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1/31/07

Pinknews.co.uk: Gay activists welcome first EU equality summit- but majority of Europeans oppose homophobea

For the complete report from Pink News click on this link

European gay rights organisations have welcomed the first EU summit on equality, which began in Brussels today. 450 delegates from across Europe launched the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All at the summit, which is a joint initiative by the European Commission and the German Presidency of the EU. Representatives from the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) are attending.

The recent Eurobarometer data on discrimination in Europe revealed that 50% of EU citizens consider discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be widespread. Note EU-Digest: Several surveys in Europe are also indicating that a majority of Europeans for a variety of reasons find that homopohobia is a problem. Christian and Muslim doctrine consider same sex a sin and unacceptable.

Portugal News Online: SEX AND THE PORTUGESE: Portugal to decide over video nasties

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SEX AND THE PORTUGESE: Portugal to decide over video nasties

Proposals to be put forward by European Union justice ministers will give Portugal the legal right to protect children from violent and sexually explicit videos by imposing legal sanctions on the creators, producers and their sales outlets.

Speaking to the AFP news agency, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini recognised that each member state will decide which video games are violent. Its not up to Brussels to decide. But the protection of children cannot have borders. He added that the current 2003 self-regulating system used by the industry to classify videos according to the levels of sex and violence in 14 EU countries, including Portugal, is failing.

The weakness of the self-control system is the lack of control when selling video games. It is very difficult to check the identity and age of the young people who are buying the video games. However, retailers should be liable to punitive measures, Frattini said, while at the same time calling on the 27 EU nations to increase their controls.

EurActiv.com - EU Commission wants EU-wide smoking ban in public places

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

EU Commission wants EU-wide smoking ban in public places

"I want to see a comprehensive, complete smoking ban adopted all over Europe," said Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou as he presented policy options for "smoke-free Europe".

According to the Commission, tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in the EU. About 650,000 people die each year because of smoking and a further 79,000 adults are killed by second-hand tobacco smoke. As to the economic burden of tobacco, recent statisticsPdf external show that the yearly cost of smoking-related diseases in the EU-25 is between €98-€130 billion, the equivalent of 1% and 1.4% of GDP in each country.

Business Week: The EU's Window of Opportunity - by Ann Mettler


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The EU's Window of Opportunity - by Ann Mettler

"Germany is back" perhaps best encapsulates the sentiment in Europe these days. There's genuine excitement about the revival of Europe's largest economy, and there's an unprecedented amount of goodwill throughout Europe (with the possible exception of Poland) to see this presidency succeed. The last time I saw such large interest in an incoming presidency was when Britain took over in July, 2005—though that was accompanied by downright hostility from Europe's sluggish Old Guard, of which Germany was then a member, not to mention France and Luxembourg. These countries undoubtedly envied the success of Britain's "Anglo-Saxon" economy and the popularity and charisma of its leader, Tony Blair.

None of that sort of antagonism is present in Brussels these days, which is unusual. This presents a unique opportunity to move forward with the European project and sustain and accelerate the economic momentum of recent months. For the truth is, not only is Germany back, Europe's back as well. Last year saw a remarkable return of growth and employment. The European Commission estimates that the EU economy grew by 2.6% and that some 2.9 million jobs were created, leading to a marked hike in consumer sentiment and investor confidence.

BBC NEWS: EU concern at US data transfers


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EU concern at US data transfers

Euro MPs have expressed concern at the way the US is gathering information from EU citizens that may be used in identifying terrorism suspects. The EU justice commissioner told MEPs that banks in several EU countries were unaware details of transactions were going to the US treasury.

Franco Frattini also said negotiations over a new EU-US deal on air passenger data would be "a real challenge"."The right to privacy for me is non-negotiable. It has to be respected," Mr Frattini said.An interim deal allowing the US to access information on trans-Atlantic air passengers expires in July. The EU has until February to decide a strategy and timeline for the negotiations.

CS Monitor: Europe, US at odds over data privacy, rendition, and Iran nukes - Tom Regan

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Europe, US at odds over data privacy, rendition, and Iran nukes - Tom Regan

The United States and Europe appear to be headed for a showdown in a number of key areas in the war on terror.

Europeans are increasingly concerned about the US's use of the airline and banking data of European citizens in terrorist profiling. A German court has ordered the arrest of 13 Americans, presumed to be CIA agents, in the "extraordinary rendition" of a German citizen who was later found not to have any connections to terrorism. And European diplomats and politicians are increasingly nervous that the US plans to launch a military strike on Iran, which Europeans largely believe would create only greater problems in the Middle East.

The BBC reports that the European Union is planning to "voice concerns" over the use of data on airline passengers and bank transaction in a US antiterrorist profiling system. Late last year it was discovered that Swift, a private company which handles money transfers, had been giving information to the US in violation of European Union privacy laws.

Radio Free Europe: White House Opposes Resolution On Armenian 'Genocide'

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White House Opposes Resolution On Armenian 'Genocide'

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson says the White House will actively oppose a resolution in the U.S. Congress to recognize the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the end of World War I as "genocide." Lawmakers introduced the resolution on January 30. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush believes debate on the topic could damage relations with Turkey.

Wilson's statement referred only to the "tragic events" of that era. Turkey denies the deaths amounted to genocide.

Avionews: Russia: renewal of the air park with national-made aircraft

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Russia: renewal of the air park with national-made aircraft

Russian Vice-Premier and Defense Minister, Serguej Ivanov, in the statements of last days, affirmed the air park of Russia must be renewed with national-made aircraft.

Last Monday, Ivanov presided over the meeting of the military-industrial Commission. The experts studied the possibility to increase the production of the Russian aircraft for the Civil Aviation. "The air park of the major aeronautical companies of Russia is now obsolete -vice-Premier affirmed- however, it often prefers to renew it with foreign-made aircraft, and so there is the risk to make degrading our aeronautical industry. I can see only one solution - we must change the current situation so that our aircraft fleet is primarily renewed by domestically manufactured planes", Defense Minister remarked at the end of his speech.

KITV: Xavier Bertrand dans une rêve fantomatique? - France Considers Naps At Work For Health


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France Considers Naps At Work For Health

The French already enjoy a 35-hour work week and generous vacations. Now the health minister wants to look into whether workers should be allowed to sleep on the job. France launched plans this week to spend $9 million this year to improve public awareness about sleeping troubles. About one in three French people suffer from them, the ministry said.

Fifty-six percent of French complain that a poor night's sleep has affected their job performance, according to the ministry. "Why not a nap at work? It can't be a taboo subject," Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said Monday. He called for further studies and said he would promote on-the-job naps if they prove useful. EU-Digest: Xavier Bertrand dans une rêve fantomatique?

EU-Digest: EU citizens much better protected against corporate intrusion than US


EU-Digest Special report

EU citizens much better protected against corporate intrusion than US

Yale law professor James Whitman wrote in a paper titled “The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity versus Liberty : "One’s privacy, like other aspects of one’s honor, is not a market commodity that can simply be sold.” European courts and lawmakers are conteniously wrestling with the implications of technology and privacy, often coming to conclusions that are foreign to their American counterparts.In many parts of Europe: Personal information cannot be collected without consumers’ permission, and they have the right to review the data and correct inaccuracies. * Companies that process data must register their activities with the government. * Employers cannot read workers’ private e-mail. * Personal information cannot be shared by companies or across borders without express permission from the data subject. * Checkout clerks cannot ask for shoppers’ phone numbers. Those rights, and many others, stem from The European Union Directive on Data Protection of 1995, which mandated that each EU nation pass a national privacy law and create a Data Protection Authority to protect citizens' privacy and investigate attacks on it.

National laws come in several flavors, and emanate from varied traditions. But taken together, they are the backbone of a basic European principle: Privacy is a human right. In this very clear declaration, Europe ventures far from the pro-business approach taken by U.S. lawmakers.

European privacy laws are so different from those in the US because the Europeans reserve their deepest distrust for corporations, while Americans are far more concerned about the government invading their privacy. At present they have both invading their lives.

IHT: Planned Europe-African rail link underlines U.S. shortcomings - by Don Phillips

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Planned Europe-African rail link underlines U.S. shortcomings - by Don Phillips

A mere 15 kilometers can be a frustrating distance when deep ocean water separates the two shores and many thousands of people want to travel between them. Ferries are the obvious solution, but sometimes the number of people who want to travel leaves the ferry a poor method of transport. For instance, Continental Europe and England were connected by the $20 billion Channel Tunnel, speeding and vastly increasing travel across the English Channel.

Now a high-speed rail line connecting Europe and Africa that has been on the drawing boards for a quarter of a century is finally being ushered along. To join Spain and Morocco by rail across the Strait of Gibraltar would be among the world's most ambitious, expensive and complex civil engineering feats, alongside the Panama Canal and the Channel Tunnel. The project is now edging closer, with Morocco having hired Lombardi Engineering, a Swiss engineering firm, to begin planning.

New Scientist Environment: Melting of mountain glaciers is accelerating and European glaciers are among those shrinking fastest - by Catherine Brahic

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Melting of mountain glaciers is accelerating and European Alps glaciers are among those shrinking fastest - by Catherine Brahic

Mountain glaciers are retreating three times faster than they were in the 1980s, says the World Glacier Monitoring Service. On average, they lost about 66 centimetres in depth in 2005, according to the latest report from the UN-affiliated body, released on 30 January. This loss rate is 1.6 times more than the annual average for the 1990s and three times the 1980s average.

The data indicate that glaciers in the European Alps are among those shrinking fastest. Since 2000, they have been losing an average of 1 metre every year and have lost 19 metres since 1980. They are now only about 30 metres deep on average.

PSI: Socialists in EU parliament urge Euro MPs to block jobs for far right.


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Socialists in EU parliament urge Euro MPs to block jobs for far right

Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz called for MEPs to prevent a new far-Right group from securing senior positions in the European Parliament.

Immediately after the announcement of the 20-member group's formation, Mr Schulz wrote to leaders of the parliament's democratic groups, urging them to deny the new group posts under the proportional d'Hondt system of appointment. In his letter Mr Schulz says: "We must not abandon this Parliament, which symbolises the integration of Europe, to those who deny all European values."

Atlantic Free Press - Is It World War III Yet?- by Stephen P.Pizzo

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Is It World War III Yet?- by Stephen P.Pizzo

The decisions Congress must make in the months ahead about what to do with our troops in that region will be shaped by how they see what's actually going on and where it's headed. Which is why they need to start framing it in terms larger than “civil war.” Because it's not about Iraq today anymore than it was about Bosnia in 1914. It beyond that now. Way beyond that. When this kind of war breaks out certain patterns are immediately recognizable. During World War I we witnessed the same kind of things we are now seeing in Iraq, among which is ethnic cleansing. During WWI the Armenians were massacred by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. We can parse terms, was it a massacre or was it genocide, but whatever it was it looks a lot like what gearing up in Iraq right now. So far at least 180,000 Sunnis have be ethnically forced to out -- cleansed -- from just Baghdad alone...right under the noses of US forces. Those who refuse to leave are killed. The Saudis have taken notice and warned that if this continues they will have no choice but to begin arming and supporting Iraq's beleaguered Sunnis. Iran has countered that it would respond to that by making “trouble” for the Saudis – a thinly veiled threat to disrupt Saudi oil facilities and stir up opposition to the already fragile Saudi royal family.

Meanwhile Pakistan has been secretly rearming Afghan's defeated Taliban. Why? Because they simply do not want a US-dominated government on their border because they see the US as closer to Pakistan's mortal foe, India – a suspicion the US reinforced by singing a controversial nuclear deal with India earlier this year.

There was a shred of evidence that even George W. Bush may have an inkling he's created a mess that could envelope the whole world. Last week he authorized doubling the size of the US strategic oil reserves.

Guardian Unlimited: Europeans fear US attack on Iran as nuclear row intensifies - by Ian Traynor


For the complete report from The Guardian click on his link

Senior European policy-makers are increasingly worried that the US administration will resort to air strikes against Iran to try to destroy its suspect nuclear programme. As transatlantic friction over how to deal with the Iranian impasse intensifies, there are fears in European capitals that the nuclear crisis could come to a head this year because of US frustration with Russian stalling tactics at the UN security council. "The clock is ticking," said one European official. "Military action has come back on to the table more seriously than before. The language in the US has changed."

As the Americans continue their biggest naval build-up in the Gulf since the start of the Iraq war four years ago, a transatlantic rift is opening up on several important aspects of the Iran dispute."There's anxiety everywhere you turn," said a diplomat familiar with the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. "The Europeans are very concerned the shit could hit the fan." "No path is envisaged by the EU other than the UN path," the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, told the Guardian yesterday. "The priority for all of us is that Iran complies with UN security council resolutions."

Mail &Guardian: The Pentagon hunkers down in Africa (US and Europe are not anymore co-equal partners in military matters) - by Charles Cobb

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The Pentagon hunkers down in Africa (US and Europe are not anymore co-equal partners in military matters - by Charles Cobb

The stance of the United States with respect to the rest of the world has changed radically under the “conservative” administration of George W Bush. The latest indication of the militarisation that is at the forefront of this shift came on December 13, when then-defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that within “one to two months” the US military would establish an African Command -- adding a sixth region to the existing five US geographic combat commands.

One of the important shifts within this process is abandonment of the post-World War II idea that the US and Europe are co-equal partners in military matters. Rumsfeld “had a certain contempt for the Europeans,” the International Herald Tribune recently quoted Jens van Scherpenberg, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations at Berlin’s German Institute for International and Security Affairs, as saying.

In Rumsfeld’s view -- and despite his politically expedient departure, the administration continues to believe -- the US government requires a second tier of more pliable allies accepting of American leadership. A quick sense of this thinking can be gained by observing who is allied with the US in Iraq. The United Kingdom’s support notwithstanding, Western Europe in general and France in particular have been, to put it mildly, cool toward this US effort. In the admini-stration’s view, they are unreliable.

1/30/07

Political Affairs Magazine/ l'Humanite - The US Sets its Sights on Iran (EU prefers dialog) - by Pierre Barbancey


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The US Sets its Sights on Iran (EU prefers dialog) - by Pierre Barbancey

Supported by Arab allies, Bush is putting a strengthened military presence into place that is openly targeting Teheran.At the same time, the British tabloid The Sunday Times revealed Israeli plans for airstrikes in Iran.

Will the EU go along with this new escalation or, to the contrary, promote dialogue with Iran? France prevaricates and is now talking about sending an envoy to Teheran. "A possible dialogue with Iran would involve reaffirming our positions on the regional issues.", the French Foreign Office explained, whereas the Elysee (the president’s office) informed us that "we are not acting in a unilateral fashion and we are in consultation with our partners."

BBC NEWS: Royal renews 'dirty tricks' plea against Sarkozy - by Caroline Wyatt

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Royal renews 'dirty tricks' plea against Sarkozy - by Caroline Wyatt

French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal has called on President Jacques Chirac to restore order in the presidential election campaign. She says her rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, has mounted dirty tricks and personal attacks on her. The Socialists allege that Mr Sarkozy ordered the domestic intelligence agency to dig dirt on the former head of Greenpeace France, Bruno Rebelle.

The Socialists are calling for Mr Sarkozy, the centre right UMP candidate, to resign as interior minister. They say he misused his powers of office by ordering the domestic intelligence agency to investigate his rival's campaign team. The man they were apparently interested in was a former director of Greenpeace in France, who now advises Segolene Royal on the environment.

Ms Royal's brother, Antoine, now claims that French intelligence also investigated him after he revealed that another brother, Gerard, was a French secret agent who helped blow up the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in 1985.

IHT/Bloomberg: EU may fine credit-card companies - by Matthew Newman and John Rega

International Herald Tribune/Bloomberg

EU may fine credit-card companies - by Matthew Newman and John Rega

European Union regulators will threaten banks and credit card companies with fines for blocking competition, according to a draft of a report to be delivered this week. The European Commission, the EU antitrust regulator, may investigate banks and payment card providers for colluding on prices and using practices aimed at keeping competitors out of their markets, the regulator said in a draft summary obtained by Bloomberg News. The report does not identify any companies.

The commission "will not hesitate to exercise its powers of enforcement" under antitrust rules "to ensure that the competition rules are respected in retail banking," the 10-page summary said. The commission is scheduled to release the report Wednesday.

smudailycampus.com: Eu Constitution Back from the dead?


Back from the dead? - Opinion

"EU Constitution Back from the dead?
John Jose, jjose@smu.edu
Issue date: 1/30/07 Section: Opinion

The European Union Constitution was unexpectedly killed off by two negative referendums, one French and one Dutch, in the summer of 2005. Now, though, as the Germans assume the rotating presidency of the EU, Chancellor Angela Merkel has made it her priority to revive the constitution, claiming that the yearlong "pause for reflection" is over."

The Guardian:EUROPE BEWARE-THE RETURN OF THE FASCISTS - Xenophobes, not workers, are uniting across Europe - by Yudit Kiss

Jean-Marie Le Pen in France
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EUROPE BEWARE - THE RETURN OF THE FACISTS - Xenophobes, not workers, are uniting across Europe - by Yudit Kiss

East European racists are giving new muscle to the continental far right by preying on the losers from the region's upheaval

The long awaited and welcome accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union has already had a nasty side-effect. It has made it possible for the extreme right to form its own group in the European parliament - giving its parties extra time and money - Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty.

Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front, formerly a vociferous opponent of the EU's enlargement, has delegated Bruno Gollnisch, a recidivist Holocaust denier, to head the group. He has received with open arms the five representatives of the Greater Romania party and Dimitar Stoyanov of the Bulgarian Ataka party, who had already made his debut in the European parliament commenting on the bodies and purchase price of Gypsy women. The newcomers will certainly feel at home in the company of Alessandra Mussolini ("proud to be a fascist"), Ashley Mote (formerly of the British Ukip), and the MEPs of the migrant-bashing Belgian Vlaams Belang, and the Austrian FPO, formerly headed by Jorg Haider. The proletarians of the world seem to be so disoriented by the blows of industrial change and deregulation that they are rather slow to move. So it is the xenophobes of Europe that are uniting - and demonstrating a great deal of mutual tolerance, despite not so long ago having depicted each other as dangerous aliens.

Bangor DailyNews: Maine, U.S. must pay heed to Europe's energy policy - by Elizabeth A. Wilson


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Maine, U.S. must pay heed to Europe's energy policy - by Elizabeth A. Wilson

f you spend any time in Europe or listen to the BBC or read a European newspaper, you might think that energy and climate change are all that Europeans talk about. And with good reason. Europe is facing issues of energy security, diversity of supply and source, climate change and environmental degradation head-on. The European Commission has ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and of producing 20 percent of heat and electricity and 10 percent of vehicle fuels from renewable energy by 2020. That is just 13 years away.

All of this is particularly challenging when you consider that the European Union is made up of 27 countries, each with its own needs and concerns.

Yet there is consensus that even with advances in technology and efficiency and serious efforts in conservation, much more needs to be done. Indeed, the Stern review on climate change, recently published in the United Kingdom, concludes that the economic cost of implementing stringent controls and supporting more research now is far less than doing nothing. Doing nothing could result in a major worldwide depression in the not so distant future.

The Huffington Post: Nicolas Sarkozy, the Right Man for 1979 - by Michael Standaert


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Nicolas Sarkozy, the Right Man for 1979 - by Michael Standaert

Which word best describes French presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy's attempt to look "hip" by having a disco dancing version of himself on a website? Idiot? Fou? Cretin? Imbecile? Pierrot? All of the above? L'affaire Doofus. If you go to his website you can make Sarkozy dance disco, with Michael Jackson type moves. Uh, yeah not the best French connection, right? Are the late 70s, early 80s as hip as he could get? That display will certainly help win the youth vote in Clichy-sous-Bois.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité ... disco.

phillyburbs.com: 'Le Web' Plays New Role in France Race - by John Leichester


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'Le Web' Plays New Role in France Race - by John Leichester

PARIS - One French presidential contender wants you to chuckle at his expense with a Web site that shows a virtual version of the usually straight-laced candidate disco-dancing. Supporters of his Socialist opponent have set up a spacious virtual office in a popular online game, complete with handout badges and a steady stream of visitors.

Presidential contenders, led by Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal are pouring resources and creative-thinking into the Internet on an unprecedented scale, targeting young voters and the many others jaded by politics as usual and hungry for fresh approaches after the 12-year presidency of Jacques Chirac.

For Segolene Royal's site go to http://www.desirsdavenir.org/ and for Sarkozy's http://www.discosarko.com/

FWI.co.uk: Unions hold talks with EU food safety commissioner over Brazilian beef

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Unions hold talks with EU food safety commissioner over Brazilian beef

EU food safety commissioner Markos Kyprianou has promised to take action against imports of Brazilian beef if the next Food and Veterinary Office inspection reveals continued shortcomings in their safety standards. His promise came during a meeting this week with five of the main UK and Irish farming unions in Brussels, who are concerned at the disease risk of continued trade with Brazil.

An FVO visit last year found evidence of a number of banned animal health products on Brazilian cattle farms, and failings in the country’s traceability systems. A separate fact-finding mission by the Irish Farmers' Association last May also found standards and practices on farms that would not be acceptable within the EU.

albawaba.com: Horticultural products worth us$183mn imported to m.e. From e.u., says planetfair

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Horticultural products worth us$183mn imported to m.e. From e.u., says planetfair

Horticultural products, cut flowers and ornamental plants worth US$48 million, US$106 million and US$29 million respectively have been imported to the Middle East from European Union states, according to Michael Mueller, Managing Director, planetfair Dubai LLC – organisers of IPM DUBAI (International Plants Expo Middle East).

“The above figures emphasise the growing demand for horticultural products in the region. There is an urgent need for a common platform to introduce new products, facilitate easy trade, share expertise and bring industry professionals together,” added Mueller.

Khaleej Times Online - UAE-EU FTA could be concluded soon - by Haseeb Haider

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UAE-EU FTA could be concluded soon - by Haseeb Haider

ABU DHABI — Calling it 'complex and complicated', Swedish Deputy Trade Minister Hans Jeppson yesterday hoped the UAE-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would be concluded in coming two to three months time. Speaking to Khaleej Times, at a reception hosted by the Swedish Ambassador Bruno S. Beijer, the trade minister said that there had been some initial hiccups which has been resolved. "But since EU is a large economic bloc comprising 27 nations, it will take little more time to overcome the obstacles," he said. As far as, Sweden is concerned we have no issues with the FTA, he added.

Jeppson hoped the FTA would give a new impetus to trade and investments with Gulf, the world's most promising region.

Seniorscopie : Europe's population : 7 percent only of the world's total by the next century

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7 percent only of the world's total by the next century

Europe is ageing and shrinking. It means Europeans will have to pay more or accept less in state welfare provision. But attempts to rejuvenate Europe's workforce took a fresh twist with news the European Commission would propose a pan-European system of U.S.-style green cards to lure youthful migrants with good education, skills and economic potential.

As debate rages over the merits of Europe "importing" immigrant labour, one thing looks inevitable -- the homegrown population is becoming too small and too old to maintain the living standards of the last 50 years.

Attempts to rejuvenate Europe's workforce took a fresh twist with news the European Commission would propose a pan-European system of U.S.-style green cards to lure youthful migrants with good education, skills and economic potential. The idea itself is controversial, but it also illustrates a point some find hard to swallow. The glory days of the baby boom that followed World War Two are over, and most probably Europe's economic prowess of those post-war decades too.

IHT: Europe resists U.S. on curbing ties with Iran - Steven R.Weisman

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Europe resists U.S. on curbing ties with Iran - Steven R.Weisman

European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran. Administration officials say a new American drive to reduce exports to Iran and cut off its financial transactions is intended to further isolate Iran commercially amid the first signs that global pressure has hurt Iran's oil production and its economy. There are also reports of rising political dissent in Iran.

Several European officials said in interviews that they believe that the United States and Saudi Arabia have an unwritten deal to keep oil production up, and prices down, to further squeeze Iran, which is dependent on oil for its economic solvency. No US official has confirmed that such a deal exists.

1/29/07

FreshPlaza: Tomato plants absorb carbon emission

For the complete report from Fresh Plaza click on thgis linkTomato plants absorb carbon emission

Greenhouse gases may be a cause of global warming, but a massive tomato greenhouse in Leamington has other plans for the carbon dioxide it produces. Great Northern Hydroponics of Kingsville will begin installing this spring a new "co-generation" system, designed to supply electricity and heating for a 20-hectare greenhouse facility that's capable of producing more than nine million kilograms of tomatoes annually.

About 10 megawatts of surplus power from the natural gas-based system will be sold into the provincial grid under a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority, which announced six other co-generation projects back in October. As an added twist, the carbon dioxide emitted from the exhaust of four Jenbacher gas engines will be purified, cooled, and pumped back into the greenhouse. The tomato plants will then absorb the greenhouse gas as food, ultimately accelerating their growth.

"This is the first major installation since 1993 in the greenhouse industry," said Jan Buijk, general manager at Detroit Diesel Allison Canada East, which distributes and installs the GE Energy-designed system in Canada. Buijk said three Ontario greenhouses attempted similar projects in the early 1990s, when the former Ontario Hydro was expecting a power shortage and encouraging alternative generation. But by the mid-1990s the utility flip-flopped, saying instead the province was expecting a surplus. Incentive programs were cancelled.

While co-generation and CO2 fertilization for greenhouses is relatively new to North America, the practice is quite common in Europe. "Over the years, GE has supplied more than 500 of these systems in Europe, particularly Holland," Buijk said. "That's where all the technology development is taking place."

News.bg - Only 25% of EU Citizens Approve of Newcomers Bulgaria, Romania


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Only 25% of EU Citizens Approve of Newcomers Bulgaria, Romania

A new survey by FT-Harris poll shows that most adults in the largest European countries think migration has reduced wages and only a quarter have a positive view of the entry into the European Union this year of Bulgaria and Romania. The poll also showed that an overwhelming majority of citizens in the big eurozone countries believe the euro has damaged their national economies, highlighting the popular scepticism that still surrounds Europe's eight-year-old monetary union.

More than two-thirds of the French, Italians and Spanish - and more than half of Germans - believe the single currency has had a "negative impact", according to an FT-Harris poll. In France, just 5 per cent said the euro has had a positive effect on the French economy. The results come at a time when eurozone growth prospects have brightened, thanks largely to a pick-up in Germany, the largest of the region's 13 member countries. The ECB is expected next week to prepare financial markets for another interest rate increase in March. Note EU-Digest: these polls once again show what a poor job EU member states and politicians are doing at promoting the benefits of the EU. One is starting to wonder what kind of forces are at work here?

In Europe the bell tolls for energy

Turkish Daily News Jan 29, 2007

"In Europe the bell tolls for energy
Monday, January 29, 2007

Europe has taken action as the result of increasing energy demand, the Gazprom Empire – which became known during the Ukrainian crisis – and the much feared global warming. Experts are seeking a magical solution that will both satisfy the growing demand and slow down global warming."

SPIEGEL Interview with CIA's Former Europe Director: "We Probably Gave Powell the Wrong Speech"


International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

"SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH CIA'S FORMER EUROPE DIRECTOR
'We Probably Gave Powell the Wrong Speech'

The former chief of the CIA's Europe division, Tyler Drumheller, discusses the United States foreign intelligence service's cooperation with Germany, the covert kidnapping of suspected terrorists and a Bush adminstration that ignored CIA advice and used whatever information it could find to justify an invasion of Iraq."

M&C: Italian judges hold preliminary hearing on CIA abduction

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Italian judges hold preliminary hearing on CIA abduction

Milan - Judges in Milan held a second preliminary hearing Monday to decide whether to indict United States and Italian spies for the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect. A total of 35 people, including 26 CIA agents and top officials from Italy's military intelligence agency SISMI, risk going on trial over their involvement in a so-called 'extraordinary rendition' operation as part of President George W. Bush's global war on terrorism.

Should judges decide to indict the defendants, it would be the first time that the controversial practice was to be made accountable to the law.

OED - Pipeline project from Kårstø to Eastern Norway, Sweden and Denmark


For the complete report in OED (Norwegian Ministry of Energy and Petroleum) click on this link

Pipeline project from Kårstø to Eastern Norway, Sweden and Denmark

Gassco today entered into an agreement with 14 Norwegian, Swedish and Danish industry and energy companies. The agreement was presented to the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Mr. Odd Roger Enoksen. "-This is a promising project which may have a possible influence on industrial activity in Eastern Norway if it becomes a reality. I am impressed by the work done by Gassco and the industry. Their work will form the basis for the continuation of this project", Minister Enoksen said.
However, the minister emphasises that major efforts are still needed before a decision to build the pipeline can be made. The companies have not committed themselves to fully financing the project. 7 companies have agreed to an ownership of a total of 70 per cent of the pipeline, while 9 companies have committed to pay for the right of using the transport system. Minister Enoksen says the government will discuss how the state can contribute to realizing the project.

Originally planned as a pipeline to Eastern Norway, it has now developed into incorporating landfalls in Sweden and Denmark. This could enable deliveries of Norwegian gas to Sweden and Denmark.

NYT: Iranian Reveals Plan to Expand Role in Iraq - by JAMES GLANZ

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

Iranian Reveals Plan to Expand Role in Iraq - by JAMES GLANZ

Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad outlined an ambitious plan on Sunday to greatly expand its economic and military ties with Iraq — including an Iranian national bank branch in the heart of the capital. Mr. Qumi said the bank was just the first of what he said would be several in Iraq — an agricultural bank and three private banks also intend to open branches. Other elements of new economic cooperation, he said, include plans for Iranian shipments of kerosene and electricity to Iraq and a new agricultural cooperative involving both countries.

The ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, said Iran was prepared to offer Iraq government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called “the security fight.” In the economic area, Mr. Qumi said, Iran was ready to assume major responsibility for Iraq reconstruction, an area of failure on the part of the United States since American-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein nearly four years ago. “We have experience of reconstruction after war,” Mr. Qumi said, referring to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. “We are ready to transfer this experience in terms of reconstruction to the Iraqis.” He would not provide specifics on Iran’s offer of military assistance to Iraq, but said it included increased border patrols and a proposed new “joint security committee.”

The Herald : European Central Bank would treat Scotland better

For the complete report in The Herald click on this link

European Central Bank would treat Scotland better

"An independent Scotland "would have to undertake the highly risky gamble of launching a separate Scottish currency that would be used by none of our trading partners". He then goes on to berate the SNP's policy for keeping the pound sterling in an independent Scotland: "It is, frankly, incredible that a central plank of the SNP economic policy is that it would continue to use sterling even after separation from the rest of the UK." If he believes that creating a separate currency would be such a high-risk gamble surely he must accept that retaining sterling is the sensible thing to do? The SNP's policy for retaining sterling after independence from the UK is in line with historical precedent. In 1901, when Australia established its own constitution, it stayed with sterling until 1910, when it established the Australian pound. Similarly, Ireland kept sterling for the first six years of its independence, before replacing it with the punt.

Any future government in a sovereign Scotland could decide to change the currency, either by floating a Scottish pound or entering the euro, if it thought such a change would be beneficial to the Scottish economy. As would be the case if Gordon Brown lost a UK referendum on the euro, a similar result from a euro referendum in an independent Scotland would mean that the status quo would prevail. I don't see why Bristow is trying to make such a meal out of this; it is only common sense.

Kansas City Star: EU and California in talks on joint cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases


For the complete report in the Kansas City Star click on this link

EU and California in talks on joint cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases

The European Union is working closely with California to bring it into the 27-nation bloc’s trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions, the EU environment chief said Friday.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum with Dow Jones Newswires, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said members of his staff met with California officials last week and discussed how to make the state’s planned program fit with a European one that has been operating for two years. “We are trying to make their trading scheme harmonized in order to have them linked in the future,” Dimas said.A deal between the EU and California would be a blow to President Bush, who earlier this week in his State of the Union speech laid out his own plans for reducing emissions and preventing climate change. Bush was criticized by environmental groups and some business leaders for not introducing an emissions cap-and-trade system.

The Mirror: France : A facelift or a world leader?- by Kathryn Crighton


For the complete report from the Mirror click on this link

A facelift or a world leader?- by Kathryn Crighton

French newspapers and political journals seem to be more interested in whether or not Segolene Royal the Socialist Presidential candidate should have worn heels to a particular meeting than in what occurred there. Political opponents accuse her as merely being a facelift for the Socialist party and question her ability to manage four kids, a relationship with the Socialist party leader, and a world nation. Publicly admonishing her critics for being sexist and chauvinistic, Royal herself plays into the sex debate.

When questioned about his decision to vote for Royal, one French citizen replied, "It is time for a woman to be in charge." When questioned about their opinion of her political viewpoints, most voters gloss over the subject. Speaking loudly about her ideas of where the French government should place its focus, mostly environmentally friendly and pro-education venues, it is more difficult to get specific outlines. A very good campaigner and marketer, Royal is at least getting one point across. She is here to stay.

Telegraph: West (EU) looks to bypass Russia for energy - by Alex Spillius

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West (EU) looks to bypass Russia for energy - by Alex Spillius

Obscure republics of the former Soviet Union have taken centre stage in the new Cold War: the struggle to secure supplies of oil and natural gas. Last month, without much ceremony but with huge ambition, engineers in Azerbaijan opened the taps at the Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea that should in the future supply western Europe. For now, it passes through Georgia into Turkey, circumventing two conflict zones, but, crucially, by--passing Russia altogether.

This month the EU issued a dramatic review of energy policy, which demanded cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and stressed the need for closer ties with central Asia and the Caucasus "to facilitate the transport of Caspian energy resources to the EU".

EUX.TV - EU airports set for efficiency drive

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EU airports set for efficiency drive

The European Commission on Wednesday tabled a proposal for full-fledged reforms of airports in the European Union, saying they have “a vital role to play” in making the European economy more competitive.

The reform package includes a proposal for new rules on airport charges; a paper on capacity, efficiency and safety; and a report on the handling of ground services. “Until now European airports have been faced with diverse regulatory, commercial and external challenges regarding issues such as capacity, financing and the environment,” said Jacques Barrot, the EU’s Transport Commissioner. “The aim of these new measures is to offer a common set of rules to be applied and enforced uniformly throughout Europe."

1/28/07

Al Jazeera - Turkey mulls 'invading' Iraq - Jonathan Gorvett

For the complete report from Al Jazeera click on this link

Turkey mulls 'invading' Iraq - Jonathan Gorvett

Turkey's parliament went into secret session this week to debate sending troops to invade and occupy northern Iraq for security purposes. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the confrontation between the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish army – about 400 last year alone, according to Turkey's Human Rights Association.

Onur Oymen, the deputy chairman of the Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said: "Northern Iraq is the only place in the world where a terrorist group can operate without being pursued." "If the Iraqis and the US are not prepared to take action over this, then we must."

Avionews: Airbus: A-320 Family passes the 5,000th order mark


For the complete report in Avionews click on this link

With the 5,000th order for A-320 Family aircraft, Airbus has reached a significant landmark, highlighting the Family's position as the benchmark for single-aisle airliners. In the last two years alone, the aircraft family has received orders for around 1,600 aircraft, making it not only the best-selling but also the fastest-selling jet airliner of all time. The 5,000th order was reached with the sale of 30 A-319 aircraft to US–based customer Spirit Airlines. This new order confirms the Family as the undoubted reference for the low-cost carrier market. To match the strong demand for its Family, Airbus has decided to implement a steady production ramp-up. The monthly production rate was increased from 30 aircraft per month at the end of 2006, to its current rate of 32 per month and is scheduled to rise to 36 by the end of 2008. This will represent the highest production rate ever for any commercial airliner.

With the most modern design of any single-aisle aircraft, the Airbus A-320 Family is best placed to deliver the lowest operating costs, making it the most economical aircraft in its class. With the widest cabin in its class, the Family offers passengers more space, comfort and overhead stowage volume for their money, making it the preferred aircraft on short-to-medium haul routes.

ESA - Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana


For the complete report from ESA click on this link

Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana

Europe's Spaceport is situated in the northeast of South America in French Guiana, an overseas department of France. In 1964 the French Government chose Kourou, from 14 other sites, as a base from which to launch its satellites. When the European Space Agency came into being in 1975, the French Government offered to share its Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) with ESA. For its part, ESA approved funding to upgrade the launch facilities at the CSG to prepare the Spaceport for the Ariane launchers under development. Since then, ESA has continued to fund two thirds of the spaceport's annual budget to finance the operations and the investments needed to maintain the top level services provided by the Spaceport. ESA also finances new facilities, such as launch complexes and industrial production facilities, for new launchers such as Vega or for the exploitation of Soyuz.

Kourou lies at latitude 5°3', just over 500 km north of the equator. Its nearness to the equator makes it ideally placed for launches into geostationary transfer orbit as few changes have to be made to a satellite’s trajectory. Launchers also profit from the ‘slingshot’ effect, that is the energy created by the speed of the Earth’s rotation around the axis of the Poles. This increases the speed of a launcher by 460 m per second.

IRNA: Italy remains top trading partner of Iran in EU

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Italy remains top trading partner of Iran in EU

Italy remains the top trading partner of Iran in the European Union followed by Germany, France and the Netherlands according to the figures for the first ten months of 2006 released by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office.

Trade exchanges between Rome and Tehran for the period January to October 2006, totaled 4.80 billion euro, followed by Germany 3.65 bn euro, France 3.59 bn euro and the Netherlands 3,07 bn euro.

yobserver.com: U.S.-tailored Iraqi oil alarm for producers, consumers - by Nicola Nasser


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

U.S.-tailored Iraqi oil alarm for producers, consumers - by Nicola Nasser

While the Iraqis were busy counting their death toll of more than 650,000 since March 2003. The United Nations is next with 34,000 dead in 2006 alone with 3,070 for the Pentagon. The U.S. treasury was counting the more than $600 billion of taxpayer money spent in Iraq so far, stealthily and suddenly. The U.S. occupation’s oil prize sounded louder than war drums to alert the regional oil producers as well as the major world consumers to guard against the looming threat coming out of Iraq. After listening to the monotonous and incredible U.S. lies for four years about how “we are not there for Iraq’s oil,” the oily truth is now unfolding. Without a decisive military victory, the U.S. occupation of Iraq seems to be about to grab its oil prize by establishing a new sharing arrangement between a major national producer and the multi-national giants—an arrangement that Washington plans to set as the model to be followed both by the oil-rich region and the world at large. This prize has been the dream of successive U.S. administrations: on January 18th, they came one step closer to reality when Iraq’s Oil Committee approved the new draft hydrocarbon law, sent it to the cabinet within a week and, when approved, will go to the parliament immediately thereafter.

The early draft of the law was prepared by BearingPoint American consultants, hired by the Bush administration, and sent to the White House and major Western petroleum corporations in July, and then to the International Monetary Fund two months later, while most Iraqi legislators and the public remained in the dark.

The approved production-sharing agreements (PSAs) favor investing foreign oil companies with 70 percent of oil revenue to recoup their initial outlay, then companies can reap 20 percent of the profit without any tax or other restrictions on their transfers abroad.

The Republican-Democratic electoral wrangling, no matter how ferocious it was or would become over internal issues, could not cross a “red line” consensus on never compromising the U.S. national oil strategic interests, which both parties are determined to defend regardless of how much American or non-American blood would spill in their defense.

Boston Globe: Europe's wounded flank

For the complete report in the The Boston Globe click on this link

Europe's wounded flank

RECENT elections in Serbia can have far-reaching consequences. The next government of Serbia will have a say on Kosovo's future status, the evolution of the European Union, Russia's relations with Europe, and the degree to which the overwhelmingly Muslim Albanian population of Kosovo feels at home in Europe.

Democratic Party of President Boris Tadic and the Democratic Party of Serbia of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica are in position to form a pro-European coalition government able to renew suspended negotiations on accession to the EU. But first, EU officials commendably insist, Serbia must hand over General Ratko Mladic, who has been indicted by an International Tribunal for war crimes in Bosnia.

Cooperation with the tribunal is a test case for Serbia and for the EU. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the lure of EU acceptance has had a transformational effect on would-be members, causing them to adopt pluralist politics, free speech, freedom of religion, minority rights, and the rule of law.

USA Today: Cellphones fuel growth in developing world - by Malcolm Foster

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Cellphones fuel growth in developing world - by Malcolm Foster

Today, mobile phones are the primary form of telecommunication in most emerging economies, fulfilling much the same role as fixed-line phone networks did in facilitating growth in the United States and Europe after World War II. Some developing nations have even jumped out in front as mobile pioneers. In the Philippines, more than 4 million people use their cellphones as virtual wallets to buy things or transfer cash — services still rare in many wealthy countries, with few exceptions like Japan.

As service charges and handset prices have plunged and coverage areas have expanded, cellphone subscriptions in the developing world have surged fivefold since 2000, to 1.4 billion at the end of 2005, according to the U.N. International Telecommunication Union. That's nearly double the 800 million in advanced economies.

Research shows that greater cellphone use can drive economic growth in emerging economies. Based on market research in China, India and the Philippines, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that raising wireless penetration by 10 percentage points can lead to an increase in gross domestic product of about 0.5%, or around $12 billion for an economy the size of China.

M&C: China's trade surplus with Europe soars 31 per cent

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China's trade surplus with Europe soars 31 per cent

China's trade surplus with the European Union soared to 91.66 billion dollars at the end of last year, up 31 per cent from 2005, the commerce ministry said on Sunday. Total China-EU trade value rose 25 per cent to hit 272.3 billion dollars in 2006, with exports reaching 181.98 billion dollars, up 27 per cent year-on-year, and imports growing by 23 per cent to 90.32 billion dollars.

The European Union remained China's top trading partner last year, accounting for nearly 16 per cent of China's global trade, the ministry said on its website. China said it recorded a trade surplus of 70.12 billion dollars with the European Union in 2005, although one EU estimate put the surplus at about 106 billion euros (137 billion dollars).

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES : Old U.S.S.R. made Old Europe look new - by Mark Steyn

For the complete report in the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES click on this link

Old U.S.S.R. made Old Europe look new - by Mark Steyn

John O'Sullivan's new book The President, The Pope And The Prime Minister has a marvelous account of the funeral of Yuri Andropov. In case you've forgotten, he was one of those late-period Soviet leaders who looked like he'd been plucked in haste from the local embalmer's and propped up against the balcony for the May Day parade. When he was eventually pronounced (officially) dead in 1984, Margaret Thatcher was prevailed upon by an aide to stop at a shoe store en route to the airport and get some fleece-lined boots for the chilly February burial.She grumbled about the cost all the way to Moscow. There she met Andropov's successor, Konstantin Chernenko, whom the Politburo had anointed as the next cadaver-in-chief. And, after shaking hands with him, she stopped complaining about the cost of her Kremlin boots. "They were a prudent long-term investment," she told her aide.

The American left has long deplored Bush's rhetorical reliance on such vulgar conceits as "good" and "evil." But it seems even "victory" is a problematic concept, and right now the momentum is all for defeat of one kind or another. America is talking itself into willing a defeat that has not (yet) occurred on the ground, and would be fatally damaging to this nation's credibility if it did. The civilized world faces profound challenges that threaten the global order. But most advanced democracies now run two-party systems in which both parties sell themselves to the electorate on the basis of unaffordable entitlements whose costs can be kicked down the road, even though the road is a short cul-de-sac and the kicked cans are already piled sky-high. That's the real energy crisis.

Detroit.freep.com: Advice for Americans visiting Europe - by Jayne Clark

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Advice for Americans visiting Europe - by Jayne Clark

The Ugly American rap slapped on many U.S. travelers abroad has less to do with appearance (the enduring popularity of those his 'n' her tracksuits favored by many a trans-Atlantic flier notwithstanding) as it does with cultural ignorance. "What Every American Should Know About Europe" by Melissa Rossi (Plume, $16) seeks to wise up those Americans who are considering a trip across the pond. The book is a revision of her 2005 "The Armchair Diplomat on Europe" written with the notion that many Europeans themselves were uninformed about the influence of the European Union.

Part tutorial, part guidebook and part trivia compendium, "What Every American Should Know" offers a country-by-country breakdown of "old Europe" (the 15 Western European nations that made up the EU before 2004) and "new Europe," composed of the 10 Eastern European countries admitted since then. Though it has been updated and reworked for an American audience, it's already a tad outdated given that Bulgaria and Romania, which didn't make it into the book, just became the 26th and 27th members of the EU.

1/27/07

IHT: Netherlands extradites Dutch national linked to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq

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Netherlands extradites Dutch national linked to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq

The Netherlands' government has extradited a naturalized Dutch citizen charged with involvement in terror attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Justice Ministry said.

In December, Dutch courts ruled Iraqi-born Wesam al Delaema, 32, could be extradited for his alleged role in attacks on U.S. forces in 2003. Al Delaema was on a plane headed for an undisclosed location in the U.S., Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes said Saturday. "Even if I knew where he is headed, I couldn't say," Hommes said. "It's a matter for the U.S. Justice Department now."

Note EU-Digest: The question that should be asked is why the Netherlands has to deliver Dutch nationals to the US judicial system when the US in principle refuses to turn over US nationals who have committed crimes in Europe to European courts, and does not accept the jurisdiction of the international court of justice in the Hague. These facts and the reputation of the US as to their handling of alleged terrorists who get arrested, one wonders what has happened to the sovereignty of the Netherlands government as to the protection of its citizens.

The Age.com.au: Flu under control in Europe and US

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Flu under control in Europe and US

Europe's flu season got off to an early start, according to surveys released on Friday, but the vaccine matches the circulating virus well. The US flu season, which typically starts several weeks earlier, has been mild so far and has not risen to epidemic levels, which suggests an average season for Europe as well. Eight US children infected with influenza have died since it began in October.

The influenza virus evolves and mutates every year, but so far the three main strains that are circulating are those that have been expected and were used in this year's vaccines, according to the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."The dominant virus that we are seeing in the European influenza system is the A H3 virus, which we know from experience is a more virulent virus than last year's B virus," said Koos van der Velden, chairman of the surveillance program.The current vaccine protects against the H3 virus, as well as another influenza A virus called H1, and the influenza B virus. Similar activity has been seen in the United States.

New Europe: Mexico seeks economic support in Europe

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Mexico seeks economic support in Europe

The first few days of newly inaugurated Latin American governments in recent months could hardly be more different. While the leftist presidents of Nicaragua and Ecuador - led by Venezuela - turned away from the United States and actually courted Iran, Mexican President Felipe Calderon is seeking the solidarity of Europe. Calderon is already very close to the US, having visited there before his December inauguration. His January 25-30 visit to Europe includes Germany, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Britain and Spain.

Mexico has had a free trade agreement with the EU since 2000, and the trip represents Calderon's first journey outside of Latin America as president, where he has already paid official calls on El Salvador and Nicaragua.

BBC NEWS: Europe's Yes camp hardens position - "Overruling 60% of the EU's half a billion people is not a democratic solution" - by Oana Lungescu


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Europe's Yes camp hardens position: "Overruling 60% of the EU's half a billion people is not democratic solution" - by Oana Lungescu

The rift between the countries that support the European Union's beleaguered constitution and those who want to scrap it seems to be deepening. At a meeting in Madrid, the 18 countries that have ratified the treaty insisted it should remain the basis for any future agreement, despite the fact that it was rejected by French and Dutch voters.The message from Madrid is that the European constitution remains firmly on the agenda. We are ready to listen to the other countries, said the Spanish minister for Europe Alberto Navarro, but "we prefer to improve the treaty rather than to use the scissors, to cut the treaty". Mr Navarro insisted that the countries that ratified the constitution represent 60% of the EU's half a billion people and their voice deserves to be heard.

Spain now seems set on a collision course with countries like Britain, the Czech Republic and Poland. The Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, described the constitution as a "magnificent document" and said that instead of cutting it to pieces, more should be added to it to respond to people's concerns. Miguel Angel Moratinos also had a warning: that if no agreement could be found on the treaty, a core group of EU countries could go ahead with greater integration, leaving the others on the margins.

Now it is up to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has warned that failure to revive the constitution would be a historic mistake. She wants to map a way out of the crisis by June, but finding the middle ground looks increasingly like mission impossible.

Note EU-Digest: It seems strange that the two EU member states which voted against the constitution and other critical countries now want to overrule the vote of 60% of the EU's half a billion people which ratified the constitution. This is not a Democratic solution of the issue.

Newsweek: Europe's Sneaky Attempt to Revive Its Constitution - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

For the complete report in Newsweek/MNSBC click on this link

Feb. 5, 2007 issue - Remember the European constitution? Once upon a time, it seemed the answer to the European Union's woes. Leaders promised a union that was "more democratic, transparent and efficient"—a tonic for its declining popularity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency through June, is determined to revive the star-crossed treaty. At Davos last week, she declared it an indispensable "road map" to Europe's future. "People must trust us," she said, arguing that only a constitution spelling out why the Union is good for Europe could restore popular confidence. Yet in fact, her efforts threaten to sunder Europe—and possibly make it even less efficient, transparent and democratic than ever.

Almost overnight, Europe's leaders have divided into warring camps. The pragmatists (Britain, France, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic) want a short treaty salvaging a few key provisions of the rejected constitution, including the consolidation of foreign-policy powers, a shift in weighted voting rights, a modest expansion of the role of the European Parliament and the creation of a five-year presidency to replace the unwieldy current system of rotating six-month terms. The federalists (basically, every other member state) cleave to the dream of an ever-wider, ever-deeper Europe, a veritable state unto itself. They convened as "Friends of the Constitution" last week in Spain to reject a "minimalist" EU future, and to embrace grander economic and political union.

FTM: Europe Started Slower Than The US In Embracing Internet Advertising Opportunities, But It Has Caught Up Real Fast -- by Philip Stone

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Europe Started Slower Than The US In Embracing Internet Advertising Opportunities, But It Has Caught Up Real Fast -- by Philip Stone

European online advertising is forecast to grow some 25% this year whereas in the US online growth rates are projected at 19%, but while the Internet’s percentage of the total advertising spend is pretty much the same for both (7.2 – 7.3%) Europe is expecting to hit around 9.4% in 2010 compared to 8.9% in the US.Those numbers from various eMarketer and Jupiter Research reports indicate that the Internet spend rate in the US will slow appreciably this year from its usual 30%+ range, but in Europe it is still full steam ahead! In dollar terms, the US, of course, still wins hands down with around $16 billion spent last year on Internet advertising whereas for Europe it was just $6 billion.

But European advertisers are beginning to substantially increase their Internet spends, some countries more than others. In The UK, for instance, the spend proportion this year is forecast to hit near 18% according to GroupM, a media buying agency. Financial services spurred a robust 2006 UK Internet spend with the numbers up some 40%. The UK accounts for around half of Europe’s Internet spends. But as in the US, the Internet’s advertising growth in Europe comes at the expense of traditional media. eMarketer says that Europe’s 7.3% Internet total spend this year already puts it ahead of radio. It is shooting towards 9.4% of the total spend in 2010 and that is really going to affect newspapers that will see their market share drop to 28.1% from last year’s 31.1%. Magazines will drop from 16.9% to 15.8%, but television will see a slight increase in the proportion, from 33.4% to 34.4%.

“More than half (51%) of the growth in online ad spending in Europe has come at the expense of other media, according to the Marketer’s Internet Ad Barometer report, published by the European Interactive Advertising Association.

Iraq Casualties for first three weeks in January: US 69, UK 3, Iraq 1490

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Iraq Casualties for first three weeks in January: US 69, UK 3, Iraqi 1490

Total number of "coalition" troops killed since the Iraq invasion: US 3067, UK 130, other asisting foreign forces 123. Total number of US female fatalities since conflict started: 71. Estimate of Iraqi Deaths Since April 22, 2006 16668

Total number of non-mortal military casualties since the war started: 47.657.

Independent Online: Fair shares and grey matters - by Hamish McRae

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Fair shares and grey matters - by Hamish McRae

"The financial pressures generated by the gradual ageing of Western societies are now widely recognised, even if the action taken to cope with these pressures has been fragmented and maybe even perverse. Obviously, pension provision is one of the key issues, though by no means the only one, for finding ways of persuading people to stay longer in the workforce will be equally important. In a sense, the problems of ageing are welcome - few of us would really wish people to die younger - but they need tackling all the same. So what should be done? Different developed countries have chosen a different balance between private sector and state provision, but all have some mixture of these. In the US and some European countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the emphasis has been on the private sector carrying a large part of the burden. In much of the rest of continental Europe, the taxpayer will have to bear a larger portion of the costs.

There are some interesting modifications to this, such as compulsory saving, pioneered in Singapore and proposed by the Turner Commission for the UK. But, basically, people either save for their own pensions, through a company scheme or on their own, or they rely on the generosity of future taxpayers."

France24: Dutch celebrate their history-defining windmill - by Frederic Bichon

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Dutch celebrate their history-defining windmill - by Frederic Bichon

In the beginning there was water. Then the Dutch came and claimed their territory: a centuries-long task of drying out lakes, marsh land and even parts of the sea, all thanks to windmills.

In the Netherlands, 2007 has been declared the "Year of the Windmill" to celebrate the national symbol that has brought the country riches and shaped its social fabric but is now threatened by time, urban expansion and simply lack of interest. Historical documents trace the first Dutch windmill back to 1407, though the actual mill mentioned in the papers no longer exists."The windmill has kept our feet dry," said Leo Endedijk, the chairman of the association for the conservation of Dutch windmills.

Even today this holds true. When a terrible storm swept over northern Europe on January 19 many mills in the northern Netherlands were put into action to lower dangerously high water levels.

FOCUS: Bulgarian Wages Will Reach Average for EU in the Year 2230

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Bulgarian Wages Will Reach Average for EU in the Year 2230

Sofia:According to information from the Institute for Market Economy, given the fact that GDP per capita growth is 3%, wages in Bulgaria would reach the average level of the EU in the year 2230, Evgenia Georgieva from the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria said

ZNet - Hegemony and Appeasement: Setting Up the Next U.S.-Israeli Target (Iran) For Another "Supreme International Crime"

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Hegemony and Appeasement: Setting Up the Next U.S.-Israeli Target (Iran) For Another "Supreme International Crime" - by Edward S. Herman
and David Peterson

Still digesting their recent and ongoing aggressions in the Middle East, the Bush and Israeli regimes now threaten to attack Iran. As these warrior states cast their long shadow across the region, they find themselves aided and abetted by the Security Council, the other major powers, parties of the opposition, and the media.

The ease with which a supposedly independent media in a supposedly democratic society like the United States can demonize enemies and convert third- and fourth-rate official targets into major threats is almost beyond belief. And the collective amnesia of the establishment media enables them to do the same thing over and over again; they never learn, and most important never have to learn, because the collective amnesia they help instill in the society protects them against correction—an unending series of victories over memory in the exercise of "reality-control" (Orwell). This enables the media to serve as de facto propaganda agents of their state while still claiming to be independent watchdogs.

Khaleej Times Online - US urges Europe to follow sanctions on Iran bank

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US urges Europe to follow sanctions on Iran bank

The United States urged the European Union this week to join it in banning business with Iran’s Bank Sepah, which it accuses of funding efforts to secure the atom bomb, a US official said on Thursday. US Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt argued such a move was required by a UN resolution on Dec. 23 threatening Iran with sanctions if it did not halt activities that the West suspects are aimed at acquiring a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

“He said they should take that action because of the UN Security Council resolution which they signed on to,” the US official said of Kimmitt’s meetings with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and others during a trip to Brussels on Monday.

1/26/07

Atlantic Free Press - The Coming War Against Iran - by Daan de Wit

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The Coming War Against Iran - by Daan de Wit

Given the presence of four American submarines off the coast of Iran, Eduard Baltin, former commander of the Russian fleet, reasons that the U.S. is planning to attack Iran. Bush and Cheney have less than two years to go in their current role and want to go down in the history books as the heroes of the Pax Americana, as the men who managed to conquer the Middle East and its oil, as the men who took full-spectrum dominance seriously, while in their own country booking successes through exorbitant profits for the military-industrial complex and the realization of radical legislation.Dan Plesch in The Guardian sums it up in one sentence: 'All the signs are that Bush is planning for a neocon-inspired military assault on Iran'.

'Americans don't have much time to realize this and to act before it is too late. Bush's "surge" speech last Wednesday night makes it completely clear that his real purpose is to start wars with Iran and Syria before failure in Iraq brings an end to the neoconservative/Israeli plan to establish hegemony over the Middle East', writes Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan. 'Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush's nationwide address, NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said "there's a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue — in the country and the world — in a very acute way"', writes Robert Parry.

Should it come to war, then the advice of Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Ronald Reagan, could end up being heeded. He is pleading for the impeachment of Bush as a way to prevent the war. Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a presidential candidate for 2008, is threatening impeachment if Bush declares war on Iran. The criticism by Roberts is in line with that of Republican Rep. Ron Paul, who warns that Bush could order a 'Gulf of Tonkin type situation', i.e. a false-flag operation, as an excuse to attack Iran. The Republican Senator Chuck Hagel: '"I will do everything I can to stop the president's policy as he outlined it (last) Wednesday night"', who together with two Democrats and a Republican has introduced a resolution opposing the plans of President Bush.

the Guardian: Europe resists US pressure to boost presence in Afghanistan - by Ian Traynor

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Europe resists US pressure to boost presence in Afghanistan - by Ian Traynor

Europe appeared last night to be resisting pressure from Washington to pour more money and troops into Afghanistan in expectation of a major campaign in the spring. As the European commission announced it was cutting aid to Kabul, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, used a special meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels to demand greater input from the Europeans. Her demand came after the unveiling of a muscular new policy in Washington, with the administration asking Congress to earmark more than $10bn for Afghanistan. "I am relatively optimistic that other nations will step up to the plate," said the Nato secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. But he was rebuffed by his own country, with the Dutch foreign minister, Bernard Bot, saying it was up to others to match the US offer.

The commission said yesterday it planned to put €600m (£395m) into Afghanistan over the next four years. It spent €1bn in the past four years. The money is largely for civil reconstruction projects, with around a quarter of it targeted at eradicating opium poppy cultivation.

Bloomberg.com: European Money-Supply Growth Is Fastest in 17 Years - by Matthew Brockett

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European Money-Supply Growth Is Fastest in 17 Years - by Matthew Brockett

Money-supply growth in the euro region unexpectedly accelerated in December to the fastest pace in almost 17 years, increasing pressure on the European Central Bank to raise interest rates. M3 money supply, which the ECB uses as a gauge of future inflation, rose 9.7 percent from a year earlier after gaining an annual 9.3 percent in November, the central bank said today. That's the highest growth rate since February 1990, according to ECB records. Economists expected the rate to drop to 9.2 percent in December, the median of 35 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey showed.

The ECB raised its benchmark rate for the sixth time in December, taking it to 3.5 percent from 2 percent a year earlier, to keep prices contained amid the fastest economic expansion since 2000. ECB executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said this week that further rate increases may be needed to guard against inflation caused by excessive borrowing.

GlobalResearch.ca: Iran Must Get Ready to Repel a Nuclear Attack - by General Leonid Ivashov

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Iran Must Get Ready to Repel a Nuclear Attack - by General Leonid Ivashov

In the overall flow of information coming from the Middle East, there are increasingly frequent reports indicating that within several months from now the US will deliver nuclear strikes on Iran. For example, citing well-informed but undisclosed sources, the Kuwaiti Arab Times wrote that the US plans to launch a missile and bomb attack on the territory of Iran before the end of April, 2007. The campaign will start from the sea and will be supported by the Patriot missile defense systems in order to let the US forces avoid a ground operation and to reduce the efficiency of the return strike by “any Persian Gulf country”.

The most important aspect of the matter is that a zone of an endless bloody conflict will be created at the core of the Middle East, and that the countries neighboring Iraq – Iran, Syria, Turkey (Kurdistan) – will inevitably be getting drawn into it. This will solve the problem of completely destabilizing the region, a task of major importance for the US and especially for Israel. The war in Iraq was just one element in a series of steps in the process of regional destabilization. It was only a phase in the process of getting closer to dealing with Iran and other countries, which the US declared or will declare rouge. This will be the second case of the use of nuclear weapons in combat after the 1945 US attack on Japan.

How will other nuclear powers react? As for Russia, at best it will limit itself to condemning the strikes, and at worst – as in the case of the aggression against Yugoslavia – its response will be something like “though by this the US makes a mistake, the victim itself provoked the attack”. Europe will react in essentially the same way. Possibly, the negative reaction of China and several other countries to the nuclear aggression will be stronger. In any case, there will be no retaliation nuclear strike on the US forces (the US is absolutely sure of this). Today, the probability of a US aggression against Iran is extremely high. It does remain unclear, though, whether the US Congress is going to authorize the war. It may take a provocation to eliminate this obstacle (an attack on Israel or the US targets including military bases). The scale of the provocation may be comparable to the 9-11 attack in NY. Then the Congress will certainly say “Yes” to the US President.

General Leonid Ivashov is the vice-president of the Academy on geopolitical affairs. He was the chief of the department for General affairs in the Soviet Union’s ministry of Defense, secretary of the Council of defense ministers of the Community of independant states (CIS), chief of the Military cooperation department at the Russian federation’s Ministry of defense and Joint chief of staff of the Russian armies

Prague Daily Monitor: Czechs to inform Merkel on negative stand on EU constitution

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will visit Prague on Friday, will probably learn from Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) and President Vaclav Klaus that they are against the European constitution in its current wording. Germany that holds the six-month EU rotating presidency has set it its goal to negotiate the future of the document after it was rejected by two EU countries - France and the Netherlands - in referendums last year. Germany wants to draft a timetable of the ratification of the current EU constitution that is to become the European Union fundamental document.

However, Klaus has not welcomed its efforts. "Let´s be cautious regarding the German presidency efforts to re-open the discussion on the European constitution," he said in his New Year´s Day speech.

Note EU-Digest: the EU will never be able to function properly without a constitution. Every member should do a far better job at communicating to its citizens how they have benefited from 50 years of European cooperation, and how a truly united European Union, which speaks with one voice and follows common rules is the only guarantee for a secure and prosperous future for each individual member state."

Radio Netherlands - What next for the European constitution?

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What next for the European constitution?

The European Constitution may have been pronounced 'dead' here in The Netherlands but elsewhere attempts to bring it back to life are gathering pace. Germany is planning to come up with a declaration on how to move forward now that it has the reins of the EU, and on Friday the 18 countries that have already ratified the treaty will get together in Madrid and demand to know what those still dithering, and those who've rejected it outright, are planning to do next.

British MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Andrew Duff is at the forefront of this new push and he's currently touring the EU in a bid to promote the constitution - of which he's a big fan. He has just visited the Netherlands where he gave a pep talk to politicians in The Hague. Yet, even though he's a fervent supporter of the constitution, he says Friday's meeting in Spain is a bad idea. Mr Duff argues that the constitution is an issue best left to the Germans. They currently hold the rotating EU presidency and have promised to come up with a declaration on how to proceed from here.

The Georgian Times: The World Expecting Global Revolution

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The World Expecting Global Revolution

The arrival of the 21st century has seen the emergence of a new, modern ‘cold war’. This ‘cold war’ could even be called the Third World War because of its large scale and dynamics. This phase of global rivalry is different from antecedent conflicts in that today’s violence is more covert than the violence of yesteryear’s global conflicts. Today’s war is less about open nuclear posturing; we might say that confrontation has shifted to a ‘global underground’ and developed into guerilla-warfare.

The latest developments in global politics have proved that the collapse of the USSR did not end the Cold War or the US-Russia contest for world dominance. The US keeps trying to spread its influence in Russia’s southern and western regions, as well as to strategically important countries in Asia. Meanwhile, Russia maintains a strategic alliance with China, India and Iran, and tends to lure Central Europe into this group.

In this context, we can say that Russia (which ‘openly’ exports nuclear programs to the various corners of the world) and Europe (which always runs counter to the US efforts to forestall the emergence of new nuclear states) are to some extent interested to see many such nuclear states on this earth to foil the US’ aspiration for a unipolar world and to spur the creation of a multi-polar, regionally-based world order.

EUX.TV - EU: one billion euro for Lebanon

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EU: one billion euro for Lebanon

The European Commission has pledged an additional amount of 400 million euro for long-term reconstruction in Lebanon as a donation during the international donor conference in Paris. Several EU member states have also pledged donations.

The total amount put on the table by the EU and its member states is expected to exceed one billion euro. France on Wednesday said it will offer Lebanon, one of its former protectorates, a loan of 500 million euro. Belgium and the Netherlands are among those expected to pledge smaller amounts.

SignOnSanDiego.com -- EU, Australia, Argentina, Brazil join Canada in WTO complaint against U.S. corn subsidies

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EU, Australia, Argentina, Brazil join Canada in WTO complaint against U.S. corn subsidies

The European Union, Australia, Argentina and Brazil have joined Canada in a complaint against the United States over what they claim are illegal government handouts to American corn growers, trade officials said Monday. The request for consultations, filed by the four trading powers and others at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization, threatens a major commercial dispute at a time when global free trade talks remain stalled over agricultural tariffs and subsidies and the U.S. begins debating a new multibillion-dollar farm bill.

Canada lodged its complaint on Jan. 8, claiming that some $9 billion paid out by the U.S. annually in export credit guarantees and other subsidies unfairly and illegally deflated international corn prices. “This is not just about corn,” said Clodoaldo Hugueney, Brazilian ambassador to the WTO. “Brazil is the world's largest ethanol exporter, so this is an important issue for us.”

FreshPlaza: Suriname improves banana production with EU funding

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Suriname improves banana production with EU funding

Since 2004, banana production in Suriname has increased dramatically with funding assistance from the European Union (EU). Restructuring of the banana industry has led to the export of 80 to 90 containers weekly, thus doubling the production of the now defunct state-owned company Surland. Banana operations are currently being conducted by the Foundation for Preservation of the Banana Sector (SBBS). According to European Commission’s representative for Suriname, Helena Laakso, and Minister of Development Cooperation, Rick van Ravenswaay, the EC so far has provided about 20 million euros for the restructuring of the banana industry.

On Thursday the EC, the Ministry of Development Cooperation and a contractor signed an agreement to improve the drainage at the two banana plantations in Suriname. Within eight months Surinamese contractor BROCAD/Van Dijk who won the contract worth 331,000 euros, should supply and install 11 pumps at the two plantations.

Suriname is producing bananas in a competitive way and the country can compete with the rest of the world’s banana producers. Minister Van Ravenswaay disclosed that the privatisation of the banana industry is still on the agenda of the government. All the activities and projects to restructure the sector are aimed at improving the viability of the sector in order to offer the operations in an international bidding round.

FinalCall.com: Support for U.S. wanes among Latin American elites but favors EU and China - by Jim Lobe

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Support for U.S. wanes among Latin American elites but favors EU and China - by Jim Lobe

Elites in the major countries of Latin America are increasingly bullish about their nations’ economies and increasingly alienated from the United States, according to a new survey by Zogby International, released this week by “Newsweek” magazine. The poll of 603 prominent Latin Americans—politicians, businesspeople, academics and media figures, virtually all of them with university degrees—suggests that the United States is less important than in the past and has become increasingly unpopular under President George W. Bush. Indeed, 86 percent of respondents, including 81 percent who identified their political views as being right of center, characterized Washington’s handling of relations with Latin America as being either “fair” (48 percent) or “poor” (38 percent), compared to 13 percent who called them “good” and 1 percent who said they were “excellent.”

Anti-U.S. opinion was particularly pronounced in Mexico where nearly 2 out of 3 respondents described relations with Washington as “poor.”

While 58 percent of respondents said trade agreements with the United States were either “important” (26 percent) or “extremely important” (32.5 percent) to the region’s economy, that fell well short of the 80 percent who described such ties with the EU and the 70 percent who cited trade ties with China in the same ways.

KRT Wire: Iran: Moderates on the rise: Recent elections throw a spotlight on rumbles against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Iran: Moderates on the rise: Recent elections throw a spotlight on rumbles against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN, Iran - Even as Tehran ignores threats from the U.S. and other foreign powers, shouts and murmurs from within may begin to take a toll on the conservative mullahs running Iran. The Islamic Republic's version of Generation Next, eager for wider economic and educational horizons, is finding its voice. The challenge was heard a few days before local elections late last year. Students at prestigious Amir Kabir University in Tehran rallied against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a speech. In a nation where "Death to the United States" is a routine chant during Friday prayers, student protesters - angered in part by the regime's renewed purges of professors - unleashed a loud and stunning rebuke: "Death to the dictator."

The elections themselves presented an apparent backlash against the ruling class. Moderately conservative candidates opposed to Ahmadinejad - a leader who seems to revel in bombast designed to isolate Iran from Western values and allies - made unexpected gains. In polls where voter turnout topped 60 percent, the shift was widely seen as a comeuppance to the hard-line conservatives and military guard who engineered Ahmadinejad's rise two years ago.