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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 6 October

by Fran Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 02:00:18 PM EST

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Europeans on this date in history:

1914 – Birth of Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a scientific background in zoology and geography. Heyerdahl became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed 4,300 miles (8,000 km) by raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. (d. 2002)

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by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:37:48 PM EST
34995 Signatures
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Blair under attack in bid for EU top job
EU capitals have begun a high stakes game for the new power jobs

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Eurogroup chief Jean Claude Juncker and the British Conservative party have attacked Tony Blair's bid to become the first EU president, as member states start horse-trading for the EU's top jobs after Ireland's Lisbon Treaty vote.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen on Sunday (4 October) openly backed former British premier Mr Blair to take up the prestigious post once the treaty comes into force. "I've certainly the highest regard for Tony Blair and obviously we await and see if, in fact, he's a candidate, but you can take it that we'd be very supportive yes," he said.

Mr Cowen is the first EU leader to make a public statement on the issue. But Mr Blair is also said to have the support of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The British Conservatives over the weekend launched a counter-offensive, however, with Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker, himself once floated as a potential candidate, also sticking in the knife.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:45:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Blair under attack in bid for EU top job

Jean Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the head of the Eurogroup, the 16 EU states which use the euro, also came out against the former British leader.

The interests of small EU states would be threatened if the the first EU president came from a "big member state," he told Financial Times Deutschland.

The first EU president should have strong pro-EU credentials, so that it wouldn't be "a surprise" if he was himself appointed as "Europe's first voice," Mr Juncker added, alluding to the fact Mr Blair did little to bring the UK closer to Europe on issues such as the single currency.

Snubbed by Mr Sarkozy for having allegedly done too little during the financial crisis, Mr Juncker's own bid for the EU top job is unlikely to fly, however.

Even within Conservative circles, there is a feeling that Mr Blair is "too big to fail" and that he would not have let his name have go forward unless he had assurances to secure the post.

Meanwhile, another potential candidate for the president post, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, is out of the running after Dutch European minister Frans Timmermans said on Sunday The Hague will not put forward a nominee.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:33:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Europe does get a president, it definitely won't be Tony Blair - Telegraph
Boris Johnson wagers - a fiver - that the former PM will not be granted his dream of ruling 500m people.

A spectre is haunting Europe , my friends. That spectre has a famously toothy grin and an eye of glistering sincerity and an almost diabolical gift of political self-reinvention. Barely two years after he stood down as prime minister, it seems that Tony Blair is about to thrust himself back into our lives. It turns out that he is not content merely to be in charge of brokering peace in the Middle East - which you would have thought was a full-time job for anyone. It isn't enough to potter around the world making speeches about climate change and Africa. He wants more, much more, than to consecrate his remaining days to the promotion of inter-faith dialogue and school sport.

With his colossal mortgages in Buckinghamshire and London's Connaught Square, you might have thought he needed to stick firmly on the after-dinner circuit. You might have thought that the Blair finances oblige him to keep making boss-eyed speeches to armies of tuxedoed Arizona neo-cons about the importance of the special relationship and beating up Saddam Hussein. Well, not any more, it seems. Blair has evidently piled up such a fortune that he is ready for one more big public job, and we now discover that his extinction as prime minister was only the prelude for his re-emergence - like some wizard in The Lord of the Rings - in a guise more powerful than we can possibly imagine.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:46:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France and Germany make early moves for Europe's foreign minister - Times Online

France and Germany have begun jockeying for the top slots in the new-look Brussels, with each aiming to land the powerful new post of Europe's foreign minister.

The "High Representative" for foreign and security policy is expected to have more clout than the new permanent president and is almost certain to come from the opposite political camp.

French and German officials have begun consultations for a common stand on the new posts created by the Lisbon treaty. President Sarkozy wants decisions on personnel to be made at this month's European summit, but Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is still negotiating a new coalition Government with her Free Democrat partners and wants more time.

Since Tony Blair is the favourite to become president, although his lead is narrow, France and Germany believe that they should have first say over the foreign policy appointment.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boris Johnson denies party split over `stop Tony Blair' referendum - Times Online

David Cameron rejected calls to promise a referendum on the Lisbon treaty even if it had been ratified, as he struggled yesterday to maintain a united front on the issue.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, denied that there was a rift between him and Mr Cameron after he had appeared to demand a referendum come what may, to prevent the prospect of Tony Blair becoming president of Europe. Eric Pickles, the Conservative Party chairman, spoke with surprising confidence of Britain being able to hold a referendum because the treaty would not have been ratified before the general election. He suggested that the Czech Republic would not ratify for several months.

After Saturday's "yes" vote in the Irish referendum on the treaty, the Tory leader was under pressure to explain what he would do if it had been implemented by the time a Conservative government came to power.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:47:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I explained, Boris is semi-detached and so can float ideas as trial balloons that are unlikely to rebound on the tory party if they get a bad reception.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now 35000
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:50:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See also European Tribune - Tony Blair is unsuitable
The "debate" rages on in the UK press about the possibility of Tony Blair becoming the first president of the European Council. After the initial barrage of articles about the inevitability of his nomination, the new fuss is being kicked up by the Tories, who may see it as a way to avoid the more embarrassing discussion on whether to re-open the debate on the Lisbon Treaty itself (with calls from their base for for a referendum on the Treaty to be organised). London mayor Boris Johnson has an article claiming he won't get selected because he would be too good for Europe, and thus that the alternative will not be good enough for Britain, and thus a referendum is needed...(see quote below the fold)
here on ET.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
News Analysis - After Vote, Debate Shifts to New European Leader - NYTimes.com
LONDON -- Ireland's vote to ratify the European Union's Lisbon Treaty has finally cleared the way for the creation of a powerful new president, intended to elevate the 27-nation bloc's standing on the global stage.

But do European leaders actually want one?

Ahead lies a difficult discussion about how much power and influence a new European Union president should have and whether the post should fall to a political star -- like former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain -- or one of his grayer, more technocratic rivals.

The leaders of member countries will decide, probably this month, and their decision could determine whether the union really seeks the bigger role it says it needs to try to match the influence of the United States and that of rising powers like China, Russia, India and Brazil.

The Lisbon Treaty, which aims to streamline decision-making and reform the bloc's ramshackle structures, lays down a two-and-a-half-year term for a full-time president of the European Council, the body that represents member nations. The treaty, if finally ratified by the Poles and Czechs, also mandates a single new foreign affairs chief, in charge of both policy and aid money, and a new European diplomatic corps.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:57:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / UK - Blair looms large in running for EU president

Tony Blair, former British prime minister, was the name on everyone's lips yesterday as European Union leaders contemplated the choice of the bloc's first full-time president.

According to EU diplomats and officials, Mr Blair is far from assured of the job, not least because he cannot yet count on the support of Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, or the leaders of several smaller EU countries.

But Mr Blair is increasingly looking like the frontrunner in a race in which no one, officially, is a candidate. "Blair is the name out there," said one diplomat.

...

Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, told members of the European parliament in Stockholm yesterday he expected that the president would not be chosen until December.

But some diplomats in Brussels said the decision could come sooner if political and legal difficulties in the Czech Republic, the last significant obstacle on the road to Lisbon, were overcome quickly. They said the 27-member EU was working on the basis it might be possible to pick the president at a Brussels summit on October 29-30.

Apart from Mr Blair, the most frequently mentioned names are those of Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, and Paavo Lipponen, Finland's former premier.

Others, such as Felipe González, the former Spanish prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's premier, and Wolfgang Schüssel, Austria's former chancellor, are cropping up less often in political gossip than they have before.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 01:44:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
7s7 Monde - Le Benelux n'exclut pas Blair de la présidence du Conseil européen (1010601)Benelux countries do not exclude the possibility of Blair as president of the European Council.
Les trois pays du Benelux ont présenté lundi une note conjointe sur la réforme de l'UE après l'entrée en vigueur du traité de Lisbonne. Minutieusement préparé, le document n'exclut pas qu'un Britannique devienne président du Conseil européen et ne barre donc pas la route à Tony Blair.The three Benelux countries published a joint note on Monday on the reform of the EU after the application of the treaty of Lisbon. Thoroughly prepared, the document does not exclude that a British national might become president of the European Council, and therefore does not block the road to Tony Blair.
Le précédent ministre belge des Affaires étrangères, Karel De Gucht, avait pourtant publiquement exprimé son opposition à une candidature de M. Blair il y a moins de deux ans. "Il me semble logique que l'Etat d'où est originaire la future figure de proue de l'Europe applique l'intégralité de l'acquis communautaire", avait-il déclaré lors d'un discours prononcé le 1er avril 2008 à Lisbonne. Un tel critère aurait écarté les ressortissants de tous les pays hors zone euro et hors espace Schengen. Previously, less than two years ago, the Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs, Karel De Gucht, had however publicly expressed his opposition to a candidacy of Mr Blair . " It seems to me logical that the home State of the future European figurehead should be one that applies the full acquis communautaire," he declared on April 1st, 2008, in a speech in Lisbon. This criterion would have excluded the nationals of all countries outside the euro area and the Schengen area.
La note du Benelux présentée lundi, au lendemain du vote irlandais sur le traité de Lisbonne, ne reprend pas le critère. Le président du Conseil européen devra simplement avoir "démontré son engagement européen et (avoir) développé une vision sur l'ensemble des politique de l'Union", selon le texte. The Benelux note presented on Monday, just after the Irish vote on the treaty of Lisbon, does not reiterate the criterion. The European head of government will have to simply " have shown his European commitment and developed a vision on the whole policy of the Union ", according to the text.
Interrogé sur cet apparent revirement, des diplomates belges en ont minimisé la portée, en soulignant que la note n'avait pas pour vocation d'exclure tel ou tel candidat, mais de préciser les contours de l'UE post-Lisbonne. Questioned about this apparent turnaround, Belgian diplomats minimized its scope, emphasizing that the note didn't intend to exclude this or that candidate, but to specify the outlines of the post-Lisbon EU.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 02:48:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair's rebirth as a player in European politics not a done deal - The Irish Times - Tue, Oct 06, 2009

cooler heads in Brussels suggest his elevation to the €280,000 per year job is far from a done deal.

"Several smaller member states are nervous about giving the job to such a big personality and media star as Blair. His name might also be out there too early," said one senior EU official yesterday, who did not want to be named.

Everyone in Brussels remembers the failed campaign to get former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt installed as president of the European Commission in 2004. Britain eventually vetoed his appointment after months of intense media speculation that he was front runner for the job.

Under the Lisbon Treaty it is envisaged that the new European Council president would chair meetings, co-ordinate work and represent the EU internationally. But the exact parameters of the job have not been agreed, leaving it up to the first personality to define the post. This has prompted concern among smaller EU states, such as Sweden, that a charismatic figure could undermine the two existing high-profile EU jobs - commission president and the EU foreign affairs chief.

Blair will also have to overcome doubts among some of the most pro-European states, which believe a European Council president must come from a state that is fully engaged with the union. Britain has opted out of core EU policies such as the Schengen travel area, key justice legislation and, importantly, the euro zone.

Then, of course, there is the Iraq war. Blair's decision to support George Bush deeply divided Europe in 2003, a point that has not been forgotten in EU institutions, particularly the European Parliament. A decision to appoint him to the post of president of Europe would enrage segments of public opinion.

There is already an online petition at www.stopblair.eu to protest against a potential Blair presidency.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 10:07:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy favours Blair to lead EU, understands doubters | World | Reuters

ROME (Reuters) - Italy favours Britain's Tony Blair to be European Union president but understands the reservations of some other countries based on Britain's reluctance to join the euro or the Schengen open-border zone, an Italian minister said.

"We have expressed our appreciation for Tony Blair, knowing however that there is a bloc of countries with concerns about him," Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 10:08:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After Irish backing, reform treaty faces hurdles in eastern Europe | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 04.10.2009
Having secured Ireland's support for the Lisbon reform treaty, the European Union now faces the tough job of convincing the accord's most vocal opponents, the Czech Republic and Poland, to vote for it. 

Relieved EU leaders have hailed Ireland's vote to accept the Lisbon reform treaty, but almost immediately attention has turned to the last two nations holding up efforts to streamline the European Union decision-making process.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, over the weekend, called for new pressure on the obstinate leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic, Presidents Lech Kaczynski and Vaclav Klaus.

"France wants the states, which have not yet done so, to finish the ratification process as quickly as possible, so that the Lisbon Treaty can be implemented before the end of the year," Sarkozy said in a statement.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:47:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tories may offer voters a 'consultation' on EU instead of referendum | Politics | guardian.co.uk
As Conservatives indicate they will not hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, Boris Johnson suggests the party could find other ways of consulting voters

Boris Johnson today suggested the Tories could offer voters a "consultation" on relations with Europe after it emerged that David Cameron is to rule out a referendum on the Lisbon treaty if the measure is ratified by all 27 members of the EU before next year's general election in Britain.

Amid signs the measure will enter EU law by the end of the year - as the Czech Republic and Poland indicated over the weekend they will fall into line - Tory sources told the Guardian yesterday that Cameron will not try to unpick the treaty's main reforms.

In a move to assuage Eurosceptic anger inside and outside his party, Cameron will instead launch a campaign to repatriate powers which the Tories believe should be held at a national level. Party sources say Cameron is planning to

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:57:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Glimmer of doubt over Polish ratification of Lisbon Treaty

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A senior aide of Polish President Lech Kaczynski has indicated that he will delay signature of the Lisbon Treaty, amid calls from his party to use the pact for political leverage.

The president's chief of staff, Wladyslaw Stasiak, in an interview on Polish national radio on Monday (5 October) said Mr Kaczynski is in no hurry to sign.

Lech Kaczynski (r) - his aides want him to use Lisbon for political advantage

He linked the ratification to Mr Kaczynski's proposals to give the Polish parliament oversight powers over the Polish government in its dealings with Brussels, along the lines of recent reforms in Germany.

"You should only make haste, as they used to say, when catching fleas," Mr Stasiak joked. "It worked out very well in Germany, and we've talked about this for a long time in Poland as well, so it would worthwhile to do it."

A member of Mr Kaczynki's Law and Justice party, Zbigniew Girzynski, in a separate interview for Newsweek magazine said he should hold out for extra EU funds and a powerful European Commission portfolio for Poland.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:59:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, Kaczynski has his own demons to play with. It might make for an interesting time if he delays past February.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:52:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Three men and a treaty | Presseurop

Approved by the Irish people on 2 October, the Lisbon Treaty still has to secure the support of a trio of European leaders before it enters into force. But Václav Klaus, Lech Kaczyński and David Cameron may raise the stakes for the beleaguered accord.

On 2 October, 67% of Irish voters voiced their approval for the Lisbon Treaty, but implementation of the agreement remains contingent on the endorsement of three national politicians: Czech President Václav Klaus, his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczyński and the leader of the British Conservatives - and probable future Prime Minister of the UK - David Cameron.

In Prague, Lidové Noviny leads with the headline "Klaus stymies Europe." The Czech President has refused to sign the treaty, which was approved by the Czech parliament several months ago, and is now waiting on a Constitutional Court decision before he determines his next move. Writing in the columns of Lidové Noviny, Zbyněk Petráček ironically notes that the referendum result will be "a victory for Klaus," who has been anticipating a change of heart in Ireland for quite some time. "The destiny of this treaty that will affect a community of 500 million Europeans is now in his hands. People all over the world in cities as far apart as New York and Moscow will be forced to listen to him. He will no longer pass for the oddball representative of a small country whose sole distinction is his refusal to acknowledge anthropogenic climate change. Now, he is going to command respect."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:27:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / [Comment] German-British rapprochement would mean dark days for Europe

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT - It is a fact long lamented by those two endangered species, British Germanophiles and German Anglophiles: apart from a few pockets of intense co-operation, such as in justice and home affairs, the potential of a German-British partnership has seldom been exploited in European policy. The political impetus to be generated by the German and UK heads of government moving together in elegant tandem has not been realised.

Germany's Angela Merkel: An ad hoc, blocking coalition could spell trouble

In the past decade, commentators have identified considerable potential for fruitful co-operation. Britain has become less reflexive in its euroscepticism, Germany less ideological in its pro-Europeanism. And yet efforts to hold regular bilateral summits or to improve co-operation across a fuller range of EU affairs have fallen flat.

Against this depressing background, a change of government in either country usually appears as the dawn of a rapprochement. And it is invariably a false dawn.

In 1998, Gerhard Schroeder and Tony Blair, joined in progressive zeal, were set to realise a common European agenda. The initial euphoria did not last. A decade later, Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel were expected to deliver a well needed dose of pragmatism to the EU. Again, these expectations were short lived.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:48:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coalition Talks Begin: Merkel Sets Tone of New German Government - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

As coalition talks begin for Germany's new government, Chancellor Angela Merkel is already setting the agenda. She is opposing demands by her junior coalition partner, the business-friendly FDP, for labor market and welfare reforms. The new administration is going to look a lot like the old one -- both in policies and personnel.

From the eighth floor of the Chancellery in Berlin, visitors have a spectacular view of the German capital, including the green expanse of Tiergarten Park to the south and the glass dome of the Reichstag building to the east.

Shortly before the German general election on Sept. 27, the heads of Germany's trade unions enjoyed this impressive view when Chancellor Angela Merkel invited Michael Sommer, the president of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), and other union leaders to her offices for a closed-door meeting.

Merkel showered her guests with compliments and words of praise. Germany's economic stimulus packages, the government-subsidized short-time working program and the cash-for-clunkers scrapping premium had only become a "success story" with the help of labor leaders, Merkel said enthusiastically. She voiced her appreciation for their support by assuring her guests that, if she were reelected, there would neither be a weakening of employment protection legislation nor a rolling back of minimum wages or workers' right to a say in how their company is managed. She added that she looked forward to more regular get-togethers in the future, setting the next meeting for October, immediately following the election.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:50:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany's Atomic Energy Phase-Out: Nuclear Poker Heats Up in Berlin - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

It seems a foregone conclusion that Berlin will back away from the nuclear energy phase-out legislated in 2002. But with power companies set to profit handsomely, the bluffing has begun.

With the best election-day result in their history behind them, Germany's business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) promised tough negotiations as coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives begin on Monday.

But another set of negotiations on the horizon promises to be even tougher. Both the FDP and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) have expressed a desire to revisit a 2002 law which calls for Germany's nuclear reactors to be taken offline by the beginning of the 2020s. The new government would like to extend the deadline, a move that could generate as much as €60 billion in extra profits for Germany's three largest energy companies.

The question, though, is what E.on, RWE and EnBW will offer in return. Indeed, politicians from both parties over the weekend seemed eager to counter concerns that Germany's energy branch was in for a huge windfall. Andreas Pinkwart, a leading FDP politician, even said that his party could imagine backing away from an extension of reactor lifetimes.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:51:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Volker Kauder, CDU floor leader in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, also reiterated demands for the energy companies to forego much of the additional profit that could fall to them. He told the German public television station ARD on Sunday that up to €50 billion could be generated for the promotion of renewable energies.

Both were referring to preliminary plans that would see Germany's energy giants paying billions into an alternative energy fund should reactor lifetimes be extended.

If the deal would be along the lines of extending existing nuclear facilities, compromised with not building new ones, while shutting down coal plants and investing in renewables, that'd be just fine for me.

by Nomad on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 03:45:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a growing possibility that if the renewable fund deal is large enough, and includes aggressive targets for shutting down the coal industry, i might just be persuaded to climb aboard.

However, devil meet details.

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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of the shutdown of our Barsebäck plant, which created unneccesary costs for the state of about 2 billion euros. I always growl and ask any green I can find if they know how many windmills we could have bought for 2 billion euros...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 01:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guest Editorial: Germany Must Redefine Its Relations with the US - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Guido Westerwelle will likely become the country's next foreign minister. But what sort of policies would he pursue? Margerita Mathiopoulos and Werner Hoyer, both foreign policy advisors to Westerwelle, say that Germany must refocus on the trans-Atlantic relationship.

It was an impressive scene. Just over a year ago, in front of Berlin's iconic Victory Column, some 200,000 people enthusiastically welcomed the American applicant for the position of most powerful person on earth: Barack Obama. At the time, Germany and Europe were swept up in a desire for change, one that would become a reality in the US only a few short months later.

At the same day that Obama spoke in Berlin, his foreign policy advisers published a paper that was advertised as a blueprint for his first year in office. And in the first few months of his presidency, Obama has stuck closely to the intellectual groundwork laid by his advisors then. Additionally the protagonists involved in that group, the so-called Phoenix Initiative, have since taken up senior positions in Obama's administration -- most prominently Susan Rice, who was the head of the group and who is now the US ambassador to the United Nations, and strategist Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is now director for policy planning for the US State Department.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Czechs wary of taking Pole position - Hospodářské Noviny/Presseurop

The Czech Republic, like Poland, has yet to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which is being blocked by President Václav Klaus. Hospodářské Noviny deplores the lack of proper debate in Prague, which has left the citizens of the Czech Republic in the dark on an issue that is better understood in neighbouring Poland.

Only the Polish flag flies over the Belweder Palace in the heart of Warsaw, which is where the Polish President welcomes foreign dignitaries -- and no further flags were added last week, when the palace was the venue for a two-day conference, in which Czech civil servants, diplomats and journalists recounted their experience of the European Presidency to their Polish colleagues. The Republic took charge of the EU's rotating Presidency in the first semester of 2009, and Poland will assume the Presidency for the second semester of 2011.

Lech Kaczyński and Václav Klaus, the presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic, are extremely wary of anything bearing an EU label -- and to a certain extent, both men have set the tone for public debate on the European Union in their respective countries, with Václav Klaus being the more outspoken of the two. And it is perhaps for this reason that we have the impression that 20 years after the fall of the communist regime and five years after joining the Union, the concept of the "European Union" is a largely devoid of content.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek socialists win snap poll as voters punish conservatives - Europe, World - The Independent

Greece's Socialists trounced the governing conservatives in a landslide election yesterday with voters, angered by scandals and a faltering economy, ousting the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis halfway through his second term.

Humbled by his New Democracy party's worst electoral performance ever, Mr Karamanlis, 53, resigned as its leader and said a new chief is now needed for the party that was founded by his late uncle, Constantine Karamanlis, 35 years ago.

The Socialist leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, 57, now follows in the footsteps of his father, Andreas Papandreou, and grandfather and namesake George Papandreou, both of whom served several terms as prime minister.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:54:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stricter rules imposed for 'import brides' | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The Dutch government plans to introduce measures to stem the influx of foreign brides and grooms. Would-be marriage migrants will have to be at least 18, and marriages between cousins, aunts and uncles will no longer be allowed.

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin described the new policy on Friday as "strict but fair". "We want to prevent girls being brought to the Netherlands under duress," he said.

Having fallen for years, the number of import marriages rose by 30 percent in the past year to 15,000. "Society is coming under growing pressure," said Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan.

`Import bride' is a term used in connection with marriages between Dutch residents of foreign origin - particularly from Turkey and Morocco, but increasingly also Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia - and people from their respective countries. There are concerns that such marriages are an obstacle to the integration of ethnic minorities into Dutch society.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:55:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Defence Chief resigns over book - Politiken.dk
The head of Denmark's armed forces is resigning in connection with a scandal regarding the Arabic translation of a book about commandos.

Denmark's Defence Chief Adm. Tim Sloth Jørgensen has asked to be relieved of his duties as a result of a scandal involving the translation into Arabic and dissemination of a controversial book about Danish commandos.

"The events of the past few days have weakened trust in the military and in particular in Defence Command Denmark," Adm. Sloth Jørgensen says in the news release.

"Danish defence is composed of highly professional men and women who carry out many important and demanding tasks, not least in Afghanistan. To ensure that the military's personnel have the best possible ability to carry out these tasks, it is important that the military continues to enjoy the trust of the general public and the politicians," he adds.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:55:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France 24 | Judge rules Berlusconi 'co-responsible' in bribery case | France 24
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was jointly responsible for corruption by his Fininvest company in a 1990s battle to buy publisher Mondadori, a Milan judge ruled on Monday, ordering Fininvest to pay 750 million euros in damages.

REUTERS - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was jointly responsible for corruption by his Fininvest company in a 1990s battle to buy publisher Mondadori, a judge said in arguments for imposing damages on the firm.

"Silvio Berlusconi is co-responsible in the corruption issue ... as a logical consequence (of) the principle of civil responsibility" as head of the company, said the court document explaining the decision which Reuters obtained on Monday.

There was no immediate comment from the prime minister's office.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 02:08:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See also De Gondi's diary: Silenzio stampa

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 07:08:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a direct comment by Berlusconi after this article went to press as I reported yesterday. Berlusconi's spokesmen deluged the media with outrage over a "eversive" "clockwork" sentence as part of some sort of "conspiracy" to oust the rightwing government. Berlusconi, as ever, uses politics to cover his criminal activity.

The facts are well known. The highest court confirmed that Berlusconi did corrupt judges in the illegal takeover of the Mondadori publishing empire in the late eighties. The fact that the statute of limitations was applied for dubious reasons does not change the nature of the decision. Berlusconi did seek to have the ruling overturned but lost his case. It's a definitive sentence pronounced nearly a decade ago. The logical spin-off is that he could be pursued for damages in civil court based on that definitive sentence. Period. It's no big deal. It's a controversy between Berlusconi and De Benedetti. What does the rest of the nation or politics have to do with it?

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 05:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi is reportedly moaning about the "powers that be". Never mind that he's a major "power that be" himself.

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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 05:10:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's typical of totalitarian mentalities: Create enemies.

Now there's some sort of international plot to oust Berlusconi in cahoots with traitors of the Nation.

I don't exactly see myself as a traitor or conspiring with latter day Protocols of Zion, but, hell yes, I want him out of power as soon as possible. But above all I want to see his monopolies dismantled and his laws abrogated.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:16:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:38:16 PM EST
Interview with Deutsche Bank CEO Ackermann: 'There Would Be No Banking Industry Without Risks' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann, 61, spoke with SPIEGEL about new regulations for global financial markets, who should be blamed for the global financial meltdown, and what the banks have actually learned from the crisis.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Ackermann, you are part of a system that has brought the global economy to the brink of ruin. Have you ever thought about your own culpability?

Josef Ackermann: I have thought about the causes of the crisis and what we can learn from this for the future. It is not so much a matter of how each individual behaves as a matter of having the right regulations.

SPIEGEL: You, personally, have done nothing wrong?

Ackermann: I have certainly made some errors in judgment. I assumed, as most people did, that every market player only takes as many risks as he himself can absorb, and thus the system itself is stable. This has proven to be erroneous. And we have to learn from this and draw the necessary conclusions.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:40:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Companies / Financial Services - Goldman to be paid $1bn if CIT fails

Goldman Sachs stands to receive a payment of $1bn - while US taxpayers would lose $2.3bn - if embattled commercial lender CIT files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, people familiar with the matter said.

The payment stems from the structure of a $3bn rescue finance package that Goldman extended to CIT on June 6 2008, about five months before the Treasury bought $2.3bn in CIT preferred shares to prop it up at the height of the crisis. The potential loss for taxpayers would be the biggest to crystalise so far from the government's capital injection plan for banks.

The agreement with Goldman states that if CIT defaults or goes bankrupt, it "would be required to pay a make-whole amount" that totals $1bn, the people familiar with the matter said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:41:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Weathering the Crisis Storm: Turkey's Shift to a More Open Economy - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Applying for European Union membership has sped up the reform process in Turkey. And that has helped the country survive the current economic crisis.

Turkey cannot escape the ravages of the global recession. But this time it may avoid the pains that often afflict this promising country in a downturn. For the Turks, a recession usually goes like this: A wild boom triggers high inflation, the currency collapses, and the poorly managed banking sector, hooked on speculative trading and foreign debt, has a near-death experience. Turkey has a well-educated workforce, proximity to Europe, and a shrewd management class. But financial fragility, including a meltdown that sparked riots in 2001, has kept it from entering the first rank of emerging market economies.

In the current turmoil, to everyone's amazement, things have been different. The economy has been dealt a body blow as exports have stalled. While structural problems still exist, in both the political and regulatory spheres, the financial system has held firm even as U.S. and European banks have hovered on the brink. "This is the first recession in which we didn't have a crisis," says Murat Ulgen, chief economist at HSBC in Istanbul. Credit goes to reforms, backed by the International Monetary Fund, that curbed inflation and forced banks to bolster their balance sheets. The increased presence of foreign banks also spurred locals to improve their game. Most important, Turkey has welcomed investment and stepped up efforts to become a real player in the global economy.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:52:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Inspector's Report on Bailouts Says Treasury Misled Public - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- The inspector general who oversees the government's bailout of the banking system is criticizing the Treasury Department for some misleading public statements last fall and raising the possibility that it had unfairly disbursed money to the biggest banks.

A Treasury official made incorrect statements about the health of the nation's biggest banks even as the government was doling out billions of dollars in aid, according to a report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program to be released on Monday by the special inspector general, Neil M. Barofsky.

The report also provides new insight into the way the Treasury allocated billions of dollars to nine of Wall Street's largest players. The report says that Bank of America appeared to qualify for more aid earlier, under the government plan. That assertion adds another element of intrigue to continuing investigations of the bank's merger with Merrill Lynch and the role that regulators played in the deal, even as Merrill's condition deteriorated.

The bailout formula called for banks to get an amount equal to as much as 3 percent of their risk-weighted assets, with aid capped at $25 billion for each institution, according to the report. By size, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America could have qualified for more, and the first two received $25 billion.

But Bank of America was given only $15 billion in October, since Merrill Lynch was earmarked for $10 billion. The two companies agreed to a merger, though their deal had not yet been approved by regulators or shareholders.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:19:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At Simmons, Bought, Drained and Sold, Then Sent to Bankruptcy - NYTimes.com

Simmons says it will soon file for bankruptcy protection, as part of an agreement by its current owners to sell the company -- the seventh time it has been sold in a little more than two decades -- all after being owned for short periods by a parade of different investment groups, known as private equity firms, which try to buy undervalued companies, mostly with borrowed money.

For many of the company's investors, the sale will be a disaster. Its bondholders alone stand to lose more than $575 million. The company's downfall has also devastated employees like Noble Rogers, who worked for 22 years at Simmons, most of that time at a factory outside Atlanta. He is one of 1,000 employees -- more than one-quarter of the work force -- laid off last year.

But Thomas H. Lee Partners of Boston has not only escaped unscathed, it has made a profit. The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company's fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping run it. Last year, the firm even gave itself a small raise.

Wall Street investment banks also cashed in. They collected millions for helping to arrange the takeovers and for selling the bonds that made those deals possible. All told, the various private equity owners have made around $750 million in profits from Simmons over the years.

How so many people could make so much money on a company that has been driven into bankruptcy is a tale of these financial times and an example of a growing phenomenon in corporate America.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, private equity funds have done this to much more than one company. That's predatory finance, pure and simple.
by Bernard on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 03:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trichet, Lagarde Push China to Let Currency Gain Against Euro - Bloomberg.com
European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet led the region's finance chiefs in pushing China to let the yuan strengthen amid mounting concern the euro is shouldering too much of the burden of a sliding dollar.

Some currencies "have in the medium run to appreciate," Trichet said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Istanbul today. Earlier, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told Bloomberg that Europe's recovery doesn't justify further gains in the euro against the dollar.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 07:10:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / UK / Business - FSA sets out tough new liquidity rules
Groundbreaking new liquidity standards from the Financial Services Authority could force UK banks and investment companies to increase their holdings of cash and government bonds by £110bn and cut their reliance on short-term funding by 20 per cent in the first year alone.

If the FSA ramps up the requirements in subsequent years, as is likely, banks might have to increase their holdings of easily saleable assets by a total of £370bn or significantly cut their reliance on short-term funding.

Monday's announcement puts the UK at the forefront of international efforts to prevent a repeat of bank collapses, such as Lehman Brothers and Northern Rock.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 07:17:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Politics | Tories unveil state pension move

The Conservatives have announced plans to make millions of people now in their fifties work for an extra year before they get their state pension.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne would raise the state pension age from 65 to 66 from 2016 if the Tories win the next election to help tackle the UK's debts.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 07:50:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is far too little. People shold be encouraged to work as long as possible. Quite simply, with average ages creeping up all the time, the pension age should be such that it remains a certain percentile of average age.

Keeping pension ages low whilst the aveage life span increases only works if we are in a growth economy. We have demonstrated here time and again that this is a finite earth and we have gone past the end stop on real growth, all that is left is fantasy bubbles. Any actual growth is done at somebody else's expense.

Therefore pension ages have to rise dramatically, perhaps to 70 and beyond. Economies cannot afford significant minorities of their populations to be economically inactive.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
Economies cannot afford significant minorities of their populations to be economically inactive.
But if people don't retire, what jobs will young people take?

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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:40:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't ask me to come up with a detailed alt-solution all on my own while you just trash the suggestion. Work it out. How are pensions going to be afforded if people keep living longer and retiring between the age of 50 and 65 ?

Yes, there are loads of things that can and should be done to change work and taxation and subsidy to reflect modern reality rather than late 20th century aspirations, but when all is said and done there is gong to have to be a move away from large scale energy intensive automation towards small scale localised returning of people to work.

People are going to have to return to agriculture. Food will get more expensive. Petrochemical based Fertilizer and weedkiller/pest control is gonna go eventually (within decades). We might as well get used to it.

People are going to die in the hundreds of millions in the next 30 - 40 years.  Desertification doesn't matter in australia cos there aren't enough people to worry about the fact that they are losing tens of thousands of hectares of productive land right at this moment. But it will matter in China and India who are both approaching a tipping point in terms of water. Desertification as a food catastrophe is gonna take them by surprise and an awful lot of people are gonna die. Because they and we didn't start today

Employment will be about survival. We need to start today. We need to bring an awful lot of marginal land back into production that we let go because it was labour intensive and the rich wanted to leave it as create a wilderness. We need to build sustainable houses and transport in these areas. We need to start now while it's easy.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 05:56:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know that that's pretty much science fiction, right? A scenario that's within the bounds of possibility but far, far from certain.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Science fiction is invariably based on technologies that don't exist and connections to the present are often tenuous.

This is based on climate change we can see happening now. Australia is losing its arable land right now in a new Dust Bowl. Even if rain returns (which it won't) the land won't recover.

China and India both face water crises. China's is intractable and is probably past the point of no return. India is salvageable, but requires a political will that is demonstrably absent. When their lands start blowing away, it will be too late, their populations will starve there and then because the populations are too great to save.

The only thing that is not certain is the timeframe, not the result.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:34:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
How are pensions going to be afforded if people keep living longer and retiring between the age of 50 and 65 ?
Oh, by inflating them out of existence.

But you do realise that the custom in the last 30 years of pushing people into retirement after 50 was a way to hide unemployment, just like pushing people into incapacity benefits?

Every time I hear about some large corporation "pre-retiring" its older workforce at the public's expense I throw a fit. Of course, the alternative is to push them into long-term unemployment.

The reality of the situation is that we have simply not been able to keep our population employed at anything approaching a reasonable rate for many, many years. Maybe a reduction in working hours (cutting the standard work week by 50%, maybe?) would work? But in the UK you not only will push back the retirement age, but also insist that the EU's 48h work week is too short.

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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:13:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Above you were talking about pensions schemes. Here you are talking about a scenario without pensions schemes.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:21:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is an interdependence. Old economic paradigms based on cheap liquid fuel transportation and energy are coming ot hte end of their life and, because we are not planning for a new situation, the change will be hard.

Old economies will crash as new realities set in. We need people active and engaged before it happens, not try to re-start once things have fallen apart.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:29:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With that logic we could reduce the pension age to 30. There is an infinite number of jobs needing to be done.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 01:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unemployment is also at record highs. Why are those jobs than need to be done not being done while people who want jobs can't get them?

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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 05:18:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because of insufficient aggregate demand.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 09:56:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you propose to fix that, how? That has been a chronic condition for the past 30 years, addressed trough a combination of financial bubbles, retiring people early, educating the young longer and shifting people towards incapacity benefits at the earliest opportunity.

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 Wed Oct 7th, 2009 at 04:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we've been through this time after time? If the problem began 30 years ago, ask yourself what happened 30 years ago...

If you retire people early that will reduce aggregate production->aggregate income->aggregate demand. The problem which we suffer from is not that too many people work too much and pay too much taxes to support our welfare states. You might halve unemployment if you deport half the population, but the fraction of unemployed will still be the same.

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

by Starvid on Wed Oct 7th, 2009 at 07:03:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
If you retire people early that will reduce aggregate production->aggregate income->aggregate demand.
Well, that's what's been done in Spain (and other EU countries, by all accounts) since the 80's to get out of various recessions: companies would restructure their workforce and instead of laying people off outright they would be "retired early" at the government's expense. There is a related problem and that is ageism. The alternative to early retirement/incapacity benefits is long-term unemployment until retirement, with a reduced pension.

So the causal chain goes something like this: reduction of profit margins -> bankruptcies/layoffs/early retirement -> reduction in income -> reduction in aggregate demand.

The reduction of profit margins can come about through demand reduction from an external shock, or simply from a bubble popping.

Starvid:

The problem which we suffer from is not that too many people work too much and pay too much taxes to support our welfare states.
Apparently too many people are working at the moment because firms keep laying people off and not hiring.

The problem we suffer is that two few people work, those who work work too much, and the very top pay too low taxes. But I am not convinced there is enough work for everyone. If there were, there wouldn't have been a need to lay off all these people.

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 Wed Oct 7th, 2009 at 09:11:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another h/t to melo:
You Are Expendable | The Agonist
Sustainable in terms of population, resource utilization, capital formation, debt, energy utilization, throughput of goods, and the inevitable decline in labor needs. It is a truly new world, but not one of decaying infrastructure, but of hyper efficient infrastructure.

...

Goods and services are going to have to be allocated in the system at a higher level than it is without relation to labor input. This is somewhat occurring at both ends of the age spectrum, and among women. The old receive a modicum of income and care beginning at 65 and they are being compensated without labor. The young are raised by parents to 18, and this is extending in recent years to 22 to 26 as educational requirements are growing. If the average age is 78 then 26 plus 13 years (39) of it are starting to be compensated without labor. About half. Social welfare programs, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other forms of government assistance probably are beginning to take off another 5 years or so (I think it is up to 8 or 10 right now). Thus, 44 of 78 years are being subsidized as a means of taking surplus labor out of the pool (56% of your life is subsidized without labor input).

In the new economy that is not going to be enough. The efficiencies of computing and robotics is going to bring it lower probably to the tune of twenty more years, and somehow there is going to have to be a regime for paying for it all. Labor is the primary means of dispersing dollars, and it is going to stop working sometime in the next twenty years.

(my emphasis)

Spain just recently approved a €420/mo subsidy for those whose unemployment benefits ran out (after 18 to 24 months, I believe) after January this year. I don't believe that subsidy is going away.

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 Wed Oct 7th, 2009 at 09:43:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, the job market doesn't clear because of fragmentation, lack of information, and inflexibility on the part of both employers and workers.

The job market is anything but a market.

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 Wed Oct 7th, 2009 at 04:34:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the pension age should be such that it remains a certain percentile of average age

So how is that determined? At what point in a person's life? Those who start out in life will have what kind of perspective to plan for, what kind of length of career? And how many people live an "average" life?

Above all, increasing the length of the working life will lead to more stress, more fatigue, more illness - and a fall in life expectancy. The people you'll have working past 70 will not last much longer. For sure, there'll be a saving there on pensions.

Economies cannot afford significant minorities of their populations to be economically inactive.

We have also said here often enough that people who are not in the money economy (ie paid to work) are not necessarily economically inactive. Just that what they do isn't counted into GDP.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:59:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
We have also said here often enough that people who are not in the money economy (ie paid to work) are not necessarily economically inactive. Just that what they do isn't counted into GDP.
Beware of monetizing all activity into GDP

ceebs:

BBC NEWS | UK | Childcare help 'could be illegal'

Parents in England who regularly look after friends' children and receive a "reward" for doing so must register as childminders, regulator Ofsted says.



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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 05:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monetising, or making merchandise of, all forms of activity is a million miles from my intention.

Yes, governments get (increasingly?) itchy about such activities, either for reasons of social control, or to bring them into the tax base, or both. The French authorities attempted to bring the SEL (local exchange system) which organizes the exchange of services (you help my kid with maths, I'll mend your fence - or rather, we'll centralize our offers and needs in a database that issues "points", so I'll credit you with n points for the maths lessons while I'll earn some by mending a neighbour's fence and he'll earn some by repairing someone's car, and so on) into the tax base. Or the tax authorities squint at associations like the one I work with that organize a new kind of trade between small farmers and consumers - where, of course, the actual exchange of goods and money is part of the monetary economy, but not the voluntary work of the organizers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:17:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have suggested that the pension age was set to allow a certain (quite low) percentage to reach it and enjoy their last years. Since then life expectancy has gone up by 10 years at least and is increasing still.

You are probably right to suggest that keeping people in work past a certain point has diminishing returns, but right now that point is probably past 70.

If we start getting significant reductions in life expectancy as the world turns less benign, then hopefully an automatic system will reduce it.

But we can't keep on as we are. It doesn't make sense economically today and is positively survival negative as we move on through the next few decades. Humanity needs to be planning ahead, not hoping for more of the same.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:25:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It only dosnt make sense if you insist on viewing economies purely from the productive side, as most political parties and economists do.

Surely though if you see people as consuming units without the protestant work ethic guilt then theres an entirely different view as to the value of the individual.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The demise of the dollar - Robert Fisk - The Independent

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning - along with China, Russia, Japan and France - to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 08:08:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there arny substance to this ? Or are we seeing yet another of these kite flying exercises that end up going nowhere ?

As China has a load of useless dollars cluttering up their vaults, surely they'd want to dump them on oil producing states and reduce their own risk.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:36:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt it. Notice France there, but no other European county - it sounds like the usual list of those that the Anglo press regards as the bad guys. And why on earth would France be making serious plans to switch to a basket containing a planned new currency, before waiting to see whether this currency works at all?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And why on Earth would France not just switch to the Euro?

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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 08:22:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SNAP ANALYSIS: Ending dollar oil sales easy; pricing is hard | U.S. | Reuters
The much more difficult task would be to replace the currency in which oil is priced: the U.S. dollar, the currency that underpins benchmarks from New York to Dubai to Singapore, and which would require a massive effort to change.

In other words, if the plan materializes, it could be major news for forex markets by allowing oil exporters to more easily diversify their currency reserves and remove the need for importing nations to buy dollars to pay for their oil, but would appear unlikely to revolutionize oil trade.
...
Although an increasing share of global commodity trade is being settled between counterparties in non-dollar currencies, that's a far cry from changing the dollar-denominated markets that establish the underlying prices for those trades, even within the nine-year time frame that the paper cited.
...
The fact that China's yuan and many Gulf currencies are not fully convertible is also a significant obstacle to any effort to replace the dollar in global commodity pricing.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 05:37:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gold Hits 18-Month High as Dollar Slides - General * Europe * News * Story - CNBC.com

Gold hit a new 18-month high of $1,025.10 an ounce in Europe on Tuesday as the dollar slipped against a basket of currencies, boosting interest in the metal as an alternative asset.

The dollar fell after a media report, later denied, that Gulf Arab states were in talks to abandon the dollar in oil trade in favor of a currency basket.

A small seasonal increase in demand for physical gold is also supporting prices, traders said.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 08:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT Alphaville » Blog Archive » The world and the dollar react to Robert Fisk
As we reported earlier, The Independent appears to have rocked the world on Tuesday with its Robert Fisk exclusive exposing a secret plot by international central banks to topple the US dollar.

As we've stressed, denials have been coming out thick and fast from all the central banks involved. What's more, the concept of pricing oil in an alternative currency to the dollar is hardly a new one.

Nevertheless, over the last 24 hours the dollar index was significantly underperforming its basket:

So what to make of it all?

Here's some of the market commentary doing the rounds on the matter on Tuesday morning (our emphasis throughout).



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 08:56:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The G-7 Abandons The Dollar

The greenback fell further after the G-7 would not come to the rescue.

The Group of Seven will let the dollar fall.

The heated climate before the Istanbul meeting led some to expect global policymakers to take a stand, but despite the strong tone, Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers, said it was short on action. "It invites investors to test the dollar's lines of resistance in order to see what response, if any, might be forthcoming in the event of a further fall in the value of the dollar," Wilkinson said.

Is this a switch to a panic campaign?

by das monde on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 10:29:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Source? Link doesn't work...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 01:52:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found an article in Forbes which looks like it.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 03:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's it. Sorry for messing up the link.
by das monde on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 10:01:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT Alphaville

Excess reserves held by banks at the Federal Reserve are back on the rise, hitting their highest level last week since May 2009.

Kyle Bass of Hayman Advisors, who made money on the subprime crisis, now puts those reserves into pictorial context (H/T The Pragmatic Capitalist):

As can be seen they stand at$855bn versus just $2bn a year ago.

As Bass notes, this is a build-up to unprecedented levels for a post-World War II United States. And the reserves are there largely because banks are either unwilling or unable to lend due to fears of further losses or a general lack of creditworthy borrowers.

Bass' point, though, is that the threat to actual money supply will only occur when banks suddenly decide to deploy those reserves. Under the fractional lending system, if this were to happen, it would increase money supply not just by $855bn but by a multiple thereof -- usually around seven times. In which case, the scenario implies an increase in the money supply of approximately $6,000bn.

Of course, the Federal Reserve has signalled it believes its exit strategy will be able to soak up that extra money supply without a problem, for instance, by selling its Treasury and Agency holdings off. But according to Bass, there may be some very painful consequences linked to such a strategy.

As he observes:

Consider for a moment what that would entail - the Federal Reserve sellings its holdings of Treasuries and Agency securities into the market. These sales would put significant upward pressure on rates, which could be very damaging to what will likely be a fragile recovery. Since the onset of the Agency purchase program, the Federal Reserve has purchased more than 100% of the net issuance of both Agency debt and Agency MBS. Imagine what will happen when the only buyer in the market place becomes a seller, especially if China is no longer interested in buying any Agency securities.

What's more, he adds, you must consider that sales of agency securities by foreign official institutions are increasingly supporting their purchases of Treasuries. Or as he puts it:

In other worse the Federal Reserve Agency purchase program is, indirectly, funding a Treasury purchase program.

In which case even more pressure might be put on yields, sending them to the sort of levels that could very well be indigestible to popular governments.

(My bold)

This isn't going to happen.

There are not enough creditworthy people, projects and enterprises out there.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:25:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ChrisCook:
There are not enough creditworthy people, projects and enterprises out there.
That would be the reason why Alphaville:
Excess reserves held by banks at the Federal Reserve ... stand at $855bn versus just $2bn a year ago
Now, %855bn is close enough to the $700 bn of the TARP, which didn't exist a year ago. The bailout money is being deposited with the Fed. And the Fed's interest rates cannot go any lower. So, the bank themselves are hoarding money rather than lending it, and the credit mechanism of the economy remains broken.

The government must, therefore spend money into the economy. Conventional monetary policy can have no effect. We're in a liquidity trap: the system is awash with money which is not being lent partly because there is too much of it.

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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stiglitz Says Markets `Irrationally Exuberant' About Recovery - Bloomberg.com
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said U.S. unemployment will keep rising and should be the focus for policy makers, and gains in the stock market show investors have been "irrationally exuberant" about a recovery.

"There's a lot of risk going ahead of some big bumps," he said yesterday in a Bloomberg Television interview from Istanbul, citing housing, commercial real estate and consumers' inability to pay off credit cards because of job losses. "There's a very big risk that markets have been irrationally exuberant."
...
Economic growth this year and next will "fall well short of what we need to stop unemployment from growing," he said. The likelihood that the U.S. economy will be "out of the woods" before most of the measures in the Obama administration's stimulus package expire in 2011 is "very small," he added.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:43:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Roubini Sees Stock Declines as Soros Warns on Economy - Bloomberg.com
New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini said stock markets may drop and billionaire George Soros warned the "bankrupt" U.S. banking system will hamper its economy, highlighting doubts about the sustainability of the global recovery.

"Markets have gone up too much, too soon, too fast," Roubini, who accurately predicted the financial crisis, said in an interview in Istanbul on Oct. 3. U.S. stocks may suffer a "major decline" after climbing to the highest levels in almost a year two weeks ago, according to technical analyst Robert Prechter, founder of Elliott Wave International Inc.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:45:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Weighs Spending to Stem Job Cuts Without Second Stimulus - Bloomberg.com
President Barack Obama is considering a mix of spending programs and tax cuts to respond to widening job losses that would amount to an additional economic stimulus without carrying that label.

The discussion of the initiatives, including a boost in transportation spending and an extension of an expiring tax credit for first-time homebuyers, comes as the White House is balancing rising concern about unemployment and a budget deficit the Congressional Budget Office estimates will total $1.6 trillion for 2009, and $1.4 trillion in 2010.

Administration officials have told allies in Congress that a broader transportation bill, and extensions of a homebuyer tax credit and unemployment benefits are all on the table, a Senate aide said.

And don't say it's a second stimulus:

"Clearly these things are a stimulus," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who has called for more stimulus spending. "There's no two ways about it."


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 07:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The demise of the dollar | The Agonist

China is using its reserves to stoke up its economy, but reserve growth has shrunk. We may be seeing the peak of China's ability to act as manufacturer to the world; certainly any analysis of the credit crisis must place significant blame on China for its refusal to revalue the yuan and for its utter dominance of global manufacturing.

This leads to a further argument. Even if oil is priced in petros rather than the dollar, the yuan can remain manipulated against the component currencies in the basket. Now you have a whole other set of countries that will be anxious about Chinese currency manipulation. Does China really want to deal with that political pressure?

There are many practical problems with using the petro. Someone has to calculate the daily rate (not too difficult), but this party has to get agreement from the countries involved as to the weighting of each currency in the basket, and this is politically difficult to do. Second, buyers of oil will have to hedge the basket of currencies, which isn't so easy if you are talking about the ruble or yuan or other manipulated currencies with poor liquidity. The big advantage to the dollar is the liquidity on the exchange markets, and the many investments available priced in dollars. Compare that to the ruble, and it is easy to see why few oil importers or hedgers would want to deal with such a basket of currencies. A single, liquid currency is much more conducive to smooth trade in oil.

The Saudis know this. They've been through all sorts of dollar scares and devaluations for 40 years, but in the end their product sells everywhere with ease in part because of the currency used for pricing. These are major reasons for sticking with the dollar, beyond the geopolitical connection the Saudis have with the US.

Even the Saudis would throw in the towel on the dollar if they saw endless devaluations down the road. That is why we need to watch the trade and current account balance of the US. If that starts expanding again, the argument for the petro becomes much more urgent, and secret meetings among ministers would have more credibility. Numerian October 6, 2009 - 4:30am reply | write to author | report as spam new Regarding the Sean O'Grady article

It is interesting to speculate what the world would look like if oil were priced in Chinese currency. But let's also speculate what China would need to look like for that to happen:

1) The yuan would have to be freely floating. As Chinese exports get to dominate global trade the exchange rate would rise, providing a damper on export growth. This is hardly something we can see being tolerated by China anytime soon.

2) Investments in China would have to be liberalized so capital could flow freely in and out of the country. It may take a complete elimination of the Communist Party government in China for this to happen, because it goes against everything the government now holds dear.

3) There would have to be a massive growth in investment vehicles in China with liquidity to match, starting with a national bond market. This doesn't spring up from scratch.

China can do all sorts of things when it sets its mind to it, but replicating the US financial markets in the space of a few years is not one of them. Maybe in 15 to 20 years, but not now, and frankly, there is very little evidence they are even trying hard to do so. Everyone marveled at the Olympic stadium China built in Beijing - the Bird's Nest. Most people don't realize it has stood empty and unused since the Olympics - a complete waste. This is the government the oil producers are going to rely upon for pricing their product? Numerian



'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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 08:20:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reverse Mortgages May Be Next Subprime, Center Says (Update1) - Bloomberg.com
Reverse mortgages may be the next subprime crisis, according to the National Consumer Law Center.

Some of the same U.S. lenders that helped drive the real estate boom with loans to home buyers who couldn't afford the payments are now targeting seniors, the center said. Brokers, who are given financial incentives to sell the loans, may be making misleading claims to potential customers, according to a report titled "Subprime Revisited," that was released today by the Boston-based NCLC.
...
Reverse mortgages enable people aged 62 and over who are looking for extra cash to use the equity in their homes and receive lump-sum payments, periodic checks, a line of credit, or a combination of the three. Lenders are repaid from the sale of the home when the borrowers die or move.

The former maximum payout for reverse mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration was $417,000. That limit was increased temporarily to $625,500 in February. Origination fees are capped at $6,000. In 2008, more than 100,000 seniors used reverse mortgages to tap over $17 billion in home equity, according to the Housing and Urban Development Department.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:02:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 

       

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:39:01 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Africa | Ex-Interpol man denies corruption

South Africa's former chief of police Jackie Selebi has pleaded not guilty at the start of his corruption trial.

He resigned as Interpol president after being charged with having links to organised crime and accepting bribes worth 1.2m rand ($157,000, £98,000).

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says his case is seen as a test of a much-criticised justice system.

He is a senior member of the ruling African National Congress and the trial could have political ramifications.

As he left court, Mr Selebi said: "I am ready to drop bombshells."

His lawyers said the charges were part of a conspiracy against him by the National Prosecuting Authority.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel to visit Washington next month | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 05.10.2009
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Washington next month to meet with US President Barack Obama, a German government spokesman has announced. Merkel will also address a joint session of the US Congress. 

Government spokesman Thomas Steg said Merkel, who won a second term in the September 27 general election, will address both houses of Congress on November 3, on the invitation of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"It's a rare honor for foreign heads of state to be able to speak before the Senate and the House of Representatives," Steg told a news conference in Berlin.

"Of Germany's chancellors, only Konrad Adenauer, who spoke to both houses in May 1957, has had this privilege."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:58:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama cancels meeting with Dalai Lama 'to keep China happy' - Telegraph
President Barack Obama has refused to meet the Dalai Lama in Washington this week in a move to curry favour with the Chinese.

The decision came after China stepped up a campaign urging nations to shun the Tibetan spiritual leader.

It means Mr Obama will become the first president not to welcome the Nobel peace prize winner to the White House since the Dalai Lama began visiting Washington in 1991.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:27:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt purges niqab from schools and colleges - Telegraph
Egypt has embarked on a campaign to restrict the most conservative forms of Muslim dress after one of Islam's most respected clerics ordered a schoolgirl to remove her niqab, or veil.

Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi was reportedly angered during a tour of a Cairo school when he saw a girl wearing a niqab, the full veil worn by some devout Muslim women which covers the entire body except for the eyes.

Sheikh Tantawi, regarded by many as Egypt's Imam and Sunni Islam's foremost spiritual authority, asked the teenage girl to remove her veil saying: "The niqab is a tradition, it has no connection with religion."

The imam instructed the girl, a pupil at a secondary school in Cairo's Madinet Nasr suburb, never to wear the niqab again and promised to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, against its use in schools. The ruling will not affect use of the hijab, the Islamic headscarf worn by most Muslim women in Egypt.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We Puerto Ricans are going to give our northern brothers and sisters a lesson in standing up for dignity:

SAN JUAN - Puerto Rican unions called a general strike for Oct. 15 in response to the dismissal of 17,000 public employees.

The leader of the 23,000-member UGT union, Juan Eliza, told Efe Monday that organized labor is currently readying what he said could be "the most massive movement in the history" of Puerto Rico.



"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 06:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Iran - Anger as Iran holds up IAEA inspectors' visit
Britain on Monday expressed irritation that the International Atomic Energy Agency was being forced to wait three weeks before being given access to Iran's hitherto secret enrichment plant, amid fears that the delay could allow Tehran to cover up possible evidence of military links to its nuclear programme.

Although Iran agreed at the weekend that it would allow the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, into its second uranium plant at Qom on October 25, the UK expressed anger that the organisation was being forced to wait so long.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 07:20:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From TPM
Apple has become the latest big-name company to defect from the Chamber of Commerce, thanks to the group's uncompromising opposition to serious efforts to stop global warming.

In a letter to the Chamber released today, Apple CEO Catherine Novelli wrote that her company "strongly object[s] to the Chamber's recent comments opposing the EPA's effort to limit greenhouse gases."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 02:17:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El Nino May Force Indonesia to Shelve Rice Exports, Bulog Says - Bloomberg.com
Indonesia may shelve plans for the country's biggest rice exports in half a century next year if dry weather caused by El Nino causes production to miss forecasts, a state food company official said.

The world's third-biggest grower planned to ship up to 2 million metric tons of milled rice next year, based on a production forecast of 40 million tons this year, Mustafa Abu Bakar, president director of Bulog, said today. That would be the country's biggest shipments in at least 50 years, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said in October 2008.

"The nation's food security may be at risk if we get hit by a strong El Nino and we still maintain the plan to export rice," Abu Bakar said in an interview. "Our plan-B assumes that there will be a negative impact on rice production from El Nino and we won't achieve an output of 40 million tons."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 06:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:39:26 PM EST
EUobserver / Black Sea could compete with Russia as EU gas supplier

EUOBSERVER / BUCHAREST - The geopolitics of pipelines between Russia and Europe could change dramatically if non-conventional oil and gas reserves in the Black Sea area were to be tapped, energy experts at a high-level conference said last week.

"The Black Sea resources are very big and could even replace gas supply from Russia," Dinu Patriciu, a Romanian oil man and investor who has already bought up large chunks of the country's maritime plateau, said at the "Black Sea energy and economic forum" in Bucharest on Friday (2 October).

The Black Sea has huge solid gas reserves

The event brought together key politicians and business people and was organised by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, a left-leaning think-tank.

Mr Patriciu's vision of the Black Sea becoming a "production region" - not just a transit route from the East to Western Europe - rests on the development of new resources such as "gas hydrates" and other "unconventional gas."

"I'm not a big fan of pipelines. They are long-term projects with low return in which politics are always involved," he explained, echoing the earlier remarks of US special envoy Richard Morningstar, who said that the EU's energy dependency problem cannot be solved by pipelines alone.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:43:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quick Rebound From Marine Mass Extinction Event, New Findings Show

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2009) -- In 1980, Luis Alvarez and his collaborators stunned the world with their discovery that an asteroid impact 65 million years ago probably killed off the dinosaurs and much of the the world's living organisms. But ever since, there has been an ongoing debate about how long it took for life to return to the devastated planet and for ecosystems to bounce back.

Now, researchers from MIT and their collaborators have found that at least some forms of microscopic marine life -- the so called "primary producers," or photosynthetic organisms such as algae and cyanobacteria in the ocean -- recovered within about a century after the mass extinction. Previous research had indicated the process might have taken millions of years.

It has taken so long to uncover the quick recovery because previous studies looked mostly at fossils in the layers of sediment from that period, and apparently the initial recovery was dominated by tiny, soft-bodied organisms such as cyanobacteria, which do not have shells or other hard body parts that leave fossil traces. The new research looked instead for "chemical fossils" -- traces of organic molecules (compounds composed of mostly carbon and hydrogen) that can reveal the presence of specific types of organisms, even though all other parts of the organisms themselves are long gone.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:07:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Loss Of Top Predators Causing Surge In Smaller Predators, Ecosystem Collapse

ScienceDaily (Oct. 4, 2009) -- The catastrophic decline around the world of "apex" predators such as wolves, cougars, lions or sharks has led to a huge increase in smaller "mesopredators" that are causing major economic and ecological disruptions, a new study concludes.

The findings, published October 1 in the journal Bioscience, found that in North America all of the largest terrestrial predators have been in decline during the past 200 years while the ranges of 60 percent of mesopredators have expanded. The problem is global, growing and severe, scientists say, with few solutions in sight.

An example: in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, lion and leopard populations have been decimated, allowing a surge in the "mesopredator" population next down the line, baboons. In some cases children are now being kept home from school to guard family gardens from brazen packs of crop-raiding baboons.

"This issue is very complex, and a lot of the consequences are not known," said William Ripple, a professor of forest ecosystems and society at Oregon State University. "But there's evidence that the explosion of mesopredator populations is very severe and has both ecological and economic repercussions."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You Are Expendable | The Agonist

Sustainable is going to become the 21st century mantra.

Sustainable in terms of population, resource utilization, capital formation, debt, energy utilization, throughput of goods, and the inevitable decline in labor needs. It is a truly new world, but not one of decaying infrastructure, but of hyper efficient infrastructure.

There are many many people going back to the drawing board and trying to figure this thing out.

Imagine the day we have autos that get 500 mpg equivalent, that can last 20 years, that charge in our garage with minimal moving parts and hardly ever break down. Needing little maintenance, no oil changes. With this 'efficiency' what happens to service garages, car dealers and gas stations? Add that the new business model of the plug in vehicle is for business to offer free vehicle charging as a means of attracting a business customer. Considering it costs about $1 to charge an EV that is just a good business model, but yet another product that is going mainstream and free. This is precisely what is happening to industry after industry. Downstream, what happens to the oil industry, the steel industry supporting the rigs, the fleets of tankers? Efficiency is going into hyperdrive right now.

Goods and services are going to have to be allocated in the system at a higher level than it is without relation to labor input. This is somewhat occurring at both ends of the age spectrum, and among women. The old receive a modicum of income and care beginning at 65 and they are being compensated without labor. The young are raised by parents to 18, and this is extending in recent years to 22 to 26 as educational requirements are growing. If the average age is 78 then 26 plus 13 years (39) of it are starting to be compensated without labor. About half. Social welfare programs, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other forms of government assistance probably are beginning to take off another 5 years or so (I think it is up to 8 or 10 right now). Thus, 44 of 78 years are being subsidized as a means of taking surplus labor out of the pool (56% of your life is subsidized without labor input).

In the new economy that is not going to be enough. The efficiencies of computing and robotics is going to bring it lower probably to the tune of twenty more years, and somehow there is going to have to be a regime for paying for it all. Labor is the primary means of dispersing dollars, and it is going to stop working sometime in the next twenty years.

One other new mechanism being experimented with is changing the way money is created. In modern capitalism is is created through debt. The Federal Reserve prints money and lends it to the banking system, who then lends it out based on a ratio of equity to debt carry allowed by the system (currently 8 to 1). The issuance of new money in the form of debt carries with it a built in growth requirement that has worked for about 100 years. The system has to grow at least 3% to cover that growth requirement built into new money being issued as debt. The alternative is to print money and disburse the new money capital through infrastructure projects with a defined rate of return, and avoiding the debt model altogether. In other words the Federal Government would print money and issue it not through banks but through say the construction of $500 billion dollar windfarm, or other identified infrastructure with societal value. Hence the project carries a return to society but it would not require any growth as part of the benefit. In other words cash can be created without GDP growth (required due to interest costs). The dollars are disbursed as widely as possible through these projects. The bank model is not abandoned, but supplemented with this method of capital injection.

Hybrid capitalism. That is one of the more recent I have heard.

sounds familiar... are you lurking here, scottjen?

;=)

'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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 08:58:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:39:50 PM EST
Homophobia in Rome, the 'capital of gay murders' - the European magazine ~ Cafebabel
Letter bombs on homosexual communities versus documentaries to fight ignorance and rights which don't exist. On 10 October, gay rights groups in Rome are planning a march to protest an ongoing spate of homophobic violence

Ask a nine-year-old in an Italian primary school playground to define homosexuality. 'Some people of different sexes don't love each other as much as they love people of the same sex,' she declares, as her fellow pupils play, running after each other and shouting. The statement comes from a country in which opening up to diversity means talking about it and accepting it as a goal; there is hope for the future.

It is a pity that this particular child's voice comes from a cinema screen. Stefano Consiglio's documentary brings together testimonies and faces, but takes its place amongst scores of others which have tried to convince Italy of how broad the definition of 'normal' is, especially with regard to love. It is a pity that El amore es suficiente ('Love is Enough'), which has screened from 4 September 2009 in Italian cinemas, is not a declaration of sexual prejudice renounced.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:54:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Three Americans win Nobel prize for medicine - Telegraph
Jack Szostak, a British-born professor of genetics, was one of three US citizens to be named winners of the 2009 Nobel prize for medicine.

Prof Szostak, Carol Greider and Australian-born Elizabeth Blackburn won for the prize announced in Stockholm for their discovery of a built-in protection device in chromosomes, a finding that sheds light on ageing and may help in the fight against cancer.

The organisers said the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns (£900,000) went to the three researchers because they had "solved a major problem in biology", namely how chromosomes were copied completely during cell division and protected against degradation.

"The discoveries ... have added a new dimension to our understanding of the cell, shed light on disease mechanisms, and stimulated the development of potential new therapies," said the Karolinska Institute, which awards the prize - the first in the Nobel season.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telomere Copy Protection: Nobel Goes To Scientists Who Solved How Chromosome Ends Work

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2009) -- This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to three scientists who have solved a major problem in biology: how the chromosomes can be copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation. The Nobel Laureates have shown that the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes - the telomeres - and in an enzyme that forms them - telomerase.

The long, thread-like DNA molecules that carry our genes are packed into chromosomes, the telomeres being the caps on their ends. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak discovered that a unique DNA sequence in the telomeres protects the chromosomes from degradation. Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn identified telomerase, the enzyme that makes telomere DNA. These discoveries explained how the ends of the chromosomes are protected by the telomeres and that they are built by telomerase.

If the telomeres are shortened, cells age. Conversely, if telomerase activity is high, telomere length is maintained, and cellular senescence is delayed. This is the case in cancer cells, which can be considered to have eternal life. Certain inherited diseases, in contrast, are characterized by a defective telomerase, resulting in damaged cells. The award of the Nobel Prize recognizes the discovery of a fundamental mechanism in the cell, a discovery that has stimulated the development of new therapeutic strategie



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:09:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your Money - The Higher Lifetime Costs of Being a Gay Couple - NYTimes.com
But we see the world through the prism of money. And for years, we've heard from gay couples about all the extra health, legal and other costs they bear. So we set out to determine what they were and to come up with a round number -- a couple's lifetime cost of being gay.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:57:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's an interesting article on the effort. The implications of financial discrimination against homosexuals are in the main however spurious -- once the reader recognizes that marriage status is a tax shelter and accepts the proposition, the state must protect the "right" of all person's to tax shelter ...and benefits, if any. Better yet marriage status, being a lazy man's (pun intended) modus operandi, is the most efficient method of obtaining tax shelter and benefits.

There are several dodgy bits of conventional wisdom in the column. I limit myself to comment on one, given strong objections to the reporter's frequent, cavalier abuse of the meaning and instrumentality of the word "coverage", as in "employer-provided coverage".

Again, employer's do not provide employees' coverages. Unless a group of employees self-insure, an insurer, a third party, provides coverage for their future needs, that is benefit schedule, terms of eligibility, and rate structure among other insurance contract provisions which an employer-sponsor, being owner of the master policy, may or may not be willing or able to negotiate affirmatively on behalf of the interests of employees and their dependents as a group.

The employer is the first gate-keeper.

So. Following the subhead "Health Insurance":

In our worst case, the lower earner's employer did not provide health insurance and her partner's employer [sic; s/b insurer] didn't cover domestic partners. So the lower earner had to buy coverage on the private market,

The reporter implies that the employed partner's insurer is not a private sector enterprise, and  the unemployed partner's exclusion from the employer's group forces her to purchase an individual plan in private sector insurance market. The supposition is nonsensical.

Perhaps what the reporter intended to write is, the unemployed partner is excluded by a private insurer from preferential group underwriting and rates, payment of which the partner's employer subsidizes or funds entirely. What the reporter failed to demonstrate is the unemployed partner's public options: the unemployed partner is ineligible for means-tested Medicaid; the partner doesn't suffer from end-stage renal failure, for example, so s/he is ineligible for Medicare; and the unemployed partner is not a veteran, so s/he is ineligible for VA medical care.

Incidentally, private insurance market automatically excludes active duty military. Period.

while the higher-earning partner provided coverage for herself and the two children. All this cost the gay couple $211,993 more [over 30 years] than their heterosexual married counterparts, who were able to take advantage [4 covereds for the price of 3] of the higher-earner's family coverage.

A single parent with two dependents, ceteris paribus, pays "more", too, to the extent s/he couldawouldashoulda maintained an unemployed spouse.

Note that the figure above presumably includes but is not limited to all state- and federal taxes on employed partner's income ($110K marginal rate) that otherwise could be allocated to "pre-tax" payroll deduction for premium payment of covered spouse... over 30 years. Employed partner pays unemployed partner's premium with after-tax dollars.

Even though the couple paid nearly $29,000 more in premiums than an identical heterosexual married couple,

$29K more in premium --over 30 years? $966 annualized-- than an identical heterosexual married couple looks like a seriously incredible differential --US Tax Code §125 exclusions notwithstanding-- absent reference to prevailing rates of "unnatural group"  (HMO, PPO, PoS) insurance products in the jurisdictions featured.  

Note that the NYT models exposure age 35 - 85, trough to peak on actuarial tables. Note the annualized premium is proxy of all single taxpayers. Note also most business owners and all self-employed persons are excluded by federal law (§125) from contributing to variety of "pre-tax"  payroll expense schemes, regardless of race, sex, age, or marriage status.

it was cheaper than using domestic partnership coverage throughout because of the onerous tax implications, according to Mr. Williams of the Tax Policy Center. A nondependent partner's coverage is taxable income, and she can't use pretax dollars to pay the premiums, according to Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery [law firm] in Chicago.

Quite.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 10:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bridgeport Diocese Loses Bid to Keep Sex-Abuse Records Sealed - NYTimes.com

The United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to delay the court-ordered release of thousands of legal documents from lawsuits filed against priests accused of child sex abuse.

The decision leaves few options for the diocese after a seven-year tug-of-war with four newspapers, including The New York Times, over the release of more than 12,000 pages of depositions and church records.

The diocese still has another request before the court, asking the justices to hear arguments that release of the records would violate the First Amendment rights accorded to religious groups. But such a hearing appears unlikely after the court's refusal on Monday, in a single-sentence ruling, to stay a lower-court order that the records be unsealed.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:43:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Newshoggers.com
The makers of Conservapedia, whose mission has been to offset the well-known liberal bias of Wikipedia, (and also most everything else in the real world), have noticed that the founding document of Christianity reads like it was written by some long-haired hippy dude and have decided to correct the oversight
Their examples of this liberal bias are quite instructive. The first posits that Jesus asking his father to forgive his persecutors might be a liberal corruption of the original. After all, if that Jesus fellow was really into forgiveness, how would you go about justifying all that vengeance, smiting of foes, and capital punishment? 
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that there aren't a lot of red-letter Christians in conservapedia circles. 
Under the advantages of this project:

this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today

Yup. No way that a guy who went around offering free health care to the sick, spoke of compassion and forgiveness, and had some mean things to say about rich men's chances of getting into heaven, (all clearly examples of blatant liberal tampering with the text), would have anything in common with the liberals of today. 
At least, he won't when they're through "re-translating" what it was he said.

jesus was really a reichwing corporate bankster, that's all you need to know, children. now salute the burning cross!

'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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 09:47:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 

 

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:40:15 PM EST
BBC NEWS | UK | Artist Emin may quit UK over tax

Artist Tracey Emin has said she is thinking of leaving the UK in protest about being overtaxed.

In a Sunday Times interview she said she was "very seriously considering leaving Britain," adding: "I'm simply not willing to pay tax at 50%."

The government's 50p tax rate for incomes of more than £150,000 will be introduced in April.

Emin said she is considering France because she thinks it has lower taxes and appreciates the arts more.

She said: "So much here is simply not working now. The taxes are too high, there aren't enough incentives to work hard, and our politicians have put me off. We're paying through the nose for everything."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 01:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't bother with France, Tracey, just head straight for a tax haven.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 03:39:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bye, take your crappy nonsense joke art and don't come back

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:00:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She'll come back to show the art, once she figures out how to expatriate the income.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 04:06:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that the total rate or the marginal rate?
by asdf on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 01:42:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marginal.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 03:00:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Fans crash Carla Bruni's website

A website launched by French first lady Carla Bruni has crashed on its first day - overwhelmed by the number of users trying to access it at once.

The site promises a glimpse into her life with President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace and aims to publicise her charity work.

Visitors to carlabrunisarkozy.org were met with a message in French requesting them to try again in a few hours.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 02:06:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks a lot for the hard work, Fran!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 5th, 2009 at 07:04:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
:-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 12:56:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Scientist reproduces Turin shroud

The Shroud of Turin has been reproduced by an Italian scientist in another attempt to prove that the cloth bearing an image of Christ's face is a fake.

A professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia said he had used materials and techniques that were available in the Middle Ages.

These included applying pigment to cloth and then heating it in an oven.

Tests 20 years ago dated the fabric to between 1260 and 1390, but believers say it is an authentic image of Christ.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 03:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the sheer amount of effort put into this is much more interesting than the shroud itself, or its veracity.

i like the imprint image, in spite of its mournful lugubriousness, it has a gaunt nobility, a bit like the illustrations in gibran's 'the prophet', but more goth.

'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 Oct 6th, 2009 at 09:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PhotoSketch: Photoshop + Image Recognition = Awesome

This technology is just mind-boggling. PhotoSketch may be the coolest program we've seen or written about since the invisible speakers.

PhotoSketch is an "Internet Image Montage" project from five Chinese Computer Science and Technology students at Tsinghua University and the National University of Singapore. The basic premise, which they present in the form of a research paper [pdf], works like this:

Step 1. Draw the outlines of the figures you want in your picture - anything from seagulls to a Mercedes, whatever tickles your fancy,

Step 2. Add labels for each of the items, as well as for the background.

Step 3. PhotoSketch will then find real-life images to match your doodles and put them together in a Photoshopped image that will make your jaw drop.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Oct 6th, 2009 at 04:05:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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