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5/31/08

EU-Digest: The way we see it - The energy crises

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The way we see it - The energy crises

These days Europeans and most other people around the world feel they are getting soaked of every last penny from their government and big business on fuel prices. The question is who is right here and who is wrong, or is everyone to blame? The recent testimony of Big Oil executives on the US Capitol Hill is a classic case-in-point of the charade going on about energy and oil prices. Government policy spinners from both the left and the right marketed this hearing to the US public as a "stern interrogation" of those mainly responsible for the US’s rapidly deepening energy crisis. Afterwards the whole testimony turned out to be a dog-and-pony show. Despite the big oil corporations’ record profits, their pursuit of price gouging probably explains no more than 10 percent of the current price of gas at the pump. So, probably the whole focus on the oil companies, ruthless as they may appear to be, is simply a distraction.

Time Magazine: The Exaggerated Fuss over U.S. Dollar Devaluation?

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The Exaggerated Fuss over U.S. Dollar Devaluation?

European governments insist that the U.S. devalue the dollar by raising the official $35-per-oz. price of gold. The U.S., just as adamant, is opposed to such a move. It demands that the Japanese and Europeans revalue—that is, make their currencies costlier in terms of the dollar.It is an Alice-in-Wonderland dispute. What would be the difference between a currency realignment accomplished by 1) foreign revaluations alone or 2) U.S. devaluation combined with inevitable foreign revaluations? "Economically, it doesn't matter two hoots," says Yale's Robert Triffin. Either way, the end result would be the same: the dollar would buy fewer yen, marks, guilders and other strong currencies. Theoretically, it is true, U.S. devaluation would also make the dollar worth less in terms of Brazilian cruzeiros, Chilean escudos, Indonesian rupiahs and 100-odd other weak or minor currencies.

ireland.com - Alliance for Europe unveils Yes posters


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Ireland - Alliance for Europe unveils Yes posters

The Irish Alliance for Europe today unveiled its Yes to Lisbon billboard campaign. Speaking at the event, Irish Alliance for Europe chairman Ruairí Quinn said: “We remain confident of the outcome, [but] we are going to intensify our campaign to a level never before seen in this country, with a view to maximising the Yes vote on June 12th. He added that the alliance’s “battle-bus” would continue its nationwide tour, and that various leaflets would be distributed nationwide.

Among others at the poster announcement were alliance director Brendan Kiely; Olive Braiden, human rights commissioner; Mary Davis, managing director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia; and Duncan Stewart, environmentalist and television personality.

Telegraph: Oil price profiteering to be curbed at ICE Futures Europe and Nymex - by James Quinn

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Oil price profiteering to be curbed at ICE Futures Europe and Nymex - by James Quinn

Two of the world's largest energy exchanges have forced traders to deposit significantly more money when investing to curb volatility in energy markets and drive out speculators.The exchanges and related clearing houses have found themselves at the center of the growing storm over claims that speculators have been behind the recent rise in oil prices to record levels. The New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) and ICE Futures Europe in London, the former International Petroleum Exchange, have now tripled "margin calls" for some contracts.

EuroNews : 'It will be war' say Europe's fishermen

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'It will be war' say Europe's fishermen

Fishing boats across Europe are set to remain in harbour this weekend as the stand-off between fishermen and governments over the price of diesel fuel continues. On the Italian Adriatic coast the mood is mutinous. "If we don't get any results it will be open war," said one fisherman. "We are tired of working 80 hours a week without earning a penny."

n Madrid they were calling for the head of the prime minister and his agriculture minister. Then, to emphasize their complaint that they were working for nothing, they gave away 20 tonnes of fish to delighted onlookers. There is still local fish on the shelves in Portugal. The strike is only a day old. But with the annual sardine festival looming people are concerned that there may not be enough fish for that.

5/30/08

Online Recruitment - FT names Europe's definitive best places to work

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FT names Europe's definitive best places to work

Today the Financial Times publishes a special report ranking the 50 best workplaces in Europe with Microsoft and Google once again dominating the European and UK leagues. The list has been put together by the Great Place to Work Institute annually since 2003, and is compiled using 15 national best workplaces studies across Europe. The evaluation is based on both employee opinion and a management survey and the report defines a great place to work as “a place where the employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.”

Telegraph: Soccer Europe- Fifa Congress backs president Sepp Blatter over '6+5' foreign quota proposal - Football News - by Vicky Hodges

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Soccer - Fifa Congress backs president Sepp Blatter over '6+5' foreign quota proposal - Football News - by Vicky Hodges

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is confident Europe will support his foreign quota proposal which could be in place by the 2012/13 season.The European Commission earlier rejected Blatter's controversial plan which is aimed at protecting the identity of national teams, warning it would contravene EU labour rules. Blatter's proposal was supported by 155 delegates, with five against and 40 abstaining and despite the EU's ruling is ready to push on with his proposal.

While the '6+5' proposal dominated Fifa's annual congress, they also formally accepted the revised World Anti-Doping Agency drug code. In the past, Fifa had resisted WADA's blanket two-year ban for first-time doping offences, saying that the length of any suspension should take into account individual cases, and that team sports were different from individual events.

Domestic Fuel :EU Asking Biodiesel Questions - by John Davis

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EU Asking Biodiesel Questions - by John Davis

EU Asking Biodiesel Questions - by John Davis

The European Union wants more information about U.S. subsidies on biodiesel. The inquiry stems from a European Biodiesel Board (EBB) complaint at the end of April that American subsidies were unfair trade practices. “The Commission is in contact with the United States to clarify certain details regarding U.S. production,” an European Union diplomat said on Monday. “This is an initial prerequisite to any move the Commission may take in this area,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. European biodiesel producers in April asked the Commission to impose duties on biodiesel imports from the United States on the grounds they broke international trade rules.

JUST: IRAQ - Middle East Still at War: The U.S. is Losing but The Winners are Unclear - by Phyllis Bennis

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IRAQ - Middle East Still at War: The U.S. is Losing but The Winners are Unclear - by Phyllis Bennis

Despite and because of its huge military presence and the continuing horror of the occupation and war in Iraq, there is no question that Washington has lost significant influence in the Middle East. U.S. efforts to dominate and control the region's governments, resources, and people are failing. U.S.-backed governments and movements across the Middle East are rejecting the Bush administration's demand that they isolate, sanction, and threaten the other governments and movements that Washington deems the bad guys - those linked to Iran. Instead the U.S.-backed governments are themselves launching new bi-, tri-, and multi-lateral negotiations with "the bad guys" outside of U.S. control, and often in direct contradiction to U.S. wishes.

The Province: Canadian PM Harper heads to Europe for busy trip

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Canadian PM Harper heads to Europe for busy trip

Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves Monday night for a whirlwind tour of Europe, where he'll meet the Queen and talk about being green. Harper will touch down in France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain during his three-day sojourn and will meet the leaders of each of those countries. "This trip is a short, tightly focused journey and it is definitely a working visit," said Sandra Buckler, the prime minister's director of communications.

Scotsman.com: Balkans 'safest place in Europe'

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Balkans 'safest place in Europe'

A UNITED Nations' report says the Balkans, once known as the hotbed of crime and violence, has become one of the safest zones in Europe following the wars in Yugoslavia and a post-Communist transition. "The vicious circle of political instability leading to crime, and vice versa, has been broken," said the UN's Antonio Maria Costa.

US Economy: Postponed travel (also to Europe) cost U.S. economy $26.5B in past year, industry study shows - by Mike Sunnucks

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Postponed travel (also to Europe) cost U.S. economy $26.5B in past year, industry study shows - by Mike Sunnucks

U.S. consumers put off 41 million flights during the past year because of frustrations with airlines, airports and security lines, according to a study by the Travel Industry Association. The industry group, which represents travel agents, reported that those avoided trips cost the U.S. economy $26.5 billion over the past 12 months, including lost sales for airlines and travel-related businesses as well as lost tax revenue.Business travelers and tourists have been affected by long security lines and airlines that have been cutting some flights, overbooking others, and imposing new fees and charges while wrestling with high jet fuel prices.

BBC NEWS: EU fuel protests spread wider

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EU fuel protests spread wider

Fuel protests triggered by rising oil prices have spread to more countries across Europe, with thousands of fishermen on strike. Union leaders said Portugal's entire coastal fleet stayed in port on Friday, while in Spain, 7,000 fishermen held protests at the agriculture ministry. French fishermen have been protesting for weeks, with Belgian and Italian colleagues also involved.

UK and Dutch lorry drivers held similar protests earlier this week.

5/29/08

EUBusiness: Turkish Cypriots slam France over military drills


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Turkish Cypriots slam France over military drills

A Turkish Cypriot official slammed France on Wednesday over its decision to take part in military exercises with Greek Cypriots on divided Cyprus, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported. Turgay Avci, foreign minister of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, denounced France's participation in the June 2-6 drills as a partial stance in favour of the Greek Cypriots at a time when efforts are under way to revive talks to reunify the island. "France's participation in the exercises cannot be seen as a sign of goodwill at a time when France is preparing to take over the EU presidency and when a negotiation process is under way in Cyprus," he told Anatolia in an interview, calling on Paris to "carefully review" its decision.

Swiss News: Sarkozy seeks to reassure disgruntled

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Sarkozy seeks to reassure disgruntled

President Nicolas Sarkozy, looking to rebuild his shattered popularity ratings, promised on Tuesday to preserve France's 35-hour work week and cushion the impact of soaring energy costs for the hardest hit. In a dawn media blitz, Sarkozy visited France's biggest food market and then went on breakfast radio to reassure people that he understood their concerns over rising prices. The president ruled out any budget austerity, laid to rest fears his government might hike the retirement age and denied rumours of a possible increase in the television licence fee. "I don't believe in austerity ... What did austerity measures bring (in the past)? Higher unemployment, higher deficit and less growth," Sarkozy told RTL radio. Sarkozy's ratings have hit record lows for a president one year into office, with voters angry about the rising cost of living and disenchanted with a ceaseless churn of reforms.

DW: France's Club Med Plan Riddled With Problems

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France's Club Med Plan Riddled With Problems

President Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial plan for a Mediterranean Union, expected to be a cornerstone of France's looming EU presidency, is in trouble with experts saying many questions still need to be resolved. Last year French President Nicolas Sarkozy had a vision for an exclusive “Club Med,” in which membership was based solely on a shared Mediterranean coastline. This meant that only EU countries on the 27-nation bloc’s southern flank, such as France, Spain and Italy met the criteria for a geographical grouping that stretches from Morocco to Israel, Syria and Turkey. Sarkozy’s “Mediterranean dream” was supposed to provide a forum for tackling regional issues that ranged from stopping illegal boat migration from Africa and combating terrorism to harnessing solar energy and cleaning up the polluted sea.

But there were numerous problems with the proposal, with Germany playing a key role in torpedoing Sarkozy’s original plan, say EU experts. German chancellor Angela Merkel had insisted that the initiative be anchored within existing EU structures and must include all member states.

It is unclear whether France's enthusiasm for the project will be shared by other EU members.

Alternet:U.S. Economy: The Worst is Yet to Come - by Mark Weisbrot

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U.S. Economy: The Worst is Yet to Come - by Mark Weisbrot

The United States accumulated a massive, $8 trillion housing bubble during the decade from 1996-2006. Only about 40 percent of that bubble has now deflated. House prices are still falling at a 20 percent annual rate (over the last quarter). This means that the worst is yet to come, including another wave of mortgage defaults and write-downs. Even homeowners who are not in trouble will borrow increasingly less against their homes, reducing their spending. President Bush says we are not in a recession. One commonly-used definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of declining output (GDP). The first quarter of 2008 came in at 0.6 percent, although it would have been negative if not for inventory accumulation. So by this definition we cannot say with certainty that the recession has started, although it could well have started this quarter. Of course, for most Americans it has felt like a recession hit some time ago, with real wages flat since the end of 2002, and household income not growing for most of the six-and-a-half year economic expansion.

EU-Digest Special Report: Credit Card Industry and Member Banks Sticking It To The Consumer

Credit cards Industry sticking it to the customers


A special report on the credit card industry

EU-Digest Special Report: Credit Card Industry and Member Banks Sticking It To The Consumer

There are plastic time bombs sitting in your wallet - they are called credit cards. The "bargain" you bought at your favorite store with your credit card will increase in price by at least 28 percent, within a year, if you keep that purchase on your credit card by not paying off your credit card monthly.

The situation in the credit card industry is getting out of hand on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe earlier this year the European Commission's antitrust regulator said in a draft summary it would possibly investigate banks and payment card providers for colluding on prices and using practices aimed at keeping competitors out of their markets. Also, according to the report, credit card fees and interest rates vary between countries, which indicate that there is limited cross-border competition.

In the US, this past Tuesday, the Merchants Payments Coalition, which groups about 30 associations, representing almost 2.7 million stores in America, applauded a congressional hearing on unfair credit card practices in the United States. The hearing, held by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, is one of several meetings already held this year to investigate the allegedly unfair practices imposed on consumers and merchants by credit card companies and their member bank companies. "This hearing is another example of how serious the issue of credit card abusive practices is for everyone", said a Senator on the Subcommittee. "The credit card industry is profiting from outrageous fees". During the Tuesday Subcommittee meeting the discussion also focused on the so-called "interchange" fee, which represents a percentage of each transaction that American Express, Discover Visa, MasterCard and their member banks collect from retailers every single time a credit or debit card is used to pay for a purchase. The fee varies with the type of merchant, transaction, and card, but averages out to roughly 2% per transaction. This fee is the reason why some merchants require a minimum purchase of X amount before they will permit a customer to make their purchase using a credit or debit card. Unfortunately, the US Congress so far has only held discussions, but has done nothing to actually reduce or limit the exorbitant fees, sky-high penalties, and above normal interest rates being charged to cardholders. The need for action is becoming more and more pressing. Specially now the US Federal Reserve has cut benchmark interest rates. The credit card companies and their member bank companies have not followed suit after the interest rates were dropped and are still charging abnormally high interest rates and ridiculously bloated service fees.

In the US the five banks that issue most Visa and MasterCards include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Capital One, and HSBC. Surveys show all these banks have a poor reputation for making their Customers pay outrages fees for services and far higher than normal interest rates. The Household Bank MasterCard has a cash advance rate of 25.15 percent. Blue from American Express and Sun Trust’s Visa charge 23.34 percent. On top of that, there usually is a transaction fee of 3 percent or more. Someone using their Chase credit card to get a $1,500 cash advance will pay about $465 in interest and fees for this so-called "service" within the first year.

During the past months the Central Banks from all over the world have pumped billions of hard currency into the world-wide banking system to fight off liquidity problems, mainly the result of their own making and poor judgment. So far, the benefits of the Central Banks bailout have not trickled down to the US consumer, where household debt continues to rise, after it reached $14.2 trillion in the third quarter, or a record 138% of US household disposable income, up from 113% in 2002.

Therefore it seems that one of the areas which urgently needs to be looked at by governments world-wide is the unregulated credit card industry.

Figures today show that the average American owes about euro 6,872 ($9.900.00) in credit card debt, which amounts to a staggering total of euro 639bn ($920bn)for the whole US. In Europe, according to the BBC and the Credit Action Group the average European has about euro 2,185.00 ($ 3,147) of unsecured/credit card debt. One third of the total European credit card debt involves British credit card owners. Banks in Britain generally apply American credit card policies and standards.

Given these facts and the steady rise in the use of credit cards and consumer debt in the EU, the European Parliament would do EU consumers and the economy a service to also open an investigation into the practices of the credit card industry, but hopefully with better results than the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has achieved so far for American citizens.

Newropeans Magazine - A letter to a failed EU - by Thanos Kalamidas

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A letter to a failed EU - by Thanos Kalamidas

"The EU failed to protect the simplest elements that give every citizen of this union a life with dignity, you failed to protect the European citizen of the visual enemy, a greedy multinational market that you were oblige to control. You led people to poverty and I’m sorry to say you are fully responsible for that. All my life I believed that you shouldn’t ask what the state does for you but what you do fir the state and I was thinking the same about the European Union since I strongly believed that this union of people and effects was there for our common prosperity. But that meant that you would fulfill your side of the deal and you failed me, so don’t expect me now to do my part. Actually, at this moment, my worry is not what I’m doing for the state but if my kid will find food on the table and I feel insecure in the world you have create for me and my child!"

AFP: Russia and EU - The dream team: Putin heads to France as foreign policy master

Russia and EU a common destiny


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Russia and EU - The dream team: Putin heads to France as foreign policy master

Vladimir Putin heads to France Thursday on his first major foreign visit since becoming prime minister, as he continues to wield influence in foreign policy, overshadowing that of his Kremlin successor. In a sign of his powerful role, Putin has been invited to dinner by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday after his meeting with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon -- a rare honour for visiting heads of government. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said France was chosen as his first major foreign destination because of its presidency of the European Union later this year. Putin visited Russia neighbour Belarus on a brief trip last week. In a stroke of good timing, EU member states on Monday approved the launch of negotiations with Moscow on a new partnership and cooperation agreement, putting an end to two years of crisis in EU-Russia relations.

ScienceNow: Climate Change Is Bad News for U.S. Agriculture - by Eli Kintisch

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Global Warmin: Climate Change Is Bad News for U.S. Agriculture - by Eli Kintisch

A landmark review of over 1000 papers documenting ecological change in the United States has found that a shifting climate is affecting agriculture, biodiversity, and land and water resources from the mountains of Alaska to the sands of Death Valley. Among the findings of the report, released yesterday: Forest fires are becoming more frequent and numerous, streams are warming, and the Mountain West is seeing much less snow. More changes may be coming, especially for U.S. farmers and ranchers. "The West and Southwest are likely to become drier, while the eastern United States is likely to experience increased rainfall," says the report, which was put out by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, coordinated by the White House. "We risk losing iconic charismatic megaflora such as saguaro cactus and joshua trees," co-author Steven Archer of the University of Arizona, Tucson, said at a press conference.

Christian Science Monitor: When talking with terrorists makes sense - by Paul Staniland

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When talking with terrorists makes sense- by Paul Staniland

While many politicians are willing to engage with "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea, they draw the line at terrorists, who are seen as intrinsically ruthless and radical. That's why "I will not negotiate with terrorists" is a refrain heard across the political spectrum – and why Jimmy Carter took such flak recently for visiting with Hamas. But this knee-jerk rejection of negotiation with radicals is deeply misguided and likely to do more harm than good. The smart question is not whether to talk to terrorists, but, instead, which terrorists to talk to and how to talk to them. Some terrorist and insurgent groups are very powerful. They are embedded in robust social networks, generate revenues from areas under their control, and have enough military power to impose serious costs on governments. They cannot be easily crushed, nor can they be wished away.Negotiations and cease-fire talks, or their offer, should be seen as one of a range of tools for overcoming militancy. Indeed, there are three good strategic reasons to talk to these kinds of armed organizations.

DW: Festival to Play Up Germany's Philosophical Heritage

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Festival to Play Up Germany's Philosophical Heritage

Germany will kick off its first philosophy festival, the "Elation of Ideas," with the aim of bringing weighty topics out of the ivory tower and into the public sphere. The country that produced such giants of western philosophy as Kant and Hegel has largely turned its back on philosophy, asserts Nida-Ruemelin, who teaches in Munich."Yet German-language philosophy is so important in the rest of the world that you find a lot of Italians especially learning German just so that they can read works by Martin Heidegger in the original," he said.

Washington Post - The US economic meltdown: The Fading of the Mirage Economy - by Steven Pearlstein

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Energy and food prices are soaring. The housing market continues to collapse. Government revenue is falling, and taxes are rising. Airlines are jacking up fares and fees while reducing service. Banks are pulling credit lines. Auto companies are cutting production once again. Even investment bankers are losing their jobs.The tendency is to see these as separate developments, each with its own causes and dynamic. Fundamentally, however, they are all part of the same story -- the story of the global economy purging itself of large and unsustainable imbalances that for a time allowed many Americans to think they were richer than they really were.

Chicago Tribune: U.S. profits in jeopardy if Europe slumps -- by Rachel Beck

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U.S. profits in jeopardy if Europe slumps -- by Rachel Beck

Big corporate profits fueled by strong international sales could disappear fast if Europe's economy begins to falter, stripping many multinational companies of a huge source of earnings growth. Europe accounts for almost half of U.S. companies' foreign sales, according to Citigroup. That's something you can't ignore when domestic sales are faltering under the weight of higher prices for oil, gas and food.

5/28/08

RNW: Is Amsterdam turning into a prudish backwater? - by Frank Scimone

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Is Amsterdam turning into a prudish backwater? - by Frank Scimone

The owners of cafés in the centre of Amsterdam are again up in arms against what they say is the umpteenth attempt to turn the city into a prudish provincial backwater. A majority of the Amsterdam district council 'Amsterdam Centrum' have voted in favour of a measure that would forbid customers from sitting outside on a terrace past midnight. A Dutch newspaper says the centre of Amsterdam is moving another step towards becoming a 'Staphorst on the Amstel'. Staphorst is considered the most strict and devout Calvinist town in the Netherlands.The Amsterdam City Council is also in the process of "cleaning up" the city. Permits for a large numbers of rooms in the Red Light District, where prostitutes stand behind windows, are being rescinded. The rooms are being turned into fashion shops and the women replaced by mannequins in designer clothes. Recently the town council ordered the closure of the famous sex club Yab Yum as well as the live-sex theatre Casa Rosso.

One website which has collected thousands of signatures protesting against the council's policies writes: "This is where Rembrandt rose to fame, Michiel de Ruyter departed for his epic journeys, the great author Descartes wrote his best works and (besides Paris) the first city to erect lights...we were then progressive. Now...our city seems more like a provincial village than one with the allure of an international metropolis...The beautiful vibrant city centre is being literally paralysed. A city is a city with all of its achievements, as well as its bad habits...When someone moves to the country he can't ask for a ban on fertiliser, roosters and mooing... Amsterdam should remain Amsterdam. A fantastic place where for centuries freedom and individual development have been of paramount importance."

Tech Digest: European manned spaceship shown off in Berlin

Astrium - European Manned Space module


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European manned spaceship shown off in Berlin

It's only a prototype, but the new EADS Astrium design here is based on the existing unmanned Jules Verne pod already flying about up there, so it could easily take scientists and the odd paying billionaire up into the ionosphere with a bit of tweaking.Within 10 years, according to EADS, there could be a manned European space programme should the various countries involved not mind coughing up the enormous amount of money - about one billion euros - required. With the ancient American space shuttles due to be taken out of service in 2010, Europe could well find itself at the forefront of manned space travel.

Publishers battle to sign up Europe's sex sensation - by Jason Burke

Charlotte Roche - sex with a smile on your face


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

Publishers battle to sign up Europe's sex sensation - by Jason Burke

Charlotte Roche's exploration of filth in all its meanings now tops Germany's literary charts. Soon it will hit the shelves in her country of birth. Wetlands, which has beaten Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns and Ken Follett's latest to the top of Amazon's international sales list, has sparked a frenzy among major British publishers. Roche's German publishers last week refused to speak to The Observer or to arrange an interview with Roche to avoid pre-empting what is expected to be a massive UK deal and publicity campaign. 'No, nothing, impossible,' they said.

For whether it is the fantasies about sex, the polemics against the use of deodorants, the avocado cores grown specially for use in masturbation, or the detailed and inventive passages of scatological or genital description, Wetlands has left few indifferent.

Time Magazine: Think Gas is High in US? Try Europe - by Bruce Crumley

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Think Gas is High in US? Try Europe - by Bruce Crumley

American motorists are understandably grumbling over skyrocketing gas prices as the summer travel season approaches. But their pain hardly registers against the rage afoot in Europe these days. Fishermen, truck drivers and farmers are threatening to bring entire economic sectors to a halt with protests against crippling fuel costs. The wave of angry action is expected to spread further across Europe in coming days, despite efforts by political leaders to feel the pain and figure out how to alleviate it.

Note EU-Digest: Even though a EURO is worth more than $1.55 dollars, gas prices at the pump in Europe are going up just as fast as in America. Is their something wrong with the mathematics here? How come no-one seems to be able to deal with the oil companies?

EU-Digest: Google Blogger customers experiencing constant FTP publishing problems

For the complete report from the EU-Digest special edition click on this link

EU-Digest:Google Blogger customers experiencing constant FTP publishing problems

For several years now EU-Digest has been one of the most widely read news blogs related to events impacting on Europe. To publish this electronic daily newsletter in Blog format EU-Digest has used Google Blogger File Transfer Protocol (FTP) on the Internet via its Europe House provider Globat. This publishing technology has not always been flawless, but acceptable. Unfortunately it has become steadily worse. Interruption of services lasting for over a week have become common practice, with limited recourse in the area of customer support.

Sharing information digitally, often in the form of documents, media files or data files, is critical in today's world. It relies on collaborative teams in the public and private sector to efficiently share information, so that the customer can eventually benefit. When this flow of information becomes one-sided or is broken, it constitutes a breach of article ten of the European Court of Human Rights. This article warrants the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas. In the case of Google there seems to be a common feeling among customers that there is either incompetency in the technical support area, or not enough customer support staff. We dare not think that what might look like technical troubles, could in fact be indirect censorship from sources "higher up". In this case on the content of some of the copy published by blogs considered "unfriendly' to the Establishment.

For Google, censorship might not be of too great of a concern to its management. In China, Google recently said it will censor its search services there in order to gain greater access to China's fast-growing market. The company has set up a new site - Google.cn - in China, which it says will censor itself to satisfy the authorities in Beijing. Google has, however, resisted efforts by the US Department of Justice to make it disclose data on what people are searching for. To enable our readers to stay connected to EU-Digest during what have become frequent interruptions of Google blogger services, please go to EU-Digest - special edition

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Times OnLine: UK juddering down a rockier policy path than the US - by Gerard Baker

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UK juddering down a rockier policy path than the US - by Gerard Baker

For all the fashionable chatter in economic circles about how the world has decoupled from America in the past few years, the crisis unfolding in Britain is proceeding along remarkably similar lines to the one that has engulfed the US. Nothing better illustrates the point than the bleak state of the incumbent party’s political prospects. In Britain the governing party toils below 30 per cent in the opinion polls, the Opposition wins control of London and takes its first parliamentary by-election in 30 years. In the US the approval rating of the President barely touches 30 per cent and his party has lost three “safe” congressional seats in special elections in the past three months.

Note EU-Digest - the reason why Britain is still coupled to the US can all be traced back to the "meeting of the minds" between former President Reagan and former UK PM Thatcher, as to the alignment of economic policies of the US and Britain. Both Britain and the US can thank these two politicians for the disastrous state these two nations are in. On top of that, Britain's aversion of the EU and everything it stands for, including its superior long-term economic policies which do not align themselves blindly with the US is coming to haunt them in a big way.

VNUNET: EU security agency calls for breach notification law - by Tom Young

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EU security agency calls for breach notification law - by Tom Young

The European Union's (EU) online security body is calling for a continent-wide law requiring firms to notify customers of data security breaches. Internet security is vital to the EU's economy, says the European Network and Information Security Agency (Enisa) in a report. Andrea Pirotti, executive director of Enisa, said the EU should adopt a US-style notification law. "Enisa calls for the EU to introduce mandatory reporting on security breaches and incidents for business, just as the US has already done," he said.

5/27/08

Seattlepi.com: World will be forced to conserve energy this time - - by Hamish Mcrae

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World will be forced to conserve energy this time - by Hamish Mcrae

This time it is different. True, this is an oil shock akin to those that struck the world economy in the 1970s, for the price of oil -- even allowing for inflation -- is now a lot higher than it was at the 1979 peak. Those shocks pushed the world economy into two recessions, in the mid- 1970s and the early 1980s, and helped drive inflation into double digits in most of the developed world. Unemployment soared as interest rates were raised to try to curb inflation. But then the oil price fell back again as new fields came into production and countries made a start on conserving oil.

5/26/08

Reuters: Wind power could make Norway Europe's battery - by Alister Doyle

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Wind power could make Norway Europe's battery - by Alister Doyle

Norway could become "Europe's battery" by developing huge sea-based wind parks costing up to $44 billion by 2025, Norway's Oil and Energy Minister said on Monday. Norway's Energy Council, comprising business leaders and officials, said green exports could help the European Union reach a goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity by 2020 from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro or wave power.

Forbes.com: Hungary central bank ups base rate, monetary conditions to stay strict

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Hungary central bank ups base rate, monetary conditions to stay strict

Hungary central bank ups base rate, monetary conditions to stay strict

Hungary's central bank raised the base rate on Monday and said it would maintain a strict monetary policy in the face of inflationary risks, leaving the door open for another hike. The bank increased the base rate 25 basis points to 8.5 percent in a move anticipated by markets. The bank has now increased interest rates 1 percentage points over the last three months.

Guardian.co.uk:Denmark cuts 2009 economic growth forecast to 0.7%

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Denmark cuts 2009 economic growth forecast to 0.7%

Denmark's Finance Ministry cut on Monday its forecast for economic growth next year to 0.7 percent from a prediction of 1 percent in February, but said the economy was well-positioned to weather the global slowdown. In its latest economic outlook, the government left its 2008 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast unchanged at 1.2 percent.
The 2008 public budget surplus was seen at 72.4 billion Danish crowns ($15.26 billion), up from 66.7 billion in February, helped by larger North Sea oil revenues. The 2009 surplus was seen at 53 billion, up from 51.5 billion in February. "Even though growth is dampened and employment falls, unemployment will continue to be historically very low -- so low that the pressure on wages will continue for some time," Finance Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in a statement.

IHT: Poland, Sweden propose new EU outreach for eastern Europe

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Poland, Sweden propose new EU outreach for eastern Europe

Poland and Sweden sought support Monday from other European Union nations for a new outreach program to build closer ties with Ukraine and the EU's other former Soviet neighbors to the east. The plan would go beyond the EU's current "neighborhood policy," which groups eastern European countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus with nations in North Africa and the Middle East. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said it was important to make a distinction because the easterners are European nations who could one day apply to join the EU. Poland and Sweden presented the plan at a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Forbes.com: France's Lagarde concerned over currency 'misalignments'

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France's Lagarde concerned over currency 'misalignments'

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said she is concerned about the 'misalignments' of global currencies but said the problem is broader than simply the a weak dollar. 'It is not just the dollar,' Lagarde told reporters late Friday following a speech in Chicago, echoing remarks she made in an interview published Thursday in the International Herald Tribune.

5/25/08

Bloomberg.com: France's Laurent Cantet Wins Palme d'Or at Cannes - by Farah Nayeri

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France's Laurent Cantet Wins Palme d'Or at Cannes - by Farah Nayeri

Entre les Murs,'' a classroom drama directed by Frenchman Laurent Cantet, won the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or award for best picture at a red-carpet gala today, giving France its first Cannes victory in 21 years. The verdict came as a surprise. Cantet's two-hour movie (titled ``The Class'' in English and among the last to be screened), shows a high-school teacher challenged by his students in a troubled suburb of Paris, and is based on an autobiographical book by Francois Begaudeau, who plays himself.

Guardian.uk: Eurovision: pop or geopolitics, asks Terry Wogan

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Eurovision: pop or geopolitics, asks Terry Wogan

The Russian nation celebrated its first Eurovision song contest victory last night. I celebrated the 30 quid that I won in a Eurovision party sweepstake. But Terry Wogan found little to be cheery about.With the contest's expansion into the newer states of eastern Europe, the long-standing tradition of Cyprus giving Greece 12 points and vice versa has now spread around much of the continent. The Balkan nations - who, remember, have been squabbling and separating for hundreds of years - certainly like to support one anothers' musical offerings. Last night saw the Slavic and Baltic nations join the former Soviet republics in their fulsome support for Dima Bilan and his power ballad, Believe.

Guardian UK. : Russian Bear is back with Eurovision, sport wins - by Guy Faulconbridge

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Russian bear is back with Eurovision, sport wins - by Guy Faulconbridge

The Russian bear is back on the world stage and political leaders are making the most of it. Wins in the Eurovision Song Contest, on the ice rink and the soccer field have given Russia, already bolstered by a world bull market for oil and eight years of calm in the Kremlin, a new feeling of confidence. Dima Bilan, a lithe 26-year-old singer, beat 24 contestants to give Russia its first victory in the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with a rock ballad "Believe". During his performance, Russian Olympic gold figure skating medallist Evgeni Plushenko danced around him on skates and Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton played a Stradivarius. "Russia's victories are coming one after another -- football, hockey and now Eurovision," Bilan, draped in a Russian tricolour flag and his shirt open, told reporters in Belgrade after the contest.

5/24/08

Bloomberg.com: EU Economy - Trichet Says Shocks Aren't Over for Europe's Economy - by Allan Katz

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Trichet Says Shocks Aren't Over for Europe's Economy EU Economy - Trichet Says Shocks Aren't Over for Europe's Economy - by Allan Katz

European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet said the shocks to Europe's economy from financial market turmoil and rising food and commodity prices aren't over, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an interview. Europe is facing a protracted period of high inflation rates, the newspaper quoted Trichet as saying. Trichet also said the ECB would deliver price stability in the medium term, the newspaper said. The ECB has refrained from following the U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of England in lowering interest rates to shore up growth after an increase in borrowing costs. While euro-region inflation slowed to 3.3 percent in April from a 16-year high of 3.6 percent in March, it's still above the ECB's 2 percent limit. Trichet also called for a single European market for financial services in order to optimize the central bank's policy instruments and to improve the cohesion of European monetary union, the newspaper reported.

pajamasmedia: Euromania

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Euromania

We Americans, we are told, are violators of freedom and have shredded our Western heritage through Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, and detentions. But if one were to assess rationally the degree of privacy and freedom in Europe, by any fair margin it proves far more the police state. There are far more municipal surveillance video cameras. On the highway flashes go off, as computerized cameras snap pictures of speeding motorists who set off their sensors. Bus drivers must find ingenious ways to hide their hours logged driving, as they insert their computerized cards into their ignition to start their motors. All that seems unimaginable in the US.

Reuters: US economic meltdown - Oil shock threatens lasting changes to U.S. economy - -by Emily Kaiser and Matt Daily

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US economic meltdown: Oil shock threatens lasting changes to U.S. economy - by Emily Kaiser and Matt Daily

Oil's relentless price rise has pushed U.S. drivers off the road, curbed consumers' appetite for expensive goods, forced airlines into their deepest cuts in years and threatened car makers with a flood of red ink. It all points to a dramatic shift in the U.S. economy as oil's surge above $130 per barrel forces already cash-strapped households and companies to rethink business as usual, and the changes are likely to be lasting, even if energy prices retreat. "The weakness in the United States economy in housing, that we have read about for over a year, with the mortgage crisis and credit crunch, was one blow. But oil is another blow, and it's probably one blow too many," Dow Chemical (DOW.N: Quote, Profile, Research) Chief Executive Andrew Liveris told Reuters.

EUobserver.com: EU to toughen rules against illegal migrants - by Elitsa Vucheva

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EU to toughen rules against illegal migrants - by Elitsa Vucheva

EU ambassadors on Thursday (22 May) agreed common rules to tackle illegal immigration, making it possible to detain irregular migrants for up to 18 months. The rules will not cover asylum-seekers, but all those who overstay their visa period will be affected, according to an AFP report.

5/23/08

BBC NEWS: Germany ratifies EU reform treaty

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Germany ratifies EU reform treaty

Germany has completed ratification of the European Union's reform treaty. The document easily won the necessary two-thirds majority in the upper house, which represents the country's 16 federal state governments. The lower house overwhelmingly backed the pact, known as the Lisbon Treaty, last month.

MSN Money: What if gas cost $10 a gallon? - Shirley Skeel

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What if gas cost $10 a gallon? - by Shirley Skeel

Thousands of truckers would go bankrupt. Airplanes would sit idle in hangars. Restaurants and stores would shut down. Car-pooling, hybrid vehicles, scooters and inline skates would swing into vogue. And telecommuting, rooftop vegetable gardens, home cooking and recycling would proliferate.Consumer spending on eating out, clothing, electronics, vacations and other little luxuries would fall sharply. A Nielsen study found that even at recent gas prices, 41% of consumers were eating out less. In total, 18% of those surveyed were cutting spending to a "great degree." That would bruise companies such as Applebee's, Macy's, Gap, Best Buy and others. But discount retailers, particularly those selling food and gas, could do relatively well. Think Costco, Wal-Mart and McDonald's.

Reuters.com: North Africa, south Europe close ranks on security - by Noiselle Champagne

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North Africa, south Europe close ranks on security - by Noiselle Champagne

States from southern Europe and north Africa agreed on Thursday to share intelligence and work together to fight terrorism, drug-trafficking and illegal migration in the Western Mediterranean. Ministers of the 10-nation Western Mediterranean interior ministers' conference (CIMO) held cooperation talks in the west Saharan state of Mauritania, where al Qaeda gunmen have killed French tourists and local soldiers in the last six months. In recent years, the Islamic republic straddling Arab and black Africa has also become a transit point for thousands of illegal migrants, and drug shipments, headed for Europe.

5/21/08

ArabNews: US-Led Capitalist System Headed for Collapse? - by Syed Rashid Husain

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US-Led Capitalist System Headed for Collapse? - by Syed Rashid Husain

Oil prices continue to rise and rise, with no end in sight. Virtually all other commodities seem to be following to be the same suit. Some now say a new economic system is emerging from the ashes of the old and now crumbling financial structure. Failing to meet even the basic needs of the common man, the current economic system is facing its worst crisis and appears in doldrums. It has miserably failed the underprivileged of this world. Markets appear divorced from the fundamentals. F. William Engdahl strongly says in a recent write up that the oil markets (and other markets too) today are controlled by an elaborate financial market system as well as by the four major Anglo-American oil companies. As much as 60 percent of today’s crude oil price is pure speculation driven by large trader banks and hedge funds. It has nothing to do with the convenient myths of Peak Oil. It has to do with control of oil and its price. And the end-result is growing deprivation to a large number of people across geographical boundaries!

5/20/08

Mercury news: France confirms contacts with Hamas - by Steven Erlanger

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France confirms contacts with Hamas - by Steven Erlanger

France confirmed Monday that it has had contacts with the leaders of Hamas for several months to try to better understand the positions of the Islamist group that is running Gaza. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner emphasized that there were no negotiations with Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. "These are not relations, they are contacts," Kouchner said on Europe1 radio. "We are not the only ones to have them," he said. "We must be able to talk if we want to play a role."

MSNB: Cycling in Europe for the dollar-impaired - by Tim Leffel

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Cycling in Europe for the dollar-impaired - by Tim Leffel

A bicycle trip through Europe? It’s a romantic vision, with days spent meandering through southern France, or moving across green fields from pub to pub in Ireland. There are plenty of options beyond these typical tour brochure staples, with a price tag that won’t leave you gasping for air. There are surprisingly extensive cycling greenways through Austria and the varied countries nearby — Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. Most of the cycling takes place off the main roads in this region and the price tag is often half what you would pay in Western Europe.

Philly.com: Spanish firm offers $12.8 billion to lease Pa. Turnpike - by Paul Nusbaum

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Spanish firm offers $12.8 billion to lease Pa. Turnpike- by Paul Nusbaum

A Spanish toll-road operator won the bidding war to operate the Pennsylvania Turnpike, offering $12.8 billion for a 75-year lease, Gov. Rendell said today. The proposal by Abertis Infraestructuras, of Barcelona, must be approved by the Pennsylvania legislature, and legislative leaders in Harrisburg have said the plan faces tough sledding with lawmakers. In making the largest bid ever for the private operation of a U.S. toll road, Abertis partnered with a subsidiary of U.S. investment bank Citigroup, and Spanish investment firm Criteria CaixaCorp. Abertis operates toll roads in Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Puerto Rico. The company also operates airports, telecommunications systems and parking garages.

RFeuters: Capgemini sees Indian IT firms growing in Europe - by Dominique Vidalon

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Capgemini sees Indian IT firms growing in Europe - by Dominique Vidalon

Capgemini sees Indian IT firms growing in Europe - by Dominique Vidalon

Indian IT giants such as Infosys (INFY.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) can look forward to years of growth in Europe, the chief executive of Capgemini (CAPP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), Europe's biggest IT group, told Reuters. Paul Hermelin said Indian firms could move on to Europe as U.S. growth slowed, adopting the same strategy of offshoring processes easy to separate from other operations for multinationals that was so successful in the United States.

5/19/08

PC World: 38 in US, Romania Charged in Phishing Schemes: by Grant Gross

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Thirty-eight people in the U.S. and Romania have been charged in two indictments alleging they used complicated Internet phishing schemes to steal thousands of credit and debit card numbers, U.S. and Romanian authorities announced Monday. The indictments, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and the District of Connecticut, focus on two related phishing schemes with ties to organized crime, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Phishing involves sending e-mail messages that look like official correspondents from banks or credit card vendors in an attempt to get recipients to go to a fake Web site and enter their account numbers. The Romanian members of the organization obtained thousands of credit and debit card accounts and other personal information through phishing, according to the indictment. The group sent more than 1.3 million spam e-mail messages in one phishing attack, the DOJ said. The Romanians collected the victims' information and sent the data to cashiers in the U.S. through Internet chat messages, the DOJ said. The U.S. cashiers used hardware called encoders to record the fraudulently obtained information onto the magnetic strips on the back of credit and debit cards. Cashiers then directed other criminals called runners to test the fraudulent cards by checking balances or withdrawing small amounts of money at ATMs.

Forbes.com: Most EU member states defend common agricultural policy

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Most EU member states defend common agricultural policy

The majority of the European Union (EU)'s member states are defending the the bloc's common agriculture policy which the UK recently accused of being partly responsible for price increases and global food crises. A diplomatic source told Agence France-Press on the fringes of a meeting in Brussels that most agriculture ministers have rejected the suggestion that the common agriculture policy is responsible for an increase in prices.

5/18/08

The Guardian: Going local in Suriname - by Vicky Barker

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Going local in Suriname - by Vicky Barker

When Diana comes to my hostel's door, she is wearing a name badge: "Diana, Servas Suriname." I wouldn't have thought this was entirely necessary, given that there's only the two of us heading out for a drink, however it seems my travel-networking experiment has taken a more formal turn. I'm now in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, next to Guyana on the northern shores of South America, and stylishly dressed Diana is here in her official capacity: president of the local chapter of Servas, the world's oldest travel networking site. The internet may have driven the new wave of travel networking, but the original global hospitality project started back in 1949. With members in over 100 countries and a motto of promoting "peace through understanding", Servas (joomla.servas.org) was founded by an American pacifist, Bob Luitweiler, who died last month, aged 90. Most intriguingly, unlike the new websites, where anyone can sign up and log on, potential Servas members can only join after having a face-to-face interview.

Servas is an international, non-governmental, multicultural peace association run by volunteers in over 100 countries. Founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement, Servas International is a non-profit organization working to build understanding, tolerance and world peace. For more information and background on Bob Luitweiler’s vision, read his description in Seeds of Servas. They operate through a network of Servas hosts around the world who are interested in opening their doors to travellers , and of Servas travellers who want to get to know the heart of the countries they visit.
Servas helpers are members who support the goals of the organization in other ways, through leadership and communication or perhaps as a representative at the United Nations. Servas International has consultative status as a non-governmental organisation with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, with representation at many of the UN's hubs of activity.

EuroNews : Feuds overshadow EU-Latin America summit

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Feuds overshadow EU-Latin America summit

A politically charged atmosphere is overshadowing the European and Latin American summit in Peru, threatening to undermine efforts to fight poverty and global warming. Host Peru is in favour of free trade, along with several other countries in the region. The EU is in negotiations with the trade bloc Mercosur, led by Brazil and Argentina, and Central American countries. But at the summit in the capital Lima, some participants like Bolivia are sceptical. War clouds loomed recently between Venezuela and neighboring Colombia. These still linger - as does the whiff of insult aimed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

DW: German Economy Powers Ahead

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German Economy Powers Ahead

Experts are predicting that economic growth will slip this year. They cite the financial crisis, high oil and gas prices and the expensive euro. But the German economy is currently quite robust -- perhaps even more robust than many experts think. The surprisingly strong jump in economic activity during the first quarter is evidence of this. While gross domestic product increased by only 0.3 percent in October, November and December, it rose by 1.5 percent in the first three months of 2008. That is an amazing increase that however shouldn't lead to hasty conclusions. A closer look reveals the reasons for the unexpected growth, as well as the markers that will influence further developments.

Bloomberg.com: East European Growth to Slow on Inflation, EBRD Says - by Daryna Krasnolutska and Maria Levitov

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East European Growth to Slow on Inflation, EBRD Says - by Daryna Krasnolutska and Maria Levitov

Economic growth will slow this year across eastern Europe because of accelerating inflation and the credit crunch, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said. The London-based EBRD estimates overall growth for the region of about 6 percent this year, compared with 7.3 percent in 2007, the bank said today at its annual meeting in Kiev. That's still higher than the previous EBRD forecast of 5.5 percent, published on Jan. 23. ``Inflation, now in double digits in many countries, is the region's most pressing current problem,'' the EBRD said. ``Protracted stress in western financial markets could lead to a sharper-than-expected downturn in capital flows to the region, which could expose the substantial external financing requirements of some countries.''

5/17/08

CBC News: Fleshy UK Artist Freud nude sets new world record at auction

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Fleshy UK Artist Freud nude sets new world record at auction

A fleshy, life-sized nude portrait by U.K. artist Lucien Freud fetched more than $30 million US at a Christie's auction in New York Tuesday night and set a new record for the sale of a work by a living artist. Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, Freud's 1995 painting of a sleeping, naked woman, sold to an anonymous buyer for $33.6 million US (including the auction house commission). The portrait depicts a civil servant named Sue Tilley asleep on a worn sofa. Tilley has said she posed for the acclaimed, 85-year-old artist over several years during the early 1990s.

The Space Fellowship: Russian space program bedeviled by problems

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Russian space program bedeviled by problems

Sea Launch, the U.S.-Russian-Ukrainian-Norwegian consortium using a mobile sea platform for equatorial launches of commercial payloads on specialized Zenit-3SL rockets, has announced that its planned May 21 launch will be postponed indefinitely. This minor setback highlights major problems plaguing the Russian space program. The launch was postponed because a similar rocket that lifted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan in late April failed to place an Israeli satellite into the intended 36,000-km geostationary orbit. The customer will now have to use the satellite’s precious fuel reserve in order to attain the required orbit. Sea Launch executives have therefore decided to suspend operations pending an investigation of the abortive Baikonur launch.

BusinessWeek - High Speed Trains Europe-Thalys trains launch Wi-Fi

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High Speed Trains Europe-Thalys trains launch Wi-Fi

Thalys, the high-speed railway network connecting Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne, on Wednesday launched wireless broadband Internet on board its trains. Initially, some 25 percent of Thalys trains will offer wireless access, with all 26 train sets equipped with Wi-fi by October, the company said. Thalys is the first operator offering Wi-fi access on cross-border high-speed trains. "With Wi-Fi we aim to better compete with airlines offering flights between Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne," said Jean-Michel Dancoisne, CEO of Thalys.

Forbes: Eurofighter consortium seeks to reinforce relationship with India - Forbes.com

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Eurofighter consortium seeks to reinforce relationship with India

The Eurofighter consortium is seeking to reinforce its relationship with India in a move to win a $10 billion deal to supply 126 Typhoon Eurofighter aircraft to the country's armed forces, Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore said, citing consortium officials. The newspaper cited Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of EADS unit Military Air Systems, as saying 'as part of our cooperation offer, we invite India to enter the Eurofighter family'. 'We are interested in creating a long-term relationship at political, industrial and military level,' he said.

Andrea Nappi, deputy chairman of Alenia Aeronautica, said if the consortium wins the contract it will build the first 18 planes in Europe and the rest will be manufactured under licence in India as stipulated by the local government, according to the daily.

Aviation Week : Airbus - A330 Could See 6% Dip In Maintenance Costs - by Frank Jackman

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Airbus - A330 Could See 6% Dip In Maintenance Costs - by Frank Jackman

Further increases in Airbus A330/A340 airframe maintenance intervals, combined with technology upgrades in Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, could result in a 6% decrease in direct maintenance costs for A330s powered by upgraded versions of the 100-inch, PW4168 powerplants, according to Stuart Colin, vice president of marketing for Airbus. At entry into service, the A330/A340 maintenance program called for A checks every 400 flight hours, C checks every 15 months, intermediate checks at five-year intervals and structural inspections every 10 years. Since then, the intervals have been escalated to A checks at every 600 flight hours, C checks at 18 month intervals, and intermediate checks every six years. Major structural inspections, heavy checks that take five weeks to complete, currently remain at 10 years, but that is expected to change by year-end, according to Colin.

Small Business News: US employment down by 151.000 in April - States' data offers gloomier view of U.S. employment - by Lisa Lampert

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US employment down by 151.000 in April-States' data offers gloomier view of U.S. employment - by Lisa Lampert

State-by-state employment figures released on Friday showed much deeper job losses last month than the U.S. government had reported, renewing concerns about the health of the economy. State data showed the U.S. economy lost 151,000 jobs in April, raising speculation that the federal government will increase its estimate of payroll losses which it reported earlier this month as 20,000.

Times OnLine: Unconditional love for murderer father - by Cloe Rhodes

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The day before her father’s death from bladder cancer in 2006, Natalia Aggiano held his frail hand as she said her last goodbye. Tears streamed down both their faces as she told him how much she loved him. Nothing in the tenderness of their final exchange hinted at the fact that nine years earlier Bruno Aggiano had begun a life sentence for the brutal murder of his wife Elva – Natalia’s mother. The depth of Natalia’s grief was all the more extraordinary because even before he committed his crime, she had felt only hatred for her father. Ever since she could remember, her father – who had grown up in a strict Catholic family in the Italian town of Brindisi – had exerted his authority over his English wife, nine years younger than himself, and their four children with brute force. “I hated him and I told him that all the time,” says Natalia. “He fell apart when my mum finally found the strength to leave him after almost 30 years, but I didn’t feel any sympathy. I remember laughing at him and telling him he’d ruined all our lives and that I hoped he’d go to hell.”

Yahoo News: No European Star Wars - -Peter Rothberg

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No European Star Wars-Peter Rothberg

Two leaders of the Czech Humanist movement are now going much further at great personal risk to dramatize why they see the base as nothing less than a grave threat to democracy in their country. On May 13, humanists Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar began what they say will be an indefinite hunger strike in Prague against the installation of the Star Wars' radar in the Czech Republic.

5/16/08

Hungary trashed in global competitiveness report : Realdeal.hu

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Hungary trashed in global competitiveness report

The Swiss IMD business school has published its annual World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2008, slamming Hungary for its permanently poor economic performance, Napi Gazdaság reports. The survey compared 55 economies and bumped Hungary down three spots to 38th this year. While Hungary's competitiveness suffered a setback in the past year, most of its regional rivals climbed higher up the chart. Slovakia, for instance, which was only one notch above Hungary last year, widened its lead to eight spots in 2008 and is now ranked 30th. Meanwhile, the Czechs also moved up four places to 28th, while Slovenia accelerated past Hungary from 40th to 32th. Even Poland, which lags behind Hungary, managed to climb eight spots to 44th.

Angus Reid: Yes Side Ahead in Ireland’s EU Treaty Race

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Yes Side Ahead in Ireland’s EU Treaty Race

More people in Ireland are in favor of ratifying a new common European treaty, according to a poll by Red C published in the Sunday Business Post. 38 per cent of respondents would vote to adopt the so-called Lisbon Treaty in next month’s referendum, while 28 per cent would vote against it. A third of respondents remain undecided. EU heads of state officially signed the European Constitution on Oct. 29, 2004. The project for a continental body of law was practically abandoned in 2005, after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the proposed document in two plebiscites.

DW: Germany to Send Troops to Western Afghanistan

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Germany to Send Troops to Western Afghanistan

German Defense Minister Jung has approved a short-term deployment of 45 German soldiers from their base in northern Afghanistan to the west of the country to help flush out insurgents. According to German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the troops will be deployed to stop the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents using one of the country's main roads to travel from the volatile south to carry out attacks in the west and north. Jung approved the request from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Thursday, a spokesman from his ministry said.

Forbes.com: Sarkozy tells EU to 'look at' its deficit figures for France - Forbes.com

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Sarkozy tells EU to 'look at' its deficit figures for France

France (Thomson Financial) - French president Nicolas Sarkozy told the European Commission to have a look at its deficit figures for France following yesterday's better-than-expected figures on French growth. 'I am simply saying to Brussels, look at your figures,' Sarkozy said during a visit to the Paris region to discuss labour market reform. French growth accelerated to 0.6 percent from 0.3 percent. Economists had forecast a first-quarter growth rate of 0.4 percent.

AJC.com: US economy - party is over - Stimulus hopes misplaced - by Govind Hariharan

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Stimulus hopes misplaced - by Govind Hariharan

Millions of households started receiving their gift checks from the federal government two weeks ago as part of the economic stimulus package signed into law earlier this year. The checks are making their way into bank accounts as the U.S. economy struggles with a possible recession. Ever since the Great Depression, recession fears have brought about a populist response from the federal government in the form of rebates and other "gifts." Most recently, in 2001, as the economy entered a recession, tax rebate checks of between $300 and $600 were mailed out to about two-thirds of U.S. households. The underlying belief is that such payouts, especially to lower-income households, will stimulate consumer spending —- which accounts for the biggest chunk of gross domestic product —- and thereby boost employment and incomes as businesses rush to meet increased demand. But despite hopes —- and enticements from retailers offering free rebate-check cashing, coupons and added value to gift cards —- that cash-strapped consumers will go out and spend their windfall, in reality the tax rebates won't do much to help the ailing economy get back on its feet. The economy is crippled by a housing crisis and credit crunch of alarming proportions; debt-burdened households that are shopping more at Wal-Mart than at Target; soaring oil and commodity prices that are stoking fears of inflation; a softening job picture; a weak dollar that makes imports more expensive; and a volatile stock market. Consumers are seriously worried about their jobs and the economy. Any extra dollars that end up in their pockets will certainly not be used for discretionary spending.

IHT: German economy leads euro area to surprisingly robust quarter - by Carter Dougherty

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German economy leads euro area to surprisingly robust quarter - by Carter Dougherty

Surprising even the most optimistic forecasters, the German economy grew 1.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, delivering its best performance in over a decade despite the global financial crisis and recessionary fears enveloping the United States. The euro zone, where Germany accounts for a third of economic output among 15 members, grew 0.7 percent during the period, the statistics agency Eurostat reported Thursday. The region's numbers, which represent quarter-on-quarter growth, also got a surprising lift from France, where the economy grew 0.6 percent in the first quarter.

Daily Record: Soccer UEFA - Zenit - Rick: We Can Rock Europe

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Soccer UEFA - Zenit - Rick: We Can Rock Europe

FERNANDO RICKSEN last night insisted Zenit St Petersburg will be a force in the Champions League next season. The UEFA Cup winners go into the premier competition next term after capturing the Russian title for the first time in 23 years. Ricksen insists Zenit won't fear anyone. He said: "We will have to see who we get in the group but I think our team is one of the best in Europe.

5/15/08

Bloomberg.com: Hitler Prays, Jesus Gets Thrashed as Paris Surveys Faith in Art - by Jorg von Uthmann

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Hitler Prays, Jesus Gets Thrashed as Paris Surveys Faith in Art - by Jorg von Uthmann

President Nicolas Sarkozy shocked his secular compatriots in December when he assured Pope Benedict XVI that the Christian faith was deeply rooted in French society. The Pompidou Center in Paris seems to have anticipated the debate sparked by Sarkozy's comments. The exhibition ``Traces du Sacre'' (``Traces of the Sacred'') could not be more timely. Now that Nietzsche has pronounced God dead, curators ask, and that the 20th century has embraced atheism, materialism and hedonism, what is left of the sacred in art?

The Guardian.co.uk: Poland is overtaking Britain on the road to Europe - and to the euro - Timothy Garton Ash

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Poland is overtaking Britain on the road to Europe - and to the euro - Timothy Garton Ash

In Krakow, Poland's Oxford, the Brits don't have a good reputation. They pile in with easyJet for drunken hen, stag and thug weekends, carousing loudly, half-naked, through the cobbled streets of this conservative, Catholic city. And they call it "kraking". In some bars, I was told, there are signs saying No Brits Allowed. Even the Germans are more welcome. So much has changed since I first came to Krakow, nearly 30 years ago, just after the newly elected Polish pope, John Paul II, had spoken straight to the hearts of two million people in his beloved city - "in which every stone and every brick is dear to me" - and left a country and, soon enough, a Europe transformed.

5/14/08

Spiegel: Europe Plans Manned Spaceship - by Christoph Sedler

A modified ATV could become Europe's very own manned space craft


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Europe Plans Manned Spaceship- by Christoph Sedler

The news was only announced to a small group of people. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the aerospace group EADS Astrium had invited a mere handful of journalists to Bremen. Hardly any information had been revealed before the meeting, only nebulous hints. Now the reason for the secrecy has become apparent. Astrium is planning to add a new chapter to the history of space exploration. Engineers have quietly been developing a plan that would lead to the entry of Europe into manned space travel — if it gets political backing. Planners say manned European spaceflight could become a reality within nine years. The essence of the plan is to turn Europe's unmanned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) into a full spacecraft in two stages.

EUobserver.com: A European Monroe Doctrine - Brussels outlines plan for new Mediterranean club - by Honor Mahoney

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Brussels outlines plan for new Mediterranean club - by Honor Mahoney

The European Commission has begun to look at the possible set-up for the planned Mediterranean union by trying to breathe life into current bilateral relations between the EU and Mediterranean countries while avoiding an unwieldy new political organization.

An internal paper discussed last week in EU commissioners' cabinets, suggests the new relationship has to be a "multilateral partnership" and "encompass all member states of the European Union."It suggests summits at head of state and government level twice a year with the first official one to take place in Paris on 13 July, when France has the EU presidency. This maiden summit is to formally create the "Barcelona Process - A Union for the Mediterranean" and establish the union's "structures and principle goals." The summit's conclusions should include "a political declaration" and a short list of "concrete projects to be put in place" all of which should be agreed by consensus.

National Post: US Elections - Worrying signs for Obama in Clinton win

Hillary Clinton - strong showing in West Virginia


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US Elections - Worrying signs for Obama in Clinton win

Hillary Clinton won a commanding victory yesterday in West Virginia's Democratic primary, prolonging the party's presidential race and underscoring front-runner Barack Obama's weakness among blue-collar voters important to capturing the White House in November. Ms. Clinton's aides said the West Virginia results showed once again she would be the stronger candidate against Republican John McCain, citing her consistent support among lower-income Americans in swing states that will decide the November election. "The bottom line is this: The White House is won in the swing states and I am winning the swing states," Ms. Clinton said.

5/13/08

Times Online: Crédit Agricole to cut investment banking - by Adam Sage

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Crédit Agricole to cut investment banking - by Adam Sage

Crédit Agricole will scale down its investment banking business after stunning investors with the announcement of a €5.9billion (£4.6billion) capital increase following a new round of sub-prime writedowns yesterday. The move came as Société Générale, the rival French bank, also declared huge writedowns as the credit crunch rumbled across Europe. With Crédit Agricole's share price tumbling in the wake of a fresh debacle, Marc Litzler, the chief executive of Calyon, its investment unit, is set to be pushed aside this week.

The Market Oracle - the US Economic Meltdown - Save the US Economy and Rekindle Democracy by Giving the Workers a Raise

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson - is he misleading the US Public?


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the US Economic Meltdown - Save the US Economy and Rekindle Democracy by Giving the Workers a Raise

A specter is haunting Wall Street---the specter of insolvency. One major player, Bear Stearns, has already gone under, and from the looks of it, another may be on the way. It's getting ugly out there. The so-called TED spread---which measures the willingness of banks to lend to each other---has begun to widen ominously suggesting that the money markets believe another body will be floating to the surface any day now.The ongoing de-leveraging of financial institutions and the persistent downgrading of assets has the Fed in a tizzy. Bernanke has backed himself into a corner by stretching the Fed's mandate to include anyone on Wall Street with a mailing address and a begging bowl. Now he's taken on the larger task of fixing the plumbing that keeps credit flowing between the various investment banks. Good luck. He's already burned through nearly half of the Fed's balance sheet of $900 billion and the banking meltdown has just begun. The IMF expects the final tally will be $945 billion, that means $3 trillion in lost loans for the banks. Bernanke better pace himself; this mess could last for years.

Volumes have been written about the current crisis; subprime-this, subprime that. Everything that can be said about collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) credit default swaps(CDS) and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) has already been said. Yes, they are exotic “financial innovations” and, no, they are not regulated. But what difference does that make? There's always been snake oil and there's always been snake oil salesmen. Greenspan simply raised the bar a notch, but he's not the first huckster and he won't be the last. What really matters is underlying ideology; that's the root from which this economy-busting hydra sprung. 30 years of trickle down, supply-side gibberish; 30 years of idol worship for the waxy-haired reactionary, Ronald Raygun; 30 years of unrelenting anti-labor, free market, deregulated orthodoxy which inflated the biggest equity-Zeppelin in history. Now the bubble has sprung a leak and the escaping gas is wreaking havoc across the planet.

Paulson's plan is a power-play pure and simple. The investment Mafia wants to control the financial system lock, stock and barrel. They want to liquidate the SEC and any other government watchdog agency and put the investment banks, hedge funds and brokerages on the honor system. It's the end of transparency and accountability which, of course, are in short supply already. Comrade Paulson's blueprint fixes nothing. It's just another freebie for the parasite class. What the country really need is a few honest men who'll ride-herd on the Ken Lays and Jeffrey Skillings who presently run Wall Street. That doesn't require centralized power; just a rule book and a bullwhip.

Americas Watchdog and its National Mortgage Complaint Center are contesting U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson's May 7, 2008 statement that the U.S. credit crisis is nearing an end, as "a self serving lie, from a U.S. political appointee." According to Americas Watchdog, "A very greedy Wall Street, and a bought and paid for Congress & Bush Administration got us into the worst real estate disaster since the great depression, and now the best they can do is lie about the very dire future for the U.S. economy? All of the perceived U.S. real estate equity supposedly gained between 2003 & 2006 has vanished, or is in the process of vanishing, and Secretary Paulson thinks the credit crisis is nearing an end? Another way of putting this is more than $2 trillion in perceived equity has vaporized. U.S. banks lent money on this $2 trillion. Now its gone. The banks sold these mortgage loans to pension funds, or long term investors. Now the banks are having to buy back an increasing number of failed loans due to something called a buy back provision. Translation, the credit crisis is about to get much worse."

DW: Lithuania Cuts Deal to Lift Veto on EU-Russia Talks

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Lithuania Cuts Deal to Lift Veto on EU-Russia Talks

The Baltic nation of Lithuania agreed to lift its veto on the launching of a new European Union partnership agreement with Russia, local media reported on Monday, May 12. "Solidarity, demonstrated by the 27 EU nations and the European Commission, is not an empty word," said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas, according to delfi.lt news portal. Vaitiekunas met in Vilnius on Sunday with three EU foreign ministers: Sweden's Carl Bildt, Poland's Radoslaw Sikorski and Slovenia's Dimitrij Rupel, whose country chairs the EU presidency until June.

AJC.com: Europe may lift poultry barrier - by Shelly Emling

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Europe may lift poultry barrier - by Shelly Emling

In what would be a major boost for the U.S. poultry industry, the European Union appears close to lifting its 11-year-old ban on imports of American poultry. Some trade experts say an announcement could come as early as today after a meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council in Brussels.

Note EU-Digest - slowly but surely the EU is capitulating to US market forces which is forcing the EU to accept American food products which contain hormones and are genetically modified. What is the EU parliament doing about it?

5/12/08

Reuters: Venezuela's Chavez slams Germany's Merkel comments

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Venezuela's Chavez slams Germany's Merkel comments

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday almost told German Chancellor Angela Merkel to go to hell, but stopped short of insulting the woman leader on Mother's Day. Instead he called her a political descendant of Adolf Hitler and German fascism.

IHT: A feud over press freedom boils over in France - by Katrin Bennhold

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A feud over press freedom boils over in France - by Katrin Bennhold

First, President Nicolas Sarkozy's party accused Agence France-Presse of "censorship" for not publishing one of its press releases. Ten days later, the government suggested that the news agency create a service dedicated to publishing press releases. Press freedom has long been an uneasy subject in France, a country where many newspapers rely on government subsidies and where defense contractors control large swaths of the print and broadcast media.

Sofia Echo.com: Pro-EU parties wins Serbian elections, face difficult coalition talks

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Pro-EU parties wins Serbian elections, face difficult coalition talks

The coalition of parties headlined by president Boris Tadić' Democratic party (DS), won the Serbian parliamentary election on May 11, according to the preliminary data released by the country's election body RIK, but faces difficult talks to form the new government. The coalition, which ran under the name For a European Serbia, won 38.75 per cent, RIK said, having counted 97.8 per cent of all ballots. That would give it 102 MPs in the 250-seat assembly. DS would have little problem co-opting the small Liberal Democrat party (LDP), which won 14 seats, despite earlier vote count results showing it was below the five per cent threshold to enter parliament, but even then it would be 10 MPs short of a majority in parliament.

theTrumpet.com: Post-American Global Order Emerges - by Ron Fraser

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Post-American Global Order Emerges - by Ron Fraser

The very brief age of American dominance as a singular superpower has ended. Books, journal and magazine articles theorizing on just what composition the currently emerging global order—the post-American world order—will take are increasingly common. The most interesting aspect of these emerging analyses is how the scenarios presented by a number of well-known pundits parallel those Bible prophecies that speak of the state of the world as it will exist at the time immediately preceding the replacement of man’s historic but pitiful efforts at effective governance by a new global government.

The European Union, up to now, has lacked the cohesion to speak with a single voice on the international stage. That is slated to change with the ratification of the EU constitution/Reform Treaty in 2009. Then the EU will have its own president, its own minister of foreign relations, and its own diplomatic corps. It’s now even touting for its own finance ministry. The new centralizing powers embraced in the EU constitution/treaty will simply override the sovereign jurisdictions of the EU’s constituent states. This 27-nation monolith, under German political and economic domination, is quickly becoming the voice to be listened to on the world scene (Revelation 13:1, 7; 17:12).

Note EU-Digest: Religious brainwashing by people quating the bible.

5/11/08

AFP: Angola oil tiger plans investment in Europe

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Angola oil tiger plans investment in Europe

Angola oil tiger plans investment in Europe

Oil-rich Angola, which survived a quarter century of civil war to transform itself into an African El Dorado for keen investors, has begun investing profits in Europe, starting with the former colonial power Portugal. Angola has been steadily reconstructing since civil strife finally ended in 2002, and is now fast becoming a world player in oil production as sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer after Nigeria. Since 2004 its annual growth rate has passed 15 percent and it holds more than 11 billion dollars (seven billion euros) in foreign currency reserves.

News.com.au: Pro-Europe forces lead Serb poll count

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Pro-Europe forces lead Serb poll count

SERBIA'S pro-European forces were leading the vote count after today's general elections, election monitors said, giving their first unofficial preliminary estimates. The pro-European alliance gathered around President Boris Tadic's Democratic Party was "convincingly winning these elections," Zoran Lucic, of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID), said. According to the CeSID figures based on 50 per cent of their sample count, the "For a European Serbia" coalition had gathered 39 per cent of the vote, versus 28 per cent for the ultra-nationalist Radical Party.

Telegraph.co.uk: Beijing and Riyadh will call the shots on ailing dollar's future

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Beijing and Riyadh will call the shots on ailing dollar's future

It's been widely assumed Europe has escaped the worst of the credit crisis. And with the exception of UBS et al, the writedowns suffered by Continental banks have been much less than those in the States.After months of squabbling, not least at last month's G7 summit, an agreement has been struck that the greenback has become so weak it could soon slip into freefall. So, in a co-ordinated move, ECB and Fed officials are now talking the currency up, whispering to journalists and the markets that if the dollar doesn't strengthen there'll be "intervention" - which, for now at least, bolsters the greenback. But the situation is by no means stable. One reason is that the US has got by far the better end of the deal. The dollar seems to have stabilised, but at a level well below most estimates of its fundamental value.

5/10/08

The Independent: As Clinton campaign flounders, hopes of Democratic 'dream ticket' resurface - by Rupert Cornwell

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As Clinton campaign flounders, hopes of Democratic 'dream ticket' resurface - by by Rupert Cornwell

The rumour has resurfaced – perhaps inevitably, but this time stronger than ever: could the long and bitter battle for the Democratic nomination end in what many see as the perfect answer – Barack Obama united with the all-but-vanquished Hillary Clinton on a "dream ticket" for the White House? After his big primary win in North Carolina and very near miss in Indiana this week, Mr Obama himself gave fresh impetus to the speculation. "She is tireless, she is smart. She is capable," he told CNN. "Obviously she'd be on anybody's shortlist to be a potential vice-presidential candidate." On NBC he had a similar message: "There's no doubt that she's qualified to be vice-president, there's no doubt she's qualified to be President."

winnipegsun.com - France gets off the fence

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France gets off the fence

Nicolas Sarkozy's stirring declaration of love for Canada this week surprised Quebec separatists, who saw it as an abrupt about-face from France's longtime neutrality on Canadian unity. But sources in the Canadian government say the French president made it abundantly clear where he stood in his first meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper a year ago at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

AW.com: The drama continues - Friday - 52 Iraqis Killed, 157 Wounded

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The drama continues - Friday - 52 Iraqis Killed, 157 Wounded

Iraqi authorities ordered residents of Sadr City to temporarily abandon the Shi'ite suburb of Baghdad as fighting between Iraqi forces and the Mahdi army continue. At least 52 Iraqis were killed and 157 more were wounded across the country. A number of people were also killed or wounded in Basra, but their nationalities were not released. No Coalition deaths were reported. Hospital officials reported 15 dead and 112 wounded at two Sadr City hospitals. Women, children, and the elderly were among the casualties. Fourteen gunmen may also be among the 19 dead already reported. Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces ordered residents to leave the city and take temporary shelter elsewhere. Over 8,000 of the city's 2.5 million people have already left. Heavy fighting has taken place there since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ramped up his campaign against political rival Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr two months ago under the guise of a security operation in Basra.No casualties were reported after a rocket hit the BBC office. A Katyusha rocket injured three people in Mansour. No casualties were reported during mortar attacks on the Green Zone. U.S.

TheStar.com: Russia marks Victory Day in muscular Soviet style - by Malcolm Gray

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Russia marks Victory Day in muscular Soviet style - by Malcolm Gray

They can afford it now, so Russians celebrated victory over Nazi Germany by parading soldiers, tanks and missiles through Red Square yesterday for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. For Dmitry Medvedev, yesterday's Soviet-style Victory Fay parade was the first major event of a presidency only two days old. His predecessor, who months earlier gave the orders that saw 8,000 soldiers march across the square's historic cobbles, remained close by. Former president Vladimir Putin, now the prime minister, sat next to Medvedev on the reviewing stand as military hardware ranging from T-90 battle tanks to huge Topol-M ballistic missiles rolled past.