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7/31/10

Eurozone economic sentiment up again in July

Economic sentiment in the 16 countries that use the euro is at its highest level for over two years, the European Commission said Thursday.

In its monthly survey, the Commission said its sentiment indicator for the eurozone rose to 101.3 points in July from 99 in June. Most analysts were not expecting much of a change. The July level is the highest since March 2008 and provided further evidence that the eurozone economic recovery is gathering pace even at a time when the U.S. economic data has generally disappointed.

The Commission said the majority of countries in the eurozone posted improvements during the month, with Germany, Europe's biggest economy, registering the biggest increase. However, it wasn't all good news, with sentiment down sharply in Spain and Greek confidence worryingly low in a sign that the most indebted European countries still have a way to go.
For more: The Associated Press: Eurozone economic sentiment up again in July

7/30/10

US economic growth slows to 2.4%

US economic growth slowed between April and June, with GDP growing by an annualised rate of 2.4%, the US Commerce Department has said.

This compares with an annual rate of 3.7% in the previous quarter. The second quarter figure is a first estimate, and could be revised either up or down in the coming months.
There are growing fears about the strength of the US economic recovery, particularly concerning the country's high unemployment rate of 9.5%.

For more: BBC News - US economic growth slows to 2.4%

Taliban congratulate Dutch on departure

The Taliban have congratulated the Netherlands' government for the upcoming pull-out of their troops from Afghanistan, according to a newspaper interview with a spokesman from the group.


"We want to wholeheartedly congratulate the citizens and government of the Netherlands for having the courage they have had to take this independent decision," Qari Yusuf Ahmadij told Dutch daily Volkskrant.
"We hope that other countries with troops stationed in Afghanistan will follow the Netherlands example and withdraw their troops," said Ahmadij, who was described as the Taliban's spokesman for west and south Afghanistan.


For more: Taliban congratulate Dutch on departure

Nicolas Sarkozy threatens to strip citizenship from immigrants who target police

President Nicolas Sarkozy has given warning that France will strip French nationality from any immigrant who uses violence against police or public officials. Speaking in the eastern city of Grenoble, scene in recent weeks of clashes between police and armed rioters, Mr Sarkozy said that foreign minors who commit crimes would henceforth find it harder to get citizenship on coming of age. Earlier this week, Mr Sarkozy threatened to expel foreign Roma who commit crimes back to Eastern Europe.

Mr Sarkozy, whose hardline stance helped him win the 2007 election, has promised to crack down on urban violence. But the conservative leader has failed to reduce violent crime despite tougher policing following widespread riots in 2005. Neighborhoods remain stricken by high youth unemployment, poor public services, drug trafficking and a rise in gun crime.

For more: Nicolas Sarkozy threatens to strip citizenship from immigrants who target police - Telegraph

7/29/10

A Reform Moment in Cuba? - by Julia E. Sweig

The announcement by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, that the Cuban government has agreed to the release of fifty-two political prisoners follows a pattern of imprisonment and release of regime opponents for the last fifty years and is the first of this scale since 1998. Why the move and what is its significance? [For a detailed exploration of Cuba's domestic scene, read Julia Sweig's book Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know.]

For Havana, the political prisoners have become an albatross for Raúl Castro's government. Since taking office in February 2008, Raúl has sought a rapprochement with the European Union and its member states. In 1996, the EU adopted what is known as the "common position," a policy of soft sanctions that links full economic cooperation with Cuba to improvements in human rights. The consensus for the common position has since eroded: A formal dialogue on civil-political rights has taken place in fits and starts, especially since Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero took office in 2004; and commercial and investment ties with Spain and throughout the EU have indeed grown with Cuba.

For more: A Reform Moment in Cuba? - Council on Foreign Relations

US Economy: Federal Debt: Americans continue to complain about the growing federal debt, but continue to spend, spend, spend.

There is much hypocrisy. Americans continue to be outraged at the growing federal debt, yet the average American's personal budget is in shambles. Over the last couple decades, we have been spending like drunken sailors. Massive mortgage payments augmented by sky-high credit card bills, along with little or no savings, have rocketed personal debt to historic high levels. There is nothing wrong with debt if it secures basic housing, transportation and other necessities, but not when the average Joe demands a three-car garage, granite counter tops, etc.


Presently, the ratio of public debt to Gross Domestic Product is lower than most of the richest industrialized nations of the world, whereas American personal debt ratio is among the highest. Most public money is invested in education, roads, bridges, airports and police/security essentials for a growing nation. Yet personal debt is wildly spent mostly on frivolous amenities we cannot afford, nor need. It is simplistic and unjustified to just blame the federal government for our economic woes. The true culprits are excessive levels of greed by the average American citizen, a couple needless wars costing a trillion dollars and the folly of the Republican mantras of massive tax breaks for the rich and deregulating Wall Street.

Keep in mind that the Democrats inherited a massive financial mess, and cleaning up messes can get dirty, expensive and take years to recover, especially if the opposition party (Republicans) refuses to cooperate. The election this November should increase the power of the Democrats. But because of misinformation and the Republican sheer genius of double-speak and hypocrisy, the average Joe is actually considering electing the same party that devastated the middle class and brought our economy onto the door step of a deep depression.


For more: Federal Debt: Americans continue to complain about the growing federal debt, but continue to spend, spend, spend. - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

Euro Advances to Two-Month High on Bets Europe Recovering Faster Than U.S.

The euro advanced to its highest level versus the dollar since the region’s $1 trillion bailout was announced May 10 on evidence the European economy is recovering at a faster pace than the U.S.

The 16-nation currency appreciated as a report showed European confidence in the economic outlook rose to the highest level in more than two years this month and German unemployment decreased. Economists say a report due tomorrow will show slowing U.S. economic growth.

“What’s helping the euro is continued strong data,” said John Doyle, a strategist in Washington at the currency-trading firm Tempus Consulting Inc. “That German unemployment number as well as the economic confidence, it’s enough to push it higher.”

For more: Euro Advances to Two-Month High on Bets Europe Recovering Faster Than U.S. - Bloomberg

7/28/10

Sarkozy only EU country to congratulate Suriname's controversial president

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has congratulated Desi Bouterse on his election as president of Suriname. Mr Bouterse, a former army commander, stands accused of the murder of political opponents. He has also been convicted in the Netherlands, in absentia, of drug trafficking.

France is the first European country to congratulate Mr Bouterse. In a letter, Mr Sarkozy wrote that his country is open to intensive cooperation with Suriname. Mr Sarkozy is head of state of French Guiana, which is a French overseas department and shares a border with Suriname.

A Dutch Member of the European Parliament Hans van Baalen has voiced criticism at French President Nicolas Sarkozy for congratulating Mr Bouterse, and says the incoming president of Suriname should be refused entry to the European Union. The Dutch MEP told Radio Netherlands Worldwide: "It seems reasonable to me that such a person should not be allowed to travel to the EU". .


For more: Sarkozy congratulates Suriname's controversial president | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Secular groups vow to seek No vote in Turkish reform poll

Turkey’s secular establishment vowed yesterday to campaign for a No vote in a September referendum on constitutional reforms, seen as a test of confidence in prime minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
Setting the tone for what could be a hot political summer, a senior judge and the main opposition party criticised a constitutional court ruling that left proposals to limit the power of the judiciary largely intact. Opponents see the reforms as a government attempt to seize control of all levers of the state and undermine Turkey’s secular principles.

Mr Erdogan says the reforms are needed to bring Turkey’s military-drafted constitution in line with those of European democracies, and to enhance the Muslim nation’s bid for European Union membership. “With the referendum in September and general elections in mid-2011, Turkey will be going through an uninterrupted campaigning period, which raises the risk of policy inertia and concerns about fiscal performance,” said Wolfango Piccoli from the Eurasia consultancy.

Note EU-Digest: The military in every democratic society is always subservient to the political establishment. In the present Turkish Constitution the military is put above the law. This establishes the Turkish military as a major player in the Turkish political arena and this certainly can not be seen as a desirable situation.'

For more: Secular groups vow to seek No vote in Turkish reform poll - The Irish Times - Fri, Jul 09, 2010

The EU will regret its dishonest, humiliating treatment of Turkey - Telegraph

Telegraph

"The EU will regret its dishonest, humiliating treatment of Turkey

By Daniel Hannan
Published: 6:21AM BST 28 Jul 2010

David Cameron was too polite to say it in so many words, but his audience of Turkish MPs got the point: the EU is treating them shabbily.

Singly, Europe's governments have perfectly consistent policies. Some countries want, in Gladstone's unhappy phrase, 'to bundle the Turk, bag and baggage, out of Europe'. France, Austria and (less vocally) Germany are in this camp. Others, led by Britain, see Turkish membership as strategically valuable: a way to bolster the world's chief Muslim democracy and perhaps, in the process, to dilute Euro-federalism."

7/27/10

EU unveils multi-billion research fund to boost economy

The EU commissioner for research and innovation, Ireland's Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, announced yesterday (19 July) nearly €6.4 billion of investment in research and development to be spent by the end of 2011. The package, described as Europe's biggest ever investment drive in the sector, aims to increase European competitiveness and help tackle EU priorities such as climate change, energy, food security, health and the ageing population.

For more: EU unveils multi-billion research fund to boost economy | EurActiv

Back to Business as Usual for Euro

Dust off your data calendars everyone, because boring is back — for the currency markets at least.

Remember those carefree days when economic data mattered for currencies? When inflation figures pushed the markets around? When analysts compared one country’s growth outlook to another, and worked out which currency to buy and which to sell as a result? They were fine days. They were the days before large cracks formed in the European single currency project; before people started trying to figure out not which currency would perform the strongest, but which is likely to exist the longest.

So, unless a European bank goes belly up or some other stink bomb explodes in the region’s debt markets, the old-fashioned relationship between data and currencies looks set to persist. Few analysts are giving up on their disdain for the euro altogether just yet. Further gains in the euro above the psychologically significant $1.30 point against the dollar will be tough. But fresh lows for the year in the currency will likely take a fair while to build in this environment.

For more: Back to Business as Usual for Euro - The Source - WSJ

Leaked Reports Paint 'An Unvarnished And Grim Picture Of The Afghan War'

Three newspapers — The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel — have sifted through more than 91,000 secret documents related to the war in Afghanistan, released by WikiLeaks.

At a news conference, Julian Assange, the organization's founder, said that, for the past several weeks,

WikiLeaks and the three newspapers worked together, in a "collaborative basement" in London, where they "shared research and computation techniques as equal partners." Reports detail the use of heat-seeking missiles by the Taliban, information about secret raids in Afghanistan, and new insights into the relationship between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and insurgent forces in Afghanistan.

To learn more about WikiLeaks, check out this Fresh Air interview with Philip Shenon, of The Daily Beast, and this profile of Assange, by The New Yorker's Raffi Khatchadourian.

For more: Leaked Reports Paint 'An Unvarnished And Grim Picture Of The Afghan War' : NPR

7/26/10

The Dutch are better at productivity than soccer - by Rob Carrick

Making the World Cup soccer finals focused global attention on the Netherlands, but the country’s more lasting achievement is its very strong economic productivity. So it’s natural, then, to put Dutch companies on your short list if you’re seeking to invest in top manufacturing companies. Philips, Unilever and ASML are just a few examples of Dutch companies Canadian investors can easily buy on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Netherlands ranked third in the most recent global productivity ranking by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, behind Luxembourg and Norway and just ahead of the United States. A report issued earlier this year by a British economic think-tank said the Netherlands scored well in terms of innovation, liberalization and employment, and it singled the country out as the only one in the European Union that combines very high levels of productivity with a high employment rate. While the unemployment rate for EU countries has averaged 10 per cent lately, the Netherlands has come in at 4 per cent.

For more: The Dutch are better at productivity than soccer - The Globe and Mail

Netherlands: Wilders' offer to support a minority cabinet gets approval

Geert Wilders' suggestion that his anti-Islam party PVV could support a minority government made up of the right wing Liberals VVD and the Christian Democrats is seen as a good move by some 63% of voters, according to an online poll by Maurice de Hond.

Wilders has said repeatedly this could be an option if the CDA and VVD cannot agree on forming a coalition with the PVV, which wants an end to 'non-western' immigration, a ban on the Koran and a tax on Muslim headscarves.

Some 80% of CDA, VVD and PVV voters back the minority cabinet support suggestion, the poll shows.

For more: DutchNews.nl - Wilders' offer to support a minority cabinet gets approval

Tourism: Oil spill: Florida is still fun

The state's image continues to take a beating as oil keeps gushing from BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf. Europeans and even some Americans who aren't familiar with the Sunshine State's geography put the whole state in the same oily dread zone.

That's despite proclamations such as this one Wednesday from the state's Visit Florida website: "Nearly 90 percent of Florida's more than 1,260 miles of coastline remains unimpacted."
The state has been using money from BP to promote Florida's beaches and coastal attractions to potential tourists outside Florida, and the state's Visit Florida website is offering live webcams for beach destinations throughout Florida.

The ripples of the oil spill will continue to be felt throughout Florida's private and government sectors for months and maybe years to come.

For more: Oil spill: Florida is still fun | jacksonville.com

7/25/10

Aircraft Industry: Boeing’s next generation 747 to require ‘extra flight tests as A380 approaching ‘profitability’

Boeing's competitor to the huge double-decker A380 is 'probably' going to be delivered late, after schedule was delayed, according to Boeing's Vice President of programs, Pat Shanahan.
Speaking at the Boeing Commercial Airplanes press conference earlier this week, Pat described the world's longest passenger airliner as requiring "enhancements in the flight controls" and "some new flight tests we hadn't originally planned."

The Airbus A380, which entered into service 15 October 2007 has arguably pushed Boeing into making the 747-8 - which like the A380 has larger cabin space and can thereby generate efficiencies by carrying more passengers. However, whilst the Airbus A380 has already entered service and started to gain more orders, worries remain on the 747-8 which has already been moved from 2009 to end of this year.

Airbus meanwhile can boast of 31 aeroplanes in service, with 6 million passengers flown and a growing order, book announced at the Farnborough show was standing at 232, although Airbus need 420 to break-even.

For more: Boeing’s next generation 747 to require ‘extra flight tests’; A380 approaching ‘profitability’ | IBTimes

France: Alberto Contador Seals Third Tour de France Win in Four Years

Aberto Contador sealed his third Tour de France title in four years yesterday after avoiding mishaps on the ride into Paris.

The Spaniard preserved his 39-second lead over Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck after the 64-mile journey to the Champs Elysees. Riders don’t normally compete for the race-leading yellow jersey on the final day. Mark Cavendish of the U.K. won the 20th stage as Lance Armstrong completed his 13th and final Tour de France.

Contador joins Greg LeMond of the U.S., France’s Louison Bobet and Belgium’s Philippe Thys in winning cycling’s most prestigious race three times. Only five riders have won it more.

For more: Alberto Contador Seals Third Tour de France Win in Four Years - Bloomberg

EU challenges WTO ruling on Airbus subsidies

The EU is to challenge a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that it paid illegal subsidies to aircraft giant Airbus. The US lodged a complaint with the WTO six years ago, but the decision was only made public last month.

The EU said that while "a significant number of US claims" had been rejected, other aspects of the report needed "to be corrected or clarified". It has already complained over the US's alleged support of Airbus rival Boeing.

For more: BBC News - EU challenges WTO ruling on Airbus subsidies

Europe's Five "Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States" - by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Nuclear bombs are stored on air-force bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands — and planes from each of those countries are capable of delivering them." ("What to Do About Europe's Secret Nukes." Time Magazine, December 2, 2009) . Five countries, the US, UK, France, China and Russia are considered to be "nuclear weapons states" (NWS), "an internationally recognized status conferred by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)". Three other "Non NPT countries" (i.e. non-signatory states of the NPT) including India, Pakistan and North Korea, have recognized possessing nuclear weapons.

Israel is identified as an "undeclared nuclear state". It produces and deploys nuclear warheads directed against military and civilian targets in the Middle East including Tehran.

The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to five so-called "non-nuclear states", including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Casually disregarded by the Vienna based UN Nuclear Watchdog (IAEA), the US has actively contributed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe.

Among the five "undeclared nuclear states", "Germany remains the most heavily nuclearized country with three nuclear bases (two of which are fully operational) and may store as many as 150 [B61 bunker buster ] bombs" (Ibid). In accordance with "NATO strike plans" (mentioned above) these tactical nuclear weapons are also targeted at the Middle East. 

While Germany is not categorized officially as a nuclear power, it produces nuclear warheads for the French Navy. It stockpiles nuclear warheads (made in America) and it has the capabilities of delivering nuclear weapons. Moreover, The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company - EADS , a Franco-German-Spanish joint venture, controlled by Deutsche Aerospace and the powerful Daimler Group is Europe's second largest military producer, supplying .France's M51 nuclear missile.

For more; Europe's Five "Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States"

ISRAEL: Possible Iran scenarios

The military option against Iran's nuclear program always seems to be discussed in the context of one table or another. On the table, off it or under it, the possibility of a strike lurks in the background, a semi-abstract code for something potentially awesome -- and not in the cool sense of the word.

President Obama told Israeli television in a recent interview (in itself an interesting occurrence) that the possibility of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon was unacceptable and that the issue has been the No. 1 priority in foreign policy of the last 18 months. "We continue to leave the door open for a diplomatic resolution of this challenge, but I assure you that I have not taken options off the table," he told Channel 2. Again, the table. So whose table is it?

Israel feels genuinely and directly threatened by Iran's nuclear program but consistently warns that everyone else is too. It maintains that the international community, not Israel, should be spearheading the move to stop the program. It has also indicated that when push comes to shove, it won't rely on anyone else to defend Israel.

For more: ISRAEL: Possible Iran scenarios | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times

7/24/10

Documents Detail $4.3B in Goldman Sachs Payouts which came from tax payers

A new document discloses the list of banks and hedge funds that received $4.3 billion from Goldman Sachs after the government's bailout of AIG — money that ultimately came from taxpayers.

The money was to cover bets that went bad because of the housing bust. According to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, American International Group owed the money to Goldman, and Goldman owed the money to the banks and hedge funds. Grassley released the documents, which were supplied by Goldman, showing the payments late Friday. They include $1.18 billion to DZ Bank AG in Germany and $484 million to Banco Santander Central Hispano SA of Spain.

The payments have been controversial because of concerns that the banks should have taken greater losses on their investments rather than be made whole with money that ultimately came from taxpayers.

For more: Documents Detail $4.3B in Goldman Sachs Payouts - ABC News

European governments relieved by bank stress tests

Europe sighed with relief Saturday after most of the continent's banks passed financial stress tests, but analysts warned that the exams might not be tough enough to restore confidence in the sector.

The euro fell just after the release of the test results late on Friday but made up the lost ground. US stocks also ended slightly higher but European governments face a nervous wait for markets to reopen on Monday to get the full global reaction.

Only seven out of 91 banks failed the tests, which were organized in hope of reviving investor confidence in Europe's embattled banking sector.

For more: European governments relieved by bank stress tests

Europe's summer surprise: A stronger economy - by Tom Petruno

Europe's government-debt crisis helped send global financial markets plummeting in May. Now, the surprise of the summer is that the continent's economy hasn't fallen off a cliff. In fact, it's showing unexpected strength, New data to that effect on Thursday helped send major European stock markets sharply higher, which set the stage for the U.S. market's big rally. The German stock market jumped 2.5%, its biggest one-day gain since May 27. The French market surged 3.1% and Spanish stocks gained 2.6%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 201.77 points, or 2%, to 10,322.30, bolstered by some strong quarterly earnings reports. Eiffel In Europe, Markit.com said its business-activity index that tracks both the manufacturing and services sectors in the euro-zone countries rose unexpectedly this month to its highest level since April -- just before the debt crisis mushroomed.

The credit goes to Germany and France, which have "continued to provide the main stimulus to euro-area growth," Williamson said. For the moment, that's more than compensating for weakness in Greece, Spain and other economies suffering the biggest fallout from debt woes. It also has helped that Greece, Spain and other countries at the center of the debt crisis have been able to sell new bonds in recent weeks to refinance themselves, taking some pressure off the financial system as a whole.

For more: Europe's summer surprise: A stronger economy - Los Angeles Times

7/23/10

US Economy: America needs regulators that fight to win - by Lawrence Mitchell

The Securities and Exchange Commission blew a perfect opportunity to redefine its role with its decision last week to accept a $550m settlement with Goldman Sachs over accusations that the bank misled various investors in a subprime mortgage product at the start of the US housing crash. In its founding legislation, Congress empowered the SEC both to protect investors and to ensure a fair and efficient market. The settlement may have accomplished the first goal. But it also showed the SEC’s continuing failure to take its wider regulatory role in a more aggressive direction.

The settlement compensated the various investors for their losses, and mandated some remedial training for Goldman mortgage department employees. It also required greater internal monitoring at the bank. It caused Goldman some limited pain, in the light of its significant drop in second-quarter earnings earlier this week. Despite this, the SEC’s decision continued a previous pattern of attempting to compromise with Wall Street, one fraud at a time, in times that call for more muscular regulation and clearer public signals.
The SEC has recently seen serious calls for its merger with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission – another body now charged with regulating derivatives – or even its abolition, given the two agencies’ overlapping functions and the SEC’s failures to act over recent years. Against this background, the SEC’s Goldman suit, launched only in April, seemed to signal that the agency was back in the fight.

It was hoped that a victory against Goldman would do more than redress a fraud; it would set a wider regulatory precedent that its manner of doing business was socially and economically unacceptable. It would also have held out the possibility of beginning necessary cultural changes on Wall Street that might at least diminish the chances of future crises, while demonstrating that the SEC’s concern with market safety and fairness was more important than recouping a few bucks for big boy banks.

For more: FT.com / Comment / Opinion - America needs regulators that fight to win

Charlemagne: Europe's dark secret ?

When history comes to write the tale of the euro-zone crisis, the chief villains, if Europe’s leaders have any say, will be not dissembling Greeks or dithering Germans, but the financial markets. Traders subjected Greece to “psychological terror”, declared George Papandreou, its prime minister. They were “making money on the back of the unhappiness of the people”, lamented Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for the single market. The crisis was blamed on wolf-pack markets (Anders Borg, Sweden’s finance minister), cynical hedge funds, cocky credit-ratings agencies, neoconservative capitalism (José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,

Spain’s prime minister), a duplicitous Anglo-Saxon press (Mr Zapatero again), and other wicked forces still.
Not all Europeans demonise the market. Ex-communist Europe, which only recently threw off the command economy, is less hostile. So are the Germans, with their small-business Mittelstand and consensual labour relations. Elsewhere, though, market-aversion seems to go deeper than mere disapproval of extravagant stock options or bonuses (which is common to market-friendly Britain and America too). Fully 29% of Spaniards and Italians, and 43% of the French, told a global poll last October that free-market capitalism was “fatally flawed”. Only 13% of Americans shared that view.

At best, too much meddling in markets will condemn Europe to gentle decline. At worst, it will undermine the capitalist enterprises on which its prosperity and social model depend. A few years ago, an ambitious centre-right French politician seemed to agree. “For 25 years, France has never stopped discouraging initiative and punishing success,” he said. “Preventing the most dynamic from getting rich has by consequence impoverished all the others.” His name? Nicolas Sarkozy
.
Note EU-Digest: a most bias report by the Economist, obviously inspired by its friends in the Anglo Saxon "conservative" financial community who are very much opposed to the legislation initiated by the EU and the Obama administration to curb the free wheeling ways of the global financial community. What happened in 2008 to the worlds economic structure as a result of deregulation and greed must never happen again.

Charlemagne: Europe's dark secret | The Economist

Europe Shows Strength as U.K., German Indicators Top Forecasts

he British economy grew at the fastest pace in four years in the second quarter and German business confidence surged to a three-year high this month, indicating Europe’s recovery may be stronger than forecast.

U.K. gross domestic product rose 1.1 percent in the three months through June, almost twice as fast as the 0.6 percent gain predicted by economists in a Bloomberg News survey, the Office for National Statistics said in London today. In Munich, the Ifo institute said its business climate index, based on a poll of 7,000 executives, jumped to 106.2 this month, confounding expectations of a decline.

The reports suggest two of Europe’s largest economies are being buoyed by slides in the pound and the euro just as factories step up production to meet global demand. At the same time, government efforts to cut budget deficits and a weakening U.S. economy may damp European growth, while publication of bank stress-test results today could weigh on market sentiment.

For more: Europe Shows Strength as U.K., German Indicators Top Forecasts - Bloomberg

7/22/10

US Politics: Why the Tea Party Is Far More Dangerous Than Progressives Give It Credit For

The Tea Party is nothing new. It is merely the latest incarnation of the right-wing fringe that predictably overheats whenever a left-of-center reformer is elected to the presidency. It was the John Birch Society and the National Indignation Convention in the early 1960s, the Moral Majority and other “New Right” groups in the late 1970s, and Rush Limbaugh’s “dittoheads” and the militia movement in the 1990s.

But the difference between now and the 1960’s or even the 1990’s is that the fringe of the right-wing has now spread to the whole carpet. Sure, only 18 percent of the electorate self-identifies as a Tea Party supporter, but that’s a huge percentage of the Republican electorate (and, yes, they are almost all Republicans). Fringe has built upon fringe.

For more: Why the Tea Party Is Far More Dangerous Than Progressives Give It Credit For « SpeakEasy

US economy - Obama signs sweeping Wall Street overhaul into law

President Barack Obama signed into law on Wednesday the most comprehensive financial regulatory overhaul since the Great Depression, vowing to stop risky behavior on Wall Street that imperiled the U.S. economy.


Obama, facing voter unrest over Wall Street bailouts that have failed to spark a strong Main Street job recovery, pledged taxpayers would never again have to pump billions of dollars into failing firms to protect the economy.





"Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes," Obama said at a signing ceremony attended by some Wall Street bankers, business leaders and lawmakers. "There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period."

For more; Obama signs sweeping Wall Street overhaul into law | Reuters

Suriname: Caricom must not seat Bouterse

"The decision of Suriname's parliament notwithstanding, we do not believe Bouterse is morally fit to lead Suriname, about which we can do little. Nor do we deem him worthy to sit in the council of Caricom, about which the community can do a lot.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, as Caricom's current chairman, will hopefully agree and will lead the charge to suspend Suriname from the community until another leader is in place. Leaders must know that the passage of time doesn't of itself free them of responsibility for acts of impunity."

For more: Jamaica Gleaner News - EDITORIAL - Caricom must not seat Bouterse - Commentary - Wednesday | July 21, 2010

7/21/10

Europe Hopes Tests Help Banks as They Did in U.S.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the US declared a bank holiday in the United States at the height of the Great Depression in 1933, nervous investors found renewed confidence after examiners deemed many banks sound and threw their doors back open for business.

Last year, in the wake of the worst financial crisis since those dark days, American regulators gave investors a similar lift when they conducted exams showing that banks in the United States could weather a prolonged downturn — a feat that Europe is hoping to match when regulators release the results of their own tests on European banks this week, The New York Times’s Liz Alderman reports from Paris.

But unlike their American counterparts, who produced a detailed blueprint for how they would examine the 19 biggest American banks ahead of the results, Europe’s regulators have divulged relatively little about the criteria used in their stress tests. That is already sowing confusion about whether banks that pass the tests are really healthy enough to weather another downturn, analysts say.

For more: Europe Hopes Tests Help Banks as They Did in U.S. - DealBook Blog - NYTimes.com

Insurance Industry: European Insurance Companies Under Fire In US

According to statistics Overseas insurers' affiliates ( mainly from Europe: Zurich, Allianz and Swiss ) write 14 percent of the home and business property insurance in the US Gulf and Atlantic Coast states, and 11 percent of home insurance and 40 percent of business property insurance in Florida.
Far from enjoying special tax advantages, foreign companies pay U.S. income tax on their U.S. subsidiaries and foreign income taxes on their foreign operations. If the foreign company is in Bermuda, it's paying a U.S. federal excise tax on gross premiums, not profits. While U.S. firms such as W.R. Berkley lead the market in profit performance.

If the US Congress imposes an additional tax on foreign overseas insurers and reinsurers as expected, insurance in the US, insurance will become scarcer and costlier. According to the Boston economic consulting firm the Brattle group Group of Boston, the tax increase would not only reduce the supply of reinsurance throughout the US by at least 20%, while hurricane prone Floridians would have to pay $500 million more in annual premiums,including an extra $66 million for home owners insurance.

To put it simply, reinsurance is back-up insurance. The entire US industry spreads its risk around the widest possible area through a Global network of foreign and domestic re-insurers. By taxing these companies excessively they will avoid doing business in the US and the costs for the "insurance safety net" will go up, directly affecting the consumers.

EU-Digest




Turks start to organize against Internet control by their government - by Cinar Kiper

On Saturday nearly 2,000 gathered in a rally in Istanbul against Internet censorship, citing over 5,000 websites that have been blocked by the government for having "inappropriate content." The protesters marched down Istanbul's central Istiklal Avenue chanting slogans for YouTube and against the Transportation Minister, whose Ministry is responsible for site bans.

The rally was organized by the Common Platform Against Internet Censorship, a platform of over 50 non-governmental organizations established last month in response to the government's blocking of several Google services on June 3.


The first article of the platform's declaration states, " Internet users' right to freedom of thought and access to information cannot be blocked." Turks have dealt with Internet censorship for years, and even though the continuing ban on popular video-sharing website YouTube since May 2008 has had the most publicity, thousands of sites have been blocked, to the point where Reporters Without Borders (RSF) put Turkey on its "under surveillance" list for Internet censorship earlier this year, alongside countries such as Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Eritrea.

For more: Roundup: Turks start to organize against Internet control

7/20/10

Turkey says :‘Europe does not understand the sacrifices that Turkey has made’

FT.com / UK

Turkey says : "‘Europe does not understand the sacrifices that Turkey has made’

By Delphine Strauss

Published: July 20 2010 20:35 | Last updated: July 20 2010 20:35

The presence of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Srebrenica this month to commemorate the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims was a sign of Turkey’s growing involvement in the fraught field of Balkan diplomacy, writes Delphine Strauss.

In the past year, Ankara has helped mediate between Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and to reconcile rival factions in Serbia’s majority-Muslim Sandzak region. It also helped persuade Belgrade – where Mr Erdogan has just signed trade deals and a visa exemption – to issue in March its first formal condemnation of the Srebrenica killings."

Convicted drug dealer Bouterse chosen as Suriname president by Suriname parliament

Former coup leader and military strongman Desi Bouterse was elected president of Suriname by the South American country's parliament on Monday, lawmakers said. The parliament made the selection by 36 votes out of 50 after Bouterse, 64, who led a 1990 coup and has faced accusations of drug-trafficking and human rights violations, initially failed to gain a sufficient majority in May elections.

"The Netherlands must request other countries for the extradition of Desi Bouterse if he sets foot on their territory", says former Dutch Lower House Speaker Frans Weisglas. The former Speaker of the House Weisglas was for years also the MP specializing within the conservative coalition (VVD) in the relations with Suriname. Weisglas believes the election of Bouterse as president will make a "pariah state" of Suriname. 

On the TV program NOVA, he predicted an economic decline and international isolation for the country. Weisglas is also not convinced that international treaties rule out the arrest of Bouterse because they assume immunity for presidents. "Legal experts differ in their views on this. Is Bouterse inviolable? I consider that the Netherlands should not accept this in advance. If he travels to countries like Brazil or the US, the Netherlands (EU) must ask these countries to extradite him. The Netherlands must at least try this,." says Weisglas.

Bouterse was elected by the Surinamese parliament thanks to the support of two former rivals, one of them being Ronnie Brunswijk, whose paramilitary troops fought Bouterse's military regime in a jungle war in the 1908s.

A weak"diplomatic" US government declaration on the election of Bouterse came as a surprise to many diplomats in the Caribbean, Latin America and the EU, since both Bouterse and Brunswijk have been convicted of large-scale drug-dealings, while Bouterse is still a suspect of the murder of 15 political opponents in 1982 and on trial in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. Some diplomats are even comparing Bouterse to former Panamanian President Noriega, who was overthrown after the US invaded Panama.


EU-Digest

Turkey’s EU negotiations at the crossroads - by Brian Self

Following recent criticism by the United States that the European Union was pushing Turkey away from the bloc, the EU sought this week to reaffirm its commitment to Turkey’s accession by sending a high level delegation to Ankara, led by the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. US concerns that the EU was rebuffing Turkey were first expressed by Defence Secretary Robert Gates five weeks ago, prompted also by Turkey’s breakdown in relations with Israel – a breakdown that together with Turkey’s political support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions suggested Turkey was leaning to the Arab and Islamic world. Gates told Reuters on a visit to London he personally thought if there was anything to the notion that Turkey was moving eastward, it was in his view, “In no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought,” Over a week ago President Obama reiterated Gate’s message in a newspaper interview, saying Turkey could end up seeking alliances outside the West if the European Union keeps it dangling over its bid for membership.

Note EU-Digest: the question is not what the US says or wants, but rather how Turkey is meeting EU requirements for membership. For example on a key issue, Freedom of Speech, which Turkey keeps shoving under the carpet, we see that Turkey still has banned more websites than any other country in Europe, and ranks with countries like Iran and Burma. Google's hugely popular "YouTube" site has already been banned for two years in Turkey because of videos officials say have denigrated Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. And this is only the tip of the iceberg of the many unresolved problems.

For more: Turkey’s EU negotiations at the crossroads | The Agonist

Religious Provocation or a Woman's Right?: Europe's Fear of the Burqa - by Juliane von Mittelstaedt and Stefan Simons

The French are close to passing an outright ban of the burqa. Spain and Italy may soon follow suit. But is legislating prohibitions on the wearing of the veil the right way for Europe to deal with the cultural conflict?"
For more:  Religious Provocation or a Woman's Right?: Europe's Fear of the Burqa - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

European offshore wind connections heading for record year says EWEA

Some 333 MW of offshore wind capacity has been connected to the grid in
Europe during the first half of 2010 and a further 440 MW has been installed
but not yet connected, the European Wind Energy Association said Tuesday.

In all, 118 offshore wind turbines were connected to the grid in the
first half of 2010, the EWEA said. The capacity total of 333 MW is "well over
half the 577 MW installed offshore last year," it said. A further 151 turbines
are in place and awaiting grid connection. Overall, 16 offshore wind farms totaling 3,972 MW
are under construction. Of these, four entered full operation during the half year: Poseidon in
Denmark, Alpha Ventus in Germany, and Gunfleet Sands and Robin Rigg in the UK.

To date in Europe there are 948 offshore wind turbines in 43 fully
operational offshore wind farms, with a total capacity of 2,396 MW, the EWEA
said.
For more: Platts: RSS Feed Detailed News

7/19/10

Aircraft Industry: Gripen, Eurofighter in Farnborough show-off

Two fighter aircraft in the running for the Indian Air Force (IAF) competition for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) are going to be putting their best feet forward next week at the Farnborough International Air Show in the United Kingdom.

While Saab will be making the international public debut of its Gripen NG demonstrator aircraft, first at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, and then at Farnborough, the Eurofighter Typhoon will be displayed with full weapons payload, flying with all 13 hard points occupied. This will include four Paveway II laser guided bombs, 3 fuel tanks, four AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and two ASRAAMs (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles), which the aircraft will be carrying while ‘pulling up to 5.5G and in excess of 20 degrees angle of attack’, according to a press release.

The Indian Minister of State for Defense, Dr. MM Pallam Raju will also be present at the air show, along with Secretary, Defense Production, Raj Kumar Singh and Air Marshal S Mukerji, Commander-in-Chief, Southern Air Command.

For more: Gripen, Eurofighter in Farnborough show-off | StratPost

Dutch Soccer Star Wesley Sneijder’s Wedding

Following his team’s second place finish at the World Cup, Dutch soccer star Wesley Sneijder focused on his next goal– saying “I do” to his love, TV presenter Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen.

Fans who had gathered outside the Church of San Giusto e Clemente in Castelnuovo Berardenga, not far from Siena, Italy to wish the couple well on July 17, 2010 heard the clip-clop of horses’ herald the arrival of the bride in an open carriage. A lace-edged veil trailing behind her, the fabric of her multi-tiered wedding gown gently swayed as she began her walk down a white aisle runner which would lead her to the man to whom she had become betrothed at Christmas 2009 after a year-long romance, the Daily Mail reported.

Neither the World Cup final loss nor the controversy which has cast a shadow over their love story could put a damper on the joy of the couple’s special day, as evident by the beaming smiles of the bride and groom as a shower of rice tossed by family and friends rained down upon them as they exited the church, seemingly christening the couple’s union.


For more: Dutch Soccer Star Wesley Sneijder’s Wedding | Lovetripper.com Romantic Travel, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons

Oil spill must spark energy revolution - by Robert P. Cady

Years ago disgruntled US tax payers famously dumped the king’s tea into Boston Harbor. It led to revolution. Today, one of the world’s richest corporations is dumping oil in the Gulf of Mexico. We can only hope that this, too, leads to revolution.

This horrendous ecological and economic disaster may be the positive opportunity that the progressives in this country have been waiting for. The oil industry is suddenly vulnerable and our president has an incredible opportunity to pull a John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy asked the country to pull together to get a man on the moon in the 1960s. No expense was to be spared and the American people were asked to support the program that was not only a huge gamble but also promised massive spending. The government funding coffers were opened to universities, corporate research centers and entrepreneurs.

For more: Oil spill must spark energy revolution | ajc.com

20 possible causes of cancer named - by Maggie Fox

The American Cancer Society and three US federal agencies have named 19 chemicals and shift work as potential causes of cancer that deserve more investigation.

The group published a report July 15 with the backing of international experts who said the 20 potential causes they identified had fairly good evidence that they may be a danger and deserved more follow-up.

Most are familiar names, such as chloroform, formaldehyde and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, but the list includes indium phosphide, a relatively new compound used in making flat-screen televisions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute who also helped sponsor the report also named a number of cancer causing agents.

For more: 20 possible causes of cancer named - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

EURO: After Tumult, Debt Worries Ease in Europe - by Graham Bowley

Just two months ago, Europe’s sovereign debt problems seemed grave enough to imperil the global economic recovery. Now, at least some investors are treating it as the crisis that wasn’t.

Spain held an auction of 15-year bonds last week that went off without a hitch, raising 3 billion euros, or about $3.8 billion, at a relatively favorable interest rate of 5.116 percent. That was up from 4.434 percent on a debt sale in late April, though the latest one was far more heavily subscribed. How quickly investor psychology has changed.

“Europe has had a pretty good crisis,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “In the short term, it made a number of very constructive decisions that had the effect of calming down the markets or shifting market attention elsewhere.”

Indeed, there has been a string of calming news of late: well-subscribed bond auctions in Portugal and Italy, a deal to freeze wages in Greece as it tries to rein in its public spending, and signs that German industry, so important for the rest of Europe, is growing more strongly than expected, according to data for May.


For more: After Tumult, Debt Worries Ease in Europe - NYTimes.com

Aircraft Industry - Over 1,300 Exhibitors from 38 Countries @ Farnborough Airshow 2010

Farnborough International Airshow opens today (Monday, 19 August 2010), for the 47th internationally acclaimed airshow where trade customers can discover the latest technological innovations and members of the public can witness great aviation in action.With over 1,300 exhibitors from 38 countries, the airshow, organised by Farnborough International, is the one of the world’s largest temporary exhibitions covering 247 acres with anticipated attendance of 250,000 visitors from around the globe.

Airbus will present in-flight demonstrations of its two flagships, the A400M and the A380. The A380, the world’s most modern and eco-efficient passenger aircraft in service today, will fly every day whilst the A400M will demonstrate its versatility and manoeuvrability from Monday to Thursday.

For more: Over 1,300 Exhibitors from 38 Countries @ Farnborough Airshow 2010 19 August 2010)

7/18/10

US Politics: Obama's Double-Cross - by Ken Blackwel

Last spring, President Obama managed to corral the votes of a half dozen formerly pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives for his takeover of health care. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) had been a staunch supporter of pro-life initiatives for nearly twenty years in Congress. Tragically for him, and even more tragically for the country, Stupak fell in line behind the White House. For months he had held out, bravely. Then, at the eleventh hour, he caved in.

To help Mr. Stupak, President Obama agreed to give him and his allies an Executive Order that they said would prevent the newly enacted ObamaCare legislation from subsidizing abortions.

This is the boldest admission yet from the Obama administration that the President's Executive Order on taxpayer-funded abortion was a sham. The fact that the high-risk pool insurance program in Pennsylvania will use [$160 million] in taxpayer dollars to fund abortions is unconscionable." President Obama's Chicago politics and double-speak are hurting him. The latest public opinion polls -- including one from the CBS News organization -- show that Americans are deeply disappointed with this president's performance in office. Such great promise. Such poor delivery.

For more: Ken Blackwell: Obama's Double-Cross

Chris Patten urges bolder EU approach over Middle East conflict

The European Union must shake off US dominance and take a bolder approach in pressing for a settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, former Conservative minister and EU commissioner Chris Patten said today on a visit to Gaza.

Israel's policy of blockading Gaza had been a "terrible failure – immoral, illegal and ineffective", he said, which had "deliberately triggered an economic and social crisis which has many humanitarian consequences".

In an interview with the Guardian, he suggested it was time to reassess the isolation of Hamas, saying that approach had failed to weaken it.

For more: Chris Patten urges bolder EU approach over Middle East conflict | World news | The Guardian

Germany Reaps the Euro's Reward - by Simon Kennedy

Many German voters have balked at the cost of rescuing Greece and, by extension, the euro. Better, they argue, to return to the old deutsche mark and have thrifty Germany stand on its own than stick with the failed experiment of monetary union, especially union with undisciplined players like Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

Yet rising share prices and foreign sales at such German blue chips as BMW and Siemens (SI) show why it may be worth keeping the single currency even as voters complain. The overall drop in the euro this year has given German exports a nice boost by making them cheaper. Moreover, the introduction of the euro in 1999 forced German companies long ago to lower labor costs and become even more competitive.

The payoff from all this pain is clear: German unemployment has dropped to 7.7 percent, near an 18-year low, and the DAX, up more than 4 percent since January, is the euro zone's best-performing major stock index this year.

For more: Germany Reaps the Euro's Reward - BusinessWeek

World celebrates Mandela's birthday

One of the world’s greatest statesmen, Nelson Mandela will celebrate his 92nd birthday in the company of his family this Sunday. Mandela, the global icon who campaigned tirelessly for peace and emancipation of his people, will remain in Johannesburg for an event he has occasionally celebrated in Qunu, the village where he grew up.

After spending 27 years in prison between 1962 and 1990 for his role in fighting the apartheid regime, Madiba (his clan name) became the first President of post-apartheid South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He also served as one of the prime movers behind the country’s successful bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. On Sunday, some of the world’s sport stars, celebrities and renowned personalities will celebrate the life of a man who selflessly gave up three decades of his life in working towards equality for all and global peace. FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter also paid a special tribute to Madiba on this special day.

Born in the rural village of Mvezo in the former Transkie, Madiba spent his childhood in Qunu village, about 20 kilometres from Mthatha. His early years were spent in this area until he left for higher education to Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape. It is here that his thinking was shaped and began his devotion and quest for freedom. After moving to Johannesburg, Madiba began his open defiance to the system and was consequently arrested. Freed in 1990 after years of perennial struggling in Robben Island, he led his country to a peaceful transition. This year, Madiba’s birthday will be celebrated worldwide as ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’, an occasion endorsed by the United Nations to commemorate his “contribution to the culture of peace and freedom”. The Day will be observed annually every 18 July. Current South African President Jacob Zuma is also due to deliver a speech in Qunu on Sunday.

For more: FIFA.com - World celebrates Mandela's birthday

Britain: BP oil spill hangs over Cameron mission to Washington

Unfortunately for David Cameron, Britain's new prime minister, it will not be all smiles when he touches down for his first visit to Washington since taking office two months ago.

Despite signs of a possible breakthrough in the battle to contain the massive BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the dark clouds of the huge environmental disaster are likely to overshadow Cameron's talks with US President Barack Obama.

It was also confirmed in London that Cameron will travel without his wife, Samantha, who is heavily pregnant with the couple's third child. Her absence - and planned first encounter with US First Lady Michelle Obama - is depriving the visit of a much-needed touch of glamour.

For more: BP oil spill hangs over Cameron mission to Washington (Feature) - Monsters and Critics

Spain: Windpower energy supplies breaking records

Wind power is breaking new records in Spain, accounting for just over 40 percent of all electricity consumed during a brief period last weekend. As heavy winds lashed Spain on Saturday evening wind parks generated 9,862 megawatts of power which translated to 40.8 percent of total consumption. Between Friday and Sunday wind power accounted for an average of 28 percent of all electricity demand in Spain. Spain’s wind power generation equaled that of hydropower for the first time in 2007.

In July the government approved legislation that will allow offshore wind parks to be set up along the nation’s vast coastline in an effort to boost the use of renewable energy sources. While more expensive than land-based wind farms, offshore wind parks can take advantage of stronger, steadier coastal breezes.

Spain, which along with Germany and Denmark, is among the three biggest producers of wind power in the 27-nation European Union, is aiming to triple the amount of energy it derives from renewable sources by 2020.

7/17/10

Is the Airbus A380 really that different? - YES It Is...

When Singapore Airlines first started flying the Airbus A380 in 2007, it was still a big question mark whether the aircraft would be a hit with passengers. Early indications were that the plane was a huge success in terms of passenger comfort and after nearly three years in service, routes that have the A380 are at near capacity.

Just last month, Emirates Airlines placed a mammoth order for 32 more Airbus A380s worth more than $10 billion -- the airline will have 90 super jumbos in total. Other airlines like Qantas, Lufthansa and Air France also fly the A380 on some of their most lucrative routes.

For More: Is the Airbus A380 really that different? - CNN.com

The Netherlands: Geert Wilders Is Building An International Alliance Against Islam - Isabelle Shafer

The controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, reputed for being openly Anti-Islam, now wants to spread his message around the world by setting in motion an international alliance against Islam, starting with the U.S., U.K., Canada, France and Germany.

One of his goals is to stop immigration from Islamic countries to Western States all together. His motto is simple: "Stop Islam, defend freedom." He goes so far as to call Islam a "fascist religion".

Turkey Unveils Its Own Drone Plane For First Time,

Turkey on Friday unveiled its first drone airplane, a surveillance craft able to fly for 24-hour stretches over the rugged mountains where Kurdish rebels are waging a deadly insurgency.

Turkey's eagerness to produce it own military technology mirrors its increasingly robust and independent diplomacy in the region. Producing its own drone fleet would allow Turkey to sever an important link with Israel, which has provided Turkey with drones even amid rising tensions over the Gaza Strip. While the success of the Turkish-made drone is far from assured, Turkish engineers said they were confident it would become part of the country's arsenal. Ozcan Ertem, head of the project, said an armed version of the Anka, or Phoenix, was possible but not in the works for now. Some 43 countries have now developed unmanned aerial vehicles, which have proved to be extremely effective in gathering intelligence and, in U.S. hands, staging attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Ertem said four or five countries, including Pakistan, which has also sought drones from the U.S., are expected to place orders for the Anka once the Turkish Air Force issues an order probably later this year. The first system, comprising three planes and remote-control units, was expected to be delivered to the Turkish Air Force in 2013.

For More: Turkey Unveils Its Own Drone Plane For First Time, EU | WSAV TV

A Crude Awaking In the Gulf - by Tony Munoz,

The BP oil spill has exposed the US’s inability to cease oil production in the Gulf of Mexico even in the face of an unprecedented ecological disaster. Even as the crude soils the coastwise beaches, sensitive wetlands and destroys businesses, the offshore industries are demanding the administration end its six month moratorium on deepwater drilling. On the human level it’s about jobs, but the loss of production is estimated to be 26,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the fourth quarter and 70,000 bpd in 2011, which will have a profound effect on the nation’s economic engine and its ability to emerge from the global economic crisis.

The US can ill-afford to fall behind in the global economy especially while its debt is off the charts and unemployment is at 9.5 percent, which is expected to remain at this level throughout 2010. The GOM produces 8 percent of the entire US domestic production accounting for 28 percent of liquid consumption. The US maintains 2 percent of world oil reserves and the GOM accounts for 19 percent of the reserves. Meanwhile, US demand for oil and gas is expected to rebound by 5 percent this year even with tepid economic growth.

For more; The Maritime Executive Magazine :: A Crude Awaking In the Gulf

7/16/10

More than half new power in US, EU is green: study

More than half of all new electricity capacity added in the United States and Europe last year was from renewable power such as wind and solar, a body backed by the International Energy Agency and the UN reported. Last year was also a record year for the amount of new green power added to the grid, partly a result of shifting deployment and manufacture to emerging economies including Brazil, India and China, from flagging developed countries.


"In 2009, China produced 40 per centof the world's solar PV supply, 30 per centof the world's wind turbines, up from 10 per centin 2007," REN21, or the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, said in a report on Thursday.

For more; More than half new power in US, EU is green: study - Hindustan Times

US Politcs - Obama is Getting Things Done and Pushes Through Agenda Despite Political Risks

If passage of the financial regulatory overhaul on Thursday proves anything about President Obama, it is this: He knows how to push big bills through a balky Congress. But Mr. Obama’s legislative success poses a paradox: while he may be winning on Capitol Hill, he is losing with voters at a time of economic distress and soon may be forced to scale back his ambitions, The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes.

The financial regulatory bill is the final piece of a legislative hat trick that also included the stimulus bill and the landmark new health care law. Over the last 18 months, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have made considerable inroads in passing what could be the most ambitious agenda in decades.

For more: Obama Pushes Through Agenda Despite Political Risks - DealBook Blog - NYTimes.com

US economy - Corporations: Stop Hoarding!


The American growth engine is starving for fuel. Political support for further government pump-priming has drained away. Consumers are tapped out. And exports will never come close to providing the needed economic boost.

Only corporations have the money to sustain today's fragile economic recovery. By the end of this year, American businesses will have amassed half a trillion dollars in savings. But they are disinclined to spend it.
Getting corporate leaders to act like capitalists, not Scrooges -- to invest rather than save -- is the nation's most pressing economic challenge. 

If the country is to avoid looming economic stagnation, the government may need to use the threat of tax sticks and the enticement of investment carrots to get corporations to begin to take risks again and pledge their assets to America's future. "The corporate reinvestment process has broken down," said Rob Parenteau, the head of a global financial advisory firm. "And when that happens, growth is short-circuited."


For more: National Journal Magazine - Corporations: Stop Hoarding!

The Associated Press: Euro rises above $1.30 as worried investors eye US

The euro rose Friday to its highest level in two months, topping $1.30 as worried investors shift their focus from the European debt crisis to slowing growth in the U.S.
The dollar also hit a low for the year versus the Japanese yen as investors sought out the Japanese currency as their preferred safe-haven asset.

The dollar got a huge boost this year as European governments said their debts were swelling, triggering fears about the effect of defaults on European banks and slashed government spending on weak economies. However the dollar is slipping now due to easing concerns about a banking crisis in Europe, coupled with declining interest rates in the U.S. said Ashraf Laidi, the chief market strategist at CMC Markets in London.

For more: The Associated Press: Euro rises above $1.30 as worried investors eye US

In Europe, Obstacles To A More Perfect Union : NPR

In Europe, Obstacles To A More Perfect Union : NPR

"In Europe, Obstacles To A More Perfect Union

by Rob Gifford

July 16, 2010

If you want to understand why the euro is having so many problems, you don't have to look at complex details of fiscal policy or the ups and downs of a united monetary policy.

Just look at soccer.

For the last month, as the World Cup unfolded in South Africa, fans filled the public squares of ancient European capitals.

In the center of Amsterdam on July 11, thousands of people draped in the orange colors of the Dutch soccer team crammed into bars and public squares to watch their team in the World Cup final."

Euro Zone Is Overcoming Debt Crisis, Fillon Says

The euro zone is overcoming the “worst crisis in its history,” which was triggered by debt and not by a weakness of the single currency, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said.

“The crisis is not a crisis of the euro, it’s a crisis of sovereign debt, which we are now resolving,” Fillon said today in Tokyo. The euro is a “permanent” currency, and the debt and deficits of European countries aren’t as bad as those of the U.S. or Japan, Fillon said.The euro zone is overcoming the “worst crisis in its history,” which was triggered by debt and not by a weakness of the single currency, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said.

“The crisis is not a crisis of the euro, it’s a crisis of sovereign debt, which we are now resolving,” Fillon said today in Tokyo. The euro is a “permanent” currency, and the debt and deficits of European countries aren’t as bad as those of the U.S. or Japan, Fillon said.

For more: Euro Zone Is Overcoming Debt Crisis, Fillon Says - BusinessWeek

7/15/10

EU backs Turkey's constitutional reform

A senior European Union official has announced the EU's backing for Turkey's constitutional reform efforts, saying a package of amendments to the current Constitution is mostly in line with EU expectations.

For more: EU backs Turkey's constitutional reform

Europe Warns Obama: "This Relationship Is Not Working"

Europe’s disappointment with Persident Barack Obama’s presidency was laid bare Thursday as the EU’s most senior figure called for a dramatic effort to revive transatlantic relations. The President of the European Commission said the new era at the White House was in danger of becoming a “missed opportunity” for Europe.

José Manuel Barroso said the EU-U.S. relationship was not living up to its potential. The criticism follows a series of fundamental disagreements on how to deal with the economic crisis, climate change and trade reform.
The feelings of a deepening rift are mutual. Senior U.S. figures said Obama could never live up to Europe’s sky-high expectations.

For more: FOXNews.com - Europe Warns Obama: This Relationship Is Not Working

World Cup Soccer: Tactical trends that came out of 2010 World Cup - by Jonathan Wilson

It is a process that has been going on for the better part of a decade, but this, surely, was the tournament at which 4-4-2 drew its last breath, at least as an attacking formation. As Johan Cruyff pointed out last week, the key to maintaining possession is the creation of triangles, and 4-4-2 simply doesn't lend itself to that. Or, to give theory more axiomatic form, when attempting to maintain possession, a triangle will always beat a line.

That's the theory; in practical terms, of course, the reason why 4-4-2 was so popular for so long was because it offered a sound defensive structure -- only rare examples, such as Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan, had the discipline both to achieve the balance of structure and fluidity to play a pressing 4-4-2 as an attacking formation -- and as such, a broken team of eight plus two, it may endure. Its decline has been hastened, though, by the liberalization of the offside law.

For more: Tactical trends that came out of 2010 World Cup - Jonathan Wilson - SI.com

World Cup Soccer: Tactical trends that came out of 2010 World Cup - by Jonathan Wilson

It is a process that has been going on for the better part of a decade, but this, surely, was the tournament at which 4-4-2 drew its last breath, at least as an attacking formation. As Johan Cruyff pointed out last week, the key to maintaining possession is the creation of triangles, and 4-4-2 simply doesn't lend itself to that. Or, to give theory more axiomatic form, when attempting to maintain possession, a triangle will always beat a line.

That's the theory; in practical terms, of course, the reason why 4-4-2 was so popular for so long was because it offered a sound defensive structure -- only rare examples, such as Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan, had the discipline both to achieve the balance of structure and fluidity to play a pressing 4-4-2 as an attacking formation -- and as such, a broken team of eight plus two, it may endure. Its decline has been hastened, though, by the liberalization of the offside law.

For more: Tactical trends that came out of 2010 World Cup - Jonathan Wilson - SI.com

France - Bastille Day: Playing with press freedom means playing with fire

It’s July 14, Bastille day and the French national holiday. But the mood is somber. This country woke up today to see its press full – again – of inquisitorial headlines. The French don’t know it yet, but things are getting dangerously out of hand
‘Don’t ask for it, you might just get it’ goes the saying, and anyone watching the saddening events unfolding right now in this country, known as it is for its fine cultural and intellectual heritage, would understand why I just used it. The political witch-hunt which has been slowly picking up pace since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy to the Elysée is reaching frightening levels of intensity and seems to be spiraling out of control, literally as I write these words.

For more: Opinion: Playing with press freedom means playing with fire

7/14/10

Trichet Says It Would Be a Mistake to Underestimate Euro Area

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said investors shouldn’t underestimate the euro-area economy.

“There is a tendency among some investors and market participants to underestimate Europe’s ability to take bold decisions,” Trichet said in an interview with France’s Liberation published on the ECB’s website today. “In their defence, I would simply say that the institutional structure of Europe is very different to what they are used to, especially on the other side of the Atlantic. The decision-making processes are not the same. But it would be a mistake to underestimate Europe, in general, and the euro area, in particular.”

Trichet also said the ECB’s current monetary policy is “appropriate.”

For more: Trichet Says It Would Be a Mistake to Underestimate Euro Area - BusinessWeek

7/13/10

Sweeping support to ban full Islamic veil in Western Europe as France votes on Burka ban, survey shows

Get the burka, the head-to-toe Muslim veil, off the streets. That's the message from large majorities in numerous Western European countries as French parliamentarians gear up to vote on Tuesday on a controversial proposed bill that would make it illegal for Muslim women to wear the burka in public places, a new report suggests.
 
According to a survey conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center in April and May this year, support for banning the burka is especially high in France, where a whopping 82% are in favor of outlawing it in public places such as schools, hospitals and government offices, while just 17% are opposed to such measures. But the study also indicates that the garment, which has been the subject of much heated debate and controversy in Europe, is becoming increasingly unpopular in Germany, Britain, and Spain, where 71%, 62% and 59%, respectively, of those surveyed endorsed burka bans similar to the proposed French law in their own countries.

Americans, on the other hand, remain strongly opposed to such a law. Only 28% of those surveyed in the U.S. were in support of a burka ban while 65% disapproved.

For more: MUSLIM WORLD: Sweeping support to ban full Islamic veil in Western Europe as France votes on Burka ban, survey shows | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times