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8/31/10

The Sarrazin Debate: Germany Is Becoming Islamophobic - by Erich Follath

The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper called Sarrazin's book an "anti-Muslim dossier based on genetics." Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted with irritation. Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, suggested that the author consider joining the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

The interior minister of the city-state of Berlin, Ehrhart Körting, a member of the SPD, expects the book to trigger legal action over hate speech. "Thilo is currently drifting away," he says. "He always had a fondness for statistics. But in the integration debate he uses only those statistics that fit in with his image of the enemy."

For more: The Sarrazin Debate: Germany Is Becoming Islamophobic - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Insurance Industry - the Netherlands : AEGON repays EUR 500 million of government support

AEGON yesterday fulfilled its commitment to repay to the Dutch  State EUR 500 million of the 
EUR 3 billion in core capital the company secured through its largest shareholder, Vereniging
AEGON in 2008. AEGON announced its intention to repay EUR 500 million on August 17, 2010 when
it concluded the approval process with the European Commission.

With this payment of EUR 500 million, the amount repaid to the Dutch government
totals EUR 1.5 billion. The first EUR 1 billion was repaid on November 30,  2009.

For more: AEGON N.V. - AEGON repays EUR 500 million of government support | TradingMarkets.com

Schiphol terror suspects deny involvement, doubts arise in the US

Two men arrested at Schiphol airport at the behest of the US authorities on Monday have strongly denied any involvement in terrorism, lawyer Klaas-Arjen Krikke said on Tuesday evening.

Hezam al-Murisi (37) and 48-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to 'conspiracy to a terrorist criminal act' the public prosecution department said on Tuesday.
‘He (al-Murisi) is very shocked. He does not understand what is going on and denies ever having had anything to do with terrorism,' the lawyer said in the Telegraaf. 'He is very emotional and just wantst o go back to his family and sees all this as a bad dream.'

For more: DutchNews.nl - Schiphol terror suspects deny involvement, doubts arise in the US

8/30/10

‘Turkey: Rage’ and ‘visual impairment’ - by Nuray Mert

Right now, we see an extremely mean language of politics, personal vendettas and cheap election salvos in town squares. On one side, the laic-Republican camp fails to go beyond libels like “religionist organization,” “religious sect” and “villa with a pool” as they react against the social-political rise of conservatives. The most important reason why the laic-Republicans have become shallow is that they cannot recover from feeling helpless.

On the other side, the conservative camp cannot translate their reaction against the Republican revolution into a decent democratic political criticism. They suffer blind rage. Yes, they are trying very hard to break this cycle with the momentum of accumulated objections to the hard-line frame of the Republican regime. But the notion of “settling scores with the tutelage regime” is, as a matter of fact, not a move against a military-bureaucratic tutelage but a flat feeling of seeking a return game.On the other side, the conservative camp cannot translate their reaction against the Republican revolution into a decent democratic political criticism. They suffer blind rage. Yes, they are trying very hard to break this cycle with the momentum of accumulated objections to the hard-line frame of the Republican regime. But the notion of “settling scores with the tutelage regime” is, as a matter of fact, not a move against a military-bureaucratic tutelage but a flat feeling of seeking a return game.

Regardless of the referendum’s outcome, we are heading into the unknown. Politics requires the “management” of turmoil. It is to make the future as clear as possible. But seemingly, none of the political actors has the ability to do so. In all the chaos, the delirium of intellectuals is just saddening.

For the complete report: ‘Rage’ and ‘visual impairment’ - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Renault Testing Electric Vehicle Prototypes In Israel - by Derek Kreindle

Renault is currently testing prototypes from their upcoming electric vehicle range in Israel, with a view to selling them in the country by next year. The vehicles, known as the Renault Fluence Z.E. (for zero emissions), look just like normal Renault Fluence sedans, but run solely on electric power.

At first glance, Israel may seem like a strange place to focus EV efforts on, but it makes perfect sense upon closer examination. For starters, the, ahem, geopolitical concerns regarding the country and its petroleum-producing neighbors means that energy independence is crucial for the 7.3 million strong nation.

For more: Renault Testing Electric Vehicle Prototypes In Israel | AutoGuide.com News

An EU political union without a…Treaty - by Dennis Kefalakos

Towards the end of May 2010 the European Parliament held the Global Jean Monnet – ECSA World Conference with general theme, “The European Union after the Treaty of Lisbon”. On the second day of the conference the morning session was devoted to an issue under the title, “The EU as an international political and security actor.”

In any case the EU tries to convince the world that Eurozone state budgets will soon be sound and the Union will see to that. This means that state budgets will be approved first by the EU Commission and then be introduced to national parliaments. There in nothing more explicit than this, to signal an actual political…union where it counts, the economy, a development nobody wanted to hear of two years ago.

For more: An EU political union without a…Treaty - New Europe

Bundesbank executive provokes race outcry with book - by Kate Connolly

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has called for the dismissal from the central bank of a prominent board member who has repeatedly said that Muslim immigrants in Germany are unfit and unwilling to integrate into society.

The Bundesbank said that comments made by Thilo Sarrazin in a highly publicised new book were harmful to the bank and violated its code of conduct. It said it would meet with the banker before deciding about his future.
Sarrazin has unleashed an impassioned debate about Germany's immigrant population by saying that the behaviour of its members is putting the country under thre

For more: Bundesbank executive provokes race outcry with book | World news | The Guardian

France: Energy Ministry of France plans to call for tenders for proposed 3000 MW offshore wind farm

Pierre-Franck Chevet, an Environment and Energy Ministry official, said that the government is planning to earmark 5 of the 10 offshore locations measured for environmental compatibility exclusively for offshore wind turbine parks. He added that further studies on the locations are continuing and no final decision has been arrived at for inclusion in the proposed tenders. He added that the bid process will also decide the required engineering costs for each project to arrive at a price at which the French utilities will purchase power from the manufacturers. The government is planning to produce around 6000 MW offshore wind power by the year 2020.

For more: Offshore Wind » Energy Ministry of France plans to call for tenders for proposed 3000 MW offshore wind farm

GOLF: Europe's Ryder Cup team - by Karl MacGinty

Edoardo Molinari made it impossible for Colin Montgomerie to leave him out of the Ryder Cup side with his phenomenal performance at Gleneagles yesterday.

The young Italian's sensational victory at The Johnnie Walker Championship also helped copper-fasten Padraig Harrington's wild card for Celtic Manor.

8/29/10

US economy expected to falter

Further indications of a faltering US economy are expected to emerge this week as policymakers stand ready to employ additional stimulus measures.Economists forecast data on hiring and manufacturing output will show a slowing rate of recovery in the world’s largest economy.

This week’s economic reports will follow a weekend of conflicting suggestions from central bankers and economists gathered at a Federal Reserve symposium about how best to reinvigorate the economy’s emergence from the financial downturn.

For more: US economy expected to falter - The National Newspaper

Mercosur to discuss EU trade, Colombia-Venezuela spat

South American leaders were to meet Tuesday in the Argentine provincial capital San Juan at the Mercosur summit to discuss a trade agreement with the European Union and a showdown between Colombia and Venezuela. Relations between the South American neighbours reached a new low last month after Colombia accused Venezuela of harbouring leftist FARC rebels. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez then cut off diplomatic relations with Bogota and accused Colombia of attempting to incite a war. Presidents Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Sebastian Pinera of Chile and Evo Morales of Bolivia were also expected to attend Tuesday's meetings.

For more: Mercosur to discuss EU trade, Colombia-Venezuela spat | Earth Times News

Roma controversy kick-starts French election campaign

Although the next French presidential elections are not until 2012 and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is yet to announce his intention to run for re-election, analysts argue that the forced repatriation of Roma to Bulgaria and Romania has in fact kick-started the election campaign.

For more: Roma controversy kick-starts French election campaign | EurActiv

The Netherlands: Health - Low-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids Don't Protect Heart Patients = by Alan Mozes

Most heart patients who take low-dose omega-3 fatty acid supplements don't appear to gain any additional protection against further cardiac trouble, new Dutch research cautions.

For more: Low-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids Don't Protect Heart Patients

Italy’s hot autumn

Silvio Berlusconi has often been written off in the past by people wrongly predicting his imminent demise. But at the start of a new political season in Italy, few doubt that the 73-year old premier and media magnate is fighting for his political life. For years, one of the main buttresses supporting Mr Berlusconi’s premiership has been Gianfranco Fini, the leader of the right-of-centre Alleanza Nazionale party. But just before the summer break, Mr Fini – who has expressed disenchantment with Mr Berlusconi’s judicial and personal travails for some time – walked out of the centre-right coalition, depriving the prime minister of his parliamentary majority.

This rift sets the scene for what should be a dramatic autumn in Italian politics. At some point in the next few weeks, Mr Berlusconi will face a make or break confidence vote in the Italian chamber of deputies. Mr Fini may decide to continue giving the government parliamentary support for a while, uncertain what the consequences would be if the government falls. But it is also possible that he will deliver the coup de grace and vote the government down, plunging Italy into a full blown political crisis.

FT.com / Comment / Editorial - Italy’s hot autumn

Britain: Officials not sure why West Nile virus on the rise

As the number of those infected with West Nile virus in Nassau and Suffolk hits record highs, health officials say the reason remains somewhat of a mystery. Some theories, however, point to dry weather and the vulnerability of birds, the disease's host, experts said. "We can't say exactly why this is happening," Suffolk Health Commissioner James Tomarken said Friday.


For more: Officials not sure why West Nile virus on the rise

8/28/10

Roma reveal a rootless Europe - Christopher Caldwell

Last week in Lille a Catholic priest announced that he was praying that French president Nicolas Sarkozy would have a heart attack. The priest, Arthur Hervet, who has since retracted his words, is passionate about fair treatment for immigrant gypsies (or Roma, known in France as Roms). They are currently in the French president’s line of fire. In the Loire in mid-July a group of French gypsies (known in France as “travelling people”) attacked a police station with axes. Two weeks later, in Grenoble, Mr Sarkozy launched an “offensive sécuritaire”. He would break up 600 illegal encampments and squats, many of them occupied by immigrants from Romania, and repatriate the inhabitants.

For more: FT.com / Columnists / Christopher Caldwell - Roma reveal a rootless Europe

8/27/10

Middle East: Dealing with the Arabs and Israelis is a drama with no end.

There is a desperate need for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. But the last thing the Arabs and Israelis need are phony negotiations. This will only breed disillusionment, resentment, and cynicism about the possibility of peace based on human rights and justice. So rather than enter into negotiations for the sake of negotiations, the Obama Administration and the EU should exert some real political pressure in unity on Israel and the Arabs by cutting off all military and economic aid to once and for all get some commitment, and make clear that the framework for all negotiations will be based on international law, human rights, and UN resolutions. As long as these parties fail to do so, civil society must keep up the pressure through campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions to change these presently confusing and disturbing dynamics. Without someone seriously calling these parties to order, the Middle East will forever remain a powder keg.

EU-Digest

US Economy: Bernanke soothes fears over US economy - by Dave Shellock

 Growing fears about the outlook for the US economy sent nervous investors scrambling for the perceived safety of government bonds and the yen for most of this week as equities and commodities racked up hefty losses.
But there was a shift in sentiment on Friday as comments from Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve – plus a better than expected revision to US growth numbers – appeared to soothe frayed nerves.
For more: FT.com / FT's rolling global market overview - Overview: Bernanke soothes fears over economy

Aircraft Industry: Will Boeing pay for its latest Dreamliner delay? - by Ben Mutzabaugh

Boeing's latest delay to its ballyhooed Dreamliner model could test the patience of airlines that have ordered the jet. Already, Japan's ANA -- the 787 launch customer -- has come out publicly to call Boeing's latest delay "regrettable."

Now, some on Wall Street are wondering out loud as to whether Boeing might face some more material consequences as its Dreamliner customers scramble to cope with the latest 787 delay.
"Boeing's patient customers continue to wait, and hopefully the company will be able to negotiate its way out of paying material cash compensation for the delays," Carol Levenson, a debt analyst at Gimme Credit in New York, says to USA TODAY.

For more: Will Boeing pay for its latest Dreamliner delay? – USATODAY.com

EU Barometer Poll: Europeans loosing faith in EU

Just 42% of Europeans say they trust the European Union, according to a new opinion poll, down six percentage points in just six months. The survey also found that fewer than half of Europe's citizens see their country's membership of the EU as a positive thing, but the European Commission is clinging to the positive elements of the report, particularly on economic governance.

A Commission spokesperson said the results show that citizens are asking for "more Europe", adding that the news comes as a boost ahead of next month's informal EU summit, which will focus on economic governance.

EU-Digest editorial comment : that is an amazing comment by the EU Commission spokesperson. He/she should have said that the recent Eurobarameter poll results really show that the EU Commission is doing a poor communicating job on the positives of EU membership.

For more go to: http://www.euractiv.com/en/pa/europeans-losing-faith-eu-news-497209?utm_source=EurActiv+Newsletter&utm_campaign=fee374f15d-my_google_analytics_key&utm_medium=email

Greek FinMin: recession to be milder than forecast

Greece's finance minister says his country's recession is milder than expected and that the economy will shrink by less than the forecast 4 percent this year.

George Papaconstantinou told deputies in Parliament Wednesday that there was now "light at the end of the tunnel" though problems remain.

He repeated the government's position that there was no question of Greece restructuring its debt.

For more: Greek FinMin: recession to be milder than forecast - AP News Wire, Associated Press News - Salon.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

US GDP Growth falls sharply in second quarter - by Ariana Eunjung Cha

The US Commerce Department slashed its estimate for U.S. GDP growth in the second quarter from a 2.4 percent annual rate to 1.6 percent, confirming fears that economic growth has slowed to a crawl.
While the numbers were grim, they were expected to have been worse. The growth rate topped calculations by economists who had forecast that the earlier estimate would be almost halved to an annualized rate of 1.4 percent.

Corporate investment in such big-ticket items as new machinery and computers drove a lot of the growth in the second quarter but trouble in the nation's housing sector, unemployment and, especially, trade all were a drag.

For more go to : http://voices.washingtonpost.com/political-economy/2010/08/gdp.html

8/26/10

Germany warns Serbia: no EU entry without Kosovo deal


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned Serbia Thursday that it had no chance of joining the European Union unless it adopted a "cooperative" stance on Kosovo.

Westerwelle said after talks with Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the EU but underlined that the bloc would not take on new members that have festering external disputes.

"In our view, one can only be a member of the European Union if one aims for cooperation and is prepared to resolve neighbourly difficulties cooperatively," he told reporters when asked about Serbia's position on Kosovo.

For more: Germany warns Serbia: no EU entry without Kosovo deal < German news | Expatica Germany

Suriname president Bouterse falls ill, cedes power to No. 2

Suriname's newly elected president — former dictator Desi Bouterse — is ailing from an undisclosed illness and has temporarily ceded power to his vice president in the South American country. Vice President Robert Ameerali announced Thursday in Parliament that he will be in charge until Sept. 2 while Bouterse rests at home. The vice president is refusing to disclose more specifics about Bouterse's illness, telling Parliament members only that the 64-year-old leader "is doing well and no one needs to worry."

For more: The Associated Press: Suriname president Bouterse falls ill, cedes power to No. 2

Polish gay rights group hits out at new textbook

The education ministry shrugged off the complaint, saying textbooks were approved on the advice of experts and individual teachers were free to choose which ones they used. The 'Association for Diversity' - a Polish Gay Rights group - said a Government textbook, one of two authorized recently for use in family and sexual education classes, limits itself to a narrow, traditional view of homosexuality espoused by Poland's powerful Catholic Church.

For more: Polish gay rights group hits out at new textbook | Reuters

Dow drops below 10,000 as Europe bounces

The Dow Jones closed below the sensitive 10,000 level on Thursday, as investors shrugged off better US jobs figures and a modest rebound in European stocks and braced for a sharp revision of US economic growth on Friday.

href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/7965295/Dow-drops-below-10000-as-Europe-bounces.html">For more: Dow drops below 10,000 as Europe bounces - Telegraph

European press thrashes France on Roma

Libération says “France stands accused” and bemoans that "the degraded image of Sarkozy’s France isn’t just an image. It’s a reality as reported day after day in the foreign press,” a selection of which is reprinted in the Parisian daily to drive the point home. Trouw pronounces the return of the Roma "in flagrant breach of the European principle of equality”, which is why "the European Commission ought to take France to task”. "Sarkozy is conning the nation," adds the Dutch daily.

Note EU-Digest: the Dutch might soon be following the example of Mr. Sarkozy if Geert Wilders becomes part of the new Dutch Government.

European press thrashes France on Roma | Presseurop – English

8/25/10

Euro up on dollar after strong German report

The euro is up against the dollar after a key German economic report showed increasing confidence in Europe's biggest economy.

The 16-nation currency climbed to $1.2692 on Wednesday, from $1.2673 late Tuesday, after the Ifo research institute said its business confidence index rose for the sixth straight month in August to 106.7 points.

A very weak report on U.S. home sales in July hurt the dollar on Tuesday, pushing it to its lowest level against the Japanese yen since June 1995. The dollar bought 84.48 yen on Wednesday, up from 83.61 yen on Tuesday.

For more: Euro up on dollar after strong German report - BusinessWeek: "

E.U. Bid To Undo Cameron's Remarks On Pakistan Puts The Country On Top Of Their Agenda

The European Union (E.U.) has moved the flood-stricken Pakistan to the top of its agenda.
This is said to be to undo the damage to E.U.-Pakistan relations caused by British Prime Minister David Cameron's comments about Islamabad "exporting terror."

"The damage Cameron caused with those comments really hasn't helped us," an unidentified E.U. diplomat reportedly said, adding that it damages the other 27 [EU states] with what he said, but it was brought into focus the core issues and the need for a wider, better policy.

For more: E.U. In Bid To Undo Cameron's Remarks On Pakistan Puts Them On Top Of Their Agenda

The Decadence Of The Developed World Is Alive And Well - by RM

Last night before I went to bed I was watching the news and the horrific events that are taking place in Pakistan. Heart-wrenching scenes of all those people and children without food and water. Probably not the right thing to do just before you go to bed? When you see this misery you realize how decadent the developed nations have become. Most of us basically don't care what happens to other people, unless, maybe, millions get killed, and we are lured into giving a fraction of our abundance by means of spectacularly orchestrated commercial media and entertainment events.

Today we are mainly impressed by financial wealth and commercial success, accepting flashy sound-bites from the media and government for the gospel truth. We have basically shut off relying on our instincts and conscious and mainly follow our impulses and desires. Buying what we don't really need, desiring, lusting for, and acting upon what we can not morally justify.

All this will surely one day (it probably already has begun) come to haunt us and start a cycle of repercussions and changes that will turn the tables, not only on nations but also for individuals. If this all sounds pretty depressing to you, that also proves the point that we prefer sticking our head in the sand rather than facing reality, and acting upon it.

EU-Digest

8/24/10

Amsterdam - Storm Topples famous Anne Frank Tree

The immense chestnut tree that cheered Anne Frank as she and her family hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam was toppled Monday by wind and heavy rain. The once-mighty tree, now diseased and rotted through the trunk, snapped about three feet above ground, crashed across several gardens and damaged a brick wall and several sheds. But nearby buildings — including the Anne Frank House museum — were unscathed, and no one was injured.

For more: World Briefing - Europe - The Netherlands - Storm Topples Anne Frank Tree - NYTimes.com

The Netherlands: Dutch Set To Legalise Online Poker

The government in the Netherlands looks set to finally legalize online poker and issue its own internet gaming licences. The plans to issue gaming licences to online operators within the Netherlands comes after an independent commission, set up by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, ruled that poker was less likely to lead to addiction than other casino games. The report also suggested that only Dutch poker companies be allowed to target players in the country with internet service providers having to block access to oversees card rooms.

For more: Dutch Set To Legalise Online Poker: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Is State Capitalism Overtaking Laissez Faire Capitalism

Well at least it seems so. Across Europe, and much of the rest of the developed world, the recent wave of state interventionism is meant to lessen the pain of the current global recession and restore ailing economies to health. It is believed that Reaganomics,Thatcherism, Bushonomics indirectly were the underlying cause of this world-wide economic disaster, which struck the world in 2008 and 2009.

China is today's world's leading practitioner of state capitalism, a system in which governments use state-owned companies and investment vehicles to dominate market activity. The primary difference between this form of capitalism and the Western, more market-driven laissez fair variety, is that decisions on how assets should be valued and resources allocated are made by political officials (not market forces) with political goals in mind.

Most economists suggest that in China, robust growth is a good thing, as long as it doesn't have second-order effects that undermine the leadership's monopoly hold on political power. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other governments practice various forms of this system, but China gives state capitalism its global significance.

Even the US under the Obama Administration is now slowly moving towards more state capitalism, with the conservatives obviously crying wolf. What the conservatives seem to forget, say the economic experts, is that in the past the US succeeded with laissez faire capitalism because they were the center and the driving force of the world's most dynamically growing market.

Now the situation has changed and the US is not the most dynamically growing market in the world anymore. Today its China, which has the same advantage the Americans had in the past. To claim that their dynamism comes as a result of state capitalism — and illicit ways of combining political aims with corporate ones - is too far fetched. They earned it and we can learn a lot from them.

EU-Digest

US elections: Republican Leader Boehner’s Economic Speech - Swampland - "Let's backslide toward the Bush era.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz yesterday on a DNC conference call with reporters, responded: “I look at this as a smoking-the-drapes moment for John Boehner, not a measuring-them. I mean, he really is smoking the drapes if he thinks the policies that they adopted - that they championed, that drove us into the ditch -- are the ones that we should return to, and that Americans, when given a choice, are going to say, 'Yeah, that's exactly where I want to back to! Let's backslide toward the Bush era.”

For more: Boehner’s Economic Speech - Swampland - TIME.com

Finland: NOKIA E-72 riddled with problems when using the e-mail wizard

The Nokia corporation has been running into some headwinds lately. This time its thousands of customers who own a Nokia E-72 smart phones and are complaining that the e-mail wizard on their phone is giving them major headaches. They say that once you have established an e-mail account you can't get it out of your phone again, or it stops working altogether.. Apparently also when you try to reset or change the password an already established e-mail account on the Nokia system, the system will request you to enter your ID and password to supposedly start to detect your email settings. But it soon returns to the same interface again, and you will be requested to enter your email address and password over and over again, with absolutely no results. If you want to remove the account from your phone altogether the system responds, "you must be connected to the internet, try again later...
One unhappy Nokia customer said: "I am ready to throw this Nokia phone in the garbage".

What makes matters worse is that Nokia's service centers don't seem to have a handle on this problem, leaving many very unhappy customers.

EU-Digest

8/23/10

Do Moderate Muslims Exist? - ( Go to Istanbul) By Andrew Sullivan

That they do is a proposition so easily verifiable that I don't even have to leave my apartment to do it. I can just look out the window. Book a ticket to Istanbul, spend an afternoon here, have a lovely time, drink some tea, meet friendly, tolerant, warm, welcoming Moslems (mostly), and see for yourself. They exist! They're my neighbors and my friends! Babür, is there anyone at our gym, for example, who would not describe himself as a Moslem? Would any member of our gym endorse terrorism, honor killing, forcing me to wear the hijab, or subjecting me to a dhimmi tax? The idea is so absurd it's beyond discussion -- and yet we're discussing it.

For more: Do Moderate Muslims Exist? - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Prime Minister David Cameron Angry At Some EU Members For Blocking Turkey's EU Membership

The Prime Minister in a speech to business leaders in Ankara argued he "is the strongest possible advocate" for Turkey to join the EU club.Quoting Charles De Gaulle's assertion that Britain was "not European", the Prime Minister pointed out the the UK can empathise with Turkey's position on being "shut out of the club".

Mr. Camerom said it is "wrong to say Turkey can guard the camp but not allowed to sit inside the tent".The Prime Minister expressed his anger at Turkey being denied access and pointedly reminded Germany the other opponent of Turkey's membership - the role Turkey plays in NATO and its wider strategic role.

When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a NATO ally, and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan alongside our European allies, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been," he said.

For more: eGov monitor - A Policy Dialogue Platform | Promoting Better Governance

Table: Of The World's Happiest Countries - by Francesca Levy

Quantifying happiness isn't an easy task. Researchers at the Gallup World Poll went about it by surveying thousands of respondents in 155 countries, between 2005 and 2009, in order to measure two types of well-being.

First they asked subjects to reflect on their overall satisfaction with their lives, and ranked their answers using a "life evaluation" score from 1 to 10. Then they asked questions about how each subject had felt the previous day. Those answers allowed researchers to score their "daily experiences"--things like whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged. Subjects that reported high scores were considered "thriving." The percentage of thriving individuals in each country determined our rankings.

The top 5 were all EU member states: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands

For the complete Forbes Report go to: http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/14/world-happiest-countries-lifestyle-realestate-gallup-table.html

Turkey to remove Iran from enemies watchlist

Turkey is to remove Iran from a watchlist of nations it considers a specific threat to its national security, a news report said Monday, amid Western concerns of rapprochement between the two countries.

The updated list is contained in Turkey's security review produced by the country's National Security Council which will be adopted in October and will no longer refer to Iran as a "specific threat", the Milliyet newspaper said.  The review replaces a previous edition published five years ago, the newspaper added.

For more: AFP: Turkey to remove Iran from enemies watchlist

Gay Rights - Ireland: Gender recognition - let's get it right

In June of this year, the Irish Government withdrew its appeal against the 2007 High Court decision, which ruled that not allowing Dr. Lydia Foy to change her birth certificate was in breech of her human rights.

To comply with this judgement, the government is currently in the process of introducing legislation allowing Trans* individuals to obtain Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC); legally recognising their gender identity.
A gender recognition advisory group has been set-up, inviting comments and input from the general public on issues such as legal recognition and the right to marry. 

Realistically, I feel that all legislation should allow input from the communities it will affect. How much better would the Civil Partnership Bill be if we could all collaborate, and have that information transformed into legislation? This is an opportunity to ensure that the correct legislation is implemented from the onset; ending Dr. Foy’s 13-year struggle for recognition, and introducing equal rights for all Trans* people in Ireland.

For more: Gender recognition - let's get it right | gaelick

Insurance Industry: America’s Healthcare Mafia Strikes Again - by Mike Stathis

Did you get a raise in 2009? CEOs of the US’s largest health insurers most certainly did; CIGNA, UnitedHealth, Humana and Wellpoint. In fact, as a reward for many years of excessive hikes to insurance premiums executed under his leadership, Edward Hanway, the former CEO of CIGNA was provided with a retirement package worth $110.9 million, paid for by the excessive and unnecessarily high insurance premiums billed to CIGNA’s policy holders.

Perhaps now one realizes why some Americans who can afford health insurance opt out of it. After all, why would anyone want to pay for a health insurance policy that’s subject to double-digit premium hikes each year? While they may be able to afford the premiums now (when they are relatively young and healthy) they have no idea what the premiums will be in say twenty years when their medical risk is much higher. Given the extremely high inflation rate in premiums, these individuals figure they might not be able to afford health insurance down the road, when they are more likely to have medical problems. Therefore, some Americans view health insurance as a waste of money.

When you’ve transformed a public service like healthcare into a business, higher profits arise from only two sources; higher premiums and lower benefits. Make no mistake. The health insurance industry is using both mechanisms as a means to boost profits. This is adding to the financial misery of the nation. Washington knows this, but similar to their response to the banks which caused the global economic collapse; the industry is being shuttled even more power and money.

For more: America’s Healthcare Mafia Strikes Again :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

Horticulture - EU/Kenya: EAC, EU Trade Pact To Benefit Kenya’s Horticultural Sector

Kenya’s horticultural industry is set to benefit from the soon to be signed trade pact between the East Africa Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) in terms of market access. Jane Ngige, the CEO of the Kenya Flower Council said in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday that Kenya which exports 1,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables every day to Europe is expected to double its exports to EU with the signing of the Economic Partnerships Agreement between the EAC and EU in November.

For more: coastweek.com

8/22/10

Sexuality: Transsexual in Hong Kong fights to marry her boyfriend

In a landmark court case in Hong Kong, a woman who used to be a man will fight for the right to marry her boyfriend. The transsexual, who remains anonymous, has been blocked from doing so by the Hong Kong authorities.


While transsexuals who have undergone surgery are allowed to marry in mainland China, the EU, the US and elsewhere, Hong Kong's Immigration Department, which runs the marriage registry, has refused her request.


For more: BBC News - Transsexual in Hong Kong fights to marry her boyfriend

Golf: Peter Hanson Boosts Ryder Cup Hopes With Victory in Golf's Czech Open - by Peter-Joseph Hegarty

Peter Hanson of Sweden beat Ireland’s Peter Lawrie and Gary Boyd of England in a playoff to win golf’s Czech Open today and move into the automatic selection places for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.  Hanson won with a birdie at the second extra hole after the three men ended on 10-under par 278 at Celadna. The Swede had slumped to a 2-over par 74 in the final round, with Lawrie and Boyd scoring 66 and 68.

With one event left, Hanson rises to eighth in Europe’s Ryder Cup points. Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain is in ninth, the final automatic spot, and England’s Paul Casey drops to 10th. The match with the U.S. takes place at Celtic Manor, Wales, on Oct. 1-3.

For more: Peter Hanson Boosts Ryder Cup Hopes With Victory in Golf's Czech Open - Bloomberg

8/21/10

Finland Proposes World’s First ‘Green Highway’ - by Chuck Squatriglia

One of the big questions about electric vehicles is where we’ll charge them out on the road. Finland hopes to solve that riddle by building a carbon-neutral “green highway” that would include charging stations and biofuel stations.

The idea is to make it easy to embrace alt-fuel vehicles, and the project would focus on an 81-mile stretch of road that would link the cities of Turku and Vaalimaa near the Russian border. Authorities in the town of Loviisa, east of Helsinki and along the proposed highway, suggested the “green” approach and are leading the project. “The aim is to create the model for an ecological highway that could be used even on an international level,” city official Aki Marjasvaara told AFP. “No other such project exists. This would set an example to the world.”

It is an incredibly ambitious idea. In addition to providing charging stations, the plan would use garbage and other renewable resources to produce biofuels and generate electricity. There also is some discussion of installing “smart” lighting that would turn itself off when there are no vehicles on the roadway. The road would of course include traditional gasoline and diesel fueling stations.

For more: Finland Proposes World’s First ‘Green Highway’ | Autopia | Wired.com

US Politics: Obama hits GOP on campaign finance - by Abby Phillip

President Barack Obama put the spotlight on the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision in his weekly address Saturday, and he blamed Republicans in Congress for blocking bipartisan efforts to regulate special interest funding in political elections.

Obama said the decision allows large corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. He raised the specter of special interest spending by foreign corporations, health insurance companies and the universally vilified BP, the oil giant blamed for the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


“As part of this national conversation, Republicans have proposed better solutions to provide the fiscal discipline economists say is needed to get Americans working again,” said Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) in the Republican Weekly Address on Saturday. Djou called on Democrats to take action on $1.3 trillion in Republican-proposed spending cuts, which include proposals to cancel unspent stimulus funds — and Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout money — as well as a freeze on government pay and hiring.

Castro lashes out at what he calls the "secretive" Bilderberg Group

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro continues to taunt the West, this time with an article that accuses the ultra-secretive Bilderberg Group of conspiring to create a one-world government.

The Bilderberg Group, which holds annual closed-door meetings that are rarely covered by the mainstream media, got its name from a hotel in Holland where it commenced its first meeting in 1954. The first chairman of the group was Prins Bernhard of the Netherlands. This year’s meeting was held in Spain, at the luxury Dolce Hotel in Sitges from June 3-6, and was opened by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Thanks to growing interest in the group, which has become something of an Internet sensation, there was no shortage of protesters outside of this year's venue.

The big-name attendees of this year’s power pow-wow that were leaked to the media: Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman; Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State; Moisès Naìm, Editor-in-Chief, Foreign Policy; Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands; Her Majesty the Queen of Spain; Robert Rubin, Co-chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google; Paul Volcker, US Economic Recovery Advisory Board; Peter Vosel, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc; Robert Zoellick, President, World Bank and many more.

Note EU-Digest: Mr. Castro has always been obsessed by conspiracy theories. The Bilderberg group is nothing more than a gathering opportunity for the world elite to discuss and exchange information in private, without having to go public on their individual observations. For more information on the Bilderberg group and the recent meeting also see their website at: http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/index.html


For the complete article click on : Castro lashes out at what he calls the secretive Bilderberg Group - RT

8/20/10

Turkish military brass ignores PKK’s cease-fire, vows continued fight

Turkey’s top security body has ignored the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK’s, one-month cease-fire, saying the security forces’ fight against terrorism will continue without concessions.

Following a six-hour meeting in Istanbul on Thursday, the National Security Council, or MGK, said in a written statement, “We have emphasized the strong belief that our nation will continue to behave with common sense and not allow the [PKK] to attain their wicked objectives by bringing disorder, by weakening the unity of the people or by damaging social peace.”

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.

For more: Turkish military brass ignores PKK’s cease-fire, vows continued fight - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Air-traffic malfunction disrupts Europe flights


A malfunction at Europe's joint air traffic control agency, Eurocontrol, disrupted flights over northern Europe Friday. Brussels-based Eurocontrol said around 700 flights were affected, most of which experienced delays of around 20 minutes. 

The disruptions were caused by technical problems at the Eurocontrol centre at Maastricht in the Netherlands between 2.50 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. (1250-1430 GMT). 

For more: Air-traffic malfunction disrupts Europe flights

The Problem with Pakistan: Why Europe Has Been Slow to Help Flood Victims - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

"Why Europe Has Been Slow to Help Flood Victims

Three weeks after the Pakistan floods claimed their first victims, Europe is finally reacting. Why did Western countries take so long to provide aid? Is this a case of complacency or prejudice, or is there a deeper malaise?

Europe's citizens and governments have been very slow to respond to three weeks of disastrous flooding in Pakistan. Prejudice, complacency, insufficient reporting: there are many reasons for the slow pace of the reaction, but as the European press points out, whatever the excuses, they cannot be justified."

EU boosts flood aid to Pakistan to €70 million

The European Union nearly doubled its aid to flood-stricken Pakistan to 70 million euros on Wednesday and announced a trip by its top aid official after calls for Brussels to do more to help.

European humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announced that she would travel to the affected areas of Pakistan on Monday to meet with authorities, relief experts and victims of the floods.

"We are facing a humanitarian disaster in Pakistan of massive proportions," Georgieva told a news conference, adding that the need for international assistance was "massive."


For more: EU boosts flood aid to Pakistan to €70 million - Pakistan - World - The Times of India

Why is the world not responding as Pakistan drowns?

Scant international donations to flooded Pakistan are being driven by a multitude of factors ranging from the financial crisis, donor fatigue, a low death toll and scepticism that the government can translate the contributions into effective aid, say relief workers and analysts.

The disaster, which has killed up to 1,600 people and affected around 20 million, is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in recent years - bigger than the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 or the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, according to the United Nations. While some donations in cash and kind have been provided bilaterally or channeled via smaller appeals, only around 50% of the USD 459 million of the main U.N. appeal has been met by international donors - far less than in other recent disasters.

"It's pretty much fair to say that there has been a lot less money generated for the Pakistan floods than the other major disasters that it has been compared to, like Haiti and Kashmir earthquakes or the tsunami," said Jan Kellett, leader of Global Humanitarian Assistance, a programme that monitors trends in humanitarian financing run by British-based Development Initiatives. "For example, on day 16 after the tsunami, commitments of aid were more than USD 1.4 billion, whereas the Pakistan flooding has received USD 200 million over the same period. So there is a huge difference."

Stretching from the far north of the country to the deep south - an area the size of England, Pakistan's floods have overwhelmed aid workers and authorities since they began almost three weeks ago. Highways and bridges have been washed away, marooning hundreds of villages. Millions are now in danger of contracting diseases carried through contaminated water and insects such as diarrhoea, cholera and malaria.  Aid workers say the lack of funds has meant that only a tiny fraction of the 8 million people in need of urgent assistance have received food rations, clean drinking water and shelter. 

For more: Why is the world not responding as Pakistan drowns? - Reuters -

Climate Compass - by Jay Gulledge

The weather of 2010 continues the chaos of recent years. In the past six months, the American Red Cross says it “has responded to nearly 30 larger disasters in 21 [U.S.] states and territories. Floods, tornadoes and severe weather have destroyed homes and uprooted lives …” Severe flooding struck New England in March, Nashville in May, and Arkansas and Oklahoma in June.

Nearly the entire northern hemisphere is experiencing a massive heat wave this summer. Back in February, heavy snowfall in D.C. prompted some politicians to decry global warming, but those voices are now silent in the searing heat that has gripped much of the world this summer. The first half of 2010 has been the warmest January-July period in the global temperature record, stretching back to 1880. I would be the first to question the significance of this single-year observation, but it fits perfectly into a multiple-decade pattern in which each year between 2000 and 2009 was warmer than the average temperature of the 1990s, and every year in the 1990s was warmer than the average temperature for the 1980s. As extreme as the weather has been in the U.S. this year, things are much worse in other countries that are of great interest to the United States: Pakistan and Russia. (Severe flooding in China is worthy of discussion as well, but I’ll limit my focus in this post to Pakistan and Russia.)

The current flooding in Pakistan is the worst in that country’s history, with two million people homeless, 20 million affected, more than a million acres of croplands flooded, and signs of an incipient cholera epidemic. Six million people are without assistance in severely affected areas. The UN calls this crisis the world’s worst humanitarian disaster in recent history. To make matters worse, additional flooding is in the forecast, as the monsoon season continues through next month.

Climate Compass | Blog of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

8/19/10

The Netherlands: SAIL floats the boats of thousands in Amsterdam

It's not unusual to see Amsterdam's canals crawling with boats and barges but today the city's main seaway had a slice of the action. SAIL 2010 kicked off with a procession of boats traveling from coast to capital - with thousands turning out to watch them arrive. And for a landlubber who'd never actually heard of this nautical event, being afloat among thousands of boats was an impressive experience.

The ships out on the water this morning ranged from the sublime - luxury yachts complete with champagne-drinking crews - to the ridiculous, which included a floating model of a Heineken beer can. One man had even taken his home onto the North Sea Canal, with a mini-house screwed to the top of a floating base. Another boat, inexplicably, carried a cargo of cabbages.

But while people-watching from the press boat was an amusing pastime, the tall ships taking part really stole the show. This year the offerings fall into two different categories: those more than 40 metres long, and their smaller siblings.

For more: SAIL floats the boats of thousands in Amsterdam | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Hungary’s St. Stephen’s Day on August 20, 2010

Tomorrow (Friday - August 20) is the celebration of St. Stephen’s Day in Hungary. This day is a public holiday and marks the transfer of the relics of the patron saint of Hungary to the city of Budapest, the country’s capital. It also commemorates the foundation of the Hungarian state. In 1771, Empress Maria Theresia declared this day an official state and church holiday.

Stephen, originally named Vajk, was the son of the pagan chieftain Géza but was baptized a Christian at the age of ten and was given the Latin name “Stephanus” (“Istvan” in Hungarian). In 997, a succession struggle between the Christian Stephen and his uncle, the pagan chieftain Koppany, ended in a victory for Stephen. As a result, the Magyar tribes were united into one nation and converted from pagan ism to Christianity, This victory made Stephen the first king of Hungary. King Stephen consolidated his power and transform Hungary into a strong state and protector of Western Europe during the Medieval Ages. He built churches all around the country and invited Catholic priests to help to lay down the foundations of Christianity.

Pope Sylvester II presented him with a crown (the Crown of St. Stephen, still a symbol of Hungary) as a token of gratitude. In 1083, Pope Gregory VII canonized Stephen and he has since been referred to as St. Stephen of Hungary. When the remains were removed from his original grave at Szekesfehervar, the right hand of St. Stephen was found intact. To this day, it is kept as a valued as a valued relic by the Catholic Church.

For more: Hungary’s St. Stephen’s Day on August 20, 2010 | Manila Bulletin

Bundesbank lifts German growth forecast

The Bundesbank said Thursday that Germany's economy is on track to generate growth of around 3% for 2010 and that there is little chance of the United States going back into recession.

The report by Germany's central bank helped lift U.S. stock index futures, while European shares extended gains. See Europe Markets. Read Indications. The Bundesbank previously had forecast the German economy, Europe's largest, would expand by 1.9% this year. The boost in the outlook comes after data last week showed second-quarter growth rate for gross domestic product of 2.2%, the strongest quarterly rise in 20 years. Read about German GDP growth.

The risk of the U.S. economy slipping into a double-dip reces

For more: Bundesbank lifts German growth forecast - MarketWatch

8/18/10

Norway: Moderate Wine Consumption Good for Brain Health

People who drink wine in moderation may perform better during cognitive tests, according to results of the Norwegian Tromsø Study, a prospective study of men and women living in the northern Norway. The researchers suggest antioxidants and polyphenols in wine are responsible for improving brain health.
The 7-year study followed 5,033 middle-aged men and women who never suffered from stroke. A wide range of cognitive tests were administered over the years.

The researchers also said abstaining from drinking was associated with significantly lower cognitive performance in women. The researchers found better cognitive functions also were favored by alcohol's positive effects on arteriosclerosis, coagulation and reducing inflammation.

For more: Moderate Wine Consumption Good for Brain Health

Military Industry: Aircraft Industry: Turkey looks to continue arms procurement despite questions

Although several Western nations, including the United States and Britain, are announcing cuts in defense spending, Turkey, a country with a relatively modest defense budget, is scheduled to boost such spending for the foreseeable future.

Turkey's defense budget for 2010 is nearly $16 billion, roughly 1.8 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Nearly $4 billion out of this amount goes to weapons procurement while the rest is being used for personnel, operations, logistics and maintenance expenses.

Part of Turkey's defense procurement spending is devoted to systems mainly designed for asymmetric warfare, that is, the threat posed by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles fall into this category and are of the highest priority.

For more: Turkey looks to continue arms procurement despite questions - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

The Netherlands: Resistance to Wilders coalition grows

Up to 400 of the Christian Democratic Party faithful, with more expected to follow, have signed a petition calling on the Christian Democratic Appeal party to stop negotiating with Wilders’ PVV and the majority VVD (right-wing liberals), who are driving the talks for a minority government supported in parliament by Mr Wilders. Prominent signatories are reported to include mayors, former MPs and local politicians.

The populist Mr Wilders was the biggest winner, going from nine to 24 seats in the June elections. The latest poll shows that he would win 31 seats if an election was held now.

Mr Wilders and his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy stood on a manifesto of banning further mosques in the Netherlands, outlawing the Islamic headscarf, curbing welfare payments to Muslims and stopping medical care for illegal immigrants and their children.

For more: Resistance to Wilders coalition grows - The Irish Times - Mon, Aug 16, 2010

The Netherlands: A Dutch City Seeks to End Drug Tourism - by Suzanne Daley

On a recent summer night, Marc Josemans’s Easy Going Coffee Shop was packed. The lines to buy marijuana and hashish stretched to the reception area where customers waited behind glass barriers.
Most were young. Few were Dutch. Thousands of “drug tourists” sweep into this small, picturesque city in the southeastern part of the Netherlands every day — as many as two million a year, city officials say
.
It is an attraction Maastricht and other Dutch border cities would now gladly do without. Struggling to reduce traffic jams and a high crime rate, the city is pushing to make its legalized use of recreational drugs a Dutch-only policy, banning sales to foreigners who cross the border to indulge. But whether the European Union’s free trade laws will allow that is another matter.

The case, now wending its way through the courts, is being closely watched by legal scholars as a test of whether the European Court of Justice will carve out an exception to trade rules — allowing one country’s security concerns to override the European Union’s guarantee of a unified and unfettered market for goods and services.

For more: A Dutch City Seeks to End Drug Tourism - NYTimes.com

European Union: : EU-US SUMMIT TO BE HELD IN NOVEMBER IN LISBON

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, will welcome US President Barack Obama at the next European Union-United States Summit, which shall be held in Lisbon, Portugal, on November 20. Portugal is the  home country of Mr. Barroso.

Following an invitation by the European leaders, both sides agreed on a mutually convenient date and venue for the EU-US Summit and shall engage now in the preparations of the summit.

Note EU-Digest: This all looks pretty confusing to have two "EU Presidents" inviting and speaking to the US President - which leads to the following question, who is in charge at the EU ? Logic would have it that Barroso should not be there.  To the outsider it certainly gives an unprofessional impression and could indication to some there is a power struggle going on.

For more: EUROPEAN UNION - Delegation of the European Union to the USA - EU/NR 36/10: EU-US SUMMIT TO BE HELD IN NOVEMBER IN LISBON

7 Classic Time-Wasters and How to Make Them Stop

There are loads of ways that people waste your time at work or in ways that affect your work. Some can’t manage their own time, but mostly, they do it to make themselves feel important. No, they don’t do it consciously, but at some level, they are aware of it. It doesn’t help to know that, but I think it’s interesting, nevertheless. I’m pretty sure Sigmund Freud would have thought so, too.

Anyway, here are 7 Classic Time-Waster Types. They’re annoying and yet, at the same time, amusing in a twisted, masochistic sort of way. Afterward I’ll give you some tips for dealing with this sort of nonsense, but some of the examples have links to posts with more detail, as well:

For more click on: 7 Classic Time-Wasters and How to Make Them Stop | BNET

8/17/10

The sullied name of Suriname - by Tim Sturtridge

After just one weekend back in the saddle Desi Bouterse  has made some interesting calls to kick off his first legitimate term in charge of Suriname.


Among the 15 MPs called to serve in Bouterse’s cabinet is Alice Amafo. After becoming the youngest minister in Suriname’s history Amafo resigned from her government post in 2007 following allegations of inappropriate use of public funds, when opposition MP Jiwan Sital questioned her over the $13,000 that was spent on celebrating her 30th birthday. Much like the latest president of Suriname, the new Housing and Social Affairs minister has enjoyed an unlikely return to prominence.

With the appointment of Amafo the 64-year-old Bouterse has shown he has lost none of his appetite for controversy. Not only was Bouterse handed down an 11 year prison sentence in absentia by a Dutch court for cocaine trafficking but he is also currently on trail for the 15 murders which comprised Suriname’s December Massacre of 1982.

For more: The Independent

US Economy: Republican Position on Economy: Do Nothing, Let George Bush’s Policies Continue | CafeSentido.com

The most rapidly expanding area of federal spending is consistently the military, yet no prominent Republican arguing for reduced spending argues that Defense spending should be cut. Since George W. Bush took office in the year 2001, the Pentagon’s annual budget has doubled, to half a trillion dollars, and that does not include the two wars, which are projected to cost over $3 trillion before they are through.

For more: Republican Position on Economy: Do Nothing, Let George Bush’s Policies Continue | CafeSentido.com

World Economy: Can China Become the World's Biggest Economy? EU is still the largest economy in the world

China has overtaken Japan to become the world's second largest economy and is threatening the U.S. for the top spot. Japan insisted it was still ahead when international research agencies said China had already overtaken it late last year but admitted defeat in second-quarter GDP figures on Monday.

Over the last five years, China gradually overtook the major European economies, starting with the U.K., France and Italy in 2006 and Germany in 2007. The main reason was its breakneck growth rate of between 10 to 13 percent backed on the effects of its admission into the World Trade Organization and a booming global economy during the early and mid 2000s. China managed to expand more than 9 percent last year even in the midst of the global financial crisis.

Note EU-Digest: How come when it concerns the EU the figures get broken down per country. The number one economy in the world is still the EU. The economy of the European Union generates a GDP of over 11,805.66 billion ($16,447.26 billion in 2009) according to the IMF, making it the largest economy in the world. The EU economy consists of a single market and is represented as a unified entity in the WTO. Hello anyone listening?

For more: The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Can China Become the World's Biggest Economy?

Greece/Israel: Netanyahu's visit to Greece signals strategic rapprochement

While Israeli media have touted the visit as a sign of rapprochement, there are speculations that Israel may be strategically courting Greece in order to replace its strained ties with Turkey.
Deutsche Welle Radio's Athens correspondent, Jannis Papadimitriou said that, before Greece, Israel had "already started warming its ties with other traditional rivals in southeastern Europe - for example, with Bulgaria and Cyprus." Papadimitriou added that, "in the last months after Turkey closed its skies to Israeli military aircraft, everything happened very quickly" between Israel and Greece, which did not recognize Israel's statehood until the early 1990s.

The Israeli air force carried out military exercises in Greece in 2008 and again this year, though May's maneuvers were cut short by Athens directly after Israel's raid of aid flotillas. There is a chance the exercises could begin again this fall, although Papadimitriou remains skeptical, pointing out that many of the 30 Greeks on the aid flotilla to Gaza claim mistreatment by Israeli forces. "For the moment I can't imagine that Greece will open its skies for Israeli military forces unless it gets something really good in return - for example, advanced military technology from Israel," he said.

Greece's tourism sector has already profited by Israel's fallout with Turkey, as Israeli tourists, who once flocked to Turkish resorts now prefer Greek destinations.

For more: Netanyahu's visit to Greece signals strategic rapprochement | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 16.08.2010

Iran Threatens 'Israel's Existence' If It Attacks

Iran will respond if Israel attacks its first nuclear power plant, which will begin loading fuel Aug. 21, according to the Persian Gulf country's defense minister.

"In that case we will lose a power plant, but Israel's existence will be in danger," Ahmad Vahidi was cited as saying today by the state-run Mehr news agency, in response to questions about the possibility of an attack by Israel on the Russian-built atomic facility at Bushehr.

The Foreign Ministry's spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said today he "doubts" that Israel would "make such a dangerous move." In comments on state television, he said, "Any aggression against this power plant will result in a serious reaction."

For more: Iran Threatens 'Israel's Existence' If It Attacks

Golf: Ryder Cup problems mounting up for Europe's Montgomerie

Just when it seemed everything — woeful form of Tiger Woods included — was pointing to Europe winning back the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in October, nobody can be quite so sure any more.

Lee Westwood is injured, Henrik Stenson and now Ian Poulter sick, captain Colin Montgomerie has personal troubles and there is the real possibility one of four more stars — Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Paul Casey — might have to be omitted.

8/16/10

Romanian, Bulgarian Roma Stir Riots in Southern France:

Roma have blocked a major road bridge near the city of Bordeaux in southern France in protest against their eviction from an illegal camp site, BBC reported late Sunday.

Around 250 vehicles blocked the bridge for five hours, causing tailbacks of up to five kilometers on a public holiday weekend. More than 40 illegal camps have been closed in the past week.

The French Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, says Roma from Eastern Europe will be deported on "specially chartered flights".

For more; Romanian, Bulgarian Roma Stir Riots in Southern France: Romanian, Bulgarian Roma Stir Riots in Southern France - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency

Turkey detains freelance journalist for alleged ties to Kurdish rebels

Turkish authorities have detained American activist and freelance journalist Jake Hess in the southeastern, predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

At a court appearance Sunday, a prosecutor charged Hess with "taking orders from a terrorist organization" and called for his immediate deportation from Turkey, witnesses said.

Turkish officialdom regularly refers to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as a terrorist organization.
Note EU-Digest: The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by both the US and the EU.


For more: Turkey detains freelance journalist for alleged ties to Kurdish rebels - CNN.com

Israel and Greece: PMs Agree To Expand Trade, Military cooperation

Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Monday that they agreed to expand economic and military cooperation.
It was Israel's highest level delegation to Greece and Netanyahu is reciprocating the visit Papandreou made to Tel Aviv in July.

"We can deepen and broaden our relations with Israel in commercial relations, large investments and tourism as well as security. We are in the same neighborhood and Greece has a vital interest in a two-party solution for Israel and the Palestinians, and we want to contribute to the economy and safety of the region," Papandreou said in a joint press conference after the prime ministers' face-to-face discussions.


Note EU-Digest: Israel should keep its nose out of the EU and stop trying to play games between Greece and Turkey. As to Greece, they certainly can find more productive things to do within the EU than playing along with Mr. Netanyahu's "political" schemes, who is backed up against the wall by the whole world as a result of his disastrous Palestinian policies.


For more: Greek, Israel PMs Agree To Expand Trade, Military Ties | Real Time Market News | Dow Jones

Euro-Zone Inflation Rises on Higher Energy Prices ( 1.7% annual rate) - by Jack Ewing

Higher energy prices drove inflation in the euro area to an annual rate of 1.7 percent in July, the highest level in 20 months but still within the range considered acceptable by the European Central Bank, according to data released Monday.


The rise in prices, from a rate of 1.4 percent in June, was not considered alarming by economists, who expect price pressures to remain in check as growth slows in most of Europe. Excluding energy prices, inflation was 1.1 percent in July, up from 0.9 percent in June, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office.
“We need to see convincing signs of an upturn in domestic demand and we’re not seeing that just yet,” said Nick Matthews, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland. “Underlying domestic price pressures are still quite contained.”

For more: Euro-Zone Inflation Rises on Higher Energy Prices - NYTimes.com

Chinese Invest in Europe, Japan -- Less in U.S

China is voting its views on America's economy with its own pocketbook as the Chinese are starting to invest more in Europe and Japan and less in the U.S. 

Yu Yongding, former advisor to the People's Bank of China, told Bloomberg News that his country has been buying "quite a lot" of European bonds. "Diversification should be a basic principle," Yu said. 

For more: Chinese Invest in Europe, Japan -- Less in U.S. - Finance - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com

42 ways to not make trash

In the last, for a while, of the LV GRN posts about how to bring No Impact measures to your own life, I've decided to list 42 ways we adopted to avoid making trash. If you've been reading for a while, you'll have seen these before. But I thought the newer readers might like to take a look. The list is in no particular order: Here is the first one... for all 42 click on the link at the bottom of this blog.
  1. No soda in cans (which means we’re probably less likely to get cancer from aspartame).
For more: No Impact Man: LV GRN: 42 ways to not make trash

8/15/10

European Involvement in Gaza Spells Trouble for Israel - by Soeren Kern

Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will lead a European Union delegation that is scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip in early September. The EU delegation, which will also include representatives from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Norway, was invited by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a June 24 meeting with his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini. Lieberman said the idea is for the EU representatives to be able to see Gaza "with their own eyes."

The invitation is part of Lieberman's recent proposal for a complete Israeli disengagement from Gaza. But promoting greater EU involvement in Gaza could backfire on Israel. Zapatero, who leads one of the most anti-Israel governments in Europe, will almost certainly use the visit to call for exerting more international pressure on Israel to completely lift the four-year blockade on Gaza. A high-profile EU visit is also likely to grant international legitimacy to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip. Moreover, European officials will use the trip to call on Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians in other areas as well.

Separately, France and Spain appear to be laying the political groundwork for the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state — possibly as early as October 2011 — even if negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not concluded. The initiative is being spearheaded by Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos. Palestinian Authority leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad have repeatedly said they intend to unilaterally declare Palestinian independence before the end of 2011, with or without a peace deal. Abbas and Fayyad have been visiting European capitals in recent months to drum up political and financial support for Palestinian statehood.

For more: European Involvement in Gaza Spells Trouble for Israel :: Hudson New York

Iran: A campaign for war with Iran begins - by Trita Parsi

Obama administration officials, as well as U.S. lawmakers and European diplomats, passionately made the argument this spring that tough sanctions on Iran were necessary to avoid war. But contrary to their predictions, the drumbeat for war -- particularly from Israel – has only increased since the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution against Tehran in June.

The latest in this crescendo of voices is Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic, "Point of No Return." As the title suggests, it essentially makes the case (though in an uncharacteristically subtle manner by neoconservative standards) that there are no choices left -- war is a fait accompli, and the only question is whether it will be initiated by Israel or by the United States.

For more: A campaign for war with Iran begins - War Room - Salon.com

Large oilfield discovered in northern Afghanistan

The Afghan government said today SundayAugust 15th it had discovered a large oilfield containing an estimated 1.8 billion barrels in northern Afghanistan, fuelling hopes that foreign investment would flow to the war-torn country if the security situation improved.

For more: France24 - Large oilfield discovered in northern Afghanistan

Europe’s far-right to visit Japanese war shrine - Summit

Leaders from Europe’s far-right parties will visit a controversial World War II shrine in Tokyo on Saturday after gathering in the city for a conference held by Japanese nationalists.

Guests from eight European countries included members from the British National Party and French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who finished second in his country’s presidential election in 2002.

The groups say they want to honour Japan’s war dead at the Yasukuni Shrine. But critics say the shrine is the resting place of some of Japan’s worst war criminals.

For more: Europe’s far-right to visit Japanese war shrine - Summit : news, world | euronews

A Barbaric Muslim ( Sharia) Practice: stoning a person to death. - Islam needs a revolutionary reform movement

A mother will be stoned to death in Iran if the world does not object to this Islamic barbaric law which still allows killing a woman for the accusation of  infidelity. Also see this vdeo link 

In this day and age the ancient death sentence of this woman and her children’s anguishing pleas to let her live is beyond reason and so typical of Iranian authority and Sharia Law. This is clearly a case of a backward male dominated world, where women are still subjected to stoning, death, imprisonment, and worse at the slightest whim or accusation.

This is the Islamic Sharia Law which allows men to have four or more wives and where a woman cannot travel without her husband’s permission. Even basic rights in Iran such as citizenship is only derived by an Iranian male, and if an Iranian woman marries a non-Iranian husband, she does not pass on citizenship to her children. There is also a Sharia law which states a man can have temporary wives who have no rights at all.

Sharia law is practiced in the following countries: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan , Nigeria , Sudan , Egypt, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan .

There are several Muslim Reform Movements like Muslims against Sharia, but nothing yet on the level of   the Protestant Reformation which began back in 1517 in an attempt to reform the Catholic Church, that the reformers saw as corrupt including the office of the Pope. Islam needs a similar  revolutionary reform movement to radically change and remove its archaic religious structure and barbaric practices, which even in the past was unacceptable, but certainly makes no sense at all in today's world.

EU-Digest

8/14/10

Emirates Now Largest Airbus A380 Operator

Airbus is close to setting a new record for A380s delivered in one year, and Emirates Airlines, its largest customer for the aircraft, has now also become the largest operator.

After struggling to meet its output targets in prior years because of production bottlenecks, the airframer handed over 12 A380s this year, equaling the full-year high achieved in 2008. The latest two deliveries were the fourth A380 to go to Air France (MSN49) and the 12th for Emirates (MSN46). Both were delivered from Airbus’s Hamburg site.

The Emirates delivery means the carrier now operates one more A380 than Singapore Airlines, the first operator of the aircraft type. Emirates has firm orders for 90 of the aircraft on the books.

For more: Emirates Now Largest Airbus A380 Operator | AVIATION WEEK: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Freedom of Expression and the Internet: Free Press, Others Hold Rally to Protest Google-Verizon Deal

Free Press, ColorofChange.org, and other consumer groups held a rally at Google headquarters on Friday, protesting the company's proposed net neutrality plan with Verizon.

The proposal, protesters claimed, will create a two- or multi-tier Internet, which would favor established media giants, freezing out startups and the average consumer.

Protesters submitted a list of what organizers said was 300,000 signatures of people opposed to the proposed arrangement, which would allow Google and Verizon the freedom to add new services on the Internet that would not be constrained by network neutrality policies. The wireless industry would also be exempt from net neutrality, a term used to describe a world in which every Internet service and Web site is given equal weight and equal priority over the others.

Note EU-Digest: For Google, which used to be the worlds friendly efficient search engine, the saying: "Power corrupts" fits the picture completely.

For more: Freedom of Expression and the Internet: Free Press, Others Hold Rally to Protest Google-Verizon Deal | News & Opinion | PCMag.com "