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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 15 May

by Fran Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:50:12 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1857 – Birth of Williamina Fleming, a Scottish-born astronomer. She worked as a maid in the home of Professor Edward Charles Pickering. Pickering became frustrated with his male assistants at the Harvard College Observatory and famously declared his maid could do a better job. She discovered the Horsehead nebula. (d. 1911)

More here and here

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by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:23:23 PM EST
Georgian Opposition Leader Zurabishvili: 'I Would Call Saakashvili Insane' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The opposition in Georgia has been staging daily protests for over a month in an attempt to force President Mikhail Saakashvili to resign. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke with opposition leader Salome Zurabishvili about the state of democracy in Georgia and the country's path to the West.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ms. Zurabishvili, on Monday you and three other opposition politicians were invited to speak with President Mikhail Saakashvili about the crisis in Georgia and ongoing anti-government protests. Were you able to find common ground?

Opposition flags were flying outside the Georgian parliament on Wednesday. Salome Zurabishvili: We were expecting a real dialogue with the president. A genuine dialogue about how we were going to find a way out of this political crisis. Unfortunately he was not prepared for such a talk. He seems to have lost his grip on reality and imagines that 65 percent of the population support him. He says the only crisis in Georgia is the aftermath of the worldwide economic crisis.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview with Left Party Leader Oskar Lafontaine: 'We Want to Overthrow Capitalism' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Left Party Chairman Oskar Lafontaine speaks about his party's chances in the upcoming elections, its alleged drift to the left and why Angela Merkel needs to work through certain aspects of her communist past.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Lafontaine, is Germany embroiled in a class struggle?

 Oskar Lafontaine, the chairman of Germany's far-left Left Party. Oskar Lafontaine: The US billionaire Warren Buffett answered this question much better than the Left Party ever could. "It's class warfare; my class is winning," he said. To which I would add: The class that has been losing for years is starting to stir again.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: "Greed, avarice, selfishness and irresponsibility of the ruling class," the rich who "want to make even more money out of a lot of money" -- your party's draft platform for the upcoming German national elections sounds like Marx and Engels. Do you really believe that you can appeal to voters with such strong slogans?

Lafontaine: When the German president (Horst Köhler) talks about "monsters" and (Social Democratic Party leader) Franz Müntefering speaks of "locusts" and "losers," then we have actually made it into the center of society.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Commission gives Paris a pass over piracy bill

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The French Senate on Wednesday (13 May) approved the government's `three strikes' bill, safe in the knowledge that the European Commission will not launch any legal action against Paris as a result of the legislation, which falls afoul of the wishes of the European Parliament.

Ms Reding says she is sympathetic to the European parliament's perspective

The law, which cuts off internet access to users found to be repeatedly downloading copyright content without the permission of the owner, was passed 189 to 14. Opposition Socialist deputies boycotted the vote.

On Tuesday, the French lower house also passed the bill, meaning the law has surmounted all hurdles and will likely be enacted some time in the autumn.

Under the legislation, a scofflaw web-surfer is first sent an email warning, then a letter through the post and, finally, as the third 'strike,' her internet access can be interrupted for up to a year - a series of actions also referred to as a `graduated response'.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:37:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And how are they gonna prove that?

Oh, that's right. They can't. If they could, they'd just sue for damages instead of this bullshit.

I hope Sarko made IFPI pay through the nose for that disgrace.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 08:31:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Spain plans abortion law changes

The Spanish cabinet has agreed to liberalise the country's strict abortion laws, allowing abortion in most cases up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The proposals must go to parliament, where Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero lacks a majority.

His deputy, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, said changes were necessary to preserve the "dignity of women".

Anti-abortion groups have condemned the proposals and the Roman Catholic church has started an anti-abortion campaign.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:38:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain's government backs abortion on demand - Telegraph
The Spanish government has approved a plan to fully legalise abortion, allowing terminations on demand in the early stages of pregnancy.

The new proposal, which would women to seek a termination within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy without having to give a reason, has set the Socialist government on a collision course with Spain's Catholic Church.

The bill, which needs ratifying by parliament, eases strict abortion laws that have been in place since 1985 and is the latest in a series of social reforms by the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:47:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Labour suspends former minister - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
Gordon Brown today suspended ex-minister Elliot Morley from the Parliamentary Labour Party and an aide to Tory leader David Cameron quit his post, as the Westminster expenses scandal claimed its first scalps.

Mr Morley, MP for Scunthorpe, now faces expulsion from Labour ranks if charges that he wrongly claimed £16,000 in allowances for a mortgage already paid off are backed up by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon.

The Prime Minister also suspended former fisheries minister Mr Morley from his post as the premier's climate change envoy.

Bracknell Conservative MP Andrew MacKay announced his resignation as a parliamentary aide to Mr Cameron after confessing he had made an "error of judgment" on his second homes claims.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:41:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This expenses scandal is a toxic boost for anti-politics | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian

The contrast between Labour's socialist MP for Luton North, Kelvin ­Hopkins, who commutes to work and claimed £36.45 of his annual £4,800 food allowance, and the neighbouring New Labour MP, Margaret Moran, who "flipped" her second home allowance between Luton, Southampton and ­London and is now repaying a £22,500 under duress, could not be clearer.

It's hard, however, not to agree with the actor Stephen Fry, that the blizzard of petty corruption revelations, orchestrated by a newspaper whose owners live in tax exile in the Channel Islands, has got out of hand. We shouldn't confuse wisteria claims, he suggested, with "what politicians get really wrong, things like wars, things where people die". Compared with the revolving door deals, which have propelled 28 former New Labour ministers into lucrative corporate jobs on the back of their Whitehall connections, and who then help bid for government contracts, MPs' expense fiddles are small beer indeed.


Westminster is ­finally being held to account. But the greatest danger of this week's parliamentary disgrace is the boost it will give to anti-politics: the roar of rage that they're all the same, the cynicism that nothing can ever ­really change, the conviction that an outsider on a white charger can clean the Augean stables. It is a mood that has almost ­always benefited the populist right and which in Italy elevated the ­authoritarian monopolist Silvio ­Berlusconi to power in the early 1990s on the back of a "clean hands" anti-­corruption campaign.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that Parliament has been warned for years that things were getting out of hand. The Derek Conway affair was a shot across their bows tha they chose to ignore.

If they had quietly heeded the warnings and reformed themselves, as several members themselves realised they should, all would have been well.

But they didn't and many have arrogantly enriched themselves whilst presiding over a  bonfire of the electorate's job security/ pensions/ well being. We might have forgiven them the expenses scandal even a year ago, but not now. If they had competently cared for the nation we would have forgiven them, but they ignored the many and cared only for the few; the rich and themselves.

To the stocks with them.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Klaus not to chair EU leaders summit

Czech President Vaclav Klaus will not chair a high-profile meeting of EU leaders in June, his office has announced.

Mr Klaus "proposed that Prime Minister Jan Fischer should chair June's EU summit in Brussels on behalf of the Czech presidency," his office said in a statement.

"The president has full trust in the prime minister and has no doubt that he will handle this role easily and with success."

Vaclav Klaus - criticised in some parts of the EU, winning awards in others

The move is likely to be greeted with relief by EU diplomats who feared the president would use the gathering to air his strong opposition to the EU's Lisbon treaty, compounding what many view as a damaging past few months for the bloc under the gaffe-prone Czech presidency.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:46:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs angry at plans for energy shake-up | Policies | EU governance | Commission | European Voice

European Commission plans to create a new department for energy and climate change have been attacked by a group of influential MEPs.

"We are astonished and not a little alarmed at the suggestion that a new Commission directorate-general for climate change might be established," states a letter to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, signed by all the MEPs who negotiated for the Parliament on the EU's climate and energy package.

One of the options envisaged by the Commission is to bring climate change and energy together in a new directorate-general.

This would mean splitting energy from the current transport and energy department, and transferring some staff from the environment department - which currently leads climate change policy - to the new department.

The MEPs say that a single department responsible for both energy and climate risks interference from "short-term economic interest" in establishing effective and sustainable climate policy. The need to take account of policies ranging from agriculture to foreign affairs would not be adequately addressed, they say.

Luxembourgeois Green MEP Claude Turmes went further than his co-signatories. He told European Voice that the result would be to move climate policy away from "pro-environment people" in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. He fears that laws drafted by a climate and energy department would go to industry ministers and the Parliament's industry committee, rather than to their environment counterparts, as happens now.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Top russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

SOCHI, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Abkhazia will sign an agreement on the deployment of a Russian military base in the former Georgian republic within the next two weeks, the Abkhaz president said on Thursday.

"The land has been allocated, a location identified, and work has started there. We are awaiting an agreement between the republic and the Russian Defense Ministry," Sergei Bagapsh told journalists after a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"It [the agreement] is almost ready. I think it will be signed in a week or two," he said.

The Abkhaz president earlier said Russia would have a total of 3,800 troops deployed in the republic for the next 49 years.

Bagapsh also said units of Russian border guards will be deployed on Abkhazia's state border by the beginning of June.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog

In the imaginary world of the Italians, the big boat full of African emigrants has substituted the "Ogre", the "Bogeyman". Hundreds of desperate people who are risking their lives at sea, often people with the right to have political asylum. While Maroni looks to the shores of Libya, he is forgetting that hundreds of thousands of people have come into Italy from the East. Documented citizens of the European Union, most of whom have Romanian passports. No one has stopped them, has asked if they have a job, a house, an income. We have exploited the honest ones and we have taken no notice of the dishonest ones.
From 2007, with the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union, the gates have opened. Most of the countries of Europe adopted the moratorium. From the East they poured into the only country with borders made of butter according to the law. Like water in a funnel. Everything arrived. The percentage of detainees from the East in Italian prisons is impressive. The black man in prison is a rare thing. The problem, at the level of big numbers, is not the delinquent from outside the European Union but the one from within.
Italy contributes 12 to 13 billion euro to the coffers of Europe every year, and of these about 8 billion return to us. The rest goes to the countries that have the greatest need of investments. Among these, Romania. So basically, our taxes are used to help the less developed countries of Europe. No objection up to this point. However, Italy is Romania's top commercial partner. 22 thousand of our companies have opened new activities there or have delocalized there, thanks to the European incentives. The Italian companies have disembarked in the East with the objective of making money. Reducing production costs, not having to be subject to controls on labour that exist in our country. And, if possible, making use of the label "Made in Italy". In exchange, Romania has been able to export low cost labour for construction, almost always undocumented, and to get rid of thousands of unwanted people. No moratorium. The Lega did not lift a finger. And to be truthful, neither did the others. Who has gained from this? Only one name springs to mind: the Confidustria. {General Confederation of Italian Industry}
In response to the question: "How many people have entered from Romania?" Prodi and Bonino did not have a response. Frattini who was then the vice president of the European Commission, and now the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he was against methods of limiting entry to Romanian and Bulgarian workers into Italy, as happened in other countries of the EU. Those who have the right to claim political asylum, we abandon to their destiny, and we throw open the doors to people with kilometre-long criminal records just because they are from the European Community. In Italy we have the free circulation of delinquents, which is why they all want to come to us. To reject those who have the right to political asylum, is a crime against humanity. All the rest is business.

beppe exaggerates a bit here, i think, in saying they all want to come here for his stated reasons. it may be also the fact that italy has such a disproportionately long coastline, well known as porous, as well as its geographical proximity to both africa and eastern europe...

spain and malta have big problems too, but i get the feeling italy's in the x-hairs as choice port of entry.

the word among immigrants is that because you have to be processed in the country of entry, it's better to avoid italy, (because of its slow legal process and sketchy holding camps) and choose norway for example, but the trip is way harder, obviously.

'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 Fri May 15th, 2009 at 09:41:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:23:46 PM EST
EUobserver / New EU political group open to Libertas members

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - An emerging anti-federalist political group in the European Parliament would be open to take in Libertas members, if the anti-treaty party is unable to form a group itself.

The British Conservative party, the Czech Republic's ODS and Poland's Law and Justice party are currently in talks with several smaller parties to form a new anti-EU integration group after the elections next month.

Mr Walesa - anti-Communist hero and Libertas' star turn in Rome and Madrid

The new group aims to unveil its name and full membership shortly after the election result on 7 June.

Jan Zahradil, the head of the ODS delegation in Brussels, told EUobserver on Thursday (14 May) that more than four smaller parties have already signed up, but do not want to go public yet.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:36:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | In search of Europe: UK

Euroscepticism is alive and kicking in England, the BBC's Jonny Dymond reports, as he roams across EU member states, gauging opinion ahead of next month's European elections.

In the leafy lanes around West Kirby, in the Wirral in north-west England, Conservative candidate for the European Parliament Jacqueline Foster is doing her best.

At door after door that she and her energetic team try, there is no response. "Has the football started?" she asks one young assistant. "That'll stop them coming out."

In Abbey Road she finally finds a willing victim.

"Hello," she starts off, brightly, "I'm Jacqueline Foster, one of the Euro-candidates... I was an MEP for five-and-a-half years..."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the hostility in the media, apathy is about the best we can hope for. It'd be ridiculous and counter-productive for the electorate to protest about westminster by voting against the EU.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:25:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It'd be ridiculous and counter-productive for the electorate to protest about westminster by voting against the EU.


And guess what happens next.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:51:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PM Calls for Greater Cooperation with Sweden

The Nordic bloc - Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland - are increasingly refining a united position on the future of the EU.

Prime Minister Matti Vahnanen called for broader cooperation among Nordic countries. He said that Nordic countries will no longer be able to exert sufficient influence if they go it alone, but pointed out that the combined economies are significant enough to make a difference.
Vanhanen said he hoped to see joint efforts flourish in the areas of defence policy, forestry conservation and technological development, and he urged the leaders to speedily remove all obstacles to cooperation.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:31:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I saw the VVD election posters today for the first time.. Charming, and very clear on the message.

"Voortaan voor iedereen die straf verdient: straf."

Badly translated:

"For everyone who deserves punishment: punishment."

These posters are kinda easy to spoof by just gluing on a different word in place of "straf"... not that I would ever meddle with election posters. But some examples can be seen on Indymedia's Dutch site.

(My favorite is the very simple Photoshop: For everyone who deserves punishment: VVD)

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

by tzt (tzt) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 11:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:24:08 PM EST
France 24 | Growth data 'will be bad', minister says | France 24
The French economy shrank further in the first quarter, bringing the country officially into recession after a fall in the last quarter of 2008. Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said growth data would be "bad".

AFP - The French economy has lost more steam in the first quarter, Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said on Thursday, ahead of the release of growth data which she said would be "bad."
France's gross domestic product shrank by 1.1 percent in the last quarter of 2008 and a second consecutive drop would mean the country has officially entered into recession.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:28:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Norway Thrives by Going Against the Tide - NYTimes.com

OSLO -- When capitalism seemed on the verge of collapse last fall, Kristin Halvorsen, Norway's Socialist finance minister and a longtime free market skeptic, did more than crow. Skip to next paragraph Multimedia Graphic Sea of Plenty Related Times Topics: Sovereign Wealth Funds Enlarge This Image Espen Rasmussen for The New York Times

Friends meeting in an Oslo nightspot. Norway's economy grew 3 percent last year as many nations plunged into a recession.

As investors the world over sold in a panic, she bucked the tide, authorizing Norway's $300 billion sovereign wealth fund to ramp up its stock buying program by $60 billion -- or about 23 percent of Norway 's economic output.

"The timing was not that bad," Ms. Halvorsen said, smiling with satisfaction over the broad worldwide market rally that began in early March.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:29:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Economic guru calls for tax harmonisation to save single market

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A compromise deal between the EU's 'Anglo-Saxon' and 'social market' economies is the best way to secure Europe's future economic strength and social stability, says former EU competition commissioner Mario Monti.

Speaking at the Brussels Economic Forum on Thursday (14 May), an annual meeting point for some of the globe's most influential economic policy makers, Mr Monti added that the current crisis provided an excellent opportunity to secure such a deal.

Former commissioner Mario Monti advocated a compromise economic model at the Brussels Economic Forum on Thursday (14 May)

"To avoid frustration in both groups of countries resulting in resentment against Europe generally and the single market specifically, the EU should, in my view, grab this chance that was not there one year ago," he said.

The Anglo-Saxon economies of the UK and Ireland, together with many new member states, have in the past voiced their frustration with continental countries such as France for failing to comply with single market rules, such as competition and state aid requirements.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:32:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is this guy? He sounds like a "reform" apologist who's pretending that the "Anglo-Saxon" and "Continental" models are equally viable and have equal standing in negotiations.

They're not. Casino capitalism has failed. Miserably. Again. When you have a turd in one hand and a banana in the other, you don't make a bananasplit and call it "compromise." You go wash your hands, then you eat the banana.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 08:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | Spanish economy shrinks rapidly

Spain's economy suffered its largest contraction in 50 years in the first three months of 2009, preliminary estimates have shown.

GDP fell 1.8% from the previous quarter and was down 2.9% year-on-year, the National Statistics Institute said. It will release final data next week.

Economists said the falls were the steepest seen since 1959.

Spain had enjoyed 14 years of consecutive growth before entering recession in the last quarter of 2008.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:39:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow it's getting rough in Spain
by paving on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Standard and Poor's maintained Romania's rating at the junk level - Business - HotNews.ro
The financial evaluation company, Standard and Poor's maintained Romania's country rating at the junk level, following the country's economic environment into a deep recession, the agency informs on Thursday, quoted by Romanian news agency NewsIn. Moreover, the agency confirmed Romania's foreign credit rating of BB+/B and BBB-/A-3 for credits in lei due to the financial risks the country is facing.

The agency maintained Romania's rating at the junk level, as the country's unemployment deepened and threatens to decrease past the 11% threshold in 2011. Standard and Poor's analyst Marko Mrsnik declared that Romania's economy continues to be threatened by serious financial risks due to the steep fall of exports and lack of commercial credits.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US lawmakers target China currency policy
Firing angry remarks at China, US lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled a plan to retaliate against countries that allegedly manipulate their currencies to snare an edge in international trade.

"The time has come for Congress to stand up for American workers and not allow China to run roughshod over the American economy. With this legislation we will finally force China to stop cheating and level the playing field for America's manufacturers," said Republican Representative Tim Murphy.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, backed by Republicans and Democrats as well as business groups and major labor unions, aims to use US anti-dumping and countervailing duties to strike back at prolonged currency manipulation.

US lawmakers have long accused Beijing of keeping the yuan, or renminbi, artificially low -- a step that would boost its exports by making Chinese products less expensive relative to US goods on global markets.

"It's time to treat illegal currency intervention like the outrageous trade subsidy it is," Republican Senator Jim Bunning said as the legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Umm, guys, the horse has bolted. They own you.

Anyway, given the enthusiasm Washington has shown for legislating for jobs to be shipped overseas I think this is just a touch hypocritical. Y'mean ya only just noticed what would happen to the economy if you passed all them stupid laws ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methinks I've seen that movie before.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 09:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Geithner enriches speculators in "sham" bank bail-outs - Telegraph
The US Treasury's effort to stabilise the banking system through the TARP programme is a hopelessly ill-conceived policy that enriches speculators at public expense, according to the buy-out firm supposed to be pioneering the joint public-private bank rescues.

"The taxpayers ought to know that we are in effect receiving a subsidy. They put in 40pc of the money but get little of the equity upside," said Mark Patterson, chairman of MatlinPatterson Advisers.

The comments are likely to infuriate Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, because MatlinPatterson took advantage of the TARP's matching funds to buy Flagstar Bancorp in Michigan. His confession appears to validate concerns that the bail-out strategy is geared towards Wall Street.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:06:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What does he mean, "ill-conceived?"

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 09:04:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exposing the lie of the land | David McWilliams
Take a long look at the chart below. Digest it. Maybe look again if you have to. This happened in the most sophisticated economy in the world.

This is what happened to the price of development land in Japan. Prices roared upwards and then collapsed, ending up below where they started at the beginning at the boom. This is likely to happen here; development land is likely to settle back to 1996 prices. We haven't seen the half of it yet. When we hear some property lads talking about green shoots, this chart should be enough to tell them to snap out of it.

But we can't seem to snap out of it. We are still caught in the trap. We seem to believe that the price of houses and land will miraculously rise again some time soon. This will not happen. It can't and shouldn't. In fact, houses prices are likely to fall another 50 per cent from here before we see anything like the bottom.

International comparisons bear out these forecasts. Until now, many Irish people have clung to the myth of what I call `Dunnes Stores economics'. You know it: it is the school that suggests ``the difference is we're Irish''. Well, the bad news is that being Irish makes no difference at all. It offers no protection. What happened to the Japanese will happen here and, in terms of the recovery, the sooner the better.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:59:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a more detailed graph, showing Japan's "green shoots"? That might help in responding to the optimists.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 01:12:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not specific to the property market, but here's a green shoots assessment from RGEMonitor's recent newsletter, (so no link) Green Shoots Or Yellow Weeds?


Has Spring sprung in Japan? Some are seeing signs of green shoots.

Industrial production rose 1.6% month-over-month in March (the first gain in six months), while exports were up 2.2%. Japan's Economy Watchers' Survey has picked up from its record-low in December 2008. Meanwhile, the government's roughly $150 billion fiscal stimulus package, announced in April, is expected to provide a big jolt to the economy.

When you scratch the surface, however, these green shoots seem like nothing more than flights of fancy. Industrial production may have risen m/m in March, but production was still in freefall in y/y terms, dropping 35%. And while most analysts agree that the fiscal stimulus package will boost growth, most see this as only a short-term phenomenon.

Exports, production and capital expenditure have collapsed and the seeds of recovery are not yet visible. Given Japan's anemic domestic demand, most analysts agree that economic recovery depends upon the future course of Japan's exports. That means a recovery will depend heavily on an upturn in overseas economies or a restructuring of Japan's domestic economy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 05:21:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 08:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Another by the same artist.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 08:17:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Will the 'shadow inventory' stunt a housing recovery?

Tom Petruno,   LA Times   May 14, 2009

After every bear market on Wall Street, some investors are reluctant to buy because they believe many other investors will be anxious to sell into any rebound, swamping the market and stunting any recovery.


A new Zillow.com survey of 1,266 homeowners nationwide asks, "If you saw signs of a real estate market turnaround in the next 12 months, how likely would you be to put your home up for sale?"  Twelve percent of homeowners said they'd be "very likely" to try to sell into an improving market, 8% said they'd be "likely" to do so and another 12% said they'd be "somewhat likely."

Zillow refers to that total of 32% as the "shadow inventory" of homes.

"With almost a third of homeowners poised to jump into the market at the first sign of stabilization, this could create a steady stream of new inventory adding to already record-high inventory levels, thus keeping downward pressure on home prices," said Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president of data and analytics.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 11:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Toothless Watchdogs? Auditing the Audit Firms

Barron's  May 11, '09

In investor lawsuits filed in recent months, BDO Seidman and McGladrey & Pullen stand accused of shoddy audits and signing off on the books of fraud-ridden businesses and investment funds. The cases, together with a string of earlier ones involving the two firms, raise unsettling questions about the level of confidence investors can put in financial audits.

The two audit firms say they stand by their work, and there is, in fact, some murkiness about auditors' responsibilities for detecting fraud. The firms are supposed to "obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement, including misstatements caused by fraud," according to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the federal entity that supervises auditors of public companies. The gray area centers on what is reasonable, an issue that often plays out in the courts because accounting firms can be one of the only solvent players left when a company goes down.


California attorney Steven Thomas, who in 2007 won a $522 million jury award against BDO Seidman stemming from its Bankest audits, says the case reflects the kind of cozy interdependence that helped sink Enron and Arthur Andersen. "Auditors are supposed to have professional skepticism, and that is just inconsistent with the client relationships that they try to preserve to keep the money flowing," Thomas says.


The firm also is contesting a civil lawsuit from the collapse of Le-Nature's Inc., a Pennsylvania iced-tea producer shuttered in 2006 after allegedly faking $240 million in revenue, according to forensic accounting undertaken by a bankruptcy court. BDO Seidman auditors had certified that Le-Nature's financial statements were free from material error.

"There is a difference between being fooled and putting your head in the sand so you don't see things," says Robert Loigman, a New York lawyer representing Le-Nature's investors who sued (BDO Seidman). A tour of the company's Latrobe, Pa., warehouse would have made clear Le-Nature's wasn't selling $300 million worth of bottled drinks a year as claimed, he says.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 11:33:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

5 Economic Storms in the US

To come up with estimates of future losses, the government assumed what they call "a more adverse" scenario. But their more adverse scenario is actually less adverse than the current reality!

Hard to believe? Then just look at their own numbers in the chart the Fed published recently:

Maybe this was already posted at ET but I thought you would appreciate it anyhow.  Some no-bullshit reminders about the real state of the US economy, cutting through the fog of optimism currently permeating our media.

by paving on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 02:25:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: Could A Clean Energy Bank Wreck the Economy? Well, yes......

The Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office both have already projected a 50% or greater failure rate for loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. And there is no denying that the failure rate for renewable energy projects is going to be above zero, possibly above 20%. While it's fine for taxpayers to take some risk for new energy technologies, it's not fine to bet hundreds of billions of our dollars on new energy projects or take risks of 50% or more, especially on such capital intensive projects as new nuclear reactors, which are now projected to cost some $10 billion or more each.

And, for the skeptics out there, let's face facts: the nuclear power industry is the one most in need of this money. Why? Because there is no private capital available to support construction of new nuclear reactors.  It's that simple--private investors simply won't take that risk. If Bank of America or Citigroup have been thinking for the past few years that nuclear reactors are too risky but subprime mortgages aren't, then I have to think a 50% projected failure rate might be too low. Admittedly, these are somewhat hard times for new renewable energy facilities as well, but until last October money was flowing freely to them, and as the recovery begins, private investment will begin flowing to them again. But private money won't flow to nuclear power under any circumstances without the taxpayers taking the risk.

The reality is that the nuclear industry has already asked for $122 Billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees (most of which would actually be taxpayer-funded as well, through the Federal Financing Bank). And that would cover only about 20 reactors. Getting to the GOP's dream of 100 new reactors by mid-century (outlined by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, in the GOP Saturday radio address a couple weeks ago), would cost at least five times that amount--and that's before the cost overruns start rolling in. For comparison, a Department of Energy study of 75 existing reactors found an average cost overrun of 207%. If that level holds true for a new generation of reactors, we'd be looking at trillions of taxpayer dollars at risk.

Yes, I believe in supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency with taxpayer dollars--but limited taxpayer dollars. The potential for unlimited taxpayer loan guarantees for any technology offers the potential for economy-killing failure, for misdirection of money, for rampant corruption.

Have our Congressmembers learned nothing from the debacle of the banking, mortgage and various other crises? Apparently not.

'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 Fri May 15th, 2009 at 04:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:24:26 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Burma's Suu Kyi 'to face trial'

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to face trial for breaching the conditions of her detention under house arrest, her lawyer has said.

Ms Suu Kyi will stand trial on 18 May, the lawyer, Hla Myo Myint, said.

She was taken to a prison from her home in Rangoon, where she has spent most of the past 19 years, to hear the charges.

A US man whose uninvited visit to her home led to the charges, will also be tried on immigration and security offences, the lawyer added.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
some american loon swam across the lake in front of her house, wearing home-made flippers.

manchurian amphibious model, digitally controlled by sat feed?

'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 05:33:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Learning a Hard History Lesson in 'Talibanistan' - WSJ.com
To Accommodate New Troops, the U.S. Military Expanded a Base and Inadvertently Disrupted Ancient Afghan Canals

Deep beneath the desolate landscape here are miles of canals that have watered wheat fields and vineyards for untold generations. They're also at the center of a dispute that handed the Taliban a propaganda victory and angered the very people the U.S. military hopes to win over through its troop surge.

Rushing to expand a base to fit the new forces, American commanders seized farmland and built on top of these ancient underground-irrigation systems. The blunder is an indication of how fragile the effort to win public backing for the U.S.-led war can be. In some cases, the tension is over civilian casualties; in others, it's about the corruption of U.S. allies in the Afghan government. Here, it's an accidental clash of infrastructure technologies separated by a few yards of dirt and 3,000 years.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh come on please. there is nothing to indicate that they give a toss about the countries they're operating in. Remember this is the army that dug up Babylon for a supply depot.

winning hearts and minds is apparently best done through a bombsight from 40,000 feet.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Panel on Fatal Crash Looks at Pilots' Pay, Commutes - washingtonpost.com

Executives of Colgan Air struggled to defend the Manassas-based airline yesterday as details emerged about the low pay of its pilots, their long commutes and the need of some to hold second jobs. This Story

Colgan faced questions from the National Transportation Safety Board about its pilots on the second day of public hearings into the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which killed all 49 people on board and one on the ground near Buffalo on Feb. 12. It was the deadliest U.S. transportation accident in seven years.

Under questioning from the board, Mary Colgan Finnigan, Colgan's vice president for administration, confirmed that Rebecca Shaw, co-pilot of the fatal flight, drew an annual salary of about $16,200. The board also said that Shaw once held a second job in a coffee shop while working as a pilot for the airline in Norfolk.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Papers prove ship chartered by oil trader Trafigura dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast | Environment | The Guardian

Documents have emerged which detail for the first time the potentially lethal nature of toxic waste dumped by British-based oil traders in one of west Africa's poorest countries.

More than 30,000 people from Ivory Coast claim they were affected by the ­poisonous cocktail and are currently bringing Britain's biggest-ever group lawsuit against the company, Trafigura.

The firm chartered the ship, Probo Koala, which transported the cargo to Ivory Coast in 2006.

An official Dutch analysis of samples of the waste carried by the Probo Koala indicate that it contained approximately 2 tonnes of hydrogen sulphide, a killer gas with a characteristic smell of rotten eggs.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
- SIPRI Internet

(Stockholm, 12 May 2009) Air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilizing arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, according to a report released today.
Read the full press release in English here. Full press release in Swedish here. The full report 'Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows' can be downloaded here. Download the Executive Summary here. To book expert interviews, phone Daniel at +46 8 655 9738 or Stephanie at +46 8 655 9747.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:25:02 PM EST
French Pyrenees: bad news bears - Telegraph
Popular with conservationists, Parisians and France's first lady, brown bears have been reintroduced to the Pyrenees and infuriated sheep farmers - and their claws are out.

Softly spoken and charming, François Arcangeli is an unlikely recipient of death threats. Nor does Arbas - the tranquil and somewhat forlorn village tucked away in the foothills of the French Pyrenees 50 miles east of Lourdes where Arcangeli has been the mayor for 13 years - seem a likely location for violent demonstrations.

The cause of this unrest are brown bears.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:49:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arbas is a village that releases bears without the agreement of the vast majority of communes (municipalities) that will be affected, as the bears move around over a broad territory. Furthermore, these Slovenian bears are used to a low-mountain habitat. (One released at Arbas two or three years ago turned resolutely away from the mountains and walked almost to Toulouse.) So the bears are less in the upper mountains and more in the lower and in the valleys, where they do a fair amount of damage to flocks.

This isn't solving the problem of the extinction of Pyrenean brown bears. It just causes friction. There is no overall plan or agreement across all the mountainous area concerned. It seems to be motivated (in Arbas at least) by the realisation that the bear exercises powerful symbolic attraction and is therefore good for tourism.

I've got nothing against bears, but I think this way of doing things is counter-productive.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:40:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agricultural and Biofuel News: ENN -- Know Your Environment

GREENFIELD, Mass. -- U.S. sales of organic products, both food and non-food, reached $24.6 billion by the end of 2008, growing an impressive 17.1 percent over 2007 sales despite tough economic times, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which today made available final results from its 2009 Organic Industry Survey.

While the overall economy has been losing ground, sales of organic products reflect very strong growth during 2008. "Organic products represent value to consumers, who have shown continued resilience in seeking out these products," said Christine Bushway, OTA's Executive Director.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:57:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US And China Threaten European Solar Supremacy
Increased competition and the global economic crisis have cast clouds upon the Western European solar energy market. Falling polysilicon and solar module prices have the potential to cement China's role as a solar manufacturing hub.

In terms of installed capacity, the United States is playing a greater role as more and more states are putting the renewable energy standards into existence.

Despite these market developments and the current economic crisis, the future of Europe's solar energy market continues to appear bright as new emerging markets within Europe may turn into strong performers.

Europe and Japan were the original trailblazers of the solar energy industry; thus they have historically held the strongest positions.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:58:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Empire of Carbon | NYTimes.com - Paul Krugman

... Historical injustice aside, the Chinese also insisted that they should not be held responsible for the greenhouse gases they emit when producing goods for foreign consumers. But they refused to accept the logical implication of this view -- that the burden should fall on those foreign consumers instead, that shoppers who buy Chinese products should pay a "carbon tariff" that reflects the emissions associated with those goods' production. That, said the Chinese, would violate the principles of free trade.

Sorry, but the climate-change consequences of Chinese production have to be taken into account somewhere. And anyway, the problem with China is not so much what it produces as how it produces it. Remember, China now emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, even though its G.D.P. is only about half as large (and the United States, in turn, is an emissions hog compared with Europe or Japan). <...>

As the United States and other advanced countries finally move to confront climate change, they will also be morally empowered to confront those nations that refuse to act. Sooner than most people think, countries that refuse to limit their greenhouse gas emissions will face sanctions, probably in the form of taxes on their exports. They will complain bitterly that this is protectionism, but so what? Globalization doesn't do much good if the globe itself becomes unlivable.

It's time to save the planet. And like it or not, China will have to do its part.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 12:47:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate change 'biggest global health threat,' doctors warn
Climate change will present the greatest threat to health this century, amplifying the risk of disease, malnutrition and homelessness through floods, drought and rising sea levels, a medical panel said on Thursday.

"Even the most conservative estimates are profoundly disturbing and demand action," said the report, compiled over a year by The Lancet medical journal and experts from the Institute for Global Health at University College London.

"Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century."

The commission drew much of its data from the landmark Fourth Assessment Report, issued in 2007 by the UN's Nobel-winning climate experts, the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Changing weather patterns could widen the habitat of disease-bearing mosquitoes, bringing malaria and dengue to previously cold regions, while flooding in poor countries will be a boon for cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Indirect effects on health include malnutrition as a result of poor harvests; injury and death from storms; and vulnerability from migration, as populations flee swamped delta cities or civil unrest.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:00:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RFI - Save our seas at climate talks, ways oceans conference

Ministers and officials from more than 70 countries on Thursday called for oceans to be discussed at the next global climate change talks which aim to draw up a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The call comes from the World Ocean conference, meeting in Manado, Indonesia.

The Manado Ocean Declaration calls for cuts to ocean pollution, funding for sustainable development in poor countries, more research into how climate change affects the seas and the role oceans play in fighting climate change.

But it is non-binding and contains no specific commitments for funding or emissions targets, leading some scientists to claim that it is too weak to combat sea rises and the likely destruction of key species.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coral Triangle could die by century's end: WWF
Climate change could wipe out the world's richest ocean wilderness by the end of the century without drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, environmental group WWF said Wednesday.

Rising water temperatures, sea levels and acidity are threatening to destroy the vast region of Southeast Asia known as the Coral Triangle, labelled the ocean's answer to the Amazon rainforest, the WWF said in a new report.

Collapse of the reefs would send food production in the region plummeting by 80 percent and imperil the livelihoods of over 100 million people.

With too little action on climate change, "you get a world in which you have perhaps tens of millions of people homeless by the inundation of coastlines through rapid sea level rises," report lead author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said.

"You see the erosion of food security and you see a world by the end of this century which is, I think, pretty much a nightmare."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:01:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is your iPod killing the earth?
... The world would have to build about 200 nuclear power plants just to power all the TVs, iPods, PCs and other home electronics expected to be plugged in by 2030, when the global electric bill to power them will rise to $200 billion a year, the IEA [International Energy Agency] said.

Consumer electronics is "the fastest-growing area and it's the area with the least amount of policies in place" to control energy efficiency, said Paul Waide, a senior policy analyst at the IEA. <...>

Most of the increase in consumer electronics will be in developing countries, where economic growth is fastest and ownership rates of gadgets is the lowest, Waide said. ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:38:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be nice if somebody better versed in geosciences would parse this:

Cold Water Ocean Circulation Doesn't Work As Expected

ScienceDaily (May 14, 2009) -- The familiar model of Atlantic ocean currents that shows a discrete "conveyor belt" of deep, cold water flowing southward from the Labrador Sea is probably all wet.

New research led by Duke University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution relied on an armada of sophisticated floats to show that much of this water, originating in the sea between Newfoundland and Greenland, is diverted generally eastward by the time it flows as far south as Massachusetts. From there it disburses to the depths in complex ways that are difficult to follow.

A 50-year-old model of ocean currents had shown this southbound subsurface flow of cold water forming a continuous loop with the familiar northbound flow of warm water on the surface, called the Gulf Stream.

"Everybody always thought this deep flow operated like a conveyor belt, but what we are saying is that concept doesn't hold anymore," said Duke oceanographer Susan Lozier. "So it's going to be more difficult to measure these climate change signals in the deep ocean."

Wouldn't this seem to undermine the hypothesis that global warming could cause a little ice age in Northern Europe?

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 Fri May 15th, 2009 at 04:17:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Never trust a trailer. Nor, for that matter, a science-related press release.

  2. The surface currents are well described, and heating the Arctic does pose a risk that surface currents might be disrupted. AFAIK, it is a risk that is virtually impossible to meaningfully quantify - but then again, the consequences would be to turn Norway into something more reminiscent of Greenland, so I'm not sure that assigning probabilities is a meaningful exercise anyway...

  3. Ocean currents are complicated phenomena, and they are vital to The World As We Know It. Mess with them at the peril of catastrophic upheavals.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 03:13:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

did you know that:

australians are the most likely to use cold water for laundry to save energy?

most surveyed russians feel extra spending to go green is 'not worth it'?

 52% of french never fly in airplanes?

mexicans are the most likely to use a compact car?

for these and other fun-filled factoids, check out this cute mouse rollover map.

'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 Fri May 15th, 2009 at 04:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:25:22 PM EST
Europe to launch two space telescopes to study universe | Science & Technology | Deutsche Welle | 14.05.2009
The European Space Agency launches two powerful new flagship telescopes on Thursday to study space and time in more detail than in the past and give scientists a better and clearer window on the universe.  

The Ariane 5 launcher is to send the two observatories, Herschel and Planck, out to a position some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, giving the astronomical instruments an ideal station from which to view the universe.

The Herschel and Planck launch comes during the International Year of Astronomy, a busy year for ESA, and is worth some 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion).

In addition to the two observatories, ESA is also set to launch three satellites this year that will acquire key data about ice, gravity and soils on Earth.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Europe launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes | France 24
An Ariane rocket has launched two powerful space telescopes, Herschel and Planck, designed to help scientists better understand the formation and origins of the universe, as well as the formation of stars and galaxies.

Reuters - An Ariane rocket launched two scientific space observatories on Thursday that will help scientists better understand the formation of the universe, space officials said.

The rocket blasted off from the European Space Agency's (ESA) launch centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America at 10.12 am (1312 GMT).

With video

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:43:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Up launches Cannes film festival

Pixar film Up has opened the 62nd Cannes Film Festival - the first time an animation has launched the event on the French Riviera.

A host of celebrities donned 3D glasses for the film, not in competition, about a curmudgeonly man who ties balloons to his house in order to get airborne.

Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton was among those on the red carpet.

Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp are also all due in town, with new films to promote.

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:27:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Official Google Blog: This is your pilot speaking. Now, about that holding pattern...
Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That's basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.

An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We've been working hard to make our services ultrafast and "always on," so it's especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We're very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we'll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won't happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:05:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:25:43 PM EST
Divorce and `Daddy': Why Silvio Berlusconi is suddenly not so popular - Times Online

Nearly two weeks after his second wife, Veronica Lario, demanded a divorce over his relationships with starlets and with Noemi Letizia, to whom he gave a €6,000 (£5,400) pendant for her 18th birthday, the Italian Prime Minister's ratings have slipped by three points to 53 per cent. The poll also showed that the proportion of people expressing "little or no" confidence in Mr Berlusconi had risen by four points to 46 per cent.

The poll, by IPR and carried on La Repubblica's website, is the first full survey since the row with Ms Lario broke. It also showed overall support for Mr Berlusconi's centre-right Government slipping two points to 44 per cent, with the opposition Democratic Party rising two points to 33 per cent.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:00:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't tell you how much I abhor the new design of the Salon header. It ranks with some of the worst powerpoints I've seen. Better to be design-free than design-challenged.

I have tolerated the insipid 100% R, 100%  G, 80% Blue little text boxes and their horrid Quink blue headlines, but this latest outrage, along with the fairground section headers, makes me ashamed.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:24:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you looking for a job?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, because I have enough awful clients.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:36:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:43:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since when is ET awful?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:43:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is only awful in regarding words and facts as paramount.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:51:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Draw that comment!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:56:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:03:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are there words in it?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's for the younger readers...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hold it there, me ducks.

Sven, if the salon is visually a flop you're welcome to redesign it. You can use standard HTML to your heart's content.

If you two want to have a pie fight, pick another thread.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:07:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quink blue, what dat? And why would you feel ashamed unless ... ... you bailed at the eleventh hour.

uh oh.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:42:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is around 17% R, 50% G and 94% B. 5% R, 11% G and 55% B would at least have some reason behind its choice as an EU color - but I haven't looked up the official web colours for the EU blue. I doubt if ET blue corresponds.

I never bail - I ripple ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ripple. It's economical, no?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ripple is about changing frequencies. It is only economical in the sense that a symbiotic virus is economical.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:37:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if you mix it with half boone's farm strawberry!


'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 05:42:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you owe us your sketch of what it should be, smarty-boots.

(BTW, I think your comment goes over the top).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 04:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, first you would have to describe the limits and disadvantages of Scoop. I.e. issue a brief.

But then as you know I am all style and no substance.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:01:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to be pissed off by something other than the Salon headers.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all. I am just distressed by cosmetic surgery that makes the patient uglier.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Go away and sleep on it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't be patronising...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BWAHAHA and good night.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:10:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't try to be a mind-reader.  You aren't very good at it.  In fact, people rarely are.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
bwah. I was under the impression --until this moment-- Svanki was complaining about this one.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:29:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't in fact know you're all style and no substance. I do think your comment goes beyond the bounds of reasonable, not to say constructive, criticism.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As you will...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:09:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think users should be down-rated because they've expressed their opinion of the new site design.  

Down rating any criticism of the site a bit sketchier than expressing one's criticism, I think.  In fact, most sites make design changes from time to time, and they always come with some negative feedback.  It's a fact of life.  And most sites want to tailor their sites to their users needs.

Actually - now I am super creeped out.  

It's not like he was trolling or making personal attacks.  The new design is profoundly aesthetically displeasing to more than one person.  

You live in a world where not everyone is going to like everything you do.  Get a backbone.  

Take the opinions of others about your design into consideration or ignore them.  But you can't just give people low ratings for that.  It's not a personal attack.  It's a a longtime user and contributor commenting on the usefulness and tolerability of the design, fer crying out loud.  Take it or leave it.  

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

by poemless on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:19:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While I agree Sven's comment could have been more diplomatically phrased, I agree with poemless that downrating him for expressing an honest opinion is unjust.

Rather than have a flae war, let's just sleep on it huh ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 05:43:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a fan of the redesign either, or of the downrating.

The categories work well, the graphics don't.

Is there any good reason not to use some nicer looking jpegs as drop-in headers?

The election coverage logo looks much more believable in comparison.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:04:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not fighting for the headers (though I drew them up quite some time back to offer them as a possibility, and as they were well received among editors, Fran included them), and don't mind if they're kept or not. But there are those who like them (just as there are those who don't). We could put in jpegs, but the same problem would occur: likes and dislikes, strokes and folks.

What is unjustified imo is judging a Scoop site run by volunteers on professional criteria. Issuing a brief to a professional designer is not among ET's possibilities. Even if it were, there'd still be those who wouldn't agree with the result.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 03:30:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - yes and no. The problem with that argument is that it's not unusual now for amateur sites to look relatively polished. They may not be Scoop sites - which is a different issue - but readers won't be aware of that.

I think if there's any interest in being taken seriously, site design shouldn't be relegated to a side issue.

This doesn't mean it has to go through a total overhaul and a formal design process with briefs and a paid contract.

But if there are very negative reactions it might not hurt to try a range of possibilities, debate which ones are most popular, iterate, and converge on the look that's best received.

There's no reason design shouldn't be done in the same way that other collaborations are done here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 07:07:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've nothing in principle against "collaborative design". However, there has already been a lot of inconclusive meta-discussion about site design, the look of the front page, etc, and it's certain that even on quite major issues there has not been convergence. So the question is whether it's worth spending time on this, if in any case people don't agree in the end.

But people are free to post diaries here with their suggestions, if they think it's worthwhile.

A caveat: the Salon is Fran's contribution to the site, and she will in any case be the person who decides what look it has, just as each member does for their own diaries.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 10:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I gave Sven a 2 (not a troll-rating, as you well know) for the reason I explained - that his comments went imo way beyond reasonable or constructive criticism (which would have been welcome).

If "get a backbone" is addressed to me, I don't think you need worry.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 01:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
I can't tell you how much

but you can and did...

a bit discourteous for a vizier, sven!

i can't code for shit, so making an aesthetic judgement would be tactless, plenty of prettier sites, but none with the funk and grit of ET!

you can code, but don't want to offer a better version, what's with that?

it might not win any beauty contests, but CONTENT IS KING!

and for who ever it is responsible, well done for trying...

'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 05:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never have, beyond pascal. But I do know how to brief coders. And you are right -'Content is king'. So why cheapen it?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i guess ET's style is 'no-style', so far, straight down the line, little fuss or muss, to distract one from the content.

your presence, and others like you are the sizzle...


'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 08:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No style is fine. It's a useful statement or USP in the context of all the blogs around. Wikipedia does no-style very successfully. But no-style is not a substitute for simplicity and usability.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 05:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worst powerpoints - heh - not even close.

I don't like the new design, but it's not that much of a distraction to me. The graphics don't dominate the page. Until Jerome et al. have the resources to convert this place from scoop to something more web 2.0 as the oil drum did, I'm not going to complain.

Sadly, threaded comment structures are still a radical idea for most of the web - on that score this place still works pretty well, even if the "science" of web design should be further advanced 15 years on than it is.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 03:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Sven, I feel your comment is over the top - tone wise.

I am not totally comfortable with the new design either. But there were complaints that the Salon titel is confusing to newcomers and thus we tried to integrate a explanation for what the Salon is about into the header.

The culprit for the colors is me - I thought we should stick with the EU colors - however, one of the problems is, that different browsers and screens seem to show the colors differently. I tested it on different computers, on one the box looks yellow and on my laptop it looks pinkish. That difference also goes for other colors of the whole page.

Also it is not that we lack ideas and inspirations, but as Millman mentions, scoop seems to be limiting what can be implemented.

Hopefully with the new platform, new designs are going to be possible.

by Fran on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 03:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you not have phrased this more constructively?

The header stands out much better on the front page, meaning that new people to the site can easily go to that key place and know what it is about.  

As Fran said elsewhere, different monitors and browsers do weird things with the colours and we tried a bunch of combinations.  We can't do wonderful pretty things with scoop.

A lot of time and effort (not on my part) went into trying various versions and discussing what worked best.  The end result may not be appealing to everyone but a little more support wouldn't go amiss in providing suggestions for improvement, as poemless has done.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 06:32:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
The header stands out much better on the front page, meaning that new people to the site can easily go to that key place and know what it is about.  

finding the headers wasn't a problem before, now they scream.

we discussed revamping the salon a year or so ago iirc, cuz i remember asking if the headers could become links, taking you to that spot on the page directly, which would be dead handy when looking for the place to insert a blockquote. as more material is added and the salon becomes bigger and more commented, this would move from being a minor improvement to a real boon.

good idea tbg, about setting up different models and everyone pitching in on the aesthetics, (cosy consensus might be called for here!)

'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 Fri May 15th, 2009 at 09:28:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the links to the sections, the problem is that they would have to be redone every day, since each Salon is a new story. It's possible, but it's five or more minutes of finickity copy-pasting to do once the Salon is posted, just when the Salon poster is in a hurry to put up items.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 10:09:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Relative links would be okay for this. I.e. <a href="#1">Europe</a> will link to the first comment in the story, like this: Europe
As long as the sections are always posted in the same order this would work.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 11:30:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and I think what In Wales means by the header standing out on the front page is the top part above the fold. It has been pointed out in discussions that the previous above-the-fold bit didn't explain to the uninitiated what the Salon was about. Site regulars knew, but there was little incentive for a lurker or newcomer looking at the front page to click on Read more. This may explain why some critics at least felt that the Salon (an excellent feature) was for the ET initiated only.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 10:15:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes that is what I mean - thanks.  The bit that shows up on the FP.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 10:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh i thought you meant the banner at the beginning of each new section.

as for the c & p part, couldn't a template take care of that?

'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 Fri May 15th, 2009 at 10:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there's a way of automating the copy-paste. The section headers are top-level comments in the thread. The People and Klatsch section we're in now, for example, is headed by comment


If you wrote a macro introducing the http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/ bit which is invariable, you would still have to copy-paste the variable part 2009/5/9/12218/40958/7. It's attributed by Scoop when the comment is posted and can't be known in advance.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 11:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
someone has a bright idea above that cancels what I said. It's good having real techies around.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 11:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm experiencing a couple of technical difficulties with the site, including not being able to give any ratings.

Has anybody else found they have the same problem?

by Sassafras on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 03:22:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And while we are at it...

(get your 2's ready!)

It is not a "Review" but a "Survey" or a "Digest".  

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!

Should be something like:

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

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

by poemless on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:21:07 PM EST
Excellent contribution, thanks. Why should anyone want to furbish a 2?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 01:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, poemless - I like your version and will start using it when I prepare the next batch of headers.
by Fran on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 06:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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