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

UPDATE: 2011 MeETup!

by dvx Wed Oct 5th, 2011 at 01:17:47 AM EST

Once again, it's time for the annual ET Paris Meetup!

This year's event year be held on Saturday

October 8th.

So mark the date in your calendar.

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NRW Elections Diary

by dvx Mon May 10th, 2010 at 05:08:50 AM EST

A continuation of this diary.

UPDATE: Preliminary results for the parties obtaining seats:

PartyList voteChangeSeatsChange
CDU (Christian Democrat)34.56%-10.2867-22
SPD (Social Democrats)34.48%-2.6267-7
FDP ([neo]liberals)6.73%+0.5713+1
Left Party (Socialist)†5.60%+2.5111+11

Front-paged with update by afew

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Angela's Pesky Election

by dvx Sun May 9th, 2010 at 07:37:22 AM EST

By now we've all been inundated by mainstream media reporting (quite accurately, for a change) that German chancellor Angela Merkel has been dragging her feet on the Greece bailout out of concern for the elections in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on May 9th.

Why is this election so important? And why is the CDU/FDP coalition in trouble?

Promoted by Jérôme. We'll have a results thread later today
Polls closed at 18h CET, exit polls are out, see comments -DoDo

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Burqa Burgers!

by dvx Fri Feb 19th, 2010 at 07:02:10 AM EST

Several times on ET, we've come to the verge of virtual blows on account of France's radical response to Islamic accouterments.

Here's a new twist that sheds another light on the subject.

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Germany: Hartz IV Unconstitutional

by dvx Thu Feb 11th, 2010 at 04:33:28 AM EST

On Wednesday, I dropped the following item into the Salon:

Court rules German welfare law unconstitutional | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 10.02.2010

The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has ruled that a five-year-old social welfare program known as Hartz IV is unconstitutional.

The ruling means that the current benefits paid out to those who qualify, including child dependents, must be adjusted. At present, adults receive 359 euros ($495), and children, depending on their age, between 215 euros and 287 euros.

The court gave lawmakers until the end of 2010 to come up with new guidelines for Germany's 6.7 million Hartz IV recipients. About 1.7 million children under the age of 14 are among those affected.

The court's decision was well received by a number of politicians, including German family minister Kristina Koehler.

"With its verdict, the court has established clarity and at the same time has considered the actual experience of many families with children, who are dependent on Hartz IV," said Koehler in a press release. "It is important and right, since it guarantees that the needs of children in families dependent on state benefits are appropriately considered."

This is a big deal in a whole lot of ways.

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LQD: Blessed Are the Fundsmakers

by dvx Fri Oct 9th, 2009 at 05:40:21 AM EST

I really shouldn't be taking the time to post this, but I can no more resist flaming, irony-replete hypocrisy than I can a bowl of salt peanuts. So I just have to share this:

Religious Intelligence - News - Church of England backs hedge fund managers

The Church Commissioners have come to the aid of hedge fund managers, telling a parliamentary commission that "onerous" regulations proposed by the European Union to govern the financial services industry would harm British charities.

In a submission to the House of Lord's EU Economic and Financial Affairs and International Trade Committee, the Church Commissioners along with five other charities argued that the proposed directive regulating hedge funds would "significantly restrict our ability to generate funds to pursue our charitable missions and thus reduce our impact for public good."

The statement follows last September's charge by the Archbishop of York that hedge funds that bet on the decline of mortgage lender HBOS Plc were ``bank robbers'' and ``asset strippers."

The September submission by the Church Commissioners supports greater transparency and accountability for the financial services industry, but the proposed EU regulations would "limit the scope and potential return of our investment portfolio and hence reduce our charitable spend."

To maximize its financial returns, "we must have freedom to select the best investment managers and funds," they said.

Blessed are the poor, for they... afew

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Germany, Lisbon and Due Process

by dvx Fri Jul 3rd, 2009 at 05:15:05 AM EST

The other day, Germany's highest court rendered a decision as to the constitutionality of the Lisbon Treaty, and news reports responded, as the Salon of the day so aptly documented, a veritable psychedelic lightshow of metaphors:

German leaders hail court's green light for EU reform treaty | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 30.06.2009

A ruling by Germany's highest court that the EU's reforming Lisbon Treaty is compatible with German basic law has been received in Germany and Europe as an encouraging step forward. 

The court rejected complaints from Germany's far-left party and a maverick conservative member of parliament that the treaty would transfer too much power to Brussels.  It said the reforms were fundamentally in line with the country's constitution, but it set conditions.

Yellow Light from Constitutional Court: Germany Cannot Ratify Lisbon -- Yet - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Germany's highest court has ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is not fundamentally incompatible with the country's constitution. However, it has called a halt to the ratification process until the German parliament changes a domestic law to strengthen the role of the country's legislative bodies in implementing European Union laws.

With the process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty hitting one speed bump after another, many would have expected that at least Germany would have given the treaty safe passage. However, an attempt by some German legislators to block its ratification has led to delays even in the European Union's biggest country.

With such reporting, one can well understand why interested readers were left plaintively wondering:


Er - so was the light green, yellow or some other colour?

Actually, this ruling might best be described as a victory for due process.

Front-paged with a slight edit by afew

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Christmas Scripture LQD

by dvx Thu Dec 25th, 2008 at 08:13:15 AM EST

This article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung caught my eye this morning:

Jesus und die Finanzkrise - Der Zorn Gottes - Politik - sueddeutsche.deJesus and the financial crisis - the wrath of God
Nach dem desaströsen Jahr 2008, dem Jahr der geplatzten globalen Gier, möchte man eine andere Krippe aufstellen: nicht die mit den Schafen, Hirten und dem Jesulein-Jesus.Following this disastrous 2008, the year of the bursting of global greed, one would like to erect an alternative creche: not the one with sheep, shepherds and the Baby Jesus.
Es gibt auch einen anderen Jesus: Der steht mit heiligem Zorn im Tempel, eine Geißel aus Stricken in der Hand, stürzt die Tische um und wirft die Händler und Geldwechsler hinaus, die das "Haus des Vaters" zur Räuberhöhle gemacht haben. El Greco hat diese Szene im Tempel öfter und lieber gemalt als die Geburt im Stall.There is another Jesus: He stands in the temple in holy wrath, a scourge of knotted ropes in his fist, upends the tables and casts out the merchants and the money-changers who have made the "house of the Father" into a den of robbers. El Greco painted this scene more often than, and with preference over, the birth in the manger.
Womöglich war sie auch den Evangelisten wichtiger. Über die Tempelreinigung berichten sie jedenfalls alle vier - Matthäus, Markus, Lukas und Johannes. Die Weihnachtsgeschichte dagegen steht nur bei Lukas und Matthäus.It may well have been more important to the Evangelists as well. At any rate, all four - Mathew, Mark, Luke and John - recount the cleansing of the temple. By contrast, the Christmas story is found only in Luke and Mathew.

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LQD: German surveillance revisited

by dvx Mon Dec 1st, 2008 at 03:28:55 AM EST

A little while back I described the efforts of the German government to grant the Federal Police Office sweeping new powers, including the authority to conduct in-home audio and video surveillance and conduct remote computer spying.

Well, at the moment, it ain't gonna happen:

Bundesrat: Streit um BKA-Gesetz | Frankfurter Rundschau - PolitikFederal Assembly: Dispute over BKA Law
Berlin. Der Bundesrat hat das umstrittene Gesetz zur Neuregelung der Befugnisse des Bundeskriminalamtes (BKA) im Anti-Terror-Kampf gestoppt. Die Länderkammer verweigerte dem vom Bundestag beschlossenen BKA-Gesetz in Berlin die erforderliche Zustimmung.
Auch ein rheinland-pfälzischer Antrag auf Anrufung des Vermittlungsausschusses fand keine Mehrheit. Das Gremium kann nun noch von Bundestag und Bundesregierung zu dem Gesetzesvorhaben angerufen werden.
Berlin. The Federal Assembly has stopped the controversial law to redefine the authority of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in the fight against terror. The chamber of the states refused its consent to the BKA statute enacted by the Bundestag.
The proposal of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate to refer the matter to the Mediation Committee also failed to find a majority. The Bundestag and the federal government may still invoke this body.

promoted by afew

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LQD: The German surveillance state

by dvx Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 08:08:21 AM EST

Well, the debate is over, dissent is no longer allowed, and the parliamentary members of the grand coalition have been compelled to do their duty.

Opposition kündigt Widerstand an: Bundestag beschließt BKA-Gesetz - Inland - Politik - FAZ.NETOpposition vows to resist: Bundestag enacts new Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) law
13. November 2008 Nach jahrelangem Streit hat der Bundestag das Gesetz zur Erweiterung der Befugnisse des Bundeskriminalamts (BKA) gegen den Widerstand der Opposition verabschiedet. 375 Abgeordnete stimmten am Mittwoch für das Gesetz, 168 dagegen, sechs enthielten sich. Der Gesetzentwurf, den die große Koalition eingebracht hat, überträgt dem BKA Kompetenzen zur Terrorabwehr und ermöglicht unter anderem die Videoüberwachung von Wohnungen und die Online-Durchsuchung privater Computer. Die Grünen kündigten Klage vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht an.13 November 2008 After years of dispute, the German Bundestag passed the new law to expand the authority of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in the face of the oppposition. 375 representatives voted for the bill on Wednesday, 168 against and six abstained. The bill introduced by the grand coalition grants the BKA authority to combat terror and among other things permits video surveillance of private homes and online searches of private computers. The Greens announced that they would bring an action before the Federal Constitutional Court.

Promoted with slight edit by DoDo

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German Weekend non-Roundup

by dvx Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 08:49:15 AM EST

An arbitrary compilation of issues in the German news this weekend.

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A Brief Rumination on Water

by dvx Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:08:34 PM EST

In this morning's Salon, this post gave rise to a fairly long thread deploring the wasteful nature of lawn watering as practiced in the United States.

Now, I deplore waste (and lawn watering) as much as the next lefty. But such a discussion ignores a fairly large elephant in the room.

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Germany: A Conservative Case against Globalization

by dvx Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 03:43:57 AM EST

As I noted in this morning's Salon, one of Germany's most prominent dailies quoted a prominent retired politician as saying:

Our economic system is outmoded, the interests of capital exclusively dominate the world.

Admittedly, there is nothing about this insight that is particularly noteworthy.

Except that the person speaking is Heiner Geissler, who used to be Helmut Kohl's pit bull. Let's savor the irony.

from the diaries. --Jérôme

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Germany: an Autumn of Discontent - Updated

by dvx Sun Nov 5th, 2006 at 10:16:27 AM EST

By most objective measures, one might think the mood in Germany should be pretty good right now: the economy is up, unemployment is down and Germany hosted a picture-perfect World Cup, enhanced by a fairytale performance on the part of Jürgen and his Klinsmen. So what is one to make of an item such as this, which featured so prominently in the Friday news cycle?

Süddeutsche Zeitung: New Survey: Majority of Germans is Unsatisfied with Democracy

Der Wirtschaft geht es besser, doch die Zustimmung zu den politischen Abläufen im Land ist auf einen historischen Tiefstand gesunken. Die Bundesrepublik erscheint vielen als ein ungerechtes Land.

Die Deutschen sind erstmals mehrheitlich nicht mehr zufrieden damit, wie die Demokratie in der Bundesrepublik funktioniert. Das ist das Ergebnis des neuesten ARD-Deutschlandtrends, der vom WDR in Köln veröffentlicht wurde.

Trotz besserer wirtschaftlicher Rahmendaten sei die gesellschaftliche Stimmung auf dem Tiefpunkt. Zufrieden mit den demokratischen Abläufen äußerten sich nur noch 49 Prozent der Befragten. Das seien elf Prozentpunkte weniger als im September 2005 und der niedrigste je im Deutschlandtrend gemessene Wert.

Auch das Empfinden, dass es in der Gesellschaft eher ungerecht zugeht, ist der Umfrage zufolge seit dem Sommer kontinuierlich gestiegen. Nur noch 27 Prozent der Bundesbürger (minus acht Prozentpunkte im Vergleich zum September 2006) bezeichnen die Situation im Land als gerecht, 66 Prozent hingegen als ungerecht (plus vier Prozentpunkte).

The economy has improved, but approval of the nation's political processes has reached a historic low. Many perceive the Federal Republic as an unfair country.

For the first time, a majority of Germans is no longer satisfied with the way democracy functions in the Federal Republic. This is the result of the latest "Deutschlandtrend" survey of national broadcaster ARD, which was released by member broadcaster WDR in Cologne.

In spite of better economic data, the social mood has reached a low point. Only 49 percent of respondents expressed themselves satisfied with the democratic processes. This is 11 percentage points less than in September 2005 and the lowest level ever measured in Germany.

The survey also revealed that the perception that society is more unfair than otherwise has increased continuously since the summer. Only 27 percent of German citizens (eight percentage points less than in September 2006) regard the situation in the country as fair, 66 percent consider it unfair (plus four percentage points).

A brief tour of German discontents.

Excellent diary and discussion -- afew

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The Indonesian Mud Flood

by dvx Fri Oct 6th, 2006 at 09:42:11 AM EST

In this morning's Breakfast I noted this NYT item:

KEDUNGBENDO, Indonesia, Oct. 5 -- It started as a natural gas well. It has become geysers of mud and water, and in a country plagued by earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis another calamity in the making, though this one is largely man-made.

Eight villages are completely or partly submerged, with homes and more than 20 factories buried to the rooftops. Some 13,000 people have been evacuated. The four-lane highway west of here has been cut in two, as has the rail line, dealing a serious blow to the economy of this region in East Java, an area vital to the country's economy. The muck has already inundated an area covering one and a half square miles.

And it shows no signs of stopping.

This is an environmental disaster story, complete with a villain (if not a happy ending).

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European Gas Supplies in Danger?

by dvx Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 04:34:19 AM EST

Update by wab: 12-30-05; 10:26am MET More news on this subject today in BBC World News: Russia-Ukraine gas deadline looms. Though there is skepticism that this is nothing more than economic brinksmanship...but what if...there was a stoppage of gas from Russia to Europe? How might we all deal with this?

Update [2005-12-30 5:19:0 by Jerome a Paris]: I have bumped the diary back into the diaries. I will only front page a story on this topic that thoroughly debunks the spurious Russian claims that thye will cut off any gas deliveries...

Ukraine has rejected Moscow's offer of a loan to help pay for a controversial hike in the cost of Russian gas.

Russia wants to quadruple the amount it charges Kiev for the gas in order, it says, to bring it up to global norms - but Ukraine is accusing it of spite.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the impasse has led to a "real crisis" in relations between the two countries.

Russia says it will cut gas supplies by Sunday if Kiev does not comply.(...)

Russia and Ukraine are set to resume crisis talks on Friday in a bid to resolve a dispute over gas prices.

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Trade Imbalance and Carbon Emissions

by dvx Fri Dec 23rd, 2005 at 02:20:42 PM EST

from the diaries. -- Jérôme

This month has seen two major international conferences, on international trade and global warming. But there has been little attention given to the connections between the two issues.

A recent study analyzes the extent to which international trade has shifted CO2 emissions from the US to China - and how much additional CO2 has been produced in the process. This has implications not just for the US and China, but for the entire Kyoto Protocol.

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German Bird Flu (Followup)

by dvx Fri Aug 19th, 2005 at 01:36:30 PM EST

At the end of my last diary, I promised to report on the deliberations of German authorities regarding the potential spread of bird flu to Germany.

The short version:

  • There is currently "little acute risk".

  • Free-range poultry are to be confined to cages for the duration of the bird migration season.

  • Germany will make €20 million available for vaccine research.

  • Plus, a local health official describes the state of preparedness on the ground.

Details below the fold.

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Bird Flu Already in Europe?

by dvx Wed Aug 17th, 2005 at 01:48:09 PM EST

The online version of our city paper is taking some time out from World Youth Day boosterism to tell us:

Bird Flu Possibly Already in Europe

While fairly superficial, as befits a provincial newspaper, this article does contain some interesting details about propagation channels.


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RFID for US Visitors

by dvx Sun Jul 31st, 2005 at 01:57:07 PM EST

X-posted from BT, now with poll (non-US citizens/citizens with non-US partners only, please)

A couple of months ago I wrote a diary about the US-VISIT program, which requires visitors from abroad to submit to biometric identification. I also described the technical problems they have.

The Department of Homeland Security now wants to raise the ante and is about to start a pilot program in which foreigners will be issued an RFID ID card readable from 10 to 15 meters away.

More below the fold.

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