against tax havens at the G-20 summit. But the reality looks very different: The OECD's new tax haven blacklist contains exactly zero entries.

The heads of state of the world's most powerful nations seemed somewhat tired, and yet extremely satisfied. On the Thursday of the week before last, after hours of negotiations, they had finally agreed to a plan for a new, cleaner global financial system.

"The era of banking secrecy is over," the official communiqué issued at the end of the G-20 summit in London concluded. From now on, the authors wrote, "non-cooperative jurisdictions, including tax havens," can expect to face sanctions and be placed on a list of countries not in compliance with the "international standard for exchange of tax information."

by Fran on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 02:16:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it amazing how quickly they cleaned up that mess?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 11:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:52:36 AM EST
Guardian: Thailand protesters injured as troops open fire
Thai troops fired into the air in Bangkok and used teargas to clear protesters from the streets today as the government moved to reassert its authority amid deepening political turmoil.

Fires blazed in the street and plumes of smoke rose from burning tyres during the morning standoff between troops and protesters, with ambulances and fire engines on standby. A Buddhist monk with a megaphone stood in the intersection pleading for calm and telling the soldiers: "Don't shoot. Think about your country." Police on motorbikes shuttled between troops and demonstrators to mediate.

The first and most serious clash began between 4am and 5am as troops in full combat gear advanced to disperse the protesters. The soldiers reportedly fired hundreds of rounds from their M16 automatic rifles over the heads of the demonstrators.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:01:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Americans stick to their guns as firearms sales surge
At the Guns and Ammo Warehouse they are reluctant to admit Barack Obama is right about very much. But customers enjoy the thought that his controversial campaign comment, that "bitter" small-town Americans are clinging to their guns, has proved more true than the president could have imagined.

Firearms sales have surged in the six months since Obama's election as millions of Americans have gone on a buying spree that has stripped gun shops in some parts of the country almost bare of assault weapons and led to a national ammunition shortage.

The FBI says that since November more than seven million people applied for criminal background checks in order to buy weapons, a figure excluding the many more buying at thousands of gun shows in states such as Virginia, without facing any checks.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:03:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let 'em. afaik Obama has no plans, so these gun-nuts are just getting poorer for no reason and making the gun manufacturers, who are bankrolling this panic, richer. A fool and their money ...

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A good friend works at a store that sells guns and has told me about the run on ammunition, in particular, going on for the past 6-8 months.  It's the main thing keeping the store in the black as some of their other sales are falling off for typical reasons.

The owners say that the same thing happened when Clinton was elected.  The only difference is that Clinton was elected on a gun control platform which he enacted.  The best part is that people bought up guns that were never banned and paid huge premiums for them.  

There is also a class of people who understand guns to be investments.  A semi-automatic rifle with a huge box of ammo never really loses its value.

by paving on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S.: Early Friction with New Israeli Govt
WASHINGTON, Apr 11 (IPS) - If the past week was any indication, the U.S.-Israeli relationship, which could scarcely have been smoother during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, appears headed for choppy waters.

Since taking office 10 days ago, the new government headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been slapped down - at least, rhetorically - by the two most senior members of the Barack Obama administration, including the president himself.

Other steps taken by the administration in the past week, particularly its vow to participate fully in multilateral talks with Iran on its nuclear programme "from now on", have bolstered the notion that Washington under Obama no longer sees eye to eye with the Jewish State, and especially its new right-wing leadership.

The latest developments come as the administration has given top priority to redressing the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, increasingly referred to as "AfPak", as part of an ambitious strategy whose ultimate goal is to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al Qaeda. Planning for the new strategy was overseen by Bruce Riedel, a former top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst on Middle and South Asia, who has long insisted that resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would go a long way toward reducing al Qaeda's appeal throughout the region.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:48:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq's Military Seeks to Muzzle Two News Groups - NYTimes.com

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi military put local journalists on notice on Monday that their organizations could be shut down for misquoting officials, while the Iraqi government accused the news media of deliberately seeking to promote sectarian strife.

The top military spokesman in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, said he was filing a lawsuit seeking to close the Baghdad offices of the newspaper Al Hayat, one of the most prominent in the Arab world, as well as Al Sharqiya television, a popular Iraqi satellite channel that has been a strong critic of the government. The lawsuit was announced on the Web site of the Baghdad Operations Command, which coordinates Iraqi security forces in the capital.

The National Media Center of the Council of Ministers on Monday criticized local, Arab and international news media for recent reports about government arrests of Awakening Council members, also called Sons of Iraq. "These attempts by some media to depict wanted persons as heroes targeted by security forces provoke hateful sectarian strife in order to damage Iraqi unity," the government statement said, adding that such reports "make us wonder about the true goals of these campaigns and the groups behind them."

General Atta claimed that the two media outlets falsely quoted him as reporting that the government would re-arrest detainees released by the Americans, and would distribute pictures of them to military and police checkpoints. "I haven't spoken to Al Hayat in six months," he said. Al Sharqiya apparently picked up the Al Hayat report.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:54:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama to Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions | 44 | washingtonpost.com

President Obama will announce today that he is lifting travel restrictions that block Cuban Americans from traveling to Cuba and will relax the rules governing what items can be sent to the island, a senior White House official said.

The decision does not lift the trade embargo on communist Cuba but eases the prohibitions that have restricted Cuban Americans from visiting their relatives and has limited what they can send back home.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:55:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He has undone the Bush rules.  There is talk about further opening but that will probably come later in the year.
by paving on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:54:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
amusingly it's also the right thing to do from an imperial standpoint.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 02:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - CENTRAL/S. ASIA - Sri Lanka forces suspend offensive

Sri Lanka's security forces have begun a two-day suspension of military operations against the Tamil Tiger rebels, intended to allow tens of thousands of trapped civilians to flee to safety.

Beginning on Monday, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, ordered his forces to suspend offensive operations during Sri Lanka's New Year celebrations.

Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman, said: "We have not fired and we have not received any fire so far from the other side."

But he also said that government troops had not reported any civilians leaving the remaining Tamil held territory since the lull in fighting began.

Rajapakse ordered the suspension in fighting after intense international pressure, including repeated calls from the United Nations and the US and protests held in cities across Europe.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 02:12:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:53:10 AM EST
EUbusiness: French against rose wine made by mixing red and white: poll
An overwhelming majority of 87 percent of French consumers are opposed to an EU scheme to allow a blend of red and white wines to be sold as rose, according to a poll to be published Sunday.

The poll found the rejection was across the board, with no difference between men and women or people living in the countryside or the Paris region.

But the older age group was the most vehemently against the proposal, with 95 percent of people polled aged over 65 saying they were opposed, against only 71 percent in the 18-24 age range.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:40:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is another* appalling sellout by the Commission to food industry lobbyists. Rosé wine is made by racking off the juice from the grapes before the skins and pips start colouring it darker red. It's a particular technique that produces a particular type of wine.

It doesn't matter to me if people are willing to drink red and white mixed, that's their business and it might even be quite nice stuff if the wines used are right. But allowing the trade to call it rosé is just handing them easy marketing money on a shovel.

Terms like these have evolved over generations of accumulated knowhow. The Commission is selling off Europe's birthright to a food industry that just wants more industrialisation, more processing, less regulation, more consumer ignorance.

* after "chocolate" and now the new, liberal and relaxed "organic label".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Umm, when the EU parliament and its advisory bodies are wholly bought and paid for by industry lobbies, any decision to favour those lobbies is more accurately described as predictable. Sellout would be if they actually did the right thing.

More scrutiny and accountability of the money is required. They cannot be allowed to set the rules nor the penalties for transgressions. But they're in charge and they know a gracy train when they see one.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:17:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Stuck in the past: Why is modern literature obsessed with history?
Contemporary novelists are so busy writing about the past, they're neglecting the times they live in. It's time to get real, argues Amanda Craig

When the star of The Wire,Dominic West,recently attacked Cranford-style adaptations of classic English novels by the BBC on its Today programme earlier this month, there was a collective sigh of relief. Not everyone is going to find The Wire as easy to watch as Cranford, and yet - how bored we are with bonnets and bustles!

This nostalgia-fest, which would be met with scornful laughter in art, or architecture, or theatre, is also rampant in literature. My latest novel is being published in the same month as AS Byatt, Hilary Mantel and Sarah Waters. All of these are very fine writers, and all, it so happens, have written period novels. Anyone who is interested in Tudor England, in Victorian England or in post-War England will probably be buying them, and all are pretty much guaranteed places on the bestseller charts and prize shortlists. Whereas I have set out to take the DNA of a Victorian novel - its spirit of realism, its strong plot, its cast of characters who are not passively shaped by circumstances but who rise to challenges or escape them - to write a big London novel about immigrants, legal and illegal, that is so up-to-the minute that journalists are asking me, a little suspiciously, how I knew the crash was coming.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 09:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As with the economy our cultures have been living in a fantasy land for a few decades, particularly the last 10 years.  People in fantasy land don't want to see anything that closely approximates their reality.  I for one welcome the return of the present.
by paving on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have said before that I think the explosion in Fantasy and historical literature co-incides with the rise of Thatcher and Reagan and a desire of the English speaking world to live in a fantasy golden age where everything can be solved by Magic or things were Mythically better. (I think TBG disagrees but thats just a vague memory)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 09:41:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC Local News: Flying checks made on insulation

A Cambridgeshire council has resorted to flying over people's homes with thermal imaging equipment to alert them to the amount of energy being wasted.

The data was gathered in March and will be available online later this year.
by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After the police have raided all the Maijuana factories.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 09:42:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Epigenetics: DNA Isn't Everything

ScienceDaily (Apr. 13, 2009) -- Research into epigenetics has shown that environmental factors affect characteristics of organisms. These changes are sometimes passed on to the offspring. ETH professor Renato Paro does not believe that this opposes Darwin's theory of evolution.

A certain laboratory strain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has white eyes. If the surrounding temperature of the embryos, which are normally nurtured at 25 degrees Celsius, is briefly raised to 37 degrees Celsius, the flies later hatch with red eyes. If these flies are again crossed, the following generations are partly red-eyed - without further temperature treatment - even though only white-eyed flies are expected according to the rules of genetics.

Environment affects inheritance

Researchers in a group led by Renato Paro, professor for Biosystems at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE), crossed the flies for six generations. In this experiment, they were able to prove that the temperature treatment changes the eye colour of this specific strain of fly, and that the treated individual flies pass on the change to their offspring over several generations. However, the DNA sequence for the gene responsible for eye colour was proven to remain the same for white-eyed parents and red-eyed offspring.

The concept of epigenetics offers an explanation for this result. Epigenetics examines the inheritance of characteristics that are not set out in the DNA sequence. For Paro, epigenetic mechanisms form an additional, paramount level of information to the genetic information of DNA.

Such phenomena could only be examined in a descriptive manner in the past. Today, it has been scientifically proven, which molecular structures are involved: important factors are the histones, a kind of packaging material for the DNA, in order to store DNA in an ordered and space-saving way. It is now clear that these proteins have additional roles to play. Depending on the chemical group they carry, if they are acetylated or methylated, they permanently activate or deactivate genes. New methods now allow researchers to sometimes directly show which genes have been activated or deactivated by the histones.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 01:44:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FOX News: Surgeons Find Tree Growing Inside Man's Lung

Surgeons in Russia thought they were going to remove a cancerous tumor from a 28-year-old patient - but instead they found a 5-centimeter tree growing inside his lung.

It happened in Russia's Urals region while doctors were operating on Artyom Sidorkin, the Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda Daily reported Monday.

Doctors suspected Sidorkin had cancer after he complained of extreme pain in his chest and had been coughing up blood.

"I blinked three times and thought I was seeing things," Surgeon Vladimir Kamashev told the newspaper.

Doctors believe Sidorkin somehow inhaled a seed, which later sprouted inside his lung.

The spruce, which was touching the man's capillaries and causing severe pain, was removed.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 04:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My mum always said if you ate the core of an apple it'd sprout and grow out the top of your head.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 05:19:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Urgh.  Maybe all those schoolyard tales about tomato seeds germinating in your nasal cavity and rooting in your brain had some basis...
by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 06:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Woooah, woooah!

"Core? Apple? Sprout? Head?"

Psychiatrist Kitteh asks: How does that make you feel?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 06:56:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian has doubts:
A spokeswoman for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, is flummoxed. "A seed might be able to germinate in the damp, dark conditions of a lung, but it's still bizarre," she says.

The gruesome photo released with the story claims to show the spruce jutting from a clump of Sidorkin's lung tissue. The plant looks firm and healthy, with bright green needles. It's as if it had been grown in the best soil with plenty of sunlight. It lacks roots in the way fresh clippings do.

Lungs are good at getting rid of unexpected visitors. They are lined with mucus that traps everything from mould spores to flies. This is pushed out of the lungs by tiny hairs called cilia. You end up coughing it out, or swallowing it.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 04:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WalesOnline - News - Politics - Politics News - Party aims to sack politicians and swap Senedd for a citizen's assembly

A NEW "apolitical" party was launched in Wales yesterday, hoping to draw support from those disillusioned with conventional politics.

Writer and philosopher Martin Davies, founder of the Red Dragonhood design label, announced the formation of Newid (Change) during the Laugharne Weekend festival in Carmarthenshire.

Mr Davies, from Swansea, said the new party intended to contest every constituency at the next National Assembly election in 2011, campaigning for the establishment of an independent Welsh "demarchy" - a progressive form of democracy that does away with politicians and political parties in favour of a nationally representative assembly of ordinary citizens.

If it won control, Newid would hold a referendum to gain approval for a written constitution that would set out the rights and responsibilities of every Welsh citizen. Armed with a constitutional mandate, it would renegotiate the national status of Wales with the UK Parliament. Then, having achieved its objectives, the party would disband to make way for a citizen's assembly.

In a demarchy, decision- makers are selected by lot from the whole adult population rather than by election. Everyone selected would be expected to serve for three months at their normal rate of pay with tenure of employment protected by law.

Mr Davies, who recently advocated a parallel Welsh currency that would depreciate in value to encourage consumer spending, said: "This will enable elections to be abolished, saving many millions that can be better spent on health or education, and political parties will no longer be relevant. The same system will be introduced in local authorities.

Martin is also a follower of Gesell's idea of a currency that "rusts" and is IMHO a generally good egg.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:37:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I don't think three months is long enough. It takes a long time to draft high quality - or just plain shoddy and poorly thought out - legislation, so a year might be more realistic.

There's the question which Metatone pointed out of who drafts the legislation.

But it's a positive idea in theory.

Somewhere in the last week - now lost in a post-Easter haze - there was a fascinating graph of voter demographics, which said, in short, that the 50s-70s are the most likely to vote.

This massively skews electoral democracy in a conservative direction. With forced equal representation for younger people, that would be very likely to change.

But they'd need to be motivated, and it's not obvious how many people would be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 08:16:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With forced equal representation for younger people, that would be very likely to change.

But they'd need to be motivated, and it's not obvious how many people would be.

SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL!  I'm part of that 50-70 demographic and it would work for me.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 12:10:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 07:53:45 AM EST
Times: Madoff baseball tickets to be sold on eBay

The trustee in charge of liquidating the assets of Bernard Madoff is planning to sell the jailed financier's New York Mets baseball season tickets on eBay, the internet auction site, to raise money for his victims.

The seats, which include a parking permit, are located in the second row behind the batter in the Delta Club Platinum section of the Met's new Citi Field Stadium, in Queens, New York.
by Sassafras on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is like Bear Stearns being sold off for less than the value of its headquarters...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 12:39:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The news is also taking a long weekend break, so there are some older analysis pieces mixed into today's salon. Thanks to everyone for the additions.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 03:24:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NASA rover resurrected twice over Easter weekend * The Register

In what could be an attempt to trump Jesus of Nazareth's record for divine Easter resurrections, NASA has said its Mars Exploration Rover Spirit mysteriously rebooted twice during the holiday weekend.

"While we don't have an explanation yet, we do know that Spirit's batteries are charged, the solar arrays are producing energy and temperatures are well within allowable ranges," said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a statement.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 13th, 2009 at 09:37:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, as long as NASA has not become part of an Obama Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 12:13:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In order to let amurkans get on with last minute tax preparations before tax day (national weapons payment day), and by no authority that i have or know of, i declare today on OT free day.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 12:07:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of course, what was actually meant was, hey where's the OT ( abit late) and loandbehold, there it was afew minutes later.  donkeyschoen.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Apr 14th, 2009 at 01:25:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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