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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 17 April

by Fran Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:19:08 PM EST

On this date in history:

1885 - Birth of Karen Blixen, a Danish author best known, at least in English, for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, and one of her stories, Babette's Feast, both of which have been adapted into highly acclaimed motion pictures. (d. 1962)

More here and here

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by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:19:59 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia 'ends Chechnya operation'

Russia has ended its decade-long "counter-terrorism operation" against separatist rebels in the southern republic of Chechnya, officials say.

The move aimed "to create conditions to further normalise the situation", the National Anti-terrorist Committee said.

Russian forces have fought two wars in the mainly Muslim republic since 1994.

Moscow says Chechnya has stabilised under its pro-Kremlin President, Ramzan Kadyrov, but human rights groups accuse his militias of widespread abuses.

"We received the news about cancelling the counter-terrorism operation with great satisfaction," Mr Kadyrov told Russia's Interfax news agency on Thursday.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia ends anti-terror regime in Chechnya | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 16.04.2009
Russia has ordered an end to its counterterrorism regime in Chechnya. That could mean the withdrawal of tens of thousands of troops from the republic which has suffered two separatist wars in the past 15 years. 

The cancellation was ordered by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and took effect Thursday morning, according to a statement from the National Anti-Terrorist Committee. A spokesman for the Committee, which has responsibility for the region, said the decision is aimed at further normalizing the situation there, and restoring and developing its economic and social infrastructure.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:27:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sauerland Cell in the Dock: Germany Prepares for Homegrown Terror Trial - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The members of the Sauerland cell who allegedly planned to bomb targets in Germany are about to go on trial. It looks like an open-and-shut case, but federal prosecutors want to prove that the defendants belong to a foreign terrorist organization -- an accusation that is based on dubious witnesses.

They won't be allowed to wear Islamic knit caps when they see each other again, that much is clear. They will also not be able to perform all their daily prayers as they are used to doing, at least not at the right times.

When Fritz Gelowicz, Daniel Schneider and Adem Yilmaz enter the courtroom on Wednesday next week, it will be the first time that they will have seen each other since that fateful Tuesday in September 2007, when the three young men from the German towns of Ulm, Neunkirchen and Langen became known overnight as the "Sauerland group," an alleged terror cell that investigators say was planning a horrific act: simultaneous car bomb attacks with as many victims as possible. "The world will burn," as one of the defendants reportedly said.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:22:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Race to Do Good Deeds: Economic Crisis Defines German Election - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Germany's Social Democrats will launch their election campaign Sunday. By steering to the left and attacking Angela Merkel, the party wants to score big with voters. Its strategy will also force the conservatives to inch leftward. In the midst of a global downturn in which stimulus is the buzzword of the day, economic prudence could take a backseat.

A woman holds up playing cards with caricatures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her opponent in this year's election, Foreign Minister Frank-Walther Steinmeier.

On Sunday, Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party plans to announce its manifesto for its campaign in the run-up to the country's Sept. 27 national election. Aides of the party's chancellor candidate, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, expect the foreign minister and deputy chancellor to "give a major speech." Like a boxer in the ring, Steinmeier will be standing alone in the middle of a ballroom, surrounded by 2,000 cheering guests, in a scene reminiscent of American presidential campaigns. His campaign managers apparently hope that some of the energy surrounding the 2008 campaign of US President Barack Obama will rub off on Steinmeier.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:23:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | EU acts to curb Italy milk scam

The EU's anti-fraud body Olaf has welcomed an Italian court ruling on a milk quota scam, which has paved the way for recovering millions of euros.

Olaf says Italian dairies have been avoiding paying fines imposed by the EU for exceeding annual milk quotas.

But the Italian Supreme Court ruled in January that the seizure of milk producers' assets worth 21m euros (£19m; $28m) was justified.

Some dairies had simulated transactions by using fake companies, Olaf says.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:23:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Europe - Poland's strength in Solidarity
Twenty years ago, Solidarity, Poland's underground trade union, was legalised in a process which ultimately helped lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Al Jazeera's Mark Seddon looks at the roots of the organisation and how present-day Poland is weathering the global recession.

Two decades on from the legalisation of Solidarity and the fall of Communism, something is stirring in Poland. 

Those former Eastern-bloc countries who embraced the free market with greatest enthusiasm, such as Hungary, Estonia and Latvia, now face a deepening economic crisis as the cold winds of global recession sweep through their economies.

Poland on the other hand, as one of the countries who either have not or could not take on the free market model with such enthusiasm, appears to be bearing up well.

While Poland's economy is set to slow next year, it will grow faster than that of the European Union as a whole.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French fishermen blockading English Channel offered €4m - EUobserver

French agriculture and fisheries minister Michel Barnier announced Thursday (16 April) that his government is ready to release some €4 million to appease fishermen whose blockade of English Channel ports has now entered its third day.

Early on Thursday morning the minister issued a communique offering the funds after more than four hours of negotiations with the fishermen in Paris, according to French media reports.

The blockaders say that small-scale fishing is dying

Mr Barnier is also to request that the European commissioner for fisheries, Joe Borg meet with himself and representatives of the French fishermen, according to domestic daily Le Figaro.

The fishermen have blocked the ports of Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk to protest EU fishing quotas, notably of cod and sole in the English Channel and the North Sea. They say that the quotas are too low and that small-scale fishing is dying while fish stocks are robust.

The French minister however has refused to touch the quotas, despite the offer of compensation.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:25:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moldova welcome at EU summit despite crackdown - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A special gathering of MEPs together with the Romanian foreign minister in Brussels on Wednesday (15 April) said Moldova should be invited to an EU summit for eastern partners, despite recent violence.

"The EU will defend the rights of the democratic opposition, NGOs, those detained and killed in prison. On that we shall not compromise. But it is not through isolation that we can run our eastern policy," Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski said.

The 7 April protests: MEPs said a police crackdown should not see Moldova excluded from the summit

"The Eastern Partnership should project stability, the norms and values of the EU to its eastern vicinity. We don't see why it shouldn't include [problematic] countries," the Romanian minister, Cristian Diaconescu, added.

The European Parliament is likely to re-iterate the stance at its plenary session next week, in what could come as a blow to young opposition activists in Moldova who believe the EU has been too soft on Chisinau so far.

The Eastern Partnership summit in Prague on 7 May will see the EU upgrade relations with Moldova and five other post-Soviet countries, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Europe - Medvedev speaks to Kremlin critics

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, has added fuel to suggestions of a rift between himself and the country's prime minister by giving an interview to a newspaper that has been fiercely critical of Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev spoke to Novaya Gazeta, an opposition paper which has lost a number of staff in suspicious deaths, in his first newspaper interview since taking office in May last year.

In a clear contrast to the stance taken by Putin, Medvedev told the paper, in an interview published on Wednesday, that Russia did not need to restrict democracy to ensure stability.

"Stability and a prosperous life cannot in any way be set off against a set of political rights and freedoms," he said.

Putin had previously said democracy must be adapted to Russian political conditions.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:27:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The World from Berlin: Frankenfood Ban Is 'Neither Populism nor Panic-Mongering' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A German ban on genetically modified corn has found broad support in the German public, and protests against a patent on a strain of pig made headlines on Wednesday. German commentators wonder if this is just European technophobia or whether genes are a natural resource which no patent should restrain.

It's been a tough week in Germany for proponents of genetically engineered farm products. First Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner announced a ban on cultivating a strain of genetically modified (GM) corn. Then on Wednesday, demonstrations were held in the Bavarian capital of Munich and the Hessian capital of Wiesbaden against a patent on a breed of pig.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:28:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
GREECE: 'Culture of Control' Taking Over
ATHENS, Apr 16 (IPS) - The government of the right-wing New Democracy has announced massive security measures that legal experts warn can corrode social and political rights.

The explosion of politically motivated violence since the riots last December, and an increased criminality mostly provoked by social decline show how the character of Greek society has changed.

As media emphasises increased violence and insecurity, political leaders seem unable to maintain a stable, efficient and liberal system of social control.

Last month deputy interior minister Christos Markoyiannakis, who is responsible for public security, established a special police unit to coordinate anti-crime efforts. The ministry invited experts from the UK's Scotland Yard to advise local police on battling street violence and cracking down on radical leftist groups.

Earlier this month minister for justice Nikos Dendias announced further security measures. These include penalties for insulting state officials on duty, in view of the swearing police have had to put up with during riots. Wearing a hood while breaking the law will now invite increased penalties. The police will now make greater use surveillance equipment.
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe several of us warned that this would happen if the protests didn't begin to serve a purpose beyond nihilism.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 01:30:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What other purposes are there other than the ballot box? In democracies, that's where you make a difference.

Since the riots began, the governing party has dropped like a rock, and in the coming elections it will lose, and lose badly.

by Upstate NY on Mon Apr 20th, 2009 at 12:31:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain to become French constituency under Sarkozy plans - Telegraph
A groundbreaking plan to give Britain's burgeoning community of expatriate French people its own MP has been unveiled in Paris.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's government wants to see a United Kingdom deputy take a seat in the National Assembly, along with 10 other directly-elected representatives for other key geographical areas including Germany, the US and Latin America.

Britain has up to 400,000 resident French nationals and Mr Sarkozy travelled to London during the last election campaign having described it as "one of the great French cities".

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WSJ: Medvedev Chooses Critic for an Interview Debut

MOSCOW -- Dmitry Medvedev gave his first interview to a Russian newspaper as president, choosing a sharply critical publication whose staff has been targeted with murders and harassment.

Mr. Medvedev spoke with Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov on Monday for more than an hour at the president's residence outside Moscow. Topics ranged from democracy in Russia to the latest criminal trial of jailed oil and banking tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Mr. Medvedev's choice of Novaya Gazeta -- a paper that specializes in investigative journalism and has criticized the growth of Kremlin control over politics and media -- contrasts with the practice of Vladimir Putin, who generally blacklisted critical publications in his eight years as president. It appears to be Mr. Medvedev's latest effort to strike a liberal pose in the rarefied world of Kremlin politics.

Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said Mr. Medvedev chose to meet with Novaya Gazeta because after the deaths of journalists on its staff, "the president wanted to express his moral support. It was his initiative." She said Mr. Medvedev has decided to meet with newspapers more in the future.


Four of Novaya Gazeta's reporters have been murdered or died under mysterious circumstances over the past nine years, with the latest death in January. In 2006, Mr. Putin called the shooting death of the newspaper's reporter Anna Politkovskaya an "unacceptable crime that cannot go unpunished," but famously added that "her ability to influence political life in Russia was extremely insignificant."

Here's the interview, in English:

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 04:07:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks poemless.

President of Russia

MURATOV): I wanted to start with general issues, but some are more urgent. It might be better to cancel the election in Sochi rather than to imitate it Imitation is more cynical than abolition. Candidate Lebedev was barred from the election by a court, and candidate Nemtsov is kept away from campaigning.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I do not yet know who was expelled and how, but in any case a full-fledged political struggle is taking place in Sochi. It is good that different political forces are participating in it. In my opinion, many municipal elections suffer from monotony, a lack of interesting candidates, and as a result are uninteresting.

It is true that people almost always vote for intelligible politicians rather than popular stars, but the more striking these events are the better it is for our electoral system, for democracy in Russia.

Now regarding the specific circumstances: in every election there will always be candidates who lose, candidates that are taken off the ballot, and this is the case everywhere in the world.

But in general I believe that such public campaigns are good for democracy.

NOVAYA GAZETA: On April 15 you will host the Presidential Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council. I was glad to see that the members list includes intelligent and decent people. Alexander Auzan, Alexey Simonov, Svetlana Sorokina, Elena Panfilova, Igor Yurgens, Irina Yasina, and I have not listed them all. Do I understand that today civil society is more important to you then that of "plainclothes men"?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: You know, civil society is a category that we have not fully absorbed in Russia. Throughout the world civil society is the flip side of the state. The state is not only a political machine, it is also a form of organising life in society, one that is based on state power and relies on the law, while civil society is the human dimension of any state. Though its members are governed by state legislation they often act according to human laws that, incidentally, do not always have a legal form. Still quite recently, many people did not understand the words civil society. A state is more or less clear. But what is civil society? A society of citizens? So we are all citizens of our country. And now there is the understanding that civil society is an integral non-governmental institution in any state. An institution that provides feedback. The organisations of people who do not hold office, but are nevertheless actively involved in the life of their country.

Therefore meetings and contacts between the President and representatives of civil society are indispensable. Let me emphasise: these relations are not easy for any authority, because all members of civil society and representatives of human rights organisations have a huge number of issues to raise with the government and leaders. They have a lot of questions, and these are questions the authorities do not always want to answer. But that is why such contacts must be systematic, including contacts within the framework of the Council you mentioned. I expect that this will be an interesting conversation. It will likely be hard, but therein lies its value.

NOVAYA GAZETA: For a few years now there has been an unspoken contract between state and society (or, more precisely, the majority of society): the state provides a given level of comfort and well-being, and in exchange society remains loyal to the state.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: You mean "democracy in exchange for prosperity" or, say, "sausages in exchange for freedom"?

i can see why he and obama liked each other.

'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 Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 07:39:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No Reset With Russia - Moon of Alabama

Obama sent Clinton to Russia to Geneva present a 'reset' to the Russian foreign minister button where the Russian text, not even in Cyrillic letters, did not says 'reset' but 'overcharge'.

It now seems to me that this was not a gaffe or a mistake, but the real message:

Russia demanded on Thursday that NATO call off planned military exercises in Georgia, saying they could undermine its efforts to rebuild ties with the Western alliance.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 04:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This [NATO military exercises in Georgia] is stupid for several reasons.

Russia will not sit still and let NATO snub its nose a few miles from its borders. There will be a diplomatic price to pay for this and it will not be a small one. "You're sure your logistic lines to Afghanistan are safe?"

The pro-western opposition in Georgia today took to street for the eight day to oust the egomaniac and undemocratic Saakashvili. The EU is trying moderate a compromise solution. Holding the NATO exercise during this time will look like NATO is taking sides in the interior Georgian conflict, as future NATO membership is mainly a Saakashvili project.

This renews the false impression of backing from NATO for Georgia's and other small players adventures. A backing that as last year little war showed is in reality not there at all.

So who had this very great idea? If Clinton and Obama are serious about 'reset' it is now time to press the speed dial button to NATO and call this stupidity off.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 04:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 10:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the rest of the link I posted above, Moon of Alabama, which I did not post in full for copyright reasons.
by Fran on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 01:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If everyone posts a little is it ok?  :/  

Sorry if I broke rules.  I found your selection of text didn't exactly capture the point of the post.  But that's just because you were constrained by Rules and could not post more.

Problem with soundbites...  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 10:22:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Technology | Court jails Pirate Bay founders
A court in Sweden has jailed four men behind The Pirate Bay (TPB), the world's most high-profile file-sharing website, in a landmark case.

Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde were found guilty of breaking copyright law and were sentenced to a year in jail.

They were also ordered to pay $4.5m (£3m) in damages.

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 Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 08:52:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the story is just beginning imo. The punitive nature of these sentences will not sit will with many Nordic inhabitants, even though Nordic politicians may be chuffed - being out of touch with the mainstream on this issue.

As I understand it, after much reading, only a severe misinterpretation of Swedish Law could lead to these sentences. The Pirates will surely appeal and keep the issue in the media. The cowardly political appeasement toward the Global Entertainment Combines will come back to haunt the politicians.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 09:17:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:20:21 PM EST
MEPs to seek second pension bailout from taxpayers :: Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

The stark reality of the financial crash for the rest of us is going to be bucked by Euro-MPs.

Will MEPs brave political unpopularity to bailout their second pensions?

The European Parliament's powerful and secretive "bureau" has been struggling to plug a £106 million black hole in the fund that pays out a second pension perk to MEPs.

This generous pension perk is already two thirds funded by the taxpayer and predictably the public purse will "almost certainly" be raided to make up fund losses caused by the financial crash and dodgy investments.

The identities of the 478 MEPs who get the publicly funded second pension contributions worth over £12 million a year is a closely guarded secret - read more here.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Grahnlaw: European elections: Open letter to Europarties
About four weeks ago, Luc Van den Brande, President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), joined with his European Parliament counterpart Hans-Gert Pöttering in calling on local and regional representatives from across the EU to encourage citizens to vote in June's European elections. The headline of the press release was Van den Brande and Pöttering urge regional and local elected politicians to get involved in European elections. All 27 versions can be accessed here.

It is remarkable how few changes would be needed to make the text applicable to the political parties at European level, the so called Europarties.
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:30:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Julien Frisch: European Parliament elections 2009 (81): PES without vision and without tact
You know from previous posts that I like the way the Party of European Socialists (PES) has managed to develop a European campaign.

But when I see the open letter PES leader Poul Nyrup Rasmussen has written to "attack" the European Liberals and Democrats (ELDR) which start their European campaign today with an event in Brussels, I feel kind of lala.

The positions expressed in the letter may sound social democratic or socialist, but in general they sound rather anti-European and anti-EU.

This is what the European Socialists have to offer? Arguments against the European Union? Amazing. Where have they been over the last 20 years?
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:30:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is an excellent post by Julien Frisch

Julien Frisch: European Parliament elections 2009 (83): PES and ELDR start campaign fight with exchange of open letters

European Parliament elections 2009 (83): PES and ELDR start campaign fight with exchange of open letters Yesterday, the Party of European Socialist (PES) wrote an open letter to the European Liberals and Democrats (ELDR). Today, ELDR has answered with another open letter.

This is the first substantial exchange of political arguments I am aware of on the European level in this campaign.

It is the first time we get into something that is worth debating. And because it's not about me (although I had my say on the issues yesterday), let me just present you parts of the letters (PES in italic, ELDR in blockquote) and make it a true exchange, without my comments interfering. I have erased some lines, to make it not too long, but don't hesitate to read the integral versions that are linked above!

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 Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 04:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:20:47 PM EST
Eurogroup chief predicts huge layoffs - EUobserver

The chairman of the 16-nation eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, has warned that job losses will escalate this year despite measures taken by EU leaders in recent months to boost the economy.

"There's a risk of mass layoffs by the end of the year," he said while addressing a conference in Brussels on Wednesday (15 April) organised by European trade unions.

Competition for jobs in the EU is set to rise this year as layoffs increase

Mr Juncker, who is also the prime minister of Luxembourg as well as chair of the eurogroup - the EU nations using the euro currency, urged world leaders to move ahead with reforms agreed at the recent G20 meeting in London, but said the EU may need to do more if current stimulus programmes prove insufficient.

"If by 2010, we see this is not enough, we will have to reconsider. Now to simply pour more resources in would be premature," he said.

However, he repeated the line iterated by many EU governments in recent months in the face of US calls for increased stimulus spending that a clear exit strategy is necessary.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | Plan to boost electric car sales

Motorists will be offered subsidies of up to £5,000 to encourage them to buy electric or plug-in hybrid cars under plans announced by the government.

It is part of the government's £250m plan to promote low carbon transport over the next five years.

But ministers do not expect the cars to hit the showrooms until 2011.

Car industry representatives welcomed the plan but critics said the government needed to invest more in public transport and renewable energy.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said that there was huge potential to reduce emissions, with less than 0.1% of the UK's 26 million cars now electric.

The strategy also includes plans to provide £20m for charging points and other necessary infrastructure.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:28:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boris offers mind coaching for City Hall staff made redundant | News

Boris Johnson is offering City Hall staff confidence-boosting classes as part of their redundancy packages.

The workshops, with titles such as Cresting The Curve, Create Your Own Luck and Me, have been set up in the wake of a jobs cull aimed at saving millions of pounds.

Posters advertising the sessions, which will cost the taxpayer £9,000, have appeared in lifts, and they are being publicised on the staff intranet.

At least 120 posts have been axed at City Hall, including half the environment team - the group in charge of London's bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Mayor wants to save about £7.5million from an £80million budget. Many of the cuts are of middle managers earning about £40,000.

Greater London Authority chiefs claim redundancy "coaching" will boost self-esteem and help those who have lost jobs find new ones.

But critics say the courses are little comfort for those made redundant.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:30:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boris Johnson is offering City Hall staff confidence-boosting classes as part of their redundancy packages.
Thereby adding insult to injury.  Talk about reports that self-satirize!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 09:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure most of them would prefer the 9 grand in their pockets.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 01:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPD mulls 300-euro rebate for German taxpayers | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 16.04.2009
Germany's Social Democrats are considering adding a 300-euro tax rebate to their bag of Bundestag election promises, a leading newspaper reported on Thursday. 

A report in the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the plan would see taxpayers, who do not have supplementary income in addition to their regular wage, receive the lump-sum payment in return for not filing a tax return.

The report also said that couples would be entitled to a 600-euro bonus and that all 30 million German taxpayers would be eligible for the payment. Around three billion euros - to be taken from a new stock exchange tax - would be made available for the bonus scheme.

An SPD spokesman described the reports on Thursday as speculation and said that no firm decisions had been taken on the matter.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:31:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Moral Order   Morris Berman  
The notion that there was a way of life characteristic of modern (or industrial) societies that was qualitatively different from the way of life found in pre-modern (or folk) societies goes back, at least, to the German sociologist Max Weber. Modern societies, said Weber, were governed by bureaucracy; the dominant ethos was one of "rationalization," whereby everything was mechanized, administered according to the dictates of scientific reason. Weber famously compared this situation to that of an "iron cage": there was no way the citizens of these societies could break free from their constraints. Pre-modern societies, on the other hand, were permeated by animism, by a belief in magic and spirits, and governance came not through bureaucracy but through the charisma of gifted leaders. The decline of magic that accompanied the transition to modernity Weber called die Entzauberung der Welt-the disenchantment of the world.


Indeed, for all one can say about the scientific inaccuracy of the pre-modern world, at least it was imbued with meaning. This is not the case with the modern industrial-corporate-consumer state, which expands technologically and economically, but to no other end than expansion itself. As the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote over a century ago, if you make money the center of your value system, then finally you have no value system, because money is not a value. All of these writers (a list that includes Franz Boas, Arthur Koestler, Jacques Ellul, and Lewis Mumford, inter alia) were pessimistic because they could see no way of reversing the direction of historical development. It was obvious that as time went on, the technical order was not merely overtaking the moral order, but actually obliterating it. This loss of meaning does much to account for the rise of the secular-religious movements of the twentieth century, including Communism, Fascism, Existentialism, Postmodernism, and so on. It also accounts for the depth and extent of fundamentalist Christianity in the United States. For there is no real meaning in the corporate-consumer state, which is at once empty and idiotic. On some level, everybody knows this.

We might, then, characterize the crashes of 1929 and 2008 as spiritual rather than strictly economic in nature. John Maynard Keynes saw the fluctuations of the stock market as being governed by human psychology, i.e. by faith and fear. So while in the case of both crashes, one can point to financial "bubbles" and hyperinflated investments, the core of meaninglessness at the center of the consumer-driven economy means that a boom-and-bust cycle is inevitable. In the case of the Depression, it took a war-which involved a huge mobilization of Meaning-to pull us out of it. At the present time, the situation is very different: American wars are now neo-colonial and self-destructive, a drain on the economy. They can only make the situation worse. Hence, the U.S. government has turned to massive bailouts of financial institutions as a solution, but this is analogous to putting band aids on the body of a cancer patient: the core of the problem remains untouched.

And what is the core of the problem? Basically, that the technical order is meaningless; that the American Way of Life finally has no moral center. Indeed, I doubt whether it ever did. In Freedom Just Around the Corner, historian Walter McDougall characterizes the United States as a "nation of hustlers," going back to its earliest days. What began as trade and opportunism finally issued out into a full-blown crisis of meaning, and it is this that now constitutes the crisis of late capitalism.


There is no record of a dying civilization reassessing its values (or lack of values, in our case) and altering its trajectory. Whether the type of moral order that Professor Barber imagines, (Idealism becoming the new realism), can ever become a reality somewhere on the planet is certainly worth debating. But what is not worth debating is whether such a moral order might make an appearance on American soil. History is about many things, but one thing it is not about is miracles.

 Hat tip to melo for pointing me to Berman's site.  While some might find Berman suspect for having taught at Catholic universities and written on the history of religion, and despite his seeming neo-Spenglerianism, I find I cannot dismiss his erudition and scholarship or the reasons for his pessimism.  In his several posts I have read I find too many familiar sources and arguments.  I finally decided that Economy & Finance was as good a place to post this as any other.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 12:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.  Wm. Wordsworth

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 12:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very apt choice!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 01:58:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Moral Order  The missing link.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 12:16:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:21:03 PM EST
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Millions of Indians go to polls

Indians are voting in the first round of the country's 15th general elections.

Voters in 124 constituencies are taking part in the ballot. There has so far been a steady turnout, marred by several attacks from Maoist insurgents.

More than 700 million Indians overall are eligible to vote for seats in the lower house of parliament.

The incumbent Congress-led coalition government is facing a challenge from the main opposition BJP-led alliance.

The two main blocs are also competing against a "third front" of communist and regional parties in a poll that is too close to call.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:24:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Local Issues Dominate as India Votes - NYTimes.com

HYDERABAD, India -- India began voting Thursday in one of the country's messiest elections in recent years, with no reliable forecast of who would prevail in campaigns that stressed hyper-local issues rather than the overall direction of the country.

Neither the governing Indian National Congress or the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to prevail without making deals with a host of ambitious smaller party bosses, who are expected to drive hard bargains for a shot at power.

With more than 714 million people eligible to vote, Indians are due to go to the polls over the next four weeks to elect 543 members of Parliament. Results are to be announced on May 16. Initial reports from the Central Election Commission indicated turnouts as high as 86 percent in some places, even in scorching heat.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coast Guard for Africa: Report Offers Recipe for Stopping Piracy - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A new Danish report provides a fresh proposal for halting the wave of piracy off the coast of Somalia that has plagued global shipping channels. It calls for the establishment of a coast guard that would stretch across the Greater Horn of Africa. The method, the think tank argues, has been successful in southeast Asia.

Could a pan-African coast guard help stop the plague of piracy around the Horn of Africa? The Danish Institute for Military Studies (DIMS) has concluded in a new report that the best way to stop piracy off the coast of Somalia would be to introduce a regional coast guard that would operate from Egypt in the north to Tanzania in the south.

The report, which is to be presented at an international conference in London on April 27, suggests that the countries around the Horn of Africa cooperate in a regional coast guard.

"This coast guard service should address piracy, rescue operations, fishing inspection and environmental protection," DIMS Researcher Lars Bangert Struwe told politiken.dk.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Admin: CIA Officials Won't Be Prosecuted For Waterboarding

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is telling CIA officials who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects that they won't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Senior administration officials told The Associated Press that Attorney General Eric Holder will release a statement Thursday giving the first definitive assurance to the CIA officials that they are legally in the clear.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:36:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DOJ Releases Controversial Torture Memos - ABC News
Months after Sept. 11, 2001, a top Bush administration lawyer authorized the CIA to use interrogation techniques such as the water board, attention grab, sleep deprivation and cramped confinement, finding that the techniques could be used because there was "no specific intent to inflict severe mental pain or suffering."

Such details emerged today as the Justice Department released pages of legal memos from the Bush administration as a part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by the ACLU.

The Obama admin's argument for giving the CIA torturers a free pass is, basically, that they acted "on good faith". Only following orders.

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 02:46:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
apparently the idea is that cos it was authorised by the White house, it was okay. Afaik, the nazi death camps were authorised by the govermnet, but that didn't stop anyone suggesting that they were okay. Crimes against humanity don't stop being crimes just cos some government decides that simple humanity is beyond them.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 01:39:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Texas Gov. Rick Perry Contemplates Secession | TPMDC

As they struggle to find political footing, rump Republicans, (even the formerly mainstream among them) are beginning to dabble in right wing extremism. That's not hyperbole. Indeed, you need look no further than Texas Gov Rick Perry, who seems to have gotten a bit carried away yesterday at a Tea Party Protest in Austin. "We've got a great union," Perry said, "There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it."

But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

This comes less than a week after Perry appeared with sponsors and supporters of a Texas House resolution affirming the state's claim of sovereignty under the 10th Amendment. "I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state," Gov. Perry said.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is an excellent idea!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:38:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to do whatever I can to support this idea.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously, what does it say when George W Bush is the voice of reason in the Republican Party?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 07:28:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It means that this is an excellent opportunity for a Progressive Party to step forth in competition with the Dems and let the Repubs wither away.  If Obama can make it to the White House, literally anything is possible.  Now is the time.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 11:32:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now Georgia is talking about seceding!

Georgia Senate threatens to secede

What do they plan on fighting with, peaches? Mind you, this comes on yesterday's threat by the GOP governor of Texas to secede as well.

Of course, what's really going on here is that Republicans are intentionally fanning the flames of violence because they've been out of power for a grand total of 100 days. They began pushing their followers towards violence during the presidential campaign, and have actually increased the inflammatory language over the past few months. Culminating, today, with a call for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to no longer investigate known domestic terror threats.


Last November RIA Novosti ran this: Russian analyst predicts decline and breakup of U.S.

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."
He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

I'm pretty sure this is the same fellow who thinks Putin will become Prince of the post-Soviet space.


"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 05:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vermont is ahead of them on this...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 05:12:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe Alaska has a movement afoot as well.  They'll never do it though.  The minute they quit, the Great Russo-Canadskii War will commence, and they'll soon be run by Moscow.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 05:17:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So much for my idea of getting the fuck out of Washington and going back to ATL. :\

Okay, fine, but we get the Austinites and all the black folks and Latinos.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 06:45:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, what's really going on here is that Republicans are intentionally fanning the flames of violence because they've been out of power for a grand total of 100 days.
Sounds like the Spanish righ-wing after they lost in 2004. Luckily, in Spain we have gun control.

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 Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 05:45:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am 110% in favor of this.  Texas wants to secede?  Holy shit, where do we sign?

Only problem for Rick Perry: I'm pretty sure Obama's more popular in his state than he is.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 06:47:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Once they secede they could join NAFTA.  Or they could exercise the option of breaking into five different states, but as an independent nation again.  With its physical size less of a problem they could then consider union with Mexico.  In a few more decades they may well have a majority of Hispanic descent.  The possibilities are endless.

But the most likely outcome of all of this is the election of a Democrat as the next governor.  This only plays well to the lunatic base of the Republican Party, long may they flail ever onward.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 09:40:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The sad part isn't that Texas might - the sad part is that Texas won't.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 05:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Latin America tells Chavez not to confront Obama - Telegraph
Latin American leaders have told Venezuela's Hugo Chavez not to confront Barack Obama at a major summit marking the US President's first encounter with the region.

There is concern the volatile leader is planning to grab the headlines at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, which starts on Friday, with a grandstanding attack on the US embargo on Cuba, or a personal insult towards Mr Obama at what will be their first meeting.

The self-styled champion of anti-Americanism has made some conciliatory noises towards the new White House occupant, but alarm bells started ringing when Mr Chavez recently called Mr Obama an "ignoramus" for accusing Venezuela of supporting Farc, the Columbian rebel group listed as a terrorist organisation by the US and the European Union.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Associated Press: Venezuela opposes Americas Summit declaration

CUMANA, Venezuela (AP) -- President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that Venezuela will vote against the declaration of the Summit of the Americas in a gesture of protest against the United States.

The summit, which begins Friday, brings together all 34 members of the Organization of American States. But Chavez said it reinforces a U.S. foreign policy that treats the rest of Latin America as subservient to Washington's interests.

The socialist leader criticized a clause in the draft declaration of the Americas Summit referring to democracy, saying such language should not be used to exclude Cuba.

"Where is there more democracy, in the United States or in Cuba?" he said. "I have no doubt -- there's more democracy in Cuba."

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 02:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That whole article brings interesting points.

Venezuela and other members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Nations of Our America, or ALBA, also plan to lessen reliance on the U.S. dollar by establishing a common currency, the sucre, for trade purposes. The leaders signed an agreement creating what Chavez said will be a "virtual currency" for trade.

Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, also said the eastern Caribbean island chain wants to join the ALBA. "All that needs to be done is sign the documents," he said.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 02:51:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Unveils High-Speed Rail Plan
By Brian Knowlton, New York Times

President Barack Obama on Thursday highlighted his ambition for the development of high-speed passenger rail lines in at least 10 regions, expressing confidence in the future of train travel even as he acknowledged that the American rail network, compared to the rest of the world's, remains a caboose...

"What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century," he said, "a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility, a system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity, a system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs."

And he added, "There's no reason why we can't do this." ...

The government has identified 10 corridors of 100 to 600 miles in length with greatest promise for high-speed development.

They are: a northern New England line; an Empire line running east to west in New York State; a Keystone corridor running laterally through Pennsylvania; a southeast network connecting the District of Columbia to Florida and the Gulf Coast; a Gulf Coast line extending from eastern Texas to western Alabama; a corridor in central and southern Florida; a Texas-to-Oklahoma line; a California corridor where voters have already approved a line that will allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours; and a corridor in the Pacific Northwest.

Only one high-speed line is now operating, on the Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston, and it will be eligible to compete for funds to make improvements.

by Magnifico on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 04:26:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In some countries, they try to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes. In California, on they other hand, they build them artificially:

Neglected pools become breeding grounds for disease in the US | Guardian | 16.4.09

Pool owners and their neighbours may be swatting more mosquitoes this summer as financially strapped homeowners cut swimming-pool maintenance from their budgets.

People are turning off pool pumps and filters, buying fewer chemicals and cancelling pool services, mosquito-control officials say.

As a result, more pools have turned green and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, including those that carry West Nile virus.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 06:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're not going to maintain your pool, empty it and/or cover 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 Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 06:29:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The biggest problem is with homes that have been abandoned.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 09:41:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Smoke, mirrors and lies in Thailand
The exiled Thaksin and his in-country media operatives had before the recent street chaos achieved some success in selling to international audiences their UDD movement as a pro-democracy cause. They have consistently claimed Abhisit's elected coalition government was installed by behind-the-scenes military maneuvering and that a wider aristocracy has long retarded Thailand's democratic development.

That message has been dutifully perpetuated by Thaksin's foreign media advisors, including the Hong Kong-based Samuel Moon, who claims on Thaksin's Building a Better Future Foundation's website to have worked for the Economist, Dow Jones and, through his own company, in partnership with Businessweek. Certain of those media groups have shown strong editorial sympathy for Thaksin's supposed democratic cause.

One UDD organizer told this reporter that he had "virtually written" The Economist's critical cover story about the Thai monarchy, which was banned by authorities from entering Thailand. The same source had previously worked as a fixer for foreign broadcasters in Thailand, including al-Jazeera, and has been in consistent contact with Asia Times Online to provide the UDD's side of breaking news events.


Longer-term observers have rightly couched Thaksin's pro-democracy claims within the former leader's established anti-democratic history, including his propensities for cracking down on the press, bypassing parliamentary processes and undermining the independent checking and balancing institutions by the 1997 constitution he and his supporters now claim to promote. Thailand's conflict is more accurately portrayed as a struggle between competing elites, both able to mobilize disruptive masses to their political calls, jockeying for position ahead of an uncertain royal succession.  (My bold.)

The entire article is well worth a read.  The bragging, unconsciously self condemning comments by Thaksin's media consultants sound about right.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 11:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | Police 'stop attempt on Morales'

Bolivia's President Evo Morales says three foreigners have been killed after he ordered police to thwart a planned assassination attempt against him.

Security forces killed three alleged international mercenaries in the city of Santa Cruz, Mr Morales said.

He said intelligence reports had warned of an assassination plot by a group comprising foreign attackers.

Arriving in Venezuela for a summit, Mr Morales said two people had been arrested over the alleged plot.

...There were conflicting reports about the nationalities of those killed, with some reports saying they were from Hungary while others said they were from Romania and Ireland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 01:40:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The speculations in Hungarian media threw up one illustrious name as potential victim: Eduardo Rózsa-Flores. That would be a fitting end to a very strange life.

Rózsa-Flores is a son of Hungarian communist Jews who fled to South America from the Nazis. All of them (parents, child) was involved in the movements supporting President Allende of Chile. So after Pinochet's coup, they were among those put on a plane to Europe; they returned to Hungary.

Young Rózsa-Flores ended up in a special unit of the border guards; he was one of the minders of Carlos the Jackal when he used Budapest as a hideout. Still a faithful communist, he fell out with his commmanders, and became a journalist during the 1989-90 changes.

Then, covering the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars, he saw the operations of the JNA. Then he finally broke with communism, only to swing the other way. He decided he doesn't want to stay an observer anymore, and became a mercenary for the Croatian army.

Later, he though he'll search his roots in Israel, but came awaywith hate seeing the treatment of Palestinians. This led him straight into the open arms of the anti-Semitic Hungarian far-right (yes, you read that right).

In 2001, a film titled Chico was made about his life (thankfully excluding his then new far-right endeavours), in which he played himself remarkably well.

From supporting Allende to plotting a murder on Moráles, would be coming a full circle (if the rumour will be confirmed).

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 03:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Based on reports in Bolovian media, it's almost certain that not only was Rózsa Flores among the killed, but he must have led them, as the other four (two killed & two arrested) were under his command in the Croatian International Brigade.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 03:27:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:21:25 PM EST
Tibet in Exile | A Green Evolution
Farming for the Future

Upon settling in South India, the refugees--many of whom were herders or nomads in Tibet--shifted to an agrarian lifestyle. Blessed with fertility and monsoon rains, the land was well suited for cultivation. The settlement farmers adopted the modern agricultural practices prevalent in the 1960s, focusing on the intensive cultivation of a few cereal crops, most notably maize. However, without diversification or crop rotation, this type of monocropping, combined with the overuse of water resources and chemical fertilizers and pesticides, led to a precipitous decline in soil fertility and crop yields. Meanwhile, the farmers became strained by rising costs of production. After four decades, it became evident that conventional farming practices were neither environmentally nor economically sustainable--but the farmers saw no other path to follow.

In 2002, the Central Tibetan Administration adopted a pivotal policy introducing organic farming methods to the settlements. Drawing inspiration from Gandhi's concept of rural self-sufficiency and the Dalai Lama's vision of Tibetan enclaves as sanctuaries of ahimsa, or non-violence, the policy seeks to transform the settlements into paradigms of sustainable agriculture.

The Dalai Lama has long championed the principle of ahimsa as the ultimate expression of compassion. He teaches that respect for the earth and environmental protection are vital practices of ahimsa, and therefore part of humanity's universal responsibility. "Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful," he writes in My Tibet. "Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we now know is the case only if we care for it. It is essential to reexamine what we've inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations." Encouraging environmental stewardship in the settlements, the Dalai Lama endorsed the CTA's organic farming policy.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:23:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India - Asia, World - The Independent

Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.

The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.

"The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago," Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine

"Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well."

Mr Sahu lives in a district that recorded 206 farmer suicides last year. Police records for the district add that many deaths occur due to debt and economic distress.

In another village nearby, Beturam Sahu, who owned two acres of land was among those who committed suicide. His crop is yet to be harvested, but his son Lakhnu left to take up a job as a manual labourer.

His family must repay a debt of £400 and the crop this year is poor.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hereditary debt!  Can't complain about any lack of respect for legal obligations of debtors in India, at least amongst the poor.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 10:19:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
....and to my beloved wife Wanda, I leave my credit card bill.....to my brother Fred I leave the hire purchase on the car.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 08:22:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it hereditary debt? It's hard to tell from the article whether it's that, or simply that his land was collateral for the loan, in which case the heirs would either have to pay back the loan, or lose their inheritance. That would be no different from what would happen in more "advanced" countries.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Apr 17th, 2009 at 10:03:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DARK AGES AMERICA -- Blog for Morris Berman
If Japan managed to exploit the chump factor in American foreign policy quite brilliantly, China can be said to have elevated the rope-a-dope technique to an art. Fingleton points out that the belief in Washington (following the mythology of universal democracy) has been, for many years now, that as China prospers it will become more democratic. China lets the U.S. believe whatever it wants, but the truth is just the opposite: China is getting rich because it is authoritarian, because it is opposed to Western values and to the notion of a laissez-faire market economy. The Chinese economic system is rather one of state capitalism run by iron bureaucratic control, and involving a labyrinthine system of trade barriers, an artificially undervalued currency, and widespread institutionalized bribery-a "shark tank," as one China-watcher has called it. Writing in Newsweek magazine (19 January 2009), Rana Foroohar says that this is a place "where the state doctors statistics, manipulates the stock markets, fixes prices in key industries, owns many strategic industries outright, and staffs key bank posts with Communist Party members." While pundits such as Thomas Friedman and Francis Fukuyama continue to believe that Western logic is universal and will eventually sweep the world, and the Wall Street Journal proclaims that the Asian nations are "racing to build an American-style consumer economy," the Chinese use this kind of American self-deception as a cover for their own non-Western agenda. For Chinese society follows a very different set of rules, ones partly derived from Confucius, in which ideology counts for nothing and results count for everything. In this system, the end justifies the means all the time; "truth" is not a matter of great concern. In the Confucian scheme of things, the "truth" is merely contextual-you just say what is appropriate in the circumstances, not what actually is the case. This is what, from a Western point of view, would be called amoral, but the Chinese see it as simply pragmatic. Deng Xiaoping, who was the de facto leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 to the early 1990s, captured the attitude succinctly when he remarked, "It doesn't matter if a cat is white or black, as long as it catches the mouse." As for the masses, they are expected to exhibit obedience, loyalty, and self-sacrifice; nothing more. The key concept is "harmony"-true of Japanese society as well.

'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 Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 06:53:05 PM EST
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Paul Krugman: Reconsidering a miracle

In short, how much of the apparent US productivity miracle, a miracle not shared by Europe, was a statistical illusion created by our bloated finance industry?

You're clearly a dangerous pinko commie pragmatist.
by Vagulus on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 07:28:50 PM EST
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The Goldman rules for mastering the universe | Matthew Syed - Times Online
Behind a set of glass doors in what used to be the Daily Express building in Fleet Street, and along the way in the former Daily Telegraph building, are the main European offices of the most feared, revered and secretive investment bank on the planet. It has been described as a 21st-century cult and as the Rolls-Royce of financial institutions. It is the place where every sharp-dressed, hard-edged graduate longs to work, not least because the best and brightest are promoted so fast that their noses bleed. It is called Goldman Sachs.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 09:43:10 PM EST
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by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:21:44 PM EST
France 24 | Novelist Maurice Druon dies aged 90 | France 24
Novelist Maurice Druon dies aged 90

AFP - Maurice Druon, the prominent novelist and member of the French Academy, the pre-eminent body on the French language, died on Tuesday at the age of 90, the academy said.
Druon died at his home, the academy's permanent secretary Helene Carrere d'Encausse told AFP, without elaborating.
Born in Paris on April 23, 1918 to a Russian father, Druon was a prolific writer who was elected to the French Academy in 1966 at the age of 48.

by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:26:24 PM EST
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Saluting Maurice Druon, French Resistance hero and defender of language - Times Online

The strains of the French Resistance anthem filled the air yesterday as the country paid tribute to its author, Maurice Druon, a Second World War hero, writer and Anglophile who became the defender-in-chief of the French language.

Mr Druon, who broadcast to France from wartime London, died on Tuesday just short of his 91st birthday.

President Sarkozy, whose colloqial French appalled Mr Druon, paid tribute to him as "a great writer, Resistance fighter, political figure, wordsmith and a great spirit".

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:26:39 PM EST
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Sarkozy snipes at 'dim' Spanish PM and German Chancellor - Times Online

After attempting to remove the gloss from Barack Obama, President Sarkozy of France upset Spain today by suggesting that Jose-Luis Zapatero, the Prime Minister, was a little dim.

Mr Sarkozy's latest put-down of fellow leaders emerged from a Wednesday lunch meeting with MPs at which he again boasted of what he sees as his pivotal role in the G20 summit. He cast President Obama as inexperienced and ineffectual - a line that he has taken in private since the the London meeting and the Nato gathering in Strasbourg that followed it.

Mr Sarkozy noted that Spain's Socialist government had just announced the end of advertising on state television, a year after Mr Sarkozy did the same for France.

"And you know who they cited as the example?" he asked the 24 MPs around his lunch table at the Elysée Palace, according to an account in the Libération newspaper.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:33:58 PM EST
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Somehow the stories of Secession Texas, Sarko the Boastful, and  an inevitable open governorship in the future, would suggest a win-win solution for all.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 03:44:44 PM EST
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And given Sarko's reportedly horrible command of the English language, he would fit right in as the governor of Texas, in light of one of its former office-holders...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 04:23:01 PM EST
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Green MP François de Rugy attended that lunch meeting with Sarkozy, and he confirms in his blog [fr] that the Liberation article is factual. The gaffe about Zapatero seems to be collateral damage of a Sarkozy barb (fragmentation mine?) against the French Socialist party: he may not be as smart as you, but he does win elections.

You're clearly a dangerous pinko commie pragmatist.
by Vagulus on Thu Apr 16th, 2009 at 07:20:09 PM EST
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