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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 19 December

by dvx Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 03:56:55 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1848 - death of Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights (b. 1818)

More here and here.

Portrait of Emily Brontë by her brother Branwell Brontë, 1833. The Granger Collection, New York.

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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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:49:04 AM EST
Russian opposition leader detained after fresh protests | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 18.12.2011

About 1,500 protesters took to the streets in Moscow and other Russian cities on Saturday to demonstrate against the disputed December 4 parliamentary election.

The turnout of the protests was far below that of the rallies one week ago, when more than 50,000 demonstrated in Moscow, St. Petersburg and elsewhere.

Saturday's protests in Moscow had been organized by the center-left Yabloko party, which failed to win any seats in the upcoming parliament, receiving only 3.3 percent in the vote.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party won an absolute majority in the Duma but lost the two-thirds majority it held in the previous term.

Critics say the party actually did far worse and only maintained the slimmest of majorities through ballot stuffing.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't believe that Putin is so stupid to detain opposition leader of one minor party after protests are going down in numbers...So bloody stupid.
Milosevic did same at the beginning (with a leader of one of biggest opposition party) until he learned that it is much better to have same leader in his government, ha-ha.


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 07:58:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I gather that autocrats don't really feel fulfilled unless they get to rub their opposition's face in the dirt. I guess it's just part of the syndrome.
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 02:12:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German president faces fierce criticism over private loan scandal | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 18.12.2011

President Christian Wulff faced increasingly ferocious criticism on Sunday after he admitted to having failed to disclose a private home loan he received while serving as the state premier of the northern German state of Lower Saxony.

Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary head of the opposition center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper that in order to "restore his credibility" Wulff must fully explain the 2008 loan he received from the wife of wealthy German businessman Egon Geerkens.

SPD Secretary General Andrea Nahles went so far as to indirectly call for the president to step down. In an interview with German public television she said Wulff must offer a quick and clear explanation. "If he can't do that, he must reconsider whether he can continue to set and example for Germany," she said.

The Free Democratic Party MP Erwin Lotter was more explicit in his demands. "The immediate resignation is a requirement of integrity and responsibility," he told German news agency dpa.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:57:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nick Clegg mocks Conservatives over '1950s view' of British family | Politics | The Observer

Nick Clegg will open a new front in his criticism of David Cameron on Monday by mocking his "1950s view" of the traditional British family, in which the "suit-wearing dad" is the breadwinner and the "aproned" mother the homemaker. The deputy prime minister, in a speech to the Demos thinktank, will also take issue with Cameron's defining idea of a "big society" based upon the institutions of marriage, the family, the church and voluntary organisations.

After a week dominated by his rift with Cameron over Europe, Clegg's latest attempt to assert his political philosophy and set out his differences with the prime minister will infuriate Tory MPs - many of whom privately doubt whether the Tory-Lib Dem coalition can last a full five-year term.

The intervention comes after Cameron, in a speech on Saturday, stressed the importance of religious faith as a force for good in society, saying it provided people with "a moral code" upon which to run their lives.

Stressing the Lib Dems' "progressive" credentials, Clegg will make clear that his party would never support Tory plans for tax breaks for married couples - an idea he said was the product of a party that failed to notice social changes until well after they had happened. "The institutions of our society are constantly evolving," Clegg will say. "Just look at the way the roles of men and women, and attitudes to marriage and divorce, have changed over the last century. We should not take a particular version of the family institution, such as the 1950s model of the suit-wearing, bread-winning dad and aproned, homemaking mother, and try to preserve it in aspic."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:57:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi. I'm Nick Clegg. I'll screw you over and say whatever I need to in order to stay in power and promote myself. I'm a politician and you're stupid.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 06:40:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Cameron obviously slept over last 40 years...His vision of the family is not going to happen (again). Church is totally hopeless in spreading the message, so do not count on it.
Trouble is that somehow people need to learn (again) how to take responsibilities of having a family (this has been lost lately). That's why we have 32% of single parents in conservative Switzerland, and who knows what percentage in those "progressive" countries. I do not mind people doing whatever they want with their lives if it's not about children.
So in a way I am all for less tax for married people (and even less for those with children). Because people only "understand" two things: 1. incentives 2. Force.
Sorry but I am a little conservative when it comes to children because I see what is happening around and I don't like it a bit.
All tho Cameron will need to make those less taxes dependant of the time those marriages will last. Otherwise people will get married just to avoid tax, ha-ha.
Seriously, I am afraid it's not going to work anyhow. Level of selfishness in our societies reached epic proportions...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 10:21:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
vbo:
Trouble is that somehow people need to learn (again) how to take responsibilities of having a family (this has been lost lately).

citation_needed

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 Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like Clegg just realized that he is in a coalition with the Conservatives.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He sounds like someone who just woke up in a strange bed with someone of indeterminate gender - and not even remotely attractive whichever way one may be inclined to swing.
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 02:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That pretty much means he's been dead drunk for the last few years.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 10:38:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What it is not is an intellectual vision of the future. Having marched out of europe, he's both changing the subject while he's still ahead and also rallying the troops.

And he's chosen to do it by invoking the British English equivalent of Mom and Apple pie. They are the sort of soft-focus "nice" things that appeal to the atavistic heart of Daily Mail readers, right next to that bit that warms to the idea of shooting strikers in front of their families.

As for Clegg; who cares ? He can bitch about this and that if he wants, but there's no policy here, so there's nothing to vote against. His problem is that when there is a vote that goes against his professed conscience or crosses a LibDem line in the sand, he loyally votes with the tories. Every time. He is merely another unprincipled enabler of Conservative policy.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:23:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Riots break out in Kazakhstan amid reports of more dead | World | Deutsche Welle | 18.12.2011

Protests in Kazakhstan's Mangistau province spread to the region's capital of Aktau on Sunday morning, with about 500 angry protesters gathering near the main square to face a large force of riot police. The fresh demonstrations come a day after rioters blocked a passenger train and vandalized a village before police reportedly opened fire, killing one person.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  UzenMunaiGas' headquarters was one of several buildings set alight

 

The violence began in the western city of Zhanaozen on Friday when sacked oil workers and sympathetic citizens stormed a stage set up in the town's main square to mark the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence. They later set fire to the city hall and the headquarters of the local oil company. Workers in Zhanaozen and other cities in Mangistau had been striking for months for higher wages.

 

A 20-day state of emergency was declared on Saturday and the town has been virtually cut off from communication, with phones disconnected, radio equipment prohibited and access to and from the city restricted.

 

"We want them to take away the troops," one of Sunday's protesters told news agency Reuters. The welder had been fired from the oil company Karazhanbasmunai (KBM) after working there for 20 years. "They killed local people."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian oil rig capsizes with 67 onboard | World | Deutsche Welle | 18.12.2011

At least four people were dead and dozens were missing after an oil drilling rig capsized and sank in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia's east coast on Sunday. A regional ministry spokesman said at least four people were confirmed killed while 14 had been rescued.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM) said in a statement that the rig had turned over as it was being towed by a tugboat and ice breaker from the Kamchatka peninsula towards Sakhalin Island amid high winds and temperatures of minus 17 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

"[The] main suspected reason for the accident was a violation of safety regulations by transporting the platform with no account for weather conditions, as there was a strong storm in the area," a Russian investigative committee said in a statement.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:57:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But wind turbines kill birds!

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 04:36:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but the talking heads are all relics of the Cold War era.  "Birds > Russians."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 08:52:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, did you mean Russians > birds?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:43:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he meant birds are more important than russians.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:24:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:15:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I took the relationship to be one of concern for damage potential.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 08:39:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU-Ukraine talks overshadowed by Tymoshenko trial | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 18.12.2011

Monday's EU-Ukraine summit looks set to be derailed by the EU's dismay at the treatment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The former prime minister was convicted of abuse of power in a trial that was condemned internationally as politically motivated.

The trial removed President Viktor Yanukovych's main rival off the political stage.

Monday's summit marks the culmination of four years of negotiations and Yanukovych insists he expects the talks to be a success.

"We are geared up for the signing of the agreement for an association with the European Union that recognizes Ukraine's right to become a full-fledged member of the European community," he said on Friday.

Yet it would be something close to a miracle if the summit did indeed make any significant progress towards an association agreement, intended as a broad framework encompassing a free trade deal with the EU.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:03:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK strikes back at French criticism - FT.com

Britain has described as "simply unacceptable" attacks on the UK economy by French ministers and central bankers, as tensions over the eurozone crisis brought relations between the two countries to a new low.

Amid fears in Paris that France could lose its triple A sovereign debt rating, François Baroin, French finance minister, on Friday said: "The economic situation in Britain today is very worrying, and you'd rather be French than British in economic terms."

His comments follow remarks by Christian Noyer, head of the Bank of France, who said credit rating agencies should be more worried about Britain, which had "bigger deficits, more debt, higher inflation and less growth than us and where credit is shrinking".

Initially the attacks were shrugged off by Downing Street. British officials saw the comments as an attempt to deflect attention from the possible downgrade and from new figures showing France had slipped into recession during the fourth quarter.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:03:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Fitch has given up on the eurozone
Rating agency puts six countries, including Italy and Spain, on a negative watch; also warned about a French downgrade in two years;concludes that a comprehensive solution to the eurozone debt crisis is politically and technically beyond reach; Jean Quatremer says the downgrade threat for Belgium is unfair
Because Belgium isn't France isn't Italy isn't Spain isn't Portugal isn't Ireland isn't Greece, as is evident to anyone who lives in Brussels.
Vittorio Grilli says the EU has to do more to solve the crisis - prioritising to reverse the liquidity crunch, and strengthen the EFSF/ESM; Mario Draghi warns about the costs of a eurozone breakup; the troika is about to tell the Greek government to make further savings of €2bn; the Portuguese opposition rejects a constitutional change, but is willing to support a "golden rule" in secondary legislation; Germany's president Christian Wulff is engulfed in a property loan scandal that might cost him his job; Jens Weidmann says ECB would not increase bond purchases even if the crisis got worse; he also said eurosystem would not refinance EFSF/ESM even if they did have a banking licence
I'd like to know the legal grounds for that
Jürgen Stark says ECB bond purchases were an important reason for his decision to resign; Wolfgang Münchau says France really is in a worse shape than the UK; Ronald McKinnon, meanwhile, writes that the eurozone needs a James Hamilton.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 04:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jürgen Stark hints at real reasons for his resignation

So far Jürgen Stark always said that his resignation from the ECB board by the end of this year was due to ,,personcal reasons". In an interview with Wirtschaftswoche Stark added: ,,There is a big topic that is the reason for it (the resignation): I am dissatisfied how the currency union has evolved." Just as Weidmann he insisted that ECB's bond purchasing program was limited and that it was impossible to extend the central bank's balance sheet indefinitely. Stark also accused Greece - even under the leadership of his former ECB colleague Lucas Papademos - not to do what is necessary to get the country out of the mess. ,,Greece has currently chosen an option that is too easy by saying the country suffers under a systemic crisis in Europe. It is not acceptable to hand over the responsibility to other people if one has not done one's homework."



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:07:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The interview is here: Jürgen Stark: ,,Das kann nicht Aufgabe einer Zentralbank sein"
Typisch für diese Krise ist, dass immer wieder neue Nachrichten die Märkte aufschrecken. Mal sind es die Ratingagenturen, mal streiten sich die Regierungen untereinander oder mit der EU, dann schlagen der IWF oder die EZB Alarm. Ist dieses Informationschaos hilfreich?

Das, was Sie Informationschaos nennen, ist die Folge von politischen Entscheidungen, die nicht an dem Gesamtproblem ausgerichtet sind, sondern immer nur Teilprobleme in den Blick nehmen. Daraus würde ich aber der Politik keinen Vorwurf machen. Die Lösung dieser Krise lässt sich in keinem Lehrbuch nachschlagen, und all die klugen Äußerungen aus dem akademischen Bereich widersprechen sich sowohl in der Analyse als auch in den Rezepten. Das bringt die Regierungen immer wieder in fast ausweglose Situationen - dennoch müssen sie Entscheidungen treffen.

Fallen die Entscheidungen unter dem Druck der Märkte zu vorschnell?

Die Politik hat es nicht leicht. Es gibt kontroverse Lösungsansätze aufgrund unterschiedlicher Beratungslage. Daraus resultieren dann auch Konflikte innerhalb der Europäischen Union. Und es kommt hinzu: Die Entscheidungen der Regierungen bedürfen der demokratischen Legitimation. Die Regierungen müssen sich gegenüber ihren Parlamenten rechtfertigen, und die Parlamente müssen dies den Wählern gegenüber tun.

...

Hätte die EZB nicht früher korrigierend eingreifen müssen, um die Schieflage innerhalb der Euro-Zone zu verhindern?

Die EZB hat ihren Auftrag, die Preisstabilität zu gewährleisten, voll erfüllt. Auf die unterschiedliche Entwicklung der Lohnstückkosten in der Euro-Zone haben wir schon 2005 sehr deutlich hingewiesen. Die Politik hat das damals nicht als akutes Problem angesehen.

Witschaftswoche: Stark: "This can not be the task of a central bank"
It is typical of this crisis that the markets are always scared of breaking news, one time it's the rating agencies, another the governments argue among themselves or with the EU, yet another the IMF or the ECB sound the alarm alarm. Is this information chaos helpful?

What you call information chaos is the consequence of political decisions that are not aimed at the overall problem, but only take a piecemeal view of it. From this I would, however, not blame the politicians. The solution to this crisis is not to be found in any textbook, and all the wise comments from the academic sector are contradictory, both in the analysis as well as in the recipes. This keeps putting the governments in almost hopeless situations - but they have to make decisions.

Decisions are made under pressure from the markets prematurely?

It is not easy in politics. There are controversial proposals for solutions because of the diverse advice. This will also result in conflicts within the European Union. And on top of that, the decisions of governments require democratic legitimacy. The governments have to justify them to their parliaments, and parliaments must do this to the electorate.

...

Shouldn't the ECB have taken earlier corrective action to prevent imbalances in the euro zone?

The ECB has fully met its mandate to maintain price stability. On the divergent evolution of unit labor costs in the euro zone, we pointed it out very clearly in 2005. Politicians have not regarded them as as an acute problem then.

So, the only imbalance worth mentioning in the Eurozone was "unit labour costs" (i.e., "competitiveness) not the structural trade imbalances (which are not exactly solved by slashing wages).

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:25:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Daniel Gros: Can Italy survive the financial storm? (VoxEU)
In an ideal world it is clearly not the task of a central bank to finance regional current-account imbalances.  But it would still be preferable for the ECB to provide the Italian banking system with continuing access to its normal monetary policy operations to the tune of €50 billion annually, rather than buying hundreds of billions worth of government debt.  (See my CEPS commentary on why the ECB has no choice but to effectively become the `central counterparty' given that the Eurozone is not a fiscal union.)
Get that, Herr Stark? We don't live in an ideal world.

Anyway, Gros' solution is this:

The distribution of tasks should be simple:
  • Italian households should finance their own government by buying its debt, and
  • The ECB should prevent a collapse of the Italian banking system.
A first, key element of survival is thus that the new high-cost debt should be sold mostly to Italians.  In this way the higher cost of debt service will not be a burden on the country, but just a redistribution of income between savers and taxpayers.
If you can't tax savings through inflation, try to lure them into buying your debt.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just a redistribution of income between savers and taxpayers.

And that cannot possibly lead to a collapse in aggregate demand, now can it? Because that would mean people saving without specific plans to spend later. And that is basically like saying that people can't predict the future.
Must be a miserable world where you don't even know next weeks weather. Probably round too.

by generic on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not exactly. What Daniel Gros is suggesting is that the existin Italian savings should be channelled through Italian sovereign debt.

No word of the fact that Germany has an excess of savings over investment, and a government which intends to reduce the amount of debt it issues, so that German savings must be recycled into foreign assets. Gros is suggesting Italian debt should be held by domestic investors in a proportion of about 3/4, rather than the current 1/2. But then you'd have to prevent German and Italian savers from investing freely in each other's debt markets (Italians cannot buy "safe" German bonds, Germans cannot buy "high-yield" Italian bonds). That is, curtail the free movement of capital in the single currency area.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:47:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish Examiner: Minister: No EU `yes' vote without debt deal
Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes insisted the country would need a "significant reduction" in its debt burden before voters would endorse the new EU fiscal union in any poll.

"The idea that we could have a referendum without that agreement, on a substantial rearranging of our debt, wouldn't fly," he said.

"We would have to have that in place before we put the question, and that's beginning to be understood at an EU level, which puts us in a stronger position.

Talking up one's position like that might not be wise so early in the game. And back in 2008 when Ireland issued their blanket guarantee the first thing they did was go on British radio to advertise that their banks were safer for depositors. Also not a wise move.

Meantime: @economistmeg

MT @djfxtrader: Pact Will Enter Into Force When 9 Of 17 Euro Zone Countries OK It - EU Officials Tell DJ-WSJ >> Who agreed to this??



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More wheels coming off the European Central Cart: The ECB's Risky Business by Daniel Gros
Now that the "southern" eurozone governments' solvency no longer seems assured, distrust has grown along national lines. German banks continue to lend to each other (and to other banks in northern Europe), but they are no longer willing to lend to Italian, Spanish, or other banks in southern Europe.

A sudden withdrawal of interbank funding has the same consequences as a bank run. A bank that suddenly has to repay its interbank debt must cut credit to its own customers or sell off other assets, leading to large losses. This is precisely what happened when the interbank market froze after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

When the cross-border interbank market stopped working this summer, a similar economic collapse was avoided only because the ECB, without much fanfare, became the eurozone's central clearing house. German and other northern European banks that no longer trust their southern counterparts parked their funds at the ECB's deposit facility, whereas southern European banks used the ECB's lending facilities to make up for the loss of private interbank funding.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:01:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Bank Recapitalization


The €115 billion would not be so bad were not the expectations that the banks should either recapitalize themselves or that insolvent sovereigns should recapitalize their own banks. But that is the expectation, so I guess we will just see the EZ crash and burn? Were these banks recapitalized how long would it be before they were right back where they are now?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 08:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you can believe this, the incoming Spanish government is considering a Bad Bank solution not unlike NAMA whereby the Spanish state would buy over 20 billion in bad assets (chiefly, undeveloped land) while at the same time vowing to reduce deficits and debt to keep Merkel happy.

It appears that the experience of NAMA is one of the main reasons why the Bank of Spain opposes the measure, and even private banks don't like the idea.

On the other hand, a number of entities which have been rescued, merged, restructured... in the past 3 years keep coming up with bigger and bigger accounting holes. The latest one was up to 17 billion in losses at Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, where the initial estimate was 5 billion...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't remember if NAMA ended up on the official deficit or not? If they construct the SPV properly and browbeat the statistical agencies properly then they can take on all that debt without it being part of the deficit. Cunning, eh?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is 2011, not 2008. After the EFSF it's become clear nobody in their rightmind is going to touch an off-balance-sheet government "vehicle" with a 10-foot pole.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:33:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are people involved who are in their right mind? Can we put them in charge?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. No.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:55:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a bad comment from Sky News: Super Mario Can't Save The Euro On His Own
If it were to copy the Bank of England, it would be duty-bound to buy up government debt from all the euro states in proportional quantities. As the think tank Open Europe has argued today, this would mean that "even a €500bn bout of QE - as some have called for - would see only €90bn flow towards Italy, due to the need to spread QE evenly across the eurozone. This would not make a significant dent in Italy's €1.9 trillion of sovereign debt."

This, in essence, is why it all comes back to politics in the end. What is needed to save the euro is a transfer of wealth from the north to the south. This can be done fiscally - in other words through a bail-out fund into which Germany et al put comparatively more cash. It can be done monetarily - by the European Central Bank specifically buying the debt of the most troubled euro members and/or provoking enough inflation to erode German living standards and counteract Greek deflation. But either of these methods is a transfer of living standards all the same, and so ought to be decided by (preferably elected) politicians rather than central bankers.

It is hard to see why the market would be convinced by any solution which didn't have this kind of certainty. And as Mario Draghi's comments today underline, so far what we have is a kind of hodge-podge of half-measures which look a little like quantitative easing but without any of the necessary firepower to take on such a seminal crisis.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 11:01:30 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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:53:54 AM EST
Spain Unpaid Bills May Haunt Rajoy as States Crave Liquidity - Bloomberg

Spanish Prime Minister-electMariano Rajoy is set to inherit billions of euros of unpaid bills along with the euro region's third-largest budget deficit.

Spain's 8,000 municipalities and 17 semi-autonomous regions are suffering from a cash squeeze as many are shut out of markets, prompting them to delay paying suppliers. Regions' debt rose 1.5 percent to 135 billion euros ($176 billion) in the third quarter the Bank of Spain said today. Catalonia had the highest debt, at 39.3 billion euros.

Companies are being paid 157 days late on average, about three times the legal payment delay, according to the Platform Against Late Payment, a federation of employer groups, and pharmaceutical companies say they are owed 5.83 billion euros by public hospitals. While Rajoy has pledged to help local administrations pay suppliers, that may add to the state's debt burden and undermine efforts to lower sovereign borrowing costs.

"Rising commercial debt means there is more deficit and that the risk of missing deficit targets increases," said Marisol Blazquez, an analyst at the ratings company Moody's Investors Service in Madrid. "Apart from the Basque country, the Madrid region and Galicia, all the regions we rate are having liquidity issues."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Selective sovereign default, 4 months ago.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 04:17:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain's 8,000 municipalities and 17 semi-autonomous regions

I wonder where they got the "semi-autonomous regions" given that the Spanish name for these entities is Comunidades Autónomas.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 04:23:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Autonomous regions can be many things.

Autonomous area - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An autonomous area or autonomous entity is an area of a country that has a degree of autonomy, or freedom from an external authority. Typically it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the country or populated by a national minority. Countries that include autonomous areas are often federacies. Autonomous areas can be divided into territorial autonomies, subregional territorial autonomies and local autonomies.

Of course, nothing is solved by using semi-autonomous.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:24:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran, Russia's Tatneft Sign $1 Billion Accord to Develop Zagheh Oil Field - Bloomberg

Russia's OAO Tatneft (TATN) signed an accord valued at $1 billion with Iran to develop the Zagheh oil field in the Persian Gulf nation, where many energy projects face delays due to intensified sanctions by Western countries.

A preliminary deal was signed in Tehran earlier today between Tatneft, which is based in Russia's Tatarstan region, and Iran's Petroleum and Engineering Development Co., the Iranian Oil Ministry said on its news website Shana today.

Russia, which has opposed the latest financial and energy sanctions on Iran, is helping restart the dormant Zagheh field and seeking more local ventures as western companies curb their investment in Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia. Western countries have been increasing pressure on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

"If Iran is keen, Tatarstan is ready to increase cooperation in the oil and gas sectors," Tatneft Chairman and Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov said in the Shana report. "The scope and diversity of Iran's gas and petrochemical projects is unbelievable."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Banks Wooing Wealthy Women CEOs Say This Time Is Different - Bloomberg

About 75 women executives streamed up the marble staircase of the Harold Pratt House on Park Avenue in New York last month to a ballroom with cathedral ceilings and antique chandeliers.

They were attending "Women Unscripted," the second in a series of events put on by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) aimed at attracting and retaining women executives as clients. Instead of focusing on financial planning or products for women, there was a presentation by Saj-nicole Joni, who advises chief executive officers as president of Cambridge International Group. After the discussion there was a chance to mingle at a wine tasting in the adjacent library.

While banks have courted women clients in the past, Wells Fargo, Citigroup Inc. (C), Barclays Plc (BARC) and others are increasingly focused on getting the assets of high-earning women executives, said Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president of the New York- based Center for Work-Life Policy.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and they can't promote from within because.....?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:26:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They're not in the business of generating new wealth. Their role is limited to exploiting wealth (and poverty).
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:53:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This slump won't end until 2031  Market Watch,  (H/T Illargi at TAE)

Commentary: Our predicament parallels Long Depression of 1870s

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- In retrospect, it wasn't hard to see that the markets were becoming dangerously unstable. Germany had just adopted a new monetary system, and Europe was being flooded with cheap German money. Greece had signed up to a monetary union with Italy and France but was struggling to hold it together.

Financial markets had been deregulated. New technologies were transforming production and communications, allowing money to move across borders at lightening speed. And a massive new industrial power was flooding the world with cheap manufactured goods, blowing apart old industries.

When it all fell apart in an almighty crash, it was only to be expected.

A prophesy for London, New York or Berlin in 2012? Not exactly. It is a description of Vienna in 1873. In that year, in one of the great crashes of all time, the Austrian markets triggered collapses across Europe, swiftly followed by an equally spectacular collapse in New York. It was the start of what economic historians call the Long Depression, a prolonged period of volatility, unemployment and slumps that lasted an epic 23 years, only coming to an end in 1896.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 12:12:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parallels and Peril  Market Watch

True, historical parallels are never precise. We won't replay the Long Depression of 1873 to 1896 exactly, nor will this slump necessarily last as long. It is, however, a far more instructive episode than the Great Depression of the 1930s. And there are five key lessons we should learn from it.

First, depressions can last a very long time, and when their origins are in a debt bubble they should be measured in decades not years. For a century or more, depressions have been relatively short, sharp episodes. They are like having a tooth pulled, rather than a chronic sickness -- painful, but over quite quickly. But it doesn't have to be that way. In the U.K., for example, this is already the longest recession since records began -- in the sense that output is still below its 2008 peak. It is more enduring than the depression of the 1930s. That is true of many other countries, as well. If, as seems likely, Europe, and perhaps the U.S., slips back into recession in 2012, it will be clear to everyone we are witnessing something far longer than the conventional economic textbooks allow for.

Second, this depression is structural. The Long Depression of the 19th century had its roots in financial speculation, technological change, and the arrival of a massive new player in the global economy. Our current depression likewise has its roots in three huge crises coming together at the same time. We have a debt bubble that had been building up over three decade and which burst spectacularly in 2008. The dollar is in long-term decline as a reserve currency, and as the anchor for the global monetary system, but there is still not much sign of what will replace it. And in the euro, the biggest single economic bloc has created the most dysfunctional monetary system in human history, threatening financial collapses on an unprecedented scale. Think of it as the world economy's suffering a heart attack, then a stroke, then getting picked up by an ambulance that crashes on the way to the hospital -- it is hardly surprising the patient isn't in good shape.

Three, it's uneven. The Long Depression of the 19th century was a sustained period of lower growth compared with what came before and what came afterward. Germany, for example, grew 4.3% annually between 1850 and 1873 and then at 4.1% between 1896 and 1913. But in the Long Depression years, it only managed a growth rate of just over 2% a year. It was similar in other countries. The markets remained volatile, with repeated booms and busts, regularly collapsing back into recession. They did grow occasionally, just as Japan has sometimes grown in what is now its second decade of slump. But the growth is never sustained.

....

Five, it won't be fixed easily. The parallel with the 1930s is dangerous, because it has convinced bankers and policy makers that if you can just pump up demand, everything will be OK. It won't.


For starters, just how long will it take before The Serious People accept that the business cycle is not going to save them this time?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 12:20:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your "starters" is precisely the point.
this won't be over until all three structural problems get fixed. Debt needs to be paid down to manageable levels, a new reserve currency needs to be created, and the euro needs to be put out of its misery. None of these are simple tasks, and none will be done quickly.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 04:16:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GRRRRRRRR

This makes me so angry.
More Austrian economics rubbish.

The parallel with the 1930s is dangerous, because it has convinced bankers and policy makers that if you can just pump up demand, everything will be OK. It won't.

More learned helplessness.

The first correct lesson is:

If you don't pump up demand, you will have a LONG depression.

The second lesson of the 30s is: if you work hard on the politics, you can reform the banking system and start to put things right. There is no inevitability.

Finally, the technological change parallel is once again being snuck in. But the destabilising factor this time is mostly the injection of new labour forces - and we likewise know how to address this. It's a long road to forcing politicians to taking labour issues seriously, but it's not some "natural force" that cannot be addressed.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Putting "2031" in the headline demonstrates stupid illiteracy. Why should the new depression last exactly the same number of years as the previous one?

  2. How about starting the clock in 1971 or 1974? From my perspective of watching the news, we've been in economic crisis all my life, except the odd boom years here and there, with mass unemployment most of that period in a lot of countries.

  3. oddly enough, it's when you're near the bottom that things feel gloomiest and that, in fact, you're closest to moving our of it. Here's to an optimistic take...


Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your think things are at their gloomiest now?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:40:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, a lot of people feel that there cannot be improvement, so that's one definition of gloomiest - lack of hope, rather than "worst"

Not saying it's right, but it's one way to see things.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Veblen, writing in 1904 and motivated by the Long Depression that had recently ended, did argue that "depression" is in fact a psychological phenomenon of the business class.

Lots of people (myself included) feel that they could be improvement if only the people in positions of influence decided to do the right thing. The hopelessness comes from the political nature of the problem - we need to put on hold "what needs to be done" and concentrate first on winning power for who knows what on the vague hope that they will do what needs to be done, 10 years too late.

Just look at the Jürgen Stark interview elsewhere on this thread.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:13:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
power for who knows whatwhom

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If one of the 'scare' youtube videos currently circulating on FB about the proposed legal powers of the proposed ESM has any basis in fact then 'for whom' would clearly be those in and benefiting from the financial sector, as proposals include allowing the ESM to sue governments that do not comply with requirements while making the same ESM immune to suits by governments.

Fortunately EU institutions are no less likely to do this than are US institutions likely to seek powers to arrest and hold citizens without warrant.  OH --- wait.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 04:48:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On 2, 2007/8 is a convenient starting point because of the banking panic. The 1970's crisis didn't have the characteristics of a panic.

On the other hand, David Graeber in Debt: the First 5000 years does set 1971 (Nixon abandons the gold standard) as the start of something new.

As for 3, there's this:

Four, good things are still happening. It isn't all doom and gloom. In the Long Depression, some countries were largely unscathed. New technologies and industries were being created. The telephone was invented, and the foundations of new industries based on the petrol engine and electricity were put into place. The people who got it right still made huge fortunes, and the workers in the right industries prospered. Overall, however, times were hard. And you had to position yourself carefully.
You have positioned yourself "correctly" in renewable energy finance, so...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I positioned myself correctly on the right side of the median - why can't everybody do the same?"

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:11:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, David Graeber in Debt: the First 5000 years does set 1971 (Nixon abandons the gold standard) as the start of something new.

The abandonment of the Bretton Woods system is a consequence as much as it is a cause of the changes: The combination of Lower 48 Peak Oil, the recovery of the German and Japanese industrial plants and unprofitable colonial engagements in Indochina conspired to turn the US from a structural CA surplus country into a structural CA deficit country. This in turn forced the US to abandon the Bretton Woods system, since the BW system requires the structural CA surplus country or countries to recycle their surpluses into capital investment in the deficit countries. And the new CA surplus countries lacked the institutional capabilities, geopolitical incentives and occasionally, as we have seen in the German case, sufficient grasp of the economics of international trade to take on that role.

The following forty years of European exchange rate policy can be seen without great loss of generality as an attempt to recreate the BW system without the realisation (let alone the political will) by the incumbent surplus countries to recycle their surpluses into productive investments.

That these attempts have collapsed three times in four decades should not, in retrospect, have been a major surprise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 10:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am optimistic that the problem CAN be fixed. I am pessimistic that it WILL be fixed any time soon. A fix depends on the time it takes to change the popular perception about how our societies can and should be run, and that seems to be moving in the wrong direction just now.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:52:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putting "2031" in the headline demonstrates stupid illiteracy. Why should the new depression last exactly the same number of years as the previous one?

The point is that the public is not aware that a depression could last 23 years, because they don't know their economic history. They also don't know that the Long Depression used to be called the Great Depression until the 1930's rolled along with a deeper (but shorter) crisis. Just like the Great War, also known as The War to End All Wars was followed by WWII.

One of the biggest problems we face is that political leadership is in the hands of a generation born around 1950. All they know about hardship is from what their parents told them about WWII or their grandparents about the Depression, and their formative years were in the 1960s. The post-WWII system was set up by people who had lived the Great Depression as (young) adults and they were determined not to let a repeat happen.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Revealed: how City fees are eating into our pensions | Business | The Observer

The presentation revealed how savings and pension pots were being chipped away as they were moved around by traders. A simple stocks and shares Isa can be top-sliced up to 16 times as it is traded around, it was claimed.

And while this practice and the costs were not noticeable when the market was on the up, the economic downturn was highlighting how much was being taken.

The average equity fund manager makes explicit that they are charging about 1.5% a year of the sum invested for their services, but additional hidden expenses average 0.3% a year and trading costs cut a further 1.4% off an investment. And the situation is getting worse, according to the analysis, which found that charges had increased by 9% in the last decade. The presentation added: "If the trend of diminishing returns and increasing costs continues we could soon expect negative returns on average."

During the presentation, which was later shared with the Department for Work and Pensions, the point was illustrated by the example of a saver who made £70,000 in contributions between 1994 and 2009, only to see the £46,000 in profit from the rise in the value of the FTSE 100 being consumed in its entirety by the financial services industry.

this is the 'cream of british industry', cameron's base. nicer bunch of guys you'll never meet...

'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 Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:01:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's ironic - proof that private pensions are in a bigger crisis than public ones...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:25:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sort of like the "Medicare crisis" here, which is systemic crisis in which Medicare comes out looking a hell of a lot better than the private sector.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 07:15:12 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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:54:12 AM EST
Gingrich rails at courts, suggests ignoring rulings | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- Picking up where he left off in last Thursday's Republican presidential debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Saturday continued to rail against the federal judicial system, accusing it of overstepping its constitutional role and arguing that the president and Congress can ignore court decisions.

In a conference call with reporters that sounded alternately like a campaign pitch and a law school lecture, Gingrich said, "The courts are too aggressive, and the courts have been trying to impose an elitist value system on a country that's inherently not elitist."

"The founding fathers were very distrustful of judges," Gingrich went on. "Saw them as an elite instrument of government designed to oppress the people. And, as a result, (they) consciously made the judicial branch the third branch and the weakest branch."

In order to restore balance between Congress, the White House, and the courts, Gingrich recommended ignoring rulings, impeaching judges, subpoenaing justices to have them explain their rulings and, as a last resort, abolishing the courts altogether.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:13:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So we can ignore Citizens' United?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 06:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And we thought Cheney's notion that the VP was in whatever branch of government might be convenient to avoid accountability was nuts...  I must have skipped school the day they covered the judiciary being the weakest branch of government.
Speaking of Cheney, Gingrich does have a bit of the same odor about him, but without the warm fuzzy appeal.
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 02:49:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but republicans are at least consistent. They hate government and want to destroy it, unless they're in charge at which point they want omnipotence.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:31:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Violence continues on Cairo streets - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Egyptian soldiers have clashed with hundreds of protesters for a third straight day, pelting each other with stones in the heart of the capital, Cairo.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo on Sunday, described the scene at Tahrir Square, where fighting raged the day before, as "pretty calm", but said clashes continued to erupt near the parliament building.

"What the military have essentially done is created a concrete barrier to block the enterance into that street to stop the protesters coming from Tahrir Square and continuing with their sit in," she said. 

"The protesters, of course, not happy with the situation. They're telling us they have a right to peacefully demonstrate in front of a government building.

"The skirmishes are taking place...across that concrete wall between the military and the protesters."

The violence began on Friday when one



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:21:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Egyptian Soldiers Chase and Beat Unarmed Civilians in Cairo - NYTimes.com

CAIRO -- Egypt's military rulers escalated a bloody crackdown on street protesters on Saturday, chasing down and beating unarmed civilians, even while the prime minister was denying in a televised news conference that security forces were using any force.

In one of the most incendiary developments, video cameras captured soldiers stripping the clothes off women they were beating on the pavement of Tahrir Square.

The contradiction in the military-led government's statements and actions appeared to represent a shift in strategy by the military council. After trying for months to preserve some credibility and collaboration with the Egyptian political elite, the ruling generals on Saturday scarcely acknowledged the demands made by their newly appointed civilian advisory council the night before that the military cease its violence and apologize to demonstrators.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:22:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hillary...calling hillary! who's funding the mew military in egypt? gonna miss this bus too?

'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 Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 07:39:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As U.S. departs Iraq, it leaves behind allies who won't talk | McClatchy

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- More than five years have passed since Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah last received Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al Maliki. The Saudi monarch views Maliki as untrustworthy and, even worse, "an Iranian agent."

Saudi Arabia doesn't allow direct flights between its capital, Riyadh, and Baghdad, and it doesn't permit direct trade between the two countries. The kingdom is building a fence along the closed 500-mile border.

This, too, is a legacy of the U.S. invasion of Iraq as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal: a bitter enmity between two close U.S. allies, with an underlay of sectarian animosity, that the United States cannot seem to ameliorate.

It is an irony, because the U.S. first sent troops to the region in part to protect Saudi Arabia in the wake of Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Thirteen years later, however, when the U.S. invaded Iraq to topple Saddam, Saudi rulers were highly critical. And they have remained opposed to or offended by almost everything that has happened since.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:22:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Saudis have always hated Iran, even more than Israel.

They realised, far better than the US, that the result of toppling a minority Sunni govt in Iraq which was hostile to Iran would result in a Shi'ia govt sympathetic to Iran. To the Saudis, Saddam, constrained as he was, was they devil they knew and understood.

They don't like Shi'ia, whom they believe are apostate scum. Iraq is now closed to Saudi.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:37:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel to free 550 Palestinian prisoners - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Israel has prepared to release 550 Palestinian prisoners in the second and final phase of a swap with the Hamas organization that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years in captivity.

Sunday's release will complete an Egyptian-brokered deal to exchange a total of 1,027 prisoners for Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Gaza fighters in June 2006. Schalit returned home in October when Israel freed the first batch of 477 prisoners.

The October 18 return of Schalit, who appeared pale and thin but otherwise healthy, was the first public sighting of him since his capture, and the plight of the young man had captured Israel's attention for years.

The prisoners that Israel freed in the first round included dozens of militants serving life sentences for involvement in deadly attacks. Their releases set off ecstatic celebration in the Palestinian territories, particularly Hamas' Gaza stronghold.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:23:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan Islamists rally in support of army - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

ens of thousands of Pakistani Islamists have staged protests in which they expressed support for the military and condemned the United States following a cross-border NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

About 30,000 demonstrators in Sunday's protest in Lahore said they backed the military, which has reasserted itself after the November 26 attack and in the wake of a controversial memo that has weakened the civilian government, the Reuters news agency reported.

Similar protests took place in the western city of Peshawar, where leaders of the Jammat-e-Islami criticised the Pakistani government for its handling of the country's affairs and NATO interventions in Pakistan.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder in Peshawar quoted organisers of the rally as saying: "This wave of humanity should be able to convince the president [who is recovering in hospital in Dubai] that the people are unstoppable."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:23:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha !! The enemy of my enemy is my friend

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:38:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migrants feared drowned off Indonesia - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

A boat believed to be carrying more than 250 migrants, many of them from the Middle East, has sunk off Indonesia's main island of Java, rescuers say.

The vessel, which survivors said was headed for Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, went down in bad weather and heavy seas about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Java on Saturday.

Police blamed the accident on overloading, telling the country's official news agency Antara that the vessel appeared to have been carrying more than twice its capacity.

"The passengers were very tightly packed, and therefore had nowhere to go ... That made the boat even more unstable and eventually it sank"

- Esmat Adine, Afghan migrant

So far only 33 people have been rescued, Sahrul Arifin, the head of emergency and logistics at the East Java Disaster Mitigation Centre, said.

Bad weather and waves of up to five metres hampered rescue efforts on Sunday, with 300 rescuers including navy and police officers deployed to comb the sea for bodies.

The survivors are being kept at a community hall near Prigi beach, 640km southeast of Indonesia's capital Jakarta.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:24:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kim Jong-il, North Korean Leader, Dies  NYT

69-Year-Old Was Ill Since Reported Stroke in 2008

SEOUL, South Korea -- Kim Jong-il, the reclusive North Korean leader who has been battling ill health following a reported stroke in 2008, has died, the North's official news media reported on Monday.

....

Mr. Kim was 69 years old. Since he reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008, he has been grooming his third son, Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, to be his successor, as his country struggled to fight widespread food shortages and international sanctions imposed for its nuclear weapons development.

Called the "Dear Leader" by his people, Mr. Kim, the son of North Korea's founder, remained an unknowable figure. Yet he fostered perhaps the last personality cult in the Communist world. He had been grooming his third son, Kim Jong-un, to be his successor.

....

Mr. Kim was a source of fascination inside the Central Intelligence Agency, which interviewed his mistresses, tried to track his whereabouts and psychoanalyzed his motives. And he was an object of parody in American culture.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:58:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This Youtube footage from the North Korean state media shows masses grieving dramatically.

What to say?

Onion.com is quick with the headline
Kim Jong-Un [the son] Privately Doubting He's Crazy Enough To Run North Korea

For a crazy incorrect association, I throw in this recent Onion headline:
Nation Would Rather Think About 9/11 Than Anything From Subsequent 10 Years
Well, if North Korea would come as the last country finally joining the [collapsing] free world soon, crying might be appropriate enough.

by das monde on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering Merkozy and the horrors of the Cleggeron - never mind China's Glorious Capitalism™ - N. Korea might be better off running away from the free world  for a bit longer.

At this rate NK will have the world's most robust economy a few years from now.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:18:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seen people saying that Havel, Hitchens and Kim arriving in a notional place will be interesting, but if these things happen in 3's does hitchens fit, or should we still be waiting for the Thatcher jackpot?

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 Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:35:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just pointing out that NK hardly has a monopoly on Teh Utter Crazee.

It's obvious to us that Kim Jong Thing was a loon, but perhaps not so obvious that Merkel, Bernanke, etc are hardly much saner.

Of course, they are infinitely more serious.

As for Thatcher - well, huh, dyathink?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:01:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NK hardly has a monopoly on Teh Utter Crazee.

It was my sense of just how profoundly this applies to the USA and Europe that prevented me from further commenting on North Korea.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 06:57:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They certainly know how to cure obesity.

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 Dec 19th, 2011 at 08:17:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. The ultimate goal of FOX ... the world after Rupert dies.

  2. People who know they're being watched and consider this a job interview.

  3. Guys trying to get laid, ladies checking out the guys ... same old shit.


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 08:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 11:54:39 AM EST
Manning being gay soldier is key to defense - USATODAY.com

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) - Lawyers for the Army private charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history say he was influenced by his struggles with being a gay soldier as protesters rallied this weekend in his support on both coasts.

The military hearing continued Sunday to determine whether Pfc. Bradley Manning will stand trial at a court-martial for allegedly slipping a trove of government secrets to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. The release included Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men.

The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments. Manning's lawyers counter that much of the information that was classified by the Pentagon posed no risk.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Women's Response to Alcohol Suggests Need for Gender-Specific Treatment Programs: Scientific American

Alcohol abuse does its neurological damage more quickly in women than in men, new research suggests. The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that is prompting researchers to consider whether the time is ripe for single-gender treatment programs for alcohol-dependent women and men.

Over the past few decades scientists have observed a narrowing of the gender gap in alcohol dependence. In the 1980s the ratio of male to female alcohol dependence stood at roughly five males for every female, according to figures compiled by Shelly Greenfield, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. By 2002 the "dependence difference" had dropped to about 2.5 men for every woman. But although the gender gap in dependence may be closing, differences in the ways men and women respond to alcohol are emerging. Writing in the January 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, principal investigator Claudia Fahlke from the Department of Psychology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and her colleagues found that alcohol's ability to reduce serotonin neurotransmission, was "telescoped" in alcoholic women compared with their male counterparts. In other words, although the alcohol-dependent men and women in the study differed substantially in their mean duration of excessive drinking--four years for the women and 14 years for the men--both sexes showed similar patterns of reduced serotonin activity compared with controls. The researchers gauged serotonergic neurotransmission by measuring its response to citalopram, a drug that stalls serotonin molecules in the synaptic gap (as measured by the hormone prolactin's response to citalopram. This pattern of reduced serotonergic neurotransmission matters, because some of the alcohol-induced abnormalities were found in brain regions involved in judgment, self-control and emotional regulation.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:34:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Translating Calorie Counts into Exercise Equivalents Leads to Healthier Choices | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

By mid-2012, coffee shops and burger joints across the country will be required to prominently display nutritional information about their food products. Many of the larger franchises are already doing this. But does knowing the number of calories in a caramel latte make you more likely to choose a fat-free coffee?

Unfortunately, no--most studies have found that caloric signage has little or no impact on the food choices that customers make. But that may be because people don't have a clear idea about what those calories mean, suggests Sara Bleich, a health policy expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"When my husband eats junk food, he always says he'll burn it off later," Bleich says. "And I'm thinking, `No you won't, honey.' "

The 250 calories in a bottle of soda may not sound like much, but to work off those calories, a 15-year-old weighing 110 pounds would have to jog for 50 minutes, ride a bicycle for 73 minutes, or walk briskly for two hours. Adults would have to work even harder, to compensate for their slower metabolism. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Bleich found that translating calories into a physical activity equivalent can help customers make healthier choices.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:34:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Malaria Deaths Falling Slowly, WHO Report Says | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

In the long fight against malaria, progress finally seems to be coming, if incrementally. The number of people who died from malaria in 2010 fell 5 percent from the previous year and has dropped 26 percent from 2000 levels, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The decline might seem modest given the $2 billion that has been given to fight the disease in the past year. But even this small most recent dip suggests that "investment in malaria control brings results," Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, said in a statement.

The parasitic disease killed approximately 655,000 people in 2010, most of whom were children under the age of 5. The preponderance of malaria cases is still in Africa, where people are also more likely to succumb to the disease.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Desertification has its upside apparently.
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:56:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meteorite shockwaves trigger dust avalanches on Mars

ScienceDaily (Dec. 16, 2011) -- Dust avalanches around impact craters on Mars appear to be the result of the shock wave preceding the actual impact, according to a study led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona.

When a meteorite careens toward the dusty surface of the Red Planet, it kicks up dust and can cause avalanching even before the rock from outer space hits the ground, a research team led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona has discovered.

"We expected that some of the streaks of dust that we see on slopes are caused by seismic shaking during impact," said Kaylan Burleigh, who led the research project. "We were surprised to find that it rather looks like shockwaves in the air trigger the avalanches even before the impact."

Because of Mars' thin atmosphere, which is 100 times less dense than Earth's, even small rocks that would burn up or break up before they could hit the ground here on Earth crash into the Martian surface relatively unimpeded.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:35:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
High-Altitude Nuclear Explosions Dangerous, but not for Reasons Gingrich Cites | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Newt Gingrich has been warning the nation of the danger of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP)--a burst of radiation created by a high-altitude nuclear explosion. This pulse would take down electrical systems over hundreds or thousands of miles, the argument goes, knocking the U.S. back to the 19th Century. "In theory, a relatively small device over Omaha would knock out about half the electricity generated in the United States," he was quoted as saying by the New York Times. In Gingrich's view, the threat of an EMP attack justifies actions such as pre-emptive strikes on the missile instillations of nations such as Iran and North Korea.

The threat of an EMP attack is real--assuming, of course, that a nation or organization develops not only nuclear weapons but intercontinental ballistic missiles and the will to deploy them. Yet the primary target of an EMP wouldn't be ground-based power systems. It would be satellites.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EMP is one of those elephants in the living room that nobody likes to take seriously. Sort of like the thousands of missiles armed with hydrogen bombs and still on alert that nobody talks about.
by asdf on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 07:59:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I always take the view that if somebody is gonna go to the trouble of creating EMP, you're already in bigger trouble with ground based explosions.

And fact is, it's far easier and less technologically challenging to put a bomb in a container and ship it to the US. Even if you restricted yourself to ship board detonation, you could still make a mess of several populous and strategic coastal cities.

The US is a techie country and is always guarding against hi-tech threats. Fact is, with the infrastructure in the state it is, you could probably cripple the US with one ton of C4 spread around the right places.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:47:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Archdruid Report
One of the things that makes the predicament of industrial society so difficult for most people to notice, in fact, is that its effects are woven so deeply into the patterns of everyday life. Over the last decade, for example, crude oil prices have more than tripled; over the last decade, behind a froth of speculative booms and busts, the world's industrial economies have lurched deeper into depression. Peak oil researchers have pointed out for years that the former trend would bring about the latter, but long after events proved them right, the connection still remains unnoticed by most people.

To be fair, the way most people and nearly all economists think about economics makes this sort of blindness to the obvious hard to avoid. It's standard these days to treat the circulation of money--the tertiary economy, to use a term from my book The Wealth of Nature--as though it's all that matters, and to insist that the cycles of nature and the production of goods and services (the primary and secondary economies) will inevitably do whatever we want them to do, so long as there's enough money. This is why, for instance, you'll hear economists insisting that the soaring price of oil is good for the economy; after all, all the money being spent to buy oil is getting spent in turn on other things, right?

What this ignores, of course, is the fact that the price of oil is going up, in large part, because petroleum is getting steadily more difficult to extract as we exhaust the easily accessible sources, and so the cost of oil production is going up while the amount of oil being produced is not. As a growing fraction of industrial civilization's capacity to produce goods and services has to be diverted into oil extraction in order to keep the oil flowing, the amount of that capacity that can be used for anything else decreases accordingly. Notice, though, that this diversion isn't an obvious thing; it happens one transaction at a time, throughout the economy, as laborers, raw materials, capital, and a thousand other things go into oil production instead of some other economic sector.

screwed, blued, tattooed!

'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 Dec 19th, 2011 at 03:14:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right after this, Greer references the article

Growth, debt, and the World Bank
by Herman Daly

which is worth an LQD!

by das monde on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 05:35:01 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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:07:58 PM EST
Philippines flood deaths hit 650 | World news | guardian.co.uk

Rescuers are searching for more than 800 people missing in the southern Philippines after flash floods and landslides swept houses into rivers and out to sea, killing more than 650 people.

The cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on the island of Mindanao were worst hit when typhoon Washi hit shore late on Friday and early on Saturday, sending torrents of water and mud through villages and stripping mountainsides bare.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) said 652 people were killed in eight provinces in the southern Mindanao region, which is unused to typhoons.

"Our office was swamped with hundreds of requests to help find their missing parents, children and relatives," Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the PNRC, told reporters. "We're helping co-ordinate the search with local government, army, police and even other aid agencies."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
GOP gets provision to curb ban on energy-sucking light bulbs | McClatchy

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Energy won't be able to enforce rules that ban energy-wasting light bulbs when new standards take effect in January, thanks to a requirement slipped into the federal spending bill.

House Republicans added the provision in response to the concerns of people who mistakenly thought that the 100-watt incandescent light bulb would be banned when new standards go into effect on Jan. 1.

"We heard the message loud and clear from Americans who don't want government standards determining how they light their homes," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners this month that the days of the 100-watt bulb were numbered. It soon will be "illegal to buy an incandescent light bulb. ... Well, you can have them but you can't sell them but they're still gonna be gunning for you," he said, according to a transcript of a Dec. 9 program.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How the U.S. Federal Government Pushes Energy Efficiency--On Itself: Scientific American

Standing on the north roof of the James Forrestal building in Washington, D.C., Brian Costlow gestures to the black solar photovoltaic array lying flat against the cement tiles. The system generates 235 megawatt-hours of electricity annually in an effort to boost the energy efficiency of this office complex, the headquarters for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Toward the south, the adjoining building takes a different tack. Framed by gray concrete, the west office's 66,000-square-foot roof is painted a stark white. The coating reflects sunlight and heat, reducing the need for air conditioning, and costs just as much as conventional roof resurfacing, said Costlow, who directs the agency's Office of Administration.

Inside, the offices are separated into color zones. Workers in different regions monitor their energy usage and compete head-to-head to improve their profiles, looking for energy losses and observing plug loads. Costlow describes their routine as "finding the alligators and draining the swamp."

The zone with the largest drop in energy consumption from the previous month gets a compact fluorescent bulb in its color in a trophy case in the building's lobby. "We had prominently displayed the daily energy consumption for each zone. We try to really kind of whoop it up a little bit," said Costlow. "We're trying to make certain that each and every employee understands that we can make a difference in the amount of energy that we consume."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Discovery of a 'dark state' could mean a brighter future for solar energy

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2011) -- The efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased, according to new research on the mechanisms of solar energy conversion led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin.

Zhu and his team have discovered that it's possible to double the number of electrons harvested from one photon of sunlight using an organic plastic semiconductor material.

"Plastic semiconductor solar cell production has great advantages, one of which is low cost," said Zhu, a professor of chemistry. "Combined with the vast capabilities for molecular design and synthesis, our discovery opens the door to an exciting new approach for solar energy conversion, leading to much higher efficiencies."

Zhu and his team published their groundbreaking discovery Dec. 16 in Science.

The maximum theoretical efficiency of the silicon solar cell in use today is approximately 31 percent, because much of the sun's energy hitting the cell is too high to be turned into usable electricity. That energy, in the form of "hot electrons," is instead lost as heat. Capturing hot electrons could potentially increase the efficiency of solar-to-electric power conversion to as high as 66 percent.



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:34:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Changing Climate Will Make Massive Shifts in Earth's Vegetation: Scientific American

Climate change will alter the mix of vegetation on 49 percent of Earth's land surface by the end of this century, scrambling and shifting existing ecosystems, according to a new study.

Researchers at NASA and the California Institute of Technology say the changing climate will also convert 37 percent of the world's land ecosystems from one type -- such as tundra, forest or grassland -- into another by 2100.

Those vegetation shifts are likely to affect animals and insects that have evolved to live among particular plant species and within certain temperature and precipitation ranges, said the study's lead author, independent scientist Jon Bergengren.

"Animals that are dependent on plants will either have to migrate with the plants, if the plants can successfully migrate, or hang on with plants that are struggling to survive," said Bergengren, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Either way, there are problems."



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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Birth of a New Earth: December 2011

In a groundbreaking study published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry last month, glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide "Roundup," is flowing freely into the groundwater in areas where it is being applied. The researchers found that 41% of the 140 groundwater samples taken from Catalonia Spain, had levels beyond the limit of quantification - indicating that, despite manufacturer's claims, it does not break down rapidly in the environment, and is accumulating there in concerning quantities.


Why Is Groundwater Contamination An Important Finding?

Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface, that supplies aquifers, wells and springs. If a chemical like glyphosate is mobile enough to get into the groundwater and is intrinsically resistant to being biodegraded (after all, it is being used to kill/degrade living things - not the other way around), significant environmental exposures to humans using the water are inevitable.

Keep in mind that glyphosate is considered by the EPA as a Class III toxic substance, fatal to an adult at 30 grams, and has been linked to over 20 adverse health effects in the peer-reviewed, biomedical literature.


'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 Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 07:34:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the 1%'s plan to deal with global climate change ... kill off the 99% with tainted water while they drink from private clean sources.  Gotta admit, with 99% of the world's population gone it would solve a host of problems. Don't hear any doable solutions coming from the 99% so why not.

Yes, I know, I'm part of the 99% but what the hell, can't live forever and I don't want to see Sac when it runs out of food for folks like me. Going hungry was for my parents ... look what it did to them.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 08:56:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get it now. Roundup ... as in the "last roundup" from the old TV westerns ... for the world's population problem. Somebody at Monsanto had a good sense of humor ... hope he got promoted.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2011 at 09:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the article in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry:

Abstract - SpringerLink

Determination of glyphosate in groundwater samples using an ultrasensitive immunoassay and confirmation by on-line solid-phase extraction followed by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry

But you have to buy access and in fact even the abstract is unavailable.

Pity, because the Birth of a New Earth site that refers to it is pretty crazy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 20th, 2011 at 02:24:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another article referred to there (with abstract):

Chang - 2011 - Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry - Wiley Online Library

Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere

which found glyphosate molecules present in air and rain in the American Middle West.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 20th, 2011 at 02:35:27 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 Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:09:28 PM EST
Vaclav Havel, former Czech president, dies aged 75 | World news | guardian.co.uk

Václav Havel, the dissident playwright who led the Czechoslovakian "velvet revolution" and was one of the fathers of the east European pro-democracy movement that led to the fall of the Berlin wall, has died aged 75.

Reports quoted his assistant, Sabina Dancecova, as saying Havel died at his weekend house on Sunday morning, and the news was announced on Czech television during an interview with the current prime minister, Petr Necas.

Necas called Havel "the symbol of 1989" and said he did "a tremendous job for this country".

Havel's state funeral is likely to draw a crowd of leaders, artists and intellectuals from around the world. Havel was a renowned playwright and essayist who, after the crushing of the Prague spring in 1968, was drawn increasingly into the political struggle against the Czechoslovakian communist dictatorship, which he called Absurdistan. His involvement in the Charter 77 movement for freedom of speech won him admiration around the world.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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