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8/31/08

Denver Post: Don’t forget: Georgia started Russia skirmish - by Mary Idler

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

Don’t forget: Georgia started Russia skirmish - by Mary Idler

All the time, there are more stories about how Georgia has suffered in its war with Russia. We hear lots of voices calling for support for Georgia, advocating its admission to NATO. But we need to remember how this war started: Georgia attacked.

The war started with Georgian military attacks against Ossetian civilians and Russian peacekeepers. Even our ambassador to Russia says that Russia’s initial response to attacks against their peacekeepers was legitimate. Russia probably went too far in its defeat of the Georgian blitzkrieg. But why don’t we condemn Georgia for starting this war? What were our military advisers doing there? Georgia’s aggressive action, and its dramatic demonstration that its borders are contested, mean that is should be completely ineligible for membership in NATO.

DW: Medvedev Says Russia Seeks Dialogue With EU

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Medvedev Says Russia Seeks Dialogue With EU

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has stressed that he wants a "constructive dialogue" with the European Union irrespective of the Georgia conflict. Berlin and Moscow aim to calm tensions in the Caucasus region. Medvedev told Brown that Russia welcomed the deployment of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers in the conflict regions of Georgia, Interfax news agency reported on Saturday, Aug. 30. The Russian president also requested the OSCE send more observers to Georgia, according to a statement released by the Kremlin.

China View: France not to seek sanctions on Russia at EU summit on Monday

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France not to seek sanctions on Russia at EU summit on Monday

France will not seek to impose sanctions against Russia over the current Russia-Georgia conflict at the European Union summit scheduled for Monday in Brussels, French media cited a source from the Elysee as saying.

"We are now in dialogue with Moscow, not in the phase of sanctions," the source was quoted by AFP as saying on Friday. Time for sanctions "is certainly not coming," it said. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country is now holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, called a special summit in Brussels to discuss the Russia-Georgia crisis and the future relationship between Russia and the EU.

Sun Sentinel - Ramadan: Memorizing the Quran part of Muslim holiday of Ramadan -- by James D. Davis

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Ramadan: Memorizing the Quran part of Muslim holiday of Ramadan -- by James D. Davis

Ramadan is the time, believers say, when God revealed the holy book to Muhammad 14 centuries ago. In observance of the event, Muslims pray and fast during daylight hours, and attend special prayer services nightly. At the services, known as Tarawih, a portion of the Quran is recited each night, so that the congregation has heard the whole book by the end of the month. The duty of leading that recital usually falls to a hafiz, who can recite the text by heart. "Ramadan is the season of the Quran," says Imam Rashid Ahmed, who teaches the class. "Even Prophet Muhammad recited it all the time. And it's a special time for a hafiz." A hafiz 14 and older may lead the nightly prayer. Many mosques hire a professional who is trained in precise, dramatic recitation; the Sunrise mosque in Fort Lauderdale Florida plans to bring in a specialist from Pakistan. Sheikh says he'll lead the prayers at the Islamic Movement of Florida in Hollywood.

KP.RU: Spiegel prepares to let loose “informational time bomb” against Georgian authorities - by Yulia Kuprina

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Spiegel prepares to let loose “informational time bomb” against Georgian authorities - by Yulia Kuprina

Germany’s Spiegel magazine announced the cover story of their new issue earlier this week, which will hit stands worldwide on Sept. 1. The article testifies to the “many poor decisions made by the Georgian authorities that led to the crisis in the Caucasus,” RIA Novosti reported. The article’s teaser promises an informational time bomb that is sure to complicate things for Georgia. Its authors claim that piles of evidence have accumulated at the OSCE headquarters detailing the Georgian authorities’ unsavory decisions that resulted in the conflict. Spiegel also notes that governmental bodies in Berlin have received information compiled by OSCE military observers in the Caucasus (via unofficial channels) that prove Georgia began the conflict.

Consortiumnews.com: US Elections - How the Republicans Win - by Robert Parry

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Barack Obama made it across the tightrope of the Democratic National Convention, gaining solid endorsements from Bill and Hillary Clinton and giving a rousing speech before some 80,000 supporters at Invesco Field in Denver. But now comes the time when the Republicans win elections.

UK's Brown: Europe must act together on Russia

International Herald Tribune

"UK's Brown: Europe must act together on Russia

LONDON: European countries should adopt a united energy policy to avoid becoming too dependent on Russia, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in an article published Sunday.

Brown said European Union nations should "use our collective bargaining power rather than seek separate energy deals with Russia.""

Georgian foreign minister calls for European unity against Russia

Georgian foreign minister calls for European unity against Russia:

"Georgian foreign minister calls for European unity against Russia
Europe News

Aug 31, 2008, 12:22 GMT

Ankara - Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili on Sunday called for the European Union to take a united stand against what she described as the Russian occupation of parts of her country."

Georgia crisis threatens EU bid for more energy sources - Feature : Europe World

Georgia crisis threatens EU bid for more energy sources - Feature : Europe World

"Georgia crisis threatens EU bid for more energy sources - Feature

Vienna - Europe's declared goal to shift away from Russian oil and gas was always a challenge. It's even more difficult after Moscow's assault on Georgia, analysts say. Georgia's strategic role as a pipeline transit country, run by a US-backed leadership that Moscow detests, formed the backdrop to the conflict that erupted in early August."

8/30/08

The Japan Times: World gives Russia an unfair rap - by Gregory Clark

World gives Russia an unfair rap | The Japan Times Online

World gives Russia an unfair rap - by Gregory Clark

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is an intelligent woman. So how can she possibly want to tell the world that Russia's response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia resembled the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The comparisons should be the reverse. The Russian willingness to go to the aid of a small region under brutal attack contrasts greatly with the empty Western rhetoric back in the days when Czechoslovakia or other regions were under Moscow attack. And the knee-jerk anti-Russian reactions of the media and other commentators too biased or lazy to question the official U.S. version of events parallels the Russian media's knee-jerk acceptance of Moscow's distorted explanations for past misdemeanors such as Chechnya.

U.S. President George W. Bush condemns the Russian attack as a violation of Georgian sovereignty. Did sovereignty concerns ever bother the United States during its attacks on various nations? Besides, we now have doctrines that say nations have moral obligations to intervene to defend peoples under immoral attack, regardless of sovereignty concerns. The Russians could easily claim that in Ossetia. The Russians are right to use the Kosovo example as a proof of Western hypocrisy. There, too, the Serbian minority population was under attack from Western-backed Albanian guerrillas. Serbian attempts to stop the attacks were amazingly described as Serbian ethnic cleansing.

American Chronicle: US election: Democrats Do Denver: Who Would Want to Elect Such a Bunch of Sour Pusses? - by Dan Calabrese

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

US election : Democrats Do Denver: Who Would Want to Elect Such a Bunch of Sour Pusses? - by Dan Calabrese

Three nights of listening to Democrats will either serve as an intense form of amusement or leave you thoroughly depressed. It all depends how seriously you take the message. But if you really listen to the message, it´s both inescapable and painstakingly familiar – which might be the reason Democrats running for president usually lead in the polls at some point, only to typically fall short in November. Keep the number to your therapist handy. Prepare for tale after woebegone tale of struggling Americans, worried and apprehensive about the future and desperately seeking a big, benevolent hand to keep them from falling into the abyss.

It´s about kitchen tables, where families pore over bills and despair that all is lost. It´s about the "global economy", which we are warned darkly that America will "lose" (Democrats always think economics is a zero-sum game) unless every single American is prosperous, which of course is not going to happen, which means we are going to lose.

NYT - Europe - A Hard Habit to Break, Even With Gas at $10 a Gallon - Elisabeth Rosenthal

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Europe - A Hard Habit to Break, Even With Gasat $10 a Gallon - Elisabeth Rosenthal

Ten dollars a gallon may seem unthinkable to American drivers still smarting from the spike in gas prices to around $4 a gallon. But that was nearly the price that Marco Annarumi faced recently when filling his Jeep on his way home from work.Gas prices have persuaded some people to drive less. Traffic on the Eurostar train that links London and Paris was up 21 percent in the first three months of 2008. Gas purchases in Italy dropped 10 percent compared with the year before. Sales of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles have plunged across the continent, just as they have in the United States. But, at least so far, there are few signs of the wholesale shift away from current driving habits that environmental economists contend is needed for European countries to meet emissions control targets. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says meeting the targets is crucial if the world is to prevent the worst effects of global warming.

The Guardian: Airlines: BA's transatlantic alliance under scrutiny from EU

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Airlines: BA's transatlantic alliance under scrutiny from EU

The planned transatlantic tie-up by British Airways, American Airlines and Spain's Iberia is being investigated by the European commission, it emerged yesterday. The commission could use its powers to unwind the joint business agreement denounced by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic as a "monster monopoly" and fine the three companies for restrictive business practices. It is understood that the commission's preliminary investigation has been under way since July - a month before the three airlines announced their deal - and was not, therefore, prompted by any complaint.

8/29/08

Telegraph.co.uk; Russia is fighting a new Cold War with banks and pipelines, not tanks and warplanes - by Edward Lucas

For the complete report from the Telegraph.co.uk

Russia is fighting a new Cold War with banks and pipelines, not tanks and warplanes - by Edward Lucas

In classical mythology, Georgia was the land where the Argonauts had to harness bulls with bronze hooves to win the Golden Fleece. Modern Georgia is the source of a treasure scarcely less precious: oil and gas from central Asia and the Caspian, piped along the only east-west energy corridor that Russia does not control. But whereas Jason and his comrades triumphed, our quest has ended in humiliating failure. Russia is also advocating a new pan-European security organization, with formal legal status. This, it hopes, will exclude the United States, and tie up the West in the knots of international law, so that military intervention of the kind seen in the former Yugoslavia becomes all but impossible.

Note EU-Digest: The Telegraph is one of the mouthpieces of British Conservatives who rather be part of the US than a member of the European Union.

LATimes: US elections - John McCain picks Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin as his VP

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US Elections - John McCain picks Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin as his VP

US Elections: McCain picks Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin as his VP

The rumor is true. As The Ticket reported just before dawn this morning, minutes ago, McCain confirmed that his vice presidential running mate is Sarah Alaska Governor Sarah Palin mother of five and lifetime National Rifle Association member and Republican presidential nominee senator John mcCain's pick as his vice presidential running mate . Palin, the first female governor of Alaska and the first woman on a national GOP ticket.

The 44-year-old Palin, a former city councilwoman, Alaskan mayor, star high school basketball player and beauty queen, is a Republican political maverick (does this sound familiar on a McCain ticket?). She overthrew her own state party's corrupt establishment in 2005-06 to run without its support and win on a reform ticket against a Democratic former governor, Tony Knowles.

guardian.co.uk; Dollar slips on news of Russia cutting oil flow

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Dollar slips on news of Russia cutting oil flow

The dollar retreated against a basket of currencies on Friday as fear that Russia may cut oil supplies to Western Europe spurred oil prices and nudged down the greenback.
The UK's Daily Telegraph reported Russia may restrict shipments in the coming days in response to the European Union's threat of sanctions over its military action in Georgia. Traders said the report was one reason oil was bought and the dollar was sold. The dollar gave up some gains made on Thursday on data showing the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace during the second quarter than initially thought. The dollar index dipped 0.2 percent to 76.952. Oil rose more than $1 to $116.73.

8/28/08

PressDemocrat: The US economy - Deconstructing the shocking truth of consumer confidence - by Dan Ariely

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Deconstructing the shocking truth of consumer confidence by Dan Ariely

We have a market paradox on our hands. Consumer confidence is close to a 40-year low, suggesting that the economy is in worse shape now than in times that seemed far darker, such as the early 1980s, when inflation and unemployment both crept into double digits. Yet many of the current economic indicators, including inflation and unemployment, are rather positive -- or at least not as negative as consumer sentiment implies.One idea comes from psychologist James Pennebaker at the University of Texas at Austin. Pennebaker's research repeatedly has shown that the active process of trying to make sense out of traumatic events -- often done through writing -- can help individuals recover from them.

A conscious effort to analyze and explain these economic crises is not only an important journalistic duty, it also is an essential element to our national mental health. But we still need to think about how to prevent such economic shocks. In fact, in our current vulnerable state, I am worried that another immediate shock -- most likely to occur in the health-care market -- could be too much for us to bear.

NYT - Sarkozy Reaches Out to Syria - by Steven Erlanger

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Sarkozy Reaches Out to Syria - by Steven Erlanger

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has announced plans to go to Syria next Wednesday to pursue restoring diplomatic ties and to seek the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, a French-Israeli soldier believed to be held by the Palestinian group Hamas, which is headquartered in Syria. Though the American government lists Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism, France has moved to open talks with its president, Bashar al-Assad.

AFP: Dollar rally fades amid hawkish comments from ECB member

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Dollar rally fades amid hawkish comments from ECB member

The dollar's rally ran out of steam Wednesday and the euro bounced back from a six-month low amid comments from European Central Bank member suggesting ECB rate cuts are not imminent.Chris Lafakis at Economy.com said comments by European monetary policymaker Axel Weber "are pressuring the dollar" by going against the market logic that rate cuts are coming in Europe to fire up lagging economic growth. "Weber sees no need for the European Central Bank to lower interest rates any time soon and said the ECB should consider raising interest rates when the European economy strengthens toward the end of this year," the analyst said.

South Asia News/M&C: Coalition collapse bad omen for fight against extremism - by Nadeem Sarwar

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Coalition collapse bad omen for fight against extremism - by Nadeem Sarwar

The collapse of Pakistan's ruling alliance has come as a disappointment for many Pakistanis longing for political stability, but it might also be a bad omen for Western allies who want to see the country focus on its fight against Islamic extremists.

Atlantic Free Press - Is "Capitalism" Collapsing – If So Who Rules? by Michael O'McCartney

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Is "Capitalism" Collapsing – If So Who Rules? by Michael O'McCartney

Or is it Socialism for the Rich having a crisis of "greed breakdown." The managers of the US corporate controlled state is rushing once again to do as they have been paid to do: Politicians bailing out greed-ridden elitists who manage the giant corporations of finance. The Republicans and Democrats are now doing for finance, (banks and home mortgage lenders as they have done production, as with Chrysler – one of the heads on the trillion dollar automobile – rubber – petroleum – highway – hospitality – transportation – highway construction – urban planning – a mega-headed serpent corporate combine.) The reality is that this is a statist government under the control of and for the benefit of the rich. The cowboys of oil (Bush and Cheney) are but puppet-like caricatures of the greed driven CEO class of managers who now comprise a new elite class of rulers in the US with an international familia. They are to economics as Bush is to international relations. They perceive an end result predicated upon their own narrow interests with everyone else taking or getting what is left. That it leaves the world unstable, or in ruins is part of being "in the game."

Note EU-Digest: "the fact that the Democratic party is holding their convention in the "Pepsi" Convention Center shows to what extend sheer corporate power has taken over the political spectrum."

8/27/08

EU population forecasts

FT.com | Brussels Blog

"EU population forecasts

The demographic forecasts contained in a new report from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, are worth a good look. Everyone knows the EU’s rapidly ageing population and shrinking workforce are making its task of promoting prosperity and job growth ever more difficult. But we don’t often see the hard numbers behind the general trend.

What I found most striking were the predictions for the big EU-6. In terms of their current populations, these are Germany (82.2m people), France (61.9m), the UK (61.3m), Italy (59.5m), Spain (45.3m) and Poland (38.1m)."

The Associated Press: France to take long look at Afghan mission

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France to take long look at Afghan mission

The death of 10 French soldiers in an ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan has stoked a cry at home for France to rethink its commitment to the seven-year mission led by the United States. Most French voters want out, and the opposition is ratcheting up the pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy's government — though analysts say France and other allies will dig in for the fight even as they insist upon a new look at NATO's strategy against the Taliban and al-Qaida. The word "quagmire" has popped up repeatedly when Afghanistan is discussed in Paris political circles — even in Sarkozy's own party — since Monday's well-planned ambush of a French-led patrol in the Uzbin Valley east of Kabul. It was the deadliest attack on international troops in Afghanistan in more than three years, and the latest sign that the insurgency is growing stronger.

Telegraph.Co.uk: Britain will be Europe's biggest country by 2060 with 77m people - by ames Kirkup

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Britain will be Europe's biggest country by 2060 with 77m people - by ames Kirkup

The UK population will rise by a quarter to 77 million in 2060, the European Commission said in a study of EU states population trends. That puts Britain on course to overtake Germany as the biggest country in the union. Germany's current population is 82 million, but the commission's analysts believe that a falling birth rate will reduce that to 71 million over the next half century. The EU's 27 members currently have a combined population of 495 million. The EU total will peak in 2035 at 521 million before falling back to 506 million in 2060.

8/26/08

Irish Times: ECB chief defends response to downturn

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ECB chief defends response to downturn

EUROPEAN CENTRAL Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet has defended the institution's responses to the financial turmoil that has shaken global markets for the past year and warned the turbulence is not over. "We still are in a market correction," Mr Trichet said at the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank's annual monetary policy conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that draws central bankers, economists and business people from around the world. "What has been done until now has been pretty well done, it seems to me, under those very difficult circumstances," he said, responding from the conference audience to a paper critical of the reactions of the US Federal Reserve, the ECB and the Bank of England to financial turbulence.

Sofia ECHOCom: Georgia: Contemporary myth making

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Georgia: Contemporary myth making

For now Georgia is the land of myth-making, the product of a whirlpool of two mighty streams of propaganda – West-backed Georgian and Russian. In propaganda, pure facts do not exist. Georgian and Russian ears keep hearing divergent stories. Well, maybe some figures such as number of sunken ships and blasted bridges, hectares of forests set on fire, number of refugees and troops, amount of foreign humanitarian aid do coincide. However, to me even that’s subject to doubt as even they are coming in the “relevant” selection and are as obfuscated by interpretation as to drive governmental policy home.

How European are you?

How European are you? | Top News

"How European are you?
Brussels - What do Kazakhstan, Israel and the north-eastern corner of South America have in common?

Some people count them as European.

Kazakhstan, despite being in Central Asia, is a member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Israel is in both UEFA and the Eurovision Song Contest - competing in the latter rather more successfully in recent years than, say, France or Britain."

Times OnLine: Russia is Europe's natural ally - by Vladimir Putin

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Russia is Europe's natural ally - by Vladimir Putin

On March 25 the Times Online published the following article by Vladimir Putin. Note EU-Digest : With all the present hype about Georgia it might be a good idea for all of us in Europe to read this article again before we get totally engulved by the hysterious rhetoric coming to us from Georgia and other former East Block nations

"The development of multifaceted ties with the EU is Russia’s principled choice. In the foreseeable future, for obvious reasons, we have no intention of either joining the EU or establishing any form of institutional association with it. Russia intends to build its relations with the EU on a pragmatic basis with a treaty and a strategic partnership. In this regard I agree with Romano Prodi’s view of Russian-EU relations: “Anything but institutions.” We are prepared to develop this partnership to a maximum extent, expecting of course that our partners will meet us halfway along this road.

The interests of Russia and the EU will not always coincide. Competition is the reverse side of cooperation and an integral part of the process of globalization. At the same time, one should not see political intrigues behind purely economic measures. One should not superimpose cold war ideological labels on legal and quite understandable actions aimed at protecting our national interests. Let me say again: we are ready to settle differences through open dialogue and compromise, based on mutually agreed rules. I am convinced that the development of relations between Russia and the EU has logically led us to the need for a new treaty on strategic partnership."

FinFacts: International Monetary Fund cuts its forecasts for 2008 and 2009 world economic growth

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International Monetary Fund cuts its forecasts for 2008 and 2009 world economic growth

International Monetary Fund cuts its forecasts for 2008 and 2009 world economic growth

The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecasts for 2008 and 2009 world economic growth, mainly due to a revision in the outlook for the Eurozone, an official of the G20 group of developing countries said yesterday.The IMF now projects 2009 growth of 3.7 per cent, down from 3.9 per cent, in a briefing prepared for a meeting of deputy finance ministers of the Group of 20 (G20) emerging and industrialised economies to be held in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

“Commodity prices will remain high and volatile... market turbulence will go on through 2009,”said the official, adding that the IMF saw the world economy slowing further in the second half of the year.

8/24/08

Bloomberg.com: Europe Has `Urgent' Need for Bank-Failure Plan, Economists Say - by Scott Lanman

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Europe Has `Urgent' Need for Bank-Failure Plan, Economists Say - by Scott Lanman

European officials have an ``urgent'' need of plans to cope with a failing bank, particularly in countries where lenders' assets exceed the size of the economy, according to a paper presented today at an annual Federal Reserve conference. Failure of a large bank in Belgium, Switzerland or a similar country would require cooperation across borders to avert broad economic damage, Franklin Allen of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Frankfurt's Elena Carletti wrote in the paper.

The official website of the BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games: Overall Medal Standings

For the complete report from The official website of the BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games click on this link

Overall Medal Standings

The Independent: Ryanair looks to order 400 aircraft in plans for massive expansion - by Sarah Arnott

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Ryanair looks to order 400 aircraft in plans for massive expansion - by Sarah Arnot

Ryanair is in talks with Boeing and Airbus about delivery of up to 400 new aircraft from 2012, despite looming losses this year if fuel costs remain at current levels.The size of the potential order in relation to Ryanair's existing fleet of 166 Boeing aircraft indicates considerable confidence that the 10 per cent share of the European market the company shares with easyJet has major growth potential.

WorldMeets.US: Proper Treatment from Obama or McCain: Europe 'Can Always Dream': - by Jean Claude Kiefer

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Proper Treatment from Obama or McCain: Europe 'Can Always Dream'- by Jean-Claude Kiefer

If Europeans could vote on November 4th, Barack Obama would certainly be the next president of the United States. It's a question of charisma, no doubt, and the attraction of novelty, too, as the Senator from Illinois stands out from the "standard" America political class. But it's his whole being, not just because of his Afro-American origins.From Europe, an "Obama-Clinton" ticket would have had more sparkle. Did the Senator from New York even want such a tandem? Curiously - and contrary to custom - the convention in Denver will grant a major place to Hillary Clinton, who will be surrounded by her delegates. After tough negotiations with the party, she even won the privilege of hosting a "one-woman show" to present her ideas. It's as though Hillary Clinton is already preparing for the 2012 election, just in case Obama isn't elected.

There remains, however, some hope … or at least, wishes. For example, that the America of a John McCain or a Barack Obama changes its tone; that she stops constantly pushing for vain confrontations in the name of defending democracy, which is always trotted out whenever its economic interests - mainly oil - need preservation; and that it treats its European allies as partners.

8/23/08

Business Daily Africa - - Economic slowdown in Europe caps growth of flower exports - by Dominique Patton

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Economic slowdown in Europe caps growth of flower exports - by Dominique Patton

Figures released on August 14 show that the euro-area economy shrank at an annualised rate of 0.8 per cent in the second quarter, the first such reversal since 2001. And things are unlikely to improve soon. Flower industry experts now say this slow down means Europe will be unable to absorb more Kenyan flowers this year — ruling out any hope of market growth. Peter van Ostaijen, the director of Dutch flower information service HBAG and vice secretary general of the international trade association, Union Fleurs, says demand for flowers in Europe is stagnating. “Exports are clearly in a phase of going down,” he told Business Daily, referring to sales from Holland to large European markets like Germany and UK. “We expect to sustain the current level of exports but growth will be at zero, not the two to three per cent we realised in the previous years.” During times of recession, consumers tend to economise on luxury items and for most people, cut flowers fall into this category. “The sales figures are going down. Last year the Dutch industry grew by four per cent over 2007. In the first half of this year, growth has been flat,” said Mr van Ostaijen.

Arizona Daily Star: U.S. should stay out of Georgia fray - by Pat Willerton

For the complete report from the Arizona Daily star click on this link

U.S. should stay out of Georgia fray - by Pat Willerton

Georgia's recent surprise attack on the secessionist region of South Ossetia unleashed another round of unpredictable developments that exacerbate the ancient ethnic rivalries of these Caucasus peoples.The American public discussion has returned to the rhetoric of the Cold War years. Perhaps this was predictable given we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, but the rush of all commentators — conservative and liberal, Democratic, Republican and independent — to outdo one another in their disdain for Russia and its actions, only clouds our efforts to form a balanced perspective on the complex developments in the troubled Caucasus.First, it was Georgian forces that attacked South Ossetia and destabilized the fragile peace that characterized this area for the past decades. While each side in the conflict claims that its adversary took actions that precipitated this latest war, it was the Georgians who first crossed borders, fired shots and killed Russians.
Second, this region — like all of the Caucasus — has been overwhelmed by ethnic rivalries for centuries involving wars, forced migrations and ethnic cleansing. In this regard, there is blood on all parties' hands; there are no "good guys" or "bad guys" when taking the long view.

Third, a complex set of bilateral and multilateral arrangements crafted by Russia, Georgia and other regional actors left an uneasy peace that characterized the 17-year post- Soviet period up until two weeks ago. While none of these countries were happy with these arrangements, they were observing them.

Fourth, all outside actors (the United States, Turkey, the European Union and NATO) avoided involvement in the tricky security arrangements. Only Russia, a Caucasus state itself, and its international organization, the CIS, have been directly involved in the management of the region's security architecture.

The Saakashvili regime's ill-considered and inept actions seriously weakened the Georgian position, and — like it or not — Georgia will negotiate from a far weaker position. Georgia will not be joining NATO or the European Union any time soon. Its ability to reabsorb the secessionist region was dealt a severe setback.
Meanwhile, near-unanimous Russian domestic support for its government's decisive actions signifies a profound strengthening of the new Dmitry Medvedev presidency.

Independent.ie: We must take a stand against US over new Cold War games - Analysis, Opinion - Independent.ie

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We must take a stand against US over new Cold War games

"I have been waiting for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin, to offer the Irish people some guidance as to our position in respect of Georgia and Russia. A statement independent of the European Union line on the issue is important since Europe is deeply divided between the views of Eastern European members and Britain, on the one hand, and the rest of us on the other.Martin's view should respect our supposed national fervor for neutrality but should also question the strange position adopted by the member states of NATO -- if indeed that position can be defined -- and the further encroachment, within Europe, of the belligerent United States' desire to further encircle Russia with surveillance systems, missile bases and the paraphernalia of the Cold War."

Globe and Mail: The U.S. economic meltdown: fiscal gap' paving the road to meltdown - by Derek Decloet

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The U.S. economic meltdown: fiscal gap' paving the road to meltdown - by Derek Decloet

The U.S. fiscal crisis is the issue that dares not raise its head in this election, pushed off the front page by the foreclosure crisis, rising unemployment, gasoline prices and a meaningless debate about whether Mr. Obama's a snob. People are sufficiently preoccupied with the state of the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system (see: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that it's easier to ignore, for the moment, the busted balance sheet of the U.S. government. Plus, there are few votes to be had for a politician who runs on a platform of financial pain. But raising taxes - a lot - and cutting benefits may be just what the next U.S. president, whether it's Mr. Obama or John McCain, will have to do, whether he wants to or not. Investors, take note.

Prof. Kotlikoff calculates the American "fiscal gap" has grown to $70-trillion (U.S.), and estimates that the current President is responsible for one-quarter of that amount. Nice legacy. But what does the number even mean? Seventy trillion dollars is an impossible sum to fathom, which may be another reason the issue gets little political air time. Big, chronic problems aren't sexy. And this one is big. To earn $70-trillion in profit, you'd need 1,723 companies the size of ExxonMobil; $70-trillion would be equal to the annual sales at 1.35 million Wal-Mart stores. That's not the size of the U.S. government's debt, though. It's the shortfall between its projected future revenues and what it plans to spend (in today's dollars).

European Union Makes a Meal of Regional Treats

Europe | Deutsche Welle | 23.08.2008

"European Union Makes a Meal of Regional Treats

What do you get if you take a potato, cover it with Turkish delight, douse it in passion-fruit juice and serve with a wedge of soft goat cheese? A sample of the EU's food designation system."

Todays Zaman: Turkey - US warship sails through straits, Russia suspicious

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Turkey - US warship sails through straits, Russia suspicious

The guided missile destroyer USS McFaul passed through the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, and two other ships, the US Coast Guard cutter Dallas and the command ship USS Mount Whitney, will follow in the coming days. "The USS McFaul is under way now, having taken on humanitarian supplies for the people of Georgia," a spokes-man for the US Navy in Europe said.

Russia, which occupied part of Georgia in response to a Georgian military offensive in the pro-Russia breakaway region of South Ossetia early this month, expressed concern over the US Navy ships' trip to the Black Sea. "From the Russian point of view … the usefulness of this operation is extremely dubious," Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff was quoted by Reuters as saying when asked about the US Navy mission to deliver aid to Georgia.The rising tensions have increased opposition pressure on the government at home. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which views government efforts to create a Caucasus regional platform to resolve regional crises with suspicion, yesterday formally requested a statement on whether the US ships transiting the Turkish Straits met Montreux standards. The CHP's Onur Öymen issued a formal inquiry to Foreign Minister Ali Babacan over whether the United States complied with Montreux requirements that all warship transits have to be declared to Turkish authorities eight days in advance.

Forbes.com: The Saudi Arabia Of Solar Energy - by William Pentland

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The Saudi Arabia Of Solar Energy - by William Pentland

In the wake of the first Gulf War, the U.S. Army assessed Saudi Arabia's solar energy resource potential in a classified effort to determine how oil fires had affected the region. The results were clear and surprising. In addition to being a vast petroleum repository, the desert nation was also the heart of the most potentially productive region on the planet for harvesting power from the sun. In other words, Saudi Arabia was the Saudi Arabia of solar energy. With the cost of oil skyrocketing, this belt is attracting the attention of a growing number of European leaders, who are embracing an ambitious proposal to harvest this solar energy for their nations.The Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation, or TREC, is the brainchild of a consortium led by the controversial Club of Rome and includes influential members like the German Aerospace Bureau and several universities in Europe and the Middle East.

TREC is spearheading a political initiative to build a so-called transmission supergrid by concentrating solar thermal power plants, wind turbines and long distance power lines to supply energy to Europe. The proposed power plants would simultaneously provide energy to seawater desalination plants in the Middle East and North Africa. While the wild-eyed scheme might seem better suited for conspiracy theories than reality, it has attracted a growing number of impressive and powerful backers. In 2007, Prince El Hassan of Jordan, who has called for implementing the plan with an Apollo-like program, presented the plan during a European Union parliamentary session. Nicolas Sarkozy, the recently elected President of France, and U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown have both publicly endorsed the supergrid project in recent weeks. In July, Sarkozy hosted the inaugural meeting of the "Union for the Mediterranean" in Paris. The Union, which seeks to promote relations between North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, considers TREC's solar energy proposal one of its top priorities. Meanwhile, the escalating conflict in Georgia, which has exposed the extent of Europe's energy insecurity, has undoubtedly increased the TREC plan's appeal.

news.scotsman.com: Euro spray painters held in US

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Euro spray painters held in US

A couple said to have spray-painted their way across Europe were held by police when they flew home to the US. Jim Harper and Danielle Bremner are suspected of putting their graffiti tags on train carriages in cities across the Continent including London, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Hamburg. New York Police Department arrested native New Yorkers Jim Clay Harper and his girlfriend Danielle Bremner for domestic graffiti offences – but say they have intelligence that links the couple to tags in several cities across Europe. The suspected criminals – whose tags are 'Ether' and 'Dani' – are said to have defaced trains in London, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Hamburg, before returning to the US to be greeted by police.

Washington Post: Mikhail Gorbachev - A Path to Peace in the Caucasus - by Mikhail Gorbachev

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Mikhail Gorbachev - A Path to Peace in the Caucasus - by Mikhail Gorbachev

What happened on the night of Aug. 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against "small, defenseless Georgia" is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity. Mounting a military assault against innocents was a reckless decision whose tragic consequences, for thousands of people of different nationalities, are now clear. The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of U.S. instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of NATO membership, emboldened Georgian leaders into thinking that they could get away with a "blitzkrieg" in South Ossetia.

In other words, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was expecting unconditional support from the West, and the West had given him reason to think he would have it. Now that the Georgian military assault has been routed, both the Georgian government and its supporters should rethink their position.

Asian Tribune: US Pres. Elections - Obama and Biden To Start Campaigning in Springfield Illinois today - by Philip Fernando

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US Pres. Elections - Obama and Biden To Start Campaigning in Springfield Illinois today - by Philip Fernando

It’s final. Barrack Obama and Joe Biden will head the Democratic Party ticket at the presidential election. Obama used the vice-presidential announcement to extend until the very last minute, and teed up the coverage of the convention. Speculation was rampant and they gained control of the media waves for days. Senator Joe Biden would definitely attract white, blue-collar voters, an apparent vacuum that Obama had to fill to win the presidency. Whatever weaknesses Biden has may be fodder for the Republicans who would be pouncing on them soon. He has said a number of politically incorrect things over the years and, in the days following his selection those snippets would be aired again and again. Generally speaking, US voters are smart enough to forgive the genuine flaws of candidates, most observed.

But over the long haul, Biden provides what Obama needed most. He will also be getting a substantial catholic voter support. After serving in the world’s most pompous workplace, the Senator, Biden retained an ostentatiously unpretentious manner. He could be described an honest working class Democrat who has disdain for privilege and for limousine liberals, said one commentator. This year, Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have trouble connecting with working-class voters, especially Catholic ones. Biden would be considered the bridge.

8/22/08

CafeBabel: ‘I know what it's like to be prejudiced, drunk, imprisoned - by Nabeelah Shabbir,

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‘I know what it's like to be prejudiced, drunk, imprisoned - by Nabeelah Shab

‘I don’t like most journalists,’ grumbles John Bird. He has just rounded up an editorial meeting at Ponti’s café, above platform seventeen in London’s Liverpool Street station. ‘They don’t think analytically.Meet the founder of The Big Issue (TBI), an entertainment and current affairs street weekly which is also a ‘social business’. Written by professionals, it is distributed in five regional editions by the homeless. Badged vendors buy the magazine from The Big Issue Foundation (which funds programs for the homeless) for 70p (90 cents) and sell them on the streets for £1.50 (2 euros), thus making a profit of 80p (1 euro) per copy. ‘I’m not a particularly good editor,’ Bird admits over a second ‘bucket of tea’, as the city suits criss-cross and trains rumble in the station below. He left the post in 2006. ‘Writing is a good way of sharpening up your ideas and that shit. If you’re a very good conductor you might not be good on the violin. But I’d rather play it.’

globeandmail.com: US Ambassador to Moscow says - Russia's first Georgia move legitimate

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US Ambassador to Moscow says - Russia's first Georgia move legitimate

The U.S. ambassador to Moscow, in a rare U.S. comment endorsing Russia's initial moves in Georgia, described the Kremlin's first military response as legitimate after Russian troops came under attack. U.S officials, including President George W. Bush, have strongly criticized Moscow's subsequent action but have not focused on the initial chain of events that triggered the conflict between Russian and U.S.-ally Georgia. The war broke out after Georgia tried to retake its Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia, prompting a counter-attack by Russian forces.

Fox 12: Olympics - Dutch Cancer Survivor Wins Marathon Swimming Gold

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Olympics - Dutch Cancer Survivor Wins Marathon Swimming Gold

Cancer survivor Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands captured the gold medal in the men's 10km open swimming race on Thursday at the Olympics, finishing a scant 1.5 seconds ahead of Great Britain's David Davies. Thomas Lurz of Germany won the bronze medal and was a full two seconds behind van der Weijden's pace of 1 hour, 51 minutes, 51.6 seconds. The result completed a fairy tale comeback for the 27-year-old van der Weijden, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001. That put a hold on his swimming career, but he came back for the 2003 and '04 Open Water World Championships. He now dedicates time to the fight against cancer.

8/21/08

Today's Zaman: Turkish military to toe EU line

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Turkish military to toe EU line

The government’s new national program, in line with the requirements of EU accession, calls for significant changes in Turkey’s military-civilian relations, an area of Turkey’s state structure that is frequently criticized by the EU.The package, prepared by the Foreign Ministry and the Secretariat-General for EU Affairs, is the draft of the Third National Program of Turkey. It calls for changes in the laws regarding the Court of Accounts that will enable military spending to be audited.

Times online: TIT FOR TAT - Fear of new Mid East 'Cold War' as Syria strengthens military alliance with Russia - by Kevin O’Flynn /James Hider

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Fear of new Mid East 'Cold War' as Syria strengthens military alliance with Russia - by Kevin O’Flynn and James Hider

Syria raised the prospect yesterday of having Russian missiles on its soil, sparking fears of a new Cold War in the Middle East. President Assad said as he arrived in Moscow to clinch a series of military agreements: “We are ready to co-operate with Russia in any project that can strengthen its security.” The Syrian leader told Russian newspapers: “I think Russia really has to think of the response it will make when it finds itself closed in a circle.”

Rocky Mountain News: The Europeanization of the Democratic Party - by William Molony

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The Europeanization of the Democratic Party - by William Molony

To understand this hostile takeover of the Democratic Party it must be seen in the context of what happened to all “parties of the left” in Europe in the second half of the 20th century. Traumatized by the shocks and dislocations of world wars and Cold War the entire European political spectrum moved decisively leftward. While the socialist parties led this progression, the parties of the center and right - shaken by their own crises of confidence - succumbed as well. European capitalism and nationalism was decisively weakened and the door opened to a continent-wide shift to collectivism and the transnationalism represented by the United Nations, and the European Union. Today the elitists who dominate the Democratic Party have embraced the “New Europe” and its worldview. On virtually every issue - Iraq, taxes, abortion, global warming, energy, hostility to religion, suspicion of Israel, regulation, U.N. worship etc. etc. - differences are only of degree, not kind. The fawning reception of Barack Obama in Europe illustrated this perverse harmony. Clearly Obama’s view of the future fits with Europe’s. They see him as the anti-Bush, their best bet ever to lash “rambunctious” America to the collectivist chariot of Europe’s “Brave New World.”

Note EU-Digest: "The Neocons seem to be getting very desperate".

IPS - GEORGIA: How the Hawks Won - by Zoltán Dujisin

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GEORGIA: How the Hawks Won - by Zoltán Dujisin

Georgia's step towards military confrontation comes after an increase in authoritarian and militaristic tendencies in a country that dealt catastrophically with Russia's pressure.In recent months hawks have gained the upper hand in Georgia, making the military option more realistic, in spite of Western warnings to abstain from aggressive rhetoric and military action. Last May Archil Gegeshidze from the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies wrote in the Russian Analytical Digest that Georgia lacked "political discussion and open public debate on how to solve the problem by peaceful means." This month Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili warned it would be "foolish to engage in a confrontation in the Tskhinvali region (i.e. South Ossetia) because it is bound to affect civilians immediately."

The Australian: US elections - Obama might not beat McCain without Clinton and her supporters - by Geoff Elliot

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US elections - Obama might not beat McCain without Clinton and her supporters - by Geoff Elliot

While many have written off Senator Clinton as a possible running mate -- the odds were firming in the political betting markets yesterday that Senator Obama would pick veteran senator Joe Biden -- polls yesterday indicated about half of Senator Clinton's supporters were still refusing to back Senator Obama. Despite renewed campaigning from Senator Clinton to convince her supporters to back the man who narrowly beat her in the drawn-out battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, many of her supporters remain upset by her loss and want to at least see her on the Obama ticket. Senator Obama has repeatedly said Senator Clinton would be on his short list, though speculation over the past few days has centred on Senator Biden, Indiana senator Evan Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

tehran times : Bush accelerated U.S. decline - by Jean Pierre Lehmann

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Bush accelerated U.S. decline - by Jean Pierre Lehmann

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, a professor of international political economy at IMD, has said, “I share the opinion of those who see Bush as one of the worst presidents the U.S. has had. Although the U.S. relative decline was perhaps inevitable, Bush has accelerated this process in many ways: economically, politically, morally.” In a recent interview with the Mehr News Agency, Lehmann added, “The catastrophic Middle East policy of the Bush administration is both a cause and a reflection of this phenomenon. Many things have been made worse, nothing has been accomplished on the positive side. The policy has also been riddled with contradictions.” On the U.S. policy toward Iran, he stated, “The main mistake of the U.S., ie not just Bush's, is not to have re-established diplomatic relations with Iran. Diplomatic relations exist not just for countries that happen to agree with each other, but especially for those that do not agree, so that they can continue dialogue. Even during the worst times of the cold war, Russia and U.S. maintained diplomatic relations.”

AGI News On - EURO: STRONG AT CLOSE

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EURO: STRONG AT CLOSE

The euro has closed trading strongly up, at over 1.48 dollars. In final trading the euro was fetching 1.4889 dollars, having approached the 1.49 mark. Weighing the greenback down were fears for the stability of the US financial system, linked above all to the fates of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The euro closed on 161.13 yen while the dollar was fetching 108,26 yen.

Energy security in Europe | Dependent territory

Economist.com

"Energy security in Europe
Dependent territory

Aug 21st 2008
From The Economist print edition
The war in Georgia puts energy security back on Europe’s agenda

OFFICIALLY, the European Union is no more worried about the closure of two oil pipelines running through Georgia than are the world’s oil traders, who have so far shrugged off the news. After all, less than 3% of Europe’s oil imports come from Azerbaijan via Georgia, according to the European Commission, and none of its gas. The commission plans to do no more than “monitor the situation closely”."

CBC News: France pays tribute to 10 fallen soldiers in Paris ceremony

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France pays tribute to 10 fallen soldiers in Paris ceremony

France held a commemoration ceremony on Thursday to honour 10 French soldiers killed in a gun battle with insurgents earlier this week in eastern Afghanistan, as questions are being raised over the official account of how the soldiers died. French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined dignitaries and the soldiers' families inside Paris's Invalides palace, where France's war dead are honoured, as lines of uniformed men and women filled the boulevard outside the iconic building. Under the great dome of the Napoleonic institution rested 10 identical coffins bearing the bodies of the soldiers, whose deaths mark the largest single loss of life for any of the international forces engaged in combat in Afghanistan in more than three years.A majority of the French are opposed to the mission in Afghanistan, and the opposition Socialists are demanding a parliamentary committee meet to examine this week's battle. Reports also emerged Thursday of Afghan officials claiming that four of the French soldiers were captured and then executed by the Taliban, the CBC's Common said. Survivors were quoted as saying NATO air support arrived late and then bombarded French positions, while Afghan soldiers called in as backup reportedly also fired on the French.

The Independent.: The United Nations - John McCain and his secretive plot to 'kill the UN' - by Johann Hari

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The United Nations - John McCain and his secretive plot to 'kill the UN' - by Johann Hari

Does John McCain have a "hidden agenda" to "kill the UN"? That's what the man who devised McCain's big set-piece foreign policy proposal says – and he's delighted it is sailing silently through the presidential election campaign towards success. This story begins with a Republican presidential candidate who, despite the hype, doesn't seem to know much about foreign affairs. McCain recently talked at length about problems on the "Iraq/Pakistan border" – the countries are a thousand miles apart. Asked how to deal with Darfur, he mused about "bringing pressure on the government of Somalia". Uh – it's Sudan, Senator McCain. And he keeps expressing his desire to build up US relations with Czechoslovakia, a country that hasn't existed for 15 years.

But McCain does know one thing: he doesn't like the United Nations. He championed George Bush's appointment of John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN – precisely because Bolton scorns the UN as "irrelevant" and "a twilight zone". He even announced "there is no such thing as the United Nations". It was like appointing Marilyn Manson as ambassador to the Vatican.

This is part of a long seam of thinking on the American right: they opposed Franklin D Roosevelt's spearheading of the United Nations as a fetter on American power, and have never been properly reconciled to it.

The Independent: Obama goes on the offensive as McCain surges into lead at polls - by Leonard Doyle

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Obama goes on the offensive as McCain surges into lead at polls - by Leonard Doyle

Barack Obama has launched a sustained and sharply negative advertising campaign against his Republican opponent John McCain, who has vaulted into the lead, according to an opinion poll released yesterday. Mr McCain now leads Mr Obama among likely voters by 46 per cent to 41 per cent. The poll found that voters believe Mr McCain would be a stronger manager of America's declining economy, even though he admits to knowing little about economic issues.

Mr Obama's tone reflects growing anxieties within the Democratic Party that their candidate has been damaged by a fusillade of attacks by Mr McCain in recent weeks while he has been holidaying in Hawaii. The political spotlight abruptly turned to Mr McCain, who used Russia's invasion of Georgia to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

MarketWatch: Sweden - Stockholm is the Only European Knowledge Economy Region in Global Top Ten

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Sweden: Stockholm is the Only European Knowledge Economy Region in Global Top Ten

"Stockholm region is one of the global frontrunners in the knowledge economy, especially within sectors such as ICT, life sciences and finance. WKCI 2008 is yet another proof of that", said Sten Nordin, mayor of Stockholm and chairman of the board at Stockholm Business Region. The top rating is based upon gains across a range of indicators, in particular business R&D spending, biotechnology employment and higher educational spending.

8/20/08

globeandmail.com: Moscow transforms real-world game of RISK - by Shawn McCarthy and Matthew Campbell

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Moscow transforms real-world game of RISK - by Shawn McCarthy and Matthew Campbell

In early 2002, some 200 U.S. Special Forces soldiers landed in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to train the Georgian army in anti-terrorism techniques, including how to protect a planned oil pipeline from secessionist or anti-Western saboteurs. With strong encouragement from Washington, Georgia was finalizing a deal with its neighbours, Azerbaijan and Turkey, and Britain's BP PLC to build a $3.9-billion (U.S.) pipeline from the oil-rich Caspian region to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea. The 1,768-kilometre, somewhat-circuitous route bypassed major U.S. rivals in the region, Russia and Iran, as well as Armenia, the traditional enemy of Turkey and Azerbaijan.It was part of the United States' effort to reduce Russia's dominance of the region's booming oil trade, and by doing so to encourage the development of independent-minded states on its rival's southern flank.

For more than a decade, Russia watched while the U.S. and Europe played the new “great game” of energy geopolitics in its own backyard. It was 10 years ago this weekend that Russia plunged into financial crisis by devaluing the ruble and defaulting on its mounting debt. With the Georgian invasion, the Kremlin has sent notice that it now controls the Risk board. And that it is willing to use its armed forces to back up what it regards as its national interest in neighbouring states. At stake is control over one of the world's most promising new sources of crude oil – one that could rival the impact of the North Sea a generation ago. The U.S., in particular, has worked strenuously to minimize Russia's influence over this energy development.

Nano werk: New EU project focuses on lipidomics technology

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New EU project focuses on lipidomics technology

Europe has so far played a pioneering and leading role in the biochemistry and analysis of lipids and most of the leading mass spectrometry providers are European companies. These mass spectrometry based nano-scale and high throughput technologies combined with molecular imaging and modern information technology will certainly revolutionize our understanding of the complex interaction networks in a functioning cell and how lipids together with genes and proteins determine cellular functions in health and disease.

Lipids are central to the regulation and control of cellular processes by acting as basic building units for biomembranes, the platforms for the vast majority of cellular functions. Recent developments in lipid mass spectrometry have set the scene for a completely new way to understand the composition of membranes, cells and tissues in space and time by allowing the precise identification and quantification of alterations of the total lipid profile after specific perturbations. In combination with advanced proteome and transcriptome analysis tools and novel imaging techniques using RNA interference, it is now possible to unravel the complex network between lipids, genes and proteins in an integrated lipidomics approach.

SLATE: The last two weeks have been a disaster for U.S. foreign policy. - by Daniel Benjamin

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The last two weeks have been a disaster for U.S. foreign policy. - by Daniel Benjamin

Russia's invasion of its neighbor is a clear demonstration that the United States-led effort to integrate post-Soviet Russia into the West has failed. Whether the process can be restarted remains to be seen, but in light of the events since Aug. 8, doing so soon would be indecent.

allAfrica.com: Olympics Soccer: Nigeria: Dream Team Cruises to Olympics Soccer Final against Argentina - by Aliou Goloko

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Olympics Soccer: Nigeria: Dream Team Cruises to Olympics Soccer Final against Argentina - by Aliou Goloko

Nigeria qualified for the final of the soccer tournament at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday by defeating Belgium by four goals to one, 12 years after winning the gold medal at the Atlanta games. They will be playing Argentina which won a 3-1 victory over Brazil for the gold medal.

Guardian : Soccer - Russia score late to hold Dutch to 1-1 draw

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Soccer - Russia score late to hold Dutch to 1-1 draw

Robin van Persie's first-half strike gave the visitors a deserved 1-0 lead with the Dutch eager to avenge their defeat by Guus Hiddink's men in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals two months ago. The Arsenal forward beat Russia keeper Igor Akinfeyev, curling a delicate left-footed shot into the top corner from just outside the area in the 25th minute. The Dutch dominated for much of the lively encounter at Moscow's Lokomotiv stadium on Wednesday, with van Persie being the most active for the visitors until he was substituted by Ibrahim Afellay midway through the second half. But Zyryanov calmly fired from the spot for the equaliser 12 minutes from time after Giovanni van Bronckhorst fouled Dmitry Torbinsky inside the box.

The Wall Street Journal: America Must Choose Between Georgia and Russia - by Sergey Lavrov

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The statements of American officials would lead one to conclude that the crisis began when Russia sent in its troops to support its peacekeepers there. Meticulously avoided in those statements: The decision of Tbilisi to use crude military force against South Ossetia in the early hours of Aug. 8. The Georgian army used multiple rocket launchers, artillery and air force to attack the sleeping city of Tskhinvali.

It is up to the American side to decide whether it wants a relationship with Russia that our two peoples deserve. The geopolitical reality we'll have to deal with at the end of the day will inevitably force us to cooperate. To begin down the road of cooperation, it would not be a bad idea to do a very simple thing: Just admit for a moment that the course of history must not depend entirely on what the Georgian president is saying. Just admit that a democratically elected leader can lie. Just admit that you have other sources of information—and other objectives—that shape your foreign policy.

Telegraph.co.uk: Madrid plane crash: Crash history of MD-80 series - by David Millward

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Madrid plane crash: Crash history of MD-80 series - by David Millward

The accident involving a Spanair aircraft which crashed at Madrid's airport on Wednesday killing at least 45, is one of the most deadly in Europe in the past 15 years. It is the worst in Spain for 23 years, when a February 1985 crash at Bilbao claimed 148 lives. Last year the Federal Aviation Authority ordered American Airlines to ground its 300-strong fleet of the aircraft to inspect a hydraulic wing. Of the 11 fatal crashes, two are understood not to have involved any potential failing of the aircraft itself – one was attributed to an air traffic control misunderstanding and the other to a passenger lighting a fire on the plane.However although the plane has been involved in a number of crashes, experts regard the MD-80 - a short-haul workhorse with a range of up to four hours – as among the safest in the sky.

Seeking Alpha: Five Forces Driving the Euro Down - Kathy Lien

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Five Forces Driving the Euro Down - by Kathy Lien

Five forces are driving the EUR/USD lower, and with no respite in sight for any of these trends, the currency pair should be headed for 1.45. These 5 factors are oil prices, eurozone and US economic data, market sentiment and the chances of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve before the end of the year.

Note EU-Digest Basically all bets are off given the volatility of present market forces and the financial stability in the banking sector.

US News and World Report: Americans Drinking Less Alcohol - by Steven Reinberg

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Americans Drinking Less Alcohol - by Steven Reinberg

"Americans are drinking less alcohol, with middle-aged people consuming about one-third less than 50 years ago, researchers report. For the study, Ellison's team collected data on 8,000 people who took part in the Framingham Heart Study. People in the initial arm of the study were born before 1900 up until 1959. Those from the initial enrollment group as well as their children were interviewed every four years from 1948 to 2003 about their alcohol consumption. Ellison explained that the Framingham study consists primarily of white, middle-class individuals from the Massachusetts town of the same name. "It generally tends to reflect trends within the country among middle-class, white Americans," he said. The researchers found that, overall, people are drinking less. "People drank about a third more back in the '50s and '60s than they did in the '70s up to 2004," Ellison said."At the same time, there's been a decrease in beer and an increase in wine consumption among people. But the average intake has decreased," he said.

AWC: Please Mr. President, Don't Make Promises to Fools - by John Taylor

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Please Mr. President, Don't Make Promises to Fools -"When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will."

In the Balkans, the U.S. readily accepted the results of a plebiscite in the Serbian province of Kosovo in which the population voted nine to one for independence. With American support, Kosovo became a sovereign state in February 2008. At the same time, the U.S. seemed to say that some separatist movements are more equal than others. American support for the will of the people as registered on ballots did not extend to the breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, which had largely been beyond the control of the Georgian government since the fall of the Soviet Union. Both regions had voted overwhelmingly for separation from Georgia and had welcomed Russia troops as protectors from the Georgian military. The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi felt compelled to issue a press release to mollify its Georgian friends: "The United States has long held that each separatist conflict anywhere in the world is unique. Indeed, the situation in Kosovo is a special case and does not serve as a precedent for other regions, including the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia."

8/19/08

EU-Digest: The State of Global Economy

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The State of the Global Economy

Where is the silver lining of the Global Economy? Who are the winners and the losers? Will energy prices go lower? Has the real estate market bottomed out? What will happen to the dollar and the EURO? Where to go from here? What about the Asian, European and Latin American economic prospects? Will the outcome of the US Presidential election influence the global economy? <>p> Get the EU-Digest special report on the state of the US and Global Economy, a compilation of reports collected during the past months from world press resources, at http://www.eu-digest.com/specialreports

Guardian co.uk:com: Bush rebuking Russia? Putin must be splitting his sides - by Simon Jenkins

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Bush rebuking Russia? Putin must be splitting his sides - by Simon Jenkins

Putin would die laughing if he read this week's American newspapers. The president, George Bush, declared the Russian invasion of Georgia "disproportionate and unacceptable". This is taken as a put-down to the vice-president, Dick Cheney, who declared the invasion "will not go unanswered", apparently something quite different. Bush says that great powers should not go about "toppling governments in the 21st century", as if he had never done such a thing. Cheney says that the invasion has "damaged Russia's standing in the world", as if Cheney gave a damn. The lobby for sanctions against Russia is reduced to threatening to boycott the winter Olympics. Big deal.What is clear is that the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, is a poor advertisement for a Columbia University education. He thought he could reoccupy South Ossetia and call Russia's bluff while Putin was away at the Olympics. He found it was not bluff. Putin was waiting for just such an invitation to humiliate a man he loathes, and to deter any other Russian border state from applying to join Nato, an organization Russia had itself sought to join until it was rudely rebuffed.

Saakashvili thought he could call on the support of his neoconservative allies in Washington. Tbilisi is one of the few world cities in which Bush's picture is a pin-up and where an avenue is named after him. It turned out that such "support" was mere words.

The Market Oracle: Investors Duped by CNBC Bubble Pumping Casino Propaganda - by Mike Stathis

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Investors Duped by CNBC Bubble Pumping Casino Propaganda - by Mike Stathis

Note EU-Digest: "an interesting report on how news reports from stations like CNBC are spinning the financial news to Utopian heights and getting many investors to follow-up on their hyped-up advice. Its American Capitalism at its best, or is it?"

Mr. Mike Stathis is the Managing Principal of Apex Venture Advisors, a business and investment intelligence firm serving the needs of venture firms, corporations and hedge funds on a variety of projects. Mike's work in the private markets includes valuation analysis, deal structuring, and business strategy. In the public markets he has assisted hedge funds with investment strategy, valuation analysis, market forecasting, risk management, and distressed securities analysis. Prior to Apex Advisors, Mike worked at UBS and Bear Stearns, focusing on asset management and merchant banking.

The Independent: Ten French and 20 US troops killed in Afghanistan battle

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Ten French and 20 US troops killed in Afghanistan battle

Ten French soldiers have been killed in fighting with Taliban insurgents east of the Afghan capital, an Afghan military official said today. The soldiers, part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), were killed in a major battle with insurgents that began on Monday about 30 miles east of Kabul, he said.The Taliban said on its Web site that 20 US soldiers had been killed in the fighting, which they said erupted after militants ambushed a convoy of Afghan and foreign forces late on Monday.

EIR: Europe Has a Choice: Russia as A Wartime Enemy, or as a Partner - by Helga Zepp-LaRouche

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Europe Has a Choice: Russia as A Wartime Enemy, or as a Partner - by Helga Zepp-LaRouche

The Russian government's decisive reaction to Georgia's sneak attack against the South Ossetian enclave has fundamentally changed the world strategic situation. Lyndon LaRouche's view that it would have been absolutely tragic for human civilization, had Russia capitulated to the "Soros puppet regime" in Georgia, is shared in many nations, as is LaRouche's characterization of this aggression as an outgrowth of British imperial policy. But Russia has drawn the line, and has made it clear that no longer will it tolerate the continuation of the almost 20-years-long policy of encirclement that has been behind the eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union. David Blair, the London Daily Telegraph's diplomatic correspondent, wrote on Aug. 12 that by seizing this opportunity to intervene militarily into Georgia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin "is sending an emphatic message with global consequences. The curtain has fallen on the era when NATO steadily expanded into Eastern Europe and onwards to embrace the former republics of the Soviet Union—and Russia was able to respond with nothing more than bluster.... The balance of power in Europe has fundamentally changed." And Michael Binyon, writing in the British TimesOnline on Aug. 14, observed: "Russia has not made one wrong move. Mr Bush's remarks yesterday notwithstanding, in five days it turned an overreaching blunder by a Western-backed opponent into a devastating exposure of Western impotence, dithering and double standards on respecting national sovereignty.... There are lessons everywhere. To the former Soviet republics—remember your geography. To NATO—do you still want to incorporate Caucasian vendettas into your alliance? To Tbilisi—do you want to keep a President who brought this on you? To Washington—does Russia's voice still count for nothing? Like it or not, it counts for a lot."

Global Research: Missile Defense: Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War - by F.William Engdahl

Missile Defense: Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War

Missile Defense: Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War - by F.William Engdah

"The signing on August 14 of an agreement between the governments of the United States and Poland to deploy on Polish soil US ‘interceptor missiles’ is the most dangerous move towards nuclear war the world has seen since the 1962 Cuba Missile crisis. Far from a defensive move to protect European NATO states from a Russian nuclear attack, as military strategists have pointed out, the US missiles in Poland pose a total existential threat to the future existence of the Russian nation. The Russian Government has repeatedly warned of this since US plans were first unveiled in early 2007. Now, despite repeated diplomatic attempts by Russia to come to an agreement with Washington, the Bush Administration, in the wake of a humiliating US defeat in Georgia, has pressured the Government of Poland to finally sign the pact. The consequences could be unthinkable for Europe and the planet. The preliminary deal to place elements of the US global missile defense shield was signed by Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and US chief negotiator John Rood on August 14. Under the terms, Washington plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland coupled with a radar system in the Czech Republic, which it ludicrously claims are intended to counter possible attacks from what it calls "rogue states," including Iran.

To get the agreement Washington agreed to reinforce Poland's air defenses. The deal is still to be approved by the two countries' governments and Poland's parliament. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in televised remarks that "the events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable." The US-Polish missile talks had been dragging for months before recent hostilities in Georgia. Any illusions that a Democratic Obama Presidency would mean a rollback of such provocative NATO and US military moves of recent years should be dismissed as dangerous wishful thinking. Obama’s foreign policy team in addition to father Zbigniew Brzezinski, includes Brzezinski’s son, Ian Brzezinski, current US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs. Ian Brzezinski is a devout backer of US missile defense policy, as well as Kosovo independence and NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia. "

SFGate: On Conflict in Georgia : Georgia unleashed this war

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On Conflict in Georgia : Georgia unleashed this war

Although there has been widespread coverage in the American and European media of the tragic events unfolding in South Ossetia, essential background information about the conflict has often been omitted. First and foremost, nearly all of the articles avoid calling Georgia's action on Aug. 7 what it was - a clear act of military aggression by Georgia directed against the residents of South Ossetia and the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region.It also seems to have been largely forgotten in the Western press that this is the second time that such a tragedy has happened. In the early 1990s, President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, then the leader of Georgia, proclaimed a policy of "Georgia for Georgians," abolished the autonomous status of South Ossetia (even though two-thirds of the population of South Ossetia is ethnic Ossetian or Russian rather than Georgian), and launched war against its people. It was after the resulting bloodshed (more that 1,000 killed and 2,500 wounded, many of them civilians) that a peacekeeping coalition comprised of Georgians, Ossetians, and Russians was established. Russian peacekeepers have been stationed in South Ossetia since that time to make sure that there is no further violation of peace in the conflict zone.

On the opening day of the Olympic Games - a symbol of peace and international cooperation - Georgia for the second time unleashed war in South Ossetia, violating the cease-fire that it had agreed to earlier in the day by attacking Russian peacekeepers, civilians, residences and humanitarian convoys. In this situation, Russia had no other choice but to respond. One might expect Georgia's violation of the cease-fire and use of force against South Ossetians to be met with strong international condemnation, but this did not occur. Instead, we saw attempts by some American experts and politicians to shift responsibility away from their Georgian ally by attributing to Russia ulterior motives in its response to the attack, such as the wish to restore its domination over this former part of the Soviet Union, to obstruct NATO enlargement, and so on.

Today's Zaman: Turkish motorists pay the most for gasoline in Europe

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Turkish motorists pay the most for gasoline in Europe

Turkish drivers pay Europe’s highest prices for gasoline due to the loading of gasoline in Turkey with the highest taxes in Europe, a recent survey has shown.

8/18/08

Rue 89: East Europe Best Not Depend on 'Obsolete' NATO - by Jeam Matouck

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East Europe Best Not Depend on 'Obsolete' NATO - by Jeam Matouck

For the founders, the European Union was destined to become a confederation with the partial status of a sovereign state and which implied political integration. For the East, just as for the British, it should remain just a vast single market. With fear in the belly of the Russian bear, they have never relied on European integration to ensure their security. In their view, only the United States could provide that. Hence their absurd following of the Americans into the Iraqi adventure. Hence their irrepressible desire to join NATO.A grave error on their part, because the United States, entangled as it is in the Iraqi affair and with its allies in Afghanistan, won't budge for a piece of the former empire's confetti [Georgia] and perhaps not even in case of a more serious invasion. Especially since the new American leaders, starting in November, are likely to mobilize all their forces on domestic affairs.

And by the way, what is NATO? It was intended to consolidate the capitalist countries of Western Europe and the United States to defend against a supposed Soviet attack, which everyone knew to be unlikely as soon as a certain level of nuclear symmetry had been achieved. From the moment the USSR had disappeared and Russia, somewhat weakened, no longer threatened anyone, what use did it serve? We must work tirelessly to convince our Eastern European partners that in the long run, the political integration of East Europe is the best guarantor of security, and incidentally, that we haven’t welcomed them simply to finance their development or receive their homeless! And we must simultaneously maintain good relations with Russia, which is recovering and which obviously has no desire other to develop and enrich itself with dignity.

Asia Times Online : China seeks Caucasian crisis windfall - by M K Bhadrakumar

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China seeks Caucasian crisis windfall - by M K Bhadrakumar

A geopolitical convulsion measuring six points on the Richter scale is bound to produce aftershocks. The reverberations of the conflict in the Caucasus are beginning to be felt. We may be unwittingly bidding farewell to the "war on terror". In any case, the international community has lost interest in Osama bin Laden. Rice is sure to try to rally European opinion and to make a strong pitch for Georgia's membership of NATO. But major European powers apprehend Moscow will take NATO's further expansion into the territory of the former Soviet Union as a grave provocation. If Washington succeeds in overcoming their reluctance, US diplomacy registers a signal victory. Moscow seems to estimate Europe may ultimately succumb to US pressure. Its decision to go slow on withdrawing troops from the Georgian hinterland needs to be seen in this perspective.

In real terms, Europe is competing with China for Russian energy supplies. This competition may begin to border on rivalry. According to the US Department of Energy, Europe's demand for gas will rise by more than 50% by 2025. There is simply not enough gas going for Europe to sidestep Russian supplies. (Russia already meets 30% to 50% of Europe's energy needs.)

Russia crushes Europe's energy strategy

reportonbusiness.com:

"Russia crushes Europe's energy strategy
Headshot of Eric Reguly

ERIC REGULY

August 18, 2008

ROME -- Russia's adventure in Georgia has been described as a 'warlet,' a contained firing spree that wound up and down within a week. But to Europe's energy markets, it was the equivalent of wide-scale carpet bombing."

Citizen Times Asheville: "Making sense of the Russia-Georgia conflict requires unbiased examination - by Joy Franklin

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"Making sense of the Russia-Georgia conflict requires unbiased examination - by Joy Franklin

Many things influence how a person or a group views a political situation like the unfolding drama in Georgia and South Ossetia. Identification, self-interest, fear, ideology and many other factors weigh in as we watch from afar.The citizens of Asheville’s Sister City, Vladikavkaz, located in the Russian Republic of North Ossetia-Alania in the foothills of the Caucuses, see the conflict in very different terms. And for them, it’s much more personal. Vladikavkaz is only a few miles from South Ossetia where the majority of the population, like that of North Ossetia, is Ossetian. “I cannot even try to explain in words how terrible it was in Tskhinvali (South Ossetian capital) and other villages on the nights beginning with the eve of the 8 of August (beginning of the Olimpiade, by the way) and up till now,” Georgy A. Tuayev, a native North Ossetian who lives in Vladikavkaz, wrote in an e-mail to his friend Kitty Boniske on Aug. 10.

Though internationally South Ossetia is viewed as part of Georgia, as far as Tauyev and most Ossetians are concerned, South Ossetia is independent of Georgia. “To start with I want to remind you that this is not the first war that Georgia has unleashed against South Ossetia,” Tauyev said in his e-mail. “You remember that almost the same scenario was played out in the early ’90s. At that time South Ossetia managed to survive and protect its independence from Georgia, although thousands of South Ossetians have fled to North Ossetia and most of them stayed here.”

FT.com: EU/ECB - Hail the (unelected) president of Europe - by Ralph Atkins

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EU/ECB - Hail the (unelected) president of Europe - by Ralph Atkins

The latest downturn – last week came news that the second quarter saw the first quarterly contraction in the eurozone economy since the launch of the euro – coincides with a period of political drift in the European Union, 15 of whose 27 members use the single currency. The sinking by Irish referendum voters of the Lisbon treaty on institutional reforms dashed hopes of the region becoming more politically effective, not least through the creation of a full-time EU president. But Europe does have one high-profile president with a sense of purpose and international standing. Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, won the hearts of financial markets last year, and the respect of eurozone politicians, for his swift and bold action to ensure the proper functioning of markets. He has stood firm as oil prices drove global inflation sharply higher, refusing to follow the US Federal Reserve in cutting interest rates and even raising eurozone borrowing costs at the start of last month. Mr Trichet’s reputation is helping Europe’s image. Read US economics blogs and you quickly have the impression that quite a few Americans would like him exported to Washington.

Christian Science Monitor: 'New Europe' urges West to rethink Russian ties

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'New Europe' urges West to rethink Russian ties

They live in a historically battered region between West and East, the Rhine and the Volga, Berlin and Moscow. Now, as Russian tanks rumble in Georgia, the states of "new Europe" are urging the West to rethink its relationship with Russia and are pushing for new security and strong measures against an aggressive Moscow they say they know all too well. From Poland to Ukraine, the Czech Republic to Bulgaria, Russia's invasion of Georgia with tanks, troops, and planes is described as a test of Western resolve. The former Soviet states are vowing to thwart Russian aims – in deals with the European Union, in a missile-defense pact with the US, and in trade and diplomacy. "Poles look at the events transpiring in Georgia from the perspective of 'while America slept,'" says James Hooper, a former senior US diplomat based in Warsaw. "They understand that Russia's mainspring expansionist impulse can be deflected only by a steady US policy in managing European security affairs, and thus pin everything on American power, purpose and resolve."

Note EU-Digest: Not a good idea for a variety of reasons which the former East-Block satellite states of the Soviet Union still not seem to understand

8/17/08

French Property News - Property in France: Market report

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Property in France: Market report

According to recent reports, for the first time in 10 years the price of French property is starting to fall. Not by a great deal and not everywhere, but enough to make buying, selling or renting property an even more interesting exercise. In its April issue, the French economic journal Capital (www.Capital.fr) devoted nearly 30 pages to a recent and perhaps surprising phenomenon – the accumulating evidence that property prices are at last starting to fall. After 10 years of steady climb – by a total of 130% since 1997 – two independent reports and research undertaken by the magazine itself show that even by December last year, the price per square metre had fallen by an average 3% (from €3,367 six months earlier to around €3,316 per m²) across a broad spectrum of French properties. One of the consequences of the price rises that lasted up to the end of 2007 has been an overall slowing down of the market for both primary and second homes, as occupiers decided to say put, and potential purchasers found that the cost of buying property had risen from an average 3.8 to 5.1 years equivalent family income.

Government figures for the first quarter of 2008 show a dramatic slowdown, particularly in the sale of new-build properties, down overall by 27.9% compared with the same time last year, with three departments (Limousin, Lorraine and Auvergne) showing reductions of more than 60%. The country’s stock of new-build properties awaiting buyers now stands at 105,600 – an all time record.

Crossroads: Roman walk from Nijmegen (Netherlands) to Xanten (Germany)

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Roman walk from Nijmegen (Netherlands)to Xanten (Germany)

Dutch and German historians have set up a new crossborder country walk between the Dutch city of Nijmegen and the German city of Xanten. Hikers will learn about the region’s historical Roman roots thanks to signposts and informationboards between the two former important Roman army posts. The mayor of Nijmegen will inaugurate the new hiking route in April with various experts. The route passes through the eastern part of the city, where the Romans had built a military camp, a forum and an amphitheatre. The city of Nijmegen plans to set up two additional routes along Roman ruins.

Calgary Herald: Spanish wines offer plenty of personality - by Geoff Last

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Spanish wines offer plenty of personality - by Geoff Last

It's difficult to keep track of all the great wine from Spain these days. It is a rare week when I don't taste yet another well-made vino from Spain, usually at an attractive price. Even regions once regarded as strongholds for mass-produced table wine, such as La Mancha, are turning up the quality dial.

Mencia is a somewhat obscure Spanish varietal once thought to be related to Cabernet Franc, but recent DNA fingerprinting has revealed it to be a unique varietal native to Spain and Portugal, where it's known as Jaen. It yields wines either soft and fruity or dense and concentrated, not unlike Tempranillo, Spain's most famous red grape.

The Ecomnomist: Insurance Industry Europe - ( Investors still struggle to understand Europe’s insurers) "Black box blues "

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"Black box blues - Insurance Industry Europe - Investors still struggle to understand Europe’s insurers"

After watching bank shares drop by almost a third this year, most European investors probably consider the idea of buying insurance stocks a sick joke. Banks’ balance-sheets may be difficult to understand but insurers can be mind-bogglingly complex too. Insurers also have a track record of fouling up when the economic environment worsens. In the last downturn in 2002 they got things badly wrong. The big European life insurers owned far too many equities. When stock markets fell, their capital positions were whacked, forcing many to issue new shares. “Once bitten, twice shy” is the market’s motto today. The share prices of Europe’s insurers have dropped by almost a quarter this year and trade on the lowest multiple of earnings of any sector, battered banks included. Is that fair?

AP: IRAQ: US military deaths in Iraq war 4,143 and total coalition military casualties 4448

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IRAQ: US military deaths in Iraq war 4,143 and total coalition military casualties 4448

As of Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008, at least 4,143 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associate Press report.The British military has reported 176 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia and Georgia, three each; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, South Korea, one death each.

NDTV.com: Dutch attempt to save the windmills - by Sam Daniel

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Dutch attempt to save the windmills - by Sam Daniel

Holland has always been known for its majestic windmills but now most of them have collapsed and the Dutch government is striving hard to restore and preserve the existing heritage structures. Till a century ago over 10,000 windmills had dotted the countryside in Holland. The country is below sea level and it were these machines that had kept the land dry by pumping river water back into the sea. After electric pumps took over, these windmills dwindled to just over a thousand.

Now the government is trying to preserve these as national monuments by extending financial support. Every weekend frank and his family work on their old mills to bring them back to running condition.

The Independent:: Fantasy lines: Britain - The private lives of phone-sex operators - by Catherene Townsend

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Britain - The private lives of phone-sex operators - by Catherene Townsend

When I see the late-night ads for premium-rate phone sex lines featuring nubile, tanned young women, I get curious about who is actually on the other end of the phone. Like many people, I sometimes imagine that she's a bored housewife, moaning and calling herself a "naughty girl" while smoking a fag and doing the ironing. In fact, a quick skim of UK websites reveals that any scenario not involving children or animals seems to be up for grabs. There are some who believe that, in an era of YouPorn and free internet chatrooms, phone sex lines may soon become an anachronism. Although callers often pay more than £1 per minute to 0909 numbers, and the industry still rakes in billions, the salaries advertised for operators are from £10 to £24 per hour – and that, presumably, is if the phone rings constantly.

LA Times: Olympics - Basketball - U.S. brings pain to Spain and soars past them, 119-82, in Olympic men's basketball game - by Mark Heisler

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Basketball - U.S. brings pain to Spain and soars past them, 119-82, in Olympic men's basketball game - by Mark Heisler

After buttering up undefeated Spain for two days, or convincing themselves the Spaniards were a threat, the U.S. routed them, 119-82, Saturday night in the Wukesong Arena. The U.S. is 4-0, leading Pool B. The only other undefeated team is Lithuania, which is 4-0 in Pool A. Despite the skepticism that comes with seven losses in the last three world competitions, it's becoming ever clearer this is an old-fashioned, dominant U.S. team. "When you commit to something, the hard work that you put in, you want the prize at the end, and they've identified the prize," said Jay Triano, the Toronto Raptors assistant who coached the U.S. select team against the big team in practices in Las Vegas.Posting up NBA-style, Gasol was like a human bull's-eye. The U.S. players have spent weeks adjusting to the international drive-and-kick game with its premium on three-point shooting. Post basketball is something they already know from the NBA. So the U.S. players double-teamed Spain's Gasol as if he were Shaquille O'Neal in his prime. Just for good measure, they ran the offense through Gasol's man, usually Dwight Howard, at the other end.