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11/30/10

'Souring' Israel-Turkey relationship seen in WikiLeaks - by Borzou Daragahi

Hours before an annual joint military exercise was to begin in June 2009, Turkey booted Israel from the event. But American diplomats persuaded Turkey to paper over the differences, mainly involving Israel's war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip several months earlier, and officially describe Israel's absence as a mere delay.

"Through some remarkable work with allies … we engineered a public 'postponement' of the international portion of the exercise," the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, reported. "But, the relationship is souring," it said of ties between Turkey, the only Muslim nation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and longtime U.S. ally Israel. The embassy's secret account was among the trove of documents about America's complicated relationship with an increasingly independent and ambitious Turkey that were released this week by the website WikiLeaks.

The documents underscore the importance of Turkey, a moderate Islamic country bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria. The documents show that U.S. officials use Turkey as a base to gather intelligence on Iran and value the massive U.S. airbase at Incirlik as a location to ferry supplies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more: 'Souring' Israel-Turkey relationship seen in WikiLeaks trove - Los Angeles Times

Hundreds of previously unknown Picassos found in France

More than 270 previously unknown works by Pablo Picasso recently came to light when a retired electrician sought to have them authenticated by the late artist's estate, the Picasso Administration said Monday.

The works -- a collection of cubist collages, drawings, lithographs, notebooks and a watercolor -- were revealed in January when Le Guennec contacted the Picasso estate by mail to request certification of authenticity. Along with the letter, Le Guennec included 26 photographs of previously unpublished Picasso pieces.

For more: Hundreds of previously unknown Picassos found in France - CNN.com

European economic sentiment hits three-year high

The economic mood in Europe hit its highest level in three years in November despite the market turmoil unleashed by the region's debt crisis, a survey released Monday showed.

The European Commission said its closely watched economic sentiment index (ESI) for the 16-member eurozone rose to 105.3 this month from 103.8 in October.

This represents the index's highest level since October 2007. Analysts had expected the index, which measures the mood both among industry and consumers, would climb to 105 this month.

For more: European economic sentiment hits three-year high - Monsters and Critics

11/29/10

WikiLeaks: The revolution has begun – and it will be digitised - by Heather Brooke

Data has a habit of spreading. It slips past military security and it can also leak from WikiLeaks, which is how I came to obtain the data. It even slipped past the embargoes of the Guardian and other media organisations involved in this story when a rogue copy of Der Spiegel accidentally went on sale in Basle, Switzerland, on Sunday. Someone bought it, realised what they had, and began scanning the pages, translating them from German to English and posting updates on Twitter. It would seem digital data respects no authority, be it the Pentagon, WikiLeaks or a newspaper editor.

Technology is breaking down traditional social barriers of status, class, power, wealth and geography – replacing them with an ethos of collaboration and transparency.

Note EU-Digest: the great thing about this new revolution is that no government anywhere in the world has the power today to turn off the Internet. For if any country with the technical means to do so believes they can get away with it, they will not only instantly create economic chaos, but also set off a popular Global revolt like we can only imagine in our wildest dreams.

For more: WikiLeaks: The revolution has begun – and it will be digitised | Heather Brooke | Comment is free | The Guardian

Europe’s Car of the Year Award Goes To The Electric Renault-Nissan Leaf!

Europe has just bestowed its Car of the Year award to the Renault-Nissan Leaf — a vehicle that just happens to be a 100% electric.

The Leaf not only got tons of attention for being the first electric car to win this coveted award — but also made news for unearthing some big-time critics in the voting panel. Some judges placed the the Japanese hatchback in dreaded last place, but the Leaf ably cruised ahead of finalists like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Vauxhall/Opel Meriva to win the COTY award.

Note EU-Digest: Bullish on green cars, the chief executive of the Renault-Nissan automotive alliance said today Monday they plan to produce and sell 500,000 electric vehicles a year around the globe by the end of 2013.

For more: Europe’s Car of the Year Award Goes To The Electric Nissan Leaf! « ecorazzi.com :: the latest in green gossip

Gerhard Schroeder accuses George W Bush of 'not telling truth' in memoirs

Gerhard Schroeder has accused former President George W Bush of "not telling the truth" in his memoirs over claims that the former German chancellor had broken his word over support for the Iraq invasion. In his book "Decision Points", published this week, Mr Bush writes that he told Mr Schroeder in an Oval Office meeting on 31st January 2002 that he was determined to make diplomacy work but he would invade Iraq if all else failed.

Mr Schroeder responded to Mr Bush's claims, accusing him of "not telling the truth". In a statement, he confirmed that he had told Mr Bush he would "stand reliably on the side of the US" if it was confirmed that Iraq was sheltering those responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"But this link, as it became clear during 2002, was false and contrived. This goes for reasons [for the invasion] given by Bush and [then vice-president Dick] Cheney too.

For more: Gerhard Schroeder accuses George W Bush of 'not telling truth' in memoirs - Telegraph

Swiss vote to expel foreign criminals adds to 'populist surge' across Europe

Some people protested after Switzerland voted on an initiative to expel foreigners (Ausschaffungsinitiative) in Zurich November 28. A majority of Swiss voted in a referendum on Sunday to ease the expulsion of foreigners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, the latest sign of growing hostility to immigration in the Alpine state.

For more: Swiss vote to expel foreign criminals adds to 'populist surge' across Europe - CSMonitor.com

Ireland agrees to $90 billion bailout terms

Ireland on Sunday reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for an emergency bailout package worth $90 billion, a rescue meant to both shore up that nation's buckling banks and confront investor fears that Dublin's problems are spreading to other European nations.

For more: Ireland agrees to $90 billion bailout terms

11/28/10

Germany wants punitive interest rate for Ireland

European finance ministers are struggling to reach agreement on the interest rate to be paid by Ireland for the €85bn of rescue finance it is set to receive from the EU and IMF - although they appear to have reached a settled position there should not be losses imposed on providers of senior debt to Irish banks.

The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, is arguing that Ireland should pay a higher interest rate of around 7 per cent. His demand is thought to reflect the chronic unpopularity in Germany of the country's participation in bailouts of financially weaker EU states, such as Greece and Ireland.


So the German government feels that any rescue loans should not look like cheap money, but should be charged at an interest rate that contains an element of punishment for the reckless borrowing spree of Ireland's banks, which took the Irish economy to the brink of bankruptcy.

Note EU-Digest: Germany is right. Ireland does not really have the maturity as a nation to be a member of the EU. It also took two referendums for Ireland to agree to the Lisbon Treaty. Now they are benefiting once again from the safety net EU membership provides.


For more: BBC - Peston's Picks: Germany wants punitive interest rate for Ireland

11/27/10

Euro: The State of the European Crisis: BY Arnold Kling

"The question is whether the Eurocrats can beat back the speculators. I find the whole situation much too complex. I can only come up with a list of things that I wish I knew. "

For more: The State of the European Crisis, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

11/26/10

US ECONOMY: Deals, what deals? U.S. consumers unimpressed by 'Black Friday' discounts

Despite the Black Friday hoopla, there are still four more weeks until Christmas. With consumers showing a tendency to do much of their shopping at the last minute, analysts say Black Friday is not a strong predictor for the season as a whole.

Initial data on Friday traffic and sales are expected in the next two days from industry groups. Retailers report November sales results next Thursday.

FOR MORE: Deals, what deals? U.S. consumers unimpressed by 'Black Friday' discounts

Wilders can't handle critique: Complains about "Witch-Hunt"

Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders considers that the media is paying excessive attention to the pasts of his MPs. He said Friday after new revelations and rumours that he is "sick and tired" of it.

"The media's digging into the past of PVV MPs is now beginning to look like a cheap witch-hunt. I will not go along with this. I will of course tackle cases where PVV MPs have made mistakes, but the hyped-up media can just go into the deep freeze for now, as far as I am concerned. I want calm to return and will therefore no longer react to every incident."

De Volkskrant reported Friday that PVV MP Eric Lucassen has been pursued by legal bailiffs for seven years due to payment arrears and failure to comply with financial obligations. He is also said to be registered at social benefit administrator UWV as a basic benefit recipient.

Note EU-Digest: Looks like Mr. Wilders can not stand his own medicine?


For more: Wilders Complains about "Witch-Hunt"

Germany's Chancellor Expresses Confidence in Euro's Durability

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed confidence the 16-nation euro currency will survive the continent's debt crisis, and that no member of the eurozone risks having to restructure its debt. Ms. Merkel spoke Thursday in Berlin, seeking to reassure financial markets as the euro was near a two-month low against the dollar.

Many analysts are voicing fears the euro's value could drop further if Spain and Portugal follow Greece and Ireland in seeking massive international bailouts.

For more: VOA | Germany's Chancellor Expresses Confidence in Euro's Durability | Europe | English

EU/IMF deal for Ireland seen on Sunday -sources | Reuters

An 85 billion euro rescue package for Ireland from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund is very likely to be announced on Sunday, euro zone sources said.


"It is quite likely that the deal will be announced on Sunday," one euro zone source with insight into the negotiations with Ireland said on Friday.


A team of officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF has been negotiating the details of the package in Dublin since last week.

For more: UPDATE 1-EU/IMF deal for Ireland seen on Sunday -sources | Reuters

Putin Suggests United States of Europe and Russia - by John W. Miller

This week, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, fresh off making another move toward joining the WTO, upped the ante on continental unity, although, to be fair, his ambition is purely economic, not martial or political.

Mr. Putin wrote an opinion piece in a German newspaper calling for a “harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” It was a way out of recession, he argued, that could “trigger a new wave of industrialization across the European continent.”

Now it’s up to European Union leaders to respond. German chancellor Angela Merkel went first, saying she had felt compelled to “pour some cold water” on Mr. Putin’s overtures. Judging from this reaction from one of the most sympathetic countries to Russia in the EU, Mr. Putin may have to accept that his idea is perhaps one whose time has simply not yet come.

Note EU-Digest: Not a bad idea. It's time to come up with some fresh ideas for the EU and Mr. Putin's suggestion certainly is a valuable one.


For more: Putin Suggests United States of Europe and Russia - Real Time Brussels - WSJ

11/25/10

The Netherlands: Geert Wilders PVV MP Hero Brinkman avoided drink driving check

PVV parliamentarian Hero Brinkman drove away from a police alcohol check at high speed with his car headlights dimmed while a serving police officer in 2001, tv news show Nieuwsuur reported on Thursday night.


Brinkman’s car was followed by two police officers who eventually caught him trying to enter his home by the rear entrance. On entering his home, Brinkman grabbed a brandy bottle and began drinking out of it, the official police report of the incident shows.

Brinkman was arrested. The case was eventually settled out of court and Brinkman fined €200, Nieuwsuur said.

For more: DutchNews.nl - PVV MP Hero Brinkman avoided drink driving check, while a police officer

EU Broadband Take-up Pulls Ahead of US, but Speeds Still Low

Nine European Union member states -- Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. -- have broadband take-up above the U.S. level of 26.4 subscriptions per 100 individuals, the European Commission announced Thursday.

But Europe still lags behind Asian countries, particularly Japan and South Korea, in broadband speeds. In July, just 29 percent of E.U. broadband lines had speeds of at least 10Mbps, and only 5 percent of lines had average speeds at or above 30Mbps.

The Commission wants to see all broadband connections at speeds of least 30Mbps by 2020, and has set a target of at least half of European households subscribing to speeds above 100Mbps.

For more: EU Broadband Take-up Pulls Ahead of US, but Speeds Still Low - PCWorld Business Center

France to hunt again for vanished Rio-Paris flight

The French government has announced plans for a fourth search for the flight recorders of an Air France Airbus 330 jetliner that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris 18 months ago. Families of some of the 228 people who died in the crash of Flight 447 have demanded that France not give up the hunt for the flight recorders -- and answers about what caused the crash.

Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Junior Transport Minister Thierry Mariani announced on Thursday plans for the fourth search starting in February. Their statement says the "best equipment currently available" will be used.

For more: France to hunt again for vanished Rio-Paris flight - BusinessWeek

Germany Dismisses European Plan to Double Emergency Bailout Fund - by Maurus Walker and Matthew Karnitschnig

European leaders sparred over whether to commit more funds to rescue struggling euro-zone countries, as financial-market pressure on the region's weakest economies intensified.

The European Union's executive arm, the Brussels-based EU Commission, floated a proposal on Wednesday to double the size of Europe's €440 billion ($588 billion) bailout fund for euro-zone governments, but the idea was dismissed by Germany, according to people familiar with the situation.

The disagreement between Brussels and Berlin comes amid growing fears that the crisis of investor confidence in euro-zone governments, which has already forced Greece and Ireland to seek international bailouts, could expand sooner or later to Portugal and Spain.

For more: Germany Dismisses European Plan to Double Emergency Bailout Fund - WSJ.com

USA - Thanksgiving 2010: In these hard times, are Americans thankful? - by Patrik Jonsson

A wavering economy, a polarized electorate, a future in fog. On the eve of Thanksgiving 2010, what’s there to be thankful for in America? As in the 1970s, the so-called “misery index” has risen in recent years as the deficit ballooned, incomes flattened, and a mortgage crisis put the dream of home ownership in jeopardy for millions. Yet nearly three years into a national economic crisis, there’s evidence in polling data that gratitude – the positive emotion that flows from the realization you’ve benefited from another’s deeds – is being embraced by Americans as a way to readjust their expectations and reevaluate their lives.

For more: Thanksgiving 2010: In these hard times, are Americans thankful? - CSMonitor.com

11/24/10

US Economy: Business economists see little change in 2011 - by Jeffry Bartash

n its latest survey, the National Association of Business Economists predicts the economy will expand at a 2.6% pace in 2011, down slightly from this year. The NABE upped its forecast for 2010 to 2.7% from 2.6%. Business economists say faster growth is likely to be sidetracked by high debts, a decline in government stimulus and lower business spending, among other things.

U.S. unemployment rate probably will hover above 9% all year. It now stands at 9.6%. “This will mark the weakest post-recession job recovery on record,” the NABE said.

For more: Business economists see little change in 2011 - MarketWatch

11/23/10

Euro licks wounds, finds support for now - by Hideyuki Sano

 The common currency ticked up on light buying back after Europe's inability to contain Ireland's debt woes had knocked it down 1.9 percent to as low as $1.3359 on electronic platform EBS.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the euro was in an "exceptionally serious" situation. Investors took aim at Spanish government bonds on Tuesday, driving the premium over German benchmarks to a euro lifetime high after Madrid was forced to pay a high cost to sell short-term bills.

 For more: Euro licks wounds, finds support for now | Reuters

The Netherlands: Wi-Fi Makes Trees Sick, Study Says

Radiation from Wi-Fi networks is harmful to trees, causing significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark, according to a recent study in the Netherlands.

All deciduous trees in the Western world are affected, according to the study by Wageningen University. The city of Alphen aan den Rijn ordered the study five years ago after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees that couldn't be ascribed to a virus or bacterial infection.

Additional testing found the disease to occur throughout the Western world. In the Netherlands, about 70 percent of all trees in urban areas show the same symptoms, compared with only 10 percent five years ago. Trees in densely forested areas are hardly affected.

For more: Wi-Fi Makes Trees Sick, Study Says - PCWorld Business Center

Fighting the "Currency War" - by Katharine Keenan

More than a dozen countries, including some of the largest, have been intervening in the foreign exchange markets to weaken their currencies. This raises fears of "currency wars" like those that devastated the world economy in the 1930s. A new study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics distinguishes sharply between those countries whose intervention is justified, because their currencies are already stronger than called for by the economic fundamentals, and those who are violating their international obligation to avoid "competitive devaluation" because their exchange rates are now substantially undervalued.

For more info: News Release: Fighting the "Currency War"

11/22/10

Philadelphia Marathon Winners From America (men) and Netherlands (women)

For the second year in a row, an American male athlete has won the Philadelphia Marathon  Daniel Vassallo, 25, from Mass. won the 17th Annual 2010 Philadelphia Marathon in 2:21.28 amidst around 11,000 runners on Nov. 21. His compatriot, David Bedoya, also from Mass., placed second at 2:23.37.

Mariska Kramer from the Netherlands won the women's field with a time of 2:38.55, followed by Ramilia Burangulova from Russia at 2:40.12. The top male and female finishers each received $3,500.

For more: Philadelphia Marathon Has Winners From America and Netherlands | United States | Epoch Times

11/21/10

France: French minister with new trophy wife feels the rage of a woman's revenge - by Matthew Campbell

The former wife of Eric Besson, France's immigration minister, has publicly skewered him as a shameless cradle-snatcher just as Nicolas Sarkozy, the President, was preparing to reshuffle his cabinet.

Mr Besson, 52, who left his wife for a woman less than half his age, is hated on the left for his defection from the Socialist party to Mr Sarkozy's camp.

The jilted wife's depiction of him as a shameless seducer does not discourage the national antipathy. “They tell the woman to be elegant when her husband betrays her,” said Sylvie Brunel, the former wife, in an interview with The Sunday Times. “But that means saying nothing. I've always preferred revolt. I will not stay quiet.”

Besides laying into the father of her three children, she also puts the boot into Yasmine, the sultry 24-year-old art student of north African origin whom Mr Besson ended up marrying.

For more: French minister with new trophy wife feels the rage of a woman's revenge | The Australian

The emerging China–EU space partnership: A geotechnological balancer - by Joan Johnson-Freese and Andrew S. Erickson

Through a techno-nationalist lens, this paper will assess the growing China–European Union (EU) space partnership, and its implications for international space cooperation and competition. Techno-nationalism (jishu minzuzhuyi), the idea that technological strength is an effective determinant of national power in a harshly competitive world, informs both Chinese and US perceptions of China's space development.

Using this lens elevates all space activities—manned, unmanned, military and scientific—to the strategic level. It is our contention that because of the increasing China–EU space partnership, the USA must re-evaluate its approach to China—away from the containment approach, which has thus far predominated, toward an approach which would offer the USA the opportunity to influence and, thereby, decrease the importance of the emerging partnership.
 
For more go to Sciverse

Ireland: Banks will be restructured as part of EU bail-out deal - by John Murray-Brown

Ireland’s banks will be restructured as part of a EU financial bail-out and the financial sector will “become significantly smaller” as the result, Brian Cowen, the prime minister, said on Sunday.

Mr Cowen and Brian Lenihan, finance minister, said a “deep restructuring” would be one of the two main elements of a bail-out led by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund requested by Dublin on Sunday.
For more: European News Headlines - FT.com

Al Qaeda Lays Out Demands to France - by David Gauthier-Villars

Al Qaeda's affiliate organization in North Africa has warned France that the release of five French hostages held in the Sahara desert depends on France's pulling its troops out of Afghanistan.

In an audio message, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—a group of Islamic militants who pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in early 2007—also said the release had to be negotiated directly with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a sign that the once-peripheral Maghreb group may be seeking to play a bigger role in global jihad.

The audio message was attributed to AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, also known as Abu Mossab Abdelouadoud, and broadcast late Thursday by Qatar-based news station al Jazeera. The five French nationals were kidnapped together with a Madagascan and a Togolese two months ago.

For more: Al Qaeda Lays Out Demands to France - WSJ.com

US Politics: "Party of No" (Republicans) Stubbornly Hobbling Congress in Last Few Weeks

One week into a lame-duck session, Democrats have been unable to gain traction on their top priorities, leaving them casting about for ways to avoid a year-end pileup of expired tax breaks, exhausted jobless benefits and federal agencies running out of money.

Republicans, who will take over the House in January and cut deeply into the Democratic majority in the Senate, appear content to do the minimum possible and push the big fights into the next year, when they will have more power and leverage. The Republicans say Democrats have only themselves to blame because they put off too many matters until after the election.

For more: "Party of No" Stubbornly Hobbling Congress in Last Few Weeks | AlterNet

Aviation deal clears way for emissions scheme - by Jennifer Rankin

A global deal on aviation pollution has removed a major obstacle to a European Union plan that will oblige airlines to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU agreed in 2008 that all flights taking off and landing in the Union would be included in the EU's emissions trading scheme from 2012. This meant that emissions from aviation would be capped and that airlines would have to buy some permits to pollute. But the law ran into trouble last year when US airlines launched a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice.

For more: Aviation deal clears way for emissions scheme | European Voice

11/20/10

EU: David Cameron’s Missed Opportunity to Reshape EU - Iain Martin - WSJ

David Cameron’s “I am a Euroskeptic, honestly” remarks in the aftermath of the EU summit last week were uttered in a plaintive tone. As though the prime minister realized that he had been rolled over by experts and no amount of spin about the EU budget could cover up the fact.

The attempt to present the securing of a 2.9% increase in the budget as a victory wasn’t wholly convincing. It’s the kind of figure Germany and France were always going to demand, against the 6% wanted by Europhile elements in the European Parliament.

But more intriguing — and more likely to cause Cameron trouble with the breed of younger Tory Euroskeptics in London that is currently displacing an old guard that doesn’t seem to have gotten very far advancing its cause in the last two decades — is the opportunity he has missed on reshaping the EU.

For more: David Cameron’s Missed Opportunity to Reshape EU - Iain Martin - WSJ

Netherlands: Geert Wilders Freedom Party loses five seats in latest poll

In the latest poll, the Political Barometer conducted by pollster Synovate, the Right-Wing party of Geert Wilders PVV has dropped from 30 to 25 seats compared to two weeks ago, but still has one more than in the 9 June elections. The Synovate poll was conducted after the parliamentary debate on PVV MP Eric Lucassen, but before Thursday’s announcement that his colleague James Sharpe had decided to resign.

Mr Lucassen was discredited when it emerged that, as an army instructor, he was convicted of indecent acts with two subordinates. In addition, some of his former neighbours have accused him of intimidation and violence.

Meanwhile, James Sharpe has admitted that he was in charge of the Hungarian telecom company Digitania when it received a record fine in 2008 for misleading customers. And a former girlfriend has accused him of physical and mental abuse.

For more: Freedom Party loses five seats in latest poll | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Dutch government attempts to ban sale of marijuana to tourists

The new conservative Dutch government wants to force the country's marijuana cafés to become "members only" clubs, in a move that would effectively block foreigners from buying the drug.

If the idea ever becomes reality – it would be legally complicated and politically divisive – it would be the latest of the country's liberal policies to be scrapped or curtailed as the Dutch rethink the limits of their famed tolerance.

While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold openly in designated cafés for decades, and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.

For more: Dutch government attempts to ban sale of marijuana to tourists - Telegraph

EC website hosts more than 14m European cultural items

Europe’s digital library, Europeana – a website that enables anyone to access millions of digitised books, maps, photographs and more from all cultural institutions across Europe - has increased in size to 14 million objects.
Initially targeted at providing around 10 million items, Europeana was set up to explore “new ways to bring Europe’s cultural heritage online”.

Set up in 2008, the service provides paintings, film and film fragments, music clips, books, maps, photographs, newspapers and audiovisual documents. More than 14 million are provided in total – an amount to which Ireland contributed 6.47pc (905,799 items).

For more: EC website hosts more than 14m European cultural items - Digital Life - Digital Life | siliconrepublic.com - Ireland's Technology News Service

11/19/10

NATO's Portugal meeting: Obama announces deal on missile defense system

President Obama said Friday that he has reached agreement with NATO allies to develop a missile defense shield that would protect Europe and the U.S.

The group immediately issued an invitation to Russia to participate, and top U.S. officials sounded confident that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev would react positively. Obama's point person at the summit in Lisbon said he thought the proposal would trigger a moment of cooperation between Russia and NATO.

For more: NATO's Portugal meeting: Obama announces deal on missile defense system - latimes.com

Germany reconsiders terror risk - by Stephen Evans

Security measures are being stepped up in Germany after Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there were clear indications of a terror plot targeting the country.

The minister has not given the specifics of whatever plot his security services think they now have information about, but he did bring different strands together.

Firstly, he said information had come from another country: "Since the middle of 2010, the security services have noticed increased indications that the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda has been planning attacks in the United States, in Europe and in Germany."

For more: BBC News - Germany reconsiders terror risk

The Obama Administration's European Agenda

When the Obama administration came into office, we made re-engaging with our European allies one of our top priorities. President Obama did so because he recognized that there is no better partner for the United States than Europe, where we work with democratic, prosperous, militarily-capable allies who share our values and share our interests. We face a daunting international agenda that cannot be handled by any one nation alone, and that is why we so often turn to Europe as our partner of first and best resort.

So, as we approach the two-year mark of this administration, it is useful and important to take a step back and take a look at where we stand. To that end, I’d like to do three things today. First, I’ll describe the strategic objectives which drive our approach toward Europe. Then, I’d like to offer you an assessment of our record over the past two years on these objectives. Finally, I’ll outline what we see to be the next steps to be in our engagement with Europe, with a particular emphasis on the four major summits the United States will participate in starting this week.

For more: Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks (November 2010)

11/18/10

Clinton critical of religious freedom in Europe

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Wednesday the state of religious freedom in Europe, as Washington highlighted policies and attitudes toward Muslim veils and Islam as a whole.

"Several European countries have placed harsh restrictions on religious expression," Clinton said, without elaborating as she unveiled the State Department's report on international religious freedom for the last year.

Her assistant secretary for human rights, Michael Posner, cited France's ban on wearing the niqab and other face coverings in public places and a Swiss motion passed last year that bans building new minarets.

Note EU-Digest: Since Mrs Clinton took the liberty to criticize the state of religious freedom in Europe she might also in all fairness do well in criticizing the state of religious freedom in some Muslim states like Saudi Arabia.


For more: Clinton critical of religious freedom in Europe

11/17/10

Norway: Chinese Response To Nobel Peace Prize: "Confucius Prize could be weapon in battle of ideas " - by Liu Zhiqin

"The Nobel Peace Prize Committee won Liu Xiaobo while losing the trust of 1.3 billion Chinese people. They support a criminal while creating 1.3 billion "dissidents" that are dissatisfied with the Nobel Committee, which is definitely a bad decision."

"In a recent editorial, the Global Times looked "forward to the Nobel Prize Committee that really belongs to the world." I am afraid this good wish will not be realized. At least we should not rely on the members of the Peace Prize Committee. We have suffered too much loss already."

Mr. Liu Zhiqin is the Beijing chief representative of Zurich Bank, Switzerland.

For more: Confucius Prize could be weapon in battle of ideas - GlobalTimes

Costa Rica: Sea Turtle Extinction -- Not Caused By Global Warming

We have just discovered why the sea turtle is going extinct and it is not as a result of global warming.

Turtle eggs are collected by Costaricans on Turtle breeding beaches and sold as a local delicacy. Shame on the Costa Rican government for not stopping this.

For more: JT IRREGULARS: Sea Turtle Extinction -- Not Caused By Global Warming

Medical Alert: "Super-Superbug" NDM-1 spreads in Europe

Some 77 cases of a multi-drug resistant "superbug" from India first reported in Britain in August have now been detected in 13 European countries, a scientist at the EU's disease watchdog said on Wednesday. NDM-1 is a gene carried by bacteria that alters them and makes then resistant to almost all known antibiotics. It can manifest itself in many different ways and is often found in bacteria like Klebsiella pneumonia and E-coli, both of which can cause urinary tract infections and pneumonia. U.S. health officials said at the same time that three cases had been detected in the United States.

Dominique Monnet of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said he was very worried by the emergence of NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, and other bugs like it that are resistant to even the most powerful class of antibiotics, known as carbapenems. "I know people are calling this NDM-1 a superbug, but for me NDM-1 and bacteria like it are more than superbugs. We're talking about super superbugs," Monnet said in a telephone interview from Stockholm, where the ECDC is based.

"For a long time... doctors in hospitals, especially in intensive care units, have relied on the carbapenems as the last line of antibiotic treatment. Now, for doctors facing a patient infected with a bacteria that is resistant to carbapenems, the options for treatment are limited."

For more: Super superbug NDM-1 spreads in Europe | Reuters

The Neocons are back: Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard

Did America win on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard or did America fail its Hegemonic designs for EURASIA?

The Neocon are inspired by the notion of a lone superpower asserting its might across the world and subscribed themselves to the Grand Chess Board ideology. The architect of this ideology was pivotal in Neocon policy making and writings.

The architect of this ideology is Zbigniew Brzezinski and there are many who subscribe to his ideology for American & ultimately the hegemony of EURASIA. For those who are not aware of who Zbigniew Brzezinski is, please look him up, a major player in International Politics and his kind have been known by a variety of secret names, Illuminati, New World Order, and a host of other secret and shrouded influential societies. Zbigniew Brzezinski a Harvard graduate was and no doubt still is a counselor to The Center for Strategic & International Studies. A Professor for American Foreign Policy at the acclaimed John Hopkins University. He was the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981). The Trustee and founder of the Trilateral Commission. Mr Brzezinski is also an International advisor of several major US/Global corporations.


For more: Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard « Rupee News

Ireland: EU-IMF troika heading to Dublin to oversee budget preparations - by Leigh Phillips

Ireland's fiscal sovereignty was hanging by a thread late on Tuesday evening (16 November) as eurozone finance ministers announced that EU and IMF overseers were to head to Dublin to supervise preparations for a fresh round of cuts for the next four years to ensure that they are as deep as necessary.

The non-eurozone UK is reportedly under pressure to contribute to any deal, given the heavy exposure of British banks in Ireland, particularly RBS, although Prime Minister David Cameron has recently voiced support for the idea of bilateral financial support for its one-time colony. Shares in UK financial institutions have slid over the past week as a result of the tumult.

The drafting of a new four-year austerity budget, which looks to ratchet up the level of cuts - bringing the total level up to €20.6 billion since the end of 2008, or 13 percent of GDP - has for all intents and purposes been removed from the province of the nation's elected representatives and passed over to a troika of officials who will head to the Irish capital on Thursday to take a magnifying glass to the document.

For more: EUobserver / EU-IMF troika heading to Dublin to oversee budget preparations

US Politics - the Neocons are back - Republican Opposition Dims US Hope for Arms Treaty With Russia - by Peter Baker

President Obama’s hopes of ratifying a new arms control treaty with Russia by the end of the year appeared to come undone on Tuesday as the chief Senate Republican negotiator moved to block a vote on the pact, one of the White House’s top foreign policy goals, in the lame-duck session of Congress.

The announcement by the senator, Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican point man on the issue, blindsided and angered the White House, which vowed to keep pressing for approval of the so-called New Start treaty. But the White House strategy had hinged entirely on winning over Mr. Kyl, and Democrats, who began scrambling for a backup plan, said they considered the chances of success slim.

The treaty, which would force both countries to pare back nuclear arsenals and resume mutual inspections that lapsed last year for the first time since the cold war, is the centerpiece of two of Mr. Obama’s signature goals: restoring friendly relations with Russia and putting the world on a path toward eventually eliminating nuclear arms. A failure to ratify the treaty could freeze both efforts and, some analysts said, undermine Mr. Obama’s credibility on the world stage. It would mean no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, and would sour a relationship that has helped open a new supply route to NATO troops in Afghanistan and increase pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.


For more: G.O.P. Opposition Dims Hope for Arms Treaty With Russia - NYTimes.com

EMU: Can the Euro survive? - by Lionel Barber

The charge sheet against Europe runs something like this: The EU is institutionally blocked, insular, and incapable of effective crisis management. Low growth Europe is in decline in relation to the rising powers of China, India, Brazil and other emerging market economies. To borrow Bob Rubin’s image, Europe is like a museum with splendid antique relics – to the left, the French room devoted to social solidarity; to the right; the German room devoted to metal bashing and mass manufacturing, and out in front, the Swedish room devoted to social democracy. In short, Europe looks politically and structurally incapable of adapting to the challenges of today, let alone tomorrow.

This to-and-fro suggests that in the short term the eurozone’s response will be to muddle through. Outsiders will find this particularly frustrating because they would prefer far neater solutions such as a fully fledged federal political construct to balance the federal monetary union. But for more than 50 years Europe has defied such categorization. Culture, history and the nation state have proved far too potent. European unity has existed through diversity.

For the complete report by Lionel Barber in the Financial Times click on: FT.com / Brussels / Economy - Can the Euro survive?

11/16/10

Finnish state church creates a 'prayer moment' for gay marriages

After years of debate, Finland's state church took a step towards accepting gay relationships with an announcement Friday it would create a "prayer moment" for registered partnerships. "The proposal offers a positive opportunity to minister to church members who are sexual minorities," the General Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church's highest administrative body, said in a statement.

The General Synod must now draw up a formula for a prayer that walks a fine doctrinal line, observers said. Lutheran ministers will now have the choice of performing the prayer with gay couples in a church, but it will not actually constitute a church's blessing of the union itself, synod spokesman Marko Kailasmaa told AFP.

The decision was approved, not without conflict, by the synod's representatives of ministers and bishops in a vote of 78 for and 30 against. The vote can be seen as a concession of sorts to a groundswell of popular support within the church community for Christian gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

For more: Finnish state church creates a 'prayer moment' for gay marriages

France Joins Germany Ganging Up on Bondholders to Share Pain - by Mark Deen and Francine Lacqua

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said investors must share the cost of sovereign debt restructurings, backing a German call that helped send yields on Irish and Portuguese bonds to record highs.

“All stakeholders must participate in the gains and losses of any particular situation,” Lagarde said during an interview yesterday in Paris for Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move” with Francine Lacqua. “There are many, many ways to address this point of principle.”

Irish 10-year bonds dropped for a 13th day, driving the yield up 19 basis points to 8.95 percent and the risk premium over benchmark German 10-year bunds to a record 652 basis points. Ten-year Portuguese yields rose 9 basis points to 7.27 percent, while Greek and Spanish bond yields also climbed.

For more: France Joins Germany Ganging Up on Bondholders to Share Pain - Bloomberg

Ireland Crises: EU Pressure Grows for Ireland to Accept Bailout - by Steven Erlanger and James Kanter

As Ireland tried to fend off pressure to accept a bailout on Tuesday and other European nations raised objections to participating in a rescue plan, Europe again found itself confronting a crisis of confidence in the euro and, ultimately, in its ability to manage its economic problems.

As European finance ministers met in Brussels to pressure a reluctant Ireland to accept an $80 billion financial rescue plan, the president of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, said that the union was “in a survival crisis.” Mr. Van Rompuy appealed for European solidarity, saying, “If we don’t survive with the euro zone, we will not survive with the European Union.”

The meeting ended Tuesday night with an agreement to “intensify” talks on salvaging the Irish banking sector if requested, buying Dublin a bit more time but pushing Ireland toward a bailout.

For more: Pressure Grows for Ireland to Accept Bailout - NYTimes.com

Ireland: Commodities sink on China, European concerns

Commodity prices are sinking amid concerns about inflation in China and European talks about bailing out Ireland. Some of the steepest declines came Tuesday in agriculture products and industrial metals. Traders are concerned that demand may diminish because of the developments in other countries.

China is releasing stockpiled pork and sugar to boost supplies in markets after the pace of inflation hit a 25-month high of 4.4 percent in October.

In Europe, finance leaders are working to solve Ireland's debt problems to try to prevent the crisis from spreading to other nations.

For more: Commodities sink on China, European concerns - BusinessWeek

Alternative Energy: Cost-competitive renewable energy within reach: says a Boston energy consulting group

ALMERE, the Netherlands, Solar Island

An International business advisory firm "Boston Consulting Group" released a report last Wednesday that examined seven key energy sectors. It projects dramatic gains for some in the short term, while others are expected to take much longer to expand

Conventional fossil fuels will keep their status as the main source of global energy for at least the next two decades, but some re-newables – such as biofuels, solar power and onshore wind – should soon be able to compete effectively without subsidies, according to a new study.

The report notes that much of the momentum toward renewables, built up in the years before the worldwide recession, was lost as energy prices fell, project financing declined and alternative energy companies saw their stock prices drop. Some sectors have since regained strength, and the report’s authors say it is now clear that ones that can be scaled up at reasonable prices will take a permanent position in the energy landscape.

Concentrated Solar: Systems that focus the sun’s energy to heat fluids, which are then used to generate electricity, are becoming competitive with conventional power generation. In areas with lots of sunlight and lots of room, it could be a significant electricity source by 2020. The energy can also be “stored” in the thermal fluids, then used when needed. Lack of transmission links could slow the roll-out.

Also in climatically colder areas solar power is gaining ground. One of the worlds largest solar energy  collector islands (see picture insert above) is located in Almere, the Netherlands, considered one of Europe's most avant-garde cities. A brand new city built on reclaimed land from the ocean with the first inhabitants settling there in 1976.  The Almere "Solar Island" started producing energy in June of this year and eventually will supply some 2700 homes with heat and hot water.

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US Economy: "How In The World Did We Get To The Point Where The Federal Reserve Is Printing Money Out Of Thin Air Whenever It Wants? " - by Michael Snyder

The Federal Reserve has more or less exhausted all of the other tools that it has traditionally used to help the economy during an economic downturn. As you can see from the chart below, the Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates during past recessions. The goal of lowering interest rates is to make it less expensive to borrow money and thus spark more economic activity. Well, as you can see, the Federal Reserve has no place else to go with interest rates. Over the past 30 years, rates have consistently been pushed down, down, down and now they are kissing the floor....


Another way that the U.S. economy has been "stimulated" over the past 30 years is through increased government spending. The theory is that if the government spends more money, that will get more cash into the hands of the people and spark more economic activity. That was the whole idea behind the "economic stimulus packages" that were pushed through Congress. However, increased government spending always comes at a very high cost under our current system. Government debt is now totally out of control.


11/15/10

Suriname: Trial or Surinamese president Bouterse moves to colonial fort where 15 opponents slain in 1982

The long-delayed murder trial of the Surinamese president and other officials in the country's former military dictatorship moved Monday to the colonial fort in the capital where they are accused of executing 15 political opponents in 1982.

Judges walked through the capital's waterfront Fort Zeelandia with a witness who has testified that President Desi Bouterse, at the time a soldier and the de facto leader of the dictatorship, was present when the activists were lined up and shot after being detained for hours in an open-air cell once used to hold slaves.

Journalists and members of the public were not allowed into the fort as the judges conducted the hearing, the first outside of a court since the trial began in November 2007.

Bouterse, who was elected president in a parliamentary vote in July, was not required to attend and spent the morning at his office, several hundred meters (yards) away, accepting the diplomatic credentials of the country's new Cuban and French ambassadors.

For more: The Canadian Press: Trial or Surinamese president moves to colonial fort where 15 opponents slain in 1982

After Fed boost, global woes hit Wall Street

Wall Street's confidence has taken a hit after losses over the past week with investors fretting over the European and Chinese economies in the aftermath of the Federal Reserve's new stimulus package.

Traders turned to some profit taking following a spectacular rally on the back of the Federal Reserve's decision to pump 600 billion dollars into the markets in a bid to boost the US economic recovery.

Next week will see a slew of economic indicators that will once again offer investors a glimpse of the health of the US economy, including retail sales, consumer prices index, housing data and jobless claims.

For more: AFP: After Fed boost, global woes hit Wall Street

The Netherlands: Rightwinger Wilders speaks from two sides of his mouth and givies his party MP a second chance, despite sexual convictions

Geert Wilders has decided not to expel MP Eric Lucassen from the party, despite his criminal convictions, the PVV leader said in a statement on Monday afternoon.


Last week it emerged Lucassen has a conviction for sexually abusing a female army recruit while he was a sergeant and has been accused of threatening and intimidating his neighbours.

In his statement, Wilders stressed Lucassen has not been convicted of threatening behaviour. Lucassen has admitted being fined twice for 'breaking the law' and was found guilty of sexual offences in 2002. The statement did not give any details about the two fines.

Note EU-Digest: Mr. Wilders who in public has said that people who have been convicted should not be allowed to be public servants contradicts himself when it came to one of his own party members. 


For more: DutchNews.nl - Geert Wilders gives controversial MP a second chance, despite convictions

Greek PM: German proposals put squeeze on debt-laden countries

As Greece learned on Monday that its massive budget deficit was even bigger than expected in 2009, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has renewed calls for a pan-European crisis mechanism that would help prevent future debt crises and protect the euro single currency.

"Everything is at stake - if the euro fails, Europe will fail," she told delegates at the Christian Democrats' party convention, where she was reelected as head of her party. "We need a new culture of stability in Europe," she added.

She even went so far as to criticize her predecessor, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder, for giving his consent for Greece to join the eurozone, calling it "irresponsible".

Note EU-Digest: Mrs. Merkel is totally right: Europe needs a new culture of stability.

For more: Greek PM: German proposals put squeeze on debt-laden countries | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 15.11.2010

11/14/10

Ireland: Dermot Ahern says bailout reports a 'fiction'

The Minister for Justice has described as 'fiction' the speculation that Ireland is about to seek financial aid from the European Union. Dermot Ahern told RTÉ's The Week in Politics, to be broadcast tonight, that 'nothing is going on at the direction of Government in relation to this.'

He said that because of the general issue in relation to the euro currency, the Government would be part of any discussions with their European partners.

For more: Dermot Ahern says bailout reports a 'fiction' - RTÉ News

11/13/10

EU official rejects Turkey as venue for Iran talks - by Glenn Kessler

The European Union's foreign policy chief has accepted Iran's proposal to meet Dec. 5 but has rejected Istanbul as a venue, according to a copy of the letter seen by The Washington Post.

The exchange is the latest in a lengthy debate over when and where to hold talks between Iran and six nations eager to negotiate restraints on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran earlier this week proposed holding the talks on Nov. 23 or Dec. 5 in Turkey, but that would have meant that Turkish officials would host the event and presumably join in. The countries now involved in the long-stalled talks -- the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- are wary of adding another to the mix at this point.

For more: Checkpoint Washington - EU official rejects Turkey as venue for Iran talks

11/12/10

France: Sarkozy makes first trip on controversial new jet to G20 meeting

French President Nicolas Sarkozy made his first trip aboard his new official plane on Thursday as he headed to South Korea for the G20 summit after attending the French 11 November ceremonies on Thursday. Dubbed Air Sarko One, the new jet features a double bedroom, an air-conditioned smoking room and an anti-missile system.

The Airbus A330-200, has a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom immediately behind the cockpit. This links to a private office where an air filter system allows the president to smoke cigars.There is also a conference room, a high-tech communications room and a small operating room

For more: BBC News - Sarkozy makes first trip on controversial new jet

G20 : Agreement to disagree - communique: the text in full

For the complete official text of the G20 final communique held in Seoul, click on the text below.

G20 communique: the text in full | Business | guardian.co.uk

Europe Tells Broadband Customers to Swap ISPs if Skype Gets Blocked

The European Commission (EC), fresh from finding a "near consensus" on the importance of "preserving an open internet" (Net Neutrality) earlier in the week, has told consumers that the best way to make sure that Mobile Broadband operators and ISPs continue to treat all internet traffic as equal is for them to change provider when a service is blocked.

For more; Europe Tells Broadband Customers to Swap ISPs if Skype Gets Blocked − ISPreview UK

Aircraft Industry: Airbus Blowout Traced to Rolls-Royce Engine Oil Fire

An engine explosion on an Airbus SAS A380 operated by Qantas Airways Ltd. was probably caused by an oil fire in one of the plane’s four Rolls-Royce Group Plc Trent 900 turbines, the European Aviation Safety Agency said.

The fire may have caused the disintegration of the engine’s intermediate pressure turbine disc, according to an emergency airworthiness directive published last night by EASA instructing operators to check for “abnormal oil leakage” in all Trent 900s.

“This condition, if not detected, could ultimately result in uncontained engine failure, potentially leading to damage to the aeroplane and hazards to persons or property on the ground,” EASA said in the directive. The discovery of any discrepancy should “prohibit further engine operation,” the regulator said.

For more: Airbus Blowout Traced to Rolls-Royce Engine Oil Fire - Bloomberg

11/11/10

All Dreamliners Grounded: Boeing unsure whether cabin fire will delay 787 delivery

A Boeing 787 made an emergency landing Tuesday in Laredo, Texas, after the fire broke out in the rear electronics bay. In that area, the airplane is not equipped with fire suppression equipment. Instead, the bay is outfitted with nonflammable materials including fire-retardant blankets, Fancher said. The 787 lost primary electrical power but the backup emergency power unit, called the ram air turbine, functioned as designed, he said.

A power control panel is at the heart of Boeing's investigation into the source of the fire, which caused smoke to waft into the cabin of the second 787 test plane.

“It's too early to answer” whether the incident will lead to a delay in delivery of the first 787 expected in February, said Scott Fancher, vice president of Boeing's 787 program. Boeing's 787 program is already running almost three years behind schedule.

For more: Snohomish County Business Journal: All dreamliners grounded - Boeing unsure whether cabin fire will delay 787 delivery

Turkey’s challenge to Old Europe - by Philip Stephens

Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul was in London this week. He picked up the prestigious Chatham House prize from the Queen and had talks with David Cameron. In between, he gave a couple of speeches about Islam, democracy and the world order and dropped in at the Financial Times."

For more: "Turkey’s challenge to Old EuropeFT.com / Columnists / Philip Stephens

European Union to spend euro 1 trillion in energy projects

Europe's top energy official Wednesday unveiled a strategy to spend about euro 1 trillion ( US 1.4 trillion) over the next decade on a common EU energy network to help blaze a trail into the new energy age.

Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the investment is needed to ensure security of supply, fair competition and a sustainable energy mix across the 27-member body. The strategy will include incentives to save energy in buildings and infrastructure as well as fast-tracking key infrastructure projects.

The euro 1 trillion would come from a combination of industry cash and taxes, and to a much lesser degree, from EU funding. Brussels is expected to commit cash to selected transnational pipeline and power grid projects in its infrastructure strategy, to be unveiled next week.

For more: Wall Street Journal: European Union to spend euro 1 trillion in energy projects

11/10/10

Global Warming: Bank Tax, CO2 Auctions Recommended by Soros Panel to Help Climate Efforts - by Alex Morales and Tim Efstathiou

At least $65 billion might be raised by taxing foreign-exchange transactions and auctioning pollution permits, a United Nations panel said today in a report recommending ways to finance aid for fighting global warming.

The panel, which includes billionaire investor George Soros and Larry Summers, director of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, said selling carbon-emissions permits would generate $38 billion and a financial transactions tax an additional $27 billion, according to the report released today.

The findings are intended to guide envoys at UN climate talks that start this month in Mexico as they seek ways to pay for $100 billion in climate aid that was pledged by 2020 to poor nations at last year’s summit in Copenhagen. The report found that the goal is “challenging but feasible” to achieve.

For more: Bank Tax, CO2 Auctions Recommended by Soros Panel to Help Climate Efforts - Bloomberg

'Euro-hop' music invades America - by Charlie Amter

Blame it on the French if you must, but 2010 may well go down as the year mainstream America went not just Europop, but "Euro-hop."

Four out of Billboard's Top 20 singles this week bear the hallmarks of an unmistakable new Eurodance-meets-urban sound that is all but taking over Top 40 and urban radio.

It's a club-influenced soundtrack for teens and 20-somethings filled with sparkling synth hooks and throbbing beats more Berlin than Baltimore, yet Middle America can't get enough.

For more: 'Euro-hop' music invades America - CNN.com

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Germany: Merkel slams US ahead of G20 summit

Before heading to meet fellow world leaders in Seoul, South Korea, Merkel warned that the recent decision by the US Federal Reserve to pump $600 billion to prop up America’s fragile economy could have unintended consequences.

"Nobody has an interest in creating new bubbles. Instead, we must see to it that growth in the global economy this year is more sustainable and enduring that we had a few years ago," Merkel told reporters.

Critics argue that the Fed's "quantitative easing" stimulus amounts to an effective dollar devaluation, and has the potential to trigger a 1930s-style trade war if other countries respond in kind.

Note EU-Digest: It is interesting to note that all EU countries which copied the US economic philosophy, which basically comes down to "laissez fair economics", with as little controls as possible, are experiencing serious economic problems   In Europe these include many of the former Eastern bloc countries, Britain, Ireland. Spain, and to a certain extend Italy.

For more: Merkel slams US ahead of G20 summit - The Local

Germany: OHBs Sales Rise on Galileo and Weather Satellite Work - by Peter Seiting

German satellite and rocket-component manufacturer OHB Technology on Nov. 9 reported 50 percent increases in revenue and backlog on the strength of its contract to build 14 of Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites, and said its expected work on a European meteorological satellite program has increased to well over 300 million euros ($420 million).

For more: OHBs Sales Rise on Galileo and Weather Satellite Work | SpaceNews.com

EU Council President Van Rompuy concerned at growing EU nationalism - by Arthur Beesley

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has expressed his concern about increasing nationalism in the EU, saying Euroscepticism was no longer “the monopoly” of a few countries.

In a speech last night in Berlin in which he argued against protectionist tendencies, he made the case that there were people in every member state who believed their own countries could survive alone in the globalised world.

“It is more than an illusion: it is a lie,” he said as he cited Franklin Roosevelt’s expression that the only thing to fear was fear itself.

Praising the “exceptional” role of German chancellor Angela Merkel in the debt crisis, he said the European authorities had more pressing matters to hand than to reopen the entire internal debate on the nature, the goal and the architecture of the union. Mr Van Rompuy also argued against recent proposals from European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso for the development of own-resource taxation by the EU institutions. Redesigning the way the EU secured its revenue was not a priority, he said.

For more: Van Rompuy concerned at growing EU nationalism - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 10, 2010

11/9/10

US Economy: Bernanke Ignores Basic Laws of Economics - John Tamny

Eager to justify his latest dose of "quantitative easing" (QE) amid increasing skepticism even in Washington where the false concept of getting something for nothing is religion, Bernanke proclaimed that lower interest rates wrought by QE will increase stock prices on the way to more consumer wealth and confidence. According to our Fed Chairman, this might boost spending, and "Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion." One can't make this up.

But if the sentient among us could climb inside Bernanke's dopey dreams for a moment a la the film Inception, we might insert the part about production preceding demand so as to make his Utopian visions in the middle of the night whole. In Bernanke's case, it's apparent that he always wakes up before the production aspect enters his incomplete picture. Absent it, the increased demand that Bernanke presumes is no such thing. That's the case because the wealth effect that he naively believes to exist is non-existent.

As a result, Americans and the world will continue to suffer a Fed head that, with every utterance shows how very unequal he is to his job. A self-proclaimed expert on the 1930s, Bernanke continues to intervene in the economy despite clear lessons from that decade showing that government intervention then turned what should have been a brief downturn into a Great Depression.

For more: Bernanke Ignores Basic Laws of Economics | Value Expectations by The Applied Finance Group

G20: US declares financial war on world

There is no possibility of agreement at the upcoming G20 summit because the U.S. is declaring financial war on other countries, believes American economist Michael Hudson. The U.S. has been pushing China to revalue its currency – at a time when Washington has been pumping billions of dollars into its economy – a move viewed by other countries as an attempt to deliberately weaken the greenback.

The issue of exchange rates is expected to be one of the toughest discussion points at the G20 summit in South Korea later this week.

Michael Hudson, a renowned economist and Wall Street financial analyst and advisor, says the meeting in Seoul will not bring an end to global currency wars.

For more: US declares financial war on world - economist - Politics — RT

IMF says UK spending cuts will be tough to deliver  - by Peter Griffiths

The government's plans for deep public spending cuts to help wipe out a record deficit will be tough to implement and could strain services, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday. Skip related content

In an update to its annual health-check of the UK economy, the IMF said the government must keep a close eye on how the cuts hit the most vulnerable people in society. Chancellor George Osborne set out plans last month to cut spending by 80 billion pounds to help bring down a budget deficit of 11 percent of GDP.

Half a million public sector jobs are expected to be lost, the retirement age will rise and welfare payments will be slashed as part of the austerity package.

For more: IMF says UK spending cuts will be tough to deliver - Yahoo! News UK

U.S. Women Dominate at MTV Europe Music Awards - TIME NewsFeed

With the ladies leading the way, the 2010 MTV Europe Music Awards kicked off in the Spanish capital of Madrid last night. 46 million voters favored the girls, as the nominees for best female dominated the charts, but once again it was Lady Gaga who stole the show winning best pop category and best song for Bad Romance. Although the queen bee wasn't there to accept the awards in person, she still accepted in style via video link from Budapest, Hungary, where she is on tour. The superheroesque styled super-star saluted her fans saying "Europe, I love you."

For more: U.S. Women Dominate at MTV Europe Music Awards - TIME NewsFeed

Turkey and EU need each other says Greens’ Cohn-Bendit

If Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is untalkative about his country’s candidature to become an EU member, Daniel Cohn-Bendit might be one of its best Janissaries. The co-president of the European Parliament’s Green group was in Istanbul recently, to try to reanimate the adhesion process, which has been showing signs of running out of steam. Yet the Greens still feel Turkey has a full place in Europe. euronews interviewed Cohn-Bendit in Istanbul.

For more: euronews - Turkey and EU need each other says Greens’ Cohn-Bendit

11/8/10

Rolls-Royce says it made progress understanding cause of engine failure on Airbus 380

Rolls-Royce says it has made progress in understanding the cause of the engine failure that led Qantas to ground its fleet of Airbus A380s. "It is now clear this incident is specific to the Trent 900 engine," the firm said in a statement, referring to the model of engine in the Qantas A380s.

Rolls-Royce said a "series of checks and inspections" had been agreed with Airbus operators of the Trent 900 powered A380 and relevant authorities. "These are being progressively completed which is allowing a resumption of operation of aircraft in full compliance with all safety standards," the firm reported.

Rolls-Royce's statement follows the unexplained blast which sent parts of an engine raining down on an Indonesian island soon after flight QF32 took off from Singapore last week.

For more: Financial News | Orange UK

Insurance Industry: AIG Posts $2.4 Billion As Asset Sales Pick Up

AIG posted a $2.4 billion third-quarter loss Friday as it continued to divest business units, write down assets and repay bailout loans from the U.S. government.The insurer loss of $2.4 billion loss, or $17.62 per share, compares with a profit of $455 million, or 68 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2009.

For More: AIG Posts $2.4 Billion As Asset Sales Pick Up - Forbes.com

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Older Americans Less Healthy Than English Counterparts, But They Live as Long or Longer

Older Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, but they live as long or even longer than their English peers, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Researchers found that while Americans aged 55 to 64 have higher rates of chronic diseases than their peers in England, they died at about the same rate. And Americans age 65 and older -- while still sicker than their English peers -- had a lower death rate than similar people in England, according to findings published in the journal Demography. The paper was co-authored by James Banks and Alastair Muriel of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and James P. Smith, distinguished chair in labor markets and demographic studies at RAND.

"If you get sick at older ages, you will die sooner in England than in the United States," Smith said. "It appears that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England."

For more: Insurance News - Older Americans Less Healthy Than English Counterparts, But They Live as Long or Longer

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US November elections: Obama's Biggest Mistake: Selling Out to the Bankers - by James K. Galbraith

The original sin of Obama’s presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke. These men had no personal commitment to the goal of an early recovery, no stake in the Democratic Party, no interest in the larger success of Barack Obama. Their primary goal, instead, was and remains to protect their own past decisions and their own professional futures.

The banks threw a party. Reported profits soared, as did bonuses. With free funds, the banks could make money with no risk, by lending back to the Treasury. They could boom the stock market. They could make a mint on proprietary trading. Their losses on mortgages were concealed -- until the fact came out that they’d so neglected basic mortgage paperwork, as to be unable to foreclose in many cases, without the help of forged documents and perjured affidavits.

What about new loans? The big banks had given up on that. They no longer did real underwriting. And anyway, who could qualify? Businesses mostly had no investment plans. And homeowners were, to an increasing degree, upside-down on their mortgages and therefore unqualified to refinance. These facts were obvious to everybody, fueling rage at “bailouts.” They also underlie the economy’s failure to create jobs. What usually happens (and did, for example, in 1994 - 2000) is that credit growth takes over from Keynesian fiscal expansion. Armed with credit, businesses expand, and with higher incomes, public deficits decline. This cannot happen if the financial sector isn’t working.

Geithner, Summers and Bernanke should have known this. One can be fairly sure that they did know it. But Geithner and Bernanke had cast their lots, with continuity and coverup. And Summers, with his own record of deregulation, could hardly have complained.

Note EU-Digest: the solution to the economic crises would probably be to get rid of Geithner and Bernanke, but the problem is that with the Republicans in charge of Congress it would be difficult to get Congress to accept a more progressive financial team which has the interest of all the Americans in mind rather than just the financial and banking sector. The long term outlook for the US economy therefore does not look very hopeful.

For more: Obama's Biggest Mistake: Selling Out to the Bankers | | AlterNet

Europe Takes Up Debate on Universal Internet Access - by Kevin O'Brien

The global debate over how access to the Internet should be determined and paid for has attracted free speech advocates, telephone network operators and big online businesses like Google and Facebook. This week, arguments over so-called network neutrality move to Brussels, where the European Commission and Parliament are holding a daylong meeting that is expected to draw speakers from industry, government and academia.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) attempted this year to bar operators — telecommunications and cable companies that offer connections to the Internet — from selectively managing the data flowing over their networks to assure that all customers got adequate service. The FTC tried to prohibit their extracting payment from big traffic generators like Google, but the proposal is bogged down in legal challenges. In Europe, the debate is not as far along, but the outcome is equally clouded. In the absence of new regulation, Europe appears to be on track to give mobile network operators a relatively free hand in managing the data flowing over their networks. That could include the imposition of additional charges on voice-over-Internet service rivals like Skype and others.

So far, only the French regulator, Arcep, has released a set of 10 principles it believes should guide operators’ behavior. In general, it recommended that Internet users be guaranteed the right to send and receive information of their choice and to use the applications and services they want, as long as they do not harm the network. Operators could suppress damaging Internet behavior, Arcep said, as long as the actions taken adhered to principles of relevance, proportionality, nondiscrimination, efficiency and transparency. 

Note EU-Digest: Corporations Must Keep Their Hands Off The Free Movement Of Information Over The Internet And Refrain From Any form of Financial Exploitation Of  The Internet Which Hampers Or Restricts The Free Flow Of Information.

For more: Europe Takes Up Debate on Universal Internet Access - NYTimes.com

11/7/10

VW China Seeks Electric-Car Sales as Nissan, GM Add Models

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest carmaker, plans to build and sell 10,000 electric cars in China from 2014 to 2018 as rivals add more fuel-efficient vehicles in the world’s biggest automarket.

The German company will produce an electric model at local ventures with SAIC Motor Corp. and FAW Group Corp. as early as 2013 and is considering a battery-powered model specifically designed for the nation in 2018, said Karl-Thomas Neumann, president of Volkswagen Group China, at a conference on electric vehicles in Shenzhen, China yesterday.

Volkswagen, the first overseas automaker to enter the Chinese market three decades ago, joins Nissan Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Daimler AG in planning electric vehicles in the country. While local demand for electric cars and hybrids trails other markets, China is offering buyers of plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars subsidies of as much as 60,000 yuan ($9,000) to help cut pollution and reduce oil dependency.
 
For more: VW China Seeks Electric-Car Sales as Nissan, GM Add Models - BusinessWeek

11/6/10

Italy:Sex and the Italian PM: Why Silvio Berlusconi is still standing

The latest revelations for Berlusconi are significantly more serious, because they involve something other than mere sex and money, and Mr Berlusconi's government is suffering real damage.

First, in what has inevitably been called "Rubygate" after the stage name of Karima El Mahroug, the dancer who entertained at private parties, it emerged that Mr Berlusconi's office had telephoned Milan police in May after she was arrested and accused of theft.  He allegedly ordered the police to release her, despite the fact that she was a minor with no proper documents, on the false grounds that her grandfather was Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.

In Italian grand opera, the heroine takes half an hour to die; in the Grand Soap Opera which is Berlusconi's Italy, the government will take half a year, or more, finally to collapse.

For more: Why Silvio Berlusconi is still standing - Telegraph