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4/30/10

EU-Digest getting a facelift

In the coming weeks EU-Digest will be getting a facelift following  bloggers problems in publishing via FTP. In the meantime please note that EU-Digest will be temporarily hosted under the following domain name: http:/eu-digest.blogspot.com

Business finance news - currency market news - online UK currency markets - financial news - Interactive Investor

U.S. GDP growth is less attractive than it seems. Half the annualized 3.2 percent first-quarter increase comes from a swing from modest inventory de-stocking to restocking. That means real final sales grew only 1.6 percent, a little more slowly than in the previous quarter. More importantly, consumption rose more rapidly than personal disposable income, reducing the savings rate, while imports swelled more rapidly than exports, pushing up the payments deficit. The U.S. economy seems to be tilting toward the structural imbalances of 2002-07; it's all suggestive of the stubborn French Bourbon kings who Tallyrand said had "learned nothing and forgotten nothing".

FOR MORE: Business finance news - currency market news - online UK currency markets - financial news - Interactive Investor

Dutch celebrate 'Queen's Day' with a mixture of pride and sorrow Netherland's Queen Beatrix goes to lay a white rose next to a monument for spectators killed during last year

The Netherlands on Friday kicked off national celebrations honoring their queen, Beatrix, who this year marks the 30th anniversary of her reign.

Under massive police protection, the queen greeted citizens and visitors to the small village of Wemeldinge in the south of the country, accompanied by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima.

Around 1400 Dutch police secured the streets of Wemeldinge. In addition, only invited guests and citizens that had passed security checks were allowed near the royal procession.


For more: Dutch celebrate 'Queen's Day' with a mixture of pride and sorrow | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 30.04.2010


Russia and Norway Divide the Arctic Sea

Russia and Norway have finally reached an agreement over the demarcation of borders in the Arctic Sea. An announcement was made on 27th April by the President of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, who commented on the conclusions of discussions with the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev.

For more :  Russia and Norway Divide the Arctic Sea Pravda.Ru


Greece Progress Lifts European Stocks’ Spirits - by Neil Shah

Traders in Europe woke up on the right side of the bed this morning. Stocks are up, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index gaining 0.5% and national stock markets in Athens, Dublin and Lisbon rising between 1.5% and 2%.

Greece Progress Lifts European Stocks’ Spirits - MarketBeat - WSJ


4/29/10

Europe’s debt crisis: Storm clouds over Club Med

In the corridors of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, the home of the European Commissioners and their staff, you hear disparaging comments about the Club Med — the Mediterranean member states, including France, Italy, Greece, Spain and (erroneously) Portugal.

EU civil servants see them as freeloaders hooked on subsidies from Brussels that fund fictitious olive groves and fishing boats that scour a sea for disappearing marine life. These cynics have been having a field day with the plight of Greece, where a financial implosion has exposed not just reckless spending but the sovereign equivalent of false accounting. Previous Greek governments hid the level of their borrowings with derivative contracts (courtesy of Goldman Sachs) and then lied about the public finances.

For such offences, Greece has now been shut out of the bond markets. Much more worrying is the spreading infection of rising bond yields in Portugal and Spain. Neither has the scale of structural problems that afflict Greece, nor is their financial reporting in question. But the cost of borrowing for Portugal is now almost double that of Germany. For the moment, Portugal is not at risk but its economy is weak. Its growth over the past boom decade has averaged about 1 per cent, a factor that will hinder efforts to raise enough tax revenues to reduce debt.

The bond markets are in a deficit-intolerant mood. The hot money is flying to growth markets in Asia. No one wants to own debt issued by highly indebted low-growth sovereigns. Why buy Portuguese debt when Brazilian rates are as attractive?

For more: Europe’s debt crisis: Storm clouds over Club Med - Times Online


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Former Soccer Wife Cheryl Cole Beats Marisa Soccer and women: Miller for Title of Sexiest Woman Alive - by Michael Hurley

If you're American and you don't care about soccer, chances are you don't know who Ashley Cole is. So let's make it simple: Ashley Cole is the soccer player who was unfaithful to his wife ... and his wife just so happens to be the sexiest woman alive.

Cheryl Cole, for the second straight year, has been named the Sexiest Woman Alive by FHM.

That wasn't enough for Ashley, apparently, as he reportedly pulled a Tiger Woods with five different women.

For more: Former Soccer Wife Cheryl Cole Beats Marisa Miller for Title of Sexiest Woman Alive - Daily Blend - NESN.com

German Jobless Drops as Economy Shrugs Off Winter, Greek Crisis - by Patrick Donahue and Frances Robinson

German unemployment fell at the fastest pace in more than two years in April as Europe’s largest economy shrugged off the coldest winter in 14 years and a worsening fiscal crisis in the euro region’s periphery.
The number of people out of work declined a seasonally adjusted 68,000 to 3.29 million, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today. The drop was the biggest since January 2008 and exceeded the decline of 10,000 that economists had forecast, based on the median of 30 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent from 8 percent.
The data highlights the split between Germany and its euro- region neighbours such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, which are grappling with mounting budget deficits and higher unemployment rates. Bundesbank President Axel Weber said this week that the German recovery will gather steam this quarter after poor weather curbed construction and spending in the first quarter.
For more: German Jobless Drops as Economy Shrugs Off Winter, Greek Crisis - BusinessWeek

4/28/10

Banking: Out of Control Bank Fees in America

In America when you do what the bank calls a wire transfer, but which basically is an electronic transfer handled by computers from one bank to the other, the sending bank charges a minimum of $20 for sending the funds and the bank retrieving the money charges $ 15.  

Using an ATM costs an average of $1.97 -- and that's when you use your own bank. The average charge for out-of-network ATM fees is $3.43. In addition, overdraft protection has gone up 2.5% in the last year and currently averages $28.95.  If you want to earn interest on your checking account, you need to pay a yearly fee of $12 and keep a minimum balance of $3,500.   

Unfortunately we have had lots of talk,but no banking regulations so far. 

Britain: Caesar the terrier dog and what his appearance ay Edward VIII's funeral tells us about the state of our nation today

An unconventional image dramatically symbolized the grandeur of the British Empire. On a bright morning in early 1910, the funeral cortege for the late Edward VII made its way from Westminster through the streets of central London.

With huge crowds lining the route, a procession of international dignitaries followed behind the coffin, some on horseback, some in carriages. Their number included princes and presidents, emperors and elected leaders. But in front of all of them walked a small dog, his leash held by a kilted Highland soldier. This was Edward’s beloved fox terrier, who bore the appropriately imperial name of Caesar.

At the funeral of Edward VII, the New York Times reported: ‘The varied and gorgeous uniforms of the royal personages gathered from the ends of earth glittered in the summer sun.’ In reality, however, it was a world and Empire on which the sun was setting very quickly.

For more: Caesar the terrier dog and what his appearance ay Edward VIII's funeral tells us about the state of our nation today | Mail Online

Catholic Church needs total reform ( and women must be part of that equation) - by Pat Power

The current crisis facing the Catholic Church arising out of sexual abuse is arguably the most serious challenge the Church has faced since the Reformation in the 16th century. The response must in the first instance be clearly focused on the victims of such abuse, their families and other secondary victims. The untold damage done to innocent people and its life-long consequences in many cases need to be clearly and honestly acknowledged. I am pleased where every effort is being made to see that justice is done for those affected and where all possible measures are being taken to bring about healing and reparation.

The reform needed by the Church today will involve much more than just “tinkering around the edges”. Issues such as the authoritarian nature of the Church, compulsory celibacy for the clergy, the participation of women in the Church, the teaching on sexuality in all aspects cannot be brushed aside. Listening must be a key component of reform and at times that will involve listening to unpalatable truths. It needs to be recognized that all wisdom does not reside exclusively in the present all male leadership of the Church and that the voices of the faithful must be heard.

Let us not forget it was largely Jesus’ female disciples who stood by him dying on Calvary, that Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the resurrection and that she could legitimately be called an apostle in that she was sent to bring the good news to the other followers of Jesus. Would the Church be in its present state of crisis if women had been part of the decision-making in the life of the Church.

Note EU-Digest: Hear hear...


For more: Catholic Church needs total reform - Eureka Street

Anglo-French Freemasonry, Naïve Russia: Authors of the Assassination of Pres. Kaczynski of Poland - by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

The fact that England´s one time one-penny newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, found it necessary to have one of his one-penny staffers publish an urged and premature denunciation of what the so-called conspiracy theorists may have later identified as reasons for the assassination of Poland´s president Lech Kaczynski demonstrates the absolute paranoia of the ruling elite that plunged the entire Mankind in the unprecedented and abysmal chaos of our times.

Paranoia is an utterly inhuman situation; the normal, human reaction of someone rejecting the assassination scenario would be to first wait until the day a commentator or analyst publishes an analysis of the reasons for which the air plane crash should be interpreted as an assassination, and then come up with a refutation.

For more: American Chronicle | Anglo-French Freemasonry, Naïve Russia: Authors of the Assassination of Pres. Kaczynski of Poland

4/27/10

Turkey: Noah’s Ark Has Been Found in Mount Ararat, Turkey

The Biblical Noah’s Ark has been found in Mount Ararat, Turkey according to a Chinese-Turkish evangelical exploration team. They said they are 99.99 percent sure that this is the Noah’s Ark set to ride the flood that swept the entire world 4,800 years ago.

The exploration team is claiming that the Noah’s Ark found fits the description in the Bible – it has the exact length noted in the bible which is 300 Egyptian cubit or 515 feet. Also, they have analysed the wood they have found in the interior and it has been carbon-dated to 48,000 years ago – the same time of the Noah’s Ark.

Paul Zimansky, a historian and an archaeologist at Stony Brook University, specializes in studying the region around Mount Ararat. He said that Mount Ararat, also called Mount Urartu, is believed to be the resting zone of the Noah’s Ark.

For more: Noah’s Ark Has Been Found in Mount Ararat, Turkey • Gwabble

Wireless Navigation: TomTom to offer real-time traffic info in Europe | Wireless

TomTom's Go Live 1000 navigation device, set for a European launch this summer, will offer real-time connection for traffic, weather, and fuel info on the European continent. The connectivity across 33 European countries will come via Vodafone. That service will be free for the first year and cost 50 euros (about $67) annually after that. The GPS device itself doesn't have a price tag or exact launch date yet.

The Go Live 1000 will feature a 500MHz ARM 11 CPU, 4GB of storage, 128MB of RAM, and a new user interface based on the open-source WebKit browser engine.

With TomTom's IQ Routes tech, the device will review past traffic patterns to plan routes. TomTom's HD Traffic system will analyze and show traffic flows and jams to continually determine the fastest route, the company said. The device will be able to download updates and new services remotely via an integrated modem.

For more: TomTom to offer real-time traffic info in Europe | Wireless - CNET News

Goldman Saga Could Take Heat Off Greece - MarketBeat - WSJ

Today’s grilling of Goldman Sachs Group by the U.S. Senate is likely to be the main event for traders around the world. That could temporarily ease tensions in Europe’s wobbly bond markets, where fears of full-blown contagion from Greece’s debt problems are growing.

Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein will tell the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that his firm didn’t consistently bet against the residential housing market or bet against clients. Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shocked markets by alleging that Goldman and trader Fabrice Tourre committed fraud by selling a mortgage-related security without telling investors that a hedge-fund betting against the deal had helped create it.

It’s a sure bet that traders in the City, London’s financial district, will be breaking out the popcorn and turning on the TVs when the Senate hearing commences around 10 a.m. Washington, DC-time. The schadenfreude is almost palpable; many of Goldman’s long-time rivals probably feel like the firm hasn’t stumbled during this financial crisis as much as it should have.

For more: Goldman Saga Could Take Heat Off Greece - MarketBeat - WSJ

Soccer: Rising star Oar believes time is right for Europe move

Teenage Socceroos sensation Tommy Oar is confident he's making a move to Europe at the perfect time to further his promising career.

The 18-year-old World Cup hopeful, who impressed on debut for Australia against Indonesia last month, will link up with Dutch club FC Utrecht next season on a five-year deal.

Oar will be accompanied by former Brisbane Roar teammates Michael Zullo and Adam Sarota, who were each signed for three seasons in a package deal with the A-League club.

For more: Rising star Oar believes time is right for Europe move

US Economy: Will The Next Crisis Bankrupt America?

"I was disturbed to learn after 9/11 that various intelligence agencies did not always share information with one another. I thought we learned something from that, but apparently not." said Anton R. Valukas, Examiner, Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy before the Committee on Financial Services, United States House of Representatives.

For more: Lawrence G. McDonald: Will The Next Crisis Bankrupt America?





4/26/10

Financial octopus-vampires on the attack against Portugal- by Mario Queiroz

Worrying economic indicators and gloomy forecasts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are rapidly making Portugal a magnet for international speculative capital.

Independent lawmaker Rui Tavares, a historian, writing in the local press, described the international financial actors preparing to attack the fragile Portuguese economy as "gigantic octopus-vampires" that manipulate markets to make money.

The IMF revised its 2010 forecast for Portugal's economic growth sharply downward on Apr. 20.

EU-Digest: After going after Greece financial speculators now are taking on Portugal and not a sole dares to stop them Where are the promised regulations.

For more: Portugal Faces Carve-Up by Financial Speculators - IPS ipsnews.net

Consumer always has to pay up: Air fares 'to rise 5% after ash'

The ash cloud crisis and soaring oil prices are likely to mean a 5.2% rise in air fares this year, according to new figures.  And fares could go up by a further 11.5% in 2011, sending the average cost of a London to New York economy class ticket up by £62.

The figures came from a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research produced for e-commerce company Kelkoo.

It put the cost to airlines of the ash-induced northern European airports' shutdown at around Euro 1.5 billion by the end of last week.



EU to overhaul air traffic system after ash chaos - by Slobodan Lekic

The European Union (EU) will this week start overhauling its air traffic control system after the crisis caused by volcanic ash, which turned much of Europe into a no-fly zone for days.

“The worst is over, but a huge amount of work must be done to deal with crisis management,” EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said.

Germany has invited aviation experts, EU officials and industry representatives to Berlin tomorrow to discuss setting air travel standards, and Spain — which holds the EU’s rotating presidency — said EU transport ministers would meet next Tuesday for talks on a unified European airspace.

For more: BusinessDay - EU to overhaul air traffic system after ash chaos


4/25/10

Germany and France get tough with Greece - Crisis : news, world | euronews

Europe’s economic big boys France and Germany have promised to take a hardline with Greece in exchange for financial support. French finance minister Christine Lagarde insisted she will hold Athens to account after it was forced to go cap in hand to the EU and IMF on Friday for a massive bailout.

Serious doubts have emerged over whether the 45 billion euros asked for will be enough. Germany’s finance chief Wolfgang Schäuble also said further difficult steps by Greece were needed to grapple with its deficit.

For more: Germany and France get tough with Greece - Crisis : news, world | euronews

US officials watched internet porn during recession

US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials meant to mend the economy during the recession spent much of their working hours surfing the internet for pornography instead.

An investigation by the SEC at the request of Senator Chuck Grassley found 31 employees of SEC spent hours on the commission's official computers looking at pornography sites over the past two and a half years, ABC News reported Friday.

Seventeen of the offenders were senior officers with salaries ranging from $100,000 to $222,000 per year.

One senior attorney at the headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing internet porn. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices, the report said.

For more: US officials watched internet porn during recession


Putin says: Russia can fuel Europe for a century

Austria has joined Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia in agreeing to host sections of the Russian South Stream gas pipeline to Southeastern, Southern and Central Europe. The pipe will run under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then branch in the directions of Greece, Italy and also Austria and Slovakia. The flow should amount to 65 billion cubic metres a year. Austria alone should get at least 2 billion cubic metres. The pipe’s resource base can ensure a stable supply for at least a century.     

For more: Russia can fuel Europe for a century – Putin: Voice of Russia


4/24/10

UK elections: Thanks to debates, the UK heads for a political crisis

The usual third-running Liberal Democrats party has leapt into second place, and the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties are expected to pick up seats.

The country is heading for a result that is genuinely unpredictable and that promises to spark a full-blown crisis of political legitimacy. It is quite likely that Labour will get the least number of votes but retain the largest number of seats, and the Liberal Democrats will have half the seats of the other parties for about the same vote. Any relationship between voting numbers and representation will be visibly sundered.

This can all be put down to one single cause: the debates. For the first time in British history, party leaders agreed to a series of three debates. Even if Labour achieves only a 28 per cent vote, they will take around 280 seats in the 650-seat Parliament; the Tories on 33 per cent will get 245 seats, and the Lib Dems on 29 per cent will get only around 95. The seats would suggest that the Lib Dems then support Labour, the raw vote would suggest they support the Tories.

For more: Thanks to debates, the UK heads for a political crisis

Obama Says Reforms To Hold Street Accountable Should Continue, Despite Revival In Auto Industry

In his weekly address President Obama said though the auto industry is more stable today and showing the strongest growth in the decade, reforms to hold Wall Street accountable should continue. He added that the reforms would put an end - once and for all - to taxpayer bailouts and restore trust and confidence in market.

Remembering the potentially devastating crisis in auto industry one year ago, Obama said now General Motors announced that it has repaid its loan to taxpayers with interest five years ahead of schedule, and Chrysler Financial has already fully repaid with interest its loan as well.

For more: Obama Says Reforms To Hold Street Accountable Should Continue, Despite Revival In Auto Industry

Iceland volcano: eruption 'could just be rehearsal' for worse ash chaos if Katla blows -by Philip Sherwell

On the first official day of Icelandic summer, a bitter sub-zero wind whipped newly-fallen snow across the majestic mountain glacier that enveloped the crater of the Katla volcano.

The solitude and serenity was disturbed only by the rumbles from its cloud-shrouded and now notorious neighbour Eyjafjallajökull, whose violent eruptions paralysed international air travel for a remarkable week.The usually pristine white wilderness was dotted with dirty smudges of crusty ash deposited in recent days. And several miles below the 2,000 ft thick ice field, the magna chambers of a volcano that has some 10 times the power of Eyjafjallajökull are long "overdue" an eruption after an unprecedented 92 years of inactivity.

For more: Iceland volcano: eruption 'could just be rehearsal' for worse ash chaos if Katla blows - Telegraph

A fateful day for the eurozone - by Gavin Hewitt

Friday will be remembered as the day the euro needed rescuing. Sure it is Greece that has asked to be bailed out but it was still a day that the architects of the single currency had never envisaged. For when it came to it, there were no plans to save a euro member in trouble.

The last few months have been a long, agonising drama. It is the financial markets that have been in the driving seat. The politicians, the eurozone countries, the European Central Bank, the European Union have all played catch-up, scrambling to put together a rescue plan. Now Europe is faced with what is potentially the biggest ever bail-out of a country.

The rescue pot is around £40bn. Two-thirds of it will come from eurozone countries and one-third from the IMF. For a long period, European countries resisted any involvement from the IMF. Pride stood in the way. They feared that the reputation of the euro would be tarnished. It has been. If they had turned to the IMF earlier, however, the pain might have been less and the crisis shorter.

Note EU-Digest: Obviously this is a British viewpoint which by default is always skeptical about the capabilities of any other European country or the EU to be able to handle a crises, but it financial or political.

For more: BBC - Gavin Hewitt's Europe: A fateful day for the eurozone


4/23/10

Wall Street: Three simple fixes for Wall Street's reckless ways

Most thoughtful observers agree that Wall Street's crazy casino culture contributed mightily to last year's global financial crisis, and the economic meltdown that followed.

By manufacturing impenetrably complex debt bombs that promptly exploded in the hands of unwary investors, Wall Street's pocket-lining paper shufflers brought the financial system to its knees.

While Wall Street is already back to its old ways, racking up huge profits and doling out big bonuses, American taxpayers are stuck with the tab. They'll be paying the price for years.

For more:Three simple fixes for Wall Street's reckless ways

A Turkish Martin Luther? -Dr. Elie Elhadj

The BBC reported on February 26, 2008 that Turkey's Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University's School of Theology to carry out a revision of the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet. An adviser to the project says some of the sayings can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society.

Turkey, yet again takes the lead in trying to usher the Muslim world into the modern age. However, the challenge ahead is formidable. Accusations of heresy and apostasy will be flying around by those who have an interest in maintaining the status quo—Islamists, extremist ulama and their political benefactors, especially from the Arab world. The following explains the nature of the controversy and the reasons for being cautious with guarded optimism.

Is Turkey's undertaking likely to succeed? Among moderate Muslims, the answer is positive. However, among the orthodox, especially among the Arab orthodox, the answer is negative. The Quran describes the Arab peoples as the "best people evolved to mankind" (3:110). The Prophet, His companions, the Quran, and the Sanctuaries in Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem are all Arabic. Arabs feel they are the guardians of an Arabic religion.

For more: A Turkish Martin Luther? :: Weekly Blitz

British Elections: Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg also wins debate

Following tonight’s second leadership debate held in Bristol, a snap poll held by The Drum has found that Nick Clegg has once again been voted the winner by the creative industries.

Tonight’s debate, broadcast on Sky News, saw 60 percent of voters choose the Liberal Democrat Leader as the winner of tonight’s debate, following his victory in the first debate last week.

23 percent voted for Prime Minister Gordon Brown as tonight’s winner, while 16 percent voted for Conservative Leader David Cameron.

For more: Nick Clegg wins second general election leaders' debate Drum poll - News - THE DRUM - Advertising, Design, Media, Marketing, Digital, PR - News, Information & Jobs


Belgian Government Collapses, Economy At Risk

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme's government collapsed Thursday after the Flemish liberal party pulled out of his five-month-old coalition, causing a crisis that could damage its fragile economy.

Leterme, 49, tendered his government's resignation to King Albert after an emergency cabinet meeting, but the monarch did not immediately decide whether to accept it.

"The king and the prime minister jointly underlined that, in the current circumstances, a political crisis would be inopportune and would seriously damage both the economic and social well-being of the citizens and the role of Belgium in Europe," the palace said in a written statement.

For more: Belgian Government Collapses, Economy At Risk - NYTimes.com


Soccer and Sex: France's World Cup soccer team also has a sex scandal - Game On!: Covering the Latest Sports News

Remember when sex scandals were limited mostly to movie stars and politicians? The sports world continues to catch up, with France's soccer team for the World Cup now engulfed in allegations of improper behavior.

Police in Paris are investigating whether France's soccer superstar and two other players on the French team had sex with an underage girl who's alleged to have been working for a suspected prostitution ring at a Paris night club.

For more: France's World Cup soccer team also has a sex scandal - Game On!: Covering the Latest Sports News

Soccer - Europe: UEFA Champions League photos

Soccer: Great soccer pictures from the UEFA Champions league

For more: UEFA Champions League photos | Soccer | Sports | Toronto Sun

4/22/10

France: Cool Spas on the Côte d'Azur - France Today

Set back on 17 acres of landscaped gardens at the tip of the lush Cap Ferrat peninsula, between Nice and Monaco, the stately Belle-Epoque Grand-Hôtel du Cap Ferrat reopened last May after a massive 14-month, €75 million renovation headed by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The transformation from palatial but fussy Old World decor to pristine white understated chic goes well with the hotel's new star attraction: a contemporary wing that includes 8 exclusive suites with plunge pools and an elegant 8,000 sq ft spa, built into the coastal rock. The vast luminous space is divided into 5 treatment rooms, a heated indoor pool with counter-current jet streams and a gym and fitness area with a state-of-the-art Gyrotonic machine for strengthening and toning. Couples can splurge on the Grand Salon, which features a private steam-room hammam, sauna and bath for two. The wide choice of treatments featuring the Italian beauty line Comfort Zone as well as Carita products includes ritual massages with hot volcanic stones or Mediterranean essential oils. Highlights: the one-hour Promenade Botanique massage, with a relaxing cocktail of ylang-ylang, mimosa, vanilla and jasmine; and the Provençal Fraicheur massage-a toning detox with cardamom, bergamot and lavender. The body treatments range from a 75-minute firming and anti-age session to the signature, one-hour-and-45-minute Tranquility Experience. And then there's the exceptional four-hour-and-15-minute Sculpting Gold Perfection extravaganza. Afterwards, it's time to relax in the pine-shaded garden to sip freshly brewed herbal teas and gaze at the turquoise

For more: Cool Spas on the Côte d'Azur

Berlusconi and Fini go for each other’s throats

A public clash of operatic proportions in Italy threatens to undermine the government.
Conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his main coalition partner went at it with a vengeance at a conference of their PDL party in Rome.

The gloves came off when Gianfranco Fini, a co-founder of the ruling Party of Freedom criticised Berlusconi’s leadership. Fini is now speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.

He accused the media mogul premier of giving too much power to the pro-autonomy Northern League, and of stifling internal party debate. When Berlusconi spoke against Fini, Fini hurled back: “What are you saying? Are you going to kick me out?”

For more: Berlusconi and Fini go for each other’s throats - Politics : news, world | euronews

German house in landmark vote on Iceland EU membership - by Valentine Pop



The Bundestag on Thursday (22 April) is set to hold a landmark vote on European affairs, with the first binding EU recommendation for its government to follow in respect to Iceland's membership bid to join the bloc.   Although not a controversial one, the vote is a premiere in German politics, after lawmakers acquired a greater say on the government's EU policies. These extra powers were key for the Bundestag last year to approve the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new legal framework, which the German constitutional court said did not provide enough parliamentary oversight.

For more: EUobserver / German house in landmark vote on Iceland EU membership



4/21/10

Frozen Fish Help Reel in Germany's Wind Power

One of renewable energy’s most vexing issues is the sheer variability of wind and solar power. It’s a headache for managers of the power system, whose customers need a steady, predictable stream of electricity. Germany is feeling the pain as a leader in alternative power, with 7 percent of its electricity from wind energy -- one of the highest rates in the world.

In short, Germany’s electric grid operators need a place to store all that wind power. And in Cuxhaven, they think they’ve found an answer -- in frozen fish.

For more: Frozen Fish Help Reel in Germany's Wind Power

France awaits clearer EU strategy on e-cars

France's ambitious national strategy on electric cars is awaiting a clearer position from the European Union, EurActiv France reports. French Ecology and Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo unveiled a national strategy in October 2009, with 14 concrete steps to encourage the development of electric and rechargeable hybrid cars. The objective is to put two million electric vehicles on France’s roads by 2020.

For more: France awaits clearer EU strategy on e-cars | EurActiv

4/20/10

Iceland volcano eruption update: New ash cloud causes new headaches

Hopes that the Eyjafjallajökull volcano was starting to die down were dashed Tuesday when new eruptions spewed ash up more than 15,000 feet into the atmosphere, sending a new cloud of ash toward Europe.

“Eruptions from Eyjafjallajökull have continued overnight with debris being emitted up to 4 to 5 km (13,100-16,400 feet) for much of the time,” Britain‘s Met Office reported. “Weather patterns continue to blow areas of ash towards the UK.”

For more: Iceland volcano eruption update: New ash cloud causes new headaches

Volcanic Ash: Flower industry - > Europe > BeNeLux Flight cancellations hurt flower industry from Amsterdam to Africa

“When it’s spring again, I’ll bring again, tulips from Amsterdam …” except, that is, when a giant cloud of volcanic dust shuts down Europe’s air space.

Dutch flower traders have been among the companies hardest hit by the flight ban across Europe that has blocked the export routes of their highly perishable products.

Millions of tulips and other blooms that, at this time of the year, would normally be winging their way across the Atlantic from the flowerbeds of Holland have been grounded. Exporters have being forced to throw them in the trash.

For more: Volcanic Ash | Flower industry | Amsterdam | Kenya

US economy: Obama should forge ahead with financial reforms

It's appalling that banks are fighting to continue the same kind of behind-the-curtain risky trading of derivatives that brought this nation to its knees. Even worse, some members of Congress are right with them, opposing the Obama administration's efforts to overhaul the financial regulatory system.

President Barack Obama needs to make his case to the public that his Wall Street reforms are a reasonable safeguard against the behavior that triggered our economic collapse. He should make it impossible for elected officials to pretend that the status quo is in the public interest. The Security and Exchange Commission's lawsuit filed last week against Goldman Sachs, which is accused of selling mortgage investments that were set up to fail, gives the president a good place to start.

When Congress takes up the issue this week, its priority must be to bring transparency to the trillion-dollar derivatives market. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the opposition to the proposed legislation. That's rich: McConnell's biggest campaign contributors are big banks, who have lined his pockets with more than a million dollars over the past five years. The Kentucky Republican is making noise about wanting to ensure that the bill prevents future taxpayer-funded bailouts. Don't be distracted. The real fight is over derivatives.

For more: Editorial: Obama should forge ahead with financial reforms - San Jose Mercury News


4/19/10

EU to resume limited air traffic Tuesday even after NATO fighter suffers engine damage after flying through ash cloud

European officials carved up the sky Monday, creating three zones to more quickly break the flight deadlock caused by volcanic ash flowing from Iceland over Europe. Many more flights will be able to take off on Tuesday, the bloc said. European countries can resume airline traffic in designated "caution zones" where the threat of ash is considered less dangerous, French officials said after a meeting of the bloc's 27 transport ministers.

A senior Western diplomat said Monday that several NATO F-16 fighters had flown through the ash cloud, and one had suffered engine damage from glasslike deposits - evidence that the danger from the cloud is real.

For more: EU to resume limited air traffic Tuesday

Financial Community: Goldman Sachs Fraud Charges Could Shift the Winds on Wall Street

As chatter about an economic resurgence picked up steam lately, much of Wall Street was envisioning a dreamlike scenario for stocks. After all, in a recent survey a third of portfolio managers recently forecast skyrocketing earnings, with low interest rates remaining low -- the highest percentage ever with such a forecast.

But any investors still harboring such overly rosy outlooks may be in for a rude awakening. And the metaphorical cold water in their faces could well be the formal charges of fraud that the SEC leveled against investment powerhouse Goldman Sachs (GS) this week. Just as some on Wall Street were set to coast once again, the charges are a stark reminder that the consequences of a financial crisis that caused soaring unemployment and ravaged retirement savings are hardly a thing of the past.

Shares of Goldman Sachs got pounded and created a broader market sell-off on Friday, despite the firm's assurances that it would vigorously contest the charges. Even if it stakes out a careful legal argument, though, massive amounts of damage have already been done.

Iceland eruption tapering off, spewing lava and less ash

Iceland's erupting volcano began Monday to shoot molten lava and significantly less ash, stoking hopes that the volcanic cloud paralysing air travel across Europe will disperse.

A commercial helicopter pilot who flew over Eyjafjoell volcano in southern Iceland on Monday told AFP he saw fiery lava in the crater.

"We saw the eruption changing from being explosions of ash," Reynir Petursson said, resting by his helicopter in the village of Hofelstroem.

For more: Iceland eruption tapering off, spewing lava and less ash

Goldman Sachs: Too Big To Obey The Law - This is not Capitalism this is complete fraud

On a short-term tactical basis, Goldman Sachs clearly has little to fear.  It has relatively deep pockets and will fight the securities “Fab” allegations tooth and nail; resolving that case, through all the appeals stages, will take many years.  Friday’s announcement had a significant negative impact on the market perception of Goldman’s franchise value – partly because what they are accused of doing to unsuspecting customers is so disgusting.  But, as a Bank of America analyst (Guy Mozkowski) points out this morning, the dollar amount of this specific allegation is small relative to Goldman’s overall business and – frankly – Goldman’s market position is so strong that most customers feel a lack of plausible alternatives.

The main action, obviously, is in the potential widening of the investigation (good articles in the WSJ today, but behind their paywall).  This is likely to include more Goldman deals as well as other major banks, most of which are generally presumed to have engaged in at least roughly parallel activities – although the precise degree of nondisclosure for adverse material information presumably varied.  Two congressmen have reasonably already drawn the link to the AIG bailout (how much of that was made necessary by fundamentally fraudulent transactions?), Gordon Brown is piling on (a regulatory sheep trying to squeeze into wolf’s clothing for election day on May 6), and the German government would dearly love to blame the governance problems in its own banks (e.g., IKB) on someone else.

But as the White House surveys the battlefield this morning and considers how best to press home the advantage, one major fact dominates.  Any pursuit of Goldman and others through our legal system increases uncertainty and could even cause a political run on the bank – through politicians and class action lawsuits piling on.



For more : The Baseline Scenario


Ash could hit Canadian coast: forecasters

Forecast charts show the ash could touch Canada from about 1200 GMT, and forecaster Bob Syvret told AFP: “It does suggest that the remnants of the volcanic plume may be appearing near the Newfoundland area.”

He said this was likely the remnants of the first eruption of the Eyjafjoell volcano on Wednesday, which has been carried over on an area of high pressure.


For more: Ash could hit Canadian coast: forecasters - Times LIVE

4/18/10

Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel attack Goldman Sachs | Business | The Guardian

A crisis gripping Goldman Sachs deepened today as Britain and Germany moved towards joining the US in pursuing a fraud investigation against the Wall Street bank for allegedly fiddling clients out of $1bn ($650m) through a misleading mortgage investment deal. Gordon Brown ordered a special investigation into Goldman, accusing the bank of "moral bankruptcy". He threatened to block multimillion-pound bonus payouts if the firm is found guilty of wrongdoing. In Berlin, Angela Merkel's government said it had sought information from the US Securities and Exchange Commission with a view to evaluating "legal steps" against Goldman.

A London-based Goldman Sachs director, Fabrice Tourre, who is accused of masterminding the fraud, is still working as usual, although efforts by Sunday newspapers to track the Frenchman down to his flat near Sadler's Wells theatre in north London were unsuccessful. A Goldman spokeswoman said: "He's still an employee. He hasn't been suspended."

The case against Goldman has sent a ripple through the financial services industry, with analysts predicting it could be the first of many against similarly structured mortgage instruments known as collateralised debt obligations. The SEC's action took place amid wrangling in Congress over an overhaul of Wall Street regulation, where Republicans object to the scope of moves proposed by the administration. Goldman could face fresh opprobrium on Tuesday, when it is due to publish its financial results for the first quarter of the year and is forecast to reveal revenue of more than $10bn – of which nearly $5bn could be earmarked for employee pay.

For more: Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel attack Goldman Sachs | Business | The Guardian

World Economy: The dominoes are tumling in the US and China while Goldman Sachs gets sued by US Government for fraud

The benchmark MICEX Index dropped by the most in more than two months Friday after oil fell and China's moves to cool real-estate speculation quelled appetite for riskier assets.
Stocks fell to their lows of the day after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Goldman Sachs Group for fraud tied to packaging and selling collateralized debt obligations. Rosneft and Gazprom both fell by more than 2 percent. The 30-stock MICEX Index slumped 2.3 percent to 1,495.08 at the close in Moscow, paring its weekly gain to 0.1 percent.

"Oil is lower, and there are external factors such as the fear China is curbing its growth, which will hit a natural resource economy like Russia," said Andrei Kuznetsov, a strategist at Troika Dialog. China on Friday raised requirements for down payments on some home purchases, fueling speculation that it might tighten policy further to cool growth, slowing a global recovery.

For more: MICEX Falls on Oil Price Drop | Business | The Moscow Times

Ash cloud hits Turkey, airspace closed

Massive ash clouds from a volcanic eruption in Iceland have reached Turkey, forcing the shutdown of airspace over three provinces in the country's north, the air authority says.

"The volcanic ash clouds have begun affecting the airspace of our country," the Directorate of Civil Aviation said in a statement on its website on Sunday. Airspace at an altitude between 20,000 and 35,000 feet over the Black Sea provinces of Zonguldak, Sinop and Samsun was closed at 1330 GMT (2330 AEST) on Sunday until 0900 GMT (1900 AEST) on Monday, it said.

From 0900 GMT Monday, the ash was likely to also affect airspace over Istanbul, Turkey's largest city and the hub of its domestic and international air traffic, directorate head Ali Ariduru told Anatolia news agency.


For more: Ash cloud hits Turkey, airspace closed

Volcano in Iceland affects many sporting events in Europe

The volcanic ash plume drifting over Europe is threatening this week's Champions League and Europa League soccer semifinals. With flights canceled across the continent — and activity in the Icelandic volcano showing no signs of abating — teams have had to scramble with travel arrangements. The disruptions also extend to cycling, the Boston Marathon and pro wrestling.

In Champions League soccer, Barcelona must travel to Inter Milan for a match scheduled for Tuesday, and Lyon is to play at Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Two English clubs are supposed to be on the road Thursday in the Europa League — Liverpool at Atletico Madrid and Fulham at Hamburg. "If there are no flights then the only option is to get a train and bus to Hamburg," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said Saturday. But "there could still be a further problem because there might be no trains or (buses) to travel on."

Several top cyclists will miss Sunday's Amstel Gold race in the Netherlands. Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre and Bradley Wiggins are unable to race because their flights have been canceled.

For the complete report: digest - STLtoday.com

Why the Icelandic volcano eruption could herald more disruption - Times Online

The unprecedented no-fly zone currently in force across much of Europe has already caused the greatest chaos to air travel since the Second World War. Thousands of flights have been canceled or postponed with millions of travel plans affected. It has been estimated that shutting down the UK’s airspace alone over the weekend could cost airlines over 100 million EUROS, with the share price of some leading airlines already taking a hit.

The wider economic consequence to our ‘just-in-time’ society is incalculable at this stage given the disruption to holidays, business plans and indeed the wider business supply chain. However, the global cost of the disruption will surely ultimately result in a cost of billions rather than hundreds of millions of EURO's.

For more: Why the Icelandic volcano eruption could herald more disruption - Times Online

4/17/10

Airspace closure extended until Saturday evening

Flights from London and much of the rest of Britain will remain grounded until this evening because of the cloud of volcanic ash looming over northern Europe, air traffic controllers confirmed.

A brief window may be open for flights from Manchester, Liverpool and other airports in the North from 4am but the ash cloud is expected to close them down again by 10am. In Scotland and Northern Ireland some services were able to be operated yesterday and are likely to be able to continue today, but for the south of England the volcanic ash from Iceland is expected to continue to disrupt travel across the weekend.

British Airways decided last night that all its flights in and out of London today will be grounded and it is watching the situation carefully before it makes a decision on services tomorrow.

For more:: Airspace closure extended until Saturday evening - News & Advice, Travel - The Independent

4/16/10

Turkey: Fear of 'missionaries' blamed for martyrdom of 3 Christians - by Bob Unruh

A new video about the martyrdom of three Christian workers at the hands of Islamic activists in Turkey reveals that while the government's case against the alleged killers continues in turmoil and confusion, the Christian community in the Muslim nation views the tragedy as "the will of God".

"Malayta," available now as the April 18 third anniversary of the deaths approaches, is from Austin Stone Community Church, Voice of the Martyrs and Family Christian Movies. It tells the story of the martyrdom of Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske and Ugur Yuksel. The three, who were working at a Christian publishing house, had agreed to meet with several young Muslim men who expressed interest in the Bible.

Authorities have reported the Muslims first demanded that one of the Christians convert to Islam. When he refused, they pulled knives and tied up, tortured and stabbed the Christians for several hours before their throats were slit.

For more: Fear of 'missionaries' blamed for martyrdom of 3 Christians

UK Election debate: Nick Clegg Liberal Democrat emerges victorious - by Murray Wardrop

The Liberal Democrat leader stole the advantage in three instant polls following the live clash with Tory leader David Cameron and Gordon Brown on ITV.

Exploiting his equal billing with the two main party leaders, Mr Clegg presented himself as the voice of “fairness” and challenged his rivals to be honest with the public. 

His tactics appeared to have paid off with three separate polls putting Mr Clegg far ahead of Mr Cameron and Mr Brown.   Research by YouGov for The Sun in the immediate aftermath of the 90-minute session suggested the Lib Dem leader had impressed voters most.

For more: Election debate: Nick Clegg emerges victorious - Telegraph


Turkey: Babacan - "5.5 percent growth could bring us back to 2008"

A 5.5 percent growth rate in 2010 could help recoup the Turkish economy’s 2009 losses and return the country to the performance of 2008, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has said.
Speaking on a program on CNNTurk, Ali Babacan noted that if the economy can achieve a 5 to 5.5 percent growth rate in 2010, then Turkey will be back to its 2008 levels and will have fully put the economic crisis behind. Babacan noted that the İstanbul Stock Exchange (İMKB) was also welcoming the signs of recovery and had “decoupled from global stock markets” in the past few months.

For more: Babacan: 5.5 percent growth could bring us back to 2008


Europe struggles with Muslim dress code

Chances of seeing a burqa in Belgium are only a little better than spotting a liquor shop in Saudi Arabia. Yet Belgium soon may be the first European nation to outlaw the burqa and other Islamic garb that completely hides a woman's body and face.

Neighboring France and the Netherlands may also outlaw attire that is viewed by many in western European societies as demeaning to women. It also is considered a gateway to radical Islam, a fear that is stoking rightwing sentiment across the continent.

"There is all-party public support for this," says Leen Dierick, a conservative member of the Belgian parliament's Interior Affairs committee that unanimously backed the proposed ban March 31. The initiative is expected become law in July and would apply to all public places, including streets.

For more: The Associated Press: Europe struggles with Muslim dress code

No Fez in the EU say the Bulgarian Nationalist Party

The Bulgarian nationalist party VMRO is making formal steps to call a referendum on Turkey’s EU accession.

On Friday, the party will formally notify the Parliament on its intention to start collecting signatures in order to request the holding of a national referendum, as required by law.

The VMRO is initiating the motion on the grounds of the Direct Participation of Citizens in State Authority and Local Government Act adopted in 2009. If the VMRO party manages to get enough signatures, it will call the first referendum in Bulgaria’s post-1989 history.

For more: Bulgaria: Bulgaria Nationalists Move to Call Referendum on Turkey EU Accession - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency

Greece Probably Won΄t Need Financial Aid-German FinMin - www.capital.gr

Greece will probably not need to activate the aid program outlined by Eurogroup, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said German radio Suedwestrundfunk Friday Dow Jones Newswires reports.

"We still believe that the Greek are on the right track and that they might not have to assume the aid in the end," Schaeuble was quoted as saying.

He noted that in case Greece decided to get the EU backed loans, it "must pay the market interest rate. We cannot give any interest subsidy, this would cease the validity of the European Stability Pact."

For more: Greece Probably Won΄t Need Financial Aid-German FinMin - www.capital.gr

4/15/10

HP Faces Bribery Probe In Russia and Germany

Authorities in both Germany and Russia are investigating allegations that executives at Hewlett-Packard paid millions of dollars in bribes in order to secure an IT contract in Russia.

Prosecutors in the eastern German city of Dresden apparently sought the assistance of their Russian counterparts in order to search HP’s offices in Moscow, so that documents could be seized relating to suspicions that around 8 million euros ($10.9 million) in bribes was paid to win a contract, according to Reuters and other news outlets.

For more: HP Faces Bribery Probe In Russia and Germany | eWEEK Europe UK

Sarkozy, Berlusconi push EU for border climate levy

The European Union's executive must work out ways to impose a climate levy on imports from countries which do not make efforts to combat global warming, the leaders of France and Italy said in a joint letter Thursday.The EU has already put in place laws aimed at forcing industry to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, but member states fear that that could force European companies to relocate to other territories with less strict rules, the so-called "carbon leakage."

For more: Sarkozy, Berlusconi push EU for border climate levy - Summary | Earth Times News

Europe's Stepchildren: Will Reconciliation Efforts in Cyprus Fail? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The Turkish residents of Northern Cyprus will go to the polls to elect a new president on Sunday. The future of their internationally ostracized republic, the most isolated in Europe, is at stake. A solution to the three-decade division between Greek southern Cyprus and the Turkish northern part of the island is nowhere in sight.

Some 1,400 Greek Cypriots have filed petitions with the European Court of Human Rights for the return of their property in the north, and €70 million ($94 million) in compensation has been paid. No money flows in the other direction, not officially, at least. The Republic of Cyprus is holding properties formerly owned by Turks "in trust" until the conflict is fully resolved, or it simply compensates the former Turkish owners, as in the case of a Turkish Cypriot who fled to England and received more than a half-million euros under the table.

For more: Europe's Stepchildren: Will Reconciliation Efforts in Cyprus Fail? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Iceland Volcanic Ash Disrupts Flights From Amsterdam And Brussels

The Amsterdam airport requested passengers to follow the news closely and to check with their airline whether their flight will depart before coming to the airport.

The Brussels airport said in a statement that " chances are that Brussels Airport will be forced to suspend all flights in the course of the day.

For more: Iceland Volcanic Ash Disrupts Flights From Amsterdam And Brussels | Eurasia Review


Icelandic volcanic ash cripples European airports

Airports across Europe were closed and thousands of passengers stranded Thursday after a giant ash cloud emanating from an Icelandic volcano filled the air space.
Britain announced that its air space would be closed to all but emergency flights from noon to 6 p.m. GMT, including at London’s massive Heathrow Airport, which services 180,000 passengers a day. Similar closings were in effect over Ireland and parts of Scandinavia.

For more: Icelandic volcanic ash cripples European airports - thestar.com

4/14/10

French prosecutors oppose US extradition of Iranian engineer

French prosecutors on Wednesday opposed a US request to extradite an Iranian engineer accused by US authorities of buying sensitive technology and illegally exporting them to Iran.

Majid Kakavand, 37, is wanted for trial in the United States on charges of violating export laws on dual-use technology that could be used for military purposes 

During a court hearing in Paris, the prosecutors noted that the French arms agency DGA had concluded that the electronics  components purchased by Kakavand could not be considered as potentially dangerous dual-use technology.

For more: French prosecutors oppose US extradition of Iranian engineer < | Expatica France


Lakers, Knicks, T-Wolves to play preseason games in Europe

The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves will head to Europe in October for preseason games in four cities, it was announced Tuesday. It is the fifth consecutive year that the NBA has had a preseason game in Europe.  "NBA Europe Live and the return of NBA teams to Europe for a fifth consecutive year is a testament to our ongoing commitment to grow the game of basketball and engage our fans in the region," said NBA commissioner David Stern.

The four-game schedule begins on October 3 in Milan, Italy, where the Knicks will play Armani Jeans Milano at the Mediolanum Forum. AJ Milano is the former team of current New York forward Danilo Gallinari and Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni, who is Milano's all-time leading scorer.

For more: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: NBA


Korea: ING Netherlands-based global insurer fourth in terms of insurance premium income in Korea


The life insurance industry has been led by big three players ― Samsung, Korea and Kyobo Life Insurance ― with the rest of the pack behind them. While there is little argument regarding who are the "big three," there is fierce competition going on to snatch the title of the number four spot in the industry.

"ING Life Insurance was the fourth in terms of insurance premium income last year," said a spokesperson at the Korea Life Insurance Association (KLIA). Having the position here, however, doesn't necessarily mean great news for the Netherlands-based global insurer.


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US Nuclear Security Summit: EU President Herman van Rompuy - "every country should ratify 1980 convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials"

President Barack Obama's Nuclear Security Summit is calling on all the 47 countries involved to cooperate in spreading global acceptance of an existing treaty that aims to crack down on potential nuclear terrorism.
The final documents from the two-day nuclear summit includes a statement from the United States that says the Obama administration has submitted to Congress legislation to bring U.S. laws into line with that treaty and one on the physical protection of nuclear materials.
Obama called the summit to focus world attention on keeping nuclear materials out of terrorist hands, what he termed the greatest threat facing all nations

Note EU-Digest: European Union President Herman van Rompuy called on all countries to sign and ratify the convention on the 1980 Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which was amended in 2005 to require states to protect such materials even when not in transit.
"Nuclear terrorism... represents a most serious threat to international security with potentially devastating consequences to our societies," Van Rompuy said.

For more: Summit urges acceptance of nuke terrorism treaty - KansasCity.com



EU President Van Rompuy emerges with his reputation enhanced - by Ben Hall and Joshua Chaffin

Herman Van Rompuy, who was named as the first president of the European Council to general surprise four months ago, still describes himself as a "grey mouse". But the unassuming and self-deprecating Belgian is perhaps the one senior EU figure who has emerged from the tussle over how to help Greece with his reputation enhanced. Mr Van Rompuy, who represents the leaders of the 27 EU member states, acquired new responsibilities at the summit in Brussels giving the permanent presidency greater authority in the EU's complex institutional hierarchy.

It will be Mr van Rompuy and not the European Commission, the EU's policy-making body, that will lead a review of the EU's fiscal rules and make proposals for strengthening economic policy co-ordination. Mr Van Rompuy also slotted into the role of chairman of the 16 eurozone leaders, even though it is not formally his job.

Asked whether he had staged a power grab, Mr Van Rompuy replied disarmingly: "From grey mouse to putschist. That was quick."

For more: FT.com / UK - Van Rompuy emerges with his reputation enhanced

EU President Van Rompuy keen to shift some EU summits out of Brussels

Just four months after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, centralising EU policy-making in Brussels, the union's new president, Herman van Rompuy, has suggested that EU summits should from time-to-time take place in the member state holding the rotating EU presidency.

Speaking to press in Vienna on Tuesday (6 April) during his first official visit to Austria as President of the European Union, Mr Rompuy said: "It would be a good idea if at least one major event, such as the European Council, was held in the member state holding the rotating presidency ...That would be a symbol that Europe is not just Brussels, but the 27 member states.

For more: EUobserver / Van Rompuy keen to shift some EU summits out of Brussels

4/13/10

Malta: Luga local council demands the removal phallic symbol monument before Pope's visit

Luqa local council has demanded the removal of the 'monument of shame' opposite the Lidl supermarket, before the Pope's visit.

In a statement issued today, Mayor John Schembri said that the council welcomed the fact that Pope Benedict would be going to Luqa. However, he added, "in the opinion of the council, the Pope's first visit among us risks being a source of embarrassment to the people of Luqa and the Maltese in general, due to the obscene 'monument' (seen as a phallic symbol) which is still dominating the 'LIDL' roundabout on one's entry into the village."

For more: timesofmalta.com - Council seeks removal of Luqa 'vulgar' monument before Pope's visit

British Elections: Conservative Party manifesto: more hot air on the economy – by Jeremy Warner

There is nothing new in there whatsoever to address these issues. All the tax pledges, spending cuts, and to the extent that they are listed at all, planned supply side reforms, have been announced before. So too have plans to set up an independent Office for Budget Responsibility, transfering responsibility for banking supervision back to the Bank of England, and just about everything else that’s in the section labelled “Change the Economy”.

Most of it is just motherhood and apple pie and to the extent that the Conservatives aspire to a more balanced economy based less on housing and financial services, and more on exports, savings and investment, no different from either of the other two main political parties.

As for making Britain the most tax competitive economy in the G20 within five years, dream on. That’s not going to happen; the deficit is too big to allow for the scale of tax cuts necessary to achieve this ambition in one parliament. The manifesto also says that by far the larger part of the burden of deficit reduction will fall on spending cuts rather than tax rises.

For more: Conservative Party manifesto: more hot air on the economy – Telegraph Blogs

Germany's E.U. Policy Shift Reflects Generational Change - by JUDY DEMPSEY and STEPHEN CASTLE

Germany no longer seems satisfied playing the role of the gentle giant of Europe.

As Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled Monday to the United States for a series of meetings across the country, she is now seen by her European and American counterparts as a leader reluctant to commit her nation to its traditional posture in Europe of Continental paymaster and cooperative solution-seeker. “In the past, Germany gave in to Europe,” said Nicolaus Heinen, an economic and European policy analyst at Deutsche Bank Research. “There was a social consensus due to the huge economic gains from the internal market.”

But now that “the war generation is stepping down, and Germany increasingly recognizes the new role it plays in Europe after reunification,” Mr. Heinen said, “this consensus is over, both in the Chancellery and among voters.”

For more: News Analysis - Germany's E.U. Policy Shift Reflects Generational Change - NYTimes.com

GOP, Wall Street working a cynical scam on taxpayers - by Jay Bookman

It’s all a sham, a shameless, cynical game of chicken. When crunch time came on Oct. 1, 2008, that bold free-marketer Mitch McConnell and 31 of his fellow Republican senators voted in favor of the TARP bailout to save Wall Street. That was their chance to prove just how deeply this supposed free-market purity ran in their souls, and they folded. Now, less than two years later, they claim to have reclaimed their religion. Once again, the official Republican position is that the biggest banks must be allowed to fail in order to maintain market discipline. They aren’t bothered by the fact that economists almost unanimously reject that course as impractical. They don’t care that had we followed that course in the most recent meltdown, the consequences would have made our current difficulties seem petty by comparison.

The Democrats acknowledge that government intervention is a possibility and are trying to set up a system to rationalize it and minimize the risk to taxpayers. For example, if Uncle Sam is going to be Wall Steet’s ultimate savior, the Dems insist that the banks accept rules to make a rescue less likely, including more transparency and regulations regarding derivatives. They also want Wall Street, not taxpayers, to contribute financially to a $50 billion pool that would be used to fund such a rescue should it be necessary.

For more: GOP, Wall Street working a cynical scam on taxpayers | Jay Bookman

India can surpass US economy in three decades: Economist

India can emerge as the world's second largest economy in the year 2039, bigger than the US, if its GDP continues to grow at the rate of 8-9%, says a senior economist.

Former senior advisor and a director at the World Bank, Harinder Kohli, said India's average per capita income would jump 22 times from $940 two years to $22,000 in 30 years from now, in that scenario. "India's footprint in global economy will go to more than 17% in 2039 from less than 2% in 2007".

For more: India can surpass US economy in three decades: Economist - The Times of India