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

13-14 December 2014

by DoDo Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:32:15 PM EST

Your take on today's news media


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EUROPE


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:32:37 PM EST
Jean-Claude Juncker admits sweetheart tax deals sullied reputation as EU head | World news | The Guardian

Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted his reputation as head of the EU executive has been sullied by the disclosure of sweetheart tax deals in Luxembourg that saved multinational companies tens of billions of euros.

The European commission president denied, however, that he was responsible for the controversial tax arrangements with companies such as Disney, Skype and Ikea. The revelations have put Juncker under pressure and triggered a censure vote in the European parliament. UK MPs questioned this week whether he should remain in his post as the EU's most powerful official.

..."I had contact with several, but not all of the firms mentioned," he said in an Austrian television debate with the Guardian and other European publications. "But I never interfered in the special tax rulings because under the law a Luxembourg finance minister is not allowed to. He is not allowed to influence the form of a specific tax file."

Juncker argued 22 of 28 EU countries behaved similarly in granting tax concessions to the multinationals and that there was nothing special about Luxembourg. Critics and experts agree countries such as the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands have been competing for business by bestowing favourable tax regimes on big firms but say that Luxembourg, the EU's smallest country, operated on a different scale of magnitude.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:32:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it is terrible that Junker has been involved in this, but the issue is not about the individual but the fact that institutionally, nobody ever saw problems with these arrangements

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 11:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Richard Desmond makes £300,000 donation to Ukip | Media | The Guardian

Daily Express owner Richard Desmond has thrown his financial support behind Ukip, pledging £300,000 to Nigel Farage's party less than five months before the general election.

The six-figure donation suggests that Desmond's stable of newspapers - the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday - will back Ukip ahead of the vote next May.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:32:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the Express stable joins ukip. A paper that just prints nonsense for a party that just talks nonsense

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 11:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clashes as protesters strike against labor reforms in Italy | News | DW.DE | 12.12.2014

The strike, called by the nation's biggest union coalition, the CGIL and two smaller confederations, the UIL and UGL, hit public transport, hospitals, schools and civil administrations across the country. More than 50 rallies were held nationwide, with around 40,000 participating at a demonstration in Rome.

...The new labor reforms are a bone of contention between Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Italy's workforce. The 39-year-old prime minister has proposed the "Jobs Act," aimed at loosening restrictions on companies wanting to fire employees when business is slow.

Unemployment in Italy is at a record 40 percent and workers' unions believe that the government needs to change its policies on employment rather than target the labor force. "The Jobs Act and the budget do nothing to revive the economy and create jobs," Susanna Camusso, head of the CGIL said.

I snipped the parts of the article where the DW desk editor frames the issue in a reformist-biased way...

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I snipped the parts of the article where the DW desk editor frames the issue in a reformist-biased way..."

Mercifully.  

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 07:56:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 39-year-old prime minister has proposed the "Jobs Act," aimed at loosening restrictions on companies wanting to fire employees when business is slow.
Sounds familiar? Ah yes, we've been hearing this in France and other European countries for the past forty years. Like burning a village in order to save it, this logic claims that, to create more jobs, you need to, you know, destroy jobs even faster.

Funnily, such policies have done nothing but let unemployment grow higher and higher for three decades in a row. I suppose that pointing out such an abysmal track record would get you accusations of "crass Keynesianism" or worse...

(my spell checker initially proposed: "to crate more jobs...")

by Bernard on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 05:27:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's becoming increasingly obvious to the workers how the ECB pretends to have their welfare in mind, its actions -and lack of- are pauperising whatever industries which are still hanging on by their nails.

The much touted 'foreign investment' then steps in to buy the firm for pennies on the dollar.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 05:51:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At a record 40%

That can't be right.  More German math I think.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 07:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Under 25 male unemployment.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 08:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the cited article? May be true but not the way it is presented.

Thus the comment about a certain kind of (distorted) math.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Dec 22nd, 2014 at 07:22:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 08:18:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monti comments
Il 14 febbraio 2012, quale premier e ministro dell'Economia, decisi di non firmare l'impegno che mi veniva richiesto dal Comitato olimpico internazionale per prendere in considerazione la candidatura di Roma all' Olimpiade del 2020. Firmandolo, avrei obbligato lo Stato, cioè in concreto i governi che sarebbero venuti negli anni successivi, a pagare ogni eventuale eccedenza di costi rispetto a quelli coperti dal comitato organizzatore.

Forse Renzi non ricorda quali erano le condizioni del Paese in quella fase. Lo spread non era più a quota 575 punti come nel novembre 2011, ma era ancora intorno ai 400 punti. Nei mercati e tra i governi dei maggiori Paesi erano ancora molti coloro che pensavano che l'Italia sarebbe uscita dal «rischio insolvenza» solo ricorrendo a prestiti di salvataggio della Ue e del Fmi, sottoponendosi così a «protettorato» da parte della troika. Del resto, molti osservatori attribuivano la crisi della Grecia, scoppiata nel 2009, anche alle conseguenze finanziarie dello sforzo olimpico. Quel 14 febbraio dissi in conferenza stampa: «Non vogliamo che la percezione che stiamo faticosamente cercando di dare dell'Italia negli ambienti internazionali, nell'Ue, nei mercati, possa essere compromessa da improvvisi dubbi, magari alimentati dai concorrenti dell'Italia nella sfida olimpica, circa la serietà dei propositi di risanamento finanziario del Paese.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 08:28:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An Olympic bid is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 10:11:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Former commander urges Nato to send arms to Ukraine | World news | theguardian.com

A former commander of Nato in Europe has called for the alliance to send arms and military advisers to Ukraine to help it fight Moscow-backed separatists.

James Stavridis said during a visit to London: "I think we should provide significant military assistance to the Ukrainian military. I don't think we should limit ourselves to, non-lethal aid. I think we should provide ammunition, fuel, logistics. I think cyber-assistance would be very significant and helpful, as well as advice and potentially advisers.

"I don't think there needs to be huge numbers of Nato troops on the ground. The Ukrainian military can resist what's happening, but they need some assistance in order to do that."

Yeah let's just escalate things until WWIII! Was this guy too young during the Cold War or was he one with the neocons who believed they can "win" WWIII?

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, speaking of the Moscow-supported seperatists, I am otld (as I don't understand the language) that this clip is a Ukrainian army officer returing from visisting prisoners in the eastern parts talking about russian troops and officers not being present there.

The channel Espreso TV made its name sending from Maidan, so no obvious pro-Moscow bias, rather the other way around.


Anyone wants to confirm that it is an accurate impression of what is being said?

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

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 07:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was representing two Ukrainian anti-war organizations (Combatant Professional Union, Antiwar Movement). Reiterates a couple of times antiwar wishes among the population and the Ukraine army, and anti-constitutional strategy of the Ukrainian government (on the conflict status, application of international laws like Geneva convention).

Part I:  2:18: Says that the prisoners, wounded are negative about the conflict, positive about the captive conditions. 4:12: Negative about Ukrainian army preparation, supplies, equipment.

Part II:  2:55: Says that saw Russian volunteers, Cossacks in Luhansk, but no regular Russian Army.  4:27: States that Ukrainian actions are often terrorist.

by das monde on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 10:54:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 21st, 2014 at 05:17:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 ECONOMY & FINANCE 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:33:40 PM EST
Paris attempts to reclaim council homes from wealthy, well-connected tenants | World news | The Guardian

Paris city authorities are attempting to wrest back control of thousands of council-owned homes, many of them in the French capital's most exclusive areas, that have been let for decades at below market rents to wealthy and well-connected tenants.

Some of the apartments were reportedly given to politicians, their family members and friends more than 30 years ago by the city's then centre-right mayors.

With property prices and rents rising to beyond the reach of ordinary Parisians, the Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, is determined to free up more council housing.

As well as a pledge to build more council homes, an audit has been carried out of 39,000 properties, owned and maintained by City Hall, known as "free rent" housing and outside official control.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:33:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just "reportedly", it's a fact, a throwback to Chirac's abuse of power as mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995. Mme Chirac's brother, for instance, has a nice little place in the Marais at give-away rent.

But these apartments are kind of bijou. What will Hidalgo do with them? Sell them and use the money to create new housing? Or, um, change the political colour of the privileged residents?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 01:53:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Swiss law allows more scrutiny of Fifa and IOC finances | Football | The Guardian

Putting sports officials on a legal level with political dictators, Swiss lawmakers passed legislation allowing more scrutiny of bank accounts held by governing bodies and their leaders.

The law passed on Friday, in a 128-62 vote in the lower chamber of parliament, was prompted by Fifa bribery scandals in recent years. Switzerland-based sports leaders such as the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, and the IOC president, Thomas Bach, are now classed as "politically exposed persons" in wider legislation covering money laundering.

"Normally these rules are for politicians and dictators," said the Swiss lawmaker Roland Büchel.

Büchel said the law also applies to executive committee members and employees of sports federations. There are more than 60 based in Switzerland, taking advantage of traditional tax-exempt status and light competition regulation.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Baden-Württemberg leads EU in innovation | EurActiv

For the sixth time in a row, Germany's state of Baden-Wuerttemberg scored first place in the EU-wide innovation comparison. The result was announced by the State Statistical Office of Baden-Wuerttemberg on Thursday (11 December).

No other European region showed a higher investment of economic output in research and development. No region had a higher share of the labour force in research-intensive branches of industry. And the number of patent applications, relative to the population, was also unparalleled in the EU.

They don't say why, but I suspect the PV industry is a significant part of the reason.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:34:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 WORLD 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:34:30 PM EST
I interrogated the top terrorist in US custody. Then the CIA came to town | Ali Soufan | Comment is free | theguardian.com

In the middle of my interrogation of the high-ranking terrorist Abu Zubaydah at a black-site prison 12 years ago, my intelligence work wasn't just cut short for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques to begin. After I left the black site, those who took over left, too - for 47 days. For personal time and to "confer with headquarters".

For nearly the entire summer of 2002, Abu Zubaydah was kept in isolation. That was valuable lost time, and that doesn't square with claims about the "ticking bomb scenarios" that were the basis for America's enhanced interrogation program, or with the commitment to getting life-saving, actionable intelligence from valuable detainees. The techniques were justified by those who said Zubaydah "stopped all cooperation" around the time my fellow FBI agent and I left. If Zubaydah was in isolation the whole time, that's not really a surprise.

One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why US officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren't. The answer, as the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report now makes clear, is that the architects of the program were taking credit for our success, from the unmasking of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 to the uncovering of the "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla. The claims made by government officials for years about the efficacy of "enhanced interrogation", in secret memos and in public, are false. "Enhanced interrogation" doesn't work.

Turns out Abu Zubaydah's misfortune was that the "enhanced interrogators" decided that he must confess to being al-Qaida #3, in spite of the FBI's information that he wasn't even a member.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:34:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
British agents may have known of `odd case' of CIA torture, says Lord West | US news | The Guardian

British agents may have been aware of the "odd case" of torture by CIA officers and may even have been present while waterboarding was happening but a full public inquiry would be a waste of time, Lord West, a former Home Office minister and ex-chief of defence intelligence, has said.

The senior Labour politician said there was no need for a new inquiry despite growing political pressure for a full investigation into British complicity in torture in the wake of a damning report about CIA torture of detainees in the wake of 9/11.

It's funny when the culprit decides that there is no need to investigate...

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:34:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The British learned a long time ago not to ask questions where you won't like the answer

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 12:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meet James Mitchell, CIA's post-9/11 torture architect whose firm we paid $80 million - Boing Boing

James Elmer Mitchell, a former Air Force psychologist credited with teaching the CIA how to torture war on terror detainees in the 2000s, is the subject of an on-camera interview with VICE correspondent Kaj Larsen.

This isn't the first time Dr. Mitchell has been profiled. We first heard about him in a 2005 New Yorker article, the New York Times, and the Guardian have explored the role he and Dr. Bruce Jessen played in designing the CIA's "Enhanced Interrogation Program."

But VICE got him on camera for a sitdown interview for the first time. When you watch it, remember: the contracting firm this man ran with Jessen is said to have received more than $80 million from the CIA to teach the CIA how to torture people. And some of that torture included anal rape, freezing people to death, and shoving hummus and nuts up men's asses.

Oh, and taxpayers covered $5 million in legal fees to then cover Mitchell and Jessen's own asses.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 04:19:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaining information is just cover.

The US tortures people for the same reasons that other empires has. It is used for domination, to coerce cooperation, to scare people, to satisy the urge for vengeance.

It was never about information, that is just the sales pitch.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 08:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't even make sense on that level.

I am very sure what is actually going on is that people in authority have simply watched too much "24" and similar drivel and are basing policy off that.

I come to this theory - That torture is simply happening because the people running the show are mind-numbingly stupid, based on the fact that the only thing torture is actually achieving is the erosion of US moral authority.
It isn't common or targeted enough to even register as a risk factor to people who grew up in places like saudi arabia or afghanistan.

But the fact that the US tortures? That proves that any claim the US makes to being a fundamentally different  country - a country of laws, principles and ideals, is a sham. So couple of centuries of building a mythology of being the city on the hill? The country that actually tries to be better? Lets just wreck that for.. No gain at all.

So, the only theories that fit the facts is that the US has a serious problem of Manchurian Candidates trying really hard to wreck things from within, or you know, the people in charge are very, very stupid.

It's basically the same "Hard Choices" fallacy that is wrecking the economy of the western world, policy makers doing things that are obviously, blatantly just flat out evil and then patting themselves on the back and naming it necessity. But that name is a lie. It's just Evil.

by Thomas on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 04:25:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mind-numbingly stupid would work except this is not new to the CIA.

CIA Torture Made Latin America Safe for China

In fact, as the Senate Intelligence Subcommittee's report on torture makes clear, a direct line runs between what happened in Central America and U.S. torture methods during the George W. Bush administration: An officer who had been rebuked by the CIA's inspector general for his interrogation methods in Latin America during the 1980s became the CIA's chief of interrogations in its Renditions Group in 2002.

They mainstreamed an oppression technique that sometimes work and sometimes doesn't. Fear and awe, but mostly fear.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 15th, 2014 at 03:56:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deterrence effects scale very badly from severity of consequence and very well from probability of said consequence occurring - this is well known and thoroughly proven, if not acted on in terms of policy very often.

In order to oppress via torture you have to torture a very high percentage of the people who are conspicuously annoying to your regime.
In other words, it was predictable that the US torture program wouldn't work, even if I assume the people in charge are actual mustache twirling imperialist sith lords. So, back to theory of "Stupid" and "overly fond of thriller plots".

by Thomas on Mon Dec 15th, 2014 at 10:49:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Court rejects attempt to allow Edward Snowden into Germany | US news | The Guardian

The Green and Left parties wanted the whistleblower to give evidence in person to a parliamentary committee investigating espionage by the US agency, but Germany's constitutional court ruled against them on Friday.

The government has argued that Snowden's presence in Germany could impair relations with the US and put it under pressure to extradite him.

It has suggested sending the committee - which consists of eight MPs - to interview him in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile. Snowden has said through a lawyer that he is prepared to speak to the panel only if permitted to do so in Germany.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:35:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Growing share of European development aid disguised as loans | EurActiv

EXCLUSIVE: About a third of German, and more than half of French development aid payments made since 2005 were in fact loans to poorer countries on which they will receive interests, EurActiv can reveal.

Last year, Germany and France fell far short of their 2015 development aid targets, despite bundling loans and domestic administrative costs with grants as part of their total payment.

In 2005, EU member states committed to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015. That was reaffirmed at a meeting of EU leaders in February 2013.

Only the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg hit the 0.7% target in 2013. Those countries used either no, or very few, loans to make up their numbers in 2013.

Note the mistake in the title: it should be loans disguised as aid, not aid disguised as loan...

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Africa's elite exploit Chinese development aid, study reveals | EurActiv

A recent study shows China's development aid for Africa flows primarily to the birth regions of leading African politicians, while geopolitical interests only play a secondary role for Beijing. EurActiv Germany reports.

China's growing importance for Africa is under increasing scrutiny from politicians in the West. This led an international research team, with members from the University of Heidelberg, to focus on Chinese development aid.

The results show Chinese development aid for Africa goes predominantly to home regions of leading African politicians. This also applied when there was greater need for aid in another part of the same country, the authors write.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Africa's elite exploit Chinese development aid, study reveals.

FIFY. In that, and many other areas, Chinese is little different from European or US "aid".

by Bernard on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 05:18:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed the second paragraph I quoted, though doubtless the work of a Euractiv desk editor, reads like a dead give-away of hypocrisy regarding embezzlement of Western aid by the same elites. However, this is still a valid counter to naive people who believe that Chinese development aid is somehow a better alternative to the West's.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 02:13:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you necessarily need to be naive to believe that Chinese aid is usually a better alternative. Simply having alternatives will tend to improve the bargaining power of the recipient country, which can hardly fail to improve the quality of the aid. Add to this the fact that China, as the geopolitical underdog and new entrant in most of these countries, normally does have to offer better deals.

Of course "better than the British Empire" is not precisely an impressively challenging bar to clear.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 03:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, it could have been say th Congo Free State...

the first PPP in world history.

by IM on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 04:09:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LIVING OFF THE PLANET
Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:35:57 PM EST
EUobserver / Scrapping of environmental plans 'alarming'

The commission is due to present its so-called working programme next week, but a draft of the 2015 legislative programme was leaked on Thursday (11 December).

The same day, the regional director of BirdLife Europe wrote an open letter on behalf of 10 environmental groups to commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, who is in charge of "better regulation".

"It is alarming that, despite all the public reassurances of President Juncker and yourself ... you seem to have immediately singled out key proposals for environment and health protection as your prime target", the letter said.

The letter, dated 11 December, was signed by groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:36:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 02:19:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New EU-wide food labelling rules begin to apply | EurActiv

New EU food labelling rules will come into force on Saturday (13 December). The aim is to ensure that consumers receive clearer and more accurate information about what they buy and eat.

The new rules will force restaurants and cafés to list 14 different allergens in the menus - including nuts, gluten, lactose, soy or milk.

Displaying allergens was until then only mandatory for pre-packed foods.

Nano components will also have to be included in the ingredients list. Oils will need to refer to the plants used in their production, such as sunflower, palm or olive.

Fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry will need to carry a mandatory origin label, with a font size of at least 1.2 milimetres.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:36:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Organic sector disappointed by Commission proposal | EurActiv

The Commission's attempts to reform organic farming regulations aimed both to ease certain controls and establish stricter production conditions. But France's organic farmers have not been impressed by the proposed changes, largely designed to reassure consumers, which they say may end by hampering production.

...Étienne Gangneron, the president of the Organic Agency, has described the Commission proposal as illogical. "The existing legislation can certainly be improved upon, but the reforms put forward by the Commission have surprised us all. They are not what the sector or the member states were asking for. This is a Commission initiative, and it generally makes no sense," he said, adding that the public consultation was largely ignored by the European executive when it came to preparing the final text.

The reform package also includes a proposal to lower the test thresholds and the level of analysis that organic farms are required to undergo. But according to Gangneron, organic farmers "willingly" subject their businesses to the current annual compulsory test and unannounced spot check.

For him, the controls placed on imported organic produce represent a greater problem. There are about 300 different organisations regulating organic produce in Europe, and he says that the harmonisation of standards and laboratory testing is essential "in order to reassure consumers".



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:36:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU court nails Austria, Poland over breaches to green energy rules | EurActiv

Austria is breaking European Union law with its plans to shelter energy-intensive industries from the cost of subsidising renewable power, one of the top EU courts said yesterday (11 December).

In a separate decision, an advocate general to the EU's highest tribunal, the Court of Justice of the European Union, found Poland had failed to implement in full the EU renewable energy law and should be ordered to pay a daily fine.

...Germany, by contrast, earlier this year won EU and court backing for its green energy scheme to the relief of big business.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:36:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil price plunge continues as IEA forecasts weaker demand in 2015 | Business | The Guardian

Benchmark Brent crude has fallen 46% since June and was close to $62 (£39) as the IEA warned of the threat of global social instability and the potential for financial defaults in big producer countries such as Venezuela and Russia.

The oil price has plummeted in response to a massive buildup of shale-derived oil in the US, reduced fears of fighting in Iraq disrupting supplies, and slower growth in demand as the world economy falters.

A decision by the Opec oil cartel two weeks ago to keep its production at existing levels has been taken as a signal by traders and shippers that the producers' cartel is happy to see prices fall for the forseeable future.

The IEA said in its December monthly oil report that it was cutting its 2015 demand growth forecast by 230,000 barrels a day to 900,000, partly because of falling output in former Soviet countries.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:36:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 LIVING ON THE PLANET 
 Society, Culture, History, Information 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:37:11 PM EST
There's a bureaucrat in your bathroom! | EurActiv

It used to be a favourite trick of the British media - ask a wild question at the Commission midday, get a hot denial, then take home your prize: "EU denies ban on bendy bananas" or some such "denial" headline. This produced more heat than light; it helped sell newspapers and entrench an angry view of Brussels.

In today's climate, Eurosceptic voices are alive and well. The Commission's Euromyths blog is a contemporary roll call of willfully far-fetched EU coverage, like a kind of demented Buzzfeed for EU affairs. Stories like "Bavarian farmer puts diapers on his animals to get around EU ban on fertilisers" would make amusing coffee break stories, if they weren't so damaging to public opinion. This spring is set to be a hot period for all the wrong reasons.

Step up Europe's hard-working Ecodesign Directive, already no stranger to the Euromyths hall-of-fame. It has a lot going for it. These are rules that industry, consumers, member states and we green NGOs all agree are needed. They steer consumers away from over-powered, noisy, often poor quality imports, towards alternatives that do the same thing, at no extra cost, but for less energy. But because they come from Brussels and have a whiff of micro-management, they can get a bad name. Long-agreed measures to phase out inefficient vacuum cleaners was spun into "vacuumgate" in the UK.

The German zeitgeist still wrestles with the lightbulb ban, even as efficient bulbs make its decarbonisation mission easier; and more recently Italians could be heard choking on their toast as they read about EU plans to ban all double toasters, a classic Euromyth. This spring, the Commission may tighten up on wasteful taps and showers. While luxury hotels already use efficient, bubbly tap and shower technology, the rest of us will no doubt have to live with sensationalist "Who wants a bureaucrat in their bathroom" headlines that will slow the uptake of good technology.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:37:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Symphysiotomy - Ireland's brutal alternative to caesareans | Life and style | The Guardian

Petrified and in agony, Mary had been subjected to a symphysiotomy - a controversial operation that was seldom used in the rest of Europe after the mid-20th century, but which was carried out on an estimated 1,500 women in Ireland between the 1940s and 1980s.

The procedure involves slicing through the cartilage and ligaments of a pelvic joint (or in extreme cases, called pubiotomy, sawing through the bone of the pelvis itself) to widen it and allow a baby to be delivered unobstructed.

Critics blame the continued use of the operation on a toxic mix of medical experimentation, Catholic aversion to caesarean sections and an institutional disregard for women's autonomy. They claim it has left hundreds of surviving women with life-long pain, disability and emotional trauma. For some in Ireland, it is yet another scandal perpetrated against women and girls, joining revelations over the Magdalene laundries (where "wayward" women were abused), the deaths of children at mother-and-baby homes and sex abuse in the Catholic church.

Not everyone agrees with this analysis: some doctors and historians argue that these criticisms fail to account for wider changes in medical culture. But this year the mothers who believe they were wronged finally got some encouraging news. In July, the UN Human Rights Committee called for the Irish government to hold an investigation into the issue. And last week saw the deadline pass for applications to the state's ex gratia redress scheme, which offered women who have been through the procedure compensation sums of between £40,000 and £120,000. More than 300 women are said to have applied.

Catholicism. Because there is no reason to wait for hell in the afterlife.

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

by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:37:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
words fail me

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 01:11:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia doping claims: documentary maker prepared to make sequel | Sport | The Guardian

The German journalist whose documentary lifted the lid on claims of systematic doping in Russian athletics has said he is prepared to make a follow-up after receiving more evidence. Hajo Seppelt, whose three documentaries for ZDF/ARD alleged systemic doping and a cover up involving IAAF officials, said the undercover documentary had led others to come forward with evidence.

"We did not plan a sequel, however, people are sending us more and more evidence to back the claim that there is systematic doping in Russian sport," Seppelt told the Russian website Championat.com on Friday. "Therefore I do not want to categorically rule out such a move. If it is needed, we will film a second part."

Seppeld also praised the whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov, who formerly worked for Russia's anti-doping agency and was one of the main accusers in the programme. "He is an absolutely wonderful person. He is like the Edward Snowden in the world of sport. He wants to fight against doping," said Seppelt. "Vitaly was very convincing. He worked at Rusada to try and clean up the sport from illegal drugs. However, they covered up everything he was trying to do. Yulia Rusanova, who would become his wife, was also forced to take these tablets. He had no financial gain to make. He just wanted to tell the truth and be honest."

Seppelt also insisted that the evidence on a leaked list of more than 150 athletes with suspicious blood values, which included three British athletes, was more comprehensive than the IAAF had suggested. "The IAAF is trying to give the impression that all the details we had were individual blood values," he said. "That is simply not the case - there are several readings for each athlete."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris Rock Pens Blistering Essay on Hollywood's Race Problem: "It's a White Industry" - The Hollywood Reporter
It's a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I'm not even saying it's a bad thing. It just is. And the black people they do hire tend to be the same person. That person tends to be female and that person tends to be Ivy League. And there's nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, that's what I want for my daughters. But something tells me that the life my privileged daughters are leading right now might not make them the best candidates to run the black division of anything. And the person who runs the black division of a studio should probably have worked with black people at some point in their life. Clint Culpepper [a white studio chief who specializes in black movies] does a good job at Screen Gems because he's the kind of guy who would actually go see Best Man Holiday. But how many black men have you met working in Hollywood? They don't really hire black men. A black man with bass in his voice and maybe a little hint of facial hair? Not going to happen. It is what it is.
by Bernard on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 02:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French feminists protest 'gendered' toys on Xmas shelves - Europe News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

A group of feminists, some dressed as princesses and maids, briefly occupied a Paris toy shop Saturday to protest the gender stereotypes fuelled by toys in the run-up to Christmas.

Slamming the prevalence on store shelves of pink-clad dolls for girls and swords for boys the protesters urged shoppers to opt for gender-neutral gifts.

"The conditioning starts with toys," said Roselyne Segalen of the group Chiennes de Garde (Watch Dogs).

"Gendered toys such as science kits for little boys and tea sets and makeup for girls are shockingly regressive," she said.

On the same subject:

Toys are more gendered now than they were 50 years ago - Boing Boing

Before Reagan's FCC deregulated kids' TV and allowed toy-makers to produce 22-minute commercials disguised as cartoons, there had been major strides in de-gendering toys, grouping them by interest, rather than by constraining who was "supposed" to play with them.

Elizabeth Sweet, a postdoc at UC Davis, rounds up the research on how toys are marketed and presented as being exclusively for one gender or another (the Disney Store website only has "For boys" and "For girls" sections, with no toys presented as unisex at all). She traces the regressive trend to excluding children from toys based on gender to the deregulation of the 1980s.

It's an interesting codicil to Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, which argues that most progressive, humane, and humanitarian rules arose in the post-war period, when the capital of the world's wealthiest had been eroded by two great wars, depriving the rich establishment of the power to exclusively rule government.

by Bernard on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 03:19:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminded me of that little girl who made the headline recently:

One pissed-off little shopper...

by Bernard on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 03:24:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of something. The Japanese version of animated and printed cartoons (anime and manga) have several genres, chiefly according to age group and gender. However, a significant part of the consumers of the most popular shounen genre (for teenage boys) are girls, what's more, some outstanding authors (like Hiromu Arakawa) are females who didn't like the constraints of the for-female genres.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 15th, 2014 at 02:02:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just toys. Now a lot of things for children are strictly either blue or pink. When I was a little kid, these colours were rather rare on children's stuff. In clothes, white, khaki and multi-coloured striped/chequered stuff was much more widespread, and clothes could be 'inherited' from older brothers to younger sisters.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 15th, 2014 at 01:56:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ON THIS DATE


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:38:05 PM EST
'The Chechen wars murdered Russian democracy in its cradle' | World news | The Guardian

On 11 December 1994, the first Chechen war began. It is worth remembering what preceded the outbreak of this bloody war that did so much to change the course of our nation's history. The first and second Chechen wars murdered Russian democracy in its cradle, for when the cannons sing the people thirst for blood and opponents of government become traitors to the nation; elections lose their meaning and parliament ceases to be a place for discussion.

Everything that has happened since then and all that is happening today is but a consequence of this war.

...Yet this madness could have been prevented: all responsible politicians, more or less, called on Yeltsin to pick up the phone, ring Dudayev and come to an agreement. In response to their appeals, the presidential administration announced that it was impossible to reach the Chechen leader by phone.

On 1 December 1994, at a time when the noises coming out of the Kremlin suggested that the government was making fitful attempts to establish contact with Grozny, journalists from Novaya Gazeta sat around a landline and attempted to reach Dzhokhar Dudayev on the phone that lay in his reception room. On the first call, fifth ring, a man picked up the receiver. Hearing journalists on the other end, he went in search of his boss and a few minutes later, we opened a dialogue with the President of Chechnya.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:38:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
13 December 1294 – resignation of Pope Celestine V, founder of the Celestine order. He was the fourth of only five Popes to resign to date. He wanted to return to his previous life as hermit, but his successor Boniface VIII prevented that by imprisoning him, he died ten months later


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
14 December 2004 – official inauguration of the Millau Viaduct (a menth before schedule)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:38:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 PEOPLE AND KLATSCH 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:38:54 PM EST
Hungarian masterpiece spotted in Stuart Little film to be auctioned | World news | The Guardian

On Saturday night, the undisputed main attraction will be Róbert Berény's exquisite Sleeping Lady with Black Vase, a previously lost art deco portrait of his second wife, Eta, that was spotted in the background of the children's movie Stuart Little and has shone the international spotlight once again on the Hungarian painter.

Even the film's star, Hugh Laurie, was moved to tweet last week that he had been a "little hurt to discover the foreground performances couldn't hold the attention". "But still," he wrote, "what an honour."

It was art historian Gergely Barki who identified the lost work five years ago after reluctantly switching the film on to appease his bored daughter at Christmas. "It was the best Christmas present for an art historian," he said.

Hungary's stormy 20th century played a part in the scattering of Berény's works - and relatives. Barki, who has rediscovered many of the country's lost paintings, believes the painting is likely to have been sold in 1928 in Hungary "because that was when it was last exhibited and as most of the buyers were Jewish, it probably left the country as a result of the war".



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 03:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Noel Gallagher: 'I'd have eaten Bastille alive in an afternoon' | Music | The Guardian

During an interview for the BBC Master Tapes show, via NME, a member of the audience questioned the Oasis founder about the health of the current British music scene. "You only have to look at the charts, what happened at the end of the 90s, all those bands used to be in the top 10, like us, Manics, Pulp, the Verve, Suede and Blur, and I think bands like that have been marginalised and sidelined," he said. "There's X Factor and all that kind of thing, but you name me the last great band that came out of this country? There's not really been any great bands in the last 10 years."

Specifically lamenting the lack of exciting bands (adding that One Direction were "not a band" but a group), Gallagher said that Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian had done little in the last decade to expand the variety of musicians operating in an increasingly middle-class music industry:

Shame on those two bands for a start because they didn't inspire anybody else. The working classes have not got a voice any more. There doesn't seem to be a noise coming from the council estates, you know what I mean?

I'd have eaten Bastille alive in an afternoon in the 90s, one interview, destroyed, gone, never to be heard of again. Easy, had 'em for breakfast. My bass player summed it up - we're constantly saying: `Where is the next band coming from?' and he rightly says: `Never mind the band, where are the people?'"



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 12th, 2014 at 04:03:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The sound of the council estates is dubstep, trap and even trance, so it's not a surprise our Noel hasn't heard it, what with his old-fashioned attachment to self-destructive narcissism and guitars.

The dance music charts rarely make it to the mainstream, so if you're not a regular on Beatport you won't know about them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 06:43:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was once a looker, you know.
by IM on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 01:24:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barack Obama, His Mother, and the CIA   Boiling Frogs Post  H/T Dan Lynch, (FBF)

In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as "a consulting house to multinational corporations" in New York City, and his functions as a "research assistant" and "financial writer".

Oddly, Obama doesn't mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.[10]

The British journal, Lobster -- which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters -- has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.[11] In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.12 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington's nuclear desires, was reinstated to power -- R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.  
In his book, not only doesn't Obama mention his employer's name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left -- including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)[13] -- it's reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.


See referenced article for numbered links.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 13th, 2014 at 07:46:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama's working for Business International is certainly suggestive. His mother's working with CIA-infiltrated organisations, frankly, isn't. How could an American anthropologist work in the Asia-Pacific region at that period without working with CIA-infiltrated organisations? Clearly, not at all.

But the paragraph on the Fiji coup of 1987 is bullshit. Suggested reading. The coup was a personal initiative of its leader, prompted by the election of an ethnic Indian prime minister. Any CIA involvement was marginal at best, and the offhand denial of any indigenous agency in the affair is rather insulting.

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

by eurogreen on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 09:01:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
the offhand denial of any indigenous agency in the affair is rather insulting.

...and yet all too frequent in certain circles that think themselves as progressive. Progressive, not to the point of conceiving that the natives may grow restless without the CIA telling them to...

Even though the USA doesn't have the same colonialist past as European nations, paternalism is still alive and well.

by Bernard on Sun Dec 14th, 2014 at 01:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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