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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 8 March

by Fran Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 04:40:03 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1936 Birth of Gbor Szab, a Hungarian jazz guitarist, famous for mixing jazz, pop-rock and his native Hungarian music. (d. 1982)

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The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 11:47:19 AM EST
German minister says headscarf ban could backfire | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 07.03.2010
Following calls in several European countries to ban Islamic head-to-toe veils, Germany's interior minister said he was "cautious" about the idea of outlawing headscarves in the face of a possible backlash. 

"The more that we try to repress symbols of other religions in public life, the more the danger grows that there will be successful attacks on Christian symbols in public, everyday life," Thomas de Maiziere told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The minister, who is a member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU), said that he would have no problem with a female worker in his ministry wearing a headscarf as an expression of religious belief.

But if the headscarf was being used to express an aggressive stance "that sets itself against what a federal interior ministry represents," Maziere said it should be forbidden.

According to the CDU politician, the decisions should be based on whether the behavior and appearance of an employee was "appropriate."

He added that the same principles on what is correct should be applied as they would be to the wearing of flip-flops or Hawaiian shirts.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:12:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Government shuts out Islamist organization from integration talks | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 05.03.2010
The German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, has excluded the Islam Council from the next round of talks, saying it is dominated by militant Turkish nationalists. 

The next round of integration talks between the government and representatives of Muslim communities, scheduled for May 17, will now take place without the participation of the Islam Council.

The suspension follows the launch of an investigation concerning major tax fraud against the leaders of Milli Gorus, an organisation accused of promoting a fundamentalist brand of Islam. With 27,000 members, it is the dominant force within the Islam Council.

"The charges are so serious," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, "that I cannot sit at the same table as these people."

In a statement issued on Friday, the leadership of the Islam Council rejected the suspension, and said the Council would withdraw from the talks altogether.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:16:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Islam for the Diaspora: Importing Germany's Imams - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

With Germany lacking schools of Islamic theology, Muslim congregations have long imported religious leaders. As Germany considers steps to create more homegrown imams, countries like Turkey -- which sends state-employed imams to Europe to serve large segments of the Turkish diaspora -- are filling the gap.

It was impossible to tell that the men who gathered in a German language class one frigid winter morning in Ankara, Turkey were Islamic religious leaders. They wore suits, or plaid button-up shirts, and could have easily passed for office workers or graduate students as they worked over phrases of German in their course book.

"Birgit Deichmann still searches," one man in a grey suit read aloud. He stroked his black mustache with a look of befuddlement. "What is a Deichmann?" he asked the instructor. Deichmann, she explained, was just a German last name, the name of the person still searching.

His question indicated the degree of culture shock that lay ahead. These men, who hail mostly from the villages and cities of Anatolia, would in the next several months depart for Germany to serve four years as imams, leaders of Muslim congregations in mosques throughout the country. From their classroom at the Goethe Institute in Ankara, where through the windows the students could behold the white and grey minarets of Ankara's Kocatepe Mosque soaring to such heights that the towers seemed to hang from the clear blue heavens, German society seemed like a distant notion. Most of the imams, in fact, had never visited Germany, much less held a conversation with anyone with a last name like Deichmann.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:42:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Free University in Amsterdam is very close to starting the first Dutch Bachelor - Masters degree to imam. The University in Leiden also is busy with setting up a Masters degree.

There are now at least three schools, of which two academic universities, which provide a course to become a qualified imam in the Netherlands. This is a direct effect of the 2004 murder on film-maker Theo van Gogh, which resulted in a 2008 decision that only imams educated in the Netherlands can operate.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:14:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are Theology degrees as important in the Netherlands as they are in Germany, for the Christian priesthood?

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't speak for the Catholic church, but for the two largest Calvinist groups (both in English called Reformed, but with a moderate and an orthodox flank) theology degrees are a necessity before becoming a priest in the Netherlands.
by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So... nothing to see here, really?

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:25:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Queen and Tony Blair dragged into Michael Ashcroft peerage row | Politics | The Observer

The row over Lord Ashcroft's donations to the Tory party threatened to erupt into a full-blown constitutional crisis last night as questions were raised over whether the Queen and the former prime minister, Tony Blair, had granted him a peerage under false pretences.

As David Cameron's aides confirmed that Ashcroft would be retiring as Tory deputy chairman after the election, the Liberal Democrats called on the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, to publish all documents relating to the peerage as a matter of urgency, so that it could be established whether the sovereign had been misled.

In a letter to O'Donnell, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Lord Oakeshott, said that, given the "overwhelming public interest" in how the Tories' biggest donor came to be elevated to the Lords, it was vital "to establish whether the Queen conferred a life peerage... under false pretences".

The monarch confers honours mostly on the advice of the Cabinet Office and the prime minister. Ashcroft's declaration last week that he was a "non-dom" has been seen to contradict "clear and unequivocal" assurances given to the then Tory leader, William Hague, that he would take up permanent residence in the UK before the end of 2000. This assurance was seen as crucial. Members of Blair's inner circle suggest the former prime minister now feels he has been misled.

"Hague told Tony that Ashcroft would pay huge amounts of tax," said a source. "That was the deal. That was what we all understood at the time."

But following discussions between the then Tory chief whip, James Arbuthnot, and Sir Hayden Phillips, head of the Crown Office, who signed off the peerage, Ashcroft claims it was agreed he would only become a "long-term resident of the UK", which would allow him to keep his non-dom status.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:19:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the advantages of "minor" parties! The Liberals can cry "Poor QE2! So vilely mislead by these contemptible Tories!" Would Labor have ever made that charge? The Ashcroft affair keeps getting better and badder.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 10:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The gift that keeps on giving. ;-)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:36:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tories red-faced after 'Samantha for Labour' gaffe | Politics | The Guardian

David Cameron's aides found themselves performing an unusual damage-limitation exercise when they were forced to deny claims that the Conservative leader's wife, Samantha Cameron, might be voting Labour.

The unlikely allegation came from Ed Vaizey, the Tory arts spokesman and - at least until yesterday - a trusted member of the Cameron inner circle.

One insider said last night that Vaizey was "in the doghouse".

Vaizey made his comment in a Channel 4 programme about Cameron being broadcast tomorrow night which also identifies Samantha as the person who coined the phrase used frequently by Cameron: "There is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state."



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 7th, 2010 at 04:39:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what? Schwarzenegger's wife is a Democrat.

But anything that keeps the Tories from controlling the message in this election campaign is good news.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 04:49:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The term "democrat" is disingenuous when applied to American dynasties. Lets say she ascribes herself to the right, and he, he...
by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:40:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the Tories purposely throwing the election?

I ask since, from this side of the pond, the whole thing has gotten ridiculous.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't think they are, it just looks like it.

The problem for them is that for 18 months or so they've gotten away with selling that nice Mr Cameron with the sweet wife and adorable kids (plus unmentioned grief over baby death).

now they've entered the bit where the political bit about what they really believe and what they intend to do comes to the fore. And suddenly all of the vague wishy washy stuff they've been getting away with for the last 18 months isn't working, in fact becomes counter-productive. It's becoming quite obvious that they didn't do their policy homework during this time. They really thought they could just breeze in to the election without giving anything away about their plans and it would be alright.

More fool them. Good. Much as I hate NuLab, the tories are far worse.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:41:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They sabotaged their own 2005 campaign as well, with that atrocious Are you thinking what you're thinking where what they were thinking were heartless ugly party slogans.

It's almost as if, when it comes right down to it, the Tories can't help revealing they are bastards and the voters know they really would be a disaster for ordinary people.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:00:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
they used to represent crusty empah values, now this modern version, empah-less, looks cruelly redundant.

why, oh why is the brit electorate so hooked on the tory/lab binary?

when i think of how hard it is in america to fly a decent, electorally credible third party, and i see in the UK the work has been done, why don't more vote more for it, if for no other reason than it's not the tweedle dyad.

it's not like they don't have better ideas, they just have a 'fail' aura about them, like it's a foregone conclusion they'll always be stuck at the symbolic, politically powerless level.
 

'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 Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:49:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why, oh why is the brit electorate so hooked on the tory/lab binary?

Because the Brits haven't got a proportional system.

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

by Starvid on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:14:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The original SDP were personally responsible for Thatcher's extended reign. Splitting from Old Lab castrated the party and made it impossible for them to win, even when many, many people had had enough of Her Iron Botoxiness.

The original Libs were the party of Jeremy Thorpe, who remains the only significant British pol in recent history to be put on trial for attempting to murder a lover. (Did he also fiddle his expenses?)

So the fail is strong with them.

It's not that they're disreputable - it's that currently they're not nearly disreputable enough.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this is an evil plot by evil anglo-saxon speculators to get a hung parliament or some other form of instability/gridlock/political paralysis and speculate against the pound and against UK public debt? There are rich pickings...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:18:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
J dons the tinfoil hat. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:15:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
National Referendum: A Sad Day For Democracy in Iceland

Tomorrow is the first national referendum Icelandic citizens have been allowed to participate in by the political elite since the conception of the republic in 1944. By all measures, this should be a happy day for democracy in Iceland.

But instead it is not a cause for celebration but a large milestone in the farcical power play which has taken place between the four largest political movements in Iceland since 1944.

Yes, a farce. "Isn`t that what this whole thing really is", asked a Dutch journalist yesterday after surveying the scene? It is a sad day.

The media has a lot to answer for

The media has a lot to answer for. Instead of allowing people like law professor Bryndis Hlodversdottir and political science professor Svanur Kristjansson to explain to the nation why this isn't good democracy, the media has instead handed the microphones to red-faced, unbalanced Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, chairman of the Progressive Party whose political career has revolved around kicking up as much mess as possible around IceSave. It makes for a better TV than a balanced approach and it creates pressure on the government he opposes.



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Enemy Reveals Himself

With a smug grin he revealed last night and today what he had wanted all along. It wasn't a national referendum on IceSave. It was for the government he opposes to resign.

Steingrimur J. Sigfusson asked the nation how it thought an agreement could be made with a saboteur on our very own negotiating team.

Of course Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, chairman of the Progressive Party and founder of the InDefence pressure group would never have dreamt up a more favorable situation. Half of the nation had bought his spin and handed him the spin necessary to demand a clear path to the power tables. Preferably before the congressional report on the economic crash due out soon.

I hate to say I told you so, but I did and Icelanders were played by a snake oil salesman and too many of them bought it. He has divided the nation and now humbly offers to lead it from distress.

The enemy does not have Iceland's interests at heart. It is all about the money (did we mention how he became a billionaire through an unholy alliance of politics and business) and the mandate to lead Iceland during these turmoilous times when the wealth and debts of the nation are distributed.

Iceland's enemy number one has revealed himself and his name is Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm...
Huffington Post: IceSave Agreement: Just Sign It! (Iris Erlingsdottir, January 2 2010)
Tens of thousands of investors--individuals, municipalities, and charities--took advantage of the exceptionally high rates offered on Landbanki's IceSave savings accounts, only to discover that these accounts were not formally backed by any government. Landsbanki officials had inexplicably failed to register as a domestic bank in either country, and thus were not backed by government deposit insurance. When Landsbanki went into receivership on October 7th, British authorities invoked anti-terror legislation on October 8th to freeze Landsbanki's assets there.
(my emphasis) WTF!?
... Ólafur Ragnar should sign the bill because it's the right thing to do, and because the consequences of rejection would be disastrous.

...

[If the bill is not signed] the current government would almost certainly fall, and any chance at reasonable reform would die. The conservative Independence Party that ran Iceland until the collapse would retake power and restart the party. The businessmen whose reckless actions placed the county in danger would return with the illicit funds they've placed in off-shore accounts and buy Iceland's resources for a song.

Most importantly, the new government would take whatever steps necessary to ensure that these culprits never see the inside of a jail cell. The investigation of the misdeeds that led to Iceland's collapse has proceeded very methodically, and the special prosecutor now appears on the cusp of indicting some of the Independence Party's biggest supporters. If the investigators are allowed to continue, we'll see whether the rumors of money laundering for the Russian mafia are true, whether vast amounts of money are indeed sitting in Tortola, whether bank employees exploited pension funds with same glee that Enron employees exhibited while ripping off California consumers, and whether our politicians and regulators were bribable.
...

By signing it, Ólafur Ragnar would ensure that the new government would be able to finish what it has started--a thorough investigation into the events that led to our fall. Unless Eva Joly and Ólafur Þór Hauksson are permitted to complete their task, not only will the wrongdoers escape justice, but we will show them that there are no adverse consequences for their incompetence and malfeasance.

This raises the question of who is behind the InDefence group that started the petition against the Icesave law.


En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:40:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Landsbanki officials had inexplicably failed to register as a domestic bank in either country

?

If our Credit Union had pulled this crap as President my head would have been on a spike outside the state banking regulators building.  And rightfully so.

The more I learn the more the story exists in bizarro-world.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From The Market Ticker:
    Iceland: Now Finish The Job

The bankers, with superior knowledge and all their grand mathematical models, took a bet.

The bet was that they could intentionally make bad loans and intentionally fail to disclose risks, and if the bet turned out poorly the people, who did not consent to be stooges, would bail them out.

Iceland's people have said no.

by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:13:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic Disaster Area: What Is Going On In Norway? (October 10th, 2009)
What on earth are Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and Hoskuldur Thorhallsson of the Progressive Party, doing in Norway?

The official spin is that they are explaining the economic situation in Iceland, and perhaps fishing for a loan without IMF's conditions.

But why are two managers of a failed Icelandic hedge fund in the podium with them? Boreas Capital which has ties with Landsbankinn and is run by close friends of Bjorgolfur Thor.

And why is the hedge fund registered at the same address as an investment company owned by Sigmundur David's father?



En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deadly earthquake strikes eastern Turkey | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 08.03.2010
A 6.0 magnitude earthquake shook eastern Turkey on Monday. At least 38 are reported to have been killed, with dozens of others injured. 

At least 38 people are reportedly dead after a powerful earthquake shook eastern Turkey on Monday.

The 6.0 magnitude quake centered on the village of Basyurt in Elazig province. It was followed by 20 aftershocks, the strongest measuring 4.1.

Bekir Yanilmaz, the mayor of the town of Kovancilar, was quoted on television saying at least 38 people died in three villages in the region.  The Disaster and Emergency Adminstration had earlier given the official toll at 20, with 60 people injured.

Mud-brick houses

Much of the population of the region lives in mud-brick houses built on hillsides, reports said.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
surely this is way more earthquakes than 'normal', (pace Colman)?

anecdotal...

'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 Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:52:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or just a random cluster. It's very hard to tell without analysing it properly.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:54:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is perfectly normal. These have been large quakes, spread out over two months, all situated at well known locations of plate boundaries with converging stress buildup and with a historic record of severe quakes.

Three earthquakes per week all larger than 8.5 magnitude randomly distributed across the globe, that would be abnormal. And yet not -entirely- unlikely.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have any data on what is "surely more than 'normal'"?

Last time we run that exercise (for Chile) there was nothing abnormal.

...

The Year v. Magnitude plot is interesting. First, historical earthquakes (before 1900) are all Magnitude 8.5 or stronger. Also, 5 of them earthquakes are exactly 8.5 magnitude, 4 of them before 1900. This is because historical magnitudes are estimated from accounts of the damage and not from seismograph measurements. Also, earthquakes weaker than 8.5 "didn't make history". So there is a selection bias in the old data, similar to the ones one find in astrophysics where the farther out one looks the bighter an objects needs to be to be seen.

...

In fact, the magnitude 8.5 earthquakes look almost periodic.

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Magnitude 6 earthquakes are a dime a dozen, if I'm not mistaken...

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeedy...

USGS: Earthquake Facts and Statistics

Frequency of Occurrence of Earthquakes

Magnitude  Annually  
8+                1 *
7 - 7.9          17 *  
6 - 6.9         134 *  
5 - 5.9       1,319 *
4 - 4.9      13,000 (estimated)
3 - 3.9     130,000 (estimated)
2 - 2.9   1,300,000 (estimated)
* Based on observations since 1900.


En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:43:08 AM 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 t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 11:48:58 AM EST
Germany to push for fund to strengthen eurozone stability | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 07.03.2010
Germany's finance minister has called for the creation of a European equivalent to the International Monetary Fund to help eurozone countries like Greece deal with a crippling debt crisis. 

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told weekly Welt am Sonntag newspaper the eurozone needs a new institution to safeguard the stability of the monetary union.

 

"We are not planning an institution in competition with the International Monetary Fund but for the internal structure of the eurozone we need an institution that commands the experience of the IMF and similar executive powers," Schaeuble said in an interview published on Sunday, March 7. "I will make proposals on this soon."

 

The minister's comments came in direct response to the aftermath of the Greek debt crisis, echoing similar statements this week from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in Brussels.

 

Schaeuble, however, ruled out any direct help by the IMF for Greece beyond technical assistance.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Companies / Financial Services - Taxman loses as dividends spring forward

From Rio Tinto, the multinational miner, to Just Car Clinics, the Aim-quoted vehicle repair group, companies large and small have been bringing forward their dividend pay-out schedules to help their wealthy shareholders keep the taxman at bay.

At least 28 companies in the FTSE 350 have announced changes as results season has gathered pace in recent weeks - and brokers expect more to follow over the next fortnight.

The total amount of dividend income that has been brought forward by large and mid-cap companies now stands at £1.18bn ($1.79bn), according to Financial Times research. The figure does not include small cap or ­private companies.

In many cases, directors own a substantial chunk of the equity in these ­companies.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steel, cement to cash free emission permit billions | EurActiv

he ten companies holding the largest number of surplus emission allowances under the EU's cap-and-trade system stand to make a profit of 3.2 billion euros in the 2008-2012 trading period, according to a new analysis of EU data. Background

The EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) has since 2005 required some 10,000 large industrial plants in the EU to buy and sell permits to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The first trading phase saw a gross over-allocation of permits, sending carbon prices tumbling. The number of permits was slashed by 10% for the second phase between 2008-2012, but the global downturn and its accompanying drop in production has pushed prices down.

To correct the problems, a revision of the scheme for the third trading period starting in 2013 was agreed in December 2008, tightening the emission cap to 21% below 2005 levels. Under the revised scheme, electricity producers will need to buy 100% of their CO2 emission permits at auction by 2020.

The research, published on 3 March by climate NGO Sandbag, compared the emissions allowances that different companies had received under the EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) with their actual emissions. It found that the overly generous free allocation of permits, compounded by a drop in production following the global downturn, had added significant assets to many companies' books.

According to the report, steel giant ArcelorMittal alone could cash over €1 billion from unused EU allowances by 2020. Taken together, the top ten companies, dominated by steel and cement firms, shared 35 million surplus permits in 2008, worth around €500 million at current carbon prices.

Sandbag warned that the large profits made by a few companies "raise questions as to whether EU companies are operating within a level playing field". It pointed out that the surplus permits held by steel and cement companies were counterbalanced by the power sector, which is required to deliver the majority of emissions reductions under the trading scheme.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:44:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / China - China hints at dropping dollar peg

China's central bank chief laid the groundwork at the weekend for an eventual appreciation of his country's currency when he described the current dollar peg as a temporary measure. His comments striking a more emollient tone after several months of tough opposition in Beijing to a shift in exchange rate policy will be welcomed in Washington.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, gave the strongest hint yet from a senior official that China will abandon the unofficial dollar peg in place since mid-2008 which he said was a "special" policy designed to weather the financial crisis.

"This is a part of our package of policies for dealing with the global financial crisis," he said at a press conference on Saturday. "Sooner or later, we will exit the policies."

Mr Zhou's comments contrasted with recent Chinese comments on its currency policy as international criticism that the renminbi is undervalued has gathered steam. In late December, Premier Wen Jiabao said "we will not yield to any pressure of any form forcing us to appreciate." Chinese officials have repeatedly emphasized the need for a stable exchange rate

However, while the recent increase in consumer prices in China has strengthened the hand of those officials who think the currency should now rise, it is not clear that this argument has yet won over the country's senior leaders.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:50:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This Week in Chart Pr0n! Average Weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefit by State

If you're unemployed in MA or HI and now collecting fed emergency UE benefits, 52wks @ $425 will gross ya $22,100. That's 100% Federal poverty level for 4-person HH! But @ $300, or $15,600 for 4, not quite Medicaid-eligible territory in WI! Table here, courtesy of WI Budget Project. BadgerCare --200% FPL! (Note that states' means testing for income assistance is based on reported gross, not net; WI proposes adjusted gross income formula for self-employed HH heads to calculate premia.) My bad: Hobo House and Wildlife Conservatory current annual income is 143% not 120% of FPL. wow. I need to rob a bank or something.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 10:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]

NB: "Non-disabled childless adults are not included in the categories of people states can cover through Medicaid under current federal rules, regardless of their income. As such, states can only provide coverage to low-income childless adults through a Medicaid waiver or a fully state-funded program" or other state coverage strategies such as purchasing pools, reinsurance programs, or changes in insurance market regulations.

House bill creates Medicaid category for nondisabled childless adults 0-150% FPL, 2013

Baucus bill creates Medicaid category for nondisabled childless adults 0-133% FPL, 2014

::

as compared to House bill (Medicaid and commercial "exchange" traded plans)
premium cap 0-150% FPL: 3% of HH income; 151-200% FPL: 5.5% of HH income

as compared to Baucus bill
premium cap 0-134% FPL: 4% of HH income; 135-200% FPL: 6.3% of HH income

::

Subsidies or "affordability credits" for co-pays and annual deductible, Essential Benefits plan(s)

as compared to House bill
0-400% FPL eligible
OOP limit per annum: $5,000/$10,000

as compared to Baucus bill
0-200% FPL eligible
OOP limit per annum: $5,950/$11,900


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 11:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
common Japanese expression: "If it stinks, put a lid on it (臭い物に蓋 Kusai mono ni futa)"

common Chinese expression: "Put a lid on it and it just gets stinkier (慾蓋彌彰 Yùgàimízhāng)"

Toyota Owners Report Problems in Japan to No Avail - NYTimes.com

... Critics say many companies benefit from Japan's weak consumer protections. (The country has only one full-time automobile recall investigator, supported by 15 others on limited contracts.)

In a case in the food industry, a meat processor called Meat Hope collapsed in 2008 after revelations that it had mixed pork, mutton and chicken bits into products falsely labeled as pure ground beef, all under the noses of food inspectors.

A 2006 police inquiry into gas water heaters made by the manufacturer Paloma found that a defect had resulted in the deaths of 21 people over 10 years from carbon monoxide poisoning.

<...>

The most active was the Japan Automobile Consumers Union, led by Fumio Matsuda, a former Nissan engineer often referred to as the Ralph Nader of Japan. But the automakers fought back with a campaign discrediting the activists as dangerous agitators. Mr. Matsuda and his lawyer were soon arrested and charged with blackmail. They fought the charges to Japan's highest court, but lost.

Now, few people are willing to take on the country's manufacturers at the risk of arrest, Mr. Matsuda said in a recent interview. "The state sided with the automakers, not the consumers," he said. ...



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 11:18:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet, amazingly enough, the food here is fresher and safer, by far, than most of what's available in the states.  The eggs and meat are safely edible raw.
by Zwackus on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the eggs in the states not edible raw? Or are they just not eaten raw.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:42:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you implying antibiotics shall be cook before ingested?  
by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most, if not all, animal food products in the US come with clear, serious warnings about potential poisoning if they are not thoroughly and completely cooked.  There is a chance that anything will be contaminated by salmonella or e coli.

Whether correctly or not, Americans in urban areas tend to grow up with the impression that raw food is dangerous, and that even something like eggs sunny-side up, or rare steak, can be life-threatening.

In part, I think this is a way to let American food industry off the hook for their lax cleanliness and safety procedures.  In part, I think this is part of the deliberate campaign to make Americans scared of basic food stuffs, and to make them forget what real food tastes like.  When a whole generation is raised thinking Chef Boyardee tastes good, they're less likely to learn how to cook for themselves.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:32:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most, if not all, animal food products in the US come with clear, serious warnings about potential poisoning if they are not thoroughly and completely cooked.

That's a typical cover-yer-ass disclaimer to fend off lawsuits.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:42:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but from my own personal experience, they are pretty widely believed.
by Zwackus on Tue Mar 9th, 2010 at 01:46:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, what are you going to do if your food packaging tells you the food is dangerous if eaten raw?

It is preferable (but not for agribusiness) to have more stringent food safety regulations et the level of food production and processing so people can eat things without nuking them out of all flavour.

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa 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 Mar 9th, 2010 at 01:51:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back in the US I could buy raw milk from the stupormarket, but it hasn't really taken off here in OZ.  We can buy it at the farmer's market, but for legal reasons it says 'for cosmetic use only'.  We figure that intestines are just skin on the inside :)  I switched to raw milk in the US because it doesn't give me indigestion unlike the conventional stuff, although australian conventional milk doesn't either.  No idea why.
by njh on Tue Mar 9th, 2010 at 03:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Charles Hugh Smith - oftwominds.com
    When Debt-Junkies Go Broke, So Do Mercantilist Pushers


China, Japan and Germany are the mercantilist "pushers," the nations which are structurally dependent on exports for their growth and profits.

The U.S., the U.K., and the "PIIG" countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece) are debt-junkies, endlessly borrowing vast sums to enable their addiction to public "Saviour State" spending and private consumption.


by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paul Krugman - An Irish Mirror for the Financial Crisis | NYTimes.com
"Almost all the apparent causal factors of the U.S. crisis are missing in the Irish case," and vice versa. Yet the shape of Ireland's crisis was very similar: a huge real estate bubble -- prices rose more in Dublin than in Los Angeles or Miami -- followed by a severe banking bust that was contained only via an expensive bailout.

<...>

The authors of the new study suggest four "'deep' causal factors."

First, there was irrational exuberance... <...>

Second, there was a huge inflow of cheap money. <...>

Third, key players had an incentive to take big risks, because it was heads they win, tails someone else loses. <...>

But the most striking similarity between Ireland and America was "regulatory imprudence": the people charged with keeping banks safe didn't do their jobs. <...>

So what can we learn from the way Ireland had a U.S.-type financial crisis with very different institutions? Mainly, that we have to focus as much on the regulators as on the regulations. <...>

That's why we need an independent agency protecting financial consumers -- again, something Canada did right -- rather than leaving the job to agencies that have other priorities. ...



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:31:36 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 t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:01:31 PM EST
Explosions Hit Baghdad as Iraqis Vote in Pivotal Election - NYTimes.com

BAGHDAD -- A concerted wave of attacks struck Baghdad and other cities across the country on Sunday as Iraqis voted to elect a new parliament and possibly a new prime minister. Explosions reverberated across the capital moments before the polls opened and continued through the morning haze for the first hours of voting.

At least 38 people were killed and dozens more wounded in Baghdad alone by the time polls officially closed there, the Interior Ministry reported.

Insurgents in Iraq had vowed to disrupt the election, and the attacks appeared timed to frighten voters away from polling sites. If that were the intent, it did not succeed entirely.

By late morning the attacks -- dozens of mortars, rockets and bombs -- had tapered off, and Iraqis lined up to vote, many of them expressing anger and determination.

"Everyone went," Maliq Bedawi, 45, who works at Baghdad International Airport, said as he waved his purple-stained finger. He stood outside the rubble of an apartment building that was struck and destroyed by what the police said was a Katyusha rocket. "They were defiant about what happened. Even people who didn't want to vote before, they went after this rocket."

Iraqis, he went on, "are not afraid of bombs anymore."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:22:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Informed Comment
Voting in Iraq began early Sunday, and turnout appeared to be heavy. The BBC analysis is that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition will do well enough at the polls to again form the government, partnering with other religious Shiite parties. According to the Iraqi constitution, the party or coalition list with the largest number of seats, even if it is not a majority, will be given the first opportunity to form a government.

Al-Maliki, however, may well have to pay a price for remaining prime minister, if he can manage to do so, since that outcome would certainly require that he make a post-election coalition with the Shiite religious parties of the National Iraqi Alliance. The latter include the Sadr Movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadr movement, said Saturday on the Iran-based al-Alam satellite channel that he would only support a prime ministerial candidate who agreed to accelerate the departure of the US from Iraq. Based on its performance in last year's provincial elections, the Sadr Movement could well get half of the seats gained by the National Iraqi Alliance; if Sadrists did that well, they could be essential to putting together the 51 percent al-Maliki (or any other prime minister) would need to govern. Scroll down to see a translation of Sadr's remarks, which are the first entry for Sunday below.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 01:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Enriches Companies Defying Its Policy on Iran - NYTimes.com

The federal government has awarded more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran, despite Washington's efforts to discourage investment there, records show.

That includes nearly $15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves.

For years, the United States has been pressing other nations to join its efforts to squeeze the Iranian economy, in hopes of reining in Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Now, with the nuclear standoff hardening and Iran rebuffing American diplomatic outreach, the Obama administration is trying to win a tough new round of United Nations sanctions.

But a New York Times analysis of federal records, company reports and other documents shows that both the Obama and Bush administrations have sent mixed messages to the corporate world when it comes to doing business in Iran, rewarding companies whose commercial interests conflict with American security goals.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clashes Kill Dozens in Central Nigeria - NYTimes.com

JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Clashes between Islamic pastoralists and Christian villagers killed more than 100 people near the central Nigerian city of Jos Sunday, where sectarian violence left hundreds dead in January, witnesses said.

The latest unrest in volatile central Nigeria comes at a difficult time, with acting President Goodluck Jonathan trying to assert his authority and the oil producing country's ailing leader Umaru Yar'Adua too sick to govern.

Villagers in Dogo Nahawa, just south of Jos, said Hausa-Fulani pastoralists from the surrounding hills attacked at about 3 a.m. (9 p.m. EST), shooting into the air before slashing those who came out of their homes with machetes.

"The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes," said Dogo Nahawa resident Peter Jang, women crying behind him.

A Reuters witness who visited the village counted around 100 bodies piled in the open air. Pam Dantong, medical director of Plateau State Hospital in Jos, showed reporters 18 corpses that had been brought from the village, some of them charred.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:27:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Clashes between Islamic pastoralists and Christian villagers killed more than 100 people near the central Nigerian city of Jos Sunday, where sectarian violence left hundreds dead in January, witnesses said.

What a piece of crap. After the red menace comes the Islamic menace. Oil rich Nigeria is doomed, crusaders are on the way.
by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
xurxo:
Oil rich Nigeria is doomed

Why?

by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 10:53:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the resource wars are moving from the Middle East to Africa; USAmerica is focusing on Africa, starting with all the Propaganda we have been feed about Sudan as a state falling into Al kiada (do not care to spell it right) hands. And Nigeria has all the "wrong" resources.
Tichaona Nhamoyebonde for globalresearch.ca:
    Africom - Latest U.S. Bid to Recolonise the Continent
    More articles about Africom
by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 11:59:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The trend with Africom bears some watching, sure, but the article already notes that the (influential) SADC bloc stood firm against any Africom bases, which should be a strong hint. Liberia is a shoe-in for Africom; Morocco is a faux democracy at best. It's not exactly substantial progress.

I don't see a single word on why Nigeria would be particularly "doomed".

I can't recall seeing much news/propaganda about Sudan becoming prey for Al Quaeda either. Do we read the same things? If you'd written Somalia, then perhaps I could agree.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 12:17:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am afraid Goldfinger did go to Sudan... or so thinks the Council on Foreign Relations:
    State Sponsors: Sudan

Does Sudan sponsor terrorism?

Despite increasing cooperation by Sudan, the U.S. State Department continues to formally designate it as a "state sponsor of terrorism." The State Department first labeled Sudan a sponsor of terrorism on August 12, 1993. Since then, the United States has accused Sudan of harbouring members of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Abu Nidal Organization, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, each classified as a terrorist organization.


Not that it matters, since it is all nothing more than Neo-liberal propaganda.
by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
   
Nigeria's oil curse


With an estimated 140 million people, Nigeria is Africa's most populous country. It is also the world's eighth largest exporter of petroleum, pumping billions of dollars worth of fuel into the global market. Yet most Nigerians live in grinding poverty, whether in the oil-rich Niger Delta or the bustling slums of Lagos, where people build makeshift shelters on stilts above fetid malarial swamps.

by xurxo on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 12:08:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This article doesn't tell anything particularly new about the situation in Nigeria... It is the status quo image of the country...
by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 12:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN envoy says Afghan strategy is too 'military-driven' | McClatchy

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Hours before boarding a flight out of Kabul, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide delivered a final warning Saturday as he wrapped up his two-year tenure as the top United Nations diplomat in Afghanistan.

"This year can become a year when negative trends are reversed, but it will require a tremendous effort and mobilization of political energy," Eide told a small women's conference. "So far, I do not see that mobilization of political energy . . . . If this does not happen, then I believe the negative trends ."

In his final weeks, Eide stepped up his push for political talks with the Taliban as the best way to end the eight-year-old war, and in his final press conference, he expressed concern that President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000-35,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan is coming without a concurrent political surge.

"I believe that the focus is too much on the military side and too little on the civilian side," Eide said. "And that our strategy has unfortunately been too much military-driven with a political agenda as an appendix to military strategy, instead of a political strategy being the basis for the military operations."

The State Department inspector general warned Friday that the Obama administration's political efforts in Afghanistan are hampered by a shortage of qualified personnel, a lack of housing and other problems that could disrupt its timetable for turning over full control of the country to the Afghan government.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:49:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What Exactly Is Holding Up Health-Care Reform? MIT's Gruber's Answer: Actuarial Value. - The Gaggle Blog - Newsweek.com

I have been following the health-care debate for much longer than I thought it would be possible, watching more C-Span than I had ever desired or thought possible. And, sometimes, I cannot help but wonder (cue Carrie Bradshaw voice-over here): What exactly are the House and the Senate fighting over? Why won't the House just pass the Senate bill and get this health-care reform effort done this week? Even after issuing a strong directive earlier today, Obama does not expect action until the end of the month. But the two bills have a broadly similar structure and the same goal: extend health insurance to more Americans. What is the holdup?

Two words: actuarial value.



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 7th, 2010 at 05:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What Exactly Is Holding Up Health-Care Reform? MIT's Gruber's Answer: Actuarial Value. - The Gaggle Blog - Newsweek.com
In nonwonk terms, actuarial value is what percent of health-care costs an average subscriber can expect to be on the hook for. An insurance plan with a 70 percent actuarial value, for example, can expect their insurance to pick up 70 percent of the tab and cover 30 percent themselves. Short story: lower actuarial value, higher cost for the policyholder.

And over on the Senate bill, the actuarial values of plans that low-income Americans would likely enroll in are consistently lower than those of the House. The midlevel health insurance in the Senate bill, the silver plan, has an actuarial value of 70 percent. The comparable House-side plan--the enhanced plan--has an actuarial value of 85 percent. And for all other tiers of plans--bronze through platinum on the Senate side; basic through premium plus in House language--the Senate bill would require consistently lower actuarial values. (If you want to get into the weeds how actuarial values effect different levels of low-income families, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has done an excellent job with two helpful reports here and here).


The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 10:50:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember, those are what Cap'n Barbosa called guide lines. Take a closer look at that newly insurable family's exposure implied by the actuarial tables.

To show how ridiculous this can be, using the same benefit guide (link above) for a family with a $10,000 deductible plan, the out-of-pocket maximum looks like it is $7,000, but it is actually $17,000 for In-Network services ($7,000 plus $10,000 deductible), plus $25,000 for Out-of-Network ($15,000 plus $10,000 deductible). In addition to this $42,000, the family must pay monthly premiums, all Out-of-Network costs in excess of the allowable charges, and any services that are not a benefit of the plan (no maternity benefits for a young family!).

Read more...

It's a pretty funny scenario, if you are a literate pirate.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 12:43:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Took me a while to recall the scuttlebutt on Gruber...

The Post described Gruber in 2007 as "possibly the party's most influential health-care expert and a voice of realism in its internal debates." How can a "voice of realism" claim that this is "a tax that's not a tax," one that affects "generous" plans? That statement was published only nineteen days after a paper in the influential journal Health Affairs (summarized here) disproved it. Using actual benefits data, the authors showed the tax would not target "generous" plans. Instead it would unfairly affect plans whose enrollees were older, worked in the wrong industry, or lived in an area where treatment costs are high. A leading actuary came to a similar conclusion.

...and Hacker.

Hacker's article for Slate bore the condescending title, "Better medicine: Fixing the left's health care prescription." The problem in need of "fixing," according to Hacker, was "the left's" support for single-payer. Hacker urged "the left" to support instead his proposal to "give employers the option of providing ... coverage to their workers through a new public program modeled after Medicare" or through the insurance industry, a proposal that would, by 2009, be called "the public option" for short.

I think a 6-part series qualifies for stalking, do you?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe' | BBC
The Lemba people of Zimbabwe and South Africa may look like their compatriots, but they follow a very different set of customs and traditions

They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones.

Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago.

It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which have confirmed their Semitic origin.

It's obviously to much to expect the BBC to know that, in the words of Wikipedia:
It is named after King David of ancient Israel; and its earliest known communal usage began in the Middle Ages, alongside the more ancient symbol of the menorah.
(I would guess that the Hindu Shatkona does back further than that, and maybe other cultures invented it independently).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 02:02:31 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 t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:01:48 PM EST
Snowball Earth: New evidence hints at global glaciation 716.5 million years ago

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2010) -- Geologists have found evidence that sea ice extended to the equator 716.5 million years ago, bringing new precision to a "snowball Earth" event long suspected to have taken place around that time.

Led by scientists at Harvard University, the team reports on its work in the journal Science. The new findings -- based on an analysis of ancient tropical rocks that are now found in remote northwestern Canada -- bolster the theory that our planet has, at times in the past, been ice-covered at all latitudes.

"This is the first time that the Sturtian glaciation has been shown to have occurred at tropical latitudes, providing direct evidence that this particular glaciation was a 'snowball Earth' event," says lead author Francis A. Macdonald, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard. "Our data also suggests that the Sturtian glaciation lasted a minimum of 5 million years."

The survival of eukaryotic life throughout this period indicates sunlight and surface water remained available somewhere on the surface of Earth. The earliest animals arose at roughly the same time, following a major proliferation of eukaryotes.

Even in a snowball Earth, Macdonald says, there would be temperature gradients on Earth and it is likely that ice would be dynamic: flowing, thinning, and forming local patches of open water, providing refuge for life.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:17:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the multi-cellular organisms only appeared around 600 million years ago. A snowball Earth might well kill all complex land-based life, and by causing anoxia in the oceans, a lot of ocean-based complex life as well.

It is theorised that there was a second snowball-Earth period 620 to 640 million years ago.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:10:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:

The survival of eukaryotic life throughout this period indicates sunlight and surface water remained available somewhere on the surface of Earth. The earliest animals arose at roughly the same time, following a major proliferation of eukaryotes

I don't really see how that follows - Eucaryotic life can survive on abyssal geothermal chimneys...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misres

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 09:16:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methane releases from Arctic shelf may be much larger and faster than anticipated

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2010) -- A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.

The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journal Science, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.

"The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world's oceans," said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF's International Arctic Research Center. "Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:21:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eek

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[ATinNM's Crystal Ball of Doom Technology]

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 05:42:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have seen the future

and it really, really, sucks.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is your palantir on fire?

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is your palantir planet on fire?

Fixed.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:54:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These types of investigations commonly find methane releasing. Atmospheric methane has to come from somewhere, otherwise the atmosphere will be depleted quickly.

The catch generally is that they've just begun monitoring something that was previously not monitored. In other words: There is little known about the baseline situation. Was there methane releasing in the sixties? The 1930s? The 1890s? The first of the present studies was done in 2003. Is the rate bigger than it was before - well, we can't say. There were no measurements before that time of that particular area, just assumptions.

Flux in, flux out. The only real indicator for increased methane fluxes to the atmosphere is the global atmospheric methane concentration, which showed an upward bump since 2007, after a decade of mysteriously stable values. And if I recall correctly, it wasn't even sure if the 2007/2008 bump was because of more methane coming into the atmosphere, or because rate of methane breakdown had slowed.

Figures for 2009 atmospheric methane are probably forthcoming soon, or may already have been released.

by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For some good news:

Stratospheric Water Vapor is a Global Warming Wild Card

A 10 percent drop in water vapor ten miles above Earth's surface has had a big impact on global warming, say researchers in a study published online January 28 in the journal Science. The findings might help explain why global surface temperatures have not risen as fast in the last ten years as they did in the 1980s and 1990s.

...

Since 2000, water vapor in the stratosphere decreased by about 10 percent. The reason for the recent decline in water vapor is unknown. The new study used calculations and models to show that the cooling from this change caused surface temperatures to increase about 25 percent more slowly than they would have otherwise, due only to the increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

An increase in stratospheric water vapor in the 1990s likely had the opposite effect of increasing the rate of warming observed during that time by about 30 percent, the authors found.

The more we learn the more we learn we have to learn more.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Aftermath of Ash Spill, a New Round of Challenges - NYTimes.com

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- More than a year after a Tennessee coal ash spill created one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind in United States history, the problem is seeping into several other states.

It began on Dec. 22, 2008, when a retaining pond burst at a coal-burning Tennessee Valley Authority power plant, spilling 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash across 300 acres into the Emory River and an affluent shoreline community near Knoxville. It was enough ash to cover a square mile five feet deep.

While the T.V.A.'s cleanup has removed much of the ash from the river, the arsenic- and mercury-laced muck or its watery discharge has been moving by rail and truck through three states to at least six sites. Some of it may end up as far away as Louisiana.

At stops along the route, new environmental concerns are popping up. The muck is laden with heavy metals linked to cancer, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency is considering declaring coal ash hazardous.

"I'm really concerned about my health," said James Gibbs, 53, a retiree who lives near a west-central Alabama landfill that is taking the ash. "I want to plant a garden. I'm concerned about it getting in the soil."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Growing low-oxygen zones in oceans worry scientists | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- Lower levels of oxygen in the Earth's oceans, particularly off the United States' Pacific Northwest coast, could be another sign of fundamental changes linked to global climate change, scientists say.

They warn that the oceans' complex undersea ecosystems and fragile food chains could be disrupted.

In some spots off Washington state and Oregon, the almost complete absence of oxygen has left piles of Dungeness crab carcasses littering the ocean floor, killed off 25-year-old sea stars, crippled colonies of sea anemones and produced mats of potentially noxious bacteria that thrive in such conditions.

Areas of hypoxia, or low oxygen, have long existed in the deep ocean. These areas -- in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans -- appear to be spreading, however, covering more square miles, creeping toward the surface and in some places, such as the Pacific Northwest, encroaching on the continental shelf within sight of the coastline.

"The depletion of oxygen levels in all three oceans is striking," said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

In some spots, such as off the Southern California coast, oxygen levels have dropped roughly 20 percent over the past 25 years. Elsewhere, scientists say, oxygen levels might have declined by one-third over 50 years.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:54:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

BG Says U.K. Forecast for Natural-Gas Demand Too Low

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- BG Group Plc said U.K. natural-gas demand will be 30 percent higher than government forecasts by 2020 as wind-energy projects are delayed and aging electricity plants close, requiring more gas-fired power generation.

"The projections from the U.K. government are based on an optimistic potential of renewables to deliver by 2020 and the installation of thousands of offshore wind turbines in particular," Roger Tucker, BG's senior vice president for Europe, said today at the Flame conference in Amsterdam.

Britain will consume 95 billion cubic meters of gas a year by 2020, about a third more than the government's forecast, he said.

The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change has said annual demand will be "managed down" to 73 billion cubic meters in 10 years time as offshore wind farms are built.

Britain, facing dwindling North Sea gas output and aging nuclear resources, has begun a $120 billion offshore wind program to help avert an energy shortfall and meet emission targets. RWE AG, Statoil ASA and Centrica Plc were among winners of wind-farm permits in the country's January licensing round, which is designed to add 32,200 megawatts of capacity.

"This is an engineering challenge equivalent to building eight channel tunnels in 10 years," Tucker said, referring to the 30-mile rail tunnel underneath the English Channel and citing Carbon Trust data.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:27:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that there have already been built the equivalent of several "channel tunnels" in wind-farms previously? Or am I wrong here?

Also, how can there be talk of "delays" of wind-energy projects, when the licensing rounds for the North Sea parks were just in January? Are these different wind-farms than the wind-farm projects in the North Sea?

by Nomad on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was wondering what the initials BG stood for. Something cool like the planetary colours Blue and Green?

But no. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that BG was a hand-me-down from British Gas.

BG Group - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BG Group's main business is exploration for and the extraction of natural gas, liquefied natural gas and to a lesser extent oil.

They couldn't possibly be spreading lies narratives in favour of their own interests, could they?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:24:55 AM 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 t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:02:13 PM EST
Germany will miss 2010 development aid target | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 07.03.2010
Germany's development minister Dirk Niebel has said Berlin will fail to meet its development aid targets for 2010. He also expressed doubt whether Germany would be able to increase aid to 0.7 percent of GDP by 2015. 

Dirk Niebel said the recently presented 2010 federal budget was 3.5 billion euros short of meeting the country's commitments of providing 0.51 percent of GDP for development aid. 6.1 billion euros have been allocated towards development aid this year. That's an increase of 250 million euros on 2009.

Germany's ruling coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats passed its first budget last Friday. It sees Berlin taking on a record 80.2 billion euros in new debt.

Given the massive borrowings, any subsequent increases for development aid programs are unlikely.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:13:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German movie 'The White Ribbon' in running for Oscar | Culture & Lifestyle | Deutsche Welle | 07.03.2010
As Hollywood celebrates the Oscars with all the usual glitz and glamour, German movie "The White Ribbon" is a contender for best foreign language film. It's been a good year for German-speaking actors and filmmakers. 

As the cinema world gets ready to celebrate the Hollywood's biggest night of the year, the team behind German-made movie "The White Ribbon" is hoping for success.

The film, known as "Das Weisse Band" in German, was among the front runners to pick up two Academy Awards; one for best foreign language film and the other for best cinematography.

It has already picked up a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival as well as a Golden Globe Award.

A bleak, black and white drama by Munich-born director Michael Haneke, "The White Ribbon" tells the story of life in a rural German community in the years before World War One.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:15:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Culture of Steel: Germany's Ruhr Valley Looks Back to Its Future - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

In little more than 170 years, Germany's Ruhr Valley saw the rise and fall of an entire industry. With high unemployment and idle factories, the region is now hoping culture can help it get back on track.

When Joachim Seifert talks about his life, he begins in 1864, "Anno 1864," as he says. His concise, pithy sentences are peppered with anachronisms and the regional pronunciations of a bygone era. He pronounces the German word for "day" (Tag) as Tach, and the word for mountain (Berg) as Berch, and when he mentions the weather (Wetter), he refers to it as Wetta.

"A helmet keeps you warmer than a cap," he says. As if to prove his point, this winter he is wearing a white miner's helmet with his parka. It's the same model that protected his head for 30 years, underground and above ground, and now, just as Seifert is about to turn 75, Germany's erstwhile industrial Ruhr region has been named Europe's Capital of Culture -- and the former life of this retired miner has become an item on the program.

He has already explained to thousands of visitors how he and his fellow miners brought tons of coal out of the earth, from hundreds of meters below ground, until the Zollverein coal mine was finally closed. And when they ask why he chose such a difficult line of work, he replies that it all goes back to the year 1864. "That was when my wife's grandpa came here. He was the first member of the family to work at Zollverein."

It is a first this year, that an entire region in Germany is being honored as a Capital of Culture. The jury also awarded the title to Istanbul and the Hungarian city of Pécs. When they were making their decision, the jurors were impressed by the way the Ruhr region has struggled and come to grips with its structural transformation -- from coal to culture.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:40:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Female master builder says confidence is a key to success | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 07.03.2010
In Germany, it is not easy for women to reach top managerial positions - but Barbara Schock-Werner is one of those that did. Today, the fate of Cologne's most famous landmark lies in her hands. 

Being responsible for the state of a gigantic, 762-year-old building is no easy feat, but for Barbara Schock-Werner it is a day job. As the master builder of the Cologne Cathedral, she needs to make executive decisions about all the repair and restoration work that is needed to keep this imposing gothic structure - the world's third-tallest church - in top form.

 

She divides her work time between her office and the cathedral itself, where she does regular inspections and gives instructions to the workers, ranging from painters and electricians to carpenters and bricklayers. And managing an annual budget of over six million euros ($8.1 million) also keeps this energetic 62-year-old on her toes.

 

A woman who made it

 

In the context of this year's International Women's Day, which aims to draw attention to equal rights and equal opportunities, women like Schock-Werner can be seen as a unique success story in a male-dominated society. Due to a persisting image of traditional gender roles, Germany's women still find it difficult to juggle work and motherhood, let alone rise to the top ranks of corporate hierarchies.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:52:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Genetics in the Gut: Intestinal Microbes Could Drive Obesity and Other Health Issues: Scientific American
Outnumbering our human cells by about 10 to one, the many minuscule microbes that live in and on our bodies are a big part of crucial everyday functions. The lion's share live in the intestinal tract, where they help fend off bad bacteria and aid in digesting our dinners. But as scientists use genetics to uncover what microbes are actually present and what they're doing in there, they are discovering that the bugs play an even larger role in human health than previously suspected--and perhaps at times exerting more influence than human genes themselves.

One team of researchers recently completed a catalogue of some 3.3 million human gut microbe genes. Their work, led by Junjie Qin of BGI-Shenzhen (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) and published in the March 4 edition of Nature, adds to the expanding--but nowhere near complete--census of species that reside in the intestinal tract. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

Another group turned its attention to a particular host gene that seems to impact these inhabitants of the intestines. They found that in mice, a loss of one key gene led to a shift in microbiota communities and an increase in insulin resistance, obesity and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of these conditions). Their results were published online March 4 in Science.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:57:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Breakthrough reveals blood vessel cells are key to growing unlimited amounts of adult stem cells

ScienceDaily (Mar. 7, 2010) -- In a leap toward making stem cell therapy widely available, researchers at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that endothelial cells, the most basic building blocks of the vascular system, produce growth factors that can grow copious amounts of adult stem cells and their progeny over the course of weeks. Until now, adult stem cell cultures would die within four or five days despite best efforts to grow them.

"This is groundbreaking research with potential application for regeneration of organs and inhibition of cancer cell growth," said Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and Provost for Medical Affairs of Cornell University.

This new finding sets forth the innovative concept that blood vessels are not just passive conduits for delivery of oxygen and nutrients, but are also programmed to maintain and proliferate stem cells and their mature forms in adult organs. Using a novel approach to harness the potential of endothelial cells by "co-culturing" them with stem cells, the researchers discovered the means to manufacture an unlimited supply of blood-related stem cells that may eventually ensure that anyone who needs a bone marrow transplant can get one.

The vascular-cell model established in this study could also be used to grow abundant functional stem cells from other organs such as the brain, heart, skin and lungs. An article detailing these findings appears in the March 5 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.

In adult organs, there are few naturally occurring stem cells, so using them for organ regeneration is impractical. Until now, strategies to expand cultures of adult stem cells, which invariably used animal-based growth factors, serum, and genetically manipulated feeder cells, have only been marginally successful. This study, which employs endothelial cells to propagate stem cells without added growth factors and serum, will likely revolutionize the use of adult stem cells for organ regeneration, as well as decipher the complex physiology of the adult stem cells.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 01:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Google/China hacking case: How many news outlets do the original reporting on a big story?
We often talk about the new news ecosystem -- the network of traditional outlets, new startups, nonprofits, and individuals who are creating and filtering the news. But how is the work of reporting divvied up among the members of that ecosystem?

To try to build a datapoint on that question, I chose a single big story and read every single version listed on Google News to see who was doing the work. Out of the 121 distinct versions of last week's story about tracing Google's recent attackers to two schools in China, 13 (11 percent) included at least some original reporting. And just seven organizations (six percent) really got the full story independently.

But as usual, things are a little more subtle than that. I chose the Google-China story because it's complex, international, sensitive, and important. It's the sort of big story that requires substantial investigative effort, perhaps including inside sources and foreign-language reporting. Call it a stress test for our reporting infrastructure, a real-life worst case.

The New York Times broke the story last Thursday, writing that unnamed sources involved in the investigation of last year's hacking of a number of American companies had traced the attacks to a prestigious technical university and a vocational college in mainland China. The article included comment from representatives of the schools and, while it had a San Francisco dateline, credited contributions from Shanghai staff. Immediately, the story was everywhere. Just about every major American newspaper and all the wires covered it.



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 7th, 2010 at 05:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, did anyone else have as horrendous a fortnight after the 'chinese affair' with gmail as we did?

all smooth again now...

'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 Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 02:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finding Your Roots | Opinionator Blog - Steve Strogatz - NYTimes.com

... In 1976, my Cornell colleague John Hubbard began looking at the dynamics of Newton's method, a powerful algorithm for finding roots of equations in the complex plane.  The method takes a starting point (an approximation to the root) and does a certain computation that improves it.  By doing this repeatedly, always using the previous point to generate a better one, the method bootstraps its way forward and rapidly homes in on a root.

Hubbard was interested in problems with multiple roots.  In that case, which root would the method find?  He proved that if there were just two roots, the closer one would always win.  But if there were three or more roots, he was baffled.  His earlier proof no longer applied.

So Hubbard did an experiment.  A numerical experiment.

He programmed a computer to run Newton's method, and told it to color-code millions of different starting points according to which root they approached, and to shade them according to how fast they got there.

Before he peeked at the results, he anticipated that the roots would most quickly attract the points nearby, and thus should appear as bright spots in a solid patch of color.  But what about the boundaries between the patches?   Those he couldn't picture, at least not in his mind's eye.

The computer's answer was astonishing.

The borderlands looked like psychedelic hallucinations.  The colors intermingled there in an almost impossibly promiscuous manner, touching each other at infinitely many points, and always in a three-way.  In other words, wherever two colors met, the third would always insert itself and join them.

Magnifying the boundaries revealed patterns within patterns.

The structure was a "fractal" -- an intricate shape whose inner structure repeated at finer and finer scales, as shown in this continuous zoom:

Furthermore, chaos reigned near the boundary.  Two points might start very close together, bouncing side by side for a while, and then veer off to different roots. The winning root was as unpredictable as a game of roulette.  Little things -- tiny, imperceptible changes in the initial conditions -- could make all the difference. ...



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 11:40:19 PM 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 t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:02:30 PM EST
Masked gunmen rob poker tournament at Berlin hotel | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 06.03.2010
Panic ensued at Germany's largest poker tournament Saturday afternoon when gunmen broke into the event held at a Berlin hotel and stole some of the prize money. 

Up to six masked men carrying guns entered a poker tournament at a five-star Berlin hotel Saturday afternoon, bagged a portion of the prize money and fled, according to police.

The robbery took place around 2:15 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt hotel on Potsdamer Platz, where the European Poker Tour had begun a few days earlier.

No shots were fired, although some visitors and players were lightly injured amid the panic, police said.

According to reports by the daily newspaper BZ, the robbers made off with up to 800,000 euros ($1 million) in prize money.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 7th, 2010 at 12:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a wink of sleep for me, unfortunately. I just returned from 4 hours in emergency trying to find out why my ankle is giving me Old Harry. Feels like a bad sprain, but here was no incident to create it. Still a mystery - some kind of non-bacterial inflammation. Voltaren for the swelling - panacod for the pain. And a send off jab in the buttocks for good measure...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try to keep your ankle elevated & stay off it as much as possible for the next few days.  

FYI, for those weird pains and swellings we've found a old fashioned Castor Oil pack works as well as anything.  Take a piece of wool flannel, douse it in Caster Oil, wrap around the swollen area, and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the Oil from getting everywhere.  Every couple of hours slobber the flannel with more Oil.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can do the laptop-in-my-leather-recliner most of this week, but I'll have to be in the studio this afternoon. There's codeine in the Panacod so I'll try to keep it sensible.

Castor Oil sounds interesting, but it is toxic (only use on unbroken skin). My mother had a very nasty swelling from a mosquito bite in the archipelago (you can take that however you like). My mother-in-law brought the inflammation down with slightly crushed cabbage leaves wrapped round...at least they didn't do any harm ;-)

In solidarity, we all wore vegetables that day. Luckily it was on the island, far from prying eyes.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 02:00:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
far from prying eyes.

sure?

omo sapiens...

'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 Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:18:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My sister, who is a chiropractor, says it sounds like possibly arthritis (or, less likely, a circulatory issue, in which case it would tend to be bilateral), depending on what other symptoms you may have had in the recent past.  For example, have you been under a lot of stress recently?  Are you working unusually hard?  Are you eating well, drinking enough fluids, getting enough sleep, etc.?  It may have been a condition that had been building up for a while that just kind exploded due to some random little thing in the last day or so.

If it is arthritis, apparently you shouldn't ice it.  Maybe a little bit of mild heat, and then massage it upwards (towards the heart).

If your skin is really dry in the extremities (e.g. ankles and feet), that would also point to arthritis.

Could be an old injury (like decades old) that is causing incipient arthritis now.

Anyway, this is me paraphrasing what she's telling me over skype based on your one comment, so take it with a big grain of salt.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:15:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marco, thanks for your care. And thank your sister too. I had sciatica a year ago and the pain was similar (bloody awful!). No stress, working hard - but at what I enjoy, and everything else seems normal. I am 66, so I am expecting to fall apart in the near future - especially after a lifetime that has included rather more unusual wear and tear than the norm. Documentary film-making is a very physical activity.

Arthritis is unknown among all my blood relatives.

Anyway, the bum jab has removed the pain for the moment.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:28:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wise woman, your sister.

here's an experiment a chiropractor had me do 30 years ago, in Ca.

you get 2 cheap bathroom scales, and climb on with one foot on each. shut your eyes, and try to balance yourself. then look down.

the first time i tried this there was a 20lb difference!

then, watching the scales, adjust stance till they are even, and observe the subtle changes in your energy field as you do so.

as you go through your day, the subconscious will do the rest, and you will even out.

it is possible, tho' not certain by any means, that this pain in your ankle, sven, is your body trying to adjust your symmetry, for greater health.

it could be that while you're healing up from this, you will put more weight on the other side, and save yourself sciatica later on...

btw, arnica gel is made exactly for these types of odd 'sprains'. i find it pleasant to use, and free of side effects, unlike yer volterrans.

arnica used internally can be very helpful too, placebo or not, lol.

getting it up will help stopping swelling from blood pooling, and gently testing and expanding your range of motion around the joint, always stopping short of the points where discomfort turns to pain, will help the circulation and keep tendons and muscle insertions from atrophying during the healing period.

cabbage poultices are good medicine!

good luck for a swift recovery, looks like you may have a little more time to blog!

'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 Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From my sister back at you:

the "melo" chick (or dude) is wise too! yeah, arnica gel is good stuff. Also the cabbage poultices too.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The double scale trick is excellent! I know I have uneven weight distribution - it's been a source of lumbago in the past when combined with great exertion in flexing the back and lifting or sawing. The ex's cousin is a sports doc and he first pointed out that a little kink in my spine was causing the problems.

I'll check out Arnica gel. I try to limit my intake of synthetics as much as possible - e,g I refuse antibiotics unless the doctor demands that I take them. I also have a fairly high pain tolerance, but last nights pain was not endurable. There were some rather choice swear words blueing the Tusby air in the early hours, although the singing daughter was remarkably calm when I woke her up to help me get to the hospital.

Interestingly I was, for the first time in my life, able to watch the Oscars live in the waiting room at ER. The show definitely had an analgesic effect.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:01:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]

School Lunches in France: Nursery-School Gourmets

Americans struggling with obesity epidemics have for years wondered how the so-called French paradox works: How does a nation that ingests huge quantities of butter, beef and cakes keep trim and have such long lives? It could be the red wine, as some believe. But another reason has to be this: in a country where con artists and adulterers are tolerated, the laws governing meals are sacrosanct and are drummed into children before they can even hold a knife. The French don't need their First Lady to plant a vegetable garden at the Élysée Palace to encourage good eating habits. They already know the rules: sit down and take your time, because food is serious business.

In his new book Food Rules, Michael Pollan states in rule No. 58: "Do all your eating at a table." French children quickly learn that they won't be fed anywhere else. Snack and soda machines are banned from school buildings in France -- a battle that is now raging across the U.S. And France's lunch programs are well funded. While the country is cutting public programs and civil-servant jobs to try to slash a debt of about $2.1 trillion, no one has dared to mention touching the money spent on school lunches.

Public schools in France are overcrowded, rigid and hierarchical. And parents, who are never addressed by their first names, are strongly discouraged from entering school buildings, let alone the classrooms. I cannot tell you what my child learns, paints or builds on any given school day. But I do know that on Feb. 4, he ate hake in Basque sauce, mashed pumpkin, cracked rice, Edam cheese and organic fruits for lunch. That meant stuffed marrows and apples for dinner. The city of Paris said so.

I know what my kids learn, paint or build on any given day.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:25:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hush now, you'll disturb the foreign correspondents.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
parents, who are never addressed by their first names

That would of course make all the difference.

Americans crack me up.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:28:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, my understanding of how school lunches were fighting against obesity was that they were not so good food, not conducive to asking for seconds. Although it may have changed nowadays.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misres
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:32:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At 12 in school (founded 1444 - for you Yanks), Matron commanded the kitchen to produce chlorophyl tart. Possibly the most disgusting food I've ever been forced to eat.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 09:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot tell you what my child learns, paints or builds on any given school day.

Talk to your child, for crying out loud.

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

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:35:46 AM EST
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My default answer for that was always, "Nothing," because that's what it felt like.  My parents seemed to be hoping for a different answer.
by Zwackus on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:53:12 AM EST
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Well, last week my child "learned" about subtraction with carry, magnets, and some childrens' books author I had never heard about. He needed some prodding but he was quite happy to tell me about it.

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:26:21 AM EST
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