Scientists think they have found intact DNA which will enable them to create cloned mammoths within a few years.
Woolly mammoths were about the same size as modern African elephants, but hairier (obviously), perhaps more heavy set, and with smaller ears.
From the UK’s Daily Mail:
Scientists believe it may be possible to clone a woolly mammoth within five years after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia.
Teams from Russia’s Sakha Republic’s mammoth museum and Japan’s Kinki University will launch fully-fledged joint research next year aiming to recreate the giant mammal, Japan’s Kyodo News reported from Yakutsk, Russia.
By replacing the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth’s marrow cells, embryos with mammoth DNA can be produced, Kyodo said, citing the researchers.
The ALP national conference in Sydney, that is.
Julia Gillard’s speech, which one guesses was intended to inspire the meagre troops, was instead a perfect melange of excuses, distortions, and promises that will not be kept, delivered in a nasal drone that would drive you batty if you hadn’t fallen alseep after the first paragraph.
More from Piers Ackerman:
If anyone ever admits to having a hand in producing her speech, their names should be taken and kept in a safe place to ensure they never again produce words for others to utter in public.
The theme – Labor says yes – was so asinine that it could have come from a kindergarten focus group. It began with a statement of absolute nonsense: “In the 16 months since we stood together in that toughest of federal election campaigns, our party has governed and governed well.”
The laughter could be heard echoing around the harbour, even quieting for a brief moment the shrill homosexual protesters busily stripping away Gillard’s last shreds of authority.
From there it was a brief mention of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – but no mention that there had been no funding set aside in Wayne Swan’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook statement delivered earlier in the week.
Instead of delivery, Gillard said the decision had been taken to “lay the foundations” for what she termed a “defining Labor reform”. The cop-out clause. The fix is in.
She tried to justify the wasteful NBN cable rollout with an anecdote about a woman in Darwin whose leg was examined by a specialist in Adelaide, but didn’t have the wit to think that her listeners would wonder why Darwin, a city of 200,000 couldn’t support a full-time dermatologist, or why her government was spending exorbitant sums building super-clinics where they are not needed when there was a need for a clinic in the Northern Territory where skin problems are commonplace?
Her reference to the NBN reminded listeners that the Not Bloody Necessary fiasco is going to cost upwards of $50 billion, with its foreseeable cost blow-outs, and that take-up is meagre at best.
Her biggest howler was the claim on the clean energy economy (shorthand for carbon dioxide tax).
“After a debate lasting the best part of two, even three decades together, this year, we turned words into deeds and next year Australia will have a price on carbon,” she said.
Hello? Her words were: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.” Who does she think she’s kidding?
Every Gillard speech should come with a caveat: Errors and omissions and anything we need to trade off to minor parties excepted. All facts subject to revision. Promises may be adapted, deleted, or swapped for alternative promises depending on future circumstances.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s brain cell has gone missing.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has urged Israel to “mend fences” with Turkey, Egypt and others in the Middle East to reduce its growing isolation…
“Unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow, and the pursuit of a comprehensive Middle East peace plan has effectively been put on hold,” he said.
Israel’s concern over the Arab Spring revolts that have toppled several long-term authoritarian leaders in the region, including in peace partner Egypt, was understandable, he added.
But the changes in leadership offered an opportunity for Israel to improve regional security.
“For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional security, countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan,” he said.
“And if the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are.”
Mr Panetta apparently lives in some sort of parallel universe where Recep Erdogan has not attempted to curry favour with Iran by undermining formal relations with Israel and repeatedly denouncing it in Turkey and in international forums, and where the ‘Arab Spring’ has lead to the establishment of open and reasonable governments.
In the real world, Jordan continues to distance itself from Israel, the parties which called for death to all Jews are the ones who have won government in Egypt, Turkey is turning into another Iran, and revolutions in other islamic nations like Libya are leading their countries deeper into rabid islamism and anti-semitism.
For their leaders, the imagined perfidy of Israel and all Jews is a convenient excuse for their own failings. For their people, islamic hatred for Jews has its origin in the life and teachings of Muhammed.
The UN will not see further concessions by Israel as positive. It has never done so in the past, despite the fact that those concessions have been made at massive cost, both financial and to Israel’s national security.
Just as there are no limits to hypocrisy, there are no limits to a bully’s demands. The UN and the Arab nations will never be satisfied until Israel is gone. They keep saying so.
Contrary to Mr Panetta’s inane and anodyne advice, Israel must continue to do what it has done under Netanyahu. It must be ready to engage in genuine diplomacy, and willing to offer friendship.
But bullies will not stop until they are made to stop, and those who stop them, often at great risk to themselves, do the rest of us a great favour. Israel must not allow itself to be bullied, whether by the US, or by Egypt, Jordan or Turkey.
If Mr Panetta wants to have anything useful to offer, he needs to find his brain cell.
Update: Barry Rubin at PJ Media agrees:
There are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s statement.
First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does. By changing a reasonably friendly Egyptian government into a totally hostile Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi dominated political system closely allied with Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruler, and by helping establish Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Libya allied with this Muslim Brotherhood International; the changes create a four-member alliance intent on wiping Israel off the map.
Add to that Islamist domination of Lebanon by Hizballah, an Islamist regime in Turkey, and the continuing threat from Iran and you’ve got quite a regional situation.
Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true?
The answer is as follows:
•Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even mor extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt) the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them?
•We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism.
•The Islamists don’t want peace with Israel on any terms. They want its destruction. They will not be dissuaded by a peace agreement. They will do anything possible–starting with demagoguery and ending with terrorism or even war–to block such a diplomatic solution. How can Israeli action reconcile those who don’t want peace?
As of now, the following are governed or will soon be governed by Islamists who want Israel’s destruction and genocide against the Jews there: Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.
The following are governed by those who want peace with Israel: Jordan.
•Not only is the United States not opposing this development it is supporting it. In other words, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.
Third, why are there no negotiations? As the history of the issue since January 2009 shows, it is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel. If Panetta and the Obama Administration were either wise or honest they would acknowledge this fact. Instead, they blame Israel. Once again, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.
From Pat Condell:
From Abdallah Jarbu, Deputy Minister of Hamas’ Ministry of Religious Endowments (no I have no idea what that means).
They want to present themselves to the world as if they have rights, but, in fact, they are foreign bacteria – a microbe unparalleled in the world. It’s not me who says this. The Koran itself says that they have no parallel: “You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews.”
May He annihilate this filthy people who have neither religion nor conscience. I condemn whoever believes in normalizing relations with them, whoever supports sitting down with them, and whoever believes that they are human beings. They are not human beings. They are not people. They have no religion, no conscience, and no moral values.
The Jews, the brothers of apes and pigs, have gathered from all corners of the world, in order to defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They have come to rob it of its purity, and they replaced it with their impurity, their filth, and their abomination.
You cannot go on living, oh Arab and Islamic nation, while the Al-Aqsa Mosque is being defiled by the Jews, the most despicable people on this Earth. By Allah, they are not human beings. They are not men who deserve to live, as long as we are alive.
We salute anyone who tried to run over Jews with his bulldozers. We salute anyone who tried to stab a Jewish settler pig.
Allah will send his wrath down from the skies upon the Jews and their collaborators. Allah will make the sea rage against all the oppressors. Allah will poison the air breathed by the Jews, the Americans, the Crusaders, and all the Zionists. May Allah turn the food that they eat to poison in their bellies.
In a ‘land for peace’ deal, Israel forcibly removed 10,000 Jews from Gaza, some of whose families had lived there for hundreds of years, so that Gaza could be, as demanded, an ethnically and religiously pure Palestinian territory.
The land was given. The peace was not – over 12,000 rockets fired into southern Israel over the last ten years.
Or is that racist?
A couple of days ago I would have put money on Herman Cain’s run for the presidency being over.
Two accusations of sexual assault, and a claim of an affair of thirteen years standing were not enough to convince me of Cain’s guilt, but they were enough to convince me most people would be convinced, and that Cain would be unable to counter the media campaign against him.
After reading Ann Coulter’s discussion of the accusers and the accusations, I am not so sure. If Cain holds firm, he may still hold on.
I still don’t believe he is the ideal candidate, or even the best candidate. In spite of everything, the best candidate is Newt Gingrich, but that’s another story.
Cain is an intelligent and capable man. He knows how to run things. The present incumbent couldn’t run a bath.
But Cain has no experience in government. It is a mistake to elect someone to leadership in public office who has no experience in business. It is just as much a mistake to elect someone to an executive postion in goverment who has no experience of how government works.
Let Cain be defeated. But let him be defeated honestly, and not through carefully orchestrated and baseless accusations by opportunists with a history of trouble-making.
With apologies to Chicago.
But no surprises here:
The New South Wales government censored studies which show that the rate of sea level rise has not increased, and is nothing to worry about at all, really.
And then there’s this: $100 million worth of hot air.
The Federal government has spent so much money on illegal immigrants and pink batts and the internet that it has to cut back on education and support for families. But Julia manages to find $100 million to tell us what a wonderful thing the carbon tax is.
An Iranian nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran’s military and atomic sites are under attack.
Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.
The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.
What is especially interesting about this is that Israel has clearly not adopted the current US view that buddying up to people who say they want to destroy you suddenly makes them your friends.
Our state member of parliament, Michael Pengilly, has been in trouble for the last few days because he called the prime minister a dog.
Anyone who uses Twitter is a twit. It is too easy to put thoughts out there which, however instantly regretted, cannnot be taken back. Twitter posts are too short to allow for any context or explanation. So I suggest leaving Twitter to ABC staff and Labor party members.
The outrage which has followed Mr Pengilly’s comment has been entertaining, to say the least.
I admit that I would prefer that public discourse in Australia showed a little more respect for the office of the Prime Minister.
But there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, Julia Gillard is a leading competitor for the title of Australia’s worst ever Prime Minister. She and Kevin Rudd have lead the most spectacularly inept and irresponsible government since federation.
Their ‘compassionate’ policies on illegal immigration have lured hundreds of people to their deaths as rusty boats have sunk or been dashed against rocks.
Their plan for a fast broadband network is going to cost every Australian household over $6000 in taxes whether they want it or not. Most people don’t want it – take up rates have been less than 20% – and by the time it is fully installed, it will have been overtaken by newer technology, or would have except that Telstra and Optus have been forced to sign ‘won’t compete’ agreements.
Then there are bungled insulation plans, bungled foreign policy, bungled education spending, and to top it all off, at the time of the world’s worst financial crisis since the 1930s, two taxes (the minerals rent tax and the carbon tax) that will slow Australia’s domestic economy and make us less competitive in every export market – resources, food, and manufactured goods.
All this from a government that obtained less than fifty percent of the vote, and survives only by indulging the brownies at the bottom of the garden, along with Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, both traitors to their own electorates and to the Australian people.
And then there is Mr Slipper. Julia Gillard dumped Harry Jenkins and made Peter Slipper Speaker.
Daily newspapers around Australia portrayed Mr Slipper as a rat. Photos were doctored to give him big ears and a tail. This is in clear contravention of parliamentary convention, which is that photos taken inside parliament should not be used for satire or to ridicule members.
But no one is complaining about Mr Slipper being called a rat, despite the fact that as much respect should be shown to the office of Speaker as to that of Prime Minister.
I am not complaining either. He has sold out his own electorate, stabbed his Liberal party colleagues in the back, abused the trust of Australian taxpayers through (allegedly) consistently outrageous expense claims, and put his own interests ahead of the public’s by entrenching a government the vast majority of Australians want to see the end of as soon as possible.
But if Peter Slipper can be called a rat, an animal most people find repulsive, and if Julia Gillard is the organiser, the plotter, the implementer of the scheme to bolster her government by removing a fair-minded and honourable man from the Speaker’s chair and putting in, well, Peter Slipper, then why is unreasonable to call her a dog?
Except perhaps that fox, snake or weasel might have been more appropriate.
If the Prime Minister wants to act like a dog or a snake, there is no reason he should not be called a dog or a snake.
Australian Prime Ministers have been called much worse. Think of comments by Paul Keating or Mark Latham about Liberal Party leaders, or Noel Pearson’s description of John Howard as a ‘moral cockroach’ (because Mr Howard held views about aboriginal health and welfare ten years ago that Noel apparently holds now).
The difference is, Julia is a girl.
Calling her names apparently makes Mr Pengilly a meany, if not worse. He was told sternly by our local paper, The Islander, that ‘not all abuse is physical.’
It is simply inconceivable that this comment would have been made had he called Kevin Foley a dog instead of Julia Gillard.
It isn’t sexist or abusive or evidence of an unsatisfactory attitude to women that Mr Pengilly called the Prime Minister a name.
It is sexist that what would be considered normal, if robust, dialogue between parliamentarians of different parties suddenly becomes abuse if one of the parties is female.
This whole brouhaha reminds of a newspaper story I read when I was a teenager. A woman sued her local baseball club, claiming she was as good a player as most of the men, and had been excluded simply because of her gender. The court agreed this was unfair, and ordered the club to put her in a team
Next season she was back in court. She had been hit and injured by a fastball. She was now complaining that the club had failed to take reasonable care for her health and safety, because it had not made allowance for the fact that she was a woman and therefore had slower reaction times. Pitches to her should have been slower.
In politics as in baseball, players should anticipate a few fastballs.
If people want to be treated as equals, they should not complain when people treat them equally.
I have said right from the beginning, starting fifteen years ago, that I was unconvinced by arguments for anthropogenic global warming for the simple reason that there is no correlation between human activity and global changes in climate.
People who think as I do have been compared to holocaust deniers, heretics, creationists, crop circle enthusiasts, and religious fanatics. The difference of course, is that the climate alarm sceptics are the ones who are focussing on the evidence – what is really happening in the real world.
The world has certainly warmed slightly – just over half of one degree Celsius – over the last 150 years. And a darn good thing it is. It is possible that there may have been some human influence on this, although so far as I can see, there is no evidence outside of computer modelling that supports this hypothesis.
Yet we are constantly told that we must ‘take action now’ to prevent a huge catastrophe. Even though there no reason at all to believe that such a catastrophe is really on the way, I would not object to people ‘taking action’ if it made them feel better, if it were not for the enormous cost to everyone else of these utterly pointless projects.
From Matt Ridley:
Well here’s why it matters:
The alarmists have been handed power over our lives; the heretics have not. Remember Britain’s unilateral Climate Change Act is officially expected to cost the hard-pressed UK economy £18.3 billion a year for the next 39 years and achieve an unmeasurably small change in carbon dioxide levels. At least sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as the griffon vulture.
At least crop circle believers cannot almost double your electricity bills and increase fuel poverty while driving jobs to Asia, to support their fetish.
At least creationists have not persuaded the BBC that balanced reporting is no longer necessary.
At least homoeopaths have not made expensive condensing boilers, which shut down in cold weather, compulsory, as John Prescott did in 2005.
At least astrologers have not driven millions of people into real hunger, perhaps killing 192,000 last year according to one conservative estimate, by diverting 5% of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel.
That’s why it matters.
That was from Ridley’s Angus Millar Lecture to the Royal Society of the Arts, Edinburgh, 31 October 2011.
I said so a few days ago, and events of the last few days have confirmed my earlier opinion.
This is what has gone wrong in Greece, and I suspect, in the other PIIGS nations;
Germany could, maybe, perhaps, still come to the rescue by funding more bailouts and propping up the European Central Bank as it prints more money.
But the present government, Angela Merkel included, know they will be booted out at the earliest opportunity if they take that course.
Politicians may take action that will result in their losing the next election if they believe strongly enough it is the right thing to do.
German politicians are not that convinced. They have an obligation to their own country which will outweigh their obligation to a vision of a united Europe which most Germans do not share anyway.
It’s finished, Angela. Just give it up. Rip off the band aid and get the pain over.
‘Judgement day has come!’ ‘We will kill all the Jews.’
Some of the chants repeated at a rally in Cairo.
It is simply nonsense to suggest, as some have done, that Muslims hate Jews because of Israel. Muslims have conducted campaigns of extermination against Jewish populations since Islam began. The mufti of Jerusalem looked forward to working with Hitler in extending the final solution into the Middle East.
No matter who is elected in Egypt, or any of the other ‘Arab Spring’ countries, they will not be able to meet the people’s expectations of improved economic conditions. It will be necessary to find someone to blame. No prizes for guessing who that will be. Israel, the US, and any other Western countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel.
We in the West like to imagine that democracy will solve most problems, because most people are basically decent. That much is true – most people are basically decent. But Islam encourages its followers to act like Muhammed. Muhammed was a serial murderer, rapist and torturer. He had sex with a nine year old girl when he was in his fifties. He grew rich by raiding neighbouring towns and villages. This is not a good example on which to build a just society.
Democracy is not just a matter of elections. Unless there is an underlying commitment to tolerance of diverse religious and political views, and a commitment to the rule of law, then elections will be no more than make up on a melanoma.
The occupiers, whether on Wall St or in Melbourne, are amongst the wealthiest and most privileged people on Earth.
They are people who have been given everything, who have achieved nothing, contributed nothing, risked nothing, and who, wanting even more, make their demands by destroying the property of those who have. This, they claim, is fixing the world.
A letter from Jack Furnari in the Knoxville News:
The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama’s America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly. It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American civil society.
It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person’s guaranteed liberties.
It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members will live in opulent splendor. It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood, unions, universities, the Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American foreign entities.
Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he and his comrades are capable of. The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the annihilation of America.
Europe is a real place, not a video game, so it is governed by people significantly less intelligent than the average game player.
Good game players know they must use resources efficiently, never run out of gold, and ensure their income stream always equals or exceeds their expenditure. They have to co-operate with others, but act independently and take responsibility. They must have a firm grip of the mechanics of the game – what constitutes reality – and act both thoughtfully and decisively, because actions have consequences.
Fortunately, Australia still has some politicians who understand these things. Tony Abbott’s speech during President Obama’s visit to Federal Parliament mentioned De Toqueville’s remark ‘America is great because America is good.’ He suggested that being good involves loyalty and hard work and sacrifice. He was roundly criticised in the local media for being divisive.
America has been good and great because it was founded by people who were great and good, and who understood what game players know – you can’t buy food or clothes or education or a castle if you don’t have any gold, and you won’t have any gold if you don’t do any work.
In our time the idea that the people who have done the work and earned the gold deserve better armour or bigger castles is considered divisive, unfair, and an example of the failure of unrestrained capitalism. Everyone deserves the same! redistribute the wealth! So what if I have laid on my couch eating pizza and watching porn for the last twenty years? I want to live in Hollywood too.
The opinion that no one should be allowed to fail or be in need, that everyone deserves an equal share (except for politicians and bureaucrats, who are more equal than others), has taken firm hold in Europe.
Not quite as firm a hold in the US, as these results from the Pew Research Center show:
The average US citizen still thinks personal freedom (and responsibility) is more important than the government making sure your family gets its porridge in the morning. There is some hope for the US.
There are three major consequences of the implementation of any political ideology which refuses to accept economic and social reality. In the last week, all three have been in evidence in Europe.
First, the end of democracy. People may take advantage of whatever pointless handouts desperate politicians toss into the cage, but the hoi polloi are generally wiser than their rulers, and will not be fooled forever. Consequently, the people must be stopped. From Brendan O’Neill:
IMAGINE how much international hand-wringing there would be if, say, Nigeria and South Africa decided to club together and put extraordinary pressure on Swaziland to get rid of its elected leaders and replace them with unelected suits.
There would be uproar. Western politicians would hold press conferences to denounce these coup-like antics on the Dark Continent. The UN would have an emergency session.
Yet when the same thing happens in Europe, when powerful West European nations use extreme financial pressure to force a change of government in less powerful European nations, no one seems to mind.
During the past week, something extraordinary has taken place in Europe: two elected governments have been swept aside, largely on the say-so of Germany and France, and replaced by gaggles of unelected experts.
The fall of Greece’s democratic government was assured when its prime minister, George Papandreou, suggested an EU austerity package for Greece should be put to a referendum.
The package, agreed by Brussels on October 26, stipulates that Greece will get the emergency bailout funds it desperately needs only if it agrees to raise taxes and slash public-sector pay. So Papandreou felt the Greek people should have a chance to say yes or no to it.
Big mistake. As we know from the hissy fits they threw when the Irish, Dutch and French dared to say no, nee and non in referendums on whether to pass the EU constitution, the oligarchs in Brussels hate nothing more than the thought of hoi polloi having a say on their policies.
This is one time when the too muched quoted excerpt from Brecht’s The Solution really is apposite:
The People have frivolously thrown away the Government’s confidence and will only regain it through Redoubled Work. But wouldn’t it be simpler if the Government simply dissolved the people and elected another?
Brecht, incidentally, would certainly have been on the side of the Euro-stalinists rather than the people. He really did the think the people were hopeless and should be replaced.
Second, ineluctable and obstructive government regulation in even the most trivial areas of life.
The decision by Eurocrats to make illegal any claim by the manufacturers of bottled water that drinking water will help prevent dehydration is one mirth producing recent example.
UK MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law” look “positively sane”.
He said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat dehydration.
The Eurocrats have subsequently claimed that media outlets have misunderstood the ruling. What they really meant was that from now on it will be illegal for manufacturers of bottled water to claim their product may help reduce dehydration. And yes, that is exactly what everyone said they said.
Thirdly, economic collapse.
Land, homes and commercial real estate in some parts of Spain is now literally worthless. That is, large parts of Spain are of no value to anyone.
Spanish banks, under pressure to cut property-backed debt, hold about 30 billion euros (US$41 billion) of real estate that’s “unsellable,” according to a risk advisor to Banco Santander SA and five other lenders.
“I’m really worried about the small- and medium-sized banks whose business is 100% in Spain and based on real-estate growth,” Pablo Cantos, managing partner of Madrid-based MaC Group, said in an interview. “I foresee Spain will be left with just four large banks.”
Spanish lenders hold 308 billion euros of real estate loans, about half of which are “troubled,” according to the Bank of Spain. The central bank tightened rules last year to force lenders to aside more reserves against property taken onto their books in exchange for unpaid debts, pressing them to sell assets rather than wait for the market to recover from a four-year decline.
Cantos says that prime assets can be sold at a 30% discount, while portfolios comprising land, residential and commercial real estate may only sell after 70% discounts.
“Therein lies the problem,” he said. “Banks have already provisioned for a 30% loss, but if you are selling at 70% discount, you have to take another 40% loss. Which small and medium size banks can take such a hit?”
Very few. Without an end to endless regulation and endless spending, no bailouts will make a difference.
The politicians and bureacrats will fight any remedy tooth and nail. But unless there is a fundamental change in thinking about government and spending, Europe will fall.
Either way, the Euro experiment is over.
A month or so ago I outlined the reasons I would never play World of Warcraft again (mainly, Blizzard’s hostile attitude to its players).
But I checked in a few days ago to see what was going on. A new expansion pack has been announced.
WoW has a billion dollar a year income stream and some of the best game designers in the business.
And this is the best the WoW team can come up with? Kung Fu Panda?
WoW is becoming a Wii game.