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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 15 March

by Fran Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 05:16:22 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1852 – Birth of Augusta, Lady Gregory, an Irish dramatist and folklorist. With William Butler Yeats and others, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. (d. 1932)

More here and here

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 EUROPE 



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 01:47:23 PM EST
UK 'ignoring' systemic evidence of torture among asylum seekers | UK news | The Observer

Torture survivors seeking sanctuary in Britain are being wrongly held in government detention centres, despite independent medical evidence supporting claims of brutal violence against them in their home countries.

According to Home Office guidelines, in cases where there is evidence that a person seeking asylum has been tortured they should be detained only in "exceptional circumstances". But medical charities that carry out hundreds of independent assessments of torture survivors every year have accused the government of routinely ignoring their reports, with victims held in detention centres until their asylum claims are heard - and, in almost every case, rejected.

Sonya Sceats, a spokeswoman for one charity that carries out medical assessments for the government, told the Observer: "It's very clear there is a systemic and increasing problem here. The corollary of their dismissal of independent medical evidence is that the protection [asylum] claim is invariably rejected and this means a survivor of torture is at risk of being returned to further torture or at risk of detention."

The allegations come in the wake of strong criticism last week of the UK Border Agency, which was condemned for failing to investigate claims of mistreatment by failed asylum seekers in abuse allegations up to July 2008. Ministers now plan to review the use of force against asylum seekers by British security guards after a Border Agency report on abuse conceded that serious injuries were suffered by detainees who had been handcuffed or physically restrained.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany's Greens protest re-opening of nuclear waste dump | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 14.03.2010
After a ten year moratorium, exploration on the future of the Gorleben nuclear waste dump is to resume. The Green party and environmental leaders are protesting the decision. 

Environmentalists and member of the Green party responded with sharp criticism to reports that the German Environment Ministry would reopen talks on the future of the Gorleben nuclear waste dump.

Greenpeace activists projected the phrase "Gorleben: unsuitable for nuclear waste, Mr. Roettgen" onto a tower at the disused salt mine in the early hours of Sunday. Green party leaders sharply crtiticized the decision to resume talks to make the Gorleben salt mines a permanent nuclear waste dump.

A ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the report and said Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen would be holding a press conference on the topic of Gorleben on Monday.

Discussion on using the underground salt mines in Gorleben in Lower Saxony have been on hold since 2000. According to a report in news magazine Spiegel, exploration of the salt dome could take eight to ten years. During the exploration, the old mining law would apply - not the nuclear law, which requires a broader civic participation in the decision-making process.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:19:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish cardinal admits knowledge of paedophile priest 'cover-up' | World news | guardian.co.uk

The head of the Catholic church in Ireland should consider standing down over revelations that he knew about an alleged cover-up involving the country's most notorious paedophile priest, child abuse victims said today.

Cardinal Sean Brady said today that he had been present at a closed canonical tribunal into the activities of the late Father Brendan Smyth. During the meeting, two of Smyth's child victims were made to sign an oath to the Catholic church that they would not talk about their claims with anybody other than a priest.

The disclosure that the children gave these written assurances in Brady's presence will again raise fears that the church thought it was above the law. The support group Irish Survivors of Child Abuse said it confirmed that a cover-up of clerical abuse of children "went to the very top".

The tribunal was held over two meetings in 1975 behind closed doors at a Dominican Friary outside Dundalk, close to the Northern Ireland border, and later in Ballyjamesduff. Smyth was accused of sexually assaulting a boy then aged 10 while on holiday. A girl said the priest had abused her around Easter 1970, when she was 10.

Both alleged victims were required to sign affadavits swearing they would not talk to anyone except priests given special permission to hear their allegations. The church at the time did not inform Irish police about the children's allegations.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Unpopular Sarkozy faces local election test in France

French people are voting in regional elections that are expected to reflect widespread disenchantment with President Nicolas Sarkozy's government.

It is the last nationwide vote before presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2012.

The opposition Socialist Party already controls 20 of the 22 mainland regions and hopes to take the other two.

The poll ratings of the centre-right president have plunged in opinion polls and unemployment has risen to 10%.

The BBC's Emma Jane-Kirby, in Paris, says that although the election is meant to be about regional issues, voters are bound to use this opportunity to punish the central government.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:24:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French Regional Elections

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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair chooses America for launch of faith offensive to unite the religions | Politics | The Observer

Tony Blair is preparing to launch a "faith offensive" across the United States over the next year, after building up relationships with a network of influential religious leaders and faith organisations.

With Afghanistan and Iraq casting a shadow over his popularity at home in Britain, Blair's focus has increasingly shifted across the Atlantic, to where the nexus of faith and power is immutable and he is feted like a rock star.

According to the annual accounts of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a UK-based charity that promotes cohesion between the major faiths, the foundation is to develop a US arm that will pursue a host of faith-based projects. The accounts show that his foundation has an impressive - and, in at least one case, controversial - set of faith contacts. Sitting on some £4.5m in funds as of April last year, mostly gathered through donations, it is now well placed to make its voice heard.

The foundation's advisory council of religious leaders includes Rick Warren, powerful founder of the California-based Saddleback church. It attracts congregations of nearly 20,000 and is reportedly one of the largest in the US. Warren, who has addressed the UN and the World Economic Forum in Davos, has been named one of the "15 world leaders who matter most" and one of the "100 most influential people in the world".



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hear he's editing his new book as we speak.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How long before we see Blair and Palin on a stage together?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 09:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How big is the cheque?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 09:17:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I bet he shows up in Colorado Springs.
by asdf on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 08:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New row hits controversial museum for German war refugees | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 14.03.2010
The representative of German Jews on the board of a new wartime refugee museum has threatened to step down. Salomon Korn demanded that the plight of Germans who fled Poland be linked to Nazi war crimes. 

The representative of Germany's Jews on the board of a controversial museum for Germany's World War Two refugees has threatened to stand down in a row over its content.

In an interview with the German news magazine Spiegel, the vice-president of the German Council of Jews Salomon Korn urged a shift in emphasis in plans for the museum being overseen by the Foundation for Flight, Expulsion and Reconciliation.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swiss Catholic Church investigates 60 claims of sex abuse | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 14.03.2010
The new wave of sex abuse allegations currently plaguing the Catholic Church has reached Switzerland. A Swiss abbot said victims, not the church, should be the ones to press charges. 

The Catholic Church in Switzerland is investigating sixty claims of sexual abuse by priests, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

Abbot Martin Werlen of the Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln told the newspaper Mittelland-Zeitung that the church is looking into the claims. The church itself will not press charges, Werlen emphasized, and intends to advise victims to do so themselves. 

"We find it important that the victim himself determines what steps to take," the cleric told the Mittelland-Zeitung, cited by the Swiss news agency.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:27:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Paddy Power, the Irish bookmakers, have reduced the odds on Pope Benedict's resignation to 3:1.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 04:37:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He ain't going nowhere unless Jesus himself descends from the heavens and gives him the pink slip.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 05:35:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was the Pope's fall in the Alps recently that changed the odds.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 10:31:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you honestly think even that would be enough?
by Sassafras on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 01:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If he does resign, they give Angelo Scola top odds to succeed him (6/1) and Bono lowest odds (1000/1). (From paddypower.com's cache on Google; the site itself is blocked in Italy).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 11:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Organizing a facebook group to make small bets on Bono and pressure the odds would be interesting...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 11:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any odds on Blair?
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's not on this list, but you might do better if you look directly on their website, assuming that France hasn't blocked it as well.

Other odds are 50/1 for Clegg in the U.K. As for 2012 in the U.S., Obama is at 4/5 no matter what Fox News may say, while Paris Hilton and Laura Bush are tied at 1000/1. Schwarzenegger is at 100/1, and Ron Paul (50/1) leads McCain, Gore, and Kerry.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stubb hosts EU meeting at resort in Lapland

An unofficial meeting of eight foreign ministers during the weekend at the Saariselkä resort in Finnish Lapland was considered so successful that the group agreed on holding another one next year in Lapland.

      Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party) said that similar gatherings are to be held in other EU countries as well. The feeling was that smaller gatherings could bring significantly more efficiency to EU decision-making.

Speaking to reporters, Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that a turning point had been reached in the construction of a new foreign policy in Europe.

      She said that discussions are concentrating more on content than on "that fluffy stuff", she said on Saturday.

      In the field of foreign affairs she sees a need to systematically strengthen the EU's position in adjacent areas, and with the most important concentration of power.

Ashton appeared more relaxed and self-confident in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat and three international news agencies than she has been in recent times.

      She has been the focus of sometimes intense criticism after taking office as the first "foreign minister" of the EU.

      She has been called a weak performer at a time when the EU institutions and member states around her have struggled for power in foreign affairs.

She said that the storminess has not disturbed her at all, adding that some of the expectations for the EU's common foreign policy and the "European External Action Service" that is now under construction have been unrealistic.

      Whether it is over or not, the controversy has certainly has made Ashton the centre of attention. She was clearly at centre stage at the weekend retreat in Saariselkä, where she met with the foreign ministers of six EU member states, as well as Turkey.

Stubb is a former childhood bully (I know someone of his age from the same school) and has a bizarre over-youthful taste in winter clothing (product placement?), but he does keep himself fit, is intelligent and informed on issues, he's a Swedish-speaking Finn, also speaks fluent English, French and German, and on the whole has a fairly decent track record. He's an energetic Europhile.

He has potential as a future Finnish PM.

I totally disagree with his positive view of NATO, but it doesn't so far seem to have done him any harm in contacts with Russia.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 04:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A flavour of the man can be found at his own website

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 04:31:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 01:47:41 PM EST
FT.com / Asia-Pacific - China hits at currency `protectionism'

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday warned other countries that pressuring China on currency policy amounts to protectionism and insisted that the renminbi was not undervalued.

Mr Wen said China would continue to reform its currency system. But he pushed back strongly against international pressure on the level of the exchange rate, which is becoming a major flashpoint in relations with the US.

Speaking at the end of the National People's Congress, Mr Wen added that China was still "very concerned" about the safety of its US dollar investments.

"The Chinese currency is not undervalued," Mr Wen said during his annual press conference at the closing of the annual meeting of the Chinese legislature.

"We oppose all countries engaging in mutual finger-pointing or taking strong measures to force other nations to appreciate their currencies."

Mr Wen said he understood that countries wanted to increase exports but said they should not resort to what he described as protectionism.

"What I don't understand is depreciating one's own currency, and attempting to pressure others to appreciate, for the purpose of increasing exports. In my view, that is protectionism," Mr Wen said.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:14:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / China / Economy & Trade - Wen links inflation to Communist party future

Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier, put tackling inflation at the top of the policy agenda on Sunday by linking rapid price rises with the survival of Communist party rule.

Mr Wen insisted that inflation must be managed while maintaining rapid economic growth and carrying out state-led economic restructuring, a goal that he conceded would be "extremely difficult".

Many Chinese officials and experts believe double-digit inflation was a leading cause of the public discontent that spilled over into student-led protests in the spring of 1989 and ended in a bloody military crackdown centered on Tiananmen Square. At the time, Mr Wen was a mid-ranking official in the central government.

"If there is inflation plus unfair income distribution and corruption, it will be strong enough to affect our social stability and even affect the stability of state power," Mr Wen said in his annual press conference at the close of the National People's Congress, China's rubber stamp parliament.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Companies / Oil & Gas - CNOOC to pay $3.1bn for Argentine stake

China's CNOOC has agreed to take a 50 per cent stake in Argentina's Bridas Group for $3.1bn in the latest example of Beijing's thirst for global energy assets.

The deal, announced on Sunday through CNOOC's Hong Kong-listed unit, is the oil explorer's largest acquisition to date and marks its first foray into Latin America.

Bridas is owned by the Bulgheroni family, which will retain a 50 per cent stake through a newly-created joint venture holding company alongside CNOOC.

Bridas' prize asset is its 40 per cent stake in Pan American Energy, a joint venture with BP, which has coveted oil and gas exploration and production activities across Latin America.

Pan American is Argentina's second-biggest producer of crude, behind the YPF, the Argentine unit of Spain's Repsol YPF, and was the country's largest exporter of oil in 2009.

[...]

Chinese companies are snapping up energy assets across the globe, with official backing, to help provide resources needed to feed the world's most rapidly growing big economy.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:17:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What China wants

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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:18:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Small firms would hire you, if only they could get loans | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- Capital is the oxygen that a small business needs to survive and thrive, yet across the country, the air's pretty thin, as business owners from coast to coast complain of huge hurdles to getting badly needed loans.

Jim Collins, co-owner with his wife Arlene of Quantum Energy Solutions, has been in business in Sacramento, Calif., since 1974. He has a $50,000 line of credit, backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, through US Bank, owned by US Bancorp. He has a solid credit history and $30,000 in untapped credit.

Yet when Collins approached the bank about borrowing at least $500,000 to expand his 12-employee firm -- which retrofits buildings with energy efficient technologies -- he was rebuffed, told that his company lacks resources and collateral. US Bancorp declined comment.

Collins, 70, can't get the money he needs to hire five additional workers and ramp up marketing, even as the Obama administration promotes the "green jobs" of the future.

[...]

Lending across the U.S. economy contracted 7.4 percent last year, the biggest such drop since 1942, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That means $1.5 trillion in lending evaporated last year, the Treasury Department estimates.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodd to Unveil a Comprehensive Financial Overhaul Bill - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee will unveil on Monday a proposal to revamp the nation's financial regulations that would empower shareholders to have advisory votes on executive pay and to nominate directors for the boards of public companies through company proxy ballots, several people briefed on the draft legislation said Saturday.

The shareholder provisions, which have been vigorously opposed by many corporations and by Republicans, will be part of a bill that would amount to the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulations since the Depression. In one of the most fiercely debated provisions, the bill would create a consumer financial protection agency under the umbrella of the Federal Reserve, a move certain to disappoint liberal Democrats who believe the Fed failed to safeguard consumers in the years leading up to the banking meltdown.

With no Republican support yet for the proposal, Democratic lawmakers and the White House have been gearing up for a potentially bitter partisan fight.

The impending proposal by the chairman, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, hews in many ways to a proposal advanced last summer by the White House, the people briefed on the legislation said.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:51:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the bill would create a consumer financial protection agency under the umbrella of the Federal Reserve

This is a farce. The Fed already has all the authority it needs to protect consumers. It just doesn't see its job as being a regulator. See Giethner's famous quote: "I have never been a regulator." True, but also an admission of dereliction of duty. Great for Wall Street. Useless for the public.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:38:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The New Poor - For-Profit Schools Cashing In on Recession and Federal Aid - NYTimes.com

One fast-growing American industry has become a conspicuous beneficiary of the recession: for-profit colleges and trade schools.

At institutions that train students for careers in areas like health care, computers and food service, enrollments are soaring as people anxious about weak job prospects borrow aggressively to pay tuition that can exceed $30,000 a year.

But the profits have come at substantial taxpayer expense while often delivering dubious benefits to students, according to academics and advocates for greater oversight of financial aid. Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.

"If these programs keep growing, you're going to wind up with more and more students who are graduating and can't find meaningful employment," said Rafael I. Pardo, a professor at Seattle University School of Law and an expert on educational finance. "They can't generate income needed to pay back their loans, and they're going to end up in financial distress."



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, at least in the USA, having a bachelor's degree is a huge, huge advantage in the job market. All that matters is that your degree be from an accredited school, whether conventional private (non-profit), state funded, or for-profit private. It's not that you necessarily know anything, it's just a basic rule that a BA or a BS is the table stakes for a decent job...

Of course there is an hierarchy of status within accredited schools, but without a degree, the job market is particularly tough...and the pay lousy.

by asdf on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 08:33:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 05:27:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Partnoy: Lehman Examiner Punted on Valuation Naked Capitalism

The buzz on the Lehman bankruptcy examiner's report has focused on Repo 105, for good reason. That scheme is one powerful example of how the balance sheets of major Wall Street banks are fiction. It also shows why Congress must include real accounting reform in its financial legislation, or risk another collapse. (If you have 8 minutes to kill, here is my recent talk on the off-balance sheet problem, from the Roosevelt Institute financial conference.)

But an even more troubling section of the Lehman report is not Volume 3 on Repo 105. It is Volume 2, on Valuation. The Valuation section is 500 pages of utterly terrifying reading. It shows that, even eighteen months after Lehman's collapse, no one - not the bankruptcy examiner, not Lehman's internal valuation experts, not Ernst and Young, and certainly not the regulators - could figure out what many of Lehman's assets and liabilities were worth. It shows Lehman was too complex to do anything but fail.


In case you missed the juicy reporting on Lehman, Giethner and Repo 105, here is a link from an earlier post on Naked Capitlism.

The short version: Repo 105 was a transaction Lehman employed with British banks to temporarily sell the banks assets for cash, which assets would be bought back in a week or so. Lehman posted 105% of the cash in alleged asset values to their counter-party AND paid a premium interest rate. They showed these transactions on their books as final sales. These Repo 105, and later 108 transactions peaked at the time for the quarterly statements and was a pretty transparent attempt to dress up their balance sheet for the quarterly or yearly statements.

They used British banks because they could not find US banks who would give them a letter of opinion that these were final sales. People are on record that Dick Fuld, CEO of Lehman, was fully briefed and walked through these transactions and it is virtually inconceivable that Tim Giehtner, then President of the New York Fed, who had oversight responsibility for Wall Street, was unaware of these transactions. Paulson in his recent book noted that it was common knowledge in the summer of 2008 that Lehman's books were not an accurate statement of the firms value.

Loss of access to Repo 105/108 was likely the final straw bringing down Lehman in the fall of 2008, precipitating the GFC. That was the source of at least $50 billion of the hole that suddenly appeared on Lehman's balance sheet.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 01:43:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 01:48:11 PM EST
Protesters Surge Into Bangkok, Urging New Election - NYTimes.com

BANGKOK -- Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters poured into Bangkok on Sunday demanding that the government step down in what was one of the largest demonstrations in the recent tumultuous history of Thailand.

Convoys of farmers in pickup trucks and busloads of families wearing the protesters' trademark red shirts blanketed a district of ministries and government offices.

"We are here to announce class warfare, in peace and for democracy," Nattawut Saikua, a charismatic protest leader, said to a roaring crowd not deterred by the scorching sun.

Organizers estimated the crowd at 250,000 people and said more were on the way by road and riverboat. The police estimated the number of protesters at 55,000 but said the number was likely to increase into the night. The protest leaders have vowed to continue their demonstration well into the week if their demands are not met.

In four years of political turmoil here, the divisions in Thai society have been complex and manifold. But on Sunday, protesters and their leaders portrayed the demonstration as a struggle of the poor and disaffected against a government supported and controlled by the elite.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:53:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Asia-Pacific - 'Red Shirts' rally in Thai capital

Tens of thousands of red-shirted supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed prime minister, have gathered in Bangkok to demand the government's ouster, sparking a major security operation.

Riot police and soldiers guarded government offices as part of a 50,000-strong security force deployed on the streets to prevent any outbreak of violence on Sunday.

Bangkok police said 45,000 protesters from the north and northeast of the country had turned up at the rally site by Saturday night.

The government said it expected about 70,000 Red Shirts(the colour worn by Thaksin supporters) to attend, but the protesters have said the number will be several times higher.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:08:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but we know they will all die in the second scene.
by njh on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 05:47:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama's health care legacy hangs on 216 House votes | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- The looming vote for final passage of the historic health-care bill is the stiffest challenge House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has faced in his three-plus years as the lawmaker responsible for counting heads and ensuring passage of major legislation.

The South Carolina Democrat has spent the past week in endless meetings and conversations with key factions of Democrats in the House of Representatives, among them black, Hispanic and the fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" lawmakers.

The forthcoming health-care vote puts Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, in the tough position of securing enough Democratic support to gain final passage of a historic initiative that will help define the legacy of President Barack Obama. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the original House health-care measure in November, 24 of them Blue Dogs.

The outcome, he said, could be tighter than the 220-215 vote by which the House passed the original health-care bill in November.

"I need 216 votes to pass this bill," Clyburn told McClatchy. "I think I'm going to get 216 votes. It could be closer than last time. All I want is 216 votes.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:00:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We've met the enemy in Afghanistan, and he's changed | McClatchy

KABUL -- A decade ago, when the Taliban controlled the Afghan government, their militiamen -- barely motivated, untrained conscripts -- tried for five years to seize control of the entire country from more moderate forces but didn't succeed, even with the help of Osama bin Laden's Arab and other foreign volunteers.

Today, although the United States and more than three dozen NATO allies and other countries are supporting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Taliban dominate a growing swath of territory, and their power trumps the government's in three-quarters of the country.

Although they're often portrayed as mindless fanatics, the militant Islamists' "life experience" from their years in the wilderness, their study of American military tactics and their analysis of the Karzai government's shortcomings have helped reverse their fortunes, U.S. intelligence experts say.

With President Barack Obama sending at least 30,000 additional American troops to knock the Taliban off-balance and a U.S.-led offensive in Helmand province, a better understanding of today's Taliban is central to the effort to defeat them and to begin withdrawing some American troops from Afghanistan in summer 2011.

While much is made of the recent arrests of Taliban leaders in Pakistan and the deaths of others in U.S. unmanned drone attacks, the group appears to be a movement in transition, with greater sophistication along with limited central control and considerable autonomy for its local commanders in Afghanistan.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:02:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anybody feel like deconstructing

more moderate forces
?

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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Israel to probe 'Biden fiasco'

Israel's prime minister has ordered an investigation into how government officials announced plans for a new Jewish housing project in East Jerusalem during a visit by Joe Biden, the US vice-president.

Binyamin Netanyahu's office said he ordered the probe late on Saturday after he met with senior cabinet ministers.

The announcement of Israel's approval of 1,600 new homes while Biden was visiting Israel earlier this week in a bid to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations embarrassed the US vice-president and overshadowed his visit.

Netanyahu has since apologised for the bad timing of the announcement, but has given no sign he will cancel the construction orders.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See: Last word on the Biden slap-down in Israel and other diaries by shergald.

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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 04:10:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - Africa - Nigeria vows to tackle violence

Nigeria's police chief has said that police officials in Nigeria's central Plateau State will be held responsible for future violent incidents.

Ogbonna Onovo made his comments while on a visit to the region, which has seen two massacres in just three months.

"Henceforth, DPOs [district police officers] will be held responsible for any such attacks in their areas of jurisdiction," Onovo said.

"We will provide more logistics and incentives to the police in Plateau State for the effective maintenance of law and order in the state."

He urged police officers to act promptly on intelligence reports on such attacks and promised to help the state police command in its operations.

More than 500 people, predominantly Christian villagers near the central city of Jos, were killed last week in an attack blamed on Muslim herders from nearby hills.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:09:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 01:52:11 PM EST
Small dogs originated in the Middle East, genetic study finds
/'); /]]> Science News Share   Blog   Cite Print   Email   Bookmark Small Dogs Originated in the Middle East, Genetic Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2010) -- A genetic study has found that small domestic dogs probably originated in the Middle East more than 12,000 years ago. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology traced the evolutionary history of the IGF1 gene, finding that the version of the gene that is a major determinant of small size probably originated as a result of the domestication of the Middle Eastern gray wolf.

Melissa Gray and Robert Wayne, from the University of California, Los Angeles, led a team of researchers who surveyed a large sample of gray wolf populations. She said, "The mutation for small body size post-dates the domestication of dogs. However, because all small dogs possess this variant of IGF1, it probably arose early in their history. Our results show that the version of the IGF1 gene found in small dogs is closely related to that found in Middle Eastern wolves and is consistent with an ancient origin in this region of small domestic dogs.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:19:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
World's Mightiest Solar Boat Unveiled: Scientific American
Nearly 500 years after Juan Sebastián Elcano completed the first circumnavigation of the globe using nothing but renewable power, Swiss engineer Raphael Domjan and French sailor Gerard D'Abouville are preparing to repeat Elcano's journey in an all-electric boat powered by the energy gathered by 470 square meters of solar panels.

Unveiled for the first time in a ceremony at a shipyard in Kiel, Germany, last week, their vessel is a catamaran made entirely out of the same kind of carbon-fiber composites that make modern airplane wings strong yet light. On its 40,000-kilometer journey, the 30-meter long and 15.2-meter wide boat, known as PlanetSolar, will have to withstand high winds, stormy seas and days without sunshine. On board, the world's largest lithium-ion battery, a 13-tonne monster capable of storing 1,300 kilowatt-hours of energy when fully charged, will allow the boat to slice through the water at an average speed of 13 kilometers per hour for three days straight in complete darkness before its charge is completely exhausted.

The ship can fully recharge its battery in the span of a little more than two days of full sunshine if it's not drawing power at the same time, such as when it's docked in a marina, according to Domjan, a paramedic turned engineer who is the visionary behind PlanetSolar as well as its co-captain. The ship is designed, however, to operate at sea indefinitely, and under normal conditions its 38,000 solar cells average enough power production to muster the 20 kilowatts of power needed to keep the boat cruising along at its average speed. The maximum electrical output of all the cells together on a sunny day is about 100 kilowatts.


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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:21:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Road travel 'needs big overhaul' to avoid gridlock

There needs to be a "radical overhaul" of road travel in the UK to avoid future gridlock, the CBI business organisation has warned.

It said measures that need to be explored include staggered work commutes, increased car sharing, and more working from home.

The CBI estimates road congestion now costs the UK economy up to £8bn a year.

It warned this could more than double by 2025 unless more action is taken to tackle the problem.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 10:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Cridland added that the CBI "would like to see policymakers put the same amount of energy and vision into roads as they are doing on high-speed rail."
So they can wait until 2017 until doing anything....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 02:45:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't the high speed rail itself be something to address the gridlock?
by njh on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 06:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 01:52:30 PM EST
The South Bronx, Plagued by Obesity, Tops a Hunger Survey - NYTimes.com

WHEN most people think of hunger in America, the images that leap to mind are of ragged toddlers in Appalachia or rail-thin children in dingy apartments reaching for empty bottles of milk. >

Once, maybe.

But a recent survey found that the most severe hunger-related problems in the nation are in the South Bronx, long one of the country's capitals of obesity. Experts say these are not parallel problems persisting in side-by-side neighborhoods, but plagues often seen in the same households, even the same person: the hungriest people in America today, statistically speaking, may well be not sickly skinny, but excessively fat.

Call it the Bronx Paradox.

"Hunger and obesity are often flip sides to the same malnutrition coin," said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. "Hunger is certainly almost an exclusive symptom of poverty. And extra obesity is one of the symptoms of poverty."



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:06:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What, what?

Shouldn't fat people who have too little to eat lose weight and stop being fat, automatically?

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

by Starvid on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 05:33:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google "food deserts". Not the complete answer, but a significant part of it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 15th, 2010 at 12:45:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Human cells exhibit foraging behavior like amoebae and bacteria

ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2010) -- When cells move about in the body, they follow a complex pattern similar to that which amoebae and bacteria use when searching for food, a team of Vanderbilt researchers has found.

The discovery has a practical value for drug development: Incorporating this basic behavior into computer simulations of biological processes that involve cell migration, such as embryo development, bone remodeling, wound healing, infection and tumor growth, should improve the accuracy with which these models can predict the effectiveness of untested therapies for related disorders, the researchers say.

"As far as we can tell, this is the first time this type of behavior has been reported in cells that are part of a larger organism," says Peter T. Cummings, John R. Hall Professor of Chemical Engineering, who directed the study that is described in the March 10 issue of the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE.

The discovery was the unanticipated result of a study the Cummings group conducted to test the hypothesis that the freedom with which different cancer cells move -- a concept called motility -- could be correlated with their aggressiveness: That is, the faster a given type of cancer cell can move through the body the more aggressive it is.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:18:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New synagogue opens in German town after 70 years | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 14.03.2010
A new synagogue was opened to the public in a city in western Germany this Sunday. The last synagogue in Herford closed during Adolf Hitler's rule of Germany. 

After over 70 years, the city of Herford has an official Jewish place of worship once again. The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Juergen Ruettgers, and the president of the Germany's Central Council of Jews, Charlotte Knobloch, celebrated along with the congregation at the opening ceremony.

"I hope for you - and for us all - that Jewish life here in North Rhine-Westphalia bears fruit - that it is present, changes, initiates change, and invigorates," Rüttgers said.

"We must, and we will, do everything to ensure there is never another Auschwitz."

Charlotte Knobloch said how Jewish history in Herford stretches back seven centuries, although after the holocaust only a handful of the roughly 200 former inhabitants returned.

The former synagogue was destroyed during "Kristallnacht" ("the Night of Broken Glass") on November 9, 1938, one of the Nazis' most widespread and brutal single purges on Jewish society within Germany.

NB: AFAIK, "Kristallnacht" is today often referred to as "Pogrommnacht".

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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:29:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Eichmann Files: Classified Documents Could Be Released after 50 Years - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Fifty years after Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann's arrest by the Israeli Mossad in Argentina, basic details about his 15 years as a fugitive remain a government secret. The files kept by Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, remain classified today -- allegedly for reasons of national security. A German journalist is now suing in a federal court for the release of the files.

Fifty years have passed since Adolf Eichmann's arrest, but the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, is still hoping to prevent the release of files detailing his post-war movements. A Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig is currently examining almost 4,500 pages of secret documents on Eichmann, a leading architect of Hitler's plans to murder Europe's Jews. The court is soon expected to rule whether the BND's justifications for concealing the files are still applicable and in line with the country's freedom of information laws.

The court is using closed "in camera" proceedings in which the three judges considering the case are the only people with access to the files.

"What's especially interesting is the sheer amount of paperwork that the government is concealing," says lawyer Remo Clinger, whose law firm Geulen & Klinger is representing German journalist Gabriele Weber in her case before the Leipzig court.

According to paperwork filed with the court, the BND maintains that secrecy is necessary because much of the information contained in the files was provided by an unnamed "foreign intelligence service." If the information were released, the BND argues, it would deter other nations from sharing intelligence with Germany in the future. "It would adversely affect future cooperations between foreign intelligence services and German security agencies," the agency's lawyers argue. The fact that the files are classified has prompted considerable speculation over the origins of the intelligence. The BND has clarified that the intelligence did not come from an American source, and it is widely assumed that it came from Israel's Mossad, whose agents captured Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960. He was subsequently brought to trial in Israel, where he was convicted and hanged.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fibre rates inequity iniquity | trefor.net
The Digital Dales Colloquium was held at Timico HQ in Newark on Friday and packed out the main lecture theatre. With the focus of how to get rural areas onto the internet much of the meeting was spent debating the lack of level playing field when it comes to bidding for projects that involve European funding.

From a third party perspective BT appears to have much of this stitched up because their existing deal on rates paid for their network infrastructure is based on a volume play. This means that BT can assume lower costs for fibre runs where new market entrants putting fibre in the ground perhaps for the first time incur much higher charges.

The chart below, pinched from network provider Vtesse Networks MD Aidan Paul's presentation, shows how the rates applied to fibre vary depending on how many fibres you have in the ground on a given route.



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 Mar 15th, 2010 at 09:00:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Howard Kurtz - The Beck Factor at Fox: Staffers say comments taint their work - washingtonpost.com
In just over a year, Glenn Beck's blinding burst of stardom has often seemed to overshadow the rest of Fox News.

And that may not be a good thing for the top-rated cable news channel, as many of its staffers are acutely aware.

With his celebrity fueled by a Time cover story, best-selling books, cheerleading role at protest rallies and steady stream of divisive remarks, Beck is drawing big ratings. But there is a deep split within Fox between those -- led by Chairman Roger Ailes -- who are supportive, and many journalists who are worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network.

By calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a "cancer," Beck has achieved a lightning-rod status that is unusual even for the network owned by Rupert Murdoch. And that, in turn, has complicated the channel's efforts to neutralize White House criticism that Fox is not really a news organization. Beck has become a constant topic of conversation among Fox journalists, some of whom say they believe he uses distorted or inflammatory rhetoric that undermines their credibility.



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 Mar 15th, 2010 at 10:35:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 01:52:56 PM EST
Fernando Alonso and Ferrari spoil the Schumacher party | Sports | Deutsche Welle | 14.03.2010
On the day of Michael Schumacher's return to Formula One, it was his old rival Fernando Alonso who rolled back the years. Just like in 2005 and 2006, the Spaniard spoiled Schumacher's party in Bahrain. 

The spotlight might have been on Michael Schumacher's return to Formula One and his new Mercedes GP team, but it was Schumi's former employer Ferrari that took the spoils at the first race in Bahrain.

Schumacher's old adversary Fernando Alonso - making his debut for the Scuderia - came in first, with his teammate Felipe Massa second. Massa was making a comeback of his own, after sustaining serious head and eye injuries in a freak accident midway through last season, which sidelined him for the rest of the year.

2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton rounded out the podium for McLaren Mercedes.

Fourth-placed Sebastian Vettel looked like the winner for most of the race, having led from pole position. But in the closing stages he radioed in to the pits with the message, "there's a loss of power, loss of power." 



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 02:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US private-equity group bids to take controlling stake in Liverpool | Football | guardian.co.uk

Liverpool are in talks with a private-equity firm, the Rhone Group, over a £118.5m deal to buy a controlling share of the club and halve their debts.

It is understood the investment group wants a 40% stake at Anfield, which would considerably strengthen the club's financial position.

The Rhone Group's bid would give it the controlling interest, with the current joint-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett reducing their shareholdings to 30% apiece.



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 Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 03:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Mission: Impossible star Peter Graves dies aged 83

Peter Graves - star of the classic TV series Mission: Impossible and disaster spoof movie Airplane! - has died in the US city of Los Angeles. He was 83.

The actor had a suspected heart attack outside his home after a meal with his family, about a week before his 84th birthday, said publicist Sandy Brokaw.

Graves was perhaps best known for his role as special agent Jim Phelps in the popular TV series Mission: Impossible.

He also played bungling pilot Clarence Oveur in the 1980 film Airplane!.



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 Mar 15th, 2010 at 08:48:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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