Advertise On EU-Digest

ADVERTISE ON EU-DIGEST - Please include your URL/Logo information with payment.

7/31/09

M&C: Banking Industry - US banks still paid huge bonuses while getting government money

"Business as usual"


For the complete report from Monsters and Critics click on this link

US banks still paid huge bonuses while getting government money

Several banks that received US government assistance paid out billions of dollars in bonuses of 1 million dollar or more per employee, according to a report released Thursday by the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo's office said that even after the sub-prime mortgage crisis started emerging in 2007 and declined into the worst recession since the 1930s, 'compensation and benefits stayed at bull-market levels even though bank performance plummeted.' Two of the first recipients of US government assistance, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, which suffered losses of more than 27 billion dollars each in 2008, paid out more than 5.3 billion dollars and 3.6 billion dollars respectively, the Cuomo report said.

Even though the payment of these huge bonuses has provoked public outrage among taxpayers angry over the frivolous expenditure of taxpayers' money, not much has been done by the US Government to correct these practices. In Europe some EU member states did put legislation on the books to stop these activities, but overall the result there to curb these activities have also been unsatisfactory.

motoring.co.za - Britain - Fiat lands monster fleet sale

For the complete report from motoring.co.za click on this link

Britain-Fiat lands monster fleet sale

Fiat UK is to supply a world-famous driving school with a fleet of Fiat 500's over the next four years - 14 000 of them! - in the middle of the biggest slump in car sales history. Fiat managing director Andrew Humberstone said Fiat was been keen to target a youthful customer profile, starting with BSM's learner drivers, about 130 000 of whom sign up each year. He said: "We know that about 70 percent of all new drivers buy the brand of car they learned to drive in, so our deal with BSM includes a special offer for learner drivers who want to buy a new Fiat once they've passed their test.

theeagle.com: Kravitz draws 6,000 for Bosnia concert - by Irena Knezevic

Lenny Kravitz in Kosovo


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

Kravitz draws 6,000 for Bosnia concert - by Irena Knezevic

Lenny Kravitz's concert in Bosnia offered a rare glimpse of international glamour in a nation still struggling with the aftermath of a devastating ethnic war. The rock star thanked his audience in the former Yugoslav republic Thursday for shelling out $21 for the cheap seats, a weighty sum in a country with 40 percent unemployment and an average salary of about $570 a month. "I love and respect you for that," he told the 6,000 fans who gathered at his two-hour show in the Bosnian Serb city of Banja Luka, where he played such hits as American Woman and Mama Said. He also played Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, in tribute to the late superstar.

INO.com News - EU Approves EUR100 Mln Budget Support For Serbia

For the complete report from INO.com News click on this link

EU Approves EUR100 Mln Budget Support For Serbia

Friday, the European Commission approved EUR100 million to Serbia as general budget support to help with the stabilization of the country and ease the economic and social consequences of the crisis.The Commission said Serbia's budget deficit has been growing rapidly, due to the current crisis. Therefore, a programme for macro economic stability supported by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank was established. The European Commission budget support will complement this initiative. The Commission also approved EUR 85 million for the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. The EUR 85 million grant is part of the overall Crisis Response Package for the region that should total EUR 150 million in Commission grants and EUR 600 million in loans from partner International Financial Institutions, such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

USAToday: In Europe, backpackers go back to basics at organic farms - by Jeannie Nuss

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

In Europe, backpackers go back to basics at organic farms - by Jeannie Nuss

Backpackers pining for European adventure have discovered life on the farm, shoveling manure, feeding pigs and making butter as a recession-beating way to sate their wanderlust. Their ticket to an earthy taste of the Old Continent is an innovative website that connects travelers with a network of organic farms stretching from Portugal to Turkey and around the world.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization founded in Britain, has been around since 1971 but has lured many more volunteer farmhands in recent years as hard economic times forced people young and not so young to seek a cheap way to take a European vacation. For a few hours of work a day — other chores include milking goats, collecting honey and making compost — volunteers get a place to stay, fresh food to eat and a bargain. Recent graduates and college students like Smith and Mansfield make up a significant portion of WWOOF's volunteers, although farmhands come from walks of life as varied as the chores they do, said Chemi Pena, spokesman for WWOOF in Spain. Julie Bateman, a mother of two and slow food advocate, packed up her 10- and 13-year-old children and left her home in Charleston, S.C., for a volunteer farming stint in Italy this summer. "WWOOFing with the two children is certainly a twist on the normal travel and WWOOFing in general," said Bateman, 42. For many volunteers, WWOOF is creating a class of green-thumbed do-gooders, more conscious of their carbon footprints.

Reuters/AlertNet - Turkey reports first 'smoking-ban murder'

For the complete report Reuters/AlertNet click on this link

Turkey reports first 'smoking-ban murder'

A restaurant owner in southwest Turkey was shot dead after he tried to prevent his customers from smoking to comply with a new law on the use of tobacco indoors, Hurriyet daily said on Thursday. A fight broke out after Hidir Karayigit, 46, ordered a group of customers to extinguish their cigarettes when they began smoking at his "meyhane," a traditional restaurant that serves alcohol, in the town of Saruhanli, Hurriyet said. One of the customers shot Karayigit four times after he took away the group's cigarettes, said witness Hamza Havutcu, Karayigit's business partner who was also shot and wounded.

Turkey's government on July 19 introduced a nationwide ban on indoor smoking, including bars and restaurants, despite the fact that half of Turks aged between the ages of 15 and 49 smoke; one of the highest rates in the world.

BusinessDay: US economy - Obama braces US for bad economic figures

For the complete report from BusinessDay click on this link

US economy - Obama braces US for bad economic figures

US President Barack Obama braced the country for more bad economic news on Thursday, saying second-quarter GDP figures would show the economy contracted and job losses were still a "huge" problem. Obama, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after a meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said the US credit and banking systems had settled down - a sign the economy had stepped away from a dangerous ledge. Obama said he had not seen the GDP figures, which are to be released today, but he referred to consensus by economists that the US economy had seen a "significant slowing down of the contraction over the last several months."

Russia invests euro 250 mln in European X-ray multi-nation laser project

EU-Digest

Russia invests euro 250 mln in European X-ray multi-nation laser project

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a government order agreeing for Russia's participation in a advanced European laser research project which will be conducted in Germany.Russia will provide 11,000.00 mln RUB (euro 250 mln) towards the construction of a high tech research facility in Hamburg, providing scientists the opportunity to obtain additional insights into molecules and nano materials up to and beyond the atomic level. Sergei Ivanov, Russia's deputy prime minister said about the project: "The facility in Germany will not only carry out fundamental research, but also conduct applied technology experiments."

The European XFEL X-ray laser will generate high-energy short-wave X-rays to take snapshots of chemical processes at molecular level, enabling scientists to record and analyze chemical reactions, and conduct holographic experiments at the atomic level. So far, 12 European countries including France, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia the , as well as China, have agreed to participate in the project, at an investment of over 1 billion euro's.

rian.ru: Hotbeds of separatism in modern Europe

For the complete report from RIA Novosti click on this link

Hotbeds of separatism in modern Europe

"Today, Europe is the venue of both integration and separatist processes. Experts have calculated that in the 21st century more than 10 new states may emerge in Europe. Basque Country is the most traditional example of European separatism. In Spain, about two million Basques live in three provinces of what is called Basque Country. It has broader powers than other Spanish regions; the living standards are above the average; and Basque is recognized as an official language. But despite this devolution deal, the advocates of secession from Spain (to be merged with the Basque-populated part of France) are not going to stop at that.

Other countries in Europe with strong separatist movements include: France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Britain, Denmark, Serbia, Romania, Kosovo and even tranquil Switzerland has its separatists - "Front for the Liberation of the Jura".

iPodNN: The Netherlands: iPhone 3G catches fire, burns car seat

For the complete report from iPodNN click on this link

The Netherlands: iPhone 3G catches fire, burns car seat

Pieter, the owner of the iPhone , a man living in the Dutch city of Leiden, reportedly returned to his car after leaving it unattended for a few minutes and discovered that his iPhone had caught on fire and completely destroyed his passenger’s seat. When he left the iPhone it was sitting inside a Belkin hard-case where it had gone into standby mode and was not connected to a car charger. After the incident occurred Pieter contacted both Apple, and the exclusive iPhone carrier in the Netherlands T-Mobile, but both companies have refused to take responsibility over the device catching fire.

This is only one of the many times an Apple mobile device has been reported to have caught on fire. After an incident in November 2008 that resulted in a burn caused by an iPod shuffle, a company by the name of KIRO 7 began an investigation which discovered over 800 pages covering 15 different fires spanning from 2005 to 2008. In those cases Apple seemed to take the same approach by allegedly feigning ignorance when contacted by customers.

EurActiv.com - Investors view Europe as short-term safe haven - China slips to third place

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

Investors view Europe as short-term safe haven - China slips to third place

International investors view Western Europe as a familiar and reliable region in which to invest, but Eastern and Central Europe is considered a better medium-term prospect, according to a new report by consultants Ernst & Young. The investment community views Europe as more stable and relatively safer than the rapidly developing BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), but the long-term trend suggests global capital projects will continue to shift from west to east and from north to south.

Western as well as Central and Eastern Europe are neck-and-neck as the "safest" regions, and China, which last year was in pole position as the most attractive region in which to establish operations, has slipped to third place. North America, India, Russia and Brazil are the next most attractive regions. However, when it comes to the most attractive regions for the next three years, Western Europe slips to fifth place. Top of the table is Central and Eastern Europe, followed by China, India and Russia. Looking at the bigger picture, investors expect the next Google or Microsoft to come from Shanghai or Mumbai rather than Paris or Berlin. China and India are best positioned to return to double-digit growth, according to the report, and China was rated second-highest among all regions for its ability to address the crisis.

7/30/09

Reuters AlertNet - Airbus urges sensor switch after crash

For the complete report from Reuters AlertNet click on this link

Airbus urges sensor switch after crash

Airbus said on Thursday it was urging airlines to switch most speed sensors on about 200 jetliners to U.S.-made parts in the wake of the Atlantic jet disaster, anticipating a European safety order. The move affects Airbus A330 or A340 planes fitted with sensors manufactured by France's Thales, like the Air France A330 passenger jet which crashed en route from Brazil to Paris on June 1, killing all 228 people on board. Airlines are being urged to switch at least two thirds of the sensors -- known as pitot probes -- on each plane to parts supplied by U.S. aerospace company Goodrich, which already supplies most of the 1,000-strong A330/A340 fleet. Confirmation of the switch came after Reuters reported that European safety authorities were drawing up proposals to make such a change compulsory in the wake of the disaster.

The Netherlands: Survey Shows Dutch Population In The Dark About Government Measures To Combat Economic Crises

EU-Digest

The Netherlands: Survey Shows Dutch Population In The Dark About Government Measures To Combat Economic Crises

The Netherlands Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) reported that based on discussions it has had with representatives from several sectors of the Dutch populace, the majority of them said they feel the Dutch Government has provided very little information about the actual measures taken by them to combat the economic crises. The report shows that overall opinion seems to be that the Government seems to have lost control over the situation and is postponing taking action to they could think of taken or proposed by the Government. The majority of the people interviewed also felt that the bailout of the banks by the Government did not benefit the consumer and they were critical about the high salaries and bonuses still being paid to people in the private and financial sectors.

When asked where they would cut costs 80% of the people interviewed said they would cut costs in foreign aid programs, while 76 % said the would cut cost from the military budget. On the other hand 82 % said they would increase the budget for health care. The Netherlands has a national health care system which is considered among some of the best in the world, but some of the home care programs require more funding to provide extended care.

Economist: Spain's happy-go-lucky government: When good politics is bad economics

For the complete report from The Economist click on this link

Spain's happy-go-lucky government: When good politics is bad economics

Luis Rodríguez Zapatero stands out among the small band of centre-left heads of government in Europe because he has managed to keep his head more or less above the political waters (see article). Next door in Portugal, the socialist government looks headed for defeat in an election in September; so does Britain’s Labour government next year. But Mr Zapatero’s Socialist party has slipped only slightly behind the opposition People’s Party, according to an opinion poll this week. Even if Mr Zapatero himself is less popular than he was, he still bests Mariano Rajoy, the plodding opposition leader. That is despite an unemployment rate that has shot up to 19%, double the average in the euro area.

Mr Zapatero seems to be counting on inertia to pull his country out of its slump, allowing him to win a third term in 2012. He will be lucky to get away with it. Even if he does, it is a formula for the Italianisation of Spain. Put off the pain of reform now—and recovery will take longer. As Spaniards head for la playa, it is time their government told them so.

VDARE.com: Statistical Deceptions - by Paul Craig Roberts

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

Statistical Deceptions - by Paul Craig Roberts

Currently, Wall Street, the White House, and the media are hyping a new sign of economic recovery--"surging" June home sales. John Williams at shadowstats.com predicted this latest reporting deception. Here is the way Williams explains how statistics can produce false signs of recovery. The economy has been contracting for so long that a plateauing of the falloff in home sales compared to the previous time period’s more rapid contraction can appear like a gain. The Census Bureau itself notes that the reported 11% increase in June home sales might be illusory. The reporting agency says that the gain is not statistically meaningful at a 90% confidence interval and that "the Census Bureau does not have sufficient statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero."[PDF] Williams explains other data distortions likely to create false hopes and lead to investment losses. Financial stresses from the current state of the economy have changed behavior. This means that normal seasonal adjustments to statistical data can result in misleading information.

For example, the recent decline that was reported in seasonally-adjusted new unemployment claims was a result of the normal adjustments for the retooling of auto lines that did not, in fact, take place to the normal extent due to the bankruptcies and uncertainties. Adding in seasonal adjustments that did not in fact take place artificially reduced the unemployment claims. Consumer confidence typically is swayed by "good news" hype. The drops in the Conference Board’s and the University of Michigan’s measures of consumer confidence in July suggest that Americans are becoming inured to recovery hype and are realizing that the government and the media lie about the economy just as they lie about everything else.

Asia Sentinel - China Pops the Bubble? - the onus is on the US consumer

For the complete report from the Asia Sentinel click on this link

China Pops the Bubble? - the onus is on the US consumer

The panic flight of investors from mainland and Hong Kong stock markets on Wednesday is for good reason. The possibility that Beijing might turn off the massive liquidity spigot that has fueled the equity market is coming none too soon. China's credit explosion has not just delivered another stock market bubble but a commodity one as well. The stock blowout was well illustrated by the launch of Sichuan Expressway "A" shares, which immediately rose 200 percent over the issue price and now are at a huge premium over their Hong Kong-quoted equivalent. China's stocks have so far gained almost 90 percent this year. But how much of this is sustainable? For sure, final demand in China has been picking up, led by government directed capital investment. There is clearly some rebound in stocks of raw materials which were allowed to run down as a result of financial sector disruption and overall economic uncertainty in late 2008. Some import figures are not necessarily good indicators – coal for example as China is largely self-sufficient. Some of the buying may be being encouraged by the government to reduce the size of China's trade surplus. As for China, investment spending will account for 75 percent or so of the 8 percent claimed growth. That will make China's economy even more unbalanced than it was before the crisis and raises huge question marks over the balance sheets of its banks. Expansion in their equity base has fallen far behind loan growth and threatens huge problems if the loans go sour.

The Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission is clearly worried, urging banks to lend for real investment not speculation but more than words are needed to restrain the lending frenzy. There is all too little sign of the changes that China needs if the underlying global imbalance problems are to be resolved: a shift from investment to consumption-driven growth in China, and a sharp decline in its external surplus. Given the reluctance of China to allow its exchange rate to appreciate, the onus is on the US consumer to stop consuming. Or on the US to promote further decline in the dollar which would infuriate China and ratchet up tensions between China, determined to keep its currency linked to the US, and other countries, notably those in Europe.

TVNZ: Poland - Climate change clouds fate of last primeval forest in Europe

For the complete report from TVNZ click on this link

Poland - Climate change clouds fate of last primeval forest in Europe

Poland - Climate change clouds fate of last primeval forest in Europe

Europe's last ancient forest, home to its largest herd of bison, faces an uncertain future because of climate change, but residents worry that tougher conservation efforts will damage the local economy. The 150,000-hectare (380,000-acre) Bialowieza Primeval Forest, which straddles the border between Poland and Belarus, is one of the largest unpopulated woodlands remaining in Europe. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. On the Polish side of the border, residents oppose plans to extend the protected zone of this unique habitat, which is under threat from rising temperatures and declining rainfall.

Encouraged by international conservation agencies, Warsaw wants to enlarge the area's national park, which occupies less than a fifth of the Polish part of the forest.

NYT: E.U. Report Finds Bulgaria and Romania Beset With Problems - by Stephen Castle

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

E.U. Report Finds Bulgaria and Romania Beset With Problems - by Stephen Castle

Thirty months after joining the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania are still plagued by widespread fraud, corruption and organized crime, according to a report published Wednesday that also questions the will of political leaders to deliver the necessary reforms. The hard-hitting judgment from the European Commission listed an array of deficiencies, citing inadequate measures to fight money-laundering, vote-buying, fraud and killings linked to organized crime. The report said Bulgaria had made some progress in restructuring its criminal prosecution service and recording more convictions over all. It suggests that in other respects, however, not much has improved since 2008 when the commission issued its last stern warning. The slow pace of change in Bulgaria and the lack of convictions in high-profile corruption cases have served as a potent example of the problems of bringing fragile ex-Communist nations into the European mainstream.

“The capacity of enforcement authorities to deal with high-level corruption,” the report said, “has not increased on a general scale over the last 12 months.” Note EU-Digest: It is high time for the Commission to issue some ultimatums in order to get some action. If not, membership obligations in the EU will not be taken seriously.

The Norway Post - Embassy staff threatened

For the complete report fromthe The Norway Post click on this link

Embassy staff threatened

Members of the staff at the Norwegian Embassy in Morocco have received serious threats in connection with a difficult child custody case, in which the father allegedly kidnapped his two children. The man is charged with kidnapping and bringing his two children, aged 13 and 16 from Norway to Rabat in Morocco, where they have been kept for two-and-a-half years. Ten days ago the children escaped and found their way to the Norwegian Embassy in Rabat, and stayed there for several days. During this time the father tried to contact the children, and made serious threats against embassy staff members. The children eventually left the embassy and were met by their mother who managed to bring them back to Norway.

Note EU-Digest: Even though Norway is not a member of the EU this issue is also one which has plagued several other countries in the EU and should be reviewed at the highest political EU level.

BBC NEWS: Sarkozy insists health is 'fine'

For the complete report from BBC NEWS click on this link

Sarkozy insists health is 'fine'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is back at work and has declared his "health is good" after he collapsed while jogging on Sunday. His often frenetic schedule has earned him the nickname the "hyper-president". Following his release from hospital on Monday he admitted he needed to scale down on activities in the coming weeks.

Tech Buzz: 35+ Amazing Softwares That Are Free

For the complete report from Tech Buzz click on this link

35+ Amazing Soft wares That Are Free

Many good soft wares are either too costly or simply unaffordable, but that does not mean every good software out there requires you to shell out absurd amounts of money. There are 100s and 1000s of soft wares that are completely free and perform as good as if not better than their paid counterparts.

To view the soft wares list and todownload click on this link.

7/29/09

Earth Times: Iceland, Georgia in focus as EU foreign ministers meet

For the complete report from the Earth Times click on this link

Iceland, Georgia in focus as EU foreign ministers meet

European Union attempts to stabilize Georgia and Iceland's bid to join the bloc were set to be the focus of attention on Monday as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels. The EU has kept a ceasefire monitoring mission of some 200 unarmed men in Georgia since the country's war with its Russian-backed breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and foreign ministers are set to extend that mission until September 2010, diplomats said ahead of the meeting. Ministers are also expected to ask the EU's executive, the European Commission, to carry out an in-depth analysis of Iceland's readiness to join the bloc, after the island state applied for membership on Thursday.

Economic Times: China remains world's top executioner

For the complete report from The Economic Times click on this link

China remains world's top executioner

The number of prisoners put to death worldwide decreased in 2008, a human rights group said on Wednesday, adding that China retained its position as the world's top executioner.The report said China accounted for at least 5,000 executions, or 87.3 percent of the total, the same estimate as last year. That estimate is far greater that on given earlier this year by Amnesty International, an international human rights group. Amnesty said China put at least 1,718 people to death in 2008. Hands Off Cain said Iran executed at least 346 people last year, down from 355 in 2007; Saudi Arabia put 102 people to death, while in 2007 it accounted for 166 executions. As of June 30, the number of executions in the two countries included four minors in Iran and three in Saudi Arabia, in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the report said.

The Rome-based group also said a large number of executions were based on terrorism charges in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran and Iraq. China also ties repression against Tibetans and Uighurs, a Muslim minority in the country's restive far western region of Xinjiang, as part of the war on terrorism, it said. The United States executed 37 people, five fewer than 2007, continuing a downward trend in the country since 1999, when the number of executions peaked at 98

Exit poll: Pro-Europe parties win Moldova election

EU-Digest

Pro-Europe parties win Moldova election

(AP)A leading exit poll predicted that pro-Europe parties will win enough combined votes to defeat Moldova's ruling Communist Party in national elections Wednesday — raising the likelihood that the impoverished ex-Soviet republic will move closer to the West. The poll by the Institute for Public Politics projected that four center-right opposition parties won 54.9 percent of the vote in parliamentary balloting widely seen as a referendum on whether to linger in Russia's loose orbit or edge toward the European Union. It said President Vladimir Voronin's Communists — who have held power since 2001 — were trailing with 40.5 percent.

MarketWatch: Europe defense spending set to fall in '09

For the complete report from MarketWatch click on this link

Europe defense spending set to fall in '09

Defense spending among European nations is projected to fall this year because of the financial downturn before rebounding in 2010, according to a Tuesday report from Jane's Industrial Quarterly. For 2009, Europe will spend 1.3%, or roughly $4 billion less on weapons and armaments compared to a year ago, ringing up $302.6 billion in sales, Jane's said. Spending should then bounce back in 2010, rising 7.8% to $326 billion, the research firm said. "Tough times lie ahead for Europe's defense industries, however, as procurement budgets are expected to decrease by 4% in 2009 to $52.89 billion," Jane's said. "This is due to shifting national priorities towards preserving jobs and maintaining current capabilities at the expense of investment in new programs."

Alternet./EU-Digest: US Politics : Corporate Media, Sellouts in Congress and Industry Bigs Have Hijacked the Health Care Debate - by Joshua Holland

For the complete report from AlterNet click on this link

US Politics : Corporate Media, Sellouts in Congress and Industry Bigs Have Hijacked the Health Care Debate - by Joshua Holland

"If you can frame the terms of a debate, you've gone a long way towards winning it before you've begun. In the US, tragically, Republicans, the health care industry and business-friendly Blue Dog Democrats have largely been able to do exactly that, with a substantial assist from the corporate-owned media. They’ve successfully focused the health care debate on the short-term costs to the federal government’s bottom line, obscuring the potential impact that a meaningful realignment of the health care system would have on the economy as a whole. In so doing, opponents of reform have hoodwinked much of the public into believing that investments in America’s national health care system will wind up costing individuals more than they’d gain from the effort.

In fact, they’ve done such a good job that much of the discourse has revolved around what is arguably one of the least relevant aspects of the proposals being debated in Congress: whether they “cost too much” or are “deficit neutral” in terms of their impact on the federal budget over the next 10 years.

Note EU-Digest: If the health care debate does not turn out in favor of the Obama Administration, it will not only demonstrate the overwhelming strength Corporate America has over the US political establishmen, but also be an indication that the Democratic majority in the Congress and Senate can be expected to crumble in the next Congressional elections.

7/28/09

Daily Markets: The NEW US ( World?) Economy - Truly A Joke - by David Spurr

For the complete report from Daily Markets click on this link

The NEW US (World) Economy - Truly A Joke - by David Spurr

The US economy has officially involved into a farce. It’s a joke. It’s surreal. Everyday CNBC talks about endless bailouts of private businesses. Banks are insolvent. There is no doubt about it. They would all have failed had it not been for the TARP money and the endless expansion of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Money managers try to define rational suggestions for asset values. The chatter continues. Bottoms are called. Bottoms are broken. Markets gyrate each day, but make no real forward progress. The days of BUY and HOLD are dead on arrival. You can no longer survive in the “New US Economy” unless you have a trader’s mentality.

The government is now so deeply involved in the calculation of asset values, that the “free market” as we knew it, prior to 1987 is dead. This is now a market that is manipulated and controlled by the US Government.

Numbers printed on financial statements are about as worthwhile as toilet paper."

United States goes for offshore wind power - by Scott Malone

EU-Digest

United States goes for offshore wind power - by Scott Malone

(Reuters) The Cape Cod resort area, famous for sandy beaches and centuries-old fishing villages, could in the next few years claim a new title of home to the United States' first offshore wind farm. The United States has experienced a surge in investment in wind power over the past four years, more than tripling its ability to turn wind into electricity. But construction has been entirely on land and largely in America's rural midsection -- leaving open the costly challenge of how to transmit power to the densely populated coasts where it is most needed. That could be changing. Developers have proposed wind farms off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Jersey to meet the electricity needs of the East Coast.

Generation X Finance: The Top 5 Ways to Become a Millionaire – How to Become a Millionaire - by Jeremy

For the complete report from Generation X Finance to become a millionaire click on this link

The Top 5 Ways to Become a Millionaire – How to Become a Millionaire - by Jeremy

Becoming a millionaire isn’t all that difficult and there are countless ways to achieve that milestone. Some people do it through real estate, others start their own business, while some simply get lucky by winning the lottery or winning big on a game show. What is even more interesting is that you don’t have to be wealthy to begin with nor do you have to earn six figures to reach this goal.

Renewable Energy World.com: Solar Power - EDFEN & First Solar To Build 100-MW Solar Manufacturing Plant in France

For the complete report from Renewable Energy World.com click on this link

Solar Power - EDFEN & First Solar To Build 100-MW Solar Manufacturing Plant in France

EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDFEN) and First Solar Inc. have announced a venture to build France's largest solar panel manufacturing plant. With an initial annual capacity of more than 100 megawatts (MW), the plant will produce solar panels made with First Solar's advanced, thin-film photovoltaic technology. At full production, projected for the second half of 2011, the plant could employ more than 300 people. Under the terms of the arrangement, First Solar will build and operate the plant in France. The plant represents an expected investment of more than €90 million [US $128 million]. EDFEN has agreed to finance half of the capital expense and plant start-up costs and will benefit from the plant’s entire output for the first 10 years.

First Solar and EDFEN plan to announce their decision on the site location within the next few months. The site will also include a facility for recycling solar panels, France’s first such facility and Europe’s only solar panel recycling plant outside of Germany.

CNN.Com: Ireland - Ryanair gloomy despite huge profits

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

Ryanair gloomy despite huge profits

Ireland - Budget airline Ryanair, which says it is considering charging passengers to use the toilet, announced a huge increase in profits Monday, revealing recession-busting results in sharp contrast to other carriers grounded by financial trouble. The Irish airline, which boosts revenues by billing for baggage, snacks and even checking in, announced a first quarter profit increase of 550 percent -- or $195 million -- crediting a drop in fuel prices and increased traffic for the growth. But despite bullish promises of expansion, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary warned that the full year outlook remained gloomy with a fierce price war likely to result in a yield decline of more than 20 percent.

EurActiv.com - Experts give European Research Council passing grade (but organization still on very shaky ground)

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

Experts give European Research Council passing grade (but organization still on very shaky ground)

Europe's fledgling scientific funding body is on the right track but has major organizational flaws which threaten its long-term viability, according to a no-nonsense analysis by a panel of experts. The European Research Council is too bureaucratic and needs more scientists in its management team, but has nonetheless been immune from political interference, according to a report drawn up by a group of research policy experts. Earlier this year, the Commission appointed the panel, headed by former Latvian president and university professor Vaira Vike-Freiberga, to review the ERC's development.

The review panel said it was deeply concerned that the present governance structure of the ERC is complex and a "source of great frustration and ongoing low-level conflict". In her report, Vike-Freiberga stressed that the ERC has "succeeded beyond expectations" in attracting outstanding scientists to serve on its peer-review panels, which have doled out millions of euro to 600 scientists in its first two years.

The former psychology professor said there were causes for concern about the long-term sustainability of the scheme under the present operating conditions.

7/27/09

Globe and Mail: Canada takes EU seal fight to WTO

For the complete report from the The Globe and Mail click on this link

Canada takes EU seal fight to WTO

Trade Minister Stockwell Day says Canada will go to the World Trade Organization to appeal a decision by the European Union banning imports of seal products. Mr. Day says the hunt is “humane, scientific and follows environmental rules of sustainability.”

Fears of an Islamic revolt in Europe begin to fade

World news | The Observer

"Fears of an Islamic revolt in Europe begin to fade

Five years ago bombings and riots fuelled anxiety that Europe's Muslims were on the verge of mass radicalisation. Those predictions have not been borne out.

A district of derelict warehouses, red-brick terraces, and vibrant street life on the canals near the centre of Brussels, Molenbeek was once known as Belgium's "Little Manchester". These days it is better known as "Little Morocco" since the population is overwhelmingly Muslim and of North African origin.

By day, the scene is one of children kicking balls on busy streets, of very fast, very small cars with very large sound systems. By night, the cafes and tea houses are no strangers to drug-dealers and mafia from the Maghreb."

Alternet: US Politics: Dangerous Alliance of Health Industry and Right-Wingers Stopping at Nothing to Derail Progressive Reforms

For the complete report from AlterNet click on this link

US Politics: Dangerous Alliance of Health Industry and Right-Wingers Will Stop at Nothing to Derail Progressive Reforms - by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

The Republican strategy is almost identical to the way they turned health care into Waterloo for Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1993. Back then, one of their chief propagandists, William Kristol, urged his party to block any health care plan for fear that Democrats would be seen as "the generous protector of middle class interests." Now he's telling the GOP to "go for the kill ... throw the kitchen sink ... drive a stake through its heart ... We need to start over."

As the Republicans fired away, big business stepped up the attack too, their lobbying and advertising guns blazing. The Chamber of Commerce, for one, announced a major campaign of rallies and print and Internet ads to crush the White House plan for a competitive public option allowing consumers to choose between a government plan and private health insurance. In key states where members of Congress remain on the fence, the airwaves are vibrating with television commercials aimed at shifting hearts and minds away from any change that might threaten profits.The big drug companies are already so pleased with what they've been promised that they've brought back Harry and Louise -- the make-believe couple who starred in TV ads that helped torpedo the Clinton health care plan -- but this time they're in favor of reform.

According to The Associated Press, the drug industry's trade group PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) and the drug company Pfizer "reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year" - $6.2 million from PhRMA, $5.6 million from Pfizer.

Financial Sector: EU- US hedge fund clash


EU-Digest

The Financial Sector; EU-US hedge fund clash

(Reuters)Debate over controversial EU laws on hedge funds shifted to the United States on Monday as a key industry body warned of protectionist aspects of the rules which have prompted Washington to lobby for changes. The Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) said the planned laws on alternative investment funds create "potentially major difficulties" and loss of business for funds and investors outside the European Union. The vast majority of the euro 1 trillion ($1.4) hedge fund industry is managed either out of the United States or UK.

Note EU-Digest: the bottom-line is not that the EU Directive is protectionist, but rather that it is a means for putting some controls on the presently uncontrolled hedge fund "manipulators". The draft directive, announced already in April, allows managers in non-EU countries to sell their funds to European investors, but only if regulation and supervision is equivalent to that in Europe, and only after a three-year transition period. This is good policy by the European Union, and the EU Commission and EU Parliament must not be swayed by pressures from the US Government or financial sector lobbyists.

Miami Beach Real Estate Attorney Opens Miami Brokerage Agency To Service European and other International Buyers For Properties Of Sellers in Distress


EU-Digest

Miami Beach Real Estate Attorney Opens Miami Brokerage Agency To Service European and other International Buyers For Properties Of Sellers in Distress

Cash buyers from Europe, Canada, and Russia requiring confidential, direct buyer representation for a luxury Miami Beach condo or waterfront home are now able to use specialized services of a Board Certified real estate attorney and Lic. Real Estate Broker. Christian N. Folland, Esq. Folland, acting as Miami Beach real estate broker and real estate attorney exclusively for premium property buyers, says he can greatly simplify the transaction, providing a smooth, secure process from property selection and initial contract negotiations to closing of the sale. "Cash buyers rule the current market" notes Folland, adding "luxury buyers feel now is the best time to buy ultra premium properties in Miami Beach". Folland also points out that international buyers have always been interested in Miami Beach, Florida, but until now, property prices have been too high to make it a quality investment as opposed to just visiting and staying at a five-star hotel. When asked why they are purchasing now, international clients often cite the many months of negative real estate media headlines leading to substantial decreases in listing and sales prices, the slowdown in the US economy, the number of foreclosures, and the weak dollar.

SFGate: US economy: Total number federally insured banks closed in 2009 reaches 64 after regulators shut 6 Ga banks, 1 in New York state

For the complete report from SF Gate click on this link

US economy: Total number of federally insured banks closed in 2009 reaches 64 after regulators shut 6 Ga banks, 1 in New York state

Regulators on Friday shut six banks in Georgia and a small bank in New York state, raising to 64 the number of federally insured banks to fail this year. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the banks: six bank subsidiaries of Security Bank Corp., based in Macon, Ga.; and Waterford Village Bank of Clarence, N.Y. The six Security banks had total assets of $2.8 billion and deposits of $2.4 billion as of March 31. State Bank and Trust Co., based in Pinehurst, Ga., has agreed to assume all of the banks' deposits and $2.4 billion of the assets, the FDIC said. In addition, the FDIC and State Bank and Trust signed an agreement to share losses on around $1.7 billion of the six banks' assets.The Treasury Department has launched a program in which financial firms will buy as much as $40 billion worth of banks' soured, mortgage-linked investments. That amount is far below the potential $1 trillion in assets that the government originally hoped to take off the banks' books through the program and another that would have targeted bad loans.

The Treasury Department has launched a program in which financial firms will buy as much as $40 billion worth of banks' soured, mortgage-linked investments. That amount is far below the potential $1 trillion in assets that the government originally hoped to take off the banks' books through the program and another that would have targeted bad loans.

European Insurance Industry could be in trouble without further cost savings and consolidation

European Insurance Industry could be in trouble without further cost savings and consolidation

Studies show that European insurance groups and local insurers are facing increased competition and slowing growth. In addition, because more than 90 percent of local insurers are sub-scale in size and the foreign portfolios of international groups are highly fragmented, mergers and acquisitions are likely to lead to further consolidation of the industry. The motto seems to be that senior management at insurance companies must break the traditional compromise between profitability and growth and create sustainable advantage on both dimensions.

7/26/09

VeloNews: Contador's win is the 12th Tour win for Spain - by Justin Davis

Alberto Contador wins Tour de France


For the complete report from VeloNews click on this link

Contador's win is the 12th Tour win for Spain - by Justin Davis

Alberto Contador took Spain's tally to 12 wins in 96 editions of the Tour de France when he wrapped up his second victory on the race here on Sunday. Reputed climber Federico Bahamontes, nicknamed the 'Eagle of Toledo', broke new ground for his countrymen by winning the race in 1959 after years of domination by the French, the Italians and Belgians.Contador cruised down the Champs-Elysees to win the Tour for a second time Sunday after 2,141 miles over three weeks of racing. He repelled many challenges in the mountains, excelled in the two time-trials -- winning a pivotal race against the clock in the 18th stage -- and won the first Alpine stage.

Wins by country after 96 editions:
36: France
18: Belgium
12: Spain
10: United States
9: Italy
4: Luxembourg
2: Netherlands, Switzerland
1: Germany, Denmark, Ireland

Seattle Times: Boeing 787 may not fly this year because of structural flaw - by Dominic Gates

"787 battling structural problems"


For the complete report from the Seattle Times Newspaper click on this link

Boeing 787 may not fly this year because of structural flaw - by Dominic Gates

The structural flaw that delayed the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner is more complex than originally described by the company, and the plane's inaugural takeoff is likely at least four to six months away, say two engineers with knowledge of Boeing's problem. "It's got to take at least three to four months just to get something installed on an airplane," said a structures engineer who has been briefed on the issue. "It's definitely a costly fix to go and do this work."

Both engineers said the issue requires a thorough redesign of the plane's wing-to-body join, and the necessary parts will be very difficult to install on the test airplanes that have already been built.

Belfast Telegraph: Jet disasters claim the highest number of lives since 2002

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

Jet disasters claim the highest number of lives since 2002

The number of people killed in passenger airline crashes in the first six months of 2009 was the highest January-June total since 2002, new figures show. Two recent Airbus crashes, including the mid-Atlantic Air France disaster, swelled the 2009 half-year fatality figure to 499, Flight International magazine said. This compared with 175 deaths in the first six months of 2008 and was well above the half-yearly average of 344 for this decade. The years 2001-10 could now become the first decade since World War II when global airline accident rates did not show an improvement compared with the previous decade, said Flight International's operations and safety editor David Learmount.

Sarkozy collapses while jogging

EU-Digest

Sarkozy collapses while jogging

(AFP) France's President Nicolas Sarkozy collapsed while jogging near his weekend retreat Sunday and was rushed to hospital where officials said he was "doing well" but would remain overnight. The 54-year-old conservative president's wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy raced to his side on the back of a police motorbike after he felt faint while running in the wooded park around the Versailles Palace, a witness said.A presidential aide told AFP that Sarkozy had a problem related to his vagus nerve -- which helps the body regulate its heart rate -- but that doctors considered the problem "minor". A condition known as vasovagal syncope can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure -- particularly if the victim is dehydrated. Patients can faint but normally make a complete recovery, medical experts said. Sarkozy's office said there were no plans to cancel Sarkozy's visit on Tuesday to the Mont Saint Michel abbey in Normandy.

7/25/09

Newsweek/EU-Digest: Germany - Russia: The New Ostpolitik


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

Germany - Russia: The New Ostpolitik

They're Europe's odd couple. At a time when much of the continent is scrambling to find strategies to contain, avoid, and punish a resurgent Russia, Germany is pushing ahead with the most important and surprising post–Cold War alliance in Europe. Once titanic enemies, Germany and Russia are embracing a slew of big business deals that aim for everything from a joint resurgence in the world's nuclear-energy market to taking over a big chunk of GM's European empire. German technology will upgrade Russia's vast railroad network—and while much of Europe seeks to free itself of energy dependence on Russia, Germany's E.On is buying up Russian gas fields.

The stream of agreements reflects the depth of what has become Europe's most powerful new partnership. Based on a history of close ties, a decade long surge in trade and investment, and massive German imports of Russian natural gas, Germany has become not only Russia's most important trading partner, but its principal advocate in the West. Germany has vetoed an EU-wide energy market that would reduce Europe's dependency on Russian supplies, and stayed cool on U.S. plans for missile defense. Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign-affairs committee in the upper house of Russia's Parliament, says Germany was Russia's "biggest helper" in its successful attempt to block the eastward expansion of NATO.

Note EU-Digest: Like the relationship between France and Germany, the relationship between Russia and Germany is pivotal for the stability, prosperity and peace in the EU and will strengthen all partners equally on the worlds political and economic stage.

NewScvientists: Falling out of love with market myths - by Terrence Kealey

For the complete report from the New Scientist click on this link

Falling out of love with market myths - by Terrence Kealey

"My story starts with a theory that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher sold us. It is called "supply-side economics", and it claims that economic growth depends, first, on the rich (not the poor) being rewarded with tax cuts; and second, on markets being freed from regulation. Clearly the theory is flawed. The rush by bankers to pay themselves large bonuses, even as their failing banks were being nationalised, reveals the true function of this bloated remuneration - to benefit only its recipients - while the banks failed precisely because their regulation was too lax. Supply-side economics was buttressed by two further theories: "rational expectations" and "efficient markets". As their names imply, these assume that traders do not make systematic errors when predicting the future, and that the prices of financial products such as shares, bonds and property accurately reflect all relevant information.

Unfortunately, entrepreneurs today love the theory of market failure. Once, like Bill Gates, they rejoiced in the free market, but today, banker-like, they want to nationalize the costs of their R&D but to privatize their profits. Indeed, when I ran a biotechnology start-up in the 1990s, I too claimed every government grant going, even though I secretly knew that there is no market failure. False theories are often beguiling (markets look, at first sight, efficient; science looks, at first sight, like a public good) but while false economic theories are soon exposed by the crunches in the market, the tragedy of false economic theories in science is that they can be more easily disguised because their failings are more insidious."

ESPN: Tour de France: Lance Armstrong hangs onto podium place

For the complete report from ESPN click on this link

Tour de France: Lance Armstrong hangs onto podium place

Alberto Contador all but sealed the Tour de France title Saturday, keeping the yellow jersey after a punishing mountain ride in the next to last stage. Lance Armstrong, the seven-time champion who came out of 3½ years of retirement, held third place overall after the dreaded climb up Mont Ventoux. He finished in a small group that included Contador, his Astana teammate, and second-place Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. Contador, the 2007 Tour champion, leads Andy Schleck overall by 4:11, with Armstrong 5:24 behind. Bradley Wiggins is fourth, 6:01 back, and Frank Schleck is fifth, 6:04 behind the Spaniard.

adnkronos.com: Turkey: 200 suspected Islamists detained

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

Turkey: 200 suspected Islamists detained

Turkish police say they have detained around 200 suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an outlawed pan-Islamist party, in an operation carried out in 23 provinces across the country on Friday. A statement made by Turkish police said that this operation is part of an ongoing investigation to track down members of the party. Police said they have uncovered a number documents during the investigation that link those detained to the Islamist group. The Hizb ut-Tahrir movement was established in 1952 in Jerusalem. The group's aim is to 'unite' all Muslim nations within an Islamic caliphate ruled by Sharia law. It has not yet been determined if the group has been involved in any sort of violent terrorist attacks. The group claims its means are wholly peaceful.

Uzbekistan blames Hizb ut-Tahrir for bombings in the capital in 2004, an accusation the group denies.

American Thinker: Top ten reasons why sharia is bad for all societies - by James Arlandson

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

Top ten reasons why sharia is bad for all societies - by James Arlandson

Traditional Muslims who understand the Quran and the hadith believe that sharia (Islamic law) expresses the highest and best goals for all societies. It is the will of Allah. But is Islam just in its laws that Muhammad himself practiced and invented? The article in the American Thinker by James Arlandson says no for ten verifiable reasons.

No one should be fooled into believing that these harsh and excessive laws were invented in the fevered imagination of extremists who came long after Muhammad. These harsh and excessive laws come directly from the founder of Islam in his Quran and in his example in the hadith.

James Arlandson concludes in his article in the American Thinker: "The purpose of these links is not to condemn Islamic countries or to assert that the West is better than they are. Facts say that the West has many problems. Rather, the purpose is to demonstrate that Islamic countries have their share of problems as well. This means that Islamic countries are also decadent. This means that Islamic punishments do not work entirely (except by scare tactics), but they can drive the sin or crime underground."

Middle East Online: A New Supreme Leader for Iran? - by Babak Sarfaraz

For the complete report from Middle East Online click on this link

A New Supreme Leader for Iran? - by Babak Sarfaraz

People in the know in Iran report that the hottest subject of discussion among Iranian conservative leaders these days is the issue of who is to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is said to be suffering from leukemia. The same individuals report that the person most likely to take Khamenei's mantle is Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the powerful chief of the Judiciary, whose tenure is scheduled to end within weeks.Shahroudi seems like a perfect fit for the job. At 61, he is at the peak of his powers. A brilliant student of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr of Iraq (who was himself the father-in-law of Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader today of Iraq's Mahdi Army), Shahroudi is known among his peers for his breadth of religious knowledge and superior intellect. As a political hardliner, he is a dedicated champion of the status quo who has spent the greater part of his life struggling for the establishment or consolidation of Islamic states in Iran and Iraq along the lines set down by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei some forty years ago.

gnmagazine: The New World Disorder: Where Is It Taking Us? - by John Ross Schroeder

"the party could be over?"
For the complete report from the GNMagazine click on this link

The New World Disorder: Where Is It Taking Us? - by John Ross Schroeder

Author and educator James Martin, founder of the Institute for Science and Civilization at the University of Oxford, soberly warns us: "At the start of the 21st century, humankind finds itself on a non-sustainable course—a course that unless it is changed will lead to catastrophes of awesome consequences. This could be humanity's last century, or could be the century in which civilization sets sail towards a far more spectacular future" (The Meaning of the 21st Century, 2007, preface). The choices and options of humanity are narrowing sharply. Intelligent observers of the world scene recognize that we must alter our ways soon or face eking out a bare existence in a shattered and disordered world. Either we are fast running out of time or we may have already passed the dreaded point of no return. Current affairs author and historian Robert Harvey previously articulated his own stark warning: "Unless action is taken as the warm glow of sunset on the twentieth century is replaced by the pale light of dawn on the twenty-first, we will gaze towards the same horizon of global horrors as our great-grandfathers, this time through a nuclear haze. The world is a much more dangerous place than it has been for nearly half a century" (Global Disorder, 2003, p. xxxii).

Czech patriot and former President Vaclav Havel has stated that "cultural conflicts are increasing and are more dangerous today than at any time in history" (quoted by Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, 1997, p. 28).

7/24/09

EU-Digest- Turkey, Iraq, U.S. to discuss how to combat PKK terrorists

EU-Digest

Turkey, Iraq, U.S. to discuss how to combat PKK terrorists

(Reuters)Senior officials from Turkey, Iraq and the United States will meet in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss closer cooperation against Kurdish rebels who attack Turkey from bases in northern Iraq, a Turkish government official said. Turkey and Iraq will be represented by their interior ministers, said the official, who requested anonymity. It was not clear who would head the U.S. delegation. "It is going to be a meeting about intelligence sharing and the issue of the PKK will be taken up," said the official. The three countries have stepped up efforts to fight separatist rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Washington, the European Union and Turkey.

10connects.com : Critics say Florida governor wasted almost half million on trip to Europe last year

For the complete report from 10connects.com click on this link

Critics say Florida governor wasted almost half million on trip to Europe last year

One year ago this week, Florida Governor Charlie Crist was in Europe. The governor at the time said taxpayers would benefit by sending him to England, France, Spain and Russia. Supporters of the trade mission say it was a huge success because of the potential jobs and income it could generate in the state, but the operating word to that is "potential."

Critics say the trip was a big fat zero and just a waste of taxpayer money. Crist's office says fostering overseas business is even more important when the economy is hurting and has been "instrumental in keeping our state from greater distress." The governor and his wife -- who was then his fiancee -- stayed in luxury hotels. While business groups paid for their trip, it cost taxpayers $430,000. Part of the expense included $148,000 for nine bodyguards, a photographer and two other staffers. There was also a $650 cleaning bill. Critics say that is appropriate, because they say the trip took taxpayers to the cleaners.

USA Today: Health Care - US Senate delays vote on health care

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

Health Care - US Senate delays vote on health care

Senate Democrats announced they won't meet a self-imposed August deadline to vote on an overhaul of the nation's health care system and vowed to use the extra time to find ways to pay for the plan. Thursday's decision was a symbolic blow to President Obama, who has thrust health care to the top of his domestic agenda and repeatedly called on lawmakers to act on a bill this summer. Republicans and some Democrats resisted that timetable.

Note EU-Digest: this shows how much US congressmen and senators are tied to special interest groups who don't want to see the present "ripoff" practices by the insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industry changed.

Denver Post: Tour de France - Contador wins trial, awaits coronation - by Jamey Keaten

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

Tour de France - Contador wins trial, awaits coronation - by Jamey Keaten

Alberto Contador all but assured his second Tour de France victory Thursday, winning the race's final time trial, while Lance Armstrong struggled with fatigue but moved up one spot to third place. Contador, Armstrong's Astana teammate and the 2007 Tour champion, increased his overall lead in the 18th stage, in which cyclists rode against the clock on the 25-mile course in and around Annecy. The three- week race ends Sunday on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Contador finished in 48 minutes, 31 seconds, beating Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland by three seconds. Russia's Mikhail Ignatiev was third, 15 seconds back.

Irish Examiner: Ireland - A quarter of young people out of work - by Ann Cahill

For the complete report from the Irish Examiner click on this link

Ireland - A quarter of young people out of work - by Ann Cahill

A quarter of the young people in Ireland are out of work as unemployment continues to rise faster here than in most other EU countries, according to the latest figures.The number of people under 24 years of age not able to find a job has increased four times faster in Ireland than the EU average over the past year. Ireland has the fourth highest number of young people unemployed, at 25.5%, more than double the percentage of a year ago. Just Spain, Hungary and Sweden are higher. The Labour party’s youth wing called for new measures to tackle youth unemployment, including temporary nationalization of the banks to get credit flowing again; tax breaks for employers who take on additional workers from the live register; a work experience scheme for graduates and apprentices and retraining for those who have lost their jobs. The quarterly EU labour market review shows that the drop in joblessness from 9% to 6.7% achieved over three years from 2005 has been wiped out in just 14 months. Spain has the highest rate at 18.7% while the Netherlands has the lowest at 3.2%. It has increased only slightly over the past 12 months.

EurActiv.com - Iceland postpones reimbursement of Dutch, British savers

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

Iceland postpones reimbursement of Dutch, British savers

Iceland's parliament agreed on 23 July to break for the summer without having passed a controversial bill to guarantee repayment of billions lost in Icelandic accounts to Britain and the Netherlands.Reykjavik agreed in June to reimburse the two countries for compensating people holding so-called Icesave accounts at Landsbanki, one of three top Icelandic banks that failed last year under the weight of massive debts. Some 300,000 people in Britain, and others in the Netherlands, had funds deposited in the accounts. The bill now in parliament could leave Icelandic taxpayers footing much of the cost and is widely unpopular among politicians and the public, already anxious about the decision last week to seek to join the EU.

Internet Retailer/EU-Digest: Rail Europe drives up web sales with new content-heavy travel site

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

Rail Europe drives up web sales with new content-heavy travel site

After chugging along for years with a basic web site used only to book rail tickets and passes, Rail Europe is on the fast track to online sales growth after relaunching its site as a content-rich travel portal designed with analytics to learn visitors’ travel preferences. Despite the global economic downturn and a drop in consumer travel, Rail Europe’s online sales in April and May rose 6.5% over the same period last year, says Frederick Buhr, vice president of e-business. The increase in sales came despite an 11% year-over-year drop in the number of online visitors during Rail Europe’s peak April-to-July season, showing the relaunched site’s strength in a down economy at a time when business at many travel sites is down, Buhr says.

Note EU-Digest : Last November, RailEurope.com relaunched with several hundred pages of new travel-related content tied to the 32 railroads and countries that Rail Europe serves.

Belfast Telegraph: China to be first major economy to recover

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

China to be first major economy to recover

China will be the first major country to rebound from the global economic downturn because the world's most populous country has not suffered a banking crisis and has invested in important infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy, a conference in Dublin has heard. China's economy hit bottom in the last quarter of last year and is now growing at between 7% and 8% a year, Prof Nicholas Lardy said on the opening day of a two-day conference on China at O'Reilly Hall at University College, Dublin (UCD) yesterday.

China's financial regulator prevented most domestic banks from buying the sort of toxic assets that have damaged the balance sheets of their Western counterparts while the government reacted swiftly to introduce a fiscal stimulus to bolster the economy and improve China's poor power grid and motorway system.

7/23/09

Times Online: Turkey - Laughter in court as retired Turkish generals join celebrities in coup trial - by Murat Sezer

For the complete report from the Times Online click on this link

Turkey - Laughter in court as retired Turkish generals join celebrities in coup trial - by Murat Sezer

Two retired generals became the highest ranking officers in modern Turkish history to go on trial yesterday. They are accused of a campaign of assassinations designed to plunge the country into chaos and pave the way for a military takeover. Sener Eruygur, a former Gendarmerie commander, and Hursit Tolon, a retired army chief, are among 56 defendants accused of plotting a coup against the Islamic Government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They face life sentences in the second wave of a trial aimed at the Ergenoken terror group. According to three indictments, thousands of pages long, the group is the latest incarnation of what has long been known as the “Deep State”. It is believed to include hitmen and senior figures in the security forces, state bureaucracy and judiciary who were prepared to sanction murder to protect Turkey’s secular system.

Telegraph:Tour de France 2009: Alberto Contador defends tactics despite defying team orders - by Brendan Gallagher

For the complete report from the Telegraph click on this link

Tour de France 2009: Alberto Contador defends tactics despite defying team orders - by Brendan Gallagher

Yellow jersey Alberto Contador has been forced to defend his tactics in Thursday's Queen stage in the Alps when a late attack blew his Astana colleague Andrea Kloden out the back of the small lead group - the Schleck brothers Andy and Frank were the other riders - and endangered the German's chances of making the podium in Paris. Armstrong was in diplomatic mode when questioned about the tactics: "I am going to bite my tongue on that one," said Armstrong of Contador's attack, but he did question the move in his Twitter update. The American said last week that there were tensions in the team, but after losing time in Sunday's stage to Verbier he pledged his support to help Contador win his second Tour.

While Contador insists his motives for the attack were tactically sound, and that he was told he should attack by Klöden, there was speculation amongst the Tour press corps that the Spaniard does not need to make niceties with his Astana teammates because Armstrong and Bruyneel are planning a new team for 2010, with an announcement on a sponsor coming later today.

DW: More people are leaving Germany than arriving

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

More people are leaving Germany than arriving

The number of immigrants was almost constant compared to the year before at 682,000, but the number of emigrants rose by 100,000 to 738,000. Most of the immigrants came from EU countries, with 119,000 Poles forming by far the largest group. Only Turkey, with 26,200 immigrants, remains a substantial source of immigration from outside the EU. Quite a few (108,000) were Germans coming back, mostly from Poland and the USA.

Meanwhile, the numbers of Germans and foreigners leaving the country continues to rise; altogether 56,000 more people left than arrived. The Statistical Office in Wiesbaden admits that its figures for departures are not perfect this year, because of administrative changes in local registration offices which have led to some people being taken off the registers who should not have been on them in the first place. But it says that it's quite clear that, while the number of foreigners arriving is still greater than the number of those leaving (+11,000), the sum for German movements is seriously negative (-66,000).

Economist.com: Europe.view: Westward words

For the complete report from The Economist click on this link

Europe.view: Westward words

A fictional open letter to Barack Obama. A letter by east European luminaries to the American administration has attracted much attention. Here is what they couldn’t have said and didn’t.

"We are aware of our shortcomings. Our countries have been complacent, particularly since joining the EU. Our political class has lost the public’s confidence. We have allowed the EU’s expansion to falter; it obsesses about tedious and irrelevant constitutional reforms, rather than dealing with big questions such as energy security and competitiveness. It is not surprising that you don’t take the EU as seriously as it takes itself."

7/22/09

European Voice: One world, one Europe - by Dominique Moïsi

For the complete report from the European Voice click on this link

One world, one Europe - by Dominique Moïsi

In the early 1980's, a former French foreign minister, Jean François-Poncet suggested that France and the United Kingdom give up their seats on the UN Security Council in favour of a single European Union seat. Germany would no longer seek a seat, Italy would not feel left out, and Europe's international identity would be strengthened in a spectacular way. Of course, this was not to be. France and the UK were not willing to give up the symbol of their nuclear and international status. They are probably are even less willing to do so today in the name of a Union that is less popular than ever, at least in the British Isles.

In today's global age, with the rise of emerging powers and the relative decline of the West, the only Europe that will be taken seriously is a Europe that can speak and be seen as one.

EurActiv.com - Europe's disreputable system for 'fixing' its president - by David Price

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

Europe's disreputable system for 'fixing' its president - by David Price

"Europe needs an ethically robust system to choose a real leader with civic guts and moral courage," writes David Price, founder of the Schuman.info website, in a July post on Blogactiv."It is a damning commentary on the democratic ethics of the 27 governments of the EU that they choose the president of the European Commission in secret, without any recourse to democracy," Price writes. "It is far, far from the democratic principles that Robert Schuman announced sixty years ago," he explains, adding: "It is a far cry from the principles of human rights that Schuman and others formulated in 1948-50 and set as European law."

"How should Europeans elect the European Commission? Who should be Europe's leader? Shouldn't all Europeans be involved in the election?," Price asks.

Uprooted Palestinians: Russia, France, EU up Pressure on Israel to Halt E. J'lem Building

For the complete report from Uprooted Palestinians click on this link

Russia, France, EU up Pressure on Israel to Halt E.J'Lem Building

It seems that the diplomatic pressure on Israel is growing day after day over its building project in the annexed Arab quarter of occupied east Jerusalem, yet the Zionist entity continues to defy the international calls and go on building its illegal settlements at the expense of the Palestinian people and their right to live in their own land and homes. One day after the United States demanded that Israel stop building projects in occupied east Jerusalem, Russia joined the call, urging the Zionist entity to immediately halt construction in the area, and saying that a failure to do so would be a violation of the so-called “road map peace agreement”.

The US, Russia have demanded that Israel suspend a planned housing project on the grounds of the hotel in occupied east Jerusalem. "The settlement should be stopped immediately in line with the road map," AFP quoted Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko as saying, in reference to a plan to build 20 housing units in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied east Jerusalem, near Mount Scopus and the National Police headquarters. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was also quoted by the news agency as saying on Tuesday that France summoned the Israeli ambassador in Paris to demand a halt to the building in occupied east Jerusalem.

Moscow Top News: Sapsan Trains: Looking at the Future Today


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

Sapsan Trains: Looking at the Future Today

A major milestone for German-Russian cooperation, the first state of the art Sapsan high speed train is on its way to Russia. This is the first of eight trains scheduled for delivery with a deadline of 2010. The German company Siemens, in the typical fashion of German engineering, is responsible for constructing the trains. The trains will begin service at the end of 2009 and will be able to travel at an amazing 250km/h.

The high speed trains will be able to offer fares cheaper than air travel, which is highly dependent on oil prices. They will be running the St. Petersburg to Moscow route, previously a totally overnight run. They pose an impressive sight, sleek and aerodynamic. The Sapsan name appears on the trains in the Cyrillic alphabet and they sport the colors of the Russian flag. The sleek design and pointed nose look like an aircraft on the ground, as the passengers will be able to move around in comfort and safety never needing to become airborne. The interior is spacious, comfortable and looks like something from the space age. The control section looks like is has starship control panels. Just to be in it and look at it will be a destination experience.

Pravda: Opel's Future Thrown into Uncertainty

For the complete report from Pravda.Ru click on this link

Opel's Future Thrown into Uncertainty

here can be no winner in the dispute between Canada’s Magna and Belgium’s RHJ International for Germany’s automotive giant Opel. If the talks between the General Motors and the bidders end with no results, the car-maker may go bankrupt, Germany's Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung newspaper wrote. “There are still lots of question marks: for example the bidders have to ensure that the new Opel company can start with a strong capital base. That means that the bidders have to be ready to take on more risk themselves. Otherwise the E.U. Commission will not accept the rescue," the minister told the newspaper.

7/21/09

USA Today: US Senate agrees to cut off new spending for F-22 jets - can Britain and the Netherlands still afford to buy the plane?

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

US Senate agrees to cut off new spending for F-22 jets - can Britain and the Netherlands still afford to buy the plane?

The Senate has sided with the Obama administration in agreeing to cut off new spending for the F-22 jet fighter program. The 58-40 vote removes $1.75 billion set aside in a defense policy bill to build seven more F-22 Raptors, adding to the 187 stealth technology fighters already in the pipeline.Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the Pentagon has enough of the $140 million jets to meet operational needs and President Obama has threatened to veto the defense bill if Congress ignores the request that the program be terminated.

Note EU-Digest: Both Great Britain and the Netherlands have their eyes on the Lockeed F22.Given the US cancellation in ordering this plane the question could be asked if Britain and the Netherlands can afford ordering this aircraft given the deteriorating economic environment in their countries which requires different priorities than military ones.

Telegraph.co.uk:EU suspends aid to Honduras

For the complete report from the Telegraph click on this link

EU suspends aid to Honduras

The EU External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said she regretted the fact that no negotiated solution to the crisis had been achieved since Zelaya was removed from office in June. Talks on resolving Honduras' leadership crisis broke off on Sunday after the interim government rejected a proposed compromise drafted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias that called for allowing Zelaya to serve out his term.

"This is a crisis which Honduras can ill afford," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement. "In view of the circumstances, I have taken the difficult decision to suspend all budgetary support payments." The move to freeze aid covering the 2007-2010 period was seen as an attempt to put pressure on the government led by Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as Honduras' interim president after a June 28 coup.

LATimes: European Union to scrutinize Google Books settlement; US Congress may hold hearing

For the complete report from the Los Angeles Times click on this link

European Union to scrutinize Google Books settlement; US Congress may hold hearing

The European Union said today that it would scrutinize Google's settlement with authors and publishers and hold a hearing Sept. 7 to determine whether there would be any adverse impact on the European book market. "What’s currently planned is a fact-finding exercise by the [European] Commission -- not an investigation -- and we're looking forward to taking part," said Jennie Johnson, a Google spokeswoman. Under scrutiny will be Google's agreement, reached last year with the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers, to make out-of-print books searchable online. Among other things, the agreement also would create a digital library of books to which libraries and research institutions can have full access for a recurring fee. "It’s important to discuss how we can use the Internet to bring back to life millions of books around the world that will otherwise be lost," Johnson said. "This is at the heart of what we have accomplished in our agreement with authors and publishers. It's also why we are working in partnership with libraries around the world to digitize their books so they can live forever online."

The settlement has recently become a magnet for controversy and scrutiny. Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department, working with several state attorneys general, launched a formal investigation into the potential antitrust implications of the settlement. Consumer groups, libraries and nonprofit organizations such as the Internet Archive have also voiced concerns that the settlement would give Google too much influence over the burgeoning digital books market.

People's Daily Online: US Economy - Geithner jetsets across globe to peddle US debt -

For the complete report from the Peoples Daily Online click on this link

Geithner jetsets across globe to peddle US debt

Timothy Geithner, architect of bank, auto and economic rescue plans, has another high-stakes job these days: traveling bond salesman.The recession, financial crisis and two wars have pushed the federal deficit above $1 trillion, a record level that makes the Treasury secretary's role as chief marketer of US debt tougher than any of his recent predecessors'.In March, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said his country was concerned about the "safety" of the large amounts of money it had lent to the United States.The deficit-cutting proposals the administration has so far revealed would fall far short of what is needed. "If the Obama administration has a credible plan to bring the deficits down, they are keeping it a deep secret at the moment," said Michael Mussa, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

With nearly three months left in the budget year, the Obama administration forecasts that this year's deficit will total $1.84 trillion, more than four times the size of last year's record tally. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the annual deficits under the administration's spending plans will never drop below $633 billion over the next decade. And it forecasts an additional $9.1 trillion added to the debt held by the public - the amount that Geithner has to finance with bond sales.

Note EU-Digest: The above paints an extremely gloomy economic situation for the US, which also indicates how little flexibility Mr. Geithner has.

FRB: Testimony--Ben Bernanke, Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress

For the complete testimony of Mr.Ben Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve Board click on this link

Testimony--Ben Bernanke, Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress

"At the time of our February report, financial markets at home and abroad were under intense strains, with equity prices at multiyear lows, risk spreads for private borrowers at very elevated levels, and some important financial markets essentially shut. Today, financial conditions remain stressed, and many households and businesses are finding credit difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, on net, the past few months have seen some notable improvements. For example, interest rate spreads in short-term money markets, such as the interbank market and the commercial paper market, have continued to narrow. The extreme risk aversion of last fall has eased somewhat, and investors are returning to private credit markets. Reflecting this greater investor receptivity, corporate bond issuance has been strong. Many markets are functioning more normally, with increased liquidity and lower bid-asked spreads. Equity prices, which hit a low point in March, have recovered to roughly their levels at the end of last year, and banks have raised significant amounts of new capital."

7/20/09

newKerala: Man will return to Moon by 2025, says European Space Agency's Director General

For the complete report from the NewKerala click on this link

Man will return to Moon by 2025, says European Space Agency's Director General

The Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) has said he's sure that mankind will go back to the Moon as soon as 2020 or 2025.“Yes, I am sure mankind will go back to the Moon. The Moon is just three days away from Earth, and it used to take three days to go from Paris to Marseille a little over a hundred years ago, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t go back to the Moon. However, the aim would no longer be to plant a flag there,” Dordain said.

“The idea would be to use the Moon as just another part of our environment, in order to make scientific progress, or to establish a warning system against asteroids or anything else threatening Earth, or as a source of resources to take back to Earth,” he added.

cagaptay.com: Turkey - Obama's Two Dollars and Turkey - by Soner Cagaptay

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

Turkey - Obama's Two Dollars and Turkey - by Soner Cagaptay

It is a tough economy, but if President Barack Obama has $2 to invest in Turkey, I would suggest that he put one buck into consolidating Turkey's liberal democracy, and the other into moving forward the country's European Union accession, for a non-European Turkey would be a big loss for Washington. Since the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, came to power in Turkey in 2002, Turkey's media has been transformed for the worse. The government has used legal loopholes to confiscate ownership of independent media and sell it to its supporters. In 2002, pro-AKP businesses owned less than 20 percent of the Turkish media; today pro-government people own around 50 percent.

Not only has Turkey's media ownership been transformed with a pro-government bent, but media freedoms have been eroded as well: according to Freedom House's freedom of press index reports, Turkish media is less free today than it was in 2002, slipping from 100 in 2002 to 103 in 2008. As Turkey ought to be moving toward the EU, its record on media freedoms should have improved significantly since 2002, not stagnated. Something is not right in Turkey today. Mr. Obama ought to put his money into Turkey's free media since, without a free and independent media, as well as the accompanying freedoms, Turkey risks looking more like Russia, and nobody, neither the EU nor Mr. Obama, wants two Russia's on Europe's eastern frontier.

There is no longer a grey area in which Turkey can position itself. Turkey will either become an EU member and part of the West, or fold into the "Muslim world," as per al-Qaeda's vision. This is already a risk, with the number of Turks who identify as Western decreasing, especially among the youth. Mr. Obama ought to invest in Turkey's EU accession in order to keep Turkey Western and to consolidate its liberal democracy. All it takes is two bucks from Obama's wallet. Hard as times might be, this is not the time for Washington to lose Turkey, or let go an important ally.

Newsweek: Soner Cagaptay On Turkey's Ergenekon Case

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

Soner Cagaptay On Turkey's Ergenekon Case

In which country does a liberal woman who educates poor girls worry about her safety when she goes home at night? Pakistan, Afghanistan—right—but also add Turkey now. In an early-morning raid on April 13, Turkish police arrested more than a dozen middle-aged liberal women working for the Society for Contemporary Life (CYDD), a nongovernmental organization that provides educational scholarships to poor teenage girls. The arrests were part of the Ergenekon court case, in which police have arrested hundreds of people, including Army officers, opponents of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, renowned journalists, artists and now these women, charging them with plotting to overthrow the government.

When the case opened in 2007, AKP watchers saw it as an opportunity for Turkey to clean up corruption, such as security officials' involvement in the criminal underworld. But the case is much more than that. It is a tool for the AKP to curb freedoms, and more than anything else illustrates the power of the Gülen tarikat (Islamic order) that now controls the Turkish police and, you guessed it, educational scholarships for the poor.

The Ergenekon case has become a witch hunt. If you have doubts, call a friend in Turkey and ask for an opinion of the case. Your friend will respond with details of the weather. The last time people were afraid to discuss a public court case in the West was during the McCarthy trials in the U.S. Though it is in accession talks with the European Union, Turkey is devolving into a similar state of fear. Sad as it is, there is a way out of this conundrum if the AKP turns Ergenekon into a case that targets only criminals, and the Gülen tarikat lets go of its control over the Turkish police and truly becomes a spiritual movement.

RTÉ: Ireland has second largest surplus in EU

For the complete report RTÉ click on this link

Ireland has second largest surplus in EU

Ireland recorded the second largest first-quarter trade surplus in the EU, according to the latest data from Eurostat. Germany led the way with the value of its exports exceeding imports by €36.8 billion. The Netherlands was third with €11.6 billion, with Ireland sandwiched in-between on €12.7 billion. Ireland's surplus was €4.4 billion higher than the same period in 2008, though it was attributed more to a drop in the cost of imports than on a major increase in exports.

Boston Globe/EU-Digest: EU wants to expand anti-terror data deal with US

For the complete report from the Boston Globe click on this link

EU wants to expand anti-terror data deal with US

The European Commission wants to give U.S. anti-terror investigators access to European operation centers run by bank transfer consortium SWIFT, EU spokesman Michele Cercone said. The consortium set up by member banks is responsible for the collection and relay of more than 11 million financial transactions daily between banks and other financial institutions worldwide. Cercone told reporters that widening a 2007 EU-US data protection deal would help strengthen preventive measures to stop the transfer of funds between known terror groups and suspects.

Note EU-Digest: there are certainly better ways of controlling the transfer of funds by know terrorist groups than tapping into everyone's banking account information, which is against privacy laws in the European Union.

Al Jazeera English - EU parliament elects Polish leader Jerzy Buzek

For the complete report from Al Jazeera click on this link

EU parliament elects Polish leader Jerzy Buzek

Jerzy Buzek, the former prime minister of Poland, has been elected as president of the European parliament, becoming the assembly's first leader from the former eastern bloc. The 69-year-old won the backing of 555 members of the the 736-member assembly on Tuesday, as the parliament in Strasbourg, France began its first session of a new five-year term.

"This is a symbolic day. I consider my election to be a signal for our countries", Buzek said in reference to eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004. "I also consider it to be a homage to the millions of citizens who refused to bow to a hostile system. "There is no longer you and us. Now there is only one Europe shared," Buzek, who is from the conservative European People's Party, said.

SpeedTV.com - VW Ready To Buy Porsche

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

Volkswagen has set the stage to buy out Porsche, ready to acquire the renowned sports-car company in two stages beginning this week. The price tag: $11.28 billion. The reported deal would require the deposing of Wendelin Wiedeking, Porsche CEO since 1993, who is said to be negotiating a severance package of more than $140 million. Wiedeking, who opposes the VW merger proposal, denies that any such deal is pending. Wiedeking is largely credited with turning Porsche from a struggling, nearly bankrupt automaker into a highly profitable automotive powerhouse, but he also is blamed for Porsche amassing a mountain of debt last year as it attempted an ill-advised takeover of VW.

Spiegel OnLine: Growing Fear of Credit Crunch: Germany Considering Forced Capitalization of Banks

For the complete report from the SPIEGEL ONLINE click on this link

The German government is worried that the current shortage of bank credit plaguing industry will worsen later this year and is considering tackling the problem by forcibly taking stakes in banks, similar to the policy adopted by authorities in the United States and Britain, a German newspaper reported on Monday.The plan envisages the government forcing banks to take state aid and to part-nationalize them in return.

At present small businesses as well as large corporations say they are having problems securing bank loans. The banks have tightened their lending because they have had to make risk provisions to cover remaining toxic assets in their balance sheets, because an increasing number of companies cannot repay their loans in the current economic downturn, and because new international balance sheet rules are forcing banks to put back more equity capital to cover their loans. The government has argued that it's time banks boosted their lending because several of them have taken billions of euros in government aid.