Recent ‘Toon Gnuz from Paul Jamiol

Our good friend and honorary Critter Paul Jamiol has been busy lately: illustrating a children’s book; working on a new collection of his excellent editorial cartoons to come out in early 2020; plus, most days, putting out new, grimly accurate observations on these terrible times.  (All images are copyrighted by Paul Jamiol.)

jamiol banger the sausage dog book cover

pauls new book

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jamiol 052819

jamiol 061919

jamiol 062619

jamiol 062819

jamiol 07012019

jamiol 07042019

jamiol vileness

jamiol 07062019

jamoil detention

jamiol racist rant

That’s just a sampling.  For more, and to see how talented Paul’s wife, Lin, is with her green thumb [and who knew that Paul is an amazing photographer!], visit Jamiol’s World.

Paul has been chronicling political/current events since September 2000.  His encouragement and kindness to us Critters when we left ThinkProgress to start TheZoo, as well as our longstanding friendship, will always be appreciated – hell, I still LOVE our personalized header ‘toon.  I know that we here at TheZoo became pretty burnt out trying to do our part – it’s so damned hard to keep covering this shitshow, when day after day, even hour after hour, horrors upon horrors unfold.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to illustrating  what could well become America’s downfall.  It’s a grim task, and I don’t envy you.  Please carry on for as long as you can stand it, and we’ll try to keep up.

 

Open Thread – Come and get it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 4th, 2017: Look Back and Laugh…and Sigh

We need to take a break from the horror that America has become under a dark, grim authoritarian regime that’s less than two months old, and look back at what – in now-stark contrast – were the halcyon days of Barack Obama, The Laughing President.

President Obama was always at ease with himself, so he was also (almost) always at ease with foreign leaders, celebrities, his fellow Democrats, former Presidents from both sides of the aisle, even the Pope, for heaven’s sake; and even, FFS, the PRESS, that “Enemy of the American People”:

Notice that German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't mind President Obama touching her.

Notice that German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t mind President Obama touching her.

Jon Steward and President Obama share a pose and a smile

Jon Stewart and President Obama share a pose and a smile

President Obama has a good laugh with David Letterman

President Obama heartily laughing with David Letterman

V.P. Joe Biden and President Obama acting casually.

V.P. Joe Biden and President Obama perform synchronized laughing.

Patently genuine laugh between Hillary Clinton and President Obama

Patently genuine laugh between Hillary Clinton and President Obama

Hillary's losing it, but Obama is happy to provide support

Hillary’s losing it, but Obama provides support

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton having a good time

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton having a good time

"THERE ARE FOUR PRESIDENTS [laughing]!"

“THERE ARE FOUR PRESIDENTS [laughing]!”

The President and The Pope

The President and The Pope

President Barack Obama's mic drop at his final Nerd Prom

President Barack Obama’s mic drop at his final Nerd Prom

But the ease and warmth that he obviously shared with so many others pales in comparison with the almost-visible aura of the unmistakable ease, warmth, humor, respect and love that he shares with his wife Michelle:

Barack and Michelle, side by side, as a loving couple should be...

Barack and Michelle, side by side, as a loving couple should be…

Date night out?

Date night out?

Now THAT'S "Class!"

Now THAT’S “Class!”

I won’t sully this brief remembrance of better times with the name(s) or photo(s) of the current fake occupier of our White House. I hope that, as I did, you couldn’t help but smile in response to President Barack Obama’s infectious grin.

[…sigh…]

This is our Open Thread, a bit late – enjoy!

Sunday Roast: April 14th, 2013 – Four Cups of Coffee

Good Morning Zoosters. Tired? I am. So this is what I found for your Sunday Morning reading over my morning coffee:

Having my first cup of coffee, I discovered that being all powerful and so full of yourself doesn’t mean people love you. Au contraire in some notorious cases, including this:

Protesters could be arrested for “alarming or distressing” mourners at the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, a police chief in charge of security at the event has warned. (full story)

In the UK this song is No 1 in ITunes Store downloads. Ah well.

Having my second cup of coffee was my “banging head on desk” moment. I have discussed some Right Wing terrorism in Germany here and it beats me, how the court could have excluded foreign newspapers, especially Turkish ones from this trial. The Verfassungsgericht ( our version of Supreme Court) set things right.

Germany’s top court has ruled that foreign media must get access to the trial of a suspected neo-Nazi charged in connection with the murders of 10 people, including eight of Turkish descent. A Turkish newspaper had filed a complaint. The row had threatened to harm Germany’s image and was overshadowing the trial starting April 17. (full story)

Cup Number Three: It won’t go away, not in our lifetimes. The Deepwater Horizon Spill has caused more damage than BP could ever pay for in damages. Can’t we, please, start taking care of our planet? It’s our home. The only one we’ve got.

Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill. (full story)

That required some lighter reading for cup four. Lest I ruin my day. Are women unrealistic when it comes to  the male of the species? I am, totally, that’s for sure, but here’s some evidence, or not.

Men have long wondered what exactly it is that women want. Some pore over men’s magazines, with their promises of “washboard abs”, for guidance. The more scientifically minded look for experimental data. (full story)

So, now I have my fifth cup, have a peek into the Formula 1 Race, then I am off to Brunch with a friend, we will then discuss what I’ve read over my fourth cup of coffee.

You all have a very pleasant Sunday, sunny happy and warm. See you all later!

This is our Open Thread. Let’s go.

Across the Pond: January 20th, 2013 – Sunday Round Up

Right. Well, I’m up anyway, so let’s check the webs.

The Hostage Crisis in Algeria seems to be over. But it ended in a bloodbath. The situation is still not quite resolved while I am typing this, but one thing is clear: All attackers and the hostages remaining in the hands of their captors are dead.

The Algerian government seems to not have thought twice about getting this done, never mind the cost. It reminds me of the Beslan massacre where a hostage taking by Chechen rebels in a school was ended by the Russian forces without any consideration of the hostages’ fate.

“The terrorists were prepared to commit a collective suicide; the army’s intervention led to their neutralisation. Unfortunately, the hostages were executed,”

said El Watan a local newspaper. Well, the public will hear the truth about this at some point.

There is, of course, the war in Mali headlining over here in Europe. You can find a very useful summary of the players involved on the BBC News website. The French are involved in a situation, which, in my humble opinion, may land them in their own version of Afghanistan. Germans are discussing what kind of contribution they can make but there’s the fact that this is a super election year which will be kicked off today in Lower Saxonia. Chancellor Merkel will, obviously, not be getting into any military adventures this year if she can help it at all. President Obama does not show any inclination to get the US involved either. 

Neu ist, dass die USA nicht instinktiv zu einer Führungsrolle innerhalb einer solchen «Koalition der Willigen» drängen. Bereits im Libyen-Krieg hatten sie nach aussen hin den Franzosen den Vorrang gelassen. Die Amerikaner übernahmen damals aber, ohne dies an die grosse Glocke zu hängen, einen beträchtlichen Teil der Lufteinsätze und halfen den Europäern aus, als diesen die Munition ausging. Obama nannte dies «Führung von hinten», was ihm einigen Spott eintrug – aber um einen Führungsanspruch handelte es sich gleichwohl. Davon kann in Mali keine Rede mehr sein.

(It is new, that the US does not instinctively claim a leading role in such a “coalition of the willing”. In the Libya war they had already let the French have the leading role, at least outwardly. The Americans, however, have at that time without making any fuss about it taken over a considerable number of airstrikes and helped out when the Europeans were running out of ammunition. Obama called this “leading from behind” which caused some ridicule, but – nevertheless – included the will to lead. In Mali there is no mention of it. Translation by yours truly

When it comes to foreign politics, looking at it from our side of the pond, New Obama, is naturally a topic of interest. The sudden change in his handling of the Republican opposition does not go unnoticed:

After being widely criticised in his first four years for a lack of savvy during negotiations with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Obama has suddenly taken a much harder line. In debates over the so-called “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of last year, Obama’s team secured a deal widely seen as a victory. That tougher stance has also been matched by Obama staking out a strong position on forthcoming talks with the Republicans in Congress over raising the debt ceiling. Indeed, only days after Obama gave a speech on the issue marked by stern language the Republicans last week appeared to cave in and moved to extend the ceiling for another three months. (read the whole post here)

About time, I’d say.

Have you finished your coffee? Not yet? Well, there’s more for reading found in the old world:

Oil and the interests of Canada’s First Nations

Catholic Hospitals refuse Aid to Rape Victim (Germany has its own bible belt, methinks)

Boeing’s Dreamliner is grounded

and

The Swiss are fretting over what will happen to their banks.

I hope you’ll enjoy your Sunday Morning reading.

This is an Open Thread! Join in. What is important to you today?

The Watering Hole, Friday January 4, 2013; “ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR”

I know I’m not alone when it comes to having a deep and abiding concern that major factions in the United States are doggedly pursuing the imposition of a form of government which is classically defined (see: Robert Paxton) as “a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline,” i.e. Fascism. Since the advent of modern “conservative” thought and politics in this country, the slope of decline has been tilted downhill, and moreso than ever before beginning with the “election” of George W. Bush in 2000, followed by the electoral ascendency of the so-called Tea Party in 2010.

And now, as I ponder this notion of fascism slowly tightening its grip on our otherwise “We the people” form of a Constitutional Democratic Republic, for some reason or other I invariably begin to recall phrases written in, of all things, German. Like this one, for example, the words on a post-war sign at divided Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate; the sign read:

ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR.
(Attention, you are leaving the American Sector.)

Germany was, at the time, a country divided and ‘managed’, resp., by the victors in the Second World War, i.e. the US, France, Britain, and the USSR. German fascism had been terminated by the allies, and from the ashes of war a new and democratic nation was emerging in West Germany, one which lay alongside but still quite apart from the communist state — the Soviet sector — in the East. The city of Berlin was itself entirely within the boundaries of East Germany, but West Berlin (British, French, and American sectors) was on full display as a veritable island of democratic prosperity within the otherwise bleak totalitarian state.

Fascism, however, was dead. The allied victory assured it. Well, sort of . . .  save for an apparent embedded tendency of governments in locales all around the globe to gradually succumb to those power and greed-based interests which are invariably common to political “right wing” styles of governance, a reality from which the United States has, sadly and clearly, not been exempted.

In August, 2009, Sara Robinson posted an essay on Firedoglake entitled, FASCIST AMERICA: ARE WE THERE YET? In it she writes:

It’s so easy right now to look at the melee on the right and discount it as pure political theater of the most absurdly ridiculous kind. It’s a freaking puppet show. These people can’t be serious. Sure, they’re angry — but they’re also a minority, out of power and reduced to throwing tantrums. Grown-ups need to worry about them about as much as you’d worry about a furious five-year-old threatening to hold her breath until she turned blue.

Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger. These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the first steps toward becoming one. And they’re going to walk taller and louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country’s most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort to save their own places of profit and prestige.

We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.

Ms Robinson notes that she “relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world’s pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist.” Paxton authored, in 1998, a lengthy and very detailed essay that was published in The Journal of Modern History in which he very precisely defined fascism and described the conditions which predict and precurse the evolution of a fascist state. Robinson quotes Paxton and by so doing effectively summarizes his fundamental thesis:

Fascism only grows in the disturbed soil of a mature democracy in crisis. . . .

From . . . the Rapture-ready religious right to the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various gradients of racist groups, it’s easy to trace how American proto-fascism offered redemption from the upheavals of the 1960s by promising to restore the innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. This vision has been so thoroughly embraced that the entire Republican party now openly defines itself along these lines. At this late stage, it’s blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently addicted to the politics of fear and rage. Worse: it doesn’t have a moment’s shame about any of it. No apologies, to anyone. These same narrative threads have woven their way through every fascist movement in history.

I can find no argument to counter the very real prognosis that the Constitutional Democratic Republic, America, in which many around the world have found solace and hope for nearly 250 years is teetering on the brink — not the brink of today’s oft-cited “fiscal cliff,” but one which is far more serious, far more dangerous: the Fascist cliff. And once we fall, the chances of return to what ‘We the people’ have long considered to be reality will automatically disappear; our fate will be sealed. I propose that a sign be posted on the Fascist Cliff’s most visible edge, a sign that reads:

ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN JETZT den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR!

Attention: You Are Leaving NOW the American Sector!

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.  ~Sinclair Lewis, 1935

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. ~Sinclair Lewis, 1935

This is today’s open thread. Speak your mind!

The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 15th – Europe

A Storm is brewing over Europe in more than one sense…

There is the unsolved, so called debt crisis, which entangles Spain and Italy now and has, by all accounts all but devoured Greece already. 

The second one is a political storm. In France it has swept Sarkozy out of office, in the UK the Tories got to feel quite a blustery breeze. In Germany last weekend and the one before voters were giving Merkel’s austerity politics quite strong headwinds. Again, Greece is at the center of the disturbance. The last election brought a stiff breeze from the left, but some serious gusts from the right as well. The Captains of the coffin ship contemplate to test the waters again and that should bring a solid gale from the left and swipe them off board.

Then there’s the weather. It’s really gusty and nasty outside, so much for spring. Ugh.

No matter how it eventually ends, there is some turbulence ahead for sure.

This is our Open Thread. Talk about the Weather?

UPDATE JUST IN: GREECE TALKS BROKE UP – NEW ELECTIONS DUE.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 8th – Men in Kilts

On the last Sunday in April I was in Säckingen with the boys. They have this Festival, which translates into Medieval Phantastic Spectacle, or some such. Loads of men were wearing kilts there, but I whipped my head around when a saw a guy wearing nice nature colored tartans. Little did I know I’d see the bloke on stage shortly after and, boy, this was fun to watch and listen to. The video above is from the same festival a year ago.

Other than making music, they have a charity going on. See more here and here. As the boys and me are planning for a Scotland visit this summer, we know where to go.

I could have written about the North Carolina Amendment 1 vote tonight, but it depresses me. I could have written about Greece’s troubles, but the fact that they are considering yet another vote rather than listen what the People says, depresses me. I could have written about Chancellor Merkel’s arrogance in the face of European voters’ will, but that depresses me as well. So I decided on music and men in kilts.

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy and weigh in.

By Jove!

Reuters:

 

(Reuters) – The leaders of France and Germany scrambled on Tuesday to limit damage after Prime Minister George Papandreou decided to let Greeks vote on a bailout package — a move that stunned markets and threw Greece’s euro zone membership into question.

European politicians complained Athens was trying to wriggle out of the 130 billion-euro rescue deal agreed at a summit only last week, concerned not so much about the fate of Greece as the possibly dire consequences for the entire currency union of the referendum. (read all)

BIG OUCH!!!

Check for Market Updates here.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, September 20th – Outside..

.. the US there’s politics, too.

Germany: Chancellor Merkel’s coalition Government is in hot water. The junior partner FDP, a strictly neoliberal party, has received the fifth and, if you ask me, final blow at last Sunday’s elections in Berlin, when they were down to 1.8% of votes. This bodes ill for the ruling coalition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel dislikes putting her foot down to solve government disputes. She associates that form of exercising authority with ill-tempered men who use arrogance to make up for their lack of competence. And she thinks people who keep banging their fist on the table end up getting ignored in the long run. (read more)

I beg to differ with some of the article, however. The SPD (Social Democrats) would be ill advised to enter a coalition government in times of really unpleasant decisions about the future of the Euro. They’ll tolerate a minority rule and ask for new elections, is my guess.

Italy: S&P has now downgraded Italy. Italy, is one of the more important economies in Europe, so I expect the stock markets to go down significantly again today. (Update: With markets you never kow. The indices are up right now. Markets always know best. What do I know? 🙄 )

S&P’s downgraded its unsolicited ratings on Italy to A/A-1 from A+/A-1+ and kept its outlook on negative, sending the euro more than half a cent lower against the dollar.

The agency, which put Italy on review for downgrade in May, said that the outlook for growth was worsening and there was little sign that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s fractious center-right government could respond effectively. (read more)

But Berlusconi is dealing with more pressing problems:

The conversations, wire-tapped as part of a probe into an alleged prostitution ring surrounding Berlusconi, also suggested for the first time that he gave money to the women he allegedly slept with, contradicting his repeated insistence that he never paid for sex, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.

The taped conversations revealed in extraordinary detail how parties involving dozens of young starlets and escort girls were organised for the Italian PM by a 36-year-old middleman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, a convicted cocaine dealer. (read more)

United Kingdom: Blair’s back, or did he ever go away? Cameron is taking advice from Tony Blair? Well here’s an expert. Watch out, you may end up with another war on your hands! The question is, how much are they paying for his consulting prowess? He likes the cash.

David Cameron is secretly receiving political advice on foreign affairs from Tony Blair – most recently on how to resolve the international deadlock over Palestinian statehood, The Independent has learnt.

Mr Cameron has buried party political loyalties and privately invited the former Labour Prime Minister to Chequers to discuss the impasse, according to Foreign Office sources. (read more)

Hey Tony, there’s a warm cell in The Hague waiting for you (I hope)!

This is our Open Thread. This is my part of the world. What’s up in yours?

Afghanistan is Lost!

source:www.defense.gov

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

[…]

Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”

[…]

On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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Across the Pond – What we are up to over here.

This post is far too late for morning coffee, but a nice afternoon tea maybe?

What is going on over here in Europe? Not really much, politically, most parliaments are in recess and backbenchers crowd to the microphones to get their 15 minutes until business as usual in politics resumes again. So both major news are not from politics, but from the Love Parade in Germany and, what else, BP.

Germans are looking in horror at reports of the stampede that happened during yesterday’s Love Parade in Essen.

Der Spiegel: (for those who rather not torment themselves with details, I copied only the mere facts below, so please read on at your own discretion)

By early afternoon, the techno party was already “desperately overcrowded,” Tim says. “The only entrance was through the tunnel, there was no other way to get to the site.” At the beginning, he said, the shoving “was almost fun.” Everyone was singing and chanting together, it was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere,” he reports. “That’s the point of the Love Parade, isn’t it?”

But then, things began to get more aggressive. “It was tight, hot, unbearable. Everyone wanted to get to the party, or just out of the crowd.” Some tried to find their own way out, slithering up poles or climbing a narrow staircase out of the crowd. Dehydrated, exhausted partiers where handed out over the heads of the masses. Some of those trying to climb out fell back into the crowd. When that happened, say police, mass panic broke out. (read more)

The Love Parade is the biggest techno party worldwide, the Zurich Street Parade, scheduled for August 14th, is competing for the title of the biggest techno event. There are concerns about the safety of the partygoers here, too. Increased of course by yesterday’s events. The Love Parade has been cancelled for good after the tragedy. It makes me unspeakably sad to think about all those young people who were setting out for a night of fun and had to witness or even get hurt or died in that horror.

Other headlines include the F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim and Ferrari (spoiler alert), Franck Ribéry’s return to Munich after the dismal French World Cup adventure and the hooker scandal and Bayreuth greets the Rich, the Powerful and the Ugly for their annual Wagner opera festival. I would love to have tickets for Jonas Kaufmann‘s debut in Bayreuth, but the great unwashed must stand in line, or better not show their faces in any case.

The BBC has today’s story for the UK:

BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward has been negotiating the terms of his exit, with a formal announcement likely within 24 hours, the BBC has learned.

Mr Hayward has been widely criticised over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it was likely he would be replaced by his US colleague Bob Dudley, now in charge of the clean-up operation. (read more)

Now, what does “negotiate” mean? Huh? We’re not talking golden parachutes, are we? What? A measly £ 10 millions ($ 15 million) package? Poor sod.

Hayward, 52, is today locked in meetings with the rest of the BP board about the final details of his financial leaving package, but he is expected to go under basic contractual terms. That means a one year’s £1m pay package but a giant pension pot of over £10m, capable of paying out more than half a million pounds a year from the formal retirement age of 60. (read more)

And, while we are talking about BP, the environment comes to mind. The Independent reports on the British water industry and what privatization means really:

Ofwat, the water industry watchdog, faces calls for it to be overhauled amid accusations that it is not doing enough to remedy leaking drinking water while privatised water companies enjoy soaring profits and consumers face high bills (read more)

So, enjoy your reading and have a nice Sunday all of you!

Across the Pond: G20, Debt and Austerity

While Europe is back in austerity mode, the US are more wary. Will economic recovery be hindered or helped by rolling back public expenses?

The G20 meeting in Toronto (Muskoka) is showing signs of disagreement, with Merkel on one side of the spectrum and Obama on the other.

Der Spiegel (International)

The G-20 talks in Canada this weekend are to focus on shoring up the global economy but German commentators are not expecting much in the way of agreement. Ahead of the summit Germany and the US have been trading barbs about whether the best strategy is to save or spend.

A trans-Atlantic tiff has been brewing ahead of this weekend’s G-8 and G-20 summits as the US and Europe disagree on how to best ensure recovery from the global economic crisis. (read more)

The Independent has its own take on the new budget, dubbed bloodbath budget and mustered Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz as a witness for their cause.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prizewinner who predicted the global crisis, delivers his verdict on the Chancellor’s first Budget and tells Paul Vallely it will take the UK deeper into recession and hit millions – the poorest – badly (read more)

The Guardian gives voice to the disappointment of LibDem voters.

Nick Clegg is suffering a fierce public backlash over the coalition’s VAT rise, with almost half of Liberal Democrat supporters saying the tax U-turn makes them more likely to desert the party.

A YouGov/Brand Democracy survey, which will alarm already restive Lib Dem MPs, shows 48% of those who voted Lib Dem at the election are now less inclined to back them again as a direct result of the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20%.(read more)

The Daily Mail has other concerns and imho has it totally wrong:

British shoppers are to be banned from buying eggs by the dozen under new regulations approved by the European Parliament.

For the first time, eggs and other products such as oranges and bread rolls will be sold by weight instead of by the number contained in a packet.

Until now, Britain has been exempt from EU regulations that forbid the selling of goods by number. But last week MEPs voted to end Britain’s deal despite objections from UK members. (read more)

I still shop in Germany and I still buy eggs by the number, they give the weight of the eggs, however. So this is bs and serves only to highlight what happens if journalists go for the sensation instead the truth. But the mail is rather more into following Victoria Beckhams different hairstyles.

What happened to The Sunday Times ? Well,they’ve decided to have us pay for their content and are now in the process of getting us to sign up for trial versions. I’m not going along, so no more Times here.

Boring as it may get for you, when it comes to politics, the English and the Germans are out of it today. We are facing an epic battle, if you believe the tabloids, this afternoon at 4 p.m.

July 11th all will be said and done and football will take a backseat yet again.

Across the Pond: Austerity, Losers and Football

French Team Plotting (source:l'équipe)

In the United Kingdom there are only two newsworthy items today. One is the return to fiscal austerity of the new government:

Public sector workers face cuts in their pay and job prospects worse than anything they have seen for a generation as George Osborne tries to cut spending in the way that Margaret Thatcher did – but in half the time. (read more)

The list of cruelties in this “bloodbath budget” is impressive (discussion can be found here). I’m, for my part, shudder at the implications, Britain will come to an economic standstill IMHO.

The second is: Football. At least until this afternoon. Should you do business with the UK, hurry up. After 3 p.m., if you are really lucky, a polite utterance of incomprehension will be all you get. Don’t try it after 6 p.m. either, they’ll be eithere grieving or celebrating collectively.

In Germany you have time until 8.30 p.m. and you will encounter similar reactions.

The football mania is probably a welcome relief for some in Germany who are losing their match in the politics business:

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, head of Chancellor Merkel’s junior coalition partner the Free Democrats, is facing mounting criticism from his party. Falling poll numbers and limited political leverage have led many to believe it is time for a change at the top.

One can be forgiven for having forgotten, but Germany’s foreign minister still does exist. (read more)

The current coalition is down to 35% approval and won’t last the whole four years, if you ask me.

France is already grieving collectively. Their team has managed to go out of the World Cup in utter disgrace and it starts to have consequences:

PARIS – Sponsors are starting to distance themselves from France’s scandal-hit soccer team.

Credit Agricole said on Monday it had cancelled its television campaign with the team, which on Sunday boycotted a training session in support of expelled striker Nicolas Anelka.

“We are suspending our advertising campaign on insurance products that features the French team,” a spokeswoman for the French bank said.

The campaign was initially slated to end on June 25.

They only got in on a foul and I don’t believe the Irish, who have been cheated out of participating, would have dared to behave like this.

The Italians? Don’t get me started on them. Luckily, this time the unspeakable Umberto Rossi of the fascist Lega Nord, insinuated bribery himself:

Federal Reforms Minister Bossi reportedly said two to three Slovak players would surface in the Italian league next season, responding to a question about which team would win.

They are the worst divers ever and I adamantly refuse to recognize a penalty for them unless the player is bleeding profusely. Everything else is a dive!

So what is really going on in Europe these days? Well, Football! Never mind the Euro is still in trouble, we can take care of that after July 11th.

Results and yet ..

Last week I closely followed four stories. None of the results were in any way really pleasing. Except maybe for the drubbing Merkel and more important Westerwelle received, but that’s just me.

Gulf of Mexico Oil

The Oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico cannot be stopped.

The dome that was supposed to funnel the oil from the well into ships on the surface has failed. BP and everybody else are at a loss with what can be done about it.  I submitted the above link to reddit and the discussion there starts with a toungue in cheek remark to “nuke it” and results in some serious discussion of whether this was possible. Yes folks, the situation is that desperate.

UK elections gave us a result, but no government.

Forget about the dire warnings of “senior bankers” that a government pact rather be quick, but from what I see there is no real compatibility amongst the prospective partners of a coalition to lead to a lasting government. Electoral reform is necessary, but how much will come out of it, if the parties you can choose out of still suck?

The elections in Germany’s biggest Bundesland (state) ends in  a tie and gets the German government in a fix.

That’s wat Angela Merkel needed most. Instead of wiping the sweat of  a heroic rescue mission from her brow (see below) she returns to Berlin as a sad loser. By her own making. Or rather, by her own government, cause her junior partner helped this defeat along a goodish bit. Germany being the biggest still functional economy in Europe, this will have an impact.

The EU agreed on an financial umbrella for debt stricken members, which amounts to € 750 bn (almost $ 1 trillion) .

Markets are upbeat about that. Up somewhere between 4% and almost 7%  today. Now what is it really? The secure feeling that the Euro and with it European economies are really more stable now, or the prospect of another trillion dollars in liquidity on their way right from European taxpayers pockets  into the assets lists of international banks?

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Across The Pond: Elections, Euros, Emotions

This is going to be a long weekend for Angela Merkel. First of all she and her fellow European leaders had to get the Eurozone under some kind of control until Asian stock markets open late tonight, our time.Their solution: Add another € 70 bn to defend the Euro, and the Germans are already supposed to sign the fattest check in history:

EU leaders have agreed a financial defence plan in an attempt to protect the eurozone countries from speculative attacks in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said today that an “intervention unit” designed to preserve financial stability in the 16 eurozone countries would be in place by Monday when the markets reopen. (read more)

The Euro-Crisis can be followed at nakedcapitalism, they have a couple of interesting posts on that.

Secondly, she is facing the voters’ wrath in North Rine Westphalia the biggest of Germany’s states, where state elections will not be going good for her, that much is certain.

The UK has been so immersed in political fever that another highly significant election has gone almost unnoticed. When Germans go to the polls in state elections today, at stake will be not only the future of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition in Berlin, but also the direction of Europe’s biggest economy. (read more)

THE voters in Düsseldorf’s central square were waiting patiently in the rain for Angela Merkel to appear last Friday when the loudspeakers suddenly announced that she was too busy dealing with Greece’s financial crisis to join them.

Their spirits already dampened, many were clearly in a mood to punish the chancellor for her contribution of more than £19 billion to the Greek bailout. They had gathered to hear Merkel make her pitch for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in today’s state election in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s industrial powerhouse with a population of 18m. (read more)

A detailed article on the state election can be found at the International section of Der Spiegel.

But it’s not a good day for Gordon Brown either, he has lost his elections already and will lose his post, because even if the Liberal democrats should opt for supporting Labour, I very much doubt they will do it if  Brown’s at the helm.

And opt for Labour they still could, because the Tories are adamant when it comes to electoral reform. Big NO.

Nick Clegg was urged by senior figures in his party last night to back a “traffic light coalition” with Labour, Green and smaller parties amid signs that David Cameron’s proposed deal to the Liberal Democrats has triggered an angry backlash among Tory and Lib Dem MPs.

The Lib Dem and Conservative leaders met last night for “constructive” face-to-face talks to try to reach a deal before markets open tomorrow morning. Earier, after a crucial meeting with his party in Westminster to gauge reaction to a Lib-Con coalition, Mr Clegg addressed a 1,000-strong crowd protesting in favour of electoral reform to insist that proportional representation was still key to the talks. (read more)

I am not really surprised that the “senior bankers” are already putting pressure on the parties:

FEARS of a market slump mounted this weekend after British politicians failed to form a government and senior bankers warned that the eurozone crisis might cause bank lending to seize up. (read more)

This is blatant blackmail. The banks don’t want electoral reform, they like the status quo just fine. Electoral reform would only serve to give the great unwashed more say, and we can’t have that, can we?

And finally, here’s the New Mr Switzerland, what an emotional moment, which I didn’t watch and will never regret not having watched.

Have a good Sunday and especially a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. I’ll head back now to my boys and spend a little quality time with my family.

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