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

5-6 January 2015

by afew Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 04:02:33 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 Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:43:20 PM EST
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:51:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the way Chris Riddell plays on Private Affluence versus Public Squalor.

This, by the way, is from The Observer.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:39:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish I could say with confidence that it'd be any better under Ed Balls, but I can't.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 10:57:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All eyes on Berlin as ECB readies bond-buying scheme | Reuters

As Europe stumbles into 2015, dogged by weak growth and the prospect of deflation, Draghi is on the verge of launching mass purchases of government bonds with new money - also known as quantitative easing (QE) - in the hopes of jolting Europe's economy into life.

But this time, it is unclear whether he can count on the same clear support from Berlin.

Without it, the effectiveness of any QE program could be undermined. More fundamentally, a rift between Germany and the ECB would herald a dangerous new phase for Europe in which the bloc's two most important shapers of policy are at odds.

In a rare four-page interview with German daily Handelsblatt on Friday, Draghi appeared to go out of his way to reach out and avert such a clash, saying the risk of the ECB failing to preserve price stability had risen and it may need to act to meet its mandate.

"Germany's position on the QE program is arguably the single most important issue for the ECB right now," said Marcel Fratzscher, head of the DIW economic institute in Berlin and a former official at the ECB. "Support from both Merkel and (Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble will be absolutely vital."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:10:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe returns to Franco-German axis of neurosis

By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Europe's economic stagnation has a lot to do with its political paralysis. In 2014, the emphasis was on what governments should have done - and could still do - to boost the continent's potential after two years of EU economic contraction. In 2015, the crisis at the heart of Europe's malaise, the breakdown of the French-German partnership, will take centre stage.

Either Paris and Berlin make the case for a rejuvenated, reformed Europe and justify the hopes of the many countries which still want to join, or they fail and the European project is at risk of sinking slowly, from crisis to crisis, into oblivion. The EU has always been first and foremost a political project, kept in check by economic and financial market realities. If its two main architects lose interest, or are too focused on their own problems to work on their relationship, the undertaking can fast turn sour.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:24:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French mayor in racism row after dead Roma baby refused cemetery place | World news | The Guardian

A French mayor has been accused of being racist and inhumane after a two-month-old Roma baby who died at Christmas was refused permission to be buried in a local cemetery.

Christian Leclerc - mayor of Champlan, near Paris's Orly airport - was quoted as saying there were not enough places in the graveyard and that priority had to be given to "those who pay their local taxes".

The rightwing mayor's decision caused a wave of opprobrium from politicians, officials and support groups who accused him of racism and xenophobia.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:31:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:43:44 PM EST
′We can′t protect every sausage,′ says German agriculture minister over TTIP deal | News | DW.DE | 04.01.2015

Speaking with the German weekly news magazine, Spiegel, Schmidt said that German specialties could lose their European Union (EU) privileges as a result of the proposed EU-American Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which plans to enable free trade between the EU and America.

"If we want to take the chance to make the most of free trading with the huge American market, we can't protect every sausage and cheese as a specialty anymore," said Schmidt, who belongs to the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Merkel's CDU.

"The EU also protects specialties whose raw materials are no longer produced in their home regions," he criticized.

"It would be difficult to explain to our American trading partners that they can't export any Tyrolean ham or Dutch Gouda to us if we do not consistently enforce the protection," Schmidt added.

I thought we'd been assured that the TTIP wouldn't interfere with any of our agricultural and food regulations?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exposing Corporate Europe

Could the world's largest weapons company soon be managing part of our medical systems?

That absurd and nasty idea is being actively discussed. The National Health Service in England recently held a meeting for firms interested in providing support services to doctors. Among those firms were Lockheed Martin, the same company that has supplied interrogators to the US torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay, fighter jets to Israel and cluster bombs dropped by US forces in Afghanistan.

Not content with arming a superpower, Lockheed has been trying to muscle into civilian markets. For a number of years, it has been involved in running parts of the postal services in the US and Sweden.

The arms industry is hoping that the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will provide it with greater opportunities.

The Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) - an umbrella group for weapons-dealers - has calculated that more than half of the 24 topics raised in the initial stages of the EU-US trade talks affect the companies it represents. Top of the list is "government procurement" - a fancy term for providing goods to public authorities and, in some cases, letting corporations run vital services.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we'd been assured that the TTIP wouldn't interfere with any of our agricultural and food regulations?

Ummm, he was lying

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 11:11:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / TTIP's teflon coat wears thin
BRUSSELS - The prospect of an EU-US trade agreement was one of relatively few sources of comfort for EU lawmakers during the bloc's struggling economy in 2013.

Opening the first round of talks last July, European Commission officials and ministers spoke of a "debt free stimulus" that could be worth as much as €100 billion extra to the EU's GDP. Many governments described the potential deal as "win-win".

Trade officials concluded their seventh round of talks on the cumbersome-sounding transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) in Brussels in October 2014. Their plan to initial a draft agreement by the end of 2015 remains the goal.

But in 2014, TTIP's teflon coat started to wear off as politicians and trade negotiators got down to hard detail, while opponents of the talks got organised.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 12:47:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Piketty Says Gates Loves His Book While Disagreeing on Tax Plan - Bloomberg

Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose best-selling book has added tinder to the debate on income inequality, counts the world's richest person among his fans.

"I had this discussion with Bill Gates a couple of weeks ago," Piketty, the author of "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," said today at an economics conference in Boston. "He told me, `I love everything that's in your book, but I don't want to pay more tax." A tax on wealth is one of Piketty's key recommendations for addressing inequality.

"I understand his point," said Piketty, 43, who teaches at the Paris School of Economics. "I think he sincerely believes he's more efficient than the government, and you know, maybe he is sometimes."

Sure, at cornering a market.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:50:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's his assets/capital that should be subject to increased taxes, not so much him.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 07:22:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeffrey Epstein: International Moneyman of Mystery

Danny Hillis, an MIT-educated computer scientist whose company, Thinking Machines, was at the forefront of the supercomputing world in the eighties, and who used to run R&D at Walt Disney Imagineering, thinks Epstein is actually using scientific knowledge to beat the markets. "We talk about currency trading -- the euro, the real, the yen," he says. "He has something a physicist would call physical intuition. He knows when to use the math and when to throw it away. If I had acted upon all the investment advice he has been giving me over the years, I'd be calling you from my Gulfstream right now."

On the 727 these days, he has been reading a book by E. O. Wilson, the eminent scientist and originator of the field of sociobiology, called Consilience, which makes the case that the boundaries between scientific disciplines are in the process of breaking down. It's a view Epstein himself holds. He wrote recently to a scientist friend of his: "The behavior of termites, together with ants and bees, is a precursor to trust because they have an extraordinary ability to form relationships and sophisticated social structures based on mutual altruism even though individually they are fundamentally dumb. Money itself is a derivative of trust. If we can figure out how termites come together, then we may be able to better understand the underlying principles of market behavior -- and make big money."

Make big money eroding all that's true and good about democracy by burrowing through its beams and causing it to crumble into fascism-lite.
Nice mission
...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 06:22:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Either he has found some usable pattern and is stupid enough to brag about it or - like every case before - he uses a combination of mumbo-jumbo, ponzi-mechanisms and luck to create that impression. If I were betting, I would bet on the latter.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jan 7th, 2015 at 07:29:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:44:03 PM EST
Pakistan's Tribal Areas Demand Repatriation of Afghan Refugees | Inter Press Service

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan 1 2015 (IPS) - They number between two and three million; some have lived in makeshift shelters for just a few months, while others have roots that stretch much further back into history. Most fled to escape war, others simply ran away from joblessness.

Whatever their reasons for being here, Afghan refugees in Pakistan all now face a similar plight: of being caught up in the dragnet that is sweeping through the country with the stated goal of removing `illegal' residents from this South Asian nation of 180 million people.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), some 1.6 million Afghans are legally residing in Pakistan, having been granted proof of registration (PoR) by the U.N. body. Twice that number is believed to be unlawfully dwelling here, primarily in the northern, tribal belt that borders Afghanistan.

Most arrived during the Soviet invasion of 1979, the chaos of war squeezing millions of Afghans out of their embattled nation and over the mountainous border that stretches for some 2,700 km along rocky terrain.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Boko Haram seizes army base in Nigeria town of Baga

The militant group Boko Haram has seized a town and key multinational military base in north-eastern Nigeria, officials and eyewitnesses say.

A senator in Borno state said troops had abandoned the base in the town of Baga after it was attacked on Saturday.

Residents of Baga, who fled by boat to neighbouring Chad, said many people had been killed and the town set ablaze.

Baga, scene of a Nigerian army massacre in 2013, was the last town in the Borno North area under government control.

It hosted the base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), made up of troops from Nigeria, Chad and Niger.

Set up in 1998 to fight trans-border crime in the Lake Chad region, the force more recently took on Boko Haram.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:14:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cuba and United States Now Foment Moderation in the Americas | Inter Press Service

RIO DE JANEIRO , Dec 23 2014 (IPS) - With the decision to reestablish diplomatic ties, Cuba and the United States, polar opposites that have long inspired or fomented extremism of different kinds in the Americas, have now become factors of moderation and pragmatism.

The continued isolation of Cuba 25 years after the end of the Cold War was so widely rejected that the U.S. embargo, which dates to October 1960, has completely lost relevance. But it can only be abolished by the U.S. Congress. It is politics that reigns in this case.

Moreover, the measures announced by U.S. President Barack Obama on Dec. 17 undermine the embargo. Raising the quarterly limit of cash remittances to Cuba from 500 to 2,000 dollars and freeing up transactions between banks in the two countries are just two examples.

Another initiative, the removal of Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, opens doors to external financing that were closed up to now.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:16:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OPINION: Quo Vadis? Post-Benghazi Libya | Inter Press Service

NEW YORK, Jan 4 2015 (IPS) - A concerted disinformation campaign is being conducted to manufacture consent for military action against the government in Tripoli and the town of Misrata, which has been at the forefront of toppling the despotic Gaddafi dictatorship.

It is ironic that the very same people who called in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) led airstrikes on satellite phones in 2011 are now being labeled as dangerous `Islamist militants'.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It looks like Western policymakers and legislators in the U.S. and Europe, and the United Nations may all be misinformed, which in turn could unleash catastrophic consequences for the people of Libya.  Undoubtedly a protracted civil war in Libya will swell the numbers of refugees fleeing to Europe manifold.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:19:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Paris prépare le terrain à une opération en Libye - Libération
Les jihadistes chassés du Mali sont repliés dans le Sud libyen, qui échappe à tout contrôle étatique.

Le ministre français de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, a achevé vendredi une tournée dans le Sahel destinée à accélérer la mobilisation internationale en faveur d'une intervention en Libye. Mais une telle option nécessite d'abord un feu vert politique, en l'état toujours hypothétique.

French Defence minister working to prepare military intervention in Libya.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:22:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French defense minister in surprise visit to desert base near Libya

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian paid a surprise visit to northern Niger Thursday, to visit a base being built to combat the growing flow of weapons and jihadists from neighbouring Libya.

Le Drian travelled from Chad to Madama, a desert outpost about 100 kilometres from Libya, where he saw in the New Year with troops at a French base.

Madama is situated on the route used by jihadists and arms smugglers in southern Libya to reach northern Mali and Niger.

Le Drian said his visit demonstrated France's "determination... against the jihadists, terrorism and those who want to transform this ancient caravan route into a route of violence and trafficking".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:37:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US and Russia in danger of returning to era of nuclear rivalry | World news | The Guardian

A widening rift between Moscow and Washington over cruise missiles and increasingly daring patrols by nuclear-capable Russian submarines threatens to end an era of arms control and bring back a dangerous rivalry between the world's two dominant nuclear arsenals.

Tensions have been taken to a new level by US threats to take retaliatory action for Russian development of a new cruise missile. Washington alleges it violates one of the key arms control treaties of the cold war, and has raised the prospect of redeploying its own cruise missiles in Europe after a 23-year absence.

On Boxing Day, in one of the more visible signs of the unease, the US military launched the first of two experimental "blimps" over Washington. The system, known as JLENS, is designed to detect incoming cruise missiles. The North American Aerospace Command (Norad) did not specify the nature of the threat, but the deployment comes nine months after the Norad commander, General Charles Jacoby, admitted the Pentagon faced "some significant challenges" in countering cruise missiles, referring in particular to the threat of Russian attack submarines.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:26:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh c'mon. We've had 25 years where neither military had been able to justify new and stupider toys on the basis that the other side was a danger and a threat. You didn't think that could last forever did you? They were bound to find an excuse sooner or later.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 11:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How and Why the Western News Media Get North Korea's Economy Wrong | what's left

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe had two additional effects on North Korea's economy.

First, it allowed the United States to ramp up its military intimidation of North Korea. In 1991, the top US military official at the time, Colin Powell, complained that "I'm running out of demons. I'm running out of villains. I'm down to Castro and Kim Il Sung." [3] With the Warsaw Pact out of the way, the United States could now concentrate on eliminating other communist states. In February 1993, Lee Butler, head of the US Strategic Command, announced that the United States was retargeting hydrogen bombs aimed at the old USSR on North Korea (and other targets), though at the time, North Korea was a non-nuclear weapons state. One month later, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. [4] Already on a permanent war footing--the Korean War had never officially ended and the United States had tens of thousands of troops garrisoned across the border in South Korea and in nearby Japan--North Korea was forced to devote a crushingly large part of its resources to its military and self-defense. Now the pressure on the North Korean economy was being ratcheted up further.

Second, the United States and its allies had maintained a wide-ranging system of sanctions on North Korea--more accurately described as a campaign of economic warfare, aimed at wrecking the North Korean economy. With the option open prior to 1990 of establishing economic ties and trading relationships with communist allies, North Korea was largely able to side-step the effects of the US-led campaign of economic warfare. However, after 1991 the door was closed, except for North Korea's relationship with its neighbor China.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 06:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia and China Mock Divide-and-Rule » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

To top it off, in 2014 President Xi Jinping has deployed unprecedented diplomatic/geostrategic frenzy - ultimately tied to the long-term project of slowly but surely keeping on erasing US supremacy in Asia and rearranging the global chessboard. What Xi said in Shanghai in May encapsulates the project; "It's time for Asians to manage the affairs of Asia." At the APEC meeting in November, he doubled down, promoting an "Asia-Pacific dream".

Meanwhile, frenzy is the norm. Apart from the two monster, US$725 billion gas deals - Power of Siberia and Altai pipeline - and a recent New Silk Road-related offensive in Eastern Europe, [4] virtually no one in the West remembers that in September Chinese Prime Minister Li Keiqiang signed no fewer than 38 trade deals with the Russians, including a swap deal and a fiscal deal, which imply total economic interplay.

A case can be made that the geopolitical shift towards Russia-China integration is arguably the greatest strategic maneuver of the last 100 years. Xi's ultimate master plan is unambiguous: a Russia-China-Germany trade/commerce alliance. German business/industry wants it badly, although German politicians still haven't got the message. Xi - and Putin - are building a new economic reality on the Eurasian ground, crammed with crucial political, economic and strategic ramifications.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 07:06:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama will chat with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto today about trade and commerce. But not about the recent massacre of students in Guerrero, or the apparent complicity of federal police in that massacre. (See Iguala: la historia no oficial) Given that the US has given Mexican security forces $2 billion to "fight crime," a few questions seem in order.

Asked about a letter sent the White House from Human Rights Watch on the subject, the press secretary's response was "We are aware of the letter." So, did you read it or not?

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson

by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 10:32:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:44:33 PM EST
Trafficking great ape body parts in Cameroon - Features - Al Jazeera English

Yaounde, Cameroon - For years, traffickers fuelled the slaughter of gorillas and chimpanzees in Cameroon's rainforests to meet demand for bush meat - an activity conservationists feared could wipe out the great apes in the wild in a few decades.

But now they fear a far worse scenario is taking place.

A previously unknown trade in ape heads, bones and limbs - rather than full bodies for meat - is encouraging poachers to kill more animals than previously done, and wildlife law enforcement officials say it is speeding up population decline.

"We may be looking at something that is developing down the road of ivory trafficking," said Eric Kaba Tah, deputy director of the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA), a non-profit wildlife law enforcement body based in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plan to lift US oil export ban worries Putin, OPEC | neurope.eu

As the war to control global oil markets intensifies, US President Barack Obama has quietly sanctioned the easing of America's 40-year ban on exporting crude, reportedly telling oil companies they can begin to export shipments of condensate without going through the formal approval process.

The move could signal that a full opening of the export ban, which has existed since the oil shock of the 1970s, is imminent. "I would say the odds have increased significantly in the last three to six months," Fadel Gheit, a senior analyst at Oppenheimer in New York, told New Europe on January 2, asked to comment on whether the US will lift the export ban.

The US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has authorised several energy companies to export so-called ultra-light oil, as stocks in the US have increased following the development of shale deposits. Supplies can start as early as August, although initial volumes are likely be small.

According to the estimates of the Brookings Institution in Washington, in 2015 the US will be able to sell abroad about 700,000 barrels of oil daily.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New challenges for ocean acidification research

To continue its striking development, ocean acidification research needs to bridge between its diverging branches towards an integrated assessment. This is the conclusion drawn by Prof. Ulf Riebesell from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Dr. Jean-Pierre Gattuso from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Universite Pierre et Marie Curie.

In a commentary in the journal "Nature Climate Change", the two internationally renowned experts reflect on the lessons learned from ocean acidification research and highlight future challenges.

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide problem". It is time to reflect on the successes and deficiencies of ocean acidification research and to take a look forward at the challenges the fastest growing field of marine science is facing.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters discovered deep underground

A team of scientists, led by the University of Toronto's Barbara Sherwood Lollar, has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometres beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia.

Common in Precambrian Shield rocks - the oldest rocks on Earth - the ancient waters have a chemistry similar to that found near deep sea vents, suggesting these waters can support microbes living in isolation from the surface.

The study, to be published in Nature, includes data from 19 different mine sites that were explored by Sherwood Lollar, a geoscientist at U of T's Department of Earth Sciences, U of T senior research associate Georges Lacrampe-Couloume, and colleagues at Oxford and Princeton universities.

The scientists also explain how two chemical reactions combine to produce substantial quantities of hydrogen, doubling estimates of global production from these processes which had previously been based only on hydrogen coming out of the ocean floor.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gas prices are way low, but U.S. oil production to grow in 2015. What gives? | Grist

Today, the price of oil fell under $53 a barrel, the cheapest crude since the 2009 recession. Petroleum's price plummet over the last six months (explained by Vox) means cheaper gasoline prices, a short-term win for cash-strapped American drivers but a potential setback for the climate. Heck, inexpensive gas has even summoned the climate-wrecking SUV from its too-shallow grave.

On the bright green side, a glut of bargain-basement oil could potentially slow production, especially at super-dirty sources like the Bakken shale oil of North Dakota. Such "unconventional petroleum" is expensive to extract and then refine. The longer oil prices remain low the harder it is for the fossil fuel industry to turn a profit on shale oil.

So, will 2015 be the year the U.S. fossil fuel industry finally hits the breaks on the shale boom?

Unfortunately, the U.S. Energy Information Administration doesn't think so.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:45:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oxford Real Farming Conference: power, lies, and agrarian resistance - The Ecologist
As thousands rely on food banks to make it through the winter and a milk price crash threatens the survival of Britain's independent dairy farmers, Colin Tudge - co-founder of this week's Oxford Real Farming Conference - examines the growing need for an agrarian renaissance to tackle the increasingly obvious failings of neoliberal agriculture.

The sad state of Britain's dairying has the same root cause as the billion worldwide who are undernourished, the billion who are overweight and/or diabetic or in danger of heart disease, global warming, the mass extinction of our fellow creatures.

That is a global agriculture, and indeed a global economy, that is geared not to the wellbeing of humankind and of the planet but to short-term wealth, in the simplistic belief that money per se is good and can solve all our problems no matter how it is produced or what it is used for.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:47:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That article was extraordinary, thanks afew.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 06:58:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And thanks for your highlight without which I could easily have missed it.

A minor quibble, though:
"all the world's great cuisines - China, India, Turkey, Lebanon, Provence, Italy"

So France is just Provence ;-) ? I have nothing against Turkish cooking particularly, but the non-Provence French culinary tradition should probably hold its own in a contest. Or Spain. Or Thailand. Or Morocco...

I fully agree it matters very little though.

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 07:39:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's quite possible some people (which?) think Provence is a country. If they knew it was in France...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:00:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bravo!

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:21:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:45:01 PM EST
Biological bad luck blamed in two-thirds of cancer cases | Reuters

(Reuters) - Plain old bad luck plays a major role in determining who gets cancer and who does not, according to researchers who found that two-thirds of cancer incidence of various types can be blamed on random mutations and not heredity or risky habits like smoking.

The researchers said on Thursday random DNA mutations accumulating in various parts of the body during ordinary cell division are the prime culprits behind many cancer types.

They looked at 31 cancer types and found that 22 of them, including leukemia and pancreatic, bone, testicular, ovarian and brain cancer, could be explained largely by these random mutations - essentially biological bad luck.

The other nine types, including colorectal cancer, skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma and smoking-related lung cancer, were more heavily influenced by heredity and environmental factors like risky behavior or exposure to carcinogens.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:08:58 PM EST
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This is getting whopping media play. Justifiably?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:01:50 AM EST
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It's giving me a pain in my head. I really don't see they've said anything new at all - even the cancer charities have been claiming that 40% of cancers could be prevented by "changing lifestyle factors", which implies that the other 60% are just bad luck.

Who knew that cancer was basically a lottery but that certain things may increase the odds against you?

So smoking is a really bad idea, increases the risk of lung cancer quite a lot - by a factor of about twenty, apparently - while  lots of other stuff might or might not increase your risk of a cancer or class of cancers by a little bit depending on circumstances.

Turns out the media is incapable of communicating and possibly understanding the difference between "cause" and "increase risk of". So we're fucked, since this is exactly what you need to be able to understand and communicate to talk about climate change usefully.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:22:07 AM EST
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Sorry, nothing new that's relevant to the media coverage. They've explained how the bad luck works.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 08:23:49 AM EST
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People want everything to have a cause, preferably one. An interesting discussion of all this over at PZ Myers' joint: On the importance of luck

The more I learn about chemistry and biology, the stronger the value of understanding chance becomes.

I think the idea is that all we have to do is catalog all of the efficient causes to work out every step of an event.

Your cancer was caused by a cosmic ray striking and damaging the short arm of your 12th chromosome, creating a defective RAS oncogene. That cosmic ray originated in a supernova 15,000 light years away. That exploding star condensed from a cloud of matter that originated in the Big Bang, so all we have to do is map how every atom, from the beginning of the universe to that detonation in a distant star, and further, every molecular event in the evolution of that RAS oncogene that put it in that particular location on the chromosome, and then every event in your life that led to that cell and your body to be in that specific location to intercept that cosmic ray, we'll finally understand why you have cancer.

It takes a very deterministic attitude to find that explanation at all satisfying.



Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 02:19:55 PM EST
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And because of quantum uncertainty, it all comes back to "shit happens".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 01:44:49 AM EST
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Cancer incidence, not mortality. Shouldn't they have studied the latter?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 6th, 2015 at 01:52:39 AM EST
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BBC News - Pope Francis names 20 new cardinals

Pope Francis has named 20 new cardinals, including churchmen from Tonga, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Fifteen of the new appointees are under 80, making them eligible to enter a conclave to elect the Pope's successor.

Pope Francis said the appointment of cardinals from 14 countries from every continent in the world showed the Vatican's "inseparable link" with Catholic Churches around the world.

They will be formally installed on 14 February.

Pope Francis also announced on Sunday that he would lead of meeting of all cardinals to discuss reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican's administrative body, on 12 and 13 February.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blue-eyed humans have a single, common ancestor -- ScienceDaily
ew research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor. A team at the University of Copenhagen have tracked down a genetic mutation which took place 6-10,000 years ago and is the cause of the eye colour of all blue-eyed humans alive on the planet today.

"Originally, we all had brown eyes," said Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. "But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a "switch," which literally "turned off" the ability to produce brown eyes." The OCA2 gene codes for the so-called P protein, which is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives colour to our hair, eyes and skin. The "switch," which is located in the gene adjacent to OCA2 does not, however, turn off the gene entirely, but rather limits its action to reducing the production of melanin in the iris -- effectively "diluting" brown eyes to blue. The switch's effect on OCA2 is very specific therefore. If the OCA2 gene had been completely destroyed or turned off, human beings would be without melanin in their hair, eyes or skin colour -- a condition known as albinism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:50:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems related to acting ability, judging by the number of TV and film actors who are blue eyed. Far greater than general population

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 11:19:30 AM EST
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Nothing to do with ingrained Western aesthetic preference for blond+blue eyes, then. That's a relief.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 12:02:36 PM EST
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;-)


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 03:34:33 PM EST
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... known as "Old Blue-eyes".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jan 5th, 2015 at 01:10:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yellowstone's thermal springs - their colors unveiled

Researchers at Montana State University and Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany have created a simple mathematical model based on optical measurements that explains the stunning colors of Yellowstone National Park's hot springs and can visually recreate how they appeared years ago, before decades of tourists contaminated the pools with make-a-wish coins and other detritus.

The model, and stunning pictures of the springs, appear in the journal Applied Optics, which is published by The Optical Society (OSA).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:52:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 01:45:25 PM EST
EUobserver / Yesterday's VIPs
BRUSSELS - In late autumn, Jose Manuel Barroso, Catherine Ashton, and Herman Van Rompuy left their posts. They were respectively, the head of the European Commission, the EU foreign policy chief, and the President of the European Council.

They exited in an unspectacular manner - reflecting time in office that left barely a trace in the public consciousness.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 4th, 2015 at 02:04:06 PM EST
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