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4/30/09

TPM: Why do poor nations continue to be enthralled with capitalism? - by Dani Rodrik'

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Why do poor nations continue to be enthralled with capitalism? - by Dani Rodrik

Arvind Subramanian is onto something: he asks why the crisis has spawned a debate on capitalism in the advanced countries, but not in the developing nations. As he notes, there is very little clamor for rolling back markets once one moves to the periphery of global capitalism. What is the explanation? Arvind's preferred interpretation is that the advanced country debate is largely irrelevant to the poorer nations:

EurActiv.com - 'Swine flu will kill Europeans', says EU official


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'Swine flu will kill Europeans', says EU official

Europe is braced for thousands of deaths from swine flu as member states launch pandemic action plans in an effort to combat the virus.EU health ministers are meeting today in Luxembourg in the wake of the World Health Organization's decision to raise the alert to level five on its six-point scale, warning that a pandemic is "imminent". Robert Madelin, director-general for health and consumer policy at the European Commission, said the EU expects fatalities as the virus spreads, but it cannot estimate how many people will be affected. "Yes, people will die from this. It is not a question of whether people will die, but more a question of how many. Will it be hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands," Madelin said in an interview with Reuters.

The Northern Echo/EU-Digest: Credit crunch latest: Chrysler to file for bankruptcy (From The Northern Echo)

Northern Echo: Chrysler to file for bankruptcy

Chrysler, America's third largest car company, has filed for bankruptcy, according to US officials. The company had until today to find a way of merging with Fiat. At least three of Chrysler's 46 lenders have refused to accept a deal to exchange a total of $6.9 billion in debt for $2 billion in cash. The Treasury Department on Wednesday raised that offer to $2.25 billion, but withdrew after some lenders rejected it.

Things looked up in 1998, when it was sold for $36 billion to Daimler-Benz -- but that tie-up that ended in 2007, when the German afirm sold Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management LP in a $7 billion deal. Note EU-Digest: Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., along with its affiliates, is a large private investment company. Cerberus specializes in providing both financial resources and operational expertise to help transform undervalued companies into industry leaders for long-term success and value creation. Cerberus holds controlling or significant minority interests in companies around the world. Cerberus is headquartered in New York City with affiliate and/or advisory offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

AFP: Israel warns EU against criticising new govt

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Israel warns EU against criticizing new govt

Israel has warned the European Union to limit its criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's largely right-wing cabinet or risk losing involvement in the Middle East peace process, an official said on Thursday. The warning was issued in a series of phone conversations in recent days between the deputy director of the Israeli foreign ministry's European desk Rafi Barak and the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Israel asks the European Union to keep a low profile and conduct a quiet dialogue... But if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to have involvement in the peace process and both sides will lose," the senior official quoted Barak as telling the ambassadors.

Note EU-Digest: What will Israel's next step be if the EU continues their critique? Bomb the EU ?? Israel better watch out with these kind of comments not to lose more of the few true friends and commercial partners they have left in the world.

Assassination attempt on Dutch Royal Family - injuries as car crashes close to royal bus

EU-Digest

Assassination attempt on Dutch Royal Family - injuries as car crashes close to royal bus

At least 14 people have been injured in a serious incident during the Royal family's visit to Apeldoorn to celebrate Queen's Day. One person is said to have died. TV pictures show a heavily-damaged black car driving through the barriers erected to keep the crowd under control, close to the bus carrying queen Beatrix and the rest of her family. Nothing happened to the Royal family as the car missed its apparent target and ran into a fenced-off pillar.The Dutch tv said it is difficult to find out more about the incident because the use of mobile phones has been banned. All festivities have been canceled. The Royal family has retreated to their respective residence. There will be a press conference later today.

CBS: While WHO moves to level 5 - Swine Flu Is Bad, Creating Panic Is Dangerous

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While WHO moves to level 5 - Swine Flu Is Bad, Creating Panic Is Even More Dangerous

Unfortunately, government officials (and the Press) - never willing to let a good crisis go to waste - seem more prone to extreme statements and measures than the rest of us mortals. Like Lebanon's health minister discouraging customary friendly kisses on cheeks. France which wants a Europe-wide ban on flights to Mexico, contrary to the World Health Organization's recommendations, and even though Europe already has confirmed cases of swine flu. Egyptian farmers rioted after their government ordered the slaughter of up to 400,000 pigs, even though no cases have been reported in that country. And U.S. pork producers' lobbying to rename swine flu Mexico flu, now also seems perfectly understandable.The facts are that the regular influenza season causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States and about 41,000 deaths. By comparison, swine flu has caused only one confirmed death in the United States - in the case of a toddler visiting from Mexico, and seven confirmed deaths south of the border. Mexican Health Secretary Jose Cordova says he believes the situation is stabilizing, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the need for hospitalization in the U.S. is rare.

To his credit, President Obama struck a more even tone in his press conference on Wednesday evening, saying: "The most important thing right now that public health officials have indicated is that we treat this the same way that we would treat other flu outbreaks, just understanding that, because this is a new strain, we don't yet know how it will respond." Note EU-Digest: In Denmark Steffen Glismann, a doctor at Statens Serum Institute and in charge of monitoring the swine-flu outbreak, has said that there is no reason to fear swine flu. Glismann said that each year more than 1,000 Danes die of regular flu and that fewer people will die as a result of swine flu. He added that the media's depiction of the outbreak is disproportionate and insisted that most people if affected will only have normal flu symptoms for a week and then be fine. So folks, sit tight, don't panic and remember that when you listen to the politicians and journalists not to get carried away. Their motives are different from yours.

Market Watch: US Newspaper circulation declines 7% - by David Wilkerson

For the complete report from MarketWatch click on this link

The average daily circulation of U.S. newspapers declined 7% in the six-month period ending March 31, according to the latest data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, reflecting an increased rate of decline over the last two measured periods. The data indicate that in the midst of a shift in consumer behavior that has led more people to get their news and information online, a depressed economy has induced still more readers to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. Among 395 daily U.S. newspapers, the average circulation totaled 34.4 million, compared with a total of 37.1 million in the March 2008 reporting period, according to preliminary figures, the ABC said.

In the six months ended Sept. 30, daily circulation was down 4.6% from the same period a year earlier. In the March 2008 period, daily circulation fell 3.6%.

With 557 U.S. newspapers reporting their Sunday numbers, average circulation fell 5.4% in the March 2009 period, to 42.1 million.

4/29/09

The Huffington Post: Osama Bin Laden Believed Dead By Pak Intel - by Nahal Toosi

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Osama Bin Laden Believed Dead By Pak Intel - by Nahal Toosi

Pakistan's president said Monday his intelligence agencies believe Osama bin Laden may be dead, but he added there is no proof. Other Pakistani officials and a U.S. counter terrorism official said they thought the al-Qaida chief is alive. U.S. officials said bin Laden is most likely hiding in the mountains along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, in particular the lawless tribal regions. "We continue to believe that bin Laden is alive," said the U.S. official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record. Reports of bin Laden's death or of near-captures have punctuated his years on the run since the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S., only to be seemingly debunked by periodic audio and video recordings.

RTTNews - Eurozone Economic Sentiment Rebounds

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Wednesday, official data revealed that Eurozone economic sentiment improved in April, for the first time since May 2007, from a record low. The German economy is likely to grow in 2010 on export recovery and stimulus measures, the government said while forecasting the worst contraction since the World War II for this year.The European Central Bank said the annual growth rate of M3 in the euro area slowed to 5.1% in March from 5.8% in February. Economists were expecting an annual 5.7% rise. Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology said gross domestic product, or GDP, will fall 6% this year, before rising 0.5% in 2010. The forecast for 2009 was lowered from an earlier prediction of a 2.25% contraction.

AGI News - SWINE FLU: GERMANY CONFIRMS THREE CASES

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SWINE FLU: GERMANY CONFIRMS THREE CASES

Swine flu continues to spread increasingly throughout Europe. Germany has announced that it has confirmed three cases, two women (22 and 37 years old) and a man around the age of 40. According to the Robert Kock Institute, the 22-year old in the hospital in Hamburg, and the other two are in a hospital in Bavaria. Germany is the 8th country where the virus has been found (the third in Europe, after Great Britain and Spain). The deadly H1N1, which has killed seven people in Mexico (according to the government, 159), has been verified in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Great Britain, Spain, and Germany.

4/28/09

Forbes: E.U.'s Bundle Of Joy For Microsoft - by Parmy Olson

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E.U.'s Bundle Of Joy For Microsoft - by Parmy Olson

Opera and other upstart Web browsers don't like the way Microsoft has been bundling Internet Explorer into Windows, so they want to be bundled in too. They just might get their wish. Microsoft was due by midnight on Tuesday to officially respond to the European Commissions charges that its inclusion of Internet Explorer violates European competition law because it is unfair to other Web browsers like Oslo, Norway-based Opera, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome. These are browsers that you can download and use for browsing the Web as an alternative to Explorer.

Automobile: Renault Says EV Cost Will Equal Diesels

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Renault Says EV Cost Will Equal Diesels

French carmaker Renault will build electric versions of three of its vehicles - and after government incentives are taken into account, all three will cost the same as their diesel equivalents, the company says. "We will launch EV van and car versions of the Kangoo in 2011," said Renault UK's fleet director, Keith Hawes. "However, the first Renault EV will be based on the Megane saloon, due in 2011.

Renault hopes that 15 percent of its global sales will be electric cars by 2015, and views the EV market across Europe expanding from tens of thousands of units by the time the Megane sedan launches to 300,000 by 2014. According to Car, Renault wants to be the de facto choice for EVs like Toyota's Prius is for hybrids. While Renault doesn't sell cars in the U.S. (yet), it has a business partner who does: Nissan. Nissan and its Infiniti luxury brand have been aggressively talking up its electric plans - and Renault's big push for EVs in Europe may very well help Nissan bring its plans for EVs in the U.S. to fruition as well.

FOCUS Information: Roj TV known for its closeness to PKK stops broadcasting from Denmark

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Roj TV known for its closeness to Kurdistan Workers’ Party /PKK/ has stopped broadcasting, Turkish Hurriyet daily writes on its Internet site. The television channel was broadcasting from Denmark. Danish officials explain the channel stopped broadcasting on technical grounds despite the claims that this is a response to Turkey’s request.us Owners of satellite antennas in Turkey, who used to received the broadcast, say the channel does not send anymore signals.

NYT: European Soccer - Barça and United in the Hunt for Silver and Sinew - by Rob Hughes

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European Soccer - Barça and United in the Hunt for Silver and Sinew - by Rob Hughes

These are the defining weeks of Europe’s club season. The contests come three times in a week, and those who would be champions need will as well as skill, nerve as much as ability to stand the pace. The mettle that makes a champion was Manchester’s, and Barcelona’s. Most observers appreciate that Barça is the most irrepressible force in world soccer. Its front three — Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry — have shared almost 90 goals among them this season, and there were moments Saturday when Messi appeared to be playing fullback, such was his commitment to the cause.

The EU Voter Profiler - Who knows, the EU might also one day find "their own Obama" ?

EU-Digest

Who knows, the EU might also one day find "their own Obama" ?

A team of prominent EU scholars from the European University Institute(Florence), Kieskompas, a Dutch company that has made similar tools in the past, and the Zurich-based NCCR Democracy/Politools network, last week unveiled the 'EU Profiler', an innovative 'voting advice' website that allows EU citizens across Europe to figure out their their political identity based on a variety of simple questions ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections in June. Most of the 300 million European voters have no idea for which party they should vote based on their preferences and consequently had not been very interested to vote in the past. But an antidote was developed for this apathy: a "Voting Profiler" to guide the voter through the maze of European ideas, preferences and political parties.

It probably all started with the recent elections in the US, when Europeans proved quite willing to take a position about issues which were not exactly relevant to them or Europe, such as the pros and cons of electing a black president. As a result it turned out that a record number of curious Europeans also consulted the many electronic US voter profilers. Seen in this light, European polling and survey experts figured that the elections for the European Parliament - on 4 June - probably in one way or the other also closely resemble the elections in the United States and that a European Voter Profiler would also do well in getting European voters more interested in the EU parliamentary elections.

The EU Profiler has hit the road running and is becoming very popular. The creators regard it as the Holy Grail of profilers "since it enables you to line up the views of all the European parties alongside each other, without any need for background knowledge", says Amsterdam political scientist André Krouwel, one of the minds behind the EU Profiler.

The EU Profiler is certainly worth a shot, but you have got to be open-minded and prepared for surprises. Remember that we're talking about more than 700 seats in the European Parliament, divided among 27 different countries. When we spoke to a voter who did the EU Profiler test in Holland, he told us that the test had showed him that some political parties in other EU member states came closer to his own political viewpoints than his home grown parties. He said that to him that meant that many local political parties in Holland did not take the time to listen to their voters anymore. When we asked him for which party he would vote for this time around, he said that a party in Italy and one in the Czech Republic matched his profile the best, but that he wasn't sure yet.

To go to the EU Voter Profiler and figure out where you fit in on the EU political spectrum click on this link

Fort Worth Business Press/EU-Digest: France, Italy take top spots with U.S. ranking 37th in WHO world health care ranking - by Scott Ransom

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France, Italy take top spots with U.S. ranking 37th in WHO world health care ranking

In the above-mentioned WHO-sponsored ranking, France and Italy took top honors for health outcomes, while the United States came in well down the list at 37th. More recently, the highly regarded Commonwealth Fund – a private foundation that promotes a high-performing health care system – issued a report ranking the United States last or next to last compared with Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The report’s parameters included quality, access to care, patient safety, efficiency and equity. The only area where the United States comes out on top is in cost: we pay more for health care per person, with fewer people covered, than any other advanced nation.

The greatest disparity between the United States and these other countries is the lack of universal health insurance coverage. All other major industrialized nations provide such coverage, and most have comprehensive benefits packages with no cost-sharing. Meanwhile, nearly 45 million of America’s citizens have no coverage at any given time and more than 70 million Americans do not have health insurance at least part of the year. Equally troubling is that millions more Americans are under-insured.Perhaps most shocking, America ranks dead last on almost all equity measures because of a huge disparity between quality of care given to richer and poorer citizens. In 2005, two-fifths of adults with below-average incomes went without needed care. They simply couldn’t spend money they didn’t have on doctor visits, tests and pharmaceuticals.

Switzerland and the Netherlands both offer interesting examples of standardized benefits plans combined with tight regulation of insurance markets. In fact, some of these same concepts have been adopted by in the US by the state of Massachusetts and are being considered by other states and federal policymakers.

4/27/09

Telegraph.co.uk: Swine flu cases confirmed in Britain

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Swine flu cases confirmed in Britain

A man and a woman in Scotland, who have been in hospital, have been confirmed positive for the virus. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, said: "I can confirm that tests have demonstrated conclusively that the two Scottish cases of swine flu are positive." Ms Sturgeon also said that a further seven people among the 22 who had been in contact with the two infected individuals have developed "mild symptoms" which have not been confirmed as swine flu and are being "appropriately cared for".

Avoid going to US and Mexico if you don't have to says EU health chief


eu-digest

Avoid going to US and Mexico if you don't have to says EU health chief

(Reuters)Androulla Vassiliou, the European Union's health chief advised travelers on Monday not to go to areas affected by swine flu. Asked for details, she said: "They should avoid traveling to Mexico or the United States unless it's very urgent for them." The warning came as health officials in Spain confirmed that a man hospitalized in eastern Spain had tested positive for swine flu, becoming what appeared to be Europe’s first case of the disease. Health authorities were also testing 17 other suspected cases across Spain, a major hub for travel between Mexico and Europe.

The EU did not issue any formal instructions to travelers but said the bloc's health ministers would discuss ways to prevent the spread of the virus later this week and that EU foreign ministers would discuss the situation later on Monday. As Mexico struggled to contain its outbreak, the World Health Organization reported that the number of confirmed cases in the United States had doubled, rising from 20 to 40. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters in Greece: "It's too soon to speculate about the situation. We are following the situation very closely, together with the member states."
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WSJ: Alternative Energy - White House Sets Rules for Offshore Wind Farms - by Christine Buurma

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Alternative Energy: White House Sets Rules for Offshore Wind Farms - by Christine Buurma

The Obama administration took a step toward boosting development of renewable energy Wednesday, announcing final rules for offshore wind-power development. The Department of the Interior announced a program to grant leases, easements and rights of way for the development of offshore wind farms. The program also puts in place methods for sharing revenue from offshore renewable energy projects with coastal states.

UPI.com: Denmark to use gruesome pictures on cigarette packs

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Denmark to use pictures on cigarette packs

The Danish Health Ministry plans to add gruesome pictures of the effects of smoking to cigarette packs, including images of smoke-blackened lungs and bodies in morgues. Health Minister Jakob Axel Neilsen told the Metro Xpress newspaper he expects the photographic warnings to be added as part of a national health plan based on prevention to be put into effect next fall.

The proposal has the backing of the government and the major opposition party, although the Health Ministry has the authority to put it into effect. The Prevention Commission recommended using pictures, based on a Canadian study that showed they are more effective than written warnings.

EUobserver: Iceland closer to joining EU after left-wing victory - by Leigh Phillips

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Iceland closer to joining EU after left-wing victory - by Leigh Phillips

Icelandic voters punished the centre-right party that had governed the country for most of the last 18 years and dominated it for generations, delivering a clear majority in a snap general election to the centre-left Social Democrats and far-left and ecologist Left Green Movement.The Social Democrats believe the crisis, or kreppa, has taught them that their small economy will only be battered again and again if they do not seek the shelter of the 27-country bloc. Ms Sigurdardottir has said she wants to begin the application process "within weeks" of the election. The Left Greens, for their part, say the EU is too undemocratic and "neo-liberal", the very ideology, they say, that caused the crisis in the first place. They also fear loss of control over the country's natural resources. The Independence party meanwhile has traditionally opposed EU membership as well, but analysts believe that this uncompromising stance has lost it the support of sections of the business community who agree with the new prime minister that there is no alternative to beginning negotiations with Brussels.

nrc.nl - Netherlands will not give up IMF and World Bank seats

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Netherlands will not give up IMF and World Bank seats

The Netherlands is not prepared to give up its permament seats on the boards of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The US secretary of the treasury, Timothy Geithner, has said he wants to reduce the number of seats from 24 to 20, which would bring it in line with the G20, the group of the twenty largest economies which has lately been gaining importance over the G7. Emerging economies and developing countries want a bigger voice in the IMF and the World Bank in order to reflect the changes in the world economy. Geithner has also proposed giving emerging nations more voting shares.

Dutch development minister Bert Koenders suggested over the weekend giving equal voting power shares to countries who pay for development aid and those who receive the aid from the World Bank. But he said there could be no question of the Netherlands giving up its board seats. The Netherlands is an important donor country, Koenders said, and it also represents the interests of several other countries, including Moldavia and Israel, at the World Bank and the IMF.

Deputy finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said he doesn't see the point of the discussion. "We are a relevant country if you look at our economic weight, our exports and direct foreign investments and the size of our financial sector," he said.

Portfolio.hu: EU okays Hungarian state guarantee scheme to stimulate economy

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EU okays Hungarian state guarantee scheme to stimulate economy

The European Commission has announced on Monday it has authorised a Hungarian scheme aimed at providing relief to companies encountering financing difficulties as a result of the credit squeeze in the current economic crisis. The scheme allows authorities to grant aid in the form of subsidised guarantees for investment and working capital loans concluded by 31 December 2010. The scheme meets the conditions of the Commission's Temporary Framework for state aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis because it is limited in time, respects the relevant thresholds and applies only to companies that were not in difficulty on 1 July 2008.

The Netherlands - Insurance industry: Koster Insurances sees light in the darkness

EU-Digest

The Netherlands: Insurance industry - Koster Insurances sees light in the darkness

Among all the reports of gloom and doom about today's depressed financial world a refreshing optimistic outlook by Koster Insurances (Koster Verzekeringen BV), as it reflects on its 2008 financial results. In their report "Trust in each other", which reads like a novel, and CEO Wim Koster calls "his Bible", Koster Insurances effectively applies a practical "win-win" approach to interpret the meaning of profit, innovation and human resources. That the "Koster approach" works is clear from their figures. In 2008 Koster Insurances increased their profit margin by 54.20 percent.

When asked about his vision of success Wim Koster notes, "No one in our organization ever thinks in terms of return on investment, or about maximizing profits. By providing useful products and services, applying innovative automated systems and combining these with efficient management processes, we are able to optimize the quality of services we offer to our clients. We also never forget that among all these ingredients our employees are key to our success, and that people do recognize quality and professionalism in good and bad times."

For more information about Koster Insurances click on this link

Cnet Newst: EU readies sanctions against Intel - by Brooke Crothers

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EU readies sanctions against Intel - by Brooke Crothers

The European Commission is moving toward punitive action against Intel for violating antitrust law, according to reports.In the draft decision, the Commission states that Intel abused its market power in violation of EU antitrust law.The 500-page draft was circulated to 27 "national competition authorities" over the past few weeks.Intel has been wrangling with the EU since 2001, when AMD filed a complaint. Last July, the Commission made additional charges against Intel for abusing its dominant position in the chip market in Europe. The charges include offering inducements to European retailers for not buying processors from AMD.

ABC/EU-Digest: Swine Flu: What You Need to Know - by Huma Khan

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Swine Flu: What You Need to Know - by Huma Khan

The rapidly spreading swine flu is a new virus that includes combination of swine, bird and human strains. It has taken the lives of 81 people in Mexico, and sickened more than a thousand south of the border. In the United States, 20 cases have been confirmed thus far -- seven in California, two in Kansas, eight in New York City, one in Ohio and two in Texas. Spain's Health Ministry Sunday said three persons have been brought to Spanish hospitals in the last 24 hours with symptoms of potential swine flu, in what may be the first recorded cases of the virus in Europe. Some other cases have also been detected in Canada, and Britain and France.

Simple preventive measures, such as washing hands frequently and avoiding people who are coughing or sneezing, can go a long way toward keeping you safe from the virus, which health officials expect is likely to afflict more people.

Concerns of the uncertainty and spread of the virus dealt a blow to the travel and leisure industry in Europe Monday. British Airways shares lost 11.5% and EasyJet fell 5.7% amid swine flu fears. TUI Travel declined 7.5% and Thomas Cook shed 4.8%. However, pharmaceutical and healthcare stocks got a boost. Shares of Switzerland's Roche rose 4.6%. The company said it stands ready to deliver 3 million doses of flu treatment Tamiflu, which has proven effective in treating swine flu. The U.K.'s GlaxoSmithKline rose 3.1%. The company has also been contacted by the WHO regarding its Relenza treatment, another antiviral drug.

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization declared the strain of swine flu to be a "public health emergency of international concern," with at least 103 people in Mexico dead, and advised all countries to be on the lookout for unusual outbreaks of flu.

wsj: Swine-Flu Fears Hit Europe's Markets - by Kimberly.Vlach

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Swine-Flu Fears Hit Europe's Markets - by Kimberly.Vlach

European stocks fell Monday, as risk aversion grew on concerns the outbreak of swine flu will hurt consumption and further slow global economic activity. The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 fell 1.1%. The U.K. FTSE 100 shed 1.2%, the French CAC-40 lost 1.8% and Germany's DAX declined 1.1%. The outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada could have an impact on meat and feed demand, including in Asia, analysts said Monday. Over the weekend, the World Health Organization declared the strain of swine flu to be a "public health emergency of international concern," with at least 103 people in Mexico dead, and advised all countries to be on the lookout for unusual outbreaks of flu.

4/26/09

Global Research.ca: The "New Great Game" in Eurasia is being fought in its "Buffer Zones" - by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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The "New Great Game" in Eurasia is being fought in its "Buffer Zones" - by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

In each one of these struggles, there is rivalry between a distinctly "Eurasian base of power" and a "Peripheral base of power" that is dominated by Western Europe and the United States. In other words, the struggle opposes Eurasia to the Ocean-based powers of the Periphery. It is in this context that Eurasian powers have always been strong in regards to land power or their armies, while the Peripheral Powers have had superior navies. This is why Britain and Japan had powerful navies historically and why the U.S., on a global scale, has the largest navy. A look at China and Russia will show that they have had and continue to have large and powerful land forces.

Heraldsun.com.au: Ban petrol cars from 2015, says Norway's Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen - by Alister Doyle

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Ban petrol cars from 2015, says Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen - by Alister Doyle

A PROPOSAL to ban sales of new petrol-powered cars in Norway from 2015 could help spur struggling carmakers to shift to greener models, Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said. "This is much more realistic than people think when they first hear about this proposal," she said, defending a plan by her Socialist Left Party to outlaw sales of cars that run solely on fossil fuels in six years' time. "The financial crisis also means that a lot of those car producers that now have big problems ... know that they have to develop their technology because we also have to solve the climate criss when this financial crisis is over," she said. "That is why we would like a ban from 2015."

EU wants Israel to back creation of Palestinian State - before considering upgrade of ties


EU-Digest

EU wants Israel to back creation of Palestinian State - before considering upgrade of ties

(AFP) Israel must back the creation of a Palestinian state and recommit to the Middle East peace process before the EU caneven consider to deepen its ties with the Jewish state, the European Commission said Thursday.

Late last year EU nations agreed to possibly enhance ties with Israel, but the idea has been a dead letter since the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and January, leaving over 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to Palestinian figures. "We believe that good and trustful relations with Israel are essential in order to make our voice heard," the EU's External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters in Brussels. "We do not believe, however, that the time is indeed ripe to go beyond the current level of relations," she added.

"Too much remains unclear at this current point in time. And we expect indeed a clear commitment from the new government to pursue the negotiations with the Palestinians," EU commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said. "We expect a stop of all activities undermining our objective of a two-state solution," she added, citing the expansion of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories "which is continuing on a daily basis."

"Israel knows what we have to offer and we have shown our very good will and our commitment to reinforce our relations but we think that the ball is now in the court of Israel," she said.

New American Media: Obama Signals 'Not Business as Usual' to Israel

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Obama Signals 'Not Business as Usual' to Israel

The first sign was President Barack Obama giving an interview to Al Arabia Television right after he came to office in January. Now after his speech in Turkey and his meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the White House, Arab media are suggesting that Obama is going to play a more balanced role as mediator between Israelis and Palestinians than his predecessor. It is important to note the U.S. position has not really changed. The two-state solution also was part of the Bush administration’s Middle East policy. What is new, said Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst with Al Jazeera English “is that the Obama administration considers reconciliation and peace part of its national security. Under the Bush administration, conflict and war on terror were part of its national security.” However Obama’s vision for the Middle East is on a collision course with that of the Israeli right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama wants to move the peace process forward because he feels that the situation may explode at any moment. He said, “new missiles may land in Tell Aviv, Israel may invade Gaza again, and other problems may rise in Lebanon.” Atwan said that Obama would not tolerate Netanyahu’s rejection to the two-state solution. Obama is already signaling his displeasure, according to the media. Former U.S. diplomat Hillary Mann Leverett told Al Jazeera English, “ During the eight years of the Bush administration and even during the eight years of the Clinton administration where I served, Israeli presidents and prime ministers would be able to come whenever they want with even just a phone call notice.” But according to the Israeli Radio Station(IDF Radio), Netanyahu had to cancel his appearance before AIPAC after learning that Obama would not be able to meet with him during the conference.

The Independent Institute: Economics: Depression, War, and Cold War - Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity - by Robert Higgs

For the complete report from The Independent Institute click on this link

Economics: Depression, War, and Cold War - Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity - by Robert Higgs

*President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal did not end the Great Depression—it prolonged it. By shaking investors’ confidence in the security of their private property rights, the president’s laws and regulations discouraged the long-term private investment needed to revive the economy. Private investment remained low during World War II and only began to rise—for the first time since the 1920s—after the transition to a new administration in 1945. **The belief that World War II created prosperity is a historical myth that stems from the misinterpretation that war or large defense spending benefits the civilian economy. The draft might have reduced official unemployment numbers, but military service yielded little pay under harsh conditions and cannot be reasonably equated with jobs in the civilian sector. Moreover, few durable and non-defense capital goods were produced by the new labor force, and real personal consumption, adjusted for population growth, changed very little between 1941 and 1944.

4/25/09

The Economist: Railroads - European companies hope to prosper from railway mania in the Middle East

For the complete report from the Economist click on this link

Railroads-European companies hope to prosper from railway mania in the Middle East

Railways have not made much news in the Middle East since Lawrence of Arabia blew up the Hijaz line in 1918. But bosses in the $165 billion global rail industry have been flocking to the Gulf lately, lured by the prospect of an investment boom. Every country in the region has drawn up plans for ambitious rail projects. Qatar and Kuwait are spending around $10 billion each, and the United Arab Emirates is shelling out twice that. On their shopping lists are monorails, bullet-trains and local metros, the first of which (pictured) will open in Dubai in September. Not to be outdone, Saudi Arabia plans to spend $15 billion to increase the size of its rail network nearly five-fold. Pilgrims could be riding the rails to Mecca and Medina at 360kph (225mph) as early as next year, rather than plodding along the kingdom’s notoriously crash-prone roads. And this is just the beginning. All these planned national lines will eventually be connected into a regional network, at a further cost of at least $14 billion.

Defense News: Saab Makes Case for Gripen as F-X2 Choice - by Antonie Boessaenkool

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Saab Makes Case for Gripen as F-X2 Choice - by Antonie Boessaenkool

In a press briefing at the Latin America Aerospace and Defense conference, executives of Swedish company Saab appealed to Brazil's desire to gain technology through its fighter jet competition, and said Saab would make offset investments in Brazil equal to the size of the contract, which Brazil plans to award this year. The euro 1.88billion ($2.2b) competition for 36 fighters pits the Gripen against Boeing's F-18 and Dassault's Rafale.

Bob Kemp, Gripen International's sales and marketing director says: "More than 99 percent of fighters worldwide come from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and I can tell you those guys don't go around handing out their technology. That's why they still have over 99 percent of the market. If you want to do something different and control your own destiny, there is only one choice, and that is Sweden's Gripen." Saab has completed 78 test flights with the Next-Generation Gripen it is proposing for Brazil's contest, Kemp said. The company received nine requests for proposals or for information involving the Gripen from countries worldwide.

Deadly flu strain threatens Mexico and U.S.- No reports from Europe

EU-Digest

Deadly flu strain threatens Mexico and U.S.- No reports from Europe

(Reuters)Mexican and U.S. health officials searched on Saturday for signs an outbreak of a new flu strain is spreading further, after it killed up to 68 people in Mexico and infected eight in the United States. The World Health Organization said the virus from 12 of the Mexican patients was the same genetically as a new strain of swine flu, designated H1N1, seen in eight people in California and Texas who later recovered. The Mexican government said the flu had killed 20 people and it may also be responsible for 48 other deaths. In all, 1,004 suspected cases have been reported nationwide. Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova, speaking on the evening television news, encouraged people to avoid crowds and wear face masks, noting there was no guarantee that going to get a flu vaccine would help against the new strain.

In California, Dr. Gil Chavez, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health and the state's chief epidemiologist, said many more cases could come to light as patients are tested. "The more we look the more we are likely to find," he said. In New York City, health officials were investigating what had sickened scores of students who fell ill with flu-like symptoms in a Queens high school on Thursday and Friday. The symptoms were reported as mild and a city health official said he could not speculate about which flu strain was responsible.

The U.S. government said it was taking the situation seriously and monitoring for any new developments. As far away as Hong Kong -- the epicenter of the 2003 SARS epidemic and especially vigilant to any threat of infectious disease -- the government's Center for Health Protection said it was closely monitoring investigations in the United States and would analyze flu samples in the territory.

Bob Prechter, in "The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior, Chapter 18" writes: "Epidemics and pandemics seem to hit populations during major negative social mood trends. ...when we study pandemics of the Dark Ages or the Spanish influenza epidemic that broke out during the bear market of 1917 (which year also saw intense fighting in World War I and the Communist coup in Russia), there always appears to be a bear market in force, and the extent of the epidemic tends to correlate with the size of the setback in mood." So far there have been no reports about this flu strain in Europe.

TheNews.pl/EU-Digest : Poland: Teens prostitute themselves for brand clothes and vacation money

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Poland: Teens prostitute themselves for brand clothes and vacation money

Twenty percent of teenage prostitutes in Poland sell their body in order to earn money for brand clothes, concert tickets or holiday, shows a report commissioned by Poland’s Children Ombudsman’s Office. The shocking report reveals that the number of teenagers who become prostitutes is growing and the age of teen prostitutes is coming down. Girls usually enter the sex business at the age of fifteen to sixteen. Boys also go on the streets as early as fourteen or fifteen. Twenty percent do it on their own free will. They choose to sell their bodies in order to earn money for brand clothes, fashionable gadgets or concert tickets. Material goods help them gain respect of their peers. “Young people feel they need to attend trendy clubs, wear brand clothes and have enough money for expensive alcohol and cigarettes in order to be accepted,” said Jacek Kurzępa, the co-author of the report. Another reason why teenagers decide to enter sex business is the desire to earn money easily and quickly. It is a particularly tempting option for those who collect money for holidays, pets or tickets to all kinds of music and sports events, because it saves time. There is also a group of teenagers who prostitute themselves just for a thrill, to taste a forbidden fruit, says the report. Prostitution is not perceived as bad or even shameful by many teenagers, the report shows. Young people, instead of calling prostitution by its name, use the term “sponsoring”, which softens its true meaning. For some, teenagers, those who have a sponsor, can even be role models.

Note EU-Digest: The above report also accentuates that the moral authority of the Polish Catholic Community which used to be quite influential in these matters has caved in to the powers of the consumer society?"

Mail Online: Embarrassment for Britain's Darling as IMF immediately punctures his rosy predictions of growth by 2010

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Embarrassment for Britain's Darling as IMF immediately punctures his rosy predictions of growth by 2010

Alistair Darling's prediction Britain will emerge from the recession next year was immediately slammed by the International Monetary Fund today. In a second humiliation by the IMF in less than 24 hours, the Chancellor's forecast was dismissed as too optimistic. Mr Darling, in his bleak Budget speech, predicted the economy will shrink by 3.5 per cent this year before rising back in 2009 with 1.25 per cent in growth. The Chancellor added that growth would climb to 3.5 per cent by 2011. But the IMF, which oversees the global financial system, countered with a projection that output will in fact drop by a massive 4.1 per cent this year.

Note EU-Digest: the fact is that the IMF and national government predictions, specially those of Britain, have been wrong many times. What ever way we might want to spin the story, the key lies in the hands of the consumer. This means that economic stimulus programs must primarily focus on the bottom of the economic ladder. History has shown us that so called "trickle down" policies are flawed and that continued support for those that already have helped themselves to what was in "the kitty" does not work. The formula is 2+2=4 (not 5). Its as simple as that.

EurActiv.com - EU Parliament backs tighter rules for rating agencies

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EU Parliament backs tighter rules for rating agencies

The European Parliament yesterday (23 April) adopted a law that introduces mandatory registration and supervision of credit rating agencies for the first time.The sector has been criticized for being too slow to warn investors of the risks in securitized products, which have become largely untradable in the credit crunch despite having had high ratings. "This is one of the tools to respond to the crisis," French centre-right MEP Jean-Paul Gauzes said. Parliament voted externally in favor of the draft law with 569 for and 47 against, amid four abstentions.

4/24/09

SportsYA: Dutch Premier Soccer league: AZ Alkmaar grabs title for second time

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Dutch Premier Soccer league: AZ Alkmaar grabs title for second time

Founded just 42 years ago, when Alkmaar and Zaanstreekas FC got merged, AZ Alkmaar got their second title at the Dutch Soccer Premier League; they celebrated the first one in the 1980-81 season. On Saturday, Alkmaar couldn't celebrate their new title as they wanted to because they lost by 1-2 to Vitesse which was only their third defeat in the season. In the end, Twente lost to Feyenoord in Rotterdam, while Ajax lost to PSV in Eindhoven. This meant that AZ became the champion even while they still have to play 3 more games. So AZ Alkmaar's trip to Ajax on Sunday has lost a lot of its luster after AZ clinched the premier league title following Ajax's 6-2 defeat against PSV Eindhoven last weekend. Louis van Gaal's champion team will have little to play for at the Amsterdam Arena except prestige if they beat their Amsterdam hosts. For Ajax however, there is plenty on the line, who trail second-placed Twente by only one point. It should make for an interesting Sunday.

The Media Line: Turkey to Cyprus: Water is in the Pipeline - by Jasper Mortimer

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Turkey to Cyprus: Water is in the Pipeline - by Jasper Mortimer

It should be straightforward: the Turks have an abundance of water, the Cypriots have a sustained drought, the answer is to lay a pipeline across the seabed and pump fresh water from southern Turkey to north Cyprus. But nothing is straightforward between two states that have been at loggerheads for decades.On the north side of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots want the pipeline to be built, but don’t have the money. They look to Turkey to finance it, and would like to sell the surplus water to Greek Cypriots. On the south side of Cyprus, a Greek Cypriot entrepreneur believes the money can be raised, but his government refuses to buy water from Turkey until it withdraws the 40,000 troops that have occupied northern Cyprus since 1974.

A consultant and former senior planning officer in the Cypriot Planning Bureau, Vassiliou has been waging a campaign for the pipeline to be built, writing letters to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2005 and 2008, and discussing the project with Turkish Cypriot leader Talat last month. He is the front man for a group of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who aspire to build the pipeline as a joint venture with public subscription from both sides of the island. Vassiliou admits he does not know all the figures involved, but working from a capital cost of 350 million euros ($463 million) for the pipeline -- a figure about 10 percent higher than that given by the Turkish Cypriot environment ministry -- he has calculated that Turkish water could be pumped to Cyprus at a price which is less than half that of desalinated water and almost one fifteenth of the cost of water shipped from Greece.

The Nation - US Politics: President Obama and the Big Dogs - by William Greider

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US Politics: President Obama and the Big Dogs- by William Greider

"What we are witnessing is a high-stakes melodrama of glandular politics. This rival power center, though gravely weakened, is contesting for control with the president. For three decades, the Wall Street guys in good suits have ruled the economy, demanding deference from the political system and from corporate managements, too. Those who failed to follow them were punished, either through stock prices or election financing. Despite their catastrophic failure, the surviving bankers and financiers are trying to hold on to their thrones. Obama wants to govern through public-spirited cooperation. The financial titans play hardball in return. I say "seems" because we do not yet know about Obama and how he will resolve this mess. The administration has been stalling action on the troubled banks, as if it believes in its own wishful forecasts about an early recovery for the economy.

The financial crisis poses the first great moral dilemma of the Obama presidency. Sometime in the next few months, he will be compelled to choose between his technocratic inclinations--rescuing certain financial institutions deemed "too big to fail"--and the obvious moral wrongness of his policy of rewarding the very players who caused our national disaster. The broad public does not doubt that this is morally wrong. I saw a Zogby opinion poll the other day that said only 6 percent of the public supports the financial bailouts. Obama is on the wrong side of that bipartisan consensus."

Comedy show in Dutch Parliament by Government Coalition on purchase Lockheed F-35 avoids crises

EU-Digest

Comedy show in Dutch Parliament by Government Coalition on purchase Lockheed F-35 avoids crises

The discussion on buying two JSF test planes brought the Dutch governing coalition - the Christian Democrats, the Labor Party and the Christian Union - close to crisis this week after the Labour MPs said they would not agree to buy the controversial Lockheed F-35 fighter aircraft. Following a variety of intense meetings between the partners in the coalition a compromise was reached whereby it was decided to put a non-refundable down payment on the purchase of one JSF operational test aircraft and to delay a final decision on whether or not to buy that single aircraft until next year and to move the final decision to purchase 85 of the F35 Joint Strike Aircraft to 2012, one year after the next general elections.

Buying one JSF test plane would cost the Netherlands 113.2 million euros, but financing one would still be around 100 million euros. Opposition parties considered this a complete "turn-around" by the Labor party and a "comical" performance by the whole government coalition, whereby nothing has changed except that the verb purchasing was changed into the verb financing. They noted that financing the test plane comes down to the same thing as buying it. Opting out of the test phase at a later stage will cost the Netherlands between 20 and 100 million euros, according to insiders.

The bottom-line is that the Government coalition probably realized that if the confrontation had resulted in early elections, the populist conservative hardliner, Mr. Geert Wilders, chairman of the Party for Freedom (PVV) probably would have been the next PM of the Netherlands. Consequently the F-35 Joint Strike drama will continue in the Netherlands.

EUobserver: Tentative signs of eurozone recovery - by Andrew Willis

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Tentative signs of eurozone recovery - by Andrew Willis

Although the 16-member euro area is still very much in the throws of its worst recession since World War II, some positive data suggest the end may be in sight. The purchasing managers' index – an indication of future activity in the areas of services and manufacturing – jumped from 38.3 to 40.5 points in March, giving rise to hope that the green shoots of recovery seen elsewhere in the world may be spreading to Europe. The new figures, compiled by research group Markit and released on Thursday (23 April), are still well below the 50-point threshold that marks an increase in economic activity. But the new data for March show the rate of economic decline has slowed to the lowest level seen in the last six months and exceed economists' prior predictions of a rise to 39 points. Analysts responded positively to the news.

Welcome to Holland?

EU-DigestWelcome to Holland?

From a Dutch reader comes this joke: "An Iranian refuge has been granted asylum in The Netherlands. Overjoyed, he approaches the first man he meets: “Mr. Dutchman, thank you for granting me asylum in your country!” The man looks puzzled. “Dutchman? Me? Come on, I ain’t no bleeding’ infidel. I am Moroccan, and proud of it!” The Iranian walks off. He spots another man. Again he thanks him for granting him asylum. This guy actually gets angry. “Who do you call a Dutchmen? I am Turkish!” The Iranian walks off again, and notices another man. He thanks him once more. This guy smiles, and says: “Look man, I’m black. I am not Dutch. I am from Suriname.” The Iranian is utterly confused. “But I am in Holland, right? Where are all the Dutch, then?”

Freedom of expression takes many forms and the best of that is being able to laugh about your own country or yourself.

USA Today: High school junior chooses pro basketball in Europe - Marien Garcia

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High school junior chooses pro basketball in Europe - Marien Garcia

For superior players, college men's basketball is "purgatory," says Sonny Vaccaro, a former shoe company executive who remains a powerful figure in the game. Vaccaro has advised some high school players to skip college to play for pay overseas and return when they are eligible for the NBA. Jeremy Tyler of California is the latest to heed Vaccaro's advice — with a twist. Tyler, 6-11, has left San Diego High during his junior year. He plans to play the next two years overseas before declaring for the NBA draft in 2011. He is being home-schooled, Vaccaro said.

4/23/09

Radio Netherlands: Orange headscarves for Dutch Muslim women

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Orange headscarves for Dutch Muslim women

This year, Muslim women in Haarlem will be able to celebrate Queen's Day appropriately dressed. A group of students will hand out more than 5,000 orange headscarves on 30 April to promote tolerance in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The orange headscarves will allow Muslim women to express their loyalty to their faith as well as to the queen. The two students who took the initiative for the action say they are annoyed by the rabble rousing in politics and in society over the wearing of headscarves. The orange headscarves have been partly paid for with a 3,000-euro prize awarded by the Haarlem council to the two students' their initiative.

Flightglobal: ESA's satellite Air Trafic Management for European Single Sky prepares next phase - by Rob Coppinger

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ESA's satellite Air Traffic Management for European Single Sky prepares next phase - by Rob Coppinger

In 2014 a small geostationary orbit satellite could be launched by the European Space Agency to help modernize air traffic management in Europe. The satellite would begin deployment of a constellation that will deliver Air Traffic Management (ATM) communications for the European Civil Aviation Conference area that spans from Iceland to Azerbaijan. By 2020 global air travel is expected to double, resulting in increasing congestion in the air and on the ground and a new requirement for an independent safety-critical air-to-ground link.

GPS World: Norway Joins EU Galileo Project - GPS System Integration Design & Test


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Norway Joins EU Galileo Project - GPS System Integration Design & Test

The Norwegian government has decided that Norway shall participate in the Galileo project together with the 27 members of the European Union (EU). Norway is not a member of the EU. The Norwegian participation would cost almost 600 million Norwegian kroner (USD 93 million) over five years. The bill is expected to be passed by the Norwegian parliament in the course of this spring. During earlier Galileo system design, Norway was able to influence the choice of the Galileo constellation, with the purpose of getting as good coverage in the Nordic countries as in Central and Southern Europe. Originally, the constellation was proposed to consist of satellites in both geostationary and inclined orbits, but after simulations carried out at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim the geostationary orbits were abandoned because of reduced performance at high latitudes. Now, an agreement with the European Union has been negotiated, resulting in active Norwegian participation in Galileo. This will give Norwegian companies full access to bidding for EU development contracts, among other things, and is very much welcomed by Norwegian industry. It is assumed that this will be worth about ten times as much as the direct Norwegian contribution to Galileo funding.

Inside GNSS: EU Proposes Big Changes for GSA within Galileo Program

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EU Proposes Big Changes for GSA within Galileo Program

A proposal now before the European Parliament and Council of the European Union would complete the transformation of the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) from the leading executive agency for the Galileo program into a diminished subsidiary of the European Commission (EC). That pre-eminent role, envisioned under the strategy of a public-private partnership (PPP) abandoned more than two years ago, would have seen the GSA sign and oversee a contract with a private consortium building and operating the Galileo system and its precursor European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). Instead, under the terms of EC Communication 139 released March 24, the GSA would be renamed the GNSS Agency with the EC holding veto power over its administrative board and the agency’s primary mission reduced to market research and promotion of Galileo as well as conducting security audits.

NetworkWorld: China launches satellite for positioning system to compete with European Galileo and US GPS system - by Owen Fletcher

China Lauching Compass - picture courtesy Xinhua-News-Agency


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China launches satellite for positioning system to compete with European Galileo and US GPS system - by Owen Fletcher

China launched a satellite marking a new phase of deployment for its global positioning network aimed at ending reliance on similar foreign systems early Wednesday morning. Beidou II, the first "network deployment" satellite in a positioning system called Compass, blasted off from mountainous Sichuan province in the country's west, according to the China National Space Administration's Web site. The satellite will be able to provide positioning, speed measurement and time services to China and surrounding areas, the statement said.China's positioning system, the equivalent of Galileo in Europe or GPS in the U.S., will compete for commercial contracts but is also meant to prevent military reliance on foreign communications systems.

LA Times: EU passes new rules on opening up gas and electricity markets after nearly 3 years - by Aoife White

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EU passes new rules on opening up gas and electricity markets after nearly 3 years - by Aoife White

The European Union on Wednesday approved new rules for opening up gas pipelines and electricity grids to competition — a move that regulators claim could help bring down energy prices and improve energy security. But consumers and some lawmakers said nearly three years' of negotiations on the rules had watered them down so much that they could not challenge the grip large energy firms' have over the European market.

Information Week: Europe Moving To Reduce Wireless Roaming Charges by David Gardner

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Europe Moving To Reduce Wireless Roaming Charges by David Gardner

European Union lawmakers moved the put an end to mobile phone "bill shock" Wednesday by mandating price limits on text messages and voice calls that are scheduled to go into effect in time for the summer tourist season. The biggest cuts will be for text messages. Mobile handset users will pay a maximum price of 11 euro cents (14 U.S. cents) for a text message -- a reduction from the current ceiling of 36 U.S. cents. Carriers will still be permitted to charge what they want, provided the price is under the ceiling."Today's vote marks the definite end of the roaming rip-off in Europe," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, who has championed the drive for more uniform lower wireless messaging rates in Europe. She had complained for months that Europe's mobile industry didn't understand that credible prices were necessary to avoid regulation.

At the same time, the EU Parliament lawmakers approved a data-downloading measure with a ceiling of 1 euro per megabyte versus the current charge of 1.68 euros. The older pricing schedules have resulted in some countries' carriers charging nearly twice as much as other countries. The texting measure also calls for customers to be billed by the second after the first 30 seconds versus the current practice of charging by the second after the first minute of use.

Note EU-Digest: These are the benefits of being part of the EU. Good job Viviane Reding !!

4/22/09

Radio Netherlands: Dutch Government coalition labor party opposes purchasing F-35 prototype

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Dutch Government coalition labor party opposes purchasing F-35 prototype

A crisis is brewing in the Dutch cabinet over the proposed purchase of two US-built Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) prototype jet fighters. The JSF is the proposed successor to the fleet of F16s currently used by the Royal Dutch Airforce. A decision on whether to spend 6.1 billion euros to buy 85 of the JSF fighters does not have to be taken until 2010. However, the three coalition parties do have to decide this year whether to buy the two prototypes. Coalition member the Labor Party now opposes the purchase, which would cost 274 million euros. It says that while it wants the Netherlands to remain involved in the development of the fighter - because this will offer employment and research opportunities to Dutch companies - it also believes that agreeing to buy the prototypes will commit the country to further purchases. Labor supporters are opposed to spending such a huge sum of money on a fighter jet in these troubled economic times.

The Huffington Post: How Europe & Canada Could Help Us! - by Steve Cobble:

The F-35 Joint strike Fighter - does anyone really need it?


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How Europe & Canada Could Help Us! - by Steve Cobble

Europe (and our good friends the Canadians) can help the U.S. get its act together by putting on the brakes--not the economic brakes, but the military brakes. Here are some suggestions: Help get us out of Iraq; Don't join us in Afghanistan with military forces; Give up on the Bush/Cheney idea of European Missile Defense; Help us getting rid of several hundred overseas military bases; Pull out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, before it's too late to stop it. The time is now, when President Obama's budget is being considered in Congress. It is particularly disappointed to see the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Canada on it. I sort of expect the U.K. to go along with whatever grandiose military ideas the Pentagon comes up with, since even massive Labor Party antiwar activism could still not stop Tony Blair from his stupid, illegal, and disastrous backing for George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. But why is the Netherlands building F-35s? Why are Norway & Denmark?

Pentagon's proposal is to build 2,458 of these F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, at a minimum cost of $100 million apiece, the future costs are huge. Some experts believe that the life-cycle costs of the F-35 will approach a trillion dollars, more than Obama's first stimulus package!

Why Europe Doesn’t Want Turkey’s Islamic Millions

Why Europe Doesn’t Want Turkey’s Islamic Millions

"Turkey's potential role as an east-west energy hub
Why Europe Doesn’t Want Turkey’s Islamic Millions

By Peter C. Glover Wednesday, April 22, 2009

President Obama has been banging the drum for Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Not that there’s anything new in his policy. Obama sees a ‘European Turkey’ as a win-win situation both for Europe and the United States. He believes, as does the Turkish PM Recep Erdogan, that it is the natural quid pro quo for Turkey’s development as Europe’s east-west energy bridge."

EU closes climate loophole for car air conditioners

EU-Digest

(Reuters)The European Union has closed a loophole that would have allowed car manufacturers to continue putting climate-damaging chemicals in air conditioners of new vehicles beyond a 2011 ban, a Commission document showed. The move aimed to help the EU meet its commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto protocol, the United Nations' main tool against climate change. The EU ruling also opens up a new market for greener refrigerants, with industry giant Honeywell International (HON.N) pitching its HFO-1234yf coolant against rival carbon dioxide-based systems, such as that of Austria's Obrist Engineering.

NYT: Redefining Capitalism After the Fall - by Richard W. Stevenson

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Redefining Capitalism After the Fall - by Richard W. Stevenson

In a series of comments in recent weeks, Mr. Obama has begun to sketch a vision of where he would like to drive the economy once this crisis is past. His goals include diminishing the consumerism that has long been the main source of growth in the United States, and encouraging more savings and investment. He would redistribute wealth toward the middle class and make the rest of the world less dependent on the American market for its prosperity. And he would seek a consensus recognizing that an activist government is an acceptable and necessary partner for a stable, market-based economy. “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” he said last week.

Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative research organization, told The Times of the administration, “They want much more of a European-style social democracy in which people are far less exposed to the vicissitudes of a market economy, and they want to have much easier access to manipulating the private-market economy.” Those on the left who have criticized Mr. Obama for being too timid in addressing the immediate crisis are similarly concerned that he will miss an opportunity to reshape American capitalism more fundamentally once the economy recovers.To drive economic growth in the place of debt-fueled consumption, Mr. Obama is banking on the emergence of alternative fuels, pollution-limiting technology, health care technology and other new industries linked to broader policy goals. But the viability and scale of those opportunities is open to debate.

Note EU-Digest:There is nothing more permanent than change - and everyone will just have to bite the bullet.

New York Magazine: The wailing 1% - And The Rage of the Privileged Class As It Loses Its Privileges -- by Gabriel Sherman

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The wailing 1% - And The Rage of the Privileged Class As It Loses Its Privileges -- by Gabriel Sherman

In a witch hunt, the witches have feelings, too. As populist rage has erupted around the country, stoked by canny politicians, an opposite rage has built on Wall Street and other arenas where the wealthy hold sway. Its expression is more furtive and it’s often mixed with a kind of sublimated shame, but it can be every bit as vitriolic. “No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague. It is difficult to sympathize with these people, their comments laced with snobbery and petulance. But you can understand their shock: Their world has been turned on its head. After years of enjoying favorable tax rates, they are facing an administration that wants to redistribute their wealth. Their industry is being reordered—no one knows what Wall Street will look like in a few years. They are anxious, and their anxiety is making them mad.

It should come as no surprise that being a banker—indeed, simply being rich—is going to be a lot less fun under an Obama administration. In winter 2007, as the Democratic-primary contest got under way, Obama showed up at a Goldman Sachs client meeting to explain his economic agenda to a conference room full of potential campaign contributors. When he opened up the session to questions from the audience, one attendee lobbed the question that was surely on the mind of everyone in the room. “Are you going to raise my taxes?” Obama looked out across the millionaires sitting around him. “Yes,” he answered, without a flicker of hesitation, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The greed won’t disappear, of course. “The smart people are going to make money in good times and bad times,” one investment adviser tells me. “They’ll figure out how to game the system,” says the former Bear Stearns managing director. “You may get a new set of players. This may be a movement back to partnerships and boutique firms. This could be their moment.”

Note EU-Digest: Mr. Obama so far is delivering on his campaign promises and that is very rare for a politician.

CriEnglish: Sweden Backs Turkey for EU Membership - by Bao Congying


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Sweden Backs Turkey for EU Membership - by Bao Congying

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Tuesday that Sweden supports Turkey's bid to join the European Union (EU). Reinfeldt made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan following their talks in the Turkish capital.

"Turkey belongs to Europe. Turkey is a crucial country for Europe. With its regional role and young population, Turkey carries strategic importance for the EU," Reinfeldt said.

"Topics such as press freedom, freedom of expression, religious minorities, cultural rights, and the socioeconomic situation in southeastern Anatolia may be brought up in the EU process. The establishment of a TV channel in Kurdish in Turkey was an important step," Reinfeldt said.

Al-Ahram Weekly : The Turkish joker - by Mustafa El-Labbad

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The Turkish joker - by Mustafa El-Labbad

President Barack Obama's recent visit to Turkey inaugurated a new chapter in the assignation of roles in the Middle East. It marked a clear recognition of Turkey's political and geographic importance in the region and gave a green light to Ankara's more active engagement in shaping international balances of power. The significance of this should not be lost on us. It marks the beginning of a new strategic partnership between the world's main superpower and a rising regional power, and its effects are certain to be felt for some time to come in that huge geographical arc extending from the southern borders of Russia through the Caucasus, Iran and Iraq, to Syria and the eastern Mediterranean. The US presence in the region had suddenly pulled the rug from under Ankara's feet as proxy, a role that it had performed so well, and to make matters worse the surge of Turkish national ambitions beneath the American umbrella in Iraq threatened to spill over into Turkey and ultimately threaten its territorial integrity. The resolve of the Obama administration to break with the Bush administration's policy has dramatically altered this situation. Washington is now set to withdraw from Iraq and it wants Ankara's logistical and political support. Only in this context can we understand the significance of the Obama visit.

In addition to having been elevated to a new special footing with the US as a strategic partner and as the new American president's sole regional forum for addressing the Islamic world in the hope of repairing the American image so drastically damaged by Bush, Ankara has won additional kudos in NATO. In short, with all its strategic advantages, Turkey is in a position to help Washington achieve a whole gamut of objectives in the far-reaching geopolitical game that is unfolding on that vast board that stretches across the Middle East, Central Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Indeed, Turkey could well become the "joker" that the Obama administration will depend on to trump the US adversaries' cards in the different parts of the board. Although this administration is still in the process of getting the feel of all players, so far it appears that the Turkish card will prove an invaluable and reliable asset.

4/21/09

Coha.com: Netherlands Antilles’ Break Up Continues as Its Geopolitical Importance Mounts

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Netherlands Antilles’ Break Up Continues as Its Geopolitical Importance Mounts

The upcoming May 15 referendum in Curaçao is sure to have important repercussions for the political future of the Netherlands Antilles, a group of islands located in the southern Caribbean, which make up part of the Kingdom of Holland. One of the last remnants of overseas colonial territories in the Caribbean, the population of each island making up the Netherlands Antilles has divergent perspectives regarding what future ties their home-islands should maintain vis-à-vis Holland: autonomy within the Kingdom, or maintaining the status quo.

Devoid of ample natural resources and heavily dependent on tourism, the option of independence for many of these islands represents a paramount challenge. Within an international context, the autonomy of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (which could eventually lead up to full independence), may serve as a catalyst for other overseas territories to also pursue self-rule. Furthermore, the Netherlands Antilles are known for being tax havens and offshore financial centers by international organizations, hence a new political status may, ostensibly, prompt local leaders to agree to disclose the financial secrets of their clients. Finally, the geographical location of Curaçao, the Netherlands Antilles most populous island, makes the island’s politics important vis-à-vis Washington and Caracas, as both are know to have interests there.

As part of the autonomy process Holland has negotiated an economic aid package with the Netherlands Antilles to ensure that any island that chooses autonomy will be in sound financial condition. The aid includes financial supervision and a solution to the Antilles’ national debt, estimated at around $2 billion. Other changes include a native police force and amendments to the Constitution and charter. Holland also seems keen to maintain some kind of oversight over Curaçao’s and Sint Maarten’s judicial system. A referendum will be held in Curaçao on May 15. A “yes” vote will mean relieving the debt and accepting Dutch assistance in helping the island communities; a “no” vote will prompt Holland to demand repayment of the funds which were sent last January as part of the financing to begin assisting the Antilles repay its national debt. Furthermore, The Hague has hinted that, should the “no” vote prevail, there will never again be an opportunity to mitigate the islands’ debt, and that the autonomy discussions that have dated back to 1993 will cease.

guardian.co.uk: German investor morale surges to near two-yr high - by Krista Hughes

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German investor morale surges to near two-yr high- by Krista Hughes

The Mannheim-based ZEW economic think tank said on Tuesday its monthly poll of economic sentiment rose to 13.0 from -3.5 in March, showing its first positive reading since July 2007, which was just before the global credit crunch erupted. April's rise took the headline index to its highest level since June 2007, shooting well past the 1.5 consensus forecast and adding to signs that the worst of the downturn may be over in Europe's biggest economy. In another sign of economic recovery, the head of engineering sector association VDMA told Reuters last week that Germany's plant and equipment industry, the country's largest industrial employer, is seeing early signs of stabilization.

WSJ: Computer Spies Breach F35 Joint strike fighter - Jet Project - by Siobhan Gorman, August Cole and Yochi Dreazen

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Computer Spies Breach F35 Joint strike fighter-Jet Project - by Siobhan Gorman, August Cole and Yochi Dreazen

Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project -- the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever -- according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.

The Joint Strike Fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, is the costliest and most technically challenging weapons program the Pentagon has ever attempted. The plane, led by Lockheed Martin Corp., relies on 7.5 million lines of computer code, which the Government Accountability Office said is more than triple the amount used in the current top Air Force fighter. Former U.S. officials say the attacks appear to have originated in China. However it can be extremely difficult to determine the true origin because it is easy to mask identities online. A Pentagon report issued last month said that the Chinese military has made "steady progress" in developing online-warfare techniques. China hopes its computer skills can help it compensate for an underdeveloped military, the report said.

The Chinese Embassy said in a statement that China "opposes and forbids all forms of cyber crimes." It called the Pentagon's report "a product of the Cold War mentality" and said the allegations of cyber espionage are "intentionally fabricated to fan up China threat sensations."

defpro.com: German Fighter Wing 73 “Steinhoff” receives Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter in the German Sky


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German Fighter Wing 73 “Steinhoff” receives Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon

Four Block 8 Eurofighter Typhoons were delivered to their new home, German Fighter Wing 73 “Steinhoff” last week following a period of QRA duties and in-service testing at Fighter Wing 74 in Neuburg in Southern Germany. On the 14th April, two Tranche 2 aircraft were delivered to the base in Laage, Northern Germany followed by a further two Eurofighter Typhoons on the 16th April. The first Tranche 2 deliveries to Germany began in December 2008.

Zeit Online: Education - European Universities - CHE Excellence ranking - Campus

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Education - European Universities - CHE Excellence ranking - Campus

The CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development has developed a ”Ranking of Excellent European Graduate Programs” (CHE Excellence Ranking for short) for the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. The ranking wants to highlight the research strengths European Higher Education Institutions have and to give ideas to further improve the programs. Students can find the right Doctoral or Master program as well as information on more than 1,000 research teams.

About 20 European institutions have been selected for the second stage of analysis on the basis of four criteria (publications, citations, most-cited authors and Marie Curie programs). For these institutions, more detailed data has been acquired, such as information about faculties as well as about master and doctoral programs. In addition, students have been asked to asses their general study situation.

TBO.Com: Playboy ranks University of Miami No. 1 party school in the United States

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Playboy ranks University of Miami No. 1 party school in the United States

The University of Miami is the top school for partying in the U.S. according to Playboy Magazine. The University of Florida is No. 4 on the list. "When you combine weather and women, no city in the country is hotter than Miami," said Playboy in announcing the list. "That's why the U garnered our highest Bikini index score. Although Nikki Beach is the most beautiful topless seashore in the country, a recent grad raves about "hard-bodied coeds laying out on the campus lake between classes." The magazine doesn't put out its rankings every year. Its last list was in 2006, when the University of Wisconsin-Madison hit the top spot.

Some simple economic guidelines that seem to have been forgotten - by RM

EU-Digest

Some simple economic guidelines that seem to have been forgotten - by RM

*Government stimulus programs just for the financial sector to wipe out bad debt, while leaving the same players in charge with limited or no controls won't work. **Government stimulus programs focused on "trickle down" instead of "bottom to top" results have never worked and won't work today.***Getting people back to work through Government infrastructural stimulus programs has worked in the past and will work today.****Government stimulus programs which focus directly on consumers instead of producers has worked in the past and will work today.

Bottom line: helping people that need it the most will eventually benefit those that need it the least. When the trend is reversed expect revolution - just read your history books if you don't believe that.

WSJ: Spain's Bullet Train Changes Nation -- and Fast - by Thomas Catan

Alta Velocidad Española


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Spain's Bullet Train Changes Nation -- and Fast - by Thomas Catan

To sell his vision of a high-speed train network to the American public, President Barack Obama this week cited Spain, a country most people don't associate with futuristic bullet trains. Yet the country is on track to bypass France and Japan to have the world's biggest network of ultrafast trains by the end of next year, figures from the International Union of Railways and the Spanish government show. The growth of the Alta Velocidad Española, or AVE, high-speed rail network is having a profound effect on life in Spain. Many Spaniards are fiercely attached to their home regions and studies show they are unusually reluctant to live or even travel elsewhere.

But those centuries-old habits are starting to change as Spain stitches its disparate regions together with a €100 billion ($130 billion) system of bullet trains designed to traverse the countryside at up to 218 miles an hour. By 2020 nine out of ten Spaniards are expected to live within 31 miles of a high speed rail station.

Note EU-Digest: The trains itself are also a marvel of engineering and design: Its 200-metre aluminium chassis carries 404 passengers, whose reclining chairs - which can swivel to face the direction of travel - are fitted with video and music players.

4/20/09

Business Miror: USA Dollar Collapse? - Geithner’s biggest problem is dollar, not China - by William Pesek


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USA Dollar Collapse? - Geithner’s biggest problem is dollar, not China - by William Pesek

"The economy has lost any moral high ground as it drags the world down with it. That will be even truer as the dollar eventually pays the price for ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policies. And it will." Geithner’s climb-down from the manipulator charge is about pragmatism. He is aware of the fragility of international support for the dollar. “I do not look for an immediate collapse,” says Hans Goetti, chief investment officer at LGT Bank in Liechtenstein (Singapore) Ltd. “I am bearish longer term as the Fed will continue with their demolition job on their balance sheet.” The key distinction may be motive. China micromanages its currency on purpose to help exporters. The United States’ manipulation may be inadvertent. The end result will be the same.

China is far from a perfect locomotive, but it is among the very few we have today. The United States, the traditional engine, is stuck in reverse. So, it is hard to keep a straight face when politicians such as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, say China must “continue reforms.” Bulls argue that if you don’t like the dollar, what else are you going to buy? It’s a fair question. The yen? The Swiss franc? The euro? All of these options have their own problems. Yet it’s worth noting that the United States, with its fast-growing debt burden, couldn’t join the euro area even if it wanted to. The United States is actively paving the way for a falling currency. Just because China does it on purpose doesn’t mean the United States won’t be more successful at it in the long run."

PortFolio.com: EU Investigates Trans-Atlantic Airlines

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EU Investigates Trans-Atlantic Airlines

While some of the world's biggest airlines are still recovering from a massive price-fixing scandal in their freight operations, they are now facing a similar probe into their passenger business.

European Commission regulators have opened an investigation into cooperation agreements struck among the biggest trans-Atlantic airlines, looking to see if the arrangements violate price-fixing laws in the European Union and the European Economic Area. The authorities are focusing on two partner programs: one embracing United Air Lines, Continental Airlines, Lufthansa, and Air Canada, and another that includes American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia.

New Scientist: The Netherlands - Quantum Science- Avoid a future cataclysm: Forget the past - by Marcus Chown

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The Netherlands - Avoid a future cataclysm: Forget the past - by Marcus Chown

Great news, there may be a way to avoid a looming disaster. All you need to do is forget all about it by "resetting" your memory. That's the claim of physicist Saibal Mitra at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and it is predicated on the existence of parallel universes. The "many worlds" concept is an interpretation of quantum theory - our best description of the microscopic world of atoms and their constituents. Many worlds takes literally quantum theory's idea that a quantum entity like an atom can exist in many states at once, and posits the existence of parallel universes containing infinite copies of you with different histories and futures. To understand how the many-worlds scenario could allow a future disaster to be avoided, says Mitra, consider a hypothetical machine intelligence that regularly backs up its memory. If it encountered a glitch, for example, it could reset its memory to, say, the previous day's state.

The downside of such memory resets, however, is that there is a small chance you will "wake up" in a universe facing an even more cataclysmic disaster than the one you were trying to dodge. "You'd have to weigh up whether it would be worth the risk," Mitra concedes. David Deutsch at the University of Oxford, whose work has lent mathematical support to the many-worlds idea, points out that conclusions based on the probabilities of outcomes in parallel universes will be speculative, and therefore suspects Mitra is wrong. However, he notes that "probability is not yet sufficiently well understood to say so definitively".

The Moscow Times: The New Kremlin Dreamers - by Michael Bohm


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The New Kremlin Dreamers - by Michael Bohm

Several weeks ago in Voronezh, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the ambitious goals for "Strategy 2020" remain in place despite the economic crisis. He also said Russia has every chance of becoming the world's most desirable place to live by 2020. "This is no fairy tale," Shuvalov added, but if you examine the strategy closely, it certainly looks like one.

The most important ranking is not mentioned in Strategy 2020 at all -- the Transparency International's corruption index, in which Russia ranks 147 out of 180 countries in 2008. Corruption is particularly onerous for Russia's struggling small and medium-size businesses, which make up only 10 percent to 15 percent of the country's GDP. In the United States, small and medium-size businesses are the engine of economic growth, comprising roughly 50 percent of the country's private GDP and creating about two-thirds of net new jobs annually.

As long as Russian bureaucrats (and competitors) are free to terrorize businesses by creating "administrative barriers," extorting bribes and raiding, economic growth in the real sector will always be insignificant. To his credit, President Dmitry Medvedev is backing a new law to assist small businesses, which will, among other things, limit the number of government inspections of businesses. Most likely, however, these limitations will be easily sidestepped when bureaucrats simply extort a larger amount of money per inspection.

Europe and the Financial Crisis: US High School Students Take on The Euro Challenge

EU-Digest

Europe and the Financial Crisis: US High School Students Take on The Euro Challenge

Is the global economy heading from recession to depression? Why did a crisis in US mortgage markets wreak havoc in economies across Europe? The Euro Challenge, an academic contest now in its fourth year, pits teams of high school students against each other as they answer economic and financial questions to showcase their knowledge of everything from ballooning government deficits to rising unemployment. This year, 72 high school teams from nine states (Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Illinois and Pennsylvania) will compete in the Euro Challenge, which fosters a better understanding of the European and transatlantic economy and supports local learning objectives in the field of economics and finance. Regional rounds kick off on March 30 and culminate in the finals at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on April 29. "This year is a very special year for the Euro Challenge," said EU Ambassador John Bruton. "We have more schools and students competing this year than we have ever had since the European Commission’s Delegation to the United States first launched the contest in 2006. And they are competing at a time when daily headlines remind us just how important it is that we all understand the world of economics and finance." Students compete for scholarships awarded by the Moody's Foundation which also sponsors a one-day field trip to Washington DC for the top two teams. "Moody's is proud to be supporting the Euro Challenge as the competition grows into a truly national event," said Fran Laserson, President of the Moody's Foundation. "Economic and financial literacy is key to the development of tomorrow's US and global leaders."

"There is no other program that enables students to learn, first hand, about complex international issues like the one offered by the European Commission,” said Libby Nowak, teacher and coordinator of the Euro Challenge team at the High School of Economics & Finance in New York City.

US high schools interested in competing in 2010 should consult www.euro-challenge.org or contact the competition coordinator, Working in Support of Education, at 212-421-2700.