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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 23 April

by Fran Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:18:48 PM EST

On this date in history:

1858 – Ethel Mary Smyth, an English composer and a leader of the women's suffrage movement, was born. (d. 1944)

More here and video


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by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:55:19 PM EST
Cleaning Up the Men's Mess: Iceland's Women Reach for Power - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Iceland's women are blaming men for the financial crisis that has brought the country to its knees, They are now looking for a female solution to clean up the mess. Caretaker Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir is heading into this weekend's election with good chances of winning.

It's not shadenfreude that can be read between the lines when Halla Tomasdottir talks about Iceland's financial crisis and her country's bankruptcy, but there may be a bit of satisfaction. "A lot had gone wrong, some things didn't make sense and it couldn't go on that way," the economist says. "We warned it would happen."

Halla was general director of the chamber of commerce when she issued those warnings, but nobody wanted to listen to her advice. She then parted ways and started her own company together with banker Kristin Petursdottir. Kristin had been a manager at the British subsidiary of the crisis-stricken Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Together, Halla and Kristin formed Audur Capital, a financial and investment company that would take a new path.

by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gah, essentialism sucks. I would remind everybody of Thatcher and her illustrious forerunner, Lucretia Borgia as demonstration that women can be every bit as depraved and ego driven as a man. It is culture and (lack of) opportunity that creates the illusion that women are less competitive, but that is a denial of women's humanity for good or ill.

Men can be good and altruistic, women can be selfish and destructive, why is that so hard to accept?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:50:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I agree, but it's mostly men who are actually in charge...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:52:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UK among the worst places in Europe for children - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The happiest children are to be found in the Netherlands while Britain is among the worst countries in Europe in which to grow up, a new study examining children's wellbeing in 29 European countries has shown.

The report, by the Child Poverty Action Group, compares 43 separate criteria such as health, education and housing standards in EU member states as well as Norway and Iceland.

Children are best off in the Netherlands and Scandinavia

The Netherlands followed by Sweden and Norway are the countries considered to be the best places in which to be a child.

At the bottom of the league are Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.

by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There seems to be a survey like that every few years, with the U.K always coming out  worst. I studied one such survey in detail a few years ago, and I noticed that the ranking of Italy would depend on how you weight the various factors: they were at the bottom for education, immediately below Scandinavia for heath, and at the top for relations with family and friends. The U.K., on the other hand, were at the bottom in nearly every category.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:31:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I always say that Britian falls between the stalls of the good bits of the US or Europe, we are the worst of both worlds. Still, it gives us a certain sense of humour.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which we need.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:35:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Direct link (pdf!) to the study.

  • It comes as something of a surprise that Germany (ranked 8th) is well ahead of France (ranked 15th). What's more, that relationship holds almost across the board in the seven evaluation categories, with France significalty ahead only in "housing and environment". May this be recent development?...

  • Malta comes in dead last -- but, it's the one country for which data is missing in three out of seven evaluation categories. For Cyprus, even four categories are un-ranked, so its 12th place is incomparable too.

  • Belgium is ranked first on education. What's up with this?

  • As I'd expected, among the ex-communist new members, Slovenia is best: ranked 7th (between Denmakr and Germany).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 02:59:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not Belgium? I mean, it's a largely prosperous, small country. Perfect fit for having a good education system. Belgium has some cultural issues but those don't have to affect the quality of education.

The Dutch cliche about Belgian education is that the Belgians only learn facts. That would result in good test results if the tests focus on that (as I'd suspect they do). The other way around the Belgian cliche would be that the Dutch only learn how to BS. I suspect that there's something to both.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:40:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here (pdf!) is the earlier study I mentioned. France is still below Germany, Malta is not there, the U.K. is at the bottom, Belgium is still at the top on education, but health in Italy is much better. Why?

Some other interesting facts from that study (they have some data from non-European countries as well):

  • Percentage of children age 15 reporting less than 10 books in the home: lowest in the Czech republic, highest in Portugal, followed by the Netherlands and the U.S.
  • Low birth weight: Japan, followed by Hungary. Russia has reasonable birth weight but is a spectacular outlier on infant mortality. For deaths from accidents and injuries, Russia is also an outlier, but Israel is even worse.
  • Percentage of 15 year-olds whose parents spend time `just talking to  them' several times per week: Hungary is the best, closely followed by Italy. Germany would be worst, if they hadn't included data from Israel.
  • On the other hand, "Percentage of young people age 11, 13 and 15 who find their peers kind and helpful", is best in Switzerland, with the U.K. being worst.
  • You didn't really need a study to tell you that for "Percentage of students age 11, 13 and 15 who  report having been drunk two or more times" is the highest in the U.K., far ahead of even Finland?
  • by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:59:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    gk:
  • On the other hand, "Percentage of young people age 11, 13 and 15 who find their peers kind and helpful", is best in Switzerland, with the U.K. being worst.
  • You didn't really need a study to tell you that for "Percentage of students age 11, 13 and 15 who  report having been drunk two or more times" is the highest in the U.K., far ahead of even Finland?
  • Can't be fun to be a child in the UK...

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:23:27 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    it was hellish...

    '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 23rd, 2009 at 09:13:00 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, you did go to "public" school...

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:49:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Low birth weight: Japan, followed by Hungary. Russia has reasonable birth weight but is a spectacular outlier on infant mortality. For deaths from accidents and injuries, Russia is also an outlier, but Israel is even worse.

    In broad comparisons of this nature, time lags in reporting could be very large. For example, the pdf claims that for non-OECD countries infant mortality data are as of 2003. But for Russia, according to the WHO data, 16 infant deaths per 1000 live births is the data point for year 2000. In 2003, it was more like 13. In 2008 it was 10, projections for 2009 give 8.2 so far (see here, the data only in Russian).

    by Sargon on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:32:53 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "Sauerland cell" trial opens in Duesseldorf | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 22.04.2009
    One of Germany's biggest terrorism trials is underway this Wednesday. The authorities have accused four men of plotting a series of terror attacks, on a scale comparable with the London and Madrid bombings. 

    The Sauerland cell was named after a region in western Germany where police seized three terrorism suspects in September 2007, along with hundreds of kilos of bomb-making materials. The fourth suspect was arrested in Turkey and extradited to Germany last November.

    The four men, whose ages range between 23 and 30, are accused of planning to bomb discos, restaurants, airports, the Federal Prosecutors' Office, and US army installations, in a spate of attacks allegedly planned for October 2007.

    The bombings were to take place across Germany, from the American base at Ramstein to cities such as Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:00:13 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Turkey arrests terrorists suspects, gets boost for EU bid | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.04.2009
    Both the current and future EU president countries have come out in support of Ankara's bid for membership. Meanwhile, Turkish police detained more than 30 people suspected of ties to al-Qaeda.  

    Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday that anti-terrorist authorities detained 37 individuals in early morning raids in five provinces. The agency added that seven of the suspects were thought to have received armed training in militant camps in Afghanistan.

    A Turkish newspaper reported in March that Ankara had been given intelligence from the US that al Qaeda was possibly planning attacks in Turkey.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:00:34 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Time running out for Croatia's EU reforms - EUobserver

    EUOBSERVER / ZAGREB - The structural reforms Croatia still needs to carry out are more likely to hold up its EU membership bid than the current border dispute with Slovenia, a senior EU official has warned.

    "I would be more concerned about structural reforms [in Croatia]" than about the border dispute, Vincent Degert, head of the European Commission's delegation in Croatia told a group of journalists in Zagreb on Monday (20 April).

    Croatia wants to enter the EU by 2011, but reforms - in the agriculture sector, among others - could cause problems

    Mr Degert spoke about justice reform, as well as the need to restructure Croatia's shipyards and the agriculture sector, as some of the key areas where progress is still needed.

    "These are the hardcore reforms," he said, with Croatia hoping to finish membership negotiations within the next eight months and enter the EU by 2011.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:01:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Internet piracy battle holds up EU telecoms bill - EUobserver

    UOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The battle between internet pirates and copyright holders shifted to Strasbourg this week, with a move that threatens to hold up a major European Union telecoms bill and unravel France's flagship legislation on cutting off internet access for illegal downloaders.

    MEPs in the European Parliament's industry committee on Tuesday (21 April) passed an amendment to the telecoms bill requiring that internet cut-offs can only be put in place after a decision by judicial authorities.

    Internet piracy is turning into a key issue for young voters ahead of the June elections

    The bill itself is a much broader legislative initiative that aims to substantially reform the European telecoms sector, focusing on infrastructure rather than content, with both parliament and EU member states largely in agreement on the package.

    But last September, MEPs overwhelmingly backed a similar amendment that intended to put a stop to France's "three strikes law," under which copyright scofflaws would see their internet stopped for up to a year.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:01:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And what's up with net neutrality?

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:02:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    AP via OregonLive.com: Pirate Bay lawyer demands retrial (4/23/2009)

    A defense lawyer in the Pirate Bay file-sharing case says he will demand a retrial after media reports that the judge was a member of a copyright protection organization.

    Four men behind the notorious Web site were convicted of helping others commit copyright violations and were given one-year prison sentences last week.

    Swedish Radio reported Thursday that Judge Tomas Norstrom is a member of a Swedish copyright group and that two people who represented the entertainment industry during the trial also are members of the organization.



    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:25:50 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    British M.P.'s May Lose Residence Perk - NYTimes.com

    LONDON -- After a string of embarrassing revelations about expense claims by members of Parliament, Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed Tuesday that the expense-account system be overhauled "to restore people's confidence that M.P.'s are there to serve the public and not themselves."

    Legislators in the House of Commons are the beneficiaries of an array of perks and reimbursements, all of them perfectly legal, for expenses associated with running their offices, traveling between London and their districts, and having homes in both places. Members of Parliament earn base salaries of $92,795. In a recent 12-month period, they claimed an average of nearly $200,000 in expenses.

    It emerged this month that the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, regularly claims that her sister's house in London, where she rents a room when Parliament is in session, is her primary residence. That has allowed Ms. Smith to draw the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars in the so-called second-home allowance for the house in Worcestershire, where her family lives and where she lives during weekends and the long stretches when Parliament is not sitting.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:07:47 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, they are losing one set of perks and replacing them with another set. It's classic distraction.

    They have been caught with their hands in the till too often, so they have to be seen to wear the hair shirt of contrition for a bit. Then once the dust has settled and we all look away, they';ll simply be at it again, only in a different way.

    there is no chance, no chance at all, that the gravy train will be derailed.

    keep to the Fen Causeway

    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:55:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Shouldn't Jacqui Smith resign over this?

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:59:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    Nicolas Sarkozy spends £157m on keeping up with the presidential jet set - Times Online

    The ignominy is evidently too much to bear. When he flies to international summits President Sarkozy is confronted by a number of private jets that dwarf his French Airbus A319.

    Even the Spanish and German leaders arrive in bigger aircraft, let alone Barack Obama's mighty Air Force One.

    Next month work will begin on a project to give Mr Sarkozy wings in keeping with his ambitions when French engineers take possession of an aircraft that will be turned into an ultra-modern presidential airliner.

    Although not quite as big as the Boeing 747-200 that is Air Force One, the French A330-200 will be at least ten metres longer and two metres higher that the aircraft used by other European leaders. It will also be far more luxurious -- as befits a man who called Mr Obama inexperienced, questioned the intellect of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, and disparaged Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in comments to MPs last week.

    [Murdoch Alert]
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:08:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't know about the [Murdoch Alert] addition but it's definitely a short-man/small dick psychology at work.

    Question for you folks: Now that the US seems to have come to it's right mind and elected Obama, when will you follow suit?  You seem to still be living with the Bush leftovers while we're moving ahead.  What politicians are in the pipeline?

    They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

    by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 03:19:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Waddaya mean ? There is no difference between an Atlanticist bushie and an atlanticist Obaman. It the Atlanticist genuflection that is the major problem.

    keep to the Fen Causeway
    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:58:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    OK.  So when are you going to get leaders who will lead YOUR people and not just cow-tow to your overlords?  Is that better phrased?

    They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
    by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:28:47 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Fears of EU split as 'last dictator' of Belarus is invited to summit | World news | The Guardian

    An attempt by Europe to bring its "last dictator" in from the cold by inviting Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarussian president, to a summit of 27 EU government leaders could backfire by aggravating EU divisions, it was feared yesterday.

    Many European leaders are hoping that Lukashenko - who has been in power for 15 years, has been blacklisted by Brussels on account of his authoritarian rule and was until recently subject to a travel ban - will not take up the invitation to the Prague summit on 7 May.

    The summit is to launch the EU's new "eastern partnership" policy with six former Soviet bloc states, aimed at increasing Brussels' clout in the region at the expense of Moscow's.

    Lukashenko, head of the most isolated state in Europe, has been invited together with the leaders of Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, delivered the invitation in person to Belarus's president in Minsk on Friday.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:10:17 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    France 24 | Fillon says Continental protesters should face charges | France 24
    French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has warned that hundreds of workers at the Continental tyre company who trashed a government building on Tuesday to protest planned layoffs should face charges, calling their acts "unacceptable".

    AFP - Prime Minister Francois Fillon warned Wednesday that workers who vented their anger by trashing a government building should face charges, as fears grew of French labour unrest turning violent.
       
    Workers from the German-owned Continental tyre company went on a rampage Tuesday after a court refused to block the company's decision to shut down their factory and scrap 1,200 jobs.
       
    A few hundred employees ransacked offices of the regional administration in Compiegne, northeast of Paris, smashing windows, overturning desks and wrecking computers.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:11:34 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    MEPs approve softer version of energy law - EUobserver

    EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Parliament has approved a watered-down version of an energy package aimed at further liberalising the bloc's electricity and gas markets, while strengthening consumer rights.

    Initially targeting full separation of transmission and production activities in energy giants like E.ON or GDF - also known as "unbundling" - the compromise approved on Wednesday (22 April) by the European Parliament gives big energy players the option of keeping the two types of activities, but under stronger supervision.

    Electricity transmission networks

    The EU goal is to facilitate network access for smaller energy companies without their own grids, as well as to ease up cross-border investments and trade in EU's €300 billion electricity and gas market, which is still fragmented by national barriers.

    "The package will give the EU a clear regulatory framework needed to ensure a properly functioning internal market and to promote much needed investment, especially by cross-border and regional cooperation," EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs told MEPs in a plenary debate ahead of the vote.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:13:07 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Cos de-regulation and increased competition have worked so well .....

    keep to the Fen Causeway
    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:59:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This is actually good - rather than force unbundling they treat vertically integrated companies as regulated monopolies.

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 05:01:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Before even considering unbundling of transmission from generation they should look at the fiasco in California in the '90s, complete with Enron traders joking how they were going to screw those California "grannies."  Regulated monopolies are FAR better.  The real alternative would be an EU wide single transmission system owned and operated by the Union.

    "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 10:31:07 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hmm-mmm, I have to look at the details to pass judgement. The silly liberalisation goal has not been abandoned yet, and the precise rules might still more benefit the quasi-monopolies than the regulatory intent.

    Plus, there is always the potential problem that a newly created regulatory board will be staffed with people originating in the former monopolies, and just continue their policies while nominally independent.

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:19:14 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Commission ready to investigate European illegal fishing off Somalia - EUobserver

    EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission has said it is ready to investigate and take action against any European boats or European-owned fishing companies that fly flags of convenience that engage in illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia.

    This month, Abdirahman Ibbi, the deputy prime minister and minister of fisheries and marine resources in the new Somali national unity government, said that an estimated 220 foreign-owned vessels were still engaged in unlicensed and illegal fishing in Somali waters, most of them of European origin.

    Commissioner Borg is ready to investigate allegations of European illegal fishing in Somali waters if presented with evidence

    The European commissioner for fisheries, Joe Borg, on Wednesday (22 April) told reporters that he had no information regarding Mr Ibbi's allegation.

    "I am certainly prepared to look into it if we are provided with specific details on this," he said during a press conference presenting a paper reviewing the state of the European Common Fisheries Policy. "But the information I have is that it is nowhere near close to those figures that have been mentioned."

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:13:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    hahahahahaha. How beautifully corrupt.

    keep to the Fen Causeway
    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 05:00:56 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    While they are at it, perhaps they could investigate the provenance of those barrels of radio-active waste alleged to have been dumped in those same waters.  Surely the EU has the means to retrieve a representative sample of those barrels.

    "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 10:34:00 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    he could also regulate fishing of the EU fleet in the international waters of West Africa...
    by Nomad on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:28:42 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Budget 2009: Energy efficiency spend will barely reduce carbon emissions, say green groups | Environment | guardian.co.uk

    Building firms and green groups welcomed the budget announcement to spend £375m on energy efficiency in buildings over the next two years, but said it was much too little to kickstart an ailing construction industry and would barely reduce carbon emissions.

    The chancellor Alistair Darling said that energy efficiency - stopping heat leaking out of buildings - was "the easiest and quickest" way to reduce carbon emissions and the benefits would be distributed between homes, offices and public buildings.

    "These measures will support employment and save 380,000 tonnes of CO2 and around £60m in energy bills each year," said the full budget report. The UK emits 531m tonnes of CO2 a year, making the total savings 0.14%.

    Greenpeace dismissed the measures as "woeful". "The emissions saved per year represent about two weeks' emissions from Radcliffe-on-Soar coal-powered station - Britain's third biggest power station," said the environment group's spokesperson.



    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:55:32 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    BBC: British police officers who conceal ID face sack

    Officers who deliberately conceal their identification numbers will face the sack, Britain's top policeman has said.

    Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said it was "totally unacceptable" not to wear the numerals.

    His comments follow allegation against several officers at the G20 protests - including the man who pushed newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson before he died.

    New footage has emerged of the moments leading up to his death, as a third post-mortem examination was held.

    The footage is in the link.  It doesn't support the police claim that there was a confrontation prior to the attack.

    by Sassafras on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 06:01:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Does that include the inspector, who was confronted about not showing his ID numbers at the demo? and refused?

    or all of the police at Brightlingsea? or the police at Ourgreve colliery?

    is that a "Faces getting the sack but its never going to happen in practice once the current thing dies down"

    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 07:40:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's fun to read of this still happening in "civilised" Britain -- two and a half years after the visibility of policeman identification numbers was such a big issue at the first riots in Budapest.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:21:58 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That BBC video almost crashed my computer. I recommend the version uploaded to YouTube instead.



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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:53:08 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Me silly, embedding disabled. Here is the link.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:55:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ryanair may charge a `fat tax' for its overweight passengers | Independent | 23.4.09
    First there was the `wee fee', then the charge for the privilege of checking-in, now it seems budget airline Ryanair has finally tipped the scales by announcing it is considering a fat tax.

    But, just when you thought they couldn't possibly take this any further, there's more.

    The company needs customers' help to figure out how to charge the fat tax and its offering the following options:

    Charge per kg over 130kg/20 stone (male) and 100kg/15 stone (females).

    Charge per inch for every waist inch over 45 inch (male) and 40 inch (female).

    Charge for every point in excess of 40 points on the Body Mass Index (+30 points is obese).

    Charge for a second seat if passengers' waist touches both armrests simultaneously.

    Stephen McNamara, spokesman for Ryanair, explained the four options being offered appeared to be the "simplest".

    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:35:14 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ryanair's principle: a human body transported in a Ryanair plane experiences an upwards ticket price pressure proportional to the volume of freight displaced from the cargo bay.

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:39:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, what can I say... you know I am SOOO sorry about budget airline passengers...

    ...you can always holiday in Devon or take Eurostar.

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:51:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
     EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:55:40 PM EST
    TH!NK ABOUT IT - european blogging competition 2009 » Blog Archive » A slide show, some propoganda about "not the most exciting elections of all time" and a... 'scientific' look at citizenship

    I've been working very hard trying to get some good stuff together for a post.

    Firstly, I went to my classmates, who are studying the European Union to find out some of their thoughts. They all seemed to feel positive, but picked up on the age old questions, and ultimately were all left asking, `who's actually standing in the EU Elections?' And we're studying it! So what can everyone else think?

    I then went to the North West Liberal Democrat Conference and was lucky enough to have been able to interview an MEP, Chris Davies. Although the video came back edited, my questions were taken out, and even changed a little, he said some interesting stuff. Apologies for the cheesy music!

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:02:15 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Grahnlaw: European elections: Federalist manifesto
    Perhaps time to look at what the Union of European Federalists (UEF) has to say in its manifesto Stronger together in a federal Europe, the clearest constructive election programme I have seen to date.
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:02:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Predict09.eu : the possible outcome of the June 2009 European Parliament elections (45 days left to the Euroelections June 2009) «
    Predict09.eu is a prediction of the outcome of the June 2009 European Parliament elections and the resulting make-up of the next European Parliament. The prediction is based on a statistical model of the performance of national parties in European Parliament elections, developed by three leading political scientists: Simon Hix (London School of Economics), Michael Marsh (Trinity College Dublin), and Nick Vivyan (London School of Economics). The prediction will be updated each week until the elections on 4-7 June.
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:03:08 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Find out what's your political preference for the EU elections using the the EU profiler (developed among other by the Free University of Amsterdam and the European University Institute).

    All EU countries are represented.

    There was no party that covered my preference, even GroenLinks (Greens) was too light on European integration...

    by Nomad on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:34:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    For the heck of it, I did it for Hungary and Germany. I didn't think in advance so I did both in the native language... so some explanations for the graphs below.

    First, the positioning of parties and myself; right-left axis social-economic left-right (methinks that should be two separate dimensions... for a number of parties, extremes in those cancel out), top-down: for-against EU integration.

    (MDF: small centre-right party with a recent extreme market-liberal makeover; SzDSz: small liberal party; Fidesz: right-populist main party; MSzP: Socialists; LMP: a new moderate Green formation; Jobbik: fascists)

    (CSU, CDU: Bavarian/rest of Germany Christian Socialists/Democrats; FDP: [neo-]liberals; FW: Free Voters, localists; SPD: Social Democrats; Die Grünen: Greens; Die Linken: Left Party; DVU, Rep[ublikaner]: far-right)

    Next, level of shared values with individual parties:

    I suspect the reason this test claims I share more with the domestic far-right than the CDU, CSU and FDP is the fascists' support for the social state.

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:35:50 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    very elegant work, dodo, thanks!

    '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 23rd, 2009 at 09:19:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If you mean the graphs, they are screen-grabs, not my work :-)

    Would you take the test & post your own results for Italy in nanne's new FP story?

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:32:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I ended up in the middle of the upper left quandrant, though there were no specific Finnish questions except to ask a 'votability rating' for each Finnish political party.

    You can't be me, I'm taken
    by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:35:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    i did it, but cannot grab the image, it won't let me.

    any tips? there's got to be an easier way than screen snapshotting it then posting it on flickr, please?

    '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 23rd, 2009 at 09:51:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Screenshot, crop, save as gif, upload to [Photobucket in my case] was exactly what I did.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:32:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    well, i went through it twice now, getting slightly different results.
    i found the questions not nuanced enough, so i'm going to pass, if you don't mind, thanks for the invite, Dodo.

    '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 Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 08:30:54 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ECONOMY & FINANCE
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:03 PM EST
    The World From Berlin: Germany's 'Pathetic' Public Banks Need Overhaul - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

    Berlin has little choice but to help German banks rid themselves of toxic assets at taxpayers' risk, write media commentators. But in doing so it must insist on a radical restructuring of the publicly owned state banks, or Landesbanken, which have outlived their usefulness.

     Clouds loom over Germany's top banks in Frankfurt, the financial capital. Germany moved closer to ridding its banking sector of toxic assets on Tuesday at a meeting of government ministers and financial regulators who said they expected to have a firm plan to set up "bad banks" -- waste dumps for junk securities that are weighing down banks' balance sheets -- in place by the summer.

    The officials agreed to work on finalizing a draft law in the coming weeks, present it to Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet by mid-May and get it approved by parliament by the summer.

    The value of toxic assets in German bank balance sheets is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of euros. The bad banks plan, under which banks can set up state-guaranteed companies and transfer their junk securities into them, is aimed at regenerating the financial system and boosting the stalled flow of credit into the economy, which is in its worst recession since World War II.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:04:36 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    BBC NEWS | UK | England | Dorset | Dorset towns plan to accept euro

    British tourists are being encouraged to holiday on the South Coast this summer by two Dorset towns which will accept unwanted euros.

    Businesses across Bournemouth and Poole will accept the European currency in a move to welcome holidaymakers that may shun trips to the continent.

    Hotels, restaurants and guest houses are among the traders which plan to take on the scheme.

    Tourism chiefs believe the move could be worth about £10m to the region.

    The figure is based on the estimate of half a million tourists each spending 20 euros as a part of their holiday budget.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:07:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Umm, the euro is legal tender in the UK. Marks and spencers mark all their products with prices in euros as well as sterling and accept them in payment.

    keep to the Fen Causeway
    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 05:03:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Marks and spencers mark all their products with prices in euros as well as sterling and accept them in payment.
    At the official exchange rate?

    "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 10:39:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Helen:
    the euro is legal tender in the UK

    Umm, wouldn't that require an Act of Parliament?

    And don't merchants still have the right to refuse to accept euros as payment?

    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 Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:46:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Right. Just because some merchants accept it doesn't mean it is legal tender.

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:35:04 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Darling reveals 50% tax rate for high earners - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

    Chancellor Alistair Darling today gambled on a rapid economic recovery to rebuild Britain's battered finances as he revealed that borrowing this year would hit a record £175 billion.

    In a grim Budget statement he outlined the full depth of the economic crisis.

    Mr Darling warned that output would shrink by 3.5 per cent this year - more than doubling his previous forecast.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:08:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's not people who are on high wages we worry about. It's the ones who have escaped being on a wage and earn stratospheric amounts of money that are effectively untaxed.

    Darling knows this and has done nothing about it cos he's scared shitless of the City.

    keep to the Fen Causeway

    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 05:05:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    50% is a start, although it won't do much more than piss off some of the mid/upper manager types.

    A crackdown on tax avoidance would be much more interesting.

    Considering that the chances of Darling still be chancellor after the next election are somewhere between not very much and absolute zero, you'd think NuLab might finally be able to find a spine for its last hurrah.

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:43:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    German chancellor hosts economic crisis summit | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 22.04.2009
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with industry, banking, government and union leaders in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss how to best cope with the fallout from the current economic crisis.  

    A week before the German government is to issue its next economic forecast, Merkel called representatives from key businesses, banks and unions to a meeting in Berlin to try to assess the size of the crisis, and hammer out a course of action to avoid massive layoffs.

    The government has already passed two stimulus packages it says are worth 81 billion euros ($104.7 billion), but the coalition is considering additional measures. It has, however, rejected calls from service-industry union ver.di and metal-workers' union IG Metall to finance a third, 100-billion-euro stimulus package.

    Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said the "overwhelming majority" of participants at the meeting agreed that talk of a third stimulus package "lacks any foundation."

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:12:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    RGE 2009 Global Economic Outlook (via email, hence no link).

    Many analysts and commentators are pointing out that the second derivative of economic activity is turning positive (i.e. economies are still contracting but a slower rather than accelerated rate) and that green shoots of an economic recovery are blossoming.

    RGE Monitor's analysis of the data suggests that the global economic contraction is still in full swing with a very severe, a deep and protracted U-shaped recession.

    Last year's economic consensus forecast of a V-shaped short and shallow recession has vanished. While the rate of economic contraction is slowing compared to the free fall rates of Q4 of 2008 and Q1 of 2009, we are still a long way away from the economic bottom and from a sustained recovery of growth.

    In particular, in Europe and Japan there is little evidence of a positive second derivative of economic activity.

    by Bernard on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 04:00:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The above message brought to us by the letter "L".

    "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 10:42:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Short Term Set Up in US Equity Markets

    Served by Jesse of Le Café Américain, as a guest post in Naked Capitalism

    After noting that the action in the stock futures market has been moving around furiously since the big bank CEOs met with Obama, Jessie suggests the following:

    To our minds, it is just as likely that we are being set up for a terrific leg down. In our experience the big dogs tend to dominate certain portions of the short side at the apogee of a stock market pump. Our target for a failure point on the SP June futures is about 858-864.

    -Skip-

    Let's see if they can keep it floating up. This does not look like a sustained ramp however, but the pump that sets up the dump.

    -Skip-

    The best probability based on the data at hand is that we are seeing a pump and dump, in order to provide some income to the beleaguered banks through their proprietary trading desks.

    We have not been tracking it, but we wonder if Goldman Sachs has fully placed its large secondary equity offering designed to pay back their TARP funds. The markets often miraculously levitate in sympathetic conjunction with key IPOs and equity tranches.  If they have, then the pump and dump gains in likelihood.



    "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 11:37:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The very next post below Jessies' is from Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge fame:

    SPY Have Become Hard To Borrow

    Developing story: Traders confirm several locations indicating SPDRs are no longer automatic borrow and have made their way to the Hard To Borrow list: pre-borrow call is needed versus automatic short prior, as not enough underlying inventory.

    Have fun hedging the market when you can not short. Wholesale market squeeze is being orchestrated.

    -Skip-

    next step - bidless (and offerless) market. A good analogy would be trying to sell Helmlsey Manor in West Palm Beach. Then again, a 200 point drop in the market on bad news (once they come) from 855 will be less bad than from 755. Even DC is taught simple subtraction.

    LOOK OUT BELOW!  
    Looks like the market is going to jump off a tall building.  Hey, all of the parachutes and trampolines have already been bought up!  Wouldn't want Joe Schmo profiteering, now would we?  Well, I guess one could always short the big financials.

    "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 12:01:44 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm back to shorting the financials. I went in too early (as in I'm down a bunch at the moment) but I'm not worried at all.

    you are the media you consume.

    by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 01:48:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    With so many people suspecting 'pump and dump' market manipulation, what is the SEC doing?

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:36:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Smoking crack, probably.

    What does the SEC usually do?

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:46:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    After the rousing success of the US Tea Bag parties on April 15th the Repubs will be looking for the next opportunity to rev up their base ... could be this coming July 4th with all the flag waving, etc.  They'll want the dump to be well along by then to have a good "catastrophe/ it's all Obama's fault" effect.  At least that's my prediction on the timing, at least as accurate as Sy Hersch on Iran invasions. :)

    They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
    by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:39:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    FT.com: Darling is doing his best to clean up Brown's mess (Willem Buiter's Maverecon, April 22, 2009)
    Mr Darling is doing his best to clean up the mess left by his predecessor, Gordon Brown. The fiscal profligacy of Mr Brown, now prime minister, after New Labour's first term and his leadership since 1997 in the global financial regulatory race to the bottom have left the UK suffering from multiple imbalances. It is in its worst fiscal shape ever in peacetime - in the G8, only the US and Italy come close. It has a bloated financial sector, including a banking sector that is too large to save unless state support is restricted to the UK high street banking bits of UK-based global banking groups. It has a distorted and moribund housing sector and excessively indebted households.

    ...

    Under the best possible scenario, taxes will have to be raised and/or public spending cut on a permanent basis by between 5 and 6 per cent of GDP to regain fiscal sustainability. The necessary permanent fiscal tightening could easily be larger. The pain will be widely felt. The ambition to bring British infrastructure back up to the level it achieved at the end of the 19th century has been postponed by another quarter-century. Education and health will suffer.

    ...

    Mr Darling will therefore need luck as well as skill and determination to get Britain through this Great Contraction without having to go another round in the financial crisis. I would consider the case for a government of national unity. It would help if Mr Brown - responsible more than any one for this debacle - were to resign.



    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:14:31 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Economist's View: Using Anti-Trust Law to Break Up Banks that are Too Big to Fail - Mark Thoma
    So more and more I'm starting to thing there may be a single explanation after all, that the regulators of these markets were captured by powerful forces that wanted the game to continue.

    The power of regulators, and the will to enforce the regulations, must match - in fact exceed - the will and power of those being regulated to resist having constraints placed on their behavior.

    I've talked about why ideology may have eroded the will of regulators, but their will is partly a function of their power. So long as we allow huge, clearly over-sized financial institutions to exist, this problem will potentially be present.

    by Bernard on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:20:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    WORLD
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:20 PM EST
    European Nations May Investigate Bush Officials Over Prisoner Treatment - washingtonpost.com
    BERLIN, April 21 -- European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers.

    Many European officials and civil liberties groups said they were disappointed by President Obama's opposition to trials of CIA interrogators who subjected terrorism suspects to waterboarding and other harsh tactics. They said the release last week of secret U.S. Justice Department memos authorizing the techniques will make it easier for foreign prosecutors to open probes if U.S. officials do not.

    Some European countries, under a legal principle known as universal jurisdiction, have adopted laws giving themselves the authority to investigate torture, genocide and other human rights crimes anywhere in the world, even if their citizens are not involved. Although it is rare for prosecutors to win such cases, those targeted can face arrest if they travel abroad.


    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:59:46 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    They need to look closer to home first to get any credibility. Every country in europe has got dirty hands over rendition. clean that mess u first before silly and pointless gestures over guantanamo

    keep to the Fen Causeway
    by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 05:07:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    France 24 | ANC's Zuma confident as country goes to the polls | France 24
    South Africa goes to the polls today in an election that is all but certain to bring Jacob Zuma, head of the ruling ANC party, to victory. Zuma had corruption charges against him dropped just two weeks before the vote.

    AFP - South Africans went to the polls Wednesday in general elections all but certain to propel the ruling ANC party's controversial leader Jacob Zuma to the presidency.
       
    Lines formed early outside voting stations with a record more than 23 million South Africans registered to cast ballots.
       
    "Most of the voting stations have opened. Where there are problems we are dealing with them," Independent Electoral Commission spokeswoman Kate Bapela told AFP.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:11:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    BBC NEWS | Africa | Huge turnout in South Africa poll

    A huge turnout in South Africa's general election has left officials struggling with angry queues at polling stations and too few ballot papers.

    By mid-afternoon, fears were emerging that ballot papers were running out in places and some ballot boxes were full.

    But election officials say anyone in line when polls close will get to vote.

    The election is expected to be the most competitive since the end of apartheid in 1994. The ruling ANC - led by Jacob Zuma - is expected to win.

    But it could lose its two-thirds majority in parliament which allows it to change the constitution.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:14:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ANC cruises to victory - Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source
    The African National Congress (ANC) has slightly increased its lead over opposition parties in the national election and currently stands on 63,2% with three million votes counted.

    The ruling party broke through the 60% ceiling early on Thursday morning and was set to achieve a two-thirds majority in the country's fourth democratic election.

    At 8am the Democratic Alliance (DA) was in second place with 19,92% (584 822 votes) and the Congress of the People (Cope) third with 7,73% of the vote (226 755).

    Smaller opposition parties were still lagging behind with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on 2,7%, the Independent Democrats (ID) on 1,7% and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on 1,2%.

    Votes were still trickling into the national results centre in Pretoria and a voter turnout of more than 70% was expected. With 23-million South Africans registered to vote, this meant that almost 20% of votes had been counted by 8am.

    The DA was still leading the closely watched race in the Western Cape with 53,8% (304 409 votes) against the ANC's 26,8% (151 847 votes).
    by Nomad on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:39:49 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Sadism Report - Moon of Alabama

    Working through the quite detailed and long sadism and torture report Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody" (pdf) the most significant admission to me is the footnote 1219 on page 158:

    Notwithstanding differences between the legal status of detainees held in Iraq and those in Afghanistan, the [Special Mission Unit Task Force] used the same interrogation approaches in both theaters. In addition, the [Combined Joint Task Force 7] interrogation policies included techniques that had been authorized for use at GTMO. By September 2003, interrogation approaches initially authorized for a war in which the President had determined that the protections of the Geneva Conventions did not apply, would be authorized for all U.S. forces in Iraq.

    Abu Ghraib was not an accident but official policy promoted from the very top and many people knew that.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:17:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I bought a bargain basement trio of action/sci-fi films for brainless entertainment over the Easter holidays.  We watched the last one tonight-Independence Day.

    What's stuck in my mind now is the image of the Will Smith character dragging, verbally abusing and taking out his frustrations on by kicking, his alien captive.  What's more, it's meant to be funny, and, since I don't remember it from the first time round, maybe back in 1997 I laughed along with everybody else.

    I feel a bit sick now. We are the stories we tell ourselves.

    by Sassafras on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 06:17:15 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hm. Back then in 1997, I felt sick about the film just based on the trailers. I saw it only a few years ago on TV, and I want those two hours back.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:04:40 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In all these alien invasion sci-fis, I can't get over the following idiocies:

    1. Why would an alien race with super-duper techologies need anything from humans?

    2. Why would these aliens be biologically similar to us?

    3. Why would these biologically similar aliens consider humans the main problem, rather than bacteria and viruses? (THat applies even to Welles's War of Worlds: why would they not know this danger in advance?...)


    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:08:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Alien Invasion sci-fi is a sublimation of fear of human invasion by the enemy du jour.

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:20:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And a potential peace-maker...

    (Exhibit A: Reagan & Gorbi; Exhibit B: from what I read on Wiki, the cartoon original of the IMO excellent Watchmen movie.)

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:41:02 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Things like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and alien abduction in general (especially when abductees are subjected to mind-control or brainwashing, usuall through neural implants) is a sublimation of fear of foreign infiltration.

    It is not a coincidence that these genres have their heyday at the peak of cold-war paranoia in the US in the 1950's.

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

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:46:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In fact, many if not most sentient beings and societies in SF are a sublimation of some humans or societies as we (resp. the writer) know them here and now. While some of that is superb, I am not fond of the idea of SF as a mere analogy. That would make it an exercise in collective autism.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:57:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Now, the question is whether (and how) Soviet-bloc science fiction themes from the cold war differ from American ones.

    Anglo-American post-apocalyptic sci-fi (peaking in the 60's) has to do with the fear of nuclear war, but often this is expressed in stories about mass mortality from disease or ecological failure.

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

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 07:00:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It is too early for it to be up on YouTube, but Keith Olberman had an interview with Janis Karpinski, the retired U.S. Army Brigadier General in charge of Abu Ghraib.  The general generally excoriated Rumsfield, Cheney and Bush for allowing the scapegoating of the "bad apples" under her command, some of whom are now doing time, when it is now public knowledge that they were operating under orders to employ newly designed "enhanced interrogation techniques" which were developed at the direction of and delivered by representatives of the  very top echelons of the Bush Administration, including Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfield.  In effect, she asked, if these techniques were so important to national security why did not these worthies stand up and say that these soldiers were following their orders.

    Rachel Maddow then "disambiguates" the origin of those orders and their purpose by citing the now vastly more complete public record to show that the new techniques were developed from US military training procedures designed to familiarize pilots and others likely to be captured with techniques to which they might be subjected.  She noted that these techniques were understood to have been used by the Chinese Communist regime to obtain false confessions for propaganda purposes and the purpose of exposing U.S. servicemen to them was to enable them better to resist them and "return home with honor."

    She notes that the urgency to deploy these techniques peaked before there were any prisoners on whom to use them, that the FBI, who had an excellent record of getting cooperation from and convictions of prisoners such as those involved in the '94 bombing of the World Trade Center had objected to and withdrawn from all of these interrogations, and makes a clear case that they were employed deliberately and specifically to create  false confessions corroborating the Bush Administration's justifications for preemptive war in Iraq.

    Karpinski: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677#30356123

    The Maddow segment, (the first segment) is not up yet.  The link is to the interview on Tuesday with Phillip Zelikow, a former State Department Attorney, who wrote a memo explaining why the use of the new techniques was a bad idea.  The Bush Administration attemped to retrieve and destroy all copies.

    Maddow:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#30335366

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

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 11:22:08 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Diary?

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:44:16 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    AP:
    Rice OK'd CIA waterboard request

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- As national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to OK use of the simulated drowning technique.

    The new timeline shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    The narrative also shows that dissenting legal views about the severe interrogation methods were brushed aside repeatedly.
    ...

    We all remember how Dr Rice bristled at the suggestion that US had lost its high moral ground. Now we have proof of her hypocrisy. Is it the start of unravelling of Bush administration misdeeds or just damage control exercise to absolve Bush and Cheney?

    by FarEasterner on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:39:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Israel Puts Iran Issue Ahead of Palestinians - washingtonpost.com

    JERUSALEM -- The new Israeli government will not move ahead on the core issues of peace talks with the Palestinians until it sees progress in U.S. efforts to stop Iran's suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon and limit Tehran's rising influence in the region, according to top government officials familiar with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's developing policy on the issue.

    "It's a crucial condition if we want to move forward," said Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, a member of the Israeli parliament and former ambassador to the United States. "If we want to have a real political process with the Palestinians, then you can't have the Iranians undermining and sabotaging."

    The emerging Israeli position, a significant change from that of previous governments, presents a challenge for President Obama, who has made quick progress on Palestinian statehood a key foreign policy goal. Obama is also trying to begin engagement with Iran as part of a broad effort to slow its nuclear program and curtail its growing strength in the Middle East.

    U.S. officials are wary of linking the two issues and, if anything, would like to do the reverse of what Israel has proposed, by using progress in the Israeli-Palestinian talks to curb Iranian influence, which is wielded in the region through anti-Israeli organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

    "We have to be pretty careful how you approach that kind of connection," said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "We are dealing with Iran because there are behaviors out there that are deeply troubling. We would be doing that regardless of other issues. By the same token, the Palestinian issue is an issue that obviously evokes a great deal in the region."



    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:45:58 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "Puts Iran Issue Ahead"? What a silly spin from the WaPo. It's more like making up excuses, excuses -- and the Palestinian issue is clearly ahead.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:10:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm  not sure who's being silly here - in this case WaPo or Israel. A posture like that would be consistent with their nutcasery.

    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 Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:40:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Iran Officially Welcomes Nuclear Talks - NYTimes.com

    TEHRAN --Iran announced officially on Wednesday that it welcomed talks over its nuclear program, and said that it was ready to offer a proposal to resolve the dispute over its uranium enrichment activities, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last week in a speech that Iran would take part in the talks. Wednesday's statement appeared to be an official response to an April 8 invitation by six major powers, including the United States, for a meeting to find a diplomatic solution.

    The statement also said that Iran would continue its ongoing nuclear work in "active collaboration" with the United Nations nuclear agency and in the framework of the main international treaty that aims to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and promote peaceful uses of nuclear power.

    "The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its nuclear activities in an active collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency in the framework of the N.P.T., along with other member nations," it said, referring to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.



    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:53:13 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hillary Clinton warns of 'existential threat' in Pakistan - Los Angeles Times
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned in unusually bleak terms Wednesday that Pakistan's fragile government is facing an "existential threat" from Islamic militants who are now operating within a few hours of the capital.

    ...

    Clinton spoke as militants expanded into new territory adjacent to the Swat Valley and 60 miles from Islamabad, and top U.S. officials continue to make regular visits to Pakistan. Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting now. A special U.S. envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, was there this month.

    Clinton's comments to the House Foreign Affairs Committee underscored increasing U.S. alarm at how the militants' strength has grown even as the Obama administration has begun trying to implement a new strategy for stabilizing the country. U.S. officials are worried not only about the stability of Pakistan, but also about neighboring Afghanistan, where they are committing an extra 21,000 troops this year to try to stanch the advances of the Taliban and allied insurgents.



    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:50:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:45 PM EST
    Genetic Modification: Is Demonizing Monsanto Blocking Real Progress? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

    Germans are celebrating the fact that the government has banned genetically modified corn. But the country's almost blanket opposition to genetic modification ignores the fact that it might just help scientists find a solution for feeding a swelling global population.

     Will opposing genetically modified plants ultimately lead to more people starving? All's well again in the world of Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) party, an outspoken opponent of genetic engineering and genetically modified (GM) plants. German Agriculture Minister and CSU member Ilse Aigner has slapped a ban on MON 810, a type of GM corn seed produced and marketed by the American agricultural corporation Monsanto, and opponents of the technology are celebrating the victory. Germany's governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the CSU's sister party, opposed the ban at first but eventually supported it. Now the CDU hopes that its support will lead more Bavarians to return the favor by voting for the CSU in the upcoming German and EU parliamentary elections.

    The inhabitants of rural Bavarian towns, whose fields have become battlegrounds for people for and against genetic engineering, can now breathe a sigh of relief. But the real problems are just beginning -- only in other places.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:06:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    find a solution for feeding a swelling global population

    Blah blah blah, falling for the propaganda or issuing it on own motivation?... The problem of feeding the global population is one of distribution, not total production; and GMO doesn't benefit subsistence farmers in hungering countries, it benefits agrobusiness for export (and, of course, holders of genetic copyright).

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:48:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Indeed.

    And didn't someone recently link to a study showing that GM crops are not really more productive in practice?

    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 Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:43:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, we did:
    Union of Concerned Scientists: Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops (2009)


    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:45:40 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Aliens exist and UFOs are covered-up by US government, says ex-astronaut - Telegraph
    Alien life does exist but the truth is being covered up by the United States government, former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell has claimed.

    Mr Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, made the claims in a talk to the fifth annual X-Conference - a meeting of those who believe in UFOs and other life forms.

    He also said he had attempted to investigate the 1947 'Roswell Incident', which some believe was the crash-landing of a UFO, but had been thwarted by military authorities.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:09:15 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That explains how I got here.  Now, how the hell do I get out of here?  This place is borrrrring.

    They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
    by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 03:22:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    they dumped you here as punishment. You know, what the Brits used to do in Australia.
    by Nomad on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:47:06 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Stupid UFO dumpers, but if I know me, I actually volunteered for this duty.  Idiot!

    They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
    by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:54:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And we know how that worked - the criminals got pristine beaches and almost endless sunshine, and the lawful types got industrial smog and Charles Dickens.
    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 08:56:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    God, imagine if they had deported Dickens.

    "It was the best of barbies, it was the worst of barbies...

    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 Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:43:27 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Students Find Jupiter-sized Oddball Planet

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2009) -- A team of astronomers from University College London (UCL), including undergraduate students, have discovered that an exotic world passes directly in front of the Sun-like star it orbits, revealing for the first time that it is about the same size as Jupiter.

    And rather than travelling to one of the major observatories in Hawaii or Chile, the students made the discovery with a telescope at UCL's University of London Observatory (ULO) in the capital's northern suburb of Mill Hill.

    The work was partly funded by a grant from the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and will be presented on Tuesday 21st April at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference by ULO astronomer Dr. Steve Fossey; Ingo Waldmann, a final-year undergraduate and David Kipping, a PhD student working in the field of exoplanet science.

    The team were alerted by the exoplanet science website http://www.oklo.org, run by Greg Laughlin of the University of California Santa Cruz. Using infrared space observations, Greg predicted that a planet (HD 80606b) would pass in front of its parent star (HD 80606) in a so-called transit event.

    On the evening of 13th February, prompted by his alert, Dr Fossey and five UCL undergraduate observers started monitoring the brightness of HD 80606, and some 10 hours later at just after 4 am they discovered they had found the planet's transit.

    [...]

    The planet, called HD80606b, is unusual in that it travels in a highly elliptical orbit about its parent star. At its furthest point, it is almost as far from its star as the Earth is from the Sun. But every 111 days it is briefly a scorching 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. A hypothetical observer above the cloud tops of the planet would see its parent star swell to 30 times the apparent size of the Sun in our own sky.

    HD80606b now holds the record for both the longest orbital period and most eccentric orbit of all transiting planets and with such extreme variations in heating it presents a fascinating object for further study.



    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:49:58 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I note highly elliptical orbints aren't that exceptional among the hot jupiters discovered in the past decade and half.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:49:47 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That is an artifact of doppler detection methods as only a highly eccentric planet will produce a measurable wobble in the star's location.

    Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:53:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Caribbean At Risk Of Tsunami, Disaster Experts Warn

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 21, 2009) -- Up to 30,000 residents and tourists could be under threat from a newly discovered tsunami risk in the Caribbean, according to experts in disaster risk management.

    The heavily populated coast of Guadeloupe will have little warning if a tsunami is triggered by the collapse of a volcano on the nearby island of Dominica.

    A team of geologists, led by Dr Richard Teeuw from the University of Portsmouth, have discovered that a flank of the volcano Morne aux Diables ("Devils' Peak") shows signs of collapse and if so, a million-ton chunk of rock could crash into the sea, producing tsunami waves up to almost 3 metres (10 feet) high.

    Such a rock fall could also weaken three million tones of rock upslope, potentially resulting in much larger landslides and waves of up to five metres. 

    Dr Teeuw said: "It's not a case of if this landslide and tsunami will happen, but when. The trigger will probably be a major earthquake, occurring after the heavy rain and coastal erosion of the hurricane season.  It could happen in a hundred years or it could happen next week. 



    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:51:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    KLATSCH
    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 01:57:05 PM EST
    Berlusconi and his new golden girl are laid bare - Europe, World - The Independent
    Premier and his starlet minister learn the dark art of satire, reports Peter Popham

    Silvio Berlusconi's light-hearted dalliance with a television starlet whom he subsequently appointed to his cabinet has been made the subject of an oil painting in which both are shown in the nude.

    Two years ago the Italian Prime Minister told the starlet, Mara Carfagna - and millions watching on TV - that he would marry her like a shot if he wasn't married already. His wife, Veronica Lario, demanded and obtained a public apology but last year Mr Berlusconi made her Minister of Equal Opportunities in his new government. Now Italy's most celebrated virtual couple find themselves together on a gallery wall near Savona in Liguria. Mr Berlusconi is depicted with a pair of giant wings extending protectively around his naked minister. Both wear sober, almost prudish expressions. Mr Berlusconi might be about to whisper sweet political nothings in his protegée's ear; Ms Carfagna, on the other hand, has her eyes directed towards the premier's (discreetly covered) genitals.

    But Ms Lario arguably has the last laugh, starring stark naked in a canvas of her own, angelic wings spread wide, with a pair of enormous, very soft-looking breasts and a ghostly smile on her chalk white face.

    by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:09:48 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    NEW YORK--Sources at The New Yorker said a new article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh "blows the lid completely off" a subject matter far too soul-crushing for the human brain to process. Hersh, renowned for breaking stories on events such as the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib, is said to have plumbed every last, depressing detail of the newly uncovered topic, which likely involves an inconceivable combination of violence, drunken abuses of power, wanton disregard for the sanctity of human life, and a chain of deceit and corruption leading all the way to the top. According to a recent poll, none of The New Yorker's nearly 1 million subscribers had summoned the strength to crack the story's first paragraph, instead turning to the new Roz Chast cartoon on the next page. (A very reliable source)
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 03:21:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Followed your link, made it to the Onion, got nothing.  What's up?  Is it just my machine?

    They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
    by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 03:39:11 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Dubai? Sanford? Cheney? Missles to Iran?
    by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 03:45:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Giant Nazi cows on the loose in Britain | Metro.co.uk
    A breed of giant cattle created by the Nazis can now be seen in Britain for the first time after a farmer imported the huge creatures to graze conservation land.


    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 Apr 22nd, 2009 at 08:17:47 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Right Moment to Photograph

    There are brilliant images here.

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

    by Crazy Horse on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:08:06 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    As many of you already know, I work for the Hungarian State Railways. Employees of the company have free rail passes, valid for one year.

    However, in the course of the neverending reorganisation of the company, the ministry and the company heads kept delaying the decision about whether my branch should continue to have that benefit. In practice, that meant that instead of getting new rail passes, the validity of the old one was extended.

    So, here I am with the rail pass of 2007, the validity of which was just extended again...

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

    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:43:23 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    BTW, we also have limited period free passes for other European railways, as a holiday travel benefit. To prove that we deserve it, in theory conductors can ask for us to show our domestic free rail passes. To date, this never happened, but I can imagine getting in some troubles then...

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 04:45:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I've een gooling around for some external references to Eurotrib articles. I found myself referenced in Smoke deflectors - Wikipedia...

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 09:01:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    My PC has gone kaput on me, it'll be some time before I get my new one, until then I'll be offline most of the time. Have fun but don't do anything I'd do.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:58:17 AM EST
    Klatsch.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:04:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]


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