Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Eurovision Song Contest, Oslo, Norway: Geographic Map of Finalists Reveals Clear Pattern : plus Betting Odds and Comments Going into the Finals

After semifnals reduced the field of contestants from 39 countries,  25 nations compete this evening in the Finals of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest which will be seen by over one hundred million viewers.


Who will win?

Our geographic map below of the finalists for Eurovision 2010 contains some fat surprises.

The countries shaded in the map in red, orange and brown DID NOT make the finals and they show a contiguous mass of nations running from Sweden and Finland in the North to Italy and Malta in the South, including most of what we might call the traditional "Eastern Europe" border countries.

The various shades of green show the countries that DID make the finals and they are concentrated in what we might call "Asiatic Europe" while the two yellow shades show the "Big 4 nations" (Germany, UK, France and Spain) who are the major financial supporters of Eurovision and who do not have to qualify for the finals. This geographic map in 2010 is REMARKABLE to say the least because it shows how the focus of this year's finalists has shifted quite definitely to Asiatic Europe, where a winner in 2010 is the most likely.




The trend suggests that although the competition takes place in last year's winner Norway, the north countries of Europe have generally not done well thus far in this year's competition, with Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all failing to make the finals. Three+one of those countries (Sweden, Finland, Latvia, plus Norway) are all former Eurovision winners. So, in terms of the Eurovision music trends, we are looking for a winner further South this year.

Bwin.com has the following odds posted for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest (odds as of 15:49 Central European Time, 29 May 2010, so they may change from that yet in coming hours). Other bookmakers have different odds but we think bwin.com is closest to reality - of course, only the actual contest results will reveal the truth. We disclaim any and all liability for any reliance on this posting which is made only in good fun and not as advice of any kind.

Below are some of our comments on some of the major contenders based on our review of rehearsals and newest developments:

Azerbaijan 3.70
Safira's second rehearsal - Azerbaijan

This is currently the top favorite, having only slight edge over Germany. It is rather incredible and a great credit to the country that Azerbaijan is being handled as a favorite of this contest. Azerbaijan is on the far east end of "Europe" on the Caspian Sea, far from the European mainstream countries. Safura has a great song and a professional voice, if it holds up live -- which may be an issue,  but the stage steps and costuming in the 2nd rehearsal were distracting - these negative live show effects could cost Azerbaijan the win. After all, it is the TOTAL performance which is essential, not merely the song.

Germany 3.75
Lena's second rehearsal - Germany

Lena was long the favorite coming into the finals and many still think she is the prohibitive favorite, quite apart from the polls and betting agencies, since she has the ability to win instant supporters, which may turn the tide in her favor when the professional juries AND public vote on the winner. Lena is someone who you either like or not, there seems to be no inbetween. Being from Germany, we are of course biased and will root that Lena wins. This is a zippy unique song written in part by an American, and the success of the son is very much dependent on the artist's presentation, which must match the song's innocent mood. If Lena sings in the final in anything less than fairly conservative dress and does not cover her upper arms, otherwise revealing a totally inappropriate tattoo on her inside left arm, seen in the second dress rehearsal, she is lost, for it takes away from the whole message and style of the song, which is a carefree if buoyant innocence. Tattoos give exactly the opposite expression.

Armenia 5.00
Eva Riva's second rehearsal 

A favorite made in Armenia? but it is true. Eva Riva has undeniable natural star allure and the song itself is good enough to put Armenia into the upper echelons this year, though we doubt that it can win because of the song's strong "Eastern" tone and lack of uniqueness.

Israel 11.00
Harel Skaat - Israel

This is a nice chanson, of which there are many, and we see nothing that sets this song apart from hundreds of others. It will receive lots of middle-field votes but it is not unique enough to win.

Turkey 12.00
maNga's second rehearsal - Turkey

Because of the many Turks living in Europe who vote straight Turkey, the Turkish song is almost always a force to be reckoned with in the voting. Turkey to its credit has also been successful in producing some great songs for Eurovision. maNga continues this tradition with a great show. The song itself is probably not universal enough to win and the robot to human transformation in the background is at best only a distraction

Denmark    15.00
Chanée & N'evergreen's second rehearsal
The Danes have the ability year after year to produce eminently listenable songs and this is one of them., a male-female duet. The presentation probably lacks the show effects necessary to win.

Greece 17.00

Giorgos Alkaios & Friends second rehearsal - Greece
Opa!! This our personal favorite to whom we would give 12 points.
We love this song from Greece which just makes you smile all the way through. The Greeks are a definite dark horse contender, though the all-male element of the presentation may not be everyone's cup of tea. The dance choreography has an intuitive happy character while the entire presentation exudes power. The song "Opa" - the word in Greek is an expression of jubilation -- is a real crowd pleaser and the odds on a win by Greece have been moving steadily downward.

Belgium 26.00
Tom Dice's Second rehearsal

For someone strumming a guitar and singing along to win Eurovision, the voice and/or song would have to be sensational. As it is, it is nice, but this is not an Eurovision winner. We would not rank the Belgian song this high.

Romania 31.00
Paula Seling & Ovi's first rehearsal
"Playing with Fire" is a great title, but is Eurovision ready for two pianos and leather? Paula has definitely got it, but the song itself is nothing in particular.


Serbia    67.00
Milan Stanković's second rehearsal  

Can "modern ethnic" gather in votes? We shall find out. If they can, Serbia may do better than expected.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

EU Digital Agenda Foresees Higher R&D Investment

As reported at CORDIS News, the European Union Digital Agenda unveiled on May 19, 2010, "focuses on more investment in research and development (R&D)" in the EU.

By way of comparison, for example, the US earmarked €88 billion Euros for information and communication technology (ICT) in 2007 as compared to €37 billion in the European Union. Europe seeks to close that gap.

European Union (EU) Commission Unveils Digital Agenda to Boost Prosperity and Well-Being in Europe

EUROPA - Press Release:
Digital Agenda: Commission outlines action plan to boost Europe's prosperity and well-being

"[Abstract ]Implementing the ambitious Digital Agenda for Europe unveiled today by the European Commission would contribute significantly to the EU's economic growth and spread the benefits of the digital era to all sections of society. Half of European productivity growth over the past 15 years was already driven by information and communications technologies (see IP/10/571) and this trend is likely to accelerate. The Agenda outlines seven priority areas for action: creating a digital Single Market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, much faster internet access, more investment in research and development, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion, and applying information and communications technologies to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population. Examples of benefits include easier electronic payments and invoicing, rapid deployment of telemedicine and energy efficient lighting. In these seven areas, the Digital Agenda foresees some 100 follow-up actions, of which 31 would be legislative. The Digital Agenda is the first of seven flagship initiatives under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (see IP/10/225).

"We must put the interests of Europe's citizens and businesses at the forefront of the digital revolution and so maximise the potential of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to advance job creation, sustainability and social inclusion", said Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes. "The ambitious strategy set out today shows clearly where we need to focus our efforts in the years to come. To fully realise the potential of Europe's digital future we need the full commitment of Member States, the ICT sector and other vital economic players.""
Read the full press release here.

Crossposted from LawPundit.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

European Court of Justice Sets Absolute €1134.71 Liability Limit on Lost Baggage of Airline Passengers

Stephanie Bodoni at BusinessWeek.com writes that EU Airline Passengers Can’t Get More Than $1,450 for Lost Bags.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has issued press release 43/10, dated 6 May 2010, in the case C-63/09, Axel Walz v Clickair SA, writing at the outset:
"The Court confirms that the liability of air carriers for loss of baggage is limited to €1134.71

That limit is absolute and includes both material and non-material damage

Under European Union law1, the liability of a Community air carrier in respect of passengers and their baggage is governed by the Montreal Convention2. Thus, that convention provides that the liability of a carrier in the case of destruction, loss, damage or delay of baggage is limited to the sum of 1000 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for each passenger (a sum equivalent to approximately €1134.71)3, unless a passenger has made, at the time when the checked baggage was handed over to the carrier, a special declaration of interest in delivery at destination and has paid a supplementary sum if the case so requires. In that case, as a rule a carrier is liable to pay a sum not exceeding the declared sum."
...
__________
1 Council Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 of 9 October 1997 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air (OJ 1997 L 285, p.1), as amended by Regulation (EC) No 889/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 May 2002 (OJ 2002 L 140, p. 2).
2 Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, concluded in Montreal on 28 May 1999, signed by the European Community on 9 December 1999 and approved on its behalf by Council Decision 2001/539/EC of 5 April 2001 (OJ 2001 L 194, p. 39).
3 The Special Drawing Rights in the Montreal Convention are deemed to refer to the Special Drawing Right as defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Therefore, those sums are to be converted into national currencies. The amount of €1134.71 corresponds to 1000 SDR as at 21 April 2010.
Read the full press release here.

European Union EU Privacy Law as a Model for the United States

New Congressional draft legislation outlining online and offline privacy rules has been released.

Stephanie Clifford at the New York Times writes in Privacy Bill Finally in Draft, as Both Sides Weigh In:
"A long-awaited draft of a Congressional bill would push American privacy legislation closer to the strict rules that the European Union uses, and would extend privacy protections both on the Internet and offline."
Need we say that EU privacy law is years ahead of the USA? Whatever legislation the USA adopts, it is bound to be too weak by European standards.

Andy Greenberg writes at Forbes.com in New Web Ad Privacy Bill Riles All Sides:
"Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., released a draft Tuesday of a privacy bill aimed at defining broad new regulations for the data collection practices of online advertising. The bill would require sites to offer easier methods of letting users prevent their behavior from being tracked online, warn users about data collection with a symbol on Web pages and require sites to render anonymous any data they collect after 18 months."
We do not understand why it is so difficult in the U.S. to comprehend that many people and companies in the United States are running roughshod in the Internet over the privacy rights of users and that stricter laws are inevitable, sooner -- or after much damage -- later. Stomping on privacy rights under the argument that it is essential for advertising is nonsense -- it is only essential so that the greedy among us can make even more money than they already do.

The recent push of Facebook to Share Your Info for Money has to be about the most egregious privacy invasion -- even by current law -- that we have seen in this millennium. If Congress does not have the courage to pass strict legislation, the country will have to pay the price down the road.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the EU and Selected World Countries per capita in U.S. Dollars at Current Prices 2009 - Source: IMF Chart Generator | Denmark Leads the Normal World in Income Equality and Happiness

We put together the following chart for internal use recently and pass it on as a potentially useful piece of information in assessing the world economic and political situation.

It is singularly remarkable that the country with the highest GDP for a "normal economy", i.e. not one based on oil or banking, is Denmark -- and that is also the country with the greatest equality of income in its population according to the Gini coefficient. The result? The Danes are also the world's happiest people.

Maybe the rest of the world has the wrong formula?

It also appears to us that the conflict in the world today is economic and not religious, based on these figures, which show a clear division of the world between the "haves" and the "have nots".

A Selected List of The GDP in US Dollars of
EU Euro-Zone and non-Euro-Zone Countries 2009

(+ EFTA and some non-European countries added for comparison)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita U.S. $$ at current prices
Source: IMF Chart Generator, as selected and reordered by LawPundit
(some columns have been deleted, some labels have been shortened

and the numbers have been rounded -- go to the IMF Chart Generator
or to this page at Wikipedia if you want original or more inclusive data)

       Shaded cells indicate IMF staff estimates
Country (State)

Subject Descriptor
(GDP per capita 2009,
current prices)
2009
U.S. $$
Luxembourg - EU
(world's #1 - via banking),

Liechtenstein, not ranked by the
IMF, surely has a higher GDP
GDP per capita104,512
Norway - EFTA, EEA (oil)GDP per capita79,085
Qatar (oil)GDP per capita68,872
Switzerland - EFTA
(via banking)
GDP per capita67,560
Denmark - EU (world's
best income distribution &
world's happiest people)
GDP per capita56,115
Ireland - EUGDP per capita51,356
Netherlands - EUGDP per capita48,223
United Arab Emirates (oil)GDP per capita46,857
United StatesGDP per capita46,381
Austria - EUGDP per capita45,989
AustraliaGDP per capita45,587
Finland - EUGDP per capita44,492
Sweden - EUGDP per capita43,986
Belgium - EUGDP per capita43,533
France - EUGDP per capita42,747
Germany - EUGDP per capita40,875
JapanGDP per capita39,731
CanadaGDP per capita39,669
Iceland - EFTA, EEAGDP per capita37,977
SingaporeGDP per capita37,293
Italy - EUGDP per capita35,435
United Kingdom - EUGDP per capita35,334
Spain - EUGDP per capita31,946
Hong Kong SARGDP per capita29,826
Greece - EUGDP per capita29,635
Cyprus - EUGDP per capita29,620
Slovenia - EUGDP per capita24,417
New ZealandGDP per capita27,259
IsraelGDP per capita26,797
Brunei DarussalamGDP per capita26,325
The BahamasGDP per capita21,529
Portugal - EUGDP per capita21,408
Malta - EUGDP per capita19,111
Czech Republic - EUGDP per capita18,557
South KoreaGDP per capita17,074
TaiwanGDP per capita16,392
Slovak Republic - EUGDP per capita16,282
Saudi ArabiaGDP per capita14,486
Estonia - EUGDP per capita14,267
CroatiaGDP per capita14,243
Hungary - EUGDP per capita12,927
Latvia - EUGDP per capita11,607
Poland - EUGDP per capita11,288
Lithuania - EUGDP per capita11,172
TurkeyGDP per capita8,723
RussiaGDP per capita8,694
BrazilGDP per capita8,220
MexicoGDP per capita8,135
Romania - EUGDP per capita7,542
MalaysiaGDP per capita6,897
Bulgaria - EUGDP per capita6,223
South AfricaGDP per capita5,824
SerbiaGDP per capita5,809
Former Yugoslav
Republic of
Macedonia
GDP per capita4,482
IranGDP per capita4,460
Bosnia and
Herzegovina
GDP per capita4,279
ThailandGDP per capita3,940
AlbaniaGDP per capita3,825
ChinaGDP per capita3,678
SyriaGDP per capita2,579
EgyptGDP per capita2,450
IndonesiaGDP per capita2,329
IraqGDP per capita2,108
PhilippinesGDP per capita1,746
VietnamGDP per capita1,060
IndiaGDP per capita1,031
PakistanGDP per capita1,017
BangladeshGDP per capita574
AfghanistanGDP per capita486

Interactive Maps of the Status of Debt in Europe

Take a look at this set of interactive maps in the Global Business section of the New York Times -- Debt Rising in Europe.

EU Commission Lifts Baltic Views, Sees Latvian Stabilization - WSJ.com

EU Commission Lifts Baltic Views, Sees Latvian Stabilization - WSJ.com

Is Large-Scale Tax Evasion One Cause of Greek Financial Problems? Their GDP Indicates the Government of Greece Should Not Have Money Problems: Analysis of GDP in Euro Area States

We generated the following chart at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook Database online for GDP, current prices, expressed in U.S. $$ for the Euro area 2009, i.e. not including all EU States (please note that we have retained the IMF original footnotes but have shortened some of the labels from the original chart to make the chart fit on LawPundit):

You will find notes on the data and options to download the table below your results.
       Shaded cells indicate IMF staff estimates
CountrySubject DescriptorUnitsScaleCountry/Series
-specific Notes
2009
AustriaGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).381880
BelgiumGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).470400
CyprusGDP, current pricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).23603
FinlandGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).238128
FranceGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).2675915
GermanyGDP, current pricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).3352742
GreeceGDP, current pricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).330780
IrelandGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).227781
ItalyGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).2118264
LuxembourgGDP, current pricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).51736
MaltaGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).7955
NetherlandsGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).794777
PortugalGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).227855
Slovak RepublicGDP, Current PricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).88208
SloveniaGDP, current pricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).49217
SpainGDP, current pricesU.S. $$BillionsSee notes for: 

GDP, Current Prices (National currency).1464040

As can be seen, the GDP of Germany (population ca. 82 million) is roughly 10 times that of Greece (population ca. 11 million), while the GDP of Greece is nevertheless higher than that of eight other "Euro area" states on this list (half the list). There is in fact not a great deal of difference between the per capita GDP in Greece as compared to Germany.

So where is the money??

How can it be that the Greek government is now in such allegedly deep financial difficulties and is asking the world and the European Union for untold billions of dollars in financial aid when its citizens may be basking in weatlh?

One severe causal problem is discussed by Suzanne Daley at the New York Times in Greek Wealth Is Everywhere but Tax Forms, suggesting that the Greeks are by no means poor, but that a failing morality regarding the correct declaration of taxable income means that the Greek government sees little of the money that is actually earned in Greece -- indeed, as Daley writes:
"Various studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, have estimated that the government may be losing as much as $30 billion a year to tax evasion — a figure that would have gone a long way to solving its debt problems. "
The legitimate question can thus be raised whether tax evasion is at the root of the Greek problem, posing the query as to why countries with a better tax declaration morality, such as Germany, where large tax burdens are shouldered by the citizens and by industry, should suffer the Greek government's financial burdens and bail out Greece, where the money is actually there in the Greek's own communities?

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