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10/31/06

Consortiumnews.com: US ELECTIONS: Al-Qaeda Wants Republicans to Win - by Robert Parry


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US ELECTIONS: Al-Qaeda Wants Republicans to Win - by Robert Parry

George W. Bush’s blunt assertion that a Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 elections means “the terrorists win and America loses” misses the point that Osama bin Laden stands to advance his strategic goals much faster with a Republican victory. Indeed, as U.S. intelligence analysts have come to understand, there is a symbiotic relationship between Bush’s blunderbuss “war on terror” and bin Laden’s ruthless strategy of terrorist violence – one helping the other. Last April, a National Intelligence Estimate, representing the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, concluded that Bush’s Iraq War had become the “cause celebre” that had helped spread Islamic extremism around the globe.

In June, U.S. intelligence also learned from an intercepted al-Qaeda communiqué that bin Laden’s terrorist band wants to keep U.S. soldiers bogged down in Iraq as the best way to maintain and expand al-Qaeda’s influence.

Mosnews: Russia to Sell Sophisticated Tor-M1 Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Iran

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Russia to Sell Sophisticated Tor-M1 Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Iran

Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov Friday reiterated Moscow’s commitment to supply Iran with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, Interfax news agency reported. “If there are no extraordinary circumstances, it (the contract) will without doubt be fulfilled,” Ivanov was quoted as saying. Defense Ministry officials have previously said Moscow would supply 29 sophisticated Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran under a ˆ546.5m contract, according to Russian media reports.

The move was likely to upset the United States, which last month called on all countries to stop all arms exports to Iran and to end all nuclear cooperation with it to put pressure on Tehran to halt uranium enrichment activities, AP added.

Forbes.com: Halloween Declared Dead In France - Parmy Olson


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Halloween Declared Dead In France - Parmy Olson

The major dailies Le Monde and Le Parisien reported on Tuesday that following some short-lived popularity, the Halloween holiday has been "pretty much buried." The reasons seem to be a mixture of falling sales and anti-Americanism. Perchance a smattering of protectionism too. "Our Halloween sales have been falling by half every year since 2002," Le Monde quoted toy retailer La Grande Recre as saying.

"Non a Halloween," a French group set up to stop to trend, has even disbanded, its mission deemed complete. It seems the boycott of this thoroughly commercialized, Americanized event, and entreaty for people to refuse to enjoy it, has worked.

Gulf Times – EU tells Israel to stop its jets flying over Lebanon

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EU tells Israel to stop its jets flying over Lebanon

The European Union’s foreign policy chief said yesterday he had told Israel to stop its jets flying over Lebanon, echoing an earlier call by France. "I’m coming from Israel to tell you that I talked with the prime minister (Ehud Olmert), I talked with the minister of defence (Amir Peretz) and made very, very clear ... that this has to stop," Javier Solana told reporters at a news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. "We want to have (UN) Resolution 1701 applied by everybody." French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said last week that Israel’s violations of Lebanese airspace were "extremely dangerous" and the flights should stop immediately.

Israel later said its combat planes would continue to fly over Lebanon. Jerusalem also announced that if UNIFIL fires on Israel's flights then Israel will bombard UNIFIL headquarters in south Lebanon.

Environment News Service: European Commission Proposes Ban on EU Mercury Exports

Commissioner Stavros Dimas
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European Commission Proposes Ban on EU Mercury Exports

The European Commission has proposed legislation to ban all European Union exports of mercury from 2011. The ban forms a key part of the EU's strategy for reducing global exposure to mercury, which is toxic to humans and the environment. The export ban is expected to reduce global supply and emissions of the heavy metal into the environment.The proposed regulation would ban mercury exports from the EU from July 1, 2011. From the same date, mercury no longer used in the chlor-alkali industry as well as mercury gained from the purification of natural gas or production of non-ferrous metals would have to be safely stored, possibly in underground salt mines adapted for waste disposal.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said, "This proposal underlines the Commission's determination to protect people and the environment from exposure to this highly toxic metal. In banning exports of mercury and requiring its safe storage, the EU will be setting an example for global action to reduce emissions. I urge other countries to support moves towards a worldwide agreement."

Chron.com: October: 103 US troops die in Iraq


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October: 103 US troops die in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A car bomb killed three people and wounded five others in Baghdad's Sadr City section early Tuesday, a day after a bombing killed at least 33 people in the overwhelmingly Shiite neighborhood.

The U.S. military announced the deaths of two soldiers, raising the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq fighting this month to 103.

More than 600,000 Iraqis have died by violence since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to a study released last Wednesday by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The figure is based on surveys of households throughout most of the country. It vastly exceeds estimates cited by the Iraqi government, the United Nations, aid and anti-war groups, and President Bush.

JTW News - Bulgaria's pro-EU president wins 2nd term

President Georgi Parvanov
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Bulgaria's pro-EU president wins 2nd term

Bulgaria's pro-Western president won an easy victory in a runoff election against a maverick ultranationalist who criticized his successful effort to lead the former communist nation into the European Union, official results showed Monday.

Georgi Parvanov won nearly 76 percent of the vote in Sunday's second-round ballot, a massive victory over his rival, Volen Siderov, who had just over 24 percent, according to figures announced by the Central Election Commission after 99 percent of the vote had been tallied.

The New Republican: Why France shouldn't legislate Turkey's history - by Philip H. Gordon & Omer Taspinar


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Why France shouldn't legislate Turkey's history - by Philip H. Gordon & Omer Taspinar

"As European nations debate the idea of accepting Turkey into their ranks, vestiges of the country's authoritarian nationalism--particularly its tendency to constrain free speech in the name of national honor and unity--have antagonized proponents of the European Union's accepted liberal values. The French parliament's vote is a dangerous step down a slippery slope. If it is a crime to disagree that what happened to Armenians 90 years ago should be considered genocide, why stop there? Shouldn't it be a crime to minimize the impact of other historical tragedies, such as colonialism or the slave trade? Should the Turkish parliament pass a law making it a criminal offense to deny that France practiced torture in Algeria or that a million Muslims were killed there? Should African governments make it illegal to deny that genocide took place in Rwanda? Once you go down that road, it is hard to see where the line should be drawn.

Indeed, the new French legislation is just the latest illiberal policy in Europe masquerading as liberalism. Since the end of World War II, a number of European countries, including Germany, Austria, and France, have passed laws against Holocaust denial. Proponents of the laws argue that they allow these nations to atone politically for their past sins, while working to ensure that Holocaust deniers could not foster the same sort of anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust in the first place. Now, however, they could also serve as inspiration to scores of different ethnic and religious groups that wish to win legal acknowledgement of their own past suffering and historical grievances, as the Armenians have. But parliaments across Europe would be better off taking the current legislation off the books than giving equal treatment to every group's claims. Do we really want the government to start deciding that some historical views are acceptable but others merit prison sentences?"

EUobserver.com: UK 'doomsday' report pushes EU on climate change- by Helena Spongenberg


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UK 'doomsday' report pushes EU on climate change- by Helena Spongenberg

BRUSSELS – The European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) should be expanded on a global scale, according to a landmark UK report on the costs of climate change that also calls on the world to act now or face dire consequences. "The EU emissions trading scheme is leading the way," said the report's author Sir Nicholas Stern at the launch of the 'Stern review on the economics of climate change' in London on Monday (30 October).

According to the report, business as usual will in the worst case scenario cost the world €5.5 trillion – or up to 20 percent of the global economy, it will make at least 200 million people "climate change refugees" and will make around 40 percent of the globe's animals extinct.The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, on Monday welcomed the report and said "the EU has and will continue to take a lead in the fight against climate change."

10/30/06

Bloomberg.com: Little Faith in Merkel Coalition to Solve Problems, Poll Shows - by Rainer Buergin


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Little Faith in Merkel Coalition to Solve Problems, Poll Shows - by Rainer Buergin

Just three in every 10 German voters says Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government will manage to solve the country's biggest problems, including a revamp of its ailing health-care and social-welfare systems, a poll showed. Seventy-two percent of respondents to a poll by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for ZDF television today said the government is incapable of solving major problems in general, while 88 percent said health-care changes agreed Oct. 5 won't stand the test of time. Seventy-three percent said new rules for the long-term jobless, agreed under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, have not been successful, the poll showed.

Merkel doesn't have the full support of her Christian Democratic Union, 69 percent of respondents said, up from 65 percent in August. That's more than double the 31 percent who said Social Democratic Party chairman Kurt Beck doesn't enjoy his party's full backing, 10 percentage points less than in August.

Ferghana.Ru: The European Union may offer Uzbekistan friendship in exchange for energy resources


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The European Union may offer Uzbekistan friendship in exchange for energy resources

"The pressure Russia is applying [to European countries] in the energy sphere is upsetting. The European Union is on a lookout for other sources of power and alternative oil and gas routes. I'd say it is a correct thing to do. Doing something else will be a mistake of the magnitude that permits mistakes like that to be made only once a century. This mistake will be fatal," Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek announced at the EU Energy Forum in Prague on October 23-24, 2006. As far as the Czech premier is concerned, Russia is using oil and gas as an instrument in its geopolitical games. Topolanek's statement does not really surprise the analysts that keep an eye on the EU policy. Determined to lessen its dependence on Russia in the energy sphere, the EU has been studying expansion of its clout with the Caucasus and Central Asia. Europe takes vivid interest in Central Asia as a potential store of energy resources. The road to Central Asian energy resources goes via Uzbekistan, a country that wields considerable influence with the region because Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan depend on it for gas and oil. In fact, some analysts suspect that Uzbekistan wields clout even with Turkmenistan.

Experts predict therefore that the EU will reconsider the sanctions against Uzbekistan.

The Peninsula On-line: Europe looks to Norway for gas supplies

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Europe looks to Norway for gas supplies

oslo • Faced with rising demand for energy and keen to reduce their dependency on Russian gas supplies, European countries are greedily eyeing Norway’s natural gas, available to the continent through a burgeoning web of pipelines. In the past six years, Norway has practically doubled its annual gas exports to 90 billion cubic meters (3,178.3 billion cubic feet), making it the second biggest supplier to the European Union with a 16 per cent market share. Earlier this month the world’s longest underwater gas pipeline was opened, linking Norway and Britain. The gas pumped through the Langeled pipeline will cover up to 20 per cent of Britain’s needs in coming years.

The Scandinavian country already supplies 30 per cent of France’s needs and 25 per cent of Germany’s.

Market Watch: European Union extends antidumping duties on U.S. ethanol imports


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European Union extends antidumping duties on U.S. ethanol imports

European Union extends antidumping duties on U.S. ethanol imports

The European Union has extended antidumping duties on ethanol imports from three U.S. companies for two years, the Official Journal reported Wednesday.
The three companies are Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), Huntsman Corp. (HUN) and the U.S. division of INEOS PLC. Dow must pay EUR59.25/ton, INEOS EUR69.40/ton and Huntsman EUR11.25/ton.

Antidumping duties on the three companies were first imposed in 1995. E.U. regulators said U.S. prices on ethanol products were higher than E.U. prices and that U.S. producers were dumping excess production in Europe.

Google blogger service outages spark user firestorm - Internet - www.itnews.com.au

Google blogger service outages spark user firestorm - Internet - www.itnews.com.au

Please accept our apologies for not receiving you daily EU-Digest news reports. The Google Blogger technical services we use for the publishing of our EU-Digest News reports through our own FTP have been abysmal for the past days and the consequent delays have been completely beyond our control. We are working at solving these technical problems and will keep you informed.

IHT: Now playing in Europe: The future of Detroit's cars - by Micheline Maynard

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The future of Detroit's cars - by Micheline Maynard

Walk inside the five-year-old Toyota factory here, an hour's drive from the Belgian border, and step into a world stuck on fast-forward. Yellow forklifts speed down aisles bearing fresh supplies of parts, forcing visitors to flatten themselves against the concrete walls. By contrast, the atmosphere at BMW's plant in Leipzig, Germany, is more refined. Its soaring gray and silver factory, designed two years ago by the architect Zaha Hadid, is the equivalent of automaking by Armani.

Industry executives and experts have been puzzling over what will become of General Motors, Ford Motor and the Chrysler Group. One potential answer is total disaster, with the Detroit automakers vanquished by their Asian and European rivals. This is an option that only those with a doomsday complex believe, given the Detroit companies' billions in cash and broad infrastructure. Another potential outcome is that the Big Three vanquish the competition to again rule American roads, a prospect that has faded in 30 years of fighting the imports and is even more improbable now that foreign companies hold nearly half of the market.

People's Daily Online - French girl crowned Miss Europe


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French girl crowned Miss Europe

Alexandra Rosenfeld of France was crowned Miss Europe 2006 during the pageant in Kiev October 27, 2006.

10/29/06

KRT Wire: U.S. digs for vote-machine links to Hugo Chavez and the Netherlands


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U.S. digs for vote-machine links to Hugo Chavez and the Netherlands

MIAMI - In the debate about the reliability of electronic voting technology, the South Florida parent company of one of the nation's leading suppliers of touch-screen voting machines is drawing special scrutiny from the U.S. government. Federal officials are investigating whether Smartmatic, owner of Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, is secretly controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to two people familiar with the probe.

Smartmatic's corporate papers, obtained in Curacao by The Miami Herald, reveal a convoluted trail of companies incorporated abroad and operating through dozens of proxy holders - a structure seemingly designed to cloak the true owners.

However, business records obtained by The Miami Herald in Willemstad's commercial registry provide no evidence of any Venezuelan government official or agency as director, associate, employee or proxy. What the records do show is the circuitous ownership structure with a paper trail leading from Willemstad to Amsterdam to Caracas to Delaware and then to Boca Raton and Oakland, Calif.Curacao records show that Smartmatic International Group has three statutory directors: Pinate and two companies - Curacao Corporation Co. and Netherlands Antilles Corporation Co. Curacao business records also show that the two statutory director companies have 28 ''proxy holders,'' all employees of Curacao International Trust Co. CITCO is an old Dutch financial services firm based in the building Smartmatic lists as its Curacao address. CITCO specializes in financial services for wealthy clients who seek confidentiality.

Smartmatic's Amsterdam address is also CITCO.

Jamaica Gleaner News - EU relations with Caribbean - A new Caribbean economy beckons

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EU relations with Caribbean - A new Caribbean economy beckons

Late last November when Commonwealth leaders met in Malta, a blunt exchange took place between Caribbean heads of government and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

It reflected a sense, then preva-lent across the region, that the United Kingdom could have done more with its European Union (EU) counterparts to ameliorate the impact of the European Commission's (EC) proposal to cut the price of sugar by 36 per cent over three years. More generally, the anger reflected a pent up sense that Britain had lost all interest in the region.

In most respects, this was based on an unrealistic assumption about the extent of Britain's interests in the Caribbean and London's ability to obtain support for its views in an enlarged Europe.

RNW: Long live the Netherlands - let's deal with the problems - by Marcel Decraene


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Long live the Netherlands - let's deal with the problems - by Marcel Decraene

A new book by Dutch journalist Charles Groenhuijsen entitled 'Long live the Netherlands' (Leve Nederland) has been described by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende as one of "hope, perspective and the future". The author himself says it's a book about "dreamers and go-getters, leaders and innovators, heroes and idealists". The presentation of the book in The Hague on Thursday provided a somewhat remarkable scene in the midst of the current Dutch election campaign inasmuch as the Christian Democrat party leader - and current prime minister - Jan Peter Balkenende and opposition Labour Party leader Wouter Bos both attended, were sat next to each other and seemed to be getting on well. Indeed, Charles Groenhuijsen succeeded in getting the two political leaders to be present to receive the first two copies of his new book.

Charles Groenhuijsen - for many years the Washington correspondent for Dutch public broadcaster NOS - began writing Leve Nederland after returning to his native country. His previous book 'Americans aren't crazy' (Amerikanen zijn niet gek) - based on his many years living and working in the United States - proved to be a major bestseller.

BBC NEWS: Blogs - the new diplomacy? - Paul Reynolds

Jan Pronk exposes Sudanese Government atrocities on his blog
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Blogs - the new diplomacy? - Paul Reynolds

The attack on the government of Sudan by the UN's envoy Jan Pronk has perhaps pointed the way to a new kind of direct diplomacy - the diplomat's blog. Mr Pronk was expelled from Sudan after government anger at comments he made on his personal website. The government accused him of "psychological warfare" after he wrote that government forces had suffered two defeats in Darfur and that it had broken Security Council resolutions.
The former Dutch cabinet minister is no stranger to controversy but his use of the internet to publicise his views is new and daring in diplomacy, which traditionally favours discretion.

His blog was startlingly detailed, the kind of information that is normally sent back, encoded, only to national capitals. Sometimes in a one-on-one talk, a journalist can get something similar from a lively envoy, but to get it in the raw on the internet is an innovation.

Cash remains king in Europe, says study

Turkish Daily News Oct 29, 2006

"Cash remains king in Europe, says study
Sunday, October 29, 2006

LONDON - Reuters

Cash is still king for the majority of Europeans -- including Britons -- a study showed.

Some 62 percent of Europeans, equivalent to 129 million adults, want to keep cash, according to a study by the European Security Transport Association (ESTA).

Those in the Netherlands, the U.K. and France were found to be most strongly in favor of retaining cash: 75 percent, 74 percent and 70 percent respectively would not want to see it abolished, despite the rise of electronic payments. "

10/28/06

Angus Reid Global Monitor: Dutch Labour Party slipping in Polls - Christian Democrats Lead Labour in Dutch Ballot

Dutch Labour Leader Wouter Bos slipping in polls
For the complete report in the Angus Reid Global Monitor click on this link

Dutch Labor Party slipping in Polls - Christian Democrats Lead Labour in Dutch Ballot

The governing Christian-Democratic Appeal (CDA) is holding on to the top spot in the Netherlands, according to a poll by Maurice de Hond. The survey suggests that the CDA, led by current minister president Jan Peter Balkenende, would secure 45 mandates in this year’s election to the Second Chamber. The opposition Labour Party (PvdA) of Wouter Bos is second with 43 seats, followed by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) with 25 seats, and the Socialist Party (SP) with 15 seats. Six other political organizations would send legislators to the Second Chamber.

The poll shows a two-seat gain for the CDA in a week, while support for the VVD and the SP fell by two mandates.

On Oct. 20, Balkenende called on all of the country’s residents to be tolerant of the way Muslims dress, declaring, "It’s not a very sensitive issue at the moment. The only thing we say is: if you have responsibilities, if you have to wear a uniform, then you cannot do it. But I think it’s important we give people room to dress whatever way they like. In terms of what people wear, Muslims do of course have their own clothing and I think you have to respect that." On Jul. 5, the legislative election was scheduled for Nov. 22. In the period leading up to the ballot, Balkenende will lead a minority government.

The Economist: Strategy in Iraq - Coming to the end of options


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Strategy in Iraq - Coming to the end of options

A MAN walks up to a shrub and asks: “So, what's our exit strategy from Iraq?” The voice-over intones: “OK, it's kind of ridiculous to think you're ever going to get an answer from this bush.” A picture of the president appears on the screen. The voice-over continues: “But it's also kind of ridiculous to think you're going to get an answer from this one.” Amid the hubbub of an American election campaign, the loudest voices discussing Iraq are rarely the most constructive. Democratic ads linger over the graves of American soldiers. Republican spots feature the sound of a ticking bomb and a quote from Osama bin Laden about every Muslim's sacred duty to kill Americans.

The lone oasis of stability in Iraq remains the predominantly Kurdish north, now seeing an economic boom as Iraqi business relocates to its relative peace and security. Kurds there frequently grumble about corruption and administrative lethargy on the part of their government, formed by two rival former guerrilla movements, but still consider themselves fortunate compared with the rest of the country. They are particularly proud of their government's decision to bring in foreign companies, over Baghdad's objections, to explore local oilfields. This, they feel, may lay the groundwork for financial independence and secession. The north may not be quite as tranquil next year, however. Kurdish leaders say that they are still on track for a December 2007 referendum in which the province of Kirkuk and other “disputed territories” will vote on whether they will join the Kurdistan autonomous region. Kurds now think that their compatriots and allies have enough of a majority to win the referendum, but the region is still occupied by hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs, Turkish-speakers and Shias, some of whom will strongly resist incorporation into Kurdistan.

The Business - Putin's Power Play - by Richard Orange & James Forsyth


For the complete report in the Global Business News Online click on this link

Putin's Power Play - by Richard Orange & James Forsyth

When a 32-year-old KGB agent called Vladimir Putin was invited to attend the Red Banner Institute in Moscow, one of the Soviet Union’s elite spy colleges, he couldn’t believe his luck.

It was 1984 and the young but deeply ambitious Putin was soon being groomed as a specialist in economic and technological espionage. His teachers were still revelling in a now long-forgotten victory over America: gas was flowing from a brand new Russian pipeline to Western Germany, earning much needed hard cash, despite a lengthy campaign by President Ronald Reagan to block its construction with sanctions.

The pipeline came too late for the Soviets but Putin never forgot what he was taught in Moscow: Russia’s massive energy resources are a powerful weapon in the global power stakes. He reheated the idea in 1997 when he wrote an influential article for a Russian journal recommending that Russia regain control of its energy industry; now, at the height of his powers as President of Russia, he is busily putting his old plans into practice. In doing so this veteran Cold War warrior is waging a new Cold War, as was all too apparent from a disastrous meeting with European ministers last week, though this time Russian power – and the threat that goes with it – is dependent not on Marxism or missiles but on oil and gas. Note EU-Digest: the EU must become more innovative in developing new energy technologies at a faster pace and for the interim negotiate bi-lateral agreements with other major natural gas suppliers such as Venezuela and Iran.

Xinhua - EU unveils strategy against alcohol abuse


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EU unveils strategy against alcohol abuse

EU unveils strategy against alcohol abuse

The European Union (EU) on Tuesday unveiled its new strategy to tackle alcohol abuse, highlighting what need to be done to protect the young and to reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents. The policy paper, adopted by the EU's executive European Commission on Tuesday, sets out five priorities in the fight against excessive alcohol drinking, which causes an estimated 195,000 deaths a year in the EU. The priorities are: to protect young people and children; reduce injuries and deaths from alcohol-related road accidents; prevent harm among adults and reduce the negative impact on the economy; raise awareness of the impact on health of harmful alcohol consumption; and help gather reliable statistics.

Iraq News: Italy to sell Lebanon ground-to-air Aster 15 missiles


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Italy to sell Lebanon ground-to-air Aster 15 missiles

Italy to sell Lebanon ground-to-air Aster 15 missiles/Italian opposition questions gov. on alleged sale of missiles to Lebanon

According to DEBKAfile’s Rome sources, prime minister Romano Prodi has instructed his defense ministry to negotiate with the Fouad Siniora government the quick sale of an Aster 15 battery, the only Western surface-to-air missile with an active guidance system capable of last-minute corrections of targeting at the moment of interception. As a joint Franco-Italian product, the sale also needed - and obtained - approval from French president Jacques Chirac. Iraq news sources report the Aster 15 will be accompanied by Italian instructors to guide Lebanese troops in their use. Since 50% of those officers are Shiites loyal to Hizballah or Amal, the Shiite terrorists are looking forward to gaining access for the first time to top-of-the-line Western anti-air missile technology. On Oct. 13, Lebanese chief of staff General Michel Suleiman informed his officers posted on the Lebanese-Israeli border of the Beirut government’s “indefatigable efforts” to obtain anti-air missiles to hit patrolling Israeli aircraft. He added that very soon, Lebanon would also acquire long-range anti-tank rockets to prevent Israeli tanks again crossing the border. Commanders of the French UNIFIL contingent have threatened to fire on Israeli warplanes in Lebanese skies, according to Israel defense minister Amir Peretz in a briefing to a Knesset panel Monday, Oct. 16. Note EU-Digest: Israel must be made to understand that the cease fire regulations also pertain to Israel and UNIFIL must be able to inforce the UN Resolution 1701.

Report: Germany Suspected US Prison Abuse Early in Balkans


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Germany Suspected US Prison Abuse Early in Balkans

Blood-smeared documents, prisoners apparently tortured -- according to a German weekly news magazine, German officials had early knowledge that terror suspects were allegedly mistreated at a US base in Bosnia. German authorities learned a few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that terror suspects were allegedly held and mistreated at a US base in Bosnia, the German news weekly stern reported. During a visit to the US military base in Tuzla, in northeastern Bosnia, two officers from Germany's federal police (BKA) and a translator for the German foreign intelligence service (BND) discovered that suspects held there were beaten savagely, the magazine said in an early extract from its edition that is set to come out on Thursday.

Information Clearing House: IRAQ: Perception Management - -by Stan Goff


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IRAQ: Perception Management - by Stan Goff

The daily drip, drip, drip of horror, including the body bags and amputations and burns and psychic dislocations, is hitting a callus on our collective consciousness. We have come to protect ourselves with numerality, that mathematical reduction of human suffering that allows us to nurture the fantasy that this brutality is not irrevocable, that we are not silent or at least acquiescent alongside these sadistic and unnecessary inflictions ... or that they are not happening to real people like us, who themselves do not want the one and only life given to each to be lived in a state of pain, terror and grief.


Every time I see one of those insipid yellow-ribbon magnets now, I think of Charlie Anderson, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “I just want to ask those people,” says Anderson, referring to those who display the yellow-ribbon magnets, “when is the last time you wrote one of those soldiers? How many of them do you actually know? How many have really asked us, what did you do there? I wanna tell them, we don’t need your fucking ribbons. We need help and jobs.”

10/27/06

Seattlepi.com: Airbus picks up 235 jet orders - by James Wallace


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Airbus picks up 235 jet orders - by James Wallace

With time running out this year to beat The Boeing Co. and keep the jetliner order crown that it has owned since 2001, Airbus pulled a rabbit out of its hat.

Airbus announced orders and commitments for 235 planes -- 170 for airlines in China, where Airbus said it will establish its first airplane assembly plant outside of Europe. The European company also received an order for 65 jets from Skybus Airlines.

globeandmail.com: Baffling labels cut sales of European wines — even in Europe


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Baffling labels cut sales of European wines — even in Europe

European winemakers are losing customers at French sidewalk cafes and Italian dinner tables, and the EU's top farm official has a drop of advice: Stop confusing wine drinkers. European wines have a dizzying number of classifications, with many designated by whether the grape is grown on the left or right bank of a river, or to the east or west of a particular estate. But wine drinkers in Europe are turning up their noses at Pauillacs and Pomerols in favour of American, South African and Australian wines with simple, easy-to-understand labels.

Experts predict that if current trends persist, Europe will soon become a net importer of wine.

EU countries have agreed that a profound reform of the continent's wine industry is needed, but still bicker on ways to achieve it. For example, there is still fundamental disagreement between sunny southern member states and colder northern ones on whether adding sugar to a wine should be allowed. Many northern countries, because of a lack of sun, use extra sugar to produce high-quality wines. “We need to improve competitively and need to get out of a situation that wine from third countries gets a better foothold in European markets,” said Finland's Agriculture Minister Juha Korkeaoja, who chaired the meeting in Luxembourg.

Wine reform will be taken up again by the European Parliament before EU member states look to reach a full agreement next year.

The Globalist: Like Crabs in a Bucket - by Raghuram G. Rajan

For the complete report in The Globalist click on this link

Like Crabs in a Bucket - by Raghuram G. Rajan

Why do poor countries remain stubbornly underdeveloped? Growing consensus indicates that poor countries lack the necessary institutions — or worse, have the wrong institutions for economic growth. The IMF's Raghuram Rajan argues that citizens in poor countries all too often become like crabs in a bucket — preventing each other from getting out.

It seems that reforms reducing inequalities in factor endowments — like land — and those improving access to education and finance can strengthen the constituencies for broader economic liberalization.

The Guardian: Blair-Bush ties hamper Europe, says Schröder - by Jes Smee

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Blair-Bush ties hamper Europe, says Schröder - by Jes Smee

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder has written a damning critique of Tony Blair's special relationship with the United States, saying it hampered Britain's links with Europe.In his memoirs, Decisions: My Life in Politics, which were launched yesterday, Mr Schröder examines Mr Blair's relationship with George Bush and attempts to divine the motivation behind it. "The British special relationship to America weighs on the European-focused future of the country," he writes. "More than others, Britain is prepared to anticipate American wishes and turn them into European political issues.

"I don't rule out that [Mr Blair's] stance could have been motivated by internal politics, driven by the aim of winning British-US relations back from the Conservatives, who made it their terrain during the Thatcher-Reagan era", Mr Schröder said.

TODAYonline: China must act on rights for sake of economy: EU trade chief


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China must act on rights for sake of economy: EU trade chief

China needs to improve civil liberties if it wants to maintain a high rate of economic growth, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has said. "I believe that if China wants to have sustainable economic growth it must take steps to increase the freedoms and the creativity of its people," he told daily business newspaper Diario Economico. The former British cabinet minister also called on China to do more to reduce barriers to the entry of overseas investors and exporters to its market.

"If Peking wants its partners to maintain their openness to China, it must adopt reciprocal measures," he said.With a national economic output of 2.26 trillion US dollars (1.79 trillion euros), China's economy earlier this year became the world's fourth-largest economy, after that of the United States, Japan and Germany. Earlier this month China's central bank estimated that the nation's economy should grow by 10.5 percent this year, after expanding 10.2 percent in 2005.

China needs to improve civil liberties if it wants to maintain a high rate of economic growth, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has said.

Yahoo News: Israel, Germany at odds over Lebanon air incident


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Israel, Germany at odds over Lebanon air incident

Israel denied a German newspaper report on Wednesday that two of its air force planes had fired twice as they flew over a German navy vessel patrolling the Lebanon coast. However, Germany's Defense Ministry said an incident had occurred, without giving details. The German daily Der Tagesspiegel quoted a German junior defense minister as telling a parliamentary committee two Israeli F-16 fighters had flown low over the ship, firing twice.

Germany assumed command of a
United Nations naval force off Lebanon 10 days ago, and has sent eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region.In another incident described by the television station, jets deployed anti-missile chaff off the Lebanese coast. This may have been detected by the German navy, Channel Two said.

10/26/06

Telegraph: Not too much sex please, we are still British you know

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Not too much sex please, we are still British you know

One in eight women between the ages of 16 and 50 in Britain had no sex in the past year while the vast majority had only one partner, says a new report which paints Britain as a largely monogamous if not "sexless" society.The portrait of Britain's attitude towards sex and relationships was revealed by compelling socio-cultural data from the Office for National Statistics.

Dr Edward Morris, a consultant gynaecologist at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, said Britain was behind the rest of Europe in terms of frequency of sexual activity. "It may be a cultural thing but it's not necessarily how often you are having intercourse but how good it is. Brits tend to survive more on companionship in relationships rather than a very active sex life.

Chicago Tribune: USA - Economic outlook isn't quite so rosy as Bush says it is - by Molly Ivins

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USA - Economic outlook isn't quite so rosy as Bush says it is - by Molly Ivins

When Bush took over in 2001, he had predicted a surplus of $516 billion for fiscal year 2006. Last week, the administration announced a 2006 deficit of $248 billion, missing its projection for this year by $764 billion. Bush said the numbers are "proof that pro-growth economic policies work" and are "an example of sound fiscal policies here in Washington." This is highly reminiscent of Vice President Dick Cheney's recent observation about the Iraqi government: "If you look at the general overall situation, they're doing remarkably well." If Bush manages to make the tax cuts permanent, it will add more than $3 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years. The budget would be virtually in balance if there had been no tax cuts.

Meanwhile, what we see in the economy as a whole is an immense shift of wealth from the poor and middle class to the very rich. It seems a little painful to have to point this out yet again after six solid years of it, but these are lies, damn lies and statistics."

Xinhua - China, Airbus sign deal for 170 Airbus planes


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China, Airbus sign deal for 170 Airbus planes

BEIJING, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- China and European Aircraft giant Airbus Thursday signed a framework agreement and a letter of intent for 150 Airbus A320 aircrafts and 20 Airbus A350 airplanes. The agreement and letter of intent were signed by Airbus President and CEO Louis Gallois and Li Hai, general manager of the China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group Corp. It represents the largest deal in the history of the Chinese aviation industry.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and visiting French President Jacques Chirac attended the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

TimesOnLine: A black and white view of immigrants from Eastern Europe - Carl Mortished

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How many is too many? The British Home Office has been grappling with this nettle for many months and yesterday John Reid, the Home Secretary, finally came to a decision about European migration. Mr Reid decided that Bulgarians and Romanians who join the European Union are too many. We are replete of Estonians, Hungarians, Poles and the other seven nationalities that joined the European Union in 2004. Workers from the two nations that join next year will therefore represent a surfeit and Bulgarian and Romanian jobseekers are to be controlled by quotas.

Why is Mr Reid so fearful of Romanians and Bulgarians? Past experience of European migrants has been good. Britain absorbed the last wave of migrants with aplomb; Polish labour is fuelling the building trade in the South East, barely keeping a lid on construction costs while the great Olympic white elephant in East London hoovers up every spare electrician and welder. Moreover, these immigrants from the East are easily absorbed, learn English quickly and pass unnoticed. They don’t seem to want to kill us and they work like Trojans for whatever money they can get. Here is Mr Reid’s problem. The new Europeans represent competition for Britons seeking unskilled or semi-skilled jobs. And it is black and brown Britons that are particularly threatened by the pale-skinned workers from the Baltic and Black Sea. Unemployment among ethnic minorities in Britain is disproportionately high.

10/25/06

About the identity of Europe : why it is a problem ?

[Turquie Européenne]:

"About the identity of Europe : why it is a problem ?
Hans-Peter Geissen
le Wednesday 25 October 2006 - 25/10/2006

Certainly, we may assume that everybody who speaks about Europe knows that “Erep” is an ancient Syrian (Semitic) term meaning sunset, or west; and that its opposite is “Assu”, the sunrise, or east.

- Hans-Peter Geissen lives in Koblenz (Germany), at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Interested in all what concerns faunistics (data about animal species) of the Midrhine region, he is the author of many scientific publications on these issues. He bent on the Turkish issue with a very specific approach so as 'to prevent a self-definition of Europe on the grounds of historical or religious mythologies.'"

EU focus on China


theparliament.com

"EU focus on China

The Times writes that the European commission has identified China as the single most important challenge for trade policy.

Yesterday trade commissioner Mandelson unveiled a strategy to develop EU-China ties despite recent disputes over shoes and textile tariffs.

FT Europe say campaigners have criticised Mandelson for overlooking human rights."

Finnish experts see problems in cooperation between EU and NATO


Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Foreign

"Finnish experts see problems in cooperation between EU and NATO
France favours EU orientation, while UK leans on NATO

According to a number of Finnish experts, there are serious problems in cooperation between the Brussels headquarters of the European Union and that of NATO.
'The fact is that cooperation is not working', said Finnish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary of State Markus Lyra on Tuesday.
Lyra was speaking at an event organised by Europe Information, marking the publication of a book Yhteisten arvojen puolesta? Suomi ja EU:n kriisihallinta ('On Behalf of Common Values? Finland and EU Crisis Management').
in recent years the EU has worked to develop its defence policy, and has increased its crisis management operations."

NewsRoom Finland: Finland's Greens propose lower rates for long-distance rail travel

Helsinki - photo Matti Hurme
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Finland's Greens propose lower rates for long-distance rail travel

Finland's Greens published their alternative to the state budget for 2007 on Wednesday, including a proposal to reduce the price of tickets for long-distance rail travel by 10 per cent. Such a move would be funded through state-collected tax revenue. The Greens also propose increases in taxation on alcohol and tobacco, as well as waste tax. The party would increase the funds allocated for municipal services and a number of welfare benefits.

Thanh Nien Daily/Vietnam: Czech Republic financial group seeks establishment in Vietnam

Hanoi ---->>
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Czech Republic financial group seeks establishment in Vietnam

The Czech Republic-based financial group Prvni Privatizacni Fund (PPF) is seeking permission from the central bank to set up a wholly foreign-invested financial firm in Vietnam. A PPF representative said one of crucial fields the firm targeted to develop in Vietnam was credit loans and deferred payment services. Additionally, PPF would facilitate Vietnamese institutes, individuals and enterprises in international banking payments.

PPF is the strongest financial group in the Czech Republic, with assets of more than US$4.1 billion, focusing on finance, banking and insurance. PPF also has a presence in Slovakia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and China, and is eyeing expansion in Ukraine and some of the Balkan nations.

BBC NEWS: France accused on Rwanda killings


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France accused on Rwanda killings

A former senior Rwandan diplomat has told a tribunal that France played an active role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Former Rwandan ambassador to Paris Jacques Bihozagara said French involvement stemmed from concerns about its diminishing influence in Africa.

France has denied playing any role in the 100-day frenzy of killing in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.

Caribbean Net News: Dutch hold Bermuda-based tycoon longer in money laundering probe

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Dutch hold Bermuda-based tycoon longer in money laundering probe

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (Reuters): A court has allowed Dutch authorities to hold a Dutch businessman and oil tycoon for 14 days for questioning about money laundering and other illicit activities, a prosecution spokeswoman said on Tuesday.John Deuss, 64, once considered one of the world's most important independent oil traders, arrived in the Netherlands on Friday and was arrested by Dutch police. Last week Bermudan authorities arrested Deuss and then released him on $10 million bail. A source close to Deuss said he would leave Bermuda voluntarily to hand himself over to Dutch authorities, who had issued a warrant for his arrest.

The warrant sought his extradition for questioning about alleged handling of stolen property, money laundering, and belonging to a criminal organisation.Deuss supplied the South African apartheid government with oil in the 1980s. He has also traded in Russian oil, before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Deuss stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of Bermuda Commercial Bank last month after it became public that the bank's leading shareholder, First Curacao International Bank, was being investigated for money laundering by regulators in the Netherlands and on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao.

First Curacao International is wholly owned by Deuss, who has had a home in Bermuda for about 30 years.

adnkronosinternational: ITALY: OVER 200,000 MUSLIMS CELEBRATE END OF RAMADAN

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ITALY: OVER 200,000 MUSLIMS CELEBRATE END OF RAMADAN

Rome, 23 Oct. (AKI) - Over 200,000 Muslims in Italy on Monday celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan, according to the country's largest Muslim group, the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII). The group's spokesman, Hamza Piccardo, told Adnkronos International (AKI) that "this number is particularly significant given that this was a working day." No exact data is available on the number of Muslims currently living in Italy, where Islam has become the second main religion after Catholicism. Estimates put the number between 700,000 and 1.2 million. UCOII said most celebrations took place in Italy's capital Rome and in Milan, in the North. Over 13,000 faithful reportedly attended celebrations throughout Milan, the country's financial capital.

In Rome, 16,000 Muslims celebrated at the city's main mosque, the largest in Europe, as well as at a smaller mosque in Centocelle and in the central Piazza Vittorio, where celebrations were organized by the Bengali community. Comment EU-Digest: with Muslims freely celebrating their religious cermonies all over Europe, maybe one day Christians and other religions will also be allowed to do the same in those nations which presently still prohibit freedom of religious expression other than their own.

10/24/06

Scotsman.com News : Saudi youth bored in model Islamic state controlled by Islamist hardliners-by Andrew Hammond

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Saudi youth bored in model Islamic state controlled by Islamist hardliners - by Andrew Hammond

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi youth are chronically bored in a country that can't provide them with jobs and restricts their personal freedoms, one of Saudi Arabia's most well-known Internet bloggers says.In Saudi Arabia, strict gender segregation means there are no cinemas, women are not allowed to drive, single men are often banned from shopping malls, and trendy coffee shops -- which have become hugely popular in big cities -- are men-only zones."Single guys are not allowed to enter the shopping malls, that's just for families or women.

There are now more than 500 Saudi bloggers and they have become sharply divided between reform-minded youth and traditionalists, Omran says. Internet penetration of around only 14.5 percent limits bloggers' ability to influence events. Omran's blog in Arabic and English (saudijeans.blogspot.com), where he mixes thoughts on political and social issues with observations about everyday life, has stood out in the burgeoning Saudi cyber community for its insights into changing Saudi society.

With some 60 percent of the Saudi population thought to be under 21, Omran's experience is radically different from that of the handful of old men running the country. The senior members of the Saudi royal family are in their 70s and 80s. And Islamist hardliners, or the "forces of darkness" as Omran's blog has dubbed them, have come out fighting against liberal trends in society, arguing there must be limits to change in the land where Islam was born and which contains its holiest shrines.

JTW News - EU Commissioner Olli Rehn: Turkey's EU Accession Serves Both Sides' Interests


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Turkey's EU Accession Serves Both Sides' Interests

European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said yesterday that Turkey’s EU accession would serve both sides’ interests. Speaking in Berlin, Rehn said the EU had decided to begin accession talks with both Turkey and Croatia in October 2005, adding that the talks were aimed at full membership.

Stressing that the bloc should not forget its responsibilities to Turkey, Rehn said the EU needed a modern, stable and prosperous Turkey for its own interests, adding that Turkey had showed its strategic importance through its decision to send peacekeeping troops to Lebanon.

Associated Press Business News: EU Economy Chief: Italy on Right Path

Italian Premier Romano Prodi
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EU Economy Chief: Italy on Right Path

EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Monday that Italy was on the "right path" to improving its economy but must do more to improving its public finances and introduce structural reforms. Almunia gave his assessment at a news conference after a day of meeting with Italian Premier Romano Prodi, Italy's economic minister, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, central bank governor Mario Draghi and other key players in the Italian economic picture.

Almunia's praise for progress so far could be a big boost to Prodi as he tries to shepherd a 2007 draft budget, including tax hikes, through parliament.

Iraqi exodus spills into Europe, with Sweden as hotspot

CNN.com:

"Iraqi exodus spills into Europe, with Sweden as hotspot

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled the unrelenting violence and chaos in their homeland since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

The exiles mostly poured into neighboring countries. But a growing tide of Iraqis is seeking shelter and a new start in Europe, where Sweden is emerging as the destination of choice due to relatively lax immigration laws, according to immigration officials and official statistics."

ninemsn: Dutch mayor raises prostitute plan

Annemarie Jorritsma,mayor of Almere in central Netherlands
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Dutch mayor raises prostitute plan

A Dutch mayoress has raised eyebrows by backing the idea of sending prostitutes to accompany Dutch troops on foreign missions. "The army must consider ways its soldiers can let off steam," Annemarie Jorritsma, mayor of the town of Almere in central Netherlands and a member of the ruling VVD liberals, told Dutch television. "There was once the suggestion that a few prostitutes should accompany troops on missions. I think that is something we should talk about," she said, adding that the prostitutes would keep soldiers from turning to local women.

Her comments have drawn a mixed response in the Netherlands, renowned for its liberal prostitution laws.

Der Spiegel: Verheugen's Fall from Grace: Political Scandal Hits the EU - by Frank Dohmen and Hans-Jürgen Schlamp

For the compltete report in the SPIEGEL ONLINE click on this linkVerheugen's Fall from Grace: Political Scandal Hits the EU - by Frank Dohmen and Hans-Jürgen Schlamp

European Union Commisioner Günter Verheugen is becoming a burden for Germany's upcoming European Commission presidency. His controversial private life has triggered speculation over Verheugen's possible resignation.European Union Commisioner Günter Verheugen is becoming a burden for Germany's upcoming European Commission presidency.

In only two years as the EU's commissioner for industry, Verheugen has gone from being a celebrated star to a problem case. His successes have been modest. His attempts to market himself for other top posts, such as Germany's foreign minister, have failed. And his relationship with the powerful Brussels bureaucracy is now hopelessly in shambles -- so much so that cooperation seems almost completely impossible these days.

As if that weren't enough, the married 62-year-old is now coming under scrutiny in his private life. A photo of the commissioner on vacation in Lithuania, holding hands with a 48-year-old woman, recently surfaced in the press, apparently confirming the malicious rumors Grässle claims have been "making the rounds in Brussels for a long time." Far from some anonymous acquaintance, the woman in the damaging photo is Petra Erler, a close associate of Verheugen since 1999. This spring Erler was promoted to director of Verheugen's cabinet, a career move that comes with a raise from salary group A 12 (€9,045 a month) to A 14 (€11,579 a month).

Cafe Babel.com: Sihem Bensedrine, Ben Ali’s fearless antagonist - -by Alexandra Thimm

Sihem Bensedrine
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Sihem Bensedrine, Ben Ali’s fearless antagonist- by Alexandra Thimm

Tunisian journalist Sihem Bensedrine, 56, was threatened, imprisoned and tortured in her native country – but not silenced. You only have to spend five minutes with Sihem Bensedrine to feel the fierce commitment of this petite woman. Four years ago, Bensedrine was exiled to Hamburg. Here, in an old building in the Schanzen district, she lives in an apartment with her family. Her daughter goes to school in Hamburg and her son studies in France.

In 1987, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali staged a coup d’état in Tunisia. He abolished press freedom at the beginning of the 90s and fought Islamist fundamentals in the country. "Many people were tortured to death," Bensedrine says.Yet her activism made her a dangerous target for Ben Ali. Bensedrine was defamed and beaten on the street on repeated occasions. In 2000, her ribs were broken, and her spine and one of her eyes damaged while in prison. In 2002, the Hamburg Foundation for the Politically Persecuted invited Bensedrine to stay in their town for a year. She is now a guest of the International Authors Association, PEN, in Germany. Bensedrine likes Germany. As long as there is no change of government in her country, she would like to stay. The Tunisians appreciates the Germans and their way of life. "I like it that people don’t cross the street when the lights are red. Here people respect rules,” she says with a smile. “In my country, there are no laws that apply to everyone and which can be used as a reference.”

During her exile, Bensedrine and her husband Omar Mestiri wrote a book entitled "Despoten vor Europas Haustür" (“Despots on Europe’s Doorstep”), in which she criticises the EU’s support for the authoritarian regimes in North Africa. "If Europe’s democratic heads of state tolerate dictators in Africa, then they shouldn’t be surprised that people from these countries try to flee to Europe."

Ohmy News: U.S. Ranks 44th in Worldwide Press Freedom Index as northern Europe countries top the list- by Jesper Westi-Henriksen


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U.S. Ranks 44th in Worldwide Press Freedom Index as northern Europe countries top the list- by Jesper Westi-Henriksen

The annual worldwide press freedom index from "Reporters Without Borders" shows the United States, which is supposedly spreading freedom and liberty throughout the world, is in a fast decline regarding the freedom of its own press. The report ranked the United States in 44th place, an atomic drop from a favorable position of 22nd held last year, and from a handsome 17th place in 2002.

The organization mentioned that several journalists were expelled from the country since the terrorist attacks of 2001. European nations Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland tied for first. North Korea was ranked last out of 167 countries surveyed.

10/23/06

Caribbean Net News: EU to assist Guyana in governance reforms


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EU to assist Guyana in governance reforms

Outgoing Head of the European Commission (EC) Delegation, Ambassador Per Eklund has noted the President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo's commitment to governance reform and in this light he said that the European Union (EU) will support its implementation. Eklund also pledged the EU's further financial assistance to Guyana in the area of infrastructure.

Eklund, who has spent the last three years in Guyana, noted that significant improvements have been made to the country's infrastructure.

News24: 'Taliban plans to attack Europe'


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'Taliban plans to attack Europe'

London - Afghan militants are planning to launch deadly attacks on civilians in Europe in revenge for the 2001 invasion by United States-led forces, a Taliban commander said on Sky News television on Monday. Mullah Mohammed Amin said resurgent militants had built up stockpiles of weapons and were bent on vengeance against "the foreign invaders".

The Taliban, overthrown by the invasion, now wanted to export terror to the West, he said. Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Thursday that suicide bomber tactics proved that Taliban rebels could not defeat multinational forces through conventional warfare.

theMatureMarket.com/Le Figaro: EU: Europe in front of the demographic challenge



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EU: Europe in front of the demographic challenge

To prevent the European Union to be in state of collapse, victim of the inexorable ageing of its population, couples should have more children, employees should work longer, governments should coordinate to support legal immigration and the States should put themselves at the diet. To this end, the European Union envisages 40 million immigrants by 2050.Today, the rate of fruitfulness in the EU (the average number of children by woman) reaches only 1.5 and will hardly move by 2030 (1.6). However, if the Union simply wanted to stabilize its population, apart from any recourse to immigration, it would need a ratio of 2.1 children. In parallel, life expectancy at birth could, by 2050, reach five additional years, involving an increase of 10 % in the public expenditures. "Total finances could become unbearable in many countries", envisages the Commission.

The European population in age to work (15-64 years old) will decrease by 48 million while the rate of dependence will double, to reach 51 %. The corollary of this phenomenon is that the growth rate will mechanically go from 2.4 % over the period to only 1.2 % between 2030 and 2050. Thus, because of that situation, Europe will be reduced "to lean on the profits of productivity as major source of economic growth", estimates Brussels.

In response to these challenges, the European executive recommends the development of a family policy in the Member States, as they were already committed in it in 2002, so as to increase the offer of taking children into care; It wishes to promote an "active ageing", considering that people working in their sixties "must no more be the prerogative of those with high incomes and high diplomas". Brussels also pleads in favour of a "common policy" of immigration "for purposes of employment" and invites the EU25 Member States to enrich their offer of services towards elderly people, to promote the infrastructures, education and research. These investments will have to go together with a continuation of the structural reforms relative to pensions and work of seniors.

The Daily Mail - Iraq: The bleak reality now facing President Bush (and Britain)


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Iraq: The bleak reality now facing President Bush (and Britain)

With the British Government turning somersaults to keep up with every twist and turn of the debate raging in Washington on Iraq, though without exerting the slightest discernible influence on the problem. Only weeks ago, Mr Blair insisted Britain had a duty to stay in Iraq until the job is done. But that was before the new mood in the White House. Now Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells obligingly suggests we could hand over to the Iraqis within a year, though that country is disintegrating. Now UK Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells obligingly suggests we could hand over to the Iraqis within a year, though that country is disintegrating.

"Yes, Britain (EU) certainly needs new thinking on Iraq. The pity is that it is all taking place in Washington, while British and some EU lapdog politicians wait obediently to take their cue from the American President George W Bush."

Consortiumnews.com: US Elections 2006 : Republican v. Democrat on Security - by Burt Hall


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US Elections 2006 : Republican v. Democrat on Security - by Burt Hall

National security stands as a major issue in the US Nov. 7 election, as it did in 2002 and 2004 when President George W. Bush was portrayed as America's protector and the Democrats came across as weak and indecisive. But the issue is no longer the Republican strong suit it once was. Now, with much more evidence of Bush's real record on national security known to the American people, polls indicate that the Republicans have lost their decisive advantage. In this guest essay, Burt Hall, a national security expert and co-author (with Ed Asner) of Misuse of Power, evaluates the two parties on this crucial issue.

Malta Media: Over 400 illegal migrants land on Lampedusa, Italy

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Over 400 illegal migrants land on Lampedusa, Italy

Italian authorities detained more than 400 illegal migrants who landed on the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Sunday, aided by calm seas in the Mediterranean, officials said. In the larger group, an 18-meter (60-foot) boat crammed with 403 people was intercepted by two Italian coastal patrol boats about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of Lampedusa, said Daniele Battaglia, of the port authority in Palermo, the Sicilian capital. Associated Press reported that the group had set out from the Libyan coast and included 21 women, one of whom is pregnant, and a 10-month-old baby, Battaglia said. Hours later, a second boat containing 36 people safely arrived on the island, which is closer to Africa than to mainland Italy.

The nationalities of the migrants were not immediately determined, Battaglia said.

10/22/06

Deutsche Welle: In Book, Schröder Describes Worries About Bush's Religiosity

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In Book, Schröder Describes Worries About Bush's Religiosity

Although during much of Gerhard Schröder's seven-year term in office, media reports focused on his frosty relationship with the US president, Schröder himself has said in interviews leading up to this Thursday's release of his memoirs that his experience with the US leader were not all unpleasant, although the two men did not see eye-to-eye on many issues. "There were some very pleasant meetings with the American president despite our diverging views. Bush is a thoroughly engaging and open discussion partner," Schröder said in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The war, Bush's use of prayer in his approach to the conflict, and his own decisions to call early elections are discussed by Schröder in his forthcoming memoirs entitled "Decisions: My Life in Politics," which are due to be published in Germany on Thursday.

WashingtonPost.com: Eastern Europe in Political Disarray - by VANESSA GERA

Budapest
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Eastern Europe in Political Disarray - by VANESSA GERA

WARSAW, Poland -- Anti-government rallies rock the Hungarian capital. Political intrigue in Poland holds up new roads and housing. Populists take power in Slovakia, vowing to undo economic reforms. And the Czech Republic goes without a functioning government for months. Political life has fallen into disarray in Eastern Europe, and many are asking what has gone wrong in the 2 1/2 years since these former communist countries joined the European Union, expecting to reap the fruits of democracy and open markets.

Many experts say people are simply exhausted after years of economic sacrifices made to join the EU and NATO. They now lack the clear goals that drove them toward the West after the fall of communism in 1989. All four countries have replaced the leaders who took them into the EU, and some have opted for parties pledging to restore the welfare benefits that were slashed to qualify for membership.

Guardian: What to do about Russia?

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What to do about Russia?

Perhaps the most important challenge for EU foreign policy is to develop a more unified approach to Russia. The EU member-states have very similar interests in Russia. We all want Russia to develop a strong and successful economy that welcomes foreign investment. We want Russia to be a reliable supplier of energy. We want the slide towards authoritarianism to be reversed. We want Russia to be an ally in the fight against terrorism and in opposing the proliferation of dangerous weapons. And we want Russia to respect the sovereignty and independence of the countries that are in our common neighbourhood. At President Vladimir Putin's dinner with EU leaders in Finland yesterday, the latter will have made an effort to appear united in their view of Russia. Yet the reality is that there is no effective common policy. Britain, France, Germany and Italy have run separate policies, each at various times seeking a special relationship with President Vladimir Putin. These bilateral relationships have been competitive - and Putin has played the member-states off against each other skilfully.

In recent years two of Putin's best friends, Gerhard Schröder and Silvio Berlusconi, have left office. Yet the EU still divides into three distinct groups over dealings with Russia: the "pro-Russian" camp led by France, Germany, Italy and others; the "anti-Russian camp" led by Poland and the Baltic states; and others in the middle, such as Britain.

Times On Line: America wants it all - life, the Universe and everything - by Bronwen Maddox


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America wants it all - life, the Universe and everything - by Bronwen Maddox

SPACE: no longer the final frontier but the 51st state of the United States. The new National Space Policy that President Bush has signed is comically proprietory in tone about the US’s right to control access to the rest of the solar system. The document makes a serious point about our growing dependence on satellites, the military threats to them and ways of protecting them. But America has rejected the desire by 160 other countries to have United Nations talks about banning an arms race in space, an extravagantly unilateral approach whose appeal you might have thought would have been tarnished by its experience in Iraq.

Its vision of the space programme, military more than scientific, is also undermined by its taste for manned missions — and the breathtaking cost.

The eyecatching declaration is that the US asserts the right to deny access to space to anyone “hostile to US interests”, although it gives no basis for that right. It also rejects arms control talks that would limit future US actions in space.

Progressive U: Kyoto Protocol: Cleaner Air or more hot air?


For the compltete report in "Progressive U" click on this link

Kyoto Protocol: Cleaner Air or more hot air?

Third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, more simply referred to as COP-3, reached agreement on emission levels. The overall targets adopted for greenhouse gas emissions by are an 8% cut from 1990 levels for the European Union (EU), 7% for the USA, and 6% for Japan and Canada. Australia is allowed an 8% increase, while Russia has a target of 0% (i.e. 1990 levels). Compared with the opening positions of 15% for the EU, 5% for Japan, and 0% for the USA. At least there is a beginning to the controlling of harmful emission, but still allowing increases in some countries seems to be self-defeating. If long term measures are taken to produce a lower emission level than that of pre- 1900's, it may be a start.

Nearly all scientists are now in agreement that there really is a harmful hole in the ozone layer. The opinions are widely varied, however at to the size, effects and corrective measures to be taken. How mush harmful gas emission is too much? Shouldn't we be working to elliminate ALL such emissions? I

Khaleej Times Online - Britain risks defeat in Afghanistan: says former military chief


For the compltete report in Khaleej Times Online click on this link

Britain risks defeat in Afghanistan: says former military chief

The former chief of the British military said the country’s armed forces risked defeat in operations in Afghanistan due to a lack of clear strategy, The Observer newspaper reported on Sunday. Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge, the former chief of the defence staff, attacked Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and come on the back of the present army head saying British troops should leave Iraq “sometime soon” because their presence was exacerbating security problems there.

“I don’t believe we have a clear strategy, either in Afghanistan or Iraq,” Inge said at a meeting sponsored by the Open Europe think tank last week, the newspaper said.

ISN Security Watch - Iraq: From bad to worse to impossible


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

Iraq: From bad to worse to impossible

In an unusually tactful interview with ABC News on Wednesday, US President George W Bush conceded that the current situation in Iraq was reminiscent of the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, and that November US elections would be, more or less, a referendum on the handling of the war in Iraq. During the interview, Mr. Bush refrained from suggesting that his Democrat critics who would like to see a reduction of US troops in Iraq were unpatriotic. Instead, he only questioned their judgment. He talked about upcoming elections and how the situation in Iraq would clearly be the decisive factor. All in all, it was perhaps the best and most sober interview Mr. Bush has ever given in terms of public appeal. This month alone already 74 American service men and women and thousands of innocent civilians were killed in Iraq.

However, despite the sobriety of the comments, critics will certainly point out that the Bush administration has consistently failed to take responsibility for the quagmire in Iraq.

IHT: Eastern Europe in political disarray amid fatigue over economic sacrifice

For the complete report in the International Herald Tribune click on this link

Eastern Europe in political disarray amid fatigue over economic sacrifice

Anti-government rallies rock the Hungarian capital. Political intrigue in Poland holds up new roads and housing. Populists take power in Slovakia, vowing to undo economic reforms. And the Czech Republic goes without a functioning government for months.

Political life has fallen into disarray in eastern Europe and many are asking what has gone wrong when — 2 1/2 years after they joined the European Union — these countries with troubled pasts should be enjoying greater stability than ever. Many experts say they are simply exhausted after years of economic sacrifices made to join the EU and NATO. They now lack the clear goals that drove them since the fall of communism in 1989 to join the West and escape Moscow's shadow.

And discontent is mounting as the instant riches many eastern Europeans believed would come from EU membership have failed to materialize despite strong economic growth.

10/21/06

Scotland on Sunday - France falls for the politics of seduction - by ELAINE SCIOLINO

For the complete report in Scotland on Sunday click on this link

France falls for the politics of seduction - by ELAINE SCIOLINO

Sex and politics have intermingled in France for centuries, but the private lives of politicians have historically been kept secret.

Now, Sexus Politicus, a 390-page tell-all book on the subject, has catapulted to the top of the non-fiction best-seller lists - a reflection of the erosion of privacy in French public life and an appetite for a gossipy read. The authors, Christophe Dubois and Christophe Deloire, are veteran investigative reporters who have written books about the murder of the prefect of Corsica in 1998 and the rise of Islamic extremism in France.

The book's central premise is that in France, a successful politician is also a seductive politician. Sex, the authors say, is a civic imperative. "Far from being a flaw, to cast yourself in the role of seducer is, without doubt, an important quality in our political life," the book claims.

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Xinhua - EU leaders highlight unity over energy policy

For the complete report in Xinhua click on this link

EU leaders highlight unity over energy policy

European Union (EU) and Russian leaders downplayed their differences Friday and vowed to strengthen their energy cooperation which both sides feel is crucial to their economies. Speaking after having informal talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner in the southern Finnish town of Lahti, EU leaders stressed the importance of Russia in the EU's external relations and expressed a strong desire to deepen energy ties with the giant neighbor.

The 25-nation bloc is keen to develop "a close and legally-binding partnership" with Russia which is long-term and mutually balanced, Finnish Prime Minister Vanhanen said. But the EU also made clear that Russia needs to change its behavior in certain areas to help build up mutual trust, which is essential to the further enhancing of relations.

Transparency, rule of law, reciprocity, as well as non-discrimination and market opening, are among the issues that EU leaders raised with Putin. Putin, for his part, stressed that Russia is just as dependent on the EU as the EU is dependent on Russia. He said Russia is committed to a stronger relationship with the EU.

ITAR-TASS: Putin reaffirms killers of journalist Politkovskaya to be found

President Putin
For the complete report from the ITAR-TASS click on this link

Putin reaffirms killers of journalist Politkovskaya to be found

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke at a Russia-EU informal summit Friday night, condenmned the masterminds and effectuators of murder of Russian pro-democracy journalist Anna Politkovskaya and gave assurances that law enforcers were searching for them. "Vladimir Putin said law enforcement agencies are taking all the necessary measures to find the masterminds of that crime and the killers and to bring them to criminal responsibility," a source close to the Russian delegation said.

"The President also offered a detailed assessment of current relations between Russia and Georgia and declared Moscow's stance on the problem," he said.

UN News Center: Excessive border delays hurt professional truck drivers, overall economy, says UN report

For the complete report in the UN News Center click on this link

Excessive border delays hurt professional truck drivers, overall economy, says UN report

Excessive border delays, inefficient or corrupt border officials and drivers’ vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS put the international road transport sector at risk and without worldwide governmental action the problems will intensify, according to a new report by the United Nations labour agency released today. In many cases, poor infrastructure, inefficient organization of official procedures including visas and unprofessional border officials not only hurt the living and working conditions of international drivers at border crossings worldwide but also have negative economic impacts, the International Labour Organization (ILO) study says.

Citing some of the problems, it noted that while the official time to obtain a visa for the European Union (EU) was on average four days in 2005, actual time for professional drivers of buses and trucks from countries not party to the European Schengen common policy agreement on temporary entry, such as Kazakhstan, Morocco, Ukraine and Turkey, ranged from 1.5 days for a Turkish driver to 31.5 days for a Kazakh driver.

IGN: Lik-Sang PSP Sales Blocked in Europe - by Demon Block

For the complete report in IGN click on this link

Lik-Sang PSP Sales Blocked in Europe - by Demon Block

When gamers want to import a game or system from a territory outside their own (usually to play games not available in their home country), they usually turn to an online retail store that offers import gaming supplies. Now European importers have one less option for nabbing a U.S. or Japanese PSP. One of the most popular import shops, Lik-Sang, has been blocked from selling PSPs to European customers. In a statement released today, Lik-Sang says Sony has obtained a judgment from the High Court of London ruling that sales of Japanese PSPs from Lik-Sang's website to European customers is illegal. The importer says its legal representatives were not present at the hearing to argue on the company's behalf.

Game consoles have traditionally been region-specific, meaning they will only play games released in their territory; for example, a Japanese game won't play on an American PlayStation 2. The reasons companies choose to lock out other regions has always been a bit nebulous, and gamers often find it irritating.

EU’s fight against radical Islam

News from Israel, Ynetnews

"EU’s fight against radical Islam

Religious leaders, politician say only if Muslim immigrants accept western values tensions would subside

Gil Yaron
Published: 10.21.06, 10:31

(DUSSELDORF) – Henrik Broder, a prominent Jewish journalist in Germany, recently published a book titled, “Hooray! We Surrender!” which criticizes what the author refers to as ‘Europe’s weakness in its battle against Islam.’



“We must define what sets us aside as a society, and what values we must uphold in our struggle against Islam,” Broder tells Ynet."

10/20/06

The Northern Echo: Can Turkey Come On Side


For the compltete report in The Northern Echo click on this link

Can Turkey Come On Side

Turkey may enjoy being part of European football, but there's still along way to go before it can join the EU club. Scott Wilson examines the controversy over its EU membership bid. When Turkish side Fenerbahce took on Newcastle United in the group stage of the UEFA Cup last night, little was made of their right to compete in one of European football's premier club competitions.

When it comes to politics, however, things are rather different. Turkey's traditionally problematic relationship with the European Union is arguably the biggest challenge facing the Union's leaders as they look to realign themselves to tackle a world in which the centres of economic and cultural power are shifting. To some, including the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, the prospect of Turkey becoming a full EU member is an affirmation of Europe's ability to embrace and manage change; to draw in states and peoples who might otherwise have been seen as a threat to European stability.

But to others, most notably in the core EU countries of France and Germany, Turkish entry is seen as the beginning of the end for Europe, an admission that the values and culture that had previously defined what it meant to be European are no longer a given.