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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 22 April

by Fran Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:59:56 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1946 – Nicole Garcia, a French actress, film director and writer, was born.

More here and here

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by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:25:38 PM EST
Deutsche Welle: There was no alternative to flight bans, German transport minister says

Following the lifting of flight bans in Germany, Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer told the national parliament in Berlin that handling an aviation crisis caused by volcanic ash had been an unprecedented experience. The conservative politician from Bavaria said there was little he could have done differently, given that the security of passengers had remained his top priority..

"I know I have many critics," Ramsauer told lawmakers in the plenary hall of the Reichstag building. "But I warn against using purely party-political reasoning in interpreting the decisions taken during the crisis."

The minister added it would have been gravely irresponsible not to impose the strictest possible flight bans in the face of a spreading plume of volcanic ash above much of Europe and the lack of reliable scientific data concerning the impact of ash particles on jet engines.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:08:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24: Airlines edge slowly back to 'business as usual'

REUTERS - Air travel in Europe was returning to normal on Wednesday after being disrupted for six days by volcanic ash from Iceland. About 75 percent of normal flights in Europe were due to operate on the day.

Although it could take days or even weeks to clear the backlog of flights, and any plane crash or rise in ash concentrations could cause fresh disruption, scientists and manufacturers have downgraded the risk of flying in areas of relatively low concentrations.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:10:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Stranded passengers begin to return home

Travellers stranded abroad by the volcanic ash cloud returned to the UK in a trickle rather than a flood today as recriminations flew about the Government's handling of the crisis.

All UK airports reopened but many services were cancelled, with budget airline Ryanair unable to operate any flights at all.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:13:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Airlines angry at laws making them pay costs for stranded passengers

A row was brewing between airlines and consumer watchdogs tonight as carriers demanded an end to EU rules that require them to help stranded travellers pay for bed and board during the Iceland volcano crisis.

As airlines and UK airports scrambled to get flights back on schedule amid accusations the government response to the ash cloud threat had been a shambles, transport associations called the regulations unfair and draconian.

Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said he would defy the rules, with Ryanair reimbursing travellers the original price of their airfare and no more.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Croatia's fragile progressive voice

Last week, Croatia's President Ivo Josipovic's groundbreaking apology for Croatia's role in the wars of the former Yugoslavia seemed to signal a break with the nationalist narratives of the region.

But while the president's speech was welcomed in Bosnia and abroad, the divided response among Croatian politicians forced Josipovic to backtrack, highlighting how the region is caught between old and new political languages. Croatia's prime minister Jadranka Kosor condemned his speech, arguing that "Croatia never fought an aggressive, but a defensive war".
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Bosnian veterans clash with police

Protesters threw rocks and set a cabin on fire during protests in the capital, Sarajevo [AFP]

Bosnian police have fired tear gas and water at a group of war veterans in Sarajevo after clashes broke out at a protest against proposed state benefit cuts.

The rally of around 5,000 veterans from the 1992-95 war descended into violence as protesters attempted to storm a government building, throwning stone blocks, bottles and setting a cabin on fire.

Doctors in the Bosnian capital said 33 people were wounded, three seriously, in clashes that lasted several hours.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:34:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Poland announces date for presidential election

Following the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash, the first round of a presidential election to choose his successor will be held on June 20.

The acting president of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, has announced that the first round of a presidential election will be held on June 20. Under Polish law, if neither candidate has a 50 percent majority, a second round would then be held on July 4.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:38:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Why Germany's electoral system would turn the British vote upside down

National elections are approaching in Britain, and a big regional ballot follows two days later in Germany, but the results in both countries will be reached using different systems of representation.
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:30:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: EU to get powers to launch criminal investigations

The EU will get powers to launch its own criminal investigations into tax and financial fraud, under wide ranging plans announced by the European Commission.

The plan to turn Eurojust, an existing body based on non-binding judicial co-operation, into an investigator, with the power to order arrests and trials, is the first step to creating an EU public prosecutor.

The Commission's proposals welcome the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty as allowing "greater ambition" in giving the EU new justice and policing powers to sweep aside national "obstacles to effective law enforcement".

[Torygraph Alert]

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:58:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Belgium at war as Flemish hit out at 'invasion of French speakers'
A fierce row over suburban flight by French speakers into officially Flemish-speaking towns near Brussels is threatening to topple the Belgian Government.

A leading Flemish party has threatened to pull the plug on the coalition Government if no deal is reached by today - a move which could trigger fresh elections.

The dispute is ostensibly about the complex reorganisation of 54 communes which encircle Brussels but it has degenerated into a bitter turf war between the two language groups. Some local politicians have even been accused of promoting de facto apartheid after French-speakers were barred from buying property in Flemish towns.

by IdiotSavant on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 11:49:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / MEPs slam budgets of Council and EU police agency

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Council of Ministers, the EU institution representing member states, and the European Police College attracted sharp criticism from MEPs debating the EU's 2008 budget in Strasbourg on Wednesday (21 April).

The debate centered round a number of budgetary reports presented by members of parliament's budgetary control committee, with Green MEP Bart Staes accusing the chamber's centre-right grouping of obstructing his analysis of parliament's own expenditure.

Many MEPs could not make this week's plenary session

Under the EU treaties, parliament is charged with signing off on EU budgetary expenditure, a process known as the budgetary discharge. With MEPs set to vote on the subject early next month (5-6 May), the author of the report on the council suggested MEPs postpone their vote on that institution until October.

"The Council leaves a lot to be desired when we talk about budgetary matters," said Conservative MEP Ryszard Czarnecki. "Certain aspects of the common foreign and security policy are still not clear, the budgetary measures and accounts are still not clear."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 01:50:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU links support for new Kyrgyz government to democracy

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday (20 April) linked financial and political support for the new Kyrgyz government to its commitment to democracy and human rights, asking for investigations into the killings and violence following the departure of the former president.

Ensuring public order and rule of law is 'most important' says Catherine Ashton

"If we are satisfied that the provisional government is committed to a quick return to legitimacy and genuinely wants to join the democratic family, the European Union will be ready to provide the necessary political, financial and technical support," Ms Ashton told MEPs in Strasbourg.

Restoring public order and putting an end to deadly clashes was a priority, she said, as well as seeking justice after more than 80 people were shot and killed earlier this month, when former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted.

The provisional government led by foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva has not yet been recognised by the EU, while Mr Bakiyev has fled to Belarus in order to avoid prosecution.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 01:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / European reporters' unions want EU to back journalism as `public good'

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - In response to the crisis of journalism in Europe, journalists' unions from across the continent are to launch a campaign to press the EU to encourage member states to strengthen the sector.

If governments can fund theatre and art galleries to protect cultural pluralism, they say, they can fund journalism to protect information pluralism as well.

If art galleries can be funded, so can journalism, say unions

At its annual meeting in Istanbul, the European Federation of Journalists, which represents unions from 24 countries, resolved to push Brussels to respond to the crisis that is seeing media revenues in a "spiral of decline."

"A toxic mix of editorial cuts, precarious working conditions and unethical journalism has created a spiral of decline for media and democracy in Europe," said Arne König, the organisation's president.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 01:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Austria approves thought-crime bill -  Die Presse/Presseurop - English
Austria has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy with regard to terrorists and radicals. On 20 April, the federal cabinet approved an anti-terrorist bill, which will make it an offence to stay in a terrorist camp or voice support for terrorist actions. Of course, "the state wants to impose more severe sentences on the `preachers of hatred,'" remarks Die Presse, but a two-year jail term for someone who expresses admiration for the courage of a kamikaze in private raises the question of what actually constitutes terrorism.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 02:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I missed that. Not long ago the Minister of the Interior claimed that the number of people attending terror training camps has markedly increased. Since she declined to give exact figures my working assumption is that the number increased from two to three.
by generic on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 07:29:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Schengen is the real Europe - Polityka/Presseurop - English

The Poles did not really feel they belonged to the European Union until 2007, when their country became part of the Schengen area. Now they are members of an exclusive club, which is still viewed as a paradise by the countries who have yet to join. A report from Polish weekly Polityka.

In Schengen back in June 1985, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg endorsed an agreement to progressively abolish controls at shared borders, paving the way for the free movement of citizens from the EU and elsewhere which finally became a reality in March 1995. At the time, we felt like citizens from beyond the pale, and this feeling persisted after Poland's entry into the Union in 2004. We had to put up with border controls, while virtually everyone else belonged to a class of better Europeans who did not have to present their passports. We had to stand in line while they sailed on unhindered, and we could only dream about all the time and money we would save if we did not have bother with the immigration check points on the external borders of the Union.

Today we have joined this privileged class. When Poland entered the Schengen area in 2007, Poles who lived west of Warsaw no longer had to route all their journeys via Frédéric Chopin airport. It was much quicker to simply drive to an airport in Berlin. A short time later, we were also able to avail of flights from Berlin to Warsaw whereas before we always had fly there from Poznań or Szczecin. At the same time, Schengen brought down the barriers between the sister towns of Cieszyn in Poland, and Český Těšín in the Czech Republic, and gave a new lease of life to the lethargic region of Pomerania and the German-Polish conurbations of Zgorzelec-Görlitz and Słubice-Frankfurt -- a European dream come true for the Poles.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 02:02:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]

(From wikipedia: I uploaded this to the server since wikipedia doesn't allow hotlinking of images any longer)

See also the diary What is Europe Anyway? ...with poll! from 2006.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 02:27:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That chart is missing the most important organization: NATO.


by asdf on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 10:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be either UEFA or Eurovision, sorry :P

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 10:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Moscow buys sea power with Ukraine gas deal - Times Online

Russia achieved an important strategic ambition yesterday by striking a deal to keep its Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine until the middle of this century.

President Medvedev said that the fleet would remain at its port in Sevastopol for 25 years after its present lease expires in 2017, following talks with Viktor Yanukovych, his Ukrainian counterpart. The agreement allows a further five-year extension to 2047.

In return, Ukraine will receive a 30 per cent discount on the price of gas imported from Russia. President Yanukovych said that the concession amounted to $40 billion (£26 billion) in Russian aid over the next decade.

The deal is a triumph for the Kremlin two months after the election of the pro-Russian Mr Yanukovych ended Ukraine's Western-leaning Orange revolution. His predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, had insisted on closing the base when the lease ended.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 02:04:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Ash cloud chaos: Row grows over airspace shutdown costs

Recriminations are growing over the costs of the six-day airspace shutdown as thousands of Britons continue their slow journey back to the UK.

Airlines want compensation for the volcanic ash disruption, estimated to have cost the industry more than £1bn.

Ryanair has now said it will abide by EU rules and and pay for stranded passengers' food and accommodation.

The Civil Aviation Authority has rejected accusations that it was too slow in reopening UK airspace.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 07:29:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
..to go on holiday apparently

An Important Human Right - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com

The European Union has declared that tourism is a human right and all Europeans are entitled to subsidized travel.  The subsidized tours will be open to pensioners, citizens over 65 or between the ages of 18 and 25, and families facing "difficult social, financial or personal" circumstances. "Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,"

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 09:42:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:26:36 PM EST
Deutsche Welle: Debt rescue looks increasingly likely as Greece starts financial talks

Greece has started talks with officials from the EU Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to hammer out the details of a 45 billion euro backup loan.

The Greek government has yet to ask for activation of the aid package, but the cost of interest has made it highly probable that Greece will trigger the rescue mechanism once the technical details are sorted out, Athens-based correspondent Malcolm Brabant told Deutsche Welle.

"Greece had hoped it could continue to borrow money at a reasonable level from the international markets in order to maintain some sort of fiscal independence," he said.  Athens would prefer this to going to its eurozone partners and the IMF for debt rescue.

But the amounts the markets are currently charging Greece to borrow money longterm - over eight percent for a ten-year-bond - are "simply unsustainable", Brabant said. "This is Black Wednesday for Greece."

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:00:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: IMF and Bundesbank fear contagion from Greece as bond spreads soar to fresh records

The International Monetary Fund has warned that Greece's debt crisis risks spinning out of control, threatening to spill over across the region unless action is taken soon to restore confidence.

 "In the near term, the main risk is that - if left unchecked - market concerns about sovereign liquidity and solvency in Greece could turn into a full-blown sovereign debt crisis, leading to some contagion," said the Fund in its World Economic Outlook.

Bundesbank chief Axel Weber echoed the concerns, saying the financial system was still very fragile and subject to a "significant risk of contagion effects. A possible default by Greece would most likely be a severe economic blow for other countries in monetary union".

[Torygraph Alert]

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:03:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMF, no thanks - To Vima/Presseurop - English

Talks between Athens, the EU and the International Monetary Fund got under way on 21 April. But the Greeks are increasingly leery of the terms of the bailout that might be forced upon them. Greek daily To Vima fears the worst.

43 years ago [on 21 April 1967] the colonels overthrew the Greek Republic and plunged the country into darkness for seven years. This gloomy anniversary falls on the very day the historic talks begin with the IMF junta to resolve the country's serious problems. Back then, the colonels posed as the "saviours of the nation" with their tanks. Today, the self-styled saviours, attired in grey Chicago School suits, have come to impose their terms and abolish Greek sovereignty and political authority, and, by ricochet, that of the Greek people. You must think I'm exaggerating, but no other comparison is possible. In a few years, everyone will remember this fateful day as a one of national mourning.

The talks commenced this morning (in Athens), focussing mainly on the conduct of economic policy. There is every reason to believe the Greek contingent is doomed to lose from the get-go. It is under stifling pressure, with its back to the wall, and without many options or any possibility of putting up resistance. Its credibility is all the more shaken by the fact that in the days to come, the authorities are going to announce that the deficit for 2009 came to 13.5% of GDP, and their leverage in the negotiations will be all the more diminished.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 01:57:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Telegraph: India raises key interest rates to curb inflation

India's central bank on Tuesday raised two key short-term interest rates by 25 basis points in its second move in a month to rein in near double-digit inflation in Asia's third-largest economy.
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:13:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AllAfrica.com: European Flight Ban Hurts Africa's Economies

African economies took a severe knock after the Icelandic volcanic ash crisis in Europe brought many African airliners, exporters and travelers to a standstill.
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:17:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Global recovery faster than expected, says IMF

The global economy will grow a faster than expected 4.2% this year, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

However, recovery in many advanced economies remains "tepid" and high government debt levels need to be addressed, the IMF said.

For this reason, governments must continue with economic stimulus measures this year, it added.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It also says   Public spending should not be cut for another 12 months in Major economic countries, Hardly the news Cameron wants.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happened to the IMF?

It used to be NeoLib Central. Now it's arguing against spending cuts and proposing a tax on banks.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 08:41:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
senate sandbagging SEC case?
Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker at the center of fraud allegations against the firm, has agreed to testify and may defend his actions at a Senate hearing next week, said two people briefed on the plan....

The strategy of speaking publicly, especially before a panel of politicians, carries risks, said Benjamin Brafman, a criminal defense lawyer in New York.


lone gunman defense?

By characterizing the case as a dispute involving a single employee, Goldman Sachs may be taking its first steps to publically distance itself from Tourre in the case, some lawyers said. That could reduce bad publicity and ultimately make it easier for the company to settle the case....

"If Tourre says, `Goldman's board knew what we were doing,' you can imagine Goldman will want to portray him as disgruntled," or willing to lie to avoid punishment, the professor said. That may not help the firm itself, he added. "Under theories of vicarious liability, if you can find Tourre liable, it's going to be hard for Goldman to escape."


Possibly related :

"Tourre was the GS&Co employee principally responsible for the structuring [broker's collateral manager] and marketing of ABACUS 2007-AC1.... Paulson paid GS&Co approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS 2007-AC1." (SEC vs GS&Co. and Tourre, p 2-3)

"The Abacus 2007 AC1 transaction is atypical as far as the role of the collateral manager is concerned."

"Tourre also misled ACA [ACA Management LLC, 3rd-party collateral manager] into believing that Paulson invested $200 million in the equity of ABACUS 2007-AC1 (a long position) and, accordingly, that Paulson's interests in the collateral section process were aligned with ACA's when in reality Paulson's interests were sharply conflicting. (p2)... Internal GS&Co. communications emphasized the advantages from a marketing perspective of having ACA associated with the transaction. (p8)" (SEC vs GS&Co. and Tourre)

"As the SEC's complaint states clearly, the lead buyer in this deal, a boutique called ACA that specialized in mortgage securities, did precisely that."

"[A] 65-page flip book for ABACUS 2007-AC1... represented on its cover pated that the reference portfolio of RMBS had been "Selected by ACA Management LLC." (p12)... ACA's parent company ACA Capital Holdings, Inc. ("ACA Capital")... sold protection or 'wrapped' the $909 million super senior tranche of ABACUS 2007-AC1... ACA Capital was unaware of Paulson's short position. (p18)"(SEC vs GS&Co. and Tourre)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 08:26:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
incredible. entire flip-book on scribd

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 03:29:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Krugman clarifies position on TBTFs H/T George Washington

In case, like me, you missed it:

My view is that I'd love to see those financial giants broken up, if only for political reasons: it's bad to have banks so big they can often write laws. But I'm not sold on the centrality of too big to fail to the crisis, for reasons best explained in terms of the second

His concern is with the shadow banking system:

All of this, however, failed to take account of shadow banking- the rise of institutions that were banks..., engaging in liquidity and maturity transformation, but weren't classified as banks for regulatory purposes. Hyman Minsky, by the way, saw this coming: he wrote at some length about the rise of what he called "fringe banking", by which he meant essentially the same thing Paul McCulley of Pimco meant when he coined the phrase shadow banking. And so we recreated the vulnerabilities of the pre-1930s banking system.

His recommendation seems to be to create a version of the FDIC that takes account of the shadow banking system, reform derivatives trading and pray.

Rather oddly, there hasn't been much discussion of formally extending something like deposit insurance to the short-term liabilities of shadow banks; but as it stands, there's probably enough of an implicit guarantee to do the job. Add in resolution authority, so that shadow banks can be easily seized just like depository institutions, and you've got something like a super-FDIC.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 12:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GOP's Grassley joins Dems in passing limits on derivatives

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved by 13-8 tough new curbs on financial derivatives, including a ban on most direct bank trading of the tools, which played a big role in exacerbating the 2008 financial crisis.

Derivatives are financial bets between private parties. Their value is derived from movements of an underlying asset. Some derivatives, such as oil futures contracts, already are regulated and trade on an exchange. Congress is trying to address the over-the-counter products that are often called swaps because one party wants to swap a risk it's assumed to another party that's willing to shoulder that risk for a fixed price. Swap deals cover everything from movements in the prices of contracts for delivery of barrels of oil or bushels of wheat to changes in the value of the dollar versus other currencies. These swaps currently take place off regulated exchanges.

The ban would require banks to spin off divisions that trade in the lucrative but opaque financial instruments into free-standing subsidiaries.

The vote sent a strong signal that not only are Democrats eager to take bold steps to revamp the regulatory process, but also that Congress may enact a broad overhaul of Wall Street practices.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, joined 12 Democrats in approving the new limits, the first time this year that a Republican senator has sided with the opposition on sweeping financial legislation. Grassley said he voted for the measure because "transparency is the right policy," though he warned that he might vote against the final bill.

The Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee is Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and she has pushed this legislation.  Making amends?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 12:59:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Citigroup says only `United States of Europe' will save euro

A Citigroup note to clients has warned that the eurozone is likely to fall apart unless the European Union's member states fuse both on the fiscal and political level.

"Europe needs to stand up and decide if it is going to be a `United States of Europe' or a `patchwork quilt' of independent states," reads a note by Tom Fitzpatrick, chief technical analyst at Citigroup in New York, first seen by Bloomberg.

Investors are warning of threats to the European currency even if the Greek crisis is resolved

The financial services firm, the largest in the world and one of America's big four banks, says that if such integration is not on the cards, the euro area is "doomed" even if the current Greek crisis is resolved.

"Without a preparedness amongst the major nations - Germany in particular - to head in this direction, we fear that the euro as a common and expanding single currency will inevitably be doomed," the analysis continued.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 01:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Europe.Is.Doomed™ Alert]
by asdf on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 10:34:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:27:51 PM EST
Al Jazeera: Protesters seize troops in Thailand

Anti-government protesters in Thailand have seized a train carrying about 70 soldiers and military equipment northeast of the capital, Bangkok.

The troops were travelling through the Khon Kaen area, a stronghold of the so-called red shirt protesters, when they were seized on Wednesday.

Hundreds of red shirts stopped the 18-car train from leaving a station 450km from Bangkok.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:55:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Thai protesters build barricades and toy with talks

Thai anti-government protesters have built formidable barricades of tyres and sharpened bamboo canes in Bangkok as tensions build in the capital.

But tentative hints of possible new talks between protesters and the government have emerged, as parliament met for the first time in two weeks.

Troops remain behind lines nearby in an increasingly militarised standoff.

The red-shirts are demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva step down and parliament is dissolved.

But analysts say both sides might feel the need for talks as the prospect of another bloody crackdown looms.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Lebanon PM denies Hezbollah supplied with Scud missiles

The Lebanese prime minister has denied allegations that militant group Hezbollah has been supplied with Scud missiles by neighbouring Syria.

Saad Hariri said the accusation, made by Israel, reminded him of the false claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The Western-backed Mr Hariri is in a coalition government with Hezbollah, the militant Shia Muslim organisation.

Hezbollah fought a 34-day conflict with Israel in 2006.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:09:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: Kyrgyz ex-president remains defiant

Kyrgyzstan's ousted president has insisted he is still the legitimate president and urged the world not to legitimise the uprising in which he was forced into exile.

Speaking in the Belarussian capital of Minsk, Kurmanbek Bakiyev called on the international community to shun the interim government which seized power after deadly riots.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:28:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Nigeria reprisal killings continue near city of Jos

The Nigerian military has exhumed seven fresh corpses from shallow graves near the city of Jos, in the latest apparent revenge killing.

There are almost daily reports of attacks on people in rural villages and of disappearances in Jos itself.

The bodies of two local farmers were discovered earlier this week - three other people are still missing.

Clashes between rival communities - Hausa Muslims and Berom Christians - have left hundreds dead this year.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent: Mosque murder leaves Kandahar on the edge

Assassins killed the deputy mayor of Kandahar yesterday as violence in Afghanistan's second city continued to spiral out of control before a planned Nato offensive.

Gunmen entered a mosque where Azizullah Yarmal was bowing his head in prayer and shot him at point-blank range

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:49:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Murder and kidnapping in Honduras:

Oscar Flores, "the chronicler of the resistance" ... was kidnapped yesterday. And in San Pedro, journalist Giorgino Orellana was murdered.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 05:33:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NZ Herald: Vote over republic falls at first hurdle
A bill setting up a referendum on republicanism was defeated in Parliament last night at its first reading, 68 votes to 53.

The Head of State Referenda Bill in the name of Green MP Keith Locke provided for a referendum with three options on how New Zealand should select its head of state.

The three options were the status quo of the British monarch being the head of state, a New Zealand head of state determined by a 75 per cent majority in Parliament or a head of state directly elected by the people under a preferential system.

The bill allowed for a second referendum if none of the three options got 50 per cent of the vote.

Not our time yet. Just got to wait for a few more old fart traditionalists (or the present monarch) to die off naturally.

by IdiotSavant on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 10:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel Billionaire Tshuva Strikes Gas, Fueling Energy Expansion  Bloomberg

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- Isaac Tshuva uses sugar packets on a table in the lounge of his Leonardo City Tower Hotel in Tel Aviv to mark the spots of three natural-gas fields off Israel that he said will fuel global growth of his energy business.

The Israeli billionaire, owner of New York's Plaza Hotel, said his Delek Group Ltd. and partners including Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. are now homing in on more deposits after last year announcing a record find in waters off Haifa, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports in its April 26 edition.


Delek-controlled companies and partners led by Noble Energy in January 2009 announced a find at the Tamar prospect that may hold 7.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (218 billion cubic meters), according to a survey by Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. That's more than twice the annual output of Norway, the world's second-largest gas exporter. The partners have secured about $11 billion in domestic gas commitments and expect output by 2012.

The Levant Basin, where Tamar is located and which stretches the length of Israel and Lebanon, may hold 227 trillion cubic feet of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a report released April 8, its first review of the region.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 11:47:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:29:13 PM EST
Anger as Brazil approves Amazon rainforest dam

Brazil awarded a domestic consortium rights yesterday to build the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest amid criticism that the dam will be catastrophic for the environment.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to face a prolonged battle over the Belo Monte dam that he has heavily promoted despite opposition from a range of critics, including Hollywood director James Cameron.

Government leaders say the project, due to start producing electricity in 2015, will provide power for Brazil's fast-growing economy, but environmentalists and activists say it will damage a sensitive ecosystem and displace around 20,000 locals.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:47:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: 'Paltry' Copenhagen carbon pledges point to 3C world

Pledges made at December's UN summit in Copenhagen are unlikely to keep global warming below 2C, a study concludes.

Writing in the journal Nature, analysts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany say a rise of at least 3C by 2100 is likely.

The team also says many countries, including EU members and China, have pledged slower carbon curbs than they have been achieving anyway.

They say a new global deal is needed if deeper cuts are to materialise.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: Pakistan to impose wedding curfew as power shortages cause civil unrest

Pakistan is expected to announce a series of drastic power-saving measures this week, including a shorter working week and restrictions on wedding celebrations at night, as a severe energy shortfall threatens to set off riots. The blackouts have plagued cities and the countryside for up to 20 hours a day in some places, bringing industry and even farming to a halt.
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle: Built on sand: Masdar City to become eco-city of the future

What does it cost to build a truly futuristic city? The answer: $22 billion, or 16.4 billion euros. Divide that by 50,000 residents, and you have a per capita cost of $440,000. That's how much Abu Dhabi is forking out to build Masdar City, the world's first carbon-neutral eco-city in the midst of the emirate's inhospitable desert terrain.

But Abu Dhabi, the world's sixth-largest oil exporter, is not bearing the cost alone. Due to Masdar City's climate-saving concept, the construction costs are being offset by the sale of emissions certificates, as regulated under the Kyoto Protocol. The city is set to become home to a population of 50,000 in 2016. And despite the extreme conditions of the desert location, residents will be afforded all manner of modern comforts that design and technology can provide.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:46:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This will surely save the planet---if it doesn't sink Abu Dhabi. 50,000 people living in an inhospitable desert subsidized by carbon credits. What could go wrong?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 11:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... 22bn spent on this is better than using it for tax cuts, perhaps?

Abu Dhabi has two choices - provide the investment to spur on technologies for energy efficient living in the desert - or start making plans to get citizenship for half it's citizens in countries with a better climate...

Now I can see that the second option may be cheaper and less risky, but I think it's also a very difficult one in a number of ways... political, social, etc.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 04:33:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What imperative do you think compels the civil? engineers of Abu Dahbi to construct a "city" --where none exists-- suitable for habitation by just 50K people on a site subject to environmental conditions identical to Abu Dahbi?

If Masdar City is a "pilot project" to test financial and customary hurdles of migrating a nation to alternative (desert) lifestyle, I'll eat my hat.

The story says Masdar City is a project designed to generate revenue from sale of carbon offsets. And I predict quite probably ticket and concession sales.

The estimated population of Abi Dahbi was 860,000 in 2008. The majority of residents are expatriate labor. 50K is approx 6% not 50% of the "metropolis" that is world reknown for having "actively attempted to diversify its economy in recent years through investments in financial services and tourism," that is to maximize capacity utilization, to exploit every conceivable resource within its boundaries. The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) receives some 1.8 million visitors per year. The city's per capita electricity consumption is about 41,000 kWh or 8,367 MW fossil-fueled demand per annum.

Abu Dahbi could choose to invest $22B (and more) in renewable power generation by its existing utilities. That would be a real achievement. That would be the best idea since Desertek.

Possibly related news:
global offset market

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 08:42:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My other concerns are that such projects develop a dynamic that drives future decisions. While Abu Dhabi is not Dubai, they may find themselves seduced into proceeding down a similar path as that Dubai followed, and that it appears that Goldman and other commercial banks are deeply involved in the carbon offset business, which raises the prospect that the offsets income planned from "going green" may well fail to materialize, or will go preferentially to Goldman et al.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 11:06:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm appalled that people on this blog who quite rightly wouldn't swallow DW's neoliberal assumptions if they were about the reasoning behind a decision from Goldman Sachs just accept uncritically the report that this city is being built to profit from carbon offset money.

If you just want to game carbon offsets, it's a lot easier to build either nothing, or just clean energy production.

The people who have driven the Masdar project may well be misguided, but is it such a stretch to think that they aren't in it for the quarterly earnings? That they come from a culture with a different time orientation? That they see their oil running out one day and that the options are, as I said, once the oil is gone, either find other ways to live in the desert that don't rely on masses of cheap fossil energy... or move? And that socially, politically, internationally, moving isn't all that realistic?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 11:20:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I know of the Arab Gulf states I suspect that the carbon capture is a small part of the scheme. I hope so. They will likely get their water from desalinization plants on the Gulf and will likely do extensive secondary  recovery on sewage. Abu Dhabi is not physically that large and pipelines for fresh water from Gulf based plants would not be a major expense. I would be much more interested in how they intend to power those operations and the rest of the city than the carbon credits, about which I have serious doubts. I would also be interested in the extent to which they have been able to integrate their own educated youth into the domestic job market in a productive manner. This was a problem in Saudi Arabia when I was last there in the late '80s.

I do know how annoying it can be to have one item, that seems insignificant to you, to be seized on by other commenters. At least this sub-thread doesn't seem to have hijacked your diary. Nor was that my intent.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 03:25:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, not diary.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 03:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Monsanto Co., DuPont and Syngenta AG are vying for a similar windfall. After battling for a decade to corner the $11 billion market for insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant technologies, the world's biggest seed companies are vying to develop crops that can survive drought. At stake is a new global market that may top $2.7 billion for the corn version alone....

The technology will have wide-ranging effects, from helping farmers draw less irrigation water to lowering insurance premiums and boosting land values in drought-prone regions, agricultural economists say. The seeds also may increase corn plantings in the U.S. Great Plains at the expense of wheat and sorghum while altering the market for biofuels....

Monsanto also is engineering crop seeds including cotton, wheat and sugar cane for drought tolerance, and the company and BASF are donating drought-resistant corn technologies to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through the Nairobi-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 09:02:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far the insect resistant and herbicide tolerant technologies have worked out great for the companies---but not so great for the farmers. Reports I have read from Missouri show the farmers not getting the projected increase in yields that were to pay for the technology. They promise 6% and deliver 1 or 2%--or none.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 12:06:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Water and electric customers in the Seattle area, most of whom pay U.S. taxes, will pay an additional $14 million to get out of an agreement with American International Group Inc., the insurance company rescued from insolvency in 2008 by American taxpayers.

The fee from the Snohomish County Public Utility District, serving Boeing Co. and 320,000 other electricity buyers, will settle a nine-month-old dispute with AIG, according to a copy of the accord obtained under state public records law. The municipal power company and AIG sued each other over a contract created in 1994 to help Snohomish reduce its borrowing costs by $2.9 million -- an early version of a financial derivative known as an interest-rate swap....

In 1994, Snohomish needed money to build transmission lines, replace electrical poles and add street lighting.

Jerry Bobo, a banker at the time for New York-based Smith Barney Inc., recommended borrowing $58.3 million for 30 years at floating rates, using a swap agreement to lock in a fixed rate lower than Snohomish could obtain by issuing conventional bonds. The savings might total $2.9 million, according to a Smith Barney presentation obtained by Bloomberg through state public records law. In 1998, Smith Barney became a unit of Citigroup Inc., the bank rescued by taxpayers in 2008....

Floating rates on the utility's bonds fell to as little as 1 percent to 2 percent from 2002 to 2004, while the utility was paying AIG 6.2 percent. Until mid-2008, Snohomish paid AIG a net $25.7 million, court filings show.

Demand for the bonds dried up during the 2008 credit crisis. The lack of liquidity was so severe it was likely to trigger a provision of the contract that, AIG said, would limit its own payments to the utility to an amount based on international bank rates. The power company would have to pay the higher floating rates, resulting in $5 million of additional annual costs.


Possibly related news:
RI PUC rejects wind power contract

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 09:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is a wind-related PPA linked to an interest swap that turned out to be out of the market?

And what is wrong with that story, exactly? The municipality bet on having a fixed rate, so ends up paying more than the variable rates, which fell to record lows. At least, it knew what it was paying. It's a basic hedging instrument, and it performed its role.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 02:26:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Essential Element Becoming Scarce: Experts Warn of Impending Phosphorus Crisis - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The element phosphorus is essential to human life and the most important ingredient in fertilizer. But experts warn that the world's reserves of phosphate rock are becoming depleted. Is recycling sewage the answer?

They sift the powder through their fingers, smell it and admire its soft, brownish shimmer. The members of the delegation from Japan, dressed in black suits and yellow helmets, stand attentively in a factory building in Leoben, Austria, marveling at a seemingly miraculous transformation, as stinking sewage sludge is turned into valuable ash.

Nothing suggests that the brown dust comes from a cesspool. It doesn't smell, is hygienic and is as safe as sand in a children's sandbox. It's also valuable. The powder has a phosphate content of around 16 percent. Phosphate, the most important base material in mineral fertilizer, is currently trading at about €250 ($335) a ton.

Untreated sewage sludge was once dumped onto fields as liquid manure, until it became apparent how toxic it is. Human excretions are full of heavy metals, hormones, biphenyls -- and drugs. New processing plants are designed to remove these toxins far more effectively than before, thereby paving the way for the use of sewage sludge in safe, human fertilizer. Ash Dec, the company that operates the pilot plant in Leoben, has dubbed the program "Ash to Cash."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 01:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:30:17 PM EST
BBC: Sarkozy orders bill on banning full Islamic veils

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered parliament to debate a law banning women from wearing full-face Islamic veils in public, officials say.

Last year he said such veils oppressed women and were not welcome in France.

The proposal has provoked intense debate about religious freedom in a secular society, as well as the position of Muslims in France.

The country's highest administrative body has suggested such a law might be unconstitutional.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:42:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera: French president backs veil ban

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has spoken out in favour of a full ban on the face-covering veil as the government draws up a law to prohibit the garment in public spaces.

According to a government spokesman, Sarkozy told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the veil "hurts the dignity of women and is not acceptable in French society".

Luc Chatel added that a bill banning the veil, also known as niqab, from all public spaces, would be presented to ministers in May.

"We're legislating for the future. Wearing a full veil is a sign of a community closing in on itself and a rejection of our values," he said.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:44:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Skywatchers set for meteor show

Stargazers are preparing for a sky show as the annual Lyrids meteor shower gets underway on Wednesday.

The shower is named after the constellation Lyra, from which the meteors appear to originate.

The meteor shower peaks early on Thursday 22 April (GMT), when 10-20 meteors per hour are expected to be visible under favourable conditions.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:20:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Syria smoking ban enters into force

Syria has become the first Arab state to implement a ban on smoking in public places, such as restaurants and cafes.

The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, cinemas and theatres and on public transport.

Workers must not smoke during meetings and businesses need to provide well-ventilated areas for smokers.

The restrictions include the nargile, or hubble-bubble pipe, which is popular among locals and tourists.

The decree was signed last November by President Bashar al-Assad, a qualified medical doctor.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 03:36:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Security Brief: Cell phones to 'smell' biochem attack?

If you ever get caught up in a chemical or biological weapons attack, your cellphone may save your life. Or at least that's the ambition of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department's science and technology team has begun talks with four cell-phone manufacturers on designing `nextgen' phones that would be able to sense a wide variety of noxious chemical compounds in the air - and alert the user. The director of the "Cell-All" program at the DHS, Stephen Dennis, tells CNN that within a year, "We expect up to 80 prototype cell phones to be developed that can be then tested against various agents."

There are already hundreds of thousands of these mobiles in operation now. Not consumer mobiles, but stripped down gsm chips and boards in a box, with no keyboard and no screen, that sit in remote locations monitoring single events. The batteries last for ages. Each one has a sensor for a particular event. They are polled at regular intervals and send data back to base, where alerts come up if anomalies are detected.

Putting these sensors into consumer phones simply ups the coverage.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 05:38:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear Finnair Plus Member,

Dust discharged into the air by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland has been disrupting flight traffic in Europe. We kindly ask our customers to monitor, if necessary, the media as well as the Finnair or Finavia websites and Facebook.

Airline industry has never faced such unexpected scenario. Finnair and its entire staff are gathering all forces to help our customers. We apologize for all the inconveniency this act of nature has caused to thousands of our passengers and hope to get all passengers home safely as soon as possible.

Customers are advised not to come to the airport if their flight has been cancelled.

Postponing or cancelling bookings

If your departure is on 25 April 2010 or earlier, the journey can be cancelled or postponed until a later date up to 30 November 2010.

If you wish to postpone your journey, please contact the travel agency or airline that sold the ticket.

If you wish to cancel the journey, you can receive a refund for your ticket. There is no need to contact Finnair separately; it is sufficient that you send us the refund form.

Resumption of flights on 22 April 2010

Finnair aims to resume flight traffic starting from 22 April 2010. Check-in at the airport closes 2 hours before departure, online check-in 3 hours before departure.

Passengers who have a reservation will be placed on a flight in the following order in accordance with EU regulations:

  • passengers who have a confirmed booking for the flight in question on the day in question
  • passengers who have a confirmed reservation for the return leg of a Finnair flight which was cancelled earlier.
  • passengers with restricted mobility as well as families with children
  • passengers who have been waiting longest

If necessary, please contact the travel agency or airline that sold the ticket for assistance.

Flight connection from Helsinki

Some connecting flights from Helsinki might not be operational. If you wish to board the flight to Helsinki regardless of possibly missed connection please sign the discharge and release form (PDF) before boarding the flight.

Finnair's Customer Care is providing service by telephone as follows:

0600 140 140 (3.12 euros per answered call + local call charge, open 24/7)

010 808045 (from Finnish fixed line telephones 8.21 cents per call + 5.9 cents per minute; from all mobile phones 8.21 cents per call + 16.9 cents per minute).

When calling from outside Finland the numbers are +358 600 140 140 and +358 10 808045.

You can also telephone our local call centres.

We are sorry if you have to wait longer than usual for service due to this very exceptional situation.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 05:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberal Conspiracy » Study: Cameron wrong on abortion science

It's only a couple of weeks ago that David Cameron was busily buttering up the Catholic vote, telling the Catholic Herald that:

"I think that the way medical science and technology have developed in the past few decades does mean that an upper limit of 20 or 22 weeks [for abortion] would be sensible,"

Today the BBC are reporting new research, published in the BMJ's Archives of Disease in Childhood, which indicates that there has been no overall improvement in survival rates amongst children born prior to the current 24 week limit for legal abortions in the UK over the last 15 years, despite a significant increase in the use of active resusscitation on severely pre-term neonates during the last five years covered by the study.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 08:36:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:31:42 PM EST
Guardian: David Mills bribery case was thrown out on technicality, Italian court says

Italy's highest appeals court today stated that when it quashed the conviction of Tessa Jowell's estranged husband David Mills earlier this year, on charges of taking a bribe from Silvio Berlusconi, it did so because of a technicality and not because it believed him to be innocent.

The British lawyer had been rewarded for giving evidence that was crucial to the Italian prime minister's acquittal on a charge of bribing tax inspectors, the court said. But Mills could not be legitimately convicted because his offence had been "timed out" by a statute of limitations.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:23:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24: If the bigwigs use flashing lights, the Moscovites will use blue buckets

The Moscow movement against self-declared VIPs - or bureaucrats who use flashing lights illegally to evade traffic queues - is growing in strength. On Sunday, two hundred Moscovites took to the streets with blue buckets secured, upside-down, on top of their car roofs. Did the police stop them? But of course!

The outcry was sparked in March after two drivers were killed by an official who was driving on the other side of the road: something he had no authority to do. Two weeks ago we posted footage of the first grassroots act against the abuse, when a driver filmed himself stopping and questioning an official who was driving in the wrong direction.

by Sassafras on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 02:25:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HBO renews 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

One of my favourite shows.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 05:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pay medical bills with a chicken, says Republican candidate Sue Lowden | Richard Adams | World news | guardian.co.uk
Meet Republican politician Sue Lowden, a wealthy casino owner. According to recent opinion polls, she's likely to be the next US Senator from the state of Nevada, thanks to a double-digit lead over the Democratic incumbent Harry Reid. At least, she was the main contender for Reid's seat - until she started propounding her chicken-based healthcare plan.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 06:01:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That deserves a LOL

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 06:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Silvio Berlusconi accused of `sacrilege' in communion row - Times Online

Silvio Berlusconi was accused yesterday of committing sacrilege with the complicity of the Vatican after he was shown on television taking holy communion at a funeral even though he is twice married and is seeking a divorce from his second wife.

Mr Berlusconi, 73, took communion at the funeral in Milan of Raimondo Vianello, a veteran television variety show star.

Vatican officials said this was permissible because Mr Berlusconi, 73, was in the process of divorcing Veronica Lario, his second wife, and was de facto separated from her.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Council for Life, said the Church had not therefore made an exception for him.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 02:03:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Times:
even though he is twice married and is seeking a divorce from his second wife.

Yes, never mind the drugs, the teenagers, the scams, the fraud, the egotism, the narcissism, the links with the mafia, the comedy, the intimidation, the propaganda and the morals of a sewer rat on meth - the Vatican disapproves because he's still married.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 08:50:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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