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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 11 May

by Fran Sun May 10th, 2009 at 02:11:49 PM EST

On this date in history:

1935 – Francisco Umbral, a Spanish journalist, novelist, biographer and essayist, was born. (d. 2007)

More here and here

Welcome to the European Salon!

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by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:04:40 AM EST
Criticism grows ahead of top-level Afghan German meeting in Berlin | World | Deutsche Welle | 10.05.2009
Regional security and Germany's role in Afghanistan's reconstruction top the agenda for Sunday's meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in Berlin.  

The talks between Merkel and Karzai are expected to focus on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the ongoing fight against the Islamist Taliban and the increasingly dangerous situation faced by German troops in northern Afghanistan.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported in its latest edition that the Taliban was planning massive attacks on German soldiers to put pressure on politicians as the September general election draws close.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:07:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany says US data on Guantanamo inmates insufficient | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 10.05.2009
The German government says it cannot accept any detainees from the Guantanamo prison facility until Washington provides more information on them and answers some key questions.  

In a newspaper interview published on Sunday, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble complained that Washington had not yet provided sufficient information for Germany to act on resettling Guantanamo detaineees.

Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported that Washington had provided Berlin with a list of nine Chinese Muslims, members of the Uighur ethnic group, that it hoped Germany would offer refuge to.

"The information that we've received so far from Washington is insufficient for us to take a decision on whether to accept any one of the cases," Schaueble told the paper. 

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:07:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well they must be very busy prosecuting the German officials who cooperated in rendition.
by rootless2 on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 04:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First EU-Pakistan summit as bloc attempts to boost ties | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.05.2009
The European Union presidency plans to hold the bloc's first ever summit with Pakistan, in an attempt to help strengthen the country's civilian government.  

That's according to the Czech EU presidency source who released the information. He also said the summit will be held within weeks, with June 17 given as the provisional date.

The fight against terrorism -- including in neighboring Afghanistan -- is expected to top the meeting's agenda, but enhanced cooperation over the rule of law and measures to improve trade relations should also be discussed.

"The EU wants to help strengthen the civilian government in Pakistan by showing strong support on the highest level," the EU source said.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:08:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Tens of thousands rally to renew calls for Saakashvili's resignation | France 24
Some 20,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament building in the Georgian capital Tbilisi as opposition leaders pushed for talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili following a month of demonstrations demanding his resignation.

AFP - Thousands of protesters rallied in the Georgian capital Saturday as opposition leaders pressed for a meeting with President Mikheil Saakashvili after a month of demonstrations demanding his ouster.
In a show of strength on the one-month anniversary of the start of protests, about 20,000 opposition supporters gathered outside parliament in central Tbilisi, calling for the president to resign by chanting "Misha Go!"
The protest came after the government and opposition leaders on Friday failed to make any progress in resolving the political stand-off during their first talks since protests began.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:08:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saakashvili has apparently agreed to meet with the oppostion today. The positions seemed to be rather locked, so I doubt it'll yield much...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 03:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain clamps down on disco 'auctioning' girls - Europe, World - The Independent

The Granada disco called it an "auction of single teenage girls," and the gawky boys who showed up for this afternoon fiesta were given monopoly money to bid on the lass of their choice. The highest bidder won a free soft drink with his dream date at the VIP lounge.

The disco, Granada 10, said the auction was a common gimmick used by Spanish nightclubs to attract the acne-prone crowd during off-peak hours. But Spain's politically correct Ministry of Equality did not enjoy the joke.

It has called for an investigation by the regional prosecutor on children's affairs to determine whether this teenage romp constitutes gender discrimination and if so, who should be held responsible. "This event is deplorable, sexist, rancid and out-of-date, from another era," said the 32-year-old Equality Minister, Bibiana Aido (pictured right).

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:10:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1.    MPs' expenses: Tony Blair facing questions over the £296,000 mortgage - Telegraph
Tony Blair is facing fresh questions over how he funded his multi-million-pound property empire after details of the former Prime Minister's claims were leaked to The Sunday Telegraph.

The documents show that Mr Blair remortgaged his constituency home for £296,000, almost 10 times what he paid for it, months before he bought his town house in London for £3.65 million. Mr Blair was able to claim on his parliamentary expenses for the interest repayments on almost a third of the new mortgage on his constituency home.

The amount loaned was sufficient to cover the deposit on his house in Connaught Square, west London, one of five properties owned by the former prime minister, valued at £10 million in total.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:13:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Emergency plan for independent audit of MPs' expenses - Times Online

MPs' expenses will be scrutinised by a new audit body policed by professional, external accountants under emergency plans being drawn up this weekend, it emerged today.

Sir Stuart Bell, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough who is one of those responsible for the current rules governing MPs' claims, said today: "In all probability tomorrow the Commission will approve a special specific audit unit, hived off from the fees office, independent of the fees office which will verify in future every claim that's made by any Member of Parliament."

He explained that the plans included hiring professional accountants who were "outside individuals" to comb through and verify new expense claims before signing them off.

Sir Stuart also said that he expected that there will be a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow to apologise to the public over the expenses and second home debacle.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 12:53:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Immigrants hurt in Greek violence

Five immigrants have been injured after far-right demonstrators tried to storm a disused courthouse in Athens occupied mainly by illegal migrants from Africa.

Dozens of protesters hurled stones and fireworks at the eight-storey building on Saturday night, while those living inside threw bricks and masonry slabs.

Police said nine officers were also injured in the violence.

Three youths were arrested over the attack, which came after a march by the anti-immigrant Golden Dawn group.

The protesters waved banners reading "Foreigners mean crime" and "We have become foreigners in our own country".

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:05:01 AM EST
Jon Worth » PES is not backing Barroso, but is not backing anyone. Confused?

I've been hammering on and on at the PES and the issue of why socialists have not been able to nominate a candidate for President of the Commission to follow Barroso when the Portuguese's term of office ends 31st October this year. The story behind all of this gets immensely complex - I'm going to try to set the record straight as far as I see it.

Essentially there is a disagreement between the Party of European Socialists, headed up by party president Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, and 3 of the PES member parties. Those 3 parties, and their party leaders, namely Socrates in Portugal, Zapatero in Spain and Brown in the UK, are quite happy with Barroso being re-nominated as President of the Commission as this re-nomination suits their own petty national interests, and also - especially for the UK - the fact that Barroso is weak also helps his cause.

In the opposite camp are MEPs in the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and leaders of some of Europe's social democrat parties that are out of power nationally. For them they need a strong message for the election campaigns on why a social europe is possible and desirable, and accomplishing that with Barroso in place is not going to be easy. So hence we have Rasmussen in an interview in Le Monde stating "Si une autre majorité se dégage, M. Barroso ne pourra pas être reconduit", and he also stated in Financial Times Deutschland "Wir wollen nach der Europaparlamentswahl zusammen mit anderen Parteien einen anderen Kommissionspräsidenten wählen".

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:09:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See this diary.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 07:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I recently blogged that the European elections are not about Gordon Brown's leadership.

http://thehoneyballbuzz.com/2009/05/05/the-european-elections-are-about-more-than-gordon-browns-lead ership/

Neither are they about MPs, expenses.  Although I have no wish to comment on the revelations brought to us by that great bastion of progressive jouralism, the Daily Telegraph",  in relation to individual MP colleagues, there are, I believe, some general points which need to be made.

Firstly, wherever this saga of MPs and their allowances goes, it plays no part in the European elections.  On 4th June the country will be voting for representatives in the European Parliament.  It is neither a vote about who runs Britain or a vote about the behaviour of British MPs.  It is, purely and simply, an election to chose representatives in the European Parliament.  The conduct of some Members of the British Parliament and the system used to pay their allowances has no bearing whatsoever on the 4th June poll.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britons urged to take EU pub quiz - Telegraph
European Union officials have enlisted one of Britain's most popular pastimes, the pub quiz, in their battle to win over the public.

The office of the European Parliament in London has devised a special quiz to celebrate Europe Day, an annual celebration which was marked across the continent on Saturday.

Questions include: How many staff does the European Commission employ? How many time zones are there in the European Union? What is EU's guiding principle which means decisions should be taken as close to the citizen as possible?

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:14:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Green EU election profiler website launched - Dutch news - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English
The Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment has launched a European election profiling website specifically focused on nature and the environment. Visitors to groendekieswijzer.nl can fill in their responses to statements on issues ranging from nuclear power to animal welfare. The website then indicates which political party programme corresponds most closely to their views. With the exception of the right wing populist Freedom Party, all parties cooperated with the profiler. The Society for Nature and Environment compiled the profiler because most environmental legislation is made at European Union level.
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 01:40:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:05:22 AM EST
Page F30: Norway's electric car maker Think has 2000 vehicle orders and no capital
Norway's Think is an electric car maker that has a product called the Think City that is pretty close to perfect for an electric vehicle at current technology that the average person can afford. It looks nice enough, costs under $20,000, goes 210 km on a single charge, has a maximum speed of 105 kph (the only highway certified electric car besides the ones Tesla makes). If you've never seen this car before first take a look at these two videos. The first one is in English and gives a good introduction to the car and the company's aspirations in the United States, and the second is in Dutch and simply shows what it's like to drive it.
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:14:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
costs under $20,000

Should probably read: "would cost under $20,000 assuming sales of n hundred thousand units/year for ten years".

Otherwise it's vaporware.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 03:51:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AP sources: Obama wants Fed to be finance supercop

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve could become the supercop for "too big to fail" companies capable of causing another financial meltdown under a proposal being seriously considered by the White House.

The Obama administration told industry officials on Friday that it was leaning toward making such a recommendation, according to officials who attended a private one-hour meeting between President Barack Obama's economic advisers and representatives from about a dozen banks, hedge funds and other financial groups.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other officials made it clear they were not inclined to divide the job among various regulators as has been suggested by industry and some federal regulators. Geithner told the group that one organization needs to be held responsible for monitoring systemwide risk.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:15:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prince Albert II of Monaco faces rebellion over tax haven reforms - Telegraph
His 32,000 well-heeled subjects have generally been among the most loyal of any royal ruler's - not least for tax reasons.

But while the Riveria may not quite have the whiff of revolution, Prince Albert II of Monaco seems to be losing favour with the Ferrari-driving, casino-going, yacht-owning "commoners" over whom he rules.

The statelet's playboy ruler, known officially as his Serene Highness, is facing a "declaration of war" over the way he has dealt with international pressure to tighten Monaco's opaque tax rules. Residents, who effectively cede political authority to him in exchange for paying zero income tax, have accused his government of an "astonishing" failure to consult on what they regard as the key issue for the "future of the country".

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 02:16:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SMITH/BERLAU: Obama's financial unilateralism - Washington Times

In fact, by some criteria, the United States could be considered a "tax haven." It does not tax interest from foreign-held American bank accounts, as it does interest earned by its own citizens. Nor does it routinely report such interest payments to the financial authorities of foreign bank customers' home countries.

And individuals from all over the world can incorporate in Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s home state of Delaware, under the names of registered agents.

Like all countries, the United States shares information with other countries via tax treaties and other arrangements, but such agreements are usually crafted to reduce criminal activity, not hinder tax competition. Moreover, such bilateral treaties are generally between nations that share common values, in particular democratic safeguards to protect the rights of their citizenry.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 03:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
until my kidneys recover but I couldn't resist this.  Enjoy.


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 04:27:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the news is informing me how pissed off people are that brown spent £6000 on a cleaner.

right... never mind the billions in a black hole, focus on clutching pearls at those awful, terrible, scandalous, yawn little petty cash pilferings.

oh the sanctimony, cameron at least fessed right up pronto.

'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 Sun May 10th, 2009 at 08:28:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Luxury brands look to China for cushion in crisis
... By 2015, China will have more than 4 million households with annual income above 250,000 yuan ($37,000), McKinsey predicted in a recent report. That will make it the world's fourth-largest country in terms of its number of households with substantial purchasing power after the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. McKinsey said the benchmark was adjusted for purchasing power parity for each country.

And most of that money likely will be spent in China. McKinsey said its research found wealthy Chinese do 70 percent of their luxury spending at home, contrary to the industry wisdom that Chinese people make at least half their purchases abroad.


Companies are expanding inland to cities like Chengdu to reach customers "who can already afford and who will aspire to the image projected by luxury brands," said Bain's D'Arpizio.  ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 09:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who should head the U.S. probe of the financial meltdown?   May 10, 2009  LA Times

The list of possible candidates to chair a federal investigation of the financial-system debacle now includes retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt, Bloomberg News reports, citing unnamed sources.

Congress wants to name a panel modeled on the one that investigated the cause of the early-1930s market crash that fed the Great Depression. That probe, spearheaded by Senate counsel Ferdinand Pecora in 1933, led to major financial reforms including the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Along the way it also made for great theater as Pecora called in the leading bankers of the era, including Charles E. Mitchell and Albert H. Wiggin, to testify about their roles in the meltdown.

The House and Senate have passed separate bills to create a commission, but still have to reconcile their differences before sending the legislation to President Obama.

From Bloomberg:

    Discussions over who will lead the panel, as well as the group's other members, continue and no decisions have been made, people familiar with the matter said.

    The commission is likely to have the power to subpoena witnesses and spend more than a year delving into the issue.

A lot of things can change in a year.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Switzerland 'to hit back' at OECD in tax row - News - Muzi.com
Switzerland is considering further measures against the OECD in the row over how much the country is doing to reform its policy on tax havens, media reports said Sunday.

The Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) quoted Swiss officials as saying they might block progress in cooperation with China, India and other emerging countries in protest against being placed on the OECD's "grey list".

On Wednesday Switzerland blocked a payment of 136,000 euros (180,000 dollars) to the OECD, a 30-member organisation of major industrialised countries.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 06:08:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trichet Says Global Economy Is Near Turning Point (Update1) - Bloomberg.com
"As far as growth is concerned, we're around the inflection point in the cycle, that's the sentiment," Trichet said today at a press conference at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. A number of recent reports are "encouraging, but it's no time for complacency."


"Insistence is put on the exit strategy, on the medium- term path that permits us to go back to a normal situation, a sound and sustainable situation," he said. At the same time, central banks will "do what is necessary in terms of extraordinary measures, as long as necessary," he added.

What does he mean going back to a sound and sustainable situation? Did the crisis fall out of the sky or was there an unsustainable bubble situation?
"There is a general sentiment, as regards a number of risk premia, a number of features such as spreads" that "we came back to the pre-Lehman situation," he said. "It's particularly true when you concentrate on money-market spreads."
So now the pre-Lehman situation, the 12 months of seized markets, liquidity and credit crunches, etc from September 2007 to September 2008, is good enough?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 08:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:05:40 AM EST
Pope Deplores `Ideological Manipulation' - NYTimes.com

AMMAN, Jordan -- Visiting a mosque on the second day of his closely watched first visit to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday denounced the "ideological manipulation of religion" and called for greater understanding between the Christian and Muslim faiths. Skip to next paragraph Related Times Topics: Pope Benedict XVI Enlarge This Image Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during mass at St. George Victorious Cathedral in Amman, Jordan, on Saturday.

Speaking outside Al-Hussein bin-Talal mosque in Amman, Benedict said that because of "the burden of our common history so often marked by misunderstanding," Christians and Muslims alike should "strive to be seen" as faithful worshipers of God.

In a speech that also touched on a central theme of his papacy and thought, the tension between faith and reason, Benedict said that "the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends," was often "the real catalyst for tension and division, and at times even violence in society."

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
anyone else thinking the words pot kettle and black ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 05:42:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Zuma takes just the one wife to £6m party - Times Online

THE streets of Pretoria were clogged yesterday with the motorcades of African kings, presidents and dictators heading towards the Union Buildings to sip Dom Perignon champagne at President Jacob Zuma's 75m rand (£6m) inauguration bash.

Among the VIPs were Libya's Muammar Gadaffi and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who received a standing ovation from an elite crowd that included at least 30 present or former heads of state.

As his relatives in Zululand prepared ritually to slaughter six cattle in his honour, Zuma arrived in the company of his senior wife Sizakele Khumalo, a painfully shy woman who presides over his rural homestead. Making his way into the VIP enclosure, Zuma paused to kneel at the feet of an extremely frail 90-year-old Nelson Mandela.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:12:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is well worth the Murdoch Alert. Not by what it says, more by what it implies, and most by what is not told.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 05:35:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheikh reportedly detained pending torture investigation - CNN.com

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi who was captured on videotape torturing an Afghan grain dealer has reportedly been detained, a senior U.S. State Department official told CNN Saturday.

Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, pictured here, allegedly tortured a business associate on videotape. 1 of 3

The official said the government of the United Arab Emirates, which includes Abu Dhabi as one of its seven emirates, told the State Department that Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan is under house arrest pending an investigation, but that the United States has not independently confirmed the development.

The videotape emerged last month in a federal civil lawsuit filed in Houston, Texas, by Bassam Nabulsi, a U.S. citizen, against the sheikh. Former business partners, the men had a falling out, in part over the tape. In a statement to CNN, the sheikh's U.S. attorney said Nabulsi is using the videotape to influence the court over a business dispute.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a statement to CNN, the sheikh's U.S. attorney said Nabulsi is using the videotape to influence the court over a business dispute.

In another report I read that the Sheikh kept a library of his torture tapes which he could view at his pleasure.  The really interesting question is how his former partner got a copy of this tape.

This is not the first instance I have encountered of this Arabian business negotiating technique.  When I was in Riyadh one time I worked out of the offices of an Australian national who had a Saudi partner.  My company knew him from work at the Jeddah Airport.  He was pleasant and able.  I later learned that, when he wanted to wind down his business and leave the country, he and his wife were arrested, jailed and held for several months before being allowed to leave.  I never had the chance to again talk with him so I don't know the details, such as what he had to leave behind.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:45:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghan girl's burns show horror of chemical strike - Yahoo! News UK

Life as 8-year-old Razia knew it ended one March morning when a shell her father says was fired by Western troops exploded into their house, enveloping her head and neck in a blazing chemical. Skip related content

Now she spends her days in a U.S. hospital bed at the Bagram airbase, her small fingernails still covered with flaking red polish but her face an almost unrecognisable mess of burnt tissue and half her scalp a bald scar.

"The kids called out to me that I was burning but the explosion was so strong that for a moment I was deaf and couldn't hear anything," her father, Aziz Rahman, told Reuters.

"And then my wife screamed 'the kids are burning' and she was also burning," he added, his face clouding over at the memory.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another day, another set of hearts and minds to win.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 05:43:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Gov't temporarily lifts curfew to allow civilians to flee | France 24
Pakistan temporarily lifted its curfew on the northwestern Swat valley to allow more than 100,000 civilians to flee an anti-Taliban military operation in the region. The government is advising residents in the main town of Mingora to leave.

AFP - Pakistan relaxed its curfew on the northwestern Swat valley Sunday to allow more than 100,000 civilians to flee fighting between government troops and Taliban militants, officials said. The curfew was to be eased in Swat and Malakand from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm (midnight to 0700 GMT), an official statement said, advising residents from the main town of Mingora and nearby areas to leave.
"We expect more than 100,000 people will quit their homes at different places in Swat today," local administration chief Khushhal Khan told AFP.
The UN refugee agency has warned up to one million people have already been displaced in northwest Pakistan, with tens of thousands streaming out of Buner, Lower Dir and Swat, registering in camps or sheltering with families.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:17:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Breaks Campaign Promise on AIDS

WASHINGTON, May 8 (OneWorld.net) - U.S. President Barack Obama's failure to lift a federal funding ban on syringe exchange -- a policy that allows intravenous drug users to swap used needles for clean ones -- is a blow to AIDS-prevention efforts, says a global health group.

  • Although Obama pledged on the campaign trail to overturn the federal ban on funding for syringe exchange, he refrained from doing so in his proposed 2010 budget. "Providing clean syringes is proven to be one of the most effective public health interventions since the polio vaccine," said Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health Global Access Project (GAP). "It is clear that it works, but yet, we now have to wait for Congress to act to have the freedom to use every possible resource to make it widely available." (See Health GAP's full statement below.)

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 01:53:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that should read "... amongst his broken promises ..."

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 05:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen: I think that should read "... amongst his broken promises ..."

Such as?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 10:18:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SLDN: Obama Caving to Senior Military Leadership, Religious Right on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" | Latest News | Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
"Jones's answer, along with Secretary Gates's remarks to the Army War College on April 16, make it clear that a calculated political decision has been made that the President is not going to take `Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on publicly-himself-and instead his defense team is doing it."

There should be no waffling in this Administration-whether from Jones or Gates, on whether repeal is going to happen. The discussions should be when and how. Recall what Obama said on the campaign trail in 2007:

America is ready to get rid of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. All that is required is leadership.(Fall 2007 to Human Rights Campaign)
by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 12:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China Emerges as a Leader in Cleaner Coal Technology    NYT

Construction has stalled in the United States on a new generation of low-pollution power plants that turn coal into a gas before burning it, although Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Thursday that the Obama administration might revive one power plant of this type. But China has already approved equipment purchases for just such a power plant, to be assembled soon in a muddy field here in Tianjin.

"The steps they've taken are probably as fast and as serious as anywhere in power-generation history," said Hal Harvey, president of ClimateWorks, a group in San Francisco that helps finance projects to limit global warming.

Western countries continue to rely heavily on coal-fired power plants built decades ago with outdated, inefficient technology that burn a lot of coal and emit considerable amounts of carbon dioxide. China has begun requiring power companies to retire an older, more polluting power plant for each new one they build.

Cao Peixi, the president of the China Huaneng Group, the country's biggest state-owned electric utility and the majority partner in the joint venture building the Tianjin plant, said his company was committed to the project even though it would cost more than conventional plants.

"We shouldn't look at this project from a purely financial perspective," he said. "It represents the future."

Those dastardly Chinese Commies!  They put the "future" ahead of immediate financial concerns.  And so much for the USA helping China by providing advanced pollution control technology.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 12:15:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: Torture News Roundup: Breaking: al-Libi Found Dead in Libyan Prison

This just in from Andy Worthington (H/T Barb):

The Arabic media is ablaze with the news that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of an Afghan training camp -- whose claim that Saddam Hussein had been involved in training al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons was used to justify the invasion of Iraq -- has died in a Libyan jail. So far, however, the only English language report is on the Algerian website Ennahar Online, which reported that the Libyan newspaper Oea stated that al-Libi (aka Ali Abdul Hamid al-Fakheri) "was found dead of suicide in his cell," and noted that the newspaper had reported the story "without specifying the date or method of suicide."

It was al-Libi who was tortured by the CIA, subjected to mock burial in a box 20 inches high, in order to "confess" to a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, just days after the start of the Iraq War. Al-Libi later recanted. Afterwards, he was disappeared.

by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 12:50:39 AM EST
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Jordan's king says U.S. pushing new plan for Mideast - washingtonpost.com
The United States is promoting a peace plan for the Middle East involving a "57-state solution" in which the entire Muslim world would recognize Israel, Monday's Times of London quoted Jordan's King Abdullah as saying.

"We are offering a third of the world to meet them with open arms," the king said. "The future is not the Jordan River or the Golan Heights or the Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic and Indonesia in the Pacific. That is the prize."

But he warned: "If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months."

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 06:39:14 AM EST
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The American reporter, Roxana Saberi, has just been set free by Iranian authorities. She had been condemned to eight years imprisonment for espionage for a hostile nation. The appellate reduced the sentence to two years on the grounds that the U.S. is not to be considered a hostile nation.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 08:20:06 AM EST
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by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:06:06 AM EST
BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | Neighbourly help in high Pyrenees

As the global economic downturn continues, Kathy Flower discovers the secret to survival in an unexpected place - the crumbling, half-empty villages of the French Pyrenees.

Madame Genis grows all her own vegetables - and forages for fruit

Madame Genis shouts a greeting in her strong Catalan accent as she strides past my house.

A sunburned 75-year-old, she is clad, as always, in her working gear of an ancient blue and white checked pinafore and an old pair of men's leather boots.

She carries a sharp knife - not for repelling attackers, or even the wild boar which roam these hills - but for cutting reeds to support the runner beans she will plant now spring has come at last.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:09:45 AM EST
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Politicians and garden experts back IoS campaign to get pupils planting - Gardening, House & Home - The Independent
Children will be more adventurous over what they eat if they've helped to produce it, writes Paul Bignell

Leading gardening experts have joined hundreds of schools backing The Independent on Sunday's Let Children Grow campaign, which aims to get primary pupils cultivating and enjoying their own food. Some 425 schools, roughly 85,000 pupils, and high-profile figures ranging from Alan Titchmarsh to David Cameron and Kim Wilde have called for more children across the UK to be given the chance to grow their own vegetables.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:10:07 AM EST
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Arsenal v Chelsea: Guus Hiddink's men secure automatic Champions League place - Telegraph
Chelsea ensured they claimed an automatic place in next season's Champions League with a comfortable victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea shook off their Champions League disappointment with first-half goals from Brazilian defender Alex and Nicolas Anelka. An own goal from Kolo Toure put them three ahead straight after the re-start.

Arsenal squandered a host of chances throughout the game but finally reduced the arrears with a header from substitute Niklas Bendtner in the 70th minute, before Florent Malouda scored Chelsea's fourth three minutes from time.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 02:18:48 PM EST
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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
On May 8th, Anthony Wesley of Murrumbateman, Australia, recorded a very rare event--one of Jupiter's moons eclipsing another. "Here," says Wesley, "is an animation of Europa passing directly in front of Ganymede."

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 06:26:49 PM EST
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Orangutan causes evacuation at Adelaide Zoo | News.com.au Top stories | News.com.au

AN "ingenious" 62 kilogram orangutan short circuited electrical wires and climbed a fence using a makeshift ladder in an aborted escape attempt from Adelaide Zoo today.

The elaborate plot by 27-year-old Karta got her to within metres of the public, and resulted in the closure of the zoo on one of its busiest days of the year.

The alarm was raised by a member of the public about 11am.

Zoo curator Peter Whitehead said Karta had twisted a stick into hot wires that encircled her enclosure, short circuiting the wires and allowing her to enter a vegetated area near the concrete and glass fence that separated her from the public.

She then piled up sticks, grass and plant roots and used them to climb onto the fence.

'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 Mon May 11th, 2009 at 03:16:53 AM EST
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by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:06:35 AM EST
Has Nicolas Sarkozy delivered? Two years on - Bruni, bling and barricades | World news | The Observer
Nicolas Sarkozy took office in May 2007 promising to transform France and restore its status as a great nation. Brash, confident and now married to one of the most glamorous woman in Europe, his presidency has not lacked drama. But approval ratings have plummeted, unemployment is rising and public sector workers are in revolt. Has Sarko really delivered?

A strange and somewhat surreal party took place last week on the Champs Elysées, on the pavement outside Le Fouquet's restaurant. Dressed in overcoats to ward off the unseasonal cold, the guests whistled loudly, held aloft a two-tier cake and sang a deliberately discordant rendition of "joyeux anniversaire".

Fond as he is of events held in his honour, Nicolas Sarkozy would not have enjoyed this one. The placards gave it away, particularly the one that read: "Sarkozy: a pandemic all by himself".

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:12:03 AM EST
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Papi Silvio 'to fix up' teen model as MP - Times Online
The girl at the centre of the Berlusconi divorce row claims the Italian prime minister will launch her into a career in politics

THE teenage lingerie model whose birthday party appears to have precipitated the divorce of Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, has said she wants to stand for parliament.

"Papi [Daddy] Silvio will fix it," declared Noemi Letizia, in an interview with an Italian newspaper.

Veronica Lario, 52, the prime minister's wife, complained publicly about his appearance at Letizia's 18th birthday celebrations before announcing last week she was divorcing him after 19 years of marriage.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least Murdoch got it better than the Times yesterday (which was incidently a good article).

Noemi's full declaration can be found here. The bottom line is still: What was the Council President doing with a minor after hours for so many years? What is the role of Noemi's father, a "friend" out of nowhere with a murky past?

As any commentator might hazard, why not simply offer Noemi or her father a substantial sum to go public (more than Berlusconi is willing to pay) as any newspaper elsewhere in the world would do? How much is Playboy willing to offer for a spread?

[Another sign that Italy is an upsidedown nation: Murdoch represents the free press against the Berlusconi media empire.]

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 02:47:23 PM EST
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Actually this article is thorough, too. It is standard anglo-saxon fair. Behind it we might make note that the Berlusconi government has been hostile to the Italian Murdoch media. Articles in the Times will get back at Berlusconi far more than local coverage on Sky.

Beyond this local reality, the Times is doing a job that the Italian media avoids doing.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 01:46:59 AM EST
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Papi Silvio 'to fix up' teen model as MP - Times Online

... According to Berlusconi, he was invited to the party by Letizia's father to discuss the European elections. "We're family friends and I went to celebrate a girl's 18th birthday. Where's the harm in that? If I didn't do these things, I wouldn't be me," he said.

Most Italians seem to agree. A poll last week found that he enjoyed unwavering support of 66%, making him one of Europe's most popular leaders. ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 10:36:21 PM EST
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This is an IPF poll which is done according to international standards. So it is as reported. Berlusconi's polls put him at 75%.

I have yet to meet anyone who approves of Berlusconi, but that may be the Roman mentality. I suspect that these figures are heavily loaded by the South and the racist North that widely approves Berlusconi's reactionary policies.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 01:51:06 AM EST
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1.    Vladimir Putin sings patriotic duet with schoolgirl - Telegraph
Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, struck a rare false note yesterday when he attempted to sing a patriotic love duet with a pigtailed schoolgirl.

Normally a man of prodigious talent, equally adept at handling a rifle or a paintbrush as he is an opponent on the judo mat, the ex-KGB spy fell curiously flat when he turned his efforts to song.

Providing the Russian people with a rare glimpse of his compassionate side, the former KGB spy came to the assistance of a crestfallen pupil at a Moscow boarding school after she stumbled during the performance of a famous wartime song.

by Fran on Sun May 10th, 2009 at 11:13:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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