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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 14 May

by Fran Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:55:46 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1727 – Thomas Gainsborough, one of the most famous portrait and landscape painters of 18th century Britain, was born. (d. 1788)

More here and here

 The European Salon contains a daily selection of news media items to which you are invited to bring your links to additional items, your comments, your contribution to the discussion. Feel free to come in and join us!

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by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:35:12 PM EST
EUobserver / Brussels unfreezes €115 million of EU aid for Bulgaria

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Tuesday (12 May) unfroze €115 million in aid for Bulgaria suspended last year over Sofia's failure to properly tackle corruption.

"Today's decision is the result of extensive work by the Bulgarian authorities" and the European Commission's services, regional policy commissioner Danuta Hubner said at a press conference in Brussels.

Bulgarian parliament - Bulgaria faces parliamentary elections on 5 July

"It marks a positive step towards normalising the implementation of EU funds in Bulgaria," she added.

The unblocked money concerns a motorway project and technical assistance to Bulgaria for other road investment in the framework of the trans-European transport network.

The move follows "a reorganisation of the country's National Road Infrastructure Agency, aimed at ensuring it manages projects efficiently and effectively, in line with EU rules," as well as an improvement of the control systems, the commission explained.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
8-(( wtf ? Like huh ?

Was this money burning a hole in somebody's pocket ? They just thought "ah well, we've given them a chance to sort it out, but they haven't so we'll just give it to them anyway" ??

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 04:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What can you tell us to convince us that reorganisation of the country's National Road Infrastructure Agency, aimed at ensuring it manages projects efficiently and effectively, in line with EU rules," as well as an improvement of the control systems has not taken place?

I'm quite prepared to believe it hasn't. But it may just as well be that Bulgaria has satisfied the Commission that some progress has been made in governance.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 02:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, what can I say ? No impirical proof, no papers, no smoking gun. Just a memory of how Bulgaria works. Promises of change, wads of cash handed over for capital projects, wads of cash go missing. nothing gets done, nothing gets built, so they apply for the money again, rinse and repeat.

The dual carriageway road supposedly built from Sofia to Kulata (greek border) is a case in point. that's what the EU paid for. I can assure you most definitely that, apart from 10Km built to show willing and get the last of the grant, it has not been built.

The fabled sofia metro has been bought and paid for at least twice that I know of. Not a sod has been turned.

As for the ring road around sofia..  hahahahahahahha

So let's just say that when reform has been promised so often yet nevr delivered, you get a bit cynical about the possibility of it happening while the same old people remain in charge.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 01:33:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David Cameron rewrites Conservative rules on expenses - Times Online

David Cameron ordered senior Conservatives to pay back thousands of pounds to the taxpayer yesterday, in a brutal attempt to show that he was getting to grips with the expenses scandal embroiling all parties.

The Tory leader humiliated several members of the Shadow Cabinet by calling them in one by one and telling them the price for remaining in his top team was returning or forgoing sums up to £11,000. He then named them at a Westminster press conference.

An internal scrutiny panel will require backbench Tories to pay back claims it considers excessive. Refusal will result in the loss of the Conservative whip and political oblivion.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:43:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been mightily entertained by this whole affair, but now is the time that we need to know those who have not taken the pee, those whose claims have been fair and reasonable.

And they should be elected unopposed at the next election as a mark of respect. Because they are too few to lose.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 04:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well my fathers local Tory, was apparently campaigning on being the MP who had taken the least expenses at the last election

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 06:15:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Tory leader humiliated several members of the Shadow Cabinet

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but to my deranged mind this screams "power politics" - dismantling potential opponents before they even think about dismantling you.

Helmut Kohl also preferred to pack his cabinet with damaged goods.

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 Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / France defies EU parliament on internet law

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - In defiance of the European Parliament, the French lower house has approved a law that has widely been described as the most aggressive attempt to counter internet piracy yet.

The 'three-strikes' law that would cut off internet access to users found to be repeatedly downloading copyright content without the permission of the owner was passed by 296 votes to 233 in what is the government's second attempt to push through the bill.

France has passed legislation that falls afoul of the European Parliament's position

The legislation, which creates a new government agency, the Hadopi ( the Haute Autorite pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet, or High Authority for the Diffusion of Works and the Protection of Rights on the Internet), which first sends a web-surfer an email warning, then a letter through the post and, finally, as the third 'strike,' can interrupt his internet access for up to a year.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:44:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Commission dodges stance on Italian asylum

EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Tuesday (12 May) avoided giving a clear answer about the legality of Italy's recent move to send back African asylum seekers, a policy strongly condemned by the United Nations.

Since last week, Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government sent over 500 African migrants back to Libya, under a new agreement signed with Tripoli allowing Italian authorities to ship them back without first checking if they are asylum seekers.

African immigrants are sometimes used as a political scarecrow by the Berlusconi government

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the move was against international conventions and urged Italy on Tuesday to take the migrants back, as several of them were clearly asylum seekers.

"We are asking the Italian government to readmit those persons who were sent back by Italy and are identified by UNHCR as seeking international protection," the agency said in Geneva.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While the UN and the Council of Europe have unequivocal positions on the matter, the EU is in somewhat a bind. Even the UNHCR shouldered some of the blame on the rest of Europe and urged Europe to resolve the problem together with Italy.

In terms of popularity all the ministers directly involved in this high sea deportation have been penalized. In a poll published today by la Repubblica Berlusconi and his government have lost three points percentage. Commentators consider that the "show of force" against boat people has had a far more negative impact than Mr. Berlusconi's marital problems. The poll gives more realistic figures than Mr. Berlusconi's repetitio ad nauseum that he is more popular than Obama with a whopping - and legendary- 75% approval rating. He is travelling at a normal 53% with his coalition at the 50% mark. Do keep in mind of course that polls conducted by rigorous international criteria are communist inspired.

This evening the House passed the three "maxi-emendamenti" with a vote of confidence that criminalizes illegal immigrants. The bill, pending further approval by the Senate, also reintroduces the possibility to organize private vigilantes and lengthens the stay in special detention centers to 180 days for clandestines.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 04:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU fines US chip-maker Intel historic €1.06bn

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The EU has fined US microchip supplier Intel €1.06 billion for paying its customers to keep a competitor out of the market in what amounts to the biggest EU antitrust fine in history.

"Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years," competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said, announcing the decision on Wednesday (13 May).

Microprocessors - called "the engine" of the personal computer by Ms Kroes on Wednesday

"If we smell that there is something rotten in the state, we act."

European Commission investigators established that Intel - which makes the x86 microprocessor found in most home computers - created a complex system of rebates to encourage computer manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC to exclusively use its hardware.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Letter from Berlin: Germany's Green Party Faces Four More Years of Opposition - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Not all that long ago, Germany's Green Party seemed the party of the future. These days, though, after four years in a weak opposition, the party seems as far away as ever from returning to power.

Top Green Party politician Jürgen Trittin was at his ranting and raving best this weekend at the beginning of his party's convention ahead of autumn general elections in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition, he blustered, is "unable to meet the global challenges" facing it. The government, he fulminated further, is "leading this country with pure dilettantism."

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Campaign Realism: Merkel Treads Carefully with Tax Cut Pledge - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has long hinted that her party's campaign platform would include tax cuts. In the face of a worsening economy and skyrocketing budget deficits, though, she has now become less concrete about such a pledge.

There was a time last autumn when German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under intense criticism for her opposition to including tax cuts in Germany's package of economic stimulus measures. Her hope had long been to include such cuts as a plank in her party's campaign platform ahead of general elections this autumn.

 Read my lips: no new tax cuts. Now, though, that plan seems to have become a lot less concrete. According to a report in the Passauer Neue Presse, Merkel no longer sees the possibility of any tax cuts coming in the first half of the next term, should she be re-elected. The chancellor said that tax relief will only come once Germany's economy begins recovering from the current recession. The report sites sources who participated in a Monday meeting of leaders of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 03:06:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indymedia London | Articles | Show | SCOOP - protest repression - what's next?

in secret meetings not recorded in Hansard, our government has formulated a plan to rid parliament square of not only the current tamil protests, but also brian haw's seven and a half year vigil. emergency legislation is expected to pass through parliament unopposed within a matter of weeks.

michael martin, the discredited current speaker of the house, is hoping to salvage his currently pathetic reputation by tabling a motion within the next couple of days to bring in emergency legislation to repress all protest outside parliament.

he has held secret meetings, with the final one today, not recorded in Hansard, to iron out an agreement with representatives from westminster council, city hall, the metropolitan police, and the home office.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 11:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Abroad - Cézanne Country Rises Up Against French Rail Plan - NYTimes.com

... A new plan promoted by President Nicolas Sarkozy, floated by local newspapers last year, would extend the high-speed, or TGV, rail line from Aix to Nice. The proposal is part of Mr. Sarkozy's program to update rail service in coordination with European Union energy policies. Not incidentally, it's also embraced by his political allies in the center-right government of Nice.

Naturally, the Aixois are back on the barricades.

Culture is the lens through which people see themselves, in this case a culture that Cézanne passed along. The train track, which would slice a new, conspicuous swath through the valley, in full view of the mountain, would among other things reconfigure the Sumeire property, which to be precise lies in the village of Trets, a few miles outside Aix. Mr. Sumeire, 41, who is president of the local vintners' union, was appalled, and began to organize demonstrations. They have brought out thousands of protesters, among them wine producers and local politicians, shouting the slogan "Wake up, Cézanne, they've all gone mad!" ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 02:15:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:35:39 PM EST
EUobserver / Belgian ex-PM accuses commission of inaction in face of crisis

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Ex-Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has strongly criticised the European Commission for failing to be more active in tackling the current economic crisis.

Mr Verhofstadt, who heads the Liberal list in Belgium's Flanders region for the June European elections, accused the commission of staying "silent" in the face of Europe's recession.

Guy Verhofstadt heads the Liberal list in Belgium's Flanders region for the June European elections

"It is the duty of the commission to take the initiative", said the politician, referring to the institution's right to propose laws.

Speaking in Brussels to promote his new book, Emerging from the crisis, how Europe can save the world, Mr Verhofstadt, a strong EU federalist, said the only way to bolster the EU is to massively increase it's spending, recapitalise banks, issue eurobonds, set up a European financial supervisor and a single European bank for bad assets.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:40:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Liberals, Greens try to woo Socialists away from EU parliament right

With Europe's centre-right parties and some Socialist governments backing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for a second mandate, smaller factions have begun calling for a change and throwing some fresh names into the ring.

"I and my friends will do what we can so that there is change at the head of the European Commission," whose orientation is "too ultra-neo-liberal," Francois Bayrou, leader of the centrist MoDem party in France, said on French Europe 1 radio over the weekend.

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt is one of the EDP's candidates to succeed Mr Barroso

He added that two names were proposed during a meeting of the European Democrat Party (EDP) last week. The EDP is a centrist and Euro-federalist political party whose MEPs sit with the Liberals in the European Parliament.

The EDP's candidates are former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and Mario Monti, an Italian economist and former commissioner responsible for internal market (1995-1999) and competition (1999-2004).

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog
Sarko the Red

Mark Mardell | 09:16 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Comments (0)


The rally for President Sarkozy's UMP party was stylish and smooth, but witnesses to this were thin on the seats. The well-groomed, middle-aged and older were scattered throughout a large and very smart auditorium.

Perhaps potential supporters had as much trouble finding it as we did. Although it is meant to be Lyon's biggest venue it wasn't showing up on the GPS.

A man getting out of his car for a jog round Lyon's lovely central park dismissed us rudely. "Don't disturb me," he grumbled as we asked for directions. A young man with a wispy beard was much more helpful when we interrupted a long kiss with his androgynous girlfriend, pressed against her bike. Perhaps he needed the air. Anyway my election slogan is: "Trust snoggers, not joggers".

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:48:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jon Worth » Is Anna Diamantopoulou going to be the PES Commission President candidate?

OK, I am putting 2+2 together and making 10, but if I get this one right then you heard it here first!

Andy Carling, a regular commenter on this blog, stated that he had heard Poul Nyrup Rasmussen say at a press conference that the PES does have a candidate for President of the Commission, but Rasmussen would not name that person.

At the same time my attention has been drawn to an interview to Sveriges Radio (här på svenska) given by social democrat Vice President of the European Commission Margot Wallström where she states that she would like to see former Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou as successor to Barroso. This is followed up in Swedish by AiP and Byggnads (one of Sweden's largest trade unions), and in English by the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 03:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dumped by Sarkozy, Rachida Dati digs her heels in as she strides toward European parliament
* Ousted Muslim minister begins 'crucial' campaign
* Shambolic party meeting becomes an internet hit

By Angelique Chrisafis in Le Pecq, guardian.co.uk

In a leafy riverside suburb west of Paris, the gentle evening birdsong was punctured by a shiny people carrier screeching into a modest community centre car park. Doors opened and a pair of feet in impossibly high, dominatrix-style, designer spike heels swung out of the car. "Look at the shoes," gasped one business leader as dignitaries, teachers and sixth formers who had gathered for a small campaign meeting turned to gawp.

Rachida Dati, the beleaguered French justice minister, may have been lampooned for her devotion to wearing ostentatious catwalk fashion at inappropriate moments, but having been forced by Nicolas Sarkozy to run in the European elections as a way of sacking her from government, she remains defiant in her choice of footwear.

Once she was Sarkozy's handpicked symbol of change, hugely popular with the public as the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post. Now, after a spectacular fall from grace, Dati is using the European election campaign to fight back.

Despite trying to prove her commitment by returning to work five days after giving birth by caesarian section, Sarkozy ordered her to run in order to sack her after the 7 June vote. She felt "humiliated", according to the former prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The European election campaign has now become another saga in the Dati soap opera, as she still refuses to reveal the name of the father of her baby daughter but has suggested she is keen for another child. Her allies have briefed that she is seeking "revenge" on the political class and is keen to run as mayor of Paris in four years' time.

by Magnifico on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 11:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign Correspondent Syndrome™ strikes again.

Once she was Sarkozy's handpicked symbol of change, hugely popular with the public as the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post.

Dati was just one of Sarkozy's "symbols of change". She was not "hugely popular with the public", though it's true she was more popular than she is now. The construction "as the first Muslim woman" suggests that she was "hugely popular" because of the attributes "Muslim" and "woman". She's undoubtedly a woman, and her family religious tradition is Muslim, but she has never made any public show of identification with Islam, and is not generally perceived as "Muslim" by most people - though certainly as a second-generation immigrant from an ethnic minority. "Arab" or "Maghrebine" or "North African" would be much closer to her perceived identity.

But so what, it's conventional in English-language journalism to call immigrants in France "Muslim", and Angelique Chrisafis is writing for her home readership, and the foreign correspondent game goes on.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Little Excitement Among Voters for European Parliament Election - NYTimes.com

[...] The elections in early June are likely to be remembered for two things: how well fringe parties will do in an anxious period of economic recession, and how few Europeans will bother to vote.

Only 34 percent of the some 380 million eligible Europeans say they will probably vote, while 15 percent say they will not vote in any circumstances, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll. The numbers are worst where the extreme right is expected to do well, with only 22 percent of Britons admitting they will probably vote (while 30 percent say they won't) and only 13 percent of Poles. Even in Greece, where voting is mandatory, only 48 percent say they will probably cast ballots.

"The danger is that those who do bother, vote for the more radical elements," said Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Given the economic crisis, he said, there is "a degree of voter indifference, which is a reflection of the lack of political leadership we have seen."

Europeans will choose a Parliament for the seventh time in 30 years, but turnout has fallen with each enlargement and each election, from 62 percent in 1979 to 48 percent in 2004 -- roughly 20 percent lower than in corresponding national parliamentary elections.

The reasons for the Euro-apathy are much debated. As the only directly elected European institution, the Parliament has real power and is likely to get more. It can amend or reject proposals for new laws from the European Commission, which runs the bureaucracy. Few Europeans realize it, but the bulk of their legislation on issues like the environment, consumer rights and transport is made in this way, rather than in national capitals.

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 Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:05:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog

"Good day to you all! The lists for the European elections are now complete and I have had a look at them, even because I had to do that for a long piece on the "unpresentables" for Micromega and thus, as we were saying when the lists were still provisional, we are devoting this edition of Passaparola to a kind of "voting guide", to advice for who not to vote for, that is advice on avoiding the ones that, according to me are people who need to be kept away from the institutions, especially from the European institutions. Then each person can decide as they want, but at least they will do so on the basis of solid information. Zoo PDL

Let's start with the Popolo delle Libertà (PDL) in alphabetical order: Lucio Barani, who is a former socialist and has been the Mayor of Aulla, and is famous for having made Aulla into a "dipietrizzato" town and for having actually named a square "Piazza Martiri di Tangentopoli" where the martyrs of Tangentopoli are not us who have been robbed, but those that did the thieving and in fact the square that was called Piazza Matteotti, became Piazza Martiri di Tangentopoli with a great monument to Craxi, even perhaps one on a horse. I'd say that this guy is perhaps best left alone.
Berlusconi. There's no point in my telling you why it would be better not to vote for him, apart from all the reasons that are ethical, political, conflict of interests and judicial etc., there's a fact: that Berlusconi being President of the Council, is not alone and like many other leaders who are putting themselves forward as candidates, will have to choose between the Italian Parliament and the European one. Given that he is the President of the Council, he can't go to the European Parliament, unless he decides to resign from the position of President of the Council, in that case we could even vote for him, but I don't believe he will do that.
Bonsignore Vito: Bonsignore Vito was in the UDC, he has convictions for attempted corruption for the contracts for the Asti hospital, the Turin Tangentopoli. He was with Casini and as soon as Berlusconi discovered that there was a convict who was not with himself, he immediately set about his acquisition campaign and he brought him into the Popolo delle Libertà. Attempted corruption because Bonsignore didn't have time to collect the bribes, as they caught him first: he was a "andreottiano", then a "casiniano" and now he has become a "berlusconiano". He is also under investigation for the banking takeovers, and for collaboration in rigging the markets. He is the person that D'Alema was speaking about when he said "I met up with him once to see about the destination of that package of BNL shares". Bonsignore had 2% of BNL shares, and that was what was so interesting to Consorte. He too is one that it may be better to keep well away from the European institutions.

'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 Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:36:05 PM EST
As job crisis looms, unions push for new social deal | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.05.2009
With millions of Europeans set to lose their jobs as a result of the worst recession in 60 years, unions are campaigning for a coordinated response at the EU level. 

According to the European Commission's latest estimates, some 8.5 million Europeans will lose their jobs over the next two years, with unemployment hitting 10.9 percent in the euro zone. As a result, social unrest across the zone could increase as workers meet the crisis with strikes and protests. Some say it's a potentially explosive situation.

"The unemployment figures are of great concern...we are heading towards a social crisis," said Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

To raise awareness of the issues facing European workers, trade union representatives are holding a series of demonstrations from May 14 - 16. Up to 200,000 people are expected to take to the streets of Madrid, Brussels, Prague and Berlin, said Reiner Hoffmann, deputy secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which is sponsoring the "Action Days."

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:39:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Women's World Bank Head Mary Iskenderian: 'Men Are Programmed to Take More Risk' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

So far, says Women World Bank head Mary Iskenderian, micro-finance institutions are not suffering the full wrath of the financial crisis. She explained why to SPIEGEL ONLINE, and also spoke about the advantages of having women customers.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ms. Iskenderian, banks and financial institutions across the globe are suffering from the financial crisis. But the banks you represent are not. Why is that?

 A Mumbai woman working at her necklace workshop, financed by a micro loan. Iskenderian: Micro-finance institutions are being very careful. In the past, loan renewals were common and easily done. We're now making sure that institutions are being careful with renewal of credit but for the most part, portfolio quality is good.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So you really haven't felt the effects of the crisis?

Iskenderian: Where we are seeing an impact is constraints on credit and the ability of institutions to raise money and continue to finance growth. There is still dollar and euro denominated funding available. But what has completely dried up is local currency financing. My organization is trying to provide loan guarantees to institutions so that they can borrow from local banks.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:46:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Zapatero announces new spending measures

Spain's Socialist prime minister, Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero, announced new spending measures in a state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday (12 May), aimed at boosting the country's ailing economy and keeping people in their jobs.

During the address, he also announced new measures to cut public spending and increase tax revenues as Spain, like many others EU member states, struggles to contain its burgeoning budget deficit.

Opposition parties said Mr Zapatero's plans had little chance of success

"These measures have a double objective: stop job losses and prepare for economic recovery with changes in our economic model," Mr Zapatero said during his speech to the Spanish parliament.

Opposition parties, hoping to make gains over the government in next month's European elections, dismissed the plans as wishful thinking.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:46:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Toxic Asset Dump: Merkel Cabinet Seals Bad Banks Deal - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

After months of debate, Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday finally agreed on a plan to establish "bad banks" to rid bank balance sheets of toxic assets. Berlin hopes the plan will not further burden German taxpayers.

It has been a long time in coming, with divisive debates and numerous changes. But on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet in Berlin finally decided in favor of a "bad bank" law designed to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets. The hope is that the plan, put together by Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, will jump start the flow of credit into the German economy, which is suffering through the worst recession since World War II.

Germany has put together a plan to establish "bad banks" in an effort to rid bank balance sheets of toxic assets. The plan must still be approved by Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, but the size of the majority held by Merkel's coalition government makes passage likely.

It is estimated that German banks hold more than €200 billion ($274 billion) in toxic assets -- of an estimated €3 trillion worldwide. Berlin's new plan calls for banks to set up their own companies in which to park these junk securities. The new companies would then refinance the toxic assets -- essentially loans in danger of default -- by issuing state-backed bonds to the mother bank.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / More EU states heading for deficit action

The European commission adopted economic reports on Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania on Wednesday (13 May), signalling that the EU executive now considers their budget deficits in 2008 to have been in breach of EU rules known as the stability and growth pact.

"It is vital that we apply the stability and growth pact ...and devise an adjustment path to correct deficits and debts in a timely way," said economy commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

The nationalization of Malta's shipyards was an important factor behind the small island state's excessive deficit in 2008.

"This is key to preserve the sustainability of public finances in the medium-to-long term," he added.

Under the rules, EU member states are not allowed to run budget deficits in excess of 3 percent of their gross domestic product.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:54:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:36:25 PM EST
The Torture Business: CIA Outsourced Development of Interrogation Plan - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The torture practices used in interrogations of al-Qaida prisoners were not developed by government officials in Washington, but by private security experts. In return for a daily consulting fee, they personally supervised the program at the CIA's secret prisons from the very beginning.

James Mitchell's new life begins with the same ritual every morning: He goes jogging, wearing Adidas shorts and a black tank top, his iPod in his ear. Then he gets into his luxury SUV and drives back to luxury home on Lake Vienna Drive in Pasco County, Florida.

The hacienda-style house, with a natural stone façade, columned walkways and palm trees in front of the door is brand-new. Mitchell has just had it built, in the midst of an upscale, gated community.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:41:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
15.    BBC NEWS | Americas | Obama U-turn on abuse photographs

US President Barack Obama has changed his mind and will now attempt to block the publication of photographs showing the abuse of prisoners by US soldiers.

The US government had previously said it would not fight a court ruling ordering the release of the pictures.

Mr Obama now believes the release of the photos would make the job of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan more difficult, White House officials said.

The pictures were due to be released by 28 May, according to the court ruling.

The court order was issued by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in September 2008, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama administration threatens Britain to keep torture evidence concealed - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

Ever since he was released from Guantanamo in February after six years of due-process-less detention and brutal torture, Binyam Mohamed has been attempting to obtain justice for what was done to him.  But his torturers have been continuously protected, and Mohamed's quest for a day in court repeatedly thwarted, by one individual:  Barack Obama.  Today, there is new and graphic evidence of just how far the Obama administration is going to prevent evidence of the Bush administration's torture program from becoming public.

In February, Obama's DOJ demanded dismissal of Mohamed's lawsuit against the company which helped "render" him to be tortured on the ground that national security would be harmed if the lawsuit continued.  Then, after a British High Court ruled that there was credible evidence that Mohamed was subjected to brutal torture and was entitled to obtain evidence in the possession of the British government which detailed the CIA's treatment of Mohamed, and after a formal police inquiry began into allegations that British agents collaborated in his torture, the British government cited threats from the U.S. government that it would no longer engage in intelligence-sharing with Britain -- i.e., it would no longer pass on information about terrorist threats aimed at British citizens -- if the British court disclosed the facts of Mohamed's torture. 

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And a peculiar and inexplicable silence falls on the UK media, none of whom have bothered to mention this latest demonstration of the depth of respect and feeling which defines the 'special relationship' between the UK and US.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 05:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, why would obama burn political capital like that, paying for bush's sins?

... unless becoming president suddenly makes you believe torture is necessary?

doesn't he get it that opening up and letting the facts be known, while it would instigate a ripple of disgust, would long term earn more respect for the country whose reputation he seems recklessly willing to keep trying and failing to protect?

or cheney is still calling the shots?

oh, bummer...

'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 May 13th, 2009 at 06:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Programmes | World News America | Washington diary: Cheney's party

Only four years ago, flush with the re-election of George W Bush and the expansion of the GOP majority on Capitol Hill, Washington insiders fell over each other to predict how solid the Republican hold on power would be.

Dick Cheney has been making regular appearances on cable TV news

Democrats seemed doomed to irrelevance.

But the tide began to turn almost immediately, as Mr Bush squandered his much-vaunted political capital, Iraq haemorrhaged American blood and Hurricane Katrina drowned any pretence of competence.

Today, some polls suggest that just one in five American voters now describe themselves as Republicans, George W Bush is so silent in retirement he appears to have gone into a witness protection programme, and his floundering party seems devoid of ideas, direction and plausible leaders.

But wait! There IS a Republican shuffling to centre-stage. The man who spent part of the last administration in an undisclosed location has popped out like a Jack-in-the-Box to take the Obama administration to task.

Just for once, I think Frei is onto something.

Is there any constitutional reason why Cheney couldn't run in 2012 or 2016?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 07:28:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there any constitutional reason why Cheney couldn't run in 2012 or 2016?

because bolivia is experiencing peak lithium?

'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 May 13th, 2009 at 07:40:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Cheney Seizes the Spotlight, Many Republicans Wince - washingtonpost.com

As vice president, Richard B. Cheney famously spent much of the past eight years in undisclosed locations and offering private advice to President George W. Bush. But past was not prologue.

Today Cheney is the most visible -- and controversial -- critic of President Obama's national security policies and, to the alarm of many people in the Republican Party, the most forceful and uncompromising defender of the Bush administration's record. His running argument with the new administration has spawned a noisy side debate all its own: By leading the criticism, is Cheney doing more harm than good to the causes he has taken up and to the political well-being of his party?

His defenders believe he has sparked a discussion of vital importance to the safety of the country, and they hold up Obama's reversal of a decision to release photos of detainee abuse as a sign that Cheney is having an effect. But there is a potential political price that his party may pay in having one of the highest officials in an administration repudiated in the last election continue to argue his case long after the voters have rendered their decision.

Cheney entered the arena this winter in a politically weak position after that election. His personal favorability ratings were and are still low. A Gallup poll in late March found that 30 percent of respondents gave him a favorable rating, while 63 percent rated him unfavorably.

That is why his high-profile defense of controversial Bush administration policies has caused queasiness among Republican political strategists. But Cheney remains powerful enough that most of his GOP critics are not willing to take him on in public. "The fact that most people want to talk [without attribution] shows what a problem it continues to be," said one Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. "Cheney continues to be a force among many members of our base, and while he is entirely unhelpful, no one has the standing to show him the door."

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 Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:04:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Republicans should be rightly worried because it is likely that Cheney would win the nomination. He would have won against the selection of Teh Stoopid that was the Republican primary roster in 2008, were it not for the fact that he was the sitting VP of a very impopular administration.

In 2012 it might be him or Palin...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:12:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't his heart problems pretty much disqualify him?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not legally.

By the time 2012 comes around he might have a bionic heart anyway...

On October 27, 2008, French professor and leading heart transplant specialist Alain F. Carpentier announced that a fully implantable artificial heart will be ready for clinical trial by 2011, and for alternative transplant in 2013. It was developed and will be manufactured by him, Biomedical firm Carmat, and venture capital firm Truffle. The prototype uses electronic sensors and is made from chemically treated animal tissues, called "biomaterials", or a "pseudo-skin" of biosynthetic, microporous materials. Another US team with prototype called 2005 MagScrew Total Artificial Heart, including Japan and South Korea researchers are racing to produce similar projects.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What heart ??

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 01:26:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It might be him and Palin. Cheney would need to bring in the fundies, and Palin would do that.

Satan Cheney might even like the idea. He'd have some dumb woman to do PR for him while he got on with the important business of torture and abuse.

Palin would certainly like the idea.

Considering that some of the shininess will have gone from the Obama brand by then, and that it wouldn't be beyond the wit of Cheney to engineer a Carter-style foreign policy fiasco to end the presidecy on a high note, I'm finding it hard to persuade myself that it would have no chance as a winning ticket.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:41:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, 4 years is enough to erase the effect of Cheney's association with the Bush administration.

The fact that it was him running the war and torture policies will likely be lost on the voters.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:43:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me assure that there is no way in hell that Cheney could win the Presidency four years from now.  He couldn't have won it in 2000 either.  He entirely lacks charm and charisma.  Did you miss the part about 63% unfavorability?  That is devastating.  That means that 2/3 of the country knows him and doesn't like him.  He's been in the US political world for nearly 40 years.  Whatever "gravitas" he had in terms of foreign policy and national security before the GWB administration is long gone.  He is now considered dangerous, unhinged and extremist by not just the US political class but also the population as a whole.

He would also never subject himself to a campaign because it would require him to finally answer some very serious questions about what he did these past 8 years.  He's smart enough to stay out of that mess.  It is only because he won't be running for elected office again that he is able to speak as he does, trying to fill a gap in the opposition attack.

Cheney's current PR campaign is being fondly referred to as his "don't send me to jail" campaign.  He runs a very serious risk of charges should the information come out.  For the Democrats and the US in general his is a case of "when your opponent is hanging himself, give him more rope."

Cheney is one of the four horseman of the Republican apocalypse.  Limbaugh, Palin and McCain are the others.  They are done.

The challenge for the Democrats is how to respond.  They can either absorb the center-right portion of the GOP and create a true majority party or they can allow that group to create a new party which will inevitably pick off their right-wing.  Rightward drift by the Democrats in a situation where there is no real alternative will lead to a genuine leftwing party emerging.  The Democrats already hold onto their leftwing by a thread and it's a pragmatic one that will flee the instant they know they can do so without getting right-wingers elected as a consequence.

I believe Obama is want to delay this deluge as long as possible.  The status quo leaves him very powerful until the 2010 Congressional elections.  A Democratic victory in that election would be a watershed moment that finally sets these shifts into action.

The GOP has no leadership and there are competing factions all trying to assert themselves into that role.  Thus far none have traction for fundamental reasons.  Four years from now I can easily see a three-party election, with a 25% right-wing Christian/hardliner GOP, led by the likes of Palin and Limbaugh, a 60% majority Democrat party (easily re-electing Obama) and a 15% left-wing, probably still searching for a leader to unite them.

by paving on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 02:23:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I also doubt he is planning a run. For one thing, the next election may well focus on the economy, and he has said nothing about it, let alone about the really important issues like abortion and guns (he would be well advised never to bring up guns....)

The key issue may well be the hints we are getting that he ordered waterboarding to get people to confess to a link between the Iraqis and Al Qaeda. If true, this would totally destroy all the usual defenses for waterboarding, and could bring a serious risk of prosecution. And while all we have at the moment is a few, plausible, hints, there is one person who knows for sure what damaging evidence is out there, and that is Cheney himself.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 01:17:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Is there any constitutional reason why Cheney couldn't run in 2012 or 2016? "

Yes, Cheney's constitution! The man has had at least 67 heart attacks... it's hard work being evil 24/7, you know.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:27:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if you're actually human. Which - obviously - doesn't seem to apply here.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:42:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should there be any such reason? I think the only requirements are to be a "natural-born citizen" of the U.S, over 35 years old, and a resident of the U.S for at least 14. Inability to discharge his duties, for example for reasons of health, may be a reason to remove him from office, but I don't think it's a reason to stop him running in the first place.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even a dead man can be on the US presidential ballot because voters choose electors who may have pledged to vote for whomever, but can always vote for whomever else when the time comes.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | South Asia | India election starts final phase

India has entered the final phase of its marathon election, with 107 million voters eligible to cast ballots.

Voting is in 86 constituencies across nine states and territories, including Tamil Nadu in the south and most parts of the city of Calcutta.

The main fight is between the ruling Congress party-led alliance and parties led by the BJP, although there is a host of regional opposition.

Results are announced on Saturday and an outright majority is unlikely.

A series of exit polls is expected after polling closes at 1700 local time (1130 GMT).

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:42:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pope calls for Palestinian homeland - Middle East, World - The Independent

In a pilgrimage to the traditional birthplace of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI called today for the establishment of a Palestinian state and acknowledged Palestinian suffering during decades of Mideast turmoil.

The pontiff stood alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he delivered his strongest public support yet for Palestinian statehood.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan
WASHINGTON - The choice of Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal to become the new United States commander in Afghanistan has been hailed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and national news media as ushering in a new unconventional approach to counter-insurgency.

But McChrystal's background sends a very different message from the one claimed by Gates and the news media. His long specialization in counter-terrorism operations suggests an officer who is likely to have more interest in targeted killings than in the kind of politically sensitive counter-insurgency program that the Barack Obama administration has said it intends to carry out.
by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
M of A - The Dubious Issues In The Saberi Case

While pointing out U.S. media deficits, Greenwald falls for its propaganda hook, line and sinker.

It was said that reason for Saberi's arrest was for buying a bottles of wine. But that was only what the 'western' media 'reported' and it was never confirmed by Iranian authorities. Saberi was also said to be a journalist but her press credentials for Iran had expired in 2006. What Greenwald called "extremely dubious charges and unreliable judicial procedures in Iran" now turn out to have been well founded charges and a seemingly normal judicial process.


Sabrini indeed likely committed a crime under Article 505:

[H]er lawyer revealed his client had been convicted of spying in part because she had a copy of a confidential Iranian report on the war in Iraq.

    Prosecutors had also cited a trip to Israel that Ms Saberi had made in 2006, he said. Iran bars its citizens from visiting Israel, its regional nemesis.
    Ms Saberi had admitted that she had copied the document two years ago but said she had not passed it on to the Americans as prosecutors had claimed. She had apologised, saying it had been a mistake to take the report.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 03:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saberi, I made a mistake | WaPo | 13 May 2009

Her attorney revealed that the American-born journalist had been convicted of spying for the United States in part because she had a copy of a confidential Iranian report on the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Saberi, who holds American and Iranian citizenship, copied the report "out of curiosity" while working as a freelance translator for a powerful body connected to Iran's ruling clerics, said the attorney, Saleh Nikbakht...

Saberi acknowledged copying the document two years ago but denied passing it on to the Americans. She apologized, saying it had been a mistake to take the report, Nikbakht said. He gave no details on what was in the document.

So professional translator or journalist or translating journalist? And to whom did the Iranians give the Get Out of Jail card?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 08:06:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NYTimes.com: Harry, Louise and Barack (Paul Krugman, May 10, 2009)
But on Saturday, excited administration officials called me to say that this time the medical-industrial complex (their term, not mine) is offering to be helpful.
What? Has Krugman become a conduit for government PR? Why would they call him to tell him that, other than presumably so he would write a column about it? But note the following insanity (my emphasis):
What's presumably going on here is that key interest groups have realized that health care reform is going to happen no matter what they do, and that aligning themselves with the Party of No will just deny them a seat at the table. (Republicans, after all, still denounce research into which medical procedures are effective and which are not as a dastardly plot to deprive Americans of their freedom to choose.)

I would strongly urge the Obama administration to hang tough in the bargaining ahead. In particular, AHIP will surely try to use the good will created by its stance on cost control to kill an important part of health reform: giving Americans the choice of buying into a public insurance plan as an alternative to private insurers. The administration should not give in on this point.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Op-Ed Columnist - Stressing the Positive - NYTimes.com (May 7, 2009 )
But focusing on the process can distract from the larger picture. What we're really seeing here is a decision on the part of President Obama and his officials to muddle through the financial crisis, hoping that the banks can earn their way back to health.


As a result, the odds are that the financial system won't function normally until the crucial players get much stronger financially than they are now. Yet the Obama administration has decided not to do anything dramatic to recapitalize the banks.


Those are frightening words. They suggest that while the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration continue to insist that they're committed to tighter financial regulation and greater oversight, Wall Street insiders are taking the mildness of bank policy so far as a sign that they'll soon be able to go back to playing the same games as before.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:57:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack - the pseudo-laissez faire pseudo-progressive.

Wall St gets the trillions. Everyone else gets the change.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 07:48:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deciding where in the Salon to park this GLOBAL CARBON CREDIT TRADING item was a challenge. The salient point appears that Mr Market prices credits so cheaply, polluters are willing and able to forego the expense and opportunity of capital improvement in their own properties that eliminate CO2 emissions.

Reuters | Green Business | Japan power firms pay $1 billion | 14 May 2009

The inclusion of carbon credit figures in earnings statements, effective from 2008/2009, gives investors information that is otherwise largely hidden, on how each firm strikes a balance among [1] burning relatively cheap coal, [2] funneling money abroad through carbon credits and [3] investing in costlier but cleaner alternatives at home. ...

All 10 companies declined to say how much volume in CO2 equivalent they had received for their money, key information for assessing carbon credit deals. The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan has said the 10 utility companies as a whole bought some 190 million metric tons in CO2 equivalent [fossil fuels] for delivery over the 2008-2012 Kyoto period. It will update that figure in September....

A majority of the 10 firms declined to comment on their future buying plans. But three said buying carbon credits from these two countries was one option if they failed to reduce the amount of carbon they emit in producing a single unit of electricity as much as planned. The reduction targets are not legally binding. But all the power firms have said that if their efforts were not sufficient they would buy carbon credits at home or from abroad.

In Japan's first Kyoto year, which ended in March, the 10 firms emitted 9.5 percent to 72 percent more CO2 per kilowatt hour than their target over the five-year period. Their spending on carbon offsets so far has been focused on those generated from clean energy projects in developing countries, called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

Some of the firms are now considering buying another type of offset called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), bought from developed nations that are comfortably below their emission cut targets. AAUs are often referred to as "hot air" units.

A majority of the credits has been or is to be derived from early investment in clean energy projects in developing countries such as China [Ukraine and the Czech Republic]....

Carbon offsets from projects at small domestic businesses are a growing area for the power sector to invest in, but the amount viable for CO2 cut from a total 10 projects approved by the government so far is only 5,700 metric tons per year.

Over all, Reuters' Green Business section offers an interesting perspective to developing competition for and market intelligence on astroturf.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 10:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The salient point appears that Mr Market prices credits so cheaply, polluters are willing and able to forego the expense and opportunity of capital improvement in their own properties that eliminate CO2 emissions.
The same thing happened in the European emissions trading market when it was first introduced.

The problem was that the European Union member states were so afraid that emissions trading would kill their industry that they set the caps too high and the price of carbon credits collapsed from lack of demand.

For the second round of emissions trading the European Commission gets to impose caps on the member states so it is expected the constraints will actually be limiting and the market price will be nonzero.

Wikipedia: European Union Emission Trading Scheme

In May 2006, when several countries revealed registries indicating that their industries had been allocated more allowances than they could use, trading prices crashed from about €30/ton to €10/ton, and (after an initial slight recovery) declined further to €4 in January 2007[28] and below €1 in February 2007, reaching an all time low of €0.03 at the beginning of December 2007[29]

Phase II

In 2006, Ecofys performed an initial assessment of NAPs for phase II, using the proposed but not-yet-approved NAPs.[30] They found that most member states did not have sufficiently strict caps, and that they would be insufficient in assisting the members in meeting their Kyoto targets. They also compared caps with official business-as-usual (BAU) projections and with independent BAU projections to assess stringency of caps. They concluded that the caps were 7% under official BAU but (except for Portugal, Spain, and UK) the proposed cap was "higher" than the independently estimated BAU, suggesting overallocation.

Partly in response to this, the Commission cut eleven of the first twelve Phase II plans it reviewed (accepting only the U.K.'s plan without revision). The commission tightened the caps some 7%,[31] also corresponding with 7% below the 2005 emissions. However, as of January 2007, not all plans have been finalized.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 11:24:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They found that most member states did not have sufficiently strict caps, and that they would be insufficient in assisting the members in meeting their Kyoto targets. They also compared caps with official business-as-usual (BAU) projections and with independent BAU projections to assess stringency of caps.

True enough.

I consulted JIN Quarterly back issues about the time I posted my last EA2020 at DK (2007) which concerned in part US bills effectively establishing C02 securities exchange, but abandoned my, so to speak, patronage after one year as EU member agencies' inability to enforce measurable emissions "caps" prerequisite to price discovery (primary or secondary market) was apparent. I too soon for some enthusiasts, perhaps, found its editorializing of industry (dis)incentive  tiresome.

If states do not confer enforcement authority to levy material penalities by class of polluter to "cap 'n' trade" regulators, a carbon credit does not perforce represent a store of value.

No wonder the US Congress is willing to auction [? s/b award] free credits while setting federal minima for states' REC requirements -- effectively restricting future carbon credit issues by capping volume at a level that assures fossil fuel consumption growth.

C02 volume in itself has no  value, as true for all commodities, that comparable (relative, extrinsic) value (equivalence) to some currency. That currency may be coin, it may be tangible property, it is notional --as is the case representing goodwill according to GAAP or "corporate social responsibility" according to standard public diplomacy-- but it could also be work, converted energy, for all we don't know given current investment in applied tech to collect, transfer, and sequester fossil fuel "waste."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 01:15:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:36:59 PM EST
EUobserver / European biofuels firms scramble for 'idle' lands in poor countries

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Massive tracts of land in Africa, Russia and Ukraine are being bought up or leased by richer countries to ensure access to food and for production of biofuels - a development that could result in unrest as locals begin to lose access over their territory.

An area roughly the same size as the amount of farmland in Germany is in play and at a cost of tens of billions of euros.

China has secured 2.8 million hectares in the Democratic Republic of Congo for oil palm

This phenomenon, a product of the twin food and fuel crises of last year, is threatening local communities whose traditional use of such lands is being undermined by the food and energy security needs of others.

This all comes from a warning issued on Monday (11 May) by the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), an agricultural research centre funded by an alliance of 64 governments around the world.

A year after the global food crisis that saw food riots and protests spread throughout the developing world - and even to some rich countries - a number of nations have learnt their lesson.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Belgian city plans 'veggie' days

The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.

Starting this week there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals.

Ghent means to recognise the impact of livestock on the environment.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:42:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
way cool!

'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 May 13th, 2009 at 06:31:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian claims, more modestly, that
The city council says it is the first town in Europe and probably the western world to try to make the entire place vegetarian for a day every week.
thus not pretending to be experts about, say, India.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They did say "probably the Western world".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, half of the developing world is vegetarian quite often
by paving on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 02:27:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life - NYTimes.com
An English chemist [John D. Sutherland, a chemist at the University of Manchester] has found the hidden gateway to the RNA world, the chemical milieu from which the first forms of life are thought to have emerged on earth some 3.8 billion years ago. <...>

Instead of making the starting chemicals form a sugar and a base, they mixed them in a different order, in which the chemicals naturally formed a compound that is half-sugar and half-base. When another half-sugar and half-base are added, the RNA nucleotide called ribocytidine phosphate emerges.

A second nucleotide is created if ultraviolet light is shined on the mixture. Dr. Sutherland said he had not yet found natural ways to generate the other two types of nucleotides found in RNA molecules, but synthesis of the first two was thought to be harder to achieve.

If all four nucleotides formed naturally, they would zip together easily to form an RNA molecule with a backbone of alternating sugar and phosphate groups. The bases attached to the sugar constitute a four-letter alphabet in which biological information can be represented. <...>

In Dr. Sutherland's reconstruction, phosphate plays a critical role not only as an ingredient but also as a catalyst and in regulating acidity. Dr. [Gerald] Joyce said he was so impressed by the role of phosphate that "this makes me think of myself not as a carbon-based life form but as a phosphate-based life form." ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 04:08:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ancient Figurine of Voluptuous Woman Is Found - NYTimes.com
... Nicholas J. Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, who found the small carving in a cave last year, says it is at least 35,000 years old, "one of the oldest known examples of figurative art" in the world. It is about 5,000 years older than some other so-called Venus artifacts made by early populations of Homo sapiens in Europe. <...>

The discovery, Dr. Conard wrote, "radically changes our view of the origins of Paleolithic art." Before this, he noted, female imagery was unknown, most carvings and cave drawings being of mammoths, horses and other animals.

Scholars say the figurine is roughly contemporaneous with other early expressions of artistic creativity, like drawings on cave walls in southeastern France and northern Italy. The inspiration and symbolism behind the rather sudden flowering have long been debated by art historians. <...>

Its sexual symbolism should not come as a surprise, Dr. Mellars said, because at about the same time people in western France were chipping out limestone to represent vulvas. Nor were these Stone Age artists fixated only on female sexuality. Archaeologists in recent years have also found phallic representations carved out of bone, ivory and bison horn.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 04:15:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chapter whatever...

Anyway, the next setback for London Array was Shell pulling out of the project a year ago. Shell haven't exactly been the champions of green energy their adverts with lovably rumpled Dutch dads would have you believe - in March this year they pulled out of all of their renewable energy programs, citing "portfolio fit and the returns outlook compared to other opportunities", like squeezing Canadian oilfields out of every drop. But when they ditched London Array, it highlighted how unattractive the British government was making investment in alternative energy, if a company who had announced £4bn profits decided it wasn't able to stump up the cash.

Read the offshore wonder, which includes a reference to the Nazi invasion...


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

by Crazy Horse on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 05:46:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com: Scientists fear for seas at climate talks
Climate change negotiations will not take proper account of the devastating impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the seas, hundreds of scientists attending the World Ocean Conference in Indonesia warned on Wednesday.

The meeting aims to influence the crucial United Nations climate change talks scheduled to take place in Copenhagen in December. But the latest draft declaration from the ocean conference, seen by the Financial Times, has deleted the recommendation in an earlier version that the international negotiators "consider the ocean dimension in the post 2012 [climate change] framework".

And why, exactly, is the following true?
"Everyone's waiting for the new US administration to elaborate its position before they commit to anything," said one participant.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:37:19 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | The A to Z of Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956 as a modest event involving just seven countries.

It has gone on to run for more than 50 years, and has expanded to encompass up to 43 participants.

Loved and derided in equal measure, we help you pick your way through this musical institution and glance at what makes it unique.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:53:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Camp and Controversy in Moscow: The Eurovision Extravaganza Heats Up - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Moscow promised to host the most lavish Eurovision Song Contest ever. But as the weekend approaches, controversy may be brewing.

What, one wonders, could be a greater honor that playing host to a collection of outrageously campy music acts from across Europe, all gathered for a frenzy of televized flamboyance that seems to get more frivolous by the year?

Moscow, for its part, has taken the responsibility seriously and has pledged the most lavish show ever when the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest hits the stage there this weekend. They have spent €30 million and have booked Olimpiyski Indoor Arena in downtown Moscow for the show. Still, controversy threatens to torpedo the hosts' best efforts.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may want to actually explain what the source of controversy is.  Or is it just enough for readers to know that Russia is doing something controversial again?

From the article:

Gay rights campaigners are determined to march through Moscow a few hours before the final show on Saturday, ignoring a city ban on their parade and risking the kinds of violent, anti-gay attacks the march has seen in the past.

The controversy could potentially threaten Russia's desire to put on a perfect show. Flamboyant Dutch trio De Toppers, who perform in the semifinals on Thursday, told Dutch television late on Tuesday that they will boycott the song contest if Russian authorities crack down on Saturday's parade.

"If we get to the final and the demonstration is suppressed by force I refuse to get on that stage in Moscow," said singer and songwriter Gordon. "If my kind of people are discriminated against in this way, there is no reason for me to be there," he said. "I will take the first plane home."

For those of you who are convinced I am a "plant" (yes, I was actually called that by someone here), I would like to go firmly on record supporting the efforts of GLBT community in Russia.  I do not support a ban on the parade nor the family code that denies them the right to marry.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 03:05:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a "plant" (yes, I was actually called that by someone here)

jeez, poemless, i was kidding!

i meant IF there were such a job, you'd be a great candidate.

(stop digging, melo)

i'm really sorry if my feeble attempt at humour was misplaced or foolish. NOT meant in any derogatory way!

shit, i'm an odds and ends addict!

'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 May 13th, 2009 at 06:37:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:37:43 PM EST
Silvio Berlusconi Plays Defense: The Crime of the Cavaliere - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The divorce battle in the House of Berlusconi and the gossip over an underage confidante has put the Italian prime minister on the defensive -- a feat the opposition has never managed to achieve.

The man is nervous. He seems agitated, fanning his perspiring face with documents. As he talks, looking tired and irritable, he lacks his trademark smile. He seems to be waging an inner battle. On a screen above his head is a larger-than-life image of his wife Veronica. It makes him seem small.

When Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, nickname Il Cavaliere, appeared last week on Italy's almost-daily talk show "Porta a Porta" (Door to Door), he knew that he, the otherwise omnipotent politician, had strayed somewhat off course.

He'd made a mistake. It was not the mistake of cheating on his wife, and not even the blunder of having played the sugar daddy -- "Papi Silvio" -- to an 18-year-old blonde. In the land of opera and private confession, these are acts that will eventually be forgiven.

Instead, as Berlusconi knows, he's made a mistake that is unforgivable for a populist: He has carelessly ignored the people, paying no heed to the opinions of women, Catholics and his own, recently founded party, The People of Freedom (Il Popolo della Liberta, PdL). For the first time after months of wielding his power with seeming indifference, Berlusconi faces the possibility of losing popular support.

by Fran on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:38:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I've never been able to do this. Finnish isn't the same without it. When you shout out the curse word 'Perkele!' just after hitting your thumb with the hammer, it has to be 'PeRRRRRRRrrrrrrrkele!, otherwise it doesn't work.

A few other languages also like to roll it ;-)

Does your language like to roll it?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 04:49:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Automatic Earth: May 10 2009: Easy

"Somebody had to do it. Who, after all, hasn't wondered how many credit card applications arrive in their mailbox in a year?

Gary Silbar of Highland Park decided to find out and has saved 445 applications to show for it, including a hefty 35 addressed to his kids, Max, 8, and Jake, 11."
1 family gets 445 credit card offers in a year

"These days, if you receive a pre-approved offer, it basically means that the bank is inviting you to apply for one of its cards. Based on certain financial criteria or your inclusion in a certain list or club, the bank believes you might be a good prospect. But there is no guarantee that you will qualify.
In fact, in some cases, it's pretty clear that the card company hasn't seen a credit report, since the offers occasionally go out to potential customers who don't have credit reports to see. Steve Borba, of Livermore, Calif., says he recently received one such e-mail offer for his dog, Clifford.

Borba says he filled out the application with answers relevant to his young pug's lifestyle and made it clear in the comments section that this was a joke, and the "applicant" was a canine.
What he received, he says, was a credit card with a $1,500 limit."


'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 May 13th, 2009 at 06:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As was documented in a classic "Married With Children" episode this still constitutes credit card fraud.  Yay fascism!
by paving on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 02:29:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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