Advertise On EU-Digest

ADVERTISE ON EU-DIGEST - Please include your URL/Logo information with payment.

1/31/08

Guardian: European Consumers hunker down in 2008 - Sumeet Desai

For the complete report from the Guardian click on this link

European consumers hunker down in 2008 - by Sumeet Desai

Consumers across Europe are starting to think twice about spending money as confidence over the economic outlook crumbles in the face of the continued ructions in world financial markets. The French consumer mood soured to an all-time low in January, according to an official survey on Tuesday, as households struggled to pay higher bills for food, heating and lodging. And those results were taken even before Societe Generale, France's second-largest bank, admitted to suffering the biggest rogue trading fraud in history -- 4.9 billion euros. More than three quarters of the French population now think the crisis in markets -- European stocks are down more than 10 percent in the last month alone -- will have a significant impact on the economy. Nearly 70 percent say it will crimp their lifestyle, a newspaper poll showed on Tuesday.

DW: Europe, US Accused of Undermining Human Rights

For the complete report from the Deutsche Welle click on this link

Europe, US Accused of Undermining Human Rights

In a report released on Thursday, Jan. 31, Human Rights Watch chastised Europe and the US for tolerating unjust elections this past year in places including Russia, Jordan and Nigeria. "By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats without demanding they uphold the civil and political rights that make democracy meaningful, the United States, the European Union and other influential democracies risk undermining human rights worldwide," the New York-based rights group said in its annual report. Fair elections are not the only essential component to democracy, said HRW, adding that a free press, freedom of assembly and free speech are also crucial.

The European Union's stance on Russia received special condemnation from the human right's group, which said the 27-member bloc put political ties with an important energy supplier ahead of a responsibility to address Moscow's human rights' record.

Earthtimes: Slovak opposition mars speedy EU treaty ratification

For the complete report from Earthtimes.org click on this link

Slovak opposition mars speedy EU treaty ratification

The Slovak parliamentary opposition delayed Wednesday the planned ratification of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty because of a dispute over the country's controversial draft press law, TA3 news channel reported. The centre-right opposition walked out from the chamber before the vote, as the centre-left ruling coalition would not agree to making changes to the draft press law. The 85 present coalition lawmakers were thus five votes short, as a majority of 90 in the 150-seat house is required to ratify the treaty, which was laboriously negotiated to streamline decision- making in the enlarged EU. The coalition lawmakers in the end decided to postpone the vote to Thursday evening. Prime Minister Robert Fico lambasted the opposition, saying that only "a sick political mind" would use the ratification to "blackmail" the government.

Bloomberg.com: Tamiflu May Be Less Effective Against Flu in Europe

For the complete report from Bloomberg.com click on this link

Tamiflu May Be Less Effective Against Flu in Europe

Roche Holding AG's Tamiflu may be losing potency against seasonal influenza in Europe after tests showed resistance to the drug in more than one of 10 samples. Tests on 148 virus specimens from patients with the H1N1 flu strain in 10 European countries found 19 that harbored resistance to the pill, most of them in Norway, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said today. The results show viruses capable of evading Tamiflu, also known as oseltamivir, may be spreading. Some resistant viruses were also found in the U.S., leading doctors to consider GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Relenza and other treatments for a disease the World Health Organization estimates causes 250,000 to 500,000 deaths globally each year.

CEP - UK Risks Recession Within 'Two Years'; the EU Britains largest export market will remain strong, says Deloitte Report

For the complete report from CEP click on this link

UK Risks Recession Within 'Two Years'; the EU Britains largest export market will remain strong, says Deloitte Report

The UK economy could go into a recession within two years according to research conducted by Global Financial and tax advising firm Deloitte. In its economic review, Deloitte said the UK’s housing market would be at the heart of the downturn, with prices falling by about 5% over 2008, followed by 8% in 2009 with the credit squeeze compounding woes as borrowing becomes increasingly difficult. Deloitte expects U.S. growth to slow to zero over the first half of this year. The European economy, the UK's largest export market, will remain relatively strong, but not strong enough to offset a US slowdown. Exports to India and China are also unlikely to alter the UK’s position, as the two countries buy less than 5% of the country’s exports. Deloitte forecasts the UK economy to grow by 2% over 2008 followed by a slightly smaller margin the following year. However, Roger Bootle, economic adviser at Deloitte, thinks moderately benign inflation could help prevent a recession as it will give the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee enough room to cut interest rates. “We forecast that the UK base rate will fall to 4.00% in 2009 from 5.50% at present,” he said. The UK economy could go into a recession within two years according to research conducted by Global Financial and tax advising firm Deloitte. In its economic review, Deloitte said the UK’s housing market would be at the heart of the downturn, with prices falling by about 5% over 2008, followed by 8% in 2009 with the credit squeeze compounding woes as borrowing becomes increasingly difficult. Deloitte expects U.S. growth to slow to zero over the first half of this year. The European economy, the UK's largest export market, will remain relatively strong, but not strong enough to offset a US slowdown. Exports to India and China are also unlikely to alter the UK’s position, as the two countries buy less than 5% of the country’s exports. Deloitte forecasts the UK economy to grow by 2% over 2008 followed by a slightly smaller margin the following year. However, Roger Bootle, economic adviser at Deloitte, thinks moderately benign inflation could help prevent a recession as it will give the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee enough room to cut interest rates. “We forecast that the UK base rate will fall to 4.00% in 2009 from 5.50% at present,” he said.

1/30/08

The Arkansas Traveler: Iraq - Troop surge in Iraq not successful, historian said - "US replaced Sadam by 50 new Sadams" - by Cole Bockenfeld

For the complete report from the Arkansas Traveler click on this link

Iraq - Troop surge in Iraq not successful, historian said - "US replaced Sadam by 50 new Sadams: - by Cole Bockenfeld

The troop surge in Iraq is not nearly as successful as the media portrays it to be, a Middle East historian said in a lecture Monday in Giffels Auditorium. In "The Iraq Surge One Year On," Chris Toensing, editor of the Middle East Report, disputed assertions by neo - conservatives in the media concerning the "apparent success of the surge." He said the war in Iraq is far from over. The claims of success are correctly based on two figures - the decrease in the number of violent deaths in Iraq and the increase in Sunnis cooperating with American forces to fight al-Qaida, he said. Although American and Iraqi casualties have decreased by about half from a year ago, Toensing said the number of violent attacks is still high, and the current number of 500 civilian deaths a month is very violent by any standard.

The second factor - that Sunni Arabs are turning against al-Qaida fighters - is a phenomenon that began before the surge of American troops. The "Anbar Awakening" and other similar movements have about 72,000 "armed, concerned local citizens," Toensing said. The U.S. military is paying about 60,000 of them $300 per month, in addition to arming and training them to fight, he said. The "awakenings" of Sunni leaders allying with the U.S. has a strong "mercenary" aspect to it, Toensing said. Tribal bands are helping quell violence in their areas, but are setting up independent fiefdoms to take over the lucrative black market, which is being used to finance al-Qaida attacks, he said. There has been a localization of politics, and many Iraqis feel the U.S. invaded to replace one Saddam with 50 Saddams - ruthless local leaders that often act independently of the central government,

Xinhua: Over 40 planes to join Russian naval exercise in Atlantic

Fo the complete report from the Xinhua click on this link

Over 40 planes to join Russian naval exercise in Atlantic

Over 40 aircraft of the Russian Air Force, including strategic missile carriers, will take part in the second phase maneuvers of the Russian naval task force now under way in the Atlantic Ocean, Itar-Tass news agency reported Monday. "More than 40 aircraft will take part in the final phase of the maneuvers, which is to last from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2," said Itar-Tass, citing Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky, chief of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Russian Air Force. Drobyshevsky said that the aircraft include strategic missile carriers Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3, fighters MiG-31 and Su-27, and also Il-78 tanker planes and A-50 airborne warning and control planes.The three-day operation, conducted by ships of the Northern and Black Sea fleets, is the Russian navy's first large-scale Atlantic drill in 15 years. The flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva cruiser, joined naval warships in the Mediterranean on Jan. 18 to participate in the maneuvers.

Arab News: Saudi Arabia Kingdom to Take Delivery of Eurofighters Next Year - by by Raid Qusti

the spectacular eurofighter


For the Arab News click on this link

Saudi Arabia Kingdom to Take Delivery of Eurofighters Next Year - by by Raid Qusti

Saudi Arabia will receive 72 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft next year, said Deputy Minister of Defense and Aviation for Military Affairs Prince Khaled ibn Sultan. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine multipurpose canard-delta strike fighter aircraft. The aircraft is used by the German Luftwaffe, the Italian Air Force, the Spanish Air Force and the UK’s Royal Air Force. It is built in Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain by a consortium involving BAE (BAE Systems), EADS (The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) and Finmeccanica. The euro 5.93 billion ($8.86 billion) agreement was signed by the government of Saudi Arabia and Britain on Sept. 11 last year.

TimesOnline: What would a Swiss banker want for his birthday? - by Tom Bawden

For the complete report from the Times Online please click on this link

What would a Swiss banker want for his birthday? - by Tom Bawden

The chairman of UBS is not Mr Popular in Switzerland. Apart from being tarnished with the Swiss bank's sub-prime related writedowns, the largest in Europe, his hefty pay package has also raised eyebrows. Blick, the Swiss daily tabloid newspaper, ran a front page story in 2006 on Mr Ospel's remuneration, reportedly SwFr26 million (£12 million), making him the highest-paid executive in Switzerland. A chain-smoker who is known for his taste for high living, Mr Ospel has removed most of UBS's top management since the sub-prime debacle erupted.

Globe and Mail: Europe's Enron moment has arrived - by Doug Saunders

For the complete rport from the Globe and Mail click on this link

Europe's Enron moment has arrived - by Doug Saunders

As Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown met for dinner in London last night, there was a distinct sense that both leaders were having an Enron moment: The sudden realization that the country's most-respected industries are going to need more government oversight. Both the French President and the British Prime Minister, who met to discuss the rattling economy and banking crises in an emergency summit with other European leaders, have discovered that their governments will need to take an active role - either in regulation or bailouts, or both - after recent disasters that have afflicted some major financial institutions.The Labour Prime Minister will certainly agree with Mr. Sarkozy about the need for more regulation, more supervision and a more active role for international agencies in keeping balance sheets clean.So far, so typical: Britain is sticking to its hands-off, ask-no-questions approach to industry, allowing mergers to occur as they may and paying no interest in the nationality of a company's investors. That hands-off approach, in contrast with the American post-Enron mood of regulation, has helped make London the world's main financial centre. And France appears to be pursuing a state-heavy, managed approach based on economic nationalism and expensive protection of venerable national institutions, a tactic that has kept its large companies in French hands.

But beneath the surface, seismic shifts are visible in the approaches taken by both countries. The financial meltdown of 2008 may well be remembered as the turning point for Britain and France, when both countries began to switch places.

IPS: Sex, Lies and Suicides - the New Greek Tragedy - by Apostolis Fotiadis

EUROPE: Sex, Lies and Suicides - the New Greek Tragedy - by Apostolis Fotiadis

On Dec. 20, three days after his resignation as secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Christos Zahopoulos jumped from the fourth floor of his flat in Athens city centre. He has partly recovered but is going to face serious long-term health problems. The following day, Giannis Andrianos, press officer for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, handed judicial authorities a DVD showing Zahopoulos engaging in intercourse with an ex-employee of the ministry. He claimed the DVD was given to him by a journalist. The material suggested that Zahopoulos attempted suicide because he was being blackmailed by Tsekou, who wanted permanent employment in the ministry. The ministry employs thousands of workers on seasonally updated contracts for long periods; as a result they face continuing insecurity about their employment status.It is still unclear who brought the DVD to the press officer of the PM, and for what purpose. But the situation has exposed an all-out war among big media tycoons connected to shadowy interests attached to political power. This has led to widespread expression of disenchantment with political life in the country. The government's handling of the case is particularly damaging Prime Minister Karamanlis who had made Zahopoulos, an old friend, his personal choice for the post. Karamanlis's New Democracy (ND) party has sought to present Karamanlis as a leader determined to fight corruption and to revive political ethics.

Jeruzalem Post: Bringing sex out of the shadows - by David Brinn

For the complete report from the Jerusalem Post click on this link

Bringing sex out of the shadows - by David Brinn

Don't try comparing Nitzan Kirshenbaum with America's famous sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Kirshenbaum is a vivacious Tel Aviv-area former model and mother of two, and Dr. Ruth is, well, Dr. Ruth."In comparison to Europeans, I think that Israeli society is relatively closed when it comes to sex. In Europe, the issue is out in the open, there are expos like this all the time, and sex isn't hidden behind unmarked doors," she said. "In the US, it seems like there's a double standard. Adult material is available everywhere, but you would hardly ever see a women go topless on the beach. But as a whole, sex is more hinted at in the US than in Europe." "In Israel, it's sort of divided. In Gush Dan, there's a feeling of more openness regarding sex than in the periphery. I suppose that is mostly due to the religious modesty that's more prevalent in the rest of the country."

DW: Kosovo Independence "Within Days" of Serb Election, Says Thaci

For the complete report from the DW click on this link

Kosovo Independence "Within Days" of Serb Election, Says Thaci

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci announced Wednesday, Jan. 30 that the Serbian province will declare its independence within days of this weekend's Serbian presidential elections, regardless of who wins the vote. "The developments in Serbia do not have any influence on Kosovo," Thaci, the leader of the ethnic Albanian majority in the breakaway Serbian province, told journalists after meeting with senior police officials. "The independence of Kosovo will happen in the next few days, regardless if Tadic or Nikolic wins." Reuters news agency reported Wednesday, quoting unnamed sources, that Kosovo would declare independence after the Serbian presidential election on Feb. 3 if the nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic wins.

1/29/08

EU-Digest down for maintenance.

EU-Digest maintenance

EU-Digest down for maintenance.

In order to carry out maintenance services and upgrade the quality of EU-Digest we did not publish EU-Digest yesterday. These improvements also included a review and improvements of our link updates. We are sorry if this has caused any inconvenience.

The Moscow Times: Successful Start to Ukraine's New Government - by Anders Aslund

For the complete report from the Moscow Times click on this link

Successful Start to Ukraine's New Government - by Anders Aslund

After Ukraine's extraordinary parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, it took no less than 2 1/2 months to form a government, and it was confirmed by the slightest of parliamentary margins. The new coalition government headed by Yulia Tymoshenko, however, has started ambitiously and auspiciously. The Ukrainian economy is in good shape with a growth rate of 7.3 percent last year. The stock market surged by no less than 120 percent last year, and it has barely fallen during the January turmoil. The new government's biggest achievement is to make Ukraine ready to join the World Trade Organization at a February 5 meeting of the WTO General Council. One month after the parliament ratifies the accession, Ukraine will become a full-fledged member of the WTO. This could boost the country's growth by one percentage point a year.

Market Watch: US elections - McCain, Clinton win Florida primaries - by Robert Schroeder

For the complete report from MarketWatch click on this link

US elections - McCain, Clinton win Florida primaries - by Robert Schroeder

John McCain of Arizona won a closely fought battle with Mitt Romney to win Florida's Republican primary Tuesday night, propelling his candidacy mightily forward to the 24-state Super Tuesday contest on Feb. 5. On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton handily defeated rival Sen. Barack Obama in an expected win. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani placed a disappointing third in Florida's Republican race after staking much of his run for the nomination on the Sunshine State.

Note EU-Digest: this result shows that both the Republican and the Democratic political parties have choosing for a more liberal leadership with its choice of Hillary Clinton and John McCain in Florida.

Forbes.com: Barroso says EU not immune to US downturn, but not facing recession

For the complete report from Forbes.com click on this link

Barroso says EU not immune to US downturn, but not facing recession

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU's economy 'is not completely immune' to any downturn in the US, but it is not facing a recession. Speaking at a conference ahead of this afternoon's meeting of Europe's G8 members in London, Barroso reiterated that the European Commission is set to lower its euro zone growth projections next month in its next set of economic forecasts. He conceded that 'yes there is turbulence in the financial markets' and that investor confidence has been hit but insisted that in Europe 'there is no need to rush for the life boats'.

The Guardian; EU leaders order banks to tighten regulatory regime - by # Will Woodward, Patrick Wintour and Ian Traynor

For the complete report from The Guardian click on this link

EU leaders order banks to tighten regulatory regime - by Will Woodward, Patrick Wintour and Ian Traynor

A meeting of EU leaders chaired by Gordon Brown in London last night warned banks and other financial institutions to reform in order to retain confidence in free markets and avert any prospect of the return of protectionism. In Brown's first big European initiative since becoming prime minister, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, German chancellor Angela Merkel, acting Italian prime minister Romano Prodi and EU president José Manuel Barroso joined him for talks in Downing Street to demand increased transparency and regulation in the face of the global credit crunch. In a short, good-natured press conference held between talks and dinner at the Foreign Office, the leaders voiced similar opinions. "There is nothing fatalistic about what is happening now," Sarkozy told reporters in more direct language than the other leaders.

1/28/08

Guardian: ECB's Tumpel-Gugerell sees EU economy in good shape

For the complete report from the Guardian click on this link

ECB's Tumpel-Gugerell sees EU economy in good shape

The European economy is in "good condition" but there has been a pickup in prices and inflation must be kept in check, a European Central Bank official was quoted as saying on Friday. ECB Executive Board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell was asked by Austrian newspaper der Standard why the ECB was just "looking on" when stock markets had plunged in recent days and the U.S. Federal Reserve had cut interest rates to ward off a potential recession In response, she said: "What's important is confidence in the economy," according to an interview published on the paper's Web site on Friday. "I see the European economy in good condition." Asked by the paper what she thought of a recent acceleration in inflation, the Austrian said: "There is a cost push; we must ensure that this doesn't roll on further. Our main task is to ensure price stability. All in all, I see a slowdown in growth today, but no dramatic change."

The Economic Times: Denmark grants asylum to 370 Iraqis

For the complete report from The Economic Times click on this link

Denmark grants asylum to 370 Iraqis

Denmark has granted asylum to nearly 370 Iraqi civilians who were spirited out of their homeland in a resettlement program for interpreters and others who worked for Danish troops in Iraq, immigration officials said Monday. None of the 376 asylum claims filed by Iraqi aides and their dependents has been rejected, Danish Immigration Service spokesman Morten Bo Laursen told The Associated Press.

Helsingin Sanomat - Most illegal drugs used in Finland pass through Helsinki region

For the complete report from the Helsingin Sanomat click on this link

Most illegal drugs used in Finland pass through Helsinki region

Most of the illegal drugs sold in Finland pass through the Helsinki region en route to other parts of the country. According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), drugs move in smaller quantities to other parts of Finland from wholesale suppliers in the Helsinki area. "Almost every larger drug case has linkages with the Helsinki region", says special investigator Tuija Hietaniemi of the NBI. Finland is a target country in the international drugs trade. The most common route to Finland for drugs goes through Estonia. Police estimate that at leat 90 per cent of the amphetamine on sale on the Finnish market comes from Estonia or passes through the country.

Bianet :Kurdologist van Bruinessen says: "Turks and Kurds Must Trust Each Other - by Nilüfer ZENGIN

For the complete report from Bianet click on this link

Kurdologist van Bruinessen says: "Turks and Kurds Must Trust Each Other - by Nilüfer ZENGIN

“In the history of the Republic of Turkey, Kurds have never been able to be Kurds with their cultural identities. They were always officially Turks, but there was still always a feeling that ‘they are Kurds, they cannot be trusted.’” Prof. Dr. Martin van Bruinessen is a sociology lecturer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Yogyakarta University in Indonesia. In a conversation with bianet, he discussed possible solutions to the Kurdish issue and the approach of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).Middle class Kurds are happy about the AKP’s investment initiatives in the Southeast. The AKP takes this middle class into consideration, but the poor Kurdish class still remains poor. On the other hand, the AKP is inclined to recognise Kurdish cultural rights, it approaches the issue from a perspective of ‘Muslim brotherhood.’ However, there is also pressure from the public. If they were a Kemalist party, it would be different, but the AKP accepts the Kurds because they are Sunni Muslims. There could for instance easily be Kurdish religious broadcasts on television. However, autonomy is difficult, as the AKP does not look on such a project favourably.

EU-Digest: US Financial woes - The World's Financial System Needs a Drastic Overhaul

A EU-Digest report on the world-wide financial crises

US Financial woes - The World's Financial System Needs a Drastic Overhaul

The basic economic objective of any country should be to guarantee sufficient individual income to everyone. Governments should not need to be worried about, or cave in to the wishes of the stock markets. Stock markets, lets face it, are very similar to gambling casino's. They fuel on speculative games focusing on hedge, equity, and a variety of other funds. Of these, the so-called hedge funds are probably the most dangerous to any economy, because they are unregulated and account for more than one third of all stock trades. The hedge funds in the US represent approximately $2.5 trillion in assets and they pay their managers exorbitant salaries. The problem is that the debt-laden US economy with a manufacturing base which is mainly outsourced, is no longer capable of providing its population with a adequate living standard which utilizes its own productive resources. Cutting interest rates also increases the danger of inflation. The reasoning used by President Bush to promote his permanent tax cuts, tax relief and the financial deregulation for corporations and the wealthy is that these benefits will eventually trickle down to the general public and make the economy healthy again. As one would say, "Tell me another story". The actual situation is quite different. The British Guardian wrote recently, "The Fed is doing its best to give the impression that it is still in control of the US economy, but its reassurances are as hollow as that given by Herbert Hoover - on the weekend after Black Thursday in October 1929 - that the fundamentals of the economy were sound. If anybody is running economic policy, it is the big banks and investment houses on Wall Street. The World's economic system needs a drastic overhaul.

The control over the economic wellbeing of the world needs to be taken out of the hands of the private banking system and investment houses and returned to transparent democratically elected governments. This might appear to be a revolutionary solution, but it really means moving away from the idea of jobs to that of income. A world economy which is not burdened by interest bearing debt can provide a good income to just about anyone on the planet. Unfortunately the actions undertaken by the US Fed can only increase the problems. Instead he should have proposed; the regulation of the financial industry, a return to the gold standard; a general amnesty of all personal debt for anyone earning less than $50.000; a total ban on unsecured personal credit; a national productivity fund in which every corporation puts a percentage of their pre-tax profits to provide a minimum income for the most needy; a universal health care program; and moving 60% of the military budget to education, research and development, including alternative energy resource development. Regardless of what the doom sayers, industry or financial establishment will say, this new approach would shift the present economic emphasis from a financier-banking controlled system to an economic democracy which will enable to energize the world economy through the forces of innovation, natural wealth and indigenous resources. Time is running out and pumping more money into the financial system won't work.

BBC NEWS: Serbia invited to sign EU accord

BBC NEWSSerbia invited to sign EU accord

European Union nations have agreed to ask Serbia to sign a political deal days after the presidential election. The political framework agreement offers Belgrade closer trade relations and relaxed visa requirements. EU ministers were keen to give Serbia a positive message before Sunday's election but could not agree to a full pre-membership accord with Serbia. The Dutch government said that should wait until Serbia handed over war crimes suspects to The Hague tribunal. Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic is among those indicted on genocide charges.

Note EU-Digest: the EU should not be making any deal with Serbia until they hand over the war criminals or show some evidence that they are actively pursuing their capture. Up to now Serbia has acted in a defiant manner, which does not give any confidence as to their sincerity in this matter.

1/27/08

YNNet: Europe-wide terror plot thwarted

For the complete report from Ynetnews click on this link

Europe-wide terror plot thwarted

According to the testimony of a police informant, the 14-member terror cell affiliated with al-Qaeda planned to strike cities in Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, and Britain. The police source said the suspects focused their attention on public transportation targets, including subways, in various cities across Europe.Security officials in Barcelona estimated that the terror attack was scheduled to be carried out in the next two weeks. According to the report, other cell members were tasked with similar missions in other European cities based on the same modus operandi.

Swissinfo.ch. Germany's Merkel dealt setback in state vote - by Madeleine Chambers

For the complete report from swissinfo click on this link

Germany's Merkel dealt setback in state vote - by Madeleine Chambers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered heavy losses in an election in the western state of Hesse on Sunday, dealing her a blow ahead of next year's national vote. Long-time Hesse Premier and Merkel ally Roland Koch had run a bitterly divisive campaign advocating crackdowns on foreign criminals which was backed by the chancellor but ultimately backfired. His Christian Democrats (CDU) took 36.6 percent of the vote, down sharply from the 49 percent they scored in the last Hesse election in 2003, and a shade behind the rival Social Democrats (SPD) at 36.9 percent, preliminary results showed

Independent.ie: No shelter from the American storm - by Louise McBride

Forthe complete report from the Independent.ie click on this link

No shelter from the American storm - by Louise McBride

The $300bn wiped off European stock markets last Monday was sparked by fears of a recession in the US. To inject some confidence into the markets, the US Federal Reserve -- essentially, the US Central Bank -- cut its interest rate by .75 per cent. This -- the biggest single Fed cut in over 20 years -- was a clear signal that the US economy is in trouble. So is the US heading for a recession, and if it is, what could be the fallout for Ireland?

Chistian Science Monitor: US Elections - After South Carolina: Can Obama capture a wider swath of voters? - by Ariel Sabar

For the complete report from the csmonitor.com click on this link

US elections - After South Carolina: Can Obama capture a wider swath of voters? - by Ariel Sabar

With his victory in the South Carolina primary Saturday, Sen. Barack Obama offered convincing proof of his ability to appeal to black voters. But to stay on course for the Democratic nomination when 22 states vote on Feb. 5, analysts say, Senator Obama will need to reach farther and wider. African-Americans are a big part of the Democratic vote in Georgia, Alabama, and a few other Super Tuesday states. But experts say Obama's fortunes on Feb. 5 will hinge on the groups of voters responsible for his only other win, in Iowa: independents, college students, and well-educated and affluent whites.

1/26/08

The Times of India: Sarkozy: Low on dignity, high on humanity- by Shashi Tharoor

For the complete report from The Times of India click on this link

Sarkozy: Low on dignity, high on humanity-by Shashi Tharoor

It is curious that even in the Indian media, the build-up to the visit this week of France's president Nicolas Sarkozy focused quite so obsessively on his personal life. Had he secretly married the Franco-Italian model-singer Carla Bruni? Was he going to bring her to New Delhi as First Lady? Sarkozy has humanized his office by televising his presidential and personal life; instead of adapting himself to the presidency, he has adapted the presidency to himself, individualizing his political power in an increasingly individualist society. The proliferation of media in the 21st century has made voyeurs out of every citizen. Sarkozy is the first major office-holder to realise this, and to cater to it for his political purposes.

Bloomberg.com: SERBIA Dutch to Block Serbia's Bid for EU Trade Pact, Balkenende Says - by Chris Burns and James G. Neuger

Bloomberg.com: Europe

Serbia - Dutch to Block Serbia's Bid for EU Trade Pact, Balkenende Says - by Chris Burns and James G. Neuger

The Netherlands will block Serbia's appeal for a faster route to European Union membership due to the Belgrade government's failure to round up war criminals from the 1990s, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said. Balkenende said the Dutch government will prevent the EU from signing a trade agreement with Serbia on Jan. 28 and dismissed concern that the snub would strengthen an anti-EU candidate in Serbia's presidential election next weekend. ``The essential issue is that a state must not be willing to protect war criminals,'' Balkenende said in a Bloomberg Television interview late yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Most EU governments plan to grant diplomatic recognition to Kosovo after it declares independence in February, and the EU plans to send teams of police and judges to take over the management of the province of 2 million from the UN.

Note EU-Digest: Mr. Balkenende is totally correct in the statement he made. The EU must not embrace countries which protect war criminals.

AFP: Sweden blocks EU plans to stop court 'shopping' for divorces

For the complete report from AFP click on this link

Sweden blocks EU plans to stop court 'shopping' for divorces

Sweden blocked Saturday European Union plans to stop divorcing couples from fighting over which EU court to legally settle their separation in. EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said it was "mainly Sweden opposing" the move, out of concern that the laws of other nations would not provide the same protection to the most vulnerable partners in a divorce. Divorces between couples from different EU countries make up about 20 percent of all divorces in the bloc. At the moment, the first member of a couple to act can choose which court will handle the case.

The Messenger - Sex trade in Europe: Europe’s fight against trafficking in human beings, a new form of slavery - by Terry Davis

For the complete report from The Messenger click on this link

Sex Trade in Europe: Europe’s fight against trafficking in human beings, a new form of slavery - by Terry Davis

Europe may well have abolished slavery 200 years ago, but it has not yet been stamped out. Across Europe criminal gangs are getting rich through the trade in human beings—and many governments are not doing enough to stop it. Trafficking in human beings is not the most discreet form of crime. Its victims can be found every evening on the banks of a canal near the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, and in other cities in Georgia and across Europe. The heavy make-up does nothing to conceal their anguish and despair. Occasionally, they are rounded up by the police and deported to their countries of origin. In most cases, they will be forced back into slavery in some other corner of Europe before the ink of the signatures on their deportation orders has had time to dry. Regrettably, criminals always seem to be one step ahead. While the traffickers are getting rich, the trafficked are paying the price.

To put an end to this frustrating and shameful state of affairs, the Council of Europe produced a groundbreaking new Convention in 2005 to strengthen international co-operation, prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, help the victims and create a monitoring mechanism to ensure that governments comply with what they have signed. The Convention will enter into force on 1 February and have immediate legal effect in the first ten countries to ratify it: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, France and Norway, which have ratified it in January, it will enter into force on 1 May.

The Prague Post Online Sex Trade in the EU - Human trafficking campaign ends in Czech Republic - by Kimberly Ashton

For the complete report from the Prague Post Online click on this link

Sex Trade in the EU - Human trafficking campaign ends in Czech Republic by Kimberly Ashton

The Czech Republic has long been a destination for sex tourists from the West. Brothels line the road in some border towns and hordes of stag partygoers have filed through Prague’s numerous sex clubs.
Now a nonprofit group has teamed with the government to expose a side of the industry some customers would rather not think about — or don’t know about — and to seek help from them. “The customer might be for the victim of human trafficking the only connecting link to the outside world and the only person who can primarily help her,” said Kristina Klepková of the nonprofit group International Organization for Migration (IOM). Klepková led a three-month program, called Together Against Human Trafficking, which ended last week, to raise awareness of sex slavery in the Czech Republic.

DW: Russia, Serbia Close Ranks as EU Mulls Next Move

For the complete report from the Deutsche Welle click on this link

Russia, Serbia Close Ranks as EU Mulls Next Move

In the presence of Tadic and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia's state-controlled oil concern Gazprom and Serbia's NIS signed an agreement granting Gazprom control of 51 percent of the Serbian company for 400 million euros ($586 million). On Thursday, the current holder of the EU presidency, Slovenia, said the bloc hoped to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia on closer integration "in the coming days." But an SAA could be delayed as the Netherlands and Belgium are blocking such a step until alleged Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic is handed over to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

1/25/08

Online Journal: Has the US defrauded the world’s economies? - by Ben Tanosborn

For the complete report from the Online Journal click on this link

Has the US defrauded the world’s economies? - by Ben Tanosborn

America, the should-be creditor nation par excellence, has become instead a parasite to the savings of the world, becoming the largest debtor nation in the planet with only two possibilities left: one, allowing America’s creditors to liquidate the paper for hard assets, permitting once-proud Americans to become vassals to foreign capital; or two, change America’s consumption habits . . . and learn to live within our means. The precarious economic fix does not seem to be understood by most economists, and even the elite in the profession make questionable statements which seem out of the ballpark. Like Paul Krugman, whose judgment I usually respect, asserting how complex the US economy is, when the adjective should have been deceptive. Weren’t derivatives supposed to have disappeared after the dot-com fiasco? Instead, additional crooked financial instruments were allowed to debut without proper scrutiny by a hands-off government happy to see capitalism run amok in predatory ways to once again redistribute wealth from middle-class to rich. Not complex, Dr. Krugman, just deceptive! And all the while, those in the trade-brotherhood of economics in solemn silence!

Perhaps Arnold Sommerfeld, the German physicist, had it right, if this attribution to him is correct: “Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it, you don’t understand it at all. The second time you go through it, you think you understand it, except for one or two small points. The third time you go through it, you know you don’t understand it, but by that time you are so used to it, it doesn’t bother you any more.” Substitute thermodynamics with economics and you may understand what most economists are all about.

Economist.com: Spain: Zapatero's bear fight

For the complete report from the Economist.com click on this link

Spain: Zapatero's bear fight

The surprise ingredient in the Spanish election of March 2004 was the Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 commuters just three days before the vote. Thanks to the clumsiness of the outgoing People's Party (PP) government, which tried to blame Basque terrorists, not Islamist radicals, the bombs provoked an unexpected change. What had looked like a PP shoo-in turned into a Socialist bounce-back, handing victory to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, now Spain's prime minister. Four years on, Mr Zapatero is seeking re-election. This time, too, a surprise ingredient has arrived ahead of the March 9th poll. But, despite the recent arrest in Barcelona of 14 Muslim immigrants suspected of planning fresh attacks, it has nothing to do with Islam. After four years in which Spain's politicians have argued bitterly about almost everything else, the new ingredient is the economy.

Few would have predicted this even six months ago. An economy growing at a healthy lick of 3.8% seemed to be one of the strongest of Mr Zapatero's weapons. But since then Spain's housing bubble has burst and inflation has risen. Global financial turmoil now threatens to turn a hoped-for soft landing into something much harder.

BBC NEWS: EU far-right groups to form party

For the complete report from the BBC NEWS click on this link

EU far-right groups to form party

Far-right political leaders from four EU nations have unveiled plans to form a pan-European "patriotic" party. The heads of far-right parties from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and France said their aim was to defend Europe against "Islamisation" and immigrants. At a news conference in Vienna, they said they expected to launch the party by 15 November.

DW: German Business Confidence Defies Fears of Slowdown - order books are bursting

For the complete report from the Deutsche Welle click on this link

German Business Confidence Defies Fears of Slowdown - order books are bursting

German business confidence recorded a surprise increase in January, a key survey showed, amid hopes that Europe's biggest economy will withstand a US slowdown and world share market turbulence. The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said its monthly index of 7,000 German executives edged up from 103 points in December to 103.4 points this month, beating analysts' forecasts. The rise in what is one of Europe's major economic indicators came despite this week's torrid round of trading on global stock markets which fueled fears of a global economic crisis.

"Companies'order books are bursting," Ifo economist Hans Günter Russ told German news agency, dpa. Firms "remain optimistic about their exports," he added. Note EU-Digest: Suggestions for the ECB to follow US rate cuts to help ailing companies who are in trouble because of their own poor judgment would be pure madness and only increase the chance of further increases in European inflation.

NYT: Waving Goodbye to Hegemony - by PARAG KHANNA

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

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony - by PARAG KHANNA

Turn on the TV today, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s 1999. Democrats and Republicans are bickering about where and how to intervene, whether to do it alone or with allies and what kind of world America should lead. Democrats believe they can hit a reset button, and Republicans believe muscular moralism is the way to go. It’s as if the first decade of the 21st century didn’t happen — and almost as if history itself doesn’t happen. But the distribution of power in the world has fundamentally altered over the two presidential terms of George W. Bush, both because of his policies and, more significant, despite them. Maybe the best way to understand how quickly history happens is to look just a bit ahead.

In Europe’s capital, Brussels, technocrats, strategists and legislators increasingly see their role as being the global balancer between America and China. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a German member of the European Parliament, calls it “European patriotism.” The Europeans play both sides, and if they do it well, they profit handsomely. It’s a trend that will outlast both President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the self-described “friend of America,” and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, regardless of her visiting the Crawford ranch. It may comfort American conservatives to point out that Europe still lacks a common army; the only problem is that it doesn’t really need one. Europeans use intelligence and the police to apprehend radical Islamists, social policy to try to integrate restive Muslim populations and economic strength to incorporate the former Soviet Union and gradually subdue Russia. Each year European investment in Turkey grows as well, binding it closer to the E.U. even if it never becomes a member. And each year a new pipeline route opens transporting oil and gas from Libya, Algeria or Azerbaijan to Europe. What other superpower grows by an average of one country per year, with others waiting in line and begging to join?

Guardian: Iraq: Democrats demand veto power for US-Iraq proposal - by Elana Schor

For the complete report from the Guardian Unlimited click on this link

Democrats demand veto power for US-Iraq proposal - by Elana Schor

Democrats in Congress opened a new front today in their battle to extricate the US from Iraq, pressing for veto power over a long-term security pact that the Bush administration is planning with Baghdad. Under early terms of the pact that were agreed to by the two nations last fall, the US military is bound to help protect the Baghdad government for the foreseeable future. Alarmed at the prospect of George Bush locking the US armed forces into defending Iraq even when America does not perceive a threat, Democrats responded by pushing for congressional oversight of the agreement.

US Democrats Abroad: Launch of Presidential Global Primary

For the complete report from the US Democrats Abroad Netherlands click on this link

Launch of Presidential Global Primary

On Tuesday February 5, American Democrats living in The Netherlands can vote for the first time online in the Super Tuesday Global Presidential Primary. The worldwide primary for expats will send 22 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August. Organized by Democrats Abroad Netherlands (DANL), the Dutch electronic voting booth will be open from 5 PM to 9 PM on February 5 at De Balie near the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. Members of DANL can vote and non-members can join, register and cast their votes. A program of guest speakers will begin at 6 PM, including Ruth Oldenziel and Willem Post (historians – American politics), Paul Scheffer (Prof. UvA), and Russell Shorto (dir. John Adams Institute). Greg Shapiro (stand-up comedian, Boom Chicago) will contribute political satire. There will be live music and a bookshop, and the Balie Café will be open for drinks and snacks. Entrance is free.

1/24/08

The Independent: Hungarian born World Renowned Financial Expert Soros warns 'systemic failure' may be upon us - by Sean O'Grady

For the complete report from the Independent.co.uk click on this link

Hungarian born World Renowned Financial ExpertSoros warns 'systemic failure' may be upon us - by Sean O'Grady

This is not a normal crisis", said George Soros, the doyen of international finance, the man who made billions from sterling's expulsion from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992.Mr Soros offered the proceedings a deep historical perspective. To his mind, he told participants at the World Economic Forum, we are "at the end of an era". The 60-year economic supremacy of the US and the dollar's status as the international reserve currency of choice is drawing to a close, fundamentally weakened by the shift in economic power eastwards with the rise of China.

Soros said, "What is needed now is assurance that the main market makers will not be allowed to fail. "We need a new sheriff, not Washington consensus."

AlterNet: US heading for economic disaster: How to Pull Out of a Recession: the Ethical Way, Not the Bush Way - by Mathew Rotshield

for the complete report from the AlterNet click on this link

US heading for Economic Disaster: How to Pull Out of a Recession: the Ethical Way, Not the Bush Way - by Mathew Rotshield

The ethical problem is that the top 1% has already made out like bandits. Their slice of the income pie has grown dramatically over the past few years, while the slices for almost everybody else have shrunk. The economic problem is that extending the tax cuts won't do anything in the here and now, because those cuts are already in place for the next two years. On top of that, the economic stimulus from giving the super rich some more money would be next to nothing compared with the stimulus you'd get if you gave almost everybody else some serious tax relief right now.

"The $500 billion that Bush has squandered in Iraq could have paid for 4 million new housing units, or hired 8 million new teachers. And the $2 trillion we may end up spending on this war could pay for universal health care for 12 years," Anita Dances of the National Priorities Project points out in a recent piece for the Progressive Media Project.

FT.com - Italy’s Prodi to resign after losing vote - by Guy Dinmore

For the complete report from the FT.com click on this link

Italy’s Prodi to resign after losing vote - by Guy Dinmore

Italy’s centre-left government fell on Thursday night after narrowly losing a tumultuous vote of confidence in the senate despite desperate attempts by Romano Prodi, prime minister, to prolong the life of his weakened coalition against the advice of allies. Mr Prodi intended to submit his resignation immediately to President Giorgio Napolitano, a spokesman for the prime minister said. The president may seek the formation of a caretaker government or call early elections.

Radio Netherlands: The right of young Turkish Muslims to have sex

Dutch/Turkish TV producer Senay Özdemir


For the complete report from Radio Netherlands click on this link

The right of young Turkish Muslims to have sex

Muslim parents in the Netherlands tell their daughters to stay virgin until the day of their wedding. An impossible requirement, says Senay Özdemir. It only leads to hypocrisy and disturbed family relations. Young Muslim women should have more freedom to experiment with sex before marriage.Former tv-presenter Senay Özdemir is a young Dutch woman of Turkish origin. As the editor of a digital magazine for women of immigrant background, SEN Magazine, she knows very well what is going on in the minds of young Muslimas in the Netherlands. Last week she published her view in an opinion article in the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. What many Muslim parents in the Netherlands are forgetting, writes Ms Özdemir, is that they themselves were mostly married at a young age and thus could legitimately have sex. In modern Dutch society, however, the age at which young Muslim women marry is steadily rising. The average age is now 23 years, but more educated women often do not marry before 30.

Ms Özdemir knows what she is talking about. As editor of SEN Magazine she daily receives e-mails in which young Muslim women speak freely about their love-life. "Young women of immigrant background increasingly consider oral sex as something quite normal and feel they can't refuse their boyfriends when they ask for anal sex, as that would not damage their virginity."She calls it the 'virginity paradox'. The prohibition of sex, argues Ms Özdemir, is totally ineffective. It has in fact the reverse effect that young Muslim women as well as men become obsessed by sex.

Forbes: China Airlines orders up to 20 Airbus A350 XWBs

For the complete report from Forbes.com click on this link

China Airlines orders up to 20 Airbus A350 XWBs

China Airlines, Taiwan's largest carrier, has signed a contract with Airbus to buy 14 A350-900 jets with an option for another six, Airbus said. China Airlines intends to start using the A350s from 2015. The jets will be primarily deployed on China Airlines' long-haul routes to Europe, Australia and the US, Airbus said. Airbus is part of European aerospace group EADS.

American Chronicle: Why Russia always failed in the Middle East - by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

For the complete report from the American Chronicle click on this link

Why Russia always failed in the Middle East - by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

For a country like Russia, with leading academia and famous historians, linguistics, the political failure in the Middle East becomes even stranger a phenomenon to interpret. Before and after the rise of Soviet Union, and down to our days, the Russian universities have been acknowledged for their leading scholars in all Middle East – related Humanities, all branches of Orientalism, African Studies, History of Religions and Islamology, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Ethnography, and Linguistics.The Russians never developed the diplomatic and cultural tools the French and the English employed in the case of numerous colonies, India, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Abyssinia, etc. For the Russians, expansion meant always land annexation, and totalitarian rule; they were able to apply this policy in the case of Central Asia and parts of the Transcaucasia they detached from either the Ottoman Empire or Iran. However, this approach jeopardized the Russian approach to the Middle East.

Commodity on line: Coffee: Remembrance of a brew - by Rakesh Kumar

For the complete report from Commodity on-line click on this link

Coffee: Remembrance of a brew - by Rakesh Kumar

Most of the people in India feel that Coffee, Cappuccino or even Café Mocha, is a western drink or is associated with our South Indian friends. The origin of coffee, however, is in Ethopia and it was the Arabs who used to drink this as their favourite drink. Hundreds of years ago, in the district of Kaffa in Ethiopia, farmers observed that their goats became lively and active after chewing red berries from the coffee plant. They then tried themselves and thus began the journey of coffee from Africa. Initially, it was restricted to Ethiopia but then it went to Sudan and from their to the famous Mocha port of Yemen in 15th century. The word 'Café Mocha' is derived from the port of Yemen where coffee was traded in large volumes then and even now. The western world, however, was not aware of the drink because Arab world kept the coffee secret closely and never allowed the seeds or beans to be exported or get it smuggled out of their territory. The same policy was followed by Muslim Ottoman Empire of Turks who kept a tight control over the coffee trade. In fact, the first-ever coffee house that opened up in the world was in Islam's holiest city of Mecca in 15th century before it caught the fancy of western world. By the beginning of the 16th century, the Dutch (citizens of Holland) were able to get the beans and got to know how to produce coffee.

RNW: Greece wants Turkey to re-open Istanbul seminary

For the complete report from RNW click on this link

Greece wants Turkey to re-open Istanbul seminary

Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis says he wants Turkey to re-open a Greek Orthodox seminary near Istanbul as a pre-condition for a Turkish EU membership. Mr Karamanlis is in Turkey for a three-day visit, the first such visit by a Greek government leader in 50 years. Turkey closed the seminary during the 1971 conflict over Cyprus. The Greek Orthodox Church says it cannot survive in Turkey without a seminary. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is working on a solution, but emphasised that Greece should respect the rights of its Muslim minority.

Athens News Agency: Greece on Serbia's EU prospect

For the complete report from the Athens News Agency click on this link

Greece on Serbia's EU prospect

Greece on Monday reiterated its support for "fastest possible" approach by Serbia towards the European Union, with the Greek foreign minister noting, in fact, that this is a "strategic choice" for Athens. FM Dora Bakoyannis made the statement after her meeting here with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who arrived for an official visit to the Greek capital a day after the first round of presidential elections in Serbia. A closed-door half-hour meeting between the two foreign ministers was followed with a session that included participation of delegations from both sides. "I reiterated that Greece supports Serbia's course towards European and Euro-Atlantic institutions … We believe that a European Serbia will offer its people prosperity, so they (people) can look to the future with optimism," Bakoyannis told reporters after the meeting. She also noted that the thorny issue involving the Kosovo province's final status is at a crucial juncture.

Businessweek: Giant Steps for Carbon Trading in Europe - by Mark Scott

For the complete report from Businessweek click on this link

Giant Steps for Carbon Trading in Europe - by Mark Scott

It's not every day the European Commission (EC) is compared to a magician. Yet like a conjurer pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Brussels has created a multi-billion dollar industry almost out of thin air since the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) started charging companies for emitting carbon dioxide back in 2005. Europe's ongoing effort to combat climate change took a big step forward this Jan. 23 when the EC announced the third phase of the ETS, which extends the program to 2020 and sets more stringent reduction targets for the EU's energy and manufacturing sectors. For the first time industries such as aluminum and chemicals were added to the ETS, which will now cover almost half of Europe's total emissions. The goal is by 2020 to lower carbon output 20% from its 1990 level through a market-based mechanism that fixes the problems of earlier schemes and creates a more realistic price for carbon credits. One way Europe intends to do this is by requiring some companies, beginning in 2013, to purchase carbon emission rights via auction, rather than by receiving them as grants

1/23/08

News.com.au: George W Bush, White House told 935 lies after September 11

For the complete report from news.com.au click on this link

George W Bush, White House told 935 lies after September 11

US President George W Bush and other top officials issued almost one thousand false statements about the national security threat from Iraq following the September 11 attacks, according to a study by two not-for-profit organisations. The Associated Press reports the study, published on the website of the Centre for Public Integrity, concluded the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanised public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretences”.

According to the study, 935 false statements were issued by the White House in the two years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.“The cumulative effect of these false statements – amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts – was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war,” the study concluded.

AFP: Italy in suspense amid signs Prodi may resign before Senate vote

For the complete report from the AFP click on this link

Italy in suspense amid signs Prodi may resign before Senate vote

Italy in suspense amid signs Prodi may resign before Senate vote

Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi, facing shrinking odds of winning a vote of confidence in the opposition-controlled Senate, is considering resigning instead of facing the test, media reports said Wednesday. Citing government sources, the reports said President Giorgio Napolitano advised Prodi not to submit to the vote set for Thursday in the Senate. The centre-left's slim majority in the upper house evaporated this week with the defection of a small centrist Catholic party.

The Guardian: Norway's c.bank keeps rate steady at 5.25 pct

For the complete report from the Guardian click on this link

Norway's c.bank keeps rate steady at 5.25 pct

Norway's central bank held its main interest rate steady at 5.25 percent on Wednesday as forecast by analysts , with a brisk domestic economy offset by weaker global growth prospects. The bank was unswayed by a surprise U.S. Federal Reserve rate cut of 75 basis points on Tuesday. Eleven economists in a Reuters poll last week unanimously predicted that Norges Bank would keep rates unchanged. The bank has raised the deposit rate 14 times from an all-time low of 1.75 percent in mid-2005 in a bid to maintain stability and avoid overheating in a booming economy. Some analysts say the Norwegian tightening cycle has come to an end, but others have forecast one or two more 25 basis points increases this year.

Forbes: EU tells UK to cut deficit faster, warns Germany about next year.

For the complete report from Forbes.com click on this link

EU tells UK to cut deficit faster, warns Germany about next year

he European Commission told the UK to step up the pace of deficit reduction and warned that Germany looks set to slip back into deficit next year. Publishing its latest assessment of several EU member states' public finances, the commission also said Hungary is 'broadly' on track to correct its deficit by 2009. It took a particularly stern line with the UK. 'The pace of fiscal consolidation in the United Kingdom appears insufficient and should be strengthened significantly,' it said. By contrast, the commission noted that 'Germany has achieved a remarkable budgetary consolidation', reaching budget balance this year.

The Hermes Press: US Economy - The Wall Street Scam

For the complete report from the Hermes Press click on this link

US Economy: The Wall Street Scam

"By understanding how the Wall Street con game operates, you can at least avoid being taken to the cleaners and perhaps go on to study enough to profit from this knowledge. The unwary investor is made to believe - by a press owned by the very people who are part of the Wall Street scam - that they can make a killing in the stock market if they get lucky. Over the years outsider, small-time investors have lost billions of dollars to the insiders who control and manipulate the stock market to take money from the ignorant.

The brainwashed investor believes that the stock market goes up and down according to what he reads in the Wall Street Journal or hears about on his evening TV program: interest rates, inflation rates, wholesale prices, gross national product, public fears about foreign and domestic events, and the rantings of the head of the "Federal" Reserve Board. This is all a con game to make the hapless investor believe that the rise and fall in stock prices is not being manipulated by the specialists."

Boston globe: Washington wants to jump-start the US economy by taking money from Jane and giving it to Joan - there's no such free lunch

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

US Economy: Washington wants to jump-start the US economy by taking money from Jane and giving it to Joan - there's no such free lunch

In other words, before any money can be injected into the economy by means of rebate checks or other benefits, it must first be extracted from the economy by means of borrowing (or taxation). The $800 you get from the Government and spend at Home Depot or SeaWorld is $800 not available to the bond buyer who lent Uncle Sam the money for your rebate check. No one can boost their own prosperity by withdrawing money from a downtown ATM and depositing it in an suburb ATM. If Washington really has the power to restore vim and verve to the US economy by simply moving money around, why not do so all the time? Why should there ever be an economic slowdown if government spending can prevent it? Here's why: Because the business cycle hasn't been repealed. Because booms are still followed by busts. Because politicians and policymakers cannot make a $14 trillion economy jump through hoops, particularly not by going even more deeply into debt.

AngusReid: US elections: If McCain is the Republican Candidate he can beat Obama and Hillary

For the complete report from the Angus Reid Global Monitor click on this link

US elections: If McCain is the Republican Candidate he can beat Obama and Hillary

Republican John McCain holds a small advantage over Democrat Barack Obama in a prospective 2008 United States presidential contest, according to a poll by Zogby International released by Reuters. 45 per cent of respondents would vote for the Arizona senator, while 43 per cent would back the Illinois senator. Support for McCain in this match-up increased by two points since December, while backing for Obama fell by four points. In another match-up, McCain holds a five-point lead over New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

FT.com - Capitalism: US no longer dominates the world of business - by - by John Gapper

For the complete report from the FT.com click on this link

Capitalism: US no longer dominates the world of business - by John Gapper

n the 20th century, the US had an uncontested lead in global business. It was the country where the mass-market car emerged, where the world’s most powerful financial institutions grew up, where most software and hardware were invented, where fast-food companies started. It was a single market of 50 states and it produced most of the companies with a decent claim to be global. The early 21st century has seen a growing set of challenges to the country’s position. As 2008 starts, this is being exacerbated by the US economic downturn and credit crisis. Although the US remains a powerful business force, it can no longer take for granted its dominance over the rest of the world.None of this means that the US is finished as an economic force. It is still the world’s biggest market and has great depths of financial expertise, technological know-how and entrepreneurial spirit. It cannot be written off, even if the cyclical downturn in 2008 will add to its longer-term challenges. But it no longer has the world of business to itself.

Note EU-Digest: When we speak of the decoupling of the US economy with other economies we should realize that there is already a decoupling taking place when it comes to the different economies around the world with that of the US. However, when it comes to decoupling of financial markets, we see that given the present structure of the so-called global market place with multi-national corporations operating everywhere, this decoupling of the financial markets in its present form is hardly possible. The question that arises is why don't the strong economies strengthen their internal financial markets in such a way that they can operate independently within a restructured decoupled global financial market.

1/22/08

The Register: EU debates privacy of IP numbers - by John Oates

For the complete report from The Register click on this link

EU debates privacy of IP numbers - by John Oates

The European Union moved closer to labelling Internet Protocol addresses as personal information yesterday at a public hearing of the Civil Liberties Committee. Peter Scharr, Germany's data protection commissioner and the man behind an EU group considering the privacy policies of major search engines, told the meeting that if IP addresses identify a specific individual they should be considered personal data.Rotenberg said that deals like Google's takeover of DoubleClick "underscore the need to bring data protection into account when the responsible authorities review the merger". The EU is currently considering whether or not Google's purchase of DoubleClick should go ahead.

Saanich News - Journalism war overhyped

For the complete report click from Saanich News click on this link

Journalism war overhyped

Like any major industry, journalism is constantly undergoing a metamorphosis, regularly re-birthing itself.

Each time a new medium was announced, others were predicted to die. Radio was going to kill newspapers, television was going to kill radio, the Internet was going to kill them all, and so on and so forth. Right now the current supposed battle has pitted all traditional news sources (print, radio and TV) against the Internet. If anyone knows how this battle should play out on the American Continent of the woods it’s Charles Campbell. The award-winning journalist has worked for such publications as the Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Straight and The Tyee as both a reporter and editor.A Google search of “Death of Newspapers” gets around 1.4 million hits. Stories in publications covering a wide variety of spectrums such as The Economist, Adbusters and Slate.com dating as far back as the late 1990s foretell the death of hard print. Campbell said the newspaper and magazines, aren’t dead or dying, in fact the battle is much more complex. Major dailies in metropolis areas stand to lose the most to the Internet, and paid publications – from physical magazines to online news sites – might also suffer. However some dailies and major magazine such as the New York Times and Vanity Fair have embraced the Internet, offering online-only content, treating the Internet not as a threat, but another medium for their product.

Note EU-Digest: "In this respect electronic news publications like EU-Digest at http://www.eu-digest.com and Turkish Digest at http://www.turkishdigest.com are perfect examples of the synergy that can be created between the written press and the blogosphere."

VOA News - EU Official Blames Market Turmoil on US Economic Imbalances

For the complete report from the VOA News click on this link

EU Official Blames Market Turmoil on US Economic Imbalances

The European Union's top economic official has blamed the current turmoil in global stock markets on major imbalances in the U.S. economy. Joaquin Almunia says these imbalances include the large U.S. trade deficit and government overspending, which have forced Washington to take on huge debt. Almunia was speaking Tuesday in Brussels after meeting with EU finance ministers.

Time Magazine: Nationalism Rising in Serbia? - by DEJAN ANASTASIJEVIC

For the complete report from TIME Magazine click on this link

Nationalism Rising in Serbia? - by DEJAN ANASTASIJEVIC

While the presidency of Serbia is a largely ceremonial role, electing the President has become a barometer of popular — and thus political — sentiment. In the first round of voting on Jan. 20, ultra-nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic won the most votes, 1.6 million or 39.4% of the ballots cast. The incumbent President, pro-Western Boris Tadic, came in second with 35.4% or 1.4 million votes. The contest is now headed for a Feb. 3 runoff.Even if Nikolic wins the runoff, he will not be able to change Serbian politics dramatically or immediately. Kostunica and his moderate nationalism are likely to hold sway even if he and Tadic decide to call it quits. Kostunica's parliamentary bloc, while numerically small, is an essential ally to any larger party seeking to form a ruling coalition. Meanwhile, parliamentary elections are not scheduled until January 2011. "The government would probably survive, at least for a while, even with Nikolic as President", Svilanovic explains. "But Serbia's road towards the E.U. membership would certainly become much more complicated at best."

The Guardian: Europe in no rush to join US with rate or tax cuts - by Jan Strupczewski and Brian Love

For the complete report from The Guardian click on this link

Europe in no rush to join US with rate or tax cuts - by Jan Strupczewski and Brian Love

Europe in no rush to join US with rate or tax cuts - by Jan Strupczewski and Brian Love

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe's economy was an "anchor of stability in the world" and added in an interview on German TV: "There are no signs of a recession in Germany, and that's also the case for Europe." Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia gave a similar message to the European Parliament. "We don't need to imitate all the decisions other economies can adopt. We need to rely on our own framework that is much more efficient," he said. "The U.S. economy has serious problems with fundamentals. We haven't," he added.

ECOFIN: Dutch Fin Min: No Risk Of Econ Recession In Europe


For the complete report from ECOFIN click on this link

Dutch Finance Minister Bos: "No Risk Of Economic Recession In Europe"

"There is no risk that Europe's economy will experience a recession this year, Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos said Tuesday. And speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of finance ministers from the 27 members of the European Union, Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders concurred, but added there is a risk of a slowdown. Reynders added that the E.U. finance ministers, known as Ecofin, will monitor developments in global financial markets "very closely." European and Asian stock markets plummeted Monday, and Asian markets lost further ground Tuesday. But Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the Euro Group of finance ministers from the 15 E.U. members that use the euro, repeated his view that the euro-zone economy is in better shape that its U.S. counterpart, and added that "it won't happen that we in Europe" have to resort to launching fiscal stimulus packages, as the U.S. administration did last week. Asked if E.U. economies would enter recession, Bos said "no, no." He added that the Dutch economy was well positioned to deal with the turmoil in financial markets, which he attributed to "uncertainty" about the outlook for the U.S. economy. "The fundamentals are very good," Bos said. "We can take a blow and still be healthy."

Editorial Note EU-Digest: "Mr. Wouter Bos probably is right, based on the actual situation. Euro area's GDP in 2007 will be about $11.9 trillion(according to IMF estimates). U.S. imports from the Euro area have totaled $245 billion in 2007 through November; let's say $267 billion for the full year. So the Euro area's exports to the U.S. account for just two and a quarter percent of its GDP. How much of a drop in US imports (Europe's exports) might we have in a U.S. recession? Last recession US imports fell by 5.5 percent. If with the fall of the dollar, US imports really drop, by say ten percent. That would cut 0.2 percent off Europe's growth rate, plus multiplier effects if any. That by itself does not send Europe into recession. As for the echo effect, U.S. exports to the Euro area amount to about 1.3 percent of US GDP. So by taking 1.3 percent of a 0.2 percent drop and you get a trivially small number, less than three thousandths of one percent. So forget an echo recession in Europe. That is if we base it only on what is happening in the US."

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia: Latvia expels diplomat of Russian Federation Embassy

For the complete report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia click on this link

Latvia expels diplomat of Russian Federation Embassy

Viktor Kalyuzhniy, Ambassador of the Russian Federation, was summoned before Edgars Skuja, Acting Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Acting Secretary of State issued the Ambassador with a note stating that, on the basis of information provided by appropriate state security authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established that one of the diplomatic staff of the Embassy of the Russian Federation has been engaged in activities incompatible with his status as diplomat and that his residence in Latvia poses a threat to state security. In accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has declared the diplomat persona non grata.

1/21/08

Businessweek: Euro chief urges calm amid US troubles - Economic situation in Europe uncoupled from the situation in the US - by Aoife White

For the complete report from Businessweek click on this link

Euro chief urges calm amid US troubles - Economic situation in Europe uncoupled from the situation in the US - by Aoife White

Euro nations see no immediate need to react to the growing threat of a U.S. slowdown that sent stock markets plunging Monday, the head of the group of 15 euro finance ministers said after they met for talks. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the economic situation in Europe was "clearly different from, better than" the that of the U.S. and did not require something similar to President Bush's multibillion-dollar program to stimulate the economy. "We should not overreact to events on the stock exchanges today, we need to look at the next few days at what is rational about this and what is irrational, what is part of a process of correction and what is people overreacting," he said.Juncker insisted the glass was half-full, saying that in spite of rising energy costs and rocketing inflation "it would be a mistake to fall victim to excessive pessimism." Although euro area growth would likely be less than the EU executive forecast in November, the "fundamentals are sound," jobless rates are still falling, and inflation should drop back by the end of the year, he said. "We feel comfortable with the current economic situation," Juncker told reporters. "Consumers in Europe have no reason to lose confidence, the economic situation in Europe seems to be uncoupled from the situation in the U.S."

Business Spectator - World Economy: Wait for the day of no hope - by Robert Gottliebsen

For the complete report from the Business Spectator click on this link

World Economy: Wait for the day of no hope - by Robert Gottliebsen

The big stock market fall in Europe tells us that monoline insurance is as big, if not bigger, than sub-prime. Worse still, it will eat into the heart of European banks and institutions who were handed huge surplus money piles by the middle eastern countries that did not want to invest in US dollars directly. Accordingly, the European banks invested much of this money in 'AAA' American securities, as determined by the rating agencies, which relied on monoline insurance company guarantees that are now not worth the paper they were written on. I suspect European banks will represent a significant slice of the $US2,300 billion in the now non-guaranteed loans, many of which will be bad. In the UK, again encouraged by the big middle eastern deposits, banks and institutions have financed an incredible splurge in office building without tenants locked in. These buildings will cause huge losses, so the banks face a double blow.

Fear of the unknown is engulfing the world. The US sub-prime crisis has been joined by the global monoline insurance disaster which may be even bigger. The two are, of course, linked, because monoline insurers guaranteed sub-prime debt. Worse still we have the head central banker in the world’s biggest economy with his head firmly in the sand. Ben Bernanke made the foolish claim over the weekend that there would be no US recession, and did not even mention the monoline insurance disaster. It would have been far more reassuring to the market if he had told the truth and admitted a recession was a likelihood and recognized the impact and dangers of the twin disasters.

FinFact - Irish Public Service employees awarded zero increase in benchmarking report

For the full report from FinFacts click on this link

Irish Public Service employees awarded zero increase in benchmarking report

Furious Irish unions accused the Government of declaring a war on their members' wages. But an unrepentant Finance Minister Brian Cowen insisted the benchmarking body had done its job and the issue would now go to the forthcoming national wage negotiations. Opposition parties claimed Mr Cowen and his Cabinet colleagues would be getting deferred pay increases of up to 14pc, under a report comparing top salaries in the two sectors. Union leaders are aware national deals normally give the same rises to both public and private workers.

FT: EU's engagement with Pakistan depends on fair polls says Solana

For the complete report from the FT.Com click on this link

Mr Musharraf held talks in Brussels with Javier Solana, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, who said he had stressed the EU’s desire that Pakistan should “move forward on a path of reform and the rule of law”. With European countries contributing more than half of the 41,700-strong international force conducting military operations against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, the EU has a strong interest in seeing a decline of political violence and unrest in neighbouring Pakistan.EU's engagement with Pakistan depends on fair polls says Solana

The level of the European Union's engagement with Pakistan depends on the holding of free, fair and secure elections there next month, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Monday. "Our message is clear. It is that the elections have to be fair, free and secure, which is also very important," Solana said after lunch talks in Brussels with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. "Our reaction on cooperation and the level of engagement will be in view of the result of the process," he added. He did not give any details as to what that cooperation may entail.The EU is Pakistan’s largest foreign trading partner, with annual trade worth euro 6.25bn, and Mr Musharraf said he had raised the issue of easier access for Pakistan to EU markets. Later on his European trip, Mr Musharraf is due to meet Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, and Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister, as well as to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.

EU Business; EU slams Israel's 'collective punishment' in Gaza

For the complete report from EUbusiness.com click on this link

EU slams Israel's 'collective punishment' in Gaza

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner hit out at Israel Monday, slamming its blockade of the strife-torn Gaza Strip as "collective punishment". "I am against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza. I urge the Israeli authorities to restart fuel supplies and open the crossings for the passage of humanitarian and commercial supplies," she said in a statement. Gaza's sole power plant shut down overnight for want of fuel as a punishing four-day Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run territory threatened to spark a humanitarian crisis.Ferrero-Waldner, while also condemning rocket attacks on Israeli territory, said the decision to close all border crossings into Gaza as well as to stop the provision of fuel "will exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip."

AFP: World stock markets plunge as global recession fears grow

For the complete report from AFP click on this link

World stock markets plunge as global recession fears grow

Stocks plummeted across the world on Monday amid fears of a global recession, with markets in Europe suffering their biggest one-day losses since the September 11th attacks on the United States. Dealers said a major new plan by President George W. Bush to prevent a US recession was not enough to offset the stream of bad news from banks due to the crisis in the American housing market. "People aren't buying the US bail-out story and that feeling has been exacerbated by the weakness overnight in the Asian markets," said Richard Hunter, equities analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown in London. "The other thing we have seen today is a lack of buying interest -- people are battening down the hatches while they see what happens in the US," he said.

The Guardian/The Observer: The Netherlands: Violence fear over Islam film - by Jason Burke

For the complete report from The Guardian/The Observer click on this link

The Netherlands: Violence fear over Islam film - by Jason Burke

The Dutch government is bracing itself for violent protests following the scheduled broadcast this week of a provocative anti-Muslim film by a radical right-wing politician who has threatened to broadcast images of the Koran being torn up and otherwise desecrated. Cabinet ministers and officials, fearing a repetition of the crisis sparked by the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper two years ago, have held a series of crisis meetings and ordered counter-terrorist services to draw up security plans. Dutch nationals overseas have been asked to register with their embassies and local mayors in the Netherlands have been put on standby.

From her self-imposed exile in Washington, Hirsi Ali last week criticized the new film as 'provocation' and called on the major Dutch political parties to restart a debate on immigration that has split Dutch society in recent years, rather than leave the field to extremists.Job Cohen, the left-wing mayor of Amsterdam, echoed Hirsi Ali's words and called for a debate 'so that the moderates can make themselves heard'.

Note EU-Digest: Hirsi Ali is to be complimented for her stand on this issue. Freedom of expression includes the right to offend, but certainly not the right to provoke violence. If Wilders suggests that tearing up the Koran (or the Bible for that matter) would be a good idea, it could probably pass as freedom of expression. On the other hand if he says that the Koran (Bible) must be torn up, or used as toilet paper, he is overstepping the boundaries of freedom of expression and decency and indirectly inciting violence as a result of that statement. Many people feel that Mr. Geert Wilders, the maker of the film, should be taken into court if his film results in violence or death. The same as would apply to anyone who would kill Mr. Wilders as a result of his film. The tactics applied by Mr. Geert Wilders, a populist-conservative politician, are very similar to those that were applied by the Nazis against the Jews. These kind of tactics do not belong in todays Europe.

Financial Times: Brown asks IMF, World Bank to give India bigger role

For the complete report from The Economic Times click on this link

Brown asks IMF, World Bank to give India bigger role

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday asked the World Bank, IMF and the rich nations' G-8 club to revamp their structure to reflect India's rising prowess in the global economy. "I support changes to the World Bank, the IMF and G-8 that reflect the rise of India and rise of Asia," he said at a breakfast meeting with Indian and British industry leaders here. He said: "We can and must do more to make our global institutions more representative," and added that the IMF should work with the same independence given to central banks. Note EU-Digest: Mr. Brown also gave strong support for an Indian seat on the UN Security Council.

Chron.com: Sarkozy hardly the 'model' of savoir-faire - by Froma Harrop

For the complete report from Chron.com click on this link

The French have long tolerated adulterers, liars and hypocrites in their politics. A simpleton is another matter, and President Nicolas Sarkozy's public frolic with a former model and singer of heavy-breathing songs does not speak of emotional complexity. A divorced man of 52, Sarkozy says all this is a private matter. Fine, but then why take the 39-year-old Carla Bruni on state visits to socially conservative countries, where such unmarried coupledom is frowned upon? "That's France for you," a male friend reasoned. Actually, it's not. The French like order. Their president's need to push his love life onto unwilling audiences is causing international friction. And since the damage is so unnecessary, you wonder whether Sarkozy hasn't got a few screws loose.

1/20/08

Greenchemistry: The European Union bans certain biofuel sources in draft law

For the complete report from Greenchemistry click on this link

The European Union bans certain biofuel sources in draft law

Amidst renewed fears over the impact of biofuels on the environment, which a recent Royal Society report warned could “do more harm than good,” the European Union has issued a draft law that would propose a ban on the imports of bio fuels derived from crops grown on certain types of land — such as forests, wetlands and grasslands. It would also require them to deliver a — as yet undetermined — “minimum level of greenhouse gas savings.” Palm oil is cited by many as a particularly insidious source of biofuel because of the unacceptable environmental and societal costs it incurs.

IHT: French regulator sees 'partial decoupling' of US and EU economies - by Matthew Saltmarsh

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

French regulator sees 'partial decoupling' of US and EU economies - by Matthew Saltmarsh

While there is increasing evidence that the euro-area economy is slowing, most of the factors that are contributing to the bleak outlook in the United States are not present on the Continent, according to the governor of the Bank of France, Christian Noyer. In an interview, Noyer also said he did not expect any "strong shocks" from French banks as they report their 2007 earnings, despite the constant stream of major losses by banks in the United States. Noyer was at pains to stress that consumers and financial institutions in France and the rest of the euro zone appeared relatively insulated from the effects of the meltdown of the subprime mortgage market across the Atlantic. "Historically, there was some correlation between the U.S. and the EU economic cycles," Noyer said. "Now it seems there could be at least a partial decoupling. That's not to say that we're immune from a weakening U.S. economy, but there are a series of factors that should dampen the effect."

Energy Bulletin: The false US economy versus nature’s expansion-contraction cycle - by Shepherd bliss

For the complete report from the EnergyBulletin.net click on this net

The false US economy versus nature’s expansion-contraction cycle - by Shepherd bliss

The government’s so-called “economic stimulus” is a false solution, attempting to further prop up the false economy. Giving people more money to spend—many of whom are already spending beyond their means—will not solve what is becoming our most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. Trying to avoid the economic fall seems futile. A better approach would be to roll with the punches and figure out how to even thrive during this transition from a no-longer to a not-yet. Those who do can even benefit from the changing reality. The US economy has expanded for the last seven years. It’s time to contract, in spite of the wailing of economists. Economic growth slowed to barely 1% in the final three months of 2007--a big drop from 4.9% in the third quarter. Growth may now be dipping into negative territory,

RNW - Ultranationalist Tomislav Nikolic wins Serbian election

For the complete report from Radio Netherlands click on this link

Ultranationalist Tomislav Nikolic wins Serbian election

Preliminary results from Serbia's presidential elections indicate a victory for the ultranationalist Tomislav Nikolic. The partial results give Mr Nikolic 39.4 percent against 35.4 percent for the incumbent Boris Tadic. As neither candidate won a majority, a second round of voting will be held in two weeks time. The seven other candidates did not win enough votes to play a role in the election. A record number of Serbians cast their ballot in today's vote. Around 60 percent of the 6.7 million eligible voters went to the poll, the highest percentage since the 2000 democratic revolution. The vote is seen as crucial for the Balkan state's future. Both candidates oppose independence for Kosovo but Mr Nikolic favours closer ties with Russia and is opposed to NATO, the US and the European Union while Mr Tadic wants Serbia to join the EU.

Note EU-Digest: this spells big troubles for the stability in the Balkan region.

1/19/08

Guardian: Boeing 777: Safety fears over crash jet's alarm failure - by Dan Milmo and Sam Jones

For the complete report from the Guardian Unlimited click on this link

Boeing 777: Safety fears over crash jet's alarm failure - by Dan Milmo and Sam Jones

The pilots of the British Airways Boeing 777 that crash landed at Heathrow on Thursday received no warning that the aircraft was losing power because of a problem with the aircraft's alarm systems, a source has told the Guardian. Because there was no signal from the Boeing 777's automatic warning system, the pilots did not realize anything was wrong until they approached the runway and noticed the plane was losing speed more rapidly than normal. The plane "fell out of the sky" just 10ft from the ground after stalling as it came in to land.

The fact that the pilots, Captain Peter Burkill and senior first officer, John Coward, did not receive an automated warning of the drop in engine power will cause concern about the safety of systems on the 777 of which more than 600 are in service. Although all commercial airplanes have programmed "inhibitions" on certain warnings so that the crew are not distracted by unnecessary alarms during the crucial takeoff and landing procedures, the alarm should have been triggered when the engines failed.The Guardian has also learned that a key instrument, the engine pressure ratio gauge, which tells the crew how much power is available, had failed. The pilots tried to coax more power from the 777, but it did not respond, according to an aviation source. Realising every ounce of lift would be needed to nurse the plane over Heathrow's perimeter fence, Coward, who was at the controls, dropped the nose to maintain speed. As he approached the fence, he lifted the nose, wringing the last reserves of energy from the plane. Then the aircraft narrowly missed a guidance beacon before stalling around 10ft from the ground. "It just fell out of the sky from a few feet," said the source. "It was the skill of the crew that kept those 136 people alive."

Daily Times - Tough questions await Musharraf in Europe

For the complete report from the Daily Times click on this link

Tough questions await Musharraf in Europe

President Pervez Musharraf heads off on a four-country trip to Europe this weekend where he is expected to face tough questions over his rule while shoring up international support. Former foreign secretary Tanvir Ahmed Khan expected Musharraf to seek to impress on Europeans that Pakistan’s best hope of stability rested with him retaining power. “He’s trying to establish his credentials with key Western powers with the same old message: that he’s indispensable, they don’t have a better friend than him, without him the war on terror would unravel and Pakistan’s economic progress would collapse,” Khan said. Musharraf is due to hold talks with European Union and Belgian leaders in Brussels, meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris and then attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland before heading to London for talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Enerpub: Bulgaria signs deal on new pipeline to Europe

For the complete report from EnerPub click on this link

Bulgaria signs deal on new pipeline to Europe

Bulgaria has signed a deal with Moscow to join a major new pipeline project to bring Russian natural gas to Europe on the second day of a visit that Russian President Vladimir Putin used to lobby hard for the deal. The pipeline would deal a blow to European hopes of reducing dependence on Russia as an energy source amid fears in Brussels that Moscow is acquiring too much economic leverage over EU members. Speaking after the signing in Sofia, Putin said the deal will benefit European consumers by assuring new energy supplies. "I want to particularly stress that the construction of this new infrastructure does not mean a decrease in our cooperation with other transit countries," he said. "The creation of new routes ensures security, increases stability, and creates new transit capabilities for the growing supplies of energy resources to European consumers."