Merkel sees changing the EU constitution as solution – not eurobonds


I don’t know about the rest of you – I’m going shopping
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that EU treaty changes rather than eurobonds will help solve the eurozone debt crisis.

Ahead of European Commission proposals for bonds backed by all 17 eurozone states, she said what was really needed was a political response. Mrs Merkel argued if there was to be a debate on eurobonds, it should be at the end, not the middle of the crisis…

The eurobond plans, due to be presented by the commission on Wednesday, are attracting increasing support, despite Germany’s opposition. Greece’s new Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, said on Tuesday that eurobonds “or similar tools could provide the means to overcome the crisis”.

Addressing Germany’s confederation of employers in Berlin on Tuesday, the German chancellor said that if changing treaties proved too difficult on an EU level, they would be dealt with instead by the 17 members of the eurozone.

“We have to change the construction of the euro area,” she said. “Treaty changes are for me an immediate part of solving the crisis, the political response to a politically derived confidence crisis.”

Reports on Monday suggested that Britain would accept a “narrow” amendment of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty covering the eurozone in return for a deal on the EU’s working time directive.

Although full details of the commission’s proposals are not yet known, a leaked draft document indicates they would involve three options

An extensive scheme that would completely replace national bonds and would require each eurozone government to guarantee the debt of other countries

A lesser scheme that would see national bonds partially replaced with eurobonds up to a limit that could relate to how closely a country adhered to strict rules.

The replacement of some national bond issues with a limit on guarantees

Flip-flopping hardly describes the way this crisis is going down to the wire. And maybe beyond.

The core countries in the EU – moved heaven and earth and quasi-legitimate accounting practices to extend their newfound domain. The convenience and security of a common currency was moved as quickly as possible in the direction of fiscal and political union with little thought of potential disasters. As far as I can see from this side of the pond.

Now, the lies accepted to justify sleazy economic practices is haunting the politicians who hoped to benefit. Except an increase in risk supersedes an increase in power. It’s looks more likely to me they will have to shrink the European Union back to the nations which can deal responsibly with each other on debt and currency. That’s a single-digit number.

Governors seek commerce for their state – national politicians seek power from ignorant voters


Iowa Soybean Association members at a port on the Po River

In October 1984, Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad, made his first trip to China. He and his wife flew to Beijing and took an old steamer train about 200 miles southwest to Shijiazhuang, a city in the Hebei province…

Local government officials greeted the Branstads with flowers and a band. One member of the welcoming committee was a young man who would eventually ascend to the ranks of China’s top leadership, Xi Jinping. Currently China’s vice president, Xi is widely expected to succeed President Hu Jintao, who is set to step down next year.

“The friendships you build, you never know when it might pay off in the future,” said Brandstad, who has stayed in touch with Xi over the years. “Treat everybody well. You never know when they might someday be very important.”

Will someone please engrave this on bronze plaques to be placed on the desks of each of our Congress-critters!

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Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe memorialized for depicting Margaret Thatcher as Torydactyl

The fossil of a prehistoric flying reptile discovered in Dorset has been named after satirical artist Gerald Scarfe.

The political cartoonist was chosen because of his caricatures of Margaret Thatcher which depicted her as a pointy-nosed “Torydactyl”.

The 13in long pterosaur, discovered in Kimmeridge Bay, has been named Cuspicephalus scarfi. It had a long, pointed head which is unusual for a pterosaur.

The specimen is 155 million years old, from the late Jurassic period, and is believed to be the most substantial pterosaur skull to be found in the UK for nearly 200 years.

Mr Scarfe said: “I’m thrilled and flattered – I never thought Mrs Thatcher would do anything for me – even if it is to be immortalised as a 155-million-year-old fossil…

The species was found by fossil collector Steve Etches, and identified by University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Dr David Martill.

ROFLMAO. Bravo Gerald Scarfe. Bravo and kudos to Dr. David Martill for the choice.

Comprehension and understanding of Tory politics as fossilized is worth a smile to start the day with.

Qantas achieves world-class Fail with their Twitter PR hustle

Qantas PR Manager

Australia’s Qantas Airlines has been left red-faced after an ill-timed public relations campaign and Twitter competition backfired, drawing thousands of angry responses.

Qantas Tuesday invited users of the micro-blogging site to enter a “Qantas Luxury” competition, asking people to describe their “dream luxury in-flight experience” and possibly win a pair of Qantas first-class pyjamas and a toiletries kit.

The timing of the PR exercise was questionable, coming just a day after Qantas and its unions broke off contract negotiations and after Qantas grounded its fleet in late October, a drastic move that stranded thousands of angry customers.

PR experts said the campaign was perhaps Australia’s greatest public relations failure and a classic example of the dangers of unpredictable social media…

Unimpressed Twitter users set a stream of responses ranging from caustic jokes about the carrier to ordinary abuse…

Daniel Angus, using the Twitter name “antmandan,” said Qantas luxury meant “being stranded on the other side of the world without warning when you just want to get home to your 10-month-old daughter.”

Qantas last week hired four social media monitors to keep tabs on what people were saying about it on Twitter and Facebook after the fleet grounding. The carrier has also promised generous compensation for stranded passengers.

Cripes – there’s a job description for a truly bored geek.

My favorite Tweet was from user “stanofid” who called the campaign the “Hindenburg of social media strategies.”