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9/30/10

US Politics: T-Party is a The Tea Kettle Movement - by Thomas Friedman

There are actually two Tea Party movements in America today: one you’ve read about that is not that important and one you’ve not read about that could become really important if the right politician understood how to tap into it.

The Tea Party that has gotten all the attention, the amorphous, self-generated protest against the growth in government and the deficit, is what I’d actually call the “Tea Kettle movement” — because all it’s doing is letting off steam.

The Tea Kettle movement can’t have a positive impact on the country because it has both misdiagnosed America’s main problem and hasn’t even offered a credible solution for the problem it has identified. How can you take a movement seriously that says it wants to cut government spending by billions of dollars but won’t identify the specific defense programs, Social Security, Medicare or other services it’s ready to cut — let alone explain how this will make us more competitive and grow the economy?

And how can you take seriously a movement that sat largely silent while the Bush administration launched two wars and a new entitlement, Medicare prescription drugs — while cutting taxes — but is now, suddenly, mad as hell about the deficit and won’t take it anymore from President Obama? Say what? Where were you folks for eight years?

For more: Op-Ed Columnist - The Tea Kettle Movement - NYTimes.com

UN: Suriname's Bouterse feels Obama snub at UN in New York - by Rickey Singh

UN: Suriname's newly-elected head of state, Desi Bouterse, received a diplomatic snub from President Barack Obama on his current visit to New York for the new session of the United Nations General Assembly.
 
President Bouterse according to informed sources was the only head of government of the 14 independent member countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to have been excluded from the US president's traditional reception for foreign leaders attending the start of a new session of the UN General Assembly.

Suriname's (a former Dutch colony which became independent in 1975) controversial President Desi Bouterse is a convicted drug trafficker, who seized power in 1980 following a coup d’état and ruled until 1987, when he stepped down because of international political pressure. He briefly seized power again in 1990, following a second coup d’état. He and 11 others are currently also being tried in a military court for the killing of 15 opponents in 1982 while he was head of a military junta.

For more: Bouterse feels Obama snub in New York - Breaking & Current Jamaica News - JamaicaObserver.com

Germany: Qatar, Germany sign accord on renewable energy

HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani received at his residence in Berlin yesterday German Minister of Economy and Technology Rainer Bruederle and his accompanying delegation. Areas of co-operation between the two countries and ways to enhance them were reviewed during the meeting.

Following the meeting, the two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Energy and Industry in Qatar and German Ministry of Economy and technology on scientific and technical co-operation in the areas of new and renewable energy.


The two sides also signed the minutes of the second session of the Qatari-German joint Economic Committee, besides a letter of intent to open a German commercial office in Doha.


For more go to : Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper - Qatar

Golf: European Ryder Cup team ready to mop up at Celtic Manor

If the European team are to have a cutting edge at the Ryder Cup, then captain Colin Montgomerie knows they will depend on a good performance by the man dubbed the heir to Tiger Woods. 

Rory McIlroy might be be playing in the competition for the first time but the man with the most distinctive locks since Miguel Angel Jiminez' ponytail is key to European hopes.

Yes, the past few years have seen him play such scintillating golf that many seasoned observers believe he has the game to be the best in the world and a multiple major winner.

For more: BBC News - Ryder Cup team ready to mop up at Celtic Manor: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Soccer - European Champions League: Lyon, FCK make it two as Inter and Spurs hit four on

Away wins for Olympique Lyonnais and FC København put them on six points from two UEFA Champions League matches on a night when FC Internazionale Milano and Tottenham Hotspur FC both scored four goals – watch all the night's action.

Holders Inter and newcomers Tottenham both achieved their feats in Group A. Samuel Eto'o starred for the Nerazzurri as he scored three and made the other for Wesley Sneijder in a 4-0 defeat of SV Werder Bremen. Joining them on four points, Tottenham beat FC Twente 4-1 in their home UEFA Champions League debut, all the goals coming in the second half.

For more details: Lyon, FCK make it two as Inter and Spurs hit four on UEFA.COM

Airline Industry - Airline cartel including Air France, KLM, Martin Air faces huge EU damages claim - by Nikki Tait and Jane Croft

The largest European claim for damages resulting from cartel behaviour will be launched on Thursday when a writ is served on KLM and Air France.

A group of companies led by Philips of the Netherlands and Ericsson of Sweden will allege they have suffered more than €400m ($545m) of damage as a result of price-fixing by KLM, Martinair and Air France. Lawyers advising the companies, however, say the total sum is likely to top €500m once interest is included.

International competition watchdogs have been investigating a worldwide cartel, based around air freight traffic rates for the past four years. In countries such as South Korea, Australia, Canada and the US, almost two dozen airlines – including KLM, Air France and Martinair – have admitted involvement in illegal activities going back to 2000 and faced substantial financial penalties as a result. Air France and KLM merged in 2004, but retain separate legal identities.

For more: FT.com / Companies / Airlines - Airline cartel faces huge EU damages claim

Netherlands: Angela Merkel unhappy with make-up of new Dutch government - other European reactions also not favorable

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a committee of MPs she will do her best to work with the new Dutch government, although she regrets its make-up, Reuters reports on Thursday.

Merkel, a Christian Democrat, pointed to the EU sanctions against Austria when the extreme right-wing Jörg Haider joined the cabinet.

'Isolating Austria was not very successful and did not help the European idea,' she said. Geert Wilders' anti-Islam PVV will play the role of silent partner in the new Dutch coalition, influencing policy and supporting government measures but not providing ministers.

Former Belgian prime minister Luc Dehaene told RTL news a cabinet involving the PVV is a danger to democracy.

For more: DutchNews.nl - Angela Merkel unhappy with make-up of new Dutch government

9/29/10

Wave of strikes cripples Europe as workers vent fury at budget cuts - by Anita Brooks and Vanessa Mock

Workers across Europe yesterday vented their anger against government spending cuts and tax hikes that unions said would punish the poor.

Rallies were called in 13 capital cities and millions of Spanish workers went on strike in a mass action that hobbled public transport, paralysed building work and left streets littered with uncollected rubbish. 

Some 100,000 workers, including German miners and Polish shipbuilders, brought Brussels to a standstill to protest against savage spending cuts they claimed would make workers the biggest victims of an economic crisis that they are blaming on bankers and traders in the financial markets.

For more: Wave of strikes cripples Europe as workers vent fury at budget cuts - Europe, World - The Independent

Netherlands: Dutch far-right party set to be part of a minority government

Months after elections left the Netherlands without an elected government, two center-right parties say they have reached an agreement with the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders on forming a government.

VVD leader Mark Rutte is likely to become the Netherland's next prime minister. "Geert Wilders in his non-government supporting role will hold the key to the success or fall of the new Dutch Government."

News reports quoting unnamed sources and the state information office said a formal coalition agreement could be signed today and presented to Queen Beatrix's official representative on Thursday.

For more: Dutch far-right party set to be part of a minority government | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 29.09.2010

Terror plot targeting Europe uncovered - by Sam Reeves

Western intelligence agencies have uncovered an al-Qaida plot to launch Mumbai-style terrorist attacks in Britain, France and Germany, reports said Wednesday.

Militants based in Pakistan were planning simultaneous strikes in London and major cities in France and Germany, Britain's Sky News television reported, citing intelligence sources.

It was "one of the most serious al-Qaida attack plans in recent years" and was inspired by the terror group's fugitive leadership in Pakistan's tribal areas, said the BBC.

For more: Terror plot targeting Europe uncovered: Reports

9/28/10

Shell increases oil trade with Iran – despite sanctions

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, paid the state-owned Iranian oil company at least $1.5bn (£0.94bn) for crude oil this summer, increasing its business with Tehran as the international community implemented some of the toughest sanctions yet aimed at constricting the Islamic republic's economy and its lifeline oil business.

Sensitive trading documents seen by the Guardian show the UK-registered company stepped up its orders of Iranian oil at a time when other major buyers, including BP and Reliance Industries, India's largest conglomerate, halted orders amid impending trade sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran's perceived desire to acquire nuclear weapons.

Shell is not accused of acting illegally because the sanctions – enforced by the US, UN and EU – stopped short of banning the import of Iranian oil. But its trades with the state-owned oil company, a major contributor to the finances of a government which has made its nuclear programme a priority, are likely to expose Shell to growing political pressure.

For more: Shell increases oil trade with Iran – despite sanctions | World news | The Guardian

One day Turkey will run the EU - by Wolfgang Bohn

Turkey isn’t even a member yet, but deputy prime minister Ali Babacan is already demanding a leading role in Europe for his country. All you have to do is look at Turkey's economic and demographic growth to see it's likely to get what it wants, says Die Presse.

'When Turkey becomes a member of the EU, it is not going to be in a secondary position, that's one of the reasons why countries like Germany and France are quite nervous about our membership,' Turkish vice-premier Ali Babacan declared at a World Leadership Forum in New York during the recent UN plenary session. "

Note EU-Digest:  Wishful thinking ....

Presseurop – English

Britain: New labour Leader Ed Milibands optimistc speech : "ready to lead a new generation"

"Freedom and opportunity are precious gifts and the purpose of our politics is to expand them, for all our people. That faith is not something I chose. It's not something I learned from books, even from my Dad's books. It was something I was born into."

"I come from a generation that suffered school lessons in porta-cabins and crumbling hospitals. I tell you one thing, for the eighteen years they were in power the Tories did nothing to fix the roof when the sun was shining. Our legacy is a generation for whom newly built schools and modernised hospitals are an everyday fact of life. I am proud of the fact that because of what we did, yes we did save the National Health Service in this country."


"You saw the worst financial crisis in a generation, and I understand your anger that Labour hadn't changed the old ways in the City which said deregulation was the answer."


"This generation wants to change our economy so that it works better for working people and doesn't just serve the needs of the few at the top. This generation wants to change our society so that it values community and family, not just work, because we understand there is more to life than the bottom line. This generation wants to change the way government works because it understands the power of the state to change lives but also how frustrating it can be if not reformed."

"This generation wants to change our foreign policy so that it's always based on values, not just alliances."

Note EU-Digest: an excellent optimistic speech  by Ed Mileband which can serve as an example for every moderate European politician to take in combating the rising wave of nationalistic right-wing doomsday rhetoric.

For the complete speech click on this link : Labour conference: Ed Miliband speech in full | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Railroads: German Siemens Velaro High-Speed Train Coming to Florida

Siemens announced plans to present its vision of U.S. high-speed rail to the people of Florida with its "Future of Florida High-Speed Rail Tour," a traveling exhibit featuring a full-sized model of the Siemens Velaro high-speed train. The tour kicks off Oct. 7, 2010 with a special VIP event at Tampa's MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry).Siemens today announced plans to present its vision of U.S. high-speed rail to the people of Florida with its "Future of Florida High-Speed Rail Tour," a traveling exhibit featuring a full-sized model of the Siemens Velaro high-speed train. The tour kicks off Oct. 7, 2010 with a special VIP event at Tampa's MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry).

For more: Siemens Velaro High-Speed Train Coming to Florida -- TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/

The Netherlands: Will new Dutch "Wilders Cabinet" return Dutch troops to Afghanistan?

The US Government and NATO want to start immediate talks with the possible new right-wing Dutch Government under the "cloaked" leadership of nationalist anti-immigrant  politician Geert Wilders. This was confirmed by Ivo Daalder, the US ambassador to the NATO, during an interview with the Dutch news service NOS.

Earlier this year the former Dutch government of PM Balkenende was toppled as a result of  its dispute with the labor party PVDA, who were part of the Balkenende Government coalition.The Labor Party  was unwilling to extend the stay of Dutch troops in the Afghanistan Uruzgan area beyond the formally agreed date of 2010  The PVDA  wanted the troops brought home as scheduled while the CDA of Balkenende wanted more time to study the matter.  

Netherlands troop support for NATO forces in Afghanistan was approved by the Dutch Government in 2006. Estimates show the Netherlands, which at the peak of its involvement in Afghanistan had about 2000 troops there, has already spent approximately 3 billion euros, seven times more than was actually planned on the Afghanistan mission. The Netherlands has a total population of 16 million.

Given the possibility of the CDA now becoming part of  the new right-wing Dutch government, the likely-hood of the Netherlands re-committing to the Afganistan war effort seems pretty likely.

EU-Digest

9/27/10

Insurers Warn of European Pension Crisis

Europe's big life insurers are warning that a growing "pension gap" will lead to a deterioration in the quality of life for many Europeans, a trend that opens up possibilities for private market pension providers.
According to a new study by U.K. insurance group Aviva plc, Europe is now facing a 1.9 trillion euro pension gap. That figure is equivalent to 19% of the European Union's 2010 gross domestic product, and "indicates that unless individuals increase their savings for retirement the majority will face a seriously reduced standard of living once they retire," Aviva said.

At the country level, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain have the biggest pension gaps, at 379 billion euros, 243.5 billion euros, 468.8 billion euros and 170.5 billion euros, respectively, according to Aviva.

For more: Insurance News - Insurers Warn of European Pension Crisis

Millions of French Internet users can pay a price for piracy network

With countries taking broadly different approaches to the problem, French MEP Marielle Gallo has now called on the European Commission to seize the subject in hand by making a directly enforceable EU-wide copyright law which would make copyright infringers accountable.

The creative industry has praised the progress highly which endures a revenue loss and jobs through against the law file sharing.

Before this year a study by French consultancy TERA into Internet piracy in Europe’s music, film and television and software industries found that piracy could locate more than one million people out of work by 2015. In Spain it seems that the dependability for protection copyright is being put definitely on the shoulders of the copyright owners themselves.

For more: Millions of French Internet users can pay a price for piracy network | French Tribune

Czech Republic: Speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly

My country is deeply convinced that the structure of the United Nations needs to be different too. Especially the Security Council needs to be reformed to reflect the geo-political, economic and demographic reality of the 21st century. It is frustrating that the discussions about such reform have been going on for the past 16 years without results. It is time to come with concrete results and my country is ready to support them.

Changes of that kind are necessary, but – on the other hand – something must continue without changes. I don’t think that the UN needs to search for a new mission.

The goals of the United Nations should remain those defined in the original UN Charter:
- to maintain international peace and security;
- to develop friendly relations among nations;
- to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems.
For more: Speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly | Václav Klaus

9/26/10

Make sure you check out SURE

is a compilation of press reports as well as market research conducted  in a cooperative effort  by KOSTER Verzekeringen b.v.,  - a Dunn and Bradstreet top level 1 rated  insurance company, and Europe House, Inc.,  - a non-profit corporation fostering a better global understanding of the European Union, its member states, and policies, through a variety of avenues. The focus of the material collected and published in Sure ! mainly pertains to the insurance industry as it relates to the overall global economic climate, social structure and political environment.

The most recent issue of Sure! (September 2010) deals with recent developments in the international insurance industry, including news on a proposal done by re-insurers concerning future BP-type blowouts and an overview of the most important European political highlights, in addition to a selection of global economic issues.

Make sure you check out SURE ! and get a free subscription.

EU-Digest

Europe strikes out in austerity drive - by Roddy Thomson

Radical European plans to fine governments that hide from painful cuts crash headlong into strikes and protests this week as labour leaders flag up the human cost of austerity.
A bid to force the 27 European Union nations to deposit billions of euros with Brussels, that would be forfeited in the event of failure to tighten national spending, will be laid out to finance ministers starting crunch talks on Monday.

Detailed proposals will be made public on Wednesday, when millions are expected to take part in a general strike across Spain and 100,000 protesters are tipped to march against "austerity" in Brussels. Radical European plans to fine governments that hide from painful cuts crash headlong into strikes and protests this week as labour leaders flag up the human cost of austerity.

"Let's not focus too much on the size of the sanctions," the spokesman for EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, who is driving the bid to get tough, said as diplomats said of the plans' scope. "It's the effectiveness of the proposals we set out next week (that matter)," Rehn's pointman said.

For more: Europe strikes out in austerity drive

9/25/10

US November Elections: Republicans In Congress Get Worse Marks Than Democrats On Job Performance, Economy Poll shows

The Associated Press-GfK Poll this month shows that the public is fed up with both parties. Only 38 percent approve of how congressional Democrats are handling their jobs, and just 31 percent like how Republicans are doing theirs. Fifty-nine percent are unhappy with how Democrats are nursing the economy, 64 percent are upset by the GOP's work on the country's top issue.

More than half have negative views of each party. Most say Obama isn't cooperating enough on the economy, but even more accuse Republicans of the same thing. And former President George W. Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – the only two Republicans the AP-GfK Poll tested – are significantly less popular than Obama.

For more: Republicans In Congress Get Worse Marks Than Democrats On Job Performance, Economy (POLL)

"EU Set a Secret Group to Save the Euro" , says WSJ

Two months after Lehman Brothers collapsed in the fall of 2008, a small group of European leaders set up a secret task force—one so secret that they dubbed it "the group that doesn't exist." Its mission: Devise a plan to head off a default by a country in the 16-nation euro zone.

When Greece ran into trouble a year later, the conclave, whose existence has never before been reported, had yet to agree on a strategy. In a prelude to a cantankerous public debate that would later delay Europe's response to the euro-zone debt crisis until the eleventh hour, the task force struggled to surmount broad disagreement over whether and how the euro zone should rescue one of its own. It never found the answer.

The Wall Street Journal says investigation, based on dozens of interviews with officials from around the EU, reveals that the divisions that bedeviled the task force pushed the currency union perilously close to collapse. In early May, just hours before Germany and France broke their stalemate and agreed to endorse a trillion-dollar fund to rescue troubled euro-zone members, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told her delegation the euro zone was on the verge of breaking apart, according to people familiar with the matter.

Note EU-Digest: It seems like the Rupert Murdoch owned corporate news empire including the Wall Street Journal are competing among themselves in who is the best at bad-mouthing the EU, while being cheered on by the financial world and its Wall Street Casino network

For more: EU Set a Secret Group to Save the Euro - WSJ.com

Golf - Wales: Ryder Cup rookies may prove decisive

Attention may focus on stars like Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood at the Ryder Cup, but the fate of the trophy could well be decided by the rookies that line up at Celtic Manor.

Of the 24 players who will battle it out in Wales, nearly half - six for Europe, five for the United States - will be getting their first experience of the rarefied atmosphere of Ryder Cup golf.

US skipper Corey Pavin has useful advice for the "new boys" aiming to help the Americans win the Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time since 1993.

Newport Golf Club is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious golf courses in South Wales having recently hosted a number of major Welsh and National Amateur events.  The Club is a well established members club, situated on the outskirts of Newport, some 6 miles to the west of the Celtic Manor Resort which is currently gearing itself up to host the Ryder Cup 2010.  The Club recently celebrated its centenary in 2003 and is well represented and highly regarded within Welsh Golf. Newport Golf Club is unquestionably a Welsh golfing must, an obvious choice for those wishing to enjoy a beautiful yet challenging course and experience the friendly and welcoming hospitality of a traditional member's club.  

For more: Ryder Cup rookies may prove decisive - The Times of India

Genetically Modified Food Is Dangerous: Europe in a pickle over GM crops rules - Roddy Thomson

As America chews over a bid to market "Frankenfish" salmon, Europe wants to drop scientific objections to genetically modified (GM) crops in a move even its backers admit leaves a strange taste.

With the GM industry and its opponents each sharpening their legal claws, European nations will debate a proposed rule change on Monday that would allow officials to accelerate authorisations for 15 new transgenic crops while letting those who want to keep them off their territories do so.

The continent is deeply divided on the GM issue, which has crept back up the agenda after Germany's BASF "accidentally" sowed seed from an unauthorized potato in Sweden and a furore in Britain about milk and meat from cloned cattle entering the food chain.

Note EU-Digest: Europe must vote NO to approving Genetically Modified Food and not cave in to the pressures imposed by the powerful Chemical and Food Industry lobby. 
 

For more: Europe in a pickle over GM crops rules

9/24/10

US Economy - Fed Statement--Will Print More Money If Stock Market Declines

In plain English the Fed announced that they will print more money if the SP 500 declines substantially. Nothing like an explicit Fed guarantee to support asset prices. First reaction from the market seems positive with the SP 500 reversing most of its losses.

You can really see how determined the Fed is in its pursuit to create inflation. How stable prices and positive inflation are compatible is beyond me. I thought truly stable prices meant 0% inflation, but then again I care about the purchasing power of the dollar. The Fed obviously does not. The dollar is getting smacked in the minutes after the Fed statement. EUR/USD is over 1.32. Gold futures hit record high. Ahh--more competitve currency devaluations, just like the 1930's.

For more: Fed Statement--Will Print More Money If Stock Market Declines | Black Swan Insights: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Glaxo's Avandia drug for diabetics pulled from Europe - by Rachel Cooper

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has said that it expects minimal sales of Avandia in future after European regulators said the diabetes pill should be withdrawn from the market and America's medicines watchdog placed major restrictions on the drug.

The almost simultaneous rulings from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) marked an attempt to draw a line under the debate over the safety of Avandia, which has dogged GSK for three years.

For more: Glaxo's Avandia drug pulled from Europe - Telegraph

Turkey far ahead of EU in creating employment, Deputy PM and Economic Minister Ali Babacan says

According to Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister for Economy Ali Babacan, Turkey largely outpaced the European Union, which it aspires to join, in terms of creating employment in the second quarter of this year.

Speaking at a forum organized by the Foreign Policy Association in New York, Babacan noted Turkey’s employment figures increased by 1.6 million and the unemployment rate dropped by 2.6 percent in the April-June period of 2010 from a year ago. At the same time, however, the total number of unemployed within the EU grew by 1.8 million in the same period according to EU statistics body Eurostat, Babacan told the audience during Wednesday’s meeting.

he impact of the global financial crisis driven by the credit crunch in the US was most keenly felt in Turkey in the field of employment last year when its jobless rate hit a record high of over 16 percent in February 2009 and was calculated at 14 percent for the entire year. However in June of this year, the rate of unemployment, one of the primary indicators of economic performance, dropped to 10.5 percent according to the latest official data. Government authorities and observers believe the sharp decline in the rate will continue through 2011 as the common expectation is that it will return to pre-crisis levels hovering around 8-9 percent in nine months at the latest.


For more: Turkey far ahead of EU in creating employment, Ali Babacan says

EU Says It Remains Confident Ireland Will Meet Fiscal Targets - by Andrew Clapham

The European Commission is confident that Ireland will take the necessary measures to meet its fiscal targets, commission economics spokesman Amadeu Altafaj told reporters in Brussels today.

Altafaj said the commission has no further comment to make on Ireland’s economy shrinking 1.2 percent in the second quarter from the first quarter. The contraction in Irish gross domestic product was announced by the country’s statistics office yesterday.

For more: EU Says It Remains Confident Ireland Will Meet Fiscal Targets - BusinessWeek

The Netherlands: "Jesus is not allowed to save you in the County of Giesenlande, Province of South Holland"

A local Dutch newspaper Almere Vandaag, recently reported  that a  Dutch farmer, Joop van Ooijen, who lives in the County of Giesenlande, Province of South Holland and owns a farm and home next to the A15 highway was in trouble with his local government council, because he had painted in white letters the text - Jesus Saves on his roof.

This Christian slogan apparently was not to the liking of the Giesenlande County Council, who fined Joop van Ooijen euro 15.000 and summoned him to remove the text based on what they said were local zoning regulations and make his farm more "compatible (blend in) with the surrounding environment".  Joop van Ooijen then changed the color of the text from white into red and orange. 
 
Following the change of color of the text  the Giesenlande County Council, at the instigation of councilman Jan de Groot of the council VVD  fraction (the party which won the June 2010 national Dutch elections) wrote Joop van Ooijen that the change of color of the text was still not acceptable and threatened him with further fines and prosecution. 

These kinds of actions by any Government or their local representatives, have very little to do with the "compatibility of the surrounding environment", but all about the freedom of expression and religion. This is not acceptable, especially not in the Netherlands or the EU, where secularism, freedom of expression and the freedom of religion is a basic right for every citizen. Regardless of what Mr. Wilders, the anti-Islam - anti-immigration Dutch politician says. The fact is that no individual is more equal than the another. ...And what makes this local government interference even more bizarre, is that the text in question was painted on a private property. Joop van Ooijen could just as well have painted the text "Long live the Dutch soccer team" or "My dog is the best dog in the world" on his roof. That is his right..

If you are concerned about what appears to be an erosion around the globe of human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, you can show your concern by taking action wherever you are and where it counts. In this particular case e-mail the County of Giesenlande at the following address: info@giessenlanden.nl :attention Mr. Jan de Groot - councilman with a copy to  the Province of South Holland - attn: Danielle Bolton at: secrveldhuijzen@pzh.nl and voice your concern. 

EU-Digest

9/23/10

Netherlands: "The Wilders Cabinet", a Ménage à trois or a one man show?

It looks like Geert Wilders (PVV), Mark Rutte (VVD),  and Maxime Verhagen of the CDA will  soon be forming a new Dutch right-wing cabinet  If it really happens, and no-one seems totally sure, it will be a first in Dutch political history where the controlling political faction ( PVV of Wilders) in this extraordinary coalition will be operating as an "outside supporter" of the government, but wielding most of the power

If this Wilders Cabinet comes about  it can only count on a majority of one, with the "de facto PM" Wilders still as free as a bird to spout all his one-liner derogatory comments around, but this time with the blessing of VVD's Mark Rutte and CDA's Maxime Verhagen.  One Dutch politician called this possible new coalition Government  a "Ménage à trois turning into a one man show".        ( Mark Rutte)
 
(Maxime Verhagen)  In a taste of what is to come Geert Wilders said he felt his party came under attack by the Dutch Queen when in a speech on the occasion of an annual Dutch ceremony celebrating the opening of the new parliamentary year, she referred to the need for a 'stable government' , interpreted by many as pointing the finger at Wilders.

In the speech, the queen also got into "hot water" again when she said: 'That requires give and take, tolerance and also adaptation. This is the responsibility of us all.'   Following the Queens remarks Wilders told the press: 'We have to get rid of this sort of political correctness.

' The queen's speech to Parliament, written by the outgoing PM Balkenende, also contained details of proposed budget cuts for the upcoming parliamentary year. Among the numerous budget cuts announced  it was also revealed that Dutch royalty is included in the "bite" of these budget cuts. Members of the royal family, other than the Queen and her direct heir, will now have have to pay inheritance and gift taxes, and  pay all expenses for personal travel.

EU-Digest

The Reborn Nazi's : Austria’s far right riding anti-Islamic wave in elections

Far-right parties are boosting their influence across Europe amid anti-Islamic agendas and calls for tougher immigration laws.

Such rhetoric has helped elect the Sweden Democrats to parliament for the first time. Now the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party is fueling nationalism in its campaign, hoping for resurgence this weekend.

The "Bye Bye Mosque" game was released by the Freedom Party as part of its bid for election into regional government in Styria – Austria's second largest province – and the game’s message has hit a raw nerve. The aim is simple: take aim and shoot down as many new mosques as you can, as they rise relentlessly above Austria's Alpine skyline. If you are not quick enough, the country is Islamized.

For more: Austria’s far right riding anti-Islamic wave in elections - RT Top Stories

9/22/10

US Economy: Will Debt Trigger US Collapse? - Niall Ferguson

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson predicts that within the next five years, the U.S. will be spending so much on interest payments, it will have to slash defense spending. "Military retreat from the mountains of the Hindu Kush, or the plains of Mesopotamia," Ferguson warns, "has long been a harbinger of imperial fall."

For more: Niall Ferguson: Will Debt Trigger US Collapse?

EU: Green light to tighter financial oversight by EU Parliament

The European Union Parliament has approved new financial oversight institutions aimed at preventing another financial crisis like the one that led to massive bank bailouts at taxpayer expense.

The parliament overwhelmingly backed the plan to set up watchdog boards for the financial markets, banking and insurance sectors in addition to a European board to make sure the EU can avoid new crises.
The institutions should become active at the beginning of next year.

Parliamentary approval in Strasbourg, France, was the last hurdle for the plans, which were hailed as a major step forward in EU-wide financial management. The EU member states had already approved them earlier this month. "This is a historic watershed," said Finance Minister Didier Reynders of Belgium, which currently holds the EU presidency.

For more go to: AP


Canada: Documentaries Set Sights on abuses of Wall Street

Several films now playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, and set to open in theaters around the United States in the next few months, offer a brutal assessment of the debt-swapping high jinks, regulatory failings and general spirit of self-aggrandizement that, by the movie world’s lights, led to the financial collapse of 2008.

Two documentaries, “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” directed by Alex Gibney, and “Inside Job,” from Charles Ferguson, take direct aim at Wall Street powers who are described as contributing to the financial implosion. The films also land some shots on Mr. Spitzer, the watchdog who became governor of New York and who fell from grace in a prostitution scandal but has now been somewhat rehabilitated as a host on CNN.

“Client 9” is set for release on Nov. 5 by Magnolia Pictures. “Inside Job” will be shown at the New York Film Festival later this month, then will be released commercially by Sony Pictures Classics in October. A third film, “Casino Jack,” directed by George Hickenlooper, casts Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff, the former businessman and lobbyist who was sentenced to federal prison after a conviction for defrauding Indian tribes and contributing to official corruption.


Note EU-Digest: Its good to have these films out. Will it change much of the Wall Street casino culture, probably not. What would work, which hardly anyone wants to mention or tackle, is to putting some of the culprits in jail and getting some really effective laws in place to see this does not happen again.


For more: Documentaries Set Sights on Wall Street - NYTimes.com

The Angry Rich and Taxes - by Paul Krugman

If you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.

For more Op-Ed Columnist - The Angry Rich and Taxes - NYTimes.com

9/21/10

US Politcs: Crazy on the March: The Tea Party Takes Over the Republican Party - by Shaun Jacob Halp

A tectonic shift is taking place in American politics: the extreme Right is on the rise and it is transforming the Republican Party. From Delaware to New York to Alaska, Tea Party candidates are sweeping Republican primaries. Part denial; part naiveté; part attack: it was only a year ago that most (in both parties) dismissed the Tea Party as too crazy, too irrational, and too fringe to be politically viable. It is now clear that crazy has marched to the steps of the Capitol. The Tea Party is Right America's new political reality and it is, contrary to Mayor Bloomberg's wishful thinking, no passing fad. Few have understood this phenomenon correctly: what exactly is the nature of this right wing rebellion?

Note EU-Digest: Before Obama, Americans elected George Bush, who among the many weird things he said once made the following profound statement: "More and more of our imports come from overseas."

Today.... impatient Americans are disappointed with Obama, because he is not delivering them "instant" prosperity".  After all, that is what US citizens are used to with everything, their food, losing weight, success, you name it. So now they are going for the Tea party, which promises less Government, lower taxes and "magic" to make the US deficit disappear. Oh yes,we nearly forgot, they also cherish Sarah Palin - One sometimes wonders ...have they all got it together up there across the pond? But America, don't worry, Europe is always ready and willing to follow you...and believe it or not, the crazies are also lining up here.

For more - Shaun Jacob Halper: Crazy on the March: The Tea Party Takes Over the Republican Party:

Turmoil In France Largely Due To Economy

France has been in turmoil over the past two weeks. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest the government's economic policy. President Nicolas Sarkozy is involved in a shouting match with the EU in Brussels over his crackdown on the Roma, the French gypsy community. And the huge Muslim community also feels picked on. This week, the French parliament voted to ban traditional Islamic dress that covers the face.

For more: Turmoil In France Largely Due To Economy : NPR

Xenophobic parties gain momentum in Europe - by Noah Barkin

Few people outside Germany paid much attention when a little-known Berlin politician named Rene Stadtkewitz convened a news conference here two weeks ago and announced the formation of a new "Freedom" party. But in a country where the collective memory of the Nazis has limited the influence of far right parties, the founding of a movement modelled on the anti-immigrant party of Dutch populist Geert Wilders was a small political earthquake.

Mr. Stadtkewitz, 45, wants headscarves banned, mosques shuttered and state welfare payments to Muslims cut. He is one of the new faces of a powerful anti-immigrant strain in European politics that is winning over voters and throwing mainstream politicians onto the defensive.

The traditionally tolerant Nordic country of Sweden became the latest to exhibit that phenomenon on Sunday when the far-right Sweden Democrats won 20 seats. The result prompted a lot of soul-searching in the Swedish media. The tabloid Expressen complained "obscure forces have taken Swedish politics hostage," while the leading daily Dagens Nyheter said, "The election's unpleasant back side is the Sweden Democrats' advance" and Aftonbladet said, "The nightmare scenario has happened."

In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken pre-emptive action to prevent similar gains for the far-right National Front, announcing a crackdown on Roma and criminals.

In Italy, Umberto Bossi's Northern League has wielded huge influence over domestic policy, pushing through tough laws that allow authorities to fine and imprison illegal immigrants.

In the Netherlands, Mr. Wilders, who wants to ban the Koran and expel Muslims who commit crimes, has emerged in the span of a few months as arguably the most powerful politician in the country..

Note EU-Digest: in the Netherlands there basically has been a "silent coup d'etat" within two of the major central right parties VVD and CDA, where right-wingers have taken over control, and where the "old guard" moderate leadership has either left or been expelled.  Providing the new leadership in these parties the opportunity to form closer ties with Geert Wilders and form a possible ultra - right wing, anti-immigration government coalition.

The Netherlands: Internet Censorship Proposed by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch-Ballin

Dutch Finance Minister Ernst Hirsch-Ballin has put forward a proposal  which indirectly has the appearance of controlling the use of Internet  Hirsch-Ballin says the purpose of the proposal  is aimed at combatting crime that is being enhanced by the use of Internet.

His proposal has three main points: a) Dutch courts to get the power to have information considered "not accurate" removed from the Internet; b) people or organizations who distribute or sell "non-public" information via the Internet can get a one year prison sentence; c) people who pass on information about credit card codes or passwords will be prosecuted by the legal system. By combining in the proposal item A and B with C, which is already in effect, the proposal is given the appearance to be a crime combatting proposal.    Presently the blocking of websites in the Netherlands still requires due process and the approval of  the Chief Prosecutor.

The proposal immediately resulted in a written protest to the Dutch Minister of Justice, signed by scientists, public interest and internet organizations. The letter was also signed by the Dutch Lawyers Organization, the Committee for Human Rights and the Digital  Freedom Organization "Bits of Freedom". The proposal is seen by the signatories of the letter as a tool which can obstruct the Public's right  to freedom of expression on a variety of issues including mal-practise at several levels, even that of the Government. It would also restrict the activities of "wistle- blowers" and public "watch-dogs ", such as wikileaks who have exposed many a Government  un-democratic and secret activities.

For more news see EU-Digest

9/20/10

Italy: Beppe Grillo is putting fire to the heels of Berlusconi

Giuseppe Piero Grillo, better known as Beppe Grillo (born 21 July 1948), is an Italian activist, blogger, comedian, actor and politician, who also works in theaters and on radio and television.

After receiving his degree as an accountant, Grillo became a comedian by chance, improvising a monologue in an audition. Two weeks later he was discovered and launched by Italian TV presenter Pippo Baudo. He became more and more popular as the years went on and  his performances began to be characterized by an increasing level of political satire, often expressed in such a direct way that he quickly offended a lot of Italian politicians.  In the past he once attacked the then Italian Socialist Party and its leader PM Bettino Craxi, during his visit to the People's Republic of China. Grillo said: "If the Chinese are all socialists, whom do they steal from?"

He maintains a blog (available in Italian, English and Japanese) at beppegrillo.it which is updated daily. Comments to posts regularly top the thousands (in the Italian version). According to Technorati, the blog is ranked among the 10 most visited blogs in the world.

Grillo has proposed that members of the Italian Parliament, who have a criminal record should be barred from public office. During his shows Grillo never hesitates to name firms and personalities he considers corrupt, always supporting his views with data and documents. For this reason he has been sued several times by many people and organizations which he had exposed, such as Telecom Italia and farmalat.

Of all his satire and critique, the one Grillo applies most effectively is that against Berlusconi, which appears tobe without a doubt probably the most effective verbal weapon against a man who appears to be out to destroy freedom of speech in Italy and who runs the country like a Maffia boss.

Europe damaged by submission to US'says Iran

"History shows that Europe's submission to the United States has been harmful to European countries," Head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said in a meeting with former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Tehran on Sunday.

Boroujerdi said sanctions have had no impact on Iran's development, adding, "Over the past 30 years, the Iranian nation turned sanctions into opportunities for progress in advanced sciences and technologies".

The Iranian lawmaker reiterated that all reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have confirmed non-diversion in Iran's peaceful nuclear activities.

For more: PressTV - 'Europe damaged by submission to US'

Turks Less Interested in Joining EU as Economy, Political Influence Grow - by James G. Neuger

Turkish eagerness to join the European Union is plummeting as the economy outgrows Europe’s and the country emerges as a regional power-broker, a survey showed.

Only 38 percent of Turks regard future EU membership as a “good thing,” down from 48 percent last year and 73 percent in 2004, according to a poll released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Italian foundation Compagnia di San Paolo.

A 150 percent increase in gross domestic product per capita since 2003 has lessened Turkey’s need for European links and emboldened it to pursue a more independent foreign policy.

For more: Turks Less Interested in Joining EU as Economy, Political Influence Grow - Bloomberg

47% of British voters say they want to withdraw from the EU

The Daily Express cited the recent YouGov poll, which found that 47 per cent of British voters would vote in favor of the UK withdrawing from the EU if a referendum on the issue were held.

Europe Minister David Lidington announced government plans for a ‘referendum lock’ that would give UK citizens a say on any future proposals to transfer major powers from Britain to the EU. He said: “The lock would cover any proposed transfers of competence – the EU’s ability to act in a given area – between the UK and the EU; and transfers of power, such as the giving up of UK national vetoes and moving to majority voting in significant areas, such as in Common Foreign and Security Policy.” He added: “Treaty changes which do not transfer competence or power from the UK to the EU would not be subject to a referendum. For example, Accession Treaties.”

Note EU-Digest: Yet this opinion finds almost no echo in the British Parliament. Only two-and-a-half per cent of of MPs are declared opponents of EU membership; if you exclude Northern Ireland MPs, the figure drops to below one per cent. Obviously this means the British Public seems to be listening to the very vocal group of Euro sceptics while the parliamentarians who are supposed to know better are themselves doing a pretty bad job in promoting the benefits of the EU. 


For more: INDEPENDENT online

9/19/10

EU struggles to project itself as world power - by David Gardner

Even by the standards of recent European Union summits, last Thursday’s gathering of the leaders of the 27 member states in Brussels was a dispiriting affair. It was called to discuss how to engage strategically with emerging powers such as China and Russia. In the event, it was notable mostly for a shrill row between France and the European Commission over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s deportations of Roma. Once more, the EU looked feeble.

Note EU-Digest: a typical Anglo Saxon comment by a eurosceptic British journalist. At least arguments come into the open during these EU meetings and are not swept under the carpet.

For more: FT.com / Europe



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The Left under siege in Europe

Sweden Democrats, as the party is known, has provoked angry protests with its advertisements and pledges to cut immigration by 90 per cent. Some call its members neo-Nazis: one was attacked in his flat in Malmo on September 10 by two masked men who re-enacted a scene from a recent Hollywood war film by carving a swastika into his forehead.

In spite of the backlash, the party is expected to gather much more than the 4 per cent of votes necessary to win seats in parliament and may even end up holding the balance of power, a shocking prospect for the land of Ikea and social democracy.

In fact, the collectivist, egalitarian creed for which Sweden is famous has been fading in recent years, reflecting a change across the European Union. From Belgium to Bulgaria, the demise of the Left and rise of the populist Right have turned Europe's political map into an expanse of blue in which the Iberian peninsula and Greece are among the few remaining islands of red.

For more: The Left under siege in Europe | The Australian

Sweden elections end in hung parliament, rise of far-Right

Swedish elections on Sunday night ended in a hung parliament after the rise of a far-Right group narrowly prevented the conservative-liberal coalition government from winning an outright majority in Sweden’s parliament. Official preliminary results showed Mr Reinfeldt’s centre-Right coalition winning 173 seats in the 349-seat parliament and the Social Democrat led Left-Green coalition with 156 seats.

However, the big news of the night for a country which has long prided itself as being one of the most tolerant in Europe was that the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats (SD) looked set to win 20 seats, their first entry to the national parliament.

For more: Sweden elections end in hung parliament, rise of far-Right - Telegraph

Sarkozy faces another tough week

Already under attack from Europe over Roma expulsions, unions over pension reform and the press over financial scandal, President Nicolas Sarkozy now faces yet another tough week.

But – with his rock-bottom opinion poll ratings falling once again – France’s mercurial leader appears determined to press on regardless, despite strikes, street protests and a barrage of international criticism.

With less than two years to run before he must seek re-election, Sarkozy opened the newspapers on Sunday to find his personal approval rating falling four points to 32 percent in an IFOP poll carried out for the Journal du Dimanche.

For more: Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Beleaguered Sarkozy faces another tough week

Is Turkey becoming more democratic, or less so?

After a polarizing campaign that became more a referendum on his government than on the 26 proposed constitutional reforms, Mr. Erdogan was rewarded with a decisive victory: 58 percent of voters approved the changes in a charter that had been imposed by the military after a 1980 coup. Many of the changes are indisputably liberal and will strengthen democracy in a Muslim country that is a NATO member and has aspired to join the European Union.

For example, military officers will be subject to civilian trials; the rights of women, the elderly, handicapped people and children will be enhanced; restrictions on unions will be lifted; and individuals will have greater privacy rights and the ability to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

But the constitutional package, which was presented to voters for a single, up-or-down vote, also contains a sweeping reorganization of the Constitutional Court and Turkey's other top judicial body, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. Each would be expanded, and the power of appointment would be shifted to the president and legislature. Until now, Turkey's judiciary has been a bastion of secularism and thus of resistance to Mr. Erdogan. The Constitutional Court struck down his initiative allowing women to wear head scarves in state schools and came within one vote of outlawing his party.

Now Mr. Erdogan will have the power to place his appointees in a dominating position. The opposition charges that the courts will become merely another arm of the ruling party -- which, it claims, is carrying out a "creeping coup" against the secular state. While some of the critics' rhetoric may be exaggerated, Mr. Erdogan's actions give cause for concern. In the last several years his government has used questionable tax charges to lean on opposition media. Sprawling investigations of alleged coup plotters have swept up not just military officers but also businessmen and journalists.

For more: Is Turkey becoming more democratic, or less so?

9/17/10

Report lists Ireland as second richest EU country after Luxembourg

Ireland remained the second richest country in the 27-member EU last year, according to the Central Statistics Office’s annual compendium of statistics, entitled Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2009.
Gross domestic product (GDP) per head, when adjusted for differences in the cost of living in different countries, was 31 per cent above the EU average. Although sharply down from its peak in 2007, when it stood at 48 per cent above the average, Ireland remained fractionally above the Netherlands, the country with the third highest standard of living. Luxembourg is by far the richest country among the 27, with per capita average GDP 168 per cent above the average, while Romania is the poorest at less than half the average.the second richest country in the 27-member EU last year, according to the Central Statistics Office’s annual compendium of statistics, entitled Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2009.

Gross domestic product (GDP) per head, when adjusted for differences in the cost of living in different countries, was 31 per cent above the EU average. Although sharply down from its peak in 2007, when it stood at 48 per cent above the average, Ireland remained fractionally above the Netherlands, the country with the third highest standard of living.

Luxembourg is by far the richest country among the 27, with per capita average GDP 168 per cent above the average, while Romania is the poorest at less than half the average.
For more: Report lists Ireland as second richest EU country - The Irish Times - Fri, Sep 17, 2010

EU can't agree on how to halt rule-breakers - by Sarah Collins

There was no agreement among EU leaders on how to punish countries that break the bloc's debt and deficit limits, Taoiseach Brian Cowen confirmed yesterday.

The quandary facing the 27-member union is how to make sure profligate states never again bring the single currency into disrepute as events in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain continue to animate bond markets.
Before the summer, leaders signed up to allow their peers greater scrutiny of spending plans and a new timetable for submitting budget outlines to Brussels, but deep divisions remain over what kind of sanctions to apply to those countries that persistently flout the rules.

For more: EU can't agree on how to halt rule-breakers - European, Business - Independent.ie

Roma: a problem that won't go away for the EU

The Roma people are an ethnic group with origins in South Asia and Eastern Europe who are widely dispersed with their largest concentrated populations in Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe. Also there are more recent diaspora populations in the Americas and, to a lesser extent, in North Africa and the Middle East..In addition there is a subgroup of the Romani people who live primarily in Central and Eastern Europe. In the EU there are an estimated 10-million Roma and nearly 90% of them live below the poverty line. Turkey which is an aspiring EU member has 2.7 million Roma living within its borders.

France's stepped-up removal of Roma migrants this summer, part of what President Sarkozy has called a crackdown on crime, has caused quite a stir in the EU. President Sarkozy says the expulsions are a matter of security and that the European Commission should come up with Europe-wide solutions rather than criticizing France. He said there had been no expulsions based on ethnicity. On the other hand President Sarkozy was unrepentant as to his actions and vowed during a EU Heads-Of-State meeting in Bruxelles to continue dismantling illegal immigrant camps.

The French policy also involves offering Roma families a financial incentive to return to Romania and Bulgaria. The row has underscored differences in Europe over how to deal with problems related to immigration, persistent unemployment and ethnic minorities, particularly at a time of economic slowdown and social hardship. Presently more than 400 camps have been dismantled in France and about 1000 Roma have already been deported to Romania and Bulgaria.

There are about 400.000 Roma of which 15000 Roma from Romania and Bulgaria in France. Even though as EU citizens they are allowed in, there is a three-month limit on people who don’t have jobs or incomes. France is enforcing that, and clamping down on the illegal camps in which the Roma live.

France is also not the first EU country deporting the Roma people: Italy also deported Roma last year, but pretty much got away with it.Some countries in the EU, such as Spain, have treated the Roma problem more humanely, investing resources to integrate the Roma economically and socially into society, instead of marginalizing and deporting them.

EU-Digest 

US Economy: Ending tax cuts for top 2 percent a step in the right direction - by Dave Zweifel

As the US continues to suffer the effects of the Great Recession and the national debt keeps growing, the president’s sensible proposal to extend the infamous George W. Bush tax cuts to American families earning less than $250,000, but letting them expire on incomes above that mark, has the Republicans and some all-too-familiar “blue dog” Democrats emitting cries of anguish for the nation’s wealthiest 2 percent.
“Class warfare,” the GOP leaders shout, claiming that any tax increase in this economy would cause every calamity except, perhaps, stopping the earth from rotating.

Class warfare? Yes, there’s class warfare occurring in this country, but it’s not what the GOP and the blue dogs claim. It’s the other way around: a war being waged by the country’s privileged financial elite against the great American middle and lower financial classes with the help of politicians whose coffers are kept brimming by the privileged people. It began in 1981 with the introduction of Reaganomics and it has continued unabated, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton’s second term, ever since.

Taxes were cut, deficits soared and during all that time, the wealthiest 1 percent in the United States increased their share of the country’s financial wealth from less than 25 percent to more than 35 percent today. The bottom 99 percent’s piece of the economic pie dropped from 75 to 65 percent.

For more: Plain Talk: Ending tax cuts for top 2 percent a step in the right direction

9/16/10

Greece's finance minister says country's recession could be less sever than forecast

The Greek finance minister says his country's recession may be less severe than had been predicted under the economic turnaround plan that helped it stave off financial collapse earlier this year.

George Papaconstantinou says his government hopes Greece's economy will shrink less than the four per cent predicted under the bailout plan.

He spoke Thursday after meeting with French counterpart Christine Lagarde — part of a two-day road show to woo investors in London, Paris and Frankfurt.

For more: Greece's finance minister says country's recession could be less sever than forecast | Markets | Headline News | Canadian Business Online

Denmark: Best country for entrepreneurs? Hint: Not the US. - by Brian Anthony Hernandez

If entrepreneurial performance were an Olympic sport, Denmark and Canada just stole the gold medal from the perennially favored United State. The U.S. lands third in a report from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, which evaluated 71 nations in terms of entrepreneurship and performance.

“The global perception of the country as a land of opportunity and as the mecca for individuals wanting to do something new and different seems to be somewhat challenged by the facts,” wrote the report's authors, Zoltan Acs of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and Laslo Szerb of Hungary's University of Pécs. Those facts, according to their report: Stacked against other major economies, the U.S. lacks high-growth business and cultural support for entrepreneurship and is frail in the technology sector.

The weaknesses caused the United States to rank an unlikely sixth in entrepreneurial attitudes — society’s feelings toward entrepreneurship, based on education and social stability — and eighth in entrepreneurial activity: what citizens are doing to improve the quality of human resources and technological efficiency.

Best country for entrepreneurs? Hint: Not the US. - CSMonitor.com

9/15/10

EU might react legally against France on Roma - by Cerise Negulici

Commissioner Viviane Reding that the European Commission must take legal lawsuit against France over its exile of Roma. Ms Reding termed French dealings a dishonor. She regretted the fact that a betrayal official memo opposed reassurance provided to her by France.

France expressed it bewilderment in reply to her statement on Tuesday.It exiled approximately 230 Roma on Tuesday only, sending them to Romania from Paris and Marseille. In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry articulated disappointment at the EU commissioner's declaration. According to a ministry spokesman he did not feel that the EU minister's remarks can perk up circumstances for Roma.

Since mid-August, France has exiled more than 1,000 Roma to Romania and Bulgaria, and dislocated more than 100 of their camps, in a stir that President Nicolas Sarkozy calls a clean-up on crime.

For more: EU might react legally against France on Roma | French Tribune

Netherlands: Dutch Police arrest Drunk Delta Pilot in Cockpit:- Airline Captain Was Planning to Fly from Amsterdam to New York

A Delta pilot has been arrested and fined for allegedly being drunk as he was preparing to fly from Amsterdam to Newark Liberty International Airport, outside New York City.

The Dutch National Police Corps has not identified the pilot but says he is a 52-year-old captain from Woodbury, N.J.

Delta issued a statement about Flight 35, saying that it was "canceled out of concern that a crew member appeared to be unfit for duty."

Note EU-Digest: This probably was  only one of the many pilots caught flying under the influence of alcohol. Why not test every pilot going on a flight as to his or her level of alcohol content in the blood? It's a simple breathalyzer test which takes less than 2 minutes. Far less time consuming than the "security tests" the flying public already have to endure every day. Best of all, it will save lives. 

For more: Drunk Delta Pilot Arrested in Cockpit: Airline Captain Was Planning to Fly from Amsterdam to New York

Soccer UEFA Cup: Dutch soccer newcomer Twente proud after tremendous night against Champion Milan

Playing in their first match in the competition against the champions FC Internazionale Milano in Group A, Twente were trailing to Wesley Sneijder's 13th-minute strike when Janssen fired high into the top left corner, leaving Júlio César grasping at air. A Diego Milito own goal on the half hour gave Twente the lead, only for Samuel Eto'o to strike four minutes before the break to earn Inter a 2-2 draw.

At the start fans behind the home goal unfurled a banner that spanned the entire stand with the Twente and fan club logos emblazoned over a map of Europe. As the home support roared their side on, it is clear the Dutch champions will enjoy the ride.

For more: Twente proud after tremendous night on UEFA.COM

Guy Carpenter reports on European casualty insurance law - by Gill Montia

Guy Carpenter & Company has released a report on the recent developments and trends in the Continental European legal environment that impact on the casualty insurance industry.

The study has been developed in conjunction with law firm, Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, and its network of insurance law practitioners in jurisdictions across Continental Europe.

It highlights European Commission consultations regarding cross-border road traffic accident claims and an Austrian Supreme Court ruling on premium arrears.

For more: Guy Carpenter reports on European casualty insurance law

US economy: Grim US economy: An opportunity in adversity?

For the better part of a year, a small band of investors and economists has been arguing that the torrent of grim news on jobs and the stagnating US economy is shrouding an immutable fact: The recovery is at hand – you just can’t see it yet.


But therein lies the opportunity for investors like John A Paulson, the hedge fund executive who made billions by betting on a housing crash, and Bill Miller, the mutual fund manager at Legg Mason Capital Management who is best known for his 15-year streak of beating the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

The bad news bulls do not dispute that the relentless beat of lost jobs and sagging house sales represents a serious economic threat. But they argue that in many respects this avalanche of bad news has little bearing for a growing number of corporations that are making money by relying more on technology, borrowing at rock-bottom rates and increasing sales to galloping overseas markets in China, Brazil and India. 


For more: Grim US economy: An opportunity in adversity? - The Economic Times

9/14/10

Germany asks US to give up its IMF veto - by Alan Beattie

The US should give up its veto over important decisions in the International Monetary Fund in return for Europe accepting a smaller say, Germany has proposed.

The suggestion, which experts say will be strongly opposed by the US, addresses a politically highly symbolic dispute about voting power and seats on the fund’s executive board. Shifting power towards emerging market countries is one of the central elements in the Group of 20 nations’ drive to make the fund and other international institutions more representative.

Last month the US used a procedural manoeuvre to force the European countries to agree reforms to the executive board by November 1. The 24-member board currently has nine European executive directors, and negotiations have been under way to increase representation from emerging markets, particularly in Asia.

For more: FT.com / Europe - Germany asks US to give up its IMF veto

EU nearly doubles eurozone growth forecast

Europe nearly doubled its growth forecast Monday to at least 1.7 percent for 2010, highlighting recovery in Germany but warning about rising strains in Ireland’s banking system.

The European Union raised its core eurozone growth prediction on data from its seven biggest members, having forecast just 0.9 percent in the spring, but was at pains to remain prudent.

Encouraged to see “revival ... particularly in Germany,” Brussels warned that risks “remain elevated” with a “multi-speed” recovery accentuated by problems with national finances in Ireland and elsewhere.

For more: Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - EU nearly doubles eurozone growth forecast

The Myth of "Decoupling" and the Chinese Consumer - by Charles Hugh Smith

The "China decoupling" story holds that as China's households grow wealthier then China will no longer need export markets in the E.U. and the U.S. The story is appealing but the facts don't support it.

A single statistic completely undermines the "China will decouple from the U.S. because Chinese domestic demand will absorb all its production capacity" story: The proportion of the China's GDP contributed by the household sector (wages, salaries and consumption) peaked at 56 percent in 1983 and has since dropped to 36 percent—roughly half the size of the consumer economy in the U.S. That means that China's households are receiving a smaller piece of the pie as China's GDP grows, even the annual average wages of workers in urban areas of China increased from 12,422 yuan ($1,832) in 2002 to 29,229 yuan ($4,311) in 2008.

Another factor is that Chinese households are prodigious savers: China boasts a savings rate of 38%, fully ten times that of the U.S. But Chinese savers have few choices on where to invest their money: they can either leave it in a savings account which draws 2.25%, less than the inflation rate of 3.1%, or invest in real estate or domestic stocks.

Those proclaiming the coming decoupling and rise of the Chinese consumer neatly glide over the fact that investment, including foreign direct investment (FDI), accounts for 44% of China's economy, a higher level than Japan or South Korea ever reached in their modernization drives. This is an economy that is exquisitely dependent on massive inflows of capital to sustain its growth; the entire household sector is a mere 80% of direct investment.

For more: The Myth of "Decoupling" and the Chinese Consumer | Benzinga.com

9/13/10

Golf - Paul McGinley: 'It's very important we win the Ryder Cup again'

 My views are very strong," Paul McGinley says as, in his role as a vice-captain of the European Ryder Cup team, he displays the conviction his players will need if they are to wrest back the trophy from the United States in less than three weeks. "We're a European team. We're a European Tour. And even though a lot of our players are playing in America we have to draw the line. We need to finish the qualification for a European team on European soil."

Earlier this summer McGinley predicted a handsome European victory, but he sounds more cautious now. "A couple of months ago we were quite clear favourites – but things have changed. We have been hurt by Lee Westwood's injury. There's no doubt about that. It's going to be an unknown factor until Lee turns up that week and we see how he feels, having not competed since the Open. That's a disappointment for Europe.Earlier this summer McGinley predicted a handsome European victory, but he sounds more cautious now. "A couple of months ago we were quite clear favourites – but things have changed. We have been hurt by Lee Westwood's injury. There's no doubt about that. It's going to be an unknown factor until Lee turns up that week and we see how he feels, having not competed since the Open. That's a disappointment for Europe.

For more: Paul McGinley: 'It's very important we win the Ryder Cup again' | Sport | The Guardian

Iranian Diplomats Defect In Finland, Belgium

Iranian opposition members say another Iranian diplomat has defected in Europe -- this time in Belgium. The Europe-based Green Wave opposition movement said Farzad Farhangian, press attache at the Iranian Embassy in Brussels, walked out on September 10 and flew to Oslo. In Norway, former Iranian consular official Mohammed Reza Heydari confirmed that Farhangian "left the embassy after informing the ambassador that he was leaving and he came here without anyone [else] knowing about this."

For more: Iranian Diplomats Defect In Finland, Belgium - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2010

Russian cruise industry experiencing significant increase

Several positive trends have been noted in river cruises for the Russian tourist industry. According to tourism experts, sales have increased by 30%, and the tourist flow has improved by 20-25% compared to the previous year.

As for the sea cruises, at the beginning of the summer that segment began to show steady growth in the number of bookings. Experts estimate that the flow of tourists has risen by about 70% compared to the same period last year.

For more: Cruise News Russian cruise industry experiencing significant increase - eTurboNews.com

US economy: Tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers will benefit the US economy

The Treasury Department estimates that extending all the tax cuts would deny the Treasury almost $3.7 trillion in revenues over the next decade, swelling the national debt.  Allowing the reductions for the wealthiest 2 percent to expire would narrow that loss to just under $3 trillion by raising $679.6 billion in new revenue from the wealthy, the Treasury estimates.

Based on president Obama's and his advisers calculations, the very small increase in the top tax bracket isn't going to harm the rich or the economy, since that was the rate that was in effect during the booming 1990s, the longest sustained economic expansion in U.S. history.

Unfortunately the "always say no" Republicans warn of disaster if all the tax reductions aren't extended,  while  at the same time some of the "sponsored" Democrats in Congress appear increasingly wary of the administration's approach.

For more news go to EU-Digest









European Rail industry on track for gains in market share - by Robert Wright

Rail tends to make rapid gains in market share as soon as new, dedicated high-speed rail lines are opened, Johannes Ludewig, executive director of the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies, says.

He predicts significant gains for rail’s market share in Italy after the opening of two new high-speed sections in the last two years completed the Rome to Milan high-speed line, cutting journey times by an hour to two hours 45 minutes.

Rail’s main competitive advantage is that, while trains never match aircraft for speed, shorter check-in times and railway stations’ central locations give rail time and convenience advantages for short-haul journeys. In Europe, air’s market share in long-distance travel has been falling almost continually since the continent’s first dedicated high-speed rail line linked Paris to Lyons in 1981.

For more: FT.com / Reports - Business class: Rail industry on track for gains in market share

China: Guess who's not coming to dinner? - by Aileen McCabe

China's richest are worried that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are coming to Beijing later this month to strong-arm them into making charitable donations.

The Microsoft founder and investment guru are bringing "The Giving Pledge" campaign to the Chinese capital on the heels of their success in the U.S. convincing 40 mega-rich to donate half their wealth to good causes -about $125 billion U.S. -either while they are alive or on their death beds. But according to Chinese media, several of the 50 invited Chinese guests to the dinner Gates and Buffett will host have declined and many have phoned to ask for clarification.

For more: Guess who's not coming to dinner?

Europe must react to Turkey’s vote - by Sinan Ulgen

Turkey’s referendum on Sunday saw a package of constitutional amendments win the support of 58 per cent of the Turkish population.

Perhaps the most significant change brought by the referendum campaign is the greater visibility brought to the objective of EU membership. The “yes” campaign made reference to the EU to convince Turkish public opinion of the package’s benefits. And today’s statement by the European Commission welcoming the adoption of the package underscored the growing interest of the EU in Turkey’s domestic dynamics.

For more: FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Europe must react to Turkey’s vote

European Satellites reveal Russian fires worst in 14 years

More wildfires have burned around the Russian capital this year than in the last decade and a half, according to sensors aboard European ESA’s observation satellites. The forest and peat bog fires ignited this summer amid an unprecedented heat wave of up to 40ºC.

Working like thermometers in the sky, the Along Track Scanning Radiometer and the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer on ESA’s ERS-2 and Envisat satellites measure thermal-infrared radiation to take the temperature of Earth’s land surface.

Flames reach temperatures that are detected by these sensors and confirm the presence of fire.

For more: ESA Portal - Satellites reveal Russian fires worst in 14 years