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3/26/15

US Economy: "It's the Inequality, Stupid" - by Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot

Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America's economy..

Read more: It's the Inequality, Stupid | Mother Jones

Germany - Air Crash: Profile Andreas Lubitz: co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 - all appears normal

Andreas Lubitz, 28, from the town of Montabaur in Rhineland-Palatinate, has been named as the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 who appears to have deliberately crashed into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

While the captain and crew banged on the cockpit door during the descent, Lubitz was said to have been breathing normally.

A first officer, Lubitz had been flying for Germanwings since September 2013 after being trained with the airline’s parent company, Lufthansa, in Bremen. He had clocked up 630 hours in the air.

The Lufthansa chief executive, Carsten Spohr, said Lubitz had passed all the psychological tests required for training and undergone regular physical examinations.

He told a press conference on Thursday that Lubitz had started training in 2008 - first working as a flight attendant - and there was nothing unusual in the results of his training, but acknowledged there had been a gap without saying what had caused it.

Andreas Lubitz: co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 - profile | World news | The Guardian

Greece optimistic on deal with euro zone next week

Greece is optimistic about reaching a deal on economic reforms with its euro zone peers early next week, unblocking urgently needed funding, its economy minister said on Thursday.

After talks with EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the past week, Athens said it would present a package of reforms to its euro zone partners by Monday in the hope of unlocking aid and avoiding bankruptcy.

"I believe that at the beginning of next week we will have an agreement on the package of reforms the Greek government is proposing, and on the funding of the country," Economy Minister George Stathakis told Antenna TV.

He did not specify when the list would be sent.

The reforms are a sensitive issue for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's leftwing government, which came to power in January pledging to end austerity.

It is not clear whether they will include measures agreed by the previous conservative-led government, such as privatizations and pension reforms.

Euro zone authorities have said Athens, which has been kept afloat by EU/IMF bailouts worth 240 billion euros since 2010, will not get any further aid until the reforms are approved by the bloc's finance ministers.

A source familiar with Greece's financial position told Reuters on Tuesday Athens would run out of money on April 20 without new cash.


Read more: Greece optimistic on deal with euro zone next week | Reuters

Middle East - Yemen: Saudi and Arab allies bomb Houthi positions in Yemen

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies have launched a military operation in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, who deposed the US-backed Yemeni president last month.

Adel al-Jubair, Saudi ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday that a coalition consisting of 10 countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), had begun airstrikes at 7pm Eastern time.

"The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country," Jubair told reporters in Washington.

The Houthi-run health ministry in Sanaa said that at least 18 civilians were killed and 24 others were wounded in the Saudi-led airstrikes on the capital.

Huge explosions were heard in Sanaa as strikes hit an airbase at Sanaa airport and other locations in the capital, an AFP correspondent reported.

Strikes were also reported on targets in the Malaheez and Hafr Sufyan regions of Saada province, a main Houthi stronghold on the border with Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Saudi and Arab allies bomb Houthi positions in Yemen - Al Jazeera English

France:- Air disaster: Pilots Recognized Signs of Suicide In Germanwings Crash

Even before a French prosecutor said that the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 had crashed the plane deliberately, pilots in online forums were saying the available evidence pointed to a suicide flight.

“Travelling in excess of VMO in a A320 disconnects the AP and triggers the high speed protections which pitch the aircraft up,” a user named Capt Kremin wrote Thursday on PPRuNe, a pilot forum. “This aircraft did not pitch up. Which probably means it was being over-ridden by whomever was flying it.”

The prosecutor, Brice Robin, said co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, pressed a button that accelerated the Airbus A320’s descent while his pilot was in the bathroom. “The intention was to destroy the plane,” Robin said.

Some pilots on PPRuNe are now calling for the mental health of pilots to be taken more seriously. A user named LadyL2013 wrote, “Considering the prevalence of MH problems most of us have probably been piloted by a sufferer. I think when you make it a very taboo thing, it drives it underground and problems may only get worse. Indeed I would encourage a very open and honest MH culture within aviation where a sufferer can be assessed and treated so that if possible they can continue their career with the appropriate support.”

Read more: Pilots Recognized Signs of Suicide In Germanwings Crash

3/25/15

The Netherlands: "Can’t touch this": Muslim students sue Dutch medical university over physical exam

Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Two Muslim students have filed a case against Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam after a request for an exemption from the physical examination requirement was turned down. The curriculum requires a cross-sex physical exam by course mates.

The two Muslim girls filed a case against Erasmus MC at the Board of Appeal for Higher Education in The Hague, De Volkskrant daily reported Tuesday.
 
All students in the course must go through a physical examination provided by their fellow students. The exam involves looking at the chest, abdomen, and legs, and must be performed both by a male and female student.

The requirement raised concerns among the Muslim students, who did not want to be examined by a male.

However, they stressed that in the future they would practice without making such distinctions.
 
One of them initially applied for an exemption, but her request was denied. Although the other student has already completed the subject, she decided to support her colleague at the Board of Appeals.

David Drexhage from Erasmus MC says the practical experience student gain during such exams is important for their professional skills. “The students also have to experience how an examination feels for a patient. That promotes understanding.

Students are aware that this part of the studying process is required during enrollment, he added.

Erasmus MC believes that if the Board of Appeals makes a decision in favor of the students, it will have profound implications for the entire course procedure. The Board of Appeals is expected to make a decision in about six weeks.

Note EU-Digest: Lets hope the  'Board of Appeals' does not cave in to this utterly incomprehensible request by students who have chosen the medical profession, where these procedures are common day practice. 

Reading this you also realize that Islam is in "deep need" of reformers like the Christians had in the 16th century with Martin Luther and John Calvin. They brought religious, political, intellectual and cultural renewal that splintered the radical Catholic Europe of those days, setting in place the political structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. 

Come on, it's 2015 now and Muslims are still hanging on to medieval customs and rituals. If Muslims  want  the "others" to remove the Islamophobia label they put on them, they should "put their money where their mouth is", or as some would say, "wake-up and smell the roses" - do something about it. Don't blame everyone else but yourselves !

As to the two girls who sued the Erasmus University, the suggestion would be, why don't they go to a University in a Muslim country, or anywhere else for that matter,  if they can't  live with the rules at Erasmus? 

Read more: Can’t touch this: Muslim students sue Dutch medical university over physical exam — RT News

Ukraine's latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies - by Fred Weir,

As Ukraine struggles with near-financial meltdown and a shaky peace deal with pro-Russian rebels in the east, the last thing it needs is a showdown with a powerful oligarch with a private army. But that may be just what is brewing.

Igor Kolomoisky, governor of the restive Dnipropetrovsk region of east Ukraine and a rough-and-tumble tycoon, was handed political power and the right to establish an army in the wake of last year's Maidan revolution. Last week, he triggered what some are calling a serious political crisis by using that force to seize the state oil company's headquarters in Kiev.

At stake, experts say, is a harsh redivision of property and influence under way as Ukraine tries to meet International Monetary Fund demands for deep reforms to its oligarch-dominated economy.

The standoff at the oil company escalated Tuesday as Mr. Kolomoisky's supporters in Dnipropetrovsk announced that they will stage a huge rally Wednesday in support of greater regional "decentralization" and more cash from Kiev.

Read more: Ukraine's latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies - CSMonitor.com

Israel: Obama White House accuses Israel of spying to undermine Iran talks - by Paula Rogo

Members of the Obama White House are alleging that Israel has not only been spying on nuclear negotiations with Iran but has been using the information gleaned to undermine the efforts of the United States.

The already strained relationship between the White House and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a nosedive after the Israeli leader spoke to Congress on Iran, a move the White House felt was designed to undermine the president's efforts. Then, during campaigning for elections last week that will almost certainly see Mr. Netanyahu lead Israel's next coalition, he vowed never to allow a Palestinian state to emerge on his watch – undermining the premise of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Obama's frustration can now be seen in a greater willingness to place stories critical of Israel in the press.

 Unnamed White House officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, say Israeli spies eavesdropped on the Iran nuclear talks as part of an effort to upend moves toward sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for a reduction in the scope of its program. US officials are most upset by Israel’s efforts to upset the talks by using the information gained from the spying in Netanyahu’s speech to Congress earlier this month.

Read more: Obama White House accuses Israel of spying to undermine Iran talks (+video) - CSMonitor.com

GMO Foods and Pesticides: Monsanto seeks retraction of WHO report linking herbicide to cancer - by Carey Gillam

Monsanto Co, maker of the world’s most widely-used herbicide, Roundup, wants an international health organization to retract a report linking the chief ingredient in Roundup to cancer.

The company said on Tuesday that the report, issued on Friday by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was biased and contradicts regulatory findings that the ingredient, glyphosate, is safe when used as labeled.

Monsanto Co, maker of the world’s most widely-used herbicide, Roundup, wants an international health organization to retract a report linking the chief ingredient in Roundup to cancer.

The company said on Tuesday that the report, issued on Friday by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was biased and contradicts regulatory findings that the ingredient, glyphosate, is safe when used as labeled.


Read more: Monsanto seeks retraction of WHO report linking herbicide to cancer - The Globe and Mail

3/24/15

Air Crash: France - Live: Black box found at Germanwings crash site in French Alps

A Germanwings flight carrying 144 passengers and six crew from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed Tuesday in the southern French Alps, aviation authorities said. French transport officials said there were no survivors.French President François Hollande called the crash "a tragedy on our soil''.

"We still don't know much beyond the bare information on the flight, and there should be no speculation on the cause of the crash," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin. "All that will be investigated thoroughly."

There were no survivors from the crash of flight 4U9525, said Alain Vidalies, France's junior minister of transport.

Brandet told BFM television that he expected the search and recovery operation to be "extremely long and extremely difficult'' due to the remoteness of the crash site.

Read more: France - Live: Black box found at Germanwings crash site in French Alps - France 24