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

27-29 April 2015

by afew Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 02:57:25 AM EST

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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:26:35 AM EST
Looking Through 15 Years of Power: Putin Unveils Never Known Details / Sputnik International
Russian Rossiya-1 TV channel aired a documentary titled "The President" dedicated to the 15th anniversary of Vladimir Putin's accession to the presidency on April 26.

The documentary is based on an interview by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov with Putin and focuses on landmark events in Russia's modern history over the past 15 years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a documentary that the leaders of foreign states had told him that in the 2000s they had believed that Russia would stop existing in its borders after the situation in the North Caucasus had intensified.

"I read various documents while being the head of FSB [Russian Federal Security Service], including the interception of international terrorists' conversations, they wrote to each other 'It is a unique historical moment -- we have an opportunity to rend the Caucasus off from Russia -- now or never,'" the Russian president said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Does it matter? Does he expect anyone outside Russia to be impressed? Does he feel he needs to impress anyone inside Russia (where I believe he's very popular). It's not so much that it's blatant propaganda, it might be the truth for all I know, it's just that it feels like propaganda to the extent that it is easily ignored.

And that is a shame, there are some countries that the  West seems incapable of dealing with in anything other than as a caricature. I know the information I get about Putin is tainted and more or less assume that he presents himself in similarly tainted terms.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 03:40:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU finance ministers dream of a capital market union | News | DW.DE | 26.04.2015

The Greek crisis dominated discussions at the summit of European finance ministers. But besides Greece, the 28 ministers also had the next big project to discuss: the capital market union is to be put on track. The first decisions for the creation of a single market for capital investments and finance streams in Europe have to be made now, even if the union is only expected to be completed in 2019. "It is extremely important and very urgent that we start on it now," the responsible EU commissioner Jonathan Hill said at the meeting of in the Latvian capital, Riga.

According to Hill, the aim of the capital market union is to create more potential sources of financing for companies, beyond the traditional bank loans. Small and medium-sized businesses are to be given the opportunity to get financing directly, either from investors or from stock markets across Europe. "That way we can free capital for investments that have been frozen until now. We have to tear down the barriers that still exist in Europe," said Hill. This summer, the commissioner intends to present a more exact road map explaining what laws and directives the finance ministers and the European Parliament will have to enact to create a unified capital market.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:31:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"That way we can free capital for investments that have been frozen until now. We have to tear down the barriers that still exist in Europe," said Hill.

These people believe that savings are not invested already, when they necessarily have to be (because of double-entry accounting). I'm not sure what frozen capital they are talking about.

What they are going to do is probably align financial regulation more closely with that of the US, in case there are regulations that make it difficult to use certain kinds of financing instruments.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:24:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Their Master speaks."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:27:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
These people believe that savings are not invested already

But who controls the investment of those savings? It might even be the public sector, perish the thought.

Migeru:

align financial regulation more closely with that of the US, in case there are regulations that make it difficult

That's what all this valiant tearing down of barriers is all about.

Truth is, Europe is in such a deep fucking mess that the US is pressing for a complete takeover. See TTIP, and agri-biotech items also in this section of the Newsroom.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:58:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 06:01:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, for instance they want to revive the securitization market. But securitizations are already legal in Europe. If institutional investors (pension funds, basically) are not investing in those, why is it? And what are they investing in now that they would have to divest from in order to be able to invest in securitizations, or in SME commercial paper? Because, and that's my point, the idea that there's "frozen investment" out there is just nonsense. The investment has already happened, just not in the asset classes that the policymakers would like.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 06:04:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What if sums lay idle on a current account?
Where would the divestment be then?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 06:14:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you invest your deposit in other financial assets, you draw down your current account in the process, don't you?

On the other hand, the deposit is the counterpart to some asset or other on the bank's balance sheet, presumably a corporate loan or bond... so your savings (even your current account!) are already invested by the bank...

Except, of course, we're supposed to want corporates to fund themselves by means alternative to banks. This means you would have to take your deposit out of the bank and buy... equity? A share in an investment fund that then buys commercial paper? A pension fund investment, assuming that pension funds start investing in more risky corporate finance instruments?

Is this what this is about? Forcing the public to draw down their (state-insured) deposits and invest in risky financial instruments through (uninsured) pension and mutual funds?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 06:28:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But is that true in the current situation when much of the money appears to stay idle as there just are no reasonable investment opportunities?
Are all banks maxed out in terms of investing as much as they are allowed to do from their fractional reserves limits, or could it be conceivable that they sit on some of it for want of opportunity? The money that gets parked at the ECB at negative interest would suggest that some of it is not actually invested, doesn't it?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 06:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The money that gets parked at the ECB at negative interest rates is a red herring. There is actually no way to reduce it other than unwinding the repos by which the ECB provides liquidity to the banks... or investing in foreign assets.

Banks could lend more but they are not, because they can't, both because of lack of creditworthy demand and because of the increasingly strict capital requirements.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 10:52:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do new rules force them to have massive capital reserves so if/when the dodgy derivatives implode they don't go belly-up?

Isn't that also one of the ostensible reasons they aren't lending?

'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 Apr 27th, 2015 at 12:33:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Derivatives are not the problem.

But yes, lending is capital-constrained, not reserve-constrained. Massive excess liquidity is a consequence of two things: new liquidity regulations (banks couldn't get rid of their reserves even if they wanted to!) and the enduring drought in the interbank lending market.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 12:43:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beppe Grillo's Blog
It works like this. The public authorities are gambling with our taxes. The casino is managed by the commercial banks that provide money up front in return for hypothetical future gains using derivatives. Thus, the public authority gets money in advance on the basis of presumed gains and it uses this money to get by - until the end of the derivative contract. If things go wrong with the derivatives (something that regularly happens), the public accounts end up drastically in the red. Here we're talking about billions and not just chicken feed. Obviously the citizens are unaware of all this and they find themselves deeper and deeper in debt. For example, the city of Milan has debts of about four billion. Who has authorised AlbertiniMorattiPisapia to get the people of Milan into debt? The ones that do well out of this are the commercial banks together with the current politician who starts off useless public works (and/or brown envelopes stuffed with money) or, in the best case scenario, they do some temporary patching up of the accounts. The accounts should be approved by the tax-paying citizens who are the only true bank of the State. They shouldn't be approved by the functionaries that play with our taxes. We want administrators, not croupiers.

"For years, the government and the public authorities have been betting billions of euro at the expense of the citizens. They've been using derivatives, betting on the future, and regularly losing. The tax payer is always playing the part of the unfortunate citizen "Pantalone". For the commercial banks that set up these bets - and who often welcome into the ranks of their senior management, former ministers and high level functionaries thrown out of the government, the money is always to be found. Always!

...
On 31 December 2014, the potential loss - the "mark-to-market" value was 42 billion, and that's getting continuously worse.
For months, the 5 Star MoVement has been asking for access to the public contracts containing derivatives, but they continue to be kept under lock and key. Hidden away. We want to see all the contracts made with the commercial banks. We want to really get to understand if it's possible to defuse these atomic bombs that have been slipped in underneath us. It's a citizen's right." Carla Ruocco, M5S spokesperson in the Lower House

See sig...

'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 Thu Apr 30th, 2015 at 06:06:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Is this what this is about? Forcing the public to draw down their (state-insured) deposits and invest in risky financial instruments through (uninsured) pension and mutual funds?

Well if you were a sociopathic gambling-addicted greedhead, wouldn't you ardently wish for such an event to happen?

Privatise everything, basically. How dare puny governments stand in the way of Leviathan corporations trampling the planet striving for global market domination progress?

Democracy, so quaint we need to have a reasonable facsimile to pretend we are in one... That mask is in tatters and slipping right off in places.

'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 Apr 27th, 2015 at 07:37:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's what it's been about for Social Security in the US since the days of The Blessed St. Ronnie.  That was his express goal for Social Security, and the Republicans have been pushing for it ever since.
by rifek on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 12:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Greece falls, no one wants their prints on the murder weapon | Reuters

(Reuters) - "We're going bust." "No, you're not." "You're strangling us." "No we're not." "You owe us for World War Two." "We gave already."

The game of chicken between Greece and its international creditors is turning into a vicious blame game as Athens lurches closer to bankruptcy with no cash-for-reform agreement in sight.

Europe's political leaders and central bankers and Greek politicians agree on only one thing: if Greece goes down, they don't want their fingerprints on the murder weapon.

If Athens runs out of cash and defaults in the coming weeks, as seems increasingly possible, no one wants to be accused of having pushed it over the edge or failed to try to save it.

Greece's leftist government has already identified its culprit of choice - Germany, Europe's main paymaster, accused of having inflicted toxic austerity policies on Greeks, causing a "humanitarian crisis".

Euro zone governments are preparing the ground to blame the novice government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for having blustered, obstructed, failed to meet commitments and evaded hard choices while Athens burned.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
`Plan B' mooted for Greece as Merkel, Tsipras agree to intensify dialogue | EurActiv

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in a phone conversation on Sunday (26 April) to maintain contact during talks between Athens and its lenders to reach a debt deal, a Greek government official said.

"During their communication, they expressed their common will for a steady communication throughout the course of negotiations in order to have a mutually beneficial solution soon," said the official, who declined to be named.

Greece has been trying to negotiate a deal that would unlock 7.2 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in remaining EU-International Monetary Fund bailout money that the debt-ridden Mediterranean country needs to avoid default and a possible exit from the euro.

But during a regular meeting at the Latvian capital of Riga on Friday, eurozone finance ministers warned its government that it would get no fresh aid until it agreed to a complete economic reform plan.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 02:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gerüchte in Griechenland: Varoufakis vor baldiger Ablösung - Europa - Politik - Wirtschaftswoche
Andere Insider berichten aus der Sitzung, dass sich mehrere Minister bei den Ausführungen Varoufakis' die Ohren zuhielten, mit den Augen rollten oder diese lieber gleich ganz schlossen. Eurogruppenchef Jeroen Dijsselbloem, dessen Verhältnis zu Varoufakis schon seit der ersten gemeinsamen Pressekonferenz in Athen vor rund drei Monaten kühl ist, bezeichnet die Gespräche anschließend als "sehr kritisch".

Always good to know that our governments are doing their best trying to find a constructive way of solving the crisis.

by Katrin on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 04:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine 18 ministers telling a 19th that his government is not throwing enough virgins into the volcano. When the 19th replies with lectures about how how that's not the way the world works, the 18 react by rolling their eyes and calling him unprofessional and a gambler.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:01:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"But the Irish threw all their virgins in and their volcano has calmed down, so we know it works."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So did the Latvians, apparently.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:21:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, Tsipras give in.

Varoufakis is sidelined.

Tsakolotos takes over, in all but name. Tsakolotos has actually been with Varoufakis side by side at all meetings where he is allowed.

His position is most like Varoufakis's of all the Syriza economists and financial people. And now the bench is empty, however, when it comes to pro-eurozone financial people inside Syriza.

John Milios has already resigned. Only Vadavani and Lapavitsas are left. There are others in the Labor ministry who might slide over, but no one as compromisable as Varoufakis and Tsakolotos.

Tsipras has also crumbled here, and it is a bad sign for him. Because the Eurogroup has a firm advantage. And the constant smears and insults now work. Remember the bit about the "taxi driver" technical minister a few weeks ago? Well he too has been sidelined.

In retrospect, it is now clear that Syriza had the wherewithal to campaign prior to the elections with the threat of Grexit under its belt. It should have said to the people, we will negotiate this position: stay in the eurozone under any means EXCEPT pension and wage cuts.

It should not now need a referendum or election. And this was a huge miscalculation. Because the Eurozone sees disarray in the party, it calls for the heads of ministers, it anticipates the revival of the New Democracy party, and most of all sees the unpopularity of leaving the eurozone, and it resists every reasonable Greek request.

Tsipras went in armed with almost nothing. And he made a huge mistake in doing so.

Mostly he was totally mistaken about what would happen to the economy when the eurozone put the squeeze on Greece. He should have been armed in negotiations, and he should have used the extremely tight negotiating window of end of February to his advantage.

And again, lust for power and office gets the better of politicians.

by Upstate NY on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 09:26:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a Pyrrhic victory for the Eurogroup. Varoufakis, however annoying, was probably sincere with his constant appeal to the "European partners" and "mutually beneficial agreement". Tsakalotos, Dragasakis, Stathakis... will be much less accommodating. And they are also university professors of economics with a career in Anglo-saxon countries.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:32:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tsakalotos, Dragasakis, Stathakis... will be much less accommodating.

And tha changes the strenght of recce's negotiatung Position hiw?

" And they are also university professors of economics with a career in Anglo-saxon countries. "

That is exactly the problem with Varoufakis too. To used to hang with other anglosaxons and joke about the stupid europeans. Didn't serve him well, won't serve them well.

by IM on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 07:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is all the serious people are gleeful that they got rid of Varoufakis. In exchange of more of the same?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 09:04:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sidelining as in reinforcing the negotiating team with even more UK-educated academic economists, this time with their own Syriza power bases?

Some "winning".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 09:20:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So that is another win for Greece? I fear you interpret everything as a cunning plan from Syriza.
by IM on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a win for Greece as it indicates the other side is not compromising at all. All I'm saying is I'm not sure what all the serious people are so gleeful about. It's a Pyrrhic victory for them. Unless the plan is to empower the more radical Syriza wing (Lapavitsas et al.) who actually advocate Euro exit so that Greece is the one to pull the plug, exonerating the creditors of any responsibility for the fallout.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 06:55:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's hard to see any logic in the german ECB position, except some form of sado-monetarism.

Def. sado-monetarism
The infliction of unnecessary pain on others in order to avoid minor discomforts and embarrassments for themselves


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 01:55:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tsakalatos is actually a fringe hair to the left of Varoufakis. Different from Milios, Vadavani and Lapavitsas.
by Upstate NY on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 11:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't help thinking this is some kind of set up.  Tsipras is already trying to set records in the backstroke, which can't endear him with the Syriza core (Or with general voters, who were desperate for a change and aren't going to patient about it.  Anyone care to recall what happened to Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir's government in the 2013 Icelandic elections?).  Now Varoufakis is gone, replaced by those with a harder line, which I don't see leading to anything other than more cracks in Syriza.  At some point the EU forces Greece's hand, the issue goes to the Greek voters, Syriza gets soundly trounced and New Democracy returns to power, and New Democracy immediately takes the "reasonable" approach and caves in on everything.  The the Ueberklass points fingers and says to everyone, "See?  See what happens when you let anyone other than The Serious People run things?"
by rifek on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 01:11:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Er, I don't see that New Democracy would have a prayer in a new election.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Apr 30th, 2015 at 02:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or a successor of the same ilk.  It's amazing how far piles of cash and controlled media can get you.
by rifek on Fri May 1st, 2015 at 05:55:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Varoufakis should suggest gladiator death fights, in exchange for debt relief. That would be more stylish than merely starving the same people. He could even volunteer himself, for the price of the whole enchilada.
by das monde on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 01:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He could challenge Jeroen Dijsselbloem to a duel for the whole enchillada - less collateral damage.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 08:43:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some collateral respect to the acting overlords is unavoidable. Either entertain them, or (threaten to) call them out on a cattle population control agenda - if you feel that equal.
by das monde on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 11:13:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some collateral respect to the acting overlords is unavoidable.
It would be the whole point - hopefully, enough damage to discredit their whole operation and bring the system down.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 06:07:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing about the totally united 18 ministers against the 19th that always rings false in my ears is the very fact that one of the 18 comes from Cyprus.

I mean, come on!!!

A couple of countries call the shots. And everyone else cowers.

by Upstate NY on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 11:46:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you know...
"(Sharing a) language is one thing but being the same economy is completely different," said Harris Georgiades, finance minister of a country largely populated by Greek Cypriots. Linguistic solidarity leads Cyprus and Greece to give each other's contestant the top score each year in the Eurovision song contest.

"There are cultural ties but that's it. We are following our own course," Georgiades told Reuters in an interview.

Unlike Greece, Cyprus has been largely diligent in implementing reforms required in return for an international bailout it received in 2013. There has been little public protest despite the deep recession that ensued.

(Reuters, 11 March 2015)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 02:13:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. For Cyprus's own sake, they are not speaking up. And that's fine. But that's very very far from saying Cyprus is PO'd at Greece.
by Upstate NY on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 02:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek minister suggests early election as way out of impasse | EurActiv

The interior minister of cash-strapped Greece has raised the possibility of fresh elections to give Greeks the last word on the government's economic policy.

"Those who imagine that the current government is an interlude ... are wrong; the people spoke and, if necessary, will do it again," Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said during a stormy debate in parliament on a decree forcing public institutions to hand over their cash reserves to the central bank.

The measure, which was debated into the early hours of Saturday, is aimed at helping the government pay civil servants' wages and service the public debt, while continuing to negotiate with international creditors on reforms needed to secure more bailout funds.

But opposition parties, led by the centre-right New Democracy and the social-democratic Pasok, opposed the decree, calling it "unconstitutional" and accusing the government of dragging its heels in the debt talks.

Voutsis is not the first member of the three-month-old, hard-left Syriza government to raise the spectre of fresh elections.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 03:00:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about a coup? Look how well that worked in Egypt. Poor Morsi ... see you in 20.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 05:52:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:

Europe's political leaders and central bankers and Greek politicians agree on only one thing: if Greece goes down, they don't want their fingerprints on the murder weapon.

This. We tried so hard to save it from its own suicide, really we bent over backwards to starve them out of house and homedo the right thing.

But no worries, Varou has a plan B! If Greece goes down he will loudly connect cause and effect for the economically illiterate, and if Greece has to briefly return to the 19th C before retaining its natural level, I don't see them afraid of that.

If they hadn't been persuaded to fudge their books in the first place, (thanks!) we wouldn't have come to this.

Greece ain't going down without a ripple.

'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 Apr 27th, 2015 at 07:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mustafa Akinci wins North Cyprus presidential election - BBC News

Voters in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have elected Mustafa Akinci as their new president.

Mr Akinci, standing as an independent, won 60.3% of the votes in Sunday's runoff, according to election commission figures.

The 67-year-old defeated incumbent President Dervis Eroglu, a conservative elected five years ago.

He has said he would work with renewed urgency to find a peace deal on Cyprus after four decades of division.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 03:02:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is incredibly excellent news.

The two sides need to get together over coffee in just one hour and bang out an agreement that no one else can see, not Turkey, not Greece, not the EU, not NATO, not the UN, and the two current leaders can actually do it--if there is no interference. They should then take a knife, cut into their palms, shake on it, promise each other that no matter who howls, the agreement is locktight. No wavering.

by Upstate NY on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 09:18:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not N Cyrpus that's the problem. It's S Cyprus that doesn't want re-unification

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 01:52:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The current president of the south supported the Annan-plan. Also, things are not as in 2004.

2014 Cyprus talks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

However, some things changed during 2012 and 2013. Gas was discovered in both Cypriot and neighbouring Israeli waters,[4][3] but the simplest way of getting it to customers in Europe would be via a pipeline through Turkey.[2] The banking collapse in 2013 in the Republic of Cyprus led to economic shrinkage and high unemployment, and reunification could be expected to speed economic recovery and growth.[2] After a lapse of several years, America showed interest in working actively for a solution to the dispute.[1][2] Nicos Anastasiades, elected President of the Republic of Cyprus in February 2013, had supported the Annan Plan.[2]

by fjallstrom on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that's true, then explain this:

http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_erdogan-lambasts-newly-elected-turkish-cypriot-president-akinci -for-remarks-over-relationship-with-turkey_379141.html

S. Cyprus has always had a Turkish problem. The mainland of Turkey. The stuff Turkey does can't be defended.

by Upstate NY on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 11:17:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well yeah but who is this new president?

We can only hope that he's not in Ankara's pocket, and that Ankara can't whip him into line.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Grapevine
In 1615, Basque whalers ran aground in Strandir, in the far northern reaches of the Westfjords. They were not exactly warmly welcomed. The Westfjords sheriff at the time, Ari Magnússon, declared that any Basque people found in the Westfjords could be legally killed on the spot. 32 sailors were killed in all, with murders extending over a wide swath of the Westfjords.

While the open season pronouncement went ignored over the centuries, it was never officially rescinded until last week. Jónas announced the end of the license to kill at the museum ceremony, culminating in a symbolic gesture wherein Xabier Irujo, descendant of one of the murdered Basque whale hunters, and Magnús Rafnsson, descendant of one of the murderers, performed a ceremonial reconciliation.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 03:45:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Molotov cocktails found on a train from Bolzano to Rome. Environmentalists suspected. Repubblica:
Sei molotov infilate nella cabina di un Freccia Argento fermo al deposito di Bolzano e un cartello con su scritto "esplode" come avvertimento per chi si doveva avvicinare al treno che sarebbe dovuto partire per Roma. Un avvertimento, o un vero e proprio attentato andato a male per il quale non c'è stata alcuna rivendicazione ma che gli inquirenti tendono ad addebitare all'ala dura dei No Tav.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 07:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if the frame fits...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 08:28:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Accidental Death of an Environmentalist?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 01:54:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 06:41:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Democracy and respect for human rights in the enlargement process of the European Union (1)
It stated that 'only a country which has abolished the death penalty can become of member of the European Union'; (paragraph 10).

But once you are in and in the EPP, reintroducing it is another matter.

by fjallstrom on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 06:56:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC
Labour's shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker has said his party is committed to renewing four Trident submarines if it wins the election.

Mr Coaker told the latest BBC Daily Politics debate that evidence said four nuclear-armed boats were needed.

In March, Ed Balls said the party would consider reducing the number to three.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, meanwhile, refused to say whether his party would back a Labour minority government on Trident renewal.

[...]

Pressed to clarify why Labour could not count on the support of the Conservatives, he went on: "Because you'd have uncertainty. The way to be absolutely sure about our nuclear defence is to vote Conservative, have the four ballistic missile submarines."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 07:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trident has nothing to do with defense cos it doesn't defend us from anything.

It was all about showing that you were so enthusiastic about military toys that you were willing to spend a colossal amount of money on a white elephant. However, the argument is now threadbare Once, you could say that if you were willing to waste so much money on Trident, you could be relied upon to fund all the other nonsense that the top brass decree is essential to keeps their parades shiny. But now Trident is so expensive that it's a case of either/or and I'm not sure that the military chiefs have quite realised that, if we renew Trident, we'll have to take their army, navy and airforce away.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 11:06:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the Kaupthing trial.
We learned, for example, that the traders and their superiors referred to Kaupthing as a "dead cat." In January 2008, Ingólfur Helgason, the CEO of Kaupthing Iceland, called up Pétur Kristinn, the trader, to inquire about the markets: "What's up with the dead cat today?" Ingólfur asked, apparently referring to Kauthing shares, asking whether the cat "will not be quick to get up if you kick him" which one can only assume was a question of whether the share price of Kaupthing would not bounce back if given a kick. In another conversation he asked Pétur, "Where do you plan to close the cat?" for the day.

Cats of course have nine lives and the Kaupthing brass clearly felt they were in charge such a feline. But, as we saw in Stephen King's `Pet Semetary,' it is not always wise to re-animate dead cats.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 09:48:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Headline: The SNP is on course to win every single seat in Scotland, leaving Labour with zero

The second part may be true, but every single seat (or, as the Independent would put it, EVERY SINGLE SEAT)? I've seen no indication in any poll that the SNP has a chance of winning in Orkney and Shetland....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 09:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Five Thirty Eight

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 10:09:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The caveat being that 538 accept that they don't really understand uk voting patterns cos there's simply not enough data.

I don't think anyone really knows what's gonna happen, but it's gonna be interesting

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 11:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
forecasts for the 2015 parliamentary election developed by Chris Hanretty, Ben Lauderdale and Nick Vivyan, a group of U.K. academics


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 11:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and Nate said there still wasn't enough data

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 11:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There isn't. For predicting Orkney and Shetland you need local polling. Any inference from general trends is useless, and I haven't found any sign that they are doing any local polling. It's probably not worth the expense anyway: One seat more or less for the Libdems won't make much difference anyway.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 12:08:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but one more for a Labour/SNP bloc, and one less for a Con/Libdem one, might indeed be critical.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 12:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, it's only a week and we'll really find out what everyone thinks.

tbh I prefer it that way. I'm fond of polls as a rough guide to what's going on, but the closer it comes to polling day, I feel they're less concerned with telling me what's going on and more about being driven by partisan considerations to game the actual result.

it's the same with all these last minute promises; everyone of them is written on sand and the obliterating tide is due May 8th

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 12:33:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:26:57 AM EST
Recession rich: Britain's wealthiest double net worth since crisis | Business | The Guardian

Britain's billionaires have seen their net worth more than double since the recession, with the richest 1,000 families now controlling a total £547bn.

While average UK incomes have yet to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with thousands still flocking to food banks, the financial elite have emerged not only with their fortunes intact, but holding a larger than ever slice of the cake.

Their assets have increased from £258bn in 2009, a rise of more than 112%, according to the 2015 Sunday Times Rich List. The last 12 months saw the biggest bounce for the UK super rich in six years, and London now has 80 billionaires, up from 72 last year and more than any other world city.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And some people still reckon that Osbourne did not do his job properly?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 04:05:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plutocrat valet service...

'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 Apr 27th, 2015 at 08:00:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU agrees opt-out deal for GMO imports

The EU announced plans Wednesday to allow member states to individually decide whether to allow the import of controversial genetically modified foods and animal feed, drawing a sharp US response.

The move mirrors an earlier compromise approved by the European Parliament in January which gave the 28 EU countries the right to decide whether or not to cultivate Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

"Once adopted, today's proposal will ... grant Member States a greater say as regards the use of EU- authorised GMOs in food and feed on their respective territories," Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement.

After years of bitter dispute, the EU opt-out provision means that member states opposed to GMOs will now be able to cite grounds outside health and safety, such as social or environmental impact, for banning them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:23:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tom Philpott | Mother Jones

Another massive agribusiness sector, the GMO seed pesticide industry, potentially stands to gain from the TTIP, because the European Union has much more restrictive regulations on rolling out novel crops than does the United States. Some member states, including France, maintain moratoriums on planting certain GM crops. Attempting to drum up support for the fast-track bill on Capitol Hill, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and US Trade Representative Michael Froman have been been promising to use the proposed treaty has a hammer to force broader acceptance in the EU. 

"Vilsack said the administration would 'continue to negotiate very hard' to prevent individual EU countries from blocking use of approved biotech products," reports Agri-Pulse's Philip Brasher, in an account of a hearing last week held by the Senate Finance Committee. As for Froman, he told the committee that "we're not trying to force anybody anywhere to eat anything, but we do think the decisions about what is safe should be made by science and not by politics."

Vilsack has also rallied the agribusiness industry to lobby Congress in favor of the fast-track bill, calling on "farmers, ranchers, agribusiness owners, and other industry groups to urge Congress to pass trade promotion authority for President Obama and to support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement," reports the North American Meat Institute.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:23:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB's Liikanen warns of asset price bubbles due to low interest rates | Reuters

(Reuters) - A flood of cheap money risks creating bubbles in financial markets if interest rates remain low for a long period, European Central Bank Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"We need to pay attention," Liikanen, also the governor of Finland's central bank, said in an advanced copy of an interview to be published in the Handelsblatt on Monday.

"If interest rates remain very low for a long time there is a risk," he said.

The ECB unleashed its bond buying program last month which has pushed down market interest rates, encouraging investors to move into riskier assets that will spur growth.

Liikanen said it was important for central banks to set regulatory and supervisory rules to avoid risks, and if necessary, tighten or expand their monetary policy instruments.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:38:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB Seen Going All the Way on QE as Taper Doubted by Economists - Bloomberg Business

The European Central Bank won't end its asset-buying program early, though it might do so abruptly, economists say.

More than two-thirds of respondents in a Bloomberg survey said the ECB will stop quantitative easing in September 2016, as currently planned, and most of those said it'll do so without tapering purchases. The remaining analysts said policy makers will gradually wind the program down, with the end-date ranging from December 2016 to December 2017.

Massive stimulus from record-low borrowing costs, a weaker euro and cheaper energy is stoking speculation over how quickly the ECB might reach its inflation goal and complete a 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.2 trillion) program that started only last month. The risks related to policy tightening were highlighted in 2013 when global market volatility escalated as the Federal Reserve signaled it was ready to taper its own QE.

"One could argue that if inflation gets on the right track before the summer of 2016, some tapering appears in May, but then they are likely to miss their balance-sheet expansion target," said Julien Manceaux, senior economist at ING Belgium SA in Brussels. "This is why we do not think there will be tapering before the program stops."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 02:53:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:27:17 AM EST
Chaos mars Nepal quake relief operations - Al Jazeera English

Thousands of displaced residents in the Nepali capital have expressed anger towards the government, as they face food and water shortage, a day after a magnitude 7.8 quake hit the country and killed more than 2,500 people.

As rescuers continue to dig through the rubble on Sunday, the densely-populated capital Kathmandu faces a "chaotic situation" with hospitals running out of medical supply, and thousands of people, who are camped in open air areas, are left hungry and thirsty, according to Al Jazeera reporters on the ground. 

"A lot of people taking shelter outside in open spaces are without food or water," Al Jazeera's Subina Shrestha, who is in Kathmandu, said.

"People are very angry with the government for being left in the lurch."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:17:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Deadly Burundi protests after president seeks third term - BBC News

At least two people have been killed in violent clashes in Burundi, a day after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his bid for a third term in office.

Thousands defied a ban to take to the streets of the capital Bujumbura. Police shot live ammunition in the air to disperse them.

President Nkurunziza was nominated to run by his governing CNDD-FDD party.

Opponents say it is unconstitutional and threatens a peace deal that ended the 12-year civil war in 2005.

More than 300,000 people died in the war.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:23:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kazakhstan's president set to win election - Al Jazeera English

Millions of Kazakhs cast their votes on Sunday in the energy-rich Central Asian country in a ballot that is almost certain to re-elect the 74-year-old strongman incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The country's marginalised opposition has not put forward any candidates for the election and Nazarbayev is running against two candidates widely seen as pro-government figures.

Al Jazeera's Robin Forrestier Walker reporting from Kazakhstan's capital Astana, reported that "genuine opponents of Nazarbayev are busy elsewhere," with billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov fighting extradition in France and politician Vladimir Kozlof in jail. 

"Polls show that most people in Kazakhstan do support their president. The appearance of democracy may be enough for them - even if it's not the same as the real thing," he said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:26:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.N. Committee Gets `Unhindered Access' to Azerbaijan's Detention Centres - But Is it Enough? | Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 24 2015 (IPS) - Months after being denied access to Azerbaijan's places of detention, the head of the United Nation's Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) announced Friday that her four-member delegation had successfully conducted investigations of Azerbaijani prisons, police stations and investigative isolation units.

"The Azerbaijani Government this time enabled unhindered access to places of deprivation of liberty," confirmed Aisha Shujune Muhammad, head of the SPT delegation, in a statement published by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

As a state party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, Azerbaijan is obliged to allow independent experts full access to sites of detention, but last September the SPT was forced to suspend its visit after being prevented from inspecting some sites and barred from completing its work at others, "in violation of Azerbaijan's treaty obligations", according to OHCHR.

This month, from Apr. 16-24, SPT members visited a range of sites including pre-trial detention facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and social care institutions.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:35:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Adam Keller
At last we know when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began. It started in 1873, exactly seventy-five years before the creation of Israel, and the first casualty in this conflict was Aaron Herschler. His name opens the official list of the Israeli Defense Forces soldiers killed in the line of duty. On Memorial Day every year, that list is broadcast on a special channel of Israeli TV, mournful music accompanies name replacing name on the screen until the whole list is run through, from 1873 to 2015. Also on the rest of the year, the List of the Fallen can be found online.

This year Aaron Herschler was mentioned specifically in the Prime Minister's ceremonial Memorial Day speech.

"The blood of our loved ones is soaked in the soil of Israel. Our boys and girls fell on a mission to secure the existence of our nation. The first to fall was Aaron Herschler in 1873, when Arab rioters attacked a Jewish neighborhood here in Jerusalem. Aaron was a yeshiva student, he cut off his studies in order to repel the rioters, he tried to catch them but they shot him and he was mortally wounded. He was the forerunner for all the fighters who came after him and defended their homes".

After the Prime Minister's speech, diligent journalists went to the archives to find out more about that Aaron Herschler. Indeed, the case had been widely reported in the country's first Jewish newspaper, which started appearance a short time before. According to the contemporary report, there had been no rioters attacking a Jewish neighborhood but simply Arab bandits, stealing both from other Arabs and from Jews. They broke into the house of Aaron Herschler, 23-year-old yeshiva student, to steal money. Herschler tried to chase them and recover the stolen property. They did open fire, severely injuring him, and he died at the hospital a few days later.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 04:44:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UN blames Israel for school attacks during Gaza war - Al Jazeera English

A UN inquiry has blamed Israeli security forces for seven deadly attacks on UN schools in Gaza that were used as shelters for safety during last year's offensive.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Monday that he deplored the attacks that killed at least 44 Palestinians and injured at least 227 others at the UN sites.

"It is a matter of the utmost gravity that those who looked to them for protection and who sought and were granted shelter there had their hopes and trust denied," Ban added.

The independent board of inquiry also found that weaponry was found at three empty UN scools in Gaza and that in two cases Palestinian fighters "probably" fired at Israeli forces from schools. Ban also called that "unacceptable".

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, noted that "the UN report says that the three schools where the weapons were found were not being used as evacuation centres, they were empty buildings".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 01:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
972mag
A Facebook post livid at the fact that the Palestine Gazelle at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is being listed as such has been making some waves on Israeli social media today. The status was posted by Israeli right-wing protofascist who goes by "The Shadow" (and was involved in violence against leftists protesting the Gaza war last summer in Tel Aviv).

The Shadow posted a photo of the sign at the zoo on his Facebook page and next to it the caption: "At the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo!!!!!!"  (By the way it says "Israeli Gazelle" in Hebrew and just "Palestinian" in Arabic).

The kicker? "Palestine Gazelle" is the animal's scientifically accurate name.

Here's a picture, so you know what to look out for

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 01:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Baltimore riots: Nonviolence as Compliance

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves.

Coates is here deliberately poking the hornets' nest.

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

by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 03:25:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a Democrat, not a Socialist
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest-serving independent member of the U.S. Congress, will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, Vermont Public Radio reported on Tuesday.

He will release a short statement and hold a campaign kickoff event in subsequent weeks, the radio said, citing several sources. The senator's office did not respond to a request for comment.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 10:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:27:39 AM EST
America has fewer and larger farms. Here's why that matters | Grist
So, why does farm size matter? As the total number of farms goes down, the number of big* farms is going up -- and this shift hurts rural America. According to an analysis by Food and Water Watch: "Communities with more medium- and smaller-sized farms have more shared prosperity, including higher incomes, lower unemployment, and lower income inequality, than communities with larger farms tied to often-distant agribusinesses."

In strictly economic terms, U.S. agriculture has followed a pretty unsurprising path. Better technology leads to greater crop yields, which in turn mean lower prices and larger farms. Our economic system distorts competition and fosters consolidation -- and then we act surprised when farmers follow the rules of the game in order to survive.

Today, we have a ton of tiny farms -- and yet when it comes to land, "the top 10 percent of farms in terms of size account for more than 70 percent of cropland in the United States; the top 2.2 percent alone takes up more than a third," wrote Roberto A. Ferdman in The Washington Post.

The editors of the fantastic book Food and the Mid-Level Farm show how that has paved the road toward an increasingly polarized farm-scape:

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two things here I feel separating out.
The first is the technologically driven consolidation. One farmer can, with better tech, manage more land effectively and responsibly. Keeping this from happening just means each farmer is involuntarily holding down a part time job, and not utilizing his or her machinery and education to the full extent possible, which is irresponsible.

The second trend is corporations buying up everything in sight and employing people to work the land. This is just modern feudalism, wealth extraction and all. Not a trend to be encouraged. I mean, in theory a corporate approach would be a good way to spread best practices, but in actuality? Not so much.

by Thomas on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:16:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, government policies (including benefits and financing) have been geared toward replacing family farming with corporate farming for over six decades.
by rifek on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 11:43:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Flameproof falcons and hawks

A Cooper's hawk, found in Greater Vancouver, is the most polluted wild bird that has been found anywhere in the world. A team of Canadian researchers made this startling discovery while analyzing liver samples from birds of prey that were discovered either injured or dead in the Vancouver area.

The levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the contaminated Cooper's hawk were 196 parts per million, significantly higher than those recorded in birds found either in cities in California or in an electronic waste site in China. PBDEs are a group of chemicals that act as flame retardants and were once used widely in computers, stereos, televisions, vehicles, carpets and furniture.

Although many of the PBDEs have been banned since the 2000s in Canada, they continue to accumulate in landfill sites where people dispose of PBDE-rich items. In British Columbia's Fraser River delta, for example, the quantity of PBDEs has doubled every four years over the past four decades. This can have a significant effect on the bird populations that live nearby.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Siemens CEO badmouths Energiewende - 100% renewable - Renewables International

I was a bit surprised to read (in German) Siemens' CEO Joe Kaeser comments in Houston yesterday. After saying that his firm was "born in Germany, raised in Europe, and at home across the world" (note: my back translation from the German, not his original), he apparently added this:

"If you want to influence a country's energy policy, you just have to do the opposite of what's being done in Germany. Germany is subsidizing renewable energy to the tune of nearly 500 billion euros guaranteed. I hope that Germany at least manages to export wind turbines. But supporting photovoltaics in Germany makes about as much sense as planting pineapples in Alaska."

(Also note that this is a back translation from indirect speech, so his original wording - which I have not seen - may be somewhat different.)

Have I mentioned that Siemens has quite a small share of the German wind power market? Yes, I believe I did. Siemens did not even enter the wind sector until 2004, when it took over Bonus AS of Denmark. The firm apparently knows a lot about photovoltaics, for it focused on concentrated solar power more than PV, partly within the Desertec project, which did not pan out (note to Joe: the Sahara is probably too dry for pineapple plantations). The global PV market is set to skyrocket from now on, but Siemens has nothing to sell.

And let's not forget Siemens' recent sales brochure, which it tried to pass off as a serious recommendation for the Energiewende. Or the ridiculous claim that the 2011 nuclear phaseout would raise German power prices fivefold.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:13:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. But solar in Germany is daft. If you are intent on powering civilization from renewable energy you have to respect the physical geography you want to extract energy from. Winter happens.

A sane renewable energy policy for Germany of the same financial magnitude as the solar tarrif commitments -

Desertec and HVDC, North Sea Wind and Hydraulic Hydro storage a-la Eduard Heind for example, would have displaced far more fossil fuel from the grid. Heck, just building the storage facility and leveling out the load on the french reactors would have done that.

by Thomas on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:25:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sustainable Ecosystems and Community News: Mountains warming faster than expected

High elevation environments around the world may be warming much faster than previously thought, according to members of an international research team including Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They call for more aggressive monitoring of temperature changes in mountain regions and more attention to the potential consequences of warming.

"Elevation-dependent warming is a poorly observed phenomenon that requires urgent attention to ensure that potentially important changes in high mountain environments are adequately monitored by the global observational network," say members of the Mountain Research Initiative Working Group in the current issue of Nature Climate Change.

High mountains are the major water source for large numbers of people living at lower elevations, so the social and economic consequences of enhanced warming in mountain regions could be large, the researchers add.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:27:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Five reasons why the wind industry will make your day - Wind Energy - Renewables International

Let's face it - extreme weather, floods and droughts, melting ice and disappearing species as a result of climate change are enough to ruin anyone's day. So here's some good news for a change, brought to you by the wind industry.

1. Wind power had a fantastic year in 2014, led by China which installed more than 23 Gigawatts (GW) of clean renewable wind energy, enough to power about 25 million Chinese homes. The industry set a new global record with a total of more than 51 GW installed in a single year. Our new projections in our hot off the press Global Wind Report show that the trend will continue for the rest of the decade, with annual installations reaching 60 GW/year by 2018, and supplying 6-7% of global electricity supply by 2020, up from about 3% at present. Denmark already got 39% of its electricity from wind last year; Spain 20%, Germany almost 10%, the US 5%. The even better news is that most of the new growth now is in emerging markets, whereemissions growth is slowing because of wind, solar and other renewables, and increasing energy efficiency.

2. Wind power is now the cheapest way to add new power generation to the grid in a long and growing list of countries: Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia and in large portions of the US and China. In fact, most of the growth in 2014 was not driven by climate policy, but rather by wind power's competitiveness, by its contributions to energy security, price stability, and the economic development and jobs that it provides. Add to that the need to rid the large cities of the developing world from the choking smog which threatens to make them unlivable, and wind power is increasingly becoming the power option of choice for large scale, clean electricity to power economic development. In the second quarter of this year wind will surpass nuclear in terms of total installed capacity globally, although it will be a few more years before it surpasses nuclear in terms of production.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:28:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 12:31:12 PM EST
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Shell lobbied to undermine EU renewables targets, documents reveal | Environment | The Guardian

Now documents released to the Guardian under freedom of information laws show that as far back as October 2011, Shell had begun lobbying the Barroso, who was succeeded by Jean-Claude Juncker last November, to scrap the bloc's existing formula for linking carbon-cutting goals with binding renewable energy laws.

Shell argued that a market-led strategy of gas expansion would save Europe €500bn (£358bn) in its transition to a low carbon energy system, compared to an approach centred on renewables. "Gas is good for Europe, and Europe is good at gas," the firm's upstream executive director, Malcolm Brinded wrote in a five-page letter to Barroso.

"Shell believes the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry, protecting employment and consumer buying power, to drive economic growth," he wrote, adding in a hand-written note at the end, "This is a great opportunity for the EU to seize!"<aside> Fossil fuel industry must change profoundly, says former Shell boss BusinessGreen: Ex-Shell UK chairman James Smith argues there is a future for oil and gas firms in a warming world, but only if they embrace low carbon technology Read more

Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in Brussels, spending between €4.25-4.5m a year lobbying the EU institutions, according to the bloc's transparency register.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 12:57:58 PM EST
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I'm SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 03:54:07 PM EST
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"Gas is good for Europe, and Europe is good at gas," the firm's upstream executive director, Malcolm Brinded wrote in a five-page letter to Barroso.
Policy reduced to sloganeering. Well done, Europe.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 04:24:57 AM EST
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What has it to do with "europe" if a lobbyist lobbies? I don't see much here.
by IM on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 07:26:46 AM EST
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That European institutions should be less permeable to big commercial lobbying interests, what else?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 07:33:51 AM EST
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just european Institution? It is quite silly to assume there are no lobbyists at national capitals.
by IM on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 07:57:11 AM EST
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In this extremely important case, the Commission was lobbied, particularly in the person of its president.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 08:37:04 AM EST
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My national capital is so thoroughly corrupt, they don't need lobbyists.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 08:51:50 AM EST
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We don' need no steenkin' lobbystas.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 09:16:16 AM EST
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You mean Spanish politicians are so corrupt they won't stay bought?
by rifek on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 11:39:51 AM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:27:59 AM EST
Humans' ancestors had tentacles

The famous Vitruvian Man, which was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, pictures the canon of human's proportions. However, humans have become bilaterally symmetric not at once. There are two main points of view on the last common bilaterian ancestor, its appearance and the course of evolution.

It is likely that the ancestor of Bilateria appeared at the end of the Vendian period which is the last geological period of the Neoproterozoic Era preceding the Cambrian Period. It lasted from approximately 635 to 541 +/- 1 million years ago. The organisms, which lived in the Vendian sea, were mostly radially symmetrical creatures. Some of them were floating in the water, while others were crawling along the bottom or leading sessile benthic life.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:07:46 PM EST
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Ah, the good old days! The sessile, benthic life!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 08:21:28 AM EST
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Oh, the joys of crawling along the bottom?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 28th, 2015 at 02:06:44 AM EST
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Bacterial flora of remote tribespeople carries antibiotic resistance genes

Scientists have found antibiotic resistance genes in the bacterial flora of a South American tribe that never before had been exposed to antibiotic drugs. The findings suggest that bacteria in the human body have had the ability to resist antibiotics since long before such drugs were ever used to treat disease.

The research stems from the 2009 discovery of a tribe of Yanomami Amerindians in a remote mountainous area in southern Venezuela. Largely because the tribe had been isolated from other societies for more than 11,000 years, its members were found to have among the most diverse collections of bacteria recorded in humans. Within that plethora of bacteria, though, the researchers have identified genes wired to resist antibiotics.

The study, published April 17 in Science Advances, reports that the microbial populations on the skin and in the mouths and intestines of the Yanomami tribespeople were much more diverse than those found in people from the United States and Europe. The multicenter research was conducted by scientists at New York University School of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research and other institutions.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:18:58 PM EST
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afew:
Within that plethora of bacteria, though, the researchers have identified genes wired to resist antibiotics.

Seems intuitive. There are natural antibiotics (garlic, golden seal to name but two) that have been around in human diets long before Fleming. S/C America has more plant biodiversity than any other geo-location.

Why wouldn't the body evolve such genes?

Their first contact after 11,000 years involved studying their gut bacteria... fascinating.

'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 Apr 27th, 2015 at 07:57:48 AM EST
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Yes, because there are lots of neutral mutations. Once environmental pressures start to act, they become selected for.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 27th, 2015 at 10:47:50 AM EST
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China vows crackdown on strippers at funerals

Chinese authorities on Thursday bared the details of their latest anti-vice sweep: a campaign to halt the hiring of strippers at funerals

In a statement posted on its website, China's Ministry of Culture pledged a "crackdown" on the practice, which it said has become increasingly common in rural areas.

"From time to time, 'stripteases' and other illegal performances have occurred in the countryside," the statement said, adding that authorities will "promptly investigate and punish" businesses and individuals involved in the risque shows.

China's official Xinhua news agency said such performances are typically organised in order to draw a larger crowd at last rites.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 12:19:37 PM EST
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Media Watchdog Unveils Top Ten Worst Censors | Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 24 2015 (IPS) - While technology has given millions greater freedom to express themselves, in the world's 10 most censored countries, this basic right exists only on paper, if at all.

According to a report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which will be officially released at U.N. headquarters on Apr. 27, the worst offenders are Eritrea and North Korea, followed by Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, Myanmar and Cuba.

Courtney Radsch, the advocacy director of CPJ, told IPS, "These countries use a wide range of traditional tactics of censorship, including jailing of journalists, harassment of journalists, prosecuting local press and independent press."

According to CPJ's 2014 prison census, Eritrea is Africa's leading jailer of journalists, with at least 23 behind bars - none of whom has been tried in court or even charged with a crime. Among the other most censored countries on the list is China with 44, Iran with 30, and 17 jailed journalists in Ethiopia.

In countries where governments jail reporters regularly for critical coverage, many journalists are forced to flee rather than risk arrest, said the report.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 02:39:42 PM EST
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The Guardian
Women are still prohibited from most jobs in the Catholic church but Pope Francis said on Wednesday that the wage gap between men and women was a "pure scandal" that Christians ought to reject.

"Why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights," he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St Peter's Square.

[...]

The proclamation about women's rights came days after the Argentinean pontiff declared another feminist truism: namely, that men and women are equal.

Recalling the story of Genesis, when God first created Adam and then created woman out of his rib to be a "helper suited to him", Pope Francis said: "The image of the `rib' does not in any way express inferiority or subordination, but on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complementary."

He didn't mention Genesis 3:16.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 12:32:07 PM EST
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UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troops | World news | The Guardian
A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.

Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN's failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts.

[snip]

The treatment of Kompass, a Swedish national, threatens to spark a major diplomatic row.

This month, the Swedish ambassador to the United Nations warned senior UN officials "it would not be a good thing if the high commissioner for human rights forced" Kompass to resign. The ambassador threatened to go public if that happened and to engage in a potentially ugly and harmful debate.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 12:35:21 PM EST
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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 26th, 2015 at 11:28:20 AM EST


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