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14 January 2011 @ 09:09 am
Danish PM in the dock, Euro, Brazil Storms, Brisbane, Trenberth, Assange, Iran Slaphead  
Court Okays Lisbon Treaty suit
The prime minister can be sued on allegations of violating the Constitution.
The Danish Supreme Court has given its consent to a group of Danes to sue the prime minister, alleging that he violated the Constitution by allowing Parliament to ratify the EU's Lisbon Treaty without holding a referendum.
The hearing in the Supreme Court came as an appeal against an earlier High Court ruling, which refused to hear the case. The High Court accepted the contention by the prime and foreign ministers that the plaintiff group of 28 citizens did not have particular legal interest in the case.
The Supreme Court says on its home page that the appellants do have a particular legal interest in a the case, that the lower court verdict has been overturned and that the issue is sent back to the High Court to be heard. /here

Has the ECB shot itself in the foot by supporting Portugal?
Yesterday's eagerly watched Portuguese bond auction went as well as could be expected, but there is an important question to be asked over how smart it is for the European Central Bank to continue to artificially depress bond yields through its bond buyback programme.
[...] Marcus Ashworth, head of equity sales at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, formerly Execution Noble, pointed out in a note to clients this morning that the ECB is estimated to have bought €1bn to €1.5bn of peripheral European bonds in the last few days, meaning they could have piled heavily into the Portuguese auction. /full story

Opposition to the Euro Grows in Germany
[...] Better Off with the Mark
Unnerved by shaky, debt-ridden countries and bailout packages worth billions, the majority of Germans want the mark back. In a survey conducted in early December by the polling firm Infratest dimap, 57 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that Germany would have been better off keeping the mark than introducing the euro. Germans, it seems, are gripped once again by their historic fear of inflation: According to the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen polling institute, 82 percent of the population is worried about the stability of their currency.
Now, a network of euro critics is capitalizing on this atmosphere. A group consisting of an aging playwright, a recalcitrant professor, a frustrated member of parliament with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), the grandson of a former chancellor and a former top manager have decided they don't want the euro anymore -- at least not the way it is now. They are still only united by little more than a common issue, but it wouldn't be the first loose association of individuals that ended up becoming a political party. /here

476 500+ die in Brazil slides, survivors relate horrors (AP)
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil – The power was out, but lightning flashes illuminated the horror as villagers watched neighbors' homes vanish under a wall of mud and water, turning neighborhoods into graveyards. Survivors dug at the earth barehanded Thursday, but all they found were bodies.
It was a scene of muddy destruction in mountain towns north of Rio, where at least 476 people were killed when torrential rains unleashed mudslides in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, burying people alive as they slept. Officials would not venture guesses on how many people were missing — but fears were high that the death toll could sharply rise. /more

Roger Pielke, Jr. Brisbane Floods in Historical Context (via GWPF)

The graph above shows flood peaks in Brisbane from 1841 to 2011.  The data comes from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, which published this chart in November 2010. I added the red bar showing the peak of the current flood at the same location -- at about 4.5 m -- found at this site at the Bureau of Meteorology. /more

Kevin Trenberth's weird opinions about the climate (Motl)
Anthony Watts' blog reprints the full text of Kevin Trenberth's preprint (PDF, JPG) that will be published by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The first thing I have to say is simply:
Wow.
The scientific portion of the letter is superficial and plagued by elementary logical fallacies, as we will analyze in some detail. But when it comes to the political substance of the preprint, it is powerful, indeed. Trenberth spends much of the time by explaining conspiracy theories about the deniers' influence on the media; he uses the term "denier" six times in the preprint.
I can't believe he really believes those conspiracy theories given the fact that the percentage of skeptics among the journalists is significantly lower than the percentage of skeptics in the AMS where he wants his very preprint to be published. /more

WikiLeaks: Julian Assange 'faces execution or Guantánamo detention'
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could be at "real risk" of the death penalty or detention in Guantánamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault, his lawyers claim.
In a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director of public prosecutions to extradite him, released today, Assange's legal team argue that there is a similar likelihood that the US would subsequently seek his extradition "and/or illegal rendition", "where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantánamo Bay or elsewhere".
"Indeed, if Mr Assange were rendered to the USA, without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty. It is well known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated outright, that Mr Assange should be executed."
The 35-page skeleton argument was released by Mark Stephens, Assange's lawyer, following a brief review hearing this morning at Belmarsh magistrates court. /more

I suggested a while back that Assange would be short sighted if he didn't have some dirt in reserve as a bargaining chip in the event he was arrested. Read on -
Julian Assange claims to have Rupert Murdoch 'insurance files'
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, claimed today he was in possession of "insurance" files on Rupert Murdoch and his global media company, News Corporation.
Assange also claimed that WikiLeaks holds more than 500 confidential US diplomatic cables on one broadcasting organisation.
Speaking to journalist John Pilger for an interview to be published tomorrow in the latest edition of the New Statesman, Assange said: "There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organisation and there are cables on Murdoch and News Corp."
Assange refers to these specific cables as "insurance files" that will be released "if something happens to me or to WikiLeaks". /continues

The Gazprom Cables:'Not a Competitive Global Company'
SPIEGEL Interview with German Interior Minister: 'WikiLeaks Is Annoying, But Not a Threat
'
CIA Rendition Case: US Pressured Italy to Influence Judiciary
German Foundation on Funding WikiLeaks:'Donations Were Never as Strong as Now'
SPIEGEL 360:Our Complete Coverage of the WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables
US angry with NATO Sec. Gen
A slap in the face – literally – for Iran's President Ahmadinejad 

Iran invites foreign experts to nuclear sites (AP)
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Thursday that foreign experts can accompany the international envoys Tehran has invited to inspect its nuclear facilities ahead of planned talks with world powers.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran's invitation to representatives of Russia, China, the EU, developing countries and Arab states to visit its nuclear facilities could be extended to the experts as well.
"There are no restrictions on bringing nuclear experts as companions," he said, in response to concerns by some country representatives that they didn't have sufficient expertise for the trip.
Mehmanparast said the invitation aimed at building trust ahead of talks Jan. 21 with world powers in Istanbul over Iran's disputed nuclear program, which the U.S. and many of its allies fear might be aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, and says the program is peaceful.