"Finland seeks better climate for revised EU constitution
30.06.2006 - 13:47 CET | By Lucia Kubusova
EUOBSERVER / HELSINKI - The Finnish government has said an improved overall 'political climate' is necessary to give a slightly re-drafted EU constitution a chance, as Helsinki takes over the EU's helm on Saturday (1 July).
Just hours before the launch of the six-month presidency, Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen told journalists in Helsinki on Friday that it is crucial to wait for next year's elections in France and the Netherlands before a real solution to the EU's institutional limbo can be found.
He indicated that before that time, 'it is not possible to have conclusions.'"
"One minute EU guide launched
A one minute guide to the EU has been launched by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The online guide is an animated tour of the EU and gives information about EU countries, how the EU works and its impact on our lives.
The guide also complements a new printed publication called 'Guide to the European Union', which is being sent to public libraries and other information points around the UK.
The initiative comes as a new survey revealed that 85% of UK citizens say that they know nothing or little about the EU, its policies and its institutions, while only 2% say that they know a great deal.
Nearly 70% of the British public would like more information on what the EU does for the individual and two-thirds think the government is responsible for providing this information."
Britain, Ireland give N. Ireland ultimatum - by SHAWN POGATCHNIK
BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland returned to Belfast on Thursday to deliver an ultimatum to Northern Ireland‘s divided Protestant and Catholic parties: Revive power-sharing by a November deadline — or lose the governments‘ backing for the project.
Tony Blair and Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern arrived together at Stormont Parliamentary Building for talks with parties that, for 3 1/2 years, have failed to restore the Catholic-Protestant administration at the heart of Northern Ireland‘s Good Friday peace accord of 1998. They planned to meet separate delegations from the dominant extremes of opinion: Ian Paisley‘s Democratic Unionist Party, which represents most Protestants, and Gerry Adams‘ Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army -linked party that represents most Catholics. Paisley has insisted he will not share a Cabinet table with Sinn Fein until the IRA disbands and Sinn Fein drops its decades-old opposition to Northern Ireland‘s police force.
The complex Good Friday pact envisioned power-sharing as the best way to promote reconciliation between the province‘s British Protestant majority and Irish Catholic minority. But while paramilitary cease-fires have largely held for the past decade, political compromise has proved impossible to sustain.
Soccer-mad Europe shows more economic upturn signs-by by Brian Love
PARIS (Reuters) - Rising French consumer morale was the latest sign of European recovery on Friday, but lower German retail sales left an inkling of doubt about anecdotal evidence of a confidence revival in the World Cup hosts' economy. That will do little to diminish a widespread conviction that the European Central Bank will increase euro zone interest rates soon in the belief that the economy is running at full throttle and is at risk of resurgent inflation. France's statistics office said its consumer sentiment index improved in a survey in June, the month that the world soccer championship, in which both the French and German fight quarter-final contests this weekend, kicked off. The dampener was news of an unexpected slide in retail sales in Germany in May, down 2.2 percent in a month where they might have been expected to soar as people spent more than usual on flat-screen televisions to watch the sporting bonanza.
"Overall it shows that we do not yet have a lasting consumer pickup," said Joerg Lueschow, economic analyst at West LB bank.
The Power of The Federal Reserve Banks - by Stephen Lendman
The US Federal Reserve, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank (for the 12 European countries that adopted the single euro currency in 1999) are institutions with enormous power far beyond what most people everywhere can imagine. These most dominant of all central banks, as well as most others, have a powerful influence on the financial conditions in virtually all countries including their own, of course, in an increasingly borderless financial world where a significant economic event in one nation can affect most others for better or worse.
One other powerful bank is also part of today's financial world. It needs mentioning because of its importance, even though it requires a separate article to explain how it works more fully. It's the secretive, inviolable and accountable to no one Bank of International Settlements (BIS) founded in 1930 and based in Basle, Switzerland. This bank most people never heard of is the central banker to its member central banks - a sort of banking "boss of bosses" equivalent to what apparently exists in the shadowy world of Mafia dons. Like most other central banks, including the Federal Reserve, it's privately owned by its members.
It's believed by some academicians and others who've studied the BIS that the ruling elite of financial capitalism established this bank of banks to be the apex of power to exercise authority over a world financial system owned and controlled by them. It's thought their plan was to use this bank to dominate the political system of every country and control the world economy in a feudalistic fashion. In a word, the thinking goes that these super-elite want to rule the world by controlling its money, and they set up this supranational all-powerful bank of banks to do it.
Fall of Dutch cabinet could spark early EU debate
The Dutch government resigned on Thursday (29 June) over an immigration row, raising the prospect of early elections which could see a battle over a new referendum on EU treaty changes. Today Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende will offer his resignation to Dutch queen Beatrix following the withdrawal from the cabinet of the smallest, left-liberal party D66.D66 and most opposition parties demanded early elections, with the main opposition Labour party leader Wouter Bos saying, "The voters have to express themselves, preferably already in autumn," according to Dutch media. The two remaining ruling parties, Mr Balkenende's christian democrat CDA and the right-liberal VVD, have said they want to continue ruling as a minority government until the planned elections in May next year, possibly with the support of the rightist List Pim Fortuyn.
Finns predict new EU constitution - by Mark Mardell
The Finnish foreign minister has predicted there will be a new EU treaty in two years that will be very similar to the rejected European constitution. Erkki Tuomioja said there was no chance that the constitution in its present form would come into force. But he said there would be a new treaty in 2008 and the general view was that "as much as possible will be retained".
U.S. Supreme Court Bars Bush's Military Tribunals Anywhere in the World
June 29 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President George W. Bush lacks authority to try Guantanamo Bay inmates before military tribunals, a blow to the administration's anti-terrorism strategy that scales back executive wartime powers. The justices, voting 5-3, said Congress hadn't expressly authorized the military commissions. The justices also said the tribunals violate the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which guarantees such protections as the right to be present at trial.
The ruling is a major political and legal setback for Bush, scuttling plans to try three dozen Guantanamo inmates before tribunals. The ruling also boosts suits challenging the incarceration of hundreds of other detainees. It's a victory for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden accused of conspiracy.Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, said he will introduce legislation authorizing tribunals with ``appropriate due process procedures for trials of terrorist combatants.''
The U.S. is holding 450 inmates at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, most of them captured in Afghanistan during the 2001 war against the Taliban. Bush is facing increasing international pressure over Guantanamo in the aftermath of three inmate suicides earlier this month.
Dutch Government falls:Late night debate leaves Dutch cabinet in crisis
Following a debate full of misunderstandings, evasion, denials and several adjournments for behind the scenes discussions, the cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende finds itself in crisis. The marathon discussions in parliament's lower house, which continued until the early hours of Thursday morning, ended with the smallest of the three coalition government parties, the progressive-liberal D66, supporting a motion of censure against Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk. Note EU-Digest: Prime Minister Balkenende will meet with the Dutch Queen tomorrow to give her a full report.
Belgium is 6th richest EU nation
BRUSSELS — If the average EU national had EUR 100 to spend, the average Belgian national would have EUR 118 at their disposal, statistics bureau Eurotsat said on Thursday. Eurostat said in terms of disposable wealth, Belgians were ranked 6th, newspaper 'Het Laatste Nieuws' reported.Luxembourg is ranked on top, with purchasing power of 248 (based on an EU average of 100). That figure is, however, distorted by the large number of expats in Luxembourg and who contribute to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Luxembourg is followed by Ireland (137), Denmark (124), the Netherlands (123), Austria (123) and Belgium. Non-EU nations Norway and Switzerland scored 165 and 128 respectively.
Eastern European countries scored poorly. Poland (50) is the second lowest-ranked and the Baltic nation of Latvia (47) the poorest. But EU candidate member states are even worse off: Romania scored 35, followed by Bulgaria (32), Croatia (47) and Turkey (31).
EU 'may halt Turkey entry bid'
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn was quoted by the Finnish news agency STT as saying, in response to a question, that the EU could suspend talks completely. "There is that possibility. I hope that we don't have to resort to that, but we have no reason not to use it if there are grounds for that," Rehn said.
Finland, which takes over the 25-nation bloc's rotating presidency from July 1, also said that refusal to fulfil an obligation to open Turkish ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus could jeopardize the talks.
Norway's Jobless Rate Hits 2.6 Percent
OSLO, Norway — Norway's unemployment rate was 2.6 percent in June, compared with 2.5 percent in May and 3.4 percent in June 2005, the state employment service announced Thursday. The agency, Aetat, said the latest figure marked a decline in unemployment when adjusted for seasonal variations.
"Unemployment normally increases from May to June. The increase this year was somewhat lower than normal," a news release said.
Europe should set 'emission limit
Minimum national limits on polluting carbon dioxide from industry should be set and enforced by the European Commission, according to new research. The Government is expected to announce the UK emissions cap, but a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research argues that this should be the last time limits are set by national governments on whatever basis they choose.
The IPPR research shows that because EU member states are allowed to set their own carbon dioxide allocations, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is not delivering on the Kyoto targets for cutting emissions.
Pundits see rate hike in Europe likely in August - Natalie Harrison
LONDON — There is now a one in three chance the European Central Bank (ECB) will raise interest rates as early as August 3 after hawkish rhetoric by some policy makers and signs of mounting inflation pressures, a Reuters poll shows. All 61 economists surveyed this week expected that the ECB would leave its benchmark refi rate unchanged at its next meeting on July 6 following a quarter-point rise to 2,75% earlier this month.
But tough talk from several ECB policy makers over the past few days has boosted market expectations that the central bank may raise rates as early as August 3.
European Diary - Power and torture (the hypocrisy continues) - by Mark Mardell
If you are offered a cheap flight on "Stevens Express" or "Premier Executive" my advice is: don't take it. I hear the food is atrocious and in-cabin service particularly poor on "Presidential aviation". These are some of the cover names used by the CIA for flights, which the Council of Europe claims were used to move kidnapped suspected terrorists through European airspace, and European airports, to countries where they could be tortured.
"The flight log reads like the route plan of a particularly desperate budget airline. Banjul to Cairo, to Kabul, to Tashkent, to Frankfurt, to Rabat back to Kabul, sounds like a packed five days. Now the Council of Europe has voted that foreign intelligence services operating in Europe should be much more closely monitored, within a strict system of rules setting out what is legal and what is not."
the EU has weighed in with Commissioner Franco Frattini warning that if member states have persistently colluded to break human rights agreements, they could be punished, which would mean their voting rights being taken away for a while. This would certainly be entertaining - watching other states rush through laws against the interests of one member while they had the chance - but it is so unlikely as to be fantasy. Note EU-Digest: The hypocrisy continues!
Europe's human rights body has called for steps to ensure terror suspects never again "disappear into thin air" from European soil. The Council of Europe accused states of colluding with the CIA on secret flights transferring prisoners to third countries where they could be tortured. It urged governments and parliaments in each state to hold their own inquiries. The US admits renditions have taken place but denies that people sent overseas are subjected to torture.
"People should not be allowed to disappear into thin air, regardless of the crimes of which they accused," said Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis. "If we want to be safe we must be fair.
Netherlands In Unique Healthcare Project In Africa
THE HAGUE, 29/06/06 - The Netherlands is launching health insurance in African countries. Development Cooperation Minister Van Ardenne announced yesterday she is investing 100 million euros in the project.
The money is to provide 230,000 Africans with health insurance in the coming six years. Local insurers and clinics providing the care will be monitored by a Dutch foundation, PharmAccess. This approach, which includes financial control by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers, should prevent corruption.
The project is to start in Nigeria, aimed at farmers and female students. Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania are to follow. Among the main goals is allowing people with HIV/AIDS to stay healthy and at work, resulting in economic incentives for local economies. It also aims at a steady income position for doctors and new clinics being set up.
Armenia gets mixed reviews from international observers
While there have been relatively few documented attacks on Armenian journalists in recent months, reporting there remains clearly biased, according to a European media watchdog. Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), recently paid a three-day visit to Armenia. He said on June 21 that “the coverage of political life still remains one-sided, both in private and public-service broadcasting.”
Although the constitution protects freedom of the press, the government continues to restrict full media freedom in the country, observers say. Most newspapers rely on funds from the government, politically motivated individuals or parties to survive, and objectivity suffers.
Russian parliamentary speaker tells Europe he is against death penalty
STRASBOURG, June 28 (RIA Novosti) - One of Russia's most senior politicians said Wednesday that he strongly opposes the restoration of the death penalty. Russia imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 1996, but is yet to abolish it constitutionally, which is an obligation under its membership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the upper chamber of parliament, told delegates to another European body in France, "I am a convinced opponent of the death penalty, but objectively there are few people in Russia who support it." The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will hear a report Wednesday evening on Council of Europe member countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty.
USATODAY.com - Survey finds Americans proud of military, economy, while European, East Asian and former socialist countries rank lowest in pride scale
Survey finds Americans proud of military, economy, while European, East Asian and former socialist countries rank lowest in pride scale
When it comes to national pride, Americans are No. 1, according to a survey of 34 countries' patriotism. Venezuela came in a close second in the survey, released Tuesday by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. People rated how proud they were of their countries in 10 areas: political influence, social security, the way their democracy works, economic success, science and technology, sports, arts and literature, military, history, and fair treatment of all groups in society.
In the United States, "the two things we rank high on are what we think of as the political or power dimension," said Tom W. Smith, a researcher at the university. "Given that we're the one world superpower, it's not that surprising."
Patriotism is mostly a New World concept, the researchers said. Former colonies and newer nations were more likely to rank high on the list, while Western European, East Asian and former socialist countries usually ranked near the middle or bottom.
"Europe is busy tending political, economic health - by
Dan Simpson, a retired diplomat, who is a member on the editorial boards of The Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
TONNERRE, France — "I always find it especially difficult to assess what is going on in Europe from France, particularly from deep in the country, la France profonde."
These places — like Burgundy on the canal, surrounded by big, fat Charlier cattle, well-provisioned in this area, and the Yonne, with excellent Chablis wine — are very French and seemingly less European."
Europe's leisure trap keeps the best out of work - by Helen Mees
Black Friday in the US traditionally is the day after Thanksgiving that signals the start of the holiday season sale. At daybreak, people line up before department stores to get the special "early bird" bargains.
In Europe, black Saturday falls in the last weekend of July, when the French and other Europeans set off in droves for their Mediterranean holiday destinations, and highways get jammed with traffic. This contrast could serve as a metaphor for the difference in lifestyles on either side of the Atlantic. Americans work more hours per week and have less vacation time, but they have more money to spend. Not only does a higher percentage of American adults work, but they also work more hours per week and more weeks per year. In 2004, the French worked 28 percent fewer hours per person than Americans, and the Germans and Dutch each put in 25 percent fewer hours. The money they earned was correspondingly lower -- almost 30 percent less per person than Americans received.
According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Olivier Blanchard, Europeans simply enjoy leisure more than Americans do, even if it means that they have less money. In his view, this difference in attitude explains the income gap between Europe and the US.
Highly educated European women who have children either stay at home or work part-time and get stuck in low-end jobs. They take care of the household and children themselves. Meanwhile, there are not enough service jobs in Europe to put everybody to work. The social benefits paid to the out-of-work increase the tax burden on labor income, which in turn discourages women from full-time work. The leisure trap thus keeps both the best educated and the least educated out of the workplace.
Europe's top human-rights body backs CIA allegations
STRASBOURG, FRANCE - Europe's top human rights watchdog on Tuesday accused European states of colluding with the United States in alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) activities on the continent. The Council of Europe said in a resolution that some countries were staging posts for illegal "extraordinary rendition" flights - the US practice of transporting detainees to other states for interrogation. Other countries let the US abduct suspects from their territory, it added. The council's 46 member states are obliged to respond to the resolution which follows a report by the council's investigator into alleged US actions in Europe.
The following countries were mentioned in the report as having participated in colluding with the CIA: Romania, Poland, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Cyprus, Britain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The report mentioned further that seven countries - Britain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey - could be held responsible for violating prisoners' rights to "varying degrees." Others, it found, "could be held responsible for collusion - active or passive, in the sense of having tolerated or having been negligent" in the matters of secret prisons and transfers - and mentioned Poland, Romania, Spain, Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.
Censorship and self-censorship - by David Fickling
American writer HL Mencken earned himself a place in the reporter's hall of fame with his comment that the proper relationship between a journalist and a politician should be akin to that between a dog and a lamp-post. But the lamp-post has a nasty habit of pissing back, as it did yesterday when President Bush savaged the US media for its "disgraceful" disclosure of a CIA programme that monitors millions of international banking transactions to track down the sources of terrorist funding.
Airbus closes in on A330F launch
Airbus is poised to begin its assault on the mid-size long-range freighter market, as it finalises long-held plans to launch a freighter version of the A330-200 widebody. Airbus director of production marketing Didier Lenormand says a two-day customer focus meeting was held in Toulouse earlier this month to garner feedback for the aircraft’s specification. “We are not yet at launch stage, but are getting very close,” he says. However, Airbus chief operating officer customers John Leahy says there is strong demand in the sector, and does not rule out a programme launch at next month’s Farnborough air show.
The 64t payload A330-200F would fill the void left by the A300-600F that will cease production in July next year. The A330 will utilise the same 2.6 x 3.6m (8.5 x 11.8ft) cargo door as the A300-600, installed in the forward fuselage. The aircraft is set to enter production in the second half of 2009.
China Eastern Places $1.74 Bln Order for Airbus Jets
June 27 (Bloomberg) -- China Eastern Airlines Corp., the nation's third-largest carrier, ordered 30 Airbus SAS A320 series planes valued at $1.74 billion to expand its domestic and regional services. The aircraft, comprising A319s and A320s, will be delivered between 2008 and 2010, Shanghai-based China Eastern said in a statement today. The value of the contract is based on list prices and doesn't include the discounts that plane makers often give to customers.
China Eastern and the nation's other airlines are expanding their fleets as economic growth increases demand for air travel. Airbus, the world's largest commercial plane maker, forecasts that Chinese carriers will buy 1,790 planes valued at $230 billion by 2023.
Airbus rollout faces political backlash in US - byDoug Cameron, Chicago
THE troubled Airbus A380 program was dealt a potential blow on Friday when an influential US congressman said federal funds should not be used to upgrade US airports to accommodate the world's largest passenger aircraft. John Mica, chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, claimed it could cost as much as $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) to refit up to 18 airports to handle the 550-seat A380 -- which is expected to enter service next year despite production delays.
Mr Mica said any use of federal funds from the Airport Improvement Program to allow A380 operations would be unfair in the wake of the controversy over European state subsidies for the aircraft's development. However, aviation experts said such estimates were inflated, while A380-related improvements were also needed to handle new Boeing aircraft. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and New York's JFK are expected to be the first four US airports to handle A380s. The size of the aircraft will require the municipally owned airports to build stronger runways and air bridges, and to enlarge some terminal facilities.
The Dawning of a New Germany - by Brad Macdonald
With the World Cup in progress, Germany has captured the world’s attention. The tournament will end, but here is why you should keep your eyes glued to this nation. The cumulative viewership of this year’s World Cup is estimated to be 32 billion people. That is an average of every man, woman and child on Earth watching roughly five of its soccer matches. As the host nation, Germany has the world eating from the palm of its hand. The publicity value to this “reformed and democratized” Germany is priceless. For an entire month, Germany is the center of attention.
The World Cup will pass, but we must not turn our attention from Germany. Earth-shattering changes are taking place in this nation. Germany is moving into its new, and final, glory days; the World Cup is simply the beginning. Time will prove the significance of the trends emerging in the Fatherland.In January 2007, Germany, under Merkel’s stewardship, will assume the EU presidency.
On May 11 this year, in her first speech on European policy to the Bundestag (Germany’s parliament) since becoming chancellor, Merkel talked about a vision for Europe. She confirmed her unconditional support for the troubled EU constitution: “We absolutely need the constitution to ensure the European Union is effective and capable of action. … We must reflect how we can bring the constitution project to a successful conclusion” (ibid.). The EU Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, has asked that no decision be made on the constitution until 2008, but for the German government, it is not a question of if the constitution will take effect, but how it will be done. Merkel said it is simply a matter of “finding the correct time to act.”
France - Renault's Latest Research on Fuel Cells
Renault presented the progress it has made in fuel cell research at the 16th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Lyons, France recently. The presentations illustrated Renault's decision to opt for vehicles powered by fuel cells with reformers in order to apply hydrogen energy to the automobile. This technology directly produces the hydrogen on demand and on board the vehicle, solving the problem of very high-pressure or cryogenic storage. Since 2002, Renault, Nissan and Nuvera Fuel Cells have been working together on this solution, which can be used immediately, without waiting for a hydrogen distribution network to be established.
Ireland has been ranked second-last in a survey of the most consumer-friendly healthcare systems in Europe, it emerged today. Only Lithuania’s health system was rated worse when it came to waiting times for treatment, patients’ rights and outcomes.
France was found to have the most consumer-friendly system followed by the Netherlands in the 2006 Euro Health Consumer Index. President Johan Hjertqvist of Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), which drew up the league table, said: “From the consumer point of view, there is room for large improvements in every healthcare system.”
The healthcare systems in the 25 EU countries and Switzerland were compared from a consumer point of view.
EU Pushes Anti-Torture Convention - All Nations Urged to Sign Convention
VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- The European Union on Monday urged all nations to sign a global convention against torture, calling the practice "cruel, inhuman and degrading" not only to victims but to those who inflict such treatment on people. "No culture of impunity is acceptable," the 25-nation bloc warned in a statement coinciding with observances of the United Nations' ninth annual International Day to Support the Victims of Torture.
"The EU resolves to continue and intensify its own efforts to secure a world
free from torture," it said. The EU also said it condemned any attempt by states or public officials to legalize or acquiesce in such treatment "under any circumstances, including on grounds of national security."
Europe lowers drawbridge, steel giant born - by Heather Timmons and Anand Giridharadas
A NEW steel giant is emerging from a bitter battle, after Arcelor agreed to a merger with its rival Mittal Steel in a deal worth €26.8 billion ($A33.5 billion).
Arcelor, a symbol of successful, pan-European co-operation and economic revival, has operations that span Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Spain.Mittal Steel is a fast-growing conglomerate founded by the India-born Lakshmi Mittal, who built a fortune turning around troubled steel plants in expanding markets from Trinidad to Kazakhstan.
Russia failing to meet Council of Europe obligations
Russia failing to meet Council of Europe obligations
STRASBOURG, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is not fulfilling its obligations to the Council of Europe, the leader of a liberal group of delegates to the council's Parliamentary Assembly said Monday. Matyas Eörsi said he was dissatisfied with the situation in Russia's troubled North Caucasus region of Chechnya, the refugee problem in neighboring Ingushetia, cases of army hazing, and above all Russia's failure to fully abolish the death penalty. Eörsi refused to go into detail, but mentioned the breaking-up of a gay pride parade in Moscow May 27.
One hundred and twenty people were detained when police broke up a Gay Pride parade in the Russian capital, sparking critical comments from the West.
Abid Mustafa: Iraq and US Congressional Elections - "The European Card"
On his trip to Europe, President Bush not only sought to assuage European concerns over the war on terror, but also attempted to win over much needed European support to put a positive spin on his Iraq policy. During the visit he made a number of reconciliatory gestures to his European hosts. He expressed his “deep desire" to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and conceded that his response to the September 11 terrorist attacks had not been understood by much of the continent. In Budapest, Bush held up Hungary’s failed 1956 uprising against communism and the nation's subsequent journey to democracy as an example for Iraq.
However, a renewed charm offensive in Europe is not going to be enough to win over the sceptical European public. A poll published recently by the Pew Research Centre based in the US suggested that a record majority of Europeans held a negative view of the US. A Harris poll published last week emphasised that most Europeans considered the US a bigger threat to world peace than Iran, North Korea or China. Was Bush really trying to woo the Europeans or was trying to bolster support back home for his beleaguered Iraq policy.
Reversing US public support for the Iraq war is central to both Bush’s survival and that of his party. The Iraq war has dragged Bush’s approval ratings to below 36% and has fuelled dissent in the rank and file of the Republican Party. No doubt this issue is going to play a significant role in the fortunes of the Republican Party in the upcoming US congressional elections.
Iraq Coalition Casualties Report - 2745 Dead - 743 Iraq security forces killed in June
US November Congressional Elections Republican Party Strategy - Reversing US public support for the Iraq war central to both Bush’s survival and that of the party - According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon last week by the top commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007. At the end of that year, the United States would still have responsibility for the Iraq capital and the area west of Baghdad. American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would hinge on continued progress, including the creation of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the fledgling Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. General Sattler projected that the 10,000 trained Iraqi security forces now in Anbar would double by year's end.
The new details about plans to draw down troop levels came after a two-week campaign by Republicans — backed by senior White House and party political strategists — to paint Democratic Congressional resolutions seeking timetables for withdrawal as calls to "cut and run." On Sunday, Democrats said that their attempts to seek a timeline had been vindicated by the president's own military planners.
Austrians Call U.S. President Bush Unpleasant
(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Few adults in Austria hold positive feelings for the president of the United States, according to a poll by OGM. 83 per cent of respondents think George W. Bush is unpleasant. On Jun. 21, Bush participated in the European Union (EU) and United States summit in Austria. In his remarks to reporters, Bush said, "I reminded my fellow leaders here that the terrorists still want to strike and they want to do harm, and we have an obligation to work very closely together." 86 per cent of respondents believe the U.S.-led war on terrorism has been unsuccessful so far.
Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said the meeting had been "very fruitful and positive," adding, "In our common responsibility to promote stability and security for our citizens and the world, the European Union and the United States successfully work together. There are recent examples for our good cooperation."
Is Latin America Really Turning Left? by James Petras
By 2006 a new configuration emerged in which national polarizations to a significant extent overshadowed social class divisions. The new international divide found the EU and the US on one side and Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia on the other. This primary polarization finds expression in Latin America between, on the one hand, a "New Right" neo-liberal pole of ex-leftists and pseudo-populist and Central and South American clients, and, on the other hand, of national-populists in Bolivia-Venezuela. In between are a large group of countries, which can move in either direction. The "New Right-Free Market" advocates include the Lula regime in Brazil, the outgoing President Fox in Mexico, five Central American regimes, the Vazquez government inm Uruguay, the Uribe "State Terrorist" regime in Colombia, the Bachelet and soon-to-depart Toledo governments in Chile and Peru.
"In between" is the Kirchner government in Argentina reflecting a desire to deepen commercial ties with Venezuela, neutralize internal nationalist-populist pressures and promote a mixed national-foreign capitalist alliance with the US, EU and China. Ecuador,the Caribbean countries, Nicaragua and possibly Peru are sites of competition.
Outside of Europe and North America, in the non-aligned movement, China, Russia, Iran and some of the Arab oil producing states have taken overtly or discretely the side of the Cuban-Venezuelan-Bolivian nationalist alliance.
Young Muslim women in Europe go to extremes to be virgins again
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — Chastity can exact a painful price from young Muslim women, forced into lies or surgery to go to the marriage bed as virgins. Hymen repair, fake virginity certificates and other deceptions, said to be commonplace in some Muslim countries, are practiced in France and elsewhere in Europe, where Muslim girls are more emancipated but still live under rigid codes of family honor.
Such ploys have saved many a young woman from scorn and worse. But they also clash with the more liberal social mores of France and Europe, where some decry it as an attack on human rights.
The procedures are legal but shrouded in silence — "something that passes through non-official channels," via friends or the Internet, said Dr. Nathan Wrobel. "There are circuits that lead women to me." Wrobel is one of an unknown number of gynecologists in France who are willing to repair hymens, the membrane usually broken by the first act of sexual intercourse. He was one of the few doctors willing to talk about it.
Ulster 'is race hate capital of Europe'
Northern Ireland was today branded the race hate capital of Europe. Human rights campaigner Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, was in Belfast for the launch of a new report on racist violence in the North. The report from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), identified institutionalised racism in the criminal justice system and asked how it should be addressed.
Racist violence has been growing at an alarming rate in Northern Ireland in recent years, not just against blacks and Asians, but almost anyone considered an outsider.
Tourism - World's Sexiest Islands - by Sophia Banay
Rankings have long helped us distinguish among the finer things in life. We use the four C's when buying diamonds, and Michelin stars when deciding where to eat. Even A-list actors have Oscar statuettes to separate themselves from the other stars.
But compiling our annual list of the World's Sexiest Islands is an infinitely more subtle task. What, exactly, makes an island--or any travel destination, for that matter--sexy? For starters, you can forget the traditional yardsticks for quantifying travel. Easily accessible, affordable and well-signposted? Sure, apply those criteria if you want to see the sights in a new city (along with all the other tourists). But by no means are they sexy.
FT.COM: IBM chief calls for end to colonial companies - by Francesco Guerrera in New York and Richard Waters in San Francisco
IBM chief calls for end to colonial companies - by Francesco Guerrera in New York and Richard Waters in San Francisco
Sam Palmisano, head of IBM, on Monday called on multinationals to evolve into a new type of corporation if they are to avoid an anti-globalisation backlash that leads to the election of governments hostile to the interests of big business. In a rare public intervention, Big Blue’s chairman and chief executive writes in today’s Financial Times that traditional multinational companies need to abandon their almost colonial approach to operations outside their home country. He cites as examples of this old-style method the way GM, Ford and his own company built factories in Europe and Asia but kept all the research and development in the US. Instead, he argues they need to move towards full global integration of their operations so as to stop the current unease about the forces of globalisation turning into an all-out assault on big business. The danger for multi-nationals that fail to change their thinking is that countries will elect political leaders who impose draconian labour regulations or try to constrain free trade.
Dutch Muslim MPs act as bridge-builders - by HAROON SIDDIQUI
THE HAGUE—He was an infant when his father left their Turkish village for Holland. He followed, with his mother, at the age of five. He didn't speak a word of Dutch. He had never even seen a bike. Today, Coskun Cörüz, 43-year-old lawyer, is a Christian Democratic member of parliament. Elected in 2001, he's deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on integration. Lean, lanky and stylishly dressed, he looks like a corporate executive. She came to Holland at age two, with six siblings, to join their parents who had left their Turkish village two years earlier. Nebahat Albayrak, 38-year-old lawyer who speaks five languages, has been an MP for the leftist Labor Party since 1998 and has been chair of the parliamentary committee on defence.
Dressed in trendy khakis, and discussing hot-button topics with the calm precision of a policy maker, she fits no clichés.
Albayrak and Cörüz are among nine Muslim MPs, of varying degrees of faith, seven of them women, caught between the extremes of ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the one hand and militant Muslims on the other.
"Balkans: Is It Time For An Alternative To The EU?
By Patrick Moore
PRAGUE, June 25, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- One truism of postcommunist Europe is that all the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans will sooner or later join the EU and NATO. It seems, however, that the countries of the western Balkans might find themselves in a "black hole" outside the EU for the foreseeable future even if they are surrounded by member states. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia face uncertainty in their hopes to join the EU.
The Brussels-based bloc has a particular attraction for the countries of the region for three reasons.
Looking Toward The EU
First, membership means a seat at the table where decisions affecting all of Europe are made. The small Balkan states might not wield much influence, but it is better to be inside looking out than outside looking in, or so the argument has run."
Talk of mergers boosts Europe
European stocks gained this week, the first advance in four weeks, on speculation that mergers and acquisitions will increase.
"Credit is still cheap, corporate balance sheets are still strong, and private equity still has cash to invest," said Kevin Lilley at Royal London Asset Management. "All those things haven't gone away."
U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday focused on former communist Hungary as a vibrant symbol of "New Europe," and the Hungarian prime minister urged Europeans to think more positively of America. Bush, who arrived late Wednesday, is partially retracing the steps of his father - the first American head of state to set foot in the country when it was on the threshold of democratic transition.
His visit was overshadowed, however, by concerns about America's fight against terror. Like Europeans elsewhere, many Hungarians are critical of America's presence in Iraq, the U.S. prison at Guantanamo for terrorist suspects, reports of secret CIA prisons in Europe and the controversies surrounding Abu Ghraib and Haditha in Iraq.
"Public opinion matters, says EU
By Justin Stares in Brussels
After years of single-mindedly championing European integration, the European Commission has finally been told that it must take into account a revolutionary new factor when drawing up policy: public opinion.
Someone voting yes to admitting Turkey
52 per cent of people in the EU oppose admitting Turkey
Instead of brushing aside the views of ordinary citizens as no more than a nuisance, the European Union executive has been instructed by Europe's leaders to take account of 'perception by citizens' when deciding whether the EU should be further enlarged."
Why Do They Hate Us? - by Julia E. Sweig and reviewed by Joseph S. Nye
If Henry Luce was correct that the last century was the American century, will the 21st be the anti-American one? According to Julia E. Sweig, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, we are off to a bad start: "Since 2000, polls by over a half dozen organizations -- from Pew to Zogby, German Marshall Fund to the Guardian , Eurobarometer to Latinobar?metro -- have tracked the declining views about America, Americans, and U.S. foreign policy in every region of the world." Even a pro-American writer like Mario Vargas Llosa argued in June 2004 that images from Abu Ghraib prison and the Gaza Strip "have done more damage to the United States and Israel than all the bombs and the suicide attacks of the Islamic extremists in the last few months."
"Hussain looks at Islam's hidden impact on Europe
By Hassan A. Bari
KUWAIT: Under the auspices of the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs for cultural affairs Waleed Al-Fadhel, the Grand Mosque recently held a lecture titled 'Islamic Civilisation and its Impact Upon the Development of Western Europe'. The lecture was delivered by the British historian and archaeologist Farhat A. Hussain, who has lectured at several prestigious universities in the UK, such as Cambridge, Manchester and Durham. The lecture was held at the Grand Mosque's Royal Tent and was attended by the ambassadors of Greece and Belgium, a number of Muslim Westerners, members of Western community in Kuwait, ministry officials and the media."
"Drift of Europe’s foreign policy
Published: Saturday, 24 June, 2006, 09:35 AM Doha Time
By Adrian Hamilton
ASIDE from the issue of Guantanamo Bay, relations between the European Union and the US have probably never been better. Which says something about European attitudes in the recent Vienna summit between President Bush and EU officials.
Guantanamo is a continuing sore, but it is sore not because EU officials or political leaders have particularly cared about it, but because the European public does. If it had been up to the politicians, Guantanamo, and indeed the rendering of prisoners, would have been quietly ignored by European governments, an embarrassment rather than a scandal. It is to Tony Blair’s eternal discredit, and that of his Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, that Britain made such half-hearted objections to Guantanamo, even when it concerned the incarceration of our own citizens and residents."
The Guardian: Europe's brothel - "macro-brothels making prostitution a growth industry in Spain" - by Giles Tremlett
Europe's brothel - "macro-brothels making prostitution a growth industry in Spain" - by Giles Tremlett
Spanish prostitution, and its spin-offs, are now an €18bn (US$21bn) business sector - equivalent to half of Spain's education budget. Spain's National Statistics Institute reported in 2003 that more than 27% of Spanish men under 49 had had sex with a prostitute during their lives, and one in 15 over the previous year - "noticeably higher than those in other surveys in Europe".
Europe 'ignoring Turkmen human rights abuses' - by Jerome Taylor
The EU has been accused of ignoring human rights abuses in Turkmenistan by considering a trade agreement with the repressive former Soviet republic despite a recent crackdown on political dissidents and human rights activists.A delegation of five MEPs returned from the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, yesterday following a fact-finding mission to see if the EU could breath life into a trade agreement with Turkmenistan and tap into the country's huge gas reserves.
Martin Callanan, one of the five MEPs on the fact-finding mission, yesterday accused the EU of ignoring human rights abuses for commercial benefit. "The EU is being completely hypocritical," he said. "We isolate a country like Belarus, which isn't half as repressive as Turkmenistan but the sad reality is that Belarus doesn't have lots of gas and oil reserves."In the past week, Turkmen security forces have arrested three human rights activists and four of their relatives in what campaigners say is one of the worst crackdowns on civil society since November 2002
France unveiled a Web site (www.geoportail.fr) on Friday that allows people to access detailed satellite images of the country and said it offered more detail of its territory than Google Earth (www.earth.google.com).
Google Earth, which allows Internet users to zoom in on locations around the world, caused concern when it was launched last year among governments who feared terrorists might use the service to help plot attacks. But President Jacques Chirac stressed the need for France to have such a site, which will allow Internet users to view aerial photos and maps, saying the state had to be at the cutting edge of modern technology.
"It is also a case of economics," Chirac was quoted by his office as saying during a presentation of the new portal, which is a joint project by the National Geographic Institute and the Office of Geological and Mineral Research.
Probably the most terrifying movie of the summer. You owe it to the planet to see the truth....
Bush Officials Defend Financial Monitoring - by Martin Crutsinger
The Bush administration said Friday an anti-terrorism program that taps into an immense international database of confidential financial records has adequate safeguards to protect Americans' privacy. Treasury Secretary John Snow called the financial-records effort "government at its best" and said it was "entirely consistent with our democratic values, with our best legal traditions."
The program, kept secret until it was revealed Thursday by news organizations, has been going on since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Democrats and civil liberties groups said the effort had disturbing similarities to another controversial anti-terrorism program of warrantless spying on telephone calls and e-mails.
Europe-Choose your beach with Medspiration
Before you pack your swimsuit and head to the sea this summer, you may want to check out the water’s temperature with ESA’s Medspiration heat map of all 2 965 500 square kilometres of the Mediterranean. An updated map of the sea surface temperature (SST) of the world's largest inland sea is generated every day as part of ESA's Medspiration project, with an unprecedented spatial resolution of two square kilometres, high enough to detect detailed features like eddies, fronts and plumes within the surface temperature distribution.
In addition to ensuring you plunge into warm water, knowledge of SST is important for weather forecasting and is increasingly seen as a key indicator of climate change. The idea behind Medspiration is to combine data from multiple satellite systems to produce a robust set of sea surface data for assimilation into ocean forecasting models of the waters around Europe and also the whole of the Atlantic Ocean.
"Beyond enlargement: Toward a European Commonwealth
John Palmer International Herald Tribune
Published: June 23, 2006
BRUSSELS The conversation was about just how far the enlargement of the European Union might go before the EU would have to call a halt, when the Kazakhstani diplomat intervened.
Pointing to a map of Kazakhstan on the wall he said, "My country also has a vocation to be part of Europe. Indeed the parts of Kazakhstan which lie inside geographical Europe are larger than the territory of any existing EU member state."
"Tales from Eurabia
Jun 22nd 2006
From The Economist print edition
Contrary to fears on both sides of the Atlantic, integrating Europe's Muslims can be done
THIS week George Bush was in Vienna, doing his best to mend relations with his allies. The list of disputes between the United States and Europe remains long and familiar: Guantánamo, Iraq, Iran, the common agricultural policy. Less easy for Mr Bush to talk about, let alone fix, is the equally long list of different attitudes from which so many transatlantic tensions seem to spring—opposing prejudices on everything from capitalism and religiosity to Mr Bush's “war on terror”."
Is Eurabia really something to worry about? The concept includes a string of myths and a couple of hard truths. Most of the myths have to do with the potency of Islam in Europe. The European Union is home to no more than 20m Muslims, or 4% of the union's inhabitants. That figure would soar closer to 17% if Turkey were to join the EU—but that, alas, is something that Europeans are far less keen on than Americans are. Even taking into account Christian and agnostic Europe's lousy breeding record, Muslims will account for no more than a tenth of west Europe's population by 2025. Besides, Europe's Muslims are not homogenous. Britain's mainly South Asian Muslims have far less in common with France's North African migrants or Germany's Turks than they do with other Britons.
Thousands reach 'Fortress Europe' each year
Eurostat, the EU statistics office, has said the EU population rose by 2.3 million in 2004, 1.9 million of these were immigrants. About 10 per cent of the Dutch population of 16 million is defined as having 'non-Western' roots, 1 million of them Muslims, mostly from Turkey and Morocco. Among the young in the big cities such as Rotterdam, immigrants are in the majority.
The United Nations has said that Europe hosted 34 per cent of all migrants in 2005, North America 23 per cent and Asia 28 per cent. Only 9 per cent were living in Africa, 3 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 3 per cent in Oceania.
The EU's border agency pledged 2.1 million euros (US$2.64 million) to help co-ordinate EU help to the Canaries and Malta. The money will help organize the EU's first joint sea patrol mission, aimed at stopping migrants reaching the Canary Islands. France and Morocco have agreed measures to curb illegal migration to Europe, including offering financial support to stop Africans emigrants sailing to the Canary Islands.
Europe's wine label and vines overhaul to combat New World - by Philippe Naughton
The European Commission wants to rip up vines and its traditional labelling rules to protect the Continent's wine industry from surging New World imports.Under reform proposals unveiled today, winemakers in France, Italy and beyond will be asked to "grub up" a million acres of vines and consider taking EU-funded early retirement. The removal of the vines to help restore the balance between supply and demand is the first step in the Commission's package. The next stage would involve reforming the EU's archaic wine classification system to allow producers to adopt consumer-friendly modern labelling and vinification techniques.
The European Union is responsible for 60 per cent of global wine production and consumption, but its wine industry is threatened both by declining domestic demand and the increased popularity of well-priced and user-friendly wines from producers such as Australia and Chile, which have both seen their exports to Europe rise almost 2,000 per cent over the past 15 years.
Bringing Europe Together - Sport the common denominator
FIFA, the world governing body, was formed in 1904 with seven European members, while UEFA came into being exactly 50 years later. This gap of half a century could be attributed to the fact that FIFA had always been run from Europe, largely by Europeans dealing with predominantly European issues; but by 1954 FIFA's membership had risen to 79 and the European associations began to feel the need for their own organisation, to organise competitions for Europe's national teams and clubs and to provide a focal point for a united European football movement.
This article looks at UEFA's history and addresses two of the key questions raised in this section of UEFA’s ten-year strategy document, Vision Europe: why was UEFA created, and what activities has UEFA traditionally undertaken?
EU musters resources against illegal migration - by Ingrid Melander
With thousands of Africans braving the perilous journey to Europe’s southern coasts of Spain, Malta and Italy, the European Union’s 25 nations want to take a tougher line. “We are moving towards a militarisation of the management of this crisis,” said Daphne Bouteillet-Paquet of human rights group Amnesty International’s EU office. Fortress Europe “is a cliche but it remains true,” she said.
The sea patrol will try to intercept illegal migrants before they leave African waters and head for the Canary Islands, where more than 10,000 landed this year, compared with around 4,700 last year. Hundreds more are believed to have died on the way.
The EU is the world’s biggest aid donor, with figures showing its countries provided $43.3 billion in 2004, over half of all international aid.
Member states agreed last year to boost aid spending to 0.56 percent of gross national income by 2010 and 0.7 percent by 2015. They also agreed that half of the increase in aid would go towards Africa. Bouteillet-Paquet said the focus of the draft EU-African plan drawn up in Dakar was more on repressive measures than aid. Collett feared the EU was trying to shift the burden of dealing with sub-Saharan migrants to North African countries.
Bloomberg.com: EU Presses New Eastern States to Calm Fear of Euro-Driven Inflation - - Good communication essential
EU Presses New Eastern States to Calm Fear of Euro-Driven Inflation - Good communication essential
Citizens in the 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004 feel ``ill-informed'' and need ``reassurance,'' EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a press release today in Brussels. ``The countries that aim at introducing the euro in 2008 should pay particular attention notably to information and communication.''
A Gallup Europe survey of 10,000 people in eastern Europe shows that 60 percent consider themselves not very or not at all informed about the euro and 46 percent fear that the introduction of the euro will lead to higher prices.
Inflation in the euro area has stayed above the European Central Bank's ceiling of 2 percent since 2001. Countries seeking to join the euro need to pass economic tests including a limit on inflation.
Struggling U.S. airlines falling behind rival foreign carriers - by David Armstrong
After five years of losing billions of dollars, going in and out of bankruptcy and ordering money-saving service cutbacks, U.S. carriers are falling behind rival foreign airlines in the care and feeding of travelers, especially the long-haul passenger who flies in the front of the plane in business or first class. Carriers such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa AG have been buying new planes, installing elaborate entertainment systems, firing up in-flight e-mail and Web-surfing options, designing plush seats and recruiting celebrity chefs to create haute cuisine menus.
Continuing losses at big U.S. carriers, however, have not allowed them to buy state-of-the-art airplanes. At best, they have had to make do with upgrading business and first-class services.
George W. Bush, wife Laura, a troupe of White House handlers and supporting players like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice turned up in the city of Mozart and Wiener Schnitzel yesterday for a less-than-24-hour diplomatic gavotte. Bush had traveled to Vienna to put in an appearance at the annual European Union-United States summit, hosted by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, whose country currently holds the E.U.'s rotating presidency.
Like a teasing, roguish suitor, Bush sang a brief aria to the assembled E.U. leaders - beating them to a controversial subject they had planned to broach themselves - about really, really, really wanting to close the prison-and-torture facility at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, although he offered no plan of action for doing so. At a press conference after the confab, Bush said: "I'd like to end Guantánamo Bay. I'd like it to be over with." However, he added, he is "waiting for the Supreme Court of the U.S. to determine the proper venue in which people can be tried."
Talat: E.U. Has Begun Understanding How It Got Into Such A Serious Trouble By Accepting Membership Of Greek Cypriot Administration
"Talat: E.U. Has Begun Understanding How It Got Into Such A Serious Trouble By Accepting Membership Of Greek Cypriot Administration
IZMIR - ''The EU has begun understanding how it got into such a serious trouble by accepting membership of the Greek Cypriot administration,'' said President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with the A.A, President Talat said, ''the Greek Cypriot administration brings the issue of opening of Turkish ports and airports onto agenda in the Turkey-the EU entry talks even on the chapters which do not concern foreign policy. Actually, it is not surprising since we expect it. We already knew that the Greek Cypriot administration would assume an extremely tough stance. It was the EU which was surprised. Now, the EU has begun understanding how it got into such a serious trouble by accepting membership of the Greek Cypriot administration.''
''If the isolation of Turkish Cypriots is not lifted, Turkey's extending its customs union to cover the ten new EU-member countries and opening of Turkish ports and airports to the Greek Cypriot traffic will not make any contribution to efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus issue,'' he said."
"Launching the European Project in 23 pages
Why is a political Europe desirable? Because it would serve the interests of everyone. Essayist and historian Tzvetan Todorov tells us why
With its 450 million strong population, the European Union can adopt an economic policy that not one of the nations that draws it up is able to impose alone; deal with the energy supply problems that they all face; adopt a common stance on immigration; develop advanced research centres that no single Member State could offer. The European countries must also be united in order to offer more effective resistance to their common adversaries. At the moment, terrorists travel from one country to another more easily than investigating magistrates. Ecological threats ignore borders just as much; the cloud from Chernobyl did not stop at the Rhine; the effects of global warming can be felt equally in Italy and in Denmark. Only protection policies remain national."
"Turkey to scrap tax for foreign investors
Michael Kuser in Istanbul
Published: June 22 2006 12:11 | Last updated: June 22 2006 12:11
Turkey will lift the 15 per cent withholding tax it imposes on foreign investors, with effective legislation expected to be passed by the Turkish parliament before it recesses at the end of June, Kemal Unakitan, the country’s finance minister, said on Thursday.
The move will bring Turkey in line with European Union norms on domicile and residence rules on taxation of individuals, Mr Unakitan told reporters at a joint press conference in Ankara with Ali Babacan, Turkey’s economy minister and chief EU negotiator."
Warm words but wishy-washy results at EU-US summit - by Lucia Kubosova
BRUSSELS - Standing side by side with US president George W. Bush after a bilateral summit, EU leaders toned down their rhetoric on controversial issues highlighted before the meeting, despite not having any concrete commitments from Washington on visas, trade talks or climate change.The EU sent a number of strong messages before the one-day gathering on Wednesday (21 June), pledging to be tough and call for real moves in several areas on the US side. Apart from Guantanamo - which Mr Bush said he would like to end but has to wait for a Supreme Court decision - the loudest pre-summit noise was made on the issue of a two-tier visa system for EU member states.
EU officials warned they may introduce retaliatory measures if the US does not outline further steps to resolve the problem. However, while Mr Barroso mentioned the subject had been raised in Vienna - as "an important issue for the EU" - the statement in the joint declaration does not look to any real move in the foreseeable future.
Is the US dollar toast? - by Mike Shedlock
Following are the four most common reasons cited for the dollar being toast.
1. The Balance of Trade
2. The National Debt
3. The Savings Rate
4. Monetary Printing by the Fed
Mike Shedlock takes a look at each of these reasons in turn. For the full report go to: http://www.freemarketnews.com/Analysis/219/5400/2006-06-21a.asp?wid=219&nid=5400
Bush lashes out at war critics in Europe
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - President Bush responded angrily Wednesday to differences with Europe over the war in Iraq and the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With public opinion surveys showing a growing animosity in Europe toward the United "States amid fears that its anti-terrorism policies and the Iraq war are endangering global stability, the president raised his voice during a news conference and several times used the words "absurd" and "absurdity" to describe the criticism.
In response to a reporter who questioned whether the United States is promoting or hindering world peace, Bush said, "I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran. We're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active." - - "but not productive", said an observer at the news conference.
Trichet's upbeat comments on euro zone economy signal more rate rises
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet has signalled that more euro zone interest rate rises are coming. He told the European Parliament's economic and monetary committee in Brussels that policy makers are not "satisfied'' with the level of inflation in the region and its economy is growing: "Investment is expected to grow robustly, benefiting from favourable financing conditions, corporate balance sheet restructuring and gains in earnings and in business efficiency. "Furthermore, we expect consumption growth to further strengthen gradually over time, in line with the developments in real disposable income, as the labour market situation and in particular employment growth gradually improves."
Trichet's comments on growth were his most upbeat in a long time. That caused the markets to increase their bets that there will be further interest rate rises this year. The ECB has put up borrowing costs three times since last December, to 2.75%.
WORLD CUP. ITALY MATCH IS WORTH 350,000 EURO IN PIZZAS
In Milan, an Italy world cup match is worth 350,000 euro in pizzas and happy hour drinks (170,000 in bars/restaurants and 185,000 at home), according to a survey led by Unione del Commercio Milano: 20 and 30 year-olds choose bars and restaurants, 50 pct of clubs offering happy hour drinks combined it with the world cup matches. Many clubs will open early, with Italy playing at 4pm; 50 pct of clubs organises football nights and 90 pct have screens to show the match. Only 29.4 pct charges special prices, while 23.5 pct offers special food and drinks for the world cup; 89 pct of clubs experienced a rise in customers during the matches. (AGI) .
Iran war 'could triple oil price'
World oil prices could triple if the West's stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme escalates into conflict, the Saudi Arabian government has warned.
The Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, said such an event could send prices spiralling from their current level of about $70 per barrel.
"“Absorption capacity”: the wrong European debate
21 - 6 - 2006
The mood of the European Union is one of renewed if fragile optimism. But its politicians still need to choose reality-based argument and language over evasive jargon, says Frank Vibert.
The "no" results in the May-June 2005 referenda in France and the Netherlands on the European Union's proposed constitution were followed by predictable statements that the EU was in a condition of crisis. This crisis was said to be composed of three elements:
* the rejection of the constitution (more strictly, of the treaty establishing the constitution) by a national vote in two key member-states
* the doubts the failed referenda cast over further EU enlargement
* the doubts they cast over the economy – especially the future of the "Lisbon agenda" designed to improve Europe's ability to compete in global markets.
Such "crisis talk" remains a backdrop to much media discussion, and is reinforced by the apparent lack of substance in some of the EU's consultations (such as the European Council meeting to close the Austrian presidency, before Finland assumes the role for the second half of 2006). But the language of crisis was always artificial and overblown. A year on, the EU's mood is beginning to change for the better. "
Germany Goes Dutch- by Marc Young
Today, all Germans must be Dutchmen. Despite how horrible and unnatural that sounds to most Teutonic football fans, Germany must support a Dutch victory this evening when Holland plays Argentina -- at all costs. That's because the last Group C match between the effective Dutch and utterly lethal Argentines on Wednesday could have serious repercussions for the World Cup hosts down the line. Just as importantly -- to me at least -- it could have serious repercussions for the quarter-final match in Berlin for which I have tickets.
That's why I'm pimping for a Dutch victory on Wednesday, which would see the Netherlands top Group C. That would set up a classic German-Dutch quarter-final showdown in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on June 30. Sure, Germany would still have to flatten Sweden and Holland would need to beat Mexico or Portugal in the last 16 next week, but that's eminently doable. And to be brutally honest, Germany would have a much better shot of downing the Dutch than they would the Argentines, who appear to be the tournament's most dangerous team.
Macao chief vows to enhance relations with Europe
Macao's Chief Executive Ho Hau wah said on Tuesday that he would invite the members of the European Parliament (EP) to visit Macao to further strengthen Europe-Macao relations. During his visit to the EP, the chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) held separate talks with EP Vice President Alejo Vidal-Quadras and Chairman of the EP Delegation for Relations with China Dirk Sterckx. After the meeting, Ho said that he had briefed his Europe counterparts on Macao's latest development and the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" principle in the SAR. He said that both Macao and the EP had the will to carry out a program of friendly communication, which was proposed by the Portuguese members of the EP two years ago.
Bush's trip to Europe gets off to rough start
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - President Bush confronted high-stakes nuclear showdowns with North Korea and Iran and grisly news about U.S. war deaths Tuesday as he began a quick trip to strengthen ties with European allies unhappy about Iraq. A week after Bush made a surprise, celebratory visit to Baghdad, he learned that two U.S. soldiers captured in Iraq had been found slain. They were killed by the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, an insurgent umbrella group said in a Web statement that suggested the servicemen had been beheaded.More than 2,500 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.
Anti-Americanism is widespread in Europe, where Bush is seen by many as a cowboy president who doesn't care about the concerns of other countries. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib, allegations of a massacre of unarmed civilians by U.S. Marines at Haditha and reports of secret prisons for terror suspects have hurt America's image.
Bush will hold several hours of talks today with leaders of the 25-nation European Union. Tonight he will go to Budapest, Hungary, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising against communist rule. He returns to Washington Thursday evening.
In Europe PCs beat solar and wind power as favored technology - by Steve Ranger
Forget about Terminator-style nightmare scenarios. Most Europeans think computers will have a more positive impact on everyday life over the next 20 years than solar energy or wind power. Nearly four out of five (79 per cent) of the 25,000 people across Europe interviewed for the European Commission's Eurobarometer technology survey said computers and IT will improve our way of life in the next 20 years. Only a pessimistic six per cent predicted IT and computers will lead to deterioration. A similar number (78 per cent) said solar energy will have a positive impact, and 74 per cent gave wind power the thumbs-up.
But only 58 per cent said mobile phones will have a positive impact, and 15 per cent said they will make life worse - the highest negative score for any technology apart from nuclear power. Europeans are least positive about nuclear energy, biotechnology and space exploration.
Turkey more Important for EU than Greek Cyprus
Dutch Deputy PM and Economy Minister Laurens Van Brinkhorst has compared Turkey to an elephant and Greek Cyprus to a mouse, saying that Turkey was more important for the European Union than Greek Cyprus in terms of economy, politics and population. Currently paying a visit to Istanbul, the visiting Dutch minister spoke regarding Turkey-European Union relations and the Cyprus issue. Brinkhorst stated that the Cyprus issue was important for Turkey but that it should not be exaggerated and influence overall relations. The Deputy Dutch PM Brinkhorst compared Turkey and Greek Cyprus respectively to an elephant and mouse due to their comparatively different economic and political importance for the European Union.
Brinkhorst also remarked that the Dutch rejection of the European Union constitution in the referendum held last year had little thing to do with Turkey's European Union membership and that the majority of the Dutch favored Turkey's accession to the European Union.
"Fox: The Europeanisation of Defence
Fox: The Europeanisation of Defence
Speech to the Centre for Policy Studies
'The Laeken Declaration of 2001 claimed that EU citizens 'want to see Europe more involved in foreign affairs, security and defence'. Walking the streets of my constituency, I have never once heard that view expressed to me.
There seems to be an ever increasing disconnect between the federalist aspirations of the EU's self-styled political elite on the one hand, and the people of the European Union on the other.
The mindset of denial of the integrationists following the French and Dutch referendum results has been followed by a new, more subtle approach, evident in the continuous attempt to further integrate national defence policies. "
Europe: Friend or foe to Bush?
(CNN) -- When U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in the Austrian capital of Vienna for the European Union Summit this week, just how many friends will he have? Summits are all about making friends and influencing people. But keeping buddies in Europe hasn't been easy for Bush. French President Jacques Chirac clashed with him over Iraq. And Bush's friends keep moving on. Former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain retired and was replaced by the leftist Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero who immediately pulled Spain's troops from Iraq.
Italy's former leader Silvio Berlusconi lost an election to Romano Prodi, who can't wait to get Italian troops out of Iraq. And British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the best buddy of all, is expected to leave office next year having lost a lot of support.
FT.com - Tensions with Serbs raise fears over links with EU - Daniel Dombey in Brussels and Neil MacDonald
Tensions with Serbs raise fears over links with EU - Daniel Dombey in Brussels and Neil MacDonald
Concerns are mounting that Serbia could break with the west because of tensions over unfulfilled obligations to the international community. The country’s lack of progress in arresting and transferring Gen Ratlo Mladic, an indicted war criminal, is a key stumbling block, but European Union diplomats also fear Russian backing for hardliners in Serbia who question the need – or the inevitability – of a “European future” for south-eastern Europe. There was a “sense of urgency concerning Serbia” at an EU summit in Brussels last week that discussed ways of bolstering ties with Belgrade, according to one person who was present.
Foreign ministers in attendance warned that the EU needed to prevent Serbia from “falling into nationalism” and had to ensure that the country was not “lost.”
Paris to unveil tribal art museum
French President Jacques Chirac is due to unveil his legacy to the nation - a 260m euro (£180m) riverside museum in the shadow of Paris' Eiffel Tower. The museum will display indigenous art from Africa, Asia and Australasia. It is the first major museum to open in the French capital since the Pompidou Centre in 1977.The Musee du Quai Branly, on the banks of the River Seine, has been a decade in the making. It combines angular glass walls with futuristic cubes of bright colour and, outside, a green wall of thick vegetation, suggestive of a forest or a jungle.
The museum was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, and is meant to be President Chirac's legacy after nearly 12 years in office.
VIENNA, Austria - Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Haditha. America’s problems with Iraq are casting a long shadow over President Bush’s meeting with European Union leaders this week. The gathering is restricted to U.S. officials and the European Union leadership, and the agenda focuses on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, agricultural subsidies and the West’s dependence on imported oil and gas. But the United States’ precarious world standing will be the unspoken theme of Wednesday’s session in Vienna.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, plans to urge Bush to close Guantanamo. Peter Pilz, a senior member of Austria’s Green party, says Schuessel should tell Bush “that the criminal actions of his government will not be tolerated in Europe.” Pilz is one of Austria’s more outspoken public figures. Still, his sentiments — that the U.S. is breaking the law in Iraq and in its larger fight against terror — are shared by many Europeans angry over the Iraq invasion, recent suicides at Guantanamo and the reported existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe and other countries of the world.
Sending shameful signals - by James Caroll
After World War II, many Allied leaders, led by Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, assumed that captured Nazis, whose war crimes were evident, should be summarily executed. But others, led especially by US Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, understood the importance of dealing with the major criminals according to scrupulous legal procedures. The result was the Nuremberg Tribunals, where the rights of defendants, even those defendants, were affirmed. Those trials, lasting from 1945 to 1949, involving more than 200 accused war criminals, demonstrated the values for which the United States had just fought the brutal war. More than that: In a recovery from brutality, the Nuremberg trials rescued those values.
The opposite has been occurring in Guantanamo Bay.
EU fights back in 'visa wars' with US-by Nicolas Watt
The European commission threatened to force US diplomats to apply for visas to work in parts of the EU on Monday, in retaliation for the refusal of Washington to allow visa-free access to the US to all EU citizens. On the eve of a visit by George Bush to Europe, an internal commission paper warned of punitive steps. It said: "The only feasible retaliatory measure in the field of visa policy at this stage would be the introduction of visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports."Franco Frattini, the European justice commissioner, is understood to have told the US that the EU was prepared to impose restrictions unless EU citizens in eastern Europe were allowed into the US without visas.
A spokesman for the European commission said: "We hope that the visa waiver system is extended to all EU member states. The US's political recognition of the enlarged Europe should be recognised at a practical level." Commission sources said they did not expect any change of heart by the US authorities, indicating that the "visa wars" may sour the atmosphere during a one-day EU/US summit in Vienna on Wednesday. Mr Bush hopes the summit will help to improve relations after disagreements over the Iraqi invasion.
Anti-Americanism's Deep Roots - by Robert Kagan
The Iraq war has rekindled myriad old resentments toward the United States, a thousand different complaints, each one specific to a time and place far removed from the present conflict. It has united a diverse spectrum of anti-American views in common solidarity -- the Marxist Africans still angry over American policy in the 1960s and '70s, the Pakistanis still furious at America's (bipartisan) support for the dictator Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in the 1970s and '80s, the French theoreticians who started railing against the American "hyperpower" in the 1990s, the Latin ex-guerrillas still waging their decades-old struggle against North American imperialism, the Arab activists still angry about 1948. At a conference in the Middle East a few months ago, I heard a moderate Arab scholar complaining bitterly about how American policy had alienated the Arab peoples in recent years. A former Clinton official sitting next to him was nodding vigorously but then suddenly stopped when the Arab scholar made clear that by "recent years" he meant ever since 1967.
There are two lessons to be drawn from all this. One is that in time the current tidal wave of anti-Americanism will ebb, just as in the past. Smarter American diplomacy can help, of course, as can success in places such as Iraq. But the other lesson is not to succumb to the illusion that America was beloved until the spring of 2003 and will be beloved again when George W. Bush leaves office.
"Europe's new division of labor
From Warsaw Business Journal
Two years after the accession of 10 new members, the EU is showing clear signs of enlargement fatigue.
While most politicians and economists insist that eastward enlargement has been good for the EU, voters are increasingly skeptical. This matters, first because concerns about 'unfair' competition after enlargement impede EU progress, for example with opening up services markets; and second because France, Austria and probably others will hold referendums on future accessions. The Balkan countries and Turkey will not join unless the people in the existing EU countries understand how enlargement has really changed the Union."
EU's Kroes concerned by 'renewed vigour' of protectionism
BRUSSELS (AFX) - EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said she is concerned by the 'renewed vigour' of a trend towards protectionism in Europe. Speaking in Vienna, Kroes said: 'It is something that is always lurking in the background of the European project but it is something which has had renewed vigour and attention recently. I am naturally concerned when, in a few well-publicised cases, action has been taken by national governments or authorities to hinder (cross-border mergers).'
She said the commission stands ready to 'tackle any unjustified interference'.
U.S. economy not perfect but trumps most in Europe
Many European observers smirkingly refer to the US economy as "cowboy economy." They allege that Americans lack self-discipline, that they are too impulsive, do not plan carefully enough and do not have strong social safety nets for the unemployed, the sick, the elderly and the victims of natural disasters. However, the US economy is still growing well and certainly much faster than most economies of the European Union. US unemployment rate is also generally lower than that of EU member countries. Inflation is not (yet) a problem; jobs are being created, although not enough in the skilled areas. Consumer and investment spending are spurting ahead despite fears that the boom cannot last indefinitely. This is not the case in some of Europe's largest economies. Year after year, several reputable studies keep ranking the U.S. as one of the most competitive economies in the global market place. Foreign businesses and financial institutions are still pouring vast amounts of investment funds into the U.S.
Guantanamo - Shut this hellhole...now that's good PR - by Suzanne Moore
On a recent holiday to Cuba I was intrigued to see that day-trips were offered to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. You can't go that near it, but you can look through a telescope to see the American flag flying. The 460 'dangerous terrorists' inside the camp, whose ages have ranged from 13 to 98, are such a threat that 9,000 American military personnel live near the base. For them there is a golf course, supermarkets, a yacht club and a cinema. And obviously a Starbucks and a McDonald's.
Three prisoners hanged themselves a few days ago. The youngest was 21, which means he must have been 17 when he was picked up and taken to Guantanamo. It is said he was a frontline Taliban fighter in charge of purchasing munitions. Unlikely at his age, but, as with most detainees, we don't know because no formal charges have ever been brought and no legal representation has been offered.
The Economist, others say Bush just doesn't get it - by John Burke
What looks good to Americans doesn’t always play well in the rest of the world. This was strikingly true over the past week concerning three events that some foreign press tied together: the suicides at Guantanamo, the assassination of Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, and Bush’s impromptu call on the new Iraqi prime minister. Among international publications, the overwhelming underlying theme behind the incidents was simple: PR. Whereas some Americans may have bought a deputy assistant secretary of state's assertion that the suicides “were a good publicity stunt to attract attention,” those outside the U.S. seized on the statement and ridiculed it as government PR.