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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 6 May

by Fran Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:05:48 PM EST

On this date in history:

1904 – Birth of Harry Martinson, a Swedish sailor, author and poet. In 1949 he was elected into the Swedish Academy. He was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974. (d. 1978)

More here and here

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by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:40:13 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Europe | Basques set for landmark handover

The Basque region of Spain is set to swear in its first non-nationalist government in three decades.

The Socialist Party (PSE) and the centre-right Popular Party (PP) agreed last week to govern together.

The deal came after Basque nationalists failed to win an absolute majority in an election in March. The PSE's Patxi Lopez will head the new government.

Security in the Basque capital Vitoria is tight, as Eta separatists have threatened the incoming government.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Socialist to lead first non-nationalist Basque government | France 24
Socialist Patxi Lopez is expected to become the head of a minority government in the Basque Country following last month's elections. It's the first time since a regional parliament was set up in 1980 that a non-nationalist heads the region.

AFP - The regional parliament in Spain's Basque Country will Tuesday elect Socialist Patxi Lopez as the head of the region's first non-nationalist government since the chamber was set up in 1980.
While the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) won the most seats in the 75-seat chamber on March 1, the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party and the tiny UPyD party have a combined majority of 39 seats.
The PNV has ruled the wealthy northeastern region bordering France, which has been wracked by decades of violence by the armed Basque separatist group ETA, since it got its own regional assembly.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:48:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Greek PM reprieved by bribe vote

The Greek parliament has voted against indicting an MP from the governing party, in a corruption probe that could have triggered early elections.

Aristotle Pavlides, a former minister, was alleged to have solicited bribes in return for granting shipping contracts.

His opponents were five votes short of the 151 needed in Greece's 300-seat parliament to indict him. Not all his party colleagues supported him.

Mr Pavlides denies any wrongdoing and has refused to resign his seat.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:43:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU wants 'Internet G12' to govern cyberspace

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission wants the US to dissolve all government links with the body that 'governs' the internet, replacing it with an international forum for discussing internet governance and online security.

The rules and decisions on key internet governance issues, such as the creation of top level domains (such as .com and .eu) and managing the internet address system that ensures computers can connect to each other, are currently made by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private, not-for profit corporation based in California which operates under an agreement with the US Department of Commerce.

Commissioner Reding wants internet governance fully privatised but overseen by an international forum

The decisions made by ICANN affect the way the internet works all around the world.

EU information society commissioner Viviane Reding on Monday (4 May) suggested a new model for overseeing the internet from October this year, when the Commerce Department agreement runs out.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:50:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, I'm governed (and badly) enough at the moment. I'm not wild about a major means (my only means for some years now) of communication subject to anyone's political and/or budgetary controls. So, "no thank you."

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:17:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Before I would be willing to accept ANY change I would want to see a discussion as to if and how it would improve anything.  What I would like to see is a public trustee administering the internet and paying for that service out of revenues derived from the internet.  We really need an amendment to the Constitution in the USA to guarantee the right of citizens to the communications medium of the internet subject only to the constraints of technical realities.  We especially need protection for the rights of free communication and freedom from censorship, but also laws that prevent the use by governmental agencies of any information concerning individuals and groups obtained from monitoring internet use that is not the result of a court order.

Furtherance of these goals are the only real reason to support any change in internet governance.  Given the directions taken by so many governments towards control of the internet, I think it is imperative that any change be opposed until and unless these concerns are fully addressed.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 07:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A tangled web by any other name...

So, salient data point one is that the Commerce Department of the United States, a trusted friend in all things both specifically and generally, has a contract with a non-profit named ICANN which expires soon.

Just like the issue of the GPS system, I imagine that some feel that the control of the internet by the US is akin to watching a potential runaway nightmare unfold. Every nuance that might otherwise be innocent turns into a molehill which might be well founded. I do not insinuate by this that the US has claimed the same rights for shutting down the internet should war break out as it has of its GPS system (notwithstanding its DARPA roots.)

So, Europe wants some control. This is logical. They want less US control. Sounds logical too.

Perhaps though, you are insinuating that letting the contract expire, without assigning it to anyone, to test the theories of Anarchy...let's go for it. I will get out my old Proudhom and Bakunin and we can have a real go at this.

Finally, this excerpt from that wiki place

On May 17, 2004, ICANN published a proposed budget for the year 2004-05. It included proposals to increase the openness and professionalism of its operations, and greatly increased its proposed spending from US $8.27m to $15.83m. The increase was to be funded by the introduction of new top-level domains, charges to domain registries, and a fee for some domain name registrations, renewals and transfers (initially USD 0.20 for all domains within a country-code top-level domain, and USD 0.25 for all others). The Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR), which represents the Internet registries of 39 countries, rejected the increase, accusing ICANN of a lack of financial prudence and criticising what it describes as ICANN's "unrealistic political and operational targets". Despite the criticism, the registry agreement for the top-level domains .jobs and .travel includes a US $2 fee on every domain the licensed companies sell or renew.[5]

Along with the successful negotiations of the .travel and .jobs namespace, .mobi, and .cat are some of the new top-level domains introduced by ICANN. The introduction of the .eu Top Level Domain to the root in violation of RFC 1591[nb 1], and the introduction of .asia are developments to watch.

After an extensive build-up that saw speculation that the United Nations might signal a takeover of ICANN[6], followed by a negative reaction from the US government[7] and worries about a division of the internet[8] the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia in November 2005 agreed not to get involved in the day-to-day and technical operations of ICANN. However it also agreed to set up an international Internet Governance Forum, with a consultative role on the future governance of the Internet. ICANN's Government Advisory Committee is currently set up to provide advice to ICANN regarding public policy issues and has participation by many of the world's governments.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 07:23:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have had a fond spot for Bakunin since I read the E. H. Carr biography ~ 1962, my second year in college.  I would probably get a lot more out of it today.  :-)

I agree that what to do next with ICANN is problematic.  I am generally not a fan of privatization nor of US hegemony, especially given how it has been exercised.  The only thing that has been a positive to date is that the tech community and interested companies in the USA have succeeded in fending off most heavy handed attempts at government intervention.  Posts about proposed regulation in Europe combined with what we have seen from China, Vietnam etc. and what we know about mid-east countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria etc. do not leave me all warm and fuzzy about the prospects for international control either.  Any suggestions?

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:41:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I knew what I was talking about, I would first look for what would be the ideal situation, what we would imagine would be best given a perfect planet and perfect wonderful open and responsive governments around the globe (and beyond if those little critters weren't so dang'd obnoxious all the time.)

But I don't know the details of this. Probably the net is pretty immune to one group grabbing it, since there are so many interconnected repeaters built into the systems already.

I suspect that the only thing at this point is to keep ICANN but keep it on its toes. Make it absolutely open and much more responsive. I can only imagine that the US protection and influence is making them more clever then they need to be.

But, I am not an expert.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 01:30:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Troop mutiny now 'under control', Saakashvili says | France 24
Troops staged a mutiny on the eve of NATO military exercises, prompting the government to accuse Russia of backing a coup attempt. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says the situation is now "under control".

AFP - Georgian troops mutinied Tuesday on the eve of NATO exercises in the ex-Soviet republic, prompting the government to accuse Russia of backing an attempted coup, including a plan to kill the president.
President Mikheil Saakashvili said the situation was "under control" after an attempt at a "large-scale mutiny" and the defence ministry said it was in talks with the rebellious troops.
Defence Minister David Sikharulidze said troops of a tank battalion at the Mukhrovani base had launched a "rebellion," just as Georgia is due to host NATO exercises starting this week.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Georgia 'foils Russia-backed coup' on eve of Nato exercises - Times Online

Georgia claimed today to have foiled a Russian-backed plot to stage a military coup on the eve of joint exercises with Nato troops.

An Interior Ministry spokesman announced that the special services had uncovered a plot to topple the Government involving a former high-ranking officer at the Defence Ministry.

A tank battalion had mutinied at a base in Mukhrovani, 20 miles east of Tbilisi, and was refusing to obey orders, the Defence Ministry said.

The dramatic development comes a day before Georgia hosts three weeks of military exercises with Nato that Russia has condemned as provocative so soon after the war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia in August last year

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we sure this story is not entirely made up by Saakashvili? Are there third-party reports that a "mutiny" actually occurred?

Where's the evidence?

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 04:30:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The same commander of tank battalion, at the same base, started a "mutiny" back in 2001. That mutiny was "put down" by the then-President Eduard Shevardnadze, who came to the base with several bodyguards only.

VERY bad theater. Repeated again. Couldn't they invent something more original - like that SAM "found" near the flight path of the presidential helicopter, and conveniently destroyed before any outside eyes could see it?

by Sargon on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 04:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's so damned unimaginative: A sustained opposition to criminalize as Russian-inspired in cahoots with a Russian-inspired battalion- all this while NATO manouvers are in the making. Where's the press on this?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 05:01:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't seem everyone is buying the story: from Inopressa.ru, comes:

The Times, Georgia's alleged coup indicates that the army is turning on itself

One fact stands out amid the claim and counter-claim over yesterday's alleged coup attempt in Georgia. An army is turning on itself in full view of Nato and Russian troops.
Allegations that Moscow is behind a plot to bring down President Saakashvili remain unproven.
Yesterday's events have shown that Georgia remains much more fragile than Mr Saakashvili and his team would like to admit. Political divisions are normal in a democracy, but splits within the military are a recipe for disaster in a country with Georgia's recent history.

The Independent, Russia accused after Georgia puts down "attempted coup"
The Georgian government said it had put down a mutiny yesterday, in what it claimed was part of a coup plot backed by Russia on the eve of Nato exercises in the former Soviet republic. Moscow denied any involvement and Georgian opposition leaders called the day's events a hoax designed to distract attention from domestic discontent with the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Reaction from the US was muted, with a Pentagon spokesman calling the mutiny an "isolated incident".

The Georgian government has a history of making dramatic claims which it then backs away from. A spokesman for the interior ministry later confirmed to The Independent there was "no direct evidence" of Russian involvement.

Inopressa further reports that this piece mentions it's still unclear if the putsch was real or staged, and here it's said that there's nothing new in anti-Russian rhetoric of Saakashvili, but he has discredited himself doing so. My German and French are insufficient to provide direct translations, though.

Overall, "donor fatigue" is clearly settling in. The only interesting question is whether he'll go in "Rose Revolution" style, or will meet his maker in murky circumstances.

by Sargon on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 06:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds interesting. Well, even plausible if the same charade happened in 2001. But what does Saakashvili hope to accomplish by this?

One would think that whatever slim hope Georgia had for NATO membership would now be completely lost. A prospective NATO member that attacks Russia AND is on the verge of a civil war. Not exactly the worlds most brilliant publicity campaign.

On the other hand "failing upwards" was the credo of the Bush regime, so I guess he might just be following the script his mentors gave him.

by Trond Ove on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 06:12:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUROPE: The Right Rises
BRATISLAVA, May 5 (IPS) - Human rights activists have warned of a "proliferation" of far-right groups in central and eastern Europe amid an economic crisis fuelling support for extremist movements and political parties.

They say more and more far-right groups are becoming "paramilitary", carrying out violent attacks on Roma and other ethnic or religious minorities, while extreme right-wing political parties see a surge in voter support.

"There has been a rise in right-wing extremism in eastern Europe, especially in Hungary and the Czech Republic where paramilitary-style groups have been formed," Georgina Siklossy, spokeswoman for the European Network Against Racism told IPS.

"There is a distinct danger that, in times of economic crisis as at present, right-wing extremism and right-wing groups will proliferate."
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's-In-A-Name?: German Naming Laws Remain Byzantine - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The constitutional court in Germany on Tuesday ruled to uphold a ban on hyphenated last names of three names or longer. Given the frequency of names such as Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, many had expected a different result.

Everyone knows Schroeder, Charlie Brown's buddy in the "Peanuts" comics who pounds out Beethoven tunes on his miniature piano all day. Germans too are Schroeder fans, with Snoopy and friends having been around in the German language for half a century.

European Parliament campaign signs are plastered across Germany these days. Many of the candidates -- such as Silvana Koch-Mehrin, whose poster is seen on the far right -- have a lot of names. Schroeder, though, as it turns out, could never have been named Schroeder had he been born in Germany. The moniker is not allowed as a first name under the country's somewhat restrictive naming directives. Indeed, children must be given names that clearly denote gender and they cannot be given family names as first names. Out-of-the-ordinary designations are likewise verboten. Moon Unit Zappa could not have been German.

The law in Germany, though, isn't just concerned with first names. On Tuesday, the country's highest court upheld a ban on hyphenated last names longer than two names. Which means that Germany's Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul is on safe ground. But were she at some point in her life to tie the knot with SPD politician Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, she could not change her name to Heidemarie Schäfer-Zeul-Wieczorek-Gümbel, or any other combination thereof.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | UK | UK 'least wanted' list published

The names of some of the people barred from entering the UK for fostering extremism or hatred have been published for the first time.

Islamic extremists, white supremacists and a US radio host are among the 16 of 22 excluded in the five months to March to have been named by the Home Office.

Since 2005, the UK has been able to ban people who promote hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said coming to the UK should be a privilege.

Ms Smith said "the public interest was against naming" the remaining six, for example on the grounds it could reveal the type of information being held about them.

The Muslim Council of Britain says the government should not act against people - whatever their views - unless they have broken the law.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU politics to be YouTubed

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - With an eye on the grassroots political campaign of Barack Obama, the communications-savvy US president, YouTube has teamed up with a European broadcaster to try and bring a similar 'Yes we can' buzz to EU politics one month ahead of the European elections.

The video sharing website on Tuesday (5 May) announced it is going to collaborate with Euronews to provide an online forum for MEPs and experts to talk about the issues on voters' minds.

The European Commission has a YouTube channel already

Later this week onwards, EU citizens from across the 27 member states can put a question to those running for office via a new YouTube channel called Questions for Europe

"People want to be on a level playing field with politicians," said YouTube political communications director Aaron Ferstman, noting that politics and the internet provide the "perfect marriage."

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Croatia to agree to international mediation for border dispute | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 05.05.2009
Croatia has taken another step towards EU membership by accepting a proposed arbitration body to settle a longstanding border row with Slovenia. 

Croatian President Stipe Mesic announced that his country would allow an international arbitration panel to determine its land and sea border with Slovenia, a proposal put forward by European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

"We have harmonized our views...we are accepting the new proposal," Mesic said, after meeting with Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, cabinet ministers and the heads of the main political parties.

Croatia and Slovenia have disagreed on the border at the coastal town of Piran and access to the Adriatic Sea since the two countries declared their independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revealed: 77 trafficked Chinese children lost by home | Society | The Guardian

Organised criminal gangs have exploited a children's home beside Heathrow airport for the systematic trafficking of Chinese children to work in prostitution and the drugs trade across Britain, a secret immigration document reveals.

The intelligence report from the Border and Immigration Agency, obtained by the Guardian, shows how a 59-bed local authority block has been used as a clearing house for a trade in children that stretches across four continents.

At least 77 Chinese children have gone missing since March 2006 from the home, operated by the London borough of Hillingdon.

Only four have been found. Two girls returned after a year of exploitation in brothels in the Midlands. One was pregnant while the other had been surgically fitted with a contraceptive device in her arm. Others are coerced with physical threats to work as street-sellers of counterfeit goods. It is thought that many work in cannabis farms.

The report, marked "restricted", reveals that victims of a trafficking network that has agents based as far apart as China, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia and Kenya arrive at the home just outside the airport perimeter, only to disappear almost immediately.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 03:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Czech senate just passed the Lisbon treaty with 54 (out of 79 present). So now only Klaus needs to sign it...
by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:20:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:40:41 PM EST
TH!NK ABOUT IT - european blogging competition 2009 » Blog Archive » Why there are no true Europe-wide election campaigns - and why I am I a little bit disappointed with TH!NK09

The reason for the first part of the
question - apart from the election system that foresees national lists
- is very simple:

The national parties would need to construct completely new stories to
run a true European election campaign on the national level. They
would need to develop new arguments, inform themselves about what is
going on on the European level, get in touch with their MEPs and
discuss about goals and possibilities, something they haven't done for

But national political parties don't care for what is going on in
Brussels and Strasbourg, they are centred in their little world of
local, regional, and national self-content.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:54:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anti-EU True Finn Timo Soini coverted into "true European"

I've written about the True Finns party (aka the Ugly Party) before here - and their 'leader' Timo Soini. It is a party of anti-EU small-minded racists. The Finnish KKK.

But they just got some money. And they are high on the perfume of power. Soini has turncoated on everything in the previous platforms and is standing for the European Parliament. They also made a deal with Libertas.

It has been believed that by running for the European Parliament, Soini is just exploiting the fact that the True Finns are on the upswing, with an eye on the next parliamentary elections at home, that he is planning to go to Brussels in order to catch his breath, or to give his successor candidates an opportunity to prove their competence.

      Soini does not deny any one of these allegtions, while claiming that the most important reason for his seeking a seat in the European Parliament is the fact that he has simply changed his opinion.

      "For a long time, I was against running for the European Parliament. Then I suddenly realised that if I do not do this, I will regret it for the rest of my life. Because of the financial crisis, the world is changing rapidly, and now it is time to act", Soini says.

      Goodbye national unity, welcome one Europe! Is this what you thought when you had a change of heart?

      "No, I am not a turncoat. I just changed my mind, it is another matter", Soini commented.

He hasn't changed his mind about anything. Number One always comes first. He is despicable.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 04:20:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks to the FPs for creating a link to the European election diaries on the splash page!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 04:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sassafras did the logo AND the Salon links, so thanks to Sassafras!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:34:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:41:20 PM EST
Fiat boss Marchionne commits to Opel plants in Germany | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 05.05.2009
The head of Italian automaker Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, has said in an interview he wants to keep open all four Opel plants in Germany after a possible takeover of the struggling carmaker.  

In an interview in the Tuesday edition of the Bild newspaper, Marchionne said he wants to hold on to all of the four Opel plants in Germany but that job cuts may be inevitable.

"We don't want to close any of the four Opel plants in Germany. I need these plants in the future to build sufficient numbers of cars," Marchionne told the paper. "But of course the work force will have to be cut. Nobody can change that," the Fiat CEO said.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:45:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fiat unveils takeover plan for Opel | Business | Deutsche Welle | 04.05.2009
German Economics Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has expressed cautious optimism about Fiat's bid to buy struggling German carmaker, Opel. But, he also said he was open to bids from other suitors.  

On Monday, the head of Fiat met separately with Guttenberg, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier for high-level talks to discuss the Italian automaker's plans for an Opel takeover.

The CEO of Italy's Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, presented an audacious plan at the talks in Berlin to snap up all of US carmaker General Motor's European operations and merge them with bankrupt Chrysler to create a new global auto giant.Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne's bid for Opel includes all of GM's European operations

Marchionne touted the plan as a "marriage made in heaven."

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:47:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We don't want to close any of the four Opel plants in Germany

And I'd love to live the life of leisure. Seriously, how a highly leveraged Fiat expects to keep open 4 plants that serve the same market segment as it does while still operating bankrupt Chrysler exceeds my understanding. If I were Marchionne I'd be sorely tempted to take the brand and the patents and scrap the rest.

This entire Opel business is turning really bizarre. There have been reports that Fiat is the preferred candidate of CDU/CSU. Merkel's chosen car advisor, Roland Berger, just happens to sit on Fiat's supervisory board.

On the other side, reports are surfacing that the SPD has been using its contacts to Socialist Austrian ex-Chancellor Vranitzky, who sits on the board of Magna (the Austro-Canadian parts maker which also owns what used to by Steyr in Graz) to get Magna into the bidding.

Interesting times in the car biz.

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 Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:53:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU unemployment potentially explosive, says Juncker

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Euro group chief Jean Claude Juncker warned about the potential social fallout from the economic crisis during discussions on Europe's toxic assets and rising unemployment on Monday evening.

"We are in the heart of an economic and financial crisis and we are headed towards a social crisis," said Mr Juncker after a meeting with eurozone finance ministers, and described the fallout as potentially "explosive".

The eurozone may be heading towards a social crisis, says Mr Juncker

Earlier, economy commissioner Joaquin Almunia presented the EU executive's latest economic forecast to the euro area finance ministers which project unemployment to rise to 9.9 percent for the euro area this year and 9.4 percent for the EU27.

Mr Juncker, who was a labour minister in Luxembourg for 17 years, welcomed the commission's report and said greater emphasis must be placed on schemes to increase employability such as life-long learning and training programmes for workers on shortened weeks.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:49:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
British businessman released on record bail of 100 million euros - Telegraph
A British businessman says he has been made the scapegoat for Austria's economic downturn after being arrested when the share price of one of his companies collapsed.

Julius Meinl V, the head of Austria's largest private bank, was detained over an alleged fraud and released, without charge, only after a world record bail of €100 million (£90 million) was paid.

He spent two nights in a cell after police raided his home and offices in Vienna following the collapse in value of Meinl European Land, an investment fund managed by his Meinl Bank.

He has been demonised in the media as Austria's equivalent of Sir Fred Goodwin, who presided over the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland. However, Meinl Bank, unlike RBS, has no debts and has not been given a state bail-out.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama targets "tax haven" Netherlands - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English

The Netherlands is a corporate tax haven for US multinationals, and together with Ireland and Bermuda it is sheltering companies' earnings from the American tax authorities, president Barack Obama said on Monday. As long as they keep their earnings overseas US companies are legally exempt from paying. Taxes only become due when the money is "repatriated" to the United States.

The current practice is perfectly legal, but the US government considers it harmful to the American economy. President Obama announced a crackdown on the tax shelters, aiming to raise 210 billion dollars in taxes over the next decade. A Wall Street Journal report in April quoted a figure of 58 billion dollars in overseas earnings, which are out of the tax office's reach, losing it an estimated 20 billion dollars in tax revenue. One-third of the foreign profits in 2003 came from, what the US Treasury calls, "three small, low-tax countries: Bermuda, the Netherlands, and Ireland".

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:54:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama targets "tax haven" Netherlands - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English
Taxes levied abroad are much lower, with Ireland's corporate tax at 12.5 percent, and the Dutch rate at 0 (zero) percent.  

Emphasis mine. I think this is incorrect.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 03:14:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fact checking ain't hard.

Corporation tax - corporate income tax

Rate (last update 3 January 2008)

2008: 20% over the first € 40,000, 23% over the next € 160,000 and 25.5% over the rest
2007: 20% over the first € 25,000, 23.5% over the next € 35,000 and 25.5% over the rest.
2005: 27% over the first € 22,689, 31% over the rest
2006: 25.5% over the first € 22,689, 29.6% over the rest

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 03:21:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gloomy Forecasts: EU Finance Ministers Mull Recession Measures - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Pessimism is rampant in the European Union with forecasts now assuming a 4 percent contraction in the bloc's economy this year. As budget deficits balloon and unemployment soars, finance ministers are meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss measures to combat the crisis.

Amid extremely gloomy economic forecasts, Europe is bracing itself for a huge hike in unemployment, mounting budget deficits and, according to some, possible social unrest. The issues promise to loom large on Tuesday as European Union finance ministers gather in Brussels. And with some new member states facing severe budget difficulties, the 27 ministers are expected to double the amount of money it lends to some struggling countries.

 Germany's Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück (L) and his French counterpart Christine Lagarde look glum ahead of the EU finance ministers meeting on Tuesday. "It seems ... the recession is at its worst, but hopefully next year we'll start coming out of it," Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, who chairs the meeting, told reporters ahead of the meeting.

Greece's Finance Minister Yannis Papathanassiou called on his counterparts to work at returning to fiscal discipline as soon as the crisis over. "We have to return to the limits of the Stability and Growth Pact," he said on Tuesday.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Adidas to close some European offices in cost-cutting maneuver | Business | Deutsche Welle | 05.05.2009
Adidas plans to shut down regional offices in Europe and Asia, and could close retail stores as part of a massive bid to cut costs. It reported an 80 percent plunge in first-quarter operating profit. 

The sporting goods giant said it aims to save more than 100 million euros ($132.4 million) a year, after reporting a drop in operating profits to 58 million euros - well below analyst predictions.

Adidas' German home market is facing its most severe recession since World War II, with the government forecasting a 6 percent contraction. Retail sales there fell 1.5 percent in March.

Taken in net terms, profit dropped 97 percent for the first quarter. A company statement also said sales had fallen by just two percent, 2.58 billion euros in the first three months of the year.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Royal Mint Partnership?

THE Royal Mint should be kept in the public sector, but run as a co-operative, it is being proposed.

Last month the UK Government announced its intention to turn the Mint, based at Llantrisant, into a company as a prelude to privatisation.

The move is being opposed by the workforce and some politicians.

Sustainable enterprise charity the Nordic Enterprise Trust has linked up with Martin Davies, leader of the Welsh "apolitical party" Newid to propose an alternative solution.

Under the pair's proposal, a Royal Mint Capital Partnership would be set up, with a structure entirely different to that of an orthodox public or private limited company.

The physical assets would be lodged with a "custodian" on behalf of the public - Newid believes this ought to be the National Assembly for the time being since the Royal Mint is situated on Welsh soil.

Shares in the company managing the business, the "managing partner", would be placed in trust for its management and staff, just like, for example, the John Lewis Partnership. This company would receive an agreed proportion of the revenues received from the Royal Mint's customers through the partnership.

Investors would become "capital partners'" rather than owners, sharing in the revenues.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is very good news, even though there is a tortuous journey still ahead. It will bring media attention. If the workers at the Mint fully support it, it will get even more attention - long lasting as well, as the fate of the Mint plays out.

I especially liked the reference to the Welsh traditional acceptance of cooperatives.


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]

And good luck with the following steps.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 03:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the "Custodian" and capital partnership approach suitable as an organizational structure for the national and international governance of the internet?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 07:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe it is: it also enables a new synthesis between Open Source and proprietary software. It's possible to create a cross-border protocol which is both Open and Closed.

It's closed because only members may use it, but open, because anyone who consents to the agreement may be a member. Also a percentage of nothing is nothing so thosr interested in free (as in beer) software can participate......

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 12:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bernanke Sees Hopeful Signs but No Quick Recovery - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke, said on Tuesday that the economy appeared to be stabilizing on many fronts but cautioned that a recovery was still months away and that "further sizable job losses" will continue even after an upturn begins. Skip to next paragraph NYT_VideoPlayerStart( { playerType : "article", videoId : "1194840002236" } );

"We continue to expect economic activity to bottom out, then to turn up later this year," Mr. Bernanke told the congressional Joint Economic Committee, according to his prepared remarks.

"Even after a recovery gets under way, the rate of growth of real economic activity is likely to remain below its longer-run potential for a while," he predicted. "We expect that the recovery will only gradually gain momentum and that economic slack will diminish slowly."

Notwithstanding his caveats, the Fed chairman gave his most upbeat assessment since the United States fell into its most severe financial crisis since the Depression and its steepest recession since at least the early 1980s.

He noted that consumer spending, which sank sharply the second half of 2008, actually grew in the first quarter of this year. Sales of existing homes have been "fairly stable" since late last year, in part because plunging home prices have made houses more affordable and interest rates on some fixed-rate mortgages have fallen below 5 percent.

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 Tue May 5th, 2009 at 03:11:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Andy Xie: "If China loses faith the dollar will collapse"

With increasingly dubious accounting and lax enforcement, the US capital markets no longer stand out by virtue of being better regulated. Yes, they still may be deeper and more liquid. But overseas buyers have to look hard at foreign exchange risk. The direction for the dollar in the long term is certain to be down. Overextended debtors trash their currencies (see the Great Depression, the Nordic and Swedish banking crises, and the Asian crisis for a few of many examples).

What is interesting about the Xie piece is that even the stalwart Chinese retail investor has become leery of the dollar. Despite th logic of "oh if you sell, you only hurt yourself", the flip side is if you become certain you are indeed holding a depreciating asset, it makes sense to exit. You want to be early, not late, out.

And that logic, if it starts to take hold, in classic run on the bank fashion, could lead to a disorderly fall in the dollar. It isn't clear what the trigger might be, but Bob Shiller contends that sudden flights from markets don't necessarily require an event to kick them off. And given that Willem Buiter, who though fond of colorful writing, is hardly an extremist, foresees a collapse in dollar assets if the US fails to contain its fiscal deficit, talk of a dollar plunge isn't a a radical view.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 09:02:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | What's left of central bank independence?
The modern independent central bank was born in New Zealand in 1989. It had a short life.  The onset of the financial crisis of the north Atlantic region in August 2007 signalled the beginning of the end.  Today, only the ECB still has a significant degree of operational independence left, and it will have to give that up if it is to be effective in the current phase of the crisis. In other words, the ECB is the last central bank to understand that, if it is to play a significant financial stability role, it cannot retain the degree of operational independence it was granted in the Treaty over monetary policy in the pursuit of price stability.


Fundamental target independence - the right to choose its own fundamental objective or objectives - is possessed by no central bank.  Even the most independent of all central banks, the ECB, has its multiple fundamental objectives laid down in an external document - the Treaty Establishing the European Community.  Article 105 states that "The primary objective of the ESCB shall be to maintain price stability. Without prejudice to the objective of price stability, the ESCB shall support the general economic policies in the Community with a view to contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the Community as laid down in Article 2. The ESCB shall act in accordance with the principle of an open market economy with free competition, favouring an efficient allocation of resources, and in compliance with the principles set out in Article 4."


Operational independence is the freedom or ability of a central bank to pursue its objectives (regardless of who sets them) as it sees fit, without interference or pressure from third parties. It is not a binary variable but a matter of degree. Operational independence from an elected, sovereign government is not easily achieved.


There can be little doubt that the ECB is the central bank with the highest degree of formal or legal operational independence. Since it also sets its own operational objectives (medium term HICP inflation below but close to two percent per annum ), it can also be characterized as the most independent central bank, when operational independence and target/goal independence are taken together.  The ECB's operational independence and its mandate are enshrined in the Treaty establishing the European Community and the associated Protocol. These can only be amended through a Treaty revision requiring the unanimous consent of the EU member states (currently 27 in number).

Interestingly, he "conventional" a monetary policy that has been in effect only since 1989 by his own analysis, and that is based on an economic theory - monetarism - which holds sway among economists and policymakers only since the 1970's.

Unconventional monetary policies require close central bank - Treasury cooperation

Every time a central bank makes a loan at the discount window or engages in a reverse repo secured against private collateral, it takes credit risk (default risk).  In the Euro Area, the ECB even takes credit risk when in accepts the Treasury debt of some of the Euro Area member states as collateral in its lending operations.  There is no guarantee that cross-border fiscal solidarity in the Euro Area will ensure that sovereign debt issued by fiscally incontinent member states will be made good by Germany and other member states with deep pockets.


It is a mistake for central bankers to express, in their official capacities, views on what they consider to be necessary or desirable fiscal and structural reforms. Examples are social security reform and the minimum wage, subjects on which Alan Greenspan liked to pontificate when he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and Ben Bernanke's tendency to lecture on everything, from equality and opportunity to teenage pregnancy. It is not the job of any central banker to lecture, in an official capacity, the minister of finance on fiscal sustainability and budgetary restraint, or to hector the minister of the economy on the need for structural reform of factor markets, product markets and financial markets. This is not part of the mandate of central banks and it is not part of their areas of professional competence.


Even a nano-second of reflection will convince you that financial stability requires the close cooperation and coordination of the source of ultimate, unquestioned liquidity (the central bank), the ultimate deep pockets (the Treasury) and the supervisor/regulator.  Recognition that such a tripartite or quadripartite arrangement is necessary for financial stability (both ex-ante, that is, the prevention of instability, and ex-post, that is, dealing with the instability that happens is spite of (or because of) the ex-ante best efforts) does not answer the question as to how many institutions should be involved, and what the lines of authority among them should be.

We live in interesting times.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 06:26:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leaking under stress - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com (May 4, 2009)
John Hempton has a good question, which other people have asked me: who is leaking about the stress tests?


... there's Yves Smith's version: these are all trial balloons to see how outsiders will react to different stress reports.

But that just adds to the bad feeling about all this. Even Brad DeLong, who has been relatively sympathetic to the administration here, is disturbed by the idea that regulators are negotiating with the banks about the test results. Now it seems as if the report's contents may also be dictated by what, based on the response to leaks, the informed public is willing to swallow. ("Would you believe it if we say Citi is fine? OK, what if we say they need $5 billion? Not enough? How about 10?")


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 09:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:41:38 PM EST
World Agenda: India and China wrestle for Nepal - Times Online

On the surface, the political turmoil engulfing Nepal this week stems from a struggle for control of the army dating back to the peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war in 2006.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, the former Maoist rebel leader, resigned as Prime Minister on Monday after the President, from a rival party, overturned his decision to sack the army chief for refusing to admit Maoist troops to the army.

But the dispute masks a much grander -- and potentially destructive -- tussle between Nepal's two giant neighbours, India and China, as they vie for influence in South and Southeast Asia.

India signed a friendship treaty with Nepal in 1950, and has poured aid and investment into the country partly as a buttress against China, with whom India fought and lost a border war in 1962.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:02:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt: Israeli nukes 'greatest threat' to security

Western policies based on pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program will fail because they disregard Israeli nuclear capabilities, which is "the first and greatest threat to security in the region," an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor categorically rejected that classification.

"If he can quote at least one occasion in which Israel has threatened any of its neighbors with the alleged nuclear weapon, then his statements would gain him credibility," Palmor said. "Unless he produces evidence to support his claims, these kinds of remarks are completely out of line."

Spokesman Hossam Zaki, in a declaration to editors accredited with the ministry, said Egypt's position on disarmament and nonproliferation aimed to safeguard Egyptian security and to address the threats that undermine security and stability in the Middle East, according to Egypt's official Middle East News Agency.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:04:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting news from the Caribbean:

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis -- World Bank representatives were in Nevis on April 30th. to assess West Indies Power's proposed submarine electrical transmission of geothermal power from Nevis to other islands in the Caribbean.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | DC approves same-sex marriage law

Washington DC city council has voted to recognise same-sex marriages conducted in other US states.

Because Washington DC is not a state, the decision will now have to be approved by Congress before it can become law.

Four US states - Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa - now permit gay marriage, and legislation to allow it is in progress in other states.

The resolution was passed in the council by 12 votes to one.

Council member David A Catania - one of two openly gay members of the body - explained his reasons for supporting the measure during the debate.

"This issue is whether or not our colleagues on a personal level view me and [Council member] Jim Graham as your equals," he said.

"If we are permitted the same rights and responsibilities and obligations as our colleagues. So this is personal. This is acknowledging our families as much as we acknowledge you."

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 02:59:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US Afghan strikes 'killed dozens' - BBC
US air strikes in Afghanistan on Tuesday killed dozens of civilians including women and children, officials from the Red Cross have said.

Afghan officials in the western province of Farah told the BBC as many as 100 civilians might have died.

The civilians were said to have been hit while sheltering from fighting.


International Committee of the Red Cross observers who visited the site of the air strikes saw houses destroyed and dozens of dead bodies, including women and children, a spokeswoman said.

"We can absolutely confirm there were civilian casualties," Jessica Barry said.

"It seemed they were trying to shelter in houses when they were hit."

Exactly the thing which I condemn Israel for in the Gaza conflict. Nothing new, but it's way past time I spoke up against this.

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

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban - NYT
Pakistan's leaders began an arduous campaign here on Tuesday to convince the United States that they will repel recent incursions by Taliban militant groups, secure their own nuclear arsenal and make good use of American military and economic assistance.

The first audience for the pitch was Congress, as President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan met privately for 90 minutes with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Several of its members are wary of the Obama administration's request for additional military and economic aid to Pakistan, at a time when its confidence in the government is ebbing.

Mr. Zardari's presentation, however, left some members confused and disappointed, according to a person who attended the meeting. He said little about how the Pakistani government planned to regain momentum in the fight against the militants. And when he asked for financial assistance, he likened it to the government's bailout of the troubled insurance giant, American International Group.

So Zaradi meets with chairman of the House Committee on foreign Relations Howard Berman (D-CA. Whose new hobbyhorse is how to impose "crippling sanctions" on Iran by a blockade of gasoline shipments - Iran has little or no refining capacity of its own) and ranking minority member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who feels pretty much the same. Is it any wonder, then, that there wasn't a perfect mind meld? With those two running the foreign relations debate in the house, AIPAC feel relieved that they've got the house locked up, and the focus remains on the global war on terrorism.

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

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AIPAC may feel relieved

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:55:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:42:01 PM EST
What's Really in Many 'Healthy' Foods - WSJ.com

A lot of Americans think they're eating a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled by our assumptions and the ways that food manufacturers play on them.

Take chicken. The average American eats about 90 pounds of it a year, more than twice as much as in the 1970s, part of the switch to lower-fat, lower-cholesterol meat proteins. But roughly one-third of the fresh chicken sold in the U.S. is "plumped" with water, salt and sometimes a seaweed extract called carrageenan that helps it retain the added water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says chicken processed this way can still be labeled "all natural" or "100% natural" because those are all natural ingredients, even though they aren't naturally found in chicken.

Many Americans assume they are on a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled. WSJ's Health Columnist Melinda Beck looks at whether some products are really as healthy as they say they are.

Producers must mention the added ingredients on the package -- but the lettering can be small: just one-third the size of the largest letter in the product's name. If you're trying to watch your sodium to cut your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, it pays to check the Nutrition Facts label. Untreated chicken has about 45 to 60 mgs of sodium per four-ounce serving. So-called enhanced or "plumped" chicken has between 200 and 400 mgs of sodium per serving, almost as much as a serving of fast-food french fries.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:42:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tutoring a Nutrition/Metabolism course at Sac State this term.  Example.  Many of the soft margarines in tubs have water whipped into them during processing so they can take on the term "Lite".  One student informed me that up to 50% of the mass may be water so I'm back to using butter.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 08:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out Benecol.

I switched from olive oil to virgin cold pressed rape oil a few years ago for almost all cooking use including deep fry.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 08:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW afew, I still like olive oil a lot, but having tasted the good stuff in Provence, I found it quite expensive to get the same quality and taste in Finland. It makes sense to use a 'local' product like rape oil.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 10:43:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I quite agree, and it's what we do here too - local rapeseed and sunflower, €4 and €3 per litre respectively through our locavore co-op. Organic cold-pressed olive oil is darn expensive even here (not an olive region). A litre or two for summer salads is as far as we go.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 11:09:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether ""Lite" or not, margarine is water-whipped fat.

Margarine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In terms of microstructure, margarine is a water-in-oil emulsion, containing dispersed water droplets of typically 5-10 µm diameter. The amount of crystallizing fat in the continuous oil+fat phase determines the firmness of the product. In the relevant temperature range, saturated fats contribute most to the amount of crystalline fat, whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats contribute relatively little to the amount of crystalline fat in the product. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats and oils can be transformed into suitable substrates by the chemical process of hydrogenation, which renders them solid at room temperature. Full hydrogenation results in saturated fats only, but partial hydrogenation will lead to the formation of trans-fats as well.

Health implications of partial hydrogenation:

Hydrogenation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A side effect of incomplete hydrogenation having implications for human health is the isomerization of the remaining unsaturated carbon bonds. The cis configuration of these double bonds predominates in the unprocessed fats in most edible fat sources, but incomplete hydrogenation partially converts these molecules to trans isomers, which have been implicated in circulatory diseases including heart disease (see trans fats). The catalytic hydrogenation process favors the conversion from cis to trans bonds because the trans configuration has lower energy than the natural cis one.

What about trans fats?

Trans fat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trans fat is the common name for a type of unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acid(s). Trans fats may be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated but never saturated.

Unsaturated fat is a fat molecule containing one or more double bonds between the carbon atoms. Since the carbons are double-bonded to each other, there are fewer bonds available for hydrogen, so there are fewer hydrogen atoms, hence "unsaturated". Cis and trans are terms that refer to the arrangement of chains of carbon atoms across the double bond. In the cis arrangement, the chains are on the same side of the double bond, resulting in a kinked geometry. In the trans arrangement, the chains are on opposite sides of the double bond, and the chain is straight overall.

The process of hydrogenation is intended to add hydrogen atoms to cis-unsaturated fats, eliminating a double bond and making them more saturated. These saturated fats have a higher melting point, which makes them attractive for baking and extends their shelf-life. However, the process frequently has a side effect that turns some cis-isomers into trans-unsaturated fats instead of hydrogenating them completely.

There is another class of trans fats, vaccenic acid, which occurs naturally in trace amounts in meat and dairy products from ruminants.

Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not essential, and they do not promote good health[1]. The consumption of trans fats increases one's risk of coronary heart disease[2] by raising levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.[3] Health authorities worldwide recommend that consumption of trans fat be reduced to trace amounts. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are more harmful than naturally occurring oils.[4]

So consume cold-pressed virgin vegetable oils (rapeseed/canola is very rich in mono & polyunsaturated fats, olive oil is very good), and, if you need something to spread, butter.

Don't consume the processed products of the agro-food industry.

Hope you're feeling better, Twank ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 09:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most products in stores label trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, etc.  They are big no nos.  So the packaged supermarket brands are eliminating them.  What they are replacing them with and what the labelling guidelines are, I don't know.  It's very suspicious to see mass manufactured doughnuts and chips being touted "trans-fat free!" like they are healthy or something.

I only use extra virgin olive oil (liberally) and real butter (in moderation, but, seriously, I refuse to make an omelette with olive oil...)  But now I see that the US has no regulations about what can be called "extra virgin olive oil."  I've probably been eating bad stuff.  :(  But, it's still olive oil, right?  Still good for you...

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

by poemless on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 11:33:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The trick is to have at least 3 types of olive oil of different tastes like we do.

We've got the stronger cooking stuff, the lighter for subtle cooking and dressings, and the light and sweet for the delicate breads...all extra virgin, first pressing.

Seems ridiculous, but we just seem to buy something that we try at some market and tend to use is for its specialness, then when it is gone we gravitate towards buying it again. But it is an advantage of being able to visit local markets in Italy and here in the So of France.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 01:48:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ancient but deadly: the return of shastar vidiya - This Britain, UK - The Independent

In a fluorescent-lit sports gymnasium at a sprawling sixth-form college in Hounslow, west London, three turbaned Sikh warriors are frantically battling each other with razor-sharp swords. Draped in flowing blue robes and sporting chest-length beards, the three men cavort, twist and counter-attack each other in a blur of clashing blades and skilled confusion.

Watched by scores of eagle-eyed students, the two younger combatants use elegant curved swords and small circular shields to attack a taller and older man who is armed with a long double-edged blade and a simple dagger. Each time his opponents bring their weapons down, the lone warrior nimbly dodges the blow by sidestepping away or deflecting it back on to one of his opponents.

After a brief pause the tall man walks forward, runs a hand through his thick beard and announces with a slight hint of a Black Country accent: "The next technique I'll teach you is one that can break both a man's arms in just three moves. In real life of course, once you've broken the first arm your opponent is not getting back up. But when you're practising it's best to learn how to break both."

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Balmedie Journal - Debate on Trump Project Takes the Low Road - NYTimes.com

BALMEDIE, Scotland -- Since refusing to let Donald Trump buy his house, inconveniently located in the middle of Mr. Trump's planned $1.5 billion development in the countryside here, Michael Forbes has had an unusual number of visits from local enforcement officers. Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

Michael Forbes on the 23-acre property near Balmedie, Scotland, that he has refused to sell to Donald Trump. Even without the parcel, the project has been approved. The New York Times

Mr. Trump will build two golf courses, housing and a hotel.

One, he said, came to see whether he was abusing his hens, his geese or his horse (he was not). Another came to see whether he had an unlicensed shotgun (he did not). And a third came to investigate reports that there was a flammable substance in an old tanker on his land (there was not).

Mr. Forbes, a fisherman and granite quarry worker who has lived here for 41 years, since he was 15, said he did not care and would not move, no matter who wanted him to. But the unpleasant attention he is getting, regardless of who is behind it, comes as no surprise to the scattered, battered opponents of Mr. Trump's grand golf-and-housing project, which already has preliminary approval and may start construction early next year.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scientists reveal face of the first European - Telegraph

The head was rebuilt in clay based on an incomplete skull and jawbone discovered in a cave in the south west of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania by potholers.

Using radiocarbon analysis scientists say the man or woman, it is still not possible to determine the sex, lived between 34,000 and 36,000 years ago.  

Europe was then occupied by both Neanderthal man, who had been in the region for thousands of years, and anatomically-modern humans - Homo sapiens.

Modern humans first arrived in Europe from Africa.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Student's Wikipedia hoax quote used worldwide in newspaper obituaries

Mr Fitzgerald said he placed the quote on the website as an experiment when doing research on globalisation.

He wanted to show how journalists use the internet as a primary source and how people are connected especially through the internet, he said.

He picked Wikipedia because it was something a lot of journalists look at and it can be edited by anyone, he told The Irish Times.

Fitzgerald posted the quote on Wikipedia late at night after news of Jarre's death broke. "I saw it on breaking news and thought if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn't be looking at it until the morning," he said

The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours.

Doing something repeatedly until you finally achieve the desired result is not much of an experiment.

by det on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 03:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but it does show how the Right Wing Repub propaganda machine works.  Keep repeating lies over and over until idiots start repeating them.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 08:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IOTD @ Patrick Andrews
#861: Pirateyes Filed under: Possible inventions - 13 Apr 2009

There has recently been much discussion, in the news media, about the new era of piracy in which we find ourselves -not the digital `piracy' invented by greedy media moguls but the real thing -complete with AK47s and speedboats. (According to the BBC, piracy cost the world $60 - 70m in 2008, so I'm not clear why this is even seen as an important issue, given that banking costs the world this amount every few minutes).

The pirates' modus operandi is to board vessels without warning and hold their crew and cargo for ransom.

Today's invention is a way to provide the crew with more notice of an attack. Each ship travelling in a region subject to piracy (maybe a few hundred vessels) would be equipped with a set of cameras capturing both visual spectrum and infra red images. These would constantly scan the ship's surroundings and beam images to a webpage for the ship in question.

These pages would be displayed 24/7 on screens in prominent locations...(perhaps in railway stations and supermarkets, where large numbers of people have nothing better to do than watch displays as they wait).

This crowdsourced vigilance would result in mobile phone calls to a displayed number in the event that enough people detected some suspicious behaviour and acted to warn the ship in question. Prizes for accurate warnings might be offered.

this guy puts up a 'nutty' invention every day for free, to protest copyright, very fertile imagination.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 11:37:39 AM EST
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by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:42:25 PM EST
Tax-payers foot the bill for free Carla Bruni CDs - Telegraph
Thousands of Carla Bruni CDs are to be given away for free in a French taxpayer-funded campaign to promote exports.

The album will be sent to people around the world along with wine and cheese vouchers.

The government insists the initiative is aimed at increasing international food and drink sales but anger has been expressed at the way it also promotes the wife of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:52:38 PM EST
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Catholics attack Dan Brown film Angels and Demons - Telegraph
Catholic leaders have attacked the film sequel to The Da Vinci Code for its "gratuitously outlandish" portrayal of the Church.

The storyline for Angels & Demons, which stars Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, centres on a plot by the Illuminati, a secrety society of intellectuals, who are intent on gaining revenge for a brutal massacre of their predecessors by the Church centuries ago. Although the society once existed, there is no historical evidence that its members were butchered by Catholics.

The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Bishop of Nottingham, warned that the film could stir up anti-Catholic sentiment."This is so outlandish, it's total rubbish," said Bishop McMahon, who is one of the Church's most senior bishops. "It's mischievous to stir up this kind of anti-Catholic sentiment. It's a gratuitous knocking of the Church and I can't see any reason for it."

by Fran on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 01:53:37 PM EST
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Thank the Lord, Mr. Ratzinger is already doing a fine job stirring up anti-Catholic sentiment. May he reign for decades! By then there will be more Methodists in Italy than Catholics.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:06:14 PM EST
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In the meantime, he's doing his best to upset the Israelis by insisting that important issues be resolved before his visit. If you thought I'm talking about Gaza or similar things, you don't understand the Vatican. I mean really important issues
Peres is pressing the government to agree to the Vatican's request that Israel surrender control of six religious sites, among them the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth; the Coenaculum on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where Jesus is said to have held The Last Supper; the Gethsemane, which sits at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem; Mount Tabor; and the Church of the Multiplication, which hugs the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:14:45 PM EST
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There were actually about one hundred sites the Catholic Church wanted. Also, the Church wants special tax exemptions, a favourite of theirs wherever they go, a defining characteristic of their earthly mission. It seems that there will be a conference on the matter at this point to save face. The present Israeli government has been far from sympathetic with Vatican requests despite the overtures of Shimon Peres.

The Israeli government as well as local parishs will pay the visit. I wonder if the victims of the earthquake in Onna had to pay for his visit.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:27:28 PM EST
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Bishop McMahon:
"This is so outlandish, it's total rubbish,"

One book of outrageously badly written fiction against another.


by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 09:45:59 AM EST
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I saw this on MosNews and thought it was a joke.  Now the Trib's reporting it:

Chicago Tribune: Soap drinking, leg biting, handcuffs: Another wild flight on United

According to court documents, Rusanova was returning home to the United Kingdom after traveling to California to visit a man she had met over the Internet.
Fearful of flying, she had taken sleeping pills and consumed two or three bottles of red wine, according to a statement she made to FBI special agent James McCarty.

About three hours into the flight, a United flight attendant said she found Rusanova with her feet on her in-flight food tray, kicking the seat in front of her. Rusanova, who appeared to be very intoxicated, according to a court filing, requested more wine and then fell asleep when it was denied her.

A short time later, the same United crew member was told by passengers that Rusanova was incoherent and bothering fellow travelers. As she approached, she saw Rusanova "drink a bottle of liquid soap that she had apparently removed from the bathroom," according to the court document.

A melee ensued as flight attendants attempted to subdue Rusanova while moving her to a flight crew member's seat at the rear of the cabin, where she was eventually handcuffed. Rusanova allegedly threw punches and even tried to bite a flight attendant's leg, according to the filing.

Rusanova told McCarty that she remember little about the flight, aside from fighting with a flight attendant over seating and the quality of United's red wine.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:12:13 PM EST
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Repressed traits are the most easily revealed by alcohol. Here was a woman ready to fly - not for the first time - a long distance to realize some faint hope raised by a virtual chat conversation. It is desperation, and desperation denied often leads to violence.

It is indeed sad to behold that people can be so unhappy as to cling to such flimsy dreams. But that is the society we w*sterners have built for ourselves: somnambulism in front of the media for the poor in mind and spirit, or impossible dreams for the endowed. There are too few people who manage to navigate between these extremes - or so 'they' would have us believe.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 05:34:34 PM EST
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Eh.  I know of countless situations where people have met online and end up in prefectly decent relationships.  Even the internet hook-ups that don't end well normally don't end in someone drinking lav. soap and displaying rabid behavior.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 06:20:27 PM EST
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Hence my photo post

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 06:31:03 PM EST
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We could actually look at this as a happy ending if we consider that most people with that kind of a load on tend to die from aspirating their own vomit.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 03:14:39 AM EST
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For higher reasons of decorum the Italian Democrat Party refrained from releasing a video during the recent Trento electoral campaign, won by a very large margin by the way this Sunday.

The video shows a group of volunteers from Trento helping the victims of the earthquake when Poffarbacco Furioso arrives on the scene for another photo opportunity, oozing his spermatic aura. He grabs the closest thing feminine and asks, "Do you mind if I fondle her?"

The woman was not pleased.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 06:02:09 PM EST
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I got to work and I had a dozen unread work-related e-mails going back and forth between coworkers. I feel like this

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

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 04:24:47 AM EST
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