"Walter McDougall: Will “Europe” Survive the 21st Century?
Source: Foreign Policy Research Institute (7-1-07)
[Walter McDougall is co-chair, with David Eisenhower, of FPRI’s History Institute for Teachers and, with James Kurth, of FPRI’s Center for the Study of America and the West. He is also the Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago in 1974 and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. His books include The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age, which won a Pulitzer Prize; Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776; Let the Sea Make a Noise: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur; and Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585–1828, the first volume of a trilogy on the history of the United States.]"
U.S. mortgage troubles extend to Germany - by Vikas Bajaj
Problems in the U.S. mortgage market are spreading deeper and farther afield. Trading in the shares of a large U.S. mortgage company was suspended Monday, and the largest insurer of home loans in the United States said its stake in a business that underwrites and invests in mortgage securities may be worthless.
Earlier, a small German bank acknowledged that its investments in American loans had deteriorated.
U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq at 3,646
As of Saturday, July 28, 2007, at least 3,646 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,992 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
"'The meaning of Europe is reconciliation'
Over the last 50 years, 77 year old Ferdinando Riccardi has witnessed the initial stages of the evolution of a Union undergoing total transformation. Editor and columnist for the daily bulletin, Agence Europe, the press agency for the EU, this Italian in love with Brussels is still an unwavering federalist
A large building, laid out beneath the Brussels sunshine, red bricks and a small park, a printing press on the ground floor, three stories of offices buried under mountains of paperwork, with cartoons and newspaper articles stuck on all the walls. The daily bulletin, ‘Agence Europe’(http://www.agenceurope.com/), a key source of information for European business professionals is translated into three languages before thousands of copies are distributed across both the physical and electronic world."
"Brussels aims to halt Polish road
The European Commission is seeking a court order to prevent Poland re-starting work on a road through a protected wildlife area.
The road - which carries traffic from Warsaw to Helsinki - goes through the Rospuda Valley - a peat-bog area that is home to rare plants and animals."
Spain Contador wins tour; organizers mull changes - by Alex Duff
Alberto Contador yesterday became the youngest cyclist in a decade to win the Tour de France, which was marred by doping scandals that left organizers considering changes to revive the 104-year-old race's image.
Faced with media boycotts and looking to protect $100 million of team sponsorships, organizers said they plan to vet next year's entrants themselves because cycling's ruling body isn't doing enough to dissuade cheats.
Southern Europe battles wildfires, heatwave eases; Italy declares disaster
Southern Europe battled remaining wildfires today as a blistering heatwave eased across the parched region and Italy declared a state of disaster for its worst affected areas. The government declaration, covering central and southern Italy, came after a week of devastating fires that have claimed five lives.
The French government is coming under increasing pressure over its deal with Libya to provide it with nuclear technology, Les Echos reports.
The deal, signed earlier this week following the freeing of the Bulgarian nurses by Tripoli, has been widely criticised in France and elsewhere, not least because of the speed with which it was reached."
"Why the European Union Must Go
From the desk of Fjordman on Wed, 2007-07-25 17:12
At the EU Observer, Anthony Coughlan, a senior lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, notes that in every EU member state at present the majority of laws come from Brussels. Why do national politicians and representatives accept this situation? He suggests a plausible explanation:
'At national level when a minister wants to get something done, he or she must have the backing of the prime minister, must have the agreement of the minister for finance if it means spending money, and above all must have majority support in the national parliament, and implicitly amongst voters in the country. Shift the policy area in question to the supranational level of Brussels however, where laws are made primarily by the 27-member Council of Ministers, and the minister in question becomes a member of an oligarchy, a committee of lawmakers, the most powerful in history, making laws for 500 million Europeans, and irremovable as a group regardless of what it does."
Race leader Rasmussen from Denmark kicked out of Tour de France
The reputation of the Tour de France lies in tatters this morning after race leader Michael Rasmussen was kicked out of the competition and sacked his Rabobank Team. The Dane, who was favourite to win the race, has been sacked for lying about his whereabouts during training in June. The fresh development follows the withdrawal of the Confidis and Astana teams after doping scandals.
Turkey's Election and Europe
on 2007/7/25 17:50:00 (43 reads)
By William Pfaff
Athens, July 24, 2007 – The crushing victory of the Justice and Development (AKP) party in Turkey’s parliamentary elections July 22, with a turnout of more than 80%, expressed a popular will by the Turkish electorate to achieve two seemingly contradictory objectives.
They endorsed the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who intends to go on pressing for Turkish membership in the European Union. They also conclusively expressed their support for the popular and middle-class religious movement that provides the AKP’s electoral base. In that respect, the vote implicitly rejected the secular republican values established in the 1923 republic by Kemal Atatürk.
"Deadly heat wave grips Europe
BUDAPEST, Hungary (Reuters) -- Up to 500 people are estimated to have died across Hungary last week, partly due to a heat wave gripping central and southeast Europe, Hungarian medical officials said on Tuesday.
Record-breaking high temperatures also killed 12 Romanians, one man in Macedonia and another man on the island of Corfu, officials said, while firefighters, soldiers and volunteers battled wildfires across a tinderbox southeastern Europe.
In southern Italy, thousands of tourists were trapped on beaches in the Puglia region as a fast-moving brush fire forced people from campsites and hotels to run for their lives. At least two people have died, local authorities said."
"EU Vows to Be Active in Planned International Mideast Talks
Talks on establishing a Palestinian state are to begin in the fall
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Talks on establishing a Palestinian state are to begin in the fall
The European Union has pledged to take on a major role in planned talks on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and urged Israel for further steps on commitments made to the Palestinian government.
The European Union has pledged to take on a major role in planned talks on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and urged Israel for further steps on commitments made to the Palestinian government."
"EU calls U.S. claim of Airbus aid 'completely unrealistic'
GENEVA - The European Union said a claim by the U.S. that Airbus SAS has benefited from government loans of as much as $205 billion since 1967 is 'completely unrealistic.'
Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Airbus filed reciprocal complaints against one another's government financing for developing new aircraft at the World Trade Organization in October 2004. On Tuesday, the two sides held their final face-to-face hearings over the U.S. complaint against Airbus. The cases are the biggest ever filed at the trade arbiter."
"Q&A: The new EU treaty explained
Last Updated: 2:08am BST 25/07/2007
What is it?
European Union leaders are rushing through a new “Reform Treaty” to replace the Constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. The 277-page EU Treaty text was tabled in Brussels on Monday - there are 145 pages of draft articles, 69 of protocols and 63 pages of declarations.
The document is only available in French, and the Government has refused to produce an official English translation until after the House of Commons takes its summer holidays. MPs will return to duty just 10 days before Gordon Brown signs a final Treaty in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on October 18 and 19. Rejecting referendum calls, the Prime Minister will press for parliamentary ratification on an EU Treaty that will have been negotiated without scrutiny by MPs."
EU seeks more radio frequencies for wireless services — EUbusiness - EU business, legal and financial news and information - EUbusiness.com
"EU seeks more radio frequencies for wireless services
25 July 2007, 15:23 CET
(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission called on Wednesday for more radio spectrum frequencies to be opened up for innovative mobile communications in the hope that Europe gets an edge in such emerging technologies.
Concretely, the European Commission wants to repeal a 1987 law on mobile telecommunications that set the GSM standard for Europe early on, giving an edge in mobile phone technology."
"Russia's Antics Deserve a Tough Response From EU: Matthew Lynn
By Matthew Lynn
July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Poisonings in London restaurants, expulsions of diplomats, foreign ministers snarling at each other. At this rate, they may have to rebuild Checkpoint Charlie, and dust off those Cold War spy manuals.
Over the last few months, relations between Europe and Russia have taken a turn for the worse."
"US plans for container security anger EU
The European commission is concerned about plans in the US Congress to drastically boost security measures for container ships, reports FT Deutschland.
The proposals – which have yet to be adopted by the US government – foresee a new rule whereby all container ships coming from the EU to the US would have to be X-rayed."
"EU takes credit for release of Bulgarian nurses
The release of the Bulgarian nurses held in Libya for eight years was “a great success for us all”, according to Benita-Ferrero Waldner, Les Echos reports.
The EU foreign affairs commissioner said she had worked closely with member states, in particular France, to facilitate the deal.
Liberation notes that commission president José Manuel Barroso thanked everyone who had helped in the affair, notably former UK leader Tony Blair, who worked tirelessly on the dossier when he was EU president in 2005."
"Miliband sees mouse, no mole at EU meet
Mon 23 Jul 2007, 16:46 GMT
[-] Text [+]
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A mouse sneaked into an EU ministers' lunch in Brussels on Monday, but Britain's top diplomat, embroiled in a row with Moscow over the killing of a Russian ex-spy, was at pains to insist it was no eavesdropping Russian mole.
'I hope it's not the case that the most memorable part of the lunch was the fact that a mouse was found alive in the ministerial dining room,' Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters after the meeting of EU foreign ministers."
"Will Turkey join the EU?
As of today, Turkey may be the only democratic government that has actually experienced success, rather than mere survival, in balancing the Islamic faith with secular government.
By Wm. Matthew Kennedy
Very little drama compares to that of Turkish politics. From its inception several centuries ago and through several different names, the leadership of Turkey carries with it more sway than initially meets the eye. But Sunday's election, in which favored candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged on top, marked the end to a conspicuously passionate struggle inside Turkey.
The pre-election jitters in Asia Minor always make the world a bit nervous, for the Turks inhabit one of the most strategically important positions on the globe. Turkey sits on both banks of the Bosporous Strait, the northern borders of Syria and Iraq, and nudges Iran and Russia towards the Caspian Sea. As a result, Turkish affairs, for at least the past 400 years, have managed to become everyone else's. Thus, Turkish problems evolve into global problems."
"Europe's view of the Reform Treaty
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at last month's EU summit
Ministers from EU member states have launched a three-month conference to finalise the details of the so-called Reform Treaty, the replacement for the doomed EU constitution.
But what do people across the EU think of the revival of the constitution in a different form? BBC correspondents find out."
"EU welcomes Erdogan election win
Mr Erdogan's AK Party increased its share of the vote by 12%
The EU has welcomed Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan's election victory, and urged him to relaunch reforms which could lead to membership of the bloc.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said a new Turkish government would need to make 'concrete progress' on freedom of expression and religion."
"Turkey and Iran Fuel Europe’s Energy Hopes
A deal signed by Iran and Turkey which could make it possible to transport Turkmen gas to Europe without going through Russia may be thwarted by the United States and Russia, say NBCentralAsia analysts.
On July 13, Turkey and Iran signed a protocol agreement to develop three gas wells on the South Pars shelf off the southwest coast of Iran. The two countries also agreed to export 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas – some of it Turkmen – to Europe every year."
"EU treaty must be re-written, warn UK MPs
A cross-party group of British MPs is calling on prime minister Gordon Brown to renegotiate urgently the wording of the reform treaty because they say it risks relegating national parliaments to mere satellites of Brussels, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The demand came as EU foreign ministers prepared to meet in Brussels today to launch the formal Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) that over the next few months will decide the precise treaty language."
"EU wants to protect European companies
The European commission could allow EU governments to use “golden shares” to prevent foreign governments from taking control of key industries, Handelsblatt reports.
EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said at the weekend that the blocking tactic could be used to protect “politically sensitive key industries”.
Although Brussels has traditionally opposed government interference on business investment, the rise of a new wave of wealthy sovereign investment funds controlled by countries like China, Russia and some Arab states has led to worries that they could buy companies in sectors such as defence or energy for political rather than economic reasons."
Prime Minister Francois Fillon's plans to put France's economy on a fast track may be difficult to realize without putting his European neighbors noses out of joint — again. In his first speech as prime minister to the National Assembly, Fillon said he plans to boost growth and reduce France's still high unemployment. Yet Fillon lacks a road map for his plans and reforms such as reducing taxes and improving the ailing university system will cost money.
"The EU's Iraq
by Hannes Artens, Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 08:55:02 PM EST
While the nation is still debating whether the Iraq war really is 'the most disastrous geopolitical tactic since Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia in 1914' or to send Keith Olbermann back to history class, developments loom ahead in the Middle East that may in the worst case prove even more disastrous than the `03 decision to invade Iraq. Developments largely neglected in U.S. corporate media; developments for once not the result of George Bush's bovine ignorance or Dick Cheney's sinister megalomania; developments not contrived in obscure neocon-devil's workshops but to be accounted for by liberal secularists and apologists of soft power. Developments that may take a turn for the worse today as Turkey votes."
"Erdogan promises to pursue EU membership
The victorious party leader, Tayyip Erdogan appeared on the balcony of the AK party headquarters in Ankara to a rapturous reception. Flanked by his right hand man, the foreign minister Abdullah Gul, and various other political dignitaries, he thanked the crowd for delivering such a resounding victory. He told the party faithful that democratic reforms and economic development will continue. And he said that he will continue to strive to get EU membership for Turkey."
"Europe, the Killer Continent
From the desk of The Brussels Journal on Sat, 2007-07-21 08:49
A quote from Ralph Peters in an interview at Frontpage Mag, 19 July 2007
[T]he notion that Europe, the continent that's exported more death and destruction than any other, is going to just shuffle wimpily to its doom is crazy. The Europeans have been playing pacifist dress-up while [America] protected them, but, sufficiently threatened, they'll revert to their historical pattern – which is to over-react. Europe's Muslims may prove to be the real endangered species; after all, Europe's history of dealing with rejected minorities veers between genocide and, for the lucky, ethnic cleansing. For me, the question isn't whether Muslims will take over Europe, but whether Europe will simply expel them or kill any number of them first. Sound far-fetched? How would the Holocaust have sounded to an educated German (or Brit, or American) in 1932? Europe is a killer continent. When the chips are down, it will kill again."
European Hackers take over Thai Government sites - by KOMSAN TORTERMVASANA
Pranksters who hacked into the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry website on Thursday, posting a picture of Thaksin Shinawatra along with anti-dictatorship statements on its homepage, may be European-based Thais with sympathies for the ousted government, officials said yesterday. ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said an investigation into the IP addresses of the hackers showed the web attacks were carried out from Europe. Officials said attacks were launched from three countries, one of them Germany.
Turkey's election has no losers - by M K Bhadrakumar
Addressing an election rally on Tuesday in the central Anatolian town of Isparta, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed that he will quit politics if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is not returned to power in the parliamentary elections on Sunday.
All pre-poll surveys have come up with the assessment that the AKP is set to receive a handsome mandate from the Turkish electorate. Some surveys predict that the ruling Islamist party may secure as many as 40% of the votes as compared with its 2002 tally of 34.4%.
As a grassroots politician, Erdogan must have begun to feel in his bones already, after the grueling weeks of campaigning in dusty provincial towns like Isparta, sipping endless cups of black tea and chatting with carpet traders and peasants, that he is at the threshold of a fantastic political victory against formidable odds.
Polish Prime Minister Kaczynski Is Poland's Worst Since 1989 - Poll
In a poll run after Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's first year in office, the Polish people rated him the worst Prime Minister to hold office since 1989. And they rated Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, whom Kaczynski fired and took his position, as the best. This poll is released the day after Kaczynski announced that everything in Poland was good. He praised his Government because the economy is booming, social benefits are better and unemployment is down . He said that if the economy continues to do as well as it is now, in a couple years there will be no unemployment in Poland.
According to the poll only 40% of the people think that the Government is doing a good job on the economy. And only 28% think that he is doing a good job solving the unemployment problem.
Sarkozy offers UK regular talks on Europe
Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, has proposed that France and Britain hold regular meetings to “harmonise” their positions ahead of important European Council summits, raising the suggestion on the eve of Gordon Brown’s first visit to Paris as UK prime minister. The proposal echoes previous – and unsuccessful – initiatives to form a “troika” of the European Union’s three biggest members to shape the 27-member organisation’s agenda.
Killer heat bakes Europe- by Veronika Oleksyn
A heat wave sweeping central and southeastern Europe has killed at least 13 people this week, with soaring temperatures causing forest fires and damaging crops, officials said Friday. In Romania, where temperatures reached about 104°F Friday, the Health Ministry said at least nine people have died since Monday due to the heat wave. In Austria, where highs in most parts of the Alpine country have hovered near or above 95°F for days, the health ministry said the deaths of three people in the country's south on Thursday were likely heat-related. Veronika Oleksyn
One in ten drink-drivers on rehab course comes from Eastern Europe - by Ben Webster
More than one in ten motorists sent on a drink-drive rehabilitation course is from Eastern Europe, according to figures on the growing problem of unsafe foreign drivers on British roads. Eastern Europeans caught by roadside breath tests are also twice as likely as the average drink driver to be serious offenders who have at least two-and-a-half times the legal limit of alcohol in their systems.
The figures come a month after the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which handles claims from crashes caused by uninsured drivers, said that the number of claims against Polish drivers had more than tripled in the past two years. No records are kept of the number of foreign drivers or foreign vehicles in Britain but the total has risen sharply
U.S. Economy Seen Contracting - by Candice Choi
The U.S. economy should contract slightly in coming months as the ongoing slump in the housing industry takes a deeper toll on the economy, a gauge of future business activity showed Thursday. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators fell 0.3 percent in June, higher than the 0.1 percent drop analysts were expecting and more than reversing last month's revised growth of 0.2 percent.
Herald Tribune: ECB defends its independence as war of words escalates with Paris - by Carter Dougherty
ECB defends its independence as war of words escalates with Paris - by Carter Dougherty
The European Central Bank on Wednesday flatly rejected as "unacceptable" new French attempts to secure greater political influence over monetary policy. France did not give ground, however, and suggested that other countries suffering from the strong euro would come around to its view.
Article 108 of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which established the bank, emphasizes its independence from other European Union institutions and national governments. It explicitly states that European officials should "respect this principle and not seek to influence the members of the decision-making bodies of the ECB." In an interview published Wednesday in the International Herald Tribune, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the European affairs minister of France, said Paris would press for euro-zone finance ministers to confront the ECB directly over interest rate policies.
Travel : Bargains to Europe abound - by CLARA BOSONETTO MAERZ
Now that summer is winding down and students and teachers are returning home from their overseas adventures, bargains are starting to pop up for the value season, or for trips started in late summer through the fall.In Europe also choose from 18 Thalys high speed trains scheduled each day that get you from Paris to Brussels in under 90 minutes. The lowest rates, available in second class, offer passengers reclining seats and a buffet car and bar services.
"Sex in Europe: Mechanical Masturbation
In northern Europe, one out of two women uses a mechanical sex toy and 'Tupper-dildo' parties are increasingly popular. According to a recent survey, more than half of Irish, Swedish and British women own an electronic boyfriend; the south remains more prudish and pleases itself with sombre rosary beads. But the barbaric invasion of the Dildo knight and his squires is well underway.
The shady sex shops of Pigalle in Paris or Amsterdam are just about finished. For example, aficionados can purchase their beloved vibrator or dildo at Ann Summers at London Luton airport, before taking off for real."
Libya cashes in on misery
The Sordid saga of the Bulgarian nurses effectively held hostage by Libya since 1999, accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 children with the virus that causes AIDS, appears to be nearing resolution. So much about the case has been cynical and shabby that its distasteful ending is hardly a surprise. The families of the infected children waited until yesterday morning to verify that cheques for one million dollars had cleared, allowing them to sign agreements renouncing their claims for the Bulgarian nurses to be executed.
Libya's ruler, Muammar Qaddafi, never appeared embarrassed that two eminent international experts in the field of HIV infection, Luc Montagnier and Vittorio Colizzi, testified that the children were infected with HIV a year before the arrival of the Bulgarian medical staff, most probably because of poor hygiene at the hospital. With public opinion in Libya outraged, a show trial of the Bulgarians (several of whom insist they were tortured to sign confessions), was in order.
Reuters Africa: Turkish ruling party tipped to win election(but short of two thirds majority)- by Gareth Jones
For the complete report from Reuters.com click on this link
Turkish ruling party tipped to win election(but short of two thirds majority)- by Gareth Jones
Turks elect a new parliament on Sunday in what has been billed as one of the most important polls of their recent history following a clash between the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party and the nation's secular elite. The pro-business, centre-right AK Party is widely predicted to win the election but with a reduced majority and well short of the two thirds of seats required to change the constitution.
Istanbul the third best of Europe
The magazine "Travel and Leisure," which has a 1.5 million circulation rate, has done a questionnaire about the best cities and hotels of Europe. Istanbul obtained 84.78 points out of 100 and was chosen as the third best city in Europe. According to the questionnaire, Florence was chosen as the best city and Rome came in second. Istanbul, being the third, is ahead of such famous European cities as Paris, Barcelona, Venice and Prague. Istanbul was also chosen as the 8th best city worldwide and the most "exotic" city of the world.
The Age of Murdoch - by James Fallows
Many see him as a power-mad, rapacious right-wing vulgarian. Rupert Murdoch has indeed been relentless in building a one-of-a kind media network that spans the world. What really drives him, though, is not ideology but a cool concern for the bottom line—and the belief that the media should be treated like any other business, not as a semi-sacred public trust. The Bush Administration agrees. Rupert Murdoch has seen the future, and it is him
Golf: The man who made Europe great, nobody did it like steve - By Robert Philip
Three-time Open champion and twice winner of the Masters, everybody - well, everybody except a number of Americans who thought he should desert Europe and join the 'big boys' on the US Tour - loved Seve. The fans loved him because not since Arnold Palmer hitched up his pants, lit a king-size and let rip with his club had anyone played golf like a lion taking on a wildebeest.
Television loved Seve because he made golf sexy. The tournament sponsors loved him because the crowds turned out in their droves to follow him through car parks and bunkers and bushes and streams to victory. And the players loved him because not only was he instrumental in the huge increase in prize-money on offer in Europe but because even when he was the world No 1, he was just so damned likeable.
Iran to sell gas to Europe via Nabucco
Iran to sell gas to Europe via Nabucco
Iran will sell its gas to partner countries of the Nabucco gas pipeline, a project to pump Caspian gas to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria, an Iranian official told a news conference in Turkey on Tuesday. The official also said a deal with Turkey to sell gas and develop Iran’s South Pars gas fields will not affect an existing agreement made with Austria’s OMV. “We will sell our gas through Turkey to Nabucco partner countries, including Austria,” said Iranian economic relations under-secretary Ahmed Noorani.
The Nabucco pipeline, which is estimated to cost e 4.6 billion, is projected to carry 31 billion cubic metres of Caspian and Middle East gas to European markets.
Commentary: Body language spells out shift in triangle power - by Roger Boyes
the management of Europe is changing: to secure consensus in the swollen Union, different heavyweight leaders may have to be enlisted to lean on dissidents. President Sarkozy was swift to understand this and made himself useful to Chancellor Merkel, both at the G8 summit in Heligendamm - where he helped to build the consensus around climate change - and at the last EU summit of the German presidency, when he applied subtle pressure on the Poles.
This stole some of the Chancellor’s thunder but signalled the coming shift in the way that Europe is going to be run: each EU presidency is going to have to be helped out by an informal directorate of the diplomatically gifted. Mrs Merkel signed up not only Sarko but also Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg to save the last EU summit.
London keeps euro adoption under review, Brown says
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that Britain kept the question of adopting the euro under regular review. "The issue of Britain's membership of the euro is something that we periodically review," Brown said at a news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. "We did not join in the first round," he said. "That is a matter we keep under review."
Brown also said it was important for the world economy that European growth continue.
Europe wants 'holistic' maritime policy
The European Union (EU) is working to produce what it sees as a comprehensive European maritime policy, covering sustainable development of Europe's oceans, seas and coastal areas. The process began in June last year, when the European Commission (EC) adopted a Green Paper on a Future Maritime Policy for the European Union. The European Parliament last week gave its support for a new European Maritime Policy and adopted a report by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Willy Piecyk.
London gets free wi-fi network - by Antony Savvas
A free metropolitan wi-fi network has been launched in London, continuing the gradual trend towards free public wireless access in Europe. The free-hotspot.com group and wi-fi network infrastructure company MeshHopper have joined forces to offer free wi-fi access to businesses and the public along a 22km stretch of the River Thames.
The free network, which has been branded as "online-4-free.com", gives users free access if they agree to view a 15 to 30 second advert every 15 minutes. If users don't want to view the adverts, they are charged one of a range of tariffs.
An Anticompetitive Europe Must Not Rise - by Dedan Gantley
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who offered the promise of challenging vested interests, has now reverted to the status quo of European elites from whence he came. At the recent European Union summit, he proposed slashing from the new European Constitution (which has been deliberately mislabeled a "reform treaty") its commitment to "free and undistorted competition." This is one of the few components of the Constitution that was clear and unambiguous, and which has been included in every version since the founding Treaty of Rome in 1957.
The removal of the competition clause raises grave questions about the EU's ability to take on monopolies, pursue antitrust measures, and tackle so-called "national champions"—the incumbent cartels much beloved of Sarkozy's predecessor (and manifested in his own case by the bailout of Alstom during his tenure as a deficit-increasing Finance Minister).
In Europe, Bustling East Props Up the West - by Markus Walker
A long column of trucks winding east along a rutted road in the Polish countryside testifies to a little-noticed shift in the global economy: Soaring exports to Europe's postcommunist East are propping up economic growth in Western Europe.
Most economists expected the recent recovery in the 13-nation euro zone -- dominated by Germany, France and Italy -- to falter this year as slowing U.S. growth, high oil prices, the euro's surge against the dollar and rising interest rates took their toll. Instead, Europe's economic heartland is powering ahead, and companies in the region are busy investing
Firefox nears 30% market share in Europe - by Gregg Keizer
Europe is a fortress for Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox browser, which enjoys a market share nearly 50% higher than in the U.S., a French Web-measuring company reported today. According to July data from XiTiMonitor, Firefox accounted for 27.8% of browsers used in Europe, an increase of 3.6 percentage points from the March measurement. XiTiMonitor's survey of almost 96,000 sites in 32 European countries -- from Ireland to Ukraine, Finland to Greece -- also said Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer held a 66.5% market share, with Opera, Safari and Netscape rounding out the top five with 3.5%, 1.7% and 0.3%, respectively.
Slovenia, Finland and Slovakia had the greatest Firefox penetration, with the open-source browser accounting for 47.9%, 45.4% and 40.4%, respectively, during a weeklong stretch from July 2 to July 8. Other Firefox strongholds include Germany (38%), Poland (39.6%) and Ireland (38.6%).
Bloomberg.com: World Economy -Stocks in U.S. Poised for 10 Percent Drop, Options Bets Show - by Nick Baker and Michael Tsang
Stocks in U.S. Poised for 10 Percent Drop, Options Bets Show - by Nick Baker and Michael Tsang
Bets in the options market against the Standard & Poor's 500 Index have exceeded wagers it will rise by a 2-to-1 margin for a month, the longest since Bloomberg began compiling the data in 1995. That's seen as a warning sign the market is due for a decline of 5 to 10 percent after the S&P 500 rose to two records last week, say managers of almost $1 trillion at Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management, National City Private Client Group and Russell Investment Group.
. The Leuthold Group, whose flagship fund has beaten 99 percent of similar funds over the last five years, expects the S&P 500 to slide as much as 19 percent by the end of the year.
Emperor Sarkozy ? - by Susan Easton
This past week, the European Commission Chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, floridly proclaimed: “The EU is not just any old international organization, nor is it a super state, but it might just be an Empire.” To which he added for emphasis: “We are a very special construction, unique in the history of mankind.” On Bastille Day, (Saturday July 14th) Sarkozy led the traditional parade down the Champs Elysees. Escorted by mounted regiments of the French Republic Guards, he stood up in the back of a French military vehicle as it passed around the Arc de Triomphe. Behind him -- at his invitation -- marched troops from the 26 other European Union nations. It is the first time such a military display was ever coordinated.
For some time there has been chatter about creating an EU Army. Just days before this major French holiday, Sarkozy gave a speech to a gathering of European defense ministers and military officers. "The basis for a European defense exists. We must make it grow," Sarkozy said, "I want Europe to be capable of ensuring its security autonomously." Emphasis on the “I.”
EU insurance sector overhaul to trigger merger and acquisition activity
The Commission unveiled its proposed Solvency II directive on 10 July, introducing a major reform of the supervisory framework for the insurance and reinsurance industries. The proposal was welcomed by large industry players who see it as an opportunity to expand their activities in other European states.
Microsoft Vista under fire - by Duncan McLeod
"In 2000, Microsoft foisted a dog of an operating system onto the world. Windows Millennium Edition (Me) was unstable to the point of being unusable. Now some commentators are drawing parallels between it and Windows Vista, Microsoft’s new baby.
Is Microsoft repeating history with Vista, its shiny new operating system released in January? If one believes the news reports, it seems consumers are far from happy with Microsoft’s latest offering. Some people are even drawing parallels between Windows Me and Vista. In my experience, Vista is not nearly as awful as Me. But Microsoft is having problems convincing consumers why they should not simply continue using XP.
But perhaps the biggest criticism of Vista has been its insatiable hunger for system resources. It will run on a PC with 1GB of RAM, but 2GB is strongly preferred. By contrast, XP ran happily on 512MB. Vista’s nifty Aero interface — the eye candy that makes it look so good — is also a resource hog, consuming memory and processor cycles."
More than half of all German companies use Open Source
German companies are world leaders in the use of Open Source software. In a survey of IT procurement officers from Germany, Great Britain, and the US/Canada, 59 percent of those in Germany said that they use OSS in their companies. The figures were far lower in Great Britain and the US/Canada at 48 and 38 percent, respectively.
Eighty (80%) percent of those surveyed said that the main benefit of Open Source was that no licensing fees had to be paid. In addition, the companies used OSS because they found it to be more flexible, because they wanted access to the source code, because they use open platforms, and because they want to be independent of proprietary providers such as Microsoft. Those surveyed said that the main drawbacks were the lack of long-term support, exemption from the rights of third parties, possible incompatibility with current IT infrastructure, and a lack of familiarity with OSS in the company. Nonetheless, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for 60 percent of those surveyed.
Iceland ranks top in happy citizen table - by Duncan Campbell
Iceland is the leader in a league table judging the European country best able to give citizens a long and happy life. Estonia comes bottom of the 30-nation survey while the UK lurks below Romania, at number 21 in the chart.
The European Happy Planet Index used carbon efficiency, life satisfaction and life expectancy to rate the countries. The survey, published by the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth, reveals that Europe is now worse at creating well-being than it was 40 years ago.
AEGON: Proposed EU Solvency II Directive Will Strengthen Europe's Insurance Industry
AEGON welcomes the publication of the European Commission's proposed new Solvency II framework directive. If adopted, AEGON believes this proposed directive would lead to the creation of one of the most advanced and effective solvency and supervisory systems in the world, strengthening the European insurance industry and enhancing its overall competitiveness.
"Solvency II will strengthen Europe's insurance industry by creating an environment that encourages sound risk management based on economic principles," said Jos Streppel, Chief Financial Officer and member of the Executive Board of AEGON N.V. "Solvency II will bring benefits to all the industry's stakeholders, particularly to its many millions of customers and policyholders. With this new proposed directive, Solvency II will also allow insurance companies to manage their capital more efficiently."
AEGON has long supported the Solvency II process and, in the months to come, will continue that support. AEGON believes Solvency II will ensure not only more effective risk and capital management but also clearer, more harmonized industry regulation and a more level playing field for Europe's insurers.
Dutch cabinet minister: Netherlands will be Islamic - by Thomas Lifson
Unbelievable as it may seem, the Dutch 'Minister voor Wonen, Wijken en Integratie' (Residence, Neighbourhoods and Integration (I'm not making this up)), Ella Vogelaar, today has declared in an interview (in Dutch newspaper Trouw) that The Netherlands will be Islamic at some point in the future. She feels that The Netherlands should adapt to Islam, and subsidise Islamic institutions. What will emerge, according to her, is a "Christian-Jewish-Islamic culture". As if Christianity and Judaism aren't 100% opposite to Islam's teachings. The stupidity of the statement is mind boggling.
Europe's plunging birth rate 'will lead to pensions crisis' - by Nina Lakhani
Europe is getting old, and fast. Birth rates are falling below those necessary to replace older people as they die. The average birth rate in the European Union is down to 1.5 children per woman, and officials warn that unless it rises to 1.7, the EU will have difficulty financing its pension system. Portugal's birth rate fell last year to the lowest level since records began in 1935. Poland, with one of Europe's lowest fertility rates, recently began a program of tax breaks, longer maternity leave and better pre-school provision to encourage larger families. The Nordic model includes financial incentives and flexible working, and has seen the birth rate increase slightly in Norway and Sweden.
The population projection for the EU in 2050 is 450 million, almost 10 million fewer than in 2005. Before the end of the decade the proportion of people aged 60 or over will exceed the proportion of those under five. There are steadily fewer people of working age to support the elderly.EU Digest Comment: Enjoy sex, make babies, Europe needs your help.
"Energy: the new cold war
Since the close of the cold war, we have been growing used to threats such as terrorism where the enemy has no state or territory. But soon we will have to get used to new strategic challenges, such as energy security, where fossil fuels will be used as weapons to achieve political ends. Energy security will be synonymous with national security and economic security."
Becks Is Biggest Thing in US Since Beatlemania
David Beckham's arrival in Los Angeles has been likened to the wild hysteria of Beatlemania.In amazing scenes echoing the Sixties arrival of The Beatles, screaming fans have jostled to catch a glimpse of Becks, 32, and his wife Posh, 33. The England star was hailed as "the saviour of US soccer" when he was officially unveiled by his new team LA Galaxy on Friday.
A Second Reality Check-US Exceptionalism-by Michael van der Galien
“American exceptionalism” is something only Americans and perhaps some Eastern Europeans believe in, the rest of the world has to do its best not to laugh out loud when Americans say that their country is a beacon of hope, an example to the world. Yes, this sounds harsh, but if you want to understand the world, you have to understand this."
Russia Pulls out of Arms Treaty over US Plans in Bulgaria, Romania
US plans to deploy conventional arms in Bulgaria and Romania made Russia withdraw from a key post-Cold War arms control treaty, a Kremlin statement said. The US plans have had "a negative impact" on Russia's compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the statement said, as cited by RIA Novosti agency.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Saturday the country's involvement in the arms control treaty, which limits the deployment of military craft, including tanks, jets, artillery and combat vehicles in Europe.
For the complete report from the Guardian Unlimited click on this link
Britain's most senior generals have issued a blunt warning to Downing Street that the military campaign in Afghanistan is facing a catastrophic failure, a development that could lead to an Islamist government seizing power in neighbouring Pakistan. Amid fears that London and Washington are taking their eye off Afghanistan as they grapple with Iraq, the generals have told Number 10 that the collapse of the government in Afghanistan, headed by Hamid Karzai, would present a grave threat to the security of Britain.
What Can Turkish Elections Bring? by Orhan Tarhan
"On July 22 Turkey is going to have parliamentary elections. This year, the election is very important, because the laicists (secularists) will try to stop the Islamist AK Party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to secure its hold on the Turkish state and on life in Turkey. This election will decide what kind of country Turkey will be in the future: a secular, survivable country following Ataturk’s modernizing reforms or an Islamic country that has no future. Let us be clear on one thing: The Islamist AK Party is not made of the “good guys” as the American and European press are portraying them to be. They are the slow-movement acting kind of the same Islamists like those we are fighting against. Their only difference with the followers of Bin Laden is that they are no terrorist. Erdogan is not a democrat, as he is masquerading to be. By his own words, to him “Democracy is a means, not an aim.” And the laicists (secularists) Turks are not authoritarian people. They are the real democrats in Turkey, “the good guys” who consider democracy as an aim. I do not understand why American and European media turn things upside down."
For the complete report from Aviation and Aerospace click on this link
Austria takes delivery of first Eurofighter Typhoon
The Austrian Air Force's first Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, AS001, was delivered today at its home base at Zeltweg. Under a modified contract, Austria is now due to take delivery of 15 aircraft, three less than the originally contracted 18. Three more Eurofighters will be delivered to Zeltweg in August, October and December, with the rest following in 2008.
Iran, Turkmenistan to supply gas to Europe
A senior Turkish energy official said that Iran and Turkmenistan will pump 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Europe via Turkey, leaving no need for alternative supplies to the Nabucco pipeline project, Reuters reported. The official also announced that Turkey and Iran have agreed that the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) will produce 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas in the three phases of Iran's South Pars gas field.
Iran and Turkey have signed a preliminary agreement to pump Iranian gas to Europe via Turkey, a move that will open a new export market for Iran's massive reserves. The memorandum of understanding includes an agreement to pump gas from Turkmenistan to Turkey through Iran, and Tehran's approval for Ankara to develop the three phases of South Pars.
For the complete report from Gulfnews click on this link
Netherlands keen to attract Islamic banking says Wouter Bos, Dutch Finance Minister
The Dutch government will look into ways to attract Islamic banking to the Netherlands, the finance ministry said in a letter to parliament. "We think there are chances for the Dutch financial sector," said Finance Minister Wouter Bos in a letter on Friday answering questions from lawmakers. "Dubai and London are developing into the international centres for Islamic banking. The Netherlands is fit to also play a role here," Bos added.
Forbes.com: Bayer says oral contraceptive YAZ receives approval in the Netherlands - drug also clears acne
Bayer says oral contraceptive YAZ receives approval in the Netherlands - drug also clears acne
Bayer AG said its low-dose oral contraceptive YAZ received regulatory approval in the Netherlands, both for preventing unwanted pregnancies and treating acne. This regulatory nod -- the first in Europe -- will serve as a reference in the EU mutual recognition procedure that Bayer plans to launch in order to gain Europe-wide marketing approval.
YAZ has been on the US market since April 2006 and posts the highest growth rate among brand-name contraceptives.
For the complete report from The Australian click on this link
The UK takes another step away from US - by Tom Baldwin
"British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Government took another tentative step to distance itself from President George W. Bush yesterday, mixing praise for the US with carefully coded criticisms of its foreign policy. One of Mr Brown's closest allies, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, used a speech in Washington yesterday to rebuke what many in Labour's ranks regard as Mr Bush's unilateralist and high-handed approach over much of the past six years. Mr Alexander said that a country's might is "too often measured in what they could destroy" and that "in the 21st century, strength should be measured by what we can build together".
In an appeal for greater use of reformed multilateralist institutions such as the UN and the World Bank, he said: "Just as we need the rule of law at home to have civilization, so we need rules abroad to ensure global civilization."
For the complete report from ANTARA News click on this link
Air China to buy 23 Airbus planes for euro 1.05 billion (US $ 1.4 bln)
Air China (SEHK:0753) has signed a deal to buy 23 Airbus A320 passenger planes. Air China, the country's flag carrier, said the contract was signed under the framework agreement reached by Airbus and the Chinese government back in October last year for the purchase of 150 jets.
Scotsman.com - Scottish Beef watchdog to argue for immediate ban on Brazilian meat imports - by Dan Buglas
Scottish Beef watchdog to argue for immediate ban on Brazilian meat imports - by Dan Buglas
THE Scottish Beef Cattle Association (SBCA) is taking its case to Brussels on Monday arguing for an immediate ban on all imports of beef from Brazil. A delegation from the SBCA, including its president John Cameron and the chairman Jim Kennedy, will address the European Commission's council agricultural committee. The Scots will be joined by representatives from the Irish Farmers Association and the Irish Farmers Journal who earlier this year on a fact-finding mission uncovered what they allege are widespread failures regarding animal health and welfare as well as an apparent lack of traceability in Brazil.
CBC News: Cruise industry cheers cash, calls for port upgrades: European tourists appear to be key to the strategy
For the complete report from CBC News click on this link
Cruise industry cheers cash, calls for port upgrades : European tourists appear to be key to the strategy
Canada: The chairman of Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador says more than cash will be needed to promote the province as a tourist destination. The Canadian federal government has announced $300,000 to help market the province's ports to the cruise industry, with the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism department kicking in another $100,000. Stelman Flynn, who is chairman of Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador, said the money will help bring tourist business to more remote parts of the province, including communities in Labrador, where he lives.About 20,000 cruise ship passengers are expected to pass through St. John's this year. Next year, he said, the estimated intake is about 55,000 passengers.European tourists appear to be key to the strategy. Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador recently signed agreements with Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Orkney Islands to help promote cruises in the North Atlantic rim.The funds announced Monday will be used, in part, in advertising and trade shows to raise awareness of ports of call in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Military, mosques battle for Turkey- by Mitch Potter
These are topsy-turvy days for the unfinished business that is Turkish democracy, where the struggle for crucial parliamentary elections in eight days boils down to a contest of mosque versus military. On one side is Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is widely expected to earn a fresh mandate after a dichotomous four years in power.
Lining up in opposition are parties loyal to Turkey's omnipresent military establishment, which hovers in the background as the self-appointed guarantor of the secular system of governance founded from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire 84 years ago. Make no mistake that, in this election, size very much matters.
A dramatic AKP landslide will be difficult for traditionally pro-Western army brass and senior judiciary, which has a long and undemocratic history of dismissing governments it deems a threat to the strictly secular principles set down by the beloved founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
"It is worrying because the situation today is not a political crisis, it is an historical crisis," said Mehmet Altan, a professor of economics at the University of Istanbul. "We live in a military republic and it needs to become a democratic republic. This is an obligation. The struggle between military and mosque is the defining characteristic of power in Turkey. And we need to get over it, get past it somehow. "But in making this transition, Turkey is vulnerable to threat and that's why I am concerned. For me, the soldiers are dangerous and an Islamic state is dangerous. Both extremes make me uncomfortable."Going into these elections, however, Erdogan's AKP has turned that political equation upside down, coming off a four-year run of impressive reforms and fiscal belt-tightening that have earned the blessings of the business community, triggering an unprecedented surge of foreign investment. No one doubts the party's Islamist roots, or its social conservatism, but in opening Turkey to the global economy the AKP has won friends in unlikely places.
Pious Turks find their place in the sun
By day the Turkish women strip down to bikinis and belly-dance by the swimming pool. But at night they swathe their new suntans in headscarves and join their menfolk for dinner. The Bera Alanya is a five-star hotel on Turkey's Mediterranean coast where men and women have separate swimming pools and alcohol is not served – but female customers enjoy freedoms they often do not find in the public sector. The hotel is part of a growing sector in Turkey that caters for devout wealthy Muslims who want to enjoy the beach without compromising their beliefs – a conservative social class whose support will be key for the ruling AK Party at elections this month.
Behind the success of hotels such as Bera Alanya is an economic boom from which many religiously conservative Turks have greatly benefited. Islamic banks have also seen a boom.
A study by Resort magazine, published by the Mediterranean Hoteliers Associations, shows there are 27 hotels like this one on the coast. Most of them have opened since 2004.Many guests rejected the fears of Turkey's secularists, saying the AK Party has not taken any steps to increase the profile or role of religion in public life. Although they are not all AK Party supporters, many hope that a second term in office – which polls show is likely – will bring reforms to make life easier for devout Muslim Turks.
Have fun flirting with European cities - by Melissa Jenkins
The Spirit of Europe tour is a tease. Six countries in 12 days – you have just enough time to flirt with a city and fall in love, before moving on to a handsome, new contender for stand-out destination of the trip. But of all the holiday romances, it was hardest to farewell Amsterdam. Yes, there is the sleazy side to town, with the sex shows and the girls in glass windows winking at passers-by. And of course, there are the famous coffee shops that sell more than just caffeine.
But the city is not all about sex and spacecakes. Its canals invite comparisons with Venice but in Amsterdam the locals visibly outnumber tourists and ride old-school bikes in suits while still managing to look poised and chic.While Amsterdam was the most entertaining city on the trip, Budapest won the prize for the most indulgent, dripping with rich things to eat and experience.
The most charming way to spend an evening in Krakow Poland would have to be dinner and a stroll in the Jewish quarter Kazimierz, which Steven Spielberg used for location shots in his Oscar-winning film, Schindlers' List. Quirky little bars and cafes are sprinkled among the synagogues in the narrow streets. Our group had dinner at Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz. This cosy little restaurant serves Jewish and Polish specialities and seems as though it has been frozen in time. Brass fitted lights illuminate the small wooden tables, which are covered with lace clothes and candles. A wedding dress, suitcases and other bric-a-brac adorn walls. As we drank our Zubrowka vodka and spoke of our departure the next morning a mix of quiet sadness and anticipation hung over our table. I did not want to leave this stunner of a city but was equally excited to explore the next stop on our whirlwind journey.
SEXY EUROPE: So that's what they mean by European union - by Alan Riding
THE European Union feels unloved. Too many Europeans consider its governing bureaucracy, the European Commission, to be meddlesome, stuffy and generally out of touch. It has, you might say, an image problem: even when it does something useful, no one seems willing to give it credit. Just imagine, then, how Eurocrats in Brussels must have buzzed with excitement when some hip marketeer came up with the idea of reaching out to the public through a new website linked to YouTube. Surely young Europeans would now pay attention.
Well, they did, at least to one of the 49 clips now available on youtube.com/eutube. In less than three weeks "Film Lovers Will Love This!", as the video is teasingly called, has had close to 3.5 million hits. And, yes, it shows Europeans enjoying themselves being European — in bed.
USA: Pressure Cooker of Inflationary Food Prices
"The dollar index seems to be dropping towards that psychologically-important level of 80 as the dollar's buying power falls and falls because the Federal Reserve is creating so damned many of them. One day, soon enough, it will fall to the psychologically-important level of 70 and then the psychologically-important level of 60 on its way to that psychologically-important level of a big, fat zero, which has always been the fate of fiat currencies. This "psychologically-important" phrase keeps popping up because, surprisingly, the dollar index is also one-for-one with an index of the effectiveness of my medications in controlling my panic and outrage at the destruction of the dollar and the American economy. At a dollar index of 80, I am able to control 80% of my panic at the monetary and fiscal stupidities that are going to eat us alive. At a dollar index of 70, pills are but 70% effective. You can see where I am going with this. The bad news is that it gets really ugly and weird from there on down.
And helping that along, of course, is that the Federal Reserve is still constantly creating excess amounts of money and credit, and last week boosted Total Fed Credit (the fount of truly "money out of thin air" of story and song) by a whopping $9.7 billion. Admittedly, this only takes us to $857.3 billion TFC, which is actually lower than it was at the beginning of the year, but still within the dismal, long-standing up-trend since 1997.
All that creation of excess money and credit will show up as price inflation for two reasons. The first is that all imports (like oil) will cost more, thanks to the depreciated dollar, unless foreign exporters accept less buying power (but the same number of dollars) as payment for their exports, and the second is that price inflation always follows monetary inflation, and in rough degree to the degree of the accumulated excessive creation of money and credit. Always."
Wall Street Journal: Euro Has Germany, France Clashing Over ECB Policies - by Niels C. Sorell and Gabrielle Parussini
Euro Has Germany, France Clashing Over ECB Policies - by Niels C. Sorell and Gabrielle Parussin
The soaring euro is opening new rifts between Germany and France as the leaders of Europe's two largest economies prepare for an important summit next week.
As the euro has hit ever higher levels against the dollar, the yen and other major currencies in recent weeks, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for more input from political leaders into how the European Central Bank sets monetary policy for the 13 nations that use the currency. Mr. Sarkozy has cited the toll the strong euro has taken on French exports -- particularly plane maker Airbus.
Lebanon's rival parties, their nation in political deadlock and facing violence on its northern and southern flanks, are meeting outside Paris on Saturday for unusual, long-awaited talks. Hopes are not high for a breakthrough at the meeting, organized by the French Foreign Ministry.
Members of the country's 14 leading parties - including Hizbullah and its allies - will gather in the chateau at Celle Saint-Cloud, southwest of Paris, on Saturday and Sunday behind closed doors, with no set agenda. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and a few other French officials will be there, too, but as observers, not mediators.
Tour de France enters the Alps
After a week of flat stages and sprint finishes, for many the real Tour de France starts today as the field enters the Alps. Yesterday's final sprint finish was won by Tom Boonen but the Belgian admits he had a major hindrance going into the final mile.
Euro hits $1.38 after weak US sales
Euro hits $1.38 after weak US sales
This week, the euro has steadily risen to record heights with economic growth in the euro zone widely expected to outpace other major economic powers such as the US and Japan this year. Concerns about the troubled US sub-prime mortgage sector have also weighed heavily on the dollar. Earlier, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the soaring euro had had little impact on the euro zone economy.
For the complete report from the globeandmail.com click on this link
Turkey raises troop levels along Iraq border
Turkey's army has boosted troop levels in the restive southeast to more than 200,000, most of them stationed along the border with Iraq, security sources said yesterday. The unusually large buildup, which includes tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft, is part of a security crackdown on Kurdish rebels hiding in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, said the security sources, who declined to be identified. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed the estimate of 200,000 troops, saying it was too high.The top U.S. general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace, said Turkey has the capability to fight the rebels inside Iraq without boosting troop levels. "The truth of the matter is that the Turkish armed forces on their side of the border have always had sufficient forces to be able to take actions without having to be reinforced," Pace said.
EU-member candidate and NATO-member Turkey has refused to rule out a possible cross-border operation to crush up to 4,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorists believed to be based in mountains in northern Iraq, despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad. The military General Staff in Ankara was not immediately available for comment on troop numbers. It usually does not release such figures.
Poland's unsteady government - Crash, bang, fizzle (Europe's Banana Republic)
"Outsiders often mock Poland's prickly, obstinate prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. But a collapse of his government, followed by months of instability, might be worse. An anti-corruption watchdog this week named a deputy prime minister, the temperamental farmers' leader Andrzej Lepper, in a bribery scandal. Mr Kaczynski promptly sacked him (for the second time). Mr Lepper, who denies any wrongdoing, threatened to take his party, Self-Defence, out of the coalition. That would have meant minority rule and perhaps an early election, bogging down Poland's haphazard reforms completely. The European Union's most unpredictable member would be even harder to handle."
EUX.TV - ANALYSIS: Divided EU struggles to forge close ties with Russia- by Shada Islam,dp
European Union policymakers say it's no secret: dealing with an increasingly assertive, energy-rich Russia is the 27-nation bloc's biggest foreign-policy challenge. Relations between Europe and Russia contain a "level of misunderstanding or even mistrust we have not seen since the end of the Cold War," EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said recently.
Javier Solana, EU foreign and security policy chief, has also appealed for "calm" in EU-Russia links, arguing that given Moscow's global clout and vast energy resources, the two sides must forge a "deep and solid relationship."
JTW News - Consensus Culture within the EU: Reactions against Poland (Britain and the Netherlands) - by Mehmet Ozcan
Consensus Culture within the EU: Reactions against Poland (Britain and the Netherlands) - by Mehmet Ozcan
"A turning point in the EU history has been got through last week once again. Could the problems be solved? No. It is possible to state this clearly. We can clearly state this. The main issues that marked the summit had centered on the objections of the UK, France, the Netherlands and Poland."
Newropeans Magazine - European Union’s Defense Policy and Solidarity After the Incident with Russia - by Akli Hadid
European Union’s Defense Policy and Solidarity After the Incident with Russia- by Akli Hadid
"The Russia-EU summit in Samara, Russia resulted in the fact that the EU openly stated its solidarity among EU countries in terms of security from foreign threats. As Russia has threatened to aim missiles at the EU, it seems as though the EU now has an enemy: Russia." Note EU-Digest: what Mr. Hadid does not take into consideration is that Russia made this threat because the US unilaterally made the decision to place missiles and radar equipment in Poland and the Czech Republic, even though the majority of the population in the EU is against it. Unfortunately, this once again shows the weakness of the EU as a whole for not being able to stand up for what it believes in against the US and a minority of its own members (Poland - which nearly wrecked the last EU Summit, the Czech Republic and Britain). Russia certainly can not be considered Europe's enemy.
For the complete report in the International Herald Tribune click on this link
Europe looks at controls on state-owned investors - by Carter Dougherty
European policy makers are considering imposing controls on state-owned funds that take stakes in flagship European companies. The deliberations that have kicked off in recent weeks are a reaction to the uncertain political intentions of China and Russia as they start investing vast new reservoirs of cash in Western markets.
Whether backed by China's $1.2 trillion in currency reserves, or the profits that are accruing in places like Russia and the United Arab Emirates from energy sales, such funds are posing a dilemma even for politicians with strong records of supporting foreign investment: Do the state-controlled investors simply want to make money, or might they be seeking political influence as well? "With those sovereign funds we now have a new and completely unknown elements in circulation," the Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said recently. "One cannot simply react as if these are completely normal funds of privately pooled capital.
France is supporting the German initiative, which could lead to restrictions, or at least careful reviews, of moves made by the varying types of state-controlled investors that have sprung up in the last few years.
Which Is Worse: Threats from Osama or Wall Street?
Osama is back, after all these years, after all the propaganda, and promises to “smoke him out,” after BILLIONS spent on a war on terror and war of error, after bombing that moved every rock in Afghanistan at least twice, after security guidelines and years of fear, the most powerful country is once again bracing for new attacks from the Qaeda crazies. This story smells and reeks of lack of evidence, but its going to divert attention away from the war we are losing in Iraq (make that the war we lost) and whats about to come down on Wall Street according to Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. Be very afraid”
Wall Street is bracing for a nearly $2 trillion washout collapse of hollow and shaky mortgage bonds, triggering fears of a recession worse than the dot-com bubble bursting.
A stunning first step in that grim outlook came yesterday when two credit rating agencies - Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service - abruptly pulled the plug for the first time on a protective layer of respectable ratings that have cloaked the underlying, deep weaknesses of mortgage securities awash in the economy. S&P slammed only a chunk of the half-trillion in mortgage bonds it monitors - about 2.1 percent or $12 billion - but said housing prices could crash by 8 percent this year to make matters worse. Moody’s downgraded $5.2 billion of mortgage securities.It sent shock waves through the market, triggering worry among investors that a domino effect could spread in the coming weeks throughout the nearly $2 trillion in mortgage securities.
For the complete report from the New Statesman click here
Is there a European Dream? - Dreaming a continent - by Wenders
The European project will wither and die if it does not place culture and the arts at the heart of its identity, writes the legendary film-maker Wim Wenders
"Choosing to discuss the idea of "Europe's soul" carries the inverse implication - or perhaps it is more a suspicion - that Europe lacks such a thing. It would also seem to suggest that what is missing from the European project is a vision of the future, or a dream. If that is the case, we must do something about it, whether that means "we", the Europeans, or "they", the policymakers.
For most Europeans, Europe has become an abstract, alien entity. They are no longer sure whether they should identify with it or dissociate themselves from it, whether they feel represented or repressed. As such, the image of Europe is a contradictory one. The word "image" is useful; Europe's image is something quite different from the picture we have of our continent. An image is also a make, a brand, the product of a long series of past images, of stories, of tradition, of propaganda, of personal experience and reputation. Our feelings about Europe's soul relate mainly to this image. Europe needs to regain its tarnished self-esteem, in order that it can recover its soul.
At the close of an era in which economics has held sway, Europe must now develop a fresh vision of the future. This certainly involves preserving social justice, safeguarding peace and freedom, respecting human rights and fighting to restore the health of our sick planet. But in the coming age, these can no longer be accomplished by political and economic means alone. If Europe is to prove itself in the eyes of the Europeans themselves, it must now define itself through its innermost quality: the wonderful, chaotic, unique diversity of its culture."
Malta and Cyprus: New Kids On The Euro Block
Who says hard work doesn’t pay off? The European Union has given the island states of Cyprus and Malta approval to adopt the euro at the start of next year, giving the two governments the space to loosen their fiscal belts following painful efforts to meet stringent EU fiscal targets.
Finance ministers of the 27 members of the EU voted to allow the two countries to join the euro zone on Jan. 1, 2008, raising the number of countries using the currency to 15. The EU also fixed the euro's rate against their current currencies at 0.5853 Cypriot pounds and 0.4293 Maltese lira. The euro is currently trading at $1.3712, up from $1.3626.
For the complete report from the Seattle Times click on his link
Dollar continues plunge in Europe, Canada
Travel for Americans in Europe and Canada is getting more expensive by the day, as the U.S. dollar continues to sink to record lows. The euro soared to an all-time high, topping the $1.37 mark. The British pound, which has been trading around 26-year highs against the dollar, touched $2.03, and the Canadian dollar, at 94.5 cents, is worth 11 percent more than it was a year ago. Business analysts blamed U.S. economic policies, as homebuilders and retailers lowered their forecasts, causing concern about the housing market and the economy in general. "The dollar is a basket case," said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. Given the state of the U.S. economy, he said, the dollar could continue to fall in the coming years against the euro to $2.50 or even $3
For the complete text of Mr. Krugmans editorial in the Economist's View click on this link
Sacrifice is for Suckers - by Paul Krugman
"You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror™, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars — wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.
This time around, Mr. Bush celebrated Mission Accomplished by cutting tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while handing out huge no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations. And in the four years since, as the insurgency Mr. Bush initially taunted with the cry of “Bring them on” has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and left thousands more grievously wounded, the children of the elite — especially the Republican elite — have been conspicuously absent from the battlefield."
Time Magazine: Why Dutch Kids are Happier Than Yours - "even though immigrant children get the shaft" - by LAUREN COMITEAU
Why Dutch Kids are Happier Than Yours -"even though immigrant children get the shaft" - by LAUREN COMITEAU
Dutch children are the happiest children in the industrialized world. Don't take my word for it, that was the finding of an extensive survey in UNICEF's Report Card 7. The Netherlands, my adopted home and birthplace of my children beat out the competition in a study that took account of material well-being, health and safety, education, family and peer relationships, behaviors and risks, and their own perceptions of their well-being. The U.S. by contrast finished second to last ahead of Britain.
The freedom allowed to Dutch high schoolers would shock their American counterparts. The country's legal drinking age is 16, so at school parties — at least in Van Veen's school — kids 16 and over are allowed to drink beer and wine, although no hard liquor, in what he calls "a controlled setting." Fifteen-year-old Tess ten Pos, who I find sipping a latte with friends in a cafe during a break from morning classes, agrees. "When we read in English class about coma drinking in the States, it's crazy! We don't do that here."
"There is more freedom here," agrees 17-year old Karima Adda, whose father came from Morocco more than 30 years ago. "You can't wear short clothes, smoke or drink in Morocco, so that makes me happier here." Despite exceptions like Karima, who plans to be a doctor, immigrant children are less likely to get the best of Holland's impressive levels of investment in children. A recent city-wide survey of Amsterdam primary schools revealed that children of Moroccan and Turkish descent were being directed to lower-level schools than their Dutch counterparts, despite scoring identically on the all-important placement exams.
The cost of war to the US: EURO 8.7 billion ($12 billion) a month
The boost in US troop levels in Iraq has increased the cost of war for the US there and in Afghanistan to EURO 8.7 billion ($12 billion) a month, according to the US nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Debate within the Bush administration about the next phase of the president's Iraq strategy is centering on a report to be presented to Congress this week that says the Baghdad government has failed to meet any of its targets for political, economic and other types of progress.
Radio Netherlands: 9 Dutch soldiers dead - Did the Dutch Government hide the truth about the Dutch troop deploymentt in Afghanistan?
9 Dutch soldiers dead - Did the Dutch Government hide the truth about the Dutch troop deployment in Afghanistan?
Tuesday's suicide attack in southern Afghanistan, which left at least 17 civilians dead and a number of Dutch soldiers injured, has again raised questions about Dutch involvement in Afghanistan. A year ago, the deployment of Dutch troops in the Afghan province of Uruzgan was sold to the Dutch public as primarily a reconstruction mission but it's becoming clearer by the day that this is a military operation with all the attendant risks.This makes the debate about extending the mission beyond its current 2008 deadline a controversial one. Now that it's clear the Dutch are in Afghanistan to fight, how will the government persuade the country to accept the dangers of staying on?
The line between propaganda and truth is sometimes hard to determine, the only sure thing is that there are going to be some fireworks in the Dutch parliament when the extension of the mission is debated later this summer. Comment EU-Digest: In the run-up to the 2006 decision to participate in the mission, the Dutch government put the emphasis on reconstruction and the resolution to send troops to Afghanistan passed.Now they have been caught lying it is interesting to see what they will say when it comes to extending the mission beyond 2008. In the meantime 9 Dutch soldiers have already been killed.
General Motors mulls plant in Central Europe
US car maker General Motors Corp says it is considering setting up a manufacturing plant in Central and Eastern Europe. The group has launched a study that will look at seven Central and Eastern European countries including Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Pure theatre from two master illusionists - by David Gow
"I don't think we were diddled, fooled, done over," said a sombre Joaquín Almunia, EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner, summing up on the day after the blitz visit of Sarko to the 13-strong "Eurogroup" of finance ministers on Monday night.The workings of the pact - revised in 2005 - are arcane because they are politically devious and have been subject to chicanery in recent years, allowing Germany and France, the eurozone's two biggest economies, to escape without fines despite busting the rules for four years in a row. Now virtuous Germany, in the person of ultra-orthodox finance priest Peer Steinbrück with his projected 0.5% deficit this year, is admonishing Sarko to set an example, stick to the rules and deliver on time.
Almunia, the pact's stern guardian, said he had lectured the French president that budgetary discipline and reform were not irreconcilable but went hand in hand and ensured growth and jobs.
For the complete report from the EUobserver.com click on this link
MEPs defy member states on EU symbols - by Mark Beunderman
The European Parliament is considering flying the EU flag and playing the EU anthem more often in its own buildings as part of a political message to those member states who have scrapped the union's symbols from the proposed new EU treaty. The parliament on Wednesday (11 July) adopted its opinion on the EU's reform treaty which was agreed by EU leaders last month and which will be subject to detailed negotiations in a so-called Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) in the coming months. Note EU-Digest: The Unity of the EU at home and abroad is expressed in Symbols; including the Flag, the Anthem and our strong EURO. Those who want to do away with it better get out of the European Union.
Dollar Crash - Is the puny dollar a sign of America’s decline? - Anatole Kaletsk
Yesterday, the pound and the euro hit their highest levels in a generation against the US dollar. The dollar, meanwhile, collapsed to a record low against an average of all the world’s major currencies. It is tempting to interpret the flight from the dollar in financial markets as the clearest, most objective, indicator of America’s relative decline.
Europe has long been derided as an ageing, sclerotic continent, doomed to irrelevance in a world dominated by America and Asia. But could it actually be America, not Europe, that is failing to compete in the globalised world economy and is now threatened with long-term decline?
Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels: US Elections - A Pledge I'd Like Every Christian Leader to Make
US Elections - A Pledge I'd Like Every Christian Leader to Make - by Mark Daniels
"I promise not to endorse any political candidate, platform, or party in the 2008 election cycle. I promise instead to use my influence and my recognized position of leader to pursue the mission of the Church, making disciples for Jesus Christ. When we hold Jesus captive to particular philosophies, parties, or candidates, we're really guilty of a kind of idolatry in which we make Jesus over into our image. God isn't a Republican. God isn't a Democrat."
Times online: Sarkozy takes deal-making to North Africa and hits a wall of sceptism - by Charles Bremner
Sarkozy takes deal-making to North Africa and hits a wall of sceptism - by Charles Bremner
Fresh from “relaunching” Europe, President Sarkozy took his deal-making skills to Algeria today to promote an ambitious plan for a Mediterranean Union
Mr Sarkozy’s scheme for a cross-Mediterranean tie-up similar to the European Union’s common market has hit a wall of scepticism on both sides of the sea and put up backs in Ankara, Beirut and Brussels in particular.