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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 25 August

by Fran Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:24:25 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1938 – Frederick Forsyth, an English author and occasional political commentator was born.

More here and here

 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 Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:09:46 PM EST
Deutsche Welle: Greek fires start to recede as more help arrives from EU

A huge wildfire that burned homes and destroyed thousands of acres of forest near the Greek capital Athens over the past three days started to recede on Monday as assistance from other European countries arrived.

According to European Commission spokesman, Michael Mann, Italy, France and Spain have each sent two fire fighting aircraft to assist Greece. More planes were due to arrive later Monday and Tuesday from Spain and Turkey.

In addition, the EU mobilized two further planes from its European tactical reserve of fire-fighting aircraft (EUFFTR), said Mann. Established to assist EU member states that face major fires, the EUFFTR makes planes available during the summer in a project costing 3.5 million euros ($5 million).

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Russia accuses Ukraine on Georgia

Ukrainian troops fought alongside Georgian forces in the brief conflict last August between Georgia and Russia, Moscow prosecutors say.

Regular soldiers, as well as 200 members of a Ukrainian nationalist group, took part in the fighting, the prosecutor general's office said.

The statement comes amid worsening relations between Moscow and Kiev.

Ukraine denied it helped Georgian attempts to re-assert control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:24:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Fears of regime change add new dimension to Russia-Ukraine tensions

As Ukraine celebrates the 18th anniversary of its independence from Soviet rule, the shadow of its former Communist past still hangs heavy. Moscow still seems determined to have a say in how things are run in Kyiv.
by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:42:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Der, that's a whoops if they did.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 05:02:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Israel-Sweden row over media report

A diplomatic row between Sweden and Israel has intensified, with Israeli politicians urging Stockholm to condemn a newspaper article they have described as "blood libel".

In the report, published in Sweden's leading tabloid, a freelance journalist accused the Israeli army of stealing body organs from Palestinian men after killing them.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU presidency under pressure over Israel organs story

With Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu arriving in Europe on Tuesday (25 August) for talks set to focus on settlement expansion, EU presidency country Sweden is embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with Tel Aviv over a newspaper article about Israeli soldiers harvesting Palestinian organs.

Mr Netanyahu on Sunday demanded that Sweden formally condemn the story, which was published last week in Sweden's top selling Aftonbladet daily.

The Israeli government has said the piece is a modern form of medieval "blood libel" - the anti-Semitic myth that Jews killed Christian children for their blood.

"We're not asking the Swedish government for an apology, we're asking for their condemnation," the prime minister told a meeting of cabinet ministers, according to an unnamed Israeli official quoted in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

But while the Swedish ambassador to Israel initially denounced the article, the government has refused to follow suit.

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Picking a fight with Sweden does not seem a smart idea. Ha'aretz has just published a survey of Sweden's activities around the Holocaust. Turns out the Holocaust museum has a white bus
It is one of 36 such vehicles that were used during the final weeks of World War II for the transfer of thousands of Nazi concentration camp prisoners from Germany to Sweden.

The official Web site of Yad Vashem states the convoy of vehicles rescued some 27,000 prisoners from Germany, including several thousand Jews, mostly women. The historian Yehuda Bauer says some 21,000 persons were rescued this way, and among them were 6,500 Jews.

They then mention the man who negotiated the transfer: Count Folke Bernadotte...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 08:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They then mention the man who negotiated the transfer: Count Folke Bernadotte...

Who was assasinated by Yitshak Shamir's Stern gang, who later became the PM of Israel...

At a ceremony in Tel-Aviv in May 1995, attended by the Swedish deputy prime minister, Israeli Foreign Minister and Labor Party member Shimon Peres issued a "condemnation of terror, thanks for the rescue of the Jews and regret that Bernadotte was murdered in a terrorist way," adding that "We hope this ceremony will help in healing the wound."


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:22:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the rest of us.  So what's the news?  I've said it before, it's worth repeating.  We are simply cattle.  MOOO!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:17:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Soylent Green is People® Alert]

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:25:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good Morning (for me), Mig.  Long time.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it like 4am where you are?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:48:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm usually out of the sack by 2.  It takes me 2 - 3 hours until my body/back is ready for me to walk with reasonable comfort.  Don't want to be on a bunch of pain pills or alcohol.  Need my daily walking at sunrise (now at 6:15) in order to keep going.  Growing old sucks!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:53:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview with Israeli Intelligence Chief Dan Meridor: 'We All See the Clock Ticking' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

In an interview with SPIEGEL, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, 62, speaks about Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Berlin, the chances for a new peace process in the Middle East and why the world can't let Iran get its hands on nuclear weapons.

SPIEGEL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting George Mitchell, the United States' special envoy to the Middle East, this Monday in London before coming to Berlin on Wednesday. Will we see a very confident and relaxed Benjamin Netanyahu or a politician whose hardline policies have put him under a lot of pressure?

Dan Meridor: I don't think we are hardline. But if you'd like to characterize our government in this way, you are entitled to do so. But please take into account the fact that the position of Israeli's prime minister is unique. The Israeli prime minister is confronted with problems you don't see as head of the government in Switzerland, Norway or even Germany. These are questions of a different scale and magnitude: a dramatically changing society, the absorption of immigrants and borders that are not yet defined and are challenged all the time. These are questions of the legitimacy of the state -- and its very survival.

SPIEGEL: And because of that ...

Meridor: ... you need to be relaxed and very stable as an Israeli politician. You can't try to meet all the expectations of the Israeli opposition, foreign powers or journalists. If I may say so, the issues are too serious to be taken at the press level.

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Israeli prime minister is confronted with problems you don't see as head of the government in Switzerland, Norway or even Germany. [....] These are questions of the legitimacy of the state -- and its very survival.

Of course, they could stop doing the things that create these threats, but that would damage the legitimacy of their hardline stance.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 05:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nrc.nl - International - Opinion - Tariq Ramadan answers his Dutch detractors

Once again I have come under attack in the Netherlands. Last May and June, I was accused of 'doublespeak', of 'homophobia' and of demeaning women. Upon investigation, the Rotterdam municipality declared the accusations unfounded.

Today, the argument goes that I am linked to the Iranian regime; I support the repression that followed the recent elections. Should we be surprised that this latest accusation has surfaced only in the Netherlands? It is as if I in particular, and Islam in general, are being used to promote certain political agendas in the upcoming Dutch elections. [Local elections will be held in 2010, Ed.]

Geert Wilders, who wins votes by comparing the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, casts a long shadow. I am cast as the cause of an outburst of political passions that is far from healthy. But the present controversy says far more about the alarming state of politics in the Netherlands than about my person. The attacks on my involvement have been extremely violent; to those, I will respond with utmost clarity.

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian Envoy Talks About Arctic Sea Hijacking: 'We Found Nothing Conspicuous on Board' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

In an interview with SPIEGEL, Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, 45, says rumors surrounding the cargo of the hijacked freighter Arctic Sea stem from "Russophobia" and that the case highlights the need for close cooperation to stop piracy between Moscow and NATO.

SPIEGEL: Did NATO support Russia in the search for the freighter Arctic Sea?

Rogozin: I met NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on August 11, at his request, and told him that Russia was in a difficult position, we were looking for a ship, and asked if NATO could help.

SPIEGEL: What was the answer?

Rogozin: Rasmussen was not fully informed about the matter but promised help. The next day the head of our military liaison group with NATO, General Victor Sinoyev, rang me. NATO colleagues had sent him the coordinates of a ship they believed to be the Arctic Sea. I immediately passed the data on to the head of the General Staff and the head of the fleet in Moscow. They tallied with the data our own people had gathered by then.

SPIEGEL: What happened then?

Rogozin: Then we refined the coordinates with NATO on a daily basis: the speed of the vessel, the direction. The Arctic Sea was steering towards Brazil but suddenly changed course at the Cape Verde islands and headed full steam for the African coast. We assumed the pirates were headed for Senegal, Gambia or Guinea-Bissau. It was our task to stop them from reaching the coast.

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:10:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I bet something really fishy was in the cargo hold of Arctic Sea, and I'm not talking about €1.5 million of timber...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:24:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe's top tourist venues hit by economic crisis - Yahoo! News

PARIS (AFP) - Empty terrace tables at Parisian cafes. Fewer sunbathers scattered along Italian and Spanish beaches: The global economic crisis has cast a dark cloud over Europe's top tourist destinations.

France, the world's tourism champion with 79.3 million visitors last year, has been hit hard by the drop in foreign travellers.

The number of international visitors in France has fallen by nearly one-third in the heat of summer -- July and August -- after sinking by 15.5 percent in the first five months of the year, government figures show.

Spain, which fell to third place among the world's favourite tourist destinations last year, has suffered a 10 percent drop in visits this summer following an 11.4 percent fall in the first half of the year.

And Italy's tourism industry is forecasting an 8.3 percent reduction in foreign visitors between May and October.

As frugal foreigners stay in their home countries, Europe's top tourist destinations are looking at their compatriots to compensate for the drop in visitors.

by Fran on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:32:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:10:27 PM EST
Telegraph: World faces hi-tech crunch as China eyes ban on rare metal exports

A draft report by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for a total ban on foreign shipments of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum will be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year, far below global needs.

China mines over 95pc of the world's rare earth minerals, mostly in Inner Mongolia. The move to horde reserves is the clearest sign to date that the global struggle for diminishing resources is shifting into a new phase. Countries may find it hard to obtain key materials at any price.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:40:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neodymium is a key component in an effective version of permanent magnet generators, particularly conducive to direct-drive (gearless) wind turbines.  

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 06:47:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
see this diary.

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:37:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Times: Financial storm swirls around San Marino

On the face of it, the 1,700-year-old Most Serene Republic of San Marino is as tranquil as ever.

Perched on top of Monte Titano in the Appennine foothills, within sight of Italy's Adriatic coast, it has long been a magnet for tourists, who come to buy its stamps and coins and photograph its medieval towers, and for those seeking low tax rates and banking secrecy.

But that serenity has suffered three unmistakably heavy blows: from the global recession, which has led to a fall in tourism; from a banking scandal; and above all from the demands of the G20, the European Union and Italy that it comply with a crackdown on tax evasion and money laundering.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:55:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Fur flies as top academics trade blows over Felix the Cat (and race)

Niall Ferguson, the historian, debater and occasional television presenter, has committed the greatest sin of any Briton living in America. At Harvard nowadays, he has been a bit too damned clever. Americans see that Brit Wit and tend to react badly, especially if they consider themselves in competition with you.

In this case, the rival is a certain Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economics professor at Princeton University, who is also good with words. Indeed, he is a columnist for The New York Times. He doesn't much care for our Mr Ferguson, whom he calls a "poseur" and a "whiner".

Academic spats usually burst forth like fireworks, illuminating very little but providing the rest of us with a few moments of amusement. This one, however, has been simmering since April, when the two men clashed during a panel discussion in New York about economic policy.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brit wit ?? From Ferguson ??? Sorry Michael Palin he is not. He's a pompous, self-regarding, stuck up, neocon wannabe. He may have challenging viewpoints on historical events but iconoclasm is not in itself a proof of intellectual depth. His obvious shortcomings of comprehension in other areas of more contemporary commentary suggest instead he is a mere contrarian dilettante.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 05:13:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
he is a mere contrarian dilettante.

Nice turn of a phrase.  I have not studied him sufficiently to form a considered opinion, but will say that I routinely find him annoying when I encounter him on panels--the kind of annoyance I encounter with Edmund Burke and other conservatives.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:13:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually watched the first part of his TV documentary The Ascent of Money - The Financial History of the World. Thus far it is really good.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 08:07:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it is very good. I missed the concluding part but I felt it was useful television. But I still felt he was working hrd to draw the wrong conclusions form the evidence at times.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 10:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Times: RBS and Lloyds sell repossessed properties to subsidiaries

Britain's taxpayer-owned banks are selling repossessed property assets to their own subsidiaries to avoid billions of pounds of losses that would be incurred by selling them in the open market.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is part-owned by the Government, has set up West Register to buy properties taken over by RBS after borrowers had fallen into default.

Lloyds Banking Group, which inherited billions of pounds of commercial property loans when it took over HBOS, is understood to have a similar subsidiary that buys assets from its owner.

The practice, which was popular towards the end of the recession of the early 1990s, enables banks to avoid selling assets that have fallen significantly in value and are in negative equity to an outside buyer, which would leave it nursing a loss.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:29:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Creative accounting...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Off-balance sheet "creativity" was supposed to have been tightened up after  Polly Peck. I was told when I was training that only one person spotted the huge losses hidden away in their accounts before the collapse-and that he wrote to the professional journal and was ignored.

I'd be interested to know what they're doing to keep the losses out of the consolidated accounts (the ones that include all the subsidiaries).

There is of course, no real difference between owning a house portfolio that (effectively) cost you more than it's worth and owning a subsidiary to which you've given the money to buy the house portfolio at an inflated price.

But it's amazing how flexible true and fair can become when there's a fat audit fee involved. Accounting Standards?  What Accounting Standards?

by Sassafras on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:23:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would expect that the subsidiaries are not majority owned by the banks (but rather by some trustees, with limited liability for which they are, of course, compesnated), and then get long term loans from the banks to buy the assets.

So the banks have only a lending relationship to these entities, and given that the loans are very long term, they can be booked at face value.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:34:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the default risk on those loans is an off-balance sheet liability...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:36:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is of course the whole point...
by Sassafras on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:40:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Haven't we learned anything!!!!????

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:43:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The recession is over! Green shoots! Back to normal! Bonuses are back! The politicians are off our backs! Greed is good, again and always!

Did you really have to ask?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:49:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I need to dig up some quotes from Veblen's Theory of Business Enterprise about the nature of the business cycle.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:51:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shorter everyone: profit trumps teh lerning.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:37:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly I'm aware that legal companies are now suggesting to property owners that now would be a good time to revalue to create reductions in property taxes.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 05:15:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only a good idea if you own free and clear or if the revaluation leaves you with positive equity and a lower tax bill.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US Fed has a facility such as described.  It is, ironically, named The Maiden Lane Facility.  I suspect that none who were taken down that lane would still be a maiden.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maiden Lane Transactions - Federal Reserve Bank of New York

In 2008, as part of extending support to specific institutions, under section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Reserve Board authorized the New York Fed to facilitate formation of three limited liability companies.

Maiden Lane LLC (ML LLC) was formed to facilitate the merger of the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The New York Fed extended credit to ML LLC to acquire certain assets of Bear Stearns.

Maiden Lane II LLC (ML II LLC) and Maiden Lane III LLC (ML III LLC) were formed to facilitate the restructuring of the New York Fed's financial support to American International Group (AIG). The New York Fed extended credit to ML II LLC to purchase residential mortgage-backed securities from the securities lending portfolio of several regulated U.S. insurance subsidiaries of AIG. The New York Fed extended credit to ML III LLC to purchase multi-sector collateralized debt obligations from certain counterparties of AIG Financial Products Corp.

More detailed description of each of the Maiden Lane transactions, along with certain information on each company's assets and liabilities is provided below.

 

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 03:43:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calculated Risk: Fitch: "Dramatic" Decrease in Cure Rates for Delinquent Mortgage Loans
Delinquency cure rates refer to the percentage of delinquent loans returning to a current payment status each month. Cure rates have declined from an average of 45% during 2000-2006 to the currently level of 6.6%. ...

'Recent stability of loans becoming delinquent do not take into account the drastic decrease in delinquency cure rates experienced in the prime sector since the peak of the housing market,' said [Managing Director Roelof Slump]. 'While prime has shown the most precipitous decline, rates have dropped in other sectors as well.'


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Euro area industrial orders up in June

Industrial orders in the eurozone were up by 3.1 percent in June compared with the previous month, in further signs that Europe is steadily crawling its way out of the worst of the economic crisis.

Nevertheless, hopes resulting from the figures, issued on Monday (24 August) by Eurostat, the European Union's statistical office, must be tempered by other data issued by the bureau. For the EU as a whole, including countries beyond those member states using the euro, new industrial orders fell by 0.4 percent for the same month after a minor rise of 0.5 percent in May.

Any optimism must also be be modulated by a comparison with the same period in 2008, which shows a drop of 25 percent in the euro area and 24 percent for the EU as a whole.

Excluding orders from the shipping, railway and aerospace sectors, which tend to be more volatile, still show a drop of 26.7 percent in the eurozone and 25.9 percent in the EU27.

The same exclusion for the month of June produces figures showing growth of 1.9 percent for the euro area and 1.1 percent in the entire EU.

New orders for capital goods grew by 5.6 percent in the euro area and by 0.9 percet in the EU27.

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:11:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / US & Canada - Obama to offer Bernanke second term

Ben Bernanke is to be reappointed by President Barack Obama for a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, according to a White House official.

Mr Obama will make the announcement on Tuesday in Martha's Vineyard, where he is on holiday with his family. The decision is the ultimate seal of approval for the Fed chairman, who was originally appointed by George W Bush, the Republican former president, and whose reappointment was seen as far from guaranteed.

It follows Mr Bernanke's extraordinarily aggressive efforts to fight the economic crisis, including radical interest rate cuts, loans to non-bank financial institutions, Fed-led bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG and gigantic asset purchases - exploiting the Fed's powers to their legal limits in a bid to prevent a second Great Depression.

Economists, investors and fellow central bankers overwhelmingly favour Mr Bernanke's reappointment. However, disquiet in Congress over the exercise of extraordinary Fed powers has raised a cloud over his future.



The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:48:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
extraordinarily aggressive efforts to fight the economic crisis



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama to name Bernanke to 2nd term as Fed chief | U.S. | Reuters

OAK BLUFFS, Massachusetts (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will nominate Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday as the economy shows signs of recovery, a senior administration official said on Monday.

Bernanke, whose appointment as head of the U.S. central bank must be confirmed by the Senate, has led the Fed and the U.S. economy through its most tumultuous period since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Obama's Democrats control the Senate.

Investors have given Bernanke high marks on the job and had widely expected him to be kept on by Obama, although the announcement was not expected until later this year.

by Fran on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barf.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mike Whitney: There is No Recession

Unemployment is rising, wages are falling and credit is contracting.  All the money is flowing upwards to the gangsters at the top. Here's an excerpt from a recent Don Monkerud article that sums it all up:

"During eight years of the Bush Administration, the 400 richest Americans, who now own more than the bottom 150 million Americans, increased their net worth by $700 billion. In 2005, the top one per cent claimed 22 per cent of the national income, while the top ten per cent took half of the total income, the largest share since 1928.

"Over 40 per cent of GNP comes from Fortune 500 companies. According to the World Institute for Development Economics Research, the 500 largest conglomerates in the U.S. "control over two-thirds of the business resources, employ two-thirds of the industrial workers, account for 60 per cent of the sales, and collect over 70 per cent of the profits."

... In 1955, IRS records indicated the 400 richest people in the country were worth an average $12.6 million, adjusted for inflation. In 2006, the 400 richest increased their average to $263 million, representing an epochal shift of wealth upward in the U.S." ("Wealth Inequality destroys US Ideals" Don Monkerud, consortiumnews.com)

Working people are not being crushed by accident, but according to plan. It is the way the system is designed to work. Bernanke knows that sustained demand requires higher wages and a vital middle class. But Bernanke works for the banks, which is why the Fed's monetary policies reflect the goals of the investor class. Bubblenomics is not the way to a strong/sustainable economy, but it is an effective tool for shifting wealth from one class to another. The Fed's job is to facilitate that objective, which is why the economy is headed for the rocks.

The financial meltdown is the logical outcome of the Fed's monetary policies. That's why it's a mistake to call the current slump a "recession". It's not. It's a planned demolition.



'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 Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:05:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:10:59 PM EST
BBC: Minister stands by bomber release

The Scottish justice secretary has said he stands by his decision to free the Lockerbie bomber, telling MSPs he will "live with the consequences".

Kenny MacAskill has been under increasing pressure after granting early release to terminally-ill Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

Mr MacAskill gave a statement to the Scottish Parliament, which was recalled early from its summer break.

Rival Scottish parties strongly criticised the minister's decision.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:09:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: Lockerbie bomber: Libya broke promise over hero's welcome, says Scottish justice minister

Kenny MacAskill, Scotland's justice secretary, accused Libya of breaking a promise not to give a hero's welcome to the freed Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi.

He told an emergency session of the Scottish Parliament: "It is a matter of great regret that Mr Megrahi was received in such an inappropriate manner.

"It showed no compassion or sensitivity to the families of the 270 victims of Lockerbie."

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:20:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we in the war against terror? Or is it just some Terror For Oil program?
by das monde on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 11:39:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Russia knew power plant was unsafe a decade ago

Russian authorities were reportedly warned that Siberia's massive Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant had fallen into serious neglect and was unsafe more than a decade before last week's deadly accident.

The death toll rose to 66 yesterday as rescuers continued to drain the dam's destroyed turbine room. They recovered 19 more bodies amid the twisted metal and concrete wreckage from Monday's unexplained explosion. Nine workers were still missing.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:11:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a fashionable all over the world to allow your infrastructure to rot underneath you. Bridges in US, railways in UK, now power stations in Russia.

anywhere profit imperatives strike, safety is compromised

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 05:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A decade ago they didn't have enough money to do anything about it.  It's probably a fact that everything built before 1991 is in serious neglect, and it is probably a fact that they still don't have the resources to tackle all of the problems accumulated over decades of fine Soviet craftsmanship and oversight.

I'm beginning to wonder if the concept of maintenance is one that will ever catch on over there.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 06:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is remarkable that the Soviets, presumably obsessed primarily with military build-up, were building and maintaining a lot of public and industrial objects relatively well. They were genuinely building (even if not fast enough, or not that impressive or practical) infrastructure, housing and public facilities (like schools, sports centra) for the use of regular citizenry, without much regard to financial worthiness of the "clients". And then, just at a turn of a decade, habits of public service were abruptly abandoned, many new projects were stopped half-way, while old objects were blighted for cheap privatization, as if new social-economic customs of negligence were already in place.

How on Earth had Soviet bright bulbs been that much avid in building for public good, actually? How did they have resources for almost anything, from patching rural roads (here and there) to nuclear plants, while now, in the "richer" "right" society, there is always not enough money?

by das monde on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 11:27:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How did they have resources for almost anything, from patching rural roads (here and there) to nuclear plants, while now, in the "richer" "right" society, there is always not enough money?

Not enough bubble gum and bananas, you see. And salami was a myth for the majority of population. In short, suppressed consumption.
by Sargon on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:34:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was very special to get oranges once a year, for Christmas and New Year...

The Soviet internal cycle of production and consumption was quite enough for a general subsistence level - and could be improved. But right, when it came to exports and imports, the Soviets had to play by the same financial rules.

Minimal subsistence standards in modern Russia (and perhaps all of the Soviet or even Socialist area) are much worse; I saw recently some neglected housing, with cut-off electricity, rotting walls and improvised sanitation. Salami dreams then depend on kindness of relatives and strangers.

I might start to speculate that the course of the last Soviet decade was to develop a consumptive hunger and awareness for a new wild transition :-O  After all, the KGB was not particularly repressive lastly, and it did absolutely nothing with its presumably totalitarian apparatus to save the Empire.

by das monde on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 08:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is that the Soviet Union was largely run by people with engineering background and people on the ground had a reasonable grasp of the reality of things, even if the power apparatus had sometimes other priorities.

Workers of these plants kept them running "on a string" for years - but now many of them are retiring and have not been replaced (the younger generations go into finance and bizness).

The same thing is happening in the education and healthcare sectors.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I heard that the US has the same retirement wave problem with crane operators and other special technicians. How did the world start to take everything for granted?
by das monde on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 08:15:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People started getting MBAs.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 08:44:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is plenty of money, but it's chasing more immediate profits than those yielded by infrastructure maintenance.

we taught them all this tune, now they're gonna play it till we drop.

lottery capitalism...

'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 Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Niger Delta Group ends ceasefire

Nigeria's largest militant group has said it is to end its ceasefire and resume attacks against Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said the move to end the truce on on September 15 was in response to the government's 60-day amnesty programme.

The government has invited fighter groups to hand in their weapons in return for cash, jobs and pardons under the scheme.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Mitsubishi closes Venezuela plant

Mitsubishi Motors has closed its Venezuelan car assembly plant, blaming a number of labour disputes that have led to reduced production levels.

The Japanese firm said the decision came in response to "indiscipline, anarchy and violence".

The facility in the east of the country has seen numerous violent strikes over the past year, including one that resulted in two deaths in January.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Counterfeiting: Notes on a scandal

As the US edges towards engagement with North Korea, it will be forced to address Pyongyang's booming trade in fake American currency. David Samuels investigates how 'supernotes' are funding crime - and a dictatorship
by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:01:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Allafrica.com:  South Africa: 'Agony Aunts' Don't Do HIV

Johannesburg -- Dear Abby, Dear Dolly, Ask Amy - advice columns are always popular in the print media, and South Africa is no exception. The "Agony Aunts" daily solve problems about love, lust, romance and other relationships, but one thing is consistently left off the page - HIV.

Flip through the country's most widely read magazines and one story in the advice columns soon appears to be a theme: girl meets boy, boy meets girl, boy cheats on girl.

A report released on 19 August by The Soul City Institute for Health & Development Communication notes that about 40 percent of letters to agony aunts asked for advice about multiple concurrent partnerships, but less than half received answers that included anything related to HIV and the increased risk of infection that accompanies such relationships.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:04:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Idea of five-year GNU gathers momentum | The Zimbabwe Times

Parliament's Constitutional Select Committee co-chairman Paul Mangwana of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has said the lifespan of Zimbabwe's current inclusive government will be five years because the majority of legislators across the political divide want to serve their full term of five years.

Mangwana's disclosure is in sharp contrast to the widely held belief that the duration of the hybrid government was two years, with the specific objective of writing a new governance charter for the country before fresh, free and fair elections are held.

The Zanu-PF Chivi Central legislator warned journalists attending a media workshop in Mutare Thursday on electoral reforms in Zimbabwe that linking the process of making a constitution to elections was attracting resistance to the making up of a new Constitution.

"I have engaged them (legislators) across party lines they still think that we were elected for five years and they want to serve for five years," Mangwana told journalists attending the Zimbabwe Election Support Network workshop. "That is what is in their minds."

Mangwana, 48, said power was sweet, and urged journalists not to link elections to the Constitution-making process if they wanted parliamentarians, who have the final say in the adoption of the new Constitution, to support the Constitution-making process.

"Please help us journalists," he said. "If you link the process of making a Constitution to elections, you are attracting resistance to the making of a new Constitution. Nobody, and I must stress this emphatically, nobody wants to be removed from power. Power is so sweet that no one wants to leave it. I also don't want to be removed from Chivi Central constituency.

"So if you continue to remind me that I am writing my own removal from power, the chances of me voting for a new Constitution will be diminished. This is across party lines."

Sigh...

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:13:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Salvo to Obama, Republicans Offer Health Rights for Seniors - WSJ.com

The Republicans said they aimed to "protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of health-care reform," in a statement and an accompanying op-ed written by RNC Chairman Michael Steele and published in Monday's Washington Post.

The party also vowed to oppose any Democratic effort to ration care or to insert the government between seniors and their doctors.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it does not intend to ration care to seniors.

Congressional Democrats shot back at the Republican statement. "The Republicans are doing nothing but saying 'No' and spreading lies," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), on a conference call with reporters sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.

The Republicans are hoping to tap into unease among seniors. Recent polls have shown that support for sweeping health-care changes is ebbing most rapidly among Americans over the age of 65.

At the same time, voters are expressing disenchantment with Republican positions. In an NBC News poll released last week, 62% of respondents -- and 42% of Republicans -- disapproved of how congressional Republicans were handling the health-care issue.

The same poll found that 41% of respondents favored Mr. Obama's handling of the issue, while 47% disapproved.



The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 01:06:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Republicans said they aimed to "protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of health-care reform," in a statement and an accompanying op-ed written by RNC Chairman Michael Steele and published in Monday's Washington Post.

See? The Republicans are "keeping the Government's hands off Medicare".

Any seniors who fall for this should be diagnosed with Alzheimers.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:32:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
text, WaPo, 24 Aug 2009

Americans are engaged in a critical debate over reforming our health-care system. While Republicans believe that reforms are necessary, President Obama's plan for a government-run health-care system is the wrong prescription. The Democrats' plan will hurt American families, small businesses and health-care providers by raising care costs, increasing the deficit, and not allowing patients to keep a doctor or insurance plan of their choice. Furthermore, under the Democrats' plan, senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed.

Again: Pt.A enrollment is automatic; $900 pa deductible. Pt.B-D enrollments are voluntary; premium prices are "progressive" and deducted from SS retirement monthly distributions. Advantage supplemental coverages are voluntary; plan designs are subject to mandatory benefit minima in order to qualify for fedVC insurers' "subsidy". Policyholder pays premiums OOP.

The claim, "a steeper price," is an awkward formulation of "No Social Security cost-of-living increase [COLA] next year means higher costs for some beneficiaries and states." If Steele were more sophisticated, he may therefore make an argument that toga party stimulus strategy condemns seniors to Hellthcare Inflation Purgatory.

bwah.

irst, we need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of "health-insurance reform." As the president frequently, and correctly, points out, Medicare will go deep into the red in less than a decade. But he and congressional Democrats are planning to raid, not aid, Medicare by cutting $500 billion from the program to fund his health-care experiment. The president also plans to cut hospital payments [?provider reimbursement beef] and Medicare Advantage [? "inefficient" $177B premium subsidy], all of which will mean fewer treatment options for seniors.

Second, we need to prohibit government from getting between seniors and their doctors. The government-run health-care experiment that Obama and the Democrats propose will give seniors less power to control their own medical decisions and create government boards that would decide what treatments would or would not be funded.

Oddly enough, Pt.A, B do not cover many doctors' fees a part from operative procedures; Medicare beneficiaries must finance such expenses OOP or claims from supplemental insurance.

H.R.3200 creates a federal Health Choices (insurance) commissioner and Health Insurance Exchange administration and a health benefits advisory committee in addition to current (and improved) public benefit coordinators CMMS, IRS. TITLE I--IMPROVING HEALTH CARE VALUE provisions constitute a sweeping endorsement of Mr Steele's claim, "government boards" decide how treatments are funded.

Third, we need to outlaw any effort to ration health care based on age. Obama has promoted a program of "comparative effectiveness research" that he claims will be used only to study competing medical treatments....

Fourth, we need to prevent government from dictating the terms of end-of-life care. Many of the most significant costs of care come in the last six months of a patient's life, and every American household must consider how to treat their loved ones. Obama's government-run health "reform" would pay for seniors' meetings with a doctor to discuss end-of-life care.

compulsory pre-natal deliberation good, compulsory post-natal deliberation bad. In either case, that cost would be no barrier to sanctity of life is the unstated assumption of both actuaries and fundamentalists.

Finally, we need to protect our veterans by preserving Tricare and other benefit programs for military families.

Ironically, Tricare coverage of and healthcare delivery to active-duty military is a textbook managed-care business, combining pre-paid and HMO features controls.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 05:49:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:11:36 PM EST
Independent: Disaster looming for Kenya

The 60-year-old farm labourer stands in the midst of an ecological rape scene: scorched earth scattered with the burnt stumps of centuries-old trees. He is one of thousands of Kenyans who have settled inside this supposedly protected forest that stretches from the Mau escarpment down to the Maasai plains and up to the central highlands.

The largest forest in East Africa acts as a water tower for an otherwise arid land, feeding its lakes and rivers, regulating the climate and refreshing its underground acquifers. But an epic drought has plunged Kenya into an ecological crisis and its dried up rivers can no longer turn the blades of the hydro-electric turbines. Power rationing is switching off the lights in the capital Nairobi for days at a time.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:26:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Fifth of UK honeybee colonies died last winter

Nearly a fifth of the UK's honeybee colonies died last winter, figures from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) revealed today.

The figure is an improvement on the previous year when almost a third of hives did not make it through the winter, but is double "acceptable" levels, the BBKA's president Tim Lovett warned.

Across the country an average of 19.2% of colonies died over winter, with the highest losses in the north of England, where 32.1% perished, and the lowest in the east of England, where just 12.8% did not survive.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:45:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: China powers ahead as it seizes the green energy crown from Europe

Suntech Power in Wuxi has just broken the world record for capturing photovoltaic solar energy, achieving a 15.6pc conversion rate with a commercial-grade module.

Trina Solar is neck-and-neck with America's First Solar, the low-cost star that has already broken the cost barrier of $1 (61p) per watt with thin film based on cadmium telluride.

The Chinese trio of Suntech, Trina and Yingling all expect to be below 70 cents per watt by 2012, bringing the magical goal of "grid parity" with fossil fuels into grasp.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:03:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China Outdoes U.S. in Making Solar Products - NYTimes.com

WUXI, China -- President Obama wants to make the United States "the world's leading exporter of renewable energy," but in his seven months in office, it is China that has stepped on the gas in an effort to become the dominant player in green energy -- especially in solar power, and even in the United States.

Chinese companies have already played a leading role in pushing down the price of solar panels by almost half over the last year. Shi Zhengrong, the chief executive and founder of China's biggest solar panel manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings, said in an interview here that Suntech, to build market share, is selling solar panels on the American market for less than the cost of the materials, assembly and shipping.

Backed by lavish government support, the Chinese are preparing to build plants to assemble their products in the United States to bypass protectionist legislation. As Japanese automakers did decades ago, Chinese solar companies are encouraging their United States executives to join industry trade groups to tamp down anti-Chinese sentiment before it takes root.

The Obama administration is determined to help the American industry. The energy and Treasury departments announced this month that they would give $2.3 billion in tax credits to clean energy equipment manufacturers. But even in the solar industry, many worry that Western companies may have fragile prospects when competing with Chinese companies that have cheap loans, electricity and labor, paying recent college graduates in engineering $7,000 a year. <...>

Suntech, based here in Wuxi, is on track this year to pass Q-Cells of Germany, to become the world's second-largest supplier of photovoltaic cells, which would put it behind only First Solar in Tempe, Ariz. ...



The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:52:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Blocked rivers threaten livelihood of Brazilian tribes

Once they were threatened by wildcat gold-miners and a measles epidemic that slashed their population to just 56. But now the Ikpeng, a proud tribe of Amazon warriors, say a new catastrophe looms over their future: the damming of the rivers they depend upon for food.

Across Brazil alarm bells are ringing over plans to build at least 229 small hydroelectric dams, known as PCHs, which the government hopes will generate electricity and drive economic development.

Opponents say they will damage the environment and destroy the livelihoods of thousands of Brazilian tribespeople.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eskom says SA needs 'at least' 40 new coal mines - Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source
South Africa needs at least 40 new coal mines to prevent shortages over the long term, Eskom operations head Brian Dames said in an interview published on Tuesday.

"While Eskom's demand for coal in the past few years has been increasing by 5% per year, coal production in South Africa has remained constant," Dames told Sake24.

"That is why it has become so difficult for Eskom to get coal cheaply. The demand is higher than the supply. In the next 10 years, big investments would have to be done in coal mines. South Africa needs at least 40 new coal mines," said Dames, adding that the investment could cost up to R40-billion.

Dames said further investment was required in the logistics behind transporting coal.

"Great volumes of coal have to be transported by road because there is no alternative. If the trucks stop running, there will be no more power. It is as simple as that," he warned.

Coal sources are far from coal power stations, exacerbating the problem.

Dames said the future of South Africa's coal supply was in the Waterberg in Limpopo, but currently there was not sufficient infrastructure to transport coal from the Waterberg to other provinces.

Old news, but important to underline what sort of thinking remains dominant in SA on energy.

Now add Peak Oil to this, and wait for disaster...

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad: Now add Peak Oil to this, and wait for disaster...

A letter to the editor of the New York Times may be in order for this:

Op-Ed Contributor - `Peak Oil' Is a Waste of Energy - NYTimes.com

... Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material. But because the news media and prominent figures like James Schlesinger, a former secretary of energy, and the oilman T. Boone Pickens have taken peak oil seriously, the public is understandably alarmed.

A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum. And this has been demonstrated over and over again: the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil first claimed in 1989 that the peak had already been reached, and Mr. Schlesinger argued a decade earlier that production was unlikely to ever go much higher. ...

Michael Lynch, the former director for Asian energy and security at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is an energy consultant.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 25, 2009, on page A21 of the New York edition.



The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GE Energy purchased Norway's Scanwind, a maker of direct-drive large turbines for the coastal and offshore markets.   (Story here)

Video here


The Right Time

The acquisition can therefore be viewed as a clever move at perhaps the right time. As a key advantage it immediately provides GE Energy with proven state-of-the-art 3.5-MW class (rotor diameter 90.6 meters) direct-drive wind technology specifically developed for coastal onshore and offshore deployment. ScanWind has an operational track record of over six-years with a 3-MW prototype to draw upon, supplemented by operational experiences with three more prototypes and eleven upgraded serial installations.

Interestingly, offshore wind market leader Siemens Wind Power of Germany currently dominates the market with a 3.6-MW geared turbine. In addition, in 2008 the company erected two of its new 3.6-MW direct drive Concept turbines for prolonged testing and analysis.

ScanWind's pitch-controlled variable speed 3-MW prototype featuring a direct-drive permanent magnet Siemens generator was erected during March 2003 in Nærøy on the windy Norwegian coast. A second demonstration unit was erected during the autumn of 2004. This variable speed 3-MW turbine concept is equipped with a multi-speed variation gearbox and fixed speed generator that enables direct grid connection and eliminates an otherwise required electronic power converter.

I'm in shock that the purchase price is € 18.2M, which seems really low... although without knowing how the deal is structured i'm not really in a position to judge.  But this action will help the offshore projects waiting for turbine agreements, as all players will be likely to step up their game.  Oder?

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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:56:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And here's some fun offshore video on the world's first floating multi-megawatt turbine.



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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:12:06 PM EST
Guardian: World Trade Centre's 'final column' returned to Ground Zero in New York

Seven years after the last steel column was removed from Ground Zero in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the huge 36-foot (10.9-metre) beam was returned to the site today as the central element of the museum that will be built around it.

The 58-tonne beam, dubbed the "final column" has been carefully preserved in a storage hangar at New York's Kennedy airport since May 2002 when it was cut from the foundations of the south tower of the World Trade Centre, draped in the American flag and taken away. The column was iconic not just because it was the last major component of the towers to be cleared from the site, but because it had come to be used as a place of commemoration for families of victims and rescue workers.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:23:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: Vegan prisoners win right to 'cruelty free' products in jail

Vegan prisoners have won the right to order ethically-sourced food, toiletries and cosmetics in jail.

After a 15-year-campaign by the Vegan Prisoners Support Group (VPSG) the Prison Service has now allowed them to order ethical food and toiletries by mail order if there are none in their prison shop.
by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: The magical mystical tour: Why are the relics of St Thérèse such a holy hit?

One afternoon in a few weeks' time a train will pull into the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone, and a hearse containing an unusually ornate coffin will drive carefully on to the platform to meet it.

So begins the extraordinary - some think bizarre - phenomenon of a long-dead, sainted nun on tour. Because for four weeks from 16 September, Thérèse's hearse will criss-cross Britain, travelling from Portsmouth to Plymouth, from Manchester to Middlesbrough, from Leeds to Lancaster. At each venue - and there are 22 in all, including Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London - there will be services, and opportunities for both believers and the merely curious to pay their respects. It's the first time Thérèse will have been to the UK, but her coffin has certainly seen a bit of the world: her remains have so far toured more than 40 countries including the US, Australia, Iraq, Mexico and Siberia. Immediately before the UK she'll have been in Guyana, and after her British tour she leaves for Tunisia. She's quite probably the world's best-travelled corpse
by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:47:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lightning's Mirror Image ... Only Much Bigger

With a very lucky shot, scientists have captured a one-second image and the electrical fingerprint of huge lightning that flowed 40 miles upward from the top of a storm.

These rarely seen, highly charged meteorological events are known as gigantic jets, and they flash up to the lower levels of space, or ionosphere.

While they don't occur every time there is lightning, they are substantially larger than their downward striking cousins.

"Despite poor viewing conditions as a result of a full moon and a hazy atmosphere, we were able to clearly capture the gigantic jet," said study leader Steven Cummer, an electrical and computer engineer at Duke University in North Carolina.


by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:21:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
METRICS - For the Unemployed, the Day Stacks Up Differently - NYTimes.com

Sunday Business analyzed new data from the American Time Use Survey to compare the 2008 weekday activities of the employed and unemployed. The comparison may seem obvious, but differences in time spent by these two groups can be striking.

On an average weekday, the unemployed sleep an hour more than their employed peers. They tidy the house, do laundry and yard work for more than two hours, twice as much as the employed. The unemployed also spend an extra hour in the classroom and an additional 70 minutes in front of the television.

The annual time use survey, which asks thousands of residents to recall every minute of a single day, is important to economists trying to value the time spent by those not bringing home a paycheck.

"If all we were doing is substituting production at home for production in the marketplace," said Daniel S. Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, "then maybe unemployment wouldn't be so bad."

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:23:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dollar by Dollar, Patrons Find Artists on the Web - NYTimes.com
Earl Scioneaux III is not a famous music producer like Quincy Jones. He is a simple audio engineer in New Orleans who mixes live albums of local jazz musicians by day and creates electronic music by night. He had long wanted to pursue his dream of making his own album that married jazz and electronica, but he had no easy way to raise the $4,000 he needed for production.

Then he heard about Kickstarter, a start-up based in Brooklyn that uses the Web to match aspiring da Vincis and Spielbergs with mini-Medicis who are willing to chip in a few dollars toward their projects. Unlike similar sites that simply solicit donations, patrons on Kickstarter get an insider's access to the projects they finance, and in most cases, some tangible memento of their contribution. The artists and inventors, meanwhile, are able to gauge in real time the commercial appeal of their ideas before they invest a lot of effort -- and cash.

"It's not an investment, lending or a charity," said Perry Chen, a co-founder of Kickstarter and a friend of Mr. Scioneaux. "It's something else in the middle: a sustainable marketplace where people exchange goods for services or some other benefit and receive some value."

Mr. Scioneaux, who ultimately raised $4,100, offered a range of rewards to his supporters: for a $15 payment, patrons received an advance copy of the album; for $30, they got a personal music lesson as well. A payment of $50 or more got both of those, and a seat at Mr. Scioneaux's dinner table for a bowl of his homemade gumbo and a chance to listen to some of his studio recordings. "I didn't expect people to be all over that one," he said, "but it sold out almost immediately." ...



The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia Will Limit Changes on Articles About Living People - NYTimes.com

Officials at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit in San Francisco that governs Wikipedia, say that within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people.

The new feature, called "flagged revisions," will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved -- or in Wikispeak, flagged -- it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia's servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.

The change is part of a growing realization on the part of Wikipedia's leaders that as the site grows more influential, they must transform its embrace-the-chaos culture into something more mature and dependable.



The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 12:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A world cup that's not just a game | Presseurop

The 7th edition of the Homeless World Cup will be held in Milan this year, hosting 48 teams from all over the world. The initiative is not about dwelling on their misery, but giving homeless and badly housed kids a shot at a job and a roof over their heads. And it works, says Evenimentul Zilei.

This 6 September, in Milan, six young Romanians selected from adoption centres, orphanages and the street will vie to rank among the best homeless footballers in the world. The street ball matches will be short -14 minutes apiece - and on a shoestring budget: each player gets €1,000. The hardest part is persuading them not to spend it all on "aurolac" (the glue some homeless children sniff) or alcohol.

This September's will be the 7th edition of the Homeless World Cup. The event brings children from all over the world together and gives them an opportunity to forget their old ways, land a job and go to school. And play football. For the Romanian kids, with the championship came the discovery of their very first chocolate bars, instead of the blows they have been taking all their lives. It is a sweet - but shortlived - sensation: one of the rules of the competition is that each player only gets to play one round.

by Fran on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The event brings children from all over the world together and gives them an opportunity to forget their old ways, land a job and go to school.
Yeah, because we all know homelessness is the result of evil ways.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:39:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:12:33 PM EST
BBC: UK tourist trapped in French hall

A British tourist has spent a night trapped in a French town hall after mistakenly thinking she could book a room at the "hotel de ville".

The hapless female visitor arrived in the Alsace town of Dannemarie on Friday and tried to find a bed for the night.

Spotting the impressive-looking "hotel de ville", the tourist popped in to use the toilet before trying to check in.

But as she was in the convenience, officials finished a meeting, left the town hall and locked its door.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:17:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Timesonline: Report claims Madoff is 'dying of cancer'

US authorities are seeking permission to disclose Bernard Madoff's medical details after a newspaper reported that the jailed fraudster is dying of cancer.

A spokesman for the US Bureau of Prisons said it was waiting for Madoff's permission to disclose his medical information following a report in The New York Post claiming that he does not have long to live.

The spokesman declined to comment on Madoff's medical condition, but said the New York Post story was "inaccurate" without giving further clarification.

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 02:29:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope it's a long slow painful death. I'll even allow him compassionate release a month before the end.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 05:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trying to cash in on the Lockerbie bomber release?

Or trying to pull a Kenny Boy?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 07:06:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe an Ernest Saunders?

He remains the only man ever to have recovered from Alzheimer's.

by Sassafras on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 01:59:41 AM EST
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Guardian: Italian PM's wife speaks out over divorce from 'ridiculous' Berlusconi

Veronica Lario, the estranged wife of Silvio Berlusconi, has broken the silence she has kept since asking the Italian prime minister for a divorce, claiming he lied to her about his life and was becoming a "ridiculous figure before the world", thanks to the sex scandal engulfing him.

Lario, 53, is quoted in a new book, Tendenza Veronica, which reveals the thinking behind her decision to divorce Berlusconi at the end of April, after learning he had attended the 18th birthday party of aspiring actress Noemi Letizia.

Lario, herself a former actress, said at the time she could not be with a man who "frequented minors".

by Sassafras on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 03:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nrc.nl - International - Court to rule if 13-year-old can sail the world alone
Is it okay for a 13-year-old girl to sail around the world on her own? The juvenile court in Utrecht is due to decide. Laura Dekker's parents have given her permission to go, because it's her dream. The Dutch child protection agency says this is irresponsible and has taken them to court. Experts advise against her trip.

Laura Dekker has already done plenty of solo sailing on the open seas. Her parents are fanatical yachts-people and have taught her a great deal, including what it's like to be alone on the ocean.

Laura told the children's news show Jeugdjournaal: "My parents always knew it was a dream of mine to do this. And I want to do it while I'm still young, so I can break the record."

'Suspend parental custody'

The case has attracted a great deal of attention in recent weeks and has provoked discussion among Dutch people. 13-year-old Laura is determined to go on the solo voyage and break the existing world record, which is held by a 17-year-old American. She means to set sail on September 1. She plans to do her schoolwork using internet and email. However, deputy education minister Marja van Bijsterveld has already made it clear that this contravenes the compulsory education act that says everyone under 16 needs to be in school in the Netherlands.

by Nomad on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:08:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
north korean army

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 04:41:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senior UBS Official, Key Donor Shares Some of Obama's Down Time | 44 | washingtonpost.com

MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. -- One of President Obama's golfing buddies Monday was a top donor to his campaign and the president of a bank at the center of a U.S. investigation into illegal tax shelters.

Robert Wolf, the president of UBS Americas, a Swiss-based bank, joined Obama at the elite, and difficult, Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. Deputy press secretary Bill Burton described the two men as "friends."

According to news reports, Wolf and Obama met late in 2006 as the then-Illinois senator was about to launch his presidential bid. Wolf raised more than $250,000 for Obama's presidential bid, according to a Post report last year.

But Wolf's firm was caught up last year in a Senate probe of financial firms that attempted to shield millions of dollars in offshore accounts from U.S. taxes.

by Fran on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:30:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having zero interest in golf, I've just Googled something remarkable.

All courses charge green fees for a round. The fees for Farm Neck are $145. For one round.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:52:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Old Course in St. Andrews charges 130 pounds per round. But I presume there is (or was) some special deal for locals: we had a cleaning woman whose husband played there twice a week.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:28:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Truffle doctor's dream comes true

Truffles, rare fungi that grow inside the soil, can thrive in the Finnish climate, but proving this has been quite difficult. When the first ones survived the winter, attached to the roots of an oak tree in 2007, one of Shamekh's dreams came true.
      "Then I shouted at the top of my lungs, and ran up and down the fields."


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 02:52:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll see who they call the Truffle Doctor once I domesticate these little darlings.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Political Pictures



'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 Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

On return from Delhi I was reading biography of Mayawati, "Behenji" by Ajay Bose. Mayawati is the charismatic Dalit (former untouchable) politician, she is ruling the largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh with population of more than 160 mln.

It's fascinating book, very objective and insightful. For example I would never know not only about her humble background (she is the eldest daughter of lowly clerk in Delhi and illeterate woman, she has one sister and 6 brothers) but also colorful details of her political career, which for the most part is hidden because it's articulated only in local vernacular press. For example Mr Bose describes in details how Mayawati started waging war against media, and Hindi-speaking media in particular.

Another insight - she buried her mentor Kanshi Ram according to Buddhist rituals despite neither he nor she never considered conversion. This decision she delays till the time she captures power in Delhi. By her words even Ashoka could not propagate Buddhism effectively if he was not emperor. The question is whether she cherish dream of emulating great Indian emperors of the past. I think so. At least it is evident in her grandiouse buildings like Ambedkar memorial in Lucknow which is depicted above and also erecting everywhere her own statues with ubiquitous Armani handbag.

She will definitely try to drag hapless billions of Indians into Buddhist fold. Why? Because she can.  

by FarEasterner on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 10:46:06 AM EST
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