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10/31/07

Daily Yomiuri: Film festival puts spotlight on Asia, Europe

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Film festival puts spotlight on Asia, Europe

About 60 films from six Asian countries will be screened at the 3rd Osaka Asian Film Festival to be held from Nov. 2 to Nov. 23 at three venues in Osaka: Sogo Theater at Sogo department store in Chuo Ward, Cine Nouveau in Nishi Ward and Planet Studio Plus One in Kita Ward. Masahiro Kobayashi's "Ai No Yokan" (The Rebirth), the winner of the Golden Leopard Prize at the 60th Locarno International Film Festival, will be screened on the opening night of the festival. Kobayashi, who plays the leading role in the film, and costar Makiko Watanabe will greet the public. The predecessor of the festival was launched in 2005 as the Korea Entertainment Film Festival by the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments and others to promote Osaka as a center of cultural exchanges in Asia. The first film festival screened only South Korean and Japanese films to mark the 40th anniversary of Japan-Korea Diplomatic Relations Normalization.

AP: US Presses Europe for Sanctions on Iran - by Jaemy Keatan

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US Presses Europe for Sanctions on Iran - by Jaemy Keatan

A top U.S. diplomat on Wednesday pressed Europe to slap new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, stepping up a push by Washington to hold Tehran accountable for defying U.N. demands. A week after the United States announced new sanctions against Iran, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns met with French officials to press for other Western allies to follow suit, or at least loosen their economic ties with the Islamic republic. Burns also faulted China and Russia, which have strong economic interests in Iran, for stalling progress toward a third set of Security Council sanctions. He said China was increasing its trade with Iran, "which of course is a very negative development."

Businessweek: Europe's Mr. Entrepreneurialism - by Jennifer L. Schenker

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Europe's Mr. Entrepreneurialism - by Jennifer L. Schenker

Philippe Pouletty is a man on a mission to boost entrepreneurialism in Europe. A 49-year-old French medical doctor, he launched two successful biotech companies in North America in the 1990s before returning to France in 2000 to launch three more biotechs and to co-found a $385 million Paris venture fund, called Truffle Capital.

Yet for all of his own success as a serial entrepreneur, Pouletty worries that the Old World still isn't producing enough enduring high-fliers in the mold of Genentech (DNA), Cisco Systems (CSCO), or Google (GOOG). He has an interesting take on the problem: It's not a shortage of good ideas or a lack of entrepreneurs willing to leap into the void. Rather, Pouletty says, European venture capital firms and startups don't have enough money to work with because risk-averse institutional investors in Europe aren't placing their bets on entrepreneurialism.

10/30/07

The Korea Times: Slovakia Is Fast Growing Market Economy in Central Europe

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Slovakia Is Fast Growing Market Economy in Central Europe

The economy of Slovakia is considered one of the fastest growing market economies in Central Europe. Since 1989, the country has gone through important changes, of which the aim was to firstly transition it from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. Further numerous reforms (health care, pension system and tax) should improve the economic situation. Thanks to several reforms, the competitiveness of Slovakia increased toward other countries of the European Union, of which it has been a member since May 1, 2004. This is also a reason why Slovakia attracts more and more foreign investment. The investors are also interested in the 19-percent flat tax and the high quality cheap labor force.

The Hindu News : Britons are 'biggest gadget spenders in Europe'

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Britons are 'biggest gadget spenders in Europe'

Internet-savvy Britons are the gadget geeks in Europe. This inference can be drawn from a global report containing a slew of figures that charts the country's voracious apetite for electronic equipment. Yes, according to the report from the European Information Technology Observatory, Britons spend more on electronic equipment than shoppers in any other country in Europe, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported here on Tuesday.

Consumers in Britain are expected to spend more than 11 billion pounds this year on electronic gadgets, making them bigger spenders than those in Germany (9.3 billion pounds), France (7.2 billion pounds) and Italy (4.3 billion pounds).

Gulfnews: EURO - Dollar losing currency among Opec nations

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EURO - Dollar losing currency among Opec nations

With the rise of the euro, the appeal is to using a basket of currencies and, of course, the dollar's steady slide over the past few years, using the US currency to price oil is falling out of favour. At least that is what what Venezuela's Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters last Friday."The need to establish a basket of currencies... will probably be a point of discussion in the next Opec summit," Reuters reported Ramirez as saying.

Reuters: Argentina's first lady sweeps to presidency

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Argentina's first lady sweeps to presidency

First lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner swept to victory in Argentina's presidential race on her husband's economic successes, but now confronts stern challenges posed by the boom he helped create. Fernandez will take over from her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, on December 10 after taking more than 40 percent of the vote on Sunday to become Argentina's first elected woman leader.

The vote was largely a referendum on Kirchner's handling of the economy, which has grown at China-style rates topping 8 percent a year since he came to office four years ago.

10/29/07

New Europe: Chubais says politics hinder EU-Russia economic relations

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Chubais says politics hinder EU-Russia economic relations

Political issues hinder improvement in economic relations between Russia and the European Union, Unified Energy Systems of Russia head Anatoly Chubais said in Lisbon on October 25, as a co-chairman of a roundtable conference of Russian and European Union industrialists. “Trade between Russia and the EU has approached USD 300 billion and, taking services into account, has nearly reached USD 400 billion. Impressive positive trends have been observed in the investment sector: European investment accounts for up to 80 percent of direct foreign investment in Russia, and it has grown from USD 5 billion to USD 70 billion since 2000,” Chubais said. Russia’s direct foreign investment in Europe is comparable with this figure.

The Guardian: Ad body urges EU vigilance on Google's DoubleClick deal - by Mark Sweney

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Ad body urges EU vigilance on Google's DoubleClick deal - by Mark Sweney

The World Federation of Advertisers has urged the European Union to "closely examine" the potential of Google's proposed $3.1bn (£1.5bn) purchase of DoubleClick to reduce competition in internet advertising. A letter has been sent to the European commission by the WFA, which represents advertisers accounting for around 90% of global marketing spend, urging the EU to be vigilant in analysing not only Google's proposed acquisition, but also to take into account Microsoft's $6bn (£2.92bn) takover of aQuantive and WPP's purchase of RealMedia.

"Internet advertisers have benefited from innovation generated, in part, by intense competition," said the managing director of the WFA, Stephan Loerke.

10/28/07

Telegraph: Germany coming up fast in Euro race - by Ambrose Evans

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Germany coming up fast in Euro race - by Ambrose Evans

Berlin has "declared war" on southern Europe by refusing to back desperate pleas for a weaker euro – by which is meant a tilt towards looser monetary policy. Indeed, it is strangling such efforts.The clash is a foreseeable result of strapping together Europe's two ancient cultures – each with different wage systems, trade patterns, economic cycles and sensitivities to interest rates – in a premature currency union without a central treasury. And doing so in an entirely political bid to force the pace of EU federalism, against the warnings of the European Commission's economists.

The Independent: World Economy - Stephen King: Can the world economy survive a US downturn? Yes, it already has

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World Economy - Stephen King: Can the world economy survive a US downturn? Yes, it already has

he US slowdown has already contributed to a narrowing US balance of payments deficit which, in effect, implies a reduction in US demand for goods and services produced elsewhere in the world. Despite this – and despite, also, a much weaker dollar – the rest of the world still seems to be performing rather well. In fact, the emerging world may be performing rather too well. Last week, China's statisticians revealed that China's economy expanded at an 11.5 per cent rate in the third quarter, only a minor slowdown relative to an ebullient 11.9 per cent outcome in the second quarter.

Stars and Stripes: Gen. Casey: Slowing Europe transformation would be the right decision - by Nancy Montgomery

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Gen. Casey: Slowing Europe transformation would be the right decision - by Nancy Montgomery

McKiernan said he believed the Army should keep about 40,000 troops in Europe, down from 43,000 now stationed there. That’s some 20,000 fewer than there were three years ago and some 16,000 more than the plan for Europe envisioned when it was announced in 2003.

Gen. Bantz Craddock previously said that even with current troop strength it was difficult to fulfill European Command missions, and that claims on the command were expected to increase. He said with so many Europe-based troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, there were too few left to do training exercises and other engagements with foreign militaries, and that many had been canceled.

JTW News - EU support for Turkey: This is legitimate defense

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EU support for Turkey: This is legitimate defense

Dutch Ruijten, who prepared the report on Turkey, which was approved by the European Parliament, said: "Turkey has the right to act in self defense." The European Parliament approved the report on Turkey which was significant in temrs of its effect on the Progress Report. The Dutch reporter said. "we can not tell a country not to defend itself."

* "A cross-border operation is a legitimate defense"

European Parliament gave its full support on the cross-border operation by Turkey. The European Parliament approved the report on Turkey, which was significant in temrs of its effect on the Progress Report. The Dutch reporter said. "we can not tell a country not to defend itself."

TreeHugger:Biogas-Powered Train in Sweden - by Michael Graham Richard, Gatineau

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Biogas-Powered Train in Sweden -by Michael Graham Richard, Gatineau

The city of Linkoeping in Sweden (south of Stockholm) will be linked to the city of Västervik 80 kilometers away (50 miles) by the first train to run entirely on biogas that comes from organic waste. A small one-carriage train that can carry 54 passengers has been converted: its diesel engines have been replaced by two Volvo gas engines. "The train is equipped with eleven canisters containing enough gas to run for 600 kilometers (375 miles) before needing a refill, and can reach a maximum speed of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour".

10/27/07

LatTimes.com: U.S. move on Iran alienating for Europe - by Paul Richter

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U.S. move on Iran alienating for Europe - by Paul Richter

The Bush administration's new package of sanctions against Iran widens the gap between the United States and its European allies over how to confront Tehran. For two years, the administration has sought to work closely with Europeans and other world powers, convinced that collective action offered the best chance to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But efforts to push through a third round of United Nations sanctions snagged and prospects for a new international coalition to impose economic penalties appear unlikely, so the administration decided to strike out on its own Thursday.

U.S. officials have been frustrated recently by the Europeans' reluctance to impose sanctions through the European Union. At a meeting last week in Brussels, Britain and France showed support for the idea, whereas Italy and Austria opposed it and German officials were lukewarm.

EUobserver.com: Paris suggests EU tax on imports from non-Kyoto states - by Lucia Kubosova

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Paris suggests EU tax on imports from non-Kyoto states - by Lucia Kubosova

France has thrown its support behind a European Commission idea to tax environment polluters and also urged Brussels to consider EU levies for imports from non-Kyoto countries, such as the US and Australia. "We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes... to tax pollution more, including fossil fuels, and to tax labour less," French president Nicolas Sarkozy told an environment forum representing government, industry and the green lobby on Thursday (25 October), according to the AFP agency. He urged European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, present at the speakers' podium, to discuss in the next six months the implications of "unfair competition" by firms outside the EU which do not have to abide by strict European standards on CO2 emissions. Note EU-Digest: this is an excellent and fair proposal by Mr. Sarkozy.

Examiner.com: Dutch Lawmakers Offended by Rep. Lantos - by Desmond Butler

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Rep. Lantos offends Dutch Lawmakers - by Desmond Butler

Dutch lawmakers who visited the Guantanamo Bay military prison this week said they were offended by a testy exchange in Washington with a senior congressional Democrat. The lawmakers said that Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told them that "Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay."

Before the Guantanamo exchange, the lawmakers had discussed a debate in the Netherlands about whether the country should maintain its 1,600 troops serving in NATO's Afghanistan operations. "You have to help us, because if it was not for us you would now be a province of Nazi Germany," Lantos said, according to the Dutch lawmakers. "The comments killed the debate," said Harry van Bommel, a member of the Socialist Party. "It was insulting and counterproductive." It was not the first time that Lantos had offended European political circles. In May, he lashed out at the former leaders of France and Germany. His comments, which included calling former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a "political prostitute," provoked a rebuke from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Christian News Bulletin: The Inside story on the war against Christianity

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The Inside story on the war against Christianity

When Jordanian Khalid Saad abandoned Islam and became a Christian, his family set out to kill him. But he escaped repeated attempts on his life, held up in prayer by thousands of Christians around the world who learned of his needs through the newsletter of Voice of the Martyrs. Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., USA and it has 30 affiliated international offices. It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant.

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Дах - Портал коммерческой недвижимости - Russia tops European ranking of new shopping centre space

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Russia tops European ranking of new shopping centre space

Across Europe, a record 11.4 million square metres of new space is due to open next year 38 per cent up on 2007, says recent European Shopping Centres Report by global real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield (C&W). Russia tops a European ranking of new shopping centre space due to open in the second half of 2007 and 2008. More than 4.6 million square metres of new shopping centre space is due to open in Russia over the 18 months till the end of 2008, in particular in the Russian regions.

China View: China's lunar probe completes 2nd orbital transfer

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China's lunar probe completes 2nd orbital transfer

China's lunar probe Chang'e-1 is expected to arrive at the apogee of more than 70,000 kilometers from the earth on early Saturday morning after having completed its second orbital transfer on Friday, according to the moon probe team. Chang'e-1, China's first moon orbiter, is now moving on a 24-hour orbit and it is forecast to arrive at the apogee at around5:30 a.m. on Saturday. "Such a long distance will not be a challenge for our monitoring system. We have successfully accomplished missions to monitor a satellite which flies even further away from the earth," said Tang Ge, head of orbit monitoring and controlling office of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).

"It still has about 1.19 million kilometers to go before it reaches the moon orbit as planned," said Zhang. According to Zhang, the moon orbiter will experience another two orbital transfers before it begins to fly to the moon in a real sense on Oct. 31.

10/26/07

clarionledger.com - Cost Iraq War: As Turks mass on border, $2.4 trillion?


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Cost Iraq War: As Turks mass on border, $2.4 trillion?

If Americans wanted some reassurances that the war in Iraq was going well, they aren't getting it right now.The U.S. has spent about $604 billion on the wars so far, it says. If the U.S. were to reduce the number of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to 75,000 six years from now, it would cost $1 trillion more and $705 billion in interest to pay for them through 2017. "That estimate is a far cry from the administration's original claim of a $50 billion price that the Iraqis could pay themselves," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The depth of this tragedy is stunning, particularly for our military families - and for prospects for peace in the region."

Americans have grown skeptical of the Bush administration's insistence on keeping troops at full strength in Iraq.

Note EU-Digest: In America there is a saying - "you can fool some of the people sometimes, but you can't fool all the people all the time". Unfortunately today the majority of the American population seems to be fooled all the time by an Administration which is wasting money at a scale never seen before. This same Administration now also seems to have convinced its taxpayers that if they don't "take care of Iran" they can expect the Third World War will break out. In this context Europe needs to take a hard look at their efforts in Afghanistan and what it needs to do on an independent basis. Europe's objectives are very different from those of the Bush Administration.

Reality clouds Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union plans

News | Africa - Reuters.com

"Reality clouds Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union plans
By Tom Pfeiffer and Jon Boyle RABAT/PARIS, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Nicolas Sarkozy is known for relishing a challenge but the French leader's goal of coaxing more than a dozen Mediterranean countries into an EU-style union seems to have geopolitical realities stacked against it. Besides sharing the same stretch of salty water, there appears little to connect the hotchpotch of seaside states that run from poor, tightly controlled societies with command economies to wealthy, secular liberal democracies."

DW: Time to Shift Focus in Afghanistan - by Christoph Hasselbach

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Time to Shift Focus in Afghanistan - by Christoph Hasselbach

In Europe, many NATO member countries are getting fed up with demands, primarily from Washington, for greater military involvement in Afghanistan -- demands that have persisted ever since the launch of the NATO mission. For years, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been doing the rounds of the European capitals lobbying for more troops, helicopters and transport aircraft, only to be fobbed off with vague promises. Germany has finally agreed to extend its broad activities in Afghanistan by deploying reconnaissance tornados, but it refuses to send soldiers to the hostile south of the country. Given the public's waning support for the mission and Berlin's political status quo, this is simply out of the question.

Council on Foreign Relations: Putin’s Russia Stakes Its Ground - by Michael Moran


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Putin’s Russia Stakes Its Ground - by Michael Moran

For U.S. and European policymakers who had consigned Kremlinology to the history shelf of research libraries, the past two years have brought cause for regret. Since December 2005, when Russian muscle flexing in a dispute with Ukraine showed the European Union how vulnerable (BBC) its energy supplies had become, President Vladimir Putin has made no bones about the fact that he deeply resents the status quo he inherited from Boris Yeltsin when he took power on the eve of the millennium. In 2005, he told (AP) Russians in a nationally televised speech that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [twentieth] century."

Businessweek: Europe Now Biggest Outsourcing Market - by Tim Ferguson

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Europe Now Biggest Outsourcing Market - by Tim Ferguson

Europe is now the biggest market for outsourcing, while demand in the US has softened as a result of a shift in focus to smaller deals.

Europe is now the largest market according to TPI, with 56 per cent of the global market share - totaling more than €20bn. The region's share a year ago was just 37 per cent (€17bn). Another point to emerge from the index is that 59 per cent of outsourcing contracts involve some kind of offshore activity.

10/25/07

Financial Post: Singapore Airlines: 'A rocking party at 40,000 feet': Airbus' A380 first commercial flight lands

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Singapore Airlines: 'A rocking party at 40,000 feet': Airbus' A380 first commercial flight lands

James Wallace, a veteran aerospace reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was seated beside Singapore’s chief executive Chew Choon Seng during the flight, who apparently called the take off of the massive craft "so quiet it was eerie.'' Flight International is also running a challenge for the “sexiest” picture of the A380’s first commercial flight, inviting those with pics of the massive jet to upload them on their site. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the inside, the Times Online has a good video of what Singapore has done to deck out its new double-decker jet.

Singapore Airlines, arguably the best airline in the world in customer service, apparently pulled no punches on the flight, greeting passengers at the airport lounge in Singapore at 8 a.m. local time with a string quartet before serving up a delicious in-flight brunch. According to the International Herald Tribune, “a festive atmosphere prevailed” on the flight, fueled in part by the Dom Perignon that was flowing through the aisles with the passengers who were touring the plane. Singapore also had a piano bar on the upper deck of the double-decker plane.

The Seattle Times: Boeing 787 dreamliner delay could wind up costing Boeing $1 billion - by Dominic Gates

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he recently announced six-month delay in the 787 Dreamliner program could cost Boeing close to $1 billion in added expenses, a leading Wall Street analyst said Wednesday. In a teleconference to discuss Boeing's third-quarter results, Chief Executive Jim McNerney and Chief Financial Officer James Bell projected that the six-month slide in delivering the 787 will cause a $3.5 billion drop in next year's revenues.McNerney said Boeing is pouring money and people into the Dreamliner program to meet the new schedule so that the revenue impact is temporary and much of the lost cash flow can be recouped in 2009.

Only a handful of Dreamliners — three or four, McNerney said — are now expected to go to customers by the end of 2008. As Boeing outlined two weeks ago, first flight is set for around the end of March and first delivery by December.

petroleumworld: Whistling in The Dark– The New ‘Relaxed Attitude’ on High Oil prices - - by Andrew McKillop

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Whistling in The Dark– The New ‘Relaxed Attitude’ on High Oil prices - by Andrew McKillop

Plenty of thorough and serious studies by economists in fact show that real energy prices are still about 25% below those of 1980 in most OECD countries, when compared to real earnings and the purchasing weight of each item – from energy to rent and food – in average persons’s budgets. If that seems amazing, step outside in any big city of the Global Economy world, and count the 2-ton, 500 HP 4WDs you can see in 10 minutes, or run a quick check on airplane traffic or container shipping growth rates. The real wage effect explains this: even at today's nominal record prices, oil consumers in the OECD countries spend less than 5% of their disposable incomes at the pump, against nearly 7% in 1980.

The world economy has managed, with some indigestion, to swallow the rise of oil prices past $80 a barrel. How well could it survive $100 a barrel? The answer is quite well -- so long as several conditions still hold true. The price rise would probably have to be gradual. Inflation couldn't get so bad as to force big interest-rate hikes. Oil-rich nations would need to pump their profits back into U.S. and European economies. All of this has happened so far. The happy confluence may continue, though fears remain strong that high energy prices will tip the U.S.into recession.

A host of factors, including tight oil supplies and a weak U.S. dollar, suggest that oil prices have further to rise. Some analysts continue to believe that oil is destined to reach an all-time high, as measured in today's dollars, of more than $101 a barrel.

inthenews.co: EU 'most popular superpower'


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EU 'most popular superpower'

People across the world like to see the European Union become more influential, a large-scale study has found. The study, which quizzed 57,000 people across 52 countries, found that the EU was "unique among the four big powers [China, the EU, Russia and the United States] in that no one wants to balance its rise". According to the European council on foreign relations (ECFR), which sponsored the research, 35 per cent of world citizens want the 27-member bloc to grow in power. In contrast, China and Russia emerged from the research with a net balance of six per cent and eight per cent of respondents wishing to see their influence decline respectively.People in Turkey and Russia were found to be most against a rise in Washington's supremacy, closely followed by Canadians and Latin Americans. Of the 52 countries polled only Senegal and Hong Kong wanted to see Tehran's global standing increase, with Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the US most anxious.

Canada.com: Putin in Portugal for EU-Russia summit - by Oleg Shchedrov

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Putin in Portugal for EU-Russia summit - by Oleg Shchedrov

Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes for a friendly summit with the European Union on Friday but is sticking to long-held tough positions on Iran and Kosovo. "On many (international) issues our positions are close," Putin said after meeting Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, whose country will host the EU-Russia summit. "I expect a friendly atmosphere created by our hosts today will translate into a similar atmosphere of the Russia-EU summit tomorrow and will help a productive work," Putin told reporters.

Another point of discussion at the summit will be a proposal by the European Commission on the energy sector, including a break up of big utilities' grip on power supply, generation and transmission. The plan includes a clause to prevent foreign firms from buying pipelines and power grids if their home countries do not have equally open markets and an agreement with Brussels, something seen as targeting Russian state energy giant Gazprom.

Washington Post: Administration Diverges on Missile Defense - by Michael Abramowitz and Walter Pincus

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Administration Diverges on Missile Defense - by Michael Abramowitz and Walter Pincus

President Bush said yesterday that a missile defense system is urgently needed in Europe to guard against a possible attack on U.S. allies by Iran, while Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that the United States could delay activating such a system until there is "definitive proof" of such a threat. The seemingly contrasting messages came as the Bush administration grappled with continuing Russian protests over Washington's plan to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin considers the program a potential threat to its own nuclear deterrent and has sought to play down any threat from Iran. Both Bush and Gates affirmed that they want to proceed with deployment of the system, including 10 antimissile interceptors in Poland and a radar-tracking facility in the Czech Republic projected for completion in 2012. Bush cited Iran's development of ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and Turkey, and said Tehran is also developing missiles that could strike NATO countries. "The need for missile defense in Europe is real, and I believe it's urgent," Bush said in his remarks at the National Defense University. "Today," he added, "we have no way to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat, so we must deploy a missile defense system there that can."

Note EU-Digest: How come Mr. Bush and Mr. Gates have to decide for us in Europe if we need a missile defense? Has Europe any say in this. All polls show that the majority of Europeans do not want it. Is anybody listening in Bruxelles?

The Times - France kicks off ‘green revolution’ talks

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France kicks off ‘green revolution’ talks

Green campaigners and big business have opened a marathon two-day round-table with the French government aimed at kick-starting an environmental revolution in Europe’s third-biggest economy. President Nicolas Sarkozy closes the summit on Thursday with a speech outlining a master plan to slash France’s environmental impact, in the presence of the Nobel Peace Prize winning climate crusaders Al Gore and Wangari Maathai. Thousands of French people - as well as the Eiffel Tour - joined in a five-minute "lights-out" for the planet late on Tuesday in a show of support for the event, which concludes weeks of talks between government, business, farmers and campaigners.

IHT: EU calls for crackdown on Europe's shadow economy, moonlighting

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EU calls for crackdown on Europe's shadow economy, moonlighting

EU calls for crackdown on Europe's shadow economy, moonlighting

European Union officials on Wednesday called for a crackdown on moonlighting in Europe's shadow economy. Vladimir Spidla, the EU's employment chief, said Europe's black market economy "undermines the financing" of national social security programs and hinders efforts to boost economic growth. "There are no signs that the phenomenon is decreasing. Indeed in certain sectors and certain forms of work it appears to be growing," Spidla said. "We need to step up our approach and take more decisive action across the EU." He said more legal jobs could be created if EU governments reduce the tax burden on labor and high social security contributions taken off salaries, wages and overtime payments.

NewsMax: US Medical Services: Putting Count Dracula in Charge of the Bloodbank? Microsoft Wants Your Medical Records

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US Medical Services: Putting Count Dracula in Charge of the Bloodbank? Microsoft Wants Your Medical Records

Microsoft, the $51 billion computer-software giant, is not satisfied with simply being the major systems provider for most computers in America -- it also wants to hold your personal medical records, and everyone else's in the country. The Redmond, Wash.-based firm started by Bill Gates sees this as good business, and even plans to offer advertising along with computerized searches of your records. "Our goal is to become an advertising powerhouse," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tells Advertising Age. "Today, we're the No. 3 seller of Internet ads. We're determined to allocate the talent, the resources, the money, and the innovation to be the pre-eminent software provider for advertisers, publishers, and agencies. We have all the pieces we need to succeed."

Microsoft says today’s health care record keeping in the US is messy and not ready for the digital world. The company plans to do something about it.

10/24/07

American Chronicle: 12 Reasons for Turkey to enter in Northern Iraq - by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

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12 Reasons for Turkey to enter in Northern Iraq - by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

- What makes the US presence in Iraq ‘legitimate’, and Turkey’s invasion of Northern Iraq ‘illegitimate’? - Are the US ‘national interests’ … holier than Turkey’s?A gigantic effort has been undertaken in order to avert the Turkish invasion in and annexation of Northern Iraq. This - in and by itself - illustrates the immorality, mendacity and hypocrisy of today’s World Politics. When the deals stricken by the French, the Germans, and the Russians with Saddam leave no space for US and UK companies, Saddam ‘becomes’ a monstrous and paranoid dictator empowered with an arsenal of cataclysmic consequences.

However, when PKK criminals carry out a plan threatening Turkey’s integrity, which is the latest wish of an apostate Freemasonic Lodge that still influences political decision making in Europe and America, these very terrorists ‘have to become’ negotiation partners of Turkey, NATO’s second largest army, and the unrepresentative, ruthless tyrants of the Mesopotamian North, Talabani and Barzani, who deploy memorable effort to impersonate the ‘presidents’ of a supposed country and a hypothetical province.

Porsche Ja, Gazprom Nyet: Is the EU Really a Free Market?

International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

"PORSCHE JA, GAZPROM NYET Is the EU Really a Free Market? By SPIEGEL Staff

The dream of open borders within the EU appeals to most European leaders on paper, but not in practice. Germany's VW law is just one case in point. Europe also has to think about even greater dangers from outside."

OPED NEWS: Israel Lobby May Be Source of Armenian Genocide Resolution - by Wayne Madsen

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Israel Lobby May Be Source of Armenian Genocide Resolution - by Wayne Madsen

Experts on U.S.-Turkish relations in Washington report that the recent deterioration in relations between Washington and Ankara are primarily due to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Turkey's other erstwhile friends, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), pulling support for their former allies in Turkey because of increasingly closer Turkish relations with both Syria and Iran -- two countries that are being targeted by the neocon cells operating in Vice President Dick Cheney's office and among Kadima and Likud circles in Jerusalem.In fact, Turkey, Syria, and Iran are cooperating in battling PKK forces on their respective territories. Israel's Mossad has re-established close links with the Kurds in the region. It appears that Israel is willing to sacrifice its past close relations with Turkey in its support for the Kurds and creating tension between the non-Arab powers in the region -- Iran, Turkey, and the Kurds. The election of Turkish Islamist-oriented Abdullah Gul as President of a secular-oriented Turkey was a green light for AIPAC, the ADL, and the neocons and other right-wing networks in Washington to turn up the heat on Ankara. The subsequent threat by Turkey to deploy troops into northern Iraq to go after Kurdish guerrillas, some of whom are reportedly backed by the Mossad and U.S. paramilitary private security forces, was enough to cause the Israel Lobby to break their historic links to the Turks. Adding to the anger of the Israel Lobby was the recent natural gas deal inked between Syria, Iran, and Turkey. Iran will provide Syria with Iranian gas via Turkish pipelines.

Slow Decline's Weblog: Forget a US green card the European Union wants you to try Blue instead!

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Forget a US green card the European Union wants you to try Blue instead!

The European Union is working on offering “Blue Cards” to entice the needed highly skilled migrants that are so desired for the growth of various members who total 27 nations.

They plan on offering housing and financial benefits as well as guaranteeing at least three times the minimum wage in the country concerned plus health insurance, as this is a requirement for an applicant to apply. Furthermore they will fast track the issuance to those who apply as long as they have a contract for one year’s labor and meet the salary and healthcare requirements. This is the exact opposite of the United States system where thousands of companies hire illegal immigrants and are given a wink and a nod from the immigration service. The government is not the least bit interested in what wage these migrants receive or how they are housed. Their only goal is to allow, even in violation of US law, for cheap labor to be attainable for agricultural and construction companies so they might exploit these so-called illegal aliens and strengthen their bottom line. Within 6 months of employment the worker in the EU could have their family members join them even without a permanent residence permit. They would also be treated and have the same benefits as EU nationals now receive including social assistance, pensions and tax benefits, as well as access to public housing.

EUobserver.com: Poland will repair ties with EU and Russia - Lucia Kubosova

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Poland will repair ties with EU and Russia - Lucia Kubosova

Poland's prime minister elect Donald Tusk has indicated that improving relations with Russia will be among the top priorities of his cabinet, with Moscow also sending signals of hope for solving long-term disputes with Warsaw. As official results confirmed the election victory in Poland of the Civic Platform (PO), the pro-business and pro-EU centre-right party, on Tuesday (23 October), its leader said Moscow will be one of his first destinations for a state visit, along with Washington and Brussels.

10/23/07

Christianity Today: Dar es Salaam Meeting Nov 5 - 9: Church consultation to address ethics of economic growth

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Dar es Salaam Meeting Nov 5 - 9: Church consultation to address ethics of economic growth

The consultation is a continuation of a process which was started at the World Council of Churches' (WCC) 8th assembly in Harare in 1998 and became known as Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth (AGAPE) since the 9th assembly in Porto Alegre. Ten years later, the issue of socio-economic justice is no less pressing, said the WCC. Especially in Africa, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, with destructive consequences for peace and for the environment.

Discussions in Dar es Salaam will help to draw a "greed line" as practical guidance to Christians regarding sources of growth - such as speculation or expropriation - and the level or ratio of wealth accumulation that are unethical.

Swissre.com: Insurance Industry EU: Solvency II details of the Directive currently under preparation in the EU are expected to be implemented by 2010

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Insurance Industry EU: Solvency II details of the Directive currently under preparation in the EU are expected to be implemented by 2010

In an article for Insurance Day, Swiss Re economists Patrizia Baur and Rudolf Enz explain how the shift from uniform to risk-adequate capital charges will affect different lines of insurance based on their volatility and catastrophe exposure. They also discuss stricter assessment and capital requirements for additional product features such as options to waive premiums and investment guarantees. The article concludes that Solvency II will benefit both policyholders and insurers by reinforcing the focus on the fundamentals of risk and return.

Forbes.com: France's Sarkozy signs 2 bln eur trade, military deals with Morocco

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France's Sarkozy signs 2 bln eur trade, military deals with Morocco

France's Sarkozy signs 2 bln eur trade, military deals with Morocco

France signed more than 2 bln eur of civilian and military contracts with Morocco yesterday during a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Top among them was a draft accord for the construction of a high-speed TGV train between the cities of Tangiers and Casablanca, according to Sarkozy's entourage.

Reuters/UK: Spain low-cost airline traffic up 41 pct in Sept

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Spain low-cost airline traffic up 41 pct in Sept

Low-cost airlines flew 2.6 million passengers to Spain in September, up 41.4 percent from the same month last year, the Industry Ministry said on Tuesday. About 41 percent of passengers arrived in Spain on low-cost airlines during the month, the ministry said.

Javno - Secret CIA Arrests Began in Croatia - by Karmen Horvat

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Secret CIA Arrests Began in Croatia - by Karmen Horvat

American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began its operations of arresting terrorists and transferring them across Europe in the mid 1990`s when US agents allegedly arrested Egyptian terrorist Abu Talal in Croatia and transferred him to Egypt, where he was executed, Danish Politiken daily writes Sunday, AP agency reports.

The Copenhagen Post:Intelligence knew of terrorist transports

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Intelligence knew of terrorist transports

Comments from former high-ranking CIA members to Politiken newspaper suggest that Denmark’s intelligence service was aware of private planes seizing suspected terrorists in Europe and taking them to countries where torture and execution were sanctioned. Denmark’s governments and its intelligence agency, PET, have continually denied any knowledge of the CIA program. A Council of Europe report indicated earlier this year that Denmark was one of several countries that had covertly approved the program.

The new information has got several parties - the Social Democrats, New Alliance, the Social Liberals and the Red-Green Alliance - to again demand an official investigation into the allegations. Prior requests for a full-scale investigation into whether Denmark was aware of the CIA’s secret programme have been continually refused by the government, which considers the case closed. Abu Talal, a suspected terrorist thought to be the first captured through the CIA programme, had asylum in Denmark in 1995 when he disappeared on a flight from Copenhagen to Croatia - probably arrested by Croatian police and handed over to US authorities.

10/22/07

Bloomberg.com: Iraq Must Act `Immediately' Against Kurdish Rebels, Rice Says (what about the US and the EU) - by Viola Gienger and Ben Holland


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Iraq Must Act `Immediately' Against Kurdish Rebels, Rice Says ( what about the US and the EU?) - by Viola Gienger and Ben Holland

The Iraqi government must take ``immediate steps'' against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, as Turkey pledged to wait a few days before deciding on its own military action. The government in Baghdad must ``demonstrate its commitment to regional stability,'' Rice said in a statement with U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued yesterday in Washington. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would await U.S. and Iraqi actions before mounting any raid and suggested Turkey's operation might not involve ground forces.

The U.S. is pressing Turkey to avoid a cross-border attack against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, out of concern it could destabilize the war effort in Iraq.

Note EU-Digest: "The US statement makes no sense at all. First because the Iraq central government has no control whatsoever over the Kurdish region in Iraq. Whatever they say now is talk only, no action. Only US forces are (maybe) able to remove Kurdish PKK terrorists from the Kurdish region in Iraq. As to the other statement that a Turkish incursion into Iraq would destabilize the country, this is also far removed from the truth. Iraq became destabilized the moment it was invaded by the US and Britain. What is a further destabilizing factor is that PKK terrorists are now provided a safe haven in the Kurdish area of Iraq. This can only spell for more turmoil. If the US and its allies are not able to remove the PKK terrorist threat from Iraq, Turkey should have no qualms to enter Iraq and remove the danger these PKK terrorists present to them and Europe.

Also important in this scenario is that Denmark closes down Roj TV, the media outlet of PKK/KONGRA-GEL (included both in the EU and the US’s on lists of terrorist organizations) from operating freely on its territory. ROJ-TV’s broadcasts can only be defined as incitement to terror and violence, and they fall squarely within the scope of the UNSC Resolution No. 1624. Isn't it time for us in Europe to show we have some "spine" left to help our European applicant member Turkey to eliminate this terrorist threat, which in the long run could harm us all?"

RTTNews - Euro Zone Govt. Deficit Drops To 1.5% Of GDP In 2006

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Euro Zone Govt. Deficit Drops To 1.5% Of GDP In 2006

The government deficit in the Euro area decreased to 1.5% of GDP in 2006, the Eurostat said Monday. The government deficit stood at 2.5% of GDP in 2005. Meanwhile, the government deficit in the EU27 declined to 1.6% of GDP in 2006 from 2.4% in the prior year. The government debt to GDP ratio dropped to 68.6% at the end of 2006 from 70.3% in 2005 and it fell to 61.4% in EU27 from 62.7% in the previous year. The largest government deficits in percentage of GDP were recorded by Hungary, followed by Italy, Portugal and Poland. Among the member states, 21 members registered an improved government balance relative to GDP, while it worsened in five states. The lowest ratios of government debt to GDP were registered in Estonia, Luxembourg, Latvia and Romania.

In the euro area, the government expenditure was equivalent to 47.2% of GDP, and government revenue to 45.6%. In both Euro area and EU27, the government expenditure ratio declined slightly, while revenue ratio improved.

IHT: EU sides with Turkey after Kurdish guerrilla ambush but cautions Ankara against entering Iraq


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

EU sides with Turkey after Kurdish guerrilla ambush but cautions Ankara against entering Iraq

The European Commission sided with Turkey Monday after the latest ambush by Kurdish guerrillas but cautioned Ankara against sending troops into Iraq in pursuit of rebels of the Kurdish PKK organization. The EU appeal came as dozens of Turkish military vehicles headed toward the Iraqi border on Monday and protesters demanded tough action against Kurdish rebels. A rebel ambush killed 12 Turkish soldiers on Sunday, pushing Turkey closer to a possible attack on guerrilla bases in northern Iraq.

"The European Commission expresses its solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism, which is a common challenge for the EU and Turkey," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a brief statement issued in Brussels. Rehn, the EU's point man in relations with EU membership candidate Turkey, said the EU understands Turkey "faces continual cross-border attacks from the PKK, which is on the EU list of terrorist organizations, (and) understands Turkey's need to protect its citizens."

IHT: Polish premier is routed in record vote, polls show - by Nicholas Kulish

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

Polish premier is routed in record vote, polls show - by Nicholas Kulish

Voters appeared to have ousted the prime minister, one half of Poland's wonder-twin team, in parliamentary elections on Sunday. The challenger, Donald Tusk, declared victory for his pro-business party, Civic Platform. The prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, conceded defeat as two major exit polls showed his Law and Justice Party trailing Civic Platform by double-digit margins. His brother, Lech, will remain president and retain veto power over the presumptive new government's legislation.

Official results are not expected until Tuesday, which could determine whether Civic Platform achieves an outright majority or more likely needs to form a coalition with the centrist Polish Peasants Party. With unofficial results, anything could happen, but Kaczynski congratulated his opponent after what appeared to be a significant defeat. Leaders across Europe were likely to be relieved at the ascension of Civic Platform, a pro-Europe party. Under the Kaczynskis, Poland has earned a reputation as a consensus-breaking troublemaker.

ARS Technica: Microsoft finally in "full compliance" with 2004 EU antitrust ruling - by Eric Bangeman

For the complete report from Ars Technica click on this link

Microsoft finally in "full compliance" with 2004 EU antitrust ruling - by Eric Bangema

Microsoft has ended its multiyear fight against the European Union's antitrust findings and is agreeing to comply fully with the European Commission's remedies in the wake of last month's ruling by the EU Court of First Instance upholding the 2004 finding that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position in Europe. EC Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes welcomed the move, saying that the company has done what is necessary to "ensure full compliance with the 2004 Decision."

Although the software giant had paid the €497 million fine and had released Windows XP N, a unliked and unwanted version of Windows XP with no media-playing functionality, the issue of adequately documenting and licensing its server protocols remained a sticking point. Fed up with what it believed to be Microsoft's inflexibility on the licensing terms, the EC imposed a €3 million fine for each day the company was out of compliance. According to the EC, Microsoft has finally come up with acceptable solutions for licensing the server protocols to third parties, using two separate licensing models. The first is a "No Patent Agreement" license, which will give companies access to interoperability information without an additional license for the patents Microsoft believes are necessary. The royalty rate for such a license is €10,000, a figure the EC deems acceptable. The license will also be "compatible with the open source business model" and will provide a means for effectively addressing disputes over the accuracy and thoroughness of the documentation.

EarthTimes.org: Rioting continues in western Amsterdam

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Rioting continues in western Amsterdam

Unidentified young people set another car on fire in the night from Thursday to Friday during the fourth consecutive night of riots in Amsterdam's Slotervaart neighbourhood. The rioting was substantially less than the previous night. No arrests were made but police remained on high alert. The unrest began after two violent incidents took place in Slotervaart, in the western part of Amsterdam, last week. Both times young Moroccan Dutch were involved. The rioting had started as a 22-year old Dutch opf Moroccan descent, Bilal B., entered the office. He walked towards her, jumped over the counter, pulled a knife and stabbed her in her neck. When she fled, he stabbed her twice more in her back. A male colleague tried to help her, but to no avail: he too was stabbed by Bilal, in the neck and chest. The heavily wounded female police officer felt that there was only one way to stop Bilal B. from killing both her and her colleague, pulled out her gun, and shot the attacker. Bilal B. died.

Note EU-Digest:With this kind of violence, regardless if it originates in traditional or immigrant neighborhoods the Dutch police must adopt a zero tolerance policy. Even the president of the neighborhood Slotervaart, Marcouch (who is of Moroccan descent himself), called on the police to adopt a zero tolerance policy. Unfortunately the Dutch police is a very weak force, which does not instill respect and often is not able to enforce order because they favor a ‘soft policy’. This does not work with hardened criminals or uncontrolled youth."

10/21/07

People Daily Online: Eurofighter launches offer for multi-role planes in Romania


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Eurofighter launches offer for multi-role planes in Romania

The Eurofighter consortium is ready to deliver 24 Typhoon aircraft to the Romanian Air Force in the 2010-2014 period, the program director for Romania Giuseppe Paoletti said on Friday at a press conference organized within the EXPOMIL 2007 show in Bucharest. Moreover, the said consortium is willing to provide the first operational squadron of Typhoon warplanes in 2010.

The Eurofighter official underscored that Finnmecanica of Italy was interested in buying the local Craiova-based Aircraft Factory, which may offer technical support and maintenance for the Typhoon warplane.

EuroNews: Kaczynski concedes defeat in Polish election

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Kaczynski concedes defeat in Polish election

Out-going Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has accepted election defeat after being forced to call an early ballot. Kaczynski wished Donald Tusk, the expected victor in the Polish elections, every success. "We didn't manage to fight this large front which was deployed against us," Kaczynski said. But as combative and defiant as ever, he added: "We musn't forget that we won five million more votes, 50 percent more than in the last election, despite this unbelievable attack." Kaczynski has vowed that his Law and Justice Party will return and provide strong opposition to the new government.

Guardian Unlimited: Opposition Heading to Victory in Poland - by David McHugh

For thecomplete report from the Guardian Unlimited click on this link

Opposition Heading to Victory in Poland - by David McHugh

A pro-business opposition party that wants to bring Poland's troops home from Iraq had a double-digit lead over the prime minister's strongly pro-U.S. party in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to exit polls. State TV projections showed the Civic Platform party and its preferred coalition partner, the small Polish Peasants Party, winning a majority of seats in the lower house, which would allow them to form a government together and oust Jaroslaw Kaczynski as prime minister. Civic Platform was projected to take at least 224 seats and the Peasants Party 27 seats.

Kaczynski appeared headed for a stinging defeat in an election where Poles passed judgment on his combative approach to the European Union and controversial effort to purge former communists from positions of influence.

AFP: Morocco to sign high-speed rail link deal with France

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Morocco to sign high-speed rail link deal with France

France and Morocco are to sign a deal on Monday for the construction of a high-speed rail link between the cities of Tangiers and Marrakech, sources and media reports said. The agreement is to be sealed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his visit to the north African kingdom, several sources told AFP on Friday. French magazine L'Express reported on its website that the trains, to be built by French engineering group Alstom, the maker of the French high-speed TGV train, will run for 500 kilometres (311 miles) between Tangiers in the north and Marrakech in the south.

The line, to be operational between 2012 and 2015, is to pass by the capital Rabat or Casablanca.

Salon: Nuclear hypocrisy - by Joe Conason

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Nuclear hypocrisy - by Joe Conason

Trying to understand what is on George W. Bush's mind when he opens his mouth is often a fruitless exercise, but his latest statement concerning Iran, nuclear weapons and World War III was troubling as well as opaque. Just what did the president mean when he uttered those apocalyptic remarks on Wednesday? "We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," he blathered. "So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." Sorry, but the Iranian leadership and many other unsavory figures around the world cannot be prevented from "having the knowledge" needed to build a nuclear weapon, since, as Matthew Yglesias has noted, the scientific and engineering information is commonly available.

BBC NEWS: Tories 'unlikely to win EU vote'

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Tories 'unlikely to win EU vote'

The Conservatives are "unlikely" to defeat the government over a referendum on the EU reform treaty, shadow foreign secretary William Hague told the BBC. Mr Hague accused the government of breaking its "solemn" promise to hold a public vote - and pledged a "real Parliamentary battle" to win one. But he acknowledged it would be "difficult" to defeat Labour without the backing of Lib Dem MPs.

M&C: Exit polls delayed in Polish election

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Exit polls delayed in Polish election

Warsaw - Exit poll results are to be delayed by nearly two hours in Poland's Sunday parliamentary election until 10:55 pm (2055 GMT), Poland's State Elections Commission (PKW) announced Sunday. A shortage of ballots at polling stations in the capital Warsaw resulted in extended voting hours, precipitating the extra campaign blackout of one hour, fifty-five minutes.Polish media had originally planned to release exit

at the official close of voting.

EU-Digest- Storm Warnings : Turkey- Iraq - by René Wadlow

EU-Digest: The report "Storm Warnings: Turkey-Iraq" was contributed to EU-Digest by its author René Wadlow, editor of the online journal of www.transnational-perspectives.org

Storm Warnings : Turkey- Iraq - by René Wadlow

The Government of Turkey is under pressure from the military and part of the population to do something after a land mine exploded on Sunday 7 October some 25 kilometres inside Turkey from the Iraq border in south-eastern Sirnak Province. The mine killed 13 soldiers, and the Army is frustrated by the fact that PKK fighters can carry out attacks on Turkish soil and then cross the frontier into Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turkish Government is under pressure to please the Army after the Army accepted the election of former Foreign Minister Abdullal Gul as President. Some, especially in the military, felt that Gul’s Islamic convictions put the secular nature of the Turkish state in danger. There was even talk of a military coup to prevent Gul’s election. While these objections to Gul have calmed, the Turkish military can expect some favors in return for their moderation on the political front. Punitive raids into Iraq might be such a favor. The PKK is made up largely of youth, influenced by Marxism, independent of traditional Kurdish tribal leaders. It started a program of violence against the Turkish State and against Kurds who were considered allies of the Turkish government. The PKK is strong in the poor mountainous areas where the State authorities had difficulty to penetrate. The PKK has military bases in northern Iraq and training camps in Syria.

René Wadlow is the editor of the online journal of world politics www.transnational-perspectives.org and the Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens. Formerly, he was professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies, University of Geneva. To get a copy of the complete report write to him at: Wadlowz@aol.com

CTV.ca: Kurdish PKK terrorists rebels ambush, kill 12 Turkish troops and civilians - UN Security Council Should Get Involved.


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Kurdish PKK terrorists rebels ambush, kill 12 Turkish troops and civilians

Kurdish rebels have killed at least 12 Turkish soldiers near the border with Iraq and reportedly taken some others hostage, causing Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call a crisis meeting. "Our anger, our hatred is great," he said Sunday on national television. However, Erdogan said the government would take "an approach that is calm, far from agitation and based on common sense."The late Saturday attack, one of the worst in a decade, comes four days after Turkey's parliament approved a motion allowing troops to enter Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq to fight the rebels.Erdogan said he will meet later today with President Abdullah Gul and army chief General Yasar Buyukanit to decide on Turkey's response to today's military casualties. Gul will meet with the leaders of the political parties represented in Turkey's parliament tomorrow, he said.

Note EU-Digest: "The Turkish Government is to be complimented for their restraint they are showing so far. Also the Iraqi government today declared on CNN that the Kurdish PKK operating from their soil is considered a terrorist organization, but they unfortunately do not have the political clout or military capability to get rid of these terrorists. The key to solving this problem is in the hands of the US which has done very little so far in fear of angering their Kurdish Allies in Iraq. The US intend to open three US military bases in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The three bases will probably be located in Qaradagh (south of Al-Sulaymaniyah), Zakho area (north of Duhok), while the third one will be based near Arbil. There is also a possibility that the Incirlik base in Turkey, opened in 1992, will be transferred to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Since the PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union it might be useful for Turkey to ask for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and request for a UN presence on the Iraq - Turkey border area? "

HULIQ.Com: Ayaan Hirsi Ali: hero or phony? - Controversial Politician and Author says Thanks But No Thanks to stay in Denmark


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Ayaan Hirsi Ali: hero or phony? - Controversial Politician says Thanks But No Thanks to stay in Denmark

"Persecuted" Politician and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali said she was ‘touched and honoured’ by Denmark’s offer of protected residence but is choosing to stay in the United States. On Sunday, the culture minister, Brian Mikkelsen, said Denmark would give the 37-year-old Dutch-Ethiopian author Ayaan Hirsi Ali asylum. The offer was made under the provisions established by the International City of Refuge Network, where ‘free cities’ are established for writers whose lives have been threatened because of their publications. Ali told Jyllands-Posten newspaper in an interview that it made more sense for her to remain in the United States. In a speech to Europe’s Liberal Democrats (ELDR) congress A Liberal Europe for a Free World, to which network Hirsi Ali’s political party VVD belongs, the Danish PM Mr. Rasmussen insisted on the liberal democracies’ obligation to protect persecuted writers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Note EU-Digest: Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not Ethiopian as is reported in Denmark and by the US Conservative sources but Somali-born. Earlier the Dutch news program Zembla also disclosed she had told a variety of lies about her past in order to get asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. Zembla retraced Hirsi Ali's journey from Somalia, via Kenya, to the Netherlands and uncovered both well-documented and previously unreported inconsistencies in her story. Interviews with her brother, aunt and ex-husband raised doubts about Hirsi Ali's contention she fled to Europe to escape possible retribution from her family for not going through with an arranged marriage. Her relatives contradicted her claim that she was not present during the wedding to the Canadian-Somali man. Hirsi Ali said she was forced to marry a stranger but her ex-husband said they had been in love and spent the week together after the wedding. He then went back to Canada to prepare for her arrival. Supplied with a plane ticket, Hirsi Ali later arrived in Germany and took a train to Amsterdam rather than continue the planned journey to Canada. The program-makers said it was decided to look into her past because of differing accounts she has given over the years about her past. Hirsi Ali said she came clean about the lies she told to get asylum when she joined the Conservative Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) in 2002. Yet prominent VVDer (and now EU Commissioner) Neelie Kroes described Hirsi Ali as a person who had lived through five civil wars in Somalia. This was not true as Hirsi Ali lived in Kenya for over 10 years before coming to the Netherlands. Insiders consider Ms Hirsi Ali a "very intelligent manipulating opportunist" and it seems even the PM of Denmark has become entangled in this controversy.

NYT: Iraq President Assails Syria’s Support for Turkish Cross-Border Threat - by Ahmad Fadam

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Iraq President Assails Syria’s Support for Turkish Cross-Border Threat - by Ahmad Fadam

President Jalal Talabani of Iraq has criticized Syria for supporting Turkey’s threat to carry out military attacks against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

Mr. Talabani’s comments were in reference to Mr. Assad’s endorsement of the Turkish Parliament’s decision on Wednesday to authorize cross-border incursions against Kurdish rebels. Turkey, however, has said that no strikes are imminent. The rebels, known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., use bases along the mountainous border to stage attacks inside Turkey in a separatist struggle that has continued for decades. Syria also has a large Kurdish minority and, like Turkey, fears that the substantial autonomy that Kurds inside Iraq have won will impel Kurds in Syria to seek similar concessions, or even independence. Turkey says about 3,000 rebels seeking an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey now operate out of bases in Iraq.

The Times - Euro rampant as dollar sags on more losses

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Euro rampant as dollar sags on more losses

The dollar sank to a new low against the euro on Thursday as fresh evidence of losses in the mortgage industry stoked fears of a sharper-than-expected economic slowdown in the U S and crude oil rose to another record. In late afternoon trading in New York, the euro traded at 1.4294, up from 1.4186 on Wednesday. Crude oil for November delivery rose 2.07, or 2.4% , to 89.47 a barrel. In after- hours electronic trading, the price rose slightly above 90.

The declining dollar has made commodities, which are priced in dollars, more attractive as investments, while tensions between Turks and Kurds over border violence in northern Iraq have helped keep oil prices rising.

10/20/07

Hotel Club Travel Blog: Germany - Best European Food Experience

For the complete report from the Best European Food Experience click on this linkGermany - Best European Food Experience

The best European food experiences can be had at the smaller “mom and pop” restaurants commonly found in the countryside and at the larger restaurants located in cities not commonly on the itinerary for the international traveler. These restaurants are often owned by the same family for generations and offer local cuisine at its most authentic. One thing to look for when searching for an authentic European restaurant is a menu that is not in English.Speaking from my experiences in the German countryside, I was happy to travel with a local since my German is left to be desired. Traveling down 2-lane roads for an hour outside the city of Freiburg to my destination of Villengen, Germany I smelled exotic cheeses being created and saw miles and miles of open grasslands and grazing cattle. This is the Germany the casual tourist rarely sees. Without my interpreter, it probably would have been impossible for me to have this experience. Intermittently on the trip a sign saying ‘Essen’ or ‘Gaststätte’ along with a family name, these words announced a family owned restaurant open to passers-by on their way to the autobahn past Villengen and all points north and south.

Christians Today: Christians have nothing to fear from Islam, says Europe Evangelical leader - by Maria Mackay

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Christians have nothing to fear from Islam, says Europe Evangelical leader - by Maria Mackay

The General Secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance, Gordon Showell-Rogers, has reassured delegates at the EEA’s annual Assembly in Greece this week that Christians have nothing to fear from Islam in Europe.In a powerful address on day two of the assembly, Showell-Rogers reminded Christians that Muslims in Europe still make up only a very small percentage of Europe’s population – around 4.5 per cent – and that while migration has brought in Muslims, it has also brought in large numbers of Christians to the continent. Rather than being intimidated by Islam’s growth in Europe, Showell-Rogers encouraged delegates to see the evangelistic potential.

“Evangelicals have nothing at all to fear from any form of Islam. Christ is greater than even the greatest of world religions,” he stated. “Instead of being afraid and ‘demonising’ people, we should see the presence of Muslim communities in Europe as a great evangelistic opportunity.

”He went on to reaffirm the power of Jesus Christ to change Europe as well as the mandate of the European Evangelical Alliance to bring the Good News to those who still live without Christ.

EU plans judiciary training centre in Kurdistan

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)

"KRG EU representative: EU plans judiciary training centre in Kurdistan

The Kurdish Globe discussed politics with Burhan Jaf, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government Mission to the European Union, during a recent interview, and questioned the EU’s commitment to progress in the Kurdistan Region."

Businessweek: Urban Poles Spurn Politics for Business- by Jan Puhl

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Urban Poles Spurn Politics for Business- by Jan Puh

Poland's city-dwellers are more interested in making money than politics and that could mean an upset for the Kaczynski twins in this weekend's elections. Chaos reigns in Warsaw politics, both domestically and abroad, and the new elections scheduled for this weekend are unlikely to lead to more stable conditions. Observers Thursday said the election race was still wide open. The latest opinion polls show the center-right opposition party Civic Platform is slightly ahead of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice, although neither party seems likely to win an outright majority. Support for Civic Platform has surged in the last few days after its leader Donald Tusk defeated Kaczynski in a televised debate. Despite the political turmoil, the country is booming, with Gdansk only one of many examples of progress. The Polish economy will grow by more than 6 percent this year, and the unemployment rate in Poland has dropped from 19 to 12 percent since the country joined the EU.

The urban economies in the new Poland are doing especially well. Cities like Gdansk, Wroclaw and Poznan, governed by pragmatists who have carefully distanced themselves from the political wrangling in Warsaw, have almost no unemployment.

IHT: Cécilia Sarkozy tells her story - by Elaine Sciolino

The Sarkozy's in better times


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Cécilia Sarkozy tells her story - by Elaine Sciolino

"We tried everything, I tried everything," she said. "What happened to me has happened to millions of people: One day you no longer have your place in the couple. The couple is no longer the essential thing of your life. It no longer functions; it no longer works."

Sarkozy will live at the Élysée palace and Cécilia Sarkozy at their apartment in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. According to the divorce settlement, they will share custody of their 10-year-old son, Louis. Cécilia Sarkozy, who also has two grown daughters by a previous marriage, said she intended to spend more time with her family. She also said that although she had no projects at the moment, "I want to do many things and I feel I have the possibility to help others - that has always been my nature."

IHT: Poland looks likely to elect party vowing harder bargain with US on Iraq, missile defense

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Poland looks likely to elect party vowing harder bargain with US on Iraq, missile defense

Poland's weekend elections could bring to power a party that favors an eventual end to the country's military mission in Iraq and tougher bargaining on hosting a U.S. missile defense shield. The pro-business Civic Platform party leads Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's nationalist, conservative Law and Justice party in polls ahead of Sunday's vote. Both favor a strong alliance with Washington, but Civic Platform shows signs it may be quicker to push for what it views as Poland's interests. Since taking power in fall 2005, the Law and Justice government has twice extended Poland's military mission to Iraq, beefed up the country's contingent in Afghanistan to over 1,000 troops, and voiced strong support for hosting the missile base despite objections from Russia.

AFP: Humour hits hard at Poland's ruling power twins

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Humour hits hard at Poland's ruling power twins

What's the difference between Poland in World War II and 2007? In World War II, the Polish government fled to London and the Polish people were at home. In 2007, the Kaczynski twins are home and the Polish people have fled to London. As their country braces for snap elections Sunday which are being seen as a referendum on two years of often controversial conservative rule, Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and his identical twin Prime Minister Jaroslaw, are the butt of a wave of jokes. For those who remember the communist era, the wave of cynical humour has a familiar feel, evoking the way people used to mock the regime and the economic shortages which were a feature of daily life for ordinary Poles.

Polish Internet surfers can feed their need for novelty thanks to video-sharing site YouTube, for example, where a Star Wars-themed "Attack of the Clones" clip showing millions of Kaczynskis bracing to invade Earth had received more than two million hits by Friday. The 58-year-old, almost indistinguishable, diminutive and portly Kaczynskis are a dream target for humorists. "What do the Kaczynskis do on a tennis court? They play volleyball," goes one Polish favorite. Their surname derives from "kaczka", the Polish word for duck, and waterfowl are an ever present feature of anti-Kaczynski comedy.

Antiwar.com: WWIII – Bring It On !- by Gordon Prather

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WWIII – Bring It On !- by Gordon Prather

Last week, Iran hosted a "summit" of leaders of the Caspian Sea littoral states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran. Russian President Putin met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and afterwards declared that "Iran is an important regional and global power." Putin also said that he had seen no evidence that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program and announced that Russia would go ahead and complete the Iranian nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The summit, itself, resulted in a number of "milestone" agreements, including one prohibiting other countries – such as the United States – from using territory or facilities of one or more Caspian Sea littoral states for attacks on another "in any circumstances," and another "disallowing" the passage on the Caspian Sea of any ship not flying the national flag of a littoral state.

Bush's promptly convened an unusually lengthy press conference, in which to get off zingers like this one. "We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

So, if Bush is to be believed, he's recently told Putin that he is willing to start World War III, not because Iran allegedly has nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel, or not because Iran has the capability of making the material to make nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel, or not even because Iran allegedly wants to make nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel. Now all it takes to start WWIII is some Iranians knowing how to make a nuke.

EUobserver.com: Polish elections remain unpredictable ahead of Sunday vote - by Lucia Kubosova

Donald Tusk and wife Malgorzata


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Polish elections remain unpredictable ahead of Sunday vote - by Lucia Kubosova

This Sunday the biggest of the new Eastern Block member states that joined the EU in 2004 with 38.2 million inhabitants, Poland is holding its seventh parliamentary election since the fall of communism in 1989.

Mr Kaczynski's key rival in Sunday's elections is Donald Tusk, the leader of the pro-business and pro-European Civic Platform (PO), who is promising to improve Poland's problematic relations with other EU countries and bring along stability after months of political turmoil. Mr Tusk has also said he will cut down red tape for businesses, introduce a 15 percent flat tax and improve the country's absorption of EU funds. If the brothers lose, it may be because Tusk manages to unify Poles who have grown tired of the stridency -- directed at German politicians, former communist informers, gay-rights campaigners and many others -- that's become a Kaczynski hallmark, said Bogdan Wojciszke, a professor at Warsaw's School of Social Psychology.
``The Kaczynskis have significantly strengthened this sense that the world is unjust,'' he said. ``This just sustains a harmful and debilitating myth. The coming vote will show how many Poles prefer the myth to stay alive and how many want to opt for reality.''

New polls conducted by PBS DGA and the Center for Public Research both show the Platform with 39 percent of the vote and Law & Justice with 34 percent; a third poll, by Gfk, put the Platform lead at three percentage points. Either party would require a coalition with smaller parties that exceed the 5 percent threshold for representation in the parliament.

Note EU-Digest:Poland under the leadership of the twin brothers Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Lech Kaczynski has not only ridiculed Poland on the international scene, but also worked as a stumble block in relation to the advancement of European unity.

Aviation.com: Europe Launches New Aviation Research Program - by Chris Kjelgaard

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Europe Launches New Aviation Research Program - by Chris Kjelgaard

EU administrators will provide official funding for a group of 36 research projects that they believe will help make air transport greener, safer, more secure and more cost-efficient. The four large and 32 smaller projects to be funded will research key areas such as using flight physics and alternative fuels to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for aircraft, and developing new systems to improve aircraft safety in bad weather.

Researchers will also work on developing aircraft materials that can repair themselves, and creating blast-proof aircraft cabin structures. Other projects will seek ways of reducing production and development costs for airframes, aircraft structures, engines and components.

Goal.com - Netherlands/Soccer - Van Basten Gets The ‘Thumbs Down’

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Netherlands/Soccer - Van Basten Gets The ‘Thumbs Down’

an Basten is considered to be one of the best strikers the world has ever seen, but his approach to the game as a manager has earned him few admirers – in the Netherlands, at least. A poll issued on telesport.nl, the online version of ‘De Telegraaf’ newspaper, only hours after the national side beat Slovenia 2-0 leaves little room for doubt. According to the poll, Foppe De Haan is a better coach than Van Basten – or at least so think an impressive 79% of the people who voted.

Having transformed modest Heerenveen into a household name in the Dutch game between 1985 and 2004, now 64-year-old De Haan took over the reigns of Jong Oranje, the Netherlands U-21 side, guiding them to two consecutive European Championship triumphs within a year.

Food Productiondaily: EU Commission unveils logistics proposals - by Ahmed ElAmin

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EU Commission unveils logistics proposals - by Ahmed ElAmin

A series of proposed measures unveiled yesterday by the European Commission could help make freight transportion cheaper and simpler for manufacturers. The proposal for a common transport policy marks a bid by the EU to cut down on pollution, oil consumption and road congestion, mainly by allowing bigger loads and providing designated rail lines between countries for freight. On average, logistics accounts for 12 per cent of the final costs of a finished product in the manufacturing sector. The Commission estimate includes costs such as transportation and warehousing.

The Commission has identified about 500 bottlenecks in the current system that it says create unnecessary obstacles to the efficient flow of goods - including a lack of parking spaces for trucks and red tape. The Commission wants to encourage paperless information flows, the use of radio frequency identification and satellite services as a means of simplifying logistics. The Commission also plans to create a single transport document for all forms of freight transport, to replace the many versions currently used, depending on the mode. Another proposal would lead to a single reporting interface for freight transport.

The Market Oracle: World Economy - US Inflation Understated in Official Statistics - Prices are the Cart, Money Supply is the Horse - by Peter Schiff

For the complete report from The Market Oracle click on this linkUS Inflation Understated in Official Statistics - Prices are the Cart, Money Supply is the Horse - by Peter Schiff

Inflation has only one cause and that is the Federal Reserve itself. In the United States , the supply of money and credit is regulated by the Fed. Since inflation is by definition an increase in the supply of money and credit, only the Fed can create it. If the money supply were held constant, increases in some prices would be offset by decreases in others. The result would be no overall inflation. In fact, without government created expansions of the money supply, the natural tendency of prices would be to decline as technology allowed for more efficient production of goods and services. So while most regard the Fed as the primary inflation fighter, in reality it is the sole inflation creator. The main problem for consumers is that most inflation is not detected by the Fed's preferred measuring tools. As a result, inflation has been allowed to grow unchallenged.

For example, on Wednesday the government told us that consumer prices as measured by the CPI rose by only 2.8% over the past year. My estimate is that the actual rise was at least three times as great. The report showed that energy prices only rose by only 5.3%. Given that crude oil prices are up over 35% and heating oil prices are up 20% during that time period, how is it possible that energy prices are up only 5%? Are other energy costs falling to compensate -- firewood perhaps? The same CPI report claimed that medical costs rose by 4.6%. As a small business owner, I can't remember the last time my company's health insurance premiums rose less than 5% per year, and they typically rise at an annual rate of more than twice that. Perhaps the most incredulous of all the data in this week's CPI report is that food prices only rose by 4.5% during the past year. I don't know where the guys at the Bureau of Labor Statistics buy their groceries, but I'm spending at least 15% - 20% more for food this year than last. Wheat prices alone have practically doubled in the past year! The last time I checked, people tend to eat a lot of wheat. Does anyone really believe food prices are only up 4.5%?

10/19/07

EarthTimes.org: "No more "Hanky Panky" by Financial Community" say Germany, France, Britain as they seek transparency on financial markets

Merkel, Sarkozy and Brown - the EU's power brokers


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"No more "Hanky Panky" by Financial Community" say Germany, France, Britain as they seek transparency on financial markets

The leaders of the EU's three biggest economies - Germany, France and Britain - called Friday for new rules and greater transparency on the financial markets following the recent turmoil sparked by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis. At a meeting in Portugal, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Gordon Brown said EU ministers would be asked to discuss the appropriate measures at a Council meeting scheduled for the spring of 2008. "The recent global financial turmoil has highlighted that confidence in and between financial institutions is vital for the proper functioning of financial markets," a joint statement signed by the three leaders read.

"As a key global financial marketplace, the European Union should have a strong role in developing the global response to these events," the statement added. Merkel, Sarkozy and Brown also called for greater cooperation between national regulatory authorities and identified a number of key areas where action is necessary.

Spiegel On-Line: Europe Sets a New Course: EU Leaders Agree on Landmark Treaty


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Europe Sets a New Course: EU Leaders Agree on Landmark Treaty

European Union leaders meeting in the Portugese capital Lisbon have agreed on a landmark treaty to reform the 27-nation bloc. Diplomats announced the agreement in the early hours of Friday morning. The deal was reached shortly after midnight after leaders overcame objections from Italy and Poland.

"With this new treaty, Europe has overcome an impasse that lasted for several years ... and gets ready to face the challenges of the future," Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, the host of the two-day summit, said at a news conference.Under the new treaty, a new longer-term president of the European Council will be created, as will an EU foreign policy chief.

BBC: Brown welcomes deal on EU treaty

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Brown welcomes deal on EU treaty

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has welcomed the agreeement of a new EU treaty, reached after last-minute changes at a summit in Portugal. "The red lines have been secured. The British national interest has been protected," Mr Brown said. He said Britain can still set its own policies on justice, home and foreign affairs, as well as security.

EU-Digest: British organize renewable energy conference in Miami


EU-Digest report on British Renewable Energy Conference in Miami

British organize renewable energy conference in Miami

Yesterday the UK Trade and Investment arm of the British Consulate General in Miami organized a most successful conference on next generation renewable energy, attended by approximately 200 people. The varied program included presentations on Trends in next generation biofuels; Power generation from renewable resources; Greenhouse gas mitigation strategies; and Clean energy finance trends. Sponsors of the event were Akerman Senterfitt (Florida's largest law group), The FPL Group (Electricity power company in Florida with annual revenues of more than $11.8 billion), MGM International (a leading company which develops projects that generate emission reductions) and The climate Group (an independent, non-profit organization, dedicated to international action on climate change).

The conference did not include actual representatives of European Union manufacturers of alternative energy equipment, which are presently considered the most advanced in the world.

DW: EU Strikes Tougher Note on China Trade

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EU Strikes Tougher Note on China Trade

While China is the EU's biggest source of manufactured goods, European exports to China are of minor economic importance. In a letter to the president of the European Commission, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson suggested that China took business in Europe for granted, the BBC reported on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The EU sold more goods to Switzerland than it did to China, Mandelson's letter said, adding that the trade deficit between the EU and China was growing at about 14 million euros ($19 million) every hour."The Chinese juggernaut is, to some extent, out of control," Mandelson added.

10/18/07

AP: EU Leaders Endorse Reform Treaty - by Constant Brand


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EU Leaders Endorse Reform Treaty - by Constant Brand

European Union leaders on Friday agreed on a reform treaty to replace their failed European constitution and give the 27-nation union a more influential say in world affairs, diplomats said. The agreement came after the EU leaders resolved 11th-hour reservations to the treaty draft text by notably Poland and Italy, they said. "With this new treaty, Europe has overcome an impasse that lasted for several years," said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who hosted the EU summit.

"Europe has emerged stronger from this summit, stronger to face global issues, stronger to take its role in the world and also to increase confidence in our economy and in our citizens," he told reporters.

Religious Intelligence - Charity criticises EU’s new Uzbekistan policy - by Ed Beavan

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Charity criticises EU’s new Uzbekistan policy - by Ed Beavan

A CHRISTIAN campaign group has expressed its disappointment after EU foreign ministers decided to ease sanctions against Uzbekistan, despite the continuing deterioration of the former Soviet republic’s human rights record. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) criticised the EU’s decision to lift a visa ban on Uzbek officials ‘with a view to encouraging the Uzbek authorities to take positive steps to improve the human rights situation’.

The EU External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, stated that the EU would initially lift the ban for six months, with the option to reinstate sanctions if human rights violations continue.