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

18-19 August 2014

by afew Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 03:55:23 PM EST

Your take on today's news media


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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:41:32 PM EST
Electric cars fail to rev up car-mad Germans

Germans are mad about cars and Germany is ranked the most fuel-efficient country on the planet, but when it comes to electric vehicles, Europe's top economy is in the slow lane.

And moves by the government last week to try to jump-start public interest in the technology are unlikely to change much, experts say.

In 2009, Chancellor Angela Merkel set an ambitious target for one million electric cars to be on the road in Germany by 2020, and this in a country where some motorways are free of any speed limit.

"We're confident that we'll reach that goal," Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said as recently as last week when he launched a number of new electromobility initiatives.

But for Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, expert at the CAR Center for Automotive Research at Duisburg-Essen University, the target was totally unrealistic.

Merkel "might have just as easily said that we would have 100,000 cars driving on the moon by 2020," he said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel "might have just as easily said that we would have 100,000 cars driving on the moon by 2020," he said.

Sounds more like Renzi!

'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 Aug 17th, 2014 at 08:40:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The slow adoption of electric motoring might.. this is a crazy idea, I know, but just might! have something to do with the very high electricity prices faced by private consumers in Germany.
Less sarcastically, it is important to keep costs in mind when cleaning up the grid, or you inevitably slow down or prevent the substitution of electricity for fossil fuel in the parts of the economy not already on the grid.
by Thomas on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 02:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That suggestion might have more weight if petroleum-and-agri liquid fuels were conspicuously cheap, which is hardly the case.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 03:37:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine to Work Out Ceasefire 'Roadmap' in Berlin | Politics | RIA Novosti

BERLIN, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - The foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine will meet on Sunday in Berlin to develop a "roadmap" for a ceasefire in the east of Ukraine, says German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"First of all, we are talking about a roadmap and a framework for effective border control. It is only by following this path that eastern Ukraine can come to a settlement, and Kiev can continue the national dialogue and properly engage people from the east in it," according to the minister's statement, obtained by RIA Novosti. Steinmeier said he believed there was no simple solution.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:43:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine officially recognizes Russian aid convoy as humanitarian -- RT News

Ukraine Minister of Social Policy Lyudmila Denisova has signed an order officially recognizing the Russian convoy stuck at the border as humanitarian aid cargo of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"In accordance with Articles 4 and 5 of the Law of Ukraine 'On Humanitarian Aid' considering the initiative of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on receiving humanitarian aid within the framework of international humanitarian missions under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to recognize the cargo as humanitarian aid," the document reads.

Russian and Ukrainian officials have agreed on Sunday to proceed with the inspection of the first group of 16 Russian trucks of the humanitarian convoy, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The ICRC will be supervising the delivery of the aid and will go ahead after it receives security guarantees from the warring sides in Ukraine.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / Nato chief warns Russia against 'green men' tactics

BRUSSELS - Philip Breedlove, Nato's top military commander, has said that if Russia does what it did in Crimea to a Nato state, it would be considered an act of war against the alliance.

Referring to Russia's actions in Crimea in March, he told Germany's Die Welt newspaper on Sunday (17 August): "The most important thing is that Nato nations are prepared for the so-called green men: armed military without insignia who create unrest, occupy government buildings, incite the population; separatists who educate and give military advice and contribute to the significant destabilisation of a country ... there is a danger that this could also happen in other eastern European countries".

He added: "I want to clarify one thing: If foreign forces seep into Nato territory, and if we can demonstrate that this approach is an aggression - then this means Article V [of the Nato treaty on collective defence] ... this means a military response to the actions of the aggressor".

Breedlove and Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen sent out a similar message in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:20:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The most important thing is that Nato nations are prepared for the so-called green men: armed military without insignia who create unrest, occupy government buildings, incite the population; separatists who educate and give military advice and contribute to the significant destabilisation of a country ... there is a danger that this could also happen in other eastern European countries".

Perhaps a sense of irony is a disqualifier for top NATO commanders.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 09:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why "perhaps"?

This one's called Strangelove, and he doesn't see the joke.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 10:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is always the worst kind. Sadly, such blindness seems to be a strong factor in advancement.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 11:08:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Ukraine refugee convoy hit by rockets, says military

Many people died when rockets and mortars hit vehicles moving refugees from the Luhansk area of eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military says.

Ukraine has blamed pro-Russian rebels but they have denied carrying out the attack, near the village of Novosvitlivka.

A rebel news outlet reported a heavy exchange of artillery fire in the area.

Ukrainian forces have moved into the outskirts of rebel-held Luhansk where basic supplies are running out.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:21:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some Progress Made During Ministerial Ukraine Talks in Berlin - Russia | World | RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France have made some progress during Sunday's talks on the settlement of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The sides discussed international efforts towards the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, the ministry reminded.

"Some progress was made in all issues. It was agreed to continue the dialogue in this format, which could find concrete proposals for consideration of Russian, German, France and Ukraine leaders," the ministry wrote on its Facebook page.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:33:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pauline Pearce accuses Lib Dems of 'neanderthal views on diversity' | Politics | The Guardian

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to examine allegations of discrimination made by Pauline Pearce, the "Hackney heroine" who confronted rioters in 2011, after she abandoned her campaign to become party president on the grounds of its "neanderthal views on diversity".

A spokeswoman for the Lib Dems said that the party was saddened to hear that Pearce had decided not to contest the senior post and asked for her to pass on any evidence of discrimination.

Pearce, who rose to national celebrity after her intervention during the riots, posted a five-minute video on her Facebook page in which she expressed her disappointment that she had encountered what she described as a patronising attitude from the party.

In a note attached to the video, Pearce said: "Sadly the Liberal Democrats, like all political parties, need to look again at their too often neanderthal views on diversity, inclusivity and accessibility."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Neanderthals had LibDem views on diversity, they would never have let homo sapiens in to take over.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 04:24:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is far too true that, while nationally the LDP are very open and tolerant, at local level they have often run extremely nasty and divisive campaigns

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 02:08:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For 'Let's support the Tories' values of tolerant, anyway.

The Lib Dems, the Soc Dems, and the rest have always been spoiler parties, designed to keep Labour policies out and Tory policies, in while hiding behind a thin facade of middle class progressivism.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 05:46:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French conservative aristocrat defends plans for Russian theme park - France - Russia - RFI

The French aristocrat and conservative politician who paired up with a blacklisted Russian oligarch to build amusement parks in Crimea and Moscow defended his plans on Saturday and lambasted EU sanctions as a "reign of terror."

Philippe de Villiers, the founder of the widely popular Puy du Fou theme park near the western city of Nantes and leader of the eurosceptic Movement for France party, announced his plans with Konstantin Valerevich Malofeev on Friday.

The Puy du Fou park was named the world's best amusement park in 2012 and and attracted 1.7 million visitors last year.

Villiers, 65, says he hopes to replicate its success in Moscow and on the Crimean peninsula in a joint venture with Malofeev, a banker and prominent personality in Russian orthodox conservative circles who embraces expansionist ideologies.

(...) Russian media reported that the "Tsargrad" parks will not be just a place for fun, but rather an immersion into the history of Russia.

(...) The agreement was signed on Friday, a day after the elder Villiers met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the seaside resort of Yalta in Crimea.

"Politicians are weaklings. It's another thing to fight for civilisation and for values that I have always defended, for a non-globalised world that nourishes deep roots, which Vladimir Putin seems the sole head of state to defend today," Villiers told French radio RTL. "It's true, I love Russia, I identify with it, I feel good there."

The far right's fascination for Putin. In other news, de Villiers is a nutcase.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 03:13:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow. I didn't see that coming. Nationalist/monarchists/nostalgics for the Dark Ages/Roman Empire... of the world, unite! With Vlad, they can act out their role-playing fantasies on an epic scale.

But wait, it gets worse...

French politician defends plan for Crimean theme park - Telegraph

The park near Moscow is to be devoted to Russia's 1812 defeat of Napoleon's army in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War.

 [...]
 He said the European sanctions against Mr Malofeev, whom he described as a "friend", were "only based on his opinions", adding: "He is being condemned for his statements about his love for Russia. The European Union has regressed to the time of the Reign of Terror." Mr de Villiers' company, Puy du Fou International, and Mr Malofeev are to invest at least four billion roubles (£66 million) in the two theme parks.

Experts on international law said any business transaction with Mr Malofeev or other individuals named in the EU blacklist would be prohibited under the sanctions.

However, Mr de Villiers said it would be "unthinkable" for the EU to penalise his company "because we are going to create jobs in France".

"The European Commission has not yet handcuffed the managers of Puy du Fou because Philippe de Villiers went to meet Mr Putin," he said.

... The man is a traitor. Not because of sanctions busting; but for helping the Russians celebrate their victory over France (Villiers sees Napoleon not as Emperor, but as an emanation of the hated Revolution).

Can we have a macro for [Russophobia alert!] ??

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

by eurogreen on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 05:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
((russophobia))

[Russophobia alert!]

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 03:45:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Britain's EU exit could lead to banking exodus | EurActiv

Some Wall Street banks are drawing up preliminary plans that include moving some of their London-based operations to Ireland to deal with the possible scenario of Britain leaving the European Union, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the situation.

Citigroup Inc (C.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) are considering Ireland as an alternative location for some of their European activities if they need to move them out of the UK, according to people familiar with the banks, the Financial Times reported.

The FT reported that the plans were at a very early stage.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:25:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:42:05 PM EST
What Do the World Bank and IMF Have to Do With the Ukraine Conflict? | Inter Press Service

The stakes around Ukraine's vast agricultural sector, the world's third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute a critical factor that has been overlooked. With ample fields of fertile black soil that allow for high production volumes of grains, Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe.

In the last decade, the agricultural sector has been characterised by a growing concentration of production within very large agricultural holdings that use large-scale intensive farming systems. Not surprisingly, the presence of foreign corporations in the agricultural sector and the size of agro-holdings are both growing quickly, with more than 1.6 million hectares signed over to foreign companies for agricultural purposes in recent years.

Now the goal is to set policies that will benefit Western corporations. Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.

Given the struggle for resources in Ukraine and the influx of foreign investors in the agriculture sector, an important question is whether the results of the programme will benefit Ukraine and its farmers by securing their property rights or pave the way for corporations to more easily access property and land.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:29:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"VP Joe Biden Promotes U.S. as Fracking Missionary Force On Ukraine Trip"

As the White House explains, "U.S. technical experts will join with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others in May to help Ukraine develop a public-private investment initiative to increase conventional gas production from existing fields to boost domestic energy supply."

3) Shale gas missionary work.

"A technical team will also engage the government on measures that will help the Ukrainian government ensure swift and environmentally sustainable implementation of contracts signed in 2013 for shale gas development," says the White House.  ExxonMobil Teaching Russia Fracking

Ironically, as the U.S. government teams up with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to teach Ukraine fracking in order to wean the country off of Russian gas, U.S.-based "private empire" ExxonMobil is doing the same work in Russia to help the country tap into its shale oil and gas bounty. 

Among its myriad partnerships with the Russian oil and gas industry, ExxonMobil has signed a joint venture in December 2013 with state-owned company Rosneft to help it tap the massive Bazhenov Shale basin.

And

The Fracking Issue | The Grapevine

Ukraine: With an estimated 1.2 trillion cubic meters of recoverable shale gas, mostly in the western part of the country, Ukraine has the third-largest such reserves in Europe. In 2013, Ukraine signs a $10 billion deal with Chevron and an equally lucrative one with Royal Dutch Shell. Then-president Viktor Yanukovich tells investors that the two deals could make Ukraine not only independent of Russia for its energy, but a net exporter of gas by 2020. Commenting on the two deals, The Financial Times reports that they "could increase tensions with Russia."

Bulgaria: In 2012, Bulgaria becomes the second European country (after France) to ban fracking. The ban compels the state to revoke a major shale-gas permit for Chevron. Right-wing National Council member Ivan Sotirov writes in Bulgaria's Trud newspaper that Russia, increasingly threatened by European countries' increasing energy independence via fracking, was behind massive anti-fracking street protests.



'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 Aug 17th, 2014 at 09:04:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Washington Times: Ukrainian energy firm hires Biden's son as lawyer. No connection, I'm sure.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 02:05:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They don't bother to hide much, do they, any more?

Appearance of impropriety etc 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 Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 01:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
great cartoon.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 02:12:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bulgaria is also earthquake sensitive.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 02:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No Fed fireworks, but plenty of clues, expected at Jackson Hole | Reuters

(Reuters) - Flashes of illumination rather than fireworks are expected at this week's annual meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Few predict anything so momentous as the speech by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke two years ago that paved the way for an unprecedented $85 billion per month stimulus plan.

But policymakers will discuss at length their thinking around the labor markets of major economies at the Aug. 21-23 meeting, perhaps dropping clues about the path for monetary policy in the months ahead.

The spotlight will be on Janet Yellen, who will speak on Friday in her first appearance at Jackson Hole as Fed chair.

"I don't think she's going to go anywhere close to monetary policy," said Stephen Lewis, chief economist at ADM Investor Services.

"The theme of the meeting is going to be dynamics of the labor market, which is a subject very close to her heart, and it is a key question for the Fed as it tries to work out what its policy should be over the next few months."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:42:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can central bankers succeed in getting global economy back on track? | Anatole Kaletsky

As Stanley Fischer, the new vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, lamented on August 11 in his first major policy speech: "Year after year, we have had to explain from mid-year onwards why the global growth rate has been lower than predicted as little as two quarters back. ... This pattern of disappointment and downward revision sets up the first, and the basic, challenge on the list of issues policymakers face in moving ahead: restoring growth, if that is possible."

The central message of Fischer's speech -- that central bankers and governments should try even harder than they have in the past five years to support economic growth -- was closely echoed by Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, at his quarterly press conference two days later.

(...) Even at the European Central Bank, the once taboo idea that monetary policy can be used to stimulate growth is suddenly open for discussion -- if not yet conventional wisdom.

Draghi, in his recent policy statements, has unequivocally promised that the European Central Bank would keep interest rates at zero far longer than the Fed and has openly welcomed the weaker euro this policy should produce. There has also been no criticism for this ultra-dovish policy from German Chancellor Angela Merkel or the Bundesbank -- if only because the German economy is reeling from the body-blow of the sanctions war with Russia and the violence in Ukraine.

But what of Fischer's discouraging caveat at the end of his quote? The challenge, he said, "is restoring growth, if that is possible."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 03:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't know if this has already been posted, but it's pretty interesting.

I particularly like how it zeroes in on the faith based nostrum in economics that there will always be new kinds of jobs...

(Annoying voice on the video though...)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 07:45:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When companies flee U.S. tax system, investors often don't reap big returns | Reuters

(Reuters) - Establishing a tax domicile abroad to avoid U.S. taxes is a hot strategy in corporate America, but many companies that have done such "inversion" deals have failed to produce above-average returns for investors, a Reuters analysis has found.

Looking back three decades at 52 completed transactions, the review showed 19 of the companies have subsequently outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index, while 19 have underperformed. Another 10 have been bought by rivals, three have gone out of business and one has reincorporated back in the United States.

Among the poorest performers in the review were oilfield services and engineering firms, all from Texas. Among them was the first of these companies to invert, McDermott International Inc (MDR.N), which moved its tax home-base to Panama in 1983.

Drugmakers are dominating the latest wave of inversions and most of them have outperformed the benchmark index. So far in 2014, five U.S. pharmaceutical firms have agreed to redomicile to Ireland, Canada or the Netherlands. Deals that have not been completed were excluded from the review.

It is impossible to know how the companies might have fared in the market had they not inverted. Innumerable factors other than taxes influence a stock's performance, and no two of these deals are identical, complicating simple comparisons.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Increasing top tax rate about fairness, say Greens - Election 2014 - NZ Herald News

The Green Party's policy of raising the top tax rate to generate close to $1 billion to tackle child poverty is not about penalising the rich but sharing the benefits of wealth more fairly, co-leader Metiria Turei says.

If the Greens got into Government, they would want to create a new top tax rate of 40 per cent for those earning above $140,000, Ms Turei announced at the party's campaign launch in Auckland.

The new top tax rate would affect only 3 per cent of all taxpayers, but the revenue raised would make "the world of difference to the hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty", she said. The tax threshold was set at $140,000 so MPs' salaries were captured.

And the government party's response :

National's Associate Finance Minister, Steven Joyce, said more taxes would result in a slower economy and fewer jobs. "Keeping with the plan is the best way of helping people."

The Greens' proposed 40 per cent top tax rate would affect many hard-working New Zealanders, including school principals, doctors and many small business owners, Mr Joyce said.

"We've been here before. A 40 per cent tax rate is damaging to the economy because it increases tax avoidance, penalises hard work and sends some of our best and brightest offshore.

"Just when the economy is heading in the right direction ... the Greens want to go back to the old tax-and-spend approach that clearly didn't work in the lead-up to the [Global Financial Crisis]."



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 09:05:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What, you have less than 40% top rate?

Wow, that's low. Well, it goes to prove that it does not matter what the level is, right wing parties will always claim that any rise will lead to mass tax evasion.

As for the offshore argument, it does look considerably weaker in New Zealand than, say, Northern France. It's not like there are many neighbouring countries available...

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 01:27:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:42:27 PM EST
The Nicaragua Canal - a disaster in waiting? - The Ecologist
A second canal joining the Pacific and Atlantic oceans is planned for Nicaragua, writes Nathan Wood. But the gigantic project is raising growing fears due to a grossly unfair contract, glaring failures of process, close links to the Chinese government, and its enormous - but uncosted - ecological impacts.

For the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, the Nicaragua canal could be seen as a much needed economic boost.

But the 278 kilometre project involves the construction of two deep water ports, two free-trade shipping zones, an international airport, an oil pipeline and a railway could be an environmental disaster.

With huge environmental impacts and questionable motives of those backing the project, economists, sociologists and environmentalists are already voicing concerns.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:49:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US air strikes aid Kurdish push on Mosul dam - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Kurdish forces aided by an expanded US air campaign have advanced to within kilometres of Iraq's largest dam, less than two weeks after it was captured by the Islamic State group.

General Tawfik Desty, a Kurdish commander, on Sunday told the AP news agency that his Peshmerga forces were in control of the eastern part of Mosul dam, and that fighting was still under way.

The claim, which Al Jazeera has not confirmed, comes after Kurdish forces took control of Tel Skuf, about 15km east of the dam, as well as the towns of Sharafiya and Batnaya, from the Islamic State group, formerly known as ISIL.

Their advance was aided by US air strikes on Islamic State positions. The US central command said it had launched 14 raids on Sunday, to support "Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defence forces ... to combat ISIL" - suggesting its role in northern Iraq had expanded beyond of "supporting humanitarian efforts".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:32:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope they are evacuating downstream. Countdown to dam demolition...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 06:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com: Iraqi forces fail to retake Tikrit (August 19, 2014)
The struggle came as further north, Kurdish and Iraqi military, with US help, worked to maintain control of Mosul dam, having reclaimed it from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, on Monday.
So they captured the dam, but what interests me is a detail I have not seen reported in other major English-language media:
Abu Abd al-Naami, a spokesman for the Council of Iraqi Revolutionaries, which represents some of the country's Sunni tribes that are fighting against the Iraqi government, claimed that Tikrit had come under attack from the Iraqi army, but that "tribal" and "revolutionary" forces had stymied the attempt.

Mr al-Naami, whose organisation insists there is no such body called Isis, added that fighting continued on the southeastern outskirts of the birthplace of executed former president Saddam Hussein.

To judge by other coverage, you'd think that "Sunni tribal" forces are on the side of the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Peshmergas fighting against ISIS. So there is an unreported elements t of inter-tribal warfare here and Western intervention is once again getting into a wasp nest which is poorly understood. But there is more, from the WSJ: Iraqi Military Launches Offensive to Reclaim Tikrit (August 19, 2014)
It also appeared to be aimed at redefining the narrative in a nation that saw its U.S.-trained military collapse under the Islamic State assault, with soldiers showing little resistance amid chaotic leadership.

"This was a surprise move and it seems to have been quite effective so far," said a senior official from the Kurdish Regional Government prime minister's office. Kurdish officials also confirmed that none of the region's Peshmerga units were active on the Tikrit front. Kurdish Pershmerga forces, supplied with weapons from the U.S. and other Western nations, have proved to be the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State.

...

With the Kurdish Peshmerga forces ascendant in the fight against militants, the Iraqi military has sought to reassert itself as the central government seeks to control the flow of Western arms through Baghdad, rather than see it parceled directly to Kurdish authorities, who have long sought an independent state.



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 Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2014 at 02:50:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I understand it, ISIS chased the government troops out of Tikrit and handed it over to the local vestigial Baathist and tribal Sunni militias who have been contesting it off and on since the invasion. i.e. what is lazily identified in the western media as the "Islamic republic" is a patchwork of highly-variable local situations.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Aug 20th, 2014 at 05:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The civil arab
Well, it sounds familiar to us, so familiar that many Palestinians took to Twitter to advise their American counterparts in Ferguson on how to deal with such attacks.  We saw tweets like, "Remember to not touch your face when tear-gassed or put water on it." And, "Always make sure to run against the wind /to keep calm when you're teargassed, the pain will pass, don't rub your eyes!" And my personal favorite, "Don't keep much distance from the police, if you're close to them they can't tear gas."  Yes, we Palestinians are very creative when it comes to anti-anti-protesting. We are professional protestors.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 04:22:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ABC
Transportation Security Administration workers will be getting training on how to recognize District of Columbia driver's licenses and identification cards.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district's delegate to Congress, says the training will help the TSA resolve the recurring problem of officers not recognizing the validity of District licenses at airports.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Aug 20th, 2014 at 11:52:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colombia? That's in South America. Get in the other lane.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Aug 20th, 2014 at 04:17:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:42:52 PM EST
Last chance to stop USDA approval of 2,4-D GMO crops - The Ecologist
The US is poised to 'deregulate' GMO corn, soybean and cotton varieties resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. The result will be a big increase in the use of those herbicides, as high as 600%. Only a huge public outcry can now stop the GMO-herbicide juggernaut.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed approval for new GMO corn and soybean varieties genetically engineered to be resistant to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D.

The approval comes despite USDA's acknowledgment that Dow's crops will trigger a three- to seven-fold increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D, foster 2,4-D resistance in weeds, and inhibit farmers' use of non-chemical weed control methods.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:51:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India's top court raps Modi government over filthy Ganges

India's top court on Wednesday accused the new Hindu nationalist government of failing to move on its promise to clean up the sewage-ridden, sacred river Ganges.

The Supreme Court urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to deliver a road map on its highly-publicised pledge to restore the Ganges, which is revered by Hindus and is believed to cleanse sins.

"You are showing no urgency to protect Ganga. Are you saving the holy river?" Justice TS Thakur asked the government's top legal adviser.

"This is a part of your manifesto. What is the government doing about it?

"You are showing no urgency in this matter, only in other matters. Issues that ought to be on the backburner are out on the frontburner," he added.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:16:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why the scientific case against fracking keeps getting stronger | Grist

On the political right, it's pretty popular these days to claim that the left exaggerates scientific worries about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." In a recent National Review article, for instance, a Hoover Institution researcher complains that 53 percent of Democrats in California support a fracking ban "despite the existence of little if any credible scientific evidence of fracking's feared harms and overwhelming scientific evidence of its environmental benefits, including substantial reductions in both local and global pollutants."

Three or four years ago, a statement like that may have seemed defensible. The chief environmental concern about fracking at that time involved the contamination of drinking water through the fracking process--blasting water, sand, and chemicals underground in vast quantities and at extreme pressures to force open shale layers deep beneath the Earth, and release natural gas. But the science was still pretty ambiguous, and a great deal turned on how "fracking" was defined. The entire mega-process of "unconventional" gas drilling had clearly caused instances of groundwater contamination, due to spills and leaks from improperly cased wells. But technically, "fracking" only refers to the water and chemical blast, not the drilling, the disposal of waste, or the huge industrial operations that accompany it all.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Investigation into sabotage at Doel nuclear power plant | The Bulletin

The federal anti-terrorism agency OCAD has joined in an investigation of an oil leak at the nuclear power reactor Doel 4 in Beveren, East Flanders. Last week the agency for nuclear control (Fanc) said it was looking into allegations of sabotage.

The reactor was shut down unexpectedly last week, after about 90,000 litres of oil leaked into the steam turbine, causing it to overheat. Electricity producer Electrabel called it "an apparently deliberate manual intervention".  A spokesperson for Fanc said inspectors had been to the scene and found "indications" that the leak had been caused deliberately.

The investigation began with representatives of the agency and Electrabel interviewing members of staff. The prosecutor's office of Dendermonde was then included in the enquiry, according to Jan Bens, director of Fanc, who previously served as the director of the Doel plant.

"There are numerous cameras on the site, but they don't see everything,

Who Could Have Predicted?


'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 Aug 17th, 2014 at 08:38:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:43:19 PM EST
Seven arrests in Ferguson, Missouri, on first night of curfew | Reuters

Reuters) - Police arrested seven protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, early on Sunday as they imposed a curfew aimed at quelling days of violence that erupted after an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer.

The latest confrontation occurred when demonstrators remained in the streets of the St. Louis suburb after the curfew took effect at midnight (0100 ET). Seven people were arrested for failing to disperse, police said.

A person was shot and critically wounded during the night. It was not clear why, and the shooter was still at large, police said.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon imposed the curfew on Saturday after a week of racially charged protests and looting over the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:23:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US orders federal autopsy on Ferguson teen - Americas - Al Jazeera English

The US attorney general has ordered federal aurhotiries to conduct post-mortem examination on the body of black teenager Michael Brown, shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Justice Department said on Sunday that Eric Holder had requested the autopsy because of the "extraordinary circumstances" of the case and at the request of Brown's family, who criticised a state examination as flawed.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:31:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
East Africa Breaks the Silence on Menstruation to Keep Girls in School | Inter Press Service

KAMPALA, Aug 15 2014 (IPS) - When Peninah Mamayi got her period last January, she was scared, confused and embarrassed. But like thousands of other girls in the developing world who experience menarche having no idea what menstruation is, Mamayi, who lives with her sister-in-law in a village in Tororo, eastern Uganda, kept quiet.

"When I went to the toilet I had blood on my knickers," she told IPS. "I was wondering what was coming out and I was so scared I ran inside the house and stayed there crying.

"I just used rags. I feared telling anybody."

Not having access to or being able to afford disposable sanitary pads or tampons like millions of their Western counterparts, desperate Ugandan girls will resort to using the local ebikokooma leaves, paper, old clothes and other materials as substitutes or even, as a health minister told a menstrual hygiene management conference this week, sitting in the sand until that time of the month is over.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Magpies 'don't steal shiny objects'

Magpies do not steal trinkets and are positively scared of shiny objects, according to new research.

The study appears to redeem the myth of the "thieving magpie", which pervades European folklore.

It is widely believed that magpies have a compulsive urge to steal sparkly things for their nests.

But Exeter University scientists show that the birds are actually nervous of such objects, presumably because they are novel and may prove dangerous.

The study involved a pile of shiny items (metal screws, small foil rings, and a small rectangular piece of aluminium foil), and a pile of the same objects covered with matt blue paint.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:37:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Headline should say 'Scientists steal magpies.'
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 05:53:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Ebola crisis: Protesters attack Liberia quarantine centre

A quarantine centre for suspected Ebola patients in the Liberian capital Monrovia has been attacked and looted by protesters, police say.

The incident happened in the densely populated West Point township on Saturday evening.

At least 20 patients who were being monitored for signs of the illness have left the centre.

Officials said blood-stained bedding looted from the centre posed a serious infection risk.

The protesters were unhappy that patients were being brought in from other parts of the capital, the assistant health minister said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:39:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class - Salon.com

So instead of somebody paying money to get their photo developed, and somebody getting a part of a job, a little fragment of a job, at least, and retirement and all the other things that we're accustomed to, it works informally now, and intangibly.

Yeah, and I remember there was this fascination with the idea of the informal economy about 10 years ago. Stewart Brand was talking about how brilliant it is that people get by in slums on an informal economy. He's a friend so I don't want to rag on him too much. But he was talking about how wonderful it is to live in an informal economy and how beautiful trust is and all that.

And you know, that's all kind of true when you're young and if you're not sick, but if you look at the infant mortality rate and the life expectancy and the education of the people who live in those slums, you really see what the benefit of the formal economy is if you're a person in the West, in the developed world. And then meanwhile this loss, or this shift in the line from what's formal to what's informal, doesn't mean that we're abandoning what's formal. I mean, if it was uniform, and we were all entering a socialist utopia or something, that would be one thing, but the formal benefits are accruing at this fantastic rate, at this global record rate to the people who own the biggest computer that's connecting all the people.

So Kodak has 140,000 really good middle-class employees, and Instagram has 13 employees, period. You have this intense concentration of the formal benefits, and that winner-take-all feeling is not just for the people who are on the computers but also from the people who are using them. So there's this tiny token number of people who will get by from using YouTube or Kickstarter, and everybody else lives on hope. There's not a middle-class hump. It's an all-or-nothing society.

Right, and also I think part of what you're saying too is that it's still in most ways a formal economy in that the person who lost his job at Kodak still has to pay rent with old-fashioned money he or she is no longer earning. He can't pay his rent with cultural capital that's replaced it.

Another huge part of the unemployment issue.

(h/t Sven)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there are very few industries that have been as totally wiped out by new tech as kodak was.

But what we have seen over the last 35 years is a concerted effort by corporations to increase profit by squeezing more productivity from fewer workers, outsourcing services from secure working and middle class internal employees to precariat providers who provide basic quality using minimum wage zero hours contractors.

This is just seems like an exercise in shifting the blame from the very rich who are making out like bandits onto a technology change.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 01:55:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whole social structure is nuts and decreasingly fit for any purpose.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 09:22:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Discovery of quantum vibrations in 'microtubules' inside brain neurons supports controversial theory of consciousness -- ScienceDaily
A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale activities inside brain neurons. The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in "microtubules" inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations, and that from a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.

Treating brain microtubule vibrations eh.

And to think we just used to call it music!

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 11:50:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Discovery of Quantum Vibrations in 'Microtubules' Inside Brain Neurons Supports Controversial Theory of Consciousness - disinformation

The theory, called "orchestrated objective reduction" (`Orch OR'), was first put forward in the mid-1990s by eminent mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, FRS, Mathematical Institute and Wadham College, University of Oxford, and prominent anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, MD, Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona, Tucson. They suggested that quantum vibrational computations in microtubules were "orchestrated" ("Orch") by synaptic inputs and memory stored in microtubules, and terminated by Penrose "objective reduction" (`OR'), hence "Orch OR." Microtubules are major components of the cell structural skeleton.

Orch OR was harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain was considered too "warm, wet, and noisy" for seemingly delicate quantum processes.. However, evidence has now shown warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird brain navigation, our sense of smell, and brain microtubules. The recent discovery of warm temperature quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons by the research group led by Anirban Bandyopadhyay, PhD, at the National Institute of Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan (and now at MIT), corroborates the pair's theory and suggests that EEG rhythms also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations. In addition, work from the laboratory of Roderick G. Eckenhoff, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that anesthesia, which selectively erases consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activities, acts via microtubules in brain neurons.

"The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?" ask Hameroff and Penrose in the current review. "This opens a potential Pandora's Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, `proto-conscious' quantum structure of reality."

Glad that's clear finally!

'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 Aug 19th, 2014 at 12:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:43:41 PM EST
Girl, 4, survives 11-day ordeal in bear-infested Siberian forest

A four-year-old girl was recovering in hospital Wednesday after being lost for nearly two weeks in a bear-infested forest in the Russian north with only her puppy to defend her.

Karina Chikitova was found emaciated but alive at the weekend, having survived 11 days in the Siberian wilderness, where temperatures plunge below freezing at night, with only berries to sustain her in what rescuers said was nothing short of a miracle.

The little girl had left her tiny village in Russia's Sakha region with her dog on July 29 to go and stay with her father who lived in a neighbouring hamlet.

But her father had gone to fight a wildfire and the girl apparently set off by herself into the forest to find him.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 12:54:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sofie Gråbøl: My Maoist mum made me confess to stealing from a supermarket | Life and style | The Observer
When I was 12 my mother moved us into a commune. Eight families ate together every night, saving a lot of time on shopping and cooking. Each adult had to cook only twice a month and each child once a month. So - the very first time I cooked in my life - I had to make burgers for 30 or more people. And I wonder where my great fear of failure at cooking comes from.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2014 at 02:58:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I might as well come clean: I ♥ Sofie Gråbøl.

There. Now it's out, I feel better.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 04:04:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She often asks about you...


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 07:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell her I'm still there for her. Whenever.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 at 08:01:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kim Dotcom: from playboy entrepreneur to political firebrand | Technology | The Observer

in the flesh he comes across less like an international fugitive from justice than a misplaced German exchange student. He's 40, and dressed in black as he invariably is, but there's still more of the teen geek about him than cyber outlaw being hunted by the FBI. Though that is exactly what he is: in the last two years, the founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload has become, for many, an internet folk hero. The US government alleges he is a pirate, a career criminal who swindled the Hollywood studios out of their rightful copyright earnings, and they are desperately trying to extradite him from his adopted home in New Zealand to stand trial in the US, where he faces up to 88 years in jail. To others, younger people predominantly, he's up there with Assange and Snowden: a web freedom fighter unwilling to kowtow to the US government's bullying ways.

At the event in Christchurch, he's articulate, intelligent, personable and in command of his facts, a naturally charismatic public speaker who has drawn a capacity crowd. The reason he's on stage is because his extraordinary career, one that includes three stints in jail, has just taken an even more extraordinary twist. He's founded his own political party, the Internet party, which he claims will be the start of a global political youth movement. And if this sounds like so much hot air, you'd be right... except that, in an even more bizarre twist, he may - may - succeed in bringing down the New Zealand government, a rightwing coalition led by former banker John Key.

On 15 September, five days before New Zealand's general election, Dotcom and Glenn Greenwald will be holding a press conference in Auckland at which Dotcom claims they will unveil explosive new revelations relating to the NZ and US governments' spying programmes. And owing to the country's highly complex proportional representation system - think Borgen-style machinations - the Internet party, and its alliance partner, Mana, a Maori social justice party, could hold the balance of power.

"Hold the balance of power" is the wrong way of putting it, because they will only support a government of the left. But they may well tip the balance to the left. Looking like four or five seats out of 120.

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

by eurogreen on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 08:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Aug 18th, 2014 at 09:01:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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