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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 16 February

by afew Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 04:01:30 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 

Europeans on this date in history:

1249 - Andrew of Longjumeau is dispatched by Louis IX of France as his ambassador to meet with Mongol Khagan of the Mongol Empire.

More here and here

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:45:18 AM EST
Europe's German agenda - The Local
The economy is in shambles, people are taking to the streets in angry protest, and the government is on the verge of collapse after passing unpopular yet necessary austerity measures.

But this is not Greece in 2012 - it was Germany a decade ago.

Contending with the worst economic downturn since 1993, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder came up with a package of labour and welfare reforms he called Agenda 2010. Deeply disliked at the time, it's now widely credited as the reason why Germany is in considerably better shape than the rest of Europe.

In particular, it helped increase Germany's competitiveness by making its labour market more flexible and living on the dole less attractive. But the Greeks, Italians and Irish now railing against the supposedly callous Germans for living it up while demanding their neighbours implement tough austerity measures appear not to be aware of just what it was like here ten years ago.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:29:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Arrests deal blow to Serbia's organised crime, but may not eliminate it (SETimes.com)

Serbian officials say the recent arrests of four criminals -- one of whom is charged in the March 12th 2003 assassination of the late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic -- is a major advance in the country's fight against organised crime.

President Boris Tadic said the arrests deal "a decisive blow to organised crime, from which it will not recover for a long time". He added that this could also be important for new investment in the country, because foreign businesses invest money in safe countries.

In Valencia, Spain, police arrested Vladimir Milisavljevic -- known as Budala -- who was sentenced in absentia in 2007 to 35 years in prison for Djindjic's assassination. Also apprehended was Serbian underground leader Luka Bojovic and members of his organization, Sinisa Petric and Vladimir Mijanovic.

"The Zemun criminal clan no longer exists," Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic announced on Friday (February 10th), speaking on Thursday's arrest.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Eurozone states want Greece out, says Venizelos

Some eurozone countries no longer want Greece in the bloc, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has said.

He accused the states of "playing with fire", as Greece scrambled to finalise an austerity plan demanded by the EU and IMF in return for a huge bailout.

Mr Venizelos promised to clarify the plan before a conference call with eurozone bosses due at 16:00 GMT.

Greece needs to convince lenders that it will make enough savings, and that its politicians will enact the changes.

Athens is hoping to get a 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout from the EU and IMF.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:59:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek squabbling adjourns Eurogroup meeting | EurActiv

Eurozone finance ministers have dropped plans for holding a face-to-face meeting today (15 February) on Greece's new international bailout, saying party leaders in Athens failed to provide the required commitment to reform. 

With the European Union's patience at breaking point, ministers downgraded the talks to a telephone conference call, almost certainly killing off any chance they would approve a €130 billion bailout that Greece needs by next month to avoid a messy bankruptcy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:04:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The other issue is the €325m shortfall in savings.  Kathimerini  writes that the Greek cabinet examined a proposal to use cuts in defense spending, public investment funds and the health sector, but that this proposal was rejected by Euro Working Group -- low-level EU finance ministry officials who were meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. Kathimerini's sources said that the EU officials insisted that the additional savings should come from cuts to pensions.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurozone crisis live: Greek president attacks Germany as bailout looks shakier | Business | guardian.co.uk

There's a few interesting rumours skitting around tonight following the eurogroup conference call.

Dow Jones is reporting tonight that some eurozone officials want a "Troika presense" agreed in Athens before the bailout can proceed, along with a commitment that Greece's rescue funds will be paid into an escrow account.

There's also a report that the German, Finnish and Netherland's finance ministers suggested that the eurogroup should also seek pledges from Greece's smaller political parties - having secured Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou's support.

That has not gone down well in Greece - journalist Efthimia Efthimiou argued that it showed that the eurozone was no longer prepared to help Greece.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurozone crisis live: Barroso salutes Greece's courage as markets fall | Business | guardian.co.uk

Jose Manuel Barroso struck a concilliatory tone in the European Parliament today. Rather than lambast Athens, he urged European leaders to accept Greece's undertakings, and give it the second bailout.

Barroso told MEPs that:

I would like to salute the courage of the Greek government and the Greek people in these very demanding, challenging times.

And I would hope that the member states, the members of the European Union will accept the commitments given by Greece.

There was no suggestion from Barroso that Europe would be better off without Greece, or by postponing the bailout.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 11:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain joins France in bid to ring fence CAP budget | EurActiv

The farm ministers of Spain and France have issued a joint statement on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), saying both countries "will not accept" any budget overhaul that fails to preserve the EU's current level of farm spending.

Spain has joined France in its campaign to preserve the EU's farm budget after 2013 when a major overhaul of the policy is due to kick in.

The two countries are among the biggest beneficiaries of the CAP, which absorbs some 40% of the EU's annual budget (see background).

As negotiations on the future of the CAP enter a critical phase, the two ministers stressed the importance of maintaining a strong agricultural sector that contributes to growth and jobs in Europe, said the joint statement, issued on Tuesday (14 February).

"In this respect, France and Spain consider it essential to maintain the CAP budget at least at the level of commitments reached at the end of the current programming period, as the Commission proposes." 

"France and Spain will not accept any financial framework that does not guarantee the stabilisation of the CAP."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cori Crider: Six Days for Britain to Avoid War Crimes Investigation

As the clock ticks down on the Yunus Rahmatullah case, the Ministry of Defence has been caught in another mess over its special forces in Iraq. The two cases have regrettable parallels: in both instances the MoD set its face against coming clean about the fate of its prisoners. Now it has been forced to admit the existence of the H1 blacksite, and is still stonewalling over the fate of Yunus Rahmatullah. But the time is fast approaching when the truth - all of it, however ugly - will emerge.

A brief recap: last week we learned that British involvement in Iraq's 'black sites' was far greater than we knew. The MoD was apparently up to its ears in a heretofore unknown secret prison at an airstrip in the desert called H1. We only know about H1 because one man, Tariq Sabri al-Fadhawi, was beaten to death in a Chinook en route. Given that the purpose of the detention facility was to hide prisoners from the International Committee of the Red Cross, it is safe to conclude that the fate of those who reached their destination was equally grim.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:48:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The government is seeking to shunt all cases like Yunus Rahmatullah into secret courts - itself an entirely separate scandal -- but they will have a bitter fight on their hands to keep the truth from coming out.

They may have to fight..a bit.. but they'll win and it will all disappear behind the fog of secrecy, lies and SOP. Any problems will be down to rogue elements and rotten apples etc etc move on, nothing to see here

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
House of Lords votes down plan to cut housing benefit | Society | The Guardian

Defiant peers have narrowly voted again to demand that the government drop plans to cut housing benefit for claimants in under-occupied homes.

The peers voted by 236 to 226, even though the Commons had last week rejected a similar amendment from the Lords and then imposed financial privilege, a means of preventing the Lords from tabling the same amendment again.

The Lords had opposed the so-called "spare bedroom" tax a fortnight ago, and on Tuesday reasserted that view by saying housing benefit cuts of £14 a week should not be imposed on claimants in under-occupied homes if they are unemployed, carers, foster carers, disabled or war widows.

In a process known as ping-pong, the Commons will have to address the issue again when it returns from its half-term break next week. The amendment passed was costed by the department of work and pensions as up to £100m annually by 2013-14.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Delays are threatening to derail the package - chances of a successful bond swap are already reduced
Yesterday's telephone conference agreed to postpone a decision on Greece until Monday; Germany, Finland and the Netherland seek more letters of assurance from smaller Greek parties; Jean-Claude Juncker said that some issues remained open until a final agreement can be reached; Antonis Samaras has written a letter confirming his commitment to the programme, but said that modification may be necessary if the Greek economy does not recover; Juncker also insisted that the troika would need a permanent representation in Greece; reiterated insistence that the money be disbursed into an escrow account; Wolfgang Schäuble enrages the Greeks with a suggestion that they should postpone the elections; a senior German official said there was now a massive problem of trust; Greek president Karolos Papoulias said he cannot accept Mr Schäuble's insults; Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said there are forces trying to push Greece out of the eurozone; Peter Spiegel has more details of the letters of the financial and legal advisers to the euro working group, in which they warn about the serious consequences of delaying the agreement; the Greek privatisation agency said that they could raise at most €4.7bn in revenues this year, as political obstacles remain; Portugal had a successful auction of Treasury Bills; Mario Monti says there shall be no additional austerity even if economy hits recession; also criticises stereotypes of core and periphery; Nicolas Sarkozy declares his candidacy for the French presidency; French Q4 growth stronger than previously estimated;Erkki Liikanen, meanwhile, warns about the consequences of the ECB's liquidity policies and says an exit strategy is urgently needed.

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 Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 08:30:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
British tanks to be sent to Germany for storage so army can sell land in UK | The Guardian
Thousands of the British military's tanks, carriers and cars will head across the Channel because of MoD plans to sell off its vast complex at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire. This is where it stores or repairs up to 6,000 vehicles, ready for duty.

The problem of where to put them all when the 72-hectare (178-acre) site is sold has been troubling military planners, who have plumped for Mönchengladbach in western Germany. The city in North-Rhine Westphalia is home to the British-owned Ayrshire barracks.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 12:51:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:45:43 AM EST
BBC News - Europe economy: Recession hits Italy and Netherlands

Two of the eurozone's biggest economies have fallen into recession, according to the latest economic figures.

Italy and the Netherlands both saw their economies shrink by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, the second consecutive quarter of economic contraction.

Germany had its first negative quarter since 2009 with a decline of 0.2%, compared with the previous quarter.

But in France there was surprise growth of 0.2% at the end of last year, attributed to healthy export growth.

Overall the 17 nations that make up the eurozone saw economic activity shrink 0.3% in the fourth quarter. By comparison the United States reported growth of 0.7%.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:44:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - BNP Paribas profits hit by Greek debt writedowns

BNP Paribas, France's biggest listed bank, has reported a 50% fall in profit for the final three months of 2011, after taking further losses on its Greek debt holdings.

It reported net income of 765m euros ($1bn; £641m) for the quarter, after writing down its Greek assets by a further 567m euros.

The bank said it had now written down the value of its Greek debt by 75%.

For 2011 as a whole, net income was down 22.9% to 6bn euros.

Despite the sharp fall in fourth quarter profits, BNP's results were better than analysts' expectations and quarterly revenues of 9.69bn euros were also stronger than forecast.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:02:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
World Bank President Zoellick to Step Down - Bloomberg

World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2007, said he will leave the institution when his five-year term ends June 30.

"Together we have focused on supporting developing countries to navigate crises and adjust to global economic shifts," Zoellick, 58, said in an e-mailed statement today. "The bank is now strong, healthy and well positioned for new challenges, and so it is a natural time for me to move on and support new leadership."

... President Barack Obama may nominate Lawrence Summers, his former National Economic Council adviser, to replace Zoellick, two people familiar with the matter said last month. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also being considered, one of the people said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:46:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UK unemployment stuck at 17-year high as economy flatlines | Business | The Guardian

Britain's unemployment rate has remained at its highest level since 1995 - 8.4% - as the flatlining economy takes its toll on the labour market.

Official figures released on Wednesday showed that the number of people out of work was up by 48,000 on the previous three months to 2.67 million, on the International Labour Organisation measure.

Analysts pointed out that the increase in unemployment was the slowest since last June, when the jobs market was deteriorating sharply, after improving through much of 2010.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:46:06 AM EST
EUobserver.com / Opinion / Time for honest audit of EU-US relations

BRUSSELS - With pressure coming from every direction, the EU and the US now, more than ever, need an honest discussion about their partnership. They should figure out how best to consolidate their strengths and plan a course of action.

The electoral year in the United States poses a challenge to Europeans, but it also offers an opportunity for them to reflect upon the state of the transatlantic partnership and present their vision of it.

The next presidency will not be about repairing America's image but about reaffirming US global leadership.

In this year's State of the Union address, Barack Obama argued that "the renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe" and "anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline ... does not know what they are talking about."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:01:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We will review our relationship with the US 5 minutes after the US pulls all of its military out of europe and not one minute sooner.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At this point, I hope Greece becomes an American vassal state once again.
by Upstate NY on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 10:59:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian Crisis Spills Over Into Lebanon - IPS ipsnews.net
TRIPOLI, Lebanon, Feb 15, 2012 (IPS) - Chants erupt from the second floor of a decrepit building in Tripoli in the Sunni stronghold of Bab el-Tebbaneh. Young voices loudly sing "Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar," or "Come on, leave, Bashar," directed at the Syrian president, Bashar al- Assad. It has become the anthem of the Syrian revolution.

Behind a broken door, women and children gather around a hot pot of coffee. Souhaib Aal, one of the teenagers sitting in the small, run-down room, proudly shows a makeshift copy of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) ID card. "I want to be like the FSA soldiers when I grow up. They have shown strength and courage in battling Assad's dictatorship!" he says with a proud smile.

The building bears the scars of the violent battle that raged last weekend between Sunni residents from Bab el-Tebbaneh and their Alawite neighbors in Jabal Mohsen. The Syrian regime is made up of Alawites who rule a Sunni-majority country. The fighting, which left three people dead, ended last Saturday after Tripoli lawmakers hammered out a ceasefire.

The onslaught on Homs has enflamed emotions in nearby Lebanon, reviving tensions between Lebanese Sunnis, who largely support the Syrian rebellion, and Alawites, who support the regime in Damascus. The conflict between the groups has been ongoing for generations and seems set to continue for long.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bombardment of Syrian City Continues - IPS ipsnews.net
DOHA, Qatar, Feb 14, 2012 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - Syrian troops have shelled the central city of Homs for a 10th day, opposition activists say, amid suggestions by the U.N.'s human rights chief that the U.N. Security Council's failure to pass a resolution condemning Syria has encouraged the government to intensify its attacks on civilians.

At least seven people were killed and more than 20 injured on Tuesday in the city's Bab Amr neighbourhood, which endured relentless barrage of heavy machinegun fire, tank shells, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the activists.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Homs, activist Hadi al-Abdallah told Al Jazeera that the shelling, which started at 5:30am local time, was the heaviest in days.

"Bab Amr and adjacent Inshaat neighbourhoods are being shelled every 15 minutes," he said.

"We do not know what to do with the injured. Since the assault started 10 days ago, there have been more than 1,000 people injured."

Bab Amr is an opposition stronghold that government forces have been struggling to regain control of.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:39:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel Shifts Uneasily Over Syria - IPS ipsnews.net
JERUSALEM, Feb 14, 2012 (IPS) - Grappling with the fallout on their country of a possible forced removal from power of Syria's President Bashar Assad, Israeli leaders are fluctuating between wariness, cautious optimism, and self-righteousness.

Last week, as the toll exacted by the 11-month Syrian uprising was mounting dramatically, Israelis were offered by their Prime Minister the customary appraisal that their country is like "a villa in the Mideast jungle".

"We have received a reminder about what kind of a neighbourhood we live in," reiterated Benjamin Netanyahu, while delivering the customary recipe: "Developing Israel's strength".

Netanyahu's statement prudently reflected the smallest common denominator in an array of tentative attitudes and positions with regard to the chaos gripping their north-eastern neighbour. Israel has officially adopted a policy of non-interference in the Syrian crisis. But that was before the uprising evolved into civil war.

When asked by Army Radio whether Israel was in contact with the Syrian opposition, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon retorted rather obliquely, "Whether there's contact or not, don't expect me to discuss these things in the media."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:42:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel: Yes, the Israelis continue to obsess about Iran. And yes, Baathist Syria continues to be an Iran-friendly power. But when all is said and done, Syria has been a relatively quiet Arab neighbor, an island of stability for the Israelis. Yes, the Syrians aid Hezbollah, but Hezbollah too has been relatively quiet. Why would the Israelis really want to take the risk of a turbulent post-Baathist Syria? Who would then wield power, and might they not have to improve their credentials by expanding jihad against Israel? And wouldn't the fall of Assad lead to upsetting the relative quiet and stability that Lebanon now seems to enjoy, and might this not end up with the further strengthening and renewed radicalism of Hezbollah? Israel has a lot to lose, and not too much to gain, if Assad falls.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:29:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trenin: How the Iran Nuclear Standoff Looks From Russia - Bloomberg

When Russians look at Iran, they see a country that has been their neighbor and rival forever. As the Russian empire advanced, it wrestled the North and South Caucasus from the Shah. Peter the Great annexed, briefly, Iran's entire Caspian Sea coastline and put his forces just north of Tehran.

In the early 20th century, Russia and the U.K. divided Iran into zones of influence. The Russians got the north and proceeded to occupy Iran twice, during each of the world wars. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met with Josef Stalin in Tehran in 1943, they were protected by the Red Army.

Yet there was never much love lost between the two countries. To Iranians, Russia was too powerful and too threatening. Russians, meanwhile, remembered their own embassy trauma at Iranian hands in 1829. Every schoolchild knows the fate of Alexander Griboyedov, the czar's ambassador to Persia, who was murdered, with his entire embassy staff, by an angry Tehran mob. Griboyedov was a great Russian author, many of whose lines Russian children -- and grown-ups -- know by heart.

This brief background is vital to understanding where Russians are coming from as they approach Iran's nuclear program

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahmadinejad Hails `Great' Iranian Nuclear Progress | World | RIA Novosti

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trumpeted on Wednesday major advances in the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, in a move likely to further raise the stakes in its tense stand-off with the West.

"I am grateful to the Almighty...for these great achievements we are offering to the people of Iran and all humanity," he said at a research reactor in northwest Tehran.

In an event that was a startling mix of religious ceremony and scientific procedure, Ahmadinejad presided over the loading of Iran's first domestically produced nuclear fuel rods into the research reactor, joining scientists as they intoned Islamic prayers after each stage of the process.

He then took to the stage at the reactor's conference hall to announce that a "new generation of Iranian centrifuges" had been installed and put into operation at the country's main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran. He said this brought the number of Iran's operating centrifuges for nuclear enrichment up to 9,000 from 6,000.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:01:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Insight: Suns rise and set rapidly in China leadership opera | Reuters

(Reuters) - Leaders battling for promotion in China's Communist Party are using pages out of an old manual for negotiating the rungs of power, with the launch of separate probes that have tarnished the chances of one rising star and burnished those of another.

While circumstances are murky, the twin cases have rapidly exploded to upset a leadership succession that just weeks ago had been plodding along smoothly.

With the Communist Party's 18th Congress just months away, the sudden downfall of two officials -- one a right-hand man to a rising leader, the other the target of a rising general -- has increased the stakes, revved up the rumormill and added a strong hint of political uncertainty to the most critical leadership transition in China in nearly a decade.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Honduras prison fire kills hundreds

At least 300 prisoners have been killed after a massive fire swept through a jail in Honduras, officials say.

Many victims were burned or suffocated to death in their cells in Comayagua, north of the capital Tegucigalpa.

The officials say at least 300 are confirmed dead, but a further 56 inmates, out of the 853 in the prison, are missing and presumed dead.

Relatives of prisoners clashed with police as they tried to force their way into the prison, desperate for news.

Police responded by firing shots into the air and tear gas.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:45:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mormon Church apologizes for posthumous baptisms | LA Times
The Mormon Church apologized Tuesday for a "serious breach of protocol" after it was discovered that the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized as Mormons. The church also acknowledged that one of its members tried to baptize posthumously three relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
What's wrong with that? He gets to drink alcohol, coffee and all the rest, and still goes to heaven. Surely other Mormons should be upset at other people getting a free pass?

Later in the article

The latest revelations came from Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who independently researches Mormon genealogy. Radkey is perhaps best known for discovering in 2009 that President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, had been baptized after her death.
Does that make Obama a Mormon as well?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 12:56:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran: Our satellite photographed Israel's Dimona reactor, IDF bases | Ha'aretz
Iran and the West are now competing over who is getting more stressed: Europe that feared on Wednesday that Iran was about to cut the oil line, or Iran, which has been consistently busy uncovering new technologies.

In one example, the Iranian website Mashreq claimed that the recently launched Navid-class satellite was able to take detailed photographs of the nuclear reactor in Dimona as well as "sensitive sites, air forces bases, and various areas of Tel Aviv."

What advantage can they get from more detailed pictures than those on Google Maps (try 31 00.1075  35 08.4306)? Or the picture (maybe a little bit out of date?) on Electronic Intifada?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 02:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:46:30 AM EST
Even moderate air pollution can raise stroke risks

Air pollution, even at levels generally considered safe by federal regulations, increases the risk of stroke by 34 percent, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers have found.

Writing in the Feb. 14, 2012 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers who studied more than 1,700 stroke patients in the Boston area over a 10-year period found exposure to ambient fine particulate matter, generally from vehicle traffic, was associated with a significantly higher risk of ischemic strokes on days when the EPA's air quality index for particulate matter was yellow instead of green.

Researchers focused on particles with a diameter of 2.5 millionths of a meter, referred to as PM2.5. These particles come from a variety of sources, including power plants, factories, trucks and automobiles and the burning of wood. They can travel deeply into the lungs and have been associated in other studies with increased numbers of hospital visits for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.

"The link between increased stroke risk and these particulates can be observed within hours of exposure and are most strongly associated with pollution from local or transported traffic emissions," says Murray A. Mittleman, MD, DrPH, the study's senior author, a physician in the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fukushima faces increased quake risk - study

Japan's crippled nuclear plant at Fukushima needs to beef up safety measures to face the risk of a large earthquake, scientists said on Tuesday.

The alarm was sounded by a trio of seismologists in Japan and China, who say the risk is an indirect cause of the March 11 tsunami-generating super-quake.

"The security of the nuclear plant site should be strengthened to withstand potential large earthquakes in the future," the team said in a study published in a specialist journal.

The concern stems from a computer model of the crust and mantle lying under northeastern Japan.

Using a technique called seismic tomography, the team analysed data from a vast network of sensors which record waves of energy propelled through the ground by earth tremors.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:07:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: Scientists: 'Big One' Building Beneath Fukushima

Last week the temperature in Fukushima Daiichi's #2 reactor vessel - as measured at the "0" position gage - began rising in an erratic manner. Over the weekend the gage shot over 80ºC, causing TEPCO to have to report that if the reading is accurate, the #2 reactor can no longer be considered to be in a state of "cold shutdown."

A hole was drilled in the #2 reactor containment vessel for insertion of an industrial endoscopy camera on January 19th, revealing high gamma radiation, no water level or evidence of corium, and a steady dripping of water through the breached reactor vessel. Which was reported to have "melted through" in the early days of the mid-March 2011 disaster.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 07:24:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
looking in here


it looks like TEPCO saved money by buying cheap thermocouples, 2 wire rather than 4 wire, and the insulation has finally failed on those 2 wires, and that has resulted in themo-electric effects causing random extra ammounts of electricity, reading out at the control room as fluctuating heat.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 07:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
reading through the comment section on the DKos article is very revealing, if even a third of the claims can be backed up.

Would someone please give me evidence that this civilization is evolved enough to handle nuclear power?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 03:21:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what civilization ? Japan ? humanity ? I see no such ships

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:27:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Overinvesting in energy efficiency, on purpose | David Roberts - Grist

This is the fourth post in a mini-series on the rebound effect. Here are posts one, two, and three.

Let's briefly review what we've covered so far in my rebound series:

  1. Climate change means we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a lot, beginning immediately.
  2. There are two ways to reduce GHG emissions from energy: increase low-carbon energy supply and/or decrease total energy consumption.
  3. Ramping up clean energy supply can't be done fast enough to keep us within our carbon budget, certainly not in the short- to mid-term, if at all. So we've got to use less energy.
  4. There are two ways to reduce energy demand: reduce the energy intensity of the global economy and/or reduce the growth of the global economy.
  5. Substantially reducing global energy intensity turns out to be extremely difficult, thanks in part to the rebound effect.
  6. If energy intensity can't be reduced quickly enough, then the only answer left (other than failing to stabilize global temperature at all) is slowing GDP growth. Yikes.

So where does this leave us? In my mind, two big questions remain, regarding Nos. 5 and 6.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sadly, even Dave Roberts is simply wrong about point three. Ramping up renewables drastically can well be done, though that of course is only one part of the problem.

Let's also not forget that in this very Salon, are the first reports of an increase in strokes within hours of higher levels of PM2.5s.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 03:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think he's simply wrong to say we need to use less energy. Which connects with air pollution too.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 03:58:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was only referring to point three. for the record, in my circle of advocates going back to the mid-70s, energy efficiency (negawatts) was always choice number one. that hasn't changed.

but the renewable industries have already proven that the scale up of the necessary supply chain is not only doable, it's been done. and it's critical for people with as much influence as him to understand that.

(so why don't you send him an email? hey CH, sometimes you show evidence of functioning.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 04:03:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New study links childhood leukaemia to nuclear power plant radiation - News - The Ecologist
The UK government's scientific advisory group found no link between childhood leukaemia and proximity to nuclear power plants, but German and French research has found an alarming doubling of risk. Matilda Lee reports

In the latest development in the debate over to what extent there is a link between childhood leukaemia and radiation from nuclear power plants, a French study has found a doubling in the incidence of the disease among children under 5 living within 5-kilometre radius of a nuclear plant.

The study, conducted by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (INSERM) and reported in the International Journal on Cancer in January 2012, looked at child leukaemia cases nationwide diagnosed between 2002 and 2007, with addresses coded around 19 nuclear power plants. It demonstrated a statistically significant doubling of the incidence of childhood leukaemia near nuclear power plants.

The French study confirms an earlier German study, known as the KiKK, which found a doubling of the incidence of child leukaemia near nuclear power plants, and an increased risk of 60 per cent for all childhood cancers. The KiKK findings were confirmed by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:16:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"A Catastrophic Year" as Hunger Crisis Looms over Sahel - IPS ipsnews.net
NOUAKCHOTT , Feb 15, 2012 (IPS) - Seven out of the eight governments in the Sahel - the arid zone between the Sahara desert in North Africa and Sudan's Savannas in the south - have taken the unprecedented step of declaring emergencies as 12 million people in the region are threatened by hunger.

Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria have all called for international assistance to prevent yet another hunger crisis on the continent. Only Senegal, which will hold presidential elections later this month, has refrained from announcing an emergency, largely for political reasons.

"It's a catastrophic year. The drought is severe. We need urgent intervention to prevent a famine," warns Ahmed Weddady, national director in the Ministry of Water and Sanitation of Mauritania, the country with the world's least amount of potable water, which suffered the worst harvest shortfall in the region. A third of its population already suffers severe food insecurity.

After a drought destroyed the majority of the harvest in the Sahel late last year, rural populations throughout the region have started to run out of food in early February. That's a good six months before the next harvest is expected.

But the world's rich nations, plagued by financial crises and having just spent millions of dollars in emergency aid during last year's Somalia famine, have been slow to respond to the appeals. Barely half of the 650 million dollars needed by the United Nations (U.N.) alone have been pledged. Other aid agencies say they are equally short of funds.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can Europe Derail the Shale Gas Express? - IPS ipsnews.net
MARSEILLE, Feb 13, 2012 (IPS) - Following numerous warnings issued by geologists, health scientists and environmental experts throughout the United States, Europe is now well aware of the high ecological and health risks associated with the exploitation of shale gas fields.

Yet, despite ample knowledge and strong public opposition from various local communities, the recently discovered shale gas deposits across Europe - in particular in France, Germany, and Poland - are highly coveted and will likely soon be exploited by the traditional oil, gas and mineral multinationals.

This year, test drillings are expected to begin in more than 150 locations in Poland, which allegedly contains the richest shale gas fields in Europe. In Germany, local electricity providers have obtained rights to drill in numerous localities in the Northern federal state of Lower Saxony. The French government, meanwhile, has chosen more than 70 sites for drilling, mostly along the Mediterranean coast, around the southern city of Marseille.

Similar projects are under way in Switzerland, Britain, Sweden, and other European countries.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:41:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - 500m children 'at risk of effects of malnutrition'

Half a billion children could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years because they do not have enough to eat, the charity Save the Children says in a new report.

It says much more needs to be done to tackle malnutrition in the world's poorest countries.

The charity found that many families could not afford meat, milk or vegetables.

The survey covered families in India, Bangladesh, Peru, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Should anyone wish to read the latest newsletter from Windenergie Agentur Bremerhaven Bremen (now just WAB), you can find the pdf HERE.

auf Deutsch, but lots of photos and stuff.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 05:03:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a good place to get generation data for individual German wind farms (offshore is currently by main interest, but onshore would be a nice extra too)?

There's lashings of data available for the Danish sites (monthly generation by individual turbine; and 1-minute & 5-minute data for West-DK / East-DK totals), and some data for British sites (farm-wide by month, from the ROC data), but I don't know of any equivalent German data.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 09:04:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reasonably certain that offshore park production remains confidential (except in some instances for annual production from the entire park, but only Alpha Ventus has a complete year), but for German onshore sites:

Here (forward projections)

Hourly data from eex HERE

Windparks DE   HERE

don't know if there's a site which publishes windpark data, but can't imagine such exists.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 10:32:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what's the GB ROC site, and the Danish site?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 10:33:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Crazy Horse, many thanks for the data links. Here are mine:

DK data

The Danish turbine-specific data is available from ENS, in their wind turbine register - the main data is linked in the body text, and monthly data by year is listed down the right-hand side of the page.

The 5-minute data fleet-wide data is available, by FTP only, from Energinet, and all the files zipped come to 6MB in total.

The 1-minute data is shown on this live Energinet chart, and as it's provided in a SOAP feed, one might think that it would be possible to create an automated scraper of that feed to archive the minute-by-minute data, if one felt that it might offer an interesting complement to the 5-minute data.

Using these, here are a couple of things I prepared earlier:
Capacity factors at Danish offshore wind farms and a paper showing that Denmark exports its thermal power, and practically none (0.1%-1%) of its wind power

GB data

The GB ROC data is available for 2002-2006 here, and for more recent data from the renewables register

Happy to discuss further, by email if you like: - andrew at my Eurotrib username here dot info

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 12:05:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:46:49 AM EST
Fruit flies drawn to the sweet smell of youth

Aging takes its toll on sex appeal and now an international team of researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Michigan find that in fruit flies, at least, it even diminishes the come-hither effect of the chemicals of love - pheromones.

"This is new because we have direct evidence that the pheromones produced at these different ages affect sexual attractiveness differently," said Tsung-Han Kuo, a graduate student in the department of molecular and human genetics and the Huffington Center on Aging at BCM. Kuo is first author of the report that appears online in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Pheromones are chemicals produced by an organism to communicate or attract another. In this case, Drosophila melanogaster or fruit flies produce chemicals called cuticular hydrocarbons.

Special mass spectrometry studies that looked in detail at the composition and level of production of these hydrocarbons showed that they differed between the sexes, but more important, they changed with age.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 10:07:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fruit flies like a banana.

But time flies for fruit flies too.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 06:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like..."

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:25:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... a banana.

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 Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 09:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Fruit flies like a banana" is a proposition in entomological gastronomy, whereas "Fruit flies like a banana" is a proposition in horticultural aerobatics. These two subjects, while they are important intellectual disciplines demanding our utmost respect, are still in their infancy, and unfortunately we cannot rely on them for more than tentative, if hopeful, guesses as to whether fruit flies do like a banana, or as to whether fruit does fly like a banana, The important fact is that the two fields have as yet no common ground; at present, no reputable interdisciplinary work has been done in both at once; no joint degree has been taken in entomological gastronomy as applied to horticultural aerobatics; no lecture entitled "Fruit flight and the diet of Drosphila: bananism versus pomegranity" has been read, There is no connection between the two sentences.
(from Carl E. Linderholm, Mathematics made difficult, discussion as to whether AB=AB)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 09:55:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perspective: Questing for Blue Oceans - Science Careers - Biotech, Pharmaceutical, Faculty, Postdoc jobs on Science Careers

It may be useful to think about science's recent development -- from breakthroughs by individuals like Einstein, Curie, or Bohr to well-planned research programs involving teams of scientists -- as analogous to companies, which start out small and innovative. Something valuable and audacious is lost when they grow into billion-dollar megacorporations. As Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen explained in his book, The Innovator´s Dilemma, large companies tend to ignore disruptive innovations and focus on what they perceive as the demands of their current customers. They forget that real business value comes from creating new market opportunities. Henry Ford, who produced the first affordable automobile, is claimed to have said, "If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better [or, in some versions, faster] horse." The quote may be apocryphal, but it helps to make this point: Rather than improving already existing products and services, disruptive innovators create demand for products and services that customers don't yet know they need. Such novel markets were dubbed "blue oceans" by INSEAD business school professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their book Blue Ocean Strategy.

Coming up with disruptive ideas is a job great scientists do, too. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and Einstein's theories of relativity are examples of blue oceans opened up by disruptive scientists. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for scientists to practice disruptive science. The academic career puts pressure on immediate results, continuous publication, and countless academic and administrative duties, especially early on. Meanwhile, there is little incentive for scientists to be ambitious. Increased specialization of scientific research, pressure to pursue mainstream topics, and the difficulty of obtaining grant money for the most audacious projects encourage scientists to focus on the incremental.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 02:58:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sun team probing sustained criminality: source | Reuters

(Reuters) - An investigation into Rupert Murdoch's top-selling British newspaper, the Sun, has uncovered evidence that it paid tens of thousands of pounds in retainers to public officials for tipoffs, a source with knowledge of the probe said on Wednesday.

Much of the evidence passed to police has been provided by Murdoch's own News Corp group, and deepens a crisis at the Sun, where officers have arrested nine former and current senior staff in recent weeks over illegal payments.

Murdoch has been trying to regain the high ground ever since an outcry last summer - over revelations that his journalists had hacked the voicemails of crime victims and their families - forced him to close the profitable News of the World title and abort a planned multibillion-dollar buyout of Britain's biggest satellite broadcaster.

"This is not about sources or expenses, this is an investigation into serious suspected criminality over a sustained period," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:04:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Independent - Front Page - You couldn't make it up: Sun staff hope Strasbourg can save them from Murdoch

The crisis in Rupert Murdoch's news empire deepened last night when Sun journalists began planning legal action against their employer with the help of two things they have previously shunned - the Human Rights Act and the National Union of Journalists.

Several senior journalists have contacted the NUJ - to which they do not belong because News International has its own staff organisation - seeking its help in putting together a case claiming that the parent company has breached their right to freedom of expression by passing information about their sources to the Metropolitan Police.

Which is interesting given their normal attitude to anything European

The Sun says: The usual editorial line

'I am happy to point out the cases where the Act has been used to right a real wrong... Except that I can't think of any'

Jane Moore, 27 April 2011

'Soft judges must not put the human rights of dangerous fanatics above the right of decent citizens to live in safety'

Trevor Kavanagh, 28 may 2007

'We'd love to see Britain ignoring orders from Strasbourg judges that stop us deporting foreign killers'

Sun editorial, 21 September 2011

'How truly awful ... Is belonging to Europe a price worth paying for allowing creeps like this to hide behind the Human Rights Act?'

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Acta loses more support in Europe | Technology | guardian.co.uk

Support for Acta in Europe is waning as both Bulgaria and the Netherlands refuse to ratify the international anti-piracy agreement.

Bulgaria will not ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement over fears it will curb freedom to download movies and music for free and encourage internet surveillance, economy minister Traicho Traikov said on Tuesday.

More than 4,000 people marched in the capital Sofia last Saturday calling on parliament not to ratify the act. Similar rallies drew thousands of protesters across eastern Europe, as well as in Germany, France and Ireland.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Met probes claims that Sun paid some public officials more than £10k a year | Media | guardian.co.uk

The Scotland Yard investigation into alleged illegal payments by Sun journalists to police and other public officials is looking into claims that some individuals received more than £10,000 a year and were "effectively on retainer".

News Corporation's controversial internal unit passing information about alleged illegal practices by News International journalists to the Metropolitan police believes it has uncovered evidence of "serious suspected criminality over a sustained period" by some public officials supplying information to the Sun.

The revelation will almost certainly mean that Rupert Murdoch, the New York-based News Corp chairman and chief executive, will not seek to rein in the management and standards committee when he arrives in London on Friday for what are now almost certain to be crisis talks with News International management.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:57:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:47:18 AM EST
...so you don't have to" department

As David praises Victoria's fashion range, Posh admits: "He didn't know what I did before"

For aficiando of stylistic shifts, this is a prime example of the relatively recent Chick-Schtick, or celebrity commentary in Conversational Hairdresser mode. The root male equivalent is the 'Fuck 'em all' diatribes heard in post-match pubs after a loss on the field.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 12:55:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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