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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 14 June

by Fran Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 04:55:22 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


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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 ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:40:44 AM EST
Poland arrests suspected Mossad agent wanted by Germany | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 12.06.2010
German prosecutors have confirmed that Polish authorities arrested a suspected Mossad agent wanted by Berlin over the slaying of a Hamas commander in Dubai. It's unclear whether the suspect will be extradited to Germany. 

The German federal prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that Polish authorities arrested an alleged Mossad spy from Israel wanted in connection with a Hamas agent slaying in Dubai.

"He was arrested in Warsaw and is suspected of being involved in illegally obtaining a (German) passport," a spokesman for the office said, confirming a report in the German news magazine, Der Spiegel.

"It's now up to the Poles to decide if they are going to hand him over to Germany," he added.

According to the Spiegel article published on Monday, the suspect using the name Uri Brodsky was arrested in early June upon arrival at Warsaw's airport on suspicions of working for Mossad in Germany helping to issue a fake German passport to the operation.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dubai: We won't seek extradition of suspected Mossad agent held in Poland - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Dubai will not seek the extradition of a suspected Mossad agent arrested in Poland earlier this month in connection to the Dubai assassination of a Hamas strongman, Dubai's police chief said Sunday.

The Israeli citizen arrested in Poland, using the name Uri Brodsky, is suspected of working for Mossad in Germany and helping to issue a fake German passport to a member of the Mossad operation that allegedly killed Hamas agent Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January, a spokesman for the German federal prosecutor's office told The Associated Press.

Brodsky was arrested in early June upon his arrival in Poland because of a European arrest warrant issued by Germany which is now seeking his extradition, the spokesman said, declining to be named in line with department policy.

Dahi Khalfan Tamim told the U.A.E. website the National that they would not seek Brodsky's extradition since "this person has committed the crime in Germany and therefore it is only normal that he will be prosecuted there."

"For us, what is important that he will receive his punishment irrespective of which country," Tamim said.

The Dubai police chief added that the "fact that German investigators could develop their own investigations is a clear indication of the strength of the information provided by us and that the pictures and other data collected are accurate," adding that the co-operation of the different Interpol members is leading the development of investigations."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Slovakia's leftist leader wins Pyrrhic victory as right claims majority | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.06.2010
Leftist Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico's party came out on top of Saturday's polls, but a coalition of center-right parties that have sworn not to work with him have won a majority in parliament. 

Parliamentary elections in Slovakia have seen the current leftist coalition lose its majority, although controversial Prime Minister Robert Fico says he retains the right to lead any talks on forming a new government. Meanwhile four centre-right parties with a total of 79 seats in the 150-seat parliament have claimed victory, saying the people of Slovakia have given them a clear mandate for change.

He won, yet it seems he might have lost.

Robert Fico, the uncompromising premier who promised to shield Slovaks from the worst of the global financial crisis and protect them from Hungarian revisionism, saw his SMER party win almost 35% of the vote - an impressive result for a party that's been in government for the last four years.

"It's a result that gives us the right to receive the go-ahead from the president to lead talks on forming a government," he told bleary-eyed journalists at a pre-dawn press conference.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:47:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - PM Fico to form government as centre-right parties eye coalition
Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic said Sunday he would ask Prime Minister Robert Fico to form a new government after his leftist Smer party won the most votes in a general election that nevertheless gave centre-right parties a majority in parliament. AFP - Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic said Sunday he would ask incumbent Prime Minister Robert Fico to form a new government after his leftist party won the most votes in the general election.
   
Fico's Smer party won Saturday's vote with 34.8 percent on promises of generous social spending.
   
But it was a centre-right grouping of four parties vowing to rein in public finances that scored a majority of 79 seats in the 150-seat parliament, creating the possibility of a centre-right coalition assuming power should Fico's mission fail.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:10:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / UK / Politics & policy - Darling hid £7bn `good news' from Brown

Alistair Darling hid "good news" on the deficit from Gordon Brown until the day before his final Budget, just weeks ahead of the election, in a move that in effect left a £7bn present for his Conservative successor.

The former chancellor fended off Mr Brown's demands for a pre-election spending spree after giving Downing Street provisional borrowing estimates far higher than the final figure.

A "late revision" of the public finance forecasts, presented to Downing Street just 24 hours before the March Budget, put the 2010-11 deficit at £163bn - about £7bn short of Mr Brown's working assumption.

A former colleague of Mr Darling said the "nifty manoeuvre" with the "good news" infuriated Mr Brown's advisers, averted their plans for a flurry of spending pledges and spared George Osborne the trouble of axing them after the election.

"Alistair Darling always put a considerable premium on deficit reduction," said a Treasury colleague. "There was uncertainty about the numbers but £170bn was roughly where Number 10 thought it would come in."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:48:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unity at stake as Belgians head to the polls | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.06.2010

Belgian voters have hit the polls on Sunday, June 13, in a general election, in which Flemish separatist parties are expected to do well, increasing concerns that Belgium is moving towards a split along its linguistic fault line.

 

The head of the Flemish Alliance (NVA) party, Bart De Wever, wants Dutch-speaking Flanders to sever its ties with French-speaking Wallonia. There is a long history of tension between the two regions. Belgians living in Flanders have currently half the unemployment of those in Wallonia, and a 25 percent higher per-capita income. Only the capital, Brussels, is officially bilingual.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:49:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Belgium elections show rise in separatism

Separatist parties emerged as the dominant political force in Belgium following Sunday's parliamentary elections, ushering a tense summer of negotiations as the divided country seeks to piece together a new government.

In early returns, the Flemish separatist N-VA party topped the polls in the Dutch-speaking North of the country, ousting the Christian Democrats of outgoing premier Yves Leterme as the largest party in the region and possibly the country.

In Francophone Wallonia, the Socialists and Greens were expected to make gains mainly at the expense of the Liberal party.

Belgium has long been an unhappy union of Francophones and Dutch-speakers, with deep-seated cultural differences reflected in its divisive politics.

The elections were called one year early after Mr Leterme's government collapsed in April over an arcane dispute involving the linguistic rights of French-speakers living in Flanders.

The two communities have often expressed frustration at each other, but Sunday's poll result cements the rise of separatism as a political current with mainstream appeal in Flanders.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
Separatist parties
What, in the plural?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 03:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Party supporting Belgian division claims election victory | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.06.2010
The New Flemish Alliance party in favor of a split between Belgium's Dutch and French speaking population has claimed victory in national elections, deepening the divide between the two Belgian camps. 

Belgium faces the prospect of a growing rift along language lines after a Flemish separatist party declared itself the winner of parliamentary elections.

 

The Dutch-language nationalist New Flemish Alliance party (NVA) appears to have won a historic victory. Interior ministry projections show that the party would have 27 seats in the lower house of parliament - one more than the French-speaking Socialist (PS).

 

The NVA favors an eventual split between the Dutch-speaking Flanders region and the French-speaking Wallonia.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, wikipedia refers to the entire 2007-10 parliamentary term as the 2007-2010 Belgian political crisis
The 2007-2010 Belgian political crisis is an enduring period of communitarian tensions and political instability in Belgium, mostly caused by the different opinions about the need for and the extent of a state reform. In December 2008, another crisis, related to the Fortis case, broke out, again destabilising the country and resulting in the resignation of Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme. The new Herman Van Rompuy government brought a brief period of fragile stability, and ended when Van Rompuy resigned to become the first President of the European Council. The succeeding Leterme II government fell in April 2010 over the lack of progress on resolving the controversy surrounding the electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde. Early elections will be held on 13 June 2010. The crisis is considered to be one of the longest and most intense political crises that the country has faced since its foundation in 1830.


By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 03:47:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Merkel pleads for calm amid coalition disputes
Chancellor faces protests over €80bn cuts package

Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, has issued an urgent appeal for calm in her troubled coalition after her government's problems deepened amid splits over spending cuts.

Her intervention, in an interview with the news­paper Bild, came after claims that a popular minister had considered resigning. It shows the chancellor's concern at a number of strident public disputes over government policies.

The bickering has sapped Ms Merkel's authority at a time when the government - elected last September - faces a round of protests at an €80bn ($97bn, £67bn) package to cut the public sector deficit.

The proposals have exacerbated the divide between Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats - many of whom wanted a greater share of the impact of the package to be borne by wealthier Germans - and the Free Democrats, junior coalition partners, who have called repeatedly for tax cuts.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 04:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were difficulties to persist and intensify, could she, practically, form a different coalition with one or more of the parties of the left? Or would they hold out for new elections?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 12:19:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A Grand Coalition redux would be the only (arithmetically) conceivable option, but it is not something that could be done easily (even supposing the SPD would be interested).

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 02:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Unions divided over challenge to Berlusconi's cuts
Red flags and banners carried by thousands of workers made an impressive sight in central Rome at the weekend, but Italy's first major protest against Silvio Berlusconi's budget cuts spoke more about disunity in the labour movement than any serious threat to his centre-right government.

The demonstration called on Saturday by CGIL, Italy's main left-wing union federation, was boycotted by other major trade unions and only a scattering of politicians from the opposition Democratic party showed up in support. Police estimated the crowd at about 25,000.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 04:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swiss man released from Libya as countries end diplomatic row | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.06.2010
A Swiss man who has been held in Libya since July 2008 is on his way back to Switzerland. Max Goeldi was at the center of a diplomatic spat between the two countries, which have now signed an agreement to cool tensions.  

After spending almost two years in a Libyan jail for visa offenses, Swiss businessman Max Goeldi is heading back home to Switzerland. It will be the end, many hope, of a fierce diplomatic dispute between Bern and Tripoli.

Goeldi was released from the prison three days ago, and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has confirmed that he will be leaving Libya Sunday.

The conflict dates back to the arrest of a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The son, Hannibal, was arrested for allegedly beating his domestic servants in Geneva in July 2008. The charges against him were later dropped, but it was the start of a row that the two countries now hope to put behind them.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - France joins other EU nations announcing austerity plan
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon (photo) has announced an austerity plan that will slash state spending by 45 billion euros. The three-year plan aims at bringing public deficit back down to the EU's limit of three percent of GDP by 2013.

AFP - France joined other European nations in announcing on Saturday an austerity plan that would involve 45 billion euros (54.5 billion dollars) in spending cuts over the next three years.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the cuts were aimed at bringing France's public deficit back down to the European Union's limit of three percent of gross domestic product by 2013.

"We've made a commitment to bring down our deficit from eight to three percent by 2013 and we will concentrate all of our efforts on it," Fillon said at a meeting of new members of his UMP party.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nicolas Sarkozy trying to 'Berlusconise' French media - Telegraph
Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of trying to "Berlusconise" French media after he personally intervened to stop the sale of Le Monde - France's most influential newspaper - to Left-wing businessmen for fear it would oppose his re-election.

Mr Sarkozy does not want the hugely influential daily falling into the hands of a team led by Matthieu Pigasse, a banker who heads Lazard France, and Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent's long-time partner - both seen as close to the opposition Socialist Party.

A third signatory, Xavier Neil, is a maverick telecommunications tycoon with a personal fortune of two billion euros. The trio have indicated they are ready to invest up to 100 million euros in the paper, which will be unable to pay staff wages in July if it fails to find a buyer.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:14:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Reykjavik Grapevine Features / Read Article
In the weeks leading up to the municipal elections, it seemed no one was interested. The media took almost no notice of the elections--candidates had great problems getting attention. As usual, the economic collapse and its aftermath were the main focal points. April saw the publication of a thoroughly researched 2.000 page report by an investigative committee, as well as the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which disrupted flights all over the Northern hemisphere.

But then the elections came--and suddenly they became very interesting. The result can be likened to a bomb going off right in the middle of the Icelandic political system. The elections in Reykjavík were especially dramatic--the capital has always been the venue of a fierce and quite symbolic contest between the left and the right.

A party of artistic types

But now a party that came out of nowhere celebrates a thumping victory. It is simply called The Best Party (Besti flokkurinn), and it is led by Jón Gnarr, a celebrated comedian and actor. Most of other people on the party's list are what might be labelled as artistic, bohemian types--many of them live in the centre of Reykjavík, in the so called 101 area. None of these people had been even remotely involved in politics before.

All the same, The Best Party won 35 percent of the vote. It is now the largest party in Reykjavík, and it can dictate how the city will be run for the next four years. Most likely Jón Gnarr himself will become mayor, something nobody would have thought possible a few weeks ago. The day after the elections, Jón said he had realised that politicians were always interfering with his life. "So why should I not interfere with theirs?" he asked. Continues....


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:10:25 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 ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:41:44 AM EST
Cuts threaten huge slump in affordable new homes, housing associations warn | Politics | The Observer

Housebuilding in Britain will "fall off a cliff" this year due to a "catastrophic" combination of financial cutbacks and changes to the planning system, the government was warned last night.

The National Housing Federation, which represents England's housing associations, predicted the most vulnerable in society will be the hardest hit, with the number of affordable homes built this year in England slumping by as much as 65%, to 20,390. This would be the lowest number of affordable homes built since 1990, with profound consequences for the 4.5 million people on waiting lists across the country.

The federation said the private sector would also be affected and expressed fears the total number of homes that will be built this year in England would fall below the 100,000 mark, the lowest level for almost a century. Similar problems are predicted for Wales and Scotland.

The previous government estimated there was a need to build a minimum 250,000 homes a year to reach a target of 3m new properties by 2020 if an acute housing crisis is to be alleviated.

"The prime minister and deputy prime minister have repeatedly said public spending cuts will not disproportionately hit the most vulnerable, but if these measures go ahead the impact on housebuilding will be catastrophic," warned the federation's chief executive, David Orr.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:55:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The situation with regard to affordable housing in the UK is an absolute scandal that is largely hidden by media and political disinterest.

Refusing to properly address the issue is certainly one of the biggest policy failures of the NuLab years, simply allowing the Thatcherite policy disaster to rot beneath it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:58:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Honda Replaces Strikers in China - NYTimes.com

ZHONGSHAN, China -- Striking workers at a Honda auto parts factory here in southeastern China have won higher wages -- but not necessarily for themselves.

Factory managers began hiring a steady stream of replacement workers on Sunday, and a significant number of strikers went back to work after increases in wages and benefits, even as many others remained on strike.

The 20 or so members of the factory's new council of workers, chosen by the workers to represent them when the strike began on Wednesday morning, went into hiding on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, fearing retaliation by the local authorities.

The auto parts factory increased wages by 11 percent and an allowance for food and housing by 33 percent, as of Sunday. The combined increase in wages and benefits was considerably less than the near doubling of wages alone sought by the strikers. But the increases offered by the factory were enough to make the jobs attractive to replacement workers.

The remaining strikers held a small rally outside the factory on Sunday morning but then went home and made no effort to picket the factory as normal operations resumed.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In China's Honda Factories, Two Unlikely Labor Leaders - NYTimes.com
Tan Guocheng is hardly a self-styled labor leader. Age 23 and introverted, he grew up among rice paddies and orange groves far from China's big factory towns.

But last month, an hour into his shift at a Honda factory in the southern city of Foshan, Mr. Tan pressed an emergency button that shut down his production line.

"Let's go out on strike!" he shouted. Within minutes, hundreds of workers were abandoning their posts. <...>

He saw the $7 raise last January as the final insult.

"I came up with the idea of going on strike," he said. But it was not easy, he said, trying to recruit colleagues in secret talks on the factory floor during breaks. He says he tried to persuade five or six senior workers on his assembly line to strike, but, "They said they weren't brave enough."

"I said: `I'll be the one to lead.' And they said, `OK, we'll follow you.' "

A week before the strike, 15 or so workers from Mr. Tan's workshop had a meeting outside the factory one night to discuss the plan. "Before that," he said, "we'd had random talks on the shuttle bus to work."

A 20-year-old worker named Xiao Lang, also from Hunan, agreed to help lead the strike -- partly, the two now say, because they had decided to resign from the company regardless of the outcome. ...



If you can't pay the bills, it's not sustainable.
by marco on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:33:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Companies / Banks - Moody's calms Europe bank debt fears
European banks would be able to absorb "severe" losses on their exposure to Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Irish assets without having to raise additional capital, according to a new study from Moody's, the credit rating agency.

The analysis, based on Moody's own "stress test" of more than 30 European banks from 10 countries, may ease fears about the financial sector's exposure to embattled eurozone economies amid the spectre of a Greek debt default.
...
The research also found that private sector debt was a more significant exposure for most banks than sovereign or public sector debt.

The stress test by Moody's assumed a forced sale of public sector bonds at 20 per cent below the steepest fall in market valuation in recent months. While Moody's describes such a sale as a "low probability" event, it concludes that European banks have the capital buffers in place to cope.
...



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 06:10:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Banks that are leveraged at up to 50 to one already and have known bad loans on their books? Perhaps Moody is trying to make amends.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 12:24:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - Strong euro hid crisis, says EU chief
Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Union, has blamed the strength of the euro in recent years for blinding the eurozone to its underlying fiscal problems.

He also criticised financial markets for overreacting to those economic difficulties and being too heavily influenced by "rumours and prejudices".

He said: "The markets were too indulgent in the first decade, but now they overreact a lot of the time to small incidents.

"What went wrong wasn't what happened this year. What went wrong was what happened in the first 11 years of the euro's history. In some ways we were victims of our success.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 06:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If van Rompuy is now being described as President of the European Union, imagine what the press would be calling Blair had he gotten the job.

Note to the FT: it's President of the European Council.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 08:53:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does Fiscal Austerity Reassure Markets? - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com
But I suddenly realized this morning that there's yet another question for the deficit hawks: what evidence do you have that fiscal austerity of the kind you're demanding would reassure markets, even if they did lose confidence?

Consider, if you will, the comparative cases of Ireland and Spain.
...
Well, I guess that's right -- if by "markets impressed" you mean a CDS spread of 226 basis points, compared with 206 points for Spain; not to mention a 10-year bond rate of 5.11 percent, compared with 4.46 percent for Spain.

So, I'm glad to hear that Ireland's stoic acceptance of austerity is reassuring markets; it must be true, because that's what everyone says. Because if I didn't know that, I might look at the data and conclude that markets actually have less confidence in Ireland than they do in Spain, and that austerity in the face of a deeply depressed economy doesn't actually reassure markets at all.



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 09:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the heels of DoDo's Socratic Economics: Inflation:

Does Japan really have a public debt problem? | Martin Wolf's Exchange | FT.com

The conventional wisdom in both Japan itself and the west is that the country has an unmanageable public debt problem. I find this quite unpersuasive. <...>

In 2010, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Japan will pay net interest of 1.1 per cent of gross domestic product on net financial liabilities of 105 per cent of GDP. Since 2000, Japan's average rate of deflation (on the GDP deflator, the widest measure of inflation) was 1.2 per cent. So let's treat the expected real rate of interest on Japanese government borrowing at 2 per cent.

So here is the plan.

First, extend the maturity of debt to at least 15 years from the today's average of 5.2 years.

Second, hire a central bank governor who knows how to create inflation - an Argentine, for example. <...>

Third, let us suppose inflation indeed goes to 3 per cent. <...> In the new inflationary environment, the Japanese find the real value of their huge holdings of cash falling sharply. So they buy real assets and consumer goods, instead, and, at last, the economy expands vigorously. <...>

By extending maturities of debt, moving from deflation to modest inflation, Japan eliminates almost half of its outstanding debt, relative to GDP, and normalises the economy, in the process. <...>

Countries with their own central banks do not need to default; they can inflate, instead. Provided they can borrow at long enough maturities and on favourable terms, the amount of inflation needed to eliminate huge debt overhangs is not enormous, provided it is unexpected. In Japan, any inflation would now be unexpected, given current long-term interest rates. So the solution there seems to be perfectly straightforward. What do you think? Leave your responses below.



If you can't pay the bills, it's not sustainable.
by marco on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 10:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Manuel Arias | June 13 8:34pm
Indeed - as an Argentinean I am quite puzzled about all the talk about the debt crisis in Japan, USA or UK, all countries whose debt is denominated in a currency whose policymakers control. Of course, inflating public debt away creates other policy challenges and it is awful from the distributive point of view, but an inflation handled with care (ie, where long term expectations are of low inflation, but short term expect are say in the 4-7% range) can lead to healthy outcomes in the current scenario of zero interest rates. It will certainly help the private sector repair their balance sheets as well, as many businessmen in my home country know.
For all those who argue that this is being nasty to the creditors/savers: it is, but in most cases the outcome for this sector is not as bad as a default, or cleaning balance sheets through a protracted recession/deleveraging. Plus, in most of the developed world investors can find cheap ways of hedging against inflation.

vitaliale | June 13 8:34pm

I come from Italy, a country somehow similar to Japan for its huge debt, its mostly internal holding and for demographic structure (ageing population). (of course differences are also a lot).

I see your proposal with an underlining policy, alas to transfert wealth from old people to youngster. Peolpe holding Japan's debt are mostly Japanese elderly, inlfating it would deminish their wealth while increasing their spending its quite difficult since probably they have already a structured life that hardly could change.

Young generations on the other hand most proably do not have reserves and could have more easily spending objectives (children, house, social climb, etc..).

However this solution is hardly politically bearable since elderly control most votes and in the short term won't let things change. In a conservative and close society like Japan (and Italy as well) a foreign national banker is a swear.


If you can't pay the bills, it's not sustainable.
by marco on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 10:17:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd go further: Japan has no public debt problem. I don't see how the BoJ could ever lose the ability to set government bond rates.
by generic on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:15:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The same recipe could be applied to the Eurozone.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:35:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i was wondering about that.  probably a stupid question, but could Greece have applied this strategy, even though it does not have its own currency?

If you can't pay the bills, it's not sustainable.
by marco on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ECB would need to do it, over Germany's dead body.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:01:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Countries with their own central banks do not need to default; they can inflate, instead. Provided they can borrow at long enough maturities and on favourable terms, the amount of inflation needed to eliminate huge debt overhangs is not enormous, provided it is unexpected.
Also how to go about creating inflation without controlling monetary policy?
by generic on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the political problem is a culture of hoarding, just attempting to increase inflation won't lead to more spending - it may in fact lead to more hoarding as people try to protect their savings from depreciation by accumulating more of it.

The only way to get people to save less is to provide them with a sense of safety, that they won't need to keep a large personal rainy day fund.

In the current employment policy environment, and with the erosion of the social safety net over the past decades, saving is a rational insurance policy. A few years ago, some Americans would consider untapped credit card lines as a form of unemployment insurance. If you get laid off (on short notice, usually) and have meagre unemployment benefits, you can use a credit card to tide you over to the next reasonably-paid job. That worked if you had a credit limit of a few multiples of monthly expenses, and reasonable expectations of being able to find a job in that time. Alternatively, you can accumulate savings.

Wolf, however, includes in his recipe "tax increases and spending cuts", presumably on the social safety net, which might be an incentive for people to continue saving.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:33:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in the past inflation if not helped at least coincided with easing of Japan's savings levels:


Levels of investment in Japan, South Korea and China in 1957-2007 from "Rivals" by Bill Emmott

As you can see Japan's investment rate had peaked at 40% of GDP in 1970 but then started to slide due to external shocks: 1. End of Bretton Woods system caused revaluation of yen, 2. Oil shock in 1973 caused worldwide inflation.

by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 10:36:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:42:03 AM EST
Saudi Arabia: We will not give Israel air corridor for Iran strike - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Saudi Arabia would not allow Israeli bombers to pass through its airspace en route to a possible strike of Iran's nuclear facilities, a member of the Saudi royal family said Saturday, denying an earlier Times of London report.

Earlier Saturday, the Times reported that Saudi Arabia has practiced standing down its anti-aircraft systems to allow Israeli warplanes passage on their way to attack Iran's nuclear installations, adding that the Saudis have allocated a narrow corridor of airspace in the north of the country.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi envoy to the U.K. speaking to the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, denied that report, saying such a move "would be against the policy adopted and followed by the Kingdom."

According to Asharq al-Awsat report, bin Nawaf reiterated the Saudi Arabia's rejection of any violation of its territories or airspace, adding that it would be "illogical to allow the Israeli occupying force, with whom Saudi Arabia has no relations whatsoever, to use its land and airspace."

Earlier, the Times quoted an unnamed U.S. defense source as saying that "the Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
aha, pro-Israeli personnel within the US decided to create problems for the US govt by announcing a dangerous policy shift.

for everybody's sake, the source of that story needs to be found and removed.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:03:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Netanyahu: Naval blockade on Gaza will not be lifted - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday that he supports easing the three-year blockade Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip, but that he would not approve the lifting of the naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory.

With this declaration, Netanyahu rejected the proposal made by the foreign ministers of France, Spain and Italy, who suggested that in the future, Gaza-bound ships be searched by European inspectors in Cyprus.

The suggestion was made after a clash between Israeli navy commandos and Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship, part of a flotilla of ships aiming to break the blockade, resulted in the deaths of nine activists last month.

Netanyahu said during the meeting that "Israel will continue to prevent ships from reaching Gaza, while simultaneously easing the blockade." He added that other nations in the region also oppose lifting the naval blockade, saying that "the arrival of ships directly to Gaza is problematic, not only for us, but for others as well."

Netanyahu's remarks came following a report in Haaretz that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told U.S. President Barack Obama during his recent visit to Washington that he opposed the lifting of the naval blockade because such a move would bolster Hamas, the rival of Abbas' Fatah party.

However, Abbas' spokesman issued a denial on Sunday in response to the morning's report, explaining to the Palestinain Wafa news agency that the Palestinian president had told Obama that the lifting of the blockade on Gaza was like the peace process in the sense that "the president [Abbas] has raised the demand to lift the blockade in all his meetings with world leaders."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:53:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't single out Helen Thomas   LAT

The veteran journalist was pilloried for her remark about Israel, but where's the uproar over such comments directed at Palestinians?

....

Mainstream politicians, civic leaders, university presidents and others in this country routinely express their support for Israel as a Jewish state, despite the fact that such a state only could have been created in a multicultural land by ethnically cleansing it of as many non-Jews as possible. Today, Israel is only able to maintain its Jewish identity because it has established an apartheid regime, both in the occupied territories and within its own borders, and because it continues to reject the Palestinian right of return.

,,,,

Where was the outrage in 1983 when Israeli Gen. Rafael Eitan looked forward to the day that Jews had fully settled the land, because then "all the Arabs will be able to do about it is scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle"? Or when Alan Dershowitz suggested in 2002 that Israel summarily empty and then bulldoze an entire Palestinian village as a punitive measure each time it was attacked? Or when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claimed in 2006 to have discovered a "pathology" that caused some Arabs to "hate others more than they love their own kids"? Or when Avigdor Lieberman (who now serves as Israel's foreign minister) said in 2004 that Palestinian citizens of Israel should "take their bundles and get lost"? Or when Israeli professor Arnon Sofer, one of the country's leading demographic alarmists, said that to preserve the Jewish state, Israel should pull out of Gaza, though that would require Israel to remain at the border and "kill, and kill, and kill, all day, every day"?

An endless deluge of statements of support for the actual, calculated, methodical dehumanization of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular goes without comment; whereas a single offhand comment by an 89-year-old journalist, whose long and distinguished record of principled commitment and challenges to state power entitles her to respect -- and the benefit of the doubt -- causes her to be publicly pilloried.

To accept this appalling hypocrisy is to be complicit in the racism of our age.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA. He is the author of, among other books, "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation."


Not to mention Juan Cole's assertion, (#10):

The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine did not for the most part leave after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE. They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine under Roman rule and then Byzantine. They gradually converted to Christianity. After 638 CE all but 10 percent gradually converted to Islam. The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 12:58:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely 110% agree.

But who cares ?

Oh listen grouchy old woman said something horrible about Israel. Oh noes, she must be destroy-ed

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:51:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am just glad the op-ed ran in the LA Times. That is the significance, such as it is.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 10:37:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, in terms of the LAT exposing some of the DC-kabuki as the sham it is that is a significant step.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 12:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, Beni Ziffer in Ha'aretz is not that far from Helen Thomas. Here are some selected rough translations.
Give the next peace prize to the person who will create the National Jewish secular home in Berlin

[...]

I realized that in order to save the Jewish people from sinking into a religious reaction and [something] under the influence of the forces of darkness that have taken over Israel recently, one should think, in all seriousness, or a program of "transfer" of secular Jews to Berlin, so that they will create a secular progressive core that can serve as a alternative counterweight to Israel as it is now. Possibly the "spiritual centre" that Ahad Ha'am, preached for in the distant past. Israel will not be able to become the spiritual centre of the Jewish people. It's a lost cause.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:02:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Asia-Pacific - Kyrgyzstan gives army shoot-to-kill power

OSH, Kyrgyzstan, June 13 - Kyrgyzstan will send reserve forces and volunteers to its troubled south on Sunday after a third night of gun battles took the death toll to 80 in the central Asian state's worst ethnic violence in two decades.

The interim government of Kyrgyzstan, an ex-Soviet republic hosting US and Russian military bases, granted shoot-to-kill powers to its security forces after deadly riots between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement it would send a volunteer force to the south because the situation in Osh and Jalalabad regions - strongholds of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev - remained "complex and tense".

A Reuters correspondent said gunfire could be heard from an Uzbek neighbourhood of Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, where homes and businesses have been burned to the ground, but the shootouts had become less frequent than 24 hours ago.

Renewed turmoil in Kyrgyzstan has fuelled concern in Russia, the United States and neighbour China. Washington uses an air base at Manas in the north of the country, about 300 km (190 miles) from Osh, to supply its forces in Afghanistan.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:57:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kyrgyzstan to Send Troops, Volunteers to South in Effort to Quell Violence | Asia | English

As violence in Kyrgyzstan continues, the interim government says it will send troops to the southern part of the country in an effort to stem violence there that has killed at least 100 and injured more than 1,000 others.

After a third deadly night of gun battles, the interim government of Kyrgyzstan says it will send reserve forces and volunteers to the cities of Osh and Jalaabad to try and stop the worst ethnic violence in more than 20 years.

Viktor Moyseyev is deputy head of the Oktyabrksy Mobilization Center in the capital, Bishkek.

He says, we have informed reservists about the mobilization today. Now when they come we have to check their information and background, they have to undergo medical check-up and after that they are ready to be sent to the military units.

Saturday, the interim government granted the former Soviet republic's security forces shoot-to-kill powers, after ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern cities of Osh and Jalaabad continued fighting for the second day, burning homes and businesses. Witnesses say rioters used gasoline bombs, guns, stones and other weapons during the fighting.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:36:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
according to Uzbek's community leaders the number of dead is over 700. If true it will be on scale of 1990's riots.

I am afraid Russia will be pressurized to stop spillover into other parts of Kyrgyzstan and the least Kremlin should expect is the huge multibln doll bill. Hopefully Kyrgyz authorities (whose legitimacy is questionable) won't need any military help from outside. But Russian rulers should find political managers inside Kyrgyzstan to supervise reconstruction process on the lines of other Russian protectorates like South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

As for commentaries in the Western press they were as usual irresponsible. German newspapers called perspective of Russian military involvement "disastrous" and advocated UN and OSCE involvement instead or even neighbouring states. Do UN or OSCE have divisions to stop bloodshed? Whom they want to send instead of Russians - Uzbeks?

by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Intelligence Puts New Focus on Afghan Graft - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- The military's intelligence network in Afghanistan, designed for identifying and tracking terrorists and insurgents, is increasingly focused on uncovering corruption that is rampant across Afghanistan's government, security forces and contractors, according to senior American officials.

Military intelligence officers in Afghanistan are scouring seized documents and interrogating captured fighters and facilitators -- but not just to learn about insurgent networks that plan attacks, plant roadside explosives and send out suicide bombers.

They are also looking for insights on how to combat a widespread perversion of authority by Afghan power brokers, which senior officials describe as "a plague" on the American-backed effort to build an effective and competent government and win the support of the Afghan people.

It is a remarkable but perilous military undertaking in a sovereign country, particularly in a place of conspiracy theories and constantly shifting alliances, where it is hard to know who can be trusted and where many people are historically skeptical of what they see as intrusiveness by outsiders, this time by the Americans.

The United States and its NATO allies may find themselves following leads that point to the top levels of government, because even close family members of President Hamid Karzai have been accused of engaging in the drug trade and enriching themselves with lucrative business deals. American contractors are among those accused of wrongdoing, and some in the United States government have been known to look the other way rather than upset Mr. Karzai.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:19:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Way too late. Pandora is out of the box and has been running amok for far too long.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:52:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil Spill May Spur Action on Energy, Probably Not on Climate - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- Images of gushing oil and dying pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico have stirred anger and agony in Washington. But are they enough to prod the Senate to act on long-delayed clean energy and climate change legislation?

Energy, maybe. Climate, probably not. There is growing sentiment for a measure that penalizes BP, imposes higher costs and tougher regulations on offshore drillers and takes some steps toward reducing overall energy and petroleum consumption.

But despite the outrage over the spill, there appears to be limited appetite in the Senate for a broad-based effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions across the board.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:34:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bullshit.  Nothing will change.  Corporations own our governments, period.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:53:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
given that US clean energy involves nuclear power and the fantasies of carbon capture, they aren't doing anything on that either

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:53:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / China / Society & People - China workers get to grips with labour rights
Strikes were far from unusual in China, even before the recent headline-grabbing strikes at Honda suppliers. Those disputes appear to have inspired a handful of copycats elsewhere, but in Suzhou - typical of manufacturing centres in the Yangtze River Delta - Honda-style collective action aimed at raising pay has yet to emerge. 

Disputes in Suzhou appear to owe more to the 2008 Chinese labour law, which has subtly fostered a new culture of worker rights, according to labour analysts. The law strengthened worker rights significantly and has led to a huge rise in litigation and arbitration over individual labour disputes.

"China is entering into a new era of enhanced consciousness among workers," says Dong Baohua, professor of law at East China University of Politics and Law. "Workers born after the 1980s and 1990s are concerned not just about pay but about safety, rights and respect." 



"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 04:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reports: Foxconn to close factories in China - Techworld.com
Foxconn - the electronics manufacturer whose clients include Apple, Dell and HP - is on the verge of closing its mainland China operations in a massive restructuring effort that could see 800,000 workers lose their jobs.
...
The iPad manufacturer also made headlines yesterday after it announced it will no longer pay extra compensation to families of employees who kill themselves. The announcement follows a spate of suicides at its sprawling south China factory.

Hat tip naked capitalism

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 09:09:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dismantling Factories in a Dreamweaver Nation_English_Caixin
Recent events at Foxconn and Honda factories are symbols of this new China. The labor force isn't as plentiful or compliant as before, and the ways that governments and businesses are handling the situations expose their ignorance of a new reality. They still think these are isolated incidents and, through pressure and bribery (such as a little wage increase for all and then firing rebel leaders) can bring the situation back to normal.

They think this way because of a generation gap, and the unusual relationship between local governments and businesses in China. The economy has raced three times faster than western economies did a century ago, and the generation gap seems three times larger as well. Today's young adults and their parents may as well be from different centuries. But government and business leaders are all from the parental generation, handling labor crises from this old perspective.

Hat tip naked capitalism

The whole article is worth reading.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 09:20:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
America leaves Iraq a toxic legacy of dumped hazardous materials - Times Online

American troops going home from Iraq after seven painful years are leaving behind a legacy that is literally toxic.

An investigation by The Times in five Iraqi provinces has found that hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules.

North and west of Baghdad, engine oil is leaking from 55-gallon drums into dusty ground, open acid canisters sit within easy reach of children, and discarded batteries lie close to irrigated farmland. A 2009 Pentagon document shown to The Times by a private contractor working with US soldiers mentions "an estimated 11 million pounds [5,000 tonnes] of hazardous waste" produced by American troops.

But even this figure appears to be only a partial estimate. BrigadierGeneral Kendall Cox, who is responsible for engineering and infrastructure in Iraq, told The Times yesterday that he was in the process of disposing of 14,500 tonnes of oil and soil contaminated with oil. "This has accumulated over seven years," he said.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:18:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON -- The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits -- including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium -- are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan's mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:47:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guess the US will not leave Afghanistan any time soon now.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:48:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can recall Jerome on many occasions debunking the argument that the US invaded Afghanistan for the oil.

But I wonder about this one, especially given this evidence. Read how they describe the source of this information, and consider the gaps in the story:

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com

In 2004, American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learned that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

During the chaos of the 1990s, when Afghanistan was mired in civil war and later ruled by the Taliban, a small group of Afghan geologists protected the charts by taking them home, and returned them to the Geological Survey's library only after the American invasion and the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

"There were maps, but the development did not take place, because you had 30 to 35 years of war," said Ahmad Hujabre, an Afghan engineer who worked for the Ministry of Mines in the 1970s.

Armed with the old Russian charts, the United States Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan's mineral resources in 2006, using advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment attached to an old Navy Orion P-3 aircraft that flew over about 70 percent of the country.

If those charts existed in the 1970s, and if the Soviets knew about this in the 1980s, it would be the shock of the century if the neo-cons in the Bush White House did not know of this before the invasion and occupation and Afghanistan in 2001.

I don't know what the Bush-Cheney original plan for Afghanistan was upon seizing power in November 2000, but September 11 meant that invasion and occupation was now not only viable, but would command widespread public support. All to get the minerals they knew were there. Only after invasion and occupation could they actually prove it and do the kind of in-depth surveys needed to begin exploiting it.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 02:04:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El Pais comments on this news that "there's hopes that this could be a breakthrough for Afghan economic development" because now the most profitable economic activity in Afghanistan is opinum production and mining would be an improvement.

Except that Afghanistan could end up like the Congo and, considering

"There were maps, but the development did not take place, because you had 30 to 35 years of war," said Ahmad Hujabre, an Afghan engineer who worked for the Ministry of Mines in the 1970s.
there's no reason why the mines could be developed now.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 04:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
indeed. maybe fighting over supposed riches will only intensify.
by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:02:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can think of one good reason why development will be unlikely. There ain't no transport to take the ore out and no energy sources to process it within.

You'd have to build a railway from wherever these minerals are to a convenient railhead outside the country. South, West or East are impractical due to both terrain and politics. North is difficult but an awful long way. And an awfully tempting target.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:03:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Real soldiers worry about logistics.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:05:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post-hoc rationalisation.

The US invaded Afghanistan because it wanted to kill some ragheads in revenge for 9/11. Throw some little country up against the wall. Show the world that the US had balls. Oh, and exploit the domestic political advantages of being a war leader.

Other motivation may have been helpful in coalition building within the US establishment, but I don't think they were basic drivers. Nice bonuses, not reasons. After the fact they've become excuses. It's less terrible to think that the US was led into war by leaders who were interested in their own profit than it is to think that it was a more basic, savage drive for revenge and dominance that was behind it.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:10:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Noam Chomsky: The New War on Terror (October 24, 2001)
Leaderless Resistance

You know, it could be that the people who did it, killed themselves. Nobody knows this better than the CIA. These are decentralized, nonhierarchic networks. They follow a principle that is called Leaderless Resistance. That's the principle that has been developed by the Christian Right terrorists in the United States. It's called Leaderless Resistance. You have small groups that do things. They don't talk to anybody else. There is a kind of general background of assumptions and then you do it. Actually people in the anti war movement are very familiar with it. We used to call it affinity groups. If you assume correctly that whatever group you are in is being penetrated by the FBI, when something serious is happening, you don't do it in a meeting. You do it with some people you know and trust, an affinity group and then it doesn't get penetrated. That's one of the reasons why the FBI has never been able to figure out what's going on in any of the popular movements. And other intelligence agencies are the same. They can't. That's leaderless resistance or affinity groups, and decentralized networks are extremely hard to penetrate. And it's quite possible that they just don't know. When Osama bin Laden claims he wasn't involved, that's entirely possible. In fact, it's pretty hard to imagine how a guy in a cave in Afghanistan, who doesn't even have a radio or a telephone could have planned a highly sophisticated operation like that. Chances are it's part of the background. You know, like other leaderless resistance terrorist groups. Which means it's going to be extremely difficult to find evidence.

Establishing Credibility

And the US doesn't want to present evidence because it wants to be able to do it, to act without evidence. That's a crucial part of the reaction. You will notice that the US did not ask for Security Council authorization which they probably could have gotten this time, not for pretty reasons, but because the other permanent members of the Security Council are also terrorist states. They are happy to join a coalition against what they call terror, namely in support of their own terror. Like Russia wasn't going to veto, they love it. So the US probably could have gotten Security Council authorization but it didn't want it. And it didn't want it because it follows a long-standing principle which is not George Bush, it was explicit in the Clinton administration, articulated and goes back much further and that is that we have the right to act unilaterally. We don't want international authorization because we act unilaterally and therefore we don't want it. We don't care about evidence. We don't care about negotiation. We don't care about treaties. We are the strongest guy around; the toughest thug on the block. We do what we want. Authorization is a bad thing and therefore must be avoided. There is even a name for it in the technical literature. It's called establishing credibility. You have to establish credibility. That's an important factor in many policies. It was the official reason given for the war in the Balkans and the most plausible reason.

You want to know what credibility means, ask your favorite Mafia Don. He'll explain to you what credibility means. And it's the same in international affairs, except it's talked about in universities using big words, and that sort of thing. But it's basically the same principle. And it makes sense. And it usually works. The main historian who has written about this in the last couple years is Charles Tilly with a book called Coercion, Capital, and European States. He points out that violence has been the leading principle of Europe for hundreds of years and the reason is because it works. You know, it's very reasonable. It almost always works. When you have an overwhelming predominance of violence and a culture of violence behind it. So therefore it makes sense to follow it. Well, those are all problems in pursuing lawful paths. And if you did try to follow them you'd really open some very dangerous doors. Like the US is demanding that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden. And they are responding in a way which is regarded as totally absurd and outlandish in the west, namely they are saying, Ok, but first give us some evidence. In the west, that is considered ludicrous. It's a sign of their criminality. How can they ask for evidence? I mean if somebody asked us to hand someone over, we'd do it tomorrow. We wouldn't ask for any evidence. [crowd laughter].

(my emphasis)

I remember hearing this lecture on the radio, on Democracy Now, when it happened.

It also explains why the US didn't want NATO to invoke the mutual defence clause and preferred to go it alone with UK support.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:30:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent - Pakistan spies have 'seat on Taliban council'

Pakistan's notorious spy agency provides crucial funding and training to Taliban fighters operating inside Afghanistan and is represented on the movement's leadership council, according to a new report that says links between the two are deeper than previously believed.

Such is the importance of the relationship, says the report, that President Asif Ali Zardari recently visited Taliban prisoners, assuring them they would soon be released and telling them: "You are our people."

While links between the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the Taliban have been known for many years, the report by the London School of Economics, based on interviews with Taliban commanders inside Afghanistan, suggests it is the "official policy" of Pakistan, which sees the fighters as providing strategic depth

coming up next : Shock news about Pope's religious beliefs.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:42:27 AM EST
Vital River Is Withering, and Iraq Has No Answer - NYTimes.com

SIBA, Iraq -- The Shatt al Arab, the river that flows from the biblical site of the Garden of Eden to the Persian Gulf, has turned into an environmental and economic disaster that Iraq's newly democratic government is almost powerless to fix.

Withered by decades of dictatorial mismanagement and then neglect, by drought and the thirst of Iraq's neighbors, the river formed by the convergence of the Tigris and the Euphrates no longer has the strength the keep the sea at bay.

The salt water of the gulf now pushes up the Faw peninsula. Last year, for the first time in memory, it extended beyond Basra, Iraq's biggest port city, and even Qurna, where the two rivers meet. It has ravaged fresh-water fisheries, livestock, crops and groves of date palms that once made the area famous, forcing the migration of tens of thousands of farmers.

In a land of hardship and resignation and deep faith, the disaster along the Shatt al Arab appears to some as the work of a higher power. "We can't control what God does," said Rashid Thajil Mutashar, the deputy director of water resources in Basra.

But man has had a hand in the river's decline. Turkey, Syria and Iran have all harnessed the headwaters that flow into the Tigris and Euphrates and ultimately into the Shatt al Arab, leaving Iraqi officials with little to do but plead for them to release more from their modern networks of dams.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:58:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plan to burn excess oil from BP well raises health questions | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- Plans to burn hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil from BP's blown-out well are raising new questions about the health and safety of the thousands of workers on rigs and vessels near the spill site.

BP and the federal government are in new territory once again in dealing with the nation's worst environmental disaster: There's never been such a huge flaring of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, or possibly anywhere.

The incineration of such huge amounts of oil combined with the black clouds of smoke already wafting over the Gulf waters from controlled burns of surface oil create pollution hazards for the estimated 2,000 people working in the area.

Dozens of rigs and ships are clustered in the area around the spill site.

The Discoverer Enterprise, the main recovery ship, is recovering as much as 15,000 barrels of oil a day through a pipe from the wellhead. A second vessel, the Q4000, is being prepared to pull up more oil and burn it. Experts say it could be burning 10,000 barrels, or 420,000 gallons, a day.

Dr. Phil Harber, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the burning oil could expose workers to toxins that might cause severe respiratory irritation, asthma attacks and inflamed airways depending on how the burns are handled. Burning oil is a fairly common method of relieving pressure in refinery operations, he said.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coast Guard rejects BP oil leak plan as too little, too late | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- The Coast Guard has told oil giant BP that its proposed plan for containing the runaway Deepwater Horizon well does not take into account new higher estimates of how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and demanded that the company provide a more aggressive plan within 48 hours.

In a letter dated Friday and released Saturday, Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. Watson also said that BP was taking too much time to ready ships to capture oil spewing from the well.

"You indicate that some of the systems you have planned to deploy may take a month or more to bring online," Watson, who is the federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, wrote Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer. "Every effort must be expended to speed up the process."

The 48-hour deadline is the second the Coast Guard has given BP in the past week and indicates a growing recognition on the part of the Coast Guard that both BP and the Obama administration underestimated for weeks the amount of oil pouring from the well, which began leaking when an April 20 explosion shattered the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 workers. The rig sank two days later, taking a mile of well pipeline with it.

For weeks, the Obama administration and BP said the spill was leaking 5,000 barrels a day -- about 210,000 gallons. On May 27, a government task force of scientists revised that estimate to a minimum of 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day, and possibly much more. Then on Thursday, the government doubled those estimates to between 20,000 and 50,000 barrels a day, saying those, too, may understate the size of the leak because a decision to shear off the well's riser pipe to add a "top hat" containment device may have unleashed more oil.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:04:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exxon Valdez experts: Gulf oil spill response off to a bad start | McClatchy

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- With their futures dark and confused, desperate residents of the Gulf of Mexico are turning to veterans of Alaska's Exxon Valdez oil spill for clues about what they're facing. The word from Alaska, whether it's about cleaning up, economic recovery, despondency or lawsuits: Expect years of deep trouble, but there are ways to cope.

"Here's a life-changing and terrible event, and the less people know about it, the more concerned they get," said Stan Senner, who served as science coordinator for the federal-state agency that was set up to study and recover from the 1989 Alaska oil spill. "No one wants to hear bad news, but even worse is just simply not knowing the news."

Senner, now the director of conservation science for the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group, is among dozens of Exxon Valdez experts who've been trekking around the Gulf, attending community meetings, boating through marshes threatened by oil and lobbying officials to avoid mistakes made 21 years ago in Alaska. Other Alaskans who've remained home are taking phone calls by the dozens from the area.

Senner said that a key lesson learned from the Exxon Valdez was the need for "complete transparency on the part of the government in what they know and what they're doing to find out what they don't know."

The Gulf spill has gotten off to a bad start, he said. "There's an amazing lack of information about what is being done and what the government knows," he said.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama Plans to Force BP's Hand on Oil Spill Fund - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- President Obama for the first time will address the nation about the ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night and outline his plans to legally force BP executives to create an escrow account reserving billions of dollars to compensate businesses and individuals if the company does not do so on its own, a senior administration official said on Sunday.

"The president will use his legal authority to compel them," said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman.

Mr. Gibbs did not elaborate on the legal basis for such a move but said that White House lawyers have been researching the matter for days. The president is seizing the initiative after reports on Friday from London that BP would voluntarily establish an escrow account -- either for compensating victims or for delaying a planned dividend for BP shareholders -- turned out to be less certain than the White House initially thought.

The escrow account that the White House envisions would be roughly modeled after the fund established for victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and it would be administered by a third party to provide greater independence and transparency and to guard against the company too narrowly defining who is entitled to payments and how much.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:17:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melting Glaciers Imperil Some--But Not All--Asian Rivers: Scientific American

Melting glaciers in Asia could cause food shortages for up to 60 million people who live in the region's major river basins, a new study finds.

But the research, published yesterday in Science, found that the shrinking glaciers will have less of an impact on Asia's freshwater supply than estimated in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

That 2007 report suggested loss of glaciers and snowpack could eventually leave "hundreds of millions" of people in Asia without sufficient water. It has also come under fire for an error-riddled paragraph that claimed Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

But the new study by researchers in the Netherlands suggests that increased rainfall in some river basins will blunt the effect of the disappearing snow and ice.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:26:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:42:51 AM EST
French Protest of Israeli Raid Reaches Wide Audience - NYTimes.com

PARIS -- A small cinema chain has set off a sharp debate in France about the deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza, and whether some French are overreacting to the episode.

In what was described as a protest against Israeli actions, the Utopia chain canceled all screenings of an Israeli comedy, "Five Hours from Paris," scheduled to open this month. Instead, it decided to show a French documentary about Rachel Corrie, a young American who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while she protested the destruction of Palestinian housing in Gaza in 2003.

For Anne-Marie Faucon, the co-founder of Utopia, a chain of art cinemas in five cities, the ban was a gesture of disapproval for Israel's use of violence and the blockade of Gaza. "It was a protest of our whole company," she said in an interview. "We show many Israeli films, we organize a lot of debates on what happens in the world, but this time we reacted very strongly and in a very emotional way."

But for others, including Richard Prasquier, the president of a major French Jewish organization, the ban was another sign of the growing "delegitimization of Israel" among the intellectual classes in France.

"It's totally scandalous," Mr. Prasquier said in an interview. "This cultural boycott is ridiculous, but it defines the way some people think in our country -- in black and white, and they are always on the white side, and the black is always the most powerful and wealthiest and somehow Israel is always there."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:59:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't believe I never heard of Rachel Corrie before.  What a sad and nasty story.
by njh on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 07:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The news didn't get "media attention" when it happened.

Since it didn't get "media attention" it didn't happen.

</cynicism>


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

by ATinNM on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 07:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French Protest of Israeli Raid Reaches Wide Audience - NYTimes.com
"We show many Israeli films, we organize a lot of debates on what happens in the world, but this time we reacted very strongly and in a very emotional way."

Emotional, but how well thought out?  Is this move going to make Israeli artists, and the Israeli public at large, reflect upon the misdeeds of its government and military?  Or will it simply drive more of the Israeli public into believing that "the world is against Israel"?

A subtler strategy -- more defensible against M. Prasquier's charge of black and white thinking -- would have been to run Five Hours from Paris as planned while bookending each showing of the Israeli Comedy with free screenings of the Rachel Corrie documentary.

If you can't pay the bills, it's not sustainable.

by marco on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 09:57:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You raise interesting questions about the instrumentality of money as it figures in a parlor piece about the ill-conceived boycott  --specifically, preserving a market for Israeli-made products regardless of dubious, bilateral institutional agreements to mediate "fair trade" conditions.  Is money a token of impartiality? "Bookending each showing of the Israeli comedy with free screenings of the Rachel Corrie documentary"  would put Utopia in a contrary position to management's political aspirations: to change the company's customary business practices and demonstrate the purchase power of a boycott. This alternative requires Utopia either to pay for or to penalize the privilege of distributing Rachel, while assuring income from 5 hours.

Moreover, there's no obvious curatorial rationale for juxtaposition of these two particular features. If I were in position to choose a complement to 5 hours, I'd choose from a stack of post-colonial, semi-autobiographical, nomadic, bi-cultural journalism produced annually by immigrant directors. Consider this excerpt from a book forthcoming that captures the sentiment of a young filmmaker Kamal El Mahouti which is shared by many others.

I think in terms of specific examples because there's no authentic politic of cinema in Africa and in the Maghreb. It's based on Western models, and we don't ask ourselves, Why we make these films?  We produce them to please our ego. We must ask ourselves how to shape the industry and how to develop the craft. What will it bring to people's daily life? What could potentially emerge? If a film doesn't catalyze reflection or promote change, but boosts a person's ego instead, then it's not interesting.

Prasquier's phrase "cultural boycott" is a thin disguise of the opprobium attributed to civil disobedience by Boers or Dixiecrats. It is the sort of language these scions of impartiality would have embraced, if they had not so many bullets, rope, dogs, trees, and statutes to defend their "way of life" from maroons and 'coons, respectively. Application of the phrase "cultural boycott" to Utopia corporate ethics deflects comprehension of events by observers from public sanction of and indifference to INEQUITY among its members to spurious explanations of racial bigotry.

Le Monde for its part labels the boycott "censorship." Together in this NYT story, they connive in agitprop meant to "delegitimize" independent discourse initiated by distributors such as Utopia. So Prasquier cannot credibly elect 5 hours to status of scapegoat for a nation; for Israeli-financed, Dutch director Ludi Boeken has simultaneously endorsed condemnation of Utopia by cancelling "his" distribution agreement with it in France to repudiate paradoxically "the Israeli right" which perhaps involuntarily pays his operating expenses.

The crucial incident reported is this: Mitterand responded to Faucon et al.'s decision to drop one title by an Israeli director and replace it with a title by another Israeli director is a demonstration of purchase power of a boycott --as well as its limits-- by insinuating

"[his] incomprehension and my disapproval" of the cancellation and noting that the chain received government subsidies to encourage diversity of programming.

That was a threat to withhold state subsidy, a "cultural boycott," if you will, pending reversal of Utopia's program schedule to the satisfaction of the Ministry.

Subtlety is purportedly what Utopia ordinarily practices in curatorial selections. The moral significance of this particular action is, apparently, no exception.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 10:52:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marijuana, Made in Germany: A Booming Business in Illegal Cannabis Plantations - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

German cannabis plantations are now edging imports from Morocco and Afghanistan out of the market. The trend began after the Dutch government began driving growers out of the country. But police in Germany are also cracking down, using helicopters and infrared cameras to ferret out illegal hemp cultivators.

Police Commissioner Marco Stein chose the parking lot on Highway 102, near the city of Brandenburg in eastern Germany, at random. His task was a routine traffic check, making sure that passing cars were carrying a vehicle registration and a first aid kit in the trunk.

It looked to be a routine day of police work. But Stein and his colleagues had only waved down the first few cars when they began to notice the sweetish scent of cannabis. For the most part, there were only mothers with their children in the cars they pulled over -- the odor must have been coming from somewhere else. The commissioner took a look around, peering at a nearby hall that once belonged to a construction supply shop and a neighboring fast food stand. The neighbor's German shepherd growled behind a hedge, but there was nothing else around.

The hall's doors were made of corrugated metal and covered with thick metal bars. The windows were taped over with opaque sheeting. But when Stein, 36, approached a ventilation pipe, any remaining doubts he might have had quickly vanished. He alerted his superiors.

Two hours later, equipped with a search warrant, the commissioner and his colleagues from the criminal investigation department broke down the doors and found themselves in a sea of lush green. Cannabis sativa plants were lined up neatly, watered by an ingenious system of tubes and thriving under artificial light. The building contained more than 2,500 plants in all, from small shoots to bushes as tall as two meters (6.5 feet).



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:16:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Strong earthquake hits near India's Nicobar Islands

An earthquake of 7.5 magnitude has hit near India's Nicobar Islands, in the Indian Ocean.

The US Geological Survey said it occurred about 150km (95 miles) west of the Nicobar Islands and 440km from Sumatra, Indonesia.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a warning for the entire Indian Ocean region.

The agency later downgraded the warning to India only, before cancelling the alert altogether.

"Sea level readings indicate that a significant tsunami was not generated," the Hawaii-based centre said.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Space Probe Returns After 7 Years and Asteroid Landing - ABC News

SYDNEY, Jun (Reuters) - A Japanese space probe, which scientists hope is carrying a sample from an asteroid, has returned to Earth, blazing a spectacular trail across the sky in the Australian outback, witnesses said Monday.

The Hayabusa probe is returning home after a seven-year mission which took it to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa, on which it landed in 2005. Scientists hope it has brought back a sample, the first time one has come back to Earth from any other world, except our own Moon.

An Australian defense official speaking from the area told Reuters Monday the probe lit up the sky as it returned on schedule around midnight local time (1430 GMT) over the Woomera weapons testing range in South Australia state.

"It was like a shooting star with a starburst behind it. It was fantastic," the official told Reuters by telephone, saying officials were on their way to discover its exact landing site and retrieve its contents.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:41:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Technology Review: One Tablet per Child

The philanthropic organization One Laptop per Child (OLPC) never quite managed to hit its price point for its "$100 laptop," but now the organization is sketching a concept for a $75 tablet computer that it hopes will further decrease power consumption and pioneer the first flexible LCD display.

"A tablet is simpler than a laptop, so it's easier to make a tablet cheaper," says Ed McNierney, OLPC's chief technology officer. But beyond that basic advantage, he says, the key to achieving super-low cost while also innovating is by working to establish common designs that can be broadly adopted and customized by other companies.

The project starts with processor technology from a commercial partner, Marvell, known for super-low power consumption--potentially as little as one watt, compared to the five watts consumed by OLPC's flagship machine, the XO. Marvell is already customizing tablet platforms for use in U.S. schools.

Building on this, OLPC wants to add a new screen technology. Starting with its existing LCD technology--which is itself pioneering in that its pixels both transmit backlight for indoor use and reflect ambient light, similar to e-books, for outdoor use--OLPC wants to take it one step further by replacing a glass layer with a rugged plastic layer capable of withstanding impacts and slight bending.

The existing LCD technology pioneered by OLPC is now being commercialized by Pixel Qi, a startup founded by former OLPC chief technology officer Mary Lou Jepsen. OLPC says it aims to produce a prototype of its new machine, dubbed XO-3, in time for the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iceland passes gay marriage law in unanimous vote - Yahoo! News

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland, the only country in the world to have an openly gay head of state, passed a law on Friday allowing same-sex partners to get married in a vote which met with no political resistance.

The Althingi parliament voted 49 to zero to change the wording of marriage legislation to include matrimony between "man and man, woman and woman," in addition to unions between men and women.



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 Jun 13th, 2010 at 08:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Icelandic president is openly gay? I wonder how his wife feels about that...
by Trond Ove on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:37:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberals and Libertarians Need Each Other    Guest Post: By Bob Goodwin in Naked Capitalism

Ideological groupings of the population are an interesting phenomenon. I believe they are caused by two human traits. People need a mental construct or shortcut to make sense of complex externalities, and likely overuse these constructs. More importantly people are social animals, and will use social settings (like NakedCapitalism) to refine and align their constructs. Liberalism is the largest ideology (by population count) in the US with about 30%. Libertarianism is less than half the size of Liberalism, with Evangelical Christianity the only other grouping larger that Libertarianism. These social groupings are imperfect with the majority of adherents lacking the sophistication to debate the nuances, and adherents frequently carving out exceptions or adhering partially to multiple ideologies. But as social forces they are each unmistakable and powerful.

....

There are natural turning points in history. American Liberalism came to prominence during the Great Depression and American Libertarianism out of the collapse of Calvinism during the industrial revolution. We are at another turning point now, with the aging of the Baby Boomers, and the collapse of the permanent American wealth machine. Let me list issues that are less important than they were 10-20 years ago: Guns, Gays, God, Abortion, State Security, Crime, Drug enforcement, Labor Unions. I did not say they are unimportant - just overtaken by other issues.

But most importantly the role of the government and markets has evolved in both liberals and libertarian minds. Not changed, evolved. We now have a common enemy: the Corporatist elite, who have corrupted both the free market and captured the regulatory apparatus of our government. Corporatists have power in both political parties, and this is where our common interests lie. The Tea party is disrupting the Republican Party (with some success) and the progressive movement has been successful in elections but unsuccessful in policy at undermining the entrenched corporate influence on the democratic side. The Corporatists have an interest to see their enemies divided and marginalized. But the combined power of these two movements is close enough to 50% of the population to overpower the Corporatist movement which has power far beyond its numbers.

Alignment of dissonant ideologies is difficult. It involves several steps.

    1. Agree on common ground. This common ground needs to be sufficient to justify collaboration.
    2. Agree to disagree respectfully. For example, the border shooting is going to elicit different opinions. It is not a central fight. So disagree.
    3. Try to use neutral language on collaborative topics.
    4. Try to ignore opponent's ideological language that is necessary to create cohesion within their ideology.
    5. There must be demonstrable achievements to justify the discomfort.

Joe Trippi was on Fox News the other day saying that the Tea Party was real, and should be respected. He may well be saying that because he hopes the Tea Party will disrupt the Republicans. Regardless of his logic, that is a good step. As a Libertarian I would like to celebrate four Liberals who have done battle with Corporatists. Three have lost. Liberal Senator Marie Cantwell of my home state of Washington stared down Corporatist Senators Schumer and Reid on bank reform and lost. Liberal Senate candidate Ned Lamont won the Democratic primary, but lost the general to now Independent Corporatist Joe Lieberman. Bill Halter ran as a labor union Liberal against incumbent Corporatist Senator Blanche Lincoln, and lost. Liberal Admiral Joe Sestak beat Republican/Democrat/WhoCares Corporatist Arlen Specter.

....

I do not actually know how well we can work together. Can liberals ever accept a libertarian like Sharron Angle, whom corporatists claim is against social security and Medicare (I am not convinced this is true, but some of the claim will stick) in her battle against Chief Corporatist Harry Reid? Can libertarians support Maria Cantwell who has never seen a problem without wanting to impose a government solution? I don't know. I would like to think we could, which would require us to first agree on a common enemy, and then change our use of language to broaden the appeal of an argument across ideologies.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:20:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have previously advocated an alliance of convenience with the Libertarians for the purpose of bringing down the bi-partisan Corporatist governing mode of the USA. Until and unless that is accomplished, nothing else matters much.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:23:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Tea Party isn't comprised of Libertarians, it's mostly comprised of dimwit Repugs who want a return to a mythical 50s that never existed and driven by corporatists who are using their noise as cover.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never advocated an alliance with the Tea Party. It is just more Corporatist astroturf. But what the author seems to be talking about is attempting an alliance with libertarians, in effect, providing both progressives and libertarians with an alternative to Republicans and Democrats. That could peel off some of the more sane members of the Tea Party.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 10:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Features and Distortions in the Daily Mail - Angry Mob
n 2007 Susan George was held hostage, violently raped twice and was hours away from what police described as `certain death'. However, her determination and mental strength allowed her to beg her attacker for over half an hour to drive her to a 24-hour garage in the early hours of the morning for one last packet of cigarettes. At the garage she whispered to the attendant that the man in her car and raped her twice and was going to kill her. To her eternal gratitude the garage attendant phoned the Police who managed to intercept Susan's car just minutes before she completed her journey home.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:16:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the Daily Mail. Waddaya expect ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 08:29:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:43:22 AM EST
Slovenia takes Group C lead on another goalie flub | Sports | Deutsche Welle | 13.06.2010
Continuing a Group C trend, a goalie mistake gave Slovenia the win over Algeria to take the lead in Group C. The three points are a comfort to the Slovenian side, which is set to take on a formidable US team on Friday. 

Another goalkeeper blunder gave Slovenia its first-ever World Cup win on Sunday, as it defeated Algeria 1-0 in Polokwane.

For the first half of the Group C match-up between Slovenia and Algeria, both teams were playing a cautious game that didn't offer much in the way of scoring opportunities. The game was scoreless when the teams headed for the locker room at the break, and neither team took strong control of the game early in the second half.

However, a substitution for Algeria proved to be a turning point in the game. Abdelkader Ghezzal was brought in to replace Rafik Djebbour in the 58th minute, only to receive a yellow card sixty seconds later. Just 15 minutes after that, Ghezzal was booked again for a handball and sent off the pitch.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATandT Security Breach May Blight Business Use for the IPad - Security from eWeek
Goatse Security exploited a security hole on AT&T's Website that enabled it to access the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of iPad 3G devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry. That could cloud what was a previously fine forecast for the adoption of the tablets among businesses. Researchers at Citrix last month said 84 percent of 494 customers surveyed said they would allow their employees to use their personal iPads for work. Analysts discuss the various use cases for the iPad in businesses.

It's too early to gauge what sort of hit the iPad will take among enterprises and business leaders who previously believed Apple's iPad was a dandy device for corporate road warriors.

Goatse Security exploited a security hole on AT&T's Website that enabled it to access the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of iPad 3G devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry.

That could cloud what was a previously fine forecast for the adoption of the tablets among businesses. Researchers at Citrix last month said 84 percent of 494 customers surveyed said they would allow their employees to use their personal iPads for work.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
very strong and broad compendium today, Danke dvx and ET.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 04:47:30 AM EST
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- SMBC Comics

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:37:49 AM EST
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