Tag Archives | Europe

Bankers Undemocratically Installed As Heads Of Italy And Greece

Pg-12-eurozone-graphicIn case you missed it, over the past eight days, the prime ministers of two major European nations stepped down. The newly appointed, not elected, leaders of Italy and Greece will be Mario Monti (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and Lucas Papademos (formerly head of the Central Bank of Greece). A signal that marriage between capitalism and democracy is coming to an end? The Independent writes:

The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By replacing the scandal-surfing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has dislodged the undislodgeable. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, it has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.

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40 Percent Of Europeans Have Mental Illness

blogstagefright2The percentage will only increase, with an aging population, the stresses of modern life, et cetera, which leads to the question: What happens when the majority of the public across an entire continent are classified as ‘mentally ill’? Via Reuters:

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has to be closed,” said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany’s Dresden University and the lead investigator on the European study.

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Bombs Explode In IKEA Stores Across Europe

800px-Ikea_almhult

Photo: Sbotig (CC)

IKEA’s business has been booming. Although no one was significantly injured, this coordinated attack had alarm clocks exploding in three different European countries. Via Reuters:

French, Belgian and Dutch police have launched investigations after minor explosions struck IKEA [IKEA.UL] stores in each country late on Monday in what appears to have been a coordinated attack.

No one was seriously hurt in the blasts at the world’s biggest furniture retailer, although two workers in Belgium suffered minor injuries.

Rigged alarm clocks blew up in IKEA stores in Ghent in Belgium and Lille in France, and there was an explosion in a bin outside the IKEA store in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

The alarm clocks were linked to small amounts of gunpowder, and prosecutors said they did not think that the bombers had intended to cause significant injury.

“Federal police with dogs did a sweep of other stores but there was nothing suspect that was found,” An Schoonjans, a Ghent prosecutor, told Reuters.

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Less than 50 Years of Oil Left, HSBC Warns

Mad MaxRecently John Collins Rudolf reported in the New York Times:

The world may have no more than half a century of oil left at current rates of consumption, while surging demand from the developing world threatens to create “very significant price rises” before substitutes like biofuels can serve as viable alternatives, the British bank HSBC warns in a new report.

“We’re confident that there are around 50 years of oil left,” Karen Ward, the bank’s senior global economist, said in an interview on CNBC.

The bank, the world’s second largest in assets, further cautioned that growth trends in developing countries like China could put as many as one billion more cars on the road by midcentury. “That’s tremendous pressure on oil to power all those resources,” Ms. Ward said.

Substitutes, such as biofuels and synthetic oil from coal, could fill the gap if conventional supplies fall short, but only if average oil prices exceed $150 per barrel, the report notes.

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The Pirate Bay: ‘The Battle of Internets is About to Begin’

Pirate BayErnesto writes on TorrentFreak:

Talks on implementing a Europe-wide firewall to censor and block ‘illicit’ websites has caused concern among many Internet users in recent weeks, and today one of the targeted sites has joined the discussion. Quoting one of Churchill’s most famous speeches, The Pirate Bay team is rallying the public to defend the free Internet and end the threat posed by the entertainment industries’ copyright lobby.

In February, a secret meeting of the European Union’s Law Enforcement Work Party (LEWP) resulted in a worrying proposal.

To deal with illicit sites on the Internet, the group suggested the adoption of a China-like firewall to block websites deemed ‘inappropriate’. The controversial proposal immediately met resistance from various sides, including ISPs who would be tasked with maintaining the blocklist. The copyright lobby on the other hand welcomes the initiative which they’ve been suggesting for years.

One of the sites that has a fair share of experience with being blocked is The Pirate Bay.

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Belgium Marks One Year Without Full Government

Photo: Didier Misson (CC)

Photo: Didier Misson (CC)

Breaking Iraq’s record of 289 days, Belgium reaches a year without an entire government. BBC reports:

As Belgium marks one year without a government, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called the political impasse “extremely pitiful”.

The former Belgian prime minister told the De Standaard newspaper that the country would need a full government soon to decide on economic policy.

Member states are required to put long-term economic planning past the EU.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme has said three more months might be needed to form a governing coalition.

Mr Leterme succeeded Mr Van Rompuy as prime minister in November 2009, but resigned in April 2010 after his government collapsed.

[Continues at BBC News]… Read the rest

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This Is What Global Alcohol Consumption Looks Like (Map)

Who knew? Moldovans are the heaviest drinkers in the world, downing more than 18 liters/person every year. And the United States is well behind Europe, with most Europeans drinking nearly double as much as Americans.

So you’re not #1 in this respect, USA. Americans, what are you going to do about this? Via the Economist:

World Alcohol Consumption

Another “fun” fact: Moonshine accounts for almost 30% of the world’s drinking…… Read the rest

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China Vows To Help European Debt Crisis

2010 had Greece and Ireland receiving financial help from the Internatioanl Monetary Fund and Eurozone nations. 2011 has Spain, Germany and Britain finding help from Chinese investors as Vice Premier Li Keqiang began his European tour. Via The Jakarta Globe:

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang backed Europe in its sovereign debt battle on Wednesday, starting a three-nation tour by promising to buy more Spanish government bonds.

Li, widely tipped to be the next premier, delivered a significant vote of confidence given China’s world record foreign reserves of 2.648 trillion dollars (2.0 trillion euros), much of it in euros.

On his visit to Spain, Germany and Britain he is supporting Europe’s recovery efforts and seeking to soothe global market fears of a debt quagmire spreading from Greece and Ireland to Portugal and even Spain.

[Continues at The Jakarta Globe]… Read the rest

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Is The Euro Dead?

euroSo sad to watch a dream die. The Telegraph‘s Jeff Randall declares that the united-Europe currency is close to death:

What was once deemed unthinkable is now, I believe, inevitable: withdrawal from the eurozone of one or more of its member countries. At the bottom end, Greece and Portugal are favourites to be forced out through weakness. At the top end, proposals are already being floated in the Frankfurt press for a new “hard currency” zone, led by Germany, Austria and the Benelux countries. Either way, rich and poor are heading in opposite directions.

When asked on Sky if, in five years’ time, the euro will have the same make-up as it does today, Jeremy Stretch, a currency analyst at Rabobank, the Dutch financial services giant, told me: “I think it’s pretty unlikely.” The euro was a boom-time construct. In the biggest bust for 80 years, it is falling apart.

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Ash Cloud Disrupts Travel for 2nd Day

Just when you thought air traffic was back to normal …  I’m headed for Europe this week, and I hope Vulcan will hold his wrath long enough for me to get across. CBC News Reports:

from C.G. Newhall at Wikimedia Commons

Air traffic to and from European destinations was disrupted by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland for a second consecutive day Sunday.

The cloud is lingering over northwestern Scotland and a finger stretches into the airspace over northwestern Spain and Portugal.

An isolated cloud is affecting southern France and northern Switzerland, while another hangs over southern Switzerland, northern Italy, southern Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.

Roughly 1,000 fewer flights took place in European airspace on Sunday, a drop of four per cent from the usual number for this time of year.

Hundreds of flights were canceled Saturday as plumes of ash again blew toward western Europe.

Spain closed 19 airports, while dozens of flights were also canceled in Portugal.

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