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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 3 January

by dvx Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 03:54:26 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europe on this date in history:

1925 - Benito Mussolini announces he is taking dictatorial powers over Italy.

More here.

Mussolini's booking photograph following his arrest by Swiss police, 1903

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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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:19:48 PM EST
Nick Clegg 'wins fight to scrap control orders' | Law | The Guardian

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is said to have won his cabinet fight to scrap control orders, the restrictive conditions that impose virtual house arrest on some terror suspects.

Under alternative measures awaiting government approval, suspects will no longer have to wear electronic tags or have a home curfew imposed on them, and will be allowed to use mobile phones and home computers for the first time, according to the Sunday Times.

They will also be allowed to travel wherever they want in Britain, but not abroad, it is claimed.

The report comes after a group of human rights organisations upped the pressure on the government over the issue.

However a spokesman for Nick Clegg told the Guardian that no decision had yet been made regarding control orders.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain introduces tough new anti-smoking laws | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.01.2011

Smokers in Spain are no longer allowed to light up a cigarette in bars and cafes after new anti-smoking legislation came into effect on Sunday, January 2.

 

The new law replaces one of Europe's most relaxed anti-smoking legislation with one of the strictest.

 

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  There are fears the ban could hit Spain's bars hardThe measures completely prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces such as bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as outdoor areas such as children's playgrounds and hospital grounds.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's difficult to assess the actual impact of smoking on bars.

Bars that cater for youth will lose out as this clientele find other places to go and drink.

Food places will benefit massively.

Bars that adapt to a female friendly, more mature audience will do well as they will find that people who were long driven from bars by the ghastly smell will be drawn back.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:40:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German foreign minister urges tough line over Belarus arrests | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 02.01.2011

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the European Union had to confront the political leadership of Belarus over reported electoral corruption and repression in the country.

 

"We will insist that there is a clear political response from the EU to the interference with the election in Minsk," Westerwelle told the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

 

"An unequivocal answer to the political officials and the president is necessary, saying that the repression of freedom is not acceptable," he said.

 

Germany has been a staunch critic of the leadership in Minsk as Belarus continues to detain hundreds of opposition supporters that arrested during a mass protest over the disputed December 19 presidential elections, in which incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - Police campaign to stop France's annual car-torching tradition

It's something of a tradition in France. Every New Year's Eve, hundreds of cars are torched by revellers making no point other than wanton destruction.

And the announcement of the tally of destruction from New Year's Eve has become a media tradition in its own right.

Last year in Strasbourg, traditionally a hotspot for New Year disturbances, some 70 cars were set on fire, while at least 350 were burned in Paris and its surrounding suburbs.

In total, 1,137 cars were set alight last year, slightly less that the 1,147 torched in 2009.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Posted yesterday by afew, with the following comment:

afew:

Mass-media presented the need for many police by giving time to Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux who said there was a terrorist threat, and secondly by using this "annual tradition" language about car-torching.

No one I heard mentioned the decades-old tradition by which youngsters die in early-morning after-night-club high-speed alcohol-fueled car smashes - all year round, not just New Year's Eve. That's presumably a healthy national habit. Not.A.Problem, move on.

The government announced they would not publish any tally of the number of cars torched this year, so as "to not encourage the vandals into some record breaking contest".

As a matter of fact, despite all the muscle flexing and the "tough on crime" storytelling from the Sarkozy/Hortefeux over the past eight years, crime statistics are not getting any - yet more reason to suppress them.

Reducing the number of police officers on the streets would do that to your cities; all this in the pursuit of the sacred goal: slashing the number of overpaid, blood sucking parasites civil servants by half.

Stats lovers can rejoice however: the government did publish some figures after all, not torched cars mind you, the number of arrests on new year's eve: 501 this year, vs 405 in 2010 and 288 in 2009. Progress at last!

And, oh, two days later, it turns out "the new year's eve wasn't so quiet", after all, triumphant communiqués from the government notwithstanding:

Le Figaro - France : Une nuit de la Saint-Sylvestre pas si tranquilleLe Figaro - France : A not so quiet New Year's Eve
Deux morts, plusieurs blessés graves... Même si aucun «incident majeur» n'est survenu selon le ministère de l'Intérieur, plusieurs drames ont entaché le passage à la nouvelle année. Le Parti socialiste dénonce un «bilan minimaliste».Two deads, several people severely wounded... Even though no «major incident» occured, according to the Ministry of Interior, several tragedies have marred the transition to the new year. The Socialist Party is denouncing a «minimalist report».
La nuit de la Saint-Sylvestre en France n'a semble-t-il pas été aussi tranquille que ce que pensait samedi le ministre de l'Intérieur, Brice Hortefeux.New year's eve in France hasn't been, it seems, as quiet as Minister of Interior, Brice Hortefeux, was thinking on Saturday.

(this from Le Figaro, an almost official newspaper of the UMP ruling party; like Jérôme, I like my sources unimpeachable)

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 04:55:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mass direct action is hardly dinosaur politics | Michael Chessum | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Never let them tell you that protest achieves nothing. Before the first national student demonstration on 10 November the government could talk with impunity about a programme of unprecedented co-operation in the name of the national interest.

Within a month it was beating schoolchildren off the streets and rushing Liberal Democrat MPs through the lobbies against their own election pledges. The contrast between the vibrant student protests and the suited millionaires in the cabinet, some of whom have now admitted that they voted against their stated intentions, is stark.



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 Jan 3rd, 2011 at 07:15:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mass direct action is hardly dinosaur politics | Michael Chessum | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

The return of mass direct action on campuses and on the streets has carved out a political space quite distinct from the old structures of resistance. Its rejection of the rhetoric of deficit reduction and the inevitability of austerity and social injustice has yet to find serious backing from the front benches of the Labour party, which for years concerned itself precisely with the reaffirmation of market-driven economics.

Ouch
It also stands in stark contrast to the National Union of Students, which has nervously refrained from any kind of direct ideological challenge to the status quo - preferring a politics of appeasement and an abandonment of the principle of free higher education. There is now evidence to suggest that its president colluded with the government to cut maintenance allowance for the poorest students. NUS leaders must end this culture of vanity and capitulation. Those who are incapable of doing so should resign.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:56:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
National Union of Students secretly urged Government to make deep cuts in student grants - Telegraph
The NUS has helped focus student anger and Aaron Porter, its president, has been the Coalition's most vocal critic, frequently accusing ministers of betraying students.

The Daily Telegraph has seen emails from Mr Porter and his team in which the NUS leadership urged ministers to cut grants and loans as an alternative to raising tuition fees.

In private talks in October, the NUS tried to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees.

Double ouch.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Evidently Mr Porter is angling for a high value government internship at the conclusion of his Presidency this summer.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it telling that Porter would defend the fee-paying students at the expense of those receiving grants or taking out loans. Not only is that the more regressive possibility, it was also good political advice for the government since it seems "top-up-fees" was a more predictable trigger of opposition than cutting grants and loans. And certain MPs and cabinet members had pledged not to raise fees, but had signed no pledge to maintain the level of grants and loans.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:32:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rank and file NUS membership has always been far more militant than its leadership. With much of it considering that many of its higher ups are only there as a stepping stone to jobs in the labour party. (and being the source of much of the gutless lobby fodder that the party has put into safe seats.

Having hung around student political people, I dont see any strong stand being taken by the leadership unless Ed mouths some support. And at the slightest hint of disaproval of strikers from the parth hierarchy in the face of the daily mail, theyll fold faster than anything.

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 Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:30:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberal Conspiracy - Dave Osler - In praise of moral outrage: reply to Douglas Alexander

Harold Wilson famously declared that the party was a crusade or it was nothing, and let's just say that in the Blair years, it wasn't exactly a crusade. Detestation at Britain's obvious class-based inequalities - once a given on the Labour left, and at least a theoretical postulate for the Labour right - gave way to being intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.

Loyal Blairite Douglas Alexander, writing in the Guardian this morning, at least grudgingly concedes that `moral outrage is a laudable response to manifest unfairness', which I suppose is progress of sorts. However, he warns, it is not an adequate electoral strategy.

Whoever said it was? I'm not sure who he is trying to finger with that remark. This is curiously softball polemic, mysteriously directed to `those on the centre left' who unfortunately remain nameless.  But I am not aware of anyone on the centre left, or even on the hard left, calling for the next manifesto to be confined to ill-defined angry platitudes.

If Alexander is contending that Labour needs a persuasive platform capable of winning a plurality of the electorate, then the article would be devoid of worthwhile content. But from the tone of the piece, it is immediately clear that he is warning against any re-emergence of democratic socialist politics.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:20:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it is simply devoid of worthwhile content.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Coming from a Blairite scumbag, it's certainly a serious likelihood, but I think Osler was too savvy to expressly say it.

but I find it worrying that the Labour party is still in thrall to the deficit cutters. I'd hoped Ed M might strike a new path economically, but that mirage is fading as NuLab maintains momentum

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cue in Keynes: "but we are so sensible, having schooled ourselves into a semblance of prudent financiers..."

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 11:42:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the comments chilling. I know that the paid trolls are almost all conservative, the world over, but this is the Guardian. Towards fascism we keep sliding, and there is little ground left, il any.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course, right after posting, I kept reading and many comments were suddenly taking the other view. It's just that the reactionaries can reply quicker, not needing to think in order to regurgitate their canned arguments.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:56:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian has, in attempting to become the "world's (ie USA's) favourite liberal blog", has found itself increasingly being trolled by american right wingers who know little of european liberal tradition, yet are contemptuous of it anyway.

So I've given up reading comments of the Guardian political columns cos I'm sick of reading Tea Party ignorance.

Plus, the CiF comments aren't nested or useful in terms of maintaining a dialogue, so what's the point ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:15:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am so unused to reading the comments on news sites that I hardly even notice them. I didn't, in this case.

Comment is free, and you get what you pay for.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:26:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Comment is free, and you get what you pay for. "

Well, comment is free on ET. It's still a major source of information for me.

OK, lest anyone should feel offended, I'm not trying to equate the comments on the Guardian with those around here. But being free is no guarantee for rubbishness, even though big business would like us to believe so. Unix and Wikipedia come to mind.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Senior backbench Tory warns against 'Frankenstein' merger with Lib Dems | Politics | The Guardian

A senior backbench Tory MP has hit out at suggestions that the two parties in coalition could form a joint party he calls a "2015 Frankenstein" to fight the next general election.

MP for The Wrekin Mark Pritchard warned that grassroots Tory activists would be unlikely to support David Cameron in key polls such as May's electoral reform referendum if talks of a merger are not firmly squashed by the prime minister.

Pritchard is secretary of the Tories' backbench representatives, the 1922 committee, a group that is growing increasingly disenchanted with their leadership on the back of a feeling that they exert themselves more to assist Nick Clegg's base than their own. The committee is expected to become increasingly voluble, with some of its number threatening to rebel on key pieces of legislation due in the next few months.



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 Jan 3rd, 2011 at 07:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can imagine a good chunk of the LibDem activist base would be aghast at a merger with the Tories.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:50:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean more aghast than they are already?

You'd get a formal split - the left-leaners would head off to NuNuNuLab, the right-leaners would join the country club Tories, and the tofu knitters would try to find their local Greens.

The LibDems would be finished as a political entity - but realistically they are already, so all a formal alliance would do is give career LibDems a chance to hold on to their seats.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's some concern-trolling from the Torygraph:

Only a merger with the Tories will save most Liberal Democrat MPs

... The biggest single risk the Prime Minister faces is Nick Clegg being dragged out of the Coalition by Lib Dem activists who fear that sharing power is destroying their party.

One could read the faint desperation in the Deputy Prime Minister's New Year message. It was directed not at the country but at his remaining party activists. He listed concessions apparently wrung from the Conservatives: some 800,000 lifted out of income tax and a pupil premium set up in schools. It is a list that Cameron is keen to lengthen, possibly by abolishing control orders and reforming the Lords. Ken Clarke's policy of reducing prisoner numbers has been thrown in for free. There have been concessions galore.

Little wonder, then, that Lib Dem strategists talk in private about a "reverse takeover" of the Conservative Party, though much good it does them in the outside world.

It's interesting that the headline talks about saving the LD MPs, while the body of the article is about saving Cameron and his coalition.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:05:18 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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:20:06 PM EST
FT.com / Media - Regulator reports on BSkyB-News Corp deal

LONDON, Dec 31 - A report examining whether News Corp's proposed $12bn buyout of BSkyB would give too much media power to Rupert Murdoch was sent to the British government on Friday, without being made public.

News Corp, led by Mr Murdoch, wants to buy the 61 per cent of the British satellite broadcaster it does not already own for £7.8bn to consolidate a business it helped build.

However, rivals have raised concerns that the merger would give Mr Murdoch too much influence over public opinion.

The government asked Britain's communications regulator Ofcom to examine the deal and to make a recommendation as to whether it should be referred for further inspection by Britain's Competition Commission.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China-Russia oil pipeline opens - Business - Al Jazeera English

Russia has begun oil shipments to China via an East Siberian link, with supplies delivered in January expected to hit 1.3 million tonnes, Russian officials say.

Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, confirmed on Saturday that the supplies had begun.

Russia, the world's biggest crude oil exporter, has concentrated most of its 50,000km-long pipeline network in West Siberia, but the new Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline gives it access to the world's largest energy consumers' market.

According to the final schedule for crude oil exports and transit, in January-March 2011, Russia will ship 3.68 million tonnes of oil to China via ESPO.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:45:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are pipelines easier to lay than railways? 50000km is a lot of steel, a lot of concrete, and presumably, a lot of earthwork.
by njh on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 04:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would guess less grading is required for pipelines...
by asdf on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 06:35:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India launches shariah stock index | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times - FT.com

The Bombay Stock Exchange has launched India's first index of companies compliant with Islamic law, or shariah, in an effort to bring more of the country's 175m Muslims into mainstream finance, and to attract investment from foreign shariah-abiding funds.

Shariah finance has become a trillion-dollar global business, most notably in the Gulf. But in spite of India's sizeable Muslim population, it has not yet taken off in south Asia. The creators of the new index - called the BSE Tasis Shariah Index and launched on Monday - hope to change that.

The index is made up of the 50 biggest Indian companies whose operations are deemed to be consistent with shariah - meaning that they don't derive significant profit from interest payments, or sell products or services such as tobacco, alcohol or weapons, which are considered in the Islamic faith as sinful.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, what ? Like Bank of Credit commerce International in which an awful lot of western based muslims were encouraged to lose their shirts

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welfare bill soars as coalition counts cost of austerity drive | Politics | The Guardian

Rising unemployment will cost the government £1.5bn more than expected in welfare benefits, according to official forecasts that reveal the hidden cost of the coalition's austerity drive.

As big increases in VAT are due to bite from Tuesday, analysis from the Office for Budget Responsibility shows slowing economic growth will make it harder to reduce the deficit by forcing more people to seek state support.

The Treasury watchdog calculates the government will have to pay out £700m more in unemployment benefit than previously forecast. Similarly, a higher number claiming jobseeker's allowance as well as falling into lower wage brackets will see the government needing to pay out another £700m more in housing assistance over the next four years.



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 06:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who Could Have Predicted?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More austerityvirgin tossing into the volcano is clearly needed.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ELPAÍS.com in English: Bank of Spain draws battle lines in ongoing war of interest rates
After already issuing one warning, which was ignored by the banking sector, Central Bank officials are demanding that savings and commercial banks- those that have received public money or plan to receive it- stop their "aggressive campaigns" to attract customers to open accounts.

The Central Bank, which is headed by Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, wants to prevent a banking war that could accelerate a collapse of the institutions that offer high interest rates. Although such campaigns can help banks solve their short-term liquidity problems, it forces them into an impossible situation where they would have to pay off the high interest rates they are offering to customers after one year. Currently, some banks are offering up to five percent on some accounts when Treasury notes are listed at 3.5 percent and interest in the interbank market doesn't go beyond 1.5 percent.

Through this warning, the Bank of Spain has effectively put a halt to free market competition by clipping the wings of those institutions that have received public money. The nation's larger banks and some savings banks (popularly known as cajas in Spanish) have lodged complaints against the regulatory body because they feel that the government has "reined in" their rights to conduct business as entitled under European Commission rules.

This "deposit-taking war" has been going on for 8 months...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The central bank setting interest rate policy: A clear violation of the commercial banks' "rights to conduct business as entitled under European Commission rules."

I can haz banking reform now?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:05:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ceiling market sez no can haz.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:14:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting first roundup of the year from Eurointelligence: A year of truth for the eurozone
In an editorial, [Frankfurter Allgemeine] noted that Germany could count on Estonia for support of a northern European monetary union - without the countries of the Mediterranean.
So, does Germany really want to split the Eurozone into an exporters' union and an importers' union? That would nullify the advantages of Euro membership for Germany.

Trolling from the FAZ editorial pages aside, there's more:

Nobody, of course, has switched any substantive positions. A good example was the comment from Wolfgang Schäuble in a German newspaper interview:  "The higher yield level expressed in so-called spreads is both incentive and sanction... That's why this mechanism should not be put out of work through a collectivisation of the yield level, including in the form of euro bonds."
But the most interesting bit is

Is Merkel ready to drop Axel Weber for the ECB job?

Frankfurter Allgemeine has an interesting if speculative article about why Merkel might drop Weber in the race for the ECB presidency. The theory goes like this: Merkel is getting closer to Sarkozy on the euro because Germany wants the ECB to help out where governments are constrained for political reasons  - through bond purchases, continuation of flexible lending policies, and low interest rates. For example, Germany opposes an extension of the EFSF's size and mandate, while the ECB wants governments to solve the problem. Weber might not be the most conducive candidate for a compliant ECB. The paper quotes an official close to Merkel as saying that Germany was no longer pushing for a German central banker at the top of the ECB, but for the most qualified central banker. The authors of the Herdentrieb blog predicted that Klaus Regling would get the job.

Who is Klaus Regling? Would we like him as a Central Banker?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Financial Stability Facility - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Chief Executive Officer of the EFSF is Klaus Regling, a former Director General of the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, having previously worked at the IMF and the German Ministry of Finance.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:13:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Economist: Klaus Regling: Chief bail-out officer

IT IS registered in Luxembourg, the "offshore" domicile of many hedge funds. It has hundreds of billions of euros with which to place macroeconomic bets. And from July 1st the newly formed European Financial Stability Facility, the special-purpose vehicle (SPV) set up to support ailing euro-zone countries, is even being run by a former hedgie. But this is one fund that will never short its investments.

That might not be an entirely bad thing: it means the man knows how to swim with the sharks. But is he too close to the industry for comfort?
Klaus Regling owes his appointment as the SPV's chief executive to his nationality as well as his expertise. The fund will be able to borrow as much as €440 billion ($537 billion) to lend to struggling countries. Its borrowing will be guaranteed by euro-zone countries, and Mr Regling's native Germany could be on the hook for €148 billion of those guarantees.

But his past experience also recommends Mr Regling for the job. The 59-year-old has spent the better part of four decades flitting between the IMF, Germany's finance ministry and Brussels. He played a key role in drawing up the Stability and Growth Pact in the 1990s while based at the German finance ministry. The pact, which was a condition Germany insisted on before agreeing to give up its precious D-mark, was intended to rein in profligacy among countries using the euro and prevent the mess that they are now in. Mr Regling then spent much of the past decade trying to enforce it as the director-general for economic and financial affairs at the European Commission. He also did a stint working at Moore Capital, a big hedge fund that specialises in macro strategies such as bets that currencies or commodities will rise or fall.

Oh, dear, let us not get a Central Banker who is in love with the German Stupidity Pact.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:20:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing like a hopeless recession to get people to undust the past.

Last December 28, Die Zeit published the following piece about a topic dear to our hearts...

Historisches Experiment: Das Wunder von Wörgl | Wissen | ZEIT ONLINEHistorical experiment: the wonder from Wörgl
Wie bekommt man das Geld zum Zirkulieren und in hoffnungsloser Rezession die Wirtschaft in Schwung? Ein österreichischer Bürgermeister wagte 1932 ein erstaunliches ExperimentHow does one get money to circulate and the Economy going in a hopeless recession? An Austrian mayor carried out an astonishing experiment in 1932.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:34:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wörglwiki:
Despite attracting great interest at the time, including from French Premier Edouard Daladier and the economist Irving Fisher, the "experiment" was terminated by the Austrian National Bank on the 1st September 1933 on the basis of the "Certified Compensation Bills" being a threat to the Bank's monopoly on printing money.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:59:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bank Of America Has A Team Of 15 People Feverishly Preparing For The Wikileaks Torpedo
We already know that one of their methods was to buy up abusive domain names like brianmoynihansucks.com, and that they set up a so-called "SWAT team" to prepare their defenses. 

And this is how they're preparing for the battle:

  • Chief risk officer Bruce Thompson is heading up a team of 15 to 20 of the bank's top dogs that's undertaking a far-reaching internal probe of thousands of documents.
  • They've hired consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to aid the investigation, and have obviously spoken to several law firms about what might happen if Wikileaks docs reveal private information about their clients.
  • CEO Brian Moynihan gets regular updates on the team's progress.
  • They're looking for missing computers  because Assange has previously said he had 5 gigabytes of information (apparently enough to hold more than 200,000 pages of text) on BofA on a hard drive - one of the main reasons the public believes they are the target. So far they've found no evidence that Assange does have a hard drive.
  • The bank thinks that what is more likely is that if anything, Wikileaks has documents on paper and discs it gave to the SEC during congressional investigation into BofA's acquisition of Merrill Lynch. They're also considering documents that could reveal embarrassing details about the Countrywide fiasco.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 10:53:51 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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:20:22 PM EST
Iranian woman sentenced to stoning lashes out at German journalists | World | Deutsche Welle | 02.01.2011

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning, told reporters at a press conference organized by Iranian judicial officials that she was "disgraced" by two German journalists who had interviewed her son.

 

"I have a complaint against them," Ashtiani said. "Why did they come here? Why did they come here and pose as journalists?"

 

The two German journalists in question - a reporter and a photographer - from the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper interviewed Ashtiani's son on October 10. They were then arrested for not obtaining the proper press credentials after entering Iran on tourist visas, according to Iranian officials.

 

"I have come in front of the cameras at my own will to talk to the world," Ashtiani was reported as saying. "I am willing to talk because many people exploited (the case) and said I have been tortured, which is a lie."



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Associated Press: Report: Iran may commute woman's stoning sentence

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Authorities reviewing a death by stoning sentence against an Iranian woman convicted of adultery could still halt the punishment, a senior judiciary official said Sunday as Iran struggles to mute an international outcry over the case.

The comments, however, offered no clear evidence that Iran's judiciary would commute the sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was taken from prison late Saturday to meet with journalists in another bid by Iran to highlight her purported confession of helping her lover kill her husband.

Ashtiani -- who has previously appeared on state-run TV -- denied she has been tortured in prison and admitted she was an accomplice the murder. Security officials were present as she spoke.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:54:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is becoming an interesting case where this situation is evidently being used by the Iranian authorities. I suspect we're watching an internal factional power struggle being played out with the western press. But, between which parties and for what prize ??

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
I suspect we're watching an internal factional power struggle being played out with the western press. But, between which parties and for what prize ??

Correct.

But 'parties' are not really involved here: it is rather very complex oligarchic manouevring between a faction close to the Supreme Leader, and another upstart faction - not dissimilar to an Iranian 'siloviki' - of which the President is the puppet and which essentially made a hostile takeover bid in June 2009 which marked the final end of the last vestiges of theocracy in Iran.

At stake is ownership and control of the Iranian oil and gas complex as it continues to pass into 'private' (ie non-State) hands.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:47:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Roussef, Brazil's first female president, vows war on poverty | McClatchy

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Left-wing economist Dilma Rousseff, 63, was inaugurated Saturday as the first female president of Brazil, succeeding her popular mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In her inaugural address in the building that houses the lower house of the Brazilian Congress in the capital, Brasilia, Rousseff vowed that overcoming extreme poverty will be her top priority.

"My government's most obstinate fight will be to eradicate extreme poverty and to create opportunities for all," she said.

Her oath met with applause from 800 invited guests, including more than 20 foreign heads of state and government.

Lula left office with record popularity but could not stay on due to constitutional limits on consecutive presidential terms.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
N. Korea calls for peace, warns of 'nuclear holocaust' | McClatchy

BEIJING -- North Korea on Saturday called for dialogue and peace on the Korean Peninsula in a state-issued New Year's Day editorial, warning that a breakout of war with the South "will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."

While the statement also characterized South Korea's government as a "minion of war" beholden to "pro-U.S. war hawks," the document's repeated calls for more cooperation suggest that the North might be moving, for now, away from a pattern of attacks against the South.

"Active efforts should be made to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between North and South by placing the common interests of the nation above anything else," said the official message, which was carried by state media.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See this thread 4 days ago, with an extract from the War Nerd.
by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 04:59:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egypt arrests church blast suspects - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Egyptian police have arrested 17 people suspected of involvement in the bombing of a Coptic Christian church that killed at least 21 people, security sources say.

Sunday's announcement came as congregants were back praying in al-Qiddissine [The Saints] church, targeted the day before by a car bomb that also wounded 97 people.

Dozens of worshippers attended Sunday Mass at the church, located in the Sidi Bechr district of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, while riot police backed by armoured vehicles were deployed outside.

The service was marked by the grief and anger felt by a congregation devastated by the attack, which took place on Saturday outside the church's door about 30 minutes into the New Year.

Many wept while others cried hysterically, screamed in anger or slapped themselves.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:37:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Zapatistas: The war with no breath? - Features - Al Jazeera English

Tuxtla Gutierrez, Dec 31, 2010 - Seventeen years after rallying cries for land and freedom sparked the Zapatista rebellion, a quiet mist cloaks the mountains of Chiapas state in southeast Mexico. 

Unlike previous years, there are no major celebrations, no marches or fiery public speeches by rebels fighting for the region's long-neglected indigenous people.  

Hailed by the New York Times in 1994 as the "first postmodern Latin American revolution", some commentators in Mexico and beyond now consider the Zapatistas a spent force, a rebellion with strong rhetoric and little capacity, lacking the ability to deliver beyond its rural base. 

"The transformations the movement tried to make did not arrive," says Gaston Garcia Flores, a professor of philosophy who studies social movements at the Universidad del Mar in southern Mexico. 

But, after being pushed around for more than 500 years, others think it is naïve to consider the Zapatistas down for the count. 



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:38:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tea Party Activists Angry at Actions of G.O.P. Leaders - NYTimes.com

As Tea Party politicians prepare to take their seats when the 112th Congress convenes this week, they are already taking issue with Republicans for failing to hold the line against the flurry of legislation enacted in the waning weeks of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and for not giving some candidates backed by Tea Party groups powerful leadership positions.

Just a month ago, Tea Party leaders were celebrating their movement's victories in the midterm elections. But as Congress wrapped up an unusually productive lame-duck session last month, those same Tea Party leaders were lamenting that Washington behaved as if it barely noticed that American voters had repudiated the political establishment.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:45:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Debt ceiling a major test for GOP - Jake Sherman - POLITICO.com

Just days before Republicans take control in the House, the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling continues to loom over the nation's capital.

Congress is probably months away from being required to vote on increasing the nation's ability to borrow money, though official Washington is already positioning itself for the upcoming fight - with some lawmakers signaling they'd oppose the measure, others saying they aren't sure and the Obama administration predicting dire results if the ceiling is reached.

The vote, which could come at the earliest in March, is a prime example of where rhetoric might meet reality for newly elected House Republicans. Refusing to increase the country's borrowing capability was a major theme during the 2010 election season, as conservative Republicans promoted their deficit hawk views by vowing to oppose measures that would allow the Treasury to borrow beyond the $14.3 trillion ceiling Congress set in 2010.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:45:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever benefits the wealthy/powerful the most will rule the day. Nothing new, Tea Party be damned.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:01:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
House Republicans to bring up repeal of health-care law 'early' in new Congress

House Republicans plan to bring up a vote to repeal the health-care overhaul early in the new Congress that opens Wednesday, at least before President Obama delivers his State of the Union address later this month, a key Republican lawmaker said Sunday.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), incoming chairman of one of the House committees that oversees health policy, said undoing the Democrats' health reform law would be a top priority for the new GOP-controlled Congress.

Upton said on "Fox News Sunday" that he believes there may be enough opposition in the new House to reach the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto. Short of that, he said House leaders will "go after this bill piece by piece."



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tea party group: Homeland Security `a liberal hate group' | Raw Story

The United States Department of Homeland Security is one of the top five liberal hate groups of 2010, according to Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips.

Phillips said the federal department, which was created in response to the September 11 attacks by former President George W. Bush, is a "bad joke."

"DHS will not enforce border security," Phillips wrote on the Tea Party Nation website. "It makes Americans go through a joke of a security system when they want to fly. It invades their privacy while not going after terrorists."

"And then of course, there is the infamous report where DHS ignored pressing issues like illegal immigration and Islamic terror to put out a report warning about terror from 'right wing extremists,'" he continued. "The DHS Clown in Chief, Janet Napolitano borrowed a page from the Clinton administration to try and demonize conservatives with this idiotic report."



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 Jan 3rd, 2011 at 07:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Slow slow news day for the pontifications of a serious idiot rises to the top like this. Then again, after Dan Quayle and George Bush, I guess these nuts have to be kept on the radar.

But wow. Buy aluminum stock. Tin foil hat extravaganzas for the next couple years.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 12:41:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
those same Tea Party leaders were lamenting that Washington behaved as if it barely noticed that American voters had repudiated the political establishment.

I thought the Tea Party used refudiate in homage to their saintly wonder who can see Russia from her house

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 08:57:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan's government coalition partner quits - World news - South and Central Asia - Pakistan - msnbc.com

KARACHI -- Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the second largest party in the ruling coalition, will leave the governing alliance and sit in opposition at the federal level, the party said on Sunday.

The MQM said the decision was taken because of government fuel prices policy and means the U.S.-backed government of President Asif Ali Zardari may now collapse because it will lose its majority in the National Assembly.

"It has been decided. We will sit on the opposition benches in the National Assembly and the Senate," MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil 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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bolivia, LA PAZ - Ceding to pressure from protesters, Bolivian President Evo Morales revoked a decree that had ended subsidies for fuels and caused them to increase in price by up to 82 percent. In a message late Friday, Morales said he had decided to rescind the decree after meeting with unions and indigenous organizations who convinced him that the price hike for gasoline, diesel and other fuels was "inopportune."

BUENOS AIRES - A magnitude-6.9 earthquake on the Richter scale shook the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center,

BBC: A 7.2-magnitude earthquake has hit off the central coast of Chile, the US Geological Survey says. The epicentre was 95km (60 miles) northwest of Temuco with a depth of 17km, the USGS said.

El Mercurio, CHILE: In November, exports to ... [Japan] totaled U.S. $ 6,297 million, versus U.S. $ 5,890 million to the United States. Japan displaced the United States to third place as a destination for Chilean exports ..., leaving the U.S. behind China and Japan, according to Prochile and the National Customs Service.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 05:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING OFF THE PLANET 
 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:20:39 PM EST
'Biblical' floods hit Queensland and leave tens of thousands homeless | World news | The Observer

The northern Australian state of Queensland faces a flood of "biblical proportions" a local official warned yesterday, as rising water levels caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

The floods have already struck a vast swath of territory the size of France and Germany combined. More than 20 towns have been cut off or have been swamped by rivers that have burst their banks.

Touring the affected area, Queensland's state treasurer, Andrew Fraser, said the floods would cripple the area's economy. "The cost to the state will be huge, in direct costs such as rebuilding roads and other damaged infrastructure, and providing relief payments to families, but also in lost income, while the mining, agriculture and tourism sectors recover," he said, adding: "It is a disaster of biblical proportions."

Officials have warned householders to beware of venomous snakes and killer crocodiles that are threatening to invade flooded homes and businesses. About 200,000 people have been affected so far as at least six river systems experienced a flood surge following Australia's wettest spring on record. More than 1,000 people are staying in evacuation centres with that number expected to rise to 4,000 by the middle of the week. Ironically, the huge rains have come after prolonged years of drought in the normally dry continent-sized country.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:27:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
dvx:
Ironically, the huge rains have come after prolonged years of drought in the normally dry continent-sized country.

what's ironic about it?

this is eggsack-ly what climate theorists have been prophesying.

media... splutter!


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 09:44:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And their last line...continent-sized country...how did the editor miss that or did Australia lose their continent status when Pluto got dis'd to large asteroid status and I didn't hear about it?

Now, if they had said, country-sized continent...

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 12:59:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Activists clash with Japan whalers - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Environmental activists and Japanese whalers both released videos on Saturday, showing a confrontation in waters 3 000 kiliometres south of New Zealand.

The Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), authorised to catch whales by the country's Ministry of Fisheries, clashed with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Sea Shepherd alleged that the whalers turned water cannon and hoses on their crew, while whalers accuse the group of pelting their hunting fleet with "some rather unpleasant foul-smelling substances," they said in a statement.

A Sea Shepherd spokesman was unable to confirm what was thrown, but in previous years the activists have tossed rancid butter, or butyric acid, stink bombs at the whalers to make their decks unusable for slaughtering whales.

The conservationist group has been chasing the fleet in the hope of interrupting Japan's annual whale hunt, which kills up to 1 000 whales a year. Whalers accuse the activists of using dangerous tactics.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:37:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate Models Miss Effects of Wind-Shattered Dust | Wired Science | Wired.com

Clumps of dust in the desert shatter like glass on a kitchen floor. This similarity may mean the atmosphere carries more large dust particles than climate models assume.

Dust and other airborne particles' effect in the atmosphere is "one of the most important problems we need to solve in order to provide better predictions of climate," said climate scientist Jasper Kok of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Other researchers suspect current models also neglect a large fraction of the climate-warming dust that clogs the skies after dust storms.

Most climate models use dust data from satellites that measure how many particles of different sizes are suspended in the atmosphere. These measurements reveal an abundance of tiny clay particles roughly 2 micrometers across (about one-third the width of a red blood cell), which can reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What triggers mass extinctions? Study shows how invasive species stop new life

ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2010) -- An influx of invasive species can stop the dominant natural process of new species formation and trigger mass extinction events, according to research results published December 29 in the journal PLoS ONE. The study of the collapse of Earth's marine life 378 to 375 million years ago suggests that the planet's current ecosystems, which are struggling with biodiversity loss, could meet a similar fate.

Although Earth has experienced five major mass extinction events, the environmental crash during the Late Devonian was unlike any other in the planet's history. The actual number of extinctions wasn't higher than the natural rate of species loss, but very few new species arose.

"We refer to the Late Devonian as a mass extinction, but it was actually a biodiversity crisis," said Alycia Stigall, a scientist at Ohio University and author of the PLoS ONE paper.

"This research significantly contributes to our understanding of species invasions from a deep-time perspective," said Lisa Boush, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:56:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IPhone alarm fails on New Year's morning - MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Thousands of iPhone users got a rude awakening for the New Year, a late one, thanks to failed alarms on their phones.

The glitch prevented the alarm from going off on many people's iPhone 4, or those who have updated software on prior models.

Apple Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 322.56, -1.10, -0.34%)  said the glitch, which had to do with the phone's clocks, will be resolved soon, according to The Telegraph.

All alarms should be working properly by Jan. 3, an Apple spokeswoman told UPI. Calls to Apple for further comment were not answered.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:57:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Abandoned Uranium Mines: An 'Overwhelming Problem' in the Navajo Nation: Scientific American

There's an old uranium mine on rancher Larry Gordy's grazing land near Cameron, Ariz. Like hundreds of other abandoned mines in the Navajo Nation, the United States' largest Indian reservation, it looks as if it might still be in use--tailings, or waste products of uranium processing, are still piled everywhere, and the land isn't fenced off. "It looks like Mars," said Marsha Monestersky, program director of Forgotten People, an advocacy organization for the western region of the vast Navajo Nation, which covers 27,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently embroiled in a massive effort to assess 520 open abandoned uranium mines all over the vast reservation. (Forgotten People says there are even more mines on Navajo land: about 1,300.) Earlier this month, the cleanup got a boost from a bankruptcy settlement with Oklahoma City-based chemical company Tronox Inc., which will give federal and Navajo Nation officials $14.5 million to address the reservation's uranium contamination.

During the Cold War, private companies such as Tronox's former parent company, Kerr-McGee Corp., operated uranium mines under U.S. government contracts, removing four million tons of ore that went into making nuclear weapons and fuel. When demand dried up with the end of the era, companies simply abandoned their mines as they were.

Remediation work started 10 years ago, when the EPA mapped the mines by investigating company records and surveying the land with helicopters equipped with radiation detectors. The agency is now halfway through visiting mines to determine their radiation levels. "It's an overwhelming problem," said Clancy Tenley, EPA assistant director for the region.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My father used to say of Senator Robert S. Kerr: "Right name, wrong spelling." He was, literally, the senator from Kerr-McGee. It would have been astounding had Kerr-McGee been forced to pay any clean up fees, given the legacy of political connections.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 10:09:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Behavior Frontiers: Can Social Science Combat Climate Change?: Scientific American

Roughly 44 percent of Californians smoked tobacco in 1965. By 2010, 9.3 percent did--a shift that might have seemed impossible before it happened. Understanding exactly how such a social transformation occurred in the past may prove key to understanding how individuals might alter their behavior to help combat climate change in the future.

By studying past instances of social transformation, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) hope to predict future change in response to global warming as part of California's Carbon Challenge--a study commissioned by the California Energy Commission to help the state cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels. LBNL energy technology scientist Jeffery Greenblatt and his colleagues are analyzing  technology options as well as data records from 10 historical behavior changes--smoking cessation, seat belt use, vegetarianism, drunk driving, recycling and yoga, among others.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blackbirds dead, not singing, in the night | Arkansas Blog
Last night, ringing in the New Year took on a whole different meaning for the citizens of Beebe. Beginning at around 11:30 p.m., enforcement officers with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began getting reports of dead black birds falling from the sky in the city limits of Beebe.

Officers estimated that over 1,000 birds had fallen out of the sky over the city before midnight. Most of the birds were dead, but some were still alive when officers arrived. The blackbirds fell over a one-mile area in the city. AGFC wildlife officer Robby King responded to the reports and found hundreds of birds. "Shortly after I arrived there were still birds falling from the sky," King said. King collected about 65 dead birds that will be sent to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis.



"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet
by Melanchthon on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 05:34:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LITTLE ROCK -- When Beebe Police Department Capt. Eddie Cullum went to work Saturday morning, he was expecting to oversee the fallout of arrests that typically occur on New Year's Eve. Instead, he got birds. Lots of them.

....

During the final hour of 2010, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officers estimate that thousands of dead and dying birds, mostly blackbirds, fell from the sky and blanketed a mile-long stretch of the city between U.S. 367 and the Arkansas State University campus.

"It was really eerie," Cullum said. "You just drive down the roadway, and it's littered with birds. You get off into the residential area, there's dead birds everywhere, on top of houses, in yards. ... It's just unbelievable."

....

A news release Saturday from the Game and Fish Commission quoted commission ornithologist Karen Rowe as saying that strange events similar to this have occurred a number of times around the world. "Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and ... could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail," Rowe said....Rowe said it didn't appear that the birds died of poisoning. "Since it only involved a flock of blackbirds and only involved them falling out of the sky, it is unlikely they were poisoned," she said.

Cullum said he didn't expect poisoning to be the cause either. He and (Mayor) Robertson are leaning toward a weather-related cause. "We're hearing all kinds of things. Some are saying fireworks, some are saying it was lightning ... UFOs, that was thrown out there, too," Cullum said. "At this point, we just don't know."


Were I writing headlines for The National Enquirer or The World I could write:

Arkansas Sheriff suggests UFOs responsible for thousands of birds falling from sky    :-)

But knowing Arkansan small town officials, I strongly suspect that "UFOs, that was thrown out there, too" was accompanied by a dismissive chuckle and shrug.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 10:28:39 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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:20:55 PM EST
Switzerland's Ammann wins wind-shortened Four Hills event | Sports | Deutsche Welle | 02.01.2011
Strong winds reduced the second leg of the Four Hills ski jump tournament at Garmisch-Partenkirchen to just a single jump, but Switzerland's Simon Ammann made the most of his one shot. 

At the second of four events in the Four Hills ski jump tournament, Switzerland's Simon Ammann moved into second place in the overall standings by winning the wind-shortened competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on New Year's Day.

 

High winds reduced the event to a single jump rather than the normal two, and Ammann's jump of 131 meters (430 feet) earned him 142.1 points. Many jumpers were frustrated by the variable wind conditions, but the challenge appeared to suit Ammann.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:27:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neandertals' extinction not caused by deficient diets, tooth analysis shows

ScienceDaily (Jan. 1, 2011) -- Researchers from George Washington University and the Smithsonian Institution have discovered evidence to debunk the theory that Neandertals' disappearance was caused in part by a deficient diet -- one that lacked variety and was overly reliant on meat. After discovering starch granules from plant food trapped in the dental calculus on 40-thousand-year-old Neandertal teeth, the scientists believe that Neandertals ate a wide variety of plants and included cooked grains as part of a more sophisticated, diverse diet similar to early modern humans.

"Neandertals are often portrayed as very backwards or primitive," said Amanda Henry, lead researcher and a post-doctoral researcher at GW. "Now we are beginning to understand that they had some quite advanced technologies and behaviors."



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:57:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reliance on Indirect Evidence Fuels Dark Matter Doubts: Scientific American
Most of the matter in the universe remains missing in action--at least, that's long been the standard cosmological paradigm.

Now, however, a small but vocal group of cosmologists is challenging the dark matter tenets of the widely accepted cosmological model, which holds that the universe is composed of roughly 70 percent dark energy, 25 percent dark matter, and only 5 percent normal (or baryonic) matter. Dark matter, whatever it is, exerts a gravitational pull but only interacts with ordinary matter very weakly, if at all, beyond that. Light seems to have no effect on dark matter--hence its name.

[...]

"The mass of visible matter falls very short of what is needed to account for the gravity shown by these systems," Milgrom says. "The mainstream assumes it is due to the presence of dark matter, while others, like me, think that the theory of gravity has to be modified."

Milgrom's doubts about dark matter have long kept him on the fringe of professional astronomical circles. But as Rutgers University astronomer Jerry Sellwood notes, "people are beginning to think that we should have found some independent evidence for dark matter, and that hasn't happened."



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:03:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Body Under General Anesthesia Tracks Closer to Coma than Sleep: Scientific American
Patients undergoing significant operations, such as major cardiac or transplant surgery, typically require general anesthesia. But putting patients to "sleep" might not be the best way to describe the process, argued the authors of a new review paper, published in the December 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

What anesthesiologists are really doing is closer to putting patients--close to 60,000 each day in the U.S.--into a drug-induced coma. "It's a reversible coma, but it's nevertheless a coma," says Emery Brown, a professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School and coauthor of the paper.

General anesthesia before major surgery dips brain activity (as measured by electroencephalogram, or EEG) down to levels akin to brain-stem death. For the most part, Brown has found that anesthesiologists talk about the process in colloquial terms, telling patients they will be "asleep," rather than "unconscious"--likely in an effort to not make a medical ordeal any scarier than it already needs to be.


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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:06:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:21:21 PM EST


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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Benedict Announces Meeting of Faiths - NYTimes.com

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday announced that he would hold an interfaith meeting in Assisi, Italy, this October to mark the 25th anniversary of a watershed meeting held there by his predecessor, John Paul II.

In the ever-shifting legacy of a complex papacy, the announcement seemed intended to show Benedict's good will toward other faiths after years in which he was criticized by Muslims, Jews and other Christian denominations, especially Anglicans. But it was also significant because as the longtime head of the Vatican's powerful doctrinal office when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was widely seen as having had serious reservations about the 1986 meeting, where leaders of all faiths met and prayed.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 12:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France24 - Champagne loses title as world's favourite fizzy

As the clock strikes twelve this New Year's Eve, it will be Italian and English wine-makers cheering the loudest, as they pour Prosecco, Spumante and Sussex's finest sparkling into their champagne flutes.

The Italian winemakers' association Assoenologi has estimated that by the end of 2010, "bollicine", or Italian bubbly, will have sold some 380 million bottles worldwide - around ten million more than sparkling wine from France's Champagne region.

Meanwhile in the UK, winemakers in the south of England are exporting their bubbly as far afield as Japan after winning an array of awards just 15 years into production.

Has the bubble burst for Champagne?

All is not sparkling for Champagne. The famed region was forced to cut production by 30% last year due to a bad harvest and sale volumes still remain lower than in 2008, though a recovery does now appear to be on the horizon.



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 Jan 2nd, 2011 at 01:09:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We had very little champers this holiday, and not a drop of French as I recall - sorry chaps. In fact, looking at the bottle bin, we've had a relatively (and they helped with consumption) modest intake.

On NYE the contrabassist and I did manage to deal with 50 cl of Noble Wine (Jallu One Star) - but even that took nearly 9 hours.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:55:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 2nd, 2011 at 05:26:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Simple rubber device mimics complex bird-song

"We were just playing around and I probed the device in a certain way and it started playing a bird song - that was very exciting."

"Just put your lips together and blow"

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 06:48:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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