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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 11 March

by Fran Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:00:41 PM EST

On this date in history:

1947 - Tristan Murail, a French composer associated with the "spectral" technique of composition, was born.

More here and video

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by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:01:16 PM EST
Policeman Killed in Growing Northern Ireland Violence | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.03.2009
A policeman has been shot dead in Northern Ireland two days after the killing of two British soldiers in an escalation of violence that has raised fears about the region's political stability. 

The on-duty officer was shot in the head in Craigavon, 20 miles (32 kilometres) southwest of Belfast, late Monday, police said. It's the first killing of a policeman in Northern Ireland for a decade.

Sir Hugh, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said it was too early to identify the killers.

News agency AFP reported that the officer was killed in an apparent ambush. Following a callout to an incident near a nationalist republican area, two police cars raced to the scene, the agency said. Gunmen lying in wait opened fire as the officers stepped out of one of the vehicles, according to AFP.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:04:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biden Meets NATO Allies for Talks on Afghanistan | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.03.2009
US Vice President Joe Biden meets NATO allies and European officials in Brussels on Tuesday for talks about international efforts to step up the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

US Vice President Joe Biden is to consult NATO allies on Tuesday, March 10 as President Barack Obama focuses on a fresh strategy to fight the insurgency in Afghanistan with more international support.

Biden, who met several European leaders at a security conference in Munich in February, arrived in Brussels Monday. He will spend Tuesday meeting EU officials and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

"It's just an indication of the seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan, but I think it's also a recognition of the seriousness with which we take this," a senior Obama administration official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biden asks Europeans for help in Afghanistan - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - US vice-president Joseph Biden on Tuesday (10 March) renewed pleas for more European involvement in Afghanistan, with EU counterparts relieved he was not insisting so much on troops, but civilian assistance.

"I know the people of Europe, like the people of my country, are tired of war, and they are tired of this war [in Afghanistan]," he said at a press conference following his meeting with Nato ambassadors.

US vice-president Joseph Biden stressed the 'crucial' role of the EU and Nato in Afghanistan

"But we know that it was from the space that joins Afghanistan and Pakistan that the attacks of 9/11 occurred. We know that it was from the very same area that extremists planned virtually every major terrorist attack on Europe since 9/11, and the attack on Mumbai," Mr Biden continued

The 55,100-strong Nato mission in Afghanistan faces a major shift of policy with President Barack Obama expected to mount a review and produce new proposals ready for the alliance's summit on 2-4 April.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Competing Visions: What Does Berlin Want in Afghanistan? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

US President Barack Obama is looking to completely revamp America's strategy in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Germany prefers not to talk about the conflict. That reluctance could soon lead to a fundamental misunderstanding between Berlin and Washington.

There are now two countries called Afghanistan, and they couldn't be more different. From Washington, Afghanistan looks like a place that has spun out of control. Germany, on the other hand, sees Afghanistan pursuing a promising path.

In the American version of Afghanistan, 650 US soldiers have already died, and the number of civilian casualties grew by 40 percent last year, to about 2,100. As an emergency first-aid measure, the number of US troops in the country is now being increased to 50,000.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the American version of Afghanistan, 650 US soldiers have already died, and the number of civilian casualties grew by 40 percent last year, to about 2,100. As an emergency first-aid measure, the number of US troops in the country is now being increased to 50,000.
Competing Visions: What Does Berlin Want in Afghanistan? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
But from Germany's standpoint, the situation in Afghanistan is not quite as grim. Although Berlin also plans to send an additional 600 soldiers to the country to help safeguard the upcoming election and protect its own personnel in Afghanistan, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung is quick to point to successes. He notes that almost seven million children are attending school in Afghanistan once again, and that "significant improvements" have been achieved in the water and electricity supply, as well as in road construction.
Might that have something to do with the different regions the various countries are in charge of? The US has Kabul and the South-East areas bordering the Pakistani "tribal border region". The Germans have what used to be the turf of the Northern Alliance...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:47:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Big in Brussels: How Verheugen Is Winning Praise in Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

While distrust of Germany is growing, a German official, of all people, is trying to steer Europe out of the crisis. European Union Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen is suddenly garnering applause.

Europe's administrators, the "Commissioners," often dine high up on the 14th floor of the Berlaymont Building in Brussels, which houses the European Commission. When 64-year-old Günter Verheugen had lunch there last Wednesday, he was in high spirits.

Thousands of unsold cars are currently being stored at docks in Avonmouth, England. Speaking in praise of himself, he said that for weeks he had displayed "a firm hand and a cool head" while fighting for his plan to help Brussels find its own role in the economic crisis. That morning, the Commission had agreed on a plan that it now plans to present to the heads of state and government of the 27 member states when they come together for a summit meeting at the end of next week. Much of the plan bears Verheugen's handwriting. "I achieved everything I wanted," he says proudly.

Verheugen of the center-left Social Democratic Party -- the man former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder sent to EU headquarters 10 years ago to serve as a "super-commissioner" -- has not been this satisfied and self-confident in a long time. Just as the Germans' partiality for Europe was in decline, Verheugen's influence in Brussels had been on the wane. By the time he was photographed naked on a beach with a female advisor more than two years ago, he was widely viewed as politically washed up.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How to write 4 paragraphs and say nothing...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Crisis straining EU relations as 'never before', says UK foreign minister - EUobserver

The economic crisis is putting relations between EU member states under strain and testing the fundamentals of the European Union to an unprecedented extent, UK foreign secretary David Miliband has said.

"The sense of solidarity within Europe, between east and west, rich and poor, new and old is under strain," he said in a speech at the London School of Economics on Monday (9 March).

"The achievements of the last 30 years are being tested as never before," said David Miliband.

"The achievements of the last 30 years - from the single market and enlargement to the euro - are being tested as never before."

Mr Miliband, known for being strongly pro-European, also warned against a retreat in protectionism as a way of combating the global downturn, saying it would be a huge mistake and pleaded for more reform to keep Europe strong.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do cars and cows have in common? No, not horns - Times Online

Proposals to tax the flatulence of cows and other livestock have been denounced by farming groups in the Irish Republic and Denmark.

A cow tax of €13 per animal has been mooted in Ireland, while Denmark is discussing a levy as high as €80 per cow to offset the potential penalties each country faces from European Union legislation aimed at combating global warming.

The proposed levies are opposed vigorously by farming groups. The Irish Farmers' Association said that the cattle industry would move to South America to avoid EU taxes.

Livestock contribute 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The Danish Tax Commission estimates that a cow will emit four tonnes of methane a year in burps and flatulence, compared with 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide for an average car.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:11:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Under Obama's new "politics to be consistent with science" model, I would expect a new carbon tax program that includes cows.

Which reminds me of the question about what the non-gender-specific word for "cow" is, in English. Which I have brought up here before, and which I won't bring up again.

by asdf on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:40:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It appears to be cattle?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I went to the stock show and bought a cattle."
by asdf on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's cow, unless you specifically mean bull and need to specify. I think.

In the same way you'd say you'd bought a dog, even if she was a bitch.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:09:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
certain you're right.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bought a head of cattle...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:35:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:37:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might want to correct the Wikipedia articles...

Cattle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For general information about the genus, including other species of cattle, see Bos. "Cow" redirects here. For other uses, see Cow (disambiguation). For the mythology and lore connected with the bull, see Bull (mythology).

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:39:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cattle can only be used in the plural and not in the singular: it is a plurale tantum. Thus one may refer to "three cattle" or "some cattle", but not "one cattle".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:41:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I said one head of cattle.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you don't say that. It may be formally sayable (whatever that means in English), but I don't think one would ever say it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:43:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You'd say "bought a cow" or "bought a bull" or whatever.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because you would never buy cattle without regards to age and sex.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you don't know which you bought, you probably shouldn't be buying it.

So I might say that my uncle bought a cow, meaning that he bought something cow shaped with the right number of legs and I was pretty certain that it wasn't a horse or sheep. He'd be much more precise in his language: he'd say a cow or a bull or a bullock.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:45:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fine about the cows, excellent even, but what about this?

Campaign For Liberty -- HR 875 The food police, criminalizing organic farming and the backyard gardener, and violation of the 10th amendment

HR 875  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c111:1:./temp/~c1112RD9bb:e11439:  

This bill is sitting in committee and I am not sure when it is going to hit the floor.  One thing I do know is that very few of the Representatives have read it.  As usual they will vote on this based on what someone else is saying.  Urge your members to read the legislation and ask for opposition to this devastating legislation.  Devastating for everyday folks but great for factory farming ops like Monsanto, ADM, Sodexo and Tyson to name a few.

I have no doubt that this legislation was heavily influenced by lobbyists from huge food producers.  This legislation is so broad based that technically someone with a little backyard garden could get fined and have their property siezed.   It will effect anyone who produces food even if they do not sell but only consume it.  It will literally put all independent farmers and food producers out of business due to the huge amounts of money it will take to conform to factory farming methods.  If people choose to farm without industry standards such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers they will be subject to a vareity of harassment from this completely new agency that has never before existed.  That's right, a whole new government agency is being created just to police food, for our own protection of course.  

i had so hoped obama would push the food and farming issue to the forefront, but like this?

the total opposite would have been the way to go.

i guess you don't get to be prez unless you're willing to sup with the devil.

and i doubt it's organic...

first the banks, now monsanto?

'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 Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU parliament opposes creation of online gambling market - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - MEPs have by a huge majority voted against creating an EU-wide single market for online gambling, while branding the sector a risk-factor in fraud and addiction.

The European Parliament on Tuesday (10 March) by 544 votes against 36 supported a non-binding report into internet betting by Danish Socialist MEP Christel Schaldemose.

Traditional casino: everybody can bet from their own home with the advent of online gambling

The document urges member states to hold talks on a "political solution" to online gambling-related problems instead of calling for new legislation by the European Commission, which is invited only to produce research into the sector.

The report says EU countries should consider joint safety measures such as age limits, curbs on advertising and the introduction of pre-paid credit cards to be bought in kiosks to stop people from sinking themselves with excessive debt while, for example, drunk and alone by their laptop.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs have by a huge majority voted against creating an EU-wide single market for online gambling, while branding the sector a risk-factor in fraud and addiction.

Unintentional irony - a terrible, beautiful thing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain reiterates non-recognition of KosovoEUobserver
Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has repeated his country's opposition to recognising Kosovo. "Spain's position regarding the unilateral declaration of independence of the territory of Kosovo is the known position of non-recognition," he said, adding this would be "maintained in the future."
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bravo Spain!

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:12:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a disinterested position, but at least consistent (the Spanish government also doesn't like South Ossetia seceding from Georgia). Spain obviously doesn't want to be called duplicitous regarding a possible unilateral declaration of independence by the Basque Country.

None of this has anything to do with whether Serbia, Kosovo, Georgia, Ossetia, Spain or Euskadi are "right" in their positions in their respective conflicts.

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

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right or wrong?It's hard to judge.Who exactly is to make judgment in these matters???I am just talking what is LEGAL and Kosovo secession is NOT legal.So bravo Spain for underlining this fact!

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:06:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs see restricted role for future EU president - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - MEPs have approved a report calling for a narrow role for the future EU president, in stark contrast to the broad flag-carrying post that some member states have envisioned.

Deputies in the constitutional affairs committee on Monday (9 March) agreed that the president of the European Council - a new maximum five-year post foreseen under the Lisbon Treaty - should not speak for the EU as a whole on political issues.

MEPs are trying to make sure member states do not become too dominant in future EU decision-making

Instead the person should be restricted to representing the EU at leader level on common foreign and security (CSFP) issues. The EU's planned foreign minister would deal with CFSP issues at ministerial level and should be allowed to "conduct political negotiations in the name of the Union."

MEPs foresee a strong role for the European Commission president saying that this person would assume "the representation of the Union at the highest level in relation to the whole of the external relations of the Union," including specific areas such as foreign trade.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:20:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:01:41 PM EST
New French far left party to run solo in European elections - EUobserver

The French far left New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) launched its campaign for the European elections on Monday (9 March), refusing to join a united Left Front coalition made up of the Communist Party and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche), once again confirming the division of the French far left.

The Left Front (Front de Gauche) launched its campaign on Sunday, while another far left party, Workers' Struggle (Lutte Ouvriere) presented its candidates in mid-February.

Mr Besancenot - the New Anticapitalist Party's spokesperson

"It is not possible to present common lists," the NPA said at the launch of its campaign. Although committed to a regroupment of the far left parties, the NPA wants to ensure a clean break with the Socialist Party, which it accuses of adhering to 'neo-liberal' ideas. The other parties refused to say that they would not participate in a coalition government with the Sociaists.

The NPA was originally created a year ago, in February 2008, but its founding congress took place in February this year.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:06:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fianna Fail MEP says deal with Liberals not definite - EUobserver
Irish Fianna Fail MEP and head of the UEN group in the European Parliament Brian Crowley has said that no deal has been done on whether his party will join the Liberal faction. He told the Irish Times that FF disagrees with the Liberals on issues such as CAP reform and ethical issues, like abortion.
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:14:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Libertas enter EU elections in UK

A new political party aiming to "bring more democracy" to the EU has been launched in the UK and plans to fight every seat in June's European election.

Libertas, which campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty in an Irish referendum last year, said it would send a "clear message" the treaty was unacceptable.

Declan Ganley, the party's founder, has not ruled out standing but said he would not bankroll its efforts.

Libertas said it was "pro-European" and wanted to contest seats across the EU.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:18:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:02:12 PM EST
Germany's Bundesbank Posts Huge Profits for 2008 | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 10.03.2009
There's a check in the mail for the German government. That's after the Bundesbank -- the country's national bank -- posted 6.3 billion euros in profits for last year. But falling interest rates could bring a downturn. 

Bundesbank President Axel Weber announced the rise in profits at a news conference in Frankfurt am Main on Tuesday, March 10.


The bank, he said, had earned the equivalent of $8 billion in 2008 -- an increase of around 50 percent over the previous year.


"Despite the hefty increase in reserves, the Bundesbank's profits are markedly higher," Weber said.


The entire sum earned is being transferred to the federal government -- which is something of a novelty. In previous years, portions of the Bundesbank's earnings have had to be used to pay off debt from the former East Germany, but now that the debt is gone, the bank's profits will flow into state coffers.


by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:04:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am waiting for the howls of indignation from US NCEs.  This must be unfair somehow!  Imagine if the Fed actually contributed $75 Billion to the US Government for use in the annual budget.  It would be as if the moon left its orbit and the tides ceased to rise and fall.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 11:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU set for bruising G20 encounter with US - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A new policy divide appears to be opening up between the EU and the US over the extent stimulus spending programmes should be used to combat the current global recession.

Speaking late on Monday evening following a three hour meeting of eurozone finance ministers, the group's president, Jean-Claude Juncker, signalled that the recent US call for a global spending boost in 2009 was in direct contrast to what eurozone finance ministers considered appropriate.

Eurozone ministers are against speeding up the rules for joining the single currency

"The 16 euro area ministers agreed that recent American appeals insisting that the Europeans make an additional budgetary effort to combat the effects of the crisis was not to our liking," said Mr Juncker, evincing European government concerns that rising public debt is fuelling market concern over a possible sovereign default.

"We would not want to give the impression that we were considering implementing further recovery packages. Europe and the eurogroup have done what they needed to do."

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:06:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany at odds with U.S. over crisis - International Herald Tribune

FRANKFURT: Germany may be at the heart of any European response to a weakening world economy, but Germany's heart is not in it.

As world leaders gear up for a London summit meeting on April 2 where they are supposed to settle upon a coordinated response to the global economic crisis, conflict is brewing between Europeans who see tighter regulation of a skewed financial system as the main task ahead and Americans who are focused on the more immediate challenge of countering the acute dropoff in economic activity across the globe.

The differences between Europe and the United States are most evident in Germany, where years of growth fueled by a mighty manufacturing base and a deep-seated suspicion of financial capitalism has spurred a powerful resistance to the Keynesian-style deficit-spending favored in Washington.

As the United States pushes to ensure that governments around the world are spending enough to replace the demand that has evaporated as U.S. consumers lead a global retrenchment, Germany is sticking to the relatively modest stimulus it has already approved.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fiscal swing in the budget from 2008 to 2009 in Germany can be as high as 5%. Contingent liabilities due to banking rescues not included. That swing I think is not that much lower than the US stimulus.

What this stimulus calculation doesn't get, is that in Germany the federal gov't makes up for funding in the various social insurance schemes, and pays for measures like Kurzarbeit. Economists like Krugman have calculated various multiplicators. The automatic stabilizers are exactly those measures, have relatively high multipliers, because they allow people of low income to keep up consumption. The 'tax cut for 95% of American people' on the other hand will only do quite little. Those that still have a job, are likely to save it, those that lose their job don't pay income tax anyhow. In Germany the states are allowed to borrow money, so when in the US the federal level gives money to the states, so that they don't have to fire teachers and so on, this will be done in Germany anyhow without any specific legislation.

The German trade surplus reduced by half yoy in January, because while demand for investment goods is dwindling, consumption keeps pretty much up. The Eurozone will post a big trade deficit this year, that's for sure.

Sorry if I'm oversensitive to such stories, but for me it looks like a blame game, if the slump is longer than some US pundits predict now and to ignore, who lobbied for nearly all policy decisions that can be seen as narrow root of the current mess. Have you seen any proposals of the US to do something in exchange for international cooperation in this crisis? A pledge to introduce a Tobin tax to disincentive speculation? A disempowerment of the rating agencies? Limitations for securisation? The end to the tax deductibility of mortgages in a defined time frame? Or any better suggestions that might work?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 06:11:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Atlantic stimulus rift grows

Disagreements between the European Union and the US over how to combat the global recession widened on Tuesday as EU governments made clear they had little appetite for piling up more debt to fight the collapse in output and jobs.

Finance ministers from the 27-nation bloc insisted in Brussels that it was doing enough to support world demand and did not need at present to adopt another fiscal stimulus plan, as Washington is urging.

The US-European differences are casting a shadow over next month's summit in London of leaders from the G20 group of advanced and emerging economies, an event to be attended by Barack Obama on his first visit to Europe as US president.

It also emerged that Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, was struggling to organise the summit. Britain's most senior civil servant claimed it was hard to find anyone to speak to at the US Treasury. Sir Gus O'Donnell, cabinet secretary, blamed the "absolute madness" of the US system where a new administration had to hire new officials from scratch, leaving a decision-making vacuum.

"There is nobody there. You cannot believe how difficult it is," he told a conference of civil servants.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:14:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gordon Brown planning new round of privatisation | Politics | guardian.co.uk

There was a time when the Labour party used to tear itself apart over public sector reform. But the publication of today's white paper, Working Together - Public Service on your Side, does not appear to have annoyed anyone apart from the teaching unions, which partly explains why it hasn't been leading the bulletins.

Apart from the row about fast-track teacher training, the coverage so far has focused on the plans to extend the use of government websites to allow people to review public services. But here are five other things I picked up from the 87-page document:

1. Brown is planning to privatise another tranche of government assets. You might have thought that the row about the Royal Mail sell-off would have put him off, but the language in the document is very strong.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:08:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown evidently sees no reason to change course when the good ship Neoliberalism has only hit a little iceberg.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:12:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | Airbus company returns to profit

European aerospace group EADS, the parent company of Airbus, made a profit of 1.57bn euros ($2bn; £1.45bn) in 2008 despite the uncertain economic climate.

In 2007, EADS made a loss of 446m euros. The firm said it expected 2009 profits to be lower than 2008's amid doubts about future aircraft demand.

Airbus delivered a record 483 aircraft in 2008, beating main rival Boeing.

However, EADS said that setbacks in the production of its A400M military transporter would continue.

The A400M's first flight has been postponed because of problems with its engines.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish windmills tilt country towards cleaner green energy - Times Online
Spanish windmills tilt country towards cleaner green energy

The rolling plains of Castilla-La Mancha are dominated by the windmills that provoked the fevered imagination of Don Quixote. But Spain's relentless investment in wind power and other renewable energy sources has proved wrong those who thought it was tilting at windmills.

The sleek white wind turbines and hydroelectric plants that have sprung up across the country in recent years generated 30 per cent of Spain's energy this year for the first time.

A wet and windy January and February boosted the amount of electricity produced from wind and hydro-power, according to the Spanish Grid. The impressive figure means that Spain has already completed targets set by the European Union in 2001 for renewable energy by 2010. In comparison, carbon energy produced 14.3 per cent and nuclear 20.9 per cent.

This is no flash in the pan, experts say. Spain is expected to keep up renewable energy production.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't imagine.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:05:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the contrast between the short sighted stupidity of the UK and the sanity in the rest of europe is damningly shockingly vast.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bucharest to apply for €20bn rescue loan - EUobserver

Romania could receive about €20 billion as part of an International Monetary Fund-European Union rescue package, with negotiations due to start this week.

The funds, aimed at cushioning the impact of the economic crisis in EU's second poorest member state, was likely to be similar in size to the €20 billion Hungary signed up for in November, said an official familiar with the issue, according to the Financial Times.

Romania would be the third EU country to be bailed out by the IMF and EU banks

The Romanian government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had reached agreement on the "broad quantitative parameters" of a support package during last week's visit of a Romanian government delegation to Washington, the official said.

The IMF confirmed that one of its teams was heading to Bucharest on Wednesday. EU and World Bank experts were also likely to follow, in order to finalise the details of the rescue package.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:14:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The World from Berlin: 'The International Financial Institutions Are Overwhelmed' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

As the richest nations prepare to meet in April, the World Bank has warned of a $700 billion shortfall in developing countries and the IMF is asking for donations. German commentators wonder whether the two organizations are up to the task of dealing with the crisis.

The financial crisis may have originated in the investment banks of Wall Street and the City of London but it is now being felt by the world's most vulnerable people, those living on the verge of poverty in the developing nations. As the G-20 group of world's richest countries prepare to gather in London on April 3-4, the World Bank is pleading with them to continue supporting the poorer nations saying that international financial institutions cannot bear the burden alone.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopes for Upturn Fading: EU Finance Ministers Increasingly Gloomy About 2010 - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Hopes for an economic upturn in Europe in 2010 are fading. EU finance ministers now believe it is "highly uncertain" that the economy will start to recover next year, according to a newspaper report. But the EU has rejected US calls for fresh stimulus measures.

Europe's finance ministers have become more pessimistic about the outlook for the European economy and now believe it's "highly uncertain" the much-predicted recovery in 2010 will materialize, according to an internal paper prepared by ministers for the European Union summit on March 19, German business daily Financial Times Deutschland reported on Tuesday.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:15:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: India seeks rupee status symbol

It has billionaires and big ambitions. Now India wants something that no global economic powerhouse should be without: an international symbol for its currency.

The Indian government's search for the perfectly formed sign is via an open competition, which stipulates that entries "should represent the historical and cultural ethos of India."
by Sassafras on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Bernanke calls for powerful regulator
The US needs an overarching regulatory authority to prevent a repeat of risks building up unchecked across the financial system and exploding into economic crisis, Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday.

"This crisis has revealed some rather shocking gaps," he said. "Who was overseeing the subprime lenders, for example? Who was overseeing AIG? There simply wasn't enough adequate oversight in those cases."

Mr Bernanke said a range of fixes were being ­proposed or implemented, including consolidated supervision for financial holding companies, tighter restrictions on the investments made by money ­market mutual funds and reviewing capital adequacy standards for banks to moderate their incentives to lend too much in booms and too little in recessions. The US also needed a new way to resolve crises in large non-bank financial institutions rather than threatening the whole system by forcing them into bankruptcy, such as a government agency taking temporary control.

But Mr Bernanke said that a broader approach was also needed. "We must have a strategy that regulates the financial system as a whole, in a holistic way, not just its individual components," he said. "In particular, strong and effective regulation and supervision of banking institutions, although necessary for reducing systemic risk, are not sufficient by themselves to achieve this aim."

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday held out the prospect of a second stimulus package to follow the $787bn emergency fiscal stimulus signed into law by Barack Obama last month. "I don't think we're done," she said after meeting economists. "I think we're going to need more efforts to shore up the job market, the financial system and the housing market. And to do that, let me see, I think we need to be extraordinarily bold."

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:54:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Toyota cuts UK pay and production by 10% | Business | guardian.co.uk

Toyota is cutting pay and production at its two UK factories by 10% for a year as it tries to ride out the recession.

The cutbacks will start in 1 April and affect 3,900 workers at its factory in Burnaston near Derby and a further 600 in Deeside in north Wales.

News of the cuts came as struggling carmakers gathered to discuss the government's bailout of the industry with business secretary Lord Mandelson.

Toyota said the decision will help to secure long-term employment in the UK. There had been fears that the workforce could be put on a three day week, or even be laid off for several months.

In a statement, the Japanese car giant said that "the measures we have announced give us a greater opportunity to maintain employment through this difficult period."

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:02:33 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China hits out at US on navy row

China says a US Navy ship involved in Sunday's confrontation with its vessels off the southern island of Hainan violated international and Chinese law.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said US complaints that five Chinese vessels had harassed the USNS Impeccable were "totally inaccurate".

Beijing says the ship was conducting activities within the waters of its special economic zone.

The US earlier complained to China's military attache over the incident.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tibet in grip of Chinese 'martial law' 50 years after rising - Asia, World - The Independent
Police and troops are deployed to contain dissident monks on anniversary

China has dramatically stepped up security in Tibet and imposed "de facto martial law" ahead of today's anniversary of a failed uprising 50 years ago that forced the Dalai Lama to flee the country and establish the exiled freedom movement in India. China's President has also called for a "Great Wall of stability" in Tibet.

Police patrols have increased near Buddhist monasteries known to contain dissident monks and the number of checkpoints has increased. Foreign journalists are banned from the region.

The independence uprising, triggered by reports that the Dalai Lama was to be kidnapped, began on 10 March, 1959, and was brutally crushed by the Chinese authorities. Last year's anniversary was marked by the biggest demonstrations in Lhasa and other Tibetan cities for decades. The demonstrations, at times deadly, resulted in a crackdown by the authorities that left countless dead and saw hundreds jailed. Many are still said to be missing.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:10:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Americas - Bolivia expels US diplomat

Evo Morales, Bolivia's president, has ordered a senior US diplomat to leave the country, accusing him of siding with opposition groups in a "conspiracy" against the government in La Paz.

Francisco Martinez, the second secretary of the US embassy in La Paz, is the second US diplomat to be expelled from the country in six months.

Morales said on Monday that Martinez must be expelled "to put an end to a foreign conspiracy".

"Today, I've decided to declare Francisco Martinez ... who works for the United States embassy, persona non grata," he said at a news conference in La Paz. 

Morales said that "deep investigations" had determined Martinez "was in permanent contact with opposition groups".

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Morales to Propose Decriminalization of Coca at UN Convention - Bloomberg.com

Bolivian President Eva Morales heads to Vienna today to ask a United Nations commission to reverse its 48-year-old decision to qualify the coca leaf as a narcotic, Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said.

The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs also said chewing of the coca leaf, the raw ingredient in cocaine, "must be abolished" within 25 years. Coca is consumed widely in Bolivia by workers who say it helps them endure long hours at high altitudes and quell hunger. The leaf is used in religious ceremonies.

"We believe the `61 convention is unjust; one can't criminalize a natural plant like the coca leaf," Choquehuanca said late yesterday.

Morales, a former coca farmer, has encouraged the industrialization and possible exportation of coca products like boxed teas and liqueurs since taking office in 2006. Bolivia is the third-biggest producer of coca in the world after Colombia and Peru.

"We can't go against a culture, and that's what the international community has to understand," Choquehuanca said. ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saudi court sentences widow, 75, to lashes for 'mingling with men' - Telegraph
A 75-year-old widow has been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in prison in Saudi Arabia for mingling with two young men who were reportedly bringing her bread.

The sentence has sparked new criticism of Saudi Arabia's ultraconservative religious police and judiciary.

Khamisa Sawadi, a Syrian-born woman who was married to a Saudi, was convicted and sentenced last week for meeting with men who were not her immediate relatives. Saudi law prohibits men and women who are not immediate relatives from mingling.

The two men, including one who was Mrs Sawadi's late husband's nephew, were also found guilty and sentenced to prison terms and lashes.

The elderly woman met the two 24-year-old men last April after she asked them to bring her five loaves of bread, the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported.

The men - identified by Al-Watan as the nephew, Fahd al-Anzi, and his friend and business partner Hadiyan bin Zein - went to Mrs Sawadi's home in the city of al-Chamil, north of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. After delivering the bread, the two men were arrested by a one of the religious police, Al-Watan reported.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Bolivia's Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca:

We can't go against a culture, and that's what the international community has to understand...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ironic juxtaposition, maybe but comparing the beating up of an old woman to chewing an indigenous plant might be a wee bit like comparing apples and oranges.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The trade-off season begins on Afghanistan Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan
With the likelihood of the United States engaging Iran in the near future and with Washington "resetting the button" in relations with Moscow, the air is thick with rumors of trade-offs. This is almost inevitable, given the interlocking cross-currents swirling around the three-way US-Iran-Russia equations.

Iranians have a penchant for trade-offs and Soviet-American detente historically relied on trade-offs. Thus, a season for trade-offs could indeed be commencing. But we may never quite know. That is because trade-offs often carry a stigma of opportunism and are deniable even when they are manifestly based on legitimate balancing of interests.
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:20:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pentagon Knowingly Exposed U.S. Soldiers To Toxic Waste: Leaked Memo

The Pentagon allegedly endangered U.S. soldiers by implementing and covering-up dangerously toxic waste-incineration practices at Balad Airbase in Iraq during years past, as revealed in a leaked Air Force memo [PDF]. Raw Story, which first reported the leak, writes this:

The document, written by an environmental engineering flight commander in December of 2006 and posted on Wikileaks on Tuesday, details the risks posed to US troops in Iraq by burning garbage at a US airbase. It enumerates myriad risks posed by the practice and identifies various carcinogens released by incinerating waste in open-air pits.


According to the document, a US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine investigator said Balad's burn pit was "the worst environmental site I have ever personally visited," including "10 years working... clean-up for the Army."

Last December, Army Times reported on the rise of symptoms among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who had suffered direct exposure to burn pits:

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:21:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This doesn't surprise me, most armies seem to regard their soldiers as disposable items. One only has to remember Cheney sneering of the death toll in Iraq "So what ? They voluntered". Certainly the UK army seems pretty callous all round.

I guess their attitude is that they're there to kill or be killed and it doesn't really matter who does what. After all there's no health and safety on a battlefield so why bother elsewhere ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:25:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rising violence in Iraq as bomber kills dozens - International Herald Tribune

BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber took aim at a group of Iraqi Army officers on their way to a reconciliation conference, killing 33 people Tuesday and raising concerns about an increase in insurgent activity in Iraq. It was the second attack since Sunday to kill more than two dozen people.

An eyewitness said the Tuesday attack was carried out by a person wearing a national police uniform who struck a group of officials in a marketplace near the municipal building in Abu Ghraib, on the western outskirts of the capital. The Iraqi Interior Ministry put the death toll at 33, with 46 injured. Two days earlier, on Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 28 people in Baghdad.

The bombings suggest a renewed ability by insurgents to mount more effective suicide bombings, after a long period in which such attacks were relatively few and less lethal because of heavy security precautions.

The incident Tuesday occurred in the early afternoon as the local Iraqi Army leaders were on their way to a scheduled reconciliation conference in the District Council with Sunni tribal leaders in the area, according to army officers at the scene.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:22:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Russia now 'top heroin consumer'

Russia says it has become the world's biggest consumer of heroin.

The head of Russia's anti-narcotics service, Victor Ivanov, said that seizures of Afghan heroin were up 70%.

Speaking ahead of a meeting in Vienna of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, he called on the UN to do more to fight the problem.

by Sassafras on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:51:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something seems to be afoot following the upcoming Summit of the Americas:

Washington, DC,-- Caribbean Central American Action's (CCAA) 2nd Annual Central American Energy Supply Security Forum will feature sessions focusing on "Creating Energy Partnerships for Sustainable Supply."  The forum will take place at the Real InterContinental Hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on May 6-7, 2009.

This 2nd Annual Central American Energy Supply Forum will address how the global situation has affected the investment and policy environment in the region. Forum sessions will bring together energy sector executives, regional private sector leaders, government officials, investors and academics to highlight current and future regional and hemispheric energy partnerships between governments, the private sector and non-governmental institutions. Discussants will also seek to examine Central American fossil fuel use; the future of regional electricity interconnection projects in the face of disparate national agendas and volatile costs; regional conservation policies and campaigns as countries work towards the Central America Integration System's (SICA) Sustainable Energy Strategy of 2020; and the opportunity for a U.S.-led hemispheric energy partnership.

Confirmed sponsors for the forum include Chevron and Exxon Mobil.  CCAA is also pleased to announce the American Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala as a key collaborating organization.

To register and get access to the agenda for the 2nd Annual Central American Energy Supply Forum, please click here. For sponsorship opportunities package, please click here.  We also encourage you to visit our website www.c-caa.org for updates or to call 202-466-7464 ext. 24.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:35:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:02:57 PM EST
Gordon Brown planning new round of privatisation | Politics | guardian.co.uk
1. Brown is planning to privatise another tranche of government assets. You might have thought that the row about the Royal Mail sell-off would have put him off, but the language in the document is very strong.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Belief and the brain's 'God spot' - Science, News - The Independent
Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that control religious faith. And the research proves, they contend, that belief in a higher power is an evolutionary asset that helps human survival.

A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a study that analyses why religion is a universal human feature that has encompassed all cultures throughout history.

Scientists searching for the neural "God spot", which is supposed to control religious belief, believe that there is not just one but several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief.

The researchers said their findings support the idea that the brain has evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improves the chances of survival, which could explain why a belief in God and the supernatural became so widespread in human evolutionary history.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:09:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mo' bettah fMRI!!!! by novelists Jordan Grafman, employed at the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland Vilayanur Ramachandran, University of California, San Diego, California Michael Persinger, Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada and Andrew Newberg, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Too funny. This reminds me of a conference combining bio-feedback and transcendentalism, iirc, hosted by an A.K.Rice joint in the US or UK. The notice was so odd, it left a mark. Now I wish, perversely, I could remember more about the "noted speakers."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:30:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ignoring the big chunk of the world that is Buddhist...
by asdf on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but they can't say whether the belief in god these structures lead to are the focus of them or simply by-products of another process.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:32:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are some details of the experiments.
Experiment 1 (MDS). The Neuroscience Institutional Review Board of the National Institutes of Health Intramural Program approved this research. Twenty six right-handed subjects (11 women and 15 men; mean age, 37.7; mean years of educa-
tion, 17.9) participated.
Experiment 2 (fMRI). Forty right-handed subjects demographically matched to those in Experiment 1 (20 women and 20 men; mean age, 35.7; mean years of education, 17.5) participated in Experiment 2f.
So maybe left-handed people don't have the "God spot"?...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 03:25:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | New leg for mine blast elephant

An elephant in Thailand has been fitted with a new false leg, after outgrowing her original prosthetic.

Mosha, 3, lost part of her right front leg as a seven-month-old when she stepped on a landmine.

She was taken to an elephant orphanage where staff initially thought she might die, but an amputation expert fitted her first leg and she recovered well.

Now eating 90kg (200lb) of food a day, Mosha was doing so well she needed the upgrade, and may live for many years.

When Mosha was brought to the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) hospital and sanctuary in Lampang, northern Thailand, she refused to eat and was rejected by the other elephants.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:10:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Baby elephants are often abused in Thailand where they are made to beg from tourists...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:28:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Movie Business: Luc Besson's Growing Empire - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The box-office successes of Europacorp's "Taken" and "Transporter" have put the studio on a fast-growth trajectory.

There's nothing like a recession to make Americans go to the movies. US box-office receipts in February were a record $770 million (€606 million). But the top-grossing movie of the month wasn't American -- it was French. "Taken," an action thriller starring Liam Neeson, is the first US megahit for French film mogul Luc Besson. And Besson is working hard to make sure it won't be the last.

French Director Luc Besson has found success with his small, nimble and internationally appealing production company. Besson, 49, best known until now as the director of such films as "The Big Blue" and "The Fifth Element" in the 1980s and 1990s, has worked mainly as a producer for the past decade. His Paris-based Europacorp studio posted $186 million in revenues last year, making it second only to Germany's Constantin Film as Europe's largest independent studio.

Nearly one-third of Europacorp revenues come from box-office and DVD sales outside France -- no surprise, since many of Besson's productions, including "Taken," are in English. "We have a diplomatic passport; we're equally at ease in France, Japan, Germany and the US," Besson says in an interview at his headquarters in an elegant mansion a few blocks from the Champs-Elysées.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:16:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Company News Story

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AFP)--Iceland has appointed a veteran anti-corruption investigator to probe possible fraud within the Arctic country's collapsed banking sector, a government statement said Tuesday.

Eva Joly, currently a special anti-corruption advisor to the Norwegian government and best known for having brought a 1990s corruption scandal at French oil giant Elf to trial, has a staff of four but media quoted her as saying more would be required.

"The minister of justice recommended to the government that Eva Joly would become a special advisor to investigations on economic fraud connected to the collapse of the financial system. The government approved the recommendation," the statement read.

We've already got a Norwegian temporarily in charge of the Icelandic Central Bank. Now they've appointed the Norwegian who made a name for herself by getting stuck into Elf for corruption.

The Norwegians have quietly been all over Iceland recently. There've been so many ministers there they could have had a cabinet meeting....

I see recent appointments as a sort of Norwegian process of due diligence in respect of their investment in Iceland.

Chances of Iceland applying for EU membership? Low.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:18:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Women academics still struggle to make professor in Switzerland - swissinfo
Although more than half of all students in Switzerland are female, very few make it to the academic heights of being a professor.

As International Women's Day is celebrated this weekend, experts talk about how balancing work and family, a husband's career and old-fashioned attitudes are holding women back. But they point out that the tide is slowly turning.

"When you start your academic career, you don't have any idea of what it's really going to be like," said Brigitte Tag, professor of law at Zurich University. "It's a big learning curve for a woman."

But Tag, who started her career in Germany, feels well supported at Zurich University, which is trying to boost numbers of female professors.

They currently make up 15 per cent of full professorships - the Swiss average is 14 per cent. This compares with 56 per cent female students, and around 50 per cent women doctoral students.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boy, 7, hopes to follow success of Bladerunner Oscar Pistorius - Telegraph

Sports-fan Cody, who dreams of winning a gold medal in the Paralympics, was born without any tibia or knee bones, and had to have the bottom half of his legs amputated as a toddler.

But he is already proving himself an amazing athlete with a busy schedule of running, swimming, soccer, golf, karate and ice hockey as well as other hobbies including playing the piano, hand-cycling, rock climbing, kayaking, learning to jet ski and even fly a plane.

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Likely there are some here who are aware of this coming upgrade to net searching, but i had no clue.  That it came from a geek i respect captured my attention, perhaps yours.

Stephen Wolfram is building something new -- and it is really impressive and significant. In fact it may be as important for the Web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose. It's not a "Google killer" -- it does something different. It answers questions. It's an "answer engine" rather than a search engine.....

A Computational Knowledge Engine for the Web

In a nutshell, Wolfram and his team have built what he calls a "computational knowledge engine" for the Web. OK, so what does that really mean? Basically it means that you can ask it factual questions and it computes answers for you.

It doesn't simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does, and it isn't just a giant database of knowledge, like the Wikipedia. It doesn't simply parse natural language and then use that to retrieve documents, like Powerset, for example.

Instead, Wolfram Alpha actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions -- like questions that have factual answers such as "What is the location of Timbuktu?" or "How many protons are in a hydrogen atom?," "What was the average rainfall in Boston last year?," "What is the 307th digit of Pi?," "where is the ISS?" or "When was GOOG worth more than $300?"

I'm thinking, How many angels can dance on the head of an offshore rotor stop pin?  But then i'm really curious to see if this is a true advance or not... even though many others are trying to press forward in the same direction.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:59:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wolfram is generally more impressed with his inventions and brilliance than the rest of the world is ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:08:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
counterpunch.org: The Internet's Energy Drain
The servers and large data computing centers that run the Internet and other computer networks doubled their energy use between 2000 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Add in the power used by computers and peripheral equipment in homes and commerce, along with a projected 75 percent further growth in data centers by 2011, and the system's electricity needs will exceed the total current consumption of 18 million average American households. The EPA says that by 2011 the peak load placed on the power grid by servers and data centers alone will require the output of 25 typical coal-fired power plants.

The national digital network doesn't rank among America's largest energy hogs, but it's no cute little piglet either. Demand projected for 2011 would sop up Mexico's entire current production of almost 200 million kilowatt hours, or by 2014, Australia's. That it's a small slice of the national electricity pie reflects more than anything just how big that pie is.
by das monde on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:07:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not necessarily a bad thing. To the extent that corporations shift their IT to data centers this trend could actually save energy through better utilization of the IT infrastructure.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:19:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
John Redwood: Thank heaven we're not in the euro | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
The UK government has just put the taxpayer on risk for £3tn of banking assets, some of them of very dubious quality, by buying controlling shareholdings in RBS and Lloyds. This is on top of the £700bn of public debt built up, on top of the large unfunded pensions liabilities (maybe another £1tn and growing rapidly), and on top of the PFI/PPP/Network Rail/Northern Rock/Bradford & Bingley obligations. This is far too much risk for the government to run comfortably.

John Redwood has a piece at the Guardian's Comment is free site, above.

One of the commenters has dug up the following nugget from Mr Redwood's speech at the Tory party conference in August 2007

John Redwood: Thank heaven we're not in the euro | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

If anyone feels like digging deep into the Conservative Party website, just as Northern Rock was going belly up, John Redwood had presented a paper to the Conservatives (at Cameron's request) on business and the like.

The paper is a hymn of praise to just those sort of things that all went seriously toxic. Read and enjoy....:-)

I quote:

The last ten years in particular have been good years for the world economy as a whole. They have been characterised by two massively favourable trends. The first is an era of easy money. The main central banks worldwide have opted for low interest rates, the ready creation of credit, and tolerance of innovatory means of financing public and private sector activity through big increases in debt. It has been the era of public/private partnerships, specialised credit-based funds and funds of funds, collateralized debt obligations, collateralized loan obligations, credit default swaps, special purpose vehicles and many other similar ways of raising borrowing throughout the financial system.

Freeing Britain to Compete:
Equipping the UK for Globalisation
Submission to the Shadow Cabinet
Economic Competitiveness Policy Group.

Not looking such favourable trends now, though.....

I wonder what the Economic Competitiveness Policy group is working on now?

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:51:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you'd expect Redwood to go to his deathbed protesting that conservatsim didn't fail, it was failed etc etc. He's like tom Friedman, a total chicago school ideologue. He is psychologically incapable of any thought that conflicts with the free market.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:41:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CNN.com: YouTube unplugs music videos in the UK
YouTube began pulling music videos from its United Kingdom Web site Monday after talks with Britain's music licensing group collapsed in a dispute over how much the video-sharing site should pay to host the songs.

YouTube said it values "the creativity of musicians and songwriters."

The Performing Right Society (PRS for Music) said YouTube -- which is owned by Google -- wants it "to pay significantly less than at present," while YouTube accused PRS of demanding we pay many, many times more for our license than before."

"We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google's drastic action which we believe only punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent," PRS CEO Steve Porter said in a written statement Monday.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:03:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | '10 shot dead' at German school

At least 10 people have been killed in a shooting at a school in south-west Germany, police say.

A number of people are also thought to have been wounded in the attack at the Albertville school in Winnenden, north of Stuttgart.

Police say the gunman, who was reported to have been wearing black combat gear, has fled into the town.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the culprit was located and shot

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:43:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:03:17 PM EST
Sarkozy provokes anger with luxury holiday in Mexico - Telegraph
President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla have provoked an outcry in France by spending the weekend in a £2,100-a-night beach-front villa in Mexico.

The couple spent the weekend at the El Tamarindo Beach and Golf Resort, located in a nature reserve on Mexico's south-eastern Pacific Coast.

The villa cost £1,640 plus 17 per cent tax and 10 per cent service charge - making a total of just over £2,100 per night. However, the overall cost including security and staff is believed to have come to £45,000.

The visit was shrouded in secrecy and disclosed only after Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy inadvertently told friends at a charity event on Thursday afternoon that "I'm leaving tonight for Mexico" after her husband had burst in a little earlier.

The one-bedroom villa, owned by a multi-millionaire friend of Mexico's President Felipe Calderón, comes with private pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, butler, cook and maid. It is set in 2,000 acres of tropical rainforest. The Elysée said the presidential couple had sought to keep the private break secret "for security reasons".

by Fran on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:03:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Lib Dems 'exploring game theory'

The Lib Dems will negotiate with rivals if there is a hung parliament at the next election using methods adopted by business and the CIA, it is reported.

"Game theory" is a branch of economic thought which creates strategies based on other people's predicted behaviour.

To paraphrase: "Lib Dems will drive a hard bargain if they hold the balance of power".  You don't say...

by Sassafras on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 03:53:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
colour me sceptical as to how hard a bargain they will actualy strike.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:44:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope, she's mostly german.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:49:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
McCartney sells out 'in seconds'

Well, this is hardly news - he's been doing it for 40 years.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:32:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, the Wings period was a sellout.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 10:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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