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2/29/08

Daily Mail: U.S. is world's biggest jailer as more than one in 100 adults languish behind bars - Russia highest number of inmates Europe


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

U.S. is world's biggest jailer as more than one in 100 adults languish behind bars-Russia highest number of inmates Europe

More than one in every 100 American adults is in prison, making the United States the world's biggest jailer, according to a Pew report published today.The numbers - based on January statistics released by the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College, London - put U.S. prison numbers far above those of China, which has 1.5 million people behind bars even though its total population is more than four times bigger than the United States'. South Africa has 341 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, Iran has 222 per 100,000, and China 119, according to the King's College centre's World Prison Brief. The 50 U.S. states spent nearly $49 billion (£25 billion) on prisons last year, up from less than US$11 billion 20 years earlier, the report said.Prison spending has risen six times faster than higher education spending, the Pew Centre said, and has actually overtaken it in Vermont, Michigan, Oregon and Connecticut."These sad facts reflect a very distorted set of national priorities," said Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.

Russia and other former Soviet republics had the highest rates of incarceration in Europe. Russia, with a total of 890,000 people in prison, has 628 inmates per 100,000 people, followed by Belarus with 426 per 100,000, Georgia with 401 per 100,000 and Ukraine with 345 per 100,000.

Why It Matters : France to Sarkozy: "Get Lost, You Jerk"

For the complete report from Newsweek click on this link

France to Sarkozy: 'Get Lost, You Jerk'

It's hard to believe that anyone could long for the good old days of Jacques Chirac, but when President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Agriculture Fair in Paris a few days ago, he managed to remind the French how comfortable they used to feel with his lanky, laid-back predecessor. When Chirac visited the annual fair, he did so as a bon vivant. Sarkozy, on the other hand, went through it in an overheated rush, using language fit for a scrum in the Metro. The video of the event captured by the tabloid daily Le Parisien has been watched by more than three million viewers. The climax comes when Sarkozy is shaking hands with the crowd and one man pulls back, "Ah, no, don't touch me." Sarko, his fixed smile unwavering says, "Get lost, then." To which the man responds, "You got me dirty." To which Sarko responds (this is a polite way of putting it), "Get lost, you jerk."

The French don't like their presidents to talk that way in public. (Chirac's language was plenty salty in private.) But the real problem is that they're discovering they just don't like Sarkozy. The cover story of this week's Le Nouvel Observateur explains why. In the lead article headlined "And if this were to end badly ...," François Bazin writes that other presidents have been unpopular, but for the most part late in their terms. When Chirac's ratings took a nose dive in 1996, early in his first mandate, his prime minister, Alain Juppé, took the fall. But Sarkozy wants all attention fixed on him, and is managing to attract opprobrium to the office of the president itself. "What's happening today is literally unimaginable," writes Bazin.

Note EU-Digest:For the video on Sarkozy's outburst and the translation by the Shadow Land Journal click on this link

The News.Pl: EU Reform Treaty ratified by Polish parliament

For the complete report from the The NewsPL click on this link

EU Reform Treaty ratified by Polish parliament

The results of the vote were: 357 votes for, 55 against, 7 abstentions. Parliament will now pass a bill authorizing the president to sign the ratification of the treaty. Another way of ratifying the treaty provided for in the constitution would be to hold a public referendum. Ratification in parliament was supported by the ruling coalition, consisting of the ruling Civic Platform (PO) and the Peasants' Party (PSL), as well as the opposition Left and the Democrats (LiD).

Market Watch: Dollar pressure resumes; euro, Swiss franc hit fresh record highs - by William L. Watts & Lisa Twaronite

For the complete report from MarketWatch click on this link

Dollar pressure resumes; euro, Swiss franc hit fresh record highs - by William L. Watts & Lisa Twaronite

The dollar fell to a lifetime low of 1.0482 Swiss francs. The 15-nation European currency rose as high as $1.5228, its loftiest level since it began trading in January 1999, as Bernanke spoke on Capitol Hill for the second day of his report on monetary policy. While Bernanke downplayed concerns that the U.S. economy might be in the grip of stagflation -- a combination of low growth and inflation -- the Fed chief said there would likely be some bank failures, though not large firms. "We are facing a situation where we have simultaneously a slowdown in the economy, stress in financial markets, and inflation pressures coming from these commodity prices abroad," Bernanke said.

2/28/08

Go-It-Alone Sarkozy Irks Europe With Lack of Tact | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 28.02.2008

Go-It-Alone Sarkozy Irks Europe With Lack of Tact | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 28.02.2008

"Go-It-Alone Sarkozy Irks Europe With Lack of Tact
Nicolas Sarkozy

After less than a year in office, the popularity of French President Nicolas Sarkozy is dwindling rapidly. Apart from irritating the French, he's been ruffling feathers abroad -- most recently in Berlin.

Scheduling difficulties -- this diplomatic euphemism was the official reason from Paris for letting two Franco-German meetings slip through the cracks this week."

AccountancyAge: Germany plans to involve EU in tax evasion probe

For the complete report from the Accountancy Age click on this link

Germany plans to involve EU in tax evasion probe

Tax evasion linked to the Liechtenstein tax haven, the subject of a German-led probe world wide, will be on the agenda at a meeting of EU finance ministers on March 4. Ulrike Abratis, a German Finance Ministry spokeswoman, told Bloomberg.com yesterday German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck would make a statement. ‘You can be certain that the subject of tax evasion will play a role,’ she said.

The Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Finland yesterday confirmed their own probes into possible tax avoiders with Liechtenstein bank accounts, joining countries such as the US, Canada and Australia already involved in the worldwide investigation. Of the 15 countries so far planning probes, 10 are EU members.

SFGate: Euro up. Dollar down. U.S. debt through the [over-mortgaged] roof

For the complete report from SFGate click on this link

Euro up. Dollar down. U.S. debt through the [over-mortgaged] roof

"Hail the conquering euro! Yes, we know - we've used that catch phrase here before and we'll probably have opportunities to revisit it in the future, too. For now, though, it couldn't be more apt. That's because, yesterday, the euro, which is now the national coin of 15 European countries, reached an all-time high in its value against the American dollar. In international trading, one euro reached a value of nearly $1.51 before settling down a fraction of a percentage point lower.

Then there's that pesky fact out there in what a Bush administration minion once famously referred to as the "reality-based community," namely the real world. That fact states rather irrefutably that Bush's war in Iraq has cost the U.S. government 50 to 60 times "more than the Bush administration predicted" it would. On Tuesday, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz took part in a panel discussion at Chatham House, the London-based think tank. He pointed out that Washington's limitless Iraq-war spending "was a central cause of the sub-prime banking crisis threatening the world economy."

YahooNews: RUSSIA'S SUPPORT OF SERBIA IS MORE ABOUT OIL THAN KOSOVO - by Georgie Anne Geyer

For the complete report from YahooNews click on this link

RUSSIA'S SUPPORT OF SERBIA IS MORE ABOUT OIL THAN KOSOVO - - by Georgie Anne Geyer

"Since the end of the Balkans wars in the 1990s, the European attitude toward Serbia has been that this renegade of Europe would eventually, inevitably, join the European Union (E.U.)

After Kosovo declared independence, Medvedev, already chosen as interim president by Putin, traveled to Kosovo's to Belgrade to sign -- what? -- amazing deals with Serbia on a gas pipeline and almost certainly on buying into the rundown Serb oil refinery in Pancevo. Medvedev's pipeline deal for Moscow clears the way for the construction of the planned 550-mile South Stream pipeline through Serbia en route to Western Europe. Costs are reported to be in the area of $1.5 billion. In addition -- and substantively expanding the energy ambitions of Russia toward Europe -- the president presumptive said that the deal to buy Serbia's state oil refinery, NIS, would be signed soon. Russia has offered $600 million for the refinery, with an additional $730 million to modernize the company.

The purport of all of this? To see that the genie of radical nationalism, released so tragically 20 years ago in Serbia, is threatening to pop up again in the Balkans. An angry Russia is attempting to use its energy wealth to move once again into Europe. And the West had better look out."

Business Day/Bloomberg - Spain's Zapatero leads in Polls

For the complete report from Business Day/Bloomberg click on this link

Spain's Zapatero leads in Polls

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero outperformed People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy in a televised debate, the first in 15 years in Spain, with less than two weeks before voters decide which of them will lead the next government, polls show . Four polls after the debate showed viewers thought Zapatero did better by margins of between 3,5 percentage points and 16 percentage points. The 90-minute encounter that finished at midnight on Monday was seen by more than 13-million people, almost a third of the population.

Unlike recent political debates among presidential candidates in the US, the two rivals did not couch their criticism with any praise for the other’s integrity or record.

Businessweek: The EU's New Heat on Microsoft - by Jennifer L. Schenker

The EU's New Heat on Microsoft

The EU's New Heat on Microsoft - by Jennifer L. Schenker

Will Microsoft's struggle with the European Union's antitrust watchdog never end? The announcement Feb. 27 that the European Commission is slapping more than $1.3 billion in new fines on the software maker (MFST) is the clearest signal yet that the battle between Redmond and Brussels is far from over. This time, the commission is again penalizing the company for failing to comply with a 2004 order to reduce what it charges rivals for access to the information they need to make their products work better with Microsoft's market-dominant software. Combined with earlier fines against the software giant totaling more than $600 million, the EU has now fined Microsoft nearly $2 billion in a clash that began nearly decade ago and culminated with a landmark court case in September. The new European investigations come as Microsoft finds itself in danger of seeing EU governments effectively ban its software to create documents. The European Commission and its member states have been mulling a mandate that all government documents be created in the Open Document Format (ODF), an open source competitor to the proprietary format used in Microsoft Word.Microsoft's attempts to push its own new document format—which it claims is open and critics say is not—is coming under the scrutiny of antitrust authorities in Brussels and could lead to yet another legal showdown.

Note EU-Digest: "Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. For years after the decision Microsoft said it was making every effort to comply with the Commission's orders. "Talk is cheap, flouting the rules is expensive," Kroes said. "We don't want talk and promises. We want compliance." Good job Mrs. Neelie Kroes, not only Microsoft competitors but also European consumers will benefit.

Africa's Plight: How Europe Lost Africa - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

"AFRICA'S PLIGHT
How Europe Lost Africa

By Dominic Johnson

The future of Europe's special relationship with Africa is at risk as former colonies react to a blasé, if not hypocritical, European attitude toward the continent. European-style institutions could enter a profound crisis of legitimacy if things do not change soon."

Pop goes the European Union

Pop goes the European Union | spiked

"Pop goes the European Union

It claims to unite the continent through the power of music, yet the Eurovision Song Contest is really all about ‘Dustin’ off nationalist rivalries.

Everyone agrees that the Eurovision Song Contest is silly. Certainly Dana, the Irish politician and singer who won it in 1970, believes it has become so. This week she urged Ireland to withdraw from the 2008 competition, owing to the fact that a puppet called Dustin the Turkey is to represent her country. ‘I just think it’s making a mockery of the contest and if we think it’s such a big joke then let’s get out of it’, she said. ‘Certainly don’t put a turkey in a trolley up against singers who are desperately trying to make a way in their career.’ (1)"

Sun Sentinel: U.S. importers await Senate action on renewal of Andean trade law writes Doreen Hemlock - "but local flower growers hope it does not"

For the complete report from the Sun-Sentinel.com click on this link

Flower Industry - U.S. importers await Senate action on renewal of Andean trade law writes Doreen Hemlock - "but local flower growers hope it does not".

It's nail-biting time again for South Florida companies that buy roses, asparagus and other goods duty-free from Andean nations, as Congress waits until hours before expiration to renew a law allowing the products without import taxes. The U.S. House late Wednesday passed a 10-month extension for the Andean trade law that sunsets Friday. Importers now await Senate approval to help keep billions of dollars in trade flowing duty-free through South Florida. President George W. Bush has said he'll sign the law.

At issue is a law enacted in 1991 that lets Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia sell most goods duty-free to the United States to encourage exports of legal goods and stem sales of cocaine and illegal drugs. The law has helped the countries become major U.S. suppliers of flowers and made South Florida the U.S. flower import capital. Flowers now rank as the No. 1 import at Miami International Airport, the top U.S. airport for international freight. Note EU-Digest: Both Democratic Candidates Obama and Clinton have said that if elected they will review and if need be renegotiate all International Trade agreements including NAFTA.

Sun Sentinel: Sudan: President calls for Muslims to boycott Denmark

For the complete report from the Sun-Sentinel.com click on this link

Sudan: President calls for Muslims to boycott Denmark

President Omar al-Bashir vowed on Wednesday to ban Danes from Sudan and called for a Muslim boycott of Denmark before a crowd of tens of thousands denouncing the country at a government-backed protest against a cartoon satirizing the Prophet Muhammad. The rally outside al-Bashir's palace in Khartoum was the biggest protest in the Muslim world since Danish papers reprinted the cartoon, seen by many Muslims as insulting to their religion's most revered figure. The demonstration raised fears that renewed protests over the cartoon — so far small and scattered — could grow.

EUobserver.com: EU unity to be tested over US visa-free regime - by Renata Goldirova

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

EU unity to be tested over US visa-free regime - by Renata Goldirova

EU interior ministers are gathering in Brussels for what is likely to be a heated battle over how the European Union should react to new US travel security demands, with member states split between those who enjoy visa-free travel to the United States and those who do not.

But member states' diplomats, preparing the Thursday ministerial meeting, have failed to unite over a draft common position, as it suggested EU states should refrain from bilateral negotiations, sources told EUobserver. The commission has also distributed its own proposal of an EU-US memorandum of understanding, but this is also unlikely to fly. The debate has revealed deep divisions between EU states, with those who enjoy visa-free travel to the US on the one side and most of the rest of the bloc on the other side. Ireland was standing in the middle, one diplomat said.

New World Order 101: Long road from Kosovo to Kurdistan- Kosovo will have the Largest US military base since World War II - by Pepe Escobar

For the complete report from the New World Order 101 click on this link

Long road from Kosovo to Kurdistan- Kosovo will have the Largest US military base since World War II - by Pepe Escobar

The ongoing saga revolves around two crucial, interrelated facts on the ground: Pipelineistan and the empire of 737 (and counting) US military bases in 130 countries operated by 350,000-plus Americans. In short: it revolves around the trans-Balkan AMBO pipeline and Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, the the largest US base built in Europe in a generation. It also lays bare continuity from the Bill Clinton to the George W Bush administrations - the US dictating the rules of the game as if in a one-party state. Yugoslavia and Iraq also "taught" the world two lessons. From Clinton's humanitarian imperialism to Bush's "war on terror", it's all a matter of exclusive Washington prerogative. Blowback, of course, as Putin has warned, will be inevitable.

Washington and the three European Union heavyweights (France, Germany and Britain) have applauded Kosovo's independence. But this core of the self-described "international community" is caught in silent scream mode when confronted with the possibility of independence for Flanders in Belgium, northern Cyprus, the Serbian Republic of Bosnia, the Basque country in Spain, Gibraltar - not to mention Indian Kashmir (the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, JKLF, is already making some rumblings), Tibet, Taiwan, Abkahzia and South Ossetia (both in Georgia and both Russia-friendly), Palestine and Kurdistan. Northern Kosovo itself - totally Serbian-populated - and western Macedonia also don't qualify to become independent. So why Kosovo? Enter the AMBO pipeline and Camp Bondsteel.

2/27/08

ajc.com: US Pres. elections: McCain would beat Democrats in November


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

US Pres. elections: McCain would beat Democrats in November

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who has largely tied his candidacy to the war in Iraq, narrowly leads both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election matchup, according to a new Los Angeles Times-Bloomberg poll. Among those surveyed, McCain won higher marks than either Obama or Clinton for having the right experience and the ability to handle Iraq and terrorism — and most other issues, except health care.

Press TV: Medvedev-US threatens Europe stability

Press TV click on this link

Medvedev-US threatens Europe stability

"The US is putting Europe in a very difficult position by supporting Kosovo, it is far away and is not facing any risks, but Europe could go ablaze", First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday in a campaign speech in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. Medvedev who is likely to become Russia's next president also said that Kosovo's independence has "jeopardized security and stability of the whole region.'' Russia backs its ally Serbia in opposing Kosovo's independence and has warned Western states that recognizing Kosovo could set off a chain reaction of separatist unrest throughout Europe.

FT.com: Kosovo could end Scotland’s European dream - by Simon James

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

Kosovo could end Scotland’s European dream - by Simon James

Kosovo’s independence must have cheered Scotland’s nationalists. The birth of another, smaller state in Europe is, on the face of it, a distant but useful precedent for them. However, the diplomatic fallout over recognition of the newcomer has ominous implications for the separatists in minority government in Edinburgh. Half a dozen European Union states fear the example that is being set for ethnic minorities within their borders. If Scotland ever votes for independence these states could easily make an example of it by blocking Scottish membership of the EU. The opponents are vehement. Cyprus, determined to avoid any example that might confer legitimacy on the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, denounced Kosovo’s declaration of independence as “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia”, which, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the foreign minister, said “would set a dangerous precedent”.

EUobserver.com: Trade unions urge legal boost to right to strike in Europe

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

Europe's trade unions have demanded a legal boost to their right to strike following recent EU court judgements with implications for workers rights across the Union. They warn that if their fears that free market principles will take priority over Europe's social protection laws are not allayed then ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty – currently ongoing across the bloc - may be jeopardized. In the so-called Vaxholm case, the Luxembourg-based court ruled that Swedish unions had breached EU law when they forced a Latvian company to observe local pay deals, while the verdict on the Viking case suggested unions cannot strike against firms moving from one member state to another due to lower wages.

2/26/08

DLR: Space exploration: Europe sets a course for the ISS

The European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)


For the complete report from the DLR click on this link

Space exploration: Europe sets a course for the ISS

Europe will receive its own access to the International Space Station (ISS) by means of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space transporter. As the most complex spacecraft ever to be built in western Europe, the ATV represents a significant milestone for European space. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen is coordinating the communication between the ATV control centres, located throughout the world. In addition, the German re-igniteable upper stage engines of Ariane 5 were tested at the DLR facility in Lampoldshausen. The first ATV, which commenced its journey to the ISS in March 2008, is named after the French visionary and science fiction author Jules Verne. Four additional ATTV flights are planned for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

All ATVs are launched by Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guyana using a re-igniteable upper stage. As a result of the ATV flights, the Ariane 5 is now also an element of the logistics plan for the ISS. After separating itself from the upper stage the ATV performs the required rendezvous and docking manoeuvre at the space station by itself, monitored by the ATV control centre in Toulouse.The Automated Transfer Vehicle is an unmanned spacecraft that can transport freight to the ISS. It is approximately ten metres long and has a diameter of 4.5 metres. With its solar panels unfolded the ATV has a span of over 22 metres. The total mass of the Jules Verne when loaded and ready to launch is almost 20 tonnes.

Businessweek: Europe's Code for Sovereign Wealth Funds - by Sean O'Grady

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

Europe's Code for Sovereign Wealth Funds - by Sean O'Grady

The European Union will agree tomorrow on "a set of principles for transparency, predictability and accountability" for Sovereign Wealth Funds, according to the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Mr Barroso said that the European approach would be the first step towards a global code. Mr Barroso added that there were "real concerns" about some funds. "We cannot allow non-European funds to be run in an opaque manner or used as an implement of geopolitical strategy," he said.

Two groups of nations have built up Sovereign Wealth Funds. Oil exporters in the Middle East, Norway and Russia have often run such funds for many years. The oldest, the Kuwait Investment Authority, was inaugur-ated in 1953. More recently, Asian nations such as China and Singapore have used SWFs to re-cycle their trade surpluses with Europe and the US. Total funds available to SWFs now total a little over $2,000bn, with estimates that in five years' time, that figure could be over $10 trillion. By comparison, global traded equities are valued at around $28,000bn, and global bonds at $25,000bn.

Fox Business: ThreadGreen Industrial Limited Acquires a Commercial Real Estate Asset Located in Linden, Germany, for EUR 11.4 Million

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ThreadGreen Industrial Limited Acquires a Commercial Real Estate Asset Located in Linden, Germany, for EUR 11.4 Million

ThreadGreen Partners LLP announces the acquisition of a general purpose warehouse and distribution facility (the "Facility") located in Linden, Germany by ThreadGreen Industrial Limited. The asset is subject to a new 10-year lease agreement to COS Distribution GmbH. The property, with overall usable area totaling approximately 16,025 squared metres of warehouse and distribution space, was sold for EUR 11.4 Million to the Guernsey-based fund.

Salon: US elections - The dude vote - - women still not equal to men in the US - by Edward McClelland

For the complete report from Salon click on this link

US elections: The dude vote - women still not equal to men in the US - by Edward McClelland

The movies don't get any manlier than buddy cop flicks. They're romances for guys, portrayals of male marriage. Two men with clashing personalities -- the strait-laced family man, the trigger-happy hot shot -- team up to form a crime-fighting force that's more powerful than their individual egos. In the search for opposites, it's amazing how many movies cast a white guy and a black guy.

John Stodder, a 52-year-old blogger from Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif., looks at the presidential field and sees another buddy-cop pairing: John McCain and Barack Obama, supposed mavericks who break their parties' rules, bound together by a common mission -- keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House. "I wish they could run together," Stodder swoons. "They'd be like one of those old 1970s cop shows. The crusty old seen-it-all guy who goes by his gut, partnered with the brilliant rookie who's got courage to match his brains.

From George Washington to George W. Bush, the Oval Office has been a guy kind of place.

FinFacts: European Economic Forecast: Billowing Clouds in the US but no Recession in Europe; Globalisation can create European jobs

For the complete report from FinFacts please click on this link

European Economic Forecast: Billowing Clouds in the US but no Recession in Europe; Globalisation can create European jobs at greater rate than it destroys them

Despite the subprime-triggered financial crisis in the US, the European economy will continue to grow this year, but with less dynamism, according to the European Economic Advisory Group (EEAG) at CESifo, a unit of the Ifo Economics Institute, at the University of Munich.The seven European economists comprising the non-partisan advisory group, which includes Prof. Jan-Egbert Sturm of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, released their yearly report today in Brussels. In it, they forecast a GDP growth of 1.8 percent for the Eurozone, with a slightly higher figure of 2.1 percent for the EU27. This slowdown, they assert, would bring Europe back from a period of stormy growth to one that better reflects its potential.The factors driving European growth down are the appreciation of the euro against the dollar and the consequent reduction in US imports. Investment growth in Europe will decelerate, but employment will
continue to improve as a result of the still-positive output gap. Private consumption, in the face of creeping inflation and moderate wage increases, will grow at about the same rate as in 2007.

2/25/08

allAfrica.com: US Pres. Elections: Nothing Wrong With Identity Politics? - by Anne Mugisha

Obama in Kenya August 2006


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

US Pres; Elections: Nothing Wrong With Identity Politics?- by Anne Mugisha

An amazing election campaign has unfolded in America over the last two months. It has left many African-American women of the Democratic Party torn between loyalty to gender and loyalty to race. The difficulty of choosing between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama has given many 'sistas' a lot of grief. Whether to 'betray' gender and favor race has not been an easy decision and at a pre-election rally in California, billionaire talk-show host Oprah Winfrey revealed her own struggles with the issue when she told an audience that she was being accused of betraying her gender by picking Obama and campaigning for him vigorously. Her response: She had to follow her own truth and her truth led her to Obama.

Problems begin to emerge when one grouping assumes a superior claim for its own kind over others and hence the need for norms, rules and laws to ensure equality.

Note EU-Digest:With the strong support Obama is getting from all levels of the white voters around America, it is sad to note that the black population there is still struggling with the concept of race and identity. They have shown this so far in every primary contest of the Democratic primary elections this year by voting massively for race over gender and experience.

Boston Globe: US warns EU on using climate change as pretext for protectionism - by James Kanter and Stephen Castle

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

US warns EU on using climate change as pretext for protectionism - by James Kanter and Stephen Castle

The United States warned the European Union yesterday against using climate change as a pretext for protectionism, setting the stage for trans-Atlantic tension over a new package of EU measures to combat global warming.The pointed comments by the US trade representative, Susan Schwab, after talks in Brussels, came just two days before the European Commission introduced its proposals for cutting EU emissions at least 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

"We have been dismayed at a variety of suggestions where we have seen the climate and the environment being used as an excuse to close markets," Schwab said after discussions with Peter Mandelson, her European counterpart. EU officials hope that other developed countries like the United States, which did not sign the Kyoto climate treaty, will join an international treaty by the end of the decade, making protectionist measures unnecessary.

EU-Digest: : Is the Catholic Church a Cult?

A special report on the catholic church

Is the Catholic Church a cult?

To many Christians, the Roman Catholic Church is an enigma -- a mysterious ecclesiastical system of laws, rituals, and religious orders. For centuries there have been angry denouncements from Roman Catholics against Protestantism for the schism created by the Reformation, and from Protestants against Roman Catholicism for its theological errors and its claim to be the only one true church. Out of this controversy, charges have arisen that Roman Catholicism is not truly Christian, but is in fact, the largest and oldest "Christian" cult in the world.

The Christian Research Institute, (CRI), founded by the late Dr. Walter Martin, is regarded by many as the foremost authority on cults and the occult. The also see themselves as experts on what constitutes Biblical theology. CRI has produced position papers on Roman Catholicism, addressing some of the doctrines with which they are in disagreement. They have stopped short, however, of acknowledging Roman Catholicism as a cult. They are, in fact, adamant in their defense of Roman Catholicism as an orthodox Christian religion. In this regard, they have come against others for their insistence that Roman Catholicism meets the criteria of a cult. The Roman Catholic Church claims that salvation is by grace through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. But in practice and other teachings, how true is their affirmation of that crucial doctrine?

Historically, Roman Catholicism has maintained that Jesus merely made the way open for salvation. But to enter into that salvation, one must live in obedience to the authority of the papacy. In addition, Jesus' provision for salvation not being complete, the Church offers other means to assure one's salvation. It is through the Roman Catholic Church alone that salvation in its fullest sense can be attained.

Another sign of a cult is its exclusivity and insistence that it alone holds the authority as God's only true church. Rather than acknowledge that the true Church is comprised of individuals bound to God the Father through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a cult looks upon the organization itself -- that is, the hierarchical structure -- as the Church. This is true of Romanism.

Although the Roman Catholic Church admits today that God's grace is active in non-Catholic Christians, non catholics are referred to as "separated brethren" (which the Roman Church, through its ecumenical movement, hopes to some day bring into fellowship under its authority). According to Romanism, unless we acquiesce to this movement toward "unity," we remain outside the graces of the Church, regardless of how much in God's grace we live. "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God" (Vatican Council II, p. 456). "Whatever way we look at the Catholic Church the only thing one can conclude: they are a cult."

CSM: Christianity - Many Americans switch religious denominations, study finds - by Jane Lampman

For the complete report from the Christian Science Monitor click on this link

Many Americans switch religious denominations, study finds- by Jane Lampman

Almost half of Americans have moved to a different religious denomination from that in which they were raised, and 28 percent have switched to a different major tradition or to no religion (i.e., from Roman Catholic to Protestant, Jewish to unaffiliated). The fluidity is combining with immigration to spur dramatic changes in the religious landscape. Protestantism appears on the verge of losing its majority status. The number of "unaffiliated" Americans has doubled, to 16 percent. One-third of Catholics are now Latino and the religion is depending on immigration to maintain its share of the population. These shifts are captured in a survey released Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

EUobserver.com: Franco-German summit postponed amidst speculation of rift - by Honor Mahony

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Franco-German summit postponed amidst speculation of rift- by Honor Mahony

A planned meeting between the leaders of France and Germany for 3 March has been postponed until June amid speculation that disagreement over Paris' proposed Mediterranean Union is the cause. According to a report in German daily Die Welt on Friday, the mini-summit between President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel will now take place three months later, on 9 June, as the two sides are unable to find a common position on the proposed union.Mr Sarkozy's proposal for a Mediterranean Union, involving a union of EU and non-EU Mediterranean states - including Turkey - has caused concern in Brussels and particular criticism in Germany, both of which fear that existing EU policies towards the area will be undermined.

German secretary of state for European affairs Guenter Gloeser last week repeated Berlin's line on the issue, saying that cooperation between the countries around the Mediterranean must take place "within the framework of the existing European institutions."

A $12 billion history lesson

International Herald Tribune

"TURKEY AND ARMENIA
A $12 billion history lesson

Last week, a senior French official flew to Istanbul to discuss Turkey's exclusion of Gaz de France from an $12 billion pipeline project - designed to bring Central Asian oil directly to European markets - because of recent French legislation making it a criminal offense to deny that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 constituted genocide.

The Turkish government clearly takes history seriously. Just last October, when the United States Congress considered a bill similar to the French genocide legislation - without the punitive dimension - Turkey threatened to restrict airspace vital to the American military efforts in Iraq. Washington backed off."

Afghanistan: America Wrong, Europe Right

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

America Wrong, Europe Right

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is again beating up on Europeans for not doing more in Afghanistan, a now familiar theme in his blame-anybody-but-us strategy. With 3,200 more Marines being deployed to the country to stem the Taliban resurgence and with a new military focus on Pakistan -- and with the Iraq war seemingly put in the "pause" box -- Gates has found religion in the other war against terrorism. Speaking to NATO two weeks ago, he questioned why some were "ready to fight and die in order to protect people's security and others ... are not." In Australia this weekend, he lauded our Pacific ally's contribution, warning that military failure in Afghanistan could lead to more terrorism in Europe.

The public image that Gates has created is not only that the European contributions are weak and worthless, but that if there were more shooters from Europe, somehow the war would be going better. This is a false proposition: The Afghanistan war may require a renewal, and it may even demand greater resources. But the notion that we can just ship the Iraq surge strategy to the country and win is thoughtless, and the non-lethal European approach, as slow and excruciating as it might be to the Bush administration, is ultimately the right approach.

EurActiv.com - MEPs adopt measures to strengthen internal goods market

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MEPs adopt measures to strengthen internal goods market

Parliament has adopted a package of measures to enhance free trade within the bloc after it emerged that many member states are blocking imports of specific products from other EU countries on the basis that they do not meet particular national technical standards.

The Commission pushed ahead, on 22 February, with its drive to unburden small and medium enterprises operating in Europe, proposing to axe, among others, a number of translation, accounting and statistical reporting requirements. Trade within the EU received a fresh boost in Parliament this week (18-22 February) with the approval of simplified customs procedures and new rules aimed at reinforcing the "mutual recognition" of national quality standards on goods marketed within the EU.

The Belmont Club: EU withdraws from Northern Kosovo?

For the complete report from The Belmont Club click on this link

EU withdraws from Northern Kosovo?

"Hopes for a peaceful conclusion to the declaration of Kosovo's independence were fading as the European Union announced it had withdrawn its staff from the north of the fledgling country in the face of increasingly angry Serb protests." So begins the utterly predictable reaction of the EU to Serb anger as their "army in suits" pre-emptively withdraws.

The wider impact of the Kosovo crisis is the precedent that it sets for many of the "frozen conflicts" of the world, ranging from Azerbaijan to the Basque region. Remarkably, many Muslim countries have refused to recognize Kosovo. And their reluctance is fueled in part by the desire to avoid stirring up separatism. Therefore Kosovo has been sold by the EU and the US as an "exception" to the general rule. The problem is that the Serbs are taking the cue from the Kosovars. If Kosovo can split from Serbia why can't Serbian regions split from Kosovo? The EU believed that by throwing a protective blanket of "suits" around the Serbs in the north that Kosovo might be held together. But as the experience of Iraq shows, stabilization can only occur where security is guaranteed. The crisis that will face Western policy in Kosovo is whether they are up to providing "security" which is another word for military force, to back up their "army of suits". The suits can't deploy without the uniforms.

2/24/08

Playbill News: Oscars : EU's Movie Stars Javier Bardem (Spain), Marion Cotillard (France), Among Winners

Marion Cotillard - Best Actress Academy Award


For the complete report from Playbill News click on this link

Oscars : EU's Movie Stars Bardem (Spain), Cotillard (France), Among Winners

Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as the famed French chanteuse Edith Piaf in the film "La Vie en Rose." Other winners at the 80th Academy Awards, which are currently being presented on ABC-TV, include Javier Bardem and Tilda Swinton as well as Joel and Ethan Coen. Emmy Award winner Jon Stewart hosts the annual awards ceremony, which is being broadcast live from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center. Best Foreign Film Award went to another EU country for "Counterfeiters" from Austria.

Prensa Latina: Raúl Castro Elected President of Cuba

For the complete report from the Prensa Latina click on this link

Raúl Castro Elected President of Cuba

Cuba´s National Assembly of People´s Power today elected Raul Castro Ruz as president of the Council of State for the next five years.

For the video report from liveLeak "Who is Raoul Castro click on this link

TimesOnline: Silvio Berlusconi does not deserve another chance of power in Italy- by Brownwen Maddox

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Silvio Berlusconi does not deserve another chance of power in Italy - by Brownwen Maddox

The prospect should be unthinkable, but polls suggest that Italians may pick Silvio Berlusconi for a third stint as prime minister in their quest for a government. Leave aside the conflict of interest with his media and business empire, and his amendment, while in office, of laws on penal justice that helped him to sidestep charges of false accounting. Leave aside, too, for a moment, his reform of the electoral laws that has returned Italy to the days of splintering governments that cannot withstand the strain of difficult decisions for much more than a year. But even considering his record in office, there is not enough to warrant a return. If people want to attempt a justification, they point to two slivers of reform on pensions and employment. That is all they can do, because there are no other cases where Berlusconi clearly acted for Italy's benefit rather than his own.

BBC NEWS: Prostitution in Europe - Can you outlaw the oldest profession? - by Dan Bell

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Prostitution in Europe - Can you outlaw the oldest profession? - by Dan Bell

In December, British Women's Minister Harriet Harman said paying for sex should be made illegal. The argument is that if you stamp out demand, then you will stamp out the trade. But is it possible to legislate the oldest profession out of existence? One country that has tried is Sweden. In 1999 Sweden outlawed paying for sex. Anyone who is caught is liable for a fine or a six-month prison sentence. The Swedish government says there has been a decrease in street prostitution, kerb crawling and the number of women entering the trade.

CNN.Com: When credit cards put you in jeopardy - by Gerri Willis

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When credit cards put you in jeopardy - by Gerri Willis

Consumers have racked up more than $2.2 trillion in purchases and cash advances on major credit cards in just the last year. And it's become a habit for them to spend more than they have. The overall credit card debt grew by 315 percent from 1989 to 2006, according to public policy research firm Demos. To compound the problem, fewer people are paying their credit cards bills on time. The percentage of people delinquent on their credit cards is the highest it's been in three years, according to CardTrack.com. With banks tightening their standards and the drumbeat of recession getting louder, there's no better time to grab control of your debt now.

Global Research.CA: The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases including those in Europe - by Professor Jules Dufour

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The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases including those in Europe - by Professor Jules Dufour

The US has established its control over 191 governments which are members of the United Nations. The conquest, occupation and/or otherwise supervision of these various regions of the World is supported by an integrated network of military bases and installations which covers the entire Planet (Continents, Oceans and Outer Space). All this pertains to the workings of an extensive Empire, the exact dimensions of which are not always easy to ascertain. Known and documented from information in the public domaine including Annual Reports of the US Congress, we have a fairly good understanding of the structure of US military expenditure, the network of US military bases and the shape of this US military-strategic configuration in different regions of the World. The objective of this article is to build a summary profile of the World network of military bases, which are under the jurisdiction and/or control of the US. The spatial distribution of these military bases is examined by Prof. Jules Dufour together with an analysis of the multi-billion dollar annual cost of their activities.

KalingaTimes.com: Oscars - For Bollywood, Oscars a big yawn again - Academy tends to favor European films as foreign nominations - by Priyanka Khanna

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Oscars - For Bollywood Oscars a big yawn again - Academy tends to favor European films as foreign nominations - by Priyanka Khanna

While the 80th Academy Awards for Merit has the global entertainment industry electrified, it has yet again bypassed India , the world's largest producers of films. Known as the world's most prestigious movie award, the glittering 13.5-inch statuette of a knight holding a crusader's sword on a reel of film continues to evade India , a land where filmmaking began at about the same time as the rest of the world. "Eklavya - The Royal Guard", India 's official entry this year for the Academy Award in Best Foreign Film category, failed to make it to the final list. It does seem the Academy tends to favor European films with France leading the foreign language film nominations with 34 in total and having bagged nine Oscars, and Italy following with 27 nominations and 10 wins. But the Oscar has also gone to movies with people from Arab, Far East and Slavic backgrounds.

Indian films never seem to have fitted the Oscar bill. Satyajit Ray, whom the Academy conferred with the "Lifetime Achievement Award" on his deathbed, never bagged a film-specific award. His "Pather Panchali" won 11 international awards, but no Oscar.

DW: Europeans Hopeful US Democrats Will Rescue Trans-Atlantic Ties

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Europeans Hopeful US Democrats Will Rescue Trans-Atlantic Ties

Europeans think the next US president will be better. They hope a Democrat in the White House will reinvigorate trans-Atlantic ties. But the candidates aren't necessarily much more in tune with Europe. Europeans' interest in the US primaries and caucuses is immense: leading German newsmagazine Der Spiegel even devoted its title story to Democrat Barack Obama last week, and the Internet is alive with young Europeans commenting on the campaigns in innumerable blogs and forums.

Regardless of how passionately Europeans follow the duel between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Europe plays a negligible role in the top Democratic contenders' campaigns. Aside from a few sentences in speeches and essays, the two have hardly said a word about Europe. And according to some, European hopes will likely be dashed.

"A fundamental new evaluation of the trans-Atlantic relationship will not take place," said Esther Brimmer, research director at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. But the tone will change.

ArabianBusiness.com: Germany returns - by Belabbes Benkreadda

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Germany returns - by Belabbes Benkreadda

After many years of stagnation, the world's leading export economy is back in full swing. Earlier this month, a UAE delegation led by Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum visited Berlin to woo German investors and boost bilateral relations with the UAE.

When Michael Glos presented Germany's Annual Economic Report 2008 in late January, the economy minister had all reason for optimism: Germany remains on an impressive expansion course, the economic recovery is making itself felt among the people, and the government reforms are finally paying off. Instead of the 1.8% growth predicted in the 2007 report, the economy grew by 2.5%, and unemployment is now down to 9% - the lowest level since 1995. Compared to previous phases of recovery, unemployment is falling significantly faster. Consumer confidence increased substantially, and private disposable income is expected to grow by 2.7% faster than consumer prices in 2008.

2/23/08

IIniaMuslims.com : India to talk to British officials in euro 6.75 bn Eurofighter deal - by Ians

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India to talk to British officials in euro 6.75 bn Eurofighter deal - by Ians

The Indian government wants to talk to British rather than German negotiators in discussions on a possible euro 6.75 billion deal for the purchase of Eurofighter Tyhoons, a newspaper reported Friday. The Times said the Indian government wanted officials from British Aerospace (BAE) Systems and the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) to take over the negotiations from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and the German government. The Indian Air Force is reported to be considering the Eurofighter as part of a programme to replace 126 Soviet-made jets. The multi role combat aircraft, which is competing with the US-built F-16, F-18 and the Russian MIG-29 for the IAF order, is manufactured by a consortium of BAE systems (Britain), EADS (Germany and Spain) and Alenia FinMeccanica (Italy).

The Daily Star -- Europe is weak and it may be disappointed, whoever wins the US election - by Joschka Fischer

Where is the beef?


For the complete report from The Daily Star click on this link

Europe is weak and it may be disappointed, whoever wins the US election - by by Joschka Fischer

"The world sees the EU as a model that has successfully linked economic success with social equality. But today's Europe is a contradiction. It is a land of peace, democracy, and the rule of law. It is also a land of prosperity with a competitive economy, strong currency, low inflation, and standards of living that are among the highest in the world. Europeans benefit from very high levels of social protection and inexpensive, high-quality education, strict environmental standards, and excellent infrastructure. In addition, Europe has unmatched cultural diversity and great natural beauty.

But politically, Europe is a dwarf — and shrinking. Ours is a century of large states and the further rise of China, India, the US, and Japan will soon make the largest European powers look puny. Even today, the three largest EU members barely manage to offset Europe's loss of political weight, much less stem the tide. Without a strong EU, this development will only intensify.

It is because the EU lacks unity on key issues. How can it expect to solve the problems of the world if it cannot solve its own problem of disunity? The 27 member EU is powerful and more affluent than Russia but it does not address the current disputes with Russia in one voice. Some EU governments want a stern attitude to be taken towards Russia over energy and human rights issues. Others want to look the other way in the interest of commercial gains. This despite Russia's recent threat to use nuclear might to protect its security. Russia is nervous over the EU's expansion to its borders.

The EU cannot agree over Kosovo, a very serious trouble spot along with Turkey. Slovakia, Romania, Spain and Greece harbor reservations about Kosovo's independence,while some member countries will not hear of EU membership for Turkey. Others warn against the danger of rebuffing Turkey - it could push the country, which sits on huge reserves of natural gas, into the waiting arms of Iran and Russia.

Note EU-Digest: Joschka Fischer has certainly hit the "nail on the head". Unfortunately Europe at this point in time is a "clay tiger". All that needs to happen is for some rain to fall on our precious experiment in the form of a Russian energy blackmail, disunity on Kosovo, a conflict with Iran, or failure on developing a common policy on the placement of US missiles in Europe, and the "EU clay tiger" could dissolve again into the mud cesspool of bickering nations we used to be. At times we have been critical of US policies and politics, but when it comes to rallying around common causes or showing some patriotism on issues of importance to guarantee a better future for our children, the US beats us Europeans hands down.

Russia threatens to use force over Kosovo - Steven Edwards

For the complete from the National Post click on this link

Russia threatens to use force over Kosovo - by Steven Edwards

The international split over Kosovo grew more ominous Friday as Russia raised the spectre of using force to back its Serb ally's bid to retain the territory. Russia's envoy to NATO warned both the Western military alliance, which has a 16,000-strong peacekeeping force in Kosovo, and the European Union against formally backing the ethnic-Albanian leadership's declaration of independence from Serbia.

"If the European Union works out a common position, or if NATO breaches its mandate in Kosovo, these organizations will be in conflict with the United Nations," said Dmitry Rogozin, alluding to Russia's position that a UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo does not authorize a unilateral move to independence.

2/22/08

Guardian.co.uk: Russian energy ties with Iran send U.S. a message - by Simon Webb and Amie Ferris-Rotman

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Russian energy ties with Iran send U.S. a message - by Simon Webb and Amie Ferris-Rotman

As the United States warns the world away from business with Tehran, Moscow's tightening ties to Iran's energy sector underline Russia's differences with Washington over Iranian nuclear plans and Kosovo's independence. While the timing of Moscow's announcement on Tuesday may have been political, the deal for Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to take on big new Iranian oil and gas projects was a long time in the making and dovetails with Gazprom's strategic ambitions, analysts said. Gazprom, the world's biggest gas producer, will play a larger role in developing Iran's giant South Pars gas field and will also drill for oil. "The Russian government and the United States are at loggerheads over how to engage with Iran, with Russia actively favoring a more open relationship," said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. "This makes Gazprom rather indifferent to American policy wishes."

Bloomberg.com: Europe Services Growth Accelerated More Than Forecast - by Sandrine Rastello

Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

Europe Services Growth Accelerated More Than Forecast - by Sandrine Rastello

Growth in Europe's service industries accelerated more than economists forecast in February, prompting investors to reduce bets on European Central Bank interest-rate cuts. A preliminary estimate of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's services index rose to 52.3 from 50.6 in January. Economists expected a reading of 51, according to the median of 38 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The euro rose as the report indicated economic growth in Europe is withstanding a slowdown in the U.S. and U.K., reducing the need for the ECB to lower borrowing costs. While the European Commission yesterday cut its forecast for the euro region's 2008 expansion to 1.8 percent, the weakest since 2005, it predicted accelerating inflation.

FT.com: America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns - by Martin Wolf


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America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns - by Martin Wolf

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

Reuters: MasterCard Faces Probe, Details Auction- Rate Issues - by Svea Herbst-Bayliss

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MasterCard Faces Probe, Details Auction-Rate Issues - by Svea Herbst-Bayliss

Credit-card company MasterCard Inc. said on Thursday that financial regulators in Hungary are probing its interchange fees in Europe at a time these fees are coming under close scrutiny around the world. The European Commission has already cracked down on MasterCard when it told the company late last year to cut its interchange fees within six months or face heavy fines. In the same filing MasterCard also said that it faced some problems in the auction-rate securities market this month, which recently became the latest victim of the global credit crisis as liquidity dried up.

MasterCard shares fell as much as 3 percent before paring losses to trade down 2.3 percent, or $4.72, at $203.50 late Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

RNW: Soccer in the Netherland - Johan Cruyff the Saviour has come back to Ajax

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Soccer in the Netherland - Johan Cruyff the Saviour has come back to Ajax

Amsterdam's top soccer club Ajax is at the mercy of football legend Johan Cruyff once again. Following a crushingly critical inquiry into the management of the football club, the members of Ajax called in honorary club member Cruyff, who is 60, to revamp the club's organisation. He will again make football itself the core business of Ajax. Cruyff has made it clear that he will only act as an advisor. He has ruled out that he will be a member of the management board, nor will he be technical director.

On Tuesday the Ajax members' board asked Mr Cruyff for his views on the technical approach that Ajax should take. In a brief interview on Dutch tv he explained that he will "simply say how things should change, making projects and finding the right people for that".

Atlantic.com - US elections - A Final Thought On Tonight's Debate - by Marc Ambinder

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US elections - A Final Thought On Tonight's Debate - by Marc Ambinder

This was the night where we all learned that Hillary Clinton understands the moment in history we are in, and that she is smart enough and gracious enough to realize that her party is more important than personal vanity, that there are things she just cannot say about Obama because it would hurt him in the fall, and that more likely than not, she will not win the nomination. Make no mistake: she still thinks she can win. But her final answer sent a message to her party: this won't be decided by superdelegates. If Obama beats me in Texas and Ohio, the last thing I'm going to do is stand in the way of his nomination. It was a moment of pure vulnerability, arguably her finest of the campaign.

2/21/08

Information Week: Microsoft Rivals Skeptical Of Software Maker's Openness Pledge -- Paul McDougall

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Microsoft Rivals Skeptical Of Software Maker's Openness Pledge -- Paul McDougall

"The world needs a permanent change in Microsoft's behavior, not just another announcement," said the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, which counts among its members Sun Microsystems, Adobe, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, and several other vendors that compete with Microsoft. ECIS has long accused Microsoft of deliberately withholding, or overcharging for, the protocols members need to make their products work with the Windows operating system and other Microsoft software. Europe's competition watchdog last month launched two new antitrust investigations into Microsoft's business practices following a complaint from ECIS. The European Commission is eyeing the possibility that Microsoft is violating monopoly laws by failing to make its products interoperable with competitors' offerings and by illegally bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with the Windows operating system. Partly in response to those complaints, Microsoft said Thursday that it's adopting four new "interoperability principles" to guide its business practices.

Yahoo News: US elections: Letter to Our European Friends - by P.J.Orourke

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Letter to Our European Friends - by P.J.Orourke

US elections: Letter to Our European Friends - by P.J.Orourke

America is in the midst of an all-important electoral campaign. But, talking to Europeans, I've discovered that there is puzzlement and misinformation on your continent about what's happening on ours. Europeans feel an understandable confusion when faced with a political system consisting of two houses of Congress and a White House, and nobody is home in any of them.Also, America's political parties are indistinguishable to the European eye. A British journalist once described the situation thus: "America is a one-party state, but just like Americans they've got two of them."

The difference between American parties is actually simple. Democrats are in favor of higher taxes to pay for greater spending, while Republicans are in favor of greater spending, for which the taxpayers will pay. There are two factors in American politics that may seem strange to Europeans, race and religion. You, of course, don't have any religion. Except every now and then someone who came to Europe lately and is a Muslim blows himself to bits. But I understand that you have EU funding to address these social problems and help Muslims build bombs that release fewer pollutants and less carbon dioxide, reducing the threat of global warming.

thiscantbehappening: Just when you think the US media couldn't get any worse - by dlindorff

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Just when you think the US media couldn't get any worse - by dlindorff

Obama, whose oratorical skills have left the robotic and monotonous Hillary Clinton sounding like a pull-string Barbie on the stump (remember "Math is hard!"?), has had the Clinton campaign frantically casting around for a rejoinder, and the best they could come up with to date was a charge that he's "all hat and no cattle" (itself a line lifted, uncredited, from Texas populist Jim Hightower, if I recall, though I think it has an older lineage among Texans, and has been appropriately applied to President Bush on numerous occasions). Obama decided to respond using some of Patrick's lines.

Now, one could argue that Obama would have been better advised to give fair attribution to Gov. Patrick, but since when have politicians gone around putting footnotes on their public speeches? Most political speeches are excercises in cut and paste, full of regurgitated pablum and lifted quotes. If plagiarism were a political crime, 90 percent of members of Congress would be out on their ears. (For that matter, if plagiarism were a crime, Hillary Clinton herself would be behind bars. Her book, "It Takes a Village," was largely written by Barbara Feinman, a Georgetown University journalism prof who was reportedly offered $120,000 for the job, but her name appeared nowhere in the volume, which Clinton still claims as her own work.)

PKK Criminal Networks and Fronts in Europe

www.washingtoninstitute.org:

"PKK Criminal Networks and Fronts in Europe
By Abdulkadir Onay
February 21, 2008

On February 13, Frank Urbancic, deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, told CNN-Turk, 'The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is like the mafia all over Europe.' He added that in addition to its terrorist presence in Europe, the PKK has an 'octopus-like structure carrying out criminal activity, including drug and people smuggling' to raise funds, as well as 'fronts that provide cover to the organization's criminal and terror activities.'"

DW: Serbia: Rioters Set Fire to US Belgrade Embassy Amid Massive Protests

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Rioters Set Fire to US Belgrade Embassy Amid Massive Protests

Scores of Serbs broke into the American embassy in Belgrade and set it ablaze on Thursday, Feb. 21, amid mass protests against US and EU support of Kosovo's declaration of independence. Smoke billowed from the US embassy in Belgrade on Thursday, Feb. 21, as hundreds of thousands massed in the Serbian capital for an emotive rally against Kosovo's declaration of independence.

ABC News: US economy: The Next Financial Crisis? "will it impact Europe"? - by Charles Herman

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US economy: The Next Financial Crisis? - "will it impact Europe ?" - by Charles Herman

As bond insurers struggle, it is another sign that banks will have mounting losses, which will make it harder for average Americans to get necessary financing for things like mortgages and credit for purchases.Starting last summer, as more and more homeowners began to default on their mortgages, banks wrote off billions of dollars in investments, based on those loans. In turn, banks turned off the lending spigot, making it harder to get a mortgage, or for businesses to make billion-dollar deals. All of that has fed into the recent economic slowdown, and what has been called a "credit crunch," a "liquidity crisis," or a "seizing up of the credit markets."

2/20/08

IHT: Cheers! France's wine industry has record year in 2007

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Cheers! France's wine industry has record year in 2007

France's wine and spirit industry scored record exports in 2007, with triple-digit surges in China and an exuberant performance from the star of French wines, Champagne. France sent nearly 9.4 billion euros, or about $13.8 billion, worth of wines and spirits abroad in 2007, an increase of nearly 7 percent year-on-year, the French Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters announced Wednesday. Growth in China more than doubled to nearly 247 million euros ($364 million) worth of alcohol. The country of 1.3 billion people, and a growing middle class discovering a taste for wine and already fond of cognac, was the 11th-largest market by value for French wines and spirits in 2007. Barely a decade ago, wine buyers' choices outside of the poshest hotels, restaurants or stores were mostly limited to Chinese-made rot-gut.

Bloomberg.com: Airbus Has 310 Firm Orders for A350 Planes, CEO Says - by Chan Sue Ling and James Gunsalus

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Airbus Has 310 Firm Orders for A350 Planes, CEO Says - by Chan Sue Ling and James Gunsalus

Airbus SAS, the world's biggest planemaker, has firm orders for 310 of its long-range A350 jets, Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said today. Production slots for all of the aircraft-maker's planes are full for the next six years, he added at a Singapore Airshow news briefing. The company plans to increase production to 54 aircraft a month by 2010, he said.

Forbes.com: Europe's Silver LinING - by Vidya Ram

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Europe's Silver LinING - by Vidya Ram

Some much-needed cheer for Europe's beleaguered financial sector came from Dutch insurance and banking firm ING Groep on Wednesday. Not only did the firm's profits grow 18.1% during a fourth quarter which tripped up many of its competitors, but the $285.3 million in write-downs it had announced were smaller than many had been expecting.

NZherald: Europe's weaknesses laid bare (+video) - Catherine Field

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Europe's weaknesses laid bare (+video) - Catherine Field

A craze of fault lines appeared across the political map of Europe yesterday as the continent grappled with Kosovo's proclamation of independence. European Union foreign ministers struggled to agree on a statement that would paper over cracks within the 27-nation bloc. The major EU powers declared they would recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state, but some dragged their feet or even branded the declaration of independence as illegal.

Note EU-Digest: the above shows once again the weakness of the EU. There is no unity and everyone seems to be playing their own political game when it comes to foreign policy. Also absolutely no unity in dealing with energy supplies. This has resulted that the Russians are being able to make separate deals with individual nations as to energy supplies instead of the EU using their combined economic force to set the rules. This also goes for dealing with the Russians as they have "bogus" companies controlled by the Russian government enter the European financial markets. The list could go on and on. This is not the way for the EU to succeed.

EUobserver.com:Sweden demands EU role for leaders of future presidency countries - by Lucia Kubosova

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Sweden demands EU role for leaders of future presidency countries - by Lucia Kubosova

Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt has said the EU should outline a list of co-chairing tasks for leaders of future presidency countries after the new post of EU president is established. Speaking to journalists after his address to the European Parliament on Tuesday (19 February), the Mr Reinfeldt suggested that if there is no role for EU leaders in the future, it could have a negative impact on their engagement with the bloc's agenda.

Mr Reinfeldt, for his part, insisted that enlargement is "close to the hearts of the Swedish people," arguing it should not be marred by "critical voices" from some quarters. "Without continuing enlargement, we would run the risk of instability on our own continent. Enlargement is the most important strategic instrument for disseminating the values that European cooperation is founded on," he said. "We demolished one wall in Europe. We should not start building a new wall against Turkey or other European countries." Some criticised the fact that different countries publicly hold very different positions on EU membership hopefuls. "You should speak to your colleague Sarkozy about Turkey," said the leader of the Socialists, Martin Schulz. "It can't go on like this, with different prime ministers sending different messages" to candidate countries, said the German MEP.

2/19/08

Jerusalem Post: Dutch anti-Semitism revisited - by Manfried Gerstenfeld

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Dutch anti-Semitism revisited - by Manfried Gerstenfeld

A poll taken earlier this month in the Netherlands found that only 53 percent of the Dutch would consider voting for a Jewish prime minister. In the rankings, Jews figured far behind women (93%), homosexuals (78%) and blacks (75%), but well before Muslims (27%) and people over 70.

The xenophobic findings of the Dutch poll are worse than those of an earlier British one. In the Netherlands, 31 percent considered a Jewish prime minister unacceptable and 16 percent had no opinion. A poll conducted at the beginning of 2004 in the UK concluded that almost 20% of Britons thought that a Jewish prime minister would be "less acceptable" than a non-Jewish one. This was particularly relevant at the time when the then Conservative leader Michael Howard was Jewish, albeit highly acculturated.

Note EU-Digest:
"polls in a democratic society usually reflect perceptions of people on whatever issue they are being questioned. The poor rankings for Muslims and Jews in this Dutch survey certainly can not be blamed on the Dutch population or its government. People all over the world, including the Netherlands, are continuously fed "blood dripping" news in their living room on atrocities in the Middle East, with Jews and Muslims as its main actors. It therefore does not take an Einstein to figure out that Dutch citizens, when questioned, are presently not super enthusiastic about having a Muslim or a Jew to be their Prime Minister. It has nothing to do with religion but all about perception".

Xinhua: China, EU leading Third Industrial Revolution says expert

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China, EU leading Third Industrial Revolution says expert

China and the European Union (EU) are leading a Third Industrial Revolution, paving the way to a sustainable economic era in the 21st century, a world renowned expert said here Tuesday. "There are three essential pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution which must be simultaneously developed and fully integrated for any one of these components to fully realized its potential and for the new economic paradigm to become operational: renewable energy, storage technology, and smart power grids," Jereny Rifkin, adviser to EU and U.S. governments and Fortune 500 companies, said at the CHINA NOW Sustainability Conference held in London.

The EU has begun the journey toward a Third Industrial Revolution by making a binding commitment that 20 percent of all EU energy be generated by renewable sources of energy of 2020 while China pledged in its 11th Five-Year Plan to have renewable energy rise to 15 percent in energy consumption by 2020. The EU and China are both engaged in developing technologies to store intermittent forms of renewable energy and creating intelligent utility networks to allow distributed forms of renewable energy, he said.

BBC NEWS: End of Castro's half century in power - by Michael Voss

Castro - a political icon resigns


For the complete report from the BBC click on this link

End of Castro's half century in power - by Michael Voss

The news that Fidel Castro is stepping down as president after almost 50 years in power came in the middle of the night, through the online edition of the official Communist party newspaper Granma.

Under the headline "Message from the Commander in Chief", the 81-year-old revolutionary leader wrote: "I will not aspire to nor accept - I repeat, I will not aspire to nor accept - the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief." This effectively marks the end of an era. Mr Castro has ruled this Caribbean island since the revolution in 1959. Most Cubans have known no other leader or system, with more than 70% of the population born after the revolution.

Mr Castro pursued an egalitarian society, with free health-care and education. Mr Castro handed temporary power to his brother Raul a year-and-a-half ago after undergoing emergency surgery. A year-and-a-half later and Raul Castro appears to be firmly in control. But in a keynote speech last year Raul Castro told the nation that "structural and conceptual" changes were needed to get the island's faltering economy back on its feet. All of this has raised widespread expectations that major economic changes at least are on the way. In recent months Raul Castro has initiated a wide-sweeping internal debate over what changes people want to see.

Andrew Johnston from Leeds in the UK writes: "Castro led a regime that successfully looked after the basic needs of its people for 50 years, and he did it in the face of an American embargo. When one looks at the sorry state of the other countries in 'America's back-yard' one can only salute a man who was able to look after his own in defiance of the world's greatest military super-power. One of the last towering giants of politics will be lamented in this age of clown Prime Ministers and buffoon Presidents".

AlterNet: European Arms Manufacturers Pump Weapons into Troubled Regions - by David Cronia

For the complete report from AlterNet click on this link

European Arms Manufacturers Pump Weapons into Troubled Regions

Despite the EU code of conduct, European corporations continue to supply the world's most dangerous groups with arms. A stronger law is needed.Located in the west of the country, Eldoret is also home to an ammunition factory opened in the mid-1990s by the Belgian company FN Herstal. The plant has been blamed earlier for providing supplies to armed factions in the genocide that swept through Rwanda in 1994. Now Amnesty International has documented human rights violations by Kenyan forces using weapons manufactured at the same site. The continued involvement of a firm from the European Union in Kenya comes despite a decade-old EU code of conduct on arms sales. The code stipulates that licenses to export weapons cannot be issued if there is a threat they will be used for internal repression or in armed conflicts. But because the bullets in Eldoret are made outside the EU, they are not covered by the code.

The EU's governments agreed in 2005 to make compliance with it mandatory. Yet the formal steps needed to give effect to that decision have not yet been taken, largely due to the stance adopted by France. Paris has indicated it would only be prepared to agree to upgrade the code's legal status when an EU arms embargo on China, imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, is lifted.

IHT: Kosovo - Behind the scenes, EU splits over Kosovo - by Stephen Castle

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

Kosovo - Behind the scenes, EU splits over Kosovo - by Stephen Castle

Confronted by Kosovo's declaration of independence, a divided European Union on Monday agreed to differ over the legitimacy of Europe's newest nation. Britain, France, Italy and Germany said they would grant recognition, and the United States did as well. After several hours of tortuous negotiation, EU foreign ministers averted open conflict over the principle established by Kosovo's independence, issuing a statement noting that the decision on formal recognition lay with national capitals. Once again, the issues of identity and land raised by the long, violent dissolution of the old Yugoslavia split the nations of Europe. And Kosovo's status has assumed global significance because of the precedent independence could set for separatist movements elsewhere.

AP: US Elections - Clinton Campaign Issues Economic Plan for America

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Clinton Campaign Issues Economic Plan for America

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign released a 13-page blueprint for fixing the economy Monday, detailing Mrs. Clinton's plans to achieve universal health care, address the home foreclosure crisis and develop jobs for the middle class."Over the past seven years, big corporations and special interests have been given a free pass to profit, often at the expense of the American worker", says Mrs. Clinton. As President, Mrs. Clinton says she will make it a priority to scale back special benefits and subsidies to these corporations and put those resources to work for our economy again."

It also describes Clinton's plan for creating new jobs through investments in infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and levees and "green-collar" jobs that would help reduce dependence on foreign oil. The New York senator also details her ideas for improving trade agreements, making college more affordable and expanding family and medical leave programs. Mrs. Clinton's plan to rein in the special interests will take back at least $55 billion per year from drug companies, oil companies and firms that ship jobs overseas and invest those resources to improve the lives of working families.

Note EU-Digest: For a copy of Mrs. Clinton's economic blue print for America click on this link

Relief Web: Iraq, EU to increase aid for health care of Iraqi refugees in Syria

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Iraq, EU to increase aid for health care of Iraqi refugees in Syria

The European Union (EU) here Monday signed an agreement with Syria on increasing financial aid worth 9 million euros (13 million U.S. dollars) to modernize health care utilities for Iraqi refugees in Syria. "The said amount will be used to supply 50 health care centers and a number of hospitals with necessary modern medical equipment in the regions mostly affected by the flow of Iraqi refugees," the European commission in Syria said in a statement. "The EU has decided to extend this additional aid through the program of modernizing health sector in Syria with a value of 30 million euros (44 million dollars), which comes as a result of the pressure created by the existence of a big number of Iraqi refugees in Syria who need health services," added the statement. The EU will also support Syrian health care centers to boost the quality of their services through increasing medical and administrative capabilities to meet the increasing public health demands of the Syrian and Iraqi people.

AP: Iraqi Medical System Wrecked by War - by Lori Hinnant

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Iraqi Medical System Wrecked by War - by Lori Hinnant

Already a troubled system, Iraqi medical care has fallen to the brink of collapse since the U.S.-led invasion five years ago. Scores of doctors have been slain, cancer patients have to hunt down their own drugs — even IV fluid is in short supply. On Tuesday, a former deputy health minister and the head of the ministry's security force will stand trial, a year after they were accused of letting Shiite death squads use ambulances and government hospitals to carry out kidnappings and killings.According to figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry released earlier this year, 618 medical employees, including 132 doctors, as well as medics and other health care workers, have been killed nationwide since 2003, among the professionals from many fields caught up in Iraq's sectarian violence.

Eurovision Song Contest Serbia 2008 - parties in The Netherlands and Belgium

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Eurovision Song Contest Serbia 2008 - parties in The Netherlands and Belgium

On Friday, February 29 a Eurovision party will be held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The party will be organized by www.songfestival.web-log.nl, OGAE Netherlands, www.12points.tv and songfestivalcafé. It's the perfect chance for fans to meet up and dance all night long to old and new Eurovision hits. Besides that, Bea Records will be present as well. Bea Records can be considered as the world's biggest on-line shop for Eurovision music.

The Dutch party will be held in De Grote Catacomben, Oudegracht 219, Utrecht. Doors open at 21.00 hrs and admission is free until 23.00 hrs. After 23.00 hrs the admission price will be € 3,00. For further information you can send an email to ogaenl@live.nl

noquarterusa.net: US Pres. Elections - No, He Can’t Because Yes, They Will - by Larry Johnson

For the complete report from No Quarter click on this link

US Pres. Elections - No, He Can’t Because Yes, They Will - by Larry Johnson

Obama’s mantra, “Yes, We Can” (original Aluminum Company of America slogan used in the 70's to promote the Easy Open Aluminum Can) is inspiring and heartwarming, but in the end is an empty phrase that will founder once the Republican political attack machine spins up. I realize that most Obamatons are so wedded to his vision of hope that any effort to point out the cracks in the foundation of the new Democratic Savior are met with fury and disdain. If you think for a minute that the Republican party–who used Willie Horton on Michael Dukakis to devastating effect, who portrayed triple amputee and veteran Max Cleland as a bosom buddy of Osama Bin Laden, and convinced many voters that decorated combat veteran John Kerry was a fraud–will give Obama a pass come the fall then you are in serious denial.

But, unlike the attacks on Dukakis, Cleland, and Kerry, the ammunition that Obama has provided to his political foes is significant and deadly. But try telling that to Obama disciples. You get name calling and character assassination. At the same time, Obama is treated with a reverence and fawning that I have never seen in my life for a political figure. What in the world was Chris Matthew’s talking about with his tingling leg adulation heaped on Obama.

Obama’s untested achilles heel is his relationship with three men–Tony Rezko, William Ayers, and Rashid Khalidi. These names will become shorthand for Corruption, Terrorism, and the Destruction of Israel. Republicans will likely use these relationships to

The Press Association: Britain - Economy putting off Polish workers

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Britain - Economy putting off Polish workers

Fewer Polish workers are applying to work in the UK according to latest Government figures, and experts blame the weakening state of the UK economy for the changing immigration pattern. Only 38,680 Poles signed up to the Government's register of migrant workers in the third quarter of 2007, a slump of 18% from the previous year, according to new figures from the Border and Immigration Agency published this month.

Jan Mokrzycki, president of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, said: "The economy in Poland has picked up and unemployment has dropped down. There are jobs advertised all over the place. Manufacturers are looking for labour and especially skilled labour. In 2012 we have the football world championships coming. They are building stadiums and hotels and so there are jobs available. "Adding to this - people want to go home because their friends and families are back there and if there is no economic necessity for them to remain in the UK, they will go back home.

2/18/08

VDARE.com:US Pres. elections - Can Obama Really Win The US White Vote? - by Steve Sailer

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

US Pres. elections - Can Obama Really Win The US White Vote? - by Steve Sailer

despite the rapid growth of the minority population, U.S. elections are currently still dominated by whites. They cast 79% of the votes in 2004 and things will remain that way for several decades. That makes predicting whether Obama would win in the fall even murkier than a typical Presidential election when two white men are running against each other. In contrast, if I was trying to forecast a Kenyan election, I'd just tally up the numbers of Kikuyus, Kalenjins, Luos (whose candidate/warlord, Raila Odinga, claims, probably falsely, to be Obama's first cousin), and the other three dozen tribes, see which tribe is allied with which tribe at the moment, toss in a guess of how many votes the ruling party will steal, and, presto, there's your winner.

American identity politics is more complicated. There is still a majority tribe, one that is so accustomed to being dominant that it doesn't (yet) think of itself as a tribe that competes with other tribes. Instead, elements within the white tribe compete primarily against each other. White behavior is particularly difficult to model, because whites strive endlessly for status against other whites, constantly scanning for novel ways to claw their way to the top over each other.

EurasiaNet - Cyprus Vote: Big Ramifications for Turkey's EU Bid and NATO's Operational Capacity

Northern Cyprus - Nicosia presently divided


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Cyprus Vote: Big Ramifications for Turkey's EU Bid and NATO's Operational Capacity

The future of Turkey’s European Union bid could hinge on the February 17 presidential election in Cyprus. The prospect of a new Greek Cypriot leadership may offer the last chance for uniting the divided island, analysts say. Permanent division, experts add, would create a lasting source of political tension that not only could prevent Turkey’s EU accession, but also hamper the EU’s and NATO’s strategic capabilities. "The results of the election will be important, if we are going to have a move forward," says Philippos Savvides, Greek Cypriot political analyst based in Athens. Brussels is set to review progress on Turkey’s membership bid in 2009, leaving this year as the only window of opportunity to make headway on the Cyprus issue, Savvides says. "It will be a mess if we don’t have a resolution."

Cyprus has been split since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island’s northern part to safeguard its Turkish Cypriot community, which comprised some 20 percent of the total population. With United Nations peacekeepers monitoring a ceasefire line separating the island’s Greek and Turkish parts, the Cyprus issue has made little progress toward reunification over the decades. There was some hope for a resolution in 2004, when Turkey signed on to the United Nations-brokered Annan plan, which called for Ankara to withdraw its troops, and Cyprus to be reunited. The new Cyprus would have been comprised of two confederal states, one Greek and one Turkish, with a loose central government.

Note EU-Digest: The UN plan for reunification could be back on the table after hardliner Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos was eliminated in the first round of a presidential election on Sunday, meaning a surprise run-off between two candidates who both want talks on re-uniting the island. The vote is key to efforts to bring back together the war-divided Mediterranean island and to Turkey's European Union aspirations. Analysts said Papadopoulos's elimination signaled Greek Cypriots are ready to return to the negotiation table. Right wing backed Ioannis Kassoulides and Communist Demetris Christofias have already pledged a more conciliatory approach to estranged Turkish Cypriots, who have lived separately since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. With all the vote counted, Kassoulides had 33.5 percent, Christofias 33.3 percent and Papadopoulos only 31.8 percent. The run-off will be on February 24.

Hürriyet: Turkey to veto EU’s Kosovo police mission - by Zeynep Gürcanlı

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Turkey to veto EU’s Kosovo police mission - by Zeynep Gürcanlı

Despite differences over recognition, the EU members agreed on Saturday to send some 2,000 police, justice and civil administrators to supervise Kosovo and help build institutions. The EU has also approved a civilian high representative for Kosovo, Dutchman Pieter Feith, who will oversee the police and justice mission and the implementation by Kosovo's government of standards protecting the province's Serb minority. The EU mission will take 120 days to complete deployment and take over from the U.N. mission, once a start date is agreed. Sources close to the matter said Turkey and the EU are holding talks in order to prevent a potential crisis. According to the EU decision, all EU members, except Malta, as well as Turkey, Croatia and the US will send support to the mission. This means Turkey and the Greek Cypriots, who are not recognized by Ankara, will work under the same umbrella.

CCTV International: Mandelson: EU backs Russia´s bid to enter WTO - by Zhang Pengfei

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Mandelson: EU backs Russia´s bid to enter WTO - by Zhang Pengfe

European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson expressed support for Russia to join the World Trade Organization.

Peter Mandelson, European Union trade chief, said, "Frankly, we want to see Russia in the WTO, it's the largest economy of its size and importance outside of the organisztion, there are benefits, substantial benefits, both for Russia and its trading partners.Russia has to take important steps to integrate into the global economy and one of the best ways it can do that is by growing and integration and convergence between its economy and that of the European Union."

xinhuanet: EU launches free trade talks with Ukraine

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EU launches free trade talks with Ukraine

The European Union (EU) has launched free trade talks with Ukraine, the European Commission said on Monday. The talks, formally launched by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushenko in Kiev, followed the finalization of Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this month, which was a prerequisite for the free trade negotiations. "It's a sign of the EU's commitment to Ukraine that the ink is hardly dry on its WTO accession agreement and we are here in Kiev to build on that membership with a new stage in our economic relations," said Mandelson. Mandelson said the free trade talks would not only boost trade and investment between the EU and Ukraine, but also integrate Ukraine into the global economy and deepen partnership between Kiev and Brussels.

INTAL: Toward a North-South Green Energy Alliance - Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB President

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Toward a North-South Green Energy Alliance - Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB President

The debate on biofuels and energy safety has reached a crossroads. Perceptions in Europe and the United States have fluctuated from enthusiasm to alarm at a series of reports underlining the high cost of biofuel subsidies and the negative impact on food prices and land and water use. Many environmental and agro-industrial groups have recently come out against the expansion of biofuel production. Recently, one high-ranking UN official even went as far as to propose a global moratorium on biofuel projects. Such positions are understandable from the standpoint of industrialized countries, with mild climates and limited agricultural land. Bio-fuels in the Northern hemisphere are obtained from corn and rapeseed (colza; canola oil), which have low energy yields and require costly inputs. And as most arable land in the North is cultivated, they are likely to come into increasing competition with food crops should expansion continue.

The North needs biofuels but its capacity to produce them is limited; the South has land, favorable weather conditions, and abundant rural manpower but lacks the investment in capital and technology. Broadly speaking, a “Sustainable Energy Free Trade Regime” would acknowledge this reality and tap market forces to help face one of the greatest challenges of our day.

Note EU-Digest: There will be an IDB conference in Miami from April 4 to April 8 covering a variety of issues including the production of alternative energy.