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9/30/06

The Seattle Times: French forces block Israeli Israeli armored personnel carrier and two Humvees that tried to cross into Lebanon - by Hamza Hendawi

French Leclerc tank
For the complete report go to The Seattle Times

French forces block Israeli Israeli armored personnel carrier and two Humvees that tried to cross into Lebanon - by Hamza Hendawi

French peacekeepers on Thursday blocked the path of an Israeli armored personnel carrier and two Humvees that crossed into Lebanon, said an Associated Press photographer who saw it. Although the hour-long incident was resolved amicably, it marked the first such known encounter.

Peter Dejong, an AP photographer, said four French Leclerc tanks were on patrol when an Israeli armored personnel carrier and two Humvees drove into Lebanon through a border gate. The last French Leclerc tank in the patrol stopped, backed up about 150 yards and blocked the path, a narrow strip of tarmac extending from the gate. The two sides engaged in an animated conversation. Finally, the Israelis drove back to Israel.

U.S. Newswire : "US Congress Bans Funding for Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq"


For the full report in U.S. Newswire click on this link

"US Congress Bans Funding for Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq"

The U.S. Congress this week finalized legislation that bars funding to construct permanent military bases in Iraq and states definitively that it is the policy of the United States government not to exercise control over Iraq's petroleum resources. "The perception that the U.S. military plans to stay in Iraq indefinitely has fueled the insurgency and undermined the stability of the Iraqi government," said Ruth Flower, legislative director for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). "This legislation is an important first step in changing the failed U.S. policy in Iraq."

The final conference report on the military appropriations bill released Sept. 25 prohibits the Pentagon from spending money to establish military installations or bases in Iraq. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the final version of this legislation later this week. While the FCNL believes this declaration of policy is an important step toward changing U.S. policy in Iraq, it is concerned that the military appropriations bill also includes an additional $70 billion in funding for the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation, the oldest registered religious lobby in Washington, is a non-partisan Quaker lobby in the public interest. FCNL works with a nationwide network of tens of thousands of people from many different races, religions and cultures to advocate for social and economic justice, peace and good government. For more information on the Quaker lobby click here

Telegraaf: Dutch vote themselves Europe's third biggest louts


For the complete report in the Telegraaf click on this link

Dutch vote themselves Europe's third biggest louts

The Dutch have voted themselves Europe's third most loutish, bad-mannered nation behind Russia and France, according to a survey in Dutch daily De Telegraaf on Saturday. "As we are too few people living in just a little country our tolerance of one another is continuously declining," wrote one of the survey respondents.

The Dutch voted the Swiss, Scandinavians and the Belgians as Europe's most polite nations.

Forcing their Way into Europe's Fortress



OhmyNews International:

"Forcing their Way into Europe's Fortress
European countries divided over policy against illegal immigration

Escaping African poverty and setting foot in the European Promised Land: over the past few years, this obsession has expanded into the minds of so many African people that the Spanish interior minister refers to this year's wave of illegal African immigrants as "a peaceful revolution against African poverty."

Since January 2006, more than 23,000 illegal African immigrants have landed in the Spanish Canary Island, after a hazardous journey that started somewhere in the Senegalese coast. Others are taking their chances off Libyan coasts, to the Italian island of Lampudesa, south of Sicily."

New Anatolean - The Netherlands: What has happened to EU's (Netherlands) Freedom of expression

Dutch Parliament
For the complete report in the New Anatolian click on this link: The Netherlands : 'What happened to the EU's (Netherlands) principle of freedom of expression?'

A Turkish Foreign Ministry's spokesperson yesterday expressed dismay at the exclusion of three Turkish-origin candidates from the Dutch elections, describing the incident as a "bad precedent" which is contrary to the European Union's fundamental principle of freedom of expression. Stressing that decisions on determining candidates and elections procedures for the Dutch early general elections, set for Nov 22, are an issue of domestic politics and stating views on this issue would be wrong, spokesperson Namik Tan commented on the repercussions of the issue in foreign policy."Ankara is upset that political parties of its friend and ally, the Netherlands, have one-sided views about the Armenian genocide claims which is contrary to freedom of expression," Tan said in a written statement. Three Dutch political candidates from Turkish-origin were removed from the Dutch elections list for not recognizing the Armenian genocide claims, ahead of the early general elections. The removal of the three candidates -- Erdinc Sacan from the Dutch Labour Party (PVDA) and Ayhan Tonca and Osman Elmaci from Christian Democratic Party (CDA) -- is seen by Turkey as the result of the activities of the Armenian lobby in the Netherlands.

Note EU-Digest: The decision by the Dutch Labour Party and the Christian Democratic Party, which was probably also initiated to counter a strong right-wing anti-immigrant lobby in the Netherlands and Europe, is not justified. The so-called Armenian genocide claims are still open to debate and strongly influenced by a one-sided and powerful Armenian lobby, who constantly deny to participate in any international forum on the issue. It is amazing that the Netherlands allows a pedophile political party to operate in the political system but punishes two of its own political candidates for expressing their position on the Armenian genocide claims.

BBC: France urges EU immigration curbs


France urges EU immigration curbs: For the complete report from the BBC click on this link

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has called for EU nations to adopt a common, tough standard in dealing with illegal immigration.

"We can't all continue to have our own immigration policies," Mr Sarkozy said, ahead of talks in Madrid with EU members from southern Europe.

Mr Sarkozy has accused Spain of causing a surge in illegal immigration by offering migrants an amnesty.

9/29/06

EU ruling against 'golden shares'

JTW News

Turkish Weekly: "EU ruling against 'golden shares'

Friday , 29 September 2006

The Netherlands is breaking the law in owning a 'golden share' in postal firm TNT, Europe's highest court has ruled.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the share - giving the state a veto over mergers - was incompatible with the free movement of capital.

State involvement deterred investment and was not necessary to ensure the firm stayed solvent, the ruling added.

European courts have already ruled against France, Portugal, the UK and Spain in cases of share ownership. "

Washington Post: GM says may boost exports from Europe - by Michael Shields


For the complete report click on this link GM says may boost exports from Europe - washingtonpost.com - by Michael Shields


GM is considering increasing its car exports from Europe, including to its key U.S. market, to help boost productivity at its European sites, a senior GM executive said on Thursday. "We may export more vehicles from Europe," GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster told reporters on the sidelines of the Paris car show, adding that GM would make a decision by the end of this year or early in 2007.

"We may export more vehicles from Europe," GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster told reporters on the sidelines of the Paris car show, adding that GM would make a decision by the end of this year or early in 2007. GM Europe now makes around 100,000 vehicles for export each year to markets including Mexico and the Middle East.

The U.S. automaker is considering selling cars made by German unit Opel in Europe under its sister brand Saturn in the United States, Forster said.

9/28/06

The Telegraph:Europe must not turn coward in Afghanistan, says US envoy

Europe must not turn coward in Afghanistan, says US envoy

For the full report in the Telegraph click on this link

The American ambassador to Kabul has accused European members of Nato of jeopardising the future of the alliance by refusing to send troops to Afghanistan, or banning their forces from entering areas with heavy fighting. Ronald Neumann, who has survived two attempts on his life this year, said European nations must not turn "coward" and "run away" from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Mr Neumann said some Europeans "obviously resist the idea that you have an army in order to fight. And I have very little patience for that".

Drowning in the Aegean: Greece Denies Dumping Illegal Immigrants into the Sea

International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

"Greece Denies Dumping Illegal Immigrants into the Sea

Illegal migrants rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard in the Aegean Sea claimed Greek officials had thrown them overboard. If their story is true, it's an international scandal. It also calls attention to another hotspot for immigrants trying to reach Europe.

Greek authorities have denied knowledge of an alleged incident in which Greek officials threw illegal immigrants into the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey. On Tuesday morning, some 31 illegals were plucked out of the sea near the Turkish coastal city of Izmir. They claimed that the Greek Coast Guard had thrown them into the water. They did so, said one survivor, "without even asking if we could swim," according to Turkey's state-owned Anatolia news agency. Six people have reportedly drowned; three are missing."

Europe diary: Romanian emigration

BBC NEWS | Europe

"Europe diary: Romanian emigration
28 September 2006

BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell discusses the motives Romanians may have for seeking work abroad, and the UK's plans to stop some of them coming - and he asks what mass emigration does to a country."

Bloomberg.com: German consumer confidence rises to higest - by Gabi Thesing

For the complete report in Bloomberg.com click on this link

German consumer confidence rises to higest - by Gabi Thesing

Consumer confidence in Germany, Europe's largest economy, rose to the highest in almost five years as households plan to spend more before the government increases sales tax in January.

GfK's confidence index, based on a September survey of about 2,000 people that aims to forecast households' expenditure one month ahead, climbed to 8.8 from 8.6 in the previous month, the market-research company said in an e-mailed statement today. That's the highest level since November 2001.

CNN.com - Prostitutes, smugglers boost Greek economy

fOR THE COMPLETE REPORT GO TO CNN.com OR CLICK ON THIS LINK

Prostitutes, smugglers boost Greek economy

Prostitutes and smugglers will give the Greek economy an unexpected boost as their illicit activities will now be counted in the country's official economic output, a senior official said on Wednesday. Under pressure from the European Union to cut its deficits, Greece is revising its gross domestic product to include part of the booming black economy, boosting its output by at least 10 percent in 2006, the country's chief statistician told Reuters. "The revised GDP will include some money from illegal activities, such as money from cigarette and drinks smuggling, prostitution and money laundering," National Statistics Service chief Manolis Kontopyrakis said in an interview.

Greece's economic output was 180 billion euros ($228 billion) in 2005 and is estimated at 194 billion euros this year, while the black economy is estimated at about 40-60 billion euros a year.

9/27/06

Stratfor: The Triple Alliance's Limits - by Peter Zeihan

For the complete report from the Stratfor clcik on this link

The Triple Alliance's Limits - by Peter Zeihan

French President Jacques Chirac met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on Sept. 22 before being joined the next day by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Three years ago, the meeting of the three powers would have signaled a nightmare scenario for U.S. foreign policy. But times have changed.

In September, the Russian Natural Resources Ministry revoked the license for Royal Dutch/Shell's Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project and has threatened the same for Total's Kharyaga oil project on the mainland. Technically, both projects are protected by production-sharing agreements, but in Russia, the rule of law is hardly firm. The message is clear: Investment and partnership with European firms is all well and good, but it will occur on Russian terms. These include, among other things, a European commitment to spread the wealth and share technology liberally.

While Washington would likely greatly enjoy maneuvering Europe's various powers into more mutually antagonistic positions, the current administration will not be the one to take such steps. The Bush administration is simply too occupied with Iraq and the Iranian complications that go with it to take advantage of anyone. Until the White House can find more foreign policy bandwidth, it will be sitting this one out.

Sys-con Australia: Consumers in Sweden and the Netherlands Lead Other Countries in the adoption of on-line advertising

For the complete report in SYS-CON AUSTRALIA click on this link

Consumers in Sweden and the Netherlands Lead Other Countries in the adoption of on-line advertising

New research from The Kelsey Group indicates consumers in Sweden and the Netherlands are more inclined to turn to online local advertising sources, such as Internet Yellow Pages and local search, than consumers in other European Union countries, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

"As we collect data from around the world, it is becoming very clear that there are vast differences in how consumers are finding local shopping information, which suggests there is no one global local search strategy," said Neal Polachek, senior vice president, research and consulting, The Kelsey Group.

Gulf Times – Dutch companies keen on tie-up, says Ashghal chief

For the complete report in the Gulf Times click on this link

Dutch companies keen on tie-up, says Ashghal chief

AYED Mansoor al-Khayarin, board member and managing director of Public Works Authority (Ashghal), said his recent visit to Holland was "fruitful and achieved notable gains". Khayarin’s three-day trip was at the invitation from the Dutch government.

A number of companies in Holland had shown eagerness to collaborate with Ashghal projects and to benefit from the investment opportunities, the Ashghal chief said. All these companies are well known for their developmental projects in the European market.

Sofia News Agency: Bulgaria, Romania Masking Irritation

For the complete report in the Sofia News Agency click on this link

Bulgaria, Romania Masking Irritation

Brussels' warning that Bucharest and Sofia must reach agreed benchmarks on judicial reform, corruption, food safety and their ability to administer billions of euros in EU aid - or face the withholding of subsidies and other payments - predictable and harsh but correct.

"But the significance of the report lies not so much in the detail of what it says about the latest ex-Communist candidates but how it reflects feelings about the state of the union - and not just among rabble-rousing europhobes."

Scotsman.com News - EU opens doors to a new life outside Romania - by DARREN ENNIS, MARCIN GRAJEWSKI and AND AURA SABADUS

For the complete report in the Scotsman.com click on this link

EU opens doors to a new life outside Romania - by DARREN ENNIS, MARCIN GRAJEWSKI and AND AURA SABADUS

EU leaders are to approve the recommendation next month. Once this formality is complete, the EU will number 27 countries and comprise some 410 million people. It will be the EU's second wave of enlargement into former communist eastern Europe, expanding the bloc to 27 members and locking the Black Sea neighbours into the zone of stability and prosperity and promising a boost to their fast-growing economies. "This is the genuine and final fall of the Berlin Wall for Bulgaria," said Sergey Stanishev, the Bulgarian prime minister, referring to the 1989 defeat of communism in eastern Europe.

Possible sanctions, which may be applied up to three years after the countries' accession, are meant to reassure the growing number of critics of the enlargement who fear the addition of poor eastern countries will undermine western Europe's social model. The European Commission said it may freeze payments to Bulgaria and Romania unless they complete mechanisms to allocate billions of euros in farm subsidies and regional aid. Bulgaria will be required to amend its constitution to remove ambiguity about the independence and accountability of the judicial system. Romania must strengthen its top court and establish an agency to verify the assets of senior officials.

9/26/06

AskaPrice: Paris Motor Show Preview


For the complete report in AskaPrice click on this link

Paris Motor Show Preview

The world’s oldest and Europe’s biggest motor show opens its doors again in Paris at the end of this week. Exactly 110 years ago the first true Paris motor show was held to display cars that took part in the Paris - Bordeaux race. Two years ago, over 1.46 Million visitors attended. That was a record and it is hoped to be broken this year with more manufacturers than ever exhibiting. The Mondial de L’automobile, Paris runs from 30 September to 15 October.

The Peninsula On-line: EU nations split on giving up vetoes in security matters

For the full report in the The Peninsula On-line click on this link

EU nations split on giving up vetoes in security matters

TAMPERE, Finland • European Union countries were divided yesterday on whether to surrender their national vetoes in security matters, which are thwarting EU ambitions to efficiently fight terrorism. “There is a hard core group of countries that are blocking,” said an EU diplomat, on condition of anonymity, after informal talks between the bloc’s justice and interior ministers in Tampere, southern Finland. The issue of national vetoes on cross-border police cooperation in criminal affairs has festered into a major obstacle to the EU’s security ambitions.

While only around four of the 25 EU countries were against a move from unanimity decision-making to qualified majority voting to decide such matters, only three member states appeared to be fully in favour, diplomatic sources said.

Where are the borders of the European Union?

Basque news & Information Channel

"Where are the borders of the European Union?

09/26/2006
An old problem comes up once more. Which is the limit of the Union? Will all the European countries become members of the EU?
News analyst Jesús Torquemada

Romania and Bulgaria will feel a great sense of relief Tuesday when the European Commission announces it gives the green light to its entry into the European Union next January 1st.

The European Union might have might have delayed the entry by a year but, at the end, it has decided to do it in 2007, rather than in 2008.

The European Commission is not totally convinced that this enlargement is going to work out well as the Commission is giving the two countries a list of reforms they must complete to avoid being deprived initially of full membership benefits. However, Romania and Bulgaria were left out in the 2004 enlargement and it seems they can not be left out again."

Turkish Digest: Join the Café Debate on Turkey in Spain: "Turkey, where does Europe end?


Join the Café Debate on Turkey in Spain: "Turkey, where does Europe end?

On October 3, the negotiations on the Turkish membership bid will have reached a year. What’s your opinion? Should Turkey join the EU or not? Where does Europe end?

There will be a discussion on this topic organized by the Café Babel Publication in Sevilla, Spain, on the 4th of October at 21.00 in the El Cachorro, Calle Procurador 19 – Triana. Pablo Gutiérrez Vega, professor of public law history at the Sevilla university will take part in the debate. You are invited to join this debate about the borders of the EU and as usual the first round of drinks will be on Café Babel.
More at: Turkish Digest

ISN Security Watch - Lebanon mission, chance to strengthen EU - by Federico Bordonaro


For the complete report in ISN Security Watch click on this link

Lebanon mission, chance to strengthen EU - by Federico Bordonaro

On 11 September, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano praised the mission and exalted Franco-Italian strategic cooperation as proof of the power of diplomacy, and predicted a strengthening of the UN as a result of the initiative. Other observers are looking at the mission - and Franco-Italian cooperation, in particular - as a way to strengthen the EU.

According to international media reports, Paris will send the 57th Artillery Regiment to Lebanon, equipped with anti-air weaponry (the Franco-German mobile short-range surface-to-air missile system, Roland, and the Mistral infrared homing surface-to-air missile), as well as the Leclerc tank, which is considered to be a weapons system with the latest military technology rather than a classic tank. The question is, how exactly is this highly advanced equipment going to be used, and against whom? Even though the drones used by Hizbollah “aren’t at all so sophisticated” and the Shi'ite militia cannot count on helicopters or military aircraft, Brisset said the troops needed the “most sophisticated air defenses," and that the Leclerc tank was necessary to protect against land mines in the region. However, he added, “it’s useless to deny that one of the main worries for European decision-makers is that Israel has a tradition of violating ceasefires. As a consequence, France’s decision to display new generation weapons systems that can guarantee strategic superiority against modern armies may also be interpreted as a warning to Israel.”

TELEPOLIS: Former CIA Director Says US Economic Spying Targets "European Bribery" - Duncan Campbell


For the complete report in Telepolis click on this link

Former CIA Director Says US Economic Spying Targets "European Bribery" - Duncan Campbell

Former United States Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey confirmed in Washington this week that the US steals economic secrets "with espionage, with communications [intelligence], with reconnaissance satellites", and that there was now "some increased emphasis" on economic intelligence. He claimed that economic spying was justified because European companies had a "national culture" of bribery and were the "principle offenders from the point of view of paying bribes in major international contracts in the world". Responding to the European Parliament report on interception capabilities and the Echelon satellite surveillance system, Woolsey said that the "Interception Capabilities 2000" report which had been presented to the parliament's Citizens' Rights Committee on 23 February, was "intellectually honest". In two cases cited in the report, "the fact [is] that the subject of American intelligence collection was bribery." I don't call it industrial espionage if the United States spies on a European corporation to find out if it is bribing its way to contracts in Asia or Latin America that it can't win honestly."
There are some areas of technology where American industry is behind those of companies in other countries. [But] by and large American companies have no need nor interest in stealing foreign technology in order to stay ahead". But if US intelligence did compile intelligence on technical breakthroughs by foreign companies, Woolsey believed that this would be passed on.

Woolsey says, "there are European countries where .. if you leave your briefcase when you go to dinner, if you're a businessman and there's anything sensitive in it, you should have your head examined".

9/25/06

Chron.com: USA: November elections - A new evangelical center to counter Christian right - by Mark I. Pinski

For the complete report in the chron.com click on this link

USA-November elections - A new evangelical center to counter Christian right-by Mark I. Pinski

It's no longer a given that religious equals Republican - as Mao Zedong famously wrote that, when it comes to power, inevitably "one divides into two."

In a subtle yet tectonic shift, a slightly younger, considerably less pugnacious and less reflexively Republican generation of conservative leaders is bidding to dislodge familiar faces such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Focus on the Family's James Dobson and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land, who have held a virtual monopoly on the role of movement spokesmen for more than a decade.For example, a recent national study conducted by Baylor University and the Gallup organization in fall 2005 found that nearly 40 percent of evangelicals surveyed did not agree that the Iraq war was justified and that 38 percent no longer had a high level of trust in President Bush.

The open question is whether these changes will make a difference politically, especially in close races in which a slight shift by white evangelicals could change the outcome.Is the GOP's most dependable voting bloc in play? We won't know until November and beyond.

EU-Digest: Bulgaria and Romania should be put on hold for at least one more year

EU-Digest review of Times Online report on Romania and Bulgaria's membership in the EU

Bulgaria and Romania should be put on hold for at least one more year

Europe's latest arrivals are told to 'shape up' or face sanctions writes David Charter in the Times Online : "The welcome of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union will be prefaced tomorrow with a warning that they will lose up to a quarter of their farm subsidies unless they meet strict targets for reform.

The two countries will be told that they can become full members of the EU from January 1 but with threats of sanctions if a series of goals are not met. Both will face demands for judicial reform and counter-corruption measures and will be told to prove within three months of joining that they have set up robust payment systems for millions of euros of EU agricultural aid.Bulgaria will be ordered to change its Constitution to spell out the independence and accountability of the judicial system, ending the practice of prosecutors cherry-picking cases, which had led to claims of bribery and corruption.

The last stumbling block to membership will be the ratification of accession by four remaining EU nations: Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. The tough sanctions set out in Tuesday’s report are designed to convince them to sign up by the end of the year."

Given the deplorable state of affairs in Romania and Bulgaria in just about every aspect it is hoped that among the present holdouts against their admission (Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany), one or two of these will veto the admission of Romania and Bulgaria and put them on hold for at least one more year to meet the targets of reform. This would only be fair to other applicant nations, especially Turkey, a far more desirable member applicant, which not only stands head and shoulders above Romania and Bulgaria, but also has the potential to quickly become a net contributor to the overall European economy. Romania and Bulgaria in their present state of affairs represent a dangerous liability to the EU and its tax payers.

Shell Eco-marathon - EU Commissioner Piebalgs unveils 2006 European Shell Eco-marathon winning car


For the complete report go to Shell Eco-marathon or click on this link

EU Commissioner Piebalgs unveils 2006 European Shell Eco-marathon winning car

EU Energy Commissioner Piebalgs recently unveiled “Microjoule”, the ethanol-powered vehicle which won the European Shell Eco-marathon last May, travelling 2,885 km on the equivalent of 1 litre of fuel. Microjoule the winning car is an ethanol-powered vehicle engineered by students from the Lycee La Joliverie, from St Sebastien/Loire in France. It weighs 30kg for a length of 3m, a maximum width of 0,7m and a maximum height of 0,5m. It won the 2006 European Shell Eco-marathon averaging 2,885 km with the equivalent of 1 litre of fuel. It also took home the Climate Friendly prize. The award recognises the team producing the lowest level of CO2 emissions “from the well to the wheel”, i.e. the sum of emissions from production, transport and distribution of the energy source used.

The Shell Eco-marathon is an educational project for highschool students and their teachers that integrates the sustainable development values with driving as far as possible using the least amount of energy.

Asia Times Online : Russia sets the pace in energy race - by M K Bhadrakumar


For the complete report in Asia Times Onlineclick on this link

Russia sets the pace in energy race - by M K Bhadrakumar

"Speaking at a conference on the subject "Summit on Energy Security" at West Lafayette, Indiana, this month, the powerful chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, characterized Venezuela, Iran and Russia as "adversarial regimes" that were using energy supplies as "leverage" in foreign policy. Senior Russian figures were quick to dismiss Lugar's admonition as "groundless Russophobia", but the US administration is already opening new battle fronts against Russia in the energy war.

Next week's meeting in Beijing on energy security involving the United States, China, Japan, India and South Korea is a dramatic manifestation of the new battle plans and war doctrines that Washington is conceptualizing. The conclave in Beijing,significantly, leaves out Western Europe.The creation of a political framework of "economic dialogue", backed at the highest level of leadership in Beijing and Washington, cannot be a coincidence. (Nor, for that matter, can the International Monetary Fund's endorsement of the US-backed proposal on Tuesday to enhance China's "voting power" to 3.72% from 2.98%, sending an unmistakable signal to all corners of the international system that China is entering the heart of the world economy and that Washington is squarely backing this.)

The US however remains in an underdog position as Russia quietly posted more gains on the chessboard of great-power energy politics that hold far-reaching consequences for the geopolitics of the 21st century.

For the EU, the viable alternative supply source of gas is Iran. But the policy of its US ally apropos containment of Iran precludes any near-term possibility for the EU to enter any form of expanded energy dialogue with Tehran. On the other hand, in keeping Iran out of the European market, Russia and the US would have a common interest at this juncture, though Washington ought to be aware that any realistic possibility of reducing its European allies' dependence on Russian energy supplies would depend on Iran being allowed into the European market. Editorial comment EU-Digest: the control of world energy supplies is key to political and economic survival in todays world, everything else at this point seems to be irrelevant. The EU must move away from its present unreliable "strategic" partnes and develop "homegrown" energy strategies and alliances with partners who are closer to its own borders and have similar philosophies.

EUROPA - Press Release:EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero: "The Transatlantic Relationship: A Balance Sheet "

Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External relations and European Neighborhood Policy
For the complete speech by Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, from the EUROPA-Press Release click on this link

EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero:"The Transatlantic Relationship: A Balance Sheet"

"The “shared equity” of our relations. This has increased in value enormously over the last 18 months or so. We have moved from a time of tension and frustration to one of cooperation and understanding. There’s a new spirit of constructive engagement between us, and the June Summit between President Bush and the European Union was one of the most fruitful yet. Of course the political difficulties we had were never mirrored in our economic relations, which continued to go from strength to strength. But undoubtedly, as you will know better than I, a more positive political atmosphere also has benefits for business. Our renewed commitment to transatlantic cooperation is, I hope, here to stay. Indeed, I believe it has to stay, because the “business environment” in which we are now operating requires it.

Around the world the EU and US are working together to avert or resolve conflicts and crises. In Afghanistan the EU is providing 80% of the troops in NATO’s International Security Force. And the EU and US shared the costs of the presidential and parliamentary elections. This summer we worked together to resolve the situation in Lebanon, and are both leading members of the international Quartet dedicated to pushing for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

But to be seen as credible and trustworthy by others we need to be scrupulous in our own behaviour. That means maintaining the very highest standards in observance of the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights. At the Summit we had a frank exchange of views with President Bush on this point in the context of the fight against terrorism. It is an issue of great concern to Europeans, as I know it is to many Americans. It’s not a subject to joke about, but in business terms I’m afraid it would have to count as a serious reputational liability for the United States."

RosBusinessConsulting - Ukraine and EU Commission to discuss strategic oil reserve


For the complete report in RosBusinessConsulting News Online click on this link

Ukraine and EU Commission to discuss strategic oil reserve

The Ukrainian government and the European Commission will discuss several unsolved issues in relation to the program of creating a strategic reserve of oil and refined products in Ukraine. In late February Ukrainian Prime Minister Yury Yekhanurov ordered that the development of this program with due account for the experience of EU countries should be completed by the end of 2006. Related instructions were given to the Fuel and Energy, Economy, and Finance Ministries, as well as other governmental agencies. The plan is to create a three-month stockpile of refined oil products over a period of several years. For Ukraine, this volume is estimated at 2.3m tonnes of gasoline and diesel fuel.

NYT: Technology for Spying Lures More Than Military - by JULIE CRESWELL and RON STODGHILL


For the complete report in the New York Times click on this link

Technology for Spying Lures More Than Military - by JULIE CRESWELL and RON STODGHILL

In the world of security sleuths and private investigators, it’s billed as one of the biggest events of the year. Some 20,000 experts in the business are gathering this week in San Diego to check out the latest in high-tech surveillance gadgets and sit in on seminars discussing undercover investigations, background checks and interrogation techniques.

But many of those attending the ASIS International “Maximum Security” conference will not be there on behalf of the United States government or the military. They work for corporate America, where security is a big and sometimes controversial business, as the executives of Hewlett-Packard have found in the wake of revelations of a covert-operations spying scandal that the company conducted against its own directors and journalists.

Companies worldwide spent an estimated $95 billion on security last year, according to the Freedonia Group, a market research firm in Cleveland. While that’s a broad figure that includes spending on emergency planning in case of a terrorist attack and protecting corporate records from hackers, an increasing portion went to high-tech equipment like spyware and specialized data-mining software that was deployed in-house so companies could better see what their own employees were up to.

Times online: European union helps Woosnam drink in success - by John Hopkins


For the complete report in the Times Online click on this link

European union helps Woosnam drink in success - by John Hopkins

Europeans believe that success for their continent is more important than individual success. That is why Europe win the Ryder Cup and the US the major championships. Last week, García said that he would not mind losing all five matches if his team won the Ryder Cup, and Paul Casey said he would rather win the Cup than the £1 million he banked in the HSBC World Match Play Championship.

Long before the defeat was a statistic on the scoreboard, US officials were attempting to analyse why Europe have won this event three times in a row.The US just could not handle Europe’s unity, doggedness or skill any more than they could handle the weather, which threatened to stop proceedings.

Yet there is a more meaningful reason than just bad play by the US. Europe put their egos and differences to one side in a way that the Americans, who worship the culture of the individual, are unable to do.

9/24/06

Rocky Mountain News: Opinion Columnists report on the long term state of the US economy

For the complete report in the Rocky Mountain News click on this link

Opinion Columnists report on the long term state of the US economy

The panelists, in the order they spoke, were David Walker, comptroller general of the United States, Government Accountability Office; Stuart Butler, vice president for domestic and policy studies, The Heritage Foundation; and Isabel V. Sawhill, director of economic studies, The Brookings Institution.

How fast are things getting worse? In 2000, the value of investments the U.S. would need to cover its explicit future liabilities plus the implicit promises for Social Security and Medicare was $20.4 trillion. In 2005, it was $46.4 trillion. The entire household net worth of the US is $51.1 trillion.

What is the outlook for 30 or 40 years from now? In a word: grim. By then, entitlements will be eating the US economy alive ..and the children's and grandchildren's futures along with it.

Sawhill, from Brookings, remarked that the first time the three speakers were on a panel together, they didn't know that their presentations would be so similar.

seattlepi: Lufthansa to buy 35 Airbus planes - by Susanna Ray


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Lufthansa to buy 35 Airbus planes - by Susanna Ray

Lufthansa, Europe's No. 2 airline, plans to order 35 aircraft valued at as much as $3.12 billion from Airbus, expanding the fleet to meet growing competition. The carrier plans a second purchase later this year. The airline will buy five A319 models, 10 A320s and 15 A321s for short-haul services and five A330-300s for long-distance routes, with deliveries starting next year, Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa said in a statement Wednesday. The carrier also plans to take an option for 30 additional A320-series aircraft and is still in talks about a long-haul plane order.

The German airline has bought rivals and arranged routes to encourage connecting traffic through three hubs in central Europe, even as competitor Air France-KLM Group grows faster and wins trans-Atlantic market share.

The Benton Crier: German train accident probe eyes safety checks-by Melissa Eddy


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German train accident probe eyes safety checks

German train probe eyes safety checks-by Melissa Eddy

LATHEN, Germany - Investigators were trying to determine Saturday if controllers performed all the necessary safety checks before a high-speed magnetic train crashed into a maintenance vehicle, killing 23 people, a prosecutor said Saturday. He said maintenance workers are supposed to inform the control room when the vehicle has been taken off the track, and controllers must then ensure it is safely in its garage. Only then are controllers permitted to turn on the electrical power that allows the train‘s driver to start moving.

The company also said the accident appeared to be the result of human error.Maglev technology has been around for years, but it has not caught on even as high-speed train service has expanded using the conventional wheels-and-rails approach. Concerns have included the expense of building new lines.While countries like Japan, with its Shinkansen bullet train, and France, which has its TGV system, along with Germany operate high-speed rail service, only China has a commercially operating maglev service. The Transrapid line, built with German technology from ThyssenKrupp AG and Siemens AG, links Shanghai's Pudong International Airport with the city's financial district. It covers nearly 20 miles at up to 270 mph.

The Chinese government said earlier that work will begin this year on a second maglev line linking Shanghai and the resort city of Hangzhou, a $4.4-billion, high-speed line.

TheStar.com - Europe wins Ryder Cup for third time in a row- European Union players show what Europe is all about when united in purpose


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Europe wins Ryder Cup for third time in a row- European Union players show what Europe is all about when united in purpose

Europe clinched the 35th Ryder Cup by an historic 18½-9½ margin victory after fending off a formidable American charge in the singles at the Kildare Golf and Country Club, Ireland on Sunday. The final score alighting one of the loudest, most demonstrative European golf crowds anyone ever saw. "Very emotional," European captain Ian Woosnam told reporters after his team matched the record winning margin achieved over the U.S. at Oakland Hills two years ago to make it three wins in a row for the first time. U.S. captain Tom Lehman added: "I need to tip my hat completely to the European team. They played incredibly well, they were inspired.

EU-Digest editorial comment: The emotional fraternity displayed between the European Ryder cup team players and the enthusiastic support given to them by a roaring EU flag waving crowd should be a clear indication to Europe's leadership that events like this can do more to solidify our unity and common purpose than any stuffy speech about European unity given by a politician.

For the blow by blow account of the three day event go to http://www.rydercup.com/2006/

FreshPlaza: New EC ’s Communication: Better training for safer food


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Better training for safer food

The European Commission has adopted a Communication entitled “Better training for safer food”, which addresses the issue of training EU and third country officials responsible for carrying out the necessary controls to ensure food safety and consumer protection in the EU. “Good controls are a key factor in making sure that EU food law is complied with and that food and feed put on the EU market meets the high safety standards we have set. Training for the responsible officials is crucial in ensuring that the controls are carried out fully and properly, and in a uniform manner. The bottom line is that better training of the competent authorities means safer food and greater protection for consumers throughout the EU”, declared the Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection. Among the topics identified in Commission’s Communication as priority areas for training are avian influenza, the treatment of animal by-products and other waste material, animal welfare (especially during epidemics), salmonella and other zoonoses, HACCP implementation, pesticide controls and EU standards for fruit, vegetables and fishery products. EU training programmes have already begun in this respect, and in 2005 some €4 million was spent training over 1 500 officials.

The Better Training for Safer Food initiative is also open to participants from third countries. The aim is to foster a better understanding of the food standards and import procedures required by the EU and to help third countries, especially developing countries, to meet these requirements.

Bloomberg.com: EU Renews WTO Complaint Over U.S. Anti-Dumping Calculations -by Jennifer M.Freedman


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EU Renews WTO Complaint Over U.S. Anti-Dumping Calculations -by Jennifer M.Freedman

The European Union wants World Trade Organization judges to prohibit U.S. customs-duty calculations that the bloc says illegally inflate import tariffs. The calculation, called ``zeroing,'' allows the U.S. to maximize import duties by selectively excluding some market price data. The U.S. used the methodology to work out whether imports of chemicals, steel and pasta from the EU were sold below cost, or dumped, on the domestic market. The WTO ruled in favor of Japan in a similar complaint in February 2005.

Friday's filing renews previous complaints because WTO arbitrators in the past have faulted the U.S.'s use of the zeroing methodology in specific instances, but hasn't outlawed the practice in principle.

Dominican Today: Caribbean forum in the DR demands justice from European Union

Santo Domingo, Statue of Christopher Columbus
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Caribbean forum in the DR demands justice from European Union

SANTO DOMINGO.- The Economic Association agreements between the European Union and poor countries, specially those in the Caribbean block, require a sense of greater fairness and justice and determined it could be disastrous for the farming producers and the industry of these nations, noticed the Caribbean Civil Society Forum, after a seminary of two days celebrated in the Dominican Republic. Katllen Van Hove, European Center for the Development expert, presented a communication with alternatives to the present model of negotiations with Epas, aimed at transforming those agreements in a tool to be used against poverty and in favor of development.

Van Hove said: "The threats are there. The European Commission has not shown any interest to integrate the aspects of development for the poor countries and prefers to concentrate its efforts in the aspects of competitiveness and commerce, as the North Americans do", she affirmed. Simon Ticehurst, coordinator of campaigns and political International incidence for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, indicated that the European Union demands product competitiveness from the poor countries, but continues subsidizing its own producers and not offering legal emigration towards its territories.

The event ended last night demanding justice in those transactions scheduled to be effective as of 2008.

9/23/06

CBC Arts: Hugo's book club? Chavez speech sparks sales for Chomsky

Author Noam Chomsky
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Hugo's book club? Chavez speech sparks sales for Chomsky

Author Noam Chomsky got an unexpected boost in sales after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez cited one of his books in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

"The people of the United States should read this ... instead of … watching Superman movies," The unexpected promotion had a surprising effect on online bestseller lists. Hegemony or Survival, originally published in 2003, had jumped into the top 10 of Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com as of Thursday afternoon.

Chomsky, the famed 77-year-old linguist, has been an outspoken opponent of U.S. foreign policy. His many books include 9-11, a best selling collection of interviews, and Failed States, which came out last spring.

Bloomberg.com: ECB's Trichet Says Productivity Is Europe's `Main Liability' - by John Fraher


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ECB's Trichet Says Productivity Is Europe's `Main Liability' - by John Fraher

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said labor productivity is the biggest problem facing the economy of the dozen euro nations. ``The main, main liability we have'' in Europe is ``progress in labor productivity, which is significantly inferior to the present level in the U.S.,'' said Trichet, who was taking part in a panel discussion today organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Berlin.

Output per hour in the dozen euro nations is between 1 percent and 1.2 percent, compared with a U.S. rate of about 2.4 percent, Trichet said. Growth in the euro region's $10 trillion economy has lagged the U.S. in every year since 2001 partly as companies moved labor to cheaper locations in eastern Europe and Asia and avoided hiring in Europe. The jobless rate was 7.8 percent in July compared with 4.8 percent in the U.S.

The National Post: Ryder Cup: Casey's ace deepens American's woes


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Ryder Cup: Casey's ace deepens American's woes

STRAFFAN, Ireland - The opponent was already discouraged, the competition well out of hand. Then Paul Casey took out the whoopin' stick — a 4-iron to be exact — and made a hole-in-one to end his match and pound home another discouraging message to the United States at the Ryder Cup. Casey's ace — the fifth in Ryder Cup history — closed out a 5-and-4 romp for he and David Howell over Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson, part of a dominating afternoon in which Europe expanded its lead to 10-5.

Reuters.COM: France to probe bin Laden death report leak

BIN LADEN DEAD?
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France to probe bin Laden death report leak

France's Defense Ministry said on Saturday it could not confirm a newspaper report quoting French secret services as saying al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had died but would launch an inquiry into the leak of secret papers.The Defense Ministry issued the statement after the French regional newspaper L'Est Republicain said Saudi Arabia was convinced bin Laden had died of typhoid in Pakistan last month. "The information published this morning in the L'Est Republicain newspaper relating to the supposed death of Osama bin Laden cannot be confirmed," the Defense Ministry said.The French newspaper printed what it said was a copy of the report dated September 21 and said it was passed on to President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on the same day.

"According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead," the document said. "The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al Qaeda was a victim while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, of a very serious case of typhoid which led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs."

The report, which was stamped with a "confidential defense" label and the initials of the French secret service, said Saudi Arabia first heard the information on September 4 and that it was waiting for more details before making an official announcement. The U.S. intelligence official, who declined to be named, said bin Laden had long been rumored to be suffering from kidney ailments and is reported to have received dialysis.

Times Online: Afghanistan: Confronted by the Islamist threat on all sides, Europe pathetically caves in - by Gerard Baker


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Afghanistan: Confronted by the Islamist threat on all sides, Europe pathetically caves in - by Gerard Baker

"Late last year, at the invitation of Nato, and in the company of a small band of globetrotting pundits, I travelled to Afghanistan to witness first-hand the allied operation to reconstruct the benighted country.

Many of the European nations with forces in Afghanistan are operating under ludicrous political restrictions. Though their soldiers and airmen are highly capable and indeed eager to take the fight to the Taleban, their governments are desperately fearful of the public reaction should their soldiers suffer significant casualties. They don’t think that their voters will stomach it. And the tragedy is, they are probably right.

The scale of Europe’s moral crisis is larger than ever. Opposing the war in Iraq was one thing, defensible in the light of events. But opting out of a serious fight against the Taleban, sabotaging efforts to get Iran off its path towards nuclear status, pre-emptively cringing to Muslim intolerance of free speech and criticism, all suggest something quite different.

EU-Digest editorial comment: "Has it occurred to Mr. Baker that most Europeans believe there is another way than military confrontation to solve political and religious confrontations? It is called dialog. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are among those who have proven to the world that another way is not only possible but that it works."

LP/NYT: IRAQ: The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies - by FRANK RICH


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IRAQ: The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies - by FRANK RICH

"Rarely has a television network presented a more perfectly matched double feature. President Bush’s 9/11 address on Monday night interrupted ABC’s “Path to 9/11” so seamlessly that a single network disclaimer served them both: “For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.”

You’d think that after having been caught concocting the scenario that took the nation to war in Iraq, the White House would mind the facts now. But the US Administration understands the US culture all too well. This is a country where a cable news network (MSNBC) offers in-depth journalism about one of its anchors (Tucker Carlson) losing a prime-time dance contest and where conspiracy nuts have created a cottage industry of books and DVD’s by arguing that hijacked jets did not cause 9/11 and that the 9/11 commission was a cover-up. (The fictionalized “Path to 9/11,” supposedly based on the commission’s report, only advanced the nuts’ case.) If you’re a White House stuck in a quagmire in an election year, what’s the percentage in starting to tell the truth now? It’s better to game the system

Let’s pretend everything Mr. Bush said is actually true and then hold him to his word. If the safety of America really depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad, then our safety is in grave peril because the US is losing that battle.“Even the most sanguine optimist cannot yet conclude we are winning,” John Lehman, the former Reagan Navy secretary, wrote of the Iraq war last month. So what do we do next? Given that the current course is a fiasco, and that the White House demonizes any plan or timetable for eventual withdrawal as “cut and run,” there’s only one immediate alternative: add more manpower, and fast. Last week two conservative war supporters, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, called for exactly that — “substantially more troops.” These pundits at least have the courage of Mr. Bush’s convictions. Shouldn’t Republicans in Congress as well?

Guardian Unlimited: A more assertive German chancellor - by Nicholas Watt

Angela Merkel
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A more assertive German chancellor - by Nicholas Watt

Angela Merkel and Jose Manuel Barroso put on a friendly show of unity in Berlin when they took the lead at a conference on the future of Europe.

Both sides were keen to play down reports of a rift after Guardian Unlimited suggested this week that the German chancellor is growing increasingly irritated with the performance of the European commission president.

Mr Barroso was said to be deeply unsettled by the Guardian Unlimited report which has been reflected in other papers, notably the Financial Times. Johannes Laitenberger, Mr Barroso's chief spokesman, went out of his way to tell Guardian Unlimited that the report was without foundation. He said the commission often has differences with all member states, but Mr Barroso's relations with Ms Merkel were as warm as ever.

While Mr Barroso has been personally unnerved by the chilly wind from Berlin, other European leaders are noting Ms Merkel's assertiveness with interest. Germany, which bankrolls the EU to the tune of 20%, traditionally does not assert its national interest, for obvious historic reasons. It usually leaves the shouting to France. As she struggles to keep her "grand coalition" together - and as Europe embarks on a bout of soul-searching about its future - Ms Merkel has decided that the time has come to speak up, however unsettling that may be for Brussels.

9/22/06

BBC Sport: GOLF - Europe claim Ryder Cup advantage on first day


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GOLF: Europe claim Ryder Cup advantage on first day

Holders Europe have made a strong start to their Ryder cup golf defence at the K Club in County Kildare in Ireland. One point clear after the opening fourball encounters, the hosts pressed home their advantage against the United States and have finished the opening day five-three up. The United States, bidding to end a run of four defeats in the last five Ryder Cups, drew first blood when Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk shaded Cup veterans Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington to go one up.

But Northern Irishman Darren Clarke got a hero's welcome and answered concerns about his ability to cope with the emotions of the occasion by winning a point for Europe, partnering old friend Lee Westwood to a one hole victory over American duo Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco.

SOFIA ECHO COM: TWO GREEK BANKS TO BID FOR BULGARIA'S DZI BANK


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TWO GREEK BANKS TO BID FOR BULGARIA'S DZI BANK

Greek EFG Eurobank and Alpha Bank would bid for Bulgaria's DZI Bank. EFG Eurobank possessed Bulgaria's Postbank. The other bidders were Belgian KBC and Hungarian OTP. Austrian Volksbanken also applied for the tender but withdrew its submission.

DZI's price could reach from 150 to 200 million euros.DZI was 11th in the Bulgarian banking system with a three percent market share. DZI had total assets worth euro 600 million.

IHT: EU Commissioner Wallstrom says she will not lead Sweden's Social Democrats


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EU Commissioner Wallstrom says she will not lead Sweden's Social Democrats

STOCKHOLM, Sweden European Commission Vice President Margot Wallstrom said Thursday she does not want to become the new leader of Sweden's ousted Social Democrats, despite polls showing she is the top choice among voters.

A poll this week showed Wallstrom as the overwhelming favorite among voters to replace Persson, but she said Thursday she will not be a candidate for the post."It is of course flattering and warming that so many put their hope and faith in me," Wallstrom said in a statement. "And I am happy about the show of support for me. But for my own part I do not want to run as a candidate."

RIA Novosti - Putin meeting with French and German leaders today and tomorrow


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Putin meeting with French and German leaders today and tomorrow

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit France September 22-23, the Kremlin press-service said. Putin is set to meet with French President Jacques Chirac on the first day and take part in a trilateral meeting of leaders of Russia, France and Germany on September 23. Putin last visited France in 2005. He held talks with the leaders of France, Germany and Spain.

EU-DIGEST: GET ACQUAINTED WITH OUR EU COMMISSION - Profiles, Portfolios and Homepages


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GET ACQUAINTED WITH OUR EU COMMISSION - Profiles, Portfolios and Homepages

The European Union today faces global responsibilities and challenges. The EU is the largest trading block in the world, the largest donor of humanitarian and development assistance and a constant point of reference for others on stability, democracy and human rights. The European Commission plays a key role in the implementation of the EU's foreign and other policies and in this it relies heavily on its over 120 Delegations and Offices around the World, which act not only as the eyes and ears of the Commission in their host countries but also as its mouthpiece vis-à-vis the authorities and the general population. Commission Delegations are being consistently strengthened so that EU external assistance can be delivered more rapidly and efficiently.

The European Commission recently streamlined communications system throughout the EU makes it possible for all citizens to directly contact their representatives at any level of Governmen by electronic and convential means. In this it is the most open democratic system in the world and it remains an ongoing process.

CBC.CA: U.S. current account trade deficit climbs to second highest level in history


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U.S. current account trade deficit climbs to second highest level in history

The U.S. deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade increased in the spring to the second-highest level in history, reflecting a big jump in payments for foreign oil. The Commerce Department reported Monday that the deficit in the current account rose to US$218.4 billion in the April-June quarter, an increase of 2.4 per cent over the deficit in the first three months of the year. The current account is the broadest measure of foreign trade because it covers not only trade in goods and services but also investment flows between countries. The deficit represents the amount the United States must borrow from foreigners to cover the shortfall between exports and imports.

The US has lost nearly three million manufacturing jobs since President George W. Bush took office.

Washington Times: European job-killing machine - by Richard W. Rahn


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European job-killing machine - by Richard W. Rahn

"A major reason the U.S. has grown more rapidly than most other developed countries is that unions and the government have, for the most part, been sensible enough to recognize both differences in job requirements and in personal preferences to allow employees and employers to voluntarily find ways to accommodate each other's needs to everyone's benefit. France, Germany and some of the other European countries have extremely rigid work rules, such as the French requirement that workers not work more than 35 hours weekly, even if they want to, and the almost impossibility of firing workers, no matter how lazy and incompetent. The predictable result is there has been little growth in private-sector employment in these countries -- the U.S., with a smaller population, has created more private sector jobs in the last four years than Europe has in the last 20.We will know the Europeans have finally become serious about stopping the killing of jobs when the European Court of Justice recognizes the restrictive work rules in France, Germany and elsewhere are a denial of the fundamental human right to earn a decent living and work as much as one wishes. But, as the ruling against the British shows, their European neighbors still seem more intent upon killing success than emulating it."

EU-DIGEST editorial comment: Mr. Rahn is comparing apples with pears and seems to believe that if a country does not follow US economic policies it is on the wrong path. Most Europeans and their governments have a completely different interpretation about economics and how it relates to the quality of life on a national scale. The EU has not done too bad so far Mr. Rahn, and we certainly do not want to emulate the US National debt, which now stands at over 8 trillion US dollars and continues to increase an average of $1.58 billion per day. Before you criticize Europe Mr. Kahn, you better clean up your own back yard."

9/21/06

EUobserver.com: One third of Europeans predict Turkey will join EU by 2020 - by Mark Beunderman


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EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A minority of around one third of Europeans believes Turkey and Ukraine will be members of the EU by 2020, a new German study has revealed. But EU citizens believe that by that time, the bloc will have a new treaty. An opinion poll released on Wednesday (20 September) by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German think tank, showed that 37 percent of those surveyed across the EU believe Turkey will have joined the EU in 2020.Almost two thirds of respondents said they believe the EU will have more than 27 member states by the end of the second decade of this century – suggesting that Europeans are more confident about Western Balkan states acceding at some point.

Surprisingly, the French and the Dutch, who rejected the constitution in popular referendums last year, showed above-average optimism, with clear majorities of 57 percent and 50 percent respectively predicting the passage of a constitutional text.

Bloomberg.com: U.S.: Pew Poll Finds Discontent With Bush Means Trouble for Lawmakers


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U.S.: Pew Poll Finds Discontent With Bush Means Trouble for Lawmakers

More than a third of Americans view the November elections as chance to vote against the policies of President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress, a poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press found.Thirty-six percent of those polled said the congressional elections on Nov. 7 will be an opportunity cast a symbolic vote against the president, up from 15 percent before the last mid- term election in 2002, according to the survey by the Washington-base Pew Center.

The poll found an intensifying anti-incumbent mood among voters, with 49 percent of Americans saying they don't want most lawmakers to win re-election. That's an increase from 38 percent who held that view in 2002 and close to the 56 percent that expressed such displeasure with the status quo in Washington in 1994, when Republicans won control from Democrats.

The Raw Story: New member states must speed up spending or lose funding, EU says


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New member states must speed up spending or lose funding, EU says

Brussels- The European Union on Thursday urged its ten new member states to speed up spending EU money or face losing unused funds from 2007. If money available from the 25-member bloc's so-called structural funds is still unspent after two years, it will be automatically cancelled, the European Commission said. The bloc's newcomers are still "gradually catching up," EU Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite warned when presenting the bloc's 2005 financial report.

Last year, the ten countries that joined the EU in May 2004 received 9.1 billion euros (11.57 billion dollar) from EU coffers, 3 billion euros more than in 2004.

Business Day - EU states clash over how to tackle illegal migration


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EU states clash over how to tackle illegal migration

European Union (EU) ministers clashed today over how to stem the swelling tide of African illegal migrants reaching the bloc’s southern shores on rickety boats. More than 24 000 Africans have come ashore in Spain’s Canary Islands this year, about five times the number in the whole of last year. Hundreds and possible thousands more have died on the way, officials say. Others head to Europe through Malta and Italy. "It’s no solution to legalise illegal people as was done by Spain ... because it gives some kind of pull factor to people in Africa, as we unfortunately saw in the last months.

It gives the wrong signal," Austria’s Justice Minister Karin Gastinger said. Spain granted amnesty to some 600 000 illegal migrants last year, a move it contends helped regulate immigration. But Spain was lambasted by many as encouraging illegal migrants to try and reach the EU.

AME Info FN: Euro Rises on Rate Expectations


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Euro Rises on Rate Expectations

After initial adjustment and volatility all the major pairs slowly went bid against the dollar with EUR/USD rising above 1.2735 and GBP/USD hitting 15 day highs at 1.8950 as traders made bets that interest rates spreads between the greenback and its key trading partners will narrow as 2006 comes to a close

In economic news today Euro-zone Current Account deficit widened more than expected as income earnings dropped by 9 Billion euros from 40 Billion to 31 Billion in the month of July. Over the past 12 months EZ Current account deficit has accumulated to more than 40 Billion euro - still a tiny 0.6% of the GDP, but a troublesome trend nevertheless. The news took some steam out of the early morning rally and the pair essentially marked time ahead of the US Open as traders looked to LEI data and Philly Fed numbers for further directional clues.

swissinfo - Romansh struggles with status as fourth Swiss language

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Romansh struggles with status as fourth Swiss language

Romansh, a Latin-based language spoken by a tiny minority of the Swiss population, is one of Switzerland's four national languages. But although Romansh has strong support - on a federal level and in the southeastern canton of Graubünden where it is spoken - the language remains underrepresented in the country as a whole.

For a long time Romansh struggled to be recognised in Switzerland. In 1938 it scored a big triumph when the Swiss population voted to amend the constitution and make it a national language. However, Romansh had to wait until 1996 for official status. As it is only used for dealings with Romansh speakers, it is known as a "partially official" language.

BBC NEWS : Hungary: Political lies -by Mark Mardell

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Hungary: Political lies -by Mark Mardell

Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has come unstuck for telling the truth about lying. He wasn't tricked or trapped. It wasn't a late night ramble to his closest confidant that was caught on tape. Instead his recorded words were from an amazingly honest speech about not telling the truth, to his own party. And while he didn't intend it to get out to a wider public, he knew what he was saying and meant it to shock. He admits that his party has made a mess of Hungary's economy, and that "We lied morning, noon and night". Now the crowds outside his office are saying he's got to go.

The prime minister is not contrite. But his defence explains why people in democracy think politicians lie, and why they are often right. It's because the people who want power don't think the voters are tough enough, mature enough, to take the unvarnished truth.If this is a general dilemma in democracies, it's particularly acute in Eastern Europe. In the last couple of weeks I've been told the same thing in the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. Many who want economic reform think their governments are too lily-livered to push through changes and not honest enough about what they would mean.

9/20/06

ZAMAN DAILY: Popularity of European Right-wing Parties Increases

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Popularity of European Right-wing Parties Increases

The European right-wing parties that are hesitant about Turkey’s E.U. membership continue to gain popularity. In Sweden, the right-wing alliance took power, replacing the decades long Social Democrats-led rule, while the extreme nationalist NDP, accused of racism and instigating violence, succeeded in gaining seats in the German parliament.

In Germany, the rise of the extreme right continues. Extreme rightist NDP, which succeeded in winning nine seats in Saxony State Parliament in 2004, also won seats in Schwerin State Parliament in the elections held on Sunday.

Xinhua - Italian premier Prodi stresses multilateralism, UN's central role


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Italian premier Prodi stresses multilateralism, UN's central role

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Wednesday called on world leaders to embrace multilateralism and let the United Nations play a central role in tackling international controversies. "First and foremost we need to reinvigorate multilateralism, by which I mean restoring the central, fundamental role of the United Nations," Prodi told leaders attending the annual general debate of the 61st General Assembly.

The Italian premier said terrorism and weapons of mass destruction have rendered obsolete systems of collective defense and security based on deterrence. "The old solutions to the world's problems -- the logic of balance and hegemony -- are no longer enough to guarantee stability and security, Prodi said.

JTW News/BBC - Israeli Soldiers trained Kurds


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Israeli Soldiers trained Kurds

Ankara - Kurdish soldiers were secretly trained by former Israeli commandos in northern Iraq to protect a new international airport and in counter-terrorism operations.

The former Israeli soldier, whose name was not disclosed, said he trained more than 100 Kurds in “anti-terror lessons...how to shoot first, how to identify a terrorist in a crowd. That's clearly special assignments.” These Israeli special soldiers entered Iraq from Turkey in 2004 to train two groups of Kurdish troops according to the BBC News.

International Herald Tribune: A struggle over Europe's religious identity - by Tariq Ramadan


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A struggle over Europe's religious identity - by Tariq Ramadan

A few sentences spoken by Pope Benedict XVI were sufficient to touch off a firestorm of impassioned reaction. Throughout the Muslim world, religious leaders, presidents, politicians and intellectuals joined their voices with protesting masses angered by a perceived insult to their faith. Most did not read the pope's speech; others had relied on a sketchy summary according to which the pope had linked Islam and violence. But all railed against what they saw as an intolerable offense. When people are deprived of their basic rights, it costs nothing to allow them to vent their anger over Danish cartoons or the words of the pontiff.

Muslim intellectuals bear the primary responsibility of not lending credibility to this counterproductive game.

As to Europe what they need most today is not a dialogue with other civilizations, but a true dialogue with itself, with those facets of itself that it has for too long refused to recognize, that even today prevent it from fully benefiting from the richness of its constituent religious and philosophical traditions. Europe must learn to reconcile itself with the diversity of its past in order to master the imperative pluralism of its future.

FrontPage magazine.com : Allah's Socialists - by Aaron Hanscom


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Allah's Socialists - by Aaron Hanscom

"Consider the situation in the Netherlands. Just this month a female Muslim teacher was suspended by a school in Amsterdam for refusing to shake hands with men. Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, trying to show his countrymen that dhiminni status is something to be proud of, said in an interview in the recently published book Het land van haat en nijd, (The Land of Hate and Anger) that he is not bothered by Muslims refusing to shake his hand. He also said it was wise for the Queen of the Netherlands not to have insisted that a Muslim leader shake her hand when she visited his mosque in The Hague earlier this year.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos latest idea is even more incredible than Donner’s welcoming of Shari’a law to the Continent. After a visit to Gaza, Moratinos told the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia that “The best response to al-Qaeda is no response, and to keep working towards peace.”

Moratinos and Donner are part of a large group of leftist politicians who—it could be argued—have joined forces with the enemies of the West."2030—then we take over,” reads a popular T-shirt worn by Muslims in Stockholm. Recent comments by European politicians might cause these young Swedes to think about pushing the date forward a couple of decades. Europe, it increasingly appears, is in fact ready to be handed over to radical Muslims without a fight." Comment EU-Digest: the above report in FrontPage shows the tenacity of of the Neocon Press in the US, not much different from that of the Radical Muslim Press.

Independent Online: The big question: Is Europe turning away from the social democrat model? - by Stephen Castle


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Is Europe turning away from the social democrat model? - by Stephen Castle- by Stephen Castle

Sunday's elections in Sweden ended the 10-year premiership of Göran Persson and ushered in a new coalition of centre-right parties led by Fredrik Reinfeldt. The scale of Mr Reinfeldt's achievement should not be underestimated; the Social Democrats have been in power for all but nine years since 1932 and created a welfare state which is the envy of much of Europe.Sweden's vote is a jolt to the parties of the left. During this decade the picture across the continent has been more mixed. Spain and Italy have moved to the left, but Germany and Poland have shifted to the right. The most striking aspect of recent contests is that the voters seem almost split down the middle in most countries.

NIS: Dutch Gloomy On Social Climate


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Dutch Gloomy On Social Climate

THE HAGUE, 19/09/06 - The Dutch are gloomy about the social climate in their country. They are particularly worried about insecurity on the street and in other public places, according to a poll by Newcom Research & Consultancy. Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of those polled consider the social climate in the country has deteriorated in the past three years. Additionally, 52 percent expect it to worsen further in the next three years. Respondents are most worried about safety (crime) on the street (47 percent), the different cultures in society (43 percent), the quality of education (43 percent) and integration of minorities (41 percent). They are least concerned about alcohol abuse (16 percent) and natural disasters (12 percent).

With an eye to upcoming elections, respondents were asked what they considered the political parties find important subjects. Healthcare and social facilities were most often named in this connection (72 and 64 percent respectively). The least important subjects are sports and defense (8 and 5 percent respectively). EU-Digest comment: With military (defense) at the bottom on the Dutch population list of priorities, the Netherlands Government continues a policy of disproportion spending on military activities, such as the participation of the Dutch military in Afghanistan.

Guardian Unlimited: This vision of a good society can lift the nation out of social recession - by Hetan Shah and Jonathan Rutherford


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This vision of a good society can lift the nation out of social recession - by Hetan Shah and Jonathan Rutherford

Many of us have lives of unparalleled social stability and affluence. In the past three decades the size of the Western economy has doubled. Most people own their own homes. Millions take foreign holidays. Music, books and cinema are accessible to the majority. The media and internet provide a wealth of information, knowledge and entertainment. More people study at university than ever. And science is extending the realm of human possibility.

Unfortunately material prosperity has not brought increased satisfaction with life. We have become a more unequal and divided society. Levels of personal debt are unprecedented, and we are time-poor, working long hours either to make ends meet or to buy the ever-changing trappings of success. Alongside economic insecurity a new set of social problems has emerged - widespread mental ill-health, systemic loneliness, growing numbers of psychologically damaged children, eating disorders, obesity, alcoholism and drug addiction. Freedom to shop is poor compensation for the anxiety and insecurity we increasingly feel in our daily lives. The economy may be booming, but we are witnessing a social recession, its symptoms and pain concealed in our private lives. Unless we act now it will turn into a social depression.So far nobody in today's politics is offering a way out.

We need to replace the work ethic with a care ethic. The work ethic assumes individuals are free of each other and entirely self-sufficient. Care underpins our society, and we need it from cradle to grave. The good society would have free social care and universal childcare geared to the needs of children, not just the labour market. We should also protect our weakest workers by raising the minimum wage to a living wage.

We live in a turbulent international system and need to extend progressive principles into global action. This is the age of autonomy. People quite rightly want to become the masters of their own destiny. At the moment all they are offered is the chance of buying their way to happiness. If people want to shape the world around them, in their community and at work, it can only be as active citizens working collectively through a democratised state and civil society to create a different and better world. The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and thereby an influence on public opinion. The good society is a vision for a new kind of politics and it must come before a free market.