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7/31/06

IOL: SA warns of escalating Mideast conflict


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South Africa warns of escalating Mideast conflict

The South African government has voiced its concern that the current Middle East conflict could soon escalate to a regional war, and criticised Israel's "collective punishment" of its neighbours. The foreign affairs department said on Monday: "The collective punishment of the Israeli government against the Palestinian and Lebanese people is contrary to international law and the Geneva Convention."

Such military attacks against civilian targets in densely populated areas and the massive destruction of infrastructure were unprecedented in recent times. Inkatha Freedom Party foreign affairs spokesperson Ben Skosana added his party's concern on Monday."The boundless eccentric militancy displayed by all parties in the Middle East conflict has now become the nemesis of the nations of that region, including some member states of the European Union (EU).

The Washington Times: Cyprus - France eyes air base to boost military role - by Andre Borowiec


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Cyprus - France eyes air base to boost military role - by Andre by Andre Borowiec

France hopes to obtain the use of a key air base in Cyprus to facilitate its ambition of playing a major role in the eastern Mediterranean. Details of a proposed military-cooperation treaty were discussed during a visit to Cyprus last week by French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who observed the evacuation of French nationals from Lebanon by warships of the French navy. The role of Cyprus as the hub in the massive evacuation of foreigners -- and now as the main link in efforts to create a "humanitarian corridor" for aid flowing to Lebanon -- appears to have given impetus to military talks between France and Cyprus.

EU- European Logo Competition 2006


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EU-European Logo Competition 2006

On 25 March 2007 the European Union will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome – the origin of the European integration process. For this occasion, the European Union invites students of art and related disciplines and young design professionals to take part in the competition and design a logo.
Read and download all necessary information on the competition from the above link and register online! Send the EU your logo by 30 September 2006 (postmark) and be the creator of the official EU birthday logo which will be used for all European Union events related to this 50th anniversary.

Letter From Europe: European leaders face knife's edge in Mideast - Europe

International Herald Tribune

"Letter From Europe: European leaders face knife's edge in Mideast
Judy Dempsey International Herald Tribune

Published: July 31, 2006


BERLIN Before the German cabinet met last Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel took a hard look at the Middle East. Literally. In her methodical way, she looked at maps that showed the border between Israel and Lebanon and the flash points between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters. Merkel then recommended to the cabinet that Germany not support the idea of a NATO peacekeeping mission in that war-weary corner of the Middle East.

Her view is shared by other European governments. Most agree that some kind of peacekeeping force will be required to help the weak Lebanese government and army to disarm Hezbollah, but not under the flag of NATO, because it is too strongly identified with the United States."

Wiener Zeitung: Mideast peace needs EU - by Joe Remick

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Mideast peace needs EU - by Joe Remick

Vienna/Brussels. An Austrian member of the European parliament has said Europe should take a more active role in the Middle East. A member of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Hannes Swoboda is also deputy of the body’s delegation to the Palestinian council. "In light of the failure of the United States in the Middle East and its uncritical acceptance of Israel’s interventions in Lebanon and Gaza, Europe must take a clear position. This requires a common foreign policy”, Swoboda said. The Social Democrat declared that, "it is shameful enough that EU member states sent troops to the Iraq war, but it is equally dismal that the EU is unable to motivate the US towards adopting a more even-handed role in the Middle East”.

The MEP also feels Austria could play a more proactive position and called on Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik to "speak out against aggression and for a long-term peace in both Lebanon and the Palestinian territories”.

IHT: EU divisions harden on Lebanon options - by Judy Dempsey


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EU divisions harden on Lebanon options - by Judy Dempsey

srael's airstrike on the Lebanese village of Qana, which killed dozens of people, including many children, appears to have cemented the divisions in Europe between countries led by France, which wants an immediate cease-fire, and Britain, which is standing by the United States as it calls for a truce only when it is sustainable. In France, President Jacques Chirac said he condemned "this unjustified action, which demonstrates more than ever the need for an immediate cease- fire without which there will only by other such incidents." The divisions are expected to sharpen Tuesday when foreign ministers of European Union member countries hold an emergency meeting. There is growing skepticism among Europeans about supporting a multi-national peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon unless there is a durable cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

France has already drawn up a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire to prepare for the deployment of an international force. France, which has close cultural and political ties with Lebanon, is expected to play a major role in any peacekeeping force, but only under a strong mandate and with support from countries in the region.

RIA Novosti - Russia - Russian pipeline breach threatens environmental catastrophe


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Russia - Russian pipeline breach threatens environmental catastrophe

MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) - An oil leak from the Russian section of a pipeline near the Belarusian border threatens an environmental catastrophe in the region, the Natural Resources Ministry said Monday. Sunday's accident on the Druzhba (Friendship) oil pipeline, which runs from Russia to central Europe and is controlled by Russia's state-owned pipeline monopoly Transneft, caused a spillage and pollution over an area of ten square kilometers, including forests and water facilities, in the Bryansk Region.

The ministry said it had formed a commission to investigate the causes and circumstances of the accident.

7/30/06

Editor&Publisher: Press Overlooks U.S. Role as Arms Merchant in Mideast Conflict - by Greg Mitchell


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Press Overlooks U.S. Role as Arms Merchant in Mideast Conflict - by Greg Mitchell

For better or worse, the U.S. has a special role in the current conflict as supplier of the best weapons money can buy to one side. Yet the media nearly always underplays this angle, even though it has enormous consequences, not just for those under fire in Lebanon but by readersmat home.

This weekend large numbers of US weapons have were shipped to Israel from the US.

EUROMED: Declaration about the situation in Lebanon and Gaza


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Declaration about the situation in Lebanon and Gaza

The Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform expressed in its meeting in 12 & 13 July, 2006 in Paris, its deepest concern regarding the current situation in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, in particular the Gaza Strip. Already under siege for several months, the population of Gaza is undergoing perpetrated destruction of civil infrastructure, as well as, growing human losses. The arbitrary arrest of members of the Palestinian government and parliament, all elected in a democratic process, confirms that the security reasons proposed by the Israeli government are only pretexts.

The Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions which are a striking violation of International Law, in particular the Geneva Convention, and can only lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, and most of all, turn any peace perspective out of reach.

Guardian Unlimited: War and other funny business


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War and other funny business

On top of the daily horrors we are witnessing in Iraq and Lebanon, it is not funny when Saudi Arabia's normally guarded King Abdullah warns that, should peace moves fail, the Middle East could be engulfed in a 'conflict that would spare no one'. Nor does it bode well for the world economy when that highly informed and much-respected expert on the Middle East, Prince Hassan of Jordan, warns that the price of oil, which has already trebled during this decade to about $75 a barrel, could reach $200 if a solution isn't found to the present conflict.If the Middle East situation fulfils the worst fears of Prince Hassan, then our policy-makers may face the kind of challenges they thought had disappeared into history. And, by pure chance, the airwaves are now replete with anniversary references to the Suez crisis of 50 years ago - itself sparked off by concern about oil supplies.

Reuters: Not welcome in Lebanon, Rice heads back to US Monday


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Not welcome in Lebanon, Rice heads back to US Monday

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he did not want her to come to his country for planned meetings on Sunday, saying that after Israel's air strike, he could not hold any talks on resolving the crisis before an immediate ceasefire.

Rice's renewed push to end fighting between Israel and Hizbollah was derailed by the bombing in southern Lebanon, which killed at least 54 people sheltering in a basement, 37 of them children. "In the wake of the tragedy that the people and the government of Lebanon are dealing with today, I have decided to postpone my discussions in Beirut. In any case, my work is here (in Israel) today," Rice told reporters of the canceled Beirut trip.

Israel suspended air strikes in south Lebanon for 48 hours while it investigates the Qana bombings, which killed dozens of Lebanese women and children, US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.

nzherald.co.nz: EU sidelined again as US calls the shots - by Catherine Field


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EU sidelined again as US calls the shots - by Catherine Field

European analysts fear the United States is playing a dangerous game by sidelining the European Union's push for a diplomatic solution to the Lebanon crisis. The outcome of a United Nations conference in Rome, where the US blocked European attempts to add the word "immediate" to a call for a ceasefire, has prompted many to conclude the White House has given Israel carte blanche to act against Hizbollah.
The civilian death toll in Lebanon from the Israeli strikes is more than 400 and the economic bill is in the billions of dollars.

The Peninsula On-line: It’s Europe’s moment in Middle East - by Harold Meyerson


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It’s Europe’s moment in the Middle East - by Harold Meyerson

In the Middle East, it is suddenly the European moment. Israel knows it cannot eliminate Hezbollah through force of arms, and it has realised that occupying hostile terrain is too much of a drain on its physical, political and moral resources. Reversing long-standing policy, it now is calling for an international force to secure its borders. But which nations’ troops should make up that force? The United States, even if it weren’t bogged down in Iraq, is too closely identified with Israel. The Sunni Arab states that might conceivably step forward — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia — would risk an eruption of rage in their streets, and their intervention could also move the entire region closer to a Sunni-Shiite conflagration. All this puts the ball squarely in Europe’s court. And if Europe wants to be taken seriously on the world stage, this is an opportunity it should welcome. The nations of Western Europe, after all, have long, and rightly, called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. They have worked for a peaceful, bi-national settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

European intervention in southern Lebanon would entail casualties and political risks. But a failure to intervene would undermine every policy goal that Western European nations have for the Middle East, and strengthen the hand of the Cheney-Rumsfeld hawks who believe that American military might is the only solution for the planet’s distempers. For Europe, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time. With the Middle East descending into deeper and deeper cycles of violence, one thing we surely don’t need is a Europe guided by the spirit of Neville Chamberlain.

ThugLifeArmy.com: Keeping The Legacy Alive - by Robert

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Keeping The Legacy Alive - by Robert

The ‘war’ that Israel is waging against Hizbullah (Hezbollah) and their killing of innocent Lebanese civilians seems to be escalating beyond ‘defense’ and is turning into war crimes. How does Israel support itself? How do they pay for all these weapons they are using to invade a sovereign nations space? I see American made war planes, M-16 (American) small arms and other western war technology being used to commit genocide on those who are not Jewish.
Roughly half of the government of Israel’s external debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid.

Israel is an Economic aid recipient of: $662 million from U.S. (2003 est.)

Afghan NATO mission will test European resolve - Turkish Daily News Jul 30, 2006


Turkish Daily News Jul 30, 2006

"Afghan NATO mission will test European resolve
Sunday, July 30, 2006

MARK JOHN

BRUSSELS - Reuters

NATO faces an uphill battle to bring security to violent southern Afghanistan and analysts question whether the transatlantic alliance is fully prepared for what will be the first true ground war in its history.

The handover of military operations there from the U.S.-led coalition to NATO scheduled around July 31 will bring European soldiers into the thick of a battle against hardened al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents fighting in their heartlands."

Sunday Herald: Revealed: Ireland blocked Prestwick US bomb flights for Israel - by Torcuil Crichton and Paul Hutcheon


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Revealed: Ireland blocked Prestwick US bomb flights for Israel - by Torcuil Crichton and Paul Hutcheon

Two Israeli-bound cargo planes with US bombs that were expected to refuel at Prestwick Airport last night contained deadly, high-density uranium warheads which represent a serious safety risk to the airport. The arrival of the bomb cargos at Prestwick has caused a storm of protest, with opposition MPs describing the use of the Scottish airport to re-arm the Israeli offensive in Lebanon as “completely unacceptable”.

Anger over the flights was compounded after it emerged that the Irish government refused to allow the US administration to use Shannon Airport for similar shipments to Israel. Dermot Ahern, the Irish foreign affairs minister, said he would block any attempt by the US to transport arms through his country .

The bunker-buster weapons, thought to be GBU28 bombs, are being supplied by the US to Israel in a bid to assassinate Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and other senior militia officials who may be hidden in tunnel networks in southern Lebanon. The arrival of the first flight yesterday came less than a day after George Bush apologised to Tony Blair over the previous use of Prestwick Airport to refuel two planes carrying bombs to Israel. Each of the 747 cargo aircraft that were due last night at Prestwick could carry up to 40 two-tonne models of the bunker busters or more than 80 one-tonne models of the laser-guided weapons with high-penetration uranium cores that can drive through rock or reinforced concrete before exploding at up to 5000°C.

A spokeswoman for Ahern told the Sunday Herald: “Minister Ahern did say during the week that permission would not be granted if there was an application made to transport munitions of war to the Middle East.”

In the meantime Whitehall sources confirmed that two more U.S. cargo planes carrying laserguided weapons will be given permission to land on British soil over the next couple of weeks.

RIA Novosti - Ukraine roundtable talks to continue Monday


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Ukraine roundtable talks to continue Monday

KIEV, July 29 (RIA Novosti) - Roundtable talks on means of pulling Ukraine out of a four-month political crisis between the president and leaders of parliamentary factions will continue on Monday, the presidential press service said Saturday.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko held roundtable talks Thursday with the leaders of all parliamentary factions, and prominent political and public figures. The parties to the talks are currently harmonizing a final document laying down the principles for forming a new national unity coalition in parliament.

7/29/06

The Post.IE: Boardroom: ECB rise on way


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Boardroom: ECB rise on way

The members of the European Central Bank governing council are usually sunning themselves in some of the more southerly members of the eurozone at this time of year, so the fact that instead they will be dragging along to ECBHQ in Frankfurt this Thursday means another interest-rate rise is in prospect. Nothing in the economic data since the last council meeting will have done anything to dissuade the ECB that another rise is warranted to hold down inflation as growth picks up.

The German economy is still on an up-trend, while some analysts even point to a ‘‘Forza Italy’’ effect in improving the consumer mood in Italy. So another quarter-point rise is likely, bringing the rate to 3 per cent.

Times online: Dutch troops killed in Afghan helicopter crash - by Jenny Booth


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Dutch troops killed in Afghan helicopter crash - by Jenny Booth

A civilian helicopter has crashed in rugged mountain terrain in southeastern Afghanistan killing all 16 people aboard, including two Dutch soldiers. Colonel Tom Collins, a spokesman for US-led coalition forces, said that foreign troops had secured the crash scene and 12 bodies had so far been recovered.The Dutch Defence Ministry said that the two Dutch victims, a lieutenant colonel and a sergeant, were International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) soldiers on a mission to observe the security system at a military camp, to see whether it was adaptable to a camp that Dutch forces are constructing in the southeastern province of Uruzgan.

A Taleban spokesman claimed that militants had shot down the helicopter.

Telegraph: Straw leads revolt against Blair over Israel crisis - by Patrick Hennessy


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Straw leads revolt against Blair over Israel crisis - by Patrick Hennessy

Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, is leading a growing Cabinet revolt against Tony Blair's handling of the Middle East crisis. Mr Straw heaped pressure on the Prime Minister by describing Israeli attacks on Lebanon as "disproportionate" and accusing Israel of escalating an already dangerous situation.But Mr Blair, who is on a five-day visit to the United States, refused to utter any criticism of Israeli aggression and even rewrote a speech to make it clear that he pins the blame for the crisis solely on Hezbollah.

Mr Blair's isolation could bring forward his exit from No 10 - which had been expected in a year. One Cabinet-level source said: "Tony badly needs friends on this - and he hasn't got many."

EU-DIGEST SPECIAL REPORT : CONDITIONS FOR EUROPEAN FORCES TO OPERATE IN LEBANON, PALESTINE AND ISRAEL – by Rick Morren




EU-DIGEST

EU-DIGEST SPECIAL REPORT:CONDITIONS FOR EUROPEAN FORCES TO OPERATE IN LEBANON, PALESTINE AND ISRAEL – by Rick Morren

The above headline might come across as a shock to some because it implies that in this present crises Israel is also part of the problem. Indeed, Israel has to be protected from incursions by Hezbollah and Hamas, but the Palestinians and Lebanese also have to be protected from the Israeli’s. Unfortunately this is the reality of the situation and needs to be addressed before a peace plan can have any reasonable chance of success. It should also be understood that this particular conflict must not be treated as being a part of other conflicts in Middle East.

If Europe participates with an independent force it must make sure to avoid an Iraq style quagmire experienced by the Americans and the British. European Governments which are to supply troops for this military force need to address this issue before our troops set foot in the area. There needs to be a solid mandate, a clear cut plan, a time-frame and an exit strategy. Some of the rules which could be applied include:

1) An immediate cease fire and an embargo on the sale or “donations” of weapons or military equipment to all parties in the conflict.
2) The creation of a buffer-zone. All combating parties need to disarm and move their combatants 15 km’s behind their frontiers creating a buffer zone of 30 km. This buffer-zone must also extend 60 km’s into Mediterranean. The buffer zone must be declared a no-fly-zone
3) A European military force patrolling the buffer-zone must have an independent chain of command without UN, NATO or US interference. The primary UN role should be to facilitate ongoing negotiations between all parties in the conflict.
4) European troops selected for this operation must be well equipped combat forces from the army, navy and air force. They must be able to forcefully overcome any incursions by combating parties either in the buffer zone or on the territories of Lebanon, Israel or Palestine.
5) The military mission must not exceed a two year time-frame and be coupled to an intensive program of direct discussions between all parties in the conflict under the auspices of the UN.

With the number of war casualties and refugees rising daily, not to mention the economic hardship experienced by all parties, the time to act is now.

CBC Sports: Britain: Liverpool soccer team leery of playing in Israel


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Britain: Liverpool soccer team leery of playing in Israel

English soccer club Liverpool wants an upcoming Champions League match with Israeli team Maccabi Haifa to be played on neutral ground.

The two teams were drawn to play one another on Friday by UEFA, European soccer's governing body, but Liverpool is wary of travelling to the troubled area while Israel is fighting Hezbollah.

swissinfo - Hezbollah fires new long-range rocket - by Jonathan Saul


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Hizbollah fires new long-range rocket - by Jonathan Saul

Hezbollah fired scores of rockets into Israel on Friday, including at least one that the Lebanese guerrilla group said was a new long-range missile, wounding at least six people, police said.

The longer-range rocket landed in an open area near the town of Afula, about 50 km (30 miles) from the Lebanese border. It matched the furthest distance that Hezbollah rockets had landed inside Israel since the conflict began on July 12. Hezbollah said it had fired a volley of "Khaibar 1" rockets at Afula, apparently a new type of armament.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said seven rockets landed in the Afula area, two of which had landed inside the town. The other five landed in open areas near Afula, which is about 35 km (22 miles) southeast of Israel's third largest city, Haifa.

IOL: France - All aboard the train of thought - by John Lichfield


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France - All aboard the train of thought - by John Lichfield

France, the country which invented the philosophy café, has just had another smart idea: the train of thought. From this week, passengers who book by Internet on certain long-distance French trains can arrange to sit next to other passengers with similar interests. Would you like to travel from Paris to Marseilles while discussing Nietzsche or football or prospects for next year’s presidential elections? Would you like to exchange 90 minutes of conversation in French, for 90 minutes of conversation in English? Would you like to learn to knit? Or play snap? Or combine forces to defeat diabolical sudoko puzzles?

All possibilities – save one – are open to passengers who pay an extra €1,50 (about R13) to consult the declared interests of passengers already booked on their intended train. The one exception, insisted upon by the surprisingly prudish French national railway system, is that there must be no lonely hearts or erotic proposals. “The mission of the SNCF is not to be a go-between for amorous meetings,” said a spokesperson for the state railways.

7/28/06

BBC NEWS: Norway 'Nazi cartoon' irks Israel


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Norway 'Nazi cartoon' irks Israel

Israel's ambassador to Norway has complained to press regulators about a cartoon showing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as a Nazi concentration camp commander. Miryam Shomrat told the BBC the caricature in Oslo's Dagbladet newspaper went beyond free speech.

Ms Shomrat said it would be open to prosecution in some European countries.

Infoshop News - Israeli propaganda backed by army of cyber-soldiers - by Arch Stanton


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Israeli propaganda backed by army of cyber-soldiers - by Arch Stanton

In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone” software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints. A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate. Jonny Cline, of the international student group, said that Jewish students and youth groups with their understanding of the web environment were ideally placed to present another side to the debate. “We’re saying to these people that if Israel is being bashed, don’t ignore it, change it,” Mr Cline said. “A poll like CNN’s takes just a few seconds to vote in, but if thousands take part the outcome will be changed. What’s vital is that the international face of the conflict is balanced.”

Doron Barkat, 29, in Jerusalem, spends long nights trawling the web to try to swing the debate Israel’s way. “When I see internet polls for or against Israel I send out a mailing list to vote for Israel,” he said. “It can be that after 15 minutes there will be 400 votes for Israel.

srael’s Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.

Guardian Unlimited: Europe must lead the search for peace in the Middle East - by Paddy Ashdown



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Europe must lead the search for peace in the Middle East - by Paddy Ashdown

The world is right to get nervous when the US is frustrated and Israel faces defeat. The EU needs to go its own way.

A ceasefire without the ingredients of a lasting peace and a willingness by both sides to observe it would place any intervening international force in an equally impossible position. If it were weak it would very quickly be turned into another Unprofor. If it were strong it would soon become an occupying force standing between the combatants and the war aims they had not yet forsaken.You can make peace only by talking to the other side. Would this mean a solution to Palestine? Of course it must, for this is the burning coal that lies at the heart of the fire. Would this be unwelcome in Washington at the moment? Probably. But not if, in the end, it provides a way out of the impasse in which they find themselves. Would this mean Europe embarking on its own course? Yes - but this is the right time to do it.

Europe's strategy now should be to widen the peace.

Eurasia Daily: KAZAKHSTAN EYES LATVIA AS GATEWAY TO EUROPEAN OIL MARKETS - by Marat Yermukanov

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KAZAKHSTAN EYES LATVIA AS GATEWAY TO EUROPEAN OIL MARKETS - by Marat Yermukanov

When Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Riga on July 18, the overriding topic of discussion was how best to send Kazakh oil to energy-hungry markets in Europe and Scandinavian via Latvia. Nazarbayev did his best to give the impression of a pragmatic leader unburdened by the political strains caused by the long-standing disputes between his closest ally -- Moscow -- and West European powers over energy issues. His time in Riga provided an impressive display of his multi-vector approach to interstate relations. Answering questions from Latvian journalists, Nazarbayev stressed that Kazakhstan has no intention of constructing a transportation route to deliver its hydrocarbons to Europe that would bypass Russia, and he noted that his country is quite satisfied with the present level of cooperation with Moscow, regarding the use of Russian pipelines for oil shipments. At the same time, he added, “We will look for other possibilities if these [Russian] routes do not satisfy us”

The EU Must Act in Lebanon

"Euro Fighters patrol the sky"


motherjones.com

"The EU Must Act in Lebanon

Commentary: Can the European Union muster the will to stop the fighting in the Middle East?

By Michael Shtender-Auerbach

July 28, 2006
Article created by The Century Foundation.

The international conference in Rome on July 26 offered hope that a consensus could be reached on a plan that would end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. But the conference ended without a resolution, and the members of the European Union are scrambling to salvage their first diplomatic attempt to end the current crisis. The European Union should not be discouraged; it is capable of conducting a pro-active foreign policy and has the ability to commit the necessary financial, diplomatic, and military resources to bring stability and peace to the region. The European Union must act decisively as a counterbalance to U.S. unilateralism by proposing a European solution to the current crisis. "

EUobserver.com:EU says Israel "totally wrong" on ceasefire message - by Lucia Kubosova


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EU says Israel "totally wrong" on ceasefire message - by Lucia Kubosova

The Finnish presidency of the EU has denied giving Israel a green light to continue its operations in Lebanon and suggested that Jerusalem's interpretation of Wednesday's international crisis talks in Rome was "totally wrong." The strong message from Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja came after Israel's justice minister Haim Ramon said that divisions among world leaders meeting in Rome could be seen as "permission" to continue its offensive. Mr Tuomioja met Israel's top officials on Thursday (27 July) and is due to travel to Beirut on Friday. His protest against Jerusalem's misinterpretation of the Rome conference conclusions was echoed by Berlin and Rome.

Italian prime minister Romano Prodi pointed out that "The position expressed by the conference cannot be interpreted as an authorisation."

Cafe Babel: Europe and the Middle East: brothers in arms


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Europe and the Middle East: brothers in arms

Though European governments have been quick to criticize the escalation of violence in the Middle-East, the EU still sells weapons to Israel and Lebanon. Europe needs to strengthen its arms trade Code of Conduct

Hundreds of people have already died in the current military confrontation between Israel and Lebanon to the great consternation of EU citizens. And yet, for several years, EU states have approved arms exports to Israel and neighbouring countries - despite concerns that these may lead to regional instability and human rights abuses. The publicly available data from the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Division (Comtrade), as well as states’ annual export reports, show that several EU governments have licensed the export of conventional weapons, machineguns, bombs and military rifles to the region.

Expatica: Europe's biggest rock fest opens in Poland


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Europe's biggest rock fest opens in Poland

WARSAW/KOSTRZYN - More than 50,000 Polish rock fans converged on Kostrzyn on Poland's border withGermany Friday and tens of thousands more were expected for a weekend of rock n' roll at what has become Europe's largest summer open-air music festival. Harking back to the 1969 hippie-era "peace and love" Woodstock festival in New York state, Poland's Woodstock Station has promoted the philosophy of "Love!, Friendship! Music!" since its inception in 1995.

Its critics, including Roman Catholic youth groups, argue the festival has more in common with the sinister "sex, drugs and rock n' roll" overdose ethos which plagued youth culture during the 1960s.

The EU must act

EUobserver.com

"The EU must act
28.07.2006 - 14:31 CET | By Michael Shtender-Auerbach
EUOBSERVER / COMMENT - The international conference in Rome on July 26 offered hope that a consensus could be reached on a plan that would end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

But the conference ended without a resolution, and the members of the European Union are scrambling to salvage their first diplomatic attempt to end the current crisis.

The EU should not be discouraged; it is capable of conducting a pro-active foreign policy and has the ability to commit the necessary financial, diplomatic, and military resources to bring stability and peace to the region. The EU must act decisively as a counterbalance to US unilateralism by proposing a European solution to the current crisis."

7/27/06

Eurobarometer: EU enlargement support decreases


Makfax vesnik

"Eurobarometer: EU enlargement support decreases

Brussels /27.07/ 14:26

Support to further enlargement of the European Union decreased, according to latest survey conducted by Eurobarometer.

The survey shows significant increases in opposition, accompanied by significant decreases in support among EU member-states. The percentage of those against rose to 42 compared to 49 percent in autumn 2005 survey.

In comparison to the results obtained in the autumn 2005 survey, support for further enlargement of the EU is now less widespread (45%) and opposition has increased (42). Consequently, the gap between supporters and opponents is now very small - 3 points versus 10 points in autumn 2005."

globeandmail.com/bloomberg : EU official takes U.S. to task over WTO divide

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GENEVA -- European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the United States has to take a "hard, fundamental look" at what it can do to cut farm subsidies and revive World Trade Organization talks that collapsed this week.

Mr. Mandelson said that U.S. unwillingness to make any new offer in cuts to spending on its farmers led Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO, to suspend the five-year-old talks aimed at dismantling market barriers and stimulating global economic growth. "The U.S. has to take a hard, fundamental look in the whole agricultural area of what they're prepared to put in for the very large demands they are placing" on others, Mr. Mandelson said yesterday. "It isn't a spat" between the EU and United States, Mr. Mandelson said of the disagreements with the United States, over who is to blame. "If it was only a spat, it would be less fundamental."

Chicago Tribune: They're 100% American, and pro-Hezbollah - by E.A. Torriero


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They're 100% American, and pro-Hezbollah: U.S. scrutiny resented in Dearborn - by E.A. Torriero

On the streets of Dearborn, Hezbollah is not seen as a terrorist group but as a heroic resistance force. Residents say the group led the "freedom fight" in Lebanon during 18 years of Israeli occupation. Without the diligence and sacrifice of Hezbollah, people here say they would not have been able to return every summer to show their children their hillside villages and share their ancestral heritage. Hezbollah also provides social services and education for their relatives in Lebanon who are too poor to afford them.

For additional information on the situation in Lebanon also see THE COUNCIL OF LEBANESE AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS website at http://www.clao.us/index.html

The Star/Canada: Big mission, few takers


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"Big mission, few takers
Rice's diplomatic scorecard is grim after Italy summit
Pessimism grows over U.S. ability to forge peace
Jul. 27, 2006. 01:08 AM
TIM HARPER
WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON—An international force in south Lebanon? A great idea decidedly short on volunteers.

A ceasefire? Urgently needed, but not right away.

A disarmed Hezbollah? A prerequisite, with no one publicly working toward that end."

Bloomberg.com: World Bank Says Turkey Less Corrupt Than Many in Eastern Europe


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"World Bank Says Turkey Less Corrupt Than Many in Eastern Europe

July 27 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey's efforts to meet European Union membership criteria have helped rein in graft, especially in the courts, making the country less corrupt than many countries in eastern Europe, a World Bank report said.

Government policy changes, including tougher auditing and rules on disclosure, are reasons for the drop in corruption between 2002 and 2005, the World Bank said in the report, which included interviews with almost 10,000 companies in 27 countries in central and eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union."

Cyprus Mail: France in military talks with EU Partner Cyprus - will the French start supporting Lebanon from Cyprus? - by Jean Christou


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"France in military talks with EU Partner Cyprus - will the French start supporting Lebanon from Cyprus?
By Jean Christou

CYPRUS AND France are close to signing a bilateral military agreement that would involve cooperation in a number of areas, including use by the French of the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos.

Technical details are still being worked out between the two governments. The issue was part of discussions held on Sunday between French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and President Tassos Papadopoulos when she visited the island with a message from French President Jacques Chirac.

Final details are expected to be worked out by the autumn when the Defence and Foreign Ministers of both countries will likely sign jointly. However the final draft must first be studied by the legal services in both countries in cooperation with their respective foreign ministries.

The military cooperation agreement is set to include use of military facilities, technical support, and education and training of national guardsmen in France.

It could also include joint military exercises, according to an official source close to the talks. “But there is still some technical work to be done before the agreement can be signed,” said the source."

Businessweek: Would $100 Oil Slam the Global Economy? by Stanley Reed


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Would $100 Oil Slam the Global Economy? by Stanley Reed

Analysts say most of the world's economies could weather the steeper price fairly well. But it could help put the brakes on U.S. " but probably not EU growth." Economists have been surprised how little the current high price of oil has damaged the U.S. and world economies. After all, prices have already soared by 300% since 1999, yet nearly all regions of the world continue to chug along. That's a big contrast to the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s, which sent economies into major funks.ndeed, the key difference today from the supply-driven oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s is that the current price boom is mostly driven from the demand side, thanks to a powerful cocktail of global economic forces. Emerging markets, including China and other Asian countries as well as the Middle East, are coming into their own as major energy consumers.

Europe would most likely be the best buffered from price increases. For one thing, the strong euro takes some of the sting out of rises in the price of oil, which is sold in dollars. European industrial countries such as Germany also are highly efficient in energy use—even more so than the U.S. And much of the energy they consume comes from natural gas and nuclear energy, where long-term contracts dampen sharp swings in oil prices. Moreover, taxes on fuels such as gasoline are so high in Europe that price increases in crude aren't felt as much by consumers as in the U.S. Europeans already shell out in the range of $7 to $8 per gallon for gasoline—higher than U.S. drivers would pay even if oil topped $100 a barrel.

7/26/06

International Relations Center: Who's Arming Israel? by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung


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Who's Arming Israel? by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung

Israel is one of the United States' largest arms importers. Between 1996 and 2005 (the last year for which full data is available), Israel took delivery of $10.19 billion in U.S. weaponry and military equipment, including more than $8.58 billion through the Foreign Military Sales program, and another $1.61 billion in Direct Commercial Sales. During the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing—the Pentagon's biggest military aid program—and $6.3 billion in U.S. arms deliveries. The aid figure is larger than the arms transfer figure because it includes financing for major arms agreements for which the equipment has yet to be fully delivered. The most prominent of these deals is a $4.5 billion sale of 102 Lockheed Martin F-16s to Israel.

Given the billions of dollars of aid it provides to Israel every year and the central role of U.S.-supplied weaponry in the Israeli arsenal, the United States has considerable leverage that it could use to promote a cease fire in the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah before more Israeli and Lebanese civilians are killed and displaced. President Bush needs to go beyond vague calls for “restraint” to demands for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, bringing in other key actors in the region, including Iran and Syria.

Over the past decade, the United States has transferred more than $17 billion in military aid to this country of just under 7 million people.

American Economic Alert: Growing Imbalances in the "Global Economy" Threaten to Sink All Boats - by Alan Tonelson



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Growing Imbalances in the "Global Economy" Threaten to Sink All Boats - by Alan Tonelson

One of the bedrock insights of modern economics is that there are no free lunches. Even with the most creative financial innovations, production and consumption must be kept in some sustainable balance. Recent globalization policies, and especially the outsourcing trade deals at their core, have held out to multinationals and their apologists in academia and public policy one of the most seductive free lunch promises of all time – of a world in which all the workers would continue to consume like Americans, but increasingly get paid like Chinese or Indians.

The concocting and pursuit of this fairy tale by the economic establishment has pushed the world far into uncharted policy waters and exposed it to frightful dangers. It is all too clear that the massive act of common sense needed to restore balance will have to originate outside its ranks.

New Straits Times - Lebanese Humanitarian Crises: US, Israel and Britain oppose immediate cessation of hostilities at Rome meeting


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Lebanese humanitarian crises: US, Israel and Britain oppose immediate cessation of hostilities at Rome meeting

In an interview with Le Monde, French President Jacques Chirac proposed international peacekeepers could secure Lebanon's borders with Israel and Syria but he rejected NATO participation, saying its troops could be perceived "as the armed wing of the West in the region". Chirac also took a swipe at Syria, saying the regime was "at odds with security and peace," and he accused Iran of being partly responsible for the Middle East conflict. "Information we have proves that sophisticated weapons and financing are sent by Iran, via Syria in all probability, to Hezbollah. It's a problem," Chirac said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire backed by many of Washington's European and Arab allies, saying the conditions are not in place and insisting the conflict can be resolved only by addressing its root causes. The view is shared by Britain, whose primary aim at the conference is to "find a way of addressing the terrible humanitarian plight that the Lebanese people find themselves in," a Foreign Office spokesman told journalists.

Most countries at the conference have backed the idea of a buffer force, but there are differences over its composition and the conditions under which it should be deployed. "Most EU nations are in agreement that Israel should not be put in charge of the bufferzone. "The force occupying the security zone, must have robust rules of engagement, to police the buffer zone, disarm militias and stop Israeli incursions into Lebanon if necessary."

Pure Networks Launches European Home Networking Solution; Announces Strategic Partnership With IP Globalnet

Pure Networks Launches European Home Networking Solution; Announces Strategic Partnership With IP Globalnet: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

"Pure Networks Launches European Home Networking Solution; Announces Strategic Partnership With IP Globalnet
Wednesday July 26, 8:00 am ET

TopCom and Cable 1 Connections and Networks, the First Companies to Adopt and Distribute Pure Networks' Network Magic to Help Consumers Solve Home Networking Issues
Network Magic and Router Setup Wizard Available in Twenty Languages

SEATTLE and BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Pure Networks, the leading software supplier of home networking software, announced today an important step toward helping consumers all over Europe solve the hassles of home networking. Through a partnership with IP Globalnet, hardware manufacturers and service providers across Europe can tap into local language versions of Pure Networks' home networking software, Network Magic, and router set up wizards to help their customers enjoy their home networks. Working with IP Globalnet, companies may license Network Magic for distribution to their consumers. Already two companies, TopCom and Cable 1 have joined the program and are using Network Magic to help their consumers solve home networking challenges."

USNews.com: More Fallout From That Growing Mess in the Mideast

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More Fallout From That Growing Mess in the Mideast

The crisis in Lebanon and Israel is undermining one of the main rationales for George W. Bush's foreign policy--that the war in Iraq would result in a peaceful, more stable Middle East. And rising concerns about Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran--not to mention North Korea--are shaking Americans' confidence in the president's leadership. Conservatives, neo- and otherwise, are fuming over Bush's newfound multilateral approach to international problems. The result: Pollsters say both Democrats and Republicans are increasingly worried that Bush has lost his earlier reputation as a strong leader who got things done.

The image of the president as increasingly ineffectual is also spreading to domestic affairs. Bush's refrain that the economy is soaring is accurate, as far as it goes. Productivity and job growth have been impressive. But Bush seems powerless to change the fact that many working Americans haven't seen much of a boost in their incomes during his administration, while the wealthy have enjoyed double-digit increases. The lack of income growth is one reason why the rise in gas prices and the high cost of healthcare have caused such insecurity in the middle class. Democratic focus groups have found rising anger about the income-hike disparity, leading their strategists to think the economy will be a great issue for the midterm elections this fall.

7/25/06

EUROPEAN UNION: RIGID STANCE BY US MAKES BREAKDOWN AND SUSPENSION OF WTO DOHA NEGOTIATIONS INEVITABLE



EUROPEAn UNION PRESS RELEASE

RIGID STANCE BY US MAKES BREAKDOWN AND SUSPENSION OF WTO DOHA NEGOTIATIONS INEVITABLE

Reacting to the unfortunate turn of events, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson expressed the EU's "profound disappointment and sadness... that the world trade talks are having to be suspended. This is neither desirable nor inevitable. It could so easily have been avoided.

In contrast to the US, the EU had used the meeting to reiterate its offer to improve access significantly to its agricultural market by slashing tariffs by an average of 50% if the US and others were willing to bear their fair share of the burden, in the US's case on farm subsidies. This was in addition to the EU's existing offer to eliminate 100% of its export subsidies and cutting trade-distorting domestic support by 75%.

IOL: France will give residency to 6 000 illegals - by Francois Murphy


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France will give residency to 6 000 illegals - by Francois Murphy

Paris - France will grant residency permits to roughly 6 000 illegal immigrants but expel more than twice as many under controversial new immigration rules, its interior minister said on Monday.

Nicolas Sarkozy, conservative front-runner for next year's presidential election, tightened residency rules after poor suburbs, many of them home to descendants of immigrants, erupted last year in a wave of rioting that shocked France.

Reuters.com: U.S. wants to deal "aggressively" with Kurdish PKK


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U.S. wants to deal "aggressively" with Kurdish PKK

President George W. Bush told Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan that the United States wants to deal more aggressively with cross-border attacks by Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, the White House said on Tuesday.Several thousand members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, are believed to be hiding in the mountains of mainly Kurdish northern Iraq, from where they slip across the border to attack Turkish police, troops and other targets. Turkey blames the PKK for more than 30,000 deaths since the start of its campaign for a Kurdish homeland in 1984.

Diplomats say Turkey is frustrated that the United States accepts Israel's right to launch attacks against its enemies over the border in Lebanon while remaining opposed to Ankara taking unilateral action against the PKK in Iraq. The United States, like Turkey and the European Union, views the PKK as a terrorist organization but says broader security problems in Iraq prevent the kind of full-scale military crackdown on the group that Ankara demands.

Songs For Europe

EURSOC

"Songs For Europe

By EURSOC Two
25 July, 2006

The Sunday Telegraph reports that EU Commission propagandists want to hijack next year's Eurovision Song Contest - making it a celebration of the European Union's 50th anniversary.

The scheme apparently emanates from the desk of Margot Wallstrom, chief of the commission's communications strategy. The newspaper quotes Ms Wallstrom's memo enthusing that a song contest - birthday celebration would highlight 'the need of close co-operation in our common project', 'solidarity' and 'the benefits that European integration has brought to its citizens'.

Eursoc reported in June that plans were afoot to make next year's anniversary a memorable one: A Eurovision-style contest 'to show Europe can dance' was one of the proposals, along with cake-baking competitions and a special 'commissioner's day' celebration."

European youth to embark on bicycle tour to protest against nuclear weapons in Europe - Irna

Irna

"European youth to embark on bicycle tour to protest against nuclear weapons in Europe
Brussels, July 25, IRNA

Belgium-Nuclear arms-Protest
About 60 young people from 15 European countries will start a bicycle tour in the Belgian city of Ypres next week on August 2 to mark the 61st anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and demand a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.

They will end their tour on August 9 with a blockade of the main entrance of the NATO base of Kleine Brogel in Belgium.

The NATO airforce base is suspected to host 20 US nuclear bombs with a potential lethal power of almost 200 times the Hiroshima bomb which killed 140.000 people by the end of 1945, said the Belgian peace group 'Mother Earth', one of the main organizers of the event, in a statement."

SeattlePI: Sectarian divisions deepening in Lebanon - by Hamza Hendawi

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Sectarian divisions deepening in Lebanon - by Hamza Hendawi

Lebanon -- The fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has deepened Lebanon's sectarian divisions, threatening to shatter the fragile peace in a country still haunted by civil war. Hezbollah's opponents widely blame the Shiite guerrilla group for dragging Lebanon into a ruinous war with its July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. In the future they are sure to be more aggressive dealing with a group that has been nearly autonomous in southern Lebanon.

But the latest hostilities have brought to forefront the question of disarming Hezbollah, an explosive problem that could not be resolved in months of talks among Lebanese politicians this year. "What comes after the war will be more dangerous than the war itself," said Rafik Khoury, co-editor-in-chief of Al-Anwar daily. "Certainly, there are fears of another civil war, but the conditions conducive for such a war don't exist now."

EUobserver.com: Drinking tells us something about Europe - by Richard Laming


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Drinking tells us something about Europe - by Richard Laming

The consumption of alcohol is something that both unites and divides Europe, with important political consequences as we shall see. Alcoholic drinks are part of our culture, but also part of our economy.

Think about all the different national rituals that centre on drinking. Practically the first words you learn in a new language are cheers, prosit, or skål.In fact, Europeans drink more than people elsewhere. The average European gets through about 9 litres of pure alcohol per year, compared with less than 7 in America or less than 4 in China.

Indeed, every country has its own traditional drinks, from whisky to slivovitz, grappa to vodka. And European wines are defined by the region they come from, whereas new world wines are defined by the grapes they are made from. The wine is a product of the very land itself. But this is where it starts to get difficult.

7/24/06

Guardian Unlimited: EU reaches deal on stem cell research - by Nicholas Watt

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EU reaches deal on stem cell research - by Nicholas Watt

European Union science ministers reached a "historic" compromise this afternoon on the highly charged issue of research into stem cells from human embryos.

At the end of a passionate debate, which pitted liberal and conservative countries against each other, Germany dropped its objections and threw its weight behind the compromise. This will allow individual member states to continue to spend money from the EU's £37bn science budget on research into human embryonic stem cells.

IHT: Is the beach party over for the 'Florida of Europe'? by Dale Fuchs

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Is the beach party over for the 'Florida of Europe'? by Dale Fuchs

The signs at the Málaga airport say it all. "England is closer than you think," reads an airline banner advertising one-way air fares of €55. "Come and see us, we speak YOUR language," urges the billboard on a real estate agency kiosk planted in front of the baggage carrousel.

About 600,000 EU citizens are officially listed as permanent Spanish residents - one of the largest intra-EU migrations on record. Roughly 1.7 million - mostly Germans and British - own a second home in Spain, according to Live in Spain, an association of Spanish residential developers.But after building at fever pitch over the past 10 years, the beach party seems to be winding down. Property prices on the Spanish coast are losing momentum, growing now by only 5 percent to 10 percent a year.

BBC NEWS: Europe blames US for WTO failure

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Europe blames US for WTO failure

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has blamed the US for the collapse of the latest round of global trade talks. US conditions attached to cutting farming subsidies were "unacceptable" for developing countries, he said. But the US said it was "fully committed" to the talks and blamed Europe for its lack of ambition over reaching a deal to cut farming tariffs.

IHT: EU pollution plan turns into 'playground' - by Mathew Carr and Saijel Kishan

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EU pollution plan turns into 'playground' - by Mathew Carr and Saijel Kishan

When European Union officials created a market for trading pollution credits, they boasted that it was a "cost-conscious way" to save the planet from global warming. Five years later, the 25-country EU is failing to meet the Kyoto Protocol's carbon dioxide emission standards. Rather than help protect the environment, the trading system has led to increases in electricity prices of more than 50 percent and record profits for RWE and other utilities.

"I don't suppose the environment has noticed the European emissions trading scheme," said William Blyth, director of Oxford Energy Associates in Oxford, England, and a former International Energy Agency official who advises businesses on energy and climate change policy. The utilities and emissions traders, in contrast, "have done very well."

Khaleej Times Online - How flourishing Beirut, Lebanon have been deflowered overnight - by Mohammed A. R. Galadari

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How flourishing Beirut, Lebanon have been deflowered overnight - by Mohammed A. R. Galadari

FINALLY, Condoleeza Rice has ‘rushed’ to Middle East. Well, the US secretary of state decided to come visit only 11 days after the tragedy hit Lebanon. No one would have ever thought Beirut and Lebanon would be destroyed overnight like this.

Deutsche Welle: Europe Enjoys Brief Respite Before New Heat Wave Hits

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Europe Enjoys Brief Respite Before New Heat Wave Hits

Europe sizzled and soaked alternately over the weekend as a deadly heat wave broke down into storms over parts of the continent amid warnings that temperatures would peak again.

Forecasters warned that the present relief, welcome after Wednesday -- which saw the hottest July day on record -- was likely to be followed by another heat wave next week.

7/23/06

Tories need to do more than pick on EU

The Japan Times Online

"Tories need to do more than pick on EU

By GLYN FORD
Special to The Japan Times

BRUSSELS -- All the focus groups in Britain demonstrate that people do not care about Europe. Or at least they certainly don't treat it as a priority. The economy, health and education, as well as quality of life and security issues, con- sistently rate higher. Yet David Cameron's Tories are still falling into the trap of talking about Europe long before expanding on their other policies.

During the leadership election, Cameron barely mentioned policy except to reassure rightwing Euroskeptics that under his leadership the Conservative Party would finally withdraw from the largest political group in the European Parliament, the center-right pro-European Christian Democrats, and become central to the formation of a new rightwing Euroskeptic grouping."

News.com.au: EU peacekeepers could be going to Lebanon-

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EU peacekeepers could be going to Lebanon

ISRAELI Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said overnight that his government would accept a peacekeeping force in Lebanon "made up of troops from European Union countries". "Israel is ready to see deployment of a force with military capabilities and combat experience made up of troops from European Union countries once its mandate has been fixed," Mr Olmert said during talks with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The mandate "will have to include control of the border crossings between Syria and Lebanon, deployment in south Lebanon and support for the Lebanese army", he said.

Pious Europe

DIE WELT.de Blogs - The Free West

"Pious Europe

'The Union condemns violence in all its forms'. Physical violence is inherent in the term itself, so 'violence in all its forms' must refer to items such as cruelty, oppression and intimidation. Anyone thinking of coming to Europe must imagine they're about to enter some kind of pacifist Utopia. 'The Union condemns' even sounds a little too aggressive for such a benevolent society. You can almost see the author of the press communique wincing at the thought of having to use such strong language."

The Peninsula On-line: LTTE rejects Swedish call on EU monitors

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LTTE rejects Swedish call on EU monitors

COLOMBO • Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels yesterday rejected a call from Sweden to reconsider a September 1 deadline for truce monitors from European Union member states to quit, a pro-rebel website said. The Tamilnet.com website said Tigers told a visiting Swedish envoy that ceasefire monitors from EU member states Denmark, Finland and Sweden, which in May outlawed the Tigers, will have to quit by the deadline set by the rebels.

“There is no change in the stand of the Liberation Tigers, expressed in the post-EU ban scenario, with regards to the engagement of EU member states (in truce monitoring),” the Tamilnet quoted Tiger political chief S P Thamilselvan as saying.

Sunday Times: Albania: The land that time forgot - Sunday Times - by AA.Gill

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Albania: The land that time forgot - Sunday Times - by AA.Gill

It was a communist state for nearly half a a century. Now it has organised crime and the worst-dressed teenagers in Europe. Will the world ever take Albania seriously?
In the unlikely event of your ever needing to know, Tirana’s international airport is called Mother Teresa. It is grimly typical that the Albanians named their runway to the world after a woman who devoted herself to helping people die; and after a Catholic from a country that’s 70% Muslim. Mother Teresa is the only internationally famous Albanian; all the rest are infamous. As you walk across the tarmac, you might notice a couple of planes from Albatros Airways – there is, again, an Albanian inevitability in naming your planes after the only bird that is an international synonym for bad luck, and which doesn’t fly anywhere near the Adriatic anyway. Any sentence with Albania in it is likely to get a laugh. Albania is funny. It’s a punchline, a Gilbert and Sullivan country, a Ruritania of brigands and vendettas and pantomime royalty.

It is a tragic place.

7/22/06

MNC: UK-wide protests over Israeli attacks

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UK-wide protests over Israeli attacks

Protests will be held throughout eleven cities in the UK today increasing pressure on the government to take steps against the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in demonstrations throughout the nation including London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Norwich, Sheffield, Exeter and York. Similar protests are being held throughout the world, with many outside of Israeli embassies.

In the UK, the Stop The War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain are some of the organisers of the action. London's rally will march past the US embassy then continue in Hyde Park.

Counterpunch - Cockburn: Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: : Everything You Need To Know

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Cockburn: Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel : Everything You Need To Know

As the tv networks give unlimited airtime to Israel’s apologists, the message rolls out that no nation, least of all Israel, can permit bombardment or armed incursion across its borders without retaliation. The guiding rule in this tsunami of drivel is that the viewers should be denied the slightest access to any historical context, or indeed to anything that happened prior to June 28, which was when the capture of an Israeli soldier and the killing of two others by Hamas hit the headlines, followed soon thereafter by an attack by a unit of Hezbollah’s fighters.Memory is supposed to stop in its tracks at June 28, 2006.

Israel regrets… But no! Israel doesn’t regret in the least. Most of the time it doesn’t even bother to pretend to regret. It says, “We reserve the right to slaughter Palestinians whenever we want. We reserve the right to assassinate their leaders, crush their homes, steal their water, tear out their olive groves, and when they try to resist we call them terrorists intent on wrecking the ‘peace process’”.Israel regrets… But no! As noted above, it doesn’t regret in the least. Neither does George Bush, nor Condoleezza Rice nor John Bolton who is the moral savage who brings shame on his country each day that he sits as America’s ambassador (unconfirmed) at the UN and who has just told the world that a dead Israel civilian is worth a whole more in terms of moral outrage than a Lebanese one.

A majority of Americans in CNN’s instant poll –- about 55 per cent out of 800,000 as of midday, July 19 -- don’t like what Israel is up to. Dislike is one thing, but at least in the short term it doesn’t help much. Israel’s 1982 attack on Lebanon grew unpopular in the US, after the first few days. But forcing the US to pressure Israel to settle the basic problem takes political courage, and virtually no US politician is prepared to buck the Israel lobby, however many families in Lebanon and Gaza may be sacrificed on the altar of such cowardice.

AP Wire: U.S. threatened with more isolation - by Tom Raum

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WASHINGTON - President Bush's uncompromising support for Israel in its battle with Hezbollah, a stance now backed by Congress, is threatening to isolate the United States even further from the international community. It is also putting the administration at odds with fragile democratic governments in the Middle East that it is simultaneously trying to prop up, and sowing increasing anger across the Arab world. The democratically elected prime ministers of both Iraq and Lebanon have been among the most vocal critics of U.S. policy in the 10-day Israeli bombardment of Lebanon. Some foreign policy analysts question whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can make much headway on her trip to the region early next week - especially given U.S. rejection of international calls for a cease-fire and refusal to talk to key players such as Hezbollah or its Iranian and Syrian sponsors.

News24: Heatwave kills 31 in Europe

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Heatwave kills 31 in Europe

Europeans were urged to stay cool on Friday as a record-breaking heatwave that has melted roads, jangled nerves and killed 31 people across half the continent looked set to last another week.

An updated count brought to 31 the number of people who are believed to have died since the start of the week in western Europe, including two new victims reported in Spain.

The Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said there was a rise of 168 in the number of deaths in the first week of July above the average - which it said was linked to the heatwave.

"This does not mean that these people were killed by the heat. But if someone has a particular cardiovascular or breathing problem, then heat can be a trigger," said CBS researcher Carl Harmsen.

7/21/06

Rosa Brooks. LA Times: Bush's Burned Bridges

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Rosa Brooks. LA Times: Bush's Burned Bridges

The cataclysm in the Middle East represents the final and total failure of the Bush administration's foreign policy. After 9/11, the world was on our side, and we had a unique opportunity to turn tragedy into triumph, to strengthen the alliances and global institutions that have long sustained American preeminence. We wasted that opportunity. We promised to make the world safer, but we've turned it into a tinderbox. We promised to unite our allies, but we've sown rage and division. We promised to promote democracy, but we did so through violent and poorly thought-through "regime change" rather than through diplomacy, friendship and foreign aid. Now Israel, our closest Middle Eastern ally, appears hell-bent on destroying Lebanon — the second most democratic state in the region, which has been struggling successfully to cast off the Syrian yoke.

A year ago, the administration was pledging to support Lebanon's fragile and hard-gained democracy. Today, "the country has been torn to shreds," as Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora bitterly told diplomats. "Is this the price we pay for aspiring to build our democratic institutions?"

ANSA.it - Italy against EU wine reforms

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taly against EU wine reforms

(ANSA) - Rome, July 20 - Italian wine chiefs and producers, meeting for the first time in Rome, came out strongly against European Union proposals to reform the wine sector.

The European Commission has proposed draining the European wine lake by digging up a sixth of European vineyards. It also plans to reduce subsidies to wine producers in favour of other farmers. Negotiations on the EU wine market will start in earnest after the summer .

Reuters: - Further signs emerge of solid Q2 growth in Europe

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Further signs emerge of solid Q2 growth in Europe

PARIS, July 21 (Reuters) - Europe's large economies produced further evidence on Friday of an upturn in the second quarter that should be confirmed by official growth estimates in the next few weeks.

France said household spending rose at its fastest pace in a year in June, lifting expenditure for the April-June period as a whole 1.5 percent, after a 1.2 percent in the previous quarter in the euro zone's second largest economy.

Britain, the first major European economy to produce an estimate of second-quarter GDP, said gross domestic product rose at its fastest clip in two years in the period, up 0.8 percent from the quarter before. Britain trades heavily with the euro zone.

People's Daily Online -- Genghis Khan helped promote European cultural progress

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Genghis Khan helped promote European cultural progress

Genghis Khan, known for rampaging across much of Asia, Europe and the Middle East to create one of the world's greatest empires, also brought along the essence of Asian culture and promoted cultural progress in Europe, Chinese historians say.

"Genghis Khan introduced papermaking and printing technologies to Europe and pioneered cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe," said Prof. Zhu Yaoting, a specialist on Mongolian history at Beijing Union University. "He brought cultural progress that helped liberate the Europeans from the bondage of theology -- in this sense, his expeditions served as catalyst for the Renaissance," he said Thursday at a seminar on Genghis Khan studies held in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Bloomberg.com: China, Russia might be getting ready to switch their position on Iran

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China, Russia might be getting ready to switch their position on Iran

China and Russia may reneging on commitments to demand that Iran stop enriching uranium, a British diplomat said after giving the United Nations Security Council a resolution threatening the Islamic nation with economic penalties for refusing to comply. ``We have seen this happen before with China and Russia,'' U.K. Deputy Ambassador Karen Pierce said. ``They think that if they can row back a bit, why not try?''

Pierce said she was concerned about remarks by Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin that he's in no hurry to adopt a UN resolution on Iran, and with Russian proposals that would delay adoption of the measure. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said he wants the Security Council to vote this week.

Khaleej Times Online - Qatar Airways weighing A330, A340, says Airbus-by Isaac John

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Qatar Airways weighing A330, A340, says Airbus-by Isaac John

European planemaker Airbus, which has been trounced by US rival Boeing in aircraft orders this year, bounced back by winning 114 firm aircraft orders worth $9.65 billion and options for another 58 by the end of fourth day of the airshow, surpassing Boeing's tally of 76 planes.

SeatlePi: Airbus announces orders for 29 jets

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FARNBOROUGH, England -- Airbus announced orders for 29 jets Thursday, as U.S. leasing company CIT Group Inc. and Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air signed deals with the European aircraft maker. Unveiling the deals on the fourth day of the Farnborough International Airshow, Airbus said Wizz Air has signed an order to increase its all-Airbus fleet with 20 additional A320s in a deal worth around $1.4 billion at list prices. The airline ordered 12 A320 aircraft plus 12 options a year ago.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways probably won't buy 20 Boeing Co. 777 planes at the air show after the U.S. plane maker accidentally issued a statement saying the purchase had been agreed upon. "A deal at the show is very unlikely," Salam al-Shawa, Qatar Airway's head of communications, said in a phone interview Thursday. "Talks are ongoing." Boeing issued a statement Monday saying the state-owned Persian Gulf carrier would buy 14 777-300ERs and six 777-200LR aircraft worth as much as $4.9 billion. It later retracted the statement, which was "issued prematurely," according to spokesman Jim Condelles.

The Financial Express: Middle East crisis risks choking off European growth

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The Financial Express: Middle East crisis risks choking off European growth

The crisis in the Middle East and the threat of oil prices above $80 a barrel risk choking growth in Italy and Europe, state-funded Isae Institute said on Thursday.

‘‘What is happening in the Middle East, beyond the immediate impact it can have on oil prices, is an element of uncertainty that can hurt international markets and could put at risk the tentative recovery that one now sees in the euro area,’’ said Isae President Alberto Majocchi in an interview in Rome.

Haaretz.com: EU's Solana meets families of three abducted IDF soldiers - by Jack Khoury

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EU's Solana meets families of three abducted IDF soldiers - by Jack Khoury

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Thursday met the families of the three captured Israeli soldiers, promising to help free them. "Solana was more optimistic about the release of Gilad," said Noam Shalit, the father of Gilad Shalit, after the meeting held in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. "I very much hope he is right, and of course, we want the three boys to come home as soon as possible."

Shalit was captured over three weeks ago near Kerem Shalom, near the Gaza border. The other two soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were abducted on the Lebanese border.

The Daily Star - Lebanon: - Is Tehran emerging as regional winner? - by Iason Athanasiadis

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Is Tehran emerging as regional winner? - by Iason Athanasiadis

So adept is the Israeli PR machine, that even foreign journalists based in Tehran have been receiving detailed emails from Israeli officials supplying up-to-the-moment briefings and full contact details.

But Israel's attempts to spin the conflict in its favor do not obscure the fact that its position is becoming ever more precarious the longer the bombing draws on. Iran is sure to capitalize on that. A well-connected Iranian analyst - with links to Hizbullah and a background as a foreign policy adviser to former President Mohammad Khatami - told me that the big regional winners this time will be Syria and Iran, not to mention Russia and China.

7/20/06

FTimes:/MSNBC: Croatia courts Serbia in bid to win EU backing - Financial Times - MSNBC.com

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Croatia believes experience gained by its security services in bringing fugitive war crimes suspects before the courts could help neighbouring Serbia resolve its dispute with the European Union.

Officials in Zagreb claim that Belgrade turned to them for help in drafting the six-point "action plan" it presented to the EU this week for catching Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general accused of organising genocide during the 1990s Yugoslav break-up.

The EU froze association talks with Serbia in May after repeated failures to arrest and extradite the general. Ivo Sanader, Croatia's prime minister, says the time has come for neighbouring states to leave behind their wartime grudges and help each other meet EU political standards.

EU Commission: EUROPEAN UNION PROVIDES EUR 10 MILLION EMERGENCY AID TO LEBANON

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EUROPEAN UNION PROVIDES EUR 10 MILLION EMERGENCY AID TO LEBANON

The European Commission announced today a doubling of its emergency aid for Lebanon as it seeks to provide humanitarian aid for victims of the conflict. The € 10 million, managed by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), will cover a range of urgent relief activities including the provision of emergency supplies for displaced people and medical assistance.

Louis Michel, the Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "In Lebanon, from a humanitarian standpoint, we are witnessing a tragic, downward spiral. We already have a crisis with rapidly growing unmet needs. Every day the fighting continues takes us closer to a human catastrophe."

EU-Digest : Update Middle East - EU to send humanitarian aid to Lebanon as situation deteriorates - by Rick Morren

Special EU-Digest report

Update Middle East - EU sending humanitarian aid to Lebanon as situation deteriorates

Reports from relief agencies indicate over 300 people have died in Lebanon, with over 860 wounded. Missile attacks by Hezbolah into Israel have reportedly caused thirteen deaths.

In Lebanon more than 70,000 people have reportedly been evacuated to other areas of Beirut. The clashes have increased tension throughout the region, with a disproportionate impact on the general population in Lebanon, creating a humanitarian crisis and considerable fear that is provoking mass population movements to Syria for those seeking shelter, safety, or humanitarian relief assistance. In the past week Syria has received 90,000 refugees. According to UN sources there may be as many as 400 000 refugees. That figure is expected to grow. Furthermore, the limited access of relief organisations to the region is a major problem. Foreign nationals from other countries caught up in the hostilities are being evacuated by plane and ship to nearby locations, including Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and other countries. As tens of thousands of Europeans who lived and worked in Lebanon on the reconstruction of Lebanon are forced to leave, following the destructive Israeli bombing, the European Commission anounced that it had allocated 34 million euros (43 million dollars) in humanitarian aid to people in need in the strife-hit Palestinian territories as well as in Lebanon. The funds are to be used to deliver food, provide badly-needed jobs and health support, as well as water and sanitation services, the EU's executive body said in a statement. EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said "The rising internal insecurity resulting from the worsening humanitarian situation, and Israeli movement restrictions, make access for humanitarian operations more difficult." EU funds to Lebanon will also be used to help people in refugee camps by providing legal aid, job training and other assistance, the commission said.

The Greek Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that a C-130 military transport plane will fly medical supplies to Lebanon today. Greece said that the aid was being sent in response to a request from the Lebanese government to the EU. The Foreign Ministry said that Greece will also participate in the second stage of Lebanon's reconstruction as soon as the Israeli bombing stops. More aid is pouring in from all over the EU and its "Meditteranean Neighbourhood" partner countries. French President Jacques Chirac said on Wednesday France would send a large capacity aircraft to Cyprus with humanitarian aid for Lebanon and urged the creation of "humanitarian corridors" to help civilian escape to safety. The Turkish Red Crescent Association announced it is to dispatch 1,500 tonnes of flour to Palestine on Tuesday, the first consignment of humanitarian aid of 10,000 tones of flour. Two cargo aircrafts loaded with humanitarian aid worth $680 000, took off Monday evening from the military base of Kénitra (40 km south of Rabat)in Morocco for Lebanon. In the Netherlands city of Almere, a recently closed refugee center was reopend to house 63 Dutch refugees who arrived from Lebanon. Sweden announced it is prepared to immediately provide help in alleviating the humanitarian needs that have arisen and to support the appeals for economic support. Lebanon said it is interested in an Italian mediation to end the conflict between Israel and the Lebanon-based Shiite militias Hezbollah, prime minister Fuad Siniora told Italy's largest circulation newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Thursday. Siniora also said he was thinking of inviting Italian foreign minister Massimo D'Alema to Beirut.

In Germany, which is already supplying humanitarian support to Lebanon and Palestine, the German Development Aid Minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul condemned Israel's military aggression in Lebanon and Gaza as 'unacceptable.' The German minister told the Berlin-based daily, "To bomb civilian installations and civilians in another state is completely unacceptable in terms of international law. "She also criticized Israel's brutal military actions in Gaza, pointing to the terrible situation of the Palestinian population in the region. "They are faced with a real desperate humanitarian situation," she told the daily.

To support the Lebanese refugees please contact your local Red Cross or Relief organization.