Picture of the Day: Castor II

The Castor transport has reached it’s destination.

The overwhelming majority of protesters remained peaceful, which in itself is surprising, given the official contempt for their cause. Since the first CASTOR rolled in 1995 all they got was more police in full riot gear, but noone listened to their just complaints. The Gorleben storage site is labeled temporary, that is a lie. As of yet there are not even serious attempts at finding a final storage place, I can’t blame the residents of the area for their wrath.

The State of Lower Saxony has another site, which is already in deep trouble.


The Watering Hole, November 29 – The Next Step

I think we have had the possibility of living in democracies. What does it mean? It means places where the privileged are not the one to make the decisions, but that the underprivileged are going to rise to a status where they are normal human beings and human citizens with their freedoms and their rights. Stéphane Hessel

I am following the actions of the world wide Occupy Movement as much as I can. Their activism is a necessary and valuable contribution to spotlight  the inequality that is rampant in most industrialized countries. An inequality which is, by all standards, a huge threat for Democracy itself.

Increasingly there are voices that want to take things one step further. How to introduce the ideas and actions of a movement into the political process in order to bring about the necessary legislation to reinstitute the rule by the people as opposed to the rule of a chosen few?

Well, if you want to go places, you have to define the place to go. The Occupy movement is a rather amorphous entity. Students are protesting fees, OWS is protesting the power of Wall Street and the lack of regulation, OccupyParadeplatz in Zurich is voicing a general discomfort with things as they are, but can’t bring themselves to go for any kind of specific political demands.

So what exactly needs to be done? Can we change the legislation through existing political channels? Who could we support? How do we avoid being sucked into the machinery of a totally corrupted political class? Do we have to run for office ourselves? What would our platform be? What’s the starting point?

Stéphane Hessel  in the interview quoted above has called for the youth to voice their outrage. They are doing it. But he calls for political action, too. How can we help ?

Tell me in the comments section.

This is our open thread, let us know your thoughts on this and don’t hesitate to comment, if you have other things on your mind.

Picture of The Day – Queue

Women queueing to vote in Egypt

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

The writing on the wall says “We build Egypt together” They had to act twice, once to get rid of Mubarak and now again, when the military tried to introduce their concept of Democracy. I am afraid their struggle is not over yet. Democracy is hard to come by, let’s not ours go to waste.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday November, 22 – We Decide

Ht: Shayne via twitter @Zoocritter

My first reaction: I’d not buy from him until…well, hell freezes over.

We can influence what happens, we are not powerless. We still have our purchasing power. Not that there is very much left of it, we can still decide what we buy and who we buy from. Do we really want to give our money to corporations who lay off workers while still making huge, even record profits? I don’t. We can read the economy pages of our local newspapers and find out who’s hiring, who’s firing and whenever given the choice, we can support hiring businesses. We can reconsider our needs. Shutting down the TV set brings us a huge step nearer to that. Just let’s tune out the constant brainwash and reassess our needs. We can make Black Friday a huge failure for the retail corporations! By just staying at home. They’ll say that’ll cost more jobs! But remember, they are firing for profit anyway and they have done so for a very long time.

This is our open thread- Open Up!

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 15 – The Battle of Morgarten

In 1315 the Morgarten Battle took place close to the Aegeri Lake in Switzerland. Every year on the day of the Battle November 15th, a shooting competition takes place in the fields there. This is where I spent today’s morning. I scored 34 out of 50 shooting a rifle at 300 yds, 51 out of 60, shooting a Pistol at 50 yards. Currently I eat  Zuger Kirschtorte which is soaked full of Cherry schnapps. I’m fine. Or was. Now I read about the Occupy Wall Street raid and my mood sinks in a hurry.

This is our Open Thread. Ups and/or Downs? How is your day?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, November 8 – Personhood

Image source: Flickr Creative Commons user zieak

I am not talking about the abominable plans in Mississippi to turn a fertilized egg into a person legally. I have no intention to grace this irrationality with a post. I am talking about “The Economy” and “The Markets”. Both are nomina depicting a number of activities but are treated like they were personalities.

The Economy, that’s what we do. That’s the system or range of economic activity in a country, region, or community. We do it by producing goods, by providing services, by consuming. You name it. It is not a person, it is the totality of economic interaction done by all of us. As this is done by all of us, we have as a society or community the right and the duty to set the rules how this interaction should be, in order to be most profitable for all of us.

The Economy is not a person which is empowered to set the rules unless we make it that way, or rather let it happen. We do that currently.

The Markets are defined ranging from a) A public gathering to sell and buy merchandise, to b) A specific geographical area where certain merchandise or good are being sold to or bought from, to most globally c) The entire enterprise of buying and selling commodities and securities. If this were a person I’d recommend psychiatric evaluation for dissociative disorder.

The Markets are an integral part of the greater entity The Economy. The Economy is what WE do, The Markets is what WE do inside The Economy. WE decide how we want to do it. It is time we took our lives and our society back into our own hands and start to send representatives into our parliaments who do OUR bidding not the bidding of their shill friends Economy and Markets.

For behind the shill we find the real friends who perfectly understand how to use the concept of The Economy and The Markets as godlike ruling force against us. We all know who they are on your side of the Atlantic and on ours. 

This is our open thread. A public gathering to offer and accept your comments and a lively discussion. Get going.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday November 1, 2011 – The Sandoz Spill

Twenty-five years after a fire caused a major chemical spill near Basel, questions are still being raised about how much pollution remains at the blaze site.

Basel Country environment officials say there is no need for action, a claim contested by a chemicals site expert.

In the early hours of November 1, 1986, fire broke out at a warehouse belonging to chemicals company Sandoz at the Schweizerhalle industrial area just outside Basel. Around 1,351 tonnes of pesticides and agrochemicals went up in flames.

The accident turned the River Rhine red, killed thousands of fish and sent acrid smoke over the city. It was one of Europe’s worst environmental disasters and made world news. (read full story)

Recently authorities have decided that no further clean-up was necessary. There are only a few hundred kilos of Oxadixyl left in the ground. It is said to  be a non-hazardous substance. The fish beg to differ.

This is our Open Thread. Open Up!

The Watering Hole: Tuesday October 25th – Switzerland Voted

Two small centre parties – the Conservative Democrats and the Liberal Greens – are the winners of Sunday’s parliamentary polls ending years of increasing polarisation.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party and the centre-left Greens suffered the biggest losses in the House of Representatives compared with the 2007 vote. The two main centre-right parties also saw their support slip, while the centre-left Social Democrats registered a slight gain. (read more)

Obviously the Swiss were fed up with the fear mongering and the hate politics. I feel very sorry for the Greens. They are the ones who should have profited from the increased interest in environmental issues in Switzerland, but the Green Liberal Party, which is basically promising to build a greener capitalism, so everybody can keep their Porsche Cayennes, outstaged them. The SVP (Swiss People’s (Tea-) Party) just got their due. Good riddance to some of their MP’s.

Here’s Swissinfo’s comments page, so you can get a glimpse into the Swiss Psyche. See any similarities?

This is our open thread, so open up!

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? :roll: )

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?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, September 13 – Republican Election Machine

The Debate is over. Nothing new, except for Ron Paul being even more callous than I thought possible. Isn’t he a doctor by profession? Wasn’t there a thing called the hypocratic oath? (ht: peteIngh)

This is our Open Thread. Give us your take on yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s news.

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Matt Davies
CTNews

Heavy Flooding Forecast for Harrisburg PA. As in “Three Mile Island” Harrisburg?

Flooding in 1972 from Hurricane "Agnes" (source: United States Coastguard)

Rampaging rivers, rock slides, torrents of rain and mass evacuations. The generation that grew up on tales of eastern Pennsylvania’s Agnes catastrophe of 1972 is getting its own story now, with rain-weary cities and towns along the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers hunkered down in anticipation of record-threatening crests.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee led to what one AccuWeather meteorologist called a “fire hose” of tropical downpours falling on land and water already overcharged by August’s record soaking. (read more)

This scares me quite a bit. I wonder what the Three Mile Island safety measures are for flooding. They are not worried, however. It is not as if the rains will stop any time soon. La Nina conditions are forecast, which will make extreme weather conditions more likely and there is TS Maria out there, which is about to come up on a very similar track as Irene did.

Stay safe and monitor what is going on closely, all you who are close to the area.

Monetary Warfare – Switzerland pegs its currency to the Euro

In a surprise move the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has fixed the exchange rate to the Euro. They won’t suffer it to fall below CHF 1.20 anymore. There is no limit to currency purchases to make this happen, the SNB says.

Right wing billionaire and godfather of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) Blocher declared the currency situation a “war” that needs to be won now by the SNB. Well, his buddies won’t be any worse off…

I am not so sure if it can be won. Swiss real GDP is some126 bn. The Eurozone’s combined GDP is about 12 trillion.  There are 77 bn Swiss Francs out there, but 4.7 trillion Euros. (M1)

You might as well try and empty the Zurich Lake with a teaspoon.

The Watering Hole. September 6th, Arctic Oil Sandwich

The melting of Polar Ice makes the Arctic much more accessible than it used to be and with accessibility comes the greed for oil. Some 30% of undiscovered gas reserves and 13% of undiscovered oil are thought to be under the arctic ice. Now the race has begun. The risk, however, is huge:

Any serious oil spill in the ice of the Arctic, the “new frontier” for oil exploration, is likely to be an uncontrollable environmental disaster despoiling vast areas of the world’s most untouched ecosystem, one of the world’s leading polar scientists has told The Independent.

Oil from an undersea leak will not only be very hard to deal with in Arctic conditions, it will interact with the surface sea ice and become absorbed in it, and will be transported by it for as much as 1,000 miles across the ocean, according to Peter Wadhams, Professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge. (read more)

The exploitation of oil reserves has become more and more frantic. Voices calling for getting renewable energy off the ground were ridiculed when oil was relatively easy to be had, now because those voices went unheard we do not have an alternative at the ready.

This is our Open Thread. Spill! Your thoughts on this and anything else are most welcome.

The Watering Hole: August 30th – Failing to prepare…

… is preparing to fail.

Noone knows yet for sure who is going to run against President Obama in the next elections, but the field of contenders seems to be solidifying. Maybe Sarah Palin will try and have a go for it after all, I highly doubt it but with her you never know, but I seriously cannot see any viable contender coming in besides the ones that are already campaigning. Any Republican politician (especially a young one) worth his salt will be discouraged by the general drift to the right fringe the Republican Party is experiencing now, due to tea party activism. Anybody electable by moderates or even right leaning democrats would face defeat in the primaries and just add this defeat to his or her credentials. Why not wait it out for another four years? At least that’s what I would consider doing. Nevermind anyway, because the Tea Party has produced a couple of fringe pushover candidates that should be easily beat by Obama, even if he is right now at a dismally low approval rate.

But is it highly dangerous to underestimate the probability that one of the Republican fringe candidates could be winning the presidency. Frank Rich from the New York Times could tell you this. In February 2000 he wrote:

Why would Mr. Bush’s campaign move so far to the right? It’s the same thinking — that you can pander to a right-wing base and hope centrist voters suffer amnesia on Election Day — that led the G.O.P. to defeats not only in ’96 but in ’98. (…)But Democrats who are worrying about the prospect of a race against Mr. McCain shouldn’t lose sleep yet. The same G.O.P. minds that blew it in ’96 and ’98 are doing everything possible to shore up Mr. Bush.

In the end Democrats didn’t need to worry about John McCain as a candidate, but got Boy George instead. A pushover, if there ever was one, for someone of Al Gore’s political clout.

Now, after 9/11 and two devastating wars, after the incredible destruction of New Orleans by Katrina, after the economic crisis of 2008, the meltdown of American society, still, we are not taking what is going on seriously. The Washington Post reports, still talking about the primaries, of course:

A Perry victory would cement the Republican Party’s shift away from Bush’s approach to a more libertarian, anti-government GOP. This is cause for worry among some in the party, particularly those with ties to Bush.

While not addressing Perry specifically, Mark McKinnon, who was a top aide in both of Bush’s presidential campaigns, cautioned that his party would have trouble winning if it moved too far right.

Really?

The Free Republic says it out loud. Obama is the “Accidental President”

The famous Occam’s razor principle states that the simplest explanation is the most plausible one. Applying it to dispel the fog of propaganda, it becomes glaringly obvious that Obama is an accidental president, a lazy and indecisive incompetent devoid of any ability or desire to perform the job to which he was elected by a gullible majority, who loves the perks but hates the duties of his office; who loves to play but hates to work. Have a good look at the man occupying the White House: what you see is what you get. The Emperor has no clothes.

And, about people like you and me..

The smart set living in an echo-chamber that reinforces their conventional wisdom have eagerly embraced this article of faith because in their world to question Obama’s ability is to commit the deadly sin of racism.

..see, racism argument nicely defused. Hey, here’s an argument even that Americans are definitely NOT racist:

Ironically, proving America is completely the opposite of the evil racist country they relentlessly accuse her of being, progressives used America’s goodness, guilt and sense of fair play against her. In their quest to destroy America as we know it, progressives borrowed a brilliant scheme from Greek mythology. They offered America a modern day Trojan Horse, a beautifully crafted golden shiny new black man as a presidential candidate. Democrat Joe Biden lorded Obama as the first clean and articulate African American candidate. Democrat Harry Reid said Obama only uses a black dialect when he wants.

I spare you more of this blatant passive aggressive racism.

The point I am trying to make is: There are a great many Americans out there, who were convinced a black man in the White House would never happen. They relied on a silent majority and wouldn’t go out to vote last time. On the other hand progressive and moderate voters were fired up and very enthusiastic of getting rid of the dismal Bush years and were in fact voting in higher numbers than usual, count in the Latino and the African American vote, as well. Now the pendulum is about to swing back. The historical mistake of electing Obama needs to be corrected and, count on it, the right wing voters will be out in droves. Meanwhile on our side the disenchantment works its destructive ways. People will stay at home, there is no enthusiasm. And it is, of course, all Obama’s fault. Had he only!..Why hasn’t he?..Didn’t he promise?..

Good thing we can rely on the silent majority and need not go out to vote, because Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry in the White House won’t ever happen.

Well, if progressive and moderate voters are planning on relying on others and indulge in self-pity, pouting and sulking, your next President may well be Rick Perry or, Republicans can make history, too, Michelle Bachman.

This is our open thread, don’t hesitate to correct me or tell me “What do you know?” or just chat about anything else, that’s on your mind. 

The Watering Hole: August 23rd – A short tale of two wars

War I fought to rid the world of a dictator (or so they said):

Deaths of military coalition forces: 4’792
Deaths of civilians due to coalition action: 100’000 est.

Cost: USD 792’313’100’000 and counting

War II fought to rid the world of a dictator

Deaths of military coalition forces: 1 (British Airman killed in a traffic accident in Italy)
Deaths of civilians due to coalition action: 64 – 90 casualties, but it is still an estimate.

Cost USD 896’000’000 est.

Don’t get me wrong here. I do not approve of war. But I do not approve of dictators either and my home country has been rid of the worst in 1945. It wouldn’t have been possible without using military force. But you can get rid of them in a smart way by supporting a people in the uprising, or you can go about it the dumb way by just going in with out a first, let alone a second thought.

This is our daily Open Thread. Just add your thoughts.

The Watering Hole: August 16, Tuesday. Jerusalem Straw Poll ca. 30 A.D.

I am totally dumbfounded about the very unlikeliness of the field of Republican front runners. It doesn’t seem to me there will be any more serious contenders this year. Wildcard Palin will not enter, Bachmann will opt out early and we will face the prospect of another “Texan” in the White House, with Romney as a sidekick eventually. I’m serious. All depends on the left and liberals to bury the hatchet with Obama and get fired up. I perfectly recall that election when the highly intellectual and experienced  Vice President Gore encountered the pushover silly boy from Texas. Nuff said.

This is our Open Thread. We’re open all day! 

The Watering Hole: Friday August 5 – Home Made Reactor

Don’t tell us we Europeans are not imaginative problem solvers:

(Reuters) – A Swedish man was arrested after he tried to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen and documented his efforts on the Internet, authorities and the man said Thursday.

And we’re not shy to use leading edge technology, as well. :lol:

This brings me to one of my favourite “are-you-kidding?-websites”

 

Ok I feel a little silly today. And tired of Gloom and Doom.

This is our Open Thread, I’m out of ideas. Can you mend it?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday August 2nd – Where were you?

Listen again. It seems you have forgotten.

He said it wasn’t going to be easy. He said he needed you to help him bring about the change you voted him into office for. Americans where were you these last three years? Nagging about him not handing you the change you have envisioned on a silver platter? Weren’t you Monday morning quarterbacking decisions he had to make, because there was no support at all from you for any other way?  Didn’t you stand at the sideline when the so called Tea Party took over the public discourse and turned your Congress into a blackmailing outfit? You need to take your country back, for you are the majority, but you can’t stay out of the political struggle any minute longer. The Tea Party cannot and will not be contained, because they don’t accept that they are chosen by the people, they think they are answering the call of some higher power. They do not function the way politicians do. They, frankly, don’t care about your country. They don’t care about the human beings who make up you the People. All they care about is power and they know how to wield it. But in Democracy you the People are  the supreme power. No Deity, no President, no Congressman, no Senator. You are the supreme power. So live up to your responsibility already and fight back. The streets are just outside your front door. I refuse to believe it is too late.

Elsewhere: The people of Hama face tanks and machine guns to try and take back their country!

This is our open thread. Come on!

Some links to what Europe writes:

Der Spiegel
The Economist
The Guardian
The Independent

The Watering Hole: Tuesday July 26 – Twenty-Seven

Amy Winehouse was one of the most talented singers of recent times and definitely one of my very favourites. On Saturday sadly she passed away aged 27. As did, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin before her, at the same age. All hugely troubled and immensely talented.

This is our Open Thread. Just add your thoughts.