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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 21 May

by Fran Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:07:35 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1844 – Birth of Henri Rousseau, a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naive or Primitive manner. He is also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. (d. 1910)

More here and here

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 EUROPE 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:53:35 PM EST
France 24 | Berlusconi to explain corruption charges | France 24
Italian PM Silvio Belusconi said he will adress the parliament on the corruption charges held against him. Last February, his British lawyer David Mills was found guilty of taking bribes from Berlusconi for a false testimony.

REUTERS - A British lawyer convicted of taking a $600,000 bribe in 1997 from Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's current prime minister, lied to protect him and his Fininvest holding group, a court sentencing document said on Tuesday.

Lawyer David Mills was sentenced in February to four years and six months in prison after taking a bribe from Berlusconi, proposition leader at the time, but now prime minister after being elected to a third term last year.

Berlusconi, who currently has immunity in the case, had been charged with paying Mills the bribe from alleged "secret funds" held by his Mediaset company -- Italy's largest private broadcaster -- to withhold incriminating details about his business dealings.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:01:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi rejects bribery ruling

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has promised to give a full rebuttal to judges who said his lawyer had lied in court to protect him.

Mr Berlusconi said he would respond in parliament to the "outrageous verdict", but did not say when.

His British tax lawyer David Mills was found guilty in February of taking a £400,000 bribe from Mr Berlusconi.

Explaining their verdict on Tuesday, the judges said he lied either to help the PM dodge charges or keep profits.

"The artificial, opaque and sophisticated way in which the money was transferred to Mills' accounts itself indicates the illegality of the whole operation," the judges wrote.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:02:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi said he would refer to parliament "when he had time." He will use the occasion
1.    to accuse his judges of being prejudiced towards him;
2.    to swear that he is a victim of "clockwork" justice that always strikes in critical moments;
3.    to insist that He's the Saviour of the Nation against sun-tanned, smelly hoards;
4.    to assert that 247% of the Italians adore him;
5.    to assure that he has saved humanity and all future generations from communism;
6.    to confirm that Truth will prevail;
7.    to rant that his opponents are driven by hate and envy;
8.    to propose new draconian laws to subjugate the judiciary;
9.    to declare the state of siege.

This evening he declared- really- "I have had over 100 trials; more than 900 judges have worked on me and my group; 587 visits by treasury and judiciary police; 1560 hearings [he only attended one to my knowledge] in 14 years; more than 180 million Euros for lawyers and consultancy fees. It's really an impressive record, absolutely, not worldwide but universal, a record for the entire solar system."

I'm not aware of court procedure on Phoebe or Tethys but I've always asserted he has cosmic ambitions. He forgot to include the sums he spent to bribe judges, Bettino Craxi and sundry corrupt politicians to build his media monopoly, another 60 million Euros by conservative estimates- but well worth the turn back.

For my previous treatment of this case see the Salon yesterday.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:16:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | US vice-president sets out to mend Serbia ties | France 24
US Vice-President Joe Biden said the US "did not expect" Serbia to recognise Kosovo in a joint press conference with President Boris Tadic in Belgrade, following talks aimed at rebuilding a relationship frayed by US support for Kosovo's independence.

AFP - Vice President Joe Biden offered Belgrade a fresh start in ties here Wednesday, promising the US "does not expect" Serbia to recognise Kosovo's independence as a "precondition" for EU membership.

"The United States does not, I emphasise, does not expect Serbia to recognise the independence of Kosovo," Biden told a joint Belgrade media conference with Serbia's pro-Western President Boris Tadic.

"It is not a precondition for our relationship or our support for Serbia becoming part of the European Union," he said in a prepared speech.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When did the US become a member of the European Union?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:02:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometime shortly after the Marshall Plan
by paving on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:54:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They see the EU as the back-office of NATO (you know, like all these bank employees that never see a bonus)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Letter from Berlin: Germany's President of the People Stands for Re-Election - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Most thought German President Horst Köhler would be a voice of reform when he was chosen in 2004. Instead of delivering the tough words needed from an office elevated above daily politics, he has sought to get close to the people. Has his popularity come at the cost of political leadership?

Some would refer to it as an historic misunderstanding. When German President Horst Köhler came into office in 2004, conservatives in the country hoped he would be a voice for reform, helping to usher in the neo-liberal diet many thought the bloated state needed.

German President Horst Köhler (with the white hat) has positioned himself as a man of the people. He got off to a good start. Even as Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was still in office -- a chancellor who staked his political legacy on slimming Germany down -- Köhler, who is a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) warned his country that "the planks of reform we must drill through are thick."

Now, with just days to go before Germany's political leadership decides on whether to hand Köhler another five-year term as the country's moral authority and symbolic leader as its official head of state, the man of the hour is no longer recognizable to his original sponsors. Far from being an authoritative voice delivering uncomfortable truths to his charges, Köhler has spent recent years developing a bond with the German public -- often at the expense of the politicians in Berlin.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:03:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moldova's Communist party fails to elect presidential candidate | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 20.05.2009
Moldova's Communist party has failed to have its presidential candidate elected after opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary vote. If the same happens at a second vote next week, new elections will have to be held. 

Zinaida Greceanii, the Moldovan Communist Party's presidential candidate, who was one vote short of victory in a recent parliamentary election, failed to gain the one vote she needed to take office in Wednesday's vote.

The party was looking to keep Vladimir Voronin, current president and Greceanij's mentor, in a position of power. Voronin cannot seek a third term in office but has already secured the position of parliamentary speaker.

The outcome of the vote had been all but clear after the three main opposition parties said in advance that they would boycott the event.

A second parliamentary vote has been scheduled for next week. If that round of voting fails to produce a president, the chamber will be dissolved and a new election will be held.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:06:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diplomatic Poker: Ex-Banker Expected to Be Named US Ambassador in Berlin - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

He collected millions of dollars for the presidential election campaigns of Clinton, Gore and Obama. Now former Goldman Sachs banker Phil Murphy is considered the favorite for the prestigious post of US Ambassador to Germany.

The poker game for the highly desired US ambassador postings in Europe has reached a decisive phase in Washington. For months, the State Department and White House have been holding secret talks with prospective candidates, and Phil Murphy has emerged as the likely pick for the US Embassy in Berlin.

The United States Embassy on Pariser Platz square in Berlin: One of the best jobs that Obama can award in Europe. A former top executive at New York-based investment bank Goldman Sachs, Murphy later served as the Democratic Party's national finance chairman. He now stands a great chance of being appointed to the post in the imposing US Embassy on Berlin's Pariser Platz square, the city's historical center and site of the Brandenburg Gate.

In April, Murphy rejected invitations to give speeches in Berlin that had been sent to him earlier. His explanation to the organizer: "I have been advised not to leave America." The reason is that talks for the posting had intensified.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:09:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

A former top executive at New York-based investment bank Goldman Sachs

... a fully-owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:59:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
`US-Europe missile defence won't work'
NEW YORK/MOSCOW: A planned US anti-missile system, hotly opposed by Russia, to defend Europe against the threat of missile attack from Iran would not work, a new study by a US-based think tank said on Tuesday.

The study by the New York-based East West Institute found the proposed system "will not provide dependable protection against an Iranian threat if and when it emerges." The study titled "Iran's Nuclear and Missile Potential" was produced by a joint team of US and Russian military and academic experts.

Its findings fall in line with arguments made by Moscow, which says the plan for a radar-and-interceptor system based in Poland and the Czech Republic would threaten Russian security, but fail to protect against an Iranian attack.

The issue poisoned relations between Moscow and Washington under former US president George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama, who took office this January, has said he will pursue the planned missile shield as long as Iran remains a "real threat," while adding that the system needs to be "cost-effective and proven."
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but it depends what "work" means. It sure "works" to channel money towards defense contractors, and it sure works to feed the narrative of the evil Iranians and the evil Russians who need to be fought with toughness, not "cowardice".

Bleh

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:01:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Yet companies need not fear a bout of conflicts if they recognise that workers have not aimed to stop restructuring itself, suggests Guy Groux, social relations professor at Sciences-Po. "The claims are about the value of the payoffs and the conditions of departure. They are not defending jobs."

Mr Lacoste agrees. In the end it often boils down to a question of money. "Companies need to be aware that the differences unions are asking for is often not a lot."


Remember that hostage taking remains rare. Ten in two months is hardly significant when hundreds of French companies are cutting jobs and closing factories. If you have been bossnapped, it may well be that you have failed to spot the warning signs.

These two paragraphs are the conclusions of 2 articles (both here) about bossnapping. Despite all the fearmongering, the journalist could not avoid the hard truth about that phenomenon, but they've done a decent job of, as usual, hiding the conclusion deep down in the article.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On Sunday evening, the president of the Zagreb branch of the Croatian People´s Party, former Member of Parliament, and currently a member of Zagreb City Council, Alenka Košiša Čičin-Šain was taken to the police station for trying to overrun a police-officer by her car.

She tried to park her car in front of a Croatian Foreign Ministry´s building, where only people with special permission may park. As she came, a police officer who was that evening on duty as a security person of the Ministry´s building told her, quoting more law articles, that she is not allowed to park there in front of a protected building without a special permission and asked her to leave.

As she refused to do so, the policeman demanded her ID. She refused again saying that she would show it only to the traffic-policeman, and wanted to leave.

Then the police officer put himself behind her car in order to prevent her leaving the place without identifying herself. But she started driving backwards in order to leave, twice hitting the policeman with her car while attempting to leave the scene.

Cosequently the police officer, feeling threatened, loaded his gun and ordered her to stop and to come out of her car, or he would shoot. And then she finally left the car and she was taken to the police station.

But then - what happened? The lady told the public that she was a victim, the policeman would have almost killed her, and that he deliberately provoked the incident !? But she also told she didn´t see the officer behind her car, because she wasn´t looking backwards at all !? And the Croatian police charged her for preventing the police officer in executing his duty.

Now, I would like to ask a question. What would be the cosequence for a politician who does something like that in your country? Wouldn´t he at least have to resign from his political posts?

by drimalo on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In France, it is most likely that the policeman would be reprimanded, not the politician (this is certain if the politician was of the party in power, still likely if from the opposite side).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:15:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senior politicians are too grand to drive themselves here and have special parking spaces alloted to them and stickers that effectively say "I can drive (and park) what I want where I want whenver I want".

So it would never arise.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A politician against a policeman... Both are from institutions that act with little regard for the law and with almost pathological impunity.

I guess it depends on who the politician is and who the policeman's boss is.

If the politician is from the same party as the policeman's boss - or if the politician is from the ruling party and the policeman's boss is a career bureaucrat - then the policeman is toast.

If the politician is a communist, then the politician is toast.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:54:43 PM EST
EUobserver / Gloves come off in EU election campaigns

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU election campaigning is beginning to get ugly, with legal challenges over media abuses launched in France and Italy and personal attacks on senior political figures in Austria and Spain.

The Italian Radical Party - affiliated with the liberal group in the EU legislature - has asked the OSCE for an "immediate inquiry" into alleged violations of media freedom in the EU campaign.

The political fighting is getting dirty

The Radicals say voters are badly informed about their options, with only 3 percent of Italians aware about which parties are running and with candidates allegedly forced to pay for access to TV shows.

The Radicals note that international watchdog Freedom House has degraded Italy from "free" to "partially free" in the area of press. Italian centre-right prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi is also being linked to a corporate lawyer accused of bribery and perjury.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:59:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It "gets ugly" because someone is trying to defends its rights against the Berlusconi media machine? Was it not ugly when Berlusconi captured all the media and used all the combined instruments of State and Mediavest to deny decent coverage to opponents?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:03:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Gloves come off in EU election campaigns
Spanish MEP Jaime Mayor Oreja, who tops the centre-right voting list in the country, has been forced to defend his work rate, saying he spends his time in Brussels crafting his party's internal strategy. According to registers, the deputy has not spoken in an EU plenary session since November 2007.
And he only did so to respond to a guest speech by Zapatero.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:42:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog

"Not Berlin! I want to avoid Berlin!" I hissed at my producer, who was on the phone to a colleague in the German capital, arranging a piece for later this week on the Greens' impact or otherwise on national and European politics.

This was not out of personal aversion towards Berlin: indeed it is probably my favourite European capital, at least of those unblessed by sunshine and the spirit of the South. It is stimulating, moving and lively. It is just that as a reporter I like to get outside the capital cities whenever possible.

There are many reasons why it is not always possible. They are where you find the main politicians, academics and think-tanks clustered together. It costs more and takes more time to get out of the big city.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview with Dirk Verhofstadt, brother of the former prime minister.

nrc.nl - International - European elections 2009 - 'Europe risks becoming a footnote in history'

In the run-up to the European elections, what issues are being debated in Belgium?

"On Sunday June 7, the Belgium people will not only vote in European elections, but also in regional elections. Inevitably, the latter is getting the most attention. This dual vote clearly influences the campaigns being waged by the various candidates for the European parliament. We find that little attention is given to substance, to the most pressing issues in Europe, to the different conceptions of Europe. There is a strong movement that plays on fear and uncertainty among people about the outcome of the financial crisis. What will happen with my savings? Will I be able to keep my job? Can I keep up with my mortgage? But in the answers that politicians give, we clearly see an increase in nationalist and protectionist sentiments.

A key issue in European politics is market ideology, especially with the financial crisis. In Belgium, is there debate about whether the market ideology of Brussels needs to be amended?

"There is some discussion about market ideology, but this is certainly not a big topic. There is a widespread feeling that we have seen too much deregulation. But in my personal opinion, I think many people who voice this criticism wrongly equate liberalism with neo-liberalism. Adam Smith wrote that a market without regulations will not function correctly. What we need is more of this kind of liberalism, with a market that offers space for creativity, and with a social system that offers protection if things go wrong.

"Many people now understand that if you follow the neo-liberalist line and become a market fundamentalist, you will get the financial abuses that have come to light in the last months. Greed is an important factor in liberalist theory, and we should be able to control it by forcing people to accept the consequences if they insist on high risk-taking: you can win a lot, you can loose a lot."

by Nomad on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 05:38:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How common are his views in Belgium?  And is he involved directly in politics?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's almost funny. American Conservatives had switched from France to Belgium as an European caricature. For example,

Liberal Views, Belgian Brains (Jonah Goldberg, NRO)

by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:54:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You owe me five minutes of my life that I just wasted on that drivel.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's introduction to

Modern Conservative Intellectuals 101

I hope these comments will provide better reading 102.

by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I even understand his point, other than Europeans and liberals are just fascists. I think he was trying to say that people who mock people who say the above are fascists themselves. Oh, and Europe is "liberal-fascistically" evil.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:08:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you do understand his point.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:18:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:55:07 PM EST
Shell investors attack its executives over pay - Business News, Business - The Independent
Investors in Royal Dutch Shell turned on the oil company's management yesterday, with almost 60 per cent voting against planned remuneration packages for executives. However, the group said it intended to award the payouts anyway.
The board of directors faced angry shareholders at the group's annual general meeting in the Hague yesterday, which was also beamed live to British investors who gathered at the Barbican Centre in London.
Shareholders are furious that Shell plans to award bonuses this year, even though the company missed its self-imposed performance targets. In an electronic ballot yesterday, 59.42 per cent of shareholders voted against the remuneration report. In a similar move a month ago, a third of BP shareholders voted against their board's proposed remuneration package.
Guy Jubb, the head of corporate governance at Standard Life Investments, criticised Shell, saying his company was "not impressed by the remuneration committee's decision to exercise its discretion for the second year in a row to reward its executives for below average performance."
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:00:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The shareholders "turned on" the management?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:10:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shareholders defeating a proposal by the board of directors is so rare it is news every time. So much for "shareholder sovereignty".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:25:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently.

The Indie

However, the group said it intended to award the payouts anyway.

Perhaps they could discover activism?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:29:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How does it get to do that? can't the shareholders kick the board out if it does something like that?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:59:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on the relative voting strength of the board vs shareholders. And whether or not there would be support for a coup.

A lot of procedural nonsense, weighted to keep the board in place, is another popular option.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 04:05:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.  But you would need the backing of the big institutional shareholders to get your majority, and it's unlikely they'd have the stomach to sack the board.
by Sassafras on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:08:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but I would have thought it would be impossible to get a majority even for the resolution they did pass, so it might be worth a try to see how fed up they really are.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Spending the EU budget
The EU spends more than 100 billion euros each year on projects ranging from farming to foreign aid. Click on the buttons to see how much different countries benefited in 2007.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:03:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's frustrating that they don't give you the option of normalising to population.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:17:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did they actually write "countries benefited" in an article about Europe?? How did that slip through?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:09:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / European hotels feel the recession

EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - Hotels in Europe are starting to feel the pinch from the recession, with occupancy rates plummeting and service providers harder to find.

A note in the lobby of a two-star Parisian last week-end best illustrated the struggles the industry was facing.

"Hotel Prince Monceau is awfully sorry and we do apologize for not being able to give more towels to its guests but this is beyond our control. Unfortunately, our supplier of sheets and towels, due to the economic crisis, has to face several problems and informed us that they won't be able to provide us with clean sheets and towels this weekend," the note read.

Parisian hotel Prince Monceau struggles with dirty towels "due to the economic crisis"

The hotel was trying to change the supplier, but this would "take time", the manager explained.

While many European hotels last year managed to return profits, 2009 is set for net losses.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:12:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only the shittiest hotel in the US would use an excuse like that.  Out of towels and sheets? Go to the shop!
by paving on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:54:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read between the lines: in France, even the shittiest hotels are at least 2 stars ;-)

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:02:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes; and to my lightly experienced eye, typically family owned places who would take a day or two to round up new suppliers...

...these poor journalists, who have to reach so just to make a silly point. Imagine the difficulties that they must have to make such a solution justifiable. I really feel for them. Then again, I feel for the aphids sucking the life from the roses as I put a layer of soap and olive oil on them. (What would be the spray for a person hired as a journalist, but who can only get to the level of sucking insect?)

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:41:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Consumer Protection When All Else Fails (Written Testimony)

Simon Johnson, Baseline Scenario   20 May 2009 03:00 AM PDT

I took three points away from yesterday's hearing in the House of Representatives.

   1. We need layers of protection against financial excess.  Think about the financial system as a nuclear power plant, in which you need independent, redundant back-up systems - so if one "super-regulator" fails we don't incur another 20-40 percentage points in government debt through direct and indirect bailouts.  A consumer financial products protection agency should definitely be part of the package.  Update: The Washington Post reports that such an agency is now in the works; this is a big win for Elizabeth Warren, Brad Miller and others (add appropriate names below).
   2. Congress will work on this.  The intensity of feeling with regard to the need to re-regulate is striking, and there is much that resonates across the political spectrum.
   3. In the end, much of banking is likely to become boring again.  Special interests are convinced that they can fend off the regulatory challenge, but I find this increasingly unlikely.  Enough people have seen through what they did, how they did it, and what they keep on doing.  No doubt the outcomes will be messy and less than optimal, but at this point "less than optimal" is much preferable to "systemic meltdown".

The intro to a longer post.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 12:04:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simon Johnson's post includes his own written testimony which he submitted to the Committee.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 12:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japanese Economy Shrinks at 15.2% Annual Pace in 1Q

Yves Smith  Naked Capitalism

The only bit of cheer coming out of Japan's dreadful economic report is that the first quarter decline in GDP of 15.2% annualized, the worst every recorded, was slightly less awful than expected. The forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg expected a fall of 16.1%. However, the fourth quarter contraction was revised upwards from 13.2% to 14.1%.

Even with no further declines in the next two quarters Japan's economy would be down at least 7% for the year ending in Sept. '09.  How likely is that.  They have an export economy, granted, but this is just brutal.  My sense is they will be fortunate not to be down around 15% for a year ending Oct. 1, '09.  If that is not a depression, how does it not turn into one for Japan?

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 12:22:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan economy starting to rebound, experts say

Washington Post via LA Times

Tokyo -- Japan's export-addicted economy shrank during the first quarter at the fastest pace in more than 50 years. But the worst appears to be over, and many economists here say the economy is now beginning to grow.

A collapse in exports, especially of cars and electronics to the United States, led to an annualized 15.2% decline in the gross domestic product in the first quarter of this year, the government said Wednesday. That was after a 14.4% annualized decline from October to December.

This wrenching drop, however, will come to a welcome end this quarter, according to more than 40 economists surveyed by the government-affiliated Economic Planning Association. Between April and June, they predicted, the economy will grow at an annual rate of 1.1%.

Rapid reductions in inventory and draconian production cuts in the last six months have set the stage for recovery, the economists said, noting that exports and industrial production rose slightly in March over the previous month. These were the first such upticks in more than half a year.

So 40 economists think Japan's economy will go directly from two consecutive quarters of >14% decline to >1% growth this quarter.  Hope they are right.  We will see soon enough.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 12:34:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All those prognoses is a shamans' talk. It will rebound here, it will rebound there... Just trust us, we know the economic Gods.

Add now the outbreak of the swine flu in the Osaka-Kobe area. (I am amidst of that, sitting "safely" in a vacation-like empty Kobe University. I have no idea whether the next week will look different.) The downtown and trains are considerably less busy; convenience stores are emptied quickly of most useful stuff; shopping and entertainment life is going to be constrained for months. First cases are announced in the Tokyo area. Who will care about GDP numbers?

The inflated peak numbers might actually offer quite irrelevant statistics. Japanese export profit were distributed disproportionally anyway. The world is coming to the ground, and the new subsistence or welfare rules might emerge very different. It is an illusion that economic "miracles" of the last decade could be revived.

Japan is not too quick to abandon civil appearance of economic activity, even if probably at loss everywhere. I still see quite a lot construction activity around, particularly. The Japanese have saving for a while.

by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:09:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All those prognoses is a shamans' talk. It will rebound here, it will rebound there... Just trust us, we know the economic Gods.

"Andrew W. Mellon said, 'There is no cause for worry. The high tide of prosperity will continue.'

Mr Mellon did not know. Neither did any of the other public figures who then, as since, made similar statements. these are not forecasts; it is not to be supposed that the men who make them are privileged to look further into the future than the rest. Mr Mellon was participating in a ritual which, in our society, is thought to be of great value for influencing the business cycle. By affirming solemnly that prosperity will continue, it is believed, one can help insure that prosperity will in fact continue. Especially among businessmen the faith in the efficiency of such incantation is very great."

- J. K. Galbraith

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:06:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are Wall Street speculators driving up gasoline prices?

By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- Oil and gasoline prices are rising fast as Memorial Day weekend approaches, but not because supplies are tight or demand is high. U.S. crude-oil inventories are at their highest levels in almost two decades, and demand has fallen to a 10-year low, but crude oil prices have climbed more than 70 percent since mid-January to a six-month high of $62.04 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, although refiners are operating at less than 85 percent of capacity, which leaves them plenty of room to churn out more gasoline if demand rises during the summer driving season, the price of gasoline at the pump has climbed 28 cents a gallon from a month earlier to $2.33.

This time, Wall Street speculators -- some of them recipients of billions of dollars in taxpayers' bailout money -- may be to blame. Big Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley and others are able to sidestep the regulations that limit investments in commodities such as oil, and they're investing on behalf of pension funds, endowments, hedge funds and other big institutional investors, in part as a hedge against rising inflation.

These investors now far outnumber big fuel consumers such as airlines and trucking companies, which try to protect themselves against price swings, and they're betting that the economy eventually will rebound, that the Obama administration's spending policies and Federal Reserve actions will trigger inflation -- or both -- and that oil prices will rise.

We have been wondering what the banks are doing with the bailout money.  If they put lots of it into oil futures, that, by itself, could drive up the price of oil so that any recovery is aborted and the current account balance drives down the dollar before the oil futures price collapses as fast or faster than during last July.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do future prices drive spot prices? I doubt it. Speculation could explain a strong contango but not a rise in spot prices.

Also, what we want to know is the stock, production and demand figures globally, not for the US.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is only the US in the world, and oil prices are driven exclusively by US supply and demand.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the one hand ... (Jan 2009)
With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

and on the other... (Mar 2009)

The decisions to reduce gas production are similar to steps by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to end a flood of crude. OPEC reduced output three times, and crude oil gained 37 percent from a December low to $46.25 a barrel on March 13. Gasoline futures have rallied 34 percent this year to $1.3529 a gallon, leading commodities tracked by the S&P GSCI Index.

OPEC agreed at a meeting yesterday in Vienna to keep production quotas unchanged, deciding against a further cut that risked damaging the ailing global economy. The group will aim to complete last year's reductions and meet again on May 28 to review the policy. Crude oil for April delivery rose 2.4 percent to settle at $47.35 a barrel.

price support: first order logic, first order prerogative of swing producers.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:26:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I realize that the top graph if for the NYMEX, but was its behavior so different from other exchanges recently?  And while there were vigorous arguments back and forth regarding the association between capital flows in and out of futures markets and spot prices during the oil price spike last year, the capital inflows and outflows did seem to follow the spike.  Just another meaningless coincidence?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 10:22:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The price is the same in NY or elsewhere; what is misleading is graphs of "supply" only showing US storage and "demand" only showing US demand. While big, it's still only 25% of overall demand.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:16:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do I correctly suspect that I am not the only one who has trouble finding any information on supply that is more recent than yearly results mostly for 2007?  NationMaster Total: 84,789,040.8148 bbl/day    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:27:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com | Willem Buiter's Maverecon | Negative interest rates, Sharia law and tech stocks
Apparently, there are those who believe that when the price today of one unit of money tomorrow is less than one unit of money now - when the nominal interest rate is positive - there is no moral issue.  When the price today of one unit of money tomorrow is more than one unit of money now - when the nominal interest rate is negative - something nasty is being perpetrated.  No matter how I shake and bake this set of beliefs, I cannot make sense of it.

...

But there is nothing at all strange about a world in which you put a dollar in a deposit account and get back 95 cents after a year.

Indeed, it's called "bank service charges"...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 03:59:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
- there is no moral issue.

For me it is not a moral issue as I don't believe that morality, as most would construe it, has any role in market behavior.  One of the major roles of economics has been to convince market participants that "every-day" morality does not apply to market operations and to supply a more congenial view of "behavioral norms" to market participants.

As a matter of practicality and long term economic and financial stability it would seem that capital flows from those who cannot take physical delivery of a futures contract that overshadow the flows from those that can take delivery might be a problem and could be involved in price run ups and collapses, even in the face of "irrefutable" (certainly not by me) arguments as to why this cannot happen.  I don't understand these markets very well, but I do wonder if I am getting a whiff of Dr. Pangloss.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 10:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economist's View: "Foolish Consistency" - Mark Thoma
When everyone was doing well during the bubble - jobs were plentiful, housing and stock prices were going up, etc. - it appeared that everyone was sharing in the bounty.
 Sure, the rewards were unequal, and the reality was that although we were near full employment, wages were stagnating for the middle class, but that's not what we heard about during this time.
 Rather it was all about our dynamic, flexible, wonderful, laissez faire economy providing high rates of economic growth and opportunity.
If you were stuck in a dead end job, did not own a house, did not have 401ks for retirement to capture your share of the wealth, and so on, why that was your own fault, your own lack of initiative.
 The opportunity was there, you just had to knock on the door.
 And if you didn't, then that is your problem, not a problem with the system (of course, in reality we are a less mobile society than much of Europe, but the popular belief was otherwise).
by Bernard on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:39:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:55:27 PM EST
Democrats in Senate Block Money to Close Guantánamo - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON -- In an abrupt shift, Senate Democratic leaders said they would not provide the $80 million that President Obama requested to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The move escalates pressure on the president, who on Thursday is scheduled to outline his plans for the 240 terrorism suspects still held there.
In recent days, Mr. Obama has faced growing demands from both parties, but particularly Republicans, to lay out a more detailed road map for closing the Guantánamo prison and to provide assurances that detainees would not end up on American soil, even in maximum security prisons.
The move by Senate Democrats to strip the $80 million from a war-spending bill and the decision to bar, for now, transfer of detainees to the United States, raised the possibility that Mr. Obama's order to close the camp by Jan. 22, 2010, might have to be changed or delayed.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US Can Hold Gitmo Detainees Indefinitely, Judge Says

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge says the United States can continue to hold some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without any charges.

U.S. District Judge John Bates' opinion issued Tuesday night limited the Obama administration's definition of who can be held. But he said Congress in the days after Sept. 11, 2001 gave the president the authority to hold anyone involved in planning, aiding or carrying out the terrorist attacks.

Bates' opinion comes amid increasing debate over whether President Barack Obama is going to release anyone from Guantanamo. Obama has promised to close the prison by January, but Senate Democrats say they will block the move until he comes up with a plan for the detainees.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Judge Evil:
But he said Congress in the days after Sept. 11, 2001 gave the president the authority to hold anyone involved in planning, aiding or carrying out the terrorist attacks.

Apparently this includes the entire population of Afghanistan, most of Pakistan, and anyone else from other countries that the US doesn't like the look of.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:31:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even so, one might wonder if trials should be held at some point. At this point they're just random people picked up for some reason or the other. Not convicted, so the first step is to prove that they actually can chew through hydraulic hoses or whatever they are accused of.
by asdf on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 09:49:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless authorities at Gitmo held and videotaped classes in the subject, they would probably be unable to satisfactorily demonstrate in a civil court that most detainees actually knew much more than their native language.  They don't actually know much about many of them and much of what they do know could not be used.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like a mistrial...
by asdf on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like thuggery and barbarism.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:22:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Senators reject closing Gitmo prison without plan | TPM News Pages

While allies such as No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois cast the development as a delay of only a few months, other Democrats have made it plain they don't want any of Guantanamo's detainees sent to the United States to stand trial or serve prison sentences.

"We don't want them around," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The Senate move matches steps taken by the House and threatens to paralyze the Obama administration's entire plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by January. In recent weeks, Attorney General Eric Holder had sought to reassure skeptical lawmakers, but Congress appears unconvinced and may force the detention facility to remain in operation.

It's also evidence that a weeks-long GOP effort against Obama's order to close the Guantanamo facility is paying off.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:10:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jane Meyer, Philippe Sands: Rock and Hard Place | DemocracyNow! | 20 May 2009

JANE MAYER: Nobody wants to have any of the Guantanamo prisoners anywhere in their state in this entire country, it seems, and the Democrats have really just fled from Obama on this. And--

AMY GOODMAN: Well, led the charge against Obama. Harry Reid, for example.

JANE MAYER: Really. I mean, they've criticized the Bush administration for keeping Guantanamo open, and now they are running away from trying to close it. So, it's not exactly a profile in courage.

I think, you know, to some extent you can understand that these prisoners have been so dehumanized in the way they've been described. I mean, we had one top military official from the Bush administration describe them as being able to chew through hydraulic cables to bring down planes. And, you know, they've been described as absolute monsters. And the truth is, though, that the United States prison system has many monsters in it. ... I mean, there are many people in maximum-security prisons in the United States who are being safely housed in those maximum-security prisons.

So price per prisoner should not be a deal breaker.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 04:16:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
today the US Senate voted to prohibit funding to transfer, release, or incarcerate detainees detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to or within the United States.

ROLL CALL on the Inouye Amdt. 1133 to the first Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, H.R. 2346.

Mssr Byrd, Kennedy, and Rockefeller did not vote, because, let it be said, the Democratic Party majority is worth its weight in gold.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 05:08:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like they finally decided to use some of that powder which stayed miraculously dry during the Bush years.

Shameful.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 07:30:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The city manager of a small, (pop. 3,500) Montana town with an empty new maximum security prison with 450 beds was on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC tonight, (Wed), asserting that his town council had voted unanimously and that the citizens of his town supported them taking 100 of these prisoners at this presently unused facility.  They need the jobs.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:43:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would it pay for the town to provide the funds to transfer them from Guantanamo? I don't think that there's anything in the bill to prevent Obama transferring them as long as he can find somebody who is willing to pay.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:30:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that there's anything in the bill to prevent Obama...

The S5642 text is explicit (no permalink. You must click through the Amd.1133 URL to transcript, SA 1132-SA1133),

SA 1132. Mr. INHOFE (for himself, Mr. BARRASSO, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. DEMINT, Mr. JOHANNS, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. THUNE, Mr. VITTER, Mr. SESSIONS, Mr. COBURN, Mrs. HUTCHISON, Mr. BENNETT, Mr. HATCH, and Mr. ENZI) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 2346, making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

Sec. __. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to any department or agency of the United States Government by this Act or any other Act may be obligated or expended for any of the following purposes:

(1) To transfer any detainee of the United States housed at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to any facility in the United States or its territories.

(2) To construct, improve, modify, or otherwise enhance any facility in the United States or its territories for the purpose of housing any detainee described in paragraph (1).

(3) To house or otherwise incarcerate any detainee described in paragraph (1) in the United States or its territories.

SA 1133. Mr. INOUYE (for himself, Mr. INHOFE, Mr. SHELBY, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. ENZI, and Mr. ROBERTS) proposed an amendment to the bill H.R. 2346, making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes; as follows:

Strike section 202 and insert the following:

Sec. 202. (a)(1) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act or any prior Act may be used to transfer, release, or incarcerate any individual who was detained as of May 19, 2009, at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to or within the United States.

(2) In this subsection, the term "United States" means the several States and the District of Columbia.

    (b) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title II for the Department of Justice for general administration under the heading "SALARIES AND EXPENSES" is hereby reduced by $30,000,000.

    (c) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title III under the heading "Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide" under paragraph (3) is hereby reduced by $50,000,000.

##

The stipulation "by this Act or any other Act" would foreclose a state government, ergo county and municipal government, from allocation or re-allocation of stimulus monies received from any federal agency to transfer and housing of detainees.


Source: WSJ, Stimulus Spending by State, as of 29 April 2009. Click to enlarge image.

Mr Obama is free, of course, to marshal his formidable mailing list to raise funds from supporters to pay for the transfer and housing of detainees.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG!!  Prescient bastards, aren't they!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 10:46:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Assholes, in a word. United. That's about all I can fathom from the story of financial stabilization as it develops.

TARP Can't Help States | Bloomberg | 21 May 2009

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the U.S.'s $700 billion financial rescue package can't be used to aid cities and states facing budget crises. The law "does not appear to us to provide a viable way of responding to that challenge," Geithner told a House Appropriations subcommittee in Washington today.

Suddenly the exclusive, uncontestable discretion to distribute TARP granted Treasury Sec. by EESA is revoked by Treasury Sec.

Among the hurdles: Money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program is reserved for financial companies, he said. The Treasury chief said he will work with Congress to help states such as California that have been battered by the credit crunch and are struggling to arrange backing for municipal bonds and short-term debt. The municipal bond markets are "starting to find some new balance and equilibrium," Geithner said. [BWAHAHAHA]

Mebe Geithner's gonna pull some super-special PPIP for muni investors out of his back pocket in "a few weeks."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:47:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well done! I tried to follow the links to find the bill, but found myself going round in circles...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 11:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bwah! Such records are "temp~r111rgrADv:e175815:" -- no permalink

::

<click link> Amdt. 1133 --this is a permalink
@ TEXT OF AMENDMENT AS SUBMITTED: CR S5642, <click link>
Scroll to Page: S5641, <click link>
Scroll to SA 1132


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:54:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They need the jobs. Ain't it the truth...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Arms Given by U.S. to Afghan Forces May Be Leaking to Taliban - NYTimes.com
KABUL -- Insurgents in Afghanistan, fighting from some of the poorest and most remote regions on earth, have managed for years to maintain an intensive guerrilla war against materially superior American and Afghan forces.
Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents' corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.
The presence of this ammunition among the dead in the Korangal Valley, an area of often fierce fighting near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, strongly suggests that munitions procured by the Pentagon have leaked from Afghan forces for use against American troops.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:58:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...who could have expected ? (cont P 94)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:38:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Netanyahu stands firm against demands from Obama - Telegraph
Israel stood firm against demands from Barack Obama on Monday to cease the construction of Jewish settlements and embrace the "two-state solution" to achieving peace in the Middle East.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in his first meeting with the US president, made it clear that while he welcomed Mr Obama's commitment to the region, he was more concerned about dealing with the threat of Iran than peace talks.

Mr Obama was unable to secure any commitments on ceasing the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank or embracing the "two-state solution" to achieving peace in the Middle East.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:06:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview with Red Cross Worker in Pakistan: 'Nobody Can Assess the Magnitude of the Catastrophe' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
INTERVIEW WITH RED CROSS WORKER IN PAKISTAN 'Nobody Can Assess the Magnitude of the Catastrophe'

The fighting in northwestern Pakistan is forcing more and more people from their homes. In a single day, the United Nations registered 160,000 additional displaced persons. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke with the Red Cross's Sébastien Brack about the dire situation in the region.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How many displaced persons are there in northwestern Pakistan right now?

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (23 Photos)
Sébastien Brack: I wish I could give you an exact number, but that's difficult. Local officials talk about 360,000 people who have fled from the military offensive so far. According to our estimates, there are about 450,000 displaced persons in the entire country. But these don't count as refugees according to international law because they haven't crossed any state borders.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The figures vary widely. The United Nations talks about at least 800,000 newly registered refugees since the beginning of the offensive.

REPRINTS Find out how you can reprint this SPIEGEL ONLINE article in your publication. Brack: Nobody has a precise overview of the situation. The estimated number of unrecorded refugees is high. For many years, people in emergency situations have failed to register with the local authorities. But we think statistics claiming 800,000 -- or even a million -- newly displaced people to be exaggerated.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:11:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gulfnews: New Indian government to make security top priority
New Delhi: India's new government will make security and promoting Hindu-Muslim tolerance a priority as it heads into a second term, officials said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid out the agenda at a meeting between the Congress party and its coalition allies, said Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi.

"The prime minister said that among the priorities of the government would be internal security and communal harmony," Dwivedi said.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those who see the situation in Pakistan as a problem for the US or for the WestTM in general are missing something. Something big.
by Bernard on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | UN Gaza inquiry 'to proceed despite Israel'

A UN inquiry into possible war crimes in Gaza will go ahead even if Israel does not co-operate, says Richard Goldstone, who leads the inquiry team.

Mr Goldstone said he was "disappointed" Israel had given no positive response, and said his team would enter Gaza via Egypt if Israel refused them visas.

The UN wants to investigate whether Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the January conflict in Gaza.

Israel accuses the UN branch carrying out the mission of bias against it.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet: Why is There Rampant Famine in the 21st Century?

One cannot expect to seriously fight famine without combating the fundamental causes of the current situation. Debt is one of these causes. The publicity and fanfare around the issue, especially in recent years at the G8 or G20 summits, has failed to pull the veil over this persistent problem. The current global crisis is further worsening the situation in developing countries faced with the cost of debt, and new debt crises in the South are due to emerge. The debt has led people of the South, so often rich in terms of human and natural resources, to general impoverishment. Debt is organized pillage and must urgently be stopped.

In fact, this infernal public debt mechanism is a main obstacle to fulfilling people's basic human needs, including the right to decent food. Without a doubt, the fulfilment of basic human needs must be placed above any other considerations, be they geopolitical or financial. From a moral perspective, the rights of creditors, people of private means or speculators have little weight compared to the fundamental rights of 6 billion citizens crushed by the implacable mechanism of debt.

It is immoral to ask countries, impoverished by a global crisis for which they are not at all responsible, to earmark a large part of their resources to repaying wealthy creditors (whether from the North or the South), instead of securing their basic needs. The immoral nature of the debt also stems from the fact that this debt was very often contracted by non democratic regimes who did not use the sums of money they received in the interests of their own population and often embezzled vast amounts, with the tacit or active approval of the States of the North, the World Bank and the IMF. The creditors of the most industrialized countries granted loans while being fully aware of the fact that the regimes were often corrupt. They are therefore in no position to demand that the people of these countries pay back a debt which is both immoral and illegal.

extortion on a global scale...

'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 20th, 2009 at 05:06:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NYT: 4 Arrested in Plot to Bomb New York City Temple (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, May 20, 2009)
The FBI arrested four men Wednesday in what authorities called a plot to detonate a bomb outside a Jewish temple and to shoot military planes with guided missiles.

...

James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, the U.S. attorney's office said.

...

''This was a long, well-planned investigation, and it shows how real the threat is from homegrown terrorists,'' said [Congressman] King, of New York.



The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So plastic explosives are now called weapons of mass destruction? So the Iraqis did have WMDs after all...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...and "and use anti-aircraft missiles" " to shoot military planes with guided missiles..." is not WMD...

Calling Mr. Carroll...a Mr. Orwell has a call waiting for Mr. Carroll...

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in fact, they did not even acquire them, as far as I understand - they just tried to, and presumably failed at it...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the press clip, they are accused of planning or intending to procure and use them. In most countries that's a crime in and of itself.

Assuming, of course, that those plans actually existed, and were reasonably serious, not just a game plan for a round of CounterStrike or somesuch that got caught in one of Echelon's filters.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:38:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
4 Accused of Bombing Plot at Bronx Synagogues - NYTimes.com
A federal law enforcement official described the plot as "aspirational" -- meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives -- and described the operation as a sting with a cooperator within the group.


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:57:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A provocation, in other words. If these guys have some half-decent lawyers, they ought to have a field day with that. That the authorities are not allowed to provoke crimes is one of the core principles of a civilised justice system.

Oh. Right. Civilised justice system.

Nevermind, then.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sting operation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sting operations are fraught with ethical concerns over whether they constitute entrapment. Law-enforcement may have to be careful not to provoke the commission of a crime by someone who would not normally be inclined to do so. Additionally, in the process of such operations, the police often engage in the same so-called crimes, often victimless, such as buying or selling contraband, soliciting prostitutes, etc. In common law jurisdictions, the defendant may invoke the defense of entrapment.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, however, entrapment does not prohibit undercover police officers from posing as criminals or denying that they are police [2]. Entrapment is typically only a defense if a suspect is pressured into committing a crime they would probably not have committed otherwise, though the legal definition of this pressure varies greatly from country to country. For example, if undercover officers coerced a potential suspect into manufacturing illegal drugs to sell them, then the accused could use entrapment as a defense. However, if a suspect is already manufacturing drugs and police pose as buyers to catch him, then entrapment usually has not occurred.



The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:26:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Under Danish law, police is not permitted to solicit criminal behaviour at all. They are not, e.g., permitted to ask you whether you can hook them up with some drugs. They have to wait for you to take the initiative.

IIRC, there have actually been cases where the defendant walked because the police had caught him with a provocation (and some of these guys were guilty as sin, but that's another story...).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:12:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that in itself, it can be a crime worth prosecuting, but is it worth frontpage headlines about terrorist plots and "weapons of mass destruction"?? Someone somewhere is losing all sesne of perspective there... Who profits from fearmongering?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:28:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it's not worth the headlines. Particularly when we don't know how much of it was cooked up by the provocateur (and how much of the plot was a matter of - ah - creative interpretation of phone taps).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:03:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it is worth headlining. You can spin it to mean that Obama is keeping America safe.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:10:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:55:52 PM EST
Largest onshore wind farm in Europe opens - Telegraph
Whitelee Wind Farm, Europe's biggest onshore wind farm, will be switched on today by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond.

ScottishPower's 140-turbine farm in East Renfrewshire is said to be capable of generating enough energy to power 180,000 homes.

On Wednesday the connection for the final array of turbines will be switched on

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:58:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama opens new front in climate change battle - Americas, World - The Independent

The United States served notice yesterday that it finally intends to take firm action to combat the planet's climate crisis, announcing unprecedented plans to regulate vehicle emissions from 2012 with exhaust standards that match those sought for years by California and a handful of other states.

Unveiling the new plan, surrounded by car executives from the US, Japan and Europe, President Barack Obama left no one in doubt that he means to make good on his campaign promises to drag his country out of years of lethargy and inaction on climate protection.

"The status quo is no longer acceptable," President Obama declared, standing in the White House rose garden. "We have done little to increase the fuel efficiency of America's cars and trucks for decades. This is unprecedented change."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European carmakers unfazed by Obama proposal - NewsFlash - Syracuse.com

(AP) -- FRANKFURT - Several of Germany's top carmakers said Tuesday they likely won't be affected by changes to U.S. emissions and fuel standards, staking a claim to be the market leaders in efficiency.

Birgit Hiller, a spokeswoman at BMW AG in Munich said the company would probably have an advantage over its competitors in the U.S.-its largest market-if the proposed changes were made to U.S. policy.

"Being the leader in the premium segment in fuel efficiency and emissions, we could have an advantage in the market," Hiller said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear lobby buoyant as Europe warms up to atomic energy | Environment & Development | Deutsche Welle | 19.05.2009
The revival of atomic energy in Europe and a new nuclear-friendly mood in both the EU Commission and the EU Parliament has given the industry's powerful lobby in Brussels a shot in the arm.  

From Sami Tulonen's office in Brussels, it's just a five-minute walk to the EU Parliament and three minutes on foot to the European Commission.

It's the perfect strategic location -- a stone's throw from the corridors of power -- for the chief lobbyist of Foratom, the umbrella organization of the European nuclear industry.

"When anything that has to do with energy is being discussed in the EU Parliament or the Commission, my team is there to ensure that the nuclear industry makes its voice heard," said Tulonen.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These people have done an incredible marketing job, and should be a model for activists to come...as long as said activists have access to the world's press as GE does (NBC, Telemundo, CNBC, MSNBC, blogs, magazines, Universal Pictures, History Channel) and finance (GE Capital) and isn't afraid to use it...not to mention other companies with similar power and interests in conflict with the rest of the world's public...

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI: "Tulonen graduated in 1995 with a Masters Degree in Political Science and International Law from the University of Turku (Finland). In 1995-96 he studied EU Law at the Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg, France. Prior to his career at FORATOM Mr. Tulonen worked for several years for the Finnish Conservative MEP Delegation in the European Parliament in Brussels."

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:29:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is basically carried around the world by EDF, and possibly RWE/E.On. Will any nuclear plant be actually built by companies from the private sector (and not driven by their role as quasi-national energy companies)?

The US will be the real test.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:23:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LeaveMyFoodAlone.org: A Petition to Defeat HR 875

I've been noticing an increasing uproar in the blogosphere and the agricultural news community about H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. Introduced by Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Congresswoman with indirect family ties to agricultural giant Monsanto, the bill drastically revamps and overhauls the food safety mechanisms by which the Federal government attempts to guarantee the purity and safety of the food Americans consume.

Although my default position is to be somewhat skeptical of these mass semi-panics, in this case there seems to be some meat to the complaints. Many of the elements of the bill as it stands seem to put the Federal government in a position of tremendous power over even the smallest of agricultural producers - literally, the gentleman next door growing a row of organic tomatoes - and requiring them to do business pretty much the way that the giant agricultural companies do business. Now, the big ag companies take a lot of unfair hits sometimes, but we can all agree that not everybody wants to run their farm that way. That's why there are thousands of organic farms, and plenty of old-fashioned smallholders who do things their own way. Everybody wants food safety - but very few people want the weekend hunter, the hobby gardener, and the small organic operation treated like cogs in the food machine.

What's more, and troubling to anyone with a memory of the history of government expansions of power, the bill puts all this authority in the hands, not of the FDA (which has handled food safety at the national level for more than a century) but in an ill-defined and shadowy `food czar' working out of the White House. You don't have to be a frothing partisan to be reluctant to put any President so directly in charge of the food supply of the country. It's my view that, while there may be ideas of value in this bill (although in my reading thus far I haven't found any), the bill as it stands would be a terrible idea, one that does nothing to enhance food safety but instead makes it impossible for small producers to compete with the big companies, often imposing what amounts to de facto bans on organic produce or naturally-gathered food and game.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 03:13:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have sent letters to my representatives opposing this grotesque seeming power grab on behalf of argi-business.  They seek to regulate and impose requirements on even backyard gardeners who want to sell their products at local farmer's markets, such as occur weekly around the Courthouse Square in Mountain Home.  I have little faith any attempt would be made to make such regulation minimally burdensome or, indeed, helpful to anyone except the large agri-business interests who will have the regulations drafted by their lobbyists.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:07:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:56:14 PM EST
The Dark Continent: Hitler's European Holocaust Helpers - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The Germans are responsible for the industrial-scale mass murder of 6 million Jews. But the collusion of other European countries in the Holocaust has received surprisingly little attention until recently. The trial of John Demjanjuk is set to throw a spotlight on Hitler's foreign helpers.

He's been here before, in this country of perpetrators. He saw this country collapse. He was 25 at the time and his Christian name was Ivan, not John; not yet.

Ivan Demjanjuk served as a guard in Flossenbürg concentration camp until shortly before the end of World War II. He had been transferred there from the SS death camp in Sobibor in present-day Poland. He was Ukrainian, and he was a Travniki, one of the 5,000 men who helped Germany's Nazi regime commit the crime of the millennium -- the murder of all the Jews in Europe, the "Final Solution."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doctor saves dying teen with household drill - Times Online

A quick-thinking doctor has saved the life of an Australian teenager by boring a hole into his skull with a household drill to remove a blood clot.

Nicholas Rossi, who was 13 yesterday, was suffering from the same type of head injury which killed the British actress Natasha Richardson.

The emergency brain surgery occurred after Nicholas bumped his head when he fell off his bike outside a friend's house in the regional town of Maryborough, Victoria, last Friday.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish probe says thousands of children abused in Catholic schools | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 20.05.2009
A long-awaited report has confirmed allegations that Catholic nuns and priests abused thousands of children assigned to their care in Irish church-run institutions for decades. 

The results of the nine-year old Irish investigation, released on Wednesday, accuse Roman Catholic priests and nuns of widespread and systematic abuse of thousands of children assigned to their care in special schools, reformatories and orphanages from the 1930s to the 1970s.

 

A special child abuse commission established by the Irish government in 2000 examined over 100 institutions and industrial schools, which were chiefly run by religious orders and the Department of Education.

 

The long-awaited 2,600 page report came to the conclusion that sexual abuse was endemic in boys' institutions for decades and that church officials not only encouraged ritual beatings but also repeatedly shielded pedophiles from arrest.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Irish abused 'cheated of justice'

Victims of "endemic" child abuse at Catholic institutions in Ireland have expressed anger that a damning report will not bring about prosecutions.

The report, nine years in the making and covering a period of six decades, found thousands of boys and girls were terrorised by priests and nuns.

Government inspectors failed to stop beatings, rapes and humiliation.

John Walsh, of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, said he felt "cheated and deceived" by the lack of prosecutions.

The findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions - in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 04:04:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Worth quoting:

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Abuse report - at a glance

  • Physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions.
  • Sexual abuse occurred in many of them, particularly boys' institutions.
  • Schools were run in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff.
  • Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools.
  • Many witnesses spoke of being constantly fearful or terrified, which impeded their emotional development and impacted on every aspect of their life in the institution.
  • Prolonged, excessive beatings with implements intended to cause maximum pain occurred with the knowledge of senior staff.
  • There was constant criticism and verbal abuse and children were told they were worthless.
  • Some children lost their sense of identity and kinship, which was never recovered.
  • Absconders were severely beaten, at times publicly. Some had their heads shaved and were humiliated.
  • Inspectors, on their occasional visits, rarely spoke to the children in the institutions.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 07:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:56:43 PM EST
Intimate Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy video stuns France - Telegraph
An embarrassing video in which Carla Bruni pets her husband Nicolas Sarkozy and calls him her 'little cauliflower' has caused a sensation across France.

The intimate moments, recorded during an interview, mark the first time that a French president and his first lady have been filmed sharing such flirtatious moments in the Elysee Palace .

It what appears to be a well choreographed love-in, the 41-year-old Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy continually strokes her 54-year-old husband's hand and even pats his bottom.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:57:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
like a couple of idiot teenagers
by paving on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 07:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't care less about the guy's love life. But I find the way he choreographs it for the benefit of the cameras vaguely improper. It seems to me that romantic relationships should not be reduced to cheap public relations gimmicks. That it somehow cheapens it.

Of course, he may just be an exhibitionist who gets his hard on by posing to a camera...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Money Central - Times Online - WBLG: The 10 weirdest MP expense claims

1.  Glitter toilet seat

Who: John Reid, former Home Secretary

Reid's Glasgow flat must be quite something - he claimed for a DFS sofa, which comes with instructions to 'plump cushions daily', a £199 'pouffe' and a toilet seat that would make Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen blush.

2. Three Kit Kat Chunkies

Who: Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

According to The Sun newspaper Blears bought the late night snacks while staying at the City Inn hotel. A `friend' of Blears said she had been "feeling lonely" and had "wanted something to cheer her up." 

3. Moles removed from country estate

Who: John Gummer, former Tory Cabinet minister

The former Environment Minister claimed £9,000 a year in gardening expenses over a four-year period including £100 to rid his lawn of moles and bills to remove jackdaw nests, combat insect infestations and an annual 'rodent service' contract.  

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Press Association: Zombie movie gets drop-dead offers

Amid all the wealth and glamour of the Cote d'Azur, a British zombie movie made for just £45 could be the surprise success story of the Cannes Film Festival.

The festival opened with Up, the new 3D animation from Disney-Pixar, the budget for which was reported to be in the region of £75 million, but Colin, directed by Marc Price, has already caught the eye of distributors in the Cannes film market.

Price, originally from Swansea, but now living in London, has no formal training in film-making and said he picked up most of his skills from DVD extras - directors' commentaries and the like.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 02:34:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AFP: French-Russian Gromov receives 'Mathematics Nobel'

Franco-Russian mathematician Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov on Tuesday received the world's leading mathematics award, the Abel Prize, for his "revolutionary contributions to geometry."

Norway's King Harald V presented Gromov with six million Kroner (686,000 euros, 935,000 dollars) at a ceremony in Oslo, after the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awarded him the Abel Prize on March 26.

"Mikhail Gromov is always in pursuit of new questions and is constantly thinking of new ideas for solutions to old problems," said the statement by the awards committee.

"He has produced deep and original work throughout his career and remains remarkably creative," the statement added.

Gromov, 65, a professor at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies (IHES) near Paris, is the third French mathematician to win the award after Jean-Pierre Serre in 2003 and Jacques Tits who was a joint winner last year.

by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:04:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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