Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 23 July

by Fran Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:50:23 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1920 – Birth of Amalia Rodrigues, a Portuguese singer and actress. She was known as the "Rainha do Fado" ("Queen of Fado") and was most influential in popularizing the fado worldwide. (d. 1999)

More here and video

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


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 EUROPE 

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:34:28 PM EST
EUobserver / Bank reparations linked to Iceland's EU membership bid

The Netherlands is stepping up pressure on Iceland to hammer out a draft deal on compensation to Dutch savers for money lost in Icelandic banks, linking the agreement to the island's EU membership bid.

"It is absolutely necessary that the agreement is approved," Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen stated on Tuesday (21 July) after a meeting with his Iceland's counterpart Ossur Skarphedinsson, AFP reported.

All eyes will be on Iceland's parliament as it votes on the pay-back terms to the Netherlands and Britain

"A solution to the problem of Icesave would encourage rapid consideration of Iceland's bid to join the EU," said Mr Verhagen, adding "It would show that Iceland takes European directives seriously."

More than 120,000 Dutch clients and 200,000 British clients had their Icesave accounts frozen during the nationalisation of Landsbanki, the parent group of the online banking unit, one of the three key Icelandic banks that went bust due to the global credit crunch and almost brought the country's financial system to a complete collapse in October.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:38:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drastic shortage of teachers feared in Germany | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 21.07.2009
This fall, German schools could find themselves short some 40,000 teachers, according to a teachers' organization, which recommends importing German-speaking teachers from eastern Europe as a stopgap measure.  

The DphV teachers' organization has warned that the teacher shortage in Germany is increasing dramatically, jumping some 60 percent from the first half of the year and reaching particularly acute levels in the fields of math, computer science, biology, chemistry and physics.

 

According to DphV president Heinz-Peter Meidinger, the situation will likely get worse over the next ten years, around 300,000 of the current 770,000 teachers in German schools will retire.

 

Meidinger has suggested bringing in teachers from eastern Europe to classrooms in Germany as an emergency measure.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How much do secondary school teachers in Germany get paid?
by asdf on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 11:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Mubarak in Paris to revive Mediterranean Union initiative | France 24
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris for talks on reviving the Mediterranean Union initiative and the Mideast peace process.

AFP - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday arrived for talks in Paris to revive the Mediterranean Union initiative and the Middle East peace process, the foreign ministry said.
  
Mubarak, who met with French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy over lunch on Tuesday, held talks with Prime Minister Francois Fillon at his Paris hotel after arriving in the afternoon, Fillon's office said.
  
Fillon did not give details about the talks which lasted 45 minutes.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:41:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Road deaths fall as recession cuts car use - Telegraph
Road deaths fell sharply last year as people used their cars less during the economic downturn, figures indicate.

Fatalities dropped 13.5 per cent on British roads in 2008 - 2,645 recorded deaths last year compared with 3,059 in 2007.

The picture is similar elsewhere in Europe and across the world - road deaths down 17.5 per cent in Ireland, 13.6 per cent in Belgium, 9.7 per cent in America, and 8.5 per cent in Australia.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:43:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Second child abuse uproar engulfs Catholic Church in Ireland - Times Online

A report detailing the alleged sexual abuse of 450 children by Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin was handed to the Irish Government yesterday.

It is the second one this year to examine the extent of abuse perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church in Ireland and will undermine further its position in a country that only a few decades ago conformed rigidly to standards set by the Vatican.

The Report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was delivered to Dermot Ahern, the Justice Minister, who must decide if and when to make its findings public.

Two priests named in the report are facing prosecution and publication may prejudice their trials.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:44:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Europe - Biden backs Ukraine's Nato bid

Washington "strongly supports" Ukraine's plans to join the Nato military alliance, the US vice-president has said during a visit to the former Soviet republic.

"We do not recognise ... anyone else's right to dictate to you ... what alliance you will seek to belong to, or what bilateral relationships you have," Joe Biden said after talks with Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian president, on Tuesday.

Biden's trip to Kiev, the country's capital, is being viewed as a move to balance Washington's recent overtures to Russia, which opposes Ukraine's bid to join the Western military alliance.

Polls also show a majority of Ukrainians to be against Nato membership.

Biden assured Yushchenko that US attempts to renew relations with Russia would "not come at Ukraine's expense".

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:44:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sit-in workers at Vestas factory 'being starved out' - Times Online

Workers staging a sit-in at Britain's only significant wind turbine factory in an attempt to prevent its closure have accused managers of attempting to starve them out by blocking food supplies.

Last night, about 30 workers occupied the administrative block at the Vestas factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight. An attempt to deliver food supplies from a local supermarket was stopped by police at the factory gate yesterday evening, resulting in a stand-off with workers setting up camp outside the factory.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 04:11:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
London to Cardiff rail line will be electrified to cut carbon footprint
By Dan Milmo, guardian.co.uk

One of Britain's busiest rail lines is to be electrified in a move that will introduce greener and more reliable services for millions of passengers.

The government is finalising plans to transform the Great Western mainline as part of a drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport. The programme will involve installing hundreds of miles of electric cables as well as alterations to tunnels, bridges and stations on one of Britain's oldest rail routes.

An announcement could come as soon as Thursday, although the financing is still being put in place.

by Magnifico on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:20:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a stick-up: Spaniards take revenge on banks for credit crunch - Europe, World - The Independent

With Spain's economy in freefall and loans squeezed, desperadoes are resorting to robbing banks to solve their personal credit crunch.

Bank robberies have risen by 20 per cent in two years, Spain's banking association says; and those who adopt the tactic of the stick-up to pay their debts are novices rather than hardened criminals.

"In recent months, it has become apparent that Spain is suffering from an increase in bank robberies," Francisco Perez Abellan, the head of criminology at Camilo Jose Cela University in Madrid, told The New York Times.

"We are seeing people committing offences through necessity, first-time offenders who can no longer continue to maintain their lifestyle and so turn to crime," he said.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:24:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish Rents Fall in Worst Housing Glut Since 1950s  - Bloomberg.com
The number of properties for rent in Spain climbed 55 percent in the past two years to 3.3 million, the highest since the Ministry of Housing started collecting the data in 2004. Rents in cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, are falling for the first time in seven years with declines of as much as 8 percent, according to Madrid-based property research firm Idealista.com.

"Those who need to sell but can't are being forced to lease," said Fernando Encinar, co-founder and head of research at Idealista.com, Spain's largest real estate Web site with 308,000 listings for rent and purchase. "We haven't seen this number of properties for rent since the 1950s."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alan Simpson MP : OpenLeft

Which person, event, era or movement from the past should we look to for inspiration now?
If there is an era from the past we should look to for inspiration it is probably in the period of 1817 to 1890. Then, towns and cities across the land formed their own gas, water and electricity companies to deal with the disease and insecurity that threatened their very existence. The very strange thing about this era of `gas and water socialism' is that there were very few socialists who drove it. It was an era of dynamic localism and municipalism. As we move into a future that will be constrained by carbon budgets, as much as by financial ones, we will have to re-engage with such models in the challenge of delivering energy, water and food security, each with a much lighter carbon footprint.

What one or two changes would make the biggest difference to bringing that about?
An open Left would want to break Labour's subservience to speculative capital and the financial services sector. It would want the party to be in government and not just in office. It would recognise the urgency of constructing much more directive rules that govern the nature of sustainable markets. Renewable energy feed-in tariffs provide a good example of where this would take us.

Getting energy companies to pay the public for `green energy' supplied from the home or the community offers a fundamental rethink of an energy market. People become suppliers of energy and not just consumers. It involves a sea change in (democratic) power as much as in energy supply. This is why the big energy companies fought so hard to oppose it. The battleground has now moved to the level of tariffs to be offered. Big energy wants only a modest framework, arguing that a successful transformation into renewables would undermine the case for nuclear (by lowering the market price for carbon). At least this acknowledges that nuclear is still looking for a massive subsidy to make itself viable. They also want household energy bills to pick up the huge costs of carbon capture and storage before any shift into renewable energy. A fresh politics of the Left simply has to engage with a redistribution of power, away from the hands of private transnational oligopolies and into more public and accountable structures

Much of the 19th century transformation was based not just on localised administration. It involved a similar approach to finance. Local bonds were the alternative to PFI or PPP schemes. People looking for a safe place to put their pension (or other) savings bought municipal bonds. In return, they got a secure supply of gas, electricity and clean water, along with the parks, museums and libraries funded out of the profits. Today's pension funds, staring into the abyss of toxic debt that still inhabits global equity markets, would be no less enthusiastic for such a choice.

yeah

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 07:34:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe a nice big disaster will get the enthusiasm for joint public works going again...

...researchers say global warming increases the chances that the Colorado River system's reservoirs could be depleted by mid-century.

A study released this week says that if global warming cuts the river's average flow by 10 percent, the chances of draining the river's reservoirs by 2057 is 25 percent.

The researchers say a 20 percent drop in stream flow translates to a 50 percent chance of draining the reservoirs by that date.

The Colorado River travels nearly 1,500 miles from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico, feeding more than a dozen reservoirs and supplying drinking and irrigation water for about 30 million people.


http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_12891284
by asdf on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 11:55:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
let them drink gasoline!

don't worry, monsanto is developing a kind of corn irrigated with iraqi crude, all will be well, thank rummy.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 11:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:34:54 PM EST
EUobserver / EU commission split over free trade deal with South Korea

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and South Korea - expected to boost mutual trade ties currently worth over €70 billion - has caused a rift within the European Commission, with the thorny debate now postponed until September.

Officials told EUobserver that a number of commissioners - including Laszlo Kovacs in charge of taxation as well as commissioners from France, Germany, Italy and Slovakia - had questioned some conditions envisaged in the draft accord.

The EU-Seoul deal would have negative effects on employment, say European carmakers

The biggest controversy centres around two issues - rules of origin that establish the level of permissible foreign content in products and so-called duty drawbacks that allow for reimbursement of tariffs under certain conditions.

According to commission spokesperson Lutz Guellner, there is "no obligation" for the college of commissioners to discuss future trade relations with Seoul at this moment.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:46:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Porsche Story: The Downfall of a Corporate Upstart - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking turned the luxury sports carmaker around in the 1990s. But his archrival Ferdinand Piëch would put a stop to Wiedeking's grandious scheme to take over much-larger Volkswagen. The plan would nearly bankrupt Porsche.

This is part two of SPIEGEL's history of Porsche and Volkswagen and the troubled relations between the Porsche and Piëch families. You can read part one here.

Sports car maker Porsche entered a severe crisis in the early 1990s. There had been a sharp slump in the US market, where Porsche sold half of its vehicles. Toyota offered the equivalent of €1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) for the company, but the family was unwilling to sell.

In 1993, the previously unknown head of production, Wendelin Wiedeking, was promoted to CEO. The first five or six years in the position were Wiedeking's best. He was able to shine as the man who turned Porsche around -- even if his methods were sometimes unpopular.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Business - UK debt reaches $1.3 trillion

Britain's public sector debt has reached $1.3 trillion - the highest amount since records began 35 years ago.

The total - equivalent to 56.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) - comes after the government borrowed $21bn last month, double the amount of last June, the UK's Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

The figures reflect dwindling tax receipts following Britain's worst economic downturn in decades as well as the cost of bank bail-outs and higher spending on social security benefits.

The $21bn figure for last month was lower than the $25.5bn forecast but also a record high for the month of June.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 04:00:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China Financial Markets - Notes on a real estate trip in China
This is a long way of saying what I have often argued - that what we should expect in China is not a financial collapse but rather a long period - maybe even a decade - of much slower growth rates than we have become used to.  There are many reasons to expect a short, brutal collapse followed eventually by a healthy rebound, but government control of the banking system eliminates a lot of the inversion that in another country would force a rapid adjustment.  This is not a note of optimism, by the way.  As the case of Japan might suggest, the long, slow adjustment may be socially and politically more acceptable but it may also be economically more costly. 


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:49:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Three Myths about the Consumer Financial Product Agency - by Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel - The Baseline Scenario
I've written a lot about the creation of a new Consumer Protection Financial Agency (CFPA), starting with an article I wrote in the Democracy Journal in the summer of 2007. My writing has helped me work through the idea and has advanced a conversation about what kind of changes in financial products would be most effective. A couple of weeks ago, I testified before the House Financial Services Committee about why I think a new consumer agency is so important, and I've argued the case many times.

Today, though, I'd like to post specifically about some of the push back that has developed on this issue.  In particular, I'd like to focus on three big myths - myths designed to protect the same status quo that triggered the economic crisis.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Americans Repaying Debt Most Since `52 Spurs Savings  - Bloomberg.com
For the first time since Harry S. Truman was in the White House, Americans are paying back their debts, a phenomenon that just might help keep interest rates low as the Treasury sells a record $2 trillion of bonds and rising unemployment increases U.S. savings.

While the proportion of consumers without jobs rose to 9.5 percent last month, household borrowing fell to 128 percent of the average family's after-tax income in the first quarter from a record 133 percent a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
...
The rise in savings so far is largely a product of mortgages being extinguished by home foreclosures, government tax cuts and transfer payments under the stimulus package, he said.

"As there's an adjustment to higher savings, then there is a potential paradox of thrift," Johnson said, referring to economist John Maynard Keynes's theory that increased saving is good for individuals but bad for society as a whole because it reduces demand.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:03:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My fingers pulse with disbelief and refuse to type what I am trying to think. The entire body mechanism is suffering as I try to get beyond War is Peace and into Foreclosure is Savings.

There, I typed it. Now I have to figure out all the implications.

[  ] The last editor died at the irony's funeral.

[  ] The Print Press is trying to combat their imminent downfall by hiring 'writers' who are as moronic as their customers.

[  ] Someone figured out that the release and pleasure of 2 minutes of gagging, followed by uncontrollable retching is a possible cure for swine flu. This article was a medicinal test.

Government Tax Cuts are Savings.
Transfer Payments under the stimulus package are savings.

Hi. My name is Siegestate. [Hi Siegestate!] It has been 2 months since I lost my house to the bank. I triggered the potential paradox of thrift. I'm sorry.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 10:47:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bernanke Says Commercial Property May Pose Risk for Economy - Bloomberg.com
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said a potential wave of defaults in commercial real estate may present a "difficult" challenge for the economy, without committing to additional steps to aid the market.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:10:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Companies / Banks - US banks warn on commercial property
Two of America's biggest banks, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, on Wednesday threw into sharp relief the mounting woes of the US commercial property market when they reported large losses and surging bad loans.

The disappointing second-quarter results for two of the largest lenders and investors in office, retail and industrial property across the US confirmed investors' fears that commercial real estate would be the next front in the financial crisis after the collapse of the housing market.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right on schedule.  More urine on the green shoots.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 07:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Commercial R/E: Tick... tick... BOOM! - The Market Ticker
The overcapacity problem is extraordinarily severe.  Regional banks are up to their necks in this paper, and its performance is becoming worse by the day.  "FOR LEASE" signs have sprouted like mushrooms, and this will continue.

The unfortunate reality is that a lot of these developments cannot possibly ever perform as originally structured, as the cap rates are off with reality to a degree that is impossible to reconcile.  These buildings and malls will never be profitable outside of "huge bubble" conditions, and those are not coming back!



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:46:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rep Peterson says US House bill may ban naked CDS | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters
An omnibus financial reform bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would require that over-the-counter derivatives go through clearinghouses and probably ban "naked" credit default swaps, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee said on Tuesday.

The over-the-counter derivatives market, which has a global notional value of $450 trillion, is now largely unregulated. The market includes credit default swaps (CDS), the financial instruments blamed for spreading the risks of bad mortgages in the financial crisis, often with high leverage.

A naked credit default swap is a CDS for which a trader or investor does not hold the underlying asset being insured, such as a bond.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Research Recap » Blog Archive » Derivatives Reform to Hurt Bank Profits
Proposed modest changes to the regulatory framework for over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives could limit the contribution such transactions can make to future bank earnings, but these concerns are unlikely to carry the day when measured against the benefit of appreciably reducing counterparty risk for standardised transactions, and systemic risk for the financial system as a whole, Oxford Analytica says.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:54:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Proposed modest changes to the regulatory framework for over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives could limit the contribution such transactions can make to future bank earnings,...

"Contributions" = fees booked this year that will give rise to bonuses this year.  Costs = blowing up the company next year.  Issuing a CDS for an instrument in excess of the value that the institution has at risk due to that instrument should be a criminal offense.  What better than to write a bunch of CDSs on assets of a company which you have in your power to drive into bankruptcy.  I don't think this is even illegal as things now stand, though is clearly should be.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 07:59:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Issuing a CDS for an instrument in excess of the value that the institution has at risk due to that instrument should be a criminal offense

No need. Treat it like the gambling debt it is, and make it unenforceable.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 08:16:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Harvard's Feldstein Sees Risk of `Double-Dip' Recession in U.S. - Bloomberg.com
The U.S. recession may not be coming to an end and there is a risk the economy may experience a "double-dip" contraction, said Martin Feldstein, a professor of economics at Harvard University.

"There is a real danger this is going to be a double dip and that after six months or so we'll have some more bad news," Feldstein, the former head of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Reagan administration adviser, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "We could slide down again in the fourth quarter."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Capital Markets - Ratings agency model left largely intact
The ratings agencies remain central to the debt markets and their business models today remain largely intact, in spite of widespread claims that they exacerbated the credit crisis. The criticism centres on the fact that Moody's, S&P and Fitch gave triple A ratings to hundreds of billions of dollars of bonds backed by risky mortgages - but these securities have since been downgraded and are now in many cases worthless. Ratings continue to be written into the official criteria used by many investors to define what debt they can and cannot buy. They are also still central to risk assessments by regulators and other official agencies.
...
This week's proposed legislation by the US Treasury to reform rating agencies is not widely regarded as fundamentally changing the business of ratings, even though it does put more controls in place.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:38:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BLATANT Ratings BS - The Market Ticker
If anyone thought ratings meant anything, this ought to dispel that belief:

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Standard & Poor's backtracked on ratings cuts issued last week and raised the ranking on commercial mortgage-backed debt from three bonds sold in 2007.

The securities, restored to top-ranked status, had been downgraded as recently as last week, making them ineligible for the Federal Reserve's Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to jumpstart lending.

Got it?

Ratings no longer mean anything about actual credit quality.  They are now simply a ticket to get into The Fed's programs so you can dump your trash on the taxpayer.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
potemkin economy...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 07:40:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Research Recap » Blog Archive » Would More Competition Improve Quality of Ratings?
On the heels of calls for increased competition as part of the solution to improved financial regulation, it is worth looking at an updated version of a Harvard  paper arguing that competition has actually had a negative impact on the quality of the credit ratings system.
...
The Harvard paper, first featured on Research Recap last October, looks at the impact of the entry of Fitch Ratings as a competitor to the incumbent rating agencies of Standrad &P and Moody's.

    We find three pieces of evidence, all consistent with a reduction in credit rating quality as Fitch increased its market presence across industries.

    * First, competition is associated with friendlier ratings (i.e., they are closer to the highest rating AAA).
    * Second, ratings and bond yields have become less correlated (conditional on public information about bonds and issuers).
    * Third, at least in the short run, equity prices react more to downgrades as competition increases, consistent with a lowering of the bar for ratings categories. This is especially clear for downgrades from investment grade to junk status.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:35:20 PM EST
US holds 1,000th lethal injection execution - Telegraph
A man who went on a 1992 Christmas holiday killing spree that left six people dead, including an 18-year-old mother gunned down at a pay phone, was executed on Tuesday, the 1,000th execution by lethal injection in the US since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Marvallous Keene, 36, who was convicted in five of the murders, chose not to file a late appeal over his death sentence.

He died by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville - seven days after Ohio's last execution. It was the fastest turnaround since the state executed two inmates in six days in 2004.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:37:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | US 'ready to boost Gulf defence'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US is prepared to bolster the defence of its Gulf allies if Iran develops a nuclear weapons programme.

Mrs Clinton said if the US extended a "defence umbrella" over the region, it was unlikely that Iran would be any stronger or safer having a weapon.

She was speaking in Thailand where she is attending a regional summit.

On North Korea, she said it must agree to "irreversible" denuclearisation before returning to multilateral talks.

"We have made it very clear to the North Koreans that if they will agree to irreversible denuclearisation, the United States as well as our partners will move forward on a package of incentives and opportunities including normalising relations," she told a press conference in the Thai resort of Phuket.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:39:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Clinton says US is prepared to arm Iran's neighbours | France 24
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States is still open to holding talks with Iran but that tougher measures, such as arming Tehran's neighbours to build a regional "defence umbrella", are also in the works.

The United States "still holds the door open" to talks with Iran but is ready to take "crippling action" and bolster their regional partner's defence systems if Tehran does not back down over its nuclear programme, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.

Speaking to Thai television in Bangkok ahead of a summit between the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Clinton warned that the "nuclear clock is ticking."

"We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment ... that if the US extends a defence umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it's unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon", she said.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
they won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon"

ya mean like israel does?

hilary speaking out of both sides of her mouth as per...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 10:34:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
can someone find out if Hilary has been injected with H1-Cheney; enough with the Bush doctrine, please

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Burqa-clad bombers who terrorise Afghanistan - Asia, World - The Independent
Taliban borrow tactic from Iraqi militant handbook as Afghan violence shows no sign of slowing, in spite of US-led surge

Male suicide bombers disguised in womens' burqas stormed government buildings and security headquarters in co-ordinated attacks which killed a dozen people and injured 22 others in eastern Afghanistan yesterday.

Hamid Karzai's government described the "commando-style" raids as a new tactic being employed by the Taliban in what has been one of the most violent months in the country's war.

Bombers wearing burqas, male and female, have struck on a number of occasions in Iraq. The modus operandi is, however, new to Afghanistan where, due to religious sensibilities, women in traditional dresses face less risk of being searched than in Iraq.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan Objects to U.S. Plan for Afghan War - NYTimes.com
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan is objecting to expanded American combat operations in neighboring Afghanistan, creating new fissures in the alliance with Washington at a critical juncture when thousands of new American forces are arriving in the region.

Pakistani officials have told the Obama administration that the Marines fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan will force militants across the border into Pakistan, with the potential to further inflame the troubled province of Baluchistan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Pakistan does not have enough troops to deploy to Baluchistan to take on the Taliban without denuding its border with its archenemy, India, the officials said. Dialogue with the Taliban, not more fighting, is in Pakistan's national interest, they said.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:42:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saudi Arabia: from bad to worse | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The Saudi Arabian government is launching a sustained assault on human rights under the guise of combating terrorism. That acusation is made in a report released Wednesday by Amnesty International. The measures adopted in the country after the 9/11 attacks have, according to Amnesty, made an already dire situation worse. 

A Saudi Arabian princess has just been granted asylum in the United Kingdom after bearing an illegitimate child with a British man. She would, she said, be stoned to death if forced to return. The case is one of a small number of asylum claims brought by Saudis that have been handled secretly by the British authorities. To acknowledge such claims would, according to diplomats, amount to open criticism of the Royal House of Saud and the country's strict Sharia laws.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:42:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Earthquake brings New Zealand closer to Australia

South Island moves 30cm towards Australia after 7.8-magnitude quake
By Abhinav Ramnarayan, guardian.co.uk

As countries with strong national identities, it can safely be said that Australia and New Zealand are worlds apart. However, a strong earthquake in the region has brought the fierce rivals closer - 30cm to be precise.

The 7.8-magnitude quake appears to have jolted the South Island and moved it towards Australia, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Global positioning systems showed that Te Anau, a town in the remote Fiordland region, was now 10cm closer to Australia, it said, while the South Island's south-western tip, Puysegur Point, was 30cm (11.8ins) closer.


by Magnifico on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:30:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan Objects to U.S. Plan for Afghan War
By Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez, The New York Times

Pakistan is objecting to expanded American combat operations in neighboring Afghanistan, creating new fissures in the alliance with Washington at a critical juncture when thousands of new American forces are arriving in the region.

Pakistani officials have told the Obama administration that the Marines fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan will force militants across the border into Pakistan, with the potential to further inflame the troubled province of Baluchistan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Pakistan does not have enough troops to deploy to Baluchistan to take on the Taliban without denuding its border with its archenemy, India, the officials said. Dialogue with the Taliban, not more fighting, is in Pakistan's national interest, they said.

The Pakistani account made clear that even as the United States recommits troops and other resources to take on a growing Taliban threat, Pakistani officials still consider India their top priority and the Taliban militants a problem that can be negotiated. In the long term, the Taliban in Afghanistan may even remain potential allies for Pakistan, as they were in the past, once the United States leaves.

This would be comedy if for not the death toll. Pakistan is still more concerned about India than the Taliban.

by Magnifico on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahem! this has already been posted further up. :-)
by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:38:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I missed it. :-(

Off to the shame exile.

by Magnifico on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:02:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Report: Big cuts needed at huge Baghdad embassy that Bush built
By By Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq, the government's largest overseas diplomatic mission, is significantly overstaffed and needs to be downsized to reflect the reduced American role in the country, according to a new State Department report.

"There is a clear consensus from the top to the bottom of the embassy: The time has come for a significant rightsizing," says the report Wednesday by the department's inspector general...

In addition to downsizing the embassy, the report recommends ending the Provincial Reconstruction Teams by 2011, which have been the prime U.S. tool for rebuilding civilian life in Iraq's provinces.


by Magnifico on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Asia-Pacific - Italy blocks sale of yachts to N Korea
Italy has blocked the sale of two luxury yachts to North Korea because it suspects they were destined for Kim Jong-il, the country's ailing dictator, in a potential breach of international sanctions against Pyongyang.

A contract for the sale of the yachts, valued at about €12.5m ($17.8m), was terminated this month after an investigation by officials from the Italian ministry of economic development and the Guardia di Finanza, Italy's anti-fraud police, the Financial Times has learnt.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:32:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies - CNN.com
This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.

Expert: "Medical bills ... are an issue that can very easily and in pretty short order overwhelm a lot families."

Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
...
"That was actually the predominant problem in patients in our study -- 78 percent of them had health insurance, but many of them were bankrupted anyway because there were gaps in their coverage like co-payments and deductibles and uncovered services," says Woolhandler. "Other people had private insurance but got so sick that they lost their job and lost their insurance."

Hat tip AmbroseBurnside's comment in this DKos diary

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 06:35:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

     

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:35:58 PM EST
Saving plant species gets a boost at a Greek bazaar | Environment & Development | Deutsche Welle | 21.07.2009
One quarter of plant species around the world are at risk of extinction, but a few Greeks are trying to counteract that development in their country by organizing a "flea market" for plant seeds. 

Spyros Panagiotiakis is standing in front of a box filled with plant seeds, and he's thrilled. Black tomatoes, yellow watermelons, yellow beans and slender eggplants are filed in countless paper bags. It's like the Garden of Eden for the man from Crete.

 

"Nature is generous enough to offer us these plants," he said. "We must do everything we can to preserve this wealth."

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:38:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
doesn't the EU have monsanto-sponsored laws against this sort of bio-diversity initiative

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:20:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. I fear this market is not strictly legal.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Branch of Architecture: Grow Your Own Skyscraper - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Three young German architects are designing structures made completely out of living trees, including a pavilion for concerts in downtown Stuttgart. But designing the ultimate treehouse turns out to be trickier than one might expect.

Ferdinand Ludwig grows trees on trees. That's what he does. And he has grafted together -- trunk to top, top to trunk -- seven young willow trees.

At the moment a scaffold supports the young architect's unusual tree tower. The roots of individual trees protrude sideways and into containers of soil. But soon the roots will be cut off. And "at that point," the young architect says, "the trees will finally have merged into a single organism."

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:40:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lonesome George the Galapagos tortoise may become a father - Telegraph
Lonesome George, the last remaining giant tortoise of his kind, may soon be a father, in a development that has delighted conservationists.

Unhatched eggs have been found in his "bachelor" pen in the Galapagos Islands, his keepers have said.

For decades, the last known Pinta island tortoise had shown little interest in reproducing. But at age 90, George is said to be in his sexual prime.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:43:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Carbon capture for coal costly, study finds
By Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Harvard University researchers have issued a new report that confirms what many experts already feared: Stopping greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants is going to cost a lot of money.

Electricity costs could double at a first-generation plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide emissions, according to the report from energy researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center.

Costs would drop as the technology matures, but could still amount to an increase of 22 to 55 percent, according to the report, "Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture," issued this week.

These projections "are higher than many published estimates," but reflect capital project inflation and "greater knowledge of project costs," wrote researchers Mohammed Al-Juaied and Adam Whitmore.

Coal is the nation's largest source of global warming pollution, representing about a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, equal to the combined output of all cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats.

Or... we could stop using coal, since Coal Is Carbon Captured™. Why take it out the ground, capture the carbon, and then stick it back in the ground. Wouldn't it be simpler, cleaner, and less destructive to simply just not take coal out of the ground in the first place?

by Magnifico on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:28:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Radar could save bats from wind turbines - LiveScience- msnbc.com
Bats use sonar to navigate and hunt. Many have been killed by wind turbines, however, which their sonar doesn't seem to recognize as a danger. Surprisingly, radar signals could help keep bats away from wind turbines, scientists have now discovered.

Hat tip Naked Capitalism

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Combine the data in that article with the data in this one and one can put together a decent picture.

Texas wind farm pioneers radar technology to protect migrating birds - Guardian- Friday 1 May 2009

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 01:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ranking Member's Senate Minority Report on Global Warming Not Credible, says CFI
 | Center for Inquiry
After assessing 687 individuals named as "dissenting scientists" in the January 2009 version of the United States Senate Minority Report, the Center for Inquiry's Credibility Project found that:

* Slightly fewer than 10 percent could be identified as climate scientists.
* Approximately 15 percent published in the recognizable refereed literature on subjects related to climate science.
* Approximately 80 percent clearly had no refereed publication record on climate science at all. 
* Approximately 4 percent appeared to favor the current IPCC-2007 consensus and should not have been on the list.

Further examination of the backgrounds of these individuals revealed that a significant number were identified as meteorologists, and some of these people were employed to report the weather.

Hat tip A Siegel

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 09:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:36:28 PM EST
Releasing the pirate within - Dilema Veche/Presseurop

The sale of Pirate Bay, the largest file-sharing site in the world, and the will of certain governments - France's notably - to penalise illegal downloading, has re-opened the debate on copyright. As Romanian weekly Dilema Veche observes, all surfers are potential web delinquents.

Multi-platform pirating in the record and cassette distribution industry has been rampant in Romania since the 1950s. While in the 1980s books "banned" by the Communist regime were photocopied and passed around, vast collections of pirated cassettes and CDs sprang up in the '90s. For these collectors, the transition to mp3s was a cinch. So it is easy to talk about pirating from a Romanian perspective because history has taught us that a copy can be worth more than the original. Romanians are born pirates. We readily adapt new technologies to our needs and regard the multimedia platforms at our disposal as free tools.

But reality is more complicated. The cause célèbre of Pirate Bay [Swedish startup, one of the world's largest file-sharing sites, recently convicted for allowing illegal downloads], which - like Napster - was eventually bought up by a multinational bent on putting an end to their kopimi [i.e. copy me] system and charging fees for p2p (peer to peer) file-sharing is a good example of how things go. We are all in the dock in the Pirate Bay trial, and that awareness ought to transform file-sharing into a mass phenomenon. When we come to realise that sharing means not only downloading, but also uploading files, we will then be mature enough to participate in the multimedia ecosystem - whether that involves citizen journalism or social networks that apply the open-source principle to every domain.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the world's a train station -  Die Zeit/Presseurop

For 80 days, German, Turkish, Romanian, Croatian, Serb and Slovenian actors have been criss-crossing Europe on a train transmogrified into a theatre-on-wheels. The object of this project launched by the Stuttgart National Theatre is "to foster understanding between nations". Easier said than done, says a journalist from Die Zeit, who boarded the train for the stretch from Istanbul to Bucharest.

A blind old man is sitting on the platform at a train station in Romania. The Orient Express dashes through here everyday, and everyday the blind man waits on the platform. One day his daughter plays a compassionate hoax on him: she puts a rusty old train door in front of him and says the train has stopped here just this once and he should climb aboard. The blind man holds tight to the door, his daughter points an electric fan at him, and the greybeard is whisked away, in spirit, to the West.

This scene is from a Romanian play entitled Occident Express by Matei Visniec. It has now been premiered in Bucharest - albeit not in a theatre, but in a train station. Orient-Express - eine europäische Theaterreise ("Orient Express: A European Theatre Trip"), a brainchild of the Stuttgart State Theatre, is a collaborative production involving input from theatre troupes in Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. The theatre train itself is of Turkish provenance. By this time it has crossed seven borders and 3900 kilometres. The train pulled out of Ankara back in May, stopping first at Istanbul and then at Bucharest, Craiova and Timişoara (Romania), Novi Sad (Serbia), Zagreb (Croatia), Ljubljana and Nova Gorica (Slovenia), and Freiburg (Germany). Another local theatre company boards the train in each country, and plays specially written for the journey are performed at each station along the way. The train recently reached Stuttgart.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 04:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there's another train full of exhibits and videos touting the EU raveling country to country too, saw it on euronews.

i always wanted to do a rock and roll tour by train.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 10:29:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who Composed 'Holla-Rä-Di-Ri'?: Landmark Yodelling Trial to Open in Munich - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Who owns the rights to a yodel? The textless singing in rapidly changing pitch has been used since the Stone Age to seek help, express delight at the wonders of nature and woo milkmaids. Now a Munich court has to settle a copyright dispute over one of the most popular yodelling refrains.

Yodelling is a serious business in Bavaria -- so serious that it's the subject of a court case starting on Thursday in Munich.

The legal dispute focuses on who composed the unforgettable yodelling refrain "Holla-rä-di-ri, di-ri, di-ri" in the "Kufstein Song," one of the most famous Alpine folk songs, a perennial hit in beer tents at the Munich Oktoberfest.

The heirs of composer Karl Ganzer, who wrote the song 60 years ago, are suing music publisher Egon Frauenberger who claims to have invented the yodelling passage.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 04:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slate: How Amazon's remote deletion of e-books from the Kindle paves the way for book-banning's digital future.

The worst thing about this story isn't Amazon's conduct; it's the company's technical capabilities. Now we know that Amazon can delete anything it wants from your electronic reader. That's an awesome power, and Amazon's justification in this instance is beside the point. As our media libraries get converted to 1's and 0's, we are at risk of losing what we take for granted today: full ownership of our book and music and movie collections.
by Sassafras on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:18:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I thought this behaviour is a kindl killer. Nobody is gonna trust it now, so amazon may have brought about its premature extinction.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:23:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its one of those things that has prevented me moving over away from CDs and DVDs too.  It will probably do more to damage iTunes song libraries and other similar systems.

I don't see how this dosn't fall in the UK under the misuse of computers act, if any copies here have been removed.

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 Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I use the iTunes software to manage my CD collection, but I don't use the iTunes store.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 09:17:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Until I can get completely open pdfs and a device that can't be remotely controlled I won't bother. I don't want sociopathic technology in my house.

Amusingly amazon is fighting for the same business model as the old record companies who are now not many years from capitulation.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 09:11:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
MillMan:
Amusingly amazon is fighting for the same business model as the old record companies who are now not many years from capitulation.
When innovative corporations get large, invariably they turn to the same corporate strategies as established ones. So, the same corporation that used to leverage open platforms in its growth phase, turns to closing them. Just look at Microsoft, Dell, Google or, indeed, Amazon.

Which indicates that the key factor is the transition from entrepreneurial to mature corporation, to use Galbraith's terms (from The New Industrial State).

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 09:16:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kindle is ugly and the licensing model is stupid. But it's also part of a conscious and deliberate strategy by Amazon to create its own publishing monopoly. Amazon isn't just looking to sell books, it's looking to become the only significant book marketplace.

While Kindle has been happening, Amazon has been trying to put print-on-demand physical book printers out of business by undercutting them. It offers some great deals for authors, but at the cost of destroying the existing eco-system and replacing it with a coroprate monoculture, which has the potential to have total control over what is and isn't made available to buyers.

So far as I know, Amazon, Dell, eBay and Microsoft have all tried this same approach. They've never been entrepreneurial - they've always attempted to create monopolies.  

Google has been far more successful than any of them at creating a real monopoly, and far less overt and financially aggressive - which is an interesting approach, and seems to have been successful.

What's more worrying than Kindle is that Amazon is setting up scalable web hosting. For a not so small fee, you'll be able to host your business on Amazon's servers. Luckily it's too expensive to compete with existing hosting companies, but the potential is there for businesses to hand over all of their sales figures and commercial data to Amazon without even noticing that that's what they've done.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 10:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm....for a long time, companies have offered 'leasing' 'subscription' models for downloads, in competition with Apple's iTunes. Download all you wanted, but stop paying your subscription fee and 'where'd it go?' This disappearing thing is not new.

iTunes has been magnificent successful (if not magnificent in and of itself) because Apple predicted, developed and made available a simple collection of software and hardware that fit most peoples way of doing things.

Most people don't care about DRM or other sophisticated complaints that people had about Apple. They easily got a tune for a fair price, are able to listen to a bit of it without having to go to the store, play it back with better quality than they had with records, and can make CDs with a click.

So, what were the alternatives for Amazon. They find they don't have permission to distribute something that got into the field. They have the power to get it back, as all these companies do with their 'upgrade' software access. The author would hold them liable if they didn't. They aren't going to get much of a response if they send a note to people telling them to delete the book in question. Instead, they send a note saying they credited their account for a book that they weren't authorized to sell.

Reminds me of the bike I had taken away by the police because my Grandmother had gotten it from someone who had stolen it.

Not that it makes it 'right', but my bet that most people (plus 99.999%), presuming it was explained and presuming their account is credited would think that this is the logical, best and correct way to have handled the situation.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 01:16:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bobbie Johnson reports on Amazon's deletion of paid-for Kindle content | Technology | The Guardian

George Orwell always had a fine ear for hypocrisy. Even so, quite what he would have made of last week's Kindle debacle, in which Amazon was accused of tactics reminiscent of Big Brother, is unclear. When it emerged that the company had secretly deleted copies of Orwell's novels from people's Kindle ebook readers because of a legal issue, the irony was too delicious to ignore: the writer who best charted authoritarian attitudes in 1984 and Animal Farm had become the victim of a sort of eerie censorship.

It turned out to be a copyright issue - MobileReference, the company that sold the copies, did not have the rights to use Orwell's work; the ebooks had slipped through the net and Amazon was trying to erase its mistake.



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 Jul 22nd, 2009 at 05:29:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:36:53 PM EST
The meek shall inherit the Negresco - Europe, World - The Independent
The eccentric owner of the Nice hotel has bequeathed it to a foundation for animals and the poor

For almost a century, the Hotel Negresco in Nice has been the holiday destination of choice for film stars, millionaires, royalty and Soviet commissars. How many hotels can boast a metal chandelier designed by Gustav Eiffel? Or mink bedspreads in every room? Or a portrait of King Louis XIV, whose only counterparts are in the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles?

The octogenarian owner of the palatial, art-encrusted hotel, classified as a historic monument by the French state, has just re-written her will. On her death, the title deeds will be handed over to a charity which rescues homeless people and unwanted animals.

The Hotel Negresco, the 96-year-old queen of the Promenade des Anglais, is not going to become an animal shelter. Friendless animals and fundless humans will not be accommodated in its 141 bedrooms and suites which cost from €290 to €1,880 a night (£250 to £1,625). However, the ownership, and the profits of the hotel, have been bequeathed to a new foundation which is devoted to animals and the poor, created by the 86-year-old, animal-loving Negresco owner, Jeanne Augier.

by Fran on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:40:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pubs closing at rate of 52 a week as hard-up drinkers shun their local - Times Online

The rate of pub closures is accelerating, with 52 going out of business every week at a cost of 24,000 jobs over the past year, figures show.

Almost 2,400 pubs and bars have vanished from villages and towns in the past 12 months, according to research for the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Local pubs serving small communities have been the worst hit, the association said.

The number of closures represents the steepest rate of decline since records began in 1990 and has risen by a third compared with the same period last year, when 36 pubs were closing every week.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 at 06:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the problem isn't the pubs, it's got everything to do with the companies that run them expecting to squeeze too high a return from them.

short term-ism run riot.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 04:06:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Old colleague Charlie Hill, who's had me in stitches dozens of times at pow-wows and festivals, turned up on Letterman with a knockout blue ribbon shirt.  Enjoy...




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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 06:44:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that was a true joy + real fun, thank you!
by Specs on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 09:10:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hey specs, welcome to the funny farm!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 10:31:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fantastic, CH.

the getting them drunk and stealing their money line cracked me up!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2009 at 11:19:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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