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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 19 May

by Fran Mon May 18th, 2009 at 02:03:10 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1924 – Sandy Wilson, an English composer and lyricist, best known
for his musical, The Boy Friend, was born.

More here and video

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by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:51:27 PM EST
EUobserver / Fire breaks out in EU commission building

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A fire has broken out in the European Commission's Berlaymont building in the centre of the EU district in Brussels, prompting a total evacuation of the premises as security guards and firefighters struggled to find the source of the burning.

Onlookers and commission officials who were forced to leave the building witnessed black smoke escaping from the roof around 1.15pm before then being ushered away from the building's vicinity.

Moments earlier commission president Jose Manuel Barroso was seen leaving the building, accompanied by spokesman Johannes Laitenberger and other officials.

The building houses all 27 of the EU commissioners as well as the spokes-service and several hundred officials although Mr Laitenberger said it was impossible to say exactly how many had been in the building at the time of the outbreak.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:54:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Centralised states bad for economy, study shows

EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - European countries where regions have more powers and responsibilities in terms of taxation, legislation and education policies tend to do better economically than centralised ones, a Swiss study shows.

"Centralism hammers development of countries at the cost of its citizens," Klaus Klipp, secretary general of the Assembly of European Regions, an umbrella network of regions from 33 European countries, said on Monday at the launch of the study, which was commissioned by his organisation.

Centralised states are set to have bigger troubles with the economic crisis

The study, developed by the Swiss-based BAK research centre, measures the impact of decentralisation on the economy, as well as the quality of education and innovation in 26 European countries, including non-EU members Switzerland, Norway and Croatia and excluding Luxembourg, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta - because of their small size.

The country ranking as most centralised was EU newcomer Bulgaria, followed by the Baltic states, Greece, Croatia, Norway, Ireland, Denmark and France.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:55:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do they define "do better economically" these days??

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This has nothing to do with "government bad, freedom good" but with finding data supporting political decentralisation/devolution.

You Jacobin... :-P

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hear what you say, and will readily admit that it can be an innocuous interpretation of this, but color me skeptical, in our current environment, that this is the case.

Btw, how do you measure decentralisation? Germany is generally considered more decentralised than France, but when you look at education, to take one exemple, French regions actually have a lot more money under their direct control, and a lot more leeway on how they can spend it

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:38:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Next paragraph
At the other end of the scale, Switzerland - famous for deciding almost everything by referendum - ranked first, followed by Germany, Belgium, Spain, Austria and Italy.
So Italy is one of the least centralized, and is doing well?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be the ranking for centralisation, not a statement that they are doing well.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:55:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU commissioner elected president in Lithuania

EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite has won the presidential elections in Lithuania with an overwhelming majority, becoming the first female head of state as the country struggles through its worst economic recession since the early 1990s.

"The taste of victory carries with it the weight of responsibility," Ms Grybauskaite told reporters on Sunday night at her election headquarters in Vilnius.

Dalia Grybauskaite

Ms Grybauskaite, who stood as an independent, won over 69 percent of the vote, while her nearest challenger came in second with only 12 percent, according to official results announced on Monday.

Her EU-background and straightforward talk seemed to convince voters, with over 51 percent of them going to the ballot box.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkish citizens take to streets in government protests | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 17.05.2009
Tens of thousands of people rallied in the Turkish capital Ankara on Sunday to support the country's secular system, which they see threatened by the Islam-based government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Chants such as "Turkey is secular and will remain secular" could be heard from the marchers who gathered in a city center square under the watch of thousands of police officers.

Sunday's protests were organized by the Kemalist Thought Association (KTA), an organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

The marchers were waving red and white Turkish flags and were headed for the mausoleum of Ataturk, the traditional rallying point of those in favor of secular rule.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Hundreds of thousands of workers march across EU to protest crisis response

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets of European capitals over the weekend as the economic crisis squeezes wages and jobs across the continent in a series of official actions led by European trade union leaders.

Some 350,000 people marched through the streets of Berlin, Brussels, Madrid and Prague, with smaller demonstrations elsewhere, including Birmingham and Bucharest, according to figures from the European Trade Union Confederation.

Workers rally in Madrid against governments' response to the crisis

The workers were taking part in the ETUC's 'Action Days' from Thursday through Saturday (14-16 May), the European trade union central's response to the growing crisis intended to call for more ambitious action by Brussels and EU member state governments "to help the growing armies of unemployed."

They also marched against "financial capitalism" itself, saying it should "never again" be allowed to wreck the world economy.

The size of these Euro-demonstrations reveals the widespread concerns for the future. "The world of financial capitalism seems to assume that after a few 'green shoots' of recovery, it will be soon business as usual for them despite their recent heart attack," said the ETUC's general secretary, John Monks.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:00:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Support for EU treaty grows in Ireland

Support for the EU's Lisbon Treaty among Irish citizens has grown in the past three months, with 52 percent saying they would vote "yes" if a second referendum was held on the issue, a poll conducted for the Irish Times shows.

The TNS mrbi poll, published Monday (18 May), indicates that the majority in favour of the treaty, rejected in a referendum in the country one year ago, has consolidated despite the growing unpopularity of the government.

Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty by 53.4 percent against to 46.6 in favour last year

The survey represents an increase of one percentage point of those in favour of the treaty compared to a similar poll in February and a drop of four points to 29 percent for those planning to vote No. There was a rise of three points - to 19 percent - of don't knows.

The survey also showed that Irish people overwhelmingly consider the country better off inside the European Union during the current economic crisis (79%), a drop of one point on the February poll.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:01:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fears of Angering China: German Foreign Minister Opposes Taking Uighur Guantanamo Inmates - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The US wants Germany to take a group of nine Guantanamo inmates of Uighur origin. But now German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is getting cold feet -- he's worried that taking the Uighurs could cause a spat with China.

The fate of a group of Guantanamo inmates of Uighur origin is threatening to drive a wedge between the US and Germany. The US has asked Germany to take in nine ethnic Uighur detainees. But now German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, although he supports taking Guantanamo prisoners, is trying to keep the number of Uighurs as low as possible, SPIEGEL has learned.

 Guantanamo Bay detention camp: Germany is getting cold feet about taking nine Uighur inmates. At the end of April, senior US diplomat Daniel Fried, who is responsible for trying to resettle prisoners from the soon-to-be-closed Guantanamo Bay camp, gave the Germans a list of nine inmates that the US wants Germany to take. The prisoners belong to China's Uighur minority, a mainly Muslim group which has been the subject of brutal repression by the Chinese authorities.

However Steinmeier is concerned that taking the men would cause a diplomatic spat with China, which considers the men to be terrorists and has demanded their extradition. Steinmeier's staff has been following the American initiative with trepidation, particularly because Fried already served as a secretary of state during the Bush administration.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US has asked Germany to take the Uighurs, considered by US officials to pose little risk, partly because Germany is home to one of the largest Uighur enclaves outside Asia. Around 500 Uighurs live in Munich.

Okay, but if Germany doesn't want to take them, then the U.S. should keep these and ask Germany to take nine other non-Uighur prisoners instead.

An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern. -- Tony Benn in Sicko

by marco on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why? I mean why should Germany take 9 others?
by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:21:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say it should.  I said the U.S. should ask Germany to take nine others.  Of course, it is up to Germany whether or not to grant such a request.

An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern. -- Tony Benn in Sicko
by marco on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:33:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should any country take any of them ? The US broke 'em, the US bought 'em.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US broke 'em, the US bought 'em

Yes, said in classic British "We didn't do nothin', 'twas the Yanks that done it all" fashion.

Well, I didn't break shit, so I ain't bought shit.

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

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 06:52:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, the U.S. broke 'em and bought 'em, but now maybe it's time to glue them back together. Doesn't it seem reasonable to find a culturally related population to try to merge them with? Or they could be placed, where, Phoenix?

Seems to me that this is a pretty reasonable approach to a completely clustered up situation.

by asdf on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 11:13:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And how is Germany culturally related to the Uighurs? If they are fit to live in Germany they are also fit to live in the US. Besides they probably have learned a little English in the meantime - sending them to Germany means they have to start all over language wise.

As I see it, the US wants to move forward and not look back, so they have to get rid of the Gitmo prisoners as not to be reminded of the past.

Sorry, I just can not believe it is about the well-being of the prisoners.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 11:48:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany (specifically Munich) may make some sense
Of all of the remaining Guantanamo prisoners, the Uighurs are the group "with the least risks", argue high ranking US Officials. And there is also a high possibility of successful integration into the German community, mainly because of a large Uighur community in Munich. There are around 500 Uighurs living in the Bavarian state capital, making it one of the largest such exile communities in the world. They have their own fast food outlets and supermarkets, not to mention a common language and culture. One of the former prisoners, Noori, even has a cousin there, who's been living in Munich for the past nine years.
Of course, the U.S. is using this as a convenient excuse, but they may have done some research, rather than picking Germany at random.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 10:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any idea of what the largest local population of Uighurs is in the USA and where?  Or send them to California.  There are lots of Afgani and Tibetians there.  At least they would be among former neighbor communities.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 11:50:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AP (via TPM)
The Belgian bodybuilding championship has been canceled after doping officials showed up and all the competitors fled.

A doping official says bodybuilders just grabbed their gear and ran off when he came into the room.

"I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see anything like it again," doping official Hans Cooman said Monday.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 04:39:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
L'Onda anomala has organized a large demonstration today in Turin to protest against the so-called G-8 of world universities. The demonstration is now heading towards the summit at Valentino Castle.

Despite the peaceful assembly yesterday, the police charged demonstrators reportedly without reason, lightly wounding two and breaking the arm of a co-ordinator of the student protest, affiliated with Rifondazione communista.

Incidents are feared to occur today despite the vigilant non-violence of the student movement.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 07:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The protests were obviously not "non-violent", is the police charged ;)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:17:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not today, no. Yesterday it was alleged that a group of police attacked without motive. This occured while some students were actually discussing with police officials nearby.

The demonstrations by l'onda I've seen in Rome have always been non-violent characterized by pragmatic discussions with police authorities.

As noted all too often violence is exactly what certain quarters want.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 11:36:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The court motivations for the trial that found David Mills guilty of taking a bribe to protect Berlusconi and his Fininvest have been deposited this morning.

In the 400 pages motivating the sentence, the court declared that Mills had lied to the court so as to allow Berlusconi and the Fininvest impunity from charges, or at the least to keep the large profits they had reaped.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 07:13:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The motivations of the guilty sentence have just been put on line.

According to Italian law the motivations explaining the sentence must written and made public within a certain time lapse, penalty the sentence being null.

The government has reportedly issued a statement that Berlusconi will refer in parliament (to confirm: not yet on line).

In effect, the sentence is a condemnation for him and his company, Fininvest. Berlusconi had passed a law the Lodo Alfano that granted him ample immunity from charges while prime minister.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 07:45:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if you can get away with it, you're innocent, and thus worthy, and deserving of what you swindled.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All the more so if you control the press, the parliament and the executive.

It however does not change raw facts. Regardless the power accumulated water still boils at 100° C under normal conditions at sea level. Not much you can do about it. You can package it as a communist judiciary conspiracy driven by hate and envy but it still boils.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 11:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, has just resigned. He'll be leaving on June 21st and presumably vacating his seat in Glasgow - triggering a bye-election.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:41:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:51:55 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Europe | In search of Europe: Sweden

Sweden's Ikea has useful lessons for EU politicians in managing diversity, the BBC's Jonny Dymond reports, as he tours the continent ahead of next month's European elections.

Sweden is such a delightful place, it seems desperately unfair to focus on just one of its many gifts to the world.

But the question must be asked: has Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings-to-meatballs retail behemoth, done more to unify Europe than the European Parliament?

Perhaps that's the wrong way to phrase the question. Perhaps it should be: how does Ikea manage to unify Europeans around its brand and its products, where the parliament so often fails to do so?

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:59:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU election countdown: 18 days to go

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The British parliament expenses scandal could see far-right parties do better than previously expected in the EU elections, polls indicate. Meanwhile, German socialists are keen to block Barroso from a second term at the commission helm.

Smaller parties and the right-wing fringe of UK politics are so far emerging from the ongoing expenses scandal as the least-tarnished, with galloping implications for the make-up of the next European Parliament, British media report.

British PM Gordon Brown - the expenses row could cost his party dear in the EU election

A YouGov poll for tabloid The Sun put the ruling Labour party at 20 percent, the Conservatives at 29 and the centrist Liberal Democrats at 19, leaving a full 30 percent of votes free. A Mail on Sunday survey put Labour on par with the eurosceptic UKIP, with both on 17 percent. A Telegraph survey suggests the far-right BNP could get 7 percent.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:04:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog

In the pretty central square of Plzen (Pilsen), the Czech town famous for its lager, the Civic Democrats are doing their best to pull in a crowd.

As the politicians wait under vast blue umbrellas, party workers hand out blue and white balloons and blue candy floss to the crowd. The kids are captivated and the occasional mum or dad is persuaded to take a leaflet on the European elections.

This party, known here by its initials ODS, until very recently was the Czech government. And they're Mr Cameron's new best chums.

After the Euro elections in the first week of June he wants to form a new group in the European Parliament, breaking away from the Christian Democrat, pro-European integration, European People's Party. He'll need MEPs from six other countries to do it. The Civic Democrats and the Polish Law and Justice party will be the mainstay.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Czech town famous for its lager

Grr, I know he's writing for ignorant englanders but.. Pilsen is rather more famous for inventing modern beer. Lager is a british adulteration of the pilsener style.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
TH!NK ABOUT IT - european blogging competition 2009 » Blog Archive » Margot Wallström Guest blog post

Thanks for asking me to be a guest.  I find the discussions here interesting and the project itself very worthwhile.  Hopefully you do too!  It's the first time the Commission has supported this sort of a competition. 

With just three weeks left until the European Parliament elections I am pleased to see that things are beginning to pick up around the EU. The media are finally getting around to covering the elections, interviewing candidates and analysing the key issues.  I have done a lot of interviews and presentations, but I think now the public would be better off if media gave their precious airtime and column space to people who are actually running for election rather than someone from the Commission who is not. Hopefully the doomsday predictions of low turnout will be put to shame!  . 

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a shout for Europe event at the Grand Place in Brussels. This was part of the MTV initiative Can you hear me Europe which aims to urge especially young Europeans to vote.  Again, this is a first for the Commission and I'm curious to see how it will work out.  This year, there are 36 million first-time-voters in Europe, and the only way to reach out to them is by adapting to the communication tools that they actually use, whether it's MTV, blogs or Facebook rather than the Financial Times (though we might catch some of them there, too).  An estimated 37 million people have seen the TV clips so far which I think represents good value for the relatively small amount of money invested in the project.  I'm interested in what you bloggers think of it and also of the European Parliament TV ads which are now available on Youtube.  My favourite clip currently however is this one made for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the iron curtain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X87zcC6bntY

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First time voters watching MTV?

She's so with it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grahnlaw: Europeanisation of European elections?
With 109 blog posts to date in his series on the European Parliament elections 2009, Julien Frisch has done more than several professional organisations combined to inspire a pan-European debate on the upcoming greatest transnational poll ever, with 375 million potential voters.

Frisch's latest post in the series, European Parliament elections 2009 (109): Looking back at 1999 and 2004, concluded that the core messages from 1999, 2004 and 2009 would not change much from the initial assessment:

"The campaign was focused on national topics, the candidates where not known, and the only true European references in the electoral manifestos where similar across all major parties: More democracy, more transparency, better connection to the citizens."

According to Frisch, the only differences in 2009 "will be two additional countries, Libertas, and the emergence of large-scale internet campaigning. Maybe a glimpse at the institutional EP campaign, too. But the conclusions will be very close to those we got in the past."
by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:52:22 PM EST
Branson plans launch of Virgin internet bank | Business | The Observer

Richard Branson is to launch an internet bank in a move designed to exploit public disgust with Britain's big banks in the wake of the credit crunch.

Branson follows Tesco, which is also planning to capitalise on disenchantment with traditional banking via a big push into financial services.

The entrepreneur will act through his Virgin Money subsidiary, which is headed by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, a former boss of RBS's mortgage division and marketing director of Norwich Union.

Virgin Money is understood to be poised to apply for a banking licence from the Financial Services Authority to allow it to take deposits and offer mortgages for the first time. Branson is talking to US investment banks and other investors about financial backing.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:56:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Follow Tesco?! puhleeeze ... hand me a frickING EGGGGG for I-N-N-O-V-A-T-I-O-N.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 07:49:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | The women who want to save banking

Can women bankers and investment managers get us out of the economic mess that their male colleagues got us into? Will it take women to ensure the future health of the financial sector?

Halla Tomasdottir and Kristin Petursdottir are convinced the answer is yes.

Halla (L) and Kristin (R) want to use their feminine values in their business

They set up their investment firm Audur Capital in Iceland to prove it. So should the boardrooms be filled with women now?

"But not women alone," says Halla, the Audur chairman. "A world of only women would be just as imbalanced. We need a balance between men and women to make healthier decisions."

Halla and Kristin set up Audur Capital in 2007, with Kristin as CEO. As they explained to Peter Day for this week's Global Business on the BBC World Service, for them, running a successful company "is all about using our own values". The reason the male-female balance matters, is that women, they argue, bring different values to the table.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:01:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Halla (L) and Kristin (R) want to use their feminine values in their business

Bah, essentialist crap. Let me guess, women are better bankers cos they nurture and care for their borrowers. Pass the sick bag Alice.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not? Seems about as reasonable as claiming that big bonuses and perks make better male bankers...

$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:06:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it's stupid, superficial and counterproductive.

How about community organisers? Unemployed people? Heterodox academics? Teachers?

This gender nonsense has nothing to do with anything in this situation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it's stupid, superficial and counterproductive.
What I consider stupid, superficial and counterproductive is to entertain the notion of leaving the current bunch of economists and banking "experts" in charge for lack of an alternative.

There needs to be a cultural break with the past. A good way to do this is to shake things up by putting a new bunch of borderline incompetents in charge of key positions. So yes, why not bring some teachers and community people as managers into the banks. They can learn on the job, have completely different ideas, and if they fuck up in a few years, we'll just bail them out like we did the current lot. But the current lot must be neutralized, and a stern talking to doesn't do it.

$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:23:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The women changing the financial world... What about Japanese housewives push again?
by das monde on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 07:21:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dutch economy not doing too badly - yet - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English

It was cold comfort for the public: just before the Dutch statistics office (CBS) announced that the economy had shrunk by 4.5 percent - the biggest contraction since the Second World War - Germany announced its economy had slipped 6.7 percent. The saying, `when Germany sneezes, the Netherlands catches a cold', seems not to hold true in a recession.

Food and drink
Just like Germany, the Netherlands is highly dependent on its exports, but Germany is still doing less well than its neighbour on this score. Michiel Vergeer, a macroeconomist at the CBS (pictured right), explains why:

"The Netherlands is typically an exporter of agricultural products. And people the world over continue to eat and to drink. The reduction in agricultural exports is far less than in the machine and car sectors, which are central to German exports. People can't get rid of those products for love or money."

Despite Dutch exports having dropped by 11.8 percent, Mr Vergeer sees a ray of hope. They are not dropping now as quickly as they were a short time ago. However, he does not think we should be optimistic just yet. There are yet more CBS figures which do not excite much confidence.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:02:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich - WSJ.com

... Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses. <...>

Finally, there is the issue of whether high-income people move away from states that have high income-tax rates. Examining IRS tax return data by state, E.J. McMahon, a fiscal expert at the Manhattan Institute, measured the impact of large income-tax rate increases on the rich ($200,000 income or more) in Connecticut, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 5% from 4.5%; in New Jersey, which raised its rate in 2004 to 8.97% from 6.35%; and in New York, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 7.7% from 6.85%. Over the period 2002-2005, in each of these states the "soak the rich" tax hike was followed by a significant reduction in the number of rich people paying taxes in these states relative to the national average. Amazingly, these three states ranked 46th, 49th and 50th among all states in the percentage increase in wealthy tax filers in the years after they tried to soak the rich.

This result was all the more remarkable given that these were years when the stock market boomed and Wall Street gains were in the trillions of dollars. Examining data from a 2008 Princeton study on the New Jersey tax hike on the wealthy, we found that there were 4,000 missing half-millionaires in New Jersey after that tax took effect. New Jersey now has one of the largest budget deficits in the nation. <...>

... One last point: States aren't simply competing with each other. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently told us, "Our state is competing with Germany, France, Japan and China for business. We'd better have a pro-growth tax system or those American jobs will be out-sourced." Gov. Perry and Texas have the jobs and prosperity model exactly right. Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined. And Texas is the only state other than Georgia and North Dakota that is cutting taxes this year.

An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern. -- Tony Benn in Sicko
by marco on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas.

That's 400,000 per year, moving from States with a combined population close to 80 million (or less than 1% per year). Oh, significant!

Amazingly, these three states ranked 46th, 49th and 50th among all states in the percentage increase in wealthy tax filers in the years after they tried to soak the rich.

Low percentage increases? Could that be because they already have LOTS of rich people there? Wow!

As Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently told us, "Our state is competing with Germany, France, Japan and China for business.

Competing with France?! Since when? Is that a fearless model to aspire to or something?


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The increase of housing prices in Manhattan over that period suggests that some of those moves may have been on paper only. Maybe the NY authorities should also examine that data.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:26:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is shocking!!!


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 09:04:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A true to form "see no evil" inspector general.  He should have asked her what her vision was in each eye and if she customarily looked at any subject with both eyes.  At least Lawson has put her and Bernanke on notice.

But honestly!  How is an inspector general supposed to audit money being dropped out of helicopters?

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 12:14:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But honestly!  How is an inspector general supposed to audit money being dropped out of helicopters?  

It was not real money...It was all done by click on the computer. Isn't that much easier then?
They either do not have a clue what they are doing or they are even more rotten then Bush & Co (if it's possible to be...)

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:30:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Caps? What caps? | Bloomberg (Update 2)^n| 18 May 2009

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ruled out setting specific limits for compensation as the Obama administration considers proposals to better align executives' pay with companies' long-term performance.

"I don't think our government should set caps on compensation," he said in answering questions at an event at the National Press Club today in Washington. "What I think we need to do is make sure we put in place some broad constraints on the incentives compensation systems create."

Geithner's remarks indicate the administration's proposals may focus more on principles than on specific prescriptions for how financial companies compensate their executives.

See, EESA provisions are in principle just suggestions.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 09:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What drives me nuts is that it's always "executive" compensation they're worried about. What about the generic white-collar workers who get paid a couple of million a year?
by asdf on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 11:14:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about 'em? They're the middle-class that counts, The Professionals. And some day one of them will be shopping his or her 527 in a district near you!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:10:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"You don't understand executive compensation" is one of the biggest ideological cop-outs of our day, and the whole concept is just a bogus justification for graft.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 02:04:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deal for World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Finalized -- Seeking Alpha
A $3 billion deal has been finalized for the London Array wind farm to be built on a 90-square-mile area that will be 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex. The world's largest offshore wind farm, the London Array will begin construction this summer after the British government doubled the incentives for offshore wind energy, says the project's main owner, Denmark's DONG Energy.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 04:19:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't comment openly here, as I'm working indirectly on this one too.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:21:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:52:41 PM EST
France 24 | Security tight for Suu Kyi's trial | France 24
The trial of Burma's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi opened Monday amid tight security at an infamous jail in the country's main city. Suu Kyi is charged with violating her house arrest, charges dismissed by the international community.

AFP - Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi went on trial at a notorious prison on Monday, charged with violating her house arrest by sheltering an American man who swam to her lakeside home.

Riot police tightly sealed off Insein prison near Yangon for the hearing, setting up barbed wire barricades and blocking all roads to prevent possible protests in support of the ailing Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The 63-year-old faces up to five years in jail and could be barred from standing in elections promised by the ruling junta next year if convicted on the charges, prompting a wave of outage around the world.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The bitter end: Tamils lay down arms - Asia, World - The Independent
After 26 years, Sri Lanka claims it has defeated the feared Tamil Tigers, but the tide of refugees driven into internment leaves legacy of hate

It had been talked about for months, its slow inevitability played out against the most savage of backdrops. Last night, on the blood-soaked sand on the north-eastern coast of Sri Lanka, it appeared to have finally happened.

Twenty-six years after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - once the most feared terrorists in the world - launched a brutal war for a separate Tamil homeland, they admitted defeat. Having reportedly launched waves of suicide attacks in an effort to repel a final assault by government troops, the once mighty rebels laid down their arms. The government was examining one of several bodies recovered from the battlefield, tentatively said to be that of the rebels' leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, who apparently committed suicide with several of his senior commanders as they were surrounded by government troops.

"This battle has reached its bitter end," a senior rebel spokesman, Selvarajah Pathmanathan, said on the pro-Tiger website TamilNet. "It is our people who are dying now from bombs, shells, illness and hunger. We cannot permit any more harm to befall them. We remain with one last choice - to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns." Denying Prabhakaran's demise later, Pathmanathan insisted that the group's leader was behind the decision to end the war.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fighting piracy requires better international cooperation | World | Deutsche Welle | 18.05.2009
As an international conference aimed at fighting Somali piracy gets underway, concern remains that international efforts are too disjointed to be effective. 

The results look bleak. Pirate attacks nearly doubled to 102 in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, the International Maritime Bureau recently reported. Most of the attacks occurred in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia, precisely in the area where the international community has sent more than a dozen warships to deter and prevent piracy.

It's impossible to know how many attacks would have taken place without the presence of navy ships from around the world in the region, experts believe international cooperation needs to be improved to make the fight against piracy more effective.

Improving coordination is the aim of a conference in Kuala Lumpur which gets underway Monday and which brings together top maritime experts, diplomats and security officials.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NYT Is Rapidly Adding Nuclear Propaganda - Moon of Alabama

Has David E. Sanger replaced Judith Miller as the chief scaremonger at the New York Times?  We are not sure but he is one of the chief writers in the NYT's propaganda campaign for war on Pakistan.

Sanger's front page headline today is Pakistan Is Rapidly Adding Nuclear Arms, U.S. Says.

Now aside from the irrelevance of the issue - there is no strategic difference between a Pakistan with 80 nukes and a Pakistan with 100 nukes - there is simply no fact in Sanger's piece that justifies the headline and the thrust of the story.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. stirs a hornet's nest in Pakistan | Eric Margolis | Columnists | Comment | Winnipeg Sun

PARIS -- Pakistan finally bowed to Washington's angry demands last week by unleashing its military against rebellious Pashtun tribesmen of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) -- collectively mislabelled "Taliban" in the West.

The Obama administration had threatened to stop $2 billion US annual cash payments to bankrupt Pakistan's political and military leadership and block $6.5 billion future aid, unless Islamabad sent its soldiers into Pakistan's turbulent NWFP along the Afghan frontier.

The result was a bloodbath: Some 1,000 "terrorists" killed (read: mostly civilians) and 1.2 million people -- most of Swat's population -- made refugees.

Pakistan's U.S.-rented armed forces have scored a brilliant victory against their own people. Too bad they don't do as well in wars against India. Blasting civilians, however, is much safer and more profitable.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting article in National Geographic this month about how the Christians in the Middle East are suffering because of the misplaced Crusade we're in right now.


by asdf on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 11:17:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Following the Chavez example, Netanyahu is also bringing Obama something to read. Ha'aretz reports:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with a copy of "Pleasure Excursion to the Holy Land," from Mark Twain's book "The Innocents Abroad," when they meet in Washington today. Netanyahu received the book, along with a newly published version in Hebrew (translated by Oded Peled), from the Kinneret Zmora-Bitan publishing house.

In his travel memoir, Twain describes a 1867 trip to the Land of Israel, which he finds a backward and desolate place devoid of culture or law. "Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village," he states, calling it a country where prosperity had died out, a place of lost splendor and beauty where joy has turned to sorrow, and where silence and death prevail in its holy places.

The implication being, clearly, that Jerusalem would still be like that if it wasn't for Israel. I don't like to think about what the author of "Letters from the Earth" would have had to say about today's Jerusalem...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 04:43:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swine flu forces closure of 4,000 schools in Japan
The number of swine flu cases in Japan has jumped to more than 160, forcing the government to close 4,000 schools in an attempt to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

As World Health Organisation officials met in Geneva to discuss how to tackle the outbreak, the Japanese government confirmed the number of confirmed cases had hit 163.

The urban areas of Kobe and Osaka were at the centre of the outbreaks in Japan, a country particularly vulnerable to the virus due to its status as a densely populated island nation with a large elderly community.

by das monde on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 05:34:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:53:10 PM EST
Blue whales return for the first time in 40 years - Nature, Environment - The Independent
Decades after a ban on hunting the world's largest animals, the creatures have made their way back to waters off Alaska and Canada

Blue whales - thought to be the largest animals ever to have inhabited the Earth - have returned to the seas off Canada and Alaska for the first time since hunting them ceased more than four decades ago. New research suggests that they appear to have rediscovered an old migration route that they abandoned at the height of the slaughter.

The research, by US and government scientists and a private research institute focussing on marine mammals, comes as whales face their greatest ever danger in over 20 years, as key governments threaten to breach the international moratorium on commercial whaling.

It has so far spotted 15 of the blue whales, which can weigh up to 200 tons, in the Gulf of Alaska and off British Columbia, and identified four of them as having been previously seen off southern California. Long ago, before commercial whaling began, they used to migrate between the two areas, heading north in summer in search of food - they can each consume four tons of tiny crustacean krill a day. But they were hunted close to extinction, with their numbers reduced from some 200,000 world wide to between 5,000 and 12,000.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ten years or so past I saw a pod of blue whales from an airliner window in the Pacific off San Francisco.  They looked big from several thousand feet.  It was a clear day.  Blue whales just beneath a blue green ocean with a light blue sky above.  Quite a sight.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 12:32:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Got any rubbish? Price of recyclable waste recovers - Green Living, Environment - The Independent
Last year, you couldn't give away old paper and bottles. But now the salvage industry is back in business and starting a new boom

As an investment tip it is unlikely to inspire a rush: put your money in rubbish. Nevertheless, new figures reveal that the price of recyclable waste has doubled in the past six months.

The news will provide a boost to Britain's flagging recycling movement, and go some way towards reversing the gloom over mountains of glass bottles and newspapers piling up across Britain after the drop last year in the value of recyclables.

It will also be a welcome change for UK waste collection companies and councils, hit hard by a drop in demand last autumn for paper, bottles and cans from countries such as China and India. There had been calls for warehouses and disused airfields to be made available for storing rubbish that could not be sold.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Indie:
put your money in rubbish.

Everyone already has.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 04:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose it's entirely fitting that I have to go to the Tehran Times for news of when US windpower goes against the idiot congress compromisers

GE says lower renewable standards blunt investment

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co., Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA and other wind-turbine manufacturers say targets set by Congress for renewable power are too low and will reduce such investments in the U.S.

"Significantly lower renewable targets" unveiled this week as part of a House climate-change bill "will severely blunt the signal" for billions of dollars in investment to expand production in the U.S., the executives said in a letter to Congress.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said that a compromise reached on his legislation would reduce the amount of renewable power utilities have to buy.

Change we can believe in, end frickin snark.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:46:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cost of Cigarette Litter May Fall on San Francisco's Smokers - NYTimes.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- In what he casts as an attack on litterbugs and nicotine addiction alike, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to impose a fee on an age-old inhabitant of city streets: the cigarette butt.>

The proposal, to be introduced next month to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would add 33 cents to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, to offset the estimated $10.7 million the city spends annually removing discarded butts from gutters, drainpipes and sidewalks.

The added cost, Mr. Newsom hopes, will also dampen smokers' urge to light up.

"In general, fees help reduce the consumption and use of tobacco," he said in an interview. "And we think that will have a very beneficial public health component."

Officials here say the municipal fee would be the first in the country to take aim specifically at cigarette butts, particularly filters, which are not biodegradable. But the idea is expected to run into [attention: no shit Sherlock alert!] fierce opposition from tobacco companies.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:07:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:53:34 PM EST
'Kryptos' and Dan Brown: Inside the CIA's code of secrecy - Americas, World - The Independent
Artist Jim Sanborn thought his 'Kryptos' cypher at the CIA headquarters would be broken within weeks. But two decades later, it still guards its text. David Usborne reports on a mystery that has frustrated the world's best crypto-geeks

For 19 years it has sat beyond the public's gaze in an inner courtyard on the campus of the Central Intelligence Agency, a not uninteresting sculpture with 865, apparently randomly selected letters perforating a solid scroll of copper. But Kryptos is not merely a sculpture, and artist Jim Sanborn chose its constituent letters in a far from random fashion. They make up a code so complex that even the CIA's most esteemed cryptologists can't crack it.

Everyone at the CIA has known this for years. But when a novel called The Da Vinci Code appeared, a whole new crowd of crypto-geeks started paying attention. Today, the puzzle is the object of almost obsessive interest to thousands of amateur code-crackers worldwide. And the object of their obsession begins as follows: 'EMUFPHZLRFAXYUSDJKZLDKRNSHGNFIVJ'. Pardon?

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:58:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Opera-Singing Bird Disappears: Theft of Abusive German Parrot Saddens Munich - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A parrot who sings opera songs and once famously called the mayor of Munich an asshole has been stolen. The disappearance of Koko has upset the entire neighborhood which had grown fond of the hot-tempered feathered diva.

Koko, a 36-year-old female parrot who sings operatic arias and once famously hurled abuse at the mayor of Munich, has been stolen, much to the dismay of residents in the city's central Schwabing district.

A yellow-naped Amazon parrot that looks like Koko. Koko's owner, Nathalia Ruth, has appealed for witnesses and offered a €500 ($673) reward for her return. "We have no new leads. Koko is well known in Schwabing and the whole district is really upset about this," she told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Koko, a green Yellow-naped Amazon, is popular with neighbors because she sings a broad array of arias she learned from her former owner, an opera singer. She evidently also has the temper of a true diva, muttering "Where's my ball-point pen?" in between songs and occasionally descending into the profane.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:07:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:00:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, gk! Really funny bird! :-)
by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 03:06:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

,,Arschloch"-Papagei in Waschanlage gefunden
Deutschlands frechster Papagei ist wieder zu Hause!

Gelbnacken-Amazone ,,Koko" (33), die Münchens Oberbürgermeister einmal ,,Arschloch" hinterhergekrächzt hatte, wurde vor wenigen Tagen entführt. Jetzt tauchte der Vogel in einer Waschanlage wieder auf.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 07:17:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe there is hope for the future - hope there are more kids like this one:

Daily Kos: I'm Running For President

Hello everybody,

I would like you all to know that I am announcing my candidacy for president -- you can consider this the official start of my campaign. I am currently 16 years old and a junior in high school, so -- as you can tell -- I still have some time before I have to start worrying about Iowa.

I will be a pragmatic, issues-oriented candidate. Now, obviously, I cannot be sure exactly what the salient issues of the day will be by the time I start the primary process; however, I can tell you what issues I plan to address most aggressively: education, infrastructure, and voting rights.  

by Fran on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 12:20:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stone Age Superglue Found -- Hints at Unknown Smarts?

Stone Age humans were adept chemists who whipped up a sophisticated kind of natural glue, a new study says.

They knowingly tweaked the chemical and physical properties of an iron-containing pigment known as red ochre with the gum of acacia trees to create adhesives for their shafted tools.

Archaeologists had believed the blood-red pigment--used by people in what is now South Africa about 70,000 years ago--served a decorative or symbolic purpose.

But the scientists had also suspected that the pigment may have been purposely added to improve glue that held the peoples' tools together.


But making the glue wasn't easy for the ancient Africans.

It was mentally taxing work that would have required humans to account for differences in the chemistry of gum harvested from different trees and in the iron content of ochre from different sites.

"They couldn't possibly have known about chemical pH or iron content ... but they knew that certain combinations of things worked very well," Wadley said.

The finding also suggests the intelligence of Stone Age humans was more akin to that of modern humans than previously thought, she added.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:13:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pantry clear out: Throw out your processed food and don't buy any more, because Big Food won't guarantee it's safe to eat | Corrente
ntry clear out: Throw out your processed food and don't buy any more, because Big Food won't guarantee it's safe to eat Sat, 05/16/2009 - 11:01am -- lambert

And then sell your microwave [or at least don't use it to nuke processed food].


Increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients. In this case, ConAgra could not pinpoint which of the more than 25 ingredients in its pies was carrying salmonella. Other companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers, interviews and documents show.

Yet the supply chain for ingredients in processed foods -- from flavorings to flour to fruits and vegetables -- is becoming more complex and global as the drive to keep food costs down intensifies. As a result, almost every element, not just red meat and poultry, is now a potential carrier of pathogens, government and industry officials concede.


The frozen pot pies that sickened an estimated 15,000 people with salmonella in 2007 left federal inspectors mystified. At first they suspected the turkey. Then they considered the peas, carrots and potatoes.

The pie maker, ConAgra Foods, began spot-checking the vegetables for pathogens, but could not find the culprit. It also tried cooking the vegetables at high temperatures, a strategy the industry calls a "kill step," to wipe out any lingering microbes. But the vegetables turned to mush in the process.

So ConAgra -- which sold more than 100 million pot pies last year under its popular Banquet label -- decided to make the consumer responsible for the kill step. The "food safety" instructions and four-step diagram on the 69-cent pies offer this guidance: "Internal temperature needs to reach 165° F as measured by a food thermometer in several spots."

'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 Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nutrition/Metabolism class I'm tutoring.  Potatoes processed at high heat (chips. French Fries) have high level of acrylamide, a known cancer causer. I'm told there's a current lawsuit against the chip industry because of the high acrylamide levels.

Time to go back to the basic foods of the past.  Or enjoy your cancers.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:02:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not completely new. It has been listed as a hazardous material in industrial use for a long time, but was recently discovered (in Sweden) to be present in many types of foods. Unfortunately for pretty much any political use of this, it seems to be present not just in chips, but in many other cooked foods, including fried and roasted (but not boiled) meat, and bread.

I don't think it's known yet whether it is dangerous to eat - if it is, it could explain existing cancer levels, but does not represent a new danger.   After the Swedish discovery, various research projects were started to test whether it really is a danger when eaten, but I'm not sure if there are any results yet.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 09:10:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What my student told me was that there's an upper limit allowed for acrylamide by the FDA and the chips exceed it; that's the basis for the suit.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 11:19:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should treat students like bloggers: ask for a link...

I looked at the FDA site, and all I found was this (updated May 22, 2008)

Is there a risk from eating foods that contain acrylamide?

Acrylamide caused cancer in animals in studies where animals were exposed to acrylamide at very high doses. Acrylamide causes nerve damage in people exposed to very high levels at work. FDA has not yet determined the exact public health impact, if any, of acrylamide from the much lower levels found in foods. FDA is conducting research studies to determine whether acrylamide in food is a potential risk to human health.

Doesn't sound that they've fixed any limits.

The FDA have published some figures of the acrylamide content of certain foods, that show huge variations for the same type of food (different locations of McDonald's have fries with among the lowest and among the highest amounts) - have fun studying it, but risking malnutrition to avoid something that could possibly cause cancer  may not be a good idea. But don't smoke - cigarette smoke contains acrylamide (what carcinogens does it not contain?).

Oh, and avoid Postum Original Caffeine Free Instant Hot Beverage (powdered, not brewed), whatever that is. It looks deadly....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank You.  This is finals week at Sac State so I may or may not see my student again.  I'll inquire further if I get the chance.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A Japanese engineer has set the world record for the longest flight for a paper airplane, keeping his design aloft for 27.9 seconds.
by das monde on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Better than Intel: Fujitsu develops world's fastest processor
Bad news for Intel for two days in a row. Fujitsu yesterday took the wraps off a new CPU made for supercomputers that can perform 128 billion computations per second, which is 2.5 times faster than the super processor of the current record holder Intel.

The prototype is fabricated using a 45-nanometer process and consists of a total of eight cores. Fujitsu says the new CPU, dubbed Venus, also consumes just one third of the power the Intel chip uses.

by das monde on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 12:53:56 PM EST
Blair awarded $1m prize for international relations work | Politics | The Guardian

Tony Blair last night received the $1m Dan David prize for leadership at a ceremony at Tel Aviv university, a prize awarded for "achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world."

Blair's office said 90% of the money from the prize - which is named after the international businessman and philanthropist Dan David - would be donated to the Tony Blair faith foundation that promotes religious understanding, by bringing together young people of different faiths across the world to learn directly with, from and about each other.

The former prime minister has been envoy to the Quartet of the EU, the US, Russia and the UN, for the past two years, putting him at the heart of negotiations over one of the world's most intractable conflicts. One of the flagship causes he has championed can be found on the northern edge of the Palestinian city of Jenin, on the occupied West Bank. The rest of the prize money will be donated to the university.

by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 01:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a funny feeling we have to keep our eyes on Blair - it does not seem impossible for him to trick his way into the European Presidency. The way he is honored again and again he seems to have quit a bit of support behind the scene.
by Fran on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 02:52:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only 90%?  What's he need the other hundred grand for?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:02:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Grauniad has updated the article to include the following at the end of the second paragraph:
The other 10% of the prize money was donated to the university.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 05:10:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, because promoting religion is the right move in the middle east...

$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:09:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who knew?

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Yoo | WSJ | 12 May 2009

Here's the deal: Late last year, without much fanfare, the Philadelphia Inquirer signed up Yoo to write a monthly column. Yoo's first column appeared on Sunday. His topic (what else?): replacing Justice Souter.

Yoo, Journalist! | ThinkProgress.org | 12 May 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer already has a long line-up of conservative columnists, including Michael Smerconish and Rick Santorum (who reportedly makes $1,750 per column). Attytood's Will Bunch reveals that the Inquirer now has one more: torture architect John Yoo. The Inquirer hired Yoo in late 2008, but according to Bunch, didn't give him a byline as an "Inquirer columnist" until Sunday. Bunch wrote to Inquirer editorial page editor Harold Jackson and received this response:

John Yoo has written freelance commentaries for The Inquirer since 2005, however he entered into a contract to write a monthly column in late 2008. I won't discuss the compensation of anyone who writes for us. Of course, we know more about Mr. Yoo's actions in the Justice Department now than we did at the time we contracted him. But we did not blindly enter into our agreement. He's a Philadelphian, and very knowledgeable about the legal subjects he discusses in his commentaries. Our readers have been able to get directly from Mr. Yoo his thoughts on a number of subjects concerning law and the courts, including measures taken by the White House post-9/11. That has promoted further discourse, which is the objective of newspaper commentary.

Emphasis added. Subscriptions are being cancelled.

Why I Hired John Yoo: I WUZ ROBBED | NPR | 13 May 2009

Obviously, people would prefer that I talk about Yoo, the former Bush Justice Department official who penned memos legitimizing torture of terrorism suspects. Unfortunately, most of the critics of our contract with Yoo have their facts wrong. But that happens when your information comes from those bloggers who never let facts get in the way when they're trying to whip people into a frenzy to boost Web site hits. ...

The decision to publish Yoo monthly came at the suggestion of The Inquirer's publisher, Brian Tierney, who cited Yoo's mutual roots in Philadelphia as well as his legal scholarship -- he is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. [uhhh...]

I had misgivings, but I believed our readers would place the move in context with the paper's clearly expressed criticism in numerous editorials of the Bush administration's use of torture. ...

Whatever happens to Yoo, I hope to have his reaction in a column written exclusively for The Inquirer. Then, our readers will get their turn to respond to what he has to say. That's what newspaper opinion pages do well.

When newspapers stop being a vehicle for thoughtful conversation, and instead provide an arena for one crowd to pummel the other crowd, without listening to what anyone else has to say, we might as well be the blogosphere -- or talk radio.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 08:29:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After all, why should Yoo pay for P.R. when Yoo can get paid to write his own P.R.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 12:43:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, this "gig" is an investment in syndication, book royalties, and bookings along the lounge circuit of his dotage.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:00:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
his dotage

And may it come soon:

Advocacy Groups Seek Disbarment of Ex-Bush Administration Lawyers - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- A coalition of left-wing advocacy groups filed legal ethics complaints on Monday against 12 former Bush administration lawyers, including three United States attorneys general, whom the groups accuse of helping to justify torture.

The coalition, called Velvet Revolution, asked the bar associations in four states and the District of Columbia to disbar the lawyers, saying their actions violated the rules of professional responsibility by approving interrogation methods, including waterboarding, that constituted illegal torture.


The filings come as the Justice Department's ethics office, the Office of Professional Responsibility, completes a report on the department lawyers who wrote opinions authorizing harsh interrogations.

The report, in the works for nearly five years and expected to be released in the next few weeks, is said to be highly critical of some authors of the opinions, including John C. Yoo, a senior official at the department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, and his boss, Jay S. Bybee.

The Velvet Revolution complaint also names Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the legal counsel office from 2005 to 2009; the three attorneys general, John Ashcroft, Alberto R. Gonzales and Michael B. Mukasey; Michael Chertoff and Alice S. Fisher, who headed the Justice Department's criminal division; two former Pentagon officials, Douglas J. Feith and William J. Haynes II; and two former White House lawyers, Timothy E. Flanigan and David S. Addington.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:04:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Times online: Commons Sketch from yesterday

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:52:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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