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10/31/08

Telegraph: France - Nicolas Sarkozy 'Le King of Bling Bling' YouTube video smash hit in France - by Umee Khan

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France - Nicolas Sarkozy 'Le King of Bling Bling' YouTube video smash hit in France - by Umee Khan

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, is caricatured as "Le King of Bling Bling" in an animated YouTube clip which has become a hit in France. In the latest clip, the French leader can be seen surrounded by scantily-clad women, singing "I am the King of Bling-Bling" in the five minute video. At the start of the film, Miss Bruni's voice can be heard before Sarkozy is seen driving through town in a sports car. He is then seen wearing a lot of gold jewellery or "bling", smoking a cigar and clutching several mobile phones - before 'rapping' with glamorous women in a nightclub.

SFGate: Europeans watch American elections as if they have a stake - because they do - by Steve Kettman


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Europeans watch American elections as if they have a stake - because they do - by Steve Kettman

Through much of this year, the big story out of Europe was that people all over the continent were paying an unprecedented amount of attention to the long, intense and forever shifting U.S. presidential campaign.This rapt interest had in part to do with a palpable yearning to turn the page on the Bush years, and in part with excitement over what was widely seen as the likelihood of a boundary-busting candidate taking the White House, whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama. Yet there were voices in the United States who tried to paint this European interest in our presidential succession as somehow prurient, or based only on the celebrity factor, as if European interests were not very much at stake. When Obama brought his campaign here in late July and addressed me and 200,000 others gathered in Berlin's Tiergarten, he made a point of introducing himself as "a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world." He thus made clear that he saw the destiny and future of Europe and the United States as closely intertwined.

Many in Europe assume that in the aftermath of the economic crisis, the era of unquestioned U.S. economic leadership in the world will have passed. They see the turmoil now roiling the markets as an indication of the untrustworthiness of a U.S. model based so openly on encouraging what we call the profit motive and what others might simply refer to as greed.

EUobserver: Turkey - EU Commission hails Turkey's role in regionalstability - by Elitsa Vucheva

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Turkey - EU Commission hails Turkey's role in regionalstability - by Elitsa Vucheva

Turkey's role as promoter of regional stability has improved in the last year, Brussels says in a draft report on Turkey and the western Balkans' progress towards the EU, while stressing that Ankara still has a lot to do in a number of areas before being judged fit to join the EU club."Turkey has played a constructive role in its neighbourhood and the wider Middle East through active diplomacy," reads the draft of the annual report seen by EUobserver. "Following the crisis in Georgia, [Turkey] proposed a Caucasus Stability and Co-operation Platform to promote dialogue between the countries of that region. [Turkish] President Gul paid a visit to Yerevan, the first visit ever of a Turkish president since the independence of Armenia. Turkey undertook efforts as a mediator between Israel and Syria and conducted a dialogue with Iran on the nuclear issue," the draft report goes on.

The Independent: Britain - Court rules Islamic Sharia law discriminatory - by Robert Verkaik

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Britain - Court rules Islamic Sharia law discriminatory - by Robert Verkaik

Britain's highest court has criticised Islamic law for discriminating against women after a case in which a mother was forced to flee the Middle East for Britain to protect her son from his abusive father. In a 5-0 ruling, the law lords said that there was no place in sharia for the equal treatment of the sexes. It would be a "flagrant breach" of the European Convention on Human Rights for the Government to remove a woman to Lebanon, where she would lose custody of her son because of sharia-inspired family law.

Sharia was the product of a much-observed religious and cultural tradition, "but by our standards the system is arbitrary because the law permits of no exceptions to its application... It is discriminatory too because it denies women custody of their children after they have reached the age of custodial transfer simply because they are women." Yesterday's decision reversed rulings by the Court of Appeal, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and the Home Secretary that returning EM to Lebanon with her son would not violate her right to family life.

Garowe Online - Somalia Pirates Flourish in a Lawless Nation - by Jeffrey Gettleman

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Somalia Pirates Flourish in a Lawless Nation - by Jeffrey Gettleman

This may be one of the most dangerous towns in Somalia, a place where you can get kidnapped faster than you can wipe the sweat off your brow. But it is also one of the most prosperous.Money changers walk around with thick wads of hundred-dollar bills. Palatial new houses are rising up next to tin-roofed shanties. Men in jail reminisce, with a twinkle in their eyes, about their days living like kings. This is the story of Somalia’s booming, not-so-underground pirate economy. The country is in chaos, countless children are starving and people are killing one another in the streets of Mogadishu, the capital, for a handful of grain. But one particular line of work — piracy — seems to be benefiting quite openly from all this lawlessness and desperation. This year, Somali officials say, pirate profits are on track to reach a record $50 million, all of it tax free. More than 75 vessels have been attacked this year, far more than any other year in recent memory. About a dozen have been set upon in the past month alone, including a Ukrainian freighter packed with tanks, antiaircraft guns and other heavy weaponry, which was brazenly seized in September. People in Garoowe, a town south of Boosaaso, describe a certain high-rolling pirate swagger. Flush with cash, the pirates drive the biggest cars, run many of the town’s businesses — like hotels — and throw the best parties, residents say. Fatuma Abdul Kadir said she went to a pirate wedding in July that lasted two days, with nonstop dancing and goat meat, and a band flown in from neighboring Djibouti. “It was wonderful,” said Ms. Fatuma, 21. “I’m now dating a pirate.”

Note EU-Digest: "Its is incredible that with all the world's powerful navies, no one has been able to get rid of these pirate punks."

EU-Digest: Europe's Muslim Legacy - by RM

The Cordoba Great Mosque


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Europe's Muslim Legacy

In a fascinating book, God's Crucible: Islam and the making of Modern Day Europe, by David Levering Lewis one will quickly agree with the author that it took two ingredients to make Europeans believe in themselves as the center of civilization. One was the creation of the vast Holy Roman Empire by Charlemagne. The other was the development of the Muslim culture in what is now known as the region of Andalusia, Spain. The Arabs called it al-Andalus with the Great Mosque as the most striking physical example of this Muslim foothold in Europe. What probably was even more impressive, leaving a lasting mark on Europe were the Muslims intellectual and cultural achievements. Hundreds of mosques, thousands of palaces, scores of libraries were build in Córdoba alone. Towards the end of the ninth century, those libraries had acquired hundreds of thousands of manuscripts. Nothing else on the continent of Europe could compare. Just imagine the university of Córdoba was established more than one hundred years before the one in Bologna, Italy, considered today as the first European university.

Al-Andalus was already a truly regional cosmopolitan agglomeration of cities, when the rest of Europe was still a feuding environment of country estates and small towns. Towards the end of the millennium, Córdoba had a population of more than 90,000, many times the size of any town in the territories occupied by Charlemagne. Those Andalusian cities also became a great ethnic melting pot of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Berbers, Germanic, Slavs, and countless other cultures. These eventually spread throughout the continent and transformed a barbaric Europe into a more enlightened and modern European society.

Maybe Europe's far right politicians, including Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, French "Front National" leader Jean-Marie le Pen and Belgian far-right politician Filip Dewinte should take the time to read God's Crucible: Islam and the making of Modern Day Europe, by David Levering Lewis. Who knows, they might realize al-Andalus showed Europe that what must empower man should always be compassion not hate.

Interchurch families: CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM MARRIAGES

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CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM MARRIAGES

Gé Speelman of Utrecht University in the Netherlands spoke on Christian-Muslim marriages during the Graz European Ecumenical Assembly in 1997. By clicking on the above link you can read a shortened version of her paper. The Muslim partner is often confronted with what most people around him think is natural, obvious, self-evident; he/her is the other, the one who has to prove him/her self. Many Muslim partners find they have to defend their faith against attacks which associate Islam with intolerance, backwardness and irrationality. In reaction, many Muslims become very much aware of their cultural and religious heritage. As one Muslim man said: “I would never have known so much about Islam if I had stayed at home and married an Egyptian girl.”

Another factor is that interfaith partners are seen as representatives of their communities. The Turkish Muslim represents the “terrible Turks” who have shaped the history of so many Eastern European countries. The German wife is the “imperialist European” whose community has been responsible for so much repression and bloodshed. Many problems in an interfaith marriage are exactly the same as those experienced by many other couples. But in their case, family and friends are looking out for problems; when they occur, they are defined as arising from differences in culture. A Dutch woman said she did not want to recognize the serious communication problem in her relationship because she was determined to prove to those who said it would never work that her marriage was fantastically successful. The partners had put off talking about their problems until it was too late.

Loved ones want to be more than merely “that Christian”, or “that Muslim”. Of course, they are also “a Christian” and “a Muslim” – much of what we are ties up with our religious traditions. German theologian Ulrich Dietzfelbinger, who described, in a lecture he gave in 1989, his relationship with his Turkish Muslim wife. He describes his tendency to reduce the differences in their beliefs to minor points, the pull to reduce their faith to the lowest common denominator. “After all, we both believe in Almighty God.” In the end, he recognizes that this way of reducing their differences is a way of denying them, leaving both partners with very little faith at all. What he learns is that one should not try to make the other the same as oneself. With new eyes he looks at the doctrine of incarnation. It is strange that God has community with a human being (and therefore with all human beings) in such a way that God is in his/her utmost being qualified by that humanity, while at the same time human beings are not deified and God remains God. Is there not in this strange incarnation something analogous to his marriage, where only love is the guarantor that he respects his partner as being inalienably other, different, and yet at one with himself? Maybe we should just let this question stand.

Sportsnet.ca: Soccer Spain: Embarrassing loss for Real Madrid and scare after Ruben De La Red faints on the field

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Embarrassing loss for Real Madrid and scare after Ruben De La Red faints on the field

Third-division Real Union upset Real Madrid 3-2 in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, continuing the Spanish league champion's poor record in the knockout competition it hasn't won since 1993. Juan Dominguez scored twice and Inaki Goikoetxea netted the winner for Real Union. There was a scare in the 14th minute when Madrid's Spain midfielder Ruben De La Red fell as he walked away from the Real Union penalty area. De La Red was carried off on a stretcher after being treated for two minutes. Madrid medical chief Carlos Diez said De La Red suffered a sudden fainting fit brought on by exertion and was not in danger.
The 23-year-old Spain international was taken to hospital and will spend the night there as a precaution. Diez said De La Red has undergone tests which have produced normal results and he was expected to be released on Friday.

ABC- Radio Australia: Shop till you drop: Australian developer launches Europe's largest shopping complex in West London

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Britain - Shop till you drop: Australian developer launches Europe's largest shopping complex in West London

Australia's Westfield Group has opened the biggest shopping centre in Europe, spending euro 2.08 billion (US $ 2.65b) on the project in West London. It is to be proceeded by an even bigger development by Westfield at the 2012 Olympic Site in East London. The timing is unfortunate given the fact that Britain is on the brink of recession and that consumer spending it set to fall in the next 12 months after a decade of solid growth.It is to be proceeded by an even bigger development by Westfield at the 2012 Olympic Site in East London.

10/30/08

The Register: Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate • by Andrew Orlowski

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Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate • by Andrew Orlowski

Snow fell as the House of Commons debated Global Warming yesterday - the first October fall in the metropolis since 1922. The Mother of Parliaments was discussing the Mother of All Bills for the last time, in a marathon six hour session. In order to combat a projected two degree centigrade rise in global temperature, the Climate Change Bill pledges the UK to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The bill was receiving a third reading, which means both the last chance for both democratic scrutiny and consent.

CQ Politics: US Economy - Political Economy: Zero Bound - by John Cranford

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Political Economy: Zero Bound - by John Cranford

In the past few months, Bernanke has deployed the central bank’s powers in extraordinary and flexible ways to flood the banking system with cash. At latest count the Fed has created at least a half-dozen new lending programs for institutions that aren’t its traditional borrowers and broadened its lending to ordinary banks. The amount of credit outstanding from the Fed is well in excess of $500 billion. That’s billion, with a “b.” A year ago, it was $500 million, with an “m.”

The next year or two will be trying as the Fed navigates yet another expanse of uncharted water. Bernanke has proved adept so far at finding creative ways to use the Fed’s resources, and it’s safe to expect him to continue doing so. But the days of just moving interest rates up and down to steer the economy are long past.

Global Power Europe: Europeans need a ‘British’ navy, not a ‘German’ army

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Europeans need a ‘British’ navy, not a ‘German’ army

Over the weekend, the new British Defence Secretary, John Hutton, said in an interview in The Sunday Times that the time had come to consider the creation and mobilisation of a European army. He said the idea was simply ‘pragmatic’, and even went so far as to declare that while there were many anti-Europeans who opposed the idea in the United Kingdom, they were either ‘pathetic’ or at a loss with the times.

USA Today: US Economic Meltdown: Economy flashes recession signal; GDP down at 0.3% rate

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US Economic Meltdown: Economy flashes recession signal; GDP down at 0.3% rate

The government says the economy shrank in the third quarter as consumers cut back spending by the biggest amount in 28 years. It was the strongest signal yet the country is facing recession. The broadest barometer of the nation's economic health, gross domestic product, shrank at a 0.3% annual rate in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department said. It marked the worst showing since the economy contracted at a 1.4% pace in third quarter 2001, when the nation was suffering through its last recession.The deterioration reflects a sharp retrenchment by consumers, whose spending accounts for the largest chunk of national economic activity. Consumers ratcheted back their spending at a 3.1% annual rate in the third quarter, the most since second quarter 1980, when the country was in the grip of recession.

Boston Herald.com: Barack Obama lead slipping per newest national polls - by Joe Dwinell

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Barack Obama lead slipping per newest national polls - by Joe Dwinell

It’s scary times for Democrats as the latest polls show Barack Obama’s lead slipping to a frightening three points over John McCain. The Gallup daily poll has Obama up 49-46 percent over McCain, as the race “tightens.” The Rasmussen daily poll also shows a 3-point lead for Obama, the first time McCain has been this close in more than a month.

Todays Zaman: Renewable energy to be encouraged in Turkey

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Alternative Energy - Turkey encourages Renewable energy

A draft of a new law encouraging renewable energy usage in Turkey has been presented to Parliament as part of a move to decrease Turkey's energy dependence. According to the draft, prepared by Soner Aksoy, the head of Parliament's Energy and Industry Commission, the state will guarantee that it will purchase electricity generated from renewable energy plants established within the next eight years. The state will buy electricity from renewable energy plants at higher rates than the average wholesale price arranged by the Energy Market Regulatory Agency (EPDK). "The state will pay 5-18 cents per kilowatt hour for the electricity generated by the renewable energy plants until 2016," Aksoy noted, saying that this was a short-term incentive package and that such applications to encourage entrepreneurs would continue. For the first five years, the state will pay 5 cents per kilowatt hour for hydroelectric energy, 6 cents for wind, 7 for geothermal, 14 for biomass and 18 for solar energy.

As part of the incentives in the draft, state land will be made available for the establishment of renewable energy plants. The General Directorate of Electrical Power Resources Survey and Development Administration (EİE) will convey suitable construction plans to the state, which will allocate land to the project. New public buildings will be constructed in a form that will harness renewable energy as efficiently as possible.

Seattle Times: Oil giants try to polish image before latest fat profit gusher - by Elizabeth Douglass


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Oil giants try to polish image before latest fat profit gusher - by Elizabeth Douglass

The world's best-known oil companies are pouring on the charm as they get ready to parade another round of fat profits before a public that feels suddenly poorer. The spotlight will shine on Exxon today and Chevron on Friday. Royal Dutch Shell already reported a 71 per cent rise in profits to euro 8.5 billion ($10.9 billion/£6.54 billion) and still counting. The world's second largest oil company's steep rise in profits follows a 148 per cent increase reported by its rival, BP, earlier this week due to record oil prices over the summer.

In 1993, the five biggest publicly traded oil companies — Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips — spent 39 percent of their operating cash flow on development projects, 14 percent on exploration and only 1 percent on buying back their own stock. In 2007, they spent 34 percent on development, 6 percent on exploration and 34 percent on stock buybacks, according to a study co-written by Jaffe. Bottom line: when oil companies spend their money, it's less about you and me than about their shareholders. In many respects, industry experts note, what's good for Big Oil's bottom line isn't necessarily good for Joe Q. Jetta.

10/29/08

EU-Digest: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know about Social Networking

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"What Entrepreneurs Need to Know about Social Networking"

Everyone who has been keeping up to date on the latest marketing trends across corporations around the world, and up and down the organizational ladders, are talking about the benefits of social networking to increase their exposure and sales. It's a major development that has been growing rapidly during the past few years. People are exchanging information about everything under the sun via a variety of platforms on the internet and you can be part of it or not, because it happens with or without you. It's your choice whether you want to participate or ignore this technological tidal wave.

Journal Now/Washington Post: Race Heats Up: China, India, Europe push ahead as U.S. program slows to a crawl - by Mark Kaufman

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Race Heats Up: China, India, Europe push ahead as U.S. program slows to a crawl - by Mark Kaufman

China conducted its first spacewalk last month. The European Space Agency is building a roving robot to land on Mars. India recently launched a record 10 satellites into space on a single rocket.Although the United States remains dominant in most space-related fields -- and owns half the military satellites currently orbiting Earth -- experts say that the nation's superiority is diminishing, and many other nations are expanding their civilian and commercial space capabilities at a far faster pace. "We spent many tens of billions of dollars during the Apollo era to purchase a commanding lead in space over all nations on Earth," said NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin, who said that his agency's budget is down by 20 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 1992. "We've been living off the fruit of that purchase for 40 years and have not ... chosen to invest at a level that would preserve that commanding lead."

In a recent in-depth study of international space competitiveness, Futron, a technology consulting firm in Bethesda, Md., found that the globalizing of space is unfolding more broadly and quickly than most Americans realize. "Systemic and competitive forces threaten U.S. space leadership," the company president, Joseph Fuller Jr., concluded.

Flightglobal: Germany launches Eurofighter refueling trials with A310 - by Craigg Hole

Eurofighter refueling from Airbus A310
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Germany launches Eurofighter refueling trials with A310 - by Craigg Hole

ADS has conducted the first of nine planned test flights leading to the certification of the Eurofighter combat aircraft to undergo in-flight refueling from the German air force's Airbus A310 multi-role tanker transports. Conducted from EADS Military Air Systems' Manching facility near Munich in late October, the first test lasted for about 5h and employed two of Germany's instrumented production aircraft.

REDIF: "Slump", the new world order - by D Ravi Kanth

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"Slump", the new world order - by D Ravi Kanth

Darkening recessionary clouds are steadily enveloping country after country. While the mayhem caused by Wall Street continues unabated, its impact on the real economy is rather difficult to fathom.The underlying reality is finance played havoc with the real economy that produces goods and services for people to consume and survive. Those who depended on the production of these goods and services have not only suffered via depressed real wages during the last 30 years when the boom took the incomes of those in the financial sector to stratospheric levels.Those erstwhile heroes of "irrational exuberance" fame, like Alan Greenspan, are already admitting the "flaw[s]" and "mistake[s]" in their assessment of the credit boom and the housing bubble they unleashed on the world economy. Similarly, the pressure is mounting to put some of the high-profile Wall Street actors behind bars. Clearly, there is an urgent need for naming and shaming of all those who are responsible for creating this gigantic mess.

The person responsible for this drift towards unilateralism is none other than US President George W Bush. So, when he summons world leaders from 20 countries to "advance common understanding of the causes of the [financial] crash" and prepare "a common set of principles for the reform of the regulatory and institutional regimes for the world's financial sectors", it is hardly surprising there is a deep cynicism as to what this will achieve. Amid conflicting interests around the table next month in Washington , it will be too much to expect any radical policy prescriptions. For all we know, Karl Marx -- whose Das Kapital is selling more copies in Germany this year due to the financial plague -- might prove right once again when he said history repeats itself twice, "the first time as tragedy, the second as farce"!

china.org.cn: The way all the bubbles burst -- by Liu Junhong

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The way all the bubbles burst -- by Liu Junhong

"Back in the 1990s the US staged a rousing production known as "the new economy" very much to the envy of the whole world. One of the prime reasons for this success was the support from an extensive and very sophisticated financial market, which enabled emerging enterprises to go public anytime they wanted with the lowest possible cost guaranteed. This is also one of the fundamental forces that drove Japan's financial system reform at that time.Nowadays, however, the system of direct financing is in a shambles and enterprises have to rely on the old ways for direct financing by borrowing mostly from banks. The problem is that the crisis is spreading deeper into the banking industry, crippling the banking market as well. The two pillar systems of securities and banking are both in big trouble, causing the whole financial system to go haywire.Back to where it all began, the root of the US financial crisis has stemmed from the loopholes in the US-led "financial capitalism" format, with the bursting of "the real estate bubble" serving as the fuse. The "reverse asset effect" created by the bursting of the real estate bubble directly caused the "bursting of the consumption bubble".

It is widely known that the biggest characteristic of the US economy is consumption in overdrive, to the point that people would rather bury themselves in debts than cut back spending. As of August this year, the total value of individual consumption in the US accounted for over 70 percent of the country's GDP. If that is not a pillar of the US economy, I don't know what is".

EurActive: EurActive: 'New Europe' fears losing privileged status with US

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"New Europe' fears losing privileged status with US

No matter who becomes the next US president, Eastern European countries are afraid that the privileged relations they have enjoyed under the Bush administration could be lost. EurActiv's network in Central Europe and Turkey contributed to this report. The sentiment in Eastern European capitals is that the next US President will prioritzse repairing relations with Western European capitals, which have suffered under neo-conservative US rule, and that Eastern European countries – despite being America's strongest allies under Bush – could find themselves somewhat neglected. "

10/28/08

Businessweek: ECB put up more cash, Euro 12b to Denmark

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ECB put up more cash, Euro 12b (US 15.1B) to Denmark

The ECB, the central bank for the 15-nation euro zone -- of which Denmark is not a member -- said the 12 billion euro ($15.1 billion) swap will remain in effect as long as needed. It was done with the goal of increasing the amount of cash in short-term euro money markets. The move will make it easier for Denmark, whose krone currency is pegged to the euro, to get access to euros. The ECB provided similar moves for Hungary and Switzerland earlier this month. The swap will provide euros to the Danish bank in exchange for Danish kronor and should lower the exchange rate for euros in Denmark.

KiplingerBusinessResources Center: Reshaping World’s Financial System Now a Must - by Andrew C. Schneider

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Reshaping World’s Financial System Now a Must - by Andrew C. Schneider

The West knows it can’t set the terms as it has in the past. That’s why the biggest developing nations were invited to join the G-8 in Washington on Nov. 15 for the first in a series of summits that will run well into 2009. Remaking the G-8 into something closer to the G-20 also appears likely. A large part of the reason the G-8 has been seen as increasingly irrelevant in recent years has been its exclusion of so many of the world's new stars.

Most of the economies poised to join the IMF's leadership are each worth $1 trillion or more. Two, China and Brazil, are already larger than some current members. The Group of 20, whose full membership President Bush invited to the Nov. 15 summit, comprises the G-8 countries as well as China, Brazil, India, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and the European Union (EU).

Note EU-Digest: "contrary to what the above Kiplinger report indicates, the major hurdle to establish stricter international regulatory rules will be to overcome the US reluctance to allow more transparency and controls over their own financial system. They have historically opposed most forms of regulatory safeguards when it appears to tamper with their own laissez-faire style of capitalism. Unfortunately we recently have seen what kind of havoc this has created in the world financial system."

Swissinfo:: Switzerland is the second most competitive economy, behind the US, says the World Economic Forum

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Switzerland is the second most competitive economy, behind the US, says the World Economic Forum

The competitiveness of Switzerland's economy has again been ranked second only to that of the United States in a World Economic Forum (WEF) annual survey. WEF awarded Switzerland top marks for innovation and the quality of infrastructure in its 2007/8 Global Competitiveness Report. But the country was held back by the relatively small size of its economy. It is the second year in a row that the Swiss have come runners-up in the poll of 12,000 business leaders, conducted by the Geneva-based organisation.

WEF asked respondents to rank 134 countries based on factors that promoted economic growth, such as the availability of talent, transparency of governance, infrastructure and openness to innovation.

Hub Trader: Fraudulent Practices on Wallstreet USA: Jim Cramer (NBC) brags about manipulating stock prices when he was a Wall Street trader

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Fraudulent Practices on Wallstreet USA: Jim Cramer brags about manipulating stock prices when he was a Wall Street trader

Jim Cramer, the boisterous host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” recently bragged in an interview about manipulating stock prices when he was a Wall Street trader, proving all too directly — and stupidly, I might add — that investment professionals profit off the backs of the naïve investing public.In the Web interview with TheStreet.com's executive editor Aaron Task, which is on YouTube and has been blasted all around the Internet, Cramer gave advice on how to keep a profit on a short-position by driving a stock price down. He gave a number of different examples of manipulation, which he admitted might be illegal, but said it didn't really matter because "the Securities and Exchange Commission never understands this."

And that is the sad point of Cramer's comments and this column: The people who are supposed to guard and protect the public's trust in the markets are letting the people down. They simply aren't doing their jobs effectively. For years the SEC tried to pin something, in a very public manner, on Cramer. But they could never really make anything stick; he ran circles around them. There are now thousands of hedge fund managers playing tricks just like the old Cramer used to when he was running a hedge fund. And regulators are looking on without making a call. And the public still continues to invest like they know better. And hedge fund managers continue to laugh all the way to the bank.

Note EU-Digest: "one day the market goes down 6oo points and the next day it goes up 600, with screaming "know it all" CNBC reporters hyping-up the public This has nothing to do with the investors money, but all about making a select group of Wall Street traders very rich. This fraudulent activity will never stop without very strict regulations on Wall Street".

tehran times : Iran opens trade center in Netherlands

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Iran opens trade center in Netherlands

The Mehr News Agency quoted TPOI Director for Foreign Branches Affairs Hamid Zadbum as saying that a number of Iranian and Dutch traders as well as Iran-Netherlands Cultural Council members also attended the inaugural ceremony. The two sides expressed hope that the trade center would pave the way for the two-way trade in the long run, Zadbum said, adding, they announced their full-fledged support of any activity which would enhance bilateral economic and commercial relations.

AP: Dutch say unlocked bike not enticement to steal

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Dutch say unlocked bike not enticement to steal

The Dutch Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a bicycle thief who stole a decoy bike planted by police. Lawyers for the convicted thief — a repeat offender who was sentenced to 22 days in jail — had argued that leaving the bike unlocked amounted to entrapment. But the five-judge court has rejected that, saying the man wasn't personally targeted.Tuesday's court ruling said placing an unlocked decoy bike didn't make the suspect do anything he had not intended doing beforehand.

The Independent: Britain - At this rate, it won't be long before we're joining the euro - by Steve Richards

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Britain - At this rate, it won't be long before we're joining the euro - by Steve Richards

The calls for a significant cut in interest rates get louder. In the US there is speculation that before very long rates will be close to zero. The long list of those keeping their fingers crossed here that the Bank of England will deliver a headline-grabbing reduction next week includes home-owners with big mortgages, small businesses, big businesses, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister.

One wonders how long it will be before a traumatised senior minister thinks the following: "This wretched independence for the Bank is the worst of all worlds, yet it would make matters even worse to revert to the old arrangements. Therefore the least risky course is to join the euro". If the arrangements aimed at stabilising the currency are now a source of turbulence, and a return to the old system would cause even more storms, there is no obvious alternative option. That great sleeping issue, Britain's membership of the euro, will be waking soon.

Salon: US elections: The Republican shipwreck

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US elections - The Republican shipwreck

The modern conservative movement is dying in front of our eyes, and its death throes aren't pretty. As John McCain heads for likely defeat, the GOP is eating itself. Right-wing politicians and pundits who never criticized Bush in eight years are suddenly jumping ship like rats, while bitter-end loyalists angrily accuse them of being "pathetically opportunistic." After months of veering from one tactic to the next, McCain has finally settled on one message for his campaign, but it's absurd: claiming that the party whose signature is tax cuts for the rich is really on the side of Joe the Plumber. Meanwhile, 3.1 million real Joe the Plumbers across America are sending Barack Obama hundreds of millions of dollars, a torrent of cash that is helping to flush the GOP down the national toilet. Right-wing hacks like Palin and Minn. Rep. Michele Bachman respond by doing the only thing they know how to do -- attack, demonize and divide.

EUobserver: Financial crisis builds Polish euro-entry momentum - by Philippa Runner

For the complete report from the EUobserver click on this link

Financial crisis builds Polish euro-entry momentum - by Philippa Runner

The financial crisis is building momentum for Poland to swiftly join the EU's single currency on 1 January 2012, with a positive political climate for the euro also developing in the Nordic states. "The world crisis has shown that it's safer to be with the strong, among the strong and to have influence on the decisions of the strong," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Monday (27 October), adding that his pro-euro policy is "not based on any orthodoxy, any ideology" of deepening EU integration.

Note EU-Digest: "being a part of the European Union also means carrying some of the burdens and not just profiting from its benefits. A stronger, integrated and unified Europe is an important part of keeping the euro strong. You can't have your cake and eat it too Mr. Tusk".

10/27/08

The Independent/Rolling Stone:: The US election - The Vote Grab: How the Republicans stole the 2004 election - by Peter Tatchell

For the complete report from the Rolling Stone click on this link

The Vote Grab: How the Republicans stole the 2004 election - by Peter Tatchell

Will next week's US presidential vote be free and fair? Based on the conduct of the last election, possibly not. The 2004 election was marred by vote-fixing that would disgrace a banana republic. Four years later, few new safeguards have been implemented to prevent a re-run of the voter exclusion and ballot tampering of 2004.This is the conclusion of Robert F Kennedy Jr, civil rights lawyer and nephew of JFK. In one of the most important pieces of investigative journalism in recent years, published in Rolling Stone magazine in 2006, he revealed how voting irregularities in 2004 were enough to steal the presidency for the Republicans.

AFP: French minister opposes Georgia, Ukraine entry to NATO

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French minister opposes Georgia, Ukraine entry to NATO

France's minister for European affairs on Wednesday said he was opposed to Georgia and Ukraine entering the NATO military alliance for now because it would not benefit Europe. "I think that it is not the right time for membership for Georgia and Ukraine," Jean-Pierre Jouyet said on the sidelines of a European Parliament session. "It is not in the interests of Europe or its relations with Russia." NATO foreign ministers are in December set to once again examine Georgia and Ukraine's candidacy for membership, strongly denounced by Moscow. While Jouyet said he was expressing his personal opinion, he in fact confirmed a view repeatedly expressed by Paris.

Along with Germany, France has been reluctant to take the two ex-Soviet states into the alliance and draw the wrath of Russia, which has made it clear it would regard such a move as something close to a hostile action by NATO. Note EU-Digest: this is a wise move. Letting these countries in might be of interest to the US government, it certainly is not in the interest of the EU's relationship with Russia.

Mainstream: US: Politics in the Age of George the Great - by Eddie J.Girdner

For the complete report from the Mainstream Weekly click on this link

US - Politics in the Age of George the Great - by Eddie J.Girdner

It has been eight years since the putsch in Florida by the neoconservative Storm Troopers stole the presidential election and installed George W. Bush on the White House Throne. The dark days had begun and these dark days have not yet ended.Indeed, it is difficult to think of any quarter, domestic or international, left untouched by the havoc brought to fruition in the Age of George the Great. Who would have thought, who could have imagined that such inordinate talent dwelt ensconced inside the scull of the former Governor of Texas? It is the great ineffable mystery of the Age of George the Great, who we have observed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. How do we unravel this inscrutable mystery?

Indeed, the trillion dollars for the two wars had been funded mostly by dollars the US did not have in supplementary off-budget funding. The national debt ceiling was raised to $ 11.3 trillion as the banks began to give up the ghost. George the Great had not got the Hogs out of the Dollar Creek. The Dollar Creek was so crowded that the dollars dried up, the banks collapsed and then the stock markets began to crash. As an experiment in neo-liberalism in the real world it was instructive. ‘One capitalist kills many.” Marx was certainly right about that. A herd of them can easily collapse the entire global financial system.

Private Equity News: The irresistible rise of renewables - by Jennifer Bollen

For the complete report from the private Equity News

The irresistible rise of renewables - by Jennifer Bollen

Clean energy deals are up more than 50% on last year. Tumbling oil prices have caused some to question the continued attraction of renewable energy in the face of more affordable oil, but private equity firms remain bullish about the sector’s prospects on the evidence of last week. Portuguese buyout firm Magnum Capital Industrial Partners agreed the biggest renewable energy deal in the last 13 years last week, with a €1.2bn ($1.6bn) acquisition of wind energy assets owned by Enersis, a portfolio company of Australian investment bank and infrastructure specialist Babcock & Brown. The transaction confirmed the sector’s rise in popularity during the credit crisis, overtaking an $895m (696m) acquisition of German wind turbine manufacturer RE Power by Citigroup Private Equity, the buyout arm of Citigroup, last year which had been the biggest renewable energy deal since data provider Dealogic’s records began. It took total deal values in the renewable energy sector to $2.4bn so far this year, up from about $1bn in the same period last year, according to Dealogic.

Survey shows many EU citizens still at risk of poverty, especially now

NEW EUROPE - The European News Source

"Survey shows many EU citizens still at risk of poverty, especially now
27 October 2008 - Issue : 805

It all started in February 2001 when the Social Protection Committee was appointed with the task of improving indicators in the field of poverty and social exclusion. This followed from the political agreement reached at the European Council in Nice, defining appropriate objectives in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. That came as a necessity derived from the social chapter of the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) but also would be an important tool for monitoring the results of the goals set in the Lisbon treaty to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010, to improve the understanding of poverty and social exclusion."

Report: Sarkozy Wants to Lead Euro Zone Until 2010

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

Sarkozy Wants to Lead Euro Zone Until 2010

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly said he wants to become president of the euro zone countries once his term as EU heads expires at the end of the year.According to the French daily Le Monde on Wednesday, Oct. 22, several advisors to the French president have confirmed this strategy. Sarkozy's ambition is based on his firm conviction that the crisis in Georgia and the financial crisis both demonstrated that Europe was in need of a strong leader. According to Le Monde, Sarkozy believes that without such an individual at the helm, the EU would never have been able to negotiate with Moscow or decide on an effective plan to rescue European banks. However, it seems unlikely that other EU countries will go along with the idea. In an interview published Wednesday in the French business daily La Tribune, German Finance Minister Michael Glos said the proposal of a single economic governance of euro zone countries was "not suitable for resolving the current problems."

Note EU-Digest: "the idea certainly has merit, or at least a compromise of the idea, whereby the 15 euro-zone leaders elect a Chairman to speak on behalf of the group".

The Media Line: The Muslim World and the Global Financial Crisis - by Terry Lacey

For the complete report from The Media Line click on this link

The Muslim World and the Global Financial Crisis - by Terry Lacey

By the time a new President is elected the United States will be a different country in a different world. There will be no going back and no return to business as usual. What began as the sub-prime housing market crash has become a generalized banking crash, leading to a world financial crisis, and then into a world economic recession. There is no avoiding the impact of this series of financial and economic downturns and the associated stock market crashes and wild currency fluctuations. However for the developing economies of Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and even for Africa, these changes represent new opportunities as well as short-term problems. These events are symbolic of a changing global balance of power where the United States and Europe have to adjust to the rising economic power of Asia, the Middle East and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China). This is a crisis of capitalism and even the greatest advocates of the free market are forced to face reality that when capitalism fails it has to be bailed out by the state. It is capitalist when it goes up and socialist when it comes down.

This does not mean, as suggested by the Indonesian Vice President Kalla, that sharia banking can suddenly present the comprehensive alternative to capitalism. The reality is that so far Islamic finance has been very integrated into global capitalist structures, with little emphasis on extending the more radical and unique profit and loss sharing concepts to poorer Muslims in poorer countries.

10/26/08

usglobalengagement.org: John McCain's Position on US International policy


For the complete report on McCains position on US International Policy from the usglobalengagement.org click on this link

McCain's Position on US International Policy by Category on :
* Position on Global Development and Health
* Position on Diplomacy
* Position on Aid Effectiveness
* Position on Other Foreign Policy Topics

USglobalengagement.org: Barack Obama's Position on US International Policy


For the full report on Obama's Position on US International Policy from usglobalengagement.org click on this link

Barack Obama's Position on International Policy

Obama Position on US International Policy by Category:
* Position on Global Development and Health
* Position on Diplomacy
* Position on Aid Effectiveness
* Position on Other Foreign Policy Topics

AP: Czech Republic holds Senate runoff elections

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Czech Republic holds Senate runoff elections

Partial results from Czech elections to fill almost one-third of the Senate indicate Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's party will lose its majority in the upper house. Results from more than half of polling stations show the opposition Social Democrats leading second-round elections for 22 of the 26 seats up for grabs in the 81-seat Senate. The opposition party had campaigned on criticism of the government's plans for placing a U.S. missile defense radar base in the country.

AFP: Dutch flower exports wilt amid world economic downturn

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Dutch flower exports wilt amid world economic downturn

The Netherlands, the world's biggest flower exporter, has seen its bloom trade wilt as luxury items get passed over for essentials amid the global economic downturn. "When people have less money to spend, they tend to buy bread instead of flowers," sighs Mike Lansbergen, sales manager for a major Dutch producer of Barberton Daisies in Pijnacker-Nootdorp in the eastern Netherlands. Flower exports to Britain, a major Dutch market, fell by almost a fifth in September, losing 19 percent from the same month in 2007, according to figures published this week by industry body HBAG. Since the beginning of the year, exports to Britain have dropped by 84 million euros.

The market Oracle: The U.S. Dollar Death Dance - by Jim Willie

For the complete report from the The Market Oracle click on this link

The U.S. Dollar Death Dance - by Jim Willie

The US Dollar rally in the last several weeks has been remarkable. At closer examination, it highly resembles a spurt prior to death. Imagine an old man who just had a heart attack, lost feeling in certain body parts, his mind not working right, plenty of nonsense gibberish coming from his mouth, and now he is dancing hard on some last gasps. The vast liquidation movement is akin to the old man going through an embalming process while dancing atop the tables at the funeral parlor, as bidding proceeds for his cadaver.Are Americans last to realize the financial structure destruction means the US Economy does not enter a recession, but rather a bizarre unprecedented disintegration? It seems so. The liquidation of speculative positions, the massive de-leveraging, the payout's of defaulted bonds, these events are the opposite of developments toward revival or resuscitation, like business investment!! Liquidation is the exact opposite of investment, and precedes job cuts, not job creation.

What is pushing the US Dollar up cannot be construed as anything remotely resembling healthy factors. In no way whatsoever does it resemble investment. It is more like paid off death contracts, paid off death investments, paid off transfers from toxic US bonds into what are falsely regarded as safer US bonds with a guarantee from a crippled USGovt. Foreign financial entities are liquidating on massive scale. They need a tremendous amount of US Dollars in order to complete transactions. Also, a tremendous amount of US Dollars are needed for CDSwap payout's as defaulted bonds are resolved. Almost all CDSwap and other credit derivatives are paid out in US Dollars The Lehman Brothers payout was full of lies, again. The Lehman Brothers total volume of corporate bonds was $160 billion, but $400 billion existed in total CDS volume tied to them! It is no surprise that the Dow and S&P500 stock indexes fell hard (by almost 400 points on Dow) and on the Lehman resolution day. And market mavens boasted of no impact on the Lehman funeral date! Big disruptive events are occurring in the distribution system. Letters of credit are routinely being refused by export nations who distrust US sources. A fall of 10% to 20% in shipping traffic to western US ports has been reported. Ships are empty at Asian ports, some even loaded but interrupted on their voyage to US ports and European ports. Many details are given in the October Hat Trick Letter reports. Even manufacturers of shipping vessels are being severely affected, as credit has interrupted construction projects. Indian suppliers are often demanding 100% upfront on costs to east coast retailers, again showing the distrust. Almost total attention has been given to banks and credit markets and stock markets. The US Economy is moving from recession toward something different from depression. The current interruption could actually be more like disintegration. Short-term credit is soon to interfere greatly with truckers and railways in distribution channels on the domestic side, much like letters of credit are wrecking havoc on the overseas shipper side.

Reuters: U.S. has plundered world wealth with dollar: China paper

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U.S. has plundered world wealth with dollar: China paper

The United States has plundered global wealth by exploiting the dollar's dominance, and the world urgently needs other currencies to take its place, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Friday.The front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily said that Asian and European countries should banish the U.S. dollar from their direct trade relations for a start, relying only on their own currencies.The People's Daily is the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party. The Chinese-language overseas edition is a small circulation offshoot of the main paper. Its pronouncements do not necessarily directly voice leadership views. But the commentary, as well as recent comments, amount to a growing chorus of Chinese disdain for Washington's economic policies and global financial dominance in the wake of the credit crisis. "The grim reality has led people, amidst the panic, to realize that the United States has used the U.S. dollar's hegemony to plunder the world's wealth," said the commentator, Shi Jianxun, a professor at Shanghai's Tongji University."The U.S. dollar is losing people's confidence.

The world, acting democratically and lawfully through a global financial organization, urgently needs to change the international monetary system based on U.S. global economic leadership and U.S. dollar dominance," he wrote. Shi suggested that all trade between Europe and Asia should be settled in euros, pounds, yen and yuan, though he did not explain how the Chinese currency could play such a role since it is not convertible on the capital account.

FT.com - Crisis deepens for carmakers as forecasts are slashed in Europe - by John Reed

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Crisis deepens for carmakers as forecasts are slashed in Europe - by John Reed

The crisis unfolding in car-making on both sides of the Atlantic deepened yesterday, as three of Europe's biggest producers slashed their profit forecasts for this year and General Motors and Chrysler announced more job cuts. In Europe, Daimler and Fiat warned of sharply slowing demand for cars this year. For the first time, Renault also cut its operating margin forecast, the most closely watched metric of Carlos Ghosn's three-year Commitment 2009 plan for the French carmaker as chief executive. "The crisis is here, and it is hitting the real economy," said Patrick Pelata, Renault's chief operating officer. "It is hitting automobiles, and therefore it is hitting Renault."

10/25/08

FOXNews.com - Europeans Aim to Build Own Manned Spacecraft - by Jeremy Hsu


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

Europeans Aim to Build Own Manned Spacecraft - by Jeremy Hsu

Plenty of European astronauts and hardware have gone up to the space station or to other orbits around Earth, but now the European Space Agency (ESA) is thinking of ways to get them back down on their own. A Vega rocket on the drawing boards is slated to carry ESA's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) into space in 2012. The stubby white-and-black spacecraft is designed to use two rear flaps in a paddling motion to steer itself during atmospheric reentry. Such a demonstration craft could perhaps pave the way for Europe to return its astronauts to Earth without relying on the U.S. or Russian space programs."With ATV [Automated Transfer Vehicle] and Columbus, the European space laboratory, we believe Europe has now become one of the major players in manned space exploration," said John Ellwood, ATV mission manager.

MinnPost - Running on fumes: U.S. must invest in new economies through support for education, research - by Shawn Lawrence Otto

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Running on fumes: U.S. must invest in new economies through support for education, research - by Shawn Lawrence Otto

In an effort to shore up the failing economy we've now seen the government pump hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into corporations in what is either the largest socialization of the free market or the largest raiding of the public trust in history, depending on your perspective. This emergency response may stop the bleeding, but it does little to tackle a major cause: inadequate investment in producing new economies as our old ones mature. As a result, we're running on fumes and debt.

And a 2005 Business Roundtable report projects that by 2010, 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia. If that projection turns out to be even close, it represents a major shift in the underpinnings of the American economy.

Bangkok Post: Leaders announce new Asia-Europe climate goals

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Leaders announce new Asia-Europe climate goals

Asian and European Union leaders on Saturday committed their 43 nations to agreeing to new goals on climate change by the end of next year. The 16 Asian and 27 EU leaders issued a joint statement saying they planned to finalize a post-Kyoto Protocol deal on climate change goals to 2012 at talks in Copenhagen scheduled for December 2009. New targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions would build on the December 2007 climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, they said, calling on developed nations to show "strong leadership".

The Irish Times: A Lisbon perspective on the Lisbon Treaty - by Maria Joao Rodrigues

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A Lisbon perspective on the Lisbon Treaty - by Maria Joao Rodrigues

"As adviser to the prime minister of Portugal, I was in the European Council in October 2007 when champagne glasses were raised by all the European leaders to greet the final agreement on the new treaty. I remember the joy and relief when after two painful years (in fact five), it was possible to reach a consensus on a new treaty, which has several shortcomings but also many achievements: a Charter of Fundamental Rights, more effective and democratic decision-making, a more co-ordinated external focus for the European Union, a stronger euro zone, a bolder energy policy and a social clause. I also remember that a new determination was in the room when the European leaders turned to the future and to a central concern of citizens: how can Europe cope with globalisation? For all these reasons, the current crisis calls for a clear rendezvous in the European Council in December. Its central responsibility will be to adopt a fully-fledged plan to tackle the financial and economic crisis and to mobilise all necessary means.

This will very likely be the right moment for Ireland to clarify its willingness to promote a new consultation process in order to take into account the new current challenges, as well as the possibilities of accommodating specific Irish concerns regarding neutrality, the European Commissioner, abortion and other social issues. The rendezvous regarding the new treaty will be in December because the crisis will not wait. Stronger European action will be needed."

The Mark Oracle: Europe Seeks to Implement New Bretton Woods Fiat Currency System

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Europe Seeks to Implement New Bretton Woods Fiat Currency System

It looks like Europe wants to re-invent the wheel and soundings are being made to introduce a "new Bretton Woods". Bretton Woods was effectively an exchange rate mechanism, were gold backed the new kid on the world block, namely the post war US dollar and all other currencies floated around the dollar in a fixed range. If a currency moved too far either way of the range then the respective Central Bank stepped in and delivered the appropriate medicine. However the US dollar was pegged to the price of gold which was fixed at an official rate of $35. All went well until one or two countries, well, mainly France decided that they wanted the gold that backed the dollar reserves they had accumulated by repatriating the dollars back to Uncle Sam. Eventually President Nixon decided in 1971 to abandon the BW agreement, triggering other attempts to set other fixed currency systems which all failed. In the end FX became a free floating system that has resisted any attempts to regulate exchange rates other than "pegs".

European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet said officials reshaping the world's financial system should try to return to the "discipline" that governed markets in the decades after World War II. "Perhaps what we need is to go back to the first Bretton Woods, to go back to discipline," Trichet said after giving a speech at the Economic Club of New York recently. "It's absolutely clear that financial markets need discipline: macroeconomic discipline, monetary discipline, market discipline."

10/24/08

EU-Digest/La Stampa: A New World Order: EU - China - Russia? Why EU and China need Russia - by Nicholas Kimbrell

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A New World Order: EU - China - Russia? Why EU and China need Russia - by Nicholas Kimbrell

It is necessary for the EU to go in a different direction, something which is already occurring with the idea of a Kerneuropa, which has its own constellation revolving around it, or the view of the EU as kind of super-market with some responsibilities which are shared and others which are kept rigorously separate. In any case, clarity is needed regarding the direction in which the EU, and not just Russia, is heading.

Note EU-Digest: Author and political analyst Parag Khanna of the New America Foundation set the tone at todays (Friday') opening seminar during a gathering of international scholars, diplomats and political analysts gathered in Beirut,when he said: "After the Uni-Polar Moment," suggesting that "the return to uni-polarity, American hegemony, is literally impossible." Advocating a more rigorous and collective analysis of multi-polarity, particularly in relation to Russia and India, Khanna cited the US, China and the EU as the incumbent and future "centers of gravity." Most of the speakers seemed to challenge the notion of US hegemony without questioning the still-dominant role Washington holds in much of the world. Indeed, featured speakers from rising powers sought to define their policies as distinct from the proactive US unilateralism, particularly in the Middle East. Chu Shulong, deputy director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, emphasized China's desire to end its historic isolation and win regional and global "friends" based on economic and diplomatic terms. It seems the EU will soon need to seek more strategic and economically practical alliances than its present Trans-Atlantic Alliance which has mainly made it a cost sharing partner of the US in military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Open Source Windows - Free, Open-Source software for Windows XP and Vista

For free downloads of Open Source software for Windows XP and Vista click on this link

Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open-source community. One of our most important activities is as a standards body, maintaining the Open Source Definition for the good of the community. The Open Source Initiative Approved License trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organize open-source cooperation.

Get great Open source software programs for your computer. Why pay a fortune if you can get it for free.

Free and open-source software is good for you and for the world. No adware, no spyware, just good software.

Xinhua: Cuba, EU re-establish cooperative ties

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Cuba, EU re-establish cooperative ties

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and European Commissioner of Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, signed a declaration on Thursday to restore the bilateral cooperation at the headquarters of the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana. During the meeting both sides hailed the restoration of the bilateral ties, which are based on the principle of reciprocal and non-discriminatory treatment, with respect for each other's sovereignty. Michel said he was pleased with the agreement, and reaffirmed the European Union (EU)'s intentions to strengthen ties with Cuba. He also announced an emergency aid worth 2 million euros (2.6 million U.S. dollars) to help Cuba recover from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which have produced more than 5 billion dollars in losses.

The EU will also provide 25 million to 30 million euros (32.5 million and 39 million dollars) to Cuba from next year to rebuild schools and damaged houses.

Daily Intel: US Economy - Hank Paulson Sees Himself and Ben Bernanke As a Team of Outlaws - by Jessica Pressler


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

US Economy - Hank Paulson Sees Himself and Ben Bernanke As a Team of Outlaws - by Jessica Pressle

Joe Nocera had a long sit-down with the Treasury secretary for his book a dramatic Page One Times feature today, in which Paulson describes what was going through his mind during the early weeks of the financial crisis, as he raced from one problem to the next, trying to solve them, only to have another one appear on the horizon. “I feel like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," he told the Times. "Who are these guys that just keep coming?" Paulson is super-pleased with this analogy, you can tell. Like when he describes how Ben Bernanke asks him to go ask Congress for help, "it's just like when Butch, the thoughtful one played by Paul Newman, comes up with the idea for the two of them to go to Bolivia because there's gold there", he says.

See? They are partners till the death. Just like B&S! Only: no. No, no. No. This is basically like the worst metaphor ever for Paulson to have used. Not only were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbers — immoral, lawless, murdering robbers — they were feckless robbers. They had no idea what they were doing! But maybe Bernanke and Paulson also identified with that:

ClimateChangeCorp: UK now leader in offshore wind energy

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UK now leader in offshore wind energy

The UK has now surpassed Denmark as the country leading the world in production of offshore wind energy, said Mike O’Brien, a minister in the UK’s new Department of Energy and Climate Change. With the completion of Centrica’s Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms 5km off the Lincolnshire coast, the UK now has 579MW fully constructed—enough to power around 300,000 homes—and should add another 938 megawatts by the end of next year through new construction of five more wind farms.

10/23/08

NYT: Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds - by Clifford Krauss

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Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds - by Clifford Krauss

For all the support that the presidential candidates are expressing for renewable energy, alternative energies like wind and solar are facing big new challenges because of the credit freeze and the plunge in oil and natural gas prices.Shares of alternative energy companies have fallen even more sharply than the rest of the stock market in recent months. The struggles of financial institutions are raising fears that investment capital for big renewable energy projects is likely to get tighter. Advocates are concerned that if the prices for oil and gas keep falling, the incentive for utilities and consumers to buy expensive renewable energy will shrink. That is what happened in the 1980s when a decade of advances for alternative energy collapsed amid falling prices for conventional fuels.

Note EU-Digest

like most reactions in the financial world this one is also based on just a snapshot of the actual moment. Medium and long term predictions are a gradual phase out of fossil fuels and a rapid increase of alternative technologies and fuels.

Bloomberg.com: Solbes Says Oil, Euro May Help Spain Avoid Recession - by Maria Leaniz and Emma Ross-Thomas

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Solbes Says Oil, Euro May Help Spain Avoid Recession - by Maria Leaniz and Emma Ross-Thomas

Spanish Finance Minister Pedro Solbes said lower oil prices and a weaker euro may help the country avoid a recession. ``We're very close to zero,'' growth, he said in an interview in Madrid yesterday. Still, cheaper crude and the euro's decline may ``allow that if there is negative growth in the Spanish economy that it would be limited, if possible, to one quarter.'' The euro's 20 percent decline since a July peak will help sustain exports, while the drop in oil prices is trimming production costs and leaving consumers with more to spend even as growth slows.

Mail Online: US Presidential elections - Obama 'heading for landslide victory' as he opens up 14-point lead over McCain

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US Presidential elections: Obama 'heading for landslide victory' as he opens up 14-point lead over McCain

Barack Obama has opened up a commanding lead of up to 14 points over John McCain in the closing stages of the race for the White House, latest polls show today. As the Republican candidate's campaign appeared to falter, one poll showed the popularity gap between Mr Obama and Mr McCain has doubled from seven per cent earlier this month to 14 per cent. The Pew Research Centre's latest poll found Mr Obama's support had grown to 52 per cent of voters against 38 per cent for his rival. Independent voters, who have been the target of intense campaign efforts by both sides, have now swung behind Mr Obama by a 30-point margin, 59 per cent to 29 per cent.

The Illinois senator's decision to pull away from the campaign on Thursday and Friday to be with his gravely ill, 85-year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, will cut seriously into the time he has left to persuade voters to support his candidacy. But the show of devotion to a central figure in his life could force McCain and Palin to suspend their attacks on Obama's character. Dunham helped raise Obama, a role he highlighted in accepting the Democratic presidential nomination nearly two months ago.

Guardian.UK: Financial crisis: Asia and Europe must 'swim together', Barroso says - by Tania Branigan

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Asia and Europe must 'swim together', Barroso says - by Tania Branigan

No one is immune from the economic crisis sweeping the west, the president of the European Union warned today ahead of the opening of the Asia-Europe Meeting in China. José-Manuel Barroso said that the two continents would "sink or swim together", adding that unprecedented cooperation was needed to deal with unprecedented times. "We have to face serious challenges which don't respect any borders because they are global ... no one in Europe or Asia can seriously pretend to be immune," he told a press conference shortly before the opening of the summit in Beijing. "Simply - we swim together or we sink together ... We need Asia to be on board and more particularly countries like China and India. "The eye of the storm was in the US, but it is a global storm and there will be ripple effects all over the world."

AHN: Asia, Europe Beijing Conference To Discuss Financial Crisis, Climate Change


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Asia, Europe Beijing Conference To Discuss Financial Crisis, Climate Change

The largest gathering of leaders from Asia and Europe descends on the Chinese capital of Beijing today, Thursday for a two-day summit to discuss the unfolding global financial meltdown and the growing problem of climate change. The seventh biannual Asia-Europe Meeting will be attended by leaders from the 27 European countries and 16 Asian nations. Serge Abou, the European ambassador to China said he expects discussion on the financial crisis to be "very tense." And Herve Ladsous, French ambassador to China said the leaders attending the meeting aim to come out with a strong and united messages to encourage confidence back to the global markets. Among the high-profile leaders who confirmed attendance were European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Barroso is expected to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon in Beijing.

China's vice-minister of commerce Yi Xiaozhun said his government has committed to cooperate to bring to an end the slump in the financial markets. Yi said the expanding trade and service industries cooperation between Asia and Europe could help turn the tide and provide key solution to the problem. He said the proposal could stabilize the financial market and at the same time, open fair international trade relations to restore confide and drum up economic activities.

10/22/08

New York Press - -The Lame Duckling - by JAMAAL YOUNG

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The Lame Duckling - by JAMAAL YOUNG

"As the United States focuses their attention on the next would-be president, it’s not quite time to forget the one that’s screwed everything up.There once was a governor who, despite all the odds (including losing the popular vote), was elected President of the United States. He was never described as intelligent—or wise, or thoughtful, or even moderately clever—but, boy was he ever charming. He had a way of making everyone around him—including some of the nation’s most experienced public servants—feel all warm inside about policies and practices that were directly in opposition to their own beliefs and self-interests. He convinced millions of middle-class Americans that a tax cut that provided them only $300 in extra dough was enough to jumpstart the American economy—those taxpayers all went out and bought new televisions made in Asia. He bribed Senator Kennedy with the promise of copious amounts of money for public education in return for Uncle Teddy’s support of the No Child Left Behind Bill. That bill became law, but the promised cash never appeared, creating a national school system that focused on math and reading to the exclusion of art, music, physical education and even recess. The result: Cuba still had a higher literacy rate than the United States.

Yes, George W. Bush’s faux-Texan charm served him well as a first-term President; and if he would have called it quits in 2004, history might have remembered him as one of the nation’s more effectively persuasive politicians. Unfortunately for him, he stuck around for a second term, during which every new initiative he pursued ended in defeat.And that brings us to today, with less than two weeks until Election Day and our national attention squarely focused on Barack Hussein Obama and John Sidney McCain. But through all the talk of pigs and plumbers, terrorists and Tina Fey, let us not forget about the US current commander-in-chief who still pursues policies that will continue to contravene the interests of this nation long after he leaves.

Look, it’s not like the US expected a fairytale ending to eight years of Bush rule; but at least the US population expected the president of the United States to act with an awareness of the situation the country finds itself in and with an eye on the consequences his decisions would have on the world as we move forward."

Business Standard: Norway fund to invest $2 bn in Indian stocks

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Norway fund to invest $2 bn in Indian stocks

Norway fund to invest $2 bn in Indian stocks

Even as foreign institutional investors rapidly pull out their money from Dalal Street, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s second largest, is set to invest $2 billion in Indian stocks.The Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex has been in a free fall this year, dipping below 10,000 last week, but the Norwegian government said the investments by the Government Pension Fund would take place between this month and January 2009.

The Norwegian Pension Fund, which has assets of EURO 273 billion, is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund after only the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, credited with assets of over EURO 682 billion.

Forbes: Hungary: Central bank makes emergency rate hike

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Hungary: Central bank makes emergency rate hike

Hungary's central bank Wednesday made a steep emergency interest rate hike to stabilize the country's currency, hurt by the financial crisis, raising the possibility that other countries in the region could follow its lead. The National Bank of Hungary's Monetary Council raised the base rate to 11.5 percent from 8.5 percent. The base rate is the interest paid by the central bank to commercial banks using its two-week bill facility, the main instrument used by the National Bank of Hungary to manage liquidity on the interbank market. The move is meant to protect the national currency, the forint, which has fallen 16 percent against the euro since the start of October, according to Neil Shearing of Capital Economics.

georgiandaily.com - German Ministry of Foreign affairs protests mingling in EU energy security - by Vladimir Socor

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German Ministry of Foreign affairs protests mingling in EU energy security - by Vladimir Socor

According to German media reports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Berlin has protested to the U.S. Embassy over an op-ed article by the U.S. Ambassador in Sweden, who criticized the Russo-German Nord Stream gas pipeline project on the Baltic seabed and other aspects of Russian energy policy in Europe. German business leaders such as Eggert Voscherau of BASF (the world’s largest chemical concern and a partner in the Gazprom-led Nord Stream consortium) and left-leaning politicians such as Martin Schulz (the Social Democrats’ leader in the European Parliament) in turn complained that the United States was now publicly opposing Nord Stream and in doing so was “destabilizing Europe.” Former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the chairman of the Nord Stream consortium, portrayed Russia as a fully reliable energy supplier and dismissed the need for a diversification of Europe’s supplies. Note EU-Digest: Despite protests from Georgia and other former Eastern European block nations the EU and in particular its member states Germany, France and Italy seem to be on the right track to align themselves with Russia in developing a common energy policy within an overall cooperative economic treaty.

EurActiv.com - EU contemplates 'common market' with Russia

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EU contemplates 'common market' with Russia

French President and EU presidency holder Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday (21 October) unveiled a new cooperation strategy with Russia that would build stronger economic links between Europe and its largest Eastern European neighbor

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Sarkozy called Russia "our neighbours" and surprised the audience by alluding to "a common economic space between Russia and the EU". The term recalls the early stages of EU history, which saw the development of a 'common market' that was subsequently renamed the 'single market' in the 1980s. Sarkozy's view of Russia sharing a common economic space marks another step in his attempt to forge a new relationship with Moscow based on trust and tighter integration.

At a recent meeting in Evian, the French president and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev voiced similar messages about the need to reconstruct Europe's security architecture

RIA Novosti - Latvia to donate EURO 545.00 ,for Georgia reconstruction

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Latvia to donate EURO 545.000 for Georgia reconstruction

Latvia is to give Georgia $700,000 to aid reconstruction efforts in the wake of its recent war with Russia, the Latvian foreign minister said on Tuesday. Maris Riekstins said the money would be provided from Latvia's state budget in 2010 and 2011. Russia launched a five-day military operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" after Georgian troops attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 8, killing a number of Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians.

EarthTimes: Estonia in recession until 2010, says central bank

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The Estonian economy is set to remain in recession until 2010 according to a forecast published Wednesday by the Estonian central bank, Eesti Pank. According to the base scenario of Eesti Pank's 2008 autumn forecast, Estonia's gross domestic product will decline by 1.8 per cent in 2008 and by 2.1 per cent in 2009. The economy should pick up again either at the end of 2009 or at the beginning of 2010, resulting in an average economic growth rate for 2010 of 3 per cent, Eesti Pank believes.

"Private consumption growth should recover in 2010 along with the revival of household confidence, whereas 2009 will be characterised by slowing wage growth and increasing unemployment," the for

Bulgaria’s Foreign Investments Drop by EUR 1,173 B in January - August 2008

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Bulgaria’s Foreign Investments Drop by EUR 1,173 B in January-August 2008

The foreign direct investments in Bulgaria decreased by EUR 1,17 B in the first eight months of 2008 compared to the same period of 2007. The news were announced by Bulgaria's Economy Minister Petar Dimitrov during an investment forum in Sofia on Wednesday.

According to the preliminary data, Bulgaria's foreign direct investments amounted to EUR 2,980 B in January-August, 2008, or 8,8% of the GDP, compared to EUR 4,154 B or 14,4 of the GDP in the same period of 2007.

The independent: America must live within its means - by Hamish McRae

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America must live within its means - by Hamish McRae

There are two bits of good news here for whoever is the next president. He cannot be held responsible for the recession because it is here now, but more important, in another four years when he comes up for re-election the economy will be growing again. There is a natural economic cycle from which we don't seem able to escape, and that makes it virtually certain that the next election will be against a much more favorable background. So there will be time to fix things for the longer term. Right now the US is consuming too much of its output: more than 70 per cent in fact, compared with 65 per cent or less for most developed countries. That money is indirectly borrowed from overseas, with the US having a current account deficit equivalent to some six per cent of GDP. So American consumers have maintained their standard of living, buying cheap goods from China, but the US has become the world's largest debtor nation.

So the central challenge for the next president will to persuade the country to live within its means. That has to happen at a personal level but also at a national level. This cannot be fixed in the next four years or the next eight but a start can be made. This does however mean a slower rise in US living standards and there is no getting away from that. And that raises the biggest question of all. Is the US willing in the 21st century to cede the economic leadership that it built up in the 20th?

EU-Digest: US presidential elections - Are Americans Better Off in 2008 Than they Were in 2000?

The information in this report comes from the Center for Economic and policy research

Are Americans Better Off in 2008 Than they Were in 2000?

During the final presidential debate of the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan, running against Jimmy Carter, turned to the camera and asked “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” The debate took place against a backdrop of spiraling inflation and rising unemployment. A week later, Reagan won the election by one of the largest margins in recent history. Now, with the 2008 presidential election just weeks away and the economy once again in turmoil, a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) updates the Reagan question by comparing economic indicators in 2008 and 2000, and finds that most indicators suggest that voters are worse off now than they were eight years ago. The study finds that 23 out of 25 indicators are worse in 2008 than they were in 2000. Some of the indicators examined included the unemployment rate, annual inflation, the “Misery Index” (the sum of the the unemployment rate and the inflation rate), job growth, wage growth, the poverty rate, the number of uninsured, college tuition costs, and gasoline prices. Of these, only inflation-adjusted median family income and productivity growth were higher in 2008 than they were in 2000.

The Scientific American : Alternative Energy - Sevilla Solar Capital of the world lready to link up with Middle East and Africa - by Carolyn Whelan

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Alternative Energy - Sevilla Solar Capital of the world ready to link up with Middle East and Africa for more Alternative power - by Carolyn Whelan

On the outskirts of Seville, Spain, 600 rotating mirrors send shafts of light to a collector atop a soaring 380-foot- (115-meter-) tall tower. Its scalding 480-degree-Fahrenheit (250-degree-Celsius) steam drives a turbine generating a peak capacity of 11 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the national grid. This "power tower" is the first of nine to be built by Spanish engineering giant Abengoa Solar, which all told will produce enough electricity for 153,000 homes by 2013.

Plentiful sunshine isn't the only reason entrepreneurs and industry have flocked to Spain. The Spanish advantage includes abundant land, strong demand for air conditioning, mammoth infrastructural firms to fast-track projects, and, most importantly, generous subsidies. The nation's feed-in tariffs guarantee 25 years of up to triple the market price for solar energy, making it the world's hottest solar market, trailing only subsidy-richer Germany.In fact, money committed for Spanish PV projects (mostly ground-based) shot up nearly 500 percent from 2006 to 2007 to a total of $3.45 billion, according to London-based New Energy Finance, a renewable energy market research firm.

Most importantly, the initial African power plants and Spain's solar-thermal test bed pave the way for energy export from planned solar farms in the Sahara Desert across a high-voltage direct current trans-sea line to Europe, pending political will and public funds. French President Nicolas Sarkozy resurrected the idea this year in a Plan Solaire. Studies show that harnessing just 0.3 percent of the sunshine on North African and Middle Eastern deserts could power those regions and Europe. Optimists, such as Nikolai Ulrich, head of renewables Europe at Germany's Nordbank, foresee energy export from Africa within seven years. Imminent milestones include talks in Algeria and Tunisia for transmission lines to Italy, planned for next year. Spain has an edge, because it has been swapping electricity with Morocco over their own two-way line for about a dozen years.

nebusiness: UK - Bring on energy revolution - by Gloria McShane

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UK - Bring on energy revolution - by Gloria McShan

Nervous retailers, panicky bankers, gloomy estate agents - amid the continuing global stock-market turmoil, many investors are running scared. But is renewable energy one of the sectors with brighter financial prospects, due to EU and UK climate change targets?Mark Dowdall, of North-east land and property development company The Banks Group, believes renewables are where “the wise money is going” and says his company’s sustainable energy interests are helping offset a lean period in the property sector. Since in 2007 less than 5% of the UK’s electricity came from renewables, there is a mountain to climb even to meet 2020 EU goals. However, even more than investment, he flagged up the planning process as a critical area for the Government to address.

For example, protests against wind farms often held up projects for several years. “We’re pussyfooting around,” he added. Government targets make renewable energy an attractive sector.

10/21/08

AP: Russia, Iran, Qatar discuss OPEC-style gas cartel

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Russia, Iran, Qatar discuss OPEC-style gas cartel

Russia, Iran and Qatar took their first serious steps toward forming an OPEC-style cartel for natural gas on Tuesday, a prospect that has unnerved energy-importing nations in Europe and the United States. The three countries together account for 60 percent of the world's gas reserves, and Russia and Iran have both been accused of using their hold on energy supplies to bully neighboring countries. The European Union, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, criticized the proposal, saying "energy supplies have to be sold in a free market."

Note EU-Digest: The three countries do not control 60% of the gas supplies and the idea of a gas cartel makes little sense unless it includes at least the top ten suppliers of natural gas which are:

1. Russia … 656.2 billion cubic meters (19.9% of estimated world total)

2. United States … 490.8 billion cubic meters (14.9%)

3. Canada … 178.2 billion cubic meters (5.4%)

4. Iran … 101 billion cubic meters (3.1%)

5. Algeria … 84.4 billion cubic meters (2.6%)

6. United Kingdom … 84.2 billion cubic meters (2.6%)

7. Norway … 83.4 billion cubic meters (2.5%)

8. Netherlands … 77.3 billion cubic meters (2.3%)

9. Indonesia … 74 billion cubic meters (2.2%)

10. Turkmenistan … 72.3 billion cubic meters (2.2%).

The Independent: Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled? - by Paul Vallely

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Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled? - by Paul Vallely

''A clergyman in charge of education for the country's leading scientific organisation – it's a Monty Python sketch," pronounced Britain's top atheist, Richard Dawkins, recently. The problem was that Reiss, as well as being an evolutionary biologist and population geneticist, is a non-stipendiary priest in the Church of England. When he said recently that science teachers should answer questions about creationism if pupils asked them he was deemed to have been advocating the idea that British schools should teach the idea that the world was magicked up (complete with fossils and ancient geology) just 6,000 years ago – and then tell pupils to make their own minds up between that and the theory of evolution to which the overwhelming scientific evidence points.The idea that science and religion are incompatible is a fairly recent import into contemporary culture. It has been given huge credence by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The pronounced motivation of Islamic fundamentalists in 2001 hammered home that some people are prepared to inflict outrageous acts of inhumanity in the name of religion.

Fresh Plaza: The Netherlands - 47,730 visitors at Horti Fair 2008 in AMSTERDAM

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47,730 visitors at Horti Fair 2008 in AMSTERDAM

The international Horti Fair, which was held in Amsterdam during last week, was with 47,730 visitor very successful. 900 Companies from 49 countries took part. The horticultural sector is becoming more and more international. About half the number of visitors came from the Netherlands and the other half literally from the rest of the world and especially the large number of visitors from Eastern Europe and the Middle East attracted attention.

According to director Wim van der Loo this has confirmed the top position of the Netherlands in the worldwide horticultural sector.New pavilions such as the Logistics Pavilion, the House of Software. Good and Green Pavilion and other initiatives, such as the accent on food horticulture, were a valuable addition to the show concept. The week of the Horti Fair is also always a motive to organise extra activities in the Dutch horticultural areas. "The international drawing influence of the Horti Fair is utilised to position the Dutch
Horticulture more intensively.

SPIEGELONLINE/NRC-Handelsblad: Marihuana Crimes in Holland: "A big problem which needs to be stopped by changing Dutch laws on the use of Cannabis"

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Cannabis/Marihuana Crimes in Holland: "A big problem which needs to be stopped by changing Dutch laws on the use of Cannabis"

The Netherlands' marijuana tolerance policy was meant to prevent use of harder drugs. But Max Daniel, who heads up the Netherlands police unit charged with combating the organized crime behind the cannabis trade, says a violent industry has developed with exports of €2 billion.

Daniel said, "One man asked his nephew to look after his house for six months. When he returned, his home was filled with cannabis plants. He got rid of them. Afterwards he was shot in the knees and told he needed to repay €18,500 ($24,800). We know there are shops that bring cannabis-growing equipment directly to people's homes. They then provide the names and addresses to criminal organizations, which come and steal the harvest. Today, cannabis is involved in nearly all major cases involving murder, weapons and drugs". When Daniel was asked why the police did not act sooner he said, "Because everyone, including the police, said: "It's only cannabis." It costs the police just as much to arrest someone for cannabis as for cocaine. But for dealing in coke you go to prison, whereas for cannabis you just have to pay a laughably small fine. So police don't have much incentive to invest in the latter. In our Dutch society, we have been brought up to believe that cannabis is not something criminal".