Monday, 10 March 2008

Sunday, 9th March 2008


Rich countries like the United States say they cannot sell a cut in farm subsidies at home if the deal also involves waivers that allow other countries to dilute market access for their exporters.
But the poor countries, pointing out that the Doha round is supposed to help them in particular, complain they are being asked to do more than the rich. Brazil, a large agricultural exporter, says rich nations want to keep triple-digit tariffs on some farm products, including a 1,720 percent tariff on one Japanes product.

Last month, a team of American, British and Canadian researchers concluded that not a single square foot of ocean had been left untouched by modern society, and that humans had fouled 41 percent of the seas with polluted runoff, overfishing and other abuses.
A narrower study from the University of Oregon found that a dead zone off the Oregon coast had spread south to California and north to Washington and devastated marine life in one of the world's most productive fisheries. The culprit is believed to be global warming, which has changed the interaction between wind and sea in ways that rob the fish of oxygen.
A third study is the latest legislative report card from the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, established to push Congress and the administration to do a better job of protecting America's waters and to play a more active role globally. Washington policy makers get low grades in every category, ranging from financing for scientific research to fisheries management.

The government of Israel said Sunday that it had approved the construction of hundreds of homes in a West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem, a move that could further complicate a peace process already hobbled by violence.

SANA, Yemen
A Yemeni-American who is among the FBI's most wanted terrorism suspects appeared unexpectedly at his trial in a Yemeni court Sunday, for the second time in about two weeks and again waked free.

Empathy and pity are strong and necessary emotions that deepen our sense of connection to others, but they depend on a kind of metaphorical imagination of what others are going through. The facile assumption that we can literally "feel others' pain" can be dangerous to our sense of who we are - and, more alarmingly, who the others are, too. "We all have AIDS," a recent public-awareness campaign declared. Well, no, actually we don't. And to pretend that we do, even rhetorically, debases the anguish of those who are stricken.
Similarly - to return to the world of the Holocaust - a museum that offers ticket holders the chance to go inside a cattle car, presumably in order to convey what it was like to be in one, can ultimately encourage not true sympathy or understanding, but a slick "identification" that devalues the real suffering of the real people who had to endure that particular horror. (When you leave the cattle car, you go to the cafeteria to have your chicken salad; when they left it, they went into a gas chamber. Can you really say you "know what it was like"?)
In an era obsessed with "identity," it's useful to remember that identity is precisely that quality in a person, or group, that cannot be appropriated by others; in a world in which theme-park-like simulacra of other places and experiences are increasingly available to anyone with the price of a ticket, the line dividing the authentic from the ersatz needs to be stressed, rather than blurred. As, indeed, De Wael has so clearly blurred it, for reasons that she has suggested were pitiably psychological. "The story is mine," she announced. "It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving."
"My reality," as opposed to "actual reality," is, of course, one sign of psychosis, and given her real suffering during the war, you're tempted to sympathize - until you read that her decision to write her memoir came at a time when her husband was out of work, or (we real Jews call this chutzpah) that she successfully sued the publisher for more than $20 million for professional malfeasance. Or until you learn about her galling manipulations of the people who believed her. (Slate reported that she got one rabbi to light a memorial candle "for animals.")
"My reality" raises even more far-reaching and dire questions about the state of our culture, one in which the very concept of "reality" seems to be in danger. Think of "reality" entertainments, which so unnervingly parallel the faux-memoirists' appropriation of others' authentic emotional experience: In them, real people are forced to endure painful or humiliating or extreme situations, their real emotional reactions becoming the source of the viewers' idle gratification. Think of the Internet: an unimaginably powerful tool for education but also a Wild West of random self-expression in which anyone can say anything about anything (or anyone) and have it "published," and which has already made problematic the line between truth and falsehood, expert and amateur opinion, authentic and inauthentic identities, reality and fantasy.
That pervasive blurriness, the casualness about reality that results when you can turn off entire worlds simply by unsubscribing, changing a screen name, or closing your laptop, is what ups the cultural ante just now. It's not that frauds haven't been perpetrated before; what's worrisome is that, maybe for the first time, the question people are raising isn't whether the amazing story is true, but whether it matters if it's true. Perhaps the most dismaying response to the James Frey scandal was the feeling on the part of many readers that, true or false, his book had given them the feel-good, "redemptive" experience they'd hoped for when they bought his novel - er, memoir.
"It's really guerrilla marketing," said Roger Menz, vice president of international strategic marketing for Sony BMG. "You go in, do your thing and leave as fast as you can. There was never any intention to hand out leaflets and say 'Thriller' is coming out again. It's just bringing 'Thriller' back in the minds of people, but without the hard sell. That wouldn't be cool."
Critics remain wary of the hazy line between guerrilla and "schill" marketing, an industry term for when the company behind an event is not disclosed. A number of British news organizations described dancers hijacking the London Tube without mentioning they were professionals who toured with a company called "Thriller Live." Some bloggers, though, quickly published postings noting how the Tube dance video was gaining attention at the same time as the debut of the "Thriller" anniversary edition in February.
INVESTORS across the nation are finding themselves in Wall Street’s version of the Hotel California: they have checked into an investment they can never leave.
The investments, which Wall Street peddled as a cash equivalent, are known as auction-rate notes. They’re debt instruments carrying rates that reset regularly, usually every week, after auctions overseen by the brokerage firms that originally sold them. They have long-term maturities or, in fact, no maturity dates at all.
But because the notes routinely traded hands at auctions, Wall Street convinced investors that they were just as good as cold, hard cash. Lo and behold, the $330 billion market for auction-rate notes ground to a halt in mid-February when bids for the securities disappeared. Investors who thought they could sell their holdings easily are now stuck with them. It turns out that the only thing that’s really just as good as cash is, well, cash.

In interviews, investors who own these securities say they weren’t warned that they might not be able to sell them if an auction failed. They say they were told that the instruments were as safe and liquid as — yes, you guessed it — cash.Stephen N. Joffe, a client of
UBS Financial Services, is suing the firm because it put all $1.35 million of his charitable foundation’s cash into auction-rate securities issued by Eaton Vance Limited Duration funds. This, even though he said he explicitly told the broker to take no risk and that he would need constant access to the funds.Dr. Joffe, 65, is a former professor of surgery who founded LCA-Vision Inc., a company that operates laser vision-correction centers. “I never asked my broker to get me a better rate,” he said. “I felt the responsibility to maintain this account as a risk-free account. I believed this was in the equivalent of an overnight money market account.”Now, the Joffe Foundation can no longer fund programs that help prevent AIDS in Africa, provide indigent people with laser vision correction and correct the cleft palates of African children.
Turkey's economy is about 32 percent bigger than previously estimated after the government statistics agency changed the way it measured gross domestic product to capture more unregistered activity.

These elections, in which 36,700 municipalities choose their mayors and municipal councilors, are the most local of French ballots. Two in three French people cast their vote based on local concerns, from public transport to neighborhood parks, the latest poll by the Ifop institute showed.

Lawless, contested, notorious for a string of abductions and unsolved killings, this region has long been known as Sri Lanka's Wild East.
For years, the guerrilla army known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had the run of the region, only to be driven out last summer by the military, with help from a breakaway Tamil rebel faction. The houses here are still pummeled from the fighting. Its people are still rattled from having to run.
On Monday, voters in the east go to the polls in the first local elections in a dozen years. Beyond deciding who will serve in local posts, the vote stands to demonstrate whether, after 25 years of civil war, the government can restore a semblance of normalcy for the area's ethnic Tamil majority.
Sri Lankan soldiers stood at the edge of the meeting, machine guns at the ready. Clumps of young men wearing TMVP jerseys stood in the shade.
Asked if she planned to vote, a woman sitting in the crowd nodded yes. Asked if she felt free to vote her conscience, she shook her head and quietly said, "No." She smiled and looked down at the ground, refusing to say more

After casting his ballot , Rajoy epxressed hope that the will of the people would prevail without any distruption.
"All I wish is that the only news today is that we have held elections, and that those who won the people of Spain want to win will win," he said.

Wall Street banks are facing a 'systemic margin call' that may deplete banks of $325 billion in capital because of deteriorating subprime U.S mortgages, Reuters quoted a JPMorgan Chase report as saying.
JPMorgan, which sent a default notice to Thornburg Mortgage after the lender missed a $28 million margin call said that more default notices were likely. Carlylye Group's mortgage fund also failed to meet $37 million in margin calls last week.

On Sunday, France, the reigning champion, stayed in contention as struggled to beat the dogged Italians, 25-13, in Paris.
France is now the only team that can deprive Wales of the honor of a Grand Slam, for sweeping all the games. But France could do that and yet still not win the title.
Wales holds a significant advantage over France in the tiebreaker: point differential. Wales is at plus-65 and France at plus-27. It means that Wales can afford to lose by as many as 18 points when the two teams meet in Cardiff next weekend and still win the title. But that is not an ideal way to win a title in front of a home crowd desperate for success.
On Sunday, the French team, containing two players making their debuts and two others playing in only their second international appearance, found fluidity only in fits and starts. The Italians were typically disciplined and determined in defense, but hardly helped themselves by dropping the ball almost every time they came close to the French line.
It was a game that provided only sporadic entertainment, but at least it contained four tries, which was three more than the two games the day before put together.
Anthony Floch, Yannick Jauzion and Aurélien Rougerie touched down for France, and Martin Castrogiovanni touched down for Italy when the pack rammed the French pack over the line in the second half.

Ford is running out of assets to sell.

In a blow to Nicolas Sarkozy's 10-month-old presidency, France's opposition Socialist Party was on course Sunday to wrest control of several city governments from his center-right camp after the first round of local elections.
Paris and Lyon were widely expected to remain in Socialist hands, and the party appeared well-placed to win control of emblematic cities like Toulouse and Strasbourg, preliminary results showed.

Naziz control Bavaria
The Hitler government tonight took a long step in the direction of hastening direct control by Berlin over the entire Reich when it appointed General Franz van Epp, a German war hero and Nazi Reichstag deputy, general police director for Bavaria.
The Hitler government, by putting Bavaria, next to Prussia the largest German state, under its control, as far as police power is concerned, has obtained virtual control over all the German states.


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