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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 10 June

by Fran Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:57:04 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1819 – Gustave Courbet, a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting, was born. (d. 1877)

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 EUROPE 

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:31:32 PM EST
EUobserver / Sarkozy vows to change Europe after EU elections success

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said his party's victory in Sunday's European elections showed that French people wanted the EU to change and has said he would come up with initiatives in that respect "in the days to come."

In a communique published Monday (8 June) on the French president's website, Mr Sarkozy said that his centre-right UMP party's victory showed French people's "recognition for the work accomplished during the French presidency of the European Union [in the second half of last year] and their support for the efforts undertaken by the government to bring to an end an unprecedented global crisis".

Mr Sarkozy says his party's score in the elections showed French people's support for the achievements of France's EU presidency last year

The UMP was a clear winner in the elections in France on Sunday, obtaining some 28 percent of the votes - way ahead of the main opposition party of the Socialists (16.5%), who came neck and neck with the French Greens (16.3%).

In the previous European elections in 2004, the UMP had come second (with 16.6% of the votes), far behind the Socialists (28.9%). At the 1999 elections, it had only come third, after the Socialists and the far-right list of Charles Pasqua and Philippe de Villiers.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Johnson would deny Tories outright victory - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
Exclusive: 'Independent' poll reveals that new leader could transform Labour's prospects

Alan Johnson would deny David Cameron an overall majority at the next general election if Labour ditched Gordon Brown and installed him as prime minister, according to a new poll for The Independent.

The ComRes survey provides the first evidence that a change of leader could dramatically transform Labour's prospects. The findings were described as "stunning" by rebel Labour MPs last night. They believe it could influence Labour's agonised debate over whether it should back or sack the beleaguered Prime Minister.

Under Mr Brown's leadership, the Conservative Party would win an overall majority of 74, according to ComRes. But if Mr Johnson, the Home Secretary, replaced Mr Brown, the Tories would be six seats short of a majority in a hung parliament - raising the prospect of a deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats to keep the Tories out. Mr Johnson is the only one of eight possible Labour leaders who could prevent an outright Tory victory. Under Jack Straw, David Miliband, Jon Cruddas, Ed Balls, Harriet Harman, James Purnell or Mr Brown, Mr Cameron would win a majority of between 10 and 94, ComRes found. Significantly, Labour would do better under Mr Straw, Mr Miliband, Mr Cruddas and Mr Balls than under Mr Brown.

Mr Johnson is also the most popular of the eight contenders among people who regard themselves as natural Labour supporters and among people who backed the party at the last general election. Charles Clarke, who called on the Prime Minister to stand down at a packed meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) last night, said of the ComRes survey: "This poll is the convincing evidence that Labour needs a serious and considered debate about its future direction and leadership."

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:42:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On what basis does this happen ? What has he done ? What has he said that suddenly persuades a solid portion of a potential electorate to decide he shall be the Chosen One ?

The only person who's been talking about him has been Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, apart from that he's just another anonymous NuLab apparatchik. this is nonsense on stilts and if Johnson has any sense whatsoever he should keep his head down and remain being considered the Leader Waiting in the Wilderness. Cos if you can't actually prevent disaster, and on a scale of 1 to 10 of inevitability this disaster is already Spinal Tapped up to 11, being labelled a Saviour tends to end badly. Far better to come in after the bus has crashed and pick up the pieces.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:42:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
not being Tony or Gordon? Isn't that enough?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:50:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't know. You could read this as suggesting that Labour supporters - both of them - would rather vote for someone they've never heard of than someone who's a familiar name.

Alan Johnson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

His voting record from the Public Whip sees him voting strongly in favour of ID Cards and student top-up fees. He also voted strongly in favour of the Iraq war and Labour's anti-terror laws. Furthermore, he voted strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.

Or it could be that he's the new host for the red-eyed bile-spitting demon which was possessing Blair, and it wants another spin on the merry-go-round.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:51:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tbg, would you please hand me the tissue to wipe the coffee off my screen? thanks.

not to mention Helen's "nonsense on stilts."

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Baltic Sea strategy to combat pollution and regional disconnections

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Wednesday is set to present a strategy and action plan for the Baltic Sea region aimed at cleaning up the heavily polluted sea, interconnect power grids and transport networks, tear down trade barriers and combat trafficking and organised crime along the borders, according to two draft documents seen by EUobserver.

Pollution and lack of oxygen are slowly killing the Baltic Sea.

The strategy, aimed at better integrating various initiatives by member states and regional co-operation networks, is focusing on four core priorities - environment, economy, energy and transport, safety and security.

Each of the eight member states involved - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden - is penned down as "co-ordinator" for one or several of the 15 actions outlined in the 68-page-long action plan accompanying the strategy.

The strategy is a first attempt to have a co-ordinated approach in a so-called EU macro-region - the Baltic Sea region covering 106 million people, or 23 percent of EU's population. A similar approach to the Danube region or the Alps could also follow, if this one proves successful, and could have an impact on the priorities for regional funding in the next seven-year EU budget period starting in 2014.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:44:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU should be talking to Hamas, says former EU adviser

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The EU's refusal to talk to Hamas is based on simplistic assumptions and is damaging the peace process, according to an expert on political Islam and a former adviser to the EU.

"It's a huge mistake. I think one of the strategic mistakes for the European position in this area and a mistake which directly undermines European security both in this region and in Europe itself," Alastair Crooke, the head of the Beirut-based NGO, Conflicts Forum, told EUobserver.

A pro-Hamas rally in the West Bank

EU diplomats in the Palestinian territories still have "administrative level" contacts with the militant group on issues such as managing election monitoring missions or in special cases, such as trying to secure the release of kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in 2007.

But EU states in 2006 made a political decision to halt high-level discussions until Hamas renounces violence and accepts the right of Israel to exist. The group is also listed on the EU's register of terrorist entities, putting a legal block on financial assistance.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but that well known EU country, the USA, is firmly against talking to Hamas in case we upset their Likud leaders. So the have wielded their veto.

That it might be counter-productive, that it might be against the long term interests of the EU, Palestine and Israel is neither here nor there. We must all do what Likud say or they'll bomb Iran and start WWIII

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU states in 2006 made a political decision to halt high-level discussions

Big mistake, considering Hamas had just won an overwhelming mandate in an election.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:24:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that was just a populist vote. It wasn't Democracy™ and it didn't matter.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:53:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was a change in EU policy, pushed by Bushistas like Blair and Barroso...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:07:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
British Prime Minister Brown weathers political storm, for now | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 09.06.2009
Two days after disastrous EU election results for Britain's ruling Labour party, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has fought off calls for his resignation. 

In a closed-door meeting with his 350 members of parliament on Monday night, Brown said he was determined to continue running the country, but that he knew there was room for improvement in his leadership skills.  

 

"I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses," Brown told the MPs. "I know there are some things I do well, some things not so well." He added that he had much to learn about a collective way of leading the party and the government.

 

Brown described the past week, which saw 11 of his ministers resign and his party take a severe battering in both local and EU elections, as one of the toughest of his premiership. But he said the time had come for Labour to reunite behind him.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Labour Party collectively stared into the Abyss .. and liked what they saw.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le Monde's Jean-Marie Colombani interviewed in El Pais.

"Sarkozy quiere que González sea presidente de Europa" · ELPAÍS.comSarkozy wants González as President of Europe - El Pais.com
Pregunta. ¿Qué opina de la eventual reelección de José Manuel Durão Barroso como presidente de la Comisión?Q: What is your opinion on the possible reelection of José Manuel Durão Barroso as Commission President?
Respuesta. Desgraciadamente creo que Durão Barroso continuará, pero lo que ahora interesa a Sarkozy es quién será el primer presidente de Europa. Sarkozy apoyó a Tony Blair, pero entre que no ha hecho nada como enviado especial de la UE para Oriente Próximo y la polémica que levanta su actuación en la guerra de Irak, le dejó y decidió convencer a Felipe González de que presente su candidatura, aunque parece que aún no lo ha logrado. Sarkozy quiere que sea González. No le importa que sea socialista. Cree que es el mejor porque encarnaría una presidencia fuerte y colocaría como primer mandatario de Europa a un hombre que tiene ideas sobre Europa. Sería toda una personalidad, frente a Angela Merkel, que quiere colocar en ese cargo a alguien sin peso, para que los Gobiernos continúen haciendo sus cocinitas en lugar de pasar a otra etapa.A: Unfortunately I think Durão Barroso will continue, but what now interest Sarkozy is who will be the first president of Europe. Sarkozy suported Tony Blair, but between him not doing anything as EU envoy to the Middle East and the controversy over his actions on the Irak war, he dropped him and decided to convince Felipe González to put himself forward, though it seems he hasn't succeeded yet. Sarkozy wants it to be González. It doesn't matter to him that it's a Socialist. He believes he's best [for the job] because he would embody a strong presidency and would place as first European leader a man with ideas about Europe. He would be a true personality, against Angela Merkel who wants to put in that position someone without weight, so the government can continue to cook things rather than moving on to a new stage.

See my Felipe Gonzalez on the Future of Europe (June 28th, 2008)

Though González has become a third-wayer he does have a strong commitment to European integration, and he's generally well-respected by the European political class.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two missing 's', the first one inconsequential but the second one important:
what now interests Sarkozy
so the governments can continue to cook things


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 06:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the EU need strong personal leadership ? I'd rather have less than more of it...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 07:09:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's hard to reduce politics to soap opera if you don't have personalities to write about. Therefore ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 07:11:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - The Crisis Of Social Democracy
Why I want to get Barroso out is a simple matter. If you want to understand who Barroso is, don't listen to us. Read Jean-Pierre Jouyet [French Minister for European Affairs], who was no less than the craftsman of the French presidency [of the EU]. He says: "This guy is a cameleon, when you talk to him, it's the last one who spoke with him who's right. It's always like that. You reach an agreement with him about something. The next day, he happens to meet somebody else, and he goes over to the contrary side."
Says Daniel Cohn-Bendit...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 07:23:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that was my position on the EU Council Presidency: it should not overshadow the Commission President. The problem is that they are installing a non-entity like Barroso at the Commission so the governments of the big countries can run the show. See
here:
France's prima donna President has a decidedly negative effect on EU governance at the moment. Not only does he hijack existing initiatives to the greater glory of Sarko only to drop them when the photo-op has been obtained, but he also has fostered a culture where there is a directoire of a few large (and conservative) governments hashing out EU policy with Barroso and then ramming it through the EU Council. Even mid-sized states are not happy.

EurActiv: Big member states 'backing out of EU', warns Hungary FM (27 April 2009 )

Balázs, who is a former EU commissioner, said that large member states were looking to "strengthen" the role of other institutions as alternative decision-making fora.

The foreign minister said Germany had been working "to seize economic institutions and to strengthen the G20" since 2007.

In line with views recently expressed by Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht (EurActiv 21/04/09), he argued that the aim of such actions was to leave smaller EU member states "behind", with larger members preferring to deal with states that have "similar influence and weight".

and EU increasingly governed by the few, Belgian FM warns (21 April 2009)
With just a year to go until the Belgian EU Presidency, the country's foreign minister denounced the functioning of the Union, which he said is increasingly governed by an "executive board of big countries".

Speaking on Monday (20 April) at the opening of an annual diplomatic conference in Brussels, Karel de Gucht said Belgium would make full use of its presidency in the second half of 2010 to re-establish the EU institutional balance, which he said was in "danger".

"It is absolutely unacceptable that small groups of member states put in danger the normal institutional process," de Gucht said. "Belgium has the duty of trying as quickly as possible to re-establish the institutional balance."

A González presidency would have the advantage that it wouldn't be about him, unlike a Blair presidency, and that he has a strong integrationist view of the EU.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 07:20:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Though González has become a third-wayer he does have a strong commitment to European integration
Just today:

González: "Veo dramático que el proyecto no sea claro" · ELPAÍS.comGonzález: "I think it is tragic that the project is not clear" - ElPaís.com
De Europa ha dicho que "lleva 20 años distraída" y le ha achacado la pérdida de competitividad con relación a otros países. Sobre España, además de criticar el proyecto de Zapatero de salida de la crisis, ha descalificado su política con relación a los sindicatos. "Cuando la política cede a las partes, la toma de decisiones reduce el margen de maniobra", ha dicho críticamente por la posición de Zapatero de no adoptar medidas contra la crisis que no sean asumidas por los sindicatos en el marco del diálogo social.On Europe, he said that "it has been distracted for 20 years" and has blamed this for the loss of compeitiveness with respect to other countries. On Spain, in addition to criticising Zapatero's project to get out of the crisis, [González] attacked [ZP's] policy toward [trade] unions. "When policy yields to the sides, decision-making loses margin for manoeuvre", he said critically on Zapatero's position of not adopting measures against the crisis which are not accepted by the unions in the framework os social dialogue [among unions, employers and government].


The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:47:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:32:37 PM EST
Left tongue tied as right takes all -  La Repubblica/Presseurop

Whether in power or oppostion, conservative parties have benefited from the electorate's anxiety about the recession. In decline throughout the EU, the left is going through "a language crisis". It no longer knows how to talk to its traditional base, believes La Repubblica.

European elections marked by the worst turnout in history (only 43% of Europe's 388 million-strong electorate cast their votes) have done little to modify the allocation of seats in Brussels. But profound changes are emerging on the right and the left of the European Parliament.

The European People's Party has confirmed its lead in parliament and won new seats. The Party of European Socialists maintains its second-ranked position, but has given up a substantial number of seats. However, in practical terms, this loss will be offset by the significant growth of the Greens, who have emerged as the fourth largest group, and the hard left, which conserved its share of MEPs and even won some new seats. Confirming its role as a key player in the balance of power, the liberal ALDE, which sides with the Right on some votes and with the Left on others, remains the third largest group, while right wing parties that are unequivocally hostile to the process of European integration scored significant successes in a number of countries (Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, and the UK).

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:41:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The European People's Party has confirmed its lead in parliament and won new seats.

Isn't that blatantly false?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:51:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe they meant 'won new seat covers'?

At this point, it's anyone's guess what on earth the media are talking about.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:54:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rout of the soft left: Europe veers right to beat recession - Europe, World - The Independent
Angry voters stayed home in record numbers but did not flock to extremists

It may be difficult to say who "won" the European elections, but it is clear who lost. From France to Poland - and spectacularly in Britain - politicians of the moderate left were shunned or humiliated by the few voters who bothered to cast their ballots.

In a time of recession - and especially one caused by the exuberance and immoderate greed of markets - centre-left arguments might have been expected to thrive. Instead, centre-left parties of government were routed in Britain and soundly defeated in Portugal and narrowly beaten in Spain. Centre-left opposition parties were rejected in Italy and Poland and crushed in France. In Germany, where the main centre-right and centre-left parties share power, voters rejected the Social Democrats and gave a comfortable victory to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

The principal exceptions to the rout of the moderate left were the good results for social democratic parties in Denmark, Sweden, Greece and Slovakia.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:43:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden: We're not geeks any more, say Pirates of the internet - Europe, World - The Independent

Amid the deluge of bewilderingly long and indigestible political manifestos, that of Sweden's Pirate Party was refreshingly brief - an internet file-sharing free-for-all, a ban on monitoring emails and the abolition of patents. Standing on essentially a single issue might have seemed like cloud-cuckoo land but the Scandinavian fringe party picked up more than 7 per cent of the Swedish vote at the weekend, capturing a seat in the European Parliament.

Not bad going for a bunch of pirates who have only been around for three years and whose supporters dub them the "geek" party.

"Last night, we gained political credibility," founder Rick Falkvinge, 37, told BBC radio. "The establishment is trying to prevent control of knowledge and culture slipping from their grasp. People were not taken in."

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:43:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always feared that these kinds of libertarianism verge on nihilism, but I do admire their vitality.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:50:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Barroso agrees to serve a second term, with conditions | France 24
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has accepted an EU request to lead its executive branch for a second term after his mandate expires in October but says he will only remain if the bloc adopts his "ambitious" five-year plan.

AFP - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso accepted Tuesday a request from the European Union presidency to stand for a second five-year term as head of the bloc's executive arm.
   
"I have agreed to this request," he told reporters, after talks in Brussels with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency until the end of the month.
   
Barroso has long coveted a new mandate after his current term expires at the end of October, but he said he would only take on the job if EU member nations and the bloc's parliament endorsed his programme for Europe's future.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:47:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barroso seeks new term as EU Commission chief | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 09.06.2009
European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso has said he will stand for a second term as head of the EU's executive. 

Barroso, one-time Conservative prime minister of Portugal, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that he had accepted a request to run for another term at the top of the body charged with regulating and proposing EU legislation.

 

He said he was "honoured that the President of the European Council has today asked me if he can put forward my name for a second mandate," adding that he had agreed to the request.

 

The Commission chief made his announcement on the back of talks with leaders from Sweden and the Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:47:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European elections 2009: Europe's centre-right declares war on Conservatives - Telegraph
The European Parliament's centre-right grouping has declared war on David Cameron and said a new Conservative government must not be allowed to derail the Lisbon Treaty.

The Tory leader has angered the European People's Party (EPP) after pulling out of the grouping to form a new Eurosceptic bloc called the European Conservatives and Reformists.

Mr Cameron's pledge to hold a referendum on the Lisbon European Union Treaty, if it remains unratified by the Irish by the time of a British general election, has also alarmed the Brussels establishment as Labour goes into political meltdown.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:48:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The conservatives are in trouble thanks to the success of the BNP. A lot of the parties who were thinking of forming a new grouping with them are more allied/sympathetic to the BNP. So the tories may have a choice of joining a group alongside the BNP or crawling back to the EPP.

Good choices Dave.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:53:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The World from Berlin: 'Europe's Elites Are Destroying the Grand Project' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Never mind who the voters voted for. Why didn't more Europeans cast their ballots? German commentators think they have the answer.

How does one analyze an election that took place simultaneously in 27 different member states? Prior to the European parliamentary vote, pundits lamented the fact that the EU-wide vote rarely went beyond being a domestic political barometer. With the results having been made public on Sunday evening, however, those same pundits rushed to fit the results into a continent-wide pattern.

A couple in Brussels look at a board displaying provisional results of the European parliament elections. The patterns were certainly there to be seen. Social Democrats suffered mightily across the EU as voters apparently turned to the right for solutions to the ongoing economic crisis that has gripped Europe and the world. At the same time, many voters found center-right parties not conservative enough, with far-right parties doing well in Holland, Austria, Hungary and elsewhere.

Success on the center-right was good news for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. On Tuesday, the conservative former prime minister of Portugal declared his candidacy for a second five-year term. Given his political camp's strong election showing, his candidacy will likely be unopposed.

Mostly, though, Monday mulling focused on the perennial European election problem: low voter turnout. Just 43 percent of Europe's 375 million eligible voters headed to the polls from June 4 to 7, less even than last time when 45.5 percent voted. German commentators on Tuesday say that national leaders and parties are to blame for failing to campaign on European issues and for using Brussels as a convenient scapegoat when things go wrong.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:50:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:34:19 PM EST
EUobserver / Finance ministers reject French proposal to weaken euro rules

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Finance ministers from the 16-member euro area rejected on Monday night (8 June) French proposals to weaken the budget deficit rules that underpin the common currency area and reconfirmed their support in the European Commission as the principal watchdog.

"We all agreed that the [European] Commission has to be the guardian of the Stability and Growth Pact," Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado Mendez said of the rules while speaking to journalists in Luxembourg after the meeting.

Christine Lagarde recently called for a softening of the rules underpinning the euro

Economy commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the pact - softened in 2005 due to pressure from the French and German governments - was already sufficiently flexible to allow the necessary stimulus spending to boost the economy.

Mr Almunia added that it was important for governments to get an idea of when the current stimulus spending was going to stop and the move to improve balance sheets would start.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Continental Divide - Economy Shows Cracks in European Union - Series - NYTimes.com
BERLIN -- The European Union is an extraordinary experiment in shared sovereignty, creating a zone of peace that now stretches from Britain to the Balkans. The union of 27 countries is the world's most formidable economic bloc, incorporating 491 million people in an integrated market that produces nearly a third more than the United States.

But the global economic crisis has made it clear that Europe remains less than the sum of its parts.

The crisis has presented the European Union with its greatest challenge, but even many committed Europeanists believe that the alliance is failing the test. European leaders, their focus on domestic politics, disagree sharply about what to do to combat the slump. They have feuded over how much to stimulate the economy. They argue about whether the European Central Bank should worry more about the deep recession or future inflation. And they have rushed to protect jobs in their home markets at the expense of those in other member countries.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:43:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe.Is.Doomed!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
But the global economic crisis has made it clear that Europe remains less than the sum of its parts.
LOL

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Euro-zone ministers agree to cut budget deficits next year | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 09.06.2009
Euro-zone finance ministers have agreed to rein in their ballooning budget deficits if the economy begins recovering as expected next year. 

"Everybody agrees that we need an exit strategy," EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia told journalists after the ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday.

"We need to orient our public finance consolidation towards a sustainable position over the medium term," Almunia said. "The moment we start implementing these exit strategies will be the moment our recovery gains traction." 

He added that EU economies would begin showing positive GDP (gross domestic product) figures in the second and third quarters of 2010.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | Germany's Arcandor in bankruptcy

Germany's Arcandor, which owns 53% of Thomas Cook, has filed for bankruptcy protection after the German government rejected a request for loan guarantees.

Arcandor, which employs about 70,000 people, had sought 650m euros ($930m; £561m) of guarantees because about 600m euros of its loans need refinancing.

Arcandor said its bankruptcy filing covered German retailer Karstadt and its mail-order businesses.

However, it added that Thomas Cook would "remain unaffected".

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / US & Canada - Ten US banks to repay Tarp funds

Ten financial groups including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs were on Tuesday allowed to repay a combined $68bn to the US Treasury in a move that marks a turning point in the economic crisis but formalises the divide between healthy and fragile banks.

The companies, which also include Morgan Stanley and American Express, can now shed the restrictions on pay and hiring that came with the troubled asset relief programme launched last year at the height of the turmoil in global markets.

However, the move raises questions over the competitiveness of other big banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America, which have not yet been allowed to repay the combined $90bn in Tarp money they have received. <...>

The repayment by the 10 institutions, which stepped up their campaign to be free of Tarp after Congress introduced constraints on bankers' pay, is a sign of stability in the financial system. The S&P Financials index has more doubled since March.

"This is not a sign that our troubles are over; far from it," President Barack Obama said. "The financial crisis this administration inherited is still creating painful challenges for businesses and families alike.  But it is a positive sign." ...



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So let me get this right; the last year or so of fiscal restraint has turned these companies around to the extent that they can pay back a lot of money to ensure that they can make an early return to the behaviours that brought them down in the first place.

These are the lemmings that climbed back up the cliff just so's they could jump in a second time.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:57:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
proof positive that lipstick on a pig works if you own the media and the Serious People.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like taking all of that money and speculating in the oil market paid off.  No?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 07:46:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Making Failure an Option - WSJ.com

The Hotel Geithner -- a.k.a. the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP -- is poised to set up its checkout desk this week. Big banks that have successfully raised capital from private sources, including J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, may be among the first to get their walking papers.

But amid the debate over whether it's too soon or too late to let the country's biggest banks repay their TARP money, the question the Obama Administration should be asking is how to prevent return trips to the bailout trough for banks that were deemed too big to fail only eight short months ago. <...>

Let them check out for sure, but make sure that they don't come back, or we'll be left with a financial system full of government-sponsored banks with an implicit guarantee should they run into trouble.

The question is how to do that. ... one way to minimize the too-big-to-fail assumption is by showing that at least one big institution can fail. Last fall, at the height of the panic, regulators deemed this too dangerous. But this need not be an eternal truth.

It happens that we have a test-case at hand in Citigroup. <...>

Resolving Citi -- by either forcing it into a strategic partnership, if anyone will have it, or selling off its assets and breaking it up -- wouldn't be cheap, but it would have a number of benefits. <...>

Nobody wants a return to the depths of the mid-September panic in the credit markets. But a resolution of Citi, together with the exit from TARP of the stronger institutions, need not freeze the markets. In fact, it would signal that regulators are starting to cull the weakest institutions in earnest, which could be good for confidence in the overall system. It would also signal to those buying their way out of the Hotel Geithner that there is no rewards program for repeat guests.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 08:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
America's socialism for the rich: Corporate welfarism, by Joseph E. Stiglitz| The Jakarta Post

But this new form of ersatz capitalism, in which losses are socialized and profits privatized, is doomed to failure. Incentives are distorted. There is no market discipline. The too-big-to-be-restructured banks know that they can gamble with impunity - and, with the Federal Reserve making funds available at near-zero interest rates, there are ample funds to do so

America has expanded its corporate safety net in unprecedented ways, from commercial banks to investment banks, then to insurance, and now to automobiles, with no end in sight. In truth, this is not socialism, but an extension of long standing corporate welfarism. The rich and powerful turn to the government to help them whenever they can, while needy individuals get little social protection.

We need to break up the too-big-to-fail banks; there is no evidence that these behemoths deliver societal benefits that are commensurate with the costs they have imposed on others.

This raises another problem with America's too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-be-restructured banks: they are too politically powerful. Their lobbying efforts worked well, first to deregulate, and then to have taxpayers pay for the cleanup. Their hope is that it will work once again to keep them free to do as they please, regardless of the risks for taxpayers and the economy. We cannot afford to let that happen.
by Bernard on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:41:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We cannot afford to let that happen

Who's gonna stop 'em ? Democrats ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:59:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My sentiments exactly.
by Bernard on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:23:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So Joseph E. Stiglitz, Professor of Economics at Columbia University, who chairs a Commission of Experts, appointed by the President of the UN General Assembly on reforms of the international monetary and financial system, gets his op-ed published in the Jakarta Post. Has this or a similar article been published in any of the top US newspapers?  Well, there is an article in Vanity Fair.  Perhaps he just prefers to publish in Nepal, Taipei and Indonesia?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually this is a Project Syndicate paper published in various places, not only in the Jakarta Post. I found out about it from Mark Thoma.
by Bernard on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is also carrying it, of all places.

Titled Betting on behemoth banks that devour us, with a cartoon:



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 11:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Citi Dangles Bonuses - Forbes.com

LONDON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is set to unveil his much-anticipated guidelines on investment banking pay this week. But he may be too late to influence the free-wheeling pay practices at Citigroup, which has been a big recipient of taxpayer funds worth $45 billion and counting.

In a bid to attract talent, Citigroup ( C - news - people ) has been paying traders in London guaranteed bonuses totaling millions of dollars. Among the lucky recipients are Rachel Lord, an executive in Citi's equities group, and Stefanos Bitzakidis, who is listed on Bloomberg as global head of exotic equity derivatives. The two received a total of roughly $3 million in guaranteed bonuses to join Citigroup from Morgan Stanley this year, says a person familiar with the situation. They are among a number of traders in Citi's equities division who have received guarantees to join the firm in recent months.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:29:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Op-Ed Contributor - Taking the Toxic Out of Assets - NYTimes.com
CRITICS have pummeled the Treasury Department's Public Private Investment Program, which is to buy distressed assets from banks, for seeming to benefit Wall Street at taxpayers' expense. But it doesn't have to be that way. With some revisions, the Treasury could deliver a plan that makes private investors' goals the same as taxpayers'. We've done it before. During the savings and loan crisis of the 1990s, entities called aligned interest partnerships disposed of the toxic assets, largely real estate-related, of S.&L.'s managed by the government's Resolution Trust Corporation.

Here's how it worked: The government contributed assets to a partnership that was financed by a private investor. The investor managed the partnership, and both sides shared the proceeds. Thus the government maintained a financial interest in the success of the partnership. This is a sharp contrast to the Treasury plan, where the selling bank disposes of the asset outright, with no chance of future profits.

The partnership model worked. When all was said and done, private investors recovered more than 125 percent of the assets' initial estimated value. But taxpayers were the ultimate winners. Compared with similar assets sold outright, the government got up to 45 percent higher returns using the partnership structure. Since then, we have used similar structures for transactions like sales of on-base housing for the United States Air Force and sales of military-grade scrap metal for the Department of Defense.

Several factors contributed to the success of the aligned interest partnerships. First, the investors received no fee for managing the assets. This reduced the temptation to sit on assets just to maintain a stream of easy payments from the government. The chief executive was paid entirely out of the investors' share of overall proceeds.

The private investors were free to manage the assets as they chose, with no daily oversight. Instead, investors provided monthly documentation that they were obeying the partnership's rules. But since the private investors got paid only on net receipts, they had a strong incentive to operate efficiently.



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mandatory Flu Vaccination | Engdahl | 8 June 200

According to a report in the May 30 edition of the French newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, the Sarkozy government has authorized spending of an estimated €1 billion  to buy vaccines allegedly to combat or protect against H1N1 Swine Flu virus. The only problem is that to date neither the WHO nor the US Government's Center for Diseases Control (CDC) have succeeded to isolate, photograph with an electron microscope and chemically classify the H1N1 Influenza A virus. There is no scientifically published evidence that French virologists have done so either. To mandate drugs for a putative disease that has not even been characterized is dubious to say the least.

26K cases (of which mortality rate is ?%) worldwide (73 countries) is a pandemic? Is this story verifiable?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 06:44:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless the WHO has been piling up corpses and not telling anyone, the mortality rate is a tiny fraction of one percent - much, much less than the mortality of conventional seasonal flu.

It doesn't seem to be particularly infectious, either.

Of course this could be a mild strain etc etc, but would these vaccinations be any use against a - hypothetitcal - more virulent form?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Policy Complications Ahead?  Guest Post by Rob Parenteau in Naked Capitalism

After sketching the current situation with falling asset prices and incomes in the face of high debt loads Rob Parenteau notes the historical patterns of default, bankruptcy falling prices and falling purchases which lead to social dislocations. He notes that Hyman Minsky's description of these patterns, based on work by Keynes and Fisher has been ignored in favor of theoretically self-equilibrating markets by mainstream economists.

The response to recent dislocations in many countries has been to a) increase fiscal deficit spending to both meet the surge in desired private net saving and reduce solvency uncertainty for key financial institutions, while b) reducing policy rates to near zero and expanding central bank balance sheets through purchases of privately held assets (quantitative easing). Market self-adjustment mechanisms that can otherwise lead to market self-destruction are thereby believed to have been short circuited. A "corridor of stability" is being re-established as the guard rails of fiscal and monetary policy have been buttressed.

This time around, however, it may be more complicated than that. Two questions arise with regard to the policy fix underway: who is going to accumulate the issuance of government debt associated with large (and possibly prolonged) fiscal deficit spending, and are there inconsistencies introduced by pursuing a large quantitative easing approach at the same time?

The nub of the policy challenge is as follows. Central banks have dropped policy rates to zero and they have begun purchasing government debt, MBS, and even corporate debt while expanding their balance sheets. Their aim is clear: reduce the cost of private borrowing, and raise the price of less liquid assets by lowering the return on the most liquid assets, thereby forcing many investors to reach for yield in riskier asset classes. Raising prices of risky assets in this indirect fashion reduces insolvency fears, reverses wealth losses and hence adverse wealth effects on spending, and sends favorable financial signals to producers - all of which are expected to contribute to reversing downward economic momentum.

Zero (or near zero) policy rates plus outright purchases have drawn government bond yields down to historically low levels. Low yields on bonds introduce a high risk of capital loss to investors if yields return to historical norms (for bond geeks, think McCauley duration), and if investors cannot be sure they will hold the bond to maturity. The private sector will wish to raise their holdings in government bonds only if they perceive risk adjusted returns elsewhere are less attractive - yet this is antithetical to the very purpose of quantitative easing, which is to break the high liquidity preference of private investors by "trashing cash" and lowering the yield on default free government bonds.

If government yields back up - either because private sector portfolio preferences are taking their cue from QE and shifting toward riskier assets or because fiscal stimulus is helping economic activity which has the same effect - then mortgage rates are likely to back up as well, confounding any stabilization in housing sales. Alternatively, if central banks step in to buy Treasuries and thereby contain the back up in Treasury yields, more professional investors are likely to conclude "monetization" is underway and they will try to increase their exposure to inflation hedges. The net result would be a likely rise in the relative prices of energy, precious and industrial metals, "commodity" currencies, and ag products and ag land - all of which, as inputs to final products, would tend to represent an adverse supply shock to the economy. In addition, raising the price of essentials like food and energy is more likely to crowd out consumer spending in discretionary items. Neither of these supply and demand effects are particularly supportive of an economic recovery.

So, the policy response is unprecedented governmental actions based on simultaneous, mutually contradictory policies?  What could possibly go wrong here?  

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 12:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Supreme Court won't block Chrysler merger  LA Times

Three Indiana pension funds had said they were being shortchanged by the bankruptcy plan.

In an order handed down late today, the court rejected a request for a stay of the sale submitted by three parties, including a group of Indiana pension funds. They had argued that the sale violated normal bankruptcy procedure and that Chrysler had received federal funding for which it was not eligible.

On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had granted a temporary stay, giving the court more time to consider the matter.

But in today's decision, the court did not dwell on the legal questions in the case. Instead, it said that the parties challenging the sale had not sufficiently demonstrated the need for further delay of the sale. The ruling said, in part, that "denial of a stay is not a decision on the merits of the underlying legal issues."



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 12:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Massive econometrics fail, or how to lie with statistics:

Los precios bajan un 0,9% en mayo hasta un nuevo mínimo por la evolución del petróleo · ELPAÍS.comPrices drop by 0.9% to a new low because of the evolution of oil prices - ElPais.com
El Indice de Precios de Consumo (IPC) registró en mayo su tercera caída interanual consecutiva y se situó en un negativo 0,9%, siete décimas por debajo del dato de abril, por la diferencia en el coste del petróleo frente a mayo de 2008. No obstante, el hecho de que no haya variado en tasa intermensual aleja el peligro de la temida deflación, según cálculos tanto de los expertos macroeconómicos como del Ejecutivo.[Spain's] Consumer Price Index registered a year-on-year drop for the third month running, and is now at -0.9%, 0.7% below the April figure, due to the different cost of Oil with respect to May 2008. That notwithstanding, the fact that the month-to-month rate is constant pushes away the feared danger of deflation, according to calculations by macroeconomic experts as well as the government.

Is it incompetence, malice, or cherry-picking data to fit a message hoping the proles won't notice?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:15:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe they tripped over some green shoots on the way in to work.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 06:37:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yesterday they were headlining "the green shoots are reluctant" because the number of house sales in the 1st quarter was the lowest on record.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 06:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:35:09 PM EST
Global weapons spending hits record levels | World news | guardian.co.uk
*US accounts for more than half total increase to $1.4tn

*China now second biggest spender in world league table

Worldwide spending on weapons has reached record levels amounting to well over $1tn last year, a leading research organisation reported today.

Global military expenditure has risen by 45% over the past decade to $1.46tn, according to the latest annual Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

Though the US accounts for more than half the total increase, China and Russia nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade, with China now second only to the US in the military expenditure league table.

"China had both the largest absolute and the largest relative increase," says the Sipri report. The increase "has roughly paralleled its economic growth and is also linked to its major power aspirations," it adds.


by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, it's rumored that Thailand won't exercise its option on 6 more Gripen fighter jets. Still just a rumor though. Well, one must always look for the next deal:



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:18:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Africa | Shell settles Nigeria deaths case

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed a $15.5m (£9.7m) out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria.

It was brought by relatives of nine anti-oil campaigners, including author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who were hanged in 1995 by Nigeria's then military rulers.

The oil giant strongly denies any wrongdoing and says the payment is part of a "process of reconciliation".

The case, initiated 13 years ago, had been due for trial in the US next week.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:41:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but when will the blood money be paid. And given the profitability of those fields, this sum is just noise. It isn't punitive, it isn't even gonna give them pause, it's loose change they found under the sofa.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:01:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shell probably paid more to their lawyers.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:29:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan hotel shattered by blast

A huge blast has partially demolished a luxury hotel in the north-west Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least 11 people and injuring dozens.

Reports say gunmen stormed the outer security barrier at the Pearl Continental Hotel before blowing up a vehicle in the car park.

Scenes of panic ensued. Casualties are thought to include several foreigners.

A series of bombs have hit cities including Peshawar since a government crackdown on Taliban militants.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:55:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan Times: Sea-zone ban fuels speculation of missile launch

North Korea has banned vessels from traveling in a designated area off its northeast shore between Wednesday and June 30, raising speculation that another missile launch is on the way, the Japan Coast Guard said Monday.

The designated area starts at the port of Wonsan, North Korea, and stretches approximately 263 km with a maximum width of 100 km. The coast guard said Pyongyang issued the radio warning Sunday.
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Peled proposes Israeli sanctions on US | Jerusalem Post | 9.6.09
In a sign of growing concern in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government over US President Barack Obama's Middle East policies, Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled proposed Israeli sanctions on the US in a letter to cabinet ministers on Sunday.

[...]

But in the interim, the minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that the Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.

Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America's competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.

In what may be his most controversial suggestion, Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama and asking American Jewish donors not to contribute to Democratic congressional candidates. He predicted that this would result in Democratic candidates pressuring Obama to become more pro-Israel.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:23:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
gk:
Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America's competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.
ROFL

Israel - United States relations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 2007, the United States increased its military aid to Israel by over 25% to an average of $3 billion per year for the following ten year period, while ending economic aid.
Israel is in no position to boycott the US over military expenditures... Where are the $3bn a year going to come from?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:17:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that pesky "you have to buy U.S. products with U.S. aid" clause

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"will you please accept these American weapons we offer you for free?"

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:22:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Palau to take Uighur detainees from Guantanamo Bay - Yahoo! News

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The tropical Pacific island nation of Palau announced Wednesday it will accept up to 17 Chinese Muslims who have languished in legal limbo at Guantanamo Bay despite a Pentagon determination that they are not "enemy combatants."

China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate reaction to the decision by Palau to grant Washington's request to resettle the detainees from China's Uighur minority who had been incarcerated at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. Palau is one of a handful of countries that does not recognize China and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

President Johnson Toribiong said Palau was accepting the detainees "as a humanitarian gesture" intended to help them restart their lives. His archipelago, with a population of about 20,000, will accept up to 17 of the detainees subject to periodic review, Toribiong said in a statement released to The Associated Press.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 08:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:35:44 PM EST
Eco-Friendly Amsterdam: A Smart City Goes Live - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The Dutch city's eco-friendly infrastructure has new power hookups for electric cars, solar panels and household wind turbines.

On the streets of Amsterdam last week, major changes were afoot. The first of 1,200 households installed an energy-saving system from IBM and Cisco aimed at cutting electricity costs. Others were given fresh access to financing from Dutch banks ING and Rabobank to buy everything from energy-saving light bulbs to ultra-efficient roof insulation. And on Utrechtsestraat, a major shopping avenue in the center of the Dutch capital, solar-powered panels on local bus stops were installed to transform the road into a "Climate Street" piloting clean technology.

 Amsterdam has long been environmentally friendly. But it is now in the process of getting a lot greener. The projects are Amsterdam's first steps toward making its infrastructure more eco-friendly. Other projects are expected to follow soon. They include 300 power hookups around the city to recharge electric cars, solar panels that will be installed on Amsterdam's historic 17th century townhouses, and infrastructure upgrades that will allow households to sell energy they generate from small-scale wind turbines or solar panels back to the city's electricity grid for a profit.

Amsterdam's recent green energy move comes as governments worldwide set aside billions of dollars to create "smart cities" that mix renewable energy projects and stiffer efficiency rules to cut overall carbon dioxide footprints. Other cities have shown interest in the idea, but so far Amsterdam remains the world leader, aiming to complete its first-round investments by 2012. That makes it one of the most ambitious adopters of the smart city concept, which has attracted attention from global policymakers hoping to glean lessons from Amsterdam's green experiment.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:46:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Welcome to the Spiderlab

An unmistakeable hiss fills the air.

I peer down, and spot a plastic container.

The source of the noise scuttles into view - a cockroach. In fact, the box is filled to the brim with them, with a few other writhing and wriggling creepy-crawlies thrown in for good measure.

"Dinner," explains my host, pointing to the dozens of very large, rather hairy and extremely leggy tarantulas eyeing this bug banquet.

Welcome to the Spiderlab.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:46:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Americas | US fisherman hooks live missile

A commercial fisherman in Florida had a lucky escape after netting an unusual catch - a live air-to-air missile.

Long-line fishing boat captain Rodney Solomon reeled in the missile in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles (80km) off Panama City in Florida.

Finding a hole in the missile, Mr Solomon assumed it had gone off. He kept it as a souvenir and went on fishing for more than a week.

He said it was "a fright" to discover that "any time it could have exploded".

The local fire chief, Derryl O'Neal, told the BBC that Mr Solomon had reported the find on his return from his trip.

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Peru protest leader in asylum bid

A Peruvian Indian leader charged with sedition for leading protests against land development in the Amazon is seeking asylum at the Nicaraguan embassy, Peru's prime minister has said.

Alberto Pizango took refuge in Nicaragua's embassy on Monday, days after violent clashes between Peruvian police and indigenous Indian protesters left dozens dead, including at least 22 police officers.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I shall be at the launch of this car next Tuesday.

Autocar - Radical UK hydrogen car revealed

A ground-breaking hydrogen-powered city car, which has been designed in Britain and financed by the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, is to be unveiled next week.

Autocar can reveal that the Riversimple Urban Car will have a far smaller fuel cell than in current industry prototypes and thus needs less hydrogen to be stored on board and in fuelling stations.

Autocar - Radical UK hydrogen car revealed

Design for the Riversimple cars will be placed online in an 'open source' environment, meaning any small manufacturer can lease the design, better suiting local environments and allowing for the car to be built almost anywhere in the world.

The cars themselves will also be leased over 20 years, with fuelling included in the leasing cost, and the materials will be recycled at the end of each car's lifespan.

Riversimple is an LLP, since I managed to convince Hugo Spowers it should be....

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 06:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it'll never work, no front wheels ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Antigravity, obviously. ;)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well if there were sketched in bricks, I'd say that the launch hwas planned for Liverpool ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:55:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May it prosper.  Conrgats on your part, Chris.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:34:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hacked Prius runs at 70 mph in EV ONLY mode!
Well known in the Plug in Prius community for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Prius hybrid drivetrain and electronics communcation system, Chris Ewart of Ewart Energy has announced a new plug in system which allows a Prius to be driven at up to 70 mph in electric only mode. That's right. Seventy Miles Per Hour. The rather shakey video below shows Chris and his brother, founders of Ewart Energy taking their modified Prius out for a spin to illustrate the 70 mph EV only mod and switching between regular mode, ultra-high EV mode and enhanced catalytic converter/engine warm up mode. Even with the engine running, they are able to sustain over 150 mpg at highway speed, something which is almost impossible in a standard converted PHEV Prius and impossible in a stock Prius.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:40:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:36:10 PM EST
xinhuanet: Computers in China to have pre-installed Internet filter to protect minors

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) -- China said Tuesday it would have all new computers in China pre-installed with a filter software, in a bid to protect minors from "unhealthy information" from the Internet.
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:28:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or to protect the Party from subversive information...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:30:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Hard Power' : Pre-installed or Pinged

China plans to require that all personal computers sold in the country as of July 1 be shipped with software that blocks access to certain Web sites, a move that could give government censors unprecedented control over how Chinese users access the Internet.

The government, which has told global PC makers of the requirement but has yet to announce it to the public, says the effort is aimed at protecting young people from "harmful" content. The primary target is pornography, says the main developer of the software, a company that has ties to China's security ministry and military.

'Soft Power': Subpoena seeks names

Free speech should be practiced only by those who are ready to deal with the consequences, which just might include a knock on the door by a friendly federal investigator wanting to know if you posted an anonymous comment on a Web site. Were you advocating violence or confessing to breaking the federal tax laws?

This is not a hypothetical.

On May 26 the Review-Journal published an article about an ongoing federal tax evasion trial. The primary defendant, Las Vegan Robert Kahre, stands accused of tax fraud for using the rather inventive argument that he could pay people in U.S. minted gold and silver coins based on their precious metal value but for tax purposes use their face value, which is many times less.

The story was posted on our Web site. When last I checked nearly 100 comments were appended to it, running the gamut from the lucid to the ludicrous.

This past week the newspaper was served with a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney's office demanding that we turn over all records pertaining to those postings, including "full name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers ... the IP address," et (kitchen sink) cetera....

No one wins by flinging the red bait against a wall.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 06:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well thats technologically laughable. If its on the users own system it can be broken or subverted. If the state wants to do this its really only effectively done at a network hardware level, and then still not 100% effective.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 07:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Laughable? mmmm. Corporate LAN, WAN, VPN: check. Consumer  MSFT or GOOG browsers on multiple devices: check. OS and firmware auto-updates: check.

CCP doesn't need to sweep. It just needs "user-friendly" users (who don't know what they're looking for) and a short list of no-fly-zones to distribute to their public-private partners. BAM!

Beside which the USA method of mental hygeine, fortissimo.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:53:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: Pablo Picasso's Château de Vauvenargues

This summer, 36 years after Picasso's death, the château in the south of France opens its gates to the public for the first time. The Spanish artist bought Château de Vauvenargues in 1958 after he discovered it in the foothills of Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain immortalised in countless paintings by Paul Cézanne, the man Picasso regarded as his artistic father.
by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:59:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

       

by Fran on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 03:37:13 PM EST
Chinaview: China opposes Paris award for Dalai Lama

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday condemned the honorary citizen award from Paris for the Dalai Lama, saying it posed "a grave interference in Sino-French relations".

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China was indignant and resolutely opposed Paris's award for the Dalai Lama made despite China's opposition.

    Qin told a regular press conference it was another overt provocation, following last year's Paris City Council vote to award the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship.

    "Such a move stirs strong indignation among the Chinese people," Qin said, noting that inevitably, it would severely undermine the cooperation between Paris and Chinese cities, and gravely disturb China-France relations.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:25:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Never say never: James Bond goes to Kabul

The poppy fields and drug barons of Helmand are likely to star in the next James Bond film after scriptwriters sought technical advice from the British embassy in Kabul.

Speculation that at least some of the next Bond adventure will be set in the volatile southern province of Afghanistan has been running high since a member of the Foreign Office's drug-busting team in the country began acting as a consultant for the Bond franchise last summer.

by Sassafras on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:34:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Man with plan and talent.

Who Knew? | Bloomberg | 23 May 2009

Collins, 59, would head an agency that Obama has made key to his plans for reviving the U.S. economy and overhauling health care. The 27 institutes and centers under the NIH umbrella employ more than 18,000 people and fund research at thousands of universities and medical schools. ...

The economic stimulus package that Obama signed into law Feb. 17 adds $10 billion in research funding for the institutes through 2010, expanding a budget that has averaged $29 billion a year since 2005....

A guitar player known to be fond of motorcycles, Collins is also a one-time atheist who wrote a book in 2006 about his Christian beliefs. He took the title, "The Language of God," from comments Clinton made at a 2000 ceremony, "we are learning the language in which God created life."

Book Review | Harris | Aug 2006

To say that he fails at his task does not quite get at the inadequacy of his efforts. He fails the way a surgeon would fail if he attempted to operate using only his toes. His failure is predictable, spectacular and vile. The Language of God reads like a hoax text, and the knowledge that it is not a hoax should be disturbing to anyone who cares about the future of intellectual and political discourse in the United States.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:28:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A whole lot of nothing
Today is Doncaster's brand-spanking-new Mayor's first day on the job, and his first engagement of the day was an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield's Toby Foster. I hope Mayor Davies didn't think he was in for an easy ride for his first official interview, because that's not what he got.

Over the course of seven and a half minutes, Toby Foster took Mr Davies' election manifesto and pulled it apart, pointing out that he doesn't know what `PC jobs' there are in the council (Mr Davies' reply being "the things that are usually advertised in the [...] Guardian"), that he can't cut translation services for non-English speakers (Toby Foster: "It's more than likely illegal, isn't it?". Peter Davies: "I dunno"), and that he hasn't even though of the possible benefits of funding minority events such as the Gay Pride march (when asked how much money went to funding it, he replies "Haven't got a clue, I haven't looked into... I haven't got the details"). On top of this, he admits that his cuts will mean job losses - which I'm sure the electorate of Doncaster will be happy to hear.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny how nobody ever asks Boris Johnson those sort of questions.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:54:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
*Symbolic-Analytic Widget: negative absorbtion, formerly known as white-flight

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:19:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Amen Corner

broward (homepage, profile)  wrote on Wed, 6/10/2009 - 12:47 am

For the record, I was a workaholic until around 2006 when I finally realized that outsourcing was going to wipe out the technical end of IT and what's left is the political end which I'm too honest to succeed at. I have no school loans because I worked full-time during most of my college years.

The reason this is a discussion about me is so we can avoid the real issue, which is that wages are the problem.
Free market fanaticism is the problem.
Gov't spending is a counterbalance for the lack of real work and consumer debt is a counterbalance to lack of wages.

This is all pretty easy to understand if you actually read the history books instead of listening to Mish.

Today I played pool with some retired guys and I have to admit, I liked it better than the jobs I've done during the past five years. Just a bunch of frantic CYA, makework, sabotage and general kookiness like loading 112,000 rows into a web page or having my DA and PM sabotaged by a 30-year-old guy with political power but zero experience.

I need to get on disability somehow.



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:22:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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