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6/30/09

M&C: EU condemns Honduras coup, demands detainees freed

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EU condemns Honduras coup, demands detainees freed

The statement - issued on behalf of all 27 members of the bloc - follows an earlier statement from the External Affairs Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Walder, regretting the weekend's military putsch against President Manuel Zelaya.The EU said it 'strongly condemned the military actions which were directed against democratically elected President Zelaya and part of his cabinet and have violated the constitutional order of Honduras.'

SmartCompany: Warren Buffett says US economy is still a “shambles” - by James Thomson

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Warren Buffett says US economy is still a “shambles” - by James Thomson

The world's second richest man, veteran investor Warren Buffet, has given a blunt assessment of the state of the United States economy - it's still in a shambles. In an interview with US business television channel CNBC, Buffet said that he doubts whether the economy has made much progress since May, when he declared the economy was at war. "I get figures on 70-odd businesses, a lot of them daily," Buffet said. "Everything that I see about the economy is that we've had no bounce."

Bloomberg.com: Boeing Faces $15 Billion Dilemma as Airbus A350 Gains - by Andrea Rothman and Susanna Ray

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Boeing Faces $15 Billion Dilemma as Airbus A350 Gains - by Andrea Rothman and Susanna Ray

Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner, absent from the Paris Air Show this week after two years of delays, may not be the jetmaker’s biggest problem. Airbus SAS’s bigger A350 has won almost 500 orders, 10 of them at the show, forcing Boeing to turn its attention to the market for bigger planes with more than 300 seats. The Chicago- based company is considering an upgrade of its 15-year-old 777. Airlines say it should spend billions on a new aircraft instead. “What Boeing makes next is the big question,” said Doug Runte, a New York-based analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. who estimates the U.S. company would need to spend $15 billion to develop a new model. “Airplanes require a huge investment of money and effort. If you get it wrong, the consequences are enormous and you have to live with it for a very long time.”

Guardian.co.uk: 'No links' between Air France and Yemenia Air crashes - by Dan Milmo

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'No links' between Air France and Yemenia Air crashes - by Dan Milmo

Aircraft crashes inspire horrified fascination – and, inevitably, frenzied speculation – whenever they occur. For the second time in a month, there has been a fatal incident involving an Airbus plane. However, any thought that the two incidents are related – the safety of Airbus products has been heavily questioned in recent weeks following the Air France disaster – has been downplayed by seasoned commentators. The Air France crash, which happened off the coast off Brazil with the loss of 228 lives on 31 May, raised concerns over the fly-by-wire system used by the Airbus A330-200.

environmentalleader.com: US House Of Representatives Narrowly Passes Climate Bill -

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US House Of Representatives Narrowly Passes Climate Bill

The House narrowly passed landmark climate change legislation (H.R. 2454) with a 219-212 vote, delivering a major victory for President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), reports Roll Call. The cap-and-trade bill, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which mandates reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and sets a national standard for renewable electricity, now heads to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain. One potential problem is a provision that would impose tariffs on goods imported from countries that don’t match U.S. carbon-dioxide restrictions, which some say could provoke a trade war with China and India.

Note EU-Digest: China and India would not have any incentive to start a trade war with the US based on new US environmental requirements and standards.

Computerworld: Europe moves to develop standard mobile phone chargers - by Paul Meller

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Europe moves to develop standard mobile phone chargers- by Paul Meller

Wouldn't it be nice if all of our mobile gadgets connected to one universal charger? According to the vice president of the European Commission, Gunter Verheugen, it's not only possible, it's already on the drawing board. Steps are being taken to standardize mobile-phone chargers, though a universal charger for all mobile devices will take longer. The commission claims some of the credit for the agreement reached with mobile phone makers, which earlier this year said they would pursue a universal charger for all phones. Verheugen welcomed the agreement, which was signed by 10 phone makers, including the biggest names in the industry that account for more than 90% of all European mobile phone sales.

6/29/09

Businessweek: European Banks: More Pain on the Way? - By Mark Scott

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As Europe enjoys a long-awaited summer heat wave, a sense of sunny optimism has taken hold of its financial capitals. Many in the region's beleaguered banking community reckon the worst of economic downturn is over. Equities markets have rallied since early 2009, property prices are leveling off, and signs of a recovery in consumer and industrial confidence are starting to surface. But before Europe's financial-services industry pats itself too hard on the on the back, bankers and investors may want to heed the sobering analysis released recently by the European Central Bank (ECB). Analysts at the ECB, which oversees the 16-country bloc that uses the euro, forecast that euro-zone banks could still record a further €283 billion ($398 billion) in writedowns by the end of next year, predominantly from defaulting corporate and consumer loans. cts that euro-zone banks could record as much as $398 billion in new write downs by 2010.

USA Today: Crashes analyzed for insight and clues - don't always trust the computer- by Alan Levin

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Crashes analyzed for insight and clues - don't always trust the computer - by Alan Levin

As the Northwest Airlines jet climbed past 16,000 feet, its speed began increasing mysteriously. A short time later, a horn sounded to alert the pilots that they were flying dangerously fast. "Just pull her back, let her climb," the captain told the confused co-pilot, suggesting that they could slow the Boeing 727 down by making it climb even steeper. Within minutes, this 1974 flight crashed into a wooded area in New York, killing all three pilots, the only ones aboard. According to aviation safety experts, it is one of a string of accidents around the world that could offer clues into what might have caused Air France Flight 447 to disappear as it cruised above the Atlantic Ocean on June 1.

The blaring warning horn and speed indicators in the cockpit of the Northwest jet were erroneous, investigators concluded later. The normally highly reliable aircraft was instructing pilots to do the wrong thing. Instead of speeding up, the jet was actually slowing, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found. All three devices that measured air speed had become clogged with ice and were telling the pilots they were going far faster than they actually were. Faced with a jarring series of sometimes contradictory warnings, the pilots became confused.

New Scientist: Financial crisis may have been good for the climate - environment - by Catherine Brahic

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Financial crisis may have been good for the climate - environment - by Catherine Brahic

The financial crisis and high oil prices caused the growth of greenhouse gas emissions to drop by half in 2008. That is the conclusion of an analysis of preliminary data released yesterday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). The data, from oil giant BP, also show that for the first time developing nations were responsible for pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than developed nations and international transport combined. But Jos Olivier of the NEAA warns that it is difficult to say whether the slowing trend of emissions will continue next year.

6/28/09

Family Security Matters: Radical Muslims Abuse Western Lawfare Systems to Advance their Jihad Agenda - - by Dr. Sami Alrabaa

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Radical Muslims Abuse Western Lawfare Systems to Advance their Jihad Agenda - by Dr. Sami Alrabaa

If Christian and Jewish religious symbols are criticized and satirized, most people do not care. Nobody takes to the street to demonstrate violently against the “culprits.” A long history of enlightenment and freedom of expression has tamed the majority of Christians and Jews. They accept religious freedom as a civilized fact of life. This, however, does not apply to radical Muslims. They exploit liberal Western lawfare systems and, most recently, blasphemy laws, especially in Europe, to advance their Jihad agenda.Over the past decade the number of Islamist lawsuits against critics of radical has been on the rise and more often than not successful. The tactic is very clear: silence critics of Islam.

Arab and Muslim thinkers and writers turn to the Internet to criticize radical Islam and jihadists. Check out “Al Hiwar Al Mutameden.”

Ainonline: Airbus ramps up work on A350 family

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Airbus ramps up work on A350 family

With the A380 very-large airliner firmly established in production and airline operation, Airbus is now hard at work on its next project: the three-model A350XWB twin-aisle twinjet family. It is about to begin production detailed design for
the mainly carbon-fiber aircraft, which is competing against the Boeing 787 and which Airbus claims also could replace the larger Boeing 777. Manufacturing of production tooling is already under way, as is development of aircraft systems and the passenger cabin, according to A350 program head Didier Evrard. Unveiled at the 2006 Farnborough airshow three years ago, the new design is a wider-cabin reworking of an earlier two-model A350 proposal, based on the A330 that makes extensive use of composite materials.The European airframer expects to begin final assembly of the first A350 in about two years. Testing of static and fatigue specimens should be initiated around the end of 2011, ahead of first flight in early 2012 and service entry in mid-2013, according to a schedule Airbus released last month. Before the A350 maiden flight, the company will use a digital mockup, as well as synthetic and real testing of system functions in an effort to ensure reliability, since many airframes, assemblies and subassemblies will be in production and Airbus wants to minimize modifications arising during flight test.

NYT: Iran Escalates Its Fight With Britain; New Clashes Erupt - by Michael Slackman

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Iran Escalates Its Fight With Britain; New Clashes Erupt - by Michael Slackman

Iran’s government said Sunday that it had arrested Iranian employees of the British Embassy, while the police in Tehran beat and fired tear gas at several thousand protesters who joined a demonstration at a mosque in support of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi. The government’s arrest of nine Iranian employees of the British Embassy marked a significant escalation in its conflict with Britain, which Tehran has sought to cast as an instigator of the unrest since the disputed June 12 election. It said the embassy employees played a significant role in organizing the protests, which have reached across the country and across social and economic lines. Tehran also continued to charge journalists with working as agents of discord, publishing one editor’s “confession” while continuing to keep others behind bars without charge or barred from working.

The arrests, detentions and restrictions added to Iran’s growing international isolation, as European Union foreign ministers meeting in Corfu, Greece, warned in a statement that there would be a “strong and collective EU response” to any intimidation of its members’ diplomatic staffs. The British foreign ministry said some of its personnel had been released, but declined to provide details.

6/27/09

CSM: Merkel and Obama don't always see eye to eye

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Merkel and Obama don't always see eye to eye - by Howard LaFranchi

A year ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama received a rapturous welcome in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not likely to receive a similar reception when she comes to Washington to meet with President Obama Friday. Chancellor Merkel – like Obama, a cool academic by training – continues to make digs at the US over the international economic crisis, and with Germany refusing either to send a substantial number of new troops to Afghanistan or to take any of Guantánamo's detainees, the stage seems set for polite disagreement.

The Huffington Post: Michael Jackson & the Media (Hello! What Happened to Iran? )- by Marcia G.Yerman

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Michael Jackson & the Media (Hello! What Happened to Iran? )- by Marcia G.Yerman

Everybody has weighed in on Jackson's death, from Cher on the Larry King show to Christine Hefner and Al Sharpton on MSNBC. This morning, the live coverage of the President's news conference with German Chancellor Merkel felt like it was squeezed in, between a further dissection of the Jackson persona - ranging from references to him as a Mozartian genius to a suspected pedophile.

However, the watershed image of loss for me of the past week was not the "King of Pop," with his unique musical skills, wonderful dancing, and gloved hand. It was the picture of Neda Agha Soltan brutally killed in Iran, looking squarely into the camera, for what may have been a passport photo.

Note EU-Digest: there is not one artist in the world who deserves adulteration following his death. Admiration maybe, but this total craziness we are seeing now with Michael Jackson absolutely not.

WSJ: Europe's Quiet Aggression Could Pay Off - by Simon Nixon

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Europe's Quiet Aggression Could Pay Off - - by Simon Nixon

Europe's Quiet Aggression Could Pay Off - by Simon Nixon

When is quantitative easing not quantitative easing? When it is a European Central Bank liquidity operation. On Wednesday, a record €442 billion ($622 billion) of one-year funds was pumped into the European banking system, answering critics who say the ECB isn't doing enough to fight the crisis. True, the ECB isn't increasing the quantity of money in circulation in the same way as the Federal Reserve and Bank of England, which are buying assets outright. But providing unlimited liquidity to banks is designed to achieve a similar goal. Since the crisis began, the ECB has expanded its balance sheet as aggressively as the Fed or the BOE.

6/26/09

Businessweek: European Regulators Target U.S. Firms - by Theo Framcis and Mark Scott

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European Regulators Target U.S. Firms - by Theo Framcis and Mark Scott

President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul financial regulation covers everything from mortgages to hedge funds. But reform efforts in Europe may prove more significant for U.S. companies. European regulators are hashing out new rules for banks, insurers, and money managers that could put U.S. firms at a disadvantage. Why is Europe reaching across the Atlantic? European policymakers, like those in the U.S., want to show decisive action in the wake of the financial crisis and prevent another. The new rules and proposals take aim at U.S. financial firms, a big source of dubious mortgage securities and other investments. U.S. firms will have to play by the new rules—or find a way around them. Otherwise, they risk losing a large pool of buyers, including European pension funds, insurers, and other big investors.

Europe's aggressive stance may also help shape the debate in Congress. Says Elliot Posner, a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University: "We have seen that the one who gets out in front tends to have the advantage."

Note EU-Digest: This is positive news for both European and US consumers

Wallstreet Journal: Europe Regulator Advises Ban on Painkiller - by Jeanne Wahlen

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Europe Regulator Advises Ban on Painkiller - - by Jeanne Wahlen

Europe's main medical regulator recommended that a 50-year-old painkiller, already largely ordered off shelves in some places, be withdrawn from the European market out of concern that patients have been fatally overdosing from it. The drug is known by the generic names dextropropoxyphene in Europe and propoxyphene in the U.S. It is still on the market in the U.S., where the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to withdraw it. The drug is an opioid that is widely used to treat mild to moderate pain. It was first introduced in the U.S. in 1957 by Eli Lilly & Co., under the brand name Darvon. Today it is marketed by a variety of generic-drug makers. Critics of the drug have been trying to have it withdrawn from the market for years.

The European Medicines Agency, or EMEA, said a "significant" number of Europeans have died by overdosing with the drug, either accidentally or intentionally.

6/25/09

International Pop Superstar Michael Jackson dies at 50 following heart attack

Michael Jackson dead at 50


EU-Digest

International Pop Superstar Michael Jackson dies at 50 following heart attack

Michael Jackson died today at the UCLA Medical Center after he was brought in by paramedics who found him not breathing at his home after he had apparently suffered a heart attack, according to various reports. Jackson became a global megastar in 1982 with the release of his album "Thriller," which gave him seven Top 10 hits and the album still remains one of the two bestselling albums in history. Following the release of "Thriller" Michael Jackson remained a major star for the next decade, but as the years passed he began receiving more attention for his eccentric behavior than for his music.

Jackoson, the King of Pop, had already sold-out 50 concerts at London’s O2 Arena, which were scheduled to begin July 13th. The concerts were intended to save him from the giant debt he had accumulated during his lengthy absence from the world's pop concert circuit.

Inventorspot: China's Netizens Declare they will Fight Back - by Rick Martin

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China's Netizens Declare they will Fight Back - by Rick Martin

With the recent protests in Iran, there has been a lot of discussion in the news of late about the power of technology in circumventing government control and censorship. Of course no one knows this kind of censorship better than Chinese netizens, especially after these past few weeks that saw the blocking of many popular social media sites and the introduction of the 'Green Dam' filtering software. In the face of such censorship, some more creative Chinese netizens (I have no idea who, or how many) have used Google Docs to release a declaration of war against this government imposed internet filtering. While I don't like to get too political on this site, I do think this document is worth republishing. It sheds light on hypes a fascinating battle over a group's right to use the internet freely as the rest of the world does (relatively speaking). And what's more, it's very eloquently written with lots of juicy ominous drama to boot!

DW: EU parliament head prepared to lead delegation to Iran

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EU parliament head prepared to lead delegation to Iran

Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi's appeals to the EU to respond to the violence in her country are bearing fruit: the president of the EU parliament is considering sending an unprecedented delegation to Tehran. EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said Wednesday that he is prepared to lead a delegation of European deputies to Iran to study allegations of fraud in the recent election that returned hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to another four years in power."I will recommend to the European parliament political groups to send a delegation of the European parliament as quickly as possible to Tehran," Poettering said after talks with Ebadi in Brussels. "I have never done this before but this...is so severe and important that I'm ready to go myself as president of the European parliament to show our solidarity with the people in Iran," he said.

Poettering said he had no way of knowing whether Iranian authorities would permit such a delegation to enter the country, adding that he would "follow the diplomatic procedure."

The Globe and Mail: Permanent Bedtime: poetry, sedative, or just a weather report? - by Rusell Smith

For the complete report from the The Globe and Mail click on this linkPermanent Bedtime: poetry, sedative, or just a weather report? - by Rusell Smith

Some genius has put up a website that will please anglophiles and poetry lovers. It's called Permanent Bedtime, and all it involves is a blank screen and a recording of BBC radio's weather forecast for shipping, plus its famous schmaltzy theme. That's it. I could listen to it for hours. The website is s3fm.co.uk/permanentbedtime , and it is part of a scheme to encourage people to make their own Internet radio channels by putting up their favorite recordings for all to hear.

MotorAuthority: BMW launches new efficient 316d ES for Europe - [BMW 316d ES] - MotorAuthority - by Ralph Hanson

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BMW launches new efficient 316d ES for Europe - [BMW 316d ES] - by Ralph Hanson

The U.S. resurgence of diesel may finally be shifting into high gear, but some of the world's best diesels still aren't even offered here. In Europe, however, carmakers such as BMW are introducing new models to meet ever-stricter emissions requirements, and the latest volley is the BMW 316d ES sedan. Billed as BMW's most efficient 3-series ever, the 316d ES manages just 118g/km of CO2 emissions - just 9g/km more than a second-gen Toyota Prius - while also returning 52.3mpg US in the combined European cycle. That's good enough to beat the current Prius. It's also good for 10.9 seconds 0-62mph (100km/h) and a top speed of 125mph (201km/h).

6/24/09

DailyFinance: Is Boeing's 787 safe to fly? - by Peter Cohan

Boeings 787 Dreamliner - are composite materials used unsafe in aircraft?


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Is Boeing's 787 safe to fly? - by Peter Cohan

Yesterday, Boeing (BA) announced its fifth delay in the delivery of its latest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner. Boeing has 865 orders for the $178 million aircraft, which is designed to cost 20 percent less to operate and maintain. A big reason for these savings is the 787's use of composite materials -- for example, All Nippon Airways, which is to be first to receive the 787, said in April that fuel savings and higher revenue from the higher capacity 787 could add $100 million in fiscal 2011. But the very composite materials that are saving money for airlines are now contributing to the problems that delayed the 787 for the fifth time. And those problems raise questions about whether it can ever be safe to fly -- which would probably scare passengers from boarding the 787. In order to understand why the 787 might be unsafe, it is crucial to understand more about the 787's composite materials -- including carbon fiber reinforced epoxy tape. Older aircraft are made of aluminum, which is heavier than the composite material.

Composites are lighter and stronger hence able to fly more fuel efficiently. But engineers don't completely understand how aircraft made of composite materials will respond to the stresses of actual flight. This incomplete understanding is reflected in the computer models they use to design the aircraft. The reason for the fifth delay is that the actual 787 did not behave the way the model predicted.

USA Today: Soccer - US triumph over Spain helps image of soccer - by Robert Millward

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Soccer - US triumph over Spain helps image of soccer - by Robert Millward

The United States' amazing 2-0 victory over Spain at the Confederations Cup on Wednesday night sent out a loud and clear message that no one, not even the world's top-ranked team, is guaranteed anything in this captivating sport and no team is ever out of contention. Even a 15-game winning streak doesn't put the ball in the net. Look at this sequence of results. The United States loses 3-1 to Italy. Italy loses 1-0 to Egypt. The Americans beat the Egyptians 3-0 and then end Spain's 35-game unbeaten run and 15-match streak of victories to reach the Confederation Cup final. Does this make any sense? Or is it simply more proof that soccer, the world's most popular sport, is still capable of throwing up the biggest surprises?

The Jutia Group: Jean-Claude Trichet: Debt, Stimulus & inflation in The Eurozone....

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Jean-Claude Trichet: Jean-Claude Trichet: Debt, Stimulus & inflation in The Eurozone....

If inflation had an arch-enemy, it would be Jean-Claude Trichet. Since assuming his position as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November 2003, the Frenchman has made inflation-fighting his M.O. Trichet and his fellow ECB board members have a steely resolve to keep the 16-nation Eurozone’s inflation rate as close to the bank’s 2% target as possible. And although inflation isn’t a problem at the moment, many believe it’s only a matter of time before it will be. So inflation-fighter Trichet has made a pre-emptive call for restraint. In an interview with Europe 1 radio, Trichet said that with many European governments swimming in debt and massive amounts of money pumped into the ailing Eurozone economy, debt accumulation and stimulus efforts should stop.

VOA News - US Senate Panel Warns of Increasing Drug Trafficking between West Africa and Europe

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US Senate Panel Warns of Increasing Drug Trafficking between West Africa and Europe

A subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from experts on Tuesday, detailing the exploding drug trafficking problem in West Africa. According to the panel, West Africa has become a crucial transit point for cocaine from South America headed to customers in Europe, posing a major threat to political stability and security in West Africa and elsewhere. All of the experts testifying at the panel warned of a dangerous convergence in West Africa of South American drug kingpins looking to sell their cocaine, terrorist groups with bases in Africa and European buyers. The experts said cocaine is shipped from South America - often with Venezuela serving as a launching pad - broken down into smaller parcels when it arrives in Africa and transported by African "mules," or individual traffickers by land and air to thriving markets in Europe.

Note EU-Digest: On several occasions EU-Digest reported on this major problem and signaled that EU Governments and the European Parliament needed to take urgent action. So far there seems to have been no significant action on the part of European Governments or the EU-Parliament except for some ineffective general statements.

6/23/09

Mail Online: Italian PM Berlusconi (72) under pressure over claims he had sex with an escort - by Nick Pisa

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Italian PM Berlusconi under pressure over claims he had sex with an escort - by Nick Pisa

Sensational new sex allegations surrounding Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have emerged plunging him into further controversy just weeks ahead of the G8 summit he is due to host. Model Barbara Montereale, 23, became the latest girl to claim she had been paid to attend parties thrown by Berlusconi, at his luxury villas. She also claimed that one escort girl had told she had had sex with the 72-year-old billionaire politician.Sensational new sex allegations surrounding Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have emerged plunging him into further controversy just weeks ahead of the G8 summit he is due to host. Model Barbara Montereale, 23, became the latest girl to claim she had been paid to attend parties thrown by Berlusconi, 72, at his luxury villas. She also claimed that one escort girl had told she had had sex with the 72-year-old billionaire politician.

The women meeting with Berlusconi were ordered to wear black dresses and as little make-up as possible. They were flown to Rome, taken in a taxi to a hotel, then taken by Tarantini's chauffeur, Dino, to Palazzo Grazioli, Berlusconi's residence. There they found about 20 other women. Tarantini was the only male guest apart from the Prime Minister.The young women were shown an hour-long documentary about Berlusconi. They watched clips of the billionaire Prime Minister with world leaders and on the campaign trail.At the dinner afterwards, Berlusconi showed off photos of his villas, told dirty jokes and handed out expensive jewellery. Then he started singing and dancing.

Time Magazine: Why Europe Is Talking Tougher than Obama on Iran - by Eben Harrell

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Why Europe Is Talking Tougher than Obama on Iran - by Eben Harrell

While President Obama has chosen a deliberately measured response to the contested Iranian election, European leaders have been far less restrained in their comments. On June 16, four days after the presidential election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the contested poll a "tragedy" and added that "the extent of the fraud is proportional to the violent reaction." That same day, the Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, said the violence in the streets and the deaths of protesters were "unacceptable." Three days later, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown referred to "the repression and the brutality" in Iran. Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel went further, calling on Iran's leaders to "allow peaceful demonstrations, allow free reporting of events, stop the use of violence against demonstrators and free imprisoned people."

NYT: Europe and U.S. Accuse China of Unfair Trade Practices - by Jack Healy


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Europe and U.S. Accuse China of Unfair Trade Practices - by Jack Healy

The United States and European Union accused China of unfair trade practices on Tuesday, saying the Chinese government was restricting exports of raw materials to give manufacturers in that country a competitive advantage. Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, said China had imposed quotas, export duties and other costs on raw materials used in the production of steel, chemicals and aluminum. In effect, he said, China was putting its thumb on the scale and giving Chinese manufacturers an unfair edge. He said that restrictions on exports of bauxite, zinc, yellow phosphorus and other raw goods make it more expensive for manufacturers to produce finished goods and threatened thousands of jobs in industries already rocked by the global recession.

“Trade has to be fair,” Mr. Kirk said in a news conference in Washington. “If you’re going to do business with the United States, you’re going to have to play by the rules.” The United States and European Union filed complaints with the World Trade Organization, the first step in what could be a yearslong process of trying to resolve grievances against China.

6/22/09

guardian.co.uk: Iran overtakes Saudi as China's No.1 crude supplier

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Iran overtakes Saudi as China's No.1 crude supplier

Iran overtook Saudi Arabia in May as China's top crude supplier, Chinese customs data showed on Monday, but traders said it was partly due to a supply cut from the Saudis. Beijing-based trading officials cautioned against reading too much into one month's figures, which they said may have been skewed due to technical problems such as port congestion that pushed back or forth imported cargoes for customs clearance. Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, shipped into China 3.088 million tonnes of crude, or 727,000 barrels per day last month, a rise of 88 percent from a year ago.

The Atlantic: US economy - When Will It Turn?

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US economy - When Will It Turn?

The more important point question Democrats are asking themselves: when will the trend turn? When will Obama be able to argue that he has created jobs -- or a single job? The problem is that the unemployment rate is a big political number, and a rate that exceeds 10.0 -- another artificial level -- is tough. Democrats worry that if the UI rate isn't down substantially by the time voters make up their minds -- roughly, a year from now, mid-summer, 2010, their party will suffer. It's one thing to say that voters don't blame Democrats for the UI rate now -- they don't -- and it's entirely another to presume that voters won't be angrier at the slow pace of progress by this time next year. True, the administration's top economic thinkers, like Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer, projected a much different pathway for the unemployment rate. But so did private forecasters, who are able to quietly revise their forecasts weekly. It's clear that the Obama economic brain trust did not anticipate how bad January and February would be. Then again, few policy-makers, economists or otherwise, did.

If Democrats lose their cool and their patience, they could wind up hurting themselves even more. Democratic panic will turn the economy into a political weapon that Republicans can use against the Democrats.

CBCnews.ca: Burka sign of subservience, not religion, says French President Nicolas Sarkozy

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Burka sign of subservience, not religion, says French President Sarkozy

Burka sign of subservience, not religion, says French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Full-body gowns that are worn by the most conservative Muslim women have no place in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday. Speaking to a joint session of parliament, the French leader said wearing the burka or the niqab isn't about religion, but the subjugation of women. "In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech at the Chateau of Versailles, southwest of Paris. He said the burka — an all-concealing traditional dress, with built-in mesh covering the eyes — is "a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory," he said.

Note EU-Digest: Bravo Mr. Sarkozy. The wearing of a Burka is not required in the Quran. The Burka must therefore be seen as a symbol of women's oppression and radical Islam. As such it should not only be banned in France but on the whole territory of the European Union.

WSJ/EU-Digest: Bildt Faces EU Expansion Hurdles - by Marc Champion

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Bildt Faces EU Expansion Hurdles - by Marc Champion

Expanding the European Union has few bigger fans than Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt. But as Sweden takes over the bloc's rotating presidency for the second half of this year, even he is cautious about what he can do. Mr. Bildt, who spent the 1990s in efforts to resolve the wars of Yugoslavia, says he still believes enlargement remains the EU's most effective foreign policy tool and the key to stabilizing its neighborhood, from the Balkans to the Caucasus.Mr. Bildt remains a committed fan of using the promise of EU expansion to reach 100 million neighbors in Turkey and the Balkans, as well as another 80 million in a new so-called Eastern Partnership that he helped to launch earlier this year, touching countries from Ukraine to Azerbaijan. And he notes that Iceland, hit hard by the financial crisis, could join very quickly indeed if as expected its parliament votes to apply. That, he said, would give the EU a bigger voice in deciding resource and other issues related to the Arctic circle.One thing that won't be on the agenda over the next six months for the first time in a while, says Mr. Bildt, is "fixing" the EU's relations with the U.S., which he describes as "the best in living memory." He noted that the EU and US administration were closely aligned on most of the big foreign policy issues of the day, including Iran, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Note EU-Digest: the EU must start to become more serious at focusing on its own objectives instead of blindly accepting to be a part of the overall US Global strategic interests and plans. This does not, however, have to mean dropping out of the Atlantic partnership, but rather following a more independent course.

Guardian: Britain evacuates families of embassy staff in Iran - by Haroon Siddique

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Britain evacuates families of embassy staff in Iran - by Haroon Siddique

The Foreign Office said today it was evacuating the families of embassy staff in Iran and advised against all non-essential travel to the country after the violent crackdown on street protests following the disputed presidential election. The decision comes after the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday described Britain as the "most treacherous" of Iran's enemies and blamed foreign interference for the unrest in the country. In response, Iran's ambassador to London was summoned to the Foreign Office and told that Khamenei's remarks were unacceptable. Gordon Brown later condemned the "repression" and "brutality" used against the protesters.

UPI: EU may coordinate aid to Iran's protesters

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EU may coordinate aid to Iran's protesters

A European Union-wide proposal to coordinate aid for wounded Iranian demonstrators was expected to be discussed Wednesday in Stockholm, ministers said. Embassies of several EU countries opened their gates to wounded protesters, including Italy, which said it instructed its mission in Tehran to assist "where there is a request or need for help from injured demonstrators," EUobserver reported Monday. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said that the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the Czech charge d'affaires and "his 26 colleagues from the European Union" in Tehran. Through a spokesman, Kohout said the EU diplomats were summoned "and they were not allowed to present their positions."

nrc.nl/Radio Netherlands - Dutch foreign minister renews protest over Iran violence

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Dutch foreign minister renews protest over Iran violence

Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen has lodged a renewed protest with the Iranian chargé d’affaires in The Hague over what he described as excessive violence used against demonstrators in Iran over the weekend. Verhagen reported the move on Sunday evening while responding to the way foreign diplomats have come under attack on Iranian state-run television. Like many other Western countries, the Netherlands last week protested to Iran about the circumstances of its presidential election. Verhagen, who is currently on a tour of Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed his concern both at the way the Iranian election was conducted and at the degree of violence used to suppress demonstrations. He also complained about the obstruction of foreign journalists in Iran, among them Dutch correspondents.

The Canadian Press: France's denounces 'brutal repression' in Iran, rejects accusations of interference - by Angela Charlton

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France's denounces 'brutal repression' in Iran, rejects accusations of interference - by Angela Charlton

France's top diplomat on Sunday condemned the "brutal repression" of dissent by Iranian authorities and rejected accusations of foreign interference in Iran's worst political unrest in 30 years. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iranian officials had summoned the diplomatic corps in Tehran on Sunday and made "unacceptable statements about several foreign leaders. It is not with such insults that the Iranian government will respond to the aspirations of its people," he said. While the U.S. and some other governments have been cautious in their response to Iran's post election protests, France has been critical of Iran's leadership and supportive of the protesters.

NYT - A New Brew - Sarko Black Label - by John Vinocur

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A New Brew - Sarko Black Label - by John Vinocur

The new Nicolas Sarkozy doesn’t wear his Ray-Bans at public appearances anymore. He has upped his cultural aspirations to read Stefan Zweig and Jose Luis Borges. And he has invited over to dinner people like David Lynch, the film director, and Michel Houellebecq, whose novels are hardly associated with beach-books and sun tan oil. There’s something to it, though the actual process looks more like part of a mid-course re-launch by the Élysée Palace of a president with a five-year term. Or Sarko Black Label, a brand extension that would hope to market the original willful and energetic template as more modest, pondered and refined.

The Vancouver Sun: Brazil, Russia, India and China are unlikely economic bedfellows - by Jonathan Manthorpe

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Brazil, Russia, India and China are unlikely economic bedfellows - by Jonathan Manthorpe

A beaming Russian president Dmitry Medvedev played host to not one but two summits of leaders from the countries that some analysts contend are poised to command the international stage if and when the 200-year-old North Atlantic ascendancy splutters to an end. Ekaterinburg, it seems, was the place to be for a glimpse of the future as leaders gathered for the meetings of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and then for the first summit of an economic organization that doesn't really exist and which is the product of the imagination and napkin jottings of Goldman Sachs economist, Jim O'Neill, who in 2001 proposed that by 2050 the current world economic leaders of the G-8 industrialized nations will be overtaken by Brazil, Russia, India and China, now known as the BRIC.While the air hung heavy with pledges of cooperation, it's hard to escape the view that China and Russia in particular are treading divergent paths. China's global influence, investment and responsibilities are growing, at least for the moment, while Russia's are declining. Moscow seems content to peg the country's mood-swings to the value of revenues from its energy exports; one day up, the next day down. No surprise then that the impetus to try to make O'Neill's speculative graphs into a real thing came from Russia. If you can't be a major force in other people's country clubs, form one of your own.

The lack of cohesion or unity of purpose in their economies and political structures is evident in the communique that came out of last week's summit. New depth of meaning was brought to the word "vague" as the final document talked about the need to "advance the reform of international financial institutions." What they seemed to be saying was that change is needed in the deal that has survived since the Second World War by which the World Bank is run by an American appointee and the International Monetary Fund is run by a European.

Market Watch: World Bank warns of deeper global contraction - by Lisa Twaronie

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World Bank warns of deeper global contraction - by Lisa Twaronie

The World Bank predicted today Monday June 22 that the global economy will shrink 2.9% this year, a deeper fall than the 1.7% contraction it predicted in March. It also warned that international capital to developing nations will continue to slow, with flows projected to fall to $363 billion in 2009 from their peak of $1.2 trillion in 2007. Developing countries will grow by 1.2% in 2009, the bank said, down from 5.9% in 2008 and 8.1% in 2007. Excluding China and India, gross domestic product in developing countries is expected to contract 1.6%. The world has entered an era of slower growth that will require tighter and more effective oversight of the financial system, the bank said in a statement.

6/21/09

Mosnews: Russia's Medvedev takes action against pedophiles

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Russia's Medvedev takes action against pedophiles

ussia's President has introduced to parliament a new bill, taking the responsibility for sex crimes against children in Russia to new heights, Itar Tass said Monday. According to Dmitry Medvedev's initiative, rape of a minor should be penalized with eight to fifteen years' imprisonment. At present the prison term for rape of a child ranges between four and ten years. The bill indicates the equality of homosexual and heterosexual rape, and states that offenders of both genders should be punished with equal severity. Medvedev also proposes to reduce the possibility of early parole for pedophiles, a measure he has often made a point of in public speeches. According to the bill he has proposed, a criminal sentenced for sexual offense of a minor can only be released early after serving at least 75 percent of the term. Currently, there are no limits on early parole for child offenders.

Note EU-Digest: Russia is to be complimented for taking action on this issue. Hopefully other European nations who have not yet taken similar action in combating sex crime against children should follow suit.

CBR: Denmark reclaims the first rank in the world e-readiness table

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Denmark reclaims the first rank in the world e-readiness table

Other north European countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway have reaffirmed their places among the top ten e-readiness countries. The US and the UK have seen the fall in their rankings as their business environments have been hit in the past year.

However, the research shows that few developing countries are keeping pace and even outperforming in some areas.

CBS News: U.S. Government debt may rise to 75 percent of gross domestic product by 2011 - by Guy Campanile

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U.S. Government debt may rise to 75 percent of gross domestic product by 2011 - by Guy Campanile

The International Monetary Fund warns that U.S. Government debt may rise to 75 percent of gross domestic product by 2011, nearly twice what it was in 2008. By September 1 out of 10 Americans will be out of work. Preventing a systemic failure due to over leverage based on real estate and credit is absolutely needed. The idea of a consumer protection for financial products is also long overdue.

The reality is there will be a future financial crisis. The when and how is anybody's guess. History has proven time and again that identifying financial risks before they develop into full blown bubbles is a tricky if not impossible business.

BBC NEWS: Europe bank chief warns on debt

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Europe bank chief warns on debt

Governments that have borrowed heavily to fight the economic crisis should not accumulate any more debt, the president of the European Central Bank has said. Jean-Claude Trichet said existing stimulus packages were "sufficient". "There is a moment where you cannot spend more and accumulate more debts. We are at that moment," he said.

6/20/09

The Market Oracle : U.S. Economy Trending Towards an Inflationary Depression

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U.S. Economy Trending Towards an Inflationary Depression

In the US, the privately owned Fed plays the role of our central bank, and it presides over our nefarious banking system, which is a fiat-money, debt-based, European form of fractional reserve banking that once powered the British mercantilist system. All major US inflationary issues and debacles can therefore be squarely placed at the doorsteps of the Fed, and of our Treasury Department, which is little more than a doormat for the Fed, which together with Wall Street, runs a revolving door with the Treasury. In fact, our current Treasury Secretary is the former President of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. So much for checks and balances and avoidance of conflicts of interest. We now have the US Fed increasing total money and credit (M3) at a rate of 18% while our GDP is contracting at a rate of minus 6%. That is a 24% differential, and that means that the amount of goods and services being produced has an ever-growing supply of money chasing after it, money and credit that is growing at a pace that is 24% more than the pace at which goods and services are growing. Based on all the foregoing, we'll give you three guesses as to what the outcome will be somewhere down the road when the Fed's ever-burgeoning money blob starts chasing after a shrinking supply of goods and services.

The world banking system, as we know it is about to slide into history, as did the Oracle at Delphi, which so long ago played central bank and eventually brought tragedy to Greece. The days of our current elitists are numbered. We are not children to be simply dealt with. We may think our republic is democratically free, but it isn’t. It is controlled by a privately owned Federal Reserve just as England is with the Bank of England. The next move by BRIC nations will be to extend their influence throughout Asia and bring an end to American and British meddling in the region. This will be done in part by not recycling dollars – or in fact refusing to use them. No more dollar losses and no more funding for America’s military machine. It means the end of American dominance. There now will be a race to dump dollars.

European Voice.com: EU casts Irish guarantees on Lisbon 'in iron'  - by Judith Crosbie

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EU casts Irish guarantees on Lisbon 'in iron' - by Judith Crosbie

EU leaders satisfy Irish government's concerns with an agreement that would not alter “a dot or a comma” of the EU's reform treaty. Ireland will hold a referendum in early October on the Lisbon treaty after winning “cast-iron legal guarantees” on issues of concern to the Irish electorate, Brian Cowen, the prime minister said today. The deal was brokered following negotiations with the UK, which accepted that Ireland needed a legally binding protocol on tax, ethical issues and neutrality. As requested by Ireland, all 27 member states will ratify the protocol when they approve the next accession treaty, most likely Croatia's.

NYTimes: A Green Coalition Gathers Strength in Europe - by Steven Erlanger

Daniel Cohen Bendit


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A Green Coalition Gathers Strength in Europe - by Steven Erlanger

One of the real victors in this month’s elections for the European Parliament is a 64-year-old former radical, an ebullient Franco-German who has turned his efforts to transform society from revolution to ecology.Behind his articulate, vivid presence and sense of fun, Mr. Cohn-Bendit’s Europe Écologie coalition of European Green parties came in third in French voting for the Parliament, winning 16.28 percent of the vote. It was just behind the squabbling Socialists, who had only 16.48 percent, and ahead of a presumptive presidential candidate, François Bayrou of the centrist Democratic Movement, or Modem.

One reason for the coalition’s success, Mr. Cohn-Bendit said in an interview in his Brussels office, is that it concentrated on European issues and the idea of a better future, instead of turning the vote into a referendum on the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. There was also an element of collaborative fun and joy, he said, evident in the coalition’s campaign videos, which were viewed thousands of times on the Internet. If Mr. Sarkozy campaigned on the idea of working more to earn more, Mr. Cohn-Bendit said, the Green coalition urged, “Work differently for a better life.”

BBC NEWS: Greece to unveil Acropolis museum

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Greece to unveil Acropolis museum

The long-awaited Acropolis Museum in Athens is to be unveiled soon. The modern glass and concrete building, at the foot of the ancient Acropolis, houses sculptures from the golden age of Athenian democracy. The euro 130m ($182m)structure also offers panoramic views of the stone citadel where they came from. Culture minister Antonis Samaras said he hoped it would be the "catalyst" for the return of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum. Some of the sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, originally decorated the Parthenon temple and have been in London since they were sold to the museum in 1817.

NWautos: Toyota leases 150 plug-in vehicles in Europe and Obama plugs his Ford hybrid

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Toyota leases 150 plug-in vehicles in Europe and Obama plugs his Ford hybrid

Toyota plans to lease 150 plug-in electric hybrid vehicles to fleet customers in Europe this year, and a similar program in North America could follow. The cars can be driven for short distances on just electric power before a Prius-like full gasoline/electric hybrid system takes over, Toyota says.

6/19/09

NY Times:The Netherlands - 'Scripture for the Eyes' - At the Museum of Biblical Art, Dutch Printmakers and the Good Book - by Ken Johnsen

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The Netherlands - Scripture for the Eyes' - At the Museum of Biblical Art, Dutch Printmakers and the Good Book - by Ken Johnsen

Just how provocative the Good Book has been can be seen in “Scripture for the Eyes: Bible Illustration in Netherlandish Prints of the 16th Century” at the Museum of Biblical Art. Among the 79 works in this superb show are pieces by some of the biggest names in Western printmaking. Woodcuts and engravings by Lucas van Leyden and Hendrick Goltzius alone would make a visit worthwhile.

While some viewers may be fascinated by the scholarly issues and biblical themes that the exhibition so adroitly frames, the pictorial and narrative excitement will captivate many others.What remains undeniable, though, is the ability of Dutch printmakers to measure the heights and plumb the depths of the European soul.

CBS: Is Iran Heading Toward A Military Coup? - by Abbas Milani

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Is Iran Heading Toward A Military Coup? - by Abbas Milani

The Iranian regime is currently facing one of the greatest challenges of its 30-year history. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei--whose rule has been absolute and whose words have been the law of the land--is facing the most public challenge to his authority. His two decades since succeeding Ayatollah Khomeini have been defined by a tendency to keep his options open, a verbal dexterity that allowed him to skirt tough political positions, and an appearance of impartiality in Iran's fierce factional feuds. His caution has been the key to his success and survival. But Khamenei has thrown this caution to the wind by unabashedly favoring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.The ayatollah failed to recognize the mounting tension over this month's presidential election--what former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani described in a pre-election letter to him as a seething "volcano" of discontent. Even Sobhe-Sadeq, the political organ of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned in a lead editorial that the opposition's use of the color green had become dangerously similar to the kind of "color revolution" that dethroned governments in Ukraine, Lebanon, and Georgia.

If Khamenei wants a crackdown on the Green movement, he will have to turn to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)--a move that brings its own political costs. It is difficult to imagine the IRGC quelling the current protests and then simply turning power over to the clergy. If a political compromise cannot be reached between the regime and the opposition, and the IRGC is used in suppressing the protests, its commanders would likely expect a bigger role in the government. It is even conceivable that faced with irresolution among the clergy, they will act on their own, and establish a military dictatorship that uses Islam as its ideological veneer--similar to Pakistan under Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

BBC NEWS/EU-Digest: Iran has a "complex" political system - with the power in clergy hands - Ahmadinejad heckled coming out of the University today

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How Iran is ruled-a complex political system - with the power in clergy hands - Ahmadinejad heckled coming out of the Teheran University today

The Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appoints the head of the judiciary, six of the members of the powerful Guardian Council, the commanders of all the armed forces, Friday prayer leaders and the head of radio and TV. He also confirms the president's election. The Leader is chosen by the clerics who make up the Assembly of Experts. Periodic tension between the office of the Leader and the office of the president has often been the source of political instability. It increased during former president reformist Mohammad Khatami's term in office - a reflection of the deeper tensions between religious rule and the democratic aspirations of many Iranians.

Note EU-Digest: click on this link to see how Ahmadinejad was heckled when he came out of Teheran University today following the speech by his chief, Iran's "supreme leader", Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

US News and World Report: USA Economy: Who Would Lose Under Obama’s Financial Reforms - by Rick Newman

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USA Economy: Who Would Lose Under Obama’s Financial Reforms - by Rick Newman

President Obama’s ambitious overhaul of the financial regulatory system would create a new layer of consumer protections, expand the Washington regulatory establishment and change the way America’s banks do business. The goal is to provide more stability to the financial system, which would benefit most Americans. But such abrupt change would also cause some casualties. Here’s who stands to lose under Obama’s reforms:Big Money, Overpaid CEOs,Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, S&Ls,Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, Shadow banks, and Consumers. Sure, there will be a lot of new rules designed to protect the US population, but if the government’s got our back, why bother looking out for ourselves? Financial illiteracy has been a major contributor to the economic meltdown, and for some people, more government responsibility will lead to less personal responsibility. Buyer beware, whether the government’s on the case or not.

Spiegel Online: EU Summit: Nomination Dispute Weakens Barroso - by Carsten Volkery

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EU Summit: Nomination Dispute Weakens Barroso - by Carsten Volkery

The EU's 27 leaders unanimously backed Jose Manuel Barroso for a second term as European Commission president on Thursday. However, the European Parliament is threatening to block his appointment and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning against a "cliffhanger that goes on for months." Europe's governments are deeply worried about the powerful movement to block Barroso that has emerged in the parliament. Martin Schulz, the chairman of the Socialist bloc in parliament and a member of Germany's center-left Social Democrats, has warned that Barroso doesn't have the support of the needed majority of members of the parliament (MEPs). Schulz says his bloc was "not willing" to make a decision as soon as July. Meanwhile Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who chairs the Green group in the European Parliament, has already called on the EU Council, the council of ministers from all member states, to drop Barroso.

there are the complaints about Barroso's performance. "His record is poor," says Schulz. Barroso is regarded as a procrastinator, someone who is always running to catch up with the zeitgeist. At first he was an advocate of further liberalization of the markets, but then, as soon as the financial crisis reared its ugly head, he suddenly discovered his social conscience. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to have come up with any ground-breaking ideas during his first years at the head of the Commission. The conservatives need supporters from the other groups in parliament to vote for Barroso because they are still 105 votes shy of a majority.

Huffington Post: The Green Revolution Belongs to the Iranians, Not the United States - by Cynthia Boaz

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The Green Revolution Belongs to the Iranians, Not the United States - by Cynthia Boaz

Do folks really think US agencies -- of whom the Iranian people have every reason to be suspicious given the last 8 years (and beyond) -- are capable of mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people who are ten thousand miles away...and then getting them to continue showing up on the streets, even when they're being shot at? The notion is ridiculous, even ethnocentric in that it presumes that Iranians are so ignorant that they'd turn out in scores to risk their lives just because an American agency suggested it. No, the Green Revolution belongs solely to the Iranians.

The reality is that regardless of political party or ideology, anyone who claims an affinity for democracy as people power owes it to the courageous Iranian people to recognize their resistance as such. To seriously question the Iranians' ownership of their struggle serves the interests of a brutal regime and risks undermining the morale of individuals participating in a true peoples' movement.

Times OnLine: Brown signs up to EU financial rulebook - by David Charter

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Brown signs up to EU financial rulebook - by David Charter

Gordon Brown has signed up to common EU rules for financial supervision but fended off attempts to give new pan-European watchdogs the power to order governments to bail out struggling banks and other bodies. Mr Brown agreed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels to "a single rulebook" of standards for all European financial institutions as a way of removing differences which have caused difficulties in ensuring compliance from cross-border companies. The plans are a core part of the EU's response to the financial crisis to restore confidence and most European leaders want to push ahead quickly with a new two-tier supervisory system under the model proposed by Jacques de Larosiere, former governor of the Bank of France.

Three new European authorities will get binding powers to oversee and investigate the cross-border banking, insurance and pensions, and securities sectors, and to mediate in disputes between member states. Mr Brown also agreed to the creation of another body, the European Systemic Risks Council, which will act as an early warning mechanism for potential bank failure.

BSD: German consortium to bring green energy to Europe

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German consortium to bring green energy to Europe

A consortium of German blue chip companies is to raise funds for a massive photovoltaic project in North Africa that will provide Europe with green energy.Energy companies RWE and Eon as well as Siemens, Deutsche Bank, and reinsurer Munich Re are to meet on 13 July to draw up an agreement on the project. Desertec would see solar power plants built in North Africa in order to harness green energy that could be transported back to Europe. According to the Desertec foundation, around 20 m2 of desert would be enough to meet the individual power demand of one human being day and night, CO2 free. If successful the project could see Europe powered by solar energy within a decade.

6/18/09

The New York Times: In Coverage of Iran, Amateurs Take the Lead - by Brian Stelter

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In Coverage of Iran, Amateurs Take the Lead - by Brian Stelter

As foreign journalists are forced to leave Tehran amid protests, news organizations are looking more and more to the Iranians themselves to provide the news, or at least the pictures. Dozens of videos of the sometimes violent protests by opponents of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have appeared on YouTube and other sites in the days after last Friday’s presidential election. Newspapers and television news networks are supplementing their on-the-ground reporting with the images, with frequent caveats that their authenticity cannot be verified.

The National: Fifty-seven varieties of religious experience

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Fifty-seven varieties of religious experience

The human mind, wrote the French theologian John Calvin, “is a permanent factory of idols”. We are instinctively religious, Calvin believed, but because we are unable to perceive God according to His nature, we invent inferior deities to suit our needs – a “great crowd of gods” that sweeps in wherever human intelligence is at work. For Calvin, the sovereignty of God and the truth of scripture were objective facts. The problem was the human mind, which was variable, error-plagued and hopelessly perplexed.

6/17/09

DW: EU deplores recent events in Iran

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EU deplores recent events in Iran

A spokesman for the European Commission urged Iranian authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations in the country where civil unrest appears to have reached levels unseen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. "The commission is indeed very concerned," said spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio. "We regret the violence and the loss of life and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect the right to demonstrate in a peaceful manner. "We underline the right to protest in a peaceful way, which must be respected by the Iranian security forces," he added.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned a senior European diplomat on Tuesday to complain about the EU's reaction to the fatalities in the capital Tehran.
"Neither the European Union nor other countries are in a position to have the right to make rude and interfering remarks against Iran, especially about our "glorious election"," the Foreign Ministry told the Czech charge d'affairs, Josef Havlas.

6/16/09

Maine trade mission planned to Spain, Germany

EU-Digest

Maine trade mission planned to Spain, Germany

Maine Gov. John Baldacci is planning a trade mission to Spain and Germany that will focus on renewable energy technologies. The governor announced Tuesday that he and Maine business leaders will travel to a major European wind power trade show in Spain as well as to Spain's capital and to Bremen, Germany. Maine International Trade Center President Janine Bisaillon-Cary said Spain and Germany were chosen because they are home to energy companies that have made investments in Maine and the surrounding region. The trip will run from Sept. 19-26.

DAWN.COM: Iran cancels foreign media accreditation

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Iran cancels foreign media accreditation

The Culture Ministry said journalists could continue to work from their offices but that it was canceling press accreditation for all foreign media. ‘No journalist has permission to report or film or take pictures in the city,’ a Culture Ministry official told Reuters. The announcement came after three days of streets protests against Iran’s election results, during which at least seven people were reported to have been killed.

Standard-Examiner Blogs: Political Surf reviews Bill Maher’s anti-religious ‘Religulous’ - by Doug Gibson

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Political Surf reviews Bill Maher’s anti-religious ‘Religulous’ - by by Doug Gibson

Bill Maher’s “Religulous,” a film screed against religion, is very funny and has a lot of truth to it. It is a fact Religion is pretty screwed up. Maher, who hosts an HBO talk show, grabs at a lot of low-hanging fruit to mock the dysfunctional branches of faith. Among his targets is a group, called Answers in Genesis, that opine dinosaurs were horses for early man. Other easy targets including a rapping suicide bombing enthusiast, radical Islamics and Jews, and a dimwitted evangelical U.S. senator. Those are the lazy parts of “Religulous,” where Maher, who is a very intelligent debater, ties his foils into frustrated, rhetorical knots. Of course, he has the advantage — he demands proof. The others rely only on faith. One can’t help but feel that one reason Maher despises faith is that he doesn’t know anyone he would deem as cool who believes. It would have been interesting had Maher tried to examine faith, and its relationship to theology and religious belief. But “Religulous” won’t tread into the serious. It’s designed to mock those who believe in Christ, virgin births, “magic underwear” or take the Bible seriously … you get the picture. It’s manna for the religion of atheism, of which Maher is a high priest … even if he won’t admit to any “faith.” Among his targets is a group, called Answers in Genesis, that opine dinosaurs were horses for early man. Other easy targets including a rapping suicide bombing enthusiast, radical Islamics and Jews, and a dimwitted evangelical U.S. senator. Those are the lazy parts of “Religulous,” where Maher, who is a very intelligent debater, ties his foils into frustrated, rhetorical knots. Of course, he has the advantage — he demands proof. The others rely only on faith. One can’t help but feel that one reason Maher despises faith is that he doesn’t know anyone he would deem as "cool" who believes. It would have been interesting had Maher tried to examine faith, and its relationship to theology and religious belief. But “Religulous” won’t tread into the serious. It’s designed to mock those who believe in Christ, virgin births, “magic underwear” or take the Bible seriously … you get the picture. It’s manna for the religion of atheism, of which Maher is a high priest … even if he won’t admit to any “faith.”

How interesting it would have been had Maher tried to learn why Foster agrees with him and still believes in God. That, apparently, is too much for pop atheism — and Maher — to tackle.

6/15/09

The buffalo bullet: US Right Wing extremism - Hate in a Cocoon of Silence - by Charles Blow

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US Right Wing extremism - Hate in a Cocoon of Silence - by Charles Blow

"An April assessment by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis said pointedly: “Lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” Slowly, but steadily, these bigots are slithering from beneath their rocks, armed and deadly. The most recent was an octogenarian-hater named James von Brunn, who, officials said, opened fire this week in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, killing a security guard."

Bloomberg.com: China Bans Some Renault Models, Citing Safety Issues - by Laurence Frost and Steve Rothwell

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China Bans Some Renault Models, Citing Safety Issues - by Laurence Frost and Steve Rothwell

China, the world’s biggest auto market, banned imports of some models of Renault SA vehicles, saying they don’t meet national safety standards. The French company said the vehicles in question were damaged in transit. Cars exported to China by the French company pose “serious potential safety risks,” the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said today. It said Renault should examine its quality-control measures and take steps to ensure the safety of its products. The Laguna, Scenic and Megane models are affected by the ban, which came into the effect on June 4, the statement said. Renault spokeswoman Gita Roux said China’s concerns arose from problems with the transport and storage of a limited number of cars and that there are no issues connected to manufacturing.

Time Magazine: Why the White House Views Iran's Election as a Diplomatic Coup - by Massimo Calabresi

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When Obama Administration Iran czar Dennis Ross and top U.S. Iran negotiator William Burns were planning the details of the President's outreach to Tehran with senior European diplomats earlier this spring, they discussed a possible nightmare scenario for the June 12 presidential elections in Iran. It was not, however, the prospect that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might win, or even that he might steal the election, as many are alleging he now has, that had them worried. Quite the opposite, it was the possibility that the provocative Iranian President might lose to a moderate challenger.

Ahmadinejad's win may increase Washington's chances of getting tougher sanctions on Iran if they refuse to negotiate, the officials said. Ahmadinejad personifies Iran's unpredictable, dangerous side. He made even more hostile and threatening statements toward Israel and the U.S. during the campaign. And though they dare not say it publicly, Administration officials privately say that the messier and more contentious the post-election period, the more it sends the message to the outside world that even if some Iranians want moderation the hard-liners will not allow it.

Xinhua: EU employment sees steepest drop in first quarter

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EU employment sees steepest drop in first quarter

More than 1.9 million jobs were lost in the first quarter of this year in the 27-nation European Union, the steepest fall on record, official figures showed on Monday.
The number of people hired in the EU dropped by 0.8 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter, the sharpest drop since 1995 when record started, said the EU statistics agency Eurostat. The tally of people employed in the 16-nation euro zone fell by 0.8 percent as well quarter-on-quarter, meaning that 1.2 million jobs were lost. Eurostat said that around 223.8 million people were hired in the EU in the first three month of this year, 146 million of them in the euro zone.

AFP: Britain delivers first Eurofighter jets to Saudi

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Britain delivers first Eurofighter jets to Saudi

Saudi Arabia has taken delivery of two Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Friday, the first of a massive order.

The two fighters were the first out of an order for an eventual 72 that has been valued at up to 25 billion euro's (32.9 billion dollars), including armaments and long-term servicing. Saudi Arabia is the first country outside Europe to have the Typhoon, a multi-role aircraft produced by a BAE Systems-led consortium of European firms.

Seeking Alpha: Top European and U.S. Stocks: Who Will Lead Who?

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Top European and U.S. Stocks: Who Will Lead Who?

While the two economies may take different paths, I wanted to see how the markets in Europe and the US are reacting to the various stimulus programs being implemented. I used the Dow Jones Index as the sample index for the US market and the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 Index for Europe. The DJ Stoxx 50 was not used since it includes the UK and I wanted to exclude the UK as it is facing similar problems to those of the US. Like the Dow Jones index, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 Index is comprised of fifty of the largest companies in continental Europe.

The fact of the matter is that Europe's largest stocks ran much higher than the US's. And after March lows, the European stocks have rebounded and are leading US stocks again. On a 6-months basis, the DJ Euro Stoxx Index is slightly ahead of the Dow Jones Industrial Average as well. Overall these two indices closely track each other.

6/14/09

CSMonitor: Ukraine's other crisis: Weak currency, cheap flights spur 'sex tourism'

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Ukraine's other crisis: Weak currency, cheap flights spur 'sex tourism'

When Tonya came to Kyiv (Kiev) from her small hometown in western Ukraine to study, it was a route out of the dreary provincial life she had grown to hate. She struggled to make ends meet. Her parents, with a combined monthly income of around $200, were hardly in a position to help fund her studies. Tonya feared she would have to give up and return home. But then she found a way to stay: selling her body to foreign men. "My choice was to work as a prostitute or go home," she says, glancing around nervously. "I would never have done it but for the circumstances. I don't want to work as a prostitute, but I need to get an education so I can get a decent job."

A survey last autumn by FEMEN revealed that an astonishing 67.5 percent of women in Kyiv between 17 and 22 had received an offer from foreigners of money for sex. And with the Euro 2012 soccer tournament fast approaching, when thousands of male fans are expected to descend on the country, concerns that the problem is not being taken seriously enough by the authorities or society led FEMEN to take to the streets to draw attention to the problem.A police estimate in February forecast that the sex industry is set to more than double in value, going from $700 million in 2008 to $1.5 billion this year.

ESPN: Soccer - Australia launch 2018 World Cup bid in Canberra

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Australia launch 2018 World Cup bid in Canberra

Australian Football Federation chairman Frank Lowy has called on the Australian public to unite behind the 2018/2002 World Cup bid, which was officially launched at Parliament House in Canberra. Lowy said their support was vital to the success of Australia's bid for either the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup, which he described as "realistic and achievable". "Our aim is to show FIFA and the football world that we are passionate about football and welcoming the world," Lowy said.

Telegraph.co.uk: Church of England attempts to broaden appeal with songs by U2 and prayers for Google - by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

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Church of England attempts to broaden appeal with songs by U2 and prayers for Google - by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Christian services that feature DJs, songs of the Irish band U2 and prayers for the chief executives of Google and Wal-Mart are being promoted by the Church of England. The ideas for alternative-style worship are part of an initiative launched by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to appeal to the younger generation. They are set out in a new book compiled by the Church's Fresh Expressions programme, which aims to boost church attendance with more relevant and exciting services.

One Holy Communion service promoted in the book, called Ancient Faith, Future Mission, begins with the congregation being shown a video clip from the YouTube website about a United Nations anti-poverty campaign. Worshippers are told that "our planet is messed up" and that "things are not right". A psalm is recited in "beat poetry" style to the accompaniment of African Djembe drums, and prayers are said "for the corporate world, for influential CEOs who oversee billion-dollar industries". The prayers go like: "We pray for John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Dr Eric Schmidt of Google Inc, H Lee Scott Jr of Wal-Mart Stores and others who have already made commitments to justice." However, traditionalists have criticised the unorthodox services as "pointless" and "shallow", and have warned that experimenting with Church tradition would do more harm than good.

ESA: MIRAVI - Tracking the globe with ESA's Envisat Meris Image Rapid Visualization

To track the earth from the worlds largest Observation satellite Europe's Envisat click on this link

MIRAVI - Tracking the globe with ESA's Envisat Meris Image Rapid Visualization

Have you ever wanted to track natural events in progress, such as fires, floods and volcanic eruptions, or simply explore the planet through the eyes of a satellite? ESA has created a website, MIRAVI, which gives access to the most recently acquired images from the world’s largest Earth Observation satellite, Envisat.
MIRAVI, short for MERIS Images RApid VIsualisation, tracks Envisat around the globe, generates images from the raw data collected by Envisat’s optical instrument, MERIS, and provides them online within two hours.

AP: BRIC summit watched for signals on dollar

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BRIC summit watched for signals on dollar

When the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China gather for their first full-fledged summit, they will be closely watched for signs of policy shifts that could affect the global role and strength of the U.S. dollar. During the summit Tuesday in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is likely to reprise Russia's call for a new global reserve currency to augment the dollar. The Russian proposal reflects both the Kremlin's push for greater international clout and a concern shared by other so-called BRIC members that soaring U.S. budget deficits could spur inflation and weaken the dollar.

BBC NEWS: Iran reformists held after street clashes

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Iran reformists held after street clashes

Up to 100 members of Iranian reformist groups have been arrested, accused of orchestrating violence after the disputed presidential election result. Backers of defeated reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi were rounded up overnight, reports said, including the brother of ex-President Khatami. Angry crowds took to the streets to protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, in spite of Mr Mousavi's post-election call to avoid violence. He has refused to accept the election result, calling it a "dangerous charade" and alleging wide-scale irregularities.

The European Union and Canada have voiced concern about allegations of irregularities. BBC correspondent John Simpson, in Tehran, says the truth about this election may never be known. But many observers in Iran feel that the final result did not reflect the extraordinary numbers of people who turned out to vote, he added.

Washington Post: Early On, Europe Is Out Front in Overhaul of Global Financial System - by Anthony Faiola

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Early On, Europe Is Out Front in Overhaul of Global Financial System - by Anthony Faiola

Europe is moving rapidly to overhaul the global financial system in the wake of the economic crisis, pushing through new measures and proposing others that could impose significant restrictions on American and other firms based far beyond its borders.The Europeans are now out front, for instance, in setting strict new standards for rating agencies and risk management at firms selling mortgage-backed securities. Europe has also seized the initiative in developing new rules to monitor hedge funds while forging ahead this week with plans to create two new powerful regulatory agencies in Europe, according to analysts and regulators.

Under a draft proposal issued by the European Commission, the ruling body of the 27-member European Union, U.S. hedge funds may have to subject themselves to tight European oversight or be barred from doing business with European clients. The scope of these efforts is generating a measure of friction, with U.S. officials as well as among some Europeans who favor a more cautious approach toward regulation, such as the British. The sense of alarm is even greater among financial firms that fear Washington may ultimately follow the path set by the Europeans -- historically more disposed to regulation than Americans.

Note EU-Digest: At least as a first step this is excellent policy by the EU to avoid future financial disasters as the one we are presently experiencing world-wide.

6/13/09

theage.com.au: Mounting deficits spark US economy jitters

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Mounting deficits spark US economy jitters

Gaping US trade and budget deficits and a weak auction of government debt that pushed interest rates higher pointed to a bumpy road to recovery for the world's largest economy on Wednesday. A Federal Reserve report noting businesses see some signs of moderation in the contraction, even though conditions were weak or deteriorated further in May, failed to ease anxiety about the economy. Instead, financial markets found new reasons to worry that massive government spending and Fed cash infusions will lead to dangerous inflation and undercut any fledgling rebound.

Note EU-Digest: European Union countries in March rejected calls by U.S. officials and European trade unions to increase spending further to boost growth. Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Britain and the United States over the amount they're spending on stimulus programs. When talking about root causes of the economic crises everybody agrees that the problems in U.S. economy has played the biggest role in causing the crises,so it seems somewhat illogical for the EU to listen or to copy the US remedies to solving the financial crises.

European Voice: A new balance of power emerges  - by Peter S. Rashish


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A new balance of power emerges - by Peter S. Rashish

The European Parliament elections suggest that a power shift is under way in the European Union. A new triumvirate consisting of Germany, France, and Poland may be emerging; a triumvirate that will keep Berlin in the lead, increase central and eastern Europe's clout and also offer Paris the opportunity to play the role of honest broker. Those forming the US's developing strategy for transatlantic engagement should take note. It is clear that the incumbent parties in Germany, France and especially Poland, all of whom are members of the centre-right European People's Party, were the big winners. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU-CSU won 42 seats, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP took 29 seats. In both countries, the left-of-centre opposition suffered defeats of historic proportions. But the most impressive victory was scored by Civic Platform, the party of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, which garnered 44% of the vote and 25 seats. Poland – one of the central and eastern European countries best weathering the economic crisis – is going to try to make its voice heard.

While US President Barack Obama has now made two visits to Europe since his inauguration and the tone of transatlantic relations has improved, it appears that his administration's strategy for engagement with the European Union is still evolving. In two policy areas that would benefit from close US-EU co-operation – energy security and the post-crisis economic agenda – Washington should build in an approach that takes account of this emerging EU balance of power.

NYTimes: Europe Cool to Microsoft’s Offer on Internet Explorer - By Kevin O'Brien

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Europe Cool to Microsoft’s Offer on Internet Explorer - By Kevin O'Brien

European regulators, wary of repeating an earlier mistake, signaled this week that Microsoft’s offer to sell a browser less Windows system on the Continent did not go far enough. The decision has left some antitrust lawyers in Brussels scratching their heads. “Microsoft is offering to sell Windows in Europe without their own browser — you would think this is what the commission wants,” said Alec Burnside, a competition lawyer at Linklaters in Brussels. “You would expect them to say ‘Thank you’ and close the case.”

Note EU-Digest: the EU must not close the case, Microsoft continues to force-feed all kinds of "goodies" into the consumers Microsoft Windows computer system by means of its so called "updates", without providing very specific information on what the consumer is "updating".

6/12/09

Islamic Republic News Agency: Primary results say Ahmadinejad is winner of elections in Iran

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Primary results say Ahmadinejad is winner of elections in Iran

Primary results of the 10th Presidential Elections show that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has got the majority of the votes. According to the head of Elections Headquarters Kamran Daneshjoo, Ahmadinejad has recieved 69.04 percent of the counted votes until 23:50 hours local time. Daneshjoo said Mir Hossein Mossavi has got 28.42 percent, Mohsen Rezaee 1.62 percent and Mehdi Karrobi 0.9 percent of the votes.

Fox Forum: America's economic power on the Global Stage Waning - by Mallory Factor

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America's economic power on the Global Stage Waning - by Mallory Factor

The global stage may appear complex, but there are really just two kinds of players: creditor nations and debtor nations. Today, autocratic oil-rich Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and resource-rich states such as China and Russia are developing huge holdings in Western currency, debt, and industries, while democratic Western governments slip deeper and deeper into debt. Though these countries are not richer than the United States or other Western nations, they are now the creditors of those nations. The power is shifting. A new relationship is emerging, one that no longer favors the West. The West’s poor fiscal discipline and failed economic policies have allowed this shift to happen. The economic power of these rising nations began with their central banks purchasing excess reserves of dollars and duros and, later, U.S. and European debt. More recently, many countries have established new financial vehicles called Sovereign Wealth Funds to make direct investments in global companies and industries, thereby extending their nation’s financial influence. Guided by the best and brightest from Wall Street and making more and more sophisticated investments in our economy, these foreign governments are aiming for greater returns, both economic and political, from their investments.

Given their growing economic might, the new “creditor nations” will have the power to further their geopolitical ambitions by using a weapon of international diplomacy and warfare that hasn’t been seen in centuries: economic statecraft. In the emerging world order, global dominance will not be decided only by armies and aircraft, but by greenbacks and euros, rubles and renminbi as well. And the US can no longer simply impose their views on the world. Creditor nations are now projecting power with their economic might — and in new and innovative ways.

EUBusiness: EU, US 'preparing WTO action against China'

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EU, US 'preparing WTO action against China'

The European Union and the United States are preparing to launch joint WTO action against China over Chinese restrictions on exporting raw materials, an EU source said on Thursday. "The European Union is currently getting something ready with the United States," the source said on condition of anonymity. Brussels and Washington aimed to formally seek consultations on June 22, the first step in opening a case before the World Trade Organization. The source said the move concerned about 20 raw materials that resource-hungry China was restricting its companies from exporting in breach of its commitments when it joined the WTO in 2001. The materials include tungsten, copper, bauxite, antimony, yellow phosporous, magnesium carbonate, molybdenum, rare earths and indium.

Setimes.com: Greece moves to curb illegal immigration

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Greece moves to curb illegal immigration

The Greek government decided on Thursday (June 11th) that trafficking illegal immigrants will be considered a crime. At a session chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the cabinet agreed to establish special detention centers to house illegal immigrants for up to a year, rather than the current three-month limit. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos says Karamanlis will seek discussion regarding the matter at the EU summit next week. His main requests will be in two-fold -- agreements with third countries for the repatriation of illegal immigrants, and obliging countries that have already signed such agreements to observe them. The opposition Communist Party of Greece compares the proposed new centres to "concentration camps".

Cnet News: Alternative Energy: First floating wind turbine buoyed off Norway - by Martin LaMonica


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Alternative Energy:: First floating wind turbine buoyed off Norway - by Martin LaMonica

So far development of offshore wind farms has been restricted to places where turbines can be attached to the sea bed. But earlier this week, Siemens and energy company StatoilHydro installed what they call the first large-scale floating turbine. The installation is off the coast of Norway, and testing is expected to last for two years. The Hywind turbine will still have a ballast that is tied to the sea floor with cables. Wires will transfer the electricity produced to the mainland grid starting in July.

If successful, the project could open up offshore wind to countries that don't have relatively shallow waters of 100 feet to 165 feet off their coasts. The Hywind is suitable for depths of about 400 feet to more than 2,200 feet. "Hywind could open...new opportunities for exploitation of offshore wind power, as the turbines could be placed much more freely than before," Henrik Stiesdal, chief technology of the Siemens' Wind Power business unit, said in a statement. The turbine in Norway will be 7.4 miles offshore where the water is 721 feet deep. It will be utility-size turbine, with a hub height of about 100 feet, capable of generating 2.3 megawatts of electricity.