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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 3 June

by Fran Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:05:08 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1922 – Birth of Alain Resnais, a French film director whose early works are often grouped within the New Wave or nouvelle vague film movement. Although he has had a long and fruitful career, Resnais is best known for three early works that deal with themes of memory and trauma: Night and Fog (1955), Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), and Last Year at Marienbad (1961).

More here and video

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by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:42:43 PM EST
Hanging in the bank balance - Le Figaro/Presseurop

An attack on banking secrecy launched from Berlin and Paris is forcing Luxembourg to rethink its policies. In the run-up to the European and general elections of June 7th, the people of the Grand Duchy are wondering how the prospect of change will affect their lives.

The financial crisis has swept away a number of certainties and the 320,000 citizens of Luxembourg are facing a doubtful future. While it takes stock of the significant damage done to the financial industry, which accounts for half of its GDP, it has been shaken by the increasingly irascible mood of its powerful German and French neighbours, which may undermine its main source of revenue. The general election that will be held on 7 June, at the same time as the European elections, is unlikely to cause an upset. The Christian-Democrat and Socialist alliance, led by the experienced and wily Jean-Claude Juncker, will almost certainly maintain its iron grip on power. As elsewhere in Europe, there's no question of blaming the jockey just because the horse has got a cold.

But has the financial crisis sounded the death knell for the winning formula that has brought wealth to an entire generation? With a financial industry built on banking secrecy, Luxembourg is increasingly facing the spectre of imminent change.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:45:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steinmeier continues Eastern Europe trip in Budapest | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.06.2009
After a stop in Prague, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier heads to the Hungarian capital to deliver a speech marking two decades of freedom from Soviet rule. 

Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Budapest to honor the actions of the Hungarian and Austrian foreign ministers of 1989, Gyula Horn and Alois Mock, who helped speed the fall of the iron curtain.

About a month short of 20 years ago, on July 27th 1989, the two ministers took bolt-cutters to the border separating the two nations. It was a symbolic act - it's now clear the border had already quietly begun to be dismantled - but it has lived on as the day when the iron curtain publicly began to crumble.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / British Conservatives call for EU to return powers

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - British Conservative leader David Cameron has said he would use upcoming EU budget talks to try to negotiate for a return of powers to the UK, as his new EU parliament group heads for around 50 seats in the elections.

"If we had a Conservative government, we would be going into those negotiations with a list of powers we wanted to have returned to the UK," he said on BBC radio's Today programme on Tuesday (2 June) morning.

Mr Cameron - the EU budget talks would give Britain leverage

"There's an important negotiation coming up on the future funding of the EU and I don't want to see us increasing the funding at all, but it gives us enormous leverage in terms of making sure we get a good deal for Britain."

The EU will in 2010 begin talks on how much EU countries will put into the common pot for the 2013 to 2020 budgetary period, with the UK among the leading donors alongside Germany and France.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:52:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fatuous political theatre. Dave either has the courage of his convictions and calls for a referendum on hauling the UK out of the EU or he shuts up. All of this blather about re-negotiating is so much cock and bull. If you don't like the rules of the club the door's over there. Just have the guts to admit that's what you want to do.

He's all smarmy when people call him on it, syaing what an enthusiast he is and how he's looking forward to working with the "centre-right" racists and homophobes of the crazies he's cozying up to, but if he wants to quit europe say so.

This is dishonest politics at its cheapest. And the worst of it is that he's getting away with it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:47:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Sweden in favour of reduced farm subsidies

Sweden favours a reduction in the EU's agriculture budget and greater emphasis on rural development, says the country's agriculture minister, Eskil Erlandsson, with Sweden taking over the EU's rotating presidency on 1 July.

"We'll concentrate on the second pillar [of the common agricultural policy] (rural development), how we can promote the countryside and rural areas, and how to ensure a fair distribution of cash between countries," said Mr Erlandsson.

Dairy farmers are wary of EU plans to scrap milk quotas

"It's very important to have a common agricultural policy but it will have less money," he added.

The comments were made as EU agriculture ministers hold a three-day informal meeting (31 May - 2 June) in Brno, Czech Republic, to discuss what shape the CAP should take during the next financial period post 2013.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | EU calls South Ossetia poll 'illegitimate' | France 24
Rebel leader Eduard Kokoity swept parliamentary elections in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, final results showed. The EU slammed the poll, the first since Russia recognised its independence, as "illegitimate".

AFP - South Ossetia's strongman leader tightened his grip on the rebel Georgian region on Monday after a party loyal to him won elections condemned as "illegitimate" by the European Union.

Yedinstvo (Unity) won almost half the votes in the legislative elections, nine months after Russia and Georgia fought a war over the status of South Ossetia that plunged Moscow's ties with the West to a post-Cold War low.

It is the party most vocally supportive of strongman leader Eduard Kokoity, a former wrestling champion accused by his critics of muzzling opponents and stealing aid money sent from Russia.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:57:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe the EU's opinion is a little bit irrelevant at this time. Actually it's counter-productive in the short temr and against our long term interests. What on earth possessed them to do this (apart from NATO/ the US State Dept of course)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Evidently, you've some basis for this attitude, as expressed here (quoted in full):

The United States regrets the decision to hold so-called "elections" in the South Ossetia region of Georgia on May 31, 2009, and recognizes neither the legality nor the results. This represents a step away from a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflict. The U.S. reiterates its support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 10:34:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again why it's illegitimate in South Ossetia and it was not illegitimate on Kosovo???
Can anybody explain this to me?
Oh yes...because NATO won that war for Kosovo.
Well Russia won one in Georgia...don't they get it?

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 10:31:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's more like sticking a needle in Putin to remind him that too strong a move in, say, Central Asia or the Crimea, could cause real problems.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 10:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jacqui Smith to resign as home secretary | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Jacqui Smith, Britain's first female home secretary, will stand down in Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle, it emerged today. The beleaguered minister, who has been at the centre of intense controversy over her expenses claims, apparently told Brown two months ago that she did not want to continue in office.

She is said to have been "hurt" by recent events, which have included the revelation that she inadvertently claimed for two pornographic films watched by her husband and criticism of the way she has designated a house she shares with her sister in London as her main home.

The move will pave the way for a radical shake-up of Gordon Brown's cabinet following what is expected to be disastrous local and European election results for Labour this weekend.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:58:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, how hurtful to be caught en flagrante like a republican in the airport toilets, with your pockets filled with as much largesse as you can carry.

Foul leprous stain of the vomitory.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:53:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Foul leprous stain of the vomitory.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 10:49:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservative Party in Germany Gives Up on Anti-Turkey Stance - NYTimes.com

BERLIN -- As citizens across Europe prepare to vote this week for a new European Parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc has abandoned its attempt to create a wedge issue out of Turkey's potential entry into the European Union.

The change in approach is an acknowledgement by conservatives that they have more to gain by appealing to Germany's 690,000 Turkish voters than by alienating them with blunt talk about the political and cultural differences separating Turkey and the rest of the E.U.

The conservatives view the parliamentary balloting, which starts on Thursday, as a barometer for the federal elections in September and realize that they need every vote they can get if Mrs. Merkel is to be re-elected. Though Mrs. Merkel spoke out against Turkey's E.U. ambitions as recently as last month, the bloc has since refrained from making Turkey's entry, or E.U. enlargement in general, a major issue in the campaign.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | Plane searchers spot ocean debris

Brazilian aircraft searching for an Air France jet which went missing with 228 people aboard in an Atlantic storm have spotted debris on the ocean.

Some oil, a plane seat and other items were sighted 650km (400 miles) north-east of Brazil's Fernando de Noronha island, the Brazilian air force said.

The find can only be confirmed once the items are retrieved and the first boat is not due to arrive until Wednesday.

The jet was heading from Brazil to Paris when it vanished early on Monday.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:43:08 PM EST
Pss! Wanna buy some votes? -  Il Sole-24 Ore/Presseurop

Times change, but one tradition in the south of Italy appears to be here to stay: the buying and selling of votes. Three candidates in the European elections told us about their experience, and how they were offered all-in packages at unbeatable prices, from as little as 80 cents a ballot.

Everything is up for sale in the European free-market for votes. On 20 May, Giacomo Mancini was canvassing in Puglia hoping to convince punters in the province of Bari to vote for him when he received a call on his mobile phone. He has had the same number for eight years; thousands of people must know it. "The man on the end of the line said he was a political activist, and asked if we could meet. We arranged a rendezvous in Andria. I am someone who has always lived among the people, and I have always flown the flag for transparency."

At the meeting, a surprise was in store. Mancini found himself speaking to three men who explained that they controlled ten polling divisions and could provide him with a package of 2,000 guaranteed votes. "To get those crosses next to my name, I just had to pay 3,000 euros." At that price, it was a bargain: €1.50 a vote. "My team and I had a few laughs talking about how we could buy our way into office, but not before I had seen off the three stooges. I just told them, I don't buy votes, I win them." And how did the trio react? "There was no reaction; they just walked off. They were probably going to make the same pitch to another candidate."

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:47:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are the powers of the European Parliament? | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 01.06.2009
The European Parliament has the final say over a wide range of European Union legislative, budgetary and oversight decisions, which affect the lives of the nearly 500 million people living in the 27-member bloc.  

LEGISLATIVE POWERS: Parliament shares legislative powers equally with the Council of the European Union. This means it is empowered to adopt European laws, directives and regulations.

It can accept, amend, or reject the content of European legislation proposed by the Council, or the European Commission. More specifically, it can legislate on issues, such as the free movement of workers, education, market policies and environmental protection.

Parliament has only a "consultative" role on judicial issues, foreign policy, taxation, industrial policy and in agricultural affairs, but EU member states are not bound to follow the parliament's opinion.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:47:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Merkel and Sarkozy in joint call for 'strong Europe'

With only a few days left to the 4-7 June European elections, Germany and France's centre-right leaders, chancellor Angela Merkel and president Nicolas Sarkozy, have made a joint call on Europeans to head to the polls in the name of a "strong Europe."

In a shared opinion piece published on Sunday (31 May) by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper in France and Die Welt am Sonntag in Germany, the two politicians said they wanted "a strong Europe that protects [its citizens]."

Mr Sarkozy and Ms Merkel called on "all Europeans" to vote in this week's elections

"A strong Europe does not necessarily mean more powers for the European Union, even more European legislation or even more financial means," Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy wrote.

"We refuse a bureaucratic Europe that mechanically applies the rules ... We want a European Union that listens to the citizens, innovates, revitalises."

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Guide to the 2009 European Elections

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The seventh elections to the European Parliament since the chamber became a democratic elected institution in 1979 are just days away. From 4-7 June, around 375 million eligible voters out of a population of just under 500 million will be able to cast their ballot, making these the largest transnational elections in the world.

If it's Saturday and I live in Guadeloupe, am I allowed to vote yet? (

However, while it's a pan-European vote, due to national traditions, polling takes place on different days in different countries - and in one case, voting even occurs on different days depending on which part of the country you live in.

Here is a simple guide to the elections - who votes when; who is running; and, most importantly, when the results will be clear.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Pirate Bay / Vote or die...

The 4-7th of june it's time for elections to the European parliament again. Some say it doesn't matter if you vote, some say it's just an election between a douche and a turd and all the politicians try to convice you that they all know whats best for you.

No matter what you think of the above, we have seen a lot of new very disturbing laws and directives from the EU these last years (telecom package, ipred, the data retention directive). Laws that each member country then are obliged to follow. So yes, it does matter who we elect! We at The Pirate Bay have our different political views and don't want to shove any politics down your throat, but we want you to vote! After all, it only takes a few minutes of your time. Please use the comments field below to explain how You will vote!

Linked by a very clear picture on the frontpage.

I suspect this one act will have more effect then the silly gotv campaign that the EU has sponsored in this neck of the woods:

Translation: Everybody votes except Emma, because she is at home.

In swedish it rhymes but that does not improve it much.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 05:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:43:33 PM EST
France says this is no time to be strict about Maastricht | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.06.2009
In the fog of the global economic crisis, France has called on Brussels to relax the Maastricht stability pact criteria thereby cutting EU countries some slack over mounting budget deficits. 

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said EU countries ought to reconsider applying the bloc's rules on fiscal spending.


Many EU countries have reacted to the economic downturn with emergency stimulus bills, which have blown out national budgets. Lagarde said the situation should be treated as a one-off.


 "It is my opinion that deficits brought about as a result of the crisis should be treated separately," Lagarde told the German newspaper.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:49:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / France wants to loosen eurozone rules

France wants the European Union to soften its stance on budget deficits in response to the economic crisis - a move which would alter the EU's stability pact on which the bloc's common currency is based.

"We should think about a special treatment for the debts currently acquired as a consequence of the crisis," French economy minister Christine Lagarde told Financial Times Deutschland.

Finance ministers will discuss the issue next week

She said several member states now have budget deficits as a result of economic stimulus packages and the EU should adopt a milder stance towards the deficits.

"I have no precise answer how we should proceed, but we need a debate," she said.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:53:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because loosening fiscal rules have such a great track record of averting financial disasters.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:55:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Changes to EU fund hope to tackle rising unemployment

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Unemployment is continuing its rise in the European Union, with new data released by the region's statistics office, Eurostat, showing the figure reached 8.6 percent in April, up from 8.4 percent in March.

The data released on Tuesday (2 June) show an even greater jump for the 16-country euro area, with unemployment reaching 9.2 percent in April compared to 8.9 percent in March.

EU unemployment is set to rise this and next year, predicts the European commission.

But European commission economy spokeswoman Amelia Torres says this does not necessarily mean EU27 unemployment will exceed a recent commission forecast of an average rate of 9.4 percent for 2009.

"The economy seems to be bottoming out and in the coming months, although we are expecting unemployment to increase, it is possible that it will not increase as strongly as it has done in the past few months," she told EUobserver.

Eurostat now estimates that close to 21 million people in the EU27 were unemployed in April, highlighting the severity of the problem despite recent talk by economists about the green shoots of recovery.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:51:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Split over Lessons of Crisis: UK, Ireland Resist Push for More Financial Regulation - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The European Union is split over how best to apply the lessons of the global downturn to the regulation of financial markets. Countries like Germany want tighter controls on risky deals and exotic securities, but the UK, Ireland and parts of Eastern Europe are fighting for free markets.

Peer Steinbrück's face always darkens when he is asked how much more taxpayers' money he will need to bail out the banks. "I don't know," says the German finance minister. "I won't know until after the fact." And when he is asked how he feels, late in the evening after a cabinet meeting in Berlin or a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels, Steinbrück sometimes grumbles in response: "Lousy!"

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent stuff from Niels C Jensen referred to here...

Green Shoots or Smoking Weed? - Credit Writedowns

But that is not the point I want to make. In December 2006, only a few months after the peak of the housing bull market, the total value of US residential property stood at $21.9 trillion. Prices have dropped by 31% since the end of 2006, so the estimated value today is about $15 trillion; however, the mortgage debt remains more or less unchanged and stands at $10.6 trillion. In other words, whereas debt-to-equity in the US housing market was 48% as recently as in December 2006, it is now 70% and will rise to 80% once house prices have mean-reverted.

Wealth is extremely skewed Although painful, a rise in debt-to-equity of that magnitude would actually be manageable if it weren't for the fact that income and wealth in the US is extremely skewed. The top 1% of income earners in the US account for a whopping 23% of national income while the median household has seen no improvement in income for the past ten years (see chart 1). Wealth is even more unevenly distributed. Almost 34% of all wealth in the US is held by the wealthiest 1% of the US population.

The same picture emerges when you look at home ownership. Almost one-third of all US households have no mortgage. If you adjust for that, the 70-80% debt-to-equity ratio suddenly becomes a major challenge because it means that the two-thirds who do have a mortgage already face a debt-to-equity ratio in excess of 100%. Even worse, once the mean reversion has run its course, two-thirds of US households will be facing a debt-to-equity ratio of 120-125% on average.

US consumers are broke That is a shocking number and it blows a huge hole through the heart of the green shoots campaign so valiantly promoted by most of the mainstream media in recent weeks. The poorest two-thirds of US households are effectively broke, whether they realise it or not.

Obviously, households have assets and liabilities other than property and mortgages. Deutsche Bank has created a measure of liquid assets to liabilities which is illustrated in chart 2 below. As you can see, there has been significant damage done to households' balance sheets in recent years. The first wave (2000-03) was mostly a function of the collapse of the dot com bubble. The second wave (2007- ) has come about as a result of the more recent collapse in property and share prices. It is probably fair to say that US households are more financially stressed than at any time since the Great Depression.

You only have to go back to the 1950s and early 1960s to find marginal tax rates of 90% in the US (President Roosevelt's so-called `New Deal'). My guess is that before Obama's first term is over the US will endure marginal tax rates of at least 60%.

So how is it possible for an economy to recover if two-thirds of its people are bankrupt and the remaining one-third will be taxed to death? It isn't!!!

Not with taxation on earned income and deficit-based money, it isn't.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 03:37:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:43:53 PM EST
The World From Berlin: GM Insolvency 'Proves America's Global Power is Waning' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The insolvency of General Motors shows America's weakening industrial clout and poses major risks not just for the economy but for Barack Obama, write German media commentators. If the planned restructuring of the automaker fails, his economic policy will lie in ruins, they say.

General Motors, once the world's largest automaker and a rock-solid icon of America's industrial might for much of its 100-year history, filed for insolvency on Monday and will receive an additional $30 billion in taxpayer funds in a restructuring that will turn it into a slimmed-down, mostly government-owned company.

 General Motors Corp's world headquarters in Detroit. President Barack Obama has said he is confident GM can emerge quickly from bankruptcy and has pledged a "hands-off" approach, saying the government has been thrust into a reluctant position as controlling shareholder.

The carmaker is expected to shed more than 35,000 jobs, leaving fewer than 200,000 in its revamp. Obama wants GM to emerge from court protection in as little as 60 to 90 days.

German media commentators say GM's insolvency marks further proof of American's waning economic influence in the world, and they express concern that Obama's administration, despite its assurances that it won't interfere in GM's business, will distort competition by running the firm according to political rather than market principles.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:51:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will believe "America's Global Power is Waning" when I see them closing endless military bases all over the world. For now it's just looking like they are shifting expenses somewhere else.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 10:08:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Politicus - U.S. Gives Absolution to Its Allies - NYTimes.com

A couple of years ago, Robert Gates, then George W. Bush's secretary of defense and now President Barack Obama's, complained and complained and complained about the inadequate, second-rate efforts of America's NATO allies in trying to turn around what had the looks of a losing battle in Afghanistan.

He said those few in the fight in the country's south did not know how to combat the Taliban guerrilla insurgency. As for the rest, Mr. Gates, sounding very irritated 18 months back, described himself "not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan."

Presto, change-o. It's June 2009 and this just in from Oslo, where the NATO Parliamentary Assembly met last week: absolution. For the first time in years, said one of those attending, Denis MacShane, a Labor member of Parliament and a former minister of state for Europe in the British government, no Europeans got their heads banged "for not dying and refusing to pull their weight."

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:59:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh..there is no one who can "win" war in Afghanistan and they know it.It is all farce and I feel for very young solders that are dieing over there.Not to mention civilians there. Like Gates and his ilk care...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 10:15:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wrong venue for Obama's Muslim speech - Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs
Why should the president of the United States address the "Muslim world", as Barack Obama will do in Egypt this Thursday? What would happen if the leader of a big country addressed the "Christian world"? Half the world would giggle and the other half would sulk.

There is no such thing as a Christian world, of course; there hasn't been since the Great Schism of 1054, even less so since the Reformation. Europe's nations agreed at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 to subordinate the confessional to political sovereignty. America, the new model of a nation, kept church separate from state. To utter the words "Christian world" would

There is no "Christian world" to address because Christianity has become a private religion of personal conscience. Few Christian denominations aspire to the status of state religion; the Catholic Church abandoned earthly power at the Second Vatican Council in 1965. No Christian denomination aspires to world power. A "Christian world", in short, is not even a fantasy, let alone a fact, and to pronounce the words would be an absurdity.
by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:09:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Contractors in Afghanistan - Moon of Alabama

According to a Department of Defense report during the first quarter of the year there were 68,197 DoD contractors working in Afghanistan.

Those were 9,378 U.S. citizens, 7,043 from other foreign countries and 51,776 Afghans.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't believe news this morning.

Free public healthcare in Australia may disappear in the next five years and be replaced by a US-style system, NSW Health director-general Debora Picone says.

First of all IT'S NOT FREE.

It is financed through progressive income tax and an income-related Medicare levy.

"We are really on the edge of losing the universal healthcare system that this country has," Professor Picone told News Ltd.

"I would have (previously) said we'd had 10 years to run.

"It's now looking like we've got five years to run because the cost escalations are so significant and we haven't prepared ourselves."

And this news came under Labor government.And now in time of recession when everybody can see himself unemployed and insecure in every single way.

Does every single shit has to happen in my life time???
This country for the time I have been here is constantly heading American way and I did not like it one bit.Now this!
I voted for Labor in fear of conservatives but REALLY there is no difference at all (not that I did not feel it before).State Labor government here in Queensland is planing to sell and privatize EVERYTHING.

A MASSIVE sell-off of state-owned assets will be unveiled today by Premier Anna Bligh, raising the Government billions of dollars and helping to reduce the Budget's deficit.  

So that's how they are going to fight recession that THEY (bloody governments of both sides)MADE??? Put the bloody costs on people's back instead of taxing all those billionaires that are paying $35 annually in tax ( I remember when his father paid $35 the year when my poor husband had to pay tens of thousands) and are making Casinos in Macau.

$1.5 billion City of Dreams casino,

Now they are showering us with a news like this :

JAMES Packer's burgeoning casino operation in Macau is the latest victim of the global economic downturn.

So we have to feel for him while they are taking Medicare out which is a life line for people of this country.
As of 30 June 2005 there were over 20.5 million people registered for Medicare benefits and over 236 million services were processed in the July 2004-June 2005 period.

I am really fuming here. If it can happen in Australia be aware it can happen in Europe or anywhere else.
Looks like when we are old and sick we 'll have to go to live in Serbia (if it hopefully fail to become part of EU at the time) and have what ever kind of Health care (better then nothing).At least I will know I have to bribe a good doctor to get in to the hospital and have care cause here I will need thousands of dollars just to enter hospital (which I am not going to have).
Huhh...if Australians let all this shit pass then they deserve it.But one way or another there is no one decent to vote here and I am definitely NOT VOTING ever again.
All over the developed world they are scraping our rights and services while they are scaring us with cold-worm kinds of news about recession (one day it's going to be catastrophe next day it's over)and other news about new killer viruses, climate change catastrophe and many other calamities so when we go to bed at night we just say to our selves : "thankfully we are (still) alive"...and every single shit will pass without serious protest.I am sick of the today world...to be honest.
I am going to Serbia in few weeks and am almost scared what I am going to find there...    


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

by vbo on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 09:40:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I forgot to say that this is a huge price to pay for a pipe dream that they made us believe in this country :
that every single family should have 300m2 home and at least two SUVs (not to mention designers clothes and plasma TVs in every single room etc.) by going in to the totally unrealistic debts.
The price will come in many crucial things for the survival...When (if) will people wake up?  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 09:51:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Attention, Democratic LiberalProgressive POLL-smokers! | Jacksonville Observer | 2 June 2009

In the [Gannett] survey, Americans were inclined to accept the argument by Cheney and former president George W. Bush that the detention center had made the U.S. safer. By 40 percent-18 percent, they said the prison had strengthened national security rather than weakened it. Those who want the prison to remain open feel more strongly on the subject that those who want to close it. A 54 percent majority of those polled say the prison shouldn't be closed, and that they'll be upset if the administration moves forward to close it.

How can this beeee?! Mr Obama wants to close the prison at Guantanamo. "Everyone" must have heard this promise before election day yet a "landslide" of votes carried him to electoral victory. Who knew the US Senate had affirmed, nay, overwhelmingly endorsed a people's will? Why Sam Brownback! Consider Amdt. 1140 to the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009, again. After all, Mr Obama will not veto it.

(Page S5643)
Sec. 315. (a) Findings.--The Senate makes the following findings: ...(2) The Senate specifically recognized the concerns of local communities in a 2007 resolution, adopted by the Senate on a 94-3 vote, stating that "detainees housed at Guantanamo should not be released into American society, nor should they be transferred stateside into facilities in American communities and neighborhoods". ...

Lo, Mr Obama's actual community organizing skillz can no more be surpressed in Washington than were the Capitol itself Chicago ...or Springfield ...

(b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate that the Secretary of Defense should consult with State and local government officials before making any decision about where detainees at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, might be transferred, housed, or otherwise incarcerated as a result of the implementation of the Executive Order of the President to close the detention facilities at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

Bonus. A so-called Cornyn Amdt., 1139, the text of which as submitted on Page S5641, immediately preceding that sanctimonious declaration of states' rights. Let us ponder "legal questions posed" by CIA and executive branch officials, for they are be disappeared.

(17) Congress has previously established a defense for persons who engaged in operational practices in the war on terror in good faith reliance on advice of counsel that the practices were lawful. [provisions of the MCA of 2006 indemnifying US agents*] ...

(18)(b) (b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate that no person who provided input into the legal opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice analyzing the legality of the enhanced interrogation program [Yoo whooooo, Bybee!], nor any person who relied in good faith on those opinions, nor any member of Congress who was briefed on the enhanced interrogation program and did not object to the program going forward should be prosecuted or otherwise sanctioned.

Next Week: McAuliffe Goes Legit!

(*)Public Law 09-366 §8. Revisions to Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 Relating to Protection of Certain United States Government Personnel

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:04:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shattered and Shuttered - Clusterfuck Nation
Even though I've seen plenty of desolation like it in other parts of the country -- the back roads of Ohio, the Mississippi River towns of the upper Midwest, the morbid stretch of blue highway between Memphis and Little Rock -- I've never encountered a landscape so shattered by the mere ravages of economic fate.
     The most striking feature is how all the things once so "modern," all the roadside business enterprises designed along "space age" motifs -- the car dealerships with boomerang-shaped signs, the rocket-ship-style food huts, the schools that look like atomic power installations -- all teeter now in sublime decrepitude. The reversal of spirit from childlike exuberance of the 1960s to the senile sclerosis of today said everything about where America is at. Much of what existed before the space age is not even there anymore, bulldozed decades ago in our haste to erase pre-drive-in living, as if it branded us a lower life-form than, say, our arch-enemy, the Soviets.  I've wondered for many years what Modernism would be like when time finally passed it by, when it was no longer the sole thing it declared itself to be, up-to-date -- and there it was smeared all over the landscape like so much road kill.

What was left of "the action" had shifted to a ghastly franchise strip along the Route 3 connector to I-81.  This stretch of highway was clearly where all the money had gone since, say 1976, though mostly to the pavement itself and its heroic furnishings of signage, light poles, multiple turning lanes, and curb cuts. The buildings were little more than packing crates with a few plastic doo-dads stuck on. You had to wonder if all this stuff would ever see another iteration of repair and restoration.  I doubt it.
    Burger King was doing some kind of promotion in its Watertown huts and the marquee in their several parking lots proclaimed -- I swear to God -- "Ask us about our Angry Burger."  WTF? Is the rage of lumpen America so repressed now that it can only be expressed in menu items that turn people into hulking four-hundred-pound monsters?

All this was occurring against the background of General Motors looming bankruptcy, an epochal moment in US history, like losing a limb or a loved one. The US Government has decided to drive a Chevrolet off the cliff Thelma and Louise style.  We were heading there anyway, so why not make the trip in air-conditioned comfort, with plenty of room for all the family members, and on-board video entertainment for the little ones.  In fact, it may not be the bankruptcy of GM itself that will amaze and appall the other nations of the world, so much as the US government's pretense that the company can return to health in just a little while and pay back all the money that the citizenry has allowed to be sucked into its black hole of losses.

so sad. all that fools' gold. pretty soon they'll be asking the indians for tips on how to live in tipis and snare rabbits.

and the wheel will have turned full circle, and the redman prophets proved right.

and we whitefellas relearn the meaning of 'sustainable'.

next to their great oratory, obama is a beginner.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 07:40:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:44:20 PM EST
France 24 | Draft climate text under fire at Bonn talks | France 24
180 nations are meeting in Bonn to discuss the first draft of a new global warming treaty. The draft includes several conflicting proposals to reduce carbon emissions, pointing to tough negotiations ahead.

- Rich and poor countries criticised a first draft text of a new United Nations climate treaty on Monday but grudgingly accepted it as the basis for six months of arduous negotiations.


"We ... have some dismay about the way it has been structured," Jonathan Pershing, head of the U.S. delegation at the June 1-12 talks among 180 nations in Bonn, said of a 53-page draft outlining ideas from all countries.


"This text should contain more balance," said Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim of Sudan, speaking on behalf of 130 developing countries including China and India.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:44:41 PM EST
German politicians press EU to fight Google Books project | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 02.06.2009
German politicians are urging the EU to take strong action against Internet giant Google's plans to digitize millions of books, which they say could have damaging consequences for cultural and media policy in Europe. 

In an interview with German daily Handelsblatt on Tuesday, Germany's Culture Secretary Bernd Naumann said Google's vast online library project, Google Books, was a cause for concern in Europe.

"This move has an impact on cultural and media policy that we need to put on a European level," Neumann told the paper.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also told the paper that Google's controversial book-scanning program raised worrying questions about copyright infringements.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:46:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google's controversial book-scanning program raised worrying questions about copyright infringements.

I think he is mis-understnading google's intent, possibly deliberately. AFAIK they intend to do historic books and those out of copyright and out of print.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 04:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Modern-day Von Trapps take on Austria's far-right | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

It may not be a family and its members will never be forced to flee Austria, but just like the Von Trapps, an Alpine choir is taking on the growing far-right. Their mission is to foster tolerance and cultural understanding at a time when Austrian voters are expected to endorse two far-right parties at the upcoming European elections. Like the Von Trapps in The Sound of Music, the Oisternig singers are using the power of song. 

The choir is based in Carinthia, a rural region bordering Italy and Slovenia dubbed as "Haiderland" on account of being the heartland of the late Jörg Haider's Future of Austria Party (BZÖ). Despite losing its charismatic leader in October, when Haider was killed in a car crash, the party's popularity soared in spring regional elections and is expected to do well in this week's European votes.
Ancient folksongs

In the tiny border village of Feistritz where the choir rehearses, beautiful ancient folksongs have been brought back to life, sung in Slovenian, Italian and the region's local dialects. As they put down their sheets, and stop for a break, the chatty choir members explain that the significance of their singing in Slovenian is huge, given how the language has been effectively been stigmatised and suppressed from Carinthia since 1945, despite a large community of Slovenians there. They worry that the BZÖ will again fan regional tensions.
"We have decided to sing in Slovenian, Italian and all the local dialects so that we can reach out and try connect people again through song and show how this rich local tradition is part of all of us here,"
says Daniela Assek, a sparkly soprano, adding that the choir tours extensively in the region and even as far as the US. "Our mission is to show that we are one large family with a complex history that binds everyone here together."

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Khrushchev Connection: Who Ordered the Construction of the Berlin Wall? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Historians have long argued over whether East German leader Walter Ulbricht or his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev was ultimately responsible for the construction of the Berlin Wall. A newly discovered Russian document from August 1961 provides some answers.

They met in Stalingrad, where they fought on the same side in 1942. One of them, the son of a miner from Ukraine, organized the city's defenses against the German Wehrmacht forces, while the other, a German exile, used a bullhorn to encourage infantrymen to change sides. This much is certain, and it is also certain that the two men -- the impulsive Kremlin dictator Nikita Khrushchev and the calculating founder of the German Democratic Republic, Walter Ulbricht -- were never overly fond of each other.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 02:00:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:45:03 PM EST
Why truth is a casualty of war in the battle of 'Obama Beach' - Europe, World - The Independent

In the history of British bloody-mindedness, "Obama Beach" is one of the greatest calamities. Rarely have so many people been sent all verbal guns blazing into an all-out assault on a scandal whose basic facts have been so wilfully misrepresented.

False fact one: The French have "snubbed" the Queen by failing to invite her to celebrate the 65th anniversary of D-Day on Saturday. President Barack Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend an "international ceremony" but not the British/Canadian head of state.

False fact two: The British government, and diplomatic service, have behaved despicably because they failed to ensure that the Queen was sent an invitation by the French.

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:54:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Prince of Wales to attend 65th D-Day anniversary - Telegraph
The Prince of Wales is to attend the 65th anniversary celebrations of D-Day after the intervention of President Barack Obama, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The change of heart came after White House officials put pressure on the French government to invite the Queen who was kept off the original guest list by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Late on Monday night, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said: "We are working with those involved to see that it happens."

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:58:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really couldn't care less which of these posturing ninnies hogs the limelight. The D-Day commemorations are too big to be either enhanced or diminished in any way by the presence of contemporary politicians.

They can come or not come. Whatever. Those of us who care for what was done 65 years ago and respect the sacrifice of that era will pay attention to the important thing and ignore the pygmies who attempt to grandstand their own petty concerns.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 04:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Silvio Berlusconi supporters counter allegations over Noemi Letizia - Times Online

Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi were accused yesterday of starting a media campaign to discredit individuals who have spoken out about the Prime Minister's relationship with an aspiring teenage model.

With the European elections only days away, supporters of Mr Berlusconi are fighting to counter allegations concerning his relationship with Noemi Letizia.

Ms Letizia's presence at a party held by Mr Berlusconi when she was 17 was acknowledged only after it was revealed by her former boyfriend, Gino Flaminio, who claimed that 30 to 40 girls attended.

He originally cast doubts on claims by Mr Berlusconi and Benedetto Letizia, Ms Letizia's father, that the Prime Minister had known the family for years.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid Richard Owen is far too diplomatic. Although the title is certainly not his, it is misleading. Il Giornale can hardly be classified as a Berlusconi "supporter." Quite simply, it belongs to the Berlusconi galaxy.

In short there have been several cases of entrapment and outright calumny here. Since the false charges have been made by MP's they are relatively immune from civil or criminal suits. Most notable ex-Minister of the Communications, Maurizio Gasparri, who accused Gino Flaminio of accepting payment for the now famous Repubblica interview. Then il Giornale sought to entrap Flaminio in Naples.  

At the same time an Eastern European Big Brother showgirl, Laura Drezwicka, tried to entrap l'Espresso by offering for a price an exclusive interview with pictures of her close encounters with Gran Gluteus, the Superb. The entrapment was set up in the same restaurant used days before by il Giornale to sting Gino.

The two reporters for l'Espresso didn't fall for the scam and have put the service on line with the audio.

Berlusconi is somewhat worried about his position in the polls although according to him, he still has 73% of the Italians behind him.

Following the allegations launched by the fascist chic Sophonisba, Daniela Santanché, that his estranged wife has a long standing affair with her body guard, Berlusconi did not distance himself publicly from Santanché. He was on the contrary outspoken about the foreign press, accusing Murdoch of conspiring against him through the Times, a paper "that counts as nothing."

But Pirgopolinice gave the best of his moral stature in a discussion with his party MP's. He declared that it bothered him to be called a cuckold. He then added, "A day has passed and "la signora" has not denied the accusations. So what am I to think?"

"There was a pact with Veronica and she broke it. A pact concerning our private life. She modified our agreement with an interview to la Repubblica. At that point I was liberated."

For the record it is highly unlikely that Veronica Lario will make a public statement. She has only made two in the past month, one quite lapidary in a letter asking for divorce and asserting that her dignity as a woman would not tolerate the presence of "trash" and a husband that "hangs out" with minors (plural).

In her interview with il Corriere on May 22, she expressed her pain and solitude in front of the media barrage depicting her as unstable and plagiarised by occult advisors. Lario did not react publicly to the preceding attack by Berlusconi's Libero which published frontal nude photos of her.

Libero is well known to aficionados of Italian intrigue for it's crucial role in the most squalid journalistic campaigns of the preceding Berlusconi government, such as the Niger forgeries (in which Renato Farina menaced Rocco Martino), the Abu Omar case, the Telecom Sismi scandal, the Telekom Serbia scandal. The vice-director, Renato Farina, was stripped of his reporter status when it was discovered he was a paid spy who sought to entrap the Milan procura over the Abu Omar case.

Through her refusal to make public statements, Berlusconi is insinuating that his wife effectively has a relation with her bodyguard, Alberto Orlandi.

Another issue is the use of state aircraft to shuttle his minstrels and playmates around- when he's not using them to weekend in Messegué beauty farms. At issue is whether it is a violation of the law. Apparently it isn't. Berlusconi simply had it rewritten and passed through parliament legalizing this practice- much to the curiosity of the British Parliament. Eliogabulus can now transport his granite phalli garlanded by choruses of bare-breasted Catholic virgins across Balkan dale at the expense of Italian taxpayers. The burden of public office.

A closing note on Maurizio Gasparri, responsible for a communication law that handed everything over to Berlusconi, a law condemned by the European court. Having passed his life adulating il Duce to the point he sports the same basedowoidi stare and insufferable nasal bitchiness, he has little else to do than grow gills so he needn't come up for air. It's a pleasure to see the pusillanimous governor of Puglia, Nichi Vendola, tell him to "fuck off" over the Mills' verdict (listen to the closing seconds). Sometimes television has its golden moments.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 06:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm off to my end of the study year evaluations. Wish me luck!

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 01:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
all the best, tzt!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 03:17:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Passed all my courses with OK grades. On to the third year, but first.... vacation!

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--

by tzt (tzt) on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 02:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's great! Congratulation and enjoy your vacation. :-)
by Fran on Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 02:33:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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