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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 6 June

by Fran Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:59:29 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1599 – Birth of Diego Velázquez, a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary baroque period, important as a portrait artist. (d. 1660)

More here and here

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by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:25:11 PM EST
Obama meets Merkel at start of Germany visit | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 05.06.2009
In his third visit to Germany in the past year, US President Barack Obama is meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in the eastern city of Dresden before the two head off to visit the Buchenwald concentration camp. 

US President Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday morning in the eastern German city of Dresden, which was flattened by Allied bombing towards the end of World War II.

Obama, who has just finished a tour of the Middle East, was greeted by Merkel at his hotel in the center of the city, before they headed off on a tour of Dresden's highlights, including the Gruenes Gewoelbe museum and the recently rebuilt Frauenkirche.

After their meeting, the two leaders will travel west to visit to the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald, located just outside the city of Weimar, where they are expected to meet Holocaust survivors.  

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama in Germany: Open Arms for the German Chancellor - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Prior to US President Barack Obama's trip to Dresden this week, his allegedly tense relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel had filled the headlines. But on Friday, the two were all smiles. And Obama had a message to the gathered journalists: 'Stop it!'

The elderly woman in the red fleece jacket was, for a moment, disgusted. "What?" she demanded. "That was it? He's already gone?" It was shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning and the woman had just arrived at the Altmarkt square in Dresden's city center, where a band was playing "Copacabana" on a stage decorated with red, white and blue balloons. The woman was standing in front of a huge television screen that the city had mounted for the occasion, and it was showing images of the US president on the steps leading up to Air Force One. He waved quickly and disappeared into the aircraft.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Cool reception to compulsory EU sharing of asylum 'burden'

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Italy, which has been under fire for its treatment of migrants in particular since in May it forcibly returned hundreds of people intercepted in its territorial waters to Libya, has called for "obligatory burden sharing" among EU member states when it comes to taking in asylum seekers.

Thousands of African migrants risk their life crossing the Mediterranean to the EU every year

On Thursday (4 June), EU interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg discussed how to tackle the increasing number of migrants coming from the Mediterranean, especially to particular member states such as Italy and Malta.

Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni, a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League, said before the meeting that proposals made recently by the European Commission in that respect were "interesting, but ... not sufficient."

"We asked for obligatory burden sharing, the proposal foresees a voluntary system ... so those who don't want to needn't take in any refugees," Mr Maroni told journalists.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:30:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slovakia and Hungary - Patriot flames -  Respekt/Presseurop

Disquieting tensions between Slovakia and Hungary are not likely to be dispelled any time soon. Adrift in the polls, sovereigntist groups like Ján Slota's Slovak National Party and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia led by Vladimír Mečiar are counting on Hungarian populists and a dispute about Slovakia's Hungarian minority to make up lost ground.

While Hungary is preparing for the return to power of populist Viktor Orbán, in Slovakia Ján Slota has fallen on hard times. In the past, voters tolerated his brutality and his ostentatious taste for luxury, but it now seems that the favourite from the extreme right has overstepped the mark. The European Commission recently invalidated a call for tender organized by Slovakia, in which several billion euros were at stake, on the basis that the money would be distributed among Slota's friends. In recent weeks, he has also been on the receiving end of hostile attention in the media: reports on his luxury car collection have raised questions about his tax returns, and he has also been admonished for an incident in which he insulted a woman police officer.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:32:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi probed over plane use

talian PM Silvio Berlusconi is being investigated for misuse of public funds after photos showed he had used state aircraft to fly friends to Sardinia.

Mr Berlusconi confirmed on Thursday that he had been formally placed under investigation by prosecutors, but said the probe would be "swiftly shelved".

He insisted he was allowed to transport "people he needs" for security reasons.

Photographs of a naked man and topless women at the villa have been published by Spanish newspaper El Pais.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi fury over naked photos

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has reacted angrily to the publication in Spain of photographs showing topless women and a naked man at his villa.

He has threatened to sue Spain's El Pais newspaper, calling the photos an invasion of privacy.

The photos - banned in Italy on privacy grounds - were taken from outside Mr Berlusconi's villa in Sardinia during a party for a Czech delegation.

He also faces a probe for using state aircraft to fly guests to Sardinia.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:33:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi: the singers, statesmen and models at his Sardinian villa - Times Online

Singers, statesmen, a Big Brother housemate and of course, a mysterious teenage model from Naples: to be invited to parties at Silvio Berlusconi's sumptuous Sardinian home is to belong to a diverse and tight-lipped club.

As the Italian Prime Minister continues to block the publication of photos allegedly showing semi-clad young women at his private villa, more accounts have emerged of his controversial parties on the Costa Smeralda.

Elisa Alloro, 33, a former showgirl turned television presenter, has offered the first glimpse behind the closed gates of Villa Certosa, describing the 72-year-old billionaire as an exuberant host who likes to give the young women on his guest list tips on how to wear their hair and lectures them on botany.

Her account coincides with reports by Italian media which name a former nude model, Sabine Began, as the "Queen Bee" among the succession of pretty girls at Mr Berlusconi's parties.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:34:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi's new headache | Elections 09

Former EU commissioner Emma Bonino and more than 150 of her supporters are entering their third day of hunger strike in protest at what they claim is discrimination by Italian television against parties opposed to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Bonino claims her Radical Party has not been given equal air time and that the state broadcaster RAI is failing to obey a ruling by the country's media watchdog. When the broadcaster failed to comply, Bonino, a minister under former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, and her supporters occupied a part of the RAI studios in Rome in protest. "In Italy nobody knows what they are voting for, what is the European parliament, who is standing or on what platform," she told the Financial Times, blaming Berlusconi for undermining the debate.

Silvio Berlusconi controls either directly, through his ownership of private broadcaster Mediasat, or indirectly through the state, more than 90 per cent of Italian TV. He has regularly been accused of abusing that power for both his political and business interests.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 05:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He has regularly been accused of abusing that power for both his political and business interests.

Plain facts aren't accusations. The sun has been accused of rising in the east every morning.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 05:35:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
has the sun been sentenced? Otherwise, it's innocent!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:07:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Photographs show 'naked' Czech ex-PM at Berlusconi's villa - Times Online

Yesterday Mirek Topolanek, who was the Czech Prime Minister last summer at the time that the photograph was taken, admitted that he was the man seen cavorting at the Villa Certosa, which is at the centre of the growing scandal.

"It is me in the photo," said Mr Topolanek, who resigned in March after he lost a confidence vote. He said that the photographs had been doctored and accused "European socialists" of orchestrating a smear campaign. "I did not know that the [European] elections were so important for the European socialists that they would do such manipulations," said Mr Topolanek.

The revelation has broadened what was an Italian scandal, about Mr Berlusconi's private life, into an international one. Many world leaders have been regular visitors to the villa; the Blairs were guests there in 2004.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 12:40:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He said that the photographs had been doctored

Excuse me but what could he possibly mean? That his dick is bigger?...

LOL. The ODS should have remained in the EPP, they fit together sooo well...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 07:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More walkouts hit Brown reshuffle - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
Gordon Brown backed away from shifting Alistair Darling out of Number 11 today as he shook up his top team - and saw two more ministers resign.

Mr Brown had seemed determined to make his close ally Ed Balls chancellor, but sources confirmed he will now remain as schools secretary.

Mr Brown was also hit with two more Cabinet resignations.

Firstly, the Defence Secretary John Hutton announced he was stepping down, although he insisted his decision to quit was taken for entirely personal reasons and pledged his support for Mr Brown from the backbenches.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:35:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gordon Brown vows to 'fight on' - Telegraph
Caroline Flint has accused Gordon Brown of treating her as "female window dressing" as the Prime Minister announced he would "fight on" .

"I will not waver. I will not walk away. I will get on with the job," Mr Brown promised at a press conference.

Even as the Prime Minister defended himself, it emerged that Miss Flint had become the sixth Cabinet minister to step down in the past week.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:50:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:

European Tribune - Meltdown

Right so, the UK Government is falling apart at astonishing speed.  Helen started to chart this in her recent diary but developments have been taking place at such a rate I feel that a round up is needed.
by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:58:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | Debris 'not from Air France jet'

Debris recovered from the Atlantic by Brazilian search teams is "sea trash" and not from a lost Air France jet, a Brazilian air force official has said.

Brig Ramon Borges Cardoso contradicted earlier reports, saying "no material from the plane has been recovered".

Teams found buoys and a wooden pallet and spotted a fuel slick, and are now searching for an airline seat and a chunk of metal seen earlier this week.

Relatives have been told that there is no hope of survivors being found.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Air France says it's replacing flight instruments - Yahoo! News

An Air France memo to its pilots Friday about the crash of Flight 447 said the airline is replacing instruments that help measure airspeed on all its medium- and long-haul Airbus jets.

Investigators have focused on incorrect speed readings as one potential factor in the crash. <...>

One theory: the outside probes that feed speed sensors may have iced over, giving incorrect information to the plane's computers. The autopilot may have then directed the plane to fly too fast or too slow when it met turbulence from towering thunderstorms. ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 02:24:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aha!  We NOW know the reason behind the crash!

The Airbus telex has revived a long-standing debate among pilots over whether the Airbus planes are overly complex.

More than 300 aircraft similar to the missing Air France jet are in service worldwide.

Investigators do not know if Flight AF447 was travelling at an incorrect speed as it crossed a storm cluster.

An aviation expert, who declined to be named, said the plane's airspeed sensors, called pitot tubes, work on air pressure and might provide incorrect readings if they get obstructed by objects such as ice.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:42:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Finally a US President who is neither an idiot nor a sociopath.  Where will it lead?  Let us hope.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:10:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:25:36 PM EST
EUobserver / Netherlands embraces far right in EU elections

The Dutch far-right Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders made the greatest leap forward in the country's EU elections on Thursday (4 June), with 16.9 percent in exit polls. But the ruling conservatives came top overall.

The result is a major victory for the openly anti-Islamic party, giving it four seats in the European legislature and a possibility that this could rise to five once the final count is completed.

Neo-nazi youth look on as Geert Wilders campaigns in Leeuwarden, Netherlands

The Freedom Party came second only to the ruling Christian Democrats (CDA) of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, which exit polls suggest will win 20 percent of the vote or five of the 25 seats up for grabs.

This is a fall of four percent from the last European elections in 2004, resulting in the loss of two MEPs for the party.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:29:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Flight to the Fringes: Wilders Big Winner of Dutch EU Elections - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Populist Dutch politician Geert Wilders' right-wing party scored big in European elections held in the Netherlands on Thursday. The Party for Freedom is now the second largest Dutch party in Brussels, with the far left having made gains as well.

 Geert Wilders (left) celebrates the European election results with his party colleague Barry Madlener on Thursday night. Geert Wilders and his populist Party for Freedom (PVV) appeared to be the big winners of Thursday's elections for European Parliament in the Netherlands. Exit polls released soon after the Dutch voting stations closed at 9 p.m. on Thursday evening predicted he would get four of the 25 Dutch seats in the European Parliament, making the PVV the second largest of all Dutch parties in Brussels.

Wilders, who has become popular in the Netherlands running on an anti-Islam and anti-political establishment platform, promised voters he would be tough on immigration and criticized Turkey's bid to join the EU. "Should Turkey as an Islamic country be able to join the European Union? We are the only party in Holland that says, it is an Islamic country, so no, not in 10 years, not in a million years," Wilders said.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:31:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other party in the Netherlands to be strengthened in the Thursday vote is the left-wing liberal -- and most outspokenly pro-European party in the Netherlands -- D66. It grew from one to three seats in the European parliament. The boost for these two parties showed that Dutch voters are moving to the fringes of the political spectrum.

Since when is D66 in the fringes of the political spectrum? It may have lost a lot of seats in the national parliament, but it seems to be pretty mainstream nonetheless.

Oh, wait, I forgot it is left liberal. That explains it.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One take-away is that left-leaning parties and the far-right nutters won, but not the Mushy middle.  This is good news, yeah?
by paving on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 03:44:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
D66 has been part of some of the Balkenende cabinets. They are not "fringe".

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 07:57:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is obviously an extremist, ideological, position.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:08:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Commission criticises Dutch for early results publication

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European commission on Friday asked the Dutch authorities for clarification regarding the publication of preliminary results in the Netherlands ahead of 7 June, when the results of all 27 member states are supposed to be announced.

Dutch media cited preliminary results on Thursday evening after the Netherlands closed its ballot boxes, indicating an unexpected boost of the far-right, which came in second with almost 17 percent of the votes, while the ruling Christian-Democratic party came in first with 20 percent.

Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende's centre-right party came out first, according to the preliminary results

The Dutch, along with the UK, were the first to go to the polls, with the Irish and Czechs voting today (5 June) and the rest of the member states over the weekend. Results are supposed to be announced at 10pm on Sunday.

"There is a ban on the publication of any results ahead of 7 June, be they preliminary, partial or complete. These results cannot be released to the media or pollsters until the elections. This does not prevent the media to take stock and publish private exit polls", EU commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said at a press conference on Friday.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Campaign fired up by contentious exchange | France 24
French MoDem Party chief and a Green Party candidate exchanged harsh words on a live televised debate, with the former accusing the latter of having defended pedophilia, in one of the few memorable moments of this year's campaigns.

AFP - The European parliamentary election campaign may not have fired up voters, but it has triggered an ugly debate among French political chieftains, who traded bitter insults at a televised debate.
The most heated exchange was between the leaders of the parties battling for third place, when Francois Bayrou of the centrist Modem accused Green flag-bearer and Daniel Cohn-Bendit of having defended paedophilia.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:36:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By afew:

European Tribune - What Is To Be Done?

Who wrote this? (Hint: someone with the self-assurance and sense of humour to give the book it's from the Leninesque title above).
by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:42:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Local election results map 2009 | Politics | guardian.co.uk
Get the latest results from council elections around England as they come in
by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Video: Labour Party suffers heavy losses in council elections - Times Online

Comment Central: Results and reshuffle, as they happen

Live election map

A humiliating day of local election results was expected to culminate tonight with confirmation that Labour no longer controls a single county council in England.

The party lost Derbyshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire to the Conservatives after two decades of control in the Midlands and the North West. Nottinghamshire also looked likely to fall tonight.

  [Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:57:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 2009 school mock election has presented their results. Much less ambitious then the national school mock elections, this featured only 4842 votes from 26 schools.

The results in terms of seats would have - if high school kids ruled the land - been:

Pirate Party 5 seats (+5) Group: Likely Green, depends on post-election negotiations
Green Party 3 (+2) Green
Soc Dem 3 (-2) PES
Moderaterna 2 (-2) EPP
Sverigedemokraterna 2 (+2) UEN
Vänsterpartiet 1 (-1) EUL-NGL
Folkpartiet 1 (-1) ALDE
Centerpartiet 1 (+-0) ALDE
Kristdemokraterna 0 (-1) EPP
Junilistan 0 (-3) ID

In terms of party groups Greens goes up 7 seats, UEN takes two seats, while everyone else loose.

Obviously high school students do not rule the land, but this very encouraging news for Greens and Pirates. This big sample of 16-19 year olds does indicate something of the ever so important first time voters preferences (18-21 year olds).

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

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 04:55:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:26:02 PM EST
Central Bank Forecast: German Economy to Contract by 6.2 Percent - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, is reporting the country's economy will contract by 6.2 percent in 2009 as a result of the global economic crisis. A recovery is expected to start in 2010, but economists warn Germany will struggle at least until 2013.

After a disastrous first quarter, a new forecast from Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, indicates pressure on the German economy will lessen later in 2009. "The German economy is currently in a sharp recession," the bank said in a statement on Friday. "Downward pressure on the German economy is likely to ease during the course of 2009." Still, any kind of upturn isn't expected until 2010.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not much better than Spain, which is coming in at around -7.2% IIRC
by paving on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 03:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Time for an update.  (H/T to Yves Smith)

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 01:17:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the color for the update is in honor of our famous "green shoots."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 01:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:26:25 PM EST
Report: US to go for own sanctions on NKorea - washingtonpost.com

SEOUL, South Korea -- The United States has told South Korea that it will impose its own financial sanctions on the North apart from punishments the U.N. has been mulling for Pyongyang's latest nuclear test, a news report said Friday.

The U.S. sanctions call for blacklisting foreign financial institutions that help the North launder money and conduct other dubious deals, the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg briefed the South Korean president on the new sanctions at a meeting Thursday, the mass-market paper said, citing an unidentified official at the presidential office. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul could not confirm the report.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:28:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Voters flock to Lebanon's knife edge vote

All flights to Beirut are full and most hotels in the city are booked, as tens of thousands of Lebanese abroad come home to vote in Sunday's parliamentary election.

Throughout the campaign, political parties have been criticised, and have accused each other of spending millions on offering free trips to Beirut in exchange for votes.

"I think there's been a huge amount of money spent here, per capita more than anywhere else on any election in the world, and this money distribution certainly deligitimises the election," says Karim Makdisi, a political scientist at the American University of Beirut.

But between hugs and kisses in the crowded arrivals hall of Rafik Hariri International Airport, Rima said she had paid for her own passage home.

"I had to be part of this historic moment, our future is being decided" said Rima, a student at Harvard University in the United States.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:32:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Raw Story | Rumsfeld to 'face difficulties' over Guantanamo: UN expert

Former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld could soon be in trouble for the role he played in human rights abuses committed in the Guantanamo prison, a United Nations expert said Wednesday.

"In a year or two, his responsibilities will be established. Wherever he goes, he will face difficulties," Leandro Despouy, who is Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, told journalists in Geneva.

A US bipartisan Senate report released late last year found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees in US custody.

It said Rumsfeld authorised harsh interrogation techniques on December 2, 2002 at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:26:50 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Tickled apes yield laughter clue

New research has given credence to the idea that laughter evolved in a common ancestor of the great apes and humans.

Researchers tickled 22 young apes and three humans and acoustically analysed the laughing sounds that resulted.

Though the vocalisations varied, the team found that the patterns of changes fit with evolutionary splits in the human and ape family tree.

The research in Current Biology also suggests that gorillas and bonobos have some control over their breathing.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:38:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain's atomic test veterans win right to sue for compensation - Telegraph
Britain's atomic test veterans, involved in nuclear tests in the 1950s, have won their High Court bid for the right to sue the Government for compensation.

Around 1,000 servicemen who blame their ill-health on their involvement in the nuclear tests want to sue the Ministry of Defence.

The veterans, who took part in the programme on the Australian mainland, Monte Bello islands and Christmas Island, between 1952 and 1958, say that new scientific evidence has shown links between exposure to ionising radiation and their conditions, which include cancer, skin defects and fertility problems.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:27:18 PM EST
Trans-Atlantic Comparisons (2): Why Europeans Have It Wrong About Americans - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Many Europeans think that the US is full of gun-toting maniacs and illiterate morons. In part two of his series on trans-Atlantic differences, American historian Peter Baldwin shows why Europeans have this -- and plenty of other facts about America -- plain wrong.

In a three-part essay for SPIEGEL ONLINE, American historian Peter Baldwin argues that the EU and the US are much more similar than they think. You can read part one of his essay here.

When compared to Europe, the US welfare state is often portrayed as miserly and undeveloped. And so it is, if the standard is taken to be Sweden or Germany. But if we look at the span of social policy across Europe, a different picture emerges.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:10:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they are this shrill, the Atlanticists must be really desperate. Seems like their Obama effect is gone.

Chew on this piece of misleading graph. (Especially Jérôme.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:30:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The genius of George Orwell - Telegraph
Next week marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Jeremy Paxman pays tribute to one of England's greatest writers.

If you want to learn how to write non-fiction, Orwell is your man. He may be known worldwide for his last two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. But, for me, his best work is his essays.

Who would have imagined that sixteen hundred words in praise of the Common Toad, knocked out to fill a newspaper column in April 1946, would be worth reprinting sixty years later? But here it is, with many of the characteristic Orwell delights, the unglamorous subject matter, the unnoticed detail (''a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature'') the baleful glare, the profound belief in humanity. Because what the piece is really about, of course, is not the toad itself, but the thrill of that most promising time of year, the spring, even as seen from Orwell's dingy Islington flat.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I first heard about Hans Rosling a couple of years back on EuroTrib.  Google has since acquired his Trendalyzer software and used it to create a Google gadget called Motion Chart.

You can play with Rosling's Gapminder tool here.

See a thread on Rosling here.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 02:42:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Astoundingly, I had not heard of classical guitarist Eliot Fisk until I caught him on a radio show this morning.

I urge anyone who enjoys classical guitar, or any kind of music for that matter, to have a listen:

Classical Guitarist Eliot Fisk | WBUR and NPR - On Point with Tom Ashbrook

The classical guitar -- and for that matter, the instrumental root of every head-banging Guitar Hero rocker -- goes back to the lute and Spanish vihuela.

In the 18th century, the modern six-string guitar emerged for a heyday. It came back, classically, with Spanish great Andres Segovia in the 1920s. And half a century later, Segovia handed the tradition to a young Eliot Fisk.

Now virtuoso in his own right, Fisk carries the torch for a musical tradition -- and a role for the guitar as exquisite cultural bridge.

This hour, On Point: A conversation with classical guitar virtuoso Eliot Fisk.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 02:57:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone in Boston next week, Fisk will be performing at the Boston Guitar Fest on Saturday, June 13.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 03:01:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
looking for YouTube clips of Fisk, I discovered another guitarist named 李潔 Li Jie more deserving to be called "virtuoso" than Fisk.  Here are their two performances of Paganini's Caprice no. 24 (Fisk does his own arrangement, but it is too ambitious methinks):

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 09:39:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I much prefer the Fisk version. It's scrappy, anarchic and out of control, and I'd guess it's much closer to what Paganini intended.

The other is rather polite and 'classical'.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 08:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama tackles the French on the hijab | The Observers

When Obama said that Western countries should avoid "dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear", it could have been perceived as a personal attack in France. The hijab, along with all religious symbols, was banned in French schools in 2004. Read more...

The French government's decision to ban pupils from wearing "ostentatious religious symbols" caused a ruckus with hijab-wearers in the country when it was first enforced. Although the law remains in place five years on, Obama's highly critical comments on the subject come as a slap in the face for the French model. Our Observers who wear, or have worn the hijab, give us their opinion.

The statements in question:

The United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.

It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit -- for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.  We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. 

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 05:00:11 PM EST
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In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:20:00 PM EST
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Huh!? What was the political rationale of this alost Bush-like "diplomacy"?....

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:27:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It makes perfect sense for him as U.S. president addressing a predominantly Muslim audience to speak out on this issue the way he did.  The political rationale was to win over the Muslim audience he was talking to.  At the same time, he was articulating a wide-held interpretation in the U.S. of freedom of religion as a fundamental human right and its proper place within society at large.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 10:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad Science: Illegal downloads and dodgy figures | Ben Goldacre | Comment is free | The Guardian
You are killing our creative industries. "Downloading costs billions," said the Sun. "MORE than 7 million Brits use illegal downloading sites that cost the economy billions of pounds, government advisers said today. Researchers found more than a million people using a download site in ONE day and estimated that in a year they would use £120bn worth of material."

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 07:21:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:27:40 PM EST
Barack and Michelle Obama decline dinner with the Sarkozys - Times Online

The Obamas turn up in Paris this evening, but have declined a dinner invitation from the couple next door: the Sarkozys.

President Obama's reluctance to spend more than minimum time with the French leader on his visit for the D-Day anniversary has come as an embarrassment to the Elysée Palace.

America's First Family will not be dining with President Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, even though they are staying at the residence of the US Ambassador, yards from the Elysée apartments where the Sarkozys spend their weekends.

Mr Sarkozy's staff were trying yesterday to arrange another private moment between the couples. Mr Obama is due to fly back to Washington tomorrow night or on Sunday.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 01:40:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So I guess Merkel is in the lead to be the new Puppy?
by paving on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 03:50:57 PM EST
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LOL. Compare to this piece of German Altanticist whining... (Especially the part about how Obama must like the toe-licking Sarko so much better...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's why we have all these helicopters circling overhead.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or maybe because of this:

Michelle Obama Visits Eiffel Tower With Sasha And Malia, Wears Stylish Scarf (PHOTOS)

PARIS -- Michelle Obama and her two daughters have paid a surprise visit to the Eiffel Tower.

The first lady, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha spent about 45 minutes at the Parisian icon Friday night as President Barack Obama was arriving in France.

An Associated Press Television News journalist saw the three enter the Eiffel Tower by the south pillar. Michelle Obama waved to tourists who squealed and greeted her back.

by Fran on Fri Jun 5th, 2009 at 06:23:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Lee's Dragon co-star dies at 96

Veteran actor Shih Kien, who played Bruce Lee's archrival in the movie Enter the Dragon, has died aged 96.

Shih made his film debut in 1940 and went on to star in around 350 films.

He is best known by western audiences as the one-handed criminal mastermind Han in the film which launched martial artist Lee to stardom in 1973.

AKA Shek Kin.

by lychee on Sat Jun 6th, 2009 at 12:22:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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