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Bloggers steal Zapatero's Seat in Parliament (w/video)

by ManfromMiddletown Mon Oct 2nd, 2006 at 04:53:56 AM EST

File this under bizarre.  

3 Spanish bloggers have faked (or maybe it's real?) a video in which they appear to steal the seat of PM Zapatero in the Congress of Deputies. Click on the pic below for the full video it's quite a production.

Read more... (10 comments, 481 words in story)

Pulse of the Nations (IV): EuroPolls Ressurrection

by ManfromMiddletown Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 03:02:06 AM EST

Close to a year ago now, I started a series called Pulse of the Nations that tracked European and world opinion polls.  I originally had plans to turn it into an educational effort, but that died quickly when Migeru set me straight on the complexities of educating the masses about confidence levels and the like.  Such grand plans will be set aside for the resurrection of the Pulse of the Nations.  

I'm going to use the same format as Fran does for European Breakfast, there will European  and International sections. And every week (asssuming that I keep it up, which isn't a guarantee, we'll see) I'll post a demographic question, and while I'm ressurecting things, I'd like to see if we can get people to sign up for the Eurotrib Frapper page that put in little pins for everybody on a map.  That would allow us to see where every one is from.

Comments >> (55 comments)

***Transatlantic Labor Rights Divide

by ManfromMiddletown Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 04:20:58 AM EST

I've reworked this from a piece I posted on Daily Kos today. I've extracted the US specific content. The most important thing that you need to understand is that in the US, almost without exception employers can fire workers without reason, and no severance payment is made.

The most striking aspect of US labor law is how little protection it offers employee when compared to laws in other OECD countries. The lack of protection for workers in the relationship with employers places American workers at a grave disadvantage when compared to workers in the other industrialized countries of the OECD.

Among OECD countries only the US and Japan subscribe to a strict "at-will" employment relationship, while Austria, Swizterland, and Belgium limit the requirment that employers justify dismissal to specific categories.

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

Read more... (41 comments, 1170 words in story)

***Mexico: If no recount by July 30, "vigorous, radical actions"

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 06:42:28 AM EST

On Sunday, July 30, 2006, the greatest demonstration in moder Mexican history is scheduled to occur. Between 2 and 3 millions highly pissed off peasants and workers aligned with the candidacy of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) will take part in the third of a series of informative meetings in Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

More that a million and a half Mexicans came to the Zocalo to demonstrate their support for AMLO.

From the front page & bumped - whataboutbob

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***Saving the State from New Labour

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Jul 22nd, 2006 at 07:46:41 AM EST

I've been watching the development of Compass a left pressure group within the UK's Labour party.

Compass has been working to build a new left manifesto a la Energize America using the power of the internet to allow citizens input in the new manifesto which will have three goals.

   * Conceptions of the good life and good society - a vision of the kind of world we want to live in. Thatcherism had a powerful vision of this, and the democratic left needs an equally powerful vision.

    * Democracy and a new collectivism - we are not just a set of individuals, and not all things can be chosen as individuals. What democratic structures do we need to be able to give people real influence over their day to day lives? Where should we take action collectively and what are the best structures and mechanisms to allow us to do it in this new decentralised and less deferential world?

    * A left political economy - How can markets be made to serve people and planet, rather than the other way around? Not since the 1970s can the left be said to have a distinct sense of political economy (in the form of the Alternative Economic Strategy).

From the front page - whataboutbob

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The Anti-Semitic Zionist God Squad

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Jul 14th, 2006 at 08:02:42 PM EST

I read the news today, oh boy.The prospect of regional war looms large, and the latest threat from Iran's president highlights the worst case scenario.

"If the Zionist regime commits another stupid move and attacks Syria, this will be considered like attacking the whole Islamic world and this regime will receive a very fierce response," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying in a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Oh shit, Armageddeon.  Tim Lahaye and the Left Behinders must be pleased.  This is what all those years of sabotaging the peace process were about, provoking the Second Coming.

Read more... (40 comments, 1104 words in story)

Jerome may get his $100 barrel... from Mexico

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Jul 8th, 2006 at 02:07:46 PM EST

Mexico matters.  

The United States imports more oil from Mexico than Saudi Arabia.

By law, all Mexican oil is exploited by a state owned corportation, PEMEX.  The gradual opening of the Mexican economy to the private sector, has reached a culmination in recent elections with the conservative candidate, Felipe Calderon, fighting accusations that he would privatize PEMEX.  Left opposition candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) included a promise to not privatize PEMEX, focusing on value added products like gasoline and plastics, as part of his 50 Promises, the core of AMLO's polticial program. What's certain is that Mexico's aging fields are in decline, and the skilled trades workers needed to keep Mexican crude flowing oppose any effort to privatize Mexican oil resources, vehemently. And their anger has been targeted at American companies Bechtel and Halliburton percieved as having recevived overpriced contracts from the conservative government.

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Mexican election mess

by ManfromMiddletown Wed Jul 5th, 2006 at 03:38:19 PM EST

Mexico matters, folks.Whether it's the millions of Mexican workers in the US without papers, or the simple fact that the US imports more oil from Mexico than Saudi Arabia.  Mexico matters.

On July 2 Mexico undertook historic elections which a Latin leftist, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), more akin to Brazil's Lula than Venezuela's Hugo Chavez held  a narrow lead.  That night and following through to the next morning, prelminary, nonbinding results (PREP) provided by the non-partisan Federal Election Institute (IFE) showed the conservative candidate, Felipe Calderon winning by a narrow margin.  That night both candidate declared victory.

This morning, the campaign of AMLO held a press conference in which the allegation of a massive fraud was made.

Read more... (32 comments, 1260 words in story)

Ghosts of Tlatlelolco: Fmr Mexican President charged with genocide.

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Jul 1st, 2006 at 11:12:56 PM EST

Luis Echevarria, former Mexican president, was charged with the crime of genocide on Friday, barely 24 hours before the Sunday's hotly contested presidential election.

Echeverria, 84, is accused of coordinating the massacre of dozens of students by Mexican military forces in Mexico City's Tlatelolco neighborhood 10 days before the 1968 Summer Olympics. The killing, widely known as "The Tlatelolco Massacre," was one of the signal moments in the Mexican citizens movement against the repressive government led by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Echeverria's lawyer, Juan Velasquez, declined in an interview to comment about speculation that the order, sought by prosecutors in President Vicente Fox's administration, was timed to influence the election.

Read more... (6 comments, 791 words in story)

Jose Maria Aznar: Murdoch consigliere .... from September 2004?

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 08:02:24 AM EST

Today's El Pais (translation mine) reports that a company owned by former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar was paid €120,000 annually beginning in September of 2004.

News International, the media company conrlled by Australian-American magnate Rupert Murdoch,  paid €10,000 monthly (€120,000 annually)starting September 1st 2004 to Jose Maria Aznar. These payment were made, until next Saturday July 1, by Famaztella, a LLC owned by the ex-PM. From this point forward, Aznar will receive and almost identical amount-€148,000 annually-, as a a board memeber for Murdoch's company.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Is it Social Wi-Fi, or just stealing?***

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:56:04 AM EST

The San Francisco Gate tells is that that happy days are here again. Spanish techonology company FON is promoting a social Wi-Fi model that could provoke the fury of the technological establishment on a scale not seen since Napster and Kazaa burst onto the scene in the late 90's.

FON's idea is to build a global WiFi network on the same principles as music sharing networks such Napster or Kazaa - what FON calls user generated infrastructure. All users, called FONeros, that are willing to share their WiFi networks at home can also access other FON-user's networks for free when traveling. Non-sharing users and non-FONeros, also called Aliens, will be able to buy access for $3 per day.

From the front page - whataboutbob

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Catalan Estatut wins by large margin. More to come?

by ManfromMiddletown Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 05:24:01 AM EST

With 99.5% of the vote in the Catalan Estatut has been approved by the Catalan people with 73.9% approving, and  20.76 % rejecting the proposed revision the autonomy statute for this wealthy region in northeastern Spain.  At 49.41%, turnout for the referendum failed to pass the psychologically important 50% barrier, leading to criticism from both Spanish nationalists in the  conservative PP and the left wing Catalan nationalist ERC.

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From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Lazy Sunday-Show us your YouTube favorites

by ManfromMiddletown Sun Jun 11th, 2006 at 01:51:28 PM EST

I've been busy lately, and haven't been around much between work and getting ready to return to school, but I've been lurking.  And I saw Sven's diary on You Tube and his daughter.

And it got me thinking, we've had several getting to know you threads where we talked about the songs, books, and movies we like.  What's cool about You Tube is that we can show each other exactly what we're talking about.  I though it would be fun to see if we can find our favorite songs on You Tube, and show them to one another. I'd say it's best to use a linked photo to the video rather than trying to embed. And I'll start with some of my favorite songs from Spain, and an homage to our man in Barcelona, Kcurie,

Comments >> (7 comments)

<Explicit> The rape of Mexico: Why is the National guard is being sent to the border?

by ManfromMiddletown Fri May 19th, 2006 at 04:10:38 PM EST

A funny thing happened on the way to the border. On Monday, George W Bush spoke to the nation, and announced that he will be sending 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border.  This has has not been well received in California, Mexico, and by the Guard itself. Of course, there's suspicion that this has  nothing to do with immigration, and it just "politics."

However that just doesn't chalk up for me.  There's something deeper here, as much as the racist redneck has become the icon for Bush's GOP, on immigration stemming the tide of Mexicans, and others crossing the border hurts Bush's base.  No, not the millions of voters who for the beating Bushonmics has given them cling to the belief that though poor at least they aren't Mexican. The one's who exploit Mexican workers, because American workers have developed excessive pride (and legal rights.) There's something more here.  

Read more... (7 comments, 1744 words in story)

International VAT Tax:Leveling the playing field

by ManfromMiddletown Thu May 11th, 2006 at 10:37:34 AM EST

I had an epiphany while driving to work half asleep yesterday.  

We talk a alot about the dangers, and let's be honest the outright evil shit perperated in the name of neoliberal globalization.

As I said, I had an epiphany.  Maybe it's time for an international VAT tax.

In large part today, companies in countries like the US and the UK no sell products, they sell brands.  And that's where the value is.  And the most obscene thing aobut it is that while that pair of pants you've bought from Walmart (or Asda) cost $10 (or €10) the principle source of the value  of the product lies not in any objective vaulation of the cost of its production, but in the branding performed by the retailer.  

Money flows not to reward labor, but to reward companie whose sole addition to the process was to transport the product thousands of mile, and slap a label on it.  And the thing for that $10 (or €10) pair of pants, the cost to the retailer that sourced the product to China was perhaps a 25% of that.  So a retailer walks away with 50-60% of the cost to the consumer as profit.  And the thing is that this retailier could be sourcing from Barcelona or Boston and still make a profit.  But if it costs the retailer $4 (or €4) to buy from local producers that have to comply with national and local labor and environmnetal laws, even after the cost of transportation, the retailer stands to lose perhaps 10% because they decided to buy products that where produced in accordance with environmental and labor laws.

And with trade liberalization, the tarriff and other barriers countries might have used to make sure that imported goods don't recieve and unfair adavantage because they are not subject to environmental and labor laws.

I have a proposition:

From the front page (with format edit) - whataboutbob

Read more... (14 comments, 674 words in story)

Global Warming: Want to see if your house will be flooded?

by ManfromMiddletown Sun May 7th, 2006 at 11:12:17 AM EST

For most people, climate change is an abstract concept.  

Reports earlier this year that the Greenland ice cap is losing its ice cap brought a brief frenzy of concern that we had reached a tipping point in which the cataclysmic consequnces of global warming were to be revealed a la Apocolypse to the world.  The facts are less dramatic but not much less disturbing. Greendland's ice cap losing much larger amounts of area during the summer melt.

In February 2006 researchers discovered glaciers in Greenland were moving much faster than before, meaning that more of its ice was entering the sea.

In 1996, Greenland was losing about 100 cubic km per year in mass from its ice sheet; by 2005, this had increased to about 220 cubic km.

A complete melt of the ice sheet would cause a global sea level rise of about 7m; but the current picture indicates that while some regions are thinning, others are apparently getting thicker.

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From the front page ~ whataboutbob

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The Siesta is sacred .... or not

by ManfromMiddletown Wed May 3rd, 2006 at 03:47:21 AM EST

First he allowed women into the government, then he allowed gays to marry. Then he caved in to the Catalans, and now, now they attack the siesta?

Cabrones, todos

But now the national government has launched a campaign to break Spaniards of their traditional midday meal and nap, arguing that the old-fashioned custom is bad for business, bad for families and out of step with Spain's image as an emerging European dynamo.

In January, the government enacted regulations requiring that all federal agencies enforce a 45-minute lunch break, beginning about 12:30 p.m., and then send their workers home by 6 p.m. The hope is that the private sector will follow suit, according to Fernando Moraleda, a government spokesman.

"When they go home, many parents only see their family when they're sleeping," Moraleda said. "Our workday is morning, afternoon and night. We want to shorten the lunch to make time and space for the family."

The long break and late working hours have put Spain out of sync with the rest of Europe, making it difficult to coordinate business schedules and to take advantage of the European Union's borderless economy, Moraleda and others said.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

Read more... (15 comments, 384 words in story)

Europe ...... Land of Opportunity.

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Apr 29th, 2006 at 11:54:16 AM EST

From the Center for American Progress.

While few would deny that it is possible to start poor and end rich, the evidence suggests that this feat is more difficult to accomplish in the United States than in other high-income nations. This claim is based on cross-country comparisons of the intergenerational elasticity of earnings, a statistic that measures the percentage difference in expected child earnings that is associated with a one percent difference in parental earnings. Higher elasticities mean less mobility: they imply that parental income matters more, or that the children of the poor are more likely to remain poor.

Figure 2, below, displays the intergenerational elasticity of earnings between fathers and sons for nine upper-income countries, and shows that the United States and the United Kingdom are especially immobile.

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Class in America

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 05:03:10 PM EST

As a man I find this hard to admit, but I'm going to watch Oprah today.

It's not that they're aren't good shows, it's that I think that I'm not the key demographic. Today though is different, and I await to see whether Ms. Winfrey delivers the goods or disappoints. Today on the Oprah Show.

It's rarely talked about. What class are you? Lower? Middle? Upper? The three unspoken things that reveal your class? Why should class matter?  Why should you care? Uncovering the truth about America's taboo topic?

Read more... (18 comments, 1677 words in story)

The lies of March 11 and the Basque situation.

by ManfromMiddletown Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 12:39:38 PM EST

One of the enduring myth of the Madrid Train bombings is that the armed Basque seperatist group ETA was behind the attacks.  The Spanish Right continues to use this as a rallying point.  I present as evidence a video production of Spain's FAES foundation.

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Click on the picture, if you have a strong stomach.

Read more... (3 comments, 932 words in story)
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