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5/31/06

IslamOnline.net - Cannes 2006 - Cannes -Politics Dominate, Leave Room for Fast Food - by By Deepa A.

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Cannes -Politics Dominate, Leave Room for Fast Food

Cannes -Politics Dominate, Leave Room for Fast Food - by By Deepa A.

If this year's Oscar ceremony showcased movies that did not shy away from making radical statements — be it about the unhealthy American interest in the Middle East's oil reserves or the racist underbelly of Los Angeles — the 59th Cannes Film Festival, which ended on Sunday, May 28, managed to move the focus away from the flashbulb-popping, red-carpet-hopping decadence that otherwise defines it to reward filmmakers bearing strong political messages.

Almost as if he were summing up those serious overtones, the surprise winner of this year's top prize, Palme d'Or, director Ken Loach, said in his acceptance speech that his movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley was a "little step" toward the British "confronting their imperial history. Maybe if we tell the truth about the past, we can tell the truth about the present."

The Hindu News: Weekly container service to US, Europe from Tuticorin, South India

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Weekly container service to US, Europe from Tuticorin, South India

Tuticorin became the first port in South India to be directly connected to Europe and the United States through a weekly container service. Eight vessels will be used for the service, jointly operated by a consortium of the Shipping Corporation of India, ZIM Integrated Shipping Lines, Emirates Shipping Lines and MAC Andrews Company Ltd, N K Raghupathy, chairman of the Port Trust said in a release here on Sunday. ZIM will operate three vessels, SCI and ESL two each and MAC one, he said, adding they will touch Barcelona, New York, Norfolk and Charleston ports.

Mail and Guardian: US in policy shift on Iran nuclear talks - by Peter Mackler

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US in policy shift on Iran nuclear talks-by Peter Mackler

The United States, in a policy shift, is ready to join direct talks on Iran's nuclear programme if Tehran suspends all uranium-enrichment activities, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday.

Rice made the offer of the first substantive talks with Iran since diplomatic relations were broken off 26 years ago as she prepared to leave for a crucial meeting of world powers in Vienna on Tehran's suspected nuclear arms programme.

EU Acknowledges 'Need' for Believers

ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER

"EU Acknowledges 'Need' for Believers
By Selcuk Gultasli, Brussels
Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2006
zaman.com

The European Union (EU) came together with religious representatives Tuesday and expressed the need for 'believers.'

Strong calls for inter-religious and cultural dialogue were made at the meeting. The occasion; however, was overshadowed by Commissioner for Education and Culture Jan Figel's canceling his meeting with the representatives of different faiths at the last minute on Monday and by the protests of some Jewish institutions yesterday."

ACLU: ACLU Applauds EU Court Decision Striking Down US-EU Data-Sharing Pact

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ACLU Applauds EU Court Decision Striking Down US-EU Data-Sharing Pact

Today’s historic decision by the European Court of Justice striking down a data-sharing agreement between the United States and the European Union is a striking rebuke for the United States, and shows the need for the U.S. to reassess its plans for airline passenger profiling, the American Civil Liberties Union said. “The United States needs to get into the orbit of reality when it comes to airline passenger data sharing and prescreening,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “This decision shows that our Homeland Security officials cannot keep fantasizing that they can create a massive, all-encompassing global system for collecting data on travelers by running roughshod over not only basic privacy protections but also the laws of other nations.” The court ruling came about after the United States pressured the EU to share the private data of its passengers with U.S. authorities as part of the US effort to collect identity and other information on every person who flies. That agreement was reached while DHS was attempting to establish its passenger prescreening program, then called CAPPS II, which has since been modified and renamed Secure Flight.

“Europe has done what the United States should and must eventually do: create enforceable laws to protect personal data,” said Tim Sparapani, Legislative Counsel in the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “This decision strikes another blow at the administration’s over-reaching passenger screening proposals. Perhaps the Transportation Security Administration will finally learn that programs like Secure Flight and Registered Traveler are fatally flawed and should be abandoned.”

DW: Air Passenger Data Transfers to US Illegal, EU Court Rules

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Air Passenger Data Transfers to US Illegal, EU Court Rules

The European Union's decision two years ago to allow transfers of airline passenger data to the United States was illegal, the EU's top court ruled Tuesday. The US said the data was needed to fight terrorism.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the decision to approve the data transfers, taken in May 2004 by EU governments and the European Commission, was "founded on an inappropriate legal basis." The agreement requires European airlines to provide US authorities with 34 items of information on passengers, including name, address and credit card details, within 15 minutes of departure to the United States.

European tourist traveling to the USA who do not desire to provide 34 items of their personal records, including financial data to the US Authorities without prior knowledge of the exact details of these 34 items should cancels their planned visits to US destinations and switch to European destinations. At least until they receive some clarification on this illegal program from EU authorities and local governments. Suggestions for European tourists planning to visit Florida and California beach resorts are to change these destination for beautiful European coastal locations in Turkey, Spain, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy or Spain. Those planning to visit large American cities also have a great variety of European choices to go to: Berlin, Paris, Rome, Bruxelles, London, Madrid, Budapest, Istanbul, Stockholm and Amsterdam.

http://www.qando.net/ - EU Status check: not good

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EU Status check: not good - by Charles A. Kupchan

n Britain and Poland in the last month, nationalistic parties uneasy with integration into the European Union have scored major advances. The EU constitution, rejected last year by France and the Netherlands, is dead in the water. Economic nationalism and protectionism are surging. The French, Italian, Spanish and Polish governments recently have taken steps to protect national industries from foreign takeover.First, Europe's paternalistic welfare states are struggling to survive the dual forces of European integration and globalization. Citizens are fighting back, insisting that the state reassert its sovereignty to block unwelcome change. When they voted down the EU constitution last May, many French citizens blamed the "ultra-liberal" EU for their economic woes. This spring, rioters took to France's streets to block labor reforms. Italians grumble that adopting the euro has depressed their economy.

5/30/06

CIO: Slingbox Internet TV Gadget Hits Europe

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Slingbox Internet TV Gadget Hits Europe

Sling Media on Tuesday made its Slingbox device, which can plug into a user’s terrestrial, cable or satellite television hookup and then transmit footage via the Web, publicly available for the first time in Britain for 180 pounds (roughly $338USD), Reuters reports. Users can view programming from a television hooked up to the Slingbox using a PC or notebook computer, according to Reuters.

The product is being labeled a “placeshifting” device, in the vein of popular “time-shifting” digital video recorders like TiVo and Sky+, which allow users to record television broadcasts for viewing at a later time, Reuters reports.

Mumbai Mirror: Europe court rules US data deal illegal

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Europe court rules US data deal illegal

Brussels: The European Union’s highest court ruled yesterday that an EU-US passenger data deal was illegal, saying it did not provide adequate privacy protection for European travellers. The trans-Atlantic agreement compels European airlines to turn over 34 pieces of information about each passenger — including name, address and credit card details — within 15 minutes of departure for the United States. Washington argues that the information is vital to combat terrorism, and warned that airlines would face fines and a loss of landing rights if they did not comply. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, however, found that the data would not be “adequately protected” by the US, and overruled a previous EU finding that the US “ensures an adequate level of protection for passenger name records data transferred from the Community.”

It backed a challenge from the European Parliament claiming that the EU view “does not constitute an appropriate legal basis for the decision approving the conclusion of the agreement and, in both cases, that fundamental rights have been infringed.”

Turkey on the Brink

"Turkey on the Brink

The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2006

Philip H. Gordon, Director, Center on the United States and Europe Omer Taspinar, Director, Turkey Program

"Who lost Turkey?" A complacent West could be forced to confront this previously unthinkable question within the next few years. This risk has little to do with Turkey's alleged Islamic turn. On the contrary, the moderately Islamic Justice and Development Party (known by the Turkish acronym AKP) has done much more than previous Turkish governments to improve the country's chances of joining the European Union. Today, the problem Turkey faces is not Islamization but rather a growing nationalist frustration with the United States and Europe. A majority of Turks still want to see their country firmly anchored in the West, but because of what they perceive as European double standards and the United States' neglect of Turkish national security interests, their patience is wearing thin.

The United States and Europe should be paying close attention to what is going on in Turkey today. Turkey's relationship with the United States is under great strain. Turks deeply resent the effect that the war in Iraq has had on their own Kurdish separatism problem. Turkey's long-standing fear that independence-minded Kurdish nationalists would dominate northern Iraq, thereby setting a dangerous precedent for Kurds in Turkey, has since become reality. The Kurdish population of Turkey is about 15 million, 3 to 4 times more than Iraq's Kurdish minority. Despite U.S. government protestations to the contrary, most Turks believe that a civil war in Iraq will be followed by the creation of a de facto if not de jure independent Kurdistan. In that sense, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ensuing disorder in the country threaten 50 years of U.S.-Turkish strategic partnership.

The situation is only slightly better on the European front. Turkey's hopes to join the EU, although boosted by Brussels's October 3, 2005, decision to begin accession negotiations, remain distant and uncertain. Such pessimism is justified on many counts, perhaps most significantly as a result of the EU's enlargement fatigue following the addition of 10 new members in 2004."

More:Turkey on the Brink

The Boston Globe: Europe's Muslim dilemma

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Europe's Muslim dilemma

ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI is an American nightmare. The concept of a Muslim fanatic taking lessons on how to fly an airliner is the quintessential horror of our new age. He is also Europe's nightmare because, as with other 9/11 hijackers, he became radicalized not in the turbulent autocracies of the Middle East or North Africa, but in the open, free, and peaceful democracies of Western Europe.Europeans ask each other: What have we done, and what should we do to better absorb our Muslims into our liberal democracies? For Muslims are Europe's fastest-growing minority, and Islam is Europe's third-largest religious affiliation after Catholics and Protestants.

The French model has always been assimilation, one of the definitions of which is ``to cause to resemble." Never mind multiculturalism, let's all be French, is the ideal. While the British stressed their railways, their civil service, their courts with wigged judges in their far-flung empire, France stressed the civilizing aspects of its culture and language. So do come, France says, but you have to become French.The Dutch thought that just leaving Muslims alone in their own space, which is how Protestants and Catholics learned to live together after Europe's religious wars, would be sufficient. But the violent murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan religious fanatic has put the Dutch model into question.The German model, until 2000, was accommodation, which can be defined as ``providing a room for the night." Germany said to its Muslims: Come and work, but don't even think about becoming German.The British model is ``integration -- combining parts into a whole." Yet when British-born Muslims from the jobless mill towns of the north blew themselves up on London subways, the British began to seriously wonder where they went wrong.

The major problem that both Europe and America face, as far as their Muslim populations are concerned, is not to let vigilance against terrorism spill over into undermining civil rights and discriminating against the 99.9 percent of Muslims who just want to get along.

Packaging Europe - Packaging Europe to visit Amsterdam summit July 4-5

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Packaging Europe to visit Amsterdam summit July 4-5

Packaging Summit Europe will combine a two-day conference and exhibition focusing on the critical packaging issues facing today's brand owners and the solutions needed that will ensure the efficiency and profitability needed to succeed in this market place. The event will bring together contract packers, packaging designers, logistics, materials suppliers, warehouse and distribution services and specialised packaging and printing suppliers who can meet the outsourcing requirements of today's brand owners. For further information, please contact: Zoë Schoenfeld, PR Manager, +44 (0) 20 8846 2700 e-mail: zschoenfeld@tarsus.co.uk

5/29/06

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Brussels Journal

"For Whom the Bell Tolls
From the desk of Paul Belien on Mon, 2006-05-29 19:13
may29_constantinople_fall1_sm.jpg

553 years ago today, on 29 May 1453, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire had been in decline for decades and the fall was inevitable. Some had tried to turn the tide. In 1374, when the Ottomans were only a nascent power, Prince Manuel, governor of Salonica and a son of the Byzantine Emperor, had tried to rally the inhabitants of his city against the Turks. But the Salonicans did not want to bear the high costs of defending their city and promptly threw him out. Out of fear of the Turks his father, Emperor John V, refused Manuel shelter within the walls of Constantinople and so did all the other Byzantine cities. Consequently the prince was forced to seek refuge with... the Ottomans, whom he served until 1394, when he became Emperor himself."

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia - PRODI: ITALY'S GREAT PRO-EUROPE POLICY TO BE RESUMED

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PRODI: ITALY'S GREAT PRO-EUROPE POLICY TO BE RESUMED

Brussels, May 29 - "I'm not here to talk about finances. Today is the day of the rebirth of Italy's pro-Europe policy" said PM Prodi as he walked in the European Council hq in Brussels, to meet the foremost EU institutional figures. Prodi will meet EU Commission deputy president Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Foreign Policy Javier Solana and the Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso. In the afternoon, he will hold talks with Luxembourg PM and EuroGroup president Jean Claude Junker and with Belgian PM Guy Verhofstad.

Guardian Unlimited: Europe Tries to Prevent the Next Attack - by Paul Haven

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Europe Tries to Prevent the Next Attack - by Paul Haven

MADRID, Spain (AP) - European intelligence networks have thrown a blanket of surveillance over a small but fiercely violent cast of Islamic militants, many homegrown with no direct links to al-Qaida, whose fingerprints they expect to find on the Continent's next big terrorist attack. Senior security officials across Europe warned in interviews with The Associated Press that the relative ease and low cost of an attack, combined with the anger and isolation felt by Muslim populations, mean more bloodshed is almost inevitable.

The officials painted a picture of a diverse group of militants with competing agendas, vastly different social and educational backgrounds and a litany of gripes that makes it difficult to predict their next move. While they may be motivated by Osama bin Laden's call for worldwide jihad, they mostly operate independently of al-Qaida's leadership, the officials said.

adnki.com: ITALY: EUROPE-WIDE CHILD TRAFFICKING RING UNCOVERED

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ITALY: EUROPE-WIDE CHILD TRAFFICKING RING UNCOVERED

Rome, 29 May (AKI) - Italian police arrested 41 people on Monday after discovering a Europe-wide criminal ring trafficking in and exploiting children between the ages of eight and 13. The gang reportedly bought children from poor Bulgarian families and then smuggled them into Italy, Germany and Austria, forcing them into a life of crime. The children were mostly employed in thieving and kept in slave-like conditions. Some of the children were also sexually exploited, reports said. Those arrested are charged with slavery, illegal immigration, international drug trafficking and money-laundering. The operation was co-ordinated by the Italian military police Carabinieri in cooperation with anti-Mafia magistrates and involved police forces in Austria, Germany and Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, which is due to join the European Union in 2008, has a growing problem with Mafia-related crime.

MSNBC: IPO to help Paris airports fund €2.7bn upgrade-by Peggy Hollinger in Paris

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IPO to help Paris airports fund €2.7bn upgrade-by Peggy Hollinger in Paris

Charles de Gaulle is the jewel in the crown of Aéroports de Paris, the French state-owned airport operator that is likely this week to launch its long-awaited IPO.

Standing in a control tower 150 feet above Paris's Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, the tangled web of rail, road and runway finally makes sense. Far below, a string of terminals sketches out an elegant figure of eight, above an underground rail station taking passengers across Europe almost from the departure gate.

The funds will go towards a €2.7bn investment programme to open new terminals, renovate old ones, boost retail space by a third and prepare for a near 4 per cent annual increase in passenger traffic to 2010. Luckily Mr Graff does not have to build expensive new runways at CDG to meet this demand, as others must do. Europe's only airport to have four parallel runways allowing simultaneous take-offs and landings, CDG has a significant advantage in flight volumes.

The Financial Express:The European aerospace technology major seeks partnerships with Indian IT industry and research institutes - by HUMA SIDDIQUI

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The European aerospace technology major seeks partnerships with Indian IT industry and research institutes - by HUMA SIDDIQUI

It’s destination India for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co (EADS), the European leader in aerospace technology. It has set its sights on expanding its footprint in the Indian subcontinent through a series of measures. These include strengthening its presence in the Indian defence sector, as well as with the domestic airline carriers, and, most importantly, tapping Indian IT sector and research institutes to expand its research and development (R&D) activities and develop hi-tech equipment in aviation, defence and space sectors.

The European assistance is invaluable for ISRO especially at a time when it is competing with China to race to the moon. Both aim to place a satellite in the lunar orbit during 2007-08, with instruments to survey the moon’s surface and analyse its geological and chemical characteristics.

Cruise Critic Destinations: Editor's Picks: Top 10 European Ports

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Destinations: Editor's Picks: Top 10 European Ports

Cruise Critic's new European "Hot List" offers their own take on the best of the best of Europe's 10 most fabulous ports.

Wichita Eagle: European cruises are unexpectedly more affordable

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European cruises are unexpectedly more affordable

The cruise lines themselves, and nearly a dozen cruise brokers, are currently offering discounts of as much as 30 percent and more on nearly 200 Mediterranean/Adriatic cruises for this summer, and the same reductions on more than 150 sailings in the waters of Northern Europe (North Sea and Baltic). And therein lies a tale. In preparing for this year's high season of European cruising (June through August), the conventional wisdom among cruise professionals was that Americans were desperate to avoid the high costs of European land travel and would therefore book the Europe-based cruise ships in unprecedented numbers. They proceeded to place a remarkable number of ships (their largest and most modern vessels) in European waters and to charge full tariffs for them. Well, either because they listed too many such sailings or priced them beyond the public's willingness to pay, the result has been a sudden reduction in price almost across the board. Even the fanciest ships charging from $5,000 to $10,000 and more per person for a 12-day (and longer) sailing are suddenly on sale for thousands of dollars less, representing discounts of 40 percent to 50 percent. Go to the Web site of the Texas discounter called Vacations to Go (www.vacationstogo.com), and you'll be surprised to find listings filling page after page of luxury for less.

Kommersant: Gazprom to Raise Prices for Moldova

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Gazprom to Raise Prices for Moldova

Gazprom is to lift gas prices for Moldova to $160 from $110 per 1,000 cu. meters, the highest price for a CIS country. The decision of the Russian gas monopolist apparently came as a reaction to Moldova’s denial to increase Gazprom’s stake in Moldovagaz, the national gas pipeline operator, to 100 percent. Russian Gazprom holds 50 percent in Moldovagaz, Moldova’s pipeline operator, while 35.3 is owned by the Moldovan government. The general meeting of Moldovagaz presented the company’s results for 2005 on Friday. Moldovagaz reported $12 million in net profits, the biggest in its history. The money will be primarily spent to repay old debts. Alexander Ryazanov, head of Moldovagaz’s supervisory board, deputy chairman of Gazprom board and head of Sibneft, did not attend the session. Gazprom did not issue any comment on the results of the meeting.

A source of Kommersant in Gazprom explained this position saying that talks with the Moldovan government have reached a stalemate, and the republic should no longer hope for low prices. Moldova asked for $80 per 1,000 cu. meters at the start of the year, which was still the loftiest price in the CIS in 2005. Gazprom raised the price to $110 but noted that it would stay only in the first half of the year.

5/28/06

Jerusalem Post: EU wants US to close Guantanamo prison

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EU wants US to close Guantanamo prison

The European Union is pressing the United States to close its detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where suspected terrorists have been held and sometimes abused, an Austrian news agency reported Sunday. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller was quoted as saying after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna that the envoys agreed "that the United States must take steps as quickly as possible to close the prison," according to an Austria Press Agency reported.The issue was likely to come up when US President George W. Bush visits Vienna on June 21 for an EU-US summit, according to Austrian media reports.

The United States began taking prisoners to the military base in January 2002. European leaders have been harshly critical of documented abuses at Guantanamo, and human rights groups including Amnesty International also have called for the closure of the facility.

Latin Business Chronicle: Benita Ferrero-Waldner-External Affairs Commissioner of the European Union : Reenergizing the Partnership with the EU

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Benita Ferrero-Waldner-External Affairs Commissioner of the European Union: Reenergizing the Partnership with the EU

"The hard facts and figures show very clearly how successful the EU partnership with Latin Amnerica has become. The EU is Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s second largest trading partner, its second-most important source of foreign direct investment – in some countries the main investor - and its main source of development assistance.Over the past fifteen years, trade flows between the two regions more than doubled. In 2005 alone, EU-trade with Latin America reached a value of 118 billion Euros. It is important to note that the LAC countries have a trade surplus with the world’s largest internal market, the European Union. And their exports are gradually shifting from primary goods to more sophisticated products. So our partnership is a catalyst of both change and growth."

Spero News: Churches worldwide call for stop to globalization

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Churches worldwide call for stop to globalization

A major international forum on mission and spirituality has called for a united movement among churches around the world alongside other faiths and civil society to challenge what it claims are "the deadly effects of neoliberal economic globalization." Sponsored by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Council for World Mission (CWM), the forum drew 41 church leaders from Europe, Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, North America and the Caribbean to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15 to 19 May.

The Kuala Lumpur statement acknowledges that many churches have distorted the wonder of creation through their theology and worship. And it calls for churches to reclaim the true meaning of economy which has been "poisoned" by neoliberal economics. "The neoliberal global economy, an economic system based primarily on individual accumulation of wealth and property, is claiming total and hegemonic control over all of life, demanding an endless flow of sacrifices from the poor and the earth." The statement says churches must "reclaim the theological idea that the economy of God is in direct contradiction to the current neoliberal economy."

WARC is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 218 churches in 107 countries. CWM is a worldwide community of 31 Christian churches.

LifeSite Special Report - A Reflection on the Emerging New World Order-by Michael D. O'Brien

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A Reflection on the Emerging New World Order-by Michael D. O'Brien

In this essay, Canada's best known Catholic novelist, Michael O'Brien, the author of the highly acclaimed Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, begins a serious reflection on the emerging new world order with a whimsical tale demonstrating that the present debate over world government is not an abstraction.

"True nations are about the genuine good of their peoples. They tend toward preserving their histories and their character, thus helping to maintain a richness of diversity in mankind, a wide range of strengths needed by the human race. A global governance would wipe out some of these resources. It has already done so. It has proved itself to be remorseless and relentless in doing so. The minds behind it despise the Catholic Church, and regard her as a major stumbling block to world government (read their documents, read the interviews with their officials). Moreover, they are fostering a nasty stepchild of world government, an emerging world religion that is dangerously close to the spirit of Antichrist.

Globalism, lacking true personalism and opposed to the full meaning of human dignity, cannot fail to become a kind of ultra-nationalism inflated to planetary scale, without the safety measures of cultural and religious diversity. In contrast to a world full of nation-states, a global state would offer us no alternatives. Unlike our ancestors, we would have no place to go in search of freedom. Throughout the world, everyone would have all the "freedom" they needed, but the concepts of "freedom" and "need" would be redefined by those who rule."

EU Fails to Break Treaty Deadlock, Hurting Enlargement Plans

Bloomberg.com: Europe

"EU Fails to Break Treaty Deadlock, Hurting Enlargement Plans

May 28 (Bloomberg) -- European Union governments failed to produce a plan to salvage the EU's draft constitution, raising membership hurdles for Balkan nations such as Croatia and Turkey.

EU foreign ministers decided to prolong until mid-2007 a ``period of reflection'' begun last year after French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution. The new charter is meant to streamline EU decision-making so more nations can join after the planned entry of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

The EU must ``continue the reflection period for a year,'' Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot told reporters at a weekend ministerial meeting outside Vienna that ended today. His Luxembourg counterpart, Jean Asselborn, said the goal is to show ``what we are doing in June 2007 to have a constitution in 2009.''"

Cafe Babel: Europe, the Vatican's new crusade?

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Europe, the Vatican's new crusade?

In an EU where interest groups are pulling both for and against secularism, the Vatican has found ways to work to further its goals

With no mention of God in the Draft European Constitution and Turkey as a candidate for membership, some fear that the EU might become detached from its Judaeo-Christian roots. In particular, the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, has promised to combat what it sees as the excesses of secularism and nihilism in the world, starting with Europe. Any struggle would be incomplete without adversaries and allies. But what are the EU and its institutions to the Vatican? Are they allies, or a threat?

The Age: Unity in short supply in European Union - by James Button

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Unity in short supply in European Union- by James Button

Europe is a battleground again but this time it is a political and philosophical war between allies. A battle has begun for the heart of Europe. It is a battle between free marketeers and the defenders of a "social" Europe of strong welfare states and big government. Its outcome will elect and dismiss governments across the continent, and shape global ideas of which societies work best for years to come.

NYT: Ukraine Battles Smugglers as Europe Keeps Close Eye

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Ukraine Battles Smugglers as Europe Keeps Close Eye

KUCHURGAN, Ukraine — It did not take long for the European Union's border experts to spot evidence of the shadowy trade on Ukraine's notoriously porous border with Moldova. It came in an unexpected form, though: Tyson frozen chicken.In a recent six months, more than 40,000 tons of chicken was shipped, legally, into Transnistria through Black Sea ports in Ukraine, said experts sent by the European Union this year to monitor the border.The chicken is reloaded into smaller trucks, often with makeshift refrigeration, and smuggled back into Ukraine. There it is sold below market rates, because it evaded customs duties and Ukrainian sanitary inspections, turning hefty profit — for whom, exactly, is not clear — of nearly $1,000 a ton. "They make more money than they would dealing with weapons," said Joachim Haack, a German who is in charge of the European Union's outpost here. The racket represents the murky economy that has sustained Transnistria, a ragged ribbon of territory along Moldova's eastern border, since it declared its independence from Moldova in 1992.

The European Union's experts have no enforcement powers, but since they began monitoring, the Ukrainians have increased their patrols and their seizures of contraband. Already this year the authorities have seized 400 tons of chicken returning to Ukraine, a small fraction of the total smuggled, experts say.

Gulfnews: Ahmadinejad wants Europe on his side

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Ahmadinejad wants Europe on his side

Berlin/Tehran: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted yesterday as saying European nations should stand by his country in the dispute over its nuclear programme or suffer damages. According to an excerpt of an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel news magazine Ahmadinejad also said he still has not decided whether to visit Germany during next month's World Cup soccer tournament. "They are losing their reputation," Ahmadinejad said, referring to European nations that have worked with the United States to hinder Iran's nuclear ambitions. In the nuclear conflict, the Europeans "should stand on the side of Iran", Der Spiegel quoted him as saying. Otherwise "they will carry the damages from that."

But Ahmadinejad added Iran was interested in improving what he called "already good relations" with Europe.

The Business online.com: EU train off the rails as economic pressure grows

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EU train off the rails as economic pressure grows

For those in Europe still wedded to the metaphor of the EU as a speeding train leaving only the idle and stupid stranded at the station, these are dark days. There’s an EU Constitution train, except it’s off the rails. The train sped on, so to speak, but passengers in two compartments mutinied. Next month sees an EU summit dominated by attempts to get the Constitution train “back on track”. Only there’s no fuel. In the compartment marked ‘Italy’ the doors have swung loose and the wheels have fallen off. On the track marked prosperity there are buckled rails and huge obstructions. It’s not just the train that’s broken. The line is going nowhere.

Train analogies have ruined our understanding of the whole “Europe” game for decades. But still they persist. One year after the emphatic No votes to the Constitution in France and the Netherlands, the “pause for reflection” has turned out to be more pause than reflection. Thus, EU Enterprise Commissioner Günter Verheugen, who declared last week that “if anyone is able to set the derailed train back on tracks [sic] then it’s the Germans”. His call followed remarks by that aristocrat of the train metaphor, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. He declared that the French should vote again on the EU Constitution. He argued, “It is not France that has said no. It is 55% of the French people – 45% of the French people said yes.” But that’s still No, isn’t it? Well, er, no. He insisted in a newspaper interview that there was now enough support in the EU for the Constitution and that all that needs to be agreed is how it should be implemented.

The Boston Globe: Europe's underemployed youths

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Europe's underemployed youths

The recent protests in France put a spotlight on the employment prospects of young people in Europe. While the French government has relented and withdrawn the Youth Labor Law, which made it easier to hire and fire young workers, unemployment among young people remains a problem throughout Europe. Which of these nations has the highest rate of unemployment for young people?

France: The jobless rate of 15- to 24-year-olds is 21.3 percent, more than double that of the country's overall unemployment rate, which was 9.7 percent as of 2004. This divergence helps explain the frustration that young people feel as they try to enter the labor market.All other European countries have double-digit levels of youth unemployment. In Germany, 10.6 percent of young people are unemployed, while in Britain, 11.5 percent have no jobs. By comparison, the US level of youth unemployment is 11.8 percent, almost double Mexico's 6 percent.Poland: Poland's history since 1989 is one of a proud and courageous transformation, both in political and economic terms, but policy makers have failed on the issue of youth employment. At a staggering 40.8 percent, Poland has by far the highest level of unemployed young people. Only Slovakia, with just over 32.7 percent of unemployed youth, comes close.

Bloomberg.com: Dollar May Drop on Concern U.S. Growth Will Trail Europe, Japan

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Dollar May Drop on Concern U.S. Growth Will Trail Europe, Japan

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar may decline against the euro and the yen on concern the U.S. will grow more slowly than Europe and Japan, a Bloomberg survey shows. Sixty-seven percent of the 51 traders, strategists and investors surveyed May 26 from Sydney to New York advised buying the yen against the U.S. currency. Fifty-one percent recommended purchasing the euro.

``The economies in Europe and Japan are booming,'' said Eric Darwell, a currency strategist in New York at Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest foreign exchange bank, according to Euromoney magazine. ``The market is less interested in the dollar because there are better economies abroad.''

FT.com - Business must back a reforming Europe - by Martin Sorrell and Mike Rake

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Business must back a reforming Europeby Martin Sorrell and Mike Rake

A year ago the pro-European movement was at its lowest ebb. The European Union's constitutional treaty was voted down in France on May 29 by 55 per cent to 45 per cent. Three days later the people of the Netherlands followed suit. This was particularly galling for pro-Europeans as these two countries were founding members, signing the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The pro-European cause in the UK, which had been mobilising its resources for a potential referendum, was left to reflect on these momentous results. Certainly the results in the referendums on the continent were a blow to the British government's European policy. At the time the prospect of signing up to anything that involved European co-operation seemed remote. If a week is a long time in politics, as Harold Wilson, UK prime minister in the 1960s and 1970s, once famously remarked, a year is an eternity in the politics of Europe. In some ways, the reverse of the doom and gloom scenario has occurred. The UK, buoyed by its presidency of the EU last year, has been at the forefront of arguing for liberalising measures (the services directive) and an enlarged Union (the proposed accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007). Furthermore, the pro-European movement has rallied and re-mobilised. We have established a coalition of business leaders with a positive vision of the EU. The aim of our new group, Business for New Europe, is both to highlight the benefits of the UK's membership of the EU and to articulate a positive case for economic reform. Too often Europe's detractors use economic reform as a smokescreen to point to the faults of the Union. All the business leaders involved with Business for New Europe, though they may have real concerns over the draft constitution, share a common positive vision of the EU.

Telegraph: New World wins again in a vintage rematch

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New World wins again in a vintage rematch

At the time it was unthinkable. French wine, surely the finest in the world, was put to a blind taste test against the best California could offer. It was 1976, the tasting was in Paris, and wine from the New World was considered no better than cheap Retsina. Imagine the heart-stopping moment, then, when nine experts, all French, ruled that Californian wine was superior.The Judgment of Paris, as it has become known, was re-enacted yesterday, 30 years to the day after the original, with two teams of tasters in London and the Napa Valley, California, thanks to Mr Spurrier's wit and ingenuity. The London tasting, held in the cellars of Berry Bros & Rudd in Piccadilly, included all of the original red wines tasted in 1976, along with new French and Californian wines, representing the best that has emerged from the two regions over the past 30 years.

At the tasting of 10 red and 10 white wines, evenly split between French and American in both classes, the panel awarded the top place in both categories to Californian wine. A Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973 topped the white wines, beating famous French names such as Puligny-Montrachet.

5/27/06

EU getting another year on constitution

AP Wire

"EU getting another year on constitution
ROBERT WIELAARD
Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria - The European Union agreed Saturday to give itself another year to sort out the impasse over its troubled constitution and build confidence in the bloc's plans for further expansion.

EU leaders have spent the last 12 months in a self-imposed 'period of reflection' after French and Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the constitution in referendums a year ago.

Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said the EU envoys meeting in Vienna agreed that although Europeans remain positive about the grouping, 'we need to extend the reflection period' by another year to settle doubts about the charter and the future of the bloc."

PINR - Soaring Commodity Prices Point Toward Dollar Devaluation

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The astonishing rally of commodity prices during the past 12 months has taken most analysts, economists and investors by surprise. Rather than a dramatic change in the relationship between supply and demand for the underlying commodity, surging commodity prices have been driven by the devaluation of the preeminent marker of international commodity values -- the U.S. dollar. In the months ahead, the dollar's devaluation will increasingly register against other major currencies. Rapidly deteriorating U.S. economic fundamentals, questionable policy at the Federal Reserve, increasing political instability and extreme global geopolitical instability may trigger significant foreign capital flight from the United States.

Webwereld: The 25 worst tech products of all time

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The 25 worst tech products of all time

Our bottom 25 designees are all relatively well-known items, and many had multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns behind them. In other words, they were made by people who should have known better. In fact, three of the ten worst were made by Microsoft. Coincidence? We think not. The first entry in our Hall of Shame: The ISP that everyone loves to hate...

1. America Online (1989-2006)
the other nine worst rated include:
2. RealNetworks RealPlayer (1999)
3. Syncronys SoftRAM (1995)
4. Microsoft Windows Millennium (2000)
5. Sony BMG Music CDs (2005)
6. Disney The Lion King CD-ROM (1994)
7. Microsoft Bob (1995)
8. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (2001)
9. Pressplay and MusicNet 2002
10. Ashton-Tate dBASE IV (1988)

FT.com- 'Period of reflection' ends with EU no wiser on treaty - by George Parkerin Vienna

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Period of reflection' ends with EU no wiser on treaty - by George Parkerin Vienna

Exactly one year after France threw the European Union into turmoil by voting Non to the union's constitution, EU foreign ministers will concede tomorrow they still have no idea how or whether to revive the half-dead treaty.Ursula Plassnik, Austria's foreign minister, admitted in an interview with the Financial Times that the year-long "period of reflection" which followed the French vote on May 29 last year has failed to clarify the situation.

"Now is not the moment to come to a definite decision," she says. Her fellow foreign ministers, meeting in the cloistered seclusion of a monastery near Vienna, are expected to endorse that conclusion.

DW: European Market Hindered by Rail System, Says EU

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European Market Hindered by Rail System, Says EU

EU officials say that much more money and effort is necessary to integrate Europe's railways as Berlin opened its new main train station on Friday, the largest in Europe. And two days later, it will begin to redirect and revamp the way transport is handled in the capital, which is considered a crossroads of Europe. It is expected that 1,100 trains and about 300,000 passengers will use the station daily. But the new station doesn't just play an important role for Berlin -- it also will create opportunities for the rest of Europe, especially for those traveling to southwestern Europe, Scandinavia, Poland and Russia. It is an example of EU railway success as it brings modern train travel to a new level. But it also shows how European train companies elsewhere are falling behind. Before World War II it took 27 hours to travel to Tallinn from Berlin; now it takes 60 hours because the tracks haven't been brought up to speed.

Door to Balkans still open despite 'enlargement fatigue'

FT.com

"Door to Balkans still open despite 'enlargement fatigue'
By George Parker in Vienna
Published: May 27 2006 03:00 | Last updated: May 27 2006 03:00

New democracies in the war-scarred Balkans will be told this weekend that the door remains open to them to join the European Union in spite of 'enlargement fatigue' in the 25-member bloc.

Ursula Plassnik, Austrian foreign minister and host of a 'future of Europe' conference near Vienna, told the FT the union would not turn its back on the region.

Ms Plassnik said: 'It's extremely important politically to provide a stable political environment and that includes making clear the intentions of the European Union. We should not call into question the commitments we have given.'"

EU Ministers Meet to Ponder Bloc's Future

SFGate.com

"EU Ministers Meet to Ponder Bloc's Future- by WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

Saturday, May 27, 2006 (05-27) 01:43 PDT VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- European Union foreign ministers cloistered themselves inside a 12th century abbey Saturday to consider the bloc's future, almost exactly a year after French voters threw the continent into turmoil by rejecting what would have been the first Europe-wide constitution.

The envoys were gathering informally at the Roman Catholic monastery in Klosterneuburg on the outskirts of Vienna for a two-day 'future of Europe' meeting. Their challenge: bridging a perceived disconnect between the EU's elite and its 455 million citizens."

EU headache over redrawing Balkan map

Irna:

"EU headache over redrawing Balkan map
Brussels, May 27, IRNA

EU-Balkans-Analysis
With Montenegrins having declared independence, the coffin of former Yugoslavia has been laid to rest along with the dreams of a 'Greater Serbia.'
The small Adriatic republic with a population of 700,000 voted in a referendum on Sunday to end its union with Serbia.

After World War II, Marshall Tito had formed a communist republic under the name Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. It was composed of six republics: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Montenegro as well as the two provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina.

After Tito's death in 1980, it was doubtful whether his successors could continue to hold Yugoslavia together and, eventually with the collapse of communism, Yugoslavia started to break apart in 1992."

5/26/06

heise online - EU Commission and industry adopt "Film Online Charter"

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EU Commission and industry adopt "Film Online Charter"

On Tuesday, Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, presented the officially adopted the "Film Online Charter" at the film festival in Cannes. Under the aegis of Reding, the Charter was worked up by institutions and companies from the motion picture and media industry -- such as the BBC, Constantin Film, Time Warner and Vivendi -- along with major access and content providers like France Telecom. On this roadmap, the partners from industry and politics plan to promote the sale of videos via the Internet. The battle against copyright violations and the use of technical protection measures play an important role in the process.

Forbes.com: The Dollar's Downturn

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The Dollar's Downturn

London - The dollar began a sharp decline against other major currencies in late April. While a steady decrease in its trade-weighted value may help unwind U.S. macroeconomic imbalances, an overly steep and abrupt fall would be hazardous for global economic stability. A meeting of the G-7 finance ministers in Washington triggered the correction. The ministers produced a communique calling for more currency flexibility in China. U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Tim Adams reinforced the move by opposing potential Japanese intervention to manage the yen exchange rate.

The high price of oil has boosted the current account surpluses of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other major exporters. While it is doubtful that official institutions will be major dollar sellers, there is a risk that concern about U.S. foreign policy could encourage private investors to avoid the dollar.

The Globalist: The Dutch PR Problem-by Frida Ghitis

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The Dutch PR Problem-by Frida Ghitis

From Somali immigrant to Dutch Member of Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s life seemed a story of the progress and hope possible only in a liberal democratic state — until she began receiving death threats from Islamic fundamentalists and ultimately saw her Dutch citizenship revoked. According to Amsterdam-based Frida Ghitis, Ali’s experience is just the most recent example of a broader Dutch intolerance of controversy in their midst.Instead of worrying about the national image, Balkenende would do well to look into the national spine. Dutch values appear to be hiding inside a self-image that is little more than fantasy — a fantasy the world has accepted without challenge.Consider the story of Anne Frank. The Dutch have somehow managed to shine in the warm glow of the Anne Frank story. A line of visitors permanently snakes around the corner from the house on the Prinzengracht where the young Jewish diarist, a refugee from Germany, hid from the Nazis.Most visitors think of the Dutch as her saviors. But they forget the end of the story. Anne Frank, like more than seventy percent of the country’s Jews — the greatest percentage in Western Europe — was sent to her death, betrayed by her neighbors.The Dutch, who still see their WWII history through as a heroic fantasy of resistance, did in fact resist in small numbers. But they also provided Western Europe's largest contingent of volunteers to the Waffen SS.

Goldseek.com: Conspiracy Theories and the Global Stock Market Melt-down

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Conspiracy Theories and the Global Stock Market Melt-down

Do you believe in conspiracy theories? Sometimes they are difficult to refute. Such was the case last week, just after the Euro had soared towards a 12-month high of $1.30, and the British pound, itself ridden with large trade and budget deficits, stood mighty tall at $1.90, with traders setting their sights for $2 for the pound. The US dollar lost 7% in just six weeks against America's main trading partners, and was 28% lower since January 2002, to stand just 1% above its 1995 low. Then on Sunday May 14th, currency traders in London, picked up an obscure report from the UK’s Observer newspaper, that indicated the International Monetary Fund was in behind-the-scenes talks with the EU, Japan, the US, China and other major powers to arrange a series of top-level meetings to tackle imbalances in the global economy, and address the dollar sell-off that was rattling global stock markets.

The United States needs to draw in more than $3 billion every working day just to break even from external deficits, and prevent the US dollar from falling further and keep interest rates from rising too far. The US current account deficit is the broadest measure of trade, including financial transfers along with goods and services, and widened $136.9 billion from 2004 to $804.9 billion in 2005, representing 6.5% of US gross domestic product, up from 5.7% in 2004.he US dollar is heavily dependent upon its role as the world's reserve currency, used for transactions in internationally traded commodities such as copper, crude oil, and gold. Therefore, foreign central banks must stockpile US dollars, which account for more than two thirds of all central bank reserves worldwide. This special reserve status means that the US dollar is always in demand, whatever the underlying strength of the US economy, or the level of US interest rates.

But the US dollar’s counter trend rally from January 2005 to March 2006, that rode on the back of 16 quarter-point rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, started to unravel in April, following news that Sweden's Riksbank Sweden has cut its US dollar holdings, from 37% to 20%, with the Euro's share rising to 50 per cent. Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates also said they were buying Euros. Central banks in China and Japan hold less than 2% of their combined $1.75 trillion of foreign currency reserves in gold, and instead, hold depreciating US bonds. On April 21st Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin, dropped the biggest bombshell on the US$ at the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, by openly questioning the dollar's pre-eminence as the world's absolute reserve currency. The Russian central bank raised the Euro's weight in the currency basket against which it targets the ruble, by 5% to 35% on August 1st, 2005, reducing the dollar's share to 65% from 70 percent.

Independent Online: Arab central banks move assets out of dollar - by Philip Thornton

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Arab central banks move assets out of dollar - by Philip Thornton

Middle Eastern anger over the decision by the US to block a Dubai company from buying five of its ports hit the dollar yesterday as a number of central banks said they were considering switching reserves into euros. The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, said it was looking to move one-tenth of its dollar reserves into euros, while the governor of the Saudi Arabian central bank condemned the US move as "discrimination".

Political Affairs Magazine - Venezuela Considers Selling Oil in Euros

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Venezuela Considers Selling Oil in Euros

Caracas, Venezuela, May 18, 2006—Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared on Tuesday that Venezuela would consider putting the sale of its oil in Euros. His comments come after Iran had announced that it too is contemplating switching to the European currency. “That was an interesting proposal made by the president of Iran,” Chavez told Channel 4 News in London. “We are also free to choose between the dollar and the euro. I think that the European Union has made a great contribution with the Euro. In a way, what the President of Iran is saying… is recognizing the power of Europe, that they have succeed in the integration and have a single currency that competes with the dollar, and Venezuela can consider that, too, we are free to do that,” Chavez added.

According to the BBC, Iran announced earlier this month that they supported the creation of an “oil exchange that traded solely in Euros”. Experts have warned that such a conversion to the European currency could trigger central banks to convert their dollar reserves to euros, thus potentially worsening the already declining US currency.

5/25/06

Worldwide Tech : Sex, Politics, and the Internet - US says no to domain names ending in XXX

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Sex, Politics, and the Internet - US says no to domain names ending in XXX

Regulation of domain names like .xxx is particularly susceptible to interference, said Tim Berners-Lee, the man who helped create the World Wide Web. "Management of the domain names is anomalous on the Internet because they are centralized," he said. "That anomaly makes the governance of domain names a much more political issue, a much more commercial issue." The head of the agency that authorizes Internet address names insists that its rejection of an address for pornography sites this month was neither politically motivated nor unduly influenced by the U.S. government, despite accusations of meddling from both the European Commission and the U.S. company hoping to manage the address.

"We see here a first clear case of political interference in ICANN," a spokesman for Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media, said after the vote. The spokesman said correspondence between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce highlighted the "interference."

AxisofLogic: Latin America, the European Union and the US: The New Polarities - by James Petras

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Latin America, the European Union and the US: The New Polarities - by James Petras

There are great many misunderstandings and confusion both on the Right and Left regarding the nature of the conflicts between Latin American nationalists and US/EU states and multi-national corporations. The first point of clarification is over the nature of the nationalist measures adopted by President Chavez of Venezuela and President Morales of Bolivia. Both regimes have not abolished most of the essential elements of capitalist production, namely private profits, foreign ownership, profit repatriation, market access or supply of gas, energy or other primary goods, nor have they outlawed future foreign investments.

In fact Venezuela’s huge Orinoco heavy oil fields, the richest reserves of oil in the world, are still owned by foreign capital. The controversy over President Chavez’ radical economic measures revolves around a tax and royalty increase from less than 15% to 33% - a rate which is still below what is paid by oil companies in Canada, the Middle East and Africa. What produced the stream of vitriolic froth from the US and British media (Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, etc) was not a comparative analysis of contemporary tax and royalty rates, but a retrospective comparison to the virtually tax-free past. In fact Chavez and Morales are merely modernizing and updating petrol-nation state relations to present world standards; in a sense they are normalizing regulatory relations in the face of exceptional or windfall profits, resulting from corrupt agreements with complicit state executive officials. The harsh reaction of the US and EU governments and their energy MNCs is a result of having become habituated to thinking that exceptional privileges were the norm of ‘capitalist development’ rather than the result of venal officials. As a result they resisted the normalization of capitalist relations in Venezuela and Bolivia in which state-private joint ventures and profit sharing , common to most other countries.

Businessweek: Putin criticizes Cheney's remarks

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Putin criticizes Cheney's remarks

MAY. 25 12:40 P.M. ET President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia wants good relations with the United States but he objected vigorously to Vice President Dick Cheney's recent criticism of democratic backtracking by the Kremlin. "We see how the United States defends its interests, we see what methods and means they use for this," Putin said at a news conference following a summit meeting of Russia and the European Union in his most direct criticism of Cheney's remarks.

The crisis around Iran's nuclear program has seen the two countries, which proclaimed themselves "strategic partners" just a few years ago, firmly in opposing camps.Putin said that despite the friction, the United States remains "one of our major partners." But he suggested no nation had the right to interfere in Russia's relations with third countries.

Independent Online: Moscow angered by US plan for 'star wars' bases in Europe to counter threat of Iran - By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

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Moscow angered by US plan for 'star wars' bases in Europe to counter threat of Iran - By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

In a move that is raising hackles in Moscow, the US is proposing to install an anti-missile defence system in central Europe to counter any future attack from a nuclear-armed Iran. The plan, for which the Pentagon has requested EURO 50m of exploratory funding from Congress, would cost EURO 1.2bn and involve 10 interceptor units.

The most likely base for the system is Poland, followed by the Czech Republic, officials said. For the moment, the scheme ­ first reported in The New York Times this week and which would parallel the anti-missile shield under construction in Alaska and California against attacks from North Korea ­ is largely symbolic and hypothetical.

Bloomberg.com:Italian Business Optimism Rises to Highest in More Than 5 Years

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Italian Business Optimism Rises to Highest in More Than 5 Years

May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Italian business confidence unexpectedly rose in May to the highest in more than five years, adding to signs that Europe's economy is weathering near-record oil prices and an appreciating euro.

The Rome-based Isae Institute's confidence index gained for a 12th month to 96.8, the highest since December 2000, from a revised 96.0 in April. The index was expected to decline to 95.6, according to the median estimate of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Isae questioned 4,000 manufacturers between April 2 and April 18.

5/24/06

Bloomberg.com: German Economy Expands, Driven by Private Consumption, Exports

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German Economy Expands, Driven by Private Consumption, Exports

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Growth in the German economy, Europe's largest, accelerated in the first quarter, led by consumer spending and exports, giving the European Central Bank more leeway to raise interest rates.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services, expanded 0.4 percent from the fourth quarter, when it stalled, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said, confirming an initial estimate from May 11. Private consumption rose 0.6 from the last quarter when it declined a revised 0.5. That's the fastest expansion since the quarter ending December 2004.

Railnews: ARRIVA AND FIRST BID FOR DENMARK -SWEDEN RAIL FRANCHISE

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ARRIVA AND FIRST BID FOR DENMARK -SWEDEN RAIL FRANCHISE

WO British train operators have been short-listed for a franchise to run rail services between Denmark and Sweden across the Øresund link. Arriva — which operates trains in Wales — and FirstGroup, which now operates the CapitalConnect, Great Western, ScotRail and TransPennine franchises, have both pre-qualified for a competition to run services between the Danish island of Zealand, which includes the capital city of Copenhagen, and the Swedish mainland. The train services run from Helsinor, north of Copenhagen, via Copenhagen airport and across the Øresund link — a bridge and tunnel opened in 2000 — to Malmö, and on to Gothenburg, Karlskrona and Kalmar, in Sweden.

Other bidders are reported likely to include Veolia, of France — previously known as Connex — MTR, of Hong Kong, and SJ, the Swedish state railway company.

Cybernoon.com:Europe - Water or tissue paper

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It is difficult to believe that in the West — particularly in European countries — tissue paper is still used in toilet when modern methods, gadgets and water too are easily available. Why are they still sticking to outmoded, not-so-clean, messy life-style? They can’t help it. I am sure they would like to use water. It is not they prefer tissue to water. The fact is they do not have proper access to water. Access to warm water. In the winter it is freezingly cold. From November to April, water may not even flow properly in the pipe. People in countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark face this problem. Not the rich, of course. They have money to burn and make water warm. But there are thousands of poor people in Europe. They cannot afford warm water in the toilet. They cannot sue ice-cold water because it causes a stunning pain in the arse. So using tissue has become a European life-style. This is a life-style which has developed over centuries. Things were worse in Europe a couple of centuries ago. In Dickens’ England people never even bathed. Forget about daily bath, they did not wash themselves for months. Even today, people do not bathe daily in Paris or London. The flower girl in Bernard Shaw’s Pygmallion gets scrubbed repeatedly when she is made to go through the ordeal of a bath. The poor in England even today do not have a daily bath. It is most unhygienic but they cannot help it. It has become a life-style which they cannot discard overnight.

Europe’s enlargement problem John Palmer

openDemocracy:

"Europe’s enlargement problem
John Palmer
23 - 5 - 2006
The European Union needs a fresh wind to clear its enlargement malaise, says John Palmer.
------------------------------------------



There is little doubt that the dynamic which drove the enlargement of the European Union in the decade after the fall of the Berlin wall is weakening. The decision on 16 May 2006 by the European Commission to delay until the autumn a final judgment on whether Bulgaria and Romania will be ready to join the EU in May 2007 is another sign that the union's enthusiasm for adding new member-states to the existing twenty-five has largely disappeared."

DLC: European Wake-Up - by Peter Ross Range

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European Wake-Up - by Peter Ross Range

There are cracks in the façade of European leftism that should give us all some hope. They come in the form of editorialists, academics, activists, and bloggers who've pretty much had it with the reflexive anti-globalism, anti-Americanism, and anti-interventionism of the 1968 generation in Europe. Some of the new voices are youngish journalists in rebellion against the dogmatism of their elders, who often exercise iron control -- and sometimes enforce ideological unanimity -- over certain key media like Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and the BBC. Perhaps the most noticeable fissure in the masonry of group-think is a new initiative promoted by old British leftist Norman Geras, who supports the war in Iraq and democratization in the Middle East. Together with a young columnist named Nick Cohen, Geras is leading a new movement dubbed the Euston Manifesto -- because it was conceived during several meetings in a pub near London's Euston Station. The manifesto is posted on the Internet and is open for anyone to sign. Within a month of going up in early spring, it had attracted hundreds of signatures, quickly becoming an intellectual and ideological home for many disillusioned European leftists who are looking for a sensible progressive movement to join. That has to warm an American progressive's heart.

5/23/06

Expatica: Dutch opt for migration points system to bring in talented immigrants

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Dutch opt for migration points system to bring in talented immigrants

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government has agreed to modernise the country's migration procedures. Of particular interest to expats is a new points system for 'knowledge' and 'high-quality' migrants. Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk got cabinet approval on Friday for a simplification of the system which results in a cut in the number of entry and residence permits from 29 to 5 categories.

The centre-right coalition government said the reforms better reflect the national interest by combining the country's restrictive entry policy with greater selectivity. "The new policy will be based more on the need for migrants that exists in Dutch society," a spokesperson for the Justice Ministry said on Friday.

FinanzNachrichten: Airbus sees China market share of 50 pct by 2013

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Airbus sees China market share of 50 pct by 2013

SHANGHAI (AFX) - Airbus (Nachrichten/Aktienkurs) is expecting to narrow the gap with rival Boeing Co in the Chinese market within the next six years, with a targeted 50 pct market share by 2013, Airbus China marketing manager Richard Walker said. (Some) 30 pct of the aircraft flying in China now are Airbus aircraft and we aim to improve that to 50 pct by 2013,' Walker said at an industry conference in Shanghai. Walker said the company expects to source 60 mln usd worth of components in China in 2007 and that this was expected to rise to 120 mln usd by 2010. The company is now is now in the third phase of its A320 wing program in China and will be ready to build full wings in 2007, he said.

RTE Business - French economy speeds up in first quarter

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French economy speeds up in first quarter

Growth of the French economy speeded up to 0.5% in the first quarter from 0.3% in the last quarter of last year, according to the latest official data. But the data, published by the official statistics institute INSEE, fell short of expectations by the Bank of France and economists. The central bank had signalled a growth figure of 0.7% for the first quarter, and economists 0.6%. Meanwhile, French Economy and Finance Minister Thierry Breto said that France's economy will grow by 2-2.5% this year. He told a press conference today that growth was settling at an annual trend rate of 2-2.5%.

PaddockTalk: Italian Students Want to Work for Ferrari!

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Italian Students Want to Work for Ferrari!

Ferrari came out on top in a study, released today, of graduates from the best Italian universities. The Prancing Horse topped the Universum Graduate Survey 2006, a classification of the company that most would like to work for. Stockholm’s Universum Communications, the noted international institute of consultancy and research, found that in Italy, Ferrari was adjudged first and second in the ideal workplaces among engineering, science and economics students. The 4,753 Italian students interviewed took many factors into account in electing Ferrari the best company. These included stimulating work, international career opportunities, open dialogue between staff members, a balance between the professional and the private spheres and the level of remuneration.

Among engineering students, Ferrari, as well as maintaining its first place, increased its popularity from 27.5% of preferences in 2005 to 30.5% in 2006.

Islamic Republic News Agency: EU reaffirms commitment to help Iraq reconstruction

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EU reaffirms commitment to help Iraq reconstruction.

The European Union Monday warmly welcomed the formation of an Iraqi government of national unity. "This completes the political transition process in Iraq, as foreseen in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1546 and 1637," said a statement issued by the current Austrian EU Presidency. "The European Union firmly believes that the formation of this government of national unity and a swift subsequent confirmation of the ministers of interior and defense will contribute significantly to the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq in a spirit of reconciliation," it noted.

5/22/06

Times Online: Welcome to Cameron's Europe-hating and Pentagon-loving party - by Matthew Parris

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Welcome to Cameron's Europe-hating and Pentagon-loving party - by Matthew Parris

AN IMPRESSION has spread and needs to be questioned. It is that the new leadership of the Conservative Party has slid towards the centre in all things. I believe that in matters of foreign and defence policy the opposite is true. Here, and on Europe, I think the instincts of the party’s new leadership have shifted the Opposition to the right. Those of us inclined to see David Cameron and his friends as moderate and consensual in every sphere, domestic and foreign, may be in for a surprise.

Europe's last chance...

Cafe Babel

"Europe's last chance...
For Europeans, finding a diplomatic solution to the Iran crisis is crucial. Not least because Iran is home to huge gas reserves upon which we might one day come to depend

Let us recall the sorry situation Europe was in prior to the war on Iraq: the French President Jacques Chirac and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder were staunchly against military action, while their counterparts in Spain, Italy and Denmark could hardly pledge their support to George Bush fast enough. Europe was divided; the foreign policy of the European Union was a farce."

Seattlepi.com: ECB president says euro zone must reform

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ECB president says euro zone must reform

PARIS -- The 12 countries that share the euro should restructure the labor market in a move that would help boost the region's economy, the president of the European Central Bank said Monday. "If euro-area countries would now summon up their strength and ambitiously push forward with structural reform, this will support and broaden the improvement in economic activity in the euro area," ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet told a conference in Paris. He said the euro zone must restructure labor markets with reforms of taxes and benefits, increase competitiveness in the services sectors, create a more entrepreneurial environment and implement reforms that lead to greater innovation and technological change.

FrontPage Magazine: Losing to Islamism? - by Jamie Glazov

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Losing to Islamism? - by Jamie Glazov

Frontpage Interview with Abigail R. Esman, an award-winning author-journalist who divides her time between New York and The Netherlands. In addition to her column in World Defense Review, her work has appeared in Foreign Policy, Salon.com, Esquire, Vogue, Town & Country, The Christian Science Monitor, The New Republic and many others. She is currently working on a book about how Islamism is winning over democracy.

The Washington Times: Target Russia? - by Arnaud de Borchgrave

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Target Russia? - by Arnaud de Borchgrave

Beating up on Russia's shrinking democracy has become a geopolitical blood sport from Vice President Dick Cheney down to unreconstructed cold warriors who gleefully say, "I told you so." They see no contradiction in berating Vladimir Putin's governing style and imprecatory Bush administration diplomatic efforts to enlist the Russian president's support to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.Today, the U.S. borrows $7 billion a day -- much of the debt held by China, Japan, Russia and Saudi Arabia -- to stay in the superpower business. But Mr. Putin does not denounce President Bush for gambling with global monetary stability. Or blast the laissez-faire gambling of a derivative market of $300 trillion (U.S. Fed estimate) -- not $300 billion -- in bets for or against almost anything placed by wealthy hedge fund managers. Futures, forwards, options, calls, swaps are greed run amok. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, has raised serious concerns about the growing menace of derivatives. A derivatives meltdown would be a global financial tsunami.

Guardian Unlimited: With Turkey in the club, Europe can forge a fresh engagement with Islam - by Madeleine Bunting

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With Turkey in the club, Europe can forge a fresh engagement with Islam - by Madeleine Bunting

At the end of this week there will be a ceremony in the southeastern Turkish port of Ceyhan to mark the first tanker to be loaded with the oil that has been piped over a thousand kilometres from Baku in Azerbaijan. One of the most ambitious and controversial energy schemes in the world is finally coming to completion. It will transport the oil wealth of central Asia to hungry world markets, bypassing the increasingly capricious Russia.

And this huge pipeline, whose course runs through zones of chronic political and seismic instability across the Caucasus, is only the beginning of how Turkey is exploiting its old strategic and geographic advantages to develop a web of pipelines for oil and gas, stretching from Asia into the heart of Europe. Plans for a gas pipeline across Turkey, under the Aegean to Greece and eventually to Italy, are well advanced. The reserves of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan will soon be linked to energy-hungry Europe. Turkey is offering Europe a cornucopia of dazzling possibilities as the pipelines are laid and the economy booms. Not surprising then that the Turkish and western European political and economic elites feasting at last week's Forum Istanbul - the Turkish equivalent of the Davos World Economic Forum - are chorusing heartily from the same hymn sheet. It was a lovefest as participants got giddy on the dream of a utopian future in which Muslims and secularists happily co-exist, ancient enmities between Christian and Muslim are reconciled, and Turkey pioneers a way forward beyond "clash of civilisations" simplicities.

5/21/06

Mainichi Daily News: Dutch lose a leading critic of Islam, but many are glad she's gone

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Dutch lose a leading critic of Islam, but many are glad she's gone

Dutch lose a leading critic of Islam, but many are glad she's gone."If we Muslims learn to think differently and instead of total submission move to a moral concept of dialogue with God ... in my eyes that would be a first step toward emancipation," she told The Associated Press last month in one of her last interviews before her resignation. Most native Dutch could hardly disagree. But her confrontational manner rankled in a nation used to dealing with issues through quiet, reasoned and often lengthy debate until consensus is reached.According to a snap poll released Wednesday by pollster Maurice de Hond, 60 percent said her departure was not a loss for Dutch politics. Asked whether it was right that she be stripped of her citizenship, 49 percent said yes, and 43 percent said no. The internet poll carries a 3 percent margin of error.

Telegraph: Full steam ahead: Brussels draws up plan for 'EU navy' - by Justin Stares in Brussels

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Full steam ahead: Brussels draws up plan for 'EU navy' - by Justin Stares in Brussels

The European Commission has drawn up plans to set up a European coastguard, which critics fear is a back-door attempt by Brussels to create an EU navy with its own powers to stop and search shipping. Plans to upgrade the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) into a fully-fledged coastguard are buried in a document revising European Union (EU) transport policy that is due to be published next month.

The commission document is written in French and entitled Préparer la Mobilité de Demain (Preparing Tomorrow's Mobility). In it, the commission says it believes the time has come to consider the "concept of a European coastguard". Such a body would improve passenger safety at sea and environmental protection legislation, it says. Its main role initially would be to avert maritime pollution disasters, such as the oil slick that devastated French and Spanish Atlantic coasts in 2002, when the aged Prestige tanker snapped in half. The coastguard would be easy to implement, the commission notes, because the EU can "from today call on the support of the safety agencies", including EMSA.

Daily Times - Europe faces globalisation — by Patrick Sabatier

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Europe faces globalisation — Patrick Sabatier

France may be more open in applying double standards in the globalisation game, but it is far from alone. Since the beginning of the year, Spain has blocked a German company taking over one of its own energy producers; Poland has thwarted the purchase of several of its banks by Italians, while Italy has done the same for some time

EscapeArtist.com: Living in Europe - There is no place I would rather be

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Living in Europe - There is no place I would rather be

For many Americans the best fringe benefit of a relocation to Europe is the opportunity for accessible travel through a continent with incredible cultural diversity. Of course, there are the destinations that anyone on a two-to-three year residency will have on their "must see" list, but few people will return to the US without some village, region, resort or city occupying a special place in their recollections of traveling through Europe. Those who stay a little longer often have the chance to range a bit farther and perhaps to form a long-term bond with a particular place. Clare Sievers asked six prominent US citizens resident in Europe to share their thoughts on a favorite holiday destination.

Free Internet Press - Diplomats: U.S., European Union Divided On Iran

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Diplomats: U.S., European Union Divided On Iran

The European Union and Washington are split over an E.U. proposal to offer Iran a generous package of incentives including nuclear reactors and security pledges if it stops enriching uranium, diplomats said on Saturday. The E.U. draft offer of a package of incentives in exchange for a suspension of enrichment has caused a split in the West's previously united position on Iran since Washington has serious reservations about the European plan, E.U. said diplomats. The plan will be discussed in London on Wednesday by senior officials from the "E.U.3," the United States, Russia and China, an E.U. diplomat familiar with the E.U.3's draft told Reuters. "We agreed to offer Iran a nuclear power plant and possibly more, along with support for an international (nuclear) fuel consortium to guarantee fuel for civilian nuclear activity," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Russia and China are expected to support the plan but Washington is concerned about the idea of supporting a regional security framework in the Middle East and exempting E.U. firms from U.S. penalties if they do business with Iran.

Bloomberg.com: Finland's Monster Rockers Lordi Sweep to Victory in Eurovision

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Finland's Monster Rockers Lordi Sweep to Victory in Eurovision

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Lordi, a Finnish heavy-metal band that performs in monster masks, won the 51st Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, the first time Finland has won the contest in 40 years of trying.

Twenty-four countries competed in the final, including first-timer Armenia, which finished eighth with 129 points.The winners ``Hard Rock Hallelujah'' received 292 points from a telephone vote in 38 countries, beating Russian heart-throb Dima Bilan, who received 248 points. Bosnia-Herzegovina's Hari Mata Hari, a star in the former Yugoslavia before the country descended into civil war in the early 1990s, was third with 229 points. Lordi's victory will bring the Eurovision Song Contest to Finland for the first time. Best known for Nokia phones, Finland had never placed higher than sixth in the Eurovision Song Contest, the world's most-watched song contest.

First held in 1956, the Eurovision contest is best known for launching the careers of performers such as Abba and Celine Dion. Last year's final in the Ukraine was watched by more than 100 million viewers in 40 countries, three times the number of viewers who watched the final of ``American Idol,'' the biggest U.S. television hit.

5/20/06

MOSNEWS.COM: Russian-Chinese Trade Turnover to Reach $35Bln in 2006

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Russian-Chinese Trade Turnover to Reach $35Bln in 2006

On Friday, May 19, chairman of the Federation Council’s foreign affairs committee Igor Rogachev said that the volume of bilateral trade between Russia and China may amount to $35 billion in 2005. Last year trade turnover between the two countries has grown by 38 percent and exceeded $29 billion. Rogachev, who is currently in Beijing, said that the most serious problem of the bilateral trade between two countries is the fact that the share of engineering production in Russian exports to China has decreased dramatically. “Today this figure amounts to 2.5 percent [of total exports],” he said, quoted by RIA Novosti. The Russian senator said that this has never happened before in all history of Russian-Chinese trade relations. He added that in many ways the solution to this problem depends on the level of Russian industry’s development, but noted that for now there is a tendency of turning Russia into China’s “raw material supplier”. “We do not agree with this and we hope for understanding from our Chinese partners in regard with keeping a balanced trade,” Rogachev said.

The senator also said that Russia and China are currently considering joining Chinese program for revival of the old industrial base in the country’s north-eastern part and Russian program for development of Siberia and the Far East.

FT.com - EU enlargement chief looks wistfully to Iceland - Daniel Dombey

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EU enlargement chief looks wistfully to Iceland - by Daniel Dombey

Beset with problems over the European Union's planned expansion to the south, Olli Rehn, the man responsible for European Union enlargement, is looking north.

Iceland, the country with an overheated economy and a growing interest in EU-style stability, is in his sights. The Lutheran island of 300,000 people is certainly a different proposition from the official EU aspirants in his in-tray.

Mr Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, has spent much of this past week dealing with Bulgaria's and Romania's troubled plans to join the 25-nation bloc on January 1 next year. He has also had to respond to recent events in Turkey: the murder of a senior judge by an Islamist lawyer this week highlighted the enormous challenges for Ankara's bid to become an EU member. If that were not enough, Croatia, the other official candidate for EU membership, has yet to show that it can learn the lessons of Bulgaria and Romania by reforming its economy, cracking down on corruption and breaking up its old-fashioned steel mills and shipyards.

As a Finnish politician who cut his teeth on pan-Nordic issues, Mr Rehn is interested in bringing in Iceland and Norway - the two states in the region still outside the EU.

EUobserver.com: Huge gap remains between EU's richest and poorest regions - by Lucia Kubosova

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Huge gap remains between EU's richest and poorest regions - by Lucia Kubosova

London and Brussels feature as the richest EU regions, while the six poorest regions are all in Poland, according to new figures published on Thursday (18 May) by Eurostat, the EU's statistics office. The economic power of the top region - Inner London and the bottom region in the ranking - Lubelskie in Poland - differed by 278 to 33 per cent of the union's average respectively.Out of the EU's 254 regions, 37 exceeded the 125 per cent level - with seven of them being in Germany, six in Italy and the UK, five in the Netherlands, three in Austria and two in Belgium and Finland. The only new member state to feature in the group was the Czech Republic, with Prague recording 138 percent of the EU's average.

The countries from central and eastern Europe, which joined the block in 2004, dominate the lowest positions of the table, with sixteen Polish regions below 60 per cent of the EU's average, seven in the Czech Republic and six in Hungary.

Asian Tribune: Prodi government takes power in Italy: a right-wing regime with a left fig leaf - by Peter Schwarz

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Prodi government takes power in Italy: a right-wing regime with a left fig leaf - by Peter Schwarz

Five and a half weeks after parliamentary elections, a new Italian government was sworn into office Wednesday.

The governing coalition stretches from moderate Christian Democrats to liberals, Greens, social democrats, the Democratic Left (the successor organization to Italy’s Communist Party), and Communism Refounded (Rifondazione Comunista). In order to satisfy all eight governing parties the head of the government, Romano Prodi, distributed a total of 25 ministerial posts, one more than the cabinet of his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi. When deputy minister and state secretaries are added, the total of government ministers exceeds well over one hundred. The majority of cabinet posts go to the Democratic Left—which received nine—and the bourgeois Margherita with seven posts. The smaller parties have to make do with just one post each. Despite the broad spectrum of parties in the cabinet, the key ministries are securely in the hands of persons close to Prodi who are committed to pursuing a right-wing, pro-business and pro-European Union policy. While less significant ministries were divided up to create enough posts for the various parties, the Finance and Economic Ministries are in the hands of one man—66-year-old Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa. Like Prodi he belongs to no particular party and enjoys the confidence of the international financial markets.

Padoa-Schioppa, who has a diploma from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, has spent virtually his entire professional career in the executive levels of major banks. At the age of 28, he joined the Bank of Italy. Eleven years later in 1979 he switched to become the general director for Economic and Financial Affairs in the EU Commission. Four years on he returned to the Bank of Italy. In 1997 he took over the supervision of the Italian Stock Exchange for a year. He then spent the last seven years as an executive of the European Central Bank.

FTD - EU-Germany: Temple to Transport - by von Tyler Brûlé

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EU-Germany:Temple to Transport - by von Tyler Brûlé

Berlin's new Euro 10bn railway station provides a working model of the country at its best, with integrated axes and methods of transport - engineering, logistics, architecture, technology and infrastructure, all under one big massive glass roof. That the whole station happens to be on the doorstep of the Reichstag and the Swiss embassy is no accident. For Germany's Federal ministers it's a confident symbol of modernity and public service; for Chancellor Angela Merkel it's a showplace for visiting heads of state to marvel at; and for the Swiss it's a reminder that they're not the only ones in Europe who know how to run a railway network.

Berlin's Hauptbahnhof, which opens officially on May 26, looks more like a temple to transport than a structure that might actually get involved with the gritty business of handling trains, selling tickets and dispensing fast food. Built to serve north-south and east-west traffic, the station borrows a considerable amount of inspiration from both Europe's grand railway stations and its better designed airports. There are also more than 80 shops, restaurants and services, suggesting that DB spent a lot of time with managers from Japan Railways looking at mixed-use opportunities in, above and around stations. The station will eventually handle over 1,000 trains a day and will rank as Europe's biggest rail crossing hub with north and southbound traffic using eight tracks on the lower level and east and westbound traffic cutting through the station on suspended tracks.

EUobserver.com: Poland warming up to EU constitution - by Andrew Rettman

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Poland warming up to EU constitution - by Andrew Rettman

Poland is becoming more friendly toward the idea of an EU constitution, with new foreign minister Anna Fotyga set to give broad backing to the project at a gathering of EU foreign ministers in Klosterneuburg, Austria on 27 May Rzeczpospolita reports. Some of the changes that Warsaw would like to see include dropping the preamble which makes no reference to Christian values; softening wording on the primacy of EU law over national law and inserting statements to protect the existing legal competences of member states.

Polish president, Lech Kaczynski's "rhetoric has changed" on the constitution, after strong reactions from other EU-Member states and anti-Polish news-reports in the European Press. I*n recent speeches with recent speeches Kaczynski is now stressing European solidarity compared to comments he made four months back that the charter is "dead".

5/19/06

FT.com - Energy gives the power to surging markets in Russia - Ellen Kelleher

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Energy gives the power to surging markets in Russia-by Ellen Kelleher

Peter the Great, he may not be. But some investors welcome the reign of Vladimir Putin as markets in Russia have been more stable since he assumed his country’s presidency at the turn of the millennium.Even though his US counterpart George Bush has been attacking his country’s democratic record and it looks as if the Group of Eight summit in St Petersburg this July could be tense, fund managers remain keen on Russia. They hope to capitalise on the rising price of energy by pumping money into oil and gas companies there.

But if history is a guide, investors should approach the Russian market with caution. The shadow of the Yukos affair hovers. Two years ago, foreign investors lost hope in Russia’s markets after the country renationalised the main part of the oil company once controlled by Mikhail Khordokovsky, the flamboyant tycoon.

The Globalist All Roads Pass Through Moscow - by Jonathan S. Kallmer

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All Roads Pass Through Moscow - by Jonathan S. Kallmer

Russia does not rank among the top interests of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. However, as Jonathan Kallmer argues, in lieu of focusing just on the escalating energy debate — and Russia's inclination to use energy as a political tool — it might be high time that the U.S. foreign policy agenda gets reexamined.

Whether or not its diplomatic efforts succeed, there is no question that Russia has influence with Iran. Beyond its veto power on the Security Council, Russia has substantial commercial interests there, as well as a degree of moral authority. Its cooperation will be indispensable if there is to be effective international action against Iran.

Poland.PL - Visa free travel for Poles to the U.S.?

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Visa free travel for Poles to the U.S.?

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Immigration Act, indicating that Poland will be included in the Visa Waiver programme

Under the current Visa Waiver programme, the United States does not require visas from citizens of 15 of the 25 countries in the EU, but the scheme does not apply to Greece or the 10 new member states, except Slovenia. Poland has not been named in the amendment to the Immigration Act but it is the only new EU member country meeting the updated requirements. The amendments speak of such countries which are EU members, have provided military aid to the U.S. in Iraq (at least 300 soldiers) and do not pose a terrorist threat.