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

29 January 2013

by Nomad Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:24:50 PM EST

Your take on today's news media

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by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:27:11 PM EST
Czechs elect pro-European Miloš Zeman for president | EurActiv

Miloš Zeman, a leftist former prime minister seen as pro-European, won the Czech Republic's first direct presidential election on Saturday (26 January), marking a departure from the late Eurosceptic President Václav Klaus, who had pushed the country towards the margins of the European Union.

Zeman, 68, who favours more integration within the European Union, won by 54.8% to 45.2% over his conservative opponent, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, according to results from 99.9% of voting districts.

Zeman had accused Schwarzenberg of favouring foreign interests in a bitter electoral campaign.

Zeman, an economic forecaster who was a Communist Party member before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, is expected to steer Czechs closer to Europe's mainstream.

The anti-EU rhetoric of outgoing President Klaus, who succeeded late playwright Václav Havel, has pushed the country towards the margins of the EU.

Czech presidents do not wield much day-to-day power but represent the country abroad and appoint prime ministers, central bankers and judges.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is expected to steer Czechs closer to Europe's mainstream.

Now where would that be?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Away from the will of the people.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:17:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Far, far away to the happy land where the lucky people live; Davos

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A definite Eyes of the Overworld feel to it.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This makes it appear as if Schwarzenberg was a heir to Klaus's Eurosceptic line, but in fact he is a pro-European too. Meanwhile, Zeman is Klaus's heir in terms of bad manners, and in nationalism, too.

Radio Prague - Beneš decrees re-surface in Czech presidential race

The campaign ahead of the Czech presidential election's second round has heated up following remarks by one of the candidates, Karel Schwarzenberg, about the so-called Beneš decrees. Mr Schwarzenberg's denouncement of the post-war legislation which sanctioned the expulsions of ethnic Germans prompted an attack by his rival for the post, Miloš Zeman. The outgoing president Václav Klaus, has also weighed in, openly criticizing Mr Schwarzenberg's position.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:16:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dutch Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne - NETHERLANDS - FRANCE 24

Dutch Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 on Thursday, announced she was abdicating in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, who will become king on April 30.

Willem-Alexander, 45, is married to Princess Maxima Zorrigueta and has three young children. Decades of grooming for the throne involved shaking off his image as a beer-drinking fraternity boy whose blunt comments upset the press and politicians.

Beatrix said in a television broadcast to the nation that she was stepping down because she felt her son was ready to take her place on the throne.

A constitutional monarchy, the Netherlands had reduced the involvement of the Royal House in politics, a role long seen more as a formality than a position of power.

In the past, the Queen took part in forming government coalitions by appointing a political mediator, raising questions about behind-the-scenes influence on the democratic process.

That role was scrapped before the last election, which took place in September 2012.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:36:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DutchNews.nl - The queen's abdication speech in full

As you all know, in a few days from now I hope to celebrate my 75th birthday. I am thankful to be able to do so in good health. At the end of this year, we will commemorate the fact that our country became a monarchy 200 years ago, an event which heralded a new era in our history.

The two events together have brought me to the decision to abdicate this year. It seems to me the time is ripe to take this step, which I have been contemplating for some years now.

I have always considered it a special privilege to have spent a large portion of my life in the service of our country and to fulfil the task of monarch. Prince Claus, for many years, was my great support.

This wonderful task has never given me anything but great satisfaction. It has been inspiring to have been involved with the lives of people, to share their grief and to experience moments of joy and national pride. I have met with the same warmth and sympathy from the people in the Caribbean parts of our kingdom.

I do not abdicate, therefore, because the task has become an onerous one, but because I am convinced that the responsibility for out country should now be placed in the hands of a new generation.

It is with a feeling of the highest confidence that on the 30th of April I will hand over the crown to my son, the prince of Orange. He and princess Máxima are fully prepared for their future task. They will serve the country devotedly, keep it according to the constitution and will use their many talents to make the monarchy their own.

I feel heartened in the knowledge that my abdication does not mean I will have to say goodbye to you. I hope to meet many of you again in the future. I am deeply grateful for your faith in me during the many wonderful years that I have been privileged enough to be your queen.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:36:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was discussed on a couple of TV programmes over here and the consensus was "don't do it Liz, save us from Charles for as long as possible

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver.com / Foreign Affairs / Russia to cut Ukraine, EU gas in 'next few days,' expert predicts

Russia will cut gas flows to Ukraine "in the next few days," impacting EU countries, but only if the weather stays warm, a Ukrainian expert predicts.

Mihail Gonchar - a director of the Sevastopol-based think tank, Nomos, and a go-to source for EU diplomats in Ukraine - told EUobserver on Monday (28 January) that a huge invoice sent last week by Moscow to Kiev is the prelude to a new "gas war."

"According to Russia's standard practice, we must expect an acceleration of events from their side. I mean, we must expect them to cut gas supplies in the next few days or next week at the latest," he said.

He noted that Russia's Nord Stream pipeline to Germany means it can attack Ukraine without hurting its main EU ally.

South-eastern EU states, such as Bulgaria and Romania, which depend on Ukrainian transit, would suffer. But Gonchar said Russian firm Gazprom lost so much money and credibility in the last gas war, in 2009, it will only take the step if the weather stays good enough for EU countries not to suffer too much.

"The warmer the weather, the more ready Gazprom will be to interrupt gas supplies to Ukraine ... We have very positive weather forecasts for now," he added.

The threat arose in a letter from Gazprom to Ukrainian distributor Naftogaz last week saying it must pay an extra $7 billion for last year.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:37:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's that time of year again.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 04:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yup the credit card bill from Christmas is due.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 05:32:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and as europe devolves economically, it sure makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside how we've put all our eggs in the gas basket, and aour trust in mother russia to keep us toasty through the winter...

what could possibly etc?

'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 29th, 2013 at 07:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPD Candidate Steinbrück to Be Kept on Tight Leash in Campaign - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Peer Steinbrück, the SPD candidate running against Chancellor Angela Merkel in a September general election, is still seen as a risk to the party's prospects despite a recent boost from Lower Saxony. Damaged by a string of gaffes, he will be kept on a tighter rein and only have a limited say in campaign strategy.

The highlight of the tour is a 1.5-ton bull called Hoeness. Peer Steinbrück, doing the rounds at the International Green Week farming trade fair in Berlin last Friday, stood at the gate and admired the Bavarian beast, renowned for his prodigious breeding capabilities.

Hoeness' most remarkable feature is his lack of horns, said a farm worker, adding that his offspring even inherited that. "Ah, I've only just noticed that," said Steinbrück. Then he quipped, "you couldn't do that with me!"

Steinbrück, picked by the opposition center-left Social Democrats to challenge Chancela Angela Merkel in the general election in September, strolled from stand to stand and constantly had to sample foods such as venison salami, marinated herring, strawberry ice cream and meat in aspic, in between shaking hands and posing for photos with prospective voters.

This was an exercise in getting close to the public -- something Steinbrück doesn't always get right. After an hour, his entourage passed a group of schoolchildren, who laughed and waved. It would have been a nice picture, the candidate and the children, but instead of walking over to the group of youngsters, he hesitated.

"You don't even know who we are," the candidate growled. He gave a thin smile, passed up the photo op and walked on. Later, when Steinbrück went on stage to make a statement in the exhibition hall of the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the crowd booed.

It was his first public appearance since the state election in Lower Saxony on Feb. 20.

The election went well for the SPD -- together with the Greens, it won enough votes to oust Merkel's conservatives from the state government, giving the center-left a much-needed boost ahead of the general election. But Steinbrück, supposedly the face of the party in this election year, was kept in the background all last week while the party's other leaders took center stage to wax lyrical about the outcome.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:38:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hoeness' most remarkable feature is his lack of horns, said a farm worker, adding that his offspring even inherited that. "Ah, I've only just noticed that," said Steinbrück. Then he quipped, "you couldn't do that with me!"

Mr Berlusconi, your reply?

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 05:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
`Brexit' debate should not derail EU budget talks: Lewandowski | EurActiv

A potential British exit from the European Union should not influence the ongoing negotiations on the EU budget for 2014-2020, according to Janusz Lewandowski, the EU's budget commissioner.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on Britain's EU membership if he is re-elected in 2015, saying he will provide voters with a clear in/out choice.

But the outcome is far from certain and should not derail ongoing talks on the EU's budget for 2014-2020, Lewandowski said on Friday (25 January).

"We need long-term commitment from the UK as a precondition for the budget until 2020.  Even with a referendum in 2017, I think we cannot expect an immediate exit, it should be somehow on the horizon 2020," Lewandowski said, speaking at the European Policy Centre, a Brussels think tank.

London wants to go further and freeze the EU budget at its 2011 level, allowing only an inflationary adjustment that would effectively trim the Commission's budget proposal by €200 billion over the next seven years (2014-2020).

EU national leaders are meeting on 7-8 February in another attempt to reach agreement on the Union's long-term budget after a first summit failed in November.

Hypothetically, what happens to the budget when the UK persists in voting it down?

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:41:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence Daily Morning Newsbriefing: The MPS plot thickens: prosecutors discover €17bn in transfers, including suspected bribes (29.01.2013)
Siena prosecutors have discovered suspicious bank transfers over an eleven month period, which they suspect may have been used to pay bribes; MPS faces two tax audits in connection with the loss-making derivatives transactions; a consumer group is seeking a court order to block state aid to MPS; Ignazio Visco says everything is ok, no need for extraordinary measures, Bank of Italy not to blame for anything; Mario Draghi has briefed Vittorio Grilli at a meeting in Milan on the details of the Bank of Italy's involvement in the scandal; Italy's market regulator Consob has also woken up, and launched its own investigation; Mario Monti said there may be austerity this year, but a decision will only come after the elections; Pier Luigi Bersani distances himself further from Monti, and rules out a coalition, as well as further austerity; Confidustria declares the crisis to be almost over, but says falling disposal income poses big risks; Italian nominal wages rise by 1.5% in 2012, but fall by 1.5% in real terms; The Greek securities regulator has removed a short-sell ban on shares except bank stocks; Greek household and bank deposits are slowly returning; Dimitry Medvedev said Russia is considering extending its loan to Cyprus on condition of adequate burden sharing with the EU; Ireland's creditors have shelved a plan to deal with tracker mortgages amid disagreements on how to value such mortgages;  the EFTA confirms Iceland is not obliged to reimburse the British and Dutch governments;  Vangelis Mandravelis says a lack of knowhow and manpower had derailed the privatisation process in Greece;  Martin Schulz says Spain must do a lot more on youth unemployment; the troika has descended on Madrid to check on the implementation of the memorandum; the latest money supply and credit data show a further contraction of the monetary economy; the lacklustre increase in M3 may have been affected by financial flows from the Spanish banks to the new bad bank; data show that foreign investors are returning to Spain; Hans Werner Sinn and Harald Hau, meanwhile, argue that the European Commission's proposals on bank resolution bring huge risks to European taxpayers.

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 29th, 2013 at 04:16:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:27:14 PM EST
ECB Chief Draghi Clashes With German Finance Minister Over Cyprus - SPIEGEL ONLINE
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi confronted German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble last week to criticize his stance on Cyprus and said failure to bail out the island nation could threaten the euro zone.

At a meeting of EU finance ministers last week, Draghi contradicted Schäuble's view that Cyprus was not "systemically relevant," a term that implied it wouldn't endanger the euro zone if it went bankrupt.

Draghi told Schäuble that he often heard that argument from lawyers, even though the question of whether Cyprus was systemically relevant or not was not one that lawyers could answer. That, said Draghi, was a matter for economists. Schäuble is a trained lawyer.

Draghi was backed by the European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn as well as the head of the European Stability Mechanism, Klaus Regling.

The three pointed out to Schäuble that the two biggest banks in Cyprus had a large network of branches in Greece. If any doubt were cast on the safety of deposits held with those banks, the uncertainty of Greek savers could quickly spread to Greek banks, which would represent a major setback for Greece.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iceland wins court case against UK, Dutch savers | EurActiv

The court of the European Free trade Area (EFTA) has ruled today (28 January) in favour of the Icelandic bank Icesave in a row over compensations to hundreds of thousands of savers from the UK and the Netherlands who lost their money when the bank collapsed in late 2008.

The EFTA court, which is located in Luxembourg, dismissed an application by the EFTA surveillance authority (ESA), which claimed that Iceland had failed to comply with an obligation to ensure compensation of €20,000 minimum to Icesave depositors in the UK and Netherlands.

The Icelandic banking sector collapsed during the global financial crisis in 2008 and the customers of Icesave-on-line savings accounts lost access to their deposits in the autumn. The Icelandic Depositors' and Investors' Guarantee Fund should have been put to contribution to compensate savers up to a minimum amount, according to the EU Directive 94/19/EC on deposit-guarantee schemes. However, no such payments were made, leading Britain and the Netherlands to seek legal action in 2011.

In the ruling, the Court held that the Directive did not envisage the obligation to ensure payment to depositors in the bank's Dutch and British branches in the in a systemic crisis of the magnitude experienced in Iceland. How to proceed in a case where the guarantee scheme was unable to cope with its payment obligations remained largely unanswered by the Directive, the court said.

According to the website MarketWatch, following the court ruling Iceland won't have to cover a total of €6.7 billion to 300,000 UK savers and 125,000 Dutch customers.

The UK and Dutch governments fully compensated citizens who had parked money in the failed bank, then sought to get Iceland to pay them back. The British government even invoked anti-terror legislation to freeze UK-held assets of Landsbanki and Iceland's central bank, creating a diplomatic firestorm, MarketWatch reminds.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:31:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is good news. I'm pleased for Iceland which went about dealing with its bankers the correct way, they jailed the scum

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Davos Money Men Say World Emerges From Doldrums Fretting Relapse - Bloomberg

Scarred by the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression (INDU) and the hubris that preceded it, bankers, investors and policy makers who gathered in Davos, Switzerland, last week gave a guarded welcome to signs of recovery in the world economy and the endurance of the euro region.

"Optimism, but with a sober tone," was how Bank of America Corp. (BAC) Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan characterized the mood pervading the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, even as investors were lifting the Standard & Poor's 500 Index above 1,500 for the first time since 2007.

The sentiment in Davos was "totally different" when stocks last reached that peak, said Harvard University economics professor Kenneth Rogoff, 59. This year, executives from Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) were quick to couple upbeat assessments with warnings that economies remain fragile and prone to policy error. Some bankers fretted that credit bubbles may be forming as central banks pump out cash.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Investors At Davos Feared 1994 Moment - Business Insider
Morgan Stanley bank analyst Huw Van Steenis attended the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, and there was one concern he said kept coming up over and over in meetings with investors.

The dreaded "1994 scenario."

In 1994, against the backdrop of a strengthening U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve surprised investors by hiking interest rates, causing a bloodbath in the bond market. The Fed was trying to ward off inflation - even though no real sign of rising prices had yet emerged.

Van Steenis says this concern was voiced by "every single long-term asset owner" that he met.

In a note to clients today titled "What I Learned at Davos," Van Steenis writes:

The consensus of much of the official sector and investors at Davos was that central banks have maxed out and should be soon start focusing on exit, given the unprecedented size of this experiment and its impact on asset prices.

Every single long-term asset owner I met, and numerous longer-term investors, voiced concern about asset prices and the risks from a huge knock from rates backing up (a super-sized version of 1994). While so far one can argue that the monetary injection was vital to offset massive deleveraging, it is clear that the risks for debasement of currencies remain high.

However, the vibes Van Steenis picked up from policymakers painted a decidedly different picture.

Van Steenis continues (emphasis added):

One of the most debated topics in the corridors of Davos was the dramatic changes in Japan, with the new government keen to jumpstart the economy with a new 2% inflation target which has led to a material depreciation in the Yen.

And yet several central bankers argued there is more they can do. In one public debate, Angel Gurria of the OECD argued that the world had probably reached the limits of monetary policy. But Mark Carney contradicted Mr. Gurria saying "There continues to be monetary policy options in all major economies and they have to be framed in the context of the [monetary policy] mandate." This flexibility should be used until their economies reach "escape velocity".

While Mr. Carney was speaking at a generic level for all central banks, I came away from this debate and other meetings with central bankers that that this quantitative experiment is far from over. Not only in Japan are we seeing a bold new experiment but that the new Bank of England governor is likely to give it an extra nudge with a de facto or de jure change in mandate. My colleague Charles Goodhart wrote about options on this early in January. What does it mean for UK banks - in the longer term a stronger economic recovery is a clear positive; however, the market may underestimate that the normalisation in rates and margins may take longer to come through.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:38:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
" it is clear that the risks for debasement of currencies remain high."

That word debasement again.

I feel that you have reached the age when you must be told the truth: Fiat money does not mean that Italian cars are kept in the basement of the central bank offices.

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 02:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
World to Davos: Will You Admit You Screwed Up? - The Daily Beast

The world of punditry is divided into two groups: those who attend the World Economic Forum at Davos and those who mock the World Economic Forum at Davos. (There's a subgroup that both attends and mocks, but it's tiny.)

Yet Davos is important, whether you attend or no. (I don't.) And if Ian Bremmer is right, this year something genuinely encouraging may be happening at the grand global gathering of business leaders, politicians and big-thinking academics.

"As the world struggles to bolster its resilience against economic and political uncertainty, the key risk is the increasing vulnerability of elites. We're seeing leaders of all kinds, in the developed and developing world, in politics as well as business and media, answering to constituents who grow more dissatisfied... and information-rich. Look at the riots in India over the recent rape scandal, the U.S. Congress' abysmal approval ratings or the phone hacking scandal at News Corp. Corruption, special interests or a lack of transparency will spell trouble for leaders."

Bremmer, a brilliant analyst of the global economy, is a regular Davos participant. He's recording his impressions of the 2013 conference in a diary for the Huffington Post.

If he's perceiving elite anxiety, one can only say: finally.

"What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass." So snarked Queen Victoria's first prime minister, Lord Melbourne.

He might have been talking about the euro. Or the securitization of the U.S. mortgage market. Or the British government's attempt to restore prosperity through budget austerity. Or. Or. Or. Over the past decade and a half, we've seen one horrendous economic decision after another made, not by voters in democracies, but by people who owed their power to their claims of superior knowledge. Together, they have plunged us into a decade and a half of disasters, culminating in a global financial crisis triggered by new credit instruments that were advertised as ending financial crises once and for all.

Yet by and large, these leaders have escaped public accountability or even criticism over the past six years of global crisis. The people who designed the euro continue to run the European Central Bank. The people who wrecked the American banking system walked away with multimillion-dollar severance packages. We all know that life's not fair. But this unfair?

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:43:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The big risk in 2013: Vulnerable elites | Stephen M. Walt
You can read the full report for some specific forecasts, but our overarching theme was the increasing vulnerability of elites in virtually every sector. In a globalized and unequal world where information flows almost instantaneously, where economic tides can shift without warning, where masses can mobilize via new media, and where the slightest transgressions can be amplified and repeated in the blogospheric echo-chamber, elites in both the public and private sector can find the ground shifting beneath their feet suddenly and without warning.


Examples? Think of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Qaddafi, and (one hopes) Bashar al-Assad.   Look at what happened to CIA director David Petraeus or Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  Consider how Rupert Murdoch's reputation and clout were tarnished by the phone hacking scandal, and ask yourself where his former editor Rebekah Brooks is now. Similarly, the Jimmy Savile scandal brought down the head of the BBC, showing that the leaders of a powerful and sophisticated news organization cannot control the news cycle.

Our hearts bleed.

by Bernard on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 03:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He fails to appreciate just how much they have benefited from the current situation. The richest 1000 people in the UK saw their wealth increase in the last year by a figure greater than that of the UK deficit.

From their viewpoint, the only thing not to like is that the proles are beginning to understand they're being screwed. Which is why they're adopting US education systems as fast as they can in the UK to ensure we stay stupid, ill informed and compliant

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:22:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
economies remain fragile and prone to policy error further austerity.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 05:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Euro periphery draws back €100bn - FT.com

Almost €100bn of private funds flowed back into the eurozone's periphery late last year after action by the European Central Bank encouraged reinvestment in the crisis-hit countries.

The scale of the net inflows, equivalent to about 9 per cent of the economic output of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Greece according to calculations by ING, the Dutch bank, highlight the revival in investor confidence in Europe's monetary union after Mario Draghi, ECB president, pledged to preserve its integrity.

The return of capital has encouraged policy makers to believe the eurozone crisis is over, with Mr Draghi this month pointing to "positive contagion" in the region. The euro has also moved sharply higher.

Adding to evidence of a turn in sentiment, figures from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed traders were last week more bullish on the euro than they have been in 18 months. Net long positions on the euro reached their strongest level since the summer of 2011.

However, the private inflows into the bloc's periphery remain modest compared with far larger outflows earlier in 2012, when many financial markets feared a eurozone break-up.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:42:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:27:18 PM EST
.:Middle East Online::No need for Western support... French-led troops seize Timbuktu:.

French-led forces Monday seized Mali's fabled desert city of Timbuktu in a lightning advance north as Islamists fleeing the city torched a building housing priceless ancient manuscripts.

The caravan town on the edge of the Sahara desert was the top prize in the 18-day French offensive that has stopped the Islamists' march south towards the capital Bamako and driven them from their bastions.

Only one Islamist stronghold, the town of Kidal further north, remains to be retaken.

"The Malian army and the French army are in complete control of the town of Timbuktu. Everything is under control," a colonel in the Malian army said on condition of anonymity.

Timbuktu Mayor Halley Ousmane, who is in Bamako, confirmed the town had "fallen into the hands of the French and Malians".

With another victory scored in the northern Mali juggernaut, French President Francois Hollande exclaimed: "We are winning in Mali."

However fears soared for the city's cultural heritage when a building housing tens of thousands of manuscripts from the ancient Muslim world and Greece was set aflame.

The once cosmopolitan town and a centre of Islamic learning for centuries, Timbuktu became a dusty outpost for the extremists, who forced women to wear veils, whipped and stoned those who violated their version of strict Islamic law, and destroyed ancient Muslim shrines they considered "idolatrous".

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:51:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Timbuktu mayor: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts | World news | guardian.co.uk

Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, according to the Saharan town's mayor, in an incident he described as a "devastating blow" to world heritage.

Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. They also burned down the town hall, the governor's office and an MP's residence, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military.

French troops and the Malian army reached the gates of Timbuktu on Saturday and secured the town's airport. But they appear to have got there too late to rescue the leather-bound manuscripts that were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa's rich medieval history. The rebels attacked the airport on Sunday, the mayor said.

"It's true. They have burned the manuscripts," Cissé said in a phone interview from Mali's capital, Bamako. "They also burned down several buildings. There was one guy who was celebrating in the street and they killed him."

He added: "This is terrible news. The manuscripts were a part not only of Mali's heritage but the world's heritage. By destroying them they threaten the world. We have to kill all of the rebels in the north."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The manuscripts were a part not only of Mali's heritage but the world's heritage. By destroying them they threaten the world. We have to kill all of the rebels in the north."

I agree it's bad but the last two sentences do not follow from the first.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mali: Timbuktu's Ancient Manuscripts Are Safe, Preservationists Say | TIME.com

Cissé told the Guardian. "By destroying them, they threaten the world. We have to kill all of the rebels in the north." Reporting from inside the Timbuktu building itself, Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford told viewers that the jihadists had destroyed the center's contents. Meanwhile, Cissé was quoted on the network's website as saying, "They torched all the important ancient manuscripts."

That is not so, according to those who've worked for months to keep the documents safe.

In interviews with TIME on Monday, preservationists said that in a large-scale rescue operation early last year, shortly before the militants seized control of Timbuktu, thousands of manuscripts were hauled out of the Ahmed Baba Institute to a safe house elsewhere. Realizing that the documents might be prime targets for pillaging or vindictive attacks from Islamic extremists, staff left behind just a small portion of them, perhaps out of haste, but also to conceal the fact that the center had been deliberately emptied.

by Katrin on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:02:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Get a damn photo copier in there fast

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:24:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... so with impeccable timing, here comes Cameron to the rescue!

Mali: Britain prepared to send 'sizeable amount' of troops to support French | World news | The Guardian

Britain is prepared to take the risk of sending a "sizeable amount" of troops to Mali and neighbouring West African countries as David Cameron offers strong support to France in its operation to drive Islamist militants from its former colony.

One source said that Britain could easily dispatch 200 troops if France requested such a number.

Downing Street is adamant that British troops will play no part in combat.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 04:55:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nothing to do with EDF's ownership of brit nuke interests and future uranium supplies, would 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 Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:04:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
more to do with wanting to join in with an easy military victory so's he can parade in a uniform and look "decisive". the perfect photo op for the EU referendum

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:26:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Violence flares in Egypt after emergency law imposed | Reuters

A man was shot dead on Monday in a fifth day of violence that has killed 50 Egyptians and prompted the Islamist president to declare a state of emergency in an attempt to end a wave of unrest sweeping the biggest Arab nation.

Emergency rule announced by President Mohamed Mursi on Sunday covers the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. The army has already been deployed in two of those cities and ministers agreed a measure to let soldiers arrest civilians.

A cabinet source told Reuters any trials would be in civilian courts, but the step is likely to anger protesters who accuse Mursi of using high-handed tactics of the kind they fought against to oust his military predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's politics have become deeply polarized since those heady days two years ago, when protesters were making the running in the Arab Spring revolutions that sent shockwaves through the region and Islamists and liberals lined up together.

Although Islamists have won parliamentary and presidential elections, the disparate opposition has since united against Mursi. Late last year he moved to expand his powers and pushed a constitution with a perceived Islamist bias through a referendum. The moves were punctuated by street violence.

Mursi's national dialogue meeting on Monday to help end the crisis was spurned by his main opponents.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:58:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Protests Grow on Fifth Day of Unrest in Egypt - NYTimes.com
Large protests in the Suez Canal city of Port Said and fresh clashes in Cairo on Monday marked a fifth day of widening unrest in Egypt, a day after President Mohamed Morsi declared a state of emergency and a curfew in three major cities as escalating violence in the streets threatened his government and Egypt's democracy.

 In Port Said, where the police lost control over the weekend and where marchers on Monday said they no longer recognized Mr. Morsi's authority, protesters chased away armored personnel carriers with rocks and shoes during a funeral procession for victims of the recent violence. Protesters also called for the entire city to ignore the 9 p.m. curfew.

In the capital, Cairo, police fired tear gas at protesters at the foot of the Kasr el-Nile bridge, the scene of an epic battle during the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak exactly two years ago, on what was known as the "Day of Rage." Opposition groups have called for protests to commemorate the anniversary on Monday.

By imposing a one-month state of emergency in Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, Mr. Morsi's declaration deployed one of the most despised weapons of Mr. Mubarak's autocracy.  Under Mubarak-era laws left in effect by the country's new Constitution, a state of emergency suspends the ordinary judicial process and most civil rights. It gives the president and the police extraordinary powers. On Sunday, riot police officers took up positions near Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Mr. Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president and a leader of the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, took the step after four days of clashes in Cairo and in cities around the country between the police and protesters denouncing his government. Most of the protests were set off by the second anniversary of the popular revolt that ousted Mr. Mubarak, which fell on Friday.

In Port Said, the trouble started over death sentences that a court imposed on 21 local soccer fans for their role in a deadly riot. But after 30 people died in clashes on Saturday -- most of them shot by the police -- the protesters turned their ire on Mr. Morsi as well the court. Police officers crouching on the roofs of their stations fired tear gas and live ammunition into attacking mobs, and hospital officials said that on Sunday at least seven more people died.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:05:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Inside the war for Syria's mountains | World news | The Guardian

Scraped in charcoal on the wall of one house were three words in Arabic: Jabhat al-Nusra.

Until two months ago, locals in this corner of north-western Syria had not had to contend with the Jabhat al-Nusra organisation. Like much else about the war now crippling the nearby cities of Idlib and Aleppo, it was out of sight and out of mind, a distant bogeyman that posed little threat to this border town.

Then came a campaign by rebel units pushing south towards cities still controlled by the regime after almost two years of civil war. "That's when we first saw them," a rebel, Mahmoud Darwiche, said of Jabhat al-Nusra, which insurgent leaders simply call al-Qaida.

"They were good at first, quiet and respectful. Even now, they are still trying to behave. But they will kill any Alawite fighter they capture."

Until December, the town of Darkoush was roughly divided: the north supported the opposition while the south supported the regime; the frontline was marked by a line of ransacked security buildings.

Now, it is a staging point for a coming battle in the mountains to the south, a battle that will decide the fate of Syria's cosmopolitan heart.

Rebel leaders are preparing what they say will be imminent attacks on regime cities. Jabhat al-Nusra is also making plans, with new arrivals to the group turning up on most days over the past few weeks. Some are taking over empty Alawite homes near Darkoush; others are pushing south to frontlines near Latakia.

Al-Nusra fighters like to see themselves as being everywhere but nowhere. They play willingly to the regime characterisation of them as phantom-like figures who can outmanoeuvre the Syrian military. And they are now more evident than at any time in this war.

The al-Nusra member the Guardian met had not been expecting strangers. His head swathed in a black turban, and with a Kalashnikov strapped to his chest, he walked slowly down a potholed road towards us before stopping warily several metres away. He scanned us purposefully from head to toe, inhaled deeply, then said: "What's going on?"

The American-accented English was as much a surprise as finding him there in the first place, living in a house next door to the main rebel outpost in the region, along with 20 or so other members of the group at the vanguard of the fighting.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France warns that extremists could prevail in Syria if nations fail to support the opposition - The Washington Post

Syrian opposition leaders pleaded Monday for funds and political backing from the international community as France warned that extremists could prevail in Syria if nations fail to honor their pledges of support.

The warning from French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reflects growing concern over the rising power of Islamic militant groups that have joined the rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

 "Let us be clear. In the face of the collapse of a state and society, it is the extremist groups that risk gaining ground if we do not act as we should," Fabius told envoys from more than 50 nations gathered in Paris.

"Chaos is not tomorrow, it is today, and we need to end it. We need to end it in a peaceful way and that means increased and concrete support to the Syrian National Coalition," an umbrella group for the opposition.

Islamic militants have been the most organized fighters battling government troops in the 22-month-old conflict in which more than 60,000 people have been killed.

Their growing prominence has fueled fears that Muslim radicals might try to hijack the revolt, and has contributed to the West's hesitance to equip the opposition with sophisticated weapons.

The opposition coalition was formed in November, largely in response to a call by the West for the fragmented Syrian opposition to unite. More than 100 countries have backed the umbrella group, decreeing it the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. France was the first to confer that recognition.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:12:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Floods worsen in eastern Australia - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Torrential rain over the weekend has severely flooded several cities and towns in eastern Australia, leading to three deaths in the region.

Many businesses and homes in the Queensland state capital, Brisbane, were inundated on Monday, while about 1,200 properties were flooded by record-high waters in the city of Bundaberg 385km to the north.

Helicopters were used to rescue 18 people from the roofs of their homes in Bundaberg, Australian Associated Press reported.

Queensland police on Monday confirmed that three people had died in flood waters since the weekend.

There was also flooding in the Queensland towns of Gladstone, Gympie and Ipswich.

Almost 250,000 homes across Queensland were without power on Monday and the triple-zero emergency phone network was down in a number of areas, with mobile phones also out of service.

The heavy rain was caused by the remnants of a tropical cyclone that hit the country last week and also brought severe weather including tornadoes. Several high-water rescues have taken place.

Campbell Newman, Queensland premier, said there was an acute emergency unfolding in Bundaberg, home to about 50,000 people, with many people scrambling to get out as the river hit a record peak.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:15:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mamphela Ramphele tipped to launch political party in South Africa | World news | The Guardian

Anti-apartheid activist, soulmate of the late Steve Biko, high-flying academic and businesswoman, eloquent nemesis of government: Dr Mamphela Ramphele, said to be planning her own political party, is seen by some as the woman who can shake up South Africa and restore the nation's moral compass.

Media reports suggesting that Ramphele was on a fundraising drive for a launch into politics led to speculation that her anti-corruption credentials could woo black middle-class voters away from the dominant African National Congress (ANC) in next year's elections.

However, some commentators remain sceptical about Ramphele's ability to attract big-name allies to take on not only the might of the ANC but also the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), itself a repository of anti-government discontent.

The 65-year-old went to the US this month and told at least one audience she was raising funds for a political party, South Africa's City Press newspaper reported. A source told the paper Ramphele had claimed she was "now going into politics to save the country".

Tony Leon, a former leader of the DA, said a friend had attended one of Ramphele's meetings in Boston. "A friend of mine said she made a big pitch: she's going to start a political party," he said. "I presume she should make her intentions clear before she suffers death by a thousand leaks."

Ramphele has long been regarded as a potential saviour, a morally untainted antidote to a political system mired in corruption and cronyism. She showed her mettle as an anti-apartheid activist while studying medicine at the University of Natal in the 1970s and was one of the founders of the black consciousness movement. Her relationship with Biko was intellectual and romantic - she bore his son - until his murder by apartheid police.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:26:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Argentina and Iran are to jointly set up a commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (Amia) Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires. The commission will be made up of five independent judges, none of whom will be from either Argentina or Iran.
More HERE.

Colombia, (La Silla Vacia): Yesterday the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) made a surprise statement in Havana that posed for the first time a reverse of the nation's drug policy.  Specifically, the FARC aims to explore ways to move from illicit crops into "alternative crops or replacement, or to legalization for medicinal and therapeutic purposes or cultural reasons."

Miami Herald, SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera warmly praised Hugo Chavez on Sunday, crediting the Venezuelan leader's "vision, tenacity and strength" for forging the alliance of Latin American and Caribbean leaders that was able to meet European leaders as equals this weekend.

LAHT, GUATEMALA CITY - In an unprecedented ruling, a Guatemalan judge ordered Monday that former strongman Gen. Efrain Rios Montt and one of his closest collaborators be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

LAHT, RIO DE JANEIRO - The death toll from the fire at a nightclub in Santa Maria, a city in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state, has been revised downward to 232, with 131 other people injured, police said Sunday.

Dominican Republic, (BBC): Six people are being treated for gunshot wounds after violence broke out at a meeting of the main opposition party in the Dominican Republic.

MercoPress: The first summit of the Community of Latinamerican and Caribbean States, CELAC, the brain child of president Hugo Chavez, paid tribute to the Venezuelan leader who is recovering from cancer surgery in Havana, Cuba, the country that on Monday will be receiving the group's chair from Chile.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 09:51:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:27:21 PM EST
EU emissions trading scheme faces 'existential crisis': theparliament.com
Parliament's industry research and energy (ITRE) committee has rejected a scheme which would allow the 'backloading' of carbon allowances.

It was hoped that postponing the auction of 900 million allowances from 2013-2015 until 2019-2020, when the markets are expected to pick up, would rebalance supply and demand.

However, the committee rejected the proposal which had an immediate effect on the carbon market as prices fell to their lowest ever, at just €2.8 per tonne, following Thursday's vote.

As a result, the future of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been called into doubt, with Greens deputy Bas Eickhout saying that it is facing an "existential crisis".

"The European emission trading scheme is at the crossroads and it is up to politicians to restore confidence and choose the future direction," he said.

"Either we throw our carbon market a life vest by showing investors that we are serious about letting polluters pay for their CO2 emissions, or we let things be: the surplus of some two billion carbon permits smothers the system, the total loss of confidence scares the few remaining buyers and investors away, carbon prices drop to close to zero and the carbon market collapses completely.

The EU's ETS is one of the commission's key tools for combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gases, covering 45 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions from the 27 member states, and is the worlds biggest emissions trading scheme, which accounts for 75 per cent of international carbon trading.

Since the markets launch in 2005, it has faced numerous difficulties, such as an over-allocation of carbon permits, giving polluters windfall profits, and a struggling economy.

According to the commission, if the imbalances in the market remain unaddressed then the ETS will struggle to meet demanding emission reduction targets in a cost-effective manner
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In historic vote, Bulgarian voters back new nuclear plant | EurActiv

Bulgarians voted yesterday (27 January) in favour of building a new nuclear power plant in their first referendum in the post-communist era. However, due to the low turnout, the referendum result is not binding and the matter is referred to Parliament.

Slightly over 60% voted for a 2,000-megawatt plant at Belene on the Danube River, exit polls showed. Turnout was slightly above 20%. For the referendum to be binding, a turnout of more than 60% of eligible voters was needed.

The referendum was initiated by the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), which last year gathered 800,000 signatures in favour of holding a referendum for building a new nuclear power plant at Belene.

Under the Constitution, 500,000 valid signatures are needed to hold a referendum. The plebiscite on Belene was the first nationwide referendum in the country's modern history.

The Socialists decision to hold the referendum was a response to the freezing of the construction at the Belene site last March. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov says the Belene plant would cost more than €10 billion, too high a sum for the struggling country. Some interpret Borissov's move as an effort to reduce the country's dependence on Russia for its energy.

Russia was expected to build the nuclear plant and supply the reactors.

According to opinion polls, the Socialists are the biggest power base among the supporters of nuclear energy in Bulgaria, estimated at 60% of the population.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:47:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny spin they put on it, but the real news is not the majority but the abysmal turnout: not much more than a third of what would have been required for a binding result. Passing 20% means that parliament will have to deal with it again, but that will only conclude the burial of the project. Then again, the government has its own idea for a new nuclear plant (which doesn't seem any closer to realisation).

Bulgaria: Bulgarian PM: Socialist Leader Killed Belene NPP with Referendum - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency

By helping organize the referendum on nuclear energy, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergey Stanishev has dealt the death blow to the new Belene NPP project, commented Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov.

According to the Bulgarian PM, who went out to vote just 30 mins before stations closed at 7 pm, the referendum spelled the end of Belene with its irrelevance and the apathy shown by voters.

Bulgarians vote for new nuclear power, but referendum is not binding | beyondbrics

The Socialists have probably succeeded in rallying their core supporters. But the lack of public enthusiasm for the referendum indicates that nuclear power is not the hot-button issue that it once was. And construction at Belene is no closer to being restarted.

"It is a mistake to expect that referendum will affect Bulgaria'snuclear program in any way," says Tomasz Daborowski, an energy analyst at Warsaw's Centre for Eastern Studies.

"First of all the campaign was highly-politicised and was more a political test before July's parliamentary elections than about deciding energy policy priorities. Secondly the referendum question was tricky and confused voters. It was not clear if voting "yes" meant building new nuclear power plant in Belene, or it meant continuing plans to build a seventh reactor in current at Kozloduy - the programme of the government.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bulgarian build quality meets a nuclear power plant...squeeeek

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fukushima had Japanese quality ...

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:53:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
`Flop train': EU's high-speed rail ambitions hit a setback | EurActiv

The EU's top transport official says the troubled launch of a now-suspended high-speed rail service between Brussels and Amsterdam - christened the `flop train' by angry passengers - is "not our problem" despite years of efforts to encourage such premium transnational rail service.

Dutch and Belgian lawmakers were due to hold a hearing today (28 January) in Brussels on technical problems with the Italian-built train sets, some of which broke down because of snow and ice on the busy 175-kilometre corridor.

Siim Kallas, the European Commission vice president in charge of transport, told journalists that the suspension of the service was not an issue for the Commission since it involves technical issues between the two rail companies and their equipment supplier.

"It's not our problem," Kallas said on Thursday (24 January), a week after the Fyra rail service was suspended.

"On this high-speed network, we have solved very many problems of interoperability already," Kallas said. "But this happens. As the railway manufacturers say, and the airplane manufacturers say, equipment has become so complicated so that until you really run a machine that is free of all difficulties, it sometimes takes time."

Libor Lochman, executive director of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies, also said the problems with Fyra were technical matters outside the Commission's mandate.

Still, the Commission has encouraged transnational, high-speed corridors such as the Fyra and the opening of rail services to competition through a series of railway packages dating to 2001.

The Commission is expected to present its Fourth Railway Package this week aimed at improving the interoperability of passenger and cargo services across the EU.

Passenger groups aren't happy

The Fyra service, jointly run by Belgium's SNCB/NMBS and the Netherlands' NS rail companies, replaced a service that had been shuttling passengers and commuters for 55 years. It was launched to much fanfare on 9 December and halted indefinitely on 18 January.

A hilarious tragedy.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lawyers on the line: high-speed rail plan faces 10-year delay - Home News - UK - The Independent

Britain's HS2 high-speed rail line could be delayed for a decade as a unified coalition of Conservative councils, MPs and environmental groups threaten disruptive legal action.

The new £33bn line is intended to kickstart the country's economic recovery, but Department for Transport officials now fear work may not begin until 2022, amid a flood of court cases and judicial reviews, The Independent can disclose.

David Cameron today promised that HS2 would "spread the UK's wealth" and give a "better balance to the UK economy" as the route of its Y-shaped second phase from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds was unveiled.

But the Government is now facing a concerted revolt as northern local authorities and backbench MPs affected by the proposed line unite with campaigners opposed to its first phase from London to Birmingham.

Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield and Tory deputy chairman, warned that Chancellor George Osborne, will now "see the strength of public opinion for himself", with the line due to pass through his Tatton constituency in Cheshire. He added: "Every MP along the route will have people lobbying him. The people of Cheshire, like the people of Staffordshire, don't hesitate to make their views known - and quite right too."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:51:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why we in Britain can't have nice things...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:05:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that the way we do things in Britain is that we announce a vague route so that;

a) there will be a much resented decade long planning blight across a whole region, suppressing property prices which would normally be expected to rise.

b) when the route is finally agreed, property values in that area actually fall, having been held artificially static for 10 years.

c) the govt come in and say "your property is worth 2/3 of a sack of shit, under govt rules we will offer you 3 brass farthings"

d)the govt then expresses surprise when all property owners lawyer up.

The French, as I understand, do it somewaht differently. They decide here the railway i to go and then tell all people affected, your house is currently worth x, here's 150% x, bugger off.

Surprisingly, over time, this apprach works out quicker and cheaper, but lawyers are less happy

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:38:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, does France have more or fewer lawyers in parliament?

(My guess: the UK has some of the most actual working lawyers in any parliament.)

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Much tho' I'd like a High speed railway from London to Glasgow, I'm not sure I want one specced out by tories who favour stopping at out of town shopping centres over actual utility.

Equally, the real critical need in the UK now is housing. That's the elecphant in the room. If we're gonna spend £33b, please let's build housing. Not "affordable" housing, but genuine social housing.

I'd love a railway too, don't misunderstand me and I know we could do both if we wanted to, but one is urgently needed now, the other is not.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:43:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I looked at the phase 2 route selection only today, and I see that they made no attempt to bundle with existing transport corridors (that is, follow highways). So a high level of protest would be assured even without Britain's well-established feudal lobby in plebeian clothes (e.g. "Countryside Alliance").

My take on HS2, as told on earlier occasions, is that (1) the price tag is suspect and (2) I believe it when I see it (when I see the news of the signing of the first multi-million superstructure construction contract).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strange - the map I saw, the Birmingham to Leeds section (which is the area of country I'm most familiar with) does stick to the motorway for large sections. The trouble starts when it gets near Sheffield, as the motorway is not really in an empty zone. There's at least one area near Barnsley where the route looks a little contentious, (near some historic buildings) but for the rest it seems they have done a pretty good job of steering through old industrial zones.

The Manchester line tracks the motorway less, but I don't see many obvious trouble spots in the valleys they have chosen. Again, lots of old industrial areas are on the route.

I think the real opposition will still come in the London - Birmingham stretch where there are rural Tory areas that never saw industry...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Checking the maps again at greater resolution:

  • Birminghham to Leeds: I see that I didn't notice some highways because they were almost completely overdrawn...Only about 30-40% of the line is not along a highway: southwest of Nottingham, west of Mansfield (but that's probably a tunnel), east and southeast of Sheffield, between Sheffield and Leeds (the longest section) and some sections of the spur to York.

  • Birmingham to Manchester, however, is truly mostly a new alignment, except for a section along the WCML (at Crewe).

I think the real opposition will still come in the London - Birmingham stretch where there are rural Tory areas that never saw industry...

I think whether they saw industry or not, there is a real conflict because high-speed rail benefits those living near their stations, that is, inhabitants of cities. Indeed here is the local support the project gets:

Northern economy to prosper from High Speed 2, say local authority leaders and businesses | European Railway Review

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Manchester City Council and the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, along with Manchester Airport and the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are unanimous in their support for High Speed 2 - the proposed high speed rail link from London and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

The high speed line to Manchester will include stops at Piccadilly in the city centre and Manchester Airport.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:11:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
P.S. Price tag suspect - too low?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:30:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Too high.

HS2 Phase II preferred route selected - Railway Gazette

The two phases of HS2 are priced at £33·1bn in total, of which around 65% is contingency, as required by Treasury guidelines on major project funding.

The total length of the two phases is 528 km, thus the full pricetag corresponds to 62.7 million pounds per kilometre and the cost without the contingency to 21.9 million pounds per kilometre. In Euros, that's 73.4 million €/km and 25.7 million €/km. For a line without a lot of tunnels, the first figure is high (the same price level as in Italy), and the second is still higher than that for France's LGV Sud Europe Atlantique (a PPP project also including contingency) based on total cost (about 21.2 million €/km). I'm doubtful if property prices can explain all of this, however, I haven't checked what part of the HS2 total cost is for the infrastructure-heavy sections in urban areas with high property price (like London, Manchester).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be curious if DoDo has views on this.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a hilarious Eurosceptic spin, trying to pull the EU into this debacle by its hair. It's not the cross-border high-speed line, nor cross-border services on that line in general that are in crisis, and the problems have nothing to do with crossing a border (in fact Fyra ran in the Netherlands only until recently) or interoperability. Amsterdam to Paris Thalys services are unaffected. The only EU connection would be indirect: the rail 'liberalisation' push can lead to more foolish train orders (where purchasers choose the cheapest offer). However, on this subject, the Netherlands is a pioneer and advocate rather than a laggard follower pushed on by rules the EU adopted at the behest of others.

On the actual technical problems, the interesting part is that there was a long in-service test phase prior to the problems. I haven't heard more than stuff Nomad emailed me, but I can see three possibilities (in order of probability based on the little I heard):

  1. Some critical train components aren't suited for cold weather.
  2. Some quality problems in construction led to failure only after a wear of a few months.
  3. Commissioning wasn't rigorous enough to catch quality problems in the trains delivered after the first ones used for the in-service testing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:22:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedish rail is blaming recently bought Italian trains this year.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:45:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trains or trams? The only Italian import (recent or not) I can think of are trams (also from AnsaldoBreda); recent Swedish passenger EMUs were made either in France, Germany (both Alstom) or locally (Bombardier).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:24:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, you are correct. Trams. (Some trouble with lubricant not being delivered along with the trams last summer or so.)

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:30:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:16:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Horsemeat in burgers traced to Polish suppliers | World news | guardian.co.uk

Polish suppliers were responsible for the horsemeat in beefburgers scandal which hit supermarkets including Tesco, the Irish government has revealed.

Tests in recent days showed raw material imported by an Irish processing plant from Poland had up to 20% equine DNA. Products made for Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland were implicated in the initial scare this month caused by food standards checks late last year.

Other UK chains withdrew products made at Silvercrest, County Monaghan, and Dalepak Hambleton in north Yorkshire, both owned by the Irish-based ABP Food Group. Burger King also stopped using burgers made at Silvercrest, which suspended production more than a week ago and is now being deep cleaned.

More than 10m beefburgers are thought to have been removed from sale because of the scare, although authorities in the UK and Ireland have repeatedly said they posed no threat to human health.

Simon Coveney, the Irish food and agriculture minister, said he was sure Poland was the source of the contamination. "Significant quantities" of horse DNA had been found in three burgers and the imported ingredient during more than 140 tests on primary products and ingredients. Samples of Irish ingredients had tested negative. There was no evidence Silvercrest deliberately used horsemeat in its production, said Coveney. It had also said it would now use only Irish and UK suppliers.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In related news, people who can afford to eat meat more than a few times a year were worried about the specific type of meat.

"raw material"
"processing plant"

Vat grown meat cannot arrive quickly enough.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:19:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now there's an issue. Is vat grown meat based on horse DNA acceptable ?

Is Vat grown pork kosher ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:45:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Expected answer from your Rabbi:
  • Orthodox: No.
  • Conservative: Let's discuss this at great length.
  • Reform: Sure, do what you want.
  • Renewal: Yes, but vegetables are still going to have a lower carbon footprints.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 07:03:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about cheesburgers using vat grown milk? Hindus and vat grown beef? Hot dogs with vat grown dogs?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:00:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All munched with delectation by vat-grown people.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 08:06:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Polish suppliers were responsible"

Johnny Foreigner! The ideal culprit.

"There was no evidence Silvercrest deliberately used horsemeat in its production, said Coveney."

After all, nobody in his right mind would expect a burger manufacturer to [spot the difference between beef and horsemeat / care about the quality of their raw materials] (take your pick), and anyway they have destroyed the paper trail.

"It had also said it would now use only Irish and UK suppliers."

Because Irish and British horsemeat is a cut above the Polish variety.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:50:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last time round it was the Belgians and the Italians...
It comes after local authorities in Hull, Durham, Northumberland, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire found horse meat in three of 24 samples they tested.
Two were Belgian - one peppered, one cervelat salami - and carried the brand name L'Artibon. The other salami containing horse meat was Italian and labelled Wild Boar Salame.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:01:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem, you see, is that there's such strong demand for kosher and halal salami that they've switched suppliers completely, and when they have a surplus they have to export it to non-discerning clients disguised as pigmeat.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:18:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Isn't cervelat salami a contradiction in terms? A cooked sausage that is cured?)

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Polish cavalry was second to none for centuries.
Presumably Irish and British horses get more rest and are less stringy.

(See White meat v dark meat in poultry.)

(No, not being serious, except about polish cavalry.)

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cities affect temperatures for thousands of miles
Even if you live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest large city, it could be affecting your weather.

In a new study that shows the extent to which human activities are influencing the atmosphere, scientists have concluded that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems. This affects temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others, according to the study this week in Nature Climate Change.

The extra "waste heat" generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North America and northern Asia. Temperatures in some remote areas increase by as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the research by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; Florida State University; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

At the same time, the changes to atmospheric circulation caused by the waste heat cool areas of Europe by as much as 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with much of the temperature decrease occurring in the fall.

The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible -- an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F). This is because the total human-produced waste heat is only about 0.3 percent of the heat transported across higher latitudes by atmospheric and oceanic circulations.

However, the noticeable impact on regional temperatures may explain why some regions are experiencing more winter warming than projected by climate computer models, the researchers conclude. They suggest that models be adjusted to take the influence of waste heat into account.

Abstract at Nature, here.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:15:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Star Trek style 'tractor beam' created by scientists

A real-life "tractor beam", which uses light to attract objects, has been developed by scientists.

It is hoped it could have medical applications by targeting and attracting individual cells.

The research, published in Nature Photonics and led by the University of St Andrews, is limited to moving microscopic particles.

In science fiction programmes such as Star Trek, tractor beams are used to move much more massive objects.

It is not the first time science has aimed to replicate the feat - albeit at smaller scales.

In 2011, researchers from China and Hong Kong showed how it might be done with laser beams of a specific shape - and the US space agency Nasa has even funded a study to examine how the technique might help with manipulating samples in space.

The new study's lead researcher Dr Tomas Cizmar, research fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, said while the technique is very new, it had huge potential.

He said: "The practical applications could be very great, very exciting. The tractor beam is very selective in the properties of the particles it acts on, so you could pick up specific particles in a mixture."

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:16:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Incredibly cool.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The wolf is back in the Oslo forests

The wolf has been extinct in Norway for many years, but recently several strays have been observed on the Norwegian side of the border with Sweden.

This has led to a heated debate between those who welcome the wolves back, mostly environmentalists, and those who are strongly opposed, mainly sheep farmers.



In the latest development, two wolves have teamed up in Østmarka, east of Oslo, and at least one of them is marking the turf. This could mean that Østmarka get their wolf family in the spring.

The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) has sent excrement samples from the two wolves to Rovdata in Trondheim for DNA analysis. 

The DNA analysis can tell which wolves are involved and where they come from. The samples are still not fully analyzed, but results are expected within a short time. The marking of territory indicates that it involves a male wolf and a bitch, and that they probably have created a home territory, said  Anne-Marie Vikla in a message on the homepage of the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:18:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Study: Israel ranks among world's most harmful land-grabbers:
Ha'aretz: The leading land grabbers are the United States, Britain and China. But smaller countries also make the list, among them Israel. Israel makes the list due to large-scale purchases of agricultural lands in Colombia, where sugar cane for biofuel is grown, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where jatropha, another plant used in biofuel, is grown.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 05:30:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:27:26 PM EST
Britain faces UN tribunal over Chagos Islands marine reserve | World news | The Guardian

Britain's colonial-era decision to sever an Indian Ocean archipelago from Mauritius and turn it into a US military base will have to be justified before an international tribunal - a process that could lead to the return of the islands' exiled inhabitants.

The unexpected ruling this month by the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague that it can hear the case is a challenge to the UK's unilateral declaration in 2009 of a marine protected area around the Chagos Islands.

Decisions by the tribunal, which arbitrates in disputes over the United Nations law of the sea, are binding on the UK. At the preliminary hearing the UK's attempt to challenge the court's jurisdiction was defeated. Britain is now obliged to explain highly sensitive political decisions dating back to 1965.

The legal battle, begun more than two years ago, raises fundamental questions about who has sovereignty over the Indian Ocean territory. Mauritian government officials believe it could lead to the unravelling of Britain's disputed claim and the eventual return of the islanders.

The Mauritian prime minister, Navinchandra Ramgoolam, has also alleged that the decision to establish a 545,000 sq mile marine reserve was carried out in defiance of assurances given to him at the time by the then UK prime minister, Gordon Brown.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:53:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bill Gates on the Importance of Measurement - WSJ.com
Historically, foreign aid has been measured in terms of the total amount of money invested--and during the Cold War, by whether a country stayed on our side--but not by how well it performed in actually helping people. Closer to home, despite innovation in measuring teacher performance world-wide, more than 90% of educators in the U.S. still get zero feedback on how to improve.

An innovation--whether it's a new vaccine or an improved seed--can't have an impact unless it reaches the people who will benefit from it. We need innovations in measurement to find new, effective ways to deliver those tools and services to the clinics, family farms and classrooms that need them.

I've found many examples of how measurement is making a difference over the past year--from a school in Colorado to a health post in rural Ethiopia. Our foundation is supporting these efforts. But we and others need to do more. As budgets tighten for governments and foundations world-wide, we all need to take the lesson of the steam engine to heart and adapt it to solving the world's biggest problems.

One of the greatest successes in terms of using measurement to drive global change has been an agreement signed in 2000 by the United Nations. The Millennium Development Goals, supported by 189 nations, set 2015 as a deadline for making specific percentage improvements across a set of crucial areas--such as health, education and basic income. Many people assumed the pact would be filed away and forgotten like so many U.N. and government pronouncements. The decades before had brought many well-meaning declarations to combat problems from nutrition to human rights, but most lacked a road map for measuring progress. However, the Millennium goals were backed by a broad consensus, were clear and concrete, and brought focus to the highest priorities.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Crosby, A: "The Measure of Reality."

(Counterpoint: "Lies, damned lies and statistics".)

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fendi throws coins in Rome's crumbling Trevi fountain | World news | The Guardian

For decades the Trevi fountain has conjured up the image of a doe-eyed Anita Ekberg cavorting at night in an evening dress and fur stole. From now on, however, another, somewhat less playful, character may be linked to the monument's fate: Karl Lagerfeld.

With a studiedly solemn air, the fashion designer swept into Rome's Capitoline Museums on Monday as Fendi, the Italian luxury goods brand of which he is a creative director, announced that it would be funding a €2.18m (£1.87m) restoration of the crumbling baroque masterpiece.

Lagerfeld, who will be producing a series of photographs of famous Roman monuments to accompany the renovation, posed in dark glasses for the photographers before taking his seat beneath the museums' emblematic Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius.

With the air of a modern-day emperor riding to the rescue of a much-loved piece of Italian heritage, whose state the authorities have described as critical, he said: "It's a great idea. It's a great project, because this fountain is famous in all the world, like the Colosseum or St Peter's, and I'm happy that we can all help."

Unveiling the renovation, which is expected to take 20 months to complete, Pietro Beccari, Fendi's chairman and CEO, said the deal was about reinforcing the brand's historic links with Rome, where it started as a modest handbag and fur shop in the years between the world wars. "There is an element of giving back to the city that has hosted us since 1925," he said.

The company will also help fund renovation work on Le Quattro Fontane (the Four Fountains) to the tune of €320,000, bringing the overall Fendi donation to €2.5m. Speaking at the press conference, Lagerfeld said the city's fountains were "there to glorify water, which is the most important thing in life".

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:17:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Russia, Tank Zips through Traffic - Emerging Europe Real Time - WSJ

When a T-72 tank comes speeding in your direction you should get out of the way, but in this case the intimidating Russian assault vehicle had the green light.

A Russian motorist equipped with a dashboard video camera captured frightening footage Saturday of a fast-moving tank cutting across an intersection on a busy highway in the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil.

But local officials explained that it wasn't the start of an invasion - it was just a tank using a special road to make its way from the nearby Uralvagonzavod factory, the main producer of Russian tanks, to a test track, and the driver had a green light and was obeying all relevant traffic rules.

"The crossing is equipped with traffic lights and vehicles moving along the roadway had to stop and give right of way to the tank," Lt. Sergei Pleshko of the local traffic police said in a statement,

He also confirmed another report that tanks have from time-to-time been equipped with plows and used to clear snow during heavy storms in the city.

Always wondered how it is possible that so many bizarre traffic incidents in Russia are captured by video? I heard this weekend it's because a large swath of Russian drivers have video camera's installed in their cars in case of car damage - without footage it's impossible to get money back from insurance companies. If anyone else could confirm this, I'd love to hear...

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:25:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Most Ridiculous Law of 2013 (So Far): It Is Now a Crime to Unlock Your Smartphone - Derek Khanna - The Atlantic

This is now the law of the land:




PENALTY: In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.

That's right, starting this weekend it is illegal to unlock new phones to make them available on other carriers.

I have deep sympathy for any individual who happens to get jail time for this offense. I am sure that other offenders would not take kindly to smartphone un-lockers.

But seriously: It's embarrassing and unacceptable that we are at the mercy of prosecutorial and judicial discretion* to avoid the implementation of draconian laws that could implicate average Americans in a crime subject to up to a $500,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

But there's good news : lucky Americans, you can now jailbreak your phones! I mean, you're no longer criminals when you do it. However, you can still go to jail for jailbreaking your tablet computer, in the "land of the fairly free, unless some librarian decides otherwise" :
Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets | Ars Technica

The Digital Millennium Copyright makes it illegal to "circumvent" digital rights management schemes. But when Congress passed the DMCA in 1998, it gave the Librarian of Congress the power to grant exemptions. The latest batch of exemptions, which will be in force for three years, were announced on Thursday.

Between now and late 2015, there will be five categories of circumvention that will be allowed under the Librarian's rules, one fewer than the current batch of exemptions, which was announced in July 2010. The new exemptions take effect October 28.

The new batch of exemptions illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the DMCA's exemption process. For the next three years, you'll be allowed to jailbreak smartphones but not tablet computers. You'll be able to unlock phones purchased before January 2013 but not phones purchased after that. It will be legal to rip DVDs to use an excerpt in a documentary, but not to play it on your iPad. None of these distinctions makes very much sense. But Congress probably deserves more blame for this than the Librarian of Congress.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 04:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've no idea what the European legislation I'm ignoring or breaking might be on these subjects... any ideas?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 04:07:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in the UK, ripping CDs to MP3 for your own use became legal in 2011. (If that law passed. Not sure.)

Professor Farnsworth: Oh, my god! I clicked on something I didn't read!
Cubert Farnsworth: And I slightly modified something I own!
Professor Farnsworth: We're monsters!

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 07:12:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well there is the Enforcement Directive - aka IPRED - but it limits itself to violations on a commercial scale (which is weasel words as it takes away the obligation to show commercial activities) and civil actions. It brings in punitive damages if your country did not use those before (but only for copyright violations of course).

The Proposed directive on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights that would have brought in jail terms for non-commercial ip violations was dropped in 2010.

As announced in Official Journal C 252 of 18 September 2010[1] the European Commission decided to withdraw the proposal for a directive. Criminal sanctions for enforcement of intellectual property rights are therefore not currently formally proposed, even if it is part of the EU acquis since the Lisbon Treaty.

Had it not been for the pirates it probably would be jail terms for jailbreaking your phone. Can still be in your country if insane lobbies has the ears of your national legislation, but it is not EU law.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mariage gay : les premiers dérapages du débat parlementaire Gay marriage: first provocations in the parliamentary debate
On ne l'avait pas beaucoup entendu jusqu'à présent. Mais le député d'extrême droite Jacques Bompard (non inscrit, Vaucluse) répond présent pour la bataille parlementaire sur le "mariage pour tous" qui démarre mardi 29 janvier à l'Assemblée nationale.We had not heard much from him so far. But the extreme right MP Jacques Bompard (unregistered, Vaucluse) has shown up for the parliamentary battle on " marriage for all " which starts Tuesday 29 January at the National Assembly.
La teneur des 32 amendements (sur les 3 298 recevables sur le texte) qu'il a signés le laisse supposer. Puisque ce nouveau mariage doit être "pour tous" alors qu'il le soit réellement, suggère, provocateur, l'élu d'extrême droite.The content of the 32 amendments (out of a total of 3298 submitted) he has signed indicates this. Since this new marriage is supposed to be "for all" then he is suggesting provocatively that it should really be for all.
Ainsi propose-t-il de légaliser les mariages polygames (amendement n° 4661) pour "étendre à toutes formes de couples et à toutes formes d'amour la possibilité de contracter mariage" ou d'autoriser les mariages pour les mineurs ou entre, par exemple, une tante et son neveu (n° 4662 et 4668) car "pour supprimer toute forme de discrimination, il conviendrait à toutes les formes de famille, sans distinction de sexe, d'orientation sexuelle, d'origine, de nombre, d'âge ou de lien de parenté".Thus he proposes to legalize polygamous marriages (Amendment No. 4661) in order to "extend to all forms of couples and all forms of love the possibility of contracting marriage" ; to allow marriages for minors, or between, for example, an aunt and her nephew (No. 4662 and 4668) so as "to remove any form of discrimination it should be available for all forms of family, regardless of gender , sexual orientation, national origin, number, age or family tie".
M. Bompard suggère aussi de donner à l'enfant né du mariage "le prénom de l'officier de l'état civil qui reçoit la déclaration" (n° 4672). Ultime provocation, il préconise de supprimer le mariage (n° 5194) car "c'est une affaire privée qui ne concerne pas l'Etat".M. Bompard also suggests that a child born of marriage should be given "the name of the officer of the administration who registers the birth" (No. 4672). As a final provocation, he advocates the abolition of marriage (No. 5194) because "this is a private matter which does not concern the State" .

Bompard is a former Front National member, now freelance monster-raving-loony MP.

He was doing really well until that last amendment, which actually makes sense.

However, I'm bitterly disappointed that he didn't slip in an amendment about marriage with animals. He's a coward, he doesn't take this business to its logical conclusion.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:28:02 PM EST

Europeans on this date in history:

1866 - birth of Julio Peris Brell, Spanish painter born in Valencia (d. 1944)

More here and here

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:42:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 03:28:06 PM EST
Around the world without flying - but not quite a record - Telegraph

Graham Hughes, whose entry into South Sudan last November completed a voyage to every country in the world recognised by the United Nations, is currently en route to Russia.

Although he crossed into the country from Estonia in spring 2009, he went over the border illegally, the only country he did not enter officially. For this reason, Guinness World Records is refusing to ratify his journey as a record.

"The visa into Russia cost about 150 quid and I was on a shoestring budget, and travelling to as many countries as possible, very fast," Mr Hughes explained. "It [the Guinness World Record's decision] is completely understandable, because they don't want to encourage people to do illegal things."

Since learning of the obstacle, Mr Hughes has adopted the same phlegmatic approach that allowed him to visit all the world's countries in the first place.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 05:27:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we consider hoisting the Newsroom some days?

Maybe it's just me, but in the new position, somehow my brain doesn't notice it...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 05:27:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There doesn't seem to be a fall in comments in either the OTs or the Newsroom ex-Salon, so presumably people find the middle column easily enough. Don't worry, rely on brain plasticity ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:01:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was more concerned about the mythical new people who may drop by the front page. The Salon has often been mentioned by other bloggers as a selling point of this site.

My comments aren't numerous enough to be missed... ;-)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:04:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. I was feeling uneasy about that too.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:19:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly invert the "A place to talk" and "Newsroom" sections on the front page for a start...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:20:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's possible, the order there is pretty much arbitrary.

My feeling is that newcomers who actually make it to the front page are more likely to be immediately attracted to the main blog posts and that they'll discover the joys of the Newsroom. I guess we should set-up a comprehensive A/B testing system to work out the best way of doing it.

It'll be ready in about 2037.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:34:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Before or after the commissioning of the HS2?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 08:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Alexei Sayle, and where the alternative comedy revolution went wrong.

Alexei Sayle: 'I'm still full of hate' | Stage | The Guardian

What I didn't understand, despite all my years of Marxist study groups, was that every revolution contains within it the seeds of its own destruction, and ours soon began to mutate in ways I could never have predicted. For me, the turning point, the moment resembling Oliver Cromwell's suppression of the Levellers, was the making of the Bambi episode for the second series of The Young Ones, broadcast in 1984.

I turned up for the recording to find several generations of Cambridge Footlights were in the show. "I thought these people were the enemy!" I railed at the writers. "The whole point of what we were doing was surely to challenge the smug hegemony of the Oxford, Cambridge, public-schoolboy comedy network, as well as destroying the old-school working men's club racists!"

"No, that was just you," the writers replied. "We never subscribed to your demented class-war ravings. We think all these people are lovely. Stephen Fry's made us lardy cake, Hugh Laurie's been playing boogie-woogie piano all morning, Mel Smith's going to take us for a ride in his gold Rolls-Royce, and Griff Rhys-Jones has been screaming abuse at minions to make us laugh."

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 10:23:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comfort is better than suffering. No one can be angry forever. Make enough noise and you'll make enough money to be part of the establishment. Everyone has a price.

  • John Lydon, butter.
  • Dennis Hopper, Ameriprise Financial retirement planning.
  • Iggy Pop, Metrobank. (via the Onion, not sure if that's valid.)

"[...] those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War"
-Peter Cook.

sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 10:43:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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