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

LQD- Armageddon Days?

by RogueTrooper Wed May 13th, 2009 at 08:11:24 AM EST

In today's Guardian Larry Elliot is throwing a little scorn onto those who are saying "happy days are hear again"

Panic over. Six months ago, you could not pick up a newspaper or watch the TV without sensing that the global economy was imploding. Banks were being bailed out, the stock market was in freefall, ­factories were being mothballed. Shaken to its very foundations, capitalism would never be the same again.

But that was then. Capitalism, it appears, has made a deathbed recovery. It is out of intensive care and, while not quite fighting fit, is doing well in the recovery ward. Another few months should see it as good as new.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is something flammed up by a media suffering waves of ennui after two years charting the path from boom to boost. While Depression chic is now last year's thing, there are reasons to believe the worst of the crisis may be over, certainly for now. Estate agents say buyer interest is running at its highest level in a decade; retail activity last month was the strongest for three years; the decline in factory output in March was just 0.1% - the least bad performance since early 2008.

In case you are going to be easily gulled by the happy talk. Mr. Elliot has given us five key pointers to judge the economic state of Britain by...

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LQD - We are all as bad as our errant MPs

by RogueTrooper Wed May 13th, 2009 at 06:52:25 AM EST

I shouted out
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all
It was you and me

Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones

In today's Guardian, Jeremy Seabrook, has some interesting things to say about the current expenses scandal engulfing British members of Parliament.

The anger at the grotesque and irresponsible expense claims of MPs is, to some degree, artificial, for who does not enjoy a good bout of moral righteousness? When the present "scandal" follows so hard on the heels of stories of the contortions of bankers, the ingenious ways and means of corporate tax evaders, and the continuing witch-hunt against "benefit fraud" ("We're getting closer" warn the illuminated panels at the bus stops), it is clear there is something more profoundly wrong with society than a few cheats and opportunists exploiting legal "loopholes" in a system widely advertised as the best ever devised by humanity for the ordering of its affairs.

The theory that MPs now represent no one but themselves is perhaps less true than we might wish. They are not alone in taking advantage of rules of such moral flexibility that few people now seem able to distinguish between necessary expenses, fiddling, or just emolument for services performed.

Of course, any society that, even one that unwittingly, worships at the altar of Ayn Rand is going to have to deal with the consequences of a populace hell bent on maximising its self interest.

promoted by whataboutbob

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LQD: The End of The Famous ET Murdoch Alert?

by RogueTrooper Fri May 8th, 2009 at 07:52:22 AM EST

Is Rupert Murdoch losing it?

I guess there was more important news this morning - Pakistan, the American banks - but it was Rupert Murdoch who caught my attention. I was stunned to read Andy Clark's dispatch in the Guardian this morning about Murdoch planning on charging for access to his properties on the internet.

Look, Rupe usually knows what he's doing. But this really flies in the face of common sense. He argues that the Wall Street Journal's experience proves that one can successfully charge readers for internet access to one's newspapers.

But does it? The Journal and the Financial Times, are kind of sui generis. They're financial newspapers, read by a global financial elite. You can charge global financial elites to read a tailored product of financial news.

But can you do the same with regular readers, to get them to read general-interest news? The universal experience has been that you can't.

The New York Times tried it and got hammered. It charged for so-called "Times Select" content - most prominently the paper's famous opinion columnists like Paul Krugman and David Brooks - for a little while, hoping to crowbar $50 a year out of saps like me.

It worked in my case, but there was a general hue and cry against it (not least from the columnists themselves). The paper quit charging for this premium content, and the whole experiment was chalked up a disaster.

And now Rupert thinks general readers who refused to pay for the quality New York Times are going pay for the proletarian New York Post? And the Sun and the News of the World? And for that matter the Times (your Times). If people didn't pay for our Times (the New York one - let's face it, an immeasurably better newspaper these days, such that there's utterly no comparison anymore between the two), why will they pay for yours? I just don't see it.

Neither do I, actually. Also, how much are online advertisers going to pay for their adverts the eyeballs can't see their adverts. I was under the assumption that newspapers made their real money from classified adverts not punters paying for their product.

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In Remembrance

by RogueTrooper Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:47:29 AM EST

World recalls end of World War I

Ceremonies are being held across the globe to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Four years of trench warfare between Germany and the Allies killed some 20m people and redrew the map of Europe.

A major commemoration is taking place in Verdun, north-east France, where French and German troops fought for eight months.

The battle was the war's longest, and Verdun has since become a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and the Duchess of Cornwall are French President Nicolas Sarkozy's guests of honour at the event.

But no veterans are in attendance, says the BBC's Jonny Dymond, at the service. Not one member of the two huge armies that clashed on the fields of Verdun survives.

Only the dead are left to be remembered, and the backdrop of the service is the ossuary, which contains the bones of 130,000 men who died in the fighting.

From, Harry Patch, a surviving veteran

In November 2004 (at the age of 106), he met Charles Kuentz, a 108-year-old veteran who had fought on the German side at the battlefield of Passchendaele (and on the French side in World War II). Patch was quoted as saying: "I was a bit doubtful before meeting a German soldier. Herr Kuentz is a very nice gentleman however. He is all for a united Europe and peace - and so am I".

Commemoration of the 1918 Armistice today - afew

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REACH has been passed (will soon, that is...)

by RogueTrooper Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 08:19:29 AM EST

BBC:New European chemical law passed

The European Parliament has backed a deal, reached with EU governments, on wide-ranging legislation to control the use of toxic chemicals in industry. The draft law will come into force in 2007, and is designed to make firms prove the many chemicals they use in products from cars to clothes are safe.

It comes after wrangling between environmentalists wanting action and firms seeking to avoid laborious rules. EU nations will have until 2018 to implement the new rules.

The system for registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) demands that firms provide lists of the chemicals they use and list any possible risks. A newly-established agency in Finland will oversee the way the firms assess the 30,000 chemicals they use.

The register will initially focus on the most toxic chemicals and those produced in the largest quantity.

Manufacturers will have to come up with plans to replace the most hazardous chemicals, but they will not be banned outright as environmentalists had hoped.

While the EU said the deal improved the safety standard of chemicals, green lobbyists were angered by what they saw as the EU bowing to industry pressure.

more, after the break

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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What Big Brother Sees

by RogueTrooper Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 10:29:52 AM EST

Britons are now the most closely watched people on the planet and fears that the UK could "sleep-walk into a surveillance society" may soon become a become a reality. This last quote is not from a spokesperson of a civil liberties group but from the UK government's own information commissioner, Richard Thomas.

This story is getting quite a bit of play in the UK media today. The BBC has a good article on the piece...

The report's co-writer Dr David Murakami-Wood told BBC News that, compared to other industrialised Western states, the UK was "the most surveilled country".
"We have more CCTV cameras and we have looser laws on privacy and data protection," he said.

"We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us."

The report coincides with the publication by the human rights group Privacy International of figures that suggest Britain is the worst Western democracy at protecting individual privacy.

My editorial is below the fold...

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Murdoch tells Tony its time to go

by RogueTrooper Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 07:28:15 AM EST

Harry's Place: Murdoch tells Tony its time to go

Rupert Murdoch has given Tony Blair his marching orders. Rupert wants David Cameron and Gordon Brown to poll dance for him for 18 months so he can make up his mind on who he is going to back.

Murdoch has long seen himself as king maker and Blair hasn't helped matters with his willingness to appear as a star performer in the Murdoch global media circus.

He spells out exactly what he is looking for in one of his own titles, The Australian today:

"We've been a very big supporter of Tony on big issues, he's been a very courageous world leader. We've also been critical of him on other things like Europe.

"But for no reason other than the dynamics of British politics we would like to see at least a year to 18 months' standoff between Gordon Brown and David Cameron so we can decide which of those most coincides with our views.

"Those two are going to decide the next election and I think the British public would be cheated if they only got a month or two's warning."

And from the Austrailian article referenced by HP...

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This United Kingdom

by RogueTrooper Wed Jun 14th, 2006 at 05:59:41 AM EST

Guardian:If it's English vote for English law, the UK's end is nigh

Helped along by the St George's crosses fluttering from every second car and the "Ingerlands" being chanted from pub pavements, the "English question" is back on the agenda. It goes way beyond the World Cup fever though - it's not about the strengths and weakness of the England football team. It is the old West Lothian Question rebranded - and it has still not been answered.

First asked in 1977 by the Labour backbencher Tam Dalyell, it has been rediscovered by every rightwing paper and pundit. The question is simple. Once powers have been devolved to the Edinburgh parliament over health, education or whatever, why should MPs sitting for Scottish seats be allowed to vote on such issues at Westminster? They are then making policy not for their constituents but for other people's. Is this not a question of fairness, and are the English not being given a raw deal?

More, after the break...

More countries to enter the EU? From the diaries - whataboutbob

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The rise and rise of convenience food

by RogueTrooper Sat May 20th, 2006 at 09:50:08 AM EST

if the others are eating... promoted by DoDo

Interesting article/polemic from The Guardian

This was the gist of the news: baked beans on toast, Britain's most popular convenience food, was about to get even more convenient. "Instant" baked beans on toast, a frozen, fused sandwich that goes in the toaster, is to be tested by Heinz in New Zealand and if successful, launched in the UK. It's the subject that everyone is talking about, but you have to ask: why are they doing it?

Why indeed. More after the break

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Peugeot unions consider striking

by RogueTrooper Wed Apr 19th, 2006 at 10:02:47 AM EST

From The BBC. The Company might be French but the striking militants hail from another place.

Unions say they are considering industrial action over the news that 2,300 workers will lose their jobs when a Warwickshire car plant closes.

It follows the announcement that the Peugeot plant at Ryton, near Coventry, will close by mid-2007.

A union spokesman said industrial action may not be taken straight away but they intended to fight the company's decision.

Production at the Warwickshire plant has halted while staff attend meetings.

Peugeot has blamed high production and logistical costs for the decision.

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Plus ça change

by RogueTrooper Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:46:05 AM EST

My apologies if this has already been posted. It is an article about a new book, That Sweet Enemy, by Isabelle and Robert Tombs about the relationship between Britain and France.  The article is just fabulous.

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The rancid relationship

by RogueTrooper Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:47:12 AM EST

The Guardian's Security Affairs Editor posted this entry to Comment is Free. An interesting anaysisreview piece on the state of Britain and the USA'a relationship.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair agreed that Britain would take the lead in eradicating the opium harvest in Afghanistan, the origin of 90% of British heroin. In his new book, State of War, James Risen quotes a CIA official as saying: "The British were screaming for us to bomb those targets because most of the heroin in Britain comes from Afghanistan. But they [the US military] refused." He writes: "The Pentagon feared that counter-narcotics operations would force the military to turn on the very warlords who were aiding the United States against the Taliban and that would lead to another round of violent attacks on American troops."

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Tony Blair Talks Europe

by RogueTrooper Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 12:19:06 PM EST

Tony Blair gave a speech on Europe, and the European Union last night. It is quite an interesting speech; meant mostly for domestic consumption. It packs a puch

Herein lies Britain's - and Europe's - opportunity.  The British problem with our membership of the EU may derive from the curious and tortured circumstances of its birth.  But long since, it has taken on a unique life of its own.  The dilemma of a British Prime Minister over Europe is acute to the point of the ridiculous.  Basically you have a choice: co-operate in Europe and you betray Britain; be unreasonable in Europe, be praised back home, and be utterly without influence in Europe.  It's sort of: isolation or treason.

More from the silver tongued devil after the break

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The truth about being British

by RogueTrooper Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:08:08 PM EST

This was sent to me in an email. Apparently it was a submission, from a Swiss gentleman, to a British newspaper regarding the question: what it means to be British?

"Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for A Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign."

Hah! Hah!

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Merkel warns Cameron over MEP plans

by RogueTrooper Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 11:19:56 AM EST

During the recent Conservative Party leadership campaign David Cameron, the eventual winner, pledged to pull the Tories' MEP out of the EPP-ED Grouping. He did this to buy support from the Eurosceptic wing of the Party - I know, I know they are all Europhobic - by Eurosceptic Tories I mean single issue obsessives. Anyhoo, this should get the very crazy wing of the British Conservative Party frothing at the mouth. From The Guardian

Angela Merkel, Germany's new chancellor, has made her first intervention in British politics by issuing a veiled warning to David Cameron to pull back from abandoning the main centre-right grouping in the European parliament.

Days after Kenneth Clarke accused the new Tory leader of embracing the "head-banging tendency" in Strasbourg, Mrs Merkel has written to Mr Cameron to make clear she expects him to remain in the EPP-ED grouping.

"I look forward to good and intensive cooperation with you, in particular within the framework of the EPP-ED as a clear base for our bilateral dialogue as partners," Mrs Merkel wrote. "I wish you all the best for the tasks that lie ahead."

Merkel warns Cameron over MEP plans

Nicholas Watt, European editor
Thursday December 15, 2005

Angela Merkel, Germany's new chancellor, has made her first intervention in British politics by issuing a veiled warning to David Cameron to pull back from abandoning the main centre-right grouping in the European parliament.

Days after Kenneth Clarke accused the new Tory leader of embracing the "head-banging tendency" in Strasbourg, Mrs Merkel has written to Mr Cameron to make clear she expects him to remain in the EPP-ED grouping.

"I look forward to good and intensive cooperation with you, in particular within the framework of the EPP-ED as a clear base for our bilateral dialogue as partners," Mrs Merkel wrote. "I wish you all the best for the tasks that lie ahead."

The carefully worded intervention is a shot across the bows to warn Mr Cameron that the Tories' relations with Europe's largest country will plummet if he carries out his threat.

Her intervention will strengthen the hand of pro-European Tories who are dismayed by Mr Cameron's pledge to pull out of the EPP-ED grouping on the grounds that it is fiercely pro-European.

Now, the next part is quite interesting. The sort of parties the Eurosceptic right expect Cameron's Conservatives to hang out with are a little unsavoury. Cameron has pledged to make the Conservatives more social inclusive and tolerent. Some of the homophobic opions his new friends will leave him open to accusations of moral hypocrisy.

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Europe's pollution hotspots shown

by RogueTrooper Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 09:51:39 AM EST

from the diaries. Text bumped below the fold. See also the map of light pollution below --Jérôme.

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Anatomy of a Race Riot

by RogueTrooper Tue Nov 29th, 2005 at 07:27:16 AM EST

Guardian:Rumours of a riot

It started with a claim that a young black woman had been raped in a shop - and exploded into a race riot that left a man dead. But what was the truth behind the rumour that set Birmingham alight? Ed Vulliamy investigates

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Great news - Blair DEFEATED over terror laws

by RogueTrooper Fri Nov 11th, 2005 at 10:54:18 AM EST

From the front page

Blair defeated over terror laws

Prime Minister Tony Blair has lost the key House of Commons vote on plans to allow police to hold terror suspects without charge for up to 90 days.

MPs rejected the proposals by 322 votes to 291. They are now voting on whether to accept a compromise detention limit.

The defeat came despite Mr Blair saying MPs had a "duty" to give police the powers they needed to tackle terrorism.

The vote - the government's first Commons defeat - will be seen as a blow to the prime minister's authority.

But it does not mean he will have to stand down as prime minister - something he has said he will do before the next election.

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What Cocaine Says about Britain

by RogueTrooper Thu Nov 10th, 2005 at 11:30:43 AM EST

What cocaine says about you

A model is caught on camera snorting a line and is vilified; a would-be prime minister refuses to deny using it in the past - and nobody seems to care. Cocaine used to mean moral degeneracy or metropolitan indulgence. What on earth does it stand for now?

Intersting article about drug use in the UK.

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EU reaches deal on Turkey talks

by RogueTrooper Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 10:47:24 AM EST

Promoted by Jerome a Paris. Le Monde states that both Turkey and Cyprus have accepted the compromise, but does not provide more detail on its content. Please provide below any info you may find.

From the BBC

EU foreign ministers have reached a deal clearing the way for accession talks with Turkey to begin, EU officials have said.

Austria had demanded the EU keep open the option of "privileged partnership" for Turkey, as well as full membership.

But officials said after intense negotiations in Luxembourg that Austria had fallen into line.

The new document has been sent to the Turkish government, which is considering whether to accept it.

I wonder what the deal was?

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