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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 25 April

by Fran Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:58:02 PM EST

On this date in history:

1851 Leopoldo Alas y Urea, a.k.a. "Clarn", a Spanish realist novelist, was born. (d. 1901)

More here and here


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EUROPE
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:05:14 PM EST
New German law restricts genetic testing | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2009
The German Parliament has passed legislation to limit the genetic testing of humans. It bans secret paternity tests and severely restricts the use of genetic testing by employers and insurance companies. 

Health Minister Ulla Schmidt welcomed the new law as a crucial step in protecting the rights of patients. She said that after 10 years of discussions a legal framework had been put in place that would  prevent the abuse of sensitive personal data. Genetic testing can be used to determine a person's disposition to develop certain illnesses such as cancer - information which in the hands of an employer or a health insurance company could easily lead to discrimination.

The new legislation defines under which circumstances an analysis of genetic material is legal. Now, testing can only be conducted with the patient's consent and after consultation with a doctor.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:12:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish unemployment soars in first quarter | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2009
Spain's unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 17.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, up from 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, increasing the number of jobless by more than 800,000. 

Official figures from Spain's National Statistics Institute pushed the jobless rate up almost three-and-a-half points in the first quarter, compared to the end of last year.

The total number of unemployed now stands at 4.01 million, a jump of 1.836 million in the last 12 months, officials said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish unemployment lines must look really strange.  All those guys in matador outfits, standing in line. :)

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:46:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Parliament backs music rights extension - EUobserver / European Parliament backs music rights extension

The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favour of extending copyright protection on music recordings from 50 to 70 years.

The measure, adopted by 377 votes to 178 votes, will apply to both new and old recordings.

The 20 year extension is less than the original European Commission proposal, which had suggested a 45 year extension to 95 years.

The 20-year extension is less than the European Commission had originally proposed

The copyright protection means that musicians and singers receive money every time their work is played. Under the current system, this right expires after 50 years and they no longer receive this income.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:12:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The copyright protection means that musicians and singers receive money every time their work is played.

If by "musicians and singers" you mean record company executives, then sure.

by Trond Ove on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 10:18:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Russia military spy boss 'sacked'

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed the head of the country's powerful GRU military intelligence service, the Kremlin has said.

Mr Medvedev signed a decree on Friday replacing Gen Valentin Korabelnikov with Gen Alexander Shlyakhturov. Officials gave no reason for the move.

Gen Korabelnikov had led the Main Directorate of Intelligence since 1997.

He reportedly tendered his resignation earlier this year over objections to proposed reforms of the agency.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:15:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK revises rules for Gurkha veterans - Home News, UK - The Independent

Campaigners for former Gurkha soldiers seeking to retire in Britain have accused the Government of treachery after the publication of immigration guidelines they said would bar most of them from settling.

The Home Office said today new rules would give around 4,000 former members of the Nepalese unit that has fought for Britain since 1815 the right to settle, along with 6,000 dependents.

But campaigners said restrictions imposed by the Government meant fewer than 100 Gurkhas would qualify.

"This is nothing less than an act of treachery and betrayal", said solicitor Martin Howe of the Gurkha Justice Campaign.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland 'to ban' Che Guevara image - Telegraph
The iconic image of Che Guevara found adorning students' walls and t-shirts across the world could be banned in Poland under a government proposal to outlaw materials that incite "fascism and totalitarian systems".

Poland's equality minister, Elzbieta Radziszewska, wants to expand a Polish law prohibiting the production of fascist and totalitarian propaganda so that it includes clothing and anything else that could carry an image related to an authoritarian system.

Anybody found guilty could face a two-year prison sentence.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:18:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn, and I was just going to market my Dick Cheney jock straps!  Now what will I do with 5,000,000 jocks with Cheney's smiling face on them?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mmm, don't we have freedom of speech in good ol' EU?

It would be quite a stretch to qualify Che pictures as Nazi or racist contents...

I understand that the Polish government is the most pro-American of all Europe, but what's next? An embargo on Cuba?

by Bernard on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 06:00:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meh, the embargo will be over soon enough.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
meanwhile this crap is apparently ok...

wtf?

'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 09:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
meanwhile this is just dandy, apparently. (taken this morning), 15 meters from where some very nice tunisian fellows were selling lovely handmade terracotta vases they'd brought over in a truck from their home to share with us.

they must really wonder what planet they're on.

'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 09:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oops, sorry bout that

'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 09:22:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Expats asked to report neighbours involved in fraud - Telegraph
Britons living in Spain are being asked to report on cheating neighbours in a bid to cut down on benefit fraud by people living abroad.

British authorities have launched a campaign in the popular tourist destinations of the Costa del Sol and the Canary islands urging residents to call a dedicated hotline to report suspected benefit thieves.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims that so-called "abroad fraud" costs the UK taxpayer £63m a year. Officials do not know how many people are making illegal claims or where they all live, but they believe the majority are in Spain, where an estimated one million Britons have homes.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:19:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alone in a New World: Refugee Kids Build New Lives in Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Some come to escape the brutality and horror of war -- others are sent by parents who hope they will one day send them money. The number of unaccompanied youth refugees from Africa and Iraq to Europe is increasing. They are part of a massive trend in global migration.

It was bombs that caused a young Iraqi to lose his home. It was an earthquake in the case of a Chinese teenager who is now no longer certain where he belongs. It was war in the case of a former child soldier from Sierra Leone who is plagued by recurrent nightmares.

 Sudanese children at a camp in Chad: Between 3,000 and 5,000 youth from other countries are believed to have sought refuge in Germany.

This is the story of three boys who made it to Germany on their own in a physical sense but in many ways took longer to get here in mental and emotional terms.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:21:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Pro-EU party tops polls as Iceland holds snap election | France 24
Icelanders are preparing to vote on Saturday in snap elections six months after the financial crisis hit the country's economy. The ruling party seemed set for a defeat as the pro-EU party topped polls before the vote.

AFP - Iceland holds snap elections Saturday six months after its economic meltdown, with voters set to snub the party seen as responsible for the crisis and its pro-EU rivals tipped to come out on top.

Recent polls have shown that the conservative Independence Party -- which ruled the North Atlantic island from 1991 until earlier this year -- being soundly beaten by a left-wing coalition which has been in power since February.

"Everything is pointing to a disaster for the Independence Party," political scientist Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson told AFP. "They have been blamed for the crisis."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:21:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU accession debate dominates Iceland election

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The snap general election in Iceland on Saturday (25 April) is set to return the governing minority red-red coalition to power but with a clean majority as voters ditch en masse the free-market and liberalising ideology of the centre-right Independence Party, the governors of the tiny north Atlantic nation for almost two decades and the architects of its economic collapse.

The centre-left and far-left are likely to win Saturday's election

While the issues in the election have been varied, the question of whether to join the European Union has utterly dominated. But it is far from a sure thing that Iceland will apply to join the bloc, as while the leading Social Democrat Alliance are unabashed EU supporters, their coalition partners, the far-left Left Green Movement are steadfast opponents of entry.

The two parties are neck and neck in the polls. According to a Gallup poll released on the eve of the vote by national daily Morgunbladid and the public broadcaster, RUV, the Social Democrats, on 29 percent, pip their rivals to their left, who are backed by 27.4 percent.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:26:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gas for Europe summit begins today despite Vladimir Putin's last-minute boycott | The Australian

LEADERS from the EU, the Balkans and gas supplier countries are to meet in Sofia today for a two-day gas security summit overshadowed by a last-minute boycott by Russian Premier Vladimir Putin.

The summit "Natural Gas for Europe. Security and partnership'' brings together gas suppliers from the Caspian region, Central Asia and the Middle East, and transit countries and gas consumers from the Balkans and the EU.

But Mr Putin's last-minute decision not to attend the talks dampened the organisers' hopes of strengthening cooperation and security of deliveries to Europe, four months after a Russia-Ukraine gas row shut European gas taps in January.

Instead, Russia's Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko was to join the forum, also to be attended by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, United States special envoy for Eurasian energy Richard Morningstar and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:22:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gazprom Seeks a Gas Pipeline to Bypass Ukraine - NYTimes.com

BRUSSELS -- Gazprom began a campaign in Brussels on Thursday to push for a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine to supply customers in Europe. Skip to next paragraph Related Gazprom Wins Bidding War for Oil Company Stake (April 24, 2009)

The project, which is called South Stream, would run under the Black Sea and link Russia directly to Bulgaria. The project also is hitting a roadblock at the European Union's border with Bulgaria.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia canceled his appearance on Friday at an energy summit meeting in Sofia, because of slow progress over negotiations concerning a vital part of the route for the pipeline, according to news reports. The negotiations are important for Russia because Bulgaria could force Gazprom to build a costly new network to transport the gas rather than allow it to use Bulgaria's existing facilities.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:23:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bundestag debates disarmament, opposition demands nuclear-free Germany | NEWS | Deutsche Welle | 24.04.2009
Germany's opposition parties have urged the government to press for a nuclear-free Germany, saying the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons based in Germany would be signal that NATO is serious about disarmament. 

German parliamentarians have come out in support of US president Barack Obama's vision of a nuclear-free world during a one-hour debate in Germany's Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, on Friday.

"The time is right for a new beginning on nuclear disarmament," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, referring to an agreement earlier this month between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dimitry Medvedev, aimed at negotiating a new deal on strategic nuclear arms reduction.

In the debate, the German foreign minister outlined steps which he said were crucial for reaching the goal of a nuclear-free world.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:25:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Incredible refusal of German ministry to publish CAP recipients

Along with the current regulations of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) certain transparency requirements have been introduced as part of the new EU financial regulation. However, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner (CSU, pictured below) yesterday recommended to the responsible Länder ministries NOT to follow these rules and keep the list of beneficiaries secret because of concerns over "data protection". Such concerns have found some consideration at a few courts of first instance in Germany which have referred these cases to the ECJ or possibly higher instances. I think that the minister's decision/recommendation is an outright scandal.



You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:50:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:05:52 PM EST
OSCE plans mini mission for EU elections - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Vienna-based pro-democracy club, the OSCE, plans to send teams of experts to look into preparations for EU elections but not to oversee actual voting on 4 to 7 June.

Three man-strong teams of experts are to visit 14 member states for about one week ahead of the vote to look at campaigning activity and technical issues, such as registering foreign EU-nationals as voters.

The EP has launched a billboard campaign around the EU to try to boost voter turnout

The OSCE decision on Thursday (23 April) noted that, with 375 million eligible voters, the EU poll will be the "largest single electoral event" on OSCE territory, but said "available human and financial resources" dictate a small-scale approach.

An OSCE exploratory mission to Brussels in April came away with two worries after talking to MEPs, EU diplomats and the European Commission, but not the European Parliament administration, which "regrettably" declined a meeting.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le blog politique de Luc Mandret: élections européennes 2009 : "Quand L'Europe veut, l'Europe peut", slogan de l'UMP
L'UMP semble vouloir commencer à se lancer dans la campagne des européennes de Juin 2009. Enfin. Et se dote d'un slogan tout beau, tout neuf, tout propre : "Quand L'Europe veut, l'Europe peut".

"
Quand L'Europe veut, l'Europe peut", en soit le slogan de l'UMP n'est pas si mal choisit. Efficace, très compréhensible. Seulement sur le fond, on pourrait se demande : mais que veut l'Europe ? Et déjà, avant de savoir ce que veut l'Europe, qu'est-ce que l'Europe ? Cette phrase comment également une grossière erreur : on oublie les citoyens, les Européens. Avant de savoir ce que l'Europe veut, il serait primordial de savoir ce que les Européennes et les Européens attendent de l'Europe.

Deuxième incompréhension de cette affiche : Nicolas Sarkozy. Nicolas Sarkozy qui, à ce jour, n'est pas candidat aux élections europénnes du 7 Juin 2009. L'UMP décide donc de faire de ce scrutin un referendum pour ou contre la politique du Président de la République. Dommage, l'Europe attendra. A croire que la politique européenne de l'UMP se limiterait aux actions de Sarkozy lors de la Présidence française de l'Union Europénne. Un peu léger.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:22:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECONOMY & FINANCE
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:06:14 PM EST
EU fears Washington's car trade-in plans unfairly favor US industry | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 23.04.2009
The US would violate world trade rules if proposed government payments to encourage consumers to trade in old gas-guzzling cars can be used to buy only new American-made vehicles, according to an EU official. 

"It is our hope that any car scrappage legislation ultimately enacted will remedy these concerns, and that the EU will be able to support this important initiative to promote fuel-efficiency, reduce pollution, and provide a needed boost to the automobile industry," John Bruton, the EU's ambassador to the United States, said in a letter sent to the US Congress on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama supports passage of a "cash-for-clunkers" bill to pay people to turn in their gas guzzlers and replace them with more fuel-efficient vehicles.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:08:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tentative signs of eurozone recoveryEUobserver

Although the 16-member euro area is still very much in the throws of its worst recession since World War II, some positive data suggest the end may be in sight.

The purchasing managers' index - an indication of future activity in the areas of services and manufacturing - jumped from 38.3 to 40.5 points in March, giving rise to hope that the green shoots of recovery seen elsewhere in the world may be spreading to Europe.

Despite signs of recovery, the downturn in several euro area countries will continue until 2011

The new figures, compiled by research group Markit and released on Thursday (23 April), are still well below the 50-point threshold that marks an increase in economic activity.

But the new data for March show the rate of economic decline has slowed to the lowest level seen in the last six months and exceed economists' prior predictions of a rise to 39 points.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:09:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Labour warned budget spending cuts will wipe out decade of growth | UK news | The Guardian
Labour MPs and trade unions vow to fight Darling's 'catastrophic' squeeze that will take spending back to 1997 levels

Left-wing Labour MPs are to join forces with trade union leaders to fight the "catastrophic" public spending cuts in the budget that will dwarf those imposed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Members of the nine-strong trade union co-ordinating group are to meet MPs next week to discuss a new campaign, after Alistair Darling announced deep cuts in infrastructure investment that will mean zero growth in total spending from 2013.

The unions planning to fight the cuts include the PCS, the FBU, NAPO, the RMT and other unions representing millions of public-sector workers.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:17:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECONOMY: Struggle to Solve Crisis Moves to IMF, World Bank
WASHINGTON, Apr 24 (IPS) - Efforts to pull the global economy out of its nosedive enter a new phase this weekend amid warnings the decline is steeper than previously thought and signs the cockpit crew continue to jostle for the joystick.

Semi-annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) begin here Saturday with a warning from the fund that the world economy will fall this year for the first time since World War II.

"By far the deepest global recession since the Great Depression" will see an economic decline of 1.3 percent worldwide, according to the IMF. In January, it had projected negligible growth of 0.5 percent.

At the weekend talks and in separate sessions of the Group of Seven (G7) dominant countries and the Group of 20 (G20), which includes emerging economic powers, finance ministers and central bank chiefs will have a chance to flesh out a crisis-response agreement issued by G20 leaders three weeks ago - assuming they can reconcile differences glossed over at the Apr. 2 leaders' summit in London.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:18:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Sarkozy unveils 1.3 billion euro plan to boost youth employment | France 24
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has unveiled a state plan to spend 1.3 billion euros on creating jobs for the young to stem the impact of the economic crisis on their livelihoods.

REUTERS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday unveiled a plan to spend more than a billion euros on youth job schemes to counter soaring unemployment among people under 25.

 

Just days before France's spring protest season gets into full swing, Sarkozy sought to send a positive signal to a generation that fears being excluded from the job market during the recession and missing out on the upturn for lack of experience.

 

The global economic crisis has been swelling the ranks of the unemployed in France for months, but the youngest job-seekers are faring particularly badly, with youth unemployment at over 20 percent.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Housing Bubble Smackdown: Bigger Crash Ahead
In a recent study, RealtyTrac compared its database of bank-repossessed homes to MLS listings of for-sale homes in four states, including California. It found a significant disparity - only 30 percent of the foreclosures were listed for sale in the Multiple Listing Service. The remainder is known in the industry as "shadow inventory." ("Banks aren't Selling Many Foreclosed Homes" SF Gate)

If regulators were deployed to the banks that are keeping foreclosed homes off the market, they would probably find that the banks are actually servicing the mortgages on a monthly basis to conceal the extent of their losses.

They'd also find that the banks are trying to keep housing prices artificially high to avoid heftier losses that would put them out of business. One thing is certain, 600,000 "disappeared" homes means that housing prices have a lot farther to fall and that an even larger segment of the banking system is underwater.

More foul smelling material yet to hit the fan. From another "shadow" banking system.
by Bernard on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 04:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:06:48 PM EST
EUobserver / Somalia wins over $200m in Brussels donors' conference

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Somalia won pledges of over $200 million from international donors on Thursday (23 April) to support increased security within the country.

A total of $213 million (€165m) was committed at a joint United-Nations, European Union and African Union donors' conference in Brussels, with the European Commission pledging €72 million of the figure.

Commission President Barroso says that piracy must not only be tackled at sea, but on land as well

The monies are to support security measures and police training, with many of the organisers underlining that only by stabilising the country can the international community have any hope of bringing security to Somalia's pirate-infested waters.

"If we only treat the symptoms, piracy at sea, but not its root causes - the decay of the state and poverty - we will fail," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrroso, who opened the meeting.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:13:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gee, it's too bad that there's no strong government in Somalia, nobody who can take care of those pirates.  Like the Islamic Courts Union.  Whatever happened to them?  They knocked out the pirates for a while.  Oh yeah . . .
by Zwackus on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Martyrs of the Iraqi marshes - Middle East, World - The Independent
They survived Saddam, but now the marsh Arabs are losing a battle against nature, reports Patrick Cockburn, winner of the Orwell Prize for journalism 2009

One of the few successes of the Iraqi governments since the fall of Saddam Hussein has been reversing one of his great crimes: the draining of the marshes of southern Iraq and the destruction of the unique water-born civilisation which had survived there for thousands of years.

Now this achievement is in doubt. A prolonged and devastating drought, combined with the building of dams on the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Syria, Turkey and Iran, is reducing the water flow once again and the marshes risk disappearing, possibly forever.

Once double the size of the Everglades in Florida and home to 300,000 people, the marshes nearly vanished in the 1990s when they were drained by Saddam Hussein to stop them being used as hideouts by anti-government guerrillas. But as soon as the Iraqi dictator was toppled in 2003, the marsh people tore down the earth ramparts his engineers had built and water once again flowed into the lakes and reed beds.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:15:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain and Argentina both claim rights to Falkland Islands seabed - Telegraph
Britain and Argentina are gain locked in battle over the Falkland Islands with both claiming rights to the surrounding seabed.

Argentina presented 12 years' worth of research to the United Nations to prove its continental shelf extends up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) beyond the current 200-mile (320-kilometer) limit.

It's also an area more than three times the size of France.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:19:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: They Added a Tracheotomy Kit to the Torture Chamber

Evaluating the new constraints placed on waterboarding in the "2005 Bradbury memo" reveals a MAJOR change.  "Harmless" waterboarding now required that a physician be present in the room in which the detainee is waterboarded to prevent death.  Furthermore, they now included a tracheotomy kit in the room where "harmless" waterboarding was conducted:

...a detainee could suffer spasms of the larynx that would prevent him from breathing even when the application of water is stopped and the detainee is returned to an upright position. In the event of such spasms, a qualified physician would immediately intervene to address the problem, and, if necessary, the intervening physician would perform a tracheotomy.... we are informed that the necessary emergency medical equipment is always present- although not visible to the detainee- during any application of the waterboard.

A tracheotomy is a surgery in which a physician cuts into a patient's neck, slicing through the skin and into the airway (trachea, see below).  Then a tube is inserted into the hole to provide an airway to the lungs.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington Post | Document: Military Agency Called Harsh Methods 'Torture,' Questioned Their Effectiveness

The military agency that helped to devise harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as "torture" in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce "unreliable information."

"The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week.

It remains unclear whether the attachment reached high-ranking officials in the Bush administration. But the document offers the clearest evidence that has come to light so far that those who helped formulate the harsh interrogation techniques voiced early concerns about the effectiveness of applying severe physical or psychological pressure.

The document was included among July 2002 memoranda that described severe interrogation techniques used against Americans in past conflicts and the psychological effects of such treatment. JPRA ran the military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), which trains pilots and others to resist hostile questioning.

Sounds like the CIA and the Pentagon are engaged in a little war.

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

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:28:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny.

DEEP THOUGHT
If we can't get back to militarism and torture, we're going to become a Banana Republic.

--Josh Marshall



Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:59:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How can a doctor be willing to perform a tracheotomy so someone could be waterboarded?

Reminds me of Death and the maiden.

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 Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:14:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Blast carnage at shrine in Iraq

Two female suicide bombers have attacked Baghdad's main Shia shrine, killing at least 60 people and injuring 125 others, officials in Iraq say.

The attack happened at the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in the Kadhimiya area as people gathered for Friday prayers.

It comes a day after 84 people were killed in two separate suicide attacks in Baghdad and Baquba.

Many victims in Baquba and in Baghdad on Friday were Iranian pilgrims and the violence was condemned in Tehran.

Violence fell sharply in the last year and the latest bombing does not change this trend, but it is a worrying development, says the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:25:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PressTV.ir: Taliban retreat from Pakistan's Buner (25 April 2009)
Taliban insurgents have started withdrawing from Buner region after reports of their control over new areas near the Pakistani capital.

Taliban militants began moving back from Buner on Friday, despite their earlier attempts to widen their control over more areas in Pakistan.

The decision was made after Pakistani regional government vowed the militants to back the controversial agreement with Taliban which authorizes implementation of Sharia law in some regions of Pakistan.



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 Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:16:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NYTimes.com: Reclaiming America's Soul (By PAUL KRUGMAN on April 23, 2009)
"Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." So declared President Obama, after his commendable decision to release the legal memos that his predecessor used to justify torture. Some people in the political and media establishments have echoed his position. We need to look forward, not backward, they say. No prosecutions, please; no investigations; we're just too busy.

...

Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, wouldn't be called away from his efforts to rescue the economy. Peter Orszag, the budget director, wouldn't be called away from his efforts to reform health care. Steven Chu, the energy secretary, wouldn't be called away from his efforts to limit climate change. Even the president needn't, and indeed shouldn't, be involved. All he would have to do is let the Justice Department do its job -- which he's supposed to do in any case -- and not get in the way of any Congressional investigations.

And on his blog: The defining moment
The Bush administration was obviously -- yes, obviously -- telling tall tales in order to promote the war it wanted: the constant insinuations of an Iraq-9/11 link, the hyping of discredited claims about a nuclear program, etc.. And the question was, should you stand up against that? Not many did -- and those who did were treated as if they were crazy.

For me and many others that was a radicalizing experience; I'll never trust "sensible" opinion again. But for those who stayed "sensible" through the test, it's a moment they'd like to see forgotten. That, I believe, is the real reason so many want to let torture and everything else go down the memory hole.



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 Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:21:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:07:17 PM EST
Last Orders?: Tough Times for the Humble Beer Mat - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Small, beer-soaked and bedecked with all manner of slogans, the humble beer coaster has long been an essential part of a good pub or bar. But with its leading manufacturer now bankrupt, the cardboard institution may be heading for extinction.

For most of us, beer mats are just an insignificant piece of cardboard tucked under our glass of ale. But some have elevated the disposable coaster, which are a common sight in pubs in Britain and Germany, to a lofty status, considering it an art work, a collector's item, building material -- or even a piece of sporting equipment.

The record for beer-mat throwing stands at 38.26 meters (125.5 feet), while the highest beer-mat tower, created from more than 40,000 mats, stood proud at 9.70 meters. Leo Pisker, an Austrian, has an extensive collection of some 150,000 beer mats from around the world.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:14:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
M of A - Windy Friday
Over the last months two new wind turbines were erected about three miles from my place. These are the biggest ones on can currently buy with a maximum output above 6 megawatt each. Yesterday the blades for the second one were lifted to the top of the 135 meter high tower. The crane used was a brand new Demag CC9800-1 and the lifted nose section with the three rotor blades weighted 369 metric tons.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the turbine is an Enercon E126, the largest turbine in the world (shared with the REpower 6M) with a rotor diameter of 126 meters.  Rated capacity at 6MW.

The tower is a hybrid of concrete and steel, hub height 135m.  The rotor blades are so large they are built in two sections, a first except for some experimental machines (I believe.)

the final lift is the hub section and three blades already fixed, weighing 369 metric tonnes.

There are at least five guys in this picture, and another standing atop the nacelle waiting for the pick to arrive.

Simply amazing.

There are several of these running in Germany since last year or longer.

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey what happened to the photos?  

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 11:38:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Technium

Up and down the six kingdoms of life, minds have evolved many times. So many times, in fact, that minds seem inevitable. Yet, as inordinately fond as nature is of minds, the technium, or the seventh kingdom of life, is even more so. The technium is biased to birth minds. All the inventions we have constructed to assist our own minds - our many storage devices, signal processing, flows of information, and  distributed communication networks, - all these are also the essential ingredients for producing new minds. And  so new minds spawn in the technium in inordinate degrees.

Technology is anything a mind makes. Built by minds, the technium is primed to make more minds. These mind children will be small, dim, and dumb at first, but tiny minds keep getting better. And more abundant. Last year there were 1 billion electronic brains etched into silicon. Many contained a billion transistors each but the smallest had a minimum of 100,000 transistors, about as many neurons as the brain of the rock ant. They, too, can do surprising feats. Tiny synthetic ant-minds know where on earth they are (GPS), and how to get back to your home, and remember the names of your friends, and translate foreign languages. These dim minds are finding their way into everything: shoes, door knobs, books, lamps, pets, beds, clothes, cars, light switches, kitchen appliances and toys.

We are blind to this massive eruption of minds in the technium because humans have a chauvinistic bias towards any kind of intelligence that does not precisely mirror a human's. Unless an artificial mind behaves exactly like a human, we don't count it as intelligent. Sometimes we dismiss it by calling it "machine learning." So while we aren't looking, billions of tiny minds, on the scale of biology, have blossomed in the technium.



'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 06:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be worried when machines can make independent efforts to survive, even at the level of a plant turning to the light or a bacteria edging away from an acid, instead of being designed to fail.
by Zwackus on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:46:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Define "mind".

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 05:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saving the planet by numbers

A Cambridge Physicist has some suggestions:

I would like to suggest measuring energies in kilowatt-hours, and measuring how fast activities use or produce energy in kilowatt-hours per day.
One kilowatt-hour (1 kWh) is the electrical energy used by leaving a 40 watt bulb on for 24 hours (and it might cost you 10 or 15 pence (15 or 20 US cent)).
The chemical energy in the food we eat to stay alive amounts to about 3 kWh per day. Taking one hot bath uses about 5 kWh of heat. Driving an average car 50 kilometres uses 40 kWh of fuel.
In total, the British lifestyle (and I apologise to international readers but my study is based on British numbers) uses 125 kWh per day per person for transport, heating, manufacturing, and electricity.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 01:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would like to suggest measuring energies in kilowatt-hours

Considering a kWh is 3.6J, this is not a significant change in orders of magnitude from using Joules...

measuring how fast activities use or produce energy in kilowatt-hours per day

1 kWh/day is 0.15W.

But if he's suggesting abolishing horsepower, BTU, and all that nonsense I'm all for it.

But see this site from 2005... Order of magnitude morality

Let's think about energy consumption, and express it in ordinary human-scale units, instead of exajoules. In these calculations, I ignore all economic considerations, and think simply about the maximum available power.
Oh, wait, it's the same guy!

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 Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:36:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The useful idea is that actions (taking a bath, driving 50 kms, eating chocolate) can be compared though a common metric.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob Hahl - who has actually monetised electricity just to show it can be done - has written illuminatingly on the subject of an electricity standard on his site.

about the electricity standard for kilowatt cards

Economist Joseph Stiglitz has spoken about past failures of the gold standard and the coming failure of the "dollar standard," predicting that all national currencies will eventually fail due to inflation, and be replaced by private currencies from competing companies, backed by gold and their reputations.

But electricity offers a unique alternative. It is a standard and pure product (120V, 60 Hz; U.S.) that is widely used by individuals. But it need not be owned, produced or delivered by the gift card system itself, as we demonstrate.

While the price of electricity is not stable, its value as a source of light, heat and motion is very stable to people. Unlike shiny gold, electricity does "work." Its value is objective because kilowatt-hours can be expressed in terms of light, heat, motion or fuel, by the conservation of energy principle (e.g., 1 kWh = 3412 BTU). As examples: reading at night, or traveling by train, uses about the same amount of electricity every time. So no matter its price in money, a fixed amount of electricity has the same value to individuals. "Savings" should have value to people.



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 05:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. I had you in mind when I posted the original quote ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 05:59:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I thought...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 06:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:07:40 PM EST
President and ex-bishop hit by three paternity suits - Americas, World - The Independent

In Paraguay, the joy of the daily soap operas, or telenovelas, has been paling recently beside the goings-on at the official residence of President Fernando Lugo. His is indeed an unusually gripping saga that seems to acquire new cast members with every passing day. Some have speaking parts. Others burp and gurgle.

It was shocking enough when the first woman stepped forward asserting that she had had a child with President Lugo, 57, who assumed power on a wave of popularity just eight months ago. It is worth bearing in mind that before running for president he was a prominent Catholic bishop.

The President not only acknowledged the truth in the startling claims of Viviana Carrillo, 26. According to local media reports, he even opened his palace to her and the child, who is now almost two. Seemingly, they are settling in well. The child has even adopted his name.

But before the country knew how to react - it is at once overwhelmingly Catholic but is also a macho society that may consider the procreational activities of its leader a sign of fortitude - two more shoes or, rather, babies, dropped. A second purported mother of a Lugo child vowed to file a paternity suit against him on Monday. And yet another woman popped up on Wednesday with more Lugo offspring.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:08:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Movie Review - Il Divo - Out of Fellini and Into `The Godfather,' a Politician's Life - NYTimes.com
"I don't believe in chance, I believe in the will of God." That credo, spoken in a dry, dispassionate voice, drops more than once from the mouth of Giulio Andreotti (Toni Servillo), the scandal-ridden seven-time Italian prime minister, in Paolo Sorrentino's flamboyant biographical fantasy, "Il Divo."

A label once applied to Julius Caesar, Il Divo is only one of several popular nicknames for Mr. Andreotti, who entered the Italian political arena in the late 1940s and is now 90. As the right-leaning leader of the country's centrist Christian Democratic party, Mr. Andreotti, elected to his first term as prime minister in 1972, has been called the Sphinx, the Hunchback, the Black Pope and Beelzebub. He was appointed a senator for life in 1991.

In exploring Mr. Andreotti's possible connections to a stream of political assassinations and to other killings made to look like suicides, which began in the late 1970s and continued into the early '90s, "Il Divo" has the tone and style of a blood-soaked comic opera.


by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:24:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RIA Novosti : Outspoken Russian MP sticks up for public swearing

MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti) - A controversial senior lawmaker spoke out on Friday in defense of the public use of Russian swearwords, or mat.

"It is a grassroots language, which originated during serfdom in Russia. It is a form of protest, it is our everyday language. It must be legalized," Vladimir Zhirinovsky, deputy speaker of the State Duma lower house and leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, said in a radio interview.

Russian law classifies the use of mat in public as hooliganism, and fines of up to 1,000 rubles ($30) or a short custodial sentence can be imposed on offenders. However, the law is rarely enforced.

Zhirinovsky's defense of expletives is another example of populism from the extrovert politician and is likely to find support among those Russians who feel mat reflects the richness of their mother tongue.

(...)

In another recent case of public mat, the Spartak Moscow football club was fined almost $15,000 after a group of supporters held up a banner suggesting that their opponents enjoyed intimate relations with sheep.

Thank God for Zhirinovsky.  While Putin's busy cancelling meetings and making very boring statements about very boring interest rates, another Vladimir is keepin' it real!


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

by poemless on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 02:14:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's nice to see a politician who's willing to go to the mat for his convictions.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 06:02:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you are thanking something inexistent, I read it as a funny oddity/snark:

Z wants to raise the lowest common denominator in the  'richness of language' to the 'acceptable' level, even in public institutions, which would be a very regressive value.  The concept of polite conversation, where people avoid offending others when they communicate, is already blurred everywhere and this would help it disappear.  

Obviously, I don't speak Russian, but I can extrapolate that their expletives can be as brutal as anywhere else and as patriarchy-based and sexist as in the rest of the world, so nobody would need to bother think, to communicate without knee-jerk language.  

Living through this good-old-boy-crisis, I´m very conscious of how language is the breeding ground for what we create, from politics to violence, public and private, and to total social exclusion.  
</rant>

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:24:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
May you have many more decades of a gentler and more accepting world to enjoy!  For the good of us, all.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 06:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paljon onnea vaan
Paljon onnea vaan
Paljon onnea Helen
Paljon onnea vaan!


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 06:43:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hear, hear!

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 07:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, many happy more!  Will undoubtably hoist a malt-barley concoction in your honor, to an intelligent, brisant and committed member of the community.  Thanks for being here, Helen, All the Best!

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 09:02:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll join you later with a shot of one star Jallu (Jaloviina). By (military and naval) Finnish tradition it is served in a straight-sided shot glass. It's cut brandy (One star = 1/3 brandy). The 3 star is crap. The 1 star is smooth and delicious.

But first, a G&T. The weather has been kind, and we shall have our first BBQ of the season this very afternoon. Celebrate and cerebrate, we will. Now, did I get a new gas bottle?......</indoors>

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 09:10:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Happy Birthday!

(Said from his sisters sofa, dogsitting, as hits her birthday too today)

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 09:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Happy Birthday, Helen! May this be a year after your heart. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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