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6/30/10

EU Economy: Trichet Press Conference

President of the ECB Jean Claude Trichet in his press conference after holding the interest rate unchanged at 1.00% in June said the economy started to rebound from spring with the improvement in weather conditions. He predicts economic growth to be at a moderate pace over the medium term as balance sheet adjustments and high unemployment will affect the progress seen recently. 

Trichet raised the euro-area growth forecast for 2010 to 1% from 0.8%, while in 2011 the ECB expects the euro area to expand 1.2%, lower than the previous estimates of 1.5% due to decline in consumer spending
With regard inflation, he confirmed that the current low interest rate is appropriate while the emergency measures are non-standard measures are consistent with the bank's mandate and "temporary in nature." price stability is predicted to remain maintained over the medium term, while inflation projections stay tightly anchored.

For more: Trichet Press Conference - Forex News | IBTimesFX

European Union triples number of banks for stress tests

In what could be a key step toward cleaning up a sector reeling from the collapse of a decade-long housing boom, Spain's central bank outlined details overnight behind a state-financed bank rescue fund that it said will support a “historic” consolidation of the country's savings banks.

The Bank of Spain said it authorised injecting €11 billion ($15.8bn) in public funds to aid in the restructuring and bolster the balance sheets of the merged banks.

At the same time, the European Union said it would triple the number of banks subject to public stress tests to allay a growing global anxiety over the bloc’s finance sectors.

For more: European Union triples number of banks for stress tests | The Australian

US Economy: ADP National Employment Report Shows U.S. Employment Increased by 13,000 Private Sector Jobs in June

ROSELAND, NJ, Jun 30, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- According to today's ADP National Employment Report(R), private sector employment increased by 13,000 from May to June on a seasonally adjusted basis. The ADP National Employment Report, created by Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP(R)), in partnership with Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC, is derived from actual payroll data and measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month

For more: ADP National Employment Report Shows U.S. Employment Increased by 13,000 Private Sector Jobs in June - MarketWatch

Aircraft Industry: Boeing finds problem in 787 Dreamliners’ tail

The delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliners may be further delayed with the company deciding to inspect the entire fleet after finding assembly problems in the tail area on some of the 23 completed planes.

Air India and Jet Airways have ordered 27 and 10 of the planes, already more than two and a half years late to market. In all 866 Dreamliners have been ordered by 57 customers worldwide.

For Boeing, the latest issue with the new plane puts additional pressure on the company’s ambitious flight-test schedule, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Boeing last December gave itself roughly a year to complete thousands of hours of flight tests to receive government certification before delivering the first plane to All Nippon Airways Co. sometime before the end of the year.

For more: Boeing finds problem in 787 Dreamliners’ tail | CalcuttaTube

Euro, S&P 500 Rise on Optimism on Europe Banks, Manufacturing - By Michael P. Regan and Rita Nazareth

The euro rallied and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded from an eight-month low on signs that funding pressure for European lenders is easing and American manufacturing is withstanding turmoil in financial markets.

The shared European currency jumped 0.9 percent to $1.2291 at 11:59 a.m. in New York and rebounded 0.7 percent from an eight-year low against the yen. The S&P 500, which plunged 3.1 percent yesterday, rose 0.6 percent to 1,046.92 to trim its quarterly decline to 10.5 percent. Treasury 2-year yields increased four basis points from a record low and 10-year yields rose three basis point to 2.98.

Banks advanced after the European Central Bank said it will lend 131.9 billion euros ($161.5 billion) for three months, less than economists forecast and easing concern the region’s lenders will struggle for funding after a 12-month ECB lending program expires. Industrial shares led the gain the S&P 500 as the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said its gauge of U.S. business activity expanded for a ninth month.

For more: Euro, S&P 500 Rise on Optimism on Europe Banks, Manufacturing - BusinessWeek

6/29/10

Wins and losses for EU at G20 - by Andrew Willis

A range of compromise agreements enabled leaders to save face on Sunday (27 June) as the Group of 20 meeting in Canada drew to a close. A declaration on cutting national budgetary deficits in half by 2013 was heralded as a victory by EU politicians, but European hopes for a global bank levy fell by the wayside.

Weak language in the final communique highlighted the divergency of views on a global bank levy, with countries that avoided the worst of the financial crisis such as Canada, Australia and Brazil, opposing the idea.

Should countries such as Germany, France and the UK decide to push ahead anyway, the weekend's decision means European levies are likely to be smaller as a result, in order to prevent banks simply moving to more lenient jurisdictions.

For more: EUobserver / Wins and losses for EU at G20

China: The Renminbi Runaround - by Paul Krugman

"Last weekend China announced a change in its currency policy, a move clearly intended to head off pressure from the United States and other countries at this weekend’s G-20 summit meeting. Unfortunately, the new policy doesn’t address the real issue, which is that China has been promoting its exports at the rest of the world’s expense.

In fact, far from representing a step in the right direction, the Chinese announcement was an exercise in bad faith — an attempt to exploit U.S. restraint. To keep the rhetorical temperature down, the Obama administration has used diplomatic language in its efforts to persuade the Chinese government to end its bad behavior.

The proof that China is, in fact, keeping the value of its currency, the renminbi, artificially low is precisely the fact that the central bank is accumulating so many dollars, euros and other foreign assets — more than $2 trillion worth so far. There have been all sorts of calculations purporting to show that the renminbi isn’t really undervalued, or at least not by much. But if the renminbi isn’t deeply undervalued, why has China had to buy around $1 billion a day of foreign currency to keep it from rising?

So what comes next? China’s government is clearly trying to string the rest of us along, putting off action until something — it’s hard to say what — comes up. That’s not acceptable. China needs to stop giving us the runaround and deliver real change. And if it refuses, it’s time to talk about trade sanctions."

For more: Op-Ed Columnist - The Renminbi Runaround - NYTimes.com

G20: Dear Deficit Hawks: At Least Get Your Facts Straight...Sovereign Debt Crisis not caused by the Welfare State

Sovereign Debt Crisis not caused by the Welfare State : The rush by the rich and powerful to punish the trouble-causing working poor goes against strong evidence that the current sovereign debt crisis is not caused by high social welfare expenditure, but by a sudden drop in government revenue due to economic recession caused by credit market failure under fraudulent accounting allowed in structured finance for which the financial elite are directly and exclusively responsible.

Through devious “special purpose vehicles”, the sole special purpose of which is to treat proceeds from debt issuance as revenue from sales to remove financial liability from government balance sheets to present a deceptively robust picture of public finance, phantom profits are siphoned off from the general economy into the pockets of greed-infested financiers while pushing the real economy out of balance, resulting in high real public debts that inadequate aggregate worker income cannot possibly sustain. As a portion of GDP, wages and benefits have been falling in past decades while the public debt has been rising. Transnational financial institutions routinely generate profits larger than government revenue of small economies.

Despite propagandist distortion, the sovereign debt problem has not been caused by the high cost of a welfare state; it has been caused by deregulated financial markets that allowed governments to borrow huge sums against future revenue from public sector enterprises without showing the liabilities on government balance sheets. Structured finance was providing participating governments with up-front cash while hiding the sovereign debts that had to be paid back in the future. But the bulk of the borrowed money went to the pockets of deal-makers of public sector privatization while the debts were left with society at large. A large amount of the national wealth is transferred from the local economy to international speculators through legalized manipulation made possible by deregulated financial market globalization. It is a new form of synthetic financial manipulation against weak economies through a scheme of naked shorts against the currencies and equities of vulnerable nations.

6/28/10

Netherlands vs Slovakia: Shades of Clockwork Orange as Arjen Robben returns - by Matthew Clark,

The star Dutch winger who missed almost the whole first round of the World Cup due to an injury returned in style today with a lovely left-footed goal off a curling long ball from teammate Wesley Sneijder.
The Netherlands vs. Slovakia match seemed like just another day at the office for Robben, who scores goals like that with some regularity at Bayern Munich. And, for much of the first half, the Dutch looked reminiscent of the 1970’s “Clockwork Orange” squad that punished opponents with systematic crisp passing and fast runs to space, capped off with precision goal-scoring.

Now soccer fans worldwide will be drooling over the prospect of a Netherlands-Brazil quarterfinal later this week. As impressive as Holland was today, they will not be able to beat Brazil if they give away the types of chances they gave the Slovakians midway through the second half.

For more: Netherlands vs Slovakia: Shades of Clockwork Orange as Arjen Robben returns - CSMonitor.com

The Netherlands: STI Rates Among Swingers

In 2008 the Dutch government set up a system whereby sexual health clinics could track STI rates among swingers in much the same way they do for other groups identified as being at greater risk for STI infections (e.g. men who have sex with men, sex workers, youth). When an individual comes to one of the free clinics for testing they are asked about swinging. Specifically, if they identify themselves as heterosexual, as being part of a couple, and as having sex with other heterosexuals, they're tagged as swingers. Granted this may not be the way everyone would define swinging, but it's something.

Apparently the system isn't getting used consistently across the Netherlands but a team of researchers in South Limburg compiled data from a two year period starting in January 2007 that sheds some light both on demographics and potential risk profiles for swingers. Just under 12% of people coming to the clinics were identified as swingers. This number is much higher than the estimate of 2% of the U.S. adult population which was previously proposed by researchers.

In terms of risk for STIs the paper looked at tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea and noted that swingers, particularly swingers over 45, had a higher prevalence of STIs when tested at the community clinics. In fact they had the second highest rate of combined STIs among the four groups considered (which, in addition to swingers, included men who have sex with men, sex workers, straight people who weren't swingers).

For more: STI Rates Among Swingers

SOCCER: The World Cup Needs Instant Replay Now -- by Clay Travis

Sunday's blown goal call in the Germany and England match needs to be a clarion call from this day forth: The World Cup must have instant replay for all goals or potential goals. In case you missed it, you can watch the goal scored by England's Frank Lampard by clicking here. England went on to lose the match 4-1, but Lampard's goal should have tied the game at 2. Anyone who watched this game, you and I included, immediately realized what a bungled call this was.

After the missed call the British would yield two more goals and march back into the ignominy of another failed World Cup. FIFA officials, who have dealt with blown goal calls the entire tournament, refused to comment upon the latest colossal blunder. Instead FIFA arrogantly relied upon the old tried and true statements once trotted out as weak excuses for why there would be no instant replay in American sports leagues. Namely, that instant replay would represent a slippery slope that would lead to too much review, would be difficult to implement, and make the game worse.

FIFA's position is, essentially, that player and referee errors are a part of the game. That's true, but it's also idiotic. If you can eliminate some referee errors then you magnify the importance of the on-field performance of the players. Which, in the end, is the goal of all sports, right? Allowing the players to determine the outcome. Just imagine what would have happened if England and Germany had been playing in the World Cup Final and England had lost after a missed goal like this.

EU-Digest: FIFA is totally wrong in not going for instant replay. Not only the British game was full of mistakes by the officials, but also the Argentina - Mexico meeting allowed a goal by Argentina which was a clear offside for everyone to see except the officials.

For more: The World Cup Needs Instant Replay Now -- Soccer FanHouse

G-20 Differences: Half-Hearted Promises and Mutual Blame - setback for Obama

The G-20 summit in Toronto ended with yet more vague promises. The rich nations pledged to slash their budget deficits, without making any real commitments. The result is a setback for President Obama, who failed to find support for new stimulus programs in Europe.

At least Chancellor Angela Merkel managed to look happy. The German team had just beaten England 4:1 at the World Cup as a radiant Merkel addressed the press at the summit of the 20 leading developed and emerging economies in Toronto. "This was a great game and a great victory," she said after watching the second half of the game together with British Prime Minister David Cameron. "I am still very moved."


The chancellor, who was wearing a garish reddish-orange blazer, was in a jubilant mood. She wanted to immediately announce another victory -- this time one of her own. In reality, the results of the G-20 summit are much less impressive than Merkel would have the press believe. The expectations for the Toronto meeting had been low -- and they were not exceeded.

For more: G-20 Differences: Half-Hearted Promises and Mutual Blame - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

6/27/10

World Cup 2010 TV Schedules, Listings for World Cup Video Highlights & Streaming

For the upcoming schedules of the world cup soocer games click here: Live Soccer TV - World Cup 2010 TV Schedules, Listings for World Cup Video Highlights & Streaming

Economic confidence will be restored by action, not soothing words - by Kevin Carmichael and Grant Robertson

Soothing words from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders were an important start after more than a week of heated debate over whether the recovery is best assured by more austerity or more stimulus. But ultimately, confidence only will be assured by action, or at least a credible pledge in black-and-white that action will be delivered when promised. Soothing words from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders were an important start after more than a week of heated debate over whether the recovery is best assured by more austerity or more stimulus. But ultimately, confidence only will be assured by action, or at least a credible pledge in black-and-white that action will be delivered when promised.

For more: Economic confidence will be restored by action, not soothing words - The Globe and Mail

6/26/10

EU fat cats paid more than UK prime minister

"The bloated salaries of the Brussels gravy train sparked outrage yesterday after it emerged that over 1,000 Eurocrats are paid more than the Prime Minister. His annual income of £142,500 is dwarfed by Herman Van Rompuy, who earns £245,000 plus expenses as EU President, partly funded by hard-working ­British taxpayers.
Mr Van Rompuy, EU foreign minister Lady Ashton, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, head up a list of 1,023 Euro fat cats who have bigger ­salaries than David Cameron.
Six vice-presidents and 19 commissioners are paid between £57,000 and £103,000 more than the PM and 90 of the EU’s 995 civil servants earning £146,267 to £179,703 are British.

Note EU-Digest: the question is not so much related to the justification for such high EU salaries, but rather the lack of transparency about the income and expenses of the EU staff.

For more: Express.co.uk - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: EU fat cats paid more than UK prime minister

Cigars out as Sarkozy cuts perks ahead of austerity plan - by RUADHÁN Mac CORMAIC

Lavish Bastille Day garden party and ministers’ Cuban cigars are to be sacrificed in the name of economic recovery as the French government seeks to show that ministers are sharing the pain of their austerity drive.
With his government attempting to raise the retirement age and bracing people for cuts of €45 billion in public spending, president Nicolas Sarkozy has said ministers must lead by example and reduce their own budgets. France has not yet set out a detailed austerity package, but the national auditing office recently called for urgent moves to trim the deficit.

Two months ago, Mr Fillon ordered ministers to take only commercial flights after his state secretary for overseas development, Alain Joyandet, spent €116,500 chartering a private jet to attend a conference in Martinique.
Another perk in peril is the free Paris flat that goes automatically with cabinet rank, whether needed or not.

Cigars out as Sarkozy cuts perks ahead of austerity plan - The Irish Times - Sat, Jun 26, 2010

G20 set to tackle sharp differences over economic policy - by Les Whittington Bruce Campion-Smith

The fledgling G20 faces its first real test this weekend as world leaders arrive in Toronto sharply divided over how to keep the global economy from sliding back into recession.

The group, which includes the United States, Canada and other rich nations as well as newly developed economic powerhouses such as China and India, came to prominence in 2008 in a unified campaign to combat the spreading recession. Together, they have pledged $5 trillion in economic stimulus spending.
But now summit host Prime Minister Stephen Harper is confronted with a deep split over economic policy that pits U.S. President Barack Obama against European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

G20 set to tackle sharp differences over economic policy - thestar.com

G20 summit: Rifts in Toronto as US warns EU of double-dip recession risk - by Patrick Winfour and Larry Elliot

Signs of deep rifts at the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto over how quickly governments should cut deficits added to financial market jitters today, with the Americans warning of the dangers of a double dip recession if all countries started to rein back spending at once.

The leading European economies, especially Germany, are putting a new emphasis on cutting back government spending, and there is a possibility that a G20 communique, due to be released on Sunday , will set out an indicative timetable of how far and fast countries should retrench spending.

David Cameron, making his first appearance at a world summit and packing in a frantic round of bilaterals to start building personal relations, was praised by the summits' host for his deficit slashing budget earlier this week.

For more: G20 summit: Rifts in Toronto as US warns EU of double-dip recession risk | World news | The Guardian

Court rules no right to gay marriage in Europe | World | News | Toronto Sun

European law does not require countries to grant same-sex couples the right to marry, even if some states have already done so, the continent’s top human rights court has ruled. The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected an appeal by two Austrian men who said their country’s refusal to allow same-sex marriage violated the right to marry and prohibition of discrimination in European rights law.
The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe, which promotes democracy and the rule of law among its 47 member states. Its rulings are binding on Council members since they have signed the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The court observed that, among Council of Europe member states, there is no consensus regarding same-sex marriage,” the ECHR said in a statement on Thursday. Only 7 of the Council’s 47 members have approved same-sex marriage.

For more: Court rules no right to gay marriage in Europe | World | News | Toronto Sun

6/25/10

G20: Exclusive: Chinese Self-Interest Contrives Phony Currency "Reform" - by William R.Hawkins

There is an old saying that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” So how much shame is associated from being fooled 50 times, or 100? With the G20 summit set for June 26-27 in Toronto, Canada, the People’s Republic of China has again talked of reforming its fiat exchange rate policy in an attempt to defuse what is likely to be a major issue of contention among the G20. Beijing is confident that, as in the past, appeasement-oriented academic, media and business interests will accept whatever the Chinese say in order to avoid a confrontation. The United States, in particular, will again accept words over actions so as to avoid taking any counter-measures itself---or so Beijing hopes.

Beijing will not “free up” its policy nor does it have any desire to make its trade partners “happy.” The Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times quoted a People’s Bank of China spokesman as stating, "With the BOP account moving closer to equilibrium, the basis for large-scale appreciation of the RMB exchange rate does not exist” and “The exchange rate floating bands will remain the same as previously announced.” Beijing is interested in protecting its own interests, which means maintaining favorable imbalances, not correcting them.
American pressure on China to abandon its currency manipulation, which comes mainly from Congress rather than the White House, is aimed at reducing the massive U.S. trade deficit and regenerating jobs in domestic manufacturing. Yet, this is exactly what Beijing’s policy will not allow.

For more: Exclusive: Chinese Self-Interest Contrives Phony Currency “Reform” » Publications » Family Security Matters

US deficit unsustainable: Pete Peterson and the US Deficit - by DAVID LEONHARDT

Some commentators have vilified Peter Peterson, the investor and former Commerce secretary, for raising alarms about the deficit. They argue that Mr. Peterson is really trying to shred the American safety net. I’m not among the vilifiers. We should be taking the deficit more seriously, and Mr. Peterson is trying to make that happen.

Also read Making sense of our $61.9 trillion bill

6/24/10

Health Care: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, - Netherlands the best

Despite having the most costly health system in the world, the United States consistently underperforms on most dimensions of performance, relative to other countries. This report—an update to three earlier editions—includes data from seven countries and incorporates patients' and physicians' survey results on care experiences and ratings on dimensions of care. Compared with six other nations—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. Newly enacted health reform legislation in the U.S. will start to address these problems by extending coverage to those without and helping to close gaps in coverage—leading to improved disease management, care coordination, and better outcomes over time.

Among the seven nations studied—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last overall, as it did in the 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity. The Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the U.K. and Australia. The 2010 edition includes data from the seven countries and incorporates patients' and physicians' survey results on care experiences and ratings on various dimensions of care.

For the complete report: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2010 Update - The Commonwealth Fund

U.S. Outlook: Confidence Waning in Obama.

Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama's leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation's economy and environment. Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama's tenure.

Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years.

For more: Confidence Waning in Obama, U.S. Outlook - WSJ.com

Dutch political leader's call to rename Jordan, Palestine angers Jordanians

The Islamic Action Front in Jordan has urged its government to convene with the Dutch Ambassador in Amman in order to present her with an official letter of protest to remarks made by Geert Wilder a right-winged leader in Holland.

The Muslim Brotherhood offshoot slammed Wilder's remarks and his call for annulling its recognition with the Arab Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and to rename it " Palestine ". The IAF referred to the very idea of changing their country's name was a complete and unacceptable violation to the sovereignty of Jorda.

Note EU-Digest: One might not agree with what Mr.Wilders says, but regardless, he is able to say what he wants. That is because the Netherlands and the EU respect the right of free speech

For more: Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website

World leaders and their issues before G-20 summit

Leaders of the world's major industrial countries, representing 85 percent of the global economy, will meet in Canada starting Friday for economic summits of the Group of Eight and G-20 nations. This report looks at selected countries and their leaders.

For the complete report click here: The Associated Press: World leaders and their issues before G-20 summit

Europe digs in on budget austerity ahead of G20 | Reuters

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said it was wrong to claim that budget austerity would cause stagnation, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would stick to plans to save 80 billion euros in the next four years, its biggest program of fiscal cutbacks since World War Two.

"We'll enact the measures that we've agreed upon," Merkel said in an interview with German ARD television broadcast on Thursday morning. "I believe we should not let up."

After winning plaudits for guiding the world economy through the financial crisis, splits have emerged among Group of 20 powers over which policy priority ought to take precedence now -- supporting still-shaky growth or shrinking budget deficits. Markets remain jittery about the debt crisis and the risk of an economic slowdown in the run-up to the meeting of G20 leaders this weekend, with the cost of protecting government debt against default hitting a record high for Greece and jumping in other peripheral countries such as Portugal.

For more: Europe digs in on budget austerity ahead of G20 | Reuters

6/23/10

For more: Towards a system to secure the euro - by Jean Pisani-Ferry

Eurozone governance was for long a name without a game. The crisis, however, has brought much-needed clarity. Discussions are now focusing on three areas: strengthening of budgetary discipline; surveillance of the eurozone countries’ competitiveness; and provisions for crisis management.

This is a sensible agenda. The failure of surveillance over the past 10 years needs to be remedied because, in spite of multiple procedures, it was markets, not peer pressure, that in the end forced adjustments. The system needs to be rebalanced because the exclusive focus on public accounts distracted attention from bubbles in the private economy. It also needs to be complemented, because the belief that crisis prevention made crisis management superfluous was proved wrong by events.

For more: FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Towards a system to secure the euro

The world would love to be Canadian - by Joe Friesen

More than half of people around the world say they would abandon their homelands and move to Canada if they could.

Given the choice, 53 per cent of adults in the world's 24 leading economies said they would immigrate to Canada, according to an international survey commissioned by the Historica-Dominion Institute in partnership with the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Aurea Foundation.

It's a startling finding, one that is reinforced by respondents' overwhelmingly positive attitudes about Canada's welcoming and tolerant treatment of newcomers. The results bode well for Canada's efforts to attract highly educated immigrants as the global search for talent heats up in coming years.

For more: The world would love to be Canadian - The Globe and Mail

Freedom of Expression: OSCE calls on Turkey to stop blocking YouTube

Europe's main human rights and security body told Turkey on Tuesday to stop blocking Google's video-sharing website YouTube and thousands of other sites banned under its internet law.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the law, introduced in 2007, has been expanded to bar over 5,000 sites in the past two years and is severely damaging freedom of expression and information rights.

"I ask the Turkish authorities to revoke the blocking provisions that prevent citizens from being part of today's global information society," the OSCE's media freedoms chief Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement.

For more: OSCE calls on Turkey to stop blocking YouTube - Reuters -

Rich Are Getting Richer: something is out of Sync

Even as the world went through the worst recession since the 1930s the rich still managed to grow richer last year. Remarkable!

A furious stock market rebound helped the world's list of millionaires climb 17 percent to 10 million, while their total wealth rose 19 percent to $39 trillion. Stock values rose by half and hedge funds recouped most of their losses from 2008.

Bank of America wealth management chief Sallie Krawcheck said, "We are already seeing distinct sings of recovery and, in some areas, a complete return to 2007 levels of wealth and growth."

The fastest growth in wealth took place in India, China and Brazil. Asia's millionaires rose to 3 million, matching Europe for the first time.


For more: Rich Getting Richer | Benzinga.com

6/22/10

US Political Scene: Voters Say Hillary More Qualified To Be President Than Obama, Romney, Gingrich, Palin

U.S. voters think Hillary Clinton is more qualified to be president than Barack Obama, but most believe that both Democrats are more fit for the White House than three top Republicans interested in the job.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% of voters feel Clinton is qualified to be president, but 34% disagree and say she is not.

As for President Obama, 51% say he is fit for the job. However, 44% say he is not qualified to be president, even though he has now served 17 months in the job.

For more: Voters Say Hillary More Qualified To Be President Than Obama, Romney, Gingrich, Palin - Rasmussen Reports™

EU condemns PKK attacks in Turkey

The Spokesperson of the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Angela Flote, strongly condemned the attack staged on a Turkish military outpost Saturday by PKK.

Filote said Monday that terrorist organization PKK's announcement to re-launch attacks was grave, condemning attacks of the terrorist organization that claimed human lives. She said Kurdish problem needed be solved, noting however that terrorist attacks could not be a solution.

Filote pointed at the Turkish government's democratic initiative as a possible solution to the problem.

For more: EU condemns PKK attacks in Turkey [ WORLD BULLETIN- TURKEY NEWS, WORLD NEWS ]

UK banks hit with $3 bln tax; France, Germany follow

Britain slapped a 2 billion pound (Euro2.50 billion) annual tax on banks on Tuesday and Germany and France said they will follow suit, telling the industry it must pay for its part in the financial crisis. Britain's tax was less harsh than some previous estimates, however, adding to evidence that resistance from other leading economies to imposing similar levies may cap the scale of steps taken by governments.

British banking shares were down on the day but cut their losses after Osborne's speech. "This was a crisis that started in the banking sector and the failures of the banks imposed a huge cost on the rest of society," British finance minister George Osborne said.


For more: UPDATE 2-UK banks hit with $3 bln tax; France, Germany follow | Reuters

Merkel Tells Obama Germany Won’t Heed Calls to Focus on Growth - by Tony Czuczka

Chancellor Angela Merkel championed German export strength as “the right thing” for her country, spurning President Barack Obama’s call to boost private spending as both leaders prepare for Group of 20 talks.

Merkel, addressing a business audience in Berlin today, said she told Obama in a phone call that cutting government debt is “absolutely important for us,” exposing a second point of contention ahead of the June 26-27 G-20 summit in Canada.

Reducing the budget deficit by 10 billion euros ($12 billion) per year “won’t put a brake on the world’s economic growth,” Merkel said, relating what she told Obama yesterday. Germans are more likely to spend money if they feel the government “is taking precautions” to ensure solid finances, she said.

For more: Merkel Tells Obama Germany Won’t Heed Calls to Focus on Growth - BusinessWeek

Health: Private cardiac treatment news: Tea and coffee reduce heart disease risks, study showsDrinking regular cups of tea and coffee can help reduce

Drinking regular cups of tea and coffee can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, a new study has suggested.
A team working at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands looked into the tea and coffee drinking habits of more than 37,000 people, as well at their levels of heart disease over the past 13 years.

They found that tea offers the most heart health benefits, with people who drink between three and six cups a day 45 per cent less likely to suffer coronary problems than adults who drink less than one cup a day.

A similar rate of consumption of coffee was found to reduce the risk of heart disease by around 20 per cent.

For more: Private cardiac treatment news: Tea and coffee reduce heart disease risks, study shows

Soccer Cup: France's World Cup saga continues

Coach Raymond Domenech appeared alone at a news conference to say that some members of the team may not want to play in Tuesday's Group A finale against South Africa.

Note EU-Digest: this is a disgrace for France. The football association should kick out all these arrogant, spoiled and childish acting players, who seem to forget that they are not in charge of the France soccer team.

For more: France's World Cup saga continues - latimes.com

Russia. Gas cut to Belarus over unpaid debts

Russia warned Europe on Monday about cuts in gas supplies after the Kremlin told Gazprom, its state-owned energy giant, to start turning off the tap to Belarus over unpaid debts. Russia cut supplies to Belarus by 15 per cent and threatened to reduce them by 85 per cent unless it settled an unpaid bill of almost $200 million. Belarus transports about 20 per cent of Russia's western-bound gas exports and the flow to Europe was not interrupted after the reduction. Still, the cut-off threatened to repeat previous crises caused when Russia turned off gas supplies to Ukraine and the European Union activated crisis planning measures.

For more: Russia. Gas cut to Belarus over unpaid debts

6/21/10

Europe is in the clear, banks will follow

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Commission said last Thursday that the debt-ridden Greece is on track with the reforms required as part of the rescue package that saved it from bankruptcy, after reviewing progress in the austerity measures the government has been implementing in order to pull the country out of a financial crisis that brought it to the brink of default last month.

To secure the funds, government has taken austerity measures that aim to make its bloated public sector less wasteful and its shrinking economy more competitive. It has pledged to cut its massive budget deficit from 13.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 to be cut sharply to 8.7 percent by the end of this year and to 2.6 percent in 2014.

Across Europe, countries are trying to slash their deficits. Germany plans to cut 80 billion euros in spending over the next four years, while Britain is unveiling an emergency budget this week with cuts to welfare benefits and the wages of state employees.

Spain is pushing through budget cuts and labor reforms that Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero claimed would prevent new redundancies and encourage companies to hire more workers.

For more: Europe is in the clear, banks will follow - The China Post

6/20/10

Freedom of the Press: Suriname journalist attacked by unknown assaillants - by Ivan Cairo

The Surinamese Association of Journalists (SVJ) and the Author's Group '77 (Schrijvers Groep '77) in separate statements have condemned the physical attack on Armand Snijders, editor-in-chief of the monthly publication Parbode.

Snijders, who on the night of June 6 was riding his motorcycle, was run down by a motorcar and subsequently attacked by at least two men who stepped out the vehicle. While lying on the ground, the journalist was repeatedly kicked in the head and face, and also received blows on the body. As a result of the beating Snijders sustained four broken ribs, a fractured collar bone and severe bruses on the body. Snijders said, that while he was being kicked, his attackers repeatedly said that he should stop writing "trash" in the Parbode publications.


For more: Caribbean Net News: Suriname journalist attacked by unknown assaillants

The Post-China World - by Ruchir Sharma

The way the global economy begins a decade reveals little about how it will end. In 2000, the Anglo-Saxon economic model was ascendant and the tech revolution was sweeping the globe. Emerging nations were a mere sideshow to the great Wall Street carnival, attracting less than 5 percent of the money in global stock markets. A decade earlier, the spotlight was trained on Japan, a star that had redefined the global economic stage in the 1980s. As late as the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign, one candidate reviewed the performance this way: “The Cold War is over and Japan has won.” Today, Japan is widely viewed as a washout, and all admiring eyes are on the boom in China, a force so powerful it has lifted the performance of many other economies. Resource-rich countries like Brazil and Australia have achieved global economic acclaim, mainly by selling iron ore, copper, and other commodities to feed the construction spectacle in China. Many big-name investors believe the China boom is set to continue, driven by investment spending.

Now, however, evidence is mounting that China’s growth “miracle” is on the verge of a major slowdown, which could bring the 10 percent growth rate of recent decades down to 6 or 7 percent in coming years. Recent high-profile labor strikes have dramatically called into question the China model, built on cheap labor and exports. And the rate of growth in spending is about to slow, because there are only so many new highways, railways, and ports China can build, and because land and labor costs are rising sharply. Government targets for spending in all these areas are shrinking; the mainland already has more than 65,000 kilometers of highways, the second-largest network behind the United States’ 80,000-plus kilometers. Now, however, evidence is mounting that China’s growth “miracle” is on the verge of a major slowdown, which could bring the 10 percent growth rate of recent decades down to 6 or 7 percent in coming years. Recent high-profile labor strikes have dramatically called into question the China model, built on cheap labor and exports. And the rate of growth in spending is about to slow, because there are only so many new highways, railways, and ports China can build, and because land and labor costs are rising sharply. Government targets for spending in all these areas are shrinking; the mainland already has more than 65,000 kilometers of highways, the second-largest network behind the United States’ 80,000-plus kilometers.

The most popular television show these days is Woju, or “Snail’s Home,” which depicts the despair of average Chinese people amid spiraling apartment prices. To get developers to cut back prices, the government is cracking down hard, increasing minimum down-payment requirements and suspending lending for some new projects. Given that property constitutes a third of all investment spending in China, growth will inevitably slow.

For more from Ruchir Sharma on China - Newsweek

British Economy : The budget for generations is just a gamble from the gut - by Jackie Ashley

Tomorrow we will see a gamble on a monumental scale, one of the greatest in postwar British political history. What George Osborne does in his emergency budget will determine not only his own reputation but the future of the coalition. If he pulls off a drastic reduction in spending and tax rises without revolt at Westminster or in the country, he gives David Cameron his path to future election victory. If he tips the economy into recession, or splits the coalition, everything collapses.

As simple as that? Pretty much, except that this is a gamble with the livelihoods and living standards of millions of people, based on spuriously exact estimates about future trends nobody really understands, and with the gamblers themselves deeply divided in their instincts. After the calm of the early honeymoon days of the coalition, we are heading for wild, high-stakes politics.

Cameron and Osborne have gone around the country, or at least the media, trying to stir up despair. From their jolting words about Britain being changed for generations to come, about everyone sharing the pain, they suggest a budget of ferocious bleakness. Many commentators assume it's the old game of expectation management, and when the detailed figures are announced by the chancellor there will be a whistle of relief and a few choruses of "good old George" in the Dog and Duck.

For more: The budget for generations is just a gamble from the gut | Jackie Ashley | Comment is free | The Guardian

Germany blasts minister's blocked entry to Gaza

Germany on Sunday slammed Israel for preventing Development Minister Dirk Niebel from entering the Gaza Strip to meet with Palestinian refugees during his current visit to the region."Refusing a German development minister entry to the Gaza Strip is a great foreign policy mistake on the part of the Israeli government," Niebel told the online edition of the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper.

"I am saddened that Israel is making it so difficult for its truest friend to understand its actions."

Niebel wanted to visit the Hamas-run Palestinian territory Sunday to meet representatives of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement in Berlin that he also "regretted" the decision by the Israeli government, and underlined that Germany and the European Union want to see an end to the Gaza blockade.

For more: AFP: Germany blasts minister's blocked entry to Gaza

Cameron fights new Brussels power grab over national budgets at his first EU summit

David Cameron faced down a Brussels bid to dictate British economic policy yesterday, but warned the UK must be 'on guard' against future power grabs.

He enjoyed a political 'love-in' with fellow European leaders, who marked his first trip to Brussels as Prime Minister with a traditional English breakfast of bacon and eggs. Mr Cameron warned, however, that he faces much tougher battles ahead with Brussels.

EU- Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Nicolas Sarkozy meet David and Samantha Cameron

Charles de Gaulle could never be accused of a lack of self-regard, and the same could be said of the wife of his modern-day successor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Carla Bruni posed her way through a visit to London by France’s first couple yesterday marking the 70th anniversary of the BBC broadcast by de Gaulle, in which he appealed to his countrymen to fight on against Nazi Germany following the fall of France. Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, one-time model, singer and subject of speculation about the state of her marriage, flirted with the cameras throughout the visit, which included an inspection of the studio at Broadcasting House used by de Gaulle to record his broadcast on June 18 1940.



For more: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Nicolas Sarkozy meet David and Samantha Cameron - Telegraph

Germany, France Find Need For Economic Governance In EU27

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed that more integrated economic governance is needed in the 27 nations of Europe. Both Germany and France expressed determination to speak with one voice.

Two leaders also noted that creating new institutions will not solve the problem. Merkel and Sarkozy talked to media after a summit on Monday, which was initially supposed to start in Berlin a week ago.

Merkel and Sarkozy in a joint letter will urge the chairman of G20 meeting to speed up reforms in financial regulation. They will also seek support for a financial transaction tax and bank levy. If a nation impose tax unilaterally, banks will move to other nations that have no such taxes.

For more: Germany, France Find Need For Economic Governance In EU27 | Daily Markets

U.S. once again cast as world's consumer of last resort

As Europe cuts spending and China again floods the globe with low-cost goods, Americans are once more being cast as the world's consumers of last resort.

With U.S. unemployment still near 10% and workers' incomes largely flat, that may be a prescription for fresh trouble. One factor keeping the world out of balance, the Obama administration and many experts contend, has been China's policy of keeping the value of its currency artificially low, allowing the Asian giant to keep churning out exports.

In a surprise move Saturday praised by President Obama, Beijing said it would allow more flexibility in exchange rates. But the Chinese statement, which was light on details, suggested that any change would be gradual. How fast the global economy can evolve will also turn on how much spending patterns change in the biggest economies, especially America's.

For more: U.S. once again cast as world's consumer of last resort - Los Angeles Times

Sarkozy whirls among European powers to coordinate stance

Within a week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a whirlwind visit to Germany, Britain, Russia and Brussels where EU leaders just had their summit, trying to tune up and harmonize European voices on international economic governance.

The attempt was made right before the G20 and G8 summits on economic governance.

Regarding bilateral issues of political ties, security consensus and business contracts, the French president got almost all he wanted, but in terms of Europe-wide economic governance and global financial regulation, Sarkozy had both gains and losses.

For more: Sarkozy whirls among European powers to coordinate stance

Italy alerts Europe over blue German mozzarellas

Mozzarella cheese imported from Germany has turned up blue in some shops in the north of the country, triggering a Europe-wide alert by the health ministry. The ministry alerted European and German authorities after police seized about 70,000 mozzarellas in northern Italy which had been made at a German factory, it said in a statement.

The blue mozzarellas could be caused by bacteria, newspapers said today, quoting tests by a Venice specialist institute. The bacteria does not appear to be hazardous to health, they added.

For more: Italy alerts Europe over blue German mozzarellas | WORLD News

6/19/10

Does anyone have a view on how Norway fits into the global picture?

Here in Norway, the crisis is over, and never really started. We’ve divested ourselves of most parts of our industrial-export companies over the last decades, and are currently mainly selling oil and fish, produced at competitive production costs. The state is a net buyer of foreign debt, and government deficit spending is financed by over-consuming the interest from the 0.5 trillion USD ‘oil fund’, at a few ten-billion USD a year. Hardly a critical situation as I see it for now.

Privately held debt is fairly high, with the banks being the prime debtors (bank-issued debt is at about USD50k pr citizen - source http://www.ssb.no/brutgjeld/tab-2010-06-…). At the peak of the crisis, the banking-sector was bailed out as ‘too big to fail’, so that’s certainly a risk factor.

I’d also worry about the energy-dependency of the fish-industry, but I have not yet had any chance to investigate what’ll happen there if oil-production drops significantly.

For more: Does anyone have a view on how Norway fits into the global picture? | The Market Financial | Stock Market & Wall Street News

Estonia Wins EU Clearance to Switch to Euro in January

Estonia won the go-ahead to become the 17th country using the euro starting in January, as European Union leaders set aside the central bank’s concerns that the Baltic state risks higher inflation.

The decision to admit Estonia, a former Soviet republic that entered the EU in 2004, reflects the EU’s determination not to let the Greece-fueled debt crisis in western Europe derail plans to widen the currency bloc to the east.

EU leaders lauded Estonia’s economic management, hailing “the convergence it has achieved, based on sound economic and financial policies,” according to a statement prepared for today’s Brussels summit.

For more: Estonia Wins EU Clearance to Switch to Euro in January - BusinessWeek

EU to Push Levies on Banks, Financial-Transaction Tax at G-20

European Union leaders vowed to push for global taxes on banks and financial transactions, setting the stage for a conflict over worldwide regulation at next week’s Group of 20 meeting.

With Germany, Britain and France pledging to impose levies on their own banks and to clamp down on financial speculation, the EU called for global taxes that have run into opposition from G-20 powers such as China.

“We want a system of levies and taxes for financial institutions to ensure fair burden-sharing and rein in systemic risks,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels yesterday. “We also want a global system.”

EU to Push Levies on Banks, Financial-Transaction Tax at G-20 - BusinessWeek

France, Russia vow to promote global role of G-20

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday that he wanted to work with Russia to give developing nations a larger say in how to regulate the global economy.

Global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund — created at the Bretton Woods conference in New Hampshire 1944 — are outdated and must be replaced, Sarkozy told an economic forum in St. Petersburg hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"We all need to think about the foundations for a new international financial system. We've been based on the Bretton Woods institutions of 1945, when our American friends were the only superpower," Sarkozy said. "My question is: Are we still in 1945? The answer here is, 'no,'" he said.


For more: The Associated Press: France, Russia vow to promote global role of G-20

Key US economic index shows slower recovery

A key index tracking the US economy rose slightly in May after being flat a month earlier but recovery from recession is expected to slow, the Conference Board said on Thursday.

The business research firm's forward-looking leading economic index (LEI) rose 0.4 percent after April's 0.1 percent decline was revised to no change.

The financial components made the largest positive contributions to the index, more than offsetting the substantial negative contributions from stock prices and building permits, the board said.

Note EU-Digest: the underlying problem of the US economy is that it is still based on being consumer driven and that no-one is seriously addressing that problem.

For more: Channel NewsAsia - Key US economic index shows slower recovery - channelnewsasia.com

Time to Get Serious About Energy - by Dirk van Dijk

In his speech on Tuesday night, President Obama called for the country to move towards more renewable sources of energy and for limiting our dependence on oil. That call has a “Groundhog Day” quality to it, as every president since Richard Nixon has essentially made the same plea, and the same promise to do something about it. However, ever since the days of Nixon, our use of oil, and particularly imported oil, has done nothing but go up.

The simple fact is that we use carbon-based fuels because they are the cheapest form of energy around. Cheap if you only count the direct costs of extraction and getting the energy to the consumer. There are, however, vast costs that are not captured in the price. The recent and ongoing BP (BP - Analyst Report) oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is simply one aspect of it. The gains from drilling for oil in deepwater go mostly to the companies that drill for it, and indirectly to consumers of the fuel. The costs are largely borne by the wider society.

If the price of a gallon of gas were high enough, people would start to buy more fuel efficient cars, and the automakers would rush to build ever more efficient vehicles. If there were a significant price on carbon, you would not have to tell utility executives not to build new coal fired plants and build wind farms instead -- they would do so because it would be in the clear self interest of their shareholders.

For more: Time to Get Serious About Energy - Zacks.com

6/18/10

Netherlands' social democrats renew push for purple coalition

The social democratic Labour Party (PvdA) on Friday renewed its calls for a centre-left "purple" coalition to govern the Netherlands, after efforts to create a new right-leaning government featuring the far-right Islamophobe Geert Wilders failed on Thursday.Such a centre-left government would feature the PvdA and the liberal Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) as main partners, along with the smaller left-liberal Democrats 66 and GreenLeft parties.

For more: Netherlands' social democrats renew push for purple coalition | Earth Times News

Spain optimism and stress tests boost euro assets

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn gave the Spanish government a vote of confidence, saying on a visit to Madrid that its reform plans went "absolutely in the right direction."

The comments and Spain's readiness to make public resilience tests for its banks allayed concerns the country might have to tap a 500 billion euro ($613.2 billion) safety net set up to halt contagion in the euro area after a bailout of Greece.

The euro held near a three-week high against the dollar close to $1.24, well above the four-year low of $1.1876 it hit on June 7 and good for a weekly gain of about 2 percent -- its biggest since May 2009.

For more: Spain optimism and stress tests boost euro assets | Reuters

Euro steadies near 3-week highs, dollar on backfoot

The euro retained gains near $1.24 as investors liquidated short positions after a robust response to Spanish bond auctions, which also encouraged some investors to shift funds back to euro zone bonds from safe-haven U.S. Treasuries, traders said.

Peripheral European debt markets calmed after the auction, whetting investors' appetite for riskier assets and supporting higher-yielding currencies like the Australian and New Zealand dollars which hovered near one-month highs.

For more: Euro steadies near 3-week highs, dollar on backfoot | Reuters

6/17/10

EU calls for tough new rules on 'economic governance' .

European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to bring in tough new rules on policing one another's economies, in a bid to prevent further crises of the kind which has hit Greece.The EU has been in full crisis-fighting mode since the beginning of the year as it scrambled to shore up the euro and fight off market pressure on members such as Greece and Spain. Leaders are now keen to restore the bloc's reputation for economic strength."Everybody now acknowledges that economic decisions in one member state concern us all," the President of the Council of EU member states, Herman Van Rompuy, said after the meeting.

For more: EU calls for tough new rules on 'economic governance' - Summary | Earth Times News

Euro Surges as Spanish Bond Sales Draw Higher Investor Demand

The euro strengthened above $1.24 for the first time in almost three weeks as increased demand at Spain’s bond auction eased concern about Europe’s debt crisis.

The common currency pared gains as stocks retreated after a report showed the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s factory index slumped in June. The dollar reached the lowest level versus the yen in three weeks as the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits last week unexpectedly rose. The Swiss franc strengthened against the euro after the nation’s central bank said deflationary risks have “largely disappeared.”

Note EU-Digest: basically the dollar is overvalued and has just a shadow of its past strength.

For more: Euro Surges as Spanish Bond Sales Draw Higher Investor Demand - BusinessWeek

Netherlands: Finance experts join right-wing coalition talks; Wilders, Rutte keep mum

Finance experts, including the president of the Dutch central bank, have been invited for talks with the negotiator putting together a new coalition government, the Telegraaf reports on Wednesday.

The paper says Coen Teulings of the government's macro-economic policy unit, caretaker finance minister Jan Kees de Jager and the central bank's Nout Wellink will meet Uri Rosenthal on Wednesday morning.

They will be ask to detail the difficult financial and economic situation facing the Netherlands, which queen Beatrix referred to when she appointed Rosenthal to the job. The negotiator is looking to put together a right-wing coalition made up of the VVD, anti-Islam PVV and CDA. The VVD emerged as the biggest party in last week's general election by just one seat and the PVV made the most gains.

Support for the CDA almost halved. But Wilders needs to get Verhagenfrom the Christian Democrats on board if he is to be in government. The other parties have all ruled out a coalition with the PVV which wants an end to non-western immigration and a ban on the Koran.

For more: DutchNews.nl - Finance experts join coalition talks; Wilders, Rutte keep mum

Soccer and Nationalism: Why I'm glued to the World Cup - by Scott Herhold


Every four years, during the World Cup, I adopt the garb and the gab of a soccer fanatic. I was glued to the Ghana-Serbia match. I got up early to watch Japan and Cameroon. I've watched endless reruns of the England-USA tie.

And I find myself getting deeply immersed in the details. Was that handball on the Serbian player properly called in the penalty box? (It was.) Are the refs ignoring the scourge of diving? (No.). Where did the Germans get those moves? (OK, the Australians were bad, but the German coach has style.)
Why is that I'm indifferent to soccer most of the time but passionate during the World Cup? Why do I turn from a mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll to a howling Mr. Hyde once I hear the air horns in the stadium.


For more: Herhold: Why I'm glued to the World Cup - San Jose Mercury News

The Euro Is Safer than Ever – Here's Why - Jacob Funk Kirkegaard

There has been little love by financial markets for European leaders these days. But one has to wonder about the level of disdain reflected in recent surveys of City of London economists and global investors showing agreement about the likelihood of a breakup of the euro-zone. How can a majority of 25 City of London economists conclude that a euro break-up of greater or lesser proportions during the next Parliamentary term – within five years , in other words – is likely?

In reality, there is next to no chance that the euro-zone will break up as a result of the current economic crisis in Europe, or as a result of a probable Greek sovereign default. There are several reasons why. First, leaving the euro would impose a catastrophic cost on any nation that tries to do so out of economic weakness. Even euro-zone countries that default on their debts would be far better off inside the euro-zone than outside (crucially, euro-zone members cannot be kicked out), because in the longer-term they would still have access to the deep liquid euro-zone financial markets.

Any euro-denominated interest rate imposed by financial markets even after a default would be a lot lower than interest rates on, say, new drachma-denominated bonds. Moreover, under the Lisbon Treaty (which will not be revised in even the medium term) leaving the euro zone cannot be done without quitting the EU entirely. Such a move would entail a nearly complete regional political isolation and probably exposure to the EU’s external trade barriers as well.

For more: Kirkegaard: The Euro Is Safer than Ever – Here's Why - CNBC

Turkish Gaullism and Turkey’s “Balancing Role”

Thomas Friedman manages to write an entire column on the deterioration of U.S.-Turkish relations and never once mentions the Iraq war, the PKK (which has revived since the start of the Iraq war), the weak U.S. response to the flotilla raid, or the Tehran nuclear deal that he and the administration both dismissed with contempt. If we’re apportioning blame for what has encouraged Turkey on its more independent course, we can assign quite a bit to both the Bush and Obama administrations, but that is not the only thing that interests me here. Friedman passes over U.S. mistakes in silence, because this makes it easier to portray Erdogan as the sole culprit responsible for wrecking U.S.-Turkish relations and it helps the misleading “the Islamists are coming!” narrative take hold.

A useful counterpoint to Friedman is a recent column by Ömer Taspinar, who provides what seems to me to be one of the more persuasive explanations for why the Turkish government has been acting as it has over the last several years. Taspinar starts by questioning the handy, potentially misleading Islamic/secular distinction that practically every Western observer, including myself, has used at one time or another:


For more: Eunomia

EU leaders to sign up to tougher economic discipline  - by Simon Taylor

EU leaders will tomorrow (17 June) seek to agree new measures to enforce better economic discipline when they meet in Brussels for a one-day summit.

They are expected to agree on the need for tougher sanctions for countries that fail to respect the limits on public deficits and debts. They will also agree to provide details about their national budget plans to the European Commission and to each other for review.

The focus on improving economic governance follows the recent sovereign debt crisis that started in Greece and spread to other eurozone countries as investors shunned government bonds because of fears they might default. Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, has called for a new “stability culture” where governments keep deficits under control in order to support the euro.

For more: EU leaders to sign up to tougher economic discipline | Policies | EU governance | Council of Ministers | European Voice

6/16/10

France To Raise Retirement Age To 62 To Help Cut Debt

The French government Wednesday outlined pension reforms, including an increase in the retirement age to 62 from 60 and tax increases, in a bid to balance the books of France's pension scheme by 2018. The move will test the resolve of Nicolas Sarkozy's government to pass a number of structural reforms.

For more: UPDATE: France To Raise Retirement Age To 62 To Help Cut Debt - WSJ.com

EU Economy: Three more EU members asked to cut deficit

The European Union (EU) Tuesday asked three more member states to reduce their deficits below the 3-percent ceiling set by the bloc's budget rules.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said that Cyprus, Denmark and Finland ran excessive deficits and recommended different deadlines for the three countries to bring their deficits and debt levels down according to the EU's Stability and Growth Pact.

European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said: "The entry into the excessive deficit procedure of these countries, which until recently had surpluses, shows the severity of the economic and financial crisis we have gone through. "

For more: Three more EU members asked to cut deficit

EU demands 'extra' 2011 deficit measures of Spain

Europe on Tuesday told Spain it must introduce "extra" measures in its 2011 budget if it is to restore its public deficit to the EU limit of three percent of GDP by a 2013 target. "For 2011, Spain will need to specify concrete measures of about 1.75 percent of GDP to reach the deficit target of six percent in 2011," the EU's economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said in Strasbourg, France, at the European parliament. So far Spain's deficit busting measures for next year only amount to 1.00 percent of output, according to Rehn's spokesman.

"Extra measures" need to be "specified in the 2011 budget," he stressed.

Spain was one of 12 countries, including Portugal, whose existing deficit reduction plans were considered, and broadly approved, by the EU Commission.

For more: AFP: EU demands 'extra' 2011 deficit measures of Spain

6/15/10

Turkey and the West: Everybody Take a Valium - by Doug Sarro

Yes, Ankara condemned Israel's raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, and yes, Turkey voted against imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran. But this doesn't mean Turkey and the West have parted ways.

First things first -- Turkey's stance on Gaza hardly splits it off from the West. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the raid "completely unacceptable," and he, along with the presidents of France and the United States, wants an investigation into the raid and has called on Israel to loosen its Gaza blockade.

It's true that Turkey has been strongly critical of Israel since its 2008-09 incursion into Gaza, but this doesn't mean it or its leadership is anti-Israel. In fact, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan doggedly pursued Middle East peace before the Gaza incursion, working for two years to try and stage-manage a rapprochement between Israel and Syria. This effort had to be shelved after Israeli troops entered Gaza.

Note EU-Digest: the Netanyahu government is a coalition of pretty hard line radicals just like Hamas is on the other side of spectrum . Mr. Erdogan regardless of his shortcomings has at least given this very explosive situation, which can never be solved by endless and fruitless negotiations supported by the US and the EU into a more aggressive confrontational mode and force the US and the EU to change course on this issue.


For more: Doug Sarro: Turkey and the West: Everybody Take a Valium

Offshore floating wind turbines raise environmental, technical questions

The strategy here is to create a network of floating wind farms 10 to 50 miles offshore, where the winds are strong and -- here's the rub -- the water is very deep. A floating turbine that is sited in water that is thousands of feet deep has never been engineered, much less built and tested.

While there are thousands of offshore wind turbines in northern Europe, they are anchored (not floating) in water that, at most, is hundreds of feet deep, not thousands. Is a sustainable deepwater floating wind turbine possible? Maybe. Maybe not.

A journalistic hard look at this proposal would have also included what little is known about the potential environmental impacts of a flotilla of offshore wind turbines. These turbines, in addition to generating electricity, will generate underwater noise and vibration.

For more: Maine Voices: Offshore floating wind turbines raise environmental, technical questions | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Offshore Windparks:: Vestas introduces its newest product to the Chinese offshore market

Vestas China is proud to once again co-sponsor Offshore Wind China 2010 in Shanghai and to participate in China’s development of offshore wind energy.

Vestas is ready to develop China’s rich offshore wind resources with its abundant experience in offshore wind energy projects and cutting-edge technology.

This readiness and commitment is underlined by being the co-sponsor of Offshore Wind China 2010 Conference and Exhibition which takes place at the Shanghai International Exhibition Center.

Vestas introduces its newest product to the Chinese offshore market - Metal Supply

6/14/10

US discovers $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan - Telegraph

Afghanistan has up to $1trillion worth of untapped mineral resources which could revolutionise the country's economy and perhaps even the war, American officials have said.

Afghan officials believe the mining sector will eventually become the backbone of the now tiny Afghan economy and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The economy is currently dominated by aid money and drug smuggling, raising fears the coalition's investments in building the Afghan army and state are ultimately unsustainable.

For more: US discovers $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan - Telegraph

Soccer - the Netherlands: Van Persie shows glimpses of old form as Netherlands beat Denmark at World Cup

Netherlands striker Robin van Persie showed enough of his old form in Monday's victory over Denmark to prove that he has fully recovered from a right ankle injury.

In front of a near capacity crowd at Soccer City, the 26-year-old Dutchman was a consistent thorn in the side of the Danish team. And it was his cross that led to the own goal that broke the deadlock a minute into the second half of the 2-0 win.

For more: The Canadian Press: Van Persie shows glimpses of old form as Netherlands beat Denmark at World Cup

Merkel, Sarkozy meeting in Berlin ahead of EU summit

Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Berlin before a European Union summit later this week. The two leaders were meeting Monday to co-ordinate their strategies as the continent considers how to curb the eurozone debt crisis.

Despite recent tension over bailout packages for Greece and the eurozone, the two wrote a joint letter last week urging the European Commission to speed up efforts to regulate financial markets. Merkel and Sarkozy say the bloc should consider prohibiting the naked short selling of some shares and bonds.

For more: The Canadian Press: Merkel, Sarkozy meeting in Berlin ahead of EU summit

Euro strengthens amid upbeat data

The euro climbed above 1.22 dollars on Monday as recent upbeat data sparked hope that the eurozone debt crisis will not derail the global economy, analysts said. Sterling meanwhile rallied after the new British government cut state borrowing forecasts, which helped to offset a slashing of growth estimates.

The European single currency rose to 1.2232 dollars from 1.2106 dollars in New York late on Friday. Against the Japanese unit, the dollar increased to 91.88 yen from 91.61 yen.

For more: AFP: Euro strengthens amid upbeat data

Int’l law expert Aral: Israel not as untouchable as before

Berdal Aral, an international law expert who teaches at İstanbul’s Fatih University, has said that Israel has been increasingly criticized by the world community and that it is more vulnerable than before because of its actions.

For more: Int’l law expert Aral: Israel not as untouchable as before

6/13/10

EU ready to intensify pressure on Israel to lift Gaza blockade

The European Union is expected to intensify pressure on Israel to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip when its foreign ministers meet in Brussels tomorrow amid calls to adopt a robust position.

Spain, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, will press for a vigorous approach with support from France, Italy and the UK. José Luis Zapatero, Spain's prime minister, called at the weekend for a "strong joint EU position on the siege".

Zapatero said his foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, would argue at the meeting that the EU should "stand up for the end of the blockade on Gaza and that it extends all its political and diplomatic capacity to reach that goal".

For more: EU ready to intensify pressure on Israel to lift Gaza blockade | World news | The Guardian

The Netherlands are a bellwether for Europe - by Keith Knutson:

The Netherlands is a small corner of the European continent, but it has made big contributions to developments in the modern world.

In the 17th century Dutch strength in trade and finance, shipping and technology, made the small republic a major power. This was based upon the population's remarkable innovative capacities. I was reminded of this society's ingenuity in the Rijks (state) museum, viewing the works of their greatest artists - and Europe's as well? - Rembrandt, Reubens and Vermeer. Artists may not be fundamental to achieving political and economic greatness, but great societies inevitably produce them. The Dutch were the first in Europe to legalize egalitarianism, even before the French Revolution. Their lack of deference to either monarchy or aristocracy led to an absence of the social hierarchy in other great powers of the time. And the weakness of ecclesiastical authority led to societal curiosity and openness that others envied.

Whereas political life in Holland was once a model of stability, in the 21st century the country has been convulsed. In 2002 the anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated. Then in 2004, Theo Van Gogh, descendent of the renowned artist, and producer of a documentary critical of Islam, was viciously murdered. Afterward, the mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, a secular Jew, engaged in an outreach effort to the Muslim community that was very similar to that of "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson, who visited Viterbo University this past school year. Cohen focused the city government's integration policy on lending a sympathetic ear to the Muslim community, even the most insular and orthodox. And when Dutch elections were called this spring, Cohen led the Labor Party ticket, with number two Nebehat Albayrak, who is Turkish.



For more: Keith Knutson: The Netherlands are a bellwether for Europe

Oil leak tension between Britain and US spills over

What started as an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico in late April has threatened to become a stain on relations between Britain and the US.

While Barack Obama’s US administration last week denied that the disastrous oil spill had damaged relations, it has caused early difficulties for the new British prime minister, David Cameron. With reports that the broken BP pipe is leaking twice as much oil as initially thought, the president and the American people are desperate to find someone to blame.

What Cameron described as an ‘‘environmental catastrophe’’ could also turn out to be a political disaster. There is certainly great political and public anger directed towards BP. A ‘‘seize BP’’ campaign is conducting demonstrations in major US cities, calling on Obama’s government to grab the British company’s US assets, while a ‘‘boycott BP’’ group is encouraging consumers to shun the oil company’s network of service stations


For more: Oil leak tension between Britain and US spills over | The Post

EU denies responsibility for Turkey-Israel tension

The European Union on Wednesday rejected a US charge that its failure to accept Turkey as a member was partly responsible for the deterioration of relations between Ankara and Israel.

"The EU has very good relations with both Turkey and Israel," and "the bilateral relations between these two countries are not linked with the bilateral relations between the EU and each of these countries," insisted Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the bloc's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

She added that "as far as Turkey is concerned, progress in accession negotiations depends on the progress in reforms taking place" there.The European Union on Wednesday rejected a US charge that its failure to accept Turkey as a member was partly responsible for the deterioration of relations between Ankara and Israel.

For more: EU denies responsibility for Turkey-Israel tension | Jordan Times

Turkey: US 'inciting conflict to trigger war'

After voting against the fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called it a matter of honor for Ankara.

“If we had not said 'no', it would have been self-denial... It would have been a lack of self-respect,” Erdogan was quoted as saying at a Turkey-Arab forum currently being held in Istanbul, AFP reported. The comment came after Turkey had brokered a deal with Iran last month for the exchange of 1,200 kilogram's of Iranian low enriched uranium with highly enriched uranium. The enriched uranium, Iran says, is to be used as research reactor to make medical isotopes.

Russia's interests will also go unaffected as the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says the country will ensure "absolute protection for all significant channels of trade and economic cooperation existing between Russia and Iran," and that Russian companies would just "adapt" to the new sanctions.


For more: US 'inciting conflict to trigger war'

6/12/10

Soccer: Britain - USA : 1-1

Clint Dempsey scored on a blunder by British goalkeeper Robert Green in the 40th minute, and the United States came from behind to tie England 1-1 in the Americans' World Cup opener Saturday.

Steven Gerrard had put England ahead in the fourth minute, blowing past Ricardo Clark to beat goalkeeper Tim Howard from inside the 6-yard box. But Dempsey tied the score when his 25-yard shot skipped off the grass twice and bounced in off Green's hand, yet another in a long line of shocking gaffes by England goalkeepers. It made Dempsey only the second American to score in two World Cups, joining Brian McBride.

For more: U.S. set for finest hour

EU to open market fully to Palestinian exports

The European Commission plans to open European Union markets fully to Palestinian exports in the coming months to help strengthen the Palestinian economy, the EU trade chief said on Thursday. The 27-country bloc has an agreement with the Palestinian Authority that allows Palestinian industrial goods duty-free access to the EU, and requires the Palestinian territories to phase out tariffs on EU exports over five years.

The EU decision to accelerate bilateral trade was announced after a meeting between EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Palestinian Economy Minister Hasan Abu-Libdeh.

For more:EU to open market fully to Palestinian exports - Israel Business, Ynetnews

Israel must apologize and pay compensation, says Turkey

Turkey continues to hound Israel over its navy commando raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza.

The Turksh President Abdullah Gul has said the attack on ships manned by activists attemtping to break the Gaza blockade, was a crime and was something one would expect from a group like al-Qaeda, rather than a sovereign state. Gul has also said Israel should apologize for the attack and pay compensation. Nine activists were killed in the attack.

Speaking to the French daily newspaper Le Monde, the Turkish president hinted his country would terminate diplomatic ties unless the Jewish state changed its attitude.

For more: Israel must apologize and pay compensation, says Turkey

Italy's Senate Approves Wiretap Bill

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi advanced a draft law through the senate that restricts the use of wiretaps by prosecutors and introduces fines and prison sentences for journalists who issue reports on tapped conversations.

The draft law's passage on Thursday by the senate prompted a torrent of criticism from Italian prosecutors, newspapers and opposition lawmakers. Mr. Berlusconi, a media magnate, says the bill aims to protect the privacy of Italians. Critics say the draft legislation, which still faces a vote in the lower house of Parliament, is an attempt by Mr. Berlusconi to weaken the judiciary branch's investigative powers and muzzle criticism of the prime minister in Italian media.

"The massacre of freedom has begun," said Anna Finocchiaro, a senator in the center-left Democratic Party.

For the complete report: Italy's Senate Approves Wiretap Bill - WSJ.com