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11/30/05

Reuters AlertNet - High Level US Pressure Group Seeks to Reverse Dutch Doubts on Afghan mission

Reuters AlertNet

US seeks to reverse Dutch doubts on Afghan mission

THE HAGUE, Nov 30 (Reuters) - U.S. officials held talks with the Dutch government on Wednesday to try to persuade the Netherlands to send more troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO plan to expand peacekeeping despite increasing violence. Daniel Fried, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, and Peter Flory, assistant secretary of defence for international security policy, met Foreign Minister Bernard Bot and other officials ahead of a possible cabinet decision on the plan on Friday. Asked about Dutch requests for U.S. guarantees of support for the expansion of the NATO-led ISAF mission, Flory said: "I can't imagine a situation where an attack on forces in the south would overwhelm the capabilities of the forces of ISAF."

The talks come amid mounting Dutch concerns about the plans to send 1,100 extra troops to the more dangerous south of Afghanistan along with forces from Britain and Canada, allowing the U.S.-led coalition to cut the size of its operation there. Some 600 Dutch troops are already serving in Afghanistan. The majority of Dutch politicians and voters are not in favor of expanding their support. Polls show that the present center-right government of the Netherlands has not more than 30% support of the Dutch voters. Sending more troops to Afghanistan will certainly mean the kiss of death for the political future of the Dutch Balkenende Government. Politicians in the Netherlands, like everywhere in Europe, are also concerned by the reports of CIA infiltrations and torture on European soil.

UPI - U.K. faces legal threat over CIA flights

UPI

U.K. faces legal threat over CIA flights

A leading human rights group has threatened the British government with legal action if it does not investigate claims that CIA flights, allegedly carrying detainees to secret prisons for torture, were allowed to land at British airports. The prominent human rights group Liberty demanded Wednesday the foreign secretary and eight domestic police forces investigate the allegations within 14 days. If they do not comply, the group will launch a court action to "enforce their obligation" to investigate, Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti told United Press International. Liberty said the British government would be in breach of international and domestic law if it was found to be allowing U.S. "extraordinary rendition" flights to stop and refuel at its airports.

International outrage has been mounting since The Washington Post reported earlier this month the CIA was operating a global network of so-called "black sites," secret prisons where it holds prisoners incommunicado. There, it is alleged, they are tortured.

OpedNews: In Spain, police have identified as many as 42 CIA operatives - investigations underway all over Europe

OPEDNEWS

In Spain, police have identified as many as 42 CIA operatives - investigations underway all over Europe

In Spain, police have identified as many as 42 CIA operatives suspected of having taken part extraordinary rendition flights of kidnapped terror suspects to interrogation centers in Afghanistan, Egypt, and other countries with relaxed torture laws. The Spanish are investigating because a dozen such flights stopped over in Mallorca on their way to their final destination. Prosecutors in Munich have asked Spanish police for a copy of their findings as part of Germany's investigation into the kidnapping of a German citizen who was tortured and beaten for six months before his abductors realized he had no connection to terrorism. Some of the CIA operatives identified by the Spanish police are reportedly among the more than 20 agents who have been indicted by Italian prosecutors on similar charges. Italian prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for the CIA agents and have asked the Italian Justice Ministry to demand the agents' extradition from the U.S. The governments of Sweden and Norway are conducting their own investigations into CIA torture flights using their airfields. Switzerland is investigating whether the United States violated Swiss sovereignty and international law by routing CIA flights through Geneva. The EU has also requested that its Satellite Tracking Center turn over imagery of alleged CIA black sites in Romania and Poland. Moreover, the EU's executive body has directed its head of the Department of Justice, Freedom and Security, to demand answers from the Bush administration regarding the secret prisons.

European political insiders believe that in all likelihood, the United States in general, and the Bush administration in particular, will simply dismiss the various European investigations as politically motivated. Alternatively, the U.S. will ignore the investigations outright.

Helsingin Sanomat - Finnish Parliament takes positive view of EU constitution treaty - Ratification to be considered in spring

Helsingin Sanomat

Finnish Parliament takes positive view of EU constitution treaty - Ratification to be considered in spring

The government’s report on the proposed European Union constitution got a fairly positive reception in Parliament on Tuesday. The only negative views were expressed by MP Timo Soini (True Finns) and the Christian Democrats, who questioned the wisdom of spending so much time discussing a treaty that is to be buried anyway. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) and his government drew up the report to send a political message to the EU that Finland supports the proposed constitution; actual ratification is to come later. So far the treaty has been ratified by 13 of the EU’s 25 member states, with France and Holland voting against.

Il Portale Dell'Informazione Globale: EU MPs TO ATTEND TRIAL OF TOP TURKISH AUTHOR

Il Portale Dell'Informazione Globale

EU MPs TO ATTEND TRIAL OF TOP TURKISH AUTHOR

Istanbul, 30 Nov. (AKI) - A delegation of observers from the European Parliament will attend the upcoming trial of Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, due to start on 16 December, the European Peoples Party in Strasbourg said in a statement. The delegation will be headed by Dutch Euro-MP Camiel Eurlieng. Pamuk, one of Turkey's best known authors, faces three years in jail for making controversial comments about his country's killing of Armenians and Kurds.

Orhan Pamuk has been charged with insulting Turkey's national character by telling a Swiss newspaper that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey but that nobody dared to say so. "We will observe the court proceedings in the same ways as another European Parliamentary team did at the trial of [Kurdish activist] Lleyla Zana and others in 2003 and 2004," said Eurlieng. She added that the team would "verify the implementation of constitutional reforms and evaluate their compatibility with EU norms on human rights."

Kurdistan Regional Government news: Bush outlines Iraq 'victory plan'

KRG, Kurdistan Regional Government

President George W Bush has said he will not accept "anything less than complete victory" in Iraq.

In a major policy speech, Mr Bush refused to set an "artificial deadline" to withdraw US troops, saying it was "not a plan for victory". It comes after the release of the first Iraq strategy document, which rejects widespread calls for a timetable. Mr Bush has come under growing pressure from Democrats on Iraq. Polls give him the lowest approval of his presidency. They also suggest that six out of 10 Americans think the war in Iraq is not worth the cost.

As such, this was a speech from a president in deep trouble, says the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said Mr Bush's speech was "recycled... tired rhetoric", and that the president had "once again missed an opportunity to lay out a real strategy for success in Iraq that will bring our troops safely home".

inadaily.com: Spain's economic growth set to race on, OECD reports

inadaily.com

Spain's economic growth set to race on, OECD reports

The OECD is predicting Spain's economic bonanza will continue for some time to come, with economic activity expanding at close to full steam over the next two years. In its half-yearly Economic Outlook report released yesterday, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast that Spain's gross domestic product would grow 3.2 percent this year and 3.3 percent the following after a rise of 3.4 percent this year. That compares with growth in the 30-member OECD of 2.9 percent in 2006 and 2007 after an increase of 2.7 percent this year.

"Growth (in Spain) should remain strong in 2006 and 2007, close to potential rates (slightly above 3 percent), driven by buoyant domestic demand and some-pick-up in exports following recovery in Europe," according to the report. Economic activity in the euro area, which is the main destination of Spanish exports, is set to accelerate to 2.1 percent next year and 2.2 percent the following, after posting growth of 1.4 percent this year. Commenting on the report, Spanish Economy Minister Pedro Solbes said the OECD's evaluation of the Spanish economy was in line with the government's. The next two years would continue to be "good," but he warned that reforms to boost productivity and further modernize the country were needed to ensure growth was sustainable in the long term.

The Hindu News: EU, Mediterranean partners agree on anti-terrorism code of conduct (but conference a total failure)

The Hindu News

EU, Mediterranean partners agree on anti-terrorism code of conduct (but conference a failure)

The European Union, Israel and its Arab neighbors endorsed an anti-terrorism code of conduct on Monday, denouncing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in a text that officials said could be a model for a United Nations convention. The Euro-Mediterranean Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism was issued after leaders of 35 EU, north African and Middle Eastern nations overcame significant differences at a fractious two-day summit. ``The fact that we got the practical agreement on the code of conduct from everybody is a very significant step forward indeed,'' British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the summit host, told a news conference.

The summit faced problems from the start on Sunday, when only two Mediterranean leaders showed up Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Those of Egypt, Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco were unable to attend. The leaders of the EU nations, Israel and its Arab neighbors were deeply divided over the Middle East peace process which led Blair to drop a formal ``Common Vision'' statement on the EU's plan to revamp relations with its southern neighbors by linking aid more directly to democratic, economic and political reforms. Note EU-Digest: The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership comprises of 35 members, 25 EU Member States and 10 Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey). Libya has observer status since 1999. The EU aim remains the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone by 2010. So far, of all the Nations among the 10 Mediterranean Partners, only Israel can presently claim to have a truly democratic Government, while Turkey, a democratic European Nation and EU candidate member state should for geographical and political reasons not even be grouped among the 10 Middle Eastern States. The bottom-line - the conference was a failure, because the most important issue re: the "Common Vision statement", linking aid to democratic, economic and political reforms was not adopted. Having the group denounce terrorism might be cosmetically correct or pleasing to the US, Britain, and Israel, but does not change one iota to the real issue of economics and democracy. The fact that Egypt, Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Tunesia and Morroco - eight out of ten of the so-called Mediterranean Partners did not attend the two day summit should be enough evidence to the EU Commission and the European Parliament that the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is not working, and should either be scrapped or totally revised. Since 1995, the EU has doled out euro20 billion (US$23.5 billion) in grants and soft loans, but this has done nothing to undo the region's poverty or boost democracy.. and in case anyone forgot: this money comes out of the pockets of the European tax payers.

Forward Newspaper Online: Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War- by Martin van Creveld

Forward Newspaper Online

Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War- by Martin van Creveld

The number of American casualties in Iraq is now well more than 2,000, and there is no end in sight. Some two-thirds of Americans, according to the polls, believe the war to have been a mistake. And congressional elections are just around the corner.

What had to come, has come. The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon — and at what cost. In this respect, as in so many others, the obvious parallel to Iraq is Vietnam. Confronted by a demoralized army on the battlefield and by growing opposition at home, in 1969 the Nixon administration started withdrawing most of its troops in order to facilitate what it called the "Vietnamization" of the country. The rest of America's forces were pulled out after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger negotiated a "peace settlement" with Hanoi. As the troops withdrew, they left most of their equipment to the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam — which just two years later, after the fall of Saigon, lost all of it to the communists.

Clearly this is not a pleasant model to follow, but no other alternative appears in sight. Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University, is author of "Transformation of War" (Free Press, 1991). He is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.

11/29/05

FT.com - A country more comfortable with itself

FT.com / Home UK - A country more comfortable with itself

"A country more comfortable with itself
By Vincent Boland
Published: November 28 2005 17:22 | Last updated: November 28 2005 17:22

For the past few weeks the European Union flag has been flying above the Grand Bazaar, the magnificent marketplace in Istanbul where, for centuries, Turks have been doing business with Europeans.

The blue standard with its gold stars flies alongside Turkey’s own red banner with its distinctive crescent and star, so close they seem to touch in the wind.

Here, amid the throng of shops selling carpets, jewellery, precious metals, leather goods, and spices, a visitor can appreciate an essential but sometimes hidden side of an often misunderstood country – and its history as a trading nation. It was a crossroads in the global market place before anyone had heard of globalisation. It is also a reminder of how old Turkey is, and of how, in spite of its many upheavals, it has remained unchanged in surprising ways through the centuries."

NIS: EU Predicts Catch-Up Race For Dutch economy as overall EU economy picks up steam

NIS

EU Predicts Catch-Up Race For Dutch economy as overall EU economy picks up steam

The EU economy is expected to grow by more than 2 percent annually in the coming years, though rising oil prices could throw a spanner in the works. The Netherlands, for years at the bottom of the EU class, will move up, according autumn projections published by the European Commission yesterday. This year, projected Dutch GDP growth of 0.5 percent will beat only Italy and Portugal. But the rate will pick up to 2 percent in 2006 and 2.4 percent in 2007, lifting the Netherlands above the eurozone countries' projected averages (1.9 percent in 2006 and 2.1 percent in 2007). The 2005 eurozone growth forecast is 1.3 percent.

US Department of Defense: Rumsfeld to Host Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial meeting in Washington

US Department of DefenseRumsfeld to Host Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial meeting in Washington

Attending countries will include Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. Three other nations will be invited: Moldova as an observer, and Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina as guests. EUD:"Of these attending countries, Greece, Italy and Turkey are considered "clean" in the EU concerns about CIA secret prison violations in Europe."

SeattlePI.com: U.S. acknowledges EU secret-prison concern

SeattlePIU.S. acknowledges EU secret-prison concern

The Bush administration acknowledged Tuesday that reports of secret U.S.-run prisons overseas for terror suspects have raised an outcry among European allies and said the U.S. will account for its actions."The United States in its actions does not break U.S. law," said spokesman Sean McCormack. "All its actions comply with the Constitution and we abide by our international obligations.

"And all we can do is do our best to try to explain that to publics around the world - to our own public and to European publics or wherever the question may arise."

The United States has not answered queries about the issue from allies including Britain and Spain in recent weeks, McCormack said. He said those answers are forthcoming, along with a response to a letter expected soon on behalf of the European Union. The issue is expected to dominate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Romania and other European countries next week, and it was a topic for a meeting Tuesday in Washington with the new German foreign minister. Meanwhile, military leaders from southeastern Europe, including countries mentioned as possible locations for the alleged secret CIA prisons, will meet with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld next week to discuss regional security issues.

The topics for the two-day meeting outlined by Pentagon officials Tuesday did not include the alleged CIA activities, but Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said other issues could come up, particularly during private meetings with Rumsfeld.

Noticias - EU: Modernising education and training systems : a vital contribution to prosperity and social cohesion in Europe

Noticias

EU: Modernising education and training systems : a vital contribution to prosperity and social cohesion in Europe

The European Commission has adopted its contribution towards the 2006 Joint Council/Commission progress report on the implementation of the “Education and Training 2010” work programme. The Commission’s Communication is based on national reports from the participating countries themselves. It takes stock of progress at national level towards modernising and adapting education and training systems in view of the Lisbon goals. The report notes that reforms are going in the right direction, and that there are positive developments such as lifelong learning increasingly becoming a key feature of national policies, and the early achievement of the EU 2010 benchmark on increasing the number of maths, science and technology graduates. The Commission identifies a lack of progress, however, against the other European benchmarks fixed by the Education Council in 2003, and which relate more specifically to the development of the knowledge-based society. In particular, the draft report warns that unless substantial progress is made in the coming years in ensuring that young people leave school with the qualifications and key competences they need, and that more adults take part in lifelong learning, increasing numbers of people will face social exclusion, at great cost to themselves, the economy and society as a whole. The reforms called for under Education and Training 2010 are therefore vital for the long-term sustainability of the European social model. In this context the Commission stresses that greater efficiency in education and training systems should not be sought at the expense of equitable outcomes for all.

Xinhua - GCC, EU agree to form joint team for petroleum projects

Xinhua

GCC, EU agree to form joint team for petroleum projects

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union (EU) have agreed to form a team to study joint petroleum production projects, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Tuesday. The agreement was the outcome of intensive talks of the 3rdGulf-European Oil and Gas Technologies Conference which concluded here Tuesday, a Kuwaiti energy official was quoted as saying. The agreed-upon team consists of 12 specialists and officials representing different petroleum production phases, which will hold its first meeting by the end of the first quarter in 2006,said the official. According to the official, the two sides also agreed to modernize production technologies in different production phases, which would increase production and enhance the performances of oil fields.

KOSOVAREPORT: Europe's banlieue - The Economist

KOSOVAREPORT: Europe's banlieue - The Economist:

"Europe's banlieue - The Economist

Like France's troubled suburbs, the Balkan war zones cannot be sealed off—or safely ignored

THE Balkans, said Otto von Bismarck, are not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. A century and a quarter after that famous brush-off, Europe's richer, smugger parts are still tempted to turn their backs on their continent's most unstable and wildest corner.

To a European Union that views itself as part of the world's elite—a huge, if rather sluggish, economic power that can be rather choosy about who it deals with—its squalid Balkan backyard is an embarrassment. Indeed, there are questions about whether it is part of Europe at all. Serious politicians in France, Germany and Austria were saying, only a decade ago, that countries with an Ottoman or Byzantine heritage—such as Romania, Bulgaria and most of ex-Yugoslavia—weren't really heirs to the glories of European civilisation."

EUR Active: EU Justice commissioner Frattini warns member states on secret jails on behalf of US

EUR Active

EU Justice commissioner Frattini warns member states on secret jails on behalf of US

EU Justice Commissioner Frattini has said that should it be found that any EU country were hosting secret detention centres, he would "be obliged to propose serious consequences, including suspension of voting rights in the Council". A EU parliamentarian told EU-Digest, "let us hope this is not just empty talk of retaliation, while nothing changes in reality."

11/28/05

Europe and the Gulf must move beyond generalities

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles

"Europe and the Gulf must move beyond generalities

By Christian Koch
Commentary by
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

In the past two years, relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the European Union have moved forward at their fastest pace since the signing of the Cooperation Agreement in 1988. It wasn't always so. Tangible progress was scant before the agreement and it was only after the GCC Customs Union of 2003, the EU's December 2003 policy document on strengthening relations with the Arab world and its June 2004 announcement of a strategic partnership with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern states, that progress finally appeared to be in the cards. In late 2004 the EU opened a delegation office in Riyadh, and the Manama ministerial meeting last April indicated that the long-awaited GCC-EU free-trade agreement might finally be concluded by the end of this year - after a decade and a half of negotiations."

Challenges Facing Europe in a World of Globalization

Challenges Facing Europe in a World of Globalization

"Challenges Facing Europe in a World of Globalization
by Helle C. Dale
Heritage Lecture #914

November 28, 2005 |

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today at Hanover College. I will be looking at one of the pro�found problems besetting Europe: the lack of eco�nomic liberalization among some of the European Union’s biggest countries. Whether the EU has grand ambitions to become a superpower or not, whether it sees itself creating a new international order or wants to enlarge into Asia and North Africa, I think that without the willingness to tackle rigidity and stagna�tion in the major EU economies, the project will not have much of a chance."

WWF - Growing call among EU governments for European ban on chemical that causes liver damage and interferes with human reproduction

WWF

Growing call among EU governments for European ban on chemical that causes liver damage and interferes with human reproduction

Sweden is proposing an EU-wide ban on PFOS, a widely-used chemical found in computers and paints that causes liver and other damage to the human body. A number of governments are calling on the European Commission to ban the chemical perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) because it may cause liver damage and distort reproductive functions. PFOS is a persistent organic pollutant (POP) because it is bioaccumulative and does not break down in the environment.

In July 2005 the Swedish government filed a national ban on PFOS with the European Commission. “My hope is that more EU countries will go ahead with national bans and that this will pressure the Commission into an EU-wide ban”, said Environment Minister Lena Sommestad in proposing the ban. As well as trying to get agreement from other countries for a Swedish ban the Swedish Ministry of Sustainable Development has been holding discussions with other EU Member States to gather general support to nominate PFOS to the Stockholm Convention which regulates POPs globally.

It looks as this move could be successful. Speaking to WWF on October 20 Monica Tornlund from the Ministry of Sustainable Development explained: “Following recent discussions in Brussels, we are hopeful that the Commission will come up with a proposal for an EU ban on PFOS before the end of 2005”.

p2pnet.net - "European consumers who download music from illegal file-sharing websites outnumber those using legal services," says the BBC

p2pnet.net

"European consumers who download music from illegal file-sharing websites outnumber those using legal services," says the BBC

"Ilegal networks are used three times as much as legal ones. It also warns that file-sharers, particularly young people, have little concept of music as a paid commodity."

The Organized Music cartel sue 'em all marketing campaign and over-pricing continue to drive music fans in their hundreds of millions away from the corporate music services it supplies into the arms of sites such as allofmp3.com and the p2p networks. Jupiter Research produced the report and the Beeb has the company's Mark Mulligan saying, "The digital youth of today are being brought up on a near limitless diet of free and disposable music from file-sharing networks. "When these consumers age and increase spending power they should become key music buying consumers." And they would if only Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI and the growing list of phony corporate 'p2p' companies stopped trying to rip people off by demanding a dollar and more for highly condensed, and therefore lossy, digital music tracks.

"Unless the music industry can transition these consumers whilst they are young away from free consumption to paid music formats, be they digital or CDs, they may never develop music purchasing behaviour and the recording industry could suffer long-term harm," says Mulligan.

ANTARA News - EU Seeks Terror Deal at Clouded Summit with Neighbours

ANTARA News - EU Seeks Terror Deal at Clouded Summit with Neighbours

"EU Seeks Terror Deal at Clouded Summit with Neighbours

by Chris Wright, AFP

Barcelona (ANTARA News) - EU leaders sought to finalise an anti-terrorism code of conduct with their mostly Muslim southern neighbours on Monday on the second and last day of a summit clouded by the absence of most Arab leaders.

Discord over the definition of terrorism has marked the gathering and tensions bubbled over late Sunday when an Algerian minister lashed out at EU demands for reform in exchange for more money at the meeting in Barcelona.
"

Swiss Info: Chavez applauds Spain for 'resisting' US on arms

Swiss Info

Chavez applauds Spain for 'resisting' US on arms

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday praised Spain for going ahead with a $1.56 billion sale of military ships and planes to his government despite U.S. concerns that it could destabilise the region. Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono was to arrive in Venezuela on Sunday to sign the deal for four coastal patrol ships, four corvettes, 10 C-295 transport planes and two maritime surveillance aircraft. "I want to acknowledge King Juan Carlos ... and all of Spain for their firmness in resisting the imperialist government's attempt to trample over them," Chavez said on his regular broadcast. "Now they don't even want us to buy patrol boats and vessels to protect our coast and some transport planes." A former army officer allied with U.S. foe Cuba, Chavez is at odds with Washington over his self-described socialist revolution and charges by U.S. officials that he has become a threat to stability in Latin America.U.S. officials say they fear Venezuelan weapons could end up in the hands of Marxist FARC rebels in neighbouring Colombia that Washington has listed as terrorists. Chavez denies charges from some U.S. and Colombian officials that he backs the guerrillas.

The U.S. ambassador to Spain said last week that Washington was still considering whether to allow Spain to sell aircraft with U.S. technology. The planes have 50 percent to 60 percent U.S. components and would therefore require a U.S. export licence. But Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre made clear the United States did not want the deal to proceed.

The star.com: Germany's Merkel reassures Turkey on EU

Thestar.com

Germany's Merkel reassures Turkey on EU

BARCELONA (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who campaigned against full Turkish membership of the European Union, sought to reassure Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday that she would not stand in the way of negotiations. The conservative Merkel, who took office last week, met Erdogan on the sidelines of a Euro-Mediterranean summit in Barcelona and accepted his invitation to visit Ankara.

Asked whether they had discussed her opposition to Turkish accession, she told reporters: "We talked about the fact that 'pacta sunt servanda' (Latin for agreements must be respected) applies, and that things will develop well."

EUobserver.com: CIA continues to use EU airports to carry terror suspects

EUobserver.com

CIA continues to use EU airports to carry terror suspects

The US intelligence branch CIA is still using European airports for stop-overs on flights carrying terrorist suspects, a German daily has reported.

Handelsblatt on Thursday (24 November) quoted a high-ranked CIA source as saying: "The CIA planes have made stop-overs in several European countries, including Germany. Nothing has changed that." The report suggests that European airports are still facilitating the transport of suspected terrorists by the CIA to the Guantanamo Bay camp, or possibly to alleged secret prisons somewhere in eastern Europe.

11/27/05

Bloomberg.com: Blair to Seek EU Budget Deal in Week of `Intense' Diplomacy

Bloomberg.com

Blair to Seek EU Budget Deal in Week of `Intense' Diplomacy

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair has scheduled a series of meetings with other European Union leaders to try to secure a deal on the bloc's budget, starting in Barcelona today and finishing in Hungary on Friday, Dec. 2. ``It's going to be a fairly intense round of discussions,'' spokesman Tom Kelly told reporters travelling with Blair from Malta to Barcelona, where he will attend the EuroMed summit between the EU and nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. ``We are going to go for a deal.'' He declined to say what terms Blair is seeking. Blair was due to meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero today, and aim for brief discussions with other EU leaders today and tomorrow. On Dec. 1, he will visit Estonia to hold talks with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and then fly on to Budapest for talks with the leaders of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. By the end of the week Blair will have spoken to the leaders of eight of the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004, having met Malta's Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi on Nov. 25. Kelly said these accession countries ``have a particular significance and importance'' to the negotiations.

BBC NEWS : Battle for Europe

BBC NEWS

Battle for Europe

Allan Little has spent much of the last six months travelling around the European Union - from the oldest members like France and Germany, to the fast-emerging new economies of the east. In this week's Panorama, "Battle for Europe" he argues that Europe is now divided into two rival camps, each with starkly different visions of what the European Union should be and do. They are our closest neighbours and our oldest foes. And two hundred years after Trafalgar we are at each other's throats again. Next month's European Union summit, which will be the culmination of the six month British presidency, will be dominated by an increasingly bitter dispute between Britain and France. The French will insist that Britain give up the rebate, won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984. It is currently worth 3.5 billion pounds a year. France knows that Britain is isolated 24 to 1 on this. Britain has already said that it is willing to negotiate away the rebate - but only in exchange for wide-ranging reform of the European budget as a whole - including the controversial Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). And putting the CAP on the table has touched a raw nerve in France.

Europe in Uproar Over CIA Operations

Los Angeles Times

"Europe in Uproar Over CIA Operations
# Several countries are investigating alleged counter-terrorism missions on their turf, but some cases seem unlikely to advance.

By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer

BARCELONA, Spain — From Scandinavia to the tropical Canary Islands, the CIA's clandestine use of European soil and airspace for counter-terrorism missions is triggering outrage, parliamentary inquiries and a handful of criminal prosecutions.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Europe was either silent about or unaware of the ways in which American agents operated within its borders. But in recent weeks several European governments have become much more vocal about alleged CIA activity in their jurisdictions.
"

Dutch Govt. Cuts Down Foreign Imams to Zero by 2008

Dutch Govt. Cuts Down Foreign Imams to Zero by 2008

"Dutch Govt. Cuts Down Foreign Imams to Zero by 200811/27/2005

– The Dutch government has signed a declaration of intent with a local university to train imams in what the government said was an endeavor to cut down the number of foreign imams to zero by 2008.

'Choosing imams remains the domain of the mosques, but this declaration of intent will allow (us) to propose a complete program in concert with Muslim organizations and the teaching world,' justice ministry spokesman Arnoud Strijbis told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, November 26.

The Contact Group for Muslims and Government (CMO), the government's preferred partner organization, will work with Amsterdam's Inholland college to create a four-year program for imams."

Latest update: Iraq coalition casualties rapidy increasing - Bush in troubled waters

Iraq Coalition Casualties

Latest Update: Iraq coalition casualties rapidly increasing - Bush in troubled waters

As of today 2309 "coalition" forces troops have died of which 2108 US forces. Total number of seriously wounded coalition forces now stands at 15,568. Total Iraqi Security forces killed in action: 3648. Total innocent civilian deaths since beginning of invasion: more than 100.000. In Crawford, Texas — A repeat of last summer’s dueling rallies against the war and in support of President Bush drew crowds to Crawford on a cool, rainy Saturday. Closer to the Bush ranch, where the president celebrated Thanksgiving with his family, about 200 people rallied around Cindy Sheehan in a continuation of California woman’s summer protest against the war that claimed her son. They used the same private lot, near one of two Secret Service checkpoints, where Sheehan held part of the 26-day August vigil that reinvigorated the anti-war movement and made Sheehan a national figure. Some 20 demonstrators also stood in a ditch beside the other checkpoint about a mile away, avoiding violating recently passed roadside camping bans that led to 12 arrests a few days ago. “We have both of his exits covered,” said Sheehan, whose son Casey died in Iraq last year and who called on her supporters to resume the protest this week to coincide with Bush’s ranch visit. “We are exercising our patriotic duty to dissent,” she said.

A bipartisan majority of US senators, have proclaimed that 2006 should be a year of "significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" and more public reports of progress by the Administration. Bush approval ratings are now solidly below 40 percent in major polls, a sign that he is nearly down to his core GOP support and has lost the independent voters. Increasingly, he appears headed for trouble with elected members of his own party, as they eye their own '06 prospects. More alarming for the Administration must be that all polls also show Bush as an untrustworthy President.

11/26/05

Expatica/EU-Digest: A more dangerous threat than terrorism - Facts and Figures on Drugs use in EU: Spaniards among biggest users of cocaine in EU

Expatica/EU-Digest

A more dangerous threat than terrorism - Facts and figures on Drug use in EU: Spaniards among biggest users of cocaine in EU

MADRID — Spaniards are among the biggest users of cocaine, Ecstasy and cannabis in the European Union, according to a new report.In the past year, cocaine became the drug of preference for Spaniards, said the report by the European Drug and Intoxicants Observatory (OEDT). The OEDT, which analyses tendencies in drug use in Europe, said 4 percent of young adults aged between 15-34 had used cocaine in the past 12 months. Its report said between three and three-and-a-half million people try the drug each year and 1.5 million are habitual users. Some other statistics on cocaine use:

Nearly one in five of the European Union population has used an illicit drug at least once. An increase in drugs and organised crime tops the list of fears among European citizens, with 69% seeing it as the greatest threat to our society. Dealing with the complex issues posed by drugs has been a major challenge for the European Union. To answer this call, the European Commission has mustered the full extent of its expertise in the fields of health and consumer protection, education and culture, employment and social affairs, development, enlargement, justice and home affairs, the internal market, research, energy and transport, taxation and customs and statistics. It has developed a multidisciplinary and integrated approach to the drugs phenomenon.

There are an estimated 1.5 million problem users in the European Union (EU). The picture varies between and within countries, with some areas facing specific problems.

Cannabis is the most widely used and available drug: 40 % of 18 year olds have tried it. The next most used group is amphetamines and ecstasy. Between 1 and 4 % of schoolchildren and up to 6 % of young adults have used cocaine. The number of people dependent on heroin has been stable over the past years, though there is evidence of experimentation among schoolchildren.

The incidence of drug-related AIDS cases peaked around the mid-1990s but has fallen considerably in most countries. The number of EU citizens dying in circumstances connected with drug use has tripled since 1985 but the rate has begun to fall over the last couple of years.

In 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam strengthened the EU's ability to act. This time drugs not only became a priority for Community action in the field of public health, but the concept of harm reduction was legally enshrined. Scope for cooperation in justice and home affairs received a boost, with articles covering direct cooperation between police and customs, as well as through a strengthened Europol (European Police Office).Monitoring and data collection on drugs and drug addiction is carried out by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol (European Police Office).

KHON2 - Dutch court orders Lycos to tell web client identity

KHON2

Dutch court orders Lycos to tell web client identity

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday ordered Internet company Lycos to reveal the identity of a client in a benchmark decision on privacy that was praised by copyright groups as a way to go after illegal swapping of music and movies online. It is the first ruling of its kind in the Netherlands on Internet privacy and could have far reaching consequences for other Internet providers.

The country's highest court ruled that Lycos had wrongly protected the identity of a user who anonymously posted slanderous allegations against an Internet postage stamp dealer on a member site. The dealer, who traded stamps on auction site e-Bay, was accused of cheating buyers. The claimant, identified in court documents only as A. Pessers, took Lycos to court in 2003, seeking the details of its client so he could seek financial damages allegedly resulting from the allegations. Supreme Court spokesman Steven Bakker said the court found Pessers' claim of having suffered damages sufficient to order Lycos to release its client's name and address, even though no criminal offense had been committed. It issued a sweeping rejection of Lycos's argument that personal client details should only be released if they are suspected of a crime and the information is wanted by the police.

"The court considers it probable that the information posted on the web site is illegal and damaging to Pessers," the ruling said. "Pessers has a genuine interest in obtaining the client's details and there is no other way to obtain them."

IOL: Namibian President Pohamba to meet Merkel in landmark visit

IOL

Namibian President Pohamba to meet Merkel in landmark visit

Windhoek - Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba travels to former colonial ruler Germany on Sunday where new Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive him as the first visiting head of state since she took office. Pohamba meanwhile is visiting the former colonial power for the first time since March when he became Namibia's second president since independence in 1990.
He will stay in Berlin for two-and-a-half days to hold talks with members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, the mayor of Berlin and meet with the top brass of large companies such as Siemens. Pohamba will be accompanied by seven cabinet ministers and some 40 Namibian businessmen to discuss, among other things, land reform and assistance for infrastructure projects, said Ute Koenig, the number two in the German embassy in Windhoek.

Brenham Banner-Press Online: Slovakia Ties Currency to Euro - by Paul Ames

Brenham Banner-Press Online

Slovakia Ties Currency to Euro - by Paul Ames

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovakia took a major step toward joining the euro zone Friday by linking its currency, the koruna, to the euro in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

The decision was announced by the European Union and is in line with Slovakia's plan to adopt the euro on Jan. 1, 2009. Slovakia joined the EU in May 2004 along with nine other new members. Under the mechanism, the koruna will be pegged to the euro within a 15 percent margin above or below a central rate of 38.4550 koruna to the euro. Six other new EU members - Latvia, Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Estonia and Lithuania - have already joined the system. Countries must be in the system for at least two years before they can join the euro zone. Of the nine new EU members, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have yet to join the system.

In order to join, nations must meet targets of low inflation, low budget deficits and low national debt, as well as limiting currency fluctuations against the euro. EU estimates released this month showed Slovakia within the inflation and debt targets, but its deficit of 4.1 percent of gross domestic product was above the 3-percent threshold set for euro-zone membership.

Networkworld: EU lawyer says passenger data transfer to U.S. is illegal

Networkworld

EU lawyer says passenger data transfer to U.S. is illegal

Members of the European Parliament have welcomed the opinion by a top legal advisor to the European Union's highest court that the transfer of airline passenger data to U.S. authorities is illegal and should be stopped. The leader of the Parliament's Liberal group said that the decision by the advocate-general of the European Court of Justice confirmed the Parliament's criticism of the measure that it "did not contain sufficient safeguards for data protection of EU citizens." "I'm pleased by this preliminary ruling," said Graham Watson, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Advocate-general Philippe Leger said that the European Commission and the member states of the EU had been wrong to agree to hand over data to the U.S. authorities using legal instruments designed to ensure the free movement of goods within the Union's territory. The purpose of the measure was to fight terrorism and improve public security, but the Commission and the member states had not used the appropriate legal instruments, he said in his decision announced on Tuesday. The opinion of the advocate-general is preliminary and does not have any legally binding effect on the court, which is expected to give its final verdict in spring next year.

In the majority of cases, the judge follows the opinion of the advocate-general, but in a number of recent high profile cases that has not been the case.

Many EU States Want Doors to Membership Shut | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 26.11.2005

Many EU States Want Doors to Membership Shut | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 26.11.2005

"Many EU States Want Doors to Membership Shut
Only a few years ago, Macedonia was at war
Gro�ansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Only a few years ago, Macedonia was at war

An uproar is brewing between EU member states and the European Commission over enlargement policies -- particularly over letting in Balkan states.

Some EU members are shrugging off a suggestion that membership talks should begin with Macedonia and other Balkan states. Others are downright hostile.



'Macedonia is in no way stable or ready,' one EU diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper."

icSouthlondon - Blair under pressure over poverty at Commonwealth meeting

icSouthlondon

Blair under pressure over poverty at Commonwealth meeting

Prime Minister Tony Blair came under fire for failing to deliver on promises to tackle world poverty. The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said G8 pledges to help the world's poorest countries were worthless unless they were acted on. Don McKinnon said "the scandal of poverty" demanded the world's attention and the World Trade Organisation must come up with a deal to help the poorest nations. Although Mr McKinnon did not directly point the finger at Mr Blair, the Prime Minister has had a pivotal role in the process because of Britain's presidency of the G8 and EU.

11/25/05

Air Force Technology - Eurofighter Typhoon - Multi-role Combat Fighter

Air Force Technology

EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON MULTI-ROLE COMBAT FIGHTER

The four-nation Eurofighter Typhoon is a foreplane delta-wing, beyond-visual-range, close air fighter aircraft with surface attack capability. Eurofighter has 'supercruise' capability: it can fly at sustained speeds of over Mach 1 without the use of afterburner.

Development of the aircraft has been carried out by Eurofighter GmbH, based in Munich and wholly owned by BAE Systems of the UK, Alenia Aeronautica of Italy and the EADS Deutschland (formerly DaimlerChrysler) and EADS Spain (formerly CASA). In January 2003, Norway signed an agreement for industrial participation in the project, but has not committed to purchase of the fighter. The EJ200 engine has been developed by Eurojet GmbH, in Munich which is owned by Rolls Royce, MTU Aero Engines, Fiat Aviazione and ITP. An overall production contract for 620 aircraft was signed in January 1998 with 232 for UK, 180 for Germany, 121 for Italy and 87 for Spain. Initial orders have been placed for 148 aircraft - Germany (44), Italy (29), Spain (20) and UK (55). Prime customer is the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA), representing the four governments.

Series production of the aircraft is underway at EADS Military Aircraft (Germany), BAE Systems, Alenia Aeronautica and EADS CASA (Spain). The first four series production aircraft for the four participating nations took maiden flights in February 2003 and the Eurofighter Typhoon received type acceptance on 30 June 2003. First series production twin-seat aircraft were delivered to the German Air Force in August 2003, to the Spanish Air Force in September 2003, to the UK Royal Air Force in December 2003 and to the Italian Air Force in February 2004. First single-seat Batch 2 aircraft were delivered to the four participating nations in early 2005. Over 50 aircraft have been delivered. The four participating nations signed the contract for Tranche 2 production in December 2004. Tranche 2 comprises 236 aircraft: Germany 68, Italy 46, Spain 33 and UK 89. Tranche 2 deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2008 with final deliveries scheduled for 2015. Greece also selected the Eurofighter but a change of government has led to a reconsideration of the procurement of 60 aircraft. Austria signed a contract for 18 Eurofighter aircraft in August 2003, to be delivered from 2007. Eurofighter executives have been discussing with Riyad its purchase of up to 50 Eurofighter Typhoons in a deal worth nearly $5 billion.

Political Gateway: Secret CIA flights made stopovers in Portugal in 2005

Political Gateway

Secret CIA flights made stopovers in Portugal in 2005

CIA planes linked to the transport of alleged terror suspects made stopovers at Portuguese airports as recently as May 2005, weekly magazine "Focus" reported Wednesday, one week after the government said no such flights had taken place since it came to office in March. The magazine published photos of four white planes, whose tail numbers are visible and which it said match those belonging to the US spy agency, taken at Portuguese airports at the end of March and in May by an aviation buff. One of the planes touched down at Tires airport near Lisbon while the remaining three landed in Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores archipelago where the US has a military base, the magazine said. Last week it published photos several years old of two unmarked planes at Francisco Sa Carneiro international airport, in the northern city of Oporto, which it said were regularly used by the CIA to carry terror suspects. Reacting to that report, both Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral and Defence Minister Luis Amado said no CIA planes had made stopovers in Portugal, at least since the Socialists came to power.

baltimoresun.com: Spain Abolishes Shareholding Law

baltimoresun.com

Spain Abolishes Shareholding Law

The Spanish government said Friday it had abolished a law that required companies seeking significant shareholding in previously state-owned companies to obtain its approval first. In response to pressure from the European Commission, the government said it would no longer use the "golden share" mechanism allowing it to veto the sale of stakes of 10 percent or more in these companies. Although the Spanish government over the last 10 years has sold its entire stake in most of the companies privatized, it retained a golden share in some on the justification that these companies controlled strategic assets. The measure was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega at a news conference after the government's weekly Cabinet meeting.

Finnish Parliament Rejects Law Easing Troop Deployment - 11/25/05 13:16

DefenseNews.com

"Finnish Parliament Rejects Law Easing Troop Deployment
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, HELSINKI

The Finnish parliament Nov. 25 rejected a law giving the president sole power to decide on troop deployments as part of European military operations.

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen announced the withdrawal of the bill after its rejection by the parliamentary committee on constitutional affairs.

He said a new version of the bill will soon be presented to the committee. "

Modbee.com: Romania base focus of secret prison probe by Europeans

Modbee.com

Romania base focus of secret prison probe by Europeans

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania - In a weedy field on this wind-swept military base, Romanians in greasy combat fatigues tinker with unmanned drone aircraft near a ragged lineup of rusting MiG-29 fighter jets. There's not an American in sight, but the sprawling Soviet-era facility has become a key focus of a European investigation into allegations the CIA operated secret prisons where suspected terrorists were interrogated.

Top Romanian leaders and the Pentagon vehemently deny that the Mihail Kogalniceanu base in the country's southeast ever hosted a covert detention center, and the Romanians insist the United States never used it as a transit point for al-Qaida captives. "It's impossible for something like that to have happened on this base," Lt. Cmdr. Florin Putanu, the base's No. 2 officer, angrily told The Associated Press in a recent interview. But the compound, heavily used by American forces in 2001-2003 to transport troops and equipment to Afghanistan and Iraq, and scheduled to be handed over to the U.S. military early next year, is under increasing scrutiny.

Ioan Mircea Pascu, Romania's defense minister in 2001-2004, told the AP that parts of Mihail Kogalniceanu were off-limits to Romanian authorities, and the country's main intelligence agency said it has no jurisdiction there. Pascu said he could not determine whether prisoners were ever held at the installation, but he conceded that planes flying captives to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may have made stopovers in Romania. On Tuesday, Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty - heading the probe by the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog - said he was trying to acquire past satellite images of the base and Poland's Szczytno-Szymany airport. Both airfields, Human Rights Watch has alleged, were likely sites for clandestine CIA prisons. Marty has asked the Brussels, Belgium-based Eurocontrol air safety organization to provide details of 31 suspected aircraft that landed in Europe and, according to Human Rights Watch, had direct or indirect links to the CIA. Several of the flights stopped at the Romanian and Polish sites, the group said, basing its information on flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004. It said one of the alleged CIA flights that transited Mihail Kogalniceanu on Sept. 22, 2003, originated in Kabul, Afghanistan. Other airports that might have been used by CIA aircraft in some capacity include Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Larnaca in Cyprus and Shannon in Ireland, as well as the U.S. air base at Ramstein, Germany, Marty said. Investigations into alleged CIA landings or flyovers are under way in Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and there have been unconfirmed reports in Macedonia and Malta. Officials in ex-communist Romania - like Poland, a key U.S. ally in the global war on terrorism - have reacted with outrage to the suggestion that Mihail Kogalniceanu may have been used to transport, hide or interrogate suspected terrorists.

Secret detention centers, the alleged existence of which was first reported earlier this month by The Washington Post, would be illegal in both nations and could deal a huge setback to Romania's drive to join the European Union in 2007. The CIA has refused to comment on the European investigation. The U.S. Department of Defense "did not and does not detain enemy combatants in Romania," a spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, told AP. He said the Pentagon would not disclose what countries the U.S. military might fly over "or make brief refueling stops in during detainee movements. Doing so would constitute a safety risk to both the detainees and our troops."

Note EU-Digest: Hopefully EU member, candidate, and potential candidate states understand that membership in the EU entails adhering to the laws of the EU, which does not allow human rights violations, the death penalty, torture or illegal mercenary support to other nations. If and when investigation show that these EU principles were, or are being violated by potential or actual EU members, or by other nations operating on EU territory, the EU Commission must act forcefully to correct the situation.

Reuters.com: EU report slams Israel's Jerusalem policy

Reuters.com

EU report slams Israel's Jerusalem policy

European Union representatives have said Israel's policies in Arab East Jerusalem hurt the prospects of a final agreement on the city with the Palestinians, The New York Times said on Friday.

The paper said a report by the EU's diplomatic representatives in East Jerusalem and Ramallah to the 25-member group's foreign ministers recommended a more aggressive policy toward Israeli policies in East Jerusalem. It accused Israel of increasing illegal settlement activity in and around East Jerusalem and of using the route of its separation barrier "to seal off most of East Jerusalem, with its 230,000 Palestinian residents, from the West Bank" and to create a "de facto annexation of Palestinian land", the paper said. Israeli policies "are reducing the possibility of reaching a final-status agreement on Jerusalem that any Palestinian could accept," said the report, which the Times said it had obtained "from someone who wanted to publicize it. "Israeli measures also risk radicalizing the hitherto relatively quiescent Palestinian population of East Jerusalem," the paper quoted the report as saying.

The authors of the report recommended that the EU ask Israel "to halt discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, especially concerning working permits, building permits, house demolitions, taxation and expenditure", it said.

St. Peterburg Times Online: EU: Papers show Iran nuclear skills

St.Petersburg Times Online

EU: Papers show Iran nuclear skills

VIENNA - The European Union accused Iran on Thursday of having documents that show how to make nuclear warheads and joined the United States in warning Tehran it faced referral to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. Iran, meanwhile, suggested it was considering a compromise to reduce tensions.

Britain, in a statement on behalf of the 25-nation bloc, offered new negotiations meant to lessen concerns over Iran's insistence it be in full control of uranium enrichment - a possible pathway to nuclear arms. "But Iran should not conclude that this window of opportunity will remain open in all circumstances," said a statement read by Peter Jenkins, the chief British delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, outside a closed meeting of the 35-nation board. Diplomats described the statement as a veiled threat of Security Council referral.

11/24/05

Bloomberg.com: EU's Almunia Expects Gradual Rise in Demand to Boost Recovery

Bloomberg.com

EU's Almunia Expects Gradual Rise in Demand to Boost Recovery

European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said he expects a gradual rise in domestic demand to boost recovery in the European Union economy next year, helped by ``accommodative'' macroeconomic policy and a ``robust'' global environment. "Although economic activity in the euro area and the EU has been more subdued this year than projected in the spring, it is expected to return to potential at the beginning of next year,'' Almunia said today at the European Policy Forum in London. ``The recovery is supported by an acceleration in domestic demand.''

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said Nov. 21 that the bank was ``ready to moderately augment'' the benchmark rate of 2 percent to contain inflation. Almunia said he expects growth to reach 1.9 percent in the euro area and 2.1 percent in the EU in 2006, and to accelerate a further 2.1 percent in the euro area and 2.4 percent in the EU in 2007.

IRNA: Blair 'double-crossed' by Bush over Iraq war

Irna

Blair 'double-crossed' by Bush over Iraq war

Former US Ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson claimed Thursday British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been "double- crossed" by President George Bush's aides in the run-up to the Iraq war. "Mr Blair came to the US when Mr Bush was talking about regime change, and when he left Mr Bush started talking about disarmament as the objective," Wilson said. "I think, at the end of the day, he was double-crossed by the regime change crowd in Washington," he told BBC Radio Four's Today programme.

Wilson, who was acting ambassador to Baghdad in the run-up to the 1991 Iraq war, has claimed that the outing of his wife Valerie Plame as a CIA agent in July 2003, was an attempt by the White House to smear him after he said Iraq intelligence was twisted. He said that he had watched the way that the British built their disarmament case and believed it had a lot to do with the influence that led Bush to go to the UN before the Iraq war. "I think that Mr Blair really thought that he was getting involved in a disarmament campaign," but that the president and his administration had already come to a decision that it wanted to go to war with Iraq, the former ambassador said.

Britain's Attorney General Lord Goldsmith was warning that fresh revelations about disputes between Blair and Bush on the Iraq conflict could damage UK relations with the US administration.

Goldsmith was said to had "read the riot act" to the media on Wednesday because of the political embarrassment caused by a sensitive leak of face-to-face exchanges between the prime minister and the US president in the White House on April 2004. Last week, a former MP's researcher and a civilian servant were charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act over a leaked Foreign Office memo criticizing the scale of the US assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja, in which up to 1,000 civilians were feared killed.

Mobridge Tribune: In America (like in Europe) Dissension is a 'right'

Mobridge Tribune

In America (like in Europe) Dissension is a 'right'

Turmoil on Capitol Hill this week reminded us of how the English Parliament acts during sessions when there are controversial subjects being discussed. Sometimes the hollering and hooting is so loud, the voice of the speakers are drowned out by the dissention.

This week in Washington, when Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Ohio, directing comments towards Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, uttered the words "cowards cut and run, Marines never do," reaction from both sides of the aisle was swift and loud. The angry reaction to Schmidt's even using the word "coward" in any reference to Rep. Murtha, who supported Presidents Reagan's policies in South America and former President Bush in the Gulf War, has been very supportive of military actions, and admittedly under pressure from the White House, did support this action in Iraq. However, he began questioning the invasion when no weapons of mass destruction were found during the first few weeks of the war. President Cheney led the war on words against Murtha. "The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory...or their backbones," he said of Murtha's remarks.

For those who have made questioning the war in Iraq an act of cowardice and treason, John Murthas comments should be a wake up call. Maybe if they quit throwing stones long enough to wonder why a proclaimed "hawk" is now questioning that military action, it might open a healthy debate on the issue.

Washington Post: Belgium-How a Town Became a Terror Hub

Washington Post

How a Town Became a Terror Hub

MAASEIK, Belgium -- The phones at city hall began ringing nonstop one morning last year when several masked figures were spotted walking through the cobbled streets of this pastoral town. A small panic erupted when one of the figures, covered head to ankle in black fabric, appeared at a school and scared children to tears. It turned out the people were not hooded criminals, but six female residents of Maaseik who were displaying their Muslim piety by wearing burqas , garments that veiled their faces, including their eyes. After calm was restored, a displeased Mayor Jan Creemers summoned the women to his office. The women came from households in which several men had embraced radical Islam and joined a terrorist network that was setting up sleeper cells across Europe, according to Belgian federal prosecutors and court documents from Italy, Spain and France.

Over the next nine months, Belgian federal police arrested five men in Maaseik, a town of 24,000 people tucked in the northeast corner of Belgium. Each was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a fast-growing network known by its French initials, GICM. With each arrest, investigators uncovered fresh evidence that placed small-town Maaseik at the center of a terrorist network stretching across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The town had served as a haven for suspects in the Madrid train explosions that killed 191 people in March 2004, for instance, as well as an important meeting place for the GICM's European leadership.

The Belgian investigation underscores the challenges that authorities in Europe face in tracking down sleeper cells and in sorting vaguely suspicious behavior from imminent danger. Police have made scores of arrests in Berlin, Paris, Rome, Stockholm and Amsterdam in the past two years to disrupt what were described as terrorist plots, although in many cases it remains unclear whether the threats were overstated or false alarms. Despite an investigation that has reached into eight countries, Belgian authorities remain uncertain about the Maaseik cell's true mission . Police found no bombs, no guns, no blueprints for an attack -- just lots of worrisome evidence that the defendants were consorting with terrorism suspects from elsewhere and could have been planning something big. "We are quite sure that we have proved that they were a logistical support cell," said a senior official with the Belgian State Security service, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But the fact is, the potential was there to do something more serious." Maaseik is located in the Belgian province of Limburg, a few miles from the Dutch and German borders. Until recently, its chief claim to fame was as the home town of Hubert and Jan van Eyck, the 15th-century Flemish painters.

EUPolitix.com - Merkel stands by EU constitution

EUPolitix.com

Merkel stands by EU constitution

Germany’s new Chancellor insisted she would not give up on Europe’s constitutional treaty on Wednesday. Touring EU capitals in her first full day in office, Merkel hoped to heal Europe’s ills by bringing a fresh approach to old divides. "Europe needs the constitution… [we] should not give up the constitutional treaty,” she told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday evening. “We may allow a pause for further consideration and second thoughts but we have made it very clear that we are willing to make our contribution to whatever is necessary to see the constitution come into force."

Copenhagen Capacity: Denmark - the world’s best test market

COPENHAGEN CAPACITY

Denmark - the world’s best test market

The Danes are the world’s most innovative consumers. No other country has consumers that start using new products so fast. This makes Denmark the world’s best test market and an obvious experimentarium for all the companies in the world, writes Ugebladet Mandag Morgen.

Ultimately, it gives Denmark a chance to position itself as the world’s development centre. This is the conclusion and perspective from a landmark market research, which a line of universities in the USA and Europe are carrying out.

“We were surprised to learn how fast Denmark adopts new products. The Danish consumers are faster than all other consumers in Europe and also faster than consumers in the USA and China to adopt new products. This indicates that the Danes are more open towards new ideas than other people and this is an important innovative strength”, says professor Gerard Tellis from University of Southern California, one of the world’s leading researchers in marketing.

CEN :European Standards can energize interoperability

CEN

European Standards can energize interoperability

Brussels (22 November 2005) – Currently, in the EU, trains carry less than 8% of the total goods transported and the average speed of EU freight trains is 10 km/h. Delegates at the CEN conference in Lille on 'The future of railway standards in Europe' discussed how CEN, the newly established European Railway Agency, ERA, and other actors in the railway sector can help to improve this situation.

"I am convinced that this event will energise standardization activities in the rail sector", said Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy Director General in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport. "The European Standardization Bodies have already introduced measures to improve their efficiency. In particular the reduction of the development time for standards and the introduction of new standardization products (…) will be key issues for the coming years."

The aims of the conference were to showcase CEN as an important party in the future of railway standards. Delegates clarified responsibilities of each party involved in the development of European requirements, i.e. legislation, Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) and European Standards (ENs). Moreover, CEN encouraged commitment from all partners to produce standards with a wider scope and within shorter timescales.

Kansas City Jewish Chronicle: German T-Mobile Launches Mobile TV and Mobile Commerce Services in Hungary

Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

German T-Mobile Launches Mobile TV and Mobile Commerce Services in Hungary

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c28240) has announced the addition of 2006 Europe - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in Central Europe to their offering.

This report covers the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - all of which are small countries by European standards, yet leaders in technology use. Trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet and broadband.

11/23/05

Tiscali News: Merkel vows close Paris ties

Tiscali News

Merkel vows close Paris ties

BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) - Germany’s new chancellor, Angela Merkel, pledged on Wednesday to maintain privileged ties with France and vowed to stay out of Iraq on a lightning tour to reassure EU partners of continuity in Berlin’s foreign policy.

Merkel has said she wants better ties with the United States but she sent a clear signal to the European Union by choosing to visit Paris and then Brussels on her first full day as Germany’s leader. She plans to visit EU president Britain on Thursday. The conservative chancellor underscored her commitment to closer European integration and said the EU, after a string of setbacks on its stalled constitution and budget, needed to show it could take decisions and pursue economic reforms. "We no longer have ideological trench warfare to worry us," the leader of Germany’s right-left "grand coalition" said. "So we will be looking for pragmatic solutions. "We need to focus on economic reform so that in a globalised world, we can be competitive, we can keep up," she said.

In Paris, where President Jacques Chirac greeted her with a kiss on the hand, Merkel told a joint news conference: "I am confident we will manage to develop our cordial relationship." Chirac underlined the need for France and Germany to remain Europe’s engine at a time when it faces major challenges.

baltimoresun.com: EU Probes Suspicions of Illegal Subsidies in Poland

baltimoresun.com

EU Probes Suspicions of Illegal Subsidies in Poland

EU regulators have launched an investigation into suspicions of illegal subsidies in Poland's energy and industrial machinery markets. The probe concerns so-called long-term power purchase agreements between the state-owned network operator and power generation companies. The European Commission said Wednesday in a statement it has "doubts as to the compatibility" of the agreements with EU rules prohibiting state subsidies that unfairly distort competition.

The agreements cover half of the Polish power generation market, "leaving little room for new market entrants," the EU head office said.

European regulators will also probe some 27 million euros ($32 million) in restructuring aid for a Polish industrial machinery company, Huta Stalowa Wola S.A. Later Wednesday, Poland's new premier will arrive in Brussels on his first visit to the European Commission since taking office. Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz is expected to take a tough line in defending his country's interests within the EU.

Roma suffer most discrimination in EU - watchdog

Top News Article | Reuters.co.uk

"Roma suffer most discrimination in EU - watchdog
Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:04 AM GMT165
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By Paul Taylor

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Roma minorities are the group most vulnerable to racism in the European Union since the bloc expanded into central Europe, an EU watchdog said on Wednesday.

In its annual report, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia said Roma -- also known as Gypsies -- faced discrimination in employment, housing and education, as well as being regular victims of racial violence.

'The particular histories and population characteristics of the new Member States mean that the Roma and people from the former (Soviet Union) are often the targets of racist sentiments and acts,' the report said."

Global warming already harming Europe: WWF - Sify.com

Global warming already harming Europe: WWF - Sify.com:

"Global warming already harming Europe: WWF
By Alison Lapp in Brussels
Wednesday, 23 November , 2005, 09:28
Global warming is making life more dangerous for people across Europe and even starting to hurt businesses, necessitating urgent action from the European Union, the WWF environmental group said on Tuesday.

'The citizens expect to see real action from the EU because climate change is already a reality in their daily life,' said Stephan Singer, head of WWF International's climate change unit."

IOL: Council of Europe chairman joins CIA investigation

IOL: Council of Europe chairman joins CIA investigation:

"Council of Europe chairman joins CIA investigation
23/11/2005 - 12:03:49

The head of Europe’s top human rights watchdog today joined an investigation into alleged secret CIA detention centres and flights in Europe, urging the governments of the Council of Europe member states to provide full information on the issue."

RIA Novosti - World - Nuclear talks with Europe to resume after IAEA meeting - Iran

RIA Novosti - World - Nuclear talks with Europe to resume after IAEA meeting - Iran:

"Nuclear talks with Europe to resume after IAEA meeting - Iran

15:20 | 23/ 11/ 2005

Print version

TEHRAN, November 23 (RIA Novosti) - Negotiations with the European Troika on Iran's 'nuclear file' will resume after the next meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors Thursday, the Iranian foreign minister said Wednesday.

'Negotiations with the Europeans will resume after the IAEA's Board of Governors meets in Vienna,' Manouchehr Mottaki said, adding the meeting had been scheduled for November 24."

Europe watching Merkel closely

Europe watching Merkel closely:

"Europe watching Merkel closely

By ANGELA DOLAND
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

PARIS -- European expectations weigh heavily on Angela Merkel as she begins her job as Germany's chancellor. Will she maintain privileged relations with France? How much will she cozy up to Washington? Where does she stand on EU reforms?

Merkel's first round of official trips this week - to Paris, Brussels and London - is eagerly awaited for clues to policy change. Analysts do not expect an overhaul, as Merkel's hands are tied by an unwieldy power-sharing coalition with outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats."

WWF - Switzerland wants to slay Europe’s wolves

WWF - Switzerland wants to slay Europe’s wolves:

"Switzerland wants to slay Europe’s wolves
After a 100 year absence, European gray wolves are returning to the Swiss Alps.
© WWF-Canon / Chris Martin Bahr

23 Nov 2005
Gland, Switzerland – WWF is urging European Union member states to reject a proposal by the Swiss government to allow the hunting of wolves in Europe. According to the global conservation organization, a recent report shows that the wolf has not yet recovered in Europe and there are worrying gaps in available data. "

11/22/05

FOCUS: 3G Breakthrough In Europe Not Seen This Christmas

FOCUS: 3G Breakthrough In Europe Not Seen This Christmas:

"FOCUS: 3G Breakthrough In Europe Not Seen This Christmas

By Magnus Hansson

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

ADVERTISEMENT
STOCKHOLM (Dow Jones)--Third-generation mobile phone services are gathering steam in Europe - but analysts don't expect a 3G phone to be the must-have Christmas gift this year.

That isn't good news for mobile phone operators, which estimate customers increase spending by 10% to 15% a month once they get a 3G handset, as they play with features such as video and music downloads."

Plan to liberalise Europe’s ports stumbles

FT.com

"Plan to liberalise Europe’s ports stumbles
By Robert Wright in London and Raphael Minder in Brussels
Published: November 22 2005 18:11 | Last updated: November 22 2005 18:11

European CommissionControversial plans to liberalise Europe’s ports were dealt a blow on Tuesday when they were narrowly rejected by the European Parliament’s transport committee.
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The legislation has led to a heated battle between the commission, both dock workers’ trade unions and port operators."

Consumers set to spend less across Europe

FT.com / World / Europe - Consumers set to spend less across Europe :

"Consumers set to spend less across Europe
By Elizabeth Rigby in London and Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt
Published: November 22 2005 22:11 | Last updated: November 22 2005 22:11

graphicSigns of a squeeze on Europe’s consumers increased on Tuesday as France and Germany reported slowdowns in household spending and a consultancy said retailers faced difficult trading this Christmas.

The figures highlight the fragility of the recent pick-up in economic activity in the 12-nation eurozone and will sharpen concern over the likely impact of the European Central Bank’s signalled interest rate rise."

Europe seeks consensus as Iran toughens stance

Europe seeks consensus as Iran toughens stance - Europe - International Herald Tribune

"Europe seeks consensus as Iran toughens stance
By Steven R. Weisman The New York Times

WASHINGTON The leading countries of Europe conferred about Iran on Monday, with growing indications that they would not move later this week to refer Iran's recent actions in its nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions."

The Daily Journal - Europe looks to Merkel

The Daily Journal - Europe looks to Merkel:

"Europe looks to Merkel
PARIS (AP) – European expectations weigh heavily on Angela Merkel as she begins her job as Germany’s chancellor. Will she maintain privileged relations with France? How much will she cozy up to Washington? Where does she stand on EU reforms?


Merkel’s first round of official trips this week – to Paris, Brussels and London – is eagerly awaited for clues to policy change. Analysts do not expect an overhaul, as Merkel’s hands are tied by an unwieldy power-sharing coalition with outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats."

11/21/05

The Australian: Paul Schnabel: The Dutch experience with Islam

The Australian

Paul Schnabel: The Dutch experience with Islam

AMONG members of the European Union, France and The Netherlands have the highest proportion of Muslims. In France, it is about 10 per cent of the population; in The Netherlands, about 5 per cent. In both countries, but particularly in France, a substantial part of the Muslim population is of Moroccan origin or - in France only - has its roots in Algeria or Tunisia.

In France, immigrants from former colonies are considered to be French. In many ways they are, but during the past month rebellious Muslim youth made it clear that their position in French society is problematic: high unemployment rates, bad housing conditions, geographical and social exclusion.

The situation in The Netherlands is quite different. Unemployment among the second generation is high, but not nearly as high as in France. Living conditions are generally much better and although there are tendencies towards segregation (mainly voluntary), most of the immigrants live in or near the centre of the main Dutch cities.

During the past five years there has been a fierce debate in The Netherlands on the feasibility of a peaceful multicultural society. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee and now a member of parliament, is outspoken in her warnings against the aggressive nature of Islam and has urged the Government to demand from Dutch Muslims unequivocal acceptance of the Dutch constitution and Western norms and values.

Forbes: Airbus expects to win 50 pct of global new plane orders this year - Leahy

Forbes.com

Airbus expects to win 50 pct of global new plane orders this year - Leahy

DUBAI (AFX) - Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy said the company plans on winning a 50 pct share of new airplane orders across the globe this year, giving it an equal market share with its US rival Boeing. 'We will finish the year 50-50,' Leahy said at the Dubai Air Show. Leahy also said Airbus will again deliver more planes than Boeing this year. 'We will deliver more planes this year, next year and again the following year,' he said. Leahy also said Airbus plans to announce orders for its new A350 jet during the Dubai show, and confirmed that 200 firm orders for the model will be booked by the end of 2005. Currently, the company has received 143 orders or commitments to buy the A350.

NineMSN - Merkel set for Germany's top job

NineMSN

Merkel set for Germany's top job

Angela Merkel is set to become Germany's first woman chancellor on Tuesday, but must avoid infighting in a coalition with former leftist foes to implement reforms designed to revive Europe's largest economy. The 51-year-old pastor's daughter, also set to be the first chancellor to have grown up in Germany's formerly communist east, is widely expected to win strong backing from parliament to take over the post from Gerhard Schroeder. But a majority of Germans are convinced the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader will not last a full four-year term because she had to strike a coalition deal with Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) after inconclusive elections. Merkel was forced during tough, month-long coalition talks to abandon a planned major shake-up of the German social welfare system that had been a cornerstone of her economic reforms.

News Dissector: Hail Our Modern Day Genghis Kahn

News Dissector

Hail Our Modern Day Genghis Kahn

President Bush is traipsing through Asia telling anyone who will listen how committed he is. In the home of the Mongols, the stomping ground of Genghis Khan, he repeated his familiar lets all back the attack on Iraq refrain. Meanwhile Arab TV stations, including Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, reported that Iraqi factions meeting in Cairo agreed to the need for the US to end its occupation of Iraq, by setting a time table for the withdrawal. This ncluded the US-Backed Kurdish President, Talabani, and the Sunni leader, Harith Al-Dhari.

The Daily Star - European Parliament slams Mediterranean pact

The Daily Star

European Parliament slams Mediterranean pact

RABAT: The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, said Sunday an agreement between the European Union and Mediterranean nations had done little in 10 years to end conflicts or close the economic gap. Slamming the EU's Mediterranean partnership in a statement, Borrell said the three billion euros ($3.5 billion) that the EU pumps into the region in grants and loans each year was not fully effective because it was not followed by private investment. But he said people did not want to invest, because of poor governance, a lack of human rights and continuing conflicts in the region. Democracy and a respect for human rights were necessary in order to create "a Mediterranean that is economically and politically prosperous." he said. Borrell was attending a meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.

About 200 Moroccans demonstrated outside the Moroccan Parliament where the two-day meeting was taking place to protest the participation of delegates from Israel. The demonstration took place following a call from the opposition Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) and two other groups, including the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. The demonstrators protested Israel's "Zionist" policy against the Palestinians, rejected any kind of normalization with Israel and urged the government to ban Israeli deputies.

A Moroccan official source said that invitations to the meeting were issued by the parliamentary assembly and not by the Moroccan government or Parliament. The European Union began the so-called Barcelona process with 11 Mideastern or North African countries plus the Palestinian entity in 1995. Two of those countries, Cyprus and Malta, have since become EU members.

gulfnews.com: A glimpse into the world of Putin by Patrick Seale

gulfnews.com

A glimpse into the world of Putin by Patrick Seale

What is it like to be the President of Russia? What are Vladimir Putin's priorities? What are his major concerns? His hectic schedule this past week throws some light on the problems facing the ruler of a country 1.8 times the size of the United States. Let us begin on Monday, November 14, when, with great pomp and ceremony, Putin received Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, at the Kremlin.

The two men signed a strategic treaty which draws Uzbekistan the most important country of Central Asia with a population of 26.4 million and large oil, gas and gold deposits back into the Russian orbit. This development illustrates Moscow's keen interest in regaining a dominant influence over the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which broke away when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and which were then the target of American penetration. The new treaty opens the door to a renewed Russian military presence in Uzbekistan and slams the door on an American presence. This past summer Karimov gave the US six months in which to evacuate its base at Karsi-Khanabad, close to the Afghan frontier.

11/20/05

Herald.com: Paradise lost: South Florida is turning into a bad proposition for many wanting to relocate there

Herald.com

Paradise lost: South Florida is turning into a bad proposition for many wanting to relocate there

The Miami Herald in an article on SOUTH FLORIDA'S ECONOMY by BY BEATRICE E. GARCIA AND NIALA BOODHOO entitled "Ouch! Cost squeeze tightens" note that the telltale signs of trouble have been in the South Florida economy for some time. Inflation has been rising at a more rapid pace in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area than nationwide since 2003. Median home prices have more than doubled in the past five years. Medical-care costs have ballooned more than 30 percent in the same period. Last month, two key components of consumer confidence slipped dramatically -- Florida consumers were less certain that it was a good time to buy a major household item, and more had a negative outlook about their personal finances. Note EU-Digest: "The rising costs, we were told by a small business owner, "is not just a result of the recent hurricanes, as some Government officials like to point out, but rather a direct result of corporate greed, and elected officials who are supporting corporate interest groups, rather than the people who voted for them."

If it seems that the costs of living in paradise are out of this world, consider this: New data from the government show that consumer prices in South Florida are rising nearly 50 percent more than the national average. The main culprits: higher energy prices and the booming housing market.

South Florida's rising cost of living could also dampen business expansion and recruitment. Frank Nero, president of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development agency, points out that South Florida is still a bargain compared to other corporate centers such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles and even some European cities such as Barcelona. However, he and James Tarlton, his counterpart at the Broward Alliance, fear that South Florida's increasing costs could have an impact.''Our consultants have told us that we need to be more worried about housing affordability than the hurricanes,'' Nero says. He admits that there are certain types of employees that his agency won't bother recruiting, such as workers for call centers, because their salaries are not high enough to meet South Florida's cost of living.

''People have to balance discretionary spending against necessities such as gasoline and electricity,'' says Chris McCarty, director of the University of Florida's Survey Research Center, which tracks Florida consumer confidence.

The outlook for the future only shows more grim statistics: Electricity which already rose by 60% between 2000 and 2005, will go up another 18.5% in 2006. Between 2000 and 2005, the average rent increased 41% in Fort Lauderdale. In that same time-frame the price for gasoline went up 85 %, while health care costs rose 33%. What some considered Paradise is fast becoming a bad proposition.

TheStar.com - Study deflates myths about Euro Muslims

TheStar.com :

"Study deflates myths about Euro Muslims
Mosques get little foreign funding, says Haroon Siddiqui
Nov. 20, 2005. 01:00 AM
HAROON SIDDIQUI

Some key components of Europe's anti-Muslim rhetoric — at times echoed in Canada and, more so, in the United States — have been discredited.

Take the following:

#
It is alleged that Muslims in Europe are recipients of and hence unduly influenced by foreign funding, a code word for petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia.

#
It is said that radical foreign-born imams (clerics), are a source of militancy and should be deported. Some have been, particularly from France."

NYTimes: What Britain Can Tell France About Rioters

New York Times

What Britain Can Tell France About Rioters

LONDON - After months of unease, a humdrum incident in a hardscrabble part of town turns suddenly sour. Pretty soon, the police and the poor are locked in street fighting. Gasoline bombs fly. Cars burn.This was Brixton in south London in 1981 - not much different from the suburbs of Paris in 2005. Twenty-four years ago, riots in the mainly black district of Brixton were regarded as a turning point in Europe's struggle to absorb its former colonial subjects, just as this month's French riots may become a moment of decision about how France treats its own immigrants and their descendants. But if there is a lesson the British would gladly teach the French, it is that riots can only begin a revolution in race relations; a quarter-century from now, the issues may still be unresolved. After Brixton, Britain adopted policies that in some ways echoed America's response to its own urban racial disturbances. They encouraged Britons to embrace ethnic diversity, although they fell short of American-style affirmative action, which Britons see as illegal discrimination. Two and a half decades later, the results are still ambiguous, and today Britain is slipping into a new debate - over whether identity politics is a good idea at all. Maybe, some people are saying, immigrants should be stripped of their distinct ethnic identities, rather than made to feel more comfortable in them. That sounds remarkably like the way the French already think. In Brixton in 1981, as in the suburbs of Paris today, young black people resented routine police searches; discrimination and unemployment had left ethnic minorities with a profound sense of grievance. There, too, said Jenny Bourne, a researcher at the not-for-profit Institute of Race Relations, it was the children and grandchildren of a first generation of immigrants who were "rebelling against the fact that they had nothing in society."

CBC.CA: Does APEC stand for more than 'aging politicians enjoying cocktails?' by Kelly Olsen

CBC.CA

Does APEC stand for more than 'aging politicians enjoying cocktails?' by Kelly Olsen

BUSAN, South Korea (AP) - What's it all about, APEC? That's the question each time leaders from the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation hold their annual summit.

Wags have mocked the summit as "four adjectives in search of a noun" or "aging politicians enjoying cocktails." Other critics call APEC ineffectual, or say its emphasis on pushing free trade comes at the expense of developing countries and the poor. Officials of the 21-member forum insist the meeting is more than just a talk shop. Still, this year's gathering in Busan was typical: it focused on how to respond to trouble within the World Trade Organization - an issue that lies outside the confines of APEC and that the APEC summit covered five years ago.

After six days of preparatory meetings by senior officials, ministers and leaders, the summit Saturday called for a breakthrough on WTO global trade talks. And no one is certain anyone outside APEC will listen - even though the summit has the collective clout of seven of the world's largest economies and almost one-half the world's trade. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, for one, wasn't worried APEC might be setting itself up for embarrassment if the forum is unable to push a successful conclusion to the WTO talks.

"APEC will meet again next year whether they succeed or fail," he said.

11/19/05

Swedish Ministry Foreign Affairs: Swedish election observers to Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden

Swedish election observers to Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Government decided today to send an election observer to the Democratic Republic of the Congo ahead of the referendum on a new constitution on 18 December. The election observer will be part of the EU mission that consists of 26 long-term observers.

The referendum is part of the process that will give the Democratic Republic of the Congo a popularly elected government for the first time in the country's history. Both parliamentary and presidential elections will be held during the spring of 2006.

"It is of the utmost importance that the referendum in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is free and fair. By sending an election observer Sweden can contribute to a transparent election process that we hope will strengthen democracy in the country," says Minister for International Development Cooperation Carin Jämtin.

Expatica: Germany - A star rises in the east

Expatica

A star rises in the east

Matthias Platzeck has just become the new chairman of outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party. Leon Mangasarian looks at the career of the rising east German star. Matthias Platzeck, a rising east German political star and passionate environmentalist, won a stunning election victory on Tuesday, making him the new chairman of outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party.

An SPD congress in Karlsruhe gave Platzeck 512 votes with just two delegates voting against him and one abstaining, making him the new leader of the 140-year-old SPD - Germany's oldest political party. Platzeck takes the SPD helm following the surprise resignation two weeks ago of Franz Muentefering who quit after losing a battle to install a key aide. His election means both of Germany's two main parties are now led by people who grew up in former communist East Germany.

Angela Merkel, who like Platzeck grew up in Brandenburg state, is due to be elected chancellor of a grand coalition in parliament on November 22 by her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Platzeck's SPD.Both Merkel and Platzeck get on well which could be crucial in making her government a success.