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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 23 May

by Fran Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:06:48 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1908 – Birth of Hélène Boucher, a French aviatrix. In 1934, she flew the speed record over 100 km (485 km/h on average) and became thus the "quickest woman of the world". She held the altitude record with 5,200 metres and eight other world records. (d. 1934)

More here and here

 The European Salon is a daily selection of news items to which you are invited to contribute. Post links to news stories that interest you, or just your comments. Come in and join us!


The Salon has different rooms or sections for your enjoyment. If you would like to join the discussion, then to add a link or comment to a topic or section, please click on "Reply to this" in one of the following sections:

  •  EUROPE  - is the place for anything to do with Europe.
  •  EUROPEAN ELECTIONS  - is a section specifically for the current European Parliament Elections.
  •  ECONOMY & FINANCE  - is where you find what is going on in finance and the economy.
  •  WORLD  - here you can add links and comments on topics concerning world affairs.
  •  LIVING OFF THE PLANET  - is about the environment, energy, agriculture, food...
  •  LIVING ON THE PLANET  - is about humanity, society, culture, history, information...
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  •  SPECIAL FOCUS  - will be up only for special events and topics, as occasion warrants.

I hope you will find this place inspiring - of course meaning the inspiration gained here to show up in interesting diaries on ET. :-)

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 EUROPE 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:46:31 PM EST
Silvio Berlusconi vows to grab more power in Italy at Parliament's expense - Times Online

Silvio Berlusconi vowed yesterday to change the Italian constitution to give himself greater power as Prime Minister at the expense of Parliament, which he denounced as "useless".

"You have a Government that is for the first time run by an entrepreneur and a team of ministers that resembles a company board in its efficiency, but we have to reckon with a legislature that must be modernised because the premier has virtually no power," Mr Berlusconi told the annual conference of Confindustria, an employers' federation.

He said that a Bill changing the constitution would have to take the form of a "popular initiative" taken outside parliament, as deputies and senators would not undermine their own power. Under Italian law, Bills can be proposed not only by deputies, but also by groups of 500,000 citizens. "You can't expect turkeys to vote to bring forward Christmas," he said -- adding that the Lower House should be reduced to 100 deputies.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:50:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's simply unbelievable...I mean the arrogance of that scam.Unfortunately that's what Italians probably deserve. The say goes that everyone has a government they deserve.I feel for those Italians who are helplessly watching their country deteriorating in to the banana-republic...and heading in to what they already have seen before...fascism.
But hey cheer up...you are not alone...look at USA (even "under historic black president").Unfortunately the will started to spin some time ago and probably no one can stop what's coming...and it's bad.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 09:40:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What was most striking about the episode of Berlusconi's improvised speech was that the audience applauded. Now one may applaud for a variety of reasons, the most common being courtesy. It is known that Berlusconi also brings along his paid claque to applaud, though this does not seem the case here.

The speech was given during a "solemn occasion" the annual meeting of the National Confederation of Industries. It is obvious that the meeting expected a discussion of the grave economic crisis which directly concerns them and the Italian government's do-nothing policy- a crisis that Berlusconi has repeatedly denounced as a giornalistic invention.

Berlusconi's tirade instead was outright slander against judges. He asserted that they are extreme leftists and that a "reform" is paramount. He then attacked parliament and called for popular initiatives (which are slower and ineffectual by the way- but would make for an excellent propaganda spot) to speed  up legislation. (Invision hoards of menacing rabble surrounding parliament with this psychotic hystrionic in the lead calling to have it expunged, an amusing situation given that the majority of parliament consists of his groveling sycophants.)

This morning Berlusconi denied he had ever implied what he effectively implied in his tirade and accused everyone of adopting "Stalinist tactics" to distort the Truth.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 02:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi sounds like he's preparing a March on Rome or something.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 03:40:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As you know the March on Rome was a media farce. Low turnout with Bulgy-Eyes strutting only a couple of yards for a photo opportunity. But it worked.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 05:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't know, actually.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 09:39:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The March on Rome was behind the scenes negotiations between Mussolini in Milano and the king. The king did not consult General Badoglio who was for a military intervention. "One shot will scatter these fascist." The fascists entered Rome after the accords to make Mussolini prime minister. By then their number had swollen significantly.

The only shots fired were from the courageous working class in San Lorenzo. The fascists devasted San Lorenzo, killing thirteen.

Mussolini planned the march in a now-or-never gamble but prudently waited safely in Milano. Besides a couple of speeches in Naples, he never marched. The king did the rest.

Why the king chose to pointedly ignore the military command and capitulate remains controversial.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 10:49:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This morning Berlusconi denied he had ever implied what he effectively implied in his tirade and accused everyone of adopting "Stalinist tactics" to distort the Truth.

The stenographic transcript furnished by Berlusconi "proving" that he had never said parliament is "useless and damaging" is in contrast with the unexpurgated version of his speech.

Effectively Berlusconi said, "Now  they'll say I've offended parliament. But plethoric assemblies are useless and frankly unproductive." Press dispatches- as well as his own party mouthpieces- substituted the word "unproductive" with "damaging".

Berlusconi siezed the occasion to attribute the words to the "ignoble" and "Stalinist" opposition leaders- which will make headlines for his brainless hoi polloi. It remains, as so often, that brash scissor jobs done in plain view are hawked as absolute truths.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 05:45:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Estonia's coalition government collapses | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 21.05.2009
The Estonian prime minister has dismissed crucial coalition partners, after they failed to agree on how to best tackle the recession. That leaves the government in Tallinn without a majority, at least for now. 

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has kicked three senior Social Democrat politicians out of his coalition government. Without them, the ruling coalition no longer has a parliamentary majority.

Ansip and his center-right Reform Party intend to abandon a planned increase in unemployment benefits, saying that the country can't afford to pay as Estonia's unemployment rate has risen to 11.4 percent during the recession. The Social Democrats objected to this, calling for an increase in income tax instead.

As a result, Ansip fired three prominent Social Democrats, the finance minister, population minister and interior minister, after getting permission from President Toomas Hendrik to sack the ministers and reform his coalition.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:54:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biden ends Balkans tour with message of cautious hope | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 22.05.2009
At the end of a three-day visit to Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, US Vice President Joe Biden said that the real challenge facing the Balkans today was ethnic integration, but that reconciliation couldn't happen overnight.  

"What we are talking about now is real integration, not just the elimination of carnage and brutality," Biden told journalists in Pristina on Thursday, May 21. "But this is where it really gets hard and it's going to take time."

A decade ago, the US-led NATO intervention against Serbia ousted its security forces from Kosovo to end a brutal campaign against ethnic Albanians. It also set the foundation for the deployment of NATO peacekeepers and a UN civilian mission to run the then Serbian province. Last year, Kosovo - strongly encouraged by Washington - unilaterally declared its independence.

As a result, Kosovo Albanians, a 90-percent majority in the Serbian breakaway region, regard Washington as their closest ally, while Belgrade maintains sore, wary relations with the US.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biden will be gone and many more but this "real integration" will not happen. For that to happen we need people willing to compromise and I do not see them on any of the sides...So long Biden...I hope he had accomplished his mission and took his (additional) bribe money from Kosovo war criminals in power on Kosovo.They certainly are good mates...As long as American military base sits on Kosovo those criminals are safe...But it will not be there for ever.And Albanians on Balkan didn't care to make friends in their neighborhood.Far away friends once gone are of no use...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 09:53:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU states enter bidding contest for new energy body

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Sweden is set to inherit the thorny problem of where to place a number of newly-born European agencies when it takes over the EU presidency on 1 July.

Earlier this week, three EU states - Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - indicated their interest in hosting the new energy body, proof that the dossier is gaining in political influence. All three bidders expect the contest to be "quite tough."

The plan to set up the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was given the green light in April 2009.

"It is mainly a matter of prestige," says Piotr Kaczynski from the Brussels-based Centre for European policy studies. He points out that a host does not have a "privileged influence" over how an agency functions.

His colleague and energy regulation expert, Christian Egenhofer, also predicts "fierce competition" as European agencies generally tend to expand, create other business opportunities as well as exposure for a country.

The idea to set up the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was given the green light in April 2009 - together with rules to further liberalise the union's gas and electricity market.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the kind of thing that can be used to sell the EU to the people.  The more it is present in their regions the more it will seem real, rather than some distant body of French and Germans that tells them what to do.

Is there a map of the existing locations for such departments available anywhere?

I know that in the US it is very helpful to have federal offices located throughout the country.

by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:40:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Home Secretary was warned of MI5's 'blackmailing of Muslims' - Home News, UK - The Independent

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, was warned nine months ago about MI5's alleged campaign of blackmail and intimidation against a group of young Muslim men, The Independent has learnt. Veteran Labour MP Frank Dobson wrote to Ms Smith in September about concerns raised by a north London community leader who claimed six youth workers had endured an 18-month campaign of threats and coercion in an attempt to recruit them as informants on their friends and neighbours.

When they refused to co-operate, the men were targeted by the Security Service who threatened to set them up as terror suspects, Mr Dobson was told. The allegations have provoked outrage among Muslim leaders who say MI5's alleged actions have not only damaged relations with ethnic-minority communities but harmed efforts to gather intelligence on real terror suspects.

Mr Dobson was contacted by Sharhabeel Lone, chairman of the Kentish Town Community Centre, on 29 August last year, who told the former cabinet minister of the alleged harassment and urged him to intervene. The MP for Holborn and St Pancras then wrote to Mr Lone on 3 September saying he had raised the men's complaints with the Home Secretary. But Ms Smith is understood to have written back, declining to intervene.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Deep divisions loom over summit talks | France 24
Russian and EU leaders seek to ease tensions over gas supply and Russia's war in Georgia during a summit in the Siberian city of Khabarovsk. Moscow has warned the EU not to turn a proposed partnership with former Soviet states against it.

Reuters - The leaders of the European Union and Russia started summit talks on Friday with deep rifts on energy supplies and trade overshadowing the meeting near the Chinese border.
 
Russia and the EU say they want to improve ties after rows over gas supplies via Ukraine and last year's war with Georgia. But diplomats say discord is simmering just below the surface.
 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev played down differences as he welcomed European leaders in Khabarovsk, a city nine time zones from Brussels.
 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Deep divisions loom over summit talks | France 24
Russian and EU leaders seek to ease tensions over gas supply and Russia's war in Georgia during a summit in the Siberian city of Khabarovsk. Moscow has warned the EU not to turn a proposed partnership with former Soviet states against it.

Reuters - The leaders of the European Union and Russia started summit talks on Friday with deep rifts on energy supplies and trade overshadowing the meeting near the Chinese border.
 
Russia and the EU say they want to improve ties after rows over gas supplies via Ukraine and last year's war with Georgia. But diplomats say discord is simmering just below the surface.
 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev played down differences as he welcomed European leaders in Khabarovsk, a city nine time zones from Brussels.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wales plans for energy self-sufficiency with renewables in 20 years
Ambitious, legally binding plans 'set an example for the rest of the world to follow', says Jonathan Porritt
By John Vidal, guardian.co.uk

Wales today laid out radical plans to make it one of the most energy- and resource-efficient countries in the world within a generation.

The government development plans, which are legally binding, are far in advance of anything planned for England or Scotland and would see it become energy self-sufficient in using renewable electricity within 20 years and reduce waste to zero by 2050.

The proposals would make Wales one of only three countries in the world legally bound to develop "sustainably".

"We intend to reduce by 80-90% our use of carbon-based energy, resulting in a similar reduction in our greenhouse gas generation," said Jane Davidson, the Welsh environment minister, launching the sustainable development scheme at the Guardian's Hay festival. "We are committed to making annual 3% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from 2011," she added.

"This is about living within our resources while improving people's well being. It will require radical changes in Welsh society," said Rhodri Morgan, first minister for Wales, which is currently celebrating 10 years of devolution.

by Magnifico on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 SPECIAL FOCUS 
 The Federal Republic of Germany Turns 60 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:47:13 PM EST
Germany marks 60 years of postwar constitution | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 22.05.2009
Germany's leaders have celebrated the 60th anniversary of the country's "Basic Law." President Horst Koehler lauded the post-World War II constitution for ensuring freedom and prosperity in a democratic system. 

In an official state act at Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt Concert Hall on Friday, President Horst Koehler lauded 60 years of the German postwar constitution, saying it had turned Germany into a "mature democracy."

He said the founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Germany "had drawn lessons from the collapse of the Weimar Republic. They also learned from the Nazi dictatorship by creating a constitution that laid solid foundations for a free and just society," he added.

The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was Germany's first attempt at creating a democratic system.

Kohler said the postwar transformation of Western Germany into a c

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:53:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1949-2009: The Federal Republic of Germany Turns 60 - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The year 2009 is a big one for Germany. This weekend marks 60 years since the postwar founding of German democracy. SPIEGEL ONLINE has collected a series of photos documenting Germany's rise out of the ashes of war, and some of the hurdles along the way.

Germany has no shortage of events to celebrate in 2009. This fall, it will be exactly two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the landmark event which led to the reunification of Germany.

 And on Saturday, the country will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the democratic Federal Republic of Germany. Indeed, the latter is just as astounding as the collapse of communist East Germany. After Germany was thoroughly devastated in World War II, an economic phoenix rose from the ashes.

The new constitution was signed on May 23, 1949 in Bonn, which would be West Germany's capital until it ceded to post-reunification Berlin in 1999. At the time, the country was in worse shape than it had ever been. World War II and the Holocaust had transformed Germany into a pariah among nations. What had once been the home of poets and thinkers, admired across the world, was now denounced as the refuge of inveterate warmongers, murderers and barbarians. Wherever they traveled, Germans were looked upon as criminals. Their country was divided among the war's victors, and it barely escaped being completely broken up and transformed into an agrarian state with no industry.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German minister suggests changes to Constitution | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 22.05.2009
To coincide with the 60 year anniversary of Germany's Constitution, Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries has called for fundamental changes regarding the rights of same-sex partnerships in the country. 

In an article in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Zypries has called for improvements to the laws governing the rights for people in homosexual partnerships as well as removing the "dubious" differences in the Constitution that exist between German and non-German residents.

The SPD politician wants in future for all Germans to have the same voting rights, a measure she says will lead to an increase in legal clarity and will stand as a symbol for integration.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:47:51 PM EST
Eighteen 'phantom' MEPs will do no work for two years - Telegraph
Eighteen "phantom" MEPs will be elected on full pay and perks next month despite not being able to start work for up to two years due to Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

The extra candidates will be chosen in the European Union elections on June 4 despite the agreement, which increases the number of MEPs from 736 to 754, remaining unsigned.

Amid confusion over when and how they will take up their seats, the European Parliament has decided to give the MEPs only "observer" status from next year.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:59:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Euro election country-by-country

National concerns appear to overshadow pan-European issues in the run-up to the 4-7 June European Parliament elections.

In this guide the BBC's Laurence Peter looks at the issues country-by-country.

The parliament is being reduced in size to 736 MEPs, from 785 in the outgoing parliament. The new number of seats per country is given here first, with the previous number in brackets.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:48:11 PM EST
S&P Cuts UK's Rating Outlook to Negative - Britain * Europe * News * Story - CNBC.com
BritainBy: Reuters | 21 May 2009 | 07:35 AM ET tumbled 3 U.S. cents, the gilt future fell more than a point and the FTSE-100 stock index was around 2 percent lower after the announcement -- the first time Britain had been on a negative outlook since S&P introduced them in the 1980s.

Britain has had a "AAA" rating since 1978. Rival credit rating agencies Moody's and Fitch said they saw no reason to change the UK's status and reaffirmed its ratings.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:52:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First item on the agenda: fixing the world - Americas, World - The Independent

There are the great, and there are the good, and then there are those who are both - and in a plush Manhattan residence overlooking the East River earlier this month, America's greatest philanthropists assembled for a closed-doors meeting to discuss how best to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems, from disease to education to poverty reduction.

This first Philanthropists Summit was put together discreetly by the Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, and the investment guru Warren Buffett, the world's wealthiest and second-wealthiest men respectively. And the list of attendees reads like a page from the Forbes magazine Rich List.

The event comes at a time of great difficulty for many charities, whose rich donors have seen much of their wealth evaporate with the credit crisis and whose own endowments have suffered big losses.

Even the existence of the meeting was kept quiet and details have only been seeping out over the past few days, igniting the blogosphere with conspiracy theories. What could the likes of Oprah Winfrey, the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the currency speculator George Soros and the media mogul Ted Turner be cooking up between them?

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China's Public Enemy No. 1: How Beijing is Battling the Global Crisis - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The West is pinning its hopes on China to revive the global economy. Beijing is orchestrating its efforts to combat the crisis as meticulously as it once planned the country's spectacular economic ascent.

Everything is colored a bright red, from the tent roofs protecting throngs of shoppers from the elements to the banners encouraging them to buy. Wang Shiqin, a 62-year-old farmer, hurried to the market in the early morning hours. Like most shoppers here, he already owns a television set, but now he wants to buy his first refrigerator -- subsidized by the Chinese government.

 The mood is a mixture of carnival and rally at the market in Feidong, a city in rural Anhui Province about a three-hour train ride northwest of Shanghai. The vendors are loudly pitching household appliances, especially domestic brands, which benefit from this government campaign to fight the global financial crisis.

The Chinese are among the world's most diligent savers, hording almost five times as much of their disposable income in their bank accounts as the Germans do. But now the Communist Party wants to promote collective consumption.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:59:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How Geithner, Obama Battle Employment, Unemployment: Old Skool Agitation, Cold Water Cycle

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.

Calls for `Very Substantial' Change in Wall Street Pay | Bloomberg | 22 May 2009

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for major changes in compensation practices at financial companies and said the Obama administration's plan to help realign pay with performance will be rolled out by mid-June. ...

The administration's pay plan would be part of a proposed comprehensive overhaul of financial regulation aimed at both protecting consumers and reducing vulnerability to crises. Geithner has previously ruled out setting specific caps on pay and declined to alter existing compensation contracts.

## CMUTS

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:28:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How Europe Survives A Financial Crisis | Newsweek World | Newsweek.com
As the economy shows signs of life, Europe's slow and steady model is proving there's more to life than hypergrowth.

At the end of the race between the tortoise and the hare, at least as the 17th Century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine told the tale, the terrapin cries out, "I won! And what would have happened if you'd been carrying your house on your back!"

As the world's economies slog toward the still-not-quite-visible end of the crisis, Europeans are hoping they'll be able to make a similar boast to the Americans. And thus far, going slow and steady, it looks as if they just might win this marathon, or at least set a useful example. Sure, the U.S. economy is known for being faster off the mark, unfettered by the accumulated weight of what some would call the welfare state or, God forbid, "socialism." But it's also been the first to crash. And in hard times, Americans are left looking, sometimes rather desperately, for shelter. In continental Europe, especially as the French and Germans see it, the shell is really the secret of long-term success, offering protection from the ferocious storms in the global economy and allowing society to keep functioning smoothly.

Of course, we should drag out this metaphor only so far, but even the hitherto insouciant jack rabbits of laissez-faire capitalism are starting to look at the continental models more closely. The British, who jettisoned much of their burdensome carapace in the Thatcher years, are so chagrined by their current woes that the free-market bards of The Economist recently wrote a paean to É France! So, too, The Wall Street Journal. Lo and behold, they've discovered that French and German workers, even the unemployed ones, are still able to lead decent lives, free of want, free of fear, and with enough left over to buy lunch and go to the movies.

by Fran on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 12:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:48:36 PM EST
Senate Passes $91.3 Billion War Funding Bill

WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Thursday passed a $91.3 billion military spending bill, shorn of money President Barack Obama wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but allowing him to significantly ramp up the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

The Senate voted 86-3 to pass the bill, which provides money for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, setting up House-Senate talks on a compromise measure to present to Obama next month.

The spending measure closely tracks Obama's request for war funds, although the $80 million he was seeking to close the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was dropped Wednesday.

A three-day Senate debate on the bill featured little of the angst over the situation in Afghanistan that permeated debate in the House last week on companion legislation.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ROLL CALL, H.R.2346, "Supplemental Appropriations Act," (FY 2008-2009 budget) as amended.

Not voting: Begich,Byrd, Carper, Hagan, Hatch, Kennedy, Murray, Rockefeller, Shaheen, Udall

Highlights! Chapter 4-9, CHAPTER 4--GENERAL GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE PRESIDENT

  • NATO: Security Investment Program,  $100M; Department of Defense Base Closure Account 2005, $263,3M

  • DHHS public health and social services emergency fund, $1.85BILLION, to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic, including the development and purchase of vaccine, antivirals, necessary medical supplies, diagnostics, and other surveillance tools and to assist international efforts and respond to international needs relating to the 2009-H1N1 influenza outbreak,

  • Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps, $235.8M to carry out planning and design and military construction projects not otherwise authorized by law; Air Force $279M to carry out planning and design and military construction projects not otherwise authorized by law; Defense-Wide $1,086BILLION to carry out planning and design and military construction projects not otherwise authorized by law

  • Dept of State diplomatic and consular programs, $1,016BILLION for worldwide security protection, to support operations in and assistance for Afghanistan and to carry out the provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and for public diplomacy activities to the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Region; PLUS embassy security, construction, and maintenance, $989,628M

  • BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE, economic support fund, $2,907BILLION for assistance for Pakistan, the National Solidarity Program in Afghanistan, the United States Agency for International Development, programs in the West Bank and Gaza ("Provided further, That none of the funds made available under this heading for cash transfer assistance to the Palestinian Authority"), disaster assistance in Burm, and "developing countries impacted by the global financial crisis, including Haiti, Liberia, and Indonesia'


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 04:40:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama's Guantanamo policy reignites US national security debate | World | Deutsche Welle | 22.05.2009
The US president says he will not release Guantanamo detainees who still pose a threat to national security. But - with Europeans hesitant to step in - the White House is under increasing pressure to find a solution.  

The US president's order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by January 2010 was hailed by Democrats, Republicans, civil-rights groups and the European Union, but has since encountered stiff opposition from all sides on the question of what to do with the remaining 240 detainees.

In a speech at the National Archives in Washington, Obama accused Congress of using fear as a political tactic in voting to block the transfer of any of the detainees to prisons on US soil.

"I've heard words that are calculated to scare people rather than educate them - words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country," Obama said on Thursday, May 21.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:59:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Unveils His Inner Cheney - Moon of Alabama

In this passage of Obama's speech yesterday he lays out a system of indefinite detention of innocents that is illegal, against basic human rights and against all morals. It is Cheney at his worst simply clad in new cloth.

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here--this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture--like other prisoners of war--must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can't be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That's why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don't make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:27:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's merely saying they will hold them for longer, until they find an adequate solution.  He has to do this, he has no choice.  

The problem is that even though many were not anti-american before, they surely are now, after being held in this facility.  Also, if even one of them does anything ever against he US it will be a political football that enables more repression than you are seeing now.  This is the sad reality of the US political world.

He didn't put them there and he's not going after new guys to put in these facilities.  He's trying to deal with the lose/lose reality of what he has inherited.

It is tempting to say "just let them out and see where the chips fall."  Unfortunately the consequences, politically, of one of those chips falling, would derail a lot of good that is being done.  

There is also the issue where some of these prisoners, if sent 'home,' would be targets.

by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You should really set aside some time to read Amdt. 1136 which will become public law with Obama's signature. It is not long. Click on Page S5681 to read Title III, Sec. 315, erroneously titled "to limit the release of detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

The problem is not rhetorical. It is not determining the most persuasive argument to induce "pro-American" sentiment in a prison inmate who has suffered the most appalling and constant indifference of Americans and American allies.

Wednesday, the senate furnished explicit instructions to Mr Obama on "What to do" with Guantanamo inmates --going so far as to demand the president certify the probability of any one inmate's recidivism after "rehabilitation" and release at some distant point in the future. He parroted these provisions in his speech last night with an accent on the excrutiating examination of Gitmo jackets and complex legal contradictions actual implementation demands of an empty executive order.

Where to dispose some dozen diabolical "non-enemy combatants," the educated and expert terrorists, is the logistic problem, the one MSM ignores, because this "solution" is dependent entirely on cooperation of foreign states to assume US custody of them.

The US Congress, just as Mr Obama, has washed its hands of Gitmo. They have "turned the page."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:26:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your post does not seem consistent with what actually is being stated.

Hands have not been washed, the President just gave a lengthy speech on the issue yesterday.

The Senate has been trying to buck the "close Gitmo" line and Obama is having to push back.  

Everything else is a matter of logistics and politics.  

What alternative do you advocate?

by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 05:39:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that most of these people are in any way dangerous is dangerously delusional. So is the suggestion that even if they were, they'd be more of a threat than some of the home-grown hero wannabes in the US who are walking around preaching how they can't live without their weapons cache.

I suppose due process and a fair trial is too much to ask? Or is it pushing the limits of justice to expect that these people should have been accused of something specific, backed up by solid evidence, before being imprisoned in the first place?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:10:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In a normal situation and especially going forward I absolutely feel they should be put on trial, charged with whatever evidence and otherwise treated like any other person in custody in the United States.

That said their cases were absolutely screwed up already by the Bush/Cheney administration.  There's no way most of them could be convicted of anything because apparently no real effort was made to handle them in that way.

In a less murky political environment it would be correct to admit our mistake, release those who cannot be convicted and accept the consequences.  In this environment such a decision would be impossible to defend against.  The instant one of these detainees was blamed (even if it was bullshit) for a terrorist attack or a dead american troop the shitstorm for Obama would be off the charts. It would cripple all policy efforts from then on and send us careening back toward the hawkish right-wing crap we've only just begun to escape.

I still think we must admit our mistake and I think Obama is moving in that rhetorical direction.  I don't pretend to have a better answer but I can't see the path of purity as being especially smart in this case either.  

The dark humorist in me suggest we release them all into Dallas, Texas and not let them leave the state.

by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 08:05:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which environment? Why do you think you're in an environment?

You're repeating noisy right wing talking points and being scared of the right, as if they're still the de facto government and need to be placated and supplicated to, just in case.

But these people are:

  1. Insane
  2. Incapable of being anything other insane
  3. Pathologically noisy and unable to shut up
  4. Irrelevant to mainstream public opinion

People voted for Obama precisely because they'd had enough of being in a Bush environment, with all of the Kafka-esque arbitrariness that that implies.

The right has decided that Obama is basically Hitler. They're not scared of another terrorist attack - they're far more scared that he'll take their guns away and start rounding them up in concentration camps.

So on the one hand you have progressives scared what the right will say if something bad happens, and on the other the right is having its own very public schizophrenic breakdown.

Meanwhile most of the public wants simple justice restored.

Aside from all of that - can anyone explain to me who actually benefits from torture and 'preventive detention', and how they benefit from it?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 06:26:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aside from all of that - can anyone explain to me who actually benefits from torture and 'preventive detention', and how they benefit from it?

Yes. That would be the - uh - "contractors" (what do you call a værnemager in English?) who get the no-bid contracts to build, supply and maintain the concentration camps.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 09:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To directly address your point yes, clearly the majority are not dangerous in any way.  Obama is laying the groundwork to release all of these people.  The sticking point are the handful who certainly ARE dangerous but we can't stick charges to due to lack of evidence.
by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 08:07:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read the legislation --Amdt. 1133 (money), Amdt. 1136 (procedure), Amdt.1140 (states' rights) -- all passed 20 May. Then read Mr Obama's speech. I read it and linked ET to it. He and the senate patently agree on how to "shut down" Guantanamo -- in fact the "educator-in-chief" dedicated most of his address to explaining verrrrry sloooowly how "he" intends to sort the inmates categorically in order to empty the prison. That's not "push back". That was Amdt. 1136. There is no conflict. Because he damn well knows EO 13491, EO 13492, and EO 13495 were little more than proclamations --which, incidentally, don't call for dismantling US real estate in Cuba or abandoning the naval base-- of the 2009 legislative calendar.

Why waste your time trying to interpret the adolescent gibberish of 495 PR media buyers? Mr Obama is no opposition candidate. For godssakes.

I supported the use of military commissions to try detainees, provided there were several reforms, and in fact there were some bipartisan efforts to achieve those reforms. Those are the reforms that we are now making. Instead of using the flawed commissions of the last seven years, my administration is bringing our commissions in line with the rule of law. We will no longer permit the use of evidence -- as evidence statements that have been obtained using cruel, inhuman, or degrading interrogation methods. We will no longer place the burden to prove that hearsay is unreliable on the opponent of the hearsay. And we will give detainees greater latitude in selecting their own counsel, and more protections if they refuse to testify. These reforms, among others, will make our military commissions a more credible and effective means of administering justice, and I will work with Congress and members of both parties, as well as legal authorities across the political spectrum, on legislation to ensure that these commissions are fair, legitimate, and effective.

I don't know what "close Gitmo" means to you, but I look to process that restores habeus corpus and numerous other articles of the US Bill of Rights: there is no reasonable alternative to the procedure described by the senate which differentiates inmates and in its neurotic fashion simulates a due process prescribed by Supreme Court rulings yet also consistent with MCA which none of these assholes will touch. The part of their "solution" to the problem of uncontested presidential power suspending habeus indefinitely is desirable to the extent the congress and executive demonstrably conform to constitutional writ.

The other part of the problem is not partisan politics. It is consensus --majority votes-- in both chambers of Congress and in the White House that inmates need not be tried, and they need not be maintained if convicted in the USA.

There is a host of abominable Bush law demanding repeal. I'd settle for an EO prohibiting MCA prosecution of foreign nationals for the simple reason none, NONE, are enemy combatants. I'd like to see Mr Obama drop the façade of "national security" interests in order to justify these prisoners.

But that's not how low-info liberals will "shut down" Guantanamo prison. Because truthfully Mr Obama doesn't want that to happen (he's planning to draft law to adapt to the new reality of "war with al-Qaida and its affiliates"!).

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 08:59:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually take "shut down Gitmo" to mean exactly that, close the Guantanamo Bay prison.  Believing it means anything else is fanciful and wishful thinking.

As for denial of HC, etc, the question isn't what to do going forward so much as what to do with people who've already been denied these rights.  It's a matter of sorting out an existing problem in a way that minimizes the total damage.

I'm quite familiar with the legal underpinnings of all of this.  I'm also familiar with the reality that is warfare, POW's and human history.  Such abuses have occurred time and again throughout our history and it's terribly naive to pretend this is the first or last time it has happened.  

Also consider that Obama has stated himself that just because something is legal does not mean we should do it.  This is the foundation of his policy going forward.  What the law allows, for the time being, need not reflect our behavior.  Your tone will be more appropriate should new "detainees" be imprisoned without these rights.  Should Obama add to the problem it becomes his.  My view is that he's searching for a way to restore the rule of law whilst trying to adapt the law for the moment to accept what has occurred.  As we've see in other areas I think he expects these efforts to fail under judicial scrutiny, in fact I think that is EXACTLY what he's trying to do.  Buy some time and set the legal foundation needed to prevent this in the future.

I'll ask again - what do you suppose we do that is better?  I agree that the vast majority of the Gitmo detainees are at least relatively harmless.  It's foolish to suggest ALL of them are.  These arguments primarily concern those who are actually dangerous.  The rest will be released, through some means or other.  Ultimately even these dangerous detainees will be dealt with - the question that is still being answered is how that will occur.  Let's give it a moment and see what our govt. can come up with.

Finally, of course Obama is not an "opposition candidate," he's the President of the United States. This is not a campaign, this is governing.

by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 09:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll ask again - what do you suppose we do that is better?

I have answered, there is nothing "better" --absent repeal of various "abominable" laws which furnish Guantanamo prison with lawful deadbeats-- than the procedure prescribed by the senate to simulate a due process. Also that Mr Obama agrees. Such adjudication has been previously denied remaining Guantananmo inmates. The exceptions among them being MCA convictions of two or is it fourteen? 20th 9/11 hijackers.

I agree that the vast majority of the Gitmo detainees are at least relatively harmless.

I have not stated anywhere "the vast majority of the Gitmo detainees are at least relatively harmless." So you must be agreeing with some other commenter. I do know, I cannot presume who is charged with what crime if at all, who is guilty, who is harmless, who harbors  intelligence of consumable vintage, who is maimed or even who is dead as a result of maltreatment or voluntary lassitude while imprisoned at Guantanamo. These facts are undiscoverable, being classified matters of "national security interest."

Finally, of course Obama is not an "opposition candidate," he's the President of the United States. This is not a campaign, this is governing.

Pardon me. I did not apprehend your earlier statement correctly.

The Senate has been trying to buck the "close Gitmo" line and Obama is having to push back.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 10:25:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ultimately though, if there were some white-trash skinheads in a North Dakota jail who had been tortured in any way close to what these people have lived throgh in Gitmo, regardless of what they had done or admitted to, whatever large cache of weapons or designs to commit further atrocities, they would be out on the streets yesterday.

Justice is blind. Truth cannot be a little bit pregnant.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 03:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
paving:
 Your tone will be more appropriate should new "detainees" be imprisoned without these rights.  Should Obama add to the problem it becomes his.

Well...

We wouldn't want to inflame anti-American sentiment - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

In a two-sentence filing late Friday, the Justice Department said that the new administration had reviewed its position in a case brought by prisoners at the United States Air Force base at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital. The Obama team determined that the Bush policy was correct: such prisoners cannot sue for their release.
by generic on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 08:01:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US troop surge in Afghanistan 'could push Taliban into Pakistan' | World news | guardian.co.uk

The buildup of US troops in Afghanistan could force more Taliban fighters into neighbouring Pakistan, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff conceded last night.

Admiral Mike Mullen told the US Senate's foreign relations committee: "We can't deny that our success may only push them [the Taliban] deeper into Pakistan."

Mullen said military planning was under way to overcome that risk. He said the increase of 21,000 US forces in Afghanistan was "about right" for the new strategy of trying to quell the insurgency and speed up training of Afghan security forces.

"Can I [be] 100% certain that won't destabilise Pakistan? I don't know the answer to that," Mullen told the committee.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mexican guards stood by during prison breakout - Americas, World - The Independent

Video from a security camera shows that guards at a Mexican prison stood by nonchalantly as 53 inmates, many of them suspected members of drug gangs, walked out -- and that the guards did not rush into action with their guns drawn until well after the convoy of escape vehicles had disappeared, a Mexican newspaper reported yesterday.

The video, published on the Web site of the newspaper Reforma, provides a rare inside look at lax security inside Mexico's prisons, a problem that makes prosecuting drug smugglers vastly more difficult. Interpol described some of the inmates, who escaped without firing a shot, as "a risk to the safety and security of citizens around the world."

Interpol issued an international security alert for 11 of the prisoners involved in the prison break, which lasted less than three minutes on Saturday in Cieneguillas, in the northern state of Zacatecas. About a dozen of the prisoners were suspected of being members of drug gangs. The video shows bored-looking guards watching television before one of the prisoners opened an unlocked gate to his cellblock and then ordered a group of inmates to follow him into the guards' room. The guards stepped aside, making no effort to stop the escape, and then they were shoved into the cellblock by the inmates, some of whom were armed.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:00:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hezbollah says Biden visit interferes in election - BostonHerald.com

BEIRUT -- Vice President Joe Biden reaffirmed strong American support for Lebanon's government today as the deeply divided country prepares for crucial elections in two weeks that could see the pro-Western faction ousted by Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies.

Hezbollah has accused Washington of trying to influence the June 7 vote in favor of the pro-Western faction that dominates the government. The militant group said the visits by Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton a month ago raised "strong suspicion and amounted to a clear and detailed interference in Lebanon's affairs."

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Jobless Rate May Soon Top Europe's
By Floyd Norris, NY Times

For many years, unemployment in the United States was lower than in Western Europe, a fact often cited by people who argued that the flexibility inherent in the American system -- it is easier to both hire and fire workers than in many European countries -- produced more jobs.

That is no longer the case. Unemployment in the United States has risen to European averages, and seems likely to pass them when international data for April is calculated.

Europe is still Doomed though.

by Magnifico on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the unemployment figures between economies still aren't comparable.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Our underground economy is apparently much more virulent than yours.
by paving on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 03:50:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DailyKos | Col. Wilkerson: "Cheney Kept Some Things From the President"

We interviewed Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, on The Young Turks and he had some very interesting things to say. Including:

"Cheney was co-president.  I'd go further than that and say that for national security issues and other critical issues Cheney was the President."

"I found the incredible arrogance and lack of humility of the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to be stunning almost right off the bat."

Referring to the decision to abuse detainees:

"I don't think there's any question it goes to Cheney.  I'm increasingly of a mind that a lot of it goes to Cheney and stops there. Not just because of the president's disinclination to do detail, but I also think that Cheney kept some things from the president.

Interesting dynamic developing among the rats.  Note that Cheney seems to always make sure to implicate Bush in everything, even though he seems to word his statements in a way that suggests it was he who was really making the decisions, and that Bush may well have not known much of anything.

The Rumsfeld Bible thing makes me think of that.  My view has always been that Bush was more cynical than stupid.  Maybe he really was just a moron with Daddy issues.

Anyway, the Powell people like Wilkerson have clearly had enough of Cheney, and sadly they seem to be the only ones standing up to defend things like closing Gitmo and the like.

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

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 08:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LA Times: Army needs oversight, Human Rights Watch says
Report lists 17 allegations of serious human rights abuse by the Mexican army, including torture and murder. (April 30, 2009)
Gunmen ambush a military patrol pursuing drug traffickers. The soldiers retaliate, rounding up dozens of townspeople. Four girls held for 20 hours later tell prosecutors that soldiers repeatedly raped and abused them.

The case, from exactly two years ago in the state of Michoacan, is one of 17 allegations of serious human rights abuse by the Mexican army, including torture and murder, detailed in a major report released Wednesday by U.S.-based Human Rights Watch that accuses Mexico of failing to hold its soldiers accountable.

As the military is increasingly used in Mexico to fight drug traffickers, placing it in the nontraditional role of enforcing law and order, the number of allegations has soared. But in every case, the military is allowed to investigate its own alleged wrongdoing, and soldiers and officers are never brought to justice, Human Rights Watch said.

The problem is that the police is infiltrated by the narcos so the Government has resorted to the military.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 04:05:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:48:55 PM EST
InfoViewer: Electricity use forecast to fall

Global electricity consumption will fall this year for the first time since 1945, according to the International Energy Agency.

The watchdog for developed energy consuming countries will tell energy ministers from the Group of Eight leading economies on Sunday that electricity demand will fall 3.5 per cent in 2009.

In China, where power use is seen as a more reliable barometer of economic activity than official economic measures, consumption will be more than 2 per cent lower than 2008. Russia will see a fall of almost 10 per cent, while countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will see a fall of almost 5 per cent.

Three-quarters of the global decline in consumption is accounted for by industrial rather than household demand, reflecting the fall in demand from China's manufacturing-heavy economy. Consumption in India, by contrast, is expected to increase 1 per cent.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:50:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog

FREIBURG, Germany:

It's possibly my imagination, but the air here seems to taste cleaner. This pretty city nestling between the green hills of the Black Forest definitely does sound different. You can hear birdsong and the skittery clatter of bikes on cobblestones. The noise of a delivery lorry pulling up outside the rather magnificent town hall is a startling intrusion.

What is missing is the constant low thrum of traffic in the background. It's not that cars are completely banned from the city, but most of the centre, rather than the odd street, is a pedestrian zone. You pedal or walk to trams or trains. Freiburg can lay claim to being the greenest city in the world, and it's all rather pleasant.

But it is a political act. The city is the largest in Germany where the Green Party are in power. The Greens currently have 43 members of the European Parliament, two of them from Britain, and feel somewhat under pressure with so many other politicians putting the environment near the top of their priorities.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drinking from plastic bottles 'increases exposure to gender-bending chemical' - Telegraph

Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that polycarbonate containers release the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) into liquid stored in them.

BPA has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.

Drinking from plastic bottles increases people's exposure to a gender-bending chemical, a new study suggests.
by Fran on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 12:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:49:22 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Toddler buys real digger online

A New Zealand couple nearly found themselves in a financial hole when their three-year-old daughter bought an earthdigger in an internet auction.

The child, Pipi Quinlan, was trying out her online skills while her parents were asleep in bed.

They only unearthed the truth when they received an email demand for NZ$20,000 (£8,000) from the seller.

Pipi's mother, Sarah, had left the computer logged on. The owner of the digger is not insisting on the sale.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Spain holds 'voodoo' traffickers

Spanish police have arrested 23 people suspected of trafficking Nigerian women into the country and forcing them into prostitution by using voodoo curses.

Experts said the women were scared into submission because of a vow they were forced to take on the graves of their ancestors before they left Nigeria.

The money the women earned was then kept until they had paid off the debt incurred getting to Spain, police said.

The traffickers allegedly supplied women for the sex trade across Europe.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 02:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:49:47 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Europe | Spain's blogger granny dies at 97

A Spanish grandmother who billed herself as the "world's oldest internet blogger" has died at the age of 97.

Maria Amelia Lopez only began blogging from her seaside home in Galicia two years ago.

But her postings on international affairs, Spanish politics and old age quickly turned her into a celebrity, attracting followers around the world.

Towards the end of her life Maria Amelia used video rather than text to offer her thoughts.

by Fran on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thatcherite wins backing for Ronald Reagan statue in London - Times Online

The former US ambassador apparently thought it a good idea. His replacement, when Barack Obama eventually names him, may not be so keen.

An interior designer from Chelsea who is a leading light in the Thatcherite Conservative Way Forward group has won approval for a statue of the great American conservative Ronald Reagan to be erected outside the US Embassy in London. The project was given the nod on Thursday night by Westminster City Council's planning sub-committee in a break with its policy of allowing memorials only to people who have been dead for at least ten years. The former US President died in 2004 aged 93.

The 10ft bronze statue of the man hailed by Margaret Thatcher for winning the Cold War without firing a shot will be placed on a 6ft plinth of Portland stone outside the embassy building in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, near an existing statue of Dwight D Eisenhower, the war hero President, unveiled by Mrs Thatcher in 1989.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 12:10:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which other 2nd-hand car spivs are getting on that 2 meter plinth?

Will there be a complete collection of pretend bought and paid for pretend leaders who sold disrespect for government and international law, sold and gave weapons that killed millions around the world, from nuns to ex-paid for bastards?

I submit King Leopold and Tomás de Torquemada should be standing next to Reagan. That way I can piss once and show my respect in one swath to those who violated the trust of humanity.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat May 23rd, 2009 at 07:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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