Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 6 September

by dvx Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:04:40 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1962 - Archaeologist Peter Marsden discovers the first of the Blackfriars Ships dating back to the 2nd century AD in the Blackfriars area of the banks of the River Thames in London.

More here and here

 The European Salon is a daily selection of news items to which you are invited to contribute. Post links to news stories that interest you, or just your comments. Come in and join us!


The Salon has different rooms or sections for your enjoyment. If you would like to join the discussion, then to add a link or comment to a topic or section, please click on "Reply to this" in one of the following sections:

  • EUROPE - is the place for anything to do with Europe.
  • ECONOMY & FINANCE - is where you find what is going on in finance and the economy.
  • WORLD - here you can add links and comments on topics concerning world affairs.
  • LIVING OFF THE PLANET - is about the environment, energy, agriculture, food...
  • LIVING ON THE PLANET - is about humanity, society, culture, history, information...
  • PEOPLE AND KLATSCH - this is the place for stories about people and of course also for gossipy items. But it's also there for open discussion at any time.
  • I hope you will find this place inspiring - of course meaning the inspiration gained here to show up in interesting diaries on ET. :-)

    There is just one favor I would like to ask you - please do NOT click on "Post a Comment", as this will put the link or your comment out of context at the bottom of the page.

    Come on and join in!

Display:
 EUROPE 



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:04:10 PM EST
Berlin urges Athens to implement reforms fully | News | DW.DE | 04.09.2012

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has been told during a visit to Berlin by his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble that Greece must stay the course in implementing its fiscal reforms.

Schäuble hosted Stournaras on Tuesday in Berlin, where the two discussed Greece's progress in carrying out fiscal reforms that are conditions for the next installment of international bailout money.

"It is vital that Greece fulfils its promises completely," read a statement published on Germany's Finance Ministry website after their meeting.

Schäuble also said that Greece's compliance was currently being checked by experts of the troika group comprising the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:13:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is somewhat like giving someone a loaded gun and insisting that they hold it to their heads and pull the trigger.

What they are demanding is immoral and should never be asked of any country

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, you're going to see a lot of this, it'll get very popular in the future for everyone.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:18:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cross-party Heathrow runway talks to begin | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Talks are to start on a possible cross-party commission into the future of aviation capacity in south-east England, including a possible third runway at Heathrow, it has emerged, after angry Commons exchanges between David Cameron and Ed Miliband over growth and infrastructure planning.

It was the first clash between the two party leaders since the summer break in what is a brief parliamentary interlude before the conference season.

Cameron said he would not renege on his manifesto pledge to oppose a third runway in this parliament but he sidestepped a Labour backbench call to rule out a third runway as long as he remained Conservative leader.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has described a plan for a third runway as madness and called on the government to level with the people of London, rather than "undertake a stealthy U-turn".



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:13:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's 40 miles from Heathrow to Gatwick. Why not expand there, then build a 200 MPH HSR link between these two existing airports and treat them as one? 15 minute transit time between them is similar to the walking time between gates at practically any airport.

It's 65 miles from Heathrow to Stanstead. Why not expand there, then build a 200 MPH HSR link between these two existing airports and treat them as one? 30 minute transit time between them is similar to the transit time between gates at plenty of big airports.

It's 100 miles from Heathrow to Birmingham. Why not expand there, then build a 200 MPH HSR link between these two existing airports and treat them as one? 50 minute transit time is well within layover time between connecting flights.

Sure sounds like BAA has something going on in all this...

by asdf on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:19:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stansted
by asdf on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:19:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is totemic rather than logical. The arguments for and against any particular site are largely stupid and based on nonsense forecasts which operate in isolation from each other.

What nobody has done is work out a fully formed strategy for the UK's integrated transport needs into the 21st century. So, it is largely impossible to really work out the best way forward.

most of the pressure comes from the City (naturally) who all live out in Buckinghamshire and like the idea of going a few miles to Heathrow for their important flight to beijing and NYC. But LHR is a total shambles of an airport and expanding it would make it worse

As for building railways, its a nice idea but the whole of the SE is a locked in Tory constituency who do not want a new railway anywhere in their siteline. Plus, whilst air prices are held deliberately low, train fares are rocketing, so we'd have the issue that it might cost £100 to fly across europe and another £100 to get to your connecting flight at another airport 50 miles away.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:37:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the Indie there's serious interest in building another giant airport in Berks or Oxfordshire.

This would make it possible for Cameron to Do Something without going back on his promise not to build another runway at Heathrow.

It's certainly possible. But politically it's completely mad, and will be steamrollered by nimby opposition from the shire-dwellers who won't want their peace disturbed.

What nobody has done is work out a fully formed strategy for the UK's integrated transport needs into the 21st century.

How very old-fashioned of you. :)

Doncha know the Competition Fairy solves problems like that just by waving her invisible hand around?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:47:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, whilst air prices are held deliberately low, train fares are rocketing, so we'd have the issue that it might cost £100 to fly across europe and another £100 to get to your connecting flight at another airport 50 miles away.

That's exactly how it works here. For example, if you arrive at the Cincinnati airport and want to get to the train station, the taxi ride (14 miles) is around $50. Then the train ticket to Chicago (300 miles) is another $50.

Since you guys are so enthusiastic about following our American lead on everything, this should be just fine...  :-)

by asdf on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 11:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At Heathrow, it's already a 15mn walk to get to the train station... so that does add up and is not that practical...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:31:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At the spread-out airports here, we have mass transportation. Dallas-Fort Worth airport would be unusable otherwise, with up to about two miles between some gates.

If walking between gates is impractical, and a cheap little internal "Skylinke" running at 60 KPH is satisfactory, then a proper high speed equivalent would make gates separated by dozens of miles just as practical.

by asdf on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Northern Ireland leaders hold emergency talks over Belfast rioting | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers are to hold emergency talks with Assembly members from north Belfast in an attempt to end the sectarian violence and rioting in the city over the last three days.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will host the cross-party meeting of north Belfast assemblymen and women at Stormont Castle on Wednesday.

The discussions follow a third night of violence close to the Lower Shankill estate near the Antrim Road.

Police came under attack again with bricks, stones and fireworks in Denmark Street. Three more officers were injured in Tuesday night's trouble although none of them needed hospital treatment.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:13:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, they could ban all marches, cos they're what cause the problem in the first place. Only wankers march, so stop the wankers marching.

But you can't, cos it's "traditional".

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:39:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brussels bomb scare false alarm | News | DW.DE | 05.09.2012

Police have declared a bomb scare in Brussels a false alarm. Employees from the US embassy and other buildings had been evacuated in the afternoon as a precaution after police found a suspicious vehicle parked nearby.

Employees from the US embassy and nearby ministry buildings in Brussels were allowed to return to their workplace late Wednesday afternoon. A bomb squad had determined that a reportedly suspicious looking vehicle parked nearby didn't contain a bomb, according to a ministry spokesperson.

"In the end they found nothing unusual, but given the numerous visible wires and the fact that the car was very close to the U.S. embassy and several Belgian ministries, we didn't want to take any risks," ministry spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere told reporters.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Former Porsche finance head denies graft charges in court | Business | DW.DE | 05.09.2012

Holger Härter, the financial brains behind Porsche's bold but ill-fated attempt to buy Volkswagen, has appeared in a Stuttgart court charged with fraud. He denied misleading lenders about Porsche's financial liabilities.

The former financial chairman of Porsche, Holger Härter, said outside the Stuttgart courtoom on Wednesday that the charges left him "stunned," and that "it's not in my nature to go behind business partners' backs."

Härter, along with two high-ranking colleagues at the time, is accused of misleading banks as Porsche sought to buy out the far larger Volkswagen carmaker over several years, a process that ultimately fell flat in the summer of 2009.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:14:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Circumcision declared legal in first of 16 German states - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

Infant male circumcision was declared legal Wednesday in one of Germany's 16 states, following weeks of controversy about whether the Jewish and Muslim ritual is a crime or not.

The city-state of Berlin became the first to rule on the issue, saying its prosecutors had been instructed not to charge doctors if the boy's parents had consented in writing and proved they were religiously motivated.

The legal row erupted after a ruling in June by a court in Cologne, which found that a doctor had inflicted unlawful bodily harm by circumcising a 4-year-old boy at his parents' request.

Although the Cologne ruling was only binding in a small region, doctors across the country halted the operation for fear of prosecution. The federal government then said it would introduce a law to ensure circumcision remains legal.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My religion is better than yours.
by asdf on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:20:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No religionist believes the opposite

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:40:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Astonishing how many legal basics a journalist can get wrong in such a short article.

The senate (=government) of Berlin didn't declare anything legal. How the executive could and should do that is something Haaretz doesn't explain. The senate instructed Berlin's prosecutors not to prosecute these cases of circumcision, which means no matter if legal or not, there is no risk to convicted of a crime.

It is nonsense to claim the Cologne ruling was only binding in a small region. Some Anglo-Saxon notion of rulings setting law is lurking there. The ruling is binding for exactly one case. It has an effect on all of Germany, because a court has found that religiously motivated circumcision can be unlawful bodily harm as described in the law that is valid for all of Germany, not just a small region. So even if other courts would come to a different decision, no doctor can be sure not to be prosecuted. Except in Berlin.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:03:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Buying a "be"
there is no risk to be convicted of a crime.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
The ruling is binding for exactly one case.

In which the child suffered hemorrhages, I think it's important to add. It was surprising (well, up to a point) how this was turned into "now German law says any circumcision = grievous bodily harm".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:47:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the ruling says that the hemorrhages were caused by an operation that constitutes grievous bodily harm if it is done for religious, not medical, reasons. It's still only the interpretation of one court of law (and not a very high one, merely Landgericht). Unfortunately there can't be an appeal, so ultimately the legislator will have to clarify.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a traumatic attack on the genitals with no obvious health benefits and a non-trivial risk of complications certainly does count as grievous bodily harm. Or at least physical abuse.

I doubt many men would be happy to allow a stranger to circumcise them at random without their permission.

So the idea that a religion has the right to abuse children like this just because it always has is disturbing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:52:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree, but it's a different question. I was commenting on the alacrity with which media and civil/religious society made an isolated judgement into a supposedly binding general rule.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:15:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, loaded language.

I think a traumatic attack on the genitals with no obvious health benefits and a non-trivial risk of complications certainly does count as grievous bodily harm. Or at least physical abuse

Piercing earlobes has a higher statistical risk of complications than circumcision. Should that be banned too although there is no nexus to religion? There is an obvious health benefit in removing a bit of skin that males can't be trusted to pull back when washing, by the way.

I doubt many men would be happy to allow a stranger to circumcise them at random without their permission

So it is okay if it is done by a person the boy knows well? The court didn't think of that one. The permission for a circumcision (why "at random", btw.?) was given by the boy's parents. They are entitled to permit piercing his earlobes or "correcting" protruding ears, too. The question if one of these three operations counts as grievous bodily harm is a legal one, not a factual one, and it is by no means certain as you claim. It is controversial.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:21:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
They are entitled to permit piercing his earlobes or "correcting" protruding ears, too.

The first is reversible, and the second is generally performed when the child is old enough to understand the reasons for the procedure and articulate a choice.

To my mind the ethical problem of circumcision is that a medically unnecessary, irreversible procedure is performed on an infant, incapable of articulating any kind of preference.

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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, it is doubtful that circumcision performed on a foreskin that is non-retractile because of young age as opposed to phimosis is actually beneficial. This
There is an obvious health benefit in removing a bit of skin that males can't be trusted to pull back when washing, by the way.
is actually dangerous nonsense. From Wikipedia on phimosis:
At birth, the inner layer of the foreskin is sealed to the glans penis. This attachment forms "early in fetal development and provide[s] a protective cocoon for the delicate developing glans." The foreskin is usually non-retractable in infancy and early childhood.

During the 20th century, studies were released which furthered understanding of the normal development of the foreskin. For example, "The fate of the foreskin, a study of circumcision", "Further fate of the foreskin, Incidence of preputial adhesions, phimosis, and smegma among Danish schoolboys", and "Analysis of shape and retractability of the prepuce in 603 Japanese boys".

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society state that no attempt should be made to retract the foreskin of an infant. Age is reportedly a factor in non-retractability: according to Huntley et al. the foreskin is reportedly retractable in approximately 50% of cases at 1 year of age, 90% by 3 years of age, and 99% by age 17. These authors argue that, unless scarring or other abnormality is present, non-retractibility may "be considered normal for males up to and including adolescence." Hill states that full retractability of the foreskin may not be achieved until late childhood or early adulthood. A Danish survey found that the mean age of first foreskin retraction is 10.4 years.

Some pediatric urologists have argued that many physicians continue to have trouble distinguishing developmental non-retractility from pathological phimosis.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To my mind the ethical problem of circumcision is that a medically unnecessary, irreversible procedure is performed on an infant, incapable of articulating any kind of preference

The Cologne case was about a four year old. Many Muslim boys are only circumcised when 6 to 8, that is the same age when ears are corrected. By your argument that should be okay then, because in the case of the ears you find it is old enough to articulate a choice, right? Which age do you say is okay? (Warning. This is intended as a trap.)

I have no problem with your calling this an ethical problem. It surely is one, but it won't be solved by applying criminal law. The ruling (and TBG) called it certainly grievous bodily harm, though.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 10:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
that is the same age when ears are corrected. By your argument that should be okay then, because in the case of the ears you find it is old enough to articulate a choice

Oddly enough, I was offered that choice as a child (I came in for a lot of teasing on account of my ears). But is was offered to me as a choice: I ended up declining, and that was the end of it. There was never any insinuation that I was putting myself beyond the pale by foregoing the procedure.

Which is why I would say that a 6- or 8yo is to young to meaningfully consent to a circumcision: that's just way too much pressure to put on a kid.

Katrin:

It surely is one, but it won't be solved by applying criminal law.

Um. Since criminal law is (supposed to be) a codification of an ethical consensus, it's probably as good a place to start the discussion as any.

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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 11:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, why is a child of a given age old enough to consent or decline correcting the ears, but not to consent or decline circumcision?

Um. Since criminal law is (supposed to be) a codification of an ethical consensus, it's probably as good a place to start the discussion as any.

It is meant to be a codification of an ethical consensus that is already achieved. Definitely not the place to start a discussion to reach such a consensus.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:05:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the societal pressure on a religiously motivated circumcision would be too strong to bear, much stronger than the presure on a cosmetic ear operation.

I doubt a medical circumcision would be attempted before puberty in any case.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:14:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a certain societal pressure to conform with religious rites and norms if one wants to be a member, yes. I just don't find that wrong. You don't see religious identity as an advantage, but can't you accept that people disagree with you and accept the diversity?

Medical circumcisions happen very often in a very young age btw.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 01:31:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But a circumcision is a mutilation and presuming a young child can make an informed decision is a bit much. Then again, I see your religious identity and pressure to conform argument for circumcision and raise you a female genital mutilation again.

Meical circumcisions at a young age probably happen more often than they need to and are religiously motivated. Apparently doctors find it hard to distinguish between age-related and pathological non-retractability. But I'm not a urologist, so I cannot say for sure.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:03:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't presume a child can make an informed decision. Dvx raised the point. I find a child can decide as well in the case of circumcision as in the case of the ears correction: not much. Enough to accept that there is pain from the operation and endure it.  

I find "mutilation" too strong a word for a circumcision. It has been done for a few thousand years, and if the consequences were so terrible, we would have heard about it. And that's the difference to FGM: here it is well documented that it is a cruel mutilation.  

As to medical circumcision: several children I know had a phimosis that led to infections when they were still small and that had to be operated young, but not necessarily by a circumcision. The alternative is much more fuss and pain, though, and it is often without success. Ridiculous. Off with the foreskin. The children weren't grateful if the parents had chosen the more conservative treatment.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:23:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's noteworthy that the religions with the most enthusiasm for circumcision seem to have a predictable enthusiasm for various violent and tribal religious manias.

Correlation may not be causation, but I find that fact interesting.

As for the rest - you're attempting to conflate circumcision as a valid but unusual medical procedure with circumcision as a pointless religious ritual.

I have no issue with the former. If circumcision is going to solve a medical problem, it makes perfect sense to use it for that reason?

But what exactly does the religious ritual achieve, apart from unnecessary pain?

You seem perfectly fine with the infliction of unnecessary pain on children in this context - which I find very strange indeed. (Not to mention offensive. But we know how much that matters.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:47:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's noteworthy that the religions with the most enthusiasm for circumcision seem to have a predictable enthusiasm for various violent and tribal religious manias

What an extraordinary statement! It would be noteworthy if it was true. Care to back that up?

As for the rest - you're attempting to conflate circumcision as a valid but unusual medical procedure with circumcision as a pointless religious ritual

Am I? Where do I conflate the two? And: how do you--who give the impression of not adhering to any faith--decide if a religious ritual is pointless or not?

But what exactly does the religious ritual achieve, apart from unnecessary pain?

An identity

You seem perfectly fine with the infliction of unnecessary pain on children in this context - which I find very strange indeed. (Not to mention offensive. But we know how much that matters.)

You do have a special relationship with offensiveness.

So no answers to my questions then.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:14:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
how do you--who give the impression of not adhering to any faith--decide if a religious ritual is pointless or not?

If it causes unnecessary pain to kids it's both pointless and offensive.

Or do you really believe religions are entitled to do anything they want to kids for religious reasons?

If so, the Catholic church in Ireland would surely agree with you.

How on earth does religion give anyone the right to inflict non-consensual suffering on children?

Even the BDSM people agree pain - especially sexual pain - should be consensual. And only the very craziest types would consider inflicting it on kids.

But apparently you're just fine with it. Because if it's religious pain it's good for you, or morally justified, or something.

Do you have any idea how completely outside civilised discourse that point of view is?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
katrin, please tell us you're playing devil's avocado.

i can't track you any more...

i don't care what fucking mullah or rabbi doesn't agree, or how many centuries this barbarity has gone on, chopping bits off kids for what may have made sense in a desert environment with little water and little medicine thousands of years ago, it's insane and disgusting, and a prime example of everything that's batshit crazy about religion and gives god a bad name.

no freaking wonder there are so many atheists!


'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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:48:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. It's more than that. Although with TBG's arrogance it is tempting to do anything but agree with him, there is more to it. By the way, if someone starts hyperventilating because of my views, I expect they have read my posts. I said circumcision of children was an ethical problem. If TBG translates that into I was fine with inflicting pain on babies, well, I guess that's two ethical problems. Or sloppy reading on his part, I don't know. It is not a black and white issue. There are plenty of shades of grey. Only if someone very rabidly rejects all things religious can they ignore these shades of grey.

With advocates like that, no freaking wonder there are so few atheists!

Are you sure that chopping that little bit of skin off a kid is so much more of a traumatic event than other events that bring pain? Are you sure that the trauma of it outweighs the positive side: the feeling of belonging that the child can develop because of the rite, and the indirect effect, that the child senses the importance the parents attach to the rite?

Let's say that TBG (and on the last thread Jake) are a bit too much convinced of the beauty of their a-religion, and I dislike missionaries. I really do. A pity, because if they only learned to shut up on religion, they really had important things to say, and definitely better than I could say them.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - I'd suggest the way both you and vbo have argued your case has hardly been likely to convince anyone who was open-minded. Especially since you've now resorted to weak old ad hominems to try and misdirect readers away from the point.

In fact I was brought up a Catholic and it took me at least three quarters of my life to get over the damage that did.

I've seen paedophilia, inappropriateness and religiously-justified physical abuse first hand.

Luckily I'm not a victim - or at least, not in any more than a very mild sense - but this isn't some hypothetical issue for me. I regard Catholicism as dysfunctional, damaging and dangerous. And I've had enough experience of other religions to have seen far more bad than good come from them through distorted ethics and obvious psychological damage.

And... I was almost recruited by Opus Dei. Luckily I had enough wit not to be. But I know, or at least used to know, people who used to flog themselves daily because of some whacked out belief that this was somehow a good thing.

So when someone tells me I'm arrogant about the subject, while claiming that they know all about the shining benefits of religion and if only I got what they meant I'd give up my unfortunate ignorance and agree with them, they're simply providing an all-too familiar example of the self-absorbed condescension of religious special pleading.

Now I simply find the whole business quite tragic and insane.

As for circumcision - well, it's nice that at least we agree about that. But you're also arguing that parents should be given parental priority over the wishes of the child. So is there a line there, or not? Do you really think religiously indoctrinated parents know where to draw it - especially given that you seem to think circumcision has been going on for millennia with no ill effects, so it's not that big a deal?

I think it's not just ignorant, it's supremely barbaric to assume that children will want to follow the same religion as their parents.  

You pretend to be a social pacifist when it suits you, but the empirical reality is that diverging beliefs cause immense stress to individuals and families - and yet you justify this to yourself as if it's self-evidently true that children can't possibly have a different opinion, and indoctrination without permission is actually doing them a favour.

You don't appear to have any interest in what happens to real people in real families.

Fortunately my parents were never particularly devout. But there were horror stories from people whose parents were - just as there are within any religious community.

Some people I know are still dealing with the fall-out today, decades later.

Presumably this doesn't bother you in the slightest.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:34:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you've now resorted to weak old ad hominems to try and misdirect readers away from the point

??? Can you point out what you perceive as ad hom?

But you're also arguing that parents should be given parental priority over the wishes of the child.

Am I? Where?

Do you really think religiously indoctrinated parents know where to draw it -

Do you by any chance mean that everybody who values a religion is "religiously indoctrinated"? Is the ability to think invariably linked to atheism for you?

You pretend to be a social pacifist when it suits you

I am not pretending anything.

You don't appear to have any interest in what happens to real people in real families.

What do you say I am, or my family is?

Some people I know are still dealing with the fall-out today, decades later.
Presumably this doesn't bother you in the slightest

It would be better if you presumed less, and asked more, if you really want to know. Do you see your experience as the dead norm of religiousness, and am I obliged to see it in the same way, even if it is the contrary of my own experience?

by Katrin on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:20:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Do you really think religiously indoctrinated parents know where to draw it -

Do you by any chance mean that everybody who values a religion is "religiously indoctrinated"? Is the ability to think invariably linked to atheism for you?

bit of a wiggle there!

religious people are usually happy to be thought of as indoctrinated, that's the point.

....even when they're insane.

reading between the lines, you seem to be trying to protect religious people from waking up to the possibility that their religion may not be the only _ way to be worshipful, respectful or reverent.

because we don't want to alienate them or risk having them find a more comfortable niche with the right, such as we see in the US megachurches, and in the cozy historic alliances between church and fascism here in europe.

i agree with this, but i can't agree to accord that kind of respect to a belief system that insists on infant mutilation, that's way beyond inculcation, it's _imposition of the ugliest kind.

one can go too far with either line of logic, enabling praticants from fear they may desert leftist causes due to apparent irreverence from the atheist quotient, or pouring scorn on matters one doesn't understand from the outside.

both unproductive...

it's a topsy turvy world i know, but when you need a church that protects children from the knife at a preverbal age, and instead we have the present situation, it takes it to a whole other level of wrongheadedness.

out of interest, do polytheistic religions/philosophies like hinduism, taoism and buddhism slice off human tissue as proof of faith, or is that charming attribute reserved just for the abramic elite? never heard of it...

'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 Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 03:55:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
??? Can you point out what you perceive as ad hom?

what do you think calling someone arrogant is?

'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 Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 03:58:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you in the habit of answering for other people when they are asked what they are talking about? If so, you could explain why it's fine for him to put words into my mouth. Or if you don't think it's fine, why that mustn't be called arrogant.

religious people are usually happy to be thought of as indoctrinated, that's the point

Never met anyone who was happy to be thought that. If the religious people of your acquaintance are like that, that explains a bit, though.

reading between the lines, ...

bullshit. Your reading between the lines has nothing to do with anything I said, not even remotely.

by Katrin on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 04:30:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Never met anyone who was happy to be thought that.

then why are they so keen to indoctrinate others, starting with their hapless progeny?

Katrin:

Are you in the habit of answering for other people when they are asked what they are talking about?

yup, lots do here, it's the nature of the blog/beast. we are discussing issues here, not personalities anyway. much more interesting discussions that way, otherwise we'd just message each other individually.the difference between rude and deliberately provocative is a fine one sometimes, especially on da tubz.

'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 Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 04:12:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Hapless progeny". I see. And religion is indoctrination, while atheism is enlightenment, eh? And calling that arrogant would be an ad hom. That effectively sews up this thread then.  
by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 07:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And religion is indoctrination, while atheism is enlightenment, eh?

Show me a world full of enlightened religious people.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 08:26:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You wouldn't see what I show you. You have consistently told me what I think instead of read what I say. You can't be shown.
by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 09:04:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't shown anything. Repeating a self-justifying faith-based position over and over, and ignoring every comment, point, analysis, experience and fact from everyone here who disagrees with you does not count as showing.

It's nice that god worked out well for you. I know a lot of people for whom a faith didn't work out at all, and not a few who were terribly damaged by a religious upbringing.

What makes you right and them wrong - beyond selective attention and plain old denial of anyone else's experience and values when they differ from your own?

Let's not forget that religious cultures have a reliable history of violence and abuse spanning millennia, while cultures based on enlightenment values - especially secular social democracies - seem to be rather nicer to live in.

Obviously you can't show that religion reliably makes either cultures or individuals morally enlightened because there is no evidence that it does any such thing, or ever has done.

So - instead of trying to deal with that reality, you imply another personal attack and hope the question disappears without facing it with any honesty.

If you had an open mind instead of one that's welded shut you could find real research on the topic.

But I don't see any evidence that you do. So - whatever.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 12:37:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes you right and them wrong

I never said I was right and they were wrong. Your links don't help: I wasn't talking about superior or inferior morality either. I have never attempted to show that religion reliably makes either cultures or individuals morally enlightened.

Your attempts to put things into my mouth are astonishing. Why you believe you can accuse me of offensive behaviour is a mystery.

What I reject are feelings of superiority of non-believers (and of believers too), and attempts to abolish freedom of religion, including the right of parents to decide on the religious education of their children. This right includes rituals of establishing religious identity, even circumcision. I am well aware that there is an ethical dilemma with circumcision, but this won't be solved by criminalising it. If the consensus about it is to shift, this can only happen with the consent of the two religious groups that practise it.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 01:23:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I reject are feelings of superiority of non-believers (and of believers too), and attempts to abolish freedom of religion, including the right of parents to decide on the religious education of their children.

Should Waldorf schools get to opt out of vaccination mandates?

(For the record, the only sane answer to that question is "hell, no.")

I am well aware that there is an ethical dilemma with circumcision, but this won't be solved by criminalising it. If the consensus about it is to shift, this can only happen with the consent of the two religious groups that practise it.

That is quite clearly not true, unless you deny that there is a consensus on the subject of female genital mutilation, or the merits of vaccinating your children.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 02:01:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should Waldorf schools get to opt out of vaccination mandates?

We don't have any vaccination mandates here, and if someone wanted to change that: hell, no. But they won't.

That is quite clearly not true, unless you deny that there is a consensus on the subject of female genital mutilation, or the merits of vaccinating your children

Oh yes, this is true, at least in Germany. Do you really believe we of all countries want to ban Jews from exercising their rites? Even if it was only Muslims who practise it, a ban wouldn't get past the Constitutional Court.  

FGM is a much graver operation, it is a mutiliation. There is no religion that practises FGM, either. It has nothing to do with religion, only with plain oppression of women.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 02:36:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still not clear on why the parents' right to practice their rites trumps the child's right to informed consent before undergoing medical procedures.

I'm quite partial to the right to informed consent, particularly with respect to purely cosmetic operations.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 02:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still not clear on why the parents' right to practice their rites trumps the child's right to informed consent before undergoing medical procedures

I didn't ask my children if they wanted any vaccinations. I gave informed consent on them for the children. Parents' rights.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 03:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Children can't give consent, and certainly not informed consent. That is the legal assumption, as far as I understand all over the west.

(the situation with teenagers is much more complicated)

In all cases there you need consent this is solved by the legal assumption that parents can consent for their children.

That is the rule, again in all western countries.

The exceptions to this rule, that parents are supposed to speak for their children are outright bans or at least supervision/permits by the state.

This state intervention has increased in the last 50 or hundred years with the rise of the welfare-state and a different view of children rights.  

But basically parents can still do astonishing things with their children. Like sell them into the legal slavery known as professional sport or acting.

In the context of german penal law, to get finally to my point, the question is if circumcision constitutes bodily harm. The usual answer is that it does, but that it can be justified by consent. And the consent of the parents is supposed to substitute the consent of the child.

In the last 140 years, circumcision was supposed to be a case of justified bodily harm because of the parental consent.

Now the court in cologne decided that this isn't so except in cases of medical necessity.

As some readers have perhaps noticed, I haven't uttered the word religion yet. That is because the circumcision here mostly have a religious background and most of the discussion now in Germany circles around religion (and german-jewish history) I don't think religion is the point here.

The core of the issue is he clash between the right of parents to do what they want with their children and the right of society to limit this right.

So far male circumcision was always within parental rights. The matter is complicated here that the voice of society is here not a special law but a new interpretation of a general law by an inferior court.

The relevant laws:  

Section 223
Causing bodily harm

(1) Whosoever physically assaults or damages the health of another person, shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine.

(2) The attempt shall be punishable.

and

Section 228
Consent

Whosoever causes bodily harm with the consent of the victim shall be deemed to act lawfully unless the act violates public policy, the consent notwithstanding.

by IM on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 04:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The core of the issue is he clash between the right of parents to do what they want with their children and the right of society to limit this right.

It is completely uncontroversial that the right of parents' to decide on matters of their children is restricted. This is not the issue.

The issue is clashing rights: the right not to suffer bodily harm and the right to exercise a religion and to raise children in this religion. Here
is an interesting article (in German).

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 05:17:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"It is completely uncontroversial that the right of parents' to decide on matters of their children is restricted. This is not the issue."

Of course that is the issue. And the question is where to draw the line.

by IM on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 05:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where to draw the line, yes. That is the issue. The principle of limiting parents' rights is not controversial.

About time that the Bundestag makes a law clarifying that circumcision is not menat by criminal bodily harm, isn't it? What majority will that get? At least 95%, I guess.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 05:44:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't ask my children if they wanted any vaccinations. I gave informed consent on them for the children. Parents' rights.

If you can't tell the difference between medically indicated, life-saving interventions and cosmetic surgery (which is what circumcision boils down to when you strip off all the superstitious mumbo-jumbo and identity politics), then you really have no business giving informed consent on behalf of anybody.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 05:23:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
which is what circumcision boils down to when you strip off all the superstitious mumbo-jumbo and identity politics

Yes, but I don't strip off all the superstitious mumbo-jumbo and identity politics! I value them. And that makes it more important than a cosmetic affair.

It's the core of the disagreement: you think that religion has no importance (which you are free to), and you want to make your opinion the universal norm (which you are most emphatically not free to). This is forced conversion.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 05:33:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the core of this conversation is that you want to allow identity politics to trump medical ethics.

Identity politics is all well and fine when it is confined to harmless eccentricities. But when you start exploiting it to engage in destructive medical or economic quackery - or in grinding away at the ethical basis for smacking down such quackery publicly and harshly - then you are causing potentially irreparable harm to hard-fought, hard-won advances in ethics and social organization. In order to further a project which is, in the final analysis, totally interchangeable with any other set of identity politics - including several which have no such toxic corrosive effect on economic and medical ethics.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 01:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My, you are going into repetions, aren't you? Nobody talks of girls having their ear lobes pierced (which isn't always reversible) because of Identity Politics and a traditional view of gender roles. It's girls, and it's not religion. In the case of circumcision suddenly there is a riot about ethics. It is done to about one quarter of the world's males, who obviously must be told by a few antireligionists that they have a problem, they didn't know that. And now let's talk about why nobody takes the left seriously. Any ideas, Jake?  
by Katrin on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 04:06:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, when people want to let identity politics trump medical ethics and reality-based economics, then I tend to repeat that that's a moronic idea. So sue me.

In other news, appeal to popularity sucks as an argument. Apartheid used to be condoned by about a quarter of the world's population. A solid majority of Europeans used to condone antisemitism.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 04:37:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Medical ethics? The WHO recommends circumcision. Their recommendation is disputed, but don't believe medical ethics is on your side. There are medical reasons in favour of circumcision. The reasons cited to ban it are anti-religionist.
by Katrin on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 05:05:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, the WHO recommends circumcision for HIV prevention in conditions of underdevelopment. More or less the conditions where the Western cultural practice originated.
There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%.
I wonder if one could use a condom for the purpose, too.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 05:24:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Medical ethics? The WHO recommends circumcision.

The WHO recommends circumcision in parts of the world where condoms and STD screening are expensive, not readily available or uptake is poor.

It is not medically indicated in Europe, nevermind standard of care.

And yes, elective surgery on children is unethical.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 07:33:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Should Waldorf schools get to opt out of vaccination mandates?

Vaccines are not mandatory in Sweden (just free and the default option), and children from antrophosofical families are in general not vaccinated. It has not been considered a threath to national health, nor really to the childrens wellbeing considering almost everyone around them are vaccinated.

JakeS:

That is quite clearly not true, unless you deny that there is a consensus on the subject of female genital mutilation

But that consensus - according to an antropolgical study I read years ago - includes most of the persons who reside in the west (or at least Malmö) and hails from communities that practise it. For Somali parents in Malmö there was a lot of reasons against female genital mutilation and the only reason for was group pressure. A bit into the study it was also revealed that the source of the group pressure was that parents thought other parents were doing it based on articles in the evening papers.

If circumcision is criminalised without decent support in the populations practising it I predict it will continue illegally. It will of course be more risk for the children.

Since we have established that this debate has come from the US, is criminalisation discussed over there? Or is it just not making it the default option anymore?

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

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 03:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have certainly been criminal investigations in NYC over a specific form of circumcision that has resulted in herpes infections.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 03:41:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never attempted to show that religion reliably makes either cultures or individuals morally enlightened.

Er - so why bother defending something if there are social perils and no obvious social benefits?

the right of parents to decide on the religious education of their children.

See above.

We accept, more or less, that parents have a right to influence, say, career choices - although in Western countries this is often seen as boorish and rather uncivilised behaviour, and enlightened parents would be more likely to try and find talent and enthusiasm and work from there.

But it makes no sense to me to forcibly sign up a child to something which has the potential to have a huge - not necessarily benign - influence on identity, and which it is fundamentally unable to comprehend.

Exposing children to a diversity of religions and giving them the choice to join one, or not, would be more ethical and less authoritarian.

As for atheists being believers - I don't believe in Abrahamic gods for the same reason I don't believe that my house is about to be flooded with drunken owls in tutus.

The concept of divinity obviously exists as a psychological and evolutionary process - probably as some unfortunate collision between the human tendency to melt down in stressy situations, abstraction, and the herd instinct.

But the specifics are plastic, contingent, subjective, often self-serving, and almost infinitely inconsistent and variable in form and content.

If that floats your boat, fine. To me it just looks like shaped memetic noise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 04:16:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Er - so why bother defending something if there are social perils and no obvious social benefits?

That's an interesting thought. So religion can have no obvious social benefits if it's not about enhancing moral enlightenment? Really?  

But it makes no sense to me to forcibly sign up a child to something which has the potential to have a huge - not necessarily benign - influence on identity, and which it is fundamentally unable to comprehend.

Why do you think it must be forcibly? Your own experience clearly has been traumatic, but you must be aware that it is too simple to blame religion instead of a certain pattern of authorities from parents to church and other institutions. A similar traumatisation is possible without religion.

Your idea--that parents who attach value to religious identity can somehow be forced not to pass on this identity to their children--seems very strange. Force lurking everywhere.  

I don't believe in Abrahamic gods for the same reason I don't believe that my house is about to be flooded with drunken owls in tutus

Watch out :)

If that floats your boat, fine. To me it just looks like shaped memetic noise.

Fine by me.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 04:59:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point of The Enlightenment was to get away from superstition and dogma and faith, and move towards an understanding of the universe based on empirical evidence and logical analysis. Unfortunately, many or most people are not interested in that approach, and prefer to be pals with pretend friends and to structure their world view on prejudice and tradition.

In my view, this widespread lack of interest in rational understanding is leading to the collapse of the Enlightenment experiment, with reversion to a dark age the inevitable result.

The only open question is this: if the classical Greek period was the first age, and the medieval dark ages the middle age, and the Enlightenment the third age, then what will we call the new dark age? Perhaps the Fourth Age? The Quadrennial Age?

by asdf on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 10:58:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes you think that I suffer from lack of interest in rational understanding? Religion isn't about the things you can prove or disprove. It is about the things that can't be rationally approached and must be believed or dis-believed.

If you believe that the classical Greek period was the first age, you must have missed a lot that happened earlier. I don't think that humanity is heading towards a new dark age. We will either live in a civilisation with a high degree of cooperation or else we will make room for another species that is less disastrous for the planet.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 12:32:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
And religion is indoctrination, while atheism is enlightenment, eh?

why linger in such dualities?

there are many forms of enlightenment, some have the 'god' hashtag, some don't. all are questionable, naturally!
atheists can be just as unbearably partisan as believers, maybe energy lives and moves in contrasts rather than certainties, the ocean rather than the islands.

indoctrination is a red flag for bad religion, experience shows good religion teaches only by example, inspiration stands without need for heavy handed exhortation or repetitive, judgment-numbing tropes. real religion encourages critical thinking and has to redeem the effects of bad religion which have created so many atheists.

not that god cares much either way really... eternity encourages patience, and we have to get to heaven (state of heart) free will intact, not loaded with contradictory antique baggage weighing us down and tying us to wizened, obsolete paradigms.

atheists can be excellent teachers! i bless them heartily and welcome their contributions, as often they see details those too drunk on faith can miss.

life would be so dull if we all agreed on everything...

'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 Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 10:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
atheists can be just as unbearably partisan as believers

Atheists are believers. They believe there is no God, and they are free to do so. They can't prove it and they needn't. And if they feel very superior, they must accept that others don't share that view. They are not necessarily progressives, just as religious people aren't necessarily reactionaries.  And when they fail to show as much respect to religious people as they want to be shown, they are a real liability.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 12:31:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Atheists are believers. They believe there is no God, and they are free to do so.

Depends on definition.

I am going to leave it at that and note that if you ask a forum of mainly atheist and/or agnostics to define atheist and/or agnostic you get the same effect as if you ask pointed questions about the nature of god in a forum of believers of different stripes. The central points of what you believe are, well, central, and few will agree to definition unless they write it themselves.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 03:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the last thread I wasn't talking about religion. I was talking about criminal law, and about whether narrow special interest groups should get to impose their idiosyncrasies on criminal law. The narrow special interest groups in question happened to be religious extremists. But the entire chain of reasoning holds equally well when applied to McDonald's or McDonnell-Douglass.

I answered that question in the negative, on the grounds that it lacks any identifiable public purpose, violates the principle of equal protection and that no clear, simple, straightforward and universally applicable standards for determining which actions are criminal and which are not have been forthcoming from its advocates.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:50:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
the positive side: the feeling of belonging that the child can develop

I was brought up in a strongly-defined religious group, and I can witness to the fact that not every child gets anything positive out of the feeling of belonging -- there is also such a thing as the feeling of not belonging, of being suffocated by the invisible tendrils of group identity while feeling conflicted by simultaneous loyalty to one's parents and family. It seems to me that this experience has been well documented, in book, film, and other media, by a certain number of, precisely, the circumcised, to the point of becoming widely known as a Jewish complex. Or complaint, thinking of Portnoy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 02:28:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that feeling of 'belonging' is what all cults use to ensnare devotees, it's spawn of groupthink, and is not that different than the (illusory) sense of bonding offered by white supremacists or naziskins.

stamping, branding a child with the parents' religion is abhorrent, and betrays the weakness of a religion that has to stoop so low to ensure the child feels owned by some belief system, long before it has developed the discrimination of maturity.

FGM is similarly motivated by desire of the old to quench desire in young people, ie totally fear-based.

god forbid people actually enjoy sex! it makes them much harder to indoctrinate with fairy tales the requisite myths of the credo.


'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 Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 04:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Horrible experience. And great diary. My own experience with religion is completely different, and I don't think it strange that being content with religiousness is less well documented: it is normally not very remarkable. I have grown up in a not very religious family, but in surroundings where religion was always there, in the background. It would have been very difficult to avoid, but I never found that negative. My God has reliably turned up with help when I needed help really badly and refrained from intruding when he wasn't needed. Apparently I managed to pass this on to my children, for when my son had the accident that very nearly killed him, he found that there was immense help and that he could accept it (although he was in an age where he was mega-cool, and said he had only chosen confirmation because of the presents).

To remind you of the beginning of this discussion: I object to a narrative that makes the negative experience with religion the norm, and that sells certainties in a way that I can only call, er, religious.

by Katrin on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
My God has reliably turned up with help when I needed help really badly and refrained from intruding when he wasn't needed.

beautifully, powerfully put.

exactly my experience too, and of many i know. kudos also for the 'not very remarkable', as well as many other very interesting, intelligent posts you have made since joining ET. though i may disagree even violently with some of your positions, i respect many of them too, and they way you express them.

i am so grateful your son found solace at such a testing time, and thanks for modelling for him how to 'accept' the Gift. that sure must have been traumatic for the whole family, but would have been unimaginably hard without it.

'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 Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 10:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, Melo.
by Katrin on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 12:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Wait, why is a child of a given age old enough to consent or decline correcting the ears, but not to consent or decline circumcision?

In my case the ear correction was proposed as a way to minimize the teasing. It was a question of my immediate well-being in which I had a solid grasp of the problem.

More importantly, I was not "expected" to make a particular choice. Definitely not the case of an 8yo facing circumcision. (That's also why I also have problems with baptism - individuals are inducted into a belief structure before they're capable of understanding what they're signing up for. That decision should be left until adulthood.)

Katrin:

Definitely not the place to start a discussion to reach such a consensus.

Not sure how you can avoid it. The process of seeking a new consensus frequently clashes with the old one codified in criminal law (LGBT issues, forever).

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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you want to scrap the right of parents to decide on their children's religious education. You don't accept establishing a religious identity as being in the best interest of the child (the well-being argument). You are very far away from any existing consensus there, I think. Fortunately. Even people who wouldn't raise their children in a religion would in their majority reject your idea of taking this right away from parents.

Not sure how you can avoid it. The process of seeking a new consensus frequently clashes with the old one codified in criminal law (LGBT issues, forever

Well, in the same way, probably: first the consensus was altered and then the codified law. Not the other way round. Because, you know, there is a high probability that the consensus on religious education won't shift.

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 01:26:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have nothing against education. Let the shamans have their say, and let the child hear other views. She can choose when she's grown up.

There's no need to force that choice on a defenseless child.

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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 01:51:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what about the rites that establish religious identity, like baptism or circumcision? Religious education only in the sense that a child cannot be more than a remote bystander, or full participation in the religion's rites?
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:07:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In what religion is a child a full participant in the rites (for the respective values of "child", naturally)?

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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:09:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Baptised children do not participate in the rites until they have taken their first communion. Infant baptism is there to resolve the theological issue of whether children who die before their first communion and confession are condemned for the original sin despite being innocent.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:21:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the schism again. Lutheran children can take part even before confirmation. Both Catholic and protestant children can feel as members of the church when they are baptised, though. It makes a huge difference to being only a bystander.  
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:29:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but like I said, baptism isn't drowning, it's symbolic (though in the case of infants it isn't done by immersion as that would lead to drowning). Circumcision is not symbolic. But whatever. Apparently you claim the right to tell all men regardless of their religion how they should feel about their foreskin...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:32:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is completely uncontroversial that men can decide on their own about their foreskins. It was boys where there is a controversy.

The funny thing is: when my nephew had a phimosis which could have been treated by an operation and then months of carefully pulling back the foreskin (which hurts) and in case of that being unsuccessful another op... My sister decided to have him circumcised. All women friends of hers found that awful, while the men were relaxed.  

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That happened to me at age three. You may be right that the alternative (if it was offered to my parents) would have been more painful, but my memories are in any case of a great deal of pain before and after. And incomprehension.

Perhaps the "men were relaxed" because they hadn't had it done to them?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:56:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that is true for the women too. ;-)

You would have felt the pain and the incomprehension in any case. And I have seen the alternative too, in the family of friends. It's not the better option. I wonder if all sorts of treatment for a phimosis are more traumatic for children than other painful treatment, because adults have problems in talking about it?

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:22:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In every religion there is a difference between being part of the club or not, obviously, so I don't understand your question.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Baptism isn't drowning, circumcision is mutilation.

Baptism is symbolic, and though it cannot be undone the only effects that need to be undone are social, not physical. In any case, that's why there's confirmation in early adulthood. In that sense, infant baptism is just like burial, a rite to assuage the conscience of the rest of the community, not for the benefit of the recipient.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There isn't confirmation in every religion, but there is a way to integrate children into them.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But there is confirmation in Christian denominations.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:40:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you want to scrap the right of parents to decide on their children's religious education. You don't accept establishing a religious identity as being in the best interest of the child (the well-being argument).

The first does not follow from the second. Even if religious indoctrination is not in the best interest of the child (for which a case can certainly be made), the magnitude of the intrusion into childrearing required to actually enforce the child's right to be free of such indoctrination is excessive to the public purpose served. And neither follows from opposition to permitting medically unjustified surgical intervention in children below the age of consent.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I meant that in normal circumstances genital surgery without anaesthetic or permission would be considered an obvious vicious assault.

But we're back to religions being allowed to do insane things because they're religions, which makes them special.

Personally I'd include ear piercing in that too. I've never heard of anyone piercing a newborn's ears and can't imagine why anyone would want to.

Ear corrections are a different procedure and AFAIK done much later - presumably with full anaesthetic, and after discussion.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 10:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never heard of anyone piercing a newborn's ears and can't imagine why anyone would want to.

I don't know about that - in Spain it is relatively normal for newborn girls to have their ears pierced. Though apparently maternity wards tend to not do it any more and parents are forced to wait for some time.

You know, tertiary sexual characteristics are important.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 10:48:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In many cultures it is considered normal. Apparently ethical problems with female gender roles are less in the focus than, er, certainties related to religion and males.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 10:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't make it right.

Are you going to defend a religious/cultural allowance for female genital mutilation, too?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 10:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, that doesn't make it right. And no, there is nothing defensible in FGM.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 11:09:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then what is there that is defensible in male circumcision?
It's not just the instant pain, it also greatly decreases sexual sensitivity.

Surely less so than the female version, but if there's nothing defensible in it then a question of degree in the pain and sensitivity reduction should not make male circumcision acceptable.

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:03:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am weighing the positive against the negative--what else. I don't know if it is right to circumcise boys in order to give them the (doubtless positive) feeling of belonging. I don't know if the parents' belief in the rite outweighs the pain. I don't know if the loss in sensitivity outweighs the gain in hygiene.

Being supplied with atheist articles of faith doesn't help actually. And can you explain why apparently it wasn't much of a problem during the first few thousand years?

by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:25:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And can you explain why apparently it wasn't much of a problem during the first few thousand years?

This is a bullshit argument which is frequently trotted out in defense of all sorts of atavistic garbage.

It wasn't a problem for the first few thousand years, because for the first few thousand years people were busy scraping together enough food to not starve in the winter and dodging rampaging armed gangs of plundering "noble"men, when they weren't dying of infectious diseases which are trivially treatable or even vaccine-preventable today.

In other words, people used to have bigger fish to fry.

Then modern science, mass politics and technology came along, and fried those fish. So now they don't.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:15:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know if the loss in sensitivity outweighs the gain in hygiene.

But the former is the purpose of the rite.

From Maimonides, Guide to the perplexed

Similarly with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible.
Furthermore, concerning age of circumcision
The perfection and perpetuation of this Law can only be achieved if circumcision is performed in childhood. For this there are three wise reasons. The first is that if the child were let alone until he grew up, he would sometimes not perform it. The second is that a child does not suffer as much pain as a grown-up man because his membrane is still soft and his imagination weak; for a grown-up man would regard the thing, which he would imagine before it occurred, as terrible and hard. The third is that the parents of a child that is just born take lightly matters concerning it, for up to that time the imaginative form that compels the parents to love it is not yet consolidated.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 02:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
gk:
The third is that the parents of a child that is just born take lightly matters concerning it, for up to that time the imaginative form that compels the parents to love it is not yet consolidated.

what BS.

'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 Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 04:18:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More of a rationalisation of the fact that perhaps 30% of newborn children died in early infancy. People were a lot more fatalistic about that before modern times.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 04:47:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was an extremely widely-held Western view of the state of the nursling and infant until quite recently -- beginning to change in the 18th century, but only fully modified in the 20th.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:01:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what an atheist article of faith is, especially in the context of my post. As far as I am concerned, the parents are free to believe anything they want, and to do most things on themselves if they so please (there can be limits though as society would have to pay for their further medical expenditures, or if they were to inoculate themselves with a highly contagious disease it would harm others), but that gives them exactly zero right to determine what their child will believe. They can still babtise him as it really won't have a lasting impact, but anything permanent is off limits if done for religious reasons (of course, a life-saving operation is OK).

A health visitor here in the UK told me of a colleague who had to look at a child die because her Jeovah's Witness parents would not allow the blood transfusion that would have saved her. Well, it might be debatable whether they should be allowed to refuse it on themselves (and I'm probably inclined to think that they should not), but on their child, it's unacceptable.

Now, acceptance through thousands of years has no relevance. For example:
-Why was slavery not a problem for thousands of years? Persecution of the gays (ancient Greece notwithstanding)? Of women? Lapidation for adultery? State racism? Death penalty for blasphemy? I'll have to stop now or I'll be here all day.
-I was not around a couple of thousand years ago. Had I been, there is every chance I would have made the same argument, although I would have lacked an online tribune to spread it very far.
-Ensuring sexual frustrations to get a nice pool of pent-up energy to rely upon has long been the policy of many religions. Now, standing up against the diktats of the priests would for most of those millenias (and for much of the world even today) have required more of a spine that the average person is supplied with. And the half-life of those who were so supplied was considerably shorter.
-Religion told you that if you did not do that you would end up in limbo. That sounded even worse than the alternative -and remember that people were quite ready to throw their kids to Moloch if they felt that the crop might fail or something. Magical thinking terrified people. Now, less so in the fields that have been developed by reason. But in new fields, like economics, it's still strong enough to throw a country to the flames to appease the Gods. Clearly, the decency to protect your child from pain and a reduced sex life (which priests told you was an improvement in any case) had no chance against magical thinking.

Then, What Jake said.

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 03:52:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An article of faith, because you claimed the aim of the ritual was to inflict pain.

Now, acceptance through thousands of years has no relevance. For example:
-Why was slavery not a problem for thousands of years? Persecution of the gays (ancient Greece notwithstanding)? Of women? Lapidation for adultery? State racism? Death penalty for blasphemy? I'll have to stop now or I'll be here all day.

LOL. Are you aware that each of your examples was controversial? They are NOT examples of practices that once were accepted and now rightly are not. They were always oppressive acts and there were uprisings of the victims.

Now, standing up against the diktats of the priests would for most of those millenias (and for much of the world even today) have required more of a spine that the average person is supplied with. And the half-life of those who were so supplied was considerably shorter.

What you call "the diktats of the priests" usually was a mixture of accepted social norms, controversial norms, measures to maintain the rule of the current mighty (and the priests themselves). In a world where religion has this role, all movements to change the power balance in the society must necessarily target the church. So what? What does that prove?

Religion told you that if you did not do that you would end up in limbo. That sounded even worse than the alternative -and remember that people were quite ready to throw their kids to Moloch if they felt that the crop might fail or something.

No, not "or something". The rulers only had a chance to make parents give up their children in times of extreme danger. When the Romans threatened to destroy the citiy for instance. You are underrating people who deal with religion again. There is a word for this consistently insinuating that your interlocutor and those who agree with them were just too stupid or indoctrinated to get it. Starts with an a and apparently is considered an ad hom here--while the behaviour it describes is not.

As far as I am concerned, the parents are free to believe anything they want, and to do most things on themselves if they so please (there can be limits though as society would have to pay for their further medical expenditures, or if they were to inoculate themselves with a highly contagious disease it would harm others), ...

Isn't you imagination running a bit too freely here? We were talking about the removal of a bit of skin. You know that circumcision and castration aren't the same, don't you?

... but that gives them exactly zero right to determine what their child will believe. They can still babtise him as it really won't have a lasting impact, but anything permanent is off limits if done for religious reasons (of course, a life-saving operation is OK)

Do you mean "permanent" or do you mean "physical"? It is not true that baptism isn't having a  permanent effect as you claim. You can stop believing in its effect, of course. The same is true for the religious significance of a circumcision. The difference is the physical side. You were talking of religious education, though. It would be easier to understand what you are trying to get at if you didn't mix up these two concepts.

Do you think many people share your opinion that parents must not have the right to "determine" what their child will believe? How would you enforce it, I wonder? Your idea sounds Stalinist.

by Katrin on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 04:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean "permanent" or do you mean "physical"? It is not true that baptism isn't having a  permanent effect as you claim. You can stop believing in its effect, of course. The same is true for the religious significance of a circumcision. The difference is the physical side. You were talking of religious education, though. It would be easier to understand what you are trying to get at if you didn't mix up these two concepts.

Religious education can be just as invasive as religious surgery.

Just look at what Creationists subject their kids to. And yes, what they subject their kids to abso-fucking-lutely is a gross violation of their kids' rights.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 07:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By that argument you should stop talking medical ethics. You can't have it both ways. And citing creationists isn't very convincing either: they are practically unknown on this side of the Atlantic. Have you ever met one (in the US doesn't count)? Don't argue with the handful of nutters from the extreme fringe.
by Katrin on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 07:48:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Creationists in the UK? Yes, there are one or two.

Presumably the reason Richard Dawkins spends so much time on them is precisely because they're an insignificant fringe of nutters.

Anyway - as predicted earlier on ET, you've just played the No True Scotsman card.

I have faith.

Your are arrogant to question that.

They are nutters.

Can we have a list of the faiths you actually approve of so we don't get them confused in future?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 08:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you won't complain that I repeat myself, will you? Because you just asked me to.

There are things you can prove of disprove. They are not open to faith. Then there are things nobody can prove or disprove. They can only be believed or not.

So creationists are ridiculous nutters, because they are just in denial of what science has proved. Now, what were you saying about that benign being that I trust will go on to be there when I know no way out? And can you prove that?

by Katrin on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 09:06:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you don't like creationists because they deny science when it conflicts with their beliefs.

But when you deny evidence-based medicine and psychology that conflict with your beliefs, that's fine.

At this point I really have no idea if you're trolling or not.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 12:18:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps I should. I am not denying evidence-based medicine and psychology, by the way. I guess you mean your selection of their findings, right?
by Katrin on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 12:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but I am kind of curios as to why this has popped up as a major issue. It was a growing issue in Sweden at least even before the Cologne ruling.

Afaik, there is not much news from the medical community, so that should not be it.

Benefits of Circumcision Outweigh Risks, Pediatric Group Says - NYTimes.com

The American Academy of Pediatrics has shifted its stance on infant male circumcision, announcing on Monday that new research, including studies in Africa suggesting that the procedure may protect heterosexual men against H.I.V., indicated that the health benefits outweighed the risks.

But the academy stopped short of recommending routine circumcision for all baby boys, saying the decision remains a family matter. The academy had previously taken a neutral position on circumcision.

So some random questions:

Is it an issue in USA too, or is it just Europe?

Is there any significant opposition to circumcision coming from circumcised men?

Is there any identifiable organisations pushing an anti-circumcision agenda?

I find the high profile of the issue of male circumcision at a time when moslems are in general vilified suspect. Does not make infant circumcision right, but I want to know what agenda is at play here, because if it has to do with the general villification of moslems I probably will find it more wrong.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, the issue is relatively big in the US, where a very large fraction of all male infants are circumcised as a matter of course for not medical or religious reason, and there is now a backlash questioning why if there is no medical need it is part of the medical protocol. In Spain infant boys are not circumcised as a matter of custom. Are they in Sweden?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:35:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So maybe we are (as usual) rehashing the US debate in European terms. With the addition of circumcision here being a custom of mainly (only?) two religious minorities, one of which being the bogey man of the times.

Anyway, it is not customary here either. I am not certain, but I believe jewish and moslem boys are circumcised within the public health care system at the appropriate time for their religions.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:55:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect a wedding without special rites of Islamophobia and anti-religion. I even wonder if the Cologne court was aware of the Jewish practice. I mean, which German judge with even a tiny bit of brain would tell Jews that their practice is a terrible mistake and criminal in one single country, Germany? Just sayin' because the topic of taboos isn't far.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The American Association of Pediatrics would be totally immersed in the controversy, that's why they had a stance already that they reversed. So, again, it is an issue especially in the US more than in Europe.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:44:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See "THAT THING": portrayal of the foreskin and circumcision in popular media
Circumcision occupies a peculiar place in United States culture, being simultaneously ubiquitous, controversial, and a taboo topic of conversation. Thus, to refer to it on television can be simultaneously mundane and daring, a contradiction to which much television programming aspires. It is hardly surprising that references to circumcision maintain a high level of ambiguity: while people may argue about it, the outcome is almost invariably to promote it.
There is one notorious episode of Sex in the City about it, for instance.

The "that thing" turn of phrase reminds me of the language in the Vagina monologues, by the way, where euphemisms (such as "down there") are discussed.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:48:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I've never heard of anyone piercing a newborn's ears"

??? Perfectly normal around here...

by asdf on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:49:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. If so I find it immensely weird, for the same reasons.

It seems obvious to me that parents shouldn't inflict unnecessary pain on children.

Apparently not everyone believes that. I suppose that doesn't surprise me, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with 'everyone does it and always has' as an excuse.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:55:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The usual excuse is "infants don't suffer as much". Presumably the same rationalisation originally contributed to the development of infant circumcision.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:03:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, though, there is some significant truth to that. Circumcision--or any other operation is pretty non-invasive compared to traveling through a birth canal...
by asdf on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:20:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Define "unnecessary". Can you perhaps for a moment admit the thought that there are different concepts of what necessary is? That you can still find a practice wrong and unnecessary even if you can muster enough tolerance to accept that people disagree with you?
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:31:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putting earrings on infant girls seems unnecessary, too.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:23:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. And I don't share the attitude. My daughter hates me for that. She wants the ear rings, and "all" the girls she knows (well, not all of them) had the pain of it at an age they can't remember. She is wrong. BUT: there are two points of view.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:33:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if she wants them she can have them, I suppose. But she couldn't possibly have wanted them or otherwise when she was an infant.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:34:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At what age are you old enough to decide to get your ears pierced? It's relatively safe, more or less reversible, and socially acceptable. I think it's in that huge gray area between the age of 10-ish to 35-ish when you are moving from child to adult.
by asdf on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Her birthday present when she turns twelve in a few weeks will be earrings and the mutiliation of her earlobes.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:39:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it's relatively safe and more or less reversible, I suppose as soon as one is old enough to decide one wants it...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:21:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: The three conditions for the ECB to cap spreads successfully: and why they will not be met (23 August 2012)
That the ECB can, if it wishes, impose a ceiling on interest rates and/or spreads, there is no doubt. Just as the Central Bank of Switzerland imposed a cap on the franc's exchange rate, in relation to the euro, so can the ECB implement an automated system that activates `buy' orders for Eurozone government bonds whose yields climb above a certain level. For this to work, however, three are the conditions:

First, it must be common knowledge that the `buy' orders will not be discontinued before the cap threshold is attained. (Otherwise, speculators are offered a golden opportunity to beat the ECB at a game of its own design.)
Secondly, the threshold for each member-state must be common knowledge. (Otherwise, much speculation and many financial resources will be wasted while the asymmetric information is turned symmetric.)
Thirdly, there must be no conditionality. (Otherwise, speculators will place bets against the ECB's automated purchasing strategy which will pay off if the said member-state fails to meet its `conditions').

Since the crisis erupted, the first condition has never come even close to being met. `No Monetisation' was, and remains, the crying call of surplus countries for whom the ECB's greatest potential sin is to meddle with member-state interest rates (by employing its figurative printing presses). Let's assume that the recent near-death experience of the Eurozone, following Spain's and Italy's travails, has changed the mind of the majority in the ECB's Council, and possibly of some central characters in Berlin. I am not suggesting that this is what has happened. I am only prepared to go with this as a working hypothesis. Do the other two conditions apply?



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:21:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(h/t kcurie)

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: Waiting for Mario Draghi
The first leaks have appeared about today's decision; the FT reports that there will be no formal caps for yields or spreads; several central banks are demanding clarity on the exit strategy; programme is referred internally as "monetary outright transactions"; Reuters reports that the ECB will give up seniority status; today's meeting will not discuss interest rates; Martin Zeil says a Bazooka without structural reforms will backfire; Wolfgang Munchau writes that the programme will not cause inflation - unfortunately; Giulio Tremonti sets up his own political movement to attract young people who hate bankers; Angela Merkel is visiting Spain today to discuss the upcoming Spanish programme; her visit also includes meetings with trade union leaders; the delays in Spain's regional liquidity fund is due to legal obstacles, as the budget stability law needs revisions to allow such a fund to be created; Luis Garicano says the ECB's action today will only kick the can down the road; he also criticises the Spanish government's communication policy; there are signs of strife in the Greek coalition ahead of Friday's arrival of the troika, as Antonis Samaras refuses to take a meeting with Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos; Wolfgang Schauble yesterday tried to peddle the message that Greece must simultaneously fulfil all the conditions and stay in the eurozone; the IMF cleared next tranche for Ireland but wants more clarity on next years' measures; Ireland's 2011 deficit came in at 12.7% of GDP, a little lower than previously estimated; a senior German banker, meanwhile, said that the costs of a euro breakup would be approximately the same as the costs of muddling through.


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Writing in Frankfurter Allgemeine, Bavaria's economics minister Martin Zeil, a member of the FDP, argues, literally, that the Bazooka will backfire. He said the underlying problem of the eurozone was a deep-seated balance of payments crisis. A bond purchase programme will get investors back into those countries, unless the price level adjusts first - the figures he puts are 35% for Portugal, 30% for Greece, 20% for Spain and 10-15% for Italy. The more help the ECB and the ESM provide, the smaller the pressure is for the countries to adjust.


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:26:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tremonti sets up his own political movement

Giulio Tremonti has split off from Silvio Berlusconi's PdL and is setting up his own political movement, with an agenda to regulate financial markets more strictly and save Italy from losing sovereignty and being colonised, Reuters reports. Tremonti did not say what his movement would be called. He said it would not be a traditional party and would aim recruit "above all, young people." The article quoted a pollster as saying that Tremonti would draw support from political active centrist and centre right voters.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:27:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will a breakup cost the same as muddling through?

The importance of this article, from Reuters, is not the statement itself, but the fact that senior people are beginning to make such calculations - or rather miscalculations. The chief executive of HVB, Theodor Weimer, is quoted as saying that the cost of breakup up the eurozone would be between €1.3bn and €3.3bn - a wide but oddly precise range. But to keep the euro together would cost just as much.

(The danger with all these calculation is the notion of "cost". What he calls a cost is some book entry, but he ignores the overall economic costs, which are incalculable in advance. A breakup of the eurozone brings all sorts of uncertainties that cannot be quantified, while the costs of rescuing the eurozone are transparent and precise.)



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bill Mitchell live-tweeting the Jobs in Europe Conference:

@billy_blog

Jobs for Europe Conference - Martin Schultz - ok to havea budget balance but it is not an end in itself. Creating work is more important


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:48:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Economic Perspectives: The Euro Is Not Unassailable, Even With The ECB's Bond Buying (Marshall Auerback, September 5, 2012)
The problem is that the currency union is only as strong as its weakest link. Lopping off the weakest part of the Eurozone is not akin to removing a cancerous lesion from an otherwise healthy body, but more like the puncturing of an important blood vessel, which could well destroy the patient. True, Greece has been historically ridden with corruption and tax evasion (a recent report from the organisation, "Global Financial Integrity" - suggests that the Greek economy lost US$261 billion to crime, corruption, and tax evasion from 2003-2011).

But the country has more recent made strenuous efforts to cut its deficit is by cutting public sector wages and pensions, a step that has exacerbated the size of its public deficits by decreasing incomes and employment. Were Greece to leave the Eurozone, it is almost certain that speculators would move to pick off another member country--Portugal, Italy, or Spain-- all of which could face the same metaphoric fate as Hannibal Lecter's victims. And so it goes.

...

So the neoliberal policy solution for turning around the Greek economy is to improve the culture of work is to introduce a kind of debt peonage by taking the Greeks back to the 19th Century. rbeit macht frei? And what happens when the six-day workweek and wage reductions do not work, as they inevitably won't? What comes next? Charles Dickens knew the answer -- improve the culture of work by relaxing child labour laws to reduce wages further and/or privatize the Aegean islands, Delphi, and the Acropolis. No problem.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:44:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ekathimerini: SYRIZA blasts Van Rompuy for snub
The main leftwing opposition SYRIZA on Thursday issued an angry statement following the refusal by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to meet with party leader Alexis Tsipras when the former arrives in Athens on Friday.


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:53:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Commission press releases: Midday Express of 2012-09-06
A strong employment agenda - pathway to economic recovery

The time has come to "give economic and monetary union a true employment and social dimension - an EMU 2.0" in the view of László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. Speaking at the Jobs for Europe conference dinner, Andor will indicate that "we should work to set up a European unemployment benefit scheme, which is one of the stabilisers we urgently need as we re-develop the Economic and Monetary Union". Andor will also call for Member States to deliver strong National Job Plans as a key element of coordinated economic governance. He will underline that, given the current unacceptable levels of joblessness, greater political priority must be given to a jobs-focused agenda "to deliver new, sustainable jobs and to maintain or transform existing jobs". He will also point out that "In a slow growth scenario, we cannot simply wait for growth to create jobs - our economies will only pick up if there are enough people working, earning and spending". Labour market policy must therefore put more emphasis on the demand side of the economy, such as by reducing taxes on labour or supporting new hiring. He will warn that there are limits to adjustment through internal devaluation, and that wages play an important part in aggregate demand and thus in growth. Andor will highlight that social dialogue and the close involvement of social partners are crucial elements of successful employment policies. Other important elements include measures to combat labour market segmentation and youth unemployment, and to develop a genuine pan-European labour market. Andor will also underline that investment in people is essential to implement structural reforms and that strong budget for the European Social Fund in 2014-2020, representing at least 25% of Cohesion Policy of 84 billion EUR as per the Commission's proposal, is thus crucial for implementing the EU's new Compact for Growth and Jobs.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:38:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speech by President Barroso at the Employment Policy Conference "Jobs for Europe" (06/09/2012)
But this is only a start. Turning to the next European Semester, we need to aim for an integrated EU policy approach and better coordination of employment and social policy at national and EU level. Not only employment and social policy, but also education policy, because part of the problem is the mismatch between the skills available and the job opportunities and I know that some Member States are now also looking again to their education systems, so that they can make them also more job friendly. We have seen during this crisis that some countries have been performing better also because of the capacities of their education systems to respond to the demand for jobs and training. Employment policy is an area of common concern, so it has to have a stronger European dimension and we must work together to ensure that across the Member States it is an essential tool for coordinated adjustment and boosting growth.
Hmm, yeah, there is a mismatch in that there are about 10 jobseekers for every job available. So it's not a skills issue.
Some people say that because of our challenges of competitiveness, we should put into question our social market economy, our social model. I disagree. The Commission disagrees with this analysis precisely because we know and we can see that in practice some of the most competitive countries in Europe and in the world are the ones that are more active in terms of the social Europe we want to build. So, what we have to do is adapt our model to new challenges and new constraints. We have a really important task of improving our competitiveness, specifically in some of our Member States, but it would be a mistake from all points of view to try to dismantle the welfare state and our social models and this is especially important for countries that are under programme and that now feel the pressure of the economic and budgetary constraints. So, our policy at European level defined by the Commission is very clear -we need to adapt, we need structural reforms in many of our areas, but not at the price of putting at risk our values, the values of the social market economy that are enshrined in the Lisbon treaty.

Beating unemployment is a very critical challenge, if not the most critical, from a social point of view. To succeed we need all the actors at every level to pull together, to reach agreement and to proceed on a common front. We need a Social Europe adapted to our modern European economy; we need to move to a genuine European labour market; we need to reinforce the systems that were invented in Europe and that represent the European Social way.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barroso opens his mealy mouth and out comes crap.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:19:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
@Suanzes
Draghi's and Rajoy-Merkel press conference both starting at 2.30. Links for live streaming http://bit.ly/vqO1Al  and http://bit.ly/o3tPGo


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:20:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also at the ECB's website.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:24:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Draghi said raises in indirect taxes will be partly responsible for keeping inflation above 2% in 2012.

Draghi talks about undertaking "Outright Monetary Transactions" in the secondary government bond markets.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:31:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Risks of future rising inflations are mostly related to rises in indirect taxes due to the need for fiscal consolidation." Meaning: governments raise VAT so ECB raises interest rates <facepalm>

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Strict and effective conditionality" attached to an EFSF/ESM macroeconomic adjustment program, provided that they include primary market purchases by the EFSF/ESM.

Focused on future programs, or current programs "when countries regain market access". No ex-ante quantitative limits.

ECB gives up senior creditor status.

Full sterilization of "liquidity created". <facepalm>

Average duration and a breakdown by country will be done on a monthly basis.

The Securities Market Program is terminated, sterilization will continue and bonds will be held to maturity.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:48:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will it work?  And by "work", I don't mean really work, I mean buy then some more time.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:09:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's possible that the immediate effect will be for Spain to totally lose market access as the markets force Rajoy to apply for a rescue to enable bond purchases.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:39:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I understand, spain is already eligible. Being in a precautionary phase or something.

But Italy seems to be excluded.

by IM on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 11:37:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder why nobody asked that at the press conference.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 11:41:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ESFS/ESM need to be buying bonds in the primary market, too, for which the Eurogroup may decide to ask for further conditions from Spain.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 11:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asked about what he thinks will make this program succeed when the previous attemts failed: the policy conditionality ensures ownership by all countries through approval of EFSF/ESM intervention. Also the equal status with private bondholders.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:11:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In answer to one question: there was no discussion of the possibility of not sterilizing bond purchases.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:27:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Introductory statement to the press conference (6 September 2012)
The September 2012 ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area foresee annual real GDP growth in a range between -0.6% and -0.2% for 2012 and between -0.4% and 1.4% for 2013. Compared with the June 2012 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, the ranges for 2012 and 2013 have been revised downwards.

...

Turning to the monetary analysis, the underlying pace of monetary expansion remained subdued. The annual growth rate of M3 increased to 3.8% in July 2012, up from 3.2% in June. The rise in M3 growth was mainly attributable to a higher preference for liquidity, as reflected in the further increase in the annual growth rate of the narrow monetary aggregate M1 to 4.5% in July, from 3.5% in June.

...

Although good progress is being made, the need for structural and fiscal adjustment remains significant in many European countries. On the structural side, further swift and decisive product and labour market reforms are required across the euro area to improve competitiveness, increase adjustment capacities and achieve higher sustainable growth rates. These structural reforms will also complement and support fiscal consolidation and debt sustainability. On the fiscal front, it is crucial that governments undertake all measures necessary to achieve their targets for the current and coming years. In this respect, the expected rapid implementation of the fiscal compact should be a main element to help strengthen confidence in the soundness of public finances. Finally, pushing ahead with European institution-building with great determination is essential.

In the Q&A, a German journalist asks what democratic/treaty legitimation does the ECB have to assert that the Euro is irreversible.

Also a question about the "liraization" of the ECB.

A question about the difference between "broken monetary policy transmission" and "liquidity trap". The answer is about abundant evidence of market fragmentation.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah!

A Bloomberg journalist asks that if the bond purchases are for monetary policy purposes, why the tie-in with fiscal policy conditionality, and isn't the ECB subordinating its monetary policy independence to fiscal policy.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:57:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Answer: why do countries find themselves in a "bad equilibrium"? Because policy mistakes were made.

Hayekian punishment for sins...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:59:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Draghi insists that the crisis is the fault of bad policy...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:30:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he's right. Though not in the way I expect he thinks he is.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:33:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, he means it as justification for adjustment programmes.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also:

6 September 2012 - Monetary policy decisions

At today's meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.75%, 1.50% and 0.00% respectively.

6 September 2012 - Technical features of Outright Monetary Transactions

6 September 2012 - Measures to preserve collateral availability

Change in eligibility for central government assets

The Governing Council of the ECB has decided to suspend the application of the minimum credit rating threshold in the collateral eligibility requirements for the purposes of the Eurosystem's credit operations in the case of marketable debt instruments issued or guaranteed by the central government, and credit claims granted to or guaranteed by the central government, of countries that are eligible for Outright Monetary Transactions or are under an EU-IMF programme and comply with the attached conditionality as assessed by the Governing Council.

...

Expansion of the list of assets eligible to be used as collateral

The Governing Council of the ECB has also decided that marketable debt instruments denominated in currencies other than the euro, namely the US dollar, the pound sterling and the Japanese yen, and issued and held in the euro area, are eligible to be used as collateral in Eurosystem credit operations until further notice. This measure reintroduces a similar decision that was applicable between October 2008 and December 2010, with appropriate valuation markdowns.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:16:00 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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:04:25 PM EST
Euro rises on report of ECB plan to buy unlimited debt | Business | guardian.co.uk

The euro rose on the foreign exchanges on Wednesday after the Bloomberg financial news service reported that the European Central Bank was preparing to announce plans to buy unlimited quantities of government debt from troubled members of the single currency.

Quoting central bank officials, the agency said the ECB was ready to take action to bring down the interest rates on borrowing paid by countries such as Italy and Spain. Full details of the blueprint are likely to be disclosed by Mario Draghi, the ECB president, on Thursday after a meeting of the central bank's governing council.

According to the Bloomberg, the ECB plans to "sterilise" its bond-buying by removing money from elsewhere in the eurozone economy such as by selling bonds or restricting the money supply. This could ease fears that action to help the weaker members of the 17-nation bloc will lead to an explosion in the money supply.

The ECB is likely to concentrate on buying short-term debt - bonds that mature within three years - in the hope that it will provide breathing space until longer-term measures are in place.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bosch cuts shifts to weather European car crisis | Business News | DW.DE | 05.09.2012

Germany's biggest car components' supplier Bosch has announced shorter working hours in response to dropping parts demand from European carmakers. The stoppages will mainly affect the firm's diesel systems unit.

At Bosch's Bamberg production site, some 980 of the company's 7,300 employees will have to go on short-time work, the car industry supplier said Wednesday.

The scheme would be introduced for six days respectively in the months of September and October; it followed an agreement reached between management and the works council.

In a statement, Bosch said that the stoppages were primarily a result of slumping diesel car sales in crisis-hit Southern Europe, and the subsequent introduction of short-time work at some of its auto industry customers.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:14:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Stadium Building Spree, U.S. Taxpayers Lose $4 Billion - Bloomberg

New York Giants fans will cheer on their team against the Dallas Cowboys at tonight's National Football League opener in New Jersey. At tax time, they'll help pay for the opponents' $1.2 billion home field in Texas.

That's because the 80,000-seat Cowboys Stadium was built partly using tax-free borrowing by the City of Arlington. The resulting subsidy comes out of the pockets of every American taxpayer, including Giants fans. The money doesn't go directly to the Cowboys' billionaire owner Jerry Jones. Rather, it lowers the cost of financing, giving his team the highest revenue in the NFL and making it the league's most-valuable franchise.

"It's part of the corruption of the federal tax system," said James Runzheimer, 67, an Arlington lawyer who led opponents of public borrowing for the structure known locally as "Jerry's World." "It's use of government funds to subsidize activity that the private sector can finance on its own."

Jones is one of dozens of wealthy owners whose big-league teams benefit from millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Michael Jordan's Charlotte, North Carolina, Bobcats basketball team plays in a municipal bond-financed stadium, the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Democratic Party is meeting this week. The Republicans last week used Florida's Tampa Bay Times Forum, also financed with tax-exempt debt. It is the home of hockey's Lightning, owned by hedge-fund manager Jeffrey Vinik. None of the owners who responded would comment.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:46:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Republicans just held a convention in a hall funded by the government to the tune of $86 million. Most of their party platform has to do with reducing the size of government.
by asdf on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:22:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they are reducing the government, $86 million at a time

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 03:42:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Felix Salmon blog: Why you won't find hyperinflation in democracies (Reuters, SEPTEMBER 4, 2012)
There are those who believe that the length of a mathematical paper is inversely proportionate to how interesting it is. Something similar can be said about the new paper -- short and absolutely first-rate -- from Steve Hanke and Nicholas Krus, entitled "World Hyperinflations". It's technically 19 pages long, but the first 12 are basically just throat-clearing, and the last two are references. The meat is the five pages in the middle: three pages of tables, and another two of footnotes, detailing every instance of hyperinflation that the world has ever seen.
That's from the Cato institute, by the way...
The real value of this paper is its exhaustive nature. By looking down the list you can see what isn't there -- and, strikingly, what you don't see are any instances of central banks gone mad in otherwise-productive economies. As Cullen Roche says, hyperinflation is caused by many things, such as losing a war, or regime collapse, or a massive drop in domestic production. But one thing is clear: it's not caused by technocrats going mad or bad.

...

All of which is to say that hyperinflation, in and of itself, really isn't anything to worry about. It's pretty much impossible to predict -- and if your country has hyperinflation, it almost certainly has even bigger other problems. In fact, I'd hesitate to categorize hyperinflation as a narrowly economic phenomenon at all, as opposed to simply being a symptom of much bigger failures at the geopolitical level. Those failures are exacerbated by hyperinflation, of course: there's very much a vicious cycle in these episodes. But you only ever find hyperinflation under extreme conditions, and, with a single exception (Peru), I'm not even sure I can find any genuine democracies on this list.



If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Problem is not hyperinflation worries, it's the people that think that inflation in the 2-5% range is bad.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:33:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is however justified by repeated references to the fear of hyperinflation (see Weimar...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:50:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just Yesterday
Ulrike Guérot: The euro debate in Germany: Towards political union? (ECFR, 5 September 2012)
Secondly, most Germans associate the euro with higher prices following its introduction in 2002. Although there is empirical evidence that what is now portrayed as hard-wired German fears of inflation started at this moment, Germans have strong memories of previous episodes of `inflation trauma'(most notably in the hyperinflation of the 1920s) and a strong emotional bond with an independent central bank and price stability. This extreme unease with inflation has been at its most acute at moments of the crisis where the ECB - in the absence of policy solutions - has provided liquidity to save the euro-system, as recently again after the ECB Council decisions of 2nd August 2011.


If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:13:20 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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:04:50 PM EST
Egypt president calls for 'change' in Syria - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's president, has told an Arab League conference that "change" of government is needed in violence-wracked Syria and that time should not be wasted "speaking of reform".

"This time has passed now. Now it is time for change," Morsi, who was making his first presidential address to the league, said on Wednesday in the capital Cairo.

He said that a quartet of regional states - Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt -  would meet to discuss the Syrian crisis, which started 17 months ago as an insurrection, but has turned into a civil war with opposition fighters battling to dislodge Bashar al-Assad from power.

"The quartet which Egypt has called for will meet now," Morsi told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, without giving more details of the gathering.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:36:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton and China leaders fail to resolve differences over Syria crisis and sea row | World news | guardian.co.uk

Talks between US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and Chinese leaders have failed to come to agreement over how to end the crisis in Syria and resolve Beijing's territorial disputes with its neighbours in the South China Sea.

Clinton, who met President Hu Jintao, the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and other top officials - but not leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping - wants China to stop backing the regime of Syria's President Bashar Assad, and has been pushing for it to be more flexible in lowering tensions over the potentially oil-rich South China Seas.

But comments from Clinton and Yang on Wednesday showed the countries remain deeply divided on those issues, although both maintained they are committed to working together despite their differences.

The US and other countries are upset that China and Russia have repeatedly used their veto powers in the UN security council to block actions that could have led to sanctions against Assad's regime. China says Syria's civil war needs to be resolved through negotiations and not outside pressure.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:40:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mauritania sends Gaddafi spy chief to Libya - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Mauritanian authorities have handed over Muammar Gaddafi's ex-spy chief to Libya nearly five months after he was arrested for entering the country illegally, state television reported.

"Mauritanian authorities hand over ex-Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to Libya," read a newsflash on the screen written in Arabic on Wednesday.

An official in the ministry of foreign affairs who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said that Senussi boarded a flight at 9am local time (0900 GMT) and was headed to Tripoli.

A delegation from Libya, including the defence minister and army chief of staff, were in the capital Nouakchott on Tuesday for a visit which several official sources said was in connection with the extradition.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:37:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strikers march at S Africa's platinum mine - Africa - Al Jazeera English

More than 1,000 striking South African miners have demonstrated at Lonmin's Marikana mine, where
police shot dead 34 of their colleagues last month.

Dozens of police arrived at the scene on Wednesday while a helicopter hovered above the protesting rock-drill operators, whose strike to demand a hefty pay hike is now in its fourth week, crippling Lonmin.

One man at the front of the column waved a placard reading "We want 12,500 or nothing else", a reference to the group's demand for a hike in base pay to $1,500 a month, more than double their current salary.

Another protester, who did not wish to be named, said the demonstrators were heading to Lonmin's nearby Karee mine to "take out the people who are working in the mine shaft".



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AlJaz:
crippling Lonmin

OK, journalistic reflex, strikes always have to cripple. But City of London-based Lonmin (formerly Lonrho, called by a Conservative PM (Ted Heath, 1973)"an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism") is of course in the pink as ever.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:59:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fatal shooting at Pauline Marois Quebec victory speech | World news | guardian.co.uk

One person has been shot dead in Quebec and another wounded after a gunman entered the venue where Pauline Marois, the separatist Parti Quebecois leader who had just become the Canadian province's premier-elect, was giving her victory speech.

Voters in the French-speaking province on Tuesday ousted the governing Liberals and installed the Parti Quebecois as a minority government - in the process making Marois the first female premier of Quebec.

Around midnight, two bodyguards abruptly interrupted Marois's victory speech, bundling her into the backstage area after a deafening boom rang out.

According to Montreal police, one 45-year-old man was fatally shot and a 30-year-old man was in critical condition after a man in his 50s entered the back door of Montreal's Metropolis concert hall, and shot them. He also started a fire on the premises. A spokesman for the force added that another man was being treated in hospital for "nervous shock".



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eritrean refugees trapped by security fence at Israeli-Egyptian border | World news | guardian.co.uk

Israeli soldiers are refusing to allow entry to a group of about 20 Eritrean refugees trapped for six days between Egyptian land and a high steel fence that Israel has erected along its southern border. Despite high temperatures and lack of shade, the soldiers have been instructed to provide only limited quantities of water.

The Israeli interior minister, Eli Yishai, said Israel "must act with a heavy hand". The country had "a very clear policy and a border fence", he told Army Radio. "We cannot let them enter."

The group, which includes two women and a child, are refusing to return to Egypt. Technically, they are on Israeli territory but the recently erected fence prevents them advancing.

According to Israeli media reports, one of the women was visibly pregnant, but migrants told the soldiers watching the group she had miscarried.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:41:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Emanuel Said to Resign From Obama Campaign to Help Super-PACs - Bloomberg

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has resigned from Barack Obama's re-election campaign to raise money for super-political action committees backing the president and other Democrats, according to two people familiar with the decision.

Emanuel, who resigned last month, has already raised $3 million for Priorities USA Action, a super-PAC founded by former White House officials, said one of the people, both of whom requested anonymity. The news of Emanuel's departure was reported earlier by the Washington Post.

Emanuel spoke to big donors at a brunch this morning in Charlotte, North Carolina -- one of three special activities planned for them during this week's Democratic National Convention. The brunch was held at a private home and also included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other elected officials as "special guests," according to an invitation posted online by Politico.

Last night, about 120 people from the same group of donors listened to Democratic strategist Paul Begala during a cocktail party near the convention arena. Begala, who has assisted Priorities with fundraising, stood atop a table and urged donors to write more checks.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Globes (Israel business magazine):
370,000 new pupils have and will enter Israelis schools between 2001 and 2017, of whom 43% will be Arabs, 40%, haredim (ultra-orthodox), 13% will join the state religious school system, and just 4% will join the state secular school system, says the Central Bureau of Statistics in its "Back to School: selected data from "Society in Israel - Report No. 5", published today.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:45:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
40% of children entering school age are haredim?

</shock>

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:04:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Checked the original document (Hebrew with the tables written left to right). The percentages are increases over previous attendance figures, which isn't exactly the same thing.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hackers Claim Romney's Taxes Ransomed for $1M : Discovery News

Mitt Romney's tax returns are allegedly no longer secret. An unidentified group claims to have stolen Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns from PricewaterhouseCoopers' Tennessee offices.

Mashable is reporting a hacker group claims to be in possession of "all available 1040 tax forms for Romney." The group, which is yet unidentified, posted on the text-hosting site PasteBin that they had illegally entered PricewaterhouseCoopers' Nashville office on Aug. 25, 2012, accessed the computers, made copies of the returns and escaped. PasteBin is popular with the hacker group Anonymous.

ANALYSIS: Obama, Romney Family Ties Share Polygamy, More

The unnamed group is threatening to release the returns to the public unless a ransom is met. They're asking for $1 million USD in Bitcoins. The Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic currency with no central banking authority -- thus, it's very difficult to track.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:25:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Using your Office @ 830 Crescent Centre Drive - Pastebin.com
  1. Reference to avoid Fakes that only you will have.
  2. 1.all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty
  3. 2.he moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father

I suspect the next line will be "I felt a determination to go at all hazards"

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

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:41:07 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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:05:06 PM EST
Strong earthquake hits Costa Rica - Americas - Al Jazeera English

A strong 7.6-magnitude earthquake has struck near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, briefly cutting power and
communications and triggering tsunami warnings, authorities said.

A tsunami warning issued after the quake struck western Costa Rica on Wednesday is now cancelled, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

The warning for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua had been prompted by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that has so far caused no casualties or sizable damage, according to local authorities.

The US Geological Survey initially said the quake struck off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and measured 7.9 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, but revised both the intensity and location of the quake in a subsequent advisory.

In its latest advisory, the USGS said the quake measured 7.6 and was 10km northeast of Hojancha, Costa Rica.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:31:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US points to 'gross negligence' by BP - Americas - Al Jazeera English

The US justice department is blaming BP PLC for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, describing in new court papers examples of what it calls "gross negligence and willful misconduct".

The court filing is the sharpest position yet taken by the US government as it seeks to hold the British oil giant largely responsible for the largest oil spill, as well as the largest environmental disaster, in US history.

Gross negligence

Gross negligence is a central issue to the case, scheduled to go to trial in New Orleans in January 2013. A gross negligence finding could nearly quadruple the civil damages owed by BP under the Clean Water Act to $21bn.

The US government and BP are engaged in talks to settle civil and potential criminal liability, though neither side will comment on the status of negotiations.

Returning to the Gulf two years after the BP oil spill

"The behaviour, words and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall," government lawyers wrote in the filing on August 31 in federal court in New Orleans.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:36:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Research reveals contrasting consequences of a warmer Earth

ScienceDaily (Sep. 3, 2012) -- A new study, by scientists from the Universities of York, Glasgow and Leeds, involving analysis of fossil and geological records going back 540 million years, suggests that biodiversity on Earth generally increases as the planet warms.

But the research says that the increase in biodiversity depends on the evolution of new species over millions of years, and is normally accompanied by extinctions of existing species. The researchers suggest that present trends of increasing temperature are unlikely to boost global biodiversity in the short term because of the long timescales necessary for new forms to evolve. Instead, the speed of current change is expected to cause diversity loss.

The study which is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) says that while warm periods in the geological past experienced increased extinctions, they also promoted the origination of new species, increasing overall biodiversity.

The new research is a refinement of an earlier study that analysed biodiversity over the same time interval, but with a less sophisticated data set, and concluded that a warming climate led to drops in overall diversity. Using the improved data that are now available, the researchers re-examined patterns of marine invertebrate biodiversity over the last 540 million years.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:50:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberia has sold quarter of its land to logging companies, says report | World news | guardian.co.uk

One quarter of Liberian land has been sold to logging companies in just two years, threatening the country with widespread devastation, according to a report.

A new spate of logging contracts in Liberia - the most heavily forested country in west Africa - means that 40% of its forests are under private ownership and risk being flattened by logging companies, says the report. Companies have used what campaigners describe as a legal loophole to buy unlimited swaths of private land with the intention of logging and clearing forests through the use of Private Use Permits (PUPs).

"Private Use Permits are great news for logging companies. They are very bad news for pretty much everybody else in Liberia," said Robert Nyahn of Save My Future Foundation. "Some communities will receive less than 1% of their timber's value, while very little revenue will reach state coffers."

The report, by environmental watchdogs Global Witness, Save My Future Foundation and the Sustainable Development Institute, claimed PUPs had been given to private companies without consulting local groups and in some cases using forged documents.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:00:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]


'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 Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 10:03:36 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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:05:22 PM EST
Hackers claim FBI lifted Apple IDs | News | DW.DE | 04.09.2012

Internet blogs were abuzz on Tuesday with a claim by hackers that the American FBI had collected personal data of millions of cell-phone and digital tablet users. In response, the FBI said "we're not commenting."

The hacking collective AntiSec said to prove its claim it had posted on the Internet a sample of one million user identities in the form of unique device IDs (UDID) of Apple iPhones and iPads, which are 40 typographic characters long.

AntiSec, a movement which rejects pressure from computer software security firms on customers to fully disclose private details, said its evidence was obtained in March from a notebook PC of a FBI operative who worked at a cyber policing center in New York.

'No comment,' says the FBI

Inside the stolen data file, said AntiSec, was a tabular list of 12.3 million UDIDs.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:15:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
n+1: Leave Your Cellphone at Home

Earlier this year in Wired, writer and intelligence expert James Bamford described the National Security Agency's plans for the Utah Data Center. A nondescript name, but it has another: the First Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative Data Center. The $2 billion facility, scheduled to open in September 2013, will be used to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store the agency's intercepted communications--everything from emails, cell phone calls, Google searches, and Tweets, to retail transactions. How will all this data be stored? Imagine, if you can, 100,000 square-feet filled with row upon row of servers, stacked neatly on racks. Bamford projects that its processing-capacity may aspire to yottabytes, or 1024 bytes, and for which no neologism of higher magnitude has yet been coined.  

To store the data, the NSA must first collect it, and here Bamford relies on a man named William Binney, a former NSA crypto-mathematician, as his main source. For the first time, since leaving the NSA in 2001, Binney went on the record to discuss Stellar Wind, which we all know by now as the warrantless wiretapping program, first approved by George Bush after the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. The program allowed the NSA to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in charge of authorizing eavesdropping on domestic targets, permitting the wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and emails. In his thirty years at the NSA, Binney helped to engineer its automated system of networked data collection which, until 2001, was exclusively directed at foreign targets. Binney left when the organization started to use this same technology to spy on American citizens. He tells of secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities, controlled by the NSA, and powered by complex software programs examining Internet traffic as it passes through fiber-optic cables. (At a local event last week, Binney circulated a list of possible interception points, including 811 10th Avenue, between 53rd & 54th St., which houses the largest New York exchange of AT&T Long Lines.) He tells of software, created by a company called Narus, that parses US data sources: any communication arousing suspicion is automatically copied and sent to the NSA. Once a name enters the Narus database, all phone calls, emails and other communications are automatically routed to the NSA's recorders.

The NSA wasn't the only intelligence-gathering agency to have its domestic surveillance powers expanded in the wake of September 11th. The USA PATRIOT Act, for instance, allows the FBI to spy on US citizens without demonstrating probable cause that its targets are engaged in criminal activities. Under Section 215 of the Act, the now infamous National Security Letters--which formerly required that the information being sought pertain to a foreign power or agent of a foreign power--can compel the disclosure of sensitive information held by banks, credit companies, telephone carrier, and Internet Service Providers, among many others, about US citizens. The recipient of an NSL is typically gagged from disclosing the fact or nature of the request.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:17:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Leaving your cell phone doesn't help much. How are you going to get from point A to point B?

By car?

It's a little black box perched on a police car, and it's always watching. When 87-year-old Katherine "Kit" Grazioli's body turned up along a dirt road in the foothills west of Colorado Springs last November, the little black box spied her stolen car within hours. On the car door, police say, were the fingerprints of her killer.

Over the past two years, roof-mounted license-plate readers -- a kind of high-tech surveillance camera -- have quietly led authorities in the Pikes Peak Region to scores of stolen vehicles. They also have helped capture fugitives and kept tabs on paroled sex offenders -- all by automatically scanning roads and parking lots with lightning-fast optics capable of photographing a license plate in the blink of an eye, or hundreds of license plates during a single patrol.

But according to documents obtained by The Gazette under the Colorado Open Records Act, the devices are watching more than just law breakers.


http://www.gazette.com/articles/massive-144053-plate-create.html

By mass transit?

Computer vision can also be used at shopping malls, schoolyards, subway platforms, office complexes and stadiums.

Maybe you'll just become part of the anonymous crowd? There's an app for finding you.

Google has also introduced an application called Goggles, which allows people to take a picture with a smartphone and search the Internet for matching images. The company's executives decided to exclude a facial-recognition feature, which they feared might be used to find personal information on people who did not know that they were being photographed.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/science/02see.html?pagewanted=all

Maybe you'll become a hermit and live in the mountains, scavenging from empty cabins? There's a guy doing that over here right now, and they have pictures of him.

The Iron County Sheriff's Department in southern Utah says it just wants to talk to the man in this security camera image. At least that's the official word. More official words include "armed and dangerous," ominous adjectives that are ascribed to an un-named suspect wanted in conjunction with break-ins in around the county that most of us know as home to Brian Head and Cedar Breaks and that has rural and cabin dwellers fearful.


http://www.adventure-journal.com/2012/02/in-southern-utah-a-hunted-mountain-man-stalks-the-woods/

by asdf on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:37:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK malware used against Bahraini activists | World | DW.DE | 05.09.2012

The UK firm Gamma Group has created malware that can turn a cell phone into a tracking device. A new report revealed that the Bahraini government used it to spy on dissidents, while the firm says the software was stolen.

Husain Abdulla, a naturalized US citizen and director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), received an email in May from a Bahraini opposition leader with an attachment entitled "Existence of a new dialogue." Luckily for him, it wouldn't open on his BlackBerry.

"I couldn't open the attachment, but took it to one of the people investigating  malware," he told DW. "They said it if you open it, it's going to be able to spy on any kind of activity you do on your computer or laptop."

Abdulla says he is aware of at least seven people who received the same email - "but I know it's more than that." The "people" carrying out the investigation were researchers at the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs' Citizen Lab, who traced the email to an IP address controlled by the Bahraini government, who, they suspect, intercepted the email and added the attachment.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:19:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FBI -- Statement on Alleged Compromise of FBI Laptop
The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.

h/t Colman

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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apple, FBI Deny Hacker Claim of Breach of Apple User Data - Bloomberg

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation denied claims by hackers who said they stole information on 12 million Apple Inc. user accounts from an FBI computer.

Many of the hackers' claims, posted this week in a long online missive from the group calling itself Anonymous. The FBI said in a statement yesterday that there was "no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data."

Apple said it didn't provide any user information to the FBI or other organizations.

"The FBI has not requested this information from Apple, nor have we provided it to the FBI or any organization," said Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman.

The hackers may have posted some legitimate users' device names and the unique identifier codes assigned to their iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, according to Sean Sullivan, a security adviser at F-Secure Corp. who examined a data file that the hackers released. It isn't known whether the hackers really have the other information they claim to have redacted from the data file, including user names, mobile phone numbers and addresses.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:46:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least these are real denials - maybe they are lying but they are not avoiding the issue.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tim Berners-Lee: the internet has no off switch | Technology | The Guardian

There is no "off switch" for the internet, says the British inventor of the world wide web - and that is a good thing, because it could only be undone by governments around the world coordinating to turn it into a centralised system.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the first web page on Christmas Day 1990, was speaking at the launch of a global league table showing which countries put the web to work best.

His "off switch" comments came after concerns were expressed last year that the former Egyptian regime led by Hosni Mubarak had suppressed the use of the web to try to damp down the revolution that eventually overthrew it.

Berners-Lee, 57, said: "The way the internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system. At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:36:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thousands of 'genes' found in parts of genome dismissed as junk DNA | Science | guardian.co.uk

Long stretches of DNA previously dismissed as "junk" are in fact crucial to the way our genome works, an international team of scientists said on Wednesday.

It is the most significant shift in scientists' understanding of the way our DNA operates since the sequencing of the human genome in 2000, when it was discovered that our bodies are built and controlled by far fewer genes than scientists had expected. Now the next generation of geneticists have updated that picture.

The results of the international Encode project will have a huge impact for geneticists trying to work out how genes operate. The findings will also provide new leads for scientists looking for treatments for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and Crohn's disease that have their roots partly in glitches in the DNA. Until now, the focus had largely been on looking for errors within genes themselves, but the Encode research will help guide the hunt for problem areas that lie elsewhere in our DNA sequence.

"In 2000, we published the draft human genome and, in 2003, we published the finished human genome and we always knew that was going to be a starting point," said Dr Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, one of the principal investigators for Encode (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements). "We always knew that protein-coding genes were not the whole story."



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:36:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your Scientific Reasoning Is More Flawed Than You Think: Scientific American

In one sense, science educators have it easy. The things they describe are so intrinsically odd and interesting -- invisible fields, molecular machines, principles explaining the unity of life and origins of the cosmos -- that much of the pedagogical attention-getting is built right in.  Where they have it tough, though, is in having to combat an especially resilient form of higher ed's nemesis: the aptly named (if irredeemably clichéd) `preconceived idea.' Worse than simple ignorance, naïve ideas about science lead people to make bad decisions with confidence. And in a world where many high-stakes issues fundamentally boil down to science, this is clearly a problem. 

Naturally, the solution to the problem lies in good schooling -- emptying minds of their youthful hunches and intuitions about how the world works, and repopulating them with sound scientific principles that have been repeatedly tested and verified. Wipe out the old operating system, and install the new. According to a recent paper by Andrew Shtulman and Joshua Valcarcel, however, we may not be able to replace old ideas with new ones so cleanly. Although science as a field discards theories that are wrong or lacking, Shtulman and Valcarcel's work suggests that individuals --even scientifically literate ones -- tend to hang on to their early, unschooled, and often wrong theories about the natural world. Even long after we learn that these intuitions have no scientific support, they can still subtly persist and influence our thought process. Like old habits, old concepts seem to die hard.

Testing for the persistence of old concepts can't be done directly. Instead, one has to set up a situation in which old concepts, if present, measurably interfere with mental performance. To do this, Shtulman and Valcarcel designed a task that tested how quickly and accurately subjects verified short scientific statements (for example: "air is composed of matter."). In a clever twist, the authors interleaved two kinds of statements -- "consistent" ones that had the same truth-value under a naive theory and a proper scientific theory, and "inconsistent" ones. For example, the statement "air is composed of matter"  is inconsistent: it's false under a naive theory (air just seems like empty space, right?), but is scientifically true. By contrast, the statement "people turn food into energy" is consistent: anyone who's ever eaten a meal knows it's true, and science affirms this by filling in the details about digestion, respiration and metabolism.



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:50:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually... Organic Foods ARE Healthier for You (and everything else living on the planet) « Small Farmers. Big Change.

You may have heard about a new meta-study by researchers at Stanford University that looked into the health benefits of organic foods.  It was covered by the New York Times, NPR, TV news programs and others.

Unfortunately many will not read past the often misleading headlines that suggest, or outright declare, that organic foods are not healthier for you than `conventional' foods (meaning those foods grown with the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, GMOs and - for livestock - with artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, etc.).  We believe that a careful reading of the study does confirm that for many foods there is a demonstrable health benefit in eating organic, either directly because the organic foods can be more nutritious, or indirectly by reducing one's exposure to chemical residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  To learn more about this perspective on the study's findings please check out this message from the Organic Trade Association, and their nutritional information page.

But today we think it's even more important to remember that organic farming is about much more than just the amount of chemical residue on that apple you're eating. It's equally about protecting, and promoting, the health of...:



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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:00:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:05:44 PM EST
'You Did Great!' Terrified Personal Assistant Tells Clint Eastwood | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
TAMPA, FL--Following Clint Eastwood's surprise speech Thursday evening at the Republican National Convention, in which he used catchphrases from his old movies and addressed an empty chair as though Barack Obama were sitting in it, absolutely petrified personal assistant Tim Weddle nervously informed the famed actor and movie director that he "did great!" "Wow, that was amazing! Seriously, you were really, really great--everyone loved it so much," a trembling Weddle carefully told Eastwood moments after the 82-year-old film legend finished his speech and walked slowly off the stage. "And you were so funny, too! Oh my God, so funny. The chair thing went over really well. You should have heard the laughter and applause from out here, Clint. Honestly, Clint. Honestly. And you looked so young, too!" At press time, a perspiring Weddle was frantically trying to keep Eastwood as far away as possible from any televisions, computers, or newspapers


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 Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of writing a bit for the Dem Convention in which they wheel an empty coffin out onto stage, open it up, then have a Dem actor (there's plenty of them) address Mr. Eastwood in his coffin. Could be good.

At the end: "Goodbye Harry."

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 05:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]