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4/30/08

Times onLine: Whatever happened to Old Europe? by - Mark Mazower

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Whatever happened to Old Europe? by - Mark Mazower

Europe has never been a matter of boundaries alone. “European civilization has entered into the truth, into the plan of Providence”, as the historian-statesman François Guizot put it. “It advances according to the ways of God. That is the rational principle of its superiority.” Borders themselves – the Sava River, the Bosphorus, the Urals – were always negotiable. Because it stood for so much more than mere territory, Europe’s nineteenth-century Powers had no difficulty universalizing their values in its name. Backed by their temporary but highly impressive technological and military superiority, they were able to impose the emergent rules of their state system on the rest of the world as the epitome of civilized order.

Turkishpress: 9 Dutch Citizens fromTurkish Descent Receive Royal Order Of Netherlands

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9 Dutch Citizens from Turkish Descent Receive Royal Order Of Netherlands

Ali Riza Sariyildiz of Zaandam municipality, Ugur Mete, Mustafa Demirtas and Yazgul Aksoy of Tilburg municipality, Mevlut Deniz of Haaksbergen municipality, Suat Ozturk of Delft municipality, Aydemir Cetin of Gouda municipality, Reyhan Conga and Ali Ihsan Saybas of Culembor municipality were the recipients of the Royal Order of the Netherlands. The nine Dutch Citizens from Turkish descent received the order based on their contribution to the Dutch society. Around 3,500 people received the Royal Order of the Netherlands in 2008. Many of them are naturalized citizens or second generation immigrant citizens.

IHT: EU ( plays politics) cracks door for Serbia in advance of vote - by Stephen Castle and Dan Bilefski

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EU (plays politics)and cracks door for Serbia in advance of vote - by Stephen Castle and Dan Bilefski

With a fresh round of tight elections looming in Serbia, the European Union on Tuesday signed a pre-membership pact with Belgrade in a bid to help pro-Western forces avoid defeat by nationalists at the polls May 11. European ministers overcame sharp internal divisions over the Serbian government's failure to hunt down war crimes suspects and signed an agreement giving the clearest signal yet that Serbia can eventually join the 27-nation bloc.

The gesture could help turn the elections next month into a test of whether Serbia wants to join the EU - the world's largest trading bloc - or adopt a nationalist path more closely aligned with Moscow. Under a compromise among EU governments, Belgrade will not receive the benefits from the trade and assistance accord with the EU until it is judged to be cooperating fully with the United Nations war crimes tribunal.

BBC NEWS - A Europe of blocs? - by Mark Mardell

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A Europe of blocs? - by Mark Mardell

The French President nearly upset the EU apple-cart when he proposed a Mediterranean Union including EU and non-EU countries around that sea. How far will the Poles go when they make proposals for a similar Baltic-to-the-Black-Sea Union?

The idea was a little noticed result of the European Council meeting back in March. Then, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk suggested that if Turkey and the countries of North Africa could link up with the EU countries bordering the Med, it was only fair the East should have the same opportunities. He was given the go-ahead, perhaps to both balance President Sarkozy's brainwave, and perhaps to further down-grade it. Perhaps a rather brutal move, as it had already been thoroughly and efficiently eviscerated by Chancellor Merkel.

Note EU-Digest: The idea if reworked in the sense of non- EU-Countries regional blocks tied into the EU as a whole, sounds far better than having so-called fringe blocks within the EU. The issue needs much more thought,

4/29/08

Sarkozy, president of Europe?

Sarkozy, president of Europe? | France 24:

"Sarkozy, president of Europe?

Tuesday 29 April 2008
France takes on the presidency of the European Union on July 1 for a six-month term. President Nicolas Sarkozy faces a series of thorny issues."

FinFacts: Eurozone inflation is expected to drop in April following German price falls

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Eurozone inflation is expected to drop in April following German price falls

Eurozone inflation is expected to drop in April following Germany price data on Monday, which showed a sharp fall.De Statis, the Federal Statistical Office reported that the harmonised consumer price index for Germany, which is calculated for European purposes, is expected to rise by an annual 2.6% rate in April 2008, down from 3.3% in March. Compared with the previous month, the index is down by 0.3%. The consumer price index for Germany is expected to rise 2.4% in April 2008 on April 2007 (March 2008: +3.1%), according to results available from six Länder (states). Compared with the preceding month, the rate of change will be –0.2%

TODAY'S ZAMAN - The eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey, Bouwman: I became more humanistic in Turkey

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The eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey, Bouwman: I became more humanistic in Turkey

The eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey, Bouwman: I became more humanistic in Turkey

Bernard Bouwman, a Western correspondent living and reporting in İstanbul, is the eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey. Indeed, his is a name synonymous with Turkey. He has been reporting for the Netherlands’ NRC Handelsblad daily and for Radio 1 from İstanbul for eight years. I recently spoke with Bouwman about his personal adventure and observations about Turkey and the Netherlands.

4/28/08

USA Today - Clinton can beat McCain, Obama can't - Clinton moves further ahead of McCain than Obama does - by Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence

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US elections - Clinton can beat McCain, Obama can't - Clinton moves further ahead of McCain than Obama does - by Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence

AP says its latest survey shows that as of now, Clinton has a 50%-41% advantage over McCain. That's a wider lead than she had the last time AP-Ipsos did such a survey. Three weeks ago, she led 48%-45%, according to Pollster.com's archive of recent polls. Meanwhile, AP says Obama has a 46%-44% advantage over McCain -- vs. their 45%-45% tie three weeks ago.

China View: Russia, EU may start talks on partnership agreement

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Russia, EU may start talks on partnership agreement

Russia and the European Union (EU) may start negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement shortly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a government meeting on Monday. "If what EU colleagues are telling us is true, we may start the negotiations in the near future and announce their beginning at the Khanty-Mansiisk summit in June," Lavrov was quoted by Interfaxnews agency as saying. He said Russia was receiving signals that showed the impediments to the negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement "will be gone soon," and that Russia was ready to start the negotiations.

Argus Leader.com: THE US ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: U.S. recession expanding - by Alyce I. Edrich

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U.S. recession expanding - by Alyce I. Edrich

"I watched a recent report on television where a woman worked three part-time evening jobs while her husband worked a full-time day job just to make ends meet. They didn't even own a home or spend foolishly. The woman had each job pinned down, too. One job paid their gas bill. Another job gave her money to help with the bills and to get discounts on clothing for her kids. The third job helped make ends meet toward the end of the month when things got really tight.If the federal government doesn't step in and put a cap on rising gas prices, America is going to be in a world of hurt. I know an electric company that was told by its supplier last month to buy all its supplies now for the summer because the prices were going to triple. For some businesses, that tripling of cost could put them out of business. And the problem is that even if we wanted to boycott the oil industry, it never would last long enough to make a difference. It's hard to boycott gas prices when people need to get to work so they can make money to feed their families and put roofs over their heads. These oil tycoons know this - sadly.

Of course, if you look at the stock market, what do you see? The rich getting richer, their pocket books getting fatter, and the average American struggling.

Forbes.com: Euro zone growth forecasts trimmed, but overall economy still looking good - Forbes.com

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Euro zone growth forecasts trimmed, but overall economy still looking good.

The European Commission trimmed its 2008 and 2009 growth forecasts for the euro zone and hiked its inflation outlook for the bloc. 'Economic growth is moderating in the EU and euro area and the current, imported inflationary pressures are a matter of concern,' economic and monetary affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia said of the commission's latest set of economic forecasts. The European Union's executive arm is now expecting growth of 1.7 percent this year rather than the 1.8 percent it predicted in its interim forecasts published on Feb 21. For next year, it has cut its growth projection to 1.5 percent from the 2.1 percent given in its autumn forecasts published on Nov 9. The commission attributed the expected moderation in growth to persisting turmoil in the financial markets, the marked slowdown in the U.S. and soaring commodity prices. On the inflation front, it hiked its 2008 inflation forecast to 3.2 percent from the 2.6 percent expected in February.

VNUNet: Europe seeing strong broadband growth - by Ian Williams

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Europe seeing strong broadband growth - by Ian Williams

Broadband markets across Europe are seeing continued growth in all areas, according to recent research by Frost & Sullivan. The Broadband Market in Europe report attributed the growth to deregulatory initiatives across the region and the ongoing shift towards integrated services such as triple- or quad-play. Frost & Sullivan said that another major growth factor is growing demand for highly customised broadband-based services. Customers appear willing to pay extra for high-quality broadband services such as video-on-demand and other multimedia content. "As we begin to embrace the era of digital lifestyles, providers have begun to focus on providing interactive communication services," said Julia Martusewicz-Kulinska, a research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

EU-Digest: Get your free copy of the Lisbon Treaty

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EUobserver.com: Ireland : As polls narrow, Irish PM warns of 'disaster' if EU treaty defeated

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Ireland : As polls narrow, Irish PM warns of 'disaster' if EU treaty defeated

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has issued a stark warning on the consequences of rejecting the EU treaty as the latest poll shows a narrowing gap between the yes and no side. A no vote would have "repercussions that would do immense damage to Ireland," and would be a "disaster for the country," he said on Sunday (27 April), according to the Irish Times. A poll published by the Sunday Business Post that showed that 35 percent were in favour of the treaty, 31 percent said they were against and 34 percent remain undecided.

EU Research - ACTIVE promotes knowledge across Europe

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ACTIVE promotes knowledge across Europe

Europe has set itself the goal of becoming the world’s leading knowledge-based economy by 2010. This means that businesses must bolster the productivity of their knowledge workers to boost their competitiveness. The problem is that existing information systems do not provide companies with enough support, so information exchange can be time-consuming or even unavailable. The solution, according to the EU-funded project ACTIVE, is to increase productivity in a pro-active, yet simple way.At the heart of the project is the development of a ‘Knowledge Workspace’, an innovative system which ACTIVE believes will give businesses the impetus needed to make knowledge technology effective for a bigger share of their essential knowledge. The ACTIVE 'Knowledge Workspace' will be better than the software currently available on the market, the project partners hope.

The University of California Press: " Free market forces the end of family life?" - The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Arlie Russell Hochschield

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"Do free market forces spell the end of family life? "The Commercialization of Intimate Life" by Arlie Russell Hochschield

An advertisement for Quaker Oats cereal in an issue of Working Mother magazine provides a small window on the interplay between consumption and the application of the idea of efficiency to private time in modern America.Beneath the image, we read: "Instant Quaker Oatmeal, for moms who have a lot of love but not a lot of time." The ad continues with a short story: "Nicky is a very picky eater. With Instant Quaker Oatmeal, I can give him a terrific hot breakfast in just 90 seconds. And I don't have to spend any time coaxing him to eat it!" The designers of this ad, we could imagine, want us to feel we've been let in on an ordinary moment in a middle-class American morning.

Quaker Oats cereal may be a paradigm for a growing variety of goods and services—frozen dinners, computer shopping services, cell phones, and the like—that claim to save time for busy working parents. They often save time at home. But the ethic of "saving time" raises the question of what we want to save time for.

Yahoonews: Sweden/Germany/Hungary: Scholars run down more clues to a Holocaust mystery - by Arthur Max and Randy Herschaft

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Sweden/Germany/Hungary: Scholars run down more clues to a Holocaust mystery - by Arthur Max and Randy Herschaft

Sweden - Budapest, November 1944: Another German train has loaded its cargo of Jews bound for Auschwitz. A young Swedish diplomat pushes past the SS guard and scrambles onto the roof of a cattle car.Ignoring shots fired over his head, he reaches through the open door to outstretched hands, passing out dozens of bogus "passports" that extended Sweden's protection to the bearers. He orders everyone with a document off the train and into his caravan of vehicles. The guards look on, dumbfounded. Raoul Wallenberg was a minor official of a neutral country, with an unimposing appearance and gentle manner. Recruited and financed by the U.S., he was sent into Hungary to save Jews. He bullied, bluffed and bribed powerful Nazis to prevent the deportation of 20,000 Hungarian Jews to concentration camps, and averted the massacre of 70,000 more people in Budapest's ghetto by threatening to have the Nazi commander hanged as a war criminal.

Wallenberg's rescue mission inevitably placed him in a vortex of intrigue and espionage involving the Hungarian resistance, the Jewish underground, communists working for the Soviets, and British, U.S. and Swedish intelligence operations. He also had regular contact with Adolf Eichmann and other Nazis running the deportation of Jews.After the Red Army arrived in January, Wallenberg went to see the Russian military commander to discuss postwar reconstruction and restitution of Jewish property. Two days later he returned under Russian escort to collect some personal effects, then was never seen in public again. And what did his country — or his influential cousins — do about it? In the mid-1950s, the Swedes pursued the case more aggressively, prompting a memorandum from Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in 1957 that Wallenberg had died of heart failure in detention 10 years earlier — at age 34. As more testimony came in that Wallenberg was still alive, Stockholm periodically raised the issue with Moscow — but without results, said Magnusson, interviewed in the Netherlands where he is now ambassador.

4/27/08

BizChina: Essence Securities: Insurance net profits may slump in 2009 - by Li Huayu

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Essence Securities: Insurance net profits may slump in 2009 - by Li Huayu

Insurers' net profits won't see big drops this year, but may experience slumps in 2009, said Essence Securities in its latest monthly report. The report said it will be difficult for insurers to maintain a high return on assets (ROA) next year. According to the report, if the stock market returns to normal in 2009, net profits plunges are highly probable as insurers' floating profits, or unrealized profits, having accumulated in the 2007 bullish market, have been released, except in the case that the market experiences surges again next year. In 2007, the ROA of insurance companies far exceeded that of banks. The ROA of China Life and Ping An Insurance was 3.49 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, while that of banks during the same period was only 1 percent on the average. The huge ROA gap between insurers and banks is ultimately unsustainable, said the report.

China Daily: Airbus: China needs 2,800 aircraft in 20 years

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Airbus: China needs 2,800 aircraft in 20 years

Chinese mainland will need to add more than 2,800 passenger aircraft and freighters in the 20 years through 2026, European plane maker Airbus forecast.The demand, valued $329 billion, represents 11.6 percent of the world total for more than 24,000 new aircraft during the period, it noted. China's demand for passenger aircraft is only second to the United States in the period, said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer for Customers.

AFP: Singapore Airlines collects its fourth Airbus jet

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Singapore Airlines collects its fourth Airbus jet

Singapore Airlines has taken delivery of its fourth Airbus A380 plane, the world's biggest passenger jet, which left Toulouse, France, on Saturday, Airbus said. The aircraft, delivered "on time," will service the first commercial link between Singapore and Tokyo, and is due to start flying the route on May 20, management said. The three giant airships already in the skies service London and Sydney flights. As with the existing craft, Singapore Airlines has restricted its 853 capacity to seating for 471 passengers, including 12 suites with full beds.

Independent: Germany offers a window on global financial health, then the view is good - by Hamish McRae

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Germany offers a window on global financial health, then the view is good - by Hamish McRae

In Britain there is a clear distinction between what is happening in the housing market and what is happening to the real economy. News on the former is still pretty grim, whereas things such as retail sales and exports seem to be holding up reasonably well. The pound, however, continues to languish. But what about Europe? The eurozone economy is far from a single entity and the downturn is showing up some inherent tensions within it. But the euro is soaring and the largest of the continental economies, Germany, is still growing reasonably strongly. The distinction in Germany is not between the housing market and the real economy but between what is happening and what industry expects to happen.

4/26/08

Times onLine: The dirty weekend guide to Europe - by Stephen Bleach

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The dirty weekend guide to Europe - by Stephen Bleach

Let me take you away from all this, ma chérie. Let us fly to a little place I know, an intimate escape from the cares of this world, where our love may bloom like the bougainvillea, our hearts burn like the sunset, our passion be fulfilled like a ... Yes, all right, I’ll stop there. You get the drift. If you want to kindle new love, or rekindle old, there’s nothing like a romantic break. But, and I speak from experience here, hotels are not the answer.

Nort Point Press: Cradle To Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things - by William McDonough & Michael Braungart

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Cradle To Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things - by William McDonough & Michael Braungart

William McDonough's book, written with his colleague, the German chemist Michael Braungart, is a manifesto calling for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design. Through historical sketches on the roots of the industrial revolution; commentary on science, nature and society; descriptions of key design principles; and compelling examples of innovative products and business strategies already reshaping the marketplace, McDonough and Braungart make the case that an industrial system that "takes, makes and wastes" can become a creator of goods and services that generate ecological, social and economic value. In Cradle to Cradle, McDonough and Braungart argue that the conflict between industry and the environment is not an indictment of commerce but an outgrowth of purely opportunistic design. The design of products and manufacturing systems growing out of the Industrial Revolution reflected the spirit of the day-and yielded a host of unintended yet tragic consequences. Today, with our growing knowledge of the living earth, design can reflect a new spirit. In fact, the authors write, when designers employ the intelligence of natural systems—the effectiveness of nutrient cycling, the abundance of the sun's energy—they can create products, industrial systems, buildings, even regional plans that allow nature and commerce to fruitfully co-exist.

Cradle to Cradle maps the lineaments of McDonough and Braungart's new design paradigm, offering practical steps on how to innovate within today's economic environment. Part social history, part green business primer, part design manual, the book makes plain that the re-invention of human industry is not only within our grasp, it is our best hope for a future of sustaining prosperity.

WSJ: US ECONOMIC MELTDOWN - Economy, Credit Woes Foil Cities' Big Projects - by Jennifer S.Forsyth

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US ECONOMIC MELTDOWN - Economy, Credit Woes Foil Cities' Big Projects - by Jennifer S.Forsyth

A proposed $7 billion downtown Seattle project has become the latest major urban development to be scotched or delayed because of the credit crisis and a faltering economy. Seattle's Clise family is pulling a 13-acre property for sale for at least $600 million off the market, at least temporarily. The property was intended to be the catalyst for a project that would have totaled the square footage of as many as five Empire State Buildings, putting it on the scale of London's Canary Wharf or the former World Trade Center in New York. The Seattle project joins other projects in New York, Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas that have been shelved, scaled back or beset by financial problems in recent months. Many city officials hoped they would provide jobs and economic activity that could help make up for a housing-market downturn that still hasn't reached bottom.Office construction plunged 28% in March across the U.S., compared with February, despite the start of the $304 million office portion of a mixed-use project in Boston called Russia Wharf, according to an April report by McGraw-Hill Construction, a trade publication. Included in the list of scaled back or delayed projects is a $14 billion grand plan to improve the area around Penn Station in Manhattan and build a new Madison Square Garden. Merrill Lynch & Co. backed out of plans to build an office tower at the site of the current Hotel Pennsylvania. Nearby, Cablevision Systems Corp., the owner of the Garden, decided against moving to a new site in the Farley Post Office across the street.

Politico: US presidential elections - Obama can not win the presidential elections- he has a punctuation problem - by John Harris and David Paul Kuhn

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Obama can not win the presidential elections- he has a punctuation problem - by John Harris and David Paul Kuhn

Barack Obama’s real opponent now is not Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is a pair of punctuation marks. The first is a question. The second is an asterisk. Both threaten to hover over Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination without confronting and defeating the doubts Clinton has raised about his political strength beyond his electoral base of African-Americans and upscale whites.

The Volkskrant: From the Dutch Press: America on the way to a totalitarian state - by Thomas van der Dunk

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From the Dutch Press: America on the way to a totalitarian state - by Thomas van der Dunk

In their attempt to label the failed Iraq adventure as a success, the American conservative neocons are now "spouting" all kinds of crazy theories and nonsense. Talk show host Kudlow in "The Price of Freedom" noted: "After President Bush moved the battle field against Al Qaida to Iraq the Al Qaida is now isolated to their own area and can therefore not attack the US anymore". In theory this seems to suggest that the Americans have installed something similar in Iraq to the Israeli constructed Palestine-ghetto wall and now have the situation under control, so that no more jihadist attacks are possible, and that the Americans are able to monitor all the jihadists activities. Of course nothing is more far removed from the truth than that statement.

The result of the American obsession with security can now be identified with waterboarding, Guantanomo Bay, and the Patriot Act. The Bush Administration has made it possible for Ben Laden to materialize what Hitler and Stalin never were able to achieve with Roosevelt and Eisenhower - forcing America to walk down the path of becoming a totalitarian state.

EuroNews : Unpopular Sarkozy defends his presidency

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Unpopular Sarkozy defends his presidency

In a live televised interview French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday tried to reverse his unpopularity in opinion polls. While admitting making mistakes during his first 12 months in office, he defended his record and pledged further reforms: "Since I was elected President of the Republic the price per barrel of oil has doubled, there's been the subprime crisis, the euro has hit unbelievable levels, or rather the dollar has fallen to very low levels, and there's been a sharp rise in other raw materials.This quadruple shock means we need reforms,change and adaptation," he said. Answering questions by French journalists Sarkozy reiterated his opposition to Turkey becoming a member of the European Union, because that country is not in Europe, he said. His predecessor Jacques Chirac wanted an automatic referendum on any new country seeking membership. Sarkozy said he doesn't want the referendum to be something automatic, but if the issue is raised during his mandate, he will organize a referendum on Turkey.

Forbes.com: Oil Can't Ruin Europe's Party - James McKeigue

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Oil Can't Ruin Europe's Party - James McKeigue

European stocks closed on a high as optimism prevailed following surprisingly good earnings from European giants like Ericsson, Volvo and Man, and a strengthening dollar. Even a late spike in oil sparked by news of an impending refinery strike in Britain and an incident between Iranian and U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf couldn't ruin the party.

BBC NEWS- Mission to prove Europe's sat-nav

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Mission to prove Europe's sat-nav

Europe's quest to build its own version of GPS is about to take an important step forward with the launch of a test spacecraft, Giove-B. The demonstrator must prove the key technologies in the Galileo satellite navigation system before the full network begins its roll-out in 2010. Europe has already spent 1.6bn euros ($2.5bn; £1.3bn) on the project and ministers have warned that the additional 3.4bn euros ($5.3bn; £2.7bn) recently approved for sat-nav investments will be the limit on expenditure. Currently GPS operates with one open signal in a particular frequency band. With Galileo, we are going to broadcast up to 10 signals and the combination of these signals will allow us to provide a number of services which we cannot achieve today with the current system."If all of these technologies work as predicted, the project will be clear to launch the first four operational satellites in 2010. Full capability has been set for the end of 2013

4/25/08

Bloomberg.com: Turkey Seeks Bigger Pipeline Role, Roils Europe It Aims to Join - by Celestine Bohlen

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Turkey Seeks Bigger Pipeline Role, Roils Europe It Aims to Join - by Celestine Bohlen

Turkey is playing hardball in the geopolitical struggle over an $8 billion pipeline at the center of Europe's efforts to cut dependence on Russian natural gas. The nation, which bridges Europe and Central Asia, is trying to profit from its strategic location and become a key part of Europe's energy plan. This might bolster its push to join the European Union -- if its negotiating tactics don't exhaust Europe's patience. Europe wants Turkey to be a transit corridor along the Nabucco pipeline's 3,300-kilometer (2,062-mile) route from the Caspian Sea region to Austria. Turkey wants more control: acting as a regional energy hub, collecting gas from the east, buying some domestically at below-market prices and passing on the rest to Europe for a variable fee.

EU urges US not to resume executions - Breaking News - World - Breaking News

EU urges US not to resume executions - Breaking News - World - Breaking News

"EU urges US not to resume executions

April 25, 2008 - 7:03PM

A total of 39 European countries issued a common declaration urging the United States not to resume executions.

The moves follows an April 16 ruling by the US Supreme Court, which by concluding that death by lethal injection does not violate the constitution has put an end to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the US."

4/24/08

Europe's Marxist dilemma

Economist.com

"Europe's Marxist dilemma

Apr 24th 2008

It is easier to influence a country before than after it joins the club

GROUCHO MARX once said that he did not care to belong to a club that accepted people like him as members. The European Union has a slightly different problem. Lots of countries want to get in, even though many of them, and indeed some that have already made it, are not fit to join. They seem to hope that EU membership will work miracles of its own, curing such ills as entrenched corruption, organised crime, judicial ineffectiveness and economic backwardness—all without their having to make painful reforms at home."

NYT: Europe Turns Back to Coal, Raising Climate Fears - by Elisabeth Rosenthal

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Europe Turns Back to Coal, Raising Climate Fears - by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Over the next five years, Italy will increase its reliance on coal to 33 percent from 14 percent. Power generated by Enel from coal will rise to 50 percent. And Italy is not alone in its return to coal. Driven by rising demand, record high oil and natural gas prices, concerns over energy security and an aversion to nuclear energy, European countries are expected to put into operation about 50 coal-fired plants over the next five years, plants that will be in use for the next five decades. Europe’s power station owners emphasize that they are making the new coal plants as clean as possible. But critics say that “clean coal” is a pipe dream, an oxymoron in terms of the carbon emissions that count most toward climate change. They call the building spurt shortsighted.

In terms of cost and energy security, coal has all the advantages, its proponents argue. Coal reserves will last for 200 years, rather than 50 years for gas and oil. Coal is relatively cheap compared with oil and natural gas, although coal prices have tripled in the past few years. More important, hundreds of countries export coal — there is not a coal cartel — so there is more room to negotiate prices. “In order to get over oil, which is getting more and more expensive, our plan is to convert all oil plants to coal using clean-coal technologies,” said Gianfilippo Mancini, Enel’s chief of generation and energy management. “This will be the cleanest coal plant in Europe. We are hoping to prove that it will be possible to make sustainable and environmentally friendly use of coal.”

globeandmail.com: The US elections - No more civil words, just outright civil war - by John Ibbitson

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No more civil words, just outright civil war - by John Ibbitson

In the waning days of the Pennsylvania primary campaign, Hillary Clinton's camp unleashed a particularly dark television ad. Over images of Pearl Harbor, the stock-market crash, Osama Bin Laden and other calamities, a grim-voiced announcer declared: "Harry Truman said it best: 'If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.' Who do you think has what it takes?" On the night of the primary, Barack Obama was anything but gracious in defeat. He condemned Ms. Clinton for "taking money from Washington lobbyists - from oil lobbyists and drug lobbyists and insurance lobbyists. ... You can't be the champion of working Americans if you're funded by the lobbyists who drown out their voices."

Thus far, the Democrats' protracted primary campaign still appears to be doing the party more good than harm.The Democratic stalemate leaves both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama with a choice: continue to escalate their personal attacks, knowing that the Republicans are the ultimate beneficiaries, or raise the bar of civility, at the risk of losing Indiana. The signs all point to escalating attacks, even if it does mean that winning the nomination could cost that winner the election.

Scotsman.com: Scotland: Biomass power generation the ecological emperor's new clothes?

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Scotland: Biomass power generation the ecological emperor's new clothes?

All carbon combustion produces double its weight in carbon dioxide so that even if dry timber were produced on site, its burning would not eliminate one molecule of greenhouse gas. Biomass electricity claims to be carbon neutral only in that the generated in combustion is supposedly balanced by that extracted from the air and locked into trees in the form of carbon.As for the commercial viability of biomass power generation, the only publicised funding for the Lockerbie enterprise is £18 million from the National Lottery. But there are many funding sources for both the establishment of plant and the growing of its timber requirement, ranging from exemptions from inheritance and income tax for forestry to the Bioenergy Capital Grants scheme which provided major funding for Lockerbie. And of course financial support is also available from the EU, which introduced the Biomass Action Plan to produce stronger and sustainable economic growth and to enhance international co-operation in an integrated and coherent energy policy throughout the Union. It would appear to be Germany, rather than Scotland, that is reaching out beyond its borders.

EUobserver.com: European Parliament criticizes US Visa Talks

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European Parliament criticises US Visa Talks

MEPs have strongly criticized both Washington and the go-it-alone attitude of several member states for opening bilateral talks on tightened travel security measures in return for visa-free travel. "We express our regret at Washington's choice to enter into bilateral agreements with the recent members of the EU," Italian MEP Claudio Fava, speaking on behalf of the socialists in the European Parliament, said on Wednesday (23 April), describing the move as "completely unacceptable"."The US must respect the union's political unity. We should also remind this to member states," Mr Fava added. A similar message was echoed by conservatives, the parliament's biggest group, with Polish MEP Urszula Gacek saying that Washington "cannot exert pressure on individual nations to break EU guidelines, especially in the sensitive areas such as revealing passenger information in greater detail than the EU allows".

Note EU-Digest: The US must be made to understand in clear terms to refrain from bilateral talks with individual EU member states and the members states which are participating in such negotiations should be threatened with sanctions.

Bloomberg.com: European Services Growth Unexpectedly Accelerated - by Ben Sills

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European Services Growth Unexpectedly Accelerated - by Ben Sills

Growth in European service industries from airlines to financial services unexpectedly accelerated in April, lending weight to the European Central Bank's threat to raise interest rates. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said a preliminary estimate of its services index rose to 51.8 from 51.6 in March. Economists expected a decline to 51.4, according to the median of 38 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Europe's economy is holding up even as the U.S. teeters on the brink of recession (better still-disaster), forcing the Federal Reserve to cut borrowing costs.

The Guardian: Dutch, part-time champions, fight labour shortage - by Emma Thomasson

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Dutch, part-time champions, fight labour shortage - by Emma Thomasson

The Netherlands must get more women, immigrants and older people into jobs and make everyone work longer hours if the economy is to avoid a return to steeply rising wages which choked off growth five years ago. The Dutch work fewer hours on average than any other OECD nation except Norway, thanks to a high rate of part-time work. This helps to boost female participation in the workforce but dampens overall labour supply as few women have full-time jobs. Politicians, analysts and academics agree that the situation cannot continue without hurting economic competitiveness, though there are deep disagreements on how to tackle the problem. Economy Minister Maria van der Hoeven called last week for the standard working week to be increased to 40 hours from 36 now and for paid leave to be cut to help relieve the tight job market.

Cafe Babel: Map: be German to be rich, says Forbes - by Frank Lirzin

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Map: be German to be rich, says Forbes - by Frank Lirzin

How do you become a billionaire exactly? Flee Europe: out of the 1125 billionaires registered by Forbes, barely 20% are of European origin. The others come mainly from the United States (42%), China, India and Russia. Having said this, if we remain in Europe, it is best to be German: there have been 49 billionaires in Germany since 2008, compared with 48 in the United Kingdom. And to be the richer of the richest, you still need to be German: Karl Albrecht is the richest European before Frenchman Bernard Arnault.

Note EU-Digest: Cafe Babel has included an interactive map in their report which shows you where and how many billionaires there are in each European country.

4/23/08

IHT: Europe's GPS - Galileo wins €2.4 billion bailout

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Europe's GPS - Galileo wins €2.4 billion bailout

The European Union on Wednesday ratified a €2.4 billion public bailout of the European satellite project meant to rival the GPS system in the United States. The European Parliament endorsed new rules underlying a plan to tap the EU budget for the extra $3.8 billion to build the Galileo road, rail, ship and air-traffic control network.

The approval removes the final hurdle after EU governments decided in November to use taxpayers' money to rescue the project, which is over budget and behind schedule. "We are giving the go-ahead to one of the most important projects in the EU," Angelika Niebler of Germany, head of the Parliament's Industry Committee, told the assembly here. "This is a technology that we need."

EurActiv.com - EU plays 'good cop, bad cop' with Turkey | EU

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EU plays 'good cop, bad cop' with Turkey

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn reassured the country that the EU will remain committed to its future EU membership, after the Slovenian EU Presidency canceled an accession conference scheduled for 21 April due to "insufficient progress" in negotiations.Meanwhile, the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday (21 April) approved a progress report on Turkey which welcomed the country's recent legislative efforts, in particular referring to the amendment of Article 301 of the Penal Code sent by the government to the Parliament. The report, drawn up by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten, urged the government of Prime Minister Erdogan and the Parliament to carry out this reform "without delay" and made clear that further and faster efforts are needed.

EU-Commission: Audiovisual and Media Policies: protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games

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Audiovisual and Media Policies: protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games

Video games are one of the favourite leisure activities of Europeans of different ages and social categories. There are also promising opportunities for a strong interactive games industry in Europe, which is already the fastest growing and most dynamic sector in the European content industry, and has a higher growth rate than in the US, half the revenue of the music market and more than the cinema box office in Europe. The rapid growth of on-line video games is also a key driver for the uptake of broadband telecommunications networks and third generation cellular phones. All this makes video games a front-rank medium, with the result that freedom of expression for both creators and gamers is a paramount concern.

The Commission is replying to the Council's call for a review of the various methods used for assessing the content of video and computer games and to report back to the Council. For this purpose, a questionnaire was sent to all Member States. The questions covered age rating/content rating systems, the sale of video games by retailers, video game bans, effectiveness of current measures, on-line video games and a cross-platform and pan-European rating system. All 27 Member States replied. According to the information received from the Member States, the PEGI system is currently applied by 20 Member States. Two Member States (Germany and Lithuania) have specific binding legislation while Malta relies on general legislation. However, four Member States (Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia) have no system in place. 15 Member States have legislation concerning the sale of video games with harmful content to minors in shops, although the scope of laws varies between Member States. Until now, four countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy, UK) have banned certain violent video games.

American Chronicle: US elections - Vote Demographics Spells Much Bigger Trouble for Obama than Pennsylvania Loss - by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

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US elections - Vote Demographics Spells Much Bigger Trouble for Obama than Pennsylvania Loss - by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Barack Obama´s decisive Pennsylvania loss to Hillary Clinton was predictable and inevitable. Obama pretty much confirmed that when he tossed in the towel and spent the crucial countdown hours to the primary vote at a fundraiser in Indiana. But the loss in that state is the least of Obama´s troubles.One in five Pennsylvania voters made it clear that race was a factor in their vote. Translated; they would not vote for an African-American for president, no matter how fresh, articulate and race neutral his pitch. If Obama hadn´t gotten ninety percent of the black vote mostly in Philadelphia and other urban spots in the state, Clinton would have demolished him.

eGov monitor - Consumers at the heart of EU Competition Policy

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Consumers at the heart of EU Competition Policy

Defending consumers' interests is at the heart of the Commission's competition policy. In concrete terms: competition gives citizens better goods and services, and ensures businesses have more opportunities to sell them. In the last year there have been some good examples – from Microsoft's dramatically reduced royalty rates, to wins for Telefonica and Mastercard customers. In fact, we calculate that the direct future customer savings resulting from our cartel, antitrust, liberalisation and merger cases in 2007 alone, is at least 13.8 billion euros. About 30 euros in the pocket for each of Europe's 500 million citizens. And then there are obvious deterrent effects we cannot put a price on. Another thing we can't yet put a price on is justice.

Salem News.com: Warmongers, Chickenhawks, FOX News and Iran (VIDEO) - by Tim King

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Warmongers, Chickenhawks, FOX News and Iran (VIDEO) - by Tim King

These are some of the people trying to drive the United States into a needless war with Iran when the country already doesn't adequately care for the number of veterans at hand. Limbaugh, Murdoch, Lieberman, Bolton, O'Reilly, McCain, Bush, Hannity, are among politicians and media personalities willing to send our military into another war.The single biggest problem and threat to the future of the United States and Iran, is Fox News. They are a common enemy to all that is honest; blatant liars that all play the game or they don't work at Fox. Again, almost all of those who root for attacking Iran, spare John McCain, are chickenhawks with no military experience or background. They are the ones who call for war but would never have the courage to fight in one. Each is an individual who could have made that an aspect of their life, and that lack of experience of being in combat personally allows them to be who they are today, warmongers and chickenhawks.

The Guardfian - US elections - Obama's general election chances questioned - "he will not be able to win the states which count" - Suzanne Goldenberg

Obama's general election chances questioned | World news | guardian.co.uk

The US election - Obama's general election chances questioned - "he will not be able to win the states which count" - by Suzanne Goldenberg and Ewen MacAskill

Clinton, who has won most of the primaries since February 3, is expecting to take a majority of the remaining nine contests. But, more importantly, her campaign team believes the big success in Pennsylvania was to plant doubts about his chances against John McCain. "Obama is unelectable," one of her advisers said yesterday.

Exit polls in Pennsylvania showed low-income and conservative voters had yet to embrace Obama, raising the prospect that they could defect to McCain next November and cost the Democrats the White House. After a hard-fought race, Obama lost among white women by 32 points, among Catholics by 38 points, among middle-income households by 20 points. The gap suggested continued divisions in the Democratic base with Obama running very strongly among African Americans and younger and college-educated voters, but unable to make real headway among more conservative, small town Democrats.

| Midwest Voices: US Presidential election - Keep running, Hillary - Yael T. Abouhalkah

Hillary Clinton - fighting the "Obama BS Bandwagon"


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Keep running, Hillary - Yael T. Abouhalkah

Clinton's convincing win on Tuesday in Pennsylvania means she can and should continue her quest. As she points out, she keeps winning the big states when paired against Obama. What's that mean in a general election vs. John McCain? That's not clear, but at least Clinton can point to her strength among voters in the largest states.

4/22/08

Telegraph.co.uk: Oil painting 'invented in Asia, not Europe' - by Roger Highfield

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Oil painting 'invented in Asia, not Europe' - by Roger Highfield

The idea that oil painting was invented in Europe is overturned today by a remarkable discovery made as a result of one of the worst examples of cultural vandalism in recent years.Scientists have proved, thanks to experiments performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, that the paints used were based of oil, hundreds of years before the technique was "invented" in Europe, when artists found they could use pigments bound with a medium of drying oil, such as linseed oil.

In many European history and art books, oil painting is said to have started in the 15th century in Europe. But the team that used the ESRF, an intense source of X rays, found the Bamiyan paintings date back to the mid-7th century AD

Salon News: US Democratic Presidential Primaries: Attention, pundits. It ain't over - by Rebecca Traister

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US Democratic Presidential Primaries - Attention, pundits. It ain't over - by Rebecca Traister

"I think Hillary could win by 5 to 12 points," Gov. Rendell told me as he shook hands and posed for photos. "But even if she wins by 6 or 7, that would be tremendous, considering the record levels of money that the Obama campaign has spent in Pennsylvania." Here Rendell was clearly tempering any lingering expectations of a Hillary rout, and hewing to campaign talking points about the $2.2 million-a-week ad habit Obama reportedly developed here in Pennsylvania, a budget that made him the highest political spender in state history, including Rendell himself. Rendell also spoke about what makes Pennsylvania such a potential sweet spot for Clinton, recalling that both Clintons banked goodwill in the 1990s by supporting his turnaround of Philadelphia as mayor. The Clinton administration sent his city gobs of federal money. Then there's the state's mix of high-tech and traditional manufacturing jobs. "We've been hurt by trade," said Rendell. "Not as much as Ohio or Michigan, but we've been hurt, and we have a lot of blue-collar workers who love her." Rendell also noted Pennsylvania's "strong feminist movement" (huh!) and the fact that it's the third oldest state in the union (Clinton does great with the olds).

When explaining their preference for Clinton their reasons often had to do with her experience, or a sense that she was a woman of action. Psychologist Ziona Brotleit, 57, wore a T-shirt that said "A Century of Women on Top," and praised Clinton's brains. "What impresses me is that she has the information, the knowledge, and that she can speak about more specific information than her opponent is able to," she said. "And that's what I want, someone who can think."

IHT: Czech carmaker Skoda reports almost 16 percent rise in 1Q sales

Skoda doing well world-wide


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Czech carmaker Skoda reports almost 16 percent rise in 1Q sales

Czech carmaker Skoda Auto AS, a unit of German manufacturer Volkswagen AG, said Monday its sales in the first quarter of 2008 rose 15.7 percent on the year. Skoda Auto sold a total of 173,474 cars in the first three months of the year, the company said in a statement. "The first quarter results were also positively influenced by growing demands on the markets of eastern Europe and China," the statement said. It said it sold 27,461 units in the eastern European region, up 38.6 percent from the same period last year. Skoda Auto also delivered 16,212 cars in the period to China, where sales began in June. Skoda Auto delivered more than 27,000 cars there in 2007. Skoda Auto delivered a record 630,032 cars in 2007. It said it aims to boost annual car output to 1 million by 2010 and to 1.5 million in 10 years.

PC World - Internet Security: Sites' Personal Questions May Pose Security Risk - by Paul F.Roberts


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Internet Security: Sites' Personal Questions May Pose Security Risk - by Paul F.Roberts

What did your maternal grandfather do for a living? What was your high school mascot's name? Your first pet's name? Online businesses everywhere have embraced the technique, which is called knowledge-based authentication. Theoretically, the answers to these questions are so personal and obscure that knowing them proves you are you. Experts say, however, that the technology could end up helping hackers compromise your online accounts more easily. Scammers have adapted, adding secret questions to their decoy pages, says Lance James, CTO of fraud research company Secure Science. Bank phishing sites may include their own fraudulent drop-down lists that capture people's answers, which bad guys can then use to hack real accounts.

4/21/08

International Middle East Media Center: Hamas -Zahhar: “We presented our position to Suleiman, awaiting Israeli response”

Mahmood Zahar, Hamas Political Leadership


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Hamas-Zahhar, “We presented our position to Suleiman, awaiting Israeli response”

Mahmoud Zahhar, one of Hamas political leaders, stated on Sunday that the movement presented its response to 15 questions presented by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Omar Suleiman, regarding a truce deal, and added that Israel needs also to answer these questions.Zahhar stated that the former US President Jimmy Carter asked Hamas to declare a unilateral truce but the movement told him that it has previous experiences with Israel as the movement, and other factions, previously declared unilateral truces but Israel continued its assaults and violations. He said that any truce deal should be bilateral and should be a comprehensive deal under Egyptian supervision. He further said that Hamas will discuss on Monday the proposals of Carter regarding the truce and will present its official position.

Responding to a question by Carter, Zahhar said that if a comprehensive peace deal is achieved with Israel, and if this deal was subject to public referendum, then Hamas will accept whatever the people decide as long as this referendum includes all Palestinians in Palestine and in exile.

New Statesman - The Netherlands - May it please Your Majesty - Curaçao used by US to spy on Venezuela and possibly invade? - by Hugh O'Shaughnessy

US Spy drone Hermes 450 above Venezuela?


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The Netherlands - May it please Your Majesty - Is Curaçao used by US to spy on Venezuela and possibly invade? - by Hugh O'Shaughnessy

In open letter to the Queen of the Netherlands about Curaçao Hugh O'Shaughness writes:"I have the sinking feeling that Your ministers are not giving You the facts about one or two of Your possessions beyond the seas which, as the weeks tick by, take on the aspect of so many kegs of gunpowder. The reason for a possible conflagration is the increasing political and military pressure Washington is piling on the elected government of Venezuela from Your island of Curaçao. In Your gracious speech last Thursday (10 April), at the banquet you gave for President Lula of Brazil in The Hague, You recalled, “a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is closely involved with events in South America”. And it is from this part, principally Curaçao, a few miles off the Venezuelan coast, that, by courtesy of Your ministers, that the US military pressure is coming. US officers have called Curaçao a “forward operating location”.

Note EU-Digest:It would be one of the most grave mistakes the US could make if they attacked Venezuela with the direct or indirect assistance from any other EU state. Mr. Chavez should be left to eventually disappear from the scene by his own incapacity to provide leadership to his people, not by a US led invasion or US inspired coup.

The Independent: UK - Politicians' acts of denial give the game away - by Stephen King

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UK - Politicians' acts of denial give the game away - by Stephen King

When it all begins to go wrong, politicians typically adopt one of three strategies. They deny. They claim it's worse elsewhere. Or they blame others for their woes. The UK economy must, then, be going horribly wrong. Our political leaders adopted all three tactics last week, thereby betraying their deep-rooted fears. Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, offered the denial. In an interview with the BBC, Mr Brown said: "We've seen house prices rise by about 180 per cent over the last 10 years and they have risen by about 18 per cent over the last three years, so a 2.5 per cent fall is something that is containable. "Mr Brown's decision to blame the US for the world's economic woes is nonsense. It's certainly true that the US has major economic problems. It's also true that, after the slippage in the US economy over the last few months, people are becoming increasingly worried about economic prospects in the UK. But it doesn't follow that there is a causal link running from the US to the UK. In truth, the shock facing the UK economy is remarkably similar to the shock facing the US economy because both countries chose, a few years ago, to do a deal with the debt devil. For every increase in US house prices, there's been an increase in UK house prices. For every rise in US household debt, there's been an increase in UK household debt. And, for every widening of the US balance of payments current account deficit, there's been a corresponding expansion of the UK deficit." Note EU-Digest: "The main culprits behind this present day world-wide economic disaster are Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It was their "contribution" that neo-liberal programs antithetical to the interests of the majority could be imposed in a western democracy if one was ruthless enough to exploit certain situations. For Thatcher, the war with Argentina over the Falklands in 1982 was a heaven-sent opportunity to enlist jingoism in the service of radical economic programs, one of her tactics being to portray the labor unions as the “enemy from within.” Thatcher’s tactics prefigured those of George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, when he and his crew exploited the hysterical state of the US population to declare a “war on terror” that was meant to kick-start a new phase of the neo-liberal enterprise. Well known Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein labels this “disaster capitalism.” Unfortunately Mr. Brown is saddled with the legacy of his predecessors. At the same time a majority of the British still believe in their "sacred sovereignty" and look towards the EU as a threat, instead of embracing it and getting rid of the US economic noose."

Haaretz.com: Armenian, Greek worshipers come to blows at Jesus' tomb

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Armenian, Greek worshipers come to blows at Jesus' tomb

Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshipers exchanged blows in Christianity's holiest shrine on Palm Sunday, and pummeled police with palm fronds when they tried to break up the brawl. The fight is part of a growing rivalry over religious rights at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the site where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected. A fist-fight broke out after Armenian clergy kicked out a Greek priest from their midst, pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses. The Holy Sepulcher is shared by several Christian denominations according to a centuries-old arrangement known as the status quo. Each denomination jealously guards its share of the basilica, and fights over rights of worship at the church have intensified in recent years, particularly between the Armenians and Greeks.

Note EU-Digest:These unacceptable acts by Armenians and Greeks are a disgrace to Christianity and its holy places. Israel should consider banning these two factions from worshiping at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

4/20/08

Radiance views weekly: Is Economy Issue # I of the USA? by - SHAMIM SIDDIQI

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Is Economy Issue # I of the USA? by - SHAMIM SIDDIQI

From the ongoing emphasis being given by the three running candidates of both the political parties of the USA for Election-2008 and its echoing continuous discussion in media coverage, it appears that the Issue # I of the country is economy. However, in my considered opinion, the paramount issue of the country is quite different and the economic problems that we are facing in different fields are the direct outcome of a fundamental setback somewhere else. The country and its leadership are ignoring and sidetracking it as a whole.

ITAR-TASS: Serbia’s new part to ratify oil/gas agt with Russia–President Tadic

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Serbia’s new part to ratify oil/gas agt with Russia–President Tadic

Serbia’s President Boris Tadic has not reconsidered his attitude to the ratification of the inter-governmental oil and gas agreement with Russia. “It will be a new Serbian parliament, having the full powers, that will ratify the energy agreement with Russia, which envisages the construction of a trunk pipeline,” Tadic said at negotiations with Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is in Serbia on a brief visit in the capacity of co-chairman of the inter-governmental committee for trade and economic, scientific and technological cooperation. “This gas pipeline will be vital for our economy and industry and for bringing gas to Serbian households,” the presidential press-service quoted Tadic’s statement as saying.

PR-Inside: The Netherlands- Soccer: PSV wins 4th straight Dutch league title after beating Vitesse 1-0

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PSV wins 4th straight Dutch league title after beating Vitesse 1-0

PSV Eindhoven won its fourth straight Dutch league title Sunday by beating Vitesse Arnhem 1-0.
Jefferson Farfan set up Danko Lazovic for the game's only goal in the 46th to give PSV its 21st "Eredivisie" title, eight fewer than Ajax, which finished second in the standings despite beating Heracles Almelo 5-1.

Guardian: EU migrants living in Ireland to be allowed to vote - by Henry McDonald

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EU migrants living in Ireland to be allowed to vote - by Henry McDonald

Ireland is to allow Poles, Czechs, Slovakians and tens of thousands of other EU migrant workers to vote in national elections, in a move that could radically transform the political landscape, according to the minister in charge of integrating the country's half a million immigrants. Ireland has an overall population of about 4.5 million, with non-Irish nationals, from the EU as well as China and Africa, making up 12% of Ireland's population. Conor Lenihan, the minister for integration, said that in return for full voting rights the migrants would have to prove an ability to speak English before taking up permanent resident status.

Avionews: Galileo: towards an agreement for its launch

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Galileo: towards an agreement for its launch

The European Parliament will have to approve, in the April 22 session, the regulation that will allow the implementation of the European satellite navigation program's following the negotiation's failure for the concession's contract, which would have to entrusted the Galileo's management to some privates. The program, that will benefit from 3.4 billion Euro for 2007-2013, aims at realizing the first global radio-navigation infrastructure for civilian purposes.

Global Politician - Italian Poll Verdict - by Abdul Ruff

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Italian Poll Verdict - by Abdul Ruff

Italy is the fourth largest European economy and has one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe. The country's traditional manufacturing industries suffered a downturn during the final years of the twentieth century, but there have recently been some signs that the economy is beginning to recover from its decade-long slump. Italy's economy has been slipping in the face of low productivity and a strong euro, and analysts say young people, pensioners and low-income workers are feeling the pressure. Although Italy faces a massive public debt, both candidates have promised tax cuts and handouts to voters. The extent of Italy's malaise was made clear only a week before the ballot, when the IMF cut its growth forecast for the country to 0.3% for both 2008 and 2009. That would make Italy's the slowest-growing economy in Europe and among the G8 rich countries. In 2006 it was overtaken by Spain and next year it may fall behind Greece.

The Italian political landscape underwent a seismic shift in the 1990s when the "Clean Hands" operation exposed corruption at the highest levels of politics and big business. Several former prime ministers were implicated and thousands of businessmen and politicians were investigated. In the mid-1990s its GDP per head, at purchasing-power parity, was 20% above the average for the 27 countries in today's European Union. It was richer than Britain and France, and second to Germany among big EU states. Twelve years on, it has fallen below the EU 27 average for the first time.

There are some reasons for hope, though. Italy's employment performance is good: joblessness is at a 30-year low. Exports have been booming, despite the strong euro. Italy's banks have improved under the spur of competition, and they have mostly avoided the sub-prime debt that is dragging down rivals in Europe.

Chron.com: Across Europe, teens' alcohol abuse worsens - by Veronika Oleksyn

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Across Europe, teens' alcohol abuse worsens - by Veronika Oleksyn

A 13-year-old schoolgirl in southern Austria celebrated the start of her spring break with a bottle of schnapps. She ended up in intensive care. In other countries across Europe, adolescents are making similar headlines for drinking themselves into a stupor, often passing out in the process. And they're getting younger: A June 2006 European Union-commissioned report says nearly all 15- to 16-year-old European students have had alcohol at some point in their lives and, on average, now start when they're just 12 1/2 years old.Supermarkets sell alcohol and, unlike in the U.S., bottles and cans are seldom stashed away in areas that are off-limits to underage customers. Carding is uncommon.

In Austria — where binge drinking is known as "Komatrinken," or "coma drinking" — a new law prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under either 16 or 18, depending on the region, and requires cashiers and establishments to card customers if they have any doubt about their age.

Failure to do so can result in fines of up to euro3,500.00 (US$5,610) and loss of a liquor license.

Stars and Stripes: The Netherlands: Keukenhof, world’s most famous garden, bursts with color - by Michael Abrahams


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Keukenhof, world’s most famous garden, bursts with color - by Michael Abrahams

In Holland, there is no better way to celebrate spring than with the opening of Keukenhof, the world-famous flower garden on the outskirts of Lisse. The flower display started in 1949 when 40 bulb growers from the area got together to create an open-air flower exhibit at a former 15th-century hunting estate with a herb and vegetable garden. The site got its name from Keuken, Dutch for kitchen, and hof meaning garden. In the mid-1800s, a landscaper designed a park there that is still the basis for the current gardens. Today, more than 90 growers plant about 7 million bulbs at Keukenhof — about 4.5 million of them tulips — and about 800,000 visitors come annually to see the flowering spectacle.

Amershon: - the historical birthplace of the tulip - Istanbul in full bloom - by Ann Marie's

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Istanbul in full bloom - by Ann Marie's

Turkey - the historical birthplace of the tulip - Istanbul in full bloom - by Ann Marie's

"At the risk of redundancy, I must share more of my floral enthusiasm. Last Sunday some friends and I walked up to Emirgan Park (my third trip), and we were totally WOWED by the displays. Tulipmania abounds in Istanbul. After a two-hour walk along the Bosphorus (with a welcome stop for tea and treats), we wended our way through the tea gardens of Emirgan up to the south end of the park. Coming in the side entrance wasn’t all that spectacular, but it made for a much more gradual hike up to the summit. After passing well-peopled playgrounds and picnic areas, we found the tulips. Tulips, tulips, tulips".

4/19/08

NYT: Son of Top Dutch General Is Killed in Afghanistan

Dennis van Uhm killed in action and increasing Dutch military toll in Afghanistan to 16


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Son of Top Dutch General Is Killed in Afghanistan

A roadside bomb attack on a patrol of Dutch soldiers on Friday killed the son of the Netherlands’ top military officer, a day after his father took command of his country’s armed forces, officials said. Lt. Dennis van Uhm, 23, the son of Gen. Peter van Uhm, was one of two Dutch soldiers killed in the explosion seven miles northwest of Camp Holland, the Dutch military base in Oruzgan Province, a spokesman, Lt. Gen. Freek Meulman, said. Through a spokesman, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende called Lieutenant van Uhm’s death “an unprecedented tragedy” and said the weekly Dutch cabinet meeting had been briefly halted so ministers could reflect privately. There was no immediate comment from General van Uhm, who took up a new job as the overall commander of the Dutch military on Thursday in a ceremony outside Parliament in The Hague.Friday’s bombing brings the death toll of Dutch soldiers to 16 since the Netherlands began contributing combat forces to NATO’s Afghanistan mission in August 2006. The Dutch have 1,650 troops in southern Afghanistan.

The Associated Press: French President Sarkozy wants bigger 'green' economy - by Angela Charlton

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French President Sarkozy wants bigger 'green' economy - by Angela Charlton

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday the fight against climate change needs massive new amounts of private investment and globally regulated "green" markets to succeed. About 90 percent of the money for fighting global warming will come from the private sector over the long term, Sarkozy said at climate talks in Paris with the world's biggest polluters. Mobilizing a few hundred million euros, or dollars, is not enough, he said, adding that the international community must "massively redirect financial flows toward this new low-carbon economy." The U.S.-sponsored talks in Paris this week are aimed at ironing out disagreements among leading economies such as the United States, the European Union, China and India over how to reduce global warming. They are meant to feed broader U.N. efforts to work out a follow-up plan to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires signatories to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming.

Sarkozy also said the carbon credit market and other environmental financial tools currently used in Europe should be "globalized and regulated." Karsner, however, said he saw little need for a globalized carbon market.

AFP: Germany touts wood residue, straw and sour milk as biofuel sources

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Germany touts wood residue, straw and sour milk as biofuel sources

Rapeseed and sugar cane are out, making way for wood, straw and curdled milk to play key roles as future biofuel energy sources that would not starve the planet by taking over land need for food. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on hand Thursday with the heads of automakers Daimler and Volkswagen to inaugurate what was billed as the world's first refinery of "second generation" biofuels in the eastern city of Freiberg. Merkel hailed the "hand-in-hand work by the political, economic and scientific sectors." The Choren group hopes to produce 18 million litres of biodiesel carburant there each year using wood residues. Its project has high-profile backing from Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell in addition to the two world-class German auto manufacturers.

NYT: Europe Begins Testing In-Flight Use of Cellphones - by Stephen Castle

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Europe Begins Testing In-Flight Use of Cellphones - by Stephen Castle

François Germain, a BP executive, was one of the first passengers to put Air France’s pilot program allowing cellphone calls in flight to the test. The results last week were not quite as he hoped. Emirates, the largest carrier in the Mideast, has already equipped an Airbus A340 fight from Dubai to Casablanca with mobile technology and intends to extend the service to its entire fleet over the next several months. Ryanair, a low-cost European carrier popular among a young and chatty clientele, is planning to offer in-flight calls, anticipating potentially lucrative profits from the service. But a number of hurdles must be overcome before more airlines offer the service. The technology, which allows cellphone users to make and receive calls through an onboard base station linked to a satellite, delivers a still-patchy quality that keeps most in-flight calls short and tinny. And then there are the eye-popping roaming charges of up to 3 euros ($4.72) a minute. On a recent Air France test flight between Paris and Vienna, mobile calls made using the technology that is dominant in Europe generally allowed passengers to connect to ground phones after a couple of tries. Calls made from the ground to the plane, though, tended to go directly to voice mail.

4/18/08

Yahoo News: UN New York - Human Rights - Pope worries that big powers control decision-making - by Victor L.Simpson

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Pope worries that big powers control decision-making - by Victor L.Simpson

UN New York - Human Rights - Pope worries that big powers control decision-making - by Victor L.Simpson

Making a plea for human rights, Pope Benedict XVI warned diplomats at the United Nations on Friday that international cooperation needed to solve urgent problems is "in crisis" because decisions rest in the hands of a few powerful nations.While he didn't identify the countries that have a stranglehold on global power, the German pope — just the third pontiff to address the U.N. General Assembly — addressed long-standing Vatican concerns about the struggle to achieve world peace and the development of the poorest regions.

WAN - Olympics "Catastrophic" for Chinese Press Freedom


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Olympics "Catastrophic" for Chinese Press Freedom

A Chinese journalist jailed for her reporting told a conference in Paris today (Friday) that press freedom and human rights have worsened in China and that conditions for journalists in the run-up to the Olympics are "considerably more catastrophic" than they were when she was arrested 15 years ago. "Freedom of the press and human rights constitute the most serious problem currently facing China," said Gao Yu, who was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to six years in prison for sending two articles on current affairs to a Hong Kong review. She was charged with "divulging state secrets", a catch-all charge often used by Chinese authorities to stifle independent reporting and dissent.

The Montenegro times: 86% of high school students back EU bid

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86% of high school students back EU bid

Almost 86% of graduating high school students in Montenegro support the country’s attempt to gain full membership in the European Union (EU) according to a poll conducted by students of the Faculty for State and European Studies (FDES) in Podgorica.
A total of 902 students from 20 high schools, 15% of enrolees, were polled in the random sample. Pupils from Bar’s High Economic School demonstrated the greatest knowledge of all Montenegrin high schoolers regarding Euro-Atlantic integration by responding correctly on 68% of questions asked in a test that was conducted simultaneously with the poll. Five schools failed the test by scoring less than 50%.

washingtonpost.com: Turkey/EU - Turkey's Turmoil: A Blessing in Disguise? - by Diba Nigar Goksel


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Turkey/EU - Turkey's Turmoil: A Blessing in Disguise? - by Diba Nigar Goksel

It is nearly impossible for anyone to win hearts and minds in Turkey nowadays. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso treaded carefully on Turkey's political minefield during his visit last week, because any of his moves could have caused the country’s delicate and divided political scene to rupture. In his speech to the Turkish Parliament, he did not mention the ongoing legal case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been accused of anti-secular activity, and he tiptoed around the headscarf debate. Further attempting to show his even-handedness, he spent time with all of the opposition leaders, visiting them personally in their offices. Despite these efforts, accusations still abound that Barroso and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn timed their visit as a show of support to AKP, coinciding with the Constitutional Court’s consideration of whether the AKP should be banned. Some claimed Barroso and Rehn were disrespecting the Turkish state and the threats it faces: namely, challenges to secularism and territorial integrity.

It was a wise move for the AKP to put EU integration back on the top of Turkey's agenda after the case for its closure was taken up by the Constitutional Court. Preparations are ongoing to pass a package of reforms that will benefit a wider segment of society than the party’s traditional base. That indicates a realization that differing social interests need to be met simultaneously in order to strike a consensus. Opportunism or not, democracy is ultimately at work here. If it takes crises for competing camps to acknowledge the limits of their power, then perhaps Turkey's recent turmoil is a blessing in disguise.

Stuff.co.nz: France's Sarkozy tells feuding ministers to stop it

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France's Sarkozy tells feuding ministers to stop it

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told his ministers to stick together, in an effort to end infighting that has dented government credibility at a time of low popularity ratings for Sarkozy. The ruling conservative UMP party is trying to recover from a poor showing in last month's municipal elections - partly blamed on Sarkozy's personal popularity slump - but the task has been complicated by ministers arguing in public. "The president, at the end of the cabinet meeting, called on all members of the government to be loyal, to show solidarity and to form a united team around him and the prime minister," government spokesman Luc Chatel told a news conference.

In the early days of his administration, the hyperactive Sarkozy was markedly more popular than his more discreet prime minister. But the latest poll, published on Sunday, showed 38 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with Sarkozy while Fillon's approval rating stood at 51 per cent.

Epoch Times: Boycot China Olympics: Flemish Government Will Not Attend Olympic China Opening Ceremony

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Flemish Government Will Not Attend CDhina Olympic Opening Ceremony

No Flemish government member will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing", Bert Anciaux, the Flemish Minister of Sport, stated at a session of the Commission on Foreign Policy in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels dedicated to the Olympics and the human rights situation in China. The Minister, who had some personal experience with the Chinese regime last year when he was invited to China and saw his visa revoked after he announced he would speak about the situation in Tibet, said he tries to find a balance between his commitment towards sports and respect for human rights.

"The problem is not that the Olympic Games will take place in China, but that the Chinese regime is using the Olympics as a propaganda event at the expense of the fundamental rights of the Chinese people." —Nicolas Schols, representative of the Belgian Falun Dafa Association

The Hindu : Outrage over Berlusconi remarks on immigration

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Outrage over Berlusconi remarks on immigration

Italy’s Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi was running true to form on Tuesday as he basked in his overwhelming victory in the general elections held earlier this week. By declaring that illegal immigrants are “an army of evil” he gave Italians a taste of things to come. There has been a rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in Italy, especially towards people coming from Romania, Albania, Kosovo, and other parts of the Balkans, with attempts to repatriate Roma gypsies often described as “liars and thieves.” In a long press conference, Mr. Berlusconi brushed off criticism that he would be putty in the hands of his key coalition partner Umberto Bossi of the Northern League who has been calling for the break-up of Italy into three distinct federal regions so that the wealthy north no longer has to subsidize the poor south. However, he did say he would “increase neighbourhood police forces who would place themselves between the people of Italy and the army of evil.” Mr. Berlusconi’s remarks caused tremendous outrage and prompted Walter Veltroni of the Democratic Party who lost the election to remark: “I am horrified by his statements so far. His words do not add up to a good start.”

Note EU-Digest: Silvio Berlusconi is the worst possible choice for Italy at this stage of its history. It is sinking under a huge public debt, the heaviest tax burden in the euro zone, and the fastest aging workforce. Mr. Berlusconi probably realizes that the premier in a country with a 900-odd member parliament and numerous parties holds virtually no executive power. "He has no more projects," says Mr. Ferrara, an old fan. "He has no delusions. He has become very cynical. Italy is so hard to rule that Berlusconi probably figures, 'I won't try anything, I will go with the mainstream and give Italians what they want, shelter from competition, the tax man and most of all, "precariousness" of any kind". Italy today is like "a person on life support" and its re-elected leader Berlusconi provides no hope for change. Italy's problems and the election of Berlusconi prompted comedian Beppe Grillo to joke: "Please, invade us. Help us!"

Manufacturing Business Technology: Consumerism, corruption and the corporate hegemony - by Anwarul Kabir in Bangladesh

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Consumerism, corruption and the corporate hegemony - by Anwarul Kabir in Bangladesh

"For better development of the planet, we must combat the consumerism. But this is not that a easy task. People of the earth are now in a pro-people ideological vacuum. One of the basic laws in physics dictates that no system can exist in a vacuum state. This law is also applicable to the case of socio-economics environment of the world. So, the consumerism, at the present complex socio-economic structure of the world, gets its footings in the absence of any strong pro-people ideology. So, to escape from the curse of consumerism, at first we need to reengineer our socio-economic and political environment with a view to eliminating the evil influence of consumerism and free market economy."

Newsmax.com - Newsmax/Zogby Poll: Clinton Surges Ahead in Pennsylvania - Clinton 47% - Obama 43%

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Newsmax/Zogby Poll: Clinton Surges Ahead in Pennsylvania - Clinton 47% - Obama 43%

Democrat Hillary Clinton had a good day in the Newsmax/Zogby daily tracking poll ahead of Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, following a strong debate performance in Philadelphia Wednesday night, and now holds a 47% to 43% advantage over Barack Obama of Illinois. The two-day tracking survey, which was conducted April 16-17, 2008, showed that 10% were either undecided or supported someone else. The telephone survey, conducted using live operators working out of Zogby’s on-site call center in Upstate New York, included 602 likely Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania. It carries a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. Clinton 47% - Obama 43%

Businessweek: Tech Beat Something's Fishy About This Yahoo-Google Deal - by Rob Hof

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Something's Fishy About This Yahoo-Google Deal - by Rob Hof

We’re supposed to believe that after Yahoo spent years battling Google to little avail, after having multiple chances and much Wall Street encouragement to outsource its search ads to the leader, suddenly Yahoo and Google are now going to be best buddies? After a couple of days of ad tests? Supposedly, they’re even plotting to avoid regulatory problems by limiting the deal to “specific groups of search queries or regions.” If the point for Yahoo is to show how much more money it could make outsourcing search ads to Google, that makes no sense. Even the $1 billion a year that Citigroup thinks an outsourcing deal could add to Yahoo’s cash flow probably wouldn’t sway Yahoo shareholders staring at a $45 billion Microsoft buyout offer, so why would some smaller portion of that sway them any more? Of all the back-and-forth negotiating tactics we’ve seen in this overlong Kabuki dance so far, this one takes the cake. Maybe it will help Yahoo ultimately extract a few more dollars a share from Microsoft, and if so, more power to them. But these moves are getting so transparent that you have to wonder how effective they are. Note EU-Digest: Hope the EU takes a good look at this once it materializes, because it looks somewhat fishy.

Eurosurveillance: Ongoing multi-state outbreak of measles linked to non-immune anthroposophic communities in Austria, Germany, and Norway, April 2008

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An ongoing multi-state outbreak of measles linked to non-immune anthroposophic communities in Austria, Germany, and Norway, March-April 2008

From the second week of March 2008, public health authorities in the province of Salzburg observed an increased number of measles cases compared to previous years.The current outbreak has affected, as of 14 April, 202 people in Austria, 53 in Germany, and four in Norway, bringing the total number of cases related to this outbreak to 259. The initial case series investigation revealed that the common link was attendance of an anthroposophic school and day care centre in Salzburg city. The majority of the pupils were not vaccinated against measles.

4/17/08

DW: Germany to Push EU to Take In Iraqi Christian Refugees

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Germany to Push EU to Take In Iraqi Christian Refugees

Germany's interior minister got backing from the country's top security officials to press the EU to open up to Christian refugees from Iraq. But the ministers failed to agree on a new attempt to ban the far-right NPD.

Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble got the green light from the country's 16 top state security officials to start a European Union initiative for the acceptance of Iraqi Christians as refugees. Schaeuble will make the proposal at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg on Friday, April 18.

TimesOnline: Silvio Berlusconi angers Spain for mocking female cabinet

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Silvio Berlusconi angers Spain for mocking female cabinet

A heated row has broken out between Spain and Italy over whether women should be given powerful Cabinet jobs. Silvio Berlusconi, who takes power shortly as Prime Minister of Italy for the third time, caused outrage in Spain after he suggested that the new Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was “too pink”. Mr Berlusconi, who won a sweeping victory in this week’s Italian election, told a radio station: “Zapatero has formed a government that is too pink, something that we cannot do in Italy because there is a prevalence of men in politics and it isn’t easy to find women who are qualified.”

Yahoonews: Swedish researchers find world's oldest living tree

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Swedish researchers find world's oldest living tree

The world's oldest living tree on record is a nearly 10,000 year-old spruce that has been discovered in central Sweden, Umeaa University said on Thursday.Researchers had discovered a spruce with genetic material dating back 9,550 years in the Fulu mountain in Dalarna, according to Leif Kullmann, a professor of Physical Geography at the university in northwestern Sweden. That would mean it had taken root in roughly the year 7,542 BC.

Scientists had previously believed the world's oldest trees were 4,000 to 5,000 year-old pine trees found in North America.

The American Prospect: The US Meltdown Lowdown (No. 1) - by Dean Baker

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The US Meltdown Lowdown (No. 1) - by Dean Baker

During its spring recess, Congress heard from constituents who were concerned about losing their homes and about plunging home equity. Spurred into action, the Senate quickly approved a bill whose main provisions would give tax breaks to banks and homebuilders and provide an incentive to carry through foreclosures. The tax break allows firms to write off losses this year and next against the prior four years' profits. Under current law, they can only seek to reclaim taxes paid in the last two years. Who has big losses now but large profits three and four years ago? That's right, homebuilders who got caught up in the irrational exuberance of the housing bubble and mortgage bankers who pushed predatory loans. I'm sure that we're all sympathetic to the plight of homebuilders and bankers who have fallen on hard times, but whatever happened to personal responsibility?

We have had four consecutive months of job loss in the private sector. This has never happened except in periods associated with a recession. There are enough other pieces of economic data that scream "recession" -- declining retail sales, rising unemployment rates, plunging tax collections -- that we really should no longer be debating whether the economy is in a recession; the question now is how long will it last and how bad will it get.

OpEdNews.com: US Presidential elections - McCainomics: A Double Dose of the Same Poison - by Robert Borosage

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US Presidential elections - McCainomics: A Double Dose of the Same Poison - by Robert Borosage

On Wall Street, the masters of the universe have turned to prayer and worry beads. At the Federal Reserve, a full night's sleep is a fading memory. Across Main Street, the recession is starting to hit, stores are shutting down, bankruptcies are spreading, houses are being foreclosed or abandoned. The pain of the recession is just beginning to hit. But John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in waiting, owner of 10 homes and, by marriage, one of the wealthiest men in the Senate, simply doesn't get it. Today, he delivered what the campaign billed as a major address on the economy. And while McCain says he understands people are hurting, he hasn't allowed this to clutter his thinking. Over 2 million manufacturing jobs have been lost over the last seven years; wages aren't keeping up with the costs of basics. America is selling off assets or borrowing from abroad at the rate of $2 billion a day to cover unsustainable trade deficits. John McCain shovels up only the same corporate trade policies that dug us into this hole.

A shadow banking system, stoned on risk and complexity, threatens to bring down the whole shebang. Already the Federal Reserve has thrown up about half a trillion dollars in guarantees to stave off the furies. McCain offers nothing about how to bring this system under accountability and control.

The Republican Senator believes that the US spends too little on its military and too much on domestic programs such as education, the environment, and public health. He believes George Bush hasn't lowered the taxes of corporations and the wealthy enough.The reality is that the US already spend more than the rest of the world on its military which is the largest source of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government. Domestic investment has been starved by conservative presidents and congresses over the last thirty years. Corporate loopholes riddle the tax code. Billionaire hedge fund operators already pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Inequality has reached levels not seen since just before the Great Depression. Yet McCain's proposed tax cuts would increase our national debt to lavish billions on oil and pharmaceutical companies already enjoying record profits.

New Statesman - What Islam did for Europe - by Jason Webster

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What Islam did for Europe - by Jason Webster

Until very recently, suggestions that western civilisation owed much to Islam were rejected out of hand. "Europe", according to the orthodox model, was born out of a marriage of classical and Judaeo-Christian cultures. The missing element in this formula - the Islamic component - was ignored. During the first half of the 20th century a number of Arabists challenged this view, but their opinions made little popular headway. Today, however, thanks largely to the current friction between Islam and the west, new efforts are being made to understand and interpret the influence oriental culture has had, mostly via Spain, on its occidental cousin.