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11/30/07

The Canadian Press: EU, soccer officials team up to issue crackdown on fan violence

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EU, soccer officials team up to issue crackdown on fan violence

EU, soccer officials team up to issue crackdown on fan violence

The European Union and UEFA have agreed on a joint Europe-wide crackdown on soccer violence in the wake of recent unruly and even deadly incidents involving supporters and police. Franco Frattini, the EU's top justice official, said he would push the launch of new police teams to help curb fan violence at soccer events, even before next summer's European Championship in Switzerland and Austria. "I am hoping that we can have a pilot project for training before Euro 2008, so that we can look at the results," Frattini said. "This is exactly the step toward the creation one day, of a true European police (force) for sports."

He said an initial 10 million euros (C$14.7 million) was being set aside from the EU budget next year for the training plan as part of new joint initiatives proposed by EU and UEFA officials at a conference on violence in sport, which drew 150 police and sport experts from across the continent.

New York Times: Shutting Up Venezuela’s Chávez - by Roger Cohen

President for Life?


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Shutting Up Venezuela’s Chávez - by Roger Cohen

Awash in petrodollars — oil accounts for about 90 percent of Venezuelan exports — Chávez commands formidable resources. They are centered in the armed forces; a huge nomenklatura scattered across the bureaucracy and newly nationalized industries; the so-called Boliburgesía (Bolivarian bourgeoisie) of traders grown rich working the angles of a corrupt system; and the poor whom Chávez has helped and manipulated. Certainly, the oil money Chávez has plowed into poor neighborhoods (at the expense of an oil industry suffering chronic underinvestment) has reduced poverty. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America said last year that the extreme poverty rate had fallen to 9.9 percent from 15.9 percent. But more than spreading socialist ideals, Chávez has spread a form of crony capitalism, dedicated to his greater glory, that has imbued the economy with all the resilience of a house of cards. Foreign investment has plunged, scared off by nationalizations. A huge disparity between the official and black-market exchange rates has encouraged get-rich-quick schemes for favored “Chávistas” while erecting endless barriers to trade. Price controls on staples have made eggs unavailable. This week, you can’t find chickens. Chávez’s socialism delivers subsidized gasoline and glittering malls but no milk.

Most of the region has moved on, but not Chávez, who trumpets “growth from within,” whatever that is. The World Bank’s recently released “Doing Business 2008,” a ranking of the ease of conducting commerce, places Venezuela 172nd out of 178 countries. Despite this, the country does huge business with the United States, as its fourth-largest crude oil supplier and a big importer. Chávez’s “socialism” and his chumminess with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad do not extend to cutting off the “imperialist empire.” Chávez is too shrewd to sever his lifeline.A possible conclusion would be that he’s harmless — a wily barracks-bred buffoon whose leftist rhetoric is just a veneer for a petrodollar power play.But Chávez’s grab for socialist-emperor status is grotesque and dangerous — as Fascism was — a terrible example for a region that has been consolidating democracy.

eluniversal.com: Venezuela requests the EU to respect sovereignty

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The government of Venezuela warned the European Union about the consequences of any statement rejecting next December 2 referendum on the changes to the Venezuelan Constitution proposed by President Hugo Chávez, right before the European Parliament addressed the issue in Brussels on Wednesday. "So far, the other European institutions have shown respect for Venezuelan sovereignty. If intervention happened, if our people were disrespected, both the Venezuelan government and the people are going to reject it," said Venezuelan Ambassador to the EU Alejandro Fleming at the European Parliament.

Note EU-Digest: "Venezuelan Ambassador to the EU Alejandro Fleming should be aware that the EU respects the right of freedom of expression and that its citizens and governments consequently are free to use that freedom any way they see fit. This includes being critical or positive about the present state of affairs in Venezuela."

IHT: Putin signs law suspending Russia's participation in Europe armed forces treaty - by Judy Dempsey

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President Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, intensifying pressure on NATO to make further concessions, said European diplomats. Putin's action, two days before national elections, moved Russia a step closer to carrying out its threat to stop abiding by the accord on Dec. 12. U.S. and Russian arms control experts said they would step up negotiatons over the coming days.

"There will be more meetings," said Mikhail Uliyanov, head of Russia's military security and arms control delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which negotiated the original treaty. "We are committed to the arms control regime, but the old treaty is out of date," he added.

Expatica: Seasonal politics: Sinterklaas vs Santa Claus

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Seasonal politics: Sinterklaas vs Santa Claus

It's not along the American lines of replacing the Christian-centred "Merry Christmas" with the more neutral "Season's Greetings". No, it is a full-fledged economic and cultural battle between our great traditional Sinterklaas and that tacky American Santa. Purists will point out that whereas Christmas has descended into a competitive "my-gift-is-more-expensive-than-yours" feast, gifts from Sinterklaas are truly anonymous and as such more in the true spirit of giving.

In addition, a poem is often included, which allows for mild reprimands, which the Calvinist Dutch adore. Finally, there is the "surprise" (pronounced sur-pree-za) whereby you do something artistic like wrap your present up to resemble something different or organise a trail with hints through the house. All much more industrious and creative than having Macy's wrap it for you.

News.com.au: Sarkozy condemns riot 'yobocracy' - by Emma Charlton

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Sarkozy condemns riot 'yobocracy' - by Emma Charlton

In a prime-time television interview, Mr Sarkozy promised his government would take a tough line towards those behind a flare-up of violence that left more than 120 police wounded, some by gunfire. "These people are yobs, ready to do anything. We will find them one by one," said Mr Sarkozy, who seized hold of the suburb crisis upon his return from a state visit to China.

Two nights of arson attacks and clashes around Villiers le Bel, north of the capital, were triggered by the death of two teenage boys in a motorbike collision with a police car on Sunday.

Caribbean Net News: Suriname - The Bouterse Trial Starts Today - Suriname police arrest alleged assassins - by Ivan Cairo

Desi Delano Bouterse on trial for massacres


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The Bouterse Trial-Suriname police arrest alleged assassins - by Ivan Cairo

In his address to thousands supporters Monday night, Bouterse insisted that the government and parliament are not functioning properly while he cast doubt on the bi-partisanship and objectivity of the court and the judiciary. Suriname Justice Minister Santokhi disclosed that the authorities received intelligence that several individuals in the remote interior were armed by Bouterse and his supporters, while a top official from his party, NDP, traveled to a “neighbouring country” to recruit individuals to commit violent attacks in Suriname, including arson and murders. The Justice Minister claims that the destabilization and assassination plots have more to do then just derailing the upcoming trial. Interests of organized crime are also at stake here, according to the government official.Recently top crime leaders held a meeting to discuss actions aimed at bringing a halt to the assaults on their criminal enterprises by the authorities. During the past three years police have dismantled 9 of the 10 major criminal organizations in Suriname, including major drug trafficking rings with links to the Columbian rebel organization FARC.

Note EU-Digest Suriname, independent since 1975 from the Netherlands has had a turbulent political history so far. Desi Delano Bouterse, the present leader of the NDP political party in that country is assumed to be closely bound, not only with ongoing political unrest and crime in Suriname, but also with a military regime that controlled Suriname from 1980 until the beginning of the 1990s.

On February 25, 1980, the government of newly-independent Suriname underwent a military coup and Bouterse became Chairman of the National Military Council. Though the Suriname Presidency was retained, Bouterse became the nation’s de-facto ruler until his resignation in 1988. He even served briefly as President himself for a period in 1982. Bouterse is also considered the leading figure in Suriname’s post-independence civil war, and the main culprit behind the so-called “December murders” of 1982, and massacres in the Maroon (Bosneger) village of Moiwana in 1986. Since then he has also been accused on various occasions of involvement in illegal drug trafficking. In July 1999 he was convicted in absentia by the Netherlands for cocaine-trafficking. The Netherlands still has an international warrant for his arrest, which makes it almost impossible for him to leave Suriname. Unfortunately Suriname has not been able to extradite him to the Netherlands, because he is a former head of state. Today Suriname is finally slowly waking up from their fear and ready to prosecute the former dictator and some of his accomplices, whom have held the country in their grip for 25 years. This morning, November 30, 25 suspects, including Bouterse will be asked to appear before a Suriname court martial and tried for the executions, which went down in history as the "December killings". At that time 15 opponents of the military regime were summarily executed at the historical Dutch historical fort Zeelandia. One can only hope that justice will prevail and that Suriname can finally get rid of a "cancer" which has caused enormous harm to the credibility of that country as a viable Democratic state.

RNW: Dutch students protest against what they consider as pointless classes - by Perro de Jong

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Dutch students protest against what they consider as pointless classes - by Perro de Jong

Demonstrations by students who complain that they spend too much time in the classroom sounds a bit ludicrous. However, last week a union which represents high school students (LAKS) eloquently pointed out that what is truly ludicrous is a recent government recommendation to enforce a law which requires students to spend 1,040 hours at school. For one, there is a severe shortage of both qualified and unqualified teachers, so students often find themselves sitting in classrooms where they have nothing to do. Unless one argues that blindly following rules which make no sense at all is the most valuable educational lesson for a future career in public service.

But the Netherlands is not France. Compared to the lot of young people in the Paris suburbs, there is actually little to complain about - no harrowing poverty or lack of prospects. And the fun of rioting without a cause appeals to some students. There will always be people who riot because it's exciting, and looks tough on websites such as YouTube and Hyves. It remains to be seen whether things will calm down, or whether the violence will escalate further.Note EU-Digest: Students should always be able to protest, but violence and destruction must not be accepted and should be stopped with all the means available to the riot police in the Netherlands. Parents of children who have joined these protests should also make sure that they warn their children that they will be punished, not only by government authorities, but also by them if they get involved in violence.

AFP: European GPS - EU reaches agreement on satnav project says commissioner

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EU reaches agreement on satnav project says commissioner

European Union countries, excluding Spain, reached agreement Thursday on the long-delayed Galileo satellite navigation project after lengthy talks on how the work would be divided up, the EU presidency announced. Spain decided not to associate itself with the final declaration, EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot told reporters, after the other 26 EU transport ministers had reached agreement to salvage the troubled project. The EU's satellite navigation system aims to break Europe's reliance on the US military-run Global Positioning System (GPS).

Note EU-Digest: This is a very good move and investment by the EU for the future. Europe should not rely on other countries for its communication and GPS systems.

11/29/07

NYT- Denmark: Vote on Euro Planned

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Denmark: Vote on Euro Planned

Danes will get a new chance to adopt the euro in a referendum, the prime minister said. Denmark opted out of the European Union’s common currency in the early 1990s, when it also declined to forge closer cooperation with the European Union on defense policy and law enforcement. Voters rejected the euro again in a 2000 referendum. But Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a staunch supporter of the European Union, said that voters should reconsider those decisions and that votes on those questions would be held within the next four years. Recent opinion polls have shown that a narrow majority of Danes now favor switching to the euro from the krone.

Hindustan Times: Have sex, get UK visa!- by Nabita Sircar

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Have sex, get UK visa!- by Nabita Sircar

A probe has been launched following a newspaper report that staff at Britain's biggest immigration centre was giving UK visas to attractive foreigners in return for sex. A former employee told the Sun tabloid that workers at the centre in Croydon, south London, used their influence to seduce pretty asylum seekers whereas "ugly" migrants would see their applications rejected.

The whistleblower, Anthony Pamnani, a former administration worker at Lunar House centre which deals with 300,000 visa and asylum applications a year made the claims. 23-year-old Pamnani said, "One girl came in and told us an administrative officer had visited her flat and they slept together. She got indefinite leave to stay." Staff treated Brazilian girls most favourably, he claimed. They would allow them to stay twice as long in Britain as their male counterparts. However, he said unattractive women would receive the opposite treatment.

Reuters: U.S. and Russia face off over elections at OSCE meeting in Madrid- by Jason Webb

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U.S. and Russia face off over elections at OSCE meeting in Madrid- by Jason Webb

Addressing the Europeans other main economic concern with the Asian giant, Chinese President Hu Jintao told European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that he "did not favor a sizeable trade surplus with the EU," officials said. The EU is China's largest export market. European officials have called for China to speed up its reforms as the 27-member bloc's trade deficit with China reached a record 131 billion euros ($194 billion) last year and is expected to grow to 170 billion euros in 2007, according to EU statistics.

The United States says Moscow imposed impossible conditions on ODIHR. But Putin has snapped back against foreigners who he says are "poking their snotty noses" into its affairs.

Deutsche Welle: EU, China Disagree Over Yuan, Uneven Trade at Business Summit

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EU, China Disagree Over Yuan, Uneven Trade at Business Summit

The EU's Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said China, as a world economic power, needed to consider more than only the dollar in its economic policy. "They have to consider that not all adjustments should be focusing on the relationship between the dollar and the yuan," Almunia told reporters in Beijing. "They must think about the evolution of the exchange rate toward the euro."

Addressing the Europeans other main economic concern with the Asian giant, Chinese President Hu Jintao told European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that he "did not favor a sizeable trade surplus with the EU," officials said. The EU is China's largest export market. European officials have called for China to speed up its reforms as the 27-member bloc's trade deficit with China reached a record 131 billion euros ($194 billion) last year and is expected to grow to 170 billion euros in 2007, according to EU statistics.

Note EU-Digest: the EU commission should move towards finding more efficient ways in curbing the ever larger trade deficit with China including considering introduce a tariff system on particular Chinese products

The Independent: Why Europe matters more to the UK economy than Asia or the Middle East - by Hamish McRae

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Why Europe matters more to the UK economy than Asia or the Middle East - by Hamish McRae

Let's switch the focus back to Europe. There has been a stream of data from the US suggesting that the economy there may slip into recession, with the weakest period looking to be next spring. We'll have to see whether mooted interest rate cuts in America make much of a dent to this increasingly sombre outlook. By contrast, there has been a countervailing string of stories about the buoyancy of the Middle East and Asia, including the self-confident purchase by Abu Dhabi of 5 per cent of Citigroup, America's largest bank. But from a practical point of view as far as the UK economic outlook is concerned, Europe matters more. Continental Europe remains the UK's largest export market for physical goods, though not for invisible earnings. If, as I think it will, the UK avoids recession over the next couple of years, part of the thanks for that will be down to demand from our nearest neighbours across the Channel. So what is happening?

11/28/07

Businessweek: Group Touts Energy Saving vs. Renewables - by Jochen Luypaert

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Group Touts Energy Saving vs. Renewables - by Jochen Luypaert

The European Union should focus on increasing energy efficiency rather than on promoting renewable energy if it wants to keep its industrial base and tackle climate change, a major EU business confederation has said. "By saving on the use of energy, we'll keep our industrial base in Europe which is important for jobs and growth," Ernest-Antoine Seillière, president of BusinessEurope - a Brussels-based business confederation representing 20 million European companies - said on Monday (26 November).

tehran times : Netherlands ready to invest in Iran oil, gas industries

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Netherlands ready to invest in Iran oil, gas industries

The Netherlands’ Ambassador to Tehran Radnik van Vollenhoven here yesterday voiced his country’s readiness to participate in Iran’s oil and gas projects. He put the emphasis on privatization in country which would prepare the ground for Dutch companies to invest in the sector. At the meet with the ambassador, Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) head named the enforcement of the Article 44 of the Constitution and privatization the main means that helps promote his country’s economy.

Times OnLine: Suburb's fury trained on Nicolas Sarkozy - by Chrles Bremner

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Suburb's fury trained on Nicolas Sarkozy - by Chrles Bremner

Three small bouquets were propped up yesterday against the wall where two teenagers died in a collision with a police car in a quiet street in a north Paris suburb. Shaking his head, Hussein, a construction worker from Mali, nodded at the flowers: “You can say that Sarko did this,” he said. The charge struck a chord on the housing estates of Villiers-le-Bel, where hundreds of hooded youths, most no older than 17, fought police, burnt cars and buildings and looted for a second night on Monday. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former Interior Minister who brought tough policing to the presidency in May, is the channel for the anger that lingers in Villiers.

M&C: Germany's ifo business confidence index rises against expectations -

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Germany's ifo business confidence index rises against expectations

German business confidence rose slightly in November, confounding analysts' expectations, according to the key ifo survey published Tuesday. The Munich-based ifo economic institute's monthly index of 7,000 German executives put business confidence at 104.2 points, up from 103.9 in October and at the same level it showed in September.

The Guardian: Europe and China face off over trade, currency - by Chris Buckley and Jason Subler

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Europe and China face off over trade, currency - Chris Buckley and Jason Subler

China and the European Union on Wednesday kicked off a summit marked by mutual recriminations over trade frictions ranging from product safety to the value of the Chinese currency.
A host of EU leaders has descended on Beijing for a set of meetings expected to touch on sore spots including China's currency policy and what the European Union sees as its lax controls over fake goods.
At the start of the talks, Li Keqiang, a newly elected member of the Communist Party's top leadership who is likely to become a vice premier next year, praised the strengthening of economic and political ties.

11/27/07

Guardian Unlimites: EU, Norway agree on joint fishing rights for 2008

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EU, Norway agree on joint fishing rights for 2008

The European Union has struck a deal with Norway on fishing rights for 2008, agreeing to reduce amounts of most of the seven species that both sides catch in shared waters, the EU executive said on Tuesday. But for next year, they agreed to raise their catch of North Sea cod by 11 percent to 22,152 tonnes, with the bulk going to EU fleets, saying stock numbers had improved recently.The catch increase for the EU and Norwegian fleets was fixed on condition that the EU reduced its cod discards, or unwanted fish dumped overboard, down to 10 percent.

Atlantic Free Press - USA/Iraq - Four Days in Iraq: And this Means the Surge is Working? - by Larry C. Johnson

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USA/Iraq - Four Days in Iraq: And this Means the Surge is Working? - by Larry C. Johnson

If fourteen car and roadside bombs in four days is your idea of success then I give up. You should immediately sign up for the Joe Lieberman fantasy tour. While you are at it, keep those eyes on the skies because I bet the rapture is imminent. (Please remember to tell Joe that since he is a Jew that Jesus will not be favorably disposed to catch him up with the rest of the saved. Unless he accepts Jesus he is getting left behind, no matter how deeply he believes things are swell in Iraq. We also need to be honest with ourselves. If we were experiencing one terrorist bombing a day in America would Bush or any member of Congress have the balls to tell the American people that things are better? Would that be considered a tolerable state of affairs. If you have a shred of intellectual honesty you know that the answer is not only “no”, but “No Way in Hell”.

the Economic Times: Airbus to sell 160 jets to China for $14.8 bn

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Airbus to sell 160 jets to China for $14.8 bn

Airbus said it signed contracts Monday to sell 160 passenger jets worth around US$14.8 billion (euro10 billion) to China in a deal that stands to push the Eureopean plane maker past archrival Boeing in total commercial aircraft orders this year. Planes ordered include 110 of the company's A320 jets and 50 of the slightly larger A330 planes, Airbus officials said in Beijing, where they were accompanying French President Nicolas Sarkozy on his first state visit to the Asian trading giant.

Reuters Canada: U.S. uses double standards over protests: Russia - by Oleg Shchedrov

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U.S. uses double standards over protests: Russia - by Oleg Shchedrov

The Kremlin accused Washington on Tuesday of double standards in criticizing police action against demonstrators who denounce parliamentary elections as skewed to strengthen President Vladimir Putin's grip on power. The Kremlin spokesman said the Western reaction to the protests contrasted sharply with the mild criticism voiced by Washington when police in ex-Soviet Georgia, a U.S. ally, used tear gas and truncheons to break up an opposition rally. "Such a practice of applying double standards does not look satisfactory to say the least," Peskov said.

JURIST - Dutch court allows Srebrenica lawsuit against UN, Netherlands to proceed

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Dutch court allows Srebrenica lawsuit against UN, Netherlands to proceed

A court in the Netherlands ruled Tuesday that the families of approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslims who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] can proceed with their class action lawsuit [JURIST report; case backgrounder] against the United Nations and the Netherlands filed June 4, according to lawyer Marco Gerritsen, who represents approximately 6,000 family members of victims in the lawsuit. Gerritsen said the court ruled the case can proceed in spite of the UN's claim of immunity [JURIST report; press briefing transcript] under Article 2 Section 2 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations [PDF text], which says that the UN's property and assets "shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except it has expressly waived its immunity." The thousands of Srebrenica survivors who filed the lawsuit allege that both the Netherlands and the UN are liable for their failure to protect civilians, many of whom were refugees that relocated to the Srebrenica enclave declared [S/Res 819, PDF] to be a "safe area" by the UN Security Council in 1993.

Reuters.com: E. Africa bloc signs interim trade agreement with EU

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E. Africa bloc signs interim trade agreement with EU

Five East African countries agreed a new trade deal with the European Union on Tuesday, weeks before a preferential trade pact is due to expire, EU officials said. Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi -- which form the East African Community trading bloc -- and the European Commission inked an interim deal, covering goods and fisheries. The move was a step towards a new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) covering issues such as services and investment to be reached by mid-2009, the Commission said.

Kaiser Network: Number of New HIV Cases in European Union Nearly Double Since 1999, Report Says

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Number of New HIV Cases in European Union Nearly Double Since 1999, Report Says

The number of new HIV cases recorded in European Union countries has nearly doubled from 28.8 cases per one million residents in 1999 to 57.5 cases per one million residents in 2006, according to a report released on Friday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, BBC News reports. More than 50% of cases are through heterosexual transmission, although men who have sex with men are at higher risk of infection, ECDC said (BBC News, 11/23). The EuroHIV data, published in ECDC's journal Eurosurveillance, found that in 2006, a total of 86,912 new HIV cases were reported across 50 of the 53 countries of the World Health Organization European Region. A total of 26,220 cases, or 30%, reported in E.U. countries, according to the data. The average rate of new HIV diagnosis across Europe is about 111 cases per one million residents, and the rate among countries in the European Union is 67 cases per one million residents (ECDC release, 11/23). According to the report, the number of HIV cases is continuing to rise in non-E.U. areas of Europe, with 288 cases per one million residents in Ukraine and 275 cases per one million residents in Russia (BBC News, 11/23). The data indicate that former Soviet countries had the highest number of new HIV cases in 2006, primarily because of drug use, Reuters reports. Former Soviet countries reported 59,866 new HIV cases in 2006, which is more than all of the new cases in Western and Central Europe combined (Reuters, 11/23).

Telegraph: UK broadband network 'lagging behind the rest of Europe' - by Gary Cleland

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UK broadband network 'lagging behind the rest of Europe' - by Gary Cleland

The broadband network needs urgent improvement or it will fall behind the rest of Europe, industry experts have claimed. Telecommunications leaders said internet access needed a faster broadband network to cope with rising demand for services. They claimed at a Government-organised summit that the flagging network could be left behind by other countries. Almost nine out of 10 British internet users connect via broadband yet they have to put up with some of the slowest broadband speeds in Europe - worse than Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

11/26/07

heise online - EU to get its own GPS system: Galileo to be partially funded through EU farming subsidies

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EU to get its own GPS system: Galileo to be partially funded through EU farming subsidies

Following months of disagreements, the EU has reached a funding compromise and resolved the crisis around its Galileo satellite navigation system. Two thirds of the missing 2.4 billion euros will be provided from EU farming pots alone. This was announced by the Portuguese Chair of the European Council in Brussels on Friday night following more than 12 hours of budget negotiations for 2008 by the EU Ministers of Finance or their representatives. Germany could not uphold its reservations against fully funding Galileo from the EU budget, reported EU diplomats. Berlin didn't want to put the EU's long-term financial plan on the line, which runs until 2013. According to German Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrück, the German government was also apprehensive of straining its national budget by an additional more than 500 million euros. European Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Dalia Grybauskaite spoke of an "important decision". As she had suggested, farming subsidies would for the first time be used to improve the EU's competitive position. The current Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Portuguese State Secretary of Finance Emanuel Augustos Santos, said that farming subsidies had not been exhausted this year, and that therefore nothing would be taken away from anybody.

Unlike the US system GPS, the European Galileo satellite navigation system is intended mainly for civilian purposes. It was initially planned to be available this year. The planned start has been postponed to 2013. Apart from the European Union, both China (COMPASS) and India (IRNSS) plan to launch their own satellite navigation systems into the earth orbit. The Russian GLONASS system is planned to be fully functional again from 2009.

Seattletimes.net: Dollar down, euro up, so what - by John M.Berry

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Dollar down, euro up, so what - by John M.Berry

The U.S. dollar is still at the center of the world's financial system, and its importance isn't fading in the face of exaggerated claims to the contrary.Nevertheless, the dollar continues to dominate foreign-exchange markets, U.S. financial markets are the world's deepest and most liquid, and Treasury securities remain the globe's premier risk-free investment. And, of course, the US is a market second to none, to which foreign companies supplied more than $2.2 trillion worth of goods and services last year.

Newsweek: A New French Revolution - Fareed Zakaria

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A New French Revolution - by Fareed Zakaria

In an essay in the current issue of The American Interest, Brookings scholar Philip Gordon writes that Sarkozy might well be able to make France a larger player in the world, "punching above its weight," the way Tony Blair did during the 1990s and early 2000s. Blair, and Thatcher before him, were able to create a new image for Britain and made the country a modern world power. But that transformation rested on the revival of the British economy, which became a symbol of success in a globalized age. France currently ranks 18th in the World Economic Forum's annual competitiveness rankings. That's not bad, but it is nowhere near commensurate with the place that the French imagine for themselves in the world.

Boston.com: From Superpower to Superstore: With dollar low, US is one big outlet - by Jen Abelson

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From Superpower to Superstore: With dollar low, US becomes one big outlet - by Jen Abelson

For Europeans, America is one big discount bin, thanks to a weak dollar that slid this week to another record low against the euro. As a result, tourists are spending thousands to travel to the United States to snag blockbuster bargains on everything from iPods to designer clothes and handbags."With Americans looking to cut back and conserve because of economic uncertainties, the holy grail this holiday-season year for retailers are the international travelers who are coming to the US in record numbers," said Patrick Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.Boston is projecting a 14 percent increase in overseas visitors this month compared with November of last year.The weaker dollar also is promoting tourism. On Monday, the US Department of Commerce said this past summer was a record-breaking season for international travel to the United States. Both the number of travelers and overall spending by visitors surpassed previous highs. The nearly $30.7 billion foreign visitors spent this summer, which includes purchases of food, lodging, and gifts, was a 14 percent increase over the summer of last year.

Note EU-Digest: The US goes from Superpower to Superstore, and it's a Superstore for "made in China" produced products. The Chinese must be laughing all the way to the bank! At least it makes more sense than trying to be a Supercop around the world"

ShareCast - Ukraine - Shell terminates MoU Ukraine Deal, confirms Regal

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Ukraine - Shell terminates MoU Ukraine Deal, confirms Regal

Shell has terminated a Memorandum of Understanding covering interests in Ukraine signed with oil explorer Regal Petroleum last week, Regal said Monday. “The company is considering its options for the development and commercialization of its Ukrainian assets,” said Regal this morning. The agreement with Shell over a sale of a 51% stake in its Ukraine interests was announced last Wednesday.

Turkish Press: Turkey And Greece Plant Trees For Friendship

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Turkey And Greece Plant Trees For Friendship

Businessmen of Turkey and Greece planted trees for friendship in Kalamata, Greece on Sunday. The tree planting initiative took place within the framework of the Eighth Economy Summit of Turkish Aegean Coasts & Greek Aegean Islands. In the summit, Turkish and Greek businessmen decided to form a Turkish-Greek Friendship Forest to eliminate the damages of the forest fire that broke out in Greece's Peloponnesian peninsula.

TimesOnLine:Britain: Archbishop of Canterbury says "US is‘worst’ imperialist - by Abul Taher

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Archbishop of Canterbury says "US is‘worst’ imperialist - by Abul Taher

In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilization. He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”. He went on to suggest that the West was fundamentally adrift: “Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul.”

Williams suggested American leadership had broken down: “We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That’s not working. He contrasted it unfavourably with how the British Empire governed India. “It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the British Empire did — in India, for example. “It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together — Iraq, for example.

TimesOnLine: Europe to voice concerns over yuan exchange rate - by Rory Watson

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Europe to voice concerns over yuan exchange rate - by Rory Watson

The European Union will voice its concerns over China’s exchange rate policy directly to the country’s leadership this week. In a sign of growing confidence among the members of the EU’s single currency, the eurozone is dispatching a high-level delegation for the first time to discuss macroeconomic issues with one of its main trading partners. Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg Prime Minister and chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, will be accompanied by Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank President, and JoaquÍn Almunia, the European Economics Commissioner. On Wednesday and Thursday, they will meet Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Prime Minister, Xie Xuren, the Finance Minister, and Zhou Xiao-chuan, the Central Bank Governor.

11/25/07

TechCrunch: EU May Crack Down On Targeted Advertising - by Duncan Riley


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EU May Crack Down On Targeted Advertising - by Duncan Riley

The European Union may crack down on targeted advertising following concern into the personal privacy aspects of such programs. The Article 29 working party has an ongoing investigation into privacy online, and has previously forced Google to limit its data retention of web searches in Europe to 18 months. According to a Reuters report, Gabriele Loewnau, a senior legal adviser for the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection said that targeted advertising was a “hot topic” that will be part of the work program for the EU next year.

Targeted advertising is this regard is different to regular contextual advertising in that it is not simply advertising that displays in context to the web site, but advertising that is displayed based on user habits, including browser habits and online purchases. Facebook’s new advertising program delivers ads based on user interests and those of their friends, potentially meaning that they may also be a target of any future EU crack down.

IHT: Government talks continue in Belgium; Central Bank chief warns about financial outlook

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Government talks continue in Belgium; Central Bank chief warns about financial outlook

Would-be premier Yves Leterme soldiered on Sunday trying to form a government amid warnings from the central bank chief that the 168-day political stalemate was jeopardizing the country's financial outlook. In a rare interview in the weekend edition of the Flemish daily De Morgen, Central Bank Gov. Guy Quaden said projected budget surpluses totaling €2.5 billion (US$3.7 billion) in 2007 and 2008 may not be realized due to the deadlock between Dutch- and French-speaking parties in the government talks.

He said last year's budget was in balance and that the bank forecast a surplus of 0.3 percent of gross domestic product for this year, and 0.2 percent for next year.

A1 ONLine: USA/EU: The Case for restraint - by Barry R.Posen

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USA/EU: The Case for restraint - by Barry R.Posen

Since the end of the Cold War, the American foreign policy establishment has gradually converged on a grand strategy for the United States. Republican and Democratic foreign policy experts now disagree little about the threats the United States faces and the remedies it should pursue. Despite the present consensus and the very great power of the United States, which mutes the consequences of even Iraq-scale blunders, a reconsideration of U.S. grand strategy seems inevitable as the costs of the current consensus mount—which they will. The current consensus strategy is unsustainable.

TheStar.com: Why Pax Americana is failing everybody - by David Olive

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Why Pax Americana is failing everybody - by David Olive

Its global ubiquity has bred regional resentment toward the U.S.. It too often has yielded unsatisfactory outcomes. And it is an increasingly perilous burden on the American people. The U.S. tab for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is officially placed between $2.4 trillion (U.S.) and $3.5 trillion (U.S.), depending on the duration of those obligations. To put that in perspective, as recently as 2000 the national debt accumulated during the entire history of the republic was about $5 trillion (U.S.). In a well-reasoned essay titled "The Case for Restraint" in the November-December edition of The American Interest, U.S. political scientist Barry Posen grades America's persistent attempts to impose its vision on the world. "Since the end of the Cold War 16 years ago, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been running an experiment with U.S. grand strategy," writes Posen, the Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"The theory to be tested has been this: Very good intentions, plus very great power, plus action can transform both international politics and the domestic politics of other states in ways that are advantageous to the United States, and at costs it can afford. The evidence is in: The experiment has failed. Transformation is unachievable, and costs are high."

BBC NEW - France: spending and unemployment highest in Europe - France urged to cut its spending by ECB


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France: spending and unemployment highest in Europe - France urged to cut its spending by ECB

The President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, has urged France to reduce its public spending. Giving evidence to a commission in Paris set up to boost economic growth, Mr Trichet said France was "not in the right frame in terms of efficiency". He said that in 2007, public spending in France would be the heaviest as proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) within the European Union. Mr Trichet also said France had the highest unemployment level in the eurozone. For older people, he said the jobless rate was "ridiculously low" and he called for greater flexibility in the labour market, along the lines of Denmark and the Irish Republic. Note EU-Digest: Mr. Sarkozy, the French President seems to be on the right track to remedy the present unstable economic situation in France. In general his efforts are also strongly supported by a majority of the French voters.

Tehran Times/Wallstreet Journal : European Economy: ECB has interest in strong euro

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European Economy: ECB has interest in strong euro

The European Central Bank has an interest in a strong currency, and the euro’s level also reflects broad global interest in the euro, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi of the ECB’s executive council said yesterday. “We have an interest in a strong currency,” Bini Smaghi said, adding that the ECB’s main focus is on assuring price stability in the 13-member currency bloc. The “world is betting on Europe,” he said in this town near Florence at a conference hosted by Italy’s Confindustria business lobby. Bini Smaghi also warned conference attendees against thinking that U.S. authorities are deliberately driving the U.S. dollar down to boost the competitiveness of their exports. “I don’t think so,” he said. “It’s wrong to assume conspiracy.” The ECB’s mandate is to keep medium-term euro-zone inflation rates “close to, but below, 2.0%.” Euro-zone inflation in October rose to a 2.6% annual rate due to a spike in food and oil prices.

“If we keep inflation low, and inflation expectations low, then real interest rates will also be kept low, and that’s what matters to businesses,” Bini Smaghi said.

Seattlepi.com: U.S. friends and foes grabbing power -are they following US example? by Helen Thomas

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U.S. friends and foes grabbing power - are they following US example? by Helen Thomas

While President Bush has been distracted with his unpopular war against Iraq, friends and foes are busy grabbing power to perpetuate themselves in office. Among them are Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia. There is little the United States can do about the drift toward authoritarian rule.

Bush -- with pressure from his neo-conservative vice president and staff -- has himself expanded presidential power in the name of the "war on terror." The power grab-bag of the US Bush administration extends from its warrantless wire tapping to the president's outrageous abuse of "signing statements" that he issues when putting his signature on new legislation; the statements are his claims that he won't be bound by certain sections of the bill he just signed into law. His decision to name as attorney general retired federal judge Michael Mukasey -- who believes the president is above the law in wartime -- is good insurance for Bush's power surge. Unfortunately, Bush's actions show that America is not in a prime position to preach to friends and foes about abuse of power (or democracy for that matter).

ZDNet: Open Source: The Internet must not be proprietary - by Dana Blankenhorn

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Open Source: The Internet must not be proprietary - by Dana Blankenhorn

"There is an important lesson which can be drawn as a string through a host of recent stories, from Comcast and Cox Cable throttling BitTorrent to Verizon doing the SiteFinder thing to depredations concerning the iPhone and open spectrum.The whole idea of the Internet is that it’s a network of networks in which competition is assured. When anyone tries to close down progress, consumers are able to route around it. What began with the network spread to software in the form of open source. The two are linked. The end of the software monopoly is tied directly to the end of the network monopoly. Recreate the latter and you can recreate the former.But the big stories of this year all show that network monopolies are coming back, at least in the U.S. If I want to dump Comcast as my home ISP, my only choice is AT&T. That’s no choice. A network defined by a single owner is not the Internet. Only choice and competition enable the Internet we’ve come to love for over a decade to function."

OEDB: Open Source - Solution for EU to accelerate research and development: How the Open Source Movement Has Changed Education: 10 Success Stories

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Solution for EU to accelerate research and development: How the Open Source Movement Has Changed Education: 10 Success Stories

Recently, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that the OCW program, a free and open educational resource (OER) for educators, students, and self-learners around the world, is online and will be completed by 2008. The OCW provides open access to course materials for up to 1,550 MIT courses, representing 34 departments and all five MIT schools. The goal is to include materials from all MIT courses by next year. MIT provides just one of the 10 open source educational success stories. Open source and open access resources have changed how colleges, organizations, instructors, and prospective students use software, operating systems and online documents for educational purposes. And, in most cases, each success story also has served as a springboard to create more open source projects.

Note EU-Digest: Open Source education is an excellent way for the EU to accelerate the improvement of its resource and development base and educational curriculum methodology. Education should not be privatized , but open to everyone for as little cost as possible. The Open Source system in connection with the Internet seems to present an ideal opportunity."

11/24/07

RNW: "Putin who is immensely popular in Russia can count on overwhelming victory in elections"- by Geert Groot Koerkamp


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"Putin who is immensely popular in Russia can count on overwhelming victory in elections"- by Geert Groot Koerkamp

President Vladimir Putin addressed thousands of supporters of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party less than two weeks before the Russian parliamentary elections of 2 December. The party is expected to win a landslide victory. His supporters see the elections as a referendum on President Putin, whose second and final term ends in March. They hope that he continues to rule the country. This should not prove difficult, since a Putin ally is expected to win the presidency.

The opinion polls promise good news for Mr Putin. The polls show that the only party besides United Russia which will get enough votes to pass the seven percent threshold is the Communist Party. Semyon Trofimov, a member of the new pro-Putin movement, says that many Russians believe Mr Putin will guarantee stability. “As an average citizen and father of two sons I want to see my children grow up without war, any sort of calamities or racial hatred. I believe that at the moment the only person who can achieve this is Vladimir Putin.”

Note EU-Digest: The EU has all to gain from standing behind Mr. Putin who is solidly supported at home by the Russian people. He has gained respect by bringing stability to a country during extremely difficult times, as it transformed from a totalitarian communist state to a pro-free enterprise democracy. Russia today is a democracy in its own right and respects religious freedom. The Internet is not censored (like in China); there is a free press; Russia has signed the Kyoto treaty; and is one of the most important trading partners of the EU. Europe will not benefit from mingling in Russia's internal political affairs, but instead should help them in further developing their government institutions, support technology transfer and increase trade. Europe certainly does not need to get involved in another cold war with Russia. .

Discovery Institute: One Cold War Was Enough: Russia Needs Our Help, Not Our Condemnation - by Charles Ganske

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One Cold War Was Enough: Russia Needs Our Help, Not Our Condemnation

Trying to understand Russia through the prism of the British and American news media these days can be a real headache. On one hand, if you’ve read the business pages of The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times lately, you would learn that Russia is now one of the world’s leading emerging markets, and the Russian economy has grown at an average annual rate of 7% since 2000. On the other hand, if you turn to the headlines or the editorial pages, you will read that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been busy crushing democracy and reviving the Soviet Union.

While Americans are constantly having their eyes opened to the possibilities for growth and economic freedom in the People’s Republic of China, a far more free and open society in Russia is judged more harshly in the Western news media. Why is this? Is it because the shelves at Wal-Marts across America are not stocked with goods from Russia? Or is it simply because, as some cynical Russians imply, there is one American and European expectation for people who “look like us”, and another for others (Asians, Africans, and Arabs) who don’t? Or could it be that American perceptions of Russia are still formed by a combination of stereotypes left over from the Cold War and more recent images of Russia in the Nineties as the Wild East -- an exotic backwater whose main exports were supposedly mail order brides and ruthless mafias?

Stop obsessing about the Kremlin and start concentrating on promoting more trade, entrepreneurship, and genuine philanthropy between our two countries at the grassroots and corporate levels. If the US can do this with China, a country that does not respect religious freedom and which actively censors the Internet, why can’t the US do it with Russia, whose government does not do either of these things?

ShortNews.com Russia - Opposition suppressed: Putin Rival Kasparov Beaten And Arrested

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Russia - Opposition suppressed: Putin Rival Kasparov Beaten And Arrested

Kremlin opponents clashed with riot police after a rally where the former chess champion was forced to the ground and beaten. In court two of the riot police swore that the had direct orders to arrest Kasparov. The Moscow court Convicted Kasparov and sentenced him to five days in jail. He was charged for organizing an unsanctioned procession "of at least 1,500 people directed against President Vladimir Putin," and chanting anti-government slogans.

Kasparov has said that he plans to run for the presidency next March, many of the opposition parties in his coalition, including his United Civic Front, have not been allowed to register in the coming election.

News.com.au: Kyoto supporters hail Rudd victory in Australia - by Richard Ingham

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Kyoto supporters hail Rudd victory in Australia - by Richard Ingham

Supporters of the Kyoto protocol were gleeful today after Australian elections left the US in the wilderness as the only major economy to boycott the UN's climate pact. Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd has pledged to ratify Kyoto and his defeat of John Howard at the polls has stripped President George W. Bush of a key ally barely a week before a conference in Bali on the world's response to climate change beyond 2012, they said. “It's great news for the Kyoto protocol,” Shane Rattenburg, Greenpeace's political director, said.A European diplomat said Howard's departure would hamper US efforts to coax support from two other countries whose governments, eyeing the cost of meeting their Kyoto pledges, could waver at Bali. “We're pleased about the (election) outcome,” he said.

San Jose Mercury News - Labor Party wins big in Australia - and will now sign Kyoto Treaty and Get Out Of Iraq - by Rohan Sullivan

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Labor Party wins big in Australia - and will now sign Kyoto Treaty and Get Out Of Iraq - by - by Rohan Sullivan

Conservative Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia's combat troops from Iraq. Labor Party head Kevin Rudd's pledges on global warming and Iraq move Australia sharply away from policies that had made Howard one of President Bush's staunchest allies.

TimesOnline: Something strange is happening at Europe’s ski resorts. It’s snowing - by David Charter

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Something strange is happening at Europe’s ski resorts. It’s snowing - by David Charter

In Verbier, Kitzbühel and Klosters, global warming is, like, so last year. After suffering a delayed and, in some cases, virtually snowless season in 2006-07, European resorts are enjoying record November snowfalls. Switzerland and Austria have had the best of the early snow, with even lowlying resorts that had been drawing up plans to become “winter hiking” destinations cranking up the chairlifts. France is expecting significant snowfalls this weekend, as are parts of Germany; some Italian resorts are already open and Sweden and Norway are also hoping to join the party. Zurich has had its heaviest snowfall since 1955 and the white stuff is settling all the way down to the beaches.

11/23/07

Times on Line: Movie - "What would Jesus buy?" Pastor Billy is Revving up Americans to drop their obsession with shopping - by Suzy Jagger

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Movie - "What would Jesus buy?" Pastor Billy is Revving up Americans to drop their obsession with shopping - by Suzy Jagger

"The Movie - "What would Jesus buy?" is revving up Americans to drop their obsession with shopping. It is about the antics of Bill Talen, a screen-writer who became so concerned about the influence of global corporations such as Walt Disney, Starbucks and Wal-Mart, and America’s obsession with shopping that he created the character of the Reverend, now the subject of a new film by Morgan Spurlock. While Mr Talen’s character is fictional, his message is genuine. The film, "What Would Jesus Buy?", opened in the US last week, and follows the actor, who tries to use the comedic preacher to urge Americans to question why they spend and consider the true cost of their purchases.

While Americans’ obsession with shopping has helped build the US to be the wealthiest country in the world with an economy valued at $13.9 trillion, the other side of the coin is that Americans have run up a combined consumer debt bill of $2.4 trillion. For the first time since the Great Depression, American households have a savings rate on average of zero – they spend all they earn.

Note EU-Digest: Last year, American shoppers spent $456.2 billion in retail holiday sales, accounting for 19.59 percent of industry sales, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation. The federation is predicting that US holiday sales for 2007 will be 4 percent higher than 2006. So, if the federation is correct, holiday sales will be $474.5 billion. The growth could be the lowest increase in shopping activity since 2002, when sales only increased 1.3 percent. Those data conflict with the 22nd annual survey of holiday spending by the American Research Group, in which the average shopper says he is going to spend $859 this year, down 5 percent from the $907 spent last year."

"What would Jesus buy" should also be an excellent movie for Europeans to see. They too, are hard on the way to becoming as addicted to shopping as the Americans. Pastor Billy says in the movie: “We seek satisfaction by shopping, by buying more and more things, and seem to be more and more dissatisfied.” Isn't that the truth - all we have to do is look at how our own children have become excessively consumer oriented by wicked advertising gimmicks, and as a result more prone to crime, drugs, and obeseity "

Hürriyet: EU's Lagendijk: 10 years ago we didn't know as much about the PKK

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EU's Lagendijk: 10 years ago we didn't know as much about the PKK

Joost Lagendijk, Co-chairman of the Turkey-EU Parliament Commission, met yesterday with a delegation from the Turkish Parliament's (TBMM) Social Assistance and Support for Families of Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims Foundation. Lagendijk spoke with Hamit Kose, the president of the foundation, about the EU's stance towards terror in Turkey, and about the perception of the PKK terror group in Europe in general. Said Lagendijk yesterday: "There is sometimes some confusion which could lead to the impression that the EU is soft on this terror. But we strongly condemn the terrorism committed by the PKK." Lagendijk also acknowledged that the EU's stance towards the PKK had changed notably in the last decade, saying "10 years ago, we had much less information, and we had ridiculous responses to it. But in recent years, with the events in London and Madrid, our perceptions of what terror really is have changed." Lagendijk took time to comment during his meeting on what he said was the importance of Turkey "moving into action" on lifting the controversial article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Cosmetics design-Europe: Nanotechnology to boost Europe's economy - by Katie Bird

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Nanotechnology to boost Europe's economy - by Katie Bird

According to European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the applications of nanotechnology are so wide they will play an important role in Europe's economic future.Although many feel the technology offers significant advances in the field it has come under criticism from consumers, and certain regulatory and research bodies, which believe more should be known about the safety of the technology before it appears in consumer goods.

Forbes.com: Italy's Prodi sees strong euro impact on energy imports curbing trade deficit-" EU consumer unfortunately not benefiting from strong Euro"

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Italy's Prodi sees strong euro impact on energy imports curbing trade deficit

Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi sees the strong euro cutting the cost of imported energy fuels, bringing down the country's trade deficit with the rest of the world, said a source close to Prodi. Speaking after yesterday's summit between Prodi and German chancellor Angela Merkel, the source said both countries with their strong industrial sectors are seeing a similar trend in the trade balances with the rest of the world.

Note EU-Digest: It is shameful how some corporations in Europe including petro-chemical corporations are profiting from the strong euro and not passing these benefits on to the consumer. Consumers in the EU are not seeing the price of gasoline (which is tied to the dollar) drop, or for that matter just about any product which is bought outside the EU and quoted in US dollars. For example Nike shoes (made in the Far East) selling in America for around US $ 65.00 (43 euro's) are still being listed in Europe for over 100 euro's. Instead of whining about the strong euro European politicians should go after corporations who are price gouching and getting away with making huge profits.

MSNBC; Mortgage meltdown's nightmare scenario - Mortgage mess- "US Economic Woes Continue"

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USA: Mortgage meltdown's nightmare scenario - "US Economic Woes Continue"

In the months ahead, millions of other adjustable-rate mortgages like Colombo’s will reset, giving them a higher interest rate as required by the loan agreements and leaving many homeowners unable to make their payments. Soaring mortgage default rates this year already have shaken major financial institutions and the fallout from more of them, some experts say, could spread from those already battered banks into the general economy. The worst-case scenario is anyone’s guess, but some believe it could become very bad.

“We haven’t faced a downturn like this since the Depression,” said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world’s biggest bond fund.

Tech It Easy: The Euro vs. Dollar double gambetto for high tech corporations - STRONG EURO IS GOOD FOR EUROPE

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The Euro vs. Dollar double gambetto for high tech corporations - "STRONG EURO IS GOOD FOR EUROPE"

"In chess, a gambetto - say it with an Italian accent, consists in sacrificing a piece at the beginning of a game to gain a competitive position on the exchequer - for example through the control of the center of the chessboard or one of the long diagonals. Getting back to business (we’ll get back to the gambetto later), it is very common to say that the state of an economy is reflected by the strength of its currency when the Euro currency is weak - and hence that the economy of the EU are in poor shape. However, when the Euro gets stronger, companies and officials claim that corporations are constrained in their efforts to export goods and services and that the situation should be reversed or the EU will soon enter an economic turmoil. I think this is all too easy and bullshit."

"God Dollar used to be the only viable currency in international trade, until the Euro came out of nowhere in January 2000 (2001 for actual pocket coins and bills). The European Union is the world’s largest consumer market, and a gateway to the Middle East and Africa for American companies. Although the Dollar still dominates international transactions of goods (slightly) and financial transactions (easily), the Euro has emerged as a tangible alternative considering the political stability of the region. Consequently, the Euro vs. US Dollar exchange rate has kept growing insanely from 1 EUR = USD 0.85 in mid 2000 (1 EUR = 1.19 USD on January 1st 2000) to 1 EURO = USD 1.47 USD today. Althoug I acknowledge the trickiness of the situation for export businesses, high tech or not, I see very few corporations have implemented hedging strategies or make proper use of forward contracts - which is a shame."

EUobserver.com: Poland vows new era in relations with EU and Russia - by Renata Goldirova

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Poland vows new era in relations with EU and Russia - by Renata Goldirova

In an effort to put Poland back on the European stage, the country's new leadership is set to be the first to ratify the EU's Lisbon Treaty, the bloc's new institutional set-up agreed in October.

"I hope that Poland will be the first country to ratify the treaty. This would be a symbolic gesture, signifying Poland's return to the heart of Europe", speaker of the Polish parliament Bronislaw Komorowski said on Thursday (22 November).

GLOBAL POWER EUROPE: Britain: The European power: a review of Brendan Simms book

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Britain: The European power: a review of Brendan Simms book

Dr. Simms’ most important conclusion in his book Three Victories and a Defeat: The rise and fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1783: "It is only through exercising influence on the continent of which Britain is a part—today meaning the European Union—that the United Kingdom can effectively exercise global power. Extrapolated, it is only by gaining greater leverage over the nascent European government in Brussels that British interests can be protected, defended and extended in partnership with other Europeans, particularly Germany, France, Poland and the Netherlands. Moreover, given the rapid rise of China, the aggressive re-emergence of Russia and the infiltration of Islamism into the rimlands around the European Union, it is only through pooling power and compentences at the European level that Britons and other Europeans will be able to protect themselves and shape the world of tomorrow. The real guardians of British—and of course, European—interests are not therefore the globalists, Eurosceptics and the Europhobes, but the Europeanists. Three Victories and a Defeat ends with a powerful statement, which contemporary Britons would do well to remember (pointer: Brussels is located in the middle of Flanders).

Britain’s security depended on maintaining her “ramparts” in Europe. It was there, in Germany and Flanders, in the “counterscarp” of England, that Britain’s fate would be decided, always had been and always would be.

EU Business: A Single Market for 21st - guide

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A Single Market for 21st - guide

The European Commission on 20 November 2007 set out a package of initiatives to modernise the European single market and to bring more benefits to Europeans, building on past successes. The single market has already helped create competitive companies, reduced prices, more choice for consumers and a Europe attractive for investors. The Commission says its measures - which are based on "extensive consultation" - will ensure that the single market does even more to take advantage of globalization, empower consumers, open up for small businesses, stimulate innovation and help maintain high social and environmental standards. Among the most important policy actions set out in today's single market package are initiatives to: help consumers to exercise their contractual rights and get redress across borders; provide better information for consumers and small businesses; respond to weaknesses in sectors where the single market should deliver more; propose a Small Business Act; and introduce a "researcher passport"; clarify how EU rules apply to services and social services of general interest; and promote the quality of social services across the EU.

11/22/07

Guardian: Soccer: Croatia gets heroes' welcome after eliminating England

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Soccer: Croatia gets heroes' welcome after eliminating England

Thousands of fans sporting team shirts and flags welcomed Croatia at Zagreb airport on Thursday following their victory over England at Wembley, which prevented the home side from qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals. "It was a splendid show by Croatia whereas England should bow to our lads and feel blessed to have seen a team of such quality play at Wembley," said daily Vecernji List.

"We are on our way to Austria and Switzerland with our heads up and fire in our hearts, needing no gratitude or presents from the fortuitous Russians," the paper said. Jutarnji List called the outcome "a spectacular win" and said Mladen Petric's winner was "the killer punch" that meant "lights out for England" and "steered Russia across the Alps into the finals."

The Atlantic: The End of the West? by Charles Kupchan

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The End of the West? by Charles Kupchan

"The American era appears to be alive and well. The U.S. economy is more than twice the size of the next biggest—Japan's—and the United States spends more on defense than the world's other major powers combined. China is regularly identified as America's next challenger, but it is decades away from entering the top ranks. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington certainly punctured the sense of security that arose from the end of the Cold War and the triumph of the West, but they have done little to compromise U.S. hegemony. Indeed, they have reawakened America's appetite for global engagement. At least for the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to enjoy primacy, taking on Islamic terrorism even as it keeps a watchful eye on China. That encapsulates the conventional wisdom—and it is woefully off the mark. Not only is American primacy far less durable than it appears, but it is already beginning to diminish. And the rising challenger is not China or the Islamic world but the European Union, an emerging polity that is in the process of marshaling the impressive resources and historical ambitions of Europe's separate nation-states.

The EU's annual economic output has reached about $8 trillion, compared with America's $10 trillion, and the euro will soon threaten the dollar's global dominance. Europe is strengthening its collective consciousness and character and forging a clearer sense of interests and values that are quite distinct from those of the United States.

Editorial note EU-Digest: Mr. Kupchan's theory would make sense if the European political establishment would be able to move away from their policies of inward looking self-interest and be able to convey the need for unity and Pan-European patriotism to the citizens of the EU. At this moment in time there still seems to be a complete disconnect between the popular conception of what the EU stands for and its long term goals and the EU leadership. Indeed, if this major hurdle can be overcome the sky will be the limit of what the EU will be able to achieve as a world power in its own right.

11/21/07

Farmers Weekly Interactive: 7% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture says Hilary Benn

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7% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture says Hilary Benn

7% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture – about the same as from aviation, although aviation emissions are probably going to increase.There are lots of practical steps that can be taken to reduce direct emissions of methane and nitrous oxide are practical – for example by using fertilizer more efficiently, by providing animals with diets that specifically match their nutrient requirements, or by improving manure management and using anaerobic digestion to generate power at the same time.

The Biogen on-farm anaerobic digestion plant in Bedfordshire - processes 12,000 tonnes of pig slurry and 30,000 tonnes of food waste a year, to produce biogas. This runs a generator with an electrical output that’s enough to power 600- 800 homes. That is farming at the cutting edge of technology and the fight against climate change.

For more information on developing your own energy on-farm anaerobic digestion plant contact the Pear Group at mma@europehouse.com

AlterNet: Civilian Death Toll in Iraq: Holocaust Denial, American Style - by Mark Weisbrot

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Civilian Death Toll in Iraq: Holocaust Denial, American Style - by Mark Weisbrot

The average American believes that 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the US invasion in March 2003. The most commonly cited figure in the media is 70,000. But the actual number of people who have been killed is most likely more than one million. This is five times more than the estimates of killings in Darfur and even more than the genocide in Rwanda 13 years ago.

The estimate of more than one million violent deaths in Iraq was confirmed again two months ago in a poll by the British polling firm Opinion Research Business, which estimated 1,220,580 violent deaths since the US invasion. This is consistent with the study conducted by doctors and scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health more than a year ago. Their study was published in the Lancet, Britain's leading medical journal.

IHT: EU officials propose ban on genetically modified corn seeds - by James Kanter

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European Union environment officials have determined that two kinds of genetically modified corn could harm butterflies, modify food chains and disturb life in rivers and streams, and they have proposed a ban on the sale of the seeds, which are made by Pioneer Hi-Bred, Dow Agrosciences and Syngenta.Banning the applications for corn cultivation also would mark a bold new step for EU environmental authorities, who already are aggressively pursuing regulations on emissions from cars and aircraft that have set it at odds with the United States and angered industries.

Note EU-Digest: the EU's action against the powerful US biotechnology industry, which is trying to push their genetically modified seeds onto the EU market must be supported by the EU parliament. EU environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, recently noted that genetically modified corn seeds would generate "a level of risk for the environment(and the consumers) which is unacceptable."

AP: Ex Top US -Iraq Commander Says Bring Troops Home - by Ann Flaherty

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Ex-Top US Iraq Commander Says Bring Troops Home - by Ann Flaherty

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad, said this week he supports Democratic legislation that calls for most troops to come home within a year. His comments come as welcomed ammunition for the Democratic-controlled Congress in its standoff with the White House on war spending. This month, the House passed a $50 billion bill that would pay for combat operations but sets the goal that combat end by Dec. 15, 2008. The White House threatened to veto the measure, and Senate Republicans blocked it from passing.

Forbes.com: Dollar's A Drag On Dutch Ahold - by Parmy Olson

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Dollar's A Drag On Dutch Ahold - by Parmy Olson

Royal Ahold has a new U.S. crisis: the weak dollar. The Dutch-based grocery retailer, which runs the Stop & Shop and Giant chains in the United States, reported a modest 1.4% rise in third-quarter profit Wednesday, a number that would have been much higher if not for the dollar's recent decline against the euro.nvestors are also worried that Ahold will be hit by the expected fall in consumer demand in the United States, and the outlook for weak economic growth could spur the Fed to reduce interest rates, making the dollar even less valuable against the euro. Ahold seems to be doing well in the Netherlands, where it has a dominant position through its Albert Heijn chain. But Citigroup analyst James Anstead warned it was having "mixed fortunes" in the U.S.

Guardian Unlimited: Germany plans long-term rise in biofuels blending

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Germany plans long-term rise in biofuels blending

Germany said on Wednesday it planned a long-term increase in biofuel blending to counter global warming, but the finance ministry said it would continue to raise taxes on biofuels which are reducing their usage.
Presenting a joint biofuels strategy agreed between the government, the automobile industry, oil companies and the farming sector, Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany planned to raise the level of biofuels blended into fossil diesel and gasoline to 10 percent from 5 percent now by 2010.

Sporting Life - Soccer: England crashed out of Euro 2008 = 2-3

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Soccer: England crashed out of Euro 2008 and loses 2-3

England crashed out of Euro 2008 to leave coach Steve McClaren's future in grave danger after Croatian substitute Mladen Petric grabbed a late winner at a stunned Wembley.With 13 minutes remaining, Croatia regained the lead through Petric whose angled drive beat the dive of Carson who got a hand to the ball but could only help it into the net. McClaren brought on Darren Bent for Cole with 10 minutes remaining in a last throw of the dice. Bent came close to equalizing but lofted his drive over the bar and England could not find a way through. England wil not participate in EURO 2008.

AlJazeera Magazine:Napoléon Bonaparte: An Admirer of Islam? -by Karima SaifullahKarima Saifullah

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Napoléon Bonaparte: An Admirer of Islam? -by Karima SaifullahKarima Saifullah

Bonaparte first learnt about Islam in 1789, when he proposed a military expedition to seize Egypt -- then a province of the Ottoman Empire -- in order to protect French trade interests and undermine Britain's access to India. It has been reported that while in Egypt, Bonaparte took part in several religious ceremonies and held meetings with Muslim clerics. Many quotes suggest that Bonaparte was a serious admirer of Islam: "Moses has revealed the existence of God to his nation. Jesus Christ to the Roman world, Muhammad (PBUH) to the old continent, "I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of Qur'an which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness,” Napoléon Bonaparte as quoted in Christian Cherfils, ‘Bonaparte et Islam,’ Pedone Ed., Paris, France, 1914, pp. 105, 125. In fact, some aspects of the Shariah law still exist in the French constitution as the basis for some of their laws taken from the Code Napoléon.

Note EU-Digest: Shari'ah Law is undemocratic and degrading to womens equal rights. It has no place in a secular Europe and the claims that Napoleon supported this barbaric law are totally untrue.

EUobserver.com: EU states clash with MEPs over new security measures - by Renata Goldirova

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EU states clash with MEPs over new security measures - by Renata Goldirova

The European Union has failed to strike a deal on common aircraft security measures, including the idea of having armed sky marshals on flights across the 27-nation bloc. "There is a deadlock", German centre-right MEP Georg Jarzembowski, negotiating on the parliament's behalf, told EUobserver after the first round of conciliatory talks. He added that "the council is not really moving to take any responsibility" for the costs of security measures. According to the European Parliament, the costs should be shared by passengers and member states, but if a government wants to impose even more stringent measures, it should cover the whole bill.

The council however says all costs should be borne by the airlines industry, which would almost certainly pass the extra burden on to passengers.Similarly, EU states are reluctant to grant MEPs a say over the technical implementation of the new rules - something that would have a great impact on whether those rules would be limited in scope or duration. For example, the parliament requires that security measures, such as the ban on carrying liquids on board, should expire after 18 months, unless a thorough re-evaluation of the security risks means they are needed. MEPs also suggest strict oversight of in-flight security officers known as sky marshals. They should be well-trained, have specific authorization to carry weapons and no country should be obliged to accept them, unless the competent national security authorities consider it necessary.

Note EU-Digest: the EU parliament is absolutely right in making sure that these security measures do not infringe on member states privacy of information laws and that they have a limited time frame of staying in force.

11/20/07

Brazzil Mag - Germans Consider Stepping Up Purchase of Brazil's High-Tech Goods

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Germans Consider Stepping Up Purchase of Brazil's High-Tech Goods

German minister of Economy, Michael Gloss, suggested that Brazil might increase its sales of high tech products and improve the quality of its export basket to Germany. Gloss talked during a press conference prior to the 2007 Brazil-Germany Economic Meeting being held, in the city of Blumenau, in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. "To me, Brazil is capable of exporting high technology as well. Embraer's aircraft, for instance, are renowned worldwide. The country is also capable of exporting cutting-edge products in other fields, such as computing, telecommunications, transport," Gloss told Brazilian and German journalists. On the other hand, the German minister stated that he also expects for sales of tool machines and other machinery and equipment from Germany to continue growing. "Furthermore, we expect to sell biofuel production equipment and more vehicles," he said.

Despite the optimism expressed regarding Brazil, Gloss claimed that trade relations between Germany and Latin America are much less dynamic than relations with Asian and Eastern European countries. "It is something that we intend to change. We want to encourage bilateral trade with Brazil and its neighboring countries," he said.

AFP: Iran to buy Russian passenger planes

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Iran to buy Russian passenger planes

Russia's Ria Novosti agency said on Monday that Ilyushin Finance was in talks with the Islamic republic's Iran Air Tour over the sale of 30 aircraft and that the first planes would be delivered in 2009. The two companies were expected to have signed a preliminary contract at last week's Dubai air show, the agency said, quoting a source close to the negotiations. Tupolev spokesman Alexander Zatuchny told AFP that "Russia and Iran have signed a contract for five Tupolev Tu-204-100 planes" and discussed "other options" for future purchases. Iran has a high demand for domestic flights but also suffers the consequences of unilateral sanctions on transfer of technology imposed by Washington. As a result, Iran can no longer buy new US-made Boeings or even the European Airbus which contain American components. However it does on occasion buy them second-hand from partners.

UPI- Analysis: European defense contracts - by LEANDER SCHAERLAECKENS


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Analysis: European defense contracts

Analysis: European defense contracts - by LEANDER SCHAERLAECKENS

"The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. announced Nov. 8 to have made an operating loss of $1 billion over the third quarter. The company does anticipate breaking even for the year though, according to Defense News. The company plans to make cutbacks on Airbus operations, which it also owns. The losses are largely due to the charges on the A400M military transport plane. The weakness of the dollar has also burdened the company considerably, which is trying to cut some $3 billion in costs in the next two years. In order to do so 10,000 workers have been laid off and seven sites sold. Another EADS subsidiary, Eurocopter, did perform well and increased revenue by 10 percent. On Nov. 5 it announced it had purchased McAlpine Helicopters of Britain for an unknown amount, according to Defense News."

Nirvana International: European Tourism: Turkish government in 2008 tourism drive

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European Tourism: Turkish government in 2008 tourism drive

Ertugral Gunay, the Culture and Tourism minister has announced the 'Four Seasons, 12 Months' initiative, which aims to cut "bureaucratic handicaps" in order to simplify the investment process. The government also hopes to boost tourism as part of a wider strategy and has pledged euro 100 million to the campaign. Mr Ertugrul Gunay said he was targeting raising awareness of the country's other attractions, apart from its good beaches and sunshine. He said: "That is why we give priority to 'Four Seasons, 12 Months' tourism campaigns."

According to the Turkish Daily News, there is a government target to boost tourism from 20 million in 2007 to 25 million in 2008.

RNW: EU treads carefully in reforming agriculture policy - by Matthys Nieuwehuis

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EU treads carefully in reforming agriculture policy - by Matthys Nieuwehuis

Around one third of the entire European budget goes on agriculture, in total some 40 billion euros. For years, there have been discussions about plans to get this under control, and reduce the spiralling costs of agriculture. It's clear that the European Commission hasn't dared to do anything radical, and has chosen instead to proceed with careful steps, as EC Commissioner Fischer Boel explained: "We must take the faults out of the system that have been there since the very beginning. Then we must adapt the sector to the changes that are taking place at a rapid rate in agriculture."

It looks as Europe's farmers are not going to protest too loudly. At least, no French farmer has emptied his slurry tank against the wall of the EU Commission building. Dutch farmers are also positive. Albert Jan Maat, Chairman of the Dutch Agricultural and Horticultural Organisation, says: "As farmers and market gardeners we're not afraid of reforms. It's essential that you make sure the farmer can produce as much as possible under good conditions. If you look at the environment and animal welfare, then Dutch farmers are already doing well. At the same time, we think there's never a good time to reduce subsidies. The demands in the areas of animal welfare and the environment are very high, and we want to satisfy them, but there mustn't be a shortfall in support."

Xinhua : "Made in the EU" label planned for food and drinks

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"Made in the EU" label planned for food and drinks

All food and drinks produced in the European Union (EU) may be required to bear a "Made in the EU" label soon, according to a proposal being considered by the European Commission. The proposal, prepared by Markos Kyprianou, EU commissioner for health and consumer protection, says all goods of which final production takes place in the EU, including those which made use of imported resources, would be included under the label, the EU observer reported on Monday. Only meat products would be excluded, and would have to retain their national production label. The "Made in the EU" proposal, set to be made public in late December, is one of the new labeling requirements for food products now considered by the commission.

Comment EU-Digest: Excellent idea by the Commission as it will provide the consumer more information and choice about the product and the quality of the product they purchase.

allAfrica.com: Kenya: EU Trade Deal to Fast-Track Drive for a Regional Common Market - by Allan Odhiambo

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Kenya: EU Trade Deal to Fast-Track Drive for a Regional Common Market - by Allan Odhiambo

The interim trade agreement that East African Community (EAC) member states are set to sign with Europe will help fast track economic integration in the region, senior government officials said. Mr David Nalo, Kenya's Trade and Industry permanent secretary, told the Business Daily that pursuit of joint deals with a major player such as the EU should prompt EAC member states to harmonise their operations in key areas such as tariff regime.

Sofia Echo Com: Bulgaria - 54 COMPLAINTS AGAINST ELECTION RESULTS FILED AT COURT IN BULGARIA'S BLAGOEVGRAD - by Rene Beekman

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Bulgaria - 54 COMPLAINTS AGAINST ELECTION RESULTS FILED AT COURT IN BULGARIA'S BLAGOEVGRAD - by Rene Beekman

The Administrative Court in Blagoevgrad has so far received 54 complaints, demanding results of the municipal election to be annulled. This was announced by chairman of the court Vasilka Shalamanova, the Focus news agency said. "The election results for Mayor for example, all those who did not make it to the second round are allowed to file a complaint," Shalamanova said. Compared to previous elections, the number of complaints had increased manifold, she said. The cause, according to her, was the increase in number of candidates in the elections.

The Administrative Court in Blagoevgrad would decide this week in the cases against the election results for municipal councilors in Sandanski and Stroumyani, and for mayor in Cherniche and Stroumyani.

Transpol Times: Romanian Corruption Continues - Ex-agent: Romania's spies launder money in Moldova; misinform about PMR - by Marius Oroveanu

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Romanian Corruption Continues - Ex-agent: Romania's spies launder money in Moldova; misinform about PMR - by Marius Oroveanu

The Romanian intelligence services working in Moldova misinform the Romanian leadership about the true situation in Moldova, says Moldova Suverana journalist Mihai Contiu, a former undercover agent for Romania. They do so in order to launder money for sponsoring of specific Moldovan politicians and journalists, says Contiu, who published in the newspaper an open letter to the President and the Prime Minister of Romania alleging that he has received such information, working within last 15 years as an agent of the Romanian intelligence services in Moldova.

Agents working for the Romanian Serviciul Român de Informaţii (S.R.I.) routinely portray Transnistria (Pridnestrovie) as a "black hole" which is involved in smuggling and is a danger to the security of the Black Sea region of Europe. By exaggerating a threat and inventing reports for which there is no evidence, they are able to increase their budgets which are then split between the agents and anti-Transnistrian journalists in Moldova who help fabricate the information.

EurasiaNet - Armenia - Political Chaos - Armenia's Ter-Petrosian Sets Stage for Tense Presidential Vote

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Armenia: Political Chaos - Armenia's Ter-Petrosian Sets Stage for Tense Presidential Vote

After nearly a decade of self-imposed political retirement, Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian is seeking a return to power. His decision, anticipated for months, renders the outcome of an upcoming presidential election unpredictable. Opposition leaders, many of whom have been in talks with Ter-Petrosian for months about his return to politics, argue that the government is increasingly ill at ease with the prospect. On October 23, police detained a dozen pro-Ter-Petrosian activists, among them two newspaper editors, who were publicizing the planned demonstration in downtown Yerevan. They were released the next morning after four-hour negotiations between Ter-Petrosian and senior police officers. The activists had decided to take to the streets after none of Armenia’s leading TV stations loyal to Kocharian agreed to broadcast paid rally advertisements.

11/19/07

Seattlepi.com: SPAIN - 'Shut up'Chavez is hit ringtone in Spain - by Mar Roman

King Juan Carlos of Spain


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SPAIN - 'Shut up'Chavez is hit ringtone in Spain - by Mar Roman

Many Spaniards were so amused when their king told Venezuela's president to "shut up" they want to hear the words every time their phone rings. About half a million people have downloaded a mobile phone ringtone featuring the phrase "Por que no te callas?" or "Why don't you shut up?" leading Madrid daily El Pais reported on its Web site Monday. That's what King Juan Carlos told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a heated confrontation at a summit in Chile last week. The ringtone is thought to have generated around $2.2 million for the companies selling it, El Pais said.