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10/31/05

Deutsche Welle: Spain's Telefonica Launches Takeover Bid for O2

Deutsche Welle

Spain's Telefonica Launches Takeover Bid for O2

Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica launched a friendly cash bid of 26.1 billion euros ($31.5 billion) for British group 02 that also operates in Germany, according to a joint statement released on Monday. Telefonica, the biggest mobile phone operator in Spain and Latin America, said that the move would "provide enhanced scale by entering two of Europe's largest markets, Germany and the UK, with critical mass." The takeover was expected to be completed in January 2006, the statement said. O2 would retain its existing brand and would continue to be based in Britain under the terms of the agreed deal, it added. O2 was spun off from the BT Group in November 2001 and currently has about 24.6 million mobile phone customers in Britain, Ireland, Germany and the Isle of Man. The group employs about 15,000 people. It is the second-biggest British mobile telephone operator by subscriber numbers, the fourth-biggest operator in Germany, and has a highly profitable business in Ireland.

Times Online: The Dragons of Expectation by Robert Conquest

Times Online

The Dragons of Expectation by Robert Conquest

In his book Robert Conquest’s writes that the most monstrous modern outgrowth of utopianism is not, the UN but the EU. Ruinously expensive, riddled with corruption, and bureaucratic on a Byzantine scale, it aims, as he sees it, to build a “regulationist superstate” in pursuit of the kind of high, transcendental dreams that have always seduced ideologues. Britain should, he counsels, withdraw from it and join, in due time, a much looser association of English-speaking nations which he calls the Anglosphere. This would have a consultative council, with the USA appointing 49% of the members, and the rest divided between Britain, Canada, Australia, the Caribbean, and others. The association would be headed by the President of the United States, and the Queen would be incorporated with “some such title as ‘Queen in the Association’”. Its Foreign Policy and Military committees would have competence over the entire world, and would raise its own forces in order, for example, to prevent coups by pro-totalitarian elements.

AxcessNews.com - Britain and France Vow to Boost EU Economy

AxcessNews.com

Britain and France Vow to Boost EU Economy

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac discounted their differences over budget issues of the European Union at meeting in Paris Friday. The two EU leaders focused instead on how the UK and France could promote new initiatives to boost the European economy. Blair and Chirac agreed that the focus of informal summit of EU leaders later this month should be on how Europe meets the challenge of globalisation. Blair initiailly looked at the upcoming summit as an opportunity to promote his recent call for European economic modernisation, in consideration of Germany's centre-right would win a clear victory in last month's German elections. With Germany's election stalemate Blair's view towards the EU summit would have to change. The summit is set to take place at Hampton Court, outside London. Chirac told Blair that EU leaders attending the summit should not be debating rival models for the European economy.

10/30/05

Ireland: Farming Life - UFU Joins With Euro Farmers

Ireland: Farming Life

UFU Joins With Euro Farmers

The Ulster Farmers' Union has joined forces with farmers across Europe at the Congress of European Farmers in Strasbourg. 800 farmers from 31 countries signed the "Strasbourg declaration" of people working in agriculture and forestry throughout Europe. The theme for the COPA farming conference was "European Agriculture in the World", with a focus on global agricultural markets in the coming decade and Europe's competetive position. The UFU delegation heard presentations from the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural development Mrs. Mariann Fischer Boel, WTO General Director Mr. Pascal Lamy, as well as Members of the European Parliament Joseph Daul and Reimer Boge. The Strasbourg Declaration emphasised the crucial role which agriculture plays. Campbell Tweed said; "European agriculture provides almost half a billion citizens with high-quality agricultural and food products. The European market is open to world markets and at the same time Europe is the leading importer and second leading exporter of agricultural and food products. Furthermore, least developed countries enjoy free access to the European market, one of the most lucrative in the world. European agriculture helps drive the European economy. Agriculture and forestry employ more than 10 million men and women and generate numerous jobs upstream and downstream. Agriculture maintains the countryside and provides attractive living conditions throughout the whole European continent".

Europe - International Herald Tribune: In Norway, EU pros and cons (the cons still win)

Europe - International Herald Tribune

In Norway, EU pros and cons (the cons still win)

Jens Stoltenberg, the recently installed leftist prime minister of Norway, believes that his country should join the European Union. So do some of his rivals on the right. Even the often euroskeptical populists today say they are neutral. So why is this increasingly wealthy North European nation remaining outside the fold at a time of broadening European integration? "Our situation in Norway is somewhat similar to that of Sweden and Britain in relation to the euro," Stoltenberg said Wednesday in an interview at his office overlooking central Oslo. "It is a matter that's yet to be settled."
Stoltenberg, 46, whose Labor Party won elections last month after four years in opposition, moved back into his office just last week. A tall man with a ready smile and a gentle manner, Stoltenberg served briefly as prime minister in 2000-2001 and has also held the business, energy and finance portfolios. For one thing, he said, Norway "would not be able to apply" to join the EU "with the government we have today." Indeed, his coalition partners, the Socialist Left and the Center Party, oppose Norwegian membership. But so do most Norwegians. While public opinion on EU membership has swelled and ebbed in this country of 4.5 million people since Norwegians last voted against it over a decade ago, negative feeling increased sharply this summer when French and Dutch voters rejected the European constitution. At present, 54 percent of Norwegians oppose membership, according to a poll published Monday in the newspaper Aftenposten. Their opinion, analysts say, is intimately linked to the broad feeling here that oil-rich, high-growth Norway does not need an economically stumbling European club. Projections show gross domestic product in Norway growing almost 4 percent this year, up slightly from 3.5 percent in 2004, compared with about 1 percent in the euro zone in both years.

CBS 5: Late Pope's Ford Escort Sells For $690K

CBS 5

Late Pope's Ford Escort Sells For $690K

LAS VEGAS A light blue 1975 Ford Escort GL once owned by Pope John Paul II sold for $690,000 Saturday to a Houston multimillionaire who said he plans to put it in a museum he wants to build in his hometown. "To me, it's a piece of history," said John O'Quinn, 62, a Baptist who said he has a collection of about 600 vehicles. "What a great human being Pope John Paul was." Built 30 years ago at a Ford plant in Cologne, Germany, the car sold Saturday in what auctioneer Dean Kruse said was original papal condition — no hubcaps, no air conditioning, no radio, but with several nicks and dents. "The car will never be driven," said O'Quinn, who said that at least temporarily it will be warehoused with his other cars. "But hopefully, in my life, I'll be able to go back and touch this car and feel the pope's spirit."

EUROPEAN UNION / On the Record: John Bruton

EUROPEAN UNION / On the Record: John Bruton

"EUROPEAN UNION
On the Record: John Bruton
Sunday, October 30, 2005

John Bruton, who oversaw a rapid period of growth in Ireland as its prime minister in the mid-1990s, is now the European Union's ambassador to the United States. A onetime political wunderkind who was elected to the Irish Parliament at age 22, Bruton is the point man for the EU's 25-member nations in Washington. He spoke recently to Chronicle editors and reporters on a range of issues including trade subsidies, global warming, the European social contract, the EU's rapid expansion and the 'optimism gap' between Chinese and Europeans. The following was edited for space and clarity. "

JTW News - Divided Europe on show at summit

JTW News - Divided Europe on show at summit

"Divided Europe on show at summit
By William Horsley

The 'globalisation' European summit at Hampton Court in the UK was seen in parts of Europe as a setback or a non-event.

Elsewhere, it was seen as mending fences broken in recent feuds, and improving the chances of an early deal on the EU's long-term budget.

A vice-president of the European Commission, Guenter Verheugen, cast doubt on the results, telling Bavarian Radio in Germany that some messages from the summit took Europe in the 'wrong direction'. "

10/29/05

Deutsche Welle: Airbus A380 makes a flawless test landing in Germany Saturday

Deutsche Welle

Airbus A380 makes a flawless test landing in Germany Saturday

It was an event few aviation fans were willing to miss. As a prototype of the gigantic A380, the world's largest passenger airliner, swooped down from the skies to make a perfect landing at the Frankfurt airport on Saturday morning amid thick fog, tens of thousands of spectators held their breath in awe. While some clambered on stools they had brought along to get a good look at the 290-ton heavy machine coming to a halt at Terminal 2 of the Rhein-Main airport, others held their cameras and mobile phones above their heads to capture the image. It was the first test landing of the long-haul aircraft outside the testing facilities in France and the main aim is to check the handling and maintenance of the A380 at a civil airport. The aircraft will fly back to Toulouse in France on Sunday. "The test results are excellent. The performance is much better than expected," he said, adding that it also held true for the craft's fuel-consumption -- at 2.9 liters of kerosene for 100 kilometers per passenger. The low consumption -- 12 percent lower than all other large aircraft according to Airbus -- is an important selling point given that fuel usage now accounts for around 16 to 20 percent of the overall costs of an airline. Until now, 16 customers have placed orders for 159 A380s which cost 292 million euros ($353 million) apiece. The Gulf-based airline Emirates is the biggest buyer with 41 orders."Airbus has got lots of things right," said aviation expert Horstmann. "Just 10 years ago, it was the small player, which Boeing didn't take seriously enough. But, in the meantime it has convincing offers in all segments of civil aviation."When it came to aircrafts with a seating capacity of more than 100, Boeing and aircraft manufacturer McDonnell-Douglas which Boeing took over had a market share of 70 percent until the mid-1990s. But now with over 50 percent of the market share, Airbus is leading the way."

Charlotte Observer: 8 countries disregard EU ad ban

Charlotte Observer

8 countries disregard EU ad ban

A ban on tobacco advertising in the European Union is being flouted in as many as a third of the bloc's member states, according to the World Health Organization. Eight countries haven't yet told the European Commission that they have enforced the measure, said Marta Seoane, a WHO spokeswoman. Germany, Europe's largest tobacco market, and Spain are allowing companies like British American Tobacco Plc and Gallaher Group Plc to advertise in print, radio and the Internet three months after the plan was supposed to come into effect. "It's a great shame," said Friedrich Wiebel, head of the Munich-based German Smoke-Free Alliance. "It's absurd." Advertising is one of the few regulatory issues affecting the $160 billion tobacco industry where EU countries have yet to get tough.

FT.com - Blair faces budget hurdle despite summit harmony

FT.com

Blair faces budget hurdle despite summit harmony

Tony Blair on Thursday night declared that European Union leaders had set a "clear direction" on how Europe must respond to the challenge of globalisation at a largely harmonious summit at Hampton Court. But the prime minister needs to prevent harmony descending into acrimony as he tries to secure a deal on the EU's budget for 2007-2013.

Thursday’s summit was never going to see EU leaders reaching high-profile agreements affecting the EU economy. Instead, Mr Blair's aim was to set "the broad direction" in which the European economy must go, as a precursor to getting a budget deal signed in December. However, the summit was important in another sense. Before he starts the tough budget negotiations, the prime minister needs to move the EU away from the poisonous atmosphere that prevailed when those talks broke down last June. Here, Mr Blair largely succeeded. In particular, both he and French President Jacques Chirac - who were at daggers drawn last June - worked closely on the summit's principal theme of how the EU should respond to globalisation.

Some EU diplomats believe Mr Blair appeased Mr Chirac so much that France ended up dominating the summit agenda. The British prime minister, for example, backed a number of schemes particularly dear to Mr Chirac - such as a Common Energy Policy and an EU fund to retrain workers hit by the economic impact of globalisation.

Seattlepi.com: Vatican, Russian Orthodox officials meet and talk about EU Constitution

Seattlepi.com

Vatican, Russian Orthodox officials meet

MOSCOW -- The Vatican's foreign minister held talks Friday with Russian Orthodox Church leaders and government officials in an effort to expand ties between the Holy See and Moscow. With hopes that long-standing friction between the Vatican and the Russian church is beginning to ease, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo met with Metropolitan Kirill, who heads the Russian church's foreign relations department. "Cooperation between representatives of the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church already exists and is very good," Lajolo said at the beginning of talks with Kirill. "But of course it can come closer and more direct, first of all, so that the very essence of Christian values becomes more understandable." Pope John Paul II had long sought to visit Russia, and Pope Benedict XVI has continued his outreach to the Orthodox, saying that unifying all Christians was a "fundamental" priority of his pontificate.The talks also focused on the two churches' cooperation in the international sphere. The Russian Orthodox Church praised cooperation with the Vatican working through the European Union and the Council of Europe. Lajolo said the Russian Orthodox Church had made "an unparalleled contribution with its moral and spiritual values" to the process of working out the EU constitution. "We highly appraise the very opportunity for dialogue with you as a high representative of the Vatican," Kirill told the Vatican diplomat."We had a positive experience of cooperation with representatives of the Catholic Church when the draft of the EU Constitution was being prepared." Note EU-Digest: European politicians must make sure that the EU constitution recognizes the multi-cultural and multi-religion composition of its society and that it reflects a politically secular philosophy. Religious groups obviously can be consulted on the EU constitution, but religious doctrine must not be part of the EU constitution.

VietNamNet: European Union supports Vietnam's development goals

VietNamNet

European Union supports Vietnam's development goals

The European Union (EU) remains fully committed to supporting Vietnam's development goals, particularly in assisting the country integrate with the global economy, enhancing human development and reducing poverty, EU officials said here yesterday. Launching the annual "Blue Book," a directory of all developmental activities supported by the EU in Vietnam, British Ambassador to Vietnam, Robert Gordon, on behalf of UK's presidency of the EU Council, said the EU was Vietnam's most important development partner in terms of granting funds as well as the biggest trading partner. "We admire Vietnam's development achievements. The country is a good model of a successful partnership between the donor community and the Government," said Gordon, referring to EU's total disbursements, through various projects, at EUR326.8mil (over VND7tril) in 2004. This showed an increase of 0.6% over the previous year, which itself saw a growth of 4.5%. Of the total disbursements in 2004, grants accounted for around 76.4% and credits and loans 23.6%. In addition to providing bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, EU member states have channelled a considerable amount of ODA funds through multilateral financial institutions and other agencies.

10/28/05

The Times & The Sunday Times: EU leaders approve reform proposals

The Times & The Sunday Times, Malta

EU leaders approve reform proposals

European Union leaders yesterday cautiously approved a set of reform proposals by the European Commission including a fund to help those who lost their job as a result of globalisation. A number of EU leaders, however, were openly sceptical about the need for such a fund. The leaders of Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark and Estonia pointed out that existing structural and other European funds already help those affected by globalisation. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said there was support among all the EU leaders for economic reform and for better regulations to encourage economic growth. "We should not be scared of globalisation," Dr Gonzi told Maltese journalists at the end of the summit.

Financial Express: EU cannot be just a free trade area, says Chirac

Financial Express

EU cannot be just a free trade area, says Chirac

PARIS, Oct 26 (AFP): France will never allow the European Union to be "reduced to nothing more than a simple free trade zone," President Jacques Chirac said today, ahead of an informal EU summit in Britain. In an opinion article published by no less than 26 European newspapers, Chirac admitted that the rejection by French and Dutch voters of a planned EU Constitution treaty had been a setback, but called for the Union to "find the strength to gain new momentum." The rejection of the treaty had revealed "an acute crisis of confidence in the European project," Chirac admitted. In calling on the EU to get its second wind, the French leader said that "unless it abandons control of its own destiny, Europe cannot stop when the rest of the world is speeding up."

10/27/05

SPECIAL EU-DIGEST REPORT: WILMA HIGHLIGHTS POOR US INFRASTRUCTURE

EU-DIGEST

SPECIAL EU-DIGEST REPORT: WILMA HIGHLIGHTS POOR US INFRASTRUCTURE



Airports were shut down. Hotels are still cleaning up glass from blown out windows. Cruise lines jigger their itineraries because of closed ports. Over the past few years this has become a familiar drill for Florida's tourism industry.

Hit by eight hurricanes in 15 months, Florida's $55 billion tourism sector could certainly use a public relations makeover. Unfortunately the Public Relations Society of America canceled its annual conference in Miami Beach this week because of Hurricane Wilma.

"Our main concern was for the safety of our members," said Cedric Bess, a spokesman in New York for the association, which had planned to have 2,500 conferees at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

But all the blame should not go to Mother Nature.

As Wilma approached last week, Florida officials repeatedly insisted they were ready and assured they would avoid the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Jeb Bush, a Republican who is President Bush's brother, said his state had a "unified command" that would contrast with the sluggish state and federal response in Louisiana.

After Katrina, thousands of people waited for days in New Orleans before food, water and other relief reached them. When Rita threatened the Gulf Coast weeks later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had already stockpiled hundreds of truckloads of ice, food and water in forward positions in Texas and Louisiana.

Florida government officials bragged they could do better as Wilma approached. They did not.

Gov. Bush said Florida had 200 tractor-trailers in pre-staged areas loaded with ice and 225 loaded with water that were ready to be deployed right after Wilma swept through the state. There were 3,100 National Guard troops at the ready, with truckloads of tarps to cover roofs and more carrying ready-to-eat meals. The goal, virtually unprecedented in U.S. disasters, was to speed relief supplies to people within 24 hours of Wilma's landfall. Officials now say that schedule was wildly optimistic and probably contributed to a number of other communication problems in getting assistance to long, angry lines of people. It is remarkable, however, that Florida which frequently experiences hurricanes, does not have a well coordinated plan to avoid the situation South Florida finds itself in today. The electric power supply is another disaster. A variety of experts have recommended in the past that power lines be burried underground to avoid the massive power outages Florida experiences when the wind felocity barely exceeds 45 miles per hour or if it rains more than half a day. Florida officials have brushed this aside as being too costly.

Regardless, Wilma and Katrina have highlighted the poor shape in which the US infrastructure finds itself.

Crowded schools, traffic-choked roads and transit cutbacks are eroding the quality of American life, according to an analysis of the ASCE by civil engineers that recently gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D.

The overall grade slipped from the D+ given in 2001 and 2003. Conditions remained the same for bridges, dams and solid waste, the group said, and worsened in roads, drinking water, transit, wastewater, hazard waste, navigable waterways and energy.

Of the 12 infrastructure categories, none have improved since 2001. Three new categories were added for the 2005 report. Most Americans haven’t a clue how clean drinking water is delivered to their faucets or sufficient electrical energy moves through an aging grid or how, when the flush the toilet, waste is transported away. And every day, six billion gallons of clean, treated drinking water disappears mostly due to old, leaky pipes and water mains. That’s enough to serve the population of California.

It is not much better on the US highways. People grumble as they drive over highways that are increasingly filled with potholes and cracks, or a lack of streets add up to 3.5 billion hours of people stuck in traffic. Many still hope that public transit will help relieve this problem, but many transit services are borrowing funds just to maintain operations as they raise fares and cut back service. The funds for long-term transportation programs haven’t been authorized since they expired on September 30, 2003, although Congress seems close to passing funds for highway improvement.

For the first time since World War II, rail capacity has reached a point that has created choke points and delays likely, says the ASCE report, to increase the cost of freight rail 50 percent by 2020.

Everyone pays for such failure by not tending to critical elements of the infrastructure. Trucks deliver the bulk of all goods moved in the US. They need good roads. Food, chemicals, coal and a host of other goods move by rail. The ASCE report estimates that $12 to $13 billion per year needs to be spent to maintain existing rail infrastructure for future growth. It is not happening.

Mother nature's fury and US political leaders failure to fix the US infrastructure could very well also start blowing tourists away from Florida.

Hotel tax collections in vacation hotspots Orange County and Panama City Beach both dropped in August compared to last year, a potentially bad sign amid an otherwise strong recovery from a post-Sept. 11 freefall that trimmed 20% of the state's $57 billion tourism industry.

In general, hurricane Wilma, or for that matter the poor shape of the US infrastructure, didn't cause any major damage to hotels and other parts of Florida's tourism industry, but there's nothing like eight hurricanes in 15 months to get people thinking about visiting Hawaii or some other place instead of the Sunshine State.

CBC: European Union says dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu found in Croatia

CBCEuropean Union says dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu found in Croatia

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Union announced Wednesday the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu has been found in Croatia, the latest European nation to be hit by the virus.

"The Commission has been informed by the European Union reference laboratory in Weybridge that the virus isolated in wild birds in Croatia is indeed the H5N1 virus," said EU Commission spokesman Philip Tod. Meanwhile in Denmark, European health officials end a three-day review of the continent's readiness to contain an influenza pandemic with fears growing that bird flu is closing in on Europe's heartland. World Health Organization and EU experts have been meeting in Copenhagen since Monday to analyze the threat of the bird flu virus mutating into a type that can be spread between humans.

At the start of the meeting, experts said Europe was better prepared to contain outbreaks of bird flu than Asia because of better resources and communication between countries.

Times Online: EU Facing Facts

Times Online

EU Facing Facts

Today’s “informal” European Union summit at Hampton Court stands little risk of violating the EU Working Time Directive. The event, cut down to a single day, will not start until 10am and Tony Blair’s letter of invitation expresses the hope that “we can finish by about 6pm”. All 25 leaders have been asked to avoid “lengthy initial comments” and tear up their “prewritten speeches” — not that this is likely to stop Gerhard Schröder delivering a lengthy farewell lecture designed to make life even more difficult for his absent successor, Angela Merkel.

The ambitious stated goal of this fireside format is to allow “a truly political and strategic discussion about how we can work together . . . to take the opportunities and tackle the challenges facing us”. It is refreshing to see an EU summit devoted to policies rather than institutional knitting, but Mr Blair should have given his colleagues more time. In a mere eight hours it is hard to see how discussion can progress beyond cliché-ridden homologues about “ social Europe” and its supposed opposite, the lightly regulated, flexible economy. As host, Mr Blair may find himself openly accused of structuring the day to avoid the vexed topic of the EU’s budget for 2007-2113 — and his colleagues’ demand for the surrender of the British rebate.

A few basic facts need to be acknowledged. The first is that the EU is not in crisis. The collapse of the mistimed, overblown constitutional project is a plus, not a minus, and enlargement is already doing more to shake the EU out of its lethargy than the Lisbon agenda could have hoped to achieve. Listen to some of the dynamic new members’ experiences, the Prime Minister should say, and learn from them.

However the EU’s refusal to offer acceptable cuts in its farm tariffs has brought talks to breaking point. The EU is on notice, from the US and the developing world, to come up with a radically improved offer within ten days. If France blocks further progress, the WTO’s director-general Pascal Lamy may call off the December 12 ministerial meeting in Hong Kong. If this mammoth negotiation were to collapse, they may not resume before President Bush’s “fast track” negotiating authority expires. The risk to the multilateral trading regime would then be acute. Failure would be so damaging to EU growth and jobs that it would offset the most ambitious agenda for internal reform. And the consequences for Africa and beyond would be even more severe. The EU is not in crisis. But it is creating crisis at a global level

Forbes.com: EU SUMMIT UK says budget rebate to be discussed in December

Forbes.com

EU SUMMIT UK says budget rebate to be discussed in December

HAMPTON COURT, England (AFX) - The UK's budget rebate will be up for discussion at the EU summit in December, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said as European leaders meet here to discuss the bloc's future.

But the spokesman warned: 'The position hasn't changed since June.' In June, the UK opposed cuts to its rebate secured in 1984 by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher unless France agreed to a reduction in farm subsidies. The spokesman said of today's gathering: 'This is not the occasion on which we are discussing the rebate and future financing. That will be a matter for December.'

He downplayed differences between Blair and French President Jacques Chirac over the budget negotiations.

'I don't think we are pretending as we stand here today that there is total agreement,' he said.

EUobserver.com:Germany and Merkel dislike globalisation fund idea

EUobserver.com

Germany and Merkel dislike globalisation fund idea

German chancellor-designate Angela Merkel has said she is against the idea of an EU globalisation fund, in accordance with the view of outgoing chancellor Gerhard Schroder who will discuss the idea at his last EU leaders' summit today

10/25/05

Expatica: Schroeder insists on attending EU summit

Expatica's

Schroeder insists on attending EU summit

Chancellor Helmut Kohl, after being defeated by Gerhard Schroeder in 1998, graciously allowed his successor to represent him at a European Union summit despite his rival's not even having been sworn into office.

The incoming Schroeder thus had a chance to use the bloc's traditionally informal October summit as a get-to-know-you meeting without pressure to make any crucial European Union (E.U.) decisions. But seven years later, following his own defeat by Angela Merkel, Chancellor Schroeder sees no need for such statesmanlike gestures. The outgoing German leader insists he alone will attend the E.U.'s Hampton Court summit near London on Thursday despite having been formally discharged as Germany's head of government and now serving merely as caretaker.

"It's a political decision and a question of style," said Peter Becker, an E.U. expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, adding: "My personal view is that Kohl did the right thing in 1998."

Economics: Global warning

IT Week

Global warning

Academics try to define globalisation in all sorts of technical ways but the simple evidence is all around us: intercontinental travel, offshoring, shopping on Amazon, even Premiership footballers. Technology has done much to accelerate globalisation, and the internet has brought it right into people’s homes.

The emergence of China and India as major industrial and trading nations, and the break-up of the old Soviet empire, have been powerful catalysts for the acceleration of globalisation. The UK economy is no longer an autonomous business unit and has to compete internationally for resources such as raw materials, labour and investment spending by multinational companies, and for a share of the global market for goods and services.

This was one of the prime minister’s key themes at the June EU summit in Brussels. He wondered why Europe was so inward-looking, spending money on protecting its agricultural sector when the real challenge was to compete in world markets with the likes of China and India. Tony Blair wanted the EU’s industrial support programmes to focus on science and technology as a means of raising the added-value content of production. Few would disagree.

10/24/05

Boston.com: Bush/Cheney/Rove/-Lawyers see charges this week in CIA-leak case

Boston.com

Bush/Cheney/Rove/-Lawyers see charges this week in CIA-leak case

US Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers and other sources involved in case said on Sunday.Fitzgerald's investigation has focused largely on Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and their conversations about CIA operative Valerie Plame with reporters in June and July of 2003. Fitzgerald is expected to give final notice to officials facing charges as early as Monday and may convene the grand jury on Tuesday, a day earlier than usual, to deliver a summary of the case and ask for approval of the possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury is to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

Fitzgerald could still determine that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges, but the lawyers said that appeared increasingly unlikely. The White House initially denied that Rove and Libby were involved in any way in the leak.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Cat 3 Wilma spins toward South Florida with 115-mph winds - Europeans evacuated from dangerous areas

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Cat 3 Wilma spins toward South Florida with 115-mph winds - Europeans have been evacuated from dangerous areas

Hurricane Wilma's onslaught was expected to arrive before dawn Monday and continue through noon, with potential winds of more than 100 mph and up to 8 inches of rain.

This 12th hurricane of the busiest hurricane season on record was projected to strike near Naples with 115 mph winds by early Monday morning, then rapidly cross the state and emerging between West Palm Beach and Stuart by about noon. If that holds, South Florida would be on the storm's right, or more vicious side, with Wilma's wrath, including the potential for numerous tornadoes, extending about 200 miles from its core. In some areas, the storm could generate up to 12 inches of rain, prompting a flood watch through this afternoon. The state's East Coast, from Titusville to the Keys, was under a hurricane warning.

Schools in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade will be closed today and Tuesday. South Florida's major airports were shut down, but Broward County Aviation Director Tom Jargiello said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International likely would reopen later today. Travelers were advised to check with their airlines. Florida emergency officials expect widespread power outages and heavy flooding. Recovery crews were preparing to move in after Wilma moves out.

10/23/05

New Brisbane: British Bird Flu Is Deadly H5N1 Strain

New Brisbane

British Bird Flu Is Deadly H5N1 Strain

LONDON - The British government said Sunday that a strain of bird flu that killed a parrot in quarantine is the deadly H5N1 strain that has plagued Asia and recently spread to Europe. The virus is spread by migrating wild birds and has recently been found in birds in Russia, Turkey and Romania, spurring efforts around the globe to contain its spread.

Debby Reynolds, DEFRA‘s chief veterinarian, said the parrot was likely infected with the virus while it was housed in the country‘s quarantine system with birds from Taiwan. Tests conducted on the Taiwanese birds that had died were inconclusive, according to the department. It was Britain‘s first confirmed case of bird flu since 1992. The European Union said its bird flu experts will discuss a possible ban on imports of wild birds into the 25-nation bloc on Tuesday. The EU has so far resisted calls to ban all pet bird imports, fearing it could create a black market that could increase the threat of infected birds being smuggled in.

Sunday Herald: FINDING THE BEST WAY TO EUROPEAN UNION

Sunday Herald

FINDING THE BEST WAY TO EUROPEAN UNION

This Thursday, the EU’s top leaders – presidents and prime ministers – meet at Hampton Court palace, for what’s being called an “informal summit”, to cogitate about the very future of Europe. In contrast to the usual regimented “formal summits”, where leaders sit around a huge negotiating table and hammer out the wording of communiqués and directives, Tony Blair envisaged the Hampton Court get-together as more of a fireside chat – shirt-sleeves, cigars, a glass of wine – where the continent’s leaders could toss around a few ideas and think big thoughts.

But in an expanded EU of 25, it’ll have to be a very big fireplace. (It would be politically incorrect to suggest that the five or six leaders whose views actually matter could quite easily sit around a fondue set together and then just tell the others what had been decided.)

The British presidency has been much criticised for achieving very little. True, talks on Turkey’s accession to the EU were finally launched, a success that Jack Straw clutched from the jaws of Austrian efforts to scupper them. But one major issue facing the European Union – the need for speedy agreement on a budget for the next seven years – has been put on the back burner, for the simple reason that Britain is refusing to make any concessions on its budget rebate unless the French also agree to slash farm subsidies. Eurocrats wandering in the corridors of power in Brussels grumble darkly about an “invisible presidency” and six wasted months. But an even bigger cloud hangs over Hampton Court. Following the rejection by French and Dutch voters of the EU’s constitution, which took two years and zillions of euro braincells to write, the process of ratifying it has been stopped in its tracks. Plucky Luxembourg bucked the trend by voting in favour of the constitution, but everywhere else it’s been quietly buried, and the EU has entered what has been dubbed a “period of reflection”.

This debacle is merely a symptom of a much greater problem: the EU has lost its way and hasn’t the faintest idea where to go next.

Bangor Daily News: Telford Group Flight plan takes wing in Bangor Maine with Dutchman as President

Bangor Daily News

Telford Group Flight Flight plan takes wing with Dutchman as President

When Telford Allen II founded an aircraft charter company in Waterville, Maine more than 20 years ago, he started with four employees, two planes and one modest plan: Develop the charter business, sell and maintain a few planes and become the airport's fixed-base operator. Allen earned his private pilot's license before graduating from high school, couldn't have known what the small business would become. Today, The Telford Group is a $50 million company boasting 125 employees in sleepy Bangor Maine, a booming parts sales business and millions of dollars in government contracts. It's a long way from the two-plane, two-pilot operation of 1982 - the company is even building a blimp airship that requires no pilot at all.

Now mostly retired from the business, the 60-year-old Allen has turned over operations to his two sons and former Bangor International Airport director Bob Ziegelaar, a Dutchman. Telford Allen III serves as chairman, Travis Allen as vice president of operations, and Ziegelaar as president. On a recent tour of one of Telford's two facilities at Bangor International Airport, Ziegelaar walked among rows of 30-foot-high shelves of boxed parts, explaining the success of the parts sales operation that increasingly makes up Telford's business. "With parts going all over the world, it doesn't really matter where you are," he said, a plastic-wrapped propeller hanging on a nearby beam. The company has personnel stationed on several continents and ships parts, from engines to cockpit radios to toilet seats, all over the world. Numbering in the thousands, the parts are all inventoried in a computer program that can locate the components down to the row and shelf, Ziegelaar said. Back in Bangor, maintenance work keeps Telford's Odlin Road location humming with the clanking sounds of repair work. At the facility, which Telford leases from the city, mechanics crawled in and out of a 35-seat, DeHavilland Dash-8 regional turbine airplane, checking components and making repairs. Aircraft arrive at Telford from all over the world for regular maintenance, and are dismantled from ceiling to floor and reassembled within about a month's time, Ziegelaar said. For every day they're not flying, the planes are losing money for their owners, he said. "The whole airplane gets torn apart," Ziegelaar said. "It's an incredibly intense project." With the maintenance business brisk, Telford has hired approximately 20 mechanics in the last six months, and the company expects to hire 20 more to meet demand, Ziegelaar said.

Guardian Unlimited: Europe is hanging by a thread - Will Hutton

Guardian Unlimited

Europe is hanging by a thread by Will Hutton

The European Union today is a bit like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Tom has run over the cliff edge chasing Jerry and his legs are still pumping furiously in thin air; he's yet to plummet to earth to meet some grizzly end. The EU has gone over the cliff edge, its legs are still pumping, but there's no realisation among its leaders or the wider public that a vertiginous plummet is imminent. Next Thursday, European heads of government are meeting in London's Hampton Court Palace for the routine half yearly European Council meeting that takes place under each alternating country presidency. Typically the business agenda for these meetings writes itself - there's a row, there's a cobbled together agreement - and somehow the show stays on the road. This time it is different. The EU is in an existential crisis over what it is for, where it is headed, how it is to be governed and how to win popular Europe-wide consent. Despite the appearance of normality, the crisis is beginning to paralyse the entire operation.

News Analysis: Globalization drives a wedge into EU

International Herald Tribune

"News Analysis: Globalization drives a wedge into EU
By Graham Bowley International Herald Tribune

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2005

LONDON When European leaders gather in Britain on Thursday for an informal summit meeting to confront major economic challenges, they will confront a worsening relationship between France and the rest of the European Union that last week appeared in danger of spiraling out of control.

The latest flash point came when France broke with the rest of the Union to demand continued protection for Europe's farmers from cheaper producers elsewhere. It was the most recent of several clashes between Paris and Brussels this year as France has resisted efforts to liberalize Europe's services sector, sought to weaken rules on national finances, tried to protect major companies from foreign takeovers and pushed for new quotas on Chinese textiles."

Brussels’ Sincerity on Turkey’s EU Membership

JTW Editorial

"Brussels’ Sincerity on Turkey’s EU Membership

The European Parliament called Turkey to recognize the Armenian allegations before the EU talks. The EP lawmakers issued a nonbinding resolution saying recognition of the killings as genocide should be a prerequisite for Turkey to join the EU. The MEPs, and parliamentarians in the national parliaments in the EU spend hours and hours on the 1915 events. The French Prime Minister, Austrian CUD leader and many more EU politicians focus on the 1915 Armenian Relocation Campaign and try to force Turkey to recognize the Armenian ‘genocide’ allegations. If you read the European newspapers, you may think that the Armenian issue is the most vital problem of the European peoples. However al
l the things happened during the First World War before the EU and Turkey. It was Ottoman Empire years, and it is really difficult to understand the connection between Turkey’s EU talks and the 1915 Relocation Campaign. "

10/22/05

Foreign Policy: Seven Questions: What Awaits the Next Alan Greenspan

Foreign Policy: Seven Questions

Seven Questions: What Awaits the Next Alan Greenspan

Compared to hurricanes and Middle East turmoil, the state of the economy seems downright placid. But it’s a mistake to assume that all is well. Morgan Stanley Chief Economist Stephen S. Roach warns of a possible recession, presidential cronyism in the search for a new Fed chief, and the need for higher taxes. Read the full report by clicking on the headline.

Yahoo News: Poll shows Iraqis back attacks on UK, US forces - UK already has had 97 troups killed in Iraq

Yahoo! News

Poll shows Iraqis back attacks on UK, US forces - UK already has had 97 troups killed in Iraq

Forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defense leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph. Less than 1 percent of those polled believed that the forces were responsible for any improvement in security, according to poll figures. Eighty-two percent of those polled said they were "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops. The paper said the poll, conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team, was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense. Britain has more than 8,000 troops stationed in the south of Iraq, and has had 97 soldiers killed, the most recent the victim of a roadside bomb on Tuesday night.

esctoday.com: WATERLOO WINS WITH CONGRATULATIONS - Eurovision 50th Anniversary Song Contest

esctoday.com

WATERLOO WINS WITH CONGRATULATIONS - Eurovision 50th Anniversary Song Contest

Europe has voted; ABBA wins Congratulations, the anniversary show dedicated to 50 years Eurovision Song Contest. The 1974 Eurovision Song Contest winner ABBA can now add a new title to the long, long list; the all-time winner of 50 years Eurovision Song Contest! What else can we say than... Congratulations! The results of the songs that made it through the first voting round;

• 1958 - Italy - Domenico Modugno - Nel blu di pinto di blu (Volare)
• 1976 - UK - Brotherhood of Man - Save your kisses for me
• 1974 - Sweden - ABBA - Waterloo
• 2005 - Greece - Helena Paparizou - My number one
• 1987 - Ireland - Johnny Logan - Hold me now

The final results of Congratulations, after the second round of voting, after a medley of many memorable Eurovision Song Contest songs ánd a special Congratulations edition of the Olsen Brother's Walk right back, it was finally time for the results!

1. 1974 - Sweden - ABBA - Waterloo
2. 1958 - Italy - Domenico Modugno - Nel blu di pinto di blu (Volare)
3. 1987 - Ireland - Johnny Logan - Hold me now
4. 2005 - Greece - Helena Paparizou - My number one
5. 1976 - UK - Brotherhood of Man - Save your kisses for me

6. 2000 - Denmark - Olsen Brothers - Fly on the wings of love
7. 1982 - Germany - Nicole - Ein bißchen Frieden
8. 1968 - United Kingdom - Cliff Richard - Congratulations
9. 2003 - Turkey - Sertab - Everyway that I can
10. 1988 - Switzerland - Céline Dion - Ne partez pas sans moi

Washington Post: Mile by Mile or Km by Km, Into the Oil Trap by Fareed Zakaria

Washington Post

Mile by Mile or Km by Km, Into the Oil Trap by Fareed Zakarea

"If I could change one thing about American foreign policy, what would it be? The answer is easy, but it's not something most of us think of as foreign policy. I would adopt a serious national program geared toward energy efficiency and independence. Reducing our dependence on oil would be the single greatest multiplier of American power in the world. I leave it to economists to sort out what expensive oil does to America's growth and inflation prospects. What is less often noticed is how crippling this situation is for American foreign policy. "Everything we're trying to do in the world is made much more difficult in the current environment of rising oil prices," says Michael Mandelbaum, author of "The Ideas That Conquered the World."

EUROPA - Rapid : Speech by Joaquín Almunia "Time to address the economic challenges of Europe"

EUROPA - RApid

Speech by Joaquín Almunia "Time to address the economic challenges of Europe"

In his address about the economic challenges of Europe to the BDI, Federation of German Industries, EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary affairs said:"Real GDP growth in the euro zone should be around 1.2 % or 1.3% this year. However, in 2006 economic growth could again be around 2%. Europe is fully exposed to the increasingly globalised world economy. The globalisation of the economy means that Europe is now facing fierce competition both from low-cost economies like China and India and from innovation-driven economies like the US. Because of this pressure, public perceptions of globalisation are often characterised by suspicion, distrust or even hostility. But there is no reason to think that the overall impact of globalisation on the European economy will necessarily be negative. Trade liberalisation is beneficial to all trade partners, as it improves the allocation of resources and allows goods and services to be produced in the most efficient way. Sometimes, it means that there is a need to invest abroad. Some fear that the relocation of economic activities is affecting growth and job creation in the EU. But the data show that it has not in fact posed major problems at the macroeconomic level. Indeed, we are aware that it does have costs, which may be strongly felt, at least in the short term, in particular sectors, and in the regions where these sectors are concentrated. In order to seize the opportunities opened up by globalisation, European economies need to be reformed so as to increase their adjustment capacity and improve their ability to innovate. At the same time, any structural reform strategy must rest on a firm ground provided by a stable macroeconomic environment. The establishment of EMU has introduced a framework which – overall – has delivered the desired financial stability. Inflation is controlled and we have historically low interest rates. Whilst some Member States are experiencing some difficulties with deficits and debt, budgetary trends compare favourably with previous economic downturns. The reformed Stability and Growth Pact, which combines rigour and flexibility will contribute to the sustainability of public finances and also reinforce its contribution to growth and jobs. The new Pact preserves the EU’s fundamental fiscal rules for keeping budget deficits below 3 percent and government debt below 60 percent of GDP. At the same time it leaves more room for economic judgement in the application of these rules so as to better reflect the economic heterogeneity of the 25 Member States. We can for instance give more time to correct imbalances, take into account the level of debts and adjust accordingly the medium target fiscal target or be stricter when considering one off measures. While an appropriate framework for macroeconomic policy is crucial for good economic performance, it is self evident that more needs to be done. The disappointing growth in recent years and the failure to create a sufficient number of new jobs reflect a broader structural weakness in European competitiveness. This is the main problem that we have to tackle in the long-run if Europe is to succeed in the globalised world. Our calculations show that potential growth in Europe stands at a hardly satisfactory rate of 2%. Recent estimates show that population ageing alone might cut the rate of potential growth in half to a mere 1 per cent by 2040. In order to raise the potential growth rate we need to improve the implementation of structural reforms across the EU. Achieving sustainable higher growth rates requires above all reforms that will allow making better use of our labour force and reversing the declining trend in productivity growth."

AsiaMedia :Press freedom suffers in US, flourishes in Europe

AsiaMedia

Press freedom suffers in US, flourishes in Europe

European countries lead the world in providing press freedoms to media, while the US has lost ground due mainly to the jailing earlier this year of a New York Times reporter, an international media advocacy group said in an annual report.

North Korea retained the last spot on the 167-country World Press Freedom Index for this year published yesterday by Reporters Without Borders. Among the other "black holes" for media are Eritrea (166th) and Turkmenistan (165th), the group said in an advance statement. Iraq was 157th on the list, which said the safety of journalists became even more precarious this year than the year before. A total of 72 media workers have been killed since the US-led fighting began in March 2003, with at least 24 journalists and their assistants killed this year.
The US dropped more than 20 spots to 44th place, mainly due to the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and judicial action that was "undermining the privacy of journalistic sources," the statement said. Miller spent 85 days in jail for initially refusing to reveal the source who disclosed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. She was released this month after agreeing to testify before a grand jury. The top 10 countries on the list are European, led by Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands, where "robust press freedom is alive and well." Other Western democracies slipped in the index, including Canada (21) for decisions that turned some journalists into "court auxiliaries" and France (30) after court-ordered searches of media offices and interrogations of journalists, the group said.

Ghanaweb.com: Spain backs repatriation deal with Ghana

Ghanaweb.com

Spain backs repatriation deal with Ghana

Spain's cabinet gave the go-ahead on Friday to a repatriation deal with Ghana, which should ease pressure on Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla by allowing it to send back illegal Ghanaian migrants. Ghanaians were among the hundreds of illegal migrants who stormed the border fences surrounding the Spanish territories earlier this month. Ghanaian nationals are also often among the boatloads of sub-Saharan migrants who try to reach the Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco, seeking a better life in Europe. Spain's cabinet gave its approval to the agreement that has been negotiated with Ghana. Without repatriation agreements, Spain cannot return migrants to their countries of origin.

SETimes.com: EU says tests for bird flu in Greece negative

SETimes.com

EU says tests for bird flu in Greece negative

The EU announced on Thursday (20 October) that initial tests of bird samples from Greece have tested negative for the avian virus, popularly known as bird flu. The European Commission said, however, that it could not rule out avian flu in Greece altogether. Protective measures for the island of Oinousses, where a suspicious case was detected, will remain in place. In Greece the EU statement was overshadowed by media reports that the samples had not been taken properly and the findings may not reflect the actual situation. Supreme Court prosecutors have launched a probe into the matter.

United Press International - Analysis: EU, U.S. slug it out in cyberspace

United Press International - Analysis

EU, U.S. slug it out in cyberspace

It is not every day that world leaders have either the time or inclination to discuss the finer points of Internet domain name control.

But when U.S. President George W. Bush met European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the White House Tuesday he made a point of voicing his concerns about attempts to strip the United States of one of the most powerful weapons to come out of U.S. defense research: the Internet. Washington is riled at the European Union's decision to drop its support for the current system of Internet control, where Washington oversees the work of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit Californian organization that distributes I.P. addresses and creates and allocates suffixes such as .com, .org and .net. Brussels believes the United States' exclusive control over a global resource such as the Internet should be shared with the rest of the world's countries, although it stops short of calling for the creation of a new U.N. body to govern cyberspace. "We have to have a platform where leaders of the world can express their thoughts about the Internet," European Commissioner for Information Society Viviane Reding said last week. "If they have the impression that the Internet is dominated by one nation and it does not belong to all the nations, then the result could be that the Internet falls apart. "The EU's about-turn -- previously it had voiced no disquiet with the current U.S.-controlled system -- was greeted with much applause in Brazil and Iran, where governments have threatened to create their own Internet if the United States refuses to relinquish some control of cyberspace. Communist China and Cuba, countries not renowned for their enthusiasm for information sharing, support the EU's call for less U.S. government control of the Internet but go a step further in advocating an international body to oversee the Web.Critics of the current system argue the United States should not be allowed to control phone directories in Denmark or be allowed to allocate ZIP codes in India -- which is the equivalent of what ICANN is capable of doing in cyberspace. They also point to the Bush administration's recent decision to veto the creation of an .xxx suffix for sites with an adult content as proof that the United States should not be the world's sole arbiter of good or bad taste. U.S. officials find it inexplicable that the Brussels-based club has ganged up with the likes of Russia, China and Iran ahead of a U.N. summit on the information society in Tunisia next month. They argue that ICANN has never abused its authority and always adopted a light-touch approach to regulating the Internet.

10/21/05

Intellectualconservative.com: Does Condi Realize the Danger of Europe's Anti-Americanism? by Paul Belien

Intellectualconservative.com

Does Condi Realize the Danger of Europe's Anti-Americanism? - by Paul Belien

Anti-Americanism is more widespread in Western Europe now than it has ever been before, and its roots are much deeper than mere opposition to the Iraq War.
Paul Belien founded the Brussels-based think tank Centre for the New Europe, and acted as CNE's first managing director and research director from 1994 to 2000, when he left to write his Ph.D. dissertation and homeschool his five children. He is the editor of the Flemish quarterly Secessie and the editor-in-chief of The Brussels Journal. His most recent book is A Throne in Brussels. Republished with permission of The Brussels Journal.

DeHavilland: Tony Blair calls for unity on EU direction

Dehavilland

Tony Blair calls for unity on EU direction

Tony Blair has beseeched European Union leaders to put aside their differences over the next EU budget when they gather at a key globalisation summit at Hampton Court next week. The prime minister, who holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation bloc, wants to push ahead with key reforms to the EU's economy and social policy but has faced mounting pressure from France and Germany to re-examine core budget details. Mr Blair had wanted to set the summit agenda parameters beforehand but has been forced to make the gathering a more wide-ranging affair. He is also believed to have wanted to duck controversial issues but EU commission president Jose Barroso re-raised the issue of a five-point plan to smooth Anglo-Gallic tensions. Farm subsidies account for 40 per cent of the entire EU budget.

Reuters.co.uk: Glaxo and Astra to show EU pharma outshining U.S.

Reuters.co.uk

Glaxo and Astra to show EU pharma outshining U.S.

The U.S. drug sector is licking its wounds following Thursday's profit slump at Pfizer, the world's biggest pharmaceuticals company, but the picture is very different in Europe. Strong third-quarter results expected next week from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L: Quote, Profile, Research) will, once again, show European companies outshining their U.S. rivals, according to industry analysts.

Forbes.com: German Q3 real GDP likely to show significant growth vs Q2

Forbes.com

German Q3 real GDP likely to show significant growth vs Q2

Germany's economic recovery has picked up steam in the third quarter after moving sideways in the second quarter, with third quarter real GDP likely to show significant growth, according to the Bundesbank monthly report. 'Based on existing data, real GDP, when seasonally and calendar adjusted, is likely to have significantly increased in the third quarter, mainly due to developments in industry, construction, retail and external trade,' the bank said. 'With that, the upward movement in Germany's economy has continued during the summer months after moving sideways in the second quarter,' it added. In the second quarter, German GDP was flat on a seasonally, price and calendar-adjusted basis compared with the first quarter. Official third quarter figures are not due until next month. The bank noted robust developments in the manufacturing sector, which benefited from new orders from abroad and in turn generated more exports.

Euro weakest currency in 2005 as ECB keeps rate low

EUobserver.com

"Euro weakest currency in 2005 as ECB keeps rate low
21.10.2005 - 09:45 CET | By Mark Beunderman

The euro has been one of the weakest–performing currencies in the world in 2005, with one reason being the low interest rate-policy of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Financial Times Deutschland reports that when comparing the performance of 58 of the world’s main currencies, the euro only ranks at number 50."

10/20/05

BREITBART.COM - U.S. Troops Burn Taliban Bodies

BREITBART.COM

U.S. Troops BurnTaliban Bodies

The SBS television network broadcast video footage that purportedly showed U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of the suspected Taliban fighters in the hills outside the southern village of Gonbaz, near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
The network said the footage was taken by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont, who told The Associated Press he was embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army earlier this month. Dupont said the burnings happened on Oct. 1. In the footage, which was seen by the AP, two soldiers who spoke with American accents later read taunting messages that the SBS said were broadcast to the village, which was believed to be harboring Taliban soldiers. Dupont said the soldiers responsible for the taunting messages were part of a U.S. Army psychological operations unit. The U.S. military said the Army Criminal Investigation Division had opened an investigation into alleged misconduct that included "the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances." Dupont said the soldiers who burned the bodies said they did so for hygiene reasons. However, Dupont said the incendiary messages later broadcast by the U.S. army psychological operations unit indicated they were aware that the cremation would be perceived as a desecration. "They used that as a psychological warfare, I guess you'd call it. They used the fact that the Taliban were burned facing west (toward Mecca)," Dupont told SBS. "They deliberately wanted to incite that much anger from the Taliban so the Taliban could attack them ... . That's the only way they can find them." Ameer Ali, the head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said burning a body would be considered a desecration in the Islamic faith. The SBS report suggested the deliberate burning of bodies could violate the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of enemy remains in wartime. Under the Geneva Conventions, soldiers must ensure that the "dead are honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged."

Iraq Coalition Casualties: The disaster Continues

Iraq Coalition Casualties

The disaster Continues

Total number of coalition forces killed now reaches 2187 following the death of a US marine today. Total number of coalition wounded now approaching 18.000. More than 100.000 Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion of Iraq.

EUobserver.com: Barroso begs Blair for Christmas budget

EUobserver.com

Barroso begs Blair for Christmas budget

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso made a strong appeal on Thursday (20 October) to EU president and UK leader Tony Blair to get a budget deal by Christmas. "If not, we might well open a period of political instability and this is the last thing we need in Europe", he said. "A new failure would be very, very heavy". The speech was backed up by five ideas to reconcile Anglo-Saxon calls for EU modernisation and Gallic worry over agriculture and social protection, which derailed budget talks in June. The timing of the appeal is designed to spark debate at the mini-summit in Hampton Court, UK, next week and to feed into UK presidency drafting of a new negotiating box due out in early November. Hampton Court will ostensibly deal with social issues such as the ageing EU population, but Mr Blair's broadly-worded agenda on jobs and globalisation leaves room for budget talks, free from the burden of public expectation.

Aljazeera.Net - Turkmen add new level to Iraq fighting

Aljazeera.Net

Turkmen add new level to Iraq fighting

Eight-year-old Jena Fetah crosses the hospital floor, and using her bandaged hands, she tries clumsily to lift herself onto her sister Ruyha's bed. Before Jena succeeds in her efforts, the girl's father, Ahmet, issues a warning from his own cot across the room. The reason for his intervention is nine-year-old Ruyha is far more badly burned than her younger sibling. She is immobilised in the centre of the bed and her sheets are suspended above her so as not to touch her exposed flesh and scalded skin. Given the extent of Ruyha's burns, the doctor estimates it will be at least eight months before they can grow and graft enough healthy skin to cover all the wounds. Ahmet's burns are severe, too; but limited to his face and hands. His left leg was also shattered by shrapnel. All three members of the Fetah family are housed in a special burns ward at a hospital in Ankara. They were part of a badly wounded group of eight Iraqi survivors of a bombing in Tuz Khurmatu that were evacuated to Turkey for specialist medical treatment. The reason the Turkish government extended its healthcare facilities to these patients is that the residents of Tuz Khurmatu are Iraqi Turkmen (Turkish-speaking indigenous Iraqi tribes). Beyond a shared language and culture, the approximately two million Iraqi Turkmen also represent a political foothold for Turkey in the oil rich regions of northern Iraq.

Deutsche Welle: Frankfurt Book Fair Hits Trendy Note

Deutsche WelleFrankfurt Book Fair Hits Trendy Note

Frankfurt Book Fair Hits Trendy Note

It's not just for bookworms anymore: With Asterix comics and the latest Wim Wenders film sharing the spotlight alongside Nobel prize winners, the Frankfurt book fair is rocking and rolling like never before. The world's most important book fair officially opens to visitors in Frankfurt on Wednesday with the creator of the Asterix comics rubbing shoulders with writers considered the moral conscience of South Korea. After the Arab world last year, South Korea is the guest of honour at the 57th annual Frankfurt Book Fair and has brought 62 authors to Germany to introduce them to the western public. "Korea is an unknown country in Europe. Korean culture is overshadowed by Japan and China," said Hwang Chi-Woo, the author acting as director of the guest of honour delegation. He said his aim was simply to get Europeans to talk about his country's writing and to understand its quiet understatement, which he compared to "the light that softens everything."

SetTimes: Corruption still rampant in SEE Countries - Poland most corrupt EU member

SETimes.com

Corruption still rampant in SEE Countries

The level of corruption remains high across Southeast Europe (SEE), Transparency International's (TI) annual survey of corruption perceptions in 159 countries suggests. According to its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2005, released Tuesday (18 October), Iceland, Finland and New Zealand are the least corrupt countries among those surveyed. At the bottom of the table are some of the world's poorest countries, including Bangladesh, Chad and Turkmenistan. The CPI is a composite survey, reflecting the perceptions of businesspeople and country analysts, both resident and non-resident, and drawing on 16 different polls from ten independent institutions. It ranks countries on the basis of a perceptions scale of 10 to 0, with 10 indicating most honest and 0 most corrupt. All SEE countries, except for Cyprus, score less than 5.0, placing them among 113 world nations, or 70 per cent of those surveyed, where "corruption pervades all aspects of public life," said TI Chairman Peter Eigen. Turkey ranks 65th with 3.5 points, Croatia takes 70th position with 3.4 and Romania is 85th with 3.0. Turkey, which scored 3.2 in last year's CPI, was listed among a number of countries and territories that have shown "noteworthy improvements". Compared to the 2004 index, Bulgaria's score this year is 0.1 points lower, while those of Croatia and Romania are both 0.1 points higher. Finland is the least corrupt, followed closely by Denmark and Sweden. According to the report, Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland have performed relatively poorly and "show little or no sign of improvement". Poland is listed as the most corrupt EU Member. This could weaken the credibility of the EU in the fight against corruption in its new members and in countries proposed for accession. However, countries that are involved in the accession process show more positive signs than countries that are not. Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia and Romania are the best performers in the non-EU South and Eastern European countries.

Dow Jones News: EU To Propose Law Making Pensions Portable

Dow Jones News

EU To Propose Law Making Pensions Portable

In order to free the movement of labor in Europe, the European Commission will propose Thursday a new law making it easier to transfer pension plans from one country to another, according to a document seen Wednesday by Dow Jones Newswires. Until now, the E.U. has only required governments to treat workers equally in giving out pensions, and workers often lose money by moving abroad. Under the new law, workers can choose to leave their pension in their original country or company ,or move to their new country or company's plan. They will have 18 months to decide. Governments must allow them to join the new scheme within a year. If a worker chooses to enter the new scheme, governments must ensure the worker's pension rights "are adjusted in order not to penalize the mobile worker," the document reads. The vested period of the new pension must be no longer than two years, the proposal states. The E.U. parliament and national governments still must approve the changes. In the document, the Commission argues the measure will increase labor mobility, a major weakness of the European economy.

10/19/05

Europe Under Siege

FrontPageMagazine.com

"Europe Under Siege
By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 18, 2005

Two recent stories dramatically illustrate Europe’s looming immigration problem.

One concerns a gang estimated to have smuggled 100,000 illegal immigrants, mainly Turkish Kurds, into Great Britain. These economic migrants paid between �3,000 and �5,000 to be transported via an elaborate and dangerous route. The Independent explains: “Their journeys lasted several weeks and involved safe houses, lorries with secret compartments and, in some cases, clandestine flights to airfields in the South-east.”

A senior British police source commented that “It’s a tortuous journey, full of discomfort and danger, but they are determined to get here, given the particular attraction of London’s established Turkish community.”
Turks are hardly alone in wanting access to Europe; the second story concerns human waves of impoverished sub-Saharan Africans storming and breaching fences to enter two tiny Spanish enclaves on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla."

Amnesty International Urges EU to Pressure Bulgaria, Romania

Novinite

Amnesty International Urges EU to Pressure Bulgaria, Romania

The human rights organization Amnesty International called on the European Union to keep up pressure on Bulgaria and Romania days before the annual monitoring reports on the two accession countries are released. Amnesty International says these countries still present areas of concern where individuals' rights are violated in breach of international human rights standards. In a briefing paper released on Wednesday, the human rights watchdog invited the EU to urge the Bulgarian and Romanian governments to guarantee the human rights of the mentally disabled, curb the use of excessive force by the police, prevent racism and discrimination against the Roma populations by effectively ensuring that discriminatory and racist actions do not go unpunished.

CHN: 12 Economic Sisters Cities for Tehran

CHN

12 Economic Sisters Cities for Tehran

Cooperation contracts between Chambers of Commerce of different cities make them somehow economic sister cities. “Signing the cooperation contracts and memoranda of understanding between Chambers of Commerce will led to the cooperation of businessmen from the two engaged countries in investment, finding solutions to their business problems, choosing partners in the host country, and taking advantage of the experiences and capabilities of each other,” says Jamshid Edalatian, deputy of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce in his talk to CHN. According to Edalatian, in a recent trip of a business delegation of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce and Mines and Industries to Austria, a memorandum of understanding was signed for exchanging commercial and economic information. Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce has signed some important contracts with different countries. “Training and providing information with regard to economy and investment is a basic principal of these contracts, according to which business counterparts can help each other in investing and economic activities in the host country if they want,” added Edalatian. According to Edalatian, Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce and Mines and Industry’s have signed such a memorandum of understandings with those of some cities such as Baghdad, Zagreb, Moscow, Dhaka, Milan, Jeddah, Riyadh, Sofia, and Durban, also Slovenia, Slovakia, Oslo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EurActive: EU Finance ministers push ahead with financial services agenda

EurActive

EU Finance ministers push ahead with financial services agenda

The clear message from the EcoFin Council is that the optimum functioning of the financial services sector, both within Europe and globally, is crucial for the economic future of the Union. The adoption of the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) and the 8th Company Law Directive mark a successful conclusion to the Financial Services Action Plan.

The NewsAhead Agency: Chinese President Hu Jintao makes controversial visit to Britain

The NewsAhead Agency

Chinese President Hu Jintao makes controversial visit to Britain

Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Britain at the invitation of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has set himself on a collision course with human rights campaigners for making the invitation. Hu, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, is certain to be greeted by protests from the Free Tibet and Falun Gong movements and by human rights campaigners. Blair meets Hu in his capacity of leader of both the European Union and the G-8 of industrialized countries. The breakneck speed of China’s economic and foreign export growth has the European Union and G-8 torn between fear and admiration, and both bodies are pressuring China to adjust its currency system as a way to bring prices for Chinese exports more in line with competitors. Blair is likely to pick up the theme, but Beijing repeatedly says it will only make adjustments when the economy is ready. Trade and the 16-year-old arms embargo against China are certain topics. China wants EU status as a market economy, and wants the arms embargo lifted. There has been some interest in lifting the embargo in the European Union, and the issue is expected to be picked up again at the October EU summit, but continuining pressure from the United States to keep it in place is lively to prevail.

10/18/05

Xinhua - Mandelson wins EU support on world trade talks

Xinhua

Mandelson wins EU support on world trade talks

European Union (EU) trade commissioner Peter Mandelson on Tuesday won overwhelming support from EU member states, availing him of staying the course in world trade talks. At an EU foreign ministers' emergency meeting, Mandelson faced down France, which had demanded guarantees that he make no excessive concessions at the expense of French farmers. "There was no consensus on the (France's) proposal," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who chaired the meeting. Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Straw stressed that the meeting has come up with three outcomes, including one expressing broad support for Mandelson's negotiatingstrategy because reigning him in would only "make (WTO) negotiations impossible." The second is that the ministers reaffirmed the importance of achieving a "balanced outcome" within and across all of the main elements of the Doha Work Program.

Uruknet.info: Iraq’s constitutional referendum makes a mockery of democracy

Uruknet.info

Iraq’s constitutional referendum makes a mockery of democracy

Under the transitional law drawn up by US officials in 2003, originally to guarantee the support of Kurdish parties, the referendum would be lost if a two-thirds majority in three provinces voted no. Sunni organisations and parties have been encouraging their supporters to register and to vote against the draft constitution, making it quite possible that the document will be rejected. Such a result would be a disaster not just for the regime in Baghdad, but for the Bush administration which has sought to legitimise its occupation through the referendum and national elections planned for mid-December. In the event of a defeat, and if the transitional law were followed, it would mean going back to square one: fresh elections, a new government, a rewritten constitution and another referendum, with no guarantee this one would be accepted either. Martin Navaias, a defence analyst at King’s College London, commented to Reuters: “The fact is the consequences of this referendum being rejected are massive; they’re just too ghastly to contemplate. If this referendum is rejected, it’s an explicit rejection of the whole political process... It cannot be allowed to fail. ”It was no surprise therefore that the Iraqi National Assembly voted to blatantly rig the referendum in favour of a yes vote. Under the amended rules, a two-thirds majority of registered voters in three provinces would be required to reject the referendum. In other words, if the turnout did not reach two-thirds or 67 percent, it would be impossible for the draft constitution to be defeated. Interestingly, the same definition was not applied to acceptance of the constitution, which still only required a simple majority of those who vote. Despite the government’s attempts to push the changes through quietly, Sunni leaders reacted angrily and called for a boycott unless the amendments were reversed. Fearful that a low Sunni turnout would further undermine the legitimacy of the vote, UN and US officials criticised the new rules. As a result, the National Assembly voted to overturn the amendments.

The furore threatened to derail behind-the-scenes efforts by US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to engineer a deal to split the Sunni vote. Sunni organisations oppose the federal structure contained in the draft constitution, which would pave the way for the establishment of regional governments in the oil-rich Kurdish north and the Shiite south with extensive powers, including over oil revenues and security forces. The predominantly Sunni central and western provinces would lack resources and influence."

Note by EU-Digest: The results of the October 15 election have now been delayed to allow "election workers" to audit results showing unexpected ratios of "yes" to "no" votes from some parts of Iraq in the country's landmark referendum on the draft constitution, officials said Monday. Word of the review came as Sunni Arab leaders repeated accusations of fraud after initial reports from the provinces suggested the constitution had passed. Among the Sunni allegations are that police took ballot boxes from heavily "no" districts, and that some "yes" areas had more votes than registered voters.

However, the Iraqi Electoral Commission has made no mention of fraud, and an official with knowledge of the election process cautioned that it was too early to say whether the unusual numbers were incorrect or if they would have an effect on the outcome. The high numbers were seen among the nine Shiite provinces of the south and the three Kurdish ones in the north, al-Lami told the Associated Press. Those provinces reported to AP "yes" votes above 90 percent, with some as high as 97 and 98 percent. It is remarkable that these election percentages for "favored" candidates are now similar to the old days when Sadam officials were running the show and his candidates ran away with the election.

Forbes.com: France says EU proposal on farm trade tariff cuts may be acceptable

Forbes.com

France says EU proposal on farm trade tariff cuts may be acceptable

France softened its criticism of the EU's offer to cut import duties on agricultural products by 20-50 pct, saying EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's proposals may be acceptable, even if barely so. 'The proposals he has made leaves us think that he is at the limit or slightly beyond the desirable limits,' French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said in an interview with the daily La Tribune. Last week, President Jacques Chirac Chirac called for a 'reorientation' in the EU stance 'in order to come back to the spirit of Doha and to reach in 2006 a balanced deal that is acceptable to France,' according to his office.

IOL: EU Ministers in emergency talks as bird flu reaches Europe

IOL

EU Ministers in emergency talks as bird flu reaches Europe

European Union foreign ministers are holding emergency talks today on the widening bird flu scare, a day after tests in Greece indicated the virus had reached the EU for the first time. The EU is preparing to ban sales of live birds and poultry from the Aegean Sea region of Chios, pending tests on samples taken from turkeys feared infected with the deadly Asian H5N1 strain. Poultry from Turkey and Romania has already been banned by the EU as bird flu found there was confirmed as H5N1. Tests were also being carried out on birds in Bulgaria and Croatia. Officials said the foreign ministers are to discuss the international response to the westward spread of bird flu and take stock of EU nations’ readiness to deal with a possible pandemic. The EU stepped up biosecurity measures and installed early detection systems along the migratory paths of birds to prevent contamination of domestic flocks. But there are concerns that European nations lack stockpiles of vaccines and anti-virals to cope with a major outbreak. The World Health Organisation recommends governments keep stocks of anti-viral drugs and regular human flu vaccines to inoculate at least 25% of their populations. European officials say the 25 nations in the EU, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, have only 10 million doses now for an area of almost 500 million people, and will have only 46 million doses by the end of 2007.

10/17/05

Radio Netherlands: Send them back: Dutch integration minister wants to deport immigrant petty criminals

Radio Netherlands

Send them back: Dutch integration minister wants to deport immigrant petty criminals

Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk is pushing through new measures to expel all immigrants who commit crimes, irrespective of how serious they are.Under current law, moves can only be made to deport an immigrant from the Netherlands if they are imprisoned for serious offences, and the length of time they have already spent in the Netherlands must also be taken into account.

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NewKerala - India's Top Online Newspaper: US concern and intervention over Cuba overshadows Spanish summit

NewKerala - India's Top Online Newspaper

US concern and intervention over Cuba overshadows Spanish summit

SALAMANCA, Spain: Leaders from Spain, Portugal and Latin America debated immigration and debt today but talks were overshadowed by an unusual intervention by the United States, concerned over summit support for Cuba.

The two-day summit neared its end after leaders and ministers from 22 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries discussed terrorism, aid to Central America and how to give their Ibero-American grouping a higher international profile. The leaders found it hard to shake off controversy over Cuba which has dominated the summit despite the unexplained absence of Cuba's veteran communist leader, Fidel Castro. The US embassy in Madrid publicly announced its concern over a Cuban-backed resolution on terrorism being debated at the summit and a second resolution calling for an end to the US trade embargo on Cuba.

''It would be unfortunate if these texts were interpreted as a sign of support for the Castro dictatorship,'' a US embassy spokesman said.

EUPolitix.com - EU's Margot Wallström speaks out on Plan D

EUPolitix.com

EU's Margot Wallström speaks out on Plan D

Margot Wallström is European Commission Vice-President responsible for institutional relations and communications strategy.

Margot Wallström: Plan D stands for Debate, Dialogue and Democracy. Plan D is the way to engage with people. It is no rescue operation for the constitution, it is something that runs for a much longer period of time. Plan D will kick off the ‘period of reflection’ and it has to happen in member states and mainly under the responsibility of member states. We have listed the kind of initiatives where we can help and assist member states, together with the European Parliament and other actors as well, national parliaments and civil society. We have tried to make an inventory of things that can be used as instruments to engage in this debate. Of course democracy takes time, one year is not enough, you have to engage in something that really becomes part of democratic debate and discussion in Europe.

Question: What is Europe’s positive story for the new generation? What does it mean to be a European?

Margot Wallström: The words we use to describe our medium and long term objectives are fine. We speak about prosperity, jobs and growth. We speak about a role in the world. We speak about solidarity, between generations and the way we work to ensure social protection. We speak about security. We have to fight terrorism together, we have to fight cross-border problems together. These arguments can create the modern story of Europe.

Question: In terms of leadership, where is it going to come from? France – no, Germany – probably no, the UK – it seems not. Who will dare to take on the argument?

Margot Wallström: Leadership always has to come from within. European leaders have to show that they are committed. They have to show their values. I think this is why so many people ask about values. They want to see European leaders stand up and say why they are engaged in European cooperation. But if that leadership is not there then the role of the commission is to be the motor. The ones who kick things off, who start to get something going and to keep it running.

Dominican Today: Calls for European Union-Latin America strategic link

Dominican Today

Calls for European Union-Latin America strategic link

SALAMANCA, Spain. – The 15th Latin American Summit closed yesterday, Saturday stressing the "new impulse" given to the organization and the importance of providing the people with well-being and placing their problems in the center of the political action. In addition, in the Summit of Salamanca was accepted the Dominican president Leonel Fernandez’s proposal to promote the exchange of the foreign debt for social spending. In addition to the Latin American heads of State, the Spanish monarchs king Juan Carlos de Borbon, queen Sofia and prince Felipe attended the closing ceremony. For his part, Spain’s prime minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero said that the Salamanca Summit is the beginning of "a new voyage" for the Ibero-American community, and asked that efforts be widened to forge a strategic association between the European Union and Latin America.

Forex News: Italy's Prodi wins primary election to head centre-left in 2006 general election

Forex News

Italy's Prodi wins primary election to head centre-left in 2006 general election

Italy's Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission has won the US-style primary election to lead the centre-left in next year's general elections, said news agencies.
Prodi has won 74.6 pct of the 4 mln votes cast, followed by leader of the Refounded Communists Fausto Bertinotti with 14.6 pct, Ansa said, citing primary organisers and based on 92.4 pct votes counted. Prodi, who is not aligned with any specific centre-left party, will head the challenge to the centre-right government led by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in the scheduled Spring election. However, yesterday's primary election, the first of its type in Italy, was marred by the killing of the vice-president of the Calabria regional authority Francesco Fortugna at a voting station. Murder investigators were cited by Corriere della Sera newspaper saying the shooting was "a pure mafia-style execution". The death of Fortugna, from the centre-left Margherita party, is seen as a warning to political parties from the mafia, which has wide interests from farming to public works contracts, it said.

10/16/05

New York Times: The Faith-Based President Defrocked - by Frank Rich

New York Times

The Faith-Based President Defrocked

George Will wrote in the op-ed column that last week galvanized conservative opposition to the nomination. He then went on to list several reasons why he doesn't trust Mr. Bush. As if to prove the point, the president went out to the Rose Garden and let loose with one whopper after another in his first press conference in four months.

"Of all the people in the United States you had to choose from, is Harriet Miers the most qualified to serve on the Supreme Court?" Mr. Bush was asked. "Yes," he answered. Has he ever discussed abortion with her? "Not to my recollection." How much political capital does he have left? "Plenty." With a straight face he promised that Ms. Miers was "not going to change" and that "20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today." Even were that a praiseworthy attribute, it would still contradict the history of a woman who abandoned her Roman Catholic faith for evangelical Christianity and the Democratic Party for the Republicans.

BUT Mr. Bush's dissembling wasn't limited to his Supreme Court nominee. Asked how he was going to pay for Katrina recovery, the president twice said he'd proposed $187 billion in budget cuts over 10 years - but failed to factor in his tax proposals and other budget increases. The real net total for proposed Bush cuts is $103 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and even less according to some independent number crunchers. Turning to Iraq, Mr. Bush once again fudged our "progress" there with a numerical bait-and-switch, bragging about "30 Iraqi battalions in the lead." (Translation: in the lead with American military support.) Less than a week earlier his own commanders had told Congress that the number of Iraqi battalions capable of fighting unaided had dropped from 3 to 1 since June. (Translation: 750 soldiers are now ready to stand up on their own should America's 140,000 troops stand down.) For good measure, Mr. Bush then flouted credibility one more time to set the stage for the next administration fiasco. In the event of a bird flu epidemic, he said, one option for effecting a quarantine would be to use the military. What military? Last week The Army Times reported that the Pentagon, its resources already overstretched by Iraq, would try to bolster sagging recruitment by tapping "a demographic long deemed off limits: high school dropouts who don't have a General Educational Development credential."

Like most Bush fictions, the latest are driven less by ideology than by a desire to hide incompetence. But there's a self-destructive impulse at work as well. "The best way to get the news is from objective sources," the president told Brit Hume of Fox News two years ago. "And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world." Thus does the White House compound the sin of substituting propaganda for effective action by falling for the same spin it showers on the public."

Oregon State Daily Barometer Online - A poor choice for Germany, EU and U.S.

Oregon State Daily Barometer Online

A poor choice for Germany, EU and U.S.

Unless a last minute change were to occur, Angela Merkel is set to become Germany’s first woman — and Eastern German — chancellor. While to many it might seem a very progressive move — of all the large western nations, Germany is only the second to elect a woman as head of the executive branch of government — it is good for neither Germany, Europe or us.
The conservatives won the election by three parliamentary seats, but only because of a last-minute coalition between two parties: the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union. The alliance between these two political formations is about as natural as tropical weather in Oregon. Their outlooks on what is best for Germany were clearly different during the campaign and are likely to remain so. Yet, in order to govern they must consistently vote together. It is unlikely that Merkel has the clout or charisma to encourage the grand coalition to work together and water their wine very long. While the large majority of Germans were clamoring for a change in leadership, Merkel managed to blow a 23-point early lead, loose her state and the women’s vote. This grand coalition has porcelain footing and the most likely outcome is an early dissolution of parliament and a call for elections. Merkel is bad news for the European Union as she has already indicated that she favors one-on-one relationships with foreign nations. This politic is likely to add more sand to the already battered EU machine. It is ludicrous to believe that if Germany chooses to enter into a preferential relationship with, say, the United States, that other members of the EU wouldn’t do the same with different countries.

Gulf Daily News: EU ready to delay action against Germany

Gulf Daily News

EU ready to delay action against Germany

The European Commission is prepared to wait until 2006 before reviving disciplinary proceedings against Germany for repeated breaches of European Union budget rules, a German magazine reported yesterday. EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is ready to delay until early next year a move that had been expected in November in order to help Germany form its next government, weekly magazine Focus said, citing sources close to Almunia. Following a September 18 election that yielded no clear winner, talks between the conservatives under Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel and the incumbent Social Democrats (SPD) aimed at producing a coalition government are due to start tomorrow. Germany's budget deficit will exceed the three per cent of gross domestic product limit prescribed by the EU's Stability and Growth Pact for a fourth straight year in 2005. Merkel's Christian Democrats and the SPD have acknowledged the need to respect EU budgetary rules as soon as possible and designated Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck (SPD) on Friday mooted a return below the 3pc cap in 2007.
However, there still appear to be differences between the two sides on how best to proceed with budgetary consolidation. The SPD will urge federal spending cuts of 14.5 billion euros ($17.4bn) in the talks as part of a plan to meet pact requirements in 2007, party sources said yesterday.

Croatia and Turkey can add diversity and responsibility to the EU

Turkish Daily News:

"Croatia and Turkey can add diversity and responsibility to the EU
Sunday, October 16, 2005

HIDO BISCEVIC *

It is with pride that I write these words. Just a little more than a decade ago, with my dear friend and inspiring colleague Yuksel, we started a long journey that somewhat miraculously ended on that historic night in Luxembourg's Kiem Conference Center when Croatia and Turkey simultaneously began European Union accession negotiations.

The journey went through difficulties that are sometimes underestimated today: War waged by Belgrade's regime of that time against almost all non-Serbian nations and non-Orthodox religious communities in the region between the Adriatic coast and Bosporus Straits -- with the background of a reluctant and intrigue-mingled international policy of the time -- brought us together."