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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 22 May

by Fran Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:03:45 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1907 – Birth of Hergé, a Belgian comics writer and artist. "Hergé" is the French pronunciation of "RG", his initials reversed. His best known and most substantial work is The Adventures of Tintin, (d. 1983)

More here and here

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by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:43:51 PM EST
EUobserver / EU defends free movement of labour in face of UK workers protests

The EU on Wednesday (20 May) warned against the negative effects of "closed borders" on jobs, following two days of protests by British oil refineries' employees against the use of foreign labour.

The two-day British strikes involved thousands of workers at seven refineries angered by proposals to employ dozens of foreign workers, mainly from central and eastern European member states, instead of local ones, the BBC writes.

A tabloid's take on migrants to the UK

Similar protests had taken place in February, when workers at the Lindsey oil refinery in north-eastern England protested plans to award a contract to an Italian-based firm using its own Italian and Portuguese workers. The protest later spread to a nuclear plant in the north-west of England as well.

The European Commission insisted on the benefits of free movement of workers and warned against the negative effects of "closing borders."

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:49:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are they defending the 'freedom of workers to move' or the 'freedom to move workers'?
by det on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:53:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims - Home News, UK - The Independent
'Work for us or we will say you are a terrorist'

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.

The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Czechs shocked by anti-Roma TV ad

The Czech government has expressed outrage over the broadcast of an anti-Roma (Gypsy) campaign advert by a far-right group on national television.

The head of Czech Television, Jiri Janecek, said the National Party (NS) video would not be broadcast again.

Interior Minister Martin Pecina has said he is now seeking to ban the NS.

The NS advert spoke of "a final solution to the Gypsy issue" and carried the slogan "Stop Favouring Gypsies" over images of Roma.

Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Human Rights Minister Michael Kocab said they considered the NS video illegal.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:50:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevermind that ODS guys promoted anti-Gypsy sentiments for two decades...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi rants against press intrusion in model's life - Telegraph
Silvio Berlusconi has lashed out at Italian newspapers for publishing details of the property portfolio owned by an aspiring lingerie model.

Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy's main financial daily, said Noemi Letizia, whose 18th birthday party the prime minister recently attended, owns at least four properties registered in her hometown of Naples. The prime minister has faced uncomfortable questions over his relationship with the teenager.

The properties were small and in unfashionable parts of Naples, in keeping with the family's modest wealth. Miss Letizia's father, Benedetto, a council officer, last year declared an income of just over euros 12,000 (GBP 10,600).

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:52:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New corruption accusations against Berlusconi | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.05.2009
The Italian government accuses Milan judges of timing the release of court documents to damage Silvio Berlusconi's party in next month's European elections. 

A Milan court on Tuesday released the full reasoning behind its February conviction of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's British tax lawyer, David Mills. The court said Mills had given false testimony to protect Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding group.

Mills was convicted of taking a 440,000 euro ($600,000) bribe in 1998 in exchange for withholding incriminating details about Berlusconi's business dealings. Berlusconi was not prime minister at the time.

The prime minister said he believes the release was deliberately timed to damage his party ahead of European elections in early June.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:52:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least he's consistent with his bullshit. He's been using that line all his life. Amazing how people continue to buy it.

But, that aside, what kind of article is this? This isn't news. The Deutsche Welle, like so many other papers is simply repeating news dispatches, most put out by the government. Why don't they actually read the damned sentence and report what's in it? These are not "new corruption accusations". These are facts proven by trial that date back to the early ninties. And they're going to be screwed over by the statute of limitations within a year.

How I miss U.S. Justice. Take a Madoff or any other sleaze bag and slap cumulative life sentences within months and the bastards keep their fucking jaws shut when the sentence is read. None of that fucking statute of limitations shit.

We have to put up with this lurid old mobster covered in fard and Eau di Coty for a leading role in Italian Beauty. Take some advice, Mr. Immortal, get your grimmy mits uplifted. They positively show advancing age.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:49:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually the hot news today was an article in Repubblica detailing an encounter between Noemi and the premier last November sans chaperons. It contradicts Berlusconi's repeated assertions that Noemi was always accompanied when they met.

Noemi was the mysterious guest at an important dinner with high fashion impresarios at Villa Madama. She sat at Berlusconi's table and peaked the curiousity of many. The two left together in seperate cars.

Today (May 21) Berlusconi did manage to attack the judiciary as extreme leftist, called for a popular petition to redimension parliament, and more power to the premier.

For the delight of our fellow Europeans he hoped that his personal political entity would win a landslide victory and become the main force in the PPE. We can thank Kohl for letting this individual into mainstream Europe. Polls give him a solid victory in the upcoming elections despite Mills and Noemi.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:55:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | No going back for Kosovo, says US

US Vice-President Joe Biden has told Kosovo's parliament its independence is "absolutely irreversible" and the only viable option for regional stability.

"The success of an independent Kosovo is a priority for our administration," Mr Biden said in a speech that received several standing ovations from MPs.

Earlier, he received an enthusiastic welcome from crowds of ethnic Albanians in the capital, Pristina.

However, the Serb minority said it was planning to hold anti-US protests.

The US played a leading role in the Nato bombing campaign which expelled Serbian forces from Kosovo a decade ago.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:54:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Balkenende: Europe should adopt Dutch "polder model" - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English
In an exclusive video interview with the English Department of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced on Wednesday evening that he will suggest to other European countries that they adopt the Dutch `polder model' of government.

He will make the proposal during the European Union summit to be held in Brussels on 18 and 19 June.

Mr Balkenende believes that Europe sorely needs a system similar to the Dutch `polder model', whereby employers, trade unions and governmental authorities meet and negotiate until they arrive at a consensus.

The Prime Minister says that this type of system is needed now more than ever since millions of workers in Europe risk losing their jobs and many companies are suffering record losses.

He stresses the importance of employers, workers and local and national governments reaching agreement on salaries, job protection, training schemes and taxation.

The Dutch Prime Minister and German Chancellor Angela Merkel support the introduction of a so-called "Rhine-Delta model" for Europe, which is extremely similar to the Dutch model.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is noce for a change that inclusive cooperation is promoted rather than the crushing of all non-pro-business forces, but why is he thinking that employer-trade union-government forums are unique to the Netherlands?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:57:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It remains a unique view in Anglo-World.

I suspect many FT and Econo readers would be shocked by the very idea.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The neo-liberals are calling for an end to such nonsense in Ireland. It's not democratic or some such shite.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:19:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU sets low expectations for Russia summit

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU envoys at a summit in the Russian Far East on Thursday (21 May) and Friday will voice worries over energy security and trade tariffs, but expect to come home with little by way of concrete agreements.

The European Commission last week sent proposals to Moscow on how to beef up an existing Early Warning Mechanism (EWM) to alert Brussels on the risk of future gas cut-offs, such as the massive outage in January.

Dmitry Medvedev inspects an oil refinery in Khabarovsk ahead of the summit dinner on 21 May (

The current set-up, described by one EU official as "basically down to some guys calling each other," is to be put on a more formal footing, with the possible inclusion of transit countries such as Ukraine.

The EU believes a repetition of the January fiasco could take place at any time, with Russia itself warning that Europe should loan money to Ukraine to help it pay spiralling gas debts.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain signals end to war crimes, genocide hunting [Reuters]

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish judges who tried to extradite ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and investigate Bush administration officials over Guantanamo will likely be barred from doing so again after a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.

by Loefing on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:07:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. President Barack Obama has also expressed his opposition to moves by Spanish courts to begin a probe into former Bush officials, including then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, over torture allegations at Guantanamo Bay.

Kill Habeus Bills, "Preventive Detention" | NYT | 21 May 2009

President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a "preventive detention" system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot [sic] be tried, two participants in the private session said.

The discussion, in a 90-minute meeting in the Cabinet Room that included Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other top administration officials, came on the eve of a much-anticipated speech Mr. Obama is to give Thursday on a number of thorny national security matters, including his promise to close the detention center at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. ...

"He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can't charge and detain," one participant said. "We've known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning."

The other participant said Mr. Obama did not seem to be thinking about preventive detention for terrorism suspects now held at Guantánamo Bay, but rather for those captured in the future, in settings other than a legitimate battlefield like Afghanistan.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:50:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No comment...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
broadcasting his intent to amend existing agency rules or to suborn legislation creating a new tribunal and new procedures to prosecute "unlawful combatants," "enemy combatants," "non-enemy combatants," and "terrorism suspects," and "seditionist" as had previous US presidents.

for those captured in the future, in settings other than a legitimate battlefield like Afghanistan.

rather than repudiate arbitrary powers to imprison, NOT to prosecute according to civil or criminal code, civilian persons anywhere on earth that the US Congress vested in the office of the president.

Estudiá! A 2mm-Deep Memory Hole

What New Powers does the Military Commissions Act give to the President?"

Obama DOJ Withdraws `Enemy Combatant' Definition, But Says It Can Hold Prisoners Indefinitely Anyway

Special Department of Defense Briefing with Navy Secretary Gordon England.

Q:   Can you say what that home country is?
SEC. ENGLAND:  No, I can't. We will -- after the transfer, that will become known.  You know, we've released now about 150 detainees in the past for a number of reasons, including non-enemy combatant [i.e. criminal suspect] determinations.  But that will be after the release to home country.  It's really then up to the home country, working with our State Department, to release nationalities.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 12:27:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
those captured in the future, in settings other than a legitimate battlefield like Afghanistan

Glossing over the fact that, in Afghanistan, the US bought truckfulls of prisoners from the Northern Alliance, who was all too happy to round up random people to sell to the Americans.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:40:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
totally true dat. Oh, man, the entire rationalization of murder, torture, and theft is so much bullshit ... surrealistic.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How many times do you wanna die?
How many ways do you wanna die?

Do you feel safe again? Look over your shoulder
Very carefully look over your shoulder

We can laugh about it now
We hope everything works out
Be careful how you lick your wounds
Believe that change is coming soon

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:51:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish judges who tried to extradite ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and investigate Bush administration officials over Guantanamo will likely be barred from doing so again after a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.
That is not exactly true.

What has been negotiated by the ruling PSOE and the main opposition PP is an end to universal jurisdiction. If a case involves Spain or Spanish nationals, it can still be prosecuted.

Which means both the Pinochet case and the Guantanamo case could proceed as before. For instance:

Augusto Pinochet's arrest and trial

In 1998 Pinochet, who still had much influence in Chile, travelled to the United Kingdom for medical treatment -- allegations have been made that he was also there to negotiate arms contracts [4]. While there, he was arrested under an international arrest warrant issued by judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain, and was placed under house arrest: initially in the clinic where he had just undergone back surgery, and later in a rented house. The charges included 94 counts of torture of Spanish citizens, the 1975 assassination of Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria, and one count of conspiracy to commit torture --allegations of abuses had been made numerous times before his arrest, including since the beginning of his rule, but never acted upon. Still struggling with the conditions set by the difficult transition to democracy, the Chilean government of the Concertación, then headed by President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, opposed his arrest, extradition to Spain, and trial.
(my emphasis)

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:40:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, but ending universal juristiction is still a cowardly stepback, IMHO.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:56:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is, but on the other hand there is now an International Criminal Court of which Spain is a member.

As long as Spain doesn't sign a bilateral agreement protecting the US form the ICC...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:02:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Were Spanish magistrates limited in the same way the ICC is?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:08:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:10:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
International Criminal Court - Wikipedia
Territorial jurisdiction

During the negotiations that led to the Rome Statute, a large number of states argued that the court should be allowed to exercise universal jurisdiction. However, this proposal was defeated due in large part to opposition from the United States.[36] A compromise was reached, allowing the court to exercise jurisdiction only under the following limited circumstances:

  • where the person accused of committing a crime is a national of a state party (or where the person's state has accepted the jurisdiction of the court);
  • where the alleged crime was committed on the territory of a state party (or where the state on whose territory the crime was committed has accepted the jurisdiction of the court); or
  • where a situation is referred to the court by the UN Security Council.[11]

[szerkesztés] Temporal jurisdiction

The court's jurisdiction does not apply retroactively: it can only prosecute crimes committed on or after 1 July 2002 (the date on which the Rome Statute entered into force). Where a state becomes party to the Rome Statute after that date, the court can exercise jurisdiction automatically with respect to crimes committed after the statute enters into force for that state.[5] The ICC's temporary headquarters in The Hague

[szerkesztés] Complementarity

The ICC is intended as a court of last resort, investigating and prosecuting only where national courts have failed. Article 17 of the Statute provides that a case is inadmissible if:

"(a) The case is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution;

(b) The case has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it and the State has decided not to prosecute the person concerned, unless the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute;

(c) The person concerned has already been tried for conduct which is the subject of the complaint, and a trial by the Court is not permitted under article 20, paragraph 3;

(d) The case is not of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court."[12]

Article 20, paragraph 3, specifies that, if a person has already been tried by another court, the ICC cannot try them again for the same conduct unless the proceedings in the other court:

"(a) Were for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court; or

(b) Otherwise were not conducted independently or impartially in accordance with the norms of due process recognized by international law and were conducted in a manner which, in the circumstances, was inconsistent with an intent to bring the person concerned to justice."[13]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:21:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

During the negotiations that led to the Rome Statute, a large number of states argued that the court should be allowed to exercise universal jurisdiction. However, this proposal was defeated due in large part to opposition from the United States.[36] A compromise was reached, allowing the court to exercise jurisdiction only under the following limited circumstances:

  • where the person accused of committing a crime is a national of a state party (or where the person's state has accepted the jurisdiction of the court);
  • where the alleged crime was committed on the territory of a state party (or where the state on whose territory the crime was committed has accepted the jurisdiction of the court); or
  • where a situation is referred to the court by the UN Security Council.[11]
Right, this is what Spain has done now, presumably on US pressure in exchange for nothing. Like the ICC did.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
presumably on US pressure in exchange for nothing

No nothing. Red carpets and photo ops.

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

by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:31:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A permanent seat at the G20?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:54:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
il manifesto || "Coup" participant killed near Tbilisi

Three leaders of the so-called coup d'etat against Saakashvili last May 5th were "discovered" near Tbilisi May 20, according to the Georgian Minister of the Interior. The police "responded to fire" killing Gia Krialashvili and gravely wounding Levan Amiridze and Koba Otanadze. No police were wounded.

According to opposition sources, the protest of May 5th, in which the three participated, was a reaction to Saakashvili's order to use tanks against the demonstrator.

According to other sources, the three were not stopped casually at a police checkpoint but had been located through confessions under duress of Koba's brothers, Nugsar e Gimsher, as well as the latter's wife and child.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:44:14 PM EST
EUobserver / Ruling elite under fire in EU elections

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Ruling parties in some of the EU's biggest member states are coming under heavy fire in EU election campaigns, giving eurosceptic groups a chance to grab attention.

Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, whose right-wing PDL party is polled to scoop up to 40 percent of the country's EU vote, faced calls to resign on Wednesday (20 May) over alleged links to a corporate bribery scandal.

UKIP's Mr Farrage - emerging to challenge the UK's ruling Labour party

A court in Milan has ruled that a Berlusconi proxy paid British-born lawyer David Mills €435,000 to act as a "false witness" for the premier in a series of fraud trials which implicated the media tycoon. The PM's spokesman said the resignation calls were "politically timed" to damage Mr Berlusconi, who heads his party list.

British eurosceptic party UKIP is to spend €2.3 million in the next two weeks to woo unhappy Labour voters in the wake of the parliament expenses scandal.

"Of the recent inquiries we have had from our first-time buyers [new supporters], around 60 percent of them have come from Labour," UKIP leader Nigel Farrage said, the Times reports. UKIP and Labour are both polling at around 16 percent, compared to UKIP's 6 percent at the start of May.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:52:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methinks EUobs is trying to make a connection where there isn't one...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 04:08:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU voters don't have Turkey on their minds - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English

To one voter, the forthcoming European Union elections are a veiled referendum on Brussels as Big Brother. To another, a veiled referendum on Turkish EU membership. Or on immigration. Who's right?

A selection of remarks from the Dutch campaign:

  • "If it's a choice between torture or saving civilian lives, then I say torture" - Eline van den Broek of Libertas.
  • "The interests of the Netherlands always take priority" - Hans van Baalen of the conservative VVD party.
  • "Turkey: never in the EU" - Barry Madlener of the rightwing Freedom Party.

If politicians can't agree what the European elections are about, no wonder the voters are turning away in confusion. But ask the same voters to say what they see as important themselves, and it turns out they do have clear priorities.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:55:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another quote:

EU voters don't have Turkey on their minds - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English

So what is important to the people who fill in the EU Profiler? Firstly, the promotion of sustainable energy, even if it means higher energy prices. Here there seems to be quite a degree of unanimity in Europe, because the issue scores highly in nearly every country.

On other topics, opinion is divided. For example, on the desirability of health care privatisation. In the Netherlands this is barely matter for debate, but in Sweden, Italy, Poland and Austria it heads the list.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How the turnout at European elections could be much higher...in 2014 - The Euros
nterview with Simon Hix on the European elections and the shortcomings of the current campaign

Simon Hix is a leading expert of the European Parliament and European elections. His call for more politicization at the European level in order to increase participation stirs the debate about the democratic deficit. In his talk to the `Euros' at the London School of Economics, he emphasized that slight changes to the European elections voting system and to the way European parties lead their campaigns would be sufficient to make the European elections a genuine contest for political alternatives at the European level. In his lively and inspiring manner, he told us about how MEPs perceive their role, about his misunderstandings with British journalists and how the European Parliament should engage in the election of the Commission President. If he was an MEP, we would surely vote for him...

The Euros: Mr Hix, in February, the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, gave a controversial speech at the European Parliament which incited some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to leave the hemicycle. He claimed that there was a lack of political alternatives at the European level. Furthermore, he argued that the strengthening of the European Parliament could not resolve the democratic deficit but would rather further alienate citizens from the decisions taken in Brussels. If you had been an MEP, I guess you would not have left the hemicycle, would you?

"It's healthy for European democracy that there are people like Klaus", says Simon Hix.

During Václav Klaus' speech a number of MEPs left the hemicycle to demonstrate their disagreement.

Simon Hix: You are right, I wouldn't have left. Despite the fact I disagree with Klaus I think it's healthy that there is a more open public debate about Europe. Although I would like to see more debates about the choices of the future of Europe with a more centre-left Europe or a more centre-right Europe, part of the debate inevitably is what kind of Europe in terms of its design we want. So I think it is healthy for European democracy that we have people like Klaus saying what he says and people having the right to reply to that. And people like Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, who has actually been a very good and a very effective MEP in terms of articulating the views of a wide section of the European public. So I would not have left the hemicycle, although I disagree with what Klaus said.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This could (should?) be ETs future aim...

nrc.nl - International - Features - Getting Europeans to talk to each other

If one newspaper is read in all European countries it is probably the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times. In second and third place are the Financial Times and The Economist, both newspapers from a country that is only half heartedly a part of Europe.

Europe now has its own currency, central bank, parliament and court of justice. As soon as the Lisbon Treaty comes into effect it will have a genuine president and a foreign minister. Yet, when it comes to getting information about Europe there is not a single transnational medium that Europeans can turn to.

European vacuum

There is no European newspaper that is read by Italians and Czechs alike, no single website where both Spaniards and Swedes go to get their news, no TV news programme that is broadcast to every living room in Europe at 8 p.m. A few German-language media, like Die Zeit or the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, do have some influence beyond their national borders. But there is no Europe-wide debate, not even in the run-up to the European elections in June.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:07:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh. They apparently never heard of Euronews, EUobserver, EUbusiness. There is a slight non sequitur smell to the intro of this article...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 04:07:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many Europeans have heard of Euronews, etc?

The idea that the IHT is a one-stop source of pan-Euro interest is bizarre, because - well - it doesn't really cover Europe much.

But Wallstrom has - as usual - missed the point that popular Euro-branded media would help create a pan-European identity.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:12:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that the IHT is a one-stop source of pan-Euro interest is bizarre
How can anyone not see the IHT is a newspaper for American expats?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:31:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain's ruling PSOE has kicked off their political campaign for the Euro elections. The ads have the slogan "This game is being played in Europe". Some posters have the addition "You have been called" (using the same verb as when the coach of the national football team "calls in" players for an international match).

I have seen three large billboard ads. One pitting the main candidates for both PP and PSOE with a message to the effect of "the PP candidate represents yesterdy, the PSOE candidade represents tomorrow". Another poster pits Zapatero and PP's leader Rajoy with the message "fighting the economic crisis / exploiting the economics crisis". The third one just has blue (PP) and red (PSOE) fields with the messages "denying climate change / fighting climate change".

Apparently a TV ad has been rolled out showing conservative citizens from various countries (and in various languages) making statements for the death penalty, free dismissal of workers, against immigrants, against abortion... and ending with "the problem is not what they think but who they vote for". I have a hard time understanding what they intend to say with the slogan but the intent of the ads is clearly to mobilize progressive voters against the EPP.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 04:59:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a hard time understanding what they intend to say

Isn't it just pre-empting the usual conservative victimology about intolerant leftists denying plurality and freedom of thought?

At any rate, I like a fighting centre-left. I would like it more if (1) it would not have shown its lack of seriousness on global human rights by de-legalising war crimes trials the other day, (2) if it would not have shown its limited commitment to fighting climate change in its road-building policy, (3) if it would not have shown its total lack of fighting attitude in supporting Barroso.

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

by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:34:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:44:36 PM EST
British firms shut out of lucrative US deals - Telegraph
British firms are being shut out from lucrative contracts in the US despite assurances from Barack Obama that America would not start a trade war.

Business leaders have told the Daily Telegraph their members have reported dramatic drops in US business because of the protectionist clauses in the president's $787 billion plan to boost the US economy.

Others have been forced to withdraw from bidding to supply stimulus-funded projects in the US, because they cannot meet state and local government requirements that projects should use only American-made products.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:46:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In good times, everybody feels secure and generous.  In bad times, everyone looks out for themselves.  What's the surprise?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 09:40:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Eurozone contraction slows down

Eurozone prospects brightened this month with the pace of economic contraction slowing markedly, according to a survey that will boost hopes of the region's recession ending this year.

Purchasing managers' indices for the 16-country region jumped more than expected in May to the highest for eight months. Although they still indicated economic activity was contracting, the rate of decline fell for a third consecutive month. The improvement in Germany, the eurozone's largest economy, was particularly sharp.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:56:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BofA Wants to Repay TARP in 2009

by CalculatedRisk on 5/20/2009 11:46:00 PM

From the Financial Times: BofA seeks to repay $45bn by end of year

   Bank of America wants to pay back $45bn in bail-out funds by the end of the year, in a faster-than-expected move made possible by an accelerated programme to raise capital.

    BofA is on track to raise more than $35bn in capital by the end of September...

    People familiar with the bank's plans say negotiations to sell some of BofA's non-core assets are under way and, if the asset sales occur in the next few months, the bank will be able to fulfil its stress-test obligations and pay back Tarp funds from its $173bn cash reserves.

Stop laughing!

As my father used to say: "People in Hell want ice water..."  Or are there really that many buyers out there for what B. of A is selling?

"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 04:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What the USA has lost

From Bogus "Solutions" to the Financial Crisis: The Latest in Junk Economics by Michael Hudson.  (Guest post in GlobalResearch.ca)  

Michael Hudson begins by describing all of the financial self help books written about a year ago that are about to hit the bookstores--already obsolete.  Of course the economics such books embody is now being shown for the self serving travesty that it has long been.  A few gems particularly relevent to themes discussed on ET are excerpted below.  The whole post is well worth reading.

The latest panacea being offered to jump-start the economy is to rebuild America's depleted infrastructure. Alas, Wall Street plans to do this Tony Blair-style, by public-private partnerships that incorporate enormous flows of interest payments into the price structure while providing underwriting and management fees to Wall Street. Falling employment and property prices have squeezed public finances so that new infrastructure investment will take the form of installing privatized tollbooths over the economy's most critical access points such as roads and other hitherto public transportation, communications and clean water.

Surprisingly, one does not hear even an echo of calls to restore state and local property taxes to their Progressive Era levels so as to collect the "free lunch" of rising land prices and harness its gains over time as the main fiscal base. This would hold down land prices (and hence, mortgage debt) by preventing rising location values from being capitalized into new mortgage loans against "capital" gains and paid out as interest to the banks. Restoring Progressive Era tax philosophy (and pre-1930 property tax levels) would have the additional advantage of shifting the fiscal burden off income and sales - a policy that would make labor, goods and services more affordable. Instead, most reforms today call for further cutting property taxes to promote more "wealth creation" in the form of higher debt-leveraged property price inflation. Instead of housing prices falling and income and sales taxes being reduced, rising site values merely will be recycled to the banks for ever larger mortgages, not taxed to benefit local government. In this scenario, local governments are forced to shift the fiscal burden onto consumers and business, impoverishing the community.


What has been lost are the Progressive Era's two great reforms. First, minimization of the economy's free lunch of unearned income (e.g., monopolistic privilege and privatization of the public domain in contrast to one's own labor and enterprise) by taxing absentee property rent and asset-price ("capital") gains, keeping natural monopolies in the public domain, and anti-trust regulation. The aim of progressive economic justice was to prevent exploitation - e.g., charging more than the technologically necessary costs of production and reasonable profits warranted. Progressive Era reforms had a fortuitous byproduct: Minimization of the free lunch enabled economies such as the United States to out-compete others that didn't embrace progressive fiscal and financial policy, creating a Leviathan that has now fallen to its knees.

The second Progressive Era reform was to steer the financial sector so as to fund capital formation. Industrial credit was best achieved in Germany and Central Europe in the decades prior to World War I. But the Allied victory led to the dominance of Anglo-American banking practice based on loans against property or income streams already in place. Because of this, today's bank credit has become decoupled from capital formation, taking the form mainly of mortgage credit (80%), and loans secured by corporate stock (for mergers, acquisitions and corporate raids) as well as for speculation. The effect is to spur asset-price inflation on credit, in ways that benefit the few at the expense of the economy at large.

The consequences of debt-leveraged asset-price inflation are clearest in the post-Soviet "Baltic syndrome," to which Britain's economy is now succumbing. Debts are run up in foreign currency (real estate mortgages, tax-avoidance funds and flight capital), without exports having any prospect of covering their carrying charges as far as the eye can see. The result is a debt trap - chronic austerity for the domestic market, causing lower capital investment and living standards without hope of recovery.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:10:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Column in FT Duetschland on Thursday, apparently about the shortcomings of the Social Market...but the automatic (machine) translation done by Google is difficult to piece together.

Anyone care to sum up the gist of this? I've always been a huge fan of the Social Market...

by glacierpeaks (glacierpeaks@comcast.net) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PS: Happy Birthday, Tintin!
by glacierpeaks (glacierpeaks@comcast.net) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:34:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You gave no link, which one do you mean? Fricke: Nun ist auch mal gut mit Erhard, Wolfgang Münchau: Die leere Worthülse, or something else? At any rate, Fricke dismisses nostalgic talk about the wisdom of Wirtschaftswunder-era finance minister Wolfgang Erhard (as well as 'easy answers' as to what the Americans should have done instead of what Greenspan et al have done actually) and calls for new thinking instead; and Münchau harps on against a new German pride in West German social market economy traditions (as pushed on New York billboards). Münchau's is rather incoherent, his basic argument seems to be that German Social Market Economy is no solution to the rest of the world because no one knows it...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 04:25:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I'm sorry, LOL. It's very late over here. I forgot the link.

But thanks DoDo for the summation.

by glacierpeaks (glacierpeaks@comcast.net) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 04:49:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So which one was it? I could give a fuller summary -- especially of the Münchau piece: what I wrote can be termed "summary" only in scare quotes due to the source's incoherence.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:37:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You had it right: the Munchau one. Eurointelligence referred to it, and so I was trying to get the gist...

Thanks again.

by glacierpeaks (glacierpeaks@comcast.net) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 07:50:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:44:52 PM EST
U.S. Pullout a Condition in Afghan Peace Talks - NYTimes.com
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Leaders of the Taliban and other armed groups battling the Afghan government are talking to intermediaries about a potential peace agreement, with initial demands focused on a timetable for a withdrawal of American troops, according to Afghan leaders here and in Pakistan.

The talks, if not the withdrawal proposals, are being supported by the Afghan government. The Obama administration, which has publicly declared its desire to coax "moderate" Taliban fighters away from armed struggle, says it is not involved in the discussions and will not be until the Taliban agree to lay down their arms. But nor is it trying to stop the talks, and Afghan officials believe they have tacit support from the Americans.

The discussions have so far produced no agreements, since the insurgents appear to be insisting that any deal include an American promise to pull out -- at the very time that the Obama administration is sending more combat troops to help reverse the deteriorating situation on the battlefield. Indeed, with 20,000 additional troops on the way, American commanders seem determined to inflict greater pain on the Taliban first, to push them into negotiations and extract better terms. And most of the initial demands are nonstarters for the Americans in any case.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:50:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | Obama 'to clear Guantanamo mess'

The US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay is a "misguided experiment" and a "mess" that must be cleaned up, US President Barack Obama has said.

Mr Obama said it had weakened national security and rallied enemies of the US, but he was determined to close it by January 2010 whilst respecting US law.

He was speaking at the US National Archives, where the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights are kept.

The US Congress has rejected Mr Obama's move to fund the closure.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:54:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Mounts Defense of Detainee Plan - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON -- President Obama delivered an impassioned defense of his administration's anti-terrorism policies on Thursday, reiterating his determination to close the prison at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba in the face of growing Congressional pressure and declaring that America will remain strong if it stands by its basic precepts.

The president said that what has gone on at Guantánamo for the past seven years has demonstrated an unjust, haphazard "ad hoc approach" that has undermined rather than strengthened America's safety, and that moving its most dangerous inmates to the United States is both practical and in keeping with the country's cherished ideals.

Moreover, he said that transferring some Guantánamo detainees to highly secure prisons in the United States would in no way endanger American security.

Speaking at the National Archives, which houses the Constitution and other documents embodying America's system of government and justice, the president promised to work with Congress to develop a safe and fair system for dealing with a particularly thorny problem: what to do with those Guantánamo detainees who, for one reason or another, cannot be prosecuted in civilian or military courts "yet who pose a clear danger to the American people" and therefore cannot simply be released.

"I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face," the president said, pledging to help devise "clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category," meaning former Taliban commanders, Al Qaeda-trained explosives experts, acolytes of Osama bin Laden and others whose hatred of America is deep and uncompromising.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Civil Libertarian Rips Obama's Speech: All Bells And Whistles

He praised Obama for wanting to close Guantanamo Bay, but called his overall position on detaining and trying suspected terrorists "a road to perdition," primarily because of the use of military commissions. "Military commissions are used when you want an easy way to convict people," he said. "You write up new rules after the fact. That's what military commissions represent. His history was just flawed. They were not used very often. They are used on the battlefield or shortly thereafter in a real war. "

Even more troubling for Ratner, however, was the notion of preventive detention -- which he called "the real road to hell," and compared to something from the movie Minority Report. "[Obama] said some people are just too dangerous to let go and that we have to keep them," said Ratner. "Though we'd do it differently then Bush. We will set up rules. Well no matter how you repackage Guantanamo, with all kinds of rules on top of it -- that is what he is doing, he is re-wrapping a preventive detention scheme and giving it some more due process. In the end, it still comes down to holding people -- much like Minority Report or pre-crime stuff -- for being dangerous, and that is not something that I think is constitutional or this country should be engaged in."

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 03:28:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sugar-frosted crap, in other words.

Gitmo won't close, preventive detention will make it possible to detain anyone and everyone for any reason with no prospect of a trial.

So much for Barack Obama.

And who are these dangerous people? Most of them don't even have minds any more.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:21:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

FindLaw: The Politics of Excusing Torture In The Name of National Security (John Dean, May 15, 2009)

On average, it takes about 100 days for the great Executive Branch bureaucracy to begin to work its way and will on the new officials, and that threshold has now been crossed. If anyone believes a rookie president and his new team can take over the executive branch, and actually run it without the cooperation of the permanent people, those who remain in place as presidents and their appointees come and go, he or she does not understand how Washington really works. Political appointees come and go, but the folks who actually run the government have an ongoing agenda of trying not to let these part-time political people screw it up too badly. Nowhere are there more of these permanent career professionals than in the departments and agencies that constitute the national security community.

Few presidents have true national security experience before arriving at the White House. For example, of the last twelve presidents - Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama - only Eisenhower, Nixon, and Poppy Bush truly understood national security operations when they arrived in the Oval Office. President Obama, like all the others, is getting on-the-job training. Who is doing that training? While his appointees with national security experience are playing a role, they themselves were all trained by the national security bureaucracy, and since the Democrats have been out of power for eight years, Obama's national security team is still relying heavily on the career people. It takes about 18 to 24 months for a new presidential team to get control of the national security behemoth.


Anger in the National Security Ranks, Stemming from the Bush Years


Our national security professionals have been humiliated. President Obama is a president who listens, and he has been told that airing the dirty linen that the Bush folks left behind will cause more harm than good. No doubt his top national security advisers - all products of the national security bureaucracy - started giving him serious heads-up talks when it appeared he was going to win the election, for that is when he began saying that he was more interested in looking forward than looking back, and that to investigate torture would only be looking back.


I would encourage those who are demanding exposure and prosecution to keep pounding their drums. Clearly, they are on the right side of this issue, and Obama knows it. While he is going to placate the national security bureaucrats from time to time in order to lead them effectively, hopefully the pressure for him to deal with the atrocious behavior of Bush and Cheney is only just getting started.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:32:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's too generous. Obama isn't just placating, he's supplicating. He's not leading morally, he's following the party line with no sign of deviating from it, and using his speech-making skillz to cover up recent history in a frothy haze of earnest feelgood spin.

I don't see any serious evidence that he wants to deviate from it. He speechifies, but he doesn't challenge. What he does is very different to what he says.

If his moral compass is that easily swayed, it's not likely to be useful to him later in his term, when he'll be even more isolated from street level and more trapped in the DC bubble.

I don't think his job is to change anything. His job seems to be to provide PR cover for the security sociopaths, and to promote the idea that something has changed, and might change more in the future - eventually. Even though in reality it won't.

That's not a very positive view, but so far he has stepped up action in Afghanistan, set up detention without trial, vetoed a public release of torture records, and perpetuated the self-serving mythology of Very Dangerous Terrorist People.

None of those give much cause for enthusiasm.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:08:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Text of remarks, if anyone's interested. I made the mistake of tuning into Newshour last night, so I screened an extended clip of it which the producers immediately braced by a clip of Cheney's AIE speech. The Newshour panel then presented to critique "dueling speeches" (their label not mine) was a disgraceful performance of the so-called considered opinions of legislative events by the experts. For one, none made the slightest attempt to differentiate sitting and retired vice-presidents (Biden from Cheney: that's damn invidious) or Mr Obama's purported commitments to either the US Congress or the US Constitution and those of Mr Bush.

Now, to be "fair" the producers may have indeed successfully accomplished the task commissioned by the White House. For earlier in the day, Mr Gibbs the Press Secretary deliberately set the agenda encouraging journalists to undermine the authority, or at least originality, of the Commander-in-Chief.

Today's Qs for O's WH

TAPPER:  Just a follow-up on this one: How do you respond to those who say the argument is actually the opposite?  What this shows is you can't release these individuals...
GIBBS:  Well, but then I guess...  
TAPPER:  ...especially these last 240 that have been the most difficult to deal with.
GIBBS:  Well, I guess my question -- it's a better question for the vice president.
TAPPER:  He's not standing in front of me.
GIBBS:  No, he's not.  But I understand he's got some free time and doing some speaking. (LAUGHTER)
But one might ask, if the prison kept us safer, if what they were doing was protecting safety and security of the American people, how on earth did they make the determination that those people should be let free? I'd be interested in the answer.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Weird. Here's another observation of WH publicity ops that "undermine the authority, or at least originality, of the Commander-in-Chief."

Vince Warren, CCR | DemocracyNow! | 22 May 2009

VINCENT WARREN: Well, I'm not--still not allowed to talk about the substance of the meeting, but it was a meeting in which we met at the--in the Cabinet Room of the West Wing. And there were a number of high-level officials that were there at the meeting.

And what was sort of shocking about it is we were told that we should not at all talk about the meeting, but right promptly afterwards, the press started calling us, because the White House Press Office told everybody about the meeting.

Not unlike Gibbs promoting Cheney to prime-time opposition manqué to Obama's much anticipated change-of-prison-policy address.

The problem [for HR consultants] is that he goes out the next day, and he has a speech in which he not only embraces the opposition, meaning George Bush's policies, but then he comes out with things that even George Bush didn't come out with, like preventive detention.

etc etc. Someone nearly got rickrolled. Again.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 11:35:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Discounting consumer demand curve (comment) follow up,

EIA says supply fell | Reuters | 21 May 2009

U.S. crude oil futures rose more than $2 per barrel on Wednesday, pushing to a 2009 front-month intraday peak above $62 a barrel as the government reported crude oil and gasoline inventories fell last week. ...

On the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:36 a.m. EDT, front-month July crude was up $1.44, or 2.4 percent, at $61.54 a barrel, after trading from $59.86 to $62.14, a 2009 front-month intraday peak and highest since $62.28 was struck on November 11.

Save the day: 28 May 2009. OPEC meets again to re-set production targets. And yes signatories have every incentive --apart from geopolitical mayhem-- to not "cheat."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:22:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stormy Daniels Forms Exploratory Committee To Run Against Vitter In 2010 | TPM | 21.5.09
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has officially announced that she has formed an exploratory committee for the 2010 Senate race, in which she is widely expected to run in the Republican primary against Sen. David Vitter -- the Christian right conservative whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal of 2007.

Campaign slogan:

Stormy Daniels, screwing people honestly!
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:38:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Maps Could Fight, Obama could sleep soundly at night. Srsly

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 11:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 08:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:45:19 PM EST
EUobserver / Obama fuel standards lag behind EU effort

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - US President Barack Obama's new fuel economy standards announced on Wednesday (20 May) have won praise domestically and around the world for being America's first emissions cap, but however much of a step forward, if passed, the car emission rules will still lag far behind those of Europe's own much criticised rules.

New US car emission standards are still bested by the EU

Mr Obama's plan, a compromise between car manufacturers and environmental critics, would require the average US vehicle - cars and light trucks - to achieve 35.5 miles per gallon (in metric around 15 kilometres to the litre) by 2016, a 30 percent advance over current fuel standards.

"As a result of this agreement we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years," said the president announcing the measure.

According to a White House official, the programme will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 900 million tonnes - the equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear Renewal: Siemens Seeks to Cash In on Russia's Atomic Adventure - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Nuclear power is back in vogue in Russia, with 26 new reactors scheduled for construction by 2030. German industrial giant Siemens has grabbed a piece of the pie. But safety and financial concerns threaten to overshadow the country's atomic ambitions.

Olga Kurochkina can hardly hide her delight at making her German guests squirm. She has just served them caviar and pirogies and is now triumphantly waving a document in their faces. "Our students recently debated whether Germany needs nuclear energy," says Kurochkina, a teacher at an elite Moscow high school. "The arguments, of course, favor electricity from nuclear energy."

Kurochkina insists that there are "significant disadvantages" to all other energy sources. Wind turbines? "They produce infrasound, which causes depression." Solar cells? "They cause local cooling of the air."

It is hard to believe, but German energy policy is up for debate in Russian classrooms. The students at Kuochkina's school pay rapt attention to a multimedia show in which a virtual professor praises the electricity generated by nuclear power. At the end of the film, a growing orange tree appears on the screen, symbolizing the growth of the Russian nuclear industry. The message is clear: Things are going uphill fast.

Nuclear power is back in vogue in Russia, as if the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had never happened. The giant country has plans to build 26 new domestic reactors by 2030, and 20 more abroad

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:53:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does anyone remember the discussion a few weeks ago about windpower's predictions for 2009?  J will certainly remember, but it's somewhere on ET.

Well, for a reason i stated then, HSBC has just revised their pessimism, to the benefit of us all.

HSBC revised its 2009 U.S. forecast upward to 6,750 megawatts from 5,000 megawatts just a couple of months ago. That still equates to a 20% drop compared to the record wind installations of 2008, but is a lot better than the brutal 40% decline HSBC was expecting. Next year could be even better, with 30% growth on the cards:

"The Treasury grant should help stimulate a V-shaped recovery of the US wind market, with a strong rebound in 2010," the bank said.


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

by Crazy Horse on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:45:39 PM EST
Siege police wait for snakes to ssssurrender - Times Online

It wasn't quite the serpentine invasion Samuel L. Jackson had to deal with on a commercial airliner in Snakes on a Plane, but Spanish police were taking no chances.

Eight dangerous snakes were curled up in a Madrid flat yesterday as Civil Guard officers and zookeepers refused to storm the building until the relevant antidote had been administered -- or the creatures surrendered.

It could be a long wait: there was no sign of capitulation last night and the antidote could take three weeks to arrive from Mexico.

As the siege dragged on, nervous neighbours in the suburb of Barajas were keeping a close watch just in case the two pythons, five boa constrictors and a rattlesnake slipped out and slithered under their doors.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:51:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlin's Nefertiti Debate: Calling the Queen's Authenticity into Question - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

For decades, people have marvelled at the bust of Nefertiti. Now, some scholars say it's a fake -- made to hold a necklace. Museum scientists are eager to prove these theories wrong, but the mysterious statue might not be ready to reveal her secrets yet.

Of course they copied her. You can see it clear as day. At the Altes Museum on Berlin's Museum Island, a brief film runs in a silent loop on a monitor. It shows laboratory workers handling a replica of the Nefertiti bust built to test a new portable base for it. The monitor is part of a current display at the museum, one which includes four work stations set up in a large, glass cubicle to show just how complex conserving great works of ancient art is.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can Positive Thoughts Help Heal Another Person? : NPR

Spirituality And Health

[University of Miami professor and AIDS researcher Gail] Ironson began to zero in on a patient's relationship with God in an attempt to predict how fast the disease would progress.

She focused on two key indicators. She measured viral load, which tells how much of the virus is present in a person's body, and immune cells called CD-4 cells, which help fight off the AIDS virus.

Ironson says over time, those who turned to God after their diagnosis had a much lower viral load and maintained those powerful immune cells at a much higher rate than those who turned away from God.

"In fact, people who felt abandoned by God and who decreased in spirituality lost their CD4 cells 4.5 times faster than people who increased in spirituality," Ironson says. "That was actually our most powerful psychological predictor to date."

"Just so I understand it," I confirm, "if someone weren't taking their meds and were depressed, they would still fare better if they increased in spirituality?"

"Yes," she says. "Now, I'm not in any way suggesting that people don't take their meds," she adds quickly, laughing. "This is really an important point. However, the effects of spirituality are over and above."

Can My Prayers Affect Your Body?

Ironson calls the finding extraordinary. She was one of the first researchers to connect a patient's approach to God to specific chemical changes in the body. ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:02:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And those patients who are indifferent to god, what is their prognosis?

Anyway, wasn't a similarly designed study of contradictory results publicized a few months ago?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MarketTrustee: And those patients who are indifferent to god, what is their prognosis?

unclear from the report.

in a 2002 paper, "The ironson-woods spirituality/religiousness index is associated with long survival, health behaviors, less distress, and low cortisol in people with HIV/AIDS", she presents an "index" which fingers "Faith in God" as just one parameter of four that make up a sort of spiritual-religious matrix based on an analysis of the beliefs and behaviors of people that go together:


The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of an instrument that measures both spirituality and religiousness, to examine the relation between spirituality and religiousness and important health outcomes for people living with HIV and to examine the potential mediators of these relations. One aim was to determine whether subscales of spirituality, religiousness, or both would be independently related to long survival in people living with AIDS. The Ironson-Woods Spirituality/Religiousness (SR) Index is presented with evidence for its reliability and validity. Four factors were identified on the Ironson-Woods SR Index (Sense of Peace, Faith in God, Religious Behavior, and Compassionate View of Others). Each subscale was significantly related to long survival with AIDS. That is, the long-term survivor (LTS) group (n = 79) scored significantly higher on these factors than did the HIV-positive comparison (COMP) group (n = 200). Long survival was also significantly related to both frequency of prayer (positively) and judgmental attitude (negatively).

In addition, the Ironson-Woods SR Index yielded strong and significant correlations with less distress, more hope, social support, health behaviors, helping others, and lower cortisol levels. The relation between religious behavior and health outcomes was not due to social support. Further analyses were conducted, which identified urinary cortisol concentrations and altruistic behavior as mediators of the relation between SR and long survival.

Are Four Separate Factors Necessary  on the Ironson-Woods SR Index? [p.44]

Two factors capture spirituality (Sense of Peace and Compassionate View of Others), and two factors capture religiousness in the more traditional sense (Faith in God and Religious Behavior). In addition, one of the religious factors is more private (Faith in God), whereas the other (Religious Behavior) is more public, and both of the other factors (Sense of Peace and Compassionate View of Others) can be viewed as more private and relevant for people high in either spirituality or religiousness. In addition to content differences, differences in relevance to spiritual or more traditionally religious orientations, and differences in private versus public orientation, the factors are also related uniquely to different outcomes. Factor 1 (Sense of Peace) is the factor most strongly related to physiologic stress (low cortisol), affective distress (perceived stress, anxiety), and hope (optimism, hopelessness). Factor 2 (Faith in God) is most strongly related to a traditional belief in God and is also related to less distress, more hope, lower cortisol (although less strongly than Factor 1 but through a more traditional religious orientation) and long survival. Factor 3 (Religious Behavior) is most strongly traditionally religious and is significantly related to long survival. Factor 4 (Compassionate View of Others), a dimension that can be regarded as relevant to being either spiritual or religious, is significantly related to long survival (and to very long survival) and is most strongly related to helping others and to telling one's partner of one's HIV status.

MarketTrustee: Anyway, wasn't a similarly designed study of contradictory results publicized a few months ago?

Don't know what study you are referring to.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 11:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:46:02 PM EST
Interview with Monty Python's Michael Palin: 'Comedy Thrives in Times of Despair' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Michael Palin says the financial crisis is a boon for comics. A veteran of Monty Python, the comedian and author talks to SPIEGEL about humor in times of crisis, why it's hard to tell al-Qaida jokes and the perils of political correctness.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Palin, are times of economic crisis good for comedians?

 Michael Palin: "There is no demand for blandness these days." Michael Palin: Absolutely! Originally my landlord intended to sharply increase the rent for my office near Covent Garden. Now I guess he's quite happy that I'm the tenant and not some investment banker.

SPIEGEL: When Monty Python started the Flying Circus in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the British economy was also in a very sorry state.

Palin: Well, that wasn't exactly our fault!

SPIEGEL: Maybe the crisis back then paved the path for Monty Python's anarchic kind of humor. And today ...

Palin: ... history repeats itself. There is no demand for blandness these days. Generally speaking, comedy thrives in times of despair.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:48:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haven't said it recently, so, Danke, Fran!

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:29:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Appreciate it and gern geschehen. :-)
by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 12:26:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Death of Civilization as we know it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:11:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Professional Hobo

So it came as a shock to me recently when I realized I am "that person".

That person.

That person - who keeps their twitter and facebook pages open all day whilst "working" on the computer. That person, who refreshes said pages every five minutes or less.

That person - who cannot have the computer on without simultaneously being online. (It's impossible. I tried.)

That person - who opens conversations at parties with updates as to how many followers I got today on Twitter, and what my friends said on FB (FB = "Facebook", for the uninitiated, if there are still any such people out there).

That person - who feels the need to apologize when checking emails on a day off. "I'll only be ten minutes. I promise," are often uttered (and rarely adhered to) words.

That person - who cringes at the thought of not turning on the computer for an entire week. (It's simply too long - I mean really.)

That person - who follows so many blogs, that by the time I've finished reading them all, I don't remember who wrote what. Besides which, I was reading so fast that I'm not sure what I really read to begin with.

That person - who has no less than seven tabs open at all times.

That person - who, instead of waiting two seconds for a page to load, clicks over to another open tab and gets distracted by, well, six other open tabs.

That person - who at the end of the day, has spent hours upon hours in front of the computer, but has actually accomplished next to nothing.

I am that person - an internet addict. How did this happen? And what do I do about it? Surely I am not alone. I know you are out there, fellow internet addicts. Let's band together to help each other through this time of crisis. Together, we can help one another realize that there is so much more to life than the internet.

Ooh! I know. Let's start a Facebook group. And maybe a group blog. Together - online- we can beat this.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:18:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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