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

15 January

by Nomad Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:42:47 PM EST

Your take on today's news media

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by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:28:26 PM EST
BBC News - Silvio Berlusconi: Ruby sex trial plea rejected

An Italian court has denied the request of former PM Silvio Berlusconi to halt a trial where he is accused of having sex with an under-age prostitute.

The court in Milan also decided it did not need to hear testimony from the woman - dancer Karima El Mahroug.

Mr Berlusconi's lawyers requested the trial be halted while he runs in the current election campaign.

Both he and Ms Mahroug - better known by her stage name "Ruby Heartstealer" - have denied ever having sex.

Mr Berlusconi stepped down from a third term as prime minister in November 2011, when he was replaced by the technocrat Mario Monti.

His People of Freedom (PDL) party is hoping to form a centre-right coalition government with another party but have not named a candidate for prime minister.

On 7 January, an ally of Mr Berlusconi's said that he would not return as prime minister even if his party won the elections next month.

Mr Berlusconi however has not explicitly ruled himself out of running the premiership, saying the candidate for the post "will be decided if we win".

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:26:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Polls show Berlusconi gaining ground | EurActiv

Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition is gaining ground ahead of next month's elections, which could make it harder for Italy's left to form a stable parliamentary majority, new polls show.

The centre-left still looked on course to get most seats after the 24-25 Feb. vote and leads efforts to tackle recession and unemployment in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

But days after Berlusconi's appearance on a critic's television show attracted almost 9 million viewers, a survey by the Tecne research institute for SkyTG24 showed the former prime minister's alliance on 26% overall on Sunday, up 1.6 points from a day earlier.

His centre-left rivals, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, were still far ahead with 37.8%, though that was down 0.8 percentage points compared to the previous poll. The centrist grouping of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti fell 1.3 points to 14.5%.

"I believe we are on a good path to get back all the people who voted for us in 2008 and also to convince some more. We sincerely think we have the possibility to win," Berlusconi told the Domenica Live programme on his own Canale 5 TV channel.

His image will be under close scrutiny today when the nightclub dancer who is the main witness in the sex case against him is due to testify in a Milan court.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

But days after Berlusconi's appearance on a critic's television show attracted almost 9 million viewers, a survey by the Tecne research institute for SkyTG24 showed the former prime minister's alliance on 26% overall on Sunday, up 1.6 points from a day earlier.

i watched this, (aaaargh), and it was a depressing experience. b was such a good bullshit artist he not only held his ground, he ran rings around the different accusers, interlocutors and santoro, the host.

completely delusional, self-servingly shameless, sociopathically smug, and repellently reptilian, yet his narcissism so playfully contagious, it was like watching someone defying gravity.

brimming with egoic self-confidence, he proudly exuded his worldliness, jovially referring to his alimony payments proactively, and his illusionary international stature as statesman of global import.

he boasted how he could call his old gang of buddies (putin, bush, blair, aznar,) any time, and that cellphone call while keeping merkel waiting, well that was because he was busy chatting up the turkish premier persuading him to change a vote to ensure the success of the whole conference.

pretty much every sordid event of his career was thrown at him, and surrounded by the volleys and the lefty audience quite hostile to him, (likely an understatement!), he barely missed a beat, the attacks rolled right off him like water off a duck.

he pulled the same deceased rabbit out of the greasy old top hat, with vigour and verve, and suspended it on the mythomaniac wave of pleasure he thrilled to: the sheer bliss of being the man of the moment, riding in once again to save italy from the commies/liberals/politicised magistrates, calumnising reporters with personal vendettas against his sacrosanctity, and the german banks.
even at his age, the ability to spout out infinite reams of wishful drivel and revised history was guinness record winning, like a cobra-charmer, all he craved was to use his hands, voice, and cheesy ersatz warmth to recommence his hypnotic monologorrhea mantra, already supremely confident the country will be again swayed by his ebullient showbiz spiel to sign up to support whichever prince his majesty would endorse.

luckily for all of us, his ego's monumentality has impeded him from really rooting even for his anointed successor alfani, whose servility is reminiscent of the medvedev-putin show, but more grotesquely obvious.

his only ally, the racist secessionary lega is in splintered schism.

the only way out of this mess is the 5* movement, but they have so far been finessed out of the action, ensuring the usual circus is coming back to town after the cooler phase of technocratic misgovernment, backwards to the OTT invective, alliances that last 5 minutes before someone's back gets the shiv, and yet another transgenic group of opportunists falls in one-night-stand vote-lust with new heartthrob soulmates. all falling down tragicomic buffoonery to monty python levels, and elections 5 weeks away, no clear parties, policies or leaders remotely capable of uniting more than an impotent sliver of the increasingly disenchanted electorate, mostly more into food and football than politics.

seems like they're throwing everything at the wall and nothing is sticking.  


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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 10:37:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wow melo, let it roll...

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 01:39:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlu: the conjurer with the deceased rabbit.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 02:12:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 04:04:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, busted!

'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 Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:11:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The only people I can think of that come close would be Lomborg or Blair. Seems like he's in a class of his own.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 05:11:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - it's a sales job. And he's a greasy salesman. So he's perfect for it.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 07:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zeman To Face Schwarzenberg In Czech Presidential Runoff
Leftist former Prime Minister Milos Zeman and conservative current Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will face each other in the runoff to become president of the Czech Republic.

Results from the first round vote on January 11-12 showed Zeman in first with 24.2 percent, followed by Schwarzenberg with 23.4 percent.

The result is considered somewhat of a surprise, as preelection opinion polls had not suggested the 75-year-old Schwarzenberg would poll so high.

Zeman, 68, was prime minister from 1998 to 2002.

The runoff will be held on January 25-26.
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek New Democracy party HQ hit in gun attack | World news | The Guardian

Unidentified attackers opened fire on the Athens headquarters of Greece's governing New Democracy party with a Kalashnikov assault rifle early on Monday, in what the government said was a worrying escalation in political violence.

Police said a bullet pierced the window of the office that the conservative prime minister, Antonis Samaras, maintains in the building near the city centre, but no one was hurt.

The early morning gun assault follows a spate of makeshift bomb attacks against journalists and political figures in the past week, some claimed by leftist groups angry at Greece's deep financial crisis.

Greece is in the sixth year of a recession that has fuelled anger against foreign lenders and the political class, blamed by Greeks for bringing the country close to bankruptcy.

Addressing supporters outside his party office on Syngrou Avenue late on Monday, Samaras condemned the shooting.

"You can shoot a person or at building, as they did, but you cannot shoot democracy," he said. "Let them hear it then, those who must: democracy will not be terrorised."

Political violence is not uncommon in Greece but deadly attacks are rare.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:28:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Athens tax scandal becomes political thriller | Europe | DW.DE | 13.01.2013
How could suspected Greek tax evaders data simply disappear? This question may soon come before a parliamentary probe. At the center of the scandal is the country's former finance minister.

In the scandal involving the cover-up of alleged tax evader's bank accounts, Greece's former finance minister George Papaconstantinou may be forced to front an inquiry board. The reason: the former head of Greece's public finances is accused of removing relatives names from a list of Swiss bank account holders.

Named after Christine Lagarde, France's former finance minister and current head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the 'Lagarde-list' names nearly 2,000 Greeks holding bank accounts in Switzerland. An employee at HSBC in Geneva leaked the file and in 2010 Lagarde handed the dossier to her counterpart, Papaconstantinou, assuming the information would be of interest to Greek tax authorities.

The list mysteriously disappeared, but re-emerged in October last year when journalist Kostas Vaxevanis brought a second version to light, triggering a political tsunami in Athens. During his investigation into the content of the document, Finance Minister Jannis Stournaras requested the French government re-send a copy of the original file. It was only then, when the two were compared, that it became evident the names of three of the former minister's relatives had been deleted.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Euroskepticism Grows: German Warnings to Britain Fall on Deaf Ears - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Growing ranks of euroskeptics in the UK have Prime Minister Cameron scrambling to adjust his country's relationship with the EU. And diplomatic warnings from Germany and the US against such measures have only further encouraged anti-EU voices there. Lieber Nutzer, Sie verwenden offenbar eine veraltete Version des Internet Explorers. Dieses Programm wird vom Hersteller nicht mehr unterstützt. Bitte nutzen Sie zu Ihrer eigenen Sicherheit einen aktuellen Browser.

Gunther Krichbaum is a quiet man who rarely makes front-page news in Germany. But the member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) did just that in the United Kingdom last week.

"One of Angela Merkel's closest allies has warned David Cameron not to try to blackmail the rest of Europe," wrote the Guardian. The tabloid Daily Mail called Krichbaum's remarks "effrontery." And Douglas Carswell, a parliamentarian with Prime Minister Cameron's Conservative Party, said that Britons "don't want to live a life directed by Germany."

The comments were sparked by statements Krichbaum made in London after traveling there with a delegation of German parliamentarians for political talks. Krichbaum, who chairs the European affairs committee of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, had warned against the UK's possible isolation within the European Union, saying that it "cannot be in Britain's interest."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:29:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Growing exasperation' with Britain over EU | Europe | DW.DE | 11.01.2013

DW: Professor Begg, you argue that current trends are making a British exit from the European Union more likely. What impact do the comments from the Obama administration have in this debate?

Iain Begg: I think what this tells us is that there's a growing tide of voices saying to Cameron, "Be careful what you wish for here because it's going to have negative repercussions for you."

So would you say that other leaders are losing patience with Britain - an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Gunther Krichbaum, also said this week that a UK referendum may "paralyse Europe?"

Well, it's more than them. Britain's natural allies inside the European Union such as Sweden or Poland ... they're getting exasperated as well with Britain's stance. What they see is a Britain which is coming to every meeting saying almost like a member of the Russian Politbüro 'Niet!' 'No! We don't want anything to happen. You may go ahead but if it involves us in any way we're going to block it', and that's causing considerable frustration amongst other leaders, which I think is going to compromise Britain's position both in its capacity to influence new actions and its political clout.

Do you think this will have any effect on David Cameron as he prepares to give his much-awaited speech on Europe later this month?

I think what David Cameron has done is to fall into something of a trap, where he's been talking about this big speech for several months now. And yet it's led to a position where if he doesn't promise something substantial - and in this regard that would mean a referendum on Britain's continuing membership of the European Union - he's going to be seen as weak by the more euroskeptic members of his own party, and indeed by the British population in general. And if he tries to promise too much, he's going to encounter resistance from his fellow leaders in the European Union. So he's in a trap, where he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Do you agree with the suggestion put forward by Philip Gordon that any referendum on Britain's role in Europe would be damaging in some way?

Yes, a referendum of any sort is going to be damaging.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:30:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
British PM Cameron to give Europe speech on January18 | Reuters

British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a major speech on January 18 in the Netherlands spelling out how he wants to renegotiate his country's relationship with the European Union, his official spokesman said on Monday.

"He sees it as important to set out his view about it being in the British national interest to remain in the European Union, though (with) a changed relationship," the spokesman said.

Cameron has repeatedly said he wants Britain to remain in the EU but has made it clear he intends to try to repatriate a wide range of powers from the bloc in policy areas where his ruling Conservative party believes Brussels' influence has become overbearing and pernicious.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:32:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Institutional Affairs / Unknown hackers stealing EU files for past five years

Russian Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab says unknown hackers have been stealing EU and Nato-encrypted files.

The operation - dubbed "Red October" - claimed victims in embassies, government and military institutions in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

It also hit Australia, Iran, Israel, Russia and the US, among others.

But Belgium, the home of the EU and Nato headquarters, saw 15 separate breaches - the fourth highest number of any country on the list.

Over the past five years, the hackers pulled material, such as files, as well as keystroke history and Internet browsing history, from desktop and laptop computers, servers and USB sticks.

They also stole contact lists, call history and SMS-es from iPhone, Nokia and Windows Mobile smartphones.

In some cases, they hunted for files with extensions "acidcsa, acidsca, aciddsk, acidpvr, acidppr, acidssa," which "appear to refer to the classified software 'Acid Cryptofiler,' which is used by several entities such as the European Union and/or Nato," Kaspersky Lab said in its report.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:35:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US government could access EU citizens' online data : theparliament.com
An EU-commissioned study has warned that US authorities could use the renewed foreign intelligence and surveillance amendments act to access data that Europeans have stored on US-based social media sites, says Deutsche Welle.

The broadcaster reports that Greens MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht said that US data protection law "only applies to US citizens", meaning EU citizens' data stored on US servers would not be protected from access by a third party.

The adoption of the EU's data protection act is planned for 2014, at the earliest, and Albrecht has advised users to store their data on Europe-based cloud computing services until the privacy of their data can be guaranteed.
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
has advised users to store their data on Europe-based cloud computing services until the privacy of their data can be guaranteed.

Ha ha ha!

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 07:02:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: Berlusconi is closing the gap (15.01.2013)
The latest Italian polls show a narrowing in the gap between the centre-left and the centre-right; the centre-left is still likely to emerge as the largest political grouping, but the majority situation is becoming unclear; one poll has the gap now down to 4.5%; Mario Monti called Silvio Berlusconi the Pied Piper and warned that a return of Berlusconi  would undo all of his efforts; he says it is too early to talk about an alliance with Pier Luigi Bersani's Partito Democratico, while Bersani reiterated his idea of a pact with the centre; the latest Italian industrial product figures are  almost 25% down on their 2008 levels, and over 8% over the year; Italian business confidence has reached the lowest point since 2009; Italian debt to GDP has risen to 126%; French spending ministries face new rules to curb overspending; measures include a self-correction rule, which says that ministries must cover any overdraft by savings elsewhere in the department; the Banque de France proposes to cut savings account interest rates to 1.75%; President Francois Hollande's popularity has shot up suddenly as the French admire his triple whammy on Mali, labour reform, and his firm stance against anti-gay marriage protesters; the Greek parliament passed a multi-bill of savings measures and economic reforms; more details on the attack on the ND headquarters emerge, which was a serious, well-orchestrated terror attack; the Red Cross warns about child poverty and hunger in Catalonia, and has started a fund-raising campaign; the economic crisis has led to a massive reduction in traffic in Spain; with mostly expenditure based austerity, Spain's effective tax rate has dropped to a new record; a survey shows that house prices are still overvalued in Spain, and especially France, but undervalued in Germany; the deputy governor of the Irish central bank warns of the risk of an abrupt increase in bond yields; the EBA and ESMA have released their fat finger report on mispricing of Euribor money market interest rates; Peter Spiegel, meanwhile, warns of a return of complacency in the way the eurozone handles the crisis policies.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 03:44:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
YLE | PM Katainen: 'No' to Nordic defence pact.

"Discussion of a defence pact is currently not on the agenda and I don't know if it ever will be. Now is the time to concentrate on defence co-operation at a practical level," the [Finland] Prime Minister commented.

No to a "defense pact."  Yes to "defense co-operation."


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

by ATinNM on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 01:41:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:28:29 PM EST
EU draft bank rescue plan says countries must share burden: FT | Reuters

Struggling euro zone countries seeking future aid from the region's rescue fund to prevent their banks collapsing will have to share the cost burden, according to a draft euro zone proposal seen by the Financial Times.

Countries asking for help would have to either invest alongside the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) or guarantee it against any losses, according to the plan, which the newspaper said had been circulated in late 2012 among finance ministry officials.

In a major step last June, EU leaders agreed to allow the ESM to directly recapitalize banks and reduce the burden on countries such as Spain and Ireland, whose governments are carrying large amounts of debt after propping up banks when real estate bubbles burst.

But Germany, the Netherlands and Finland have since said there was never any question of past bad banking debts being shifted off the states' books and onto the ESM.

The FT said the two-page European Commission draft proposal would force countries that could afford it to put their own funds into failing banks before the ESM would pay out.

If a country faced insolvency following a bank bailout, it would still need to guarantee that the ESM would get its money back, it said.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German firms lead the EU in innovation, data show | EurActiv

Among the 27 EU member states, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium have the highest proportions of enterprises with innovation activity, according to a Eurostat survey.

The survey by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, focuses on product and process innovation, as well as organisational and marketing innovation.

Only enterprises with at least 10 employees were covered and the sectors included in the survey were - among others - manufacturing, telecommunications, transportation, financial and insurance activities, wholesale trade and publishing. 

Fifty-three percent of enterprises from industry and services in the EU reported innovation activity between 2008 and 2010.

In the ranking, Germany takes the lead with 79% innovative enterprises, followed by Luxembourg (68%) and Belgium (61%). Next comes,  Portugal, Sweden and Ireland with 60% of the companies considered "innovative".

The lowest proportion of innovation is found in Bulgaria (27%), Poland (28%), Latvia (30%), Romania (31%) and Hungary (also 31%).

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurozone showing signs of recovery, says IMF chief | Business | The Guardian

The head of the International Monetary Fund has fuelled hopes that the European financial crisis is easing by predicting the region will grow this year.

Christine Lagarde said she saw the "beginnings of recovery" in the eurozone, currently in recession, as measures taken by individual countries and efforts to stabilise the single currency union started to pay off. "It's clearly the case that investors are returning to the eurozone, and resuming confidence in that market," Lagarde told BBC World Service on Monday.

Lagarde also predicted Greece would enjoy a better 2013 than expected, after "a huge and massive effort" to cut spending and reduce its deficit. "The country is going to turn out better results than what was even planned - but it has to continue doing a massive effort on collection of revenue and collection of tax," she added.

The IMF chief's comments echo optimism from the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, and EC president, José Manuel Barroso. They helped send the euro up to 83.28p against the pound, its highest level since April 2012.

Traders blamed the pound's weakness on fears that Britain was heading into a triple-dip recession, speculation that its AAA rating was flaky, and jitters over a referendum over Britain's membership of the EU.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:56:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Economic Affairs / Schaeuble: Greece has 'no alternative' to austerity
German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Monday (14 January) urged Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras to drop his opposition to bailout-linked austerity measures, saying there is "no alternative" if Greece wants to stay in the eurozone.

It was the first time the veteran minister and ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel received the young leftist leader, who has blamed Germany for the hardships which Greek people are enduring.

"If there are disagreements, it is good to have a dialogue," Schaeuble's spokeswoman Silke Bruns told a press briefing on Monday morning.

After the meeting, the positions of the two men did not appear to have moved any closer, however.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:56:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany could save some money if they fired Schaeuble and bought a parrot to shriek "TINA!  TINA!  Austerity!  Austerity!"

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 01:46:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama refuses to negotiate debt ceiling raise | Reuters

President Barack Obama on Monday rejected any negotiation with Republicans over the most pressing U.S. fiscal issue, refusing to trade cuts in government spending in exchange for raising the borrowing limit.

"If the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt and our deficit - if that's the conversation we're having, I'm happy to have that conversation," Obama said. "What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people," he told a news conference.

Republican leaders quickly reiterated their demand that increasing the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts.

With an agreement to prevent the so-called fiscal cliff of sharp spending cuts and tax increases barely two weeks old, Obama faces another fiscal showdown with congressional Republicans.

A trio of deadlines looms around the end of February: the need to raise the debt ceiling, automatic deep spending cuts temporarily put off in the fiscal cliff deal, and the end of a stopgap government funding measure.

The United States could default on its debt if the borrowing limit is not increased.

Some Republicans have said they would require dollar-for-dollar spending cuts to match any increase in the debt limit. Obama's unexpected news conference could have been a pre-emptive strike aimed at influencing strategy sessions among Republican lawmakers scheduled for later this week.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 05:57:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ugly Choices Loom Over Debt Clash - WSJ.com

The showdown over the nation's debt ceiling could force the government to consider drastic steps to manage its limited cash, including delaying trillions of dollars of payments to employees, Social Security recipients, contractors and others.

The Obama administration has said it has no backup plan to pay the government's bills if Congress refuses to raise the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit. The White House said Saturday in a statement that "there are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or it can fail to act and put the nation into default."

The Treasury could be forced to revisit proposals it considered during the 2011 borrowing-limit crisis, most of which it said were unworkable. Those included selling assets such as gold or mortgage-backed securities to raise funds, cutting all spending by 40% or prioritizing some payments over others--for example, paying Social Security recipients before military contractors.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:01:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The New Old Year by Richard N. Haass - Project Syndicate
Any look back at 2012 would necessarily focus on three parts of the world: the eurozone, with its seemingly endless financial uncertainties; the Middle East, with its many upheavals, including, but hardly limited to, the Muslim Brotherhood's accession to power in Egypt and Syria's savage civil war, which has already claimed more than 60,000 lives; and the Asia-Pacific region, with its rising nationalism and political tensions after decades of being defined almost exclusively by extraordinary economic growth amid considerable political calm.

But which issues will dominate 2013? In no small part, as the French are fond of saying, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Thus, we can safely predict ongoing difficulty throughout Europe, as the countries of the south, in particular, struggle to reduce public spending in order to align their fiscal policies with actual economic capacity.

What might be different this year is that France, rather than Greece and Spain, could well be at the center of the storm. This would pose fundamental, even existential questions for Germany, the other half of a tandem that has been at the heart of the European project since World War II. The likelihood that Europe as a whole will experience little, if any, economic growth will make matters all the more difficult for officials in governments, banks, and regional institutions.

Likewise, the Middle East remains in the early phase of a revolutionary transition. In a year, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will almost certainly still be in power, but it is not so clear how he will use that power - and what Egypt will look like politically and economically as a result. Recent disagreements over the drafting of a new constitution reveal a deeply divided society and a government that appears to equate (and confuse) majority rule with democracy.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:34:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:28:33 PM EST
Mali conflict: France has opened gates of hell, say rebels | World news | The Guardian

Islamist fighters in Mali captured a central town on Monday as a ferocious campaign of air strikes by French warplanes aimed at halting their advance entered its fourth day.

Despite intensive bombardments, the fundamentalist insurgents pushing south towards the capital, Bamako, overran the central town of Diabaly, just 250 miles to the north.

An Islamist militant leader warned the French government its intervention in Mali had opened the "gates of hell".

France's defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that in a counter-offensive heavily armed rebels "took Diabaly after fierce fighting and resistance from the Malian army that couldn't hold them back".

France immediately extended its bombardment of the Islamists with air strikes in central Mali.

While officials in Paris declared they were "satisfied" with Operation Serval, as the French military intervention is codenamed, the military was also reporting unexpectedly fierce resistance in the west of the country.

Le Drian said the situation was "evolving favourably", but admitted: "There remains a difficult point to the west where we have to deal with extremely well-armed groups."

The Islamists' advance on Monday came as fighter jets dropped bombs and strafed their camps and convoys.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Second French soldier dies after Somalia raid, says rebel group | World news | guardian.co.uk

A second French soldier has died from gunshot wounds after an attempt to rescue a French agent failed at the weekend, according to Somalia's al-Shabaab rebel group.

The al-Qaida-linked militants put up fierce resistance when French forces went into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness on Saturday to try to free Denis Allex, held hostage since 2009.

The outcome of the mission was unclear. The French president, François Hollande, said on Saturday the operation had failed despite the "sacrifice" of two soldiers and "no doubt the assassination of our hostage".

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:03:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US admits role in French mission in Somalia - Americas - Al Jazeera English

US president Barack Obama says American forces assisted in a failed attempt to rescue a French secret agent captured by insurgents in Somalia.

"United States combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed. These aircraft did not employ weapons during the operation," Obama said in his letter to to Congress on Sunday.

Obama said the troops provided limited technical support to French forces leading the operation on Friday.

The president sent the letter to US legislators to fulfil his obligations under the War Powers Resolution, which requires him to inform policy-makers within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action without congressional authorisation.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:03:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.:Middle East Online::Algeria rides wave of war despite its support for political solution in Mali:.

Algeria has authorised French warplanes to use its airspace for bombing raids on neighbouring Mali, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday.

Fabius, who was speaking after French Rafale fighter jets bombed Islamist bases near Gao in northern Mali from their base in France, said Algeria's cooperation was indicative of the extent of international support for the intervention in Mali.

"Algeria has authorised the overflight of its territory, for which I thank them," Fabius said, adding that France was hopeful Algeria would provide further help to the campaign by denying Islamist radicals an escape route from the north of Mali.

"We are working with the Algerians and our discussions are ongoing. What we have in mind is that if African troops move into the north of the country the Algerians will have to close their border."

Algeria had been the most reticent of Mali's neighbours about the prospect of foreign troops being sent in to reclaim control of the north of the country, which the Islamists have occupied for some nine months.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:03:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Mali crisis: Who's who?

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Islamist Ansar Dine were the two major Tuareg groups involved in the takeover of the north of Mali - an area the size of France.

Other small groups have also taken part in the fighting, including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).

Despite having very different aims, MNLA and Ansar Dine have joined forces to fight together from time to time, including in the capture of Timbuktu - but there are serious tensions between them, which have bubbled over into clashes between the two groups.

The MNLA grouping wants independence for the Tuareg's northern homeland, which it calls Azawad.

Two important figures in the MNLA are the general secretary Bila Ag Cherif and Mohamed Ag Najim, the head of the movement's military wing.

In the ranks of the MNLA are Malian Tuareg who, while in exile in Libya, fought alongside Col Gaddafi's forces as he tried to cling to power.

Once he was toppled, they returned to Mali, well-trained and with plenty of heavy weaponry.

But it is the Islamists of Ansar Dine and Mujao who now control all three of the region's main cities - Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.

Both Ansar Dine, led by a renowned former Tuareg rebel leader Iyad Ag Ghaly, and Mujao have taken part in the rebel sweep south in early 2013.

An Ansar Dine spokesman said they had entered the central town of Konna for "jihad [holy war]".

The group has ties to al-Qaeda's north Africa branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which specialises in taking Westerners hostage for ransom. There are unconfirmed reports of foreign jihadist fighters, possibly including Nigeria's Boko Haram, setting up training camps in rebel-held areas.

It's been reported that Iyad al Ghaly was killed during an air strike.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
has welcomed the French intervention :

Mali: le MNLA pret à "aider" la France - BBC Afrique - Afrique Mali: MNLA ready to help France - BBC Africa - Africa

Les rebelles touareg du Mouvement national pour la libération de l'Azawad sont "prêts à aider" l'armée française à lutter contre les groupes islamistes armés du nord du Mali.

Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad are "ready to help" the French army to fight against armed Islamist groups in northern Mali.
"Nous soutenons absolument l'intervention aérienne française. Bien sûr nous sommes prêts à aider l'armée française", a déclaré un responsable du MNLA, Moussa Ag Assarid. "We absolutely support the intervention French airline. Of course we are ready to help the French army," said an official of the MNLA, Moussa Ag Assarid.
"Nous sommes ceux qui pouvons faire le travail au sol. Notre rôle pourrait être principal" a-t-il assuré, affirmant que le MNLA disposait "des hommes, des armes, et surtout de la volonté d'arriver au bout du terrorisme dans l'Azawad"."We are the ones who can do the ground work. Our main role could be "he said, saying the MNLA had" men, weapons, and especially the desire to reach the end of terrorism in the Azawad. "

Which could turn the tables completely. The MNLA originally "liberated" north Mali from the Bamako government, then was overrun by the various Islamist groups and faded from the scene. But it's an open question whether they actually have a fighting force on the ground, as many have joined Islamist militias and others have left for Mauritania.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 08:16:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few weeks ago, the MNLA tried to confront the MUJAO near Gao and got badly beaten. Then MUJAO forced them out of the last city they were holding : Menaka. It is said that many men from MNLA were lured to Ansar Ad-Din, which is Tuareg, too, but has got much more money than MNLA... So, their military strength is questionable. They might make good scouts, though...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 10:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Syria conflict causing 'staggering' humanitarian crisis

The Middle East faces a "staggering" humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in Syria, an aid agency says.

With more than 600,000 Syrians having fled the country, the International Rescue Committee is calling on the outside world to step up its response.

The US-based group describes the level of rape and sexual violence occurring in the conflict as "horrific".

In the latest violence, at least 13 people were killed in an air strike on a Damascus suburb, activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least eight children aged between six months and nine years old were among those killed in the attack on the rebel-held town of Muadhamiya. Several people were trapped under the rubble, the UK-based activist group added.

State television blamed "terrorists" for the deaths, saying they had fired a mortar at a civilian building.

The UN estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising, which began in March 2011.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:12:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rape has become `significant' part of Syrian war, says humanitarian group - The Washington Post

Rape has become a "significant and disturbing feature" of the war in Syria, one that many refugees cite as their leading reason for fleeing the country, according to a report released Monday by a New York-based humanitarian organization.

The victims are primarily women and girls who are attacked in public, at roadblocks or in their homes by "armed men." The report, by the International Rescue Committee, does not specify if those men are primarily from government forces or rebel fighters.

Family members are often forced to watch, according to the report, and gang rape is not uncommon. Meanwhile, it says, there is an "alarming lack" of medical and psychological support for survivors of these brutal attacks.

This sexual violence was "consistently identified by Syrian women, men and community leaders as a primary reason their families fled the country," according to the report, which is based on interviews in November with refugees, officials, aid workers and others in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

The number of Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries has grown to more than 600,000. Many live in refugee camps, while others pack into rented apartments or squat in schools, public buildings or sheds -- unsafe environments that the report says can lead to sexual assaults, elevated levels of domestic violence and early or forced marriages.

In Syria, sexual assault victims often do not report or publicize what happened for fear of retribution from their assailants or their own families, as the crime carries a painful stigma.

"No one wants to talk about it, because in a conservative society it is shameful to talk about it," said Hiba Alhaji, founder of the Free Syrian Women Organization. "They don't understand how these ladies are not to blame."

Alhaji is based in Turkey, which now has more than 150,000 registered refugees, and has tried to secure funding to start rehabilitation centers for rape victims. So far, she has had no luck.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Today is the second anniversary of the flight of former Tunisian President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali. But the new Tunisian republic's second birthday is not an especially happy one. A year ago, Tunisia was widely seen as the one Arab transitional country getting things right.  But today, there's much less optimism.  The economy continues to struggle, the constitution and elections remain unresolved, Islamist-secular polarization has intensified, and many complain about the over-reach of the ruling Ennahda party. Despair over Tunisia's fate has become as fashionable now as optimism was last year.   And as for Egypt... well, Egypt.  

How surprised should we really be with these travails, though? As I tried to persuade Nervana Mahmoud over Twitter this weekend, looking more broadly at other non-Arab cases might help.  Comparison only gets you part of the way, of course -- no, theory doesn't let you get away with not knowing your cases inside and out!  But at the least, a longer and wider comparative lens can help to show which parts of a country's political struggles are unique, demanding explanation in purely local terms, and which are common across many similar cases and therefore don't. 

Studying politics long enough usually somewhat lowers expectations about the virtues of democratic politics.  Democracy is usually ugly, messy, frustrating, and alienating -- even fully consolidated ones.  Politicians don't often set aside their self-interest for the greater good. Old elites generally don't just give up and walk away.  Opposition forces struggle for unity.  The media rarely avoids profitable sensationalism in the interest of rational public discourse. Intense competition with high stakes and uncertain results tends to drive mistrust, competition and fear.  Elections don't usually bring out the best in the political class.  Constitutional drafters disappoint. None of that means that democracy isn't worth pursuing -- quite the contrary! -- but a dose of realism can help innoculate against stampedes towards despair. 

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:13:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exclusive: Brazil wants Venezuela election if Chavez dies - sources | Reuters

Brazil is urging Venezuela's government to hold elections as quickly as possible if President Hugo Chavez dies, senior officials told Reuters on Monday, a major intervention by Latin America's regional powerhouse that could help ensure a smoother leadership transition in Caracas.

Brazilian officials have expressed their wishes directly to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Chavez has designated Maduro as his preferred successor if he loses his battle with cancer.

"We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible," one official said. "We think that's the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil's main desire."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:15:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Liberty-Driven" Fortress Community Being Planned In Idaho

A group of self-appointed "patriots" are moving forward with an idea for a planned community of several thousand families of "patriotic Americans" in Idaho, a project named The Citadel, envisioned as a "martial endeavor designed to protect Residents in times of peril (natural or man-made)."

(Artists conception of community on TPM if the image link fails.)

I'm missing a few things:

  • Temples (for healing potions and resurrections),
  • The Wizards'/Thieves'/Barbarians' Inns
  • neighbourhoods for elves and dwarves.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 05:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 05:13:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. I carefully constructed the "a" tag with an href, but forgot to put anything between the open and close. Doh.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 05:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did they forget to include a shipyard to build The Ark?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 05:50:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note the Farmers' Market, but the absence of farmes. Are we to suppose there are several square miles of farmland around The Citadel? Do the farmers live in Neighborhoods within the walls, or in their farms? Does the Martial community have to police the surrounding countryside to protect its farmers?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:20:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Farmers' Market seems a bit fancy/tofu/latte/metro/coastal/elitist.

(If this were comics curmudgeon I'd make a comment about Pluggers.)

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:26:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note also the "defensive walls" around the "neighborhoods", but the lack of such protection for "power" and "water".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:28:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With all those weapons in a confined space they're also going to need a hospital and a mortuary.

I guess they use slaves for farming like other civilised people do - probably old liberals, at a guess.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:44:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, it's pronounced "moochers".

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do the weapons have to do with it? Weapons don't kill people, people do.

Oh wait. They're going to have people as well....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 06:58:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a pity they've never heard of artillery.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 07:04:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zombies don't use artillery.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 07:55:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There aren't enough brains in there to attract them anyway.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 08:15:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People: the weak point of all social experiments since forever.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 07:31:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Elves? Prancing about in the forest? All that singing? Those walls are anti-elve walls.
by generic on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 07:59:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:28:37 PM EST
Domestic climate laws are essential, says UN | Environment | The Guardian

Governments must enact domestic laws on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions if international efforts to stall global warming are to succeed, according to the UN's climate chief.

Christiana Figueres, who is spearheading the push for a new global treaty on emissions, said that negotiations on a new agreement among nations would rely on progress being made on laws and regulations within countries, with the aim of cutting carbon or promoting alternatives to fossil fuels.

She said: "Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement. At the national level, it is clear that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition."

At an international conference in London on Monday she will urge more countries to set out national emissions plans or measures that benefit the development of low-carbon economies.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China, Mexico Leading Fight on Climate Change With New CO2 Laws - Bloomberg

China, Mexico and other emerging economies are leading the fight against climate change by passing laws to cut carbon and raise energy efficiency, the Globe International alliance of lawmakers said today.

A study of energy and climate laws in 33 economies showed 18 made "significant" progress in 2012, Globe said today in an e-mailed statement. The alliance, which brings together lawmakers from 70 nations, is meeting in London today and tomorrow to discuss ways in which governments can contribute to the international effort to contain global warming.

"This is a game-changing development, driven by emerging economies," said John Gummer, president of the group and a member of the U.K. upper chamber known as the House of Lords. "The tide is beginning to turn decisively on tackling climate change."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:17:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Climate change inaction the fault of environmental groups, report says | Environment | guardian.co.uk

A Harvard academic has put the blame squarely for America's failure to act on climate change on environmental groups. She also argues that there is little prospect Barack Obama will put climate change on the top of his agenda in his second term.

In a research paper, due to be presented at a Harvard forum next month, scholar Theda Skocpol in effect accuses the DC-based environmental groups of political malpractice, saying they were blind to extreme Republican opposition to their efforts.

Environmental groups overlooked growing opposition to environmental protections among conservatives voters and, underestimated the rising force of the Tea Party, believing - wrongly, as it turned out - they could still somehow win over Republican members of Congress through "insider grand bargaining".

That fatal misreading of the political realities - namely, the extreme polarisation of Congress and the Tea Party's growing influence among elected officials - doomed the effort to get a climate law through Congress. It will also make it more difficult to achieve climate action in the future, she added.

Skocpol, meanwhile, lets Obama off the hook for the political inaction on climate change, overturning the conventional wisdom among environmental leaders that political cowardice by the White House ultimately doomed climate legislation.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the conventional wisdom among environmental leaders that political cowardice by the White House ultimately doomed climate legislation.

So, instead, it would seem it's political cowardice by environmental groups.

Couldn't simply be that Republicans are batshit insane, could it?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 02:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Food Authority to open up GMO data : Nature News Blog

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today made public almost all supporting documents and data submitted by Monsanto for the authorization in 2003 of its genetically modified maize (corn) NK603. The data were released alongside the announcement by the EFSA that it intends to embark on a broad transparency initiative designed to make data from its risk assessments more available to the broad scientific community and other interested parties.

The move is consistent with the recommendations of an external evaluation of the EFSA by Ernst & Young last September, which called on the EFSA to increase transparency over how it reached its decisions on applications. James Ramsay, a spokesman for the EFSA, which is based in Parma, Italy, says that the plan to release more data in the future is still in the "very early stages" and that a final scheme will be announced after further discussion with stakeholders. The EFSA announcement follows a similar move by the European Medicines Agency, which this year will make public all clinical-trial data it gets from industry as part of product registration.

The EFSA said that it chose to make the NK603 data publicly available first because of the level of public interest in response to a French-led study published in September, which claimed that rats fed the maize or glyphosate herbicide suffered adverse health effects including increased incidence of tumours. The 500-MB download contains all data apart from a small amount of commercially confidential information, says Ramsay. The French study has been roundly criticized by scientists and authorities as being methodologically flawed.

"While the Authority has already made available these data upon specific request on several occasions, any member of the public or scientific community will now be able to examine and utilise the full data sets used in this risk assessment," the EFSA said in a statement.

Dig in.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:19:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Salmon runs boom, go bust over centuries
Salmon runs are notoriously variable: strong one year, and weak the next. New research shows that the same may be true from one century to the next.

Scientists in the past 20 years have recognized that salmon stocks vary not only year to year, but also on decades-long time cycles. One example is the 30-year to 80-year booms and busts in salmon runs in Alaska and on the West Coast driven by the climate pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Now work led by University of Washington researchers reveals those decadal cycles may overlay even more important, centuries-long conditions, or regimes, that influence fish productivity. Cycles lasting up to 200 years were found while examining 500-year records of salmon abundance in Southwest Alaska. Natural variations in the abundance of spawning salmon are as large those due to human harvest.

"We've been able to reconstruct what salmon runs looked like before the start of commercial fishing. But rather than finding a flat baseline -- some sort of long-term average run size -- we've found that salmon runs fluctuated hugely, even before commercial fishing started. That these strong or weak periods could persist for sometimes hundreds of years means we need to reconsider what we think of as 'normal' for salmon stocks," said Lauren Rogers, who did this work while earning her doctorate in aquatic and fishery sciences at the UW and is now a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Oslo, Norway.

Rogers is the lead author of a paper on the findings in the Jan. 14 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:21:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Chaos in the Logistic Map...

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 03:39:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lake Vostok Water Ice Obtained - Business Insider
Break out the vodka. The first confirmed sample of water from the subsurface Lake Vostok in Antarctica has been retrieved.

Almost a year ago, in February 2012 Russian scientists and engineers drilled to a depth of nearly 4,000 meters in the ice above Lake Vostok - a 1,300 cubic mile volume of liquid water thought to have formed some 20 million years ago and to have been effectively isolated from the outside world for at least 100,000 years and possibly for millions of years.

This was the culmination of a 23 year effort to reach the lake.

As I wrote in a previous piece back in 2012, Vostok presents an intriguing case for the study of both extreme organisms and evolutionary isolation, as well as an environment that parallels some of those that we think might exist elsewhere in the solar system - either in the subsurface of Mars, or on icy moons like Enceladus or even Europa.

Now it seems that perseverance may have paid off. By withdrawing the drill last year the scientists were able to allow the high pressure water in the lake to expand up into the borehole where it then froze. A strategy designed to minimize the chances of contaminating the lake from above.

Because that was at the end of the summer season last year, and the return of the brutal Antarctic winter, they had to wait until now to return and extract this core sample. Although previously retrieved samples may have come directly from the lake, this will be the first one that they know for sure originated in the liquid part of this immense underground structure.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:27:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Fast-food 'linked to childhood asthma and eczema'

Eating fast food three times a week may lead to asthma and eczema in children, say researchers who have looked at global disease and dietary patterns.

Data from more than 500,000 children in more than 50 countries suggests poor diet may be to blame for rising levels of these allergy-related conditions.

Those who ate fast food, such as take-away burgers, risked severe asthma, eczema and itchy, watery eyes.

Eating plenty of fruit appears to be protective, Thorax journal reports.

Fast food often contains high levels of saturated- and trans-fatty acids, which are known to affect immunity, while fruit is rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, say the researchers.

In the study, children in their early teens who ate three or more weekly servings of fast food had a 39% increased risk of severe asthma.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Caution: a great many studies establish apparent correlations between different foods and different pathologies. They are not all necessarily rigorous. (There was something about this recently, but I can't find it now).

This one, however, is part of an ongoing international study and looks serious. Unfortunately, the abstract doesn't give sample size.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 01:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:28:40 PM EST
Drugmakers suffer decline in trust, report says | EurActiv

The overall corporate reputation of pharmaceutical companies declined in 2012 compared to 2011, according to an independent study by patients' organisations.

The study - "The corporate reputation of pharma in 2012: the patient perspective" - is funded by PatientView, which represents 600 patient groups.

PatientView has focused on patients' impressions on the corporate reputation of 29 individual pharmaceutical companies, and the industry as a whole, in the study that was conducted from mid-November to mid-December.

Only 34% of the 600 patient groups responding to the 2012 survey state that multinational drug companies had an "excellent" or "good" reputation during 2012. In 2011 that figure was 42%.

Forty percent of the patient groups also state that the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry declined during 2012. As many as half of the 600 respondent patient groups say that industry had a "poor" record in 2012 for having fair pricing policies or for being transparent.

Lundbeck, a Danish company specialising in drugs for brain disorders, took first place in the ranking, despite an EU antitrust probe launched in 2010 over suspicions that it hindered the entry of a generic drug onto the European market.

It was followed by Gilead Sciences, and American company that concentrates on antiviral drugs and pulmonary diseases. Novartis, a Swiss company that sells drugs, vaccines and contact lenses among other things, came in third.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:29:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brussels eyes telecoms reform | EurActiv

The EU will set out reforms for a pan-European telecommunications market this year to support competition and investment in the sector, the bloc's telecoms chief, Neelie Kroes, said in a newspaper interview today (14 January).

"We're working on a range of measures to create common and stable conditions across the EU for telecoms competition, investment and growth, which should also make cross-border consolidation more attractive," the European commissioner for digital agenda said in comments published by the Financial Times.

Kroes said she was not seeking a single regulator, but greater cooperation between the European Commission and national regulators, as well as asset-sharing between companies to promote investment.

The comments followed a report in the business newspaper on Wednesday that EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia had met with the heads of Europe's big telecoms groups to discuss a pan-European infrastructure network.

Those talks, attended by executives from Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, KPN and Belgacom, ended with a promise to look into ways that a single European telecoms market could work, writes the FT.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:34:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species - Bloomberg

Pubic lice, the crab-shaped insects that have dwelled in human groins since the beginning of history, are disappearing. Doctors say bikini waxing may be the reason.

Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair -- part of a trend that's increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney's main sexual health clinic hasn't seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.

"It used to be extremely common; it's now rarely seen," said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales's Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. "Without doubt, it's better grooming."

The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe's most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren't known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:36:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a hazardous pest.

Of course I read "pet".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 01:41:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Lice", not "mice".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 15th, 2013 at 02:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Ancient migration: Genes link Australia with India

Australia experienced a wave of migration from India about 4,000 years ago, a genetic study suggests.

It was thought the continent had been largely isolated after the first humans arrived about 40,000 years ago until the Europeans moved in in the 1800s.

But DNA from Aboriginal Australians revealed there had been some movement from India during this period.

The researchers believe the Indian migrants may have introduced the dingo to Australia.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they say that the fossil record suggests the wild dogs arrived in Australia at around the same time.

They also suggest that Indians may have brought stone tools called microliths to their new home.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:39:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Identical twins die after seeking euthanasia when they discovered they would go blind and never see each other again - Europe - World - The Independent

A pair of identical twins have died after seeking euthanasia when they discovered they were both going blind.

The 45-year-old twins were born deaf and requested to die after being told they would never see each other again.

In a unique case under Belgium's euthanasia laws, doctors at Brussels University Hospital ended the twins' lives by lethal injection on December 14.

The brothers, who have not been named, had spent their entire lives living together and both worked as cobblers.

In 2011, there were 1,133 cases of euthanasia in Belgium, making up around one per cent of deaths in the country.

Euthanasia in Belgium differs from Switzerland, where the famous Dignitas clinic is based, in that patients can have their lives terminated as opposed to relying on `assisted suicide'.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:28:44 PM EST
Berlin bank robbers dug 30-metre tunnel into safe | World news | guardian.co.uk

Robbers dug a 30-metre (100-foot) tunnel into the safe deposit room of a Berlin bank and escaped with their haul, setting a fire as they left to cover their tracks, according to German police.

Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said the tunnel led from an underground garage into the bank's safe deposit room.

Neuendorf told The Associated Press Monday that the tunnel was "very professional" and must have taken weeks or even months to complete. It was elaborately constructed and even had ceiling supports.

Police were alerted to the break-in early on Monday when a security guard noticed smoke coming from the deposit room.

Neuendorf says police are still trying to determine what valuables were stolen from the deposit boxes.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 06:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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