Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 24 April

by Fran Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:29:03 PM EST

On this date in history:

1878 – Jean Crotti, a Swiss artist, was born. (d. 1958)

More here and here


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by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:14:00 PM EST
EU report: racism, discrimination of minorities widespread in Europe | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 22.04.2009
The largest survey to date of ethnic minorities living in Europe has found that the majority experience racism and discrimination on a day-to-day basis, with Roma and Africans feeling especially vulnerable. 

The survey of 23,500 people revealed that discrimination, harassment and racially motivated violence were far more widespread than recorded in official statistics.

"The survey reveals how large the 'dark figure' of racist crime and discrimination really is in the EU. Official racism figures only show the tip of the iceberg," agency director Morten Kjaerum said.

The report by the EU's agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said that around 55 percent of minority residents and migrants felt ethnically inspired bias was widespread. But of the 12 percent who reported witnessing a racist crime in the past 12 months, 80 percent did not go to the authorities about it, reflecting the belief that little could be done to tackle the problem, Kjaerum said.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:17:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe more racist than previously reported - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Racism towards minority groups in Europe is far more prevalent than previously reported in official statistics, with victims feeling they have little recourse to justice.

Those are the stark findings of a new report published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on Wednesday (22 April) based on research carried out in each of the EU's 27 member states last year.

Roma children - Roma have the highest unemployment rates and lowest education levels

"The survey reveals how large the `dark figure' of racist crime and discrimination really is in the EU. Official racism figures only show the tip of the iceberg," said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum.

Researchers for the report questioned immigrants and individuals from ethnic minorities about the levels of discrimination, harassment and racially motivated violence they had encountered over the last 12 months.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:17:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought that European racism was widely reported?  Maybe this is just because I live in the US.
by paving on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:29:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally someone is talking.But I am afraid that when they read this West Europeans automatically think about Eastern Europe.Actually they are not better if not much worse in Western Europe.Cities like London and Paris ( and other megalopolises) may be filled with lot of immigrants but they live in ghettos and are not that much welcomed except to work hard jobs for less money and then go home.In Sweden it is an offense to have dark hair...they have derogatory name for it.
Overseas countries made by immigrants are not any better except that it's not that visible here in Australia ( Aboriginals excluded).
But it seems today that biggest offense is to be poor.There is no discrimination amongst rich.They all play golf together and these days worry about their billions...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:12:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU fishing policy not working, says commission - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission has conceded that its current fishing policy is not working and instead has resulted in alarming levels of overfishing.

In response, it says swingeing cuts are needed to Europe's fishing fleet via the next reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, scheduled for 2012.

Almost 90 percent of EU fish stocks are overfished, the commission says

In a position paper adopted on Wednesday (22 April), the commission reports that 88 percent of the bloc's fish stocks are overfished, with 30 percent of stocks "outside safe biological limits"

"Most of our problems stem from overcapacity," said fisheries commissioner Joe Borg.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:18:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a tough one to get right. It took decades of back and forth between the New England fishing industry and the federal government before a stable balance between fish populations and fishermen's livelihoods were sort of balanced. Seasons, permissible gear, quotas, etc. all went into the mix.

These days, fishermen are up in arms about our own offshore wind power proposal, the Cape Wind project. Sport fishermen should love it (it creates structure and makes fish easier to locate), but commercial net fishermen feel they won't be able to work those waters.

Me, I don't eat fish. I say, go for the windmills.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 11:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Be interesting to see if the fish stocks come back.  The Canadian example say not.  We'll see.

These days, fishermen are up in arms about our own offshore wind power proposal, the Cape Wind project ... commercial net fishermen feel they won't be able to work those waters.

Tough noggies

An estimated 90% of large predatory fish are gone from our world's oceans. Of 230 assessed U.S. fisheries, 54 stocks are classified as over-fished, 45 stocks are experiencing overfishing and just over half of the nation's stocks are in uncertain status.

Either we're going to stop vacuuming all the fish out of the water or the global fisheries are going to collapse.  By effectively closing some waters to fishing it will allow space - the most important thing needed - as well as time for Nature to do her thing.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 12:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My first thought about Cape Winds and commercial fishing was, "ok. A safe haven for fish."

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:30:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliament questions Solana accounts - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Parliament on Thursday (23 April) decided to delay until November approval of the Council of the European Union's accounts for 2007, in a bid to gain more financial scrutiny over the bloc's main decision maker.

MEPs hope to gain momentum ahead of the June elections and scrap a "gentlemen's agreement" dating back to 1970, according to which the parliament does not look into the books of the Council, which are checked by the Court of Auditors and national experts.

Inside the Council building in Brussels during a meeting of foreign ministers

"That was 39 years ago, when the EU wasn't even called like that, with six member states, a non-elected parliament and way before security and defence policy. To think that it can be prolonged forever is ridiculous," said Danish MEP Soren Bo Sondergaard, who was the parliament's rapporteur for the 2007 EU accounts.

All EU institutions received a green light regarding the way they spent their budget in 2007, except for the Council, an administrative body in charge of organising EU summits, ministerial meetings, ambassadors and expert groups on various topics ranging from fisheries to security and defence.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:19:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | French Freescale plant to be shut down: 1,700 jobs at risk | France 24
US semiconductor manufacturer Freescale intends to close its French plant, which employs some 1,700 people, by the end of 2011. The group also plans to shut down one of its Japanese plants, in an effort to remain "competitive".

AFP - US semiconductor manufacturer Freescale announced on Wednesday that it was closing plants in France and Japan.
  
The Austin, Texas-based Freescale said that "in order to remain competitive and maintain an efficient manufacturing footprint" it was closing facilities in Toulouse, France, and another in Sendai, Japan, by the end of 2011.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Freescale was the semiconductor division of Motorola and was spun off in 2004 in an IPO to the New York Stock Exchange.

In 2006 -- at the height of the semiconductors cycle -- it was acquired by a consortium of private equity funds led by Blackstone.

Saddled with $8 billion of debt (Ah, the good old days of cheap, abundant debt), that reportedly cost Freescale $700m a year to service, the company has been in a "sticky" financial ever since.

Plant closures in France and Japan are just the tip: Freescale is most likely toast. At best, its remaining assets will be bought out by surviving chipmakers for pennies on the dollar.

There are plenty of businesses going bankrupt these days, even though they are making a profit: their new PE owners have siphoned off most of their cash and they're running out of liquidity. PE: Weapons of Mass Industrial Destruction.

by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[freescale's Toast Watch!™ Technology]

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:16:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nexperia/NXP (formerly Philips Semiconductors) is about to go the same way for the same reasons.

The only major euro foundry after the debacle will be STMicroelectronics.

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:43:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Disclosure: I have been a ST employee in a previous life).
ST is not a "foundry", like TSMC, UMC or Grace, i.e. a company that manufactures wafers for other "fabless" chipmakers.

Surely, you mean that they --still-- have their own wafer fabs, such as Crolles in France or Agrate in Italy; true, although they also subcontract wafers to TSMC and the likes.

The main strength of ST these days, IMHO, is that 27.5% of their capital is held by essentially the French state and the Italian state (Areva, Finmeccanica,...) and they won't be sold to PE anytime soon. (Source: company site)

by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 08:05:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yup, they design a large catalog of products of their own. I worked with them, but not for them (as an employee)
they also do foundry services on occasion (for the most expensive processes, they can't compete with tsmc on price for a 180nm run)

But my understanding of the core of their added value (as of around 2002) was that they operated as an integrated "custom-design + foundry service" for select customers (with Nokia on top) to capitalize on the large in-house library of hard IP for analog, mixed-signal, RF, audio...

The final chips in the phone had nokia stamped on them, and nokia had exclusivity, but it was an ST-assembled patchwork of non-exclusive ST IP blocks optimized for an ST process. And that billed a lot more than a pure foundry run at TSMC for the same nmber of wafers.

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 08:29:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Turkey and Armenia set 'roadmap'

Turkey and Armenia have said they have agreed on a "framework" to normalise their bilateral ties, putting decades of strained relations behind them.

A statement by their foreign ministers said they had "achieved tangible progress and mutual understanding".

But it did not say how the neighbours would resolve their dispute over the mass killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915.

Turkey has condemned widespread efforts to have them defined as genocide.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Rome wants G8 talks in quake town

Italy's cabinet has backed plans by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to move this summer's G8 summit to the earthquake-struck town of L'Aquila.

Other G8 member states would need to back the move.

Italy had previously planned to hold the 8-10 July summit on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

An earthquake on 6 April devastated L'Aquila and the surrounding area, leaving 295 people dead and at least 50,000 homeless.

The decision to back the summit move was made at a cabinet meeting held in L'Aquila.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:24:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A hell of a propaganda move. I don't know how practical it is, but in a certain way appropriate in a world crisis for which the G8 carries a burden of responsibility- or shall we call it, "the burden of irresponsibility?"

I suggest holding the meetings in the student house that was built with anti-seismic criteria but had been abandoned in a bureaucratic limbo for years, thus precluding its use for student housing. The building that effectively housed the students collapsed with the first shock, killing nine students.

Another symbolic episode today is the scoop of a government-sponsored, in depth study of the devastation a foreseeable earthquake would cause to the area of Aquila with strong and urgent recommendations to limit damages. The report, written in 1988, was ignored.

Relevant to the subject, for it concerns the earthquake area, Berlusconi has finally decided that he will celebrate April 25th, Liberation Day, after refusing to celebrate it for the past 14 years. Tantamount to FDR refusing to celebrate July 4th for all four terms, or a French president who refuses to celebrate July 14th.

The town of Onna which was totally wiped out by the earthquake will receive Berlusconi to commemorate the victims of a Nazi massacre there.

Last year Berlusconi had celebrated Liberation Day by receiving Senator Ciarrapico, a notoriously unrepentant Fascist.

Recent revisionism concerning Berlusconi's father's role in WWII now has him as pro-ally. This urban legend was first announced by Berlusconi on Capitol Hill in his speech before a few Senators and lots of claque. Since then it has even creeped into critical biographies such as one recently transmitted in France.

Berlusconi's father, Luigi, was a bank clerk for the Rasini family bank. During the Republic of Salò he commutted back and forth between Lugano and Milan. When Milan was liberated he chose to remain in Lugano for a month. The Rasini bank, where Luigi Berlusconi rose to become director, went on to be indicated by major mafia figures such as Michele Sindona, as the conduit for money laundering for decades.

It is fairly difficult to imagine a similar individual, who ran errands for his bank in the fascist republic to a neutral state, as being a secret fan of the allies. His son, Silvio, has repeatedly made symbolic gestures of his own fascist faith.

For whatever he may do in Onna on this April 25th, he's likely to be dressed in black.

Recent polls (his- which are the only True polls) put Silvio at a 73% approval rating. He has declared that he's the most loved leader on earth, far outdistancing Obama. Earthquakes bring him fortune- and endless photo opportunities.

So, yes, let the G8 stroll through the rubble.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even though I know better it is possible to view this as an attempt to revive the economic fortunes of the town by having a big meeting which will surely pour money and resources into the place.
by paving on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:31:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
B. claims he will save 220 million euros by doing it in l'aquila.

mind you, the place they were originally going was a really upscale (equivalent of the Hamptons) in Sardinia.
still, it kinda boggles the brain, imagining it...

in typically snide fashion he also extolled the virtues of his choice because according to him the no-global protesters (whom he loathes passionately) will not dare show up there.

the 'gotcha' smile when he purred this fact was a new high point of sheer bad taste in his career, already stellar in this regard.

italy's economy is being severely crippled by the lack of wide broadband rollout. my guess is that the government is willing to sacrifice the tax revenue because it's scared of a thousand more beppe grillo clones popping up and wreaking merry hell with their plans to continue bleeding its people dry.

this kind of dilemna must be quite a thorny one for them, and i doubt time is on their side. just as with solar, they will delay until the absolute last minute, to enable their friends to keep snarfing up from the public trough as long as possible.

you can take that to the bank!

'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 10:05:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not going to happen. I can't imagine the world's most self-important people wanting to meet in an out-of-the-way village where the roof could fall in on them.

Luxury and safety are much more their style.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that was my first thought too, yeah fat chance...where are the 6**** restaurants, the hookers etc...

"welcome, prime minister, here's your hard hat!
no need to worry about the protesters, but you might want to keep your eye on the cracks in the ceiling."

"What is called the adjustment of man to his environment takes place through the medium of fictions." Walter Lippmann

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 09:13:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Recent polls (his- which are the only True polls) put Silvio at a 73% approval rating. He has declared that he's the most loved leader on earth, far outdistancing Obama.
----------
Unbelievable...then again Hitler and Mussolini probably had 99% at some point...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:28:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel takes bashing in EU foreign relations audit - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Progress on upgrading EU-Israel relations will remain frozen until Israel takes steps to repair the peace process with Palestinians, the European Commission said on Thursday (23 April).

"We do not believe the time is right to go beyond the current level of relations," external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in Brussels during an annual stock-taking of ties with its neighbours.

Gaza after Operation Cast Lead: The strip remains closed to reconstruction

"We expect a clear commitment from the new [Israeli] government to pursue negotiations with the Palestinians. We expect a stop of all activities undermining our objective to a two-state solution - and this includes in particular settlement expansion, which is continuing on daily basis."

"The ball is now in the court of Israel."

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:25:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which puts all the more pressure on the US to move either way, to try to get Tel Aviv to move, to try to get the Palestinians to move, Iran, etc.

Though why the US gets stuck with this loser of a proposition is beyond me.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 12:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Illegal logging targeted by parliamentEUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Parliament has approved stricter rules on timber sold in the European Union in order to take on illegal logging - one of the major causes of deforestation.

According to the rules, all operators in the timber supply chain - from lumberjack to lumber yard - must prove the legality of their timber.

Deforestation causes almost a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions

Those that are found to be supplying illegal timber illegal timber will be slapped with fines - imposed at the EU member state level - that reflect the degree of environmental and economic damage.

The penalties must represent at least five times the value of the timber products obtained by committing a serious infringement and will go up in the event of repeat infringements.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog


I'm publishing an appeal to the Internet from Luigi de Magistris.

Text:

"Well, I've been inspired by Beppe Grillo. This is a political press release that I am issuing to the Web.
Men and women of the Web, let us all unite! I believe that it is the moment to get committed, each one of us with our own history, to change this country.
What I have been experiencing in the last few days and the last few hours is very important. There is the feeling of something absolutely vital that could happen, there is an unbiased role to be played by everyone. Each one of us can feel we can play an essential part in this political journey that has to change this country. It has to change from every point of view. In an apparent act of preservation that is the decisive defence of the Constitution, but above all it has to change in new ways, a new way of doing politics in a sector that up until now, has been characterised by dishonest practices and baseness.
Thus, first and foremost an economic model that has to be completely different, compatible with the environment and able to produce an economy that is completely different from that done in recent decades, that has been founded almost exclusively on oil, thus conditioning whole generations. On this point, the young people can be fundamental. Why am I making this appeal? I am making this appeal because I believe that each one of us, the independent candidates in this election competition within "Italia dei Valori", needs suggestions, ideas, and the enthusiasm of everyone.
It is an appeal not just for confrontation, but also for union. I believe that it is the moment for mobilisation in the whole of Italy, to form a network of people just like has been done on the Internet. We need to do it also on the streets, with the people, with the public, in such a way that by June we are all aware that we have lent a hand for the start of a journey that I feel is really revolutionary. Thank you."


'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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:51:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 
by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:14:31 PM EST
EP campaign meets the EU public « Behind the Scenes

Poor well-meaning ideas. They come out of the EU meeting room bright, shiny and swollen with good intentions. A few days, or hours even, in the public eye and their practical manifestations are misinterpreted, derided, hijacked by cynicism and even peed on (yes literally.)

The European Parliament's pre-election campaign with its giant posters, TV spots and roadshows has had several unplanned (I assume) confrontations with the great EU public.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECONOMY & FINANCE
by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:14:53 PM EST
Automobile Crisis: Fiat Seeks Majority Stake in Opel - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A solution appears to be emerging in the bid to find a major investor for beleaguered German carmaker Opel. SPIEGEL has learned that Italian automaker Fiat is planning to buy shares in the GM subsidiary. A letter of intent is expected to be signed next week. However, workers have said they would resist the deal.

Fiat is soon expected to take over General Motors' European operations. Information obtained by SPIEGEL from sources familiar with the negotiations say that Fiat will sign a letter of intent on Tuesday. Afterwards, the Italian carmaker would obtain a majority stake in the troubled German auto manufacturer Opel.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:19:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reversal of Fortunes: Volkswagen Mulls Porsche Takeover - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Volkswagen is reported to be pondering a takeover of the Porsche sports car business. Parent company Porsche Automobil Holding is struggling to service its debts and CEO Wendelin Wiedeking is reported to be losing the backing of the Piëch and Porsche families.

The Porsche-Volkswagen corporate saga continues with reports that Volkwagen is considering a bid for Porsche's automotive business, something that could completely change the balance of power between the two companies. Parent company Porsche Automobil Holding SE launched an audacious takeover of the much larger VW over three years ago, and it now owns just over 50 percent of the company. However, financial difficulties at Porsche, including massive debt, seem to have forced a rethink of the relationship between the two German carmakers.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:20:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
Parent company Porsche Automobil Holding SE launched an audacious takeover of the much larger VW over three years ago, and it now owns just over 50 percent of the company.
Wait a second, how does the subsidiary buying out the parent solve anything?

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:37:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And why do they need money in the first place? I thought they made a killing with the VW corner.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 04:31:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Raiding the coffers of newly conquered vassals

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 04:56:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Opel workers don't want Fiat to buy shares in their company, they could outbid...

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:35:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is (maybe) not quite as weird as it sounds. Certainly in the early 2000s Fiat and GM Europe had a joint purchasing unit based in Frankfurt, so a) Opel and Fiat have experience in working together, and b) purchasing identical parts implies that their platforms are at least similar.

On the downside, both carmakers are concentrated in the economy-to-midsize segment, so a merger would mean a major job hemorrhage.

Also, Fiat has no money:

Fiat debt levels soar, 2009 profits seen lower | Reuters

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Fiat SpA (FIA.MI) slashed its profit outlook for 2009 by about a third and revealed a debt pile three times its own forecasts, sending shares in Europe's sixth-biggest automaker nearly 12 percent lower.

Industrial debt, which excludes debt from financial services, soared to 5.9 billion euros ($7.66 billion) last year, shocking investors and sending shares in the maker of cars, trucks and tractors down 11.35 percent to 3.9450 euros at 1339 GMT (8:39 a.m. EST), their lowest level in around 15 years.

"They are burning cash ... It's awful," said one Milan broker.

And Fiat is not the only contender:

FT.com / Companies / Automobiles - Fiat pursues GM Europe stake

Fiat on Thursday positioned itself as a leader of global motor industry consolidation, signalling an interest in taking a stake in General Motors' European business as it rushes to cement an alliance with Chrysler.

The Italian carmaker is among up to seven contenders for a stake in GM Europe, of which Germany's Opel forms the largest part and which includes the UK's Vauxhall, several government and car industry sources have told the Financial Times.

One of whom is worth a closer look (from same article):

Canadian car parts maker Magna International was also interested in GM's European operations, said Hendrik Hering, economy minister for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

I have no idea how serious this offer is, but Magna is already making cars in Europe (they bought contract assembler Steyr in Graz, Austria a few years back). As the market shrinks and excess capacity increase, contract assembly is maybe not the best line of work to be in (don't just take my word - ask Karmann). And an Opel bid would certainly offer potential for vertical integration.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 04:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not Out of the Woods Yet: Experts Warn that Banking Euphoria Is Premature - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Good news from six US banks has raised hopes that an end to the financial crisis might be in sight. But German experts think the euphoria is wishful thinking. As they see it, things are going to get worse soon -- and banks will be forced to make billions more in write-downs.

The news spreads like wildfire and hope starts to bloom. One after the other, six US banks -- including the largest, Bank of America -- have submitted performance figures for the first quarter of 2009 that are far better than experts had predicted.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
duh
by paving on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:34:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the post here quoting from the traders' blog, Zero Hedge, that traders thought this round of earning reports were untrustworthy (which is against the law, btw).

The MSM is buying it anyway? (I've stopped following market news, as you can see.)

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 12:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very strange to be a regular reader of ET and watch all this unfold.  Wonder what the next 3 months will look like.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 11:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliament approves reform of credit-rating sector - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Credit-rating agencies operating in the European Union are to be subject to greater oversight in the future under radical new rules agreed by MEPs in Strasbourg on Thursday (23 April).

Under the new legislation, which was steered through the European parliament by French centre-right MEP Jean-Paul Gauzes and backed by a large majority of parliamentarians, credit-rating agencies will soon face mandatory registration and greater supervision.

Standard and Poor's headquarters

Debating the document a day earlier with other MEPs, Mr Gauzes said the compromise text agreed with member states was "exemplary legislation" that "could be the basis for an international agreement."

Internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy reacted to the vote by saying: "We expect the conduct of the credit rating agencies to be significantly improved as a result of this regulation, with clear benefits to the integrity and stability of the financial markets."

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:26:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Subprime Loans, Corporate-Style, Will Fuel Defaults

One reason for the rise in defaults is that this is a severe recession. But it is not the principal one. Junk, circa 2009, is the worst junk ever.

-Skip-

The default rate on leveraged loans and speculative grade bonds is rising rapidly. "We expect the default rate to get to the range of 14 percent by the end of the year," said Kenneth Emery, a senior vice president of Moody's. That compares to peak default rates of 10 to 12 percent during the last two recessions, in 1991 and 2001.

That could turn out to be an optimistic forecast. Edward I. Altman, a finance professor at New York University, says he thinks the rate will probably be in the range of 13 to 15 percent, but could go as high as 19 percent this year. If the recession continues into 2010, he fears that year could see a comparable default rate.

Martin S. Fridson, a veteran high-yield analyst who now runs his own research firm, FridsonVision, looked back at the 1991 default rates for various quality high-yield bonds. Since there are many more low-quality bonds now, he says equivalent default rates would produce an overall rate of 24 percent -- twice the old peak.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 12:03:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Should the U.S. bail out California too?

California, always a place of fresh ideas, has a big one for Uncle Sam: Treasurer Bill Lockyer wants a federal guarantee on the massive short-term borrowing the cash-strapped state must undertake this summer.  Just as with a federally insured bank savings certificate, a U.S. backstop of California's debt would assure investors that their money was completely safe.  In theory, that would mean the state could get away with paying a much lower interest rate on the debt -- saving California taxpayers a bundle.

Lockyer doesn't just want a federal guarantee for California's IOUs. He thinks the U.S. should do the same for all states, counties, cities and other municipal entities that need help getting through the recession.  This is exactly what it sounds like: a call for a major expansion of the federal bailout of the nation's financial system -- but this time ostensibly to buttress Main Street, not Wall Street.

The populist argument is a slam-dunk. If the government can save Citigroup and American International Group, why can't it extend a hand to California?  In terms of who's truly deserving of help, "We think California taxpayers stack up pretty well compared with Wall Street firms," said Tom Dresslar, Lockyer's spokesman.

The treasurer has an ally in Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Frank will hold a hearing May 5 as a prelude to drafting legislation that could create a federal insurance program for municipal debt.

Given that California has the largest Democratic delegation in the US House of Representatives, it just might get its guarantee.  But what does and what will "the full faith and credit of the Government of the United States" mean in two more years?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 12:14:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Repeal Prop 13 already.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:38:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prop 13: the most drastic Anti-Georgist measure ever.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:24:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, why should California get bailed out when their fiscal policy is insane? It's only going to happen again.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prop 13: The greatest public policy bait and switch in history.  Howard Jarvis was one of the biggest owners of rental apartment complexes in So. Cal.  He managed to wind up lots of residential real estate owners, the retired and unemployed of which WERE under extreme strain from rising real estate prices, to pass a bill that ALSO applied the same cap on property tax increases that was pitched as a balm to those on fixed income to commercial real estate, which has a much lower turn-over.

At the very least California voters should overturn the Prop 13 provisions for commercial real estate and for all real estate that is not owner occupied.  That could be pitched as a measure acting against future real estate bubbles.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 12:06:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | Why Weber is half right but completely wrong (April 23, 2009)
Regulation and supervision of banks in the EU is a mess; liquidity and solvency support of banks in the Euro Area is a mess.  Lender-of-last resort operations in the Euro Area need fiscal backing for the national central bank participating in it, including a full indemnity by the national treasury involved.  This is not a problem as long as the national identity of the bank is clear.  Whenever this in not the case, disaster can strike.

...

Let me quote from the Commission's website: "The Commission's policies in the field of regulation of banks and financial conglomerates contribute to the relevant sections of the financial services action plan. These policies are based on the principles of mutual recognition and the "single passport", a system which allows financial services operators legally established in one Member State to establish/provide their services in the other Member States without further authorisation requirements." This means that foreign branches of a bank are regulated and supervised by the home country (parent bank country) regulator/supervisor.  This brought us the Icesave disaster where UK, Dutch and German branches of Landsbanki raised billions in deposits in these countries without any effective regulation or supervision from the home country (Icelandic) regulator/supervisor.   It is highly unlikely that these branches would have been able to operate in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany had they been subsidiaries, and therefore regulated and supervised by the host country supervisor-regulator.

...

But though I favour more Europe, I recognise that we are currently in an unsustainable halfway house.  Without deeper integration, we will get less Europe. Unless we integrate banking regulation and supervision and create a fiscal Europe adequate for the task of backing up crossborder banking (and the ECB/Eurosystem), we will witness the repatriation of crossborder banking and the re-creation of 27 national banking markets.



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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:15:11 PM EST
Hillary Clinton: US will organise 'crippling' Iran sanctions if diplomacy fails - Times Online

Hillary Clinton today vigorously defended President Obama's recent overtures to Iran, insisting that the US would be in a better position to organise "crippling" international sanctions should diplomacy fail.

Giving her first congressional testimony on US foreign policy since becoming Secretary of State, Mrs Clinton said stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon was one of the Obama administration's highest priorities.

"We actually believe that by following the diplomatic path we are on, we gain credibility and influence with a number of nations who would have to participate in order to make the sanctions regime as tight and as crippling as we would want it to be," Mrs Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"We know the imperative of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," she added. "After years during which the United States basically sat on the sidelines, we are now a full partner" in international talks with Iran.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:16:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the [Murdoch Alert] was well deserved. The whole notion of "crippling" sanctions on Iran was brought up by Howard Berman (D-CA) committee chairman, both in his opening remarks and again as the topic of his first question.

Congress. Mort coup en haut. . . . .

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:34:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Militants burn NATO fuel tankers in Pakistan - washingtonpost.com

ISLAMABAD -- Dozens of militants armed with guns and gasoline bombs attacked a truck terminal in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday and burned five tanker trucks carrying fuel to NATO troops in Afghanistan, police said.

NATO and U.S. commanders are seeking alternative transport routes into landlocked Afghanistan amid mounting assaults on the critical main supply line through Pakistan.

Militants attacked the truck depot near the city of Peshawar before dawn, hurling gasoline bombs which set fire to the five tankers, said Abdul Khan, a local police official.

Security guards fled and the assailants made their escape before police arrived, Khan said. Several truckers drove their vehicles out of the terminal to save them from the flames, which were later doused by firefighters, he said.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As go the supply lines, so goes the Afghanistan mission.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:40:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always Russia.

[snicker]

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well it's aproximately 55,000 troops, now thats aproximately 15 brigade coombat teams. From a brief scan around the  web, you need roughly 18 C130s daily flying to support , and thats always assuming you have bases in a reasonable range.

So thats 270, just to run supplies in, and thats without replacement vehicles, troop rotations, running VIP's and media in and out, and the enormous fuel and amunition demands for in-theatre airforces and helicopter forces.

Thats over 60% of the entire USAF inventory of C130s, if there is no aircraft out of use (or damaged through interaction with the enemy) through wear and tear.

the 18 flights a day figure by the way assumes that within 14 days, direct naval supply will be available, so we can probably assume that considerably more aircraft will actually be required.

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan paramilitary force routed as Taliban militants extend control towards Islamabad | World news | The Guardian

International alarm at the Talibanisation of parts of northern Pakistan near Islamabad was mounting last night after militants ambushed a convoy of soldiers deployed to prevent extremists taking over a district only 60 miles from the capital.

Snipers opened fire on police escorting four platoons of Frontier Corps paramilitary troops into Buner district, a day after militants overran government buildings and looted western aid offices. One policeman was killed and one injured, an army spokesman said.

Locals said the ambush had forced the Frontier Corps to retreat. "Now Buner is ruled by the Taliban," one resident told the Guardian by phone. "They go anywhere they want."

The confrontation comes just a week after the government introduced sharia law in neighbouring Swat, in an effort to appease the Taliban. But the deal has only emboldened a spread into other districts, in the name of spreading Islamic law. Declan Walsh on Taliban moving into Pakistan Link to this audio

Two weeks ago the Taliban occupied a Sufi shrine in Buner, accusing locals of using it for "un-Islamic" practices. On Wednesday they swept through the main town, Daggar. Gun-toting militants looted aid agency offices, stole western-funded vehicles and forced police to retreat into their stations.

Why should they bother with Afghanistan when they can have Pakistan instead?

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 04:55:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh, I was just reading reports in El Pais that the Taliban were being forced to retreat by a combine Pakistan/US operation.

Misinformation or disinformation?

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:00:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dunno. I can't read Spanish, but the map on the El Pais site seems to support the NYT slant.

Maybe a Taliban attack was beaten back, but we should probably be careful not to equate "retreat" with "defeat".

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El Pais was reporting this just yesterday:
Hillary Clinton warns of 'existential threat' in Pakistan - Los Angeles Times


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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:57:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Existentialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Existential philosophy is the "explicit conceptual manifestation of an existential attitude"[5] that begins with a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mystery solved. Look at the headlines, dates and bylines.

Los talibanes avanzan hacia Islamabad · ELPAÍS.comThe Taliban advance towards Islamabad
Los integristas toman el control de una zona a 100 kilómetros de la capital de Pakistán - El Gobierno envía fuerzas paramilitares para frenar la amenazaThe fundamentalists take control of an area 100km from Pakistan's capital - The government dispatches paramilitary forces to put a brake to the threat
ÁNGELES ESPINOSA - Teherán - 24/04/2009Ángeles Espinosa - Tehran - 24/04/09

Los talibanes reculan ante la ofensiva de Pakistán y EE UU · ELPAÍS.comThe Taliban retreat in face of a joint offensive by Pakistan and the USA - ElPais.com
Un líder extremista pide a los radicales que abandonen el distrito de Buner, a 100 kilómetros de IslamabadAn extremist leader asks radicals to leave the Buner district, 100km from Islamabad
ELPAÍS.com / REUTERS - Madrid / Islamabad - 24/04/2009ElPais.com /Reuters - Madrid / Islamabad - 24/04/2009

Who do you trust? The foreign correspondent in Tehran, or the Madrid office quoting Reuters in Islamabad? Both? Neither?

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:03:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's conceivable that the situation is so extremely fluid that tactical-level reports have a limited lifespan.

FWIW the Guardian report I quote is also datelined Islamabad.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:39:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
the situation is so extremely fluid that tactical-level reports have a limited lifespan
If the situation is extremely fluid at the tactical level, WTF are they doing reporting on it?

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd have to rate this one a "4-huh?" Don't know what's going on.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Piracy could top agenda as Somalia donors' conference opens | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 23.04.2009
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued an appeal for funds to help Somalia as a donors' conference got underway in Brussels. The subject of piracy threatened to dominate proceedings. 

As international donors gathered at a conference to help bring stability to Somalia, it seemed  rampant piracy in busy shipping lanes off the Somali coast  - a subject that has topped international news bulletins for months - was likely to dominate the talks.

The one-day conference in Brussels aims to raise at least 128 million euros ($166 million) to finance African peacekeepers and support Somalia's fledgling police and security forces.

But European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrosso said ahead of the talks that he was worried that the piracy problem might divert resources in the lawless nation.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rice, Cheney Approved Waterboarding

WASHINGTON (AP) - Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice verbally OK'd the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, a decision memorialized a few days later in a secret memo that the Obama administration declassified last week.

Rice's role was detailed in a narrative released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It provides the most detailed timeline yet for how the CIA's harsh interrogation program was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House.

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

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dozens of Prisoners Held by CIA Still Missing, Fates Unknown - ProPublica

Last week, we pointed out that one of the newly released Bush-era memos inadvertently confirmed that the CIA held an al-Qaeda suspect [1] named Hassan Ghul in a secret prison and subjected him to what Bush administration lawyers called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The CIA has never acknowledged holding Ghul, and his whereabouts today are secret.

But Ghul is not the only such prisoner who remains missing. At least three dozen others who were held in the CIA's secret prisons overseas appear to be missing as well. Efforts by human rights organizations to track their whereabouts have been unsuccessful, and no foreign governments have acknowledged holding them. (See the full list. [2])

In September 2007, Michael V. Hayden, then director of the CIA, said [3] "fewer than 100 people had been detained at CIA's facilities." One memo [4] (PDF) released last week confirmed that the CIA had custody of at least 94 people as of May 2005 and "employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these "."

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senate Leaders Opposes Interrogation Inquiry Panel - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

Senate Democratic leaders, joining forces with the Obama White House, said they would resist efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats to create a special commission to investigate the harsh interrogation methods that the Bush administration approved for terrorism suspects.

At a meeting of top Democrats at the White House Wednesday night, President Obama told Congressional leaders that he did not want a special inquiry, which he said would potentially steal time and energy from his ambitious policy priorities, and could mushroom into a wider distraction by looking back at other aspects of the Bush years.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and other top Senate Democrats endorsed Mr. Obama's view on Thursday, telling reporters that they preferred to wait for the results of an investigation by the Senate intelligence committee expected sometime "late this year." But Ms. Pelosi renewed her call for an independent panel.

by Fran on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 02:12:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liz Cheney was interviewed by Nora O'Donnell (not an intellectual heavyweight) on MSNBC, and claimed that since the US doesn't torture, waterboarding isn't torture, and reiterated her dad-the-torturer's claim that who cares? It worked and we got great information out of it.

A full investigation, not sparing any democratic party enablers (I've read claims that Pelosi was briefed and had no objections) is definitely called for, and sorry Mr. President, but prosecution is mandatory. The CAT contains no "may" language in this regard.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:47:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
papicek:
since the US doesn't torture, waterboarding isn't torture
Like I said the other day, the US doesn't do torture, it redefines it.
reiterated her dad-the-torturer's claim that who cares? It worked and we got great information out of it
When someone goes through the "I didn't do it and besides nobody saw me and besides it's their word against mine and besides it turned out okay in the end" you know they did it. And they have the moral stature of a 7-year-old child in a school playground.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:54:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And they have the moral stature of a 7-year-old child in a school playground.
-----
It's an offense for 7-year-old child...These peoples are moral morons...and they made majority of their population moral morons...It's actually shocking how nowadays ANYTHING that serves (whatever dirty) purpose is taken as moral...by people too.
And nobody wants to resist it really...let alone make specific steps to change it or God forbid prosecute those criminals. They made criminal laws because they could, but very often they do not bother even to make things legal.
The day when USA excluded it self from International court is the final day when (any) law and legality died.This lawlessness can only lead to catastrophe...for USA and for all of us.  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
2 suicide attacks in Iraq kill at least 50 people | McClatchy

BAGHDAD -- Two massive suicide attacks killed at least 50 people and possibly dozens more Thursday in Iraq.

The first explosion took place in Baghdad around 12:30 p.m. and killed at least five people, Iraqi police said.

Witnesses estimated that many more died, however. They said that the bomber blew herself up near a crowd of humanitarian workers who were delivering aid.

In the second attack, a bomber wearing an explosives vest detonated in a crowded restaurant in the southern province of Diyala, killing at least 45 people and wounding scores more, police said.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:23:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Security is improved no matter how many bombs blast a day. China (Russia, Brazil, etc) are in economic pains when UK posted 3 mln unemployment, while BRICs are still growing. Enhanced interrogation technics is new euphemism for old banal torture. Not global war on terror but overseas contingency operations. Do the Western politicians and media think they can fool the world rebranding and repackaging quite familiar and ugly deeds?
by FarEasterner on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FarEasterner:
Do the Western politicians and media think they can fool the world rebranding and repackaging quite familiar and ugly deeds?
Yes.

Whether anyone is fooled is another matter.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do the Western politicians and media think they can fool the world rebranding and repackaging quite familiar and ugly deeds?
----------
Yeah...like they care what the world think.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 11:00:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Soup Kitchens and Tent Cities: Crisis Plunges US Middle Class into Poverty - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The financial crisis in the US has triggered a social crisis of historic dimensions. Soup kitchens are suddenly in great demand and tent cities are popping up in the shadow of glistening office towers. Even drug dealers are feeling the pinch.

Business is poor in the New York banking district around Wall Street these days, even for drug dealers. In the good old days, they used to supply America's moneyed elite with cocaine and crack. But now, with the good times gone, they spend their days in the Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter with a dining hall and a chapel.

Alvin, 47, is one of them. His customers are gone, as is the money he earned during better times. And when another dealer higher up the food chain decided he was entitled to a bigger cut of the profits, things became too dicey for Alvin. "I'm afraid," he says.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:24:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times: Junk debt or a rubbish rating?

BANGALORE - United States-based rating firm Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook for India's sovereign debt from stable to negative on February 24, while retaining the country's BBB- rating - the lowest investment grade. In essence, India's sovereign debt is just a step away from being declared junk. Not only does that indicate that the economy is in a perilous state - it drives up the cost of borrowing.

...the ratings given to the East European countries. As we all know, this region has the ability to have a severe impact on even the developed European economies. The S&P rating column shows that only one East European country, Latvia, had a BBB- rating similar to that of India. All others have higher rating than that of India, at times substantially higher.

Yet consider that fact that Hungary, Ukraine and Romania have already gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout. In contrast, India is talking of making contributions to the IMF's coffers to finance these bailouts.

India is not unique case with discrimination at the hands of dodgy Wall Street rating firms. If you don't know Russia since the war with Georgia has had junk rating for its bonds despite having 3rd biggest reserves in the world after China and Japan. At the same time bancrupt UK and US have triple A rating as well as numerous virtually bancrupt Western financial institutions. No need to say that rating firms have vested interests.

by FarEasterner on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:29:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sovereign debt ratings are political. here is an old thread where we discussed the issue.

In addition, credit rating agencies are US-based and rate from the perspercive of a US investor. This almost by definition implies the US is AAA and means that other countries are less creditworthy because of the risk inherent in doing business internationally.

Finally, the rating agencies have their head up their arse as was demonstrated by them rating toxic subprme waste CDOs as AAA...

Very unfortunately, rating agencies have been written into the core international banking regulation (Basel accords) which is IMHO a huge mistake.

So, yeah, it is an outrage. What else is new?

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 03:50:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tony Blair calls on world to wage war on militant Islam -Times Online

Tony Blair has said he does not regret leading Britain to war in Iraq when he was Prime Minister and has called on the world to take on and defeat Islamic extremists. He believes that, without intervention, the problem will continue to grow in countries such as Afghanistan.

He called for a battle to be waged against militant Islam similar to that fought against revolutionary communism.

Was Iraq Islamic? Was Saddam a communist?

WTF is this incoherent wobbling balloon of Christian bile talking about?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Was Iraq Islamic? Was Saddam a communist?
Blair must have been waterboarding Palestinians until they told him what he wanted to know.

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:18:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The GOP: divorced from reality - Bill Maher - Los Angeles Times
Look, I get it, "real America." After an eight-year run of controlling the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, this latest election has you feeling like a rejected husband. You've come home to find your things out on the front lawn -- or at least more things than you usually keep out on the front lawn. You're not ready to let go, but the country you love is moving on. And now you want to call it a whore and key its car.

That's what you are, the bitter divorced guy whose country has left him -- obsessing over it, haranguing it, blubbering one minute about how much you love it and vowing the next that if you cannot have it, nobody will.

But it's been almost 100 days, and your country is not coming back to you. She's found somebody new. And it's a black guy.
by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:11:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Maher trying to talk sanity to the GOP?  He chooses an interesting analogy, except some guys DO kill their wives rather than lose them.  Any thoughts on that, Bill?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 11:14:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A Website on the U.S. Trade Policy Disaster || UNSUSTAINABLE.org

At the heart of both the Japanese and Chinese systems is a commonsense observation: if you give workers better tools and better know-how, they will produce more. Much of the peculiar structuring of these economies is geared to building up capital investment and know-how at a far faster rate than can be achieved under classic free-market conditions. A basic policy is to suppress consumption and thereby to boost the savings rate. The resulting huge flows of capital are then channelled via state controlled banks towards those corporations deemed most likely to  make  effective use of the money in boosting productivity.

How is consumption suppressed? The most obvious method is via tight controls on consumer credit. Less obviously the economy is regulated to make it physically difficult for consumers to consume (for instance, by severely limiting access to imported luxuries and by tightly restricting the supply of housing space). Sometimes the resulting savings arise in the hands of consumers. In  many cases, however, they accrue to corporations in the form of super-high retained profits. Such profits are then used to build national muscle in targeted industries. A typical arrangement is that cartels keep consumer prices high, thereby allowing  member firms to earn the necessary high returns to keep investing at a fast pace in the export side of their business. Cartels are generally given free rein provided only that they serve the national goal of boosting productivity. Although Western theorists argue that cartels make for slack management and general inefficiency,  both China and even more so Japan have shown that such problems can be minimized, with the result that on balance East Asian-style cartels play a strongly positive role in growth.   

One of the most noticeable aspects of economic policy in both China and Japan is the degree to which manufacturing is emphasized. This is not an accident. Manufacturing lends itself to a strategy of ever increasing capital intensity. Moreover valuable know-how acquired in manufacturing is generally easier to keep secret than know-how in service industries. Perhaps most important of all, manufactured goods  generally need less adaptation for different cultures around the world and thus are  much more widely exportable than services.



'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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:27:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:15:33 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | World first for strange molecule

A molecule that until now existed only in theory has finally been made.

Known as a Rydberg molecule, it is formed through an elusive and extremely weak chemical bond between two atoms.

The new type of bonding, reported in Nature, occurs because one of the two atoms in the molecule has an electron very far from its nucleus or centre.

It reinforces fundamental quantum theories, developed by Nobel prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi, about how electrons behave and interact.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:21:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | 'Space blob' baffles astronomers

It might not look like much, but this image represents one of the most distant objects astronomers have ever seen, 12.9 billion light years away.

It is a "Lyman-alpha blob" and is 55,000 light years across - as large as present-day galaxies.

Though younger such blobs have been found, "Himiko" confounds the idea that such large objects grew more recently by the merger of smaller ones.

The research will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Website on the U.S. Trade Policy Disaster || UNSUSTAINABLE.org

Rarely has Senator Fritz Hollings used his renowned wit to more devastating effect than when he was interviewed in 1990 on the ABC program, This Week with David Brinkley. Some weeks earlier he had reportedly bought a bargain-priced Korean-made suit on a field trip to Seoul. Given his role as a leading critic of Korean dumping in the American textile market, the alleged purchase was the sort of trivia that passed for news in some quarters. Although Hollings had arrived at the ABC studio expecting to talk about the federal government's worsening budget deficits, the interviewer Sam Donaldson lost no time in getting to the nub of the matter: whether or not Hollings was at that moment wearing the notorious suit.

"Senator," Donaldson said, "you're from the great textile-producing state of South Carolina. Is it true you have a Korean tailor." Before Hollings could respond, Donaldson pressed on: "Let's see the label in there. What is the label in there?"

"I bought it," Hollings replied, "the same place right down the street where, if you want to personalize this thing, you got that wig, Sam."

The entire studio erupted. The blustery -- and bewigged -- Donaldson had had, if not his head handed to him, at least his tonsorial codpiece. But he was to exact a terrible revenge. Although Hollings had previously been a favorite on the program, Donaldson made sure that the courtly Southern Senator (and a man who still sports a full head of hair -- all evidently securely attached to its owner) was never invited back. Hollings had insulted a vain and not overly intelligent member of the new aristocracy of Big Foot media interviewers and for punishment he would be cast into outer darkness.



'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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never understood wigs, especially for men. We have a dapper Finnish trade minister who sports a fairly obvious rug. I hope it's sauna proof. The comb-over is equally ridiculous.

I have mercy for people who lose their hair suddenly through cancer treatment.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 11:00:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i saw a great documentary on CULT tv about comb-overs, a marvellous work of art...

many's the merry chortle during that one!

changing subjects here, i can't get that song 'my old man's a dustman' out of my head, and it always makes me think of you sven.

my old man's a dustman,
he wears a dustman's hat,
he wears cor-blimey trousers,
and he lives in a council flat.

 i have no idea why this brain worm is afflicting me right now, but there you are...

i think it's your advanced comprehension of, and attunement to, period brit vernacular.

i mean you can taste the marmite, can't you?

'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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:03:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strangely enough, it was this song that  caused me to no longer think of Donegan as a god, but as smarmy commercialized cockatoo. I found the Graham Bond Organization just in time and started my real journey to the Edge...

Incidentalloy

I think enough time has passed since Jade Goody's funeral to display one of the floral tributes from her funeral procession.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:46:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I'm off to see Slumdog Millionaire - later Melo ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fine, fine, but how do i get rid of it? there must be an antidote, maybe go play some rude rock.

Sven Triloqvist:

Donegan as a god

well he had a bit of a groove, when he wasn't becoming a parody...

graham bond, eh? seminal stuff.

my old man's a ....

be quiet!

what were cor-blimey trousers anyway?

'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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:58:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They were trousers of corduroy (sometimes moleskin) - very baggy and tied just below the knee with string or rope to prevent upwards dust.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 02:42:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gor Blimey is of course vernacular for God blind me (if I am not telling the truth)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 02:43:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ah, there you go, i loves me some moleskin.

was that an early industrial cotton weave?

googles...

Moleskin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Moleskin, originally referring to the short, silky fur of a mole, is heavy cotton fabric, woven and then sheared to create a short soft pile on one side. The word is also used for clothing made from this fabric. It is also used in adhesive pads stuck to the feet to prevent blisters.

Clothing made from moleskin is noted for its softness and durability. Some variants of the cloth are so densely-woven as to be windproof. The majority of manufacturers of this cloth are British mills. Noted clothiers who use a great deal of moleskin in their garments are Barbour and Lambourne.

like velvet, but more butch.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 06:00:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:15:56 PM EST
Founder of Twitter sent to save Iraq - Telegraph
Jack Dorsey , co-founder of Twitter microblogging network, is on a mission to save Iraq.

And he is not alone. Mr Dorsey is joined on a trip to Baghdad by executives from other web powerhouses, such as YouTube and Google.

Their trip to the war zone, sponsored by the US government, hopes to highlight the high-tech horizons in a place that still can't guarantee round-the-clock electricity and whose internet service is lumbering at best.

by Fran on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"@McCain Wow the Green Zone really is sa"
by paving on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 06:36:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That looks like the reported last words of a civil war general called sedgwick

"Don't worry lads they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...."

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 04:04:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:

Their trip to the war zone, sponsored by the US government, hopes to highlight the high-tech horizons in a place that still can't guarantee round-the-clock electricity and whose internet service is lumbering at best.

funny, i just saw a segment on fox about american soldiers putting up solar powered street lights in baghdad, to cut crime, and was looking at them wistfully and wishing he could persuade his city council back home to do the same thing!

'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 10:12:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Longest place name in US spelt wrongly - Telegraph

The lake in Webster, Massachusetts - known as Webster Lake for short - was always going to be a challenge for sign writers.

But after researching historical spelling combinations, the local newspaper the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester said local Chamber of Commerce officials agreed that some signs at the lake were wrong.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 03:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I see:

Longest place name in US spelt wrongly - Telegraph

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg

by Nomad on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:38:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lake Chaubunagungamaug - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The translation of the name of the lake is believed to be, "Fishing Place at the Boundaries -- Neutral Meeting Grounds".[1] This is different from the translation, "You fish on your side, I fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle", a hoax believed to have been concocted by the late Laurence J. Daly, a Worcester newspaper correspondent.
LOL

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:41:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This week, everything Afew touches just stops working.

His PC, mainboard dies. Use other PC in family, it decides it won't boot. (Just fixed it, the mainboard CR 2032 battery had part-lifted out of its socket... after he used the machine yesterday).

Huge amounts of grass growing in this wet spring after a wet winter. He starts in with the strimmer (yes, the strimmer...) and do fifteen square metres before it dies. It seems a widget in the petrol tank jumped out of where it should be. He must now fish around in the tank to get it back into place.

Afew declines to tell us about the three hours learning to take apart, descale and reassemble the taps and associated mechanisms of a bathroom washbasin that flooded the place. Or the septic tank overflow yesterday afternoon fuck-up and two hours dismantling and cleaning a pump to get the whatever flowing again.

Now he can't get into ET to leave one or two more comments.

In a rare display of conspiranoia and faith in astrology, Afew "want[s] to know who is doing this. Or what the stars say."

His final comment to this reporter was "Aaaargh."

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 Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heavens. You should read the Strugatsky Brothers' Definitely Maybe (original title: One Billion Years Before The End of The Universe)...

(It's about scientists who confront... obstacles... in their work.)

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 10:20:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UK Indymedia - Trotsky's ashes stolen and baked in cookies
Eighty eight years of the day Trotsky directed the suppression of the anarchist uprising in Krondstadt, a group of bandits scaled the walls of his former house in Mexico City during the late hours at night. We broke the lock on his mausoleum and we expropriate the content inside it: a silver large vase that bears the inscription of his name, wrapped in the red scarf that he carried around the neck, containing the ashes of the corpse inside. We replace with care the lock in the monument with a reproduction that was similar in the appearance and escaped into the night.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:57:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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