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6/30/05

Business Insurance:Climate change to drive up storm losses

Business Insurance

Climate change to drive up storm losses

Climate change could result in as much as a two-thirds increase in the worldwide cost of major storms by the 2080s, according to the Assn. of British Insurers.

In a global analysis of the potential effects of projected climate-change trends on the three major storm types—U.S. hurricanes, Japanese typhoons and European windstorms—the ABI estimates that annual losses, both insured and uninsured, from such storms could rise to $27 billion by the 2080s.

Bloomberg.com: European Union Is Fighting About More Than Money- by Mark Gilbert

Bloomberg.com

Devious Ton y Blair: European Union Is Fighting About More Than Money by Mark Gilbert

It's not clear why Blair capitulated on the plebiscite. The fact that it was first reported in the Sun newspaper has aroused speculation Blair did a deal with its proprietor, Rupert Murdoch. Maybe Murdoch, no fan of the EU, pledged the backing of his publications for Blair in the national elections earlier this year in return for a ballot in which the British public was likely to vote against the constitution.

The referendum promise certainly allowed Blair to ignore the issue of the U.K.'s role in Europe during the election, even as it left France feeling betrayed. Thus Chirac, rightly or wrongly, lays the blame for the current European crisis on both its budget and its constitution at the door of 10 Downing Street. When Brown talks about ``changes Europe must make to meet the competitive challenges of globalization,'' the French detect the odious odor of Americanism in his words. And while the British press bangs on about how Europe needs a dose of Thatcherism to lick its economy into shape, the French don't view socialism as a dirty word. Measures such as the 35-hour work week are seen as a triumph of worker protection, not an impediment to growth.

FT.com- UK retail gloom deepens

FT.com

UK retail gloom deepens

High street sales suffered their worst year-on-year fall for 22 years in June as many retailers pulled forward the summer sales in order to lure reluctant shoppers, according to a survey by the CBI, the employers’ group

6/29/05

Scotsman.com News - EU to Present Draft Entry Plan for Turkey

Scotsman.com News

EU to Present Draft Entry Plan for Turkey

The European Union head office in Brussels is to present its proposed road map for negotiating membership talks with Turkey today – negotiations that are expected to last at least a decade. The plan for membership talks moves the 25-nation bloc a step closer to opening negotiations with Turkey, which are expected to start ON October 3 if the country meets all entry requirements.

Sofia News Agency: Luxembourg Ratifies EU Constitution

Sofia News Agency

Luxembourg Ratifies EU Constitution

Luxembourg's Parliament ratified the battered EU Constitution on Tuesday. All 55 lawmakers present voted in favour of the constitution, with five MPs from the ADR party not present for the vote.

6/28/05

Economist.com: How others see Americans -Still not loved. Now not envied

Economist.com

How others see Americans -Still not loved. Now not envied

American officials usually downplay negative opinions as products of policy disputes or personal animosity, not hostility to the country itself. George Bush remains about as popular as a germ at a medical conference, and public support for the war on terror has slipped markedly in many European countries. This time, though, some American policies are actually popular. People in all 16 countries surveyed said America's relief effort after the Asian tsunami inclined them more favourably towards it (this may explain the sharp improvement in Indonesian opinion). Most countries responded well to President Bush's calls for democracy in the Middle East—though more so in Europe than in the region itself.

The survey was conducted during the referendum campaigns in France and the Netherlands over the EU constitution. But scepticism about the future of their union does not imply that Europeans want closer transatlantic ties. Half or more in every non-American country surveyed said they wanted Europe to be more independent of the United States, and huge majorities—between 70% and 80%—said they thought the world would be better off if America faced a rival military power.

Forbes.com: EU's Almunia sees signs of pick-up in economy this year

Forbes.com

EU's Almunia sees signs of pick-up in economy this year

European economy and monetary policy commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in Il Sole 24 Ore that recent economic indicators shows signs of a pick up in the economy during this year.
In an interview Saturday, he said that the high oil price is 'a big risk' for the recovery, but that recent indicators on industry orders, manufacturing and investor confidence indicate 'a certain recovery. 'There are signals that allow for a forecast of a real recovery in the course of the year,' he said. In other comments, Almunia said that keeping deficits under control will help stimulate growth, rather than hinder it, as some EU leaders argue

VOA News - Hungary Proposes Temporary Budget for European Union

VOA News

Hungary Proposes Temporary Budget for European Union

The Hungarian government is proposing a transitional budget for the European Union to give the member countries time to work out a more permanent funding solution. In the words of one Hungarian official, "the worst compromise is better than no budget at all." Hungary unveiled its proposal during a visit by British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott whose government is taking over the rotating presidency of the 25-nation European Union.

Women from ethnic minorities outstrip their men in the emancipation race

Radio Nederlands

"Women from ethnic minorities outstrip their men in the emancipation race
by Arwen van Grafhorst, 28 June 2005

Second generation emancipationA newly published report in the Netherlands shows that women from ethnic minorities who were born here are more emancipated than their husbands, and that this is often the cause of tension within their relationships. This is also one of the main reasons why some Dutch-born Turkish and Moroccan men still prefer to choose partners who were born in Morocco or Turkey. The practise could cause significant problems for the third generation of these relative newcomers to the Netherlands."

M@C NEWS: European Union threatens Bulgaria with entry delay

MNC NEWS

European Union threatens Bulgaria with entry delay

The EU spokeswoman said that the Commission respected the results of the Bulgarian parliamentary elections on Saturday, in which the previously opposition Socialists became the largest party but failed to obtain a majority of seats. "We call for a quick formation of the government, so that the necessary reforms can continue," she said. "There is no time to lose."
Bulgaria and Romania both are due to accede to the Union in January 2007, but that date can be postponed if reforms stipulated by the Union are not met - particularly in the matters of the judiciary and the elimination of corruption.

6/27/05

Bloomberg.com:Indian Air May Place $2.2 Bln Order for Airbus Planes

Bloomberg

Indian Air May Place $2.2 Bln Order for Airbus Planes

Indian Airlines wants four Airbus A320 planes, 20 of the A319 models and 19 A321s to replace some of the 65 aircraft in its fleet and to expand, according to its proposal. India's public investment board, which approves large investments by state-owned companies, approved Indian Airlines' purchase plan in November. The civil aviation ministry has since been negotiating final prices with Toulouse, France-based Airbus and also sought opinion from other ministries.

counterpunch.org: Bush's Lonely Campaign Against Chavez -by Mark Weisbrot

counterpunch.org

Bush's Lonely Campaign Against Chavez-by Mark Weisbrot

It's pretty hard to make a case that Venezuela is less democratic than other Latin American countries, and no respectable human rights organization has tried to do so.

The Venezuelan economy is booming, millions of poor people have access to health care and subsidized food for the first time, and President Chavez' approval ratings have soared to more than 70% -- according to opposition pollsters. Still, the Bush administration perseveres on its lonely road. The most recent embarrassment came at the Organization of American States meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this month, when the United States failed to convince other countries that the OAS should monitor and evaluate "democracy" within member countries. It was widely seen as an attempt to use the OAS against Venezuela, to which other countries responded by saying, "Please take your fight elsewhere."

Aljazeera.Net - British artist spreads universal message

Aljazeera.Net

British artist spreads universal message

Mohammed Ali is no ordinary artist. For the 26-year-old from Birmingham, United Kingdom, art is a fusion of ancient Islamic script mixed with a modern edge, adding appeal to a younger generation of art lovers.
Ali also has a message. "Spreading salam is a powerful, strong message. I choose words that inspire me but keep the art form as graffiti," he told Aljazeera.net.
He chooses words such as dhikr (remembrance), sabr (patience) and ilm (knowledge) – words he says have a universal meaning regardless of race and religion.
"These are negative times for Muslims, so we should use all platforms - art is a universal means of communication; we need to create bridges between cultures and religions.

World - smh.com.au: Time to rethink EU politics, says France

World - smh.com.au

Time to rethink EU politics, says France

European Union enlargement should be suspended and France must rethink its EU politics, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said today.

Sarkozy, who is also head of President Jacques Chirac's centre-right governing UMP party, said France's rejection of the EU constitution in a referendum in May showed the need for several changes. "We have to rethink and rework our European politics," he said. The comments came after a meeting of political party leaders, chaired by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, on the lessons to be learned from France's "no" vote to the EU constitution.

Technocrat.net: European Union Keeps Ban on GM Crops

Technocrat.net

European Union Keeps Ban on GM Crops

"The European Union has decided to retain the ban on genetically modified crops, despite lobbying pressure from the UK reps in favor of it. This could potentially cause some sort of trade war with the United States." European and Japanese studies show that long-term effects on humans and animals, as a result of consumption of genetically modified crops, have not yet been proven as safe.

6/26/05

STUFF : New Iran leader vows moderation

STUFf

New Iran leader vows moderation

President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Tehran mayor told his first news conference Iran had no real need for ties with the United States, often dubbed the "Great Satan" in the Islamic Republic. But he said Iran would not abandon talks on its nuclear programme with the European Union, although negotiations would be based on Tehran's "national interest".

AINA: Turkey Not Willing to Accept New EU Criteria for Membership

AINA

Turkey Not Willing to Accept New EU Criteria for Membership

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would not agree to new conditions for European Union membership. Turkey is scheduled to start membership negotiations with the bloc on Oct. 3. But opposition to the country's membership bid is growing in Europe, and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said this week that the bloc should have an open debate of Turkey's candidacy

Erdogan rejected any talk of changing the conditions for Turkey's bid, telling reporters late Saturday that "Turkey is not in the situation of renegotiating anything. "If you impose new things on countries from one day to the next, especially at a time when negotiations are about to start, that would not be right, that would not be proper," he said. "We're used to honest politics, that's what we expect and want."

Many European voters are balking at letting in the "poor", predominantly Muslim country of 70 million people, a move that would extend the EU's borders to Syria and Iran.

JS Online: Vision of strong Europe crumbling

JS Online

Vision of strong Europe crumblingVision of strong Europe crumbling

Europe's long march toward unification has faltered, and its political leadership and economic policies are in doubt.

"Anybody who is in favor of growth in the U.S. cannot look at the events in Europe and say, 'Oh, gee, it doesn't really matter,' " said economist Adam Posen, in a gloomy assessment delivered last week to a think-tank crowd pondering the question, "Whither Europe?" Declared Posen, "This is bad news."

It wasn't too long ago that the vision of a robust, unified, European "counterweight" to the U.S. was a hot topic in foreign policy circles.

Georgetown Professor Charles Kupchan wrote a book on that theme three years ago. But at a briefing the other day, Kupchan predicted a 75% chance "that the EU is going to remain weak, decentralized and confused for the foreseeable future."

Christianity Today Magazine: Promoting and Uniting European Evangelicals

Christianity Today Magazine

At the beginning of this month, former Pentecostal pastor, TV producer, and Danish politician Tove Videbaek assumed her role as the European Evangelical Alliance's representative to the European Union in Brussels. Her daunting task is making sure that Europe's evangelicals are heard by E.U.'s governing bodies and that the implications of EU's decisions register with the evangelicals. She spoke about her new job by e-mail with Christianity Today associate editor Agnieszka Tennant.

Update: Iraq Coalition Casualties

Update Iraq Coalition Casualties

Latest update Iraq Coalition casualties: Total number of US servicemen and women killed 1737, Britsh troops: 89; other coalition troops 99. Total number of seriously wounded: 12855

6/25/05

EU-Digest: What is bad (or good) for the EU- by Joaquín Roy

EU-Digest

What is bad (or good) for the EU-by Joaquín Roy

"Believing that a marooned Europe will be friendlier to U.S. interests is an illusory calculation from a political and strategic angle. It is also damaging for the national security of the United States. The last thing Bush needs now is a debilitated and introspected Europe.

In the first place, the negative vote may give the impression that it is actually a rejection of a regulatory EU that wants to control the market, and a support for the welfare state, and an enemy of foreign investors. On the contrary, a notable part of the “no” vote believes that the design proposed in the Constitution is too business-oriented. Now the EU leadership will receive the heat to side with the people.

On the other hand, an important sector on the right has rejected the project for nationalistic reasons. It is fearful of immigration and opposed to EU enlargement, especially to Turkey. This sector will capture once again the anti-US sentiment, with a more damaging impact than the one emanating from the left. This racist and ultra nationalist band will extend to the United States the accusation of the alleged loss of national identity.

Whatever their actual numbers, the fact is that the ranks of the opposition are very vocal, are able to pull all the populist triggers, and can control public demonstrations. In sum, they can afford to be intransigent and intolerant to guarantee, for example, the rigidity of the markets, not exactly in the best interest of U.S. investment.

Within this panorama, the moderate sectors that form the grand coalition (social democrats and centrist conservatives) that has made the current EU possible will feel intimidated. They will then elect to back national interests, not always coinciding with the U.S. From Airbus subsidies, support in Iraq, ideological battles such as the International Criminal Court, dispute clashes at the WTO, and cultural confrontation, all may become a weapon in times of confrontation.

Although it is too early for safe predictions, it is nonetheless certain that the pressure to leap forward will be strong for the formation of a series of European “reinforced cooperation” schemes (in foreign policy and defense especially), because they will respond to the nationalist pressure from the electorate. This is not exactly what the White House was expecting, waiting for a slow and consensual process, installed in a constitutional text that would take time to be fully implemented.

To paraphrase Calvin Coolidge, the ones who believe that what is bad (or good) for Europe is good for America may get a shock."

Forex Rate:The Idea of Europe

Forex Rate

The Idea of Europe

The United States, it is often said, is more of an idea than a place... It is an idea that has compelled millions of people from every nation to come and join in a grand experiment of human liberty and opportunity.

Europe, or at least the concept of a united Europe, is no less an idea. It is certainly not a country. Not yet, and maybe not ever. Composed of multiple countries with multiple languages and multiple currencies and a very diverse population who have many individual thoughts on what being European means, Europe is trying to find out what kind of an idea it is. Is it a continent with many countries or is it a country which spans a continent? And if it is a country, what will be the basic philosophies which drive it? What is the idea that will be Europe?

The Globalist: The Future of the Transatlantic Project by Nicholas Burns

The Globalist > Global Politics

The United States and Europe are no longer united by the common project of Germany and the challenges of the East-West divide. What can take its place? Nicholas Burns — U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs — maps out where he sees a common purpose. In his view, the longtime allies must now look outside their borders and expand their joint mission internationally.

ekathimerini.com: Greece - Over-reaction

ekathimerini.com

Greece- Over-reaction

The European economy and society enjoy the fruits of prosperity brought about by new investment, the creation of new jobs and the possibility of serving greater numbers of consumers. Besides, commerce and profit ultimately serve consumers, not just storeowners or employees.

The Greek economy has been held back for many years by artificial distortions that were created long ago to protect the interests of certain socio-economic classes from the tough realities of the marketplace. These, however, led only to unemployment and even impoverishment of part of the population. Another major contributing factor has been the woeful lack of investment, especially outside the capital and in the provinces, where youth unemployment remains distressingly high.

The same parliamentary bill paves the way for greater EU support for commercial enterprises. For the first time, it is generally recognized that commercial activity demands heavy and ongoing investment if it is to survive and prosper, and so this will be funded more generously by EU monies. This change may seem equally self-evident, but it too was not previously on offer.

Extending store hours is one of the important innovations that the government has attempted after putting an end to permanent appointments at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and streamlining banks’ social insurance funds. All of these changes have prompted complaints and strikes among interested parties, but they are also self-evidently necessary if the Greek economy is to become more competitive than hitherto.

HoustonChronicle.com - Anti-EU: New pope's book criticizes European Union, abortion laws

HoustonChronicle.com

Anti-EU: New pope's book criticizes European Union, abortion laws

The Europe of Benedict, in the Crisis of Cultures contains material first written in 1992 and updated as recently as early this year, shortly before Benedict's election, according to the Cantagalli publishing house. There are no immediate plans for an English translation.

Ratzinger was a stern critic of the European Union's refusal to make any mention of the continent's Christian roots in a proposed constitution, seeing it as another symptom of a continent of increasingly empty churches often hostile to religion.

He blamed the "cynicism of a secularized culture that negates its own roots" and took issue with those who contend Jews or Muslims would be offended by mentioning Christianity in the charter.

AntiWar.com: US Image Abroad Still Sinking - by Jim Lobe

Antiwar.com

US Image Abroad Still Sinking - by Jim Lobe

Washington's image in Europe, Canada and much of the Islamic world remains broadly negative, according to the latest in a series of surveys of public opinion in 16 countries sponsored by the Pew Global Attitudes Project (PGAP).

While some of the hostility, particularly in Muslim countries immediately after the 2003 invasion, has abated somewhat, the overall opinion of the U.S. public voiced by the citizens of Washington's traditional allies and in the Islamic world has continued to fall over the past two years, according to the survey and accompanying analysis.

Consistent with pre-U.S. election surveys of foreign countries last fall, the reelection of US President George W. Bush is seen almost universally as tarnishing the country's image abroad.

6/24/05

RIA Novosti - Minister: Ukraine chooses EU customs system

RIA Novosti

Minister: Ukraine chooses EU customs system

"Ukrainian Economics Minister Sergei Terekhin said Ukraine decided to choose the EU customs systems. It is impossible to join two customs systems at the same time," he said following a session here Friday of the high level group for the formation of the Common Economic Space, which comprises Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

JTW News - The way I think after Srebrenica tape

JTW News

"National heroes are part of a cultural identity. What kind of cultural identity should we expect from a nation whose heroes are Mladic and Karadzic? The answer is not easy and a positive one for Serbs. Instead of blaming Serbs, we tried to understand them. Serbia as a country and nation has been at the cross roads of wars and disputes. Is Serbia traumatized by all these wars? Can we conclude that Serbian people are not thinking the way we think?

In the orthodox world, there is this image of Turks. I have mails from Armenian and Greek readers, those claim Turks are not as they were described. Nearly all claims that we(Turks and Greeks, Turks and Armenians) are so similar. In one real life story told to me by an academician, an Armenian who promised himself to spit to every Turks’ face he meets, was stunned by the similarities between himself and a Turk, they went for a drink after an hour or so.

The Turks in the fantasies of the Serbs, Armenians and Greeks have no relation whatsoever with Turks. They are just “the other” puppet used by authorities to gain ground domestically. Greeks are slowly embracing the real Turks. The similarities between two nations surpass the disputes between each other. When a Greek sits with a Turk he may talk about three or four disputes, but they can talk for days about the common points.

Now, I believe, it is time for Serbs to wake up from the hallucinations. To achieve this, education is a must. Education is the key to wake up people from dreams to realities. For example, there must be a student exchange programs between two nations. Serbs may think that they are better than Turks, but the new generation in Turkey has a potential. Even this year, I was surprised by a Leonardo da Vinci project from a high school student from Trabzon about nanotechnology. They should see Turkey and judge their fantasies.

In terms of nationalism, most of the Balkans think that Turks are like them, nationalist. We talked about it a lot, we are not nationalist but patriotic. Turkish nationalism is very hard to implement, because there are lots of groups and races in Turkey. It is hard to define a race as Turkic race. Instead, as appeared in the Economist few weeks ago, being a Turk is more or less defined with sentences like “strong family relations, risk takers and etc.” On the other hand, Turkish nationalism is a one of its kind. Turkish nationalists are annoyingly relaxed people. Whenever you ask them about their policies, they will say “We will sort it out”. Of course what is meant by “sorting out” is a mystery, because most of the nationalist are silent and calm figures in Turkish society. As one high ranking nationalist puts it, young generation of nationalists are more interested in girls than politics.

Serbia, with Russia, is key to the peace in the Balkans and with the crisis EU and US struggling, the region may turn to bloodbath. Turkey, although reluctant, must calculate and consider the future of Balkans for the sake of its stability. The peace and stability in the region is –as always been, the priority of Turkey. To achieve this, there had to be constructive policies. Policies those need the cooperation of Russians, Turks, Serbs, Bosnians, Croatians, Albanians and Macedonians. The process may be painful and may require lots of commitments from both parties, but doesn’t it worth for our children?"

EUROPA - Rapid: Opening remarks by Vladimir Špidla at the “Restructuring” Forum in Brussels - Highly skilled jobs increased by 20% to 24% of jobs

EUROPA Rapid

Excerpts of opening remarks by Vladimir Špidla Member of the European Commission responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities at the “Restructuring” Forum

"We can see that, every year, ten percent (10%) of European businesses are set up or wound up. Fifteen percent (15%) of jobs are lost, and fifteen point five percent (15.5%) are created.
Every day, in every Member State, five (5 000) to fifteen thousand (15 000) jobs are created or shed. But the concrete net result of this constant adaptation to change can be seen from one single figure: between 1977 and 2002, Europe created thirty million jobs.


But today, Europe is really feeling the effects of two major changes:

- globalisation of trade which is moving forward at a pace not seen for a hundred years;

- technological change which is bringing about what, since the Lisbon Summit, we have been calling the “knowledge-based economy”.

Europe is capable of mastering these changes and to take advantage of them. In this context, I would like to recall that the “web” is a European invention. What we are seeing today is the acceleration of two main types of restructuring which call for political responses at different levels.

Europe is seeing the emergence of “fabless”, or factoryless, companies. The so-called “value production chain” is following a new model: localised production in one place in a single region or district is being replaced by production networks with a coordinating contractor, subcontractors and suppliers. Information technology means that they can be located anywhere on the planet. This no longer applies only to manufacturing industry, but also to the services sector, including qualified service providers. This kind of restructuring hits workers and their communities the hardest: if a factory closes down they are affected directly, while the creation of new subcontracting or design jobs is more widely spread.

Restructuring of this nature calls for specific proactive and reactive supportive measures which are geared closely to the regions or businesses concerned.

This is what the Social Fund did in 2003, when the lead and zinc manufacturer Métaleurope announced that it was ceasing its activities in Noyelle-Godault in northern France. Rapid intervention by the European Social Fund enabled these workers, over 200 of whom were aged over 50, to be redeployed. The same happened when Rover closed down recently in the Midlands. There was immediate and constructive cooperation between the Commission and the British Government which allowed Social Fund resources to be channelled into providing individual support and retraining for over 2 000 workers.

The pace of restructuring is also increasing across sectors. There has been a constant drain on employment in the manufacturing industry and agriculture, which have lost some fifteen (15) million jobs in the last 25 years, while over forty-four (44) million jobs have been created in the services sector.

This has also had an impact on the skills distribution pattern. Highly skilled jobs increased by 20% to 24% of jobs in EU-15 between 1995 and 2004, while low-skilled jobs dropped by 34% to 25%.The challenge facing us is therefore clear. Europe must build a basis for dynamic and sustainable growth. It will not do so by specialising in unskilled labour-intensive activities. (Like in the US). Success depends on investing in “human capital” i.e. in the three mutually complementary areas of research, innovation and education."

GEO World News - European Union not opposed to Iran pipeline

GEO World News

European Union not opposed to Iran pipeline

The European Union has said it is not opposed to a $4.16 billion pipeline project to pump gas from Iran to India through Pakistan.

"Our position on Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline project is different from that of the United States," which was against the project, a senior EU official told visiting Indian journalists. The EU, which has tremendous expertise on energy conservation, is scheduled is to kick-off energy dialogue at the foreign secretary level on June 29 here. The Indian delegation will be headed by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran.

6/23/05

Scotsman.com - Edinburgh: The magnificent seven - The Royal Highland Food Show this weekend expects to attract an audience of 150,000 visitors

Scotsman.com

The Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh this weekend expects to attract an audience of 150,000 visitors

This indoor exhibition is Scotland's biggest annual showcase of food and drink, gathering together Scottish exhibitors and the crème de la crème of English, Welsh and European producers, for a four-day-long gourmet market. With around 100 different companies selling their cheeses, meats, game, confectionery and beverages, even the most knowledgeable food lover could struggle when it comes to deciding what to take home.

BAVARIAN HOSPITALITY AND FINE DINING AT L'EUROPE, ST.ANDREWS, NEW BRUNSWICK, SHOWCASES EUROPEAN CULINARY SAVY

EU DIGEST: special report

BAVARIAN HOSPITALITY AND FINE DINING AT L'EUROPE, ST.ANDREWS BY THE SEA, NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA, SHOWCASES EUROPEAN CULINARY SAVY

Tourists visiting the town of St. Andrews, located in the southwest corner of New Brunswick, Canada, on the scenic Passamaquoddy Bay, with its famous gridiron street plan, and its quiet, tree lined residential quarters, are in for a variety of pleasant surprises. Settled by loyalists after the American Revolution, St. Andrews today continues to reflect the dominant themes of loyalist social order - peace, order and stability, and over the years also added some very fine hotels, inns and restaurants. One of them, the Europa Inn and Restaurant, deserves special attention, not only because it has historical value, but also because it showcases the quality of European culinary expertise. The owners of this establishment are Markus and Simone Ritter, who moved to St. Andrews on the Sea from Bavaria at the beginning of this millennium, when they became the owners of the L'Europe restaurant. Trained in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Master Chef Markus Ritter has been in the business of food since 1984 and became a master chef in 1998... and it shows. The L'Europe has a delicious menu, featuring fresh local seafood, meats and vegetables,.. and it is recommended to leave some room following the bounty of national, international and European specialties, to enjoy delectable European desserts. St.Andrews by the Sea is not only a great place to vacation, but L'Europe also makes it a showcase of European culinary savy.

www.foodnavigator.com: Europe's food agency confirms excess salt risk

www.foodnavigator.com

Europe's food agency confirms excess salt risk

Joining the lively salt debate scientists at Europe’s food watchdog today issues an opinion concerning the upper limit for sodium intake and confirm current consumption levels are a risk factor in heart and renal diseases. “While sodium is an essential nutrient, dietary intakes in Europe today far exceed nutritional requirements,” say the EFSA scientists. They conclude that it is not possible to determine a level of sodium intake, beyond the recommended dietary intake, which does not have an adverse effect. Eating too much salt is widely believed to be a significant risk factor in developing high blood pressure, itself a cause or contributing factor in the rising incidence of heart disease, the world’s number one killer. And recent figures from the UK’s Food Standards Agency claim that every day at least 26 million people eat more than the recommended daily limit of 6g of salt. Men are eating the most with a daily average of 11.0g of salt while women consume an average of 8.1g a day. Although this mineral is present at low levels in foods, its main source is in the diet, about 70-75 per cent of total intake comes from processed foods, say the researchers at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

BBC: Full text: Blair's European speech at EU Parliament

BBC
Full text: Blair's European speech at EU Parliament

"I am a passionate pro-European. I always have been. My first vote was in 1975 in the British referendum on membership and I voted yes. In 1983, when I was the last candidate in the UK to be selected shortly before that election and when my party had a policy of withdrawing from Europe, I told the selection conference that I disagreed with the policy. Some thought I had lost the selection. Some perhaps wish I had. I then helped change our policy in the 1980's and was proud of that change.

Since being Prime Minister I signed the Social Chapter, helped, along with France, to create the modern European Defence Policy, have played my part in the Amsterdam, the Nice, then the Rome Treaties.

This is a union of values, of solidarity between nations and people, of not just a common market in which we trade but a common political space in which we live as citizens.

It always will be. I believe in Europe as a political project. I believe in Europe with a strong and caring social dimension. I would never accept a Europe that was simply an economic market."

Telegraph: Blair jeered during EU parliament speech

Telegraph

Blair jeered during EU parliament speech

Tony Blair was greeted with polite applause and some jeers as he addressed the European parliament on taking up the EU's presidency. Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, said reconnecting with people required a European programme of prosperity and solidarity. Mr Blair was a statesman whose presidency had raised high expectations. He won applause when he took a dig at Mr Blair's participation in the group of six countries demanding that EU spending be pegged at 1 per cent of combined national wealth - a recipe for "reducing Europe's ambitions", warned Mr Barroso. He added: "We believe in Europe as a political project and I hope the British presidency will give an important push to a political Europe and a dynamic Europe."

6/22/05

International Herald Tribune: Polish EU official warns on budget

International Herald TribunePolish EU official warns on budget

Polish EU official warns on budget

In an impassioned defense of European political solidarity, Hubner said in the interview with the IHT that the refusal by richer Western countries to pay more into the budget, as well as the rejection by French and Dutch voters of the EU constitutional treaty, was a signal to East European countries that they were not welcome in the EU. Hubner, a former European affairs minister in her country, became Poland's first European commissioner last year. "The new member states would like to see they are welcome and that their concerns are taken into account," she said. "They feel their positive contribution to the EU is underestimated." The delay in payments to the new members from Eastern Europe is a consequence of the acrimonious breakup of a summit meeting last week, when EU leaders failed to agree on a budget for 2007 to 2013 of €800 billion to €900 billion, or $970 billion to $1 trillion. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain insisted Tuesday that the EU could reach an agreement on the budget during the next six months, when Britain holds the EU presidency, in time for the seven-year financial package to come into effect in January 2007. She said the delay would seriously undermine the EU's plans to pour resources into new programs to improve Europe's competitiveness and growth, especially in poorer regions in the new member states. The EU has been promoting these programs, focusing on new technologies and innovation, as crucial to Europe's catching up with the fast-growing economies of Asia and with the United States. "We should be aware of the consequences," she said. "We are already on the wrong side of the river in terms of negative impact on our future, on our capacity to launch growth."

Independent: Blair's concession to European critics is rebuffed as Ahern joins attack on rebate

Independent"Blair's concession to European critics is rebuffed as Ahern joins attack on rebate

Downing Street is worried that Britain has alienated natural allies, including the 10 new members who joined the EU last year, by blocking a deal at the summit. Mr Blair's official spokesman made clear that he would trade the rebate for cuts in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), saying that the British public would accept that as "a price worth paying".

But Mr Blair will not escape further criticism from Britain's EU partners.

The Irish premier Bertie Ahern said plans by Mr Blair to link reform of the EU's CAP with its EU rebate was a dishonest and unfair argument. Mr Ahern said he totally disagreed with Mr Blair's position on the EU budget which caused a stalemate at last week's European Council summit. Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, which holds the EU's presidency, will defend his handling of the summit today and challenge Mr Blair's credentials as a reformer of European farm subsidies. He will address the European Parliament a day before Mr Blair outlines to MEPs Britain's goals for its six-month presidency starting on 1 July. Mr Juncker said that the budget dispute represented "a fundamental divergence about the way Europe will develop". He will say today that, in 2002, Mr Blair signed up to the agreement on agriculture spending he has since targeted so publicly. He is expected to remind Britain it endorsed this policy 18 months ago in a letter with five other countries calling for a break on EU spending." There is a groundswell developing in European capitals that maybe Britain's Tony Blair wants the EU to fall apart in order to strengthen British interests in the world. History seems to repeat itself?

Gwynne Dyer: The EU: A setback, not a disaster

Gwynne DyerThe EU: A setback, not a disaster

What has the EU lost as a result?
Momentum, mainly. Almost all its projects for modernization and further expansion will now be stalled, at least for a time. Romania and Bulgaria, next in the queue to join, will probably make it in next year or in 2007, as they have already signed accession treaties, but Croatia will have to wait for a while. Turkey’s accession talks will start as scheduled on October 3, but their eventual outcome is now in considerable doubt.

6/21/05

MSN Money: German Officials See Better Outlook For Economy

MSN MoneyGerman Officials See Better Outlook For Economy

German finance professionals' outlook for Europe's biggest economy rose in June, on optimism spurred by the depreciation of the euro, a survey showed Tuesday. The country's economics minister hailed the figures and suggested the European Central Bank should lower interest rates to improve the chances of stronger growth.

USATODAY.com: Iraq - Americans deserve candor, not more hopeful ‘updates'

USATODAY.comIraq - Americans deserve candor, not more hopeful ‘updates'

Public support for the war in Iraq is slipping. Almost six in 10 Americans, in a Gallup poll this month, want some or all troops to come home. For the first time, a bipartisan group of congressmen is beginning to press for an exit deadline.

The White House response? A series of speeches starting this week intended, according to spokesman Scott McClellan, as an “update” for the American people. But far more is needed than another hopeful scenario, or a set of idealistic goals without a hard assessment of the realities on the ground and what has brought the USA to this point. That sort of assessment has been missing from the Bush administration, which still seems in denial that its Iraq adventure has strayed so far from the original plan.

Instead of candor, the administration has supplied a stream of shifting explanations about the reasons for the Iraq war, realities on the ground, expected costs, duration and outcome.
Start with the primary reason President Bush cited for the war: that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that threatened the USA. No such weapons were found. Nor was any credible connection to al-Qaeda. The administration then switched to the argument that its chief aims were to remove a dictator and bring democracy to the region.

Or the low-balling on costs. Former Deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq strategy, early on estimated a “range from $10 billion to $100 billion.” The war tab so far tops $200 billion.

The Boston Globe: European leaders unable to provide new direction

The Boston GlobeEurope is suddenly leaderless, with almost its entire political class estranged from voters on crucial questions of economic unity. The ''European crisis," as some leading newspapers have dubbed it, happens to coincide with President Bush's dwindling popularity in the United States, though that may not be wholly a coincidence. Democrats see skepticism about international trade as a way to connect with Main Street economic frustrations. But critics say it is an unfortunate scapegoat, economically foolish, and indulgent of prejudices against other countries. Still, one thing seems clear, in the United States, Europe, and perhaps even beyond: The leaders who will emerge from the current void will either be those who can best explain the benefits of globalization or those who can most effectively argue against it.

http://www.hurriyetim.com.tr: Turks first among foreign investments in new businesses in the Netherlands

HürriyetimTurks first among foreign investments in new businesses in the Netherlands

Turks have conquered Holland in the business sector and are now a major corporate tax contributor to the Dutch economy. According to the records released by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, among foreigners who opened new businesses, Turks took first place w/ 1700 new businesses in 2004. Poles followed Turks w/ 1200 businesses. Businesses opened by Turks were mainly wholesale, services, hotels, restaurants, cafes, transportation and construction. Note by EU-Digest: Hopefully this will show the Netherlands population that the populist right-wing rhetoric against Turkey's accession into the EU is a complete farce.Our aging Northern European population needs an infusion of young entrepreneurial immigrants to bring fresh ideas and economic prosperity back into the EU.

Halifax International Airport Authority: New direct flights to Europe from North-America's Gateway to Europe

Halifax International Airport AuthorityNew direct Flights to Europe from Halifax International Airport, North-America's Gateway to Europe

Air Transat announced weekly direct flights to Munich; and, Zoom Airlines introduced weekly seasonal service to Glasgow, Scotland and London’s Gatwick Airport. Several airlines also increased the seating capacity of aircraft on existing routes. In 2004, Halifax International Airport received three first-place AETRA Awards for its customer service performance, and became the first Superhost airport in the world. Superhost is an internationally recognized customer service training program that requires high levels of participation from front line staff. Halifax International Airport also broke previous cargo records with more than 31,000 metric tonnes of cargo processed in 2004, a 6.6 per cent jump over 2003. Halifax International is Canada’s seventh busiest airport.

Forbes.com: Luxembourg maintains plans for EU constitution vote

Forbes.comLuxembourg maintains plans for EU constitution vote

Luxembourg is going ahead with plans for a referendum on the EU's constitution next month, despite the uncertainty surrounding the near-dead charter, sources said. The Grand Duchy -- the richest EU member state per capita -- owes much of its prosperity to being the seat of several of the bloc's institutions including the European Court of Justice, the EU statistics office and part of the European Parliament staff.
Ten countries representing almost half the EU population have endorsed the treaty -- Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, Italy,Greece, Slovakia,Austria, Germany and Latvia. The German ratification still awaits the president's signature. Only one of them, Spain, approved it by referendum.

6/20/05

International Herald Tribune: With eyes on him, will Blair take the EU lead?

International Herald TribuneWith eyes on him, will Blair take the EU lead?

The problem with Tony Blair now grabbing Europe's leadership is not so much that the opportunity isn't there, or European interest lacking, but Britain's own real doubts about it - a sense that there's insufficient popular support here to make the move, and that, ultimately and genuinely, Britain and the European Union are less than a perfect fit.

Weird, but if you held up London and Paris press accounts of last week's botched EU summit side by side, you saw inverted, counterinstinctive images of European reality. This side of the channel essentially focused on the prospect of more intra-EU arguments to come, a tortured six-month EU presidency when Britain takes it over in two weeks, and a Europe that in two flailing days in Brussels once more showed itself as a swamp demanding Blair's caution if not contempt.

But beyond Calais, it was Tony Triumphant. Blair had savaged Jacques Chirac, and had shown, it was said, that the old French-German axis of power in Europe was dead. Not to mention Gerhard Schröder, whose vital signs were faint, Le Monde insisting he and Chirac were so disabled they had fallen beneath comparison to La Fontaine's fable of mutual assistance involving a blind man and a paralytic.

Khaleej Times Online: End of EU Dream (or just a wake-up call) ?

Khaleej Times OnlineEnd of EU Dream (or just a wake-up call)?

The bitter war of words between Britain and France while highlighting the dangerous schism between the traditional rivals and neighbours shocked the new, poor entrants to the club who offered to cut their own EU income to resolve the budget issue.

While Germany happens to be the biggest contributor to EU (7.7 per cent) and may be justified in asking Britain to reconsider its rebate, France’s opposition to UK rebate is intriguing. The French contribution to the EU budget is lower (2 per cent) than UK’s share of 2.8 per cent.

The Brussels summit was expected to not only finalise the EU budget for the period of 2007-13 but also take on the serious question marks hanging over the EU constitution. The meeting, however, failed to address either of the two crucial issues. The union has effectively decided to put the imponderables threatening the EU unity on the proverbial backburner.

However, that cannot drive away the demons haunting the world’s largest economic and political bloc. Of course, the club will continue to function normally for now and there’s no immediate threat to the euro will continue as common European currency.

The immediate yet invisible fallout would be the erosion of EU standing as a world player that has sought to counter-balance America’s role in a unipolar world in post Soviet Union years. In the Middle East, in particular, EU played a positive and harmonising role by backing the Palestinians in response to US support for Israel. The EU continues to be the biggest donor of aid to the oppressed people in Occupied Territories.

Yahoo News: U.S. firms help China censor freedom, democracy - How "Free" is "Free" Enterprise?

Yahoo! News U.S. firms help China censor freedom, democracy - How "Free" is "Free" Enterprise?

" Part of the Internet's magic is the freedom it bestows to travel as far as your mind can take you. But not if you're in China, where the totalitarian government is leery of the Internet and hostile to the merest mention of such ideas as freedom. No surprise there. What is a shock is that several huge U.S. companies are helping China muzzle free expression.

Software giant Microsoft has agreed to block certain words - democracy, freedom and human rights among them - by users on parts of its new Chinese Internet portal. According to news reports, the words trigger this message: "This item should not contain forbidden speech, such as profanity.

Freedom, profane? What's actually profane is a company that built its fortune on the freedom provided by the American system helping a repressive regime censor such ideas. Sadder still is that Microsoft has company among other U.S. tech concerns that should know better. The importance of this should not be underestimated. The Internet and capitalism were supposed to jump-start democracy in former communist regimes. These actions suggest a different future: One in which corporations and dictators share benefits in suppressing democratic communications."

Bangornews.com: US Administration's offenses impeachable

Bangornews.com: US Administration's offenses impeachable

"A British citizen leaked a memo to London's Sunday Times. The memo was of the written account of a meeting that a man named Richard Dearlove had with the Bush administration in July 2002. Dearlove was the head of the England's MI-6, the equivalent of the CIA. On July 23, 2002, Dearlove briefed Tony Blair about the meeting. He said that Bush was determined to attack Iraq. He said that Bush knew that U.S. intelligence had no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no links to foreign terrorists, that there was no imminent danger to the U.S. from Iraq. But, since Bush was determined to go to war, "Intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy." "Fixed" means faked, manufactured, conjured, hyped - the product of whole cloth fabrication.

It was all a lie. So, what does it mean? It means that our president and all of his administration are war criminals. It's as simple as that. They lied to the American people, have killed and injured and traumatized thousands of American men and women doing their patriotic duty, killed at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians, destroyed Iraq's infrastructure and poisoned its environment, squandered billions and billions of our tax dollars, made a mockery of American integrity in the world, changed the course of history, tortured Iraqi prisoners, and bound us intractably to an insane situation that they have no idea how to fix because they had no plan, but greed and empire, in the first place.

What does it mean? It means that everyone in this administration should be impeached. It means that our Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and our Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud should call for immediate impeachment. They were lied to by their president, voted for war, and are thus complicit in the multiply betrayals of the American people unless they stand up now for the truth."

London Free Press: Canada and European Union link security, environment deals

London Free PressCanada and European Union link security, environment deal

The European Union may be having internal troubles, but Canada and the EU work so well together they reached agreements on issues ranging from security to the environment, Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday.

Martin wrapped up a one-day summit with EU leaders in this scenic border community by announcing deals to work together to stop overfishing in the North Atlantic, fight pandemics such as avian flu, and share airplane passenger lists to help fight terrorism.

"We've agreed to share airline passenger information in a way that balances security needs and the protection of individual rights," Martin told reporters as the summit ended.

Bloomberg.com: Euro to Resume Drop as European Officials Favor Weaker Currency

Bloomberg.comEuro to Resume Drop as European Officials Favor Weaker Currency

``I have no doubt the European politicians are more than happy to have the euro down here,'' said Cameron Crise, who helps manage about $6 billion in currencies at Fortis Investments in London. ``It gives stimulus to the very sector they are relying on, exports.'' He said the funds he manages have been betting against the euro all year. ``You will ultimately see the dollar higher and the euro lower.''

Against the dollar, the euro rose 1.5 percent last week to $1.2286 at 5 p.m. on June 17 in New York, the first gain in three, according to electronic currency-dealing system EBS. It rose 1.3 percent to 133.38 yen. The dollar was little changed versus Japan's currency at 108.57.

Guardian: Forget talk of France becoming our colony

GuardianForget talk of France becoming our colony

Europe faces a period of 'strisis' - a mixture of crisis and stasis - with no growth, no constitutional treaty and no leadership. The Old Europe of populism, protectionism, and nationalism is back with a bang. Nasty symptoms can be seen - the growth of extreme politics, the twin problem of mass unemployment and growing inequality, and the endless scape-goating of international bodies like the EU.

Five years ago, progressive politicians appeared to be in control. Blair, Schröder, Lionel Jospin (France), Massimo D'Alema (Italy), Wim Kok (Netherlands), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Denmark) and other social democratic leaders working with the progressive Romano Prodi in Brussels drew up the Lisbon programme of economic renewal. But implementing it required serious reform of the way European economies and labour market policies are run.

In its short half century of existence, the EU has helped spread democracy, the rule of law, social rights, and prosperity as never before in Europe's 2,500 years of genocidal, war-filled history of hate between nations, religions and ideologies. Those who want to dig the EU's grave should be aware what might rise up from old coffins.

At some stage the Tories will get smart on Europe. Of the EU's 25 governments, 19 are under centre-right control. One day intelligent Conservatives will understand the salience of a modern pro-Europeanism. If Labour has not shaped a new approach of positive engagement, the Conservatives will overtake post-Blair Labour to occupy the broad centre ground which likes to mock Brussels, but will not vote for full Eurosceptic politics.

6/19/05

baltimoresun.com - Despite decline, European Union remains valuable ally - (Shortsighted American Press is having a field day)

baltimoresun.comDespite decline, European Union remains valuable ally - (Shortsighted American Press is having a field day)

Economic and political disarray has dropped the once-mighty euro to nine-month lows against the greenback. Much-ballyhooed European unity isn't all it was cracked up to be.

You can thank the postponement by the United Kingdom of its vote on the proposed European Union constitution. Thank the "no" votes in France and the Netherlands, too. Now on hold, that measure must be ratified by all 25 member nations to go into effect. Little chance of that happening now.

The Independent: Regime change happens in economies, too - and it's human beings who are to blame - by Stephen King

The Independent: Regime change happens in economies, too - and it's human beings who are to blame by Stephen King

In recent years, for example, unusually high levels of corporate saving both in the UK and the US (see charts) have led to excessive consumer borrowing, encouraged by low interest rates and rapid house price gains. Without that consumer borrowing, inflation might have been too low.

This approach leads to inconsistencies that simply cannot be sustained. Consumers borrow not only because interest rates are low but also because the anticipated gains on their main asset - their house - are high. If either of these changes, the willingness to borrow may be sharply curtailed. In the process, the economy as a whole simply runs out of puff. And, by doing so, once again inflation is in danger of being too low rather than too high.

Xinhua - Czech gov't proposes referendum to ratify EU constitution

XinhuaCzech gov't proposes referendum to ratify EU constitution

The Czech ruling coalition on Saturday proposed that the country should ratify the European Union (EU) constitution through referendum instead of parliamentary approval. The coalition does not have majority in either house of parliament. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek told reporters after talks with his coalition partners that the earliest possible date for a referendum would be June 2006, when parliamentary elections are held. However, he said, a later date would be more realistic.

6/18/05

MSN Money: EU crisis as Britain rejects deal on budget

MSN MoneyEU crisis as Britain rejects deal on budget

Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, was one of a minority of leaders who refused to accept a compromise package, as the Brussels summit collapsed in acrimony shortly before midnight. The failure of the talks means the transfer of billions of euros of aid to former communist countries in eastern Europe, due to start on January 1, 2007, may be delayed.

Insurance Journal: EU Leaders Fiddle while Europe Burns

Insurance JournalEU Leaders Fiddle while Europe Burns

The citizens of the older members of the EU, particularly in Germany, France, the Netherlands and to some extent Italy, do not see further expansion as necessarily a good thing. They see their countries as subsidizing the poorer, newer entrants, who then cut their own taxes and use the money to build more modern facilities with cheaper labor costs that take jobs away from the subsidizers. If EU leaders don't address that concern, they will never get the voters to listen to anything else.

That fear in turn is linked to the ongoing debate - especially in France-over the "social model." In order to attract industry, help entrepreneurs and start cutting down unemployment, Europe's tax structure and labor market has to be made more flexible. This doesn't mean the EU has to emulate America's wholesale surrender to neo laissez-faire capitalism, which rewards shareholders and top executives at the expense of everybody else.

It does mean that changes are necessary, but asking the French to abandon their current network of social programs and services that they've won over the last 70 years is like asking the passengers in a crowded lifeboat to jump into the sea because there's a bigger boat coming along. No one will jump until they see the other boat. Unless the voters themselves see the necessity for change and what form it will take, they won't take a chance on losing what they have in the hope that their leaders know what they're doing. It's become obvious - in France at least and probably elsewhere in Europe - that the leaders don't know what they're doing, and that they have become too isolated for the people to trust.

6/17/05

Guardian: EU - Big Beasts Battle

GuardianEU-Big Beasts Battle

Günter Verheugen has just over four years to pull off the greatest challenge of his political life before he retires from his key post at the European commission to the private life he says he never enjoys.

As vice-president in charge of enterprise and industry, the 61-year-old is at the forefront of trying to create the conditions for the European Union to become the most dynamic economy in the world - a revived centre of jobs and growth, of innovation and change. Europe's biggest challenge, he says, is demographic, with the working population falling by a million a year from 2010 onwards so that the ratio of people over 65 to those aged between 15 and 65 will shift from 23% today to 39% in 2030.

"People are not aware of this. We will continue to have an ageing population. In itself that's not a problem, as the US shows, but in Europe we have the combination of an ageing population and fewer children. There's not much you can do about it if people don't have children - or you need to attract bright young people from other regions of the world."

Meanwhile, he says, there's a growing brain drain of talented young people who believe they will find better conditions in the US and elsewhere. "It's not just a matter of money but a cultural environment. The American public understands better how important research and science are and they give them more respect and support, especially for young people.

Irish Times Article - EU Summit fails to agree on new EU budget

Irish Times ArticleEU Summit fails to agree on new EU budget

European Union leaders have failed to agree on a new, seven-year budget after Britain and the Netherlands rejected a deal that had the support of almost all other member states, including Ireland. French president Jacques Chirac insisted yesterday morning that farm spending was not negotiable but as the day progressed, he abandoned his demand that Britain's rebate should be phased out completely. Mr Chirac wants a special summit to discuss major issues facing the EU next year, after the end of Britain's EU presidency.

Expatica - Paris show brings Airbus orders worth USD 33.5 bn

ExpaticaParis show brings Airbus orders worth USD 33.5 bn

Airbus has booked business worth USD 33.5 billion (EUR 27.7 billion) with orders and letters of intent for 280 aircraft at the Paris Air Show here, the marketing director for the European manufacturer John Leahy said on Friday. He said that Airbus intended to keep ahead of its US rival Boeing both in terms of orders and of aircraft delivered in 2005 and 2006.

ZAMAN: EU Council Approves Ankara Agreement's Supplementary Protocol

ZAMAN DAILYEU Council Approves Ankara Agreement's Supplementary Protocol

Under the scope of the additional protocol, the inclusion scope of Turkey's-EU Customs Union is broadened to include the 10 new EU member countries, which includes Greek Cyprus. Immediately following the completion of the signature process in the EU, Turkey is expected to sign the document in the upcoming weeks.

Asia Times Online: The coming trade war and global depression, by Henry C K Liu

Asia Times OnlineThe coming trade war and global depression, by Henry C K Liu

US President George W Bush defends his free-trade agenda in moralistic terms. "Open trade is not just an economic opportunity, it is a moral imperative," he declared in a May 7, 2001, speech. "Trade creates jobs for the unemployed. When we negotiate for open markets, we're providing new hope for the world's poor. And when we promote open trade, we are promoting political freedom." Such claims remain highly controversial when tested by actual data.

Phyllis Schlafly, a syndicated conservative columnist, responded three weeks later in an article "Free trade is an economic issue, not a moral one". In it, she noted that while conservatives should be happy finally to have a president who added a moral dimension to his actions, "the Bible does not instruct us on free trade and it's not one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus did not tell us to follow Him along the road to free trade ... Nor is there anything in the US constitution that requires us to support free trade and to abhor protectionism. In fact, protectionism was the economic system believed in and practiced by the framers of our constitution. Protective tariffs were the principal source of revenue for our federal government from its beginning in 1789 until the passage of the 16th Amendment, which created the federal income tax, in 1913. Were all those public officials during those hundred-plus years remiss in not adhering to a "moral obligation" of free trade?" Hardly, argued Schlafly, whose views are noteworthy because US politics is currently enmeshed in a struggle between strict-constructionist paleo-conservatives and moral-imperialist neo-conservatives. Despite the ascendance of neo-imperialism in US foreign policy, protectionism remains strong in US political culture, particularly among conservatives and in the labor movement.

The recent rise of the euro against the dollar, the first appreciation wave since its introduction on January 1, 2002, is the result of an EU version of the 1985 Plaza Accord on the Japanese yen, albeit without a formal accord. The strategic purpose is more than merely moderating the US trade deficit. The record shows that even with a 30% drop of the dollar against the euro, the US trade deficit continued to climb. The strategic purpose of driving up the euro is to reduce it to the status of the yen, as a subordinated currency to dollar hegemony. The real effect of the Plaza Accord was to shift the cost of support for the dollar-denominated US trade deficit, and the socio-economic pain associated with that support, from the United States to Japan. What is happening to the euro now is far from being the beginning of the demise of the dollar. Rather, it is the beginning of the reduction of the euro into a subservient currency to the dollar to support the US debt bubble.

Just as monarchism first emerged as a progressive force against feudalism by rationalizing itself as a natural law of politics and eventually brought about its own demise by betraying its progressive mandate, social capitalism today places return on capital above not only the worker but also the welfare of the owner of capital. The class struggle has been internalized within each worker. As people facing the hard choice of survival in the present versus well-being in the future, they will always choose survival, and social capitalism will inevitably go the way of absolute monarchism, and make way for humanist socialism.

Gainesville.com:Local protesters are up on Downing Street Memo

Gainesville.comLocal protesters are up on Downing Street


Mainstream American media were all over the Michael Jackson and "runaway bride" stories in recent weeks. Yet, during that same period, they generally ignored the so-called Downing St

Below follows the Downing street Memo - As originally reported in the The Times of London, May 1, 2005

DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT

(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)

Guardian Unlimited: Peter Mandelson's speaks on a new consensus for Europe

Guardian UnlimitedPeter Mandelson's speaks on a new consensus for Europe

When anti-Europeans in Britain say, "we like a free trade Europe but we don't want Brussels", they gloriously contradict themselves in a single sentence. You can't have the single market without Brussels - end of story. Europe must press ahead with painful economic reforms. But reform is for a purpose: not to Americanise Europe but to make our European model of society sustainable for generations to come. Essentially we need a new social consensus for economic reform as New Labour has achieved in Britain, based on a social justice argument, which is capable of uniting mainstream opinion in France and Germany as well as Britain and Holland and the rest of the EU 25. The fact that the British people have three times in succession returned to power a New Labour government demonstrates that British share the wider European vision of a social justice economy. Those both in Britain and on the continent who believe that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference between an "Anglo-Saxon" model and the continental view create a false antithesis.

6/16/05

People's Daily Online -- EU summit decides to continue ratification, extend deadline

People's Daily OnlineEU summit decides to continue ratification, extend deadline

A budget deadlock would especially hurt the new member states from Eastern Europe that are counting on investment money from Brussels. Dariusz Rosati, a Polish member of the European Parliament, says the fight over money is unseemly and could hinder European integration.

PolitInfo.com - EU Leaders Discuss Budget Deadlock, Constitutional Crisis

PolitInfo.comEU Leaders Discuss Budget Deadlock, Constitutional Crisis

A budget deadlock would especially hurt the new member states from Eastern Europe that are counting on investment money from Brussels. Dariusz Rosati, a Polish member of the European Parliament, says the fight over money is unseemly and could hinder European integration.

From the Council of the EU: Live video images from Brussels on the Internet.

The Council of the EUDemocracy at work in Europe

The European Council, which is coming together in Brussels today (June 16) and tomorrow (June 17) under the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will be providing the Heads of State and Governments of the 25 Member States the opportunity, to exchange their views, in particular on the financial perspectives of the EU for the period 2007-2013, economic reforms, issues relating to Justice and Home Affairs, as well as external relations issues. The European Council probably will also analyse the state of ratifications of the Constitutional Treaty for Europe. In order to follow this event (available sequences) on your own computer via video streaming from the EU website, please go to http://consilium.clients.telemak.com/05066/index_uk.html

CDNC: What European Crisis? by John Buell

CDNCWhat European Crisis?

If you read the business press--from the Wall Street Journal to The Economist (London)-- you might conclude that Western Europe is on the verge of collapse. Such rhetoric has only been stoked by France’s recent rejection of the new European constitution. France is now being harshly criticized for standing in the way of needed continental reforms to labor market and business regulations. New York Times columnist David Brooks even invokes Europe’s purported crisis as proof that US Social Security must be privatized. Europe, with more taxes and regulations, supposedly can’t generate the growth needed to sustain its increasingly elderly citizens. Yet this conventional perspective may reflect ideological enthusiasm more than economic history on both sides of the pond.

The business press argues that Germany, the Scandinavian nations, and France suffer from “overly regulated” labor markets and high taxes. They are cursed with dangerous levels of unemployment. The Washington Post charges that Europe is in a “productivity slump.” One problem with this analysis is that worker productivity is defined not as output per worker but as output per working hour. Economist Dean Baker reminds us that in terms of output per working hour, European productivity has continued to increase at the rate of 1.0-2.0 percent annually over the last six years. He adds that: “The growth in output per hour has not always translated into output per worker, since workers have taken a large portion of the gains of higher productivity growth in the form of shorter work weeks…. Work weeks of 35-37 hours are standard as is five to six weeks a year of paid vacation.” Some European nations now enjoy higher absolute rates of worker productivity that the US.

Western Europe’s unemployment “crisis” is also partially an artifact of different definitions of unemployment. The US counts part-time employees seeking full-time employment as employed and excludes so called discouraged workers from the labor market. If the US definition of unemployment were used, the former West Germany’s current unemployment stands only slightly higher than ours. So if this is some looming disaster we need to fear? Unemployment is slightly higher than our own, but workers retire earlier, enjoy more time off, and are often more productive while working.

Many French and Dutch citizens voted against the new constitution not because they were anti-Europe but because they feared that the new constitution would write US corporate norms into a European fundamental law.

In addition, as University of Texas economist James Galbraith points out, much US job growth has other sources than deregulation and low taxes. There are vital areas where the US government intervenes in markets more than most European nations do. Along with massive expenditures for the military, Galbraith identifies a “soft Keynesianism” of direct and indirect support for university education and housing. Housing is subsidized not only through tax write offs but also through federal guarantees of mortgage markets. Tax write offs for gifts to higher education along with state and federal expenditures give the US a higher education sector that constitutes about twice as much of our GNP as in Europe. In addition, Galbraith reminds us that our much-lamented pensions for the elderly have not only served to reduce poverty but also sustain effective demand.

Even in the face of growing competition from low wage workforces both within the EU and the US and Asia, some European nations remain remarkably well off and competitive. Guardian columnist George Monbiot points out that even by the favorite business press criteria, Sweden is one of the world’s most successful nations. Its per capita GNP and trade balance far surpass its more deregulated and lower tax competitor, Great Britain. Advocates of the so called US model also fail to recognize that taxes can buy goods that businesses need to thrive.

A trans-Atlantic business press mesmerized by a model the US itself has never fully practiced is unlikely to consider these options.

Expatica - Schroeder prepares for cash battle at Crunch EU Summit

ExpaticaSchroeder prepares for cash battle at Crunch EU Summit

A show-down is expected at the Brussels meeting amid intense pressure on leaders of the 25-nation bloc to agree a budget for the period 2007 to 2013 after rejection of the European Union (EU) constitution by French and Dutch voters earlier this month. The sums involved are enormous: EU spending for the seven-year period is estimated at about EUR 800 billion.

6/15/05

Economist:Europe's painful summit

Europe�s painful summit | Economist.com

"Europe's painful summit

Jun 15th 2005
From The Economist Global Agenda
At a summit this week, leaders will trade blows over the European Union's comatose constitution and its budget. It is a pity that they will barely find time to discuss the long-term challenges of economic reform and enlargement"

Friendly takeover - sign and sight

Friendly takeover - sign and sight

"Friendly takeover
Dominique de Villepin and the Secrets of Europe. By Gustav Seibt. The depth of the mess that France has been plunged into by the plebiscite 'no' can be calculated in the suggestion made by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in his government declaration concerning the German French relationship. His idea of a 'union with Germany in particular selected areas' is flamboyant terminological feuilletonismus and doctrinaire, highly interesting hot air."

NCR: European union not a foregone conclusion

NCR: European union not a foregone conclusion

"European union not a foregone conclusion
Public weighs the benefits and costs of integration
By MARC MAZGON-FERNANDES
Brussels, Belgium
The French and Dutch rejections of the European Constitution has opened a serious crisis within the European Union. European leaders meeting in Brussels June 16 and 17 will be struggling to identify the causes of this rejection, and the actions they take will determine if the union bounces back -- as it has so often in the past -- or if European integration freezes in place for years to come.
The European Union has suffered many setbacks in its 50-year march to integration. The most marked setback was France's rejection of the European Defense Community back in 1954 because it feared the rearmament of Germany."

IHT:In Europe, division among old and new

In Europe, division among old and new - Europe - International Herald Tribune:

"BERLIN When 10 new countries were admitted to the European Union on May 1 last year, there was a real sense that the divisions of Europe created by the big powers after 1945 had finally been overcome.

During that sunny afternoon in Dublin, few of the 25 leaders of the enlarged EU could have imagined that, 12 months later, the Union would plunge into one of its deepest crises for many years."

6/14/05

The Economic Times: Chirac, Blair hold the key to unity of EU

The Economic TimesChirac, Blair hold the key to unity of EU

The tempestuous relationship between French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will largely determine whether this week’s EU summit ends in harmony or casts the bloc deeper into crisis. The two leaders, both politically vulnerable at home, hold most of the keys to a deal on the EU’s long-term budget and a way forward on the EU constitution after French and Dutch referendum defeats for the charter.

www.stuff.co.nz: Airbus, Boeing hint at compromise in WTO clash

www.stuff.co.nzAirbus, Boeing hint at compromise in WTO clash

Planemakers Airbus and Boeing Co yesterday took the edge off some of the rhetoric in the world's biggest potential trade war, striking a conciliatory tone at the Paris Air Show. Airbus said the reason it had delayed its A350 model was to calm tensions and Boeing said negotiations were the best way forward. Washington's clash with the European Union at the WTO involves accusations of improper state subsidies to the largest aerospace company on each side. In a conciliatory sign from the European side, Airbus Chief Executive Noel Forgeard for the first time said a delay in plans to launch the industrial phase of its new A350 model was intended to help clear the atmosphere.

Lehman execs: Upbeat on U.S., Japanese and European Economy

LehmanUpbeat on U.S., Japanese and European Economy

The markets rebounded late in the quarter, helped by upward GDP revisions in May, stronger growth rates in Japan and parts of Europe, more moderate inflation data, and a temporary stabilization in oil prices," Lehman Chief Administrative Officer David Goldfarb said on a conference call this morning.

Bangornews.com: Corporate trade and culture wars

Bangornews.com StaffCorporate trade and culture wars

NAFTA's supporters promised that increased trade would lead to more jobs and more rapid economic growth as each nation specialized in what it did best. Trade has increased, but trade's effect on jobs depends on the net of exports over imports. Jobs are not created if U.S. manufacturers send new machines to Mexico and then end up importing even more in finished goods from Mexico. Yet this is exactly what has happened. The Economic Policy Institute reports that every U.S. state has seen a net loss of manufacturing jobs from NAFTA, with Maine's loss pegged at around 2,500 jobs.

For states like California and Arizona, the losses have obviously been even more substantial. These states have confronted a dual whammy. Just as many good jobs are being lost, these states have faced an influx of immigrants, primarily from Mexico. Not only have conditions in manufacturing industries worsened in the United States but also in Mexico. NAFTA enabled the export of subsidized corn to Mexico and led to the displacement of large numbers of Mexican farmers.

swisspolitics.org: Blair and Chirac face EU budget showdown

swisspolitics.orgBlair and Chirac face EU budget showdown

French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared for a showdown over the European Union budget on Tuesday with hopes fading for a deal on the 25-nation bloc's long-term finances. Blair has signaled he is ready to compromise on Britain's multi-billion-euro annual EU rebate provided France also gives ground on the substantial farms subsidies it receives. Chirac has refused, saying the agriculture budget was settled in 2002. The British leader began the day by meeting Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and was scheduled to travel to Paris later for talks with Chirac. Juncker, holder of the EU's rotating presidency, is trying to broker a budget deal.

CS Monitor: Rich-poor gap in America gaining attention

csmonitor.comRich-poor gap in America gaining attention

The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself. The US now has a significant divergence in the fortunes of different groups in its labor market. "As I've often said, this is not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing," Greenspan told a congressional hearing.

6/13/05

BBC NEWS: Danes rethink EU referendum plan

BBC NEWSDanes rethink EU referendum plan

EU foreign ministers have been discussing the EU budget and constitution in Luxembourg ahead of the leaders' summit later this week.

Danish Foreign Minister Mr Moeller told reporters: "The conversations I had don't convince me we will get a clear answer.

"We want clarity that it is this treaty, nothing more or less, on which we will vote on 27 September, and if there is no clarity on that, because various processes are started which in principle could change it, then you cannot hold a vote."

EUobserver.com:Socialists moot new convention on EU constitution

EUobserver.comSocialists moot new convention on EU constitution

Senior members of the Socialist group in the European Parliament believe that a new convention should be called to once again consider the constitution following its rejection two weeks ago by French and Dutch voters.

According to Richard Corbett, the Socialist's constitution spokesperson, EU leaders meeting at the end of the week are most likely to agree that a period of reflection is needed in the ratification process. But to avoid this becoming an "indefinite postponement" there should be "a public and pluralist forum, possibly a new convention ... for a serious and wide-ranging debate", he says in a paper drawn up after discussions with his group. This convention, which would be similar to the convention convened three years ago with governmental, parliamentary and civil society representation, could give "particular consideration" to part III - the policy part of the document that details areas such as foreign and security policy, justice and home affairs and monetary policy.

Daily Times Pakistan - Blair’s European dilemma

Daily Times PakistanBlair’s European dilemma

The crisis over the Union’s future direction triggered by the French “No” vote could last for some time. But if the British imagine that the Constitution will just die, and that that will be the end of the story, they are deceiving themselves

Expatica - Moroccans, Turks rally against Dutch immigration plans

ExpaticaMoroccans, Turks rally against Dutch immigration plans

Moroccan and Turkish groups in the Netherlands have set up a new action committee named "Genoeg is genoeg" (enough is enough) to organise a campaign against the Dutch government's tough immigration and integration policies.
The organisers are calling for a national demonstration on 17 September in Amsterdam. Two spokesmen for the new organisation outlined the plans for the demonstration during a press conference in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Monday.

International Herald Tribune:EU pushes for budget deal to offset defeat on charter. Britain requested to roll back unfair advantage

International Herald TribuneEU pushes for budget deal to offset defeat on charter

The EU foreign ministers held a last round of talks Sunday, part of hectic, 11th-hour diplomacy to undo a deadlock over Britain's threat to veto a budget deal. Britain and five others - the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria and Sweden - are net payers, contributing more to the EU annual budget than they get back in benefits. They want annual spending in 2007-2013 kept at the current level of 1 percent of the EU's gross national income. Spain, Portugal and Greece - and Eastern European members who joined last year and are eager to reap EU economic benefits - want more.

Britain is under intense pressure to give up its annual rebate, a 1984 legacy of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's fierce EU budget battles. It has threatened to veto a budget deal if the rebate goes. Britain's EU partners say the rebate - which London got because it has relatively few farmers and thus draws back relatively little in EU benefits - is unfair, as Britain has become a much richer nation over the past two decades. The annual reimbursement has averaged $5.5 billion, a year since 1984. It was almost €5.2 billion, or $6.3 billion, in 2004 and will likely rise in the years ahead.

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, which is the EU summit host, has proposed freezing the rebate at €4.75 billion, phasing it out, giving financial relief to Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands - the biggest net payers - and crafting a new revenue formula in 2010.

6/12/05

Sunday Herald: European Union solidarity? More and more like every man for himself

Sunday Herald: European Union solidarity? More and more like every man for himself

THE European Union’s 25 foreign ministers will gather in Luxembourg tonight for a “conclave” – in this instance not a dignified meeting of cardinals to elect a Pope, but what is likely to be an explosive encounter to try to reach agreement about the EU’s budget, and Britain’s now infamous �3 billion rebate.

This coming week could be one of the most bruising in EU history. On Monday and Tuesday, the foreign ministers will prepare the ground for the critical summit of EU leaders that starts on Thursday. They are supposed to be “sherpas”, ensuring that the final assault goes smoothly. But with the EU seemingly collapsing around their ears, they’ll be fighting over which route to take and over who’s carrying most baggage.

Tension between Britain and France is at its highest for years. Tony Blair is furious at Jacques Chirac’s attempts to shift the blame for his own failure to sell the EU constitution to the French people on to Blair’s shoulders. The UK last week put plans for its own referendum on the constitution on ice because it had already been rejected in France and the Netherlands, but Chirac is portraying this as British weakness. Not only had Blair scared off French voters by concocting a constitution that smelled of an “Anglo-Saxon” plot against French social values, but now he was prepared to jeopardise Europe’s future by dumping the referendum.

6/11/05

The Globe and Mail: Italy invests new power in bloodlines

The Globe and MailItaly invests new power in bloodlines

As Italians prepare to vote this weekend in a national referendum on artificial insemination, it has begun to dawn on them that the controversial vote could be decided by a few thousand Canadians, some of whom have never set foot in Italy.

The referendum marks the first major test of a new law, designed to give full voting rights to all “Italians in the world” — that is, people descended from Italian immigrants, no matter how long ago they immigrated. The law, introduced in 2002 by Mirko Tremaglia, Italy's Minister of Italians Abroad, offers full Italian citizenship and voting rights to anyone descended from male Italian immigrants. Mr. Tremaglia has repeatedly declined requests from the foreign press to comment on the law.

That law, which will soon create deputies and senators in the Italian parliament, who are elected by people with Italian blood in foreign countries, has sparked a crisis in the Canadian government. Never before in modern history has a foreign nation tried to elect representatives on foreign soil. Italy has created a series of ridings where people not resident in Italy are supposed to stand for elected office and represent people who live in other countries. So you would have another government representing people on Canadian soil.

Under the scheme devised by Mr. Tremaglia, a 79-year-old member of Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing governing coalition, foreign voters will elect 12 deputies and six senators, who are presumably foreign-born citizens. They will represent four new ridings: North America, South America, Europe and the rest of the world.

Officials from the Canadian Foreign Affairs said that the law is considered a serious challenge to Canada's sovereignty, as well as a potential source of foreign conflicts on Canadian soil.

Planeta Porto Alegre: The Possible Social Europe

Planeta Porto AlegreThe Possible Social Europe

Voilà la différence! This is what the dispute is about. For the past three months France has lived, Colombani admits, “a debate like few in its history”. However, those analyzing this confrontation will easily see that the “no” vote has never meant a rejection to the European project. The French have expressed their belief that “a different Europe is possible,” as it was textually printed out in most advertisements spread through European cities. Such audacity has led the French to collide with what was qualified by Bernard Cassen, ATTAC’s President, as “the political midiatic aristocracy”.

Most of the means of communication in the country and France’s two main political parties acted in favor of the Treaty. Together they tried to build a concept of Europe that made democracy a façade, as it thorn it down to pieces. About two and a half centuries after the 1789 Revolution, what was left of the Social Contract? Citizens were asked to say yes to a Letter written by a commission of “notable people” – if they said no they would be classified as anti-European. And worse: although the European Union (EU) has become a block with bigger economic power than the US, those in favor of the Treaty have tried to include in the Constitution the logic ruling North American social life: competition, privatization and the dismantling of the Well Fare State.

In November 2004, the Copernicus Foundation, a political-cultural institution, took a step ahead. Guided by one of the Iluminism´s father’s ideas, it has build up the bridge between social movements and political parties claiming for Modernity. From that resulted the idea of the collectives, which have played an important role in the French case.

What will come after July 17th? The Italian magazine Carta, maybe the European publication that is most tuned with the movements related to the World Social Forum, suggests that the French should launch an appeal for a European Citizen Convention. It would take place in Paris, sometime soon. It would gather the civil society and social movements. It would bring about debates on the ways society can find to build up a Social Europe, therefore ending the paralysis that seems to have come over the “leaders” of the continent.